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Archive for the ‘Event’ Category

YCAC Student Work 2019

Well, my annual workshop up in Penn Yan has come and gone for the year.

Phew!

I don’t know why but afterwards I inevitably feel like I have been beaten with a sock filled with nickels– bone tired and a little achy. Most likely it’s because running around, talking and painting, in front of a group of people all day is way out of my comfort range. I am not used to that much interaction with people without a break. I think I told the group that  my normal day was actually not far from standing on the lawn of my studio and shaking my fist and hurling profanities at an empty sky.

So having to rein that in and be a civil human who is trying to assist someone takes some effort.

But this year’s group, like every group, has been absolutely wonderful. They were (and are) kind, smart, humorous, generous of spirit and outgoing, though there is a bit of shyness about their painting sometimes. They make my job much easier than I think it is. By that I mean they would probably be just as happy if we accomplished half  of what we do in those two days.

And we do a lot in those 12 or so hours of painting which is remarkable for a group that has many folks who paint maybe once year and have little, if any, experience with painting. Plus, they are learning a pretty idiosyncratic style that requires the touch and understanding of the materials that can only be obtained with long periods of practice and repetition. It can seem pretty frustrating for them at points in the two days. My job, as I see it, is to impart what knowledge I have and to help them in any way to make them feel less frustrated, with the hope that they will try to keep going on their own after the workshop ends.

This year’s painting could have easily brought about a great deal of frustration. It was a fairly complex composition with multiple beds of flowers that required lot of intense painting. It was a whole bunch of work for such a condensed period of time.

And they did absolutely great with task. It took a torrid afternoon session on the second day but their work really popped and each painting made it to a satisfying completion. I am always amazed at how well the work comes out and how, though they share the basic composition and color selections, there is a great deal of individuality to each piece.

I am proud of their work and I certainly hope that they are equally as proud. They should be. If not, they fooled me because they seemed happy enough when they left.

And though I am tired and will no doubt soon regret the decision, I have already agreed to return next year, this time returning to the wet work with inks that marked my earlier work. Sounds lie a lot of work with new materials but most of this year’s attendees are already planning on coming. I have no doubt that it will be fun.

So, thank you to each and every one of you folks who came and worked so hard. Thanks for your efforts and your welcoming spirit. I could not possibly appreciate it any more. Hope you’ll come back again.

And with that, let’s listen to a little Long John Baldry with, of course, Come Back Again.

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If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Only have a minute before I head out to Penn Yan to lead a two day painting workshop. I am a hesitant teacher, not really ever wanting to teach for a number of reasons. It’s hard work, for one thing. I never feel qualified to teach, for another. There are plenty more. But I have done this for the past five years now because of the folks that come and what they claim they get out of it. It can be fun and it’s always gratifying to see them complete a real painting, one beyond they expected from themselves.

But the quote above  from the author from the The Little Prince  reminds me that what I should be imparting goes beyond technical instruction and copying forms. I should be trying to get them to recognize their deepest emotions or strongest reactions and putting them in the paint.

Make them long for the endless immensity of the sea…

Well, got to run. Hopefully, that task is within my reach.

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If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.

–Emil Zatopek

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The words above are from Emil Zatopek, the immortal Czech runner who was called the greatest runner of all time by Runner’s World Magazine.  Zatopek wowed the sports world at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki by winning both the 5000M and 10000M races then entering at the last minute and winning the marathon. It was the first marathon he had ever competed in.

I think he must be correct in his quote. Running is one thing, something most of us can do for short intervals. But committing to and running marathons are a whole different thing. It takes real focus and dedication– a compulsion — to run marathons at a high level. It requires altering your diet to get the most from the least. It takes the willingness to sacrifice the time for training, putting in endless miles running alone. Mastering that solitude is a special skill in itself.

I know that it’s something I will never do which is perhaps why I admire those that take on this hard task.

One person I know who does this is my nephew, Greg. He’s been running most of his life in some form. A little cross country in high school. Running just to stay fit as he aged. Casual stuff for the most part. He trained for and ran his first NYC Marathon in 2005, I think it was. He was in his early thirties at the time and his time was respectable.  In the years since, with some time away from competitive running to be a great dad to three active sons, he has slowly become a committed marathoner, doing all the things I described above.

Fittingly, the work and time he has dedicated have shown up in his results. His times have consistently improved even as he has aged. At age 47, he is consistently in the top 2% of both all runners and his age group. In yesterday’s NYC Marathon, he established a personal best for that race coming in at 2:56:16.

It’s been fun watching Greg’s continuing progress as a runner. Seeing his dedication and hard work rewarded is a lesson that I hope his sons absorb and use in their own lives. I am pleased for Greg and proud of his hard fought efforts.

Great run, Greg. Keep up the good work and looking forward to you establishing a new personal best in Boston in 2020, if that’s in your plans.

Here’s a favorite of mine from the Velvet Underground in honor of your race. It’s, of course, Run, Run, Run.

 

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Game 7 of the World Series last night.

What was there not to like?

For me, the shocking victory by the underdog Washington Nationals over the Houston Astros seemed like the universe was setting things right in a karmic sense.

The Nationals, the oldest team in major league baseball with the youngest superstar in Juan Soto, made an improbable run through the later part of the regular season and into the playoffs, becoming the first team to win all of their World Series victories on their opponent’s home field. That in itself goes against all the odds.

Just like the odds in May from the bookmakers in Las Vegas that had the Nationals chances of winning the series as 1.5%.

Maybe it was a gift from karma for them getting rid of Bryce Harper?

Or maybe it was a nod from karma for the Nationals crowd loudly booing the president* both at his appearance in game 5 and at a viewing party at Nationals Park in the rain last night?

I believe that was just a case of the crowd adhering to the old baseball adage that says: I calls ’em like I sees ’em.

And they got that call right.

Or maybe the karma came in the fact that the pitcher who got the final three outs was the Nationals’ Daniel Hudson and not Robert Osuna, the controversial Astros closer.

Hudson missed an earlier playoff game so that he could be with his wife as she gave birth and Osuna was arrested last year for domestic violence for beating the mother of his child. He was passed over by a number of teams but the Astros picked him up.

But the karma payback might have come in response to the Astros’ earlier defense of one of their executives, Brandon Taubman, who, in the clubhouse after the Astros won the American League pennant, taunted some female reporters, one who had written about domestic violence in sports, with an expletive filled rant that invoked Osuna’s name. The Astros’ management at first defended Taubman and said that it was totally misrepresented in the public accounts. But the Astros were later forced, after several witnesses to the event came forward, that they had been wrong and fired Taubman.

That might have been too late for the Astros– karma was already in motion.

My faith in humanity might not be fully restored yet but my faith in baseball and karma certainly has returned. It makes me believe that karma is now ready to move on from baseball and clear up some other pressing matters.

And it’s coming with a heavy hammer…

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I am prepping for my annual two day workshop next week in Penn Yan at the Arts Center of Yates County. Below is a post I wrote just before the first workshop. I have to say, after the first four years, they have been both a lot of fun and pretty stressful for me. Every year, I am not sure I can do another one. But I keep coming back, mainly because of the kindness of the folks that come, the many laughs we share, the fact that I think they are taking away some small bits of knowledge, and the hope that they getting more than they expected when they signed up for the workshop. So far, I think that has been the case.

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Why does one not hold on to what one has, like the doctors or engineers; once a thing is discovered or invented they retain the knowledge; in these wretched fine arts all is forgotten, and nothing is kept.

Vincent Van Gogh, Letter to his brother Theo 1888

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When I read this quote from Van Gogh, I flashed back to a conversation I had several years back with an artist friend who was urging me to begin filming my painting process. He said that a deer could jump in front of my car going home from the gallery that night and nobody would ever know how my  paintings came about. He thought would be a loss.

That made me think but I still didn’t follow his advice and protected my process, except for small glimpses here and there, for years like an alchemist greedily withholding their found knowledge. It was one of several reasons for my lack of enthusiasm for teaching.

But time normally changes all things. I began to realize that it was a fool’s mission in keeping my process to myself. The  process was simply a tool for expression– it was not the expression.

An artist often has individual expression that transcends subject, material and technique. For example, an artist painting exactly like me– same trees and process– would produce work that would be different than my own. It would have a different soul, if it had one at all. If this artist’s purpose was mere copying, it would not. I can say this because I’ve seen this before.

So, after a bit, I came to understand that showing or teaching my process would not diminish my work in any way. In fact, I began painting the way that I do because I initially wanted to see paintings that I wasn’t seeing anywhere else. Wouldn’t it be great to spur that same thing in others?

To that end, as I announced earlier, I am teaching my first two day workshop,  September 17 & 18 [2015],  at the Arts Center of Yates County in Penn Yan, NY.  It’s a lovely town sitting at the end of scenic Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes, famed for their beautiful vistas and multitude of wineries.

I am pretty excited about this and am starting to put together just how I want to teach this. I don’t want to spend any more energy hiding my process and I plan to fill each of the two days with as much info as I can get across while still making it entertaining and educational. So if you want to spend a couple of late summer days in a beautiful setting learning a form of expression that might spur other good things for you, contact the Arts Center of Yates County.

Hope to see you there.

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I was contacted a short time ago on Facebook from stained glass artist Annie Fatica in Erie, PA. She told me in a few short sentences that she had been a fan of my work, having a small painting obtained at the Kada Gallery in Erie, and that she was inspired by it in her own work. She included a photo of the stained glass piece shown here adding that she had created for a fundraiser for the Democratic Party her aunt was involved with.

I was very pleased to see the work and immediately could see that she had “borrowed” a little from my work. I think it’s a fine piece of work and am honored to have had any part in its inspiration.

I naturally thought the local fundraiser was in or around Erie, where Annie lives. Even though I live 230 miles away, that was fine with me. I am happy to help in any way that gets more people involved in the political process and raise awareness of how they can use it to affect real change.

It turns out that the local fundraiser even more local than I had thought, being right in my own backyard in the form of a Grass Roots Get-Together to benefit our local Chemung County Democratic Committee. I was totally surprised and even more happy that this work would benefit the local party.

Small worlds.

And it takes place tonight, Thursday,from 5:30-8:00 PM at the Hill Top Inn, overlooking the Chemung Valley and the city of Elmira. For my friends not familiar with this area, the Hill Top is but a few miles on the same hillside from where Mark Twain spent many a summer, writing some of his best known works at Quarry Farm.

This piece of work will be part of a silent auction and I am hoping it raises a bunch of cash for the local party. If you’re going tonight, hope this gives you a bit more of a background on this particular work from Annie Fatica. I checked out some of her other work and was totally impressed by her skill and vision. Great stuff! Below is a favorite of mine.

[Because I knew I would not have any time to write this morning, I wrote this post yesterday before. After witnessing the absolute traitorous madness that our president* displayed yesterday at several separate instances, I am more pleased than ever to have this work support a party that stands in stark opposition to him. This must stop now.]

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I breathe a deep sigh of relief this morning.

Another Gallery Talk in the rearview mirror, this one at the Principle Gallery. Many, many thanks to the many folks who came out yesterday to spend an hour with me on perfect end of summer day in the Capital District. It was wonderful to see new faces along with the more familiar faces of the many older friends there who I was able to spend a few minutes catching up with.

This was my 17th Gallery talk there and while it is somewhat easier after all those times, it still is a daunting thing to stand in front of a crowd and talk off the cuff. I wasn’t as smooth yesterday as I had wished and didn’t hit all my intended points. I always fret a bit in the aftermath of these talks about things I have said, worrying that I wasn’t clear or spoke with the wrong attitude for what I was trying to get across.

Or just said something plain dopey.

But I also worry about those things left unsaid. Sometimes there are little anecdotes I mean to tell that get lost in the the brain while I am standing there in front of the group.You would think that in 17 hours of yammering on in these talks over the years, everything would have been said, that everything would have found it way out by now. But I know that’s not the case, that there are still a lot of stories yet to be told and potential secrets to be revealed. I guess I’ll have to start now on getting these things into next year’s Talk which I am aiming to make the best yet.

But this year’s talk ended up as a pretty good talk, even with my own critical take on it. It certainly ended on a high note.

Again, my eternal gratitude to those who came out and especially to the whole staff at the Principle Gallery– my good friends Michele, Clint, Owen, Leigh, Pierre and Josh— for the very hard work done in making it possible. They had a large opening the night before, hosting the 14th annual exhibit of the International Guild of Realism with artists coming from around the country to attend. To turn around in a little over 12 hours and host this event is quite remarkable. I am filled with appreciation and affection for these folks.

So, like I said, mark it down now. Next September– best Gallery Talk ever. Promise.

Here’s this Sunday’s music. I thought I’d show one more piece that went down to the talk yesterday, Eyes of Night, shown above. This song lines up nicely with this piece for me. It’s Field of Diamonds, one of Johnny Cash‘s works from his final years. It was period of great expression and artfulness at the end of his time here on earth. It’s an interesting chapter for an artist with a very long and memorable career.

He saw his career in the future rather than in the past. Wished I had said that yesterday.

Have a good Sunday.

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