Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Frida Kahlo of Northern California

Last weekend (July 14 & 15), I participated in the Mendocino Art Center's Art & Craft Festival. MAC is an incredible center of creativity, with lots of workshops and events happening all the time. I met some great people, made some new connections, and got to spend some time with my friend Julie Higgins, who is a fabulous artist, working primarily in pastels.

One of the artists across from me at the festival said to me, "You're the Frida Kahlo of Northern California!!! You should market yourself like that!" Well----I have conflicting feelings about it. I love Frida's art---always have, & I read everything about her when she first became well known as a cult figure in this country. (Late 70's, early 80's) She has been an influence on my work, but there are so many influences on my work--some more important than Frida, and some that would not even be evident to someone looking at my work. But Frida's name is often mentioned when people see my work for the first time. So it is a wonderful compliment--and gives people a connection to my imagery--sort of a jumping off place, if you will.
However, like most artists, I would like my work to be seen and judged on its own terms. But since it is only human to want to compare and contrast to what one already knows & is familiar with--I am going to start a list of people's work that I love, and whose work (I feel) has influenced me and my development as an artist.
Henri Rousseau
Frida Kahlo
Remedios Varos
Leonora Carrington
Leonore Fini
Emily Carr
Stanley Spencer
Alice Neel
Raymond Booth
Francesco Clemente
Henry Miller
All of the medieval artists

This is not a complete list........I will add more, and maybe go into my feelings about some of these people and their work & its affect on me in future posts.
Ciao for now!
Image above: "Autoretrato Como Frida Kahlo" Acrylic and mixed media on canvas by Christine DeCamp

Friday, July 20, 2007

In the Beginning

Welcome to PASSION FOR PAINTING! I am creating this blog to talk (write, share) about ART--mine and other people's, about the creative process and being inspired, about some of my other passions (nature, animals, etc.) and as a forum to get out some thoughts and observations.

Encounter with Nature

I am in Mill Valley today, at the home of the celebrated photographer Pirkle Jones, who is a good friend and also my part-time employer. His home is located in a beautiful setting in the woods, where most of what you hear is birdsong and the bubbling stream down in the canyon. When I came up the walk this morning, I frightened a mama deer, who went running off a ways. Once in the house, I looked out the window and saw her out front again, intently looking into the forest and swiveling her ears about like antenna. Pretty soon another deer approached. To my surprise, Mama deer ran up to the interloper, chased her around in a circle, and drove her off. Then Mama went over to the bushes where her fawn was hidden, and started to nurse the baby. It was amazing to watch. In a little while, the other deer returned, followed by two babies! Pirkle and I watched them wander through the woods, nibbling on this and that, and exploring. The mother wandered on ahead. Soon the babies realized that Mom was getting a little too far away, and they scampered off after her.

Speaking of deer, there was an article in the West Marin Citizen (our new newspaper) about the Point Reyes National Seashore's plan to eliminate the non-native deer that reside in the park. There are two species that were introduced in the 1940's---one is the fallow deer, which can be white, black, or spotted, and have large palmated antlers, which sometimes look a size too large for their bodies. The other type is the Axis deer, which are fewer in number that the fallow deer, and are brown with spots and have smaller pointed antlers. For more information about these magical animals and the controversy surrounding them, check out the Friends of the White Deer website. " "

I am not in favor of killing the deer, even though the Park has now come up with a plan to donate the venison to a local charity, so that the elimination of the species in this area (their goal) does not just appear to be wholesale slaughter for the sake of elimination. For myself, I just can't justify the arguments that have been put forward as good reasons to kill wildlife. I think my "favorite" one is the argument that these deer (who are smaller than our native black tailed deer) are doing irreparable harm to the local ecosystem and the riparian corridors, because of their mating behavior, which includes the males' sparring. Of course, no one has bothered to point out that the Tule Elk, which IS native to this area, and at one time roamed in huge herds through this area and is a much larger animal (at least twice the size) ALSO does this same behavior. It's a wonder there was anything left before us white people got here and RESCUED the Point Reyes Penunsula from all this wildness.

Don't get me wrong----I understand that there's a problem, and no, I don't know the answer to it. I do think that we need to take responsibility for people's interference with nature, which created these kinds of problems in the first place. And I don't think that MORE interference is necessarily the answer.

Getting back to painting---I have done several paintings including the exotic deer--"Journeying", which is a recent acrylic on canvas with mixed media, which I don't have up on my site yet---and "Our Lady of the Mountain", which you can see above or on the site. I am also working on another canvas which will feature the deer. I have found them to be quite amazing animals. Check them out for yourself before they are all killed!
Image above: "Our Lady of the Mountain" Gouache and mixed media on paper by Christine DeCamp