When I first painted in watercolor...
It was during my high school years when I began to paint big pictures on newsprint, the color blooming out in unexpected shapes. I was pleased and surprised by the remarkable effect water has on a few centimeters of pigment... first a blurring of water and color, then something fluxing and taking form on the page like a primeval butterfly emerging from an unassuming cocoon.
Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
I arrived in Brooklyn in September 1957 as a commuting student in the Department of Graphic Arts & Illustration (where the Bauhaus influenced the curriculum during that first year). After a struggle with a wide variety of tasks presented to freshmen, I found in subsequent years two strands of expression, word and image, almost equally appealing. There was a third strand as well, not then part of Pratt’s curriculum but which went on to be so: the Dance Workshop under the tutelage of Pauline Tish, of whom I’ve written in one of the blog posts.
It is such a pleasure to have this blog where I can talk about whatever appeals, how the art impulse carries one into many avenues, including the larger subject of nature itself. I’ve illustrated the blog for the most part with my own photos. The title refers to the name my granddaughter, and now her little brother, call me: Nya Nya.
Pen + Brush
I am a member of the Pen + Brush, a non-profit women's organization of visual artists, writers and performing artists, now in its 120th year. Pen + Brush was originally situated in an historic townhouse in Greenwich Village and is now relocated to a beautiful new space in the Flatiron district in New York City (the formal opening taking place in early 2015). During the years when I was a member of the Board of Directors, I wrote a column for the members' newsletter on aspects of a writer's and an artist's life. I’m looking forward to submitting work to Pen + Brush exhibits in the coming year.
International Women’s Writing Guild
For many years I worked for and with another women's arts organization: the International Women's Writing Guild (IWWG), founded by Hannelore Hahn in the 1970s. In 1991, I called the Guild to ask about poetry and copyrighting, and was invited to visit Hannelore and her then-assistant, a wonderful English woman, Margaret Parker...following that, going on to join the staff, working alongside Hannelore and Margaret, and Hannelore's daughter, Elizabeth, for 20 years: a time of kindred spirits and inspiring events. I did copyediting and proofreading for the Guild’s magazine, Network, and have done freelance editing work here in Connecticut.
Photographs and paintings and poetry
I have written a kind of journal poetry over the years, some of which will be included in blog posts, the blog as a kind of diary. And I’ve taken a lot of photographs this year...certain mysteries of light and reflection discovered in photography seem very similar to the experience of painting in watercolor. More paintings and photographs are being added to the website. Prints, in matted and framed form, will be available as well.
I had a grandfather, Louis Fleming (who died when I was only 13). He was an artist with much skill and taste in the realms of book illustration and fine lettering, his earliest work dated back to the 1890s. A self-taught artist whose mother died when he was only 14, he went to work on a newspaper as an illustrator at that young age. (He often told us that since there were no photographers rushing out to take pictures when news happened, a newspaper illustrator was often summoned to the task.) His brothers, Frank, Joe and Thomas, quite a bit older than him, all worked in related areas of printing and illustration and art (one, a political cartoonist) but Lou (known as Papa in our family) came into their world of work at so young an age. The more I know about him, the more I wish I had been able to speak to him in my adult mode. But something seems to reverberate which keeps our ancestors still present, like a distant vibration, in our own lives.
My parents as well as my grandparents and aunts and uncles, were an intelligent bunch, big readers, one and all, interested in art, writing, and, very much so, humor. I keep thinking of them lately, finding in my “archival” boxes letters that they wrote, or that people wrote to them; quandaries they were dealing with, their natures threading themselves through my thoughts so frequently, much more so than when they were alive and I was thinking of other things. Their own early years were crimped by the Depression in the USA, none able to go to college, for example, yet all had the instincts and capabilities that would have been so agreeable therein.
The wonderful thing for me is that my two daughters, Liana and Daria, are imbued with many of the same traits as my family gone by, it’s as if they are still here threading themselves forward. My daughters are wonderful friends that I am so lucky to have in my life, but I felt this even when they were tiny little girls. A photo of the three of us in their younger years appears here.
Alexandra Kittle, Alexandra K. Sellon, Alexandra Sellon
AKS, AKSellon, Alexandra Kittle, Alexandra Fleming Kittle