Let the horizon take you gently into the brightness..

"The only way I knew to love you, was to cut the cord and watch you float away."

--The Devil's Plea

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Almost two weeks ago, on November 24, we had the opening reception of Graham Preston's art show, The Devil's Plea, which included a musical performance by John Beacher, who helped write the song with Graham: a ballad about the devil's fall retold as a sad tale of lost love. There was also a beautiful dance performance by John's sister, Ixeeya Beacher.  As I explained in a previous blog post, the artwork was an expansion of the song, inspired by it.  The paintings are not literal translations, but dreamlike allusions.  

These two paintings mirror each other.

These two paintings mirror each other.

Graham and John have been working on this project for a couple of years, and it was a real honor to be able to participate in this collaboration by providing a space for it to see fruition.  

Ixeeya dancing while John sings!  My studio turned into a forest-scene, the floor covered in fallen leaves... Photo Credit: Lauralee Longname

Ixeeya dancing while John sings!  My studio turned into a forest-scene, the floor covered in fallen leaves...

Photo Credit: Lauralee Longname

At the end, there were several beautiful songs, and a poem.  The entire audio can be found here:

Graham describes it this way:  The project began as paintings of contemporary illuminations that operate almost as illustrations, telling a reinvented cultural myth of how Lucifer fell in love with Eve, that John Beacher and I developed through music. As time progressed, the imagery fell into the complexity of complete abstraction.

All of the paintings are for sale and are 14”x 17“ acrylic on paper, mounted on gilded, hand made panels by Graham. They are $425 each.  Here are images of the paintings (untitled):

This is one of a set of three abstracts, some of my favorites in the show.  

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Here you can see these three paintings together.  (These must be purchased as a set of three.)  What you can't see on your screen is the gold leaf flecked over their surfaces, so come check them out in person!

Here are five more paintings that I included in my previous blog post, The Devil's Plea.  

Some Personal Reflexions

So, the whole thing was so intense, so emotional, and so exhausting yet wonderful.  Sitting in my studio-gallery for nine hours the next day, I became overwhelmed and I began to cry.  I couldn't understand why nobody had bought a painting; I felt so emotionally and physically invested in the whole thing.  But, in addition to feeling my emotions, I had a lot of time to think about why it's important to do art: to connect with people!  And I was amazed how a collaboration can produce something so much greater than the sum of its parts.  How we measure success is so strange, if we limit it to financial success.  As far as making connections with the community and tapping into the larger spirit of cosmic creativity, and making an event which brought all those amazing paintings and people together, it was a HUGE success!  

I wrote to Graham about my feelings, and he responded with his own personal thoughts, which I have found very helpful, so I'm sharing them with you:

I never in my life have made anything of value that revolved around selling it.  I feel that generally when we make real art, it's never received well in the way most people traditionally measure things... especially financially.  We live in a world where most people need something to be a popularized trend before they even consider trying it, none the less buy it.  They need to feel like it's legitimized by someone or something.  To sell those paintings we need real collectors who realize the philanthropic importance of supporting artists... and of those people, they also have to like the paintings and believe in the mission... all that doesn't really matter.  What we made was truly beautiful and it's just a a starting point!  We gave people an experience and a truly special one and that alone was worth every second of exhaustion and stress it took to pull it off.

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Thanks for reading my blog and following my adventures as I try and figure out my place in the art world as an artist and "gallery" owner.  I'm new at this, so there will be a lot of heart-felt fumbling, but also excitement and joy.

Anyway, come see these pieces in person before the show comes down.  They really are amazing experienced in a group, it's like standing in a room of stained-glass windows!

Last day to see the show: Dec. 24th!  I'll be open weekends through Christmas Eve, Saturdays 10-3, Sundays 12-4

Lauren Kindle Studio

7B North Bank St., Easton, PA 18042

And by appointment: lauren@laurenkindle.com

Ixeeya, John, me, and Graham! photo credit: Lauralee Longname

Ixeeya, John, me, and Graham!

photo credit: Lauralee Longname

The Devil's Plea

"How could I not grow to love you?" -- the Devil's Plea

graham.jpg

Today's blog post is a poem and paintings by Graham Preston, in anticipation for the opening reception on Friday! Graham wrote the lyrics for a ballad which inspired the paintings, and John Beacher put it to music.  Live performance Friday at 7 pm!

a poem by graham preston

From out the forest grew Eden,

From out the holy graves of silent fox holes and the ancient homes of velociraptors walked Adam.  And they say, from that simple man, God cut a rib.  Like a tusk of ivory, like a sacred pearl, blood was rinsed from bone, and the Lord's holy golden fingers held that piece of Adam to the sky, when all of a sudden, calcium lit up like the reflection of crude oil, whose colors sprayed through the corners of space in such glory that all the black holes went blind.  You walked out from rays, from where God's hands were, your toes stepping over earth, over the tombs of things that never knew they were alive, and from out of them grew flowers.  With each step came daisies, and tulips, and orchids, and soon the forest and the hills were covered in color.

From your mouth you would make sounds, and for those sounds God made beasts to house them, so every time you spoke came new life.  And then you sang, oh my did you sing, how beautiful your song, your breath in decibels, so glorious that God filled the oceans with His tears.  Within His hysterics and by the power of your music, the undulations of His gasp turned the waves, and their crashing created atmosphere.  By then, even the moon bent to you, its sights glued open just to watch you, with intermittent blinking, pulling the draw of the tides as its eye opened and closed just so.

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The void from Adam's chest kept him whimpering for days.  Days at a time, when time was new, when time was not yet time.  For the hours were days, the days years, and through those years your flowers grew, your beasts called you, and your ocean rolled. 

Adam was yet to  love you.  The pain was too great, the wound too fresh.  The cut so deep, God's first try laid upon the ground, yet to put his feet back under his weight, yet to open his eyes even to see you.  

I was the only one.  Perched in the branches, inside the eyes of your beasts.  Days upon days, years upon years... How could I not grow to Love you?  You ask me if God is cruel.

I ask you, how cruel is it to be conscious, to be present, to be of mind, to be before you and sworn not to touch you, to swim in your streams, move through your flowers, and hide behind the eyes of your beasts?  You, the most beautiful thing, my most sacred admiration, the wonder of my existence?

I knew God's laws.

I was made a part of you, before you,

Made to be of Him, for Him, for you

In you, a part of you, to care for you,

I was set here before to govern, to chaperone the exchange of life into death.

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Where fuel burns into fuel, teeth into flesh over life-gasps.  I was assigned the needs between sleep.  I was made to uphold the rule over the destruction of what you made in order to support the making of new life.  You and I were destined. 

Fuck Adam.  You are so much more than his absence of bone.  I felt your fields, I sang back to you as your beasts, I worshiped you, swimming in the movements of your waves.  Even God didn't know what that was like.  Days into years, Adam on the ground.  You Naked.  Temptation wasn't born with me, temptation was born in us.  Trust me when I say that there has never been emptiness like the forsaken absence of your presence.  And Trust me when I say that it was worth it.

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I am the apple,

I am the snake,

I am the tree and 

Your hands touched,

Your teeth gripped,

your lips sucked, and your tongue turned 

juices and such.

Fuel burned into fuel and so on 

and so on...

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The Devil's Plea

Opening Reception: Friday, November 24th, 6-9 pm

Music performance by John Beacher 7 pm

Paintings by Graham Preston

Note from Lauren:  I have known John and Graham for decades; we were in school together growing up.  I recently reconnected with Graham (in 2014) and I credit him with inspiring me to be an artist.  Or, at least, he made me realize what was already alive within my own heart, and encouraged me to pursue it.  Read about this experience in my blog post: "Housewife on Fire."  Through Graham, I have since reconnected with John, and I'm very excited to collaborate with these old friends, who have grown into such talented, kind, and wonderful men.  

Additional Reading: my blog post "Eve" from two years ago.

And finally, here's the intro to another song that will be performed Friday.  Come here the whole thing in person!

Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 2

"Slow down and contemplate things."

--Israel Hershberg, artist

Here I am in Fort Sangallo, a museum in Civita Castellana, Italy, the town where I lived for two weeks.

Here I am in Fort Sangallo, a museum in Civita Castellana, Italy, the town where I lived for two weeks.

So, anyone who talks to me for more than 30 seconds knows that I went to Italy to paint this summer.  I'm slowly writing about my experience, because it was just so full.  In Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 1, I wrote about my pre-trip excitement, my hopes and dreams, and a little bit about arriving in Civita Castellana.  I'll continue from there...

It took me several days to get my bearings.  I wrote in my diary:

July 11, 2017: I'm so tired.  What a full two days.  I feel like I have been here so long...It's 5 pm.  I just woke up from a much-needed siesta.  So hot here.  My apartment is lovely.  I'm not sure how to organize my time.  Everyone else is soooooo much better than me, I feel like I'm floundering....

I often had espresso in the Club Cafe, in the Piazza Matteotti in Civita’s Centro.  This is where we had art critiques on Saturdays.

I often had espresso in the Club Cafe, in the Piazza Matteotti in Civita’s Centro.  This is where we had art critiques on Saturdays.

Angelo and Giusy own the Club Cafe.  They were so kind to me!  Che bella coppia!

Angelo and Giusy own the Club Cafe.  They were so kind to me!  Che bella coppia!

Diary, July 16th... I'm learning so much!  Honestly, the overwhelm can be intense!  I'm eating a lot of food, drinking wine, walking a lot with my easel on my back, and enjoying life fully!

Diary, July 18th... So here I am, a hot, sunny peaceful evening, sitting in my apartment kitchen in Italy!  I'm re-writing some notes from the critiques with Israel Hershberg [the main teacher in this program].

Notes from Israel's Critique

  • Try to say more about how paint meets paint.
  • Vary the treatment of how I put things down.
  • Get to the essence, the distillation of things.  That's the reason we invest things with time.
  • Painting is a fiction.  It's always been a fiction.  Fiction is Real.
  • Spend time mixing color.
  • Don't  be fussy.  Put down direct, impersonal marks.
  • Slow down and contemplate things. 
Here is Israel (far left) during a critique, with Marsal in the center, and Christina on the right.

Here is Israel (far left) during a critique, with Marsal in the center, and Christina on the right.

I also learned so much from the other artists in the program, especially Marsal Nazary and Christina Renfer Vogel

Marsal painted beside me a couple of days and generously gave me critiques and guidance.  

Some of Marsal's painting tips:

  • make decisions
  • consider the temperature of the colors
  • try "killing the colors" in the shadow, to neutralize them a bit (with opposite color)
  • try a premier coup, a painting done in one quick session

Christina Renfer Vogel, also gave me a lot of good feedback as well.  Although she was a fellow artist-resident in Italy, back in America, she is an actual art professor in Tennessee.  I loved talking with her about being a painter and a feminist.  Her most helpful advice was to "guard your studio time!"  (I use this advice every day.)  She also gave some suggestions of artist residencies I might pursue in the future and some good books.

Christina's Reading List

  • Living and Sustaining a Creative Life by Sharon Louden (I read it already: wonderful)
  • Artist as Culture Producer by Sharon Louden
  • Art/Work by Heather Bhandari
Here is Christina painting.  Follow her on instagram: @studio_side_project

Here is Christina painting.  Follow her on instagram: @studio_side_project

I loved spending time with other artists.  That was one of my favorite things about being in Italy.  This was the first time in my life that I have ever lived in a community of artists, and I can't describe how wonderful it was.  Often we cooked and ate together, staying up late and talking about art for hours.  It was heavenly.  Here is a dinner table filled with wonderful artists.  Hopefully I will eventually write about all of them in future posts!

Amazing artists from left to right: Theresa Morgan, Yael Dryzin, Florentina Munteanu, Lauren Ratcliffe, my roommate Kristen Peyton, and Laura Vahlberg.  Laura recently wrote a guest blog post!

Amazing artists from left to right: Theresa Morgan, Yael Dryzin, Florentina Munteanu, Lauren Ratcliffe, my roommate Kristen Peyton, and Laura Vahlberg.  Laura recently wrote a guest blog post!

So, in addition to the teachers and my artist peers, I also made many wonderful Italian friends.  Here are two very special people: Elvira and Antonio!  I met Elvira one evening when I was painting on the sidewalk near downtown, and we started chatting (in Italian!) and we became friends.  They allowed me to visit several times, paint on their rooftop garden (a view of Civita rooftops!) and Elvira cooked me a couple delicious dinners.

Elvira and Antonio.  My new Italian family!

Elvira and Antonio.  My new Italian family!

The dinner Elvira made for me!!!! Fantastico!

The dinner Elvira made for me!!!! Fantastico!

Here I am, painting on the roof of Elvira and Antonio's house.  See more paintings in this post: "My Paintings and Sketches from Italy."

Here I am, painting on the roof of Elvira and Antonio's house.  See more paintings in this post: "My Paintings and Sketches from Italy."

Well, that's all I have time to write tonight.  I'm feeling very nostalgic about Italy, and wishing so much that I could return.  Sigh...

In my next Italy post, I'll tell you about our Piero della Francesca field trip.

Until then, ci vediamo dopo!

 

Other Italy Posts:

Roman Moon (poems)

Loveliest of What I Leave Behind  (guest teacher Susan Jane Walp)

Intentional Loitering

I'm Going to Paint in Italy!

Chris Liberti: thoughts on painting

“I’ve learned to surrender myself to both family and art and to make the most out of the time I spend with each.”

-- Chris Liberti

Red placemat 12"x16" oil on wood 2016

Red placemat

12"x16" oil on wood 2016

Earlier this year, I sent an email to the artist Chris Liberti, expressing my love of his paintings and my desire to write about him on my blog.  His response was kind and encouraging.  Not long after that, I heard an interview of Chris on the Savvy Painter podcast!  The interview is fantastic and I highly recommend listening to it.  I especially love the way Chris describes being a parent of two small children, and how he manages to balance parenthood and painting.  He also briefly mentions yoga and meditation as being important to him.  I was curious to know more, so I sent him another email.  His answer—simple yet profound-- has been so helpful to me and my own personal struggles (as an artist, parent, and human being), so I am sharing it with you.  Here it is:

A Guest Blog Post by Chris Liberti...

Studio Desk 16"x20" oil on wood 2016

Studio Desk

16"x20" oil on wood 2016

I’m not a Yogi or meditation guru by any means and I’ve only started practicing one year ago, but here are my thoughts in brief.  I realized that by doing yoga and meditation, I was able to improve other aspects of my personal life and well-being.  Instead of laboring in the studio as much as possible, I began to carve out time to practice yoga, meditation, and exercise in general.

Time 27"x32" oil on wood 2017

Time

27"x32" oil on wood 2017

Focusing on my mental and physical well being has helped me more than any amount of time spent overly consumed working on paintings.  It has allowed me to think clearer and to imagine the kind of paintings I want to make.  There is also a certain confidence that comes with this sense of clarity that has allowed me to make bolder, more interesting choices in my work. I feel I spend less time struggling to get a painting somewhere.  It has become easier for me to step back, when the time is right, instead of overworking it.

I believe that thinking about painting is equally important as painting itself.

Nothing is ever put straight 27"x36" acrylic and painted paper on wood 2017

Nothing is ever put straight

27"x36" acrylic and painted paper on wood 2017

As for advice on balancing family and art:

Schedule, consistency and pattern are highly important. Also, an easily accessible studio space, preferably at home. Try to limit distractions that provide little value. If the family is around and I’m distracted at the easel, I’ll usually turn to doing more mindless tasks that need to get done regardless, like gessoing panels, taking photos etc.

 

Note 18"X18" oil on wood 2016

Note

18"X18" oil on wood 2016

I’m learning to turn off the “painting brain” when I’m with my family and tune into them. I’ve learned to surrender myself to both family and art and to make the most out of the time I spend with each. I recall my wife saying “we only get one chance to raise our children”. I took my 6 year old daughter to one of my galleries and told her she should bring a painting of hers to show them.  She loved the idea and was proud to do so. The owner played along and she talked about it for days.

3 Windows 22"x25" oil on wood 2017

3 Windows

22"x25" oil on wood 2017

 

Chris LIberti will be leading a painting workshop, Making Confident Decisions, in Charlotte, NC on November 10-12, 2017.  This weekend!  The workshop will be held at Andy Braitman's studio.

If you are interested in signing up, please contact Chris for details.

Piano 12"x12" Oil on wood 2016 

Piano

12"x12" Oil on wood 2016 

We Work Beside the Wind

a short story by Lauren Kindle

“Nature only wants to be loved.  She gives herself only to her true lovers.” --Corot

The Gardens of the Villa d'Este at Tivoli, oil painting by Corot

The Gardens of the Villa d'Este at Tivoli, oil painting by Corot

Berthe steadied her easel in the tall grass by the river’s edge.  She pressed the thin wooden legs firmly into the earth, and then paused to wipe the sweat from her brow with the hem of her heavy skirt.  She pulled a strand of damp hair off her cheek and shook her head as if to clear her mind.  It was terribly hot for an April day, and there was hardly any shade along this section of the Oise River.  But there was a cool breeze that came now and then, to bring some small relief.

Berthe’s sister Edma, painting a few yards away, gave a little shriek as the wind took the pages of her sketchbook and tossed them into the swiftly flowing water.  The girls’ teacher looked up from his own easel farther down the bank and laughed softly to see the two Morisot sisters racing through the grass to salvage Edma’s remaining drawings.

“Ah, it is good to be young,” he said, walking slowly towards them.  Old Corot, as his students fondly called him, was tall and strong, with a large build and a craggy, rugged face.  He was an old man of sixty years, but still handsome.

Mademoiselles, you must return to your work,” he said kindly.  “You wanted to work out of doors, yes?”

“Oh, yes!” Berthe gasped, trying to catch her breath.  Edma was laughing giddily beside her, face flushed.

“And so,” Corot gestured to the landscape.  “We have the wind!  And even so, we work, we work beside the wind.  We do not give up.”

Chastened, Edma gathered up her sketches and returned to her easel.  Berthe did the same, holding her brush out in front of her.  She took a deep breath and narrowed her eyes to simplify the values of the landscape before her: the river, the trees, the distant hills, and the faraway rooftops of Auvers.  She painted the sky a pale cobalt blue, wielding her brush ferociously, stabbing at her canvas in an aggressive manner.

Suddenly, Berthe stiffened; the back of her neck prickled.  It was just a feeling of heat in the air behind her, and she knew Corot was very close, although he made no sound.  He was so close she could smell him, a pleasant, familiar smell of leather and tobacco.  Her heart beat faster as he gently took the paintbrush out of her hand and began to paint as he talked, masterfully laying one block of color beside another on her canvas.

Non, ma chérie,” he murmured.  “You must slow down.  Now, first we paint the clouds, and then, see, we bring the sky in around them.  And this verte éméraude, she irritates me, she is so harsh.  You must subdue her just so.”

Corot deftly mixed the ready-made green with the burnt sienna on Berthe’s palette; his large hands moved confidently, with practiced sureness.  The movement caused the translucent, glistening walnut oil to slide across the palette, surrounding the pools of dark green oil paint with a new wetness.  Berthe bit her lip.

“When you are twenty, mademoiselle, you are so young,” Corot said as he painted.  “You think you are running a race.  But when you are old like me, you can savor each moment.  You have time, you have all the time you need.”

 

Berthe clenched her teeth and watched her teacher paint.  She didn’t feel like she had all the time she needed.  She was impatient, uneasy… There was a pain in her heart, and she felt suddenly heated and constricted; her very clothes confined her.  Had her corset always felt this tight?  Had it always encircled her ribs so cruelly? 

There was something fiercely burning inside of her, something sharp within the softness of her breasts, that womanly weak flesh.  It was like a point of steel, the dagger of a murderess, unyielding, ruthless.  It was her will, Berthe realized.  It was her desire, and she thrilled silently at the newness of her discovery.

I want to be a painter, Berthe told herself, finally understanding.   She hungrily licked the back of her teeth, and narrowed her eyes at the landscape before her.  A smile played at the corner of her mouth.  It was intoxicating, this new will, this splendid realization.  She cherished it like a forbidden secret. 

I want to be a painter.  I want it more than anything…

 

Corot

Corot

Later, as they prepared to return home, Old Corot called Berthe over to him.  Out of his traveling box he carefully took a painting, wrapped in a blanket.

“Sometimes I loan my students one of my paintings to take home and copy,” he said, handing it to her.  “I think this one will have something to teach you.  It is a view of Tivoli, in Italy.  Take your time with it, mademoiselle.  Take your time.”

Berthe slowly unwrapped the painting to reveal a scene: a boy sitting on a garden wall in the slanting afternoon sunlight, and beyond that, a rolling Italian landscape.  Speechless, Berthe simply held the painting tightly to her chest and closed her eyes.

Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot

That night, Berthe couldn’t sleep.  The painting was there, on the desk next to her bed, seeming to glow where the moonlight touched it.  She lay in bed and tried to relax, but the knowledge of the painting being so near made her hot and restless.  Berthe tossed her blankets off; she felt sweaty in her white nightdress.  She got up and paced the room, then turned and looked at the painting.

Standing before Corot’s painting, she felt her body occupy a sacred space, that area where the artist himself had once been.  Berthe thought about how Corot must have been standing in front of this very canvas when he was painting it.  His body had been in front of it, the way her body was now.  In this way, without ever really touching, they could experience a sort of intimacy, an intimacy of soft darkness, on the brink of unfathomable misery.

Berthe shivered and sighed, exhausted.  She lay back down in bed and slowly drifted into that dark realm of sleep, where the barriers of life fade into insubstantial shadows.

Berthe's copy of Corot's painting  (See more paintings from Berthe's long career as a painter)

Berthe's copy of Corot's painting  (See more paintings from Berthe's long career as a painter)

Laura Vahlberg

Ten Tips on Painting: 

Lessons Learned in Civita Castellana, Italy

I met Laura when I was in Italy this summer, when we shared the same apartment building.  She is an incredible artist and I enjoyed having long conversations with her about art and life.  Today on my blog, she shares ten important painting tips she learned after a month of painting in Italy.  I've included the tips with eight of her stunning paintings. 

Check out more of her work at lauravahlberg.com !

"Path" 14.5x11", $450

"Path" 14.5x11", $450

1. Composition wins over content

2. Reality begins after 3 large simple masses are the correct value, chroma, and temperature. 

"Farm," 12"x7 7/8", $350

"Farm," 12"x7 7/8", $350

3. Ask the motif.

4. A painting is a radical commitment to an idea

"Old Civita," 12 1/8"x 16 1/4", $500

"Old Civita," 12 1/8"x 16 1/4", $500

5. All colors must either be in the light world or the shadow world.

"Blue Car", 16"x12" $500

"Blue Car", 16"x12" $500

6. Humans have hunters' eyes to see in the dark. When we look into a color our eyes automatically lighten the color. Squinty peripheral vision shows us a more accurate color read.

"Bench". 15 1/8"x 11 7/8", $500

"Bench". 15 1/8"x 11 7/8", $500

7. A painting is a box of light and air

"Balcony View" , 16"x 12 1/8", $500

"Balcony View" , 16"x 12 1/8", $500

8. Color relationships are the most exciting

"Cypress" 11 1/8x 11 1/8", $400

"Cypress" 11 1/8x 11 1/8", $400

 

9. A lifetime of motifs are in my backyard

"Rooftops" 6 3/4x 6 7/8, $1,000

"Rooftops" 6 3/4x 6 7/8, $1,000

10. Allow for accidents.

"Olive Grove" 17x14" $650

"Olive Grove" 17x14" $650

Nancy Bossert: Artist

“If you expect one thing from me, you will not advance with me.” -Nancy Bossert

"Submerge" 28x30" mixed media painting on archival paper by Nancy Bossert

"Submerge" 28x30" mixed media painting on archival paper by Nancy Bossert

 

my recent October Artist Profile article in the Easton Irregular newspaper

Ever since I moved to Easton 10 years ago, I have admired Nancy Bossert’s work. I frequently saw her art at Connexions, one of the galleries that represents her locally.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and have coffee with Nancy, and we had a lovely conversation about art. She is an energetic and confident person, and as we drank our coffee together, she talked candidly about her work.

Almost everything inspires her to create art. “It’s a constant barrage,” she says. “Everywhere, I see the lines, the angels, the compositions…” Since she was very young, she has always known she wanted to be an artist. She describes her desire to create as a strong and intimate force in her life. “It’s so innate. It’s so passionate.

This passion manifests itself in a seemingly diverse body of work, encompassing representative figurative paintings, abstract pieces, fiber arts, stoneware, and jewelry, to name just a few elements. But there always is a common thread, and it’s not just the unity in value, composition, and palette, but also that more nebulous characteristic of art, which can’t be put into words exactly. This is what I might call the artist’s spirit, which shines clearly out of everything she makes.  

"Mother May I" oil on canvas, 24x18"

"Mother May I" oil on canvas, 24x18"

Some artists might find it daunting to have so many options available to them, but Nancy obviously thrives in this freedom. She doesn’t see her different styles and mediums as vastly separate things; they inspire and influence each other in a seamless interconnectivity. “For example,” she explains, “The abstract informs my figurative pieces. And vice versa.”

For her paintings, she again embraces a multitude of options: oil, acrylic, watercolor, gesso, and more. She likes to explore the combination of mass and linear elements in the same piece, juxtaposing the volume of a figure, for instance, and the roundness of the form, with the two-dimensional qualities of line and abstract shapes, reminding people that it’s a painting!

I personally find her pieces very evocative and narrative provoking. For example, her series of female figures submerging, or rising from the water, leads me to reflect on what it means to be a woman, to be hidden, invisible, or else to emerge, to reveal oneself to a public gaze. It seems to me that as a group, women have been silenced for various reasons, and that many have hidden stories which have not yet been told. Through her painting, Nancy begins to tell these stories. At least, that is some of my interpretation.

"Lowering into the Pool" 28x20" mixed media painting on archival paper by Nancy Bossert

"Lowering into the Pool" 28x20" mixed media painting on archival paper by Nancy Bossert

Bossert works constantly. She describes a disciplined studio practice: she gets up early, checks her computer, and then gets to work in her studio where she lives in Nazareth, PA. Sometimes she knows exactly what she wants to do from the beginning, and she works straight through the day. She values good craftsmanship, whether it’s abstract or figurative, or something else. Integrity is a top value.

In addition to being an artist, Nancy is also a teacher. For the past 40 years, she has taught all ages, publicly and privately. It’s clear that she enjoys teaching; her experience as a teacher generates inspiration for her studio work. “I’m not creating artists, but creative thought,” she remarks, describing her teaching philosophy. She wants to teach people how to create a different way of looking at a situation.

On her website, Nancy clearly sums up her enthusiasm for what she does:

“The excitement is to love what you do with such a passion, and creating fine art and teaching is just that. I find that I am eager to learn and experiment everyday and equally as passionate to educate others.”

"White Robe" 19x12" mixed media painting on archival paper by Nancy Bossert

"White Robe" 19x12" mixed media painting on archival paper by Nancy Bossert

Nancy Bossert has her annual Open Studio on October 15, 11am-6pm at 245 Schindler Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18020. Visit Nancy online at www.nancybossert.com, Facebook: Nancy Bossert, and Instagram: bossertnancy. Contact Nancy at nancybossert@gmail.com.

Loveliest of What I Leave Behind... (paintings by Susan Jane Walp)

Not “Revelation”—’tis—that waits,

But our unfurnished eyes—

 --Emily Dickinson

Melon with Two Xeroxes, Cork and Knife 1999 oil on linen 9x9.5"

Melon with Two Xeroxes, Cork and Knife
1999
oil on linen
9x9.5"

I met the artist Susan Jane Walp when I went to the Italy this summer.  She was a special guest teacher in the JSS program, and I was lucky to attend her lecture, during which she showed us many of her paintings.  My favorite part was when she read us some of her favorite poems.  Here are the poems, along with some of my favorite Susan Jane Walp paintings and drawings.  My favorite painting advice she gave during the lecture is this:

"There's a time for everything in painting: a time to begin, a time to end."

--Susan Jane Walp

Late Winter Beet and Spring-Dug Burdock 2010 oil on linen 8 x 8"

Late Winter Beet and Spring-Dug Burdock
2010
oil on linen
8 x 8"

Loveliest of what I leave behind is the sunlight,

and loveliest after that the shining stars,

and the moon's face,

but also cucumbers that are ripe,

and pears,

and apples.

--Praxilla of Sicyon, fragment 747

Three Zinnias in a Glass of Water oil on gessoed paper_9.75x9.375inches 2012 oil on gessoed paper 9.75 x 9.375"

Three Zinnias in a Glass of Water

oil on gessoed paper_9.75x9.375inches
2012
oil on gessoed paper
9.75 x 9.375"

No bone-chilling 

autumn wind

could pierce me

like this spring storm

scattering blossoms.

--Izumi Shikibu, translated by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani

Study for Papaya with Bowl of Walnuts 1994 graphite/colored pencil/gouache on hand-toned paper 11 x 15"

Study for Papaya with Bowl of Walnuts
1994
graphite/colored pencil/gouache on hand-toned paper
11 x 15"

Although the wind

blows terribly here

the moonlight also leaks

between the roof planks

of this ruined house.

--Izumi Shikibu

Four Figs, Two Swans, and Pair of Scissors 2017 oil on linen 10.125 x 10"

Four Figs, Two Swans, and Pair of Scissors
2017
oil on linen
10.125 x 10"

Surgeons must be very careful

When they take the knife!

Underneath their fine incisions

Stirs the Culprit—Life!

 

Emily Dickinson (c.1859)

Study for Blueberries wih Wax Paper Bag, Cork and Shell 2003 graphite/egg tempera on hand-toned paper 10 x 12 3/4"

Study for Blueberries wih Wax Paper Bag, Cork and Shell
2003
graphite/egg tempera on hand-toned paper
10 x 12 3/4"

By Chivalries as tiny,

A Blossom, or a Book,

The seeds of smiles are planted—

Which blossom in the dark.

 

Emily Dickinson (c.1858)

Olive Branch in a White Plastic Cup 2007 oil on paper 9 1/8 x 8 15/16"

Olive Branch in a White Plastic Cup
2007
oil on paper
9 1/8 x 8 15/16"

As I dig for wild orchids

in the autumn fields,

it is the deeply-bedded root

that I desire,

not the flower.

--Izumi Shikibu

 

Study for 'Succulent in a White Plastic Cup' 2007 graphite, felt tip pen, and gouache on hand-toned paper Sheet: 16 3/8 x 18 1/4" Image: 13 11/16 x 13 5/8"

Study for 'Succulent in a White Plastic Cup'
2007
graphite, felt tip pen, and gouache on hand-toned paper
Sheet: 16 3/8 x 18 1/4" Image: 13 11/16 x 13 5/8"

You can see some of Susan Jane Walp's work this Friday, October 6:

Art at King Oaks

a Bucks County pop-up exhibiton

 

opening reception 6-9 pm

 

756 Worthington Mill Road, Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 1

"...having always that strange brightness of an essential flame that is caught, meshed, contravened.."

--D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love

In case you don't know, earlier this year I received a two-week partial scholarship to do an artist-residency in Civita Castellana, Italy, part of the JSS program.  It was a huge deal for me!  My first time going overseas, my first time living in a community of artists, my first time being away from my husband and children for more than a night...in over a decade!  I was soooooo excited.  My flight was July 9th.  I missed the bus to Newark, so my husband drove me to the airport.  Here is my luggage:

My easel was in my backpack, clothes and oil paints in my suitcase, and novels in my purse.

My easel was in my backpack, clothes and oil paints in my suitcase, and novels in my purse.

I tried to cool my heels in the Newark airport.  I wrote frantically in my diary:

I'm so excited to be in Italy soon!  I'm nervous about getting on the plane.  I'm anxious about flying.  I'm scared of crossing the ocean.  And then I'll be in Italy!! Wow! I can't believe it.
So happy I almost floated up into outer space.  Luckily my luggage kept me grounded.

So happy I almost floated up into outer space.  Luckily my luggage kept me grounded.

To pass time in the airport, I made myself some goals... 

I met all the goals except #3. Because I was at a very fun dinner party and didn't want to leave.  Oh, and #1 didn't happen because there was no thunderstorm, but I did write a lot of poems...

I met all the goals except #3. Because I was at a very fun dinner party and didn't want to leave.  Oh, and #1 didn't happen because there was no thunderstorm, but I did write a lot of poems...

I flew over the ocean in the night.  I could see the full moon resting on the wing of the airplane, as we sped through the darkness.  I couldn't sleep at all.  In the morning, I looked down to see Italy!  It looked so beautiful, just like I dreamed it would.

Italy out the window of the plane!

Italy out the window of the plane!

I met some other artists at the airport in Rome, and there was a bus waiting to shuttle us to our apartment in Civita, a small town one hour north of Rome.  The drive was amazing; rolling hills and vineyards and mountains that looked like they were right out of paintings, and old buildings that looked sort of like castles, and cypress trees and miles of sunflowers.  The bus was filled with artists from different countries, and it was so exciting to get to know each other on that drive.

The deck of my apartment, the scene of many cups of espresso, conversations about art, and glasses of wine.

The deck of my apartment, the scene of many cups of espresso, conversations about art, and glasses of wine.

We arrived at our apartment.  It was a beautiful big house that had five separate apartments in it, and yet it was laid out in such a way that it felt private and spacious.  The house was owned by a wonderful couple, Patrizia and Fabrizio, who were so warm and welcoming to me during my stay.  

Fabrizio and Patrizia...and me in the middle!

Fabrizio and Patrizia...and me in the middle!

My room was so beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The view from my bedroom window.  Sigh...

The view from my bedroom window.  Sigh...

I shared a room with the Best Roommate Ever.  Her name is Kristen Peyton, and she is an AMAZING artist and wonderful person.  I plan to write a blog post all about her soon.  But why wait?  Check out her website now!

My roommate Kristen, sitting by our window.  xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

My roommate Kristen, sitting by our window.  xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Here is a painting Kristen did of the Duomo, the lovely church in the center of Civita.  

Here is a painting Kristen did of the Duomo, the lovely church in the center of Civita.  

Kristen taught me a lot about being an artist, mostly by example.  Her work ethic was admirable; together we got up and watched the sunrise with our espressos, before going out for a day of painting.  But, whereas I would come home and flop into my bed, exhausted, after a few hours of painting, Kristen managed to soldier on for several additional painting sessions.  She also put a lot of time into doing drawings with charcoal and pencil, and it was apparent that this practice supported her painting work, and it's something I would like to imitate.  

one of Kristen's drawings: "Civita Castellana", charcoal on paper, 9.5"x13" 

one of Kristen's drawings: "Civita Castellana", charcoal on paper, 9.5"x13" 

Kristen exposed me to new artists and ways of mixing colors, and she gave me valuable critique and encouragement.  She also inspired me to be a better human being just by being herself: a good person of humor, integrity, and compassion.

Also...we ate a lot of divine pasta together.  Mangiamo!!!

roommates.jpg

I have so much more to tell you about, including more photographs of the town of the Civita, stories about people I met, and food I ate, and trying to paint, and learning about making art, and learning about myself.  Not to mention our field trips to Florence and Urbino and other places, as well as my own solo-trip to Florence at the end.  But I'll try to tell my story slowly, over several blog posts, so that I can just savor the memory of it all beginning again.

Monte Soratte, the most painted mountain in art history, or so the story goes...  I walked past it every day when I went into town.

Monte Soratte, the most painted mountain in art history, or so the story goes...  I walked past it every day when I went into town.

My Paintings and Sketches from Italy

"It's such a lovely feeling, to know what I want to do with my life!  Paint!!!"

--excerpt from my diary from this July, when I was in Italy

"View from the New Town" 6x8" oil on linen mounted on board, with light-colored wooden floater frame,  $150

"View from the New Town" 6x8" oil on linen mounted on board, with light-colored wooden floater frame,  $150

I ate so much pasta in Italy, insane amounts of scrumptious carbs.  Luckily, all of this gluttony was balanced out by lots and lots of walking, carrying my 20+ pound easel.  One day I wandered across the bridge over the ravine that led to the new part of town.  Another, seasoned artist had suggested I try a certain terrace that had a good overlook.  I found it, and I painted this small study, "View from the New Town."  Just as I finished painting it, and had cleaned up my brushes, a bird flew over me and pooped on the painting.  I wondered if the bird was expressing some harsh critique, or if perhaps, in Italy, this was a sign of appreciation (for birds, anyway.)  Either way, I didn't feel like I wanted to get my brushes dirty again, so I just rubbed the poop in with my finger.  So, that makes it extra-special.

"Mattina" oil on board, 4x7" SOLD

"Mattina" oil on board, 4x7" SOLD

Even though I wasn't taking a class, (my artist residency resembled an independent study) I learned so much!  I can't stress enough how much I owe to the other artists I encountered in the JSS program.  It was humbling and awe-inspiring to be in their presence, and I was constantly absorbing new ideas, techniques, and perspectives from them.  I the  wrote about this painting [above] the day I painted it: 

I'm so grateful to be surrounded by amazing artists every I go, who are generous with their time and knowledge.  Yesterday, a young woman named Marsal gave me so many helpful little tips.  At her suggestion I tried this "premier coup," a small, one-shot sketch of the motif I was working on in a larger, slower way.  It was very cool doing the same thing at different speeds.  This is the little fast one.
"Montagne del mattino" 8x13.5" linen mounted on board in a light-colored wooden floater frame, $250

"Montagne del mattino" 8x13.5" linen mounted on board in a light-colored wooden floater frame, $250

The heat in Italy was so extreme!  It was nearly impossible for me to paint between noon and five pm.  I decided to get up at dawn every morning and paint when it was cooler.  My amazing roommate, Kristen Peyton, would get up with me.  Together, we made our espresso and simple breakfast of yogurt, nutella, and fruit, enjoying it out on the porch while we watched the sunrise.  Then, together, we shouldered our heavy easels (Kristen actually had a wagon that she used to drag all her painting gear around town!) and we headed out together for a morning of painting.  I spent three mornings on the painting above, trying to get that special misty green in the shadows of the ravine.  My new friend Marsal was painting nearby, and once again she gave me quite a bit of encouragement and helpful feedback.

"Cliff Shadows" oil on linen mounted on board, 5x6" (I think)  SOLD

"Cliff Shadows" oil on linen mounted on board, 5x6" (I think)  SOLD

While I painted this scene of cliff shadows and distant mountains [above], three little Italian kittens were watching me!  During my painting session, several local people approached the kittens, giving them food.  One little old woman came and scattered dry cat food in the corner, calling the kittens by name.  Later, a man came and brought some fresh meat for them.  Even though they were obviously alley-cats, they were loved and cared-for.

Gattini!  (Italian kittens...watching me paint!)

Gattini!  (Italian kittens...watching me paint!)

"Evening Light Across the Ravine" oil on linen mounted on board, 6x6" (unframed) $100

"Evening Light Across the Ravine" oil on linen mounted on board, 6x6" (unframed) $100

Every day I walked into town, sometimes several times a day.  I found a slightly longer route that took me along the ravine, and in the evening it was a quiet place to paint.  Hardly anyone was there, except for the occasional lovers trysting...

marker sketch for my first painting in Italy, 4x6" framed, $20

marker sketch for my first painting in Italy, 4x6" framed, $20

"My First Painting in Italy" oil on linen mounted on board, 4x6"  $75

"My First Painting in Italy" oil on linen mounted on board, 4x6"  $75

Painting makes me feel like I am flying!  I can't describe the joy that fills my heart.  After spending more than a day wandering around being jet-lagged and overwhelmed by beauty, I finally painted this sunny cliff-face [above].  It's my first time touching my paintbrush to linen in Italy.

I asked a man who lived nearby if he would take my picture, and he was happy to oblige.  And, can you believe it, I asked it in Italian!  I couldn't believe that I was able to have conversations with people who didn't speak English.  Of course, everyone was very patient with my mistakes and my asking them to repeat themselves and speak slower...

I asked a man who lived nearby if he would take my picture, and he was happy to oblige.  And, can you believe it, I asked it in Italian!  I couldn't believe that I was able to have conversations with people who didn't speak English.  Of course, everyone was very patient with my mistakes and my asking them to repeat themselves and speak slower...

"Iera Sera" (yesterday evening) oil on linen mounted on board, 4x6" unframed  $50  

"Iera Sera" (yesterday evening) oil on linen mounted on board, 4x6" unframed  $50  

On my sixth day in Italy, I had my first critique from the teacher of the JSS program, Israel Hershberg.  He suggested I pay attention to "where paint meets paint."  So, with that in mind, I set up my easel on an incredibly windy day and tried this motif.  Eventually the wind won.  I couldn't keep my easel from blowing over, so I called it finished.

Sketch for View of Civita, 3x5" framed $20

Sketch for View of Civita, 3x5" framed $20

"View of Civita" oil on linen mounted on board, 3x5" sketch  (Not for sale.  I gave this to my first grade teacher who has continued to give me encouragement and support even though I'm all grown up now!  Thank you Chris!)

"View of Civita" oil on linen mounted on board, 3x5" sketch  (Not for sale.  I gave this to my first grade teacher who has continued to give me encouragement and support even though I'm all grown up now!  Thank you Chris!)

While I was painting this [above], a group of Italian teenagers came up to me, and shyly offered me some fresh slices of watermelon.  It was so refreshing and delicious on a hot day!  What a sweet gift!

A photograph I took of Italian laundry!

A photograph I took of Italian laundry!

This is the last painting I did in Italy [below].  I was fascinated by all the laundry hanging everywhere in this tiny old town.  It struck me as so poetic, fascinating, and colorful.  Every little alley had its flags and streamers of colorful laundry, and I believe if I could have stayed another week or to, I would have done a whole series of laundry-paintings.  

When I was painting this, Yael Scalia happened to walk by.  She is an artist I have long admired, and it was partly my desire to meet her in person which inspired me to apply for this artist residency in the first place.  So of course I felt very glad when she came by twice and gave me some critique.  One helpful idea was to scrape away layers of paint with my palette knife, and sort of "start over" with the ghost of the painting remaining as a guide.  You can see scrapings pretty clearly in this, my first attempt at trying it.

"Signora, per favore, non lavora!" oil on linen mounted on board, 8x8" with wooden floater frame.  SOLD.

"Signora, per favore, non lavora!" oil on linen mounted on board, 8x8" with wooden floater frame.  SOLD.

The old woman pictured in the window of my painting tried to bring her laundry in while I was halfway through, and I cried up to her from the courtyard below: "Signora, per favore, non lavora!" which means (I think) "Ma'am, please don't work."  (Because I wasn't sure how to say "please don't do take your laundry in.")  Anyway, she thought I was hilarious, and laughed quite a bit.  Then she smiled indulgently, and allowed me to finish.  Every so often, she would poke her head out and ask how it was going.  Finally I called up, "Signora, ho finito!"

I'm finished.

But... I'm not finished with you, my dear Italy.  More blog posts to come.

photograph I took of some buildings in Civita

photograph I took of some buildings in Civita

Italia...

James Gloria (and the Riverside Arts Festival this weekend!)

“I don’t care about the finished painting as much as I care about painting.  
The process is what motivates me.”  

--James Gloria, artist

DelawareRiver.jpg

Here is my most recent Easton Irregular article, an artist profile about local artist, James Gloria.  Meet James this weekend at the Riverside Arts Festival in Easton!

James Gloria is a prolific, exuberant painter living and working in the lush Pennsylvania countryside near Bangor.  Currently, he is drawn to the immediacy of plein air painting, and his style is fluid, painterly, and confident.  He is interested in the process of painting, including the materials and techniques used by 16th century fresco painters, especially the technique of Scagliola.  James is persistent and patient in his work, and his curiosity about the materials and process has added depth and interest to what he does.  


In his artist statement, he says: “By developing a familiarity with the component parts of the materials and techniques of painting, I engage in a dialogue. Inconsistencies in materials are, in fact, opportunities to explore the dynamics  and properties of raw materials. Expectations are modified, new paths are opened, and new ideas are stimulated. A focus on the process becomes as meaningful as the product.”
James Gloria has led a very creative life, having studied Scenic and Costume Design at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.  For a while he worked as an apprentice designer and painter, and later on he started his own decorative arts business, painting murals and faux finishes.  In 2006, James and his wife, a former professional modern dancer, opened the Totts Gap Arts Institute.  They offer workshops, classes, and events in the fine and performing arts for all ages.  He also set up a weekly figure drawing session at Totts Gap, which meets every Wednesday and Thursday evening, and helps him to keep practicing the figure.

oughoughtoncreek.jpg


In his current plein air oil paintings, he often makes use of heavy impasto and large brush strokes, and he finds inspiration outdoors.  He greatly admires Sargent, Corot, and Sorolla.  When painting outdoors, James likes to remember these three goals given to him by his figure painting teacher Lloyd McNeill from Rutgers.  A good plein air painting should:
 Resemble the scene
Look like light
Look like paint
James makes a point to never abandon a painting.  “Even if you screw it up, you follow it through, and try to make it work,” he says.  “ Try to figure out why it’s not working.”  He compares painting to storytelling, in the sense that he doesn’t spell out every little thing.  Instead, he tries to describe the essence of the scene.  He also compares painting to music.  A musician himself, James plays improvisational jazz on the guitar.   
Whether it is storytelling, music, or painting, one doesn’t force emotion into the creative work, it just comes naturally.  James quotes another one of his teachers from Rutgers, Ilya Shevel, a Russian painter:  “I don’t know why you Americans are worried about putting emotions into your paintings, as if you had a choice.”  When you are an artist, there is no choice, there is just making the work, and allowing it to happen.
James explains his dedication to the artist path in his artist statement:  “For me, making art is a way of connecting with the essence of being, by living in the moment of the creative process.”

viewfromMtTammany.jpg


James Gloria will be at the Easton Riverside Festival of the Arts in Easton, PA, entering the Plein Air painting competition on September 16th and 17th.  More about the Riverside Arts Festival,  James Gloria, and the Totts Gap Art Institute, where James will be teaching several painting workshops, can be found on these websites:


www.jamesgloria.com
www.tottsgap.org
eastonriversidefest.org

Intentional Loitering

 

"...to stand or wait around with the intention of committing an offense."

--Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, a legal phrase from 1891

("offense" meaning Art, in my case)

IMG_5287.JPG

I can't seem to write about Italy in a linear way; it's going to come out over the next few months in fragments.  I feel much like a deep pond which reveals its hidden world slowly, as the mud settles to the bottom, and the light shines down into it.  If only I could stop thrashing about and stirring up more mud!  But when I sit quietly by myself, sipping a tiny cup of espresso (my new, Italy-induced addiction), I start to have a strong feeling, like I can almost see something really important, something that perhaps may have been within me all along, but has been roused during my time in Italy, and is now trying to make itself known.  

What could it be?

Blissfully lost in an old alleyway in Civita Castella...

Blissfully lost in an old alleyway in Civita Castella...

Shortly after I returned from Italy, in early August, I met up with the artist Jennifer Griffin.  I tried to describe to my experiences to her, including the unseen, internal changes I felt deeply.  Something about the culture of Italy had influenced me.  

I found that in Italy, there didn't seem to be the same intense focus on production, efficiency, and money, at least not what I was used to in America.  Instead, I felt I was in a different, slow, sensual sort of culture.  Wherever I wandered, I encountered an enthusiasm for really good food, fresh and delicious ingredients, a deep regard for the quality and beauty of the experiences and interactions, and a respect for leisure as a regular part of life.  

(Example: siestas... necessary after eating tons of pasta, as I did daily. See image below.)

Gnocchi and wine... one of my many divine meals in Civita Castellana!

Gnocchi and wine... one of my many divine meals in Civita Castellana!

I wanted to take some of that mindset, and bring it back home with me into my life.  I felt restless and agitated.

"I'm just not ready to go back to the way I used to work," I told my artist friend Jennifer.  "All those rigid goals....I used to just set a bunch of goals for myself each week and struggle arduously to check them off my to-do list."

I remember having a calendar in my studio with exactly what kind of painting I was going to do each day of the month.  I felt like I had to work this way, to prove to the world that I was a real artist and that I could make money and pay my rent.  But now, I no longer have an urge to work that way.  It just doesn't feel right any longer.

Me, painting in Civita Castellana, Italy.

Me, painting in Civita Castellana, Italy.

Jennifer suggested that I invite a different method of working into my studio practice.  She described something she called "intentional loitering."  I would go into the studio regularly (that's the intentional part) but once there, I would loiter, putter around, and see what kind art wanted to manifest.  It's a little frightening to let go of control like that!  

But I knew I had to try it because as she spoke, it was just like all these wonderful bells started to ring in my soul.  So that's just what I intend to do!

my palette in Italy

my palette in Italy

After spending time with Jennifer, I went home and wrote in my journal:

I feel deep in my heart that there is something inside of me-- there are paintings inside of me, that won't come out..they won't respond to that sort of dominating, controlling energy I used to have.  They need space, and quiet.  They are curious but shy.

This brings to mind these little black kittens in Italy that used to come onto the cobbled alley street and watch me while I painted, if I was quiet for a while. 

Curious, but shy.  

And yet...so wonderful, and so worth waiting for!

Gattini (Italian kittens)

Gattini (Italian kittens)

Roman Moon

"You know I'm lost/ and I don't want to be found."

--my poem (excerpt)

I have returned to America, and I'm ready to resume my weekly blogging.  Expect to hear a lot about my trip to Italy for the next few months!  To start it off this week, here are five poems I wrote in Italy.

Roman Moon

 

Young moon floating

in a Roman sky

You know I’m lost

and I don’t want to be found.

Ancient, twisting, and dangerous,

something about these dark streets

leads me back

to myself.

Train to Florence

 

Reckless and violent,

the train speeds over slick

wet tracks, through gray

olive groves and fields of sunflowers

shimmering in the misty rain,

fading into nonexistence.

My heart is in my throat,

my train ticket, crumpled and hot

crushed in my fist.

Writing Poems in the Uffizi

 

There is room for infinity in my heart.

 

I’m so hungry,

but not for you;

It’s this painful beauty I desire.

I’m writing poems in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence,

writhing on an old carved bench, grasped tightly

by the moment, and by my own anguish;

Will I endure this hell forever?

I can’t bear it, yet I can’t turn away.

I feel the greatness within me,

but not my own greatness;

inside my soul are ancient rooms,

and gilded hallways with painted ceilings,

and hanging on those ornate walls

are all the paintings I love,

and all the paintings yet waiting

for my trembling brush…

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Drunk in Urbino

To Christina

 

Women lost and laughing,

racing up and down the steep and cobbled streets

of ancient Urbino.

My heart is so full,

it bears the expansive unfolding of beauty,

the old bookshops and gelaterias,

the vistas opening up behind hidden alleyways…

I’m so full of poems, and art, and life,

a divine intoxication,

so perfectly drunk with you, my friend,

and that strong negroni, illuminated

by the evening light,

dark amber liquid, clear and strong,

pouring down the roof of the Duke’s palace.

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Shattered Vessel

 

I stumble about, dazed,

ravished by sunlight…

My soul is a shattered vessel;

each day it breaks,

many times each day,

again and again it cracks open,

and is reformed, remade,

and filled again with beauty,

unbearable,

unendurable,

beauty.

 

 

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Charles Stonewall: Artist

"See with fresh eyes!"

---Charles Stonewall, artist

I'm interrupting my summer-blog-break with this necessary blog post: my recent Easton Irregular article (July-August 2017) featuring the local artist, Charles Stonewall.  You can pick up copies around town, at Just Around the Corner, and the Public Market.  Or, read it here on my blog!

"Infinite Evaluation" photograph by Charles Stonewall

"Infinite Evaluation" photograph by Charles Stonewall

The photographs of Charles Stonewall are striking, sensitive, and brimming with suggested narrative. Whether the photos are portraits, photojournalism, or performance-inspired scenes, they all share a powerful emotional element and a strong composition, making use of exaggerated contrasts of light and shadow.

"Martha, the Salt of the Earth," photograph by Charles Stonewall

"Martha, the Salt of the Earth," photograph by Charles Stonewall

Stonewall was born and raised in South Side, Easton, in an impoverished environment. Despite the many challenges of his childhood, he was lucky to have a loving ally, his grandmother. She bought him his first camera when he was 14. This started him on his life’s journey as a photographer, and he has enjoyed many successes along the way, not the least of which includes one of his photographs in an exhibit at the Louvre, in Paris! Stonewall is a strong advocate of the power of possibilities, perseverance, and resilience.

In 1980 and 1981, Stonewall was responsible for the first ever black artist exhibitions in the Lehigh Valley. He and other artists formed a group called the Cultural Enrichment Committee, the intent of which was to provide a voice for those who were underrepresented and often ignored. The exhibitions took place in what is now the Wells Fargo Bank in the Centre Square in downtown Easton.

The poster for the 1981 art exhibit entitled "Black Art" featuring photography by Charles Stonewall; the Cultural Enrichment Committee that Stonewall had formed with other artists to provide a voice for underrepresented artists sponsored the exhibit.

The poster for the 1981 art exhibit entitled "Black Art" featuring photography by Charles Stonewall; the Cultural Enrichment Committee that Stonewall had formed with other artists to provide a voice for underrepresented artists sponsored the exhibit.

Stonewall moved to the Midwest in 1998 and attended the Kansas City Art Institute, which helped him to be able to “see with fresh eyes”. Traveling to the Midwest taught him about the benefits of being daring enough to step outside of one’s comfort zone and to believe in oneself.

He returned to the Lehigh Valley in 2013, where he lives and works today.

"Life's Opera," photograph by Charles Stonewall

"Life's Opera," photograph by Charles Stonewall

Currently, Stonewall is working on a series that he describes as conceptual art. These are photographs of organic forms, like flowers and leaves, and can be interpreted as inner landscapes. “What do I look like inside?” he asks, as part of his motivation for this series. “I believe there is great beauty inside. Hopefully it triggers a thought with the viewer, and they can start to discover their own inner beauty…We are complicated people!”

Pick up your July-August copy of the Easton Irregular at the Easton Public Market!

Pick up your July-August copy of the Easton Irregular at the Easton Public Market!

 

Charles Stonewall’s work can be viewed this summer at the an exhibition in Bethlehem, PA:

The Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission is pleased to present the Fourth Biennial Self-Portrait Exhibition entitled “Expressions: A Self-Portrait Show" featuring known artists, as well as prominent citizens in the local community who have agreed to take on the challenge of a self-portrait. The portraits will be on display from July 12 through August 29 at the Rotunda Gallery at Town Hall, 10 East Church Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018.

I'm going to paint in Italy!

Last blog post for the summer...

a painting of Civita Castellana by Corot, 1826

a painting of Civita Castellana by Corot, 1826

A year ago I wrote this blog post: "Dreaming of Italy."  And ever since then, I have been fantasizing about it, without really believing that it would happen.  I was swept up by a fierce longing to travel to Italy, and I was particularly excited about this program for artists: the JSS in Civita Summer Art School and Residency in Italy, which I learned about from the Savvy Painter Podcast.  (The residency is in Civita Castellana, the countryside where Corot painted.)  So, a few months ago I applied for their annual merit-based scholarship.  Although I didn't get that scholarship, I did get a partial-scholarship to the residency program, which was enough to make my dream a reality!  Two weeks painting in Italy!  

So...I bought my plane ticket!  I will leave on July 9th and stay for two weeks.

I have a new passport!  Il mio passaporto nuovo.

passaporto.jpg

I'm so excited!!!  I've never been to Europe!  I haven't been on an airplane in maybe 12 years or so.  Actually, I'm feeling a little scared.  Sto cercando di imparare l'italiano.  I'm using the duolingo app on my phone, which is pretty helpful.  I'm getting pretty good about saying things about elephants: L'elefante non scrive il libro.  (The elephant doesn't write the book.)  Will I use this knowledge in Civita?  Io non so.

L'elefante vuole bere il caffè.

L'elefante vuole bere il caffè.

Also, I have been labeling things around the house to help learn some Italian.  Il gatto, i fiori, la buca delle lettere...

The JSS team strongly recommends a French easel, and mine was in sad condition.  I was anxious about spending money on a new easel after buying the expensive plane ticket.  Luckily my neighbor, the artist Ken Kewley, loaned me his easel.  I took it out for a test-drive a couple weeks ago at Clear Spring Farm.  And I love it!  I'm so excited to use it in Italy.  I'm sooooooooooooooooooo excited to go to Italy!!!!

“We all have the colors needed to make beautiful paintings.”  --Ken Kewley

“We all have the colors needed to make beautiful paintings.”  --Ken Kewley

The easel comes with an adorable little wooden palette that folds up perfectly inside it.  However, Ken's palette had too much old paint on it for me to use.  I looked everywhere online to order a replacement and couldn't find one.  So.... my husband made me one!  He used a regular wooden palette from amazon.com and cut it down to size, and put little hinges on it.  I gave it a few coats of linseed oil, so it should be ready to use soon.  It's perfect!

I love this folding palette!  Thank you Ian for making it for me!  And Happy Anniversary!  (13 years yesterday!)  Mio marito è meraviglioso.

I love this folding palette!  Thank you Ian for making it for me!  And Happy Anniversary!  (13 years yesterday!)  Mio marito è meraviglioso.

After my residency ends on the 24th of July, I'm going to take myself to Florence for a couple of days.  I think I'm just going to sit on a bench by the Arno and sigh romantically at Italian pigeons...  

But, perhaps some of my blog readers have experienced Florence and wish to offer me some advice or suggestions about what to see?  If so, please do so in the comments below!

Random photograph of Florence I found on the internet.  Sigh...

Random photograph of Florence I found on the internet.  Sigh...

I'm so excited to go to Italy!!!!!! I can barely hold myself together and act normal... I'm not sure I'm pulling it off.  Anyway, this is my last blog post for awhile because I'm taking a break for the summer.  I'm posting this on Tuesday instead of Wednesday because I'm about to go camping for the rest of the week and won't have access to a computer.  I hope you have enjoyed my blog so far, and have a happy summer.  

My blog will resume in September!

 

Ciao!

Helping Patti

"Kindness is gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us."

--Henri Frédéric Amiel, 19th century Swiss moral philosopher and poet

Beautiful charcoal sketch of Patti Bloss by artist Paul McGinn, 18x24"  $30.00  

(All prices are suggested; make an offer!)

I really love this charcoal portrait of Patti Bloss.  I have known Patti for ten years, ever since I moved to Easton.  She frequently modeled at the Thursday Night Figure Drawing community sessions at Lafayette College.  (I wrote a little more about my early experiences drawing there in my blog post "Letters to a Young Artist.")  Patti was also the art monitor for the group, and now, many years later, I am her "assistant!"  Patti also modeled at the Baum School of Art where I took figure drawing classes with Adriano Farinella.  

"Nude Drawing" Lovely figure sketch by Mary Millan Klunk $50  (from a Baum figure class)

Patti is a gentle, graceful, and sweet soul.  She is well-known and much loved in the Lehigh Valley art community, since she has modeled for decades for artists and classes at local colleges in the area.  So last year, when we found out she had liver cancer, everyone was very sad.  Over the past year, Patti has struggled with this cancer and the additional financial burdens it imposed.  So, I thought I would rally the art community together (I created a facebook group, "Helping Patti," and I worked to organize an "Art Fundraiser for Patti Bloss."  The reception was last week, and it was a huge success!  

Patti holding two donated paintings: "A Pocketful of Roses" oil on board by Li-hsien Price $200 and also a figure painting by Donna Needs (sold).  

Over fifty artists generously donated work to sell, and 100% of the money went to Patti to help with medical and living expenses.  That night, we raised about $3,000 for Patti!  I couldn't believe it!  I had never done anything like this before, and I was very anxious that people wouldn't come, but happily, I was wrong!  In fact, I was so overwhelmed by how happy I felt the next day, when I had time to reflect on the event.  It feels so wonderful to be able to make a difference for someone, and to be part of a community effort like this.  

Over the past few days, I have continued to receive checks for Patti, with kind notes and anecdotes about her early modeling days, and how she influenced many artists.  No matter what happens, the best part of all of this is that Patti will know she is loved and appreciated by her many friends in the art community!

Patti gives me a hug at the end of the night!

Patti gives me a hug at the end of the night!

There are still many amazing pieces of art for sale.  I put some of my favorites here in this blog post, and you can see the rest in my facebook album: "Art Fund Raiser for Patti Bloss."  To buy one, just email: lauren@laurenkindle.com.  Payment can be made through Patti's Paypal account:  pattibloss@aol.com, or checks written out to Patti Bloss and mailed to Lauren Kindle Studio, 7B North Bank Street, Easton, PA, 18042.   You must pay for your own shipping if necessary.  Thank you!!

"Blue Clouds" 24x35" oil painting by Gina Piazza  $200

Here is my painting from the show.  "Sketch of the Delaware River", 4x5" SOLD Read about my process in this blog post: Summer Landscapes.

Here is my painting from the show.  "Sketch of the Delaware River", 4x5" SOLD

Read about my process in this blog post: Summer Landscapes.

"Untitled" by Ed Kerns, 2 feet by 7 feet!

Read my blog post about Ed Kerns: "Synchronicity and Art."

Devyn Leonor-Briggs: Artist

There's still a place for beauty in art.”

- Devyn Leonor-Briggs

"La Colomba", acrylic, oil and pastel on canvas, 48x60, 2016

 “I want to surround myself with color, beauty, culture, and pattern, creating a world for myself,” Devyn explains, gesturing excitedly, her dark eyes shining. We are sitting together in Terra Café, a coffee shop near my studio, talking about art. I’m mesmerized by this young woman’s energy and obvious love for what she does.

Devyn is a painter and also a ceramic and fiber artist. She has a studio at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, the city where she has lived most of her life. Currently, Devyn is in a place of transition in her life, having just gotten married and bought a house. But ideally, her studio schedule would involve a morning routine, with 5-6 hours of uninterrupted solitude. A lot of her work is “self-conscious” in its early stages, so it’s important that she has privacy when she works.

Devyn’s paintings are large, bright, and saturated with color. Some paintings are abstract, while others are representational, with mythic and sacred themes. The subject matter and the jeweled tones and patterns remind me of stained-glass windows or ancient Byzantine mosaics. All of her paintings are lush, layered, glowing objects of beauty.

“I’ve been warned that beauty is a ‘bad word’ in the art world,” I say, sipping my kombucha tea. It is true that ever since I started pursuing art seriously, I have been cautioned against “Beauty” many times by well-meaning, more-experienced artists.

Devyn just laughs at this idea. “I know what resonates with me,” she says with confidence. “I’m informed by those things…but it’s not about making it pretty, it’s about making it my own. It’s about telling my story.”

Devyn’s story is that of a rich cultural heritage. She is American, her mother is Colombian, and her father is both African American and Jamaican. These cultures provide an endless source of inspiration to Devyn, and she uses fabric and textiles as a “doorway” into them. You can see these colorful fabrics collaged onto the paintings as well as added onto the ceramic vessels that she makes.

"Adorned Vessel in Yellow", ceramic, yarn and beads, 2015

Devyn explains that her love of textiles was instilled early in life, by her Colombian grandmother, with whom she spent a lot of quality time. Her grandmother was always very crafty and especially proficient in needlepoint.

“Whatever she could get her hands on to make beautiful, she did,” Devyn says proudly, sipping her own kombucha tea. I close my eyes and try to imagine the older woman sewing with her granddaughter, and slowly decorating the world…

“Art to me is a vehicle that elevates,” Devyn insists. “It makes you step out of those dark places. It all comes down to the space I surround myself with. I create a space you can dwell in.”

"Eva”, oil pastel and acrylic on canvas, 24x36, 2015

I look at her painting, “Eva”, which is oil pastel and acrylic on canvas, 24x36 inches. A young Latina woman stands solemnly beneath a crimson dome, surrounded by a deep blue sky. She stands in an abundant garden of green plants, white calla lilies, and bird-of-paradise flowers. An earthen vessel occupies the bottom of the painting near the woman’s stomach, perhaps alluding to her womb. A white dove perches on the rim of the vessel, and both the dove and the woman have golden halos. The painting overflows with life and beauty, and to me, it’s an assertion of the sacredness of life and creativity, and the dignity of womankind. Perhaps this woman is Devyn herself, and the garden around her is the art that she creates, those dwelling spaces decorated with the patterns and colors she loves.

"Jester”, collage, painted paper and acrylic on canvas, 12x12, 2016

Her artist statement says it perfectly:

For me, my art is who I am. It's a natural extension of my personality. And it tells my story. It's the conglomeration of everything that resonates in my spirit: the colors, flavors, rhythms, textures, and stories that make my heart swell, that allow me sit back with my eyes closed and thank God for the ability to sense beauty in the world around me. I hope that the joy I get from making is contagious enough that it touches you; that the hours I spend in the studio don't just feed my soul, but yours too. There's still a place for beauty in art. There's still a place for objects that remind us of where we came from, that challenge us to understand who we are and why we are, that help us step outside the everyday and breathe deeply of the grace that is our every day.

I wrote this blog post for the "Artist Profile" article for the June 2017 issue of The Easton Irregular.

I wrote this blog post for the "Artist Profile" article for the June 2017 issue of The Easton Irregular.

 Learn more about Devyn at devynleonorbriggs.com.