AUSTIN, TX – MARCH 15: Actor Billy Crystal attends the Samsung Studio at SXSW 2015 on March 15, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Samsung)
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Every year during the month of March I celebrate my birthday with some whimsical make believe adventure. Last year I “cruised” around the world sailing to various countries on multiple continents (a virtual bucket list of vacations) and posted gorgeous pics that I borrowed from the internet. The year before was filled with very colorful hot air balloons in all shapes and sizes and colors, photographed during spectacular sunsets, beautiful sun rises, rainbow colored skies, and over breathtaking landscapes.
I like to refer to this year’s fun as the celebrity edition (My brother said I had too much time on my hands, :-p) So for every day in March this year, I chose a celebrity whose birthday was that day and inserted myself into photos with them. Each with a caption that identified them via song lyrics, movie titles, or quotes and together we sent out birthday wishes to all of my friends.
This little exercise was particularly therapeutic for me as I had been experiencing a mental block with creating my own original art and this proved to be cathartic while providing me a creative outlet needed to maintain a daily routine – and my sanity. For everyone that played along thank you. I hope to be back to creating new original works real soon.
Do you have a set of china that you only pull out once or twice a year if ever? How about a gorgeous piece of jewelry that you only wear on special occasions? An antique chair that no one sits in?
I have a set of china that I’ve owned for over 30 years. It used to be service for 12 but now it’s more like service for 9 ½ . In the beginning I pulled the china out only for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then I started using it more often when the kids were teenagers (hence the reduction in pieces). Now, the kids are grown and gone, but I’ll still set the table for a date night with my husband; Sunday dinner; when having guests over for any reason; or “just because”.
I learned long ago that having something just for the sake of having it adds no value to my life. We acquire and hold on to things because they appeal to us somehow – because of their beauty, their functionality, or simply because someone dear to us has given it as a gift. But for these things to be truly special in our lives we must USE them.
I say that I learned this long ago, but funny, how lessons learned can quickly be forgotten. Or, if not forgotten, then not universally applied. Some time ago, I’m guessing between 6-9 years, my boss at the time (who was also a great friend – more friend than supervisor) gave me a Christmas present. It was the most exquisite sketch book I have ever owned. Yes, a sketchbook. Although we worked in real estate he knew that my true passion was art, and the thought that he put into this gift simply blew me away. It has been my most cherished sketchbook ever. Cherished yet void of sketches.
I always laugh when people marvel at my art and say “I can’t even draw a stick figure”. If they only knew. You see, my “sketches” are nothing more than doodles and stick figures and notes. For me they are meant only to be the road map for my finished painting. More likely than not, I will end up taking a detour in the middle of that painting and I make corrections and modifications as I go along so I don’t usually waste time with a full-blown drawing.
Imagine my excitement and awe when he gave me this sketch book, this masterpiece of heavy, deep burgundy colored, leather, hand-stamped and polished, filled with handmade papers stitched in, each and every page separated by a vellum sheet. My God, how could I just put doodles and stick figures in it? I would never, ever deface such beauty.
So I put it in a special place in my studio, kept it dusted and protected for so many years…
As I approach the second anniversary of my dear friend’s passing I’ve decided it is time to fill my sketchbook. How could I let sit and be barren for so long? Well, it’s a new year and I’ve decided to create some new sketches – drawings with meaning, drawings that I take my time with, drawings from which I will actually learn something. And if an occasional doodle or stick figure finds it way there, so be it. If a painting happens to emerge from any of my new sketches, all the better.
In honor of Tim R. Taylor who passed away on February 10, 2012 and in honor of Black History Month, I’ve added what I think is a deserving first drawing to my prized sketchbook, my rendering of Nelson Mandela. Tim, if you didn’t know just how much I love my sketchbook, I hope you do now. Thank you, Boss. I miss you.
Tell me about your unused treasures that are waiting to be what they were meant to be.
At the end of every year I try to purge old files and do a general cleaning of my office and inevitably I come across something that I had tucked away in a book, a corner, or a drawer that I was going to get to “later”. This year I uncovered a few poems from an old friend that I have not seen nor heard from in many years.
We both belonged to a writer’s group that met up every couple of months or so and as writers do, we exchanged thoughts, fleshed out ideas, shared our writings, encouraged each other, and practiced our craft. It was great fellowship and highly inspirational. I don’t know where she is these days but this poem is the PERFECT opening act for this New Year. And I’d like to use her words to express my sentiment for you in 2014.
BTW, if anyone out there knows Lori C. Fraind, tell her I’m looking for her and would love to read her new works.
I took an old painting off the wall the other day and set it on its side on the floor while I hung another in its place. I don’t quite remember when I created it and even though I’ve received many compliments on it over the years, I never really liked it. It’s an OK painting, OK enough to display but not OK enough to sign. There was always something about it that, to me, wasn’t quite right.
As I stepped back to look at the newly hung art, my eye caught that painting on the floor, on its side, and I thought “wow”! It was a totally new painting. And suddenly I loved it. It used to be an abstract painting that didn’t quite hit its mark, but now…
My particular abstraction began as a beach scene. The problem I had with it was that it looked like a seascape gone wrong. It wasn’t rendered well enough to be realistic and not abstract enough to be, well, abstract. Being a realist artist, I generally see things in abstract painting that may or may not be intended and subsequently I have trouble seeing abstractly.
I made a comment recently that I wanted to attempt to create an abstract painting and hoped that I wouldn’t fail at it miserably. Some people questioned “failure” because by all accounts it would be “abstract”, so who would know (hint, the artist ALWAYS knows). So I felt obligated to explain that, contrary to popular belief, an abstract painting is so much more than paint thrown onto a canvas – that much thought goes into the process and execution. As much as a realistic drawing or painting can be poorly rendered, so too can an abstract.
But here is one of the things I love most about abstract paintings – there is no “right” side up. You can display them anyway you want. Sure, they are most likely painted from a certain perspective by the artist and exhibited that way to others – as the artist sees it – but when you break it down that old adage still holds true, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.
I recall Maya Angelou saying once that “when someone tells you who they are, believe them.” I think that holds true of art as well. Art can be both timeless and timely. However you look at it, if it’s saying something to you, it’s safe to believe what you experience from it. For me, I have a new perspective based solely on what the painting says to me. If perchance it moves into someone else’s collection, the new owner may hear a different story, see another angle. Fortunately, it’s finally an abstract and the only “right side up” is the side that speaks and says, “this is who I am.”
Now I look at my new painting and only see remnants of its former self and eventually those too will disappear. Moreover, I see an abstract I feel comfortable enough to sign. It’s still not at the top of my creative achievements but it’s a start.
It’s said that an artist is his/her own worst critic. Well, that’s certainly true of me. Even though I can see that I’ve gotten better over the years, I’m not yet where I think I want to be. Don’t get me wrong – I believe that I have talent; I believe in my abilities to create fine art – but I haven’t reached that stage in my artistry where I’m completely comfortable. I generally begin a painting chanting “I THINK I can, I think I can,” and then of course I do it. But I rarely start with the thought, “This is cake, I can do this, hands down.” There’s always a little hesitation, some trepidation.
As we close on 2012 and begin 2013 I, like most, engage in a little retrospective on life, love, dreams, career, and of course my art.
When I look back at some of my earlier paintings and compare them to recent works, I feel a real sense of accomplishment. I can definitely see the progress that I’ve made over the years, which is as it should be. Many of my first works look so amateurish to me now, yet with every new painting I complete I look and look and pick it apart and look some more, never fully satisfied. Oftentimes I am pretty reluctant to even sign my name, because signing it would mean that it’s finished.
I think that un-satiated feeling derives from not yet having developed a style I call me own. (Interestingly I’ve been told by others that I do indeed have a style, only I myself can’t see it.) Because I enjoy such an assortment of media and subject matter and technique I find it hard to lock myself into what I think is a specific style. I can’t even attempt to clump my paintings into “periods” such as Picasso’s Blue and Rose periods. Each time I pick up a brush to start a new painting the outcome is decidedly different from the last one I completed.
Then again, if I ever find myself pigeon holed into a specific style – in my art or in my life – it would mean that I’ve stopped growing, stopped evolving, and that simply will not do. Notably, all of the Greats have danced between painting and sculpture and architecture and science and invention, dallying in different genres and media – it’s part of what made them great. And because there’s still so much more that I want to try, because I haven’t learned it all, because I relish a good challenge, because I’m still not satisfied, I so look forward to 2013.
My wish for you: Continue to grow, continue to evolve into that being you are meant to be – at least for this year. Get as close as you can without lighting that cigar.
Now, throughout this article I’ve given you a little peek at my evolution thus far. Besides the obvious, can you tell what’s old and what’s new?
Enjoy a laugh, a story, a glass of wine and light refreshments while taking in the spectacular artwork of William “Chilly” Bramlet.
With no formal training, Chilly began painting and experimenting with different media and techniques just 5 years ago and has accomplished a stunning collection of paintings and objects d’art that will simply awe you.
Please join us in giving Chilly a warm welcome during his premier exhibit at Handy Concepts Art Gallery on October 7, 2012, from Noon til 4:00 pm. We are located at 150 Country Club Road, Red Lion, PA on the lower level of Kerry’s Green. This event is open to the public and we hope to see you all there.
“Tree Aerobics” by Chilly Bramlet – 12×16″ mixed media on canvas
“Once upon a time in a land far, far away…” This is what comes to mind when I look at William (aka Chilly) Bramlet’s work. He returns me to a childhood full of wonder and imagination. His woody landscapes are full of color and sparkle and mystery. I can totally see myself, skipping through his incandescent forests looking for mythical creatures to have adventures with.
Although Chilly’s paintings are by no means all child’s play, they do appeal to all ages. My 5-year old granddaughter delighted in his rendition of “Scream” (my title) “What the…?” (his title) while her father was captivated with the light literally flowing through the paintings. You see, many of Chilly’s paintings glow in the dark or shine brightly under black light. It’s very much like getting two paintings in one.
As an added bonus Chilly is not all whimsy and surrealism. There is also a very realistic side to Chilly, evidenced in his portraits with eyes that shine and hair you can touch, all created with stunning detail. Realistic or fanciful, all of his works are pieces that require more than just a passing glance. Spend a few minutes in front of one and you’ll find yourself pulled in and swallowed up by the sheer fun of it all.
Please come out on October 7, 2012 and let us introduce you to William “Chilly” Bramlet. Enjoy a glass of wine and some light fare while losing yourself in these wonderful paintings. If you come early, for a nominal fee you can enjoy a full brunch buffet put on by Kerry’s Green before you head downstairs for an exhibit of a lifetime. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Date: Sunday October 7, 2012
Time(s): Sunday Brunch, 10 am 2 pm – exhibit only, Noon – 4 pm (Gallery open during brunch)
Place: Handy Concepts Art Gallery at Kerry’s Green, 150 Country Club Road, Red Lion, PA 17356