#33: Reaching for beauty in troubled times

It’s just too sad, the world.

Preliminary sketch in my 11×14″ sketchbook of “Reaching for Beauty”

Lately I’ve been trying to fend off massive attacks of feeling rather worthless in the face of what’s going on in the world— I mean, the nasty stuff. The unbearable tragedies. The unforgivable actions of hatred, anger, violence. The incomprehensible behavior of those we call terrorists. The inexcusable shootings, kidnappings, rape, and other things too awful to mention. And of course, the other nasty stuff, like outbreaks of disease, hunger, and what-have-you.

As an artist, I am not trained to deal with global tragedy. As an overly sensitive soul, I have a hard time even processing it. As a relatively privileged and fortunate person, I grapple with guilt at how I can “help.”

My simple response has been to reach for beauty, and to make art that might offer some solace in troubled times.

To that end, my recent show “Reaching for Beauty” is now installed at a lovely little gallery in historic Wickford, RI: Coastal Living Gallery. Some new work, some not so new work, some little organic sculptures, some interesting thoughts. I am reaching for beauty these days, as the long cold winter and the incredibly sad state of affairs in the world have taken a toll on me. If by chance you find yourself in Rhode Island, please come join me for some joy, lots of color, and the opening reception of my show “Reaching for Beauty” on Saturday, April 11, 4-7 pm. (Awesome views from the deck, right on the water, in Wickford, RI.) Show runs from April 1-April 28, 2015.

p.s. To read a recent article and interview about my work, click here. As the author says, “A single artist might be powerless in impacting the world, but an individual can be profoundly changed by beauty.”

36x36", acrylic on wood panels. © 2015 Karen Rand Anderson

“Reaching for Beauty” 36×36″, acrylic on wood panels. © 2015 Karen Rand Anderson

Coastal Living Gallery

83 Brown Street North Kingstown (Historic Wickford) RI 02852

Located behind Beach Rose Café on the pier.

Open Tuesday – Friday 9:30-2:30 and by appointment, chance & special event. 401.612.6121

www.coastallivinggallery.com

#32: Vincent & <i>the Monkey</i>

#32: Vincent & the Monkey

Karen Rand Anderson:

A great blog post by Danny Gregory which fits perfectly with the depressing winter weather that has dampened my creative spirit recently… reminding me not to let the monkey get me down. Thank you, Danny.

Featured image

Originally posted on Danny Gregory:

Long after his death, Vincent van Gogh has been diagnosed with everything from schizophrenia to syphilis. He may have been bipolar or epileptic, eaten too much paint or drunk too much absinthe. Did van Gogh hear the voice of the inner critic, that toxic monkey endlessly jabbering in his head? Certainly. He had plenty of problems and one or more of them led to the events of 27th of July, 1890, when he shot himself, in the chest, in a wheat field. He hung around for another day and a half, said, “The sadness will last forever” and died.

Van Gogh was 37 and he had been painting for just ten years. In that time he accomplished so much, producing hundreds of beautiful works of art that have influenced artists ever since. His life, short though it was, left ripples.

But what if he hadn’t cut his life so short?…

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#31. 2015: Waking up, slowly

#31. 2015: Waking up, slowly

resuscitate |riˈsəsəˌtāt|: make (something such as an idea or enterprise) active or vigorous again.

A new year… already? Time to reawaken, revive, renew, resurrect, rekindle, rework, return, restore, reinvigorate, rejuvenate, revitalize this blog, my website, my art, and my body. Having dropped the “blogging ball” for the past six months (I know I’m not alone, that’s for sure), it’s time to resuscitate “Cleaning Up the Studio”, and reclaim the challenge I set for myself a year ago when I began this blog. As a personal challenge, it’s a way for me to up my own creative game and enhance my art practice, while sharing it… A platform for creative interaction, a place to engage and be engaged with other artists, and also maybe a place to step over the edge a little bit. I’m stepping up.

“Dark Reflection II” 2014. 38×48″ acrylic on linen ©2015 Karen Rand Anderson

Resuscitation: Bringing back to life. But then, of course,  ars longa, vita brevis….

#30: Happy Bday Courbet | The Premier Artist as Rebel

#30: Happy Bday Courbet | The Premier Artist as Rebel

Karen Rand Anderson:

A happy 195th birthday to Gustave Courbet, “one of the best, most audacious artists in his time, and a major player in the 19th century art revolution in France that moved the focus of art from institution to individual.” Reposting here, with thanks to Catherine Haley-Epstein for this great post. She notes: “Before Courbet, an artist was simply that – no fanfare, simply an artist/artisan. Remember it wasn’t until Impressionism that people started to marvel at the persona of the artists (i.e. Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin)…. Courbet paved the way for new perceptions of art and artists given his [insistence] on mixing personal politics with painting.” Read on, and don’t miss the last image in the post….!!

Originally posted on Mindmarrow:

Gustav Courbet,  Self-portrait (The Desperate Man), c. 1843–1845 (Private collection) Gustav Courbet, Self-portrait (The Desperate Man), c. 1843–1845 (Private collection)

“…in our so very civilized society it is necessary for me to live the life of a savage. I must be free even of governments. The people have my sympathies, I must address myself to them directly.”
– Gustave Courbet, 1850

On this June day 195 years ago in France, Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet was born. Courbet was one of the best, most audacious artists in his time, and a major player in the 19th century art revolution in France that moved the focus of art from institution to individual. He can be described as the first artist rebel – before there was an Oscar Wilde, a David Bowie, a Rage Against the Machine there was Courbet.

What made him a rebel was exactly this – he chose everyday subject matter and elevated it to the size of paintings usually…

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#29. Island Inspiration (or, when you’re lucky enough to make art in paradise)

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1893 map of Mount Desert Island by Edward Rand (perhaps a distant relation?)

Islands. If you live on one, your life is defined by either “on the island” or “off the island”, and you most likely love your island. If you are lucky enough to have a special one you can escape to from time to time, and be inspired by, well, you’re lucky.

MDI, shorthand for Mount Desert Island, Maine, is technically an island, although it’s attached to the mainland by a causeway. Geographically it’s a land unto itself, and when you drive over that causeway, you are leaving the mainland behind, and you get that sense of “ahhhhh.” Historically, it’s a fascinating tapestry, ancient Abenaki Native American history mixing with 17th and 18th century French and English exploration and settling, and early 19th century establishment of island life. (Way too much to address here.. but if you’re curious, click on the links … Great stuff.)

photo of an old print I have, a schooner sailing in Somes Sound … (my reflection is in the glass)

So much has been written about MDI and so many paintings have been produced here that it’s almost redundant to try to capture it in a little blog post, but I have a few choice things to show and tell. (Over thirty years-worth, actually… but that’s a different story.) My recent penchant for focusing on landscape is directly related to my love for this place, especially Acadia National Park, which is located on Mount Desert.

“Fall Blueberry Bushes, Beech Mountain” 12×12″ mixed media on panel ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

Naturalists, artists and writers were drawn here in the early/mid 1800’s, including Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church,  inspired by the incredible beauty and rugged terrain, and wealthy seekers of summer idyll followed soon afterward, building lavish “cottages”.  Artists, writers, and nature-lovers (and tons of tourists) are still drawn to the natural beauty here. The magic is palpable on this island…

"Cairn Shadow" 36x36" mixed media on wood panel. © 2014 Karen Rand Anderson

“Cairn Shadow” 36×36″ mixed media on wood panel. © 2014 Karen Rand Anderson

There is an Artist-In-Residence program at Acadia that offers you (as an artist) “the opportunity to pursue {your} particular art form while surrounded by the inspiring landscape of the park.” For more information and to find out the details, click here. (Though I have not been an artist-in-residence at Acadia, I know several artists who have.)

Mount Desert Island (“île des Monts Déserts”, or Island of the Bare Mountains) is a place that instills creative inspiration in anyone who has the opportunity to explore it. Choose your path…

There is so much more that I could share, but I’ll just say– if you ever get the opportunity (apply for a residency!!) come visit. Hike, paint, write, photograph, whatever.  Lucky me

"Gray Day at the Beaver Pond" 12x12" mixed media on panel. ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

“Grey Day at the Beaver Pond” 12×12″ mixed media on panel. ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

 all photos of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park by Karen Rand Anderson

#28. Post-show challenges (or, getting back in the saddle)

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“New Territory” 53×65″. mixed media on Fabriano paper. ©2014 Karen Rand Anderson

There’s a huge sense of relief after delivering a body of work to a gallery, and leaving it there with the gallery director… the next time you see the work, those paintings (or whatever it is) that you’ve pretty much lived with every day for months— are all installed in a stunning space, beautifully lit, waiting to be seen and experienced by others. [I’m truly fortunate to have my work currently showing at The Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art, at the University of Connecticut. The Gallery is dedicated to the memory of the late Alexey von Schlippe (1915-1988), an innovative and accomplished painter, born in Russia, and former Professor of Art at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point.] 

When people begin showing up for the opening, with wine in hand, saying complimentary things, congratulating you, it’s a grand feeling, for a couple of hours.

It is wonderful, if stressful, to spend months getting ready for a show, have it be installed, and then have a big opening. You see old friends, talk about your work, get congratulated. And then…. it’s over.

There is a post-opening grayness that settles in a day or two later. Getting back into the studio and trying to pick up where you left off just doesn’t happen, at least for me. That said—I’m immensely grateful and happy to have my recent work hanging in a beautiful gallery for six weeks, and it is a great feeling. (Of course, it would be icing on the cake to have the work sell.) But—getting back into the saddle is a challenge. Time to make new art. In order to make it happen….(it’s inevitable….) it’s the perfect time to… clean up the studio. ’Nuff said.

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#27. How To Be an Inspiration Machine

Karen Rand Anderson:

INSPIRATION… Some mighty useful and charged-up thoughts from Leigh Medeiros at All CreativeLike. Here’s one that sparked me: “Pay attention to your thoughts, then choose to speak and share only the ones that are purposeful and considered. The power of words cannot be underestimated when it comes to inspiration. Being a conscious editor – of our written and spoken words – is key.” A really great post which I wanted to pass along to you!!! (Thanks for your wisdom and continuing inspiration, Leigh!) To see more about Leigh and her amazingness, check out my blog post about her: #5. Getting All CreativeLike

Originally posted on All Creativelike:

9391593778_d2b6961ca7_bAh, inspiration. That abstract yet ultra-important thing that activates your heart space and jump starts your creativity.

If you’re anything like me, you make it a regular practice to seek out stories of inspiring people – people who endure challenging things with immense bravery, or who come up with clever solutions to impossible problems, or who entertain us in the most unique, uplifting ways.

When it comes to artmaking, inspiration is most often found in the works and words of others.

It’s the turn of a phrase, the pinpointed observation, the juxtaposition of two colors coming up against one another, or in the brilliantly executed pirouette. Any of these things, and many more, help us get our creative juices flowing, so it’s not a stretch to say that if it weren’t for inspirational people, our lives and creative practices would be very much diminished.

So what does it take to become an inspiration? How do we act in ways that…

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