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A Virtual Exposition

Well, we are packed up, folks….shipping out of France and back to the States. All fall and a touch of summer I had the incredible privilege and blessing of working in a studio in Toulouse under the coaching of Professeur Mireille Racine, retired from teaching art in a Paris university. It was sort of like having a stage, or internship, as a graying woman instead of as a college youth. I wish I could continue! But, since I can’t, I have decided to host myself a little exposition, all virtual of course, of just those artworks that were done under the influence of Prof Mireille. Most of the paintings have already been individually posted, but I like the contrast and the growth evident with them gathered together.

She asked for my goal for my art, and I told her that I wanted to loosen up, to be able to be more expressive and playful, even as I continue to develop in my basic skills. I apologize for the poor lighting of this exposition. My indoor lights were mostly sold for the move, and sunny Southwest France isn’t so sunny at the end of November.

Sort of beginning and ending.

Sort of beginning and ending.

The first is my pears painted with palette knives, a first for me. It really did make me a little looser to work with something that wasn’t a brush. She pushed me to incorporate my pear colors into my background for unity. In November Stoney and I visited Van Gogh’s museum in Amsterdam (I should probably post photos, eh?), and when I returned, Mireille pushed me to take my fall still life and overcome my intimidation of Van Gogh’s brilliant style and attempt it myself. The results rather surprised me. It was fun, and one of my last paintings.

Impressionism, take 1; and impressionism, take 2.

Impressionism, take 1; and impressionism, take 2.

My composition (or lack thereof) has been a point of repetition for Mireille. I tend to paint in bands and leave things looking too separated and linear. The landscape on the left, a Texas oak tree standing before an oncoming evening storm, was a fight for me. We did a lot of repair rework to get the light effects of French impressionism. To work the whole canvas quickly is just not my habit, but it is necessary for this sort of painting. The second landscape is a garden in Lyon, and it came noticeably more easily. I worked around the canvas as I had been coached, trying for a spiral composition. Big improvement!

Going abstract.

Going abstract.

To some extent, these are both studies, not really finished works. In fact, I began the one on the right first, trying to improve my palette knife skills. They actually have these wild cedar trees here in France, all twisted and agonizing. I started it before the Cezanne-inspired tree on the left, but didn’t really feel comfortable with it, so moved on. Mireille helped me see how to keep the visual lines clean so your eyes aren’t arrested or derailed, and its rework shows improvement. The other is clearly (to me, anyway) another iteration of the Texas oak tree. The goal was broken color that is incorporated throughout, like Cezanne, but clearly…NOT. Definitely a different feel than the impressionist version. It was fun, though difficult, and prepared me more than I knew for my pumpkins.

My favorite acrylic is still probably The View of the Sea from Sts Maries de la Mer (shown at the bottom).

We also tried to branch out some in my media as well as my technique, and so worked some in watercolor. One thing I learned is that I don’t just dislike working in watercolor because it is difficult and uncooperative with a mind of its own; I actually don’t like watercolor because I just don’t much have fun with it. I enjoy a lightness and sense of being out of time with acrylic; watercolor is labor and a fun-sucker. I don’t know why this would be for me, because it is true even when the results are to my liking. I worked some en plein air, in the studio garden.

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Some other kind of tree.

 

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A rose tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A window in the countryside near me.

A window in the countryside near me.

I still prefer using my acrylics for something more like a watercolor effect. I’m still not sure I got the lighting effect right on this one, but not for lack of her trying to help me see it correctly! Still watercolor-y, but fun. I gave watercolor one last chance, though. I thought maybe if the usage was abstract enough I would quit trying to make it do what I want, and just how it turned out, no angst. I tried it with a portrait of my cat, inspired by a cat portrait on pinterest.

Cat 1 and Cat 2.

Cat 1 and Cat 2.

The first attempt was on the left, which didn’t quite do what I was looking for, but came close. So I tried again, using more water. Bad idea! Mireille gave me the confidence to try to salvage it, the cat on the right is inferior in many ways, even after her help.

So that’s my exposition. Prof Mireille pronounced my stage a success. I do think what I gleaned has been quite effective. What do you think of my progress? Is my work showing more life and vibrancy than before?

 

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The Winners’ Circle

Not that all my little artists aren’t winners; they ARE. But here is the full collection of the select few that were submitted to The Gathering of the Talents.

The two ceramic plates aren’t shown here, one of which received an Excellent, and the other a Superior. The seahorses on the right have a purple ribbon, though a blue dot.

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Often The Fine Arts Need an Audience

We are encouraged and blessed when others receive what we communicate as artists. Someone “gets” us. And so our school’s fine arts program every year is well supported and received. We begin with a musical program, which this year’s music teachers really outdid theirselves on. It was all worship music, and it was just extraordinary to hear the children lifting up praise for twenty minutes. What an awesome job they did! My own son is the tall one in back.

Choirs, with art gallery behind.

Theo singing LOW.

The kids’ art lined the gym: China, Japan, the ocean and Concordia winners. The kids who wished to, made a takehome of Cherry Tree blossoms, drawing a branch with oil pastels and stamping 5-petaled blossoms of pink and white tempera with the bottom of a 20-ounce water bottle. Good times!

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Show Time!

April is a month of reckoning for elementary artists. This is when their artworks are put up for all the world to see. For us, it began with the district art show, and included both school students and homeschool students. Selected pieces are hanging on the walls of the city library, along with other schools in the disctrict. This one gets the kids excited because everyone can easily see their art on display, and they get to see it with the art of lots of other kids.

The outside two artworks are my students'.

And again, the outside two are my students'.

And I just returned from the big regional art competition Concordia University hosts for young art students at their associate schools in a five-state area. Our students showed very well, with one outstanding purple ribbon, and four out of every five artworks a blue ribbon.

The Cubist Mantis wins a blue!

To be terribly honest, with today’s gas prices, this was painfully expensive to participate in. I don’t see it as a given in the future.

And this week I am mounting (and finishing) art projects for our school’s fine arts show, to be held next Thursday. What a month! Maybe a little TOO intense. But it’s worth it for the kids, right?

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The Last Art Show Post

Some of our Concordia entries with ribbons attached.

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Art Show Take 2

Trying for more photos of the art show, seeing as how I have some Saturday time to wrestle with them if there is a problem again.

Burch-style cats

Lots of exhibits, including ceramics, and a take-home activity:

Cupcakes

Making art on the spot

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Building Little Artists’ Confidence

So as I mentioned, my son and I attended The Gathering of the Talents in Nebraska this weekend. I had submitted art of over 20 students in this competition. We not only have never competed before, but this is really just our first full year with an art program. Therefore, the learning curve for me has been steep: what will judges look for? how to best mount this art for display? ship it? how to communicate with parents and get them on board?


Now I’ve seen it, guesstimating at least 800 entries, and I am celebrating my fabulous little artists! Every artist would be awarded a ribbon, so I knew it couldn’t hurt. But I hoped and prayed that a number of them would receive better than the basic “good” ribbon. Nothing feeds the fires of inspiration better than a knowledgeable neutral party recognizing your efforts. And having a goal to work toward beyond the Spring Fine Art Show can encourage a better quality work. I know there are some schools of thought that diminish the value of all competition, but I disagree. A fair and balanced atmosphere of gentle competition in an overall environment that recognizes each student for their strengths builds confidence. It also provides a kind of feedback that can improve skills. I was excited to be invited to this arts festival, and now I am delighted to have gone! Some photos of our participants:

Every student received at least a “superior” ribbon! Extraordinary work, Faith artists!

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