Now that I'm commuting to downtown Philly most days, expect to see some more Philadelphia scenes. My new digs are at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (the oldest art school in the U.S.) as I toil away for two years toward a Masters degree in Fine Arts.
Today, I biked 13 miles from my house to the school. I'm glad I had my mini pallette of paints (in an Altoids tin) with me because, of course, I stopped to paint a few times.
Here is one of my sketches. On this 90 degree day, Swann Fountain at Logan Circle was a popular wading spot. Despite the fact that going into the fountain is not allowed. Thankfully, on a day like today, that rule is not enforced.
I decided to focus on the fish that I never noticed before in the sculpture. This figure with it is a Lenape who represents the Delaware River. The other two Native American figures not pictured have swans with them... pun intended by Alexander Stirling Calder, father of the more famous modern artist Alexander Calder... and they represent the Schuylkill River and Wissahickon Creek. The fountain is a memorial to Dr. Swann, who as founder of the Philadelphia Fountain Society made sure that horses, dogs and pedestrians had many places around the city to hydrate in the late 19th century.
Thank you, Dr. Swann!
At the reception for the Artist in Residence Exhibition last Sunday, the most common question viewers asked me was "What is a nocturne?" (This was second only to, "What do you mean by Ghost Chickens?" See my post from 12/7/17 for the answer to that one.)
Simply stated, nocturne paintings capture something about the twilight or night time. It was already known as a musical term when James Abbott McNeill Whistler first used it in the titles for several paintings in the 1870s. Nocturnes aren't that common and I have 5 of them in the show right now at the Cheltenham Art Center. I suppose that might strike some as strange.
What caught my eye during an evening pass of the Wall House in my car, is the window lights. They almost make this old house seem inhabited in the gloaming.
This was the last painting I completed for this year-long residency at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts. Personally, it marks the end of a body of work where I worked hard to keep focused, and now I look forward to a little experimentation and outdoor adventure. Watch out for the plein air cyclist!
This tree is the same American Elm featured in my last post, except at night. Which brings me to the theme that emerged in my work for this artist residency... night and day.
There is something I find very pleasing in the way that the dark layers of paint allow the lights to shine.
I find it hard to believe that the end of my residency at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts is upon me. The studio, the community, the commute along the creek... pretty soon will not be a part of my daily routine. I am so grateful for the support I have received in building this body of work!
All of the paintings feature aspects of my hometown, both during the day and at night. I hope you will have a chance to see the exhibition between May 20 and June 12. The reception is on Sunday, May 20th from 2pm - 4pm.
Since I've been indoors painting this winter, I've been inspired by the physical place where I have a studio residency. The tall ceilings, the large windows, the open space and all of the early 20th century details of the old schoolhouse are great, but even better is getting to know the artists who have been coming here for years, sometimes decades.
So last week I spent a little time with Colleen Hammond's Thursday open studio painting class, a very welcoming group of artists who work hard and support each other. Everyone there has an intriguing story.
I much prefer to work from life because sitting with my subject has great meaning to me. The experience evokes a deeper emotional reaction in me. I aim to capture the feeling of the light as well as the energy of the place.
I am grateful to my hosts at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts. It's been around quite awhile...may it continue to be a sanctuary for art making for a long time to come!
It worked! Giving myself more time between posts helped me to work larger.. This image is a detail of a full-sheet, 30 by 22 inch painting that is nearly finished. Working larger certainly brings technical challenges, but I am excited about how the larger paintings will present themselves to in-person viewers at the Residency Exhibition in May.
My studio, a space allowed to me this year through the painting residency, is currently in a corner of the second floor of the George K. Heller School, commonly known as the Cheltenham Center for the Arts on Ashbourne Road. While this section of the building with its tall ceilings and massive windows was "recently" added in 1906, the original school on this site, named the Milltown School, opened its doors as the very first public school in Montgomery County in 1795. In 1883, the original one-story George K. Heller School was built to replace the Milltown School. It was expanded in 1893 and in 1906 to create the building that became the Cheltenham Art Center in 1953.
I have to say, it's pretty cool working in a space that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places!
So, High School Park got a new sign. Now rather than just being inside the heads of those who know, anyone from anywhere who drives by Montgomery and High School Road can know that this is, in fact, a park. It's so simple yet so profound!
It's a new year and I find this always to be a rich opportunity for goal setting. As I develop my watercolor painting practice, my next step up is to work larger. I have dearly enjoyed painting a (usually) 5 x 7 inch work each week for two years (plus some), but I feel a need to change the pattern. Gasp!
In 2018, as I paint larger, I'll post every other week.
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania is my home and my muse right now. Here is a view at twilight with the party lights of White Pines in the foreground.
This painting is a small study as I prepare for a series of larger paintings for my residency project. It'll be for sale this Sunday at the Cheltenham Art Center from 11am - 4 pm. Feel free to come by and say hello!
Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis, the publishing magnate who created the Saturday Evening Post and the Ladies Home Journal among others, once entertained in this ballroom. It's a lovely space, ornate and bright with all of its windows. The grounds are vast and filled with wonderful trees.
As I explore the sites of Cheltenham this one in particular has personal significance to me. In high school, I would walk to Curtis Arboretum to get out into nature. And, following that affection for the place, when I got married, we chose Curtis Hall for our wedding reception. On a most perfect July day we had this place to ourselves. It was amazing.
Literary intrigue, check. Historical insight, check. Local geological feature, check. This week's local discovery again took me to uncharted territory slipped in the cracks between the paths I've worn well my whole life.
Juliana's Cave, a well known location to children of Cheltenham Township's past, I hear is visible when the foliage has fallen if you take a chance to slow down while driving on Chelten Hills Drive near Church Road. It is located on the other side of the rail road along Tookany Creek. However, in the days before the rail road tracks were laid, local lore has it that a young girl who lived with the Shoemaker family at the Wall House would frequently wander off to read in this cave. Her name was Juliana. She must have enjoyed this well sheltered spot that didn't seem so lonely with the soft sounds of the creek nearby.
Local historian, Tom Wieckowski, told me about the cave during a tour my husband and I took of the Wall House this week. Thanks, Tom!
As an 8 year old, I remember entering the grounds. Behind a high stone wall along a road without a sidewalk, it seemed like we would need special permission to enter.
Inside, I was a young art student. Carving linoleum, I made a print of an owl. I remember the balconies within a large room of the stone mansion. I remember waiting in the rain for my mother to pick me up and listening to "Stepping Out" by Joe Jackson.
Some things come full circle. Now I teach drawing classes in that same mansion, Alverthorpe Manor. I've been promoted from student to teacher at the Abington Art Center housed there.
After teaching my morning class last week, I made this drawing of a side of the building I don't always visit, feeling grateful that Lessing and Edith Rosenwald gave their estate to the township for local cultural and recreational use.