Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Season

"Study of footbridge in the snow" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 11" x 2", 2012
Well, the Christmas season is upon us again, it seems the years go by faster and faster!  I always loved Christmas, and the other holidays such as Hanukkah, since they are so festive and bring such happy remembrances with them, it's always a nostalgic time of year.

I have been very busy this year, making home-made gifts like strawberry jam and different types of fudge, so I had to make time to get into my groove with keeping moving forward with work.  I have pondering new directions for the new year, and that always makes me antsy...like I'm ready to shed my skin or something.  I'm trying not to think to hard about it though.  It will come to me when I'm ready, eventually.

So, in the meantime, I continue working on little local plein air works.  That always seems to keep my mind somewhat serene, and open to new conceptual works I'm pondering.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Post Thanksgiving

"Study of icy farm fields in Pennsylvania" by Hilary J. England
8" x 11" oil on canvas

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now we move into Christmas.  I enjoyed the holiday with my family, even if the 20 or so people was a bit overwhelming, it was a jolly time, and worth the three day post holiday clean-up!

Now, the quiet days before Christmas, if we can fathom that.  I don't proscribe to all of the crazy holiday shopping, etc.  I prefer to do things a little more slowly, and to give gifts from the heart, like home-made gifts, etc.  Plus, one really nice-store bought gift!

So, in the quiet late-Autumn, early Winter landscape...the frigid, frosty days and nights have been giving some very serene and lovely little vignettes for me to absorb, like the one above.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Parallax opening

Parallax AF 2012
Prince George Hotel Ballroom, NYC
The show began last night, with a very heavy turnout, much more than I expected, due to all of the problems the city is still suffering after Hurricane Sandy.  The place was packed and bustling, which is always a positive note.  Many were more subdued than in the past, but given the nature of events in the last few weeks, that is to be expected.

Getting in to the city was not bad, and cross town traffic was about normal so that leg of the journey was unexpectedly smooth.  Mounting the show in an hour?  An absolute record!  We were like a Nascar pit team, with only one incident of someone getting yelled at, and that would be when Mark nearly drilled a screw through my finger, LOL.  And yes, I yelled at him.  And yes, he understood why he got yelled at, haha.

So, we were able to clean up, get back to the LES, grab an amazingly nice quick dinner of eggplant rollatini, stuffed mushrooms, chicken marsala with sauteed veggies, cappuccino, and even a piece of chocolate tiramisu at Goodfellas Pizzeria, buy a cashmere coat in a boutique, organic shampoo soap, shampoo and conditioner, shower up, primp and perfume, and out the door back to the venue for the preview party.  Talk about doing things on the fly!!

We stayed the necessary length of time, and met some very new and interesting people, including another artist from Colombia, just passing through by way of Boston.  The wine flowed and the ballroom moved and heaved with so many people, it was as if there was an actual ball going on.  It was quite amazing to see that many people come in for good art and free wine.  I guess that combo does the trick!  After leaving the preview party, we headed back to Orchard Street, where there was another gallery opening, and just took a peek in there.  Good things, and they were also enjoying a boisterous night, with lots of walk in traffic from the street.

I headed up early though.  A fifth floor walk up, sky high heels, and a long day all were factors in my just wanting to tuck in and relax.  I could hear the party in the street, and that is OK...I remember hearing that same sort of laughter in Paris, a timeless gaiety.  It was more of a comfort than an annoyance, that sound of happy oblivion.  Made me smile and think of happy days, and that is never a bad thing either.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Autumn breeze

"Autumn farm field" by Hilary J. England, 2012
oil on canvas, 8" x 11" x 2"


The weather has been absolutely pristine, with cool, temperate breezes that bring that clean, brisk scent of Fall...the scent that brings to mind mysterious things, like harvest moons, pumpkins, spicy apple cider, and perhaps even a witch riding her broom across the moon!  I love autumn, and all of the changes that come with it.

As I was walking through the damp grass yesterday, I could smell the end of the season with all of the tomatoes now hanging limp and brown, falling to the earth in a rotten heap.  The morning glories all flash froze during the first frost, literally.  It was like, one day they were there, albeit covered in a light layer of glittering frost, and by noon, they had all shriveled into nothing, completely withered and brown.  What a sight.  Now, we have to rip them all down, since it is quite unsightly, and the seeds are all over the porch.  That's OK though, because they are worth it for the time they bloom.

This weather has allowed me to do some plein air painting, quite a few little local paintings.  I love that, and look forward to this time of year to be able to stretch my legs and let my mind fly free with the wind, it's as if my brain just goes into relaxation mode, and I just go with the flow of enjoying the process.

As I was walking out to my studio to gather my gear, the Eagle of 895 soared down low over the yard, and I literally met him eye to eye.  What a beautiful beautiful creature.  That made my day.

So, here is one of my local paintings:  "Autumn farm field"  oil on canvas, 8" x 11" x 2".   Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day to day

"Denver and Montauk"
Oil on canvas, 16" x 20"
Here is a new commissioned work I just completed.  I think it came out quite well, as it was a very difficult balance to strike, with all of the subtle symbolism to be included in it.  I think it is rather esoteric.  I am quite happy with it actually.  I love quirky things.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Envy


"Envy"
Mixed media, wood, metal, plastic, shells, lead, gunpowder, 2012



A DIVINE IMAGE

Cruelty has a Human Heart
And Jealousy a Human Face 
Terror the Human Form Divine 
And Secrecy, the Human Dress 


The Human Dress, is forged Iron 
The Human Form, a fiery Forge. 
The Human Face, a Furnace seal'd 
The Human Heart, its hungry Gorge.
*************************************************************************************************
We aspire to be kind and good people, but for all of us, this is a very hard balance to maintain.  Envy and jealousy were never really character issues I was prone to, at least if listing the Seven Deadlies.   Anger, yes.  Sloth, sometimes.  Gluttony, for sure.  Pride, most certainly.  Greed, on occasion.  Lust, well, absolutely.  But Envy?  This I never thought I was guilty of.  I didn't think I was a "jealous" type, and certainly was never possessive of the people in my life, quite the opposite.  I was a very big proponent of the old adage"If you love me set me free" sentiment, so how did jealousy fit into the scheme of things?  I wasn't covetous of other people, their things, their positions, their lives...so, I thought, I guess I am not guilty of envy?  But, after examining some lingering resentments I still had stored away in the baggage compartment of my own personal "closet," I realized I was also guilty of that sin as well.  Somewhere along the road of life during my journey, there were occasions in my life that I felt I was "shortchanged" during certain periods and under certain circumstances, and I had felt bitterness over that.  Maybe not now, but then I did, so even though I thought, "Aha!  A sin I am not guilty of!" I actually had to own up to this one too.  After all, I am only human as well.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Where does time go?

"Autumn path" by Hilary J. England
12" x 16" oil on canvas, 2012

Wow, a week has slipped by me, and I feel like I was in some kind of a coma or something, since it just scooted on by without my realizing it.  That's kind of scary.  I just don't feel like I got a whole lot done, and that depresses me, after all, time is what life is made of, and I don't like losing a resource I can never get back.

I have not been sleeping very well, and I think that is the problem.  I can think of a few reasons, and they, both non-material and people, are going to get confronted.  Now, there won't be a smack-down or anything, LOL, just one particular person is going to be told to be a bit more quite in the middle of the night, and I am going to confront what physically may be going on that I am having a hard time falling and staying asleep.  That's what I mean.

I was supposed to meet up and paint with some other artists yesterday, but the rain began, and it looked like it would stay that way, so I decided against it.  Then, lo and behold, at around 4 pm, it cleared up and became sunny and warm.  Of course.  So, rather than getting cheated out of a painting day, I went down the street and sat in the woods, looking for something to strike my fancy.  Since I was in a brain fog due to lack of sleep, I just began to zone out and paint away at nothing, literally just the path in front of me, and the interesting way the soft light fell through the trees onto the ground, with all of the leaves that are already down (when did that happen?  I feel like it happened in one day!). So, here is the result, and I hope you enjoy it, and enjoy the change of season in your area as well!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Parallax AF

Study of flowers and twilight sky, by Hilary J. England
12" x 16", oil on canvas, 2012


I am looking forward to the Parallax AF in NYC on November 16-18.  Should be an amazing fair, and I am really excited to meet new and exciting people.  I have been putting together my work for the show, and also working on lots of new stuff, but have been having a lot of distractions with annoying little stuff, but I shoulder through it.  My back has really been bothering me, even with my new mattress, and so I have cut my cross training down and will try some less intense stuff, maybe yoga, instead.  I am just so sick of having a hurting neck and back, that if I could swap out bodies, I would, LOL.

I am thoroughly wired on green tea today, and despite the driving rain, I've gotten a lot of stuff done, which is good.  Maybe I can relax later, after all, it's supposed to be my "day off" today.  Funny, that never seems to happen.  I'm ALWAYS "working," even when I'm sleeping.  How tiresome sometimes.

So, I have to go out and papier mache my new sculpture, finish working on a commissioned artwork, and I was hoping to squeeze a run in later, but this rain seems to be relentless, so I may have to skip that idea.

I hope you enjoy this quick study.  I really have been enjoying mixing colors and doing color studies, and twilight skies really present an interesting way to continue with my color drills.  I do enjoy them...they make me dream of good things to come, and hope for the next day.  Hey, that's all any of us can really hope for anyway.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Check it out!

"The Dorm" by Hilary J. England
2012, Digital Art

I had strange dreams last night, but that is nothing new.  I woke up a bit foggy (and no, there were no substances involved!) and the gray weather really matched my mindset.  I think I was thinking about the state of things, our culture, the changes we go through, and feeling somewhat frustrated about our lack of cohesion for any sort of standard of measurement or belief system.  Our state of anti Art. 

Still, I think our state of anti Art is a good reflection of our absurdness, or hypocritical or "duality" of thought.  It seems there is no linear thought processes, or a rational way of deriving a conclusion.  So, this causes me, as a human human, a bit of vertigo.  Yet, I still manage to form my own little world to counter the tilt-a-whirl of the planet that seems to be in constant, random motion.

In my own work, I like to explore subjects I am thoroughly familiar with, and human processes that are universal, even if the "window dressings" are a little different from culture to culture, or due to a "generation gap."  No matter how well you think you know a subject matter, you never really do.  That's what I love about humankind.  The sameness and the differentness of our humanity.

I also enjoy other artwork that I can derive a sense of truth from, a universal commonality, a thread that runs through all experiences.  I have found a really amazing website lately (or shall I say, they found me), and after doing a good deal of exploration on it, would love to pass it along to you, my friends.  The website is www.artsia.com  and the spectrum of different, quality work on it is really very stimulating and impressive.  If you are looking to purchase the most current, important work that is being produced around the globe, here is a website that you want to visit.  If you just want to browse to get an idea of current art trends, read some very informative articles (they have a very thorough article section), etc., you should also stop by Artsia.com.

Artsia.com is different than many other websites because the work is juried onto the site, rather than allowing anyone to post, and I know that some people feel very strongly that jurying is exclusionary, I do think that it works for Artsia.com.   Artsia.com is looking for a certain caliber of work, and through a panel of curators, can achieve a very wide selection of quality artwork to suit all tastes and worldviews, so again, I think the jurying of artwork onto Artsia.com works very well. 

So, that's that for today.  I hope you enjoyed my newest work, "The Dorm" as much as I enjoyed exploring the world of college freshmen.  Always a treat and a trip down memory lane! 


 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Welcome Autumn!!

"Study of marsh at sunset with wildflowers" by Hilary J. England, 2012
oil on canvas, 8" x 11"


Ah, beautiful Autumn!!!  The air is crisp and clean, and the tips of the trees are turning that deep tinged burgundy, before becoming blazing orange and lovely yellow.  I love driving through the rolling farm country and seeing the beautiful fields of ragweed and wildflowers, so very magnificent.

I hadn't been doing much plein air painting, but I did for the last few days, getting some time together to bust the cobwebs off my guerrilla box, which as been sitting quietly since France two months ago.  That's OK though, as I have been pursuing other projects, and new projects are always a breath of fresh air.

So, here is my painting from a few days ago, out in the marshy area, the blue mountains in the background.  Just a quick study, but I enjoyed it immensely.  Doing little landscapes makes me feel at home, and that is always a welcome feeling.

Saturday, September 22, 2012



"Shattered" by Hilary J. England, 2012

I had many thoughts of the poems of Longfellow when I was creating this, in particular, "Footsteps of Angels."  
"Footsteps of Angels"  by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
FOOTSTEPS OF ANGELS
When the hours of Day are numbered,
And the voices of the Night
Wake the better soul, that slumbered,
To a holy, calm delight;
Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like phantoms grim and tall,
Shadows from the fitful firelight
Dance upon the parlor wall;
Then the forms of the departed
Enter at the open door;
The beloved, the true-hearted,
Come to visit me once more;
He, the young and strong, who cherished
Noble longings for the strife,
By the roadside fell and perished,
Weary with the march of life!
They, the holy ones and weakly,
Who the cross of suffering bore,
Folded their pale hands so meekly,
Spake with us on earth no more!
And with them the Being Beauteous,
Who unto my youth was given,
More than all things else to love me,
And is now a saint in heaven.
With a slow and noiseless footstep
Comes that messenger divine,
Takes the vacant chair beside me,
Lays her gentle hand in mine.
And she sits and gazes at me
With those deep and tender eyes,
Like the stars, so still and saint-like,
Looking downward from the skies.
Uttered not, yet comprehended,
Is the spirit’s voiceless prayer,
Soft rebukes, in blessings ended,
Breathing from her lips of air.
Oh, though oft depressed and lonely,
All my fears are laid aside,
If I but remember only
Such as these have lived and died!
I created this in response to the sadness of having recently attended yet another funeral for a young person (he was just 19, and he drowned during a day of innocent fun with some friends at the local river), and to the pain of having to gaze into another coffin and see the monumental loss and tragedy it is and was. The thought of these types of tragedies sometimes overwhelm me.  All that had spanned in front of him, all of the potential for beauty and truth, all of his talent, all of his love, were all gone in an instant.  
The others that went before him paraded through my mind, the suicide, the murder victim, the car accident, the drug overdose, the lingering death from cancer.  Before, they were living and vital and burning bright and now, they had been reduced to a set of circumstances...their wings clipped off in mid-flight.  I began to sway under the burden of thought of how fragile our existence is.  We can never lose control of our life, because we never have that.  We can disorder our lives with the way we live, or reorder it again, but never control it.  That is just a myth and a fantasy, a slick and very glib lie told by people who are secretly scared witless.
When I walk among their graves, I feel such a mixed emotion.  We all wind up there eventually, despite our best and vainest attempts to keep death away.  But, where are our dead friends really?  That is the mystery that propels us forward, despite of what we believe or do not believe.  The answer is in the recesses of this universe.  Inside, we know somehow some mysterious force holds the answer to that eternal question, and keeps the inhabitants of this world in never-ending turmoil as they seek it.  Some find it, and find peace, or so they claim.  Others openly proclaim they cannot.  Most of us fall somewhere between those two extremes...ever plodding away, ever searching, secretly yearning, quietly hoping, sometimes even daring to believe.   I suppose that might be the core essence of faith, the seed of it.  What grows from there depends on the type of faith, and each individual must explore that solitary road on their own.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

"A promise"

"A promise" by Hilary J. England, 2012, wood, glass, wax, paint



This artwork was based on Wordsworth's "Ode on intimations of mortality"~

Thoughts:

Immortality, mortality, the immortality of love, and the reality of the expectations that usually fall far short 
of the dreamy prospects we cling to secretly in our hearts. 
A promise, a promise.  The hollow resonance of that promise that echoes through the recesses of our minds...
you promised.  You didn't keep it.  The promise was beautiful, pure, full of hope and possibilities,
and now, it is just a bitter memory.  How quickly a promise or vow can move from the heights of Heaven
to the depths of the swampy marshes of pain and misery.  Beautiful youth is never too far removed to even 
bring hope to the oldest of our sphere with a promise. 
 Promise is the equivalent of optimistic hope, joy, expectation, and the idea that all is not absurd and 
irrational.  
A promise promises to set things right, to bring nobility to an ignoble situation, to restore harmony and
honor.  
Yet, most promises are just wispy vapors, holograms, or phantoms. 
 How strange to find a promise unbroken during the course of a lifetime--akin tofinding a unicorn, 
or a field of four-leaf clovers.  
Yet, we still light up like a child deep inside, even against our own rationale, our own free-thinking 
will, 
when we are promised something, whether it is a large promiseor a small vow.  
Promises still hold power.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Virus

I have had a virus of some sort I can't seem to shake.  The local doc says it has been going around the neighborhood like wildfire, a strange sort of illness.  I just feel tired and sweaty, with a nonstop headache, and random feelings of vertigo.  Not pleasant, and very low-grade.  It seems to not want to go away for the last five or so days.  Yuck.

Besides that, I am trying to barrel through it.  I have been working pretty steadily, even though I feel like total garbage and very crabby.  I am getting geared up for a few different shows, but the one I am most excited about right now is the Parallax AF NYC in Chelsea.  It is a curious and really heavy hitting new show in NYC, and I was invited to participate and did so with great anticipation.  Should be an amazing show, with amazing artists, and I am happy to be a part of it.  It's running from 11/16-11/18 in Chelsea, NYC.  Check out my website at: www.hilaryjengland.com for the full scoop.

I have been working in several different mediums, each of them really helpful to the thematic motif of rural American youth.  This is the second mixed media artwork I just finished.  It is called, "Goodbye"



Here are the thoughts for this piece:

"I think, therefore I am." ~Descartes  As we grow from barely thinking human beings into fully aware adults, I noticed a change of perspective that comes along with this blossoming and awareness.  Many times, violent emotions are involved, and in the heat of these conflicts, truth often arises.

It is said that change is hard, but many times that is an understatement.  This artwork "Goodbye" addresses the complexities of the basic principle of change, and the awareness of our movements toward and away from each other.  In the marketplace of ideas, we orbit through many different spheres, sometimes touching, sometimes overlapping, but many times, we can find ourselves at opposite ends of the universe of our reality from people we profess to love and care about, on ever level a human can experience.  Love is a small word for the size and breadth of the psyche it occupies.

No matter how far along a person is on the journey that is life, the death of a relationship and the moment of clarity when it strikes is always a new experience.  Pain, confusion, anger, depression, relief, and sometimes even a dark form of joy are some of the conflicting and jagged emotions that can cloud or clarify judgment.  Often, the experience is so profound, it is life altering.

I constructed this artwork of found and ready-made objects.  The base is a stripped wooden pedestal, and on that I mounted a wine bottle that I found and cleaned.  It was fixed to the base and was papier mached into place, sprayed with spray paint.  The .22 caliber bullets are live rounds, fixed, and painted with black enamel nail polish, as is the archway into the piece, which I constructed of left over wedding cake mountings. Rhinestones mark the phantasms that are floating ideas or dreams.

The piece symbolizes danger, nostalgia, wistful remembrances, sober realization, and of course, a vault into the unknown.



Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day

"Noelle and D" by Hilary  J. England
charcoal on paper, 18" x 24", 2012

Yea, Labor Day.  The official end of Summer.  That makes me quite happy!  I come out in the morning, and now I can feel the cool, faint, barely existent smell of Autumn, but soon, it will be here!  The crisp, clean air, the beautiful foliage, the harvest moon.  Yes, I look forward to Autumn with the same enthusiasm as I have since I was a kid--it was always my favorite season.

I have been working away, and have completed another mixed media work (I have yet to photo or post either of these works), and am working on a third.  There will five works in all in this series, each addressing a different topic/emotional issue.

For now, I will leave you with this charcoal study entitled "Noelle and D" charcoal on paper, 18" x 24".  It is a study for my "Rural American Youth" series, and I did several drawings in conjunction with that series. I'll post them as I photo them...I've been lazy in the heat, plus working on commissions.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Busy bee

"BFFs" by Hilary J. England
Digital Fractal Artwork


I have been working very diligently for the last few days, framing work, painting, working on a charcoal series, working on the mixed media series, and negotiating with several galleries for upcoming exhibitions, two group, and one solo show.  So, I am rapidly approaching exhaustion.  I don't think the cross-training boot camp class I have been participating in is helping matters, LOL.

So, lots on the horizon.  I feel a feverish drive to work at this...I don't think the world will end in November, but we may have upheavals no matter which way this dastardly election works out.  I don't want to think anymore about it, or hear anymore about it.  It's infuriating, and depressing.  I stick to watching TCM and great movies from the Silver Screen.  They keep my spirits buoyed and give me hope for the human race, so I can continue with peace in my heart.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pulling it all together

"Goose stepping" by Hilary J. England
Digital fractal art, 2012

This is part of a digital series I've been working on in conjunction to my "Rural American Youth" painting series.  These different media artworks are being pulled together for an exhibition, which also include drawings, charcoal work, 3-D mixed media art/sculpture, and photography.

I have been working away, really enjoying working in different mediums, and the freedom of it.  I feel the inspiration burning like a fever, and it sets my mind ablaze.  It's like opening the windows and feeling a clean breeze come rushing in.  Yes, moving into different mediums has been a very cleansing experience.

I have been working on 3 dimensional mixed media pieces as well, consisting of ready-made and found objects, along with papier mache, and different textures.  What a great outlet!

So, more to come in the next few days!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

New directions

"Flunkies"
Digital Artwork, 2012

So, I am working on a few shows around the country, and one in Rome.  I have been working feverishly these last few days, on some new mixed media works, including sculpture, digital art, and other works in my "Rural American youth" series.  I have been adding works in all mediums, and I enjoy that IMMENSELY.  Working only in paints gets stifling to me after a while, and drawing, sculpting, and other mixed media work really makes me feel unshackled.

This piece is called "Flunkies," and I had a lot of fun working with these carefree kids, as always.  More to come in the next few days!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fly to Jesus...

Rest in peace, Noah.


It's a beautiful day, but attending a funeral is a sad way to spend it. These types of occurrences, like the loss of a 20 year old young man, challenges my heart and my mind, to understand, then I realize, there is no understanding, only faith.

Noah was a sweet, vibrant, talented, and ambitious young man, who was a friend of my daughter's, and he drowned a few days ago in freak accident at a popular swimming hole here in the neighborhood.  Nothing strange involved, no drugs or alcohol, just a group of young people frolicking and having innocent fun on a rope swing, and then the current of the river took him away in front of their horrified eyes.  They tried to help him, but could not reach him, and so, Noah was lost.

Today was his funeral, and what a wrenching funeral it was. To see the anguish of his parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, cousins, friends, and the community at large, as we all sadly remembered him and the potential that he had, all gone in one blink of an eye on a bright, beautiful afternoon of happy play, a day just like today.

I could only quietly weep for their helpless pain, their eyes that met mine, that met each mourner that came, and that desperate pain that each person has when a sudden death comes into the midst of everyday life.  Why?  Why him?  Why now?  Why does a horrible thing like this happen to a nice, promising young person?
We will never know, not on this side of Heaven, so the only thing we can do is accept, grieve, and remember.  Remember Noah, and how he was a good friend, and how he was loved.

Rest in peace, Noah.  Fly to Jesus, and live.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dog days

"A world within a world: Fletcher 2" oil on canvas panel
12" x 16" , 2012



For me, August has always been the most oppressive and forlorn of all the months on the calendar.  The days are hot, lazy, fat, and stagnant, with blistering, humid heat, yet, in our parts, usually drought-like conditions.  It's as if the days are pregnant with water, and yet never give birth to a tremendous storm that will release the sweltering, sultry heat.  I have abandoned my studio altogether for now, this summer.  The conditions grew unbearable, as if I were painting in an oven.  No fans or paltry old air conditioner could touch the incredibly claustrophobic and suffocating conditions.  Inside into the relief to paint non-figurative color studies and other related activities--it was the only choice I was left with.

During these Fletcher color studies, I have also ordered a large amount of books on art, philosophy, and cultural connections.  Some of the reading was pleasant, other books not so much.  As an artist, it is a constant war within my mind to grapple with and understand why I create, what is my place in the "machine," and which direction my voice should be aimed to echo into the darkness that is the unknown.  I do not believe that art should be created just for the sake of art, nor do I believe that the "mission" of my voice as communicated through my work is to sway people to my belief system.

Ultimately, I believe that art is a type of religion in itself, a connection from the physical into the metaphysical, and each piece connects with the viewer in a private way, so that they can contemplate not only the surface beauty, but the message and symbolism contained within the work.  Part of the struggle is finding the correct medium to convey both the emotion and the symbolism intended. I also believe art affirms order and beauty, even if the piece is ultimately about destruction, because there is a dark side to life, but, that is only one dimension to our existence, and not the dominant direction, at least not for me.  Life is inherently a gift, and not an absurd and meaningless proposition, so my goal as an artist is to chronicle that.

I know that the bulk of modern art is alienating and requires an intermediary to intervene on behalf of the viewer.  That reflects a degree of Catholicism in my mind, where I would need a priest to intervene and petition to God for me, and then communicate back the answer, the map of how I can gain cleansing through an accepted protocol of actions.  I recoil at that idea, yet, it is the norm of the day, in a culture that claims to be secular, we have embraced the same ideals that we so openly spurn.  How ironic. To me, tucking myself away and leaving the realm of the people, through elitism or any other apartheid, is depressing and not my goal as an artist.  So, I continue to push ahead, in the direction I feel I am called to move in, whether or not it is acceptable to the Establishment.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Into the rabbit hole!

"Into the rabbit hole: Fletcher 1"  by Hilary J. England,
Oil on canvas panel 12" x 16", 2012


It's been beastly hot.  I manage to get some work done in the early a.m., and sometimes, a night or two in, but my studio gets to the point of near suffocation by midday, even with the air conditioning chugging along on turbo, so it is just impossible.  I hate the summer, literally.  I hate stifling heat, I hate bugs, I hate humidity, and I hate having to stay in air conditioning, since it dries out my sinuses and drives up the electric bill into the stratosphere.  So, there is my rant for the day.  I would rather be in the most frigid cold than in blasted heat. I don't know how my ancestors lived in the tropics!   I guess that's one of the perks of believing in God, the hope of escaping eternal heat! LOL.  No offense out there to the thin-skinned.

I have been working quietly inside, actually getting a lot of studying done.  I started working on an exploration of Fletcher's Colour control theories, and it is extremely fascinating (thank you Myron, once again, you brilliant man!).  I am just intoxicated with this theory, and the simplicity, yet complexity of it.  I started doing some very controlled abstract color studies recommended to get a "feel" for this system, and I am just loving it.  Above is the first one. It's part of a study series called "Into the rabbit hole" and this is "Fletcher 1."  I like the idea of vertigo, and going through layers to get to a strange place!  The color scheme is entirely based on Fletcher's theory of split complimentaries, value, temperature, hue and intensity, and it was a very interesting and absorbing study.

So, aside from simmering indoors, I also plan on making another few trips down to the Philly Museum of Modern Art to the Rodin installation, just to stay cool and draw from his sculptures...a rather relaxing way to pass these hot days.  I started a new abstract color study, hopefully it will be done in the next day or so, I have to wait for the oil layers to dry thoroughly between each application, so the colors stay vibrant and unmuddy.

That's all--stay cool my friends.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Warsaw, Poland

Ah, it was an interesting day, but I am tucked away in Warsaw, in a really nice room, waiting on room service (decided to stay inside in the air conditioning, after sweating for the last three weeks, haha) of Polish style duck and other delights.

Fast forward an hour, and I just had the most delightful dinner!  The tuxedoed waiter knocked softly, and viola, there was a tray laden with some absolutely amazing food.  Polish-style roasted duck, seasoned roasted apples and potatoes, warm, freshly baked rolls with three different types of whipped butter (one was garlicky, the other sweet cream, and the other had parsely and dill in it) , and a heavenly, fluffy, vanilla and chocolatey dessert, which was gorgeously decorated with chocolate sauce and fresh whipped cream, and some very fresh raspberries, plus a steaming pot of espresso.  Wow--nothing beats high quality restaurant food and service while you're chilling in your pajamas!

I was very impressed with how clean and beautiful the city is.  Plus, the Polish are very efficient, really.  Their service is very perfunctory, but it is done with a smile.  I appreciate that.  They are really very good caretakers and don't mess around when it comes to service.  We need a bit of that back home!

So now, I'm just relaxing in my suite, sipping some espresso, having a smoke (yes, that's another thing, even though they are an extremely progressive and modern city, you are still allowed to SMOKE).  Room service is bringing up a bucket of ice for me for the overnight, and I'm going to watch a movie, probably "Hugo," since I want something light-hearted after not watching any TV at all for the last several weeks.

I am looking forward to going home, being with everyone, and am very thankful for the wonderful couple of weeks I had with the artist's residency project.  Just awesome.  I'm looking forward to the exhibition in Berlin this fall, and new adventures!  But for now, I will be happy to sleep in my bed again, wake up and see my family, and snuggle with my dog.  Life is good :-)  Goodnight--time to relax and watch my movie.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Nice Day 18

"Cours Saleyas" oil on canvas, 8" x 11"


Tomorrow I fly out to Warsaw, and then on Monday, home.  I am actually looking forward to it now, since (I know this may sound strange) but I have had enough beach for the time being.  I am looking forward to seeing my family, and my dog.  If they were here with me, that would be different, but even still, when I stay for more than a week or so in a foreign place and have seen all the sites I set out to see, I'm kind of ready to move on to new adventures.

I am going to head out for one last night at the beach, and then back in and hopefully all goes well with no hitches tomorrow, in the airport, since LOT was giving me fits this morning trying to check in for tomorrow.  The website kept stating "no record" of my booking.  That always makes me a little uneasy, especially when I can't get through to their offices in New York.  I will take it as it comes tomorrow when I get into the airport, but, I've put Mark on it in the meantime. He's good with things like that, whereas I am not.  I just want to reach my hand through the phone and strangle the other person at the end of the line.  Yes, patience is still something I working to perfect.

So, I couldn't resist, and did one last painting of the Flower market, the very famous Cours Saleya market.  It was quick, because I seem to melt anytime I am out in the direct sun these days, and a hat makes it even worse, so I have to work really fast or I feel like I am dropping dead, LOL.

Speaking of feeling like dropping dead, I had another panic attack last night, this is the second night in a row.  I haven't had one in AGES, yet I woke up again last night out of a dead sleep, completely breathless, wondering again if I was having a heart attack or something, and after a few hours, it just went away, and I fell back to sleep.  It's the worst feeling, because you don't know if it really is some weird panic attack, or you really are having a heart attack (hey, at my age, it's not out of the realm of possibility, as I did push past the big 4-0 now), and then you start thinking, "great, they'll find me all stinky and dead in a foreign country."  Bad bad road to go down, LOL.

Anyway, I didn't get much sleep afterwards, plus I was made miserable by the heat, and getting bitten up by mosquitoes because I forced to keep the windows opened because of the stifling closeness of the apartment, and again, I'm pretty much beat up today.

So, I hope you enjoy my last little offering of artwork from my stay in Nice.  God willing (and stupid airline staff put aside) I will be back in the USA on Monday, and I am looking forward to it now!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Nice Day 16


I didn't post yesterday because I spent my day enjoying St. Paul de-Vence and the surrounding areas.  "Vence" is a medieval village way up in the maritime Alps, not too far from the coast, and is quite remarkably preserved.  It' s cobbled streets and ramparts and vegetation all give you a glimpse of what the city must have looked like a thousand years ago.  Very interesting, very impressive, and very lovely.

It is also now very much a tourist trap, but that is OK.  I enjoyed it anyway.  I had a very nice, very delicious lunch of steak tartar, fresh mesculin salad, frites, and a really delicious tapenade of black olives and olive oil with crusty french bread.  I enjoyed this while looking out over the entire valley, with a nice cool breeze blowing.  It was quite heavenly.

I also had the most delicious "bisquits" as a dessert.  Actually, the dessert was unintended, but delicious none-the-less.  I came into a quaint old confectionary, and it was quite an amazing shop.  There were cookies piled so high they defied gravity, and nougats, chocolates, and every other confection you could possibly dream of all crammed into this delicious-smelling shoppe, and an older woman was walking around with a mound of little "sample" cookies.  As I gazed cautiously around (afraid to knock down the towering cookie displays), this woman came up to me smiling, and began a rapid-fire stream of French, presumably about her wares.  As I opened my mouth to say I didn't understand her, she literally shoved one of the little cookies in my mouth, with a smile, LOL.

I was kind of taken aback, but, the deliciousness of the cookie replaced the shock, because it was a little lemon cookie with a sweet and tart lemony interior, with the exterior cookie part being a soft, crumbly, buttery type of shortbread.  It was one of the best, if not the best, cookie I've ever tasted.  As she saw my expression, she smiled and nodded.

Needless to say, I wound up buying more of her cookies, and each was even more delicious than the next.  I bought an almond and anisette cookie, which was delightful, and then the King of all cookies, the one with the gooey chocolate interior.  This one was a cookie that you might trade a family member for, haha!

Later, as I boarded the bus headed back for Nice along with some other tourists, I noticed several were carrying the Confectionery shoppe bags as well.  Her method of shoving cookies into unsuspecting mouths must work pretty good, because I saw a lot of cookie bags around the village ;-)  I thought of this with a laugh on the ride back.  What if the person was a diabetic or hated cookies?  Nah.  They wouldn't be in that shop.  Her method of shock sales would be akin to me taking one of my paintings into a gallery and bashing the curator or client over the head with it, and when they came to, them being so overwhelmed with the goodness of the creation, they forgot all else.  You have to be pretty sure of your product, and make sure it's a damn good one, to utilize this method!!!

Anyway, I will be leaving here soon, and I am sad about that.  I really did love it here, and as the old saying goes, "parting is such sweet sorrow."  I look forward to seeing my everyone, but I still feel sadness at returning.  The "same-old same-old" is not appealing or comforting to me, as I thought it would after being gone for several weeks.  Maybe it's time to examine why I am feeling this way...maybe it's hormones!  Or, maybe I dread the jet-lag, or, maybe it's more than that, either way, I'll have some time to grapple with it at home for the next few months before Berlin.

Well, enough ruminating.  Time to get out and make the most of these last two days!!! Got some shopping to do for everyone, and some more swimming at Florida plage later on.  Bon jour!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nice, Day 14

"Rendezvous" by Hilary J. England
Oil on canvas, 22" x 28" x 1"
July, 2012
As I was doing my smaller en plein air paintings, I was tossing around ideas for my "signature" piece of artwork summarizing the essence of mood of my time here in the Riviera.  My assignment and task was to create an artwork that most totally expressed my weeks and experience here, both of the people, places, and culture, artwork in particular.  If I distilled all of that information down, weeding out the obvious images of the Riviera, which is quintessentially, the beach and ocean, and looked harder at the beautiful history, culture, and people that reside and pass through here, I felt an overwhelming urge to compose a painting infusing all of those elements.

I was particularly struck by a little place in Biot that was marked, "Vox Populi," or "voice of the people."  I saw many young, old, glamorous, and age-weathered people, but the Riviera is a beautiful place, known for its stylish abodes, clothes, and people, so I chose to focus on the glamour, beauty, and positive side of this paradise.

I thought this was a bit ironic when I saw a very lovely young girl chatting obliviously on her cell phone, under the writing of "Vox Populi."  To her, the history of this probably means nothing, because she seemed coquettishly arranging a "rendezvous" with a male admirer.  I thought it was intensely relevant and encapsulating to both the subject of my painting, and to life in general:  We should not take things in life from one extreme or another.  We cannot get so swept away in the negative to forget the happiness of living, like this young girl was doing, enjoying her romance and possible tryst, but we also cannot look in the other direction and forget the past, which this writing on the wall soberly reminds us.

I think this sentiment is important to all cultures, and as an American, I am particularly reminded of it today, Independence Day.

So, this is how I came to arrange this painting, "Rendezvous."  I worked faster than I have in a long time, for a painting of this size, but I desperately wanted to make sure it was done with time to dry before Saturday, so I can deliver it to the gallery. I did it, and rejoiced!  Now I can fritter away my last days here.  I am sad to not paint anymore (they certainly won't dry in time to make the journey), but maybe I'll squeak one more out tomorrow--I just can't help myself.

So, for my American friends, have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!!  To all else, God bless.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nice, Day 13

"Cliff hangers" by Hilary J. England
Oil on hardwood panel, 8" x 11"


Roman ruins of Cimiez


I woke up with a stomach ache.  Yuck.  But, at least it was so nice and cool, with it being cloudy and ominous, and a lovely fresh breeze blowing on me, it was heavenly.

I spent yesterday evening at the beach, relaxing, swimming, and pondering.  The Mediterranean was pretty rough with large waves, and after struggling a swim, decided to sit it out on the beach. I was deep in a rather morose reverie when I began watching these Chinese people clambering about on the pier.  The women were very smartly dressed, with lovely sundresses, hats, flowing scarves, the works.  There were three women, an older one, a middle-aged one, and a young lady in her early twenties, all elegant and well put-together.  The also had a young man with them, who was carrying an expensive camera, and acting as the "photographer."

He had them posing out on the edge of the pier, and they took several shots like that together, and then he began to photo them individually, each one striking her own unique pose.  The middle-age woman seemed to be unhappy with the results of her photo session, and decided she wanted to have a retake.  I watched as she would pose, go back and look at the picture, yell something in Chinese at him, and then go back again for another retake.

As I was watching this little scene unfold, all of a sudden, a large, rogue wave came up and broke over the pier, literally almost knocking this woman out to sea.  She got up, and she was completely wet like she HAD been washed out to sea.  The other three came running to her aid, as she spluttered and squawked on the pier, and I just burst out in a huge belly laugh!  It was the funniest thing I'd seen yet on this trip!!  The people sitting next to on the blankets around me just goggled at this (they apparently watching too), and when they saw me laughing, all burst out laughing as well.  The whole beach that was sitting around the area was in hysterics and a real uproar!

But, the Chinese lady was a good sport about it.  Seeing everyone laughing, she began to bow and laugh herself, even taking pictures with some of the dusky local teenagers, like a celebrity.  It was all in good fun.

So, anyway, I leave you with this painting I painted this painting the other day when I was in a working frenzy.  The view and the flowers were so beautiful and peaceful, I couldn't resist, and it didn't take that long, it just "flowed."  I was happy that I did, because it took me out of the grouchy mood I was in from the previous painting.  Some paintings are easy, some are hard, but you love them all, just like your children.

Now, out to the beach!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Nice, Day 12

"Wishful thinking" by Hilary J. England, 8" x 11" oil on hardwood panel

This painting was extremely difficult for me, not so much that it was a difficult painting, I just was really cranky throughout the entire process.  The heat is definitely taking a toll on me.  I despise working with goopy oil paint, with sweat dripping from every pore in my body, and all of it landing in my eyes, LOL.  There are also stealthy ants, and other annoyances to deal with.  I thought of chucking the whole thing and just going to the beach and laying in a hammock, but my stubbornness got the better of me, and I finished the work.  I feel happy to have stuck it out.  Quitting things is against my nature.

I thought this painting was very much the flavor of the Riviera, beaches and beautiful landscapes put aside.  People walking around leisurely, looking at super expensive items, and longing for them.  Lots of people seem to feel that if they acquire that next great piece of jewelry, or fabulous car, or admired work by a master artist, they will be on their way to making it!  Although this is not a concept I subscribe to personally, I can understand people admiring beauty and being fascinated with the idea of being able to possess it, so I do not formulate any opinion about peoples love for glitz and bling, haha.  It's just human nature.

I am heading out today, to Charvin, to clear my head, and to have some peaceful time.  It's thundering today, which is wonderful, because it gives me an excuse not to paint outside!  I do need a break, but I am feeling the crunch to complete the larger picture I am required to finish in the next three to four days.  It will require some larger brushes than I am currently working with.  Hopefully, I won't have to mortgage any family members to purchase them.

So, that is it for today from the beautiful Riviera.  More tomorrow, God willing. :-)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nice, day 10

"Un chien" by Hilary J. England, 8" x 11" oil on hardwood panel


It's dawned to be a very nice day.  I hear that we are suffering a heat wave across the pond in the USA, but here, the temps have been holding steady in the mid 80s, the problem is it has become overcast, so the weather has become humid and sticky, which is rather uncomfortable.

I am sitting on my terrace, drinking coffee, and mulling over what I want to accomplish today.  I began working on ideas for the bigger painting, and I'm debating whether to to stay in and work on that today?  Actually, I'm feeling a bit "stir crazy" after yesterday's long work hours both indoor and out, so I'm thinking first things first, a very long walk along the shore.  Then, I'm definitely meeting up with some of the locals that invited me out for coffee tonight, so maybe I will take a bus into Antibes in the inbetween, and save the work on the big painting for tomorrow. I think that sounds like a plan.

I worked on this painting "Un chien" in the nice cool of an alley way in the backstreets of some little village we went through called "Biot."  Apparently, there is a great deal of Crusader/Templar history here, and that is very tantalizing and appealing to me.  I couldn't resist the ancient alleys and quiet corridors, and of course, the mousy, brown, little mutt of a dog just roaming about on his own.  Very old school, haha.  I feel completely at home and connected with these ancient villages...like being on a soul journey back in time to where we came from, and directly visiting the villages and towns our ancestors lived and walked and played and died in.

So, that is the sum of these middle days here.  I am still working at a furious pace, and would like to even step it up further, if I can.  I haven't been sleeping too well, since the bed is very lumpy, and my back and neck are starting to protest this (lucky I have a good supply of Ibuprofen gelcaps!).  I have resorted to pulling the window barricade down to prevent the sun in the morning, and also sleeping in the opposite direction from the foot of the bed (seems less lumpy cause it gets "less traffic").  Other than that, I am very motivated to complete the mission I am here for.  Now, off for another day of work, sweat, and intrigue.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Nice, day 9

"Flowers of Cap Ferrat" by Hilary J. England, 8" x 11" oil on hardwood panel


The weather is very nice today.  In the low 80s with a very nice breeze, and now overcast, so it makes for excellent working conditions.  I woke up early and was able to get out and about, and hope to complete another painting before the day is out.

No beach for me today, strictly work, but that is good.  The old saying about "making hay" is a worthy one, so I have no problems working through into the night tonight, and returning to the isolation of my room to plot out tomorrow's work adventure.

This painting is called "Flowers of Cap Ferrat."  What more can I say, this place is surreal in it's beauty.  Magnificent, Stupendous, Dazzling.  There aren't enough adjectives.  I am looking forward to more painting, so I must get moving out the door.  Enjoy!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nice, Day 8

"Wallflowers" Oil on hardwood panel, 8" x 11"






Blazing hot again, no rain yet, but maybe some tonight.  I spent the day working, in the cooler areas, and then headed to the beach, just floating in the sea like a seal, but even that gets hot after a while, so I headed back to my apartment, and took an icy shower.  Felt good for about five minutes, and then I started to sweat, haha.

So, I'm lying still, just reclining and relaxing, and enjoying the little breezes that come through every now and then, and that feels very nice.  Tomorrow, I'm off to Antibes and Cannes, and then over the weekend, St. Paul-de-Vence, where Picasso and his crew used to hang out.  Should be interesting.

I did this painting of these two locals, very quick, and very quirky.  They seemed so incredibly French, sitting in their slacks and long sleeves, not a bead of sweat on their brow, and leathery, craggy complexions composed in a stance of complete serenity.  The backdrop of gardenias and other flowers on the wall was quite interesting as well, and I am thankful that they would sit and leisurely pose for me, as part of the local culture and flavor of the area. I'm calling it "Wallflowers."  Pun intended, hehe.  They were very sweet.

So, that is it for now.  I am supposed to meet up with some people later on, but I don't know if I will have the energy.  Maybe.  I have an hour to think it over, or I can just stay in here in my underwear, and relax in the cool of the breezes.  I think I like that idea better!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nice, Day 7


"Flowers of Cap Martin" oil on hardwood panel, by Hilary J. England

Just outside of Monaco!

One week today!  I am finally getting used to the blazing heat, and that's no easy accomplishment for me.  I am not very good in the hot weather, and my paints don't want to hear it either, as they have become sticky, gooey messes, and trying to get that to adhere to a panel is quite an arduous task that takes some getting accustomed to.  But, I blunder on, haha.

I went up the coast to Monaco and Menton today, stopping off in Cap Martin and a few other "Caps" as well.  Very beautiful.  I was most grateful for the air conditioned bus!  I tried to pair my supplies down to a bare minimum, but even so, and in this relentless heat, I wound up nearly dead from heat exhaustion.  Every inch of my body was sweating, even parts I didn't know could sweat!!  I packed it up just in the knick of time before I went down for the count!  I was quite surprised at how the sun and heat just crept up on me,  am just recovering my equanimity at having been beaten by the the Sun.  Literally.  Sun 1, Hilary, 0. ;-)

While I was languishing in the weak shade of a palm tree, I did happen to recollect my wits enough to look around, and people watch awhile,  and see the beautiful Mediterranean architecture,  the posh shops, and posh people.  I guess I didn't look very appealing to an Arab billionaire, all covered in sweat and paint, LOL.  I guess also that for a weird woman painter, not all dolled, pinned, powdered, and primped, they didn't know what to think.

I noticed that many women here are walking their dogs and just window shopping in high heels, designer dresses, and full war paint.  I guess to each their own, but for me, as a woman, I hate the idea of not being able to be au natural without being conspicuous or judged by both men and other women. The women here enjoy being dolled up and being adored and validated for that, their outside appearance, and from the view of an outsider looking in, that seems to be their entire life.  But again, it IS their life, and they are free to live it any way they want, including spending it as a Stepford wife.  I just don't get it, and wonder what goes on beneath the surface, if anything at all...

I guess I'm an odd person as a woman, but I am what I am, so I don't lament it.  I always was a tomboy, but never to the extreme.  I like getting dressed up when the occasion calls for it, but that doesn't mean rolling out of bed and spending three hours doing hair and makeup to walk the dog.  Ah well.  I guess that's as foreign to me as I am to them, and that's why I am lugging my paints around the Riviera covered in sweat instead of lolling about drinking champagne on the deck of some billionaire's boat!  But, I must say, I do admire the pure glamour of these women, and they do make the world beautiful with their efforts at their appearance, even if I don't understand it, they are still very charming and elegant to look at!  And the jewels some were wearing, wow!!!  Very impressive.

Aaaaaanyway,  views were beautiful, and although Monte Carlo is the playground for the wealthy, I didn't notice a huge glut of yachts, just a handful littering the Mediterranean.  Maybe it's the hard economic times, or maybe yacht season isn't in full-swing, but either way, I don't really care.  Yachts and cars and clothes and so on don't impress me, BUT, the natural landscape absolutely blew me away in it's endless and unabashed beauty!  The soaring rock cliffs, the caves with the gulls flying in and out, the scrubby landscape that was still verdant and lush with exotic flowers, and of course, the never ending azure of the Mediterranean, all so gorgeous, I didn't know which way to look first.  Truly a paradise, if you can have one on earth.

I painted the one particular crag of a precipice as quickly as I could, working against the elements, particularly and ostensibly, the sun.  The flowers were just a lovely profusion of color, and because I am not local, do not know what genus or species they all were, just lots of bright color and breathtaking beauty.  Trying to transport the little panel became difficult as well, but I got it back in tact, where I could touch up the damage and places that needed help after my hasty abandonment of the area.

Anyhow, I hightailed it back down the coast, and literally took a flying leap into the shower as soon as I dropped all my stuff at the door.  I stayed in there like I was on fire for at least a half hour, no joke.  I thought about taking a dip in the ocean, but all of the gear for that was too tiresome.  I didn't feel like lugging an umbrella, putting on sunblock from head to foot, packing water and a beach bag.  Nope, the shower did the trick just as handily.  Maybe tomorrow if I don't decide to head into St.Tropez, Cannes, and Antibes.

So that's my recap of todays "Caps," haha.  Pun intended.

Old Stone cottage and wildflowers

 "Old stone cottage and wildflowers" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 11" Lest you think I have moved to some r...