Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2012 Landscape Calendars


The wait is over! 
2012 Landscape Calendars are Here!

Feast your eyes on a new image every month with this delightful calendar. Each page is a high-quality digital print re-created from my original oil paintings.



Enjoy the calendar all year and beyond as each archival print can be framed as a unique, heartfelt gift to commemorate a special event in 2012!



The calendar is 8.5” x 11” and fits in a standard frame. At the end of each month, you replace one landscape painting with a new one!


 I am offering folded acrylic frames again too!



Only $35 for twelve high-quality reproductions of my original landscape paintings! Add a frame for $12.

These calendars are a huge hit every year! Friends and family love receiving these images as gifts and you will love keeping one for yourself!

I will have calendars available for purchase at the following events in 2011:

All Dogs Agility USDAA Trial
October 1-2
8 am - 4 pm
505 Sheffield Road 
Manchester, NH 03103

October 23 & 30
10 am - 4 pm
14 Hancock Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801

November 5 & 6
9 am - 5 pm
Hannah Phelps Fine Art
325 Twin Bridge Road
New Boston, NH 03070

 
Have questions? Contact me at hannah@hannahphelps.com!
 

All images © Hannah Phelps
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

White-line Woodcuts Here and There

© Hannah Phelps
Woodblock for Calm Day at Fort Stark

This weekend I will be in Silver Spring, MD to attend the opening of the 14th Annual Small Works Exhibit at the Washington Printmakers Gallery. 
My print, Calm Day at Fort Stark, will hang with a few dozen others that were chosen by juror Robert K. Newman of The Old Print Shop in New York City.  Newman is giving a talk at the reception and I am excited to hear what he has to say about his selections. I am also looking forward to seeing the other prints!

As a bonus, alongside National Small Works 2011 is a solo exhibition last year’s winner, Kiyomi Baird.

If you are in the DC area, come by and see me at the Washington Printmakers Gallery at one o’clock on Saturday!

In case that isn’t enough printmaking news for you, in July I created a couple of white-line woodcut prints outside in Odiorne Point State Park during the Petite Art in the Park event - a week-long invitation to create artwork within the park. Since there aren't many more beautiful places on Earth and I loved the print I made last year(click here to see it), I pushed myself to create two this year:


© Hannah Phelps
Low Tide Seat
"plein air" white-line woodcut print, 6" x 9" - SOLD

© Hannah Phelps
Wave on a Perfect Day at Odiorne Point State Park
"plein air" white-line woodcut print, 6" x 9"

Lots of activity in the past month or so, which is great! I think that old famous song line should be changed to “Summertime and the living is BUSY.”





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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dog Days - Summertime!

© Hannah Phelps
First Beach Day
oil on canvas, 6" x 8"


It is officially summer and time to head to the beach.

My Golden Retriever, Coast, is 18 months old now - this is a painting from his first day at the ocean over a year ago. I named him “Coast” partly because the seacoast is such an important part of my life and my art.

Also, his mother's name is Beach and his AKC registered name is Pine Run's Shore Thing. As I have said in a previous post, dog people like me can be funny about naming our puppies.

But the number one reason that I chose “Coast” as a name is because I hope he “coasts through life” and I want “the coast to be clear” whenever he endures a health check of some kind.

The painting above shows a puppy experiencing his first crashing waves, not afraid really, but cautious.

You can see a completely different Coast in the photo below - leaping across a rocky chasm to catch up with his big sister, Hatrick:



May he fly fearlessly for years to come.



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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Making Art with Bears

© Hannah Phelps
Portrait of a Friend
white-line woodcut

Spring is a good time to learn something new. That is why I very recently traveled up to Lyme, NH for the three day "Introduction to Japanese Color Woodblock Printmaking" workshop with Matthew Brown at his studio.

If you want to learn about creating Japanese prints, this is the workshop to take. In three days, Matt helps all of the students create a small print and learn tips and tricks about materials, carving, pigments, printing, paper, process - just about everything. If you don't have time for the workshop, Matt's website has some great information and links along with pictures of his spectacular prints.

Eventually, I will explain how Japanese color prints inspired some artists in Provincetown, MA to develop their own style of color woodblock prints in the early 1900's.  Now known as white-line woodcuts or white-line relief, this is the method I have been using for the woodblock prints you have seen on this blog over the past couple of years. (To see more, click here.) I took Matt's workshop because I thought it was time to explore the origins of white-line woodcuts for myself.

Yes, you will be able to see some prints on this blog sometime soon. In the meantime, I'm going to tell you a story about something else spring is good for in NH - Black Bear Sightings.

On the first day of the workshop, Matt said that he found one of his honey buckets across the road from the barn, where he knew he had left them. 

Matt suspected a bear was the culprit. 

That afternoon, he went outside to see why his dog was barking. He came right back in and asked us if we wanted to see a bear. We all went outside and there she was - across the road looking back at us. We know it was a she because she had two tiny cubs with her. She didn't seem worried even though we were very close.  The cubs scrambled up and down the trees and she just kept an eye on us. After a few minutes, they all left and we went back to our printmaking.

I have seen bears before, but this was the best view I'd ever had of a mother and her cubs. I considered myself lucky to have seen the family relaxed and playing.

The next morning I went for a walk before breakfast. On my way back, I thought someone's dark, tailless dog was walking ahead of me, but I quickly realized that it was the bear. Then I saw the cubs sort of playing around her in the road. They were going in the same direction and I wasn't very close, so I thought I would be ok following from a distance and enjoying another baby bear show.

My plan worked until I kicked a stick accidentally and the noise spooked her. She looked back and saw me. The cubs climbed up some trees very noisily and that was the last I heard from them the whole time. They didn't make a peep up there. I stopped still and she lost track of me and started moving off the road. 

She ended up sitting with her face to the road, like a sentinel. I thought that if I stayed still, she would decide it was better to leave with the babies, but she didn't.

After quite a while of waiting, I tried walking slowly down the road to see if maybe she would be cool with me, like the day before (when we had been much closer) or at least see me and make an informed decision to head off into the woods. Nope. She started walking towards me. I stopped near a tree and she lost me again and went back to her sentry spot. 

I waited about 10 minutes. I was late for breakfast, I hadn't told anyone I was taking a walk and I was getting nervous that I could be stuck there for a while, so I finally decided to go into the woods and give her and the road a wide berth.  I couldn't see her from the woods and when I got back on to the road, she was still there, looking right at me. She didn't come after me, so I just quickly walked back to Matt's house, glad that I didn't try to wait her out.

I survived my bear encounter, but I think it changed me a little. The family of black bears and my new printmaking knowledge are tied together permanently. You will have to stay tuned to see what that might mean.


 


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Monday, May 16, 2011

Playing Dirty

© Hannah Phelps
Painting Everything Red
oil on canvas, 8" x 8"

What is Hatrick doing with my paintbrush? Oh no, it is loaded with red paint! Maybe I can get it before -

AHHHHH, Hattie! Stop! You are making a mess!!

Oh well, if this becomes the label for the Mutt Lynch Winery’s 2011 limited edition wine, maybe I won’t mind the new decor.

Hatrick and I have entered this image in the 3rd Annual Dog Art Wine Label Contest hosted by Dog Art Today and Mutt Lynch Winery. If this painting is chosen, Hattie’s face will appear on 500 bottles of a very special blend the winery sells to benefit their local Healdsburg Animal Shelter.

This year, the contest has a theme - “Naughty”. Think Hattie is naughty enough to win?

You can VOTE for this painting at Dog Art Today!

Of course, enjoy the other 100 entries once you have clicked the link. At the  top and bottom of the page there are "Click Here to vote" links- the site tells you what to do.

Painting Everything Red is number 80.

Voting is open from today, May 16th, to next Saturday, May 21st at midnight  PST. The rule is “One computer, one vote”, so if you really love it you could find extra computers and vote multiple times if you want....

The prize includes a CASE of the wine. Maybe the winner of this contest would have a dog art party and serve some of this wine when it is ready to drink?

I guess there is only one way to find out, folks:

If you like the painting, vote for it at Dog Art Today!! 




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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mother's Day Blog Hop


© Hannah Phelps
Special Occasion
white-line woodcut

She was wearing a red polka-dotted dress underneath her warm home-made hooded sweater and fleece blanket. Maybe she started to fuss because she was hot swaddled in all those layers, but maybe she wanted to show off her dress.

It was the first time she had worn it - to Gramma’s 66th birthday dinner at a fancy restaurant. She stared wide-eyed at the wine, the antipasto, and the fresh bread as if she wished she was old enough to eat that instead of her liquid dinner.

She looked good in the little dress, of course. At three months old she could hardly look bad in anything. Plus, it is good to dress up to go out for a special occasion.

This dinner was very special - just the “girls”. Gramma, two daughters and one baby granddaughter. The only grandchild out for the first of many birthday dinners with her gramma.

Gramma was one of her first friends and, along with her mom, would always be one of her best friends. That is always something to celebrate.

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This is my contribution to Claudine Intner's Mother's Day Blog Hop. I hope you have been following along on the blogs listed below. If not, there is time to catch up and enter to win a really cool collage from Claudine - but only if you start hopping now!

- May 1st - Claudine Intner http://www.intner.net/blog
- May 2nd - Melissa Liban http://melissalibanillustrations.blogspot.com/
- May 3rd - Lynn Krawczyk http://fibraartysta.blogspot.com/
- May 4th - Ishita Bandyo http://www.ishitabandyoarts.blogspot.com/
- May 5th - Jeri Greenberg  http://www.Jerigreenbergart.blogspot.com
- May 6th - Kathleen Mattox http://mixedmessagesbykathleenmattox.blogspot.com/
- May 8th - Amanda Ruth http://bunnycarrots.blogspot.com/
- May 9th - Judi Hurwitt http://approachable-art.blogspot.com/
- May 10th - Kathleen Murphy http://kathleenmurphydesigns.blogspot.com/
- May 11th - Hannah Phelps http://hannahphelpsgallery.blogspot.com/
- May 12th - Helen Hiebert http://helenhiebertstudio.blogspot.com/ 
 
- May 14th - Hannah Klaus Hunter http://hannahklaushunter.blogspot.com/
- May 15th - Claudine Intner http://www.intner.net/blog/ 
 
 
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Coast in Contour

© Hannah Phelps
pen in sketchbook

Here’s Coast relaxing enough for me to draw him for The Sketchbook Project, which I can’t take for granted. During the sketchbook period, he wasn’t even a year old yet, so he rarely stayed still. There is a reason I have way more drawings of 4 year old Hatrick.



© Hannah Phelps
pen in sketchbook


But here are two. If you want to see them in person, The Sketchbook Project is now at the Brooklyn Art Library in New York before it heads out to Seattle for the next stop on its tour.

If the concept of filling out an assigned sketchbook to go on tour sounds like fun, you can certainly do it too - sketchbooks for next year’s exhibit are available now:

http://www.arthousecoop.com/projects/sketchbookproject

Just pick a theme and get started! I am going to do this again, but I am having trouble deciding on a theme.

Any ideas?

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Immersing Children in Water

© Hannah Phelps
Detail of Big Wave Day
oil on canvas

Great things are happening this coming summer!

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire has asked me for a few paintings for their upcoming group exhibit: Water - Blue Gold: Essential to All Life on Earth.

Tess Feltes, an artist herself and the curator of the Museum’s fine art space, Gallery 6, describes the show as “centered around this question, ‘Which is more precious - water or gold?’ You might predict a child would choose ‘gold’ but before answering, we are asking visitors to consider the facts outlined in the exhibit.”

All of  the artwork will feature water in some way. Some of it will be serious, but there will be some fun too - like a dog playing in the ocean perhaps....?

The Children’s Museum of NH has interactive exhibits all over the museum, but Gallery 6 - the central corridor that slopes from the first to second floors - is dedicated to fine art. 

The current exhibit, Black and White, showcases pen and ink drawings, photographs, scratchboard prints, collages and other interesting, colorless work. Tools of the trade hang next to artwork with explanations about how artists use pencils, brushes and other accessories to express an idea without using hue.

Children and their parents can rush from one game-like console to the other without looking at the artwork if they wish. 

But more likely, something catches their interest and they stop and study a piece and maybe wonder how it was done. Or where or by whom. And that starts them thinking about the process of art just as they wonder about the task of digging a dinosaur skeleton out of the ground or how a tiny seed becomes a giant tree.

To experience the magic of science and art for yourself despite your calendar age, be sure to visit Water: Blue Gold this summer!  

6 Washington Street
Dover, NH 03820

May 25 - Labor Day 2011
Reception: June 1st 5:30 - 7 pm
Psst: I promise that there will be delicious adult beverages at the reception....



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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Who Do I Think I Am?

 © Hannah Phelps
 Winter Color Study 
oil on board, 12" x 16"


More snow is coming to New Hampshire and I am thinking about how this winter has been particularly cruel to quite a few people I know and care about.

In the last couple of months, my father was in and out of the hospital for breathing problems.  His health continued to deteriorate and now he is gone.

During a brief stint at home between hospital visits, Dad was hooked to an oxygen machine and couldn’t leave the house. “I know how a leashed dog feels”, he told me over the phone.

Meanwhile, an artist I know reported that he broke his ankle after slipping on an icy driveway. He won’t be painting for a few months.

Another painting friend of mine hurt her knee and needs to take it easy for a while.

I know more than a few folks who have been bed-ridden with illness in the past few months.

And I also remember people I’ve loved who lost their mobility, sight, hearing, and even their minds to old age. They lost their ability to do the things they had enjoyed their whole lives.

So even though I don’t really feel like it, I’ve painted some landscapes, learned a new printmaking technique, competed in an agility trial and attended my figure drawing class.

Because I can. My limbs are healthy. I have nearly perfect eyesight. I breathe freely and easily. Who am I to take any of this for granted?

Even though I didn’t feel like it, I recently cross-country skied in the melting, squishy slush and I am going to ski on the snow that is on its way now.

Because despite what those in New England think right now, the snow won’t last forever.

And apparently neither will I.



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Friday, March 4, 2011

More Contour Dogs from the Sketchbook Project

 
 © Hannah Phelps
pen contour drawing in sketchbook


Here are two contour drawings of Hatrick from The Sketchbook Project. I explained the concept of contour drawing and my participation in The Sketchbook Project in this post last week.

Hattie is quite an accomplished model and has  previoiusly appeared in: Digging to Australia, Back with the Ball, Dog in a Ball and Pup Aware.


 © Hannah Phelps 
pen drawing in sketchbook

Right now, the sketchbooks are on display at The Brooklyn Art Library. Then they are making their way to the SPACE Gallery in Portland, ME.

Not much new to say about these drawings. It is easier to draw dogs when they are sleeping, so you are going to see a lot of lying down type poses like these.....


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Monday, February 28, 2011

Chilly River

© Hannah Phelps
W.I.P. of Water in Two States, Piscataquog River
oil on board, 14" x 18"


I painted outside the other day for the first time this winter. I've been busy creating inside as the snow piles up outside my windows - working on some big canvases from outdoor studies and carving/inking more white-line woodblocks.

Friday, New Hampshire got smacked with another storm. The next day the fresh snow was too much for me to ignore any longer and I had to get out there with my easel. Despite what everyone around here fears, this stuff isn’t going to be around forever and I need to paint it while it lasts.

I’ve shared the result at the top of this post. The Piscataquog River runs through my town, so short trips in any direction offer nice views of it. The painting still needs work, but I am pleased with what I have so far.

I cheated a bit with a trick I’ve wanted to try for a while. Before I left the studio, I used a photo of the river that I took a week ago to draw some thumbnails. I picked one to enhance into a value study and then drew that composition right onto my painting surface. When I arrived at the painting spot, I could just set up and paint without worrying about designing the picture. I already knew what my overall value play would be and where I wanted the river. With that shortcut, I was able to get a really good start on a mid-sized surface in an hour and fifteen minutes.

And yes, I did get cold and that is why I stopped. This is a bit frustrating, because I do know better. I was wearing my fashionable navy blue quilted coveralls, so my body was toasty, but my toes and fingers were numb and hurting. I have good boots and good socks, but I don’t have the special boots painter, Stapleton Kearns, recommends. I meant to get a pair for this year, but I haven’t yet. Maybe next winter.

I know how to keep my hands warm, but I rushed out without the proper gear. If you want to try painting outside but are afraid your hands will get too cold, the trick is to wear a sturdy heavy mitten on your rag hand because you don’t need dexterity to wipe a brush. On your brush hand, wear a thin or fingerless glove and keep a chemical warming pouch in your pocket to easily warm up your fingers when needed. Wristies work really well too, because they sort of collect heat in a little aura around your fingers. 
 
Another great tip a little league coach once told me is to smear moisturizer or petroleum jelly on your hands and use latex gloves to keep warm without getting too clumsy. He said it was the best way to keep a grip on baseballs and bats during early spring practices. It works for brushes too. Plus, your skin will be silky soft when you are done, if you care about that sort of thing.
 
Winter seems to be sticking around, so you may as well go outside and try to enjoy it....

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Contour Dogs

© Hannah Phelps
Contour Drawing of Coast
 pen 

Back in November, I signed up for The Sketchbook Project. (You may have noticed the logo on the sidebar...) The rules are wonderfully simple: order a Moleskine sketchbook, pick a theme, fill your sketchbook with anything you like (loosely related to your theme), send the sketchbook back to the sponsor, the Art House Co-op, and follow it online as it tours around the country for a year before landing in its permanent home in the Brooklyn Art Library. Doesn’t that sound fun?

Some people use their sketchbooks to do very finished pieces. There are folks who take all the pages out so they can sew in their favorite paper. I hear that people even put one giant poster in there, cleverly folded to fit in the book when it is closed.

Well, I didn’t futz with the pages (mostly because I don’t know how to sew) and I used the book in a more traditional sense. When artists go out with sketchbooks to draw, we are often playing with ideas or practicing drawing certain forms. Sticking pretty closely to my theme, “Raining Cats and Dogs”, I completed about 40 contour drawings of three Golden Retrievers - my Hatrick and Coast, and my sister’s dog Geraldine.

The term “contour drawing” means drawing the outside of the form. It is an exercise for learning to focus on looking hard at a subject in order to represent it accurately. Originally, I learned to do “blind contours” which meant looking only at the subject and not at all on the paper. In pure blind contours, the pencil doesn’t leave the paper, creating a continuous line as the eye follows the edge of the form.

Not always the outside edge - it could be any edge. For example, when I am drawing Coast’s face I might start with the outline created between his lip and the floor, but as his lip wrinkles a little and I can see some evidence of the structure of his nose, I leave the lip and continue my line into the interior of his face. That is how the eyes and nose and all that end up with detail. I am pretending that the pen is following the form in 3D..

With The Sketchbook Project, I bent the rules a bit. 
Hey, it’s MY sketchbook after all. So I did allow myself to peek at my paper. But not too much. The point of contour drawing is to look most often at what you are drawing and not at what you are creating. I draw my dogs because I am trying to learn more about them and contour drawing allows me to do that in a wonderful way. I have to trace their shapes with my pen just as I would stroke them with my hand. Most of the drawings have a bit of the essence of the dog's personality. Some of them are really weird, but that is fun too.

In case you are wondering - “Didn’t the dogs move?” Well, of course they did. They are highly paid, but they don’t really get the modeling thing. So they move. If it is early enough in the drawing, I just keep going and don’t worry that there are lines to nowhere. If it is a bit later into the drawing, I stop and start a new one.

Here is the secret - if I am working with the same three dogs all the time and I spend a lot of time around them, chances are I am going to see that pose again. So I just wait and finish it when they settle into a similar position.

I will share most of the sketchbook drawings here on the blog, including some of the odd ones. And you can see them in person, when you visit The Sketchbook Project in a city near you!



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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Uncertainty Principle

© Hannah Phelps
Study  done on Monhegan Island
oil on canvas, 3.75" x 8"

A couple of weeks ago, fellow artist Dora Ficher interviewed me for her blog. First off, she asked me to explain how someone who studied physics in college became an artist.  Dora wasn’t the first person to wonder about this. If you share her curiousity, you will probably enjoy the interview. I know you will like Dora's artwork on her website!

The rest of the story is that I am not a physicist now, but there are some things that I learned while playing with lasers and listening to lectures that I think about all the time - especially when I am creating art.  

One of these things is the Uncertainty Principle.

While I don’t bully my way through complex calculus equations anymore, I am kind of geeky, so I can still refer to the physics texts I have kept from college. Here is a quote:

“...experiment cannot simultaneously determine the exact value of a component  of momentum, px say, of a particle and also the exact value of its corresponding coordinate, x. Instead, our precision of measurement is inherently limited by the measurement process itself such that:    
∆px ∆x ≥ hbar/2” *

What this means is that scientists can’t know how fast something is moving and where it is at the same time. 
The act of measuring one of those things changes the other. In this case they are specifically talking about subatomic particles like electrons.

WAIT!! Where are you going?! 

Don’t just assume you won’t get this because it is physics!! You are probably smarter than you give yourself credit for, so bear with me!!

Because this is actually a mind-numbing, reality altering discovery that does affect you even if you think you don’t get it! Everything in the universe is made out of subatomic particles - including the landscape and including you and me. And the teeny tiny things that we are made of cannot be witnessed without being altered.

Haven’t you experienced that? Have you ever felt that while you are observing something, you are actually kind of missing it too?

This is when I feel it: Landscape artists use the phrase “capture a moment” all the time - especially plein air painters. I use it myself. But the truth is that while any of us are painting a scene, that very act prevents us from really looking at the truth all around us.

While I am looking in one direction, I have no idea what is going on behind me at the same time. When I watch one wave breaking, I then can’t paint that exact wave because it is gone. If I take a photo of that wave, I can’t track its motion. This makes our art exactly what our life is - a composite of memories of what we were focusing on one second at a time. 

And this doesn’t just apply to art or electrons: Sometimes at dog agility trials, a fellow competitor will hand me a video camera so I can tape her dog on course. Whenever I am asked to do this, I am shocked at how little I remember from my friend’s run. I obviously saw the whole thing through the camera, but I can’t tell her which bar came down or if the judge called a fault - I have as little idea about what really happened out there as if I wasn’t watching at all. That is because I wasn’t “watching” it. I was making sure the dog was in the shot and playing with the zoom.  

I sacrificed witnessing an event in order to record it.

This knowledge is why I don’t mind when I forget to bring my camera on painting trips. As a matter of fact, I often leave it home on purpose. I know that if I really want to experience the salt air, the warmth of the sun and the good company of my painting buddies, I can’t do it through a lens. I have to see it and feel it. And risk changing it all with my presence.


* Eisberg, Robert and Resnick, Robert. Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles. Second Edition. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1985, p. 65

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winter Show Off

© Hannah Phelps
Odiorne Rocks! and a gorgeous bouquet
Prints of the Year Exhibit, Concord, NH

Last Thursday, I joined a bunch of other artists and art enthusiasts at the Prints of the Year reception. This exhibit is curated by Parker Potter and celebrates New Hampshire printmakers in the UNH Law Center in Concord, NH. The Concord Garden Club created flower arrangements to accompany the prints hanging all over the Law Center. Above is one of my white-line woodcuts, “Odiorne Rocks!” with a beautiful arrangement by Patty Humphrey and Elaine Tefft. 


If you are interested in seeing an astounding variety of prints, this is the show to see. There are eighty-three pieces including lithographs, Japanese style woodblocks, etchings, silkscreens, monotypes, linoleum reliefs mezzotints and combinations of all these processes all in one place. 

© Hannah Phelps
Granite Composition
white-line woodcut print, 10" x 14"
Prints of the Year

One art reception isn’t really enough for one week, so on Friday I went to McGowan Fine Art, also in Concord, to celebrate the opening of the Love, Lust and Desire exhibit. Art that fits in 8.5” x 11” plastic sleeves cover the walls of the gallery. Sixty artists created “low fat alternative Valentines” for this show.

© copyright Hannah Phelps
Homemade Somebunny to Love
white-line woodcut print, 6" x 5.25"
Love, Lust and Desire

So if it stops snowing for a day or two and you feel like getting out of the house, head over to Concord and enjoy the exhibits.

Prints of the Year will be on display until April 1, but if you want to see both shows at one time you only have until February 12 to get to Love, Lust and Desire!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Better Way to Jump the Shark

copyright Hannah Phelps
View from Robert's House
oil on canvas, 6" x 12"


Quite a few months ago, a friend invited me to attend a panel discussion with her. The event, entitled “Surviving and Thriving in the Art World”, included some of New Hampshire’s best known artists, a gallery owner and a museum curator - all individuals I consider successful in their fields. If they were going to divulge their secrets to success in the art world, I was interested.

The moderator led the discussion with a pretty general question: “What is your number one advice for artists?”

The answer was a very long conversation between two of the panelists, a well-respected painter and the museum curator, about how horribly unfair the “art world” is and how hard it is for an artist to get their work noticed because of the skewed definition of what “art” is these days exemplified by the formaldehyde shark piece by Damien Hirst

I was feeling inspired already.

Then some of the other artists recounted their early days when they had no health insurance and wondered how they were going to feed their children. Teachers and school systems were blamed for not adequately educating children about the value of art. And then more depressing stories about rejection, lack of funds and horrible day jobs to earn any money at all (including hated teaching gigs).

There was a tiny mention of committing to your craft and keeping the passion for what you do to sustain you through the tough times.

Then some more talk about the formaldehyde shark and sensationalism replacing serious works of art in museums, galleries and public spaces, making it hard for a real artist to scrape out a living.

You don’t want to end an evening like this on the wrong note, after all.

I am not going to tell you who any of these people were or where the panel was located. I respect all of them and the work that they do. And, in my personal experience with many of them, they are nice, generous folks. But they disappointed me that evening.

I don’t need to go out of my way to have a debate about what art is or isn’t or who should get public funding and who shouldn’t or any other related topic. 
I hang out with artists all the time. I can have this conversation all day, everyday with a very willing audience. I know where to find the blogs and websites devoted to this very issue - those that find no value in the type of work I do because it is unimaginative and “too easy” to “copy” my environment and those that rage against all the conceptual, post-modern “crap” that demeans Art and steals resources from “real artists”.

And you know what? I spend zero time looking at those sites, reading any articles about any of this or engaged in conversations about the definition of “art”.

Do I think that a lot of people are spending too much money on terrible art? 
Yeah, I really do. Do I care? Not really. Anyone who is going to spend millions of dollars on rotting food sculptures, portraits made out of found heroin needles or toilet installations probably wouldn’t buy one of my landscapes anyway. That type of art enthusiast usually doesn’t respect the work I create any more than I would want a tour of their personalized collection.

The art world has split in two. That other half has nothing to do with me, so I don’t pay any more attention to it than I do golf tournaments, NASCAR or entertainment “news”.

It is easy to sit around and blame a corrupt and unfair system full of ignorance and spite for your lack of success. In any field. 
It is harder to ignore all that buzz, find the individuals and communities who will appreciate you and your work, and get down to business. You can spend your energy getting upset about a $12 million dollar dead shark at the Met. I have art to make.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lovin' 2011

copyright Hannah Phelps
Stuffed Puppylove
white-line woodcut print
6.5" x 6.5" approximate image size

I hope you are already having a wonderful New Year!

I can tell you definitively that I am, because my artwork is already in THREE shows in January!

While you can always check the sidebar on the right to see where my art is on display, here is a quick overview of this months events:

Love, Lust and Desire
January 25 - February 12
Reception Friday, January 28th, 5-7 pm
(Snow date: Feb 4)

This is McGowan Fine Art's Third Annual Valentine Show, so all the work is a perfect gift-giving size (under 8.5" x 11"). If you are looking for a "heartfelt" present for that special someone, this is the show for you.  I will have three prints in this show, including the one above.

Prints of the Year
January 10 - April 1

This exhibit at the Pierce Law Center in Concord, NH showcases work by New Hampshire printmakers created in 2010. Last year, I enjoyed attending this show and seeing the seemingly endless examples of what "printmaking" can mean.

This year, I can't wait to see what my fellow New Hampshire artists have accomplished. I am also proud to be showing alongside them with two white-line woodcuts. Look forward to more info about this exhibit soon!

Precious
until January 21

This small works exhibit at Soo Rye Art Gallery in Rye, NH is up for a couple more weeks, so there is still time to see my oil paintings there.

This may seem like enough to do for now, but there are even more projects in the works. You can keep checking back here for the latest news, but if you want to make sure to hear about exhibits, receptions (who doesn't want a little wine and cheese now and then?) and other events, sign up for my new email newsletter!

Click here to visit my website and sign up!

**I promise I won't share your information with anyone ever!!**

PS. Also, brand new this year is the Facebook "like" button below. Just another way to express yourself...