July 20, 2010


Josef Albers | Growing, Oil on Masonite 1940

This summer it's Josef Albers. Last summer it was mussel shells and fisherman's knots, the summer before that it was Alex Katz. In the summer, I try to find a couple of weeks where my pace of life slows down. In fact, I force it. And, this usually happens when I head to Maine to visit friends. Swan's Island is small and perfect. No shopping excursions, no fancy restaurants or bustling beaches. It's all about woodland walks to soft sandy coves, combing the rocks, picking blueberries and wildflowers, bike rides, cooking, and the major thing—aside from Scrabble or Bananagrams—is creating. Whether it's painting, sculpture, collecting, sketching, or photography, everyone has their thing.

Josef Albers | Homage to the Square {left to right} 1950, 1951 and 1955

In a completely organic way, I decide what might be my inspiration each year. Albers is it this year. And, the reason is simply color + shape. Swan's Island itself and all that I adventure to see on it, holds more of an organic shape—perhaps not as architectural as Alber's Homage to The Square series—but I will see islands of color, indeed.

Josef Albers | Related A. Oil on Canvas 1937 and Josef Albers | In Open Air. Oil on Masonite 1936

Last summer, we collected large bins of knots on the rocky shore and sorted them by color. We also participated in creating art from the burned pages of books salvaged from the Swan's Island Library fire that became part of a rebuilding, benefit exhibition called New Pages.

We were inspired by the large, sun-washed mussel shells that cover the rocky beach. Shown here glued to an interesting piece of driftwood... and below that, blocks of wood being assembled by my friend Jane in a Louise Nevelson sort of way.

The summer before that, I was inspired by an Alex Katz show at The Farnsworth and the loss of my oldest friend's mother. I made this little Katz-inspired collage titled, Nan.

The beach we comb is covered with perfectly smooth rocks from the pounding surf, and we paint a lot of them. It's a simple meditation to mix paint and cover a rock, and a summer tradition from as far back as I can remember. I will celebrate these days with my best friends and perhaps pay homage to Albers... a rock, a collage—we'll see!

All Josef Albers work is from the catalogue of an exhibition held at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1988.


  1. Barbara you have life's priorities in check, this world would be a better place if we all forced ourselves to must the same. You amaze me with your wisdom and creativity. I'm taken with the burnt book pages art & the art of 'Nan'. After reading this all I want to do is hit the beach & while away the hours creatively. Not sure if that last sentence works, but sounded good?! I can smell the salt air now. Take many photos & share your art & above all, relax. xoxo deb

  2. Deb, you are an absolute gem! I wish you could come with us. I see the house is listed... oh my, are you Scotland bound? I promise to email directly soon with an update and to hear yours as well! I'm so looking forward to this little break ; ) oxo B

  3. What a great post! You and Janie will have so much fun. I'm jealous!!


    I love albers too. You should see the collage I made today -quite Albers-esque!

  4. I saw that Alex Katz exhibit at the Farnsworth. They have such good shows there.

  5. Angie - Ides... is the collage on your site? Would love to see it. xx

    mamacita... I love the Farnsworth! There's another Alex Katz show this summer through December. ; )

  6. Hear hear! Savor the summer! It's so important to take time out to be creative and recharge...


I love reading your comments. And, I thank you so much for visiting!