Thursday, December 3, 2015

Two Pieces for Abend Gallery Miniatures Show, opening Dec. 4th 2015

Quince Study, oil on metal leaf, 5" x 5"

Puppy Left out in the Rain, oil on panel, 7"x 5" [sold]

I have two small pieces in the upcoming Annual Miniatures Show at Abend Gallery in Denver, CO. The Quince piece is part of a wall of small square silver-ish paintings by gallery artists celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the show. It can be hard for galleries to stay in business in today's art climate and big congratulations to Abend for not only thriving but for being a huge supporter of artists and their artwork. The show opens on Dec. 4th from 6:00 - 9:00, try to be there if you can make it.

Meanwhile, I've been keeping busy with commissions and travel, including visiting museums. A museum visit gives me an excuse to write about paintings that I love and seeing masterworks in person often jolts me into insights about painting that I'm not sure I would experience by seeing them online or in my art books. Also, I always discover artists that I haven't heard of before my visit. It's exciting to learn about new artists who deserve more attention. I'll write about some of them in upcoming posts.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Interview in Artwork Archive's Newsletter, October 2015

I was recently interviewed for Artwork Archive's newsletter (I think there will be another part of this interview coming out later on) - the link to the interview is here. Thank you Alice Whitfield for interviewing me! If you don't subscribe to the newsletter, I recommend that you do so, it's interesting and useful, just like the artwork organizing help offered by Artwork Archive.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Semifinalist in the Outwin Boochiever 2016 Competition, Natl. Portrait Gallery

Several months ago I found out that my painting "Daniel Jabari" was selected as a Semifinalist (top 100) in the National Portrait Gallery's Outwin Boochiever Portrait Competition. The names of the Finalists were announced last week and I'm sorry to report that my painting didn't make the final cut and won't be in the upcoming exhibition.

Best wishes to all the artists who submitted paintings to this competition and of course big congratulations to all the Finalists (which include artists from a variety of media, paintings, photography, sculpture, video, etc.) who will show their work when the exhibit opens next year in Washington, DC! I'm sure the opening will be an exciting event. It's a fantastic achievement to be able to have your work seen in person by so many eyes - and the show will travel, also.

Here's my painting and thanks to all the people who have told me they like it, I really appreciate your support.

"Daniel Jabari", oil 24" x 24"

Monday, August 17, 2015

"Paracosm with an Injured Bird" at Haynes Gallery Show, "Celebrating Art of Women by Women"

Paracosm with an Injured Birdoil, 15" x 24"

This new painting is part of the show "Celebrating Art of Women by Women" at Haynes Gallery in Thomaston, Maine, which opened on August 14th, 2015. (I've got one or two other paintings in the exhibition, including the "Pelican Squadron" painting I wrote about a little while ago on this blog.)

As I explained earlier on this blog, a paracosm is a fantasy world that you create for yourself, often involving characters with powers that often extend far beyond anything the real world provides for us.

I've been very interested in fantasy worlds lately and how they form us as children and shape our expectations, hopes and fears. I think they can be a two edged sword in that they contribute to a private, personal mythology, actively fostering creativity and possibly a deeper spirituality and reverence for nature; but they can also be a retreat and a trap to avoid reality, restrict the interaction with and compassion for other people and strangle the experience of the fullness of life, with all its stresses and heartbreak.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my own childhood fantasy worlds (I had quite a few) usually revolved around me being able to speak with animals and having them obey me.  (I now have an unruly Corgi mixed breed rescue dog and I still have a fantasy that I will someday have him obey me.)

This painting touches upon a couple of themes I find very compelling. The woman is reading a book while resting her head against a reclining bird. I was halfway through this painting before I realized that I've painted something a little like this before, only instead of a bird, I painted a St. Bernard (see this). I wanted to incorporate a sense of caring and protection of beings which are more vulnerable than ourselves, although if I were to actually run into a flicker as big as myself I'm sure I would find it immensely powerful.

I've been interested in the interface between the animal world and the human race. I like the concept that there is knowledge being shared between the book, the woman and the bird. Somehow, touch unites them all.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"Drawing the Portrait Head in Charcoal," Scottsdale Artists School, October 2015

I would love to have you join me in drawing portrait heads in charcoal this fall, a weekly class at Scottsdale Artists School in Scottsdale, Arizona. Working from the live model, we'll work on line, value, measuring, lighting, anatomy (including specifics of the features), planes, edges and all the other qualities that result in drawing a believable head.

The drawing on the bottom is charcoal and Conte pencil; the one on top is vine charcoal and charcoal pencil. Both sketches are short-pose and from life. (This is being taught as a charcoal class but if you want to try some conte, I will let you bring it in.)

The class goes for four weeks, starting on October 6th, Tuesdays from 6:30 - 9:30pm. Meanwhile, I have an oil painting class coming up in January of 2016.

For more information and to sign up, please call SAS at 480.990.1422 or go to the link here.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Haynes Gallery, Thomaston, Maine: "Celebrating Art of Women By Women" Opening August 14th, 2015

"A Read-Aloud for the Pelican Squad," oil on panel, 24" x 48"

I'm excited to show this painting in the upcoming Celebrating Art of Women by Women exhibition and sale at Haynes Gallery in Thomaston, Maine.  The gallery website says:

"For the second half of the summer season, the gallery will present Celebrating Art of Women by Women, a collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures by women artists. It was inspired by Women Painting Women, an art group and website that promotes contemporary women artists[. T]he show will include a dazzling selection of the latest paintings by Ellen Cooper, Stephanie Rew, Alicia Ponzio, and many more. It's an exhibition of provocative, compelling and engaging art that covers the variety of issues that affect women today."

One of the compelling issues women face today is, what should you do when you are surrounded by large pelicans while wearing a pink sleeveless dress? You should read to them, of course.

This painting is in fact one of several that I'm doing that has to do with something called "paracosm". The Wikipedia definition of a paracosm is that of a "detailed fantasy world created inside one's mind." I'm pretty sure that a great many of you reading this had one (or more) fantasy worlds going on when you were young. I also think that most of you have lost them, and it is probably just as well, because it's hard enough to function in one reality, much less in an alternate space with its own laws and situational ethics, especially if you are supposed to be doing something else like, oh, say, drive a large truck on the highway in a blizzard or perform brain surgery during a power outage.

My own childhood fantasy worlds (I had at least 4 or 5) are too boring to relate here to you, sort of like having to listen to other people's dreams. But they often revolved around situations where I was the hero and had various superpowers, including talking to animals and having them understand, love and obey me.

Oh, and by the way, did I mention that in my fantasy worlds I was also indestructible, could foresee the future and save the planet? And, I could fly and travel back and forth in time?

Oh, you too?

I'm so honored and proud to show work in this show with so many talented and widely collected artists. The show opens August 14th, if you're in Maine, please stop by.

Monday, June 8, 2015

"Contemporary Figuration", Abend Gallery, Denver June 12, 2015 - July 3, 2015

I'm really excited to say that my big painting "Goodnight Moon" is featured in the upcoming "Contemporary Figuration" show opening this Friday (June 12, 2015) at Abend Gallery, Denver
"Goodnight Moon", oil, 64" x 48"

I loved working on this large panel. I've done two of them, with a similar theme. (The other one is "Compline", see here.)

Both paintings are about nurturing children, motherhood and loss. It seems to me that nurturing and protecting children is a subject that isn't addressed too often in the art world I find myself in. Is the subject of motherhood itself kitschy? Maybe it's too sentimental a subject, or not edgy enough, or sexy enough, to attract a certain type of collector. Maybe I should have painted her nude, except I really wanted that black and blue shape against the rust background. The darkness of the coat feels so somber to me.

A young woman saw this painting and told me that she thought it was about a young woman leaving childhood behind, boldly going forth into the world as a strong adult. That's a terrific interpretation of the painting and I like it. It's not what I was thinking when I painted it, but that's okay with me. Generally, I'm happy with people liking my work with whatever meaning they want to ascribe to it.

I wanted this painting to feel monumental and have some dignity, despite the floppiness of the stuffed animals. These are toys from my own children, except for the horse on the right, that's from my own childhood. Its heels are plastic and they click together when you wave the horse around. That sound is enough to take me back a few decades. I'm amazed that I still have that toy.

Anyway, the toys are symbols of childhood and children. The hoop is a well-known, often used symbol of the cycle of life, in front of a kind of palimpsest of a lost and found background, suggesting that things can be lost and perhaps found again, the present bears witness to the past, and that the past and future are intertwined inexorably.

Here's a photo of the ad for the show in a recent issue of Southwest Art Magazine:

There are a lot of terrific artists and paintings in the show, I hope you can make it up to Denver for the opening.

[Edit: Fine Art Connoisseur has a story on the Abend Contemporary Figuration show in their most recent newsletter here .]

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Read to Me" - Art Renewal Center Finalist

"Read to Me", oil on panel, 20" tondo

I found out yesterday that my painting was named as an Art Renewal Center Finalist for its most recent competition (2014-2015). You can see a list of who received recognition (and the purchase prizes and cash awards) from the ARC site linked to the right on this blog page. There are a lot of terrific artists working in realism right now and I'm really honored to be on the same page as many of them.

The painting is now over at Brennan Gallery in downtown Scottsdale, try to stop over when you have a chance and take a look.  I love how it looks in its circular frame.

Friday, April 3, 2015

"Portrait of Edouard and Marie-Louise Pailleron" by John Singer Sargent


Portrait of Edouard and Marie-Louise Pailleron, oil 60" x 69" by John Singer Sargent (1881)

This painting is currently at the National Portrait Gallery in London, as part of the Sargent show "Portraits of Artists and Friends". It's up until May 25, 2015 in London and then it travels to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (opening June 30th, 2015).  90 of Sargent's works are being displayed; many are usually in private or out-of-the-way locations, so it's very special to see a grouping like this.

I was lucky enough to see the show with my artist friend Ilaria Rosselli del Turco (click on her link to the right of the blog text). Ilaria is a wonderful companion for general museum adventures. She sees paintings in a somewhat different way than I do and it's a treat to bounce ideas off such an intelligent and talented person.

I should write about the entire Sargent show but since it takes me forever to write a blogpost these days, I think I will just focus on this painting, which I was particularly eager to see. It's usually in Boise, Idaho, I believe. (Another big draw for me was Sargent's Portrait of Dr. Pozzi. The handsome doctor deserves his own blog post, maybe I will get to that one of these days.)

Marie-Louise was 11, Edouard was 16, and John Singer Sargent was 25 years old the year this painting was created. The painting was created over a stretch of several months; Marie-Louise said later that she remembered eighty-three sittings. (I've heard various figures for the sittings, but, still...!) As you might imagine, the sessions didn't always go smoothly. Marie-Louise later wrote that she and her brother had argued with the artist about such matters as what clothing to wear and the way her hair was to be arranged.

I love this painting for so many reasons. That fiery red background and the sharp dark silouhette of the boy's suit are theatrical and dramatic. The complexity of the whites and creamy halftones in the dress are a triumph of skill. The rich orientalism of the Persian carpet adds a sense of mystery and luxury. Marie-Louise's arched hand is marvelously painted and manages to be graceful and childish at the same time. I stared at it at the Museum for a long time. The bracelet is wonderfully impastoed, set in carefully and confidently over the softly brushed flesh of the wrist.

Their expressions are restrained and ambiguous. They're not exactly happy to be sitting there, and they look like they might say something rude to that young painter who was taking forever to paint them, though I'll bet children were a little better behaved back then, so they bit their tongues. Edouard seems to be thinking especially dark thoughts, probably about all the better things he had to do with his time.

Think about how very different this painting is from a portrait of two siblings that might have been painted today by any number of professional painters. Maybe this is just an aspect of being American, or maybe it's an aspect of growing up in the 19th century.  American portrait painters today almost always portray relentlessly cheery, sunny and upbeat American children.  I don't know whether it's because the American clients prefer cheery children, or whether the artists themselves are cheery, or we are all eating too much sugar, but that does seem to be the norm. These two are solemn and serious.

The thing that strikes me when I see Sargent's paintings in person - in photos also, but more strongly in person - is his strong sense of design and composition. I've converted the photo of the painting to black and white and then posterized it to a few values so that you can get a sense of what I'm thinking.

Sargent has done things like value massing and making those masses unequally sized. And can you see that jagged diagonal that runs left to right? I got very excited about this at the museum. I did a crude sketch below to show you (red line). Once I saw left to right wave movement in this painting, I started seeing it in some other Sargent paintings, too. It's not only a way to connect two shapes in a way that's subtle; it's also a way to include the energy of the diagonal with the rather static shapes of the children.

There's just much to learn from a Sargent in addition to the way he puts down paint.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Contemporary Children's Portraits Show: Portraits Inc. New York City, Opening Reception Thurs. Apr. 9th, 2015 from 6 - 8:00pm

"Tessa with a Doll and Strawberry" oil, 36" x 24"

"Tessa with a Doll and Strawberry" (detail of above)

"Syd" oil, 20" x 16"

I'm excited to say that I'll have two of my children's portraits at the upcoming show "Our Great Hope: Contemporary Children's Portraits" at Portraits Inc. New York's new location, 6 East 92nd Street NYC.

Michael Gormley is the Curator for the show and I'm sure he has selected an assortment of wonderful paintings. I'm so flattered that he chose two of my pieces and I can't wait to see what is on the walls!

I painted my own children every couple of years when they were younger. I do so wish I had painted them more often, and, as long as I'm wishing, I wish that I had been a better painter when I painted them. Meanwhile, I wish my own parents had hired a portrait painter for my siblings and me when we were little. It would have been out of the question financially but it would have been a nice gift for my children now, assuming they would have the wall space after hanging all the paintings of themselves that I've done over the years.

Most of all, though, I wish my own parents would have been painted when they were children, how I would love to have those to pass down!

A well painted portrait becomes a presence in a home and keeps a person's life story alive for future generations.

Opening reception is Thursday April 9th from 6 to 8:00pm and the show runs through May 23rd, 2015. Hope you can make it.

By the way, I'm now on Instagram; please follow me! @lindatraceybrandon  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Artist to Watch" in Southwest Art Magazine March 2015 issue

I'm so honored to be an "Artist to Watch" in the upcoming March 2015 issue of Southwest Art Magazine. Many thanks to the magazine's Senior Editor Bonnie Gangelhoff for selecting me to showcase in the magazine and letting me talk about my work!

By the way, "Books, Birds and Sky," the painting featured on the left side of the page, is  at Abend Gallery  in Denver, which was accidentally omitted in the article as a gallery which represents my work.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ring in the New Year (and some New Art)

I hope you had a wonderful 2014 and you're now filled with high hopes and optimism for 2015. My own year was a good one, with the usual room for improvement, including posting on my blog.  I've been working hard, though, going in a couple of new directions and following some passions.

Meanwhile,  I've got still life paintings in two gallery shows.

The first painting is of some apples grown on a ranch near Prescott, Arizona - yes, there are apples growing in Arizona.

The ongoing gallery show is titled "A Treasure Trove of Real Art" at Haynes Gallery and runs for another couple of weeks into the New Year.

"Six Apples on a Scratched Surface", oil 12" x 24"

Available at Haynes Gallery in Nashville, TN

"Gardenias on a Blue Table", oil 9" x 6"

This is another of my gardenia series. It's in a Holiday Miniatures Show, available at Abend Gallery in Denver, CO.