Friday, May 28, 2010

About Technology as Tool

I can make beautiful paintings using customary painting materials plus Photoshop and my computer and printer. I have a great computer and a fine archival printer and in my studio, I have most of the traditional materials of the artist. I use it all. There are many variations to the process but mostly it's about painting something to the best of my ability and then scanning or photographing it and taking it into Photoshop. There I do what I cannot do with acrylics and pastels and collage and other time-honored media. The additional tweaking provided by the technology is magical and wonderful. While I am still learning and hope to do so forever, the power I can wield with these tools is fabulous.

The resulting works look as good (or better) as those I fashion from conventional tools; they last as long (or longer); they take as much attention from the creator (or more) and the pricing makes them easier to acquire.

Come and see for yourself. For the first two weekends of next month I will open my workspace to the public as part of our North Coast Open Studios event. I plan to show original paintings in one area of my studio and the digitally enhanced work in another. I daresay no one will be able to identify the process in any of them. They are different because they are not made with the same materials but I cannot think that because technology played a part in the production of the giclées that they are less "authentic". While I am captivated by what I can do with my contemporary tools, they are no easier to produce than with a brush and easel.

Helen Frankenthaler said: Whatever the medium, there is the difficulty, challenge, fascination and often the productive clumsiness of learning a new method: the wonderful puzzles and problems of translating with new materials.

The image above is made with the process described above and available in several sizes. It is still untitled as Detail 2. For information about any of the images on this blog please contact Joan at

For information about North Coast Open Studios, please visit

Friday, May 21, 2010

About Blogging

Blogging, or better said, writing about oneself and putting it out for the world to read seems to me a little odd. What does any of it matter unless it is for someone we are connected to? And even then, how often do we have something to report that is of real interest to anyone but ourselves? I hesitate to write of any struggle or success in my life because it seems insignificant in the bigger scheme of things. Wars, famines, disease and other catastrophes take great numbers of lives; of what consequence is one life?

And yet our lives are precious and important to us and worthy of examination. Writing requires thinking and reflection. I believe that most of the thinking I do is in the service of coming to terms with the realities of life and of death. I want to stand back and see the big picture, to accept and understand that lives come and go, and to protect myself from the sorrow of loss.

Some Russian writer I read long ago said something about how the mistake we make is to be so attached to the people in our lives and the world around us, given the ease and speed with which it can all disappear. I see it in the newspapers every day and wonder at the good fortune that has been mine. Knock on wood.

The image above is an 8.5 x 11" detail of Clippings, ©2008, Acrylic & Mixed Media on Paper. For information about any of the paintings on this site, please email Joan.

Friday, May 14, 2010

About Success

Some years ago I heard painter Elmer Bischoff  say, "For the artist, success begins and ends in the

Those words have stayed with me. While I would have enjoyed some (definitely not all) of the aspects of fame, and fortune would have been helpful, I am my harshest critic and most demanding evaluator. The questions of how close I got to the vision I pursue and whether the detours that I took pushed me off course are always present. The validation that comes from sales and from the support of friends, family and fans is important, but the last word is mine.

There is a poem by Emily Dickinson  about a dialogue between two departed souls lying in adjoining graves. I picture myself in that place looking back over my life; my questions are: Did I really live it? Did I do all that I could with what I was given? The answers would be about overcoming anxiety (mine doesn't dissipate) and getting on with the show. I can't claim to have taken all the risks and accepted every challenge; I just hope that the long look backwards doesn't include many regrets.

Logan P. Smith said: How can they say my life is not a success? Have I not for more than sixty years got enough to eat and escaped being eaten?

The image above is Cheers ©1995, Acrylic on Paper Mounted on Canvas, 35 x 23". For information about any of the paintings on this site, please email Joan.

Friday, May 7, 2010

More About the Why of Art

In the same vein as last week's post:

The art I make and the art that I respond to is as fiction is to writing, a place of control and resolution. I am reading a novel now in which all hell breaks loose. The family portrayed is dealing with difficulties which spiral into a hideous and painful mess; lives are knocked off their path and into a place of unforeseen suffering. I read on anxiously knowing that there will be some kind of resolution, most likely not a happy ending but resolution nonetheless.

That is most of what art is about. The artist gets to make something happen according to his own lights. Who amongst us hasn't at some point wished for a magic wand to convert an awful situation into the fantasy that we crave? Or maybe just to experience something that is not in the cards for us?

Well, look no further. It is available in a museum, at a library, at the theater, and in our fertile human brains. Art is generous.

Saul Bellow, speaking of his books, - Nobel Prize Lecture, 1976:
The intelligent public is wonderfully patient with them, continues to read them, and endures disappointment after disappointment, waiting to hear from art what it does not hear from theology, philosophy, social theory, and what it cannot hear from pure science.

The image above is Square One ©2007, Acrylic & Mixed Media on Archival Board, 24 x 24". For information about any of the paintings on this site, please email Joan.