Friday, June 09, 2006

Flower-a-Day: Trellis

You can see by looking at this what kind of weather we're still having here in Connecticut! Ugh! But I'm not going to talk about that anymore, on to more interesting matters. This is part of a small 10'x10' garden plot that used to be a vegetable garden. At one time it had larger trellises which supported cherry tomatoes, and the plot was home to lettuce, summer squash, pole beans, cucumbers and even potatoes one year. Trouble is the nearby oak tree kept growing year by year and the garden took on more and more shade. Then it became an experimental nursury where I tried out different plants and nurtured divisions and started things from seed. Today it's a pretty well established semi-shade garden filled with coneflower, daisy, yarrow, coreopsis, clematis(on the trellis) on the sunny side and hardy geranium, coral bells and loose strife( not the invasive variety) in the shade, with feverfew sprinkled throughout.
Last June I took a workshop with Charles Sovek at the Lyme Art Association. I consider Charles Sovek to be one of the great living modern masters of American art. After painting for 50+ years his style has evolved into an amazing fusion of realism and abstraction. Bold, bright colors applied with abandon in a dot/dash/blob style depicting traditional subject matter. A perfect blending of traditional and modern. He is also an excellent teacher focusing on solid, traditional basic skills. If you're an artist(or want to be) definitely visit his website and check out his free lessons in The Basics, or take a look at "Why this Painting Works" where he helps you analyze why great works of art are great. Then brew some tea and browse the galleries of his work. Sovek's style really speaks to me and I absolutely adore his work, so much so that I took another workshop with him this past October. At first I purposely emulated his working methods, palette of colors and style in an effort to glean as much as I could from this master artist. Here is a version of this same small 10'x10' garden painted just after I took the workshop:

This was painted in acrylic and definitely shows the Sovek influence. I did a number of paintings in this "style" in the months after the workshop. But alas, in the end we all have to find our own authentic means of self-expression. It's taken me a whole year to integrate what I learned from Charles and make it my own. I kept the loose, dot/dash/blob brushwork and gave up trying to render detail. Which was something I had long wanted to do. While I like the bold, bright colors I found that I needed to tone them down a bit, but I kept the emphasis on color. I found that I love quinacridone rose or red, a color I had never used before. I focus on using three values to create form and design(something you'll learn in The Basics) something I'm still really working on mastering. There are probably other things that are still working their way into my creative subconscious.

The really amazing thing to me however, is how long it took to really digest everything I learned. Artistic growth is not something that can be rushed. It's a very gradual process that goes on internally almost unnoticed by the artist. That's a good thing to keep in mind when you're discouraged and in a slump, I suspect that it's precisely at those times that significant growth is going on under the radar and you can expect a breakthrough sometime shortly therefter.


Phyllis said...

Hi Jan, I remember this painting from last year. I enjoyed it then and still find it a pleasure to view, but like the newer version much more. It reflects your growth and personal style. Considering the flower series, I suspect that you have a truely beautiful garden. Appreciated your comments on artistic growth. Phyllis Rennie

Jan Blencowe said...

Hi Phyllis,

Thanks for visiting! We all need to find our own way and means of expression. On the journey we'll learn and be influenced by others but in the end it's that unique blending of all we've learned with our own authentic vision that defines our personal "style". My garden was my canvas for years when I wasn't painting It's well established now (though I am thinking of overhauling it in the next few years LOL).

Happy Painting,

Anonymous said...

sad to say charles sovek passed away june 8th 2007,(see his website) i too enjoyed his work. beth