Friday, May 27, 2011

Always Reflecting

 Reflecting watercolor on Yupo 7"x11"

I, like countless others, have a fascination for photographing reflections.  I am intrigued how the reflections are sometimes mirror images and other times diffused and forming beautiful abstracts. To me, the play of light, color, patterns echoing the reality in its own terms - when an object is reflected off glass, mirror, water or any other shiny surface - is a mystery and miracle at the same time. Fortunately or unfortunately,  quite often I  find I become aware of the beauty of the surroundings as I catch the reflections. 

I enjoyed working on the yupo and now I want to explore this same image on a larger size regular paper soon!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Growing Art

A Day in The Life. Page 9 color pencils

One of the things that fascinates me is how ideas and creativity come about. I especially like the instances where science and art collide to produce the most wonderful discoveries and artwork.  More than ever this illustrates that we can all learn techniques- be it scientific methodology or how to lay down paint but to have a breakthrough, to make big discoveries seems to require something almost magical! I came across three  different stories about Alexander Fleming and his discovery of penicillin. There is much more there than simply happenstance. 

Smithsonian article explained that long before Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotics, he was a painter, a member of the Chelsea Arts Club. He used watercolors, but that was not his favored medium.  He painted ballerinas, houses, stick figures fighting and other subjects by using bacteria! The  article says :"He produced these paintings by growing microbes with different natural pigments in the places where he wanted different colors. He would fill a petri dish with agar, a gelatin-like substance, and then use a wire lab tool called a loop to inoculate sections of the plate with different species. The paintings were technically very difficult to make. Fleming had to find microbes with different pigments and then time his inoculations such that the different species all matured at the same time. These works existed only as long as it took one species to grow into the others. When that happened, the lines between, say, a hat and a face were blurred; so too were the lines between art and science."  Further down the article is the revelation :"On that fateful morning, what Fleming actually discovered was, in a way, a version of one of his paintings. Each of the colonies of Staphylococci bacteria that he had inoculated on the plate had grown into a small shape resembling a planet or a star in a night sky. But there among his wild planets was something else, a larger, lighter body at the top of the dish, the Penicillin fungus. Around it the sky was dark, where the bacteria were dying. It was his masterpiece, his “rising sun,” the painting that would save more lives than any other discovery."

Read the Smithsonian article: Painting with Penicillin: Alexander Fleming's Germ Art  and then listen to PRI's Studio 360 story : Godfather of BacteriaOn PRI's link Painting with E.Coli,  there is also a photo of one of Flemings paintings :) 

A blog Growing Impressions-Gulden/Baldwin records the collaboration between artist Amy Gulden and scientist Dr. Kristin Baldwin :"...we have enlisted a natural organism, E. coli bacteria, to generate images that resemble paintings or prints, but that have a unique set of patterns that could not be generated using non living materials. We hoped that by letting nature generate its own patterns we would trigger the interest of the eye and the visual brain, which has evolved to pay attention to the irregular patterns generated by natural growing objects."  There is an amazing collection of 'paintings' in that site!

This goes to show that we definitely need to nurture curiosity. Arts and science is a very artificial seperation of  knowledge!

Monday, May 16, 2011

In Search of Beauty

A Day In The Life - page 8 color pencils

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." Ralph Waldo Emerson's words ring in my mind quite often, especially when my wants and needs rear up their heads! This past week in Chicago was no exception. These days though, finally, more often than not, I use my camera to bring home the beauty. (The airline luggage restrictions help too!) And, more importantly, I understand what he meant. 

In the past couple of days there have been two stories on NPR about art, beauty and collecting-  'World's  Richest Man Opens Flashy Museum in Mexico' and 'Chasing Aphrodite and Other Dirty Art World Deals.'  The stories mentioned 'object lust', 'because they wanted it', 'they lose reason', 'minor and mediocre pieces by big name artists.'  When I finished listening, I was quite disillusioned by the elitist  mindset of some of the museum directors, curators, professors and one reporter whose tone I definitely did not care for.  I realized how easy it is to judge another or lose one's way when dealing with issues of ethics, art, culture, and greed.   I love going to the museums, admire the collections, but, I was once again wondering about the ethics, pros and cons of collecting, standards of beauty, value of art pieces etc.  

On a much simpler note, having just completed my sketchbook Fiction Project for Art House Co-op, A day in the Life, I was also very excited to see on display,  "Color and Rhythm: Henri Matisse's Jazz " at the Art institute of Chicago. 


As I had mentioned before, working on my book has given me a new appreciation for others' efforts and I marvel at the end results! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Completing the Circle

Poquoson Public Library Artist of the Month May 2011 

I am always excited to exhibit my paintings at our city's Public Library.  It is a wonderful opportunity to display a collection of my paintings. I get a sense of  how all my paintings look framed and next to each other.  I am really grateful to have a venue to just show my work and  for a very compelling reason to keep painting, knowing there is one place once a year I may have my month of  audience :) Please swing by the library if you are in the area.  I would love any feed back!

This my 200th blog post and my heartfelt thank you to all who visit my blog.  Your interactions have helped me grow and evolve! As the artist Anish Kapoor said: There's something imminent in the work, but the circle is only completed by the viewer.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Comfort or Boredom?

A Day In the Life.. Page 7 The Fiction Project color pencils

I completed the fiction project last week and mailed it off to Art House Co-op in Brooklyn, NY. In the end I filled 30 pages with sketches and writing - that includes an author page, and two pages of tid-bits and explanations. I had initially torn off two pages to experiment on, and another three pages when I had difficulty with the page with the rangoli. I scanned the pages to my computer so I will be posting them slowly on my blog :) I sprayed the completed pages with Krylon acrylic clear coating so the color pencils will hold up and not smudge on the remote chance that it will be handled and looked at a number of times!

The project was exciting, fun and stressful all at the same time. I was sketching, drawing and thinking about  the book every single day and I felt daily practice definitely improved my skills. I am looking into another project to keep up the daily practice :). Giving my best and not being hung up on perfection freed me to enjoy the process. The project pushed me to sketch things I would have overlooked or afraid to tackle. I hope to give some of the sketches full treatment in larger versions.  I was excited to see the end product - a book authored and illustrated by me - not perfect or amazing, but a small accomplishment! Strangely, I did not mind mailing it off.  

Now, about  page 7: on a daily basis, I do not care for chores - will gladly by-pass them whenever I can!  Over the years I have noticed how my elderly or unwell relatives and friends have fiercely insisted on doing the daily little chores as they negotiated their days, and that made a great impression on me. I wonder, why, when, how or if, the perspective  will change for me. 
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