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Weekend Immersed in Art

April 14th, 2014

Weekend Immersed in Art

My weekend of Art & Culture began with the Artist Reception on Thursday April 10th, 2014 for Art Outside the Walls: en Plein Air, the exhibit at the Cultural Council of Palm Beach that showcases the artwork of the group I co-founded, Plein Air Palm Beach (PAPB). This is an exhibit I have been working on all season.

It is runs from April 11 June 7th, 2014 and can be seen during regular hours of the Cultural Council; Tuesday Saturday 10 AM 4PM. It is a joint project with the Cultural Council and Plein Air Palm Beach showcasing the work of local area and visiting artists.


We painted out in the 10 different locations, chosen from the members favorite places to paint in Palm Beach County, over the course of ten weeks, between December and February, going to a different location every week. Sometimes the weather did not cooperate but that did not stop the hard core artists.

During the course of this project, over 80 different artists participated and well over 200 paintings were produced. Not only was I a participating artist and organizer of the paint-outs, but together with Ralph Papa, co-founder of PAPB and Nichole Hickey, Director of Artistic Services at the Cultural Council, I helped plan the actual exhibit. So by the time the opening reception rolled around, I felt like a celebrity walking in on the red carpet. The natural high and floating feeling I got from this Artist Reception will keep me going for awhile.

The Reception

The artists I work with in PAPB are tremendous and all have been very supportive and encouraging during this project. The Cultural Council of Palm Beach, as usual has been very professional and is always a pleasure to work with. I have been an artist member of the Cultural Council for the past two years and highly encourage other artists to consider becoming members as well. It is so nice to have professional organization working for arts and culture in our area.

The second part of my arts weekend was my participation in the Atlantis Spring Fling Art Show and Sale. It is a very nice community event that includes an art show. It was fun to be with a group of artists and have a chance to show my work and even made a sale. With two other exhibits ongoing besides the above, most of my work is currently out being shown in exhibit. Not really a bad problem. Thus, I brought mostly artwork from my cruising travels to the Spring Fling Show. Sometimes I feel like Im not painting enough but when I pulled together my work for Spring Fling I realized I had quite a few paintings. Side benefit of preparing for a show and sale like this is that it really helps to get the artwork inventory organized. Besides it was fun to be chatting with other artists and Atlantis gave us a nice dinner to boot.

Finally, on Palm Sunday, I attended Seraphic Fire concert of Haydn: Last Seven Words. A good friend and I have season tickets and originally we were supposed to attend on Thursday in Boca, but that turned out to be the night of Cultural Council artist reception so we decided to reschedule to Sunday in Miami. The weather and traffic tried to thwart my plans; we encountered heavy rains and, at one point, a sign saying all lanes on I95 closed. So we had to get off and take the scenic route to Miami Beach. No problem, but we made it with only a minute to spare. The anxiety of the weather and traffic melted away as soon as Seraphic Fire began to sing. I was transported for a brief time to a place of sheer pleasure and beauty. After the concert, we took the scenic route back part way as the traffic was still snarled on 95. However, by now the sun was out, and we got to enjoy the ride and each other’s company.

My weekend immersion in art was complete.

Exhibit Art Outside the Walls en Plein Air

April 7th, 2014

Exhibit  Art Outside the Walls en Plein Air

The major exhibit of Plein Air Palm Beach, Art Outside the Walls: en Plein Air, will be on exhibit at the Cultural Council of Palm Beach from April 11th to June 7th 2014. The opening reception for artists and members of the Cultural Council is April 10th from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM. If you want to get a first look at this incredible exhibit and meet the artists, RSVP here

Plein Air Palm Beach, the group I co-founded with Ralph Papa is very pleased to have worked with Nichole Hickey, Manager of Artist Services at the Cultural Council, on this endeavor. This project was a major undertaking for our newly founded group and involved artists painting at ten of our favorite plein air locations around Palm Beach County. As to be expected, there were challenges, including a number of days of bad weather, not what one expects in beautiful South Florida. The solution was to have many make-up plaint-outs in order to have a good representation of the artists in our group as well as a good representation of the locations.

And it worked.

The body of work produced from these paint-outs was spectacular and it is going to be incredible seeing them all hanging together in the exhibit. Myself, I have several pieces in the exhibit; that of happens when one organizes the paint-outs.
Working on this exhibit has brought together two of my passions, painting and project management. Not only did I get to be an individual participant, but I was able to organize and orchestrate the project. As an individual participant, I am honored to be exhibited along with world class artists. Being the project manager was gratifying, not only in seeing the exhibit take place but also receiving the appreciation and support from all the participating artists

Plein Air Palm Beach at Everglades Day Festival

February 12th, 2014

Plein Air Palm Beach at Everglades Day Festival

It was a great day. Starting out very foggy, which cast a magical glow on the everglades, and later turned sunny and warm, it was a great day for plein air painting. Twenty-five of our artists showed up to paint, and while visitors for the day listened to talks at the pavilion, they could see the artists painting the beauty of the refuge. At the end of the day, we gathered in the visitors center theater for a meet and greet the artists.

It was great to see all the work produced that day all up on the artists easels during the gathering. While we were chatting with the visitors, the juror for the exhibit, Maxine Schreiber, circulated around and judged the works presented. When Steve and Maxine presented the awards, Maxine commented that she was impressed by the quality of the artwork. I have to agree, I am always humbled to have my artwork being displayed along with the truly great artists we have in Plein Air Palm Beach.

The Winners were:

First Place: Kerry Eriksen for Gator Oil on canvas

Second Place: Lorrie Turner for Foggy Morning Pastel

Third Place: Linda Apriletti for Willows and Lifting Fog Oil on Linen

HM: Stan Dornfest for Joyful Loxahatchee Acrylic on Canvas

HM: Sal Sidner for At the Pavillion Oil on Canvas board

HM: Elfirda Schragen for Two Trees Trail at Loxahatchee Oil on Canvas

There will be an exhibit of the paintings produced the day of Festival in the visitors center of the Wildlife Refuge that will run from March 5, 2014 April 30th, 2014. Be sure to visit the exhibit Plein Air Palm Beach Paints Loxahatchee and the take a look around the refuge that inspired the artwork, you wont be sorry. Twenty-five percent of sales of any artwork will go to Friends of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, a very worthwhile organization.

Tags: Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, artist, everglades, exhibition, exhibits, Florida, landscape, Loxahatchee, nature refuge, plein air, Plein Air Palm Beach

What I have been up too

February 4th, 2014

What I have been up too

Here is what has been keeping me busy both painting and organizing. Palm Beach Plein Air Artists began with Donna Walsh organizing paint-outs for Palm Beach Watercolor Society. At the same time Ralph Papa organized a Plein Air group to paint in and around Delray Beach FL. In the Spring of 2013, Ralph and Donna decided to merge the groups and thus became the co-founders of Plein Air Palm Beach. We decided to use the Plein Air Palm Beach as the group name, after consultation with key members of the meetup site since this most aptly describes the area where we schedule paint-outs.

We have regularly scheduled paint-outs twice a month from October to May. At the end of the second paint-out we meet for a group critique and a picnic lunch. This year we are planning for an exhibit at the Cultural Council of Palm Beach. The Cultural
Council is sponsoring ten paint-outs around the county and will host the exhibit "Art Outside the Walls: En Plein Air" from April 11, 2014 - June 7, 2014.

Plein Air Palm Beach mission is to work with members, local art groups, cultural centers and the public to support and enhance plein air painting, events and exhibits. We welcome support and sponsorship from the cultural community to enhance our mission. We are in the process of becoming a Florida non-profit group.

Using Cezanne still lifes as a teaching tool

January 26th, 2014

Using Cezanne still lifes as a teaching tool

Teaching forces an artist to consolidate ones own education, experience and knowledge of art history into a focused exercise in order to help the student learn. My own philosophy of teaching is to craft exercises where the student will discover new things on his or her own. That is the scientist part of me. To help students learn composition and creating form, I had them reproduce one of Czannes still lifes. I gave them a line drawing of Still Life with Apples to help them learn composition and how to define form with color and shading.

Cezanne was a Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th-century conception of artistic endeavor to a new world of art in the 20th century. He created space and depth of perspective by means of planes of color, which are freely associated and at the same time contrasted and compared. This was his way of translating and combining the observing eye of the artist and abstracting rather than reproducing nature. In so doing, he broke the rules of perspective and used this process to study the hypothesis of how to strip knowing from seeinghow to paint perception. During the last thirty years of his life, Paul Czanne painted the same objectsthe green vase, the rum bottle, the ginger pot, and the applesover and over again. This, in my opinion, is truly experimental painting. His multiple paintings of the same subject matter were data in his experiments with shape, color, and lighting.

When my students painted this Cezanne still life, they were dealing with some of the same issues with which Cezanne experimented. Even though they were using line drawings of Still Life with Apples and had reference photos of the original and a watercolor painting I did myself as a demonstration shown here, they still the same issues distinguishing knowing from seeing. This was most pronounced when some students attempted to draw the perspective correctly rather than taking Cezannes approach. After they have the experience of not liking their outcome, they are more receptive to advice on seeing and how to look at what they are trying to paint.

Picking a venue for exhibiting artwork

May 25th, 2013

Picking a venue for exhibiting artwork

I recently applied for and was accepted into the County Contemporary: All Media Juried Art Show. I am deeply honored to be among the group that was accepted by Juror Mark Richard Leach, Executive Director, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A representative of the Cultural Council told me they had a good response and had received over 450 entries, of which 44 were being showcased in the exhibit. Again, I felt honored and excited to be part of the exhibit. This exhibit opens June 14 and runs until September 7th and is located at Palm Beach Cultural Council located at 601 Lake Avenue, Lake Worth, Florida 33460. For more information see
A time-honored challenge for artists is to get ones work exposed to art admirers and collectors.
In pursuit of this goal, I entered the County Contemporary Show as it was sponsored by the Palm Beach Cultural Council. Ever since I became a member earlier this year, I have been impressed with the dedication and professionalism of the Council. The Cultural Council does impressive amount of promotion for the exhibits and other events that are held there. It is also just a wonderful space for an Art Exhibit. I thoroughly enjoyed the most recent Artist as Author exhibit held there and the corresponding lecture series.
When I first got active in the local artist community here in South East Florida, I joined many groups and began to exhibit with them. I found this a good way to get my feet wet, and I learned a lot about shows and juries.
I soon became a bit disillusioned as it seemed that the same people were always winning. While that would be acceptable, if the show and hence all the artwork in it was actually getting exposure, the venues were rarely publicized, and foot traffic to see the exhibit was purely by chance.
When I analyzed that it seemed this, in many cases, to be due to big-fish-in-a-small-pond situation. With member-only shows in local groups with membership numbers of approximately 150-250, and not all of whom would be entering a particular show, the role for newcomers seems to be mainly supplying the prize money in exchange for a miniscule chance of winning. Even with these shows being juried and thus the prize winners truly deserving of the, it becomes a bit of a catch 22. Newer members do not think it is worth the bother to enter and yet the group needs to get a certain number of entries to pull off the show.
To try to address this problem that small groups face, different groups have tried various solutions, such as:
Limiting the number of times year an artist can win a cash prize.
Having the juror select the group of painting that will be the prize winners and then the group leaders decides which artist gets which prize.
Coming up with special awards so that insiders who volunteer can be awarded.

All of these solutions pollute the small pond in my opinion. So at the end of the day I guess Id rather be a small fish in big pond as long as I like the pond Im in.

Art Theory is not like Scientific Theory

May 5th, 2013

Art Theory is not like Scientific Theory

Coming from a science background, I’ve often considered how theoretical constructs could be applied to art. It seems, to me, that, in the case of art theory, the major and most relevant questions are: “What is art?” and “Why is art valued?”

Because of this, the blurb from the book jacket of Cynthia Freedman’s But is it art? (Oxford University Press, 30 illustrations, 8 color plates, $16.95) immediately caught my eye.

In part, it read:

"In today's art world many strange, even shocking, things qualify as art. In this book, Cynthia Freeland explains why innovation and controversy are valued in the arts, weaving together philosophy and art theory with many fascinating examples. She discusses blood, beauty, culture, money, museums, sex, and politics, clarifying contemporary and historical accounts of the nature, function, and interpretation of the arts. Freeland also propels us into the future by surveying cutting-edge web sites, along with the latest research on the brain's role in perceiving art. This clear, provocative book engages with the big debates surrounding our responses to art and will prove an invaluable introduction to anyone interested in thinking about art.”

This book is an excellent introduction to art theory especially for someone, like myself, who has not spent the years of formal study necessary to establish conventional academic credentials. Comprehensive in scope, the book covers all the major theories and provides a jumping off point for those who wish more information. The author provides an historical framework of how philosophers and critics have approached the questions, with which I began this section.

The book examines both the business and politics of art with examples of good practice supported by extensive references. The author also shows how ‘cultural biases’ can be intervening variables in both the framing of the initial questions and the answers. For example, Freedman points out that the complex symbolic gardens of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France have few parallels in the West today.

She sets the stage for discussing contemporary art by pointing out where some of the classical art theories can't quite explain some of the art we see being created today. In the first chapter, she describs the use of blood in contemporary art but asserts that this use of blood in art in modern urban First World does have the same meaning it does in primitive rituals nor does its use promote the experience of aesthetic qualities like beauty and form. She suggests that other explanations and new art theories are needed to deal with this approach to media.

Because I am greatly interested in the juncture of neurobiology and art, I particularly enjoyed the section on mind, brain and art. Freedman connects the theories of Freud who saw art of expression, the pragmatist view of art developed by Nelson Goodman who wrote the Language of Art in 1968, with contemporary cognitive psychology. She does not delve into neuroscience but does report that Semir Zeki, a professor of neuroesthetics at University College in London, writes that he believes “that artists are in some sense neurologists, studying the brain with techniques that are unique to them but studying unknowingly the brain and its organization nevertheless.” I have followed a lot of Professor Zeki’s work, and my feeling is that he is referring to things like the way artists discovered that effect of simultaneous contrast in creating art without knowing the neuroscience that is behind the perception.

The author’s reasoned conclusion is the investigation of art theory, like scientific exploration, often leads to more questions than are answered.

Cynthia A. Freeland is the Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Houston and is also the author of Portraits & Persons, The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror and was the editor of Feminist Interpretations of Aristotle. But is it art? has been translated into 14 languages including both traditional and “simple” Chinese and Tamil and is also available as Art Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Her personal website is at

I’m a big believer in self-education throughout one’s life. Between the Palm Beach libraries, the Paperback Book Swap website and my Nook, I’m getting a pretty good art theory education.

Plein Air at Le Cirque Delray - March 25th 2013

March 25th, 2013

Plein Air at Le Cirque Delray  -   March 25th 2013

Well it's Spring in Delray Beach, which means it is starting to get hot. But the weather was great for the opening event for Delray Marketplace: Le Cirque Delray.

I decided it might be a good place to paint-out so I organized an outing for my plein air group. Although several signed up, only two of us found each other amid the chaos of marching bands and costumed superheroes.

Even before I realized it was going to get hot and muggy, I had staked out spot in the shade by the bounce house. This turned to be a good idea as my fellow artist succumbed to heat exhaustion and had to be taken to the hospital by the paramedics. I gathered up all her art supplies, and she came by later in the evening to pick them up.

Many of the people attending the event thought I was part of the entertainment and asked if I were doing caricatures or face painting. My husband came by and we had lunch at Terra Fiamma. It was fantastic, and you can see his review of it on TripAdvisor.

I decided to paint some of the architecture. This is great way to force yourself, as an artist, to get the correct perspective as you can hear the comments of those passing by. It's always better to hear "Oh, I see she is painting the building" rather than "What is the World is that?"

All painting is a very intimate encounter, but painting plein air is even more so. I do find it challenging to work in this manner and often have to do a lot more work on the painting back in the studio, but I love painting outside, even in a mall.

It is like being all by yourself with your subject while at the same time being in the middle of a crowd. The major difference is once you set up the crowd has to walk around you.

This proved to be a serious problem when our the group was painting at Delray Beach Play House at Lake Ida Park East . We were having our critique session, and suddenly, three busloads of school kids were having a picnic around us. The kids were very good but it was still too much for us, so we had to call it quits that day.

Delray Marketplace is a good place to paint, and because of the 911 call, I got to talk with the manager of the complex, Amy Ferguson, who told me she wants to have our group back at another time. It's very nice that the businesses are so receptive to artists painting at their locations.

Plein Air Artists are often looking toward the past, in that they document the structures of a town before they are torn down; at Delray Marketplace, we were at the opening.

Can't wait to see the bougainvillea next year on the archways! It will give us some nice shade to paint under.

Artist as Author Exhibition - Opening March 16th 2013

March 25th, 2013

Artist as Author Exhibition -  Opening March 16th 2013

My husband, John and I were at the opening of the Artist as Author: An exhibition of artists in various creative disciplines who are authors and it was splendid. It is presented by Cultural Council of Palm Beach County at the Councils headquarters at 601 Lake St, Lake Worth. The exhibit will be there until May 18, 2013.

It was fun to drive up to the valet, turn over our keys and enter a magical space of art and culture. Elaine Meier is the guest curator for the exhibit and has this to say about it: "Artist as Author is a celebration of creative talent as well as an exploration of the relationship between the arts and the written word. The artist participating in this exhibit work in multiple disciplines but they all share a passion for excellence... and a Palm Beach County address."

The exhibit is fantastic and the opening was a wonderful opportunity to see the work, meet the artists/authors and be with others who appreciate culture in Palm Beach County. There are fourteen artists as authors in this exhibit, all of them captivating. I guess the one that really caught my eye was Sandra Thompson. She is known for her quintessential paintings of Palm Beach. I was immediately drawn in to paintings and felt like I could walk around in them all day. My eyes did feast on them for some time.

Great job by all at Cultural Council of Palm Beach with this event. To find out more information about the exhibit see Artist as Author Exhibit

My Next Step - March 3rd 2013

March 25th, 2013

My Next Step  -  March 3rd 2013

Getting back to painting more regularly has been good: good for me and good for my work. Painting is a lot like dance. The muscles don't forget, but to be good requires constant practice.

One of the directions I have been exploring is a mixed media approach using digitized watercolor combined with photography and digital painting. The initial step is to complete a watercolor in the conventional manner. To create the initial image, there is nothing that can replace the dynamic and expressive way watercolor develops on paper. Then, it is converted to a digital image. It is quite exciting to see the details in an enlarged format in a digital image. This approach reveals a level of exquisiteness inherent in pigment in water that is otherwise invisible.

Once the image has been digitized, I combine it with a digital photograph, usually one of the images from my �nature�s wonders� series. I, then, break up the photo highlighting design elements of the photograph and integrate them into the watercolor image. In this way, I create the effect of the complexity multiple layers of nature and, if all works well, reveal a level of beauty that is otherwise unobtainable.

One of the digital paintings I've created with this process is Hidden Orchid. Here, I have used a spider-webbing technique on the original watercolor with colors that incorporate the light and reflections of an orchid I photographed growing on a tree. The photograph was manipulated also digitally to isolate the blossom and stem. The background light of the photograph was further broken up and moved to enhance design and to integrate that image with the watercolor. The watercolor image was also modified for transparency, and several layers of different sections with varieties of transparency were integrated with the blossom to give the effect of the complexity beneath the beauty of the blossoming orchid.

I have been pleased that the work I've completed in this Art/Science series has been well received on Fine Art America and my CafePress Store, Donna's Art for Everyone As much as I'd love to be seen as the next great artist to collect and have collectors in a bidding war over my work, I truly believe in art being accessible to everyone. So, the fact that prints and merchandise of this new direction has had recent sales encourages me to believe that people are responding to my art. The problem is most of the local venues for group exhibits do not allow digital work, so I am looking into finding venues that do allow it. In my view, this is �the new art� of our time, and resistance to it has to be expected.


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