Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Dream of Roses

A Dream of Roses
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas 24" x 36"
Available at the Rosewater Gallery

Some people grumble that roses have thorns;
I am grateful that thorns have roses.”
-Alphonse Karr

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"The Alchemy of Art: Stories for the Classroom" New Book Released!

Buy Now on Amazon

It's official friends!  
The new book "The Alchemy of Art: Stories for the Classroom" is available for purchase.

I started this book when I was teaching art classes for the Indianapolis Art Center Outreach "ArtReach" Program.  I was looking for material to read-aloud to the children while they were creating their art projects.   Finding folktales and biographies about artists from around the world, I  formed this book of short stories for art teachers to share in the classroom.  

I am so pleased that it is finished and ready to share with you!  If you enjoy it please write an Amazon review and share with fellow art lovers.

Get 3 FREE chapters from the book at:

"It is the artist's business to make sunshine when the sun fails."
-Romain Rolland

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hot and Spicy Flowers

Hot and Spicy Flowers
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas 16" x 20"

"Variety's the very spice of life,
That gives it all its flavor."
-William Cowper

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I Believe in Pink

I Believe in Pink
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Acrylic on Canvas 16" x 20"

"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."
-Audrey Hepburn

Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Indiana Summer

Indiana Summer
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas 11" x 14"

"My father... removed from Kentucky to... Indiana, in my eighth year... It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up... Of course when I came of age, I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher... but that was all."
-Abraham Lincoln 

Now we only have one bear in Indiana.  He has been spotted up near Lake Michigan.  I have gotten lost a couple of times in Indiana.... on roads just like this one.  Indiana has a quiet beauty.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Fragrance of Apples

The Fragrance of Apples
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Acrylic on Canvas 11" x 14"

"And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:

Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”
― Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dunes Creek

Dunes Creek at the Indiana Dunes State Park
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas 11" x 14"
A few minutes before I did this painting a muskrat swam up the center of the creek, nibbled on some grass then kept on swimming.  It was a delightfully rich place!  I am so glad this marshland is being preserved.

"We are still each others only hope.  If love is the way we have of communicating personally in the deepest way, then what art can do is to extend this communication, magnify it, and carry it to vastly greater numbers of people. Therefore art is valid for the warmth and love it carries within it, even if it be the lightest entertainment, or the bitterest satire, or the most shattering tragedy."
-James Baldwin

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Foxglove Flowers

Foxglove Flowers
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas 16" x 20"

Trehill Well
Above the ivies' branchlets gray
In glistening clusters shone;
While round the base the grass-blades bright
And spiry foxglove sprung.
Oh tell me not of bitter thoughts,
Of melancholy dreams,
By that fair fount whose sunny wall
Basks in the western beams.

-Charles Kingsley

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Evening in Berlin

Evening in Berlin
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas 11" x 14"

The evening sings in a voice of amber, the dawn is surely coming.
-Al Stewart

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Peonies in the Cut Glass Vase

Peonies in the Cut Glass Vase
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas 16" x 20"
Prints available on Fine Art America
Excerpt from the poem "Peonies"
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?
-Mary Oliver

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Father and Son Fishing at Morse Reservoir

Father and Son Fishing at Morse Park Reservoir
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas 16" x 20"
Prints available on Fine Art America

"If people concentrated on the really important things in life
there would be a shortage of fishing poles."
-Doug Larson

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Mulberry Tree at Stony Creek Farm

SOLD, The Mulberry Tree at Stonycreek Farm
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
16" x 20"
Prints available on Fine Art America

This past weekend I participated in the Hamilton County Paint Out.  For two days we painted throughout the county.  I visited Stonycreek Farm and the Morse Reservoir.  I was very thankful that this painting was purchased during our competition.

Now I fall in love with a lot of trees.  I will see one and say to myself "wow, that is the most beautiful tree ever!"  Then I will round the bend and say the same thing about the next tree.  This is one that is high up there on the list.  

The owner of Stonycreek Farm said that it is a fifty year old Mulberry tree AND an outhouse used to sit below it.  Well fertilized richness!

"The grass is always greener over the septic tank."
-Erma Bombeck

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hail Poetry!

Hail Poetry, Section 1, Copyright 2015 Hirschten

Hail Poetry, Section 2, Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Hail Poetry, Section 3, Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Hail Poetry, Section 4, Copyright 2015 Hirschten

Each panel is Acrylic on Canvas, 12" x 36"
"Hail, poetry, thou heaven-born maid!  
Thou gildest in the pirates trade.
Hail, flowing fount of sentiment.
All hail, all hail, divine emollient."
-Gilbert and Sullivan

This set of paintings highlights a section of music from Gilbert and Sullivan's musical, The Pirates of Penzance.  For me this is a stunningly divine piece of music laced with humorous truth about how grace holds a place even in the hearts of pirates. An emollient is a lubricant used to keep a machine running smoothly.  So poetry is what keeps our lives well-oiled and flowing.

Here is a YouTube video of the music:

The idea of translating music into visual form is not a new one.  Many artists such as Kandinsky and Marc Chagall have done this.  I am developing a set of exercises for the art classroom based on this idea. 

Yet can we truly translate one art form into another?  One function of every art form whether it is music, painting, sculpture, writing, dance or whatever is to communicate the the viewer.  Often we are communicating emotions through symbols, color or sound in a way that is not possible with words.  Each art language has special power.  We can take on the challenge of translating these forms, but some of the nuance will be lost in translation.

This painting has many symbols including a section from the pirate Blackbeard's flag:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Little Birdhouse in Your Soul

Birdhouse in Your Soul
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Acrylic on Canvas
22" x 28"
Prints Available on Fine Art America
This painting is inspired by the They Might Be Giants song "Birdhouse in your Soul."  The song is about a blue bird nightlight that brings comfort to the listener.  In the painting the bursts at the bottom represent the opening beats.  The eggs represent youth.  The young girl in the center of the painting is my daughter who is currently age nine.  I hope that she can keep the nightlight in her soul burning bright!

Part of the composition was inspired by a piece by Eldzier Cortor that is currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Loved it!
Jewels/Theme IV by Eldzier Cortor
Another element that inspired this painting is a photo of my father when he was in the first grade:
John Wooten, 1952, Knoxville, TN

I feel this photo really captures his spark, a unique youthful quality in him.  I attempted to get the same quality of image from my daughter choosing a direct gaze and replacing the "I Like Ike" button with the birdhouse- ha ha!  My father was a musician who taught high school marching bands.  Many of my first memories are of watching him direct his students to the rhythm of the beat.  This beat, this light "that doesn't rest" is what we need to push away the monsters in the shadows.

Also my mother is a birder who has always had numerous bird feeders and houses in the sanctuary of her yard.  For me- this is a painting rich in personal family symbolism.

"I have a secret to tell
From my electrical well
It's a simple message and I'm leaving out the whistles and bells
So the room must listen to me
Filibuster vigilantly
My name is blue canary one note* spelled l-i-t-e
My story's infinite
Like the Longines Symphonette it doesn't rest"
-They Might Be Giants

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Flowers in the Kitchen

Flowers in the Kitchen
Copyright 2014 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
16" x 20"

"I need my friends.  I need my house.  I need my garden."
-Miranda Richardson

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Birds of Syria

The Birds of Syria
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas 18" x 36"
Prints available on Fine Art America
War is always disruptive to families.  This painting is about how many Syrians have had their home, their nest, disrupted by the Syrian Civil War.  Like a flock of birds that have been startled, the people of Syria have scattered in all directions.  If a nest was thrown up in the air, the twigs of it would also scatter.  Yet here a mother holds a new delicate nest.  It contains the egg of future generations. She is carrying it until she can find a safe place that will be her new home.

This painting is also inspired by my friend, Dima Kroma, who is from Syria.  She is creating paintings of her homeland.  One of her recent paintings is of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus with birds flying up around it into the air.  It is a beautiful scene.

Here is a photo of her painting currently on display at the Indianapolis Art Center:

Umayyad Mosque by Dima Kroma

When my friend Walter saw my "Birds of Syria" painting it he was moved to write a poem about it:

Birds of Syria 
by  Walter Biskupski
Fly away now,
Your precious lives are on the wing.
Let the currents guide you
Through the troubled air,
And bring you to shelter
Until the storms subside.
Allow those who love you to provide,
To lessen your fear; to ease your pain,
And like the winged migration through the year,
you may yet return home again.

It is my hope that the "Birds of Syria" painting will bring comfort to all Syrians who are suffering and that it raises awareness of the human rights violations that have been committed.  I am so glad that Dima, her family and others have escaped to my country, the United States, yet I can only imagine the pain of not being able to return home.

May peace come again to Syria.  May love fill your hearts.

Here are some in progress photos of this painting:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, Germany
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Acrylic on Panel
11" x 14"
"I'd rather live in a cave with a view of a palace than live in a palace with a view of a cave."
-Karl Pilkington

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Daughter

My Daughter
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Acrylic on Panel
11" x 14"
"She is just like a butter-rose, that blooms in the month of June.
Or like some musical instrument that's just been lately tuned."
-From the folk song "A Roving on a Winter's Night"

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Sneak Peek Inside My Art Studio...

Inside Hirschten's Art Studio

With help from fabulous photographer Emily Schwank of Rainscliff Photography here is a sneak peek inside my art studio.

I consider the painting studio to be a sanctuary, a place to take refuge.  I recommend that if you want to grow as an artist you must make space in your home to create. Virginia Woolf urged artists to have a "Room of One's Own" for their creative work but even a table tucked in the corner of your living room will work.  You need space to make a mess then put it all back together again.

"Sanctuary, on a personal level, is where we perform the job of taking care of our soul."
-Christopher Forest McDowell

Hirschten's Art Studio

Oil Paints
Hirschten Painting

Hirschten at work in her painting studio

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Before and After

Mantel (And wet painting drying rack!) in Hirschten's Living Room After Renovation

Mantel Before
For me there isn't anything quite as satisfying as repainting a room.  It doesn't have the creative problem solving of making an oil painting, but the aching back gives one a feeling of accomplishment.

Painting, n.: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather, and exposing them to the critic.
-Ambrose Bierce


Schnookum likes it!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Winding Stream

The Winding Stream
Copyright 2014 Hirschten
Acrylic on Canvas Board
11" x 14"
"When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
and the dimpling streams runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it."
-William Blake

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sunflowers in Berlin

Sunflowers in Berlin
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
12" x 24"

"Art is not an adventure undertaken by the few for the gratification of their natural instincts, but a part of the complete expression of a people.  It has no place for weaklings. 
Only the strong persist, for they must feel and speak for all."
-William Forsyth

Hmmmm... I don't agree that my or anyone else's work could ever 'speak for all.'   Every person's experience is unique.  Every person deserves to have their story shared.  I do agree however that creating art in any form is courageous.  We show our underbellies, our vulnerable side.  We express what we see, feel and care about.  This takes courage.  The release that you get from opening up to it makes it worth it.

What do I see in today's painting?  This was a bunch of flowers for sale in an open air market in Berlin.  This area of the east side is haunted by the devastation of World War II and the violent separation of the east and west.  Yet the day I was there it was bright and sunny.  We ate fresh breads and cakes.  This is an image of renewal.

Join me for the opening reception of "Art In Bloom"
Petrov's Frame and Fine Art, 5172 N College Ave.  Indianapolis
April 2, 2015  6:30-9pm

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Abstract Sunset

Abstract Sunset
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas

"Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature."
-Josef Albers

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Flowers in a Wine Glass

Flowers in a Wine Glass
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas

"The fairest thing in nature, a flower, still has its roots in earth and manure."
-D.H. Lawrence

Friday, March 13, 2015

The History of Flower Painting 101

"Red D'Anjou Pears and Flowers"
Oil on Canvas 11" x 14"

Buy Now on Etsy

"Each blossom that blooms in their garden bowers on its leaves a mystic language bears."
David Kandel, German Herbal, Illustration of a Lime Tree, 1546
  As I prepare for the upcoming class "Painting Botanics", I have been totally geeking out on the history of botanical flower painting!
 We will begin our first day of class by examining early renaissance herbals and DISSECTING SHAMROCKS THE DAY AFTER SAINT PATRICK'S DAY.  (Sacrilegious I know!)
Jan van Huysum, Dutch 1724
 Starting in the Dutch Golden Age reaching into the Victorian era the people of Europe were crazed with floral symbolism.  Lovers would gift each others flowers (and paintings of flowers) using this secretive symbolic language.  Oh la la! 

Flowers were not just decorative ornaments in these paintings but told the story of life, death and the moral code of the age.  We will be creating still-life paintings inspired by their methods and madness!
Amazing woman explorer, Maria Sibylla Merian "Life Cycle of the Butterfly" 1705
 As Europeans pushed for exploration of new territories during the "Age of Discovery" scientists documented their finding with artistic paintings. In this class we will be closely observing floral "specimens" until we can capture their graceful beauty.

And this is only the beginning of the story! 

Then there is Impressionism and Symbolism and O'Keefe's bold Modernism....
Odilon Redon, Ophelia, French Symbolism 1910

Join us!  Sign up now for
"Painting Botanics"
starting March 18th at the Indianapolis Art Center.