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Church window wip 4-28-13Church window – WIP 1/2 sheet of Arches 140# coldpress

Spring has arrived in NYC which means the cherry blossoms are all a-bloom. The Husband and I attended the Sakura Matsuri festival this weekend.  This is an annual Japanese Festival celebrating the cherry blossoms and Japanese culture.  We saw a group called taiko-masala which featured traditional Japanese drumming.  They were great, but not that great that the Husband had to purchase not one, but TWO CDs of Japanese Drumming.  I predict a headache in my future!

Another interesting thing about the Sakura Matsuri festival is that there are a lot of people in costume. Not just traditional Japanese costume, which is cool, but people dressed in what I think are anime and sweet Lolita characters.  I don’t know for sure, but there were a lot of young people there with tails, cat ears, bright pink and green wigs and creepy contact lenses which made their eyes white.

orange hair

unicorn girl

And these were some of the more normal looking folks there.

Apropos of nothing, I had a hankering for some junk food.  Potato chips are my favorite, but I spied a bag of Cheetos “simply natural” that advertised it was made with expellier pressed oils (huh?) sea salt, no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and as a special added bonus it was gluten-free.

I felt so healthy I ate the whole bag.

The painting above should have been of cherry blossoms, but I haven’t done one yet, so I’m posting this work in progress of a church window.  I liked the sky reflected in the glass and the branches and leaves. While I was painting it I thought of the two instructors recently (Antonio Masi and Joel Popadics) that both said similar things.  They paint with the lines going into the paintings. Don’t paint with your lines going out of the paintings or people will just move on.  So of course when I started painting this I had the tree branches leading right off the page, so I turned it around and have the leaves now hanging down into the center.  Now you can’t move on.  You must stay and gaze.  🙂

And now some good news from the medical industry. Guess what,  a recent study shows that if you have existential angst, and really, who doesn’t, taking Tylenol may help!  You can read all about it here.

angst /aNG(k)st/

  1. A feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.
  2. A feeling of persistent worry about something trivial. Anxiety
Now you must excuse me.  I’m off to eat healthy cheetos (?!?)and will wash it down with some tylenol.

Croatian road sketch

croatian road practice

sketches March 2013Some of the sketches I did in Antonio Masi’s workshop

I had the pleasure of taking an Antonio Masi workshop at the Salmagundi Club in NYC.   Antonio is a warm, charming man who paints large (40″ x 60″) watercolor paintings of NYC bridges.   He also has a handlebar mustache which he clearly waxes and which I was fixated on.  He’d come over to look at my work and speak with me and all I could think about was “what is that look all about?”  Anyway….

He demonstrated how he paints his bridges, but also spoke of his thinking behind all his paintings.   He does lots of sketches in a small (3″ x 5″) sketchbook with a sharpie marker and a small black gel pen to get the shapes and the composition.  Then he does some larger value studies with three main things in mind:

  1. What is my focus?
  2. What do I want to say?
  3. Paint shapes, think edges.

Antonio told us something Leonardo DaVinci said:  “If a painter doesn’t have a plan, it’s like a sailor without a map or compass.”

Antonio continues doing small paintings until he is ready for his large piece.  At some point he puts his reference photo aside and just works from his studies.  And then he will finally put his studies away and just focus on the painting.  What’s going on in here?  Sometimes Antonio (Tony by the end of the workshop) will only use his studies and put in what he can remember from his time on location.  If he can’t remember it, it obviously didn’t impress him that much, so he doesn’t put it in.

Antonio made sure to impress upon us that our goal was not to slavishly follow a reference photo/study/or even plein air drawing.  It was to really think about what was important to you when you were attracted to the landscape/still-life/portrait.  Tony also stated many times that he is NOT a colorist, but a value painter.  He also has no problem mixing opaque white in with his other watercolors.  (Interestingly, he started out as an oil painter and still mixes his paints with a palette knife.)  He likes the opaque white, he feels it cools the painting down, pushes some areas back and creates atmosphere.

It was a very interesting class and while I didn’t complete any paintings per se, I learned quite a lot.

On another note, remember I told you about Isabella, a young artist who comes to our studio sometimes.  She worked on these trees, which I painted a while ago, based on my reference photo of the cherry blossom trees in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.  Here’s hers:

Isabella's cherry blossomsAnd here was mine:


I always look forward to the Cherry Blossoms and check their status here.

Finally, just so you don’t think I’m lying about (laying about? I never understood the difference) eating bon-bons and not doing anything, I started another Galápagos painting of a magnificent (or is it a great) frigate bird and a turtle.  It may be a diptych, or may be two separate paintings.  I don’t know.  I do know I own a scissor.  I can cut that baby right in half if I need to.  I hope I don’t end up cutting it to shreds as I’ve been known to do.

frigate and turtle 4-7-13

Antonio said we shouldn’t throw out our bad paintings.  But keep them, to look back on.

Two last things.  If you’re in NYC:  Some amazing exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum, particularly John Singer Sargent watercolors:  (Did you know he used both transparent and opaque watercolors in his paintings ) And an exhibit by El Anatsui which I absolutely loved.  The American Watercolor Society show is at Salmagundi and my blog friend Frank Eber is in it.

And if you’re in Denver, go see Sense and Sensibility, The Musical.  My sister, the overachiever, is one of the co-producers and it opens this week.  BREAK A LEG, ALICE!  I’m very proud of you.

Cherry Blossoms in Brooklyn, pastel on board, approx. 8″ by 12″

When one is at some fancy art show, what’s the worst thing one can say about an artist or their art?  Sneer and say it’s so derivative”!

Derivative, adjective:  (typically of an artist or work of art) Imitative of the work of another person, and usually disapproved of for that reason.

Well, I recently heard this word: mimesis.  It is the basic theoretical principle in the creation of art. The word is Greek and means “imitation” (though in the sense of “re-presentation” rather than of “copying”). Plato and Aristotle spoke of mimesis as the re-presentation of nature. According to Plato, all artistic creation is a form of imitation: that which really exists (in the “world of ideas”) is a type created by God; the concrete things man perceives in his existence are shadowy representations of this ideal type. Therefore, the painter, the tragedian, and the musician are imitators of an imitation, twice removed from the truth.

So there.

Mimesis not derivative.

Istanbul not Constantinople.


This is for a show called “Art from the Heart”  in a new gallery called the Look Art Gallery. I chose to go back to something I had already done.  The cherry blossoms seen here.  I rarely use pastel because it’s so messy.  So I only use it when I am at my sister’s house.  Thanks Alice!


I’m done with the cherry blossoms painting……or it’s done with me. As far as I’m concerned I finished it today and I’ve already moved on to another project. As always, I see a million things I could have done differently, but overall I’m happy with it. I had to go in at the end with some white gouache and hit a few of the highlights. Usually in watercolor you like the white of the paper to be the white highlights, but sometimes I can’t always get it to be that way so I guess that’s why there’s gouache!


cblossoms.jpg I still remember it being New Year’s Eve, 1969 (I was a mere tot) and my mother and a friend saying “good bye to the sick sixties, hello to the sexy seventies”. (I don’t remember the sixties being sick. I thought they were fun. And I thought the 70’s were fun too. Well, at least what I can remember of them.)  And who can forget the mania when 1999 was going to become the year 2000 and everyone thought the world would end or the utilities would stop or the ATMs would no longer work and no one would have any cash! We survived that too. Now 2007 will soon be over.  I can only hope that 2008 will bring health and happiness and that ever elusive thing called peace.

Here’s a picture of the cherry blossoms from spring of this year. I love cherry blossoms. They make me happy. They are pink and pretty, but they don’t last too long and you always have to remember to enjoy them for the short time they are in bloom. I think I might try and do a watercolor of this photo. It seems like it might be hard, but I will give it a shot. I’m working on another landscape now, and I will try to post it soon.

Happy New Year everyone.

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