At today’s meeting Loretta, Thomas, Joanne, Tim, Charlie, Genie, Ward, Jim, Jeanie, Susan, Jerry, Eunice, Za, and me Celeste.
Today’s suggested table topic (answer one or any of these questions): Statement or social commentary paintings… Have you ever done one? If not, what might your subject be if you did do one? Have you ever seen a social commentary painting that you remember... that stuck in your mind?
Celeste: Some years ago I painted this painting for a show called “Peace”. The name of this painting is “If there can be Peace, Why is there War”? I was inspired by posters from the 1960s. Also, because of this topic today, I painted this black dog last night. This dog was recently in the news. I am the kind of person who cannot handle any sad stories about animals. However, I did learn of this dog’s fate and I couldn’t get this dog (“Kona”) out of my thoughts. This was close to my neighborhood. I wondered if I painted the dog if it might help me work through my feelings about the situation.*
I wondered if the painting might also help someone else. I am also showing a painting I did recently at Studio One-Eleven.
Loretta: I would not do social commentary painting for myself. If I were to do something along those lines I would choose writing instead of painting. A painting I saw once that stayed with me was done by a watercolorist. It was a eagle with its talons extended …and laying on the ground was a soldier. I can’t forget that painting.
Thomas: I remember an artist who painted a Chase Bank. He painted it accurately but then he made it on fire. It was a statement about the disastrous financial issues facing people then. The thing was though –those paintings attracted the attention of the FBI! (Laughter)! I think about Norman Rockwell and his civil rights paintings. At one time I felt an almost kinship with homeless people. I remember thinking I should paint homeless people, but I never followed through. I think if I did that now it would feel exploitive to me.
Tim: I will do political drawings…ideas I have about society and those are just for me. I did this painting when the presidential campaigns began. It is a circus and meant to be sad with no heart. Here are some samples of my drawings that show people in the political arena and also with feelings and thoughts about my own life. I am also showing you a painting that I did on my sketchbook cover… and a recent landscape.
Charlie: I believe that the photojournalism of the 40s and 50s was the most golden age for communication. I saw a colored pencil show one time and the person who won third place actually had swastikas in her painting. It surprised me that the judge had the courage to give that paining an award. I think of that painting by Picasso called Guernica, it seems the gold standard of social commentary.
I used to have a poster –a famous iconic poster about Vietnam. Someone actually slashed that poster. I have no idea who did that, but it made me wonder what type of person slashes a poster that is already “protesting” war!? What were they saying?
Jeanie: I have never done a social commentary painting. I am not at all opposed to it but I have never done one and I don’t think I have any inclination to do one. It has never occurred to me. I am showing a recent skyscape.
Ward: As many of you know I have a career as a hairstylist. I make people look really really good and when they leave I say : “Now, use your powers for good”. This is a joke, but I also mean it. I think it is important that we try to do the best for each other at all times. We people affect each other around us all the time. A medicine man once blessed my flute. What he said to me was “Every sound you make heals everything forever”.
I am showing today a painting that I did with Brush-o. I had a wonderful time teaching a class about Brush-o in Astoria. I can’t wait to do it again!
Jim: It seems to me a social commentary painting will elicit anger or sadness or some extreme. This is meant to move people to make them make some kind of decision. When I first grew a beard my father called me a hippie. (Laughter)! I painted a painting back then called “The people driving Love from the City”. Nowadays I feel that the paintings I do still tell a story…but in a more gentle way. I like to depict things between people. I like to do this in a subtle way. I am showing two landscapes that I did from my European trip.
Joanne: I was given a grant to do a project called "Northwest Neighbors, who are we"? I painted people “in between” moments. I tried to depict elements in our culture. Recently a six grader picked out the fact that one of my paintings had a homeless person in it. It surprised me that they saw that because it was not obvious at all. I sometimes like to get ideas across with as little paint and his few strokes as possible. I am not interested in “straight-cold” portraits. I remember when I was at a Lake Oswego show a long time ago I saw a painting from across the room and it looked like a family who were picnicking together. But as I got closer to it I saw that the family was actually beating each other up (laughter)! I also would point to Hank Pender as someone who is done a great deal of social commentary. If I had a motto it would be: “I can do anything I want --it’s my painting”.
Za: I am Hmong. We migrated to get away from conflict. So it is in my DNA to avoid conflict like crazy. Americans—yes-- they try to articulate what is wrong and to try to find ways to solve problems. My cousin does work tirelessly for rights of others. I haven’t felt moved to do that. When I was in college I did do a painting of a bird with a net dropped over it. What I remember about that is that I didn’t like doing it. I like to paint people. I simply like to present people as I see them.
Genie: I am a protester. I definitely protest things that I think are wrong. My significant other is involved with environmental issues and so is my daughter. I am showing a painting that is about Lake Shasta. When we went there the water was so low. My painting is an abstraction. I get on “kicks “to paint things that are meaningful to me. Recently I painted a series about endangered foods.
It’s true-- there are things that may disappear from our world; things like chocolate, olive oil and beer. I painted about these things.
Susan: When I was 16 years old I got an oil painting kit as a gift. I also got a Norman Rockwell book. His stuff was always “commentary.” We’ve lost that illustration age and it seems sad to me. Magazine covers used to help us shape our ideas. I like to bring beauty out into the forefront. I did a Facebook post one time during the Nepal earthquake … I offered a print of one of my Nepal children with proceeds to go to help the Nepalese people. As a result of that I was able to write a big check to the earthquake fund. It was a thrill for me to be able to contribute a considerable sum! I have been working on a project for Alpenrose dairy. They are neighbors of mine. A few hundred years from now maybe our paintings will survive and help tell the story of our time. I am also showing him some paintings from studio 111 and a recent demonstration that I did. Right after I got this child to play/pose he threw his train cars at me (laughter)!
Jerry: Do you remember when the protesters suspended themselves from the St. John’s bridge? The whole thing looked so festive. It didn’t look like a protest at all ---the people hanging from the bridge with all the beautiful banners. I took pictures of it and I meant to paint it, but I never did get to it and now I don’t think I will. I brought in a book about Ilya Repin-- here is a painting he did “Ivan the Terrible murders his son”. This happened in about 1555 but it was painted 300 years later. It makes me wonder about the horrors of our contemporary life --what about now.. do we depict it now (or later)?
Eunice: At my age I just want to pay kittens and puppy dogs! (Laughter)! I am showing two paintings that I’ve done recently.
Ward has announced that he has been contacted by a major art supply company that will promote his videos! (Congratulations, Ward)!
Studio One-Eleven for figure sessions:
Portland Figure and Drawing sessions:
Za, Thomas and Scott are on their way to Olmsted:
Sign up for Pacific NW Plein Air 2016 --it is hosted by the Maryhill Museum (final week of August, deadline to apply April 25)
Toledo Plein Air Call to Artists:
Toledo Plein Air Call to Artists:
Scott Johnson at the Waterstone
Sequoia portrait workshop with Za May 7 and 8
Painting Workshops page on Facebook:
Painting Workshops page on Facebook:
Next Meeting Thursday April 21 Suggested Table Topic: “Split Primary Palette” which warms and cools are you using? (Generally two yellows, two reds and two blues). Tell us!