Saturday, October 31, 2015

October Glow

I think the forces of nature have had a conference and decided to concentrate all their efforts on this last day of October and make it the most fabulous of autumn events. The bluest of blue skies and sunshine galore have made the last show of colorful leaves a real painter's dream. Even the maples (that theoretically do not turn red here in Europe) have done their best to prove science wrong. Needless to say, my afternoon walk was pure joy. The temperature is even mild enough that I could enjoy browsing through a neighbor's yard sale - I love these little treasure hunts and forays into remnants other worlds. The follow up is, of course, bringing the new acquisitions - a book or a basket or a little dish - home and making them fit into one's own surroundings.
Autumn Aspens
Just a week ago, the tables were turned as I was at the midpoint of Open House weekend in my KlangArt studio - a grand event, made so by the many friends, art lovers and customers who took the time to drop by for a visit. There were many interesting conversations as well as comments on my artwork and my architecturally distinctive apartment. As an artist, the most rewarding moment of such an event comes when someone expresses interest in a specific painting - enough to want to buy it and be able to look at it and rediscover it daily in their home. . .  to make it fit into their own personal world.  My heart smiles.

My closing thought comes as I listen to the daily news on the radio:

       "The job of an artist is to offer a sanctuary of beauty to an otherwise ugly world."
                                                                                                             Jeff Goins
Between Day and Night

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Open House in October

The days really seem to fly by. I know, it is a common plaint that there are never quite enough hours in the day . . . . ahh. . . I'm thinking, though, that just yesterday it was late summer and today the calendar says mid October - and I still haven't had the opportunity to go for a long walk in the woods and shuffle through the fallen leaves. I'm reminded of years of raking, cleaning up the garden, even burning leaves at streetside and kids jumping into leaf piles. Memories are wonderful, aren't they?

Outdoor activities have been kept to a minimum this week in Berlin for a couple of reasons. First, the weather hasn't been cooperative and, more relevant for me, preparations for the upcoming open house in my studio have kept me busy.
OK. . . .This chaos in the studio is merely a sign of the creative process (please don't laugh). By Saturday it will all be orderly. In the meantime, there is a lot of painting, matting and framing to be done. This is my labor of love - not to be traded for anything. I can only hope that my endeavors connect with the visitors in my studio this weekend. Amen.


If you are in Berlin this weekend, you are most welcome to drop by the studio; all are welcome. It will be a grand event.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Rubenstein and "Inktober"

Autumn is upon us. During this past week in Berlin we have experienced the full palette of late summer molting into fall. Today the sun shone in its full October beauty, making the colorful leaves - dancing in a light wind - a joy to watch. Somehow, I never tire of gazing out of my window on an autumn day. The neighborhood squirrel is busy gathering walnuts and building a warm nest; the chickadees and jays chase each other and seem to vie for the best places on a special treebranch.

Ah, yes, I have been tending to business, too. There is an upcoming Open House in my KlangArt studio in two weeks, so preparations are in full swing - including everything from painting, matting and organizing to doing some publicity and even a bit of housecleaning! As I tell my students, discipline is the key . . . not always easy. I do have my tricks, though, to make the work flow a bit easier; I could do as the seven dwarfs did for Snow White and "Whistle while you Work"  (no link here), but I've decided instead to listen to some other old favorites - Artur Rubenstein playing Chopin.  I've chosen the Ballade #4, but there are many recordings available, and they are all worthy of a listen. For me, this rendition is comparable to donning those old sneakers that are SO comfortable, even though they may not be the most stylish. Pure music.

I guess I have to relate my personal experience with the master Rubenstein . . . I was privileged to hear him once live in a concert in Rochester, NY. As a very tiny, elderly gentleman walked onto the stage, I was taken aback. Was this really the GREAT Rubenstein? From the moment he sat down at the piano, there was no doubt in my mind. Fantastic. It was a program of Chopin;  undoubtedly also for Rubentstein himself "old sneakers." I sat on the edge of my seat the whole time.  There were more than a few notes that Chopin himself didn't compose in this recital, but the rendition was magic; there was music in every phrase. I'll never forget it.

My painting this week has been concentrated on ink work. There is a friendly challenge for artists to observe "Inktober" by doing an ink drawing per day for the whole month of October. So. . . I have made my liberal interpretation of this project and am happily producing small ink sketches daily. Some of them will undoubtedly also be matted and will find their way to the upcoming Advent markets.


My thought for the week relates (amongst other things) to these small scale, quick sketches.

"There is nothing insignificant in the world. It all depends on the point of view."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Good bye, September

I have been thoroughly enjoying those last bits of September sunshine and warmth here in my birds- nest studio. The air is especially clear and fresh - makes my watercolors seem more vibrant than usual. The first tinges of color are coming to the trees; it is a time when I like to close my eyes and remember the fantastic reds and oranges of the sugar maples in western New York - these are shades that can't be duplicated by the European maples.

A squirrel has been visiting my window regularly - burying his treasure of walnuts in my window boxes. He is fascinating to watch.  I've often wondered if the animals really remember where they deposit their food stash. If there is a walnut tree sprouting at my window in the spring, I guess I'll have the answer.

The cat is, of course, also very interested in our visitor. Squirrel seems to know that there is no immediate danger and goes about his business as usual, while Snoopy is both mesmerized by the action and frustrated by the combination of proximity and distance.

With all of the harbingers of autumn at my window, I've been prompted to continue using a palette of similar colors in my paintings - ocher and gold, red and cadmium orange and with crispy, clear ink outlines. There is no attempt on my side  to imitate all that is going on outdoors; it is my personal translation of the September atmosphere. Great stuff!

Barberry and Rose hips

Elements - the colors of September

And, of course, the week would not be complete without a bit of good music. My "discovery" is a group called Time for Three. Granted, they have been around for a number of years, but somehow had escaped me until recently. I'm most impressed by their virtuosity and inspired by their musicality. Here is a clip with Joshua Bell as guest artist -
Have fun listening!