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I visualize it before I begin painting

Updated: Jan 9, 2021

“I visualize it before I begin painting, and try to make it conform to the image I’ve already fashioned” ~ Remedios Varo, Letters Dreams and Other Writings

Remedios Varo, Mimicry, 1960

ART YARD Advanced Studio kicked off the new year by diving deep into our vast imaginations with a guided visualization to develop imagery from within. I began leading the session by sharing the above quote from one of my favorite artists Remedios Varo and showing two of her paintings. We talked a bit about the imagery, compositional details and narrative Varo so beautifully presents in her work.

Remedios Varo, Simpatía La rabia del gato (The Madness of the Cat), 1955

I asked participating artists to bring with them a sketch book or several pieces of paper so that they could take notes and make quick diagrams while following the narrative meant to inspire images, places, beings and movement.

As an example of how this works -- I asked the artists to carefully imagine the details from the narrative. When I suggest reaching for a cup, it is up to each person to really see their cup. Is it a ceramic mug? A champagne flute? A paper cup? Is it filled with hot coffee? The last sip of freshly squeezed orange juice? Thus each vision is unique, complex and filled with specific details.

This is the outline I used for the visualization:

· Imagine yourself sitting in a chair at a table

· Write the date on paper

· Reach for a cup

· Rise go to window

· Notice something that compels you to leave the building

· Dress for going out

· Descend stairs

· Lock door behind you

· Walk to your left

· See an alluring cafe stop for a bite to eat

· While having your snack realize the café leads into a shop, filled with alluring things.

· Find the perfect thing that you love, purchase it.

· Shop keeper will give you change

· Notice that shop leads to a gallery

· Look at the art

· Give or think of a compliment to the artist, curator or gallery

· Leave the gallery and walk (notice your surroundings, feet & hands)

· Approach a bridge

· Someone is approaching the bridge from the other side

· You meet in the middle

· This person hands you something important, look at it carefully, this is now yours, carefully bring it with you as you retrace your steps

· Return to the room you started in place the things you gathered on the table or around you

I asked the artists to cull from their notes, images, ideas and/or events on which to base a piece in the medium of their choice. Several artists took extra time after our session to complete their work. (Please check back as there are more art images to follow!)

Dennis helpfully took notes during critique on the work presented:

Jenn: combined 2 most prominent thoughts/objects; garden gnome - followed the gnome through slots in fence; bell jar

Jennifer Dodson, Visualization Sketches
Jennifer Dodson, Visualization Sketches and Notes
Jennifer Dodson, Visualization painting

Claude: key in door leads to other doors; key slot looks like door

Claude Aiaud Peralta, Visualization drawing

Zeke: log cabin; stairwell big but house is small

Zeke Brokow, Visualization drawings

Vera: mixed media look; chair is basic; pedestal table preferred over 4 legs; person being the pattern and vice versa

Vera Tineo, Visualization digital drawing (in progress)

Vera’s completed piece is an animated video!

Jacob: although mid-winter, outside barefoot walking in giant puddle; walked into bar/cafe and sat on bar stool on velvet carpet that extended outdoors

Jacob Rath, Visualization drawing

Kevin: concept sketches; bubble tea which he is prohibited from doing (meeting friends) due to Covid; window sill with plants; wants to display art in apartment or in room

Kevin Anderson, Visualization drawing (in progress)

Marilyn: window and clock; mug and flowers (the gift she bought herself)

Marilyn August, Visualization painting with wax resist

Eden: in old church; buys a violin of significant provenance

Eden Moore, Visualization, digital drawing

Maya: lock/keyhole - seeing sunset - Image to follow

TJ: Inspired by strange afternoon sky, footsteps marking the path, a rocking chair and a teddy bear

TJ Edgar, Visualization drawing (in progress)

Nayarit: doorknob represents safety of being inside; text (one of) reads - go back inside

Nayarit Tineo, Visualization drawing 1
Nayarit Tineo, Visualization drawing 2
Nayarit Tineo, Visualization drawing 3

Ed: Coffee on the table, butterfly out the window, and a gallery of his own paintings - all sold!

Ed Rath, Visualization, cut paper collage with Avery Red Dot labels

Sarah: A dreamy place with stairs and windows; holding out-sized money, suitcases (for travel) with a background of mysterious written words

Sarah Gumgumji, Visualization, digital collage

Some of the artists provided additional narratives.

Akash said: “I drew a door, a box of items, and a spilled cup to kind of showcase the things I first noticed in my room when I viewed it.” image to follow

Wayne described his paneled drawing: “The stairwell is from an iconic residence in Montevideo, Uruguay inspired by the great Art Deco ocean liners. The window is a church also in Montevideo with views through a second window out onto the horizon. The chairs are from an exhibition in Madrid of mid-century furniture. The other chair and plant are inspired by a work that I saw at the Botero museum in Bogota, Columbia. The gallery picture is one by the Italian artist Giorgio Morandi. The final building is an Art Deco masterpiece in Sydney also inspired by an ocean liner. The visualization took me on travels from the past as I look forward to renewed travels in 2021 and an opportunity for fresh inspiration.”

Wayne Gross, Visualization drawing

Pat tells us that “for some reason I am really interested in the surfaces of the brass slide rule (or whatever that weird mathematical instrument is--a pantograph?), the sea urchin (which in my visualization is a little bit pearly-iridescent), and the money (the 100-euro note has some hologram stuff on it, and the pound coin and 2-euro coin echo the metallic surface of the brass instrument).”

Pat Larash, Visualization drawing (initial sketch)
Pat Larash, Visualization mixed media 3-D collage

My own vision began in Venice then morphed into Rome. In the shop I purchased three paintbrushes which had belonged to John Singer Sargent. On Pointe Sisto (one of my favorite bridges over the Tiber) I met a woman with beautiful emerald green shoes and she handed me a glass orb which could act as a snow globe and came on a little gold stand.

Meridith McNeal, Visualization painting


Also this week...

Dennis went to see Marking Time: Art in the Era of Mass Incarceration at PS1 where ART YARD Artist Claude works.

Claude and Dennis at PS1

I tuned in to the exhibition related Artist Talk with Jared Owens, Jesse Krimes and Gilberto Rivera moderated by Mary Baxter. It was a great way to get to know the artists a bit better. They were well spoken and articulate. I recommend tuning in to these bi-weekly hour long lectures on Thursdays from noon-1pm on YouTube via the PS1/MoMA website.

Screen shot from Artists Talk in conjuntion with Marking Time: Art in the Era of Mass Incarceration at PS1


ART YARD favorite Kehinde Wiley has an installation of stained glass windows at the newly renovated Penn Station. Dennis stopped in to see it and says they are simply beautiful.

Kehinde Wiley installation at Penn Station (photo by Dennis Buonagura)


My neighbor musician José Carlos Cruzata Revé and I have been discussing the architecture of Brooklyn and how architecture changes over time. Earlier this week José emailed me some links and pictures of the National School of Art in Havana, Cuba where he and his brother studied. He explained that “Unfortunately the government vision didn't help to finish this gorgeous project. There were three architects working on this project (Ricardo Porro, Vittorio Garatti, Roberto Gottardi).”

National School of Art in Havana, Cuba

I loved learning about the National School of Art in Havana. The architecture is so dream-like to me, quite fitting for a week that started out with imaginative visualization.


Sogni d'oro

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