Sisters and the Muse

This falls under Ted’s favorite category of “sorta fun”.

A while back, one of my master muses, John O’Hern, sent a query asking about the painting Sisters. He was writing an article about florals, and botanicals, and Albrecht Durer, and naturally…thought of moi. (She wrote with a grin)

The article came out in this month’s American Art Collector Magazine, which Pat brought in from the mailbox last night.

As I read through and found it today, I see that an image of Sisters did not make the editorial cut. I can see why as the others make a wonderful bouquet of floral still lifes, and my little garden painting is of the more humble vegetable variety.

But, here’s the fun part.
What John wrote about the painting Sisters is…in his most inimitably magical way…delightful.

And I quote,
“Heather Neill observes a helpful symbiotic relationship in her own garden between her tomato plants and a volunteer scarlet runner bean that self-seeded the year before. Sisters refers to the ancient practice of “sistering” or “growing companion plants to, in this case, literally, support one another”, she explains. “Native Americans would plant corn to support the beans, which would shade lower growing lettuces…all in the same patch.”

The subjects are shown after dusk plucked out of the dark by a porch light. Neill’s saturated color and hyperreal painting along with the dramatic light suggest a more sinister role for the vine when the light is extinguised.”

Only John would imagine such sinister designs, plucked after dusk by a porch light.

Brilliant, and ta.


Bon Voyage

We want to send huge love to Jane Slater, as today she celebrates her 40th year at the antique shop she and her husband Herb have operated in Menemsha. Someone else will be sitting behind this desk next season, but for me, I shall forever see her smile looking back.

Jane will step boldly into a new chapter and we wish her full speed ahead.

Our Ladies of Menemsha


A Sign

A Sign

Last October,
on a perfect New England Autumn day,
was the last time I saw the house,
perched on the edge of the planet,
in all her grace and glory,
before they demolished it.

We all knew it was coming.
The time when nature’s pounding would erode the bluff,
wearing away at the land,
until there was no where else for the houses to rest.

When I pulled the wobbly screen door open
and stepped into empty space it froze my soul.
The house had been emptied of all its touchstones.

All that remained,
perhaps all that would truly chronicle the human presence within,
was the patina of marks on the walls, the floorboards and the ceiling.

This painting looks from the main room,
back through the tiny sleeping nook,
through just a razor thin edge of the window,
onto the sun porch,
where beyond, lies the view of Squibnocket Beach.

New nicks, and old, adorn the lintel,
from generations of foreheads which bumped that coop-like low beam,
where a hundred layers of yellow paint,
outlined the symbol of a duck…reminding us to.

All these objects, and a hundred more …
they have been the keeper of our memories.

The sunny days, the stormy nights,
we grew up in that house,
on the bluff,
as she grew old,
and, in her weathered-shingled way,
became…
the things we are made of.

 


Oversouth Willow

Oversouth Willow

As is true of so many of my paintings,
the muses pulled on some pretty wild threads
to bring this not-so-still-life together.

I’ll say it started with Jane,
because of the teacups,
hidden among the many other artifacts
which she and her sword fishing husband, Herb purveyed
in their antique shop in Menemsha.

This is Jane’s 40th year,
in that treasure shack, Oversouth Willow,
and the last season of her tenure behind the desk.

And that is where we found her, last summer,
the film crew and I,
when we were parading our cameras, and mikes,
around the island, and we stopped to visit with Jane.

The team of David and Barbarella Fokos,
renowned artists/writers/film makers/Emmy winners,
were setting out to make a documentary film
to add to their growing collection for the new website,

TAO – The Artist Odyssey.

The results of which are almost complete,
and Herself and I are picking out our gowns for the premeire !

(Check my blog for details)

While the crew set up and Pat and Jane chatted,
I searched around and found these three porcelain gems.
Jane told us the story of the “Blue Willow” pattern,
which I believe was captured on film,
but what I remember most clearly
was the sparkle in her eyes…and she in her element.

Fast forward a month or two and we are getting ready,
here in my Pennsylvania studio,
for the Fokos Team to arrive for another session of filming.
I needed to have a painting in progress so I brought out those blue vessels.
And then the muses stepped up.
They rifled through the linen prop drawer for something blue,
and the feather that Saren had brought me the day before
drifted down from the teacup shelf,
they fingered around in my back pocket
for the tiny shard of blue tile that I had found
in the pebbled lane the last time I walked up to Camp Sunrise,
and they sent me climbing up to the “old studio”,
the shed on stilts by the creek,
which is now the overflow prop room…
and I opened the door…

the blue door.

Bam, I’m in.

I had climbed those rickety stairs,
and opened that door every day for I don’t know how many years,
and inside was…my bliss.
My first real studio,
after 40 years of dreaming.
I remember when that paint was new.
Around here they were not sure how to mix Nantucket Blue.
There are a couple of paintings which feature the other side of this old door,
but if you stepped back far enough to get some perspective on the outside of it…
you would be swimming in the creek thirty feet below.

Opened to the inside,
with my hand on that wonderful doorknob,
and the light raking over the blue chips of paint…
well, that was interesting.
It was quick work to find something to use as a support,
and the red cover of the old faithful, “Iron Woman” book
was the perfect accent…think Jane.

When the Fokos’ arrived,
the painting was well underway,
but David wanted to recreate and film the set up part of the process.
You should have seen us cramming into the tiny space by that door
with cameras and crew…remember what I said about that one step backwards.

No one was harmed in the filming of this movie,
and now this painting has a great story to tell.

And I’ve got to go dye my eyes to match my gown.


An Art Night Detour…

Sunset Skiff

Sunset Skiff  –  24 x 32

I was driving through Vineyard Haven,
on the way to our annual Art Night dinner,
and I could tell by the slowing of the oncoming traffic,
that there was some kind of light show happening in my rear view mirror.

So I ducked into the boat launch lot,
overlooking the Lagoon,
and turned back into the light.

It was October,
and, when the island slows way down,
and the air is crisp,
the wind has only a few stalwart vessels to buffet.

We often plan our gatherings
so we can share a sunset before getting down to the feast,
and the lively conversations about all things art.

On this night,
I knew they would understand,
if I was delayed in the hopes of capturing the details,
having been in exactly the right place to observe this tapestry of color,
reflected on two of my favorite muses.

Turns out we all had the same idea,
on our separate island roads,
with different mediums in mind,and came together,
as always,
fired up with that creative zeal,
which fuels our souls.

Stopping everything for a sunset…
what it means to be an artist.


Granary Gallery Show

Swan Song an abstract Chilmark aria

It’s that time of year again and oh how those brushes have been flying !

The Granary Gallery Show is almost here…

The Opening is July 31, 5-7pm

I will be rolling out the new paintings here on the blog beginning next week, but the one featured above is a sneak peak at one of my favorites…

I’m calling this, Swan Song – An Abstract Chilmark Aria

I’ve gotten the approval of the dear diva herself, Skip Peterson, to show this now to the world. She modeled for me last October. Among her many talents and gifts, Skip is a painter, and among her many requests and suggestions for how I should capture her portrait, she thought it would be sorta fun to have an actual painting of hers in it.

Locating it some place in Chilmark was a must… as it is for her, like so many others, a treasured place held dearly in her soul…and when I took her to my sacred place, Camp Sunrise, she fell in love instantly.

We knew, when I painted this that the house was slated for demolition. And I had been meaning to capture it from this angle because the meadow in the foreground is where they were planning, and now have built, the new home. When, back in my mid-winter studio, I needed something to carry the energy of Skip’s song, I chose those wonderful swans which were soaring on their way to nearby Squibnocket pond.

But it wasn’t until a few months later, when someone sent me a photo of the empty horizon…when it became sadly real to me that the house was finally gone…that the title came to me.

It usually takes me a while to look back and see the workings of the muses.

With this painting, on so many levels, they have been leading me here for a lifetime.


Meanwhile, in Santa Fe

Because the solstice is upon us, and it’s a full moon, and it’s sizzling summer hot here today…the studio is hopping !

Yet another show to announce, this time at the Sugarman Peterson Gallery out in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The exhibition, An American Trio, will feature works by Katherine Stone, Leo E. Osborne and me. It was written up in the July issue of American Art Collector Magazine ….

cover 2016 72

72 article

The two new works of mine are…

All Politics is Local – 18 x 24

All Politics Is Local

“The muses wanted to weigh in on this election cycle, the prop room decided to step things back a century, and by the time I got around to choosing the right teacup…the eagle was doing a flyby.”

Goodnight Moon – 16 x 20

Goodnight Moon

“Our youngest grand daughter, Zoë, is a firefly, sparkly, bouncy, Tigger sort of a girl. She has the gift of a magical curiousity, and the rare patience to make the most of everything new her 5-year old eyes come across. Our days together are a blast, but I think my favorite part is tucking her freshly brushed and pajama’d self under the covers, giving her an eagle hug, and listening from the room next door as her Gran reads one more book. Goodnight Moon is a favorite for us both. Zoë has her own copy; the book in this painting is the one that sent me to dreamland when I was her age. The mouse is eternal.”

And, after a frantic couple of days when this very website was off the rails…I want to send a shout out of thanks to my tech crew…Ross ! We in the creative department are so glad you’ve got our backs.


A Meinelt Christmas

Ted-polly-meinelt.jpg

I just read a wonderful article by Lindsey Lee, oral history curator on Martha’s Vineyard, who, along with the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, is putting together a show based on Ted and Polly Meinelt and their annual Christmas displays.

Readers here will know how deeply Ted and Polly touched our lives, and we got to see a few of their holiday trimmings in person over the years. This article brings to life their unique creativity and cherished love of art and people and the Vineyard.

Clicking on the picture below, one of Ted’s famous holiday cards, will take you to the article on MVTimes web page.

teds goose

A great big thank you to Lindsey for her dedication to telling Islander stories,
and for putting a smile back in my heart on this, as Ted would call it…

Dull winter day.