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Artist’s Statement

I am a painter of prayers. I create visual psalms of joy, lament or contemplation striving to capture the sense of spirit and grace found in a particular place and time. In my paintings I seek to make reference to the natural world in a manner which speaks to reverence of the divine in daily life.

In the present series The Liturgy of the Hours, I aim to capture a single moment, to give visual and emotional expression to these traditional hours of prayer. My process involves ritual and meditation. It is a counterpoint outside the cloister to the balance of work and prayer which comprises the daily lives of monastic communities throughout the world. I find inspiration in readings from various faith traditions and practices such as yoga, prayer, silence and guided meditation. I use such methods to become an instrument through which the work might flow from a greater force than me alone.

Landscapes have been abstracted from closely cropped figure drawings to symbolize the interconnectedness of all things in life and their relationship to the divine. Humans are of the earth itself, live best when we are in harmony with the land, and ultimately our physical bodies will return to it. Textures and brushstrokes are kept minimal to suggest a stillness and meditative quality as would be found during a moment in prayer. Both light and color have long associations with spirituality. For this reason the luminosity that oil paint can bring to a work makes it my media of choice.

From medieval manuscripts to Byzantine icons, gold leaf has been used to signify the importance and sacredness of images and texts. My  use of gold is meant to point the viewer to the sacred aspects in nature, man and that spark residing in all of it. Like the Amish quilts with their intentional mistake in a block, I am the less than perfect human instrument, not the higher power, in this creation.  Therefore the choice of the more humble gold paint instead of real leaf is a symbolic one on my part.

As with abstract artists in more recent times I consider the colors a part of this mystery as well. Painters such as Kandinsky and Rothko have used their colors intentionally to evoke a sense of the spiritual. Assigning particular attributes to individual hues or working intuitively with what felt right in their own soul, color, light and rich embellishments are all ways in which artists have tried to make visual reference to the divine unseen as they know it.

Incorporating the ancient symbolism of the circle (the divine) and the square (man), I am making a statement about the concept of the artist  co-creating with God. Working intuitively to create these depictions of space and time, I contemplate my place in this world and what may lie beyond it. At the same time, I want to convey the transcendent power and sense of mystical other which can come to us when we are truly in the present moment.


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As I am still in the thick of working on my masters at Savannah College of Art and Design, it has been over a year since I last posted on this blog.  But one the final assignments for the current course, Painting Studio II, is to post the final work for the term to a virtual gallery.  So I am “resurrecting” the site temporarily to fulfill my assignment here.  Once I am done this summer, I plan to resume many of the things I have had to set aside and perhaps this will be one of them.

For now I’ll be glad if I can remember how to navigate this site.

Original Pastel Drawings

The Liturgy of the Hours Original Pastel Drawings 3.5" x 5" each, pastel on Wallis paper

This little series of drawings was done nearly 2 years back when I started the journey at SCAD.  I decided to use it as the jumping off point for a body of work in the present course.  What resulted was a concentration on just two of the eight, which were Lauds and Vigils.  Lauds is the early morning hour near dawn and Vigils, also known as Matins or Nocturnes is in the middle of the night.   In a sort of meditation, I worked and sometimes re-worked the same subject over on different scales and in different media.

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds riginal drawing, 3.5" x 5", pastel on Wallis paper

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds original drawing, 3.5" x 5" pastel

Starting with the small original of Lauds, I began with the intention of translating all 8 to a larger scale as oils on canvas.  The first works were attempts to recreate the drawings as 24″ x 36″ oils on canvas.  On the right below, is the first Lauds, though it was subsequently re-worked again further on in the term.

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds (24" x 36" oil painting)

Next I went back to my preferred medium of pastel and executed an 18″ x 24″ painting on a piece of Wallis board (Wallis sanded paper mounted to foamcore).  I found it interesting to go down in scale and back to a more familiar medium.  The techniques and style however are quite a stretch from what I usually do being more simplified and abstract with less mark making and texture.  The use of strong contour lines to define areas was also a challenge for me.  I felt very much like I was fighting with myself a great deal of the time with this project!

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds, pastel painting

Lauds, pastel painting, 18" x 24"

Originally I worked on both the Lauds and Vigils canvases concurrently.  Then as I began to work on and concentrate on one piece at a time, I began to think of them as presented  in a more linear fashion.  So after all of these different versions of Lauds we move to nightfall as it were and present the largest  and most recent piece in the series.

Oil on birch panel, 3 ft. x 4 ft.

The Liturgy of the Hours:Vigils ,Oil on birch panel, 3 ft. x 4 ft.

Moving backwards from the largest, is the pastel painting of the same which had been done just previous to this panel and then the re-worked orginal 24″ x 36″ oil on canvas version.

pastel painting, 18" x 24" on Wallis board

The Liturgy of the Hours: Vigils, pastel painting on Wallis board

Original oil on canvas, 24" x 36", rescraped and worked

The Liturgy of the Hours: Vigils, Original oil on canvas, re-worked

Last in line is the small pastel drawing that was the genesis of all these others.

pastel original drawing, 3.5" x 5" on Wallis paper

The Liturgy of the Hours: Vigils, pastel on Wallis paper, 3.5" x 5"

All the different versions have a common thread running through them but the variations of scale and the change of media yielded a great many different results.  While the success of each is certainly able to be debated and analyzed, the experience was worthwhile.  There were tremendous growing pains associated with the project but there does seem to have been tremendous growth and self-knowledge commensurate with it.

As I developed the work in the late half of the term, I returned to working on wood panel with oil which I had done the past two summers.  I also turned to the use of the tondo presentation once more which I had enjoyed experimenting with last July in Savannah for what I considered to be one of my most successful pieces.

From those experiences, I decided to further crop these two views within a circle and frame them inside a square of painted gold.  I called them simply the Day and Night tondi.

oil on panel, 2 ft. x 2 ft.

Day Tondo: Lauds, oil on panel, 2 ft. x 2 ft.

oil on panel, 2 ft. x 2 ft.

Night Tondo: Vigils, oil on panel, 2 ft. x 2 ft.

From here I am in the beginning stages of a larger series of panels such as these, perhaps on the theme of the Stations of the Cross.  My thought  is to somehow through cropping and abstracting to transcend landscapes of devastated areas of the world into object of reverence and beauty.

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Harwich Middle School Eighth Graders descend on PAAM for the 4th annual Field Trip

Harwich Middle School Eighth Graders descend on PAAM for the 4th annual Field Trip

Each year around this time I implement the Grade 8 Visual Arts curriculum I designed which is referred to as “The Provincetown Project”.

Caitlyn, HMS grade 8 participated in "Art on the Edge", a Saturday program at PAAM.  Her work and that of 2 other HMS students is now on exhibit at the museum.

Caitlyn, HMS grade 8 participated in "Art on the Edge", a Saturday program at PAAM. Her work and that of 2 other HMS students is now on exhibit at the museum.

Students in the Harwich Public Schools take classes in the visual arts from Kindergarten through 8th grade as per the Massachusetts Department of Education’s mandate that the arts are part of a core curriculum. After this year some students will go on to study graphics at Cape Cod Tech and some will fulfill their Fine Arts requirement at Harwich High through continued study in studio arts. But for many, this is the last time they will engage in a formal program of study in the visual arts. The NEED program in 5th grade brings students to the National Seashore to expose them to the natural treasures on their very doorstep. By the same token, they should be exposed to the significant cultural treasure in their own back yard. Rather than going over the bridge to the MFA in Boston, students learned firsthand of the major role that Provincetown and its art colony played,– and continues to play, in the emergence of modern art in the 20th century and its continued impact world-wide.

An Homage to Ferol Sibley-Warthen by Fiona, class of 2006

An Homage to Ferol Sibley-Warthen by Fiona, class of 2006

Students take a field trip to the Provincetown Art Association & Museum in the late fall or winter. Through the efforts of education curator Lynn Stanley and the support of director Chris McCarthy, they are given an in-depth exposure to and hands-on

Teacher "Profe" Keefe and her posse all join in the drawing exercises.

Teacher "Profe" Keefe and her posse all join in the drawing exercises.

experiences with the art of Provincetown and its many illustrious artists. From Charles Hawthorne through Hans Hofmann and right up to contemporary artists living and working here today, students are thoroughly grounded in the depth and breath of art in Provincetown.

Students got to meet some muppets and their designer in one of this year's exhibits.

Students got to meet some muppets and their designer in one of this year's exhibits.

After studying the history of the colony and taking an exam, students selected their own choice of artist to research and then write brief research papers. Finally they worked on independent studio projects of their own choice, either copying a piece of their artists’ work or creating an original of their own in the style of the artist. The final assignment was to write a reflective piece which is displayed as an “artist’s statement” with the work on exhibit in the HMS Media center.

This little show is the culmination of a program of study spanning

A Peter Busa by Nell O,  from 2006

A Peter Busa by Nell O, from 2006

their entire 8th grade year–and for many, their last year- of study in art. Each year the students exceed expectations. I hope to be able to continue to find the grants to support this endeavor. And I hope you will agree that the work that is done is a wonderful testament to their talents and pays fitting homage to the artists and the art colony of Provincetown.

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Good art won’t match your sofa.

Fred C.Babb


If I hear about the Starving Artist’s “Art” sale once more I’ll blow a gasket. I thought they were all over as of last weekend. Sofa-sized paintings as low as $19.00 and NO admission fee. Cool! You don’t have to pay to go look at ,and buy crap, that you shouldn’t take for free anyway.

The Beach House, oil on canvas

The Beach House, oil on canvas

Fortunately here on Cape Cod we are blessed with an antidote: an abundance of quality local art and what I really wanted to mention in this post are 2 shows currently on exhibit to which I am connected.

Opening tomorrow and running through February 22nd at the Cape Cod Museum of Art is “Teaching Art/Creating Art”, a juried show of work by members of the Cape Cod & Islands Art Educators Association. Two of my paintings were selected for this exhibit and the reception for the show is Thursday,

Morning Marshlight, pastel

Morning Marshlight, pastel

January 22nd from 5:30 to 7:30 PM.

Also running until January 18th at Provincetown Art Association and Museum is a student exhibition called “Art on the Edge”. This is the culmination of 12 Saturdays of work from a free middle school art program. Several of my current students at Harwich Middle School participated and their work is now on display at PAAM. There will be a pot-luck reception on Friday, January 16, 2009 from 6-8 PM to which all are welcome.

On Tuesday of this week, we had mounted our annual Gr.8 field trip to PAAM as part of my curriculum of study on the history of the art colony. This year’s trip was especially important as the entire class got to see the work of two of their peers on display along with all of the other shows currently running.

HMS 8th Graders invade PAAM

HMS 8th Graders invade PAAM

My next post will feature some scenes from the trip and a little information about the program of study I designed and implemented.

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One of my New Year’s resolutions is to revamp this blog and be more consistent about using it. Unfortunately a bit has changed with WordPress since I last posted and I don’t remember some of the things I need to do to edit its appearance and all. Looks to be a steep learning curve before I can really get running. But this will be a start.

This is "Before".....you don't want to see the "After(math)" yet

This is "Before".....you don't want to see the "After(math)" yet

One catagory that is already gone is Inner Pearl Studio/Hyannis Art Scene. I moved out of 50 Pearl St at year’s end and am very happily ensconced back in my home studio in Harwich Port. It was exciting to have the opportunity to explore the newly emerging art district firsthand. But I had misgivings all along about commuting 15 miles to work and my previous committment to working on the masters at SCAD to consider as well. It will take some time, especially in the current economy, for the Hyannis Art Scene to become established and I just had to face the fact that this isn’t the time for me.

All the more reason for me to increase my presence on the web. I look forward to a bit of an expansion of the blog’s scope and regular postings on a variety of interrelated topics on art and other interests.

Hope some of you will check up on me to make sure I get it all done. Please come by to read and share often when I have done so.

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Once again I am apologizing for letting the blogs lapse.  I know better.  Rule number 1 is if I want to keep the word out there I have to be consistent in the postings.  I have failed miserably in that yet again however I have just completed the fall quarter on line at SCAD and finished Contemporary Art this week, including a 10-page thesis paper.

So that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it but figured I’d let everyone know what is next on the agenda.

Peace Prayer-available as tile and as Christmas cards

Peace Prayer-available as tile and as Christmas cards

My artwork is always neglected significantly when school’s in session and I’m teaching full time.  It fell to 3rd place (or lower) while I have been part time student as well.  So the news from Inner Pearl Studio has been very scant for quite sometime as well.

But Deb and I wanted to let everyone know that we are having a Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 6th from 2-4 PM as part of the Hyannis Christmas Stroll.  Stop by for a cup of holiday cheer and visit with us.  All work will be 10% off and we’ll have some mulled cider and cookies to share.

Red River in Winter- prints available

Red River in Winter- prints available

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