Sunday, March 21, 2010

Putting My Hand to It

"My First Bird" Work in Satin, Peggy Love 2010"

"The Cook's Last Meal" Mixed-Media, Peggy Love 2010

It has been a month since I took the plunge. A month of seeking a sense of direction and exploring creative impulses. In truth, it has mostly been a month of just plain fun. At this point I'm not taking anything I turn out too serious. It is more giving head to whatever comes.

A couple of works-in-progress that have "come" include a mixed-media work tentatively titled "The Cook's Last Meal". It's a quasi-needle sculpted doll, stuffed, but not wired, no painted face as yet - not sure if it is calling for one. At first I was building it around a doll head I'd created sometime ago from Cernet clay, but it took on another feel; a need to be mounted on canvas with a story to tell. The dear old cook, after one too many hot days in the kitchen has keeled over on the kitchen floor. I think she'll be able to get up ... at least the hope is that she will, but she, along with her faithful old trivet, are at the moment down for the count.

"My First Bird", on the other hand, is ready for flight. The inspiration came from a thrift store find - a thick book of vintage satin fabric swatches - that were just begging for some special use. Thus, my first attempt at creating a stuffed bird. I drew and cut out a patten, rattled through my boxes of sewing notions, and let the imagination fly. What fun!

Otherwise, I am writing. Actually I'm taking a few creative writing courses to bolster my confidence and expand my skills (I hope). The triggers and the cracking of the shell of new ideas is fabulous. The words are starting to just pour forth. I'm so grateful.

That's my update. I can only hope next month is as productive and holds as much fun!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Leroy W. Allen; The Man, The Artist, The Brother

Partial image of 'Papa Jim', Leroy W. Allen, on cover of Studio Museum of Harlem Spring 2002 program

First Anniversary of 9/11 issue of Kansas City Star with watercolor by Leroy W. Allen titled 'Closer Still'

'Jessica' watercolor, Leroy W. Allen (Private Collection, Copyright J.Clark and L. Allen)

Leroy W. Allen

The Man
Coming upon this third anniversary of the death of my brother, Leroy Allen, it is the bittersweet savor of the depths of his gift as an artist, the strength of his character as a man, the love he exuded as a father, son, brother and uncle that has taken on a radiant new light for all the world to see which touches me, his sister, most.

He was a quiet, private man, who loved with the force of an ocean, was unashamed to show his gentleness, was fiercely loyal and who lived by the code that his word was his bond.

That is the Leroy we knew, and is slowly becoming the one so many others now see through the pictures he created and the words he left behind.

The Artist

There were many facets to his art. He had award winning works in oils, watercolors, pastels and pencil and charcoal. He became a noted figurative artist, but also created a body of works in still life and landscapes. His art can be found in the collections of major corporations such as Sprint, in galleries such as The Nerman Gallery of Contemporary Art, and in national fine art tours. The Kansas City Star's first anniversary of 9/11 issue was a full page watercolor of Leroy's titled Closer Still.

In several instances though, his figurative characters were members of the family. His celebrated piece, Papa Jim, is a nearly life sized charcoal drawing of our maternal grandfather, a Mississippi farmer. Another watercolor, titled By Faith, is of an elderly aunt who was blind whom he asked if she would trust him and remove her dark glasses so he could capture her essence on canvas.

Yet another extremely poignant watercolor work titled Jessica is of a beautiful little girl about to participate in a wedding, but the story behind the painting is that he poured his love and grief for our mother, following her death, into every single stroke, down to and including the shining light reflected off her tiny patten leather shoes.

Brother, Father, Son and Uncle

It is the love of this man and for this man that we, his family, celebrate his living now. He was truly our blessing.

Papa Jim is included in the fine art tour Southern Journeys (click on the second gallery image) which is just being launched by ExhibitsUSA. I had the inexpressible pleasure of seeing the drawing of Papa Jim for the first time again in December 2009 since approximately a year before Leroy's death in 2007. It was that bittersweet savor of the love of this man, this profoundly special human being, that radiated out to me as I connected with this extraordinary work and him once again. It left me with a warm, and undeniable sense of well-being.

Leroy was our blessing. He always will be.