Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Follies and Foibles

I have a painting that I'm getting ready to sell and several paintings that are being prepared for a big solo show that I have coming up toward the end of the year, so I've been varnishing. I learned from Daniel Greene that the best and safest place to do that is in the bathroom. It can be closed off, there's a vent and probably a window, it can be made lint-free by removing the towels, rugs and curtains, and if you lay the paintings across the tub, there is total ventilation all around the painting as it dries.
I have been varnishing like this for many years without incident but today, disaster struck:

There were 3 paintings in there drying and when I went in to check on them, I was shocked and chagrined to see debris covering the paintings! Somehow (still a mystery), a large quantity of I-don't-know-what, including dead wasps, was spontaneously dumped from the vent on to the paintings. I am very thankful that the varnish was all but dry and I'm almost certain that I will be able to remove it from the paintings. Follies and foibles!
I will post a blog on varnishing in the not-too-distant future, and one on tubing your own paint. These are skills that are not really covered anywhere that I can find, so I have had to learn them in The School of Hard Knocks. I now feel totally free to share these kinds of things with you, not being locked in to the smaller mission of my past blog. The "old" blog tried to be very brief and to stick to one thing, directly related to a painting or a show, with very little comment. I know I scared some of you with my "Rededication" post, because I got lots of emails! I left the impression that perhaps I was going to retire from painting and take up preaching, which I am neither qualified nor inclined to do! I just wanted to break out of the tight little blog template and be free to share all kinds of things with you.

Finally, an administrative note. I believe I've received all of your emails but I know for sure I've not seen comments. We've readjusted some settings in hopes of making commenting easier, so if you want others to hear you here, leave a comment below. And subscribers, instead of being delivered to your inbox at 5 p.m., PYJ will now arrive in the morning, between 7 and 9.

Now, I'm off to the attic to see if I can find out how the vent "vented" on my paintings!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Beauty of Three

Today, my husband and I were studying Dark Matter and Dark Energy, which together make up 95% of our universe ( 25% and 70% respectively), and about which very little is known.  Everything we actually know about is called Ordinary Matter (atoms, people, galaxies), which makes up only 5% of what is known to exist. These 3 things make up our universe.  

          Equally interesting is that there are only a few things comprising all that we are able to see (ordinary matter). Particle physics tells us that the atom, thought to be the smallest particle, actually has three parts to it: protons, neutrons and electrons. Further division reveals that protons and neutrons each have within them teeny tiny things called quarks, which appear in divisions of 3. There are 3 quarks in a proton and 3 quarks in a neutron. The string theories are even more interesting…

          When we were looking at matter that emits or absorbs light, of course I thought about painting. Light emits, pigments absorb. This is the science of painting! In the spectrum, there are 3 primaries and 3 secondaries, made up of 3 “warm” colors (red, orange and yellow) and 3 “cool” colors (green, blue and violet). And when I am painting, I follow John Singer Sargent’s value-compression strategy of pushing my values down to 3: light, mid-tone and dark. Even composition theory suggests divisions of 3 for finding the sweet spot and keeping things from being too static. I’m always thinking “3” when I work without really being conscious of it.

          We ourselves are said to be made up of body, soul and spirit; the soul being further divided into mind, will and emotions. When I’m working on the figure, I’m thinking, “eyes, nose, mouth… head, torso, legs… upper arm, lower arm, hand…” The way we’re made reminds me that we were made, and according to the Bible, we were made in God’s image. Artists deal in images. Images are products of the imagination that reflect the maker in some way. This finally reminds me of the Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit; God in three persons. The Father reminds me of the soul. You can’t see the soul but it’s what “makes” a person that person: his mind, his will and his emotions. The Son reminds me of the body: the physical manifestation of the person and the Holy Spirit is the most mysterious of all. Not to make any grand theological statement; just to say that, thinking about life (birth, life, death) (past, present, future), I’m struck by the beauty of three.   

          This is part of a painting that I cropped to show an experiment that I did awhile back in spectral sequencing (laying out colored objects according to their order in the spectrum). The colors were red, blue and yellow (the primaries), with purple, orange and green (the secondaries) between:

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Nigerian Gele

I met Chelsea at the Salon International a couple of years ago and have been so very fortunate to have had her as a regular model all this time. She modeled for our Friday painting group, The Market Street Painters, a week ago, wearing an outfit that she wore to a Nigerian wedding this spring.
The elaborate headwrap is called a gele. My first-ever model was actually from Nigeria and taught me all the different ways to wrap one, and what each one meant. One way said, "I'm nubile," another said, "I'm a married," and some said things that, well, that embarrassed the model. I'm not sure but I think that these days the gele is more of a fashion statement; the more elaborate the better. I saw one once that was 3 feet tall with enormous yellow butterflies.
My original plan was to have much of the gele showing but Chelsea's eyes are just so wonderful that her face grew on my canvas until I could work with them. 20x16 is 20x16 so something had to give. It was the gele that gave.
Here's a promise though: I will soon paint another painting of Chelsea in this costume on a larger canvas and include the gele. When you see how voluminous and sculpturally interesting this thing is, your socks will roll up and down.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

THE NEW BLOG, PAINT YOUR JOY! A Rededication of the old blog, Paint Your Joy!

This is the first post of the new Paint Your Joy!
I just finished a book by Dr RC Sproul: The Holiness of God. The last chapter was called, Holy Space and Holy Time, and opened with this quote by CS Lewis: “Where, except in the present, can the Eternal be met?” I want to share an excerpt from it, as it was part of the reason for my rededication of this blog:

(Regarding the holy space where Moses saw the burning bush)…The sacred character of this spot was not intrinsic but extrinsic… made sacred by a super-added presence.  The event that occurred there loaned an extraordinary dimension to the ordinary… not only a theophany but also a hierophany… [Historian, Mircea] Eliade comments, “Every sacred space implies a hierophany, an irruption of the sacred that results in detaching a territory from the surrounding cosmic milieu and making it qualitatively different.”

(Regarding the holy space where Jacob dreamed of the ladder to heaven, awoke and was afraid and cried out: “How dreadful is this place: this is none other but… the gate of heaven.” He then took the stone he’d used as a pillow, set it on end, and he anointed it with oil. He named the place Bethel…) Eliade notes:…”The symbolism implicit in the expression “gate of heaven” is rich and complex; the theophany that occurs in a place consecrates it by the very fact that it makes it open above—that is, in communication with heaven, the paradoxical point of passage from one mode of being to another.”

Dr Sproul continues, Several significant images are connected in the interplay of this event. The first is the image of the ladder with the ascending and descending angels… the ladder serves as a connecting link between heaven and earth, the sacred and the profane. The second, this holy space receives a new name, Beth-el, precisely because it is deemed not only the “house of God” but also… a door that provides access to heaven. The third… is the image of the stone. Originally the stone was a common piece of rock used for a common purpose in antiquity, namely to serve as a pillow… After the hierophany, the stone is assigned a different purpose. It is transformed from its common purpose to an uncommon purpose.

So I was thinking about the purpose of this blog. Since its inception, its purpose has been common and small. I’ve even tried to limit my plain vanilla text to the space of one image! As a Christian though, my work should not be common or small but should somehow be material evidence of a creature who is madly in love with the Creator. Jesus, in John 1:51, said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” His visit to the planet was both a theophany and a hierophany, and the people who follow Him, who do see heaven opened, are supposed to point to Him in every aspect of their lives. Well, there are many more aspects to my life and art, and much more thought behind what I’m doing with them than what has shown here. I read the Bible every day. I write every day. I paint almost every day. I read a lot and think a lot, not just about painting but about physics and history and psychology; they all influence my art! And all the things I do and think are “open above.” I'm not going to preach but I do want to share.

So I now take this common stone that you’ve been using as a pillow to fall asleep, and I rededicate it, turning it on its side,so that it now points upward toward heaven.