Friday, June 24, 2016

Albright-Knox Art Gallery Visit

Paul Gaughin's Yellow Christ
I grew up in Western New York and try to make it up back this way at least once or twice a year.  Since my 16 year old daughter has developed a love of art and art history, I thought it would be fun to go back to probably one of the first art galleries I ever went to.  It's kind of nice that I have someone to bum around with to art galleries without feeling like I am being rushed.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is in Buffalo, New York and I haven't been there in probably about 20 years.  I can remember distinctly some of the art that I viewed there as a child mainly the Warhol works that they have in their collection.  I was happy to see that they had more works that I recognize and love which made for a fun visit.

Besides "Yellow Christ", another Gauguin piece that is one of my favorites was there.  Paul Gauguin's "Spirit of the Dead Watching".

I love walking through and finding pieces that I have read about.  It was nice to come across a George Seurat painting and to study the artist's pointillism technique.


"Etude Pour "Le Chahut"" by Georges Seurat
I was happy to see a Frida Kahlo for the first time.  I love her work so much.  I never knew that the Albright-Knox had one of her self-portraits.
"Self Portrait with Monkey" by Frida Kahlo

Another one that I knew that my daughter would like would be Jackson Pollock's Convergence.  I had my daughter pose in front of it just to show the scale.  I thought it would be a good reference photo to use with my students to show how truly large Pollock's pieces are.
My daughter loved this whimsical play on words in this piece by Francois Morellet called "Geometree No. 51".  It actually had a tree branch on the painting.

There is a special exhibition going on right now at the Albright-Knox with 2 different abstract expressionist artists.  The description of the exhibition is as follows:
Shade: Clyfford Still / Mark Bradford features the work of celebrated American artists Mark Bradford (born 1961) and Clyfford Still (1904–1980). For the exhibition, Bradford has helped select more than twenty paintings from the Albright-Knox's important collection of works by Still. In adjacent galleries, Bradford presents a group of his own paintings—created specifically for this exhibition—that manifest an ongoing conversation with both Still’s abstractions and the broader legacy of Abstract Expressionism.
Being a mixed media artist myself, I loved being able to get up close to Mark Bradford's work and seeing the different layers he used to create his art.

The paintings were HUGE, complex, multi-layer masterpieces that amazed me with their execution by the artist.  I can't imagine how long it took to complete these pieces.

I will be posting some photos from my visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art that I went to in May.  As always, thanks for stopping by to read!

Saturday, June 18, 2016


I just got done  visiting my family in my hometown of Buffalo.  I always bring my art portfolio every place I go so I was excited to see that an Urban Sketching event was taking place in downtown Buffalo.  Living where I live in Virginia, I don't get the opportunity to urban sketch.  I don't think there is a building more than 4 stories tall where I live!  I was lucky that our busy schedule here allowed a free night to join up in this.

In the effort to spend more time with my children I brought my 8 year old son Joseph along.
Being a homeschooling mom sometimes makes it difficult not to make time spent with your children always a "teaching moment".  I have been trying to spend time just "hanging" with my children and not having a goal for what we are doing.  Since my older 2 were going to be back at my parent's home alone I didn't want to saddle them with watching their brother.  Sometimes they fail to feed the kid!  I brought my tablet with "Angry Birds" on it for Joseph to play on while I sketched.

The location for the sketch was Lafayette Square in downtown Buffalo where it's showpiece is the Soldier's and Sailor's Monument in the Center.  Joseph and I walked around the monument with my eye scanning something that would be interesting and not too difficult to draw.  When we reached the front we met Dana who is the organizer of Urban Sketchers of Buffalo.  She said that she was going to draw the monument.  Joseph pointed out City Hall and told me that I should draw that so we parked ourselves down on the monument steps to start.

The city was busy and people came and went through our area.  At one point, a group of girls dressed in prom dresses posed near the statue.  I guess maybe a prom was happening at the hotel across the way?  I got to work on my drawing.

Joseph took a hold of my camera and went around snapping some photos.

Joseph wanted to also sketch which I encouraged as it left me to work on my drawing with him by my side.

 A little more than an hour later, I started to get tired.  It was getting a little rough trying to keep track of all the windows on City Hall.  Joseph was also getting hungry.  Here is my drawing:
I think I will work on it more when I get home.  Not exactly sure how I will enhance it but I want to fix a few things.  Joseph finished his sketch as well.  His work is below.  He took a little "artistic license" and drew some platypuses flying across of City Hall.

Joseph's urban sketch of City Hall

I enjoyed my night of urban sketching and I am hoping that I have the opportunity to do it again in the future.  To find out more about urban sketching, please click here.

Thank you for stopping by to look at my blog!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Camille Claudel

I had never heard of Camille Claudel until a couple of months ago.  That is when I came across the historical fiction title Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb.  Being a fan of historical fiction as well as art(of course!) I was interested in reading this book and perhaps suggesting it to my book club.  After going through a few chapters, I just needed to know if Camille Claudel was a real person so I did a quick Wikipedia check making sure not to scroll down too far so I would not "ruin" the story for myself.

As the story went on, I couldn't believe that this story really happened. This was the 1890s and although I am sure that the Parisian art scene was progressive at the time, I couldn't imagine that the events in this book really happened.   I wanted to know more about Camille Claudel.   I got a little obsessive in fact finding out as much as I could about this woman. That is when I found the biography Camille Claudel:  A Life by Odile Avral-Clause and devoured it.

Camille Claudel
The art school and gallery scene of Paris at Camille's time was male driven.  Women were not allowed to attend the same classes as men and had much fewer opportunities to learn and exhibit their work.  In order to be a known artist, it helped to be male not female.
La Valse by Camille Claudel
Maybe it is because I was in a funk when I reading this book or maybe it is because the story just pissed me off but I found myself adding to the list of people from the book  I wanted to throat punch as the book went on.  It didn't help that they are all dead so that these were metaphorical throat punches I wanted to administer.

It first started with Claudel's mother who to me seemed jealous of Camille particularly the attention and love that Camille's father showered on her.  You know how when you watch a movie and something happens and you file that in your file cabinet in your brain under "To Be Determined".  That is what I thought when Claudel's mother was introduced in the beginning.  She seemed like an evil, sinister lady and I thought to myself that this was someone who was not going to NOT get the last word in.  One could see it build through the biography's narrative.

Next person I added to my list of people who frustrated me was Auguste Rodin. 
Auguste Rodin
He was already famous on the Paris art scene by the time he met 18 year old Camille who was a struggling and talented sculptor. She became an apprentice in his studio and quickly became his lover.  Auguste was WAY older than Camille when they met.  He was 43.  He was also living with a lady that he had a son with for the past 20 years. I have read people criticize Claudel in reviews but leave Rodin unscathed.  You can't justify this one.  He was 43.  She was 18.  He should have known better even though Claudel was reportedly stubborn and headstrong and probably would have pursued the relationship anyway.  You could see the train wreck coming down the tracks.
Camille in her studio
I can't remember a biography that drew me in as much as this. This book contains art, passion, regret, love, mental illness and a dysfunctional family that's actions were painful to read at times. Camille, who when younger, was obsessed to live a life of her own choosing became of a victim of her family's ignorance, jealousy and greed. 

After Camille and Rodin's breakup, Camille became more and more mentally unstable as she moved on trying to build an art career on her own.  She became paranoid thinking that Rodin was stealing her ideas and having her followed.  Her beloved father died and soon after that her family, which included famous diplomat and writer Paul Claudel, had her institutionalized in a most cruel fashion.  Even when she was "cleared" by her doctors to leave her asylum, her family refused to release her. T
hough Camille had faults they were in no way so bad that she had to live the rest of her life put away alone. 

I could go on and on about this but I don't want to reveal too much of what happens in case you want to read it.  I highly recommend it. 

If you would like to follow me on GoodReads to see what else I am reading, you can find me here.

Thanks for reading!