Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why Paint the Subject You Choose

During reception at Crossroads Gallery
Recently, I was asked to give an artist talk to accompany the showing of my work at Crossroads Gallery in Falls Church, Virginia. The gallery is a stunning space, and I am grateful to have my work displayed there. Although I have spoken about art, my own and generally, the conversations tend to be snippets regarding my technique and perhaps the specific inspiration for an individual piece. This time I wanted to share something different. What I wanted to cover was why I chose the subjects that I chose. Here is an excerpt of the artist talk:

People often ask me when I started making artwork. My answer is that I can’t remember when I started making artwork because I have been making art since I was a child. I studied art in college and worked as a graphic designer for 17 years, during which time, I continued taking classes and drawing and painting. But why did I choose to concentrate on the landscape as a subject? Well, I have given that a lot of thought. As a result of being a people person, and an extrovert, I had originally thought about making portraits. I studied with well-known portrait painters and worked from the live model as well—and I enjoyed it— but that path wasn’t feeding my soul. So, I decided to try something else, but what?

Talking with visitors at the reception for Converging, an exhibition of my paintings along with David Barnes' glass art
I am an introspective extrovert, so I think A LOT about what makes others tick and what makes me tick too. It is part of the human condition to experience negative things in our lives. What do we do when that happens? The answer is different for everyone. Some people listen to music, some dance, some sleep or go to the movies or lose themselves in a book. These are all good solutions. What I do, almost literally, is run to the woods or to a body of water. Since I was a child, in the mountains of West Virginia, nature has been a comfort to me in times of stress. Is it any wonder that I gravitated to the landscape as my subject? When people see my work in my studio, they often say that the art makes them feel at peace and that they want to walk into the imagery. That is the best of compliments because that means that they “get it.” Those who want to have my work find peace in it. If at all possible, people can take that peace and bring it out into the world by being a bit stronger and happier.

Grateful for a nice turn-out for the reception
One of my patrons  lives in Northern Virginia and also has a home in West Virginia. One of my paintings reminds him of a specific place that he clearly loves. Here's what he had to say about one of my paintings: 

"When I look at that painting, it brings me back to that field, and I can just imagine spending an afternoon there, reading a book and enjoying the sunshine and sound of birds and the fresh air. And since for a lot of reasons, I don't get to experience that reality on a daily basis as I'd otherwise like to, I find that your paintings are able to breathe a little bit of it into the days where I can't go back to that field in person.”

So, that is what I hope to bring to those who see and purchase my work. The gift of a location that brings them comfort and peace. 

Sending peace and comfort,

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Monochromatic, Not Monotonous

Well, I had my students work on a monochromatic painting awhile back. They grumbled heavily!! A monochromatic color scheme is derived from a single base hue (color) with the use of that hue's shades, tones, and tints. If a student wanted to use one other hue, I allowed it if they felt the painting would only work well with the other hue included.

I don't tend to assign my students something that I won't do myself. Oh, okay, I do have them do things that I don't do... sometimes. In this case, however, I was determined make a monochromatic painting to show them. I tend to paint with quite a lot of color, so this painting was a challenge for me. That said, if an artist wants to create a mood, monochromatic work is a great way to go. The painting that I have included has a much more somber mood than what I would usually complete.

The inspiration for this painting was a stormy sky over the Baltic Sea last August. August is a month of warmth. Not so much in the Baltic Sea. The chilly wind was whipping. The storm clouds were ominous. That was the mood that I wanted to evoke. A monochromatic color scheme, with a tiny amount of the complimentary color, seemed the perfect way to go. Because I am inherently a positive person, there is a glimmer of light that conveys hope.

Here are some progression photographs of the painting. I began with a monochromatic watercolor under painting, and then added pastel to complete the piece.

The monochromatic watercolor under painting. You can see the pastels on the tray as I begin adding pastels to the painting.

Notice the orange pastel on the far right of my tray and the addition of orange to the painting.

A bit more pastel added for the clouds

The orange has been toned down, the water rendered, and the painting complete
Stormy Skies, "11.5 x 19 inches, Pastel © Lynn Goldstein

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Little Tease

Haven't posted anything here for entirely too long because of my busy preparations painting away for my upcoming show at Crossroads Gallery in Falls Church, VA. So, to remedy my lackadaisical performance in the blogosphere, I provide a teaser for the show. Here are some photographs documenting the progress of one of the pieces that will be on view. To see the finished painting, come visit the exhibition. You will be surprised at how the piece is finished. Better yet, come to the reception and artist's talk. For information about the event, visit my website.
1st Stage of the painting "Secrets Shared" This painting was started as a mixed media using pastel and watercolor on a textured surface.

A little more paint added

Making compositional changes and additions

Close to completion with a new painting started as well

Friday, March 13, 2015

What Made You Paint This Painting? Inspiration Strikes Later Rather than Sooner

"Chicory," 11 x 14 inches, Pastel © Lynn Goldstein

Teaching is a wonderful way to learn more about your own work. My students ask questions that make me think more comprehensively about my methods, directions, compositional choices, and my inspirations.

When I started "Chicory" as a demonstration for my pastel students, I was in the midst of a very busy period. The day prior to class, I looked at my photographic references, saw an image of a field, and chose it for my painting. In most cases, I give a great deal of thought to my subject before making a commitment to embark on artwork. However, with my tight schedule, I didn't do my usual soul-searching. I took a look at the photograph, made a sketch, got the sketch on my Uart pastel paper in preparation for my demonstration, and called it a day.

In the middle of the demonstration, I was busted when one of my students asked what drew me to this particular photographic reference. I was honest in my answer when I responded that I really hadn't given it my usual thought. Then the rumination began. While working on the painting, I remembered why I was moved by the photographic reference. The shot was taken near Woodstock, Virginia while I was teaching a workshop at Orkney Springs. When I looked at the field before me, my heart skipped a beat as I saw chicory blossoming everywhere. This field was not cultivated, and the chicory was blooming freely. While making this painting, I was able to recall the freedom that I felt on that sunny day as well.

I recommend that students use photographs that they have taken for many reasons. One reason is this: it's only possible to deeply recognize what interests you in a location if you have personally experienced that place. So, during a cold February day, chicory was flourishing in my studio.

Inspiration from Teaching

On Saturday March 7, twelve students gathered to take an experimental acrylic mixed media workshop with me. At the helm, I was sure that we started promptly at 10:00 a.m. because we were going to cover a lot of territory. It was such a pleasure working and watching as each student fearlessly jumped in with gusto using materials that they had never used before. In fact, every single one of the participants inspired me with their willingness to try something new! This was such a fun day. I absolutely plan to teach more acrylic mixed media in the future. Keep an eye on my website ( to see when I schedule another workshop. Better yet, when you visit my website sign up for my newsletter, that will give you a head's up well in advance of the next workshop opportunity. Again, teaching provided me with inspiration, and I send a heart-felt thanks to the people who participated. Here are some photos of the day:

Here's everyone at the end of the day to share their hard work.

A close-up of one of the pieces in progress 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Inspiration Roadblock or Not!

"Those who don't want to imitate anything produce nothing." Salvador Dali

The quote above interests me. In October 2014 I had an illuminating experience (illumination will figure in this story). While standing close to someone looking at one of my paintings, (the one pictured below) I heard her say, "Well, this is just a rip off." I was taken aback. I should have turned on my heal immediately, but did not. Instead, I asked her what she meant. After she determined that I was the artist, she said that my art was copied from work made by an artist she knew. I was aware of the paintings created by said artist (she has also paints trees).  My work isn't the same as hers, and I told my accuser so. The conversation never improved, but my attitude about it has. The woman was rude in the extreme, but her barbs made me think. What she said could have stopped the enthusiasm I have for painting the subjects that I choose to paint. Instead, her comments have made me think about originality, creativity, and inspiration. I personally think that we can be inspired by so many sources. I am not sure that I would call these influences imitations, as Dali did, but I get his meaning.

Reaching- Richmond, 24 x 18 inches, Pastel  © Lynn Goldstein
Fast forward to a recent visit to the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida. While there, I took in the exhibition, "Monet and the American Impressionists." The Harn Museum was a wonderful surprise, and this particular exhibition was well worth the visit.

I was stopped in my tracks when I saw a particular painting by Helen Maria Turner. Turner impressed me as a successful female artist in a time when a woman working outside the home was particularly difficult. Turner was more than fifty years old before she achieved both critical and commercial success. Though she traveled widely, Turner’s greatest source of inspiration was the wooded ambience of Cragsmoor, in Ulster County, New York.  Cragsmoor was an artists’ colony where she maintained a summer home until the 1940s.

Summer residents at the artist colony at Cragsmoor used Japanese paper lanterns to light their way at night, which explains her use of the lanterns in her painting entitled, "Lilies, Lanterns, and Sunshine," painted in 1923. The reproduction below doesn't begin to do justice to the painting I viewed in Florida.

Lilies, Lanterns, and Sunshine by Helen Maria Turner

The minute that I saw Turner's canvas, I was reminded of John Singer Sargent's "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose," as that painting includes two figures with Japanese lanterns as well. Sargent's painting was completed in 1885-6. I realized that my antagonist would have likely castigated Helen Maria Turner for "copying" Sargent since both paintings included Japanese lanterns and two figures in the compositions. I don't know if Turner saw the painting by Sargent, but they are clearly different pieces of art with different sensibilities. If I ever encounter a barb from a viewer again accusing me of copying another's work, I have my answer ready!

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent

Monday, February 9, 2015

Inspiration Story — One More Time

Travel can lead your inspiration down unexpected roads, and your work can 
end up in a remarkable destination.

In 2012 my husband and I visited Iceland. While there, we went to a restaurant that was located in an old farmstead, which had been owned by the same family for generations. The restaurant was fascinating, and the food was delicious. In fact, our lunch was so yummy that we went back again for dinner. There were old books on each table of the upstairs dining room. Inside the books were photographs and stories about the owners of the farm. Books were also utilized as menus for the evening meals.  I was charmed by these creative ideas using books.
One of the books at the restaurant in Iceland
Fast-forward several months, and I was asked to participate in a show to commemorate the Holocaust. Those books from the restaurant in Iceland had stuck in my mind. As a result, I made the decision to use books for "Treatise," my Holocaust commemorative art installation. "Treatise" has been displayed at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia, and also at Temple B'nai Shalom in Fairfax, Virginia. Now, it is on view at the Smithsonian S. Dillon Ripley Center in Washington, D.C. with other art in the exhibition entitled "Artists At Work." I have included images of "Treatise" as it looks at the Smithsonian, and other art that is also on view until May 1, 2015 in the same show.

Sherry Winkelman's quilt entitled "Interchange" is described here:"I am the technical lead for the data archive for Nasa's Chandra x-ray telescope. The primary function of the Chandra Data Archive is data recovery and dissemination, making Chandra data available to astronomers around the world. In this quilt, I began with an image of a highway interchange, replacing cars with computer chips and other components to represent data and science flowing between the archive and researchers."

Danny Robbins' lovely wooden stool was made using magnolia wood from a tree in the front yard of his first home, while the persimmon foot rest was from a tree in his grandmother's backyard. He states that working at the Museum of American History has inspired him to look at his own past.

As you can see, the artists were free to submit any medium of their choosing. Our inspirations were as varied as the media incorporated in the work. So, when looking for inspiration, you can look no further than your own office or backyard, and for fun, you can find inspiration far from home!

"Treatise" on view at Smithsonian S. Dillon Ripley Center in Washington, DC ©Lynn Goldstein

"Interchange" (Detail), Quilt, 2011 © Sherry Winkelman

"Interchange," Quilt, 2011 © Sherry Winkelman

"Heart Stool," Magnolia and Persimmon, 2014 © Danny Robbins