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.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summertime Tomatillos

"Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer"  by Nat king Cole

I don't know about you, but my summer is far from lazy - squeezing in all the family visits that we can while prepping for the many art opportunities available during the season. And please don't' mention the gardens!

Add to that an upcoming solo exhibit in September (Muscoot Farm Manor House Gallery) and I'm painting all the time. The classic artist's conflict ensues - so many ideas and so little time.

One of the benefits of summer is the luscious, fresh produce. With it's short shelf-life the only option is to paint faster, so that helps with the time crunch! I'm easing into it with tomatillos which are slightly less fragile. They are a fascinating subject: smooth, glossy fruit surrounded by a papery husk. All green, with such subtle variations of texture, hue and value.

Setting up the still life, I thought of a quote by Henri Matisse, that quite honestly is often on my mind while painting,
"I don't paint things. I only paint the difference between things." 
painting set up, work in progress, wip
Work in progress, tomatillos set up with pottery

To a line up of three round, green things I added a Mexican plate, which just happens to be another round, green thing. So the differences took on a greater significance, making a tougher challenge!

Recently, on the Savvy Painter podcast, I heard the artist Ann Gale say that she likes to focus on how similar things are. It's the other side of the same coin and well worth noting as a representational painter. In the same vein, my painting coach, Todd Casey often talks about wedging another small shift between two values to create a softer transition. Observing how similar and how different. It's the thing that happens in a beautiful portrait with smooth, glowing skin. It's always on my mind, but I'm not there yet.

So I paint tomatillos. And, of course, listen to Latin music for atmosphere. (Hey, Gregorian chants were playing while Monk's Mead was on the easel. Painting is lonely, I have to entertain myself.) Thanks to Pandora's thumbs up option, one song has been in my head: "El Perdón" by Nicky Jam and Enrique Iglesias. Latin, rap and... reggaeton?! Who knew.

Here's the problem - the refrain "Esto no me gusta" means "I don't like it."
The phrase being repeated while I paint is, "I don't like it"! 

Seems sort of counterproductive.
On the other hand, the title is "El Perdón" which means "forgiveness" so maybe that's the message. Plus the beat is wonderfully relentless!

still life, mexican pottery, oil paintng
Tomatillo Trio ©2016 Dorothy Lorenze

So, it's not Nat King Cole's 1963 summer classic that kept me company, but Nicky Jam of rap and reggaeton fame. Go figure. It kept me going and I finished this painting in just over two days. Pretty speedy for me! Thank you Nicky and Enrique. Here's a link, have a listen.

The line "yo sin ti, y tu sin mi" (me without you, and you without me) also resonates, because I couldn't do this without all of you who enjoy my work. Thank you!

Thanks for supporting me on my art journey.