Two days after meeting Tony Allain at the PPSCC show in South Yarmouth, I had the privilege of watching him paint! I drove down to Meriden, CT for a three hour demo hosted by the Connecticut Pastel Society, where he was teaching workshops this past week.
Usually, a demo consists of a room full of people watching an artist, who narrates his/her process while doing a painting. In this case, it was a room full of people watching with rapt attention while the artist did FIVE paintings!! And apparently, Tony was taking it easy--I heard rumors of 11 paintings in one demo at IAPS!
Tony was funny and generous, and amazing to watch--his color choices were rich and spectacular, and his mark making was fast, loose and expressive. As always when I'm watching a really great artist, I'm struck by how much knowledge lies behind each stroke. People often have the impression that artists are emotive creatives (they are) who channel inspiration (they do) in some magical way (nope, not magic). In fact, there's a tremendous amount of disciplined practice, keenly trained observation and a lot of knowledge of the natural world--science!--behind each painting.
I was delighted to be able to watch this master painter at work. Thank you for all your energy and generous sharing, Tony!
Tony has generously given his demo paintings to the Connecticut Pastel Society, to be auctioned later this summer.
Well, I've had a whirlwind of art awesomeness since I posted last! Last Saturday was the reception for the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod's show, For Pastels Only. I'd driven down the previous weekend to deliver my painting, Silo, and met a few fellow artists at the drop off. So this time Jim and I drove down for a party, and my mom met us there as well. Well, those folks on the Cape can sure throw a party! Check it out:
I'd been notified a few days before the reception that I was going to receive an award for my painting--but not which award! I sat around for about half an hour after the phone call just staring off into space with a stupid look on my face. I've been chasing after this art thing for so long, in so many different ways, with so little result, that I was having a hard time taking it in (I'm not just talking about pastel here, but also film, photography, oils, drawing, and teaching). So we went down to the reception, just figuring it would be a fun afternoon and evening--and I was armed with my new business cards to give out. Jim and I had lunch in West Yarmouth, and then some great ice cream, and then arrived at the show. We met lots of super talented artists, and spent a long time wandering the gallery, looking at all the terrific work. Really, it was great quality art, across the board. And art appears to actually be POPULAR out on the Cape--there were about 300 people at the reception! No joke, it was orders of magnitude more crowded than any art reception I've ever attended.
Liz Haywood-Sullivan, president of IAPS, was there, fresh from the stellar success of the IAPS convention in Albuquerque. I had the great privilege of taking a workshop with Liz last October, and then an art business seminar this past February as well. I learned so much from her, on both occasions!
The guest of honor for the evening was the very talented artist and Judge of Awards, Tony Allain, from the UK. Tony had also been at the IAPS convention, and is now doing a bit of a teaching tour of the US. He taught last week on the Cape, and this week in Connecticut for CPS. Anyway, he judged the PPSCC show and was there to give out the awards. There were more than 20 awards to give out, and as he worked his way up to the top three, and I didn't hear my name called, things started to get surreal. Maybe there had been some kind of mistake? But then he announced the #2 award, and called my name! I thought I was going to hit the floor, hard. Everyone was so nice, and so supportive! A little later in the evening, I turned around and saw Liz and Tony standing in front of my painting, discussing it, looking all serious and appreciative--I think my eyes bugged out of my head. (You saw that, didn't you, Liz?) I was totally star struck, standing there with two top pastel artists, as though I actually belonged there. What a night!
So many thanks to everyone at PPSCC for the opportunity and honor: Joan Dromey, Ed Chesnovitch and Donna Rossetti-Bailey (and a host of other folks organizing the event), Marla Baggetta and Tony Allain for being generous jurors, and all the terrific artists and art admirers!
Congratulations to Deborah Quinn-Munson for winning Best in Show for her painting, Outdoor Cafe; and to Ed Chesnovitch for the Award of Honor for his painting, Meander!
More to come...that was just the beginning....
When we last left the studio pics, we had walls...now we have painted walls.
The walls are Benjamin Moore's Silver Chain, which is a pretty neutral gray. We used this color in our most recent repainting of NOA Gallery's two main rooms, and absolutely every painting we've ever hung against it looks great with the color. It's bright and airy looking without being blinding or throwing off your color perception--very important for painting!
I also painted the floor, which was tons of fun! The base color is BM's Graphite, and then I spatter painted with Artichoke (green) and Silver Chain (which looks nearly white against the nearly black). I then finished the floor with two coats of MinWax oil based poly in high gloss, which deepened the colors and hopefully will be easy to maintain. The floor reflects some light upward, without adding a distracting color cast.
The painting didn't stop there--next up was a huge double cupboard that's been in the barn forever.
So with the painting finished, Jim was able to start the electrical wiring (so handy to have an engineer in the family). Art studio lighting is kind of a big deal, and we did a lot of research. We think we came up with a pretty good solution--stay tuned!
Want some more pics? Here's a peek at the other side of Jim's workshop wall...the tack room! For about ten years, I've had all the horses' gear hanging over some wooden planks across the aiske from their stalls. Everything was always coated in a layer of barn dust, and tacking up always took longer because I had to dig things out of storage bins. But now...
Time to ride!!
I spent a lot of time driving today, down to South Yarmouth and back, to deliver my painting to the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, where it will be up with the show For Pastels Only, hosted by the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod. The show runs from June 17 to July 12, with an opening reception on June 20. I'd never been to South Yarmouth before, and it was a perfect day for a visit--mid 70s, sunny and breezy. The Cultural Center is a beautiful building! I think it was a bank in a previous life, since there's a large (open) vault in the center of the back wall. And a lovely bonus was that the show that's ending this week, the work of oil painter Christopher Zheng, was still up:
Gorgeous, no? I spent some time wandering around, looking at his beautiful paintings. I also got a sneak peek at the pastels being dropped off by other artists, and I think this will be a stunning show! Everything I saw was terrific--not a dud in the lot! I'm really honored to be sharing the walls with such an accomplished group of artists. I got a surprise also--when I checked in my painting and unpacked it, I was told that it will be appearing in the show program! *Gulp!*
Interrupting the studio pics for a moment...just wanted to say that my new artist cards arrived from MOO, and they are super!
I got 8 different images on them, and I'm really impressed with the print quality and the heft of the card stock. I got them in a square shape with rounded corners, on glossy stock, and they are so pleasant to hold! Plus they arrived three business days earlier than expected, which is great because I really wanted to be sure to have them in hand for the opening reception of the upcoming show on Cape Cod.
I spent some time today in the old studio, framing the painting that I'll be taking to the Cape on Sunday:
It's all packed and ready to go!
Time for a few more photos of the studio evolution! We did a lot of the work on this project ourselves; we hired a framer/carpenter who built the wall frames and hung the walls, and we had the cheerful help of our amazing handyman Jared. Mom, Jim and I worked on everything from insulation and vapor barrier to painting and installing lighting. So, here are a few more in-progress views:
Stay tuned for more!
I mentioned that the hubster is getting a workshop out of this barn rehab too, right? It will be an office space, an electronics and ham radio lab, and a tinkerer's woodshop with some essential tools--we're getting him all outfitted so he can be my custom picture frame builder! Oh, and so he can invent the next Great Technology Device. It might be about batteries. Or maybe solar power. Or both. Anyway, here's how the space is shaping up. It's on the first floor of the barn, with a wall dividing him from the horses and tack room. After we cleared out the antique lumber (most of it--Mom couldn't resist keeping a few pieces), we realized that the sheer weight of all those beams had been pushing the exterior wall right off its foundation. So we fixed that, and used some beams to reinforce the structure and just look COOL. We added some windows and an awesome custom door to the exterior, which opens onto a little fenced in patio area. (A picnic table and BBQ grill are in his future.) Here are the first few in-process pics...more to come!
I've been working in a studio on the third floor of my condo for three years now, sharing the space with my husband (hi, sweets) and numerous cats. This has become problematic, not just because together Jim and I have too much stuff, but also because some of what I do is not meant for cats to eat. It's lovely to have a cat on your lap while you're at your computer blogging, but less lovely to have a cat leave paw prints across your pastel, over the drafting table and onto the floor. So, since I have a fairy godmother (thanks, Mom!), we're building a new studio!
We have a large barn, formerly a commercial chicken coop, that's been home to our horses for about 12 years now. I cannot begin to describe to you how dirty this building was when we first tackled it. It took several dumpsters, a 7 foot tall burn pile and endless showers (for us, not the barn) to get it reasonably clean. Then, my mom's antique home restoration business took it over for lumber storage for many years. Finally, with mom retiring (yeah, right), we decided to clean it again and renovate it to include a workshop and office for the hubs and an art studio for me, a room for storage and space for the antique barn loom we've been given (more on that in another post), and a tack area to store all the horsey stuff. Like I said, it's a large barn.
We started the rehab back in late February, and we're now almost ready to move in. So now that I know that we're actually going to live through the ordeal, I thought I'd share some pics. I'm going to spread this out over a few posts, finishing with the move in, kind of like teaser trailers....
Alexia Rosoff Wilber
News and notes about art.