Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Feature: For the Muses

This first stage of a painting was inspired by a photograph of the artist model, Audrey Munson.  The more I learn about her the more fascinated I am.  She worked as a model for sculptors in New York during the nineteen-teens and created four very classy nude films.  But alas alack! no copies of these films are available.  One film is in an archive in France but they aren't giving up the goods.  Numerous sculptures of Munson are peppered throughout New York City.  She inspired so many artists that she is considered the muse to top all muses.

 There's language in her eye, her cheek, her lip,
Nay, her foot speaks; her wanton spirits look out
At every joint and motive of her body.
-Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida

"To the pure, all things are pure." Audrey Munson

Thanks to all of the muses who inspire us. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Most Docile Earth

The Most Docile Earth
Copyright 2013 Addie Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
18" x 36"

Consider all this;
and then turn to the green, gentle, and most docile earth;
consider them both, the sea and the land;
and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?
For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land,
so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti,
full of peace and joy,
but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life.
-Herman Melville

Monday, March 25, 2013

Wallflowers vs. Favorites

The Wallflower
Copyright 2013 Addie Hirschten
9" x 12"
Oil on Canvas

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting.
-Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The face for this painting was inspired by an old 19th century sketch I found entitled "The Favorite."  Something about that title rubbed me the wrong way.  Why do we have to have favorites?  Why can't we recognize the awesome qualities in everyone around us?  Then again we are drawn like a magnet to certain people.  (I am anyway.)  Maybe it is just pheromones?  There doesn't seem to be another logical explanation as to why some people turn your crank and others just don't.  

So... I made her a wallflower instead of a favorite.
That just seemed more humble or somesuch.

Then again-
we have all at one point been the wallflower and at other times the favorite.

And at other times you just want to rest- that is where I'm at now.

To everything there is a season.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Feature: Elly MacKay

Upcoming artist Elly MacKay has just released her first book, If You Hold a Seed.  If you haven't seen it yet be prepared to be amazed.  It is illustrated using paper puppet sets reminiscent of Indonesian shadow theater in which lights illuminate the scene from behind.  MacKay's work has a fresh modern look that plays with layering in an innovative way unlike anything I have seen before.  

I am holding my breath for her to tackle the classic nursery tales and I have a feeling that the best is yet to come from this artist!

If you wait and wait...
Season by season, year by year...
That tree will grow so large 
it will hold you.
-Elly MacKay

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Work of the Soul

 The Work of the Soul
Copyright 2013 Addie Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
16" x 20"

There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
-Edith Wharton

This is the work of the soul- the work that all humans are meant to do.
To bring warm winds to cool places.
 Where there is darkness we bring light.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Saint Francis

Saint Francis
Copyright 2013 Addie Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
18" x 36"
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
-Prayer of Saint Francis

This painting depicts Saint Francis taming the wolf surrounded by birds.  I myself have been meditating lately on the first line of his prayer "make me an instrument of thy peace."   How can I better take action to create peace for those around me?  The most challenging part has been to create peace within my own thoughts...

To calm my fearful doubts and surrender to reality.
To be thankful for everything.
To absolve every transgression.
It is perfect just the way it is.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Feature: Horace Pippin

Domino Players by Horace Pippin

Despite having wounded his right arm while serving in World War I Horace Pippin continued painting throughout his lifetime. I have to believe that he found much of the strength to continue working from his desire to express the injustice of segregation that he experienced. That and maybe he wanted to honor the quiet beauty of everyday existence... people gathering on a street, a family eating dinner. After the horrors of war and racism this is what he wanted to focus on.

by Horace Pippin

I did not care what or where I went. I asked God to help me, and he did so. And that is the way I came through that terrible and Hellish place. For the whole entire battlefield was hell, so it was no place for any human being to be.
-Horace Pippin

Pictures just come to my mind, and I tell my heart to go ahead
-Horace Pippin

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick
Copyright 2013 Addie Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
9" x 12"

Let anyone laugh and taunt if he so wishes. 
I am not keeping silent, 
nor am I hiding the signs and wonders that were shown to me.
-Saint Patrick

Monday, March 11, 2013


Copyright 2013 Addie Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
20" x 30"

Be open to everything and attached to nothing.

Love is always unconditional.  Reliance on someone else to fulfill your happiness is not love. Learn self-reliance and gain the ability to make yourself happy. If you are hunting for "love" with a long list of conditions you will never find it.

If someone wants to change you- they aren't expressing love.
If you want to change someone- you aren't expressing love.
Give without great expectations if you want to find the warmth of acceptance.

It is in giving that we receive.  It is in loving that we are loved...
-St. Francis

Fear holds more people back from love than anything else... fear of loneliness, fear of poverty, fear of judgments, fear of failure.  Years ago I talked to a woman who insisted she wouldn't date anyone who didn't have a credit card.  (So she could spend his money I guess.)  Possessive ownership is not love.  Marking someone as your territory with a ring, showing them off to the world, bragging... this is not love.  Let go of the security blanket of false promises.  Sometimes loving someone means letting them go to move on to their next phase of life.  Enjoy your lover's company now and give them the true acceptance, support and friendship you have been craving.  Let go of your materialistic expectations and give.

Give what you want to receive.  

Can you step back from you own mind and thus understand all things? 
Giving birth and nourishing,
having without possessing,
acting with no expectations,
leading and not trying to control
this is the supreme virtue.
-Lao Tzu

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Feature: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a Transcendentalist Unitarian who has greatly influenced my own philosophical religious development.  His essay on Self-Reliance especially strikes a chord with me at this time...

These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs. 
Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.

Yeah... I want to have strength stemming from only my own courage.
I want to only cultivate friendships with those who offer unconditional support.

I am only interested in truth, not the facade of society.

Success is...

-to laugh often and love much
-to appreciate beauty
-to find the best in others
-to give of one's self
-to leave the world a bit better
-to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived


Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Copyright 2013 Addie Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
16" x 20"

What's to come is still unsure.
In delay there lies no plenty,
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth's a stuff will not endure.
-Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

(I feel like yelling, "YEAH! I'M NOT DEAD YET!")

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reincarnation Strikes Again

The Sum of All Things
Copyright 2013 Addie Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
18" x 36"

Nothing retains its form; new shapes from old.
 Nature, the great inventor, ceaselessly contrives. In all creation, be assured, there is no death – no death, but only change and innovation; what we men call birth is but a different new beginning; death is but to cease to be the same. Perhaps this may have moved to that, and that to this, yet still...
the sum of things remains the same.
-Ovid, Metamorphosis

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Feature: Maria Sibylla Merian

Butterfy Life Cycle by Maria Sibylla Merian

Somehow I had never heard of this amazing pioneering artist until recently.  Maria Sibylla Merian was a naturalist who specialized in entomology during the 17th century.  I love how she depicted the life cycle of insects so delicately... combining the plants eaten as well as the stages of metamorphosis.  She showed the constant flow of change all wrapped up into one picture.

Pomegranates by Maria Sibylla Merian

This week in a class I teach for the Indianapolis Art Center's ArtReach program, we studied the life of Merian then drew from real specimens.  The kids loved having dead insects, fish and even a dead bird to draw from!
One of my students drawing a butterfly specimen.  I am so proud!

Another one of my students drawing our dead bird.
(Fear not! He died of natural causes.)

The only constant is change.