Monday, November 20, 2017

Braving the Elements

After a busy summer and fall art show season, the closing months of this year mean that it's time for me to turn my focus to preparing for 2018. An important element of my preparation for the year ahead is to gather source material and inspiration during these quieter months when I'm not in the midst of a packed show schedule.

I just returned from a brief trip to Chicago, where I delivered a large cityscape painting to a collector, visited family, and then slipped into downtown for a day to browse the Art Institute of Chicago and snap some reference photos. These opportunities to prowl the city and look at beautiful artwork while also gathering ideas are absolutely essential to sustaining my creative energy during my busy exhibition season.

Futago Islands, Matsushima by Kawase Hasui, 1933

With apologies for my reflection in the photo, this is
Futago Islands, Matsushima by Kawase Hasui, 1933

The Art Institute had a fantastic exhibition of Japanese prints on display. It was right up my alley: "City and Country: Prints from Early 20th Century Japan." Thanks to my past visits to the Freer Museum of Art in Washington, DC, where they specialize in Asian artwork, I've gained a great admiration for Japanese woodblock prints.

A rain-soaked view below the elevated train
platform in downtown Chicago

After spending some time at the museum, I ventured out into the downtown area of Chicago. A cold rain descended not too long after I stepped outside. While it made things challenging (digital cameras are not built for wind-driven rainfall), I was able to find several interesting subjects that will become the basis for upcoming cityscape paintings in the coming months.

This change of scene from nearby East Coast cities, such as Philadelphia and New York, is so vital for me. I love the different energy and subjects in new venues, so it makes braving the elements worthwhile. Besides, Chicagoans are so polite that they won't even step in front of me when I line up to take a photo. Not only is the city full of interesting architecture and cool vistas, the people are nice, too! Stay tuned in the coming months for the fruits of this labor.