The Sight & Insight Podcast

Episode 35: Play in the Production of Paintings

"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves." Carl Jung 


A. T. Hibbard, Lane's Cove, oc, private collection

Creativity, as Jung says, is - or should be - a playful thing. A. T. Hibbard, the noted Cape Ann painter, would tell students that painting is 'hard work,' and that 'if you're not worn out when you're finished, you haven't been doing it right!' However, it is easy to see from any Hibbard painting that despite the hard work aspect, there has also been a playful element included in creating the design. The rhythm seen in a Hibbard scene, especially one of his plein air winter landscapes, shows that despite 'suffering for his work,' he also enjoyed himself immensely. The feeling of excitement and pleasure in the exhilarating moment of creation is easy to discern.

So how do we learn to play with our art? Join Connie, David and Judy as they look at different ways to improve your design creativity by changing the way you look and see things. For instance, what do you see below?


Or how about this?


Intriguing, right? How easily the mind can play tricks. Hope you enjoy this week's podcast, and it's not too late to sign up for Sunday's critique, February 24, three paintings person, with a brief introduction by Connie on the Voyage of Vision. Come join the fun. Refreshments will be served. Tuition $35.

Email to register. Location will be Gloucester, Massachusetts. Directions will be given on sign up.

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Have a great week.


Connie, David and Judy


Episode 34 A Voyage of Vision: From Right to Left and Back Again

"The creative act is not hanging on, but yielding to a new creative movement. Awe is what moves us forward." —Joseph Cambell

In today's episode, Connie introduces the two modes of thinking that work together, for an artist, when painting. Understanding how they work will enable you to become even more creative and, thus, more artistic!


Connie and David enjoy a great discussion on moving back and forth, from one side of the brain to the other, whereas Judy is apparently stuck in her cubicle and couldn’t even see the bridge from left to right, never mind finder her way to it! Perhaps she’s reading too much. She is currently absorbed in ‘M: The Man Who Became Caravaggio’ by Peter Robb.


Michelangelo Meriti da Caravaggio (1571-1610) Martha and Mary Magdalene, c. 1598, oc, 38 1/2 x 52 1/4, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI. PD-US. 

All this is a precursor to the Sight&Insight presentation and critique by Connie and David on February 24th. Stay tuned for how to reserve a seat. Space is limited. 

Generally, Connie says, the left side of the brain, the language side, dominates our thinking. But, as our resident artist and psychologist, Connie is going to give us some unique ways to help the "silent right side of the brain come out and do it's thing!" Sounds like a plan, Judy, for one, needs all the help she can get. In viewing the cartoon of both sides of the brain, she didn't even notice the bridges! 


In the meantime, happy February, and join us the week after next for the continuing saga of working with your brain for greater creativity: Episode 35, Play in the Production of Paintings. 


Judy, Connie and David

"Do not let it look as if you reasoned too much. Painting must be impulsive to be worth while." —Charles W. Hawthorne

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Episode 33: Sight and Insight - What does it really mean?

Greetings, Art Lovers, we're back!

We had hoped to be back right after the holidays but, unfortunately, a case of the sniffles kept us from getting together to record a podcast. However, everyone seems to be healthy again, so here we are to share some more thoughts with you about all things Art.

Today, our theme is Sight and Insight. It is the name of our podcast, as well as the idea behind David and Connie's workshops to help students take it to the next level.

“It is this perfect accuracy, this lack of play, of variety, that makes the machine-made article so lifeless. Wherever there is life there is variety, and the substitution of the machine-made for the hand-made article has impoverished the world to a greater extent than we are probably yet aware of. Whereas formerly, before the advent of machinery, the commonest article you could pick up had a life and warmth which gave it individual interest, now everything is turned out to such a perfection of deadness that one is driven to pick up and collect, in sheer desperation, the commonest rubbish still surviving from the earlier period.” ― Harold Speed, The Practice and Science of Drawing

So how do we, as artists, get more sight, and insight, into our work? We can study some of the great artists and teachers of bygone days.


Harold Speed, The Alcantara, Toledo, by Moonlight, 1894, Tate Britain, UK

David brings his years of experience as an artist and teacher to help with ways of 'seeing,' while our resident psychologist/artist, Connie, gives us some insight into what the word means in terms of the creative process.


Harold Speed, Old Tom, oil on canvas. 63.9 x 51 cm, Southampton City Art Gallery, UK, presented by the artist, 1930, #545

Can't get enough of us? Then look for our next episode two weeks from now. Yes, sorry about that. We know you like your weekly dose of the Sight and Insight Podcast, but various commitments in the upcoming weeks mean it is going to be hard for us to get together as often as we'd like. 

Until then, stay warm and happy painting.

Connie, David and Judy

"There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight." — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 


Happy Holidays 2018

Well, so much for posting a Christmas episode, Life has been so hectic, we didn't even get one done last week. Apologies to our fans, who we know, rely on us to keep the art talk going...! You'll just have to talk among your selves until after Christmas when, hopefully, we'll be back, gathered around the festive mic. 

In the meantime, we wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all good things for the new year.

Best of Good Wishes to All

for a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays 
Peace and Love


David P. Curtis, Silence, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 (detail)

And all the best for a great New Year!
David, Connie and Judy

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Episode 32 - Can you paint an effect of Light?

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"The sky is the source of light in Nature and it governs everything." – John Constable  


John Constable, Dedham Lock and Mill, c. 1818, oc 27 1/2 x 35 3/4 Private collection

Join Connie, David and Judy as they consider the question, "Can you paint an effect of light?" Obviously our two resident artists, David and Connie - as plein air painters - believe that is the whole point of American Impressionism and painting on location, is to capture that rare moment in time: an effect of light.

It is the prime motive for any artist wanting to work out of doors direct from nature. Judy waxes lyrical on the attributes of Leeds painter Atkinson Grimshaw, while Constable and Sorolla are also held up as masters of the light effect.


Atkinson Grimshaw, Park Row, Leeds 1882, oc 30 x 25 Leeds City Art Gallery


Atkinson Grimshaw, Scarborough by Moonlight, c 1876, ob 11 x 17. Private collection

"Light is a thing that cannot be reproduced, but must be represented by something else – by color." – Paul Cezanne

David poses the question, does movement represent light, or space? How do you create the optical illusion of an effect of light with color, brush and canvas? What do you think?

Of course, when it comes right down to it, perhaps the best purveyor of of Light is the Spanish Master, Sorolla and so we will leave the last word, or rather image, to him....


Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, The Carob Tree, 1898, oc 19 3/4 x 38 1/2. Private collection


Episode 31: Gestalt!

Have you got your Gestalt on?!

"There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear." Buffalo Springfield

Join Connie, David and Judy as they explore the idea of Gestalt; what it means and how it can help the artist create a better painting.

One of the great masters of Gestalt was Johannes Vermeer, who - as early as the 17th-century knew that a composition - or its properties, should be viewed as a whole. Variety within unity is the idea. 


Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632 – 1675) The Astronomer, c. 1668, oil on canvas, 20 x 18, Musee du Louvre, Paris

Gestalt is a German word meaning form, or shape, and Gestalt theory in terms of art refers to the concept of perception, holding that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. 

As human beings, we tend to try and organize our perceptions of a chaotic world. Thus as artists we can utilize several principles of gestalt to improve our painting:

1. Figure-ground - this refers to relationships between an object and its surroundings. Do we see the figure in front of us, or the background?

2. Closure - it is important to keep the viewer involved by completing an image or form. The principle of closure applies when we tend to see complete figures even when part of the information is missing.

3. Continuance - the viewer has a tendency to follow a path, river, beach, fence line, etc. These compositional elements give the viewer numerous ways to enter, and move around a painting.

4. Similarity - things which share visual characteristics such as shape, size, color, texture, or value will be seen as belonging together in the viewer’s mind. 

5. Proximity - The Gestalt law of proximity states "objects or shapes that are close to one another appear to form groups." Even if the shapes, sizes, and objects are radically different, they will appear as a group if they are close together.

As our resident psychologist explains it is possible to suffer from proximity flow, then we can lose the 3rd dimensional depth, leaving us with only 2 dimensions, which means our painting is all of one plane with no depth of field.

Think about your own painting compositions. Do you achieve 'variety within unity?' If not, it sounds like your gestalt needs tweaking. Tune in to learn more from David, Connie, and Judy.

"A cloudy sky to make it mysterious and a fog to increase the mystery. Just imagine how suggestive things are..." John H. Twachtman

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Episode 30 Jane Peterson

Episode 30 Jane Peterson: Artist Extraordinaire

“Sex has nothing to do with it at all. Art is one activity where being a woman is neither a help nor a hindrance. Even a woman’s intuition means nothing when she is facing a canvas.” - Jane Peterson

[quoted in J. Jonathan Joseph, Jane Peterson, An American Artist (Boston, 1981): 43. This is the primary source for biographical information on Peterson. For information on The Group see Jarzombek, “Mary Bradish Titcomb and her Contemporaries” in Mary Bradish Titcomb (1858-1927) / Fenway Studios (Boston: Vose, 1998).


Jane Peterson, Gloucester Harbor, oc, 30 x 40, private collection (Sold at auction for $520k in 2005, after estimated between $250,000-$350,000)

Artist Jane Peterson (1876-1965) was active in Massachusetts, New York, Kansas, IL., as well as Europe and North Africa. Born Jennie Christine in Elgin, IL., she changed her name (at the age of 33) to Jane Peterson; a name that now resonates through the art world as a talented and skillful artist of the finest caliber. She studied with some of the best-known instructors of the day, including Arthur Wesley Dow and Frank Vincent DuMond in New York, as well as with Frank Brangwyn in Venice and England. In addition, she learned from the master himself, Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida in Madrid. From Sorolla she learned to lighten her palette and heighten her chroma, while also painting rapidly to capture the fleeting effect of light. 

Like many women artists, Peterson went into teaching, becoming the Drawing Supervisor of the Brooklyn Public Schools. She continued to travel and paint as circumstances allowed, frequently working in North African countries such as Algeria and Egypt, until the outbreak of World War I. However, as soon as an Armistice was declared she resumed her travels, sojourning even farther afield in 1924, when she spent six months in Turkey, exploring Constantinople (Istanbul) and Broosa (Bursa), a daring and audacious undertaking for a woman voyaging alone.


Jane Peterson, Afternoon at the Market, c. 1910, oc, 24 x 30, private collection

Peterson was adept in oil painting, watercolor and gouache, which - being a quick drying medium - was highly practical for a traveling artist. 

She has been called an Impressionist, and an Expressionist as well as an Abstractionist, but Jane Peterson is not one to have her talents curtailed by a pigeonhole. She painted what she wanted, where she wanted and, in the recent Strokes of Genius: Women Artists of New England exhibition at the Rockport Art Association and Museum, it was obvious she could work in many styles, with each painting presenting a unique appearance and finish.

Often described as a 'vigorous realist,' who favored luscious color and bravura brushwork, perhaps the final word on Peterson's work should go to the critic of the Christian Science Monitor who, reviewing her solo show at Boston's St. Botolph Club on January 23, 1909, was moved to admit, “There is an athletic dash and swing to most of the paintings that is stimulating and captivating.” [quoted in Joseph, p. 27]

Captivating, indeed, and none more so than Peterson's oil paintings of Gloucester Harbor, Cape Ann.


Jane Peterson, An Old Pier, Gloucester, c. 1919, oc, 24 x 30, private collection

And on a final note:

Connie will be hosting an Open House at her studio, the weekend after Thanksgiving. Consider this your invitation....


Lorwen, Forsythia, oil, 24 x 20

Thanksgiving Weekend Open Studios
Lorwen ‘Connie’ Nagle invites you to see her latest paintings on 
November 24 & 25, 10am-5 pm, at Art On The Hill, 78 Government Street, Kittery, Maine

Art On The Hill


Episode 29: Nature’s Magnetism

Greetings, Art Lovers, and welcome to another edition of the Sight & Insight Podcast.

Well, as we all know Nature is very magnetic, and we aren't just talking about magnetic fields, from one pole to the other, repelling and attracting, but the strong draw that Nature, the great outdoors, exudes toward the plein air painter.


George Inness (1825-1894) Lake Nemi, 1872, oc 29 3/4 x 44 7/8 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of the Misses Hersey, 49.412

As that great artist, Aristotle, was heard to say, "In all things of Nature, there is something of the marvelous. Whether we are looking at the awe inspiring works of Frederic Edwin Church, who opened the eyes of the public to the great expansion of the American West - sights some Americans would never see for themselves - or the subtleties of nature portrayed by, say, George Inness, Nature exudes an allure - a captivatingness, that can mesmerize us. As Harold Speed once pointed out, trees in nature are much bigger than the imagination conjures up. From the macrocosm to the microcosm, Nature is all around us, seductive and enchanting, whether in a sprawling vista, or the urban grittiness of humanity's effect on the land. 


Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) Niagara Falls, from the American Side, 1867, oc, 101 3/8 x 100 13/16 in. Scottish National Gallery, Presented by John S. Kennedy, 1887, NG799

"Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them. — Marcus Aurelius


Episode 28 Is it Drawing First?

Greetings, art lovers, and welcome to another episode of the Sight & Insight Podcast with David and Judy Curtis, and Lorwen 'Connie' Nagle. This week we ask 'Is it Drawing or Painting First?

"Drawing is the artist's most direct and spontaneous expression, a species of writing: it reveals, better than does painting, his true personality." — Edgar Degas

In the beginning, Judy relates an anecdote about Boston painter, Polly Thayer Starr, who was talented from her childhood with graphite and charcoal. She spent her first year at the Boston Museum School studying anatomy and life drawing with Philip Leslie Hale, but when she began painting in her second year with Leslie Thompson, she found herself adrift, unable to understand the texture, viscosity and application of color and paint.

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Polly Thayer Starr, Flat Cat

David and Connie, as practicing artists and teachers have their own viewpoints on the subject and, for once, they differ in opinion. Will they come to blows, or agree to disagree? Is it different for individual students. Does drawing ability even matter? Join our intrepid trio to to hear what they have to say. And if you have other thoughts, don't hesitate to let them know! They always love to hear from fans....

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Note how French Neoclassical painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) made drawings before beginning to paint a larger work.

Left: Ingres, Preparatory drawing; graphite and white highlights on paper, 1842.

Right: Ingres, Portrait of Comtesse d'Haussonville, 1845, 51.89 x 35.83 in. The Frick Collection, New York

So what do you think? Is drawing with a brush too awkward? Can you paint a landscape, or still life, or interior, without a sense of perspective? Perhaps, as Cezanne says, we need a sense of both drawing and painting. 

"Drawing and colour are not separate at all; in so far as you paint, you draw. The more the colour harmonizes, the more exact the drawing becomes." — Paul Cezanne

Don't forget to click the follow button, so you can be a part of the group. Connie, Judy and David love to know you are out there. 


Episode 27 The Element of Surprise

"Surprise is key in all art." — Oscar Niemeyer

The Element of Surprise!

Did you miss us?! We hope so. You know what they say - absence makes the heart grow fonder! But we've finished our travels for a while and we are back around the coffee table sharing ideas, encouraging an interest in the Arts and, hopefully, inspiring you to go out and paint for yourself.


John Singer Sargent, Dolce Far Niente, c 1907, o/c 16.25 x 28.25 in. Brooklyn Museum, NY 

Today we are talking about the element of surprise, or 'the happy accident.' From John Singer Sargent to Bob Ross, the ability to take the odd note, or mis-stroke and turn it into an integral part of your design - an element you perhaps hadn't thought of before - is a vital part of the creative process. So shake off the entropy, get out of autopilot, and let your creative juices run....

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Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931) Left: Spanish Dancer at the Moulin Rouge, c. 1905, oil on canvas, 49 ¼ x 40 ⅛, pc Right: Woman at the Piano, 1870, oil on panel, 6 x 5 ⅛, pc.

Just look how Boldini uses semi abstract brush work in the beginning from which 'happy accidents' he draws out the reality of his subject. Critics described his his style as 'slashing, rapier-like brushstrokes.'

If you have enjoyed this episode, don't forget to join us next week for another edition of the Sight & Insight Podcast with Connie Nagle, David Curtis and Judith Curtis. In the meantime, why not hit the Follow button and help us to greater heights for the good of Art.

"In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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