Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A long About Me post

(Today's post is dedicated to my Mom) 

I know that blogging is not what it used to be, but I needed a place to put this biography.  People like the back story. 

I grew up in Elgin, Illinois a mid-sized suburb of Chicago, famous for the Elgin watch. My Mother was a single Mother (way back when that was unheard of) and both she and her Mother had actually worked at the Elgin watch factory.  Elgin was a factory town and the factories paid far better than secretarial jobs. As a child I was thrilled by the prospect of art, but there was no encouragement there. No one in my family had any artistic notions (although I remember my Mother could draw with ease).  Salvador Dali was a media star in the 50’s. Because of him the mantra was “See, all artists are nuts”! (Talk about dissuasion, Thanks a lot, Salvador). Despite that, my childhood was cool in many ways.  This was when children got to be on their own all day until the streetlights come on.  I felt like a small pirate, marauding the streets of Elgin and I’m grateful because all that contributed to a positive autonomy. 

I attended the Art Institute of Chicago, but my education there was cut short* and I moved to Florida. *And just as well, the “Artspeak” was way over my head when I was 18.

Not many professions could be farther from art than claims adjuster, but that’s what I did in Florida.  And it was a good job too, because everyone in Florida drives abysmally. I met my first husband Dave there and we moved to Portland in the mid 70s.

In Portland I went back to school to study Graphic Design. I wound up working for the crème de la crème, Weiden + Kennedy (famous for the Nike ads). I lived and breathed communication art, until I didn’t.  It’s safe to say almost all  “commercial artists” reach a saturation point.  And the entire time I was in advertising I longed to paint (like my impressionist heroes)…. but how exactly does that happen?

There is a wonderful quote by Max Ehrmann: “Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should” It accurately describes how after a long and (mostly) successful marriage I met and fell in love with Dave #2 (I had to number them). Dave #1 ultimately married his college sweetheart and he and I remain friends.  

In 2004 I was helping Dave (#2) with his rental house. I actually laid the linoleum in the kitchen all by myself.  When I got home that day there was a full size artist’s easel in the front room. It had a sign on it that read “Happy Birthday” (It was July and my birthday is in December).  Since that day I have painted a LOT.  That easel was by far the best present I have ever gotten, because of the world it opened up for me.

Oil painting is not really very intuitive. It is like learning a new language; you have to find out the basic “rules” or you’re completely sunk.  I took workshops and inched along, but my best decisions were to find like-minded people and to begin painting on a daily basis. (Thanks, Carol Marine)!

Over the years I helped establish a regional art collective: “Alla Prima Portland”. We’ve been meeting for years once a week to discuss art topics and share our current work. I found out that learning to paint doesn’t really have to cost so much…you can learn from your friends.  But at Alla Prima Portland we make it a point to never critique one another’s work. We just talk about what we did and share the results.  Neutrally! Like Andy Warhol said: "Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art."

During the past decade I have:
  • Shown my work in countless venues (ok, I counted them, well over 100)
  • Conducted and blogged 100s of Alla Prima Portland meetings*
  • Participated in all manner of group shows, solo shows, art fairs, juried shows, invitationals and outdoor painting competitions (and picked up some awards along the way)
  • Presented several lectures on “How to stay Motivated in Painting” 
  • Become a member of the advisory board for the Annual Pacific Northwest Plein Air event (Maryhill Museum)
  • Embraced the status of  lifelong "learner" (like golf, there is no end to learning about oil painting)
(All this to say...not bad for someone who washed out of the Art Institute of Chicago). Now, my Mother would not be happy with all this boasting, but I write this in hopes another person who thinks they can't possibly pick up a brush will go ahead and.....pick up a brush.

Celeste
2018

*(The blog I author recently received a “Top 100 Portland Blog award" I know blogs aren’t as hot as they used to be, but ours is still a great communication tool).

P.S. Dave #2 is David Burbach a brilliant photographer who documents many community art events as well as our daily life (Thanks for the easel, D2)  💗

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