Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Modern-day PIRATES

This is a painting claimed by Hugo Diaz Mapi. He's a Spanish artist (and I'll use that lightly) who claims to be a digital painter by use of Photoshop. Oddly it bears quite a resemblance to

Don Hatfield's Looking for Treasures...

This is an original Hugo Diaz Mapi. Or is it?

Here is Don Hatfield's Brothers. Does moving a few pieces around and clicking a few filters on Photoshop constitute the rights to call something your own? Notice the boy in blue overalls on the left.

Whoops... here he is again in another Hugo Diaz Mapi!

With this lady of Don's

and this beach!

Son of a beach! What is this world coming too? Are some so jealous of other's ability to create that all they can do is copy, steal and pirate?

Beware of Hugo Diaz Mapi folks!

He contacted me with compliments on my impressionist art. He mentioned Don's name and asked if I knew of any other American impressionist. Then he asked that I look him up on Facebook and send him a friend request. I didn't give him any artists names, but I did send him a friend request. It was only after he accepted that I was able to see these images and more that were copied from dozen's of artists.

Send him a friend request on Facebook to see if you're one of his victims. After a few days, let him know what you think of his "art". We can all use our voice. Together we might speak loud enough...

I'll be cutting down the resolution on my painting images from now on. It's a shame. I really enjoy being able to click and enlarge paintings to see the details. There are always those who ruin it for everyone. Hugo Diaz Mapi. He's definitely one bad apple...

Hey Mr. Mapi, I can use Photoshop too.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Back from Monhegan

We arrived with the island in full sun. It was a welcoming gift for a place that has a reputation of being so gray. The lupins were in full bloom and they sparkled with sunlight as we walked towards our home for the week. Flowering trees were everywhere and the aroma of sweet flower petals filled the air. I was so happy to be back.

It was already mid-afternoon. After settling into our room, it left just enough time for a walk through town before dinner. Cameras in hand, Mike and I slowly made our way down the narrow dirt streets. The slow pace made it feel like we were re-introducing ourselves to the island. Many things had changed so little, others had changed a lot.

During dinner a sudden downpour quickly changed the light filtering in the house. Lightening and thunder clashed and roared. Water poured down the street carving a deep variegated gully. I was glad I had taken a stroll before eating. How quickly things can change. It was a fast moving storm and before the dishes were done, a photographer noticed we had a rainbow.

Not just a rainbow, but a double rainbow!

Our house sits on Fish Beach and we were able to back up just enough to see the entire arc of the rainbow. It ended directly on our house! This had to be a good sign.

This was a very old house built in the 17 hundreds. It was a bit rougher than the usual accommodations I seek. But here as the pot of gold at the tip of the rainbow, I sensed magical things were going to happen. Excitement and inspiration were already pumping through my veins.

The house may have looked a bit dodgy, but our view made up for it.

This was the morning view from our second story bathroom. Yes, I said bathroom... I loved how the sun lit up the boats in the harbor. It made me want to jump out of bed. You may think I saturated the colors, but no. This is how vibrant it looks on a sunny morning.

Our ancient house softened with charm at golden hour. You can see it here at the top of the tiny beach. Not so dodgy looking anymore. Many people came to the beach in the evening. It became the perfect setting for clicking people pictures easily from the comfort of my beach chair. We had musicians in the house and they would gather outside to play and sing. Children would wade at the water's edge picking sea-glass and shells and dragging little sticks in the water. My camera was busy as golden light lit their clothes and captured their merriment. They'll be future paintings from this trip, I promise...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Monhegan Island

Step back in time 100 years.

This is what Monhegan feels like..

Monhegan is an island ten miles off the coast of Maine. It's known as the Artists' Island and for good reason. Artists have been flocking here for years. So what's the draw? What makes Monhegan so exciting? Why do I see artists gathered at every turn?

You could ask this question to many and get lots of different answers. It's inspiring to say the least.

Foot power is the mode of transportation. Only a few trucks inhabit the island and they're used for deliveries - your baggage to your rental and supplies to the local residents. Oddly here, vehicles have the right of way.

One of the things that struck me most, especially as a landscape artist, was the strange atmosphere. Aside from the west coast, our weather, the clouds in the sky approach from having come over land. On Monhegan they approach from traveling over ocean. The island is so small, it's as though it isn't there and doesn't effect the passing clouds. You wouldn't think it makes much difference, but the sky and conditions here blew me away. You'll experience cloud formations and sky colors you've never seen. You're there to paint the island, but somehow the sky captivates you. I was in awe.

Photos can't do it justice. The look here on the blog is a simple gray. But the light here is nothing but a simple gray. The fog that rolls in is saturated with glowing warm light. The sun burning through, or just attempting. It renders the island a magical look. The air is fresh and you fill your lungs with the moisture of salty goodness. You walk at a slow pace, visually taking everything in. Quiet. The sound of quiet with the rhythm of ocean waves crashing on the rugged Atlantic side hums continuously. The only place it can't be heard is in the dense forest. It feels healing here.

Your creative soul is at peace. Clarity...

There's no schedule on Monhegan. Artists can be found from the crack of dawn, capturing the incredible sunrise that makes Monana glow, until dark for the orange sunset. Monana is the tiny island across the harbor seen in the top image. It helps protect the island creating a quiet cove, good for fishing boats and the ongoing ferry.

Nearly everyone you meet is an artist. The locals are artists. Beautiful artistic artifacts, sculptures and gardens adorn your walk. You can't help but sense an artistic power in the air. If you have artists' block, this is your hospital of cure. It's impossible for an artist to come to Monhegan and not paint.

This coming weekend, I'll be arriving here. 12 artists will share a large house on the ocean facing Manana for a week of painting and good healing. We'll unplug from life for a brief while and see what our creative souls conjure up. Awhhhhhh... I'm relaxing just thinking about it.

Step back in time 100 years. This is what Monhegan feels like..

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Jim Bean

An Artist's Cottage
Original oil painting 16x20"
by Susan Roux

Don't you just love surprises?

A few weekends back, the lilacs were in full bloom. I don't know about other places, but Maine grows lilacs like they were nursed on Rapid Gro. My favorites are the one's planted near old farmhouses. Grand porched-expanses, of addition upon addition with dormers tucked in everywhere, these white old-fashion beauties can be seen on any country drive. The lilacs hugging corners of these charming homes have grown enormous over time, oozing sweet perfume that lingers in the air.

Did people have uses for lilacs back then? It seems every old house had them. Now-a-days when people build a house they plant rhododendrons or azaleas. Back then it was, build a house plant lilacs, rhubarb and raspberries. Two can be eaten, but it still leaves me wondering why everyone had lilacs? Was it just because it was easy to get free from your neighbors?

Whatever the reason, it was height of blossom season, and Mike and I set out to capture them on a photo shoot. There is a wonderful 30 mile loop around a nearby lake with many of these old houses along the way. The sun was shining and stop and walk (the car, that is) became the rhythm of the day.

Somewhere in the middle of our loop a garage door opened as I walked by. Mike had stayed back in the car, because seriously how many pictures of lilacs did he really need? I on the other hand was out in search of good painting material and every lilac bush along the way got its chance to audition.

I was caught by surprise when I glimpsed the gentleman who opened the door. He was an old Mainer from the word go. Almost Santa Clause looking but with faded jean overalls rather than the typical bright red ones. My first thought was I wonder if I can quickly get an inconspicuous shot of his bearded face? The thought was fleeting however, for when I saw what was in his garage, I began to talk to him. He truly was a Santa Clause.

His garage was anything but a garage. It was like landing at the north pole. A wonderful saw-dust filled workshop that smelled of freshly cut pine, with a makeshift store-front of wood creations. I didn't hesitate to flag Mike over. This was a "must see".

Do you mind if I take pictures? Can I blog about you?

My fascination with every inch of his meandering workshop was instantly evident. How wonderful to find this wood artist tucked in the middle of nowhere! Maine perhaps has more artists per capita then any other state. Some are boisterous and flashy, trying to make their name known. Others are tucked in quietly hanging only a little shingle outside their door announcing their art. (I don't suppose I have to tell you which category I fall into...)

We stayed and talked for a long time. He was happy to have visitors including the opportunity to show his many creations.

There were wooden toy trucks and trains. There were bird feeders and birdhouses.

There were ornamental scroll-cut filigreed pieces. Some of which were used to create large clocks. There were wooden baskets and whirligigs, wooden boxes and plaques.

Even trucks in a box!

Some items were hand-carved. Some he sold to artists who paint designs and resell then at craft shows. He wondered if I was interested in this too?

If I blog about you, I need to know your name. My name is Jim.

I need your last name too. Bean. My name is Jim Bean.

Like the drink? Yes, just like the drink, but with an N.

Well I shouldn't have trouble remembering that!

I need to bring my Dad here. I'd love to talk to your Dad. I like talking to old folks.

So there it is. Jim Bean is a modern day Santa Clause who lives in the woods of Maine. He's a gentle man, an artist, a jolly soul who thrives on visitors stopping in. He treasures his simple way of life and like many artists, sells his creations for less than they are worth. He was a true find on an artist's photo shoot and I loved exploring his studio...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Paint a story

Coming Out
Original oil painting 24x18"
by Susan Roux

A blogging-writer friend recently sent me an excerpt from a book she's writing. It's a very rough draft she told me. I have to tell you it was very interesting to experience the work in progress. I've never stopped to think about writers and their creative process, but suddenly I couldn't get it off my mind.

It fascinated me how the idea she created needed to be "hatched" before outlines and chapters could be written. Just reading a short bit opened my eyes to how the many pieces of the process come together. It gave me a glimpse into her idea and made my imagination run wild, almost to the point of making me feel like I wanted to write this story...

But who am I kidding?

The funny thing was, afterwards I couldn't shake it from my mind. As though clear as freshly washed glass, I realized the aspects that make art good are the same aspects needed in all forms of art, be it writing, dancing, singing etc. The comparisons flooded my head...

Words, like brushstrokes, could be colorful or dull and grouped together to suggest a unified idea. Every paragraph, every chapter needs a focal point. Needless brushstrokes or words only get in the way, busying up the composition. Making it hard to follow. The more I thought of these things, the clearer and clearer creating art became to me.

It's not about painting a girl or a fruit or a tree. We learn to do that very early on in our painting lives. The juice of the matter is to capture these elements with passion. The colors, the strokes we use need to be so unified that a single one missing would render it incomplete. Imagine a song with a crucial note missing? Everything must work harmoniously together, supporting one main idea.

More than an idea, really.

A painting must tell a story. It's what pulls the viewer in, lets their imagination run free therefore keeping them engaged.

A book must paint a picture. It's what pulls the reader in, lets their imagination run free therefore keeping them engaged.

It's the same thing. But with a switch. The painter must tell a story and the writer, paint a picture. As painters we are not painting pictures. Why didn't anyone tell me this years ago? We are telling a story with paint. All you writers, you are not writing a story. You are painting a picture with words. Why was this easier to see through a different form of art?

So in conclusion, if you can follow my skewed way of thinking, artist should be grouped with writers. They'll be the ones who'll let us know if we told a story. Conversely, writers should be grouped with painters so we can help them paint a picture. After all we know how to paint a picture. We could be very helpful with that.

Paint a story. A passionate story.

Now that's a challenge. Go find yourselves writers to help you.

Note: Coming Out was painted from a black and white photo. It's the first time I've attempted this and found it to be completely freeing! Colors weren't dictated at all. How would I have painted such a rainbow hat with suggested colors hampering my imagination?