Catherine Nolin’s paintings take my breath away. Her gorgeous room portraits, still lifes, and botanical designs are defined by rich, vibrant colors, intricate patterns and luscious textures, each a sensual feast for the eyes steeped in antiquity.
A self-taught artist based in Andover, Massachusetts, Catherine says she’s always thinking about color and became fascinated with the emotional impact of various color combinations at a young age. The youngest of six sisters, she grew up in a family where Italian traditions were fundamental.
When I was 10 years old, a family friend, an artist, recognized my talent and enrolled me in a class at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. After that seminal experience, I continued to draw and in high school I practiced drawing furniture pieces and chairs with fabric patterns. The Italian Renaissance became my favorite art history period and I often incorporated objects and themes from this period into my work. In college, I studied pottery, figure drawing and art history.
Painting became a necessary form of therapy when she had her third son, who is autistic. This “part-time escape” soon evolved into a full time profession.
1. For this important, historic day, let’s start with food, glorious food, courtesy of British artist Lucy Crick. She lives and works in Suffolk, and has been painting still life oils since art school.
She’s all about “dramatic lighting, careful staging, and attention to detail,” which adds a touch of magic to her otherwise everyday subjects.
Her work reflects her love of the traditional still lives of the Dutch Golden Age, and she paints mainly on board or wooden panels. I suppose one could categorize her paintings as “photorealistic.”
Fancy a leisurely drive along the French Riviera, perhaps stopping at a friend’s apartment for coffee and pastries? If her piano’s in tune, she’ll regale you with an exquisite rendition of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune,” her flamingos, peacock and toucan in attendance.
Later, if you’re in the mood for a swim, the two of you can head for the beach, where you can stretch out under a fringed umbrella with a bottle of champagne. Ah, this is the life!
Canadian artist Lisa Finch loves to create scenes like these, painting stories with a unique vintage voice. Her pictures are perfect for those who appreciate old world nostalgia with a touch of whimsy.
She welcomes visitors to her French Canvas Studio like this:
Imagine you’re stepping into a little studio filled with paints, jars of brushes and lots of canvases, Some with works started, others drying, some just blank, waiting patiently. In the corner you’ll find an old easel, my father’s, given to me years ago when I was just a young woman.
Along the only solid wall in this studio, is a great French armoire with a large mirror on the centre door that I try to avoid looking at when I enter in the morning. It has its purpose, but my reflection is not the one I need. If you open the doors on this antique cabinet, they protest with a moan as they reveal rolls of wrapping paper and packaging for items waiting to be shipped.
Behind my desk, there is a large window that fills this little room with natural light and on rainy days, I turn on an old lamp that I rescued from the side of the road and a makeshift spotlight that holds onto my easel for dear life. It’s through this window that I often catch myself dreaming as I watch the towering maple trees in the yard sway and the squirrels maneuver through their branches like acrobats and where the birds, hidden somewhere in the foliage, let out a song that makes me wish I could sing.
Are you a tormented genius? Do you suffer for your art?
Here’s what Maine poet Alice N. Persons has to say about that.
CALL ME BOURGEOIS by Alice N. Persons
After watching “Pollock”, with Ed Harris
as the tormented genius,
I couldn’t sleep,
thinking about suffering and art.
Should I feel a little shallow
because I’m not a drunk or a slave
to drugs, I pay my bills, like to cook,
and no believer in my genius supports me?
When I have a bad day,
instead of waking up fiercely hung over
and filthy on a Manhattan street,
at the end of this trying day
I do the dull, comforting routines —
let the dogs out, fill the cat food bowl,
floss, check email, and usually (not always)
behave like a grownup
who happens to be a poet.
I don’t like to wear black all the time.
Bad poets performing their work embarrass me.
I’m all for people expressing themselves,
but I also want them to shower,
and they had better not turn over any
Thanksgiving dinner tables in my vicinity.
Pain makes art
but so do pleasure and normalcy.
Sometimes the quietest person in the band
produces the purest and most lovely sound.
Call me amused, and you can certainly call me bourgeois. I’m with Alice on this one. 🙂
I admit when I was younger, the starving, suffering artist trope appealed to me. After I read the Beat Poets, I wanted to go On the Road with Jack Kerouac. The thought of hanging out in dark cafés with beatniks wearing black berets snapping their fingers sounded real cool, daddy-o.
The only thing that mattered was the art, man. Living, breathing, and making it. Who needed food when you could live off creative vapors?
We grow up hearing about artistic geniuses whose lives were full of high drama. They’re often depressed, anxious, schizophrenic, suicidal, or delusional, many of them addicted to alcohol or other drugs. And we wonder — if their lives had been more “normal,” ho-hum, pedestrian — would they have been able to create the works they did?
Abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock, for one, was an alcoholic who was diagnosed as clinically neurotic (speculation he may have been bipolar). Prone to drinking binges and drunken stupors, he was largely reclusive and had a volatile personality. His wife Lee Krasner (also an artist) had a huge influence on his work and career. Pollock benefited from Krasner’s extensive knowledge of and training in modern art, and she also introduced him to many critics, collectors, and other artists. Most important, she believed in him, and he implicitly trusted her judgment and opinions.
I love figurative paintings of readers, and have noted through the years that there are oodles of them. Most of the subjects are women, and many appear to be well-to-do, with the leisure to lounge on plush sofas or perch on uncomfortable chairs near a window, lost in the printed word.
Of course I always wonder what they’re reading and what their daily lives are like. Since I also love books, I feel a decided kinship with them, even though thousands of miles and more than a century may separate us.
Recently, readers dressed in blue have been calling out to me. Perhaps I’m drawn to blue’s peace, calm, and serenity. Spiritually, the color bluesymbolizes the healing power of God — much needed in these terribly troubling times. And the readers themselves seem content and contemplative, making me feel better.
In any case, I hope you enjoy gazing at these blue readers, joining them, for just a few minutes, in their fascinating worlds (I also managed to dig up a few men). 🙂