En plein air (French pronunciation: [ɑ̃ plɛn ɛːʁ], French for outdoors, or plein air painting) is the act of painting outdoors. Artists have always painted outdoors, but in the mid-19th century, working in natural light became particularly important to the Barbizon school, Hudson River School, and Impressionists. Painting en plein air became very popular in the 1840s with the introduction of paints in tubes. Previously, painters made their own paints by grinding and mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil. I love being outdoors, so for me it is natural. I have painted in a canoe, on the top of mountains, on sand dunes, from balconies of castles, in forests, in deserts, on beaches and in gardens. I am almost always happy when I'm painting outdoors. I have learned what to bring–the minimum so I'm not carrying a heavy pack–but am always prepared for black flies, intense sun, rain, mosquitoes, ants and everything else that goes hand in hand with being away from civilization! This painting is titled "Wellfleet Secret Meditation Garden" Watercolor, 2017
We are always presented with a surprise gift on our annual Summer Fun Day. Summer Fun Day is a great day for us-and full of surprises. We start out with a strategy session for NeigerDesign. Presentations are developed by every member of the team. Then we go and have fun! We explore Chicago-with a different theme every year. This year's theme was immigration and Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods. This year's surprise? While walking in Pilsen (after a fantastic experience at the National Museum of Mexican Art), we came upon a group of students of Solorio High School creating a beautiful mosaic mural for the J-DEF Peace Project. The J-DEF Peace Project mission is to end violence among young adults in Chicago. "We aim to accomplish our mission by creating a safe place to encourage and create art-based curriculum for underserved youth in Chicago. Using various artistic methods we promote wellness in the kids of our communities, our programming focuses on peaceful conflict resolution that creates positive impacts." The project honors the memory of Jeff Abbey Maldonado, Jr., known as J-Def by friends, was a passionate young man with a love of all things art. He was a hip-hop artist who dedicated his time to his craft and to others. An avid member of After School Matters, J-Def wanted nothing more than to succeed in life and be noticed as an artist. He was passionate for music and would showcase his artistic abilities through graffiti. J-Def was tragically shot a day after his nineteenth birthday in a case of mistaken identity. Learn more about the J-Def Project. We all need to get involved in doing something about Chicago's gang problems. http://www.jdefpeaceproject.org/programs/
I am participating in DIALOGUE-CHICAGO-a Studio Interdisciplinary Critique/Seminar led by artist/educator Sarah Krepp. Artists from a variety of disciplines—including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, installation, performance, and mixed media—come together to discuss the expansive possibilities of our work. Through group critiques, field trips, lectures, and artist studio visits, artists acquire knowledge, skills and methods of developing our work and transforming our ideas. Some of the NeigerDesign team recently visited ARC Gallery to see the current exhibit where Ruti Modlin, (one of my fellow Dialoguers) has an exhibition called ROUND THE BLOCK: Prints and Paintings. Gallery Hours: http://www.arcgallery.org/ Thursday – Saturday: 12 – 6 pm Sunday: 12 – 4 pm
Field Work III features the work of over 25 emerging Chicago artists that are in some way connected to the Field Museum. Selected works explore themes related to natural history and the diverse breadth of scientific research that happens behind the scenes and in the collections at the museum.
The first weekend of March was eventful for Lillstreet Art Center. They had two exhibition openings as well as a relaunch party for their event space, Lillstreet Loft. Being a big fan of Lillstreet, I attended all of them! I particularly liked the annex exhibition, "Flourish," because it showcases the ceramics of Lillstreet faculty and I always find it especially fun to see what the instructors are up to, and because they used a lovely variety of flowers to show off the different pieces. The exhibition is up until April 9th, along with the main exhibition, "Sculpture | Shaping Ideas," and I recommend visiting, especially during times when the adjacent (and very delicious) First Slice Cafe is open.
You may have read about the Month of Letters Challenge that I participate in annually, but I don't always want to write a full letter. Over the weekend I discovered that watercolor paper makes for a great DIY postcard! I did some painting and then cut down the paper to a more postcard-like size and proceeded as usual. USPS has surprisingly view requirements when it comes to postcards.
To pay the postcard rate, they must be:
At least 3-1/2 inches high x 5 inches long x 0.007 inch thick (as a guide, an index card is thick enough)
No more than 4-1/4 inches high x 6 inches long x 0.016 inches thick
The process of creating art involves technical skill, inspiration, and lots of hard work. I participated in the Open Studio on December 18, where people could visit and see the creative process in action with members of the inaugural Chicago cohort of the Midwest Jewish Artists Lab. I worked on two paintings in progress and other artists demonstrated weaving, woodblock printing, and other art forms. It was one of the coldest days of the year but we still had a group of loyal art enthusiasts show up!
For the Association Forum Holiday Showcase conference we brought a custom-made display that was as fun to put together as it looks. Each of the squares has vibrantly printed images or words on both sides and are slotted to fit together just like the original Charles and Ray Eames “House of Cards” from the 1950s.
Today we are refreshing our mark-making skills in the last bespoke books session of the year. It's a great time to remember the techniques we learned years ago and utilize them in our sketchbooks for the sketchbook project! This is a detail from Carol's book that was brought to life through stippling.
This year's holiday cards were especially fun to design. Inspired by my trip to visit Iggesund this fall, I knew it would have to be a pop up! We hope everyone takes the chance to relax and spend some time coloring this holiday season.
Bespoke Books is a series of creative sessions which evolved from our journeys through The Sketchbook Project. The sessions are meant to help keep the team creatively refreshed and inspired throughout the year. For our November session, the Neiger team created block prints together to serve as designs for our sketchbook covers and they turned out amazing!
Part of this year's annual Summer Fun Day was visiting the Adler Planetarium. We were struck by the beauty of Henry Moore's sundial sculpture "Man Enters the Cosmos" against the city skyline. It was a beautiful day full of insight and inspiration.