Monday, January 16, 2017

January Challenge

This past summer I met artist, Ann Lombardo. Our serendipitous first meeting led to others. We ran into each other at plein air painting sites and art gallery openings. Ann kindly welcomed me into a painting group on Facebook, It is Ann that I have to thank for this month's learning experience. The Facebook group was founded by artist, Aubrey Grainger. Aubrey issued the first challenge: create a painting a day for thirty days. She christened the group: Thirty Squared. The group recently began their third annual challenge.
The group members include a number professional fine artists that I have long admired. Would I just watch from a distance and "like" their works as they posted images or would I take up the challenge as well? I did feel intimidated. These were real artists after all. 
I decided to go for it. It is a nice change from my usual New Year's resolutions. Hopefully by the end of the month I would see improvement. Next question was what materials to use. I am not always able to get to my oil paints. I decided to make it my goal to do some kind of art daily. Even if it were just pencil on paper. We are halfway through the challenge. Here are a few of my efforts.
Georgica Beach
Winsor and Newton Watercolor and pencil
Holbein Drawing Book F3 9.5" x 11"
Cedar Island Light
Winsor and Newton Watercolor and pencil
8" x 5" Cotman Water Colour Pad
My hair appointment came up and I was wondering how I would fit in my daily art challenge.  I've never had the discipline to sit still and try a self portrait. Sitting in a chair in front of a mirror for twenty minutes waiting for my hair color to process was the perfect time to try one. Funny, no one in the hair salon asked me what I was up to.
First Self Portrait
pencil on 5" x 8" Cotman Water Colour Pad
April's Marsh
Turner Artist Water Colour Gouache
Strathmore Watercolor paper cold press 9" x 12"
White Sloop
Turner Artist Water Colour Gouache
Strathmore Watercolor paper cold press 9" x 12"
I've been fortunate to be able to do most of my still life and landscape paintings from life. During this challenge I'm using a combination of inspirations. Georgica Beach and Cedar Point Light are inspired by photographs that I've taken. The White Sloop is inspired by an Irving Ramsey Wiles painting of the same title. The recent beautiful Wolf Moon inspired me to create my first ever imaginary landscape painting. A night where I felt desperately blocked caused me to start doodling with pen and the result was Jazz Bouquet.
Wolf Moon
Turner Artist Water Colour Gouache
Strathmore Watercolor paper cold press 9" x 12"
Jazz Bouquet
Faber-Castell 6 PITT artist pens, brush basic
Strathmore Watercolor paper cold press 9" x 12"
Trying to paint a still life set up using watercolor gouache was a new challenge. Gouache comes out of a tube so it initially has a bit of the same feel as oil paint. Unlike oil paint, once you go dark it is nearly impossible to get the tone lighter. First effort, too dark, second effort, too light but learning. Third effort, oil paint! Ahhhhh. The oil paint seemed so much easier after wrestling with gouache.
Turner Artist Water Colour Gouache
Strathmore Watercolor paper cold press 9" x 12"
Turner Artist Water Colour Gouache
Strathmore Watercolor paper cold press 9" x 12"
oil on canvas
8" x 10"
I finally took down my last still life set up of turkey feather and lady apples. Two of the apples where shriveled to nubs. I didn't let that happen to my most recent still life subjects. The pear was perfectly ripe and quite delicious. To see if I can complete this challenge follow me on Instagram and let me know what you think. Better yet, join me in the challenge and start your thirty days of creativity today.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will

I recently viewed Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will at the Morgan Library. I am embarrassed to confess that I knew very little about Charlotte Brontë' before this visit. I had read Jane Eyre in a condensed format one childhood summer. Thanks to this exhibition, I finally enjoyed the unabridged version and realize what I've been missing all of these years.
by George Richmond
chalk, 1850. © National Portrait Gallery, London. via
Charlotte Brontë's most beloved book, Jane Eyre was published in 1847 under the pseudonym, Currer Bell. The title of the Morgan Library show, "An Independent Will" is taken from the heated scene between Jane and Mr. Rochester where Rochester misleads Jane into thinking he will marry a society belle, but is actually about to propose to her. Charlotte Brontë gives voice to Jane Eyre's independent will, one that surely exemplifies her own.
  • Rochester: "Jane, Be still; don't struggle so, like a wild frantic bird that is rending its own plumage in its desperation."
  • Jane: "I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you."
As you enter the exhibition, Charlotte Brontë greets you, or at least her dress does, and you immediately sense what a tiny powerhouse she must have been. The petite cotton and wool dress indicates that Brontë was under five foot tall. I was impressed by Brontë's accomplished artistry and her unusual ability to write in teeny tiny print. The imagination involved in creating these tiny novelettes correctly predicted Brontë's future as an acclaimed author.
Brontë’s earliest surviving miniature manuscript book with watercolor drawings, ca. 1828.  Story beginning “There once was a little girl and her name was Ane [sic],” 
Brontë Parsonage Museum.
This miniature handmade book is sixteen pages bound in a scrap of decorative wallpaper and illustrated with tiny watercolors. Charlotte was about twelve when she wrote the story for her sister Anne, who was four years younger. It describes a journey that begin's with the child's visit to a splendid castle near London and ends as she tends to her ailing mother "with so much care." Each book is about a thumbs length. Magnifying glasses are provided so that viewers can get a closer look.
The Bridal by Charlotte Brontë
Miniature Manuscript Booklet
14 July - 20 August 1832
Morgan Library Collection
After a year and a half at boarding school, sixteen-year-old Brontë returns home and resumes the bookmaking she had largely abandoned while she was away. She wrote the poem and story above about the courtship and marriage of the marquis of Douro and Marian Hume, two characters in the Glass Town saga. Glass Town was an imaginary kingdom created by the Brontë children.
The Mountain Sparrow, II March 1830 by Charlotte Brontë
Watercolor drawing with gum arabic glaze
Bronte Parsonage Museum
Thirteen-year-old Brontë copied this sparrow from a wood engraving in Bewick's History of British Birds, a profusely illustrated book that lingered in her mind for years. Bewick's is mentioned in Jane Eyre as one of young Jane's favorite books as well.
Brontës George Blackman paintbox
Pencil sketches over a manuscript draft of a poem beginning, "The moon dawned low in a dusky gloaming," as part of a story entitled, "A leaf from an unopened Volume." ca January 1834
English Lady by Charlotte Brontë
Pencil Drawing, 15 October 1834
Blue Convololvulus by Charlotte Brontë
ca. December 1832
Watercolor drawing with gum arabic glaze
The teenage Bronte made a series of flower studies while she was away at school, primarily copying from published engravings.
The Roe Head School by Charlotte Brontë
conté crayon drawing, ca. 1831–32
inscribed by Patrick Brontë By my D[ea]r Daughter Charlotte / P Bronté Min[iste]r of Haworth. Brontë Parsonage Museum
Lycidas by Charlotte Brontë
watercolor drawing, March 4, 1835
copied from a print after painting by Henry Fuseli. 
Brontë Parsonage Museum. via
Brontë created this watercolor after studying and teaching for several years at Roe Head school, where she had received formal instruction in drawing. Charlotte's watercolor interprets a print of the painting by Henry Fuseli of the grieving shepherd in Milton's Elegy, Lycidas.
Portrait of Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë 
by Branwell Brontë (1817–1848)
oil on canvas, ca. 1834. © National Portrait Gallery, London.
It was amazing to see the portrait of the Brontë sisters painted by their brother Branwell. The portrait was painted by Branwell when he was about seventeen and unfinished. It is believed that Branwell painted out a self portrait in the center of the painting. The work was rediscovered in 1914 on top of a farmhouse wardrobe where it had lain folded for almost fifty years. It is on view for the first time in the United States at this exhibition.
Video via the Morgan Library 

I read the complete Jane Eyre after seeing this exhibit. My memory of reading the condensed version as a teen was that it somehow left me wanting more. Foolish girl, I should have realized that the more that I wanted was the entire book! Reading it now produced entirely different feelings. Admiration for a story well told and characters well described. A heroine who passes through trials to achieve her hearts desire; not a fairy tale ending, but a perfect one nonetheless. The writing style is timeless. When Mr. Rochester declares that he knows what is best for Jane and that she should obey, it struck me that it wouldn't take much to transpose this scene to the business boardroom with Jane as a young intern. In my younger days I think I was disappointed that Jane didn't acquiesce to Rochester's original wishes. Now I see that the more fulfilling story is for Jane to find her own power. Charlotte Brontë expresses her character's life viewed through the lens of her own experiences and weaves a wonderful story enhanced by suspense and romance. 

It is often asked, "If you could have a dinner party with anyone in history attending, who would you ask?" I would definitely ask Charlotte Brontë. Her creative mind and indomitable spirit would be amazing to see. 

I will be watching this movie soon.
Jane Eyre Movie | Official Website

Read Brontë's books on the Public Bookshelf here

Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will | Morgan Library

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

First Snow and Favorite Things

Exchanging Holiday Cards is one of my favorite things. "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens." Coming home to brightly colored envelopes with updates and loving wishes from friends and family are things I look forward to each year.  "Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens." Growing up, Dad created our Christmas card. He would ink a drawing of a bird and include a beautifully written Bible verse. The anticipation began sometime after Thanksgiving. What bird would Dad choose?  Would he finish the card on time? Out on my own I chose store bought cards, until after Dad passed away. It was then that I was moved to continue his tradition. My first effort was a card with a drawing of a cardinal. Since then Hugh and I have collaborated on ideas for our card each year.  This year's card carries an image of Hugh's beautiful painting of New York City's Flatiron Building.
Flatiron Snow by Hugh Gallagher
oil on canvas 18" x 24"
There is always something magical about the first snow.
Finding gifts for someone special at Hildreth's"Brown paper packages tied up with string."
"These are a few of my favorite things." at Topiaire
Across the street from the scene of the fire in Sag Harbor stands La Maisonette. Life sometimes throws thinks at you completely the opposite of a Christmas card perfect holiday, but with the love of family, the community of friends and a heart of gratitude we feel the true spirit of the season. Merry Christmas.
"When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling bad. I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so sad." 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Heart of a Village

Early Friday morning, December 16, a fire spread through the heart of our Village. Flames took the Cinema and surrounding buildings.
Village Police Officer Randy Steyert awoke a man sleeping in a second story apartment after he discovered the fire at about 6:10 am. Steyert was stopping at Sag Town Coffee before his shift.
The sleeping apartment resident, Michael Lynch escaped with his life but lost everything else. Michael was only able to put on pants, coat and slippers before running out into the freezing cold. Another resident, Fred Kumwenda also lost everything. In the photo below, the apartments were at the right. Please click on Michael and Fred's names if you can help. Thankfully no one was killed or injured in this fire. They are still determining its cause.
I was at Schiavone's IG picking up groceries on Saturday when I noticed that the older gentleman in front of me was sporting a green "team" jacket embroidered with fire department badges and logo. I asked him if the Sag Harbor Fire Department was all volunteers. He replied, "Yes and I'm the oldest volunteer. I've been a fireman for 65 years." He said he'd worked the big fires of 1977 and 1994. An amazing man! The heart of the village is people like him and each of us who come together to support each other every day. We have such a great community. We will rebuild. 

P.S. Yes, they did salvage the sign!

To Help Rebuild:
P.O. Box 182,
Sag Harbor, NY 11963 with "Historic Building/Fire" in check memo line

To Support our first responders:
Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department
P.O. Box 209 Sag Harbor, NY 11963
Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps
P.O. Box 2725 Sag Harbor, NY 11963
Police Benevolent Association
P.O. Box 1293 Sag Harbor, NY 11963

In the Press:

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Getting the Spirit

I often forget that the Christmas season should be savored.
Like candy, it will melt away before I know it and be gone.
"As you go through this day, look for tiny treasures strategically placed along the way." 
"I lovingly go before you and plant little pleasures to brighten your day."
"Look carefully for them, and pluck them one by one."
"When you reach the end of the day, you will have gathered a lovely bouquet."
"Offer it up to Me with a grateful heart. Receive My peace as you lie down to sleep, with thankful thoughts playing a lullaby in your mind."

Above quoted from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Artist Alliance in Sag Harbor

Visitors to Marine Park are normally drawn to the water view.
Instead, the view towards Bay Street, across from the marina, is memorialized in paint by Russian artist Victor Butko, one of four Russian artists painting in the United States for the first time currently featured at Grenning Gallery.
Marine Park by Victor Butko
oil on canvas 23.75 x 31.5" 
Grenning Gallery's current exhibition, the Russian-American Painting Alliance, showcases weeks of work painting en plein air in Maine and Sag Harbor by a circle of artist friends that originally became acquainted in Russia. The artists produced 15 - 50 paintings each of Maine and Sag Harbor scenes. In order to display this daunting number of works fresh off their easels, Laura Grenning leased additional gallery space on Madison Street to showcase the incredible group of paintings. The Sag Harbor pieces I've chosen to feature here are a small selection of an amazingly fruitful painting collaboration.
In 2013 the Museum of Landscape in Plyos, Russia invited Italy to their annual plein air painting exhibition and cultural exchange. The Russians reached out to the Florence Academy for Italian artists. It turned out that most of the plein air artists at the Florence Academy were Americans. These Americans and a few Italians travelled to Plyos, a town that was made famous by the Russian artist Isaak Levitan, to paint. The artists bonded over painting, bad weather and possibly vodka. With Ben Fenske's urging and guidance, four of the Russian artists travelled here this fall. The culmination of the Russian-American Painting Alliance's first U.S. collaboration is currently on view at Grenning Gallery.
The Civil War Monument, is passed by mostly unremarked at the crossroads of Madison and Main Streets. Oleg Zhuralev captures the scene with fresh perspective in lively colors. 
Sag Harbor, Civil War Monument by Oleg Zhuralev
oil 18" x 24"
Il Cappuccino by Irina Rybakova
oil on canvas 25.5 x 35.5"
Irina Rybakova, Victor Butko, Ben Fenske
Main Street Morning by Tim McGuire
oil on canvas 28 x 24" 
Tim McGuire
photo by Lynn Park Charveriat via
Ben Fenske
Main Street by Ben Fenske
 oil on canvas 31.5 x 25.5" image via
Ben Fenske, Victor Butko, Tim McGuire
Sag Harbor Cinema by Carl Brezke
oil 11 x 14" image via
The Russians
The Americans
Stapleton Kearns
Jesse Powell
Exhibition details here
To read more about the artists's painting trip in Maine and how the original painting trip to Russia came about, see the links below by Leo Mancini-Hresko and Marc Dalessio. Amazing!