My Summer Festival 2014

photo 4   photo 2   photo 1   photo 3

The universe and the light of the stars come through me. I am the crescent moon put up over the gate to the festival.

The soul at dawn is like darkened water that slowly begins to say THANK YOU, thank you.

I am not contained by this universe. RUMI

I hope you are all enjoying the summer of 2014 to the fullest – including whatever activities define your favorite summertime theme. God knows the international news is chilling, disturbing and so difficult to watch unfold. I cannot overestimate its importance….but from where I sit there is little I can do about it except to carefully choose accurate, unbiased media outlets and read the WordPress blog titled THE HUMAN PICTURE by my wise friend ShimonZ who lives in Jerusalem, hoping that he continues to stay safe, and offer us his first-hand accounts.  http://thehumanpicture.wordpress.com  How fortunate we are, here in the USA., and I am all too aware that it must not be taken for granted.

My own personal summer fun involves live music, gallery shows, outdoor mountain adventure, great fresh food, best friends, loving family and one special man. All that good stuff is wrapped around a pulsating cultural scene in the greater Denver area and beyond. Denver is ALIVE here in 2014 – electric and eclectic, pulsing with new jobs and construction, cutting edge restaurants and shops – growing by leaps and bounds into a gorgeous environment with everything available to satisfy many kinds of people and lifestyles. cThe foothills and expanses of parkland are greener than I have EVER seen them – the rains have been good to us this year. That life-giving liquid Mother Nature gift can all change in the blink of an eye, so better to love it and capture it in pictures while we can.

Yesterday I purchased more collage paper for my mixed media abstract paintings, using a gift certificate from my son that he had given me for Mother’s Day. You could offer me a clear, perfectly cut gemstone, and given the choice I would be more thrilled with the collage paper. These days I am able to find unique and exotic papers from all over the world – I buy them in Hawaii when I am there because they have a special Asian flavor, I bought them in Singapore when I visited my daughter, I find the most enormous selection I have ever found at FLAX in San Francisco….and I can find a perfectly wonderful variety here in Denver at Meininger Art Supply,   www.meininger.com  where I have been purchasing art supplies since the 60’s or in Boulder just 45 minutes up the highway. I have a discerning eye – I have been doing this for years – so a paper that you might think is extraordinarily  beautiful might be something that I used for a long period of time in my artwork 25 years ago and finally got tired of – but each to his own and if I could educate you a bit about what is out there you would understand.

These papers are made for collage art – they are most definitely not wrapping papers, or drawing papers, and certainly not scrapbooking papers…they are a cut above all that. They are colorful or stark white, highly textured, sometimes embossed with a sculptural motif, sometimes cut-out with a delicate lacey, light-as-air look, solid in color or  elegantly patterned, handmade (often embedding organic matter such as leaves, heavy fibers such as straw and fabric, even bugs and such in the papers) and they do sometimes have an ethnic theme indicating where they originated – Africa, India, Asia, France (where book binders used fine marbled ink papers) Japan, Thailand and many more amazing places. The colors, the feel and the quality of these art papers has enhanced enormously over the past decade or so. It is a big business, this paper production. Knowing your papers is a way to know the world!

On many occasions I find my first inspiration for a mixed media painting in a selection of papers – they speak to me – they beckon me – they seduce me into a flow of creative action that is almost beyond my own worldly confines. On a lovely summer’s day, if I am inside, I am painting….and that process can take me around the world.

Please enjoy some of my favorites with these photos from my studio…..

Artist & Author Jo Ann Brown-Scott

www.epiphanysfriends.com

http://joannbrownscottart.artspan.com

Book – The Creative Epiphany, Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations

by Jo Ann Brown-Scott, available on Amazon.com

 

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And so….this is how it happens….the fire is re-lit

?????????? The Year Long Canvas BEFORE…..and AFTER (see below)

In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest, where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art. – Rumi

I woke up this morning newly-brave.

Born again into risk taking and artistic experimentation.

After about a month of YLC in-action I am ready to make my next big move on the YEAR LONG CANVAS, unapologetically and without a dot of hesitation. Something has kicked in and recharged me, and if I had to guess what that was, I think I would say that it had to be a perfect storm of things.  My glorious weekend in the mountains, a poem I received from a wise blogging friend who lives in Israel and is enduring the agony of that conflict, a Harley ride in the Sunday rain, the full belly laughter that I experienced on the phone with a friend, grown children who still love me – all of which are life affirming and reinforce for me the constant wonder and gratitude for the days and nights I am living. I am filled to the brim with life, wanting to value every day.

To be so fortunate is a miracle to me. I agonize for my friend in Israel. I feel deeply for friends and family who are suffering. The flip side of that is my determination to live my own life to its best potential, as a thank-you prayer to the universe. A joyful offering. I too have suffered, been miserable, lost people I loved, been disappointed and hurt by people who are still alive. I don’t live in a bubble. But I am not one who can hold on to pain and keep wringing it out of my days and nights when I am given a chance to let it go. And I have let it all go. It is just good Karma to remind myself of that every once in a while and have a little celebration.

Today I will do some things to the YLC with a “what the hell” attitude – geez I can always paint another painting – who do I think l I am, giving such weighty importance to a mere canvas? What is the worst that can happen? I very seldom ruin a canvas….

I am tired of avoiding it.

Today I welcome it and will confront it with a smile and a song. I knew I would be back. Told you so.

If you do not like what you see, or you are bored with this entire project, leave now. Or hang in here and  see what happens. You can refresh your mind about what I am doing on the YLC in my Archives if need be. I can assure you that whatever brushstrokes are done today will be made from a stance of positivity, as a prayer of thanks.  Nothing done in the name of my art will be angry. Strong vibrant color is a sign of joy and healthy strength, powerful compositions are confident and life-affirming. Thick paint and high texture indicate the need to feel things deeply and experience passion.

Abstract art is perfect for prayers to the universe; the art Buddha smiles.

YLCJU14 and AFTER, copyright July 2014 Jo Ann Brown-Scott – not yet titled

The Abstraction Connection

construction 003 copyright Jo Ann Brown-Scott 2014 – not yet titled

Good day or evening to you – I have been painting all day and although it was not the YLC that I was working on, it has been a productive afternoon.

One of the ways to decide whether or not an abstracted image – a totally abstracted image with little or no hint of realism – is well balanced, carefully composed with lights, darks, texture, line, space etc etc etc is to view it from all 4 orientations. This is why you sometimes see people nearly standing on their heads at art museums, getting a new directional perspective on a piece of art. If the art is a well composed piece, it must “work” from any rotation. Some rotations might work better than others but they must all be successful for it to be a really good abstract.

Sooner or later the artist has to sign the painting and that generally happens at the bottom (although not always) so he/she artist must make a decision at some point. That decision might not be the most popular orientation for you. I do, personally and emphatically, believe that when you hang the painting, you really are sort of obligated to hang it in the direction the artist preferred it to hang, placing the signature side wherever that artist wanted the signature to be. If he/she signed it on the side, and it is hung that way by the artist, then please hang it that way, OK? Oh I know – it is your home and you can do whatever you want….but try to play nice and honor the work that was done and the intent of the artist. The art cops won’t storm through your door and change it on the wall but the art Buddha might frown if you hang a gorgeous painting the wrong way. You just do not want to offend the art Buddha – that is just such bad Karma. Not to mention offending the artist him/herself, even if he/she never even sees it.

Attached is a photo of the painting I finished today – and it is a perfect example of an image that can hang in any direction. Generally speaking the human eye prefers the darker areas of a painting at the bottom (seems logical – gravity), but sometimes the artist wants to give you a visual JOLT and make you re-think your reaction a little bit so he/she artist puts the darkest area at the top. Sometimes the dark is on a side, more often it is on the bottom. The focal point can be anywhere, even almost sliding off the side into oblivion. This painting seems to work in any direction for me, but I’d like to hear what you think.

There are several dots in this painting – two black and one orange and a small yellow circle as well. Using round dots is a thing I often do, and have always done. The dots in this piece have several purposes – there are many straight lines, squares, boxes and rectangles in this piece and the dots are placed to make your eye move around and to create movement and rhythm among all the geometric shapes; they are also there for roundness amid all the angles.

No title yet – that sort of depends upon the final orientation I choose.

Still have not given up on the Year Long Canvas – have faith.

http://www.epiphanysfriends.com

www.https://joannbrownscottart.artspan.com

The Fourth of July Weekend and Summer Art

  

first photo courtesy of winridge.srgliving.com – second photo courtesy of artsnfood.BlogSpot.com – third from visitfortmeyers.wordpress.com

Summer in the Denver area is plentiful with outdoor opportunities for art, wine and food appreciation.  Friday we spent all afternoon walking the route of the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in the premiere gallery district of the Denver area. I had not attended in many years due to the fact that I was living in California, but now I am back where I belong and happy to have had the opportunity to be leisurely wandering around at the festival checking out the art and craft of fine artisans from all over the country. The competition at this event is always fierce and the art is nationally diverse – ceramics, photography, woodworking, mixed media, watercolor, oils, acrylics, textiles, pastels, jewelry, baskets, metalwork, glass and even more. It took about 3-4 hours to make our way around, not even stopping to inspect each and every booth, and with an hour or so lunch break. It was hot, of course, as you would expect on July 4th, but everyone was well prepared. Even I did not get all hot pink and crisp as I might have – I was wearing a wide brimmed hat and layers of SPF15.

My companion and I are both artists – experienced life-long artists, who have had deep experiences with many galleries and selling situations. We have empathy for what is required of an artist to pay for a booth, fill it with art that has been carefully packed and transported from far away places, SMILE, answer questions and talk to people all day long while roasting in the heat and also attempt to make sales so that you can do better than just breaking even. Many of the people we spoke to said that sales were slow, but of course it was only the first day. Some booth owners were sitting in chairs out behind their booths rather than standing up inside where they could meet & greet the visitors….not such a great idea, expecting customers to come and search for you behind your booth….

Several things struck us as we made the rounds. Generally speaking, the art was highly commercial – much more polished and expensive than you would find at the art fairs in the mountain communities such as Evergreen. The people who do these major festivals make a  profession of it because they have to in order to sell. They make more money in summer events and seasonal bazaars than if they tried to sell in galleries, and so the product has become rather slick and in some cases a bit trite. But that is what happens down through the years – the game keeps getting more competitive and the art has to become geared to the mass-market tastes of the people who attend the shows.

Another thing we noticed, in a big way, was the relative absence of any quality abstract art. There were feeble attempts at abstraction, but the few examples we found were soul-less and poorly done. How does this happen in such a prestigious venue and why? Of course the jury committee decides who makes the cut – and if the powers that be have no appreciation of abstract art, and/or that kind of art has no audience and just does not sell…..well than we have a sort of sad situation. If you don’t even show abstracted images how will you build an educated following? People have to see it to learn and understand it. I would rather see a bit more abstract art in the show and less furniture inlayed with thousands of bottle caps. I would rather see an abstracted landscape here and there in the show than 55 ways to paint a red barn. But that’s just me. Well hell YES it is just me! I have a right to expect a bit more intellectual stimulation from a summer art fair that has such a fine reputation and gathers such huge numbers of attendees.

Nevertheless we had a great time – the food trucks were like an art show all their own – and deciding what to eat was a 25 minute long walking and smelling crash course in gourmet food truck cuisine. So much to choose from and so many wonderful aromas – I settled on Greek. Of course the “people watching” is often better than the art – it IS THE BEST FORM OF ART, actually. I kept thinking I was seeing people I knew – from years ago when I lived here – in disguise – as older people than I remember them to be. Me included in that same type of disguise.

From there we went to a traditional dinner menu of  BBQ chicken, potato salad, etc. from my own kitchen followed by fireworks and ooo’s and aahhh’s. Then the familiar tingling feeling we get when we remember why we are celebrating and what we have to lose if we do not stay aware and alert. The older I get, disguise or not, I can barely hold back the tears that come when we celebrate the Fourth of July and I realize once again how amazed and blessed I am to have been born in a country where I am free. If I had but one wish, it would be that everyone everywhere, no matter what the circumstances and location of their births, could experience a life of free choices. It is precisely what makes a life worth living.

Getting the Ball Rolling on Summer

Botgardens

Denver Botanic Gardens Chihuly Glass Exhibit, last week – http://www.chihuly.com  and  www.botanicgardens.org

It is almost the 4th of July and for me that sort of means that the summer is half over. For others it means that the summer is officially rolling along, at its very height of enjoyment. No, I have nothing new to report about the YLC – the Year Long Canvas – but I have a terrific quote from a gifted and successful artist friend of mine named Jane Jones, sent to me as a comment about my previous blog. Jane teaches at the Denver Art Students League –  http://www.asld.org – and she paints like an Old Master, so she knows whereof she speaks. Plus she is wise, funny as hell and inspiring with her witticisms about life  – she doesn’t allow much to slow her down.

Visit her beautiful, floral still-life art at http://www.janejonesartist.com

Jane says:

“I have some paintings that took a year….one month to paint, and 11 months in time out! And then about 10 minutes to finish them. Just because you aren’t painting on it, doesn’t mean you aren’t “working” on it! I’m working on about 5 paintings and haven’t picked up a brush yet! But the process will show when I get them started…and a couple might not ever get started…but they got worked on to their completion before I ever spent anything but time on them….now is that efficient or what!”

Yes I have done that too, but hearing it from another person who understands the process carries much more clout. She is  person to whom I really listen.

A painting is first and foremost, at its very conception, an ambiguous, indistinct creative vision that ebbs and flows, blurs and clears, adds and subtracts, changes color, alters composition, thrills and disappoints, darting in and out of your consciousness as it slowly wakes you up with its possibility ( but sometimes its vision comes in a lightening-fast flash – as in a CREATIVE EPIPHANY – explained further in my book).

This vision incubates in your mind. It cooks. It simmers. It brews. The amount of time that this pre-painting process takes is purely individual. On a good day, I can do all that in an afternoon if I am in the flow. Or it might take months before you or I dare to pick up a brush or a palette knife and attempt to capture on canvas or paper whatever it is that we have been birthing. I KNOW – I am mixing my metaphors here – but it is a both a birthing process and a cooking of sorts, to me anyway. Creativity is like that – all things to all people is what it is. Every single person who is creative has his/her own unique foreplay – their own ritual of preparation before or after conception. It is a “dance by the light of the moon” kind of thing – mysterious, magical and sensual. That is what defines the concept for me.

If the painting is a good one, it matters not how long you spent on the incubation or the birthing of the painting. The fast and furious work is often better and more free-spirited than the one you labored over for weeks or months – that is why I am having such a “thing” about the YLC – I am accustomed to working fast, filling the room with the inspired energy I feel and flying by the seat of my pants without over-thinking and over-analyzing and yes, even over-agonizing about each stroke. This YLC is counter-intuitive for me – but then perhaps that is one of the lessons to be learned from it.

Now I must go and watch the USA play Belgium in the World Cup while the back of my mind mulls over the next new painting I am going to start later today. I can do both, you see, and then find even more answers and ideas in a dream when I go to sleep tonight – because it is always there, this creativity thing, 24/7 every single minute all the time. It is the gift that keeps on giving, right Jane?

http://www.epiphanyfriends.com

https://joannbrownscottart.artspan.com/

BOOK – The Creative Epiphany – Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations by Jo Ann Brown-Scott