Thursday, September 27, 2007

Looking Up

Looking Up
colored pencil and Neocolors on pastel board
6 x 12 inches
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

It's the end of my month for studying the art of John Constable. So, what have I come away with? I learned that place mattered very much to Constable. The subjects that he chose to paint were landscapes familiar and full of meaning to him. Weather was also important in his landscapes, the feel of the sunlight, the stiffness of the breeze, the foreboding clouds, were all a part of his work's content as much as the fields, farms and trees. This is where I find an affinity to the landscapes of John Constable. Place has always factored largely in my work with the associations I have for a particular location. From reading The Power of Place by Winifred Gallagher I discovered my sensitivity to certain places is more real than imagined. Where we are, and everything about that environment including color, light, and temperature, matters a great deal to who we are inside.

The image above is one such place, looking up Thunder Hill, which is along the Blue Ridge Parkway. One of my favorite spots along the Parkway, and one of the few where you can view the mountains falling away on either side. Hiking to the top of Thunder Hill gives you this view, almost like being in an airplane or perched on top of the world and everything else, as far as you can see, is below.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Autumn Equinox

Yesterday was the Autumn Equinox, a turning point in the year. Can you feel it? Although our days here are still warm the nights are now crisp, the geese fly noisily overhead and touches of red and yellow brush the trees. A time of turning inward.

No picture of mine to share, but these two sites are very cool,
Earth As Art
Earth Calendar

Happy Autumn!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Where Am I Now?

Evening Clouds
5 x 7 inches
colored pencil on pastel board
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

I just spent a few moments going through all the colored pencil pieces I have done since I began seriously working on my art again, sometime around last March. This is one of the earlier pieces I completed and fits in nicely with my current cloud studies. I have also been thinking about where I want to take this renewed interest in creating art and formulating some more concrete plans for this journey.

There are times, well, most of the time actually, when the demands of each day are more than enough to keep my attention focused on anything but making art. There's homeschooling, a full time job in itself, and the house to keep up with, meal planning and cooking, driving kiddo to various classes, and all the other stuff that fills up time. And I think who am I kidding thinking I can actually get somewhere with this art? And at this point in my life?
It has been quite a long time since making art was a fundamental part of my life and it isn't easy trying to start over this late in the game.

But then again, where will I be in a year, five years, if I don't? Probably much the same as now but without knowing what might have happened if I had given this art business a go. Please don't misunderstand. I love spending time with kiddo and teaching her at home, wouldn't miss it for the world. And I actually do enjoy domestic life. I only weigh the possibilities concerning living as an artist, making creativity part of what I do, versus leaving art out because it only adds more work to an already busy and full life. But, because for now I feel a need to continue working on my art you will be seeing me here for a while. I may not be posting as often as I like but rest assured that something is probably cooking (either on the stove or on the drawing board) and I will update as often as possible. Whew!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Small Towns

Cloud Study II
3.5 x 5 inches
colored pencil on paper
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

What I don't like about living in a small town:
~ limited arts opportunities such as galleries, museums,
concerts, - unless you love bluegrass music and nothing but bluegrass music
~ limited educational opportunities such as no science or natural history museums, zoo, and arts mentioned above
~ our small town is quite far from any metropolitan area offering these experiences and when they are brought here they are very expensive to attend
~ limited shopping, not that I like to shop but a Target store would be nice
~ no public transportation in or out of this small town

What I like about living in a small town:
~ easy to get around, not too many places to go and if you can't find it here you probably don't really need it anyway
~ everywhere you go there is probably at least one person who knows you
~ gardening is a competitive sport
~ people will stop and help when you need assistance

This past Monday I was in such a predicament. As we were leaving one of kiddos dance classes I soon discovered I had a flat tire. I had no sooner pulled into a parking lot when a couple of guys from a business next to the dance studio pulled in behind me. They had seen me leaving with the flat tire and when they couldn't get my attention to stop they followed figuring I might need help. Before I knew what was happening they were already at work changing my tire. Which was a really good thing because changing flat tires has never been on my list of things to know how to do. As I thanked them one said that if it was his wife he'd like to think someone would stop to help her. How nice. So what's you're favorite blue grass music?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What Do Bears Eat?

Is it Wednesday already!! I am really off schedule this week. Hopefully things will settle down into a regular routine soon. In the meantime, I have a yummy muffin recipe to share. My daughter made these muffins this past weekend and I quickly got a photograph before they disappeared. This was her first attempt at solo baking. Well, I did coach her a little, she is only 8, and she used a recipe I made up several years ago and always turns out well. And there is an "art" to cooking!

Kiddo was inspired to do some cooking because nutrition is part of her studies in science at the moment. She got the idea to relate her culinary experiments to the theme of her movie of choice for our movie night. When she finishes a row on her reading log she gets rewarded by choosing a movie to rent. Last weekend it was Brother Bear 2. So what do bears eat? Blueberries, of course.

Blueberry Citrus Muffins - makes 12

With whisk mix:
1 egg
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup melted butter (cooled)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

With spoon stir in:
2 cups flour
1 cup blueberries
*do not over mix*

Bake in greased or paper lined muffin pan at 400F for 25 minutes

I was really proud of her not only for coming up with a great idea but also for her enthusiasm for baking. Because of her food allergy, learning to cook and bake for herself will go a long way to empower her all her life, more than just being self sufficient. She already knows more about nutrition and reading food labels than most kids her age should know. She knows that the complete information isn't always on the label and that sometimes you have to call the company to find out exactly what is or isn't in a product. She knows that peanut is overly prevalent in the food industry - even to the point of being in some kinds of orange juice - so that you can't take anything for granted. And she is very aware of issues with cross-contamination in manufacturing processes.

The hardest part for her is when she is singled out because of her food allergy. Everyone gets the same treat at the party except her, she gets the special "safe" treat. If you know of a child with a food allergy please keep this in mind. The parents are not exaggerating and they are always correct in their requests and should be respected. Class or party treats should be the same and safe for everyone. These kids with food allergies know what they face in the world of processed food, restaurants and baked goods and really don't need any more "this is real life" lessons. How would you want your child treated? Okay. Done with my rant now. Please enjoy the muffins while I get back to making art now.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Cloud Study

Cloud Study
3.5 x 5 inches
colored pencil on paper
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

It wouldn't be a review of the art of John Constable without doing a few studies of clouds. So often I see just beautiful skies, usually when I am without my camera! On a few occasions, however, I have managed to capture some lovely cloud formations.

Because I started this post earlier this afternoon and it took me an insane amount of time to figure out just how to post items for sale on Ebay, and it is now after my bedtime, I will wait for another day to discuss more about my artist study of John Constable and my progress with colored pencil drawing. (Yes, we covered conjunctions last week in our homeschool!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Pear Study

Pear Study
colored pencil over watercolor pencil wash
7 x 5 inches on Arches HP
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

So, what does a drawing of a pear have to do with the landscape paintings of John Constable? Well, not much and a whole lot. This drawing of a pear (from a photo called "Yellow Pear" by naamer, courtesy of the reference library), was an experiment with a technique I had not previously attempted. In this drawing I first used an underpainting of watercolor pencils washed with water, then drew on top with dry colored pencils. My aim was to find out if when a watercolor wash is applied first would that enhance the sense of light and shadow in a colored pencil drawing. It was an interesting experiment and I do think this process could lend a richness to the quality of light in a landscape drawing.

". . .the more a society lives at odds with what is happening in nature, the more cases of SAD it will have." - Winifred Gallagher, The Power of Place

Something to think about. Do you follow your own time schedule or the rhythms of nature's cycles of light and dark?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Common Nature

View from Moses Cone Manor Looking East

colored pencil on Stonehenge
9 x 7 inches
copyright 2007 by Ann Thompson Nemcosky

This is the first of my landscapes for the month of September worked with the art of John Constable in mind. In 18th century academic circles it was believed that landscape paintings should be idealized depictions of nature, perhaps including classical or Biblical figures. "Common" nature did not form the subject of great art. But John Constable wanted to paint "common" nature as he thought it had higher elements in faithful representation. He had a real love for the landscape, it's weather, and the associations he had for certain places. I was attracted to this view because of the sweeping curve of the lane and also because of the quality of light on the hillside. It was one of those days when the clouds were casting shadows on the mountains and the sunlight moved in and out as the clouds passed by overhead. I was hoping to capture that movement of light in this drawing.

As much as I would love to include an image or two of Constable's work in this post, I haven't yet figured out a way to do that here legally. So for now, I will direct you to the CGFA Artists Indexes where you can browse
many images of paintings by John Constable.

Are there places that hold meaning to you? Does the quality of the landscape play a part in it's significance? Or even the light of certain times of day, during a particular kind of weather? I'd love to hear your thoughts on landscape and the importance of place. Anyone care to join me in studying the art of John Constable this month?


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