Over the top busy this spring and summer, with new galleries, a solo show in place and several other shows coming up between now and August.
We had a lovely, packed opening reception at Chace-Randall Gallery in Andes, NY. I will be updating the blog post I created about the work in the show as pieces continue to sell—but you really should see the show in person, if you couldn’t make the opening! Thank-you to Zoe Randall for the party and especially for a great job hanging the work. The show will be up through July 7th.
I am showing again at Butters Gallery in Portland Oregon— and so pleased to add this reputable gallery in a new locale to my list. I participated in the “Line” show there last winter, curated by Melinda Stickney-Gibson, and have remained on the roster. Opening June 5th is a 4-artsist landscape show, invitation below. For my work in the show, see their website:
BUTTERS GALLERY LTD 520 NW DAVIS PORTLAND OREGON 97209 (503) 248-9378 (800) 544-9171 gallery hours: tuesday-friday 10-5:30 saturday 11-5 http://www.buttersgallery.com
East / West
June 5th – 28th 2014
Opening Reception: Thursday June 5th, 6 – 9 pm
My newest gallery is Edgewater Gallery in Middelbury, VT. This happened the way we artists love it to happen—a phone call offering representation. A beautiful space and locale, I am happy to be on the walls, and look forward to events there, starting with a visit and meet-and-greet in October. I just shipped off this triptych, painted with them in mind. See their website for additional work:
Up next is my duo show (with M.J. Levy Dickenson) at Julie Heller East in Provincetown, July 18-31, with an opening reception on July 19th from 6pm on. That same night we are also hosting a reception through the gallery at the Anchor Inn with larger pieces of mine and the work of Polly Law, 7-9pm. The idea is that viewers can go from East End to West End and see both shows.
Arriving at the Anchor Inn/JHG on June 5th, this new piece.
In August I will be showing with Louisa Gould Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard in a show with Louisa herself and Paul Beebe. Dates are August 7-27. with opening reception August 9th, 5-7pm. I am new to this beautiful gallery in Vineyard Haven, though I have been showing on the island since 1998, beginning with Carol Craven Gallery and most recently with Dragonfly (thank-you, Carol, Don, and Susan!). The show will include several large-formeat pieces of Vineyard locales.
Here are a few pieces hanging now in her Memorial Day show, including several new ones recently delivered.
Tucked in among all of these shows with my galleries is a very sweet happening, a show called “Three Generations” at Cano (Community Arts Network of Oneonta) in Oneonta, NY. This show will feature my mother, Gerri Scheele, with the ceramics that she was so well known for and the landscapes that followed; myself; and my daughter and son Tessa and Tony Scheele Morelli. This will be a special family affair staged at the Wilbur mansion, where I did my first oil painting at age 11 and where my mother showed extensively for many years.
Heading next week to Gold Gallery in Boston, this newly repainted piece. I am looking forward to my second solo show there in March of 2015.
Some spring sales:
ALL of my galleries have work of mine at all times, so wherever you are or travel to among these locales, check them out!
Workshops are upcoming at the Woodstock School of Art June 23-25 and Provinctown Artists Association and Museum, September 15-18.
Abstraction and Narrative in the Landscape
Working in Oil or Pastel
Using photograhic reference, we will investigate how the elements in a landscape painting serve the whole, accessing the formal qualities of color, shape, edge, and composition to create compelling imagery. The first day we will explore these tools and how they impact the implied narrative of the painting through exercises in oil or pastel on paper. In these studies we will add, subtract, move elements around and change color using our painterly hand. Instead of painting over changes, each study will remain intact while we start a new one so that all variations can be rigorously critiqued and compared before being used as a springboard for a larger painting.
Days 2-4 will include a demo of color-mixing from primaries; more compositional studies, and pursuing fully realized landscape paintings on canvas or larger pastels. Instruction will emphasize the reduction of detail to create a strong, clean composition, along with discussion of both the abstract and the narrative qualities brought out in individual paintings.
With every mark we make with brush or a palette knife, each shape that we cut out with a mat knife or clay that we shape with fingers or tools…every object that we create with our hands that did not before exist in the physical plane, we are drawing. When our eyes follow the shapes of things around us, even when our bodies bend to a pose in yoga…we are drawing.
I asked some friends to comment on the importance of drawing, all stellar artists, most who also teach. I left the question wide open—importance how? as painters? as visual human beings?—and so received wise answers to these slightly different questions.
“Drawing, as Michelangelo said, is the foundation of all the arts. It is the means by which an artist can make what he or she does convincing. Drawing, in my opinion, is not to be understood as the rendering of forms (which alone leads to eidetic illusionism), but as the construction of pictorial space within which form can palpably exist. Drawing is not a visual equation (these marks equal this object) that is left to illustrators who always and only render. Drawing is an abstraction which evokes and reifies the phenomenon of human visual experience of the world. It puts both artist and viewer at the center of experience.”
“If we are talking about the importance of drawing relative to painting, I think it is as important as the artist needs it to be. Having said that, I see little difference between drawing and observation. Observation leads to understanding, whether the subject is material or intangible doesn’t matter. Once one has observed and understood, then one may communicate. The visual artists chosen mode of expression, be it representation, abstraction, non-objective, or otherwise, is irrelevant. How effective the communication is, is of paramount importance. Overall I would say that the more acute the powers of observation then the more powerful the expression. In the end, to quote Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (Le Corbusier), “I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.”
“There seems to be an ease with drawing that i don’t find in any other medium, yet I find a finished drawing to be just has important as any painting .”
Drawing is where we start our creative lives and it continues to be where we take our exploratory steps into a new painting or sculpture or into almost any other medium. The immediacy of scratching lines on a piece of paper is perfect for experimenting with concepts or compositions for other works or for creating a pure, stark, honest work of art in and of itself.
I’ve always been so taken with the act of putting lines on paper, that I seem to gravitate toward drawing-based mediums like etching and drypoint. Again, it’s the immediacy.
Learning to draw well is essential for an artist. He or she can bring it to incredible levels of realism or break it down to pure abstraction…but it must first be mastered.
Drawing by definition is process intensive. The experience of drawing is also universal because everybody has at least made marks with a pencil; handwriting, a doodle or two. This is not true of painting, sculpture or filmography. There is no hiding with drawing, and also no drama. It is a simple task to just pick up a pencil and make a mark. Getting in the stream right where you are and navigating from there a pictorial impression. It will be a drawing no matter what.
Margarete de Soleil
“Drawing is the primary vehicle of visual intention and commitment. When a person gains drawing proficiency, they stand and take their first steps as an artist. Prior to that, their mark-making is like a baby that scoots around the floor on their butt- they eventually get where they want to go, but inelegantly, slowly and sloppily. Making a strong, intentional mark takes a great amount of courage- it might fail. And that fear of failure- easily remedied by making another mark, and another, and another, until confidence- gained through experience and persistence- produces the shape we see in our minds, stops too many people. And that is a shame. What is at stake here? A few pennies worth of materials, at best; some time; some self-criticism. The myth that artists tap into some deep well of innate talent and produce beautiful drawings ab ovo is just that- a myth. Most of us, our chubby child’s hands firmly grasping a crayon, made our first marks long, long ago. The main difference- we didn’t give up, we never stopped making bold marks, we learned to coordinate eye and hand, we learned to draw.”
From David Smith’s questions for students found among his papers after his death in 1965:
“21. Why do you hesitate–why can you not draw objects as freely as you can write their names and speak words about them?
22. What has caused this mental block? If you can name, dream, recall vision and auras why can’t you draw them? In the conscious set of drawing, who is acting in our unconscious as censor?
In particular, to the painter—
Is there as much art in a drawing as in a watercolor–or as in an oil painting?
Do you think drawing is a complete and valid approach to art vision, or a preliminary only toward a more noble product?”
I read these questions and loved them back when I was a student decades ago, and recommend them for any artist (link below).
I remembered #21 incorrectly in the intervening years, and so I will end with what I thought was his question, but turns out to be one of my own.
“Why, when we learn in school how to write the word chair, do we also not learn how to draw it?”
Is making art work?
This question has come up several times lately in discussion with artists, often as a question put to them by another party.
What immediately comes to mind for me is to reject the notion that conflates work with suffering. Of course, there are all kinds of work, and some is grueling, but work and misery are not the same thing.
Here is a definition of work (as a verb).
Exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil, productive or operative activity.
Making art is, without question, a productive activity that accomplishes something. Creating an object from materials, often formless (such as paint or clay), where no object existed before is a kind of magic. The process of creation often grounds the artist and thus sends positive energy out into the world, and the object itself can have emotive, soothing, and/or thought-provoking impact on its audience.
But is that work?
What if the artist is making an object that has a market, and that hours must be spent at this work (hmmm) to make a living?
Is the difference between making art that is work and making art that is pleasure that the first generates income and the latter does not?
I seem to be coming up with more questions than answers, but I will say that for myself making art is both work and play. It differs from a job in a few ways—-that I don’t get paid until I make a sale: and that I have to please myself first with what I paint, rather than pleasing a boss (though in the end, if what pleases me does not do so for others, I will not be able to sell anything).
Other things that often (but not always) apply to a job—-stressful, boring, repetitive—exist much less in my work day than with most jobs. And some attributes of work that would apply to all of us are that it requires discipline; builds skills, and can, over the years, be hard on the body.
If making art were not hugely satisfying, certainly no one would choose the uncertainty of being an artist as their livelihood. So I will venture to say that making art is both more stimulating and more soothing than other work, in different degrees for different artists.
Clearly, however, I find that I cannot even discuss this topic without applying the word work to artmaking, especially for the career artist. If you reread the above, you can see that I would have had to jump through hoops to avoid it, and the discussion has ended up being more about the kind of work.
I put the question to a handful of my wise artists friends, asking for a short commentary, and am including their thoughts, unedited.
“I am going to respond quickly before I have a chance to edit myself, and to all of you, in the hopes that we can all share our ideas.
I have been struggling with this word “work” associated with my art making for a very long time. I remember, years ago when I was in my twenties, I worked for lawyers on a part-time schedule. When I left to go make art, the lawyers used to smile and say “you’re off to play!” I bristled every time I heard that because I was struggling in the process of learning the craft of my medium for art, ceramics. It took me many years to become facile in my craft so I could see my art making as play. Even today, I have a lot of physical labor, repetitive tasks, and losses due to factors beyond my control, in my art making that cause me to think of it as work, and sometimes question whether I am crazy to be doing this work at all.
I think of my art as my life partner. I also have a non art job, which I love, which I am married to. I have the formal relationships with my job that keep me from abandoning it when it gets hard to do. My art is easy to abandon as I have no formal ties to it (galleries, patrons etc.) like you do Christie. I am now in a bit of a fallow period. I have had these in the past and worried if I would ever return to my art. Of course I do, eventually, because I miss the relationship. I miss all the hard work, and I even miss the failures, because generally they spark my mind to go in new directions. So, yes I think it is good work because it stimulates me. I don’t, fortunately for me, define this work based on whether I earn a living at it or I’d drive myself crazy. I am old enough now to understand that I have to make art alongside my paying job. They feed off of each other. I need them both to be the kind of person I want to be. Hopefully, I will replace the job with something else when I retire, but it will not be art. I can’t make art all the time. My body and mind can’t take it.
So, although I think I got off topic a bit, I think I can now say to those lawyers, “Yes, I am off to play to make my art work!” ;-}”
“Without the work there are only ideas. For me to make a painting takes great work. And then, more work.”
“I am away teaching so I will l answer quickly and intuitively. The answer is yes!!
That doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun, full of play and exciting but it is challenging, frustrating and just plain hard at times.
There are those moments in the studio when i just feel that i am in the right place doing what I am suppose to be doing..then it isn’t work!!
“John- I really like what you wrote: Without the work there are only ideas.
I have 2 brothers who were both gifted with a fair amount of natural talent but neither of them pursued their talents. They have also expressed a bit of envy of my abilities. I point out to them that I work- and work hard- at my art and that they always gave up when the first attempt to express themselves artistically didn’t yield the result they wanted.
Do I enjoy doing the work? Yes!! With every fiber of my being. I love getting myself into a tough artistic corner and finding the way out. I exercise my art muscles as often as I can.