Perspective \per-’spek-tiv\ n1 : the science of painting and drawing so that objects represented have apparent depth and distance 2 : the aspect in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed; esp : a view of things (as objects or events) in their true relationship or relative importance
As an eighth grader I was finally able to take art as an elective every day! I thought I was in heaven until I realized that art class was work, just like English, but more hands-on. The first thing we made was a portfolio for all of our work, but as part of that project we learned to use a Speedball C-1 pen dipped in India ink to make Roman lettering (which is probably one of the most challenging lettering styles to master for anyone, much less a twelve year old) so our names could easily be read. The serif had to have this slight curve to be perfect, according to Mrs. Strong. It was not easy, and I am pretty sure I never did it correctly, but at least I could read my name. (Note: As a middle school art teacher who taught Italic calligraphy, I learned quickly that one does not give a bottle of ink and dip pens to eighth graders and expect no “accidents.” My admiration for Mrs. Strong’s patience is quite high.)
In eighth grade art class we drew from life, worked with papier mache, and participated in poster contests, but when we learned one point perspective, I thought I had learned the key to making my drawings appear “correct.” For some reason using a straightedge and a vanishing point to create depth made sense to me, probably because there is an order to it. As an art educator, I looked forward to teaching the unit in perspective every year. I was always surprised that some of the weakest students easily caught on to the process.
Using that method of perspective was useful until I started painting some of the villages in Italy, where there is no consistent vanishing point for a building, and I had to learn to gage angles for the many doors and windows. Out-of-wack perspective is disturbing to me.
When several of my painting friends joined to create an exhibit, we decided to call it Perspectives because we enjoy making paintings with buildings. We just each have a different way of expressing our views. Painting the signs on buildings is a challenge, but I am sure I will never do Roman lettering. At least not perfectly.
I have a friend from high school, Keith McGee, who takes marvelous photos of birds. He is generous enough to allow me to use them as references in my paintings. Two hundred years ago, John James Audubon arrived in Louisiana, and this event is the theme of the Associated Women in the Arts’ Spring, 2021 exhibition, Audubon Inspired. Since Audubon is primarily known for his engravings of birds, I felt compelled to paint this egret splashing down to capture a bite to eat.
The Varsity Theatre outside the north gates of LSU is a music venue. Unfortunately, it has been quiet for the past few months. Lighted marquee signs remind me of the old days when going to the movie in a big, opulent theatre was an event.
During the Spring of 2020, we had the opportunity to paint downtown Baton Rouge without all the usual traffic. This restaurant was one of the few open. A young man sat at the outdoor table waiting on a friend, and maybe a hot slice for lunch.
Frolickvb1: to make merry 2: to play about happily
When I hear the word frolic I think of very young children on the playground, kittens swatting a ball of yarn, and birds at the feeder. To me, frolicking involves some sort of action. I am pretty sure it’s been a while since I last frolicked.
Anyway, a few weeks ago our part of the country had its three day winter complete with a freeze, street closings, and power outages. Sort of like a hurricane, but colder. Once again, we were confined to the house, and even though we had Netflix and HGTV, our greatest source of entertainment was watching the birds frolic at the feeder.
Seeing the birds interact with each other made me think…there were different species of birds sharing the same space without a problem. Some kicked seed to the ground so the other birds (and probably a few squirrels) could get to it more easily. The pairs of cardinals took care of each other. All had plenty to eat. The day may have been cold, but I doubt the birds felt it. By being what they are–birds–they played happily with no cares.
I have always had trouble giving my husband gifts. He buys what he wants, and what he does not buy for himself, we either cannot afford it (super expensive timepiece) or have nowhere to put it (new Corvette). So I decided to make a painting for him that would never leave the house to go on exhibit. A painting of his childhood home.
I remember well each house I called home as I grew up. We never moved out of Columbus, Mississippi. The apartment duplex on Tenth Street North where I lived as an infant is still standing (although I am not certain how that is). My grandfather designed the first house my daddy built with a house note of $90 per month. It’s probably still standing, but I am not sure if I want to go back to that part of town. We then built “out in the country” off Highway 45 where we stayed a few years before moving back to Tenth Street North to a house built in 1910. That is the place I call “home” before I moved to college just down the street. Mother and Daddy went on to two other houses after that. In fact, when I came home from college one weekend, they told me they were moving….I guess it was a good thing I went home to visit or I may have never known where they went!
My husband, on the other hand, had only one address until he left for university. The house, built in the 1850’s, is one of the largest in the town of Canton and has been in his family over one hundred years. The Mosby Home has been sketched, photographed, and painted a number of times, and I thought having an original painting of it would be pretty cool. Especially if the painting was really big and hanging over my mantel.
I began this project in June, 2020 figuring I would have plenty of time to finish for Christmas. This is highly unusual for me because I am a last-minute kind of person. I knew how I wanted it to look because I “borrowed” the composition from my friend, Keith, the artist across from me at the studio (is there anything really new?). I drew, painted, corrected, and corrected again. I was hopeful that I would have an opportunity to exhibit it in a local show before my husband saw it, but my painting was declined. Which was for the best, since this was a gift, something he could never buy for himself, and I didn’t want him to see it. I was able to surprise him with it on Christmas day.
Did he like it? He never really said…but it is hanging over the mantle, never to leave the house again.
If an artist is near a lighthouse, she must paint it. We were on St. George Island after a few days of rain. The sky was clear and the air cool. Since I never have painted a lighthouse, it was time. The dunes lead to the structure, which stands magnificently against the deep blue sky. The deep shadow on the left of the lighthouse adds drama to the painting. I tried to get a sense of the loneliness associated with lighthouses posted at the far end of a strip of land, but this particular place was anything but lonely…many vacationers were on the site, as well as a number of painters participating in Plein Air South.
Visiting downtown Apalachicola, Florida is almost like taking a trip back in time. The buildings along the waterfront have such personality, even though they may be vacant. The huge palm tree in front of this building is what initially caught my attention, but the painting became more about the structure as I worked on it.
It’s October, the one month of the year when wearing orange with black is acceptable. The sky is usually a brilliant cobalt blue and the cadmium yellow flowers in the pastures and along the highway are in bloom (as those with allergies know only too well!). This month is one of change, from warm summer days to cooler mornings and a little breeze. It’s also one of the best months for painting outdoors.
Autumn is the best time of the year to visit the Gulf coast…the tourists are gone, it’s not so hot, and the beaches are just beautiful. I had the opportunity to attend Plein Air South in Apalachicola, Florida earlier this month. It was the first event held in that area in months, and even though it was smaller than the previous PAS events, it was great. There were new faculty members and events, new participants and locations to paint, not to mention more painting time. Everyone was just glad to be out painting, even if we were socially distancing and wearing masks.
One thing I have to say about painting outdoors: it’s always there. No matter the situation, no matter one’s ability, plein air painting is always open. I am not sure what I would have done had I not been able to paint outdoors during the stay-at-home orders earlier this year. I could have learned a new language, organized my closet, or binge-watched Netflix. Instead, I showed up at the canvas, painted my yard, and tried doing still life compositions outdoors. I looked forward to painting on the beach at Apalachicola and felt prepared because I kept up with my practice. Some of my paintings are actually keepers!
But back to October. This crazy year, the leaves are actually turning yellow in October rather than late November and December as they usually do here in South Louisiana. I am excited about painting autumn colors and hope to see orange foliage in the Corbet green trees behind all those cadmium yellow flowers in the pasture under the cobalt blue sky. And of course, I will be wearing orange and black while I paint. Because it’s October.