Art, Realistic Painting, Content and Quirkyalone

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Pansies
Oil on Canvas
24” x 36”
Mary Baker © 2004

The realistic painting in this post, “Pansies,” could there be a better example of “Quirkyalone?”

Here is this lovely pot of pansies sitting on a stoop on an early spring Newburyport, New England day, bathed in light, obviously utterly content in its solitude. Not schmaltzy, sentimental happy, but content.

My father, who is 88, could be considered quirkyalone. He has a lovely lady-friend, and the ladies still love him, but he has lived alone for the last 16 years and seems quite satisfied.

One of the things my father loves, loves, loves to do is go out for dinner alone. He lives in New York City so there are a lot of great places to dine. When I am in New York with him and we go out to eat, everybody seems to know him and he knows them.

My father will go and sit at a table or sometimes at the bar and order dinner. He will ask the waiters and waitresses and bartenders about their day and their lives with genuine curiosity and care. And he will often give me updates on who is doing what. No wonder he always gets seated.

My father is also one of my biggest art encouragers as an artist. I am incredibly lucky to have my Dad. Qurikyalone and quite content.

Mary Baker

(Editor’s note: I just found out that “Quirkyalone” is a book by Sasha Cagen, written in 2004. I’ve just gone to the bookstore and bought a copy and am about to sit down with a cup of tea and read it.)

(Editor’s Note: Please do not use any image that belongs to Mary Baker. It is a copyright infringement and it is against the law. I have found at least one image on another site, used without my permission, in a way that is unacceptable. The image has not been removed, and I am not pleased.

Unfortunately this forces me to put copyright information across the art images, which ruins it for everyone who would like to see the paintings. Mary Baker)

Art, Realistic Painting, Quirkyalone

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Day Lily
Oil on Paper
9” x 18”
Mary Baker © 2005

Can you tell I’m quite taken by this whole notion of “Quirkyalone.” I think it’s very cool.

So much of my life as an artist, for me requires being alone, and I often wonder if I’m just not odd. The art-incubation part of my own creative process seems to necessitate lots and lots of time alone. And it is so nice to find folks out there in web-land who have come up with this phrase and idea of “Quirkyalone.” I just love it.

Many, many of my paintings are about the enjoyable part of solitude. Take “Day Lily” at the top of the page. Now there’s your ordinary flower, at least in the Northeast in Massachusetts it’s an ordinary flower, but in the realistic painting it seems quite at home with itself.

And in this realistic painting, the “Day Lily” is transformed out of its ordinary state. It seems ignited in the darkness, with all its beautiful lines and veins shining through. Its solitude, if you will, is a beacon in the darkness.

“Day Lily” is another one of my favorite Contemporary Realism realistic paintings.

Mary Baker

Art, Artists, Quirkyalone

I love being alone. I love working alone. I love walking alone. I love cooking alone. I love watching movies and TV alone. I love going to art museums and art galleries alone.

I consider myself my own best friend. No one knows as much about me as I do.

The older I get, the more I like to be alone.

I was beginning to think I was really nuts. And then I came across these folks in web-land who also like to be alone, and the name that has come about is “Quirkyalone.”

That made my day. Because as far as I can figure out, I’m just inherently like this and I like it that way. Now society says I’m not supposed to like it that way, but I do, which is very handy for an artist.

“Quirkyalone” doesn’t mean lonely, or a hermit, or single, it simply means liking to be alone and being that comfortable with yourself.

This really, really works for me. What a relief.

Mary Baker

Recipes for Artists, Mexican Meals

Well boys and girls, this recipe is a real keeper and easy, easy, easy and so versatile.

Mexican meals in all sorts of ways.

The Base:

Two onions, chopped and cooked in canola oil until wilted. Add 2 lbs hamburger or a little less, one and a half pounds is good too. A teaspoon of salt for each pound of hamburger and then, depending on how spicy you like it, 1-4 tablespoons (yes, that’s the big spoon) of chili powder. Poke the hamburger to divide it up as much as possible and cook until hamburger is done. Cooking the hamburger should take about 5-10 minutes.

Then add one large can of whole (peeled please) tomatoes. Poke the tomatoes to divide them up too and simmer for 15-20 minutes. And viola, a delicious base Mexican meal base.

All the things you can do with your Mexican base to make all sorts of Mexican meals:

1) Add a can of red pinto beans and yes, viola again, you have chili. Serve straight or over rice (get the “boil a bag rice”, done in 10 minutes and if wrapped in Saran wrap keeps for quite a while and you can make the “boil a bags” in bunches) with shredded Monterey Jack cheese (already shredded in a bag.)

If you have time and want to get real fancy you can add some or all (you can do this with the tacos too) : chopped onions, chopped black olives, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, chopped avocado, salsa.

2) Tacos. Get tacos, again shredded Monterey Jack cheese and chop lettuce and tomatoes. Put together with the meat at the bottom. A little salsa on top is easy and quick too. See above for fancy extras. Quick, quick, quick and so good. And yes, has all the food groups.

3) My favorite, an enchilada casserole. Get large can of enchilada sauce and corn tortillas. In one of those round glass baking dishes, put a little enchilada sauces on the bottom. Put one corn enchilada (basically what you are doing here is making a Mexican lasagna) more sauce to cover enchilada. Put meat base on top and then a good dosing of Monterey Jack cheese.

Cover 2-3 corn tortillas in the enchilada sauce. Put on top. More meat, more Monterey Jack cheese. Last layer, 1-3 tortillas coated in enchilada sauce again, top with rest of the Monterey Jack cheese and drizzle some of that leftover enchilada sauce over it. Cook at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until bubbling. Don’t burn it for goodness sakes.

Top secrete information – let it cool and then serve individual portions. Same principle as “tastes better the next day.”

© Mary Baker, artist who loves really good recipes for Mexican meals.

Art, Realistic Painting, Rose and Fence

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Rose and Fence
Oil on Paper
16″ x 10″
Mary Baker © 2004

I like this painting “Rose and Fence.” I like it because it’s a painting of a pink rose but it’s not sentimental. Personal preference, I’m not big on sentimental paintings.

It’s also a Contemporary Realism painting because of the composition.

The white columns of the fence come from all the time I spent in the Whitney Museum of Art looking at Minimalist paintings like those of Kenneth Noland and Minimalist sculpture like those of Donald Judd. The modernist compositions have stuck solidly in my art unconscious. I also have a “yen” for those compositions, wanting to see them reappear in realist paintings all over the place.

It seems to me as if this beautiful pink rose is somehow escaping from jail, peeking its head between the fence posts, yearning for the sun. The fence in the painting has a jail like quality about it…possibly not so good for sales?

That luscious rose seems lonely. No other roses around, not even any leaves.

But the flower seems quite capable of existing by itself, if that is what is required, thank you very much. A realistic flower with chutzpah?

And that hint of shadowed, somewhat foreboding clapboards between the fence posts. Is it escaping from a dark and spooky home, hoping for the sunlight? Seems that way.

Hopefully that lovely pink rose has a lush, fecund, feminine quality about it — female anatomy and all.

I like this painting of a Contemporary Realist realistic flower painting.

Mary Baker

Recipes for Artists

I love to eat well, but at the end of the day I don’t feel much like cooking.

What I almost always do is make a large batch of something that tastes good and is good for me at the beginning of the week so there is always something delicious and nutritious at the end of the day. Whoever is around eats what I eat.

So one of the things I thought I would do on this art blog is share recipes for artists. Something easy and quick to make and that you can look forward to eating. It also saves a whole lot of money that can be used for other things.

Lasagna, the really, really easy version:

What I made this week was lasagna. So easy, the secrete ingredient is garlic, that minced garlic that they now have in little jars, great stuff.

Get the lasagna that you do not have to boil. Decent looking spaghetti sauce, medium jar. One medium size cottage cheese and one medium size ricotta cheese. A packet of shredded mozzarella cheese and some parmesan cheese. Yes, and that minced garlic in a jar, don’t forget that minced garlic.

Mix the ricotta cheese and cottage cheese and about a third of the garlic in a bowl and add maybe a half an egg or a whole egg, it doesn’t really matter.

A glass rectangular baking pan (you can get these at places like Walmart cheap.) Put some of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom. Put three of the lasagna strips side by side. Put half of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and half the mozzarella. Put a little more spaghetti sauce on, three more lasagna strips, the rest of the cheese mixture, parmesan cheese and more mozzarella. Top with three more strips of lasagna, spaghetti sauce, parmesan cheese and the rest of the mozzarella.

After doing this once, it will probably take you all of 10 minutes to put it together. Enough for a lot of meals.

Cook at 350 for 30 minutes to an hour or until it bubbles. Don’t let it burn.

Big secrete. Let it cool first, and then reheat pieces as you want them. The same principle as “food always tastes better the next day.”

More complicated version:

A filling.

Two onions chopped. Cook on medium heat in canola oil until limp. Add one pound or so of hamburger. Throw in some oregano, thyme and maybe garlic salt. When that’s cooked add one large can of diced tomatoes. Yes and some more of that minced garlic in a jar. Simmer maybe 10-15 minutes.

Even fancier:

When you add the diced tomatoes, add some chopped up zucchini, maybe 2 zuchinnis, a chopped green pepper or two and a small packet of regular sliced mushrooms. Don’t forget that minced garlic. Simmer this version a little longer maybe 20-30 minutes.

Layer in after the cheese. This last one includes everything. Meat, veggies, calcium, starch…all the food groups. You’re good to go. After you do it once, should take you about 45 minutes on the fancier and fanciest version, but it’s yummy and it’s worth it, I think.

Mary Baker © 2006

Realistic Art, Painting, Flowers and Roses

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Rose
Oil on Paper
7” x 8”
Mary Baker © 2005

It all started last summer. I wanted to tile my basement floor, but it was too expensive, so I painted “faux” tiles and they looked great. I never “fauxed” anything, although I know a lot of my fellow artists are very good at “fauxing” all kinds of things. This was new to me, so I decided to try it out on my flower paintings.

I had been painting flowers with dark backgrounds to make them “pop.” But one of the things I found that was very discouraging, was that people were taking photographs of flowers, putting dark backgrounds on them in Photoshop, and then printing them on canvas. Doing them in short order and selling them of course for “peanuts.” (I have this love – hate relationship with Photoshop, but more on that maybe another time.)

It also seemed that everywhere I looked that summer, “spas” were popping up all over the place. People were building huge bathrooms and calling them “spas.” And in my little town there seemed to be new “spas” everywhere.

So one of the things that crossed my mind was what kind of flower painting would be a “spa” flower painting? And I thought well, why don’t you try some of that “faux” stuff that you learned painting “faux” tiles on your basement floor on some flower paintings. That might be cool.

And they would be much harder to duplicate in Photoshop too, I hope.

So at the top of this post is a rose bud I painted with a dark background, which I love. And at the bottom of this post is a pink rose with a “faux,” “spa” background, which I think is pretty interesting. And the new “spa flowers,” as I am now calling them, are fun to paint, especially when I want to take a break from painting landscapes.

Mary Baker

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Pink Rose
Oil on Panel
8” x 10”
Mary Baker © 2006

(Editor’s Note: Please do not use any image that belongs to Mary Baker. It is a copyright infringement and it is against the law. I have found at least one image on another site, used without my permission, in a way that is unacceptable. The image has not been removed, and I am not pleased.

Unfortunately this forces me to put copyright information across the art images, which ruins it for everyone who would like to see the paintings. Mary Baker)

Art Blogs and Artist Websites 2

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Sunflower 1
Oil on Canvas
18” x 24”
Mary Baker © 2005

Originally when I started my artist’s blog I was afraid that people would confuse it with my artist website, Mary Baker Art. And I decided that I would stick with a generic looking blog in hopes that people would figure out that they could visit my artist website.

And I also decided that I wouldn’t put pictures on my artist blog because it seemed to take away from the text. And I also fiddle around with different ways to personalize my website and none of them seemed to look as good as the Word Press Kubric default blog.

Well that was way back in early December 2005, and I’ve learned a lot since then.

One of the things that’s happened is my artist blog, at this point, gets 10 times as much traffic as my art website. So obviously most people weren’t clicking on the links to my art website. That had me thinking that maybe it might be a good idea to rethink things.

I found a Word Press theme that was based on my earlier Word Press blog that allowed me to fairly easily customize my art blog. My goal was to have some of the same colors of my artist website, but hopefully people will know that this is an art blog and if they want more information about Mary Baker’s paintings they can go to her website Mary Baker Art.

Once I chose the new colors I then decided to try putting up some of my art work on the blog, and with the new color scheme they looked much better. The artwork seemed to compliment the posts instead of distracting from the blog text.

I am still working on how to make the artwork load faster. And when I figure that one out, I’ll be very happy.

So you can see there is one of my paintings at the top of this post. And if you would like to know more, please visit my website Mary Baker Art.

Mary Baker

(Editor’s Note: Please do not use any image that belongs to Mary Baker. It is a copyright infringement and it is against the law. I have found at least one image on another site, used without my permission, in a way that is unacceptable. The image has not been removed, and I am not pleased.

Unfortunately this forces me to put copyright information across the art images, which ruins it for everyone who would like to see the paintings. Mary Baker)

Art, Realistic Painting, Flowers

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Geraniums
Oil on Canvas
24” x 36 “
Mary Baker © 2006

In 2003 I started to paint flowers in my neighborhood. I live in the seacoast town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, in Newburyport’s historic district. My neighborhood is full of wonderful old houses with gardens and flowers along the streets.

I did a bunch of flower paintings, but people seem to resonate more with the landscapes I am doing, so I’ve gone back to painting landscapes. But I love painting the flower paintings.

The last one I finished is called “Geraniums” and there is a picture of that painting at the top of this post.

The painting is of a basket of geraniums that I saw sitting on a stoop in front of one of the houses near where I live in Newburyport, Massachusetts. And I thought the basket of geraniums was beautiful.

And what I love about this painting is the composition. It is definitely a Contemporary Realism composition.

The background is almost abstract. The vertical dark line of the door on the left of the painting. The center vertical white (it isn’t actually white, there are all kinds of colors in there) band in the middle. And then the horizontal yellow stripes on the right hand side.

And the very sharp geometric pattern contrasts with the soft, curvilinear lines of the geraniums and the leaves, setting up what I think is a nice visual tension.

It’s a fairly sophisticated composition, but the painting itself still remains beautiful.

Mary Baker

Art, Realistic Paintings and Artistic Pathways

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Azaleas
Oil on Canvas,
18” x 24 “
Mary Baker © 2006

I think for the first time in my artistic career I’m not sure where I’m going. And I find this very disconcerting.

It’s not that I’m artistically blocked, I just don’t know where the artistic pathway is going to lead.

In my studio I am now working on 8 landscapes. The painting “Azaleas,” at the top of this post is the first one I finished.

What I’ve realized is that all the paintings have pathways in them. I realized this a few weeks ago. I find this very interesting — it certainly wasn’t planned that way. I guess the pathway in “Azaleas” leads to something beautiful, so that’s encouraging.

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Morning Glory and Road
Oil on Paper
7.5” x 17”
Mary Baker © 2004

When I was doing flower paintings I did a painting called “Morning Glory and Road.” It’s probably one of my favorite paintings. I like the haunted quality that it has. And I like the fact that it has a path in it, but the pathway is certainly somewhat ambiguous and I don’t think the viewer, including me, has much idea of where it’s going to lead. Is it going to lead away from the Morning Glory into who knows what? Or is it going to lead from this bright, almost ignited flower to other bright places?

Mary Baker

(Editor’s Note: Please do not use any image that belongs to Mary Baker. It is a copyright infringement and it is against the law. I have found at least one image on another site, used without my permission, in a way that is unacceptable. The image has not been removed, and I am not pleased.

Unfortunately this forces me to put copyright information across the art images, which ruins it for everyone who would like to see the paintings. Mary Baker)