Lessons in Art and Piano

Pure exhaustion made me miss my “Focus on Black” post last Friday, so I’m posting this morning to avoid the same mistake this week.

Today, I’m using children’s art to “introduce” African American artist Romare Bearden.  Even though Bearden is far from an “unknown” artist, few people know who I’m talking about when I reference his work:

Considered one of the most important American artists of the 20th century, Romare Bearden’s artwork depicted the African-American culture and experience in creative and thought provoking ways. Born in North Carolina in 1912, Bearden spent much of his career in New York City. Virtually self-taught, his early works were realistic images, often with religious themes. He later transitioned to abstract and Cubist style paintings in oil and watercolor. He is best known for his photomontage compositions made from torn images of popular magazines and assembled into visually powerful statements on African-American life.  -from Biography.com

Last year, my favorite (now retired) second grade teacher, Mrs. Crarey, introduced her students to Bearden’s work. They studied his art, noted his interest in jazz music–which influenced some of his art–learned about his collage technique and then created their own Bearden-esque masterpieces. [Click an image for a closer look]

The children used rulers, pencils, Sharpies, crayons, and markers to imitate Bearden’s collage style. As you can see, they used piano keys patterns for their borders.

I pretty much love everything Bearden created.  The Piano Lesson: Homage to Mary Lou is my favorite, probably because it was the masterpiece that inspired African American playwright August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, one of my favorite plays.

The piece was inspired by jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams who collaborated with Bearden’s wife, Nannette, on a musical and dance composition.  If you are familiar with Henri Matisse’s The Piano Lesson and The Music Lesson, you will see his influence on the work as well.

There are two versions of the work–the original:

Romare Bearden’s  “The Piano Lesson: Homage to Mary Lou” (popularly known as “The Piano Lesson”). Watercolor, acrylic, graphite and printed paper collage on paper.

And a signed lithograph:

Romare Bearden, “The Piano Lesson,” Lithograph

For more about Bearden’s life and influences, click the links below:

The Bearden Foundation’s page features more resources such as a timeline and an impressive collection of Romare Bearden’s artwork.

Until next time…

Dreaming Art: Liberate Your Art Side Swaps

As in years past, I did a little side-swapping after the Liberate Your Art blog hop.  April and May are pretty crazy-busy around here, so I don’t check my post office box as frequently as I should.  When I finally checked, there was a mailbox full of postcards waiting and I jumped for joy when I saw the collection of art.

Here’s a quick look at nine of the ten postcards.

The first postcard came from my faithful postcard pal, Christine B. I met Christine via LYA 2016, but our friendship has grown via Love Notes, which she introduced to me last spring.

“Thistles,” photo by Christine B.

Christine captured this photo in England. She writes that the thistles remind her of “spires” and provides the etymology of the word: Spires–Derived from Old English, spir, meaning a sprout, shoot or a stalk of grass.

Lisa C. sent a great big “howdy” from Texas with her “Dream” photo:

She shot this image as a storm was coming in and later “photoshopped” the tree into the photograph.  I love cloud formations and the unique shapes they make.

You can find more of Lisa’s nature photography on her blog, Chasing the Sun.

I’ve swapped with Sherry H. for the past few rounds of LYA. She sent her mixed media “mountain bird” with greetings from Amook Island (Alaska):

Mixed media art by Sherry H., Amook Island Creations

She printed a simple but inspiring message on back:

Conceive. Believe. Achieve.

Sheila D., with whom I’ve also swapped almost every year I participated in LYA, sent a beautiful watercolor of blues, greens, and purples–a field of purple wildflowers (yay!):

“Wildflowers,” Watercolor by Sheila D.

Sheila encourages, “Keep sharing your art with the world!”  You can see more of Sheila’s watercolors on her blog:  Sheila’s Corner Studio.

Suzette R. sent a textured yellow rose:

“In the Thicket of Things,” Photo by Suzette R.

She shared a quote:

Surely a star danced in Heaven on the day you were born. –Flavia

An interaction with Suzette a few months ago led to the creation of Karle’s Wings. [Thanks, Suzette!]. You can find out more about Suzette and take a look at more of her beautiful photos on her blog, Notes from the Road.

Pat M. of Serendipity shared a gorgeous mixed media magnolia on canvas.

“Magnolia,” mixed media by Pat M.

This piece began as a photo to which Pat added paper for texture and then oil painted.  This is definitely a technique I will try this summer. She also shares a quote:

To be an artist is to believe in life.  –Henry Moore

My “neighbor,” Patsy (PJ) from Tennessee, shared an interesting painting:

“Painting in a Book,” by Pasty L. (PJ)

The painting was completed in an altered photography book using acrylic paint and oil pastels.  The colors come from the original photos on the page.

Janice D. creates beautiful and inspiring mixed media pieces, some of which have a prominent place on one of my inspiration walls. She shared her “Dreamer.”

“Dreamer” by Janice D.

And writes:

Never let it be said that to DREAM is a waste of one’s time, for DREAMS are our realities waiting.  In DREAMS we plant the seeds of our future.

Finally, Christine sent a second card–a sweet reproduction of one of her fabric cards.  I shared an original fabric card in an earlier post.

“Fabric Hearts,” reproduction of a handmade fabric card made by Christine B.

Christine sent the card with a wish that it will “fill [me] with love.”  This card is one of my favorites–I have a thing for hearts, like I have a thing for purple and sunflowers–so it’s headed for an inspiration wall.

I have one more postcard to share, but I’m saving that one for another day–maybe, tomorrow.

For now…thanks ladies, for the beautiful artwork that brightens my journals, my walls, and my days.

If you missed the postcards I received through the regular swap, you can find them here:  Experiment, Create, Play, and Liberate.

Ciao!

Tardy for the Party: Liberate Your Art 2016

Imagine my chagrin when I checked my email the morning of April 18th and realized that I’d completely missed the Liberate Your Art 2016 Blog Hop! I was sick for days about it. I blamed Tax Day and the madness of April for my missing out. Oh well. I eventually dusted myself off, and now LYA is my first blog post for May.

Again, I participated in Kat Sloma’s Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap, a swap she founded to encourage artists of any medium to share their art with the world. The postcard party just completed its sixth year.

This year there were:

  • 1050 pieces of art liberated
  • 175 artists participating
  • 12 countries represented

I received all six of the postcards that were sent to me this year. Here they are:

"Innocence" by Amy Irwen

“Innocence” by Amy Irwen, November 2015

Amy hails from Rosemount, Minnesota. She created a handcut collage made of paper, ink, paint, and gel medium transfer.  The attacks on Paris in November 2015 led her to create this piece, a commemorative of lives lost.

LYA 2016-4

Art Journal Painting by Linda Richards

Linda sent greetings from Sunny California.  She shared a reproduction of a painting she had done in her art journal while visiting her son in Missouri.  This image with earth tones and splashes of reds, yellows, and blues is calming and exciting at the same time.

"Journal of My Soul," Rosanna Pogaun

“Journal of My Soul,” Rosanna Pogaun

Mabuhay from the Philippines!  Rosanna sent her beautiful flower with God’s blessings of love and a reminder that the good news is written on God’s handiwork as well as in the Good Book.

"Twilight Eagle," by Diana Brady

“Twilight Eagle,” by Diana Brady

Diana also hailed from California.  She shared her “twilight eagle” with a gorgeous purple sky and the silhouette of trees in the background.  On the back of the card, she penned a poem by an anonymous Native American poet:

What is Life?

It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and
loses itself in the sunset

Light and Bird Mosaic

Light and Bird Mosaic

While we’re on the subject of birds…The artist who created this gorgeous mosaic did not sign a name, but wrote a brief poem on the back of the postcard:

Light and Bird
fused
in the
transparent
morning
sky…….

If you’ve been following my blog over the last year or two or three, then, you’d know that the last postcard sent for the “official” LYA swap, comes from Kat, the swap’s founder, coordinator, and all-around awesome person. She sends her card as a “thank you” to participants.

LYA 2016-5

“Gatekeeper” by Kat Sloma

Trees are among Kat’s favorite thing to photograph, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised to see the trees. I love the way she “stacked” this photo allowing the trees to serve as primary frame for the moon but still hold their place as focus of the photo.  You can find more about how Kat crafted this photo here: Masking in Stackables (Mobile Tutorial).

She typically includes the a LYA motivational thought on the back. This year:

LYA 2016-6

And Kat’s last word of the swap–

[Kat Sloma] I created this year’s final celebration art piece to remind each and every one of us that we are on a journey. We may start on the path of liberating our art timidly, fearful of the response we are going to get. Art is such a personal thing, it can feel like we are putting a piece of our heart and soul out there, where others may reject it. But you know what? The more you liberate your art, the easier it gets. The more confident you get. You just have to keep taking small steps.

Kat Sloma’s Final Piece for LYA 206

Kat typically ends the celebration with a piece she creates. Notice how she weaves the postcards sent for the swap into her “final” creations. She writes:

I created this year’s final celebration art piece to remind each and every one of us that we are on a journey. We may start on the path of liberating our art timidly, fearful of the response we are going to get. Art is such a personal thing, it can feel like we are putting a piece of our heart and soul out there, where others may reject it. But you know what? The more you liberate your art, the easier it gets. The more confident you get. You just have to keep taking small steps.

Thanks, ladies, for all your beautiful work!

Now, of course, we can’t “participate” in the swap by simply receiving postcards. We have to create something and share it with the world, so tune in tomorrow–or maybe, the next day–when I’ll share the postcards I sent for LYA 2016 as well as postcards I received in “side swaps.”  I still have many left, by the way, so if you’re interested in a “side swap,” let me know.

Want more artistic inspiration?  Check out the LYA 2016 Blog Hop.  Hop to it!

 

 

Illuminations, or “Check out My Big Bro!”

"Green Belt" by Dennis Tyler Photography

“Green Belt” by Dennis Tyler Photography

This is less a blog post and more a shout out to my older brother, Dennis, whose work is now on exhibit at Agora Gallery in the Big Apple.  Dennis is an amazing photographer who has, for my entire life at least, always had a camera in his hand.

Illuminations: an Exhibition of Fine Art demonstrates “the thoughtful beauty of Dennis Tyler’s photography” which “emerges with an ethereal clarity, capturing fragments of eternity in an exquisite visual meditation” (from Agora Gallery Press Release).

If you’re in New York anytime between November 4 and November 25, drop by and take a gander at his work. Agora Gallery is located at 530 West 25th Street, New York, NY (212.226.4151).

Click the image to go to Agora Gallery and for more information about Dennis Tyler’s exhibit

If you can’t get to New York this month, check out his work here: Dennis Tyler Photography.

He also has a Facebook page you can “like”: Dennis Tyler Photography on Facebook.

I am so proud of my “big” brother.  He’s the reason I quickly remind people that photography for me is a hobby not a profession.  Many can pick up a camera and craft a few good shots.  The artists, however, consistently move us with their work.

A “Red, White and/or Blue” World: Not a Political Statement

Sometimes, I get a little too busy to share all the goodies that find their way to my mailbox, so on this exciting Saturday night as I get a jumpstart on laundry, I’m stealing a moment to share the beautiful notecards swap-bot Sharp Shooter “Midteacher” sent to me a few weeks ago.  These were sent for a “Red, White and/or Blue” swap hosted by one of the group founders, Lou.  She hosts a color-themed photo swap monthly.

Midteacher

“White Flowers” by Midteacher

Midteacher

“Red Flower” by Midteacher

Raspberries by Midteacher

“Raspberries” by Midteacher

Daisy by Midteacher

“More White Flowers” by Midteacher

Isn’t this a beautiful bundle of cheer to find in a mailbox?  Check out the detail of the raspberries! Midteacher edited the two photos on top in an app.   I love the linen fabric treatment.

I played around in an app with two of the photos I sent to my own partner for the swap.

Blue Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden at New Orleans City Park

Blue Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden at New Orleans City Park

Red Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans City Park

Red Dog Sculpture @ Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans City Park

You might be familiar with famous Cajun artist George Rodrigue‘s loup-garou, better known as the “Blue Dog.”  There are three of the “dog” sculptures in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Gardens at City Park in New Orleans (there’s also a yellow one). I edited these two in the Waterlogue app which was an obsession several months ago.   I think I like the app because it makes me feel like an artist. 😉

Here’s another of my “Blue Dog” modifications:

"Black and White and Blue All Over"

“Black and White and Blue All Over”

Only the dog kept his color.  These photos were shot three+ years ago. Frankly, I’m not crazy about any of “dog” photos–original or modified.  If I were to capture them again, I’m sure I’d take a completely different approach.

What’s red, white and/or blue in your world?

“A Little Something Extra”

I’ve desperately needed to do blog posts for the last few months, but I’ve had to face the unfortunate reality that there was neither time nor energy for anything extra. Since I have so much to share, I determined to find a few minutes today to share at least one item that’s made my mailbox and me happy over the last few weeks.

About a month ago, my friend and visual artist, Amy Bryan, posted a collage of her “woman” art on Facebook and I just had to have it.   Amy had postcards of the collage made, sent the link, and I was the first to order the postcards (yay!).

Here’s the postcard!

Amy Bryan, NOLA Artist

Amy Bryan, Visual Artist, New Orleans, Louisiana

Amy collaged a representative sampling of her woman-centered art.  You can get a closer look at many of the individual images featured in the collage on Amy’s website.  I ordered a set (10 postcards), but, in true New Orleans fashion, Amy added a little something extra, or as we New Orleanians say, “lagniappe.” I was over-the-moon excited when I opened the envelope and found not only the postcards I ordered (+3) but this wonderful print:

"Woman Holding Mustard Greens," by Amy Bryan, Visual Artist

“Holding Mustard Greens,” by Amy Bryan, Visual Artist

This piece, destined for framing and placement in my office, was created on the iPad using the Ukiyoe app.  Amy has created stunning pieces of art using this app.  I especially love her Ghana Series.  [Note: The scanner does little justice to this print]

Amy works with various media, as you can probably tell from the collage.  If you’re interested in learning more about her and her artwork, see her website.

Oh–I almost forgot to mention–Amy created a Christmas ornament that was selected for placement on the White House Christmas tree a few years ago.  That was a proud moment! Amy kindly gave me one of the Christmas cards she designed featuring the ornament, but it disappeared shortly after I received it. My best guess is some post-Katrina mice ate it.  They were a little rampant on campus for a little while Post-K.  :-/

 

 

 

Gifts for the Soul

Guess what I found in my mailbox today?  A wonderful package from Brit, a student who just graduated with a B.A. in English.  I met Brit in the fall when she took a Creative Drama course under my instruction.  We bonded immediately.  She’s a sweet spirit.  Bright, warm, giving.  She’s on her way to becoming an amazing early childhood educator.

Brit sent a journal featuring George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte—1884. Considered a masterpiece of Pointillism and the French Post-Impressionist‘s best known work, the painting shows members of different social classes enjoying leisure time in the park.  The 10-foot-wide painting took the artist 2 years to complete.   The journal cover (front and back) is embossed. The photo really does little justice.

Journal Cover Front

Journal Cover Front

She also sent another little something for my soul—My Personal Daily Prayer Book by Christine A. Dallman and Margaret Anne Huffman.  The beautiful gilt-edged book features a prayer, passage of scripture and a meditation for each day of the year.  There is journaling space at the end of each month.  Publications International published the book.

My Personal Daily Prayer Book

My Personal Daily Prayer Book

Brit inscribed each and also enclosed a very touching card.  I am doing a lot of meditating, reflecting and writing this summer, so these are perfect for the kind of summer I’m having. Thanks, Brit. You know your (former) prof very well.  Hearts and hugs to you!

My Personal Prayer Book by

My Personal Prayer Book Cover