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For those of you who don't live around Nashville, Radnor Lake is a beautiful oasis in the midst of a large city. It is a natural area, modestly developed with designated trails, an educational visitors center, an aviary, and a mission to preserve wildlife and the lake ecosystem. The Plein Air Painters for the Land (Chestnut Group) works with middle Tennessee organizations that have a mission to preserve and protect rapidly disappearing natural areas. We paint on location and in-studio those areas and partner with the organization to hold a fundraising art event. We've partnered with Friends of Radnor Lake several times now and had very successful shows, raising thousands of dollars for their projects. This year's show is coming up very soon! November 8-10. Admission is free and the art is amazing. I hope many of you locals will be able to enjoy it (and take a nice walk in the park as well!)
Here are my submissions for the Radnor Show: the two deer paintings were done in studio (obviously), as was the lake painting, from a photo I took of the lake in late summer. I'm heading over to Radnor this afternoon, hoping to do one or two small plein air sketches of a botanical nature. The weather has finally cooled down enough to give us a happy painting day.
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It's a fact that high anxiety produces stress reactions that shut down the mind's best response to learning new skills, so developing a mental environment of receptivity seems like a good early goal. What does that look like? As I observe others (and myself) in new situations, like a new job for instance, the first few encounters tend to be slow and unfamiliar, bordering on incompetent, possibly embarrassment. We don't like that! It upsets our self-image and causes stressful biochemical reactions. I have found it helpful to learn to pay attention to what my body is telling me, noticing and naming the physical responses like shaky hands, dry mouth, pounding heart. I've noticed that a few minutes of high anxiety makes me feel very sleepy and distracted. Also hungry! But I am not a child, right? So what to do? I've learned more and more to assesses and accept by first: taking a few deep breaths, gradually slowing my breathing rate; next, intentionally relaxing from shoulders on down, maybe rolling my neck a bit to release retained tension. Even doing just these two simple steps is often enough to calm the "fight or flight" mini crisis the brain goes into. Voila! Frontal lobe, with all its sensible, problem solving, language absorbing abilities, is back in the saddle. Welcome the Beginners Mind (and get used to it) because there will be many stages of learning in your chosen discipline that require humility and openness!
...When It Is Finished?
This is probably the most common question artists get from both learners and viewers...and a question that is always in the back of the artist's mind as well. I have six paintings in the works as I write this, almost all are in the final stages, and I am asking myself with each one: are you finished? what else do you need? will other people see you the way I see you?
I find myself more and more painting until I get that sweet feeling of "enough". While most artists want to paint with expertise and mastery, that is rarely the "Why" or reason that they are painting that particular subject. I'm learning to ask myself why I want to paint a scene or thing; what is it that catches my eye and heart? and what I am trying to communicate through painting it?
I'm a sucker for delightful, serene, charmingly simple settings, as you may have noticed. Life can be hard, heavy, heart-weary and these moments I paint remind me (and, I hope, you) it is also wonderful, beautiful, magical and filled with goodness.
I am much happier with the studio works, but it was the plein air studies that helped me retain the immediacy of the scenes. I also became more aware of my tendency to interpret shadows much darker and higher in chroma than I personally prefer.
What do you think? Your comments are always so interesting to me and I appreciate the time you take to make them. Thanks you, as always, for reading my blog!!
Just to warn you, this is no botany monologue. I mean, I love nature as much as the next guy, but everyone has their limit. My limit is mass quantities of ant colonies in and around my house. This year it's been all-out war. In prior years we've had a general detente, with only a few exceptions: like when I disturb a nest while weeding under the magnolia tree and find my legs and arms covered with panicking ants. But this year the little bastards made their move and built freeways, overpasses, subways and country roads next to and inside the walls of our home. I don't believe in using a lot of chemicals, so did a google search on various homemade deterrents. Yes, I did use a couple of the basic ant & insect home defense type chemicals to start with but moved to non-toxic means for the daily battles. Today I miraculously happened to be by the kitchen sink just in time to see an invasion of at least 50 optimistic ants making their way through a tiny space at the base of the window. (They're dead now) but that's the first lesson to be learned:
I am approaching art and life with these attitudes as this plein air sketch I did in Washington illustrates. It was a cold and windy day so I knew my time was limited. (Optimism) I started with decisions of composition and line, laid in a transparent red oxide wash, wiping away the light areas and defining the major shapes. Because I was shivering and holding my tripod to keep it from blowing over, I sped through the drawing and aimed for getting the shadows and hues down. (Persistence) I had to stop when I couldn't take the climate another minute even though I knew the painting had many issues. (Failure) Later, in the studio, with memory, sketched and photo reference, I returned (Reconnoiter) to the painting and faced the challenge.
The annual and infamous Tomato Art Fest in East Nashville is happening this weekend: food trucks, craft vendors, parades, music and, last but not least, the gallery-hosted art show and sale in the former Art and Invention Gallery. The festival is pretty much only on Saturday, August 10th but the gallery will continue to display tomato art for a few days after. Gallery hours are:
Saturday August 10 9-6
Sunday August 11 12-6
Wednesday August 14 12-7
Thursday August 15 12-7
Friday August 16 10-7
Saturday August 17 10-6
@ 1106 Woodland Street (formerly Art and Invention Gallery)
Obviously this is not a serious event and so neither is the art. In fact, most of the art is wacky and whimsical, which isn't really what I'm fluent in, so I aim more for presenting this yummy vegetable/fruit in unexpected ways. These are my two entries this year:
I am interrupting my regularly scheduled blog post for this lovely announcement:
A new baby is born! Our third grandson joins the family and is as precious as can be. Isn't this perfect art? A miraculous creation of life reminds us all to cherish what has been given to us; to quiet the discontent and be thankful. Living can be hard, hearts break, but there is beauty, too. That's what I hope my paintings express. So rejoice with me! Welcome to the world, sweet baby!
Happy hot summer to you all! It's good to be home again in all the Tennessee oozy heat and humidity. We've had lots of afternoon thunderstorms which offer no relief to the temps. It's a miracle that I love it so much! What a change from a month in the Pacific Northwest where I was able to paint almost daily and the only weather-related challenges were wind and chill.
So most of my painting is taking place indoors, as well as some art related housekeeping; namely, updating my Event Page. I currently have 3 exhibits on view:
Centennial Park Conservancy
On-Line Art Sale
(click here to view)
Oil Painters of America
June 1-August 15
(click here to view)
And I am happy to announce that I've been accepted for 2 additional shows: The infamous Tomato Art Festival next month, which I was too busy to do last year and missed being part of the fun, and The Centennial Club Nashville in November, featuring small (but awesome) paintings. It's fun to see my artwork go on adventures of their own!
Here's a photo of my summery collection on display at our local public library (many thanks to Valerie for helping hang and straighten...and straighten...and straighten...oh well.)
This post will be short and sweet! I’m coming to the end of my 3 weeks in Whatcom County and ready to return to our Southern home, cats and all the summer goodness of Tennessee. With all my heart, I give thanks to every one of my wonderful friends here and for all the sweet conversations, tasty meals, lovely walks, and small adventures. I am very blessed!
Now to share the next batch of plein air paintings from the past 10 days:
Like many people, I’ve lived in a lot of different places. Sixteen years ago (has it been that long?!) we moved our family to Middle Tennessee for a better job opportunity and fell in love with the rolling hills, fireflies, humid summer nights, and green tree covered vistas. But even with all that Southern love, I’m still not “over” the Pacific Northwest, so it is fortunate that I am able to come back each summer for an extended visit. And, guess what? My friends still love me and want to spend lots of time hanging out! They also are very supportive of my painting passion and let me disappear for a couple hours to paint the beauty here, where I am staying through the end of June. Already I’ve done 4 plein air sketches in the past week, applying the recent workshop lessons of keeping things simple and quick, not trying to create a finished painting, capturing light and mood rather than worrying about impressing anyone. I’m finding out that doing the quick sketch is training my brain to see and paint with more attention to shape relationships and values. Here are the sketches I’ve done so far...I may or may not tweak them later or use them as reference for a studio painting. I’m just enjoying myself in this very pretty place....my Northwest home❤️
Thanks for reading and viewing!!
This little fellow was scampering along the path looking for food to stuff in his cheeks and store up for the coming winter. I took several photos of him hard at work one day last fall and painted this in my studio in January.
6x6 Oil on panel $275 at the Centennial Art Show this weekend.
The Nashville Parthenon originated as an exhibit at the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition and received a makeover in 2002. It is a centerpiece of the urban Centennial Park near Vanderbilt University. This view is from the SW side of the park, where you can see the skyline of downtown Nashville in the distance.
5x7 Oil on panel $275 at the Centennial Art Show this weekend.
The same day I photographed the diligent squirrel, I also walked the park and photographed many other areas and sites. This seating area is one of many that surround the Lake Watauga in Centennial Park. It's a popular place to stroll and, believe it or not, to fish. A few years ago, I met a man fishing there and we got to talking. He told me he worked the night shift cleaning the nearby Burger King and, on his way home every morning, he would stop and fish here until he caught a couple that he would take home and fry up for breakfast.
8x10 Oil on panel $350 at the Centennial Art Show this weekend.
The artists of The Chestnut Group partner with local conservancy groups to support and preserve natural and historic areas in the Nashville region. Our members spend many months viewing, studying, and painting from life and/or from their own images of the place we are promoting. In the Fall we return to Radner Lake for the show in November. This current show in the Parthenon supports the programs and events that take place year-round in Centennial Park. I hope you take the opportunity to come and enjoy the art and have your own encounter with Athena!
Hello! My name is Wendy and I am passionate about oil painting! Whether in the studio or out in Mother Nature, I get lost in the experience of capturing on canvas the moment and the feel of what I am painting. I pour my love and energy into every single piece of artwork and I hope it shows! This blog is a place where I can use words to talk about art, painting, life, faith, things that make me laugh, and things that inspire. I love every response, so don't be shy about leaving a comment...