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Les Femmes Folles

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"The Rules of Painting"—Broken by R.Mindrup

“You read and hear from painters and painting books about the ‘rules’ for painting—it can really drive you nuts, I mean, you can’t follow all of them all of the time,” said artist Rachel Mindrup. “In this piece, I broke them all.”

A definite turn from Mindrup’s usual beautifully classically oil painted portraits, the piece “The Rules of Painting” also uses text, a credible “no-no” for academically trained painters.

Studying artists, she ran across Michael Fullerton’s work and a show of his he titled Get Over Yourself of “stilted portraits of Rothko and Carl Jung looking pretentious.” She was taken by his humor and groundedness with regards to art being ingrained with traditional rules of painting in school and amongst peers so she created this piece.

She went through her notebooks, recorded various conventions and advisements for painting “correctly” whether from her own education/work/peers or even rules that she teaches her own students. She wrote them in permanent marker around a large canvas and began painting over them, breaking each rule as she went; reminding herself “Really there are no rules anyways, just tools. Simple tools to help an artist get better, but not hard fast rules.”

Examples: “It should go without saying that we do NOT cut the figure at the joints” (here she stopped painting the arm at the elbow)

“Control your brushwork. It shouldn’t look like you just had a seizure with oil paint.” (here the paint brush strokes are evident; harsh orange next to green)

“Never paint white around the object. It creates an annoying effect.” (here has white painted around the shoulder and hand of the figure)

“Why are you glazing? Just paint it right the first time.” (his hair was apparently glazed)

The result, is this large (4-feet wide) unframed (of course! As rule-abiding painters: if you care about your oil painting it should be framed!) mixed media on a canvas that also includes an additional glued on (another no-no!) bottom piece on canvas that forms a cross—signifying, according to Mindrup, the strict sacredness of painter’s rules.

The bright red (pure unmixed hue according to Mindrup, another rule broken) is engulfing and the figure of the male dancer is exquisitely painted; ironically making a truly interesting, successful work of art. The figure is looking down, turned away, almost as though he himself is ignoring the rules, and letting go.

"The Rules of Painting," sharpie marker, oil paint, and tape on “somewhat prepared and somewhat not prepared linen” is currently on view in the group show “Femme Qui Bercent” at Noyes Art Gallery in Lincoln thru March 25.

For more information about Rachel Mindrup and her work visit rmindrup.blogspot.com.

Chris Willey, artist


self-portrait by Chris Willey

Artist Chris Willey is one of the artists exhibiting in Noyes Art Gallery’s Femmes Qui Bercent exhibit in March 2013 (in Lincoln details below). She shares with LFF about knowing from age 3 she was an artist, her various inspirations from national art museums to people watching at Panera, feminism and her work in this upcoming show…

Where am I from?

I am an Air Force brat and moved quite a bit my whole life. I went to 9 schools before college. I lived in Denver, CO; Washington, DC; Lincoln, NE; Honolulu, Hawaii; Bellevue, NE; Tripoli, Libya; Chicopee, MA; and Lincoln, NE. My adult life has also included Kansas City, MO; and Warrensburg, MO.  I live in Kansas City, MO now, and when people ask where I’m from, that is the short answer. 

How did I get into art?

I am not from an art background, and yet, I have known from the age of three that I was an artist. I have never questioned it or thought of becoming anything else.  I only had to decide what kind of artist. Painting always seemed the most natural fit.

About my work/inspirations.

I am always looking at other artists, visiting museums and galleries, and reanalyzing my own work. I am a retired art professor and a former freelance illustrator and graphic designer. Those careers gave me great discipline, introduced me to some incredible artists, and allowed me to travel to many museums and galleries, cultures.

My work jumps from landscape to figure to still life to an occasional abstract. It all depends on what it is I need to learn, or what I’m paying attention to at the time. I am always drawing from life as well as imagination, and yes, some photo reference as well.  Plein air painting is the work that comes closest to meditation. I love being outside surrounded by nature and a million design possibilities. It is when I feel the most connected to the earth and the most at home in the world.  But I love the draftsmanship and connection of drawing the figure.

Artists that inspire me change daily, depending on what I’m looking at and where I am growing. Today I would list Ann Gale, Mary Beth McKenzie, Jeremy Mann and John Howard. The list would be different if you asked tomorrow. Painting inspirations come everyday from just looking intently. Today I found a paintable, sketchable moment while having breakfast at Panera Bread.


"Bikini Girl," by Chris Willey

Does feminism play a role?

If one is a serious female artist in this time period, then feminism has played a role. Feminism isn’t necessarily what my work is about, but feminism is what has allowed me to work.

When I went to college 2% of tenured studio professors were women. When I began my career out of college, most of the people in graphic design and illustration were men. When I began teaching college, 4% of tenured studio professors were women. I was the second one in our department of 14. The numbers are much better now, and most university departments have quite a few tenured women. They have seemingly always had women in the departments, but most were either graduate students, lecturers or instructors – most working part time without benefits. That is still a part of that system. In the visual arts and graphic design and illustration, women are now a huge part of the industry.  Women’s art , and in fact women in general, are taken much more seriously in this country at this moment. As I watch/read/listen to politics in the US and in the world I realize that attitudes and cultures can change so quickly, so I do not take it for granted.

Tell me about your work for the upcoming show and why its important to you.

I have been regularly attending and/or teaching  life drawing for at least 30 years. The work in this show is recent work. Some of it is about the figure, some of it simply contains figures as part of the story of everyday life.


See more of her work at chriswilley.com.

See her work in Femme Qui Bercent, opening March 1 at Noyes Gallery, 119 9th St. in Lincoln, 6-9pm running thru March 25. Details here!

Charlene Potter, artist

Omaha based artist Charlene Potter is showing her work in Lincoln for the first time in January alongside eleven other artists at Noyes Art Gallery opening January 6 (details below). She shares with Les Femmes Folles about designing drapery valance, her artistic epiphany in Paris, her love of the artistic process, how women play a major role in the end of exploitation of minorities and more…

Tell me about your background.

I was raised on a farm between Centralia and Onaga, North East Kansas.  During the growing years I loved being close to nature.  When I walked into the pasture to bring the cows to the barn for milking almost every day, I used my creativity in creating stories, and games.  I moved to Omaha, in 1969.

How did you get interested in art? 

I begin drawing very young.  I submitted a drawing to the “Draw Me,” advertisement in a magazine.  They wrote back and told me to wait until I graduated from high school—I was still in grade school at the time.  At the rural school I attended and the time period, art was not part of the curriculum in high school.  All my life I have had a desire to create. I didn’t begin to utilize my creativity until I began working for a drapery company building swags, pillows, and special valances.  After working for a couple of businesses for 6 years, then I began my own business for 23 years working for interior designers, ending in 2000.  In this work I was able to sketch designs that aided in communication of a design.  Special drapery valance work can be very detailed in design. 

It was on a trip to Paris in 1985 that I decided I wanted to learn to paint and began lessons in oil, then moved to watercolor.  Since 1985 I have moved back and forth between watercolor and oil painting. Also, I have worked in pen and ink. My very favorite is hand-built porcelain sculpture.  For a hobby I like to work in wire sculpture.  After a consolidation and layoff in 2004, I decided to go to college and began to pursue a degree in art.  I graduated in June 2009 at the age of 63 years.  I waited a lifetime to fulfill a dream.

Tell me about your creative work/process/inspirations/style?

I greatly enjoy the creative process—Learning, experiencing, writing about, sharing, being part of, working the creative process.  The creative processes of art teach us everything in life has a process if we take the time to look and learn.  I firmly believe art is a tool in our lives and we need to utilize it so much more than we are today.  The door is wide open if we choose to open it. As I stated before my love, is working in porcelain clay sculpture.  I find passion in the connection of the clay.  Perhaps it brings back memories of my youth.  Perhaps I am reconnected to nature through the clay.  Or, perhaps the work makes my soul sing.  And when we find the work that makes our soul sing, we have indeed found our vocation.  My “Water Flowers,” series is an example of my interpretation of water flowers.  Through this series I am trying to demonstrate the importance of water quality. 


Tell me why this show is important to you?

The January Show of the Focus Gallery at Noyes Art Gallery is important to me because this is the first time I have exhibited in Lincoln and to be at the Noyes Art Gallery is an honor.  Plus, I am very pleased to be exhibiting with well known artists/sculptors. 

 What does feminism mean to you? Are you? Does your gender impact your work?

I never really viewed myself as a feminist.  But, I have worked for social issues. I worked for women’s rights during the women’s movement back in the 1960s and 70s. A lot of women did. Presently, through the beauty of my natural porcelain designs, I try to demonstrate the importance of the relationship between humans and our natural environment.    I answer yes, to the question “Does gender impact my work.”  I don’t really want to put labels on art, but in a lot of work I have seen in the past is masculine in design, and style, being very large in size, sharp lines, squares, triangles, and razor edges. Perhaps this is reason that I have turned to nature for inspiration because of the curved lines, sweeping movement, smaller in size, and a gentleness, that is lacking in the more masculine style. I’m not saying there is no movement and curves in some of the more masculine work that I have studied.  But, mostly I believe my inspiration comes from nature and animals. And, I have wanted to create a style of my own and move away from the norm that I have seen.  Nor, I’m saying one style is better than the other, just different. Women are coming into their own in art. Also, I can see a change coming in our society, a change in how we perceive art. Besides the beauty of art, it will become more useful in our daily lives.  And, I see an environmental change coming as our society works the process of going green.  Plus, I see our society moving in a more gentle direction by putting an end to the exploitation of minorities for monetary gain.  And I would like to believe that women play a major part in all these changes.


Charlene Potter exhibits alongside eleven other artists at Noyes Art Gallery, 119 S. 9th Street in Lincoln opening January 6, 6-8p.m. For details visit noyesartgallery.com.

To see more of Charlene’s work visit rosewoodenvironmentalart.com.