11 January 2015

Faculty and Resident Artist Exhibit at the Arts Barn

The following artists, educators and artists-in-residence, are showing their work at the Arts Barn in Gaithersburg from now until January 25, 2015. Their media range from acrylic, watercolor and oil paint to sculpture, glass work and photography. They were asked to discuss their work in terms of what they learned while producing it, and to address their students in their response, since most of them are art teachers at the Arts Barn and elsewhere in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Vian Borchert's artwork
Vian Borchert
I have two artworks in the faculty show, an acrylic painting titled "John Lennon: Love Triumphs" and another drawing in colored pencils titled “Maleficent.”

John Lennon has been my muse for many years, not only because he is a great musician and song writer, but also because of his beliefs of spreading love and peace - great ideologies any person can live by. When I look at this artwork, the first thing that comes to mind are the Beatles' song lyrics "All you need is love, love is all you need," which is true to the utmost. These words and Beatles and Lennon love songs don't only have a good ring to them, but they also carry a wonderful message as well. It is only through love that societies overcome problems and thrive and become better communities. The love that I am referring to is the love that has to start from within, love that starts from the heart and spreads within, allowing that person to bring it outward to the world. So, through a vision of love, just like John Lennon had, hope and positivity can spread.

 Lessons learned while creating the work: This piece is actually one of the few pieces where I have the portrait smiling. It really wasn't my intention to have a happy, smiling Lennon. Yet, it somehow came out that way. Maybe the spirit of John was trying to tell me something through the creation of this piece - that is why I titled it "John Lennon: Love Triumphs."

You have to be open to possibilities in art. I went into the process of creation wanting to paint a serious John Lennon painting, and ended up with a happy Lennon. So, be open to the idea that subject matters can change while creating a work of art. The point is to be open minded in your approach to the creative process.

Regarding “Maleficent,” which is a drawing done in colored pencils, I actually liked the character in the movie “Maleficent” played by Angelina Jolie. This drawing started off as somewhat of a sketch because I was approaching the drawing like children playing with Legos, figuring out what can be built from the Lego blocks in front of them. While I was working on this piece, I realized that Jolie, especially in this role, is very interesting to draw with her striking features.

What I learned from creating this piece, which deals with women's issues, is that a person can appear dark and wicked from the outside, yet, underneath that appearance can be a kind person with a loving heart. 

Students should try drawing subject matters that are not typical. This involves thinking outside of the box. So, rather than drawing the classical still life with fruits, pots and pans, make your artwork more interesting by choosing subject matters that are unusual. I find that students do better in drawing unusual subject matters, such as a child's toy rather than an apple, since they have to challenge themselves to look carefully at the unique still life. So, allow yourself to be brave in your approach to art and its creation to discover the creativity within you.

Jack Donnelly with his "Caldermobiles"
Jack Donnelly
The work in this show has been an enormous learning experience for me.

 I have been a metalsmith for many years now, but I recently discovered two things:

First, I had the opportunity to work with the amazing metal called aluminum for the very first time. Each and every single metal has its own unique properties, Alluminum (Al) is light-weight and very malleable, but it cannot be soldered or easily welded. This limitation got me exploring cold fusion methods like using aluminum pop rivets as connections. Rivets are an old-school method that I had largely not used since my 8th grade metalshop class. I love their solid industrial aesthetic.

Second, I was so fortunate as to experiment with 3D kinetic sculpture for the first time ever. I am in complete awe of the inventive work of Alexander (Sandy) Calder (1898-1976). His intuitive concoctions have taught me a new way of looking at the world. Found objects from all walks of life can inspire, if not become an actual component of the artistic creation, and the sculpture itself evolves past the static form to an ever-changing, perpetual motion machine, responding to the breezes, vibrations, and motions of life. I am thrilled to be working both of these aspects into many new projects in the New Year!
Photograph by Jaree Donnelly
Jaree Donnelly
The lesson when shooting moving water is photographing at the right time of day (early or late), getting the shutter speed just right, and using a tripod with a trigger release. By slowing it down, shooting in lower light, and using a tools to prevent the camera from shaking, you can get that beautiful, silky look!

Hung bowl by Tony Glander
Tony Glander 
I started “hanging” bowls a few years back. I was offered part of a gallery show, except there was no flat space for bowls. The solution to hang them gave them much more dimension. I just found a new hanging device that allows the bowl or plate to be taken off the wall and used.  

Watercolor by Sue Kay
 Sue Kay
While watercolors have been my medium of choice for some time now, I find I am often driven to seek new subject matter that challenges my hand and eye. This painting is the second one I have done to try and show the texture and movement of water. I have come to love the different patterns in the water, from the rushing currents with their bold lines and broad strokes to the swirling bubbles and the deeper, more quiet patterns of still water.

Painting the objects that get swept along in the current offers up even more challenges of color and texture, and helps to describe the water in its own way. The teacher in me likes to be constantly exploring and challenging my own skills in the same way I enjoy teaching and challenging my students.

Natalya B. Parris with her artwork (left) and holiday ornaments designed by her (right)
Natalya B. Parris
I have two paintings currently on display at the “Arts Barn Faculty Exhibit” (November 26, 2014 - January 25, 2015 in the Arts Barn Invitational Gallery): “Lotus" (acrylic on canvas, 12" x 12") and "From Me to You" (acrylic on canvas, 8"x10”). These paintings show that I wanted to capture movement ... like a light breeze ruffling the flowers. To create this effect, I strategically did not draw the flowers in the center of the canvas and avoided symmetry when I drew the petals and leaves. The challenge with “Lotus" was to decide where to paint the dots, where to double and triple them, and what section of the painting should have only one layer of dots or no dots at all in order to enhance the uniqueness of the flower. The other thing that both paintings have in common is that they represent “over-sized” flowers that are very colorful. Painting so many multicolored dots was challenging and fun at the same time.

Oil by Yolanda Prinsloo
Yolanda Prinsloo 
I chose to exhibit this still life painting because of the holiday season. The subject matter is sentimental, antique silver ladles and humorous porcelain creamers, objects given to me as gifts a long time ago. The painting is realistically rendered in oil on gold leaf. I enjoyed the simplicity of the work and what I experienced while working on it: a slowing down my often fast tempo, and taking time to enjoy the play of light and shadow on the objects as I took in their shapes and form.

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