Thursday, December 4, 2014

In the Studio: December 4, 2014

The studio is becoming a busy and crowded space!
I am preparing for two shows in January, 2015.

Lower right is an art class demo from Omaha, Nebraska a few months back. It is a 36 x 36 oil, untouched from the initial session. It was a very nice start (part of the class lesson that day).

Upper right is a completed 40 x 40 oil that has been through many, many transformations and finally ending in success.

Center is another oil, 48 x 48, that went from 'good enough - finished' to something more dramatic and appealing. It is almost complete after going through a complete metamorphosis in a dramatic fashion. Before I cleaned off the painting palette for the day, I took those 15ish colors and quickly applied them in an overall fashion to the entire painting, changing palette, contrasts, composition and the trunk patterns. It developed into a new start over what was a finished oil and I'm very happy with the new result. Very little is left to do here.

Bottom left: a 36 x 48 oil after one session. It has great possibilities and I'm looking forward to following where it takes me next.

Upper left is a 48 x 72 oil that is taken from the small oil on the bottom right. These two oils are a perfect representation of where a great start can take you. All the information I need for that 7 foot oil is right there in the smaller demo. 

The PACE Center in Parker, CO will have what is essentially a retrospective of my works in various mediums: oil, pastel, monotypes and collage. There will be a catalog of the exhibit as well.  More information on that mid-January opening will follow.

I'm excited to announce that my Houston gallery of many years is expanding into a new space in a very prestigious part of the city, January of 2015. The new gallery name will be Arden's River Oaks and the grand opening date is yet to be announced. I'll have a number of new works including the 4 x 7 in progress here.

Enjoy the holiday season!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Art Workshop: October 2014 Marshfield, MA

I held a Making it Fine Art Workshop in Marshfield, MA. sponsored by the North River Arts Society.

There was a Friday night demo in pastel and I worked on an oil Sat and Sun.

It was an amazing group of artists and our workshop was held in an historic building occupied by the Arts Society. We experimented, had small to large successes some remarkable breakthroughs! Great plans were made for going forward in our works.

It looks like I'll be back in May for classes again. Can't wait!

Thank you for the fond memories and your many kindnesses.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Grateful Notices: Yellows at the Creek IV

Yellows at the Creek
Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches
Private collection, Houston, TX

This is an imaginary scene, first made as a pair of pastels. I wanted a composition that was a fall color surround with a glowing stream. In some earlier versions there was a whiter bit of sky at the top, but here I decided the stream would be the only source of bright light. As the oil proceeded I noticed a nice effect coming of the brush. It was something that created a soft surface in the grasses, so I kept with it and flattened the background trees a bit more. Still, the overall effect is softer than the other oil versions, more pastel-like and it accentuates the warm colors enveloping everything.

Pardon the less than optimal reproduction here. Now I have all my artworks shot professionally and the difference well worth the effort.

This painting was purchased as a birthday gift, a great honor.
Thank you!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Video: One Year in 40 Seconds

something nice....

One Year in 40 Seconds
Eirik Solheim

More information
You'll learn how the video was made and get links to download the HD-version and all the images.

Art Heals and Hopes: WW I and the Berlin Wall Anniversaries

There were two extraordinary anniversaries this month, World War I and the fall of the Berlin Wall. These were great human tragedies of a size that is difficult to imagine.

Both of these events were creations of men, failed ideas that affected millions of people, destroying lives, families and entire countries.

Berlin's Wall of Light
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the artists Christopher and Marc Bauder created a border of lights called the “Lichtgrenze.”
by: NY Times, Erik Olsen, Nov. 8, 2014

WW I Memorial at the Tower of London, England
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, marking one hundred years since the first full day of Britain's involvement in the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies will progressively fill the Tower's famous moat over the summer. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war.

NBC video by Brian Williams
More information from the Tower of London website

Today we can see these catastrophes in a new way.
These historic dates are commemorated with artists as the creators and a new army of people to build the tributes.

From the waste and wreckage is a hopeful and beautiful vision for a better world.

John Steinbeck said,:
“All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal.”

Followed by the British politician Tony Benn's quote,:
“All war represents a failure of diplomacy.”

Here is a poster by Jean-Michel Folon that I will forever remember. Perhaps it is the answer.
Communication is the Beginning of Understanding

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Video: Blind Artist for Last 25 Years Making Great Artworks, Inspiring!

Artist Sargy Mann has been blind for the last 25 years

From the BBC, 24 October 2014
Video journalists: James Dowd & Matt Margrett

Sargy Mann has been painting all of his professional life, first as a teacher and later as a professional artist. In his mid-30s he developed cataracts on both eyes, eventually leading to total blindness. He continued to paint.

Twenty-five years later, Sargy's work is highly sought-after by collectors, with paintings regularly selling for upward of £50,000 (US$80,000).

He spoke to BBC News about his life and gave an insight into how he continues to work.

From the video:

"I had to sort of reinvent painting for myself. It seems sort of more or less impossible but if you're just determined to keep going, you know you get used to that.

Because if your subject is your own experience, then as long as you're having an experience you've got a subject. And that turns out to be true even into total blindness."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Grateful Notices: Autumn Verticals commissioned oil on canvas

Commissioned work:
Autumn Verticals
Oil on canvas, 32 x 40 inches
Private collection, Seattle, WA

I always enjoy commission work. I am usually working with a new client that obviously likes what I do, so my job is to do my best work and thrill myself. If I am happy the client will likely feel the same way.

A commission is the opportunity to go further in any variety of ways, using a number of strategies to create a great, new work. More or less complex? More monochromatic or open the color up? Find ways to increase the drama? The studio is full of possibilities.

The client and I are excited about the possible outcome, that finished work on the wall. The entire process is a delicious one for me. A bit of risk on the high wire and the freedom to make something wonderful.

I did a larger version a year ago. This client wanted something close to that look but allowed me to try new things. So this time it's a bit of the aspens or birches without as many of the lighter tree trunk colors. The foreground trees are separated from the background in this version as well. It is less realistic, but this increased the contrast and depth. This separation freed the colors as well, allowing the vertical trunks to be rendered in a variety of deeper blues, purples, aquas and greens. The colors are almost like the paints sitting on the studio palette - a delight to see.

It was a bit sad to have it leave the studio where it had been entertaining me for weeks.

Thank you for placing it your lovely home!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Workshop: Omaha, Nebraska October 18-19, 2014

I was in Omaha the weekend of Oct 18-19 for my Making it Fine Art Workshop. We had a grand time with ideas and paints flying through the air! There were breakthroughs and blast offs. It was a great weekend. Thanks to all that came and for your gracious hospitality.

A special thanks to the Beatrice Art Guild and their benefactors for sponsoring this workshop.

Pictured above are the wonderful workshop participants and below is my 36 x 36 oil demo in progress from that weekend. It is a smaller, cropped version of a larger oil completed some weeks earlier, Field with the Red Tree, 36 x 60.

Demo from the art workshop. Down the Meadow
oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches

Monday, October 27, 2014

Old Masters After 80, some people don’t retire. They reign.

From the NY Times Sunday, Oct 26, 2014
Interviews by Camille Sweeney, photographs by Erik Madigan Heck

View the entire article here with more remarkable people and their comments about careers and aging.

Christopher Plummer, actor, 84, at his home in Connecticut.

In 2012, Plummer won the Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role in ‘‘Beginners,’’ making him the oldest actor to win the award.

What has surprised you the most about being your age?

Well, the fact that there were no surprises surprised me. I don’t feel any older now or less flexible than I did when I was 60 or 55. It just goes on.

Was this information that was passed along to you, or did you have to find it out yourself?

Well, most of my contemporaries and friends have kicked the bucket. An awful lot of them are gone. But the ones whom I admired, for instance John Gielgud, was working when he was 96. And I remember thinking, Good God, that’s amazing.

I keep hearing that staying in shape is crucial past a certain age. Anything else?

Yes. And so is doing the work. It uplifts you. The idea that you’re doing what you love. It’s very important. It’s very sad that most people in the world are not happy with their lot or with their jobs and they can’t wait to retire. And when they retire, it’s like death. . . . They sit at home and watch the television. And that is death. I think you’ve got to continue. We never retire. We shouldn’t retire. Not in our profession. There’s no such thing. We want to drop dead onstage. That would be a nice theatrical way to go.

Ellsworth Kelly, artist, 91, at his studio in Spencertown, N.Y.
Last year, President Obama presented Kelly with the National Medal of Arts.

What’s different about your life now that you’re older?

When I was 79, I asked my doctor, ‘‘I’m 79 and you say I’m in good health, what should I expect from the 80s?’’ And he said: ‘‘If you haven’t got any of the Mayo diseases, you’re pretty good. You can slide right through.’’ And I said, ‘‘What about the 90s?’’ And he said, ‘‘Well . . . we’ll talk about that.’’ But I didn’t sail through exactly. What happened five years ago is I discovered that painting with turpentine, which I’ve been doing since the 1940s, had ruined my lungs. So I’ve been on oxygen ever since.

Any surprises?

I don’t travel now. That’s the big thing. But I’m here [in Columbia County, N.Y.], and I love it. Each year I’m very surprised by the color. . . . It’s one thing about getting older, you see more. . . . Everyday I’m continuing to see new things. That’s why there are new paintings.

What are your days like now?

I’m in the studio everyday. I draw a lot. . . . I chose plants because I knew I could draw plants forever. I want to work like nature works. I want to understand the growth of plants and the dead leaves falling. Oh, how I connect with that!

New Work: Field with the Red Tree, oil on canvas 36 x 60

Field with the Red Tree
Oil on canvas, 36 x 60 inches

I'm doing a workshop in the Lincoln, NE metro and I wanted a photo of the area for a promo. I came across a small photo of a local golf course and added it to the copy. After seeing this photo a few times, I felt compelled to try it out as an oil.

I was feeling ambitious so I got a five for canvas and went to work. It's a simple line of trees in a field but the idea is to make it compelling. Thrilling.

The green fairway had to go so I opted for a glowing, yellow field without as much foreground. I liked the way the trees were in shadow on the right but I made them more pronounced here, adding to the depth. 

From there it was a matter of doing interesting things with the sloping tree line. I noted a number of different tree shapes when I sketched it in, but when I was about to finish the oil, all those trees were too busy. I combined most of the individual trees, making masses of trees in the back. Instantly I had more depth and the opportunity to bring in some really interesting colors and effects. Once those colors were in, I saw the chance to take the entire painting up chromatically. That was the fun part, making the colors more intense and trying new combinations.

It became much more interesting with a stronger presence. I also like how various parts of the canvas shimmer and glow, a result of taking the work further with some unexpected colors and getting interesting results.

I think I got a pretty good score on that hole. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

New Work: Fall Arrayed Oil on canvas 30 x 40

Fall Arrayed
Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

This canvas was started six years ago, perhaps more. I couldn't get the hang of it at the time. It didn't have much going for it and I didn't have any stimulating ideas to move forward with. It was in a stack of potentially OK canvases that I keep close by.

Fortunately, we grow as artists. So from time to time, I would go through that stack of unfinished oils with a more experienced eye. Occasionally I would spot an oil that I could move forward with.

In this case, it was a simple matter of adding more slope. The original version was too flat. There are a lot of trees represented here and they all had the same shape. So I began to round off a number of them and at the same time I was using a variety of colors, making the oranges, golds and green more complex. Other trees became a line of smaller shapes in the far background against the sky.

I kept trying new blues, pinks and purples in the sky - not completely covering each color until I got an interesting, glowing result. Behind the trees I did the same with the blues, making more iridescence in the dark shadows. That really set off the brighter trees in the foreground.

As I was working on the other parts of the canvas, I was using color on color combinations to the foreground as well. At times the ground was brighter, so I took the trees further, etc. I simply kept trying strategies that made the painting more interesting and powerful.

30 x 40 oils are like small sketches to me, but this oil packs a punch. I'm going to consider a much larger versionv

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Work: View through the Orange and Red Woods

View through the Orange and Red Woods
oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches

In this oil I kept working to increase the drama. It went through many permutations with each one becoming simpler and brighter. In the end, it was the use of stronger contrasts that brought all the colors together harmoniously and at the same time, intensified and enriched each one.

Note the greens. Once they went it, it made the orange to yellow palette sing!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Grateful Notices: Bright Encounter, pastel

Bright Encounter
Pastel on sanded paper, 15 x 15 3/8
Private collection, Ohio

Also available as a limited edition giclee print in three sizes

A few years ago, I began to notice the works of Casey Klahn. He is doing some seriously good pastel works with Very Good and thoughtful color. I wanted to spend some time with him, so we cooked up a workshop for him in Denver, my home.

He had a great turnout and I was in the back of the room with my pastels. At the start of the day, I began an image of trees and a creek - something I was comfortable doing. I didn't have a photo but it wasn't necessary. The start went really well and we stopped for lunch. On my return I realized my start could use a lot more punch or interest. The idea of the class was to break some new ground after all, so it gave it a shot and totally ruined the nice start I had before lunch.

What to do? 

I turned it upside down, filled in some of the awful areas with color and something new emerged! It was this field with a creek at the top. In short order, this very interesting image emerged.

I couldn't make the yellow field work, so I grabbed a color that was not already in the drawing, a pink. I had no ideal what it would do, but it was worth a chance. Sweet!

It needed more, so looking around the room, I stole a red that Casey was using in one of his works for my trees at the top. It worked nicely and with a few tweaks here and there, the pastel was finished.

You would think I knew what I was doing in the back of the room. 


Monday, October 13, 2014

Workshop: Making it Fine Art Workshop Kansas City, Missouri Feb. 7-8, 2015

View through the Orange and Red Woods
oil on canvas 40 X 40

Making it Fine Art Workshop
Kansas City, Missouri

info flyer newsletter info version
Sat and Sun, Feb. 7-8, 2015
Studio of Kirsten McGannon
Hobbs Building|
1427 W. 9th Street
Suite 402
Kansas City, Missouri, 64101

After the Sunday class, there will be a free lecture / book signing of Ken's new book, Manifesting 123 and you don't need #3. The lecture is open to the public.

This workshop will focus on strategies for making better paintings, going to new places in your work and making fine art.

$290. per person
Open to artists at all skill levels and limited to 15 participants

To register:
Kirsten McGannon 816-213-1075
or pay by secure pay pal

Workshop: Making it Fine Art Workshop, Massachusetts Oct 24-26 2014

Gold Progression, oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

Making it Fine Art Workshop
Marshfield, Massachusetts info flyer
Only 2 spots left

Friday, Oct 24, Painting demo open to the public, 7pm

Saturday and Sunday October 25-26

After the Sunday class, there will be a free lecture / book signing of Ken's new book, Manifesting 123 and you don't need #3. The lecture is open to the public.

Sponsored by the North River Arts Society. This 'workshop will focus on strategies for making better paintings, going to new places in your work and making fine art.

$250 for NRAS members. Non–members, $290.
Limited to 15 participants

To register: Contact: Laura Harvey or
781-837-8091 (email preferred)

Workshop: Making it Fine Art Workshop Beatrice, Nebraska Oct 18-19

Field with the Red Tree
oil on canvas, 36 x 60 inches

Making it Fine Art Workshop
Beatrice, Nebraska info / flyer
Only one spot left
Lincoln, NE Metro
Saturday-Sunday, October 18-19 9-4pm
Price $150

Sponsored by the Beatrice Art Guild. This is a grant funded workshop to provide art instruction to rural Nebraska. The class is limited to 15 participants.

Places can be reserved by contacting Deb Monfelt 412-239-6768 415 N. 6th WYMORE NE 68466

After the Sunday class, there will be a free lecture / book signing of Ken's new book, Manifesting 123 and you don't need #3.
The lecture is open to the public

Friday, October 10, 2014

Three Short Films about Peace by Errol Morris

Three Short Films about Peace by Errol Morris
Three parts, 49:34 minutes

"They deposed a dictator, helped defeat Communism and started a movement to end famine. In this NY Times Op-Docs series, the Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee, the former Polish president Lech Walesa and the rocker Bob Geldof talk about their campaigns for peace. Read the Director’s Statement on the page for more information.

It is very difficult to be a successful artist when there is no peace. Being an artist and purchasing artworks is a luxury and a side-effect of living in a peaceful environment. Yes, artists work in war zones, but survival is the priority, not acquisitions. We are dependent on so many for peace and we stand on the shoulders of millions that came before us.

This is a straight-forward and thoughtful film. It's like talking to a neighbor who has the most amazing story to tell.

It's good to see Lech Walesa again. I had been wondering about him. I wasn't aware of Ms. Gbowee but the two of them received the Nobel Prize for Peace. They were both at the center of impossible change in their countries, ordinary people with simple wisdom that moved mountains. Geldof had a singular idea that touched millions of lives.

As artists, we make moves on our canvases, paper, clay, etc and trick the eye. We get a lot of credit for it and I've learned to just say thank you and make more.

Sometimes we can move mountains. It takes thought and a lot of moves as well. I think the artist and citizen of the world in you will appreciate this.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Grateful Notices: Barn at the Edge of the Woods

pastel 15 1/4 x 19 1/8

It just occurred to me that I was traveling in Vermont with friends on my 60th birthday when I took this photo. Almost four years later to the day, it has sold and here it is on the blog.

I kept this pastel in the studio because it was still informing my other artworks. It is something I have been doing for years - hanging onto my better works until I can do art at that level with ease.

When I was an art dealer years ago, an artist would occasionally bring a work into the gallery that was far better than they usually do. I would make the suggestion that they take it back to the studio and use it as the high bar, the standard for the next works to come. Many of us find it very helpful.

Also, I have kept a number of works that represented artistic breakthroughs at the time. These works remind me to keep pushing forward and take more risks. There are a number of them in my home on the walls and some in storage. Good thing I did, because they will all be put to use.

I have just been invited to present a retrospective of my works at the Parker Arts Culture and Events Center: PACE, from January through March of 2015. It is a real honor to be featured in this amazing building dedicated to the arts. More information on that will follow soon.

Enjoy the glorious fall,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sculpture Made from Paper Video

Remarkable. Not at all what it seems....

Li Hongbo's mesmerizing sculptures are currently on view at Klein Sun Gallery in New York. After years of trial and error, he's perfected his method of layering thousands of sheets of paper and carving them into busts, replicas of nature and human forms.

Friday, August 8, 2014

New Work: "Yellow with Red Insisting", Oil on canvas 30 x 40 inches

Yellow with Red Insisting    Oil on canvas 30 x 40 inches

This oil was done as a demonstration at my Making it Fine Art Workshop in Halibut Cove, Alaska. map

I wanted to do something expressive that would be dramatic and elegant. The paint went on thick and I used some greys, adding them right into the yellows at the right.

Since the sun doesn't set until 11:30 in the summer, I used the late hour to do a second session before midnight. The next morning I got in a third session and put in some of the reds at the left.

After the workshop was done, the painting had to dry before it could be shipped back to my Colorado studio. After it arrived today I cut in the sky at the upper right and added purples and blues behind the trees on the right. A small amount of work was done on the field and the oil was complete.

Here's a photo of the fabulous setting where the workshop was held. I hope to get back to that slice of heaven again very soon!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

New Work: Fall Begins Oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches

Fall Begins  Oil on canvas, 30 x 30 inches

This oil was begun as a painting demonstration during my Art Workshop in Steamboat Springs last month. I really enjoyed going after this with full color. The sky and the colors behind the trees keep things organized, a real necessity here. 

Check out my website Workshop page for current listings and information for private lessons.

Monday, August 4, 2014

In the Studio August 4, 2014

There is a lot going on in the studio today.

The 30 x 40 oil, lower left is complete: Yellows with Reds Insisting
The 30 x 30 on the easel is also complete: Fall Begins

The 48 x 48 oil on the upper left is going through more changes. At one time it was all yellow trees, now telling what will happen next, but it keeps going through stages of getting better and more interesting along the way.

The 30 x 40 oil on the right easel is just about complete... it is there to be reviewed for the next few days.

I'll be starting in again on yellow and orange 4 x 5 foot oil on the floor, right. Can't wait!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Grateful Notices: On a Saturday Afternoon, oil on canvas

On a Saturday Afternoon, oil on canvas 30 x 30 inches

This oil is a smaller, cropped version of the same cloudscape I have done a few times now. The larger versions are 60 and 72 inch horizontals.

I Really Like this array of clouds. This particular version was started in one of my workshops and over the last few months it has been my task and delight to make it stronger and more attractive with every painting session. I thought it was finished a couple of times but after viewing it for a few days I knew it could be a better painting. Just good enough is not thrilling or satisfying.  

My good friend Carol was in the studio this week and watched a part of my last session as some of the tastiest colors were added.  It was great fun to push the color when she was there and she decided to purchase it for her collection.

Thank you so much!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Making it Fine Art" Workshop Schedule 2014

Alaska Workshop, Stillwater Cove  July 2014

In Ken's "Making it Fine Art" workshops, new artistic paths are offered as well as strategies for making fine art. It is an inspirational weekend with information that will last you for a lifetime.

The feedback from the "Making it Fine Art" Workshops has been very positive. People are saying they are getting much more than they expected and for many, a real boost to their careers. Some have experienced tremendous breakthroughs. More info on the Workshop web page

For those interested, at the end of each weekend workshop Ken will give a free lecture / book signing of his new book, Manifesting 123 and you don't need #3. It works wonderfully for artists!

If you don't see a workshop convenient to you, please give me a call to arrange one close by with your group and friends.

Ken's studio, Castle Rock, CO
(Denver Metro)
Sat-Sun, September 13-14
$290, one-day option, $160.
Call for details: 303-995-1611 or email Ken

Beatrice, Nebraska Workshop
Lincoln, NE Metro
Saturday-Sunday, October 18-19 9-4pm
Sponsored by the Beatrice Art Guild
More details to follow

Cape Cod, Massachusetts Workshop:
Saturday and Sunday October 25-26
Sat 9-5 and Sun 9-4pm.
Sponsored by the North River Arts Society
More details to follow

Plans are in the works for two-day formal painting and pastel workshops in Denver, Austin, Atlanta, Ventura County, CA and New York.
If you are interested in joining or want me to teach in your area, please let me know and we'll plan a great event. Two-day workshops, $350. In the Workshops, we will be discussing strategies for making fine art and taking your art to the next level.  More info on the Workshop web page

Private Lessons:
I have really enjoyed giving private lessons over the years as well. It is casual, focused and fun. There will be a big result. Give me a call and we'll discuss what works best for you. Transportation and accommodations are included as space is available for out of town guests in Ken's home / studio. Please inquire by email or 303-995-1611

A private lesson recommendation:

"Ken Elliott is an excellent host and a very accommodating art instructor who helped me clarify my goals and improve my skills. He offered productive review, practical methods and excellent business advice. I benefitted tremendously from our class and feel confident the quality of my work has moved to another level. Thank you Ken."
Rona Lynn Fitzpatrick

People are saying:

"So, when my friend, Ken Elliott, told me he was co-teaching a workshop on color with Casey Klahn, I immediately said sign me up! Ken's work is simplified impressionist landscape with an emphasis on bold color like reds and yellows. Casey's work is influenced by the cloudy days of the northwestern part of the United States, and his paintings are simplified, abstracted landscapes. Casey uses subdued colors like blues and purples. Both artists' style and color sense are so dramatically different than mine that I knew I would be challenged by this workshop. And indeed I was! I have to smile when I see the work I produced in this workshop. It's so unlike my usual work."
Lee McVey website

"I feel so enriched and on fire to paint big and glowing colors. If you ever get a chance to study with Ken Elliott Fine Art I highly recommend him. If you need help getting to his workshops just read his book Manifesting 123"

Great class Ken! Thank you for all the good tips and inspiration. So glad you came to Houston.

You are so gracious. Thank you so much for the wonderful workshop and ALL that you shared. It was a great weekend.

A good time was had by all! Thank you!
Barbara, Workshop organizer and attendee

It was a great work shop, I highly recommend Ken's workshops.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Exhibit: Ken Elliott at the Madden Museum of Fine Art, Denver

I am very honored to be included in this museum exhibit with my good friends and fellow artists.

My painting on the left, Gold Progressions oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches is more fully described in my previous post here

The Madden Museum of Fine Art press release for the show:

Current Exhibit: to EXPAND

Beginning this month through August 26th, visit the Madden Museum and take in the captivating work of Ken Elliott, Victoria Eubanks, Janice McDonald, Carol Ann Waugh and Mary Williams.

This “to EXPAND” exhibition highlights the range of work presented by respective artists resounding to the unique space offered at the Museum. Take note of the different mediums and enjoy the anthology.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

New Work: Gold Progressions

Gold Progressions  oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches
Sold, private collection

This oil is a variation on my Blue Progression images. For this oil I reversed the image and worked in a much warmer palette. Adding greys to the colors behind the trees created a shimmering effect in the yellows and blues that doesn't fully show here. 

I liked turning the yellows loose in the field but I was careful not use the same yellows for the skies. Each yellow area has it's own character and the yellows don't subtract power from each other.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Museum Exhibit: Degas and Cassatt at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Opens May 11, 2014

A May exhibit at the National Gallery of Art will explore the relationship between Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas, as new evidence suggests a bond of mutual admiration and influence, rather than teacher and student.

Image right:
Edgar Degas. “Mary Cassatt at the Louvre: The Paintings Gallery,” 1885; pastel over softground etching, drypoint, aquatint, and etching on tan paper; plate: 30.5 x 12.7 cm. (12 x 5 in.); sheet: 31.3 x 13.7 cm. (12 5/16 x 5 3/8 in.). The Art Institute of Chicago

 View Photo Gallery — ‘Degas/Cassatt’ exhibit plumbs artists’ affinities and influences: The influence that Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt had on each other can be seen in their paintings. 

Almost microscopic exhibit ‘Degas/Cassatt’ plumbs artists’ affinities and influences.

From the Washington Post By Philip Kennicott,, April 29

In 1879, Edgar Degas made a charcoal and pastel image of two female figures, one standing with a book in her hands, the other seen from behind, leaning slightly on the staff of her closed umbrella. These are likely two visions of the artist Mary Cassatt, a friend, colleague and co-conspirator with Degas in Parisian impressionist circles.

The drawing is one of some 70 works by Degas and Cassatt in the National Gallery of Art’s “Degas/Cassatt show,” which opens May 11. It is also one of the most concentrated and evocative in an exhibition that aims to explore the relationship between the two artists and remedy many of the popular misconceptions about their alliance. It was not, according to Kimberly A. Jones, associate curator for French paintings, a romantic relationship, nor a pedagogical one, but a relationship of equals to the extent possible between a younger American woman and an older, established and often acerbic French man.

“I think they had a wonderful platonic relationship, a tremendous professional relationship, and they admired one another tremendously,” Jones said in an interview earlier this year. The problem for anyone teasing out that relationship, however, is the lack of written evidence. Degas didn’t keep Cassatt’s letters, and Cassatt apparently destroyed his. The testimony of mutual acquaintances offers some data, and the pictures themselves, when explored with consideration to chronology, are another avenue for speculation.

The 1879 pastel reveals both the promise and the pitfalls of this approach. If this is indeed an image of Cassatt, we see two very different interpretations of her. The pastel is listed in the exhibition catalog as “Two Studies of Mary Cassatt at the Louvre,” and it is one of several related drawings, prints and paintings that show Cassatt, or a woman who resembles her, at the Louvre, or similar museum or gallery.

Degas’s obsession in these images seems to have something to do with the difference between an authentic and a mediated relationship to art.

The Cassatt figure who faces the viewer holds her book high, as if she is glancing back and forth between an image on the page and a painting on the wall. The posture suggests a studious amateur, dutifully mastering her art history. The other Cassatt, who stands with her back to the viewer, leaning slightly on her umbrella, is by contrast a woman utterly at home in the art gallery, confronting the past as an equal, engaging art as a participant. She is jaunty, aware of her beauty and completely unintimidated by her surroundings. Degas made several iterations of this image, and in some of them the contrast is even more heightened: The reading woman is sitting, looking perhaps enviously at the standing figure, who is leaning even more provocatively on her umbrella. We can’t see her face, but her self-assurance has taken on cinematic proportions, as if the next shot in this scene will frame her like Garbo, and she’ll deliver a one-liner that establishes her femme fatale bona fides.

The pictures complicate our understanding of the generic misogyny of 19th-century Frenchmen such as Degas, as well as his own particular and prickly misogyny, manifested in his famous assertion that women artists couldn’t understand style. Degas is best remembered for his ballet dancers, his actresses and prostitutes, women spied upon, seen in various states of undress, bathing, primping and readying themselves for consumption by the male gaze. But with Cassatt, who served him as a model on multiple occasions, he discovers a woman who both physically embodies style and mastered it on the artistic level. She engages with the same art that engaged him with perfect ease, and in a basic, literal way, she leaves him behind: She turns her back on the artist, to concentrate entirely on the art that surrounds her.

The spectator and the stage

These images also demonstrate the challenge the curators face when trying to place Degas and Cassatt on equal terms. Cassatt isn’t just a fellow artist and colleague of Degas, she was also a subject for his art, in a way that Degas wasn’t for Cassatt. And while they inhabited the same social milieu and maintained a complex friendship, they were not equally privy to the full spectrum of French society. Both Degas and Cassatt could paint women of society and the fashionable bourgeois, but Degas could also paint women backstage at the opera, in theater dressing rooms, in the grimy boudoirs of a brothel — spaces Cassatt could never visit.

“Cassatt really did have a strong sense of propriety, and she was very conscious of her reputation,” Jones said. “Already being an artist, she was breaking a lot of rules, but she did not want to be seen as someone who was not serious and not respectful.” The exhibition attempts to demonstrate these restrictions by contrasting the two artist’s subtly different relationships to public space.

“You can see she does wonderful theater scenes, but always from the loge,” Jones said. “She’s never down backstage like Degas could be, and that is certainly one of the reasons why so much of her work is focused on interior, domestic scenes, because that was a world in which she did not have to worry about access.”

And so curious quirks emerge. Both Cassatt and Degas paint people at the opera, but Cassatt never shows us the stage. Cassatt’s women, often beautiful but with vacant faces, are looking and being looked at the same time; by omitting the theatrical stage, where the ballerinas are dancing and sopranos singing, Cassatt reminds us that “proper” women are as scrutinized in public as actresses are before the footlights.

Degas, by contrast, often conflates the stage with the viewer. In one 1878-80 image, “At the Theatre: Woman with a Fan,” a woman in the audience is linked to the performers by striking similarities in the rendering of their hair; the fan in the title makes for an ironically flimsy barrier between stage and spectator.

Challenges to custom

Any exhibition that presents Cassatt and Degas together inevitably becomes an exhibition about Cassatt, because she is a problematic artist, strange, unpredictable, sometimes not quite in control of her idiosyncrasies. Jones said that this exhibition will help push audiences past their usual sense of Cassatt as a painter of women and babies, fleshy toddlers and buxom maternal figures.

“I think Cassatt is going to be the big surprise for most people,” Jones said. “We’re accustomed to knowing that Degas was avant-garde and edgy, but people don’t think of Cassatt that way. People think of her as the painter of mothers and children, and they’re very beautiful, but in fact, except for works in the very last section . . . there are no mothers and children. It’s other subjects.”

That includes a couple of small nudes, in which Cassatt’s engagement with Degas seems at its most direct. But there will be other challenges, too, the ones that always dog Cassatt’s reputation. Are her people really, fully people? Is the little girl on the motor car just bored, or is her face poorly rendered? Are the father and son in a sumptuous 1884 painting intently looking at something outside the picture frame, or are their faces somewhat ineptly rendered? Is that a touch of treacle and sentiment that creeps into the later images, from the 1890s, of women in gardens, plucking fruit or holding children?

“Degas/Cassatt” draws on the gallery’s ample holdings of both artists and includes material borrowed from other museums. It features two of the biggest name draws in the museum world but is in fact intended to be a focused, almost microscopic exhibition about details, affinities and possible borrowings and influence. Visitors who simply want to revel in the color of Cassatt and the salacious delights of Degas won’t be disappointed. Among other things, it includes a newly restored Cassatt canvas, “Little Girl in a Blue Armchair.” Seen earlier this year in the gallery’s conservation lab, the painting is stunning, and will likely be the star of the show. But the intention is to dig deeper than that, and the more one tends to dig into Cassatt’s oeuvre, the stranger it seems.

“Degas/Cassatt” will be on view at the National Gallery of Art through Oct. 5. 
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Monday, May 5, 2014

In the Studio: May 4, 2014

Two 4' x 4' oils are newly underway here. The one on the upper left and center easel came from very good starts. The upper left is essentially complete and the center one will have additional changes before it is done.

The field scene in the lower left is just painting itself as it sat around the last few weeks. That means I'm glad I left it alone after the last session... it is a better oil than I thought three weeks ago and much closer to being a very interesting, finished work. You gotta love it when that happens.

Having a number of painting in progress is a distinct advantage. The paintings all feed each other and the pressure is off to finish ONE precious canvas at a time before moving to the next one. This is a freer environment with a lot of work in play.

The 36" x 36" canvas at the far right is NOT painting itself but solutions are starting to percolate....

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Grateful Notices: April 23, 2014

Orange and Green Radiance
Oil on canvas, 48 x 84 inches
Commission for a private residence, Houston

This large commission was thrilling to do. The concept was clear - to have the trees go from bright to dark, moving left to right and to use these colors with heat coming in from the back. The couple followed the process from start to finish, watching the development and sharing in the rush that comes with the creation.

The husband made a statement that was a big help to the concept. The oil was pretty far along and he wanted to give me more guidance. His vision was this, "I have a very demanding and stressful job. I think of the trees as being very peaceful but behind them is this hot red-orange place that represents my work." With those instructions, I was off and running. The rest was making the oil something striking, sophisticated and interesting across the surface.

Thank you Houston!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Grateful Notices: April 21, 2014

Ed's View, Tomahawk Lake
Oil on canvas, 36 x 50 inches
Private collection, GA

Heart Shaped Pond
Oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches
Private collection, OH

Both of these oils are really about the simplest of forms, strip landscapes and skies. Heart Shaped Pond is more about the colors glowing everywhere. In Ed's View, the work is a lot more about the edges of everything with the glowing colors in a secondary role.

It is a great honor for someone to select your works for their homes. Thank you so very much!