These are some of the pieces I have been working on this summer. A few were unfinished pieces, that I finally got around to completing. The three medicinal herbs, wintergreen, bridewort and foxglove are all on 5×7″ canvas board. Painted from my own photo collection. The American Catalpa is painted from a tree in my own backyard. The abstracted painting of blue and yellow and green trees started out en plein air but was abstracted in studio and is still incomplete. The black lab was a photo from camping last summer at a hunting camp on Copper Lake near Old Forge NY. And is a painting of my dog. The two recent abstractions painted on gessoed archival canvas board with a gallery frame, are inspired by the Schweinfurth’s Quilting by the Lake show.
I have not painted A lot this summer, what with babysitting my precious, bright, cheerful, and darling grand daughter. Wouldn’t change a single thing there. Would go through every trauma, struggle and heartbreak a thousand times to have her in my life. I also have been struggling with the chronic disease that reared its ugly head after a 1200 calorie diet threw my whole system off. I have lost weight but at what price? I am also taking a graduate arts administration class this summer which is super time consuming but worth it. I am also downsizing tremendously and have gotten rid of some furniture, electronics, books which I can no longer read due to my vision problems (thank the goddess for iPads), clothing, purses, shoes and household items. And of course flat water paddling is my favorite past time besides babysitting, painting and reading. (I must have read 15 books already this summer).
I am am thinking about how all my work fits together, and really having some deep meta cognitive thoughts. I want to put my love of fiber arts, my realism, my abstractions, my love of line pattern and color altogether into a coherent retrospective of my work. I guess that is my next goal to kind of weed out more chafe and sort it all into a timeline and mental gathering of my life’s work.
Thats it. 😘😘
if you aren’t following my Facebook page why the hell not?
I am continuing to work in my graduate school class. Prior to spring break I was frustrated with the class, and frustrated with the boring still life. And frustrated with a je ne sais quoi.
I thought about this over the break and realized that what the frustration was is this, I had done a solid six weeks of review of the principles of painting realistically and color mixing and remembrance of painting copies of masters; I had also begun the journey of looking at other artists again, and being inspired by someone other than those painters we all know, but okay enough articles and books about them already. (Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh Gauguin, O’Keeffe etc). I purchased a French Easel and a wet canvas box, and had the ability to travel with my oil paints, and am beginning to paint en plein air. The frustration was that it was a review, right? And I wanted to split off and do MY work with a new focus and new ideas and ways of improving it.
My two plein air paintings above, neither are complete.
I felt more attached to the tree picture, so after speaking with the professor about some abstraction possibilities similar to perhaps Charles Birchfield or Emily Carr I began to add some abstraction. Which I am still working on. I wanted to stick to similar natural colors and not go into the abstract brights I typically in my pallet, so I used some Williamsburg Italian Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber a touch of Permanent Green and some Naples Yellow Hue and Gamblin Titanium White to begin to play with the trees in the background.
We discussed painting en plein air, then abstracting in studio, and returning to the place to paint again en plein air.Or perhaps painting abstractly on location. There was a sense of Zen-ness, of being where you are and experiencing the sounds, smells, and sights, (used condoms and salted minnows) and breathing in the air, talking to the fishermen that stop by or the State Conservation Officer. There is this other thing that goes on too. And this was like a light bulb, because it is absolutely correct, there is the state of what is happening in your head too, the thoughts you are having (and perhaps unlike Zen you are not just noticing and letting go but are instead deeply dwelling on them) You may get lost in remembering something someone said to you or an experience you had, or what is for dinner or the feeling of the sun on your neck and whether it will give you a sunburn or not, and finally what you are doing too, not just painting and talking to fishermen, but chasing the dog off the condom and minnows, or making sure she has water.
This head space is also what is happening when observing a painting. The interaction I recall from John Berger’s Way of Seeing is of two people, the artist and the observer, but the observer can get into the artist’s head space as well, what was the artist thinking, what was the artist’s intention. Then there is the painter, say Charles Birchfield showing the energy emanating around him in his painting, so you can sense the sounds of the insects and the wind, and feel the wind blowing across the canvas,
Last summer at the Stone Tool show in Letchworth State Park, we found this bin of cypress knobs, one of them had been painted and I thought they were quite beautiful, but most beautiful of all was the form and natural beauty of the wood. It looks to me like a bird, or a dolphin.
It is cold outside as I sit on the steps of the deck, catching an occasional whiff of the boiling bones of beaver and fox and raccoon that the Pirate is preparing for his own art. I beg for one, which I want to make into a doll. I can see it, in my mind’s eye. I am searching for the long grains and areas that seem to whirl like fingerprints in the wood. I marvel at how beautiful it is on this small close scale. I mark out the flaws and edges of flaws and the areas where there are cracks, finding that even the broken places are graceful, are stunning to look on. I find myself wishing that the tips of the pens were pointier, more durable. I find myself reminded of the Haida people’s wood carvings and painted animals it makes me curious if they too look to the inner beauty the structural beauty of the wood itself. The grain of the wood lends itself beautifully to the freestyle doodling that I love to do so much.
A couple weeks ago, when we were traveling through the Adirondacks, the pirate and I came upon this wonderful shop on Route 8 near Chestertown and Wevertown. We had the plan to go towards Fort Ticonderoga from my friends place in the vicinity of Gore Mountain, but the plan was open and flexible and as soon as we saw the wooden motorcycle (which I somehow managed to not get a good picture of) and the free form shed structures outside we both looked at each other and decided to stop.
At first we went into the mineral, fossil and bead shop, where of course I found a lovely little grey agate elephant, and the pirate bought a several long African porcupine quills. There were some lovely stone sinks, and hand carved stone art also in the shop, again really unique and beautiful stuff, but what really struck me was the amazing wordwork of Master Woodscrafter whose name I believe is Lynette. After we had purchased our items from the gem shop, she invited us to take a look around at her woodshop.
Just the sheer beauty of the truly unique wood pieces that she had around the shop waiting to be worked, was breath taking. I am afraid my photos on this grey day just do not do justice to the stunning natural quality of the unworked pieces.
It was however her intricately crafted cabinets which most impressed me. I first noticed her amazing little dollhouse. It was like the house of a wood nymph or fairy, an absolute masterpiece of work, with a gorgeous gemstone fireplace, and a hidden doorway.
Then we saw this little cabinet, that used the different colored species of wood, and the naturally formed shapes of the wood itself to create not just a cabinet, but a painted canvas. I love that unlike typical furniture which seeks to look exactly the same as every other piece, it sought to find the intrinsic qualities of each cut of wood, and to showcase it in its natural state. In each of the cabinets she showed us there were hidden compartments which were like opening a treasure box, or stealing into an old castle and finding secret passageways, there was a magic to each piece. The bar was so well thought out, with a wine rack, glass rack, bottle compartments and other places to store glasses, with an eye to keeping things out of reach of little hands. The pirate and I were both astonished at the incredible mastery of this artisan.
The drive up is one of my favorites, I often imagine taking up illegal residence in one of the shacks along the way, but it is the stay that makes the drive worth it. She jokes to me that in the summer I should come to live here, because she wishes to acquire an artist in residence. I am not less than half actually interested, I dream of bringing my laptop and writing a novel, or a memoir, of painting watercolor paintings, trudging up the long hill to the barn with my easel and canvas tucked under with my acrylic paints in hand.
She talks of early morning paddles and wanting more culture (pronounced cull tcha). We visit with an old friend we haven’t seen in 18 years, and the friend says both that of all the people who would seek her out to friend her on Facebook, we were two that she said Oh YES! to. And she also says she is not at all surprised that after all these years we are still friends, she calls us both mellow and so put together, we both laugh. Maybe not so much. But I feel butterflies in my stomach, because she is a person I love, and her husband and her children too. Very much. I bring fabric for her son to make a zombie, and her daughter to make an owl, the son goes skiing, but the daughter who at the age of 8 is already learned to sew quite well, sits with me while we research other stuffed owls and we sit at the high table in her dining room and sew the face and wings.
Before I leave I take a photo of a painting which once may have had name but I no longer remember it, for so many years it has just been The Big Yellow Painting, and it hangs in the room where her hot tub is now, but once hung in a larger living room than she has now. I love this place, both for the quiet, the dark, and the warm hearth of her home, for the organic local foods, and home cooked and home gardened everything. For the wood heat and the solar panels and the on demand water heat. Most of all I love it for the fact that we are still friends and these days better friends than we have been for many long years, and that her home and family are part of my heart.
The Big Yellow Painting, Abstract Painting that I made 23 or 24 years ago using acrylic paint on watercolor paper. This painting is approximately 6 feet by 4 feet in size.