Meg Black featured on Helen Hiebert Paper Talk podcast

Meg Black

My day in Monet’s Garden, Giverny, France.

Claude Monet is famous for painting many subjects: water lilies, cathedral facades, footbridges, and of course, his garden’s at Giverny, France, where he moved to in 1883. Monet did not like organized gardens common in other parts of France such as the Gardens at Versaillies. In Giverny, he arranged flowers according to their colors and left them to grow naturally, more in keeping with the picturesque gardens of England or the Zen Gardens of Japan.
I visited Monet’s gardens with my mother a few years ago-the ultimate mother/daughter field trip, where I walked the path of the great impressionist artist and took inspiration from his famous gardens.
My painting, Monet’s Garden, Giverny was inspired by this famous garden. The trellis and sweeping vines, rows of pink, orange, and peach blooms, topped with a kaleidoscope of greens, captures the essence of this very special place in France, and in the hearts of art lovers everywhere.

The painting in situ. To order the painting, to order a print of the painting.

The worlds first truly modern building, London’s Crystal Palace.

The Chrystal Palace, c. 1874, Sydenham, England

Built in 1851 for the Great Exhibition of London, a precursor of the Centennial Exhibition, held in Philadelphia in 1876, the Chrystal Palace at 1,851 x 800 square feet was 4X the length of St. Peter’s Basilica and almost as high. The cast iron frames, columns and girders produced in a factory and bolted on site were glazed with factory made glass, some of it concave to work with the extraordinary design. The design for the palace was the work of Joseph Paxton (1803-1865), a gardener and landscape architect for the royal residence of Chatsworth House, home to the Duke of Devonshire. Paxton had designed a photo-type of a greenhouse many years earlier to ensure the wintering over of the duke’s favorite violets and orchids. Paxton’s idea came to the attention of Prince Albert, who was charged with overseeing the Great Exhibition. Envisioning the simple greenhouse design on a grand scale-Albert was keen to share the benefits of Britain’s place within the industrial revolution to the worlds-the design for the Chrystal Palace took shape.

At the urging of Prince Albert, the palace was built in record time. According to John Pile (History of Interior Design, 2014):

Various architects presented schemes too elaborate, too expensive, or otherwise impractical. It was reported that a chief gardener (really an estate manager) for the great estate of Chatsworth, Joseph Paxton (1803–65), had constructed a conservatory for tropical plants—a greenhouse—all of iron and glass. A meeting was arranged where Paxton proposed to Prince Albert a vast greenhouse of similar construction for the exhibition. Despite uncertainties and protests, Paxton’s proposal was finally accepted and constructed with the aid of the engineering firm of Fox and Henderson (p. 246-247).

The Crystal Palace with all its Victorian era offerings on display.
The smoldering ruins of the structure after the fire of 1936.

What was perhaps most striking about the Chrystal Palace was the disconnect between the modern structure and the offerings within-a frosting of overstuffed and overly ornate Victorian decoration from tassel laden pillows, heavy vegetable dyed throw rugs, and piano’s hardly recognizable under the weight of an overture of veneer carving.

Sadly the palace met its fate in 1936 when fire broke out and gutted the structure. Dispute this loss, the concept for a glass and steel structure has become ubiquitous in modern architecture, as seen in Cesar Pelli’s World Financial Center’s Winter Garden in lower Manhattan, not far from the World Trade Center (it largely survived the 9/11 attack).

The atrium at the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden, NYC, by Cesar Pelli 

The 1988 World Financial Center, now known as Brookfield Place, consists of four towers, two octagonal buildings, the Winter Garden public atrium, a plaza, and a marina. Located in New York’s Battery Park City neighborhood, the complex was recently renovated by Pelli and son Rafael, who is a partner in Pelli Clarke Pelli. Cesar Pelli, the 20xx winner of the Pritzker Prize, died in 2019.

I hope you enjoyed reading a bit of history about the Chrystal Palace. Join my blog for more quick insights into the history of art and architecture.

Using over-beaten abaca to paint pebbled rocks for my seascape painting of the Cape Ann coastline.

The finished painting. Cape Ann Shoreline, 2020. Mixed media painting.

If you are working from home, why not purchase art in your home office design?

According to the researchers at Stanford University (so you know they must be right) the work from home economy is here to stay. Given these statistics, why not include the purchase of art in your home office design (ok, dining room table, spare bedroom, former man cave)?
I’ve included several samples of available art to imagine just how jazzed your space can look. I have more on my original works gallery, and print gallery.


There is a two week free trial period to test out a piece in your space-sort of like what those fancy rug companies do-so there is no up front cost to consider. Payment plans are available for larger pieces. Send me an email if you’d like to try out one of the works featured, and as always, take care and be well.


Thank you for your support.
Meg

https://megblack.com/galleries/rocks-and-water-as-portrait-of-lifes-journey/
Hever Castle Courtyard, Sussex, England. Framed. 48 x 39 inches.
June Morning Light, in-situ
Distant Travels, Cape Cod National Seashore

Follow me as I paint the sea: an explanation of the medium I use.

The painting as of August, 7, 2020.

At first glance, my paintings appear to be oil on canvas or similar. It is upon closer inspection that viewers observe the textured surface of the work. In fact, the most common comment I receive is “I love the texture of your work-it is so engaging. It’s like I’m actually there. Just what is the medium?” The medium I use is abaca, an extremely strong fiber from the inner bark of the banana tree and is used for marine cordage and sails for sailing vessels.

In the 16th century, Venetian artists-Venice at the time was a powerful seafaring nation state-began using the canvases of sailing vessels as surfaces to apply their paints. These canvases were made from durable fibers such as linen, flax and abaca.  It is for this reason that these now famous works have survived to us through the ages. 

Using these same fibers, I have embellished on this idea and created an actual painting method that is just as durable and permanent, and pigmented with light-fast colors to match the rich hues of nature.

My process provides a textured, almost three-dimensional quality to the painting’s surface, thus mimicking nature in all its splendor . . . from its rocky crevices along the ocean shoreline, subtle shadows in a garden path, the fullness and detail of a treed landscape, and the smooth surface of a still lake.  

Natural fibers, beaten into thick coats of pigmented pulp, provides the perfect media with which to create these modern interpretations of representational art.  

painting detail showing texture.

Follow me as I paint the rocky shores of New England

Last month I shared the beginnings of this seascape painting, inspired by the rocky Cape Ann seacoast, a beautiful stretch of beach just north of Boston. As of today, this is how the still in-progress painting appears. I anticipate it will be completed by mid August, so keep following me as I continue to feature it in upcoming blog posts.


I have been posting daily updates on its progress-a few photos are enclosed below (I know, why didn’t I quit after June 25)? One of my favorite things about sharing my progress are the questions I get from followers on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook:How do you do this?What materials do you use?Are you kidding me, you “paint” with a turkey baster?Shut up! You’re just copying over a photograph (the sculptor Rodin suffered a similar fate, so I figure I’m in good company here). 


For the next few weeks, I will share my painting process on Instagram Live, for everyone who wants to learn more about how I paint with pulp.
And don’t forget, this painting will be featured in a Podcast hosted by Helen Heibart to a world-wide audience. My fifteen minutes are here at last!!
For updates on Instagram Live sessions, follow me at https://www.instagram.com/megblackstudios/

The painting on July, 3, 2020 . . .
. . . and June 25, 2020.
I have been painting the north shore of Boston for years. Here are samples of my other paintings, available as originals and giclee prints.
Northshore Scape I (above)
Resilience

For all of my original works and giclee prints, visit my gallery.

Sincerely,

Meg

If you can’t make it to the sea this summer, follow me as I paint it.

The Cape Ann Seacoast, the inspiration for the painting.

Like many of us, I am drawn to the primodial pull of the sea. For me, it is not just any seashore, but the north Atlantic, with its harsh terrain, ice cold water, and thunderous crashing waves. Here, rocks are thrown to the shore by an unrelenting tide.  The rocks are stronger than the water, but the water can be fiercer and can move the rocks at will. This is for me the metaphor for our own lives: we long for smoothness of the water, but we are shaped by the steeliness of the rocks.  
Using an array of textures and colors to illustrate this metaphor, I will depict in my painting this emotional pull of the sea and tell my story much like a poet would use words. 
As you move with me through this creative process, feel free to chime in and ask questions. I have been sharing my process on Instagram live. For updates on live sessions, follow me at https://www.instagram.com/megblackstudios/
And as always, thank you for your support.
Meg


The Genesis of the painting: preparing the background drawing.

The yet to be titled painting at the end of the first week of work.
A black and white print of the image is laid out on the surface of the poured sheet. A sheet of carbon paper is sandwiched underneath. I use a bone folder to trace the image onto the poured sheet as a guide.
The painting in its early stages of completion.

Next week, the painting will be adhered to the frame. The final size will be 40 x 40 x 4 inches.

An example of a picturesque garden in Topsfield

An example of a picturesque garden in Topsfield, located at the corner of Prospect Street and River Road. The seemingly arbitrary plantings appear as though the garden sprang up on its own without human involvement. This is similar to the way Humphrey Repton would have designed the garden-to look natural and untended.
More views of the garden. I love the different scales from minuscule to grand and the variety of colors from snow white to deep crimson. I chose the large photograph on the left because the light reminds me of Claude Lorrain’s paintings with its romantic light.
Humphrey Repton would have loved to include the landscape at Cross and Salem Streets, Topsfield, into his famous Red Book.
Two of the paintings I created of River Road, Topsfield. In keeping with Claude Lorrain and his love of emotional connection through romantic light, I focused on the natural light in both of these examples.

The picturesque movement arrives in the city, 1752-1835.

The Regency in Great Britain refers to the time period when King George III (1760-1820), the guy blamed for losing the colonies to the original guerrilla warriors in the American Revolution, was deemed unfit to rule; his son ruled as Prince Regent. On his father’s death in 1820, the Prince Regent became George IV. The regency period was a time of sweeping change due to industrialization. To offset its impact, cities in Europe and the United States began designing parks in the picturesque style-asymmetrical pathways and emotionally charged vistas-for city dwellers to enjoy while strolling past carefully designed flower beds. 

And of course, Regents Park, designed by John Nash and Humphrey Repton,  named for George IV’s efforts at beautifying London, is where the great love story between Pongo and Purdy begins.

Regents Park, London

Just like Regent’s Park in London, America’s first public botanical garden was the Boston Public Garden, in 1837.

Much like Regent’s Park, the Boston Public Gardens is meant for strolling and taking in the flower beds. The riot of colorful flowers was considered garish by Victorian Bostonians. Designed by George Meacham, who was paid 100.00 for his award winning design, far less than the award granted to John Nash.vvOver 80 variety of flowers are grown in the greenhouse and planted in the garden.  

Boston Public Gardens

As an artist looking for New England scenery to capture in my work, I have long been inspired by the beauty of the Boston Public Gardens. Below are two limited edition prints of original paintings I’ve created of the gardens. Both are available for purchase.

Foot Bridge, Boston Public Garden, order here
Spring Blooms, Boston Public Garden, order here

Looking for some juicy gossip? Watch my short video about Regents Park, the king, and the gardener’s wife. Scandalous!