Monthly Archives: January 2015

I meant to see some art today

I was feeling like I was either sliding on ice, or my paint really needed a little hint as to where land on the canvas. So, rather than set up shop, I decided to do some business and hopefully get some hints as to what to try next.

I started with Timeless Frames. I ordered mat board, and priced frames and talked about setting up a solo show there in the next couple of months. The work that is up there is work from the BAA that has been up since last month. So, no new work to see.

From there, I went back to downtown Rochester to RiverStones Framing and Gallery. A colleague told me that the owner would be interested in showing the BAA so I wore my Show Coordinator cap, and strolled in. Kris was very receptive and marked us on her calendar for July. As I was chatting with her, Ross Bachelder showed up to hang his show, and the three of us discussed an upcoming show at Drift Gallery at Zev Yoga, a solo by my dear colleague, Jeannie Griffin-Peterka. That’s an opening that I am hoping to not miss.

Ross’ opening at RiverStone’s, 33 North Main Street, Rochester, NH will be next Saturday, from 12-3.

I drove to Dover, and artstream wasn’t open.

Mill River Custom Framing & Art Gallery no longer shows art, but it was “old home week” because I showed with Sandi when her shop was in the Rollinsford Mills. We had a good chat.

(Can you see where this is going…)

Next stop was Michaels for foam core. As per usual, I always seem to be asked a technical question when I am in the store, and today David needed to know what gel medium was. I happened to be looking at canvases, in the same aisle. Timing is everything.

Nahcotta gave me something to look at, though I can’t gush about much that I saw. I do like Jeremy Miranda’s work, so I’ll start there.

"Waves of Winter" (c)Jeremy Miranda, oil on canvas, at Nahcotta

“Waves of Winter” (c)Jeremy Miranda, oil on canvas, at Nahcotta

Because I “borrowed” this image from Pinterest, I can’t enlarge it much further without distorting it completely out of recognition. I don’t like all of his work but where he rips away a wall to these really homey, pleasant spaces, exposing them to something a great deal less comfortable I find to be captivating. They brilliantly describe how vulnerable everything is without taking out the floor or the roof. And, I love how quiet they are.

Who knows what’s going on with this depicted Christmas. I come from an alcoholic family, where Christmas could really be ugly, when I was growing up. Or not. But, I can relate to those waves. As a child, I never really knew how rough the surf would be.

I will cut Nahcotta “slack” because this really is off-season, but the rest of the show was “off”-not hung as well as they usually present work, and didn’t have any real flow.

But, I saw art.

I also stopped at the Portsmouth Library to get info on who to contact for the BAA shows, and the librarian was lovely and gave me a few more suggestions as to who in Portsmouth to contact.

The final stop was the Levy Gallery (NHAA). I never saw all of the SHAPES show because I was instantly drawn into the side gallery when I noticed two pieces by my compadre Elaine Mendzela on the wall. She is one of the new members. When I came back to the main gallery, I was caught up in conversation with Barbara Alberts, who is also a new member. Barbara is a new transplant from Pittsburgh, and is now a new friend.

So, a day about reconnecting and connecting and new connections.

That’s art, too.





Definitions, continued


A wise man once called me too honest. He was one of the most brilliant painters that I was ever friends with. Our art discussions would last through pots of coffee and into hours much later than they should have. We attended opening receptions together, had a painting class together, and would meet after class to comment on each other’s work. And, using all of that newly learned vocabulary from class, we coached one another.

We each became romantically involved with other people, and drifted apart, though we crossed paths in the art building on occasion. Since I worked full-time, and supported a sister, my time became a premium commodity. As he was preparing for his senior year exhibit, he asked me to look at the work. Expecting what I knew of his paintings and drawings I was surprised to see that what he was going to show were collages. They were well-executed, perfectly framed, and I hated them. They were cold. They didn’t lack his intellectual and conceptual acuity, but they lacked the depth his paintings always had.

I was asked what I thought, and I told him. And, my art-related vocabulary had matured. I said numerous times, “They are good, but…” He let me finish. He acknowledged all that I said, and agreed. But, he also shook his head, smiling and said, “But, sometimes I think you’re too honest.”

I’ll wear the “too honest” badge proudly.


I will address what I said about “hacks” in the last post on this subject. “Hacks” are not producing honest art. “Hacks” are also lazy. Two traits in some people that I find disagreeable. One criticism I received was for labeling. I don’t like labels, either. It’s just easier I guess, than saying lazy liar.


Criticism, given constructively, can provide the best “aha” moment an artist can get.

Most of us work alone, and have to trust our own judgments/instincts regarding the “everything” about our current work. Last year, a very respected colleague expressed to me that she would love to see my oils look more like my watercolors. She felt that the fluidity in my watercolors didn’t exist in my oils.

Lightbulb!! x 1000000000.

I would have never considered pouring paint thinner on a canvas lying flat, had that never been said to me. I do it all of the time now.


Academic critique is not anything close to what we can do in an hour and a half with 15 people present. The last academic critique I went through lasted 4 hours and there were about 25 grad students involved.

And, I never envisioned anything like that last night as I was writing. The first one I attended, I sailed through with my three Graduate Committee Profs. But, there was the crazy woman with the animal diptychs that wanted to remove my head and arms, so I might never paint again!! (She had gone before me so I had no chance to reciprocate.) I took a break to smoke a cigarette after the beating, and my mentor followed me out into the hall to make sure I was OK.

The next MA critique, even though Don begged me not to, the crazy zoo animal lady was not so lucky. But, I did keep it short.


So, again, what is good art?

Had Theo not had art dealer connections, what would have happened to Vincent?

Who makes the determination that a piece is good?

I think it up to the artist to deliver their best, in all of the technical, more easily defined qualities. Is it honesty and hard work? That might be a start.

As I have already stated, one of the artist/colleagues I most admired respected my opinion to the utmost, and I know what should be there, but can I always be subjective about my own work? I doubt any of us can be 100%, and that’s where I think these Artshare meetings need to bring a bit more to the table than just being a “show and tell”.

So, my goal is to be as good as I can be. To know as much as I can know, and hopefully be able to impart that knowledge to those with less experience. And, hope to have more “aha” moments.




Untitled, emerging portrait

So, I seem to be allowing myself to travel all kinds of “underground”material, stretching my limits like I hope all my art friends do.

Untitled-emerging portrait (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2015

Untitled-emerging portrait (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2015

There is a resolve in me that will not allow me to remain “safe”. This has been a piece that has pushed me and may not be finished long after “Modigliani’s Mistress” graces someone else’s walls. Why the metallic?

Good art, a definition, with more questions, Part Deux

As I was waiting to get out of Tire Warehouse’s parking lot, I scribbled a few notes to myself to add to this conversation.

First of all, I think a big consideration in how work is discussed begins with why it was created in the first place. If the intent is just to allow the maker a mode of expression for whatever reason, I don’t think a question of quality, relevance, etc. really need to even be part of the program. I applaud anyone who makes anything just for the sheer joy, peace, cathartic release, etc. that art-making most certainly gives the creator.

Most of the people I am referring to in these groups are not solely creating to create. Bigger statements are being made that usually include a planned price tag, a venue or hopes for one, and all the professional/business stuff that goes into this, as well. I solidly fall into this group-solidly-even though I make pieces that are really personal, too. Those stay at home when I am sharing work with groups.

And, we all make stuff for sale and that is strictly its purpose. I am going to cross a somewhat debatable line and call this merchandise, not art. If the purpose for a piece is solely to be a money-maker, I feel that compromises have been made, and the emotion that goes into the creation was probably not there. Been there, too.

I know people also who have developed saleable formulas, and create work that fits in that formula, sometimes repeating a palette over numerous pieces. This formulaic, no thought, no emotion production is what I call “hack”.

A type of art that I don’t see as fitting “hack”  are images/themes that seem to be repeated by many artists. The same subject obviously is moving more than just one person-that doesn’t dilute the importance of a piece. This can be misunderstood by some as only done to produce a sale. Let’s face it, many people really love florals as their subject, for example, and that does not make them a “hack”.

So, once determining the purpose of the work, where do we draw the line on how precisely those of us who have the academic jargon and knowledge go in our critique? How fair would that be? And, how do I know what will even make sense to someone without formal training?

I personally think these kinds of meetings should help those participating grow artistically. I might be jaded, but I am seeing little in really useful observations in those that I belong to, at present. Granted, we all work in this vacuum that sometimes includes whirlwinds of self-doubting thoughts, and it is nice to hear accolades. Those of us who have not seen a classroom as a student for eons may actually revel in constructive criticism and suggestions, too, rather than being told that our “colors sing”.

But, all of this aside, what makes a good piece of art, when it is made as art? Who determines that? When do you know as an artist that you have a solid concept, that you have executed it in a way that visually demonstrated it, and the application of you medium is appropriate to all of the above ? Shouldn’t this also be part of these group discussions? Or am I getting too academic?



The definition of “good” art, Part 1

I think this may be a rambling essay that spans several days, but this idea came in a dream-and it makes sense now that I am exploring a great variety of mediums and styles, to figure out which direction to pursue.

What defines “good art”? Great art resonates, and you know when you see it. It doesn’t always have  a”wow” factor, but it always makes you think about it. Some calls you back for another look. A masterpiece takes all of that to the stars.

I belong to two art groups, both of which have a “share your art” element. I know many regional working painter, sculptors and photographers, so my Facebook home page is always covered in art. I do see my share of “meh” art.

It seems that too much of what is said is supportive, when maybe constructive criticism is necessary. But, when and where should that happen-or should I be brazen enough to tell someone that I think they are producing “hack” work? I honestly think that if someone doesn’t speak up, certain people will never realize their full potential, because they will never step outside their “safe” zone.

So, should we feel safe when we make our work, or should we feel challenged? I think the latter, because without a little change, where is the growth?

To be continued…

Updates and revisions

I got up this morning after lying in bed contemplating how this piece was not finished. After dinner, I changed all that!

"Juno with Robins", (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2015, mixed media, 12" x 12"

“Juno with Robins”, (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2015, mixed media, 12″ x 12″

Now. those of you who don’t know what a blizzard “looks” like, have an idea.

I also worked on the two canvases that I have in progress. “Modigliani’s Mistress” is smiling now-sort of. I blocked out more of the ground, and added a second eye to the face, as well.

"Modigliani'a Mistress", (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, in progress

“Modigliani’a Mistress”, (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, in progress (sorry this is slightly out-of-focus)

And, the work that changed the most…

untitled, (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2015, in progress

untitled, (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2015, in progress

These canvases start completely saturated with paint thinner, to enable the wash effects that I work with. This one got its’ third “bath” tonight, got flipped upside down from the last time I worked on it. I added the metallic gold, white, and deepened some of the purple. It important to note here also that the underlying texture is part of my prep process which includes creating that texture with acrylic paint and a palette knife.

I am hoping to have these canvases both finished this week-end, since there is a call for 100 Market Street that I would like to submit something to. If not, not a tragedy!

I did a lot of shoveling this morning, so an early night for me. Enjoy!

The Year-Round Smaller New England Birds

Many of our smaller birds do not migrate, and it always amazes me how they tolerate storms like today. During the height of it, they disappeared. No small wonder, but once the wind started to subside, the robins were back feeding on the sumac, like they had never left.

I watch out my window-and so does my cat-at Robins, Blue Jays, Cardinals and Finches that are hardy enough to endure storms like today, and the environment, in general.

"Juno with Robins", (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst,2015, pastel. 16" x 16", framed

“Juno with Robins”, (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst,2015, pastel. 16″ x 16″, framed

As the snow was still whipping around, but not like this morning the robins started to come out. A sign that the storm was ending. Birds are good to watch for weather predictions, too.


This storm felt overrated for snowfall, and yet it would have been treacherous to drive in-so I am thankful that I didn’t need to. Predictions for the snowfall accumulations were as much as 30 inches on Sunday, and we might end up with 12-15 inches. Nothing to sneeze at, but I have seen worse.

The wind that came along with this storm however…and the combination… are of the deadly variety. Wind chills are below zero. The snow bites into any exposed flesh. Frost bite is more than a possibility. And, the snow is still swirling around to make visibility for more then twenty five feet difficult.

"Winter Storm Iola", (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2015, digital photograph

“Winter Storm Juno”, (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2015, digital photograph

Since replacing my camera is really not something I want to do at the moment, I saved all photography for inside, looking out.

My favorite images of this group include snow on the screen or the window frame, demonstrating that it really is effecting me, even though I am inside.

"Iola, and the window lock", (c) Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2015, digital photograph

“Juno, and the window lock”, (c) Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2015, digital photograph

I am sure that I probably could have tweeked these with any number of programs and made them more interesting to some, adding color, pumping the contrast, etc. My idea for my photography is to remain as true to the image as possible. I will crop, when needed-neither of these were. I enhanced light and contrast minimally so the viewer still sees what I saw-not a tremendous amount beyond the window screen.

My camera travels with me, and I see a continuation of the exploration of this storms visual effects, after the matter.

To be continued. Tomorrow.

My creative energy in storms

We are supposed to get snow…major snow…blizzard-type weather in the next 24-36 hours. I am excited, pumped, knowing that I am “trapped” here tomorrow.

Yes, I have to do my 40-hour gig work, too, but there is something fun about having to stay in for the day. Something like getting trapped in the blanket fort, as it collapsed, as a kid. Not to downgrade the severity of what could happen with this storm. I might lose power, but I live close to a lot of medical facilities, including two hospitals. I am in one of the first grids that are restored.

Storms like this bring out the best in my photography, and I love to play in that medium on the day after a big one. Unfortunately, this year, it’s not happening on a Saturday, so I will have to work. But, here are some images from a storm two years ago…

Rochester Snow God, (c)Daryl-An Dartt Hurst, 2013, digital photograph

Rochester Snow God, (c)Daryl-An Dartt Hurst, 2013, digital photograph

But, there is something about hearing the wind through the Sumac that borders my apartment and knowing that I could lose power any minute that increases the need to get to the paint or photo or blog 🙂 , or maybe it is just Mother Nature.A minimal take on a storm, "Through the Bars, (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2013, digital photography

A minimal take on a storm, “Through the Bars, (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2013, digital photography

Snowstorm Nemo in 2013. "Closed Due to Blizzard" (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2013. Digital photograph.

Snowstorm Nemo in 2013. “Closed Due to Blizzard” (c)Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, 2013. Digital photograph.

We’ll see how intense this one is-Nemo was a week-end storm so sorta fun. Iola could be a pain!

I follow my gut with what I should do creatively and when. But, I create, regardless. Let it snow.



One definition of “Art in Small Places”

I have a large solo going up next week that includes work that came down on the 11th. It got wrapped and stacked in my studio/living room until Feb 1, when it gets delivered to the Gafney Library.

I am trying to get ready for the call for Gallery at 100 Market in Portsmouth, and I also have created a large number of watercolor/mixed media pieces on paper within the last few weeks.

As I was trying to cut foamcore and mats I realized that I have basically no room until this work goes north.

Cutting mats in the last remaining floor space

Cutting mats in the last remaining floor space

This defines dedication for an artist, I think. This is my living room. No real complaints (aside from I have run out of room), but I want to show the rest of the world that a lot of us don’t go to these gloriously naturally lit huge empty spaces to work. Many of us have spaces in our homes. In my case, my entire apartment is my studio-and that’s not the exception to the rule either!!

another view of the work space

another view of the work space

So, as I cut mats, stretch canvas, etc., I might also be moving furniture.  Cutting down a full sheet of mat board on the floor might be a challenge tonight.