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.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 9, 2013

For all our iPad readers who mentioned they couldn't see the video, we're trying a new way to link this week. Hope this works. Let us know if you still can't see the video, though; we'll keep trying.

Today, we were all about water (and trees—but mostly water). We start with trees and leaves, though, as is appropriate for the season. There are dancing leaves, streetlights shining through nighttime leaves and leafless trees in a barren landscape against an incredible sky. There are some trees behind Ken's trains, and water under the trestles, moving us into more water images—alligators and floating swimmers. The stones on Mark's church and John's elf look like water bubbles, too, don't they? And speaking of elves, look at Pat's outfit! Pay special attention to the shoes; they are so much fun (as are the kids in the playground).

Keep scrolling through for information about Steve's concert at DePaul. These are free and, trust us, they are wonderful. No better way to celebrate Thanksgiving season—yes, it's that time already!

Artists of the day—We had a plethora of riches today at the library table. Kris continued with his intriguing pairings. Today it was Balthus and Holbein. We loved them both—and these books may have influenced a spate of portraits in the future. We can but hope.

Quote of the day—Ken announced that "Negative space is out of fashion!" This was news to us and he was roundly shouted down. Is it any wonder we don't take fashion advice from Ken? Everyone knows that negative space never goes out of style!

Upcoming Events

Click here for more info
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.

Next week's project?—While you were scrolling through, we hope you paid special attention to Ken's second train painting. There has been some talk about passing it around next week and letting everyone have a go at it—kind of like Exquisite Corpse with a brush. This could be a lot of fun, so come back and see if anything comes of this notion.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November 2, 2013

Can you guess what today's theme was? Keep looking—it will come to you quickly enough! Actually, there are two, and you'll get credit for either one. First of all, although it may have been a grey day, there was color everywhere! Despite our fear that the leaves would fall without ever changing colors, this last week did the trick. As Susan said, "Everywhere you turn is a painting!" So true! Our first theme is trees, leaves and the colors of fall. From the tree across the street (that's a photo; not a painting) to turning leaves on Gary's river banks to Sara's falling leaves and matching outfit. The tree even makes an appearance in the background of Susan's fashion portrait of Pat.

What's the second theme, you ask? Scroll down and see. Several of us have independently discovered that repetition is the key to success. Gary painted five studies of the river and trees before he painted the final. Ken returns to an old favorite—trains—and paints two versions of the same scene. Tony's painted three sunsets from the same balcony in Greece and Susan's on her seventh Pat Portrait. We can't begin to count the number of illustrations John's done of this story. Each is like a cartoon cell, similar but just a little further along in the story. And this may be pushing things, but Vivian has two towers of Marina City, Mark has two spires on his building and Elaine has two kids having fun. No matter how you run the numbers, there are some very cool paintings below.

Artist of the day—Today's duo was another unlikely pairing: Caravaggio and Francis Bacon. Sorry, Kris, but we're more into the master of light and shadow. We're not such big fans of Francis Bacon—but we did give him a try!

Greetings and wishes of the day—We missed Steve, Greeta and Alan today. Hope to see you all soon. And our thoughts are with Pat and her mother. Get better soon!

You're invited—You may know Wishbone restaurant for its fine food, but you may not remember that it also has a small gallery hall and hosts exhibits. Our friend Delores is showing there beginning November 16 and you're invited to see her art.

Enjoy the scenery and see you next week.