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Posts Tagged ‘Georgia O’Keefe’

Art on Tap Class at Claremont Craft Ales

Art on Tap Class at Claremont Craft Ales

Sometimes your work physically goes to far distant places, such as those paintings that have went to embassies in Nepal, Uganda and Kuwait that  I wrote about yesterday.  But sometimes your work travels in ways that you can’t predict.

An online acquaintance forwarded the above image to me yesterday.  It was a strange sensation, seeing this mass of what looked to be 25 of my paintings looking out at me.  It took me a few seconds to figure out that I was looking at an art class that had reproduced one of my paintings.

Doing a little research, I discovered that this was an event called Art on Tap that is operated by Otterspace Arts in Claremont, California, east of Los Angeles.  Every several weeks, they hold this event at a local microbrewery, Claremont Craft Ales, where all attendees are instructed in how to paint works that have been selected by online voting.  They have recently chosen to make copies of paintings from Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe, Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet.  And me.

Even though I am pretty sure most of those in attendance had never heard of me or my work  before, I was still really flattered by this.  I know that this has taken place on a more local level, at kids classes in my area and one for adults at an Arts Council in the Finger Lakes, but it was gratifying to see my work’s imagery moving outward in this way.  I recognized at an early stage in this journey that creating images that are instantly recognizable as yours is one of the most important , and most difficult, steps in establishing yourself as an artist.  And seeing this photo made me think I was almost there.

I also liked their Facebook ads for the event.  I would like to think that there is a Sasquatch somewhere enjoying my work.  At the bottom is the original image.  I hope they enjoyed painting this painting and hope that it hangs with pride in their homes.

Claremont CA Art on Tap Otterspace adClaremont Original GC Myers Image

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I was looking through a book of American Expressionist paintings and came across this piece that completely pulled me in.  It was a scene of Greenwich Village in the 1940’s painted in spectacular fashion by Beauford Delaney, a name with which I wasn’t too familiar.  Looking at it, there was so much going on in this quiet street scene that it was like a luscious meal set before me and I simply hovered over it, savoring it  before I dug in.  I didn’t know where to start.

The colors are big and bold with a blue night sky that brought Van Gogh to mind and a moon that hangs in a crescent  that floats almost sweetly over the near empty street.  It is rough and expressionistic yet elegant and complex in the ways the colors play off one another.  It is quiet yet hardly timid.  It is what it is, a street scene, but its abstracted manner gives it other dimensions and depths.

Just about everything I want in a painting.

Like I said, I didn’t know much about Beauford Delaney, to my embarrassment.  He’s shown here in a 1940 portrait done by Georgia O’keefe, which I thought was pretty interesting as well.  Born in 1901 in Knoxville, Tennessee, he and his brother, Joseph, were both prominent artists and part of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930’s.  Beauford never achieved the sort of recognition here that his work deserved and he struggled mightily until finally leaving the States in the early 1950’s, settling in Paris where he lived the rest of his life, dying in 1979.  There is an interesting short  bio, A Tale of Two Brothers by Jack Neely, online for those who seek to know a bit more about the man.

I know I will be looking for more of his work.

 

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Georgia O'Keefe Ram's HeadOne of the first painters to really draw me into their work was Georgia O’Keefe.  Her colors were vibrant and crisp.  Her use of organic forms and the beauty of the curves and arcs she employed was impeccable.  Her compositions were unique and out of the box, often bisecting the picture frame in an unorthodox manner.okeefe-cow-skull

Here images were very iconographic– cow skulls, driftwood, poppies that filled the picture frame in an abstract fashion and on and on.  Her paintings were not narratives nor  were they snapshots of a particular  time.  There was an ethereal, timeless quality that makes them always feel contemporary, fresh and vital

There was also the sense of stillness and spirit that I now hope for in my own work.  Again, there is a timelessness in the work that goes beyond the moment when she created the piece.

okeefe-blue-green-musicI was also drawn to the different styles of her work- her modernist cityscapes, her abstract paintings of flowing color and form and her floral.  Her hand was always obvious in the work.   Every piece in every style has a sense of being in the present. 

There are so many elements in her work that I have absorbed over the years and incorporated in my own work that I could never fully express the appreciation and gratitude I have  for her career.

As much as I have always been drawn to her work and affected by it, there is one drawback that I first discovered a number of years ago.  I had discovered her work in books and prints, never seeing them in person.  When I first saw a show of her work, while being stunned to see the imagery up close, I was less than excited by the surfaces of her paintings.  There was a great deal of flatness and they lacked the visual oomph of the printed page.  The surfaces had no excitement of their own.okeeffe-music-pink-and-blue-ii-1919

I realize this is my own subjective feeling on the work and that many great paintings have this same lack of surface excitement.  For example, I feel the same way about the work of Joan Miro even though I am  knocked out and excited by his work.  This feeling of mine does not in amy way take away from the greatness of the work.  I just realized that while I wanted to create the same type of graphic excitement of these artists, I also wanted to create something that  had a tactile, textural effect when seen up close and in person.  To that end, I think  my work always shows better in person than in print or on a computer screen.okeefe-karsh-photo

But that doesn’t really matter today.  I just want to show the icons and forms of Georgia O’Keefe and hopefully it will spark something in someone else and they will create their own forms, their own vocabulary of imagery.  

Their own world…

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