Monday, July 28, 2008

In Search of the Self

In response to Angela Graham's call for entries for a Portrait Exhibit at her gallery, I spent a couple of weeks dealing with the issue of the self portrait.

What, exactly, is it a portrait of? My personality, or my person? If I create a version of my personality, which one do I use? Those of you who know me understand that I'm in the throes of mid-life and new career, and you are not quite sure just who'll show up on a given day. Could be you'll be greeted by the enthusiastic emerging artist, ready to take on the world. Could be you'll be met by the "what-was-I-thinking?" version. Or the "turn the air conditioner up now" lady. Any of those folks come in a crying, laughing or sleeping version. Take your pick.

Those kinds of portraits are interesting ventures. The artist can hide behind all sorts of images, squiggles and paint globs. The heavy lifting is up to the viewer. I get to be whomever I want to be, and leave it to you to figure it out. The flip side of that is that personality peaks through regardless of how hard the artist tries to disguise it, and gets revealed despite all best intentions to put a better face on, well, your face.

So I put on my brave face, (pardon that pun) and went the physical person portrait route. Just me and my face. Since I used a mirror, and tend to make funny faces when I concentrate, you get the "just ate a pickle" face.

I suddenly admire and am amazed by artists who choose to share their self portraits with the world. It takes a bit of ego. You find out just who, or what you look like, and whether anyone's been paying attention.

To see more faces and their egos, check out Graham Gallery in Hastings, Nebraska. The month-long show opens in August.

What kind of portrait would you paint?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sticks 'n' Stones

My artist's date this week was a fun couple of hours with our community's Garden Club. Thanks to host Sharon's expertise, we created a variety of trellises with a collection of sticks she took the time and trouble to collect for us. Mine started out looking like a treble clef notation, and ended up like a flock of geese heading south. No matter, it was an interesting foray into a new medium.

Sharon's got a wonderful garden, and a knack for finding beauty just about anywhere.

It's a good idea to try new ideas now and then. I'm a painter in oils and pastels. Sticks were a nice change. A bit of a risk. Was I expected to create something wonderful because I work as an artist? Interestingly fluid, stridently straight, they have their own language. Sticks tell you right away they will not play by your rules. You can tie them down, you can cajole them into shape, but they do what they do. It was a lesson in getting out of the way.

Maybe sticks aren't your thing. Have you taken a risk lately? What have you done in the last little while that challenged you to new thinking?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Green Glass Garden

I had a delightful Artist's Date this past week. This is a weekly event in which an artist invites him or herself to a few hours of delightful, effortless, aimless, goal-less creativity. It's a refresher for those of us who take the art of creativity seriously.

With some encouragement from my dear friend Mavis, I planted new blossoms in my garden. Yes, the middle of July is no time for planting tender new shoots, but these particular flowers are pretty hardy.

My garden has a spot in which nothing will grow. It gets sun, it gets water, it'll even grow weeds, but nothing I want to grow will grow. I took matters into my own hands. I shook off all sense and purchased twenty feet of 3/4" copper tubing, and cut it into various lengths from 36" to 18". Topped with green glass insulators, they catch the sun glinting aqua and copper and filling that dull space with light and color. I got flowers!
The thing is, I have a practical streak a mile wide. It tends to interfere with delightful, aimless, goal-less creativity. But sometimes even practical people need to cut loose and do something just for the heck of it. My new flowers cost a few bucks, but I value them far above the dollar amount. I value them for the fun I had planning their creation. I value them for their aquamarine beauty. I value them for the lessons I learned about cost versus value.
What do you cut loose with? What do you value?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

4th of July Add On

Hot Diggity! Look what showed up in my mailbox this morning. Max Miller dropped off a cd full of photographs taken at our 4th of July exhibit here in town.

Opening night, and we packed the house!

Gosh, we were even visited by Millard Fillmore, our county's namesake. Now there's someone who doesn't stop by every day.

All in all a huge success. Thanks Geneva!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Celebrate Geneva

My town is a small town, but we know how to party! Geneva just wrapped up their annual 4th of July celebration in fine form.

It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to put together two days of fun. From what I saw, almost everyone in town had a part in the festivities. The lodges and service clubs kept us well fed, the churches came together to put on a community concert and keep us in ice cream, Geneva's youth put on a musical with the help of the Missoula Theater, people rode their bikes and marathoned during the cool morning hours. The local quilters shared their projects and auctioned off items, and a group of historians reminded us of our roots in a display of Geneva's past. Our parade even had a rock band along with the requisite horses and tractors.

My friend Max Miller and I added our two bits with an art exhibit of our work, thanks to our Mayor, Rodney Norrie, who donated a store front for us. This was Max's debut, and the first time I'd shown more than a few pieces in town. Max and I opened with a reception on July 2nd and packed the house. The next two days I think everyone in the county stopped by. It was heartwarming to find our community supporting us in such a way. I'd share photos with you, but I was so busy having fun I neglected my camera!

Hope your 4th was filled with appreciation and joy. I know mine was. Thanks, Geneva, for your support and kindness. Thanks and congratulations to Max. More success will come your way. And many, many thanks to Handsome Husband for the incredible support and patience you've shared with me. It's been a blast! (A little fireworks humor there.)