Monday, January 18, 2010

Other People's Self-portraits. What can we learn from them?

Lucian Freud, Reflection (self portrait), 1985, 22X20, oil on canvas.

I've been painting a self-portrait. I take a night painting class at the Art Student's League and we are having a class show next week. I am supposed to have my self-portrait done by Thursday. With only a little window of daylight per day this time of year and me choosing to use it by standing by the window in my "studio" (a little alcove in the front room of my Brooklyn apartment), I find the days ticking by and myself painting, rubbing out, and repainting the same thing, my eyes. The sun has set and I need some inspiration if i am going to get up earlier tomorrow and drink more coffee and get this done and learn something from doing so by Thursday, so I turn to some other artists' self-portraits to see what they saw in themselves. Their self-portraits are as different as they are or were. What do you see in yourself and have you looked deep enough lately?

John Singer Sargent, Self-portrait, 1892, oil on canvas.

Kathe Kollwitz, Self Portrait, 1898, color lithograph.

Mary Beth McKenzie, self-portrait (front window), collection New York Historical Society, 46 x 30, oil.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Silvermine painting weekend.

Mary Beth McKenzie painting for us.

A new year means... time for a road trip! Drove to New Canaan, CT last Wednesday in my "Spy car" (Zip car) listening to Iron and Wine and sipping caffeine. Watched painting demos and painted for three days. Walked around the frozen, back in time, landscape of white houses and icy rivers. Talked about art and life with women wiser than I, over warming tea, sitting in the old parlor into the wee hours and slept with old portrait eyes watching over me at a lovely, quaint and creepy old Inn. Drove on from there to New Haven. Walked around the ghost town that Yale becomes when students are not yet back from holiday. Marked my journey with footprints in the snow covered quad and then warmed up in the Yale Center for British Art looking at some finely dressed British ladies, rolling hill landscapes and seaside views cracking in their old details. Stared at John Constable's cloud studies that covered a wall and thought about the big world. "I have done a good deal of skying- I am determined to conquer all difficulties and that most arduous one among the rest...The sky is the source of light in nature- and governs everything" John Constable to John Fisher. I Feel inspired from the journey and ready to use the new knowledge I have gained. p.s. please excuse the photo quality I forgot my camera and bought a disposable for the first time in years.

Calder like sculptures and the yummy place we ate lunch across the street everyday.

Outside the Silvermine Guild Arts Center...

Mary Beth's monotype plate and our view from the studio.

Two hundred year old inn and its surroundings...

New year. Old holiday cards.

"Let it snow."


"Happy holidays."

"Peace on Earth"


I procrastinate. I never posted the rest of my holiday cards in 2009 so I will now. My fancy printer broke and so I outsourced my cards this year and in doing so realized how expensive it is and learned a great deal about what to ask for. Do not assume paper the printer picks will be fit to fold for cards. Ask to see the paper and test fold it to see if it cracks! My dear old friend was my first official costumer and bought a bunch of my holiday cards which I bundled up and took home to Colorado with me. And because of the printer mishap she will be using them next year. Happy times in Colorado with family and snow. We even attempted to ski after many years of absence from the slopes. we made it down the run all bones in tact and we patted ourselves on the back and wiggled our toes out of our ski boots to see if they still worked. And on the eve of 2010 I found myself toasting to the new year, glad to have made it through the last year in one piece (it was a hard one for me) and looking forward to the endless possibilities of the next decade.

(back) (front)
"Deck the halls."