The Power in Penny



By day, Penny Santy is a graphic artist.  By night and weekends, she becomes a powerhouse superhero – an oil painting phenomenon who captures the essence and beauty of (as well as the struggle to find) the perfect relationship in a work of art.




I love having conversations about art with Penny.  She was recently in Baltimore for the Diebenkorn and Matisse show and spoke passionately about the brush strokes and the artists’ implied intention resulting in their ultimate successful choices on canvas.  It is this attention to things that Penny brings to her own work, a constant questioning of what instinctively works at any given time.





This is reflected in her literature.

My motivation for creating art is a search for what makes humans tick, and for finding emotion in the painted image. My work is derived from an exploration of human strengths, struggles, accomplishments or destruction. What is great about making art is that it goes much deeper than the outward appearance of things. I’m always searching through the process of painting for what is below the surface. The process allows me to discover, and I am excited by what I find. My paintings aren’t trying to present answers, but to ask questions.



Penny reworks paintings until they are to her satisfaction, whether it is the better choice of blue for a sky or the slightest value change in a complementary color scheme to tweak the flow of rhythm that is constantly in her vortex.  Her presence as an artist is truly captivating.




I am really impressed with this new body of work, how it defines her vision, a place hovering between reality and abstract, which generates considerable movement with breathtaking perfection.




She sold several of these paintings at the opening last night at the Wilson Art Gallery in the Noreen Reale Falcone library at Le Moyne College (1419 Salt Springs Road, Syracuse, New York 13214).  I observed patrons fighting over pieces (“okay, I’ll get that one and you can have that one” type stuff).  It was really magnificent to witness her success.  She is the real deal and I encourage anyone who wants to acquire her work to do so now before she skyrockets to the fame she deserves.




The show is titled Between Us.  In addition to the butterfly series, Penny is sharing works she’d made for juried exhibitions including the winning entry from that Adirondack show and the Bowie-inspired one from the Tech Garden show last year.  Her hen and sunflower paintings work as well here, as they reflect her proficient technical skills while fulfilling her criteria to share rhythm with respect to relationships between objects, nature and people.




The exhibition continues through February 24, 2017 and can be viewed during library hours.  Call (315) 445-4153 for more information.


Make it a Penny Santy day today!  Head over to see this show then take a drive out to Earlville, New York.  You can meet Penny at the Earlville Opera House Art Gallery  (18 East Main Street, Earlville, New York 13332) where she is exhibiting her series of bull paintings.  There is an art reception from noon to 3:00 pm today!

Matter of the Minefield




Size Matters is the title of the latest art exhibition at Clayscapes Pottery, Inc. (1003 W. Fayette Street, Syracuse, New York 13204).  The ceramic sculptures by Syracuse University grad student Peter Smith will be on display and for sale through February 23, 2017.




The show is a combination of two things – the idea of farm equipment enlarged and age simulated to act as a metaphor for man’s “relationship with the environment” according to his literature, and brilliant-hue glazed ceramic weapons mixed with porcelain gas masks, which I am assuming constitutes man’s willingness to destroy it.




The work is found attached to walls, resting on tables, hanging from the ceiling and strewn about the floor.  This, for me and my band of fun artist friends, created a sort of surreal adventure in art wonderland, as we contemplated the minefield of meaning around the space.

It was the dialogue I was having as we posed in these pictures. Guns and missiles glazed in beautiful colors, a wall of blades that reminded me of the backdrop in a knife throwing performance at the circus….   Should we laugh or be afraid?  Pretty weapons.  Fragile weapons.  But still weapons.  And the haunting effect of decaying metal artifacts produced a kind of guilt-ridden sorrow.



There is definitely something about Peter’s work that makes you want to start a discussion.  I love the idea of that narrative.  Love the way the work fits together in a cohesive way and yet any one of the pieces could find a home and continue to resonate on its own.  These gas mask castings are priced individually.


It was surreal and beautiful. Like whimsical horror. I just love this meeting of minds, love the way a college student can be such a free thinker, creating art for art’s sake but also as a means to tell a story or voice an opinion of the world as he sees it.  It’s all in the perspective!  You really ought to see this show.


You can read about Peter in this month’s issue of Ceramic Monthly.





The gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Call (315) 424-6868 for more information or visit their web-site at  They are also on Instagram (clayscape_pottery) and have a Facebook page (Clayscapes Pottery)!




American Gothic-eee


This lesson is inspired by Grant Wood’s American Gothic.



Students had to conceive an idea for the composition.  I had planned to have them draw thumbnail sketches, as well as lists of what props they would need – but after showing my  accelerated Studio in Art kids the ones done by my students in 2012 and 2013 via my school web-site, they just knew what they were going to do.  It was the craziest thing and really phenomenal the way they all collaborated with one another.


Each student planned the day for their picture – we had two weeks before Christmas break and it was a tight schedule for the twelve of them.  They all brought their costumes, props and their A games with them, lol!



I just loved how they were able to count on each other and how responsible everyone was for their respective part in both their own work and that of their friend(s).  Models allowed the artist to direct them.  The poses replicated the ones in Wood’s painting with the person on the right looking straight into the camera and the other one gazing in the distance.  I placed the school’s green screen against a wall for the photo shoots, printed the pictures then cut and pasted them to foamboard.


They created the backgrounds using a variety of mixed-media including tissue and decorative papers, toothpicks, beads, glitter and more.  The border was done in metallic paint to act as a frame.  A picture from the internet chosen to convey a theme was selected as reference and they attacked the canvas panels with vigor.  It was so exciting to see them work.  There was so much confidence amidst the chaos of all the materials.



Once the background was finished and dry (everything attached with Mod-Podge and/or hot glue), we placed 3-D Os on the back of the foamboard and poppped the pics on top.  The result – twelve very different, very cool mixed-media pieces that are currently on display in a glass case in the atrium of Chittenango Middle School in Chittenango, New York.




LOL & Art (& Fashion)

Michelle DaRin jewelry choker, Free People cardigan, Banana Republic leather top, Trina Turk leather skirt, Hue tights, Nine West booties

Today I tripped over a drawing board that was leaning against my classroom desk.  I proceeded to totally wipe out in a sort of Chevy Chase circa the ’70s Saturday Night Live skit way.  My students just shrugged it off, as if it wasn’t the stupidest thing they have ever seen a teacher do.  I don’t know how to explain why I did not rip my tights except to say that Hue brand are amazingly durable.  So stupid funny.  I couldn’t stop laughing and even now hours later the laughter is bubbling up inside and…OMG!  Here it comes again!

Banana Republic cardigan, BCBGMaxAzria dress, Hue tights, Nine West booties
Honora necklace, Banana Republic cardigan, Free People top, BCBGMaxAzria skirt, Karl Lagerfeld boots

This incident happened a few minutes after lunch – I had been making a list of intentions:  things I desire for my life, and one of them is to laugh out loud every day.  That is either totally ironic or I am a fast manifester, lol.  I guess it depends on how you look at things.

Michelle DaRin jewelry, JCrew cardigan, BCBGMaxAzria top and pants, Nine West booties
Free People cardigan and dress, Calvin Klein jeans, Nine West booties

There’s always something funny going on in the art classroom.  I keep saying I will write a screenplay one day.  It is tentatively titled Middle School Musical.  Oh and yes, there WILL be song and dance.

Banana Republic cardigan and skirt, Grant Thomas tie, Bailey 44 top, Hue tights, BCBGMaxAzria booties
BCBGMaxAzria dress, Steve Madden boots

I’m currently wrapping up lessons with my first semester crew.  Starting at the end of the month, I will entertain new students until the end of the school year in all but one class.  My Studio in Art class will remain.  They meet every day for the full year.  Students just finished up a mixed-media lesson.  I will do a post on it soon.  We will keep the materials out and do a mixed-media sculpture/mobile next then on to a portrait lesson, watercolor and finally an acrylic landscape painting.

Free People dress, Calvin Klein jeans, BCBGeneration booties

I didn’t have any Scholastic Art award winners this year (I entered eleven pieces) – a disappointment for sure, but it is not as much a reflection of the quality of the work as it is a particular judges’ whimsy.  I think I entered eleven pieces last year and six won honorable mentions.  The still life drawings we are currently finishing along with the Wayne Thiebaud-influenced drawings are looking very competitive, so I may hold on to some of them to enter next year.

Fossil bracelets, BCBGMaxAzria top and pants, Nine West booties

Meanwhile, students have created the illustrations for the Ozstravaganza 2017 coloring contest and we are exhibiting the Lions Club peace posters in the Community Room of the Sullivan Library in Chittenango, New York through February 2017.

Free People top, BCBGMaxAzria pants, BCBGeneration sandals
Banana Republic dress, Hue tights, Nine West booties

So, it is not all fun and games in the art world (we are working after all).  It is only mostly fun and games, because that is what life should be – creative fun with A LOT of laughing out loud.

BCBGMaxAzria dress and leggings, Nine West booties