Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pictures from the Creative Harvest opening

Christi Fish, right, president of Stoner Creek Arts was kind enough to send me pictures from the Creative Harvest opening which will be reproduced here. In this photo, you can see my painting of Barnabas in the background. I am ashamed to admit that I can't remember the name of the artist standing with Christi. He did an incredible Renaissance style religious painting with dozens of figures painted in the grand tradition of the old masters. Click on the image to enlarge. You can see his painting over his right shoulder. I also couldn't help noticing that he bore a resemblance to an older Barnabas.

These are some of my very dearest friends. From left to right: Polly Singer, Valerie Powell, Beth Hensel, Patrick Lynch and Norma Gilpin. I've either painted or drawn pictures of each of the women in this photo. I'm currently working on paintings of both Norma and Valerie. Click on photo to enlarge. Polly was featured in The Love Letter, Beth in The Angel's Serenade, (on display at Hopewell) and Norma in Calling Me Home To You. Norma you will know from the paintings of the Edwardian lady in the boat with a gramophone sailing across the night skies. The painting I'm currently working on will be the third of a trilogy of those paintings featuring Norma before taking the boats in the night sky paintings in a somewhat different direction or at least a different vantage point.

While I was looking at paintings and talking with people. I couldn't help noticing this duo was actually performing Emerson, Lake and Palmer songs from the album Brain Salad Surgery as well as classics by Simon and Garfunkel. Loved it. Click on image to enlarge.

I'm not sure who the person on the left is, but I recently met Ron and Kathy Carter at a Halloween Party with my co-workers at the Paris-Bourbon County Public Library (artist with a day job, imagine that!) Ron is very active with the Hopewell Museum and was a driving force in the restoration of the 1910 Post Office building that houses the museum. His wife Kathy was a long time teacher in the local school system and my friend Beth Hensel's all time favourite English teacher. Hmm, is that an orb over Ron's left shoulder? Or is it a dust particle picked up by the digital camera? The building does seem to have an energy about it, a very positive one. Ghost hunters can click on the image to enlarge and decide for themselves.

I met so many nice people that it's embarrassing I can't remember all the names. In the centre is Nancy Kleck who owns a gallery/studio on Main Street in Paris. She does fabulous equine paintings. We both have work in the travelling Paris Mobile Art exhibit. The lovely person to Nancy's left I remember seeing at the library's Halloween Party and I talked with her pleasantly for a few minutes at the opening about the tv show Dark Shadows. Seems I wasn't the only one who dashed home from school to watch it! Anyone who reads this blog who can identify people in the photos that I can't please contact me so I can get everyone's names right.

Christi Fish, right, speaking with two nice people whose names I do not yet know. Again, if anyone reading this blog can identify any of the people I have not properly identified, please contact me and I will edit the post accordingly. Thanks!

Thanks to all my friends who could be there to support me. After the opening, we had a great dinner at Campbell's Restaurant.

The following was the text of the e-mail Christi sent to Stoner Creek Arts members and friends about the opening:

Dear Stoner Creek Arts Members and Friends,
We had a great turn out Friday night for the opening reception of Creative Harvest. We would like to thank Candy Beauman, from The Art Studio, for acting as this year's judge. Best in Show went to Betsy Kephart for Water Lily, Bellingrath Gardens. Other winners were Judy Jones for Keeneland Morning, Kay Collier McLaughlin for Homage to Art and Music in 3/4 Time, and Suzanne Dungan for Tiny Twisted Basket. Congratulations to each of our winners. As we all know, there were many wonderful pieces of artwork submitted. We are fortunate to have so much talent in the Paris area. I attached the pictures I took at the reception. Betsey did a great job, as usual. Thanks, also to everyone who contributed to the auction. I know we did well with it. I'll have the exact totals for you soon. An article for the newspaper will go out this week, and should be in the paper Nov. 26.
Christi Fish
President Stoner Creek Arts

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November update

It was brought to my kind attention that I didn't have links to the galleries showing my work on the blog. I had posted those links on the gallery page but it had never occurred to me that someone finding the blog rather than the main website might want those links, so I amend the page here. Chuck, thanks for catching that! :-)

The Creative Harvest exhibit at the Hopewell Museum had a very well attended opening and I was delighted and honoured by the friends who came to see it. Special thanks to Valerie Powell for being there. As soon as I can get some pictures or a link to the coverage of it locally, I'll post an update.

The music player has had some added tracks and some rearranging of the playlist. I'm starting to see a choral, harpsichord and mellotron theme. I've also added some treasured Celtic pieces though others still elude me. I have been pleasantly surprised by the music I've been able to play on this electronic gramophone.

Paintings have been going slowly, visits from dear friends, autumn chores having been pleasant distractions. Now that the weather has turned colder and greyer, I will be spending much more time in the studio. So many ideas for paintings flying around in my mind, so little time......

Monday, November 3, 2008

Paintings at the Creative Harvest exhibit, Hopewell Museum

One of the many nice things about living in Paris, Kentucky is that for a small town it has an impressive museum of local history and local art. The Hopewell Museum is in a beautifully redone 1910 Post Office building on Pleasant Street. They are currently featuring their Creative Harvest Exhibit done in partnership with Stoner Creek Arts featuring current work by local artists. I have two paintings in this exhibit, The Angel's Serenade and My Heart Cries Aloud For Thee.

The exhibit runs up to the end of December. The opening reception information is posted below. The Hopewell Museum is run entirely by volunteers and to quote from their mission statement--

The mission of Hopewell Museum is to collect, preserve, and interpret the historic and
artistic heritage of the Paris and Bourbon County region and to promote the educational,
historic, artistic and cultural growth of the community.

Opening Reception
Friday, November 7, 2008
Hopewell Museum
5:00 - 8:00 PM
Please Join us!
Bring a savory or sweet dish to share.
Silent Auction
Music by Ukiah

If you live in the Paris, Kentucky area, it is well worth the drive to come see how a local community truly values its artists. For more information visit the Hopewell Museum's website.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Charlotte's birthday

Today is Charlotte Harwell's birthday, 29 October. It would not be gentlemanly of me to say how old she would have been, but it was 29 years ago today that I did my first drawing of her. I was very young and the drawing is almost crude compared to what I wanted it to be. Actually, I still have that problem. In the images above, the pencil drawing is the first image from 1979. The painting below I painted 25 years later.

I really should rephotograph the painting as I've reworked some more and the likeness is spot on. The bottom image is a close up of perhaps one of the best paintings I perhaps will ever do of her, Charlotte and the Red Umbrella II. That picture captures Charlotte at her best.

In the late 1970's as a young artist to be, I was doing mostly science fiction illustration thinking of that as a career choice. When Charlotte entered my life, her Victorian ways resonated with me in a way that forever changed the course of my art moving me from illustration that I enjoyed to painting that I loved more. I became interested in the English Pre-Raphaelites because of her and she awakened my sense of belonging more to the past than to a science fiction future.

Charlotte was never featured directly in any of the neo Pre-Raphaelite drawings and paintings I did over the years. Instead, I drew and painted Charlotte in her own world even as she inspired me in everything else I painted for years. While she was not an artist herself, Charlotte taught me a lot about painting and drawing and the pictures of her were often the experiments through which I learned. Perhaps the most important thing Charlotte taught me was to not give up when subjected to withering rejection of my paintings and there were times that had it not been for her...

Charlotte was an extraordinary person and yet she was like everyone else. She had joys and sorrows, her moments of clarity and confusion. Charlotte was dearly loved and she loved dearly. I do not want to portray her as a perfect person because she was not. Charlotte had her human frailties. She loved her family, her cat, her horse, her friends, me. Her life took turns that I do not yet know how to write about yet though I try. She often appears to be alone in paintings and drawings, but she isn't really, I was there too. This year my over scheduled life did not allow me time to commemorate her in a drawing or painting so my inadequate words will have to suffice.

Happy birthday, my dear Charlotte wherever you are.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Return of Beautiful Past Radio

In the early years of my website, I had a couple of the old radio stations that I had linked to the site so that people who viewed my paintings could also listen to the same music I listened to while painting. Thanks to a blog by Rebecca Chamberlain called Ladies' Historical Tea, I have revived the station courtesy of The player can be found at the bottom of this blog and also on the home page of the website just below the navigation bar. To listen while viewing paintings, click on "Pop Out Player" and this will allow you to listen and navigate the site or continue to listen while you journey across the internet.

I have a lot of music on the playlist but I've not perfected the arrangement yet, and anyone who has ever received one of my mix tapes or CDs know that I work very hard on getting the flow of one piece of music into another just right. When I am not playing my 1907 Columbia BI Sterling or my 1918 Edison Amberola 30, this is the music I listen to while I paint. I choose the music very carefully and it often ties closely with the paintings. Many of these songs are dear old friends, especially everything by the Moody Blues, The Cure and the Baroque harpischord pieces. I have five copies of The Moody Blues classic 1967 Days of Future Past in vinyl. At least one of those copies is quite worn out. Newer musical friends are Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Dark Sanctuary, Dead Can Dance and Narsilion. This music is very ethereal and heartfelt and some of it admittedly darker than some of the other music, but since my paintings are sometimes about acknowledging the melancholy in our lives, so does the music I listen to. I find it very cathartic.

One of my gramophone records actually made it online. It's the exquisite Ave Maria with the early 20th Century Irish tenor John McCormack singing as the incomparable Fritz Kriesler plays the violin. I can't remember the exact date but was recorded sometime between 1912-1918. The recording delights me with its original pops and cracks wearing its age proudly.

Look for the arrangement of the playlist to shift many times until everything goes together just the way I want for establishing a mood and gently sustaining it.

When I was looking at Rebecca's blog, I couldn't help noticing the similarity of our interests and our tastes in music. Some of her music is also on my playlist. Later, I may do a radio station of music just for the gallery of my paintings and drawings of Charlotte. There are songs on this list that fit her very well not the least of which the Cure classic Charlotte Sometimes.

Thanks to Polly Singer for sending me to her friend Rebecca's blog.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Heart Cries Aloud For Thee--the portrait of Barnabas Collins

I have wanted to do this painting for a long time at least as far back as the days when I had my studio in the tower of Loudoun House, the 1852 Gothic villa that is a sister house to the more famous Lyndhurst where the Dark Shadows motion pictures were filmed in 1971. Dark Shadows fans remember well the original 1795 painting that hung in the foyer of Collinwood, and of the 1967 painting Barnabas commissions from Sam Evans. I wanted to do something different from either of those paintings. This portrait is set in the 1897 storyline era. I imagine a moment where Barnabas has found Josette's music box and he contemplates giving it to Rachel Drummond who bears a strong physical resemblance to his long lost Josette. The music box after all these years still works and its delicate melody sends Barnabas into a sad reverie.

Most people who remember Barnabas remember only the fanging and how sinister he seemed, yet he was even in the early episodes a much more complex figure and played with great humanity by Jonathan Frid. I was one of those kids "who ran home from school" to watch Dark Shadows but even as a six to eight year old child it was never about the fanging for me. Yes, when Quentin turned into a werewolf he was scary though Reverend Trask was far more frightening in the way he destroyed innocent people with maniacal glee without having a single bit of supernatural power.

However, it was Barnabas' sad longing for Josette that resonated across the decades.

Again, it wasn’t about the fanging, the ghouls and the werewolves. It was about one person whose only desire was to go home to his beloved and to his family. Imagine waking up in 1967 after being locked in a coffin since 1795 and you see a world that is both alien and familiar. Faces that you know inhabited by the souls of strangers. You want to find a place in this new life, and you don’t want your family to know what you’ve become. You were a good person driven by forces that sicken you even as you find it almost impossible at times to stop what you’re doing. As Barnabas once said to Quentin as a vampire he had his needs but they disgusted him. Just as you almost completely lose your conscience, the one person you love even more than Josette saves you–your little sister Sarah. With many mistakes made along the way, you choose a path back to being who you used to be even if a cure for vampirism is never quite permanent.
Not only do you have to learn the social customs of the new era but also how language has changed, the mysterious electro-mechanical devices of the 1960's. More importantly, once Barnabas began the path to redemption, he had to learn how to trust again, how to love without inviting the destruction created by his curse. Unlike Quentin Collins, Barnabas' curse was the result of perhaps giving his heart away too easily. Too much of a romantic, even during a romantic era.
All of this was running through my mind while working on this painting. I didn't want to just copy a photograph. I watched hours of Dark Shadows tapes, borrowed my very cool neighbour's DVDs of the 1897 storyline and found inspiration in fan made music videos on You Tube. The end result was a composite of many images to coalesce into Barnabas holding the music box and remembering and longing.

The immutable longing for love.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

An introduction

I never thought I would find myself blogging. This from a person who had become weary of e-mail and telephones who started writing letters again on paper with my Waterman fountain pen and realised that I have more 78's and Edison cylinders than CDs and someone who watches his Dark Shadows tapes on a 1960's TV. A TV whose converter box allows it to tune in channels above 13 and whose tubes have to heat up before the picture and sound arrive and when turned off shrinks down to a little glowing dot whose ember lingers for a time.

So I don't know how often I will post, but the idea is that news for my website, exhibits I'm participating in and how the current painting is going will turn up here along with whatever else is on my mind as it relates to my paintings. It will also become apparent that I am a student of the Henry James School of Writing which means why use five words when five hundred will do.