Welcome fellow art lover

This blog has no agenda other than to reveal visual art as I see it. My opinions are my own although influenced by other artists. Even though this may be a venue for me to voice my opinions, at the end of the day, I do not expect others to hold the same ones. This a blog that expresses the nature of how I see art and the journey that led me to my opinions.

I am glad you came to join in the discussion.

E. Melinda Morrison

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The search for excellence: Joaquin Sorolla

This summer I traveled to Italy and tried every way possible to figure out how to get to the Joaquin Sorolla Museum in Madrid via Italy.  Since i was headed to Europe i though why not? Alas, it was just not possible to work it in, so the trip was put off for another time.

Joaquin Sorolla, (February 27, 1863 – August 10, 1923) was a Spanish painter living in Spain during the French Impressionists reign in France.  Studying in Spain, Rome and France as a young man, Sorolla became not only a prolific painting but a force to be reckoned with in the French Salons.   He won many awards for his works with his first medal of honor at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900.  Noted for his colors, painterly application and subject matter of his native lands and people, Sorolla painted enormous canvases plein air on the beaches of Spain.

Joaquin Sorolla is one of my favorite artists and I am glad to say, for the first time in many years a full exhibition of his work is at Dallas at Southern Methodist University's Meadows Museum.  The show runs until April 14th and contains many of his famous works, some of which I have put below.

If you are near Dallas or have the means to get there, you will not be disappointed.   Many times when I have been struggling in my own work, Joaquin Sorolla has provided the inspiration.  I hope if you get a chance to visit the Joaquin Sorolla Meadows' exhibit, your inspiration will soar.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A start to something

Today was a day I could have spent the whole day in my studio.  Lots of deadlines, paintings that need to be painted and shipped to meet expectations and so much to do.  It makes me tired just thinking about it.  I finish one deadline in order to be faced with another.  Where has the joy of just creating gone?

The weather is overcast and cold and you would think being inside and focused on creating would be the choice of the day.  Instead, I found myself not wanting to paint, hanging back and thinking about art instead of doing art.  The caution is when the days of not doing art become greater than the days of doing, but the point of this conversation is that sometimes you have to go with the flow of where you are despite all the expectations and deadlines staring you in the face.

My loyalties for this day are found in finding joy, and sometimes it means not showing up at the studio to paint.   I was always taught to show up even when you do not feel like it, and I still advocate that philosophy as a robust work ethic helps you achieve your goals.  The art of living as well as creating is just plain hard work and you have to show up to get it done.  For those of us who are driven, days off from painting to bake cookies, watch a movie, and write blogs can be what the doctor prescribes.  Those days are typically where new thought can come and new direction.  So it seems, this day has put me back in touch with an avenue I want to pursue.

Introducing my world of friends and followers to my work is an important part of this blog.  As I thought about what I wanted to accomplish in this blog though, I am weighted by the fact there is such a large realm of talented visual artists.  Many do not have the recognition they deserve, others have accomplished much in their careers.   I would like to introduce you to some of those artists--those who are reaching for high achievement in their artistic standards whether representational or abstract.

It should be a fun journey and my hope is that you will come along for the ride.  In the meantime, I am attaching a painting that I struggled through, put on the shelf for awhile only to come back and finish.  It is called for the "Pure Joy of It," 20 x 24.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The meaning of rich and full

Back in the late 1800s, the Impressionists were on to something.   The Parisians became familiar with this odd, at times raucous, group of artists who became known as the Impressionists and famous for their "en plein air," (French for in open air) painting.   It is not that "en plein air" had never been done before but painting became easier for artists in that time.  Paint became available in tubes and portable easels were built.  Artists could venture out.   Painting "en plein air" gave way to capturing life as they saw it in the streets, ballet schools, restaurants and parks of Paris and a camaraderie was built among each other.

Yesterday, I was a little discouraged by the economy and slow sales.  The thought of struggling through another larger painting to make sure it reached some level of perfection in my mind was just more than I could take for the day.  I grabbed my painting gear armed with with paintbox, tripod and camera, and out the door I went.   My neighborhood offers the best of Denver: quaint, lovely cafes and shops.  I ended up at a coffee and wine bar (Highland Coffee and Cork at 32nd and Meade) that offers a great patio and porch.  The weather was iffy so I chose the porch.

Some friends joined me fat te end of the day for a glass of wine on the patio while a small band started setting up their equipment for an evening of blue grass music.  A crowd had gathered and  that is when the clouds opened up.  We all ran inside to the small house where the wine bar was located and crowded into a warm, festive, cozy house dripping with coffeehouse ambiance.  The band started playing, and I grabbed my paints.  The house became a retreat of  savory music  and jovial laughter as small children danced around their parents and parents tapped their feet in rhythm.  The band played and I painted.

What discouragement I had was lifted by this diverse band of talented musicians called "Dr. Harlen's Amazing Blue Grass Tonic" http://www.reverbnation.com/drharlansamazingbluegrasstonic.  In the end, they realized I was painting them and were thoroughly delighted. 

A friend sent me an email that evening in an unrelated conversation and said, "your life is so rich and full."   I felt conflicted as I read that email. because I did not feel that way but knew she was right..  Sometimes I think my art is for me and what I get out of it.  Partly that is true but in fact its really for others.  Maybe that is what drove the Impressionists out into the streets of Paris to paint life as they saw it.  They figured out that half the fun was letting others experience that life through their impression of what they saw in those lively Parisian streets.  Sure they were trying to learn things about color, values, edges, texture, and etc., but the pure enjoyment of painting from life and experiencing life as they painted it was the elixir that filled them up from their art.  Their lives were rich and full.  

In that little cafe last night, I was reminded of that.  The Impressionists knew their share of discouragement as their art was not viewed favorably at times by the Parisian establishment, but the pure joy of painting and painting from life must have kept them going.  The moments I experienced in that little cafe where life swirled around me and where I couldn't throw paint on the canvas fast enough was enough to send the blues away.  That moment helped me remember that the life of an artist may not be an easy one, but it is rich and full.  For that I am grateful to be reminded.

So here's the deal.  I may not have much to say this summer other than this blog, but I am going to post my weekly events through acrylic studies.  I am hoping you can experience what I did as I paint them.  Besides, it will keep me accountable for plein air painting each week as I have made a promise to you for this summer:)  Others feel free to share your paintings also!

E. Melinda

Monday, May 10, 2010

Results or process

Virginia is the "other" God's country (Colorado shares the title).  A land filled with mountains, clean air, picturesque landscape and quaint towns that whisper the history of our American roots.  I have been in Virginia this past week to paint with my friend, Nedra, who took the courage to email me 3-1/2 years ago asking if I would come and teach her to paint.   Nedra and her husband, Hugh, live a few miles from Washington, VA where George Washington imitated his career as a surveyor.  Their stone house built in 1747 overlooks rolling hills, groomed fields of luscious green, flowered-filled pastures and thick forests where farming use to be the way of life during the Civil War.  As the wind swirls, I swear I can hear history's ramblings all around me from the battles of the American Revolution and Civil War.

How Nedra and I met is a story in itself.  If I had not taken a risk of responding to a lady in Virginia via email or Nedra had not taken the courage to write me, I would have missed out on a lovely friendship that has provided us both encouragement in our art and new surroundings that push my painting skills beyond my comfort zone.  Living in dry Colorado where the light is stark (due to lack of moisture) and heading to lush countryside where moisture lurks in every nook and cranny is always a challenge for me.  But the thrill of painting plein air and being in a different setting energizes my painting juices.  12 painting later I am ready to head back to Colorado. 

I ended up with some successful paintings, but more importantly, I loved the process of painting them.  After a few days of decompressing from deadlines and frustration in my studio scraping lots of paintings, painting in plein air reminds me of how much I love painting.  It reminds me that sometimes I do not need to focus on the results but just enjoy the ride.  So get out there an paint!  Paint what you see and enjoy the process!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Acceptance of time

I am sitting in my chair this morning after a long rewarding but frustrating week of painting.  Soon I will head to my studio and have a go at it again.

Earlier this week, I was standing at my easel wanting to cuss and slash my canvas as I was working on a commission (which is not my favorite thing to do).   I was struggling with getting the painting to my standards.   My hand just could not do what my eye was seeing.  I finished that painting to start another painting and the same thing happened.  I scraped 3 times finally finishing a painting to some satisfactory level, although not completely satisfied.  I had a goal in mind.

That seems to be a battle for many artists both profient and not so proficient.  We may have an intention of what we want to accomplish in our paintings but do not know how to get there or we know how to get there and our hand does not follow our mind.  There are books you can read, formulas you can memorize, classes you can take but at the end of the day, the only way to achieve my goals as a painter (including the academics-drawing, color therory, shape quality, paint quality) is to paint, scrape, paint, and then scrape again and keep trying to get it right.  This is all in hopes that there will be weeks when there is less scraping and results are realized.

What I want I cannot have without more years of "brush miles" and experience.  I continue to focus on the academics of painting, connecting with my subject and create feeling in a painting, understanding the quality of light and how that affects my subjects in my painting-but I still need time and more experience to get to where I want to go.  Painting from what I see rather than what I know and getting it down on canvas is a learned process that only gets better with time.  

Richard Schmid is a master at painting.  He has a great academic background, and superb talent, but the time of painting for the last 50 years and painting much of his efforts from life has helped him achieve a level of painting I long for in my work.  I highly recommend his book, Alla Prima, if you are a struggling artist like myself who has high goals for your painting. http://www.richardschmid.com/book.html

Taking risks in your painting, learning from mistakes and getting more clear about what makes a good painting coupled with time and consistent effort is, in my humble opinion, are some of the keys to successful painting.   It does not happen overnight.  Time has to be involved.  Eventually I will come to accept that:)

Off to the studio!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sometimes you just have to keep pluggin along

Too much traveling, too much on my mind, too much to do and the overwhelming feeling of not being able to do enough.  That is how I felt yesterday.  I had just returned from a trip to Santa Fe over Thanksgiving and an art show in the gallery there where I show my work.  I was saturated with art (hard to believe) so the last thing I wanted to do was go to my studio.  But the need to make a dent in upcoming deadlines was looming over me.

So sometimes, you just have to show up.  That is half the battle. If you never show up, the greater possibility is that nothing will happen.  So I took a little trip to my studio with the intention of being there a few moments.   The results, a nice little painting.

One foot in front of the other is the way we all travel the road.  Some of us run, some of us trot and some of us crawl.  It was a crawling day that turned into a day of trotting just by showing up.

Tomorrow is another day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Plein Air Painting in Virgina, a lesson in values

Being from Colorado, whenever I leave the state and find myself painting where there is moisture in the air, it takes a little getting use to when I pull out my paints.  This was no exception when I headed to Virginia this past week to paint.  Lush rolling hills, pristine groomed pastureland, foxhound hunts, beautiful historic homes and pristine scenes were the subjects of my paintings for the last 5 days.  My friends Hugh and Nedra call Rappahanock County in Virginia their home and it always a treat to visit them.  Nedra s a fellow painter, so she and I spent four days running all over the countryside painting our hearts out.  There was a painting everewhere I turned.

Ok, back to the moisture subject.  The light in Colorado is stark and other than snow days, rarely will you see humidity lingering in the morning among the trees.  But the countryside of  Rappahanock County (just one hour NW of D.C.)  is what you can expect when you step out into the morning air.

The first day of painting, we started the morning with a cloudy day.  I was already assessing the colors and values in my head as we started out towards the woods.  Using acrylics again (they are just soooo easy to travel with), I knew it was going to be a push for me to get the values I desired.  I was up for the challenge, so I gathered my courage and stuck with it until I found the warm, earthy tones of a nearby creek against the coolness of the background.

Next stop was painting in the village of Little Washington.  Little Washington is about 30 to 40 minutes from Shenandoah Valley and just shy of the West Virginia border.  History murks in all the cracks and crannies of this little Virginia village.  One of the main points is a historic church that is now one of the two performing arts theatres in the town. 

Nedra and I set up mid-town to paint but there was a chilly wind.  We were bundled up for the occasion and the dropping temperatures made me paint quickly.  With some leaves left on a tree in front of the church, I
To bid on this painting, click here

could not resist the blue and orange composition against the bright white of the sunlight church.

So this week is the posting of my Virginia paintings.  For those interested, I am listing them on eBay.  If interested, click on the enclosed links and they will take you directly to the eBay selling site of the painting.

Stay tune for more paintings!