Reminded of another life…

Two messages on the same day.

The first was from my Goddaughter Emily and her Wife Ashley who sent some snaps from Canada of their handsome son Oliver. We love getting to see photos of Ollie who is just the happiest little boy with a clever impish smile…can’t get enough of them. But this one was extra special.

First I have to take you back…way back…over 30 years ago…
I was living with Peter Follansbee in the general store in Muddy Creek Forks, where we were studying our respective crafts. He was the more serious woodworker and I the wannabe painter but we overlapped in the chair and basket department.

Along comes a visit from Emily, a very young version of Herself, and as I had begun making children’s ladderbacks…this one had her name on it…

I just love the confidence and pride in here expression there. Such a love.

So now we fast forward to this …

And now I’m melting into a thousand puddles.

You go Ollie…I hope to show you how to make one of those chairs some day. But that bucket of crayons is also right up my alley and down my street…I can’t wait to see what you do with those !

So I’m all warm and nostalgic thinking of the journey that chair and the chairmaker has made and then I get some pics from Follansbee himself.

Here’s a sketch of my basement woodworking shop in our log cabin which I made for Peter back in ’97

Can you find the pipe ?
The one on the door not on the top of the cabinet.

Yeah so he and I have differing memories, his story will appear later, but I cherished that as being one given to me by Peter and his mother Mary from his dad Mo’s collection.  Peter says no, and I usually defer to his stellar skills in the memory department but I’ve held my ground long enough that he has capitulated…almost.

Long after I had made the move to fulfilling the dream of being a full time artist, our log cabin was caught in a massive flood. As we live 15 feet from the edge of a creek, it meant the entire basement was filled with water. Very little survived from that workshop but I took apart the tool chest and saved this door and carved a Mark Twain quote which was eminently applicable to Master Follansbee…

True to both our natures He took it one step further and then some…

He posted a blog that fleshes out the back story so I’ll copy it here and link it back to his website for those who want to read on.

But before I do it feels important to take stock of both of these milestones.

Reminders of that time in my life when my younger stronger body followed the whims of my woodnypmh muses are few and far between now. I made over 500 chairs. From Shaker style rockers, large and small, to dozens of children’s ladderbacks to full dining room sets of chairs complete with child sized highchairs.

It was always meant to be a way of making money so I could follow my true bliss and be an artist. Looking back, it certainly was a magical bridge. And now, I spend my days at the easel…making money so I can justify taking some time off to make spoons.

I’m content with all of it…
because I learned well
from the quote which was most often requested
to be carved in the slats of those chairs…

“The End is Nothing, the Road is All.” Willa Cather

Now here’s Peter’s side of things…(stolen directly from his blog…)

https://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/

pine door w Heather’s Twain-quote panel

A week or two ago I got to a project that has lingered here for ages. The small panel in this door was made by my friend Heather Neill, way back when. The Mark Twain quote she incorporated in this panel is from the Autobiography, “My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.” When Heather & I met in 1982, I had just given up the notion of being a painter, and was concentrating on learning woodworking. She took up chairmaking after I showed her some of the steps involved. She probably made more chairs than me before she gave up chairmaking to concentrate on painting! https://heatherneill.com/

Hanging in my shop is a drawing Heather made for me in 1997; showing her chairmaking space when it was active. In this detail, note the cupboard door with the pipe door handle. (my camera was tilted, Heather’s chair is not squished…)

So for a long time, I’ve been thinking of how to incorporate her Twain-quote-panel in a new door. I have two cupboards near the back of the shop – one for axes, and the other for turning tools. I made the axe one first, and it got doors.

When I made the next one across the shop, I had run out of “extra” pine boards. So left it door-less til now. But now that I was going to all the trouble of making the door – I couldn’t leave it plain. In for a penny…

I made it with flush-fitting panels – because the Twain quote had no margin to speak of. Then decorated it.

I haven’t carved pine since I carved the timber frame of the shop. I decided to use something simple & quick. This braid is featured in the book I did with Lost Art Press – this time there’s no V-tool involved, just incised marks with different-sized gouges. The layout is done w two compasses.

In this example, the large circle is 2 1/2? wide, the smaller one 3/4? – I used a 1? wide #5 Swiss-made gouge, and a 3/8? wide #7 Stubai gouge. Then a nearly-flat tool to remove some chips.

This is the dramatic view down the line.

This sort of design is common all over the place. My photos from Sweden a few years ago include a few different versions of it. Notice on this arch the way the effect changes according to the relationship between the large & small circles.

One more – again in an arch, but this time with its columns also.

But in the end, I decided to hollow the circles – the scribed design was as prominent as the carved one – and I didn’t like it. I took a large gouge and worked along each band of the circles. This gives the whole thing more shadow.

The whole interlaced panel (& 2 rails) design is loosely based on one I’ve never seen, except in a photo. This photo below was one of a batch sent to me 10 years ago by Maurice Pommier, author of Grandpa’s Workshop – who is another whole story https://blog.lostartpress.com/2019/10/18/meet-the-author-and-illustrator-maurice-pommier/

carved joined work, Brittany

My version is simpler, too much blank space between the elements. But it will do, although I can’t wait to try it again.

Oh, I forgot about the pipe – why is that there? Heather swears it was one of my father’s, that my mother & I gave to her, no doubt as painting & drawing props. I swear I don’t recognize it. But my father had lots of pipes…so I might as well believe it.

 


Opening Day – Granary Gallery Show

Here we are…it’s the morning of the Granary Gallery Show Opening

I want to personally thank all of you who have taken the time to read the string of Blog Posts which have lead up to today’s opening. You being with us for this ride and offering kind words of support and encouragement along the way has softened the edges of the rough parts and lightened the air here in the studio.

So…from our studio

To the red barn on Old County Road
on the island of Martha’s Vineyard

And into the homes of all you friends and patrons…

Wish We Were There… a short film from HN Studios


The Granary Gallery…Blog

Good Morning Art Fans…

Did you know the Granary Gallery has a Blog ?

It’s called… ArtifactsMV

Click HERE to read the latest post on…me.

The show opens tomorrow…and don’t forget to check in here
at 11am tomorrow morning when I will be featuring a video interview
that Herself and I made so that we could “virtually” be there for it.

Stay safe out there and thanks for tuning in !

 

 


Signaling Home – Painter’s Notes

And we arrive…
at the beginning…

I began this painting in January of 2020

It was meant to be a talisman…
something I could literally touch to bring me closer to my dream of living on Martha’s Vineyard

And to be a portal…
a window that could transport me to that bluff on that island

And then everything in the world changed…

Except that dream.

Signaling Home  – 24 x 36

Standing high on the bluff
rising over Stonewall Beach
on the island of Martha’s Vineyard

where centuries of wind and waves
have been chiseling the shoreline back
further with each blow
after stormy blow

Where generations of Langmuir hands
have moved that dotted line of great white rocks
signaling safety in the moonlight
pulling them back and then
further back again

On that grassy sandy ledge
that has listened to my heart
taken the measure of my Muses
rounded off my edges
and holds all I know of love

Here on this edge
of all that I hold sacred
I plant my soul
holding tightly to my flags
and signaling HOME.

I am home.

 


The Morning Bell – Painter’s Notes

Morning again here in the studio.

Before today’s Painter’s Notes I want to give you a heads up…

There are just four more days until the Granary Gallery Show opens…
Though, as you well know by now, there will not be an “Opening Reception”…
the gallery is very much OPEN and the staff are doing an amazing job and going out of their way to make a safe and welcoming environment for people to get in touch with art.

Herself and I have created a video aptly titled…”Wish We Were There” …by way of letting our island community know we are there with them…at least in spirit. The gallery sent me a list of questions and Pat agreed to read them to me on camera and you can expect some frivolity ensued.

I’ll be posting that video here on the blog on Sunday Morning… we hope you’ll pour a cup of tea and join us for that short studio visit.

So…4 days and counting…

That leaves three paintings to go…and today…

we go back to Menemsha.
I’ve spent so many hours on this dock that this painting almost painted itself.

The Morning Bell  –   24 x 30

One of my enduring memories of that most special
week we got to spend “living” in Menemsha
up there on Crick Hill
was wakening to the early morning
sounds of the harbor.

When the wind is right
you can hear the bouy bells
playing a rhythmic bass line
and the gulls picking out the melody

Before the charter engines
crank up you can still make out
the water lapping against the bigger boats
some ropes and chains a’ rattlin’
against the mighty masts
and…

If you’re really early enough…
the putt putt putter of Louie’s
trawler making her way out
for the first cast of the day.

So…
even though this particular painting
is righteously full
of the colors
that bring the harbor to life
for most artists

What I hear…
is just as evocative
as what you see.


Jack the Lad – Painter’s Notes

This one is special…

I’ve already introduced you to Jack the Lad
and his pal…

Now you get to see the behind the scenes story of our collaboration…

Jack the Lad

This painting came into being by way of a commission.
And a most challenging one at that. The gentleman you see seated in the center is a loyal patron of the gallery who wanted to immortalize his pup Jack …who is an even more loyal visitor, indeed many would say, ambassador to the gallery.

I met Jack there, in the gallery for our first meeting, on a bright October morning. He was sitting with rapt attention focused on his pal, or more specifically his pal’s pocket wherein there was a stash of green beans. I knew instantly that anyone who would carry a pocketful of beans as treats for his dog would be a subject worthy of exploring and that any pup who would gaze that lovingly into the eyes of a human for…a bean…be still my vegetable gardeners’ heart.

So, the challenging bit that I mentioned at the start was not the subjects themselves, but rather the fact that there was a very short overlap in our schedules. We had a brief time together in the gallery so the pressure was on…but I needn’t have worried. I fell instantly in love with both of them.
It was easy to do as neither of them ever stopped smiling.

Jack, the lad, wandered freely among the paintings and antiques but his spirit was primarily drawn to people. He quickly took the measure of each human who entered the gallery and adjusted his greeting accordingly. The wagging bushy tail, energetic and playful with a group of young children…then softly gently laying down before a woman and her cane…and always, always with one of those soulful brown eyes checking back in with the bean man Himself.

The Granary Gallery is a special place. That big old Red Barn is more like a general store than an art gallery, at least for the regular patrons, and the year round Islanders. Like the bar at Cheers, where everybody knows your name, new friendships are made and old ones deepen each time the bell rings above the opening door.. and the owners and staff make the kind of genuinely gracious human connections which these days is an art all of its own.

Looking back now, despite the brevity of our meeting…or maybe because of it…what lingered throughout the months afterwards, as I worked to find my way into this commission, was the tender upbeat energy that those two souls exuded. This painting became a blended portrait both of them and the gallery itself.

There are lots of details which, like the scavenger hunts the Granary makes for the children to have fun exploring the gallery are just that…fun. But zoom in a bit, just past the red dots under the cormorant statue, and before you count those blue violet bottles on the window shelves…just there beneath the table, at the foot of the tie-dyed man you will see what this painting is really all about.

The heart tugging twinkle in that all adoring look
that tells us all we need to know of Jack the Lad…


Storm Study – Painter’s Notes

It’s an early start for me in the studio this morning…

but I want to take you to the end of another day…

last October…when the wind was raging

and the clouds were heavy and dark

and the sea was gathering it all in

Storm Study – 12 x 20

We kept chasing this sunset.
After we watched it move in
and over the Vanderhoop House
up on the hill
we thought it was spent.

Wanting to make our last night…last
we took the Moshup Trail
where the wind picked back up
and blew a sand devil across the road.

I turned around and the clouds
were on fire…so…
I parked at this trailhead
and taking one step out of the car
was blown back into my seat.

Undaunted..
I managed to make it half way up this dune
before my weak knees gave out
but not before I caught a glimpse
of what the sea had to say…

Right before
everything in the world
changed.


Aquinnah Sunset

This is the next painting in order of the way we spent our last night on the Vineyard last October…after Derby’s Wake we drove on up to Aquinnah to see if there was a sunset there…

Aquinnah Sunset – 20 x 30

Anyone who has spent time
on the island of Martha’s Vineyard
will know how dramatically
the quality of light
can change
in the blink of an eye.

Last year,
in what now seems like
emotional light years away,
we extended our annual fall visit
letting the island and our friends there
hold us a little longer
and a little closer
because we needed to be held.

On our last night
when up-island was as quiet as I’ve ever seen it
we sat in the car in Menemsha
saying our goodbyes to the harbor
we alone were there as the heavy clouds
were obscuring any promised sunset.

We decided to make the loop
out to Aquinnah
and as we came upon the lighthouse
and rounded the bend
the winds howled
and the heavens parted
for waves of color to break through.

Looking back…
From where we all are now…
I can seen how powerfully looming a harbinger
the raging…
and then clearing…
of that Nor’easter was.

We thought our world
had shifted something mighty back then…

And then…
the reckoning.


Painter’s Notes – 2

Next up for this year’s Granary Gallery show is…

Derby’s Wake – 16 x 20

Part of what makes October special
on Martha’s Vineyard
is the Derby.

Fishermen from all over the world
come to test their mettle
against each other
and the sea.

When the weather blows in stormy
as it did last year
and Nor’ easters backed up
one after the other
it was really exciting…
to grab a couple cups of chowder
at Larsen’s and drive up to the beach.

From that vantage you could
see the bravest amongst those shore rod and reelers
fighting the waves and wind
and feel all cozy and safe and warm
as you rooted for them to beat the odds.

On our last night on the island
we drove to Menemsha to say goodbye
and no one was home
we were the only ones in the parking lot
and this boat was the sole vessel afloat.

Turns out we were there at the exact moment
when all those fishermen were at the other end of the island
celebrating the victorious among them
at the awards ceremony.

So this is literally…
In the Derby’s Wake.


Painter’s Notes…now premiering on YouTube !!!

OK…

NOW I can finally tell you that I have finished all of the Painter’s Notes for this year’s Granary Gallery show and …. they are all up on my new YouTube channel.

I’m going to test a link here to see if it will take you there...click here.

Ok that seems to have worked…at least it does on my computer but please let me know if it’s not appearing on your end.

You can enter my name in a YouTube search and find them as well.

I’ve had some help along the way…thanks from my tech gurus Barbarella and Paul…and a whole lot of patience as I came home later and later each night…love ya babe…but for the most part, climbing this learning curve has been fun.

I’m going to publish them here on the blog as I have in the past but this year I’ll be including the brand spanking new video versions along with the traditional printed ones.

In the shameless self promotion department…if you like what you see they tell me it really makes a difference to hit that like button…and if you also click the subscribe link you will get notices of all future videos that I share. Bonus tip…there will be at least one more coming…a studio visit which Herself is already ironing her outfit for.

So we’ll start with the big one…Menemsha Morning (video link above)

This painting is
the culmination
of a dream I have had
for over 40 years.

To spend the night
and wake up
in the village
of Memensha.

Last year
that dream came true.

And every morning
for a week
I got to experience
for my creative soul
everything
magical
that harbor
has to offer.

It did not
disappoint.