Tag Archives: Painting

2017 – A Blank Canvas by Sherrie Hansen

One of the highlights of 2016 for me has been that I’ve started to paint. I won’t say I learned to paint, because except for a 3-4 minute online tutorial on how to paint flowers and leaves, I haven’t had a teacher. I have had a lot of inspiration and encouragement, from both people and places. And somewhere, hidden deep inside me, there was evidently a smidgen of artistry waiting to be brought to life.

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A favorite quote from my favorite author, Maud Hart Lovelace, who wrote the Betsy Tacy books –  “Isn’t it mysterious to begin a new journal like this? I can run my fingers through the fresh clean pages but I cannot guess what the writing on them will be.” (from Betsy in Spite of Herself). For me, the new year has long been the time to start a new diary, write the first words in a blank journal, or begin a new book. I’ve always had a wild imagination, an abundance of curiosity, and plenty of thoughts and opinions. But painting has taken me to a whole new layer of creativity. Here’s why I like to think of 2017 as a blank canvas.

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When we write, we start out with white pages. When I paint, I begin with a stretched linen canvas, painted black. It provides a good base, a medium for blending, and the perfect contrast and background for other colors. Black separates the colors and keeps them from becoming muddled. It gives the painting a sense of unity. Unless you’re a lot younger and much more pristine than I am, it seems fitting to start out with a canvas that’s been woven, wet, starched and stretched, maybe even painfully so.

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To me, the black represents the past – triumphs and treasures, mistakes I’ve made and ongoing struggles. Much as I might wish that some of those events never happened, I realize that they’re the foundation of who I am, and that the finished painting will be many times more beautiful because of the richness of my past experiences and the things I’ve learned along the way. The wonderful thing about painting is that I can start out fresh and cover the background with colorful new dreams and experiences.

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I can paint whatever I like on my canvases. If I don’t like how they turn out, I can choose new colors, or alter the lines, or even start completely over again. There are no rules, no rights or wrongs, no preconceived notions to worry about. It’s all good.

Painting - Northern Lights

I don’t begin to know what 2017 will hold. I hope to see Golden Rod finished and published. All things considered, I feel a great sense of anticipation about what the year will bring. I wouldn’t be human if it wasn’t mixed with a little trepidation about what lies ahead. There are some significant milestones in store for me – a big birthday, and the 25th anniversary of the opening of my bed and breakfast and tea house.

BBI - Spring 2012

The important thing is that 2017 will be filled with all kind of opportunities – to choose the high road, focus on the good, to choose hope over despair, and people over technology – to be positive, and grateful, and loving and kind. Don’t be afraid to add some color to the mix. Create some new hues, try something you’ve never done before. Travel to new places and sing a new song or two. For the rest – “Brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. “ (Philippians 4:8)

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Wishing you many blessings and rich, colorful landscapes in 2017. It’s a blank canvas – why don’t you pick up your brush and paint!

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What Makes An Artist?

“Hey, Ruby, where is your fish?”

Six different colored koi and a smaller goldfish.

The fish they were referring to was a clay sculpture of a Koi that was about 3 feet long and weighed 30 pounds or more. It had been pit fired and had some nice blacks and reds on the white clay. Ruby had it for sale at every Christmas and Mother’s Day sale for the past 4 years.

“Oh, I sold that,” Ruby said, “so now I’m a real artist.”

It was a nice piece. Not to my taste, but that’s not the point. I don’t know what she got for it, but I wanted say, “Selling one sculpture doesn’t make you an artist, it makes you a merchant.” I didn’t say that, of course, but I wanted to.

But it got me to thinking – when does the artist become the merchant and vice versa? I have a friend that I think is a very good painter. He gets a reasonable amount of commissions and teaches at the college. I ran into him at the mall and said, “Well, Well, if it isn’t Norm the artist.”

His response was, “I’m a painter. That’s for sure. Whether or not I’m an artist we won’t know for another 50 to 100 years.”

His remark got me to thinking. What makes an artist? It is more than just loving to paint, or play an instrument, or even being artistic. There’s a big difference between being artistic and being an artist. Nor is it just loving art and involving yourself in some creative process.

I love working with clay but I know I will never be a ceramic artist. Someone said to me when I gave her a small sculpture I had made, “Oh, Paul, you’re such an artist.”

My response was, “No, my dear, at over 80 years of age I have neither the strength or the energy nor the 20 to 30 years it takes to be an artist.”

What does it take to be an artist? First I think it takes a love for what you are doing so for 20 to 30 years you immerses yourself in the medium, whatever that may be; painting, clay, stone, wood, violin, piano, guitar or whatever. But just that is not enough. Added to that dedication there has to be talent. And, I hate to say this, but a little bit of luck, or maybe a great deal of luck.

So, now that I’ve told you what I think an artist is, what is art? A ceramics student asked me the other day, “What is art?” My answer was, “Art is anything that enhances your world.” I think that’s true to an extent, whether it is a bridge or well-prepared food. In the visual arts for me it is something I look at and then have to go back and look at again. If after I’ve walked away it comes back to mind, then it is art, and the person who created it is an artist.

The Mona Lisa.

Almost everybody is familiar with the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Even as you read this the painting comes to mind. That is Art.

Three of my favorite artists are Salvador Dali, Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wythe. They are three very different painters and it is wonderful the strange times their paintings will come to mind. For Dali it is the melting clocks.

Rockwell did covers for Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker, painted presidents and other famous people but the one that comes to mind is a painting entitled, “Outward bound.” It has an old sailor, a boy and a dog sanding on shore looking at a departing ship.

"Christina's World" by Andrew Wyeth

With Andrew Wyeth it is “Christina’s world.” There is just something about that girl sitting in the field looking at the barn that haunts me, in a nice way, but for me there is something haunting about that painting.

As for me, well, My dear, I will never be an artist, but that doesn’t prevent me from loving to play in mud.

I told someone the other day, “You see I have a habit and selling my pottery supports my habit. My habit is writing.” I may not be an artist, but damn, I’m having fun pretending.

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Paul’s book The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is now available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99.

Since everything is copyrighted please feel free to re blog any of my posts.

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