Thanks Easter bunny

Alexandra Eldridge, 2011,

Alexandra Eldridge, 2011,

Recently, my oldest son asked me if I’d seen the Easter bunny.  I said, “Not recently, but last time we spoke, he hadn’t had his second cup of coffee so he was, well, a bit crabby.”

“Oh, kinda sounds like you, mom,” he sighed.

We find ourselves wandering these unfamiliar streets sometimes, befuddled at the intersection of imagination and reality. Not really sure what to say, yet understanding vaguely that imagination must be nurtured. Hearing the Einstein eyes of this rabbit whisper,  “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” What to say to be truthfully imaginative? Or imaginatively truthful?

Just like in these Alexandra Eldridge paintings. “To do” lists fly helter-skelter and a too helpful butterfly unravels the coiled clothesline of reasonableness, now a scattered string of lost thoughts. Spilled coffee drips languidly down the right side of the canvas. Mr. E. Bunny at 6:15 AM.

Perhaps we could get some advice from this little charmer below, perched atop a yellow easter egg-shaped hill.  Stones sprinkling down from the clouds. Fragments of words, thoughts getting lost in the downpour. Couldn’t Mr. Bunny could spring off the hill anytime he chose, to avoid the pelting?  Perhaps he is frozen. An instinctual, native response to danger.  The feeling I get when my kids ask me if I’ve seen the Easter bunny.

“Not lately honey, I mainly just email him.”

Alexandra Eldridge Look Up Encaustic, oil and paper on board 24 x 18 inches Signed on back $3,600.00

Alexandra Eldridge, Look Up, Russell Collection, Austin, Texas

Irises to arms!

Irises Vincent van Gogh 1889 Getty Center Los Angeles California

Irises Vincent van Gogh 1889 Getty Center Los Angeles California

Last week we celebrated the return of the daffodils; this week I’m all about irises.  I’ve noticed the ruffled puffs of white floating here and there around town and they reminded me of this beauty of van Gogh’s.  A product of his Arles period, van Gogh painted the irises while battling mental instability, as a patient of  the St. Remy asylum.  Wandering through their spring gardens, these drew his eye and brush.

I’m so glad because if any flower deserves glory these do. However their usual rendering is pallidly romantic.  These are ravenous irises, marching across the canvas.  Their  leaves like sworded tongues seem intent on devouring the cobalt blooms.  The petals of the flowers in motion, waggle and chatter nervously back and forth.

The rigorous twist of the flowers is calmed by a horizontal three part structure, brown earth at bottom, green/blue irises middle, yellow field a top.  An angled thrust of blue irises though the earth section keeps things interesting, by giving us the feeling that we have just come upon this scene.  It’s not staged like past still life representations.

Waving a white flag, a fair iris stands in lone opposition to the fray. A message of peace perhaps. To savor tranquility, before the sun’s heat takes all.

Spring bling

Beatriz Milhazes Spring Love, 2010  Acrylic on canvas, 300 x 450 cm Photo: © Goritzia Filmes, Courtesy of the artist

Beatriz Milhazes Spring Love, 2010 Acrylic on canvas, 300 x 450 cm Photo: © Goritzia Filmes, Courtesy of the artist

Are you feeling the vibrations of these patterns like I am? The rhythmic movement of color and form.  The beat,  beat,  beat of the lines behind the flower (almost like a music clef). The larger forms of the leaves, tightening into the semicircle petals circling around, around, around, until. . . Boom! A floral fireworks explosion. Kaleidoscope of joy. Total delight.

Does it feel vibrant, warm and tropical? If it does, you are not far off the mark. This large-scale work is painted by Brazilian artist, Beatriz Milhazes who is internationally acclaimed now, though it wasn’t so in the beginning.  She is part of the Pattern and Decoration art movement which was dismissed previously by the art community as “purely decorative.”  But they couldn’t suppress their attraction for long and have since gobbled up her painting in museums and galleries everywhere.

This painting is one of a recent series of four seasons. I picked it because we are closing in on springtime, so let’s celebrate! And I wanted to talk about the power of  repetition in life.  The four seasons. Cycles that move us back and forth across time. This powerful flower steadied on a backdrop of repeating lines that are solid, bracing. I often decry boring Repetition – an endless rotation of days, nights, weekends, seasons. But aren’t they the foundation lines that give us the ability to appreciate the extraordinary. Or to create it.

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Daffodil butter

ROBERT GWATHMEY,  Flower Vendor, 1947

ROBERT GWATHMEY, Flower Vendor, 1947

The daffodils are coming!  Daffodils make me about as happy as my other golden love –butter! I think these ladies may be my daffodil soulmates, so lets take a look at Robert Gwathmey’s Flower Vendor today in their honor.

A little back story on the artist will help us appreciate this piece more. Gwathmey grew up in the Depression and painted through the 1980’s.  He is considered a Social Realist painter for his love of painting African-American life in the rural south and his championing of the civil rights movement.  His wife, Rosalie, supported them as a textile designer and you can often see her designs in his work.

Which explains why the women in this painting have so much grace and dignity even while running to market. Yet they are stop motion. The overall composition of the bodies is a large triangle, giving a sense of solidity to the painting which contrasts with the implied movement of the feet. So we have a moving stillness — a ballet like grace imparted to the women.

The wonderfully patterned dresses add even more movement within the borders of the bodies themselves.  He loves the use of lines, but it’s not cubist, the lines do not denote the different planes of  perspective.  Rather the linear partitions of the fabric suggest the multilayer, multifacet of their lives.

Let’s not forget those delightful daffodils, oh, no.  One lady wears a basketcrown of blooms.  All the colors in the palate are spring hues; pinks, turquoises, light blues . . .you can almost smell the greens of the grass. The pastel colors lend softness to the strong forms. And you feel drawn to these ladies and wonder as your affection rises to welcome them. You could almost raise a hand,waving and greeting, “How are you Millie? Auntie Jolene? Slow down now ya’ hear? Don’t break a leg now honey. I gotta mind to buy me a bunch of them daffodils.”