Years ago I read that Edgar Degas would visit the homes of his collectors, remove his work from their walls, and take the art home to make changes. Not sure if this story is true, and I can't possibly compare myself to Degas. However, if it was good enough for him, it is definitely good enough for me.
Below is an image of a painting that I did years ago. I always liked the composition, partly because it reminded me of the place that inspired the art. I was visiting Glacier National Park (heaven on earth) with my family when I was riveted by these beautiful birch trees. The sun was hitting them in what felt magical to me. I took a photo and this painting was the result.
Fast forward several years, and I still have the painting, but found that changes were calling out to be made. So, I took that painting off the wall, removed it from the frame, and began making changes. Whew, it feels like the work that I would make now. Thanks to Mr. Degas for the permission to make changes as time progresses if possible.
Reaching- Late Winter, Pastel, 36 x 24 inches, ©Lynn Goldstein
This was the first painting of mine that won an award in a national competition
Have you ever wondered about entering a juried art show in your community or elsewhere? Here are some short (and hopefully sweet) tips for being successful:
1. Enter what you deem your best work, and display it professionally. I just judged a show in my local area this afternoon and was impressed with the quality of the work. Living in the Washington, DC area, where there are some terrific artists, I was’t surprised to find professionally crafted work. There have been instances in the past when I haven’t selected work for an award because of shoddy framing. That didn’t happen today. Yay!
2. Do your homework. Take a look at the judge’s background and work. Don’t do this with an eye toward entering work that looks like the judge’s work. I can say from experience, that I rarely select work that looks much like my own unless it is exceedingly well done. I hold work that is similar to my own to a very high standard. Study the work of the judge to learn more about art, and also to see if you respect the artwork that the judge makes.
3. Enter work that is exceptional, not safe. Collector’s may select safe art, but judges rarely do. Work that wins awards is exceptional. When looking to enter a show, ask a respected artist for their opinion if you can to get help in your selection process.
4. Read the prospectus carefully, and follow it to the letter. This just makes sense. Print out the prospectus rules and read over them more than once to ensure that your work is presented properly. You wouldn’t want a great piece to be rejected for a silly technical mistake.
5. Don’t take a rejection (or an acceptance) too seriously. Selections for juried shows are completely subjective. The results are the opinions of one or a handful of people. My artist friends and I have had work win awards in some shows while the same work wasn’t even selected for others. Remember this so that you are able to keep juried shows in proper perspective.
In 2011 I was fortunate enough to enjoy an artist residency in Dinan, France. Dinan is in Brittany, a place that now owns a part of my heart.
The King Arthur story has always interested me. Imagine my delight upon discovering that the King Arthur legend has ties to France—it makes sense—after all, I was in Britanny.
About 45 minutes drive east of Dinan, the Forest of Paimpont is all that remains of the vast forest that covered ancient inland Brittany. Legend has it that the 25 square miles of woodland is also the location of mythical Brocéliande, the forest of King Arthur. This painting was inspired by my visit there.
The day that I visited was dreary, chilly and misty, but I didn't want to portray the forest that way. The Arthur legend has lit my imagination for years, so it was important to me to indicate a bright light in the distance of this piece. One of my favorite books is "The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley which is the King Arthur legend told from a decidedly female perspective. But I digress. Legend has it that the adventures of Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, occurred in this forest. Also, Vivianne, the Lady of the Lake, was said to have imprisoned Merlin the magician here after learning all his secrets of magic. It is also said that excalibur, King Arthur's sword, is in the lake within the area. In fact, the painting that I made that was selected to remain in France was a painting inspired by that lake. It was the only painting to which I gave a name while in France.
Have you ever wanted a piece of art that is made just for you? If so, this series of posts will help you to understand the process.
Choose to work with an artist who works in a style that you love. Do not ask an artist to work in the style of someone else. In doing so, you run the risk of being very unhappy with the finished piece. If you have a specific location where you want your painting to hang, if possible, give the artist an opportunity to see that space. If not, good photographs of the room are a must.
When someone has a specific location in mind for my work, I like to see the room to get a better idea of what I will be able to do. This is the time that I get a feel for what the collector finds appealing. It is good to see the restrictions and to understand as closely as possible what is most desired. In order to ensure that my work enhances people's lives, I am clear about the process, and understand what is most important to the buyer.
After you have expressed your requirements, plan to see a sketch or several sketches so that you can choose what you like best, and approve the composition prior to the painting being started.
With a better idea of what the parameters of the project are, I provide you with at least one black and white sketch depicting the landscape. Here are some examples of sketches that have been provided for commissioned landscapes.
So, you now know what scene you are going to have painted for you. What happens next?
If the color palette is very important because of where the piece will be displayed, you will likely feel better (and so will I) if you are able to see a color sketch. Many people look at my color sketches and feel that they are not so much sketch as they are miniature paintings. Either way, by seeing, and approving, the color sketch, you will have an even better idea of what you will be receiving.
When making my most recent commissioned painting, I was able to visit the home of the collector, and also take two pillows from their sofa, to utilize in an effort to match the colors of the room. I understand the notion that artwork doesn't have to match the sofa. I also understand the desire of an individual to have work that compliments the decor of the room. When that is important to the collector, I am happy to work within an specific color scheme.
Now for the real fun. With the color sketch approved, I am ready to start the painting.
Once completed, if possible, I visit the home (or office) of the collector so that we can be sure that the colors work well in the room. Light affects the way that colors appear, and the light in my studio rarely matches the location of where the work will be placed. Once approved, the art goes to the collector if the painting was made in pastel. If the painting was made in acrylic, I will need to varnish the piece. After varnishing, the collector will be able to enjoy the painting for years to come.
Recently a challenge was directed my way. The challenge was to write about something that matters to me, and what I would like others to do about it. I was stymied. There are so many gigantic problems in the world that it’s overwhelming to think about the things that truly matter. You know what I mean; save the environment, stop hatred and bigotry, let’s stop wars and killing, feed the hungry, cloth and house the poor. The problems are enormous.
When I am faced with a challenge, I slow down, and give a listen to the still small voice inside myself. That voice became louder and louder. The thing that is important to me is that I have a strong believe that we are all connected. We are connected to the land that nurtures us, and we are connected to one another. Our differences may seem huge, but most of us can find common ground if we slow down and look for it.
As an artist who specializes in landscapes, I have become aware that my work provides a haven of peace for anyone taking a look. The underlying story is that by making landscapes, I am tapping into the common ground that is important to us all. Without nature’s bounty, we would not survive. Without helping one another, we would likely not survive either. It is important to me that people understand that we are all connected by a common thread of survival. Our ecosystems, our social systems, and our economic systems are interconnected.
So, do I ask that we take care of the environment, and work on other large-scale problems? Of course, I would love that. But an easier request to consider is this: Just for today, see how good you feel if you perform an act of kindness to a stranger or a friend because you feel connected by your humanity. When I do exactly that, I feel a connection to my fellow human beings, and to the universe. Hopefully, that small act will help start a healing process so that those bigger problems can be addressed more easily. If nothing else, that act will make the world a gentler place.
I have been so busy, moving studios and preparing for shows, that I forgot to post my most recent installation. This is a piece that I made to continue exploring aspects of Jewish history. It is quite different from the work that I ordinarily do, and I enjoy working outside the box (or in this case, outside the suitcase).
The piece is completely symbolic just as "Treatise," another installation that I made regarding Jewish history, was. To see information about that, check it out here. But before you leave this page, here is the symbolism for "Diaspora:"
The books used within the trunk are by the author Sholom Aleichem and printed in Yiddish. Sholom Aleichem was a prominent author who wrote the stories that inspired “Fiddler on the Roof.” “Fiddler” depicts just what many of these people endured to stimulate them to come to this country. Many (not all) Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe spoke, read, and wrote in Yiddish. The use of books also speaks to the importance of education in the Jewish tradition.
Why Aspen Trees--
Aspen trees were painted on the spines of the books. Aspens are connected by their root systems, just as we are all connected. Tree symbolism is important in Judaism as well. The Tree of Life is symbolic of the Torah (Jewish written law).
The trunk lid bears photographs of immigrants, including my family members, that had the courage to leave all that they knew behind to come to an unknown country. The branches and yellow leaves symbolize hope for a better life, and the connections that we have to one another. There is also a nod to the connections that occur when we move from one place to another as if branching out.
Why Trunk and Suitcases--
The trunk and suitcases symbolize the travel to what was hoped would be a better life for themselves and their families upon arriving in the United States.
I am eternally grateful to my ancestors for having the courage to leave all that they knew behind to make what they hoped would be a better life for their family in this country. Thanks for reading!
Whenever I have bumped into difficult times, I have almost literally run into the woods. So, walking in the woods, or beside a body of water, inspires my work. Being around the natural world brings me comfort. That said, one of the things that inspired me to be an artist was looking at the art books that my mother had when I was a child. I was riveted by all the different ways people could express themselves visually. My mother studied art in college, and she taught me my first lessons. For some reason, my young mind reasoned that if my mother could make art, then perhaps so could I.
This painting fell on the heels of helping to downsize my mother’s apartment, which was a stressful, sad experience because her health is declining. Her memory is also going, and her world is shrinking. I was exhausted after a marathon packing session and long drives to and from where my mother lives back to where I live. I didn’t have the energy to think, and was considering taking a nap, but decided that perhaps making art was just what I needed to do.
I usually start a painting methodically, but this time I decided to just “let her rip,” and have fun with the process. Since I only had one hour, I decided to use pastel. I work in pastel and mixed media, and find that pastel is faster for me. I was called to make a painting of trees that I see when I walk in the woods near my home. What really fascinates me here is the hollow in the trunk of one particular tree. While working, I couldn’t help but think about the whole idea of our dwelling places. How where we live and the objects that we own can come to define us. And, how the hollow of that tree trunk has likely provided shelter for animals, just as the home that my mother has come to know, and where she must leave, has sheltered her.
Working on the painting was oddly comforting to me. I became lost in the process, which hasn’t happened in awhile and reminded me why I love making art in the first place. I was able to gain peace from remembering how I feel when I am listening to the birds singing, and the rustling of the wind in the branches of the trees.
Often when people look at my work they say that they feel peaceful. I hope that the comfort that I gained making this painting, will be transferred to those who see it.
Whenever I travel, it takes about 4 days to get into the relaxing groove. It's as if I have been holding my breath and I finally exhale. So early in the trip, I was still revved up and feeling guilty because I didn't have time to sketch, or even think about my art making. Once I finally relaxed, I began to SEE! When will I learn that seeing and experiencing new things can inform everything that I do?
For a landscape painter, Scotland is heaven. Here are some photographs from that trip, (not all landscape material) along with one sketch that I made from the breakfast room window inside our Bed & Breakfast in St Andrews. A shout out THANK YOU to the owners of Castlemount who made our visit to St Andrews very special! If you are ever in St Andrews, I highly recommend a stay there.
A fellow artist told me that she hated museums, which prompted me to think about why I LOVE museums. After a recent visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), I was able to see why I love museums. If you didn't see the previous blog post illuminating this subject, check that out in the post below this one. Otherwise, here are some more pieces of art that made my visit to the MIA more than worthwhile. Nothing makes me happier than seeing art that inspires me to work harder and better.
Art and Life. Here you will find out more about my life as an artist.