Friday, February 19, 2010

Maybe Tomorrow?

I had hoped to finish a painting I started in early January. But the new teaching job has pulled me away from painting (not that I'm complaining about having that job!), and even when I'm not involved in doing that, sometimes I'm too #$%&@ tired to paint! (I'm getting old, I guess; in fact, I've been old for a long LONG time now!) =)

One more good day of painting otta do it! This piece is the type that takes me a little longer to do: buildings/architectural features, with people walking around. At least the people will be pretty much distant, but they still need to look SOMEthing like human beans!

Well, maybe I can finish the thing tomorrow. I'm ready for it to be done -- I've got other ideas in my head waiting to stumble out and come to life on canvas.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Church Art in the Greek Tradition

Yesterday The Wiffee and I attended a Greek Festival in Palm Desert, CA. Festivals like this are always fun, but for us, the crowning jewel was the interior of the church that sponsored the Festival.

The church is St. George Greek Orthodox Church of the Desert. Most of the artwork ("icons") were in the form of mosaic, with gold tiles filling in where goldleaf would go on paintings. While I normally am not a huge fan of Byzantine/medieval-styles of art, I'll have to admit the art of this church was beautiful without being garrish. The interior was colorful and warm, and even as visitors, it felt comfortable being inside the church. And we're not of Greek descent or even Orthodox!

I've read that God gave us the ability to appreciate beauty and, therefore, to appreciate His beauty. If there are any readers out there who design church interiors, or if you're a church board member looking for ways to honor God with some of the beauty He created -- take note!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Notched-Ear Bunny

A desert cottontail that frequents our small desert yard is one I've nicknamed The Notched-Ear Bunny.

You can't see the notch -- it's on the outside of his right ear which is hidden behind my hand as I offer him a piece of apple.

As you can see, he's a little bolder than most of the bunnies around here -- he'll cautiously come up to me to see if I have an apple piece to give him. He'll take it from my fingers, then run off a short ways to eat it as he keeps an eye on me. Just taking a picture of him was enough to make him run off, although he came right back.

In some ways, bunnies coming up to human beans isn't a good thing for bunnies to do, but it did work to his advantage on one occasion.

Some months ago, I noticed he had a cactus spine stuck in his head above his eye. Normally, bunnies just grab spines in their teeth and pull them out. But there was no way for him to get at this one. And when he got into scuffles with other bunnies (they sit up on their hindlegs and rapidly scratch at each others' faces with their forepaws), The Notched-Ear Bunny would actually scream out in pain. I'm sure it didn't feel good to have a paw brush down against a spine embedded in his head.

Finally one day, he came over looking for apple goodies, and I thought: now's my chance to remove the spine! When he came for the apple, I was able to reach over with my other hand and, after three tries, grabbed the spine and pulled it out. I suspect, in his own way, he appreciated what I did, and this simple act made me feel like a hero or somethin'! And he got his piece of apple when he returned the fourth time, sans spine.

If The Notched-Ear Bunny had never developed the habit of coming over to me for hand-held goodies, I could never have done this for him.

And he's still around, begging for apple goodies. Today, I gave him two. I thought he deserved them.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Inspiration from Classical Music

I listen to all kinds of music. But generally, I turn to classical music to help me think about moods when I want to paint.

One example is the music of Claude Debussy, a 19th century French composer. He has been described as a sort of impressionist: he was to music what Monet was to painting. I’m not sure I’d go along with that viewpoint, but Debussy certainly had a gift for writing music and developing chord structure that seems to form images in my mind. I’m thinking particularly about Claire de Lune or his Three Nocturnes, all which produce themes of moonlight on the landscape, clouds drifting across the sky or the haunting, irresistable voices of the sirens from Greek mythology.

On top of all that, my first Debussy recording, a 12″ LP on vinyl, has an amazing photograph on the cover where you are looking across still water toward a softly-focused forest at night with a distant nude female (a water nymph?) standing by the water’s edge. I’ve always loved that photo, and very soon I want to start a painting that will be loosely based on that pic. It will be my own image, but the inspiration for it will be driven by the photo and the magical, mystical music of Claude Debussy.

And besides — I love the moonlight! It’ll all be perfect! I can’t wait to get started.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Plodding Along

One nice thing about knowing I'll be getting a paycheck next week: I'm running low on art supplies, and I'll need to buy more!

Teaching aside, I'm continuing to make art as time (and awakeness) permit.

I've been in touch with a number of artists I know who work in a traditional/classical style, as I do. We're all singing the same tune: art sales are down. We're not entering as many art shows -- too much money up front at a time when the risk is simply too high. Galleries aren't selling well, either.

So we're all painting and trying to survive as best we can. The other artists congratulated me on getting the teaching job, especially during this economy. I'd have to agree -- it could be much worse.

And I'll keep plodding along, painting new subjects and -- more than likely -- storing the newer works until money and art are changing hands again. I'm sure it will -- someday.