Sunday, June 26, 2011

Your Weekend Calendar

On my calendar this week – and hopefully yours as well:
You’re invited to a fresh new exhibit of oils and pastels opening Friday, July 1st at The Burkholder Project in Lincoln, Ne.  This collection of paintings is titled “A Larger View” and reflects my travels up and down the gravel roads of south central Nebraska. 
©2011 Patricia Scarborough  Summer River 9x18 oil 
 Joining me in the Outback Gallery will be metal artist Mary Kolar.  Her creations are beautiful and delightfully quirky.  Take a break from lighting sparklers and lady fingers, and join Lincoln for the First Friday Art Walk in the Haymarket District.  The Burkholder will be open from 7:00pm to 9:00 just for you.
The town we’ve called home for the last long while will be hosting a good old fashioned Independence Day celebration called "Discover Geneva-Patriotism"  starting on Saturday, July 2nd. 

Join us in the shade of the Fillmore County Courthouse lawn in Geneva, Nebraska on Saturday, July 2nd from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm for Art on the Green.  We’ve got a great line-up of artists and artisans who will be glad to visit with you about their work.  You’ll see an amazing array of art, including: Nancy Fairbanks - ceramics;  Leroy Von Glan – ceramics; Diane Beir – melted glasswork; Pixybug Designs – lampwork and jewelry; Helen Waring Johnson – photography; and painters in an interesting collection of styles and media including Susan deWit, Suzann Johnson, Jean Cook, Janet Butler, Carrie Marx and myself.  Keep your fingers crossed for blue skies and cool temps.

In addition to our Art on the Green, the Courthouse Square will be abuzz with lots of activities for you and your family including quilt shows, inflatables for the kids, a dog show, lots to eat and tons more throughout the entire weekend. 
Stop by and say hello!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In Dad's Shadow

My siblings and I are quite different in the ways we’ve chosen to live in this world, yet we spring from the same creative stew. 

Our parents were a product of the Great Depression, which means that their families used everything they owned with great care and ingenuity.  I’ve heard my father say that when it came time to butcher pigs for the table, everything was used but the squeal. 
Whatever creativity my siblings and I have now surely came in some part from a climate of necessity brought on by living in difficult times. 
Commute  6 x 9 pastel  Private Collection

On Father’s Day, I honor my father, whose talents and empathy surely were born during the Dust Bowl, yet flourished in a mind fertile and open to wonder.
Dad was a tinkerer, - that’s what he called it.  He enjoyed being in his basement workshop, creating what we needed, or thought we needed.  He whistled while he worked quite literally, busy with the necessity of raising 6 children on a teacher’s salary, and doing so with grace and cleverness.  Dollhouses and tiny kitchens for my sisters and I, skateboards and jungle-gyms for the brothers, it was as much the challenge of the design and building as it was the need for keeping us satisfied. He built a guitar and then learned to play it, not so much because he enjoyed playing but because he wondered if he could.

 We toured the Platte River in a flat-bottomed canoe built to withstand the excitement of wiggling children because it was more interesting to build one than to buy one.  His first sailboat was built in the back yard, and the first of many remote-controlled airplanes were built in the basement, crashed in a field south of town, and rebuilt once again for another flight.
Leaves on Blue Water  24 x 18 pastel  Private Collection
My siblings and I have chosen very different fields, all with a nod toward my Dad in his workshop. I see some of that influence even in my sons. 

It was not his great desire, nor his determination, that brought the traits of creative endeavor to my siblings and me. It was simply the way he lived his life.
It’s not what we leave in boxes and piles that matters. It’s how we move through each day that leaves the greatest mark. 

I wonder. What sort of mark will I leave?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lessons From A Master

Handsome Husband and I are just home from a field trip of sorts to Kansas City, Mo.

Our trip took us across northern Kansas on Highway 36, a beautiful strip of highway cutting through wheat fields and rolling pastures dimming into blue hills far into the distance.  Those who claim Kansas is flat need only travel this area to see how beautiful this part of the country is.
Our field trip was inspired by the Nelson-Atkins ArtCenter’s exhibition of Claude Monet’s Agapanthus Triptych, painted from 1915 to 1926. (Interestingly, the agapanthus of the title was painted over sometime during the 11 years Monet worked on this painting.)  Doubling the pleasure of the weekend was the opportunity to visit the southern branch of the Handsome Husband family tree and go to a cool jazz gig featuring our trombone playing nephew, Brian.  The only way the weekend could have been better was if Santa Claus himself was there.
Our first stop was the Nelson-Atkins.  I approached “The Monet” as if I were in a church; quietly, reverently, waiting for angels to proclaim the moment. I will even admit that I was prepared to fall to my knees in awe. 
Claude Monet  Water Lilies Series  Agapanthus Tryptich panel three 1915-1926

The painting itself is beautiful without a doubt.  Virtually abstract, the swirls of pigment moving from green to pink to blue in short dashes of color, accentuated by thick white figure-eight shapes captured my attention immediately.  What I didn’t expect was the muscular surface (it’s the only way I can think of to describe it).  Monet thought “out loud” with pigment and brush.  He painted, considered, scraped off, painted more, painted over, changed his mind and did the whole thing over again and again.  Rather that claiming the painting ‘finis!’, it is believed he simply ran out of time, dying before it was done.  The surface shows this thought process; it is heavily textured in places, harsh marks show where he scraped and re-worked, and layers of paint hide groups of lilies painted in previous sessions.  There are areas of paste-y pigment, not unpleasant but not entirely expected either from a master of painting.  My college professors would have raised an eyebrow.
My knees didn’t buckle, nor did I hear angels sing.
It’ll be awhile before I have the experience completely evaluated.  I'm not hard-hearted; the painting is beautiful. I am awed by Monet’s obsessive struggle to translate the physics of light into pigment.  That awe includes the appreciation of the plain hard work that goes into this type of creative exploration.  It is a lesson taken to heart.
©2010 Patricia Scarborough New Day  12 x 18 pastel

Monet spent decades discovering what his water garden had to offer, right up until his passing from this earthly world. For me, as an artist exploring new territory there may be no moment of arrival, but simply, delightedly, perhaps painfully, the awareness of yet another step in the process until the work is declared complete - or the clock runs out.  

2011 Patricia Scarborough  Early Morning Spring  6 x 9 pastel

Tick tick tick tick . . .

Sunday, June 5, 2011

On Safari

Greetings Dear Reader, it’s so nice to have you stop by.
Lately, with the changing of the season (here in Nebraska it’s like a locomotive coming down the tracks at full speed) I’ve felt the need to refresh my stack of reference photos.  Trees grow, split and tip over to reveal new compositions or spark fresh ideas.  Plus, it’s a good reason to go for a long drive on a lovely spring day and hang out with Handsome Husband.
With a full gas tank, charged camera batteries and no time frame, we headed out to find photo-worthy scenery. 

It appears at first glance that my corner of the world is a fairly flat, cultivated place. Mostly farmland, there aren’t many – or any – wide rushing rivers leading to dramatic waterfalls crashing down mountain cliffs.  No dizzying hills looking out on blue oceans.   However, with an eye toward what lies just beyond that field of freshly tilled dirt, in the shadow of an old cottonwood with its roots buried deep by a muddy creek, there are jewels to be discovered.  And so we set out on a safari of sorts with eyes tuned in to whatever might be lurking just around the corner. 

We drove miles of country road, squaring the leveled fields neatly at 90 degrees.   I’ve got bed sheets with more interesting contours.  It wasn’t until we missed a turn, literally taking the road less travelled, that our first treasure was revealed.   
As we crested a hill (one of the few around) the earth dropped away and the world suddenly got much larger.  Spring rains have renewed this old creek, and the pastures have responded as well.

Further down this same road we noticed a low area, a ditch really, still holding water from a downpour the day before. 

The sun was rising higher in the sky causing deep shadows.  The lush response of wild grasses and flowers to water puddling in the undergrowth revealed a corner of Eden, a mere 50 yards long and 30 yards wide. 

A few miles further a glance down an impassable dirt road brought us to the edge of another slice of paradise, smaller than the last but a treasure nonetheless. 
These tiny gems don’t have a long shelf life. They’ll disappear, go dormant, and re-appear unexpectedly.
The trick is to be aware, to be ready, to anticipate not where they’ll be, but that they will be, somewhere right under our noses, just beside the road we’ve driven down a hundred times before.  I've done my homework and I'm ready, excited really, to get to my easel and paint.

 ©2011 Patricia Scarborough  County Road, Heading South   16 x 20 oil