Sunday, August 26, 2018

Artists Paint the Town in Danville, Indiana, 2018

Heavy rains and thunderstorms showed up the morning of Danville's first official paint-out.  As I'm loading up the car in the early morning hours and getting drenched while doing so, I'm having a conversation in my head about it.

"Why are you doing this?  This weather is ridiculous.  Go back to bed."
"Because something good might come from this.  Other artists don't wimp out over the weather, so suck it up and go."   And so, despite knowing that rain water and oil paint do not mix well,  I went.

The Gallery on the Square (GOTS) hosted this event.  Flory Phillips, Joan Kisner, and Pamela Halliburton greeted artists in the Train Station building in Ellis Park with hot coffee and doughnuts.  Weather-resilient plein-air painters, plus me, launched into the scenic spots of beautiful Danville with our canvases stamped and our maps in-hand.

This photo was obviously taken in the afternoon when the weather was better.

I had scouted around town a bit the day before.  I had an idea about where I might go.  But, since I am not equipped to paint outdoors in a torrential downpour, I drove around looking for good interiors that I might be able to pull off.  After wandering around town in bewilderment, I did end up at the Danville library in hopes of some cool interior architecture.

I found a very kind librarian named Debbie Garvey on the 2nd floor who gave me permission to paint in there, and shared with me some history on the building.  She suggested the "Indiana Room" where local residents can comb through old Hendricks County records in their genealogy research.  The Indiana Room has a beautiful fireplace and mantle that served as a heat source in the original Carnegie library building.

These beautiful gargoyle carvings immediately grabbed my interest.  The wood was imported from Germany, and the green tile was from Italy, back in the day.  I set up my gear and gave it a go.

The start.

Work in progress.

When the timer in my stomach said "times up!"

By 2:30 pm, I was finished (am I ever really finished with a painting?) and quite hangry (hungry/angry), so I packed up and headed out (the sun was shining finally) for some food and then back to the Train Station to frame it and turn it in.

"Indiana Room Overseer"           12" x 9"         Oil on panel
Frank's Place, a wonderful local Italian restaurant, donated several delicious pizzas and breadsticks to the event for the artists and their family members to enjoy.  We were also treated to homemade cookies and drinks.  A judge looked the artworks over, and we all voted on the People's Choice award.  Donna Nolan Sanders, a local artist in GOTS, did an amazing speed-painting performance.

She painted this 5 ft canvas in less than 10 minutes, set to patriotic music.  So impressive and tons of fun to watch.

Awards were announced, and the winners received some nice prize money.  GOTS put on a wonderful event for the participants.  I really appreciated the opportunity to come out and play!  Thanks to the library staff for helping me find my subject, to GOTS for all of their hard work, and to all the donors who gave money for the awards.

I did not win an award, but I'm told that the judge wanted to give 4 more awards out to some deserving paintings, mine being one of them.  She told Joan that she thought I was creative to choose that subject on a rainy day, and to look inside for inspiration.  That was a very encouraging thing to hear.

I'm so glad I pushed myself out the door that morning. Good things did result from my NOT wimping out.  Besides meeting some truly kind and wonderful people...  Debbie at the library expressed an interest in having me do a solo exhibition there early next year!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Chicago day trip to see John Singer Sargent

Gushing over the paintings of old masters is what I and many of my artist friends love to do.  Portrait artists are well-acquainted with the work of this American painter, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).  While there have been many amazing portrait artists through the generations, he was a top artist of his generation.  He was a maestro with the brush, and he painted many famous and wealthy patrons, as well as fellow artists and working-class paid models. 

This one of James Whitcomb Riley is at The Indianapolis Art Museum (Newfields):

Here are a few of my Sargent favorites (not necessarily in the Chicago show):

A group of us loaded into a van (thanks for driving, Kim Thomson!) on 8/9/18 and headed to the Art Institute of Chicago to see this exhibition of his work (see this short video created by the museum):


This show was wonderful!  There is nothing like standing in front of these paintings.  Such a precious piece of history!  Many of them are life-size, and his subjects are fascinating.   I could go on and on about his style of painting but I will do my best to be brief.  But just look at this close up of a boy's foot...
He can paint a shoe with just a couple of perfectly placed dashes of color. 

I was most excited because I could see a Zorn palette of colors over an initial red undertone, just as I recently did in my own mother's portrait!  I never imagined that he had ever started his painting on a red ground, but there it was, peaking all around that shoe!!  I really nerded out over this.
Me at the opening reception for the Hoosier Salon 2018 Annual Exhibition
My friend Stephanie and I had our sketchbooks ready and did some sketching at the show. 
Copying a master work, even certain portions of it, is an excellent lesson. You may think you have studied an artwork closely, but if you take the time to copy it, you can uncover a whole new layer of information. In my sketch, I was imitating his use of line. I felt a connection to what his thoughts and decisions might have been at the moment he drew this hand. I could almost imagine it in video. I need to do this WAY more often!

Another venue we packed into our day was the Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts.   

This organization has a rich history going back 115 years.  Here is one borrowed photo from their website:
Look at all these MEN artists!  Such were the times then.
 Here is that same room now (music added later):

This is the 3rd floor of P&C.  Artists gather here to paint from live models or to take classes and workshops.  We are already discussing a day to return to this historic studio to pay our $20 and paint from a live model for 3 hours.  Sure, we can do this in Indy as well, but how cool to do it at the Palette & Chisel!  If I lived in Chicago, this would be my hang out for sure!

Thank you to Daralyn for showing us around, and for allowing us to tour your own studio there on the 2nd floor!  It was a pleasure to meet you!