Five Questions for GAIL DEVINE

Artspan sits down with eclectic artist Gail Devine

Your work is so varied in subject and medium–as you yourself say, you “jump all over the place”–but it all has the sort of strange perfect honesty I associate with outsider art. I see Bill Traylor’s “exciting events” in some of your pictures of people.  What artists have inspired you? Which painters, musicians, filmmakers, do you admire?

Having Fun

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Group Show: Digital Art

Eight Artspan artists explore the endless possibilities of digital art.


“I have spent an inordinate amount of time in dark, airless rooms pursuing an unforgiving, somewhat inflexible and completely seductive muse in my quest to create traditional film based photographs. However, one cannot be a Luddite forever, and recently I embraced the digital realm which is challenging, forgiving and liberating with its almost endless array of shooting and editing options that enables practitioners to more completely fulfill one’s vision.

With my darkroom work, many of my images were unique given the variables of the chemical based process. With my digital work, I am still amazed that once I finalize the image, I can create an endless number of exact prints. Which is part of my philosophical issue with digital, it still seems like I am cheating a bit.  But I am, as they say, having a blast learning the digital realm.”

 Elephant and Camel

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Inspiration: Mary Ann Willson


We know just enough about Mary Ann Willson that we want to know more. What little we know about Willson comes from two anonymous letters and a short biography in Richard Lionel De Lisser’s Picturesque Catskills, Greene County, which was first published in 1894. We know that she lived in the early nineteenth century, we know that she was one of the earliest American watercolor painters, we know that her style was untaught, naive, primitive. We know that she and her friend “Miss Brundadge” moved from Connecticut to the wilds of New York State, bought a few acres and lived in a log cabin.


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Five Questions for SUSAN SORRELL HILL

An interview with painter and illustrator Susan Sorrell Hill.
When I was little, the illustrations in certain books gave me so much pleasure I would pore over them for hours, and the characters became almost as real as friends. Did you have books like that? What were they? Which artists have inspired your work?
Head Tossing
There weren’t many picture books around when I was growing up, so my exposure to imagery and stories came from comic books, the Sunday funnies, a dry encyclopedic set of folk tales illustrated with line drawings, and magazine features like National Geographic’s spreads on Egyptian artifacts and the Bayeux Tapestry. I did love libraries though, and I was a huge fan of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. It wasn’t until college that I discovered—a revelation!—the world of picture books, where words and pictures are so delightfully intertwined. Much later, because of an interest in Jungian psychology, I began reading folk and fairy tales and understanding that they were much more than simple entertainment. I have stories that I pore over now as an adult, and the majority of artists that I admire are from what has been called the Golden Age of Illustration: Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Beatrix Potter, Aubrey Beardsley and others. There are contemporary illustrators that I am in awe of too, including Lisbeth Zwerger, Gennady Spirin, Angela Barrett, Maurice Sendak and Edward Gorey. On the Fine Art side of influences, I’m drawn to artists who have used line, color and composition masterfully to tell stories on a larger scale, including Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, Gustaf Klimt, and Andrew Wyeth. There are so many past and present narrative-inspired artists working in both intimate and large scale…truly a feast for an artist’s soul.

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What a Strange World We Live In

Four Artspan photographers share their strange new worlds.

Roots – Valerie Burke

People greeted the earliest photographs with wonder and amazement because of their ability to faithfully reproduce reality. No other art form had enabled us to recreate nature exactly as it is, to provide us with a true and accurate record of an exact instant in time. Of course it wasn’t long before artists realized they could manipulate the image, so that it was no longer quite so accurate or true, but the world they shared was more interesting, more beautiful. In 1841 Henry Fox Talbot stated, “It would hardly be believed how different an effect is produced by a longer or shorter exposure to the light, and, also, by mere variations in the fixing process, by means of which almost any tint, cold or warm, may be thrown over the picture, and the effect of bright or gloomy weather may be imitated at pleasure. All this falls within the artist’s province to combine and regulate.”

And yet these manipulated images still retained the authority of every photographic image. We believe it because we see it, in print or on our computer screen, we accept that this really happened, at least some part of it. As James Agee wrote, “It is clear enough by now to most people that ‘the camera never lies’ is a foolish saying. Yet it is doubtful whether most people realize how extraordinarily slippery a liar the camera is.”

And it didn’t take long for these subtle manipulations to become more overt and more creative, for Man Ray to create a smiling sky, or Melies to make a trip to the moon. For artists to share with us new, beautiful, impossible worlds, which still seem, somehow, on some level, to hold on to that photographic truth.

Fertility – Laura J. Bennett

Four Artspan photographers share their strange new worlds with us.

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