Journey 297: First Coloring Book Club Meeting

I’ve shared recently about my renewed interest in coloring. The market is flooded with coloring books for adults as this craze sweeps around the world. I’m delighted! I love coloring and the new coloring books provide beautifully  detailed drawings that allow my creative side free reign. This event in Joplin was perfect today for all us coloring enthusiasts…the inaugural meeting of the Coloring Book Club.

Sponsored jointly by Spiva Center for the Arts, Post Art Library, Connect2Culture and Cottage Small Coffee Roasters, the first coloring meet up was held at the Post Art Library, within the Joplin Public Library. Refreshments were provided along with coloring pages and markers, crayons and pencils. Approximately 60 people attended today.

I was excited to be one of the attendees! My daughters Elissa and Adriel joined me, along with Elissa’s friends Aimee, Susan, and Lacey. They are my friends now too! Lacey’s little daughter Vivian attended with her mom. We had such fun, at our end of the table, chatting as we colored.

Elissa, Aimee and I all brought our own sets of colored pencils and I packed a pencil sharpener too, which proved to be a good thing. We sharpened our pencils into a plastic baggie to keep the library tidy. We looked through coloring pages that were provided and all of us selected owl pictures, each of us ending up with a different page.

Elissa said today’s experience reminded her of when she was a child and her brother and sister would join her at the dining room table, drawing or coloring. I often joined in as well. It was a calming activity that forged bonds between us and allowed creativity to develop. Those are precious memories. I have a huge box upstairs, full of my children’s drawings and art work. It’s time to bring that box out and look through it again.

Coloring together is still a companionable and creative way to spend time together. An hour and a half was not enough time to complete a picture, at least not the way we all color, but it was a great start. And it was fun! Laughter and conversations flowed around the packed out room and that was magical, being in the presence of so much creativity and joy.

The next meeting of the Coloring Book Club is in December, and every other month thereafter. Spiva Center for the Arts will be the next host. If you are in the Joplin area, like Coloring Book Club on Facebook for updates about the dates and times. And join us…for fun, coloring, companionship and coffee. I’ll be there!

Day 290: Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post Covers Exhibit

Norman Rockwell Spiva Exhibit

What a treat today, for my first. Spiva Center for the Arts has on loan the amazing Norman Rockwell exhibit, featuring 323 magazine covers from the Saturday Evening Post. Spanning 47 years, the covers not only showcase Rockwell’s talent but capture life in America during those years. Spiva is located at 222 W. 3rd Street, in Joplin, and has the exhibit until November 8, 2014.

I was very excited to view this exhibit. Norman Rockwell is one of America’s most well known and beloved artists. I am very familiar with some of the covers yet I looked forward to browsing the rest and enjoying more of these slice of life paintings. The art center had the covers arranged well, for viewing, with music from the period playing softly in the background. While photography was not allowed, and understandably so, it was very easy to find Rockwell’s work online and use samples for this blog post.

Norman Rockwell, 1894-1978, knew from an early age that he wanted to be an illustrator. Painting and drawing since childhood, Rockwell transferred from high school to the Chase Art School at the age of 14. He went on to the National Academy of Design and the Arts Student League. His first major breakthrough came at the age of 18 when he did his first book illustration for Tell Me Why: Stories about Mother Nature.

Norman Rockwell Triple Self Portrait

In 1912 he was hired as an artist for Boy’s Life, and the following year became the art editor, a position he held for three years. At the age of 21, in 1916, he sold his first cover to the Saturday Evening Post, a piece entitled Home Duty. At that time, the Post was a weekly publication that had been in existence for more than 100 years. Rockwell decided to go after the best, and to try where competition would be the strongest. He hand delivered two painted covers and a third sketch to Walter Dower, who was Post’s art editor. Dower bought the covers on the spot, asked Rockwell to complete the sketch and commissioned three more covers. Rockwell’s career was launched and the partnership with Post would continue for more than four decades.

Norman Rockwell Home Duty

Home Duty, Rockwell’s first Post cover

I enjoyed viewing his work. Grouped by decades, I could see the evolution of Rockwell’s work, from less colorful yet detailed pieces to rich, colorful paintings that included much detail in the backgrounds as well as with the subjects. What did not change over the years was Rockwell’s focus on people and the myriad aspects of their lives. Through Rockwell’s homey portraits I could glimpse life as it was lived, from 1916 through the 1960’s, when the illustrator left Post to design covers for Look. Optimistic, for the most part, whimsical, hopeful, Rockwell presented scenes that were both familiar and thought provoking. He often used children, youth and pets in his scenes and some of his best known covers portray the often rowdy yet innocent lives of the young and young at heart.

Norman Rockwell Sorting the Mail      Norman Rockwell Marble Champion

I saw the covers I expected to see, those that are so well known. The ones I studied the most were the ones unfamiliar to me. There were covers with clowns in them and adults dreaming of adventure. The joys and heartbreaks of love were captured on several covers, as were the challenges of family life and the trials of serving the country during wartime. Rockwell never focused on the negative. He allowed newspapers to carry those headlines and stories. He chose, instead, to celebrate life, and show his patrons what they themselves looked like and what they were capable of.

Christopher Finch, who wrote the introduction in the book, 50 Norman Rockwell Favorites, said, “The images he created have become part of the fabric of our popular culture. He held up a friendly mirror to the society he lived in, and Americans have looked into this glass and seen themselves as warm, decent, hard-working citizens of a country bountiful enough to accommodate their boundless optimism.” Norman Rockwell did, indeed, gift us with his amazing perspective, capturing scenes that are ordinary and yet timeless, easily recognized and yet marked distinctly with his own style of painting. I am very grateful for the opportunity to see such a rich body of work.

Norman Rockwell Homecoming GI

Day 203: Paul Caponigro Exhibit at Spiva Center for the Arts

Paul Caponigro portrait e

Writing about today’s first, visiting the Paul Caponigro Exhibit at the Spiva Center for the Arts, almost qualifies for a first, in and of itself.  Rarely do I complete my first and have the chance to write about it so early in the day. With a busy afternoon and evening planned, I seized the opportunity to stop by Spiva, located at 222 W. 3rd Street, before lunch and view this extraordinary exhibit.

Paul Caponigro still water e

I knew the Main Gallery’s exhibition featured the work of master photographer Paul Caponigro. That’s all I knew. I was not familiar with him, or his photographs. I was in for a treat. As I slowly studied the black and white photographs lining the walls, I was moved by Paul’s eye for landscapes and still lifes. Each piece told a story. I appreciate how photography allows the viewer to see what the photographer sees, and to know what was important to him, so important that he stops time and captures the moment. The use of black and white photography seemed to eliminate distractions and bring the focus sharply into view. There was a mystical quality to his work. I was enchanted.

Paul Caponigro has captured scenes from all over the world. This exhibit included pictures from the US, England, Japan, Wales, Ireland, Italy, and to my delight, Scotland. I enjoyed the pieces titled Scottish Thistle 1 and 2. I was drawn to the magical photos of Stonehenge and other stone megaliths and domens. The ancient secrets contained in those portals and stone circles are fascinating to me.

Paul Caponigro Scottish thistle 1 e

I discovered that Paul, born in 1932, is an American photographer known for his stunning landscapes and still lifes. His interest in photography began as a young teenager, although he also had a strong passion for music. He began studying music at Boston University College of Music before switching to the study of photography at California School of Fine Art. When I looked him up on google, I found that he is known also for the mystical and spiritual qualities in his work, which confirmed what I felt while viewing his photographs. He has said that photography is a medium, a language, through which he might come to experience directly, live more closely with, the interaction between himself and nature. That interaction, that connection, is evident in his work.

Paul says, “In my years of photography I have learned that many things can be sensed, seen, shaped or resolved in a realm of quiet, well in advance of, or between, the actual clicking of shutters and the sloshing of films and papers in chemical solutions. I work to attain “a state of heart”, a gentle space offering inspirational substance that could purify one’s vision. Photography, like music, must be born in the unmanifest world of spirit.” Amazing and inspiring. I appreciate the beauty in his photographs and in his soul, and how he offers both to the world through his art. Today, I became a Paul Caponigro fan.

Paul Caponigro Megaliths e


Special note…Taking photos of the pieces in the exhibit is not allowed, and understandably so. I was able to locate online samples of Paul’s work to share here.