Sunday, October 18, 2009

Yesterday I took Lilli around for the final weekend of our county's Open Studio Art Tour. Her own art teacher gave them an assignment to visit 3 artist's studios and to write up something about the medium(s) used, what you learned about the artist's process, what you liked/disliked or what inspired you...
We did not have our map of artists to visit, so we went into it blind and just looked for Open Studio signs and stopped into random places. Turns out, we met some interesting new people!

1. The first studio we stumbled upon belonged to a well-known local artist who does watercolors, teaches local classes, leads painting tours in Italy, and has written /illustrated a children's book. She had about 200 paintings displayed throughout her house & studio & yard, a staff of 5 running around, a cash register set-up, works in progress, refreshments, and sign-up info for her Italy tour next summer. *I* was inspired by her organization and business sense! (Should I write that on my homework assignment??) Lilli asked if she could go to Italy with her. Yeah, take Lilli to Italy with you and see how much painting you get done, lady!

2. At the second studio we met a woman who did etched metal plates and a variety of other mediums, mostly images of animals, dogs, horses, cows, pigs, inspired by a visit to the county fair. I couldn't explain it well, but she showed us her process from simple sketch/outline, to detailed drawing, to the plate process and I thought it was very interesting. She also did this amazing painting based on fragments of a golden bull idol she saw at Delphi - she sketched the fragments and then reconstructed the golden bull for her painting - I was impressed with the inspiration, the story behind the painting, and with her style. Italy, Greece... I need to get in on some of this art action...
But I was mostly impressed when she told me that she had only recently begun pursuing art, in her late 60s! She had been a mom and involved in local politics, and only after she retired did she decide to take an art class and found she liked it AND was good at it.

At this studio, however, Lilli was mostly impressed with the lady's friendly dog and with her yard full of mushrooms:

3. The third studio we found involved walking up this winding path, under this tree full of the NOISIEST birds I have ever heard - but look at this amazing photo I got of them!

That's the studio up on the left and, unfortunately, I got pooped on as we walked under that tree. Oh well.

This artist does watercolors on this slick paper called "yupo" (?) - she explained that the paper does not absorb the paints, but rather the paint moves around the paper until it dries by evaporating, creating different patterns and textural effects. After the paint dries, she THEN finds inspiration in the various patterns and takes a pen and starts outlining shapes based on what she "sees" in the paint - usually different animals, creatures, etc. She calls the paintings "morphs" because one image morphs into the next - you can see them here, which is good because I probably just ruined it with my description!

Maybe it's because I got pooped on by the birds, but I thought the finished pieces were less interesting than the description of her paint/paper process. I liked the colors and paint effects *before* she added her black outlines to the images. Lilli says, "I liked the mixed up animals." She also liked chasing an orange cat around the property.

Lilli also told the artist, "I like this music you have." Turns out it is music inspired by and incorporating sounds of elephants in Africa (by Jamie Sieber), and it inspired the artist to find images of elephants in her running watercolors.

On the way up to this studio we stopped & took this photo of the strawberry fields with Monterey Bay in the background. I thought it was such a beautiful scene, perhaps not entirely captured by this photo, but Lilli makes up for what is lost in my photo translation of the landscape :)

We got back in the car and Lilli said, "I feel like we're inside a painting right here."

Exactly! We got your inspiration for art right here...mushrooms, farm animals, music, birds, elephants, the ocean, strawberry fields. That's what it's all about.