Tag Archives: Philadelphia PA

Seen on the Street

I did these tiles from photos taken in Philadelphia, PA, at various times. The scenes are more or less faithful to the original, as I saw fit!

Clay tiles, Velvet underglazes fired at cone 06, January, 2018.

 

 

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Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending May 4

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Art! That says it all. Art!

Saturday, April 28 – Here’s a TV time artwork I completed last night – it’s the finishing of a page in my current Large Artist Sketchbook. Before and after: (I used the photo from an exhibit I visited at Arcadia University as my reference).

In the afternoon I worked on the various clay items again. I continue to add color using Velvet underglazes.

AD 4-28 #2006

Here’s the large squarish figure I worked on yesterday – I’ve straightened out his troubles as mentioned in the last post and he looks ok now.

I finished another little animal and another cylinder guy – the small square figure needs more work, but here he is so far.

And more tiles. Those rectangular ones are going to be people, once they get their eyes and some more work done on their faces.

AD 4-28 #7001

Sunday, April 29 – This morning my husband and I decided to take a walk. We started off at Norristown Farm Park and into the state hospital grounds, circled for a while, and came back – about five miles. I decided to leave a couple of stick ladies (like these) along the route. I remind you that I have decided to resume dropping off small art pieces here and there – something I used to do in the past. These small figures were made some years ago. It’s a new art goal to make items I can leave behind, but I’m starting with ones I have.

One was left in the wishing well near the parking lot:

and then we went through the park to the hospital grounds. I will not repeat information about Norristown State Hospital beyond saying the farm park and the hospital were once one institution; now the farm is a county park and the hospital is almost closed down, awaiting repurposing, and in the meantime hosting a number of operations besides the medical ones – community garden, social service agencies, etc. But most buildings are closed and many crumbling. For more info and photos, look here.

I set another lady here.

On the way home we passed a church near us with a new sign – Labyrinth. I love labyrinths and did not know this church had put one in. I left another lady in the center.

In the future I will write about my art drop-offs in my Confused blog, where I did so back in earlier days, but I thought I’d mention this new art resolution here in my art world. I have neglected this particular aspect of my creative life,  the writing about everyday things that are to me, not so ordinary, but spring is here. A new start for a lot of things.

At home, I worked on clay. I finished up the remaining square guy from yesterday:

AD 4-29 #14

some tiles, including these rectangular ones I’ve made into people:


and I put Jet Black Velvet underglaze on the remaining figurines so as to have them ready to color. Somehow the tall ones reminded me of nuns in old-fashioned black habits.

Monday, April 30 – More work on clay items. The pictures say it all.

Tuesday, May 1 – More clay work. I finished up a rectangle person and started on a cylinder person:

I also managed to knock over a jar of light green underglaze (no photos!) – just ugh. I then cleaned up my work area and reorganized my underglazes – a messy workspace has consequences. Once I got back into action, I colored these two tiny — whatever they are.

You may have noticed that I usually position my figures with uplifted faces. I think a slight uptilt makes the face a lot more visible than one looking straight ahead, especially since the items I make are pretty small and you’d likely be looking down at them wherever you put them.

I also finished up the “self-hugger” (thank you, Sharon Mann! for that great name). I had the idea to leave her (as I see it, she is a her) in a plain black outfit once I saw her in the initial black coat. She has plenty of visual interest with her crossed arms and I did not want to distract.

Wednesday, May 2 – at the risk of getting boring, more clay work. These two are done:

This large one is in process:

AD 5-2 #3

and here are small tiles.

AD 5-2 #4

The last couple of nights I’ve been drawing (TV time, again). This image is a page in my current Large Sketchbook. I combined two photo inspirations into one scene,  an image not necessarily making sense. The photo of Megabus came from Philadelphia last summer; I was fascinated by how the bus just pulled over on Market Street at about 10th, maybe, in the middle of the city, and then this roil of people getting on, off, suitcases, bags, went into action.

The man leaning on his office window was from Pittsburgh in 2015.

I might color it. Haven’t decided yet.

Friday, May 4 – This week has been a difficult one to get to concentrate on art. I have had some family issues to deal with and that have taken time all week,  and today, we had a new front door installed (the old one was losing pieces off the bottom, so…) I did a couple of small things today – first, I gessoed some 6″ x 6″ boards with black gesso.

AD 5-4 #4

Two things. First, I wanted to try working with black gesso; I’ve always used white. I have the vague idea of doing a series of small paintings, different images but with similar colors, and see if I can tell a difference.

Second, I am using these hardboard panels that I buy from Dick Blick; these are the very most inexpensive ones (this size, they cost less than a dollar each) and I can use them as if they were paper, not worrying about the investment in the surface.

AD 5-4 #1

Also (now I’m on to three things and more, I know) – they do not take up much room, if I kept them – they are saleable as they are, as paintings on paper would not be – and, they are easy to give away or mail, if I want to do that. Anyway, here is the first set of them gessoed:

AD 5-4 #3

The door guys were still working so I got out some more of those ATC-sized claybords and turned them into future trees. I will need to do more to these, but there is only so much time you can put into something this tiny before you turn it into muddy colors. I set them aside to dry to finish another day.

AD 5-4 #2

Well, then the door guys left, I let the cat out of the basement, and I went there myself to continue clay work. I have these three figures almost done:

AD 5-4 #5

and here are some small tiles and clay “rocks”:

AD 5-4 #6

All right. That’s it for this week!

See you next week! Thanks for following along with me.

Multi-layered Postcards

I took a couple of pieces of recycled cardboard cut to postcard size and gessoed them. Then I painted over them with acrylics, in a random kind of way. Them I drew on them in ink, using a couple of different pens.

Both scenes were taken from photos I took at the plein air event I did in June 2017, in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. The cards were done in September 2017.

Family Home

About a year ago, a friend of mine asked me if I would do a painting of his family home. Sure, I said.

Well, time moved on, we kept talking about it here and there, but finally this summer the stars aligned and the project was done. Here is the story, and it is special to me.

My friend, John, lives in the home where he grew up. It was built more than 100 years ago by his grandparents, lived in by his parents, and now by him. It’s an end-of-row rowhome located in what was a small town about 35 miles from Center City Philadelphia.

The area is now suburbanizing and there have been a lot of changes, but the house is still as it has always been, rising up from the street in a dignified way.

As well as a doing a portrait of the house, John asked me to include his dogs: Ava, Maggie, Nikki, and Winnie. Other than that, well, it was up to me.

Normally I won’t do commissions. I dislike feeling the future owner’s hopes hovering over my shoulder as I work. I extra dislike the idea that I could disappoint the recipient. In this case, I know that John likes my work; he has been a big supporter of me, always.

But I also knew that this house means more than just shelter to him. It is the embodiment of a lifetime of memories for him and the setting for all his family’s history for a century. I felt a lot of responsibility.

But, I figured, I’ll get to work, and if it doesn’t please him, well, I’ll just…just…try again!

I want to show the process of this project, and I will break it down into its parts. Because I decided there would be paintings rather than painting.

Here are my ideas. I would do a small portrait of each dog; I’d do the house; and I’d do a picture of the front door and steps. In this way I could represent all the parts that seemed important. The house, of course. The dogs deserved their own spaces; I felt they would be insignificant inside the larger painting and I didn’t like that idea, since they are so important to John. And I just liked the front steps; that’s the way everyone who’s ever been there goes in and out, all those years!

My husband and I drove out and took pictures of the house in June. John sent me pictures of Ava, Nikki, and Maggie; I took a picture of John and Winnie in July.

Now you know it all. Here are the results.


Let’s start with the dogs.

Ava:

Maggie:

Nikki:

And John and Winnie. I met Winnie myself; John brought her to the Tinicum Festival of the Arts and I took her picture.

Here is the close up of the steps and front door.

And now. The house!

Here are the finished pieces all together…

Two Favorites

I visited the city on Wednesday, August 9, the city being my city, Philadelphia. My husband had a meeting at his downtown office and I decided to take the ride in and go look around.

It was a beautiful day. I rarely go into Philadelphia anymore, but for many years I was here every day – I worked in several different locations (for the same employer) in Center City and in the historic district. I also drove all over the place for my job, so I know a lot about the entire city; but it’s the hub of things I want to talk about today.

On this walk, I visited two of my favorite art pieces, both public art. I’ll show you a little bit and then, if you are interested, you can find more info on the internet or…you can visit Philadelphia!

All right. We’ll start with some relief sculptures on this building.

It’s the US Courthouse (now Robert C Nix Federal Building) and the William Penn Annex of the post office. The building is quite large – it extends a half block on Market Street and goes all the way through the block to Chestnut Street.

The reliefs I am interested in are along the 9th street facade. They were the work of Edmond Amateis and commissioned by the government through the WPA to ornament this 1930’s building.

They depict mail delivery and show it taking place in far-flung locations. I have always loved these sculptures for their style and beauty, and for the idea that mail delivery unites the world, with people working hard to get a letter where it needs to go.

Here they are: they are arranged in two pairs. You will notice a difference in the look of the reliefs – two were in the sun and two in shadow.

First, the cowboy and the city postman:

Next, mail delivery in the tropics and in the far north:

Every time I am in the neighborhood I stop to take a look. For more information look here.


 

Now, my other favorite. It’s Dream Garden, a huge mosaic located in the lobby of the Curtis Center at 6th and Walnut Streets, right next to the Independence Hall complex. I worked in a building around the corner for some time and when I needed a respite, I’d come over and visit the mural.

It was designed by Maxfield Parrish and created by the Tiffany studios. Many many small pieces of glass, iridescent, opaque, all glowing. It was installed in 1916 in this building, at the time the home of Curtis Publishing (Ladies Home Journal, Saturday Evening Post). The building itself is fascinating and beautiful, but I am showing you just the mosaic today.

As a note – there are a lot of pictures on the internet, better than mine – here is its official entry by its owner, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

The mosaic was almost lost to the city about 20 years ago, when its owner died and the heir proposed selling it to a Las Vegas casino. In a complicated transaction with public donations and the cooperation of other beneficiaries under the will, the mosaic became the property of PAFA and is now protected as a historic object.

I noticed some “band-aids” on the mosaic that were not there when I last saw it.

A bit of research told me that construction elsewhere in the building had shaken the structure a year ago and damaged the mosaic. I can’t find details on what the restoration plan is, except that it is being studied for repair. I feel better knowing it is in the care of a museum, at least. Anyway, my pleasure was not diminished by the “band-aids”.

All right, now you’ve seen them. My favorites.

People Walking

These paintings from June, 2017, are done in acrylics, 10″ x 8″.

“Pedestrian” was started during the plein air event I did in Chestnut Hill in June. I couldn’t finish it there so I took it home and ended up with a scene somewhat like the original. I added a person walking along the sidewalk – the painting looked a little lonely without some sign of life.

The second painting came from my head, no reference to the real world. I added a person to it, too, for the same reason as “Pedestrian”.

Plein Air Paintings

I’m not sure if I ever posted these paintings done at the plein air event I attended in early June, 2017. If I did do it, well, here they are again.