Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's Creative Harvest time again!

It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since the last Creative Harvest exhibit at the Hopewell Museum in Paris, KY. Each year, the Stoner Creek Arts group in Paris puts on an exhibit through the auspices of the Hopewell Museum to showcase work by Paris area artists. I submitted Amor Aeterna and My Heart Dreams In A Sea of Stars as my two entries.

Amor Aeterna, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 20x24 inches

My Heart Dreams In A Sea of Stars, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 24x30 inches

Last year's event was a lot of fun, and I hope the same for this year. The opening will be Friday, October 2nd from 6-9 p.m. If you can make it to the opening, I'd love to see you there. Click on the link below for directions.

Link to Yahoo Map directions for Hopewell Museum

Hopewell Museum website link

The Block Party at Failte in Lexington on September 18th was also a lot of fun. Liza Hendley-Betz had the Lexington Irish Dancers there and we got some pretty good turnout, though not as much as the previous block party. The block party was a way to build awareness that the very unique businesses caught up in all the Limestone construction that runs from Euclid all the way to Vine are still open. Failte was a great place to show my paintings and collages and I'm very happy for the opportunity to have shown there for the evening. I'd put up some pictures but I have got to remember to seriously carry extra batteries for my digital camera. I flew out the door without spares. I'll not make that mistake again.

I'm no longer working at the Paris-Bourbon County Library part time and it has felt weird not going to work Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Had to make myself remember not to turn left on 7th Street or that I no longer have to drive at warp speed to get there from Lexington. I miss my friends there but the time I have gotten back has been spent working on my next painting which is a 30th anniversary portrait of Charlotte Harwell. If any of my Paris library friends are reading this, I'd love to see you at the Creative Harvest opening Friday.

I've also been working on a blog posting for my current round of collages from The Penny Dreadful series but I'm not satisfied with the photography of one of the pieces. It's time I set up a new place to photograph my work that is more evenly lit.

Missed an opportunity to show work at the Courthouse Square Art Guild in Carlisle if I remember the name of the group correctly. I was interested in showing with them but it didn't quite work out this year. Hopefully in a future exhibit. I understand they had 190 entries for their current show which is impressive for a fairly new art guild in a small town off the usual beaten path. Valerie and I recently drove through Carlisle for the first time and found it architecturally much like Paris in that their Victorian era downtown is very intact and as alive as any small downtown can be in these trying economic times.

As I said earlier, if you can make it to the Creative Harvest opening, I'll be glad to see you.

Here's hoping for a very creative autumn!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Amor Aeterna

"Next day the memories of these things,
Like leaves through which a bird has flown,
Still vibrated with Love's warm wings;

Till I must make them all my own

And paint this picture.
So, 'twixt ease

Of talk and sweet long silences,

She stood among the plants in bloom

At windows of a summer room,
To feign the shadow of the trees."

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1870

The Rossetti quote is from an unpublished poem I found on the Rossetti Archive. It fits perfectly how I feel about the subject of this painting, Valerie. I started this painting last November and through the intensely over scheduled months finally finished it last Sunday. I had promised to tell the story of how it all came to be but I don't think I'm going to keep that promise as I first envisioned it. In this day and age, I don't think anyone would want to read such unashamedly over the top recountings of how Valerie and I met, got separated and found again. It started in the freshman registration line at college, becoming fast friends, developing feelings that we were too shy to tell for whatever reasons, ending up with other people down the road. Years of separation follow and we live surprisingly parallel lives never forgetting the other until one day Valerie recognises Charlotte Harwell's portrait on my website and signs my guestbook. It took many more years until we were finally together again but in all that time our love was never forgotten and grew all the while. We need never be parted again.

I wanted to celebrate that journey with this painting.

The background is a little place called Cushendall in Country Antrim in Ireland circa 1899. It was in a Victorian coffee table book called Pictures of Ireland published in 1899. Because Valerie is a huge fan of the Pre-Raphaelites, I wanted to paint her in that style as much as possible. My work has kind of split off in two directions both still Victorian but I enjoyed very much revisiting my older Pre-Raph style and seeing how it looks years later.

Yes, Valerie has been mentioned a lot in the blog of late but that cannot really be helped as she and Charlotte have had a lot of impact on who I am as an artist over the years. My next painting is the 30th anniversary of the first time I made an image of Charlotte Harwell and there are a number of collages in progress in what I now think of as The Penny Dreadful series. More about that in the coming days. Paintings that I've mentioned in recent blogs are still coming along slowly. Next Tuesday will be my last day working at the Paris-Bourbon County Public Library and I will have more time to catch up on painting etc. I will be sad at leaving such a cool group of people but I can't keep up the pace and still have the time and energy to paint.

A friend of mine has been talking to me lately about legacies and I hope mine is that the paintings outlast me and that it could be seen that the subject in each one was loved.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Showing at Failte-the Irish Shop

I have the distinct honour of showing at Failte-the Irish Shop on North Limestone in Lexington, KY during the Gallery Hop, 18 September from 5-8 p.m. It is a delightful shop that can use all the support it can get during the street construction that is currently going on. For directions click on the website link at right, Failte Irish Imports

The website includes a map and parking directions.

Below is the announcement from the Failte newsletter. Come and show your support for local art and local business. It's well worth the trip downtown!


On September Friday 18th we are having a block party from 5pm -8pm.
It's the same night as the gallery hop and We are having Our very own Artist.
Patrick Lynch will be displaying and selling His lovely pieces of art. check out His website:

We are are also very excited to announce that the Lexington Irish Dancers will also be there doing a jig or two for Us:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And now for something a bit different

To Recall the Life That Arose Before My Eyes, 2009, collage, 18x24 inches.
Click on image to enlarge

I Now Know What I Must Do, 2009, collage, 16x20 inches
Click on image to enlarge.

In late 1997, during a terrible painting block, I took up making collages as a way of looking at what I was doing through a somewhat different filter. I'm not in a painting block now because Amor Aeterna is very close to completion but I thought I would revisit the collage. There are a couple of different schools of collage that are incorporating Victorian imagery into their work. The current school is what I think of as the Somerset Studio school of collage which uses not only images but also text, small objects and may also extended to multiple movable panels etc.

An older school of collage is the kind where the image maker has a stack of Dover clip art books filled with wonderful Victorian images and from other sources they've saved of a similar type. Later practitioners of this school make use of computer scans to arrange their compositions etc while others still use photocopiers, scissors and Mod Podge (tm) to create their collages. I decided to be of the old Mod Podge school.

The first two of my collages are posted here. I've saved a lot of material over the years and started looking at it again recently. Instead of mounting my collages to a sheet of cold press watercolour paper as I did in 1997, I decided to mount them to canvas panels using the different sized panels allowed greater freedom of composition. This necessitated making enlargements of my backgrounds and then piecing them together onto the canvas panel. I cut out all of the elements I wish to place on the background and rather than just rough cut and slap them down, I cut out everything very carefully including negative spaces in say the crook of a figure's arm or some part where when cut out would reveal the background.

I also looked at the particular line quality of each element with a view towards matching it. I wanted the collage to have a visual logic to it so that each part would be believable as a whole. One of the developments of the modern photocopier is that you can print images in reverse if desired. In the closeup of the collage below, the lady in the middle ground has been reversed so that her shadowing matches the troubled gentleman in the foreground as well as the lighting of the ruins behind them. The composition is being treated exactly the same as though I were doing a paintings.

I Now Know What I Must Do, detail
Click on image to enlarge

The use of colour is designed to stand out from the sepia toned collages I see so much of which is to say the collage is meant to be brand new rather than a weathered and aged object found in an attic somewhere. The colours also are tied to my normal painting palette but in the case of collage I use transparent glazes so as not to obscure the underlying original detail. My colours are described as jewel toned in my paintings, I wanted to maintain this quality in the collages.

I also want the collages to suggest their own stories in the viewer's mind. Fans of the writing of Wilkie Collins and J. Sheridan LeFanu and other Victorian writers of the mysterious and the fantastic will have no trouble conjuring up narratives in their minds. However, I found that viewers completely unfamiliar with the conventions of the Victorian novel easily came up with universal narrative to describe what they thought the collages were about. Steampunk is a fascination of mine and some of my 1997 era collages were definitely steampunk and some of the 2009 images will revisit some of that territory with a new eye. In the end, the themes of my paintings and my collages are not all that far apart if at all.

Your experience may vary.