I was visiting my mother who will be 98 this September. On her wall is this pastel pencil portrait of my father, Ernest Alfred Klossner, done by an unknown artist in 1942 while Daddy was in the Army during WWII. He has been gone from our lives now for 20 years, yet daily this piece of art reminds my mother of her young, handsome husband serving in a long war. The time away from him now is also long, but at least she has this portrait. She knows that some artist sat near her Ernie, closely examined his face, profile and features, and very intimately captured him on a piece of paper. This portrait is more real to her than any photograph could be. People ask me why I draw people all of the time? On the bus? In church? In the chiropractor’s office? In restaurants? Because by drawing them, I come to really see them. When I see people, really see them, I feel I know them all that much better. Who knows. One of my drawings may someday be an important reminder to someone of a long ago love.
I am a firm believer in the “Law of Attraction.” I know, it’s almost become a trite social philosophy today, but my life has shown it to be true, nevertheless. What one gives usually comes back in kind. A sour expression elicits negative interaction. A generous soul never seems to want for anything significant. Here’s the thing about artists. In my unscientific way of polling the data, I am pretty convinced that the artists who freely give their work, talent, energy and creativity generously are those who get paid generously. I don’t mean they give their work away free, although some do. I mean they teach, share, advise, critique, encourage and support without expecting anything in return. What an anomaly in such a competitive world. Still, my best artist friends are extremely positive and generous in encouraging and supporting other artists. They create around themselves a world of such generous creative energy that the boundaries of life just constantly seem to expand. I have just finished the John Salminen workshop this week with the Utah Watercolor Society. John and his wife, Kathy, embody this principle to perfection. They gave and gave and gave and the results were dramatic to all who attended. I can just feel my life about to explode outward and can’t wait to return all that I received to my own art students at Ree Art Studio and Ree’s painting pARTies.
Everyone needs a space. I remember when I was raising young children how I longed for my own private space where no one could invade unless invited. In those days, it was impossible to find such an abode. Even the bathroom was not sacred, as any parent knows who has ever foolishly tried to make that space private for longer than a few minutes before the incessant door banging started. When I was a child I had my own room (eventually—for a while I shared with my two brothers until my parents made another bedroom out of the garage). My father had his garage. My mother had her garden. After I married, my husband had his private office. I wanted a space where I could paint without having to put it all away from prying eyes and curious little fingers. Eventually, when the first child left for college, I had a room. Heaven. Later, when all of the kids were gone, we downsized and guess what? I lost my own private space again. So, I rented a space. I can go to Ree Art Studio to think, create, study, whatever. (That is, if I turn off my cell phone. The invasion of electronics into our private worlds is a discussion for another day.) I highly recommend doing literally ANYTHING to get a private space of one’s own. It is there that creativity really flourishes. It is there that one finds authenticity. It is there that one can finally catch an uninterrupted nap.
Pable Picasso has been quoted as saying, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
How true this is. I often wonder how often people stop to think about how totally important art is in their lives. Just look around the room. Any room. Every single piece of furniture, every appliance, every tool and every common item in sight was once designed by an artist. It was dreamed up, drawn, engineered and finally created into existence by artists, designers and craftsmen or women. All of this before the “real art” such as murals and hangings and paintings ended up on the walls and the sculptures and bric-a-brac and accessories were bought and lovingly placed. It’s true that not all people have the “artistic bent” that makes them want to go into an art field but there is not a living soul who does not benefit from some form of art. Perhaps one of our responsibilities as human beings is to help point that fact out to others so that they, too, may feel a sudden swelling in their souls with appreciation for the creativity of others.
How does a parent encourage their child in their art? When parents ask me this, I often tell them that in general, there are two kinds of parents. Those who say, "That's very good. Keep it up!" and those who say, "What is it? Don't do that." The first kind of encouragement usually produces artists who are adventurous, courageous and spontaneous. The second kind of criticism usually drives children away from art long before they even get started. If the child does keep going, they spend the rest of their artistic endeavors trying to create to please others. I think I have developed just about the perfect way for parents to encourage their children as they discover their emerging artistic talents. Never. Let me repeat this again. Never ask: “What is it?” Always. Let me repeat this again. Always say: “Tell me about your work.” Believe me, they will tell you. What to you may seem a complete jumble of badly colored forms and shapes may be a wonderland of dreams and adventures to your child. “Tell me about it,” encourages your child to “teach” you a thing or two about seeing.
In May I will be taking a water color workshop from John Salminen, one of the best watercolorists in the world in my opinion. He will be in Utah May 5 through the 9th and will be demonstrating for the Utah Watercolor Society on Tuesday, May 6. If you get a chance, go see him in action. Anyway. I spent much of my weekend sitting in front of the television watching General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In that time I listened to talks and painted. One day with my mother in her assisted living home, another day in my home. One of the speakers was Henry B. Eyring. Many do not know that he is a watercolorist. In his book, "I Will Lead You Along," he is quoted as saying, "When you get a watercolor working right, the feeling of illumination is like a deeply spiritual thing." So what does this have to do with John Salminen? I'm hoping that going to his workshop will help me feel more like I am "getting it right!" My attempts to paint this weekend were weak. I know some of the problems right away. I didn't have the right equipment or paints with me. The paper was crummy. I wasn't concentrating deeply. I got frustrated and tired. Not a good recipe for "getting it right!"
Last Friday night saw the second Ree's painting pARTy take flight! As you can see, this one was strictly for the birds, and I'm sorry, but I just have to crow a little about how much fun we had! My husband, Craig, even took up the brush and paint for the first time in his adult life. Did he lay an egg with this one? No way. His painting was a soaring success. Indeed, birds of a feather, in this case, artists at heart, do flock together at Ree Art Studio.
This has been an exciting few days at Ree Art Studio — a fulfillment of many, many hours of planning, purchasing and pARTy planning. My first session of Ree's painting pARTies held last Friday, March 28, was, in my mind, a smashing success. Why? Because the people who came had a great time and they created a surprising array of inventive, unique paintings based on one image as you can see by this photo. Best of all, they left with new friends. Including me. It felt so good to meet this goal but it was also invigorating doing the work to get it done.
SUGARHOUSE ART WALK
The very day I was moving into my new studio, my friend Chad Davis told me that I should participate in the Sugar House Art Walk that night! So, my husband, Craig, and I scurried like crazy to arrange furniture, vacuum, make refreshments, paint signs and most importantly, hang paintings. At the very moment our first few people walked in, I was just setting up the refreshment table! Whew! It was a fun event and we met great people that night. Thanks to everyone who came. Ree Art Studio will be a regular destination point for the Sugar House Art Walk.
These past two weeks have been busy, busy, busy as my husband and I have been working to get Ree's painting pARTies up and running. We have moved into my larger studio space at Ree Art Studio. We bought new tables and comfortable chairs to accommodate 30 people. We've ordered canvases, new brushes and quarts of paint. I've been working on art party motifs that I hope people will want to paint, such as the three examples below. We've updated www.renonkhulet.com with three new pages about Ree's painting pARTties. All of this has been exciting. We hope the buzz will begin on this fun adventure in art.