Welcome to the March issue of
Off the Easel
I hope you enjoy the March issue of Off the Easel. A warm welcome to new subscribers, and thanks to everyone for your continued interest and support of my work.
As March ushers in the blossoming spring, with its promise of warmer temperatures and delicate golden light, it is also a great time to think about new growth, creativity, and change. In that spirit, there are two very important news items to highlight this month.
First of all, in order to have more creative production time, I have decided to have my downtown studio open only for certain monthly Gallery Hops. Read on for more details, but please note that I will be closed for this Friday's March 6th Hop. Please plan to rejoin us in April!
Secondly, be sure to sign up for my upcoming workshop Mastering Color, open to artists of any skill level and using any media in which you feel well versed. This workshop will be held at my studio the last weekend in March. Further details are below, as well as on my website.
This month, in honor of St Patrick's Day, I've included two pieces below in which I depict Irish sites. Something I love about Ireland is how history, myth, and legend all seamlessly interweave within the cultural tapestry of the country, giving you access to the strong pulse of the land if you are willing to feel it. I hope to give you a sense of this as you read my descriptions of these sites and the inspiration behind my work.
I hope everyone enjoys the lengthening days of the coming spring!
All the best,
Mastering Color Workshop
Who and When. Saturday March 28, 11 AM - 6 PM, and Sunday March 29, 1 - 4 PM. Open to all skill levels and media. Class size is limited to allow for plenty of one-on-one instruction time, so please reserve your place today! Registration deadline: Saturday, March 21st.
Where. My studio in the Artists On Liberty Building, 521 North Liberty Street between 6th and 5th Streets, downtown Winston-Salem, NC. (See photograph above the Gallery Hops article on the right.)
Course Description. Does your heart sing when you see an array of new pigments in every color of the rainbow? Do you get overwhelmed by the choices, or stumped when it comes to using them effectively? Whether you are just getting your feet wet with your media, or if you are a seasoned professional who wants more information about the nuances of that most emotionally evocative of elements, this is the perfect workshop experience for you! Learn how colors affect each other as well as the viewer's perception. Train your eye to discern subtle differences in hue, and learn to evoke whatever emotional response you wish through your compositional color choices. If you have taken my workshop Exploring Color in the past, with Mastering Color you'll find exciting, newly updated information. Participants may work in any media in which they feel well versed. We will begin the first day with a lecture component and an exploration of art history, followed by hands-on exercises and projects tailored to your experience level.
You will be given a Suggested Materials List and emailed a set of handouts upon registration. Participants using any media are welcome, including photographers with laptops and photo editing software.
To Register. Contact me for further details and to register by Saturday, March 21st. Accepted payment methods include cash, check or credit card (Visa, Master Card, Discover, or American Express). Pay in advance and get the special inaugural studio workshop rate of only $100! For registered participants paying after March 21st, the cost is $125.
Above: Mastering Color - the three primaries
© 2015 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
In February, I tweeted the painting above, The Manifestation of Rabbit. I asked followers to count how many invisible rabbits they could find, and I think a few people all over the world are still counting rabbits! After one follower suggested I retweet the painting around Eastertime, and considering this is also the month of the March Hare, this issue seemed like a good time to include the piece here for everyone to join in the fun. Local subscribers may recall seeing this work in person, and if you have visited my downtown studio during one of the Gallery Hops, I probably had you looking for rabbits. But do you know the full backstory of the piece? As I always say, everything I paint really happened.
On our first trip to Ireland in the fall of 2001, I was thrilled to visit the Lough Gur region, around half an hour south of Limerick. Lough Gur is an area rich in both archeological remains and legend. Nearby, in Knockainy, is the sacred hill Cnoc Áine, the ceremonial inauguration site for the ancient kings of Munster, the southwestern "fifth" division of Éire. Cnoc Áine features several prehistoric sites, including a burial mound at the summit said to be the sidhe1 mound of the Irish Celtic Cnoc Áine at Midsummer, in more recent times, she also became known as Queen of the Faeries.Goddess Áine. A Goddess of love, fertility, and prosperity, Áine created Lough Gur, and local legends about her abound. Honored on 2
My map of the sites on the cnoc left a lot to be desired. I was searching for what was labelled a holy well, but we were completely turned around. Once we started heading in the correct direction, we crossed field after field, carefully dodging the electric wire fences that ran between each segment of land. Then at last, in the distance, we saw a fairly short standing stone. As we approached, a rabbit ran out, appearing to form out of the stone itself. He is depicted here, but how many invisible rabbits can you find? Be sure to take a few moments with the painting before you read further!
There is also a secret to the stone. Did you see it? After our rabbit friend ran away, I felt compelled to run my hands along the edges of the stone. It felt quite smooth, as if I was not the first person to have this idea. What surprised me, though, is how for all the world, the stone felt like the contours of a woman's body. Inspired by the art of the Celts, in which they represented neither one thing nor another but both, I wanted to depict the stone as a woman with raised arms. I did not have to alter the stone's actual appearance much at all to create this effect. I tried to put the semblance of facial features on the stone with lichen to play with the balance, but this was way too much -- thus confirming that I had the illusion exactly in the middle where it needed to be.
When seeking rabbits, some viewers see a running hare in the long, low cloud on the right - I wish I had thought of that! Some find a rabbit in the stone instead of a woman -- her breasts become the cheeks; her arms, the ears. Rabbits multiply, and I agree she looks rabbit-like. Some viewers see her raised arms as angel wings. I imagine she is Áine.
Want to know how many intentional rabbits there are and their location? Email me for the answer and the rest of the story!
Keep counting rabbits! High quality giclee reproductions, printed on archival rag watercolor paper with archival inks, are available of this painting. Visit my website for details on pricing and available sizes -- this would be the perfect addition to your Easter basket!
To view Irish landscapes from my series Aisling: an Artist's Vision of Ireland in oil, pastel, and black and white photography, please visit my website today!
1. Sidhe (singular sidh; pron. "shee") or sí is Irish Gaelic for fairy. For example, Bean Sidhe is Bean (woman) + Sidhe (fairy) = Banshee.
2. These beings are respectfully referred to by a more indirect phrase, such as the Fair Folk or Good People.
Above: Manifestation of Rabbit
oil on linen, 30" x 36"
© 2007 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
Standing stone on Cnoc Áine,
Knockainy, Co Limerick, Republic of Ireland
In order to devote more much-needed time to artwork creation, I have decided to participate in the Downtown Art District Association's First Friday Gallery Hops only during the following months in 2015: April, May, June, August, September, and December. During the month of March, however, I'd be delighted for you to schedule an appointment for a studio visit. Be sure to refer to future monthly newsletters for further details, and please visit my studio at the Artists On Liberty Building during these upcoming events!
The Downtown Art District Association's First Friday Gallery Hops are held the first Friday of each month from 7-10 PM, in Winston-Salem, NC. Save the date: the April Hop will be Friday, April 3rd.
Above: The Artists On Liberty Building
521 North Liberty Street, Winston-Salem, NC
Upcoming Blog Posts
Have you been to my blog site, Drinking from the Well of Inspiration? Be sure to read the long-awaited tale about The Day We Left Orkney. Part I: You *Can* Get There From Here. Then check back in the next few days, after I publish Part II: The Best Artist You May Have Never Heard Of, Unless You've Been to Orkney. In this second part of the tale of our spontaneous day in Stromness, I describe our rainy afternoon at the Pier Arts Centre, discovering the fabulous work of artist Sylvia Wishart.
One of the things that first drew me to Wishart's works was her tendency to include Orkney's wildlife in her compositions. We had hoped to see one of Orkney's famous fluffy white seal pups while we were there, since the pupping season for the grey seal begins in late September. We were thrilled to see the seals above right in front of our bed and breakfast one morning, but alas, the white on the smaller fellow was only the bright sunlight hitting a pale grey coat.
Speaking of determination to find something noteworthy while travelling, have you heard about my Ahab-like quest for ammonite fossils on England's Jurassic Coast? I'll soon be sharing this cautionary tale about how things you want can allude you if you try too hard instead of just allowing them to come to you.
Be sure to subscribe to the blog to receive immediate notice when these and other future posts are published! Thank you to those who have recently visited my blog, and a special thanks to those of you who have recently subscribed.
Above: Seal with Pup
In front of our bed and breakfast, Ophir, Orkney
© 2012 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
In Honor of St Patrick's Day
On the west coast of Ireland in Co Mayo, the road from Louisburgh to Westport takes you right by the base of Croagh Patrick, also known as the Reek. You can feel the energy pulsating off this revered mountain as you drive past. Venerated since prehistoric times, Croagh Patrick was once a focal point for Celts as they celebrated the beginning of the harvest; they left behind a hillfort on the summit. Neolithic rock art can also be found along the pilgrimage trail.
Cruagh Phádraig in Irish Gaelic, this sacred mountain is associated with Ireland's patron saint who fasted for 40 days on the summit; this is where he is said to have cast the snakes from the Emerald Isle. Faithfully on Reek Sunday, the last Sunday in July, devoted pilgrims climb to the top -- the truly penitent ascending barefoot or on their knees, while some observe the 22 mile long ancient pilgrimage route that begins at Ballintubber Abbey, the site of a church founded by St Patrick. I found it difficult enough to find footing on the path of loose rock chips while wearing sturdy hiking boots; it amazes me that the devout are able to make the assent barefoot.
The climb up Croagh Patrick affords you truly stunning views of Clew Bay, the watery domain of famous Irish pirate queen Grainne Uaile or Granuaile, known as Grace O'Malley. It is said that there is an island in Clew Bay for every day of the year. One such vista during our hike inspired me to create the pastel pictured above: View of Clew Bay Off Croagh Patrick. You can get a sense of the Reek's loose, rocky path on the central and lower right of the composition. While making the climb, we were glad to be dressed in layers, and with waterproof hooded jackets. The weather that day was quite fickle; both temperature and risk of precipitation kept changing, then shifting back again.
Happy St Patrick's Day, everyone!
Should you be interested in purchasing this work, it is available. Please email me for further information.
Above: View of Clew Bay Off Croagh Patrick
pastel on paper, 15” x 22”
© 2007-10 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
Between Louisburgh and Westport, Co Mayo
Republic of Ireland
Seeing this on Twitter?
I am thrilled that to date, my February newsletter link has received 1,230 clicks on Twitter, even more than the January issue! If you are reading this via Twitter, thank you very much for your interest, and I hope you like what you see. Why wait to find my future newsletters on Twitter when you can subscribe? Click here to subscribe to my mailing list today!
If you are a newsletter subscriber and you are on Twitter, remember that you can follow me here: @AFunderburkArt. My husband, photographer James C. Williams, can be found @JCWilliamsphoto.
Above: Spring's Bright Promise - the first crocus!
© 2015 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
My garden, Winston-Salem, NC