"The love of beauty is taste, the creation of beauty is art"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, May 14, 2012

Change of Plans

I have the privilege of being asked to be the featured artist in the big gallery at the Quinlan Art Center in Gainesville GA in August.  While I am thrilled (!), all I can think about is "holy art exhibit batman"... it is May 10th and I can barely keep up!! I know, I know, no one wants to hear someone who paints paintings for a living complain . So,moving on...

 Originally my plan was to have a show with all female figures. Like this:

This painting is called "Waiting" it is a 48x48 oil. Of course this painting will definitely be in the show ( if for no other reason than it will take up space !!).

 Anyway, back to my point. I promise I will get to it soon.

  In April, I had the privilege of spending a week with my parents and son as we traveled to Williamsburg, Jamestown, DC, Monticello, and Mt Vernon. On this trip I listen to my mother and father talk about the blacksmith shop at Jamestown...how it looks just like the one my great grandfather "Daddy Bob" had. My Dad kept showing my son Jake the smokehouse on each property, describing how the one on his farm  growing up was just like that. They made their own sausage and ham, grew their own cows, chickens, pigs, rabbits and vegetables, and canned the vegetables. As I was listening to all of this ( farm to table stuff running through my head) I had a realization of how, because of my families' rural roots, I have been exposed to a very different view of the world than someone growing up in a "looks like everyone else's house" in a suburban or urban area. Not to judge :). I am one generation removed from the real farm to table lifestyle. Actually, growing up we had a family garden that my grandparents, my parents and my Aunt's family shared. We shared the meat that was produced at my grandparents farm. So, I have been lucky to know my food, so speak, most of my life. We did not see it as a luxury though but a necessity.

So... what does that have to do with my show? On this trip, I had an epiphany  about why I love painting the subject matter that I paint. I think I can finally verbalize what it is that I am trying to do. I want to capture  the simple joys of life . There are endless inspirational possibilities in childhood and the figure. I am most drawn to the everyday images of life. The moments that make a life, not the things.  The joy of rambling around an old barn, playing with a litter of kitties, running through the field with my cousins, sliding down a creek bank just because we could, sliding into home base and winning the game, my mother's love, riding horses, petting cows, swimming and fishing in the lake. All of these things are a part of me even though I now live in one of those "looks like everyone else's house" house in suburbia. I want to hold on to what is right with the world, keep the perspective  on the important moments instead of things. As remarkably simple subjects grab my attention, I find myself immersed in an understanding of their meaning and then, I feel I am compelled to interpret them in a way that celebrates their importance.  Ultimately, I hope the viewer will connect with what I felt as I painted and we can share in that connection.

  "Expressions of the Soul"  is the name and theme for my latest body of work.  I hope this show will tap your soul with joyful memories!! In the meantime, here are some paintings for the show in August!!

                                                                                 "Best Friends" 36x48

                                                                                                    "Tyus" 40x40

                                                                                                   "Love" 30x36

Saturday, September 24, 2011

An Artist's Artist

Check out www.studiomonbennett.blogspot.com for an interview with a very talented young artist. Adam Amram! His show will be in Studio M beginning September 22- October 4. Opening Oct 1 6pm-9pm!

Worth a see!



Sunday, August 14, 2011

What Makes Good Art? How to Recognize the Best Art

Check this article out and tell me what you think. I actually like all the views that are posted. But what it seems to come down to is taste... yours!

What Makes Good Art? How to Recognize the Best Art

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Courage and work under the bed!

"Possibilities" for Barbara

I grew up around art, educators and definitely free thinkers. Luckily I was exposed to many different views of how life can be lived. While many people have influenced my work, tonight I want to talk about my Aunt Barbara.

Having been the President of the Atlanta Artists Center here in the ATL and a professional painter for over eight years , I have been exposed to a plethora of talented people. I have found that many artists can execute the perfect drawing, or painting but I have seen very few who have had the touch and feel that my aunt could create with her work. Barbara's way of using watercolor, pencil, pen and ink ,oil or whatever medium she chose always carried the same theme of beauty, softness, and emotion. I guess that is why I am trying so hard to capture a "feeling" and evoke some kind of "emotion" with my paintings.

My Aunt passed away suddenly this year and I have lost one of my greatest champions. She thought whatever I did was fantastic, especially if I was pushing the boundaries of conformity. What started this thought process tonight is a painting my brother has now of UGA, the bulldog, that my aunt did when she was first learning acrylics. It takes a great deal of courage to pull your work out from under your bed and share it with others.

I remember when Barbara gave my brother that painting. He could not have been maybe 13 or 14 years old. He was absolutely thrilled. She captured the excitement of Georgia football (something that is near and dear to many in our family) with that one painting. I watched how having that piece of art made him feel. He still has it hanging in a place of honor in his home next to his wife's Florida Gator. I know it is a mixed marriage. But I digress. From that one moment, I thought, I want to create something that makes someone feel that way. So tonight I am glad my Aunt pulled that painting out from under her bed and shared it with us. Hopefully, I will continue to have the same courage.

Here's to having the courage to bring joy to others!

Art, Jesus and Grace.

I am in the process of doing three 40x40 paintings for my church's choir room. I have hesitated to write about this because my feelings of faith and organized religion are mine and I am not really interested in other people's opinions of those feelings or ideas. But art and religion have always had a symbiotic relationship, and my personal journey, artistic or otherwise, is thoroughly intertwined with my faith and beliefs. So having the opportunity to give back to an organization that does so much good for so many is a thrill.

Oak Grove United Methodist Church is a thriving congregation that uses the joy and beauty of music to bring emphasis to the weekly message. My task is to find a way to celebrate that beauty and to convey one of the aspects of Methodism that I find most appealing. From my studies I remembered that John Wesley differentiates between prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace, creating subtle distinctions between Methodists and other Protestant Christians.

There it is! My concept for the work. The three types of grace-
Prevenient grace- The gift of grace always present in everyone,
Justifying grace-By God's grace you are forgiven through acceptance of his love,
Sanctifying grace- By consciously choosing not to sin or perfecting your life towards the Lord.

Now, how to convey grace visually is my challenge.

Since these works are to "grace" the wall of the choir room, I went to the Methodist Hymnal and found songs that represent the three types of grace and decided to illustrate those songs.

"Amazing Grace"- Prevenient (preparing) grace ... I have to do a disclaimer with this one, I did not like any of the songs in the "prevenient" section of the hymnal and the words of "Amazing Grace" fit my definition of "God's gift" that exists in and for us no matter what. Again, not good at following other's rules ! Ha!
This painting is called "How Sweet the Sound" . I see God's grace as his gift to us. It is there for the taking, always, no matter what we believe or do .

"He Touched Me"- Justifying (accepting) grace- In this painting you can see the hand of God reaching out to someone who has turned away from God, backsliding in their acceptance of grace. God asks nothing of us, but to accept His love and therefore His grace.

"Let There Be Peace on Earth"-Sanctifying (sustaining) Grace- This painting is called "Peace" Doing good works in the name of the Lord. I chose to illustrate our voices lifted up in song bringing peace to our world.

I believe every time I hear the words of many hymns my burden is lightened and my soul is lifted. So I thank those who spend their time and give of their talent to give back to me the gift of worship through music.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Moving on Up! 4,100 feet above sea level!

Today I had the pleasure if driving to Highlands NC. If you have not been to Highlands, it is about 2.5 hours from Atlanta . Located on a plateau in the southern Appalachian mountains, within the Nantahala National Forest, it lies mostly in southeastern Macon and slightly in southwestern Jackson counties, in the Highlands and Cashiers townships, respectively. The permanent population was 909 at the 2000 census. The population swells to 10,000-15,000 during the season from spring to fall.

Highlands was founded in 1875 after its two founders, Samuel Truman Kelsey and Clinton Carter Hutchinson drew lines from Chicago to Savannah and from New Orleans to Baltimore. They felt that the place where these lines met would eventually become a great trading center and commercial crossroads. In the 1930s the town became a golfing mecca when Bobby Jones of Atlanta and some of his well-heeled golfing buddies founded the Highlands Country Club. Today that club is one of seven successful residential country club communities.

I drove to Highlands to drop artwork for the Bascom Art Center's members show.


I am very excited about participating in this show. The Bascom is becoming one of the premier art centers in the southeast. With great resident artists and shows of modern masters, this wonderful jewel is bringing the art of our region to the national scene. Below is the piece I entered in the show. Taylor Kinzel Gallery that carries my work was kind enough to let me put this piece in the Bascom show. Thanks TK! www.taylorkinzelgallery.com

"Tomorrow" 42x48 Oil

Today I became envious of landscape painters. The inspiration in this beautiful place is never ending.On this very hot day in Atlanta, it was 76 degrees in the Highlands and you could see for miles with a low humidity. You never know, I may have to find the time away from painting figures to painting landscapes. August 20th is the opening of this show. I think it will be so much fun. Jack and I will have to take a road trip for the weekend.

Won't you join us?!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Memories of Tuscany

In April we traveled to the incredibly inspirational Tuscan region of Italy. For ten days Jack, Jake and I soaked up the essence of Italy. Did you know that the "essence" of Italy comes in both red , white and bubbly? Ok, mostly Jack and I soaked up the essence.! I will say riding in a car , viewing art, medieval church s and museums only entertains a nine year old for a short while. But he was happy once we got to Rome.

On the other-hand, I loved the timelessness of the countryside . It seems that this part of Italy's economy is still agriculturally based. Each little hill town has it's own micro economy. No big box stores that force small businesses out. Consequently for us, people really did not speak much English so we had a great time entertaining the locals by trying to speak Italian with our Appalachian accents ( I am from the mountains of north Georgia and Jack is from the upstate of South Carolina). The pace of life in the hill towns was a pace we are all trying to capture here in the US. I now understand now why so many Americans want to live in the Maremma region of Italy.

The painting above "Abandoned in Manciano" is one of the many many farm houses that I just fell in love with. This particular place was abandoned so of course that drew me in even more. I love the red roof and creamy tawny facade against the green of the cypress trees that were growing all around. I just had to paint this picture large. It is 54 inches long and 48 inches tall. I hope viewing this painting will bring to you the peace and tranquility that is the Italian countryside.


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Monday, August 1, 2011

Self-indulgent... maybe.

When I left the consulting world to become a full time painter, I did worry a bit about my contribution to the world. In my family, one is always suppose to use their talents to improve the world in some way and here I was leaving what I had trained twenty years to do. ( I use to work with non profit hospitals to help improve their capability to meet demand for their services). I wondered how is spending the day thinking about what I want to say going to help anyone else, I wondered, am I being self indulgent, self centered and narcissistic to focus inward instead of outward? Wrestling with this very concept I came full circle this year.

I have found a way to meet both my philanthropic needs and my need to feel that I am contributing to the world. We are in the eighth month of 2011 and to date my works of art have helped raise over $12,000 for non profits around the Atlanta area. I am thrilled beyond belief that my works of art have had that large scale of an impact for the charities I care about. Some of the groups I have worked with are The Trinity School, Wesleyan School, Tanner Medical Foundation, Cobb Museum of Fine Art , Briarlake Elementary School and coming up this fall Atlanta Hospice and the Charity Guild of the Country Club of the South.

Here are a few of the pieces that have helped the most!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer ...slow and easy

"Magic" 36x48 Oil
This summer I have been working on new works to get ready for the Studio M on Bennett Opening and my solo show at Taylor Kinzel Gallery in Roswell GA. But all of this work came to screeching halt in July! School is out so of course the kid needs a bit of summer not going off to camp everyday.
So I sacrificed and we have been to all water parks within an hour, amusement parks, kayaking, laser show at Stone Mountain to name a few. Now we are down to our last week before school and I am itching to get back into the studio. I have also been absent from here during my little break. I hope to share quite a few new works in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, enjoy "Magic" This is the one of two paintings that I actually want to keep. Let me know what you think!