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"Cynosure" abstract mixed media painting on paper by contemporary artist Maura SatchellThis is a mixed media abstract work of art started as an airbrush painting. I loved the colors, the ethereal quality to it, but wasn’t sure where to take it. Cut to this year and rainy weather and my bag of tricks — charcoal, gouache, ink and pastels, and voila! I give you “Symphony”, on 11″ x 15″ paper.

Not for the faint of heart, this painting would look wonderful in a home or office interior that needs a punch of color. A large custom giclee print of this work looks enchanting in its new home and may give you an idea of how this wall art might fit with your home or office design.

Cynosure in situ

Newly completed, this work is available for sale through me or Saatchi where you can also purchase smaller sized fine art prints or canvas duplicates. For accessories and larger size prints, check out the offerings at this link.

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Review: Dancing with the beast album by Gretchen Peters

Gretchen at GOLThere are lyrics, and there are muse-inspired-words-as-gifts-from-the-heavens LYRICS. And Dancing With the Beast by Country Music Hall of Fame songwriter and singer Gretchen Peters is an album for the ages. It really taps into the zeitgeist of these tumultuous times, with nearly every song a mini-story of it’s own, told from different women’s vantage points. If you love ballads, this girl’s your girl…

There is darkness, I won’t lie, on this album, but it is the kind that rips you apart, sends you to hell and back. And when you resurface, you are changed. And lighter. Like when you exit a sad, sorrowful movie, tear-stained, into the sunlight, appreciative for your situation and circumstances.

Not familiar with Gretchen? Rick Bayles of Americana UK sums her bountiful songwriting skills and the breadth and depth of this latest album best:

 Peters’ great strength as a songwriter is that she’s not afraid to take on the difficult subjects and not above shining a little light into those darker recesses of the soul. While others might write happy songs about new love or bittersweet reflections on past affairs this artist will readily take on old age, prostitution, child abuse – let’s not forget she first came to prominence as the writer of Martina McBride’s controversial single ‘Independence Day’, celebrating an abused wife fighting back; a song that went on to win Song of the Year at the Country Music Association’s awards in 1995 and earned Gretchen Peters a Grammy nomination. This new recording once again deals with the difficult subjects; these are adult content songs written for a thinking audience by an intelligent artist. The fact that they are also beautifully played, sung and produced is the icing on a particularly enjoyable cake.

Don’t take my words for it, or Rick Bayles’. Listen for yourself at her website. All I know is, it is MTPB: Music to paint by.

Disclaimer 1: Gretchen is my sister-in-law and her husband and band mate, sublime musician and composer-extraordinaire, Barry Walsh, my brother.

Disclaimer #2: I consider myself musically illiterate, having been kicked out of piano lessons taught by a widow whose sole income was teaching piano to the little children of Packanack Lake, NJ.

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I hope you dance

I hope you dance“I hope you dance” is a mixed media collage art work using the sheet music of the beautiful song made famous by LeeAnn Womack and penned by Mark Sanders and Tia Sillers. My painting uses the iconic ballet dancer’s graceful en pointe image against a background of pinks and red tissue and washi papers.

You know, I was fortunate enough to see the charismatic, adorable and talented Tia perform it live at the Bluebird. I already loved the song and was so moved at her performance, I had to express it in some way and out came this painting.  Head over here for the back story on Tia’s inspiration in writing this song and the gorgeous music video of I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack.

Check it out as a design element in a beautiful home interior: hope you dance

Like this image? I’m afraid it’s only available in print these days. You can purchase it from this site. The good news is, if you really, really, really love it, you can even score other goodies such as note cards, yoga mats (yes, you know you’d love one), beach towels, hell, even shower curtains! So head on over and get your credit card out!

PS: If you absolutely must have an original along this same line, contact me to explore a commission for that once-in-a-lifetime gift for the special someone in your life.



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Arts and the left-brain: high school edition

>I think I’ve mentioned to y’all that I never had any substantial arts education before college beyond flunking out of piano lessons in pre-school and the plastic, generic recorder in fourth grade at St. Henry’s School. Seriously, there was none until my college music appreciation class which I got absolutely nothing out of since I’m still musically illiterate. I did okay academically and in fact began my collegiate studies with the intention of majoring in engineering. Thankfully, I changed my major to Mass Communications and while focused on journalism, did put in a hefty number of hours in visual communications. 

I got to thinking about the value of arts education when I recently found studies that show that four years of art and or music in high school equate to higher performance on SAT’s as this chart shows.

In addition, students who take four years of some form of arts are far less likely to drop out of school. Seems to me Tennessee and federal lawmakers need to take heed of this when factoring in funding for the arts.

Need more than just a couple of charts?

The findings are consistant according to this 1999 article by AP writer Carl Hartman.  But a 1998 in-depth Harvard statistical study roundly disputes this broader claim and identified strong correlations in only three areas: 
     Listening to Music and Spatial-Temporal Reasoning
     Learning to Play Music and Spatial Reasoning
     Classroom Drama and Verbal Skills

The Harvard study makes one assertion that I think all educators and parents and policy makers should completely stand by, though: 

Let’s stop requiring more of the arts than of other subjects. The arts are the only school subjects that 
have been challenged to demonstrate transfer as a justification for their usefulness. If we required 
physical education to demonstrate transfer to science, the results might be no better, and 
probably would be worse. So, it is notable that the arts can demonstrate any transfer at all.”
I’m not telling you what to do but I plan to write my legislators – state and federal – and make sure they keep funding for arts education off the budget chopping block.  Personally and ideally, I see investing more heavily in the arts (globally) equating to lower costs for defense.  Hmmm.  Another good future blog study methinks! 

Tune in in the next few days for “Arts and the left-brain: corporate success edition.”