Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Art in 3s - Triptychs

When friends meet me or phone, they often ask what I'm doing... what I'm working on these days. So, here's what I've been doing...

With the Christmas season fast approaching, I am getting together with a few other artists to host a Holiday Open House and Studio Sale. (Particulars and invitations will be sent as we get closer to the date.)

In the interest of having new work to view and buy at Christmastime, I've been working on quite a few small pieces and you, dear reader, will be the first to know.

As of today, I've completed three triptychs from a series I've titled, "Progression." The first from tomato to Bloody Mary, the second from lemon to lemon meringue pie and the third from lime to Margarita.

r atencio-limes-pastel

Now, I'm working on three more triptychs - pomegranate, banana, and avocado - which I'll post as soon as they're finished. What do you think so far? Do you have suggestions for future "Progressions?"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's good enough for Degas...

Question: What do I have in common with Degas (image on left), Cassatt, Rodin and Toulouse-Lautrec? Answer: We all appreciated the vibrant colors and immediacy of sketching/painting with pastels. You may think me a little arrogant to put Atencio in the company of such greats, but in Paris in year 2005, I came as close to M. Degas as I possibly could.

First, I've been enchanted with pastels even before I started art classes. The response of such vivid colors on paper is a thing of beauty. I had two pastel goals while visiting the City of Lights.

The first goal was to go to the D' Orsay Art Museum. It is a beautiful old train station that's been converted to an art museum. It is known for an outstanding collection of Impressionists' art. I went there three times to savor the pastels of Degas, Lautrec, and Redon. The last time was to say good-bye and to plant a wish to see them again one day.

The second goal was to find the little shop that still made the pastels that Degas has used. I had read about La Maison du la Pastel on the internet (where else?) and wanted to find this out-of-the-way shop that was only open on Thursdays from 2-6 PM. I did find it but, alas, it was closed. There was a note on the door. I don't know French, but two-years of Catholic school Latin gave me a rudimentary idea of what was written. It seems the person in charge was next door having a tea.

Bold, American woman (me)walked into the bar and asked for Madam Roche. The waiter had no idea what I wanted. He kept trying to seat me. By a process of elimination, I found Isabelle Roche. Nothing like I expected. She was the young, college trained granddaughter of the chemist, M. Roche, who had worked with Degas to create the pastel sticks as Degas wanted them.

Madam Roche showing pastelsMadam Roche opened the shop, which looked and felt like a typical old Paris warehouse.(Photo on left) She asked what color I wanted. I said, "Gray." From behind her, she pulled out tray after tray of grays... blue gray, red gray, and so it went. I was enthralled and next asked for green. Out came tray after tray of every imaginable green.

I made the mistake of not asking the price. Madam finally brought me back to reality. She said, "These pastels are expensive," and rang up what I had so far. Mon dieux! I left in a financial daze with my carton of beautiful pastels wondering if Degas had experienced the same dazed feeling. Do you suppose we had that in common, too?

Click here to check out the process and colors of Roche pastels

Click here to read a short, interesting history of Roche and Degas

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Artemisia Gentileschi: A Passion for Art

Last year, I was at a museum enjoying the art of Rembrandt and other painters of that era. I came across a classic and beautifully executed floral still life. It was done by a Dutch woman who was unknown to me. It seems that many women artist were lost to a history that denied them a voice. One of these women was a 17th century Italian artist named Artemisia Gentileschi

In her early years, Artemisia was trained by her father Orazio, who was a wonderful artist ala the school of Caravaggio. Later, she was refused entry into any of the art academies and had to rely on private tutoring to advance her skills. As a teenager, her tutor raped her. Her father took him to court and Artemisia would endure a 7-month trial, significant physical torture, and social notoriety. One can only imagine the strength of her character to endure all that.

Her skill and determination would lead to acceptance as the first woman in the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno (Academy of the Arts of Drawing) in Florence. Also, she would become the first female artist to create very large paintings of historical and religious pictures. (Suitable subjects for women were considered to be still life and portrait paintings. )Her work often depicted women as protagonists - as in her bibilical Judith series.

As a matter of contrast in style and female subjects, the image on the left is her father's painting for his Judith series.

In the 17th century, women did not compete with men for art commissions. Yet, Artemisia made her livelihood vying for the same commissions as contemporary male artists.

So, what happened to her in history? Where did she go?

Historically, her work was wrongly attributed to her father and to other male artists. In more recent times, Artemisia has finally been recognized. Now she is referred to “as one of the most accomplished Baroque painters.”

What do you think? Did you know about her? Are you attracted to the Baroque period?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What's in a Name? a FREE gift - that's what.

After a lot of thought, I've decided to create a new website. Oh, I'll keep the one I have for review by galleries and exhibitions. I'll save that site for original landscape, still life and floral works. No PayPal, no direct sales - just gallery level work.

In the new website, I'll put the note cards, ceramics, and prints, which can be purchased directly online. The question is... what to name the new website? This is where YOU come in. I'd like to retain identity of "r-atencio."

One that I am considering is "r-atencio-annex" but I'd really like your input and imagination to help name the site . If I use your suggested name, you'll receive $20.00 OFF on any art or a set of 6 Note Cards FREE!

Click on "comment" at the bottom of this paragraph and give me your suggestion. Can't think of any? You can still vote on your favorite... and thanks for checking in.