Monday, January 12, 2015

All About the Passion: An Interview with Linda Bell

Linda Bell's passion for art and life bursts off the canvas of her carefully crafted collages.  A career outside of the art world, children and marriage "intruded," as Linda says, causing her to put the creation of art aside for many years. That's one side of the story.  Looking at her collages, mixed media art and acrylic paintings, the cumulative experiences of a life joyfully and fully experienced permeates every aspect of her work.  

Well done, Linda Bell.  Let's chat.

Blue Moon
by Linda Bell

Q1. What is your first memory of art? 

A1. My first memory connected to art likely comes from my mom telling the story of when I was five and busy painting a Christmas tree in a school classroom. The local newspaper had sent around a journalist and photographer to my elementary school and the principal of the school (who just happened to be my uncle) brought them to the Kindergarten room. Apparently, they tried to talk to me but I was so entranced and busy with my painting I ignored them. The photographer did, however, shoot a picture of me painting away and it appeared on the front page of the paper.  

by Linda Bell
Q2. What was the first work of art you created?

A2. I am not sure. I did dabble in drawing and painting in high school and then university a bit but life intruded and a career, marriage and children took over and I did no art except a pottery class for many, many years. 

Tea Party Fiesta
by Linda Bell
Q3. Was there a point in your life when you decided to try art, or were you always an artist? 

A3. I was always an artist wannabe. I do remember the moment, however, after my son was born when I felt an overwhelming need to do something just for myself and that something was art. So I enrolled in a local watercolour class and somehow found a way to get there. I used to laugh and tell people that I was going to my therapy — but really for me it was serious, a form of escape and meditation. Since then I have painted off and on for many years. I retired almost 6 years ago now and now I have the time and freedom to paint when I want. 

Musician NYC
by Linda Bell
Q4. Are there specific triggers that cause you to race to a blank canvas/paper or do you impose a certain discipline on yourself? 

A4. I am totally undisciplined when it comes to painting - it is my joy, not my job, so I paint when I feel the need to paint. I have weeks when I don’t pick up a brush and weeks when the ideas and the desire to paint take over and I paint from morning to night. The only times when I have disciplined myself and pushed myself to paint have been when I have been preparing for a show. When I have done this, however, I have not always been happy with the results. We are all different, though, and I know some artists believe you should go into your studio every day — but that is not me and I don’t have to follow anyone's rules when it comes to this area of my life — hurrah! 

Cat Nap
by Linda Bell
Q5. When you are working on a piece, is there a point at which you realize you have a masterpiece taking shape on the canvas/paper?

A5. Well, I am still waiting to create that masterpiece. You know that saying “hope springs eternal.” Every new painting you start has that possibility. In fact some of what I consider my better paintings have been done over top of “old paintings.” I think it is because one has a feeling of there is nothing to lose so it is freeing. Of course, I have created really big messes that way, too. On another note I have recently realized that I need to leave a painting alone for a while after I think I have finished as I lose all perspective and don’t know if it is good or not so great or what to do to make it better. 

Morning Tea
by Linda Bell
Q6. Are there any artists you find particularly inspiring? 

A6. It's hard to know where to start with this question. My tastes are somewhat eclectic and so I love all kinds of art and artists. So I will just list the artists that spring to mind — Paul Cezanne, Gustav Klimt, [Henri] Matisse, and Georges Braque to start with. Then as a Canadian I have to mention the Group of Seven and in particular Lawren Harris and A J Casson

I love the abstract and graphic art of such artists as Rex Ray, Anne Moore and Krista Harris. I bought a DVD by Anne Bagby several years ago and her patterns and techniques have been an inspiration ever since. I do a lot of collage so I am always drawn to other artists who work with collage and mixed media - but there are too many to list here. 

That is why I love Pinterest so I can collect images from these artists - how great is that. Another current artist whose work just takes my breath away is Dean Mitchell.  I have to stop now or I could go on and on. 

It's a Numbers Game #2
by Linda Bell
Q7. Are there any non-artists you find particularly inspiring?

A7. Again, a lot to consider with this question. I think right now I am inspired by those people and leaders who work to make this world a better place. I have a medical background and right now I am just amazed by the healthcare providers who are risking their lives to provide care for people with Ebola. I am also inspired by people who are working to improve the lives of women and children around the world. 

Time Out
by Linda Bell
Q8. Please answer a question I didn’t ask. 

A8. Thank you for this opportunity first of all. I have people say to me how lucky I am to be an artist and in the past I used to reply that anyone can be an artist and that there are classes and books and other artists they could learn from. I still believe that people can learn to draw and paint — but I have realized recently that really it is not about learning specific things it is more about the passion — that's a corny word, I know, but I think it is the best word for it. Those of us that are artists have a desire and need to do what we do. It has its ups and downs, the frustrations when things don’t work out, the paintings that don’t sell or get into a juried show, but those are minor and fleeting, it is about the process and the joy of creating that drives us. So now I first say yes, that I appreciate how very lucky I am.  I hope other artists also feel a sense of gratitude for this gift that gives meaning to our lives.

Lean on Me
by Linda Bell
Q9.  Where can we see (and purchase) your work?

A9. My work can be found on my Web sitethe Federation of Canadian Artists' site; and Aion Gallery, an art gallery which also offers art rental services.

Just Checking
by Linda Bell

Thanks for stopping by, Linda. There’s always a passionate beagle to pet and a cup of hot tea at the ready in Lakewood. Don’t be a stranger.

Monday, November 17, 2014

"No Art, Just Start" - An Interview with Jim Harris

When I first saw Jim Harris's work - those shapes, those forms, those colors, music on a canvas - I knew what had to be done. A Pinterest board must be created. Check.

The more I stared at his 620+ works on Saatchi Art, the more I wanted to know about Jim.  Where does he live?  How in the world does he make music with a paintbrush?  Once again, I knew what had to be done.  Plead with Jim for an interview.  Check.

Colony 1
by Jim Harris
Let's chat.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Purple Shirt, a White Beard, a Life Change: An Interview with Cristina Surplus

Cristina Surplus.  Such an evocative name.  A warehouse bulging with paintings and painting supplies, masterpieces slightly outside of the building as even the windows give way.  What is all this?  Surplus, of course.  

Cristina's Web site, "Inspired by David", gives full credit to her friend and mentor, David Hickman, for her artistic development and career choice. And she showcases the work of artists she admires.  Cristina's generosity knows no bounds. Surplus.  

My favorite works remain the first works of Cristina's I saw, her New York series.  Color so bold it takes your breath away.  In fact, one might say there is a surplus of color.

Let's chat.
The West Village (New York Series)
by Cristina Surplus

Friday, October 3, 2014

Less of a War and More of a Party: An Interview with Tom Kelly

Thomas ("Tom") Kelly caught my eye when I saw his painting, "Harry's Bar, Venice" (see below).  At once serious and comic, the image evokes a bygone era of casual elegance, when smoking was cool and not fatal, when men opened doors for women and women were not offended. Yet these well-dressed sophisticates are coming out of a bar.  Not a fancy salon, a bar called "Harry."  There must be more to this story.  Notice the open door where you see the mirror image of the word "Harry."  Oh, Tom Kelly, I am on to you.

Turns out, Harry's Bar was first a dream and then a reality for Giuseppe Cipriani.  The bar really is in Venice.  As in Italy.  According to Giuseppe: 
In those days [post World War I], the most popular meeting places for the young Venetian and European aristocracy were the bars in the luxury hotels, like those at the Europa, the Bauer, and the Grand Hotel ...
After a loan from a young American named - wait for it - "Harry," Giuseppe opened his dream bar.  The first guest book included:
... the signatures of Arturo Toscanini, Guglielmo Marconi, Somerset Maughan, Noel Coward, Charlie Chaplin, Barbara Hutton, Valentina Schlee, Orson Welles, Truman Capote, Georges Braque, Peggy Guggenheim . . . and a host of others.
During the winter of 1940-1950, Hemingway dropped in so often he had a table of his own.

And that's only part of the story of just one Tom Kelly painting. 

Harry's Bar, Venice
by Tom Kelly

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monsters and Airplanes - An Interview with David French

Remember memorizing state capitols, birds, mottos, etc.?  I was always grateful these lists did not extend to cities.  However, if there was ever such a thing as a "city artist," it would be David French of Charlotte, North Carolina.  David is the most collected artist in Charlotte (confirmed by the artist) as he lovingly chronicles Charlotte landmarks. 

Charlotte's 50th Festival in the Park begins September 19th.  David, of course, will be there. And if you think I'm exaggerating David's connection with the city, the online exhibitor's page begins David's bio with:
"David French's 225+ paintings of Charlotte cover every corner of the city that resides in our hearts ..."
2001 Central Skyline (Charlotte)
by David French
Let's chat.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Crayons and the National Gallery: An Interview with Annie O'Brien Gonzales

Next spring, I'm going to say goodbye to my favorite nurseries and hello to Annie O'Brien Gonzales's beautiful flowers.  My garden will be the envy of the neighborhood, populated with Annie's floral images.

Let's chat.

Might as Well be Spring
By Annie O'Brien Gonzales


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Master of Ekphrasis - An Interview with Joost de Jonge

Last week, as I obsessively pored over my Pinterest notices, my eyes came back to the same e-mail over and over.  "Joost de Jonge has repinned two of your pins."  Such a familiar name.  Sort of.  And why those two pins, out of the 29,000+ available?

Ah, of course, he chose the two pins of Joost de Jonge's work on my overloaded art board.  Now I know 1) he's a living artist, and 2) he has a Pinterest account.

One click and I discover he lives in the Netherlands, two clicks and I find myself on Joost's Web site, a magical world of color and movement.  This art looks like music.  As if Charles Ives' Concord Sonata hopped onto a canvas and Thelonious Monk decided to follow.

Color, color, color.  Evocative movement.  These images sing to me.  There must be a word for this.

Ekphrasis.  And I have just stumbled upon its Master.

Let's chat.
The Talisman
by Joost de Jonge