After the Fall

Jean and Feminino at Emerge Gallery

COVID ruined everything, especially my class who became friends, at the Art Students League. I’m happy to say we keep in touch online and occasionally in person but it’s not the same.
I was unable to make any art during the pandemic. I see that for me my artistic expression has to come from a good place, best when it blooms out of love and happiness. I long ago learned not to bother dragging myself to a class if I’m not feeling well, because I never do anything good that day. During COVID I expressed my creativity through cooking, which I had hardly done in 30 years of working! I really hit my stride with a range of ethnic foods and 2 types of clay pot cookery, glazed tagines and unglazed romertopfs. So I guess I was still drawn to clay!

Jean and Slumber at the the Newberry Building

I have shifted my life and my art to the Hudson Valley and the Woodstock School of Art, located practically around my corner. The sculpture medium is water based clay that is fired in a kiln low & slow to avoid explosions from air bubbles. Tricia Cline is a wonderful teacher who works in porcelain and creates works of multiple fantastical mythic figures, and helps her students express their own voice.

All the other sculptors work in white clay, which has elegance and purity. I have lately been using terracotta which fires a to a peachy tone I love. The model takes one pose for 8 weeks and has inspired some sculptures from my personal pantheon of myths or literature or desires. These have included the Queen of Cups and The High Priestess from the Tarot; myths of Cupid & Psyche and Eve; characters from Virgil & George Bernard Shaw & Shakespeare; portals to the other world; and other things I love like my dog Lady. Always delighting in the human form and my aliveness by inhabiting one for now.

It Took a Village (Palm Springs)

I decided I needed a male figure to balance out the lovely nudes crowding my house. I had inspiration for a pose from Chanel’s ad for men’s fragrance, Bleu de Chanel. And that’s my color, to which I am strongly drawn. But our sculpture class at the Art Students’ League specializes in female models.

Jean and Monsieur Blue

Jean and Monsieur Bleu

So, I got by with a little help from my friends. When cousin Josh came to Woodstock he took the pose on my porch. When I went to visit him in Palm Springs, all the guys at Tom’s Birthday Pool Party took the pose for me. I clicked away. In Woodstock the guys running on my road let me video them. And two friends in my class bared their shoulder and torso. Thanks Mark & Tony.

I am glad to say the resultant imposing sculpture, Monsieur Bleu, looks great in my house, and totally solves the gender balance concern. So, I see that I am Pygmalion. Welcome home, Monsieur Blue.

Jean and Floating

Jean and Floating

I recently showed my piece Floating at the NAWA annual show. It was well attended and exciting to hang out in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side. Jean Georges Vongerichten restaurant, and elegant rooftop bar.

Friends, take a look at my pastels. I’m indulging my passion for color by making clouds. A completely new medium and one I am not studying, I am just doing. Like cooking. And it can be completed in hours, not months like sculpture. So it’s a fun balance when I’m concentrating on fingers and toes.

Thanks for your interest in my work. I’m working on 2 right now, sculpting from both homes.



Summer Madness

Jean Newburg

Jean Newburg

This summer I have been expressing myself in pastels.  I am drawn to them for the intense color, something difficult to achieve using watercolor.  Sunsets have been my inspiration, and I’ve been saving photos for a year, many from the Hudson Valley page in Facebook.  The image of TRAILING was taken by me this February on Longboat Key in Florida.  I brought them to Christie Scheele’s Landscape Painting Intensive workshop in June where I started and later completed 4 pastel paintings.

Pastel is relegated to summer for me, when I turn my porch into a studio, and can shake the dust into the garden, and keep washing my hands in the adjacent bathroom.  It’s very dirty work! Last winter I tried working indoors but had to cover everything with plastic.

I know that I am also drawn to the immediacy of using pastels.  No tools are required other than my hands. It’s a primal response, and I love to put my hands in clay in the sculpture studio, in earth in the garden, and now pastel on toothed and colored paper. With pastel there is no mixing of colors, so many sticks are required, and the softest ones are heavenly to use.  And I will try velour paper as well.


The living has been easy in Woodstock this second summer of my retirement. I’ve casually set up studio space on my screened-in porch, and have been working independently. I’ve started a sculpture of a man in motion, working without a model. Fortunately my cousin visited and he took the pose for me while I took photos. And two guys running on my road let me take videos of them! But I’ve ordered a book by Eadweard Muybridge who took photographs of men and animals in motion, so I won’t have to accost the neighbors in future.

I’ve also started playing with pastels. I love blending intense colors, and I’m putting on disposable gloves and blending with my fingers. I realize that I am happiest when making art with just my hands, applying clay to the armature or color to the paper. However, I do have great respect for my metal sculpture tools and sable watercolor brushes. They are essential for creating details.

My newest sculpture is now cast and patinated, and looking ethereal. “Floating” was inspired by Cabanel’s painting of the birth of Venus, but elevated from the sea to the sky. The model provided a fabulous twisted but languid posture. The base is white Carrera marble to evoke clouds, and she’s light and fair as well.

Both “Round Midnight” and “Floating” were inspired by works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an American sculpture and a French painting. The figure I’m working on now is from a photo in a men’s cologne advertisement, Bleu de Chanel. Inspiration can come from surprising places, I see.

May Day

I love this time of year when the world feels reborn, the garden grows in great eruptions of bloom, and the long process of sculpture is complete and the figure emerges from the clay. This winter I found inspiration for two new sculptures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both were just on exhibit at the Art Students League on 57th Street, the venerable institution where I study.

At the Met a larger-than-life carved marble called “Evening” is cool and quiet, folding in on itself. In my hands it became “Round Midnight,” warm and pulsing with life, letting her hair down in response to a jazz riff. My second piece “Dream” was inspired by a Birth of Venus painting by Cabanel. I love the languid pose but not the ocean or the cherubic pitti flying overhead. My version is floating on air, her hair cascading down.  I found a base of carrera marble to stand in for a bed of clouds. The painting was a gift of Catherine Lorillard Wolfe, the sole woman among the founders of the Met. Her Art Club has shown two of my pieces at the National Art Club on Gramercy Park, so I feel a special affinity to her.

I’ve been painting as well. I did a series of watercolors from my visit to San Miguel de Allende, and showed “Adama Street” at the Woodstock School of Art Alumni Exhibit. My curiosity regarding abstraction and pastel was explored in a workshop with Meredith Rosier. It was liberating to focus on the watery quality of the paint and not the representation of an image, but to let the subconscious lead and to play with color and texture. I was delighted that my painting “Pulse” was accepted to a juried show. It’s at the Lev Shalem Gallery at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation.

This summer I plan to sculpt a male figure on my porch in Woodstock, a perfect studio for art. The armature and clay are ready and my hands are eager to begin.  I’m going to try more pastel.  Stay tuned, and surround yourself with beauty this summer..