There’s good news and bad news to report. First the bad news: as we were going through Security at JFK for a long planned trip to India my husband had a stroke. The India trip, needless to say, didn’t happen. The good news is that Steve was admitted quickly to Jamaica Hospital which has a special stroke unit and where he got excellent care. (Interestingly, it seemed as though half of India was working at the hospital and we had a number of fascinating conversations about our planned itinerary. )
The really good news: Steve has completely recovered and, as the doctors so succinctly put it, has no deficits (sic). He has some new medicine and is free to resume his life as it was before.
But it was a scary three days and it will be a long time before I forget what he looked like. And I started a series of what I am calling my Stroke paintings while he was still in the hospital. So far, I have 9 small paintings (5 x 7) and 4 larger paintings (12 x 15).
Two of the small ones …
I don’t know when the series will stop … I guess when I stop waking up in the middle of the night thinking about how close I came to losing him.
Two of my paintings won first prize at the Eastchester Library Show recently:
Waving Leaves won First Prize for Landscape.
The judge said: “This work is remarkable for its sense of absence and presence. The viewer is made aware of the landscape even though it is not mentioned. The artist is seeing things in a different way that is very powerful. This use of watercolor goes beyond the normal use of the medium. Strong attributes of this work are the juxtaposition of flat shapes and indications of depth to make a statement that cannot be ignored in the room.”
Hens and Chickens II won First Prize for Watercolor.
The judge said: “This work holds together well from the back of the room. It pulls together from a distance, yet when viewed close up, it is abstract and loose — not unlike Monet’s water lilies. This is a very competent representational exploration of color light and shade. The artist makes good use of watercolor as a traditional medium; good use of color; strong focused composition.”
I am very happy with how these two paintings turned out and it’s really wonderful to be recognized in this way. Besides, who am I to argue with someone who puts me in the same sentence as Monet?!?
An artist friend of mine is really mostly interested in the process when she paints, rather than the end result. Iris is all about experimenting with this color added to that, the effect of adding this kind of paint to that, etc. The result is mostly interesting to her because it raises more questions.
I, on the other hand, have always been about the end result: I experiment primarily to learn how to get the result I want, not for its own sake. In my quest to learn how to create abstract art, however, I’m moving closer to her camp than ever before (possibly because I don’t always know what I want in advance). Two evenings a week I try to abstract from the model at the Art Students League. I’ve been using pastels on newsprint paper mostly because it’s cheaper and I don’t feel so inhibited about wasting a sheet of paper if I don’t like the result (unfortunately, often the case).
Since I just finished the newsprint pad, this week I’m going to try ink and watercolor crayons on watercolor paper. The ink will force me to be looser and the crayons are an interesting way to get intense color but also be able to spread it around and vary the intensity using water.
Last week in my studio at home, I took one pastel sketch from the last class that Frank (my teacher) and I liked to use as raw material. Here’s the pastel sketch.
First, I tried to do something similar but different with ink and watercolor. I liked the effect of the spraying on the ink, but the ink was too dominant. It overpowered the watercolor. Adding gouache to see if it could cover over some of the ink worked with the darker green, but not with the lighter colors.
So I tried doing another sketch with watercolor pencil and spraying that and then adding the watercolor. Here’s the result.
I didn’t get enough of an effect from the spraying so I tried a third version, this time making the watercolor pencil lines a little heavier. A little better, but still no cigar. I walked away and went back an hour later and decided to intensify some of the colors. Much better. Here’s the result.
Since the ink from the first try was appealing but just too strong, I decided to go back and try to intensify the colors there. Also much better.
I like this one the best so far.
This week, I’ll try doing the initial sketch with the watercolor crayons and maybe spraying that. We’ll see what that looks like and go from there.
This is fun …