Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Open Studios Can Open Your World

Lynn Goldstein in her studio with Li Nan
Recently, someone asked my opinion about having an open studio. As a result, I have been thinking seriously about the answer. But first, what is an open studio? An open studio is one where the public is welcome to come see artists at work, and it is an option to consider depending on an individual artist's temperament. I can only speak for myself, and I can state with certainty that it works for me at this point in time. My studio is located at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia, which was formerly a prison. The Workhouse has approximately 60 studios. You can find glass, ceramics, paintings, drawings, jewelry, fiber art, photography and more at the Workhouse. Additionally,  you may visit the artists at work in their studios.

When a studio is open to the public, work will be interrupted by visitors coming into one's work area. It is next to impossible to know how an artist will respond to such occurrences until they happen. I am an extrovert, so this is not something that is troubling to me unless what I am working on requires extreme concentration. Often, open studios are run a lot like cooperatives. In many respects, an open studio is like a typical office, with personalities (some good, some bad) to match. From my perspective, the positive attributes far outweigh the negative ones. If you think that having visitors almost daily will be difficult for you to manage, you may want a studio arrangement where the studios are open only at certain times throughout the year, or are not open to the public at all.

Since I have rented an open studio, I have met fellow artists who have inspired me with their creativity, their work ethic and their talent. I have received valuable information from artist friends who have let me know about opportunities to show my work, to judge shows, to teach workshops and to apply for artist residencies. In fact, as a result of having a studio, I will be collaborating with a glass artist, David Barnes. I will be writing more about this in another posting. This opportunity would never have presented itself had I not had a studio. Additionally, the visitors to my studio have become students, collectors, friends and helpers in my work.  I have become comfortable talking about my art, my process and my history. I have also just had fun with the artists that share space with me and the visitors that come to see my work. 

Willow Pond © 2013 David Barnes

As an example of fascinating encounters, just a few weeks ago a young woman came into my studio. She would be recognized in her native country of China, as she is a television announcer in Beijing. We had a interesting conversation and posed for pictures together. Yesterday, I had a visitor from my home state of West Virginia. Upon seeing my admiration for trees, he asked if I would be interested to know that West Virginia, with its unique ecosystem, is home to 800- year- old trees. He asked if I would be interested in seeing and painting them. Would I? You bet I would! If I didn't rent an open studio, these encounters would never occur, and I am grateful for them. So, there are several aspects about your own personality and working habits to consider before renting in an open studio environment, but for me it is working beautifully.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

WOW! Wonderful News!

With her painting Facing West-Onstage © 2012 Lynn Goldstein and her blue ribbon

This past Saturday, I received a terrific surprise. I attended a demonstration and reception in Frederick, Maryland, for the national juried exhibition "Shades of Pastel."

I have been fortunate to have my work in many national exhibitions. I have also won awards, which has always been a pleasant surprise. During the receptions for these shows, the awards are presented, and everyone involved is delighted to see when their friends receive accolades. I suspect that we all wait to see if our names may be called. After all, that would be human nature. During the awards ceremony, I listened while names were called for each award. When the announcer got to the Best in Show award, I admit to thinking, "Well, better luck next time." In fact, I was not paying complete attention when the name was announced for the work that received Best in Show. Then I realized, "Wait, wait, was that MY name?" Well, yes it was! So, my painting, "Facing West — On Stage" received the Best in Show at the "Shades of Pastel" exhibition on Saturday, November 2. There were 63 other very deserving pieces in that show, so I couldn't be more proud. You can see the painting below.
My Best in Show! "Facing West-On Stage" by Lynn Goldstein, Pastel 36 x 24 inches
Making me even more thrilled was that the judge for this show was Jimmy Wright, an artist whose work I have admired for years. Prior to the reception, Mr. Wright presented a demonstration to those fortunate enough to be there. I was transfixed during this demonstration because Wright's work is different from many of the pastel artists that are producing work presently. He has no interest in replicating a subject; his interest is to interpret that subject based on gesture and feeling. He works very intuitively, and it was a kick to see him pull out a dried sunflower (one of his favored subjects) and go to work. I have included an example of his work for you to enjoy. To see more of Mr. Wright's art, you may visit his website here:
"Three Sunflowers in Blue" by artist Jimmy Wright, Pastel 30 x 41 inches

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ran into Manet in Avignon

I have now been back from France for a week and have finally gotten over the fog of jet lag. While in France this time, I didn't get to see the amount of art that I usually enjoy seeing during  my travels. That said, I was able to visit fascinating sights and enjoy an extraordinary landscape. In fact, while at the West Mill, I spent as much time as possible beside the stunningly beautiful Gardon River. 

I also was able to visit Musee Angladon in Avignon, which is a house museum that displays some of the collection of the Parisian couturier Jacques Doucet (1853-1929). There is work by Cezanne, Van Gogh and Manet to name a few of the artists that had been collected, and are on view at the museum. In fact, the only piece in the south of France from Van Gogh's Arles period is in this location. The wall text was understandably in French. Fortunately, there were laminated informational sheets that told stories of the work on view in English. Although this was a very small museum, the information afforded a visitor was lengthy and I whiled away considerable time there.

The story that I found most compelling regarding work in the collection regarded a work by Edouard Manet. This is a shortened version of what I learned about his painting "The Rabbit:"

Chardin's "Hare with a Game Bag and Powder Flask"

"The Rabbit" was painted in 1866, which was the same year that Emile Zola, already well known as an author, had to resign from the newspaper L'Evenement for having defended Manet's work. In 1863 Manet's work had caused an uproar at the Salon des Refuses and again at the official Salon in 1865. His work had been violently criticized.
     Unlike many artists, Manet did not seek to be in opposition, and seems to have chosen to work on classical still life subjects with compositions similar to famous works. It is believed that he did this in an effort to turn to accepted traditions. "The Rabbit" is an example of such work. In his visits to the Louvre, Chardin's "Hare with a Game Bag and Powder Flask" (see above) surely caught the attention of Manet, who then painted a similar representation. 

Manet's "The Rabbit"

     Jacques Doucet acquired the Manet painting on 4 March 1906. In purchasing this piece Doucet could approach a contemporary artist via a subject which could be part of his collection of 18th century works, which included several works by Chardin. Doucet enjoyed mocking his visitors' preconceived ideas about Manet saying: 
     "During the period when I delighted in the eighteenth century, I also had my eyes open for newer art. In the middle of the wall covered with Chardins, I had hung the rabbit painted by Manet. My visitors admired the entire wall, never doubting there was an odd man out. And if I wickedly revealed its presence, they fled like rabbits themselves, upset. I still have the Manet, whereas the Chardins have since moved on."

From this story alone, I think that I would have enjoyed knowing Doucet.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sainte Enimie— Another Superb Surprise

Three days ago, my intrepid workshop participants and I headed out of the house with our special guide, Martin, to the Gorges du Tarn. I was driving, so I was careful not to always look at the magnificent scenery since the drop off over the cliff (without a guard rail) was extraordinary. Also extraordinary, was the town we visited during our day out.

Sainte Enimie has been voted one of the most beautiful villages in France, and I could see why. The medieval village developed around a Benedictine monastery founded in 951. Now, 250 people live in the village of Sainte-Enimie year round. We walked on the cobbled streets, had a delicious lunch and explored a bit more. All in all, it was a lovely day. 

I have included a photograph of some of the ancient buildings in the town, and also a photograph of the doors of a home that has three acanthus leaf thistles adorning the building. The acanthus leaf thistle is a protected species, and is thought to act as a barometer and to ward off evil spirits. I had thought that the flowers on the buildings were sunflowers, but found that I was wrong and was very interested in what was really placed on the walls and why. I hope that you can get a tiny feel of how amazing this little village was for us to experience. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Surprise at the Palais des Papes...

The Palais des Papes is the most visited tourist attraction in Avignon. Gil and I arrived here two days ago, and spent the bulk of the day yesterday visiting this amazing historical structure. The monument is fascinating. We easily spent almost three hours there, meandering around, listening to the recorded tour and marveling at all that we saw.

The Palais is one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Since my feet have been firmly planted on US soil, I am fascinated with ancient architecture. Mine is such a young country. The construction of the Palais was begun in 1252. That fact alone boggles my mind! 

Because of its size, the Palais serves as an art exhibition center as well. The first such exhibition took place in 1947. This was a fact unknown to me. Imagine my surprise when I found myself face-to-face with contemporary art made by well known women artists while touring the building. The exhibition presently installed is entitled "Les Pappesses," and includes the art of Camille Claudel, Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Jana Sterbak and Berlinde De Bruyckere. 

The title of this exhibition refers to the story of Pope Joan. In the ninth century, predating the arrival of the popes in Avignon, a charismatic scholar was elected pope, and reigned as such until it was discovered that she (as a representative of God on earth) was pregnant. The story took hold of the medieval imagination. Even today, at the end of the conclave at the Vatican, a pierced chair allows verification of the sex of the newly elected pope, to avoid appointing a popess again. Goodness!!

I was fascinated seeing the modern and contemporary art juxtaposed with this ancient ediface. I am including a few images of the work displayed for you to see. The first image is of a tapestry made by Kiki Smith. Smith has worked in varied media. This is one of several tapestries included in the show made by her. I was moved by this particular tapestry for sentimental reasons. Smith utilized the eagle to symbolize the importance her country (the United States) holds in her life. Each tapestry was in a similar color palette and fit in remarkably well in the Palais. In fact, at first glance, I was inclined to believe that they had hung in the building for centuries. You can see how well the tapestry fits relative to the colors of the wall and floor surrounding it. 

Kiki Smith's tapestry at the Palais des Papes

The next piece for which I have an image, is a scupture made by Louise Bourgeois entitled "Spider." I spend sizable amounts of time visiting Washington, DC since I live so close, so the minute I saw "Spider," I was transported home. One of her sculptures, very similar to this one, is installed in the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Art in the District of Columbia. Art is indeed a univeral language. That said, seeing this piece in an ancient building provided a much different perspective. The ancient, with the more contemporary, was an exceedingly interesting comparison. I am perhaps as impressed with Bourgeois's persistence as I am with her art. It was not until she reached the age of seventy that she was recognized with her first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

Spider by Louise Bourgeois at the Palais des Papes in Avignon, France

To see more about this exhibition, you may go to this worthwhile website: 

More soon! A bien tot!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dinan, Still Delightful!

After spending the day traveling, with stops to Bayeaux to see the fascinating Bayeaux Tapestry (utterly amazing that this tapestry has survived over the years) and being moved at the Normandy beaches, Gil and I made our way to Dinan. I was so excited to see Dinan again, that I was bursting at the seams. I had told Gil that the hill we climbed to get to our B&B in Rouen was about as long as walking into the city of Dinan, but not as steep. I don't think that he believed me. Well, he believes me now. After he huffed and puffed up the Rue de Petit Fort and the Rue de Jerzual, he exclaimed, "You did this almost everyday?" No wonder you lost weight while you were here!" I didn't huff and puff. In fact, I felt like I was walking on air. I was only breathless with excitement sharing my memories with someone who has tolerated my reminiscence for almost two years. 

I showed Gil some of my favorite sites. I walked along the River Rance, ate the delicious Breton kouign amann and the wonderfully French ille flottante, walked around the walled city of Saint-Malo, ate crepes and galettes, walked all over the city of Dinan, and walked some more. Do you see a pattern here? It seems if one is going to eat all the delicous food, one MUST walk A LOT! 

I have included a photograph of me in November 2011 followed by a photo taken today at the same location. Dinan is still aging beautifully. I won't address the other subject in these pictures!

Friday, September 20, 2013

De Retour en France

Me in 2011 in Dinan. I just can't wait to return!

This morning I went for a walk in the woods to the lake near my home. Suddenly it hit me, and I realized that next week I will be walking along the River Rance in my beloved Dinan, France. Before leaving France in 2011, I knew that I would return as quickly as I could. The experience there was extraordinary. I can hardly wait. My mind is crackling with excitement. In the meantime, I have the not-so-fun task of preparing my art supplies, etc. for the trip. Packing is definitely not the sexy part of travel.

Since I will be teaching this time around, I have other items to take along that I didn't have last time.  I will be teaching in pastel, so the acrylics that I have been enjoying lately will be resting in my studio. I will miss them... maybe next time! There WILL be a next time, I am sure of it. Stay tuned.

For those of you who may be traveling via air with your pastel supplies, here is an easy checklist for you before you go:

-  Pastels in a case that protects them (I carried my pastels in my carry-on the last time I went). This    time I am packing them in my checked bag. I will have them in a Heilman backpack size box with a label in French and English that they are artists' colors. I will insert the box in a plastic bag to protect my clothing, etc.)
-  10-20 Mounted Uart sheets with glassine covering taped to the sheets for transport home (I have   inserted these into a cardboard portfolio to protect them.)
-  A small set of watercolors
-  A small amount of watercolor brushes
-  A small empty spray water bottle
-  A small sketch book
-  A set of pencils, erasers and a pencil sharpener
-  A few felt tip pens
-  X-acto knife and a few blades (DEFINITELY in checked bag)
-  Small metal ruler
-  Bug spray and sun screen

I am not bringing an easel because there are easels available at the West Mill where I will be staying with my students. If I were to bring an easel, I have a Sun Eden easel that is very compact and lightweight.

I am also bringing a color wheel, a view-finder and handouts for my students. I will, of course, also have my camera along for the ride with me in the plane's cabin.

The supplies I will be packing in my checked bag.

My Heilman backpack size box almost fully loaded. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Past and Present

OSU's Best Damn Band in the Land performing Script Ohio

Artie (Dad's namesake) and me in a sea of scarlet at OSU game
Taking a detour in sharing my artwork to tell a little about my recent trip to Ohio. I will get back to art soon.

I had three things that I wanted to see and do while in Columbus. One was easy enough. I just wanted to spend time with Artie. The second item on the list was to experience a Ohio State football game in person. The third item was to see the fraternity house where my father lived so long ago.

My father attended OSU prior to enlisting in the military to serve during World War II. Dad intimated that some of his most enjoyable experiences took place during his short time in Columbus. His eyes would dance when he spoke fondly of his time there, and he always followed Buckeye football. He watched the games on television whenever possible. Those who know me know that I have very little interest in football, so it may be surprising that I wanted to go to a game at all. However, I have fond memories of Dad calling me in to see the television when the OSU marching band performed the script Ohio. "Lynn—hurry—get in here— they are about to dot the i!" I always feigned disinterest, but really loved seeing the band spell out the word Ohio on the field, and anticipated when the honored sousaphone player finally dotting that i. Well, I finally got to see it, and with a tear in my eye, I looked skyward and softly said, "They dotted the i Dad. I saw it. I so wish I could see you too."

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Still Experimenting!

Intrepid #2 © 2013 Lynn Goldstein, Acrylic, 12 x 9 inches

I am really having a blast working in acrylic. This is a new piece that I completed recently. I love herons, and I have painted on location where the resource photograph was snapped to make this painting. The name of the area is Heron Pond. When I have painted there, I have been interrupted by the odd sounds that herons make, only to be entranced watching their activity. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

More Experimental Fun!

Blue Bells © 2013 Lynn Goldstein, 12 x 9 inches, Acrylic/Mixed Media
So, I have been having a great summer experimenting with acrylic. This is a painting of a scene in Haymarket, Virginia, and is the first one done in a faux batik technique. This technique is a bit labor intensive, and I really enjoy the steps involved. I start with an acrylic wash painting on rice paper. After the acrylic dries, I paint melted wax on the painting and then crumble the paper in a ball as if I am going to throw the painting away. It is really cathartic to crush a painting into almost oblivion! I then smooth the paper out again, and paint the whole surface with acrylic. After that dries, I iron the whole mess with an iron to melt the leftover wax and viola, I am ready to paint the final layers of acrylic to complete the painting. So much FUN! Hope you enjoy seeing the finished piece.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Speaking about "Treatise"

Treatise © 2013 Lynn Goldstein, Installation art utilizing books, wood and acrylic paint

This is the script that I wrote to speak at Temple B'nai Shalom on Friday, June 21. It was great fun and an honor!

     When Rabbi Perlin asked me to speak to you about my artistic journey, I was excited and not just a little bit anxious. For those of you who know me well, I apologize in advance. Much of what I am about to say will be entirely too familiar to you. For those who don't know me, I want to give you a bit of background.
     My family came to this country at the turn of the last century. I am from Eastern European descent with a bit of West Virginia thrown in for good measure, and to insure that I would be a true Melting Pot American. I grew up in a small town in southern West Virginia where my Jewish heritage was a bit of a curiosity. I didn't realize that my status of "other" would color my perceptions throughout my life. I have always been a bit of an outlier and believe that that personal trait is directly attributable to my 'other' status. I was certainly a cultural Jew, as my father was before me.
     So, part of my identity has always been influenced by my growing up Jewish, and as a minority. The other part of my identity has been a life steeped in a love for the arts, specifically visual arts. I can't remember a time in my life that I wasn't interested in art, wasn't thinking about art, and wasn’t making art.  Trouble was, I felt that I needed to touch others in a positive way, and it took me many, many years to realize that my art could do that. I had originally thought that art was a narcissistic pursuit. So, I worked as a graphic designer with the flawed thinking that that would be my avenue to reaching others, while also helping me earn my keep. During that time, I was still thinking about art, making art and hopefully improving in that endeavor. After 17 years as a graphic designer, I turned to my husband, Gil, and told him in no uncertain terms that I couldn't work in graphics anymore. When he expressed a bit of exasperation and stated that I had said the same before, I was unequivocal in my response. NO MORE! He got it. I then jumped in with both feet, painting, teaching art to adults, and leading tours at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, where I have also been able to teach. I have now been working in my "new" career for almost as long as my first one. I love almost every minute of it. But now as to why I am here at TBS talking to you:
     I had no idea that my Jewish heritage could inspire a piece of art that could touch others, would stretch me out of my comfort zone, and would lead me to many other concepts in creativity. But inspiration comes from experience, and my experience was brought to bear in this piece perhaps more than any other experience I have had.
     In the fall of last year, I was selected to participate in an exhibition to commemorate the Holocaust. This exhibition was to take place at the Jewish Community Center in Fairfax. My first reaction, which prompted raucous laughter among my artist friends, was that I wasn't Jewish enough. I think that my discomfort was really based on the fact that I was not the child of a Holocaust survivor and that I had not lost any family in the Holocaust. Once I moved past that emotional stumbling block, I started thinking about what I may want to produce. I am not sure where the ideas came from, but come they did in a fast and furious manner. I was allowed two pieces in the exhibition and I knew that I could include a painting that I had already produced. The knowledge that I had a piece that was prepared and ready to go allowed me some creative freedom and relief to try something that may not work out. I am a landscape painter who has spent many years developing my skills in the medium of pastel. For this piece I wanted something that would require the viewer to be more involved with the work rather than just viewing it passively. Once I established that parameter, I began thinking of ways to encourage interaction in the work.
     There is symbolism for almost everything used in the installation. I am a book lover, so utilizing books became an obvious choice for the piece. I chose 12 books to symbolize the 12 tribes. Books often tell stories, so the books became symbolic of the stories that were forever changed, if not ended, as a result of the Holocaust. These books are printed in German, Russian, French, Italian, Polish and Yiddish. I chose these languages to illustrate that the people who were persecuted were not foreigners in their countries. They were citizens who were treated as enemies in their own lands. Each book has been distressed in different ways. Some are torn. If I was able to ascertain if the person portrayed survived, I didn't tear the book all the way through. If I was able to know that the person or people portrayed didn't survive, I did tear the books to the end. Four of the books were shot with an Austrian Lugar. Guns make me a bit squeamish, but I have to admit that it was interesting to go to the firing range and have the books shot. Interestingly, I had trouble watching when the gun was fired. It seemed too real and painful somehow. Finally, several of the books are singed.  When a viewer takes a look at each book, they are met with uncomfortable images of fellow human beings. In many cases, the images show humans being treated in inhumane ways. This piece is not meant to lull people into a sense of comfort, even as the main image has been referred to as beautiful. Speaking of the main image, of course, the main image is that of a tree. The tree has been a symbol in so many religious traditions. Judaism uses the tree in its symbolism as well, and using the Tree of Life— the symbol for the Torah— seemed particularly appropriate. I have made many paintings that include trees, and I am not sure that the Tree of Life hasn't been an inspiration in a good bit of my work.  The Yiddish book is the only book that really isn't distressed on its interior. I had initially not intended to use a Yiddish book, but our Barbara Kaplowitz gave me a book in Yiddish to use, and I decided that it was a terrific addition. Inside the Yiddish book, I have utilized a photograph of the discovery of the torahs that had been confiscated, and fortunately found before they were destroyed. The Yiddish book symbolizes some measure of hope. That hope is illustrated by the only color on any of the books in the leaf of the sapling. While working on the project, I opened the Yiddish book to discover, to my delight, a bit of English. The bookmark that includes the acorn, is meant to lead the viewer to this quote, which reads:

It seems as if God has been dethroned. Let us reinstate Him in our hearts. Mahatma Gandhi

The discovery of the quote was fortuitous, but in fact, the whole experience of making this piece was fortuitous. People came from what appeared out of nowhere to assist me when I needed it to complete this project. I was asked a few weeks ago if the JCC amassed the books for me. The answer is that I collected all the items to make this piece, but I had help. I will explain. I put out a request to those that I know for books, and several wonderful people came forward. One of my students works as a docent at the Holocaust Museum, where fellow workers gave her books in Russian and German. I contacted my Polish sister-in-law to see if she could get some Polish books for me. Her friend sent me four Polish books in the sizes that I requested and didn't charge a penny to send them to me. One of my friends living in Italy provided me with books in Italian, and then I found the other languages at a used bookstore. As with the books being symbolic of everyday objects, I wanted to display them in something that would appear as an everyday object as well. I had envisioned a dish rack and looked all over to find what would work— with no luck— until one day a man and woman came into my studio. I had met them before and I knew that they liked my work. While talking about working on this piece, I mentioned that I was looking for something that would look like a dish rack to display the books facing outward and that I was having a really tough time finding what I needed. Out of the blue, James said that he could build it for me. You see, unbeknownst to me, James is a woodworker. He told me that he could bang out what I needed in no time. When I asked what he would charge for it, he said nothing. I was flabbergasted, but thrilled. I drew up a plan and he came back to me with a much better drawing of a plan, based on what I gave him and went to work. I was thrilled with what he provided me.
     Let me tell you a bit about the other objects in the piece. I had originally decided that I wanted pastel to come off on viewer's hands when they looked at the books. While working, I realized that I didn't want the image of the tree to be disturbed. To solve that problem, I put light color pastel on the backs of each book. My idea was that when one person hurts another, we are all affected. In other words we all carry that hurt with us. Of course, if viewers get something on their hands, they will need to remove what is left behind. Initially, I thought of providing wet wipes, but really was not comfortable with that solution. Out of nowhere, I thought of the tradition of cleaning one's hands after returning from the cemetery following a Jewish funeral. It was perfect. So, believe it or not, I found a wonderful antique pitcher from France on, of all things, Etsy! The bowl was found at an antique store where I also found the napkin for hand drying. Now I had to find a table to place these items. So, I went on another search until I realized that a stool would be a much better solution. I asked one of my fellow artists at the Workhouse her opinion of using a stool rather than a table and not only did she agree that it was a great solution, but she gave me a stool AND loaned me her power-sander so that I could distress the wood to make it work with the rest of the art.
     So, there are many stories here. One is about the inspiration that led to this piece; another story is the community of people who came together to help me bring the piece to fruition. But the most important story is the story of those whose lives were ended or changed forever as a result of the Holocaust, and I am forever grateful that I was able to make something to help us remember them.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Successful Experimentation

Impermanence © 2013 Lynn Goldstein, 20 x 16 inches, Acrylic on panel
I attended a workshop in April led by Carol Nelson. Carol is a mixed media artist. The workshop was just what the doctor ordered because I wanted to do some work that I had never done before. During the 5 days of working in mixed media, I felt as if I was a kid in kindergarten while painting in the day. At night, I had trouble sleeping as a result of my over-active mind. I wondered how I would incorporate what I was learning into my style of working. This piece is an example of incorporating some of the techniques in order to make them my own. I had so much FUN!! Hope you enjoy the painting.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Like Glass

Like Glass © 2013 Lynn Goldstein , Pastel, Watercolor and Acrylic

This is a new painting that I just completed. It depicts a spot on Heron Pond close to my home. Heron Pond is one of my favorite places to paint on location. A few years ago, on a pristine day, I was on my way to teach. Struck by the beauty of the day, I got out the door early enough to walk around Heron Pond and snapped the inspiration for this painting. I was fascinated with the way that the trees were reflecting into the still water. This painting was made in my studio, but I plan to get out and paint soon!

Friday, May 17, 2013


Big Sky - 9 x 12 inches - Pastel by Lynn Goldstein

I have been extremely remiss in posting to my blog for some time. I think that perhaps I was not sure which direction to take in my work after completing the installation piece, "Treatise." As a result of that concern, I have been wandering about a bit. I have made several paintings and I have explored mixed-media. I felt a bit like a kid at play in kindergarten working in mixed-media and will be doing more of that in the future. In the meantime, I am including a painting in pastel that I have recently completed.

This painting is an example of my more recent work exploring the landscape of Iceland. Iceland is an island of extreme contrasts. One thing remained the same during our visit there, the sky was always interesting and often magnificent. This painting was inspired by that gorgeous sky. The painting is 9 x 12 inches. For more information about this painting, contact me by clicking here:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Symbolic Content of "Treatise"

The entire installation of Treatise, © 2013 Lynn Goldstein, books, wood and acrylic paint

I mentioned in my previous post that I would explain all the symbolism inherent in the piece that I made to commemorate the Holocaust The symbolism in the installation is as follows:

Why Books—
Education is an important tenet in the Jewish tradition. Books are also everyday objects that many take for granted. The "everyday" was forever altered for those who were persecuted during the Holocaust. Books also tell stories of people’s lives, so their use is particularly poignant given the lives that were destroyed. The book covers are not damaged, but the interiors of the books are distressed in various ways. The reason behind the decision to maintain the integrity of the book covers is to indicate that we all have stories; these stories are often hidden by the masks that we wear, but often, if one scratches the surface, wounds are apparent. The books are printed in Polish, Russian, German, Italian, French and Yiddish. That choice was an important one because the people tyrannized during the Holocaust were not foreign enemies, but citizens of the very governments that attempted to  annihilate them. The Yiddish book illustrates that the Jewish people were not completely destroyed and that a ray of hope still existed after World War II ended. Twelve books are used to symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel. The Jewish forefather, Jacob, fathered twelve sons and they are the ancestors of the Tribes of Israel.

Why a Tree Image—
Trees are an important symbol in many religious traditions. In Judaism, the tree is referred to as the Tree of Life and is a symbol that sustains and nourishes human beings. The Torah, or Jewish Written Law, is also referred to as the Tree of Life. The tree that I have drawn on the covers of the books is either dead or dormant. Further, the tree image is fractured rather than being solid since it is made up of different pieces. This is to symbolize the lives that were broken. However, there is hope expressed by the sapling that is depicted on the cover of the Yiddish book, which is in the lower right corner of the installation.

Why a Rack—
Again, I endeavored to utilize an object that had the appearance of an item that could be used every day.

Why a Pitcher, Bowl and Towel —
After attending a Jewish funeral and visiting the gravesite, one would not enter the home of the bereaved without rinsing one’s hands. There are those who would believe this practice is a way to banish evil spirits, and there are others who would simply see it as a life-affirming ritual after an encounter with death. The books have pastel on them. Therefore, when handled, pastel will get on viewer's hands. The water in the pitcher is there for visitor's to rinse off the pastel. This symbolizes the fact that if we hurt one another, we are all affected by the pain that is inflicted.

James and I will be installing the piece at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia on February 11 where it will be on view until April 15.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Resistance Through Art #3

Treatise, © 2013 Lynn Goldstein,  almost completed!

The book covers are painted, the interiors distressed, the rack completed, and I just have the final touches to consider before I call the art DONE! I have had this piece on my mind for quite awhile now, so it feels as if I am just about to complete a really good book. I am looking forward to finding out the end of the story, but know that I will miss reading it when I am finished.

The early stages of paint on the book covers
I want to thank everyone who has helped with the process. I could not have done it without each person who offered help. My sister-in-law Kasia contacted a friend of hers in Poland who sent me four novels in Polish. Several students located books in Russian, German and Yiddish for me to utilize. One of my friends who is living in Italy brought books for me from there. As mentioned before, another student, Ken Ferris, offered his marksmanship to shoot the books. The firing range was great for opening up their establishment (Sharpshooters)  for us before normal business hours, so that we could shoot the books, and then didn't charge us for the privilege. My friend, and fellow artist, Crystal Rodrigue, gave me a stool to use for the final touch, which helped keep me from continued obsessing (long story that I will not share for fear of obsessing). And, finally, a gigantic thanks goes to James MacLeod for the terrific rack that he fabricated for me. James is a woodworker extraordinaire!

I have included a couple of  photographs to show the piece almost completed.... I will have one more posting to show the piece installed and to explain the symbolism involved.. Thanks for reading.

The work shown at an angle in order to see the terrific rack made by James MacLeod
Treatise © 2013 Lynn Goldstein

Friday, January 18, 2013

Resistance Through Art #2

The exit hole in one of the books that was shot with a German Glock

In my previous post, I showed one of the pieces that I am exhibiting in the Holocaust remembrance show at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia between February 13 and April 15, 2013. I am including 3 pieces of art in this show. The paintings that I am showing are very different from the other piece on which I am working. As a result of a friend's suggestion, I am putting together a series of posts showing the progression of the second piece which is entitled "Treatise."

Painting has always been a large part of my life. I gain comfort from it and express myself using paint. People interact with painting passively. With this piece, however, I wanted observers to interact more actively with the objects on display. Therefore, I moved out of my comfort zone and utilized objects in a way that I had never attempted to do in the past.  This work is meant to move viewers out of their comfort zone as well. As an avid reader, and well aware that education has been an important tenet in Jewish history, books seemed the obvious “canvas” for me to utilize. Books often hold stories of people’s lives and provide us with connection to others. Also, books are everyday objects that many of us take for granted. Therefore, I chose to use books because they are symbolic not only of education, but also of lives that were forever altered by the Holocaust. They are symbolic of the everyday that was taken away from 6,000,000 people.

The books that I am utilizing are foreign language books. I wanted to use books in Russian, German, Polish, Italian and French. When a friend suggested that she would donate a Yiddish book to the cause, I realized what a great idea that was, so I also have a book in Yiddish as well—a  dozen books in all. I received help from several people in getting these books. In fact, the first story is the one expressed by the artwork itself. The second story is the community effort that has taken place in order for the piece to come to fruition.

The books, painted white, as I would like them to be displayed
To start, I painted the covers of the books in preparation for final coats of paint after the interior distressing was completed. I burned the edges of pages of some volumes, ripped interiors of other books and decided that I wanted to shoot a few of the books with a gun. The final insult to the books was the most difficult to pull off. One of my students, a gun enthusiast and a good shot, offered to shoot the books for me. He has a German Glock, so the holes would be authentic.  He met me before work last Wednesday morning in the parking lot of my studio. Imagine my surprise when he opened the door to his truck wearing a surgical mask! I felt as if I was going to the firing range with an antiseptic Freddie Kruger! In fact, I was being protected from a flu bug that had threatened to waylay our mission. The firing range personnel were kind enough to open their doors early for our project. No one was present with us in the firing area, and it was eerily quiet when the gun was not being discharged. The holes appeared almost like drill holes where the bullet entered, but the books were shattered where the bullet exited.  That's it for now... more progress to come....
Various books distressed before adding the final paint on the covers for
Treatise © 2013 Lynn Goldstein