Project 2 at Lehman College painting class…Landscape. My favorite theme. Using a photo I took of the lake at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx I wanted to create a stylized painting on a panel. I used a sponge brush only. More muted colors than I usually use. Acrylic on panel board 18″x24″.
Then I painted a companion piece focusing in on a detail of the photo. Acrylic on stretched canvas 11″x14″.
I found that I achieved a more painterly effect with canvas than on board. Such fun painting at Lehman College. What’s next??
Lately I’ve been cognitively challenged in respect to painting. I am turning 67 in August so I am wondering if my mind is more confused now. However, artists should always be welcoming the ups and downs in their creative process if they want to be good.
I decided to challenge my challenge by enrolling in a painting class at Lehman College in the Bronx. Now I’m out of my comfort zone and doing a reset as a beginner. My theory is when I’m stuck revert back to being a beginner. Now every Thursday morning I take the crowded BX10 bus and show up at 9:30 am even when my mind says “I don’t wanna”. Even when there isn’t an inspirational thought in my head. I get to the studio and work on a painting project that is dictated by the professor. This gets me out of doing it my way. Humility. Now I stare at a blank canvas with a blank mind. God what can I paint??? I have to paint my first self portrait. Ugh. Just do it Jean. Whatever comes out comes out. So here is my first self portrait in acrylic.
I have experienced something different about how I am painting. I never know what is going to appear on the canvas. I used to be very determined when I sat down to paint. The vision appeared in my mind instantly and I went to work in a fury finishing each painting in 2-3 hours.
I don’t know what happened to my brain but I actually am more cautious when I paint. I am in slo-mo mode. I have no vision. I am not inspired. But I have to work to keep up and improve my skills. So this painting began on Wednesday. Still working on it.
However, I noticed that the style is not my usual style. People always say my work looks like Van Gogh. This painting reminds me of Henri Rousseau! And I’m not a fan of Rousseau. Go figure. It’s still a work in progress. Who knows what will happen. Kind of fun.
Here’s me and Rousseau.
You can’t make this stuff up! Artists who created paintings from the spirit world!
It was called the “Second Great Awakening “. The American Spiritualism Movement originated in Lily Dale and Rochester New York in the early 19th century teaching communion with the dead. Reflecting on “Romanticism ” it was based on enthusiasm, emotion and an appeal to the “Supernatural “. The clergy were mediums – lay folk who believed they had the ability to speak for loved ones who had passed.
I have known about seances, table-rapping, ghost photos,etc. However, I just learned there were mediums capable of creating paintings through the spirits of the dead. This group of artists deserve to have their stories told. I will be posting a series on these artists. Today the Campbell brothers.
CAMPBELL BROTHERS – 1898 – 1926
In the spiritualist community of Lily Dale, New York the Campbell brothers Allan and Charles found their calling as mediums. Not truly brothers, Charles was born Charles Shourds, it was believed by many they were a gay couple. But the Spiritualist Movement of Enlightenment accepted all especially the psychically gifted.
The brothers talents included spirit portraits created in pastel or oils. Allan acquired a spiritual guide called Azur. In 1898 during a session Allan channeled Azur’s spirit on a 40″ x 60″ oil painting. He never touched the canvas. The room was dark with a minimum light enough for those present to witness the portrait emerging. To ensure there was no fraud each guest was encouraged to place personal marks on the back of the canvas. Allan, in a trance, commanded Azur’s portrait and during this time it gradually developed as the guests watched in awe. I have to say Allan/Azur were fast. The portrait appeared in great detail in 90 minutes! I thought I was fast working in 2 hours. Here is the portrait.
The Campbells were never arrested for fraud as some other mediums were. The paintings are in the Lily Dale museum. Was it a hoax??? I kind of like believing it is not. Oh well.
Can I conjure up a spirit painting???
The book “Precipitated Spirit Paintings ” by Ron Nagy goes in depth on spiritual painters. Check it out on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Precipitated-Spirit-Paintings-Ron-Nagy/dp/1931942277/ref=pd_sim_14_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=417YDJAY66BXTZ5M9V6K
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.
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.
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
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!!!