Welcome to the Pleasanton Art League
PAL President’s Message
Is There Something in Nothing? With all this free time, I must admit that I’ve been enjoying doing nothing. In fact, I haven’t done nothing like this in years. Maybe decades! It feels both luxurious and unnerving at the same time. One day blurs into the next. My days are filled with small, mundane tasks as it is hard to do any real planning. I’ve also been introspective and feel very fortunate at the most fundamental level. We are healthy, so far. We have a warm house. We have enough food. We are doing okay, when so many others are not. The most pressing issue for me has been the inertia surrounding my ability to get any real work done. I could be working on my website, or getting that filing done, or taking advantage of this gift of time in some meaningful way. This quarantine has made me terribly lazy!
As much as I lament this lack of creative zeal, I am taking comfort in a couple of things. I know that when this pandemic is over and the anxiety abates, creativity will return. Also, there is actually ‘something’ in our ‘nothing’. Our creativity, like every other thing in nature, comes in ebbs and flows. Like the tides, the ebb is when the water is drained from the shore. The flow is when it returns like a wave, nourished by deep waters. The recouping (nothing) phase is as important as the active phase. The cycles could last days, weeks, or even years. Sometimes it can be roused by actively feeding it, sometimes it is banished by a global pandemic.
How has this Shelter-In-Place affected your creativity? Are you experiencing a creative flow? Is this a time of artistic risk-taking? Or, are you finding comfort in familiar techniques? Maybe your responsibilities have increased at home and creativity seems like an unaffordable luxury. Has your energy shifted to other things? Are you asking yourself, “what energy?” If you’d like to share your insights for the June Portfolio, please write a short article and send to Norma Webb (email@example.com) before May 15th. Pictures are always great too.
Linda Beach: When I received the question about staying on the creative path in stressful times, I had spent some of the morning attending to art business then updated my website. Since I found out that the LAA art show had also been cancelled, I organized my painting records which I keep of each painting. In the top corner I paste an image of each piece and the date finished.
Teaching interrupts my work and I find it easier to return to a painting in progress than to begin a new one. Soon I was listening to my Pandora stations and immersed in the painting. But, not all days will be like this. I find that if I don’t feel like painting right away, sometimes just going in the studio and tidying up by organizing and cleaning my pastel sticks will often lead to getting back the creative spirit. I paint landscapes and have a stack of images ready and waiting to be my next painting.
For those who are looking for inspiration during our time at home, there is a wealth of inspiration in the kitchen (whisks, corkscrews, tea kettle etc.) I have a friend who used different corners of her home as a still life and created beautiful pastels of her pillows, dining room chairs etc. Now that those of us above a certain age have to self-isolate, I may be looking around the house for my muse as well. Happy Painting.
This has been my big project while sheltering in place. I had the idea of painting this triptych before the lockdown occurred, so I had all of the supplies that I needed to begin. It was a wonderful project to keep my mind off of the current events and have a focus to my days. I selected three photos that I took while in Giverny in 2018….and tried to have them flow together…. they were three separate areas of Monet’s garden. As it progressed, I needed to have a space where they could be side by side, so we moved the kitchen table out of the eating area, and I took over that area for about a week to finish them up….. very sweet husband to roll with all of that! They are painted in oil on linen, 10”x 30” each.
Karen Fleschler: Phil and I are hunkering in and not going out to eat. But we have enjoyed having a couple of friends over for dinner for warmth and conversation. We try to stay optimistic and positive and finding joy in just being alive, knowing our family and friends are safe and well and staying connected. Of course then there’s always alcohol.
Marge Haggin: Georgia, Joyce and Christine and I meet for art play days—but we won’t be doing that for awhile. But I challenged them each to produce a piece of art with a flower on a pink background. Then next week we will send a photo of our piece of art piece to each other.
I am still working on the art to enter in the Spring Show, but since the date is now moved to November, I hope to still be able to add a new piece to it. Collage is a great way to get involved in a piece of art that is relaxing. Find colors, shapes, themes in junk mail, magazines, old love letters–use your imagination. (You don’t have glue? There is always flour and water.) One of the best ideas is to call another artist and just chat. Maybe someone you haven’t had time to visit in awhile. Art has opened so many doors for all of us–now is a good time to explore and find ways to expand for ourselves and I hope to pass on to others.
Kathy Hill: Call me crazy, but almost finding myself sequestered to home and the studio a blessing. I am using the time to catch my breath and concentrate on my work without some of the events with looming deadlines. I am still creating new work for licensing because there are trade shows coming up in May if all is well by then. Aside from art, I am enjoying cooking and working in the garden. My pup and I walk two to three miles a day and I am also practicing qigong and mindfulness. And last but not least, being grateful for all I have, my family and friends, and all of the people working on the front lines to keep us safe and healthy. Wishing you all health and a burning desire to create wonderful art!
Linda Hopwood: Over the years I have worked in many mediums. Most of you are familiar with my work which has been realistic images in colored pencil. Recently I decided to go back to one of my favorite styles and that is doing abstracts in acrylic. Attached you will see one of my latest paintings. They are acrylic on canvas. “Red Rose in a White Pail” is 36 x 24”. Since it’s been over 10 years since I’ve done an acrylic painting, it’s been challenging for me to create a something that reflects the image I see in my mind.
Georgia Jacobs: 12 Museums From Around the World That You Can Visit Virtually | Travel + Leisure
Christine McCall: As for staying on the creative path, my path is stunted the last few months from the SAS and work at Walter’s company. I am hoping that this breather will let me do some of the ideas I’ve had in my head for awhile. Being stuck at home like this could be the perfect time to do a project. Right now I’m just catching up on email and bills and paperwork!
Mark Mertens: Attached is a picture of me being busy. It was taken by a photographer and was in the newspaper. As you know we now live in Arroyo Grande on the central coast and also have a condo in Danville. The dry January and February have given me the opportunity to get out and do plein air paintings in oil along the coast. I’ve also been busy working in the studio. My philosophy has always been, “life is short, so why waste any of it not painting.” I work regardless of how I feel about it at the time and magically get lost in the process after about 15 to 30 minutes. It is like exercise. Many of us do not feel like getting regular exercise, but when we do, the good feeling about exercise falls into place.
Meghana Mitragotri: Honestly, I did not understand the magnitude of the current situation when the “Shelter-in- Place” order was first issued, but now I do. Life is too short, and we have no other option but to make every day count and to see the positive side of any situation. It does get lonely for my daughter, husband and me to live so far away from our family in India, but then we are so glad that my mother and sister are here with us right now. It’s a little disheartening that we aren’t able to take them out to visit places, but then it’s nice that we are all together at home, spending some quality time gardening, cooking, baking, crafting, painting, catching up on movies, documentaries, and doing all the small and simple things that we probably never had the time for.
My husband Ameya, and mom Rita are enjoying gardening; planting flowers and seeds in our backyard, and exploring various DIY tutorials on YouTube. I always avoided conversations about gardening whenever my husband showed interest, only because I knew what was coming post his gardening adventure….the backyard clean up afterwards! But now, there’s no escape! My sister Nandita, and daughter Diya love trying their photography skills in the garden, and then there’s me, trying to paint from those pictures with watercolors. Here’s a picture of some violas that we planted, along with my watercolor greeting cards. As a family, we are making “Thank you” cards to send out to the local police & fire departments, Mayor, Governor, nursing homes, first responders, national laboratories, medical offices and other organizations that are working tirelessly to help fight this menace. This is the least we can do within these cozy walls. Please join me in bringing cheer to the Bravehearts.
Beth Okurowski: Many famous artists throughout history werealso gardeners. Monet comes to my mind first, but there are many others. I recently came across this interesting article: From Frida Kahlo to Claude Monet, 8 Artists Who Designed Enchanting Gardens. Take a look!
Stephen Rodriguez: “The Chief says we’re on schedule. ‘The Chief’ is the name of a train.” When not playing with numbers, lets just call Stephen the Train Man. Dusting all these toys should keep him busy until the next show.
Helene Marie Roylance: A few weeks ago I was struggling to get back in my ceramics studio after a busy holiday season. I had finally shed my winter burnout and felt the pressure to start filling the kiln. Post holiday, I always plan on making January “Watercolor January,” since I love painting, but I always feel like I run out of time. Now that my ceramics show dance card is unexpectedly free…I’m going to take advantage and use my studio time for those things I never have enough time to do!
I’m sure I’m not the only one with a stack of art books we always meant to crack open. “One of these days I’ll set aside a day to just follow along some tutorials!” “I’ll get myself to do some color studies!” We all have a project we put off because we didn’t have time…right? For me, I have a wonderful stack of watercolor books that I have been wanting to savor. You know, that mythical time where you put away the other noise and just dig in, painting to explore and experiment, not with such purpose? Now is the perfect time!
Just because we need to restrict our travel doesn’t mean we can’t have inspiration from around the world! I thought I would share a resource that I love for those artists looking for inspiration. I discovered an incredible website, PaintMyPhoto (https://pmp-art.com/). According to their website, “Paint My Photo (PMP) is a social networking site dedicated to sharing photos for artistic inspiration without fear of infringing copyright.” Once you register an account, and agree to the terms (not to make unauthorized prints of others’ photos), you gain access to a gigantic online resource of photographs you can legally use as reference photos without fear of copyright infringement. This is an amazing group of people that share their photos – from Copenhagen to Japan, New Mexico to Brazil. These wonderful photographers from all over the world submit their photos so that registered users of the website can use them as reference for their own original artwork. You are free to make copies of the resulting works you create and sell them. They have helpful guides to help you learn how to search using key words, and how to add photos. I have found the users on the site to be extremely warm, gracious and supportive. What more could you ask for!
Lynne Shephard: Things I like to do were taken away from me all of a sudden. I have no more classes. The shows I had gotten into were cancelled. My only solace is my studio away from home. I can go there, because I’m the only one there at the moment. I haven’t recovered enough, yet, to begin creating some art. Slowly, I’m feeling more joyful at the chance to start a new painting. Those thoughts turned into wanting to go for a new medium. I want to go back to my printmaking for awhile. I have a new process of using solar plates to create block prints, intaglio, or relief printing. So, when the sun comes out again, I will be fully prepared to start that process.
Barbara Stanton: I consider most of the news as nonsense. You have to ask yourself “Is there anything I can do about it?” Most likely not. Get back to work! Besides, painting is my escape from the “real” world.
Our vulnerability has been highlighted in no uncertain terms in the current pandemic and rapid and complex changes have placed us in extraordinarily stressful times. Yet in the midst of it I am recalling quotes that have inspired and motivated me and I hope that by sharing them they can lighten your load a bit as well.
Quote 1: The first was shared by my artist friend, Sawsan, who was making some jewelry and found an inscription on a piece of metal which read: “Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.” (Richard Bach) When I set aside my anxiety and looked for a gift in this unprecedented situation I came to realize that there were indeed gifts – closeness of family that I don’t usually get to enjoy, stepping off the hamster- wheel of meetings and events and finding quiet spaces to connect with my passions of writing and floral photography.
Quote 2: “You have to find what sparks a light in you so that your own way can illuminate the world” (Oprah Winfrey). There are few things that excite me as much as discovering a beautiful bloom. It has no expectations of the world but revels in the elements whether it be sunshine, wind or rain. When it is at its peak the glorious light of living shines forth spreading beauty where it finds itself. In this trying time I am still able to enjoy walks and admire the beauty of Spring’s arrival (and we know there are always flowers for those who want to see them!). This photo was taken in my neighborhood.
Quote 3: “Each new day is an opportunity to try again! Embrace it!” (Vanessa) I never realized how often I touch my face until I was told not to! I don’t always succeed and I don’t always feel that I am in tune with my muse when editing a floral photograph and on those days the images never quite seem to look the way I intended them to – but that’s ok – the joy is in the process and each day that we are granted is chance for us to try again.
Quote 4: “To know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). The joy that artists bring to the world are seldom deemed essential but we can see the vitality that an engaging creation brings when there is a deluge of negativity and unhappiness. More and more people have been asking me to please post my floral images to add an uplifting moment to their sheltered days. Museums have made virtual tours available and artists have been sharing stay-at- home creative projects. If your work can brighten the day of just one person (even if it’s you) then it’s all been worthwhile.
Quote 5: “Bloom with all the enthusiasm you can muster!” (Vanessa) Some buds never flower, if we are fortunate enough to bloom – we should do so with all the enthusiasm we can muster! Persist in your creative journey – it will fuel you and create new opportunities to connect.
Dianne Varden: I get creative by looking through my collection of art books and personal photos. It stimulates my imagination. I also like to look at various photos of paintings on line. I Figure out what attracts me to that particular painting and try to do something similar but using my own subject. Once started, the painting somehow develops and I might end up with something different but satisfying. I also like to watch various artists on YouTube who do interesting work. i.e. I tried acrylic pour painting for the first time and had fun. I probably won’t continue for long, but learned some helpful painting tips. Most important though is getting into your studio even if you just tidy up and clean brushes etc. Being amongst your “tools” tends to put you in a painting mood!
Craig Varden: For artists and photographers …Travel vicariously…to Italy, Wuhan anywhere in the world. Go to Google photos or a major photostock agency (mine is superstock.com) and enjoy the travel photos, plan future trips and get art ideas.
Christine Watters: 1. Look for art project ideas on Pinterest. 2. Join the 25 Million Stitches project, it’s not too late – They will take entries until April 30. Easy to do when sitting binge watching Netflix or listening to audiobooks. The requirements are very flexible, you can even use your own scrap fabric. At minimum, peruse their website. The panel images are wonderful and community blog is a feel-good read. www.25millionstitches.com.
Jan Watling: Jan submitted several pictures of her process for cutting paper strips for her curling art. She doesn’t have a website but you can go to her Facebook page, or email her at watling@ comcast.net to see the other photos.
Norma Webb: The Portfolio is creative in its own way, but not as fulfilling as a painting when it is going well. Then there is gardening which I enjoy a lot, even though bending is getting harder all the time! Beautiful music is always inspiring. And I have a stack of beautifully written books from over the years that I loved and saved to read again “later.” Well guess what?– “Later” is here!
One quote: “I don’t understand why I have all this uninterrupted time on my hands but I don’t see the pile of finished projects stacking up!”
Upcoming General Meetings
May 11, 2020, 7:30 pm PAL Program – Cancelled
June 8, 2020, 7:30 pm LAA Program – Tentative
October 12, 2020, 7:30 pm PAL Program, Theresa Muley, Infrared Photography
General Meeting Locations
Regardless of location, all General Meetings of PAL & LAA are intended for members of both groups! Please take the short drive between Livermore and Pleasanton. The more the merrier!
Bothwell Arts Center
2466 8th Street
Cultural Arts Building
4455 Black Avenue, Pleasanton
Our Meetings are Always Open & Free to the Public. Bring a Friend.