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Monday, December 31, 2012

Resistance Through Art

I was honored to be invited to participate in an exhibition to commemorate the Holocaust that is being presented by The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and The Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. This exhibition allows participating artists to include two pieces of work. It seemed to make sense to me to incorporate work that is indicative of what I ordinarily do. With that in mind, I am submitting "Veiled in Uncertainty" as one of the two works to be shown. Why this painting ? ... read on....

Veiled in Uncertainty © 2012 Lynn Goldstein —one of two pieces to be exhibited in the Resistance Through Art show
 Many years ago I had a conversation with a colleague who grew up in Finland during World War II. While having a discussion with her pertaining to the Holocaust, she mentioned that her father had hidden Jewish people in the forest near her home to protect them from the Nazis. When I expressed admiration for his bravery, she responded, “What else could he do?” I never forgot this exchange. This painting reflects the image that was seared into my consciousness because of that talk so long ago.

I will be posting information about the other piece that I am including in the exhibition in  upcoming posts. Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The American West — Breathtaking

When I was in my early 20s, I saw a sight that I have never forgotten. While in Florida, walking along the beach at night, I came upon some interesting tracks in the sand. I hadn't seen anything like these tracks before, so I followed them. Finally, I saw the source. There was a Giant Sea Turtle laying her eggs. It was a magical experience, but I had no idea how magical then. When we are young, we tend to take things like this for granted. I reasoned that I would see a turtle laying eggs again in my lifetime—hasn't happened. I take very little for granted now. So, my excitement at seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time was pretty enormous. The first time is always special. My inaugural view of the Canyon was from the air in a small plane. As we soared above this wonder of the world, I kept thinking, WOW that would make a great abstract painting. I am inspired! I am including a photo of the experience.

Sedona is also magnificent. Everywhere we looked was more stunning and astounding. Sadly, the cold was breathtaking too. The wind was whipping as I took photographs, but the sun broke through the clouds to provide us with some gorgeous views.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Perfect Partnership

"I love quotes!" "What do you mean, you love quotes?" Thus began a recent conversation with my husband. I guess he wondered why I made the statement about quotes apropos of nothing. Non sequiturs are common in my conversations. Stream of consciousness is a way of communicating that my husband has had to embrace, but I still surprise him sometimes. A quote found its way into my email inbox recently that resonated: "Respect yourself enough to walk away from anyone or anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy."

I consider myself terribly fortunate. I have been working with the same gallery owner for 7 years. My working relationship with Gary Roper, the owner of the Washington Street Gallery, has served me, grown me and made me happy. It doesn't get better than that. I will be having a solo exhibition at his gallery from October 5 until November 28. I have included some of the work (over twenty paintings) that is going to be in the show — enjoy! To see a larger selection of my work, visit my website at: www.lynngoldstein.com

Apres l'Crozon © 2011 Lynn Goldstein,  Pastel

Calm Before Storm © 2011 Lynn Goldstein, Pastel

Dusting © 2012 Lynn Goldstein, Pastel

Gotta Fly © 2012 Lynn Goldstein, Pastel

Sunday—Northern Neck © 2011 Lynn Goldstein pastel

Yielding to the Sun #2 © 2011 Lynn Goldstein pastel






Sunday, August 19, 2012

Iceland—So Many Questions...

After our return from Iceland, I have been fascinated with all the questions that we have received relating to that interesting country. I am by no means an expert, having only scratched the surface of the island. So, with apologies to the Icelandic people, I am going to do my best to answer the questions that I have received:

Iceland? Why Iceland?
True story… upon my return from France in December 2011, I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to return there in 2012 to show him the areas that I had found so extraordinary. He responded that we needed to take a less expensive vacation this year to offset the more costly trip that we took last year to California.  With that in mind, I suggested that we go to the beach in North or South Carolina, or to some other beach location not too far from home. I have mentioned before that my husband can’t seem to sit still. I think that the idea of a beach vacation gives him hives. I, on the other hand, grew up on beach vacations, and have missed them. Long story short, he looked at the beach idea for a millisecond and decided that it would be better if we went to Massachusetts (where we have dear friends) instead. I recognize that there is no logic there, but I complied. Two weeks later, he came home and asked if I would prefer Massachusetts or Iceland. I guess I don’t need to say what my answer was. I didn’t ask until two weeks before our departure what prompted this sea change from Massachusetts to Iceland! I was concerned that he would alter his thinking and suggest Massachusetts again. When I did ask, he said that he wasn’t getting any younger and wanted to start chipping away at his bucket-list with regard to vacations. I am thrilled with this idea and reaped the benefits!

Vatnajokull Glacier—the largest glacier in Iceland

How big is Iceland?
Iceland is about the size of Virginia and West Virginia combined or a bit larger than the State of Ohio. We drove all the way around the island mostly on what is referred to as the Ring Road. With side trips, we drove over 1,000 miles in ten days. There are few roads into the interior of the island, and no roads that are passable (across the interior) without a four-wheel drive vehicle.

What is the summer weather like there?
It is generally in the 50’s or 60’s and rain can be very common. We packed all kinds of raingear, which perhaps kept the rain at bay. We were so fortunate with the weather since we only had one full day of rain. Most of the time, the sun was bright and the sky was blue. In fact the sky really is bluer there because of a lack of pollution. Much of the land can appear to be very desolate, but where there is greenery, it truly is greener. This is because the short growing season necessitates more efficient storage of chlorophyll. It is often windy, which provided no end to bad hair experiences! The sun doesn’t set until after midnight and it is bright by 4:30 am. This sunshine gives people plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, and gives farmers three crops of hay during the summer.
   
Bright sunshine and the town of Seydisfjordur in the background
Dressed for the chill at the glacial lagoon

What is the Icelandic currency?
The Icelandic krona

Are the people friendly?
The Icelandic people could not have been more courteous and kind. We had a wonderful time conversing with people. With the exception of two older women in a tiny, tiny town, everyone spoke English well, which is a godsend since Icelandic is VERY difficult. In fact, Icelandic is very similar to Old Norse. The school children have little difficulty reading the Icelandic Sagas, which were written several centuries before Shakespeare’s writings. They are very proud of their written heritage and boast of a 100% literacy rate. Sculptures of authors and poets are found throughout the country.

Trolls are big in Iceland. The people are less imposing and more friendly.
 When do the people learn English?
When I posed this question, I was told that they start learning in school around the age of 10, but that American movies, video games, music and television broadcasts enhance their learning and make it very easy for them.

Is Iceland modern?
There was no time in our stay that we didn’t have internet access. Iceland is quite modern, just sparsely populated.

Is it expensive there?
WOW!! Is it ever!! There are no bargains to be had in Iceland. Part of the reason for the expense is that so much has to be imported. I bought an apple at the grocery and noticed that the label indicated that the fruit was from Argentina. The apple traveled farther than I did.

And… finally… did you like it?
ABSOLUTELY! No disrespect to Massachusetts, but Iceland was just completely fascinating. I couldn't help but be inspired by the landscape to return to my easel with new ideas!

Dettifoss waterfall, the most powerful waterfall in Europe


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Driving in the Sky

During the last three days, I was able to experience flying while in the car. While driving from south Iceland to east Iceland, we took a shortcut on a gravel road that had us traversing in the clouds. We kept commenting (while I had white knuckles on the car seat and my husband had white knuckles on the steering wheel), that the view would likely be magnificent if we could only see it. The fog was so thick that we could barely see a yard in front of us. Remarkably, when we reached the top of the mountain, the clouds dispersed and gave way to beautiful azure skies. The view was stunning. The tops of the mountains were on either side of the road, and cottonball clouds dotted the sky, kissing the mountaintops in some areas and adding to the feeling of flying, since there were times when we drove through the clouds as well.

Yesterday, we drove from east Iceland to north Iceland. During that journey, we also felt as if we were in the clouds. Iceland is an interesting mix of Ireland, Norway, Montana, Switzerland -- and the moon. Yesterday, we experienced all those areas visually. Part of our trek was through a barren area called a cold desert, where a moonscape came to mind. Other areas reminded me of uninhabited mountains in Montana, while the town where we stayed reminded me of Switzerland. Since this town, Akureyri was on a fjord, Norway leapt to mind as well. We were only around 100 miles from the Artic Circle, but the weather was mild and lovely.

Today, was another day of driving in the clouds to get to Stykkisholmur, which is a charming village also in a fjord. The weather is more what I had expected for our entire trip here... cold and cloudy. No complaints from this end, however. Our hotel is a historic building that is exceptionally comfortable. It will be nice to snuggle into my comforter with a good book to relax after all that "flying."




Sunday, August 5, 2012

Silence...

There are not enough superlatives to describe some of the sights that are to be seen in Iceland. When we first arrived here, I will admit to some concern. The road from the airport to Reykjavik looked so desolate, and there are very few trees in this country. Anyone who knows me, even briefly, has an idea of how much I adore trees. (It is believed that the island was tree -covered at the time of the Vikings, but the wood was used and replenishing didn't occur because of over-grazing sheep.) Desolation doesn't do much for me either. Since leaving Reykjavik, we have seen such magnificence that I am struck silent. Therefore, I will say no more and just show some photographs of what we have seen the past two days. I hope you enjoy some of the beauty.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Another Amazing Day!

How do you top the Blue Lagoon? Well, one way to do so is to visit areas along the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is aptly named. The circular route allows for other-worldly and gorgeous sights. The first stop on our itinerary was to Gullfoss. Gullfoss is an extraordinary waterfall that is compared in majesty to Niagara. An advantage to Gullfoss over Niagara is that there are no hideous shops and fewer crowds to mar the view. There is beauty surrounding the falls and we enjoyed getting soaked with spray from the powerful force of the cascading water. We have rented a car, so we are also not beholden to others for our schedule. No moss grows on my husband and we don't sit still when we are on vacation. I often joke that I usually need a vacation after my vacation because we are so busy. That said, we see so much when we travel that I can't complain.

Our next stop was to Geysir which was somewhat similar to a smaller Yellowstone National Park. As we walked into the area, one of the geysirs began to spout and I was able to whip my camera into gear to successfully capture the moment. I felt so lucky that I jumped up and danced around, since others had been standing for some time with their cameras trained to the site just waiting for the special moment.

Later, we went to Kerid Crater. The signs in Iceland leave a bit to be desired and we almost sped right past it. Good thing that we found it because the view was like something that you would imagine in a science fiction film. The crater was formed by an ancient valcano. The lake within the crater was a rich veridian green.

Water was the order of the day because we then arrived at Seljalandsfoss, another waterfall. This one was festooned with multiple rainbows, and we were even able to walk behind the wall of water which cascades 203 feet from the top of the mountain. The rushing water and the rainbows took my breath away.

Finally, after a meal of Icelandic fish stew for dinner, we walked along the black sand beach. This was not the kind of stroll that one imagines in warm climates. The wind was whipping and I was wearing three fairly heavy layers of clothing.

WHAT A DAY!
I have included a photograph of the geyser and another photo of our view behind the gorgeous waterfall.





Thursday, August 2, 2012

Iceland... Incredible!!

There are countries around the world that I am exceptionally interested in visiting. Iceland was not on my short list, but it was on my husband's, and that is important. Many years ago, he insisted that I see Ireland. I had very little interest, went anyway, and LOVED every minute of the experience. I thought that history would repeat itself, and so far, that has proven to be true.

Iceland is so beautiful and the people are as kind as I had heard that they would be. We spent two days in Reykjavik. Today, we rented a car to go to the Blue Lagoon (what fun), and are now in the countryside. I had hoped to have some inspiration for upcoming paintings, and today confirmed that I will not have trouble finding that. However, we have also had some delicious food. My husband teased me for taking pictures of the lobster soup that we enjoyed on Tuesday evening. (I have often commented that I would only embrace a kosher lifestyle when lobster is considered kosher... no worries there!) However, he was all in favor of photographing our skyr cake from yesterday evening. So, I have also posted a photograph of the skyr cake, which really was more photogenic even as the lobster soup was phenominal. I have also included a photograph of the landscape that I saw today. Ideas for paintings are going to be percolating like hot lava, with any luck at all!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Students Are Friends

 
Margaret, Jen, Linda and me in the gallery at Belmont


My students have always taught me more than I have been able to impart to them. They have also become friends over the years. For both reasons, I am very grateful.

Last week, as a result of my friend Linda's coordination, I went to Belmont with our friends Jen and Margaret. We all met one another during my pastel classes. Margaret took the photographs that I have included in this post, for which I am thankful! Belmont is the former home and studio of Gari Melchers, an artist who was living between the years of 1860 and 1932. At the age of seventeen, his parents sent him to Düsseldorf, Germany, to study art. He then studied in Paris, lived in Holland, and also painted in Brittany, France.

Some of Melchers' paintings
He was named an Officer in the French Legion of Honor in 1904, and in 1909 was appointed Professor of Art at the Grand Ducal Saxony School of Art in Weimar, Germany. He returned to the United States in 1915. At this time, he rented a studio in New York City. This studio was in the Bryant Park Studios, which was commissioned to be built by fellow artist Abraham Archibald Anderson. The building was immediately popular and designed with artist’s needs in mind. Other tenants included John LaFarge, Frederick Stuart Church, Winslow Homer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens and William Merritt Chase. Through study in art history, I was aware of all of these artists, but not Melchers. I am always fascinated with artists that are new to me, and would not have gone to Melchers’ home and studio without the prompting of my friends. Speaking of friends, while at Belmont, I discovered that Melchers was a friend of the artists Childe Hassam and John Singer Sargent.

Melchers' studio—Fabulous!!!
Melchers was very successful financially during his lifetime, which refutes the commonly held view that artists have to suffer for their art. His work hangs in many, many well-known museums, such as the Musee d'Orsay in Paris and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Despite the heat, the day was practically perfect. It is always a pleasure to be with fellow artists since we tend to speak the same mother tongue. We get excited about things that others rarely notice because we are always on the lookout for inspiration. The gardens at Belmont were lovely. A painting of the area may be in my future.


Monday, July 23, 2012

An Artist's Retreat

"Turbulent Connection," one of my recent paintings

 


"When walking back to my room last night, I looked to the left. The dark green of the leaves was barely visible in the growing darkness. Little lanterns seemed to blink on and off. Beautiful fireflies were flickering, helping to light my way in the gathering nightfall. This is part of the magic of Orkney Springs."

I recently returned from teaching a 10-day workshop in Orkney Springs, Virginia, where I rushed to my room to write the above sentence.  Orkney Springs is near Bryce Mountain and not too far from the West Virginia state line. I went not knowing what to expect and was pleasantly surprised in every way. This, despite record-breaking heat and no air-conditioning in the bedrooms!

I was teaching with fellow artist, Gwen Bragg, who has been teaching there for approximately thirteen years. When Gwen first asked if I would be interested in taking part in this endeavor, I was skeptical. After all, no air-conditioning in July didn't sound like a prudent choice for anyone. That said, I was swayed by Gwen's description of the place, and the ability that I would have to work and think only of art for ten days. That sounded a bit like my experience in France and I couldn't pass it up. It was just terrific to be with others who are as invested in art as I am. I completed five small paintings and started a sixth. I have included an image of one of the pieces that I painted as a demonstration for my students.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Friction - A Catalyst for Creativity


Split Allegiance


Relationships change over time. My relationship with my mother has been pivotal in my life. She and I have been so close that our conversations could turn easily into marathons. This friendship has been a stable source of comfort, fun and mutual understanding for as long as memory serves. However, change comes even when we want desperately for everything to remain static. At first the difference was imperceptible. I could pretend I didn’t recognize that Mom’s memory was faltering. Sadly, a recent visit illustrated for me that pretending was not an option any longer. In fact, I knew that Mom had changed long before her stay with me, but the visit drove the point home decisively. Mom was still present in body, but part of her light was missing.

As an artist, I know that everything going on in my life can inform my work. Discomfort and friction can be a strong catalyst for creative initiative. I think perhaps it is no coincidence that my work took a dramatic shift following the most recent visit with Mom. Suddenly, I threw control and caution out the window and started throwing paint, spraying water and scratching my pastels in ways that I had never done before. I am having a terrific time with these pieces. They seem to be painting themselves, and my mind is drifting and sifting through other ways to incorporate this new way of working into future paintings. I am not sure why the pain of watching my mother’s decline pushed me in this direction. I can say that I am grateful to have something take my mind away from losing one of the most important people in my life mentally before she is taken from me physically.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Abstraction - Dealing with Ideas Rather Than Events


In progress
"More to Life"
I had lunch with my friend Sue not too long ago. Sue was the person who encouraged me the most to start a blog before my trip to France. During our visit she mentioned my concern regarding writing my blog since my return from the land of crepes. I thank her for indicating that I should write about my mental process relative to my work.

First, I want to give some background to the series that I have begun. For those of you that are unaware, I have a studio outside my home at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia. My studio is housed in Building 4. There are 5 artists that share the building with me. Since we do not have a heavily populated building, we can be creative with the shows that we mount. With that in mind, we are going to have a show celebrating Gay Pride in June. When this theme was suggested, I was all in favor. That said, I was also concerned. HOW was I going to make this theme relate to my work and vice versa? I wracked my brain, lost sleep, talked to friends. In other words, I did what I always do
when I have a problem to solve. I obsessed. My answer came from another friend. This time my friend Janice suggested that the reference photos that I had excitedly shown her were the perfect solution.

I walk in the woods often, and this past mild winter allowed for more walking than I am usually able to comfortably accomplish. Several months ago, I was struck by a puddle of water with magnificent reflections. Layers of leaves were on the ground, and the water reflected the lovely blue of the sky. I was mezmerized. People passing must have thought that the woman taking pictures of the ground was a bit off in the head. These pictures are the inspiration for this painting. I am including the progress of the piece.


When I think of Gay Pride, I think first of looking at the world in a different way. Life is complex. How we live life is complex, and people are complex. Love is certainly complex. There are many layers in our lives. When first looking at this painting many people have asked if it is upside-down. It is not. Being gay is not upside-down either. Being gay is being in the minority. I know a bit about being in the minority, growing up Jewish in West Virginia. This reality made me a bit of an outlier. It also helped to make me accepting of differences in people.

So, when I began this piece, I preferred an ambiguous visual. I have included layers of color, smooth areas, juxtaposed with more texture.These layers symbolize the layers that comprise our inner psyches. The textural differences symbolize the differences in people. The ambiguous nature of the piece indicates that life is not black and white. Life is composed of many areas that are not easily categorized. People are not easily categorized either. The work is more abstract than what I ordinarily make. I made the choice to work more abstractly because that felt like the best way to visualize something as formidable as the quest for  understanding and accepting human differences and interactions.

On an even more personal note, my son is gay. I could not be more proud of him. I have been proud of him every day of his life. Gay Pride... you bet!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cha-cha-cha Changes

"Unsettled Footing" One of my recent pastel paintings inspired by my visit to France
  
On Sunday evening, my husband and I went to a concert with very close friends. We went to hear Herbie Hancock perform. I was excited because I enjoy jazz immensely and I wanted to hear this legend. The crowd seemed as thrilled as I was. Sadly, Hancock’s performance included work that we recognized, but it was changed to the point where we could only pick out a few notes of the beloved songs sprinkled into long sets of jamming riffs. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy musical riffs. I was just disheartened that I didn’t get to hear the songs that I know and love the way that I know and love them. 
     Artists take a risk when they change their work. They risk loosing the audience that has come to appreciate their art. However, if artists don’t change, then they don’t grow. It is a tough trek across a precarious balance beam. 
     Last week, some lovely visitors to my studio asked me a question during the course of their visit that has had me thinking. They asked, “Has your work changed?” They have not known me, or my work, a long time, so I wasn’t sure exactly why they had posed the query. To better understand them, I initially answered the question with a question of my own. This led to my discovery that they had purchased a piece by an artist whose work and style has changed dramatically. I answered as best I could on the fly. As usually occurs, why is this so?, I thought about a more thorough answer twenty-four hours later.
     Of course my work has changed over the years. I think that the changes most recently may be almost imperceptible by all but the keenest eyes. I feel a change in my work as a direct result of my trip to France, but I don’t think that others can see it. However, if one looks at my early work and then at the art I am producing now, there is a marked difference. First of all, when I first started working in pastel, I used Canson Mi- Teintes paper. Many years ago, this was the paper that was available for pastel use. As time progressed, I became fatigued with using the same surface and began my search for a different approach. This led me to several commercial papers and finally, to preparing my own surface. 
An example of a figure  that I painted many years ago
     Secondly, when I first began seriously committing to making art, I had considered portraiture. This seemed like a perfect fit for my personality since I am, most decidedly, a “people” person. I worked from the model for years, doing figures and portraits. The clarion call to landscape didn’t occur until I was attending a Daniel Greene workshop. I have rarely experienced the clarity that I did on the long drive home from that workshop. I most certainly didn’t want to paint portraits and I didn’t want to paint in a photo-realistic style, but what did I want? Upon my return to the studio, I pulled out several art books. Looking through the pages, I marked the images that moved me emotionally and then reviewed my preferences. I realized that a more intuitive, emotional response was what I wanted to elicit in viewers, and I began working toward more expressive art.
     So, in answer to my visitor’s question, my work has changed from a more photo-realistic approach to a more expressive one. I am much more concerned with a strong composition and a more simplified approach than I was when I first began painting. Early in my painting experience, I wanted to learn techniques that would enable me to express myself clearly in my work. Now, I can work without concern over the technical qualities of my medium of choice. That said, I am itching to experiment some more, so a change is sure to come.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Trip to the National Gallery

Continuing to post to my blog has become a concern for me. After my visit to France, what in the world do I have to say? Well, a visit to the National Gallery of Art this past week provided me with an answer to that question, and I will gingerly start posting again. 
     Spending time in Washington, DC is one of my favorite activities. A trip into the city isn't complete without a visit to a museum or two. This week I was able to enjoy the Picasso drawing exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. This show has had me thinking since Monday, much as a good movie will grab onto my consciousness and not let go.
     Included in the work on view are drawings from Picasso's academic training years, as well as art that illustrates his growth using collage materials and his cubist explorations.
     My visit was shared with my friend George. He and I have been attending art exhibits for more years than I would like to admit, and I am always grateful for his company. George is not an artist, but his insights are always a pleasure and his questions usually prompt reflection in me. This time, I was thrilled by a self-portrait that Picasso made when he was a young man, and George asked me what I found appealing about this piece. I have been thinking about George’s question for several days and am going to attempt to answer it more clearly here.
Self-portrait by Pablo Picasso (1901-1902)
     Obviously, this is a more traditional drawing than much of the work well known by Picasso. Picasso had a very traditional training, and his early work reflects that. This piece was made when Picasso was 20 or 21 years of age. What appeals to me so much about this drawing is the bold and confident execution of the work. This piece includes watercolor, and there is a blotch of paint in the hair that apparently did not concern the artist. I find it particularly appealing when an artist has no need for perfection and shows the medium that is being utilized. In this case, Picasso used watercolor, charcoal and a bit of pastel. Perhaps the use of some of my favorite media had a role to play in my reaction to the portrait. The hatching in the background provides a dynamic counter-point to the intense, contemplative gaze, and the touches of color enhance the composition. What usually appeals to me most in a piece of art is the emotional reaction that I feel when viewing it. This image draws me in emotionally precisely because of that intense gaze, while the bold and confident execution makes me linger.
     As for my own work, I am still lingering in memories of France and will be posting some of those paintings shortly… please stay tuned!