Browsing the archives for the Festivals category.


Special Talents

Community, Deafness, Festivals, LowerTown, New Paintings, Painting Demonstrations
Crowds at the 2010 Lower Town Arts & Music Festival

Crowds at the 2010 Lower Town Arts & Music Festival

To give you one small update, I didn’t get awarded the featured artist for the up-coming Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital Arts Ability show which will be this Fall. I consider it an honor to have been invited to submit just the same. There have been other things, however, that have come along that have been even more rewarding.

Sometime shortly before the Lower Town Arts & Music Festival I received a call from Easter Seals West Kentucky art program manager, Darlene Davenport, asking if I’d be interested in providing a workshop for their adult clients sometime in June. I have a soft spot in my heart for Easter Seals having worked at the Chicago Metro Easter Seals for six years about a decade ago. It remains one of my most memorable and rewarding jobs. So in spite of my trepidation I gave Darlene an enthusiastic YES! and scheduled a time to come tour the studio and discuss my eventual workshop.

The Easter Seal adult program here serves adults of all ages from early 20’s and up. Their disabilities run the gamut from cerebral palsy to autism to traumatic brain injury. They participate in special activities such as the art program, as well as attend adult day care. The facility is bright and open with caring, capable staff. It’s a happy place in spite of what one might think given the seriousness of the disabilities seen among their clients. The art program is managed by Darlene and her assistant, Hope Boone. They’re both friendly, welcoming and infuse the small room with a sense of fun, color, and contagious creativity. When I visited, Hope was working with about 8 clients on a project drawing trees with colorful crayons and paints on muslin to be turned into wall hangings. The pieces were tremendously individual, each with its own strengths and personality — tall, skinny trees, trees with movement, trees of every shape. I went around the table and talked with each of the clients, and I knew immediately that the workshop would be a lot of fun if I could come up with a way to accommodate my watercolor style to their abilities.

The workshop I’d been asked to do is part of a grant program through VSA Arts, an international organization where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts. (I happen to be a member and participate in their registry due to my deafness.) Artists are selected to provide workshops with clients developing a collaborative piece of artwork that will then become part of the Easter Seals West Kentucky 5th Annual Heart and Soul Art Celebration. This annual fundraiser features art from clients and local artists, as well the collaborative pieces created through these workshops.

Starting the main fish

Starting the main fish

I decided, after a lot of deliberation, that I would simply sketch out the painting I had in mind and then begin working on it while the clients began painting their own “practice” pieces using watercolor paints that I supplied. My choice of subject was a pool of koi because of their colorful nature and fluid, flowing shapes and movement. I figured everyone could related to these fun fish that don’t rely on a lot of detail. The painting would be all about color and movement and hopefully reflect the fun of the workshop.

Once I’d started the two main fish in the composition, and with the six or so clients busy painting their own fish at the main table, I called individuals up to my easel one at a time and asked them to paint sections of the painting on their own.

A client adds her touches to the painting

A client adds her touches to the painting

I chose the colors and dipped the brush in the paint to ensure the right amount of paint and water, but each person was free to paint their area however they chose and to their level of ability. Lines and detail weren’t so important. Dribbles and drips were allowed and not fussed with. The colors washed on and the painting began to come together in a delicious way. I was touched by each person’s concentration and enthusiasm to be part of the painting. I sensed that something more than a painting exercise was going on. A shift in energy within me had transpired as the painting came to life, as it most assuredly did.

The finished painting and me

The finished painting and me

My worries had been that something meaningful wouldn’t result from my workshop, that I’d lack the ability to communicate or integrate my experience with that of the clients. Would they be up to it? But I needn’t have worried as each of them approached the work with a calm self-assurance. I was the one who was scared, not them.

So, I made some friends who helped me paint some koi in a way that I would not or could not have done on my own. I had one of the best creative days ever and more than anything felt so lucky to have participated. Afterall, it wasn’t just my painting. It became theirs as well, and that’s reflected in the signature I affixed, “Stefanie Graves & Easter Seals Clients.”

"Koi of a Kind" watercolor on paper, 21" X 30"

"Koi of a Kind" watercolor on paper, 21" X 30"

If you’d like to see the finished painting in person and be part of the Heart & Soul Art Celebration, mark you calendar for Thursday, September 16, 6:00pm at Maiden Alley Cinema. Tickets are $20 and can be reserved by calling 443.1200 or 444.9687. I can’t think of a more worthy cause or a better way to spend a Thursday evening this Fall. All proceeds from the art auction benefit Easter Seals Western Kentucky.


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Mesquite Study

Festivals, Mexico, New Paintings, Travel
Mesquite

Mesquite

I’m hoping to get back to posting daily. This month I’ve had too many distractions, and heading into the holidays it threatens to only get worse. Today’s selection is from a reference photo I don’t really remember taking. But I seem to recognize the scene from a route we used to walk into centro in San Miguel that first six months we were there, along a back street that really was only wide enough for one car. There were several mesquites overhanging the street with their horizontal orientation. I like them immensely for their character of jutting branches and sense of age.

This is a “quick and dirty” study that I just breezed into, enjoying applying the alternate cool blues and warm burnt sienna to form the tree, my central figure. The wispy terminal branches were executed with a thin liner brush after using the side of my round to do some dry brush technique to show the density of those tiny twigs at branches’ ends.

I’ll be at Harrah’s in Metropolis again this Sunday for another bazaar, this time having to do with food and art. Last Sunday was their first Holiday Bazaar and attendance wasn’t where they wanted it so they invited us back for the coming Sunday when they hope to have more folks out for this “taste” event. Stop by to see my daily paintings, if you’re in the area, which is what I’ll have on hand for the event.

Mesquite

Watercolor on paper

4.5″ X 5.5″

$50

Contact me for purchase

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Mexican Flowers

Festivals, Figurative, Florals, Mexico, New Paintings, Travel
October Flowers

October Flowers

We love Mexico during the Fall, especially at the end of October when they begin preparations for Day of the Dead. Offrendas begin to go up around town, commemorating deceased family and friends, and the flower vendors around the jardin, the town center, go into full swing. The vendors who sell dried flowers year-round now have a greater variety and more fresh-cut flowers. They especially like marigolds and cocks’ comb, two of the most traditional for the celebrations.

The flower vendors are one of the first people that you notice as you come into the jardin from the west side. They sit on low stools with buckets and buckets of flowers surrounding them and spend the time making intricate baskets filled with dried flowers. The colors and the tableau they create doing their work is unforgettable.

October Flowers

Watercolor on paper

4.5″ X 5.5″

SOLD

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Distractions

Birds, Festivals
Colorful Rooster

Colorful Rooster

This week life has gotten in the way of my daily painting schedule, mostly having to do with art. Over the past ten days I’ve been heavily into re-painting a painting I created this Spring. I’d entered it into a show, actually two shows, without realizing they ran simulainteously. Must have been distracted. Of course it was accepted into both shows, so to make good I agreed to re-paint it for the second show, which they were happy to have me do. I finished it yesterday and shipped it out along with another painting for the show that had been accepted.

Today, Dave was off and wanted to go to the DuQuoin State Fair in southern Illinois. State fairs are a tradition in my family, having gone to the Indana State Fair every year of my childhood. We’d spend the day looking at all the farm animals, checking out the manufacturer’s building, and eating lots of food on a stick. It was much the same year after year, but it was something we looked forward to. Now Garrison Keillor has written an article about state fairs in the latest edition of National Geographic, and I find that my home state State Fair is one of a dying breed, most of them except for the few that have found a way of holding on to their success have gone by the wayside. So we went to DuQuoin and checked out the choices of food on a stick (we selected corndogs for tradition — you can’t beat that) and a lemon shakeup to wash it down. Then we took in the trotters and donated money to the Illinois Gaming Board. We looked at a whole lot of milk cows and saw a competition for the adult division of Western Saddle Riding. I petted a few horses and lamented still this late in life never having owned one.

We ended the day in the sheep barn where we were the only visitors and watched one of the owners shear some of his sheep for their show on Saturday. We found out from him the various breeds that were there and also what the modern technique for sheep castration is. (If you saw Dirty Jobs this week you’ll know why that came up as a question. No, they don’t do it that way, only in the old days. So much for reality TV.)

In any event, we tottled on home at about 3:30pm having decided we’d had enough fair experience for one day. No ferris wheel rides to jangle my fear of heights, no salt water taffy to rid us of fillings and create the need for more. And I brought home a prized souvenir of a large handful of sheep’s wool gifted to me by the sheep farmer who kindly answered my questions. Now I’ll have to find how to card it and spin it.

Today’s painting is from several years ago painted from a rooster in Bali. He was just one of many I saw during that trip and became enchanted by. Appropriate for today’s activities, though there were no roosters. Imagine that. A state fair with no poultry barn. How strange.

Colorful Rooster

Watercolor on paper

6.75″ X 5″

$50

Contact me for purchase

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LowerTown Festival

Community, Festivals, LowerTown, Painting Demonstrations
Painting at the LowerTown Art & Music Festival (photo credit: The Paducah Sun)

Painting at the LowerTown Art & Music Festival (photo credit: The Paducah Sun)

We had an exciting Memorial Day weekend here in Paducah with the LowerTown Arts & Music Festival. I even made the front page (below the fold) of the Paducah Sun with a picture of me painting and some quotes regarding my festival experience. A very nice article that you can read here. This year was orchestrated in a new format than previous years, showcasing local artists instead of bringing in artists from around the country, as is the norm for such events. We faced some challenges in pulling it off so that people weren’t put off by the small number of tents and getting them to circulate through the various galleries in a 9-block area. But the crowds came out in force on Saturday, the weather cooperated with sun and a breeze, and it turned out to be the festival we’d hoped for and then some.

Dave and I had two tents for the first time ever. We borrowed one from one of our LowerTown neighbors along with a set of really nice Propanels from another generous neighbor. And yet another neighbor helped me set up the tents and panels on Friday. That’s what is so great about this place. We all help each other out in big and little ways. People are generous with their time and resources so that you feel supported both philosophically and physically.

Another big change this year was having artists demonstrate their work. I set up a small table in the front of my tent and started a painting, sketching out the image and then beginning the color washes. It was a wonderful way to show the process that goes into creating my watercolors and my technique. I’ve learned from my experience during the Quilt Show that I enjoy painting outside with people wandering by. It’s a bit more challenging to also try to greet people as they come into my tent and make sales. So the painting wasn’t continuous but it still went well and served a purpose.

Not too many sales during the festival, just some small things like sets of note cards and batik star ornaments that Dave has been making. Sunday was literally a washout with torrential rain from morning onward. We struck our tents at 2 o’clock after it was clear that there wasn’t going to be any let up and everyone else along the street was packing up as well. Here’s hoping for better weather throughout the festival next year.

This is just the beginning of what should be a busy summer and fall season in LowerTown. Second Saturdays are in the process of revision, with new and exciting activities in the works throughout LowerTown. We still love it here, in answer to the repeated question about our relocation to Paducah, and are looking forward to a great summer! All the fantastic comments about our work have us jazzed and up-lifted, ready to create new paintings to add to our body of current work. That’s another great contribution from our Paducah community.

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