7 Inspiring 1 sentence musings for Artists

First, a bit about the author and his book which inspired my 7 inspiring thoughts.

Paths to the Absolute by John Golding

The author John Golding (September 10, 1929 – April 9, 2012) was a British artist, art scholar and curator who has written an abundant number of important critical essays.

Paths to the Absolute, comes from his 46th series of A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts. It examines aspects of work by three pioneering European Abstract Painters – Mondrian (1872 – 1944), Malevich (1878 – 1935), and Kandinsky (1866 – 1944 ) – and compares / contrasts these aspects with “their great American successors” – Pollock (1912 – 1956), Newman (1905 – 1970), Rothko (1903 – 1970) and Still (1904 – 1980). Golding states of the American artists “…in the 1940’s and 1950’s (they) succeeded in endowing abstraction with a renewed sense of purpose. It was they who reaffirmed the fact that, at its best and most profound, abstract painting is heavily imbued with meaning, with content, and that, in order to make this content palpable, new formal pictorials innovations must be found to express it”.

The book is organized in 6 easy to read well-crafted chapters with supporting images. Like most books included in my library it includes a complete list of resources for you fact checkers.

7 inspiring 1 sentence musings I learned from this book:

  1. An understanding of the foundation of art allows you to expand not repeat.
  2. Pioneers and inventors of art styles mentor your soul.
  3. Knowledge embedded comes forth intuitively without struggling to locate it.
  4. A satisfying journey in art is a sole/soul experience even when you are in a crowd.
  5. Trust yourself and the path you are on, if you can’t, switch paths and trust yourself.
  6. If you are an artist, over time you will travel a variety of styles and philosophies, enjoy.
  7. Every work of art, good or bad in your mind, can teach you something.

Book available from Princeton University Press

What is Abstract Expressionism? A great YouTube video from the Clyfford Still Museum

Willem De Kooning;Jackson Pollock;Adolph Gottlieb;Ad Reinhardt;Robert Motherwell;Clyfford Still;James C. Brooks;Hedda Sterne;Jimmy Ernst;Bradley Walker Tomlin;Richard Pousette-Dart;Barnett Newman;Theodoros Stamos;William Baziotes;Ma Rothko
The Irascibles (Photo by Nina Lee/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Artistic energy from comradery at the Atlantic Center for the Arts

The Atlantic Center for the Arts complex from the top

The Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA) is located in a dense scrub oak canopy habitat along Spruce Creek in New Smyrna Beach. This multidisciplinary artist residency facility was founded in 1977 by Doris Leeper, an internationally known sculpture and painter living in the area at the time. In a quick search of the web I found this facility ranked #3 on a list titled A Guide to 20 Top Artist Residencies and Retreats Across the United States published in 2012 by BLOUIN ARTINFO.

While much use of this facility focuses on their prestigious Master Artists in Residency Program where resident students are selected by the Master Artist through an open application process they also open the facility up to others when the use does not conflict with the residency programs.


This past December I was invited to visit with a group of artists working at the ACA participating in an annual artist retreat now in its 15th year organized by ACA residency alum Jean Banas who studied with Fumio Yoshimura (1926-2002) in 1985. Banas is an extraordinary abstract artist who is respected well beyond her home base of New Smyrna Beach.  Of the event Jean says, “A majority of the artists attended Steve Aimone‘s ACA workshops. These long time dear friends come together yearly as a close knit family, to be inspired and supportive of each other. I feel honored that these professional artists are so pleased to be a part of the group.”

Garde and Zalisko take a moment.

Garde and Zalisko share a moment

I joined the group for dinner one evening, which was followed by a tour of their studio areas. Since most artists come to this retreat for privacy I was honored by these moments with them. I settled in at a table with a few other visitors, Jean’s husband and art enthusiast Ray and artist Harold Garde, whose exceptional career is a must read. (web at haroldgarde.com)

Suddenly a vibration of energy joined us in the dining area – enter the working artists – laughter ringing out and discussion buzzing. I enjoyed and readily accepted the contagion as each artist greeted me. It was as though I had too been painting with them for the past several days. Most artists I know are like this – energized by being with other artists, working on art and talking about art. It’s an inspiring lifestyle for both novice and professional artist.



In this year’s group I discovered a powerhouse of award winning professionals who are confident in the importance of their artistic journey. Each came to the retreat for their own reason, but inspiration was a common theme. One had recently returned from a 30 day residency, another from Spectrum at Miami Basel planning a work for a group show in New York City, one an arts professor on her individual art trek away from the classroom, one just having closed a solo exhibit at a major institution, with another hinting at an upcoming major public art opportunity – some starting new works, some experimenting, and others finishing up works started elsewhere. These are artists you want to watch going forward if you aren’t watching them now.

Check out the list of heavy hitters below. Enjoy a few quotes on this retreat from some of the artists. Be sure to use the links to their web sites when they are available. Enjoy!

Works by Banas

Works by Banas


Jean Banas
New Smryna Beach, Florida

Cheri Erdman
New Smryna Beach, Florida

Frances Gardner
Health Springs, South Carolina

Carson Kapp
New Smryna Beach, Florida


Gardner - tools await her return

Gardner’s tools await her return


Martha Lent
Maitland, Florida

Martha Mahoney
Winter Park, Florida

Karlene McConnell
Ormond Beach, Florida

Kathy O’Meara
New Smyrna Beach, Florida


Wild - 8 x 8 underway

Beau’s 8×8 underway


 Betty Parker
Daytona Beach, Florida

Audrey Phillips
Maitland, Florida

Antoinette M. Slick
Ormond Beach, Florida

Beau Wild
Port Orange, Florida

Pat Zalisko
Estero, Florida


“I successfully completed my 1st Kick Start Campaign to create an 8’x8’ painting on how fragile we are for the New York Expo. I have painted the initial painting over the past 2 days, but do see some to resolve in the size and theme.”

Beau Wild, Port Orange, FL

Mara Whitridge paint seems to float

Mara’s paint seems to float




“I am painting because I am painting, no goal just process.”

Mara Whitridge, DeLand, FL



Lent goes minimalist

Lent goes minimalist


“I have been away from painting most of this year. This was an excellent opportunity to just have fun. I did not have a specific agenda pre-planned out. I rather wanted to focus my time in painting a new series of 15 minimal abstract paintings with collage.”

Martha L. Lent, Maitland, FL



Slick prolific output

Slick’s prolific output


“I find the retreats at ACA very valuable, both for improvement of skills and for the comradery of working with fellow artists instead of alone in the studio.”

Antoinette M. Slick, Ormond Beach, FL


OMeara experimenting

O’Meara experimenting



“I’m here to have fun creating my art work at our annual art camp. Hanging with other creatives is so inspiring. We all thrive in this environment.”

Kathy O’Meara, New Smyrna Beach, FL



McConnell at station

McConnell contemplating



“I stay at ACA to explore and experiment. I feel more compelled to stray off my familiar path when I am surrounded by other artists in a beautiful new environment.”

Karlene McConnell, Ormond Beach, FL



“This annual retreat for me is a homecoming. I work with supportive friends who can and do offer constructive criticism. They have been my pals for years and know many of my life secrets. I couldn’t create in better company than this. Now, Christmas has begun for me.”

Pat Zalisko, Estero, FL

Mahoney chats about art

Mahoney chats about art


“I’m here to relieve myself of ….(kidding)…to be with fellow comrades of the Brush Brigade. I’m not leaving until the last brush is gone I swear!”

Martha Mahoney, Winter Park, FL


“The ambiance at the studios at the Atlantic Center for the Arts activates the artistic energy in me more than any other venue. Perhaps it is the fellowship of outstanding artists who work together here that generates the high level of inspiration.”

Betty Morris Parker, Daytona Beach, FL

UPDATE: Karlen McConnell, Audrey Phillips, and Pat Zalisko are currently exhibiting with Melisa Mason at the Ormond Memorial Museum, Ormond Beach, through February 28th.

The Grand Opening Reception for the Harold Garde: Last of the Game Changers exhibit at Henao Contemporary Center in Orlando is on Febraury 6, 2016 from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. The exhibition includes works unseen before and runs through March 27th.

A Studio Moment with Toni Slick

Toni in her home studio.

Toni at home in her studio.

Currently showing at the Global City Center, Cobb & Cole, 7th floor, 149 S. Ridgewood Avenue, Daytona Beach through the end of October 2014. Open for public viewing Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

I first met Antoinette “Toni” Slick through a painting from the collection of the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach while it was on display in a County administration building located in DeLand, Florida, more than ten years ago. The rich quality of her watercolor caught my eyes from across the broad rotunda and I took only a short time getting closer to see how it was created. Large swaths of shifting plates of pigment spoke of another place and the work did its job by sweeping me away from my daily business at least for the moment. This chance meeting demonstrates the value of art in public places.

Her art continues to take me to mysterious and joyous places today. I still can’t ever quite figure out how she has produced the work, but that is what I find most pleasurable. I think the greatest works keep you guessing, keep you having a conversation with them.

Her studio is designed to enjoy Florida light and the space perfectly reflects the unconfinable personality of this artist. All around the high horizontal windows above me frame blue sky and just outside the Halifax River is visible. Art works hang salon style throughout her spacious and well lit studio for she is a prolific painter with a career spanning over 35 years.

I am greeted with a brilliant smile, a bit of pre interview chat with wonderfully frank wit, and a cup of coffee. And so we began.

Hodge: When and why did you move to Volusia County?

Slick: I received my teaching degree from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. After marrying David, we lived in Detroit Michigan while he finished his degree. Then we moved to Saginaw Michigan for a short time, followed by a return to Akron. David really hated the cold winters and my parents had moved to Florida’s west coast, so we moved to Volusia County in 1986. After driving around all of Florida we preferred this area for its friendly and active lifestyle.


Wall XXIII, 18 x 18, Acrylic and Graphite on Canvas

Hodge: Can you share a little bit about your family? Does family impact your art?

Slick: I don’t really approach my art in terms of relating to or being influenced by the people surrounding me. It’s more of a reaction to the environment surrounding me. My family, including my parents when I was a child, have always made it possible for me to pursue my passion. It also helps that my husband David thinks I am talented and is very proud of me. I have four very supportive children and 11 grandchildren, all of whom are proud that “Mom/Nini” is an artist.

Hodge: You work in what most artists would call a dream studio – how did that come about? 

Slick: When we built the house in 1995, I was painting smaller format, more traditional watercolors. All of that changed when I decided to paint larger more experimental and abstract acrylics. I kept finding paint all over the house, so knew I had to make a change and moved to the garage. I thought it was great. David hated it. He started to bug me about a studio. I finally gave in and really the studio changed my life. I think for the first time I took myself seriously.

Wall XIV

Wall XIV, 40 x 30, Acrylic and Graphite on Canvas

Hodge: Your husband seems exceptionally supportive of your art. Will you share something? 

Slick: He has always supported what I am doing, even when I make a big change in the work. Now sometimes he just shakes his head, and we laugh. He usually comes around to my way of thinking.

Hodge: Were you always an artist?

Slick: I think I always wanted to be an artist, but was never sure that I was really an ARTIST. I was the first person in my family to go to college. My parents were of the school that said “You need to be able to support yourself”. At that time the choice was teacher or nurse. Blood makes me sick so teacher it was. The art was put on the sideline for the next 17 years. One of my fondest childhood memories is the day, sitting with my mother, watching her paint a bird. I was mesmerized by how beautiful she painted it. Mine wasn’t so great.

Wall XI

Wall XI, 40 x 30, Acrylic and Graphite on Canvas

Hodge: What year did you turn seriously to art?

Slick: In 1978 I took my first painting class, just for fun with a friend, and that was the start of the journey. It was a learning maturing journey that I hope never ends. I got involved with other workshops and art groups along the way and learned what I like and what I don’t like by these experiences. Even today, I enjoy participating in long self-directed painting weeks with other serious artists at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach. I stay there in the apartments and paint with no interruptions day and night.

Hodge: You currently work in a non-objective style using mostly acrylic paints and graphite – was this always the case?

Slick: I actually started with oils and moved rather quickly to watercolor. Starting with art workshops in Ohio, I became a traditional Ohio Watercolorist; lots of barns and landscapes. There are many wonderful watercolorists in Ohio because American Greeting Cards was, and may still be, located in Cleveland. So I was very traditional, but then took a few experimental classes and that opened new areas of thought and practice. Long story short, the work kept getting more abstract, but always had something – a bird, a tree, a rock that folks could grab onto as recognizable.

The Warrior, 48 x 31, Acrylic on Paper

The Warrior, 48 x 31, Acrylic on Paper

Then I started to work with Steve Aimone, and all semblance of reality left. Here I began seeing line, mark, color, and surface as vocabulary, as content.

Hodge: The shapes in your works of art in 2013 and 2014 differ. What are you exploring?

Slick: In February 2013 I started a series influenced by the walls I see when I’m traveling. They started very simply, using a grid for the format. They have grown way more complex, colorful and less like walls and more like…I’m not sure. The possibilities are endless as I keep exploring this wall, surface, grid concept.

Hodge: How do you select colors for a painting?

Slick: Sometimes I find myself becoming too familiar with a particular color and I’ll come to depend on it. So mostly I’ll just decide on a color range and do it. Actually, I love black and white paintings and I don’t do nearly enough of them.

Wall IX

Wall IX, 40 x 30, Acrylic and Graphite on Canvas

Hodge: I noticed that if you participate in festivals you receive awards and recently you opened up a satellite studio at the HUB in New Smryna Beach. How important is marketing to you?

Slick: Festivals are fun and a great experience, but not at all important to me from an artistic perspective. Luckily, I have not had to make a living with art, which allowed me the opportunity to really go in any spirited direction I wanted. It has taken years, but I have a fair amount of confidence in the work I’ve been doing the last year and a half, and so I am making more of an effort to get some exhibitions and gallery representation. Besides, I would like to get it out there sometime before I’m too senile to appreciate it.

Hodge: Can you share a technique tip of some sort?

Slick: I use acrylics and graphite, big old Kimberly 9XXB very soft, very black and other drawing materials. I paint, draw, paint over, draw some more, paint some more, hate it, hate it, find a spot I like and go from there. Needless to say my work is very labor intensive and that is what I really love to do, make the journey and solve the problem. I best not charge by the hour as at that rate I would be making less than minimum wage.

Hodge: Do you have a philosophy on art to share? 

Slick: I believe you should seek experiences and feedback, then follow what is right for you. Don’t let anyone define art for you, and when you are asked to give opinion remind yourself and to whom you are speaking that the opinion is yours alone.

Wall V

Wall V, 40 x 30, Acrylic and Graphite on Canvas

Hodge: How do you describe “fine” art?

Slick: I believe my description has been around for some time. Fine art is permanent or it has at least real possibility of lasting. I am not saying other types of work are invalid. Art that falls apart, fades away, projects a trend, which is meant for “the moment” even when its decay speaks to time and destruction, does not meet my standard for fine art. I want to see a commitment to highly developed skills and archival materials.

Hodge: What makes work relevant?

Slick: Relevance to me is art that when confronted confronts me back. It creates more questions in my head than answers. The conversation never goes silent.

Hodge: What, if anything, do you want a viewer to walk away with?

Slick: I want the viewer to find their own story, their own relationship with a work. Sometimes relationships just are not meant to be and other times it feels like kismet.

You can see more of Slick’s work at the HUB in New Smyrna Beach or on her website www.antoinetteslick.com. Multiple paintings are on display through the end of October 2014 at the Global City Center, Cobb & Cole, 7th floor, 149 S. Ridgewood Ave., Daytona Beach. Open for viewing Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.