Saturday, December 16, 2017

Art from the Heart

By Jeff Blum

My Aunt Rosel died at 89 in October.  My mother’s younger and only sister, she had shocked her parents by marrying someone “out of town.”  She lived almost her entire adult life in one house in Lynchburg, VA, where she became a civic, Democratic, education and Jewish community leader.  She also was an inveterate maker of crafts and preserver of family history; her widower, Uncle Elliot, was a business and political leader who also did delightful watercolors.

On the morning of her funeral, restless, I took an early walk through downtown Lynchburg.  Like most older industrial cities, Lynchburg has the usual mix of urban decay and a little bit of new, artsy growth – something Ro worked hard to create.  

Lynchburg is in a steep valley of the James River in the Piedmont of Central Virginia.  Looking downhill and away from the sun, I saw a huge cascade of mist coming off the river – first picture.  But then looking toward the rising sun, second picture, I saw a stunning view that immediately said to me, “there’s Ro, ascending to heaven [admittedly a highly unlikely prospect for a lifelong, practicing Jew].”  

Over the next month, I worked in my studio class with my teacher, Anne Chandra, 

Anne pushes me toward abstraction – she’s had me do works in the styles of Kandinsky and Rothko, or to take a piece of a famous painting, rotate it, and create something from that.   The Ro picture profits from some of the technical skills she’s helped me toward – like mixing wet colors on the canvass with my finger, and using zinc white to create translucence. 

The painting below is one of the first that I’ve been able to do in which the feeling, more than the scene, drove the concept.  It represents a breakthrough for me – it expresses me more than just about anything else I’ve done.  I’m thrilled that it will hang in her son Steve’s house.  

Jeff Blum, a lifelong community organizer, took up painting upon retiring from his last full-time job, seeking an activity to share with his mother.  Working mainly in acrylic and watercolor, he is currently focused on abstracted realism.  

No comments: