Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Room with a View

Girl in Eyeglasses is a 20x24 oil by Shirley Fachilla done in open studio.

In my open studio, there’s a wonderful bank of windows. They’re up high; and from them, the view consists of the mechanicals usually hidden on the roof of a large building (vents, heating units and such). These windows let in a silvery north light that we use sometimes instead of artificial floods.
I love those windows. Occasionally, I'll cheat and lower them so I can include them in my paintings as I did here and in Girl in Eyeglasses above.
I think in a painting the view outside the window often isn’t so important. It’s what a window suggests that is… all the possibilities, all the other worlds awaiting us. Oops, now you know, I’m a romantic at heart.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is having a small exhibit about the Romantics of the nineteen century and the windows they included in their canvases. It features painters that aren’t very well known here like Adolph Menzel and includes other more familiar artists like the melancholy romantic, C.D. Friedrich.
Wish I could go to NYC and look out those windows, too.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

They're Going to the Randy Higbee 6 Squared Show!

Where the Grass is Greener 6x6 oil by Shirley Fachilla

I am quite happy to say that these two are on their way to the Randy Higbee Gallery in Costa Mesa, California. They are going to a show composed entirely of 6x6 paintings, and they’re going to be in the company of a lot of other small, square paintings by artists that I very much admire.

Who knows maybe the grass really is greener in California, and they’ll have a really, really good time.

The artists’ reception is April 16 at the Randy Higbee Gallery, 102 Kalmus Drive, Costa Mesa, California. The show runs through May 6.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Almost Home" Revisited

The Daily Paintworks Challenge this week is dedicated to helping the people of Japan. DPW has asked that artists submit a work with the theme of "Home." All work is on the auction block with 100% of the proceeds of each auction going to a charity or non-profit presently helping Japan. Many wonderful paintings have been submitted.
I put up Almost Home originally posted here on this blog. I painted it on an icy twilight looking at the view from my studio window. As I worked, I thought of the comfort and security that's bound up in our idea of home.
I nurture the hope that all those displaced by the tragedy that has engulfed Japan can in time find that comfort and security once more.
Almost Home is a 14x11 oil with a starting bid of $95.00. Visit and see all the entries.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Head of My Enemy

The Head of My Enemy 7x5 oil by Shirley Fachilla

Sicilians are famous for their long memories and slightly less famous for their ceramics which are vibrant in color and strong in design. One of their very traditional ceramic pieces is the “head,” a full-color ceramic human head made into a flower pot. According to the story I was told, a ceramic head always portrays an enemy. Sicilians do not lack for enemies.
Over the centuries, Sicily has been invaded multiple times; unsurprisingly, many of those invaders have made the enemy list. The Spanish invasion and occupation is considered one of the worst. As you might guess, many of those pots, like the little one I painted here, bear Spanish faces, beautiful Spanish faces.
In Sicily, you can find all sorts of heads, big and little, factory-made and hand-crafted. Mine was hand-made in Caltagirone and signed by the artist. It was intended for the tourist trade to be sure; but as discussed earlier, tourist art can find its way into museums. Right now, however, our Sicilian ceramic head is quite at home in our living room.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

People Who Need People

The Amish Way 14x18 oil by Shirley Fachilla

In 2009, Nashville had an exhibit called Paint Made Flesh. I thought it was wonderful with my favorite work being one by Eric Fischl. His paintings often show people in dysfunctional relationships in the suburbs, sort of a John Cheever of visual art. During the exhibit, Eric gave a talk about the future of figurative art, seems that some think figurative painting has had its day.
Eric thinks not, or rather he enjoys painting people so much, he hopes not. He opined that the future of figurative painting lies in compositions of multiple figures. This brings me to The Amish Way above with its five figures. And my rather fragmented thoughts about the subject. Back in the Renaissance and later, multiple figures in paintings were the norm. It seems to me that the solitary figure (other than in portraiture) is more a modern phenomenon. We have gone from Luncheon of the Boating Party to The Scream in short order. Did we stop painting people interacting with others for a reason? I, never being short of opinions myself, have several theories, none with much to back it up and all too long for a blog post.
Suffice it to say, paintings that include more than one figure are more difficult to do. They are harder in terms of composition and simply because they tend to be more complex, people interacting with others… a complexity in art as in life.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Maybe the Last Lincoln

Maybe the Last Lincoln 5x7 oil by Shirley Fachilla

This is my entry in the Daily Paintworks Challenge. This week's was set up by Raymond Logan, one of my favorite daily painters. For those unfamiliar with the "challenge" concept, it's something blog artists do to promote community and to be honest, promote both themselves and other daily painters.
It works like this: an artist will set up a painting opportunity on the web, either an idea (for example, paint something red) or an image (in this instance a photo of Abraham Lincoln). The painter will then issue an invitation to other artists to create and publish on the web their interpretation of the "challenge."
The DPW Challenge changes every Saturday. That's why my Lincoln maybe the last Lincoln... for this particular challenge.
My painting serves another purpose as well. I'm preparing to do several plein air, Civil-War themed paintings. Lincoln is certainly an excellent introduction to the spirit of that time, and the photo Raymond chose of him a wonderful glimpse into the man.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

All the World's a Stage

All the World's a Stage a 20x29 oil by Shirley Fachilla

If all the world was literally a stage, then up-lighting would be a commonplace. But most light, natural or man-made, illuminates from above. Stage footlights are a wonderful exception.
Why wonderful? Because for a painter, up-light changes a subject with a simple relocation of the light source (an easy thing to achieve in a studio). Use up-lighting and the usual shadows disappear. The painter gets to explore the form and shape of their subject in a very different light and thus from a very different perspective.
Seeing the human face in that different light can be equally illuminating for the viewer. Toulouse Lautrec, Degas, and a painter you may have never heard of, Everett Shinn, knew all about that illuminating different view.
No stage lights were involved in my painting just a simple readjustment of a flood in open studio.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Dreaded Artist Statement

A Place at the Table 24x12 oil by Shirley Fachilla

We like to think our work speaks for itself. However, artist statements can be quite important. Did Vermeer really mean for his Milkmaid to be seen as sexy, even promiscuous? And what the heck is the meaning of Botticelli's iconic and beautiful Birth of Venus? Neither Vermeer nor Botticelli explained so we'll never know for sure.
I had to write an artist statement for my painting A Place at the Table, because it was required for the Green Show, but I'm glad that it was because I truly needed to explain myself and it.
So here it is:
The plate, the pond,
The glass, the tree,
the field, the patch of sunlight beneath the chair...
these objects in my painting echo one another in shape and sometimes color. They are meant to draw a connection between our world and the world outside us. They are meant to suggest that we should make a place at our table, in our everyday environment, for the natural world that surrounds us. If we do, perhaps Nature and the world will keep a place at its table for us as well.
The Green Show, Artist Reception, March 6, 3-5 pm, Harpeth Hall, Marnie Sheridan Gallery, 3801 Hobbs Road, Nashville, Tennessee.

Is it too early to send an invitation?

Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...