Social Anxiety, DoN Brewer

Social Anxiety and Plein Air Painting

by DoN

Since 2014 I have been meeting up with a diverse group of painters coordinated by Robert Bohne, Philadelphia Landscape Painting Meetup, with a focus on Philadelphia post industrial landscape and nature study. Weekly painting sessions with plein air painters, each with their particular easels, brushes and palettes of color,  and art cars filled with gear, gathering together somewhere in the urban landscape. Sunday’s we meet at a designated spot to paint, usually three or four painters will show up, sometimes more, the network of friends keeps growing and morphing. The irony of being a Sunday painter is not lost on me, I miss a lot of social events because of the timing but painting plein air, observing the landscape until the construct and composition is burned into my retina, with other painters is an integration of my emotional state(s) into a practice plan that puts me, as an artist, first on a very long to do list.

Painting landscape, setting up the French easel, laying out some fresh paint, medium and solvents has become routine but with dozens of individual steps and actions I am aware that part of what I’m doing is performance and maintenance. The act of painting landscape is setting up a cone of vision and learning all you can as quickly as possible, synthesizing the colors of the environment by swishing together pigments with solvents onto a surface with brushes; it’s like putting on a play, there is always the feeling of audience, a synesthetic temporal experience of portraying a social construct that feels primitive and deeply profound.

The painting is representative of the experience, time becomes a color in the paint box, a tool mixing colorfully like a brush. For me, it’s about making a picture with moments of light dabbed on the canvas, emulsifying pigments into the colors of the environment as I see them. Within the moment units, like a tache, the brush loaded with acidic tension, are interpersonal experiences of interaction with others and their expectations, less so in nature or park settings, but in public spaces like the Italian Market you’re guaranteed to meet some characters, quick studies in friendliness and communication, a shared experience mixed like pigments on a palette. The act of being gazed on during performance becomes synaesthetically multi-colorful resulting in emotional stains on the artist.

Anxiety is an emotion disorder that is common, like heterosexuality, but not normal; too much is bad, too little is bad. Like finding the perfect structural color mixing pigments, anxieties color conversation with tones of emotions, traumatic and amusing, happy and sad, sweet and romantic; I often get asked where do I show? How much do they cost? Is painting a hobby? How do you make a living? Big questions with no easy answers, the desire to be a dream follower, aspirational authenticity, deep shit that observers are looking for answers to, in random situations, in which I am obviously invested, defining answers in a way that defends the space I’ve claimed, the palette and scale, the medium, the studium and the punctum, providing a value scale from cool to warm so others may assess my worth.

Am I a Sunday painter? While I’m mixing color the atmosphere is tinged with creating value and worth, the color of money, the color of time and space, acting like an artist. It’s a lot to ask. The questions are loaded. Answers come to mind days later in late night re-writes of encounters involving art and money. Up sell? Brush off? Engage in the art of the deal? I’m going to keep painting my moods.

Social anxiety disorder (previously called social phobia): People with social anxiety disorder have a general intense fear of, or anxiety toward, social or performance situations. They worry that actions or behaviors associated with their anxiety will be negatively evaluated by others, leading them to feel embarrassed. This worry often causes people with social anxiety to avoid social situations. Social anxiety disorder can manifest in a range of situations, such as within the workplace or the school environment. – NIMH

The Gleaners, oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″, 2019, DoN Brewer

Join Landscape Painting Philadelphia on Meetup and come outside to paint.

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Robert Bohné, Big Timber

Big Timber, oils, 2019, Robert Bohné

The Artist, Robert Bohné

Many people ask me when I started painting and I often wonder to myself, “When did you stop painting?” Bob Bohné has essentially been an artist his whole life: studying, practicing, teaching, experimenting, drawing, painting, woodworking, making music, coaching, coaxing, and encouraging others to be artists, too. Like me, Bob had a long career in the corporate world, including defending co-workers as a union rep, and balanced work life with his creative drive to someday be an artist, full time. Recently he said to me, “We should treat this like a job, and work on art everyday.” Here’s the thing, Bohné already is driven to work every day, often late into the night, to create artworks that express his passion for fine art with skill and a keen eye; he is an artist. 

Even while working on the railroad, Bohné studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, as well as earning his certificate in arts and aesthetics from the Barnes – de Mazia Program at The Barnes Foundation, and now that he’s retired he has redoubled his efforts to improve on his education and life long practice by making art on a daily basis. By keeping his art pump primed with drawing, painting, teaching and study, the artist is living his most authentic life. The artist’s studio is an ecstatic mess of paints, brushes, canvasses, frames and works in progress; a great lesson I’ve learned from Bob is if I feel the need to clean my art space I’m supposed to be making art.

Exactly five years ago, after a messy major surgery, Bob encouraged me to join him and his plein air painting group and start landscape painting again after a long lapse. Since then we have been exploring and documenting the Philadelphia region by painting outdoors, rain or shine, in the heat and cold, every week, all year. As an organizer, Bohné can detect when a fellow artist needs to be pushed through self built barriers and develops plans to make the creative block walls collapse and allow creativity to flow, dam up overflowing doubt, and create a clear path towards confidence. As a teacher, he offers words of encouragement and simple advice for improvement; sharing and teaching is a great way to improve your own skills, by offering kind and generous critique the artist hones his own craft. As an art collector he seeks to understand what makes an artwork resonate with line, light, space, and color, and like the great Dr. Albert Barnes, he is passionate about balancing artworks and objet d’art in pleasing combinations in order to stimulate his own artistic sensibilities.

In a sweet synchronicity, Robert Bohné is having a one-person art show at Church Street Gallery in West Chester, PA, the gallery is celebrating their fifth anniversary. Bob and I share an art mentor, too, Francis Tucker, a great painter and teacher, who encouraged both of us separately in our different worlds to follow our dreams, to not give up, to practice and learn daily, to be sharing and caring about creativity and the pursuit of beauty, and to know that the practice is it’s own great reward.

Robert Bohné, Church Street Gallery, 12 S Church St., West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Opening Reception: May 3rd, 2019, 5:00pm.

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Renoir, Bathers, Impressionists Eye

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Great Bathers, 1884 – 1887, oil on canvas, 46 3/8″ x 67 1/4″. The Mr. and Mrs. Carroll S. Tyson, Jr., Collection, 1963. Image courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

The Great Bathers

“For three years Renoir wrestled with this work,” notes Jennifer Thompson, the museum’s Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection, who organized the exhibition. “Just how exhaustively, we knew from notes left by Berthe Morisot, but seeing the cross-sections and X-rays taken by our specialists in Conservation has reaffirmed precisely how much he questioned himself and started over, again and again.”

The Great Bathers, Renoir’s post-impressionist masterwork, has just completed a year long restoration, there were shifts in the paint layers that caused shadows on the surface and an old layer of yellowed varnish from a 1940s restoration effort was removed, now the large oil painting glows with the color and light the artist experienced during its creation. The gallery displays a chip of paint that reveals the layers of color and decision making the artist grappled with to make color do his bidding. The flesh painting is lively, dewey, and warm, colors built up over time, layer on layer of colors and white paint; purples, oranges, ochres, are glazed and smoothed with descriptive brushstrokes until the surface of the canvas is structurally, satisfyingly colorful, optically stealthy and atmospherically rich, and texturally, sensually appealing.

Forms wrapped in color fold and twist into space, the shapes and connections resolve into multi-colorful passages of imagination, observation, and meditation, Renoir understands color as a communication device. The contrast of flesh painting, the figures, against landscape painting elements like water, sky, and foliage, is expressively explained with hue and tones from his limited color palette, luscious chords of viridian, cobalt, and warm venetian red describe the landscape atmospherics eloquently; layers of paint, glaze, and pigment are orchestrated with virtuoso brush strokes, color mixtures, and patient periods of thought and time are layers of intellect and genius like an allusive glint of light in peripheral vision.

The painting is squirmy, squishy, wet and warm, the allure of primitiveness, Nature, and the Elements, are narrated with arabesque lines, atmospheric light, and coded color broken into a taxonomic description of painterly skills and problem solving, exploration of shapes in space, and exquisite color and light development. By folding space, time, color, light, line, and shape into a unified, multifaceted holographic explanation of life, the artist speaks in a language without words, color provides the answer to all of the questions. The shifting orthogonal planes are built from layers of color, not a mix on the palette, but the physical gesture of paint application and the temporal Mobius strip of time twisting through the construct like a color form of its own making.

by DoN

The Impressionist’s Eye at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, April 16th – August 18th, 2019

Curator
Jennifer Thompson, the Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection

Social Media
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@philamuseum

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Doris Peltzman, The Red Kimono

The Flowered Kimono, oil on canvas, 32”x 24”, Doris Peltzman

The Flowered Kimono

The Flowered Kimono is a painting that I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks; I first saw the painting during an afternoon  drawing workshop, paintings were arriving for the installation of the Art of the Flower show, at The Philadelphia Sketch Club, it was obvious to me the painting was a triumph, a genius creation, exploring modern concepts and honoring Philly’s heritage as a center of contemporary American art. Over the past weeks I’ve been able to observe the artwork up close, from across the room and peripherally, each observation engages and attracts my view, not just because it’s big and red, but the circumambient atmosphere the painting creates with elements of line, light, space, and color.

Doris Peltzman is a modern artist, following paths trail blazed, a timeline of determined painters making art, Philadelphia style, the artist explores painting, literally following the footsteps of Philly’s best artists. The pursuit of excellence, experiential intent, and drive to understand paint as a communication device connects directly to Eakins, Wagner, Oakley, Willcox Smith, and Wyeth, who walked the cobblestones of Camac Street pursuing their passion generations ago.

The painting is mostly a red field, pyramidal forms meeting at the center of the composition, a hub and spoke, triangular color fields form the cones of textile folds, functionally distorted application of paint conveys narrative forms with nature and flower shapes, vivid color ideas, and decorative explorations of paint with controlled abandon. Expressing the fluidity, luxury, and craft of the kimono, the narrative of the wearer, and power of color is the picture story, but the decorative qualities are enhanced and elevated with structural color, and creative distortion.

Color is balanced with the cool multi-colorful gray, active brush strokes catch the light, against strong, not hot, edges of many reds folding over into shades of colorful purples, orange, cadmium; textile is the subject fact, flesh painting balances the extravagant, billowy, silkiness with nuanced strokes of warm color, lively brushy-ness, and confident application of roles to colors. The painting is exuberant where it needs to be and restrained where it needs to be, purposeful, functional color ways, expressive triangulated shapes, sinuous descriptive lines activating the sense of movement, action and volumetric space feels monumental.

The Flowered Kimono hangs on the ‘Winners’ Wall’ now, First Prize, Art of the Flower 2019, under the historic tall windows of the gallery/studio, dominating the space with clear design devices, controlled color, facile brushwork, and a composition that describes the experience of texture, light, and liveness with color.

Awards and artist reception Sunday, March 24th at 2 PM at The Philadelphia Sketch Club, 235 South Camac Street, Philadelphia PA 19107.

by DoN

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Caitlin McCormack, Paradigm Gallery + Studio

Nobody Gives A Shit, Caitlin McCormack, photo by @thatchinesekid

String Theory

Caitlin McCormack at Paradigm Gallery + Studio

See You All in There

by DoN

Cotton string is a common material found in most homes; string is a flexible structure made from fibers twisted from multiple strands which are then twisted together into a multi-functional tool. Invented about 30,000 years ago, string is used to tie, bind, hang, gather and hold objects in place; we interact with string when we tie our shoes, strum musical instruments, and shoot weapons. Even DNA is twisted strands forming the foundation of being alive in a strange universe; string theory is a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. In essence, we are all made of strings.

Cotton has been used to make string, then textiles, as far back in time as we can imagine; cotton textiles became a desirable fabric during the Renaissance when it was imported from the Far East to Europe. The ability to represent textiles in art became essential to commerce and power, artists became an important resource for the church and aristocracy to convey the qualities and desirability of fine fabrics; in the 14th century the painter Robert Campin was able to represent textiles so realistically that his technique of modeling light, form, and shape of textiles influences artists to the present day.

Contemporary artist Caitlin McCormack uses this common element of daily life to communicate existential information about life and death. Using crochet, weaving, and sewing, the artist strings together ideas like beads of information that connects to concepts related to our very being. Imaginary skeletons, lively creatures, creepy forms, and wordy 3D compositions carry deep thoughts about the structure of nature, time, and memory. Like the lacemakers of old, McCormack toils in her studio creating forms enveloping space and time into whimsical yet frightening sculptural works of art, sometimes working the crochet hook until her fingers bleed.

Stringing sentences, mixing metaphors, and mashing social anxieties and dysfunction into emotional constructs of the strangeness of existence, the artist connects the viewer to aspects of being alive that are difficult to express and comprehend. The handwork and simple materials are clearly evident in the forms created from her imagination; the concepts and social commentary wrap the mind in scratchy threads of consciousness, mindfulness, and thought like a heavy blanket of love and despair.

See You All in There, Caitlin McCormack at Paradigm Gallery + Studio, 746 S 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147, through April 13th, 2019.

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Practice

September 18, 2018

Arnie Segal, sculpture Social Practice Art Social Practice Art is a movement in contemporary art that has been embraced by the Philadelphia art community as a way to communicate with an audience in a unique language of visual constructs, memes, semiotics and activism. Each of these components are the plastic elements of Social Practice Art, […]

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Reproduction

August 23, 2018

Art in the Age of Van Gogh The King of Prussia Mall was empty of shoppers on Thursday morning, quiet at opening time, the corridors of the iconic indoor shopping center are being refurbished, high-end logos on fancy facades line the cement paths that connect the big brand luxury stores, the scraped paint, plastic sheeting, […]

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Look

July 10, 2018

Rosalind Bloom, White Faces, collage and text Look At Us Artworks by Da Vinci Art Alliance members: – Rosalind Bloom: collage, transfer print and mixed media installation – Sarah R. Bloom: photography and mixed media – Colleen Gahrmann: ceramics, sculpture, mixed media and photographic installations – Charlotte Schatz: drawings, prints and sculpture Artist Reception: Sunday July 22nd, from […]

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Rainbow

June 23, 2018

Margaret Gave me a Rainbow, 2:30pm 21 November, 1971, 1971, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Collage of 3-M Color-in-Color photocopy transferred to buff-colored manila paper, gold star, multicolored thread, gelatin silver print, and rayon braid and tassels, hand and machine stitched to green plain weave cotton with gold rayon faille backing. Courtesy of Bruce […]

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Renoir Reconsidered

April 28, 2018

Two Young Girls, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 25 13/16 inches, 1892, Philadelphia Museum of Art Renoir Reconsidered: Plastic Analysis by DoN Brewer Two Young Girls is a vertical oil painting composed of a matrix of radiating lines, curving structural segments, twisted, intertwining, interlocking shapes, multicolorful compartmentalized color, and shimmering, glowing light […]

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