Sunday, March 22, 2009

Feminine Beauty In All Ages And Shapes

"Magic Act"© J Licsko 
30"x40" oil on canvas

While there is no doubt that the youthful vitality and perfection of a fresh, young woman is held as the ideal inspiration of figure paintings, there is yet something wonderful in the human form at all ages and sizes, either gender.

Many artists have learned much from working with cadavers and that study advanced the art of figure painting.  I was profoundly affected many years ago watching a documentary where a cadaver was being used to show how the nails continue to grow for a time after death.  The hand of what was once last a eighty year old woman was still so magnificently formed, so elegant even long after death, I was overcome with love and respect for the woman an the creative force that made her.

My most interesting model to draw is a woman who is without argument obese.  Her roundness creates wonderful lines. Her bulk drapes like fabric over her chair.  As much as I relish drawing her corpulence, it is only her facial expression that turns me off.  Her many years as an artist's model has come to be a routine, dreaded job.  Her boredom comes through on her face which improves only slightly when she falls asleep.

Tassajara is a favorite place in central California.  It is a Buddhist monastery that  in the summer includes guests and becomes a hot springs resort. The men and women are separated with two wooden bath houses beside a shallow river.  From the women's side I have spent many lazy days taking in the beauty of nature left unimproved, birds sing, the sounds of the  water running by, and the constant parade of women, young to old, perfect in shape to those ravaged by child birth, and perhaps lack of care, moving from the sunning deck, to hot sulfur water pool, then the river.  Warmed by both the sun and the warm water, these relaxed forms take on lovely harmonious shapes with one another.  All female forms including the woman who had replaced her missing breast with a finely detailed tattoo of morning glories across her chest, represent the divine feminine and prove beauty is everywhere.
Today the muse comes from an unexpected source - a blog called Every Photo Tells a Story.  My first visit.  The author of this blog offers a new vision every day to inspire the creatively inclined.  I recommend it. Instantly, upon seeing today's prompt, the drawing of an elegant female figure defined by vines and flowers by Laura Cannon, Larabird Art, I was taken back to my experiences observing and the creation of art inspired by the female figure.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Still Life - A Woman's View

"The Pursuit of Pleasure"
© J Licsko 6"x8" oil on canvas

The early still life in classical paintings often illustrated abundance.  Magnificent paintings of a cornucopias, fruits and vegetables spilling out, and others with pheasants and trout laid out, prizes from a successful hunt, promising a wonderful feast were a typical theme.  The best were done by the 17th century Dutch Masters.   See Pieter Claesz's Turkey Pie.   
For a modern master of still life checkout James Neil Hollingsworth.

My still life paintings frequently celebrate modern woman as both hunter and gatherer.  We can choose to be self -sufficient. We can earn well enough to get what we want. We don't need to ask permission, and we can write our own checks. 

Women love to shop.  It is the equivalent of the male hunting experience.   It's the act of shopping and all the sensory stimulation that goes with it that makes it one of our favorite pastimes.   There is a reason that retailers send even the most modest purchase in a lovely bag. They understand it makes us feel good. Even when we get what we want, it wont be long before we will want to do it again. We want the experience, the hunt, the bagging, the triumphant return with our symbols of abundance laid out at home for our satisfaction. 

This little still life "The Pursuit of Pleasure" was a joy to paint. I get pleasure from the bags, the tissue, and making the leopard scarf appear sheer, more than actual shopping. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Artists Thrive On The Right Side of The Brain

Both Sides of the Fence
© Adam Licsko  oil on canvas 24"x36"

"Adam shows good drawing skills but he seems to lack good color sense."  For young artist/parents his second grade report card message was a stab in the heart.  

As all mothers, I was so proud of everything he did.  He and I would spend hours together drawing and coloring.  When he entered "the system",  he soon showed himself to be selective with his attention.  That remained the same through all his schooling.  I tried to push Adam to conform wanting him to do well.  I now know that I was hoping to redeem my own poor academic achievements through him.  It didn't work.  Eventually, I could see that no matter what I wanted, his strong will to be himself was going to win. I backed off.

It took me half a lifetime to undo the damage done to me by the education system.  Luckily, Adam was raised within a family that recognized he was not deficient, just different.  We adjusted.  I am proud to send you to his blog to show that if right brained people are allowed to be themselves, they will shine.  Adam Licsko paintings are prized by private and corporate collectors.  Not to brag, but to illustrate an important point, he is also an accomplished musician and inventor.  He had his first US patent before he was thirty.

My reason for bringing this up is that there are parents everywhere feeling obliged to force systematic education on children who will never be suited to what's being served.  As yet our education style does not accommodate all types of beings, only those who are logical, practical, "reality" based, often referred to as "left brained." "Right brainers" are said to be risk takers, impetuous, good problem solvers, kinesthetic. They often become dancers, musicians, artists.

As parents and as a society, we must do more to encourage the "right brained" among us. They are the visionaries, the creative leaders who will inspire our future culture.  If you know a young person having difficulties not being able to conform to the left brained education, please do what you can to encourage them.  Parents, if you cannot provide alternative sources of education, at least, make sure they have some access to the arts, and sports.  Unconditional love, understanding, acceptance, and patience will go a long way to ensuring the brightest future, security, and mental health of your child.  Above all, relax.  Enjoy them, they are a gift. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

You Are Worth The Time

© J Licsko 06, 20"x 40" 
oil on canvas

     Outside obligations can be overwhelming, and perhaps I should add to my rule # 7 "always say yes".  I should add " but sometimes saying no is necessary, especially if it conflicts with rule # 14 give your self the gift of selfishness".
      My muse was bored with me.  Not much of my own creative work going on. The musts overtook the wants.
     This morning my dear friend Victoria Lyons, the creator of beautiful jewelry, sent me a YouTube video You Are Worth The Time. Written and produced by Jan Phillips, it was just what I needed.  Once again, my muse arrived in an unexpected form.  Thank you Victoria and Jan!
     I am passing on this inspiration to you, and will then turn off my computer. A fresh canvas awaits.