August 29, 2008

Pink Flowers

Here are a couple new floral paintings I completed recently. I started with a bright pink ground which I find to be a very happy color but not always an easy one to work on with other colors. Maybe that's why all the flowers are pink. I want these to be very decorative... a play of organic shapes against geometric forms with "pretty" colors dancing all around to please the eye. The most difficult part was trying to simplify the flowers and still retain their identity. Tomorrow on my camping trip, I'm going to focus on drawing flowers.... first realistically and then as an abstraction. Perhaps if I isolate the problem, I can learn to overcome the difficulty. Haven't we all drawn pages and pages of hands and feet?

"Pink Lilies" by Barbara Levine copyright 2008 and
"Dancing Daisies Over Peony Clouds" by B. Levine copyright 2008

August 24, 2008

Catching Up

I just looked up a couple of other art festivals in Oregon and discovered some really wonderful artists. How do they do it? I better get back into my studio and get to work! But no, my plan is to take a break and focus on home and garden before everything goes to rack and ruin. Art will just have to wait.

Here are a couple more recent paintings that try to capture the beauty of the motherhood and the nurturing spirit in us all. "Momma Bed" is about how newborns will sleep and sleep like little angels, as long as they are on their momma's chest. Put them down and they scream bloody murder! "Surrounded By Love" celebrates the BIG momma is so much more yummy than being hugged by a skinny person (of course that's nice too).

"Momma Bed" by Barb Levine copyright 2008

"Surrounded By Love" by Barb Levine copyright 2008

August 23, 2008

Summer Art Festivals

Well, I'm back! I finished preparing for and attending the CAG
Clothesline Sale and the Silverton Fine Arts Festival and so have stopped painting and started cleaning. It's amazing how every pile and mess amasses to it's maximum proportion when you're busy trying to make deadlines. I have to remember next year to have my paintings completed way ahead of time and not drive myself crazy before these art events. Unfortunately, I love to start artwork but find it really difficult to complete a piece unless some horrible deadline is hanging over me. These sales force me to finish the ten or so paintings in progress that are so close, but not quite there. But often I call them finished, varnish them but later go back and make changes......I just can't force a painting to completion. If I am very persistent it usually resolves itself eventually but, for me, it takes a lot of thinking and experimenting with layers of paint.

The Clothesline Sale in Corvallis was great. I sold lots of artwork and reconnected with lots of old friends and acquaintances. I also received lots of compliments for my work from other artists, which feels pretty good as well.

The Silverton Fine Arts Festival was good in some ways but the sales were disappointing. I felt most people were just looking for inexpensive items and as a painter, I felt out of place. Most of the booths featured crafts, despite the title of the festival, jury process and entry fee. Many people told me I should show at the Corvallis Fall Festival, suggesting this wasn't really the right venue for my work. But there were some positives as well. The park setting under the tall evergreens was lovely and I met lots of nice people and enjoyed talking with them about art. My booth neighbors were very nice and shared lots of good advice about marketing. They had all been in lots of outdoor art shows and said it was nearly impossible to predict when one would have good or mediocre sales.

I did come away from both festivals determined to focus more on small paintings. People of course love the diminutive price but I also think they don't worry so much about where they are going to put it when they get home. I've heard "I love your work but don't have any wall space left in my house" about a hundred times. Personally, I never let that stop me from buying a painting I love. I just bought a gorgeous piece from a new artist (to me)....Delana Bettoli in Silverton.

Here are a couple of the paintings (Petite Narratives) I sold at the Clothesline Sale. "A Mother's Dilemma" addresses the age-old conflict of caring for your child and working to create a better world for your child. "I Could Fly" is a childhood memory of loving, loving, loving airplane rides which really does let you fly when you are little. You just need a strong "big person" to propel you through the air. I wish I still could fly like that!

"A Mother's Dilemma" by Barbara Levine copyright 2008
"I Could Fly" by Barbara Levine copyright 2008

July 27, 2008

Peace Pig Holds Artist Hostage

Well, I have been doing some paintings that I want to share on my blog, but lately most of my time has been taken up by a pig. She is quite large (about four feet long, three feet high) and although she has a lovely body, it was not so easy to paint since I am accustomed to flat squares and rectangles as painting supports. The goal was to make her so beautiful that someone at the Old Mill School auction would buy her and thus donate money for this wonderful school. Her name is "Peace Pig" and she promotes love and goodwill towards all creatures. The phrases on her body read, "May your troubles be less and your blessings be more", "Imagine Peace", "May your heart be filled with love and laughter" and "Hogs united against greed." I hope she brings at least some of these things into the world because painting her sure stressed me out!

June 28, 2008

Third Annual Community Art Show

Here is a new piece that will be on display at the Giustina Gallery in Corvallis during the month of July. It was inspired by my daily walks through the fields with my dear dog, Jamaica. Neither she nor I look like this, but it's the memory of the walk and the openness of the landscape that I'm trying to express. Here's to all the dedicated dog walkers!

"Grasslands" copyright 2008 Barbara Levine

June 27, 2008

Floral Arrangements

This is the final sample in my set of themes introduced earlier. After my show in 2007, "Seven Years Later", I wanted to paint subjects that were fun and easy after a year of artwork which focused on figures and spiritual themes (very difficult!). I decided that flowers would be just the thing and got to work with slow contour drawings and trying to match the colors I saw before me. Much to my dismay, I wasn't having any fun at all and so quickly gave up on the idea of painting florals. But recently I give floral arrangements another try and have been fairly happy with the results. I decided to take a more designed approach, using the beautiful flowers as inspiration, but letting myself feel free to flatten the space, simplify the forms and make up my own colors. Leaving realism behind and concentrating on the formal elements of art (color, value, shape, etc.) allows me to take a more playful approach with my artwork.

"Helen's Bouquet" copyright 2008 Barbara Levine

Petite Narratives

Here is the first narrative painting I've done in recent history. It's fun to create a little scene from my imagination and then discover if it has a hidden message or subtle meaning within the setting. My characters are usually small (mostly children and pets) and the format is small (8" x 10" or 9" x 12") so I call these paintings Petite Narratives. The titles give a clue to what I think they may be all about.

"Half Full or Half Empty" copyright 2008 Barbara Levine