Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Demo And Dialog- ASLD at Whole Foods

May 21, representing the Art Students League of Denver, I did a Demo and Dialog at the Whole Foods Market in Capitol Hill, Denver, for an audience of about 30 people.

It was my first outdoor painting experience of the season - sort of a "warm-up for my Plein Air class that begins June 1 through the ASLD.

Demonstrating , to me, is always fraught with anxiety. It's not that I'm shy about speaking to groups - I'm not. And I enjoy showing my set up for Plein Air, because it's a bit different than that used by most artists. A Feather-Lite easel, a Pac-Seat stool, a small Masterson palette with a sponge. etc. But each time I begin a painting, I try to forget all that I know and begin a-fresh, seeking some connection with my subject unlike my previous work. I don't have rules. I don't have a standard way to begin - things I do first, or after. I enjoy the freshness a struggle often imparts to my work, and an occasional discovery of a new way of working. But I do look for something that moves me, and occasionally try to clarify what that "something" is. No surrounding city-scape, visible from my painting location and which was supposed to be the subject of my demo on the Whole Foods patio, inspired me.

So I just dove into a painting of the vegetable plants, and soon was as lost as my students frequently seem. The drawing kept changing, the colors wouldn't work spatially, the air was dry and my paints kept drying too. I had two hours, an audience, and an ego that wanted to produce a recognizable, balanced, well composed image.

My solution was to do a new painted line drawing in a dark color over my unstructured mess. The results, which pleased me, are above.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Fibonacci Garden, Almost

Our backyard is surrounded by trees, creating shade so complete that to grow anything , I need to beg and plead. Even hostas think this deep shade too unwelcoming, and refuse to grow. Painting vegetables and flowers is so much easier than growing them!

So when the grass next to our driveway (in the front of our home) died from too much sun and a lack of water, I began to plan our container vegetable garden.

I found concrete planter blocks at a garden supply store which I used to create raised containers, hoping that passing canine friends would leave their messages elsewhere. These were placed directly on the soil, and surrounded by rocks. I chose a pattern of fibonacci numbers, placing the blocks in groups of 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 - although the store ran out of my blocks and I'll need to wait a few more weeks to complete the "8" group.

Fibonacci numeric sequences are found in so many growing things, from cactae, artichokes and sunflowers to the human body. The golden ratio of 1 to 1.618, from which the fibonacci sequence derives, is the beauty defining ratio in the history of art, and both have frequently inspired my paintings. What better design inspiration for my first vegetable growing endeavor in many years?

So now the plants are in the ground, the seeds sewn, and I'm crossing my fingers that all is not washed away by the rain that has been a constant all day.