Detail of the new mural
Folks at the ribbon cutting
Thank you to everyone who came to the ribbon cutting for the new mural at Mercer Park Aquatic Center! The mural, a colorful cityscape, is made of Lexan™ panels with interactive moving parts inspired by STEAM topics (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). On the upper panels I drew downtown Iowa City with the Courthouse, Old Capitol, and Clock Tower. I also painted the sun and moon, and a mosque, synagogue, church and temple as I saw people feeling safe to play.
The mural was a collaborative project — I worked with artists and engineers from the University of Iowa College of Engineering NEXUS Program, Iowa City Parks and Recreation, and more members of the Iowa City community. The ceremony program (shown at bottom left, click to view larger) gives special thanks to some of the people most involved, and this article in The Daily Iowan does a great job of describing the collaboration:
I’ll show more of the process of making the mural in future posts. As my artist’s statement says, “For me this was a gift to celebrate joy and playfulness and to be creative during these disturbing times of suffering. Creating art is meditative, reflective and helps ground me. I experienced a sense of oneness with the Mercer family and the Iowa City community that gave me a sense of grace and solace.”
Program from the ribbon cutting,
plus a few extra thanks
(click image to view larger)
Whitney and Grace
The Iowa Watercolor Society’s Traveling Show is a selection of works from a variety of Iowa artists, chosen each year from the Society’s juried exhibition. I’m honored to have one of my paintings (After the Rain, We Play, shown here) in the 2017–2018 show which will travel to: (contact galleries for exact dates/times)
After the Rain, We Play
Schedule information is from the Traveling Show page of IWS’s website, where you can find more details plus a preview of the exhibit!
From the workshop in May, looking for what to paint
(Photo on the left courtesy of Mary M. de Baca)
View from the Coverdales’ window
During our workshops at the “Coverdale Art Institute” Mike says he hears a lot of laughter as people are relaxed and following along. We begin looking at the yard with a view finder, noticing the light on trees and flowers, birds etc. This is the meditation part to bring us into the moment of the Coverdales’ beautiful yard and letting go of our daily lives.
We start painting with a sampler of the techniques we will be using for the day, usually involving chickens to show color mixing on the paper, then trees with foliage, lifting out fences, tree limbs, finding the big shapes in the flower garden and individual flower techniques. The artists go home with a painting they are proud of.
(Photos are from the May and July workshops.)
A sampler of watercolor techniques
A painting of our surroundings
Around the table in May (left) and July (right)
(Photos courtesy of Mike Coverdale)
(Left) Window view with Chauncey building construction
(Right) Detail: My imagined rooftop café will have a great view of the park
Another window view, painted when I was supposed to rest the knees. I am watching the construction of the Chauncey building which will be next to the parking ramp shown on the left. Staging for the construction has taken over Chauncey Swan Park, the closest part of the area next to the ramp. It will be redeveloped as a park space when the building is done.
The scene is very active as the brick building shown on the right has been a French café, dance studio, Realtor office, piano studio, and now houses the Community Foundation of Johnson County among other offices. For this painting I invented a rooftop café, then found out there have been two different cafés on the second floor, so I wasn’t too far off! The roof just seemed liked wasted space. When the redeveloped park is finished across the street, a movie screen may be put up on the side of the parking ramp, so I thought what a great way to sip wine and watch a movie.
On location with my walker
Artists sketching along the path
A group of us got together to sketch en plein air in Iowa City, following along a walking/biking path through the east side area. We could see from the path into the back yards as neighbors were gardening. I gave the others a viewfinder with these directions:
“Sketching” is a grace filled moment, a time to see the natural world that surrounds us. We see the birds, the plants, and even the stones as they come alive to tell stories and memories, reminding us who we are and what we value. Note everything is not perfect; there is a crack in everything, and that is how the light gets in* to illuminate the beauty. This is how we learn to truly see and be in the moment, letting the daily care be set aside for a bit.
My knees have been affecting my mobility so I am using my walker as a sketching surface. It is great as I can wheel around carrying sketchbook, a little paint, brush, and water in the seat and then stop wherever to draw/paint.
* (From lyrics by Leonard Cohen, and an earlier quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson)
My walker as easel
Sketchbook and thoughts on plein air
Detail with “bird man” on the
sidewalk in white coat
When I’m at home I do my morning meditation at the window. It is so peaceful and a great way to get in touch with nature from the 11th floor, where I see the snow, rain and birds, helicopters, planes, people working on the rooftops or entertaining, students walking/ talking/ arguing.
This past winter I often saw the “bird man” who came out in a white coat and whistled for the birds who flew down for their feeding. I painted him and the birds into this view of the city from my window.
Window view, in photo and watercolor
Painting with the group (photos courtesy of Mike Coverdale)
These photos are from our retreat at the Coverdales’ farm home earlier this month. The “Coverdale Art Institute” all started with Mike giving Judy a Christmas present of painting with me for a day. Their home was a retreat for me out in the country, and we had such a fun time we decided to try it as a location for workshops.
Students worked from my painting “Summer,” shown at bottom right (photos courtesy of Mike Coverdale)
This workshop started by painting watercolor techniques on a pop-up card, something to remind the painter of the lessons taught. St. Francis came along with us and became a swish of paint in many colors to demonstrate value, keeping it simple. Then we were ready to paint from one of my paintings (“Summer”) and I showed them how to start with a loose and juicy background and coming forward with the farm house and more detail. By then we were laughing about the farmers and chickens, having fun.
Left: Painting from nature (photo courtesy of Mike Coverdale)
Right: We saw a dragon in the shape of this tree (photo courtesy of Bonnie Dix)
One of the artists painted some trees from looking out the window, so we all decided to get up and go outside to study subjects to paint in May when the buds will be on the trees with the far-away farm up the hill.
Followup: We had such a positive response that we had two more retreat days, one in May and one in July. Many thanks to everyone who participated!