Final Stretch

7th Inning Stretch

This is almost what my studio kitchen looks like today…

Add a kitchen table, stacks of art books and magazines,
two baskets of laundry, another row of teacup shelves,
a different iron, and a large bernese mt dog at my feet…

and you would be welcome to come join us
as we head into the final stages of preparing
to leave for the Granary Gallery show !

I left the ironing ’til last.
Despite my predilection for sweats and smocks,I do try to make an effort to look respectable
when I leave the studio and venture out into the real world.

And, while this heat dome is determined to hover over the east coast,
I am determined to let linen
keep what little air movement there may be…flowing.I’m halfway through the ironing.
For the last two hours, Finnegan has been laying in front of the air vent.

I needed a break, so I’m writing to say hey,
stay frosty out there my friends,
and island breezes…here we come !


Granary Gallery Show 2015

We have returned safely to the studio, and the GG2015 show moves into the exhibition stage. Every two weeks, during the summer, a new show opens and the granary elves play musical paintings and shift the artwork to make way for the new works. I took some photos, after the crowds dispersed, so you can see what a masterful job the gallery staff does in hanging the show.

solo

gallery gallery2

mass act smalls pedestrians mirror lite wash katama crow wolsey wharf trident
It has been a terrific start to the summer show season, with a satisfying double handful of red dots filling the walls. We return home to a triple digit heat wave and one very happy puppy to greet us. I had promised myself a week of uninterrupted gardening days, but with this weather I’ve turned up the A/C and brought out the quilting bag. The creative soul needs some rest but the hands…never.

Stay frosty out there and thank you all for your support.


The beginning of the theme…

Feathered Dreams

Feathered Dreams  –

Brrr…it was early in the winter of 2015.

A humongous box arrived at my studio door.
It held some things from my father’s house.
Way down at the bottom was a little zip lock bag.
Inside were six carved wooden figures.
Hmmm.
I’d never seen them before.
After my father’s death a few years ago, I uncovered many items and stories,
some of which were familiar history, and some of which were mysteries.
I found photos and writings about his grandparents
and knew that at least one of his grandfathers tinkered with wood.
So, I thought that maybe these were saved from his childhood.

Then the muses struck.
I called Pat, can you come over…now.
She threw on her coat and boots and slodged over to the studio from the log cabin.
I love writing log cabin.
Anyway, I bade her to lie down on the daybed…and take a nap.

I found the paper bag, filled with chicken feathers,
which Homer had collected for me last summer,
and I dumped them on her head.

Then I laboriously positioned the little chickens
and the little goose around her sleeping head.
Tucked in her red snuggy blanket,
Herself was content to model as long as I liked.
Until the feathers started…to tickle.
I managed to capture this image
just before…the sneeze.

When I was finished,
and the model was back in the log cabin,
and the feathers were corralled back into their paper nest,
I arranged the dear ones along the window sill next to my easel.

Finnegan came over to give me an eagle hug
and her tail swept the smallest bird onto the floor.
When I picked it up I noticed some writing on the underside…
Made in Indonesia.

With a sigh,
I put her back on a higher shelf…
and began to reinvent her past.


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.

 

 


Tis the Season…

heuters

Yes, I am painting.
Most of the hours of most of the days.
But the apprentice has lately been insisting on beauty breaks…

the finn

And, after the winter of discontent that we all shivered through, I am taking deep breaths of every single blooming flower in my garden..

beach rose

My beloved Beach Rose and irises and even the daisy that always reminds me of J O’H

white iris daisy

and, with a cart full of color, and a pair of sturdy gloves
I am taking full advantage of every single space between the brushes
to get outside and work in the dirt.
in waiting

Herself chuckles and grins as she reminds me of the day,
sometime in mid-January,
when I hung my winter weary head
and swore I was not going to do ANY gardening this year.

Certainly no new plants, and definitely not the heavy lifting of the vegetable beds.
No, I was going to keep that head down low and focus focus focus on the paintings.
And right up until about March I was right on track with that dark pledge and doing fine.

Then some plague germs bullied their way into the studio and I spent the next few months crawling out of a very deep hole of un-health. (Spell check didn’t like that last hyphen and neither did I.) Which has thrown some curve balls of perspective at me.

BUT… the veil has lifted.
(Insert a choir of angels here please)
and all verdant bets are off…
Life is so damned short and…
you simply can’t keep a gardener’s soul from a wheelbarrow filled with marigolds…

marigolds
And then there are those newly revised beds that I dreamed of through the wintery gauze of tissues…

new beds

and the annex to the asparagus bed that wants to try growing some beans this year…

asparagus bed

Everywhere I look there are things growing…

nest
wild chives

And chairs that call to sit a spell…

chairs

or swing…

sky chair finn

And so yes, I am painting, but I am also living large in the tiny corner of the planet that we are taming. And, when the brushes begin to whine, I settle back into my chair at the easel with a tiny token of the garden wonders to temp the muses…

sir bernard and the rose

May your paths be filled with clover
and strewn with beach rose petals…
now go out there and grab a trowel.

 

 


Creative hibernation

…Don’t get me wrong, I love a blizzard. EVERYTHING ABOUT A BLIZZARD, from the early rumblings of “something to keep an eye on” on the weather sites, to the empty aisles in the grocery stores…who needs milk and bread, we hit the chocolate and cheese sections, to making sure there is a shovel of some kind just outside each door, firewood on the back porch, emergency candles, rubber ducks floating in the water-filled bathtub…

duck

then the countdown as NOAA tweaks and teases the snow totals out of the more reliable European model…like that.

Anticipation builds and nothing beats those few extra flakes that trump the forecasted foot or two. Yes, I love a blizzard.

But the last time we got one of those was when Finnegan was a little pup. And the winters in between have been dismally short on temps cold enough to produce the white stuff.

But……this winter is shaping up and laying down…in short controlled bursts… and I have been simply reeking of positivity lately, so I am happily learning to also LOVE these back to back to back little snowfalls.

snowshine

Turns out 2-6 inches of snow offer almost all of the same gifts of beauty and soul warming wooly slippered comfort…without the sore shoveling muscles from moving those big mountains and drifts… and the cabin fever that hovers over Herself when she can’t get out of the lane.

shoveler

The hearty Bernese Mt. Dog Finnegan has had weekly doses of heaven and has begun to take for granted that her first few steps each morning will be giant leaps into deliciously soft cold snow. I have rarely seen her this happy.finn

Herself has made several batches of her favorite snowstorm apple bake and now has the recipe…down Pat.

Sue and Zola helped to re-stock the firewood and the log cabin has been a toasty refuge for this tired artiste at the end of long luxurious days at the easel.

And, indeed, those long, glorious days at the easel have been pure bliss.

cs

I was going to wax on about how the muses tend to find artists when the winter dampens the bridge to the outside world. How, in this world of bells and whistles which emanate from our pockets and conspire to shatter those hard fought for slivers of emptiness, we struggle to find mental rest stops.

And how magical it is,
that when just a couple inches of snow falls,
in the studio yard,
being forced to sit in stillness,
reshuffles the creative deck.

There ya go,
now I’m headed back to work.
Stay frosty out there…


Thinking of Light…and you…

the mender72

These longest nights of the year are magical
and on this eve of Christmas day
as I finish up a little bit of ribbon tying
and warm up this second cup of tea…

I’m thinking of you.
Wishing you laughter
and peace
and above all…
light.