Painting with Attitude

The name of our class was Painting With Attitude. Each week we were treated to new “Nancy Notes”– a bit philosophy, a bit about art – a bit about our upcoming class assignment. Here are a few of my most favorite nuggets from the third week of class.

Get The Paint On…

20” x 20” Oil on Canvas

…Your’e going to paint with strength and vigor…and not be afraid of making a mess of it…I hope we don’t have to get drunk like those dreadful painting parties….”

To the left is my completed assignment for the week. Began in class and finished at home.


“The way paint gets onto the canvas…attack… advance…softly… intensely brave…capable of being reworked.. scraped off and put back..but mostly with intention, force (light or heavy), fearlessly, serenely, but NOT tentative and weak…

We have to go back…It is your nervous system that you need to connect to, your touch, your aggression that so many of us don’t allow ourselves. It isn’t easy to make gentle work that is strong… all the forms depend on each other… There is a way to be in the moment, conscious, where every mark does something…

What makes the art we love so possible to never get tired of… has to do with the state of the artists mind as the work was being made …the kind of connections that were happening between the eye, and the hand and the mind.

“Why are mistakes so scary? Why does getting it ‘right’ mean only how it looks and not how it feels? What happens when it feels great but looks a mess? What do you have to do to make the paint alive and as necessary as the picture you are trying to copy?

Can you leave your comfort zone? How far? A little tiny bit… a jump off a cliff? NMM

Painting Again — Finally

This Fall, I was finally able to find a good class fit at the BBAC and begin taking a painting class with an incredible instructor, Nancy Mitchnick. Before class started, I researched Nancy and was blown away by her credentials and was a bit intimidated, but the second I met her, I felt I had met a kindred spirit and knew immediately that I wanted to be friends with this incredible woman!

Nancy is a well-known artist originally from the Detroit area and was part of the “Cass Corridor Artists” in the 1970’s. She has taught art all over the country, including CalArts, Bard College, and Harvard.


Of course it wouldn’t be my life if I didn’t have some kind of accident. Two days before class was to begin I misstepped, in my own house this time, and fell really hard on the step that separates our dining room from the living room. Again, my bad knee hit first, then my right arm, then my head hit the corner edge of the wall. I was all alone, the boys were out joy-riding. My head was bleeding profusely and I just sat there crying holding my head. Thank goodness they came home within a few minutes, I was too shaken up to move. Once I was “fixed” up, I began to wonder if the universe was trying to tell me something. Afterall, this was the second time, in a row, that I had a bad fall just before art class was to begin. I thought about cancelling — again, but decided against it. “Universe be damned — I was taking that $%@#ing class, and you couldn’t stop me!”


And, I’m so glad I did! Our class was very small– just four students, all women, plus Nancy. It was the perfect size to get to know each other and become more than just a “class”, we became Nancy’s “Gang of 4” as she would often refer to us. Each Wednesday, I was truly excited to see what Nancy had in store for us! Of course coming from mostly an academic setting, Nancy was a task-master, very different from what we were used to at the arts center. But I loved it and felt like I was back in college again — only this time I was doing what I truly loved!

One of the best parts of the class wasn’t the class at all, it was receiving Nancy’s Notes via email a couple days prior to class. At 72 Nancy had accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience, not only about art, but life in general, and her weekly notes were a little peek into her brain– rambling and unorganized — but always thought provoking. I usually had to read them a few times to weed out the nuggets! They’re so fun that I’ve actually kept the collection.


One of our first assignments was to paint some type of material or fabric. My in-class attempt was terrible, so I scrapped it and painted a piece at home. The fabric I chose was a colorful zip-up sweatshirt/ jacket that I bought at an art fair years back. I hung it and using a using a picture frame mat I visually cropped the subject into an interesting and manageable size.

Photo of Jacket
Work in Progress
11″x14″ Oil on Canvas Board

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp

In August my younger son attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp for which he won a scholarship during the school year. In 5th grade our school district requires kids play an instrument. Once they move to middle school, the following year, they can choose to continue or not. E started playing the alto sax when he was 10 and hasn’t stopped since! He’s become quite good and really enjoys it! He would love to major in music when he gets to college.

If you’ve never heard of Blue Lake, you really should check their website out. Located on a 1,600 acre campus in Michigan’s Manistee National Forest, they offer summer programs in the fine arts (band, orchestra, theater, dancing, singing, and art) for all ages. Middle and high schoolers camp at different times, so kids are placed with their peers. Sessions are all taught be professional level mentors/teachers in the various disciplines.

I was a bit nervous when we dropped him off for 10 days with no cell phone (camp rules) but I knew he would be well cared for and have a blast. Once there, campers audition for band placement and E was placed in the 2nd tier band out of 5. He was one of the younger kids in this band. At the end of the session, family is invited to attend performances. We were so happy to see him after the time; even his older brother kind of missed him 🙂 LOL

“Novena” performed by 2019 Concert Band

Summer Fun

Indy 500

In May we went to Indianapolis for the Indy 500. I was able to snag two incredible box seats for my husband and son D from Facebook Marketplace. The guy selling them was a year-round ticket holder but wasn’t going to be able to make it this year and was selling the tickets for a great price.

All my ‘boys” love really fast and really expensive cars!! My older son D is a walking encyclopedia of high-end and super cars. He has been in love with trucks, autos, semis, and construction— anything with four wheels and a motor, since he could barely stand up. So, this would be a huge treat for him. Since we only had two tickets, E and I dropped them off and went to explore The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.


Founded in 1925, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the largest children’s museum in the world; at 481,000 square-feet, it sits on 30 acres! We explored all the wonderful exhibits, including Dinosphere: Now You’re in Their World®,  Dale Chihuly’s Fireworks of Glass, and The Power of Children: Making a Difference. I think we had more fun than B and D! After all the excitement of the day, we found a nearby brewery for burgers and beer. Another great day to remember!


chicago

Over the July 4th holiday my family and our close friends went to visit our other friends in Chicago. Us three ladies have been best friends forever, literally. K and I grew up together, since age 2; our families were next door neighbors. K went to MSU a year before me and roomed with B. When I got to State the following year, B and I became fast friends also. We’ve been like sisters forever and our children are all relatively the same age. As a matter of fact, we were all pregnant at the same time with our second children; they were all born within 5 weeks of each other!

Chicago Fun



P!NK

In April my youngest son and I saw PINK in concert. We originally had tickets for the whole family for 2018, but she was ill and the concert was rescheduled. By the time the concert came around the following year B and D were no longer interested, so I used the money that was already spent to upgrade E and I to the Pit; after all, we are the huge fans. My dear friend and her son were able to get tickets also and joined us for the event.

E and I were so close, I swear we made eye contact a couple of times! At one point she was shaking hands with people in the pit and she grabbed my sons’ hand!! He was over the moon— I was able to capture it on video too. An experience we will never forget!

Get This Party Started!

20th anniversary

On January 9th, 1999 my husband and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary! It’s been a wild ride– combining two cultures and personalities hasn’t always been easy, but then again what marriage is? We complement each other very well: he’s the engineer with a crazy work ethic who’s very nurturing and takes good care of all of us and allows me to be me — the creative, independant, stubborn and a bit lazy one that needs her space. Our boys are mirror images, the older one takes after B and the younger one is a lot like me (but don’t tell him that! He’s 13 now and doesn’t want anything to do with mom).

We don’t always exchange gifts, but this year was special. I wanted a diamond anniversary band. We went back to our local jeweler Alexander J. Bongiorno. They had created a special addition to my wedding ring when I became a mother. For our anniversary, I chose a diamond band with two loose gold and two loose white gold bands so that I could interchange them for multiple looks. I love it and wear it everyday.

For B I surprised him with something he’s always wanted– a real cuckoo clock from Germany. I had ordered it back in early December and it was delayed a bit because it wasn’t in stock. I kind of liked that, knowing it was hand-made in Germany just for us, not sitting around the stockroom collecting dust. I chose a traditional mechanical clock that plays music, has dancing figurines, a little bird that pops out on the hour, a spinning water wheel and a cute couple that kiss. The name is Romance, perfect for an anniversary!

I didn’t realize all the intricacies of these incredible clocks until I went to purchase one. They are truly a work of art; each piece is hand carved and put together carefully in the Black Forest of Germany. The video below gives you an idea of the process.

Loving Vincent

Last month my mom and I saw the movie Loving Vincent at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The four-year project, directed by a Polish husband and wife team was brought to life by 120 artists from around the world. Together, they created the first ever hand-painted movie.

Vincent collage
Some of the Paintings Used In the Movie

Told through the eyes of the Postman’s son, the directors used Vincent’s letters and his incredible works of art to explore the mystery of why or even if Vincent took his own life at only 37 years old.

One-hundred-fifty oil paintings were painstakingly reproduced in Vincent’s style by the artists. Real-life actors, shot in front of a green screen, portrayed the characters in his paintings. In the end, the 90 minute movie used a total of 64,000 frames, each one hand-painted, to tell Vincent’s story.

If you have the opportunity to watch this incredibly unique and beautiful film, please do so. You will not regret it! 

Niagara Falls

Just prior to my oral surgery, mentioned in my last post, “Catching Up“, my family went on a mini weekend vacation to Niagara Falls. Originally we were thinking of doing a big vacation to California, but because I had no idea of how the recuperation would go and my husband’s work travel schedule, we had to nix it for now. So we settled on a long weekend over the July 4th holiday to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

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