The Tempest

It is late here in the studio. Dark and stormy. Outside and Inside our country.

We are in the throes Ross and I of rebuilding my website.

My job is to load all of the paintings up on to the site.

Every single one.

This major review is forcing me to take a long deep dive into my past.

Both creatively and historically.

I just came upon this painting and paused.

Prescient as in 2017 we were fully engaged in the tempest.

Not knowing where the storm would throw our boat. As the seas were building.

Tonight there is a light on the horizon.

But the monsters have been unleashed.

Be safe dear ones. And hold on tight.

These were the words I chose for the original Painter’s Notes…

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door !”

From Emma Lazarus… The New Colossus… on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty

 

 


Tempest in a Teacup

Tempest in a Teacup  – 12 x 13  Available at the Granary Gallery

Shivering here in the studio
the winter winds are swirling about
and a storm is brewing just over the horizon…

in a teacup ?

There is nothing that makes me happier than a monster snow storm in the forecast.
So, as  I prepare to batten down the hatches for the Nor’easter predicted to hit us soon..
I’ve created a tiny video for you to get a closer look at this temped tossed teacup…stay safe and SHOVELS UP !!!

 


Feathered Harvest

Feathered Harvest  –  18 x 24  Available at the Granary Gallery

As we walk softly into these longest nights of the season
my heart skips lightly back
to the remembered warmth
of a late summer day
when there were just enough
ripened green beans
to make a supper’s serving
for two.


Last of the Season

Last of the Season  –  12 x 18  Available at Gallery 1261 in Denver

I have a few NEW PAINTINGS to begin posting…the one above has headed out to Gallery 1261 in Denver.

But it reminded me of today since I spent the morning making an addition to the Ruth Stout bed.

It is mostly Matt’s fault because he keeps texting me about how well his “undercover” veg are doing and because he is my go to garden buddy. It’s so nice to throw ideas and new gurus back and forth and he is a witty soul who takes his garden very seriously.

Here are the rapid fire pics of the process begun early this frosty morning…

A chance to finally use all the cardboard I have been saving for the entire year.

Even threw in the Quarantine Box…awe Finn

Then it was time to haul all the leaves I had corralled into a bin on the other side of the yard.

I filled the spaces in with the stash of Vineyard Gazettes…minus the crossword puzzles.
It was heart wrenching to track the Covid headlines as the island has joined the nation with the out of control surge heading into the winter. These aren’t in order but they give you an idea…

Herself arrived in time to lend a hand and it took two bales of hay to cover the new 11 x 14 foot annex. The Ruth Stout bed now boast 960 sq feet of gardening space.

So, as I feature the “Last of the Season” it feels good to be laying the foundation for the season yet to come. May we all stay safe and healthy to be here to enjoy it.

Mask UP people and I mean it.


Thanksgiving Eve

Early dark and I’m almost finished here in the studio…

Before I go, on this eve of gratitude, I wanted to thank all our galleries and the hard workers who have managed to keep the doors open during this difficult year allowing we artists to keep working and filling those walls. So…to the folks at Gallery 1261 in Denver, Michael and Christie at Sugarman Peterson Gallery in Santa Fe, and Chris, Shiela and all our dear gallerista friends at The Granary Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard…love and thanks from the bottom of my brushes.

And a special treat…A new video for a very special painting…Arthur’s Light…Available at the Sugarman Peterson Gallery in Santa Fe (website is under construction and at the time of this writing Covid restrictions have closed business – I will update as soon as they are open but inquiries can be made via phone at (505) 820-0010 )

I hope you enjoy…and Happy Thanksgiving !!!

 

 


Upgrading

A much needed rainy day here in the studio affords me an equally much needed rest.

The last few days of summer like weather nudged me outside to put the garden to bed and my body is respondingly sore…but my soul…that is very very much alive.

Heavy sweaty work of raking and mulching the mountains of leaves felt as cathartic as counting up all those votes here in the great state of Pennsylvania. I danced some righteously happy jigs while tossing the hay all over the Ruth Stout garden. The crows, bluejays, wrens and one shy bunny all raised their voices in joyous song while I dug up the last of the late season potatoes.

The winds of change have indeed shifted and for me, it happened in a flash. Just like that, ding dong…the weight lifted, the doors flew open wide…and there was spontaneous partying in the streets all across the land. It reminded me of the sublime enthusiasm that Skip had while directing her swan song.

The Muses are vibrating with this newfound energy and I’m listening.

First order of business is to clean up this website. It is almost 20 years old now and since we are on about the business of clearing out cobwebs I’ve signed on  to update and upgrade and give it a general overhaul.

We will be working throughout the next couple months with most of the tweaking being done behind the scenes and under the hood…or so Ross tells me. (More on his new company and adventures to come.)

Along with some design changes I will be using this opportunity to reorganize the Print section of my site. The time is upon us to make good on what I had promised to do this time last year…raise the prices on the prints. The material and shipping costs have increased even more so we have settled on $295 as the new charge for the 17 x 22 sized prints.

I’m announcing that now because, like I did last year before the holidays, it will give those who are interested an opportunity to purchase prints at the current $195 until the NEW website goes live early next year. Shipping will continue to be FREE.

A total revamp project like this signals to the Muses that I am ready to rock and roll.

Uncharacteristically…and quite surprisingly…I have absolutely no idea what I will paint next.
Which feels just right.
Herself told me she’s not the least bit worried about that.

So there you go.

I’ll bring you along for the ride…
let’s see where this train takes us !


All Politics is Local

All Politics is Local – 18 x 24  Available at The Sugarman Peterson Gallery

While this election draws forward…

As dawn broke in the morning studio
in the ballot counting state of Pennsylvania
I was organizing the holiday cookie tins
and saw from my kitchen window,

a lone eagle
flying proudly over the log cabin
and sailing on above the creek

It took my breath away.
The breath that I have been holding
for four years.

I’m once again looking forward
to baking holiday cookies
putting new batteries in the window candles
settling in at the studio easel
for a long winter…

of our peace filled content.


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.

 


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.


Postcards from the Ledge – 26

We have come to the final new painting for this year’s Granary Gallery show…

Morning Menemsha – 48″ x 92″

In this day and age it is hard to keep things on the Q-T, and when you quietly post your first ever YouTube video so that you can practice with how to do that…

and then you decide it looks sorta cool so you tell one or two friends that it’s up…but please don’t share it publicly yet…

and then you tell a few more people and swear them to secrecy, knowing that you want it to be saved for the big finish in the website rollout of new paintings…

because you hope that someone out there actually reads these blog posts and enjoys the anticipation each year as much as you do…

and then you get the green light from the gallery that the paintings arrived safely and the word is getting around…as it does on an island…and people are trickling in to SEE this painting…

and then you are peeling potatoes in the studio kitchen and check in with your phone and see that your WIFE has actually gone ahead and posted the video ON FACEBOOK…

well…drumroll… you’ve been scooped.

So without further ado…

here is a little fly by video I made so you can get up close and personal with my painting…Morning Menemsha