Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Snowball Effect: Signs of a Full Life

I used to think of the "snowball effect" as the crazy time post-Thanksgiving through New Years Day. But this year I've been "snowballing" since the first of November and, as I look at my calendar, I don't expect it to end until the end of January. Let me say that this is not a complaint, it is a appreciation of a full life!

November started with two trips to the Oregon Coast. We enjoyed the music of the Newport Symphony and the company of relatives. Then in a quick turnaround we spent a couple of days in Yachats with our Alabama friends, Adrienne and Russell, who became engaged while there.

We raced back to Eugene to attend the opening of the current show at the David Joyce Gallery, where my painting "The Nineteen Percent" is hanging.

We just settled back into our home and studio for a few days before it was time to fly to Gilbert, AZ to have a week in the sun and celebrate Thanksgiving with our younger daughter and her family. We were delighted that my sister, Janice, traveled with us. Here is a photo journal of our trip.

Before Thanksgiving, Marin and I painted a chalkboard on her bedroom wall. Here she is prepared to run the sander.

Auntie J. enjoying the lively kids.
Our hosts, Rachel and Josh.

Hannah now has 2 more missing teeth--she's a Jack-o-lantern!

Noah is a meat guy!

The fancy "turkey" tray Rachel and Janice put together.

We were lucky to meet so many of the Carter's friends--
they hosted 25 family members and friends for Thanksgiving dinner.

And, of course, a little pool time.

I talked the kids into some photo shoots for future night sky paintings.
Art News:

I received the good news that "Will She Be Allowed" will be hanging in the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, OR as part of the WSO Spring 2017 Exhibition.

I also have this award sticker from Artist's Magazine for having a painting selected as a finalist in the animal/wildlife division. The painting I entered was "Herons' Winter Dreams."

And now we've moved into the December Christmas tree hunt which only required 4-wheel drive and chains. I am ever thankful that I found this Yankee on the East Coast and coaxed him to the West.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Hourglass Figure

Once again this past summer, I traveled to Ventura, CA to spend two weeks in an art retreat with Katherine Chang Liu and 20+ other artist. My paintings created during that time were all focused on women's themes: freedom of choice, the right to vote, equal pay, etc. I tried out different ways to put my ideas on paper.

I pulled this piece out yesterday to photograph. When creating it my focus was women's bodies: how women are expected to have, told by advertisers, pressured by society to work toward the "hourglass figure." Many women just aren't born with that potential. Through the years we age, gravity prevails and our bodies no longer have the youthful curves and lovely skin.

So that is the story I was telling in August. But when I looked at the piece this week, I so clearly saw how it related to the current political fray. I almost felt like a clairvoyant. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sometimes I listen: Before and After

I created this piece, I See You, a few months ago. It was based on my experience sleeping under the night sky on rafting trips where the connection with our ancestors seemed strong, and the waking hours in the middle of the night were comforting. As I watched the "W" shaped stars of Cassiopeia move across the sky, I was interested in what she might have looked like in the eyes of the Greeks. 
Many friends asked why she had a nightgown of with two different colors. To me it represented the figure's connection with both the sky and the earth. But as I had to explain my thoughts, I realized that the painting was becoming more about the nightgown than the connectivity between us and our ancestors, and the peaceful moments under a night sky which I wanted viewers to feel.

Then I put the painting in a critique session at the Watercolor Society of Oregon convention. The juror felt that the green earth conflicted with the blues of the sky. Where is the color unity?

So I brought the painting out this week and let go of the "preciousness" I was hanging on to. If resolving the questions about the nightgown, and questions about the green earth would lead viewers to more clearly see what I was trying to communicate, then I should change it.

What do you think? Have the changes  to I See You redirected the focus of the painting to the relationship between humans and our imagination of the unknown that the night sky evokes?

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Lesson in History: Why Hillary Wore White

So where do paintings come from? Is it an idea floating around until it lands on an artist? That is a bit like I see it. I get an idea and it takes awhile to ferment and brew until I start seeing the painting itself.

This painting started with the big picture of women's issues. It was triggered also by this tumultuous election and campaign we are experiencing. So there are a couple of ideas percolating with more to come.

To add more content, I started reading more about the Suffragette movement. I looked at photographs from both England and America catching women in droves marching for voting rights. I then learned that there were colors woman wore to show sisterhood in the movement. In England, ribbons of purple, white and green were made by Selerfridge & Co. for women to adorn their hats, representing the 3 symbolic colors English Suffragettes wore.

Finally I came across an article about Hillary Clinton's choice to wear white for her Democratic Convention acceptance speech. The choice of white was a nod to the women who marched a century ago to gain the women's right to vote with the 19th Amendment. How could I not paint about that!

The working title is They Marched for Our Future. Do you have a title in mind?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Women: Another Painting

"Lightly Beaten" is my working title for this painting. Being an idea driven and symbolic painter, I could not get the piece I heard on the radio out of my mind. Did I hear right? In Pakistan, a law has been proposed that allows a husband to lightly beat his wife.

That sent me to the computer to verify and read more about this. Here is a brief quote from the Washington Post: "The head of a powerful Islamic council is refusing to back down from a proposal that makes it legal for husbands to "lightly beat" their wives in Pakistan."

My brain started churning. How could I paint this story? I started looking at the attire of Pakistani women and children (my theme in this series). I looked at photos of Pakistan and a painting began to take shape in my mind. The mosque became the backdrop for the figures as a symbol of the extremist religious leaders proposing such a law. The women are in a posture which says, "what can we do?' And the child is jumping away. What will her future be?

I'd like to share the details of the actual painting of this piece. As I took on the large task of simplifying the architecture and decoration of the mosque, I found I really enjoyed creating the detail and patterns in the mosque. It was painted with admiration and respect for the beauty of the building, despite my symbolic use of the structure. 

As I painted the women, I thought of them as gems. The colors they wear and poses as they sit are so feminine. 

And the child--I painted her leaping into an unknown future. But I hope it is a future of more freedom!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Thinking Ahead--Upcoming Workshop 2017

If you are like me, if I don't put something down on the calendar, I miss opportunities. And if the post-holiday blues get you down, here is a great art workshop to brighten up February.

This is a new workshop I'm presenting, so take a look and sign up early, as there is a limited class size. The 4-day workshop will be held in Portland at the Oregon Society of Artists. And feel free to contact me with any questions: msgodfreyart@msn.com.

Oregon Society of Artists
2185 S.W. Park Place
Portland, Oregon 97205

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jumping the Gun

Ten days ago, I finished and posted a painting that I felt excited about. My joy was partly due to the fact that I had not had much studio time lately, but mostly because I loved the design, colors, and simplicity of the piece.

But as I lived with it and got comments from various people, I realized that I had missed the mark when the main figure did not read as feminine. Also people were seeing ethnicity in the figures, when none was intended.  One art friend said he thought the top chef was a Swedish man!

Since the idea behind the story is the fact that most top chefs are male. It is a difficult journey for a woman to get the same kind of recognition in the restaurant world. In fact, women represent around 19% of top chefs.

What did work were the colors, the design, the left white, and the idea. What failed was the main figure. I guess it is mostly androgynous. I wouldn't say that the painting failed, because I see it as fun and interesting, but it doesn't say what I meant.

So the last few days were spent with a redo. Let me know what you think. Below is the first rendition of Top Chef.

Top Chef
29 x 22 inches
Transparent Watercolor

And below take a look at version 2, "Nineteen Percent."