Tag Archives: art

When Am I Ever Going To Learn..

….Or do I need to?

In my studio there hangs a print of a couple back in the old country that are bowing at the harvest that lay at their feet.  In prayer.  It is called The Angelus.  It’s lovely. It’s humble. And I like it.

The Angelus

When I was outfitting the retreat lodge, I came across two prints that looked to be from that same era of The Angelus. The Angelus, by the way, was painted by Jean-Francois Millet in 1859.  I was drawn to them in the same way and thought they would be a great addition to our lodge.  One print is of three women farming and the other is a gentleman winding up his day walking his tools back to the barn. I do not have the artist’s name who rendered the original work.

A few weeks back a good friend noticed the prints and brought to my attention that I had hung prints of slaves on my wall and that may not be in the best taste given the fact the lodge is used for many people coming and going.  Someone may find this to be offensive.  I was taken aback and argued as to whether or not these figures were in fact African-American.   That is not what I noticed when I purchased them.  I saw people farming.  He further said that these people had to be slaves given the time portrayed in the picture and the activity they were engaged in.  huh.  My first response was, well…that is not my intention and of course, I cannot be in control of how others interpret the print.  And that I see people as people and not as a color.  And why would I try to make a statement about slavery on my wall?  There is not a racist bone in my body and African Americans were very much a part of my childhood.    My friend agreed,  but others may not feel the same way.  If the lodge is to be used for retreating,  then  it is vital that I do not make anyone uncomfortable in their retreating experience.  Point taken.

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My second response was a pity party.  I felt attacked for a decision I had made and how dare someone question my decision.  That is my go to even if it is not called for.  Working on that.  Diligently.

After I got over the attack which  wasnt an attack  at all(it was a sensitive concern about a sensitive subject brought on by a sensitive fellow), I talked to another good friend about it.  She said..wait a minute….Did these people in the print live north of the Mason/Dixon line?  Or south?   (I love this woman.)  Could they have been, perhaps, celebrating their freedom to farm?  Could these people be just plain farmers?

Yeah.  I liked these answers.  I wasnt looking to be vindicated but it helped that there COULD be more than one answer here.

I want to do the right thing but I don’t see the world always the same way the majority does sometimes.  Just like the farmer picture.  I didn’t see slaves.  I still don’t see slaves.  I see people.  Like me.  Like you.  I realize that that is not the experience of others so  I DID take the prints down. The last thing I want to do is offend people. If I was African-American, I might see all photos of farmers from another time as slaves.  I don’t know.  But I take some comfort in seeing these people as people. Which is what they are.  And for me?  I am glad I don’t see color when I look at them.  And I get that color is important, but the people underneath the color are more important.  I feel the more distinguishing of differences we make about each other the greater the chasm we create.

I’ve thought about what to do with the prints.  The farmers and I have a history now.  We’ve been through some.   While I believe some African-Americans don’t want to associate themselves with farming because of their ancestral background, I can assume there are a good handful of them that love being farmers or would love a slice of land they could call their own to grow their food.  Next door to me.   Farming  + African-Americans doesn’t = Slavery all the time.  I have decided to keep the prints and enjoy them in the privacy of my bedroom  where there won’t be a chance to offend another and I can share my love of farming with people in the picutres who  I am choosing to believe are people enjoying their love of farming.

Peace,

Karen

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The Face of Life Changes

It does sometimes, doesn’t it?

As I try to step back into routine, somehow I have found that my routine has changed. It  doesn’t seem like routine to me.

Yet.

After all, isn’t routine what we settle into once an adjustment occurs.   What do we call that time in the interim?

Ah.  Maybe transition?  Whate’er.   Life is different right now.

Back in March, I got a big art commission that is demanding a huge chunk of my day.  So, I am looking for about 5 extra hours each day.  Do you know where those hours are?  Did you swipe them from me?   Many things have been tossed aside so that I could meet the first deadline of this project.  I finished it yesterday.  So my old routine returned today.  But will be gone tomorrow when the second part begins.

Marian University (Indianapolis) is building a Nursing/Osteopathic Healing Center School.  They chose me and five other artists to enhance the aesthetic beauty of the building.  I much obliged.  I designed 5 images that I felt best depicted their value missions of the University.   They are: prayer, stewardship, forgiveness, justice and peace, and dignity of the individual.   The project is for me to take my 1 sq. ft. paintings and create mosaics that are 6′ x 6′.

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Pack it up time for installation.

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Combine the crate that we built to transport and the mosaic, we figured the thing weighed at least 300 lbs.  It was cumbersome and SCARY.

Delivery.

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A lot of resting  goin’ on here and there.  We were frightened  to continue on with opening it and getting the thing up on the wall.

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But we soldiered onward.

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And there it sits.

Now I only have 4 more to complete.

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The thought of doing 4 more of these things and transporting them up the highway is daunting.  But, God willing, it will get done.  Please pray.

I am grateful for this job.  It feels good to be needed and/or wanted, doesn’t it?

I look forward to  the transition of my day to become routine so that I can resume fun things like blogging, walking in the woods,  buying food for my family,  taking showers, brushing my teeth……..saying hello to God.  All that fun, necessary stuff.

Food for the soul.  And family.

God bless,

Karen

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Are We Original? Or Copycats?

We are all creators in one form or another.   Are we creating something that has been done  before,  or are we original?  As an artist, I think I’m being original.  But the fact is, I’m not.  Literally everything I do has been done before in someway.  My unique style and interpretation or impression  makes my work original.  The gift  that God gave me and only me.  He wants us to use each other for learning, inspiration and encouragement.   I’m sure you’ve heard that copying is the highest form of flattery.  Just as long it is not copying verbatim, I am sure.  I’m glad you like my stuff,  but don’t take it and call it yers.

There are few people in the world that are truly original. Thomas Edison.  Benjamin Franklin.  Bill Gates.  da Vinci.  Those kinda folks.  Even the lady who invented Spanx was just modeling her product after the ol’ girdle.  Not sure her name for it is better though.

Dale Chihuly is an artist. I have studied him for years but recently  I saw a documentary about him that stunned me.  He blows glass.   In that regard, he is a copycat.  His style is so completely original that I’m almost sure that he is the only guy that has done what he does to date.  In our history. I could be wrong.   Enjoy his beautiful glass gardens and sculptures.  Complete and utter genius.

Dale Chihuly

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PENTAX Image

Chihuly

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I hope this brightens your day as it has mine.

God bless,

Karen

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For They Know Not What They Are Doing.

This weekend brings me with the likes of the following artists.  Internationally well-known artists.  They are teaching me how to paint.  Really?  I certainly hope so.  What they don’t know is that for the last 15 years I have not painted in their preferred medium.  I have thrown all the rules by the wayside.  I haven’t painted at all for two years.  But I am here to:

Set aside what I think I know

So that I may open my self up to new experiences.  Amen.

So, help me God. ……  .. Please?

Enjoy the works of these fine artist who rule the world in Impressionism this 21st century.  They are kind enough to spend three days with us striving artists.  I better get my little note-book out, huh?

Kevin Macpherson

Quang Ho

C. W. Mundy

Carolyn Anderson

Zhiwei Tu

Clayton J. Beck III

Calvin Liang

Kenn Backhaus

Fabulous, eh?  I want to paint like them when I grow up.  And you know what?  They are nice people.

God bless,

Karen

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Unlearn and Learn

Have you ever wanted something but weren’t willing or wanting to do what it takes to get it?  I find myself in that place now.  I actually wasn’t willing but now I am.   I only became willing when I realized it wasn’t going to just come to me in a dream in the night.   I just don’t want to be patient while I wait.  Or rather work for it.

I have painted in acrylics for 15 years.  I have painted pretty contemporary for 15 years.  When you paint contemporary, to an extent,  you can make up rules.  Maybe not even,”to an extent”.  You CAN forget all the fundamental rules that we learn when we begin to paint.  Values.  Perspective.  Drawing.    I still paid attention to those elements.  Somewhat.  But there was clearly a contemporary bent to them.

“Honor”

“River of Hope”

So, since  I haven’t picked up a paint brush for two years, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out the good ol’ oils again and paint using a more representational approach.  HOLY COW.     I have forgotten how to paint.   I have adopted so many  bad painting habits in the past 15 years.  Especially paint mixing.  I basically did not mix paint.  I’m not sure what I did but it is not translating well in oils.  AT ALL.

But I want it to.

But I don’t want to take the time to do it right.

The past few months I have tried to just FORCE the old habits into my painting.  One disappointment after another.  Well,  maybe if I paint another subject matter it will improve.    It’s like skiing.  I kept thinking that the reason I did not like skiing was the venue was not good.  Like Jackson,  Wyoming??  Colorado?   Come on.   I didn’t want to admit it was that I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.  That is why I don’t like skiing.  That is why I am AFRAID of skiing.    That is why I am afraid of walking into my studio these days or those days for that matter.  I was wingin’ it.    I don’t want to wing it anymore.  I look at  phenomenal  artist’s work all the time.  I want to paint like them.

So, I begin with a color chart.  Of 4 colors.  White.  Black.  Red and Yellow Ochre.  Mixing 120 colors that those 4 colors can make.

Color chart using white, black, red and yellow ochre

Pretty amazing you can get that many colors, huh?  Great exercise.  And I will only use those four colors ’til I get a good grasp.  Only then will I add more colors to my palette.  But still SOOOO much work to be done to GET WHAT I WANT.

I read that it is much better to paint from real life than from photographs.   I have painted from my maniac imagination for the past 15 years.  So, I not only have to mix paint colors accurately but I also at the same time have to look at a real object and interpret the shape, colors, values,  and perspective.  Sounds like chewing gum, walking, milking goats and eating pizza at the same time.  That is how foreign this is to me right now.   I used to know how to do it.  But I forgot.  It is not like riding a bicycle.

BUT…I want to do this right and I will go to any length it will take to get it right.  The easiest thing for me to do would be to walk away from it.  Go milk a goat that I cannot drink from.   Or paint the way I was.  But I feel a strong call from God to do this.  The last thing He wants from me is to “wing” a gift He has given me.   So  I WILL learn it.  Because He wants me to.   And like everything He wants for or from me, the end result is great satisfaction.   It is hugely rewarding and ultimately brings me and others joy.

I’ll let you know how its going.   I hope it doesn’t take the rest of my life to learn how to paint one painting.  But I guess that would be ok too.

The following painter, Anders Zorn,  is the “author” of the 4 color palette.  He has painted many beautiful pieces with just those four colors.

Anders Zorn    ( 1860-1920)

God bless,

Karen

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Diggin’ a Ditch Where Silence Lives…

…Words sung by Dave Matthews.  Those words strike my core.  One of my favorite lines of all time.

 When I started spending a lot of time in my studio about 12 or so years ago, I  thought I was going stir crazy with the isolation.  I would emerge from the dungeon of creativity in late afternoon and be beside myself with the need to communicate.    I really thought that it was a negative.  You don’t understand, I have to be BY MYSELF ALL DAY !!!   is how I felt.  And it was,  as long as I thought of it in those terms.  Isolation.

BUT THEN ……. (I cant figure out how to make my font bigger on this program.  I would like to see those words bigger.)

…. I saw it differently.  I began to study Contemplative prayer.  It is  a type of prayer where you learn to sit in quiet.  And listen.  And learn.

It sounds like meditation.  And it IS a form of.

Wiki’s definition for meditation is:

The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices (like sports), which range from techniques designed to promote relaxation, contacting spiritual guides, building internal energy (chi, ki, prana, etc.), receiving psychic visions, getting closer to god, seeing past lives, taking astral journeys, and so forth, to more technical exercises targeted at developing compassion, love, patience, generosity, forgiveness and more far-reaching goals such as effortless sustained single-pointed concentration,[3

That is not what I wanted to learn.  That is WAY to broad for me.  Too much wiggle room.  I wanted a tight fit.  My intention was to narrow in on Christian contemplation.  The wiki definition refers to it as a “gaze of faith”  or “a silent love”.  I love that.  A silent love.  Wow.    It also says it is   “the soul’s inward vision and the heart’s simple repose in God.”

So,  in my journey,  I have learned that there is a difference between “isolation”  and “solitude” .  Isolation  can bring about negative feelings and emotions.  It is not intentional state of being.   We get stuck inside ourselves and negative thoughts and feelings swirl around.  It is just the act of being alone.

Solitude can be a rich experience where we empty the contents of our mind that  float around getting clogged and jammed and invite God in to teach us wisdom,  guide us and just simply love us.    But it is an intentional act.  We have to want it.

I am amazed at what difference it makes.  I leave my studio time  with a sense of calm and peace and a feeling of being loved.  It is truly remarkable.

You do not have to be sitting doing nothing to be in contemplative prayer.  You can be doing.  The only requirements are to allow your mind to empty.  And allow God to fill.   Pretty simple, eh?  Not really.  It is hard.  But anything we put our mind to is hard.   Dave’s  song is all about it.  Diggin’  a ditch aint no easy task.

Sometimes it takes A LONG time to quiet ourselves and just be.   We live in a loud,  over stimulated world.  The media and what not want us to be overloaded with “stuff”.   And it is SO easy to invite it all in.  And maybe we don’t want it all in,  but if we sit in its presence its comin’  ready or not.  Unless we get quiet with some solitude.

Also,  since it is a form of prayer  we have the idea that  we should be the ones doin’ all the talking.  Not so.  Speaking for myself,   I need to shut up every now so that I can hear, learn,  and be loved.

So, how can this be done?  It can be done anywhere, anytime.   Turn off external hardware (radio, tv, computer,etc.  It will all be there waiting for you.  And believe me when I say you will not be missing anything).  Invite God to your side.  Then just be.  When your mind wants to go somewhere without you.  Yank it back.    Your plan will suit it better.  Take in the present moment without making a judgement about it.  Look  what is going on outside your car window.  Without making a judgement about it.  Spend the moment NOT MAKING A JUDGEMENT about it.  Just take it in like it is the first time you’ve seen it.  Let your mind slip from that moment into the next and just sit in it keeping it open to hear what He wants you to see, hear and learn.  Without making a judgement about it.

Takes practice.  I hope you’ll give it a try.

It will take you to new heights.

God bless,

Karen

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What Hour Trips Your Trigger?

The Witching Hour?   Or the Darkest Hour?   I read that the witching hour is around midnight. When the goblins come out and bad things happen.  The term is supposed to stir anxiety and fear.  I’m thinkin’ that is not the hour that trips my trigger.  There used to be a time when “darkness”  held something desirable for me.  I thought being out in it, milling about with it , was comforting.  I still find it peaceful at times and I love to walk out at night-time and look at the stars and sit around a camp fire but I am not drawn to the dark hours.  Darkness now for me means day is done.  Job well done.  Get cozy between my sheets.

Night Window      Edward Hopper

The Eleventh Hour?  Oooh.  That almost always triggers panic in me.  Getting everything done at that last-minute.

Happy Hour?  Or Cocktail Hour?  Are we only “happy” at cocktail hour?  Just wondering.

Rush Hour?  That is my favorite hour.  (Just kidding.)  But about 10 or 15 years ago I changed my tune about this hour.  It can be used for MAJOR contemplation.  Or clipping my fingernails.  Or plucking my face.  It’s all a part of  that Serenity prayer I spoke about,   “Help me accept the things I can not change”  I have learned since I can’t make those cars get out of my way I can use  that time for myself and sit in it with peace.

Dinner Hour?  Great time.  It is T-bone and Ribeye’s  favorite time for sure.

They like to throw their dinner on their backs. Gee. Maybe we should consider that.

Consider the Golden Hour.  Now THAT really trips my trigger!  Early in the morning when the sun is rising and it causes the dew to glisten on the vegetation and the shadows be long.  The yellow light is falling everywhere.  And in the evening when the light again is making all the colors in nature rich and luscious.  An artists dream.  Landscape painters find the golden hour(s)  to be the quintessential.

My chores lead me to the golden hour in the morning and the evening.  The smells that go along with those hours are earthy, heady and intoxicating.  The sun is warming the earth in the morning or cooling it in the evening and it seems to emit aromas that send me over the edge with delight.

Our pond

Marc Bohne Painting

The Angelus, Jean -Francois Millet, 1857

Enjoy your hour today what ever that may be.  I am nosy.  I would love to know what hour trips your trigger.

God bless,

Karen

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