Settling into Peace

the-view-from-my-easel

It’s not quite this white outside my studio window, but the valley is peaceful and the tracks are there, we just can’t see them right now.

New paintings are varnished and Herself delivered them to the amazing John Corcoran, he won’t mind me showing off his new website… click here . He will do his magic, as he does with every one of my paintings, and make a digital record before it heads back here for framing and then off to the designated gallery, or patron.

The early morning studio delivery wagon has just pulled out of the drive with the final tubes and boxes from our winter workshop.

The teakettle is rattling on its way to boil for the first thermos of darjeeling of the day.

A brand new panel is up on the easel, with sketch ready to transfer. Palette ready for some fresh new paints. Curtain pulled back and the view in the painting above is what I have beside me, and all I need is before me.

An email has just come in from Peggy, her thought for today for the artiste,

“Art should be like a holiday: something to give a man the opportunity to see things differently and to change his point of view.” Paul Klee

It certainly feels like a holiday here, the spirits of solstice are sparkling and the view is open to change.

Back to the easel now for me…YEAH !!!!!!


Commissions

One more day, or perhaps two, and I’ll be finished with the latest commission.I have spent the last few weeks immersed, I wonder if baptized would be a better word, in the, previously unfamiliar, world of Fly Fishing. Every part of this adventure has been exciting to the senses. Meeting the fisherman, listening to his stories, getting acquainted with the gear, watching Tom Skerritt cast his protestant philosophy in A River Runs Through It, and sitting on the carpet of autumn leaves along the bank of my own Little Conewago Creek and listening.

I’ve had one half of the studio blocked off with the set up and I’m ready now to pack that up and let go of the still part of the term “Still Life” and tease out the last bit of magic I have been waiting to add.

Since this is a commission, that fisherman gets the first peek. But stay tuned, I am eager to share the rest of the story.

For today, here’s a look back on one of my first and favorite commissions, from the doorway in my old treetop studio, which still stands along the creek’s bank, treasures from Walt and Lin’s family and a dusting of mother nature as muse…

 

Outward-Bound

Painters’ Notes …

Outward Bound

I can’t imagine a Pennsylvania winter without snow.
The howling winds of a Nor’easter. Ice freezing a path across the lake.
Fields covered in white with their stubble of corn stalks stitching their way over the hills
to the horizon. Wood smoke from chimneys on distant farms. Animal tracks crisply outlined in blue white frosty morning crystal. And a shockingly peaceful quiet in the air.

But here we are. The warmest February to date.
Not enough snow so far this fickle season to take a broom to.
In my studio, leaning against a bookshelf, are the snowshoes that Walt’s father was given
in exchange for a country healing. The wooden skies and boots that Lin and the boys have worn thin,
and a leather strap of sleigh bells which now ring their history proudly each time I open the blue door.

So it was that the other morning, when I finally opened my eyes and the good dog Gulliver
nuzzled my arm awake and I managed to put on the layers of clothing in the same order in which they
had been discarded the night before, and, we two, the pup and myself, came to the cabin door…
and the wind actually blew a stinging swirl of snow in our faces…

that I began again to believe.

It only lasted a few hours.Long enough for the snow to build up on the intricate laces of the snow shoes.
For the winter light to reflect its solemn rainbow across the skies…

and for just a touch of warmer light
to remind me that this collection of objects
represents the folding in of two branches
of a great family tree
in testimony to their respect
for nature and heritage.


Feathered

It’s a wonderfully dreary start to the day before Thanksgiving in central Pennsylvania, the perfect weather for painting.

We, like so many in this land, have a large plucked bird in the fridge and are planning to roast it with most of the trimmings and be thankful. And I am, for many things. But today, I thought I’d concentrated on…the birds.

Watching them, feeding them, learning about them, painting them, and most of all the delight of coming upon the treasured gift of their feathers.

window

The studio is full of them. Collected over the years, their beauty astounds. With my new bionic knees I am back out on the trails, and the muses are back as well…

pheasant

After finding this beauty, I decided it was time to get serious about identification so I got this book…

book

Which I highly recommend. I’ve been pouring over it for days now. And the first one I spied was this one which recently made a supporting role appearance in this painting you might remember…

the master carvers tea

if you zoom in on the Jorgesen, that would be the clamp for you non-woodworkers, you will see the feather, which…every single one of the avian enthusiasts mis-identified. I have four of them which have been floating around here for years. But right there on page 91…

chukar

we see that it belonged to a Chukar !
Further research, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, reveals that the Chukar is…
chukar web

A native of southern Eurasia, the Chukar was introduced into the United States from Pakistan to be a game bird. It lives in arid, rocky terrain across the western United States and southern Canada.
And then it hit me…I already knew that. Insert fading memory comments here as you will, but it all came back to me. Years ago, I’ll say 4, I found one perched on my studio garage roof. As you can see, it is a stunner of a bird so it caught my attention, but it is also not a local gal. I also seem to remember that, when first I googled this creature, there was mention of raising these smallish sized birds to release for hunters to take down with big guns, ( picture me here shaking my head in dismay).

The memory of finding the feathers is lost but, when I decided to take the leap to add that little bit of whimsy to Peter’s painting, it was after all a painting of Peter, the birdman of Plymouth, I didn’t have to look far to find the perfect candidate as these four feathers have been tucked into a little blue teacup behind my easel for lo those, I’ll say four, years now.

Above that easel is this display of painting and sketch and original model…

studio

vineyard-vanitas

And yes, the muses are right there over my shoulder of late…

peering

Cardinal Wolsey. The ever present window slammer of a bird, is still with me. I now believe she is more than just a disturbed bird. Pat and Finn met a woman at the park last week who, after hearing the story of the intrepid one, immediately suggested that she was someone who I had known who had “passed on” and did I know anyone in the clergy. Well I sat back in my chair at that one. Seriously, my father, the Presbyterian minister, returned as the slammer ?

woolsey

Possibly ?
I’m still pondering that one.
But this bird is definitely trying to tell me something. She now follows me from window to window and watches me all day long. Hurling Herself at the panes seems to diminish when I settle in at the easel. Then she just flies up and stares at me…the rubbernecker.

Well, ok, that part could be Ted. He is definitely nudging me to focus on painting…probably as I write this…which is taking time away from what I began this blog with…

that perfect painting day.

Well, the dreary rain has turned to our first snowfall of the season. The promise of a winter wonderland, a bird in the oven, one at the window, and two dozen at the feeders…that’s all I need of Thanksgiving.

And, this…to all my friends and patrons, whose support allows me to do the work that is so meaningful to my soul…

Thank you.

 

 

 


The Return

Ah dear readers, I am back.
The month of honeymooning was grand. The outpouring of kindness, generosity and celebratory enthusiasm stunned us both. It will take a month of sundays to write all the thank you notes and we are humbled and still smiling with the fun of it all.

Along with all the festivities, came a much welcomed block of time in which to creatively…rest.

There have been lots of times in my life, when I have been forced to take time off from the easel. There were years of interruptions and detours until I stepped off the “I’m going to be and artist” track and began to lift the brushes full time. Since the end of 2001 I have been going full tilt with the aim of making a living out of those brushes and as every self employed person understands, your success is measured in direct proportion to your willingness to show up.

There is, of course, a hell of a lot more than a good attendance record to making a living as an artist, and the balance of persistence, talent and sheer luck is best left to the muses to manage. The support of fantastic gallery owners, the investment of patrons, and a healthy dose of shameless self promotion help to keep the paints and canvas in stock, but what about the creative factor.

I get asked a lot at shows, “How do you come up with ideas to paint ?”
My usual answer is that I have more ideas than I have days left in which to work, and yep that is definitely true. I have never experienced the artist’s equivalent of a “writer’s block”…(insert painting just for the fun of it here )

Writers-Blocks

But, after a decade plus of intense focus with short controlled bursts of weeding and one or two actual days “off”, I found myself, at the end of this summer, in an entirely new place…sheer creative exhaustion. It sounds bloody narcissistic, and it definitely feels that way. Polly would have sharply admonished me to, “shake yourself together !”. Boy howdie did I try that…right up until the wheels of the plane lifted and we were airborne and headed to Albuquerque.

The ensuing month off, far away from the studio, provided a slow unpeeling of layers. Bathing in the  breathtaking kindness of true friends, bathing in an actual hot tub, bathing in beauty…hard core color and light…surrounded by new vistas and familiar landmarks, my eyes eventually eased.

It took more time than I imagined, to crawl up and out of that groove, but long about the three week mark the light bulb grew brighter. I remember the morning, when the amber light of the vineyard sunrise angled its way through the pall. I could actually breathe more easily. That crisp October air cleaned out the last of the cobwebs. Finn saddled up in the back of the car. Herself put the camera in her lap. I sharpened the pencil and readied the sketchbook, and off we went…

When I have been away from the studio, on one or another of those “detours”, there has always come a moment, a jolting grip at the core, a stunning urgency in which I simply can’t wait to get back.

Today, after I get home from taking Finn to see her doc about some clean teeth, there is nothing, for miles and miles, between me and the easel. The first panel is up, sketch is on, I laid the fresh paint on the panel minutes ago, audiobook fired up, thermos of hot tea next to the cup…and I am ready.

I’ll keep you posted as the winter progresses but know that, for now, I’m back.

 

 


Honeymoon continues…

we among the aspens72

Here we are among the aspens in the high desert mountains above Santa Fe…what an amazing week of adventures.

No time now to sort through those couple thousand shots, as we regroup and repack for MV. We leave tomorrow to settle in to the relaxing pace of island time for a few weeks to catch our newlywed breath and to let the creative muses be re-nourished.

I hope to return to the studio, and this blog, in November with fresh ideas and images so I bid you all an autumn full of changing leaves, cool days and warm apple pies…and colorful yarn passing over rapidly clicking knitting needles.

Stay frosty out there my friends…


…on a jet plane

we are leaving…
for the Land of Enchantment…
for a reunion with dear friends,
a show opening
AND honeymoon,
all wrapped up in one.

The laundry is done…

the sheets

and folded…

The Last of the Summer Light

and the packing has begun. My artist’s eye is excited to experience new colors on the horizon, and my hard working fingers are looking forward to letting the brushes cool down for a bit.

A personal word of thanks to all who have sent such kind words to acknowledge our wedding announcement. It is just that sort of support which has brought us all forward and I have a deeper appreciation of the meaning of friendship because of you.

Ta for now,  H


Father and Daugher Portraits

Working quite late in the studio tonight, but I’m at this computer rather than at the easel. There’s a lot of “business” stuff to this full time artist deal and it allows me to stretch some other creative muscles. Tonight, it’s writing.

No, not this blog, Painter’s Notes. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will have found your way to this logo,

notesLink

It appears at the bottom left of each of the large format image pages, which are found when you click on a thumbnail in the Portfolio section of my website. The logo takes you to the little journal writing that I do for each painting. Long story, written up somewhere in the archives here, but for now, let’s just say that once I got started…I wasn’t allowed to stop.

I am not a writer, and the “I have to do the Painter’s Notes” task does tend to be put off until it can wait no longer. Tonight is that night. At least for the five new paintings that are going out to Santa Fe. Well, they have already arrived, ahead of our flight next week out to the land of enchantment.

As I begin, it puts a smile on my face to see the images of The Bogcutter and The Smock side by side…

The Bogcutter 72

The Smock

Our son Jon, and his daughter Zoe.

Jon originally posed for this painting almost 5 years ago. Zoe is 4. She was just a twinkle in Papa’s eye when he hefted the bogcutter on his shoulders and let me sketch away. I’m so grateful now, for the reference photos I took way back then. Everybody changes over a five year time span, but I, unknowingly, caught him just before his life was to shift forever.

That painting sat on the back burner while I gathered up the courage to attempt an honest portrayal of someone I loved. Man it took guts, for me at least. The nudge of that AAC article was the extra shove I needed. That, and watching the passage of time move into warp speed.

The portrait of Zoe was a much more serendipitous affair. She simply wanted to paint next to her Mima. And when I got up to fetch her some clean water…it was all about the raking afternoon light. I wondered if a then 3 year old, would understand the concept of modeling. She loved trying out the new word and was so serious about her craft that the camera, clicking away behind her to capture the fleeting light in her hair, was no distraction. She was a natural at taking direction and held that dear little hand still so I could record the shadow on the dimple.

OK, now it’s later and I may not make it much longer tonight.
But, it’s a start. I’ll let you know when to click on that logo.


Tools of the Trade

By way of a bit of a nod and a thank you to both Follansbee and Chris Schwarz (Lost Art Press)   who have recently posted this portrait of Peter on their blogs…

The Master Carver's Tea 72

thereby flooding my humble website with new viewers…I throwdown this sneak peak at a brand new painting…

Tools of the Trade -  24 x 20

Tools of the Trade

There are lots of clues in this painting to the other works which will be on exhibit in just a few days at the Sugarman Peterson Gallery in Santa Fe. In the meantime, I’ve got some shipping and handling to do…and a fair amount of shavings to sweep up.

 

 

 

 


More on hubcaps, and more…

Hubcaps-preview-9-6-14---010-sbe_480

Looks like that Hubcap show, Second Time Around, at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is a huge success. They have had well over 2400 people through just on the first weekend.

The Exhibit will be up through March 1, 2015 and it would be a beautiful day trip around this time of year. They have produced a new video which I found interesting so I’ve made a link here…Click for Video

Meanwhile, my days are filled with wrapping and shipping two groups of paintings headed out west. The Sugarman Peterson Gallery show opens in less than two weeks…oh my…and Gallery 1261 is having a new show which opens later in October, more on that soon.

Then, I have a large batch of panels in mid-prep in the garage workshop. The electricians have lit up the place, and it has been wonderful to throw the big carriage doors open to the beautiful fall weather, turn up the tunes, and work the day away.

So, though I will not be picking up the brushes for at least the next month, I will be working just as hard at the “behind the scenes” business of making art.

Stay tuned and fire up those rakes.