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Posts Tagged ‘figurative painting’

I am going to publish a story about each painting that means a lot to me. Self-Portrait in the Red Turban is probably number one in this category.

Self-Portrait in a Red Turban

Self-Portrait in the Red Turban

I always wanted to be an artist.  My grandmother gave me a book from which I taught myself to draw when I was five.  Then at the age of thirteen I enrolled in a four-year course of study at an Art School which held classes after the regular secondary school day ended.  There is a great system of art and music schools that still exists in Russia.  After the end of my regular school I would run to my second – art – school every day to study art history, painting, drawing, sculpture and composition.  I was unaware that in the rest of the world Abstract Expressionism was the mainstream. In my world the mainstream was Rembrandt, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, all the “Old Masters”.

I can say that I had a classical training in art.  The “Old Masters” were considered to be “gods of the past”, however, the present day “masters” had to create in the style of “social realism” to be approved by the ruling Communist Party. That was not too exciting. In addition, one day someone said to me that “there had never been any great women artists”.

At first, I tried to argue but I had no facts to prove the opposite.  During that time in Russia no one knew about Artemisia Gentileschi, Georgia O’Keefe, or Lee Miller.  In the meanwhile Linda Nochlin’s 1971 article, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”was published in the United States.  It is ironic that the same words that empowered women artists in the United States made me give up my dream of becoming an artist in the USSR. As I observed that all “great artists” of both present and the past were men, especially those who chose to join the Communist Party, I also heard negative remarks about “women’s art” which was often considered unimportant and limited to flowers and such. That was very discouraging for me as a young person and the desire to become a professional artist was suppressed by the time to apply to college.

Drawing always remained my way to express my emotions and feelings.  I drew to express myself and it made my life more bearable.  But I gave up on the idea of becoming a “professional” artist because I did not want to be a mediocre artist.  Mediocrity as an artist seemed to be predetermined just by the fact that I was a female.  I became a “shadow artist”.

I learned the term “shadow artist” much later, while living in the US and reading Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way.  “Shadow Artist”, according to Cameron, is a person whose “inner artist” or “artist within” was suppressed for a number of reasons. Such people do not believe they can be “real artists”.  They love art, try to be around artists, sometimes they become models, muses, or supporters of artists.  Sometimes they marry artists. Cameron did not go so far in her book as to state that being a “shadow artist” is much more typical for women than for men, but that seems to be the case.

When I moved to the US in 2001 my life changed. I was greatly encouraged and supported by my loving husband and started becoming a “professional artist”, getting my degree in art, coming out of a “shadow”. The more I learned about female artists the more interested I became in “women issues” in art. One of my favorite artists, Katherine Ace, once said that as a woman she should be careful about what she chooses to paint.  She said: “painting flowers is politically dangerous for a female artist, playing right into cultural stereotypes. It sets you up to be dismissed“.  But she painted flowers anyway, as well as other subjects.

Self-representation, like painting flowers, risks being stereotyped as “feminine.”  Many of my works are based on some form of self-representation.  Even if use models, I still often identify myself with the models, their life stories and feelings. I believe, that engaging with self-representation places me within the mainstream of contemporary female artists who took themselves as subjects.

In her study of female surrealist artists W. Chadwick characterized them with: “the affinity for the structures of fabulist narrative, and a tendency towards the phantasmic and oneiric.” Other qualities shared by female surrealist artists, according to Chadwick, include embrace of doubling, masking, and masquerade as defenses against fears of non-identity. Chadwick pointed out the following representational strategies that continue to resonate in the works of female surrealists:

  • Self as Other;
  • Self as Body;
  • Self as Masquerade or Absence.

Many women adopted practices of “self-othering” – identifying with moments prior to historical time and/or outside the civilized cultural spaces identified with patriarchy.  Chadwick sees these categories as broad frames “within which it is possible to enact dialogs between contemporary women artists and Surrealism.” You can see fabulist narrative, phantasmic and oneiric qualities in some of my work. One example is identifying myself with Van Eyck in Self-Portrait in the Red Turban.

I represent myself in this painting as “Other” and as a male.  This is my way of reflecting on my role as a woman artist in contemporary art world which still treats women artists differently than male.

The crows included in this work are connected with my childhood memories and experience with my mother’s pet crow. It combines my feelings of bitterness of rejection. Once at the age 4 while being rejected by a crow (see the full story in this post), and then again, at the age 14 being rejected by the Art World when I was told “there had never been great women artists.”  The images of the crows in this work symbolize great artists whom I admired and wanted to belong to their world but was not allowed. This work is a statement that I do belong to the Art World.  I state this by wearing Van Eyck’s famous red turban and the coat with crow’s feathers.  This connects me to the Art World as well as to the Crows’ World.

This painting is very important to me, so when it was sold after my MFA thesis show, I felt that I had to make another one. That is why there are two version of it:

2011   DSCN1479

and 2013:

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I will be going to Long Pose Figure Study sessions in Raleigh, NC. Below is the info. You can attend 4 sessions for $48.

I will be going there on March 23, April 6, 20 and 27. You can join me on these dates if you want to share the ride. Or feel free to go on any of the dates below in your own car.

Long Pose Figure Study

Saturdays, March 16, 23, April 6, 13, 20, & 27 10:30am-1:30pm

Price for four sessions: $48 general / $40 members, students (ages 18 and up), and educators Drop-In Sessions: $16 general / $14 members, students (ages 18 and up), and educatorsEric

Long Pose Figure Study is a non-instructional session geared towards artists who want to work on one extended pose. It enables artists working in wet or dry media the opportunity to complete a figurative work.

At the first session attended, participants will receive a punch card good for four visits (participants choose four of the six Saturdays). Registered participants can elect to attend the additional two sessions at the rate of $12 per session/$10 for members, students (ages 18 and up), and educators. Non-registered participants will pay the drop-in rate of $16 per session/$14 for members, students (ages 18 and up), and educators. Students and educators must present ID.

Participants are required to bring their own supplies. Easels will be available for use.

A minimum of 10 pre-registered participants is required for the program to take place. To register please call 919.821.2787.

http://artspacenc.org/create/adult/figure-study/

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I was going to publish more stories about my paintings and then a friend asked “Why the crow?” So I will start from this one.

In the Room With Memories

In the Room With Memories. Oil and collage on canvas. 48×36.

The crow in the painting “In a Room With Memories”  is a memory from my childhood.  My mother had a pet crow.  The crow just came into the open window one day and stayed to live with us. My mother named her “Vichka” (short for Viktoria). She loved my mother and hated me, probably out of jealousy,  and tried to bite me if I came too close.  I was only 4 years old, I was scared, but fascinated with the crow and was trying to gain her trust.  In doing so, I learned to speak like a crow, but that just seemed to annoy her more.  In this painting I am finally becoming friends with the crow and making peace with my childhood memories.

The image of the crow is also appearing in “Self-Portrait in the Red Turban”. I thought about how the feeling of me being rejected by the crow in my childhood is similar to the feeling of being rejected by the art world. I felt rejected when I heard from someone at about the age 14: “There had never been great women artists.”  At first I tried to argue but I had no facts to prove the opposite.  During the 1970s in the Soviet Union no one knew about Artemisia Gentileschi,  Georgia O’Keefe, or Lee Miller.  It was obvious that all “great artists” of both present and the past were men, especially those who chose to join the Communist Party.  I heard negative remarks about “women’s art” which was often considered unimportant and limited to flowers and such.  At the same time in the United States Linda Nochlin’s 1971 article, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” was published.  It is ironic that the same words that empowered women artists in the United States made me give up my dream of becoming an artist in the USSR.

Self-Portrait in a Red Turban

Self-Portrait in a Red Turban. Oil on canvas and paper. Artist-made frame. 

The image of the crows in this work represents great artists whom I admired and wanted to belong but was rejected.  Just like being rejected by the crow in my childhood with whom I wanted to be friends.  There is a statement in this work that I do belong to the art world.  I state this by representing myself in Van Eyck’s famous red turban and by painting crow feathers on my coat.  This connects me to the art world as well as to the crows’ world.

 

 

 

One of the crows. Oil on gessoed watercolor paper

crow

 

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OK! While I really should be in my studio, painting, I will spend a little more time in a virtual world, boasting about myself. Actually, about having a great friend, a poet, Tom Kirby-Smith who wrote a great poem about my art for my book:

MAGIC CASEMENTS
“ . . . magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn”
–Keats

Alla Parsons’ paintings speak to me
As in the song, “Do you see what I see?”Window
Her gaze transfigures all that she beholds—
Clouds, faces, trees—the sunlight that enfolds
Those creeping wavelets, distant church’s spire—
Bare-breasted angels on bright wings aspire–
A croissant on a plate, a pot of tea,
Two smiling women—suffused with mystery—
As Jane Ann wrote me, “haunting, mystical”–
All Alla! But not one bit egotistical.
“Come to the window; sweet is the night air,”
Said Matthew Arnold to his lover there
Above the Dover cliffs. Let Alla call us
(What happier invitation could befall us!)
To share the windows of her soul, and see
Within those magic frames the mystery
Transforming common things until they seem
“The glory and the freshness of a dream”
As yet another poet wrote. Open this book,
There’s nothing else to say. Just, simply, “Look!”

Tom Kirby-Smith

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Window

Window

Magic Realism: Paintings and Drawings by Alla Parsons
You are cordially invited to the Artist Reception
3:00 – 5:00 PM – Sunday, February 10 at

Robert F. Cage Gallery in Prizery

700 Bruce Street, South Boston, Virginia 24592
Preview Artist Work at

www.allaparsons.com

Like her page on Facebook!

Exhibition will run February-March, 2013

The reception is free and open to the public.

Alla holds MFA in Painting and teaches Art Classes at Danville Museum of Fine Art and History. Contact the Museum for more information.

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After a long period of travel abroad we moved to Virginia just in time to meet the New 2012 Year…

March  – “Between Reality and Imagination”” – solo show at the Gourmet Frog

June – “7 Visions”” – group show with 6 other local artists who invited me to participate in a group critique on a monthly basis

July – “Figuratively Speaking” solo show of figurative works at the Artery Gallery in Greensboro, NC

August – work was accepted into the prestigious “Virginia Artists” juried show in Hampton, VA

September – Tunisia Art Festival – an artist residency with artists from 18 different countries in Monastir, Tunisia

November – awarded an Honorable mention at Danville Art League juried show

December – work was accepted and sold at the prestigious “Winter Show” in Green Hill Center, Greensboro, NC

Work accepted for publication in Vienna, Austria – Catalog of Fantastic Realism

Two solo shows scheduled: one for 2013 in South Boston, VA and another for 2014 at the Museum of Fine Art and History in Danville, VA

I guess it was a good year!

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April 13 – April 28, 2012

 Alla Parsons Art Exhibition

Reception: April 21, 7-9PM

with the Artist Talk at 8 pm.

Between Reality and Imagination

at Gourmet Frog Art Gallery:  312 Main St., Danville, VA 24541

 

Kristina's World. Oil painting on canvas. 60x48. 2010.

      Alla Parsons is originally from Russia where she received her basic art training. In the United States she continued her art studies at the university level and earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Painting from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Georgia Southern University. Her style can be described as Magic Realism – art in which some mystery or a secret seems to be hidden within the subject matter.  Juxtapositions of sharply rendered and detailed elements, both in the foreground and background, are used to develop an air of mystery or ambiguity.  Alla says: “My paintings are about the mystery of our everyday life”. She emphasizes the objects of everyday life in new and unfamiliar ways.  She explores her physical, psychological and spiritual self as well as memories, family history and Russian heritage through her work. One can see her being influenced by Symbolism, Surrealism and Russian Icons.  In her work you can also see reflections on growing up in Russia, studying the works of the Old Masters in the Hermitage, and in the largest museums in Europe.

 The Artists Reception is on April 21, from 7 to 9 pm
with the Artist Talk at 8 pm.

Visit artist’s website to see examples of her work:  http://www.allaparsons.com/

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Window

Window

I realized at some point that I always included mirrors and windows in many of my images. I am looking for symbolical meaning of mirrors and windows and trying to understand what it means for me.

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2.5 hour painting

2.5 hour painting

30 minutes sketch
30 minutes sketch

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