Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Newton Open Studios 2018 - Art In the Villa

Cielo e Mare, Sea and Sky (Giardini Naxos, Sicily) iol painting by Marian Dioguardi c 2018
Two Days Only - April 7th and 8th from 11-5 PM

Join us for this very special annual event in a historic stone home in West Newton affectionately nicknamed "The Villa". The grounds are inspired from Italian gardens and surround the Arts and Crafts renovation of a Gothic stone carriage house. Now a private home, the doors open once a year, welcoming visitors, to view throughout the first floor my paintings and the paintings of Will Kirkpatrick, Gene Mackles, Geoff Austrian, the glass sculptures of Sidney Hutter and the bottle cap jewelry of Daisy Hutter. Light refreshments will be served.

The Villa, West Newton
This is the favorite stop  along the tour of the other Newton (Garden City) artists and art centers. Easy driving and parking. It's a pleasure to see the art in a home as it was meant to be seen. Enjoy the full weekend.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

My Head In the Clouds (Still Life vs Landscape)

She is Wild as She is Beautiful, oil painting, Sicily by Marian Dioguardi c2018

If you are familiar with my work over the last 17 years you think of me as a still life painter. What you don't know is that I always wanted to paint like J.M.W. Turner, the wild British landscape painter. However soon  realized as in learning to paint is that no matter what you paint there you are. So for these past years objects captured my interest: fruit and vegetables, laundry lines, cups and dish ware, buoys. Allowing my hands to always follow my heart I never knew where they would take me.

Painting still life with pallet knife allows me to make clear distinct decisions about color, shape and form. As one of my teachers, Barney Rubenstien, told me "You are a god in a still life because you have full control". That appealed to me. I spent my student years and professional years developing my painting all within the still life genre. Now and then I'd do a plain air landscape because it was good painting practice. It was so different putting those practices into the still life.

I continue to rely on my trusty pallet knife but in moments of desperation I resort to using rags, brushes and my fingers. How do I get a soft edge with a pallet knife?! I try this. I try that. I'll try anything!

The landscape world, where I'm not a god, is wild and beautiful, ever changing and challenging. Where I have clear images of what my still lifes painting are; now I have only shifting and searching feelings about the beauty and the wildness of the sky and land. So like the changing light and clouds every painting I am doing is different, shifting and out of my control. The one constant that remains is that it's a challenge.

The Clouds Are Alive,  oil painting, Sicily by Marian Dioguardi c2018

Friday, February 23, 2018

Unsettled - My painting metaphor

Breaking by Marian Dioguardi c2018 (Top oil painting. Bottom my reference photo)

Who among us doesn't feel unsettled in a world where Up is Down and Down is Up? In a year of upheaval one would think the logical thing would be to sit tight and stay the course. That's not what I do: I investigate, I observe, I learn, I feel, I change. 

"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance"-Alan Watts

In December of 2017 I changed studios in Boston, joining Studio 306, 450 Harrison Ave, with two talented women; the jeweler, Deborah McFail and the weaver, Mary Mandarino. I needed to get away from the group think of painters and take a long deep breath of fresh air. I also needed to take a journey.

I traveled to Sicily. Sicily, home to the most active volcano in the world, Mount Etna, constantly birthing earth and gifting this crib of ancient culture with fertility.  I found the moment to moment changes of the unsettled skies a beautiful counterpoint to this ancient earth both ever changing but at very different rates. The changes reached my soul. 

One one day through the Alcantara Valley there were five different rainbows, at different times.

For 2018 I am working on a series of paintings exploring the unsettled skies over Sicily. Not comfortable or fluent in landscape painting, I am struggling and learning as I move along. I'm not sure where this series of paintings will take me but I know that I am going.

Here, I am using photo references, a practice to which I am not accustomed because I prefer to paint from life. However along with learning to handle greens, blues and neutrals, I am also learning to take the moment of feeling and awe and reinsert it back into the painting. The painting  will not be a recording of what I saw but it's a reflection on how I felt in that moment of time and space; free, a little wild and very unsettled.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Opinion: Michelle Obama Portrait

Detail from Amy Sherald's Michelle Obama, 2018
Detail from Quora.com image of Michelle Obama
First of all if you are not acquainted with  Amy Sherald's portraits; do your self a favor and visit her website.

So the Michelle portrait: do you love it or hate it or fall in between? I am in between but as I admire Michelle Obama as a person, I also admire Sherald's portrait of Michelle Obama. 

Sherald's portraits and figure are wonderfully imagined lifescapes. Faces rendered with  photo realistic monochromatic sensitivity placed in the context of  beautiful colors, clothing and props. The subject is never named. However titles are given about each person's being. The title serves to question (HangMan), describe  (The Boy With No Past) or make observatons ( What's different About Alice Is that She has the most incisive Way of Telling the Truth). The images are at times comforting and at times subtlety disturbing. However they are always colorful, wonderful and engaging.

 Michell Obama's portrait is all that but also a departure for Sherald. While her subjects, to date, have been anonymous  Michell Obama is iconic. So apart from the masterful composition, the symbolic dress and the seated posture we can't help but look at her facial features. 

As a painter who uses and loves bold colors the choice of the Wedgewood like neutral blue feels too cool in which to place the monochromatic face. So be it. It's not my choice (I'd go yellow).It's not awful, not great..in between. 

While the figure captures everything Michelle, her facial features are not recognizable to me as "Michelle". The features were minimized. Eyes too far apart, distance between the bottom lip and the chin too far and eyebrows shrunk. Gone are the big eyes, lips and beautifully strong nose. The hairline/forhead has been softened into and oval, where it is more familiar as angular. She is barley recognizable as the Michelle Obama we recognize.

They say every painter paints themselves into a portrait and perhaps that is the case here. I wish Sherald would have taken another pass at the eyes. Alas, even if the portrait is not quite Michelle, like all great portraits through time, Michelle will be the portrait.