Saturday, February 18, 2012

Big, Bold, Colorful Paint: what happens when the weather is gray

Praise to the Morning (work in progress), oil on canvas, 30" x 30"

When the weather is gray, the primary colors come out. At least that's what happened this week. That, plus I finally decided to put color to the large (30" x 30") canvas that's been standing around, waiting, for months. 

I've been wanting to dive into the large white square but have been holding back. Unsure. A bit scared. What if I do something I hate and waste the canvas? (Well, then you paint over it, silly.)

A couple of weeks ago I used a brush and India ink to make a quick, loose drawing, then I had half a mind to ignore the drawing and paint over it. I partially painted over the ink lines with the red arc (so much fun to do!! just dipped a brush directly into red acrylic paint and had a few sweeps of my arm--unbridled fun!) and the orange blob. 

Now I'm at that delicate stage where I'm trying to discern whatever internal logic the painting may have that I didn't anticipate and juggle that with other possibilities that come to me. How much to fill in the white spaces? How much to honor the "original image" that inspired the ink drawing, without imposing stuff that doesn't really need to be there. That, I think, is what usually trips me up--honoring an "original image" rather than what is emerging on the canvas.

I don't usually leave bare white canvas, but somehow it seems to be what's called for, as if to contain the exuberance of the primaries, especially that red arc. Maybe more black would help, too. We shall see...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Year's End: Last Radishes of 2011, paint, colors, radishes

Radishes on Blue Dinner Plate, © Sukie Curtis, 2011, oil on canvas

The same bunch of radishes lasted me through several paintings and a few of my classes at Artascope Studios in South Portland, Maine. I haven't checked recently, but I have a hunch they are still occupying some space at the back of the refrigerator, much faded in color and certainly more puckery than smooth-skinned.

Though I never ate any of these radishes, I believe I got good mileage out of them all the same. Much more than mileage, really.

Inspiration. Delight. Amazement. Humor (those funny root tails!). Instruction in color, shape, invention, and the astonishing life-ward orientation of organic things.

I'm not ready to swear off radishes-as-muses all the way until next summer when there will again be locally grown ones at the farmers markets. But for a while, other colorful and shapely creatures may join the dance--clementines, pears, apples, bananas, maybe even pomegranates!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Night of Radishes! Holiday joy! painting radishes

Radishing, oil on canvas, © 2011, Sukie Curtis

Yesterday a friend and fan of my paintings sent me a link to the morning's installment of the "Writer's Almanac," Garrison Keillor's daily NPR program, which had noted that last night was the Night of Radishes, Noche do Rabanos, in Oaxaca, Mexico! 

Here's the brief description: "Tonight in Oaxaca, Mexico, folks will be celebrating the Noche de Rabanos, the Night of the Radishes, and the zocalo [public square] will become the scene of a huge exhibition of figures carved from radishes. These are not the familiar little round vegetables that are eaten in salads--these are heavy, long, contorted roots that grow up to two feet in length and can weigh as much as ten pounds." They are carved into nativity scenes and other holiday decorations for display in the square.

My friend added: "I like your radishes better!" Which of course brightened my morning, just as radishes often do. 

I've taken a radish inventory recently, and I'm almost embarrassed to admit just how many radish paintings I have around in various states--from totally finished to almost to not at all. Three radish paintings are hanging in gallery shops (at Artascope Studios in South Portland, Maine and at Yarmouth Frame Shop in Yarmouth, Maine), and there are several more at home with me! I may have to name this the Year of Radishes!

My latest large painting, very nearly but not quite finished, also features radishes in a jumble of other objects--a French pottery vase, a large tin of olive oil, wine bottle, piece of fabric, and the rectangles of other canvases. Here's a peak at it:

The Way Things Hang Together, © 2011, Sukie Curtis

Anyway, the real point of this blog post is to wish you the delight and joy of radishes this holiday season.

May you and your loved ones have a joyful and peaceful Christmas-tide and/or Hanukkah and a very happy New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Artful Holiday Giving (shameless commerce division): Art, Painting, holidays

IMG_0239.JPGRadishing, 8" x 10", oil on canvas
'Twas six days before Christmas, and all ‘round the place
the thoughtful delayers were starting to pace.
"Yikes! I've done nothing!" was heard here and there.
"If only I'd purchased those radishes or that pear!"
IMG_0120.JPG Pear on Yellow, 8" x 8”, oil on wood
OK, maybe that's a bit of a stretch. But just in case you're still wondering what to do for a special gift or two, I am happy to wave a joyful banner for giving art. 
And to offer a few suggestions, from very small to medium to large. At the very small end, I have a fresh, new batch of note cards:  a set of six different images (or your choice of six) with envelopes, wrapped with red ribbon. 
There are also several small paintings by me (and lots of other lovely art, jewelry, balsam pillows, and more!) at  Artascope Studios at 352 Cottage Road, South Portland. They are open 10 to 6 daily until Christmas.
Other small to medium-sized paintings can be found at Yarmouth Frame Shop and Gallery at 720 US Route One in Yarmouth.
And then there's what's at my house--from notecards to small paintings, to some large ones! Such as...
IMG_0049.jpgIn the Garden, 30" x 24," oil on canvas, framed
From now through December 31, 2011 I am offering family and friends (that's you!) 10% off any paintings purchased from me at my home. (Please note: this offer does not apply to purchases made at either Artascope or Yarmouth Frame Shop.)
If you'd like to stop by to see what's at my house, let me know! If you live too far away to do that but would like to know what I have, call or email me, and we can go from there.
Wherever you find yourself this day, I wish you a joyful holiday season! And my thanks for the many ways you have supported me and my art-making this past year.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gone Radishing Again: painting, radishes, colors, delight

Radishing, oil on canvas, 9x12", © Sukie Curtis, 2011

More radishes! This time with a decidedly Christmas-y feel, now that we're in the season of red and green decorations. 

One fellow painter on Facebook commented that this could be "red boulders in a landscape;" do you see it? The red boulders aren't so convincing, but the radish foliage does have the look and feel of hilly shapes. And maybe even a streak of golden color in the sky!

This little painting--a real burst of color face to face--is at the Yarmouth Frame Shop and Gallery for the "Small Works" show that opens today. It is hanging together with three of my paintings of pears and a somewhat wacky and fun still life of a striped table with candlestick. 

If you live near Yarmouth (Maine, that is--not Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, or England, or . . . ), I hope you will stop by this afternoon or any other day before Christmas.

The gallery is at 320 Route One in Yarmouth. Today, Saturday, December 3, there's a reception from 4 to 7 pm. Art lovers of all kinds will be there--artists, lovers of artists, and lovers of art-lovers, too. And food!  and refreshments!

I would love to see you there. If today doesn't work for you, the gallery will be open seven days a week until Christmas.

Monday, November 21, 2011

When Death Comes: Mary Oliver, oak leaf shapes, oil paint, red leaves

Oak Leaf Shapes, oil on canvas, © 2011, Sukie Curtis (unfinished?)
Yesterday, on a very mild November day, with a gang of tufted titmice scolding us and nuthatches chattering from the overhanging branches of evergreens, we buried the ashes of my mother-in-law in a cemetery in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. This recent painting, inspired by an oak branch in a bottle, seems somehow appropriate to the occasion.

At the graveside, our prayers were accompanied by a psalm and Mary Oliver's poem "When Death Comes."

"When Death Comes"  by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common 
as a field daily, and as singular;

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my lie something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Painting Radishes 1

Small Square Radishes, oil on canvas, © 2011 Sukie Curtis

I paint radishes more than I eat them. That's just the way it is! 

I can hardly resist buying new bunches of them at the farmers market, even when I have an older bunch at home. But I've learned that they keep an impressively long time in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and can be my painting models and muses many times over, though their greens go limp and eventually rot. 

Even then, the life force and the "urge" to live and create new life is so strong in them that in the dark and cold of the refrigerator drawer, old radishes will sprout vigorous new root hairs and even pale, spindly greens. They are built to live and flourish.

And to ravish the eyes: such lovely round, though not perfectly round, shapes! such whimsical, quirky tails! and such colors! 

These days radishes come in more than just shades of red, crimson, and pink; there's deep blue-violet, wild magenta, pale pink, and a blush creamy white. And if that's not enough, you can always make up other colors as you paint them! Why not?

Which reminds me: the collage artist and children's book author and illustrator Eric Carle has a new book out, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse. Carle calls it "an homage to the Expressionist painter Franz Marc." Carle was inspired at a young age by Marc's work when a teacher showed him his painting of a blue horse.