'Treats' Acrylic on wood assemblage ©robinrkent

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Spirits of Christmas Past

I am thankful for and amazed by my considerate folk art collectors who have sent me Christmas cards over the years. Not only do they send a card, often with a handwritten note, but some have included photos of the pieces I've made.
collector's photo (detail) of my work in their home
It's such a wonderful present. I love seeing these pieces in their settings - looking so much more 'at home.'
And often I had neglected to take a picture before sending them on their merry way.
How thoughtful these art collectors are to think of me at this busy time! So nice for me to see them once again!

For me, I'm lucky if I get my decorations up. I should start earlier. After languishing on the dining room table for far too long, my cat Callie reassigned the front door wreath to become her nest.
Callie warming her nest.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Toy Land

I can recall favorite childhood Christmas presents: my cat (an impulse adoption from the church basement where my uncle was the minister), a recumbent-peddled metal hook & ladder fire engine, a large wooden rocking horse called 'Big Red' floating on spring supports, natural maple (?) wood blocks that fit perfectly in its cardboard box, and my cobbler's bench. I never was much for dolls or girly things.
Sensory satisfaction of wood on wood. 
Playing with the wooden blocks and cobbler's bench continue in my assemblage artwork as an adult child. I don't have the originals anymore.
(Here's one like mine, left, sold as a Vintage Playskool Cobbler's Bench.)
However the satisfaction of pounding dowels, or building block sculptures has never left.
Many days remind me of those play times when I'm creating art in the shop.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Artwork

In many ways, it seems like the right time of year to turn inward and reflect. The tragic events in Connecticut urge me to be even more pensive. I've already caught myself silently singing 'I Wonder As I Wander' more than a few times recently. 
 'The Care and Feeding of Birds' wood assemblage
I suppose it's the natural balance to the high times of summer with its rush of outward activity. 

This is a piece I made for my local library's Christmas auction a while ago. I only donate originals to a few organizations, the library being one.
I try to make artwork for them that includes a book. It's hard to see the cardinal on St. Francis's finger due to the beautiful wreath behind it. Birds are good at camouflage, you know. I posted this version because it showed the holiday greenery on location at the library, and hopefully the holiday spirit as well.  
Although it is a solitary time of year, helping others, animals included, in various ways seems even more essential. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Folk Art Diary: Noticing how you see

'Winter solstice' acrylic on canvas       ©robinrkent
Reading books (or art) in the western world moves left to right. Then down to left again. A 'Z' motion. (or a 'Zorro' swash to me.) 'Reading' art is faster, but takes time to process. It being a more interactive endeavor.
The Z can make art move like a fast-paced action thriller. The blog header ski art (above) uses the diagonal to infer motion. Diagonals keep you off balance, an innate sense exploited by artists. And directs your eye. Notice how Kandinsky uses it to add dynamic motion in his work listed here: 'Top 10 Modern Artists'. (He's  #2.)
The tilt of the fellow (above), fall of the hill, and angle in the sky was to show some depth. Not a downhill slide on skis, just a creep.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Folk Art Diary: From Dark to Light

Did I miss something? Ahh, err... Yes. Been super busy, thus tired, thus missed writing a post. Hard to type with my eyes closed. 
Still haven't gotten used to the time change and early darkness. It really saps energy. I suppose it's a good time to catch up on sleep, but holidays and deadlines can get in the way. Hibernation will have to wait until February.
And when it is bright out, it's at such a severe angle, it's hard to see. This is the time of year to wear baseball caps, even if out of season. (A good time to root for the Red Sox.) And eyeglasses that turn dark. Maybe grey days are the best. If not for morale, at least vision.
©robin r kent 
The dark takes on an otherworldly ambience. It appeals to the emotions. And spirituality. Reaching through the dark to connect.
When painting, I usually start from a black field and paint from dark to light. The dark helps define the image. I use chalk to sketch in my drawing, correcting with a damp cloth. Then start painting the inside areas. When finished I erase the chalk lines with the damp cloth to reveal a black outline. Simple and striking. Especially in darkly lit rooms.
Above: My assemblage angels in gallery window, after hours. Recycled bamboo rakes, antique planks, furniture pieces, electrical wire, acrylic paint.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Folk Art Is People's Art

I try to describe my work to others. More than likely, that doesn't work. So I pull out a business card with photographs on it (painting on one side, assemblage/sculpture on the other). That helps the conversation continue.
Take a card...
I went to an art show recently where I am usually an exhibitor. I took this year off. Being a customer felt strange. I wanted to stand in someone's booth and write up sales.
I met a folk artist there whose work I had recently discovered. She was very friendly and forthcoming with her process. Maybe we connected because we are both folk artists. We compared notes. Both of us work in mixed media with wood as the base. We're similar but different in our style.
When discussing folk art definitions, she said you know it when you see it. That's what a folk artist would say. She can join my club. It's people's art.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pocket Reference for Artists

Artists' pockets are useful for storage. Always an added bonus to find the newly acquired pants have 'deep pockets.' Deep thoughts can easily reside in there.
  Pockets as folk art subject  ©robinrkent
Lists of things to do, tools and screws to be returned, paper napkin drawings, loose change. I'll know what needs to be done next when I pull the winner out from my pocket. They become the saddlebag to my pack animal. Safe and secure when migrating, say from one side of the house to the other. 

But as the season gets colder, and I add layers, pockets become too much of a good thing. Too many hiding places. I've found  things I've looked for all summer in my spring/fall jacket. Like little memory scrap books they turn up reminding me of escaped thoughts. 

I always forget to look in the previous season's pockets. But I expect all will eventually come out in the wash. Those loose pennies are so hard to retrieve from there, though.

Left: 'For Your Consideration'
Acrylic on Barn Board

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Time Traveler

'Time management specialist' will be added to my resume after 'artist' and 'caregiver.' As a kid, I never kept track of time. I often got 'stuck'. Friends had to break my trance for me to stay current in our fast paced childhood world. I'm paying now for all that random dreaming. Glad to have the extra hour today! Never enough time is turning into a problem.
Wall assemblage tracking time at home  ©robinrkent

Viewing problems as creative challenges can be successful and usually fun. Here's my plan for rolling one solution for time and art together:
I want to create simpler art - whether assemblage sculpture (a la Marisol) or painting (Milton Avery). Being mindful of editing and simplifying might also take less time.    Bingo!

When asked recently 'how long does it take to make my art,' I described how some works can be unruly throughout. Not a linear process; many sideroads to get to the end envisioned. They thought differently recalling how they watched a family friend/artist start a huge painting and finish it the next day. Hmmm. I know artists I admire who can do that also.

I'll give it a try. Nothing to lose but some time.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chapter 2, Fairy Tales

I've always been attracted to eastern European and Russian illustration. Must be from the connection to fairy tale illustrations, a childhood highlight. East of the Sun, West of the Moon, The Good Master, Andersen's Fairy Tales are among my favorites. And all that art originated from this locale. 
Detail from my Andersen's fairy tales cover
They were familiar but other worldly. I wanted the back story, not necessarily the fairy tale. 
When I enlarged and turned this cover illustration around, the illustrator had written:
'[Miss] Catherine Elizabeth, my darling grand daughter with love dedicate these kind and gentle fairy tales of the kind and gentle people of Denmark. Arthur Szyk N.Y. 1944' 
Interesting that 'kind and gentle' appears twice. He was born in Poland 1894, and died in Connecticut 1951, Surrounded by wars and unrest all his life, he kept painting.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fairy Tales and Folk Art

I'd like to do a whole theme of favorite fairy tales someday when there are no deadlines. Is that Neverland? Guess Frog Hollow's 'Grimm's Fairy Tales' show is still on my mind. (blog posts Sept. 8 and 15, 2012)
The new subject now for the Framers Market's Gallery show (November 2, '12) is 'Tweets.' Will it only be about birds?  Many ideas are flying, and I need one to land. In the meantime, I did this small painting that covers both:
'Fly By Night'   acrylic on canvas         ©robinrkent
The idea came from my memory of an Andersen's fairy tales illustration.
So convenient that my mother read while I stared at the illustrations. I looked forward to pages that displayed them.
I don't think being read to helped her goal of teaching me to read, but really helped my studio arts education.
The illustration style from those old children's books held me. They had a mystical yet ominous style I still love. Was life harder? Childhood short, and reality bleak. Maybe the candy colors of today are just illusions.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Marisol and I

Many moons ago I tagged along with a friend in the art world, and was able to show photos of my sculpture assemblage to a Gallery Director in New York City.
His comment was my work reminded him of Marisol.
Marisol Escobar's work
Marisol? I wasn't familiar with that artist. He suggested I look her up and when I did, I saw what he meant.
She immediately became my talisman. Having the same 'medium' and similar humor delights me. Since then, I've felt a connectedness to her, but at the same time, a need to declare I hadn't known her work beforehand. I had bushwacked my own way to this similar path, bumping along as I go.
Her world is multinational; multicontinental; multifamous.
Mine is small town.
But it did feel like a smaller world after finding her.

See her work by googling: Images for marisol escobar

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Drawing A Blank

Sometimes a pause is good for the soul. Not actively creating art can mean the hardest work on the next piece has begun. (Or so I tell myself.) The process starts before the paintbrush. First to find a goal and mentally discern the connection. A hook that resonates within. Then, how to proceed: assemblage/sculpture or painting?
'Dog on Rug' wood/acrylic wall assemblage  ©robinrkent
Like a dog picking up a scent, once found, it's a link you are drawn to follow. With no end in sight. Entertain that thought, or spin off onto something else. You'll know when you've arrived. That's what the wait was all about.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Folk Art Diary: Twist her nose

I painted 'Literary Companions' in a 'quasi-serious style' a few years ago. It's a precursor to my current folk art style. You have to start somewhere. So this piece became an historical touchstone in my art timeline.
'Literary Companions'  Acrylic on board     ©robin r kent
My current work tends to be freer. 'Go ahead and paint a twist in her nose,' I say.
It's one reason folk art feels authentic to me. Quirks or gestures may be augmented, but still identifiable. We have seen people with these traits. Or think we have.
A collector said I shouldn't disown my previous style: an artist can have many and still be recognizable. Nice thought. I hope the sentiments displayed in whatever style translate as well.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Folk Art Studio Tour...

...or The Shortest Commute I Know
I can paint just about anywhere. As long as I can concentrate to find my 'groove.' I've tested many areas around home and barn. Recently I've migrated to my bedroom. Figure I'll acclimate towards senior housing by setting up my easel here now. It's a north facing room with bed, bureaus, 2 windows, rocker, luxo lamps, desk, art books, paint. Some details:
A Folk Art Studio?  (It's messy, sorry Mom)     ©robinrkent
  • Kitty litter boxes, sans the litter. Thought the leftover piece of linoleum from the downstairs bath would spare my wood floor, but the double bucket approach (rinse jar inside the kitty litter bucket) was foolproof. I rinse the brush in the inside water jar, then wipe on a hanging towel in one unconscious swoop.  
  • The easel was a gift from Warren Kimble, our town's famous folk artist. 
  • Acrylic house paint in jelly jars are easier to carry. Medicine vials hold paint for on location touch ups (on floor, right of chair)
  • Sitting back or leaning forward in my rocker is automatic. 
Another nice spot to critique from is my pillow. It's about six feet away - the first thing I see in the morning is the work I did the night before. Really fresh eyes.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Before and After of Folk Art Tales

To paint on canvas or to assemble a wood sculpture was the dilemma with this next folk art project. (See previous post for the first chapter of this story.) Grimm's fairy tale 'Cinderella' was the assignment. Why hadn't other artists picked her for the Fairy Tales group show at Frog Hollow Craft Center?
'Before the Ball'  acrylic on canvas  ©robinrkent
I realized one reason, as I thought about how to portray her. She can be difficult in a perfect sort of way.
She's too cutesy. Too perfect with the birdies tying up her sash, a la Walt Disney. ...and maybe then, too shallow? What's interesting to paint about that?

Mustn't forget how she got there. That's where the grist lies. That's what made her the woman, er, fantasy she is today.
That's the part that's interesting. (Not that I'd want to take care of 2 vain women and an unloving father...) but a little exaggeration makes the modern day connection.

So this is Cindi, 'Before the Ball,' 2012 created using acrylic (still house paint, though) on canvas. Much less work than an assemblage: scrubbing wood, hammering, sanding...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fairy Tale Folk Art

I had an offer from Frog Hollow Gallery to create a piece from Grimm's fairy tales for an upcoming group show. I was so excited I said I'd like to create two pieces: maybe an assemblage for one and a painting for another!
"Red and Her Consort' acrylic on wood assemblage ©robinrkent
Fairy tales are a personal favorite, and I haven't done any 'literary work' in a long time. It was
'a very long time ago ...'
Illustrating simple stories takes thought. The artwork needs to live up to their exalted imaginary status.
Due to my meager photography skills, the four layers making up this wall assemblage aren't obvious. Grandma's house is far away, indeed. 
Now on to Cinderella: painted lady or stacked wood? The ending yet to be determined.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Outsiders in a folk art world

I'm a folk artist based in New England. Not many in the large folk art world are located here. Southern (or way southern as in Mexican, or Oaxacan) and African folk artists make up most of its citizens, I think. At least on the internet.
'Siesta Box' folk art box ©robin r kent
Folk art flourishes further north as well. Alaskan and Nova Scotian contemporary folk artists sure do rock it.
Maybe we're outsiders in the folk art world? Outsider folk art. We could claim that as in location, but we might be sterotyped as more reserved in style. Yes, this region might be a tad more stoic. Working with leftovers from nature's prim pantry. But we do embody the every man motif. Few embossed or polished edges here.

Siesta Box , left, acrylic on wood assemblage (about 2/3 life size; 2 boxes: hat crown lifts for small box, arms are the lid for the large box)
He left sitting pretty in a spiffy 2-seater convertible many years ago. I could tell he was made to see more of the world. They looked like a nice couple as they headed for points south. He never looked back.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

This 'Old' Folk In Contemporary Folk Art

This year being more than 'half course through its run,' I'm in a reminiscing mode. Or maybe this happens more as you age. A better file to rifle through?
'Old Woman on Bus' from my (early) sketchbook, 1975
I reflected on a comment shared by a show Director. He was told: 'they really liked my work' but were surprised to learn 'I wasn't a young artist.' They thought I was more 'hipper' than 'geezer.' Guess not.

Hints are offered when viewing artwork. And many opinions assumed by viewers. There are no wrong answers; make of it whatever your imagination wants. Until you float back into reality.

I love Matisse's cut outs. So bright, uncomplicated, childlike. He didn't start this technique until ill, 15 years before his death. Who'd know?

Maybe the soul comes through when creating art. It is a form of communication. Just depends on the receiver's interpretation -  and a timeless meeting of the minds?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Folk Art Assemblage: Step One

Just when I was wondering if I should take a welding course and mix it up a little, fate in the form of a benevolent fellow with a woodlot, steps in. It is not unusual for me to be given relics from local citizenry. They know I might be able to incorporate their gifts and I appreciate the offer, but its been years since I've had such a large donation.
Folk art assemblages waiting to be uncovered
And the picture doesn't show the rest of the piles. When people ask 'how's your garden?' I think 'I grow weeds and am starting a lumber yard.' My tomato plants are feeling the pinch. The weedwacker is getting used more than the mower. I think about where to stack this for overwintering. Should I hire somebody to help. So many sides to the process before the dainty part of assembling, painting, and displaying.
Guess fate answered any questions about changing mediums. Maybe hinting for me to go large scale? 'Go big or go home' comes to mind. But wait, I am home.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Crossing the Line

Not having a broad choice of television viewing options, I'm so glad the Summer Olympics are on. It brought out memories when as a child, I had abundant energy and felt I could do anything.
'Crossing the Line' wood wall assemblage, acrylic ©robinrkent
My favorite was Track and Field. Spoken by one who now thinks a fast walk is a sprint.
How many athletes had names that described what they do. Americans Trotter, Gait(lin), Miles. The amazing star in quickness and theater was Bolt from Jamaica. Another Muhammed Ali in the making. Such bravado. Wonder what if his name had been 'Pokey.'

I loved the rivalry between the long distance runners of Ethiopia and Kenya. Beautiful to watch their fluidity of form.

Maybe my newly acquired walking habit makes me a child in the universal athletic family, too. I'm not running, however I've learned to walk again.  But oh, to show such grace while doing it.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Poignant Side of Funny

Liking poetry for the chance to chew on words slowly, a blog I silently follow called 'The Rain In My Pursehttp://theraininmypurse.blogspot.com/ gives me a full course dinner.

'Pecking Order' acrylic on canvas board   ©robinrkent
What's so funny?
I chuckled at the poem she mentioned called 'What Narcissism Means to Me' by Tony Hoagland, published by Graywolf Press. Never aware of that phrase before - if it is one - (I don't get around much), I had to read it.

Comedy and Tragedy being so connected, I wonder why they aren't thought of as a unit more often. Like twins separated at birth, or sweet complementing spicy, or Woody Allen, the hidden poignant factor helps - in a strange way - find that funny side of life.

I think laughing, or even a fleeting grin, is a way we unconsciously give thanks for being part of the act.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Routine in Less is More

Routine is good for me. But it's hard to stay on task in the summer.
'Buddy' (garden sculpture) hanging out     ©robinrkent
Routine is not so good when used to describe how I paint. Autopilot in art is questionable, even as a result of years of practice.
When painting in a 'semi-serious' mode (usually identified by pinched brow and pursed lips and rarely discussed here), my future goal will be to edit more - making the abstract stronger. Volume, composition, and flatten spaces are important in everything I paint or assemble. I don't care much for line, perspective, or rigidity. (wood being the exception)
I painted 'Reading to the Dog' (above) a while ago when dabbling in a 'semi-serious' mode.
I now see things I'd like to change. Editing choices escaped me when gripping the brush.
It's a challenge to explore another style: different ways of seeing, different decisions. I'd like to visit this niche more. After summer. The art world is such a big place.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The summer of the chicken

This is the summer of the chicken. I mentioned working on this topic in early spring for our town's 'What's Hatching in Brandon?' event. Now I'm working on a chicken sculpture for the Framers Market gallery show opening next week. (I also made a farmer on a tractor to mix it up a bit.)  This summer is just flying by. PZGJTBEDD679
Chicken made from scratch  ©robinrkent

Chicken with makeup     ©robinrkent

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bastille Day and much more

This day is not only important to France and Francophiles, in my smaller world, it's my cousin's birthday also.
'Frenchy'         assemblage        ©robinrkent     

Many friends and relatives were born on similarly significant days. I wonder if others, like me, think such a high percentage unusual.

My birthday was just an ordinary day. But it still could become noteworthy.
Maybe in the future, it will mark the day we're able to view all the colors in the spectrum. Or fly under our own physical power. Or communicate telepathically.
Perhaps it will mark another occasion the whole world celebrates. (I already have a friend born January 1st).

Can you add an additional note to the day you were born? (Not that it isn't already special enough...)

Happy birthday, Jim.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Folk Art Diary: The Texture Behind The Paint

This is the third Folk Art Diary post on 'Robin's Elements of Art'

I like what texture does. It gives both a tactile and visual thrill. The tactile sense is a side benefit while creating the visual. Most classical painters enjoy the 'bouncy give' between brush and canvas. Feeling brush vibrations while scumbling (scrubbing for you folk art types) as I paint over rough cut planks is an additional sensation. Sometimes the process emits a sound if a really rough board (think jug band washboard effect). 
'Tumble Home'      Acrylic on Rough Wood          ©robin r kent
The visual effect on a layered surface is somewhat harder to  control. And a good thing it is. Especially when allowing an under-painted color to show through, blending and altering the top layer. Pretty amazing stuff, even for the painter. The  more you try this, of course, the more control over the outcome.
Pastel artists, when painting on sandpaper, use the tactile/texture theory in smaller scale (manicure multitasking?). Graffiti artists, I imagine, must love seeing a stucco building.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Folk Art Diary: A Focus

When viewing my own or any painting, my first response is always 'Where do I focus?' How is the composition organized? Did the artist's paint brush play traffic cop?
Not that all paintings have to have a focus. One thing I love about 'art' is it should be malleable enough to break all assumptions. Keeping it from being a science.
'Summer Shower' acrylic on barn boards ©robinrkent
Sometimes a painting's focus can be an only child: simple, quiet, and clean; or surrounded by a tribe of secondary and tertiary siblings: clamoring but supportive.
Most times I don't want to be confused on where to start. Searching where the strength lies. Where the initial wow factor emanates. Just show me. Life is tough enough.
Other times I need the search. Like a mystery novel, unwinding clues, finding the main thread, sitting back and seeing how it came together. The aha factor. I appreciate getting there.
The focus of this painting is obvious. It's simplistic and busy with lots of elements to look at. This is as detailed as I ever get. Maybe a little much, but some gardeners would approve: more is never enough.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Folk Art Diary: Reading My Art Through A Squinty Eye

There are a few points I try to accomplish when working on a painting or assemblage. When I've nailed them (figuratively speaking), I'm done. Here's the first in yet another series of how to read my art:
'Sainted Mother' assemblage w/shadowbox ©robinrkent
After I get a rough drawing in place, I analyze my light to dark palette. Not only for color, but for tones and shades as well. This is done using squinty eyes. There is something to be said for bad glasses (or eyesight). It takes out all the details (good riddance in my opinion) and leaves the foundation exposed.
Everyone should buy a pair of glasses with the wrong prescription if you're not lucky enough to have bad eyes of your own.
As much as I like bright colors, toned down versions are the best. I don't use a true 'red' in my palette. I like a rust-red better.  This might be due to my nod to folk art.
I try to keep my colors well rounded to include a balance so the image doesn't read all warm, or cool, or dark or light...
Stay tuned for part 2 next week. I'm on a 'Robin's Elements of (Art) Style' roll now, or to paraphrase a favorite musician, Leo Kottke, I'm going to take a lovely simple (painting technique) and drive it into the ground...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My House as Muse

I finished my acrylic fish painting to go with the two fish assemblages for my downstairs bath (May 5th post). But I'm not sure it works in this space. It might belong in a gallery, even though it is what I had envisioned. The room is just too small: 6 x 8' for such a relatively big painting: 22.5 x 26.5".
'Catching Fish'  Acrylic on Canvas   ©robinrkent

Here it is on the bathroom wall.

Maybe primping in a mirror a la Picasso's 'Girl Before A Mirror' might be a better subject...will give that a try.
I didn't know I'd come up with so many painting options for a bathroom wall.

I just moved my treadmill to a closet-sized nook: Marathon runners for that area might be good.

My next body of work could turn into: 'From Bath to Basement: Painting Inspirations From The Rooms of My House.'  We'll see.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Graphic Designer As Painter

As a young child I was mesmerized by my Mother's Stangl pottery. The living room's Caucasian rug would entertain me for hours. My eyes would follow the lines and angles under pared down compositions typical in folk art designs. I was a fan. I didn't know it would be a life calling.
Early design inspirations: Stangl & 40's textiles      ©robinrkent
In a former life, I was a graphic designer. That term covers much: Art Director for a lifestyle magazine, Paste-up Artist (rubber cement, anyone?), A Stripper in prepress, Advertising Layout Artist. The thread was the graphic part of graphic design.
It continues to influence me.  It was such an early hands on education. I hope my artwork reflects that charisma today.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Early Summer Morning Mantra

I hear the robins chirping their 2 syllable tune over and over again in the early morning when all is still and there is no traffic. Their tune echos over all the other chirps. There is an underwater resonance about it that lingers in the air. This is the cats favorite time. They sit like sculptures concentrating on every note. I love the hour before daybreak. Just to sit and listen.
  'On the Lake'  acrylic on wood wall relief     ©robinrkent

More people are here Memorial Day weekend, ready to start their summer lives. The farmers market has begun, the art project (post 4/7) had its opening, music and other venues are ready.
The quiet won't last long. In half an hour things will completely change. And summer's heat will soon be sliding in.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Favorite Artists, part one

From previous generations or present day colleagues, there are artists that resonate with me. Finally got to a point where I can look at work and know immediately if it's for me or not. As much as I love my category (contemporary folk, outsider, naive or brut art), not all are my cup of tea. But the art I like in whatever category ( abstract, representational; painters, sculptors, assemblage artists, etc.) I love!  I see a common thread. Even if the medium and eras are different.
Milton Avery, 'Conversation'  (courtesy bjws blog)
I wake up daily to my print of 'Conversation' (1956) by Milton Avery. What a great way to greet the day. Never tire of looking at it. I like the simple edited form, large feeling of volume, subtle colorful colors (the color is off on this image).
I feel I can mentally paint along side him when I look at his work. Here's the best site I've found so far on him:
I'll add more of my favorites in future posts. Who do you love?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Shad bush and shad fish

I see the shad bushes blooming here in Vermont: lacy white flowers stand out on distant hills as I travel along the road. I know then the shad are also running on Cape Cod, where I used to live. It's as if the Vermont trees have a direct line to the Cape fish: keeping me informed of what's going on in my old neighborhood, reminding me the time to witness the fish run is now.
Bathroom Trophy Fish (for over the mirror)     ©robinrkent

I've smelled the briny air and heard the herring as they flip up the river to spawn in Harwich's Grist Mill pool. They sounded like a marble rolling through a pipe when clearing the step against the flow.
Now I'm fishing for art to hang in my small turquoise bathroom (previous post). Hopefully no fish will be jumping up any steps here. That would be quite a surprise, I'd imagine.
(I'll post the painting I'm working on for the space of honor - over the throne - when completed.)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How To Show Volume Using Just One Board

There are random lessons learned daily that can be applied in your art. Case in point: I just finished painting the bathroom and needed to add a shelf. (I want to free up some wall space for a water-themed painting, to come.)
This is a very old crooked house. But that fits perfectly, I thought, since I don't cut straight lines either. My technique is to eyeball it. If it looks right, it is right. I've heard there are people who must measure everything for precise placement.
'The downstairs bath with fish'   (shelf top left.)
Not me. So I chose a board from the barn, cut it, painted it, and placed it over my stacked washer/dryer.
The board was warped as well. Not only was it uneven in the space left to right and front to back: it undulates too. So much visual movement in a small space. 
But the surface lays flat enough, and that's most important. It holds the all the laundry accoutrements fine.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April Is Poetry Month

A little late, but better to mention than let it go unsaid. I know I'm busy when I don't have time to wollow in the pages of poetry.
'Same Story, Different Ending'  Mixed media on wood                 ©robinrkent

So many of my favorites are better than any painting - descriptions present a better picture than I ever could. What a gift to have such a mastery of words. What a choice of colors.
Like a favorite painting, they bring a validating connection to the reader: 'So, others have seen/felt that, too.' Like having a lingering hug from a favorite person, albeit one that's been gone for years.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Coffee Mug As Artist Tool

One necessary tool when painting or creating assemblages is my Montreal coffee mug. I have other mugs, but this one is my favorite.
Favorite scenic painting spot?
Although Montreal is just a magical train ride away, (aren't they all?), I haven't been back since childhood. So I pour my first cup of espresso, grab my bags and board the mysterious 'Montrealer' for a joy ride. I travel to unseen places - with great scenic vistas - while I paint. 'Express' time travel is a wonderful thing. Bet we hold the same boarding pass whatever grounds we choose.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

How Do They Do That?

One of my favorite musicians was Ali Farka Toure. His music, Mali music, sounds so sweet.
I remember asking my cousin, a jazz guitarist, how can it be so easy to recognize certain musicians when all play the same instruments, with the same strings, using the same notes? Even the same songs? How do they add their voice into a neutral setting to sound so recognizable?
'Outbuildings of Lightning Rod Farm' ©robin r kent

I have heard artist friends refer to certain colors as 'Robin colors.' I'm not sure about that, but I do know when a color fits my painting while another does not. (You could x-ray the layers of rejected colors under my work as proof.)

It occurred to me that artists, like musicians, can do the same thing: make art using their own 'voice'. Maybe that's what all artists try for most: to add their own personality to their own song; to be heard.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Nobody Here But Us Chickens

The start (with color changes to come)

Painting chickens as sidewalk art for 'What's Hatching in Brandon'. Such is the assignment for Brandon Artists Guild's www.brandonartistsguild.org summer project. Our Guild has created various summer-long themes for over 10 years now. Always fun to tackle a new subject for the curbside viewing public.
Large attention-getting pieces will be seen in front of shops starting from Memorial Day to Columbus Day weekend, and we'll strut our stuff in the July 4th parade. (pictures to follow?)
And I'm not alone in making these oversized (4'x5') interactive plaques. I think there will be 10 or so done for placement around town - the most ever yet.
Add your face here!   ©robinrkent

I'm not very good at planning ahead of time, but I tried to document the process as I went along.

Here are some snaps I took as I tried to create can-can dancing french hens on ply with housepaint. (Tentatively to be placed in front of the Gourmet Provence shop. cafeprovencevt.com/)

The black hole in the center chicken will be cut out for any dancer/chicken wannabees to add their face to the art. What a photo op!
Finale!   OOOO la la!    ©robinrkent

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Papers Everywhere

'The Happy Couple'
Acrylic on wood wall assemblage
I constantly am organizing, filing or recycling paper. In many forms-magazines, junk mail, notes. I look at the shredder and think what a great artistic tool. Maybe when things slow down and I stop decluttering the house. 
Does paper reproduce overnight while I sleep?  
photos from the barn attic
I am not a collector. I could live spare and sparse. Not so with Jim. And I do appreciate his ‘eye’. Ephemera is near and dear to his heart. Love the old photos he found upstairs in the barn. Wonder who they were? They, like good art, beckon, giving off an energy of their own. Wonder if they ever thought in their wildest dreams they might be the subjects for original art? 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Crazy Robins

'Crazy robin' photoshop doodle
©robin r kent
Turning the corner from winter to spring: the ground smells sweet, the sun's angle is friendlier, and flocks of birds are returning. We have come full circle. Tomorrow (St. Patty's Day) is my one year anniversary for this blog. I'd do something special like change the format, but no time for that yet.
I drove through a flock of robins this past week and didn't know how we avoided each other. Maybe a professional courtesy since we share the same name. Some stay all winter. But all are hungry and feasting on the last of the existing berries. The berries froze and thawed and refroze through the winter so now they've fermented. And many robins, having one too many, are flying under the influence. Crazy robins.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Never Say Never

'When Pigs Fly' assemblage sculpture
acrylic on barnboard
©robin r kent
There I was. I caught myself watching the 'Happy Brush' public tv show. I realized what I was doing about 3 minutes into it.

And 3 minutes is a very long time.

Just goes to show what repels might seem interesting years later. Does age makes us more forgiving? And art, no matter what style, is a tie that binds?

I stayed with it through the color listings.
He also was working from black gesso to light, which many artists tend to do nowadays. I followed until he got to the point of using titanium white on his go-to 2 inch house brush adding highlights.

That was enough of that for me.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hidden Potential Uncovered

'2009 Supremes: Ruth and Sonia Give Their Opinion'
©robin r kent
Sometimes new subjects morph into the unexpected while I'm still at work (and in the dark) on the initial idea.
Sometimes when I've posted flippant observations on my blog, they are answered by wiser points in the comment section. (I wonder how many 'aha' moments I have missed by not reading comments in blogs I follow?) There's only so much time, but will try to be more observant when there.
Like painting or other creative endeavors, those layers make a subject beckon. Pieces with surprise twists and turns wind up much richer than the initial concept. (This piece started as 2 men talking on a park bench... and anyone has the potential to be president in my world, also.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Folk Art Diary: Coffee, Tea, or Espresso?

'Crossing the Line'
Acrylic, wood, wire wall assemblage
©robin r kent
My drink of choice changes depending on my mood, my goals, and my health.
Recently it's been tea all the way. It's great when you have a cold. No sharp edges. Lulls you to sleep and reminds you of the gentler things in life. Isn't it funny how your mind thinks when feeling sick? Things you wouldn't give a thought to become stuck as ruminations and won't leave. Like another germ. Time takes on a different proportion. Tea helps remind you of better days to come.
Coffee is my social drink. Talks with my mother in the morning over coffee is a family tradition. In the 1948 movie, 'I Remember Mama,' they were constantly making or offering coffee. It's good for meetings, office time, open houses. It's a bonding drink. Warm, and nice to be with, like a supportive friend. And forgiving like one also. Now where did I leave that cup? It travels well and keeps me focused while driving. Glad coffee doesn't have ears. It never criticizes my singing flat when I join in with the car radio, for stimuli at the end of a trip.
That's where expresso comes in. I'm a morning person. It puts the giddy up in me. I can think ahead and also sideways while working on an art piece. Pondering the potential options of using this stick or that, this color here or there, to define an assemblage or painting. I can picture my eyes turning into caffinated rotating spirals.
I like them all. They console and fill me up without being heavy (love that part-I can drink espresso without sugar!) while I take care other things. What a support system.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Sailor's Dream

'A Sailor's Dream' acrylic wall assemblage
courtesy Frog Hollow Gallery/7Days newspaper
I spent each summer 'cruising Maine' with friends many years ago. How would I know that as a staunch land lubber, I would look back so fondly on those days?
I think it comes from 'the stretch.' By that, I mean putting yourself in a situation that you might not have dreamed of, working hard on the coping mechanisms, learning a bit more than you knew before, and leaving a little richer for the experience.
'The Stretch' can be applied to any topic of your choosing. Art is always a good subject to start with. Some of the hardest lessons become the most cherished.