Saturday, September 23, 2017

Paint From the Heart

As a story teller and symbolic painter, I often question whether a painting delivers the impact I am aiming for. Many pieces that are personal and close to my heart have not had the recognition in the competitive art world that I hoped for. Yet I am compelled to paint what has meaning for me, and not something that necessarily conforms to the more traditional water media expectations.

Recently, however, two very personal pieces did get accepted into shows, and I am happy that two jurors saw something special in these paintings.

"It's Me, Margaret" will be hanging at the WSO Fall show at the Mt. Hood Community College Visual Arts Gallery, Troutdale, OR. Paul Jackson is the Juror for this Exhibit. What did he see in this painting, I wonder. This is an image of my mother at 97 years old, just days away from death. I painted her skin so carefully, trying to capture all of her amazing 97 years with colors, wrinkles and gnarliness. . She wore her wedding ring until her last day on this planet. By placing her in a night sky, removed from all her earthly connections, I hoped to convey the idea of the great question we all face--what comes after this? If you are a reader, you may remember the young adult novel by Judy Bloom, "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret." I borrowed part of that title for this painting. And, yes, my mother's name was Margaret.

"Without Hair" was accepted by juror Iain Stewart for the Northwest Watercolor Society's Waterworks Exhibition in Bothell, WA. This painting came after spending months with my daughter as she underwent a stem cell treatment to halt the progression of Multiple Sclerosis. We had so many conversations about a woman's life without hair.  Rachel was brave enough to be bald some days and other days she wrapped her head with colorful scarves or plopped on a jaunty cap. (That's another painting.) I asked her to write some of her thoughts about being a woman without hair. I placed those words around her silhouette. I placed a sunflower (her symbol) as an adornment to her head. As the petals fall, they turn into locks of cut hair at her feet. The scissors reflect that it was her choice to take the risk of this revolutionary treatment which caused the loss of her hair. She is brave and powerful and stands by herself.

Sometimes, painting from your heart is rewarded!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

While the Blogger was Silent . . . Art Life was Continuing.

A Busy Summer

Although I live in a rural, lightly populated area, our summers burst open with activities. I love gardening,

and hosting family; inspiring art making and

       horseback riding.

I fit in a trip or two as well.

And then came the  eclipse! We found a wonderful campsite (avoiding the 1 million predicted Oregon visitors) and beautiful meadow to view the big event in totality!

Art Entries and Acceptances

But while my day to day life was filled with summer distractions, the competition entries and proposals for exhibits were being looked at and contemplated. And last week, two pieces of wonderful news came in:

1) I will have a solo show at the Newport Visual Arts Center from November 3 through December 30.

This will be a show of my river series paintings including water, herons, and fish. I am so looking forward to see 20 or so of my river paintings all hanging in the same room!

2) Two of my paintings were accepted into the "All Things Salmon" exhibit at the Coos Art Museum.

I am totally honored and excited to have 2 paintings in this exhibit! 

The Last Hurrah
Transparent Watercolor
21 x 29
Giving Back the Gift
Transparent Watercolor
21 x 29

Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Trip to Alabama

I've never been to Alabama before nor had I really thought of it as a destination for a vacation. However, when a close friend invited us to her wedding in Montgomery, Alabama how could we refuse? And what a wonderful few days we had in the warm and balmy to hot and muggy South.

A few images come to mind when I think of Alabama: Selma.

Image result for edmund pettus bridge selma alabama

Image result for edmund pettus bridge selma alabama

We did drive to Selma one day to find it much smaller than I imagined. The population today is slightly over 20,000 people, with a median household income is $21,635. The pride of the place in history that Selma holds is very evident. One local gentleman where we ate lunch struck up a conversation with us. When he found out that we had driven from Montgomery, he said, "So you drove over the bridge."  His tone of voice dropped to near a whisper, almost prayer like. Yes, we drove over the bridge.


In Montgomery, we were asked over and over if we had been to Spectre. For those of you, like me, I had to be reminded of the Tim Burton move, "Big Fish." The movie set of the made up town of Spectre is just a few minutes drive from Montgomery. It sits on an island with a gate fee of $3 per person. And after a half day of helping the soon-to-be wedding couple in their sunny back yard, we were ready for an air conditioned drive to a country setting. 

Of course this is a movie set and the buildings were built for exterior viewing with no interiors. Since the movie was made in 2003, the buildings are pretty dilapidated, but the setting is charming and there was a cool breeze off the lake and a great herd of goats running wild in and out of the buildings. 

Angelica and this little goat (now named Karly by Angelica) became best friends.

The Wedding

This was a beautiful occasion joining two amazing people in a ceremony/celebration unlike any I've witnessed before. The backyard gathering of family and friends before the wedding was casual with food and drink. It was great to meet the friends of Adrienne and Russell's who came from all over to see them get married and we mingled and chatted until the sun fell below the trees to shade the yard. 

Then the wedding ceremony began with poems and meaningful, personal vows. Tears flowed and a community of witnesses felt honored to be a part of this union of two special individuals.

After the ceremony, we marched, yes marched, behind a police car and a brass band playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" to the reception which was held in a gorgeous private home nearby.

The Civil Rights Memorial Center

On our last day, we returned to the history of the Civil Rights Movement with a visit to the Civil Rights Memorial Center. Because Adrienne and Russell both work for the Southern Poverty Law Center, the wedding attendees were given a couple of hours to visit the center privately. This memorial was designed by Maya Lin who also designed the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C.

This memorial honors those who died during the Civil Rights Movement. Learning more about the people and the events from 1954 to 1968 is educational for the young and old alike. And as the signage says, "the march continues." 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Workshop in Portland: "Adding Content to Your Art"

What a joy it is to share with others what I've learned over my years of painting, as well as what I practice in my own art journey!! This past week I had the privilege of working with six artists who were not only interested in what I had to share, but also were courageous in working out of their comfort zones. I think every participant in this workshop tried something they had not done in the past and will continue to carry with them ideas that will effect their art-making in the future.

For those of you who are not artists, it takes guts to face a white sheet of paper and put something personal and meaningful on it for others to view!

Although this was not a technique based workshop, I did share some tools I use for bringing my personal voice into my paintings such as making my own stamps and collage materials. I encourage doing research and writing during the planning stages of a painting. I believe all these things help an artist create an authentic, unique and evocative painting.

"I enjoyed beginning with an idea and having some tools and techniques to get going on it."

"The most meaningful for me were the interactions and reflections on my message."

". . .the encouragement to bring who I am, what speaks to me and my journey into my work."

"Great workshop! I liked the balance of teaching vs time to work"

"Margaret was generous with her knowledge and products. It was thoroughly enjoyable without pressure and plenty of time to make art."

" . . . working beyond painting just for technique and craftsmanship. It was meaningful to have one-on-one time with the instructor."

I brought many of my own paintings from several series and did short demonstrations each day. My talks included explanation of my own process, techniques used to get different effects in my work, and lots of questions and answers. On the last day I demonstrated how I create very saturated dark for my "Night Sky" and "River" series. Below is a class photo, minus the photographer, the participants' work, and me with my night sky beginnings.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

An Artist's Work is Never Done

After the large, combined conference (Watercolor Society of Oregon and Western Federation of Watercolor Societies) was over April 9, I took a week off. I pulled weeds, read a book, did laundry, vacuumed corners--in other words, I took some time to get my home-life pulled together. But the following weekend, I traveled to Coos Bay, Oregon to attend the opening reception of the Expressions West Exhibition at the Coos Art Museum (CAM).

It was a delight to visit with other artists, meet new folks, and have a good visit with my mentor, Katherine Chang Liu. The beautifully hung exhibit at CAM is full of good art with expressive color. A real bonus to visiting the Expressions West Exhibition is that Katherine and fellow artist, Eileen Senner have a striking two-person show upstairs at CAM. Aside from all the festivities of the opening, I was honored to win an award for my painting "Teen Dreams."

Teen Dreams
Mixed Media, 29 x 21
But as the title of this posts indicates, as an artist, I must continually come up with more art to display, enter into competitions, while selling a painting or two along the way.

So what's next? There are always competitions to enter, but I try to limit the number I send images to. I plan on sending images to San Diego Watercolor Society's 2017 International Exhibition and the National Watercolor Society 2017 International Open Exhibition next week, both big shows I have not yet had work accepted. Many of these exhibitions require work done in the last 2 years, therefore, an artist cannot rest on her laurels! Studio time and creativity are always on my mind.
And I am very happy to have an upcoming workshop in Portland, May 3-6. This workshop is something I've developed to help other artist add more content to their art. Although I have taught many workshops in the past, this is the first one focused on content. I am excited to see how it goes. I truly hope the artists attending will go away with fresh ideas of how to express themselves and new creative energy.

I will keep you posted and review the workshop from my perspective.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

After a Big Build-up, "Pour It On" Arrived

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For years the Watercolor Society of Oregon (WSO) has been preparing to host the Western Federation of Watercolor Society (WFWS) Annual Exhibit. It was our good fortune to be able to hold both exhibits at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon. The museum also agreed to have a 12 piece exhibit of our Juror Jeannie McGuire's work. These three shows are full of color and energy. The shows demonstrate why watercolor is truly fine art. As the co-chair of this big event (including a 5-day workshop and a 4-day convention) I am now sitting down to catch my breath.

I had several very nice things come with this convention regarding my art. My painting was featured on the postcard published by they JSMA as well as the 8 foot banner that you see above. On top of that, "Will She Be Allowed?" was the featured colored painting in the Register Guard's article about the Exhibit. And to top off all that recognition, this painting won an award from Juror Jeannie McGuire.

Will She Be Allowed?
Mixed Media, 29 x 22
*Winner of an Award of Merit*
I have two other paintings in Oregon exhibitions this spring. One is in Expressions West at the Coos Art Museum. That show opens this Friday in Coos Bay, Oregon. I will be traveling down to the opening reception to enjoy the art and see which paintings Juror Katherine Chang Liu has chosen for awards.

Teen Dreams
Mixed Media, 29 x 22

And today I ordered the mat and frame for "When Women March." That piece has been selected by Juror Ruth Armitage for the Emerald Spring Exhibition 2017, in Springfield, Oregon. That show opens on May 5 and will show for the month of May.

When Women March
Aquamedia, 18 x 24
I do hope you all find an art exhibit to visit soon, whether it is here in Oregon or in some other state. I know I have gotten so much inspiration from seeing how others paint and think and express their creativity. Now I am needing to settle in and start painting some of the many, many ideas residing in my mind!!

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Honor and Responsibility of Being a Juror (and tips for presenting your work)

This past weekend I was in Portland jurying the Spring Show at the Oregon Society of Artists. I am
always honored to be asked. It indicates that someone thinks pretty highly of my opinion and skills in judging fine art. (You should see the piles of books on art I own!) But aside from the honor is the responsibility to go into a show and look for paintings that not only "speak" to me, but also exhibit use of good technique, an understanding of strong composition and design elements, and have a professional presentation.

I enjoyed the opportunity to see so many great paintings and connect with good artists. It was not an easy task to pick only 7 award winners from this outstanding exhibit of art. I also send a big thank you to the OSA Board and the show coordinators who made my work as easy as possible. They put on a fabulous reception where I was able to talk about art in general and my award choices.

I will be teaching a workshop at the same venue, OSA,  in May.

Margaret Godfrey: "Adding Content to Your Art Mixed Media"
Thursday - Sunday May 3 - 6, 2017
$395 four days Limit 20 students
call OSA to register: (503) 228-0706  (503) 228-0706

Over the years of selling my work, I have become serious about the importance of presentation. It is the artist's job to insure that the framing shows off the artwork. If I am asking someone to buy my work, I have a responsibility to mat and/or frame it in a way that makes the buyer see the care and pride I have in my art. A mat should be clean and sharply cut with a good 3 or more inches around the painting. A frame should enhance the work, not overwhelm it. If an artist reuses mats and frames (which I do) they should be retired when they show wear and tear. If a painting is on canvas and the sides are in view, they should be carefully painted, stained or finished in a careful manner.

Here are a few photos from yesterday's reception and close-ups of award winners.

My sister, Barbara with me at the Gallery

The crowd enjoying art
And the Award Winners

Introduction by Board Director, Tim Mahoney

In the OSA Gallery

 March 5 - 29, 2017
Spring Juried Show: Works by OSA members.
Juror: Margaret Godfrey
 March 5 - 29, 2017