I have always been passionate about art. Unfortunately, when the almighty was handing out gifts, my bag was light on artistic talent but heavy on the creative writing side. No matter, I can still appreciate what I have and what I see.
And when an artist creates something exceptional from something very ordinary or even ugly, it is clear to me that beauty is all around us just waiting for us to see it with a fresh perspective.
Ordinary items, re-purposed, become works of art, simply by combining them, changes the shape, size and scale of the original singular item into something new. The way a sculpture catches the light, the way it calls your eye to move around it, is all part of the exchange between artist and viewer.
Color, perspective, shadow and light, these elements play and dance around objects and human subjects, creating a scene which only lasts a second. Blink and you will miss it.
On the shoreline, waves take fractured tile bits, turning them until the edges are soft and smooth as stone. Found again by a beach comber who crafts them into stunning mosaics, tabletops and wall designs.
A sunrise, a flower, a mountain range, it is easy to see the beauty nature provides. Man has to work a little harder to compete, but I think we do just fine. With imagination, talent, gifts, resources, and place combined we create!
As I’m running in circles this week trying to prepare for my second of three book fairs tomorrow at the Calvert library in Prince Frederick, Maryland, events.html this will be brief! It’s a quick photo essay of my more artistic pictures. I’ve also begun adding cute sayings to some curious photos and some quiz photo’s about Secret Agent of God on my Facebook page. If you are into that sort of thing feel free to Like it. Here’s a preview of some of my photo’s, which total over 5,000. I had to think of something to do with them, didn’t I?
A good photo should elicit some feeling in the viewer, don’t you think? I often wish my eyes could be the camera. I don’t really care to see the world through the lens of a device. It takes something away from the image somehow.
I think what makes a person respond to a photo has as much to with the person as it does the photograph. Our personal view of the world, our experiences, our mood are all factors in how we view what we view.
Each of these photos could be a story prompt. This is what I think when I look at pictures. A single snapshot in time is only part if the story. What else is there? What if? What other? Who was there and what were they doing? Then what happened? Where were they going and why? Who did they meet? Were they running away from something or someone? Or running to something or someone?
Portrait Artist Melissa Marie Haney has a special gift for capturing the spirit of her subjects. The evidence is in the eyes, because after all “the eye is the window of the soul,” ─Hiram Powers, American sculptor (1805 – 1873)
“Art was an outlet for all the feelings that I could not express vocally,” Melissa says. “As I have aged, so has my Art. I am self-taught, so I tend to just go with my instincts and ‘eye’ (about) what I think looks good and what works. Hopefully, others will like what I do and get some enjoyment from it.”
It is easy to see how Melissa’s subjects capture her interest and her heart.
When I went looking for artists to interview, I did not need to look further than my circle of friends. I have known Melissa since our school days but only discovered her artistic talents when we became Facebook friends.
Melissa began drawing when she was a child. A shy, young girl, Melissa recalls, “animals were my refuge. Ponies, dogs, cats, just about any animal was my friend. I still have pictures I drew as a child. I have always had animals of some kind. Animals touch everyone at some level.”
Using a range of mediums,”acrylics, oils, watercolors, and mixed medium are all options,” she says, “it all depends on the subject and what (fascinates me) at the time. I tend to just go with my feelings on which medium will work with the subject.”
“Painting is a cathartic ritual for me. It is a stress relief, and a quiet peace from all the chaos. When I am painting, I tune everything else out, and (am) in my own little world for a time.” ─Melissa Haney
Although Melissa occasionally sells her painting at fairs and markets in the Mid-West, most of her clients come via word of mouth. If you would like more information on her commissioned portraits, please follow the link to her Facebook page. Melissa’s Facebook Artist Page
If you have ever dreamed of becoming an artist, it’s time to stop dreaming and start doing. Creating art is a wonderful hobby even if it never consumes your life, it can enhance your daily existence.
As a former account executive, turned stay-at-home mom, turned writer, I know all about second acts and third acts. Actually, I’m still juggling all three, but this is the female dilemma. We pick up new jobs but never put any down.
A woman with a gift for juggling:
As I often ‘struggle with the juggle’ and drop the pins more often than I care to admit, I am forever in awe of my girlfriends who make ‘doing it all’ look so effortless, like my dear friend, Lisa Deiranieh. Lisa, a native of Southern California often says “God put us on opposite sides of the country because he feared what would happen if we ever got together.” Well, God must have averted his eyes long enough for us to simultaneously end up in Naples, Italy, at least for a spell. We had some good times, struggling to speak Italian (only me!) and some amazing day trip adventures where we literally stuck a pin in the map and went off in search of what was there.
Heading home with heavy heart:
I caught Lisa in the process of packing out to leave Naples, but she was gracious enough to fit in a quick interview first. Lisa, a Senior Staff Sonographer at US Navy Hospital Naples, Italy and full-time wife and mother of two is also an artist. Three years ago, Lisa’s husband, Dave, gave her the gift of lifetime, painting lessons with “Gigi”, Luigi Wanvestraut, a well-known Neapolitan artist.
The lessons were only supposed to last a few weeks, but as we spoke, Lisa was fixing dinner and preparing to go paint at the studio, still under Gigi’s guidance. Over the past three years Lisa has painted almost a dozen paintings. Which is amazing considering each one takes between thirty and forty hours to create. She paints with oil, which requires a longer curing time and a process involving layers of paint often applied with a spatula. Planning out your design is necessary but the result is a three-dimensional work of art.
“I want to learn the physical properties of how to make something look real,” Lisa says. Although very different from her day job, Lisa’s background working with patients in the hospital and sonographic imagery may help her to see things differently and in way that she is able to translate beautifully onto the canvas.
“I think…how can I do this?” she says. Learning Gigi’s painting technique, Lisa studies how objects appear in space as circles or squares as well as the spaces around them. “It begins with a sketch and then you layer in, dark and light and then hone in on your subject,” she says.
As if living in Italy is not inspiration enough! Next to painting, Lisa, Dave and their two children have traveled as much and as often as possible throughout Europe and the Middle East. Inspired by a poster she saw in Ronda, Spain, Lisa created this painting of a bull and bullfighter.
She especially admires artists from the 1930’s and the work of the Italian masters seen at the Capodimonte Museum. Lisa’s other passions are cooking and wine! She has taken cooking classes in Tuscany with friends on multiple occasions and loves to share what she has learned.
Together we enjoyed many meals and glasses of exceptional Italian wine. I look forward to the return of family Deiranieh, when we will at least be on the same continent and in a slightly nearer timezone.
At present Lisa’s artwork is not for sale, but she is considering selling prints or giclées, a process of digitally scanning original paintings and printing them onto canvas. “I can’t sell them. I’m too attached to them,” Lisa says. “They’re my babies!”
I thank you for reading and wish you all the best of luck in discovering your own second acts!
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Emilee Williams, a very intriguing graphite artist, born in Guatemala, and now living in Maryland.
An artists resume:
Emilee’s artwork has appeared at the Annapolis Mall, the Anne Arundel County Library, at Barnes & Noble and at the Salem Avery House Museum in Shady Side Maryland, where Emilee says she finds inspiration. She also contributed to a snowflake project for the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.
Emilee was most excited about her very first gallery showing at “Wimsey Cove Maps & Art” located in downtown Annapolis, Maryland. Her work will be on display at “Wimsey Cove” until the end of May. Although this is her first gallery art show, it is surely only the beginning of a long career.
When I called to speak to Emilee, she was working on her homework, but not for college, not yet, and not for some time. Emilee is eleven years old, but she already knows what she wants to be when she grows up. I would say she has had a wonderful head start.
Inspiration and motivation:
Emilee began drawing when she was about three years old. When I asked where she finds her inspiration, she mentioned books and movies.
“I had a cat phase last year,” Emilee said, resulting from her love of “The Warriors”, a series of books by author, Erin Hunter.
Emilee’s current fascination is with dragons, in particular “Night Fury Dragons”, due to her love of the film “How to Train Your Dragon.” She was describing a black and white drawing of a “Night Fury” dragon she has on her bedroom wall, where she colored the eyes green and the gums pink, “because he was smiling.”
Early exposure to the arts:
Along with the encouragement and guidance of her parents, Emilee has benefited through knowing and working with artistic friends and neighbors within the community: Elizabeth Ramirez, the owner of Wimsey Cove Maps and Art, Mrs. Sheckels, Emilee’s art teacher from Shady Side Elementary School, and family friends who belong to the Muddy Creek Art Guild.
Emilee’s preferred medium is Graphite, drawings made with a graphite pencil, which she sometimes embellishes with colored pencil. Although, her large format acrylic painting, “Tiger Stream”, which she completed at a summer art camp, is attracting some serious attention.
I asked Emilee what she would say to young artists like herself who wish to follow their passion. “Go with your gut,” she said. “Draw what you want to draw. Don’t listen to anybody else. Just do your own thing.”
Currently planning my summer entertainment, learning and adventuring with a ten and a twelve-year-old in tow, I set out to research Contemporary Art Galleries and museums in Washington, DC that we might like to wander through.
After years of field trips and family jaunts, we have seen all the ‘hot spots’ and major DC sites multiple times and could likely take turns as docents, particularly of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. My goal this summer is to see what we haven’t and to introduce my two young summer students to more of the expansive world of art.
When we left DC to live in Europe for three years, I thought: “Wait! We didn’t get to see all that we needed to see!”
But then we were fortunate to spend many afternoons walking miles around Italian cities like Naples, Rome, Florence, and Assisi. We were blessed to trot around Munich, Dublin, Edinburgh, London and Paris and saw some of the most famous paintings and sculptures in the world.
Now that we have been back for two years, I’m ashamed to admit we have seen far less of our capitol city. What I found through my research could easily take a lifetime of summers to cover so we have some catching up to do.
Better to take this project on one museum or gallery at a time.
Fourteenth street seemed like a good place to begin. A cluster of galleries appear on the map search like grapes on the vine. What I found was fourteenth street is a lively rue of galleries, wine bars, coffee houses and shopping all in one neat place. A spot to travel in the evening with an adult companion, like my husband, not with my two young art enthusiasts.
Numerous searches brought me round again and again to the Corcoran Gallery of Art on 500 Seventeenth Street NW. I am encouraged to see that they offer camp activities for the young ones as well as adult classes. Who knows, maybe there is an artist in me yet. This museum has shot to the top of my to do list. http://www.corcoran.org/youth-family and right now is featuring “emerging” artists. What fun!
Finding two of my most favorite things in one place, wine and art, I ventured out with my family to the Wine and Arts Festival in Sunderland, Maryland this past mother’s day weekend. The festival took place at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Sunderland, Maryland.
For a $15 fee, I was able to buy a souvenir wine glass etched for the occasion and sample wines from eight local wineries. Luckily for me, I had a designated driver!
Bobbing along the Southern Maryland wine trail has long been on my list of things to do. This was even better, less travel involved on my part and I was able to stroll the artists booths with wine in hand.
The Wineries present were: Cove Point Winery, Friday’s Creek Winery, Perigeaux Vineyard & Winery, Port of Leonardtown Winery, Romano Vineyard & Winery, Running Hare Vineyard, Slack Winery and Solomon’s Island Winery.
Artists, and crafters, sold their creations along side of the vintner’s with lovely background music supplied by five local bands, featuring Big Band, Celtic, Blues and Jazz. This year marked the seventh annual festival organized by All Saints Episcopal Church. If you live in southern Maryland and you missed it, mark your calendar for next year. But fear not, the festival season has only just begun!
Among the arts and crafts available,a few of my favorites were: Artist Larry Ringgold who makes one of a kind driftwood art sculptures, available at http://www.turtlepointdriftwood.com
Another fave was the spectacular nature imagery by retired teacher, Suzanne Cassidy, from her many years of teaching science. Suzanne and her husband, William have transferred the photographs on to coasters, mouse pads, tile installations and more. Visit their site at: http://www.teacherswithcameras.com/ for their full story and to see where else you can find them this summer.
Just when I thought I had reached the pinnacle of fun, I discovered my third favorite thing…CHOCOLATE!
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” ─Edgar Degas
Do artists truly have the ability to see things differently than the rest of us? If we could take a sneak-peak inside the mind of an artist, what might we find? Ever evolving, scientific technology offers some new insights via studies in eye movement and brain scans.
In a study published by Stine Vogt, Ph. D, and Svein Magnussen, Professor at the University of Oslo, Norway, researcher’s came to some fascinating conclusions.
In summary, their study of “eye movement patterns” including eighteen participants, nine artists and nine “artistically untrained” who were all shown the same 16 pictures, revealed differences in “recall memory” and viewing preferences. Vogt and Magnussen concluded that the non-artists preferred the pictures of “objects and human features”, while the artists focused on those of a more abstract nature. In addition, the artists out-scored their non-artistic counterparts in their ability to remember more features within the pictures they viewed., (Expertise in pictorial perception: eye-movement patterns and visual memory in artists and laymenpublished in Perception Vol. 36(1) pps. 91 – 100).
Perhaps artists are correct to say: “I was born this way?” ─Lady Gaga
Even for the artistically gifted, how much of a role does training play? Regardless of the medium, raw talent will only get the artist so far. Like any other human skill, it seems logical that with practice, training, education, and experience, talent may become expert ability.
In a different study, published by Rebecca Chamberlain, PhD Student, UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, researchers found a correlation between drawing ability and grey matter in the brain.
In summary of the Abstract:
There were “structural brain differences…in visual perception, spatial navigation, complex motor skills and musical ability.” The study, used brain scans of 44 participants, “post-graduate art students” and laypersons combined, who completed “drawing tasks.” Researchers evaluated grey matter density in different parts of the brain in correspondence to artistic ability. Furthermore, the study suggested that participants with artistic training showed even more “enhancement of structures pertaining to visual imagery.” (Drawing on the right side of the brain: A voxel-based morphometry analysis of observational drawing, Rebecca Chamberlain, NeuroImage, 2014)
“No great artist ever sees things as they really are.
If he did, he would cease to be an artist.”─Oscar Wilde
So then, if you are not born artistically inclined, it may well be possible to ‘train your brain’ to think like an artist and train your eyes to see like one.
“Even when I’m not painting, my mind is finding relationships, colors, shapes and proportions. During a conversation, I’ll be making broad generalizations about patterns and structures in your face.”─Ryan Finnerty
I asked Mr. Finnerty if he thought a person could train their mind to see the world as an artist does.
He said, “the brain is a physical instrument of the mind, (so) it makes sense that the brain will change as the mind changes. Seeing is physical. Perception is of the mind.”
As a teacher, Finnerty teaches his students about perception. “The tasks of drawing and painting require a way of looking, a focus, and a seeking of information that is way outside our normal patterns of looking at the world. What we do with our hands and tools is secondary,” he says.
I also inquired at what point in a person’s life does he think artistic ability begins, whether it is innate.
“Our default way of seeing involves a few basic skills: recognize important things, notice changes, ignore everything else. We learn this in our first few years of life,” Finnerty said. “The artist has to perceive large patterns, values, shapes, and colors. (He) has to control the flow of visual information and make sense of it- ignoring most of (his) instincts and preconceptions in order to see rightly. This becomes more and more instinctual with practice.”
As for nature versus nurture, Finnerty added: “Our knowledge…language, culture, and experience shape what we see, what we notice, and what we remember.”
If man is truly capable of changing his way of thinking and seeing the world, and if he studies the mechanics of painting, does he then become an artist? Viewers and critics may judge, but who really decides?
I know what I like as an art enthusiast and as a collector. I studied art history for a time but by no means would I consider myself an expert. I do think that I have an ‘eye’ for recognizing talent in others and maybe that in and of itself is a talent.
Just as a writer can learn the craft of writing, and become skilled and artful in his prose, readers and critics judge what they believe is ‘literary’. Writers stand with our artist brethren, often misunderstood and unseen.
“Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it ‘the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul.’ The mere imitation, however accurate, of what is in Nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of ‘Artist.’”─Edgar Allan Poe
Thank you for reading and keep writing and creating!
The focus for part two of Artistic in the District is the blending of two art forms, writing and photography.
Some of my favorite blogs are those featuring poetry or a story combined with an artistic photo or photos. In a sense, almost all bloggers strive to accomplish some form of this. These seem to allow a peek inside the mind of the writer. Perhaps, the poem or story itself begins as inspired the photo. Either way it is a wonderful combination. Here are some I follow and some just recently discovered. If you know of any other artistic blogs you like, please feel free to recommend them.
Contemporary art is an evolving art form. In a similar way, the art of blogging evolves. I have seen more and more of these blogs spring up due to the popularity of this form. Perhaps because we readers are all so busy, we seek the quick fix a photograph provides. An excellent photograph will move us to some feeling, sensation, or memory. Adding on verse only makes the photo more appealing in that it gives voice and offers words for contemplation.
I enjoy taking pictures but I am not a photographer. Taken by my husband, the photo I selected above is of me descending the staircase of the Arc de Triomphe, Paris . I love the idea of ordinary things becoming extraordinary because I am looking at them from a different angle. Art is about vision. The beauty is that we all have a unique experience. We all have a story or two to tell.
Looking at this photo, I noticed for the first time, there is someone else on the staircase below me. Who was that person? Where was she going after she finished her sight-seeing tour? Maybe she went to meet a friend in a local café. Maybe for a rendezvous with a lover? The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
Contemporary Visual Artists and Fiction Writers Sharing a Common Muse
As a lifelong lover of art, I find Contemporary Art, the many forms it takes, and the unique spin each artist brings to their medium, intriguing. It differs from Modern Art as the latter, Contemporary, emerged from the former, Modern. The Modern Art movement began earlier, dating back to the late 1800’s with the work of the Impressionists and including movements such as Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism. Contemporary Art has fewer movements and less lofty ‘isms’. It includes but is not limited to Post-Modernism, Toyism, Bitterism, Stuckism, Thinkism and Funism.
Art movements, be they ever-changing, simply put, the distinguishing factor between Contemporary Art from Modern Art is timing. Contemporary Art falls under the large umbrella of the art of our current lifetime. Does that mean 1950’s, 1960’s or 1970’s? Perhaps it depends on your age.
As a writer, I feel captivated by the term ‘movement’ as it defines an artist’s style, technique or philosophy. Furthermore, how does the era and history of one’s lifetime influence their art? How does the artist’s personal circumstances influence their art? Similarly, how do these same structural guidelines apply to writers?
People often refer to writers as artists. I am not sure I totally agree. It would depend on what the writer produces. A non-fiction writer can learn to polish the craft of writing and become competent enough to entertain or persuade others through his or her writing and may even earn a living as a writer. Does entertainment or persuasion alone equal art? What other factors define it?
A fiction writer or poet is a closer cousin of the visual artist in that he or she invents people, places and events and then weaves them into a credible tale to entertain, persuade and/or generate an emotional reaction in their reader. Defined by what they write about, and which genre best defines their writing, are fiction writers not similar beings to our artistic cousins in that we often share a common muse? We create our own vision of the world, or life as we see it.
This calls to mind a favorite quote by a very famous artist: “Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” ― Leonardo da Vinci
Artists and writers share a common bond in that we both face the blank page with the same measure of optimism. We create something from nothing, draw out what lies within the emptiness of a blank page, a blank canvas or an empty space. Tackling this problem is the challenging puzzle for both the artist and the writer. But do we owe even more consideration to the viewers and readers for what they take away from our creations and how it this is tempered by their own history, experience and imagination?