Saturday, May 13, 2017

Happy Mothering Day

My exploration into the world of art probably began at about the age of 10 with a series of portfolio-like books called Art Treasures of the World by Abrams Art Books. There were 15 volumes of oversized, softcover books with individual color plates that were tipped in rather than printed on the page. Since the plates were on coated paper, the colors and reproduction quality were excellent. At 10 I may not have noticed those details, but as someone who loved to draw and "color" I remember being in awe of the beautiful, realistic images. I was amazed such detailed images could be created by hand, with paint! It sure didn't work with crayons.

These books may have been Reader's Digest selections, but I suspect a door-to-door salesman made the introduction. In those days my mom didn't drive, so door-to-door salesmen were lucky to find her: an eager customer. And I was even luckier.

Each volume featured the work of a single artist. The set focused mainly on Impressionists, but also included El Greco (whose dark elongated figures scared me) and Modigliani and Picasso (who my wise, 10 year-old self thought needed a few more drawing lessons). Favorites were Van Gogh, Degas and Toulouse Lautrec (precursor to my future graphic design interest, perhaps). I poured over these books and in later years remember surprising a Junior High art teacher by recognizing the work of Utrillo.
impressionist artist resource

I'm really not sure how much time my mother spent perusing art books. Whatever leisure time she had was after we seven kids were in bed (more about that here). But she introduced me to fine art, in my own home, and somehow that made it feel possibly possible. The books are gone and Mom's memory is feeble and it's too late to ask how important these volumes may have been to her. I can only give her credit for this initial inculcation which has stayed with me. Recently I found copies of two of the volumes in an antique store. I hold them as reminders of Mom's first gentle push toward my artistic journey.

On this Mother's Day thoughts of nurturing turn toward artists. Making artwork is risky. It's very personal and we generally aspire to something greater than we feel capable of achieving. Not to mention the fact that it's usually/eventually done in a somewhat public manner. We make personal images and say, "Look!" Scary stuff.

So it's heartwarming when artists mother one another and I'm pleased to say it happens often. Sure, there are those who anxiously guard their inside info and "tricks of the trade," but more often I'm finding artists who recognize that we are all swimming in the same water and we have the ability to help one another stay afloat with encouragement and shared experiences. We can mother each other without loosing a piece of ourselves. In fact, if you love art it's an honor to help another artist make this world a more beautiful and meaningful place. We all win.

Happy Mother's Day to all you nurturing souls!

stuffed penguin toy, penguin, stuffed puppy, dog, yellow lab, mutsy
Pup & Penguin - who nurtured Tessa & Hamo... & Clara

Thank you for joining me on my art journey.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Workshops and other adventures

You know what they say: April workshops bring May flowers. Something like that.

Carlo's "theater of operations"
This April I attended a floral painting workshop with Carlo Russo. The weather was pretty cold and miserable for April in Virginia, but the attendees were warm and friendly and the flowers were gorgeous. The class was held in Deb Keirce's home which she transforms into a workshop studio space for 8 - 10 artists. Deb hosts well-known, master artists' workshops throughout the year. I was drawn to Carlo Russo's class because his paintings are so beautiful.

For Carlo's demo he painted ranunculus which are pretty complex with their tightly layered petals. His process is to start with a loose wash to establish the composition.

painting demo by Carlo Russo
For four days we enjoyed a morning demo, hours of painting and constant discussion about all aspects of art.
Below is my set up and progress shots from the workshop. Carlo's wash was tidier, but mine still provided the "road map" needed to establish my composition. I had brought a silver creamer knowing I would paint blooms before they wilted and could finish the container at home, which I did.
 floral painting, work in progress, oil study

Here's the final Rosy Nosegay -
Rosy Nosegay ©2017 Dorothy Lorenze
Flowers are sweet and tender - and tough to paint! The petals are translucent and delicate and, of course, they wilt. To gain a more practiced eye navigating these overlapping forms, I've been doing floral paintings since the workshop. These and a few others will be available at Who's Cooking in Croton Falls this month. To celebrate Spring ...if it ever gets here.

In other Spring news, I'm pleased to say that my painting Téte à Téte à Tootsies was awarded fourth place in American Women Artists 2017 Online juried exhibit.
oil painting, antique shoes, hat pins
©2017 Dorothy Lorenze

It was especially gratifying because the body of work for this show is so impressive! I am truly honored to be among such a fine group of artists. Also so thankful for the generous prize package from Gamblin Oils, Blick Art Supplies, Jack Richardson and AWA - Christmas in April! Here is a link to the award winners.

Trying new things

I truly believe that personal growth requires trying new things and getting outside of your comfort zone (except for sky diving, mountain climbing, roller coasters... high stuff: gotta draw the line). Workshops can feel like a daunting venture if the subject or technique is unfamiliar. It's so worth it. Spending several days with a group of folks focused only on art is an enriching immersion experience. And such a gift to oneself. Just to make sure "I'm worth it" I keep working at it when I get home. Floral paintings - I'm starting to feel more comfortable with them.

Locally, Todd Casey has a workshop coming up in Somers, May 20 & 21. Todd is a master at painting and teaching. He always has so much information to share. If you are interested, details are  here. Check in with him soon because space is limited.
This is an example of Todd's classical process.
©2017 Todd M. Casey

For my next new art adventure... I will be spending the month of June as Artist in Residence at Weir Farm in Wilton, CT.

Just me and my paint brushes. 

My plan is to work on interior scenes from Weir Farm. This National Park and historic site was the home of American Impressionist Julian Alden Weir and it's the only National Park dedicated to American painting. Imagine that! I'm used to painting nearly every day, but this will be truly focused time. Kind of a solitary, private workshop. I promise you'll be hearing more about it come June.

Meanwhile, enjoy the weather and go do something that enriches your soul ...or tickles your fancy.

Thanks for joining me on my art journey.