Friday, December 30, 2016

What's Up for the New Year

They say that on your birthday if you do something close to your heart you will make more time for that precious thing throughout the year. The birth of a New Year could use a similarly meaningful start.

Rather than declaring resolutions, I like the idea of setting intentions. Name the thing that feeds your soul and then spend the year working to get closer to that.

I'm focusing on aesthetics - both physical and emotional. The physical part is easy because that's all about appreciating beauty in our world. For me that includes making artwork that aspires to being beautiful. The emotional part is a bit tougher since it has to do with how we feel and behave and I suppose it boils down to being sensitive as well as seeing sensitivity and kindness in others. Not always easy, but a good goal.

(Just thought I'd share that with you all because if I "say it out loud" it has greater "sticking power.")

And the other New Year's to-do is to make a list of tasks. Oh, you know, like... travel!

Here is list of some of my art-related tasks for 2017. There are lots of new adventures on tap already - and some actually might involve travel.
  • working on painting portraits
  • study drawing facial features
  • floral painting workshop
  • artist residency at Weir Farm
  • helping with Todd Casey's still life workshops (more info to come)
  • better internet marketing
work in progress, value study,
grisaille (value study)
One of my first tasks for the New Year is to add a works in progress page to my website highlighting steps and processes for whatever is on my easel. The first one is up now and I hope to change it a couple of times a month. Click on this LINK to take a look and check back often.

It's going to be a busy (and productive) year and I hope you are also looking forward to some new, creative challenges in 2017.

Here's to an aesthetically-pleasing, 
creative and kind New Year!
After all, the world can use more kindness and aesthetics... and possibly some ethics...

In other news...
Recently sold works include Purple Peppers and Morning Light at Seven Hearths, both sold were purchased at the Salmagundi Art Club' Thumb Box Exhibit this December.
Purple Peppers ©2014 Dorothy Lorenze

Morning Light at Seven Hearths ©2014 Lorenze

Thanks for joining me on my art journey. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and art lovers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Gift of Podcasts & Posts to Inspire & Inform

The support and feedback of my fellow art lovers inspires me everyday. So in the spirit of holiday giving, here are some sources of art and inspiration for you to enjoy.

Below are some of the art and marketing writings that I check out each morning as well as podcasts to listen to while painting. Most of these are free, all are worthwhile. As the artist/entrepreneur/publisher Eric Rhoads says - we should always be learning.

Podcasts can be accessed via the iPad app but you can also subscribe through iTunes or view on webpages where images and links to related subjects are available. There's a smorgasbord of art info on the world wide web. Think of these as small plates to enjoy at your leisure - don't let them eat up your time to create!
  • Gently Does It is a podcast wherein John Dalton interviews professional artists around the world discussing their work and their process as well as fears and foibles. John's interview style is down to earth, humorous, sensitive and enlightening. Links to related topics are included in his "show notes".
podcasts on art, The Studio podcast, Danny Grant
from The Studio podcast, American Sappho ©Graydon Parrish
  • Danny Grant is a classical realist painter whose podcast The Studio is a forum for interviews and discussion with other representational artists from schools like Water Street Atelier and Grand Central Academy. His webpage includes beautiful images of work by such artists as Graydon Parrish, Danny Ferland and Todd Casey. 
  • The Clark Hulings Foundation produces  The Thriving Artist where artists of various genres discuss marketing, process and project management. The Foundation provides grants to artists and the interviews follow up with grantees.
  • Your Creative Push is hosted by Youngman Brown (his pseudonym, I don't know why). Leaving aside the pseudonym question, it's a great, positive podcast that does exactly what it purports: providing a creative push to inspire artists and would-be artists to get moving. Interviews with successful artists confirm the not-so-secret reality that all artists deal with doubts, insecurities, and confidence issues.
I flip between these podcasts and a few others because each has it's own "voice" and some days I might need more energy than soulfulness. Also, some tend to be sprinkled with 4-letter words, so you might not be in the mood for that. Clear evidence that they're au naturale and not scripted ;)

Blogs or newsletters are also sources of art information and inspiration. They have the advantage of being visual so possibly more memorable for us visual types. (Of course you can't paint or drive while reading a newsletter, so there's that.) Here are a few I like to peruse.
  • Underpaintings, by Matthew Innis, is one that requires a paid subscription. Matt puts a ton of research into his newsletters so it's reasonable that he charges a little. His posts are actually mini art history lessons as well as descriptions of exhibits across the globe. He includes many beautiful images of the artwork as well. So much information! I learned about the fascinating film Tim's Vermeer through Underpaintings and recently bought a book on Emile Friant (in French, from because I was so impressed with Matt's review of the Friant exhibit.
  • Howard Rehs, of Rehs Contemporary Gallery in New York, writes Comments on the Art Market about everything from recent art discoveries to recent art scandals - plus the state of the stock market! It's thoroughly informative with a serious side and a dose of humor as needed. Rehs also has a feature called Rehsing Artists with advice for up-n-comin' artists.
  • John Weiss is an artist/author I discovered through the FASO newsletter (Fine Art Studios Online). A retired police chief, John is both an artist and a sensitive writer. His poignant art-and-life related stories are well-written, inspirational and down to earth.
  • The aforementioned Fine Art Studios Online (FASO) puts out Fine Art Views newsletter. Established by Clint Watson, FASO hosts websites for artists, provides marketing assistance and hosts the popular Bold Brush contests. Their newsletter features guest writers expounding on myriad art related topics as well as pithy advice from Clint himself.
  • Finally one of my first, and favorite, newsletters is The Painter's Keys. It was started by Robert Genn, a successful artist, gifted writer and sensitive human being. Since his death the spirit of the newsletter has been carried forward by his daughter Sara, an equally talented and sensitive writer who intersperses her publications with past issues of her father's timeless missives. Always informative, inspirational and oh-so tender reads.
    The Painter's Keys newsletter, Robert Genn blog
    Detail of Omnibus by Anders Zorn via The Painter's Keys
So there you have it - my Christmas gift to artists and art lovers. Check out a few posts or podcasts when you're in the mood to feed your creative spirit. If you have other favorites, please share.

Enjoy. And pass it on...'tis the season.

May your holidays be filled with family and all that warms your heart.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Art: the Agony and the Ecstasy

To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” Kurt Vonnegut

Thank you Kurt Vonnegut. I'm trying. And the trying leads to highs and lows. From hooray to holy sh*t in a heartbeat. And so, after getting some good art news this week, fingers crossed and ego checked, I signed up for a portrait class.
The Good. 
The good news is that I was accepted to an artist residency at Weir Farm Art Center. This means staying on site at the National Park and former home of American Impressionist Julian Alden Weir. By myself. Just painting. As luck would have it, I was given time in May and I'm looking forward to two weeks of dedicated art-making this spring!

oil portraits, studies
unfinished portrait studies
So, on that "high" I went to the portrait class. And came right back down to earth.

The Bad.
The bad news is portraiture is not still life! Capturing the nuances that make an individual unique - in oil paint - was pretty overwhelming.

old man portrait
latest portrait study
The Ugly.
They turned out to be a sour looking bunch! To be fair, the models were lovely and I feel kind of bad posting these rather ugly portraits. The following week was another exercise in humility, but things got somewhat better. It's still painful, but I'm learning.

After the portrait agony came some ecstasy: an award from Salmagundi Art Club! It feels pretty wonderful to have my painting "Sitting Pretty" be recognized by this group and I'm looking forward to drinks in the club bar to celebrate!
interior scene, oil painting
Sitting Pretty ©2015 Dorothy Lorenze

And then I tried my hand at life drawing (after many years of abstinence) and it was kind of torturous. Felt like I had never even held a pencil! Back to the drawing board. Literally. My painting practice needs more drawing. Out of the comfort zone and into the soup of insecurity. They say it's a good way to improve.

Sometimes you have to turn your habits upside down to start fresh. The Yin and Yang of life: balancing confidence and risk. A measure of each is needed to grow. Art-making is personal and egos get bruised. Hopefully as we take on challenges, we get tougher, or at least gain some perspective.
Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse

In any case, it's not realistic to assume that recent successes  will predict steady forward-moving, accomplishments. In the inspirational words of Salvador Dali, Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it.”

And so it goes...

Thanks for joining me on my art journey/rollercoaster.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What's there to be thankful for...

Without getting political... let's just say it's been a stressful election season. So this Thanksgiving I intend to be thankful for every bit of kindness and artful beauty that humanity is capable of.

Every generous and gentle moment makes our world a better place and we need that. So I would just ask you to look for those ... and create a few gentle moments of your own.
stone house farm, plein air, barn, maple tree
Foggy Peaceful Morning ©2016 DL

Recently I wrote a post, What Good is Art, and it seems fitting today to be reminded of the visual and emotional beauty that art can invoke. Laughter might be the best medicine, but art is pretty good daily nourishment.

We can be thankful that throughout economic and political adversity there are still many vital and vibrant organizations supporting artists and recognizing the significance of artful beauty in our lives. Through their efforts, opportunities for artists and art lovers abound. There are lots of affordable art and craft sales going on at this time of year, so check them out and maybe give a unique gift of art to someone will truly appreciate a little beauty added to their world.

I'm personally pleased - and thankful - that three of my paintings have been accepted to the historic Salmagundi Club's 108th annual Thumb-Box exhibition and sale.

Interior painting, nostalgic still life

Salmagundi Club is a special place for artists. This historic association of representational painters, illustrators and sculptors is housed in a classic brownstone on 5th Ave. The walls and halls are bedecked with artwork by famous American painters throughout the Club's 145 year history. Such artists as N.C. Wyeth, Childe Hassam, William Merritt Chase, Howard Pyle, Dean Cornwell and Louis Tiffany have been members. Many still have work exhibited at the club!

While Salmagundi's home is a beautiful, art-filled building year round, holiday décor adds to the atmosphere and right now the Thumb Box exhibit and sale is also on view in both galleries. This popular show is described as The Biggest Little Art Show of the Year because there is so much beautiful, affordable art to bring home. As an artist, what's unique is that you get wall space for up to three paintings, but when a piece sells you can replace it with another. So, there is a rotating collection of affordable art through December 31st! How cool is that!

At the risk of sounding like Pollyanna, I'm choosing to focus on all the goodness we can muster this Thanksgiving. It should be pretty easy because we are fortunate to have the whole family gathering together this year. Parents, children, spouses, grandkids, grandbaby and pups! Enough to make anyone smile!

May your Thanksgiving be as FULL-filling as it is "filling"!

As always, my sincere thanks to you for following my artistic journey.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Recent Art Adventures & Recent Work

There's no end to the art adventures that are available locally, more or less.

In recent weeks my art exploring has taken me to Bennington, VT to see the American Women Artists National Exhibit and annual symposium. This wonderful exhibit features some of the finest female artists painting and sculpting today and is well worth the trip. Plus Bennington is the perfect destination for fall travel (more Bennington sights here). You can catch the AWA exhibit through November 14th. Here is a taste of what you will find -
Indigo by Cynthia Faustel

Two gems from this show are Cynthia Fauste's sweet painting, "Indigo" and local (Bedford, NY) artist Laurel Boeck's "Em in a Black Coat".
Em in a Black Coat by Laurel Boeck

Key speakers at the AWA symposium included artist Alia El Bermani, a co-founder of Women Painting Women. This movement started when Alia, Sadie Valeri and Diane Feissel discovered that an exhibit called "Women in Art" included NO artwork by women. They gathered a group of like-minded artists who decided it was high time to paint women from a women's perspective.

Since then, hundreds of women have participated in dozens of exhibits, to great acclaim. Currently RJD Gallery in Sag Harbor, NY has the latest WPW exhibit, running through November 20th. Day trip anyone? Eastern Long Island is lovely this time of year!

Most recently my artist friends and I were awed by the American Masters exhibit at Salmagundi Club in NY. It's proof that masterly representational art is alive and well, honored and carried forward by artists such as David Leffel, Max Ginsburg, Michael Klein and Joshua LaRock. One of my favorites was Joel Carson Jones' little trompe l'oeil, "Looking Forward Looking Back"
trompe l'oeil, still life, fool the eye
Looking Forward Looking Back by Joel Carson Jones
Salmagundi library Unfortunately the Club's dining room is not open for lunch but while we were there, we took a break in "my" library. That would be the member's library at Salmagundi. Hobnobbing with the spirits of some old art masters (N.C. Wyeth, William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam...). I like to pretend it's my home away from home.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch/studio...
A cadre of serious, hardworking artists enjoyed a 3-day workshop with Todd Casey.  The next workshop will be Nov. 12 to 14. Contact Todd  asap if you are interested as space is limited. This is my little poster study (6x8") from that session.
Blue china teapot, copper tea kettle
East Meets West (study) ©2016 Dorothy Lorenze
Some recently completed works are below. The first is purple kohlrabi and a white pattypan squash. Totally bizarre veggies, hence "Alien Vegans". Below that is "Plum Line" with a line of plums on striped (lined) tea towels, with a rather striped spatter-ware bucket. "Never paint stripes" they told me. Oh well.
purple kohlrabi, pattypan squash, vintage chest, still life
Alien Vegans ©2016 Dorothy Lorenze
plums, vintage bucket, spatter-ware
Plum Line ©2016 Dorothy Lorenze
That's just a few of my art adventures for October. It's been wonderful to get out and about to so many art exhibits while the weather is crisp and inviting. Soon I'll be hunkering down in my cozy studio making more art. And on snowy days, maybe, watching movies featuring art and artists. Got recommendations? Send 'em on over... along with recipes for mulled wine, hot toddies and other chill-reducing concoctions!

Thanks for joining me on my art journey!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Grandma Moses Palette and Landscape Envy

When it comes to painting, my interest definitely is classical still life. Landscape might as well be moonscape. And I guess that's why I'm so intrigued (that... and the fact that's so damned difficult).

Recently, I saw the landscapes of Anna Mary Robertson Moses, aka Grandma Moses, at the Bennington Museum in VT. After trying my hand at plein air painting, I have a better appreciation for her landscapes. Although to be accurate, Moses did not paint out doors; she worked from printed images. Not to take anything away from the woman: she started painting at age 76! Arthritis had made it too difficult to create her scenes in needlework. You could say she settled on painting when the lady-like craft of needlework was no longer an option. I say she had determination as well as skill. A lesson for all artists.

The primitive style and casual busy-ness of her landscapes dotted with rural structures is what we generally admire. But on this day, as I took photos of my "favorite" paintings throughout the museum, the theme that emerged was about color.

Below are two landscapes with delicate palettes by Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses.
landscape, delicate palette

Vermont landscape, delicate palette
(My apologies for not noting the titles of Grandma Moses' works.)

This painting, "Old Mountain," is by another Vermont painter, Milton Avery, whose work is also shown at the Bennington Museum. It bears a striking similarity, palette-wise, to the snow scene by Grandma Moses above.
Vermont landscape, delicate palette
Old Mountain ©1943 Milton Avery
The painting immediately below is Grandma Moses, and below that, another Milton Avery which feels almost like an abstracted version of the Grandma Moses painting. So interesting that both drew me in!
Vermont landscape, delicate palette

Mountain Meadow ©1960 Milton Avery
The landscape below by Lorenzo Hatch also caught my attention. He captured this scene beautifully with a lovely, sensitive palette. If you think about what you actually see looking at a woodsy scene it can get really green very quickly - there is generally more depth of color. I love that this painting renders the environment so exquisitely without being overpowering in it's green-ness. And, of course, you have to admire his outstanding drawing skills.
Vermont landscape, delicate palette
Indian Summer ©1904 Lorenzo Hatch
These paintings were in different exhibits on different floors throughout the museum and I hadn't set out with an agenda in mind, just taking photos of images I liked. It was after reviewing the photos that evening that I noticed certain similarities seemed to have "spoken" to me. Most likely filling a need after my recent oh-so-green plein air attempts!

figure in landscape
May Palmer ©1901 Frederick MacMonnies
This painting by Frederick MacMonnies is a lovely Sargent-esque figure and the background landscape is very different from those above. It's boldness stands in contrast to (and reinforces) my preference for the sensitive palettes of the Avery and Moses landscapes.

The real reason I photographed this painting was that I admired how simply he indicated the glittery sparkle of her jewels. Not that I'm a figure painter, but the same effect is sometimes needed in still life.

Looking closely at the woman's white dress in the insert below, you can see how non-white it actually is.

I sampled the dress color in Photoshop and the square of taupe is the same color as her dress in that area. Totally grey-brown. And yet, looking at the figure, it still reads as a white dress. That darker background is what allows the pearls and gold to shine in contrast. Voilà!

close-up sargent style

This painting is in the Bennington Museum's Gilded Age of Vermont exhibit, a lovely room in their permanent collection that includes furnishings as well as sensitive portraits by William Morris Hunt and trompe l'oeil by William S. Reynolds. If you are heading north for "leaf peeping" this fall you should put the Bennington Museum on your list of destinations. It's worth a visit.

Thanks for joining me on my painting journey.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Challenges, Inspiration, Growth & Workshops

First... a huge "thank you" to everyone who came to our art show Farm to Table: landscape, still ife and intimate interiors at Muscoot Farm Gallery in September. It was great fun to meet so many art lovers and see many old friends. And it was wonderful to share the space (and the work!) with Leslie Carone, a dedicated artist, cooperative exhibit-mate and supportive friend!

One of the side benefits of holding an art exhibit is that gallery-goers have lots of questions which presents an opportunity to think through what went into making our art.

brass, oil painting, vintage chalkboard, still life
First Bell ©2016 Dorothy Lorenze
And to think about the challenges that allow every painting to become an opportunity for artistic growth.

In my painting, First Bell, the challenge was rendering brass shadows and highlights in a believable way.

Luckily, painting brass is not quite as challenging for Todd Casey, my painting coach. So he did a demo resulting in this beautiful little pitcher and pear. Todd made it feel accessible.
painting Workshop
©2016 Todd M Casey courtesy Rehs Gallery

Brass is "brassy" and it's easy to overdo the shininess. Seeing Todd's depth of color helped me to realize that brass can still be brassy with less overall shine. In fact it's the contrast with the duller, darker colors that helps you see the shine.

I was also reminded that to round the form, the darks on the light side should appear lighter than the lights on the dark side. Word juggling! While it makes your brain hurt to think about it, in a demonstration, you can see it.

Tackling a painting challenge in a workshop with Todd is like doing it with a safety net. Todd has taught me how to see better, how to find the subtlest difference between colors and values. And how accurate drawing creates the structure for representational painting.

He's a master artist and master teacher, sharing all he's learned from experiences at Water Street Atelier, Grand Central Academy, San Francisco's Academy of Art, as well as working with with Warren Chang, Max Ginsburg, Jacob Collins and more.
Todd will be holding a workshop for a small group of serious painters at my studio in Granite Springs October 22-24th. If you are interested let him know right away because space is limited and filling quickly. More information is available here.

The quote below aptly expresses my belief about raising the bar for ourselves with each painting -
"One must have a high opinion of a work of art - not the work one is creating at the moment, but of that which one desires to achieve one day. Without this it is not worthwhile working." Edgar Degas

Painting workshops challenge, inspire and support us in raising our own painting levels. 
And helps us to see.

And just to show that even non-painters "get it" here's a poet and philosopher on the subject -
"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." Henry David Thoreau

Thanks for joining me on my painting journey.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Paving the road for art

How do we get to where we are? Some parts of the path are clear but there can be an underlying script running in the background. One that helps or hinders.

For girls that script is often about self-deprecation. In an effort to be "nice" we make ourselves "less." As one of 5 sisters (plus 2 brothers) and the mother of 4 daughters, I think I know that script pretty well.

Realistically and statistically, although we make up 50% of the world's population, women are underrepresented in nearly all careers. In the art world the difference is extreme. To even that score one step is to help girls give themselves permission to do... whatever they aspire to do.

To that end, I'm introducing my grandchildren to the possibility that they can be artists.

Here's our youngest exploring art at the exhibit at Muscoot. (If this seems like just a ploy to post a photo of this sweet child, I won't argue.)

I'm told that she did not fully appreciate the large animals at the farm. They were a little scary - clearly she already likes art better.

But seriously, it's important for kids to feel like they can be creative. And sometimes they return the favor, as I described in my very first blog post when another grandchild gave me courage.

My art path took a long time to develop. Along the way there was discouragement from some totally unexpected places.

In a pastel class years ago, our teacher was an abstract artist who exhibited at galleries in NYC. Quite an accomplishment, to be sure. We were doing still life and mine included one of my kids' scruffy teddy bears. In imparting her professional wisdom she suggested I pick a subject with "a mythological or humanist story" because "you obviously can draw, but in 'The Art World,' to get ahead, you should never let them know that you're a mother." She was serious.

Denying my kids was never going to be an option. But, apparently, denying our femaleness might help an art career. I'm not bitter, because I haven't really tried as seriously as others have, but I feel their frustration.

My frustrations have been smaller. Going back to finish my college degree I was told, "Oh no, you can't pursue art part time." The explanation was you had to be a "serious artist" to get an art degree and that translated to "full time student."

Well, I was feeling quite serious considering I wanted to do this with four kids at home. But rules are rules. So I took all the art classes that "part time" would allow, eventually got my BA, rather than the coveted BFA and have continued studying privately. It may not be the same but I've learned a lot and experienced a lot.

So what does all this mean? Life's not fair. Sometimes you have to work harder than the next guy to get what you want. Maybe, if you really want it, it won't seem so much like work.

Ryan Speedo Green, photo from YouTube
Much of this came to mind this week after listening to an NPR interview with Ryan Speedo Green who happens to be, by his own description, a very large black man who developed a love for opera singing. He's had a hard life and a harder time getting people to take him seriously as an opera singer. But the man sings! And he's sung at the Metropolitan Opera. It was a fascinating look at one person's determination to overcome obstacles that just shouldn't have been there in the first place.

Wouldn't it be great if we could just be objectively supportive, not allowing preconceived notions to get in the way of our own, or someone else's, heart's desire?

I guess I'm preparing my attitude, trying to keep it tempered with practicality as I'm about to attend the American Women Artists national art exhibit and symposium on women and the arts in Bennington. I expect to hear lots of statistics and stories about how women are underrepresented in the art world (they are) and fired up talk about feminism (sadly necessary). What I don't expect is to accept these facts as excuses to fail or to maintain the status quo.

I need to remember that my own attitude and effort are, for now, the only defense I have against gender inequality - until the world wises up. I know I have to work harder. When it comes to equal opportunities and respect for women we're moving in the right direction, but I'm not holding my breath.
Uh oh, another feminist subject. Maybe it needs a cigar... or a rifle...?!

PS - to all the new folks who recently signed up for my blog/newsletter, this is longer and more personal than my posts typically are. Hang in there. There are lighter, more artsy, posts to come.

Friday, September 9, 2016

What good is art?

What is art for? It's a big question and I can't presume to have the answer, but it's fair to say it's different for each of us. And different reactions can be equally meaningful.

For me, art is not just about pleasing images. It's a kind of visual poetry and spirituality that enriches our lives. It reminds us that it's OK to feel and it's OK to look for the good in people and life around us. In fact, I think it's necessary for a happy, fulfilled life!

With that in mind, I'm feeling less bad about our Muscoot art reception being on the fifteenth anniversary of September 11th. Needless to say, September 11th is a powerful day and I would not want to trivialize it or be disrespectful in anyway. So the "appropriateness" of an art reception on that date has been on my mind.
trompe l'oeil, feather painting, blue feather
Jay Burl © 2016 Dorothy Lorenze

And then this happened. Last weekend a young woman visiting Muscoot park was drawn to our art show - accidentally - out of curiosity to see the historic house. She wasn't interested in art at all, but when she saw my painting of a blue jay feather she became emotional. She had to have it, although she wouldn't say why.

So she paid and we kept the painting while she went off to explore the farm. When she returned to pick up the painting she was ready to tell her story. She had recently, and rather suddenly, lost her grandmother. At the funeral she confided to her cousin that maybe she would feel consoled a bit if she knew her grandmother could come back and see her, "maybe as a bluejay". Just a whimsical thought.

Then that night a bluejay landed in front of her car as she was about to leave a diner with her cousin at 11:30 pm! It sat there in front of her car for so long she had time to take a photo. Then it left. A few days later her dog was barking to get her attention and when she went outside to see what the issue was, he ran over to a bluejay feather! These encounters were more than a little unusual and she felt a strong connection to her grandmother. So this painting now seemed like another touchstone, one that she could always have to connect with her grandmother. It certainly wasn't painted with that in mind, but it's a gift to me as well to know that it has such meaning for her.

yellow sunflowers, sunflower bouquet, oil painting, still life
Sunflower Bouquet ©2016 Dorothy Lorenze
In a similar example, last month I was commissioned to do a painting as a wedding gift. After some discussion about the brides likes, we decided on sunflowers. It turns out she absolutely loved the painting because, unbeknownst to me or the gift-giver, she had sunflowers at her wedding as a tribute to her grandmother: they were her favorite flower. So lots of unexpected meaning in this painting too.

These sound like unique occurrences, but honestly, so many paintings have held special meaning for individuals. And isn't it wonderful when a beautiful image reminds us of a beautiful soul.

With that in mind, I feel like celebrating art is a meaningful way to honor the tragic sacrifices we all faced on September 11th 2001. I hope you agree.

Wishing you peace.

Monday, August 29, 2016

What's New? Locally Sourced... Art!

It's been a busy summer with lots of painting work squeezed in between family travel and I enjoyed every minute!

The fruits (and veggies and flowers) of that labor will be on exhibit at a semi-solo / two-person show in Muscoot Farm's Main House Gallery during the month of September:
Farm to Table - landscape, still life and intimate interiors

Right now, most are in the staging area, aka kitchen!

I'm so pleased that Leslie Carone is joining me for this exhibit. Leslie's serene oil and pastel landscapes of local farms, gardens and rural scenes are a perfect Muscoot theme. Come see, and you can take a bit of farm country home with you!
Old Barn at Muscoot ©2016 Leslie Carone, 9x12" oil

vintage slate, brass bell, apple for teacher, vintage reader
First Bell ©2016 Dorothy Lorenze, oil, 10x10"

My own locally sourced art work features fruit from Stuart's Farm as well as flowers and cheese from the Pleasantville Farmer's Market. And feathers from my backyard! Very exotic.

Bluejay feather, burled wood, trompe l'oeil
Jay Burl ©2016 D. Lorenze

 Muscoot Farm is on route 100 in Katonah, just south of route 35. It's a historic farm, complete with chickens, goats and pigs! And on Sunday there is a farmers market with locally sourced goodies (see the theme here?!) 
 Please join us any Saturday or Sunday during September, but for the most fun, stop by at our reception
Sunday, September 11th from 1-3pm

Leslie and I are also pleased to participate in an art exhibit in the magnificent barn at Stone House Farm which will benefit the Somers Land Trust's mission to preserve open spaces. Reservations are required for this event which includes informal tours of Stone House Farm which is on the National Register of Historic Homes.
Picture these walls - covered with art!

Contact Denise for reservations -

Please share this post with all your art-loving, country-craving friends! See you  in September!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Artistic Olympic feats: raising the bar

Sports are not really my thing, but here's what I love about the Olympic Games - seeing the degree of perfection that is achieved through training, sacrifice and dogged commitment. They raise the bar for themselves and all of us.

As a non-swimmer/runner/gymnast, my Olympic aspirations are focused on improving artistically and recognizing how important it is to raise the bar in my studio. One of the best ways I know to do that is to be exposed to better quality art. Museums are great, but for more timely inspiration I turn to art being produced today. Since it's not ancient, it must be accessible. That's what I figure anyway.

Artists well-trained in representational painting are my Olympic heroes. People like Jacob Collins, Todd Casey, Sadie Valeri, Danny Grant, Jeffrey Larson, Juliette Aristides, Jeremy Lipking, Candace Bohannon, Scott Waddell, Graydon Parrish, Sydney Bella Sparrow, Stephanie Rew, Justin Wood, Michael Shane Neal, Patricia Watwood, Michael Klein and so many others. Their training stresses mastery of traditional fine art skills...and practice. Lots of practice.

Lately I've been listening to podcast interviews with accomplished artists discussing the processes and routines involved in creating their masterworks. I love their honesty, insecurities and frustrations, but the thing I value most is seeing how dedicated they are to the work. Like Olympic athletes, they put in a lot of hours. And they love it. They know how to capture the very subtle nuances that render form realistically, just like a gymnast knows exactly how to use each muscle to execute a move. They don't quit or make excuses.

That professionalism inspires me to keep pushing the limits, trying more complex subjects and not settling for less than I hoped to achieve. Basically, raising the bar in the studio.

oil painting, progress shots, still life, apples
Gathered Ladies ©2016 Dorothy Lorenze
Here's a small example. This little painting of lady apples was coming along well enough. But, it's only 4x8" so some of the details were hard to capture and after it was "done" something still wasn't right.

The apples were looking fine and that's the important part... right? But the cloth under the board wasn't working for me. I couldn't get past thinking it needed... something. So I finished the "finished" painting by re-working the crevice shadow and repainting the cloth with more subtle value changes. Now the crevice is better defined and the fabric rounds over the table edge more believably. It took time, but it's so much better! And now I'm happy.

Sometimes you just have to compare apples to apples - and crevice shadows to crevice shadows.

I really believe that "keeping company" with Olympic caliber artists through private study, as well as internet demos and podcasts, has raised the bar for me. Getting to know their personal commitment to art making and hearing about their work habits helps me stay focused on my tasks and goals.

If you're interested, some internet art resources were mentioned in posts earlier this year and in 2014. Also, you can check out these podcasts: John Dalton's Gently Does It, Danny Grant's The Studio,  Antrese Wood's Savvy Painter Podcast and The Clark Hulings Fund's Thriving Artist Podcast. If you have other favorite art podcasts please share them in a comment.

I tend to listen to these interviews on long drives or during studio time and it's always inspirational, but if you want to be a total art geek (and who doesn't?!) it's even better to listen with a notebook and internet access so you can google the artist's work or historical references and make notes as you go.

The main thing to take away from all this is: don't settle. There is no growth without risks. And nothing worth having ever came easy. Do the work. As a kid, when we left for school in the morning, my dad would bark,  "Learn somethin'!" I'm still tryin'!

"Whether you're already an accomplished painter or just beginning on your path to artistic excellence, there is always more to learn, and higher levels of perfection to aim for." Daniel J. Keys 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Electric Paris... in Greenwich

If you love the elegance of Paris and the rich artwork of the late 1800s get yourself to the Bruce Museum in Greenwich before September 4th to see Electric Paris! What a treat.

This gem of an exhibit includes paintings, prints, photos and drawings by Degas, Cassatt, Bonnard, Vuillard, Toulouse-Lautrec, Tissot, Hassam, Curran, Maurer and Prendergast, among others. The intimate rooms are laid out beautifully, moving from night street scenes to interiors lit by candle light and finally, dramatic theatrical lighting. This exhibit is the perfect opportunity to be introduced to the Bruce Museum in Greenwich. Electric Paris is just magical.

Bruce Museum, Electric Paris
Charles Courtney Curran, Paris at Night
Bruce Museum, Electric Paris
Willard Metcalf, Au Café
Bruce Museum, Electric Paris
John Singer Sargent, At the Luxembourg

Another excellent show on exhibit this summer is The Artist's Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, CT. Following the theme of Impressionist works inspired by the Garden Movement of the late 1800s, the artwork features gardens and those who tended or enjoyed them during the "Garden Movement."  This was a time that paralleled the Impressionist movement and overlapped the Progressive Era of political corruption reform and workers' and women's rights.

So it shouldn't have been surprising (but it was) that there were more female artists in this exhibit than I can remember seeing in any recent museum exhibitions. Perhaps it is because the museum was founded in the home of Miss Florence Griswold and on the grounds of what is arguably the first Art Colony in the USA. Although, truth be told, virtually all the artists who frequented Miss Florence's boarding house were men. It would certainly have been "unseemly" for women to travel on their own before the 1920s. Then, women's suffrage and the Roaring Twenties happened... and things changed...a bit. After all, we only had to wait nearly 100 years for a woman to be nominated for president!
But I digress.

Here are some of the brilliant works at the Griswold Museum until September 18th.
Florence Griswold Museum
Violet Oakley cover Everybody's Magazine, June 1902

Florence Griswold Museum
Lillian Wescott Hale, Black-Eyed Susans
Florence Griswold Museum
Childe Hassam, Bois de Boulogne
 The Artist's Garden features American Impressionist paintings, prints and graphics, curated by the Philadelphia Fine Art Museum. It's the perfect companion to the NY Botanical Gardens' Impression: American Gardens on Canvas. I have to say, you'll see far more paintings at the Griswold. And the bonus is the café with river view as well as the inspirational main house, where guest artists turned the paneled dining room into a work of art. Just because.

This wonderful exhibit continues through September 18th.
Florence Griswold Museum
American Impressionists' painted panels in Florence Griswold's home (& Luisa)

Earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of seeing an exhibition of another famed American Impressionist, William Merritt Chase at the Phillips Collection in DC.  I was "on the road" between NC and NY so, unfortunately, I didn't have time to enjoy the entire museum, but the Chase exhibit was a treasure and well worth the stop. Again, the rooms were fairly small, giving the exhibit an intimate feel which suits the work brilliantly because many of Chase's paintings give a sense of observing, or interrupting a private moment. In fact one painting of a woman, seated and looking over her shoulder, is titled, "Did you Speak to Me?" as though she is literally being interrupted.

Photos were not allowed so these images are from the Phillips' website and they happen to be among my favorites. The images don't do justice to the works, which are full of rich color and texture and have to be seen to be appreciated fully.
Phillips Collection
William Merritt Chase, Portrait of Dora Wheeler
Like many of the Impressionists, Chase's compositional style was influenced by photography, as is evident in how he crops the image of the girl in the foreground. And again, it's simply a glimpse at a moment of children at play. So ordinary and so elegant at the same time.

Phillips Collection
William Merritt Chase, Hide and Seek

The paintings I would most love to revisit are Chase's exotic interiors. And of course, his The Tenth Street Studio is my absolute favorite fantasy world! There is so much to explore in this microcosm of creativity. Viewing it in real life, you can appreciate his exquisite rendering of texture – a thing of beauty to study and aspire to. 

Phillips Collection
William Merritt Chase, The Tenth Street Studio
William Merritt Chase, A Modern Master is at the Phillips Collection through September 11th. The exhibit then travels to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in October, so I may get to study those interiors again this fall!

Go. Be Inspired. Enjoy!
And thanks for joining me on my artistic journey.