Frances Gaffney in front of "Trail Work".
Across the Hudson to Guttenberg, 8 X 10 inches, pastel on paper, by Frances Gaffney
In an earlier blog I wrote about Richard Gilkey and his thoughts on the nature of consciousness.
What color is consciousness? Richard Gilkey believed it was black. He described this concept by allowing the background color to seep into the painting, sometimes serving as an outline but always apparent in the rough surface of the canvas. He called this consciousness the “cloud”. He was interested in the new science of the Unified Field and wished to find a way to paint about it. There is a fine article about this Pacific Northwest artist at Kingfisher Press (see the following link: http://www.kingfisherpress.com/).
I am very moved by Gilkey's work and have wanted to experiment with a background color for a while. Pastel pencils are the perfect medium for this study. In Across the Hudson to Guttenberg, the drawn lines represent the expression of consciousness, but the black ground represents consciousness itself. Not entirely sold on the color of consciousness being black, and imagining it is closer to the color of the sky; (cerulean or perhaps periwinkle), I plan to experiment with a variety of colored papers.Comment on or Share this Article →
Boat Basin Cafe at Night
My night time painting experiment was a great success! My grill lamp worked perfectly. The weather was warm but a little windy, which blew away the reflections on the river a little bit.
My husband asked, “Why would anyone walk through a city park at night?” Because I am a hard core plein air painter! This leads me to my next challenge. Here’s how it came about: A few weeks ago I found myself in the neighborhood of Columbia University. I was on the edge of Morningside Park at 115th Street and Morningside Drive. Here was a beautiful city park on a beautiful autumn day and I was ready with my art supplies. What I wasn’t prepared for was the canyon that is Morningside Park. I stood a hundred feet above the park on a stone balcony. There were wide stone stairs going down into this chasm and I could not bring myself to descend. A couple of people came up out of the park and everything seemed normal but something wouldn’t let me take a step off the landing and down the stairs. Was this some childhood memory of being told the parks were dangerous? Was I feeling a pull from the Great Protector, keeping me safe from whatever lurked down there? I paced for fifteen minutes and just could not get my feet going in that direction. I headed home a little confused. Later that night I told my husband about this eerie experience. He said, “Of course you felt unsafe. Morningside Park is where they tossed the bodies in the ‘80s.” He grew up in Yorkville so I believe he knew. I later talked to a Parks employee about Morningside Park. She said it was fine now, but counseled me not to enter the park alone.
I plan on finding a few hearty souls to join me in the park around Halloween.Comment on or Share this Article →
“Those who are not conversant in works of art are often surprised at the high value set by connoisseurs on drawings which appear careless, and in every respect unfinished; but they are truly valuable. . . they give the idea of a whole.”
Sir Joshua Reynolds
The Retention Pond, graphite on paper, 16 X 20 inches, 2012 by Frances Gaffney
The retention pond - what a horrific man-made thing this is. Stephen King could have invented it. A pool in the middle of a sub-division where ten year old boys are drawn and in their curiousity, slip in . Unable to climb out, they expire alone, yards away from home. Unnatural reeds grab hold of the legs of the strongest swimmer to pull them under in a tangle. What do they retain? The polluted run-off carrying fertilizer, cement, bottle caps and dryer lint. In the winter when they freeze, the image of children happily learning to skate on them cannot convince. Our family once skated on such a pond. What we didn't know was that a couple of days prior a young woman had driven her car into it and lay dead inside the vehicle as we skated over her. It took the police a few days to track her.
I like to think that I was able to convey my feelings about this new manifestation on the landscape with as few lines as possible. That every mark has meaning and is beautiful.
Cherry Tree Canopy, Riverside Park, NYC
On my way through Riverside Park to shop for groceries I had to stop before I could ascend these stairs. A pair of sparrows were squabbling over a twig. They were in the middle a city park, surrounded by abundance and yet they were fighting over a twig. Nature reflects us back to ourselves. When you can't see the forest for the trees, you squabble over imagined lack. I was also stopped by the beauty of the light on the heavy cherry blossoms. To continue on my way I passed under a canopy of scented blossoms. No lack of beauty in the world.Comment on or Share this Article →
And there will be no night there; and they have no need of lamplight or sunlight, for the Lord God will shine upon them, and they will be kings until the Ages of the Ages.
There is no Night, 1949, oil on canvas, 102 x 153 cm
The “only art” for Jack Yeats was the ‘art’ of living. But as Paul Valéry famously said, “One must always apologise for talking about art.” Jack resisted all wheedlings; he gave little away. The closest he came to commenting on art was a rare moment in an otherwise testy interview with Eamonn Andrews (Radio Éireann, RTÉ, 1947; transcription, Foley, Yeats, pp. 29-31):
“I dislike the word art as to painting. There is only one art and that is the art of living. Painting is an occupation that’s in that art, and that occupation is the freest of all the occupations of living. There is no alphabet, no grammar. No rules whatever. Many hopeful sportsmen have tried to invent rules and have always failed. Any person or group of persons who try to live life with rules do a disservice to this occupation of living. They forget that painting is tactics and not strategy. It is carried out in the face of the enemy.” [emphasis added]
http://emuseum.pointblank.ie/online_catalogue/works.php?id=272 online collection Dublin City Gallery
http://yeatssociety.org/?page_id=138 essay about Jack Yeats
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Opening Reception for "Mountainscapes", with Frances Gaffney and Janet Yeates