How it begins…anew

It is dark now, outside the studio windows.
Inside it is still early, by this artist’s clock,
but my eyes are weary and my head is thick with days of studying, sorting and pondering. After my two months of rehab hiatus I am back at my day job and it’s time to narrow down the candidates for the coming year’s worth of paintings.

I confess to feeling some pressure about this after raising the bar with last year’s Reclamation Series. Focusing on a theme which threaded throughout a larger body of work was both challenging and creatively stimulating…so I want to play on those swings again. But where to start ?

An interesting consequence of taking the rare “vacation” from our annual fall Vineyard excursion this year, is that I don’t have thousands of “new” photos and sketches from which to leap. Thus the last few days of reviewing the many years’ worth of archived images and ideas.

I have several compositions which have been patiently awaiting their turn at the easel and keep nudging at my elbow so they get first dibs. Some of those were roughly sketched out years ago and the artist who is looking at them anew today is seeing a radically different way to bring them to the canvas. This incubation period is something I have come to trust in completely so, now, it’s all about listening.

As of the end of this day,  I have a stack of sketches. The next job is to make decisions about panel sizes. I’ve got about 25 in storage and 37 new ones in mid-production which gives me plenty of options. Then I can pick one or two which are the closest to being ready to paint and get myself in front of that easel. It seems to be best to let the editing of the big list happen in the background…to percolate while I concentrate on lifting the tiny brushes.

My soul needs to be painting.

Brushes Up !







It’s a colorful day here in the studio and new work has been sent flying, like autumn leaves, to a gallery near you (That would be the Granary Gallery if you happen to be taking a walk on Martha’s Vineyard )… Here’s a sneak peak with Painter’s Notes to read so pull up a chair and a cup of tea…

The Reverie – 12 x 16

The Reverie72

I have been sitting here in the studio office for over four hours now,
basically avoiding the task of writing Painter’s Notes.

Yes, I have been distracted by important things…
like the glorious clear November sky,
screaming its glaze of King’s Blue Deep,
overtop of which the tapestry of fall oaks and maples are positively on fire with peak season color.

Or the twenty minutes I just spent editing the photo I had to take of the praying mantis,
who I discovered sunning herself on the air-conditioning unit outside of my easel window,
when I walked over there to get a piece of gum.

And in between I have listened to two radio interviews by Krista Tippett,
whose conversations with modern day Clerics, Mystics and Buddhist monks
often stop me in my atheist tracks
and shine a light on my own particularly flawed humanity.

So, ok focus…and I am looking, once again, at this painting…and remembering.
It was a hot summer day and the bed of zinnias which I had planted for Pat was full of flowers.
It was late enough in the season for them to have to make way for the Black Eyed Susans,
and for the garden rake to be covered over with cornflowers.

I remember that I had noticed, the day before I started the painting, that the swallowtails were spending the early morning dancing in that bed, and that the first rays of light climbing over the hill made them seem like stained glass windows.
So I had taken some quick photos before I sat with the sketchbook.
As so often happens this was serendipitous because when I came over the next morning,
and sat waiting…and waiting…for the sun to replicate those shafts of cathedral light,
the one butterfly, which I had fancied and chosen as model, returned with a broken wing.

I didn’t see it until just now,
but the colors are the same, in the summer butterfly and the autumn leaves,
and both just as brilliantly alive
with the spirit…
procrastination or reverence ?

Her Smalls – 24 x 23

Her Smalls72

I believe the origin is British
but that doesn’t matter.
Smalls…it’s just a matter of undergarments.
And the dearness of intimacy.
And the gift of props.
Like the hat box which belonged to John’s grandmother.
The tiny gloves that I wore to the White House.
The delicates which used to live on the shelves in the Muddy Creek General Store.
The leather purse and traveling iron which used to live on the shelf in Jane’s shop.
The coin silver spoon that Ted gave.
The teacup that Sue had to remind me was from her grandmother.
And that whimsical handkerchief of Polly’s which I pulled from the drawer
because of it’s red stripe, and only discovered half way through setting up the still life,
that it’s little girl was, Herself, doing the ironing.

Some of my most favorite paintings come from a single word.
And the gathering round of favorite things.
And the gift of quiet leisure in which to cherish them both.