The landscape calls to me

January 25, 2015 at 5:16 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,
This I Sing For The Setting Sun, by Joan Desmond, 36" x 48", acrylic on canvas

©Joan Desmond, This I Sing For The Setting Sun. Acrylic on canvas, 36″ x 48″.

Recently I was reminded of a Miles Davis quote. “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.” It pretty much sums up how I’ve learned to approach landscape painting (and drumming). To paint what’s not there opens up vast potential in the imagination and on the canvas.

My relationship to my outdoor environment, my landscape, is ongoing, direct. Early, most mornings, be-robed, I find myself outside, with fingers curled around a hot cup of something as Blinky Cat and I peruse the house perimeter. First, with groggy, slitted eyes, I scan across creek and up mountain for predator movement: coyote, bobcat, or a peaceful deer. Blinky immediately sniffs out some night intruder on plant and house corners. Next, there’s a horizon check. Do clouds over the northern mountains herald strong afternoon wind? At this hour pine needles soft shuffle in a light breeze. We saunter on. Green wildflower sprouts are evident, although the cheek-felt January chill keeps most scents locked in the soil. I notice how angled light sweeps over rock face, tree bark, and pine branch. Each becomes important for a second, divulging new information, something not considered before, a color revealed, perhaps, or softness, sharpness, a rhythm. These images shift with the rapidly rising sun. Finally, considering it all, and with a deep inhale of the day to come, we return to the house, curiosity sated.

Similarly, I may step outside in the early evening, again with the intent of appreciating the scene. Often I’ll bring my 22” frame drum, and close my day by singing into it, sending the resonance into the sky, the wind, and the colors.

Fish-Go-‘Round: Art from Trash

February 27, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

©2012, Joan Desmond, Fish-Go-‘Round. assemblage.

Fish are patterns, stripes, dots, chroma, shimmer, and flashing movement-darting singly, or en masse. Fish fascinate me and are recurring subject matter, so the idea of “fish mobile” came readily when thinking of something kinetic.

©2012, Joan Desmond, Fish-Go-‘Round-detail.

Although this piece doesn’t go ‘round & ‘round, the fish shapes bob and sway easily with a puff of breath or nearby vibration. Created from wood scraps, wood dowel, a kitchen appliance part, colored bubble wrap, button, cardboard, clothing catalogs, non toxic markers, and fishing line.

Birds anyone? Organic shapes like Alexander Calder used? Leaves perhaps, geometrics…what else may dangle free in a mobile?

Shiny, Shiny Night: art from trash

February 26, 2012 at 10:15 am | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Shiny, Shiny Night, mixed media by Joan Desmond 2012

For the past week I’ve been imagining again what to do with discards, trash, and used-up items, how they may serve as art material. The prompt was a display to be set up at Woodrow Wallace School to drum up interest for the Youth Recycled Art Show in March, part of the Living Green Festival.

It’s an easy reach to use magazines and paper goods in collage, but what to do with yogurt containers, the numerous caps and lids, the plastics, so many plastics, the Styrofoam (polystyrene foam actually, made from petroleum, why is that still next to our food?), on and on. All I had to do was be particularly conscious of the man-made materials that passed through my hands each day. Much of it gets re-cycled, re-used, and re-purposed but it’s also an endless, free resource for upcycling into art (gottta love new words). The projects needed to be doable for kids.

Here’s the first one. Built on the paperboard/cardboard backing from an empty 9”x12” drawing pad, it uses: colored bubble wrap; foil insulated bubble wrap; foil wrap from a gift plant; foam scraps; take-out container Styrofoam; those trusty magazine cuttings, and glue. It was entirely too much fun to create.

Tracing Creative Influences.

March 5, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Posted in Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

“Writing on the wall is not allowed here,” said the museum attendant as he walked toward me. “Ahh, but I’m not writing on the wall,” was my response. “ I’m writing on a piece of paper on top of a brochure on top of a catalog. It’s not going through to the wall at all.” “Yes, personally I don’t care, but it’s still not permitted” he replied.

“Ok! Got it. Sorry!”

That was earlier this week as I was taking some notes on a sculpture titled  DYBY, by Magdalena Abakanowicz. It’s part of the permanent collection at Weatherspoon Art Museum at The University of North Carolina in Greensboro. I’d forgotten how much I admire her work, until, turning a corner; I saw it at the end of a hallway in front of a window. Abakanowicz’s style is immediately recognizable to me, familiar. The strength of her work always wrenches my gut. The headless, life-size or larger figures she creates never fail to spark a mental/emotional, questioning inner dialog about our human existence.

What Abakanowicz verbalizes about art and imagination is also notable. Here’s the last paragraph as written on the museum wall’s description plaque next to DYBY.

Art does not solve problems but makes us aware of their existence. It opens our eyes to see and our brains to imagine. To have imagination and to be aware of it means to benefit from possessing an inner richness and endless flood of images. It means to see the world in its entirety, since the point of images is to show all that which escapes conceptualization. –M. Abakanowicz

Interestingly, if someone asked me to list artistic influences, her name would not immediately come to mind. It took seeing her work again to remind me that if my figurative paintings speak  honestly, it’s partly due to experiencing her work.

Come to think of it, how do people come up with those “artists who have influenced me” lists so quickly?  I’d have to think long and hard to put one together. In a way, everything we admire, everything that affects us, leaves an imprint on some internal level.

 
The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web. -Pablo Picasso

Borrowing and Burrowing

May 30, 2008 at 10:13 am | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas, Mask Collage Series | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Amethyst Rat

Did you ever read the children’s story series about The Borrowers, the tiny people that lived under the floorboards and freely took what they could from “human beans”? In grade school I eagerly read Mary Norton’s fantastic tales.

We‘ve all had small household items mysteriously disappear. It’s a lovely imaginative plunge to consider a world of minuscule people carrying off safety pins, socks, buttons, and usefully recycling them on their scale, glove fingers into pantaloons for instance. Norton, a British author died last week and as far as I know, didn’t reveal her muse for “the borrowing” story.

I’m speculating that her inspiration could easily have been the antics of pack rats. One has been scurrying through the garage and pump-house this past year. Can’t leave anything out overnight. Every portable item is fair game. Nails, bolts, pencils, are carted off and later found piled up behind a toolbox, in a flowerpot, or buried in a nest. The foot ruler must have been a challenge as it only made it to the floor, but the bit of Velcro, store receipt, and plumber’s tape roll carried to the hoard just fine.

That’s how Amethyst Rat scampered into the mask story.

Where Has All The Cerulean Gone?

May 5, 2008 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Art Studio, Considering Ideas, Mask Collage Series | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

Cyanea Monkey

Someone is monkeying with the color of the sky. The sky here used to be intense blue at times, bright cerulean, straight out of the paint tube blue. That’s rare these days. Today it is a subdued light blue, grayish blue in the South East, evidence of the wildfires burning in Southern California. Looking toward the West there’s a definite yellow tinge to the blue where the air comes up from the populated central valley. There’s some green in it where it sits on the mountains.

We see color because of the light and its various qualities, reflections, refractions, and affected by weather conditions, seasons, etc. We know that the appearance of color changes throughout the day as the light changes, a concept fully explored in the work of the French Impressionist painters, particularly by Claude Monet. At the same time colors appear differently depending on where you are in the world.

I’ve been wondering if that will also apply to various periods in history. Would the Impressionists find that the colors in the south of France look the same today as they did in the late 19th century? Amid all of the discussion, through hard facts and figures, of the human impact on the world, of global warming, and climate change, what I’ve noticed here, is that the blues in the sky are changing.

 

while painting in Bordighera, Italy

I haven’t yet managed to capture the colour of this landscape; there are moments when I’m appalled at the colours I’m having to use, I’m afraid what I’m doing is just dreadful and yet I really am understating it; the light is simply terrifying. -Claude Monet

Imagination Embraces The World

April 1, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Posted in Considering Ideas | Leave a comment
Tags: ,

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” 

This is a popular quote. It’s on one of my favorite flaunting art t-shirts. However, the extended quote reads.  

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” –Albert Einstein.1   

So what did he mean by that? Coming from a scientist who has brought forth much new knowledge it seems contradictory until you meditate on it a bit.

Knowledge= facts, information, data, the lowdown, what we consider to be concrete measurable stuff. Some think it is truth.

Imagination= vision, inspiration, invention, passion, curiosity, daydreams, open-ended ideas that are immeasurable.

Einstein understood that imagination is about possibilities. Knowledge is what we know in the here and now, it may be faulty and limited. Think back a few hundred years, or even in this century, as to what was known and considered to be “the truth”. Our curiosity about possibilities leads to new knowledge. The ability of the human brain to imagine is what keeps us moving forward.

 1. from  “What Life Means to Einstein : An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck” in The Saturday Evening Post (26 October 1929)

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: