Denver Art Museum; Two Vastly Wonderful Extremes

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quote LINDA linda2 lindafeet

Visiting the Denver Art Museum yesterday was a deep, soul fulfilling delight – first the magnificent exhibit of the work of Joan Miro; a collection of his abstract art at its finest including sculpture, paintings and minimally simple line drawings. Then the breathtaking, mind-bending realistic trio of sculptures by John DeAndrea. Two such widely disparate styles in one brief afternoon stretches the mind and provokes timeless questions about what leads artists in the direction to do what they do. The videos were extremely informative of course, but as an artist myself I could still scarcely imagine how these two artists began their journey from A to Z.

I especially love the above quote by Miro, posted just over a huge line painting in the show primarily in black of nothing but gestures; squiggles and swoops that he says he had on his mind for years and years….until it finally surfaced. When people ask me, as they often do, how long it took me to do a particular painting, I always reply, “All my life.” And that is nothing unique to me – all artists feel that way.

Many of you may remember LINDA, the nude sculpture pictured above, done in an oil polychrome media with paint of polyvinyl applied. Yes her hair is real, and yes her feet are incredible, and if you stand and watch her long enough you find yourself expecting and hoping she will take a breath. Light and pollution are detrimental to the materials LINDA is made of and she only comes out of dark storage every decade or so. Yesterday was her last day at Denver Art Museum for a long while. There was also an elegant nude black woman in the show and a two-figure sculpture of the artist himself in the process of sculpting a half-finished seated nude. Of course these sculptures are all life-sized.

Art continues to fascinate, does it not? Any kind of art……

As we speak I am in the home stretch, finishing final edits, of my new novel and constructing all the accompanying marketing avenues that are so important these days. It is a daunting task but an exciting journey. The book is a novel, but indeed some of you will recognize some small glimmers of what you have seen before in my blog and my first book, all wrapped into a much larger story with a detailed plot. I will soon be offering all of you some enticing excerpts to chew on before the publication. Writing a manuscript and painting a very large painting are so much alike. The work is consistently hard over a long and arduous period of time, the labor is often painful and you need to push it all out, but the birthing is exciting and rewarding.


Photos: Instagram – jobrownscott9




The Anticipation of Travel

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Malaysian Dusk  and  Bangkok Moon, mixed media by Jo Ann Brown-Scott copyright 2015

You know how I feel about creativity and stoking the fires to keep it smoldering – always awarding yourself with fresh experiences – feeding the creativity beast gourmet delights so that it will return to your work table and want to spend time with you. Travel is,  to me, one of the finest sources of creative stimulation. Travel is a luxury we can all afford if you define it as a departure from your normal routine that takes you out and away from your home headquarters. Therefore a trip down the block is travel, an excursion to a nearby city is travel, even a hike in the woods or watching a movie is a version of travel. You just need to get out of your own mind for awhile and experience new visual surroundings. I do all of that and more… is part of my job description as an artist and writer.

But this time I am headed to more distant horizons. I am traveling to the far regions of southeast Asia – Singapore in fact – for the second time, and my side trip during this trip will be to Siem Reap, Cambodia for three nights to visit Angkor Wat. I am traveling with a dear friend, also an artist, so I am going to experience double happiness. We will stay with my daughter and her husband who live in Singapore ( ) and therefore we will have a resident guide for every move we make, and we will be making some major moves.

I will love seeing Singapore again through my friend’s eyes – the spectacular cutting-edge architecture, the glitz and sparkle of the immaculate, well-mannered Singapore, along with its quaint and colorful shop houses in the older sections of Chinatown, Arab Street and Little India. Then on to the massive ruins of Angkor Wat , one of the ancient wonders of our world, now overgrown with gnarled tree roots and steeped in mystery. This is my favorite vacation contrast – the precious against the poor – the opulent compared to the common. It rounds everything out and gives you a conscientious balance. It jolts your senses and keeps you humble, seeing what has gone long before and what is happening now. You can’t have one without the other.

Creatively speaking, this makes for a rare and wonderful experience. The last time I traveled to Singapore I came home and painted a body of work based upon my  trip, capturing my visual, sensory, auditory and olfactory impressions of how it felt to be there. I was on such sensory overload that I could not sleep. Remembering the sights, smells, noise and food aromas of just the wild and wonderful Chatachak Market in Bangkok, for instance, fed my creativity for days on end.

Travel is the closest we can get, as human beings here in the 21st century, to time travel as it is explained by physicists and scientists  – living backwards or forward in time, almost in a parallel universe to our own and finding it remarkably exotic and foreign to your senses. Yet confined to this one planet. The big blue one. I highly recommend it for your enlightenment, your creativity and your fun.

The Creative Epiphany – Abstraction in Art

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As if….

I have been painting in a contemporary abstracted style since I was a student of fine art at CU in Boulder. I could not wait to get past all of my classes in realism so that I could set myself free. I knew I was a student at a school with a great art department at a point in history where I also knew instinctively that I fit in. My professors in the sixties where cutting edge and adventurous. You do not, of course, just jump right into abstraction until you have an understanding of realism and composition and all the basic principles of art and design. So I did that and it was fine but I was itchy to get past it and start taking risks in art. Through the years since then I have sometimes turned back to my own loose version of representational art and I do enjoy that, with my semi-abstracted landscapes and recently with portraits of Africans and American Indians in particular. But I consistently paint non-representational abstractions as my most fulfilling style of artistic expression. Still, after all these years it is not as if I can predict the outcome of the process even as I am doing it. The entire abstract procedure is serendipitous, improvisational, riddled with shock and surprise and the finished product is absolutely impossible to predict. And that is the charm and the excitement of it for me. The journery is the thing – listening to the paint speak to you, understanding your tools and what they will do, hearing the language of the papers in your mixed media collage, knowing how to achieve great texture and depth, knowing your canvas and being aware of the weather and the time and the mood of the day and the music that you have playing – it all factors into your art when you are feeling the abstract process in your bones and you are truly in the zone. Thus the term abstraction – you are capturing the essence of things.

Ok so let me put it another way. I am usually not painting in the abstract style so that people will “see” something in my composition. Much abstract art, yours and mine and thousands of pieces of noteworthy art down through the centuries, does indeed have a suggestion of a particuler image of some particular thing, but of course much does not. One of art’s irritations for me is when I have completed an abstract image of nothing in particular and people start their wierd process of attempting to find an image in it that will “reveal” something about my motivation for painting the piece. Because that makes them more comfortable – they need a comfort zone to crawl into. They assume I have purposely hidden stuff in there to be mysterious and provoke chatter and speculation about who I “really am” and what I am “really thinking”. That makes me crazy. Many times I am standing right there next to them as they do it. They begin to “see” stuff and then they look over at me as they “explain” what they see and what they believe is so obviously my motivation for the art. What are they looking for from me? A nod and a wink, indicating they have busted me and figured out exactly what I was thinking as I painted it? Sort of like “gotcha”? Come on. As if….

Abstraction does not always have to carry the weight of a major statement that smacks you in the face or a hidden agenda that creeps up on you or even evidence of a noticeable mood swing on the part of the artist. Some of it is there to be appreciated for the simple balance, the beauty, the freedom, the energy, the force, the quiet, the sensuality, the essence, the whatever. Please don’t take one of my paintings and turn it upside down or stand on your head or rotate your eyes all around each side of it looking for a duck or a funny little man or an angel or some other stupid thing that I did not put in there. And if you purchase it, please hang it in the proper orientation in which it was painted, not the direction in which you are comfortable viewing it because you “see something” that way. It is all about respect.