So How Do You Name Your Pieces?

Gothic Bazaar, Mixed Media, 11 x 14, $175.00

Sometimes people ask me how I come up with my titles. Well, I enjoy naming my pieces almost as much as I do creating them in the first place. I try to invent names that give the viewer a hint of what I was thinking while I was painting, but at the same time, something that leaves a bit of mystery, a little question in their minds. I’m calling this piece Gothic Bazaar. Why? Well, the pointed arch is a bit of Gothic architecture, isn’t it? And the colors remind me of the time I visited the bazaar in Istanbul, full of golds and secret passageways and hidden corners. Touristy? Sure, but all the same exotic and fun. Everything about this–the design, the colors, and yes – even the title, says Whimsy. A bit of whimsy to brighten up a cold winter day.

Let It Flow, Let It Flow, Let It Flow

Allegro, Mixed Media, 16 x 20

Paint on canvas-what could be more peaceful and calming than the simple act of applying paint to canvas? Letting the paint flow while music supplies the mood and and directs the action. Enjoying the colors, savoring the process of letting the design happen. Nothing better on a January day.

Here are two of my latest efforts.

Melody, Mixed Media, 14 x 11

Feel free to contact me for prices and delivery information.

Xanadu Gallery

In Xanadu, did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree

So begins Samuel Coleridge’s famous poem. Xanadu Gallery in the heart of downtown Scottsdale, Arizona, might not exactly rival the ancient city of Shangdu, China, but it’s an inspiring place, nonetheless, featuring a variety of beautiful and innovative artworks created by artists all over the country. So I consider it an honor to have some of the paintings in my Red Mountain series included in their latest catalog, which will be going out to all their clients shortly.  You can check out an advance copy here. (My pieces are on page 25.)

Xanadu Catalog 2022

Xanadu Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona

A Hidden Gem

My Naperville readers may not realize that we have a hidden gem in the Main Street Promenade. The second and third floors, accessible from both Main and Webster Streets, host a variety of businesses in a light, cheery environment that provides an ideal setting for the ongoing art exhibits sponsored by the Naperville Art League. Walk the halls and you’ll be astonished by the beautiful variety of paintings and drawings on display there, including four of my large pieces. You’ll be glad you made the trip.

Individual works of art may be purchased through the Naperville Art League.

Falling Water, acrylic, 30 x 30

Painting in the Abstract

In my previous post, I wrote about using a 12 x 12 format to express a single idea, but sometimes, I need a bigger canvas to capture the moment. A River Runs Through It reminds me of the colorful river towns perched on the hilltops in Spain. The water rushing down the mountains, the clean, fresh air! Aah–how delightful.

A River Runs Through It, acrylic, 20 x 24

Coming to America: Jewish Immigration 1880 to 1920

Revisiting History

While I was researching and writing Riva’s Journey: a Memoir, (now available on Amazon), I uncovered tons of facts about conditions in Eastern Europe during the late 19th-early 20th centuries that I wasn’t able to incorporate into my grandmother’s story. I hated to let go of all that information, so I decided to use it to create a presentation for my community’s History Club. I wanted to talk about how fully half the world’s Jews came to live in the Kingdom of Poland, under what sort of conditions they lived their lives, and the profound socio-cultural-political changes that happened in the century and a half after the first Polish partition in 1772.  What led so many Eastern Europeans, Jews but also millions of Poles, Russians, and others to pick up and cross the Atlantic in search of better lives? To round out the story, I decided to expand the presentation to discuss the Atlantic crossing and the reception the immigrants received once they arrived in New York.

I’ve given this presentation twice now—once to a group at my synagogue and then to the History Club. Both times, I’ve realized that I probably bit off more than I could chew. There’s so much material that covering it in only one hour doesn’t really do justice to the subject. Still, I hated to leave anything out, and people did seem to enjoy hearing about all of it.

The whole experience reminds me that originally, decades ago, I prepared to teach history, a subject to which I was drawn because I always wanted to know “what happened? Why?” And each time I revisit an era, I not only find answers to my questions, but also discover new insights and deepen my understanding of the events I’m studying. Maybe I’m returning to my academic roots after all this time. Whatever—I’m enjoying the detour.

Riva’s Journey: a Memoir

Riva’s Journey

Now available in Paperback at Amazon.com.

Everyone in the United States today is an immigrant or descended from immigrants, with the exception of Native Americans whose ancestors were here before Columbus. Between 1880 and 1920, people from Eastern and Southern Europe poured into the United States by the millions. They were Russians and Poles, Czechs and Romanians, Italians, Greeks and Ukrainians. All of our ancestors came from someplace else. Riva’s Journey explores the reasons why one large group of people, Jews who’d been born in the Russian Pale of Settlement, decided to leave their homes and immigrate to the United States, and how they adjusted to becoming Americans. Riva’s Journey tells the story of one woman, and one family, who made the trip.

There’s a curse, erroneously attributed to the Chinese, that goes, “May you live in interesting times. Riva’s Journey is the fictionalized memoir of a woman whose life spanned the start of the Industrial Revolution in Tsarist Russia to the post-war prosperity of the United States—my grandmother. She lived in very interesting times.

It was a time of vast social and political changes in the area defined as the Pale of Settlement, established by Catherine the Great of Russia about 1791, after Russia took over large parts of what had been Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, and more, and incorporated those areas into the Russian Empire. Jews were forbidden to establish new settlements outside the Pale, nor could they live in most major cities such as Moscow.  The May Laws of 1881 further severely limited Jewish rights to own land, to access education, and to engage in business. The majority of Jews relocated to various large towns and cities, pursued livelihoods in trades and small businesses, or found jobs in the newly established factories that sprouted up as industrialization of Russia progressed.

And many immigrated to America….

Available in Paperback & E-reader versions.

Riva’s Journey: a Memoir

By Barbara Lipkin

Now available for pre-order on Amazon. Get the book delivered directly to your E-reader on September 29th.

Everyone in the United States today is an immigrant or descended from immigrants, with the exception of Native Americans whose ancestors were here before Columbus. Between 1880 and 1920, people from Eastern and Southern Europe poured into the United States by the millions. They were Russians and Poles, Czechs and Romanians, Italians, Greeks and Ukrainians. All of our ancestors came from someplace else. Riva’s Journey explores the reasons why one large group of people, Jews who’d been born in the Russian Pale of Settlement, decided to leave their homes and immigrate to the United States, and how they adjusted to becoming Americans. Riva’s Journey tells the story of one woman, and one family, who made the trip.

There’s a curse, erroneously attributed to the Chinese, that goes, “May you live in interesting times. Riva’s Journey is the fictionalized memoir of a woman whose life spanned the start of the Industrial Revolution in Tsarist Russia to the post-war prosperity of the United States—my grandmother. She lived in very interesting times.

It was a time of vast social and political changes in the area defined as the Pale of Settlement, established by Catherine the Great of Russia about 1791, after Russia took over large parts of what had been Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, and more, and incorporated those areas into the Russian Empire. Jews were forbidden to establish new settlements outside the Pale, nor could they live in most major cities such as Moscow.  The May Laws of 1881 further severely limited Jewish rights to own land, to access education, and to engage in business. The majority of Jews relocated to various large towns and cities, pursued livelihoods in trades and small businesses, or found jobs in the newly established factories that sprouted up as industrialization of Russia progressed.

And many immigrated to America….

Click here to pre-order.

Special Offer This Week

A Wonderful Good Morning!

Special Offer, 1 week only – September 1 to September 8

Take advantage of the Kindle Countdown deal to purchase A Wonderful Good Morning at a discount price, only on Amazon. A Wonderful Good Morning is a mystery with a bit of science fiction thrown in. If you enjoyed Groundhog Day, you’ll love A Wonderful Good Morning.

Sometimes every day seems just like the one before.  Sometimes, it really is the day before.

Strange things have been happening to Tim for a while now.  Lately, his friends have learned to treat him very gently until he comes out of one of  his spells. His girlfriend, Natalie, decides a Rhine River cruise will be just what the two of them need to get things back to normal, but at the last minute, Tim is left to sail on his own. That’s when things get really weird. While he stares, yet again, at the very same clumps of algae in the very same stretch of the Rhine he’s been looking at for days, something finally clicks. Now the only problem is – how to fix it.

Meanwhile, Natalie and her artist friends back in Chicago wonder why Tim hasn’t returned from his vacation and why he doesn’t answer his phone. It’s not like him to just disappear;  he’s normally super responsible. They have no choice but to set off for Europe to find out what’s going on.

Click here to purchase.

Another Word About Genre

A little while ago, I wrote about the importance of establishing genre when marketing your novels. A similar factor comes into play when peddling paintings. One of the first things an artist learns when creating a body of work  is that it needs to be consistent, i.e., the viewers/prospective purchasers need to know what to expect when they hear your name. That’s fine, except if you’ve ever been to a retrospective of the work of a well-known artist, you’ll notice that their work has gone through many stages both before and after emerging into the characteristic style for which they’re known. It almost goes without saying that an artist is, by the very nature of the craft, an experimenter. So how to reconcile the demands of the artist with the demands of the public?

I’ve always loved abstract design, so although most of my paintings are representational to some extent, they’re also colorful, whimsical, and sometimes purely abstract. There’s nothing more fun than grabbing a nice, fat brush and smearing paint on a canvas, watching the colors and patterns develop, until you have either a big mess or a delightful new piece of art. (Naturally, you never show anybody the big messes. You just paint over them, and the mess becomes part of the ‘history’ of the new painting.) But at other times, I enjoy carefully designing a composition and slowly making it come to life with deliberate, well-placed strokes. At this stage of my life, I’ve pretty much stopped worrying about whether or not a new piece ‘fits’ consistently in my body of work. I just go with whatever I want to try next.

My two most recent pieces couldn’t be more different. But I enjoyed both of them.  

   Dreaming, Acrylic, 24 x 20
A River Runs Through It, Acrylic, 20 x 24