Monday, October 17, 2011

Cezanne, Cezanne – he’s my man….

"An art which isn't based on feeling isn't an art at all ... feeling is the principle, the beginning and the end; craft, objective, technique – all these are in the middle."

"Style is not created through servile imitation of the masters; it proceeds from the artist's own particular way of feeling and expressing himself."
"Genius is the ability to renew one's emotions in daily experience."

Over the course of this past summer and into the fall,  I’ve been doing more and more small ‘sketches’ like the one above  -- 4-6 per week since June.     While immersed in the act of creativity, I feel truly happy, even though I’m living through much unhappiness at this point of time in my life.  When people ask me how my work is going or what I’m doing, I tell them “Experiments.”  Which makes me think back to Cezanne and some of the paintings that he called his ‘experiments.’

Some things I’ve learned:  My experiments are exercises in showing up & doing the work, even if an experiment.  I’m using up available space in sketchbooks from the past.   I’m using time spent in not working for $$’s.  My paintings are small and start simple.  In recent months I’ve been enjoying beginning my paintings not with a pencil but with brush and paint, inspired by Chinese Brush Painting videos on YouTube.   It’s quicker, saves time while time is flying.  It’s more spontaneous and lively.  It’s a lot of fun, more fun than figuring out how to improve my score at Angry Birds.

I go for the essence of what I sense is in the scene before me; color, form, perception of what is viewed and what value it has in what I see….  I think that my ‘essence’ is similar to Cezanne’s ‘sensation.’   I’m enjoying getting to know Indigo.  And Sepia.  I’ve stopped listening to the Drawing Police, Perspective Police and the Color-Mixing Police; if I’m having a good time that’s all that matters.  When the sketch is complete, it is what it is.  A kind and loving critique from self is Acceptable; demeaning Criticism & harsh judgment  is not.    

When I review these small sketches I remember what I was feeling when I did them.  The form and the color open channels into my memory, as if snapshots in a photo album.

Since I’ve been thinking back to Cezanne and his ‘experiments’ I decided to Google to find the quote I had in mind. I didn’t find that particular one but I did find the ones I quoted here.  I’ve always loved Cezanne’s paintings and have read much about the man, himself.  In the artist family I’ve created for myself, he’s the Father.    The quotes I selected struck a chord within; I feel validated.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quote for the day: DH Lawrence

Sketch for October 10, '11

"If we think about it, we find that our life consists in this achieving a pure relationship between ourselves and the living universe about us.  This is how I "save my soul",  by accomplishing a pure relationship between me and another person, me and other people, me and a nation, me and a race of men, me and animals, me and the trees or flowers, me and the earth, me and the skies and sun and stars, me and the moon:  an infinity of pure relationships big and little....This, if we knew it, is our life, our eternity:  the subtle, perfected relation between me and my whole circumambient universe."  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day of the Paint Out

Sorry about the lousy photo -- I forgot to take a picture before I put the painting under glass

I was up early this morning, way before the time the alarm was set, feeling alternately anticipatory then anxious about going to the Paint Out today.  It's a long-ish drive to Kent -- 45 minutes -- and I got there at quarter of 9.  There was no one around except the lady who was checking people in.  Everyone else was already out and working.

I'd planned on painting at the Congregational Church in Kent because other than the Art Association, it's the only place I really know in Kent as there's a great Thrift Shop next door I used to visit regularly -- before the economic downturn in this country hit me so hard that going to a Thrift Shop is now something I only dream about.  When I drove by the Congregational Church, on my way to register at the Art Association,  I noticed that they were having a Farmer's Market and already, so early, there were many cars filling the parking lot and lining the street.  After I signed in at the KAA, I got back in the car and went south for a few miles but couldn't find a place that suited my needs.

I like to find a safe place to park for me and my car.  I like sun/shade, seclusion and a place where I feel comfortable setting up camp for many hours.  Nothing appealed to me so I thought that I might as well turn around and go to Kent Falls, a State Park with a very pretty waterfall as the central feature.  By the time I got there, I was looking forward to being there as there's some good places to set up camp with inspiring scenes to paint plus Doolies -- which are far superior to bushes.  When I pulled up to the kiosk at the entrance of the parking lot a state worker asked me to pay $9 to park in the lot, sit in the park, use the doolie.  I thought for about 2 seconds and then declined and headed back down the road until I came to a cemetery I've often noticed but never investigated.  Cemeteries are usually secluded and more often than not, the parking is free.  So, that's where I spent the day, at a very old cemetery called St John's Acres.  No doolie, but plenty of privacy, so not a problem.  I could see my car from the top of the tree-shaded knoll where I spent the day.  It was parked in the grass on the side of the road and no one came along with a complaint or a request for me to pay a parking fee.  Quite often during the day, I felt I was back home -- the sound of distant sirens and the call of nearby crows.

The cell service was good, too.  During the day I took a few calls, sent a few texts.  It was weird, but fun,  talking on the phone in the middle of nowhere.  I think I started sending texts because late in the day I felt kind of bored.

I had a hard time getting started with the painting because the stones were so close together that they appeared as more of a solid wall than scattered grave markers.  Many were inches apart.  I did a few sketches and finally worked out a composition where I got the main stones and left out a whole lot more.  I liked the way the foreground stone appeared against the sky and I loved the tall pines in the background and all the other stones were props.  I also loved the fence in the background.

Around 2:30 I gathered up all my things and trekked back to the car.  I had plenty of time to get to the art association before 3 so put my painting in the matte, then in the frame, got out my point driver and closed up the painting on the trunk of my car.  I did the papering and wiring back at the art association.

Between 3 and 4 was the time everyone was supposed to be back with their paintings and do the final details & register their paintings before the auction began at 4.  A few people were late and the auction began at 4:15.  I'd signed-on to be the runner, the person delivering the paintings from where they'd been hung on racks on the porch, around the building to the back door and hand them to a person inside who lined them up and then handed them to the auctioneer when he was done auctioning off the previous painting.  Another woman offered to help and we had a good time schlepping the paintings and talking.   That took up about a half hour.  There were 40 paintings in all and by the time the auction was over, only 3 were sold.  It was a lacklustre sale.  Mine wasn't one of the ones that was sold.  Bummer.  The woman who helped me run the paintings around to the back door, her painting didn't sell either.  Double Bummer.   

A few times in the morning I felt anxious enough to want to scrap the plan for the day and head home but after I finally reached my little knoll in the cemetery and got into the sketches, I was fine and am glad that I stuck it out for the day and the auction after.

The best part of the day was after the auction.  There was a lot of leftover good food, punch & cookies and a good time hanging out with other people who had helped put on the show.  I also got a napkin full of goodies to bring home.  Chocolate chip cookies are no longer in my budget or diet, so I grabbed quite a few for company coming tomorrow.  A good day and I'm glad I worked through my stage fright and went.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Canary in the Coal Mine theory on the Arts and How I Spent My Summer

“I sometimes wondered what the use of any of the arts was. The best thing I could come up with was what I call the canary in the coal mine theory of the arts. This theory says that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive. They are super-sensitive. They keel over like canaries in poison coal mines long before more robust types realize that there is any danger whatsoever.”
-Kurt Vonnegut

I haven’t blogged in many a month, mostly because I’ve been sunk into the silence of myself as things go from worse to worser.  The quote from Kurt Vonnegut has been strong in my mind throughout, is what I think of when I think about whether to write in my blog – or not.

There’s been precious little paid work and making ends meet  in the midst of rising prices is difficult.   To say the least.

Those who support the Arts and Artists,  don’t so much, lately.    

But, I say to myself, I’ve been here before, the country I live in has seen  peril and hard-times  before, I’ll just keep putting one foot in  front of the other and hope for the best.

The best  has been that I’ve had much time to spend and much of it has been on my Art.

In the midst of these hard-times, I’ve spent much more than 2 hours a day working en studio.  I’ve designed projects that require no expenditure.  I’ve spent much time playing with paint in sketch books from the past where pages were left blank  when I stopped using them and went on to another. 

There was the surprise of finding a brand-new sketch book I forgotten I had.  

I’ve filled these sketch book pages with small paintings.   A few weeks ago, in the spirit of keeping it simple, I began sketching my composition with brush and paint, which has been a constant source of amusement, for me. 

Rather than spend gas & put un-necessary wear and tear on car and tires,  I’ve been staying home, painting from my windows, front porch, from my lawn chair somewhere in the yard around the house….  Home Beach, I call it, and a wonderful place it’s been for me these past many months.  With the sound of the brook running through the culvert out back, the sound of crows and other birds ringing through the air in the peace of this neighborhood, I can well imagine myself at Southford Falls, a place where I love to be for the pond & brook feeding the pond, the open land around it, trees and few people.  There have been people on my Home Beach and the encounters with them has been part of the fun.


Since The Internet,  George Bush and 911 I’ve been more politically active than I was since the years of the Clinton administration;   this past summer, I’ve doubled my online activism and in my own way, have strengthened the power of my voice and my vote.  I am glad to see that People have begun to act up, speak out and stand up for the power of their convictions.  For the first time in ages, I feel a sense of hope that the 99%’ers will be able to make a change that we 99%’ers so desperately need.   I'm with them in spirit.  

Off and on this past summer I’ve been thinking about participating in a Paint Out at the Kent Art Association, where I’m a member.  Sometimes I think Yes, with a great deal of confidence.  Sometimes I think NO, it’s too public an event and my stage fright is overwhelming.  On this topic, I feel that I’m on the high diving tower at Sandy Beach, vacillating and hesitant to dive into the water or go back down the ladder.  I also remember how good it felt to let go, dive in and do it over and over again.  I haven’t  yet signed up as an entrant in the Paint Out but I did sign-on as a runner for the auction later in the afternoon on the day of the Paint Out, so I’m that committed.  The weather looks good for next Saturday and I discovered a ¼ sheet of watercolor paper so there’s a good chance I’ll be in Kent next Saturday,  Painting Outside with all the experience from practicing all summer at Home Beach.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Here's my 9/11/01 story.

I remember the day well because I saw what turned out to be the 2nd plane to hit the World Trade Center.  We crossed paths on the top of Sharon Mountain. 

I was on my way to Millerton.  I went early to the place where I work let in the guy who was installing a dishwasher.  Much earlier that morning my computer crashed and I lost the entire guest list for a show I was doing in Woodbury in one month.  I also lost all the information for a grant I was applying to in ten days.  I was in a dark & horrible mood as I drove from Litchfield toward Millerton.  Somewhere around Warren, I noticed that it was a gorgeous day and that I wasn't appreciating it with my dark mood and thoughts, so decided to let it all go until later and enjoy the beautiful day.  As I drove up Sharon Mountain I could feel my positive mental energy coming back.  When I got to the top of the mountain the 1st thing I noticed, coming my way at an angle from the right,  was a huge commercial jet cruising low over the treetops.  It was so close I could see the windows and the insignia on the tail.  I gasped from the beauty of it because it was so low & reflecting the early morning rising sun which made it appear to be pale pinks, yellow, orange....   It also seemed to be going quite slow, just cruising slowly at a low altitude.  It was approx. 8:10am and the encounter probably took less than 10 seconds. As the plane crossed over the highway, I drove through the shadow it cast on the road.  It didn't appear to be in trouble -- no smoke or parts falling off....  It was huge thrill -- uplifting! -- to see it, as if I'd spotted a rare and hugely unusual bird.  I thought to check out the 6 'o' clock news that night to see if there was any mention of a plane flying low over nw CT but as it turned out, I didn't have to wait that long.

I drive to Millerton every week and every week at the spot where I first spotted the plane, I always think about the encounter and remember that day.  My thoughts and prayers are for all the souls that day who experienced the planes in a less innocent way and for the rest of us who are no longer innocent of the threat of terror. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Arrangement of Pigment on Flat Surfaces

Wed, June 29, ‘11

Life has been busy in recent weeks and with one thing or another, I just haven’t written.  One of the things was computer meltdown, another, an out of town friend in town,  more social life overall now that spring/summer’s here and more employment , some of it teaching, some of it a calligraphy commission and the resumption of a cleaning job I’ve held for many years.

Because of the computer melt-down I'm back to using my Netbook, which isn't as satisfactory or as fast as my former laptop.  It's painfully and woefully slow.  Trying to get anything done with this tiny computer seems to take forever and blogging with it isn't a very appealing feature.  I'm saving my pennies for a new laptop.

The difficulties of last winter are fading.  I told that to a friend today.  He said, yes, they are but don’t forget that next winter is looming.  Well, I haven’t forgotten but today I choose to worry about today and let next winter take care of itself.  It’s a beautiful, poetic June day.   Around here, we’ve had more rain and gray days than sunny so the past 3 or 4 days of sun and balmy air is making everyone giddy.

I’ve been spending more time doing calligraphy and selling Serenity Prayer’s on eBay.  That’s been an interesting experience and also a lot of strengthening in my hand.  With every Serenity Prayer the lettering is a little stronger, a little tighter, a little more uniform overall.   I didn’t/don’t make a lot of money this way but every little bit helps and it helped a lot when gas was up over $4. Per gallon.  I’m calling it paid practice.

Other than sketches, I haven’t been painting.  And other than the early preparatory stages, my calendar sits untouched.  I’ve accepted that I’m in a phase of Stop, Look, Listen and am going with that for now.  Until further notice.

While I haven’t been painting, I have been doing a lot of sketching and am going to share them here.  They’ve been a great source of amusement, pleasure and learning for me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Some thoughts on Calligraphy and Ink

For many years in the past, I pursued an interest in calligraphy.  I'm largely self-taught but got to the point where I took a few classes as well as a year long workshop with a well-known calligrapher, Annie Cicale.  I did OK, did a lot of documents and Wedding Invitations plus some well-paid and interesting work for a poet. for more than 8 years.  When The Poet became ill and moved to a nursing home, I no longer had interesting & well-paid work to do illuminating and transcribing his poetry so I let it all go and spent my spare time pursuing my interest in Plein-Air Painting.  Recently I offered to address wedding invitations for a nephew’s wedding and in order to do a good job, began to practice my calligraphy.

I’ve long known that my supplies were short but decided to make-do with the best I had.  A friend had given me a huge package of pointed nibs so I decided to use those rather than purchase the kind I’d rather have.  I’ve really enjoyed learning to use these nibs which are most unlike the chisel-type nibs I used in the past.

A few weeks ago, as I was practicing my lettering skills with one of these nibs, I calmed down my racing mind with my mantra, the Serenity Prayer.  Which got me to thinking along new lines that went somewhat like this; if I had a nickel for every time I’ve slowed down & balanced my mind with the Serenity Prayer I not only wouldn’t be as calm or relatively sane. I’d also be quite well-off financially.  While I thought these thoughts, I started writing the Serenity Prayer.  The new thought was if I had a dollar for every time I wrote the Serenity Prayer, I’d be better-off financially. 

One thing I’m enjoying is the freedom to make mistakes and allow them to remain on works that I’m selling.  I’m working on one of my Stumbling Blocks, Perfectionism.  Were I to upload a copy of a ‘perfect’ piece, I’d still be re-working my 1st one and I doubt my mind would be calm or ‘sane.’

I’m also enjoying using the equipment and supplies I’ve had on hand for many years, making-do with what I have and not feeling that I have to invest in new.  I’m enjoying re-inventing my skills and use of.  Today I used 2 Schaeffer calligraphy pens that have been stored away for years.  Someone who tried their hand at calligraphy and felt they’d failed gave them to me, thinking I might be able to use them.  Little did they know....  Well, in the day when I bought 10 or 15 new nibs to make sure I’d have enough for a particular job, I inwardly turned up my nose at one of these pens.  Today, I’m loving them.

I’m enjoying the practice; it’s a good discipline for me.  I’m enjoying thinking about all the things I can make on decorated watercolor paper with a few pen nibs, some ink and a paint box full of gouache.  I’m enjoying learning to break my well-established rules of semi-rigid perfectionism & recipes for failure, enjoying the honest work of art that come out of my daily practice – ‘warts’ and all.

I did purchase a bottle of new ink to use on the Wedding Invitations.  It was to me, somewhat pricey, but it sounded good – matte black, waterproof – which one needs to use on outer envelopes in case the mail carrier delivers it in the rain.  As it turns out, I struggled with this ink through 95 addresses and have come to the conclusion that it’s horrible ink that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone for any purpose, unless maybe you’re into Graffiti Art and need a fast  splash of black –  which would finish off what’s left in the bottle. 

This morning, I shook the bottle before using and commenced dipping my pen into the ink.  The ink positively would not flow.  I looked into the bottle and what was there was the consistency of pudding.  I watered it down a bit so I could finish what I’d started,  constantly dipping and wiping a lot more than I did actual lettering.  It took me a very long time to letter the above Serenity Prayer

A thumbs-down to this ink.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

An overcast and gray day, today, but with a sense of dim light.  When I first sat down to sketch the one thing that was prominent in my mind was Green.  Lush, thick, pervasive, cool and everywhere.  It’s interesting to me that these sketches appear to me now so different than they did when I was making them.  On the scene, the greens seemed dulled down and properly morose.  After being scanned and mildly edited, the greens appear as pale, yet oddly garish.    

Today is the 2nd day I’ve painted at the farm since last fall.  Painting at the farm last season, I had the feeling of someone who has returned after a long journey, seeing the familiar with new eyes.  So far this year, I have the feeling that I’ve been here awhile, settled in, part of the landscape....  Not a sense of newness but a sense of being more firmly rooted.  

I got to the farm at 10 and settled into my spot on the road near the orchard and stayed until noon.  I’d thought to do more drawing than painting but these 2 sketches are what I actually did.  I’ve been inspired by sketches at a website on the Internet called Urban Sketchers where artists from around the world upload recent sketches.  I love to look at this work and think about relating what I see in other's work to what I see me wanting to do with what's around me that interests me.  I was inspired to try brush and paint sketching this morning and this is how it came out. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thank you, Jackson Pollock!

“Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn't have any beginning or any end. He didn't mean it as a compliment, but it was.”  Jackson Pollock 

“It’s all a big game of construction, some with a brush, some with a shovel, some choose a pen.”  Jackson Pollock

“The method of painting is the natural growth out of a need. I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them.”  Jackson Pollock

Monday, May 2, 2011

I recently volunteered to address Wedding Invitation envelopes for my nephew and his bride-to-be, as a gift.  After they accepted, I started practicing my calligraphy, something I haven’t done in years.  I was feeling discouraged and down about the results of my practice as well as many other things going on in the world and in my life.  As is my practice when my mind starts reeling & feels overwhelmed, I thought of the Serenity Prayer and began writing it as my practice piece.   Over and over....   As I wrote I had the thought that if I had a nickel for every time I said the Serenity Prayer to calm my mind I’d not only be a lot less calm but a lot more rich.  As money is one of my worries at the moment, I decided to make something of the practice I’m doing.  As ‘Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without’ is one of my mantras in my recent economic downfall, I decided to start doing these practice pieces on watercolor paper that I’d decorated with color applied loosely and that I’d spattered and had set aside for a few years, for a project I never carried further.

I’ve been listing these practice pieces on eBay for .99 and lo and behold....!  One of the pieces has 2 bids and is now up to $1.29.

I’m now working on 2 more and feel that with the practice and the focus, I’m getting better.  I’m going to continue this practice as long as I can.  Who knows, maybe I’ll sell enough Serenity Prayers to actually have a few extra bucks.  I’m hoping that the Serenity Prayers I’ve recently offered for sale on eBay will get better and better because the first few I’ve listed aren’t that great.  Worth all of .99.

I’ve discovered that within myself I’m eager to do more of this work, to get better.  I’ve enjoyed the out-of-time moments in the real-time hour or so I spent this morning working on the 2 I finished today.  I’m enjoying getting back into a routine of practice and the thinking that goes with it about how I’d like to do the next one, how I can make these pieces look better, how I can work more efficiently, how I can best make use of my crumbling tools and cranky pen nibs...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wahoo! Painting Outside, First time in '11!

Looking South through Orchard on corner Bassett & Linkfield; Apr 30, '11

Apr 30, ‘11

Not the perfect day for painting outside, but not the worst, either.  It was windy and cloudy, but also green and bright.  The temp was in the low 50's, the clouds made dark shadows over the landscape with bright spots where the sun shone through.   The wind was chilly so I put on my windbreaker with the hood and put a blanket over my knees and feet.  As soon as I was settled, the clouds moved away and the wind died down.  Birds were singing as well as darting about gathering nesting material.  As I sat on the side of the road near this orchard, a man on a tractor was down the hill running a mulching machine through the branches that were trimmed off the trees a month ago.  So, a very busy but also a very quiet morning on the farm.  Very beautiful and most peaceful.

My heart was full of Thank you, thank you, thank you this morning – for all the spring beauty that has been my privilege to enjoy all week and especially today.  I specifically want to thank all the people all over Litchfield County who have forsythia bushes in their yards.  The display has been spectacular this year.  Today it was most beautiful.

I enjoyed making this sketch in my sketch book.  I started out with a Sharpie Fine Point and then painted over the drawing – kind of like a Coloring Book.  What excited me were the tiny new leaves on the trees but they were the most difficult to portray plus I wasn’t doing a good job of mixing paint thick enough to splatter nicely because of the cold, wind, eagerness to get going and because I was trying to work so fast.  But, I did have a great time just being there, so that’s the most important thing to me.  As I was working I was thinking how I could turn this into a painting for my calendar.  Time will tell but I’ll be sure to post the results.

While I was working, I knew there was a car coming but didn’t bother to look up until it stopped in front of me, which was then that I noticed the driver was my sister B.  She laughed, said she saw a person sitting in a lawn chair by the side of the road doing some kind of painting and wondered who it would be painting outside on a chilly day like today.  When she recognized the person as me she then realized it could only be one of her relatives.

I’d planned to leave-off my painting at noon & go to lunch at mom's, but left a half hour earlier; I was chilly and hungry.  I would have left even sooner except the owner of the farm came along, stopped to talk for a good long chat.  I haven’t seen him since last November, so we talked about how winter sucked and how glad we are that it’s spring.  At mom’s,   Sister B was digging up Daylilies, so I took a few clumps to plant at home.  She and I had a nice chat and then mom came along and we all went inside, out of the wind.   They messed around with mom’s computer while I heated up the Corn Chowder I made this morning and brought for lunch.  I was glad to sit down to a big steaming bowl of chowder after my chilly but exciting artist morning and feel most grateful for a serene and tranquil day of painting and being with loved ones.

I'm so glad it's truly Spring and so glad for my first day of Painting Outside.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tribute to Emily Dickinson -- Calligraphy over Watercolor

“ A good reflective statement describes step-by-step what you did, and more importantly, why you did it.”

It’s part of my process to sit down and write in my journal  – or blog – for a few minutes every morning.  Recently, I felt unable to write my thoughts so drew little sketches of the redbuds on the tree outside my window.  

My thoughts led me to a gray April afternoon at the Emily Dickinson home in Amherst, MA.  I’d managed to get a few minutes alone in Emily’s bedroom, so felt alone with her.  It was interesting to see what was outside her window – about the same that was out mine, at home.  Houses, lawns, trees, sky, faraway hills....  What inspired her to write inspires me to paint.

I loosely painted my quick impression of the trees, the buds and the sky – more water than paint.  There are pine trees behind the tree branches but in this experiment, I left them out.  I wish I’d left them in because the green would have provided a better balance.  For the branches, I used a quill drawing brush, for the redbuds, I spattered.  There were a few areas on the paper where I spattered into wet puddles, so the paint ran.  I used a hair dryer to dry the paper quickly so I wouldn’t lose my ‘roll.’

I lettered the poem to Emily Dickinson using an ink pen and ink.  A friend gave me 50 or so quill lettering nibs, which I highly enjoy using.  I chose to letter spontaneously without first making guide lines, and do the best I could.  I enjoyed making each letter, making the whole thing work.  The enjoyment was the best part.   I'll do it differently 'next time.'

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey....  

Process is our most important Product....

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 21, ‘11

Today as an Artist was spent working on an idea using very porous paper, working on an idea for a painting in mind – of the tree limbs with the red buds outside my front window.  The results didn’t please me but I had a good time getting those results.

Not a very pretty day here, today.  Cold and gray with occasional spells of heavy mist, almost rain, but not quite.  A good afternoon to take a nap except that I had to be at the KAA to hand out awards.  I was out the door by 2, hoping that I’d have a smooth trip and get there a little before 3.  I wanted to see my sister and do some schmoozing before the award ceremony.

I had a great ride to Kent.  There’s something about the mists today that is very beautiful and makes everything appear beautiful in it.  Forsythia is beginning to blossom and there was much of it to see.  My heart saying thank you thank you thank you all the way to Kent, just from forsythia.  I was playing Stevie Ray Vaughn and Albert King on the iPod, had it cranked, got into the spirit of Road Trip....

It’s been interesting to me to see the process of getting ready for a show at the gallery and how much we owe to dedicated volunteers.  I’m glad for the time I spent learning how the machine works and for the time I spent talking to new people.

The woman who does most of the work is a workhorse, very organized and efficient.  She taught school for 40 years, 2nd Graders which may help explain her efficiency and her enormous patience.  

Today was party-time & everyone was dressed a little more festively than we were last week when we were working.  I had 2 interesting and fun conversations before I went into the main gallery to see if my sister was there.  She was, and I surprised her.  She was talking to 2 other women, one who I met last week, and it turned out that she had been a painting partner of my sister so we networked and had a great time.  My sister and I had a great laugh over the hour phone call she and my mother had last night trying to teach my mother how to turn off the computer.  I said better your computer buddy than mine and god bless you.

I had really interesting conversation with the woman who’s the president and workhorse of the organization.  We got to talking about Vermont and I told about my 2 years there – it was the best of times, it was the worst of times....  Turns out she’s from St Albans.  She, her husband, another guy and I had a great conversation about Vermont, living in Vermont etc etc.  I told them a little about my Montgomery Center days and we had such a good time talking that we didn’t notice that it was after 3 and we were intending to make the presentation of the awards.  It wasn’t terribly formal and my handing out the presentations was completely ceremonial, but it was friendly and fun and I felt happy to be there and also happy that my chairmanship was over.   

I enjoyed that I’d talked about Vermont in such a conversational manner.  And that we knew so many places in common.  The President is originally from Vermont and for the 1st time in the years I’ve been seeing her at the KAA, she smiled, her eyes brightened and I found myself liking her, finding her interesting.  Her husband, as well.  

Three paintings I saw last week in the judging and this week on the walls inspired me.  Two of the paintings were by the same person, were quite large and done completely in charcoal – very powerful images, monumental, had great depth....  The other was an acrylic of hills and a bit of a lake, such as we see often around here except the colors could have been stained glass.  

The food; I forgot there would be food and I was glad, because I had brunch at 10:30, an English muffin with peanut butter, and by 2:30 - 3, I was hungry.  It was great; tasty things to dip into incredibly good guacamole, chocolate chip cookies to die for, quesadillas with guacamole made with a lot of fresh cilantro, chips and a fresh made salsa that was absolutely wonderful and fresh and superbly seasoned.  I like that the chef didn’t spare the garlic or cilantro.  The best thing was the wraps; Salmon strips, cucumber chunks and some kind of spicy sauce in 1" rounds.  

After I got back, I dressed for the gym, grabbed my shopping bag and went for groceries and then the gym.  Before the grocery store, I stopped by the convenience store for chocolate milk and drank about half a quart before I went shopping.  After shopping, I spent an hour at the gym.  The chocolate milk kept me fortified and hydrated; I had a great workout & am sure that from the mental exercise and then the physical, I’m going to sleep well tonight.

Artist Reflective Statement Apr 21, '11

“It’s extremely important to be self-aware as an Artist.”

“We should always be thinking about our processes, our decisions, our strengths and weaknesses and our prejudices.  Knowing these things will help us learn from our mistakes and use our strengths to their fullest advantage.”


I'm closing down my website, on May 5.  Due to The Economy -- rising prices of gas, food, rent --  I can no longer justify the expense.  I'm sad about this but It Is What It Is....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Window Tree -- early stages

Light tint of Burnt Sienna, Frisket over some elements to reserve white


I’ve spent most of the weekend working on sketches of the redbuds on the tree outside my window and thinking about a painting I’d like to do.  I decided to title the painting Window Tree after a Robert Frost poem – “Tree at my window, Window Tree….” 

Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.
Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.
That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.

I’ve been on a major eBay push this week, listing the last of some stuff I’ve been saving to sell on eBay and selling some things for others.  I’ve also been fretting over a personal relationship with a loved one, so spending a lot of time doodling, sketching, working out patterns and paint mixes while sitting on the couch looking out the window between bouts of eBay tasks.

I’m scheduled to be the chairperson for the next show at my art association which means that while I can hang a painting, it’s not eligible for judging.  I decided last night that I’d put all the recent experience of doodling, sketching and working out a rough idea in my mind I’d do a very small painting to put in the show and who knows, maybe someone will love it and put down some cash to take it home; if nothing else, that’s taking advantage of an opportunity to ‘get my work out there.’

This is a 5 ½” x 7 ½”  painting on Winsor Newton 140# WC paper.  After I did the drawing with BIC mechanical pencil, I wet the paper and worked in a tint of Burnt Sienna.  While the paper was still wet, I wiped it off with a paper towel, then let it dry.  The light and watery tint of BS Burnt Sienna, (not Bull sh*t), helped wash off some of the graphite and not only gave me a lightly toned surface to work on but a clean surface as well.  When that was dry, I went over some places on the branches with Friskit.  When that was dry, I lightly painted in the shape of the pine trees and when that was dry, added spaces for even more buds and light parts on farther back limbs with friskit.  When that was dry, I did the background trying for paint that was thick and dark so as to be in contrast with the tree limbs.

The tone of the painting matches my sense of the tone of today.  When I started this painting the sky was gray but starting to turn blue.  We had a night of rain last night, and a cool and gray start to the day. Blue sky and sun was promised by noon, and there it was, right on time.

The background finished and the Friskit removed

For the past few days, the weather has been cool, so the buds stayed dark red and tightly closed.  There was sun on Saturday and it must have been enough to get these guys going because today, they’re dark red but opening and have aureoles of yellow.  And bees buzzing through….

The sun is shining brightly but the light is still somewhat modified by an opaque sky.  The day is getting warmer and a few minutes ago, the sweet smell of spring air that drifted in was uplifting.  I took a deep breath of it.  Ahhhh, Spring for real.

I now need to go and do more eBay stuff and will continue to work on this painting.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Winds of Change? or Nuclear Meltdown Anxiety...


Another day of wind, chilly temp, wind-chill factor and strong sunlight.

I've been reading the news; I'm feeling a vague yet disturbing sense of alarm and anguish at the spreading radiation from the disaster in Japan.  I read that 'Tiny' amounts of radiation have been found Las Vegas and in rain in Massachusetts.  My sister lives in MA.  I live in CT.  I'm skeptical, hoping that indeed the amount is 'tiny' but I'm somewhat doubtful that this is true.   Thoughts of what might be in the today's wind, yesterday's rain & spreading rapidly around the world is making me feel uneasy.   And sad.  And angry.

In the past few hours, while I've been pondering my nuclear- meltdown-anxiety, I've also been focussed on transferring my original graph-paper drawing to Watercolor paper.  I used a fine-point purple Sharpie to trace the original drawing onto graph paper, a #6 lead pencil to darken the lines on the back of the tracing and a ball point pen to draw over the purple lines onto the watercolor paper.  

Let the painting begin.  There's little fear of nuclear meltdown in the world of  my work.  


Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Meditational Aspect...


So far, no word that either of my paintings have been sold....  

Today is sunny, windy and even though the temp is a few degrees abaout freezing, it feels as if it's a few degrees below.  My space heater is turned  somewhat higher than usual.  I'm bundled up in all kinds of warm clothing, Fat Albert & his hot computer-frying butt is sleeping in my lap,  still, I feel cold.  It's the wind, I'm sure; it's a stiff Wind & penetrating.  Well, it is March and March is known for wind, so here we are....  Wind.  Did I mention that the sun was nice?  And the spring shadows crossing the back yard?   And how glad I am to see the last of the snow?
I drove by the farm yesterday on my way to my mom's for lunch.  Spring is coming to the farm.  2 weeks ago, snow covered the fields and the orchards seemed to still be sleeping.  Yesterday, barely a trace of snow and the monotonous grays and tinted gray-whites have been replaced by fields of monotonous Yellow Ochre and barely-there hints of green.  Something puzzled me about the appearance of the orchard against the sky and closest to the road until it suddenly dawned on me that the trees had all been pruned in the 2 weeks since I've been there -- that's why they looked so breathtaking stark against the sky & even more sculpted than usual.  The trees were furry with suckers all fall and winter but by yesterday, all the suckers had been removed, stacked in neat and orderly piles at the base of each tree.  A massive bonsai project.... 


Yesterday was a day much like today; similar sun, temp and wind.  I stopped by the side of the orchard on my way home but only for a photo op.  The wind was chilly & penetrating yesterday, as well.  I'm eager to be able to get back to painting outside but it's not quite time.  

While I was photographing I was thinking about what it was I wanted from what it was I was seeing; that's the only note-taking I did.  As I photographed I thought about Composition and all the Scales & Tools I've been taught to use since way back when.  I tried to store as much of the thought as possible in my all too mortal memory bank.  The photograph that struck my fancy as having Compositional interest, that might be fun and convey some Personal/Universal meaning to which we can all relate, was this one I've been working on all morning.  Yesterday, while arranging the image in my mind for a photo, I also thought about how I could eventually arrange the image to fit on a piece of WC paper and then make that into a painting for my calendar; what did I want it to say to others about us and our experience of Spring and Orchards and our Sensations and how do I go about doing that given the parameters/boundaries that are mine to deal with.  And so on....

This morning, after reading the news on the Internet and writing/venting/responding....the last word I typed was OUTRAGED!!!! -- in the Comment box, my thoughts on a disturbing article about how people on Social Security can't expect a Cost of Living increase any time soon -- if ever,  I turned my attention to taking the 1st steps to planning my next painting for my calendar.  It was a good step to take and a really good thing that I had all that thought about the image stored in my memory and that there's much I can do to begin a painting without even thinking about it.  My mind was wild from having read any of the news, never-mind that one article.  The moment I got out the graph paper, ruler, pencil -- the Tools -- my mind and blood pressure began to settle down as my hand and pencil drew lines and shapes on a grid.  Soon, the world of News and woes slipped away.  

This morning's work was a good Meditation.  After a few hours of work on this drawing, my mind felt peaceful, orderly -- calm.  This is one of the most wonderful things that happens for me when engaged in a Drawing. Meditation.  I endorse highly the practice of the Art of Drawing.  

v. med·i·tat·ed, med·i·tat·ing, med·i·tates
1. To reflect on; contemplate.
2. To plan in the mind; intend: (meditated a visit to her daughter....)

Buddhism & Hinduism To train, calm, or empty the mind, often by achieving an altered state, as by focusing on a single object.
To engage in devotional contemplation, especially prayer.

To think or reflect, especially in a calm and deliberate manner. 

Latin:  meditatio : practice, preparation, getting ready / consideration, pondering....


Saturday, March 26, 2011

On the Beach

On the Beach:  I've been in a low-down funk.  Big-time Blues.  Winter...The Economy & my lack of employment, friends in peril...the Earthquake, Tsunami & Nuclear Melt-down in Japan...Some of my old Baggage....

The Earthquake and Tsunami were bad enough.  My heart has been aching for the souls who were swept away that day and for the lives that have been set in chaos.  The Meltdown and Radiation have been bringing up fears in me that have been sleeping or buried for a long time.

When I was a kid in school we'd have Air Raid Drills where we had to crouch under our desks and wait for the All Clear.  Adults in my life would talk about the chaos of nuclear/atomic disaster.  By the time I was in 6th grade, I was a skeptic --
One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions..  I called the Fire Drills Crouch -Under- Your- Desk- and- Kiss- Your- Ass- Goodbye.  I was a prolific reader and had, by then, read a book by an English author named Nevil Shute called On the Beach.  The book was later made into a movie.  I found the book horrifying, yet inspirational.  What I've been remembering this past week is that the characters in the book all knew that it was only going to be a matter of time before the cloud of radiation killed them and the story was about what they did with the time they had, before they all met on a beach in Australia and joined together to die.

I was terrified as a kid by the thought of nuclear devastation.  I love this Earth, this World and want to treat it well and to see it treated well.  But whatever power had established the reality of this fear was bigger than I so I drew comfort in deciding what I would do until the time I went to join the  others On the Beach.  

I'd forgotten about this until this past week; the reminder gave me comfort and after a few dark nights of the soul, I'm back on my beach....

As far as Art and Painting go, this has been a week that has produced more thought than action.

A week ago, I entered 2 paintings in a show at my art association.  On one painting, the larger one, I set the sale price as the same amount as my Rent.  On the other, I established the sale price according to what I'll need for Utilities and Groceries.  One of the people in Receiving somewhat scoffed at my pricing, raised her eyebrows, her upturned her lips held a faint sneer.  I could only imagine the criticism going on in her mind....  I explained that I had nothing to lose and might as well ask for what I want and need.  She shook her head as if in disbelief that I could do something so ridiculous.  The look on her face, to me, was judgemental and critical -- negative.  I tried to remember her face and hoped that the next time we met she'd be laughing out the other side & that I'd be laughing and whoo-hooing on my way to the bank. 

This past Monday, I practiced my calligraphy for a few hours.  My 'hand' (like a trumpeter or clarinetist's 'lip') is getting stronger.  Perhaps someday soon I'll be ready to tackle the job of addressing a big pile of wedding invitations.

Painting; I slapped paint on paper, watched it dry.  I started loose and wet and ended up working in lots of color, then watched it dry again.  I scratched paint out, I distressed the paper with sharp objects, I splattered, I used a variety of brushes.  I'm not showing any because they look like tear-covered vomit.  The work I did felt like weeping, like vomiting and after a day of illness, I felt purged and weak.  I'm feeling much better, now.  

Albert, my cat, slept on the keyboard of my computer and eventually, due to a combination of his heat and the computer heat, fried the hard drive on the computer while he warmed his big butt.  This happened when the rest of my life was turning to shit, the day my car was towed to the garage for repairs, the day I was told I didn't have enough students to hold a class, and now, no computer-- all factored-in to my lowering sense of desolation,  bitterness and fear.  But, he's a cat and I knew I should have checked to make sure that the lid to the computer was completely down -- as I've been doing for the past year -- before I left for the day.  I have no excuse or reason except distraction.  (Note to self....)

Or maybe the Universe is telling me something....

I spent the next day in bed and later on, walked it off and worked it out for an hour at the gym.


In the moment, Now, I'm grateful for Enough, to be here, to be me.  I'm grateful that I bought the little Netbook last year that I'm now using.  Holding a brand new computer in Reserve turned out to be an enormous Gift and I bow my head in gratitude.   My mechanic gave me a break on the repair to my car; didn't charge for the tow, got a discount on the new starter from the supplier & passed the savings onto me.  My car shouldn't have needed a new starter as the one that died was only 2 1/2 years old.   I'm grateful to my previous mechanic for sending me to this guy and for the trust I have in both.  There's nothing I can do about not having the interest in and commitment to a class to teach at the moment or the income I won't be receiving.  Another class is scheduled for April and in the mean-time, maybe I'll sell a painting....

"When the Teacher is ready, the Students will Appear."