George Washington Parkway and Painting

Potomac River

Potomac River

Tonight, after work I decided to go for a nice bike ride. I rode down to the George Washington Parkway which is easily accessible from Rosslyn to Mount Vernon Virginia. I hit the GW later than I wanted, but the weather was so beautiful for a ride it didn’t matter. I only cycled about 14-17 miles; it was heaven.

The mud flats along the edge of the Potomac River were exposed and the herons, egrets (large and smaller ones) and gulls were everywhere. It was so beautiful. If you click on the picture you can (I hope) see the great heron that was feeding.

And Painting…

Next Friday classes start again and I am itching for them! Robert Liberace will be teaching oil painting in the evening session. I haven’t painted since the workshop in Marshfield, MA in August. I have kept a bit of a hand in things by continuing to draw and to work on my silverpoint. I am starting to plan for Ireland next year. Robert Liberace is going there for two weeks to host a workshop. I don’t know if it’s primarily plein aire (in which case I would be a baseline beginner) or figure or both. Either way I am really excited about it. Sounds like several friends from class might attend as well.

This past weekend Alexandria hosted an art festival. Most of the work was, um different (martini glasses with rhinestones glued to the surface, photos on canvas, some intresting acrylic work with tons of modelling paste). Jewelry and some kinetic sculpture as well as acrylic sculptures with bands of ribbons of colored acrylic or well ribbon. Most was very different and unusual.

The highlight of the art festival was seeing David Oleski’s work. Last time I saw his work in person was when he was carried by a gallery on King Street (its now closed)…I loved that gallery-it was like visiting a museum of Jacob Collins’ students from the Water Street Atelier. Amy from the Principle Gallery told me that a lot of his student’s had work at the gallery (so it wasn’t just me thinking that). Oh if only I’d purchased some of those works then, It makes my inner collector weep.


“You need a room with no view so imagination can meet memory in the dark.” Annie Dillard, from The writing Life.

I emailed a friend this quote, he loves Annie’s work and I thought he’d would enjoy it. I found it in one of Robert Genn’s Twice Weekly Letters. I had also forwarded him a copy Mr. Genn’s letter so he could read it. In that particular letter, Robert Genn mentions telling his students to paint at least 100 paintings and then talk to him.

The talk to me after a hundred paintings quip made me laugh. I knew a painter who’d been told this as a student. It incensed him and even today he still gets upset when he relates that story. He’s a good artist but I wonder where things would have gone had he followed through…the road less traveled.

I always thought being told to do a task and return when finished was a way for a teacher to figure out if you were serious about learning. It’s a way to separate the men from the boys (so to speak). If you’re serious about art, you will paint and the painting teaches you.

So my quandary, I want to paint more, but my condo is small and the only two places to paint are in the living room right next to my kitchen or in the bedroom. Neither are ideal since many of the components in oil paints are toxic I am limiting my art to things that are safe to have in the living area. If I am going to be serious about painting and learning how to paint, I need to be painting.

The other problem I am have (which isn’t helping) is that I am frustrated. I know what I see but I still feel like I don’t know the process that allows me to build the paint background/structure that lets me make that mark to look that way. I watch Duane Keiser’s videos online, watch Rob’s demos and I sometimes think I know where they are going but I can’t seem to get there. Maybe I start with the end insight instead of realizing that it’s a process (that may or may not work) but may change. Or maybe I am just thinking too much -instead of painting. I think even a terrible painting can teach you something.

One response to “George Washington Parkway and Painting

  1. How delicate you are since you moved from out west to DC! Here we translate “interesting” into “craptacular.”

    I could kill whomever started that craze with gluing “gems” to glass, glasses, and mirrors… it makes art shows unbearable now. And yes, sadly, like West Nile Virus, those things show up in our art shows. =(

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