Tag Archives: painting

The Unknown Artist that Everyone Loves

Despite it’s tragic ending, most of us of a certain age remember with great fondness the Disney film Bambi.

Originally released in 1942, it’s considered one of the finest examples of animation from the 20th century.

bambi_tyrus_wongYet the artist responsible for the backgrounds, the atmosphere, the ‘look and feel’ of the film is still largely unknown. Tyrus Wong, 104, died Friday Dec. 30th, yet another remarkable artist to pass on in 2016. You’ve probably never heard of him, however, due to the lack of acclaim offered to Chinese Americans of his generation.

Wong worked as a staff artist in Hollywood beginning in the 1930s. He created storyboards and concept art for both animated and live-action films, many of which are  beautiful paintings in their own right.

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Born in China in 1910 he arrived at Angel Island at age 9 and was promptly detained under the Chinese Exclusion Act. Eventually he was aloud to join his father. It took until 2001 until Wong received  recognition for his remarkable work.

Fortunately for him, and us, he lived a long and creative life.

Read more about Tyrus Wong, here:

 

Winning While Not Winning

Back in September I applied for an artist’s residency at Big Bend National Park, an opportunity to live and work for a month in one of our largest and most remote wilderness areas, right on the Mexican border (image above.)

As I worked on the application, I gained a new understanding of why I paint the way I do:

My painting is both objective and reverent observation, a deep, active appreciation of the natural world.  My aim is to inspire others to look more deeply and develop a more profound appreciation for our world.

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I wrote quite a bit about why painting on the Border would be important to me, and I’ll explore that in a later post.

I didn’t get selected for the residency. When I got the email I was mildly surprised, as if I really believed I would. In the email from the National Parks Art Foundation was a personal note that I was one of the finalists. Which felt really good.

Last year’s Artist in Residence at Big Bend was painter Dawn Waters Baker. I fell in love with her work instantly. I feel it beautifully captures what I had imagined creating at Big Bend.

Please go look at Dawn’s beautiful paintings and leave her comments if you can.

Dawn talks about ‘the emotional landscape’ –  not what is there but how we experience it, what we feel. That really comes through in her luminous paintings. They are filled with awe and a deep respect for the space. And she called the final show Reverence.

I’ve never been one who takes rejection particularly well. But this was a whole other experience. I got to know myself better by applying. I looked forward to bigger, more spacious paintings and the magic of a desert landscape. I enjoyed dreaming about how I would fulfill the residency requirements. And then I fell in love with Dawn’s paintings.

I feel complete, or pau as my Hawaiian healer friend Carol Burbank would say. It’s all good.

Cherry Blossom Joy!

I try to get out and paint plein-aire from the Yoshino cherries during their brief and glorious blooming. It’s always unpredictable! This year it seemed imminent, then a cold front delayed their progress, then BAM! an explosion of flowers.

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Ducks check out the Photographer

When I first came to Washington, I expected something gaudier. I was amazed by the subtle beauty of these earliest blooming trees. They are a ruddy color before their buds open, then a soft pink when they’re newly opened. Finally they create a soft glow of white with but a memory of pink, as if a cloud were caught in the dark and twisted branches of the old trees.

Morning at Capitol Plaza
Morning at Capitol Plaza

Saturday I spent the day with easel and paints under the pale clouds, enjoying the color and all the other folks who came there to do the same. Lily got lots of petting and I got one small and one large canvas started. It was a perfect day.

If you’d like to join me, leave a comment. I plan on heading down again on Saturday April 2 from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm. Visit me on Facebook for daily updates and spontaneous painting trips!

River Painting: Deep Summer Afternoon

I’m in the last throes of completing a series of river pictures that have been ‘almost done’ for weeks now. I nudge each of them forward every time I get out the palette, and yet they seem to stay stubbornly in the ‘not quite yet’ camp. ALMOST!!

Last Sunday I completed this one: (click for larger view)
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Deep Summer Afternoon, ©2015
20″ x 16″ Oil on board; $500 unframed

This was one of those summer days when you can feel the thunderstorm wanting to happen. Living on Piscataway Bay gives me the most wonderful relationship with the sky. I am so much more in tune with the movement of weather and celestial bodies than I was living in the big woods.

Moyaone Market this Saturday, October 3rd.

Come on down for new paintings and new things happening at Clearwell Studios

My Shadow, the Fannibal

One definition of myself holds that I’m a kind-hearted person who shouldn’t love violent and scary stories, serial killers or for god’s sake CANNIBALS.

But, due to the mysteries of fandom, I find myself on the edge of my seat tonight, and tweeting with a few hundred thousand, maybe more, Fannibals for the finale of the NBC TV series Hannibal.

I swore I wouldn’t watch it. I didn’t like the books, and Silence of the Lambs was too creepy. I don’t need a vicious killer show to watch, life is too short. I don’t remember what changed my mind, but it was only a few months ago that I watched the pilot episode and I was hooked from the beginning.

I’ll not try to sell you on the show; it’s been cancelled, (although vigorous Fannibal lobbying may have some clout) it’s about an elegant murderous cannibal and a mentally unstable profiler who have an unhealthy obsession with one another – not everyone’s cuppa.

If I did make my case, it would sing the praises of the writers and particularly their excellent gender swapping of key characters. Also, the use of myth and alternative states of consciousness is fascinating as well. The Wendigo and antler theme are amazing and beautiful.

I would also laud the art department, including the food stylists, who work under the direction of none other than Jose Andres of restaurant fame. Everything to look at in this show is a feast for the eyes.

Well, one more surprise, for me, as I am still scratching my “I’m supposed to be a nice girl” head: I’m cleaning out folders on my Mac and find a painting from 2010 called Integration, that I created for some very deep and intense therapy work.

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It’s very Hannibal-esque. I guess I should have known.

Summer Painting

You can catch me at the monthly Moyaone Markets, where I often have art for sale and in progress. In good weather I love to set up outside and invite anyone to make art with me, and that’s what I did at the August 1 Market, a blissful summer’s day.

I had a variety of guest artists of all ages, and we had fun in the dappled shade, splashing our watercolors, sprinkling with salt for cool effects, and watching the colors run and bloom, just like the flowers we were painting.

Haven’t you wanted to pick up the brush or pen and make images? What’s holding you back?

Next Moyaone Market Saturday September 5
9am-1pm  •  2311 Bryan Point Rd, Accokeek MD

 

Color is Life

I’ve written about my struggles with depression; the past few weeks have been challenging, with the loss of a dear friend, a pet’s death, plus health and money woes. My faith has been tried.

Years ago, when a fellow depression-sufferer asked me, in the throes of her illness, “What keeps you alive when things get bad?”  I knew well the feeling, seeking for a shred of hope. As I gazed across the yard, and saw the shaded sky, the mirror lake, the deep green pines, the word just rose to my lips. “Color. I live for color.”

This week I arose before dawn to paint the sunrise. It was ostensibly in honor of Solstice, but in truth it was intended to wrench me out of my sucking depression.

Painting was good medicine. But the Supreme Court decision on Friday, unleashing a tidal wave of rainbows, is really buoying my spirit in splendid waves of shared joy. Hallelujah, it’s a rainbow! May your life be colorful!

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Art in the Open Air Studio

Painters have been busy in the beautiful open-air studio here in the Swamp Forest, my pet name for Piscataway NP’s hidden Moyaone neighborhood, just south of DC. The mild summer temperatures have made outdoor art a pleasure, and my students and I have been taking advantage of this.

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New Mexico ©2013 Neil W. oil on canvas

Meet Neil, Accomplished Oil Painter

At the ripe old age of 15, Neil is quite handy with a brush. He and I have worked together for about 2 years now, and I’ve had the joy of watching him gain mastery over this ancient technique.

Neil loves the landscape; he’s a hiker and a camper, active in Boy Scouting and soccer, so for him, plein-aire painting is just another outdoor activity – one he really enjoys.

Bumpy Oak Road, ©2013 Neil W.
Bumpy Oak Road, ©2013 Neil W., oil on panel

We’ve worked on-site and in the studio, in fast-drying oils on paper, canvas and panel in a variety of sizes. Neil has a great sense of composition —the fundamental arrangement of shapes within a painting — a tough skill to lear, or teach. He’s learned a great deal about the nature and science of color, pigments, and how to mix colors that create the illusion of space and shape.

Neil will be exhibiting in his first show, the Charles County (Maryland) Arts Alliance Fall Art Show, a multi-media public exhibit, to be held at the Waldorf West Library, 10405 O’Donnell Place, Waldorf, MD, from October 2 to December 30, 2014. 

A “Meet the Artists” Public Reception will be held on Saturday, October 4, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, at the  Gallery to honor all the artists participating in the fall show.

For more information on the Waldorf West Library Gallery or the Charles County Arts Alliance, call the CCAA office at 301-392-5900, or email info@charlescountyarts.org.

For more information about art lessons contact me with a comment here or email patrisehenkel@gmail.com

Cherry Blossom Time!

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This Sunday April 13th if you’re in the DC area you can come and join me and other plein aire painters while we paint cherry blossom landscapes at the foot of North Capitol Street. Click on the map for directions.

If you are NOT local, click HERE.

Bring your sketchbook, easel and brushes, camera or phone, picnic or dog, or just your eyeballs. These are some of the prettiest trees in the city, complete with Capitol view and reflecting pool, andthere’s parking on the weekends.  (Please don’t tell anybody! It’s my big secret, just you & me.)

UntitledLast year we went to Fort Washington Park and there were just a few lovely old Yoshino trees, but no water for them to reflect in, which really makes them extra pretty.

You can tweet me at @PatriseArt for realtime info, in case I just can’t take the beauty of the day and end up there sooner, which seems very likely.

Carpe Diem!