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Announcing :: Painting by Heart Online (Acrylics Edition)


Pbyonline
I am so happy and proud to announce that my Painting by Heart Online class (acrylics edition) is now officially open! Here's the link that you can use to enroll. Thank you to the team that helped me get this from concept to reality and for all the humans who have encouraged me and shown patience with me during this process. I'm very proud of the quality of this product and hope you enjoy it and find it beneficial to your painting journey. If you want to.

With gratitude,

Jenny
#paintingbyheartonline

August 21, 2017


Vincent's Empathy & Activism


VincentI get choked up when thinking about Vincent van Gogh. A Post-Impressionist artist who painted a huge body of work. Surprisingly, he painted for only 10 years ... his last 10 years of his life. And it is through the act of painting that he finally felt that he had found a way to do something good for humankind. Previous to his painting life, he had been kicked out of the clergy for being overly empathetic to the poor. That he cared too much for them.

Though many of his works are of landscapes and flowers and even scenes of the bourgeoisie, his work also encompasses paintings of poor laborers and families working in the fields.

I get choked up because he didn't have to go out of his way to find subjects like poor field workers with dark skin. It would have been more convenient (and perhaps more lucrative) for him to depict just the convenient. But by taking the time to paint the poor working class, he was making a statement. He was championing humanism ... to make the case to the world with his strokes and pigments that all humans, even the marginalized, have value. We look at his body of work today and think what a genius he was but in his lifetime, he didn't enjoy the applause nor the sales of the viewing audience. I think he sold only one painting during his life.

Ironically, within the Post-Impressionist period, there is a movement called Art Nouveau that emerged in Belgium, where everything was about making everything pretty, in an effort to champion decorative arts. Certainly not a movement that would make room for paintings of poor people working in the fields.

Truthfully, I like seeing it all. The pretty, the troubling, the realistic, the decorative, the abstract. I feel for van Gogh who was so tortured by his unusual degree of empathy that ultimately became debilitating ... and I admire him for painting and being the activist that he was, regardless of the lack of acclaim or sales.

Perhaps the person who recently wrote me and asked that I keep politics out of my art might not realize that when she is looking at a van Gogh, she IS looking at politics. And she IS looking at his activism.

Sometimes it might feel that activism looks and feels a certain way. Loud. Shocking. Bubbling with outrage. What van Gogh teaches me is that at other times, activism feels different ... a kind of feeling that perplexes some because the work isn't super pretty or decorative ... just quietly reflective of a reality that is beyond the convenient yet steeped in the outrage just the same.

(PS: I also think loud and shocking activist art has value. I'll talk about that in another post)

#artandactivismlog

August 20, 2017


549 What You Do


Whatyoudo549 What You Do
18x 24 inches :: original acrylic painting on stretched canvas
Click here to Buy
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This is the second time using a reference of a fashion model from a fashion magazine that a colleague brought into the studio a few weeks ago. After I painted her this time, I abstracted her and then added some wise words by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I especially like that I made her eyes different colors.


Peace = Radical Nuclear Disarmament


Peace

The peace sign is a universally loved symbol. Maybe it's because it seems today to symbolize a zen-like energy ... not too radical, not too activist, not too political ... especially if it's made with dried rose petals ... or adorned with other design elements that don't rock the boat. Like ... peace and good vibes and all you need is love dude ... and let's keep politics out of it, dude.

Interestingly, the symbol was created in 1958 by British artist, Gerald Holtom, as a form of activism to denounce war and nuclear weapons. Specifically, it was to support and unite the Aldermaston March which took place in the UK, which drew thousands of marchers calling for nuclear disarmament. Quite radical. Quite political.

Holtom cleverly used the Naval Flag Semaphore characters to design the peace sign. At sea, flags (one in each hand) are held by a person in different ways to signal different letters. The Letter N is communicated when a person holds the flags so both arms are straight and positioned in equidistance from the body, with the flags pointing downward.

 

Peace3

The letter D is made when one arm is pointed straight up and the other straight down so that we see the person with flags as a straight vertical line.

Peace2

Holtom combined these two letters: N and D to create the peace sign, to signify Nuclear Disarmament.

I'm always surprised when I occasionally get someone who I barely know to write me and say "I love your art. Please don't put politics in it." To which I say:

  • I don't exist to do things to make your life feel more convenient
  • Whether you can see it or not, everything is political ... even seemingly innocuous decorative art is political ...in terms of who makes it/with what supplies it is made/during what time of day it is made ... and who ends up acquiring it.

I believe the language of art is multi-faceted. Those who allow it to communicate activism (like Holtom) do so with great effort to create original content that can trigger contemplation. Activist art frequently makes people uneasy ... but I believe it always leads to increased contemplation, which is wonderful, and powerful. Because I think what precedes peace is justice and what precedes justice is the presentation of details of a topic (whether it's about bombs, race, gender, class, environment, health, education, etc.) that sometimes takes a lifetime to really discuss and understand.

#artandactivismlog

August 19, 2017


Les Fauves


FauvismI love it when a sentiment hurled with the intent to hurt is embraced and used to turn that hurt into power. That's exactly how it happened with the Fauvists ... namely Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, and others whose colorfully loud works in a Paris art show caused a critic to describe their works as being made by "les fauves," which is French for "the wild animals."

Fauvism ushered in Expressionism where artists' rebellion toward Realism sought to turn the conventions of classical art upside down ... with the main purpose being to emancipate artists' feelings from the shackles of convention and allowing such feelings, no matter how animalistic or neurotic or weird, to be expressed.

Wassily Kandinsky is a Russian painter who was in concert with the wild animalistic ways that Fauvists championed color and was very experimental and radical in his ideas about painting ... including the idea that for art to be free from subjectivity, color needed to exist without form. He wanted his abstract use of color to be expressed in the spirit of music ... that is, he wanted his formless colors on canvas to exude what he viewed as complete freedom found in music.

All of this makes me think about this beautiful painting I made. Actually, I made it accidentally. A throw-away plate that I used as a makeshift paint palette. But sometimes, I look at plates like these and think how beautiful they are ... could it ba a plate of abstracted flowers? Abstracted pieces of fruit? Does it matter?

Some would argue that it matters. Some would argue that beauty that happens by accident isn't as valuable as beauty that happens with intent.

To which I sort of agree and sort of disagree. Painters who don't have musical training might mistakenly think that all music is a formless expression of beauty but actually music has its own set of rules. Notes exist on a clef, in a key, and if a piece of music sounds free and beautiful it's usually because it has been written within a structure of theory that works.

But then there's abstracted music ... like free jazz and music that comes out in jams without scores or theory ... where musicians just feel it and out come notes ... some rooted in theory and some accidentally and extemporaneously ... and when we hear it ... whether they are rooted in theory or birthed accidentally, if they move us, we dance.

#artandactivismlog

August 18, 2017


548 Balconette and Denim


Bralette

548 Balconette and Denim
6x8 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord
Click here to Bid or Buy
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I referenced a photo by @markushopperphotography for this work.

August 17, 2017


547 First Stone


Withoutsin547 First Stone
18x24 inches :: original acrylic painting on stretched canvas
Click here to Buy
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I referenced an image by @giacomo.spaconi for this work.

When the continued to question Him, He straightened up and said to them, "Whoever is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her." (John 8:7)

#resist #fakechristianity

August 15, 2017


546 I Still Resist


Resist546 I Still Resist
18x24 inches :: original acrylic painting on canvas board
Click here to Buy
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This is the demo painting I made today while teaching a private painting session. /// I've heard sentences come out of defenders of 45 that sound something like this: "He can't be racist or Anti-Semitic ... after all, his son-in-law is Jewish and his daughter has converted to Judaism." And 45 himself might even point to other ironies in his life to say "See? Look at the women and the people of color in my life."

The thing is, just because the likes of 45 has a Jewish son-in-law or a Black cabinet member or a female staff member doesn't mean that he regards them as equal. White supremacy is a practice of allowing "the others" to exist but in a manner where his status reins supremely over them. So yeah, Jared can be in his family. But Jared had better know his fucking place in the family because it is 45's base that recently chanted "We will not be replace by Jews" and it is his base that also chanted "Fuck you faggots." And just because 45 wants to fuck women he grabs by the pussy doesn't mean he wants them to be regarded on the same level as men.

Black Lives Matter isn't a movement that seeks to be supreme over others. It's a movement that is saying "There is deficiency in training that is causing certain poorly trained police who are shooting and killing unarmed Black humans. And this needs to stop because Black lives don't not matter. They matter."

#resistancelog #resist #whitesupremacy #resist

August 14, 2017


545 Polar Party


Polar545 Polar Party
8x8 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord
Click here to Bid or Buy Now
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I referenced a photo of polar bears by @earthpix for this work. So cute. (PS: I'm overwhelmed and grateful for the response to my online acrylics painting workshop. Thank you everyone. For those who have asked about my oil painting online class ... it's coming next ... after I catch my breath a little. Thank you for your patience.)

August 13, 2017


Cubism and the Tomato


TomatoCubism is the movement that preceded abstract expressionism ... incubating the grand rebellion against realism ... a rebellion that still exists in contemporary art. Basically, cubists argued that a still life painting of a tomato fell short of showing the entire truth of that tomato and that the way to remedy that was to show all aspects of the fruit all at the same time. And in order to do that, the tomato needed to be shattered/fragmented and then all its parts and pieces painted on the canvas all at the same time. If a tomato were made of delicate glass, the analogy would be more vivid, as the shattered pieces of a glass tomato (rather than a real one with juice and seeds) would better reflect the pointed angles found in cubist work. 

I appreciate the experimental nature of Cubism (and its sister movement, Futurism). I respect and admire experimentalism in general. The criticism I have is in the notion that there are only things to gain and nothing to lose by shattering and distorting a subject. Indeed, there are things to gain. I mean, I really dig it when I can actually see the nude woman walking down a staircase (as in Marcel Duchamp's famous painting: Nude Descending a Staircase) when at first glance it appears to be just a bunch of lines and shatterings.

But that doesn't mean that a representational work that shows only one view of the woman descending a staircase doesn't offer certain truths relevant to that woman.

Rendering an object by shattering it and showing all pieces simultaneously allows artists a new and magical way of looking at the subject. What we lose in the process is perspective, depth, and certain nuances that can only be captured when we take one perspective at a time. Some time in the future in my painting practice I hope I find an opportunity to render a subject in the Cubist style. But I don't think I'll be surprised to learn that by trying to show everything all at the same time, I gain wondrous things, and I lose wondrous things. And ain't that life?

#artandactivismlog

August 11, 2017


544 Kaepernick


Colin kaepernick544 Kaepernick
8x8 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord
Click here to Bid or Buy Now
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I referenced an image of @kaepernick7 from the internet for this work. It's puzzling to hear people say with immense fervor "love it or leave it" in reference to his peaceful and courageous form of protest. Did he spit, shoot, beat, hang, torture, set on fire any person or any object? No. He took a knee (risking fortune and criticism) to shine light on police brutality against the African American community.  Love it or leave it?! How about he loves it, is troubled by aspects of it, and is willing to work toward improving it? That's true love.

"Your silence will not protect you." #audrelorde

#blacklivesmatter #istandwithkaepernick

 

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