Studio Time

Robert Henri

The quote and painting of "Snow in New York"  are from American artist and teacher Robert Henri.  Henri was the  leader of the “Ashcan” school of art.

Henri was born in 1865. As a young man he studied at the Pennsylvania Art Academy in Philadelphia. In 1888 he traveled to Paris to study. Like many young artists of his time he admired impressionist painters and was painting in this style. He returned to Philadelphia in 1891 and began teaching at the Women’s Art Academy.

By 1895 he shed off the impressionism for realism. He painted what he considered authentic American life. He was a member of like minded  group of artists called the ashcan school of art.  Although he may not have huge critical success, his works now hang in major museums. He died in 1929.

Many of us are at home with plenty of time and materials; why might we not be making more art?

I was struck by this quote from Robert Henri because he articulates the struggle I find myself in with studio time. Creative production is not always tied to  having the time, the place and the materials. Production increases when the artist is in the creative zone.

I have found myself struggling to get into that zone. Like the rest of the world I am thinking about the health and safety of my family. My life has changed from going to lunch with friends, attending quilt guild meetings and going to art retreats to making protective face masks to wear to the store. 

During the last week I have been focused on making an entry for the Long Beach Quilt Festival. It is a photograph from a backlot of a Hollywood studio in the 1920’s. The photograph is black and white printed on a large linen cotton canvas. There is a deadline to get this entered which is motivational.

After putting this project up on my design wall, I gave myself permission to not start it immediately. Instead I walked by  the project numerous times a day as I kept busy with other tasks. I began by pinning my color wheel to my design wall. I put out a few paints and have been making little squares of colors on excess fabric.

 Usually I have an immediate feeling about color.  I drive immediately into painting.  This time I used a more structured approach to color. From those little squares I created a color scheme.

A color scheme is a plan for color. You might have a complimentary scheme using colors opposite each other on the color wheel or a triad of colors equal distance from each other on the color wheel. I ended up with a split complement of colors. Next I mixed those colors in various combinations. 

By the time I started on the project itself I had that feeling of being in the zone or as Henri would say “that wonderful state that makes art inevitable. 

My advice is simple. These are tense times and if you are wondering why your art productivity hasn’t increased give yourself extra time, let go of any pressure and go back to the basics.

Stay safe friends. This too will pass.
Until next time......