Travel photo of the month*

Abril 10, 2021
Road to Machu Picchu, Peru

*Favorite travel photos that have not yet appeared in this blog

Comments are welcome!

Pearls from artists* # 449

Abril 7, 2021
Working
Working

*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

I learned about the Japanese word irimi while studying Aikido, a Japanese martial art. Simply translated, irimi means ,’to enter’ but it can also be translated ‘choose death.’ When attacked you always have two options: to enter, irimi, or to go around, ura. Both when accomplished in the right manner, are creative. To enter or to ‘choose death’ means to enter fully with the acceptance, if necessary, of death. The only way to win is to risk everything and be fully willing to die. If this is an extreme notion to Occidental sensibilities, it does make sense in creative practice. To achieve the violence of decisiveness, one has to ‘choose death’ in the moment by acting fully and intuitively without pausing for reflection about whether it is the right decision or if it is going to provide the winning solution.

It is also valuable to know when to use ura, or going around. There is a time for ura, going around, and there is a time for irimi, entering. And these times can never be known in advance. You must sense the situation and act immediately. In the heat of creation, there is no time for reflection; there is only connection to what is happening. The analysis, the reflection and the criticism belong before and after, never during, the creative act.

Anne Bogart in “A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theater”

Comments are welcome!

Q: What’s on the easel today?

Abril 3, 2021
Work in progress
Work in progress

A: I recently started another 26” x 20” pastel painting.

Comments are welcome!

Pearls from artists* # 448

Marzo 31, 2021
Museum of Ethnography and Folklore, La Paz, Bolivia
Museum of Ethnography and Folklore, La Paz, Bolivia

*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

Memory plays a huge role in the artistic process. Every time you stage a play, you are embodying a memory. Human beings are stimulated to tell stories from the experience of remembering an incident or a person. The act of expressing what is remembered is actually, according to the philosopher Richard Rorty, an act of re-description. In redescribing something, new myths are created. Rorty suggests that there is no objective reality, no Platonic ideal. We create truths by describing, or re-describing, our beliefs and observations. Our task, and the task of every artist and scientist, is to redescribe our inherited assumptions and invented fictions in order to create new paradigms for the future.

Anne Bogart in A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theater

Comments are welcome!

Q: How do you think about risk? What role has taking risks played in your life/career? (Question from Emma Jacobs, VoyageMIA.com)

Marzo 27, 2021
Barbara’s Studio

A: My journey to becoming a visual artist was circuitous, to say the least. Risk-taking gave me the life and career I enjoy now.

The biggest – and scariest – risk I’ve ever taken was deciding to leave my active duty Naval career to pursue art full-time. The second most significant risk was moving to New York City in 1997. I have never regretted doing either one.

When I was 25, and a civilian, I earned my private pilot’s license and spent the next two years amassing other flying licenses and ratings, culminating in a Boeing-727 flight engineer’s certificate. Two years later I joined the Navy.

As an accomplished civilian pilot with thousands of flight hours, I had expected to fly jets in the Navy. However, women were barred from combat in those days (the 1980s) so there were very few women Navy pilots. There were no female pilots on aircraft carriers and no female Blue Angels. Women were restricted to training male pilots for combat jobs and priority was given to Naval Academy graduates. My BA was from a different university.

In the mid-1980s I was in my early 30s and a Lieutenant on active duty in the Navy. I worked a soul-crushing job as a computer analyst on the midnight shift in a Pentagon sub-basement. It was literally and figuratively the lowest point of my life. I hated my job! Not only was it boring, I was not using my hard-won flying skills. In short I was miserable – miserable and trapped because a Naval officer cannot just resign with two weeks notice.

Remembering the joyful Saturdays of my youth when I had taken art classes with a local New Jersey painter, I enrolled in a drawing class at the Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia. Initially I wasn’t very good, but it was wonderful to be around other women and a world away from the “warrior mentality” of my mostly male Pentagon co-workers. Plus, I was having fun!

Soon I enrolled in more classes and became a very motivated full-time art student who worked nights at the Pentagon. As I studied and improved my skills, I discovered my preferred medium – soft pastel on sandpaper.

Although I was certain I had found my life’s calling as a fine artist, I had grown used to a regular paycheck and the many benefits of being a Navy Lieutenant. For more than a year I agonized over whether or not to leave the Navy and lose my financial security. I’d be taking a huge risk: could I ever support myself as an artist? Was I making the dumbest mistake of my life?

Eventually, I decided I HAD TO take a leap. I simply adored making art – it challenged me to use all of my skills and talents – while I was unhappy, bored, and unfulfilled working at the Pentagon.

But once my mind was finally made up, I still could not leave. Due to geopolitical circumstances, there was a significant delay. The Navy was experiencing a manpower shortage and Congress had enacted a stop-loss order, which prevented officers from resigning for one year. I submitted my resignation effective exactly one year later: on September 30, 1989. Being stuck in a job I no longer wanted nor had the slightest interest in, was truly the longest year of my life!

Unlike most people, I can pinpoint exactly when I became an artist. I designate October 1, 1989 as the day I became a professional artist! I have never regretted my decision and I never again needed, nor had, a day job.

However, I must mention that I remained as a part-time Naval Reservist for the next 14 years, working primarily at the Pentagon for two days every month and two weeks each year. The rest of the time was my own to pursue my art career. After I moved to Manhattan in 1997, I commuted by train to Washington, DC to work for the Navy.

Finally on November 1, 2003, I officially retired as a Navy Commander. Now, I daresay, I am the rare fine artist who can point to a Navy pension as a source of income.

I love my life as an accomplished New York fine artist! With the help of two social media assistants, I work hard to make and promote the art I create. My pastel paintings and my pastel skills continue to evolve and grow, gaining wider recognition and a larger audience along the way.

In addition to making art, I have been a blogger since 2012. The audience for my blog, https://barbararachkoscoloreddust.com/ increases by 1,000 – 2,000 new subscribers each month. Today I have more than 72,000 readers!

Comments are welcome!

Posted in: Alexandria (VA), An Artist's Life, Art in general, New York, NY, Studio, accomplished, actuve duty, adored, agonized, aircraft carriers, Alexandria, amassing, around, art classes, Art League School, art student, assistants, audience, “Warrior mentality”, became, benefits, biggest, Blue Angels, Boeing-727, boring, calling, career, certain, certificate, challenged, circuitous, circumstances, civilian, commuted, computer analyst, Congress, continue, culminating, deciding, decision, designate, different, discovered, drawing class, dumbest, earned, effective, Emma Jacobs, enacted, enrolled, eventually, exactly, expected, experiencing, female, figuratively, financial, fine artist, flight engineer, flight hours, Flying, flying skills, full-time, gaining, geopolitical, graduates, hard-won, improved, increases, initially, interest, joined, jotful, larger, licenses, lieutenant, literally, longer, lowest, making, Manhattan, manpower, medium, midnight shift, miserable, mistake, motivated, moving, my youth, myself, Naval Academy, naval officer, Naval Reservist, needed, New Jersey, New York City, notice, officers, painter, part-time, pastel paintings, paycheck, Pentagon, people, pilot, pinpoint, preferred, prevented, priority, private pilot’s license, professional, promote, pursue, ratings, readers, recognition, regretted, regular, remained, remembering, resign, resignation, resigning, restricted, risk-taking, Saturdays, scariest, second, security, shortage, significant, skills, slightest, social media, soft pastel on sandpaper, soul-crushing, stop-loss order, studied, sub-basement, submitted, subscribers, support, talents, the Navy, thousands, training, trapped, unfulfilled, unhappy, university, Virginia, visual artist, VoyageMIA, wanted, Washington DC, wonderful, worked

Pearls from artists* #447

Marzo 24, 2021
Barbara’s studio
Barbara’s studio

Cameron Crowe: I think this collection is a powerful gift, especially to young artists. It’s a portrait of you at a certain time in your life when you were having success. You could have plateaued at this stage for an entire career. Many did. But I listen to this and think the hidden message is don’t stop growing. Don’t stop heading to those deeper waters… challenge yourself… look where it may take you.

Joni Mitchell: That’s what the Van Gogh exhibition was to me. When I went to see the Van Gogh exhibition they had all his paintings arranged chronologically, and you’d watch the growth as you walk along. That was so inspiring to me, and I started to paint again. If it serves that purpose, that would be great. Really, that would make me very happy. It shows that from this… because the latter work is much richer and deeper and smarter, and the arrangements are interesting, too. Musically I grow, and I grow as a lyricist, so there’s a lot of growth taking place. The early stuff – I shouldn’t be such a snob against it. A lot of these songs, I just lost them. They fell away. They only exist in these recordings. For so long I rebelled against the term: “I was never a folk singer.” I would get pissed off if they put that label on me. I didn’t think it was a good description of what I was. And then I listened, and… it was beautiful. It made me forgive my beginnings. And I had this realization…

CC: What was it?

Joni: Oh God! (Laughs) I was a folksinger!

In A Conversation with Joni Mitchell by Cameron Crowe from Joni Mitchell Archives Volume I: The Early Years (1963-1967) 5 CD set

Comments are welcome!

Q: How has photography changed your approach to painting?

Marzo 20, 2021
Alexandria, VA (composed on an iPad Pro)

A: Except for many hours spent in life-drawing classes and still life setups that I devised when I was learning my craft in the 1980s, I have always worked from photographs. My late husband, Bryan, would shoot 4” x 5” negatives of my elaborate “Domestic Threats” setups using his Toyo-Omega view camera. I rarely picked up a camera except when we were traveling. After Bryan was killed on 9/11, I inherited his extensive (film) camera collection – old Nikons, Leicas, Graphlex cameras, etc. – and needed to learn how to use them. Starting in 2002 I enrolled in a series of photography courses (about 10 over 4 years) at the International Center of Photography in New York. I learned how to use all of Bryan’s cameras and how to make my own big color prints in the darkroom.

Early on I discovered that the sense of composition, color, and form I had developed over many years as a painter translated well into photography. The camera was, and is, just another medium with which to express ideas. Pastel painting will always be my first love. However, pastel paintings take months of work, while photography offers instant gratification, especially with my current preferred camera, an iPad Pro.

Comments are welcome!

Pearls from artists* # 446

Marzo 17, 2021
At the studio. Photo: Kimberly Kevorkian

*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

What stops us in our tracks? I am rarely stopped by something or someone I can instantly know. In fact, I have always been attracted to the challenge of getting to know what I cannot instantly categorize or dismiss, whether an actor’s presence, a painting, a piece of music, or a personal relationship. It is the journey towards the object of attraction that interests me. We stand in relation to one another. We long for the relationship that will change our vistas. Attraction is an invitation to an evanescent journey, to a new way of experiencing life or perceiving reality.

An authentic work of art embodies intense energy. It demands response. You can either avoid it, shut it out, or meet it and tussle. It contains attractive and complicated energy fields and a logic all its own. It does not create desire or movement in the receiver, rather it engenders what James Joyce labelled ‘aesthetic interest.’ You are stopped in your tracks. You cannot easily walk by it and go on with your life. You find yourself in relation to something that you cannot readily dismiss.

Anne Bogart in A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theater

Comments are welcome!

Travel photo of the month*

Marzo 13, 2021
At the Raleigh Hotel, South Beach, Miami, FL

*Favorite travel photos that have not yet appeared in this blog

Comments are welcome!

Pearls from artists* # 445

Marzo 10, 2021
Artists at work… our documentary film crew!

*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

My good friend the writer Charles L. Mee, Jr helped me to recognize the relationship between art and the way societies are structured. He suggested that, as societies develop, it is the artists who articulate the necessary myths that embody our experience of life and provide parameters for ethics and values. Every so often the inherited myths lose their value because they become too small and confined to contain the complexities of the ever-transforming and expanding societies. In that moment new myths are needed to encompass who we are becoming. These new constructs do not eliminate anything already in the mix; rather, they include fresh influences and engender new formations. The new mythologies always include ideas, cultures and people formerly excluded from the previous mythologies. So, deduces Mee, the history of art is the history of inclusion.

I believe that the new mythologies will be created and articulated in art, in literature, painting and poetry. It is the artists who will create a livable future through their ability to articulate in the face of flux and change.

Anne Bogart in A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theater

Comments are welcome!

Q: What’s on the easel today?

Marzo 6, 2021
On the easel

A: I’m working on a preliminary charcoal sketch for my next “Bolivianos”pastel painting. This will be number 17 in the series.

Comments are welcome!

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