Jim Fischer

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What's on the Easel, February 2020

Added Feb 21, 2020

What’s On The Easel, February 2020, Vol. II, No. 2

A monthly newsletter from Jim Fischer

 Finished…

This month’s newsletter was delayed as I wanted to finish and deliver this portrait:

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The Process …

The finished piece rarely shows the process so here’s some pics; the untrimmed board with my test strokes in the margins, the palette at the peak of painting the background and the two key photographs used.

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Collateral products …

In keeping with past work, I continue to use the left over materials to create small pieces. And now I have come up with a new art form to describe these works: Serendipidous Reality. You see, the works are not intentionally planned, they are left over paint on the pallet smeared on a scrap of paper, scraped up paint from the pallet dropped on a mat board scrap and cuttings from the rags used to wipe the brushes. Using a cut mat template, I look for images, then I match the image to a quote. The quote serves the purpose of pulling the image to reality thus a collection of paint becomes a moth flying to a flower, Joseph dreaming about an angel, a grizzly bear fishing for salmon, and so on (you can see the full title quotes at my website, www.theartistjimfischer.com). Serendipidous Realism.

These are some of the results from the creation of the portrait:

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A Manifesto of Sorts … Why do I do this?

An artist friend of mine, recently rejected from an exhibition, expressed to me her frustration with moving her art agenda forward and got me thinking, why do I do this? Nobody is buying and there are way too many competitors (with much mediocrity). So, I decided to do an exercise of self examination to reinforce my determination to forge on. There are six sections which I will publish in the newsletters one at a time starting with…

 Fame (6)

 Yeah, I guess anyone who makes an effort at something would like public recognition but I’ve come to the conclusion that (with rare exception) you can’t force it. If you are good enough fame will find you . So, I have decided to just do what I want to do, take it or leave it, and if fame should find me, so be it. But, I am not going to let the pursuit of fame detract from my enjoyment of what I am doing.

 (The number after the section title is the amount of importance it is to me, 10 being highest).

 That’s all for now.

 Everyone be well.

 

Jim

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What's on the Easel, January 2020

Added Feb 21, 2020

What’s On The Easel, January 2020, Vol. II, No. 1

A monthly newsletter from Jim Fischer

Happy New Year!

And, what’s on the easel? To tell the truth, nothing new. Demands of the holidays have pretty much shut down the studio. But we are keeping busy.

Io sells…

Yup, my portrait of Io at the Monmouth County Museum has sold, at the opening no less. Not a lot of money but, hey, at least I got something else to show the IRS. 

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And the Monmouth County Museum has already accepted two other pieces for their next show, Hiroshima and No Man’s Land.

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I seem to have found a venue that likes my work. They appear to be a rare venue that appreciates and is inclusive of realist art (which probably means they understand what the public likes and will buy). This is the fourth exhibit I will be in two years and after only seven tries, 4 for 7, batting 570 here.

Win Some, Loose Some

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Can you find my works in this gallery? 

Not only are many of the works here just a pot of paint thrown at a canvass, the curators obviously felt they should be thrown up on the wall en-mass as well. To make matters worse, the venue is a bar/restaurant where people appear to be more interested in eating and drinking than viewing art. To me that’s not very conducive to selling the works. More like they’re just decorating their walls for free. Oh, well, win some, loose some.

Five Days of Chaos

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No, I’m not talking about the White House (that’s perpetual chaos). I’m talking about our house where we have now replaced all 22 1960s error vinyl windows with new ‘period’ wooden sashes. 

After much noise and wind we no longer have the wind rattling the frames, a draft wafting into each room and the street sounds imposing on us. The quiet was what we first noticed. Thank you Pella (the installers did a great job, after five days of bedlam you would never know they were here), 

And again, Happy New Year to you all.

Everyone be well.

Jim

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What's on the Easel, December 2019

Added Feb 21, 2020

What’s On The Easel, December 2019, Vol. I, No. 9

A monthly newsletter from Jim Fischer

So, it starts…

… the winter, that is. The garden is packed up, the first snow is falling. Many people regard my profession, artist, as a glamorous occupation. The truth is it’s boring and lonely as well. And the winter is the worst. By about mid-February cabin fever will set in. I fully understand why, after a full day in the studio, artists traditionally gathered at the local watering hole. One evening, yes, at a local watering hole, I was having drinks with an artist friend. The woman to our right, overhearing our conversation, broke in saying, “I would love to come and watch you work someday.” My friend turned to her and responded, “You would be bored in 15 minutes.” Such is the life of an artist.

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What’s on the easel?

The portrait of Steph and Natalie, now finished, is installed in the dining room

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Setting personal goals and disciplining one’s self to sticking with them is another plight of the artist. I have set a goal this year of one portrait a month and, so, another portrait has been started. 

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Show season

‘Tis the season for the local galleries to make some money selling gifts of art. So, I am currently showing in three venues (from the left) Io is in the Monmouth County Museum Holiday Show, Petopia, Two Geisha’s and two other small works are in a downtown Jersey City gallery and “The Perfect Hamburger” is in a ProArts show in Jersey City Hall’s rotunda gallery. Let’s see if any works sell.

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What would you do… 

The other day I received an email from a ProArts member sent out to all members, including myself asking us to act on his behalf. A show that he was in was doing an online kind of ‘people’s choice’ contest. The voting site included images of each piece in the show but no artist names. This member was soliciting votes for his work from me and other ProArts members just on the basis of his ProArts affiliation. It was obvious that the gallery wanted a more esthetic decision based on just the art. What would you do?

In Other News…

This month’s newsletter is late due to the holidays (hey, isn’t everything delayed around this time). We spent a nice Thanksgiving with Natalie, her boyfriend, Jake, and his mother at his 1820s built house in Bergen just outside of Rochester. We had a comfortable train ride both ways (seats that recline almost flat) with no delays.

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Our annual Holiday Card (upper right in photo) is on the way.

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That’s all for now. Drop me a note if you like. I’d love to hear from you.

 Everyone be well.

 Jim

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What on the Easel, November 2019

Added Feb 21, 2020

What’s On The Easel, November 2019, Vol. I, No. 8

A monthly newsletter from Jim Fischer

In the words of a famous man…

… It is finished! This is the largest and most ambitious portrait I have done to date. Yes, Steph and Natalie are standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Big Sur. But don’t be fooled, they were placed there by me (and the famous bridge, while nearby, is not that close to the ocean). Artist’s license.

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And from big things come little surprises … 

The large portrait has also generated twelve (and counting) smaller paintings. There are three methods I am using to ‘paint’ these works. The first, as demonstrated by the top row, involves creatively cutting up the wiping rags used during painting (they are, from left to right, Prometheus, Vesuvius and Icarus).

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The second method, shown with the three works center right) involves arranging the dried paint scrapings from cleaning the pallete (they are, from the left, Gheishas, Samurai and Shinto Priest). The third method, the bottom row, makes use of the remaining wet paint on the palette (I always seem to squeeze more than is actually needed) as scraped up and laid down on board with a palette knife (they are, from left to right, Moby Dick, Hiroshima I and Hiroshima II). Waste not, want not, eh.

Fifteen minutes of fame…

… For Io. His portrait sunning himself (and showing no pride) has been accepted into the holiday exhibit, Petopia, of the Monmouth County Museum. Go Io!

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In Other News…

What to do with all those small pieces of glass left over when a leaded glass project is done? Well, I figured out how to cut them into 3/8 inch square pieces which had been, up to now, sitting in containers waiting. For many (about 1,000 pieces) the waiting is over. With the completion of the rebuilding of the front stairs we had the porch skimmed with concrete. Sooooooo, I had the contractor leave a 14 inch circle about 1/8 inch deep in the center that I filled with this:

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AVAILABLE NOW! With the helpful advice by my friend, Jan Lorenc, I was able to create a catalog of the Whistler’s Venice Pastel exhibit. The full pdf of the book is too large for this newsletter (60mb) but if you are interested, and your inbox can handle the size, I’d gladly send it to you. Now, if you are interested in the hardcover publication (with dust jacket) I can get you one for $65. Just let me know.

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That’s all for now. Drop me a note if you like. I’d love to hear from you.

 

Everyone be well.

 

Jim

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What's on the Easel, October 2019

Added Feb 20, 2020

What’s On The Easel, October 2019, Vol. I, No. 7

A monthly newsletter from Jim Fischer

About that procrastination …

…Well, I guess it’s feast or famine, and now I’m feasting.

On the easel is the reason I was procrastinating, a full size portrait of Steph and Natalie. Putting brush to canvas as a realist painter is always fraught with risk. After all, it does have to look like something other than a pot of paint flung at a canvas (yeah, don’t get me started). So, I sit on these pieces until one day my self confidence returns and I get to it. My worst critic (second only to myself), Stephanie, thus far approves (and since it is a portrait featuring her, that’s no easily made approval, whew).

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Even Io gets into the act. I know, I did say in a previous newsletter that I would stop paying to get into an exhibit, and I just did it. But I couldn’t resist this one, a rare call for realist work featuring pets. The Monmouth County museum sent out the call for their holiday show and, since I’m batting .500 with them (2 out of four entries submitted for previous shows accepted), I kicked in the $20 bucks and submitted this ...

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I think it’s a pretty good likeness, Io is not amused. We’ll see if it is accepted, stay tuned.

Still Recycling Used Rags

The portrait on the easel has already generated a number of ancillary works from the clean up rages used thus far. They are only 5x7 and I’ve started a tradition of naming them with quotes that invoke the image I see.

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The one on the left is titled “O for a horse with wings - William Shakespeare”. The one on the right is a bit longer, “If you lose touch with nature you lose touch with humanity. If there’s no relationship with nature then you become a killer; then you kill baby seals, whales, dolphins, and man. Then nature is frightened of you, withdrawing its beauty. - Jiddi Krishnamurti” Only asking $20 each. Interested?

I’m Open For Business With JCAST

Every year at this time Jersey City organizes JCAST, Jersey City Arts & Studios Tour. It’s a big event with hundreds of artists and dozens of venues. As I have done for the past two years, my studio will be open to the public. ALL ARE INVITED!

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In other News…

The cherry trees in the garden are gone, replaced by two Japanese lantern sculptures. They got a blight and the only solution offered by the experts was to remove them and not replace them. The disease is in the soil and can’t be eradicated. I enjoyed the intimacy they gave to the gazebo and, as such, will miss them. 

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So, I continue to be an avid commentator on the NYTs website and this month I broke my previous record for ‘recommend’s. Commenting on the Iran/Houti raid on the Saudis, I got 1,672 ‘recommends, which put me in the number two spot and it was also made a NYTs selection. I think the NYTs reviewers have flagged me as a good commentator, many of my comments are now posted immediately, within seconds of my hitting ‘submit.’ Cool! 

The resident squirrel (commonly referred to as ‘rats with bushy tails’) has discovered my tomatoes in the back garden. I caught him on the wall the other day chomping away at one and now I’m racing him to pick the ripe ones before he gets at them. Ah, the challenges of the urban garden. 

That’s all for now. Drop me a note if you like. I’d love to hear from you.

Everyone be well.

JIm

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What's on the Easel, September 2019

Added Feb 20, 2020

What’s On The Easel, September 2019, Vol. I, No. 6

A monthly newsletter from Jim Fischer

Procrastination (again)…

…Or, at least that’s what I thought when I started this edition. But, compiling a list of topics indicates otherwise (although not all art).

On the easel is the third of the series of ten paintings of Savannah, Georgia and, in a last minute situation, I received a call for art from the Monmouth County Museum’s holiday exhibit, “Pets.” So I decided to do an oil painting of Io in a somewhat compromising pose to submit for consideration.

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The two Savannah paintings that I finished this month have been scanned for prints (not that I have a clue what I will be doing with them).   

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A Friend Stops By 

So, I bought this high end printer a few months ago. Recently I invited my friend Lisa to come buy and scan some of her work. It was a good test run on making the equipment available to others. She was thrilled with the results. 

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Of course we then had dinner in the garden which is at it’s peak. 

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Our Own Little Woodstock, A Road Trip and An Annual Pilgrimage

I don’t know how you might feel but I found the media coverage of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock a bit over the top. I was reminded of a skit in a 1960s play, The Mad Show, where reporters are following a candidate at an event even into the men’s room where the last reporter announces, “And this is your reporter, John Doe, in the bowl”. Of course this is all sour grapes as I wasn’t there (my sleeping bag was and that’s another story). But my brother Rick was there and the NYTimes re-published a famous photo of the crowd with him right in the front. This time I was able to download it from their website and print a large 30” version for Rick to frame (this is a cropped version). 

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(A trick should you download any photos from the NYTimes site: The dpi will come up in photoshop as 92, not good for prints, but if you change the dpi to 300 it will hold up and be greatly improved).

Rick and I also took a road trip to visit the Martin Guitar factory. They have a very impressive operation. The tour of the factory is thorough and both it and the museum are interesting (I didn’t know Gene Audry played a Martin). They impressed us with numbers that I actually found problematic. The factory produces 200 instruments a day, about 40,000 a year, with each selling for $3,500. It was definitely a factory operation, not custom in any way and that bothered me (although one section specialized in custom decoration, for a price, of course).

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And, finally, we did our annual trip to visit the family in Iowa where the big event was the return of our niece, Cody, from two years with the Peace Corp in Africa. There, but for fortune, would go you or I. A very brave young lady. This is a picture of Slater, the town where Steph was raised. I believe it’s population hovers somewhere around 1,000.  

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That’s all for now.  

Everyone be well.

Jim

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What’s On The Easel August 2019, Vol. I, No. 5

Added Aug 17, 2019

Procrastination…

I don’t know about other artists but I am subject to regular bouts of procrastination, I will go for a couple of months doing no art (and roaming around the house looking for anything but art to do). Then, one day I snap out of it and get going again. Well, after kicking around for the past three months, I am back at it. My art studio is divided into four areas: An easel for oil painting, a drawing/light board for colored pencil, another board for watercolor and a printer/scanner station. All four are back in action…

On the easel is a large portrait of Stephanie and Natalie (on the edge of a cliff overlooking Big Sur. 

On the drawing/light board is the first of eight citiscapes of Savannah, Georgia.

On the watercolor station are three small paintings of judges at an Irish festival upstate New York.

And the printer has been putting out complete box sets, of Whistler’s Venice and Forty-eight Views of Brownstone Brooklyn.

A Plethora of Art Calls… 

…no less than four this month and three of them had no entry fee (yes!). For the Monmouth County Museum I entered Niagara Falls in Winter: American Falls, a large montage photo (5 feet long), for Village West (a gallery in downtown Jersey City) I entered the box set of Forty-eight Views of Brownstone Brooklyn, for ProArts’ gallery during JCAST (Jersey City’s open studios weekend, October 3 - 6) I entered 4th of July/George Washington Bridge and for ProArts’ cookbook project I entered a recipe for “the perfect hamburger” accompanied by appropriate art(?), The Perfect Hamburger. So, any bets on which pieces get accepted?

 

In Other News…

So, my knee is slowly getting better. On the upside, I did get to gather up a nice collection of canes. The smaller red one is made of bloodroot wood from Africa, the light oak one is from London (nicely done with an ergonomic handle with a substantial hook to it for hanging) and a handcrafted cane from Turkey.


That’s all for now. Drop me a note if you like. I’d love to hear from you.

 

Everyone be well.

 

Jim

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What’s On The Easel, July 2019, Vol. I, No. 4, A monthly newsletter from Jim Fischer

Added Jun 29, 2019

What’s On The Easel, July 2019, Vol. I, No. 4, A monthly newsletter from Jim Fischer

There’s more to art…

 …than paint on canvas and this past month for me has seen little time in the studio. I have been focused on finishing the design of the back garden and in the words of a famous man, “It is finished.”

 


This is the fourth formal garden I have design and developed. The raised beds have 15 different herbs, a very nicely grown garlic patch, five varieties of peppers, tomatoes (of course) and four different lettuces. We are calling it the Buddha Garden. And, of course, Cafe Fischer is open for visitors. 

House renovations as wel

Another agenda keeping me from the studio has been a number of major projects around the house that included painting several rooms (not by me, I’m out of that business this late in life but I did do the gold decorations ala Whistler’s Peacock Room in the dining room):

 

Also, work was done re-pointing the brick work on the entire outside of the house (again, contractors, you ain’t gettin’ me up those 30 foot ladders), replacing the deck in the back garden (almost broke my neck on the old one when one of the feet of the chair I was on fell through), a new, chef quality stove and various furnishing projects the most interesting of which was making a replica of a Frank Lloyd Wright lamp for the living room (got the plans online):

 

 

And, the Whistler’s Venice pastels have found a new home in our guest room…

  

Most every day I take some time in the late afternoon to listen to some music in this room. The pastels make for a very pleasant background. You are welcome to come visit us and see for yourself.

 A New Website Host

 This month I also completed the transfer of my website to a new, much improved carrier, Art Majeur. They are, obviously, out of France and, after exploring numerous sites for artists to archive and display their work, they have what I regard as the best set up. My website address remains www.theartistjimfischer.com. Take a look (and, if you are an artist, consider their services, I believe you will be impressed).

 In Other News…

To make all of the above work more difficult, I blew out my right knee as a result of the foot injury I suffered earlier in the year and have been hobbling around first on crutches and now with a cane. It’s getting better each day, the pain (and, ouch, this was painful) has subsided and I am able to climb the stairs again (when this happened Steph dubbed it The Steinbok Curse, Alan will understand). I did get to buy some neat canes (waiting on one from Turkey). 

I am an avid reader of The New York Times online. I read during my morning coffee and at lunch. I also comment on a regular basis (and I know many of you are not surprised). Well, it appears I have been flagged by the Times comment moderators as my comments are now being immediately approved and I reached a milestone with a recent post. I made a comment on an article on Ernie Pyle and D-Day celebrations. It became the #1 reader’s pick with 517 likes and a Times selection. Here’s what I wrote:

“My father never talked about his service in the war until one day, knowing he had been at D-day and having just seen 'Saving Private Ryan' I cornered him. It was during a holiday visit late at night, everyone else had gone to bed. "So," I said way to flippantly, "Was it really that bad." For the next hour I found out it was. My father drove a landing craft of Rangers in the lead part of the first wave. He watched the twenty odd men in his craft be slaughtered as they hit the water, saving his own life by hunkering down behind a thick steel plate, trying to obey his orders to "Bring this boat back at all costs". He did this three times in the first six hours of the invasion. Each time returning with a boat full of blood and body parts that he cleaned out by opening the gate on the return and letting the sea to the job. We believe now he suffered from PTSD for the rest of his life. He drank too much and would often be found sitting in the kitchen late at night, in the dark with only the light of a cigarette. I told his story a few years ago to a group of friends, some the children of survivors of the Holocaust. When I finished a friend (Alan) told me, "Thank you. I never met anyone who's father actually fought in such an important action in WWII." My father's story is a sadness that comes over me from time to time. We did not get along (Vietnam, and all that). Now I better understand.”

That’s all for now. Drop me a note if you like. I’d love to hear from you.

 Everyone be well.

 

Jim

 

Jim Fischer, 530 Liberty Avenue, Jersey City, NJ, 07307

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What’s On The Easel, June 2019, Vol. I, No. 3, A monthly newsletter from Jim Fischer

Added May 30, 2019

It’s a scam…

So, Jersey City recently had it’s first major gallery/artist show called 14C in the Hilton downtown  (Why 14C? Got me) and a ‘call for artists’ was sent out for a general exhibition in the hotel’s ballroom. After paying $40 and submitting three works some weeks later I received an email proudly announcing, “We received over 200 submissions” and declaring that 29 pieces had been accepted for the ballroom exhibition. So, do the math. They made $8,000 out of the box from mostly losers. On top of that, they would get a 40% commission for any sales (not that anything that made the cut was worth buying). 

And then there was the ‘call for art’ I got from a curator putting together a show in a small gallery in some town in North Jersey. The call was for small pieces (10 x10 inch max) and, wow, there was no entry fee. Ah, but there was a ‘hanging fee’ of $25 for accepted pieces and a 40% commission for the curator on sales. So, I estimate this ‘curator’ could squeeze in 200 pieces into the space, $5,000 in ‘hanging fees.” A nice haul for putting nails in walls.

So, there’s money to be made from them-thar desperate artists and now I, for one, am taking the advice of a reputable gallery owner and never again paying a fee to get into an exhibition. It’s a scam. 

The wrong work

 

Here we go again. While my serious realist works continue to be ignored, this piece, a rainy afternoon's amusement, another joke now gathering dust in the gallery (needs a cleaning) is selected and featured in an upcoming exhibit. I give up! I am not a sculptor! It's what I call 'junk art.’

 

 

 

The title I used for the entry is 'Dancing With Matisse', but it's real name is 'The Creation: Heaven and Earth' and it's part of a series of pieces based on the creation story in Genesis that also includes 'The Creation: Eve,' ‘The Creation: Light,’ ‘The Creation: Adam’ (in the works) and ‘The Creation: Day and Night/Flora and Fauna (in the works as well). They want garbage, I can do that:

 


So, was there anything on the easel?

 

Not really. This is the time of the year when I need to be outside working on the gardens (pictures to come in future newsletters).

 

In other news…

 

They call it a ‘bucket list’ and some people just want to see Paris, others want to climb up to Machu Picchu. Now, I don’t like to call it a ‘bucket list’ but I did have one thing I always wanted to do. Since the 1970s I have been a Wagnerian, one of those who enjoys the works of Richard Wagner, and for us kind of people nothing can top seeing a live performance of his Ring Cycle, The Rings of the Neubeling. And I did just that this month at the Metropolitan Opera. Four operas, 20+ hours over six days. Stunning, just stunning (although there were spots where you felt, ‘Come on, Wagner, move it along’). Alan, you haven’t heard The Ride of The Valkyries until you see the live performance, ten minutes that leave you in awe. Would I do it again? Actually, no. It was great but it was gruelling, so, once is enough.

 


That’s all for now. Drop me a note if you like. I’d love to hear from you.

 Everyone be well.

 Jim

 

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What’s On The Easel, May 2019, Vol. I, No. 2, A monthly newsletter from Jim Fischer

Added May 30, 2019

A note from Jim: A month has passed since my first newsletter. I started the month wondering if I would have anything to put into the next one and I started keeping a list. I stopped when it reached eight items in just one week. But this is a newsletter, not a book and, as such, I will limit my self to two or three items so as not to bore you, my reader.

So, what is on the easel? 

This is the story of a painting that goes to the heart of what art is, and isn’t, today (a favorite topic when I get together with fellow artists). When I do a painting I usually put much more paint on the palette than I will need. At the end of a session, when I no longer need those colors, I usually scrape them off and throw the pile of gook away. A couple weeks ago I decided to have some fun with the mess. I took a piece of scrap photo paper and, with a palette knife, randomly scraped the paints across the surface. The result was a small (8 x 10 inches) piece of something.  

 

 

 

But, what? I decided it looked like a WWI battle field and I called it ‘No Man’s Land’ It’s official title is a quote from a soldier’s letter home: “No-man’s land under snow is like the face of the moon: Chaotic, crater ridden, uninhabitable, awful, the abode of madness.” This seemed to give the work, a random mess, some context. You do see the snow, right?

Now I belong to an artist’s site where I post my work, Art Mejeur (artmejeur.com) and I put this one up. Low and behold, the editors of the site chose the piece as one of their weekly picks putting it on the home page. Most of my works rack up a couple hundred views and it takes at least 3 months for that. This piece, with it’s special placement, racked up 23,000 views in just two weeks! What do you know, a complete goof is being hailed as a masterpiece. Still, no one has stepped up to buy it. That’s what selling art today is like, a lot of lookers, no takers.

 A Tale of Two Townhouses

 With the closing of my Whistler exhibit (for which I suspended everything else in my life for five months) I have finally been able to get around to many things needing attention around the house (no art, after 60 pastels in 4 months I’m painted out for now). One of those ‘things’ was getting contractors to do some much needed painting. In keeping with our restoration of the place to 1910 condition, I had them paint the cornices in front deep, forest green. We are very happy with the results. Our efforts must have spurred a neighbor with an identical townhouse to do some painting as well. The results are, well, somewhat different than our efforts. All I can say is to let the pictures speak for themselves (oh, but what a travesty to paint over the beautiful yellow-with-iron-flecks original brick). Whatever.

 

 

 

In other news…

 I opened a YouTube account where you can view:

 Whistler’s Venice gallery: https://youtu.be/ZvHyNrhjejU

How I did a pastel reproduction: https://youtu.be/h_DaN9r9ZhQ

And a surprise original composition: https://youtu.be/-pl3Ru9qmn4 

April is the month I work in the gardens getting ready for summer. Yaaaaaay, summer! 

 

That’s all for now. Drop me a note if you like. I’d love to hear from you.

 Everyone be well.

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