Saturday, June 21, 2014

inspiration: St Louis Zoo and Art Museum




I am just back from a road trip to St Louis, MO, where my family had a beautiful reunion. I got to see my father and all of my siblings and their kids, plus a lot of family. 

One special treat while in St Louis was going to Forest Park, the site of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and centennial celebration, but more commonly known as the 1904 World's Fair. You can read more about the fair here.

As we walked around the zoo and the art museum, I kept humming to myself the song, "Meet Me In St Louis." Appropriate, since my grandfather's name was Louis and he went by "Louie" and it was this grandfather's children and family that gathered... 55 participants!

I loved the zoo (and not just because admission was free!). Their gorilla habitat was wonderful and I spent a lot of time observing these majestic animals and sketching them. It was tough to sketch them, though, because every time one of them got close to the observation window, he would sit down with his back to us people. It struck me as an act of utter contempt. Wow. 

The art museum was grand all together, but especially grand in its huge entrance hall.




I especially enjoyed this Monet painting.

And this Modigliani.
St Louis is a special town and I look forward to going there again. Maybe next time, it won't be 92 degrees with 90% humidity. That was a little hard to take. The best part of the trip was seeing my father again. I am not sure that he knew me, but I knew him, held his hand, talked to him and loved the chance to see him again.

Love you, Dad.


"Meet Me in St Louis." Maybe you will hum the theme song, too.



Saturday, May 31, 2014

working a design while on anchor, Oak Harbor

When we are anchored, I try to find landscape scenes that interest me. At Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island, I heard an eagle and while I watched him hunt, I noticed these evergreen trees on the spit.

From the sketch, I created these two Notan paintings with watercolor. I like both of these design plans and may work up some larger paintings from them. 

I can sense the rhythm of the water from these paintings. It's sometimes the only music necessary.

Monday, May 26, 2014

museum inspriration: Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum

9" x 9" watercolor and ink
This week, at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, I saw sculpture by David Eisenhour that blew my socks off! His bronze and stone sea forms were staged in groups and some alone in such a way that I wanted to respond to them. I had to respond. I looked at them, again and again, circled them to see all sides, and wandered around the exhibit many times. In my sketchbook, I listed some sea forms that I wanted to explore myself. And soon! The BIMA is only one year old and if you haven't made a stop there yet, it's worth every moment. Admission is free. Truly great work there!

But, before I could respond to the Eisenhour sea forms, we were cruising the Sound and then tying up at the public dock in La Conner, where I toured the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum. This is a favorite stop for me, not because I am a quilter, but because I love the variety and imagination of art quilts. And, though I do not sew, I have gone into many quilt shops to fondle the "fat quarters" just for the joy of color and texture.

What a treat it was to discover fiber artist Marianne Burr and her work on the third floor of the museum! The work is as colorful and delightful as she is. All of her work is done on silk which she has handpainted and then stitched. It's really a painting that has been stitched to wool batting and then backed/framed with more fabric. It's enough to make me want to sew.

In the meantime, though, time to reflect and respond and you see some of that in the sketch above. Sea forms, glorious color and whimsey, and "stitches" of ink marks.

Variations on a Shaker Melody, Aaron Copland.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

museum inspiration: Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA

Jen Elek and Jeremy Bert at The Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA


Sometimes, when walking through an art museum exhibit (or gallery exhibition), I feel a buzz of energy that makes my hair stand on end. It is not only a function of the artwork I view, but where I am in my head, what I have been doing with my own artwork, and my openness to looking at something new. That buzz can be the start of a cascade of changes that results in new art ideas and practices.

Earlier this month, I felt a buzz when at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA.





Even the exterior of this museum is exciting, with the enormous metal cone venting the "hot shop" where furnaces keep about 1000 pounds of glass 2400 degrees Fahrenheit!

Even better, inside the hot shop you can watch artists make their glass creations live, or you can stream it. It reminds me of some of my early Catholic lessons on hell and damnation.


Lenny Kravitz "Whole Lotta Love."


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

something right, something wrong

Drawing with a pen is a commitment. No taking it back, just keep on going.

Staedtler Pigment Liner pen on smooth paper in a Robert Bateman sketchbook.

When I first started to play jazz, after years of studying and playing a classical piano repertoire, I floundered. I kept thinking that there were "right" notes and "wrong" notes and it was my job to play the right ones. One of the intriguing aspects of jazz is the function of a "wrong" note to lead back to a "right" note in the ears of the listeners, even if the "right" note is not played.

These figure drawings are like jazz. A little something right, a little something wrong, and I trust your eyes to lead you in the best direction.

Ella Fitzgerald sings "Desafinado." Something slightly out of tune, on purpose, with this song!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

drawing and bravura, a musical connection

I am back at figure drawing and the joy of the contour. 

No sketchy marks of approximation in this drawing. Just a bold line moving across the page, describing the model. When I wasn't satisfied with the drawing on the left, I started again to the right and addressed those aspects that did not satisfy me in the first. I held the same mindset with the second drawing: let a single line carry the form to completion.

With that thought, the word "bravura" came into my mind and was back in my own 40 year piano playing experience base.

Of course, when learning a new piece of music, there's a time for figuring out the notes and stopping at mistakes and correcting them (the "sketchy marks"), but sometimes a bravura play through is what's needed. Needed because it gives the sense of the bigger picture, the scope of the work, the whole.
Ever since I started art making in 2005, I have considered how art and music are alike. And I've hoped to find connection points between my art making and piano playing so that one could inform the other. With this experience in figure drawing, I have found a connection point. 

When I was learning this piece of music, even a rough play through was exciting! Gershwin Prelude No. 1 B flat major.


Friday, April 25, 2014

artists' forum at Trinity

Artists' Forum at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
147 NW 19th Ave
Portland, OR
 
Sunday, April 27, 2014
9:00 am-- 10:00 am

Come see and hear the artists of PDX Women in Abstract Media share their art journeys and talk about their paintings in a casual setting at Trinity Cathedral. Maybe you have a question? Ask away!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

non-Apron painting

The "Apron Stirrings" show continues to hang and draw positive and excited comments. But, now, for a break from Aprons!

Everywhere I look, the Spring flowers are filling the landscape with color and pollen. Timing is everything when you paint between sneezes.

Since my acrylic paints are still out, I continued with them for this subject. The painting sat on my easel for a couple of weeks, unfinished, and unsatisfactory, with no line work. Then, one day I saw it and thought about my India ink and decided to "wreck" it. The lines brought focus and depth to what were good shapes but a boring painting.

Spring? Oh, yes. Bring it on!



The Lumineers "Flowers in Your Hair."



Sunday, April 6, 2014

what stirs beneath the aprons

 Opening night of "Apron Stirrings" was fun and interesting to see and hear people respond to my paintings. 

And it gave me a chance to talk to people about the work, too. The open exchange of ideas is always stimulating and this night was no exception.



A Little Bit about “Apron Stirrings”

For the last several years, I have experimented with abstraction and ways to communicate in my paintings without being anchored by traditional representations of subjects. 
 
In “Apron Stirrings” you see part of my experimentation. Only two things remain constant in this series: a very real subject (Bill Park’s printing apron) and a limited palette (Cadmium Yellow, Quinacrodone Red, and Pthalo Blue). From there,  I let the paintings flow and develop over the course of a year. 

Communication involves not only the artist, but the viewer. What you see and how you experience the relationships in the paintings is part of your personal life story.  There is no right or wrong story and I love that!

Although the series started with an apron, the paintings are not about aprons at all. They are about the complex dynamics of relationships. This is what stirs beneath the aprons.


In Bocca al Lupo Fine Art Gallery presents

 "Apron Stirrings"
Katherine van Schoonhoven

April 4 -- 27, 2014

2025 SE Jefferson Street
Milwaukie, OR 97222