"A Room of One's Own"

   I love these words. I have loved them since I first heard them. It is the title of a series of lectures given by Virginia Woolf in 1928 on women and fiction and later published as a book under the same title. In the opening lines Virginia Woolf states, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." As a painter I have had many "rooms/studios" of my own both large and small.
  When I began to paint it was my bedroom in my parents home. When I was first married it was a little building off the back of the tiny one bedroom house we rented. One end of the interior of the little building was just wide enough for a work sink and a washing machine and at the other end of the room my oversized wooden drafting table filled the space from wall to wall. In the few feet of space left in the middle stood my easel along with 2 bikes and some storage boxes.
  The little building set the standard and with each successive move my first thought when looking at a living space has been, "Is there space here for my studio?" Now this seems a simple question and as the years have progressed I have found many "rooms of my own", sometimes creative thinking was employed...a bedroom becomes a studio/a living room becomes a bedroom. Garages were an easy solution and many a year was spent and art created in garage studios and several times I have rented studios away from my home.
  My current studio is my fourth rented studio and is on the fifth floor of an old storage building built in the 1920's/30's. I am surrounded by wood workers with buzzing saws...furniture refinishers with sanders whining... a bicycle repair shop with an air compressor that fills itself hourly...a huge freight elevator across from my space that rumbles and squawks every time someone uses it... and yet, amidst all this chaotic noise, I have a space of my own, to paint in...dream in...write in...and be me in.  
 
 
 




For information or comment: mwinklea@gmail.com
 

School Teacher's Ways

  My Aunt 'Nita was a school teacher. She taught English and Latin at a high school in Ohio. She never married. Each summer she would spend taking classes at one or another of Ohio's Colleges and Universities. She took care of her aging parents, my grandmother who I met once and my grandfather who I met twice. Crestline Ohio was a world away from San Diego California...a world populated with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents I only knew through black and white photographs.
  When I was in high school I read "Good Morning Miss Dove" and from that time on I thought of my Aunt 'Nita as Miss Dove. When she retired in 1965 and moved to San Diego I realized that she really was like Miss Dove. Prim and proper Aunt 'Nita was devoted to her students, and many who had graduated years ago were still in contact with her. Several even came out to visit her at her new home in San Diego.
  In 1970 Aunt 'Nita moved to Oregon. Her older sister and niece lived there but mainly the move was made because her school teacher's pension would stretch a bit further. When she moved she left a box of photographs she thought I might enjoy looking through...and I did.
  The last time I saw Aunt 'Nita was in 1994. She was moving into a retirement home and needed help with sorting through and packing her belongings and my mother was not up to the task. I knew my Aunt had been having some memory problems and glad that she was not going to be living alone.
  As we sorted and packed and chatted about this and that I realized that things were a bit worse than just "some memory problems". One cupboard was filled bottles of ketchup another with boxes of cherry Jello.
  Upon seeing my reaction Aunt 'Nita's response was, "I never know when someone might call together a game of Bridge."
  But the moment that endeared her to me most was when I went through her liquor cupboard filled with old half empty bottles of liquor.
  "Aunt 'Nita we need to empty these." I said and she agreed. I poured the liquor down the kitchen sink drain and began to gather the bottles to take out to the trash bin.
  "You can't do that!" She whispered hoarsely
  "Why?" I asked
  "Because what will the neighbors think?" Then she straightened her back and sincerely said in her school teacher's way, "Many a reputation has been ruined over a Bridge table."
  The painting below is from and old black & white photo taken in the 1940's and found in the box left by my Aunt 'Nita. On the table, near the jar of pickles is a silver flask...Love you Aunt 'Nita!
Aunt 'Nita's Picnic/1973/Oil on Canvas 24"w x 18"h
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The Purple Painting

  "Can you take a photo of one of my old paintings?"
  "Which one?" My sister asked.
  "The big one that hung the living room for years..you know the one with the girls in the center and the flowers at the bottom."
  She gave me a puzzled look, "No, I don't know what you are talking about."
  "I have it in the car. I'll go get it and bring it in..."

  In the past few years I have moved several times and in moving I have pared down my belongings to the bare minimum...except my art supplies. I once joked that, you know you are an artist when 95% of your belongings are art supplies. And in this last move there was no room for the above described painting, so I removed the frame, cut the canvas off the stretcher bars and the painting now free, began to tell me its history which I had forgotten over the 48 years since it was created.
  First was its' frame made of simple pine strips I had cut and stained and tacked onto its edges. Next were the stretcher bars that I had made after my Dad taught me how to use the saw and miter box. Then the canvas which now I saw was not canvas at all but heavy muslin fabric my Dad used to make "canvas" pattern blocks for client fittings for fur coats.
  Finally the painting itself. Inspired by an old photo of my older sister and me standing in a field I sketched out the composition, eagerly looking forward to taking my first painting class at Mesa College. A class, I learned to my dismay required pre-requesites which I hadn't yet fulfilled but, if I could get the approval of Head of the Art Department I could take the class.
  I cannot remember which or how many of my paintings I gathered together to present to the Department Head. All I can remember is standing at his office door with my paintings. He looked, then waved his hand dismissively and said, "Go on, take the class."

  "Here is the painting." I said as I unrolled the canvas onto my sister's dining room floor.
  "Oh, I always liked this painting. I called this one The Purple Painting."

The Purple Painting/oil on canvas/ H 47 1/2"xW 38 1/2" /Mary Anita Winklea 1969
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Remember the Love...

  The daily newspaper was always delivered in the afternoon at our home. My mother and father would read it after dinner while my sisters and I would clear the table, which many times would result in a food fight, laughter and chasing each other out the back door and in the front door. Throughout this rumpus my parents would quietly continue reading.
  Beige was the tone of the times. There were no shocking pinks or electric blues in our daily lives. I remember my mother's disapproving look when I spent birthday money on a bright red sweater. We were never to stand out or draw attention to ourselves, so laughter and silliness became our bright colors.
  My parents were good, kind and creative people. And being of their time they funneled their creativity into the accepted modes, church and work.
  My father had a beautiful baritone voice which he shared with the world through his solos at weddings and the church. He shared his gift of design and attention to detail through his work as a furrier.
  My mother shared her love of theatre through directing and staging various productions of plays and musicals for fund raising at the church. And her writing skills through compiling a history the woman's contribution to the growth and survival of the church.
   And that was my world growing up. Home, church, and school...or at least that was what I had always thought was my world...but in reflecting back, deeper into the layers I realize that it was so much more. My life growing up, much like a like a beautiful painting, was actually layer after layer of subtle colors and tones... the homes we lived in were always within walking distance to the ocean and that beautiful and expansive place was continually available to us... our church was quite liberal for the times and there I was introduced to Jewish traditions reflected in the life of Christ, unconditional love and compassion as taught by the Buddha and, of all things, physic phenomena...but deeper, much like the base coat of gesso on the canvas, were my father's words, "Remember the love"...
 

"Daddy and the Daily News"/oil on canvas 1970/from BW photo 1940
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Turbulent Times

  1967 was a turbulent time. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement...Viet Nam War protests...Hippies, Flower Children and Haight Ashbury... 6 pm news with Walter Cronkite announcing in his sad grandfatherly voice, the body count from the day's battles in Viet Nam...the world was topsy turvy... and I was painting.
  Each night after dinner dishes were done I would go up to my room and sketch and paint. Magazine photos were my inspiration and my teaching tool. Black and white photos were still the standard. Look and Life magazine photo journalists captured the world and relayed it to us through full page spreads.
  I do not remember what the article was about, all I know was I was inspired by a photo of an old man. First I did a sketch and then I did a painting of him. My father loved the painting and it hung in our living room for sometime, but I, being the impatient artist had another inspiration for a painting. So the old man painting was gessoed over and another inspired image covered the canvas, but somewhere in time (Father's Day? Birthday?) I gave my father the sketch of the old man which I had decoupaged onto a scrap of distressed pine.
  Now 50 years later, and world is still awash in turbulent times, I look at the old man sketch and am reminded that inspiration, beauty, love and kindness are always available for those who chose to be it.
Old Man 6"x7 1/2" Pencil & Watercolor on newsprint/ Mary Anita Winklea 1967
 
 

Then and Now...

   Recently I applied for a grant. This was the first time I had gone through this process and in doing so I was given the gift of looking back over at my 50+ year history as a painter. One of the grant requirements was to write a narrative of my journey as an artist and to accompany this narrative with photos of my work.
   The grant application is now signed, sealed and sent off into the internet ethers, but still in my thoughts. Not in the sense of will I get it or not, but with the deeper realization that the vast portion of my life has been spent pursing this passion to paint! I find myself still amazed that at 16 years old my heart was cracked so wide open by the words in a book, Van Gogh: a self portrait a collection of letters written to his brother Theo.
    Last October this book came back into my life. One of my sisters was moving to Hawaii and clearing out her collection of books and there it was, my book complete with my name, address and phone number I had written on the back page some 50+ years ago.
   Fate? Serendipity? I would like to think of it as a reaffirmation of my path, my destiny. I am a painter and though it has not always sustained me financially it has always filled my heart.
    "In those (paintings) there is at least something straight from my own heart."Vincent Van Gogh
     
Daisies 71/2" x 16 3/8" oil on tagboard/ Mary Anita Winklea 1963

Garden Storm 12" x 12" oil on canvas/Mary Anita Winklea 2016



And so the journey continues....

The "Imaginary Gardens" opening was wonderful. Thank you to all my family and friends who attended.
What a journey this has been creating all of these paintings. In all my years of painting I had never created a themed "body of work" until now...no... wait...I have created series but most were illustrative or vehicles of learning. Yes they were "painted" but not what most would call, "Paintings" or "Fine Art" or...maybe it is just me, the scared me, the little me looking outside, comparing myself to others. Judging myself by price tags and sales...not honoring the truth that with each completed piece of work I had tapped into part of my soul. I had tapped into what the ancient Greeks called "Genius" that bit of star soul that each of us are born with but tend not to listen to or act upon, but instead listen to the babbles of the world, judge ourselves and then act upon what is shown to us as "successful...popular...trending..."

Golly...true confessions...deep breath...

I am a painter. I will continue to be a painter and paint. And so the journey continues...

Iris Wishes/2016/ 12"x16"/Mary Anita Winklea/Photo Ernie Viskupic
For comments or information: mwinklea@gmail.com