April 27, 2010

——-Posted by Alice Dustin————

Alice Dustin / Strawberries 5

I am continuing my strawberry pursuits and am by working with the same props as the spring progresses I am finding new challenges. The challenges are twofold: one is with my actual subject matter—and in particular that means the sunlight!—and the other is with my own brain and aesthetic sense: how to I keep my inspiration fresh? Regarding the first challenge: I have noticed that as we move towards summer, with the sun higher in the sky, my kitchen window gets a shorter and shorter margin of sunlight. Where the sun used to drench a deep swath across our kitchen counter, now I can only hope for a narrow band of light. (We live on the southern exposure in a twin house. This is not the optimal cool light of a northern exposure so favored by artists….) With such an obstacle course I have been forced to keep a careful reference regarding the direction of the light. I have also moved my props to our porch to maintain the same light!

As for the second (more aesthetic) challenge, there is the problem created (on purpose!) of returning to an inspiration over and over again. How can I keep my interest? I feel that by giving myself this dilemma I am enriching my work. I have to find a new or renewed interest in the same subject. This means that the creation of the whites, the grays, the textures, and the movement all have to shift. As my approach is always an alla prima one, I am not modifying what I have already put down, I must put down something new.

Alice Dustin/ Strawberries 6

This is perhaps the best way for me to get to that wonderful “zone” where much is automatic, I work without thinking because it is flowing easily, but I am captivated because I am making the decisions that truly interest me—how much warmer should this white be, how much can I suggest in the reflection, how can I get the balance between movement and stability by juggling darks, lights, and color? In fact, I find that I didn’t know what would interest me until I painted and saw what results I had. This white on white is a fascinating game and I am under its spell.

My aim is to make an even dozen of this series of small paintings. I think the strawberry season will oblige! I think I have “tamed” the sunlight issue, and I am confident that I can find a new edge to balance on in these explorations


Mark Reep: In Silence

April 24, 2010

——Posted By Mark Reep———-


A few weeks ago on West End Talk I posted a series of in-progress scans and comments about my drawing The Nightingale’s Garden.  Here’s another making-of for the upcoming Process show at WEG.

1 Exploration and discovery remain a   priority of my process. In the first work-in-progress scan, I like elements of the outcropping to the right of the tower. But the crag the tower stands on doesn’t seem substantial enough, and the tower already seems to need adjacent structures.

2 In the second scan, the tower’s taking shape, and I’m working to bring the values of its roof and the sky behind into line.


3 Here, I’ve adjusted and cleaned up the tower’s lines and developed its surfaces further. I like the new bridge, the flow of the bridge and walkway, and I still like the outcropping below. I’m reluctant to give up any of those elements, but though I’m usually partial to solitary, stand-alone structures, it seems clear that this tower should be the focal element of a community or campus.

4 I wanted the adjacent buildings to tie the tower into its setting, without compromising impact or obscuring its brightly lit face, so I kept the new shapes and rooflines simple, clean, complementary. The small building breaks up the horizontals, and the light falling across it becomes another focal element. Trees and bushes function  in the same way, and soften shapes, surfaces, edges. More sky smoothed, values adjusted throughout the drawing- Always an ongoing process. The cliff to right remains a work in progress.

5 In the final scan, the cliff’s become more cliff-like, taken a step back into the shadows and assumed a supportive role, with a sloping lawn appearing at the top, between the building’s foundations. A rugged natural setting with another green tucked among the perhaps-ruins below, and carefully tended buildings and grounds above- In Silence is a place of contrasts, one I’ve enjoyed creating. Materials and tools include Bristol Board, charcoal and graphite pencils, kneaded erasers, Q-Tips.  Here’s the finished drawing.

Mark Reep, In Silence
Charcoal & Graphite drawing; 5 1/2″ x 16 1/4″, matted & framed to 13″ x 25″


Composition and Arthur Wesley Dow

April 23, 2010

——Posted By GC Myers————


Click Above to Go to Book

I didn’t learn of Arthur Wesley Dow’s art or his teachings until I had been showing for a number of years at the West End.  But when I stumbled across his classic text, Composition, I was thrilled to see a lot of the concepts that I had come across after years of trial and error laid out for anyone to see.  And a lot of artists have seen this book.  It is one of the most influential texts on art, having inspired generations of artists and still doing so today.  He is also one of the prime influences on the Arts & Craft Movement of the early 20th century.

In the book, Dow lays out the principle of harmonious design and introduces the Eastern concept of Notan to American artists.  Notan, meaning dark-light, is the relationship in a picture between positive and negative space.  It creates mood and feeling within even the simplest of compositions and is central to much Eastern art.  The book is worth a look if only to learn more about notan.

For anyone interested, the book is available free to read or download online at Google Books.  Simply click on the book cover above and it’s there for you .

The Process- Start to Finish

April 21, 2010

——Posted by James Ramsdell——-


On a beautiful summer afternoon, I was sitting on my parents’ front porch watching the children across the street. I was intrigued, wondering if their play was a metaphor for later in life. She was riding HIS tricycle, which seemed fine with him, but he wasn’t going to let her out of his sight. This became the idea for a painting I wanted to do for the upcoming themed  group show at the West End Gallery– “The Process- Start to Finish”,  running from May 7 – June 11, 2010.

I started this painting as pencil sketches, which I usually do. This gives me a chance to get a feel for the subject and work out my value patterns.

After selecting the figures and pose, I went looking for the back ground that I wanted.     

    I was interested in making a primarily esthetic choice, but I was looking for a sun-splashed, inviting, small town setting. From this selection I did a 5 x 7 sketch in oil helping me make my color decisions. Now I had the information that I wanted and was ready to do the painting !

Trying to Keep Up-- 14" x 18" Oil


Off To Nepal

April 19, 2010

——-Posted by GC Myers——-

The Dark Blue Above-- GC Myers

Well, I’m not going to Nepal.

This painting  is, however.

Titled The Dark Blue Above, it was chosen by the  newly appointed US Ambassador to Nepal, Scott DeLisi, to adorn the his offices at the US Embassy in Kathmandu.  The gallery that represents my work in Virginia was approached by Ambassador DeLisi’s office concerning this piece and, as a result, it will hang in Nepal for the next three years as part of the US State Department’s Art in Embassies Program, which arranges American art for its diplomatic locations worldwide.

I feel honored to have a piece of mine chosen to be a representative piece of American art in another country and I’m particularly pleased that this painting was the choice to go to Nepal.  If you had asked me to choose a painting of mine to send there, this would have jumped to mind.  I can’t say this with any knowledge but I get the sense this piece will translate very well there.  Perhaps it’s the rich, bright blue in that sky or the the feeling of atmosphere.

I don’t know.  Just a feeling.

I wonder if I can visit it?

Strawberries and Scones

April 17, 2010

——-Posted by Alice Dustin————

Strawberries and Scones 1-- Alice Dustin

Art thoughts

Recently I’ve been making small paintings of objects on the counter in the sun. It is a treat for me to work with natural light and I am having fun using red pretty much straight from the tube in contrast to the white on white of porcelain on the white countertop. It is a mix of the cheery color combinations, the delicious subject matter: scones, coffee, and berries, and the format that allows me to work fast and complete a painting that is more like a poem than a novel. I’m having fun cropping my subject as the sun creates strong light/shadow shapes across the objects and countertop.

At present I have done 5 of these paintings. I’m thinking of how they will best be framed and think that they will show off nicely in a silver frame that will pick up on the cool white of the counter and the shadows.

Strawberries and Scones 3-- Alice Dustin

I am also having fun with the shapes that are presented to me in the subject I’ve chosen: the rounded edges of the cup and plate, the natural strawberry shapes and the straight edges of the shadows of the window frame on the flat surface.

Spring is a tricky time for me with allergic reactions to nature which is so tempting with its inviting temperatures and all the new greens, bursting blossoms. I feel that I can capture some of the delights of the season with the fruit that is one of the first to ripen in spring and early summer.

Among other thoughts that I’ve had as I work these past weeks are those of momentum and speed and just where and when I take a breath and when I race on. I find it is very key to my creativity to establish a certain momentum. There is a reflective time before I begin, when I am studying my subject, thinking of just where I will focus, what will be my composition, what it is that I want to express. Then there are the rapid first notes that I make on my surface (I work on a wood panel). I may pause once this initial statement is set to see if I’ve created the motion, rhythm, direction that I intend. After that there is a flurry of mixing colors, laying them in and covering the whole panel. Once this is done I feel that I am now only at the real painting stage. Now is when I put down my thickest paint and when I slow down again and see how concise I can be to suggest with a brushstroke just what I mean. I work now more and more slowly. I step back more often to put down only those strokes that add something to the whole, that keep the focus that I have chosen.

Specifically now is when I find the thickest white of the plate or the cup, the whitest white on the cup’s handle. Maybe I need to warm up the coffee, or lighten the red on one of the strawberries. A reflection in the shadow may now be attacked, the value of the darkness is established and it’s time for this nuance.

Time to sign and let it dry.

Scenes From Italy

April 16, 2010

——-Posted by Brian Keeler———–

Near Monte Marano

Hi, All-

These are some images of last  year’s trips to Italy.  There were two groups that went last year.  The first in Late May and early June was a painting trip with most of the time spent in Todi near Umbria.  It was a great set up at my friend Massimilliano’s Agrotourismo place in the country.  Lots of trips to nearby towns to paint and look at art. This time stumbling upon the work of Pintoricchio ( collaborator with Perugino and Raphael who did a panel in the Sistine as well) in a little

View of Barga

church in the hilltown of Spello.  In the September a group of 14 went for a cultural tour.  These were former students at the art school I attended in York, PA, the York Academy of Arts. This trip was a tour for them as they had never been, so we hit many places to see art. It is great to paint in these places where so many other artist have preceded.  For example the view of me painting at sunset is in the hilltown overlooking Florence called Fiesole. It is much older than Florence, has a Roman Amphitheatre and it is the birthplace of the Renaissance painter known to us as Fra Anglelico.  One of the others is in the front of the architecturally famous hospital designed by Brunelleschi, Ospedale dei Innocenti in Florence.

Ciao- Brian

Brian in Assisi with students

Alessia, our hostess in Todi