Monthly Archives: February, 2020

Letters And They Still Say Fish is Expensive! 1894
oil on canvas 
151.5 x 204 cm
by Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923)

We each have unique social styles and levels of tolerance for visitors to our creative sanctuaries, but after watching my dad do it for forty years, I’ve picked up a few techniques that I continue to use. Whether it’s a gallery, curator, collector, a sprawling group or a single soul, you can manage their impact on your creative happiness. A sensitive, well-planned visit can carry the potential for creative enrichment and could advance your practice, even your dreams. Here are a few ideas:

Letters Forsythia, April, 1976
oil on Masonite 
16 x 17 3/4 inches
by Lois Dodd (b.1927)

Last Sunday I gave an artist’s talk. There was standing room only in the small museum where my retrospective exhibition is being held. Some people had to stand out in the hall where they couldn’t hear, so I’m giving it a repeat this coming Sunday.

I’ve tried to figure out the usefulness of the talk convention, and what others might be getting out of it. Most who attended were artists, but there were quite a few collectors as well. I kept my talk to one hour — including spirited audience interaction

Letters Buried Undergrowth
by Hadia Hassan

Hadia Hassan, a fourth-year honours visual art and anthropology student at York University in Toronto, is working on a research study of online communities. As an artist herself, Hadia is especially interested in how artists use the Internet to further their art practices, connect online and even shape their creative lives. The Painter’s Keys, she says, is interesting because of its many long-time artist, student, curator, collector, dealer and educator subscribers and The Letters’ 21 years of evolution.

Letters Watercolour detail
by Pamela Haddock

This morning Pamela Haddock of Sylva, NC, wrote, “Our art association is in a quandary. One of the requirements of our well-attended and successful group shows is that all work has to be original, with no reproductions. We make an exception for photographers. Now some of our painting members want to keep and enjoy their own originals and are busy making giclees. They want to show and sell them. Some club members don’t want this. I can’t see what the fuss is about — it seems they’re reproductions just like photos. What do you think about having prints among our originals?”

Letters Music, Pink and Blue II, 1918
oil on canvas
35 × 29 inches
by Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)

When I was 12, I had two art teachers — Jenny, a sculptor and ceramicist, and Carolynn, a printmaker. When Jenny emailed this week, I wrote back with a question: “Do the Great Teachers know the depth of their impact and all the crystalline memories and indelible moments of encouragement and example they imprint?” She replied with photos of a painting I had given her at my graduation, with a love letter written on the back that read, “Thanks for pushing.”

Letters Migration of the Ladybugs, 2009
oil and alcohol-based marker on paper
80 x 110 cms
by Tiffany Chung (b.1969)

“What a bitter struggle is waged between talent and fate,” wrote Nguyen Du, author of The Tale of Kieu, the most revered saga in Vietnamese literature. So important is the 3,254-verse epic poem that most children in Vietnam know much of it by heart. Written in 1820, it’s the story of a young girl whose beauty is her principal talent but who suffers one miserable setback after the other. Finally, she is forced to sell herself. The Vietnamese take the story to be a metaphor for their country — beautiful but doomed. “When one is endowed with talent,” goes the moral, “one cannot depend on it.”

Letters Storm Over the Serpentine, Nicomeckl Estuary, 2013
acrylic on canvas
11 x 14 inches
by Robert Genn

A subscriber wrote, “I have recently been given an assignment by a mentor to paint, without restraint, 20 or so small abstract pieces that express the emotions of an illness I have been managing for years. I find myself stuck, stuck, choked with fear…emotion. I find myself not knowing how to visualize, begin to ‘show,’ express emotion. Usually it seems that feeling or emotion just shows up. To invite, command the same has me stuck. Does one just begin?”


A few minutes ago I was watching a young couple staring at a huge abstract painting in a commercial art gallery. The painting was mysterious, dark, tentative — with perhaps, only perhaps, the whisper of a female figure. Previously, when I’d daringly checked out its very high price, a gallerista swept by and assured me, “We sell a lot of this man’s work.”