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.