Bella is a memorial portrait, Blue is a gift commission. Both are acrylic on canvas. Blue is 12″x12″ and Bella is 12″ x16.” They are about 75% finished and require additional touches for highlights and anatomical balance of perspective. I always reference photos where the dogs convey a feeling of happiness with bright eyes and a smile. Anthropomorphism is a hazard with dogs. I smile when they smile.
So-to-speak. On week two for the community havoc of After-Math-ew recovery phase. Most questions still revolve around “are you dry?” or “are you in your house?” If your answer is “no”… then your life has a realm of complication and intervention that warrants a long pause ready for a bit of genuine listening. There’s no room for that brief shrug-you-off kind of listening, rather it’s the how-can-I-really-help-you sort of listening. The necessary attentive pause, the kind of listening that frays your nerves after a few days. Then the creeping-in of a craving for normalcy. That back-to-basics- my-life-your-life thing that lets us all just plug along with casual indifference. The pearly oyster that’s your neighborhood–that place which usually recharges you, gives you inspiration, fuels your stories about life, wets your color palette at the easel, gets your blank canvas busy– is wounded, the whole thing fractured on the fringe. The subsequent floating anxiety, the new onset of itchy hives after the city official knocks at your door to do a damage assessment for FEMA and primary residences. You’ve had a few days to think about it. A few days to count your blessings, sit in your dry living room with your floors that aren’t peeling and mourn the loss of others and pray for the less fortunate. Because the less fortunate are just a few streets east of you. Stay tuned. I’m painting stuff when I can make the time. I post images at Twitter and Instagram. These are notes from the easel. Stop in HotShot Bakery n’ Cafe for Cupcake Happy Hour. You’ll need it.
Plein Air painting has been a tradition in St. Augustine since the area became “civilized” with hotels, electricity, and basic european-style luxuries. Henry Flagler supported artists when he built a section of the Ponce de Leon hotel to include a Northeastern wing of artists studios in 1887, inevitably hosting our town’s first art walks (more of a high-end-elbow-rubbing-champagne-sipping-silk-ruffled-promenad of whos-who in wealth, my how times change). The hotel is now Flagler College. It is on the U.S. Register of Historic Places, and is designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Several buildings around town possess a flair for Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, but none are quite as grand as Flalger’s hotel. Reflect with me for a minute. It’s not just the architectural designs throughout downtown that grip the nostalgic soul…or navigating narrow streets, in varied ratios for bricks and asphalt, that align with inconsistent angles…or even the muted turquoise/butternut/rose hues across the sky during dawn and dusk…or the sharp textured coquina of the Castillo de San Marcos (a 15 century star-shaped Bastion System situated on 20.5 acres along the bayfront).
It’s more than photos of our downtown area, it’s a sense of place. It’s the magic of local courtesies, regular crowds and the palpable pulse of creativity projected by each enthusiastic artist. Our town faces more than the challenge of traffic and parking (I urge you to think outside the box with this and ride your bike, or walk), it’s about saving its soul. Saving the pulse of what makes it feel so beautiful. Trust me, I have been a lot of beautiful places that don’t feel beautiful. You can still celebrate a little bit of the down-home with solid architecture and thoughtful urban renewal. I love Hypolita Street and Aviles Street when compared to the topographic bumps and irregularities evident just ten years ago.
Most of all, people who care still nurture the creative force of progressive talent and design, preserving and protecting what already works. Sometimes it’s something simple like the flower garden surrounding the Bayfront Marin House at 142 Avenida Menendez. A few months ago we coordinated a group of Plein Air artists to meet for a morning session at Bayfront Marin House. Thank-you, Sandy and Mike (owners) who were so supportive to our group of inspired artists. It’s clearly evident with the help of supportive folks who really want to bring back the local tradition of Plein Air painting throughout downtown (I’m talking about painting, not selling artwork), it can happen. The collective efforts of coordinators (me included) for the Anonymous Society of Artists is reviving some of that heart and soul with its mission. The idea is to bring artists together and nurture traditional methods of depicting our favorite spots, no fees and no membership–just show up with your inspired soul and art supplies. It’s what makes our downtown district so unique, the physical evidence of that creative force. It’s what tourists want, it’s what locals want. Thank you to our new City Mayor and City Commissioners for implementing positive changes for our local community of artists.
from all sorts of places. What get’s your creative juices flowing? Maybe some travel (staycation, backyard adventures), the sunrise or the sunset, artsy blogs (busymockingbird.com), images at Instagram, 140 character poetry on Twitter, Nova and science, art history, local speaking events…well the list just goes on and on to infinity and beyond. The only real ingredients are a cup of curiosity, a tablespoon of observation, a sprinkle of caring and a dash of inspiration stirred by your favorite art tools. Art comes out of your metaphorical bowl of goodness. Recently I watched Noah Bradley’s new Art Cast 3 at Youtube. It reinforces that inspiration is a main ingredient for success. Strive for balance. Right now I am exercising a bit of a self-inflicted art-biz sobatical. That means, at present, I am not actively pushing for art projects which I could if I chose to push myself. But, I choose to rest. Some much-needed rest. In three weeks I resume night classes and this current pattern is a bit of self-preservation and low-voltage-trickle-recharging. It’s necessary for success. My artistic discipline is still intact. I sketch in the morning and continue web-surfing with my favorite on-line references and networks, I do artsy stuff locally. Downtime, I love listening to Public Radio: This American Life, RadioLab, TedTalks, Terry Gross just to name a few. Also, the gentle and meaningful advice of West Coast Artists: Chris Oatley, and Noah Bradley. Both focus on artistic survival and nurturing others through their art-lesson-creative-incubators. Note to self: My NPR stations (WJCT/FL and KQED/CA).
Here’s my chance to share a flash-back moment, a re-cap of a personal -artistic-tipping-point. A few years ago I was listening to Radio Lab and their featurette “Dark side of the Moon.” Here’s how it influenced a story I wrote, “Only two things thrive in dark places, mushrooms and astronauts.” That little tidbit of philosophy helped me describe how our local art group, The Anonymous Society of Artists got started. Blast with me back to the past… to 2011 …with its waivering economy still wobbling post-economic-crisis.
“The Anonymous Society of Artists was born as a group during the economic crisis of 2011. It was the brainchild of me and another artist who felt the traditional methods of networking and marketing art were not providing a supportive environment for fledgling artists. We lived in a great town with a huge artist population and all of it seemed too competitive and selective. Some of us needed more choices and support.
Two things thrive in dark and isolated environments, mushrooms and astronauts. I was beginning to feel “in the dark” and pondering how to thrive that way (not like an astronaut) before I sparked off on the idea of our art group. I was financially broke and working in a transition job which didn’t pay enough to cover my mortgage. Two out of ten acquaintances were unemployed or underemployed.
My house was rented to a family of four…and their overactive dog. I was displaced and doubled up at a friend’s house. Every time I drove by my humble property I pondered one more potential repair from the wear and tear of four restless people living in my 1100 square feet, 100 year old Bungalow. I was emotionally parked in the shadow of a perpetual sense of impending doom.
If I could just breathe enough then I would get through this life transition with a firm grasp of some esoteric Tao principles. Or, I would lose it all. There were no imaginary rockets launching in my darkness or bright light bulbs until I started shooting for the moon with the idea of bringing artists together to support each other as a way to overcome singular financial obstacles and still create stuff.
Who did I know that had tech skills? Who had people skills? Who could tell stories? I could think of two people and that meant I needed a larger network. The idea was to create enough opportunities for such people to meet and greet each other that good things would happen. Artists might encourage each other and get unstuck from whatever was holding them back. Maybe it was a slightly Marxist approach for the collective and common good of talented yet unlucky, unpopular or undiscovered artists. But it could work.
One goes from cool, shadowy grey and opaque to rather bright and sunny with the idea of hope and resource. That is why we have a light bulb for our logo. I was poised to lose almost everything that defined me financially and I wanted to paint my way through it, get one thing in my life unstuck. I wanted my imagination to be with me. It’s where I find my sense of humor, crucial in the face of uncertainty and discourse.
Ideas are free- no charge. Getting involved had to be inexpensive (or free), have reasonable expectations for those who worked two jobs and offer genuine support to those who joined forces. I refused to give up the regular, low-radar, patterns of my social network and decided to develop this art group idea with another artist who had a similar fundamental vision and a firm grasp of the digital tech world which would reach the virtual masses.
We launched our ideas while sitting on the porch of our regular hang-out. If you shoot for the moon you might hit a star, or feel like an astronaut. Our art group’s name came from the historical spin of the Impressionism movement during the 1870s. (Seemed fitting for a town populated by artists and surrounded by history.) Most people think it’s because we want to be anonymous and that’s OK too. But, historically Anonymous just meant you had not been discovered by the mainstream. Your technique or style might be unconventional. In modern times it might mean you have bad luck or no luck at all. But none of that matters when you are surrounded by friends. We just started doing stuff we had only been thinking about.
it’s hard to know what that is, isn’t it? Choices. Do little, or do nothing. Delimmas. It’s easier to just go to the movies. Yup, did that. Saw HTTYD 2. Wow. The whole movie revolves around animated action, story, endearing voice script and lock-your-eyes-with-dragons-expression. Can you really look into Toothless’ eyes (when they have those dilated rectangles and a hint of emotional moisture, whole-hearted-wonder) and not anthropormophasize crytopzoology? This week is Planet of the Apes, can’t wait.
I was so blitzed by expressive big eyes that I almost bought a rabbit after that movie. Whimsy, yeah. Impossible cuteness and improbable solution (I halted when my over-active-mind-visualized my future bunny nibbling on the glossy wooden edge of my Cello). Insert image of a wide-eyed cartoon character and (voice-over) Hiccup squealing “Toothless! That will not wash off!” I read Google’s ref. for ten steps on how to tame your rabbit and I opted out. Life is an inspiration. In four weeks my schedule will be insane and unfair to anything cuddly. I’ll go to the drawing board, safer.
The Public Library has rows of DVDs, and checked out HTTYD 1 just for animation saturation points.
Rambling and wandering are good. Serendipity feeds the soul, and the creative process. As Nancy Moreland reminds me, “not all who wander are lost.” Well..who’s lost anyway when all you need is a phone these days? GoogleMaps, Google anything. I would like to see a studio exhibit on up-cycling that antiquated stand-by, the phone book. Have you ever asked for one? I did two years ago and the response was “Don’t you have a phone?” Oh. There must be a higher purpose in art (at least) for a once indispensable household item. Sigh. So many things have slipped by the way-side these last ten years. It’s shocking. Rotary dials, phone booths, flip-phones, phone books. One could make a documentary film on how the phone models and morphs our culture. Just one super-star, the phone. My handicap, I forget my phone is a Tool. I’m tactile and an avid reader, old school. I won’t blow my money on a new outfit, but I will spend $6 on the Sunday edition NYT. I still buy stamps at the Post Office. The Clerk thinks it’s endearing when I have to thumb through the whole box of stamps and pick the most Artsy ones, I’m fast about it and it makes him smile. I like riding my bicycle to the P.O. and slipping a letter with a stamp into the mail slot. The Post Office is almost as cool for climate control as the Public Library.
I have been reminded again that I should be on FaceBook. I’m on the fence. Most of my time is engaged in Face-Time. Real Time, with Real People. (Uhm, unless you are with me on Twitter or Instagram. That’s my virtual Social playing field) Warm bodies I prefer. Maybe it’s the enthusiasm, the palpable energy. Whoknows? I can’t diminish what I get from meaningful souls like Chris Oatley and Pascal Campion. Listen to the PodCasts @ChrisOatley.com Even if you are not an illustrator striving to create in the animated World, you will still feel the Creative Force.
Also, Monday nights are Hot for Art in St. Augustine. Figure Drawing is offered at the Art Association, 22 Marine Street from 6-9 p.m. (Bring $10 for this professional event) AND Next Monday offers something New and FREE for Artists. I just love new things, free things even more. A small bit of effort, you will need to RSVP by-Thursday 7/17 (904-209-3643)! Check out details on the attached flyer. Just more good stuff on Marine Street, at the River House. Don’t forget to join our steadfast art group, The Anonymous Society of Artists– always offering groovy locations which are politically safe for painting and networking. The objective is not to get arrested. Remember the City of St. Augustine has rules for where artists can paint in the downtown area. (We hope to influence positive change with this)
Find me on Twitter and Instagram, search: jeandrayovitch.
Be good, or be good at it.
some of us just brush each other the right way, some the wrong way. When speaking of creative endeavors, it’s best to surround yourself with those who do the brush thing right. Whether it’s painterly skills or people skills, it all matters and it’s all connected. Who you are as an artist is directly connected to the image you convey, your presence. I hate to admit it, but it is a very personal thing.
I think life is stranger than fiction, so I offer you a true story. On Tuesday, I was in DOS coffee/wine bar indulging in a caffeine blitz and chatting with Julie (who offered great tips for PechaKucha Nights) when a fella, an artist, wandered over to us and started asking about the local art scene. He had moved to our wee town from Ashville N.C. where he had no luck breaking into their art community.
Here we go– The life lesson here is about brushing right and brushing wrong.
First question to this inquiring artist. I asked if he had a business card, No. OK, sometimes I forget mine. But, I always grab a napkin to write on, something if the person seems genuinely interested. Or pick up the Smart/i-Phone and SEARCH (That biz-card request seems old-school, I know… but I stick to my guns about this. It’s transferable– It’s concrete, it fosters a connection…it-requires-some-eye-contact. Maybe this seems small, but when a stranger is fishing for tips and some endorsement I want a hook-line-visual somewhere.) Next question. Do you have a website, No. (Sideways answer, “I’m on deviant art.”) Hate to break it to you, but no-one is going to go searching for your visual stuff. It needs to be easily web-browsed and linked, shared, viewed. And here’s where the whole chit-chat session went to brushing-me-the-wrong-way. He glanced down at his fingernails and started picking at the dirt with the sharp end of his mechanical pencil. Conversation over. What can be gleaned from this? Never underestimate the potential for spontaneous off-the-cuff connections. And, if you are trying to break-good-with-locals into the art network of your next new town then leave your fingernails alone. This artist (I never did see his art, partly because he wanted to touch my phone which is creep-EEE) was truly bewildered about why nothing was happening in his art world. Sigh.
OK. Flip side. How to brush people the right way. Do you have an artist-friend who’s having an Art opening/Reception? Go. Got an Artist-friend who is feeling big jitters before heading to the West Coast for 6 weeks of intense studio time? Cook a spaghetti dinner and fold Origami One-Trick-Ponies. Got a professional Artist-friend who wants to give you some valuable tips about painting/palette/plein-air techniques, then actively listen (it’s OK to cock your head like a puppy, that really gives good effect and shows genuine interest). Side Note: To Actively Listen is not an oxymoron.
What I’m pushing for here is awareness about our creative worlds. They can feel small, mostly solo, and our performance benefits from the pulse around us. Here’s the challenge: Reach in, reach out, and be agreeable. Brush people the right way.
Side Note: Upcycling is not just for crafts and trash, it’s for the canvas and studio space too. Revise, refine and re-boot whatever isn’t working for you. And here’s an image of artists brushing each other the right way at DOS coffee/wine bar.
go hand in hand. The Vernal Equinox, March 20th, marks the calender for “equal night,” meaning the night is equal to the day. That doesn’t last long though…as our days start to stretch out a little longer. Spring will fast become Summer.
This morning The Anonymous Society of Artists met at the Lincolnville Community Garden for a breezy paint-out. The sun was bright, just a few days post Vernal Equinox and feeling much like a new spring day. The garden shed was tidy, gardeners were busy weeding and composting their plots. Dandelions dotted the grass with bright yellow faces and older white heads. Garden variety weed… Edible. (But, do you trust there is no pesticide on THAT wild weed?). Give-in to the temptation of blowing airy puffs of parachutes and seeds, scattering white fluffy orbs into the wind. Just like blowing bubbles.
Time flies just like dandelion seeds in the wind. This past week was Spring Break, off from the work week. “Extra” time quickly grinding to a halt. There was much less free time than I expected. Much less got done than I expected to do. I felt very busy. With what? College on both Saturday mornings, two evening classes, a fender-bender on the truck, house chores, reading assignments, bike week, Seafood festival. Where does the time go? Poof! Gone like the puff of a white dandelion head.
There were two creative projects on my desk, one is finished. This is a 6×6 canvas. The under-painting for this was a dark blue color. Saved me some time with mixing dark colors on a limited palette, with limited water source during the paint-out Over the last few weeks I have been utilizing Sharpie markers or pencils for plein air sessions. Doing that felt kind of like cheating, like I wasn’t artsy-painterly-enough…I wasn’t working hard enough. Right? Felt guilty? Yup. So, today I resolved to give-in and get the acrylics back on the paint palette. I was determined to work at it in a disciplined and focused way, to problem solve, to paint something on a canvas. (Even if it is only 6″) Goal accomplished. Small, yet meaningful.
News from the artist’s neighborhood: The Red Sable is open now at St. John’s Printing Shop, near Flagler College on King Street. Whoop! Whoop! We have art supplies downtown! Melissa will also be open late for First Friday Artwalk on April 4th. The Grand Opening event will be on Saturday afternoon, April 5th, with music, snacks and visual arts. The Anonymous Society of Artists will help generate an artsy mood; our booth will be set-up during the Saturday afternoon event. Join us in congratulating Melissa Roby for providing an excellent inventory of art supplies @TheRedSable.com I am so happy to be able to help her with this dream project.
Speaking of dream projects, kudos to Heather Hamel for completing her first book tour with “Kobi, Memoirs of a Mustang.” She sold over a 100 copies. Celebrate one more life-goal-achievement in the Creative Empire.
Art, time, music. I have not stopped practicing the Cello. There is no time, so I don’t know how it happens. Magic? Sheer force of will power? Nothing is convenient, there will never be enough time. So… Let me remind you that if you haven’t gotten to all your things yet, don’t start the bad habit of “Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda” on yourself. Stay sustainable, be kind to yourself. It’s important. You are The Creative Empire. Defend it.
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Sharpie and colored pencil on drawing paper.