Breakfast on the misty river

  • Oil on Canvas
  • 36″ x 48″
  • $6900
  • Giclée Prints
    12″ x 16″ image size – $395
    24” x 32” image size – $495

As the river meanders towards the horizon the warm light of the sunrise colors the mist. Clouds echo the river’s trail, partially covering a low lit moon. Bountiful food, savory and sweet, and coffee make for a morning
feast. Soft breezes blow, lifting the table’s skirt revealing butterfly milkweed, a prairie plant.

It is said to never under-estimate the importance of encountering wild things during moments of solitude. The artist forsakes solitude for companionship and offers up lots of wild things:
A butterfly glides toward the table, one clings to the billowing cloth while another sits astride a macaroon.
Caterpillars crawl on cloth and a milkweed plant, where a chrysalis hangs.
A buck and doe stand alert.
Great Blue Herons fly through vaporous ribbons of mist.
Ducks are startled and erupt in flight from the river’s edge.
Turkeys swim and scurry up the bank.
An eagle soars.
A ladybug sits.
A crystal rests on the table.
Hummingbirds flutter and feed around the zinnia and turkey feather bouquet.
Planets, the Milky Way, comets, galaxies and the morning star hint at the bigger, cosmic picture.

Remembering Jean Bass

March 29, 2011

Jean Bass

A dear friend, Jean Bass, died a few weeks ago. During a memorial gathering friends and family members expressed their deep love and admiration for a very special lady. Eulogies delivered by the family spoke to a life well lived, especially demonstrating the family’s penchant for good humor and an artful life. I was deeply honored to be asked to deliver a eulogy. It follows:

“In the fall of 1971, I met Jean. I was a newly hired art teacher for the Topeka Public Schools. She was a blessing to me then and will continue to be to the end of my days. Jean became a good friend and mentor; she shared her stories, and taught me how to teach and to trust my self-expression. What a gift!

She showed me that there is no separation between life and art. To step inside of the Bass home is to be engulfed in a unique space of personal eloquence. Little can be seen in Jim and Jean’s home that doesn’t show the critical eye and masterful hands of two creative and lovely people.

Every morning I wake viewing a felt tapestry of blue sky, white clouds and gold threads hanging by my bed. Jean once asked me to return it so she could add elements to it; letting me know that we never quite finish a piece, we just allow it to be.

In the classroom Jean would dissect the visual world, teaching an appreciation of line, shape, texture, color and form. In her most recent wall hangings, you can see the pleasure she took in those elements, creating fabric artworks that echoed her world. This room (the church) shows how she would intertwine the symbols of people, place, faith and community into beautiful tapestries, visually enriching our space.

She has left us with many gifts. Among the most precious was her constant encouragement to embrace life fearlessly. “You can do that,” she would say. We are so lucky to have had Jean in our lives and to have tangible, visual moments of that life to enrich our own journey.”

Jean was constantly creating, leaving a substantial body of work. It can be viewed, along with the work of her husband, sculptor Jim Bass at  www.bassstudiosart.com.

The following is part of the copy from Jean’s obituary;

“Jean was a lifelong artist and educator. A skilled jeweler and painter, she was most noted for her public tapestries, included in many local collections, including: Mulvane Art Museum, Topeka Public Library, First United Methodist Church, First Congregational Church, First Presbyterian Church of McPherson, Ks. and Leavenworth Mutual Savings.

Jean taught art at Topeka High School for 38 years where she enjoyed helping students discover and develop their own artistic abilities. In 1965 Jean married sculptor Jim Bass. Together they crafted a rural home and artists’ studio where they intertwined art with family life, raising two children.

She had great love for and pride in her family. Jean is survived by her husband Jim of 45 years. Her daughter Jaminda Holmes, a clothing designer, and husband Jimmy, live in Kansas City with their two children Micah and Quilla. Son Joren Bass, an architect, and his wife Beth reside in Portland, Oregon. She also leaves behind her dear sister Glenda Bower and husband Bruce of Topeka as well as her nephew Brian Gay and his family of Prairie Village, Ks.”

Life is short and getting shorter. If you’re working on a dream or have “stuff” on your bucket list still to do,  remember Jean’s mantra, “I can do that” and get started.

On Target

  • Oil on Ampersand 2″ Cradle Board
  • 48″ x 24″, diptych
  • In a private collection
  • 24″ x 12″ (image size) digital prints available for purchase – $395

Whenever I drive through Hannibal, Missouri, I like to take the time to savor some part of the place. If I’m lucky, it is time with a friend, but there are many pleasures including spectacular views of the Mississippi River and it’s eastern valley. On one occasion I was at the lighthouse when I noticed a sign inviting me into a neighboring artist’s studio. The woman was a weaver and with every shuttle thrust to weave the weft, she spoke the intention that the patron had requested. Many created works are full of intention. “On Target” was created as a representation of gratitude for life’s blessings and a visual representation of future goals. There’s power in visualizing our intentions and I appreciate the opportunity to create paintings around them.

“It was ideal. Every semester, there was an eager, fresh crop of young and not-so-young art students. If they expected lectures and demonstrations, that is not what they got from me. A couple of times a week, we went to the prairie and painted together. They learned from me and I learned from them. I don’t think it will ever happen like this again.” Robert Sudlow

Chair in Sudlow's Woods

Kansas landscape artist, Bob Sudlow, passed away at the age of 90 last month. He was a sweet and gentle man. Twenty five years ago I was one of Bob Sudlow’s not-so-young students. It was his last year of teaching and I had returned to the university for a painting degree. I found that I loved painting outside. This oil sketch was done on my first outing with Bob. The setting was in the woods above his home. The bright orange antique dental chair was one of several that could be found scattered along walking trails through the woods of Bob and Barbara Sudlow’s country property. It speaks perfectly to Bob’s practical, yet whimsical spirit.

Bob once told me that if I wanted to find out if I’d like to be a painter, the Flint Hills offered a solution. Rent an inexpensive loft in one of the small towns in the Flint Hills, paint for a year, then examine your work and how you feel about the experience.  With a family that wasn’t practical at the time. However, I give Bob complete credit for introducing me to the beauty of the Flint Hills. The prairie is the landscape surrounding a host of intriguing characters whose lives I find fascinating and whom I count as friends. Through the years I have found more satisfaction in incorporating the landscape as an element in my painting, combining still life and portrait with it. I continue to plein air paint and sometimes take my grandchildren. When painting the weekend after Bob died, I could imagine that shock of thick white hair blowing in the wind as he stood before his tethered easel, beautifully capturing that elusive time of winter’s exit and spring’s arrival. He loved chasing spring. I am so very glad to have known him.

Painting with Maxx

Scarlet Tanagers, Walnuts and Pears

20″ x 16″
$1920
Oil on Linen
Contact the artist.

A tug pushes a barge on the river with sunlit clouds reflected in the water. Two young girls wave to the bargeman. The male Scarlet Tanager balances precariously on a pear, piercing it flesh. The female stands on the silver bowl camouflaged against the sky. A gentle breeze lifts the tablecloth’s skirt except where it’s held by the cook’s towel. Other bird paintings I’ve done that are similar to this, i.e. Chickadees and Coffee, Nuthatches and Walnuts, Beneath the Surface,  tend to have an ‘other world’ feel because there is no human presence, only an indication of it. Add two waving young girls and the place in the painting becomes more comfortable.

Nuthatches and Walnuts

January 25, 2010

Nuthatches and Walnuts

  • Oil on Masonite
  • 36″ x 12″
  • In a private collection

The painting began as an exercise in trompe l’oeil, deceiving the eye. An early American painter, Raphaelle Peale, came from a family of gifted realistic painters. I’ve always enjoyed one of his paintings,  “Venus Rising from the Sea, a Deception” at the Nelson Museum of Art in Kansas City. Peale’s painting draws on an ancient Roman story of two Greek painters in competition to see who was the better. Zeuxis painted grapes that attracted birds to his canvas. He turned to Parrhasios and asked him to remove the cloth from his painting. The painting of the drapery was so realistic, it had fooled Zeuxis.

The nuthatches are playful. The top one has knocked a walnut off the table and leans over to watch, hanging onto one of the pears. The low light casts long shadows and illuminates the clouds.

Food, Fabric and Romance

November 11, 2009

Food and Fabric
“Reflection”  Romance Series

  • Oil on Canvas
  • 48″ x 48″
  • In a private collection

Intimacy, companionship and romance are conveyed using fabric and food. This was an early painting in the romance series. Looking at this painting is like looking at a favorite quilt. All the fabrics hold memories for me. Corn and croissant were often used in my still lifes from this period. Oranges remain a favorite, as does coffee.

Sunday Morning

October 20, 2009

Sunday Morning
“Sunday Morning”

“Sunday Morning” as it should be; lazy, loads of treats and lots of possibilities.

Thinking Pink

August 2, 2009

Gladiolus, pomegranate and kiwi on silk

Gladiolus, pomegranate and kiwi on silk

Pink moire silk, gladiolus, pomegranate and kiwis combine in this still life. I was admiring the gladioli in my daughter in law’s garden this morning. The blooms, all facing one way, are born one on top of another up the stem making a glorious show. The pomegranate red adds some color kick and the kiwis echo the glad stems’ green.

Three Apples

July 22, 2009

Three Apples

Three Apples

  • 9″ x 12″
  • Oil on Canvas
  • In the collection of BR

Three Apples is a simple composition, loosely painted or as some might say, a painterly style.

Robert Henri is one of my favorite “painterly” painters. He grew up in the frontier Nebraska town founded by his father, John J. Cozad in 1871, then named Cozaddale, now just Cozad. It stands on the 100th meridian, which was the end of the line at the time for the railroad.  There you’ll find a Robert Henri Museum. How his name changed from Cozad to Henri is a tale harrowing to live through, but good for the telling.

Three Apples was gifted to a doctor who, perhaps, saved my sister’s life because he knew how to read a lab report. At least he saved her from suffering at the hands of the incompetent.