This just in from the rain forest…

a text..

from the jungle…

from Granary Gallery qwner Chris Morse…

“I thought your hat should cross a suspended bridge in the rain forest
today…in the shadow of the volcano Arenal in Costa Rica…cheers.”

That’s sorta fun…and thoughtful indeed.


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.


Today’s goal…

to spend at least 30% of the day in an upright position.

Which would triple the output of the last eleven days, wherein I crawled from daybed to nightbed, dragging boxes of tissues, bottles of medicine, and an increasingly bored bernese mt. dog.

Mood-Swing

I have managed the first 18% of that goal by throwing the contents of the kitchen and garden into a large pot, now simmering away with chicken soup. With a few breaks in between to sip some hot tea and cough up a lung, I am upright, sitting in the office chair,  but basically upright, and catching up on the business that piled up while we were away in IRELAND !!!

The fairies were with us all the way, and they turned out to be the only two weeks since late July that I have been free of the plague. Brilliant !

I think the muses have grounded me upon my return so that I could linger in a foggy state and simply drift back to our time there and cement the whirlwind of images and experiences. It exceeded every single expectation, from the traveling companions, to the glorious weather that followed us, to the historical touchstones and meaningful connections, and on and on and on to the landscape and the people.

Here’s one of our favorites, An of Inis Oirr.

inis-oirr-an
We spent a day on that smallest of the Aran Islands, with a bumpy wagon tour,a pint in the pub, a talk with Masie and Thomas, and Herself threw off her shoes and walked in the ocean.
An, or Anya (I’m sure that spelling is not right)  was the owner, waitress, chef at the little cafe at the top of the hill, just below the castle ruins. She fed us marvelous chowder and hot chocolate and smiled and laughed the afternoon away. Apparently Pat has wrangled a room in her B & B in exchange for light housework.

One of the bucket list items I got to cross off was buying a Bodhran, the Irish drum used in acoustic sessions, and it has just arrived here in grand shape from the little shop in Dingle. I did a bit of googling, and discovered that there is an annual Bodhran festival right there on the tiny island of Inis Oirr.

Check it out…http://www.craiceann.com/

Already signed up to the mailing list. Bit of practice to do before I’m worthy of that group but we may take An up on her offer.

Be assured that this trip was a creative game changer and I’ll be sharing thoughts and images as they begin to move from the suitcase to the easel, but I am approaching that 30% threshold and I’ve got some paperwork to finish before this thing sits me back down.

Yours in tissues and dreams, H


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


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 !


Movie Tickets

big poster72

Well…in a little over a week
it will be MOVIE TIME !!!

This is a reminder that,
if you are on the island of Martha’s Vineyard next week,
and you want to join us for the premiere of the movie,
Visions of Home, Directed, by David and Barbarella Fokos,
produced for Chris Fessenden, founder of
the new arts website venture,
TAO The Artist Odyssey
all you need is a ticket.

The tickets are FREE.

But you do need to reserve them.
You can do that in two ways,

By calling the Granary Gallery at  (508)693-0455

Or by reserving ONLINE with the MV Film Society
When you click on this link you can view the movie trailer,
and click on the BUY TICKET button to reserve your tickets.

Don’t worry, it says BUY but the tickets are free.
You will not be charged in any way for them.

Visions of Home
Premiere Friday July 29, 2016 at 6pm
Capawock Theater, Vineyard Haven
Martha’s Vineyard

For general information about the film center and film society programming, please email info@mvfilmsociety.com or call 508-696-9369.


Granary Gallery 2016

There you are…

Fifteen paintings to mark the fifteenth year of showing at the Granary Gallery.

Our wildly good fortune has evolved into enduring friendships and unwavering support.

Herself and I are grateful every single day that Chris Morse agreed to hang my paintings on the wall of his Red Barn. For the last fifteen years, he, his wife Sheila, their entire family, the extraordinary staff of the gallery, and the generous patrons and supporters on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, have made it possible for me to wake up every day and go to my studio and …paint.

I am one lucky artist, and I do not take one single minute of the last fifteen years at my easel for granted. With just a bit more of that luck, and all the energy I can muster, we will have many more years of collaboration, and friendship, together.

Thank you all.


Flying Horses

Flying Horses

Everyone has a story.

If you mention the carousel,
to anyone on the island,
you will first get a smile,
and then a story.

I remember when I took my first ride…

The Flying Horses Carousel is the oldest operating platform carousel in America.
For 140 years children have ridden,
round and round
on these gorgeous steeds,
in the little red barn,
in the town of Oak Bluffs,
on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

With music from a 1923 Wurlitzer Band Organ,
the smell of popcorn from the refreshment stand,
the brightly colored hand-painted signs, (thank Skip for those),
the original painted placards that revolve with scenes of far away places,
and the laughter of children enjoying the ride,
there is a circus-like atmosphere
when you walk inside,
out of the blazing summer beach scene,
and into the cool throwback in time,
and the world turns at a slower,
happier pace.

On the cool crisp October day,
when we met Wendy and John outside the red building,
the horses were gearing up
for the last race of the season.

Walking in, before the doors were open to the patrons,
it was eerily dark as we waited for John to throw on the lights.
I wandered around to the back of the barn,
following a shaft of bright morning light,
that was streaming in from the topmost windows.

The strong raking light
caught the tip of an ear,
and the edge of a saddle,
the ginger flank of one horse,
and the flowing blond mane of another.

It cast the long thin shadow
of a stirrup,
on the circular green floor,
and then popped up
to reveal the brilliant red arm,
and slid silkily down to the very end,
which was, ever so gently,
holding one shiny brass ring.

Just as the sunlight
winked on the edge of that brass ring,
while their caretaker John was still fumbling for the switch,
I felt a breeze,
and heard a distant whinny…
and off they went.

It was a breathtaking sight…
riderless and free,
they took to the wind,
and, for one more time…
those beautiful horses…flew.

You can read more about the Carousel here
from the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust website.

And I can thank Wendy and John for the inspiration, and the ride.


Our Ladies of Menemsha

Our Ladies of Menemsha

If I did my job right,
a lot of you are going to recognize
at least two of these
ladies of Menemsha.

The one in the middle is my favorite, Jane Slater.
This is the fortieth year for the shop that she and her husband Herb
have owned in the little fishing village on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

Her dear sweet swordfisherman of a partner Herb
was called to the fleet in heaven
a couple years ago,
and their even sweeter companion of a pup Lucy
soon thereafter to be by his side…
but Jane…
she’s a Yankee through and through,
and the island needs her
around for a good long while yet,
thank you very much.

But…40 years of being a shop-owner,
behind that desk, that chapter is about to close.
The sign comes down when the leaves start to drop this fall.

40 years of telling everyone who walks in that she’d be happy to answer any questions,
while Herb puttered back behind the curtain,
and Lucy’s tail could be heard thumping at his side,
and the good folk of the island wandered in and out,
only the truest among them
being offered that one extra chair
for a set-a-spell chat.

Some of my fondest memories of spending time with Ted
were the visits we made there.
Ted got the seat.
The three of them, Jane, Herb and Ted
had a lifetime of island stories to tell,
and my heart aches with the desire,
for one more afternoon of just listening to them pull on a good yarn.

I painted this mostly for me.
So that I could invite her into my studio,
so far away from that island…
to spend some time
sitting in the chair by my easel,
and listen to more of her stories
as I tried to capture
the elusive sparkle
in those beautiful eyes
just there
in that smile
at the edge
of her heart.


Squirreled Away

Squirreled Away

Last year it was the Cardinal,
His Holiness Wolsey
the basher of windows.

This winter,
it was Sir Squirrel,
the chomper of walnuts.

He who kept me company,
through the snowy storms,
perched on the air-conditioning unit,
just outside my easel window,
flaunting his propitious,
hoarding prowess,
and watching.

We watched each other actually.
Watched out for each other may be more accurate.

When we got that Nor’easter,
which dumped 4 feet of fresh snow,
on the already whitened studio yard,
it took me three days to dig out a path
for Finnegan to get to her privy.

I noticed that Sir Sq. had been a no show
and made a wee annex to Finn’s run
from the arbor vitae to his window perch.

The mere work of a teaspoon,
but it sufficed for him to re-surface
and check back in
to make sure I was ok,
and able to lift those tiny brushes
after all that shoveling.

Sitting there,
sporting new pairs
of both snow shoes
and sunglasses,
and chewing
on a particularly prodigious nut,
he must have noticed
I was looking ever so slightly famished, because,
after devouring a full three quarters thereof,
he reached out to offer me a nibble…

See,
that’s what I’m talking about…

it takes a village.