Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 14, 2013

It's the last class before our long holiday break. Only the hardy braved today's snowstorm to attend, but it was certainly worth the trip. We had a wonderful time! And our paintings reflect the joy of the season—full of laughter and color and fun...well, actually, people and Christmas wishes and cats.

Our festive paintings and drawings feature people we love—and, of course, there's Ken's traditional Christmas card, featuring cats he loves. Not to mention Susan's upcoming calendar. Yes, she's got twelve Pat-couture paintings—enough for a calendar. And the traveling skirt has inspired her to go back and add "traveling Pat" backgrounds to her paintings. In keeping with the ensemble, of course. So explorer Pat is exploring near a lighthouse; she's visiting Pisa and the pyramids (in her Egypt coat, natch); she's at a disco and even floating overhead. Look below and join the fun!

Artist of the day. We were almost outnumbered today by books and artists in our library. But what a collection! Our library table featured:
  • James Castle. Many of us saw his wonderful show at the Art Institute. An outsider artist without formal training, he used found materials to create some absolutely amazing paintings and drawings featuring things like soot and spit.
  • Hollis Sigler. Again, many of us attended her retrospective. She's a Chicago artist who painted exuberant, colorful paintings about her struggle with breast cancer.
  • Peggy Macnamara. Another Chicago artist. She's artist in residence at the Field Museum and Ken's favorite watercolorist. Loved her paintings of seasonal migratory birds. Drop by the Field Museum to see more.
  • Susan Rothenberg. A contemporary artist, we love her strong and striking style and are especially enamored of her paintings of horses.
  • Orchids. Steve brought in a brochure from the American Orchid Society featuring botanical art from the Ben Singer collection. Just beautiful! Worth joining the society just to get the member brochure.

Save the date. Well, we don't know the exact date yet, but Ken is having a show at Ten Cat sometime in January. Watch this space for further details—or watch Ten Cat's windows!

Happy Holidays! Hearkening back to our first painting, Ken, the three wise cats, and all of us wish you a wonderful holiday season that extends into the new year and beyond. We thank you for dropping by and wish you a year of health, happiness, color and magic. We look forward to seeing you on January 18.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

December 7, 2013

The frigid cold is here; the snow is on its way tomorrow; Ken was wearing his Santa hat—yes, 'tis the season! And we were feeling festive, too. We had a great time today but, as you'll see below, we were very productive, too. We compared Thanksgivings, discussed the Food exhibit at the Art Institute (interesting, but more educational than about the art). We voted on Gary's Christmas card image. We pronounced Ken's traveling train painting complete. We learned about Pat's traveling yellow skirt (you'll get a chance to see it soon).

And we discussed the virtues of paint families. Steve is still our ambassador for Opera. Gary's discovered Cobalt Violet (Sara's favorite). Ken thinks Cobalt Blue is the Eddie Haskell of colors while Elaine finds it honest and true. They also disagree about the Perylenes (Ken's a big fan; Elaine finds them flat and lifeless once they dry). But there's something we all can agree about—everyone loves Quinacridones!

But most of all, we painted, saying goodbye to summer and autumn before the snow flies. We painted kids and cats; lake, poolside and playground adventures; along with the leaves and fruits of fall. We even painted feasts, Thanksgiving celebrations and the snowy barren trees of winter. And, of course, there's Pat wearing a yellow skirt that's traveled around the world. The color was as bright and cheery as the sunshine. It was a good day! Just look:

Artists of the Day. Today we explored Klimt, Klee and the pre-Raphaelites. We're totally blown away by Klimt's landscapes. He may not be known for them, but they are exquisite.

Traveling Yellow Skirt. Learn more about it on Pat's blog. Just click Project Minima here or in the sidebar. Such fun!

Senior Kultura. If you're looking for something fun to do tomorrow, consider attending the Senior Kultura. It's an art/craft/cultural festival from 1:00–4:00pm on Sunday, December 8 at the North Center Satellite Senior Center at 4040 Oakley in Chicago. There are wonderful items for sale (get a start on your holiday shopping!), caricatures, raffles and baked goods. Well worth it—especially since it's free! Best of all, our own Dorothy Soltys has a Small Change for Small Stories booth. For small change, Dorothy will regale you with a story. You'll love it.

Have a wonderful week and we'll see you next week.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 23, 2013

Another change of the seasons and you see it here first—we start with Vivian's lovely autumn tree colors and move quickly to Gary's barren trees and winter landscapes. Okay, it's not quite that desolate, but it was definitely cold today!

We don't think the cold snap was what kept attendance small today—we missed members who were on vacation, rehearsing, and recuperating. But we still saw some great paintings and had a wonderful time creating them. Keep watching for the last fruits and frolics of summer, Ken's cat eye abstractions and the latest in two recent series: "What Pat Wore" and "What Vivian Saw."

Two things to note: Watch for Greeta's memorial painting of a broken ceramic colander that you have probably admired in previous still lives. Sad news, but the painting is exquisite. And in other food-related news, we are not sure if it's the upcoming Thanksgiving festivities or the newest show at the Art Institute, but John's story illustration adds food and Tony paints his lovely kitchen/studio. Getting hungry? Grab a snack and enjoy our paintings below.

And the fun continues on our Community Painting below. It just keeps getting better as it makes another trip around the art tables. Look closely to see the shadows under the bridge and in the trees deepen. An observation car has been added, and in the sky, a balloon and an "angel cat." We're having too much fun to stop, so tune in again in two weeks to see where we go from here.

Our community painting makes the rounds again, adding more fun elements.
Artists of the Day—Today's library table featured books about Matisse and Cezanne. While we liked them both, our favorite was Cezanne. Interestingly, both of them did paintings of Leda and the Swan. No comment or moral here—just an observation.

Upcoming events and important announcements:

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No class next week—We'll be off for Thanksgiving next week, but we'll be back the week after. And I'm sure we'll have plenty of paintings of our food and family festivities to share, so be sure to join us then. While we're away, if you're looking for something to do, there's Steve's choral concert and the latest exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago (read on for more news about both).

DePaul Community Chorus—Here's a chance to hear Steve and the DePaul Community Chorus in A Thankful Heart: Music for the Season of Gratitude. It's a free concert on Sunday, November 24 at 3pm at the DePaul Concert Hall at 800 W. Belden in Chicago. Find out more by clicking on the poster at right.

Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture and Cuisine—This exhibition includes over 100 paintings, sculptures and artifacts from the 18th through the 20th centuries. There are also some cookbooks, menus and posters, all related to food! It's a great chance to see some famous and familiar paintings with a common link—they all have to do with food. But it's more than just pretty pictures—the exhibit uses food to examine culture, politics and history in America. The contents of the still life paintings reflect the wealth of consumers and the availability of exotic foods. Food makes political statements and tracks the urbanization of America. The simple Campbell soup can, for instance, figures prominently in the both the Depression and Warhol's 60s, and has something to say in both decades.

All in all, this is a very interesting exhibit. It's fascinating to see what societal clues can be found in a simple still life. This exhibition is scheduled to run through January 27, so it encompasses the whole holiday eating season! Click on the section title to learn more and drop by—before the post-holiday diets begin!

Meanwhile, we want you to know how thankful we are for you, our readers. Have a wonderful holiday and we look forward to seeing you next month!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16, 2013

Besides the usual wonderful paintings, we have some interesting choices for our library table, a discussion about negative space, extracurricular activities, a group activity and much, much more. So let's get started right away. But first, an apology—looks like some of the photos came out a bit fuzzy today due to low light conditions. If your painting is less than optimally clear, bring it back next week for a re-shoot and we'll upgrade. You'll especially notice this on Vivian's glowing night leaves, Greeta's plant leaves and Susan's portrait of Pat.

Meanwhile, enjoy our paintings, starting with our annual tribute to fall and its leaves and colors, followed by our farewell to the tastes and activities of summer—a lemonade still life, blueberry/blackberry pie, and lazy days at the pool and the playground. John's added to his painting of elfen magic and we move from kitchens to kittens and trains. Yes, there are two trains—scroll through as we all have a bit of fun with the second one.

Negative spaceToday our discussion turned to negative space...and a spirited discussion it was. We began discussing the space between us and between objects in our paintings. Then we started looking at our paintings in terms of negative space. Pat asserted that each shape in a painting is positive or negative in relation to other shapes and that every shape should be interesting. Well, it must be right, since Pat said so and she's the teacher, right?

Still, we started wondering about focus and composition and hierarchy. If every shape is interesting, how do you know where to look? Doesn't the eye flit everywhere, never settling, never seeing what the artist wants you to see? Well, we ran out of time and never quite settled the question, but we're leaning toward the idea that interesting does not equal important. Every shape doesn't have to be equally important to be interesting. Backgrounds are no reason to get lazy! (But we may change our mind, so check back for an update.)

Playing with paintings—Remember how Ken felt stuck last week on his train painting? And there was talk of passing it around for everyone to take a brush to it? Well, that's exactly what we did today. It was fun! Here's the painting below. Everyone added, edited, overpainted and shaded—and we don't think we're finished yet. Despite such touches as the flowers, the people in the windows and the cat watching, we think we can go even further. Tune in next week.

Our class painting of Ken's train

Artists of the day: Another interesting combination. We had the November issue of Art in America and an old paperback book from the '70s called Watercolor Complete. We scanned the exercises, lessons and tips and found that some things just don't change. Except for a strange fascination with mushrooms as a painting genre (hey, this was the early '70s!), the book teaches the same basics we learned. And who'd have guessed that portraits are new again? Watch this space for all the latest trends and remember you heard it here first!


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Delores' show—You may visit Wishbone restaurant for its fine food, but don't forget that it also has a small gallery and hosts exhibits. Our friend Delores is showing there beginning today, November 16. Some of us dropped by for the opening and had a wonderful time. If you happen to be in the area (or even if you're not), stop by and see her her art in the back gallery.

DePaul Community Chorus—Here's a chance to hear Steve and the DePaul Community Chorus in A Thankful Heart: Music for the Season of Gratitude. It's a free concert on Sunday, November 24 at 3pm at the DePaul Concert Hall at 800 W. Belden in Chicago. Find out more by clicking on the poster at right.

One more thing.....our thoughts go out to the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. It's not too late to help. Besides giving to relief organizations like the Red Cross, you can drop by the Rizal Center to donate if you are in Chicago. They are valiantly fielding an overwhelming number of donations, but the need is still great.

See you next week.