Sunday, March 27, 2016

Keep Experimenting, Keep Growing

Now that spring is really underway, we see growth and reawakening all around us. I am using all the renewal and energy that the season brings with it as inspiration for my artwork. It is time to bring on the new colors and techniques - different subject matter and materials. Using new paints on a different ground automatically stimulates the imagination and leads to new and interesting discoveries. Fun! 

Painting, Writing, Composing 
This one was a real challenge, being much larger than my usual watercolor papers and definitely outside my comfort zone -  mixed media on a sheet of heavy, brown paper, 70x100 cm.  The first layer is a collage of old sheet music (please forgive me for tearing music apart, but it all is for the sake of art) and India ink; succeeding layers are acrylic; brushed, printed and sprayed; graphite, acrylic ink and a bit more India ink applied with a bamboo pen.

Then, while the paint was still figuratively wet on this piece, I started a series of very small, postcard sized works to challenge my imagination in the other direction. These are mostly oil paints monoprinted onto washi paper (a very thin, tissue-like oriental paper traditionally used for sumi-e and calligraphy). Of the 17 pieces that I made, here are a few of my favorites - some with a few extra brushstrokes and bits of collage to round out the compositions.
Japanese Dreams
Paper Dreams

Crazy Fiddle
Crazy Sax
My musical accompaniment for all this color chaos has also been equally mixed. While I was working on the large format (we were a group of eight exploring the theme of "Workplace - between action and standstill"), there was tango music as inspiration. Here is a small tidbit, performed by friends of mine here in the Philharmonie, Berlin. .
To complete the week of contrasting experimentation, my musical choice here at home has been Mozart (again). Last weekend I was part of a performance of the G minor Symphony, Nr. 40. No matter how many times I have played this piece of music over the years, it's charm and genius haven't lessened. I love being surrounded by those sounds. We had a Viennese conductor, so the interpretation was definitely different than one expects here in Berlin. Appropriately, though, I wasn't surprised to find that this older Harnoncourt version was very much like ours. 

My thought for the day came from a lovely print I found in a gift shop at the Detroit airport, where I was trying my best to stay awake and constructively use my waiting time . . . 

"Most people don't know that there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don't get too comfortable and fall asleep and miss your life."

Monday, March 7, 2016

Trees and Tulips

At long last I've found my way back to  blogging. The past month has been a rollercoaster of events that just has not leant me the necessary peace of mind I need to write. Instead of elaborating on February's high and low points, I turn my thoughts to the sunshine pouring through my window and the advent of Spring. Birds and squirrels know what to do; I have sighted the first formations of northbound geese and signs of fresh nests. Trees start budding and we feel like opening windows to sniff the fresh air. (It really does smell different in springtime.) Furlined boots are relegated to the rear of the closet and a bunch of fresh tulips adorns my dining table.

Spring's Arrival
Without revealing my age or making any of you think about your own life span, I want to point out how we, each year, get so excited about this turn of season. No matter how many times we experience it, spring is new each and every year. Like children at Christmas, we examine the crocuses popping up through the bare ground and are amazed at forsythia blossoms defying the still very crisp temperatures.

I've been practicing my Mozart with renewed vigor and have updated the colors in my watercolor palette; ochre and Payne's Grey have given way to sap green and mountain blue.

Spring Trees
My audio choice this week was a difficult one, but only because there are so many possibilities.  I have managed to narrow the field down to two - hope they are good ones! I have long been a fan of Robert Frost (will never forget his reading at the Kennedy inauguration ) and have chosen here his renditon of "Nothing Gold can Stay."

And just a small tribute to Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who revolutionized performance practice and interpretation of Baroque music - an inspiration for me since university days in Kansas!

Nature's first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf's a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay. 
                                                  Robert Frost