Sunday, May 4, 2014

Some thoughts About Cave Painting Art

This post was inspired by a Facebook posting about new dating on Cave Paintings.  This twigged my curiosity and I started to investigate.  I read a lot and I viewed many articles on You tube.  There was a symposium on there, that I watched that covered many scientific areas on the topic.  They claimed artistic input but I saw no sign of that.
The general overview seemed to be that Neanderthals did not produce art and the "modern" humans who did...did it for a spiritual purpose that had an altered state of mind aspects.  Seemed rather blanket like for my taste.  But these communities seem to like blanket statements.  Anything that challenges this view, they tend to dismiss.
Well to be fair, there may well have been a spiritual element to some of the paintings:

These are two in that point, with blown paint over top of hands, and dots on and past the animal outlines could be viewed in that light.
They also seemed to intimate that the style of painting was the same for the various time frames they carbon dated the various images around the various caves to.
Well I do not totally agree with that.  There may be some style per age influence that is due to lessons learned over time of doing the paintings, that were passed on, but as a blanket....

These strike me as a variety of artists, with a variety of ability and sophistication of painting knowledge.  Some of these paintings are done on a prepared ground, some used the contours of the cave wall as part of the composition.  On some of the prepared ground paintings, ghosting of other images appear "behind" the main image. (artists today have problems of covering other images on reused boards, so who is to say this prepared ground is not covering even more images?)
Many of the images also seem to depict scenes that would have been happening in life, that had no need of an altered state to compose.

Some of these images are done on the roof of the caves, not the walls.  All are done in dark caves, but some are done in the deepest depths of the caves.  The deepest ones in the most "how did they get here" spots; tended to be the more "spiritual" ones. One study I read suggested that this could be to sight deprivation, and the brain created these images that the person wanted to put down, perhaps viewing it as a vision with some meaning.  For these, I would probably agree with their interpretation. However,
The more sophisticated images though, are not so deep it seems, and would have required quite a bit of time to make.  They also tend to cover only some species of wildlife of the time.  Not a lot of day to day stuff.  This was noted by this panel that they were animals of significance of some sort.  They did not correlate to the findings in the caves of the animals eaten as was first supposed.  The panel went further to assure their listeners that these people did not think like we could they?  WELL, that was where I really took issue.  We are biologically the same but can't think the same way?  Have the same brain but do not think the same way?  Their evidence...humans, biologically modern humans have been around for 150 to 160 thousand years.  Humans have only been producing "art" for 30 to 40 thousand of those years!  What event tripped a world wide change into producing art?  They are stumped.  Some brain change?  Some interaction?  The altered state was thought to have been the cause of this change too; there was even a discussion on what art was and how our definition of what is art has changed and how it could be applied to art back then.  I have an explanation that is dead simple and if they had spoken to artists... they may have got it.
The main thrust of my idea is that ART TAKES TIME.
Back at the beginnings of our origins, survival was an all day all consuming thing!  There would not have been time for artistic endeavors;  all doings would have been survival driven.  They would have been too tired to produce or even think in the artistic line.
There must have come a time though, as the ice age receded, when times got better for humans.  100 plus thousand years ago there was an ice age going on remember. Food and staying warm were the order of the day.  This may have inadvertently given rise to some person who may have been bored picking up a stick, that had been burnt and poking at the cave wall one day while confined to the cave for whatever reason.  This person may have noticed it left a mark there.  What do kids do with chalk or charcoal sticks...they experiment and make more marks.  Or for that matter even before that, they may have made marks in the dirt on the floor.  The point being, the impulse has always been with us.
How can I say that, what proof do I have for that?  The proof are the implements that they made for their survival! It takes a creative turn of mind to come up with the various implements to hunt, fish, make clothes etc.  People do not view this as artistic, but it is creative, and creativity is the basis of artistic endeavors.  When times are tough, creativity goes to making survival more likely.  When times are easier you have the TIME to create paints, painting implements, to even think of making a composition. To experiment, with how to even do it.  There was no big bang moment for artistic ability, it was always there.  Just with a practical bent.
The cave paintings that we have, date to around the "end" of the nasty bit of the ice age and are in regions where the climate was nicer anyway at this time.  They are also in areas that are very easy to survive in.  They are is areas where a person would have TIME.  
People often tell me that they wish that they had my talent.  My response is not flip when I say that everyone has a talent.  They do.  The varieties of talent are what made our ancestors develop civilizations.  Someone who was artistically bent made better fish hooks.  Guy comes along wants one, guy #1 says I will make you one if you give me  a fish!  Trade has now started, civilization has just taken it's first step.
Yup we artists have a lot to answer for and it is probably why over the millennium that when a people were conquered, they were among the ones killed off to keep order.  Imagine where we would be now if that had not been done; that instead of killing artistic minds they harnessed them?  Boggles the mind!!

Till next time,
Happy painting!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Well It is awhile since the Cataracts

I thought I would do an update as to how I am faring with my cataract free eyesight.  I now have my new glasses as I mentioned several posts ago.  Still are fine with them.
Have I noticed any problems since the surgery?  Not really.  My eyes still get tired, but in some ways that may not be a bad thing.  I tend to be a tunnel vision sort, and won't stop something till I am forced to.  So my eyes getting tired is actually a way to save them.
How do I see things?
Very well still.  Because I am no longer looking through a haze, I find that I can "see" the lighting on things much more clearly.  This then results in my being able to work through a photo reference much better, by this I mean:
Photos tend to really have dark shadows, and blown out lights.  Now I am seeing light better, I can paint the proper values for these areas much more easily.

As you can see, details are hard to see in this photo

So, am I still glad I had the surgery?  You bet I am!
Till next time
Happy painting!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Some recent paintings

I have been busy at the easel since I finished up the farm books.
I have been working mostly in acrylics lately.
I choose subjects that I find interesting and challenging. 
Below is the painting "Frosty Morn" a 7x12 inch acrylic painting.
As you can see it is hot off the press so to speak.  These are Bohemian Waxwings, for the birders out there.  They have some red around their faces, this makes them different than the Cedar Waxwings.  Believe it or not, the reference for this painting was taken from my office window.  These guys love Mountain Ash berries and there was a few they had missed from the fall before.  The reference was actually taken in April.  Poor things. As you can tell it was a very cold night for them and everything got covered in frost, including the birds!  I hinted at that fact if you look closely, but was not too obvious about it.  I figured not too many people would realize that, as they sleep birds will get frosted as well as the trees!
The one I am working on now is of Burrowing Owls.  These little guys are so cute!  We see them quite often as we seed and harvest.  they will often run along side the drills or the combine headers!  Not sure if it the sounds that attracts them, or the bugs and critters in the form of mice that is the attraction.  Either way they are fun to watch!

Below is a close up of the one owl I am working on.  They can look quite fierce, though they are not much taller than 6 to 8 inches, and often usurp gopher holes!  

I will post the finished product when it is done.
Till then, Enjoy the warm weather that has finally....come our way!

Recap of 2013 activities!

Hi Everyone!
Been awhile since I was on this blogger.  Just too many irons in the fire I guess!
Been busy though.
Health issues  got in the way, but I am on the mend and hope to be back at full tilt soon.

2013 was a fantastic year really.  Lots of good things happened.  I was made a fellow of the American Artists Professional league!  That was such an honor.  I was juried into many shows, that are listed on my website

  The high point for me was that my husband and I went to Kenya and Tanzania for over two weeks!  Lots of driving around. Lots of new experiences. Lots of sightings of the treasures of Africa.  Made it even more unbelievable that there are those who would destroy the very thing that would make the countries more prosperous! 

Below is the most recent painting I did that was inspired by our trip.  He was a gorgeous fellow and was huge.  I called this painting "Confidence"  It is an acrylic that is 12 x 16.

We were fortunate that we saw all of the "Big Five" as they call them.  This would include the Cape buffalo, the Elephants, Leopards, Lions, and Rhinos.  We were also lucky to see many other animals such as the cheetah, zebra, wildebeest, and crocodiles to name a few!  It was a trip of a lifetime!  I am so glad that after 30 years I finally managed to convince my husband to come with me there!


Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Morning Silhouette" - 12x21 acrylic
This is the latest off of the easel.  I know some will say that it is only a photo effect where you get a silhouette, but when you look into water with bright morning light bouncing off and dazzling the eyes, you really do only see silhouettes.  This is just a rough photo of the piece but you get the idea.  The challenge of it was to have minimal obvious subject matter, but still make the background interesting.  In this case make the water look soothing and calming.
It will appeal to some and not to others.  Like any other work.  This was at low tide and there were tiny bits of sand showing through the water.  Red sand in this case, as we were in PEI.  The bird in the back was actually standing on one of these peeps of sand.  They are actually Greater Yellowlegs and were wading around in the water looking for breakfast.  Nice view to see first thing in the morning!
Till next time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Eye surgery & Painting

    For quite some time I was needing to  have my eyes worked on due to cataracts.  I was really leary of doing this, as I was worried about how it would impact my painting.  Time came though when I needed to do something, as my driving at night became a problem and it was getting harder and harder to see things clearly.
    Now for most people I suppose that what I was seeing was fine, but I am a detail freak and like to see every little thing.  At anyrate, I decided to bite the bullet and go and see what could be done.  Up shot was they were going to replace both eye's lenses, and see if they could correct my severe astigmatism while they were at it.
    Really made me nervous, as I had fears of not seeing properly for what I wanted to do.  Thing was, I live a half hour out of town, so I need to see well enough to drive, and things had reached a crunch point.  So in March I went and had the surgery.  Scary... did not sleep the night before and was really nervous.
    They did one eye (the worst one) first week, and the other eye the following week.  So weird looking out of half a set of glasses for a week.  When I went back for the presurgery check up, I was sitting in the room, trying not to worry, and reading the panels on the walls about cataracts.  One of them said that there was a colour difference that was seen before and after surgery.  I covered my fixed eye and looked at my jeans.... yup they looked the same.  Then I covered the unfixed eye and looked at my jeans.  Wow!!  They were a bright blue!!  No way!  So I look with the other eye, and compared what I saw to the fixed eye.  Sure enough, the fixed eye was seeing colours much more brightly!  The unfixed eye made things appear dull, and muted, not to mention slightly blurry.  I started to feel better about the surgery.
    They checked my eyes to make sure they had an appropriate lens, and them sent me off to have the surgery.  I was still nervous, as I knew what was coming at me this time, but all went well.  Thing is about cataract surgery, it is an instant fix for seeing more clearly.  The other surgeries are not as instantaneous.  I walked out seeing more clearly than I had at any time in my life.  I had to wait two months for my eyes to settle to get a proper reading perscription, but drug store glasses filled the void.  That was great becasue I was taking workshops while all this was going on.  Now to be clear... The optometrist said most people would have been happy with the vision of my corrected eyes,  but after a bit I noticed that some distances were a little blurry.  Remember, I am a detail freak.  So, as you need reading glasses no matter what after cataract surgery, and since I had worn glasses since grade two and felt naked without them; I got progressive glasses that were for reading and corrected the last little bit of blurr that the surgery did not correct.  I am soooo not a flip back and forth with taking glasses off and the putting them on again for close up stuff.  No way!  So me and my new glasses are happy campers and I should be able to not have to buy more glasses for ages, or unless I want a different frames.
    The painting at the top of this was done post surgery, and I see my detail to my hearts content.  My eyes do still tire easily, but that is getting better all the time.  I joked with my husband that I would have pre and post surgery pictures that the colour would be a little different.  Thing is, that is true to some degree, in that my paintings tend to not be as yellow hued!  (On a side note, I mentioned this to my girlfriend; and she replied that her mother had had cataract surgery too.  She dropped her Mom home, and when she got home her Mom phoned her and said...."Did you know my dog was white?!"  Apparently, she had thought her dog was a light tan colour all those years!)
    So for those of you who need eye surgery and are worried about what the results will net as regards to your painting... I say go for it!  I have since spoken to other artists that were in my boat, and they are painting away just fine and seeing just fine too.  Though they tended to be happy with the flipping glasses thing for close work.  But as I say, I'm not overly patient with things like that, and I'm a detail freak.
    Till next time!
    Seeing clearly!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why Juried Shows?

I am the chair person of Lloydminster's Arts Without Borders Fine Art Shows.  One of these is a Juried show. When I have gone around letting people know about our show, and encourage people to enter it; some people have asked me “What is the benefit of entering a juried show?”  I have to say, I was stumped for an answer at first.  So I gave it some thought.  What I came up with is this:

For myself, I am always trying to improve and challenge myself and my art.  Entering a juried show, while you do not very often get direct feedback, you do get feedback of a sort.  If your work gets in, you can look at your work and see what you did that you think got it noticed and in.  If you did not get in, then you compare your work to the ones that did, and try to see what the difference was and try to see the reason.  If one of yours made it and another of yours did not, you can compare them and try to figure out the reason for this.  It is a gage of sorts, as to if you are on the right track with different elements and skills. You have to be objective about your work, and sometimes getting someone else whose opinion you value, to help with the postmortem will help too. You always have to bear in mind though, that one juried show, is not the be all and end all.  The process is subjective, and depends on the mindset of the jurors on that day.  What does not suit one set of jurors, will be awesome for another.  The trick of the process… is to have a longer column of acceptances than rejections.  In that way, you can see if you are improving and or going in the direction that you want to go.  Another thing to bear in mind…enter juried shows that suit your work, or have categories for your type of work.  No sense in trying to compare your apples to another’s oranges!

If you want to see this year's entires of the Arts Without Borders Juried show, they will be on the website ( ) shortly; or you can go to my facebook page, where they are already posted.
Every year we try to get jurors with National and International standing.  They are sent the art images that have signature erased.  They pick the placing images, as well as a Best In Show with a prize of $1000, and we also have a public choice of People's Choice award of $500.  Deadline for entry is always April 15th, and the Festival is always the 2nd or 3rd week in June.  Entry forms are on the website or can be requested from me.  Give it a try!  We take the without borders thing to heart!

Till next time...