Sunday, August 28, 2016

Feeling The Rapture

I have been an artist for thirty years now. It has been my work, and I have not had to take other jobs to support myself. Thousands of my paintings are in homes across the land. Even now, I think of this and almost have to pinch myself to see if I am not dreaming. 
Steven, painting a still-life

When I paint and show the work, I am sharing what I love, and the product. Lately, I have been giving lessons in painting. While teaching, I am sharing what I love and my knowledge of the practice.

Whether painting or teaching, I say a prayer beforehand for the highest outcome. 

Today I taught. We gathered at the beautiful estate of one of the students and finished work from a previous session, making a still-life painting of a vase with sunflowers on a table with fruit. We worked outside on a covered patio. During earlier classes we made landscape paintings using only a palette knife to apply the oil colors to a panel. This time, I wanted to teach something different. We first drew a sketch and made an underpainting of our subject, then this week we finished by applying color—all with brushes.
All of us, being creative.

Only one student has had instruction before my class. All of us are over sixty years old and so I am heartened that my students are willing to learn and try something new and difficult. Everyone made beautiful work and felt a thrill in doing so. Each person's painting revealed their uniqueness and special way of seeing and experiencing the world.
Working in sync.

After class, someone shared a quote that he had recently read: “People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” - Joseph Campbell (American, March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987)

Part of feeling the rapture is being in the activity of pure creation while in the world of nature.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Heartbeat

I am very close to the heart of my city, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Now that I have a gallery again, I am in the center of town—on the plaza. (See Boone Gallery). I feel the heartbeat and watch the ebb and flow of humanity as tourists enjoy their sojourn here. 
Boone Gallery, party during Indian Market.

Santa Fe is often in magazines and newspapers across the country. It is an attractive city with great hotels, restaurants, music, opera and of course, art.
Boone, painting in front of the gallery

Summer is when major events occur. The biggest splash is made by Indian Market. It began this weekend and is just now concluding. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia: “Santa Fe Indian Market is an annual art market held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA over two days on the weekend after the third Thursday in August and draws an estimated 100,000 people to the city from around the world. The Market was first held in 1922 as the Indian Fair and was sponsored by the Museum of New Mexico. In 1936, the New Mexico Association on Indian Affairs took over the event.
It is now organized by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) and showcases work from about 1,200 of the top Native American (American Indian) artists from various tribes across the country. The market features pottery, jewelery, textile weavings, painting, sculpture, beadwork, basketry, and other traditional and contemporary work. It is the oldest and largest juried Native American art showcase in the world. The economic impact of the Market has been calculated at more than $19 million.
Artists display their work in booths around the Santa Fe Plaza and adjacent streets, selling directly to the general public.In order to participate, all artists must provide proof of enrollment in a federally recognized tribe, and their work must meet strict quality and authentic materials standards. Art experts judge the work and distribute awards and prize money in various categories. On the evening before the Market's opening, members of SWAIA may attend a preview of representative works by the artists as well as the winners in each category. It is a way for potential buyers to see the winning artworks as well as what will be sold the following day. Many buyers make a point of arriving downtown very early in the morning, and it is not unusual to find artists having sold out within a few hours.”
Three Native Americans. Pictures taken during Indian Market.

Indian market can be a mixed blessing for many businesses. Despite the crowds most of the sales are going to Indian vendors. This year I have been blessed by people buying my art too.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Be Surprised

A Tale of Love, Mixed Media, 34 x 24 x 4 inches

I like to be surprised by my creations. That is, to be so involved while creating, I “disappear” in the work.  When I re-emerge to take a look, I might be amazed.

I can be astonished by other peoples reactions as well. This happened recently. I have a new art gallery in a mall off the main plaza in Santa Fe. It has big windows so pedestrians can see inside and view the art hanging directly in front of them. When I first opened, I hung my new work of mixed-media pieces in front of the windows. I hoped that they would make an impression. Later, friends came by and suggested I put my better known landscape paintings in the windows. I obliged. 

After I made the change, a fellow came in and introduced himself as a partner in a business down the hall. “I am glad you made the change,” he said. “There was a piece in the window that was creepy. Where is it?” Then he walked to the backside of the panels and said, “Here it is! Ugh This really creeps me out!” His skin crawled as he pointed to the dolls. I had to laugh, because it never was “creepy” to me.  (I am laughing to myself now, as I write, just recalling this.) 
The next day a woman came in and went right to the same piece and spent considerable time studying and admiring it. 

So why the different reactions?

I claim a piece a success in as much as it gets strong reactions. Weak or badly done art does not warrant reactions worth talking about.

Four Hangups, oil on linen, 28 x 30 inches,
Some years ago I made a series of paintings called HangUps. They always elicited responses—some highly positive and some negative, but always a reaction. One of those paintings is now in a museum in France. 

VanGogh All Hung Up, oil on linen, 22 x 24 inches,
In the collection of Foundation Van Gogh, Arles, France

And that is art.
Diana's Song, Oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches

For more on the mixed-media pieces, see my previous post: Walk A New Path

Sunday, August 07, 2016

A Gorgeous Summer Evening

Couple, admiring the sunset.
I am a sunset aficionado. I have painted them often and taken scores of photographs. They are fleeting and when the conditions are right, it is nature at its most dramatic. I can sense a good sunset before it happens. 

Tonight as I made dinner a thunderstorm struck and I thought if there was light on the horizon later, a good sunset would occur.

It was cloudy and stormy with scattered rain drops as I got in my car and drove to my friend's house. She had surgery on her foot recently and hobbles around the confines of her small home. After awhile, as we were relaxing, she pointed outside and said, “Oh, look at the sky!” The clouds blanketed the top but near the horizon a fiery golden glow emitted. We checked the time and realized we had about twenty minutes. She grabbed her crutches and put the protective boot on her foot and away we went. I drove to a little park at a location in town that looks out over the city. A small crowd had already gathered to mingle and watch. 

My excitement was palpable as I grabbed my camera. She said it was okay for me to run ahead to a good vantage point. The sun was sinking below the horizon as a brilliant glow stretched across the lower part of the sky. Dark clouds accented the space above.

Santa Fe sunset
As I regrouped with my friend, she spoke to a stranger nearby and said, “It is so good to live here and have this!” The other person grinned and said, “Yes, and you even came out on crutches to see.”

And that is what a gorgeous summer evening and the promise of a great show of light does.

"Heartfire", 48 x 36 inches, oil on linen by Steven Boone