Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Lake Series

In a continued effort to make paintings at the lake this summer, I made this pen and watercolor painting, while sitting on the beach at Montrose Harbor two weeks ago.  It was a delight to sit among sun bathers, adjacent to a kayak launch point and make this painting.  I really appreciated the opportunity that my current schedule allows for me to while away a weekday evening at the lake. 
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Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Lake Series

After many months of painting Western Avenue, with its broad swaths of asphalt, concrete sidewalks, and sturdy brick buildings I find myself wanting nothing more than to paint the ever-changing, fluidity of Lake Michigan, and the beaches and trees which line the lake in Chicago.  Specifically, I want to make quick loose sketch paintings.  
In the Western Avenue series I toiled for many, many hours in my studio over precise paintings, it's a mode of painting with which I am very comfortable.  My training as an architect attracts me to precision and discipline in painting.  As with most things, I feel gratitude for the skill set I have, but am also drawn to expand the ways in which I paint, to challenge myself to paint in ways which are outside my comfort zone.  So, I'm going to dedicate myself to making a series of loose paintings this summer, sitting by the lake, painting with broad strokes, and channeling Winslow Homer and John Marin, two of my painting heros and both extraordinary painters of water.

This is the first of these paintings.  It was made it on a brisk June night while sitting on a pier at North Avenue beach.  In addition to creating a challenge for myself, these quick paintings offer the opportunity to sell paintings affordably, as part of my desire to make art accessible to a wider audience.  All of the paintings in this series will be sold for $50 or less.  Visit my Etsy shop to see all of the paintings currently available. 
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Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Projects

In my work as a studio facilitator at Archeworks this year, our partner was Growing Power, a large urban farm that began in Milwaukee and has since developed a large presence in Chicago.  Growing Power's mission is to support people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities.  Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.
My new garden bed
They are truly an extraordinary organization and partner.  They set ambitious goals and it is apparent from their fully realized farm in Milwaukee that they are able to deliver pragmatic, easily replicable solutions to the challenges of urban farming.  We will be partnered with Growing Power again next year and are honored to be presenting at (as well as participating in) the National Growing Power Conference this fall.

In considering the coming year the other studio facilitator and I have been preparing readings and considering the most critical contextual information to provide to the incoming students.  As a result I've found myself reading about agriculture and its modern state. In one Essay entitled "The Whole Horse" by Wendall Berry, he writes, "We currently live in the economy of culture of the 'one-night stand.'  Industrialism has provided us innumerable commodities, amusements, and distractions, but these offer us little satisfaction.  Instead we suffer ever-increasing alienation form our families, our communities, and the natural world.  There is another way to live and think: it's called agrarianism.  It is not so much a philosophy as a practice, and attitude, a loyalty; and a passion--all based in a close connection with the land.  It results in a sound local economy in which producers and consumers are neighbors and in which nature herself becomes the standard for work and production."  

I find myself with a strong desire to take those words to heart this summer, in small ways I hope to live with a closer connection to the land.  With that in mind I spent most of memorial day weekend preparing my small (2'x24') plot for a garden.  I'm hoping to make a much more intentional effort at purchasing produce, dairy, and other goods from the farmer's markets and other local sources in the coming months, considering in an intentional way the implications of my purchases.  I'll write more about my efforts at meaningful connection to community and natural world through the summer.
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