Friday, September 25, 2009

No Concept

This pathetic little critter is our pet. He's guarding his favorite toy, a stuffed monkey. His pedigree in the dog world equals Prince Charles in the people world. He has taken it upon himself to roll in poo twice in the last three days.

The concept art isn't going so well...mainly because we aren't concept art types around here. At this point, anything I paint won't have time to dry before it's due for installation at Lawndale Art Center, so it's this concept idea, or nothing at all. The vote around here is nothing is preferable to the concept.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Beautiful Concept

Funny how recurring threads of conversation keep popping up, no matter the situation or crowd. At two separate parties, including the Post-Diversionist dinner (photo above), with two completely different sets of folks, the conversational theme centered around Art with regards to Beauty versus Concept. Had I been up to date on philosophical readings, I would have deferred to Kant and his view of aesthetics. The following paragraph is quoted from a wikipedia article on aesthetics.

Viewer interpretations of beauty possess two concepts of value: aesthetics and taste. Aesthetics is the philosophical notion of beauty. Taste is a result of education and awareness of elite cultural values; therefore taste can be learned. Taste varies according to class, cultural background, and education. According to Kant, beauty is objective and universal; thus certain things are beautiful to everyone.

Quoting wikipedia again...
Conceptual art is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. In conceptual art, the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work.

My own artist statement reflects my personal belief that without beauty, art is undefined. A concept, while often thought provoking (yet sometimes just plain baffling,) is, in my humble opinion, not necessarily art. That said, I'm working on a concept for a piece to be in Lawndale Art Center's upcoming Dia de los Muertos exhibit. I hope that, even though it is a concept, it will be recognized as beautiful, and therefore, art in it's own right.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Life is never short of misadventures. To say that the week has been unusual would be an understatement. Without going into details, suffice it to say that life, at the moment, is abundantly full.

One thing that I'm actually looking forward to and have been preparing for all week is a gathering of the Houston area Post-Diversionists for supper at our house this Friday evening. The Post-Diversionists are a collective of various artists from the Houston area who, for whatever reason, have all done individual portraits of Martin DeVore. Martin is an endlessly enthusiastic supporter of working artists in the Houston area and one of the founding members of the Post-Diversionists.

It will be my first time to meet several of the artists in the group. It will be their first time to try Sarah's Spaghetti Sauce. And yes, this time I'll remember to go easy on the cayenne pepper.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Angel Oak Tree

Almost all week I've been working on a painting for Angel Store, an exhibition featuring angels and benefiting the Justice for Children Foundation. Normally, I wouldn't even enter this type of exhibit, because painting angels isn't really my thing. But the cause is a good one, and a dear friend was incessantly persistent that I enter.

It must be fairly obvious by now (for regular readers) that I paint what I see. Honestly, I haven't seen any angels floating around the studio lately. So then, what to paint? After an extensive amount of Google-ing, I finally found something of interest. Instead of a traditional biblical angel, which are all artist renderings anyway, I decided to paint the Angel Oak Tree which incidentally is located in the Charleston, South Carolina area, not too far from where my little brother lives.

This painting is purposefully more lively and colorful that the norm (for me.) The look and feel I was intending to portray is other an angel.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Some Influences

As mentioned in a previous post, the weather has been unseasonably HOT in Houston this summer. So when some cooler dryer air blew in earlier this week, I took advantage of the opportunity to paint en plein air.

In the photo at right, I am putting some finishing touches on a painting of the lilies in our pond. Using water lilies as subject matter is undoubtedly influenced by the late great Claude Monet.

The next day I started this. It's meant to be in the style of Picasso's Self-portrait with a palette, 1906.

In our pseudo-library is a decent collection of art books, the numbers of which grow on a fairly regular basis. On the cover of one of the Picasso books is a close up of the Picasso self portrait. Generally, I'm not a fan of Picasso, but there's no doubt of his influence on the art world.

At a little more than 100 years later, I guess this one should be called Self-portrait, 2009. This is my offering of a smidgen of respect for Picasso's universal appeal, and my own intrigue at some of his more realistic works.

A note of observation: It was too muggy to paint outside when the self portrait was started, or I probably would have painted the lilies again. One can see how my hair got more frizzy as the day progressed. In the beginning, it was straight. By the end of the day, it was back to it's more normal puffy disheveled-ness.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


I have a confession to make.

When I was in college lo these many years ago, I was complicit in a not so nice trick played on a friend's house mate. The housemate (we'll call him Jim) was quite full of himself. Jim was certain he was the best ____ (fill in the blank) at everything he did. Jim made sure everyone within earshot knew about his many accomplishments. Jim was convinced that he was the best looking fella on campus. Jim knew that all "the babes" were in love with him, a topic of which he spoke with great frequency. (They weren't.) Jim would leave home every day at the same time and go for an hour bike ride. Jim would return, go to the pantry and take out a can of tuna. Jim would then open his tuna can with great flourish as he expounded on the numerous virtues of tuna. Jim would then fix a tuna fish sandwich for lunch. Jim was absolutely convinced that his tuna fish diet would turn him into a lean mean fighting machine (which it didn't.) This bike ride/tuna routine happened every clock work.

Well, my friend and I got a little (OK, a lot) annoyed at Jim's constant narcissism.

Back then, I don't know if it's the same today or not, I haven't checked lately, but back then, cat food cans looked remarkably similar to tuna fish cans.

One day during Jim's daily bike ride, my friend and I went to Star Market and bought a few cans of cat food. We then went home and with an X-Acto knife, carefully peeled the labels off the tuna fish cans and applied them to the cans of cat food...and put the cat food back exactly where the tuna had been before in the cupboard. Jim came home from his ride, and predictably, went to the pantry. Jim opened the can of cat food (with a tuna fish label) and fixed himself a sandwich, all the while delivering a sermon on the glory of all things Jim....and of course, the virtuous attributes of tuna.

Jim never noticed that he was eating cat food.

The reason for the confession is this: somewhere somehow, the universe remembered what I had done to Jim all those years ago. The universe decided that I needed a taste of my own medicine, so to speak. The universe played a trick on me.

What is undetectable in this photo is the spiciness of this particular batch of spaghetti sauce. My grave mistake in this batch of sauce was inadvertently adding cayenne pepper instead of chili powder. The jar was mislabeled. Even after adding more tomato sauce to the pot, it was still quite spicy. It's not the first time this has happened...though I do hope it's the last.

Sarah's Spaghetti Sauce

* 2 cans tomatoes
* 1 can tomato paste + 1 can red wine (with a little splash for the cook)
* 1 onion (grated or chopped)
* a few garlic cloves
* 2 t paprika (or a little more)
* 3 T olive oil
* 3 T brown sugar
* 2 t chili powder (NOT cayenne pepper)
* 1 T Worcestershire sauce
* 2 T ketchup

Combine all and simmer several hours. This, when prepared properly, (without cayenne pepper) is a family favorite.