Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My 5 Favorite Paintings of 2009, Part 4

George Inness, Homeward. 1881. 20" x 30". Oil on Canvas.
(with close-up below)
At the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

This painting is here to represent a large group of paintings I saw in 2009, studied, and will continue studying in 2010: 19th century American luminist paintings.

I saw a George Inness exhibit at the LA County Museum of Art in the 1980's that stuck with me. I've long wanted to see more and hoped to see several in New York. But the Met was remodeling their American Wing this year. I discovered this when we trekked through the Egyptian wing to see the 19th century American landscapes and it was closed.

Instead - to my complete delight - they had all those paintings stuffed in some old-style glass cases. They were jam-packed against the beige metal pegboard behind glass. Row after row. It was like shopping in a supermarket: you walk down the aisle with paintings stacked one above the other to your left and right. Talk about efficient! And even better, we went twice and were the only people there.

Back to Inness. This one isn't my favorite by him but he is one of my favorite painters. Inness, Church, Sanford: I saw them at the Met, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, at the Smithsonian.

Selecting my top 5 favorites grows more challenging with each post. I've reviewed the photos I took in 2009 at the various museums, then went to their websites to see the images they took. I've discovered that the Brooklyn Museum of Art is, like the museum itself, a gem! See for yourself here. You can look at any of their paintings, find out all the info you want, and share in multiple ways. You can download in a variety of sizes, embed the image or share using social media.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My 5 Favorite Paintings of 2009, Part 3

Pieter Bruegal the Elder. The Harvesters. 1565. Oil on Wood. 46.5 x 63.25. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 1996 my husband and I spent several weeks in the Czech Republic and Poland and on the way back to the Frankfurt Airport, detoured through Vienna. We spent several intensely happy hours in the Kunsthistorisches Museum*, including a long stint in a room with Bruegals. We sat and looked at Hunters in the Snow for the longest time. It's a deeply moving painting. It's also one of six. I've seen five.

*OK yes, one of those hours was spent in the cafe eating a delicious layered torte mit schlag. And coffee.

My 5 Favorite Paintings of 2009, Part 2

Jacob Lawrence, the Migration Series.
"The factory owners had to find new workers to replace those who were marching off to war."
At the Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

I've always loved the abstraction and color of Jacob Lawrence's art but didn't know about the powerful migration series until I ran into the odd numbered panels at the Phillips Collection. The series consists of 60 panels painted in 1941. The odd numbers are displayed at the Phillips, the even numbers are owned by the MOMA. The images and story are powerful and I was inspired by his process of conception and planning. He planned the paintings as a series in advance to tell the story, his wife prepared the surfaces and Lawrence painted them in a series, working on several at once. He tells the entire story of the great migration: life in the south, lynchings, the difficulty of moving, the circumstances people found in the north.

Here's the website for the series at the Phillips:

Here's a website (fantastic) at Columbia University:

This is a description from a 1941 Fortune Magazine on the Phillips website:
"The t]heme of the story told by Lawrence’s pictures is the great south-to-north migration of Negroes that commenced during the first world war and has continued in lesser degree ever since. In one of the biggest population shifts in U.S. history over a million Negroes quit the crumbling, semifeudal cotton economy of their forefathers and trekked to the industrial cities of the North. Behind them were poverty and the flaring prejudices that grew with poverty. An average of fifty-six Negroes were being lynched every year. Then the war-burdened factories of the North sent out a call for cheap labor. "

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My 5 Favorite Paintings of 2009, Part 1

Stephen Hannock. 'Kaaterskill Falls for Frank Moore and Dan Hodermarsky (Mass MoCA#11)', 2005. Acrylic, alkyd and oil glazes with collage elements on canvas.
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 2005 I saw a Stephen Hannock painting at the Met for the first time: "The Oxbow, After Church, After Cole, Flooded, Green Light (Flooded River for the Matriarchs: Elizabeth and Agnes Mongan)", 96 x 144 inches, polished oil on canvas, 1999.

I was thrilled and deeply moved. I began studying the work of the Hudson River painters from the 19th century to understand Church and Cole. I looked forward to seeing the Oxbow again.
When we visited the Met in February the Oxbow was sadly not on display but this one was and it's beautiful. Up close the writing is personal and interesting and from a distance the painting is luminous. You can see my husband bent down to read the details at the bottom.

The painting pictured here has interesting collage elements and writing, including information regarding the painter Sanford Gifford, who painted in that area.

Yesterday I read the book 'Luminosity, the Paintings of Stephen Hannock', 2000. It was interesting and talked about his technique but the book didn't address the writing he places within the layers of glazes. I'd love to know more about the writing.

And, an odd detail: today I read 'American Sublime, Landscape Painting in the United States 1820 - 1880' and learned that Sanford Gifford was friends with Frank Pinchot, a NY merchant. They shared an interest in forestry. Frank is the father of Gifford Pinchot, the first head of the US Forest Service. A national forest in Washington State is named after him. Was Gifford Pinchot named after Sanford Gifford?

My 5 Favorite Paintings of 2009

My daughter and husband at MOMA

A few days ago a journalist and professor listed her 5 favorite books of 2009 on Facebook. Fantastic idea. I jotted them down for my reading list and immediately began thinking about my 5 favorite paintings of 2009.

This was a good year for art for me. I returned to painting full time, established and kept a fairly disciplined studio habit, and painted a number of paintings. I put together my website, this blog, an email and mail list, had a show and sold paintings. All good.

I visited museums and saw great art. One of my painting professors (yes, the one who told me I had to paint 100 paintings) told me once that you have to see great art to make great art. She regularly flew to DC just to go to museums. That's inspiring!

In February I went to New York and visited the Met (3 times!), the Cloisters, MOMA, the Guggenheim and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. In June I visited my daughter near DC and went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, the Phillips Collection, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In August I went to California and visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, many galleries, the Los Angeles County Art Museum and the Getty. In September I went to Vancouver, to the Vancouver Art Gallery. I visited galleries in Seattle a number of times throughout the year and spent a morning at the Seattle Art Museum.

Along the way I saw many fabulous paintings. It's hard to winnow my list to 5 but I will. Over the next few days I'll post my favorites.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Highways 2

Winter Highway at Alger. Oil on Canvas. 18" x 22".

This is a stretch of highway in the Chuckanuts, near my home. To me this area between Blanchard and Lake Samish is one of the loveliest parts of I-5. It always thrills me to drive through there, especially when the fog swirls through the hills by the lake.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pears in December

December Pears. Oil on Gessobord. 5" x 7".

Bosc pears have the more toned down look of winter about them. I struggle with painting these subtle fruits, never certain about how best to paint the foreground/background to make them shine. I do love how pears are rarely upright - they often lean towards each other on the windowsill.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter Highways

Winter Highways at Snoqualmie. Oil on Canvas. 18 x 22.

This is the first of several paintings of the highway in winter. Where I live winter means rain, wet pavement, raking light, fog and sometimes snow.

This is of Snoqualmie Pass in the rain.

From Loomis

From Loomis. Oil on Canvas. 18" x 36".

This is the view from the town of Loomis in northcentral Washington. The Loomis has been a part of my life for decades. My husband spent part of his time near here at geology field camp just days after our wedding. Yes, days. The snack in the geology van was our wedding cake.

Years later we went on a road trip to the area and spent days exploring Palmer Lake, Molson, Chesaw and the fascinating grave site of Ranald MacDonald.

Then in 1998 I took a job with Conservation Northwest just as they were gearing up their fundraising efforts to put 25,000 acres of high elevation old growth forest, slated for clearcuts, into public ownership. This area is key lynx habitat. Today they're working to keep the legacy of ranching in place in the area. As a small part of that, the beef my family eats is grass fed from these ranches.

That's the long road to the information about this painting: this is the view from Loomis towards the south. Beautiful place.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wild Turkeys in the South Fork Valley

Today Dan had a geology job site to visit along the Samish River in Sagit County so I went along. After a week of sunshine and bitter cold, it was cloudy and thus less visually interesting. I practiced with my new camera then read Bram Stoker's Dracula on my iPhone.

We made a second stop to check out a flood control project in the South Fork of the Nooksack River and the sun was starting to come out. The banks of the river were iced, the bare trees were flooded with sun and lit up against the dark clouds to the west. It was beautiful.

As we left we saw 3 wild turkeys and stopped to watch them. They are crazy creatures. Like little dinosauers walking around and around our car. This big one was especially interested in us.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Kristin's New Paintings

Kristin Mullen & '3 Figs' on her eggplant colored wall.
Kristin Mullen hanging 'North Cascades Highway 3' in her dining room.

Wednesday was a fun day. First, the weather was cold, clear with perfect light. I headed over to Anacortes to drop off 2 paintings for my friend Kristin Mullen. She has one of my favorite homes ever - a midcentury modern rambler, on the hill above Anacortes. From her wide windows you can see the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Mt. Baker and Blanchard Mountain. Oh, and all of Anacortes and probably the Canadian Coast range too.

The paintings are perfect in her home and she bought 2 of my favorites: 'North Cascades Highway 3', which she'll hang at the end of a long hallway and '3 Figs', hanging on an eggplant colored wall. Wow! A perfect combination of color.

We spent the afternoon on Whidbey Island, over by Coupeville and Ebey's Prairie, doing what we are so exceptionally good at: driving around, looking at houses & taking photos.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Friday's Show Wrap Up

View of the main gallery space. Artist Lucas Vidana is in the middle.

Artist Donna Auer, Nicole Oliver and Isabelle Vanderslice. Three wonderful women!

Me with my fruit paintings to the left and landscapes to the right.

These are some photos of Babes & Byways posted over at fifthonsixth. Fun event. It was a cold and beautiful night outside and lots of great folks inside. Thanks to all who made it out for this event!

New Paints!

When I turned into my neighborhood at 5 this afternoon the UPS truck was a block away. By the time the brown van pulled up in front of my house I was waiting in front with the dog. "Is that for McShane? Is it from Vasari? Yay!" The UPS man laughed. I love getting new paints.

In the box, top right, is Cadmium Yellow Deep. When I was a kid, taking painting lessons in Germany, I painted a fall landscape using Cadmium Yellow Deep for the leaves. I can still picture the paint on the canvas. I can't wait to open this tube.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Monterey Pines

Monterey Pines. Oil on Canvas. 22" x 30"

We were driving along the California Coast in August and the closer we got to Monterey the more Monterey Pines we saw. Finally I realized WHY they were called Monterey Pines. Yes Monterey Pines. In Monterey. Sometimes I'm slow. They are wonderful trees to see in their native habitat.

Great show on Friday: thanks all!

Me, 'Road Turns' and Anne-Marie Faiola

This is a quick shot from Friday night's art event in Bellingham, Babes & Byways. Anne-Marie Faiola on the right is the new owner of my painting 'Road Turns'.

It was a fantastic event in a great space. Many wonderful people stopped by the look at art, chat and to buy paintings. Most of the paintings in the show sold! Thank you all - old friends and new friends - who came by to see my paintings. I was especially honored to have local artists like Jody Bergsma, Shirley Erickson Donna Auer, Ron Pattern, James Lourie, Laurie Potter and Ruthie V stop by.

Thanks also to Bob Hall of Bellingham for donating such a terrific space for us to display art (check out the gorgeous stone wall behind us) and to Marisa Papetti and Scott Pelton of fifthonsixth for putting on the event.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Special show pricing for Babes & Byways!

This Friday, 6pm to 10pm, fifthonsixth is producing a 2 person show called Babes & Byways. I'm excited to let you know that we've decided on special pricing for this one night only show! All of my wonderful 5x7" and 6x6" paintings will be offered for $100 for a framed painting. Yes, framed. Each are individually framed to highlight the image. That means this one and this one and even this one. The 6" x 8" paintings - like this gem - will be priced at $120 each. We've had a lot of interest and expect these to go quickly.

Here's shot of my living room mantel w/ all the pieces from my Windowsill: Fruits series lined up, ready to go:
Figs! Cherries! Pomegranates! Pears! All dressed up and ready for their show. See you there!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Babes & Byways on Making a Mark!

Summer Road. Oil on Canvas. 30" x 40". 2009 Lisa McShane.

Katherine Tyrrell is an artist and author in England who draws and writes about art and artists for art lovers. Katherine hosts one of the 'go-to' blogs for the art world. In my online research, I found hers to be the most comprehensive source for artists on the web. I was thrilled yesterday when Katherine posted information about my upcoming show on her blog, Making a Mark!

Recently a friend asked me if I have favorites among my paintings or if I love them all equally. I do have favorites. Clouds and Fields, which I posted yesterday, is one and this, Summer Road, is another. I was framing this yesterday, in preparation for the big show, Babes & Byways, and thinking about how much I've enjoyed this painting. I find it to be expansive and peaceful.

Meanwhile I'm also busy painting my next set of favorites in my studio! I'm working on several paintings along the lines of North Cascades Highway.