Friday, June 21, 2013

Kid Draws on Wall Decides Anything is Possible

First Childhood, 12x12" oil on panel
Will be featured at Fountainhead Gallery Solo Show this August

Kid Draws on Wall Decides Anything is Possible

Most kids get in big trouble when they draw on the walls. Mom sees her living room wall covered with kid scribbles and scrabbles and wants to grab the culprit by the scruff of the neck and throw them in their room for a decade. What a mess that kid made. How can she not know better?

But what about the parent who tells the kid to go ahead and draw on the wall? I was about ten or so and remember looking at houses and wondering why on earth they didn’t paint their exteriors in a more interesting way? Look at that huge blank canvas. If that was my house, I’d paint flowers all over it or a jungle or an ocean with a bobbing boat. I was quite impressed when I did see a house once with a diagonal line from top to bottom corners and the top half was white and the bottom half was black. Now this is really cool, I thought, to my fifth grade self.

My dad, after I bugged him for some time, finally said that I could paint on one wall of the garage. Anything I want, I asked? Sure, anything you want. Fill it up. My imagination went wild. I could picture that wall with a huge Peter Max-like designs or maybe the word Flower-Power in cool, psychedelic lettering (it was the 70's, mind you). My mind had big ideas but my reality couldn’t make it happen. I didn’t know anything about drawing out an idea on paper, how to transfer out a small paper design to a big wall or even how to actually paint the thing. Painting with four colors at the school’s easel was all the experience I had BUT even though my scribbles on that garage wall never looked like much, the fact that my dad said I could go for it was huge. It said to me, you can do anything.

Looking back on my growing up years, there were lots of times my folks gave me carte blanch to make my own decisions and live with them. They weren't the kind of parents who took away the paring knife in frustration from little hands and said Let me show you how that’s done and then proceeded to do it all. All that says is that the parent is the big knowledgeable one and the kid can’t figure it out themselves. I think that’s key; letting kids figure out things for themselves. Give them leeway- give them a whole wall and they’ll  feel they can do it all.
If you like looking at paintings, visit . Or come visit them in person at my next big show at Fountainhead Gallery in Seattle which opens August 10th.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Finding Art

"Behind Bars"
Oil on 24x24in panel by Joanne Shellan
This painting will be featured in a solo show at Fountainhead Gallery, Seattle WA
Show dates Aug.8 - Sept. 1, 2013

Finding Art

Where do you go to look at art? I know where to go to get good literature- a library or bookstore. For an art film or play, I go to the theatre. And there are piles of reviews by professionals to help me make good choices. For all these arty things that I consume, I know where to go. But where do I go to look at or buy art?
Museums are the place to go for art that has made it to the top. That’s where the top of the heap art lives. Art Fairs are fun places to buy less expensive and decorative pieces of art. Art Galleries used to be THE place in town to go buy art with the help of a professional who has read the reviews and knows how to build an art collection This past recession has been especially hard on art galleries. People often buy new art when they change houses. No buying and selling of houses means less art purchased. Another hit the galleries are taking is that art is sold on-line now in great quantities.
But the brick and mortar galleries that are still left standing are the ones you need to visit. They're the ones with owners who care deeply about art, who have done the work to know who’s a flash-in-the pan what’s here to stay. They enjoy the new ideas that their bevy of artists bring to them. These stanchions of the art world are still the novice and expert’s art guide; they can lead buyers to the right artist at the right price range and find a piece of art that will be loved for a lifetime. They help people start and grow art collections. Make friends with a gallery owner.
It’s fun to buy art on-line or at an art fair but if you want guidance from a professional, go visit your nearest reputable art gallery.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Alla Prima- what's that?

Daisy Duke, oil on 9x11" panel, $490

I'm working on lots of smaller paintings now for my final surge of work for the Fountainhead Gallery show in August. It's such a joy to work smaller after doing larger pieces that take three weeks to complete. These little ones are much quicker and are a lot more fun to work on. I do them Alla Prima which is a style of painting where you work wet-into-wet so you have to complete it in one session. Wet-into-wet means the paint is always wet so if you want to mix the paint, you push harder with your brush to dig into the layer below or if you want the paint to lie on top of that last stroke, you place it lightly with the end of the brush. When done right, those top strokes can be exciting and fresh.

Working towards a show is a good way to keep you in focus. I tend to bounce around with subject matter but a show means staying cohesive and working within the confines of a theme. On the other hand, the show is up for barely a month and it takes a whole year for me to completel a dozen works that are show quality so it's a big investment.

Fountainhead Gallery is a really lovely gallery up on Queen Anne hill in Seattle. Please put August 10th on your calendar for the opening night. If you would like an invitation in your email in-box, go to my website's guest book and sign in. Meanwhile, as they say in the business, keep your brush wet!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Be in the Know!

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We took the nicest walk on Mother's Day to a nature preserve on Fir Island. The water is Sammish Bay. Hmmm...I wonder if that's where the oysters I ate that day came from? 
No doubt some paintings will be born from this glorious day.
 When you choose a subject matter that is meaningful to you, your paintings come out singing.  
I have a big show coming up in August at Fountainhead Gallery in Seattle, WA and I still need some small works for the show. Can hardly wait to get in the studio!
Check out my website.....I've been working on it all day adjusting the site for PayPal.
Anyone care to try the Buy Now button?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Take a Peep at changing Horses

Take a Peep at Changing Horses

Oh, were life a straight line with few curves. You would just slip into a ready-made road and stay on it. Perhaps a bit boring but certainly easier.

I have a show coming up in two months at the beautiful Fountainhead Gallery in Queen Anne in Seattle (opens August 10, 2013) and I still need to create work for a grouping of smaller pieces. I took a workshop last weekend and felt a real ah-ha moment when I realized that the labored, three week paintings I've been painting the last couple of years are now making me dread going into my studio. Pay attention, self! In the workshop, we painted alla prima which means creating an oil painting all in one day in a single painting session. This is the style that drew me, weak at the knees, into the world of oil painting. You've heard that old saying,  you can't change horses mid-stream....that's where I'm at right now. I really have to stay in this current style for this show.

Now I'm not so dumb that I can't figure out how to incorporate these new ideas into the old style and that's what I'll do. And most artists change styles many times in their lifetime. Think of Picasso's blue period. He had years of pursuing one way of putting paint on a canvas and then moved into an entirely new style. Not that I'm Picasso, mind you.

What we all need to do when the road starts curving and takes us by surprise is set groaning aside, clarify what's happening,  say some positive affirmations to oneself, and get moving in that new direction.

So down to the studio with positive thoughts. Hope your day is full of positive thoughts too. Be kind to yourself. And please write August 10th on your calendar so you can come and peep at my new paintings along with the Peeps in the photo!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Artists Who Repeat Themselves-- Can you Say that AGain, Please?

Artists Who Repeat Themselves---can you say that again, please?
                I find it so interesting how artists seem to repeat themselves over and over with their subject matter. It’s like the artist is saying the same thing 100 times only saying it slightly differently. The first time, it’s “Oooh, I love their gestures.” The next time, she says, “Isn’t it interesting how the light falls on their different shapes?” And the next time she says, “I wonder what’s going on behind them?” Each time the artist paints what interests her and to her, it’s a whole new focus. It seems like a new idea to the artist and probably looks new to the viewer too but if you step back far enough, way back so you can see their whole body of work from when they first picked up a paintbrush until today and you analyzed it, you will see repeating themes. And you might even be able to find some Big Meanings in that work.
But most artists won’t know what the major themes are in their work.
                It’s the nature of the beast. An artist is so close to their work, their noses are stuck to the canvas, the writer to his computer screen. They can no more see their whole body of work and find the major themes than become an astronaut in space.  It’s like looking in a mirror and never being about to truly see how we look to others. We’re simply not very objective when it comes to seeing ourselves. Charlie Brown says to Lucy, after one of her long tirades of how much she likes everything about herself, “If you like yourself too much, don’t you think you’re liable to get a little conceited?” to which Lucy replies, “Don’t be silly, you can’t like yourself too much!” Well Lucy, you can. I think we artists adore each of our little strokes so much that we often fail to see the whole painting just as we fail to see how our body of work is a series of repeating themes.
                And that’s okay. Writers need to simply keep writing and painters need to keep painting and we shouldn’t worry about repeating themes. We should worry about the one painting we’re working on now and how can we make it the very best piece we’ve ever painted. Someone else can do the interpreting, should that ever need to happen. I still find it interesting and like to look at other artists to try to see their themes. But I leave the mirrors in my studio covered. My job is to focus on what’s on my easel.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Turning Over a New Leaf

Turning Over a New Leaf

Turning over a new leaf usually means switching to something new or changing course. For some, the time for this fresh start naturally falls in the fall. We're done playing outdoors in the summer sun and find it's time to come indoors and see what needs doing. Kids are back in school, the chilly morning air feels energizing, and when we finally come inside, we see heaps and piles just begging for some of your time and attention.
Autumn is the season that really feels like the beginning of a new year to me. New Year's means resolutions and resolutions means looking for solutions to old problems. I recently read part of a book called, "Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard" by Chip and Dan Heath, two highly educated brothers who have thought long and hard about what is going on in our brains when we want change that we know is right but we can't quite get done. They look at the emotional and rational parts of our brain and analyze how they compete to get us to do what they want. I found it all quite fascinating. Filled with lots of compelling stories about changes, big and small that made real differences in the world, the book's point on looking for bright spots made a real impact on me. What they mean is look for what is working, those are the bright spots, and do more of that. Pretty simple, huh?
I see the path I want to be on but how do I get there? Where exactly do I really want to go? Sometimes it's hard to define the exact problem. Clarification comes from many different sources. I find clarity by talking with friends and writing. Sometimes you hit on a few sentences in a story or article that seems tailor made to describe your situation. Or you're at the gym, generating sweat and have a sudden epiphany about your current struggles.
This fall will bring us a major US election as well as new paintings and writings, new subjects to learn, new jobs to start, new people to meet. Where are your bright spots and how can you make more of them? What path has leaves on it that need turning over? I’ll leave you with this quote, “Solvitur ambulando, St. Jerome was fond of saying. To solve a problem, walk around. ~Gregory McNamee