Last weekend I hosted the first opening ( we'll be having another this Sunday ) of a show I put together for thirty of my students. The title of the show, "Sharing the Vision", seemed quite appropriate as I spoke to an animated gentleman who told me that he was missing his glasses. As he gestured to my paintings, he smiled broadly, and said "I suppose you call this Impressionism, I don't even need my glasses, I can't tell what this is with them on or off!"
If you've ever endured an opening or art fair you will recognize this fellow. He takes delight in the stealth foray into unsuspecting artist occupied lands. He will often lob the critic bomb when your defensive lines are still open.
My reaction; I took a quick breath in and pasted a lopsided smile on my face as I quickly back- peddled away. A clammy handful of opening treats restored my good humor until I saw another excited fellow gesturing wildly at my work. He was planted before the same painting as bomber number one.
Shoulders squared, I marched in to be met with another, and most welcome, point of view. This art enthusiast gazed at my work and said, " I don't know how you do this?! I wonder about these people and their story. You let me ask, Why is she here? What are these two talking about? Where is this place? I love it!" And there he was - my collector.
I may have finally arrived at the point in my work where the high and low of it is in balance.
I know that my work is not everyone's cup of tea and I've learned to be thankful for that. It seems to me that if one's work doesn't generate a discussion or immediate reaction ( good or bad as the viewer see it) then it just might be mediocre work.
It's been almost a week since that opening and I'm in for more tomorrow. I know that many of my students will be there, some with their heart exposed and tender, easy marks. When I announce the awards there will be a mix of anticipation. Hope and disappointment live close together in this arena. I can teach the practice of making art but I can't teach the living of a life in art.
That can only come by embracing the high and low of it with humor and hopefully a bit of grace.
" Hot cakes and coffee" 18 x 24 pastel. www.bonnieparuchart.com
Friday, July 12, 2013
Rainy day - LaHaina 16 x 20 pastel
In 2011 and 2012 I completed a series of 80 small paintings which became the resource for my blog and a book " A Brush With Life" which I self published this May. Many of the ideas for these little gems have stuck with me. I rarely - really never - paint the same painting twice. It hasn't interested me. But recently, I've played with the concept of using the small works as inspiration for larger and more complex pieces. I've added the twist of painting them in pastel verses their original form as oil paintings. Now I'm interested!
Most of the small paintings have sold and so I find myself working from my photos of them, creating even more distance from the original piece. La Haina Rain was my inspiration for my first second look.
LaHaina Rain 6 x 8 oil Private collection
When I compare the two paintings, I see the same concept but the expression of my original idea - its intention- differs. Painting alone in the studio is like working in a mine. Sometimes you can strike gold and other times come up with a clinker! The second look approach has given me another mine shaft to explore. Perhaps I'll strike it rich, perhaps I'll find a deeper voice.
I remember my mother asking me this question many years ago, "Don't you ever get tired of painting? My answer was a quick , "No!". I'm a bit older and wiser (maybe) now and the search for meaningful ideas has become more refined and defined by life. I'm learning that many expressions are worth a second and different look. I hope you find something new in Rainy Day- La Haina. copyright Bonnie Paruch, PSA. www.bonnieparuchart.com
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Summer Market 6 x 8 oil
Several days ago I found myself holding some family history in my hands. I welcomed the opportunity to relive memories but I wondered what to do with the tattered boxes of our kid’s grade school mementos, old report cards, childhood crayon drawings and yellowed photos of folks even my parents couldn’t name. These old boxes have moved around with us for years holding a place on the shelf at every place we’ve lived.
When we moved here we embraced the small house idea and built a cute, efficient and small house. My studio and an out building round out our “homestead” giving us needed work space, but inside the house and our half basement, storage is at a premium. When I found these old boxes it occurred to me that the objects and papers in my hands were no longer meaningful to anyone but me. During this past year several of our good friends have been faced with the task of sorting through their loved ones things. It’s an experience that can be overwhelming. Valuing and de-valuing the stuff of a life can change the way one looks look at possession and intentional letting go.I’m a gatherer. It’s always been my nature to find and keep mementos of significant days. Stones, shells, snips of paper, gatherings of words, beautiful images, old worn tools and other eclectic things find a way into my hand and space.
Yesterday I did some pruning. The stones and shells I gathered on a trip to Florida went into our garden walls. The mementos from the keepsake boxes were sorted and gleaned and one small file remains. Extra clothes and furnishings went to those who could use it more. I know that letting go of a thing does not diminishes its value as long as the memory of it prevails. From now on my focus will be on relationships, on gathering moments with my family and friends. This collection will last my lifetime without cluttering my life or burdening someone else. As an artist I constantly collect and discard images and ideas taken from life. Today I thought I would share some new moments frozen in time, gathered and set free. All images copyright Bonnie Paruch www.bonnieparuchart.com
North Bay Night 6 x 8 oil
Thursday, May 9, 2013
"Donuts and Cake" oil 20 x 20 private collection copyright BonnieParuch
You’ve probably heard the expression about success, as “having one’s cake and eating it too!” I’ve been thinking about that lately. This is my first season in Door County as a fully independent artist. For the past twenty some years I’ve been represented by wonderful commercial Fine Art Galleries both here in Wisconsin, and in the Southwestern States. When I first stepped into the national arena, I held the perception that to be a successful artist one had to enter the “big leagues” of commercial representation. Over time, I’ve re-thought that perception.
I am situated in a vital artist colony and collector destination. Like many artists in this area, I benefit from the collective and cooperative art spirit that flourishes in the art scene here. Historically, collectors and artists alike have been drawn to art engaged communities such as this. Provincetown, Cape Ann, Taos, Santé Fe, Old Lyme…these are a few examples of many special places that began with artist exploration and vigor.
I’ve discovered that there are two distinct types of collectors, those who enjoy “finding” and meeting an artist to establish a personal relationship and those who seek the anonymity and cache of a commercial gallery.
I’ve benefited from both situations. As I’ve matured as an artist and grown more comfortable in my “skin”, I have found that I enjoy my personal space and studio more and more. Sharing my work within this framework simply makes me happy, is more personal and frankly, is more profitable.
Many artists have been successful role models for those who seek independence. Locally, painters Gerhard Miller, Jim Ingwersen, and Emmett Johns are among this group. I suspect that we share common purposes to create what we want, to share our creative process and to make a living. Fame is not a common goal. Occasionally, I work with a student or artist whose professed desire is to be famous. I know this is a slippery slope, not for the unwary.
My new space is perfect for me. When I walk into my studio I’m greeted by a beautiful display gallery which is alongside my working space. It feels like home, like “me”.
It’s been a long road to this place and we’ve put in lot of hard work along the way. Right now, I feel like having some cake.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
While I was growing up I could always depend on the porch light. It was a little beacon that never wavered and was never forgotten if I came home after dark.
Last night we spent some after- hours’ time in my studio. We were trying to keep ahead of the handy man who is working on a project to create more display space for me. As the daylight faded I briefly glanced up the hill toward our house and saw the warm glow of light coming from our kitchen. It said welcome, come on in, and I’m waiting for you.
I realize that the sight of a light in the darkness has always brought me home and made me feel safe. Vern and I continue the tradition that my parents started. We always leave the light on when we expect our kids or guests to arrive at night.
When I teach, I often talk about the value of light in my work. Perhaps what I really want to share is the meaning of light in my work.
We are in a time in history where the constant, swift dissemination of news has created a feeling of both instant gratification and instant dread. We know every detail of every conflict in the world as it happens. Sometimes the world seems to be a dark place.
Last year a brilliant poet came to interview me about my creative process. He was gathering information for his research study of the differences that might be found in the creative design of writers, musicians, painters, choreographers …
He asked me what role an artist played in society. I responded by saying that an artist plays a role as an entertainer, magician, educator, among other descriptions. He was very distressed that I did not immediately include social activist in my assessment. I have thought about that conversation quite often. Some art is obviously motivated to provoke or attack societal mores. Other artists choose a quieter path to share their unspoken message.
As for me, I leave a light on.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
"Winter Willow" 8 x 8 oil
My studio is under attack. Everything is under wraps and stuck into the back third of my space while we begin a small remodeling project. As a result, my painting opportunities are confined to the great outdoors for the next week or two. One day last week, I headed out. After driving around looking for both a subject and a safe parking place amidst the snow banks, I settled on a grand barn near Europe Lake.
At a quiet crossroads I found precarious spots for both me and my trusty van. They consisted of two patches of asphalt "kitty corner" from each other, each plowed a little wider than the rest of the roadway. Not quite legal parking, but, safe and quiet in winter! So I thought.
I had just parked and was walking from my van with my gear when a guy drove up and stopped. He rolled down his window said, “I was just thinking how great some of these old barns are and then I see you with your camera ready to take some pictures!” My painting set-up includes a tripod for my portable paint box so I guess he assumed I was a photographer. “Nope”, I said, “I’m going to paint the barn”. “Yup” he said “You’re going to take photos to paint from”.
“No” said I, beginning to mime painting with a brush. “How often do you come out here to shoot photos, what kind of camera do you use?” said he. So it went…I finally gave up trying to explain and he gave up on me with a perplexed shake of his head as he drove down the road.
Finally, happily set up to paint, I concentrated on my drawing and began blocking in the shapes of the barn. Suddenly, directly behind me, I heard a door open followed by a loud growling and deep barking. It was a huge Doberman, confined in the chain link fence surrounding the property I was pitched next to.
Okay. I admit to being a bit nervous, but, there was that fence. I kept painting till I realized that the snow banks were high enough for the fierce sounding fellow to climb over!
Just as my common sense and survival instincts kicked in, a door opened and I heard “Diesel! Diesel! Down! NO!” And “Don’t you worry he’s just a big baby!” GRRR….Growl>>>>Bark!
The kind property owner did bring Diesel in. Three more folks in cars stopped to see the frozen woman painting. The animals in the snowy yard disappeared and called to me from the warm confines of their barn. The light changed. A rooster crowed. I painted a golden willow and red barn and …had a blast. Get out there.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Just recently I had a conversation with a good friend who was bubbling with excitement about an idea. Lori and I have painted together many times. One day, I showed her a new oil painting palette that I had made from an old light weight frame and a birch panel. I am more comfortable if I don’t have to look down and twist to mix my paint. One studio day I had an “ah-hah” moment. I glued a 16 x 20 birch painting panel into a simple frame. I attached a small stabilizing board with a receptacle for a quick release plate and voila! - I have a nifty, large and light weight palette that I can attach to a tripod. Lori plans to take this palette idea a step further and make a lightweight panel-holder-palette to lighten her plein air painting load.
Making the things you need (or want) is an amazing and satisfying endeavor. It is totally engaging, fun and challenging to create a tool. My dad, Alex, was a maker of things. I must have gotten his handwork gene watching him make jigs, carve and design his woodworking projects. Our youngest son, the metal craftsman in our family, was on his grandpa’s lap helping with his woodworking long before he could see the top of the workbench. Our academic son has embraced the art of building things. His experience building a deck with a friend has lead to a workbench, chicken coop, and home brewing! A handmade project can make life more entertaining and a bit more meaningful.
Last summer I shared a handmade project, a small paint box, with a group of workshop students. They loved it. The small pochade box is assemblage of a thrift shop wooden box, an inside out bracket and a few “what’s-its”- and-fasteners from our hardware store. It works great and has become my favorite tool for painting from my car.
One day in early fall two of the students invited me to see what they had “made”. In a room full of their new plein air paintings they proudly showed me the plein air boxes they had made from, an old drawer, a cheese box, a pile of nuts and bolts, and of all things…a sprinkler tripod!!! Both of these folks could probably well afford a store bought plein air box but the joy they had in making them is priceless.
Ingenuity is the mother of invention. Invention is the soul of creativity. Creativity is the foundation of a handmade life. Make something.