Granary and Garden

We’ve been home for over a week now and the re-entry hubub has settled down and I am back at the easel in earnest. And back in the garden as well but not so earnestly as the summer heat wave continues. But this is all good because I am getting my garden fix early in the cooler morning hours and then the rest of the day spent at the air-conditioned studio easel feels like a spa.

Time then to post some photos from the Granary show. The opening was wonderful…a sea of art lovers with many new faces and lots of kind words of support. I took some photos after the crowds had cleared to show you blog readers the installation.

And not to be left out… a few snaps from this morning’s raid of one of the potato bags.

I’m in the mood for some vichysoisse and decided to dig around for some spuds. A task which I approach like an archeological expedition… gently brushing aside layers of dirt to reveal the brightly colored treasures. It’s just magical. Though I’m not too impressed with the yield so far. I welcome any advice from all my master gardener pals on how to improve next year’s crop.

In the coming weeks I’m going to look back and show a couple “paintings in progress” photos I took while working this spring. And I’ve got a slew of panels ready for a series of smaller paintings which will be headed out to Denver for the Gallery 1261 small works show in November/December.

Meanwhile I finished this piece the other day…(here’s an unvarnished studio shot)

It’s title is “Aren’t We Aging Well”…from the title of that wonderful Dar Williams song. I’ve carried just the title forward through several sketch books and when I decided on a visual interpretation it was originally supposed to be an anonymous couple, though always two women. But after Pat and I posed together in the studio yard…I used the remote shutter release on the camera to sneak some shots from behind the chairs…and I looked at the pictures, I realized that we were in no way anonymous. And then it became so deeply personal that I took it out of the Granary roster and put it aside to work on after the show.

I’m so glad now to have it finished …and have cleared some wall space in the studio to hang it after it dries, is varnished and photographed…just for us.

It has been years since I allowed myself to do a painting that wasn’t destined for a gallery or show. It’s good, as the song says, to “steal out with my paints and my brushes”…and paint as if nobody is watching.

But now…I’ve got to be getting on with the current still life. A few of the familiar props are making another appearance like the red stiletto, the silk camisole, and is that one of Polly’s cigarettes ? Really ?

Patience dear reader…all will be revealed…in good time.




And for the finale…

It has been a blast to post these images one day at a time and has forced me to learn the new website admin navigation and to explore worlds deep withing this machine that I am now using on a daily basis to lighten the load of the business side of the artworld. And it has been an opportunity to look at each painting as an individual entry in the larger show and remember what drew me to paint them in the first place. All good.

Over a year’s worth of work lined up for your consideration…and now we’ve reached the final painting.

I give you…

#18 – James Pond 92 x 48

There is a deceptively simple peace that comes from looking out over this pond. Peaceful in that air and land and wind and water come together seemlessly and you can melt away the burdens of the world in one rustling of a leaf. Deceptive in that there is so much going on in those elements that your calmly gazing self might be the only still thing around.

All manner of wildlife are in constant motion. The water never stops. The leaves and clouds dance around you like fairies. And the chorus of birds and bugs and lapping waves are gentle background to it all.

But my favorite part of this corner of the planet is that it changes. I have spent many weeks here and no two reference photos are the same. It was part of the challenge in choosing to paint this spot. Which season? which sky? which time of day? The blue of that water can be fifty different hues in one given hour. The constantly revolving collection of cormorants on that single rock alone can make one’s brushes spin.

To settle on all those choices is to make everything…come to a …stop.

And then, once stopped, to try and give each element an accurate rendering and slowly build the layers of background melting into middle distance and finally detailed foreground and tease each strand together and hope that they vibrate as a whole and at least give the hint that all is in motion.

I hope that you have enjoyed this adventure as much as I have. And I hope to see some of you this Sunday at the Red Barn as we unveil the 2012 Granary Gallery show.

Thanks for checking in and, as always, thank you for your support !

Now go outside and play.


On the road again…

Now this is sorta fun…

When this post hits the airwaves I hope to be somewhere around New London, Ct. in the car, hauling the trailer, headed for the island.

But today, as I write this while procrastinating instead of packing the trailer, I have two more paintings to wrap up and a whole lotta last minute packing to do so let’s get right down to it.

I’ve saved the biggest for the last two and today I give you….

#17 – Up Island Morning  40 x 90

A little slice of Chilmark heaven. Our destination this week is just over the hill from here and right on the edge of the planet. Zoe will not need the sheep whose internal music player lulls her to sleep with the sound of ocean waves…because they will be right out the window !

May you all find peace in whatever slice of heaven you wake up to this morning…

Museums and Orchards…


A great article (click here to read) about the new Museum of Realist Art which is a project in the planning stages but gaining momentum towards the dream of a 2014 opening in East Boston. The founders, George Kougeas and Pamela Sienna, have been working hard to realize that dream and have been terrifically supportive of the artists they have already begun curating into the collection.

More than just offering a venue to showcase Realist art, they are building a dialogue amonst the artists though their support and promotion that is enhancing and enriching our community. I’m thrilled to be on their radar and doubly pleased to see that the Boston Globe included one of my new paintings…yes one which you saw here first only a few days ago…in the online article.   Camera Obscura

So, again…and again… many thanks to them.

And now… Orchards.

It’s time to unveil the anchor piece in the Apple Series paintings. Many of you were along for the ride when, this fall and winter, I was blogging as I slogged through the adventure of painting seven hundred fifty thousand apples. Ok, not literally but it sure felt like that at the end of each day. I have included those blog entries as the Painter’s Notes mostly because it reminds me that a little perserverance and a lot of whining can get you through even the toughtest of artistic challenges.

And now that it’s done and framed and ready to be put in the trailer… I am so glad that I chose to do it on a larger panel than originally planned. For me it’s all about Ted’s hand and that would have been completely lost in a smaller format.

Rumor has it that Debbie, the orchard owner, is planning to provide a little appley treat to accompany the painting at this sunday’s opening. Those planning to attend might want to arrive early to insure a taste of Tiasquin’s Finest.

For the rest of you… here is…

#16 – Tiasquin Orchard  34 x 60

Ok I can’t delay this any longer…it’s out to pack the trailer.

Be well…


A Frenzy of Packing…

I almost forgot to post today’s painting in the midst of all this packing. We have one more day to get all this together and I’m suddenly WAY behind schedule…

So, without further ado here ya go…

#15 – The Canoe Trip  24 x 36

Another look at James Pond
but this time from Gulliver’s perspective.

She was a wonderful dog.
Shy around some, she chose her humans carefully.

As Saren will tell you,
if you were lucky enough to have Gulliver trust you,
it was a rare gift of grace.

And Gully was loyal.
Beyond measure or equal.

So that when her best buddy Pat,
and pack members Jon and Tonya,
decided to take a sunset canoe trip on the pond…
those loyalties were surely tested.

Paddle alongside them to make sure their passage was safe…
or stay on shore guarding me,
the one who is mostly unsure of the water
and boats
and a reluctant swimmer.

You can see
that she chose to wait and watch
and I will forever be grateful to her
for that gift.

She watches over us all now and is ringing her chimes as I write.

Blossom smile some sunshine…

The Granary Gallery show opening is exactly one week from today !

And I seem to be aware of that on a cellular level. My frazzled brain is tingling with firing neurons and my body is leaning into the promise of an ocean breeze. So it didn’t surprise me at all when, after watching a video on the New York Times website about preparing squash blossoms for an appetizer I went out to the yard and took some photos for the blog of the very blossoms I plan to put on a plate this evening…

I am in a bit of garden angst at the thought of leaving my tenders behind for our week on the island…just as the fruits of our labors are…well…blossoming. I have the drip irrigation system up and running and a timer installed yesterday seems to be working just fine…but if you have ever raised a raised bed full of veggies you know the rewards that are reaped from constant vigilance.

Anyway, I thought that stumbling upon that recipe was kismet since I now have lots of blossoms that, if left alone, will grow into fruit that I won’t be here to pick. So…much against my usual judgement, I’m a gonna pluck the best of the lot and nibble on them tonight.

Then I come in to write today’s blog and go to the folder where I keep all the show images to see what is left on the list and… wait for it…

#14 – Blosson  14 x 20

You’re all gonna think I planned this but remember that frazzled state ? There is no extra room for such detail…this is pure garden grace at its finest.

So here we go… into the final countdown. Painter’s Notes must be finished today. Then a host of other computer work and some studio clean up and a whole lot of packing. Oh, I remember the days when a trip to the Vineyard meant throwing some clothes and books in a napsack. Now it’s the station wagon, the dog and the trailer…all packed to the gills.

Here’s a link to Melissa Clark’s recipe for Squash Blossoms…

I’m going to go with Boursin, since I don’t think Burrata could be found within 50 miles of here on a Sunday, and a basil/garlic tapenadey thing. I’ll let you know how they come out.

Meanwhile, go take a walk in your garden and breathe deeply of the beauty.


Working in the studio kitchen…and a bit about packing…

Every inch of this studio is at this moment filled with framed paintings. Yesterday I finished the last of them and wrapped them up for travel as I went along. There has been a bumpy learning curve over the last decade as I tried several different ways of securing the paintings for long distance transport.

One memorable year, when I still had my old Toyota pickup, circa 1982, I decided to stack the framed paintings horizontally…one on top of the other…with sheets of matboard and cardboard in between. After the 12 hour drive to Martha’s Vineyard, in steamy summer heat, I was dismayed to discover that some of the cardboard sheets had wilted and sagged enough to touch the surface of the paintings and actually “etch” a faint series of lines into the varnish. A hectic and sweaty few hours ensued wherein I had to transport them to a garage large enough to lay them out and then unframe and revarnish. NOT something an artist wants to have to do the day before a big show !!!

But, as I said, memorable and lesson securely learned. Nothing, absolutely NOTHING ever touches the surfaces of the paintings again. Now think about that. When they are framed, the frames provide a measure of protection by standing proud above the surface of the panels. Some are deeper than others but all of them give a bit of room for air to circulate when a board is placed on top or between frames.

But remember the sagging ordeal. Even a rigid foamcore board can bow enough in the heat and humidity to touch the surface even when packed upright. So I have sheets of ultra thin plywood which are wrapped in cotton sheeting in the trailer. They provide a rigid barrier in between the largest of the paintings and will not warp under stress.

So I have evolved to the current packing method which involved cutting foamcore corners and wrapping clear plastic packing film around the frames only. The plastic can touch the frame but usually stretches tight and doesn’t but either way it won’t leave a mark and lots of air can circulate around it. This makes it easier to handle the frames as they go in and out of the trailer.


Pat’s coming over later to help me wrap the two largest ones but in the meantime here’s a look at the finished carved frame which I showed you in progress a few days ago…

And because I spent most of yesterday working in the studio kitchen…

today’s painting is of one corner of that very room…

#13 – Swept Away  18 x 26

Gay Head Lily

Here’s a fun one…

#12- Gay Head Lily  26 x 19

This is another that was inspired…insisted upon is more like it…by Ted.

He asked me three years ago if I had ever seen the Gay Head Lily and wasn’t satisfied with my answer so he took me on an adventure one afternoon over to a field out back of a friends house where they were blooming by the acre.

He found the perfect specimen…

And insisted on holding it so I could see all sides…

We chat once or twice a week, more when I’m on island, and every single time he has asked me if I have painted that lily yet. I was originally going to paint him holding it pretty much just as you see above. But it wasn’t working for me until I decided to turn it on its trompe l’oueille head. I wanted to tie it into the other paintings this year which feature those beach stones and you get the idea.

It was fun to paint but not as much fun as the phone call telling him it was finally finished. We’ll see you in less than a week now Ted…the show opening is on his 96th birthday. Now that’s sorta fun.