Thursday, January 29, 2009

Legislative Alert from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies


The House of Representatives on Wednesday, January 28, passed the economic stimulus legislation – H.R.1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – with provisions intact allocating $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. All Republican House members, joined by 11 Democrats, voted against the measure.

TAKE ACTION: The Senate expects to vote on its version of the stimulus legislation the week of February 2. If you have not yet done so, please contact your senators urging their support to retain the $50 million allocation for the National Endowment for the Arts when the economic stimulus legislation takes final shape by including the provision passed by the House, with 40% of the NEA funds going to state arts agencies and the remainder distributed in direct grants to fund arts projects that preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector.

Reach your senators by phone through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, or by email at

  • Public funding for the arts is a sound investment in states and communities facing tough economic conditions.
  • The arts generate jobs, tax revenues and consumer spending.
  • NEA funds to state arts agencies will enable state support for the arts to continue where a depressed economy has resulted in revenue shortfalls.
In the days leading up to the House floor debate on the bill, the arts funding had been singled out by critics of the legislation as an example of needless spending. When the measure came to the House floor on Wednesday, Rep. David Obey (D-WI), chair of the Appropriations Committee and floor manager for the bill, asserted that such claims caused the debate to become “incredibly trivialized.” In defense of the spending decisions made in the bill, he pointed out that the “arts funding in this bill is a tiny fraction of this entire bill . . . about 6 cents out of every $1,000 contained in this legislation.”

He then aimed his remarks at the economic purposes of the legislation and the economic significance of the arts sector: “People ask, What does funding for the arts have to do with jobs? It is very simple. People in the arts field are losing their jobs just like anybody else. . . . You have local arts agencies, you have local orchestras, local symphonies and local arts groups of all kinds who are shutting down, laying people off, and in a number of instances going bankrupt. This is a small, tiny effort to keep some of those people employed over the next two years. I make no apology for it. We have an obligation to salvage as many jobs as we can regardless of the fields in which people work.”

Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), chair of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and sponsor of the arts funding in the stimulus package, joined Obey in defending the NEA funds. He cited the arts community as a tremendous cultural resource that “also serves to create jobs in local communities all across our nation.”

Dicks went on to say that the arts sector of the economy “has been inordinately impacted by the severe economic downturn we have been experiencing in this past year . . . and the result has been disastrous for many of our nation's arts agencies and programs. . . . The amount in this bill is intended to provide small grants to try to restore some of the jobs which have been lost in the arts communities over the past year. In addition to retaining jobs, these funds will support programs which provide entertainment and richness in the lives of our communities at a time when they are badly needed. In the context of this large economic stimulus legislation, I believe this is a prudent investment, and that it will contribute measurably to restoring the fiscal health of our nation.”

Speaking in opposition to the bill, Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) included the arts funding in a list of “special interest groups' pet projects” that “represent an increase in government spending, not job creation.” Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), also speaking against the legislation, cited the NEA funding with others as “some of the most egregious examples of programs within the massive spending bill.”

Democrats voting against the stimulus package were Reps. Allen Boyd (D-FL), Bobby Bright (D-AL), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), Parker Griffith (D-AL), Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), Frank Kratovil (D-MD), Walt Minnick (D-ID), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Heath Shuler (D-NC), and Gene Taylor (D-MS), including four freshman members of the House, three of whom replaced Republican officeholders.

Untitled Figure Progress, Yet Another Knife Paintig

Yesterday was a productive day for me! I got back to work on this figure, and decided I want to finish it within the next few days. The perimeter of the area I finished up starts at the top of her closer shoulder, goes down her back and around her tush to her lower wrist, across the wrist and along the arm, and then includes that entire shadow area from shoulder to shoulder. I still have the face, legs, and hands to work on, then on to the background.

I also did this quick knife painting for fun. Just playing around with some more muted colors this time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sloth Face Update

OK, this is with more work done on the face! Trying to get that cool lighting that would come from a TV.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sloth Progress, Life Sketch, Knife Painting

Started working on the face today, and am going to be back at it tomorrow. It looks kind-of funny in this in-between stage, but I have high hopes for where it ends up.

This is my sketch from Sunday's life painting class. I want to work on it more from memory, but I don't think I'll have the time. Also can't seem to get a picture without glare. After I collect a couple more images from the others in the group, I will post them here for all to see. There's really great work happening there!

Finally, here's another knife painting. I'm still having fun painting these, even though I am not sure how successful I think they are.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Quick Oil Figures at ARTichokes

Ages: 18 – 100

Thursdays, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

CLASS DATES: FEB 5, FEB 12, FEB 19 and FEB 26

This figure class will do a variety of oil sketches, one per day! A live, clothed model will pose each day giving students a chance to learn proportion and shading of the human form. Students will have lots of practice capturing gesture and expression and learning how to recreate the pose with oil paint and brushes on their own paper.

Improve your artistic eye with helpful tips from one of Kansas City's best figure artists, Lacey Lewis.

All art supplies are provided by ARTichokes & this cost is included in the enrollment fee.

Instructor: Lacey Lewis
Minimum students per session: 8
Maximum students per session: 12
Cost for 4 classes: $185.00, plus tax

10557 Mission Road,
Leawood, KS 66206

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sign of the Times

Last week I received an email from someone at the Kansas Arts Commission.
Dear Lacey,

It has been a pleasure to review your Mid-Career Fellowship application in recent weeks. As you know this program was created to honor artists for their achievements, to nurture artists living in Kansas through nominal financial support, and to develop a sense of pride regarding the arts in Kansas. As I’m sure you are also aware, the state of Kansas is caught in the same economic turmoil rippling across the country. In turn, the Kansas Arts Commission has been directly affected with a mid-year budget cut leaving us unable to fund the fellowship for which you have applied.

Despite this unfortunate turn of events, the Kansas Arts Commission has unanimously agreed to move forward with the Fellowship and Emerging Artist honors. We believe it is critical to honor you because your work is an indelible part of Kansas’ creative culture stimulus package, which is needed perhaps now more than ever!

The guidelines for this program stipulate that artists may receive the honor twice in any given category over the course of your career. Due to the fact that funding is not available this year, I realize you may wish to withdraw your application. That is a difficult choice to make, particularly in light of the enormous effort you have put into your application thus far. Please consider your options and let me know as soon as possible whether or not you wish to continue in the current review process. I must hear from you no later than Tuesday, January 20th, in order to move forward with the program in a timely fashion.

Thank you again for sharing your work. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours very truly,

Name Removed
Everyday, I see more ways that we are affected by our struggling economy; Friends and family are laid-off or the businesses they work for are behind on payroll, our 401K's dwindle, etc. With all that is happening, I am glad that the KAC decided not to nix the fellowship program for the year. My response was as follows:
Dear Name Removed,

I *do not* wish to withdraw my application! I agree wholeheartedly with the KAC's decision to move forward with the honors even without funding. Money is not the priority, (obviously, or else we wouldn't be artists!) and especially during these tough times do we need to be encouraged.

Thank you so much for contacting me about this, and cheers to everyone at the KAC for continuing with this program in the face of budget-cuts.

I spoke with this person on the phone, as it seemed my email was lost in cyberspace, and so was able to ask how artists in general were responding. Happily, I learned that very few artists withdrew their applications! I'm glad to hear that even without funding, we are sending a message to all that these programs are important to us as artists. I hope that during these difficult economic times, programs like this do not disappear. There must be some way for us all to come together as a community to support each other in our endeavors.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Sloth" Progress and Another Knife Painting

I don't have a very good progress picture of "Sloth" to share. I bought a new little point-and-shoot camera so that I wouldn't have to lug my big-old Nikon around with me every day, but that's meant in low-light that it's hard to get a clear accurate pic. The photo above is with the flash, the one below is without the flash but very grainy and colorless.

Hopefully you can see how I've worked on the shirt, and the arms up to the wrists. Unfortunately, neither of the images really shows what's happening in the forward arm. The arm isn't so blotchy, and the colors have this range of hues including a blue-ish reflected light from the shirt. Perhaps I'll be in with my Nikon soon to get a better pic of this.

And, I did another little 5x5 knife painting. Still not where I want to be, but still learning. I plan to continue to do a couple of these every now and then, and will even attempt a slightly larger one soon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Knife Paintings

Last night I did these two 5x5 knife paintings. I want to get better with the knife, and it's also nice to do something fun and quick. This I can do in a couple hours; my figures generally take weeks. My first attempt, above, looks great from across the room, but up close is a bit choppier than I'd like. I'm thinking if it's still wet enough, I might try and work on the surface texture a bit more.

Here's my second attempt of the evening. I'm much more pleased with this one. Both of these paintings are much improved over my first two attempts at knife painting that I did in Richard Bowman's class. I'm really glad I took that class!

It'd be fun to try and paint a figure with the knife. Anyway, off to pick up some more 5x5 canvases...

Sunday Figure Painting

Here's my start of a figure painting from today's session. The model is wonderfully pale, and I hope to get her skin to glow when I add color next week. I didn't include the entire figure, but she was in a very difficult pose and it was *gorgeous!* I know how slowly I work, though, and knew it would be difficult for me to get any kind of a finish in only two sessions if I included the whole figure. If I get permission from the others, I'll include their paintings and drawings of this model next week.

Figure Sketch - Thursday Class Day 2

Here's the sketch from class with some color added. I didn't get to put in a lot of detail, and was unable to include her tattoos in the short amount of time that I had, but I got some decent color info in here. Something like this would work really well as a point of departure for a finished painting, since it gives you hue and light distribution information along with the drawing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Weekly Studio Update

Gosh, do you remember this one? Do you remember when I started it? I don't. Every time I pick it up, I take it in a different direction than I had planned. For example, until now I wasn't going to include any black in the composition. When I got back to work on it, though, it seemed like a good idea and I like it! In the near future I should do a post about black; I am often asked what I use for black, and of course there is the long passed-down notion that one should not use black paint. More on that another time.

I've gotten a little bit of work done on "Sloth" in the studio. I am working on her shirt now, and you can see how the section between her shoulders is further along than the rest. So much of this painting is going to go way down in value! Anyway, I feel like I am tackling the more difficult part by doing the fabrics first.

Finally, here's a sketch I did from life last weekend. I'm not used to throwing the charcoal around like that. I much prefer to draw as you do with a pencil, but that takes so much time! I might try to finish this from a photo I took. This coming weekend I will start a figure painting from life.

I actually do have more that I want to post about, but time is short and I need to head out to my Thursday figure painting class at ARTichokes. Soon I'll be back with more work, and some other thoughts.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Figure Painting Class - Day 1

Just thought I'd drop in and share about today's figure painting class at ARTichokes! We have a nice small class, which I like because I can spend more time with each student and spend more time on the demo I create while everyone is working. Today we just worked on a monochromatic wash-in using burnt umber, mineral spirits, and a kneaded eraser. We toned the whole canvas, drew with the paint, and erased lights with the kneaded eraser.

Everyone in the class did a great job and came up with something that will be a good base for color. (This one is mine.) Next class, we will use the same model in the same pose and add color on top of this underpainting. I will teach a simplified variation of the color strings I mentioned in some previous post to help us get flesh tones on the canvas quickly. It's only a 2 hour class, so it's best to keep it simple!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sloth - Fabric

The few times I have been able to get into the studio lately, I have been working on the pants. They are really more complex than I thought they would be, and I've learned that even at this large scale I still need to get out my smallest round brushes to describe some of the edges and creases. Also, the lighting in this is very complicated and will take some very careful observation and color mixing to make work. Right now the pants seem a bit blue, but hopefully by the time I am done it will more appear that they are lit by a blue-toned light. It wouldn't seem that way right now since the flesh tones aren't very much influenced by that kind of light yet.

I did start a drawing last Sunday from a live model, but I'm not quite ready to post it. I spent most of my time just measuring, and at the end quickly tried to toss in some shading. I look forward to working on it again this weekend! It was a really nice class with Louis Copt and Anthony Benton Gude joining in to work from the model.

Speaking of classes, my figure painting class at ARTichokes in Leawood starts up this Thursday 10am-12pm! There's still time for you to sign-up or just come by Thursday morning ready to get to work.