Friday, January 23, 2015

Don't Give Up, Inspiration May Sneak Up on You.

Resource for "Tattered Draperies"
Wherever I go, I am always finding inspiration for more paintings. Sometimes, I see something that looks perfect, snap a bunch of photographs, and then sigh with discouragement when the resulting images are a disappointment. That is just what happened when I visited family in Florida last year. The light dancing through the branches of some beautiful live oak trees caught my eye. I snapped away, taking pictures of the trees with Spanish moss dripping off of the branches. When I got home from the trip, and looked at the photographs, I wasn't moved at all. Rather than be discouraged, I just waded through other photographic possibilities.

I keep scads of resource photographs on my computer and my iPad. This has been a boon to finding inspiration when my imagination wanes. It is a good idea to have your photographic resource organized into folders that are labeled to make sense to you. I am not as organized as I would like to be, so I am going to give myself the challenge of doing just that this year. In the meantime, when I am looking for my next painting or series of paintings, I look at my resource. Something always catches my eye.

Having given up on the Spanish moss draping the branches of the live oak as a painting possibility, imagine my surprise when I was moved to make a painting of one of those photographs? I tried to talk myself out of it, thinking that my initial response must have been a correct one, but I couldn't let it go.

I have included the photo resource. I do not aim to replicated a photograph exactly. As you can see, I cropped, changed the proportions, and also changed the colors for the final piece as compared to the photograph. This is the result of listening to my gut and going for it.

'Tattered Draperies," Pastel, Acrylic, Watercolor, 24 x 24 inches © Lynn Goldstein

Monday, January 12, 2015

Teaching Yields So Many Rewards... and Surprises!

Teaching painting has rewards, both tangible and intangible. I believe that my work has improved in no small part due to my teaching for almost eighteen years. Simply put, my students have asked me questions that make me truly think about everything that I make, from why I chose a certain color scheme, to why I have chosen a particular subject. Most importantly, many of my students have become cherished friends. So, I am grateful to those who have put their trust in me as a teacher. 

Sometimes, I am given something tangible as a result of teaching. That happened last week, when one of my students handed me a small box. The box was in great shape, but clearly old. I opened it to find 6 almost pristine pastel sticks. I often joke that I am  the Imelda Marcos of pastel. You may see a sampling of the pastels I have collected to use over the years below. 

Lynn Goldstein's Pastel Collection
Including Great American, Girault, Unison, Mount Vision, Sennelier, Schmincke, Rembrandt, Art Spectrum, Diane Townsend, and Terry Ludwig brands... to name a few!!
Although you can see that I have quite a collection of pastels, I had never seen anything like these Gunther Wagner babies. They were manufactured between 1900 and 1930, from what I can tell. Gunther Wagner was a chemist who started the Pelikan Ink Company. How the pastels came to the United States is a mystery. This is how they came to me:

The  92 year old aunt of my student's wife died this past year.  In going through the aunt's things, getting ready to auction off most items, they found a box that apparently came from the desk of her father-in-law. The aunt just boxed everything up and brought it to her own house after both the father-in-law and mother-in-law passed away.  As far as anyone could tell, the box had been untouched for MANY years. Items like these have basically no auction value but are too good to be thrown away. Therefore, my student thought that I would enjoy them.  Well, what an understatement. I am thrilled to have these, and to share this experience. Here's a photo of the resurrected box, and its contents. 

Gunther Wagner Pastels 

My surprise:
Gunther Wagner Pastels

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


First painting inspired by the same resource photo
"Facing West- Unexpected," 36 x 24 inches, Pastel © Lynn Goldstein
"Unexpected," 17 x 11 inches, Pastel, © Lynn Goldstein
After finishing a painting (shown above) recently, I was struck by a question that one of my students posed. She asked why I had selected the photograph that I had chosen to use as a resource. I was a little taken aback. I remembered the feeling that I had when I took the photograph, and mistakenly thought that others would experience the impressions that I had on that day when I snapped the shot. I was with my family on vacation in California. We were traveling on Route 101, an eye-popping area of the country. Although views of the Pacific Ocean were magnificent, I became fascinated looking at the vegetation growing along the roadside. Sadly, there was no safe area in which to pull over, and I had given up getting any images of the scenery as I watched everything speed past me in a blur. Suddenly, we ground to a halt as a result of a mud slide. While waiting to be able to pass on what was now a one-way road, I opened the window and let the camera do its work. Below is the photograph from the experience. As you can see, I don't copy a photograph verbatim. I realize now when looking at the photograph, my student couldn't possibly read my mind. For that, I needed to put pastel to surface, and express the magic of that hillside as best I could. Looking at the photograph again, I may have to make another painting of the same scene. This wasn't the first time I had been inspired by the same photograph. Included here is also the first painting that I made of the scene.

Resource photo for "Unexpected"

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Art is Everywhere- Part 2

If someone had told me when I began training as a docent at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (NPG) that I would still be leading tours after seventeen years, I would have been surprised, to say the least. That said, I am so happy to have had the experiences that I have had as a result of my connection with the Smithsonian. In fact, I was introduced to an opportunity to experience art in another unlikely place because of information passed to me through my Smithsonian connection. 

In September, NPG had an appreciation event honoring the docents. These events are always special. The food is terrific, seeing my fellow lover's of NPG is always a treat, and an interesting presentation is often a part of the evening. This year, the presentation shed light on an upcoming exhibit of art that was most unusual. The evening included an announcement given to us from the director of the Portrait Gallery, Kim Saget. Saget stated, “I want to expand the idea of what a portrait is,”  “The Portrait Gallery commissions paintings, video, photography and drawings all the time. This is about pushing the boundaries of portraiture outside the walls of the museum.” Her excitement was palpable, but she didn't have to convince me. I was fairly bursting at the seams to see the work she described.

During the month of October a giant portrait could be viewed from atop the Washington Monument on the National Mall. This portrait was commissioned by NPG, and was made by the Cuban-born American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada using approximately 2,300 tons of sand and 800 tons of soil. His work, he says, “will avoid any negative impact on the environment.” (That’s a requirement of the National Park Service, which will install soccer fields on the site next year.) Using GPS, he mapped the ground with 15,000 pegs to indicate facial features. He then linked the pegs with string to form a template for placing pale sand and dark soil.

To see this piece in a short video, click here

Here is a photograph that I took from atop the Washington Monument on a nearly perfect day before it was deinstalled. The clarity was not as precise as when the art was first completed, but my excitement at seeing the work was not diminished. Art is everywhere!

"Out of Many, One" © Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Art is Everywhere - Part 1

"The Steward" at Saint John the Divine in New York City © Lynn Goldstein
Caravan Artwork in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
Lately, I have been contemplating how art seems to spring up in very unlikely places. This is due in part to my recent activities, and just plain dumb luck. After completion of my piece for the CARAVAN exhibition, "Amen- A Prayer for the World, " I was struck by the art that was present in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The Cathedral in the nation's capital is in the beginning stages of hosting art exhibitions, while the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City has been hosting art exhibitions and installations for years. Synagogue Temple B'nai Shalom was very excited to install "Treatise," my piece to commemorate the Holocaust, last year. So, religious institutions are not new places to show and see art. That said, I was in for an eye-popping surprise when I first made my way into the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. I was expecting to see my piece alongside the 47 other sculptural forms. The CARAVAN exhibition was beautifully mounted there. What I didn't expect was the stunning installation suspended from the ceiling of the giant cathedral.

The Catholic church has a long history of including art in their edifices. The Protestant movement has traditionally been less than enthusiastic regarding art displays. That has been changing for some time. What met me when I walked into the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine were two giant phoenix sculptures by the Chinese artist, Xu Bing. The artist culled refuse from construction sites in Beijing for two years, and used what he found to create two birds that are suspended from the ceiling of the church. The view was astounding. I was astonished to find out that the combined weight of the sculptures is 12 tons. It was an amazing experience to see this monumental work, and to have my artwork under the same (giant) roof.

"Phoenix" at Saint John the Divine in New York City © Xu Bing

Friday, August 29, 2014

Saying Goodbye

After living with "The Steward" for a little over two months, I said goodbye to "him" yesterday. Our short-lived relationship was just what every positive relationship should be. "He" pushed me to do things artistically that made me think and grow, made me happy, worried me, and challenged me. I am grateful for every moment, even the sleepless nights. I thank Paul-Gordon Chandler for selecting me to participate in this wonderful exhibition.

Speaking of gratitude, I want to thank the employees of Farrish Fairfax Auto Body. Upon completion, I realized that I wanted to protect the end result. Unfortunately, I had a bear of a time finding an auto body shop that was willing to take on the task of clear-coating the finished product. Fortunately, I contacted Kevin Wynn at Farrish Fairfax Auto Body. Kevin, the manager of the body shop, and George Gallahan, the assistant manager, couldn't have been more helpful. They insured that the sculpture was treated with care, and put a protective coating on the surface that is undetectable. I send them a hearty thank you. Now, "The Steward" will be able to travel to New York City in October without damage, and whoever purchases the sculpture will have a well-protected piece of art.
Wrapped in 3.5 mil polyethylene plastic for transport

"The Steward" with Reda Abdel Rahman on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral
Reda Abdel Rahman is one of the curators of this exhibition, as well as a noted Egyptian artist
Being carried into the National Cathedral
"The Steward" with his friends and family © Lynn Goldstein 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"The Steward" Finished and Waiting to be Installed

The finishing touches have been put on "The Steward," my piece of art for the Caravan exhibition to take place at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The show will be on view from Sunday, August 31 until Tuesday, October 6 in Washington, DC, and then will travel to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City.

When first asked to participate in this show, I was honored. Then, I panicked. After the panic, a concept was born. Following the initial concept decision, I wrote a statement about the work. This statement helped me to maintain my clarity regarding what I wanted to say with the piece while working. Here is the statement that expresses my idea behind the work:

Trees have been a central symbol of transcendence, immortality, and life in almost every culture. Without trees, we would no longer be able to exist, since they create the very air that we breathe. Without working together as groups and individuals, humans would no longer exist either. With this idea in mind, my figure is embracing trees and the trees are embracing the figure. This image symbolically indicates that we are stewards of the land and of one another. We are all connected, and can provide comfort in times of trouble, and joy in positive moments. Our roots may help to define us, and lead us to a better understanding of others if we so choose.

This exhibition will be fascinating to see in person, but you may see some of the work now by visiting the Caravan website at this address: My work will be included on the site soon. Until then, here's "The Steward."

Closeup of "The Steward" © Lynn Goldstein

"The Steward" from behind © Lynn Goldstein

"The Steward" © Lynn Goldstein

Closeup of "The Steward" © Lynn Goldstein