THE ART OF HUMILITY: THE PORTRAIT OF DORIAN GRAY BY OSCAR WILDE

Disclaimer: this is a post with a political opinion that is my own. Please do not continue if you agree with President Trump’s recent comments on Charlottesville. I accept everyone’s right to their beliefs.

My blog is an artist blog and after the events of Charlottesville last weekend I saw the President in an Oscar Wilde novel called “The Portrait of Dorian Gray”. It’s a classic story of a corrupt narcissistic young man who barters a deal with the devil to remain youthful and handsome forever. It’s a story of “it’s better to look good than feel good “. Dorian Gray has no humility. A wealthy society man who cares only about himself he commissions a portrait of himself. He fantasizes about how great it would be if he could remain youthful while the painting would age as each year passes.

I recommend the 1945 film with George Sanders and Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray.

Dorian and Trump are no different and I am watching the President deteriorate as each day passes. Dorian becomes more self centered and corrupt. He is engaged to a society woman but she is too proper to deflower before marriage. He engages a lower class show girl to satisfy his sexual needs lying about his intention to marry her. When she becomes pregnant he murders her. His portrait meanwhile gets more grotesque as he becomes more evil. He hides the painting in the attic to avoid seeing the truth of who he is.

I see this happening to Trump. The murder of Heather Heyer is the blood on his hands because he has dog whistled the neo nazis, the white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan to become bolder. And how narcissistic of Trump to not acknowledge her death. To not go to Charlottesville to speak to her parents. He said more good things about the extremists and not one word about Heather. SHAME ON YOU NARCISSISTIC TRUMP. YOUR PORTRAIT IS SHOWING YOUR SINS.

MIND OF AN ARTIST: STUDY A BLADE OF GRASS

My mind is a monkey mind.

I know it's my ADHD. There is a quality of my life that resembles a circus. I'm always trying to train those monkeys to perform the right way. Okay you guys get yourselves in order.

I actually become the lion tamer trying to force my creativity to perform. Not only to perform but to kick ass perform.

Here's where pressure to be a creative genius sets in. In other words here comes the artist block! I HAVE TO DO THE BEST PAINTING OR DO NOTHING! So I do nothing.

The monkeys are doing nothing so out of boredom they start to act out. Avoidance creates havoc and chaos. I end up hating myself for being unproductive. It's a great big circus ring ready to explode.

My thinking is creativity needs to be a high experience with lots of bells and whistles going off. There's no sanity. There's no peace. Every work of art has to be created from a psychedelic experience. Don't forget I come from the original hippie lifestyle. The Magical Mystery tour. But it's becoming clear that flying by the seat of exploding pants is not working.

So that is why I am choosing to study a blade of grass. Slow down get off the merry go round. Be a quiet painter. I cannot be a superhuman artist. Study a blade of grass.

Here are plein air paintings done with the mindset of "study a blade of grass ".

START WITH A DOODLE:  WATERCOLOR PAINTING 

So again I have been in a creative block.  I was reminded of the quote by artist Chuck Close regarding artistic inspiration.  

“AMATEURS LOOK FOR INSPIRATION, THE REST OF US JUST GET UP AND GO TO WORK “

Can’t argue with that!!!   So I called upon my formula for breaking paralysis… START WITH A DOODLE!

I have a wonderful portable watercolor kit created to take anywhere.  A pouch filled with portable brushes and an assortment of wonderful pots of special paints.  An inexpensive set of watercolors.  Tiny tubes of gouache. Paper towels. And a 9″ x 12″ pad of cold pressed watercolor paper. Easy travel and easy clean up.  


Here is the doodle and I really got into working and playing the colors and the liquid flow of the medium.   And from the doodle two exciting and free expressive paintings. 



 

A WOMAN ARTIST OF A CERTAIN AGE 

So we all know Grandma Moses as being the most famous woman artist over 50.  We respect her talent and giggle about her being a grandmother who was a self taught artist whose art hangs in many museums and auctions for big bucks.  I don’t know of any other woman artist so celebrated in this age group.  Please feel free and let me know if there are women artists who were successful after the age of 50. 


I began showing my art at the age of 56.  I came out of a 30 year artist block then.  I went back to the Art Students League in NYC to study.  The first thing I noticed was some of the male instructors would ignore me but were very helpful to the younger women.  Most of the monitors were young men.   So I became aware of being a second class citizen.  I want to say that I did get enormous support from a small group of instructors with integrity.  Thank you Michael Burban, Oldrich Teply, Dean Hartung Max Ginsburg, Barney Hodes.  

I did my first group art show of my paintings in the Chelsea Room in the infamous Chelsea Hotel in 2010.  That night was very exciting and as I looked around I noticed that I was the only woman artist in the show.   And the only artist over 35!  But I engaged the younger men and I never thought I was too old.  After all an artist is an artist.  Now after many years of showing my work I still am the oldest woman artist in group shows.  Some of the young artists ignore me and some engage me as another artist.  Sometimes they talk to me like a mother.  


But the idea of being a creative woman of age has been a bee in my bonnet (talk about an old phrase, yikes!).   There is a lot of age and gender discrimination in the art world.   However, I push through it and have been successful for 10 years as a professional woman artist (of age).  I don’t feel any difference because I’m good at my art and I don’t feel old next to anyone.  We are equal with respect to being artists.   And I do command respect for my talent.  I also respect the talent of any artist.  

I will continue to celebrate who I am:  a talented ageless woman artist.  Never stop pursuing being the artist you are. 

Thank you Grandma Moses. 



The MIND OF AN ARTIST:  THE RETURN OF THE JEDI

In another galaxy away from my blog for many months, I have been reclaiming my true self mentally.  I had to withdraw from the world in order to get off a very powerful and destructive antidepressant I had been on for 16 years.  

DISCLAIMER:  This is my story and I am not endorsing that antidepressants are bad and everyone has to stop talking them. Please follow your doctor’s advice.  Never stop cold turkey.  It’s extremely dangerous. 

Okay so I have been on psychiatric medication since the 1960s off and on.  The reason was I had childhood trauma.  They have been helpful for many of those years. However, I’m 65 now and many things physically are different.  The last 16 years on the last medication was actually too long and I was becoming less productive in the last year.  I started to experience more fear and anxiety.  Less creativity.  Withdrawal from people.   More drugs were added and I got worse. I was under the drug spell.  Believing that the drug was better than no drug.  Until I went to pick up the latest drug and the pharmacist said the co-pay was $283!!!! For one month!!!!  Faced with maintaining the suppression of depression or paying rent and eating I pushed the drugs back to the pharmacist and said “I don’t need these thank you “.   Called my psychiatrist and said I’m over all these chemicals that are making me feel numb.  I m over being dependent on meds that have me spellbound.  So she didn’t try to change my mind and she agreed to wean me off.

It took 5 months of being dizzy, having brain zapping, leg pain, insomnia, anxiety, days when I couldn’t leave my house because I was not able to feel grounded.  But today it’s 46 days clean!!!

46 days and I am seeing that I am not a depressed person.  I stopped being depressed after I went back to doing my art.  I do experience down times which is life but I embrace them.  I am using exercise, diet, mindful practice, and walking in nature as my antidepressant.  Another thing I became aware of was the depression I experienced had a lot to do with the anxiety of my untreated ADHD.  So now I’m just treating my ADHD with less medication since I have stopped the antidepressant.  I’m a different person today. 

I did accomplish some wonderful things last month.  A successful art show and sale. Preparing a iPad art workshop for the National Association of Women Artists for June.  And this summer I am mentoring a 10 year old girl in art.   And I negotiated a workshop for young men leaving prison to learn to create art on their iPads. The organization is called Getting Out and Staying Out.  

I am the Jedi Artist who has returned!

                                      THE ART SHOW 

 

THE WITHDRAWAL PAINTINGS 




 

ART & DEATH – THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF CANADIAN PAINTER TOM THOMSON

I love a good murder mystery.  But you never think artists are involved in such mysteries.  Artists are too busy doing their art in solitude.  So I bought an out of print book at the Strand bookstore in Union Square New York.  This artist, Tom Thomson’s paintings were mesmerizing!!!  “The Best of Tom Thomson” by Joan Murray (1986) is the book I bought and I never read the book and just looked at the pictures.  I do that a lot.   Then I decided to read about him as a possible blog post.  Well it turns out Tom Thomson’s story ends with his mysterious death that has never been solved even with the coroner’s report of accidental drowning. His death has been researched for decades and many conspiracy theories have been written about.  So WHO IS TOM THOMSON?


This is a story of a talented artist who could never believe in his talent. 

ITS A STORY OF A TORTURED MIND OF DOUBT.  

He would refer to himself as the “Bum Artist “.  When visitors came to see his work in his studio he would welcome them with “Come in and see my junk”.

Tom Thomson did acquire iconic status as a wilderness painter in Canada even before his tragic death in 1917. 

 He is considered the most influential painter of the 20th Century.  It was Thomson’s style that inspired the creation of the GROUP OF SEVEN “ wilderness landscape painters in 1920.  

His best known paintings are “THE WEST WIND” and “THE JACK PINE ” shown below.

THE WEST WIND oil on canvas


 THE JACK PINE    1916-17 oil on canvas

Tom Thomson has been called the Van Gogh of Canada.  He was tall, dark and handsome always far too shy and humble. And his death came much too soon at the age of 39. 

My next post on Tom Thomson’s death and how it continues to be a mystery centuries after will delve into the many theories.   

Resources:  www.wikipedia.com.     http://Www.canadianmysteries.ca

MORE SHALL BE REVEALED. 

THE SLAVE PORTRAIT PAINTER “PRINCE DEMAH BARNES “

I love history and art.  But I had never heard this amazing story of a slave who became a professional portrait painter in 18th century America.  I found the story on OUT OF THE ARCHIVES – a blog exploring the Archives at the Hingham Heritage Museum.  
Henry Barnes was a distiller and manufacturer of pearl ash.  He and Christian were members of Marlborough’s financial elite and in the early 1770’s owned 3 slaves.  Prince was the son of their slave Daphney.   I’m not sure when Prince’s artistic talent became known but eventually he was supported by Christian Barnes who seeing his genius had Henry purchase Prince with a view towards improving his genius in painting “. 

PORTRAIT OF CHRISTIAN BARNES BY PRINCE DEMAH BARNES 


In a letter by Christian she writes:

“Prince is here and I am sitting to him for my picture.”

A month later in November 1769 Prince is purchased by Henry Barnes with the intention to educate and improve his talent. 

HENRY BARNES BY PRINCE DEMAH BARNES 


In 1770 Christian Barnes wrote:

Prince is “a most surprising instance of the force of natural genius for without the least instruction or improvement he has taken several faces which are thought to be very well done. He has taken a copy of my picture which I think has more resemblance than Coping’s. [sic].   She is referring to the famous 18th century portrait painter John Singleton Copley. 

So Prince is the first African-American professional artist in America!   For approximately 10 years he had a career as an artist.  When the Revolution came the Barnes fled and Prince enlisted in the Massachusetts militia as a free man. He was now called Prince Demah (removing “Barnes “).  He died from either smallpox or another disease on March 1778. In his will he left all he had to his mother Daphney. 

PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM DUGUID BY PRINCE DEMAH 


An amazing artist story. Never judge a person by the color of their skin but by the content of their character!!!





FROM THE DEPTHS OF WITHDRAWAL…MY LATEST PAINTING 

In the past few weeks my painting has morphed into an abstract landscape that is a new style from my impressionist one. 

The truth is that in the last 4 months I’ve been withdrawing from a very powerful antidepressant after being on it for 16 years.  Last year I realized how it was making me worse and I am not depressed anymore.  So powerful is this drug that my brain has zapping which feels like electrical shocks are piercing the cells. I’m dizzy, have brain fog and my legs cramped so badly I couldn’t walk for 3 weeks.  But now the real me is emerging.  I can finally feel myself coming out. 

So I actually did this painting in withdrawal. And I also did the previous painting in withdrawal.  And the experience was a struggle to focus my vision (blurred vision was a part of withdrawal).  But here it is.  I believe the real me is finally emerging. 

                           STAGE ONE 

        

                                                 STAGE TWO




THIS IS THE FINISHED PAINTING!!!