I finished two new paintings and made faulty photos of them. They are posted under the 'paintings' tab. The one below is going to be in the Art Division charity art auction on Saturday May 16. It is quite small, although the other is even smaller. They are both very blue. The depth and translucency of the colors show up so poorly in photographs. The camera only catches the reflections.
Song Without Sound oil on canvas over panel 2015
This little one gets to stay home. The stars in Gia's dream are 'Canis Major,' the watchdog of the sky. Sometimes when she sleeps she speaks in dog tongues and twitches her feet as though she is running. 'Canis Major' is Orion's dog, following at his swift and starry heels as he hunts the night.
Deep Blue Dream oil on panel 2015
HomeMaker graphite on paper 2013
What I do is care. To make representational art is to care about one's subjects. To make art is to care about living.
Care can be a weight. A burden of care.
Care is what a wife does. What a sibling does. What a daughter does.
I take care.
I care for animals, I care for plants. I take care of the laundry, the garden, the mending, the groceries, the cleaning, and the organizing.
I care for Gia, she cares about me. I care for Ryan, he takes care of me. I care for my mother, she cares for me.
At the end of a letter, the words: take care.
I care for my paintings and eventually they come into being.
Life is a list of cares. To care is to hurt. Caring makes one tired. Caring makes things matter. Care is attention.. Care is a natural response. To care is to work. Care is love at work.
You can't live without caring.
JSW Turner The Blue Rigi, Sunrise watercolor on paper 1842
My husband and I were lucky enough to go to the opening of the new Getty exhibition: 'Turner: Painting Set Free.' It was more lovely than I had expected, given I have only seen his two paintings at the Huntington Gardens previously. To see his work, row upon row, showed his strength in repetition and variation upon a theme: the watery, steamy, moist atmosphere carried from painting to painting, some calm, some tumultuous, some finished, some barely started. His paint was simultaneously remarkably transparent and remarkably thick. He seems to have been a precursor to Bonnard in his practice of placing an empty space or a void at the center of the canvas. The paintings glowed.
But it was his watercolors that were most revelatory to me. I have never seen watercolor used so deftly, not even by Sargent or Winslow Homer. His watercolors were fresh and light and luminous. Some were as detailed as his oil paintings, but with even greater transparency and movingly delicate brushwork. But the quickest and lightest of his watercolors on display, a set of paintings made on the spot of the tower of London burning at night, were also among the most vivid. They felt so immediate still, as though you were watching the flames reflected across the water across more than a hundred years of time. The sparks still falling, the colors still bright.
JMW Turner Fire at the Grand Storehouse of the Tower of London watercolor on paper 1841
Sleeping While it Rains pen and ink on paper 2015
The dogs are ready models in the studio. Whether I am busy and productive or slow and discouraged, I can rely on one or the other to keep me company, sleeping or watching me drowsily from the pile of blankets and pillows that makes up their bed. Mimi's health has been poor for some months now, so I am trying to make more sketches and drawings of her, although she doesn't make it easy, because as soon as I have sketched in her body and have started detailing her fur she gets up and leaves the room. Sometimes I wait and finish the fur later, when she has come back for another session of sleep. Other times I stay with the original duration of the sketch, knowing it took as long as her nap would comfortably allow, and that the lack of finish in the drawing is a trace of how swift the moment of drawing (and sleeping) passed.
Dan McCleary Protection oil on canvas 2009
I have been reading the new book 'Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life,' by Karen Armstrong, who was a nun before she became a renowned religious historian who wrote 'A History of God,' among other books. In 'Twelve Steps' she says that "one of the chief tasks of our time must surely be to build a global community in which all peoples can live together in mutual respect," and goes on to emphasize the importance of compassion in building that community of peace.
Reading it made me think of a show my husband and I went to see two weeks ago. Dan McCleary: Every Day Sacred is at the USC Fisher Museum of Art until March 7th. What strikes me most about Dan's work is how respectful it is of its subjects, and how compassionate his gaze is towards the friends/strangers/'other' who he depicts. I worked for Dan for a time as a model and as a drawing teacher at his program for young adults called Art Division. Dan is indeed as compassionate and kind as his artwork suggests. He is one of those not "motivated by self-interest, a truly humane person. . . oriented toward others," as Karen Armstrong describes a little later in her book. His portrait paintings and drawings show "a consistently empathetic consideration of others (which) can introduce" the viewer of his artwork "to a dimension of existence that transcends our normal self-bound state."
His paintings allow us the chance to share a gaze or gaze upon another person depicted with respect as mystery, going about their life in the shared, private and sometimes anonymous spaces we all inhabit. It is what I like most about them, that sense of silence, connection, distance, intimacy, and reflection. They are very beautiful in person. Dan's colors are fresh and surprising, and his application of paint is thoughtful. If you are in LA, I would recommend making the effort to go to the Fisher Museum before the end of the week as well worth your while.
Dan McCleary Panel Discussion oil on canvas 2011 (that is twenty-one year old me in the middle of the table, wearing a gold pendent. The other models are, from left to right: Javier, Robert, me, Emmanuel, Wilbur, and Ajax)