FINISHED !!!!!!!

Noon today… the big painting was signed and declared completed.

Three brutal months, 46 birds, 46 boats, thousands of shingles and one lone fisherman later…

Despite the congestion in the lungs and head, I am breathing a whole lot easier this afternoon. This is one huge weight (literally) lifted off my shoulders… and I’m on to the next ptg…my brushes have hit the ground running as the race to complete as many more paintings as I can in the next two months before the show.

Stay tuned for updates… in the meantime here are some detail shots…


Pilgrimage

I’ve spent most lunch hours over the last six months reading through the letters of N.C. Wyeth. The book itself is over three inches thick and, with my increasingly distracted and dissembling attention span, I thought it might be a resource volume to be dipped into at random and occasionally. But I have been enthralled and am enjoying reading each entry in order, living his life along with him and the family, and taking myself back to the early days of Chadds Ford, a place I know well.

We are members of the Brandywine River Museum and when I read that they were showing some of the early paintings that he did for the Philadelphia Sketch Society I was determined to go. The show closes tomorrow and inspite of our both being sick…again…we packed up our lozenges and water bottles and tissue boxes and trundled off to the Brandywine Valley yesterday.

I am only up to the winter of 1910 in the Wyeth letters and N.C. has just gone to NYC to meet  Canon Doyle ( love the synthesis there…re the last blog entry ) for whom he illustrated several stories. So too was the synthesis of being able to view paintings that he had worked on during this period while reading about the comings and goings of the young Wyeth family and the back country lives in the sleepy village of Chadds Ford.

Most of the compositions were landscapes which N.C. writes about wanting to focus on rather than the increasingly obligatory illustrations. During these early years he’s been bemoaning the desire to paint “true” artistic works for himself but also for his mother who seems to keep harping on him to paint “nicer” subjects which I read as quaint and peaceful rather than swashbuckling and verile.

And so he did with the pastoral impressionistic scenes of the orchards outside his studio and the almost pointalistic plein air studies. Very far removed from his bold narrative work with it’s heavy but confident brushwork. The contrast fades to misty sun dappled haze and the edges blur away from realism into a dreamy wash. Which does echo the struggles he describes in the letters of this period wherein the pages drip of angst as he searches to define the emotionally charged connection he has with the natural world around him.

But then I digress and descend into the world of the critics and I don’t have the bonafides to pretend to that ilk.

The exhibition was an interesting diversion and I’m looking forward to diving back into his narrative over my salad today.

There were two other treats on our visit…lunch at the Simon Pearce Factory where we enjoyed the plumage of the Red Hat Society Octogenerians…

and the Shanks Antiques Barn in Oxford, PA. Our friend Tom Gilbert told us about this place and it was amazing. We were short on time so we concentrated on the basement which stored the largest collection of old hardware I have ever seen. Wicked cool…

You need it Bill’s got it…including the proverbial kitchen sink !

I highly recommend a visit …I know we’ll be back.

For now it’s the last push to get this Menemsha painting done and then on to some smaller pieces… tick tick tick.


A closer look…

Maybe it’s because I’m listening to the new Mary Russell novel, The God of the Hive , which is rocketing up the Best Seller list – Congrats to LRK ! …. Another brilliantly written adventure with Sherlock Holmes and his irregulars…

and maybe it’s because this aging artist is constantly fighting her bifocals to see well enough to brush in the finest of details…

and maybe it’s because this massive undertaking of a painting, now three long hard months in the making, is straining and stretching the limits of said sickly artist…

but the other day I got to thinking about magnifying glasses…

and yesterday a new magnifying lamp arrived in a big brown truck.

It certainly does make it much easier to see the detail I am trying to render. Even though there is also an annoying shake that happens when I bump it with the other end of the brush…or the brim of my baseball hat…or Finnegan’s tail. But I’m learning its personal space limitations and loving the sharper focus. Especially on this painting with lobster traps that are half an inch long and seagulls that are the size of dimes. Wish I’d thought of this earlier…but there ya go… and here’s the view through my looking glass…


Now that the storm has passed…

I know, two posts in one day…and after I whined about being so far behind…

but a few minutes ago Pat called and made me come over to the log cabin because tornadoes had been reported from a storm moving in our direction…fast.

Sure enough we got two whopping doses of wicked weather… the skies have cleared and the temperature dropped 20 degrees… and the studio yard is now a carpet of ice.

It made me think of last year’s painting…

Now that the storm has passed…

I’m going back to the easel now… I promise.


Keeping me sane…

This time of year is always stressful. The big show of the year, summer show at the Granary Gallery, is now only weeks away and I’m typically working extra long days to finish paintings, haul them up to the photographer, and back and forth to the frame shop to select framing.

The usual stress releasers, aka therapy outlets such as tending to the gardens and sitting at the spinning wheel or taking long hikes with the dog, are my favorite detours this time of year.

But this year is different. The challenges of this last winter  have set me back almost two months in the painting schedule and the spring has brought a whole new set of complications. The demands on my time away from the easel have upped the ante in the stress department and I’ve gone into emergency painting mode.

Finnegan has been taking some of the slack by pulling out the tallest of the weeds, the spinning wheel sits idle and the new fleece is safely stored in a pillowcase and the weather has turned much cooler and rainy in the last week which isn’t good spinning weather so that helps, and Pat has stepped in to take Finn for some play time each day and the yearling pup is running like a champ on her newly recovered elbows… so all is being looked after and it is more than ever a team effort here in the studio.

I know of many other artists who are scrambling these days to get ready for shows… and I was just wondering how you guys stay sane ?

Pat will tell you I’m not doing a very good job of that right now… and her oft told joke that she has me chained to the easel…well I’ve better get back to rattling them chains before she notices I’m at the computer…

The  clock doth tick .


Garage Project

Our son Jon gave us a wonderful Mother’s Day present this year… two weeks of his hardworking, strong and good humored self… and a new life for our old studio garage…

With help from our generous neighbors Walt and Sue, Jon managed to shore up the leaning building, rebuild the falling down shed out back, build beautiful new cedar carriage doors and put a shiny new red metal roof on top.

We took a day off in the middle of the hard work to attend the Sheep and Wool festival and had a glorious day amid the fleece and fiber and we got at least one Reeser’s Ice Cream visit in and one wild night of studio scrabble.

In a few weeks, after the summer Granary show, I will take more time to finish the small details and organize the work space and then be able to use this as a real workshop for panel prep and woodworking and framing. Here’s a few pics of the progress…