Thursday, May 27, 2010

Battle of the Brushes - Reality TV meets Art!

While I sat drinking coffee after a short nights sleep, the skies, clouds and water all turned a soft grey and rumblings of thunder cascaded over me as it started to pour rain. It was one of those mornings that make you want to stay in bed or on the couch with a remote and your loyal dog by your side. But my mind kept whirring over all the tasks in front of me so I did what any good, responsible retired person would do. I turned on the tv.

Several episodes of West Wing later I half heard a promo spot for a new tv show premiering on Bravo in June called, "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist."  What? A reality art show? Did I hear that right? I went to Bravo's website to find out more.

Well there it was. It is even produced by Sarah Jessica Parker's production company, Pretty Matches. After reading the contestant bio's I was surprised to find they are established artists vs those dreaming of it. Meaning they have already had solo shows at quality galleries, some with art already hanging in established museums. For some reason I couldn't find samples of their work on the website but it appears at first look Pretty Matches did a good job of picking a diverse and hopefully interesting group of contestants (as said from a been there, done that retired TV exec).

The judges are another matter. It is hard to tell from their bios exactly how it will work and my first impression is that there are too many contestants and too many judges but maybe since art is highly subjective they need a cross section of so called experts in the room or maybe they will be guiding them through the weekly competitions vs be involved in the entire series. We'll have to wait and see.

So what is it about these reality shows? I admit to watching a few. And I know they are cheap to produce and for some grow network ratings. But I would have thought by now they had passed their prime as uh, yup, I was one of the only ones still watching American Idol this season. I know, I know how could I??!! But I enjoy watching the "evolution" of talent and captured by the performance under pressure aspect. Take for example what took place last season on Idol when Adam Lambert seemingly from the second tier bench performed "Mad World" and blew everyone else out of the water. It just shows all of us what is possible when you believe in yourself, work hard and stretch your limits...oh yeah...and "pick the right song."

Well maybe this show will start people talking about art. Is it art? Who decides it is good? And the all to famous - if you can make art in a few hours it can't be any good (no one remembers it took fifteen years of practice to be so lucky - or better said, "the more I practice the luckier I get").  And I remember a line in the movie Mona Lisa Smiles when Julia Roberts takes her art history students to a museum to see a painting by a new artist, Jackson Pollack when she says, "you don't have to like it but you do have to consider it."

So don't forget to set your DVR's to record "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist" on Bravo as it premieres June 9th and airs at 11PM!!??

And check out the links below to find out more about the show. There's even a virtual sketch pad! Java!

Link to Work of Art Website

Link to Work of Art Sketchpad

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We Are All Blessed in a Million Small Ways

While I was away from the studio for nearly three weeks I fell back into nature for inspiration as I witnessed the birth of yet another New England spring. My parents live a few miles from the ocean yet it was the sounds of the wind through the tall fir trees while sitting alone on the back deck one evening that caught my heart and pulled my eyes upward to catch the sun dancing within the swaying branches. I tilted my head back, closed my eyes and let my soul rock like a babe in her mother's arms. I don't know the name of the magic trees that sound like ocean waves in the wind but I know I will never forget how wonderful this place is because of them.

These moments rekindled my passion for writing which I found both a curse and a blessing. The expectations we creatives put on ourselves is such a curse - we think we should be able to pick up our (brush/pen/golf club/spatula/skis/what have you) and after much time away be just wonderful again. Yet the simple act of doing brought great joy for it is in these moments that we see that we are all blessed in a million small ways.

Now this is not to say I didn't try to paint while away. My mom has a small studio set up in an upstairs bedroom and my dad has a more extensive studio set up in the basement and I used both.

One of my favorite's from my mom's sold paintings. 

When my parents first retired and moved to Cape Cod in 1985 they started painting again. For my mom it had been a 40 year hiatus and yet after a few quick months she was painting really wonderful landscapes and portraits (see example above) and spent many successful years on the Cape summer art show circuit.  Mom still paints today, though on a limited scale, and when I arrived sitting on her easel was a wonderful small landscape. I was relaxing there into the nice light when I picked up one of the small blank 8 x 10 canvases and starting pushing some paint around and got lost for awhile.

Later that week I thought it best to try my dad's basement studio. Dad has painted on and off for most of his life and had a small studio set up in the basement of my childhood home that I liked to visit. Below is one of his landscapes and you can also see examples of his older works on the walls in the "studio" photograph. It was fairly easy to get myself set up and after I turned up my favorite painting music I was able to complete an underpainting of a portrait there.

Above: One of my dad's Cape landscape paintings. 
Below: Glimpse of dad's studio with a variety of his older works.

Now that I'm back in the Hollingsworth Gallery painting studios it is wonderful to see familiar faces and get hugs and kind words from my art family and review my works in progress. I will sit and stare at the current projects awhile until they tell me what to do next. In the meantime I have started some new projects and will share soon. To my friends, fans and readers a big thank you for your support and friendship. Java!

P.S. It was my mom that started me on the art journey. She sat me down in the living room one day and gave me a sketch pad and placed one red apple in the middle of the table and said, draw this. I think one of my brother's was there when we started but soon left. I don't remember how well that session went but I remember hiding upstairs in my room as a young child drawing either the "lumberjack" or "pinky." Remember these? They were in the backs of magazines accompanied by the words, "if you can draw "pinky" (a portrait of bambi) we want you!" I bet I could still draw them both right here and now.