Albany Arts Council

Sharing One's Passion by Jeannine Cook

Between spending my days in hospitals and hotels, there has been little time in the last six weeks to remember about my real passion in life, art.  Nonetheless, luck lent me a day of being able to talk about art-making, the joys and fascinations - and challenges - that come with it.

Aloe Exuberance, Palma., watercolour, Jeannine Cook artist

Aloe Exuberance, Palma., watercolour, Jeannine Cook artist

I felt a little like this watercolour painting that I had done in early January, which I entitled Aloe Exuberance.  The talk I was giving about art was at the end of my exhibition, Brush or Stylus: Jeannine Cook's Choices, at the spacious Albany Arts Council gallery in Albany, Georgia.  A roomful of ladies and one gentleman gathered at lunchtime: I soon learnt that most of them were watercolour artists, some art teachers, and most were also curious about metalpoint drawing.

It was really restorative to be talking about my passion for art and about how I approached art-making.  Each of us is very individualistic about this process of creation, but nonetheless, as I reminded my audience, there is a unifying element to it all.  Beyond the life experience that each of us brings to art, there are the basics of technique, in whatever medium being used. 

Being able to draw, from real life, is for me of prime importance.  It doesn't mean that the finished result will even resemble what is in front of one; that is not really the point.  Drawing this way enables one to understand how the object works in space, how it is weighted, how it is articulated, how it smells and feels...  Even if later, the resultant art is abstract, there is a veracity, a knowledge implied that help to convey what the artist is trying to say. This understanding aids in composition, in colour planning in a painting, in catching the light, in organising what one is trying to depict.  Obviously, in a finished drawing, the initial understanding and exploration aid hugely, particularly if the drawing is in silverpoint/metalpoint, where no erasure nor alteration are possible.

Being comfortable in the medium chosen, whether it be watercolour or other painting media, is crucial.  That ease only comes with practice and understanding, but a realistic choice of pigments helps too.  A limited palette is often much more harmonious and does not restrict the range of colours and tones at all.  Being beguiled by all the brightest, newest and most luscious of pigments can be problematic in art! A little restraint often pays off and makes for a less complicated painting process.

Perhaps the most important aspect to me of creating art is learning to listen to that small, interior voice in one's head.  Trust it, because it allows the creation of truly individual pieces of art, expressions of you and you alone. You are a unique person and artist. Your own ideas and visions, your own way of expressing them, in an adequately professional technical fashion, are the path to your own artistic voice, one that will make you different from every other artist.  

Warbler Weaving, Palma - silverpoint, Jeannine Cook artist.

Warbler Weaving, Palma - silverpoint, Jeannine Cook artist.

As I reminded my audience in Albany, we are all products of complex, rich lives.  Thus our art-making can be equally individualistic and special.  In a way, this silverpoint drawing, Warbler Weaving, that I drew earlier this year, is a symbol of our creative lives as artists.  We weave together so many strands of different things - large, small, fragile, strong- to create art that expresses who we are.  The results go out into the world, sending messages and inviting shared experiences, as the creative circle is completed between artist and viewer. In the same way, this exquisite little nest I found goes from being a home in which to rear nestlings to sharing the warbler's magical creation with a wider human audience.

I was so grateful to the Albany Arts Council and its gracious Executive Director, Carol Hetzler, for allowing me to share my passion for art.  It enabled me to remember that I need to return to creating art, very soon.

Unexpected Gifts to Artists by Jeannine Cook

Sometimes, when it is hard to remember you are an artist because other events crowd in on you in life, there are gifts that come along to remind you about your real passion, art.

One that came to me last year, but has come around at the exact moment I need it most at present, was an invitation to exhibit in a solo show at the Albany Arts Council in Albany, Georgia.  The date has come around, for April 2013, at a point when it is most helpful in my life. 

Brush or Stylus: Jeannine Cook's Choices will open with a reception from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 4th at the Albany Arts Council.  Later, on April 30th, I will be giving an informal talk at a Brown Bag Lunch. 

Azalea indica,  metalpoint 10 x 7" image, Jeannine Cook

Azalea indica, metalpoint 10 x 7" image, Jeannine Cook

This is the image used on the invitation, a silverpoint and copperpoint drawing I did of the wonderful, luminous big-flowered azaleas so typical of spring in the Southeast of the United States.

The exhibition will include watercolours - mostly landscapes of coastal Georgia - and silverpoint drawings of flowers, trees and other subjects that lend themselves to this high key lustrous medium.  Since the silver, gold or copper that I use in a stylus cannot be erased, the drawing is always an adventure.

Another gift I was recently given out of the blue was being selected by curator Tania Becker to be included in a six-artist exhibition at Spruill Gallery, Atlanta, Formations: Patterns  in Nature.  Four of my silverpoint drawings, two on a white ground and two on a black ground, were selected. 

Balsam Mountain Beech,   silverpoint, 15 x 11" image, Jeannine Cook

Balsam Mountain Beech,

silverpoint, 15 x 11" image, Jeannine Cook

Rings of Time I,   silverpoint on black ground, 7.5 x 5.5" image, Jeannine Cook

Rings of Time I,

silverpoint on black ground, 7.5 x 5.5" image, Jeannine Cook

Turmoil - Red Oak,  silverpoint on black ground, 7.5 x 5.5" image, Jeannine Cook

Turmoil - Red Oak, silverpoint on black ground, 7.5 x 5.5" image, Jeannine Cook

The exhibition opened on 14th March and will run until June.  It sounds to be an interesting show and I was crestfallen not to be able to get to its opening.  Nonetheless, being in the show was an unexpected surprise.

Another gift from the blue is always when an artist gets a phone call from a collector who says that they have moved to a new home and feel that another "Jeannine Cook" drawing or painting is needed.  What a delicious compliment.

These are the sort of gifts that any artist appreciates, but in my case, as I sit with my husband in a hospital room, far from my studio world, these are vital reminders of my other self.  The gods are kind!