Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Gelena Pavlenko: Capturing Floral Beauty


So many friends are proudly posting photos of their flowers that it seemed a perfect art subject for June "...bustin' out all over." (Thank you, Rodgers & Hammerstein) This meant finding an artist whose paintings bring a sense of awe in capturing flowers in all their glory. The perfect artist is Gelena Pavlenko (1969-)



Pavlenko was born in Kyiv,Ukraine and attended the Ukrainian Art Academy. Her inspiration for becoming an artist was nurtured by the beauty she saw in nature. 

Using oil paints on canvas, she creates flowers at the height of their glory; capturing a permanent moment in time for all to enjoy. 



Pavlenko's art is in the permanent collection of several museums, including New York, where she now resides with her husband and son. 



While this blog limits her works to the subject of flowers, she also paints beautiful landscapes and what she categorizes as "Spiritual" (allegorical) paintings.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Frederic Edwin Church: Fame & the Hudson River School

Sometimes on the PBS' Antique Roadshow there will be a pastoral scene of water and a valley. The appraiser will say, "This is from the Hudson River School." However, it wasn't an actual school. It was a group of mid-19th century landscape painters of great talent who were inspired by the area around the Hudson River. It was a matter of artists capturing pastoral scenes which were quickly vanishing. 

Arguably, the most famous painter of that style was Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900). With an eye for drawing detail, he apprenticed for two years with the "school's" founder. By age 20, he sold his first painting for $130 ($4700 in today's dollar!) At age 22, he was elected the youngest member of the National Academy of Design.

 In time, Church would widen his subjects by travel. He not only traveled through the eastern USA, but also went several times to South America. His method would be to sketch all the detail on site and then use these sketches and his memory to recreate large paintings in his studio. It was such a trip with an Arctic explorer that led to his dynamic, "The Icebergs."

His paintings were so large that they were shown with the bottom of the frame on the floor. Viewers paid an entry free and sat on benches to see the entire painting. In this way, Church re-created the view as if looking out the window at the scene. 

Church was a very successful artist, both in recognition 

 and financially. He took his family to Europe and the Middle East where he found more influence in Greece architecture than in the art of Italy and France. On his return, he purchased 18 acres where he supervised the building of a hilltop home ("Olana") and enjoy the magnificent views of the Hudson River. (His home is conserved as the Olana State Historic Site. You can purchase tickets to view his home & studio.*) 

Alas, as often happens with time, Church's art was considered dated. However, post WW2, some 45 years after his passing, the interest in his works would be revived by an exhibit titled, "Hudson River School" at the Art Institute of Chicago. Today, his works sell in the millions.

*(There is an award established by the Olana Partnership in the name of Frederic Church to individuals and organizations that make extraordinary contributions to art and culture.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Nayan and Vaishali: A Perfect Collaboration

Nayan and Vaishali (aka Venus Bird) are East Indian artist and collaborators. Each brings their special skills and training to the art of making miniature paper sculptures. (When referring to "miniatures," their finished sculptures are often less than 1 inch or1.8 cm! No magnifying glasses used.)



Their inspiration starts by observing creatures in their natural environment. Then, it's back to their studio to sketch what they've observed. 



Nayan, with his training as a designer, is well prepared for the exactness of making models. A sketch is first made. This is transferred into layers on watercolor paper which Nayan carefully cuts out to create a 3-dimensional creature. Then, it is Vaishali's contribution as a 3-D animator, to paint the layers in keeping with the depth desired. 



In all, a single tiny sculpture can take as many as 6 hours to complete. One ambitious project was also quite a challenge. It was titled, "365 Day of Miniatures," and included the completion of a bird each day. As if that wasn't enough of a challenge, from 2018 to 2020, they completed the "1000 Feathers Project." Their stated goal was to "... bring awareness about the significance and magnificence of wildlife through art."


While they are known mainly for the birds they've created, here are birds and some of the other animals that seem equally unique and demonstrate their versatility.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Rob Gonsalves: His World of Magic Realism

So interesting to find an artist who combined Dali, Magritte and a bit of Escher into his own unique style. Rob Gonsalves, (1959-2017) did it and his works are immediately identifiable.


Some refer to his works as "surreal," but he felt they were more about "magic realism." The definition of the latter being "creating a realistic view of the world while adding magic elements." (It's often used in literature by writers such as Toni Morrison and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.)





In any case, Gonsalves came to art as a child preferring to draw and paint over any other activity. He especially enjoyed drawing fantastical architecture. This interest would lead to a degree in architecture and work as not only an architect, but also as a trompe l'oeil muralist including stage scenes.

 In 1990, after the enthusiastic reception of his paintings at the Toronto Outdoor Art Festival, he decided to making painting his full-time occupation. It was a good choice as Gonsalves had successful shows throughout the United States and was represented by several galleries.

 His fame continue to grow and led to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, publishing his first book, "Imagine the Night." It was so successful that the publisher would publish his second book, "Imagine a Day." These were followed by, "Imagine a Place" and "Imagine a World."



In a life that seemed magically full of every success an artist could want, Gonsalves lived with a

 darkness that was unimaginable and perhaps, painful. He chose to leave 167 paintings and the books for all of us to enjoy the magic, but for him, he couldn't withstand the grasp of something overpowering.