The Art of Rebelling Against Technique

If you’ve read any of my blog posts so far then you know how much I adore art. Art history, maybe more so.

When I began attempting to paint a few years ago, some friends asked if I was going to take art classes the way I had writing ones.

I thought about it. I really did. But I agonize over my writing. I revise over and over. Painting felt fun and fast. I didn’t know what I was doing and that was fine. It was play. Sometimes something interesting came from it.

It was gratifying to discover I am good at intuitively mixing colors and differentiating shades. I could play with color alone and be almost content.

Well, since I’ve written so much about art, I thought it might be fair (and useful) to study it in a more structured way.

That said, I’m going to attempt to learn some real tips and techniques and share my results here. Yikes!

To that end, I attended a watercolor class at our local library recently. We all watched a YouTube video and painted along.

It was fun.

I learned (relearned?) important things about myself.

For instance, I don’t like to follow instructions when it comes to creative projects.

Maybe it wasn’t entirely my fault, because the “green” we were given was too blue and we didn’t have the right paints to make it so. That made me feel rebellious from the get go. I knew I wouldn’t be able to replicate the leaves, so why try?

One of the things I enjoy most is filling up the background once I’ve finished my painting. I love the opportunity to play with big swathes of color, to make bold proclamations.

This painting didn’t call for that, but I couldn’t resist. The sweet woman sitting beside me in class simply murmured “Oh, my” when she saw what I was doing. I’m not sure that was a compliment.

Without further ado, I present to you my version of the project. I’m not unhappy with it, and DH wants to frame it, but a realistic nature illustrator I am not.

Comments welcome, unless they are about technique. It won’t do you any good. She won’t be taught. Sigh. Unless maybe through further YouTube videos.

But if you like or don’t certain aspects of it, do leave a comment. And if YOU are a visual artist, show me yours!

P.S. Clearly, this is sideways.

My First Victorine Reading!

Hubby Barry and I recently visited Louisville, where we participated in the Spalding at 21C: Voice and Vision reading at the 21C Museum Hotel, along with four other talented writers. Besides me and Barry, the lineup included Misha Feigin, Ellyn Lichvar, Alan J. Naslund, and Vickie Weaver. Celebrated author Sena Jeter Naslund emceed.

When the award-winning poet Misha was introduced at the reading, I remember thinking, “Why was I invited? I don’t have nearly his credentials.” Since I was the last to read, I was pretty nervous, but the crowd was so welcoming I quickly felt comfortable, even though such wonderful writing came before me.

Because of copyrighted artwork in the reading area, Barry and I didn’t take photos of our actual reading, but we did catch some shots beforehand.

Barry read from his novel-in-progress, and I was delighted as always at his lyrical language. Filigrees of cigarette smoke? Yes, please!

During the event, I did my first public reading from Victorine, my novel which is forthcoming from Fleur-de-Lis Press this year. I felt almost possessed by Victorine during my reading, she who is remembered by history as Manet’s favorite model, although she went on to painting success herself. I have no illusions about who’s in charge of her story (she is!), and I’m honored to be a part of the process.

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I’m beaming, because I’ve been visiting with some of my favorite peoples! Note my nearly ever-present pearls, although I wear the white set more often.
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We enjoyed this colorful display, only one of many intriguing exhibits. And yes, that’s Mr. Barry D. humoring me by standing before this.

The next day we drove on to Nashville, where we visited the renamed Frist, now the Frist Art Museum. We went specifically to see the Frida and Diego exhibit. Please try to get there, if you haven’t already!

If you haven’t noticed by now, I am drawn to strong female figures. Victorine is certainly one, as is Frida. It seemed natural to me to go from reading about Victorine to viewing Frida’s dynamic paintings.

May 24–September 2, 2019

Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection

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This is a Diego painting. Barry and I are teaming up with these fun finger puppets here just because I have a collection of them.
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Doesn’t Frida look like a lioness as she has Diego on her “mind?”
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Said to be the most detailed of Frida’s paintings, I find the imagery of this to be evocative. It seems to me that she is protecting Diego’s talents, as she is protected by the earth, which is in nature’s embrace.
While this photo is playful, I had to sit and stare at this painting silently for a few minutes. It made me dizzy, but in a good way. (Art sometimes does that to me.) I’d like to think Frida would have appreciated the fun finger puppets. She strikes me as both uber serious and playful all at once.

Frida’s strokes are measured, while her colors are freely sprinkled. I like her restrained style, because her subject matter and her use of tones are so extreme that if she had used thick paint or wild brushing, it would be too much. Her manner of painting also tells me something I suspected: she comes across as passionate beyond compare, and she is, but she also controls her image. Nicely done, Frida. Nicely done.

Barry and I also made a stop by the Speed Museum with a dear friend while we were in Louisville, and The Frist had a surrealism exhibit as well as the Mexican Modernism, but those are both topics for another post.

Have you seen any of Frida’s paintings in person? If so, what did you think of them? Do you agree or disagree with my take on her work?