"Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working,"
- Pablo Picasso
A well said statement, and I couldn't agree more. I believe that what he is trying to convey is that inspiration, while energizing and certainly the catalyst for many creative works of art, is not something that just happens upon us on a whim, well, most of the time. The myth that artists just sit around waiting for something to pop into their heads has long been fed by subscribers to the "starving artist" mentality. As an artist, if I were to wait for something to hit me over the head in the form of inspiration, I would get very little work done.
Instead, I find that showing up every day, going out and finding things that inspire is much more energizing, adventurous, and productive than waiting for something to just generate organically. If you look close enough, you can find inspiration in very simple things that are found in everyday life, and the right light can turn anything into compelling subject matter for me.
From people gathering, to cityscapes and architecture, to choreographed shadows on a buildings' facade, what happens at the easel is my interpretation of these things, and where inspiration begins to unfold in the form of a composition.
So, with that being said, I'll grab my cup of joe, and head into the workplace.
My (mostly) tidy studio...ready to tackle the day ahead. Because I work with pastels, cleaning up at the end of each day is important or my studio becomes a dust bowl!
If you live anywhere near the northeast, you are probably wondering if spring will ever arrive. At least that is how I've been feeling lately with one nor'easter after another. A brief vacation to a warmer place gave only temporary respite from this downright cold and dreary weather. But, all is not lost as I step into my studio each day, I can forget about the snow covering my windows and just escape by living vicariously through the places I paint.
When I am not painting work for shows and exhibitions, I'm hard at work creating memorable house portrait paintings for my clients. Most, if not all of my house portrait paintings are from reference photos I take during the warmer months that showcase my clients homes in the best light, both literally and figuratively. I enjoyed painting this home because of its beautiful yellow color and lots of green grass...just what one needs to see everyday during the dead of winter. Roses in bloom, full foliage, and of course, some beloved pets as well. So, as I wait for spring to make its official entrance, I will continue to paint the things I love.
As we enter the week of Thanksgiving, it becomes time again to remind ourselves for all we have to be thankful. As I look forward to being surrounded by family, friends, and of course lots of food, I would also like to reflect on the many blessings I have had throughout the year...as a full time working artist!
I was honored to have achieved Signature Member status with the Pastel Society of America. This sets the bar very high for an artist and I will continue to work hard at my craft to honor this distinction.
I had the privilege of working with many new clients this year through commission work and found each one to be a rewarding experience. House portraits, travel portraits, and other projects have been in abundance this year and for this, I am thankful!
This year offered many opportunities to show my work in prestigious shows throughout the Northeast, including New York, Connecticut, and Cape Cod, as well as with national organizations such as the American Artists Professional League, Audubon Artists, and The Salmagundi Club.
Another exhibition to be held at the Butternut Gallery where several of my pieces will be exhibited from November 25 - December 23, 2017. This will be the last exhibition for the gallery at its current location and I have been fortunate to have had them represent my work.
At a recent outdoor art show that I participated in, someone approached my booth, pointed to one of my paintings and said “I know that place…is that a house in Maine?” When I told them that it was actually a painting from my neighborhood in Pennsylvania, they seemed perplexed, almost certain that they were familiar with that home and its location. Someone else stopped by and said of another painting, “That painting feels like New England.” It was actually from the Jersey Shore, but it resonated with someone, and that is the goal behind my work as an artist. It’s not about where the painting originates so much as how people feel and react when they view it.
It’s no secret that I love painting architecture in the landscape, especially when sunlight and shadows allow me to create more dramatic effects. It’s a common theme in much of my work, and what I enjoy the most, are the connections that people make to the work. Be it old homes or buildings, inspired locally or from my travels abroad, there is something for everyone to relate to. For some, it makes them think about a place they visit often and for others, it reminds them of home, wherever that may be. An individual that purchased a painting at the show said that they feel like they could “walk right in” to my paintings and feel at home.
I have enjoyed the connections I’ve made this summer with all the new people who have taken an interest in my work, and with so many places yet to discover and nurture my muse, I’m doubtful that I will ever get bored with this subject matter.
"The Colors of a Summer Day."
A summer afternoon on the Island of Burano, Italy. Quiet, lazy, and full of natural sunlight shining down on pastel colored homes. The doorway curtain folded back makes for a warm entryway.
It was nice to be featured in the Business Spotlight this month in the Avalon Chamber of Commerce monthly newsletter. It highlights my House Portraits with a link to my website. Painting the homes at the Jersey Shore is something I LOVE doing and this feature came along at just the right time...in the heart of summer!
I am always excited when I complete a commissioned painting and share it with my clients. It is even better when I get to deliver it to them in person. Because of distance, it is not always possible and I have to rely on shipping.
This summer, I was fortunate to have several clients with homes in Avalon and Stone Harbor, and was able to deliver their paintings AND spend some time at the beach as well. This beach community is such a beautiful place and I am blessed to have met so many wonderful people through my commission work.
I was able to stop by this clients lovely home to see how she framed her painting and see it hanging on the wall. Because I see so many homes from the outside only, she was happy to show me the inside of her home...and it is beautiful!
There is a term in theater called going off script, when an actor begins to add lib their character and goes where his or her creativity takes them. I liken that term to my use of photographs when I paint. I generally don’t paint on location (en plein air) so I rely on my library of photographs that I've built over the years. I’ve made it a point to always have my camera with me so I can snap a photo of the things that inspire me, no matter the time of day or where I might be in the world.
But the goal of the photograph for me is to have a reference from a moment in time that made me stop and stare for a bit, to wonder if I could possibly take what moved me at that moment, and create something visually interesting for others to enjoy. Along with the photograph, I keep copious notes on the subject so I can relate to both when working on my composition. So as I begin to paint, with my reference photo near by, I find myself going off script and letting my senses take me where I need to go with the painting. Perhaps it means exaggerating color to make something pop or adjusting the location of some rocks to draw your eye into the composition.
It's not always necessary to paint every blade of grass, or every tree leaf, and we can make a path turn left instead of right. Some artists refer to this as being in the zone...that place where creativity and concentration take over and the painting begins to come to life without the tedious details of the reference photo. It's a liberating feeling and one that demonstrates the limitless possibilities of ones own creativity. The end result is a composition that gives meaning to the artist’s interpretation, and moves away from simply being a recreation of a photograph.
Anyone who lives here in the northeast, knows how cold and sometimes unforgiving the winter months can be. As an artist, being cooped up inside can seem daunting at times because sketching and taking photo references outside are important aspects of my studio practice.
But before winters grip took hold, I had the pleasure of working on a commissioned house portrait in the fall, and was able to add some colorful foliage into the composition. A beautiful lake location, sunlight, and shadows were all present to capture the essence of this lovely home.
A short time later, the subject matter of my next commission was a bright, warm, and well lived in kitchen. With much of my work focusing on the outside, I was delighted with the opportunity to paint an interior composition.
This kitchen is home to "Gail's Cupboard" a local business owner with a passion for educating others on the benefits of healthy eating.
While only a snippet of a much larger area, I wanted to bring the viewer in for a closer look, not only at the focal point which is that magnificent AGA stove, but at the little things that make this a special place for the owner...including sunlight coming through those big open windows.
All weather complaining aside, I am fortunate to have plenty of projects to keep me busy as I look forward to warmer months ahead. As a matter of fact, I have a beach house portrait on my easel right now...so I'll be getting a glimpse of summer ahead of schedule!
I recently had the privilege of being included in a published article by Carolyn Edlund, founder of the online blog Artsy Shark. The topic focuses on how we acquire our commission work...and why we enjoy it. Read the entire article here.