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


Postcards from the Ledge – 25

It’s a wonderful day in the studio…

and I’m happy to report that the paintings have arrived safely at The Granary Gallery and all who helped along that journey are also safe and sound. Bless you all.

The lightness and positive energy I am feeling now clues me in to just how anxious I had been. It’s always a pretty stressful time as a self-employed artist to pack up your entire year’s worth of work and haul it hundreds of miles…across land…and sea…but…throw in economic uncertainty, civil unrest, cultural upheaval, political warfare and top that all off with a PANDEMIC …well it’s been a stressful time for us all hasn’t it.

Which makes it all the more wonderful today and I’m going to celebrate the positives…

AND…

I’ve got one very special positive to share with you today…

Jack the Lad – 26 x 30

I give you Jack..
the Lad…
and his pal Graham.

Let’s Zoom in a little…

There they are.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this in the Painter’s Notes…but after much anticipation on both our parts…Graham and Jack finally got to see their painting today…

It fills my heart to share the delightfully tender and upbeat energy those two souls exude.

Sure wish I could have been there for the unveiling Graham but this photo is all I need to see. May we all enjoy a bit of this happiness today.

 


Postcards from the Ledge – 24

Today that should read…postcards from the EDGE OF MY SEAT…

as I’m writing this I am eagerly awaiting news that our hero Nathan has arrived in Massachusetts at the rendezvous point…the studio of fellow Granary artist Mary Sipp Green…click here to see her wonderful paintings.

Gallarista Adam pulled in to her driveway a few minutes ago where the plan is to load up both Mary’s work and mine into the Art Van to return to the island of Martha’s Vineyard for our upcoming summer shows. A big thank you to Chris Morse, owner of The Granary Gallery, for helping to arrange this Pandemic Pickup.

And tremendous thanks to Adam and Nathan for taking the risks involved to make that trip for we studio-bound artists.

It takes a village.

And that is a perfect segue to today’s new painting reveal…

A Fisher of Men  –  36″ x 48″

This portrait of our dear friend Arthur walking in his calm powerful grace has been a comfort leaning against the wall in the studio lo these many weeks since it came off the easel. It has been hard not to be able to gather for our evenings of conversation and frivolity in the midst of the pandemic…when we could all desperately use that fellowship.

More on Arthur later…

The phone just beeped the good news that Nathan has arrived safely, Adam has almost finished loading Mary’s work and then we’re up.

My next deep breath won’t come until he pulls safely back into my studio driveway…so Pat is instructed to continue her novena a little bit longer.

Now I can move on to writing all those Painter’s Notes. Good inside work for these beastly hot days.


Postcards from the Ledge – 23

The intense emotions and recalculations of this roller coaster of a week have left us dazed…but we are closing it out in a much better place thanks in no small part to the true kindness of friends.

And honestly…that could describe every single week of this year so far…probably for each one of us.

So…Onward !

While this particular morning rings in a foggy soupy kind of summer day…

In this next painting, I want to take you to another kind of summer’s day…

The Morning Bell  –  24 x 30

A bright and colorful familiar along the Menemsha dock.

What I wouldn’t give to be sitting on a bench there now.

You all stay safe out there…

 


Postcards from the Ledge – 21

It’s a beautiful day in the studio garden.

Bright sun, getting hot, and tolerable humidity.

It has felt like we were about 2 weeks behind everyone else’s gardens but we are all getting used to a different pace. Herself and I take regular strolls around the place now and this morning we agreed that this has been the best year ever for flowers. There is so much color and the years of planting finally have displayed that English Cottage look I was aiming for.

I went out just now to take some pics but it’s not the right time of day, and up close you can see that the colors ARE beautiful…in spite of the weeding I haven’t done…so here’s the only one…for now

I’m eagerly anticipating the color which is not yet popping in the arbor bed because the nasturtium and marigolds are on the slow boat from holland…

I love before and afters so here’s the potato section of the Ruth Stout bed when planted on St. Pat’s day…

and the same corner today when I picked a potato for Pat…

That looks shockingly green on my computer but it’s pretty accurate. I gave the cukes on that hinged frame their first climbing lesson today.

From another angle the RS annexed strawbales with winter squash…

See I think those babies should be much further along…but we did have a very dry spell.

No pics of the raspberries which are plentiful this year but here’s a look at the blueberries coming in a close second…

I made the cardinal mistake of saying…outloud…to Matt last week that I had not seen a single June bug/japanese beetle…the very next morning…yep. So now I need to get out the Bucket Of Death into which I will plop their picked selves on my daily rounds.

So…a fine summer day.

We even decided to have an ice cream break on the rocking chairs for lunch…it’s just how we roll now.

After finally finishing the big painting last week, and coming to an almost complete creative standstill, I am making progress one step at a time towards whatever shall pass as the Granary show this year.

You’ve seen two of the eight paintings so far and I’d like to show you number three…

Aquinnah Sunset  –  20 x 30

It is a companion of sorts to the last one, Sunset Study, because they are both paintings of the same storm passing. More to come in the Painter’s Notes but it was the last night of our long island stay last fall.  The weather perfectly fit our mood and we had decided to turn left at Beetlebung Corner, choosing the less traveled path for a sunset view. It was, as it so often is…the right choice.

 

 


Postcards from the Ledge – 20

I want to bring you a little study today…

Sunset Study  –  12 x 20

Little in size but not in heart.

This year’s Granary rollout will be spread out over the next month.
There are 8 paintings, now that I’ve finally finished the last one…is there a huge relief emoji out there ?

As I work to photograph and frame them all I’ll be writing the Painter’s Notes sporadically and am planning some sort of virtual presentation to accompany the paintings. So many ways things are changing and we here in the studio are ready to learn and experiment with new ways to share and promote art.

While we work behind the scenes to bring the new artwork to you please be safe, wear your masks, and enjoy the freshening summer breezes when you can.

 


Postcards from the Ledge – 19

Let’s talk about ART.

Times they are a changing.

So as artists
who read tea leaves
and listen for patterns
in the airwaves
we are always out there
on that ledge
awaiting signals
from the Muse.

The Art Galleries in this world are finding new ways to represent artists and connect patrons to their work. The Granary Gallery is OPEN for business now. The staff reports that people are excited to visit and respectfully wearing masks. They have a new footpath to safely direct people through the indoor galleries and the wonderful open air courtyard is full of ocean breezes and…ART !!!

Facing the many challenges which the world has thrown at us so far this year have taken me away from the easel for an unimaginable amount of time. I’ve shared some of those challenges here in these Postcards, and others are, like yours, privately kept.

But it is time now to start showing you what paintings I have been able to produce…so far.

I want to start with the one closest to my heart…and soul…

Signaling Home  –  24 x 36

I haven’t written the Painter’s Notes yet.
All my energies need to be focused on finishing the gigantic panel which is on the easel in time to send it up to the island for what will be a crazy summer of exhibitions without openings.

For now, as I expect most of you will already see, this one says everything about who I am, where I’ve come from and where I hope the road will take me.

There’s more to come
so…
stay tuned
stay safe
and stay frosty out there.


Postcards from the Ledge – 18

Black Lives Matter…Period

Such a heavy time
So much grief
Layers of pain
Generations of choked out voices

In the midst of these disruptions, eruptions, protests and violent shaking off of the centuries of white suppression from the necks of those who have been born into the original sin of slavery in this country…

I have been searching my soul …
and listening.

One of the voices which is new to me came by way of an episode of On Being, conversations with Krista Tippett. She spoke with Resmaa Menakem.

 

  • Cover of  My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

    My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

    I’ve gone back several times to listen again and then again to try and understand more of his work which focuses on how trauma, particularly racism, lands in the body and how we all can be open to recognizing and listening to it as a path to move towards healing racial injustices.

    Here is a link to that episode…click here.

    Krista posts both edited and unedited versions of all her podcasts. This is one I highly recommend you listen to the unedited version. You can find it on her web site. ONBeing.org. The On Being project is a powerful resource for reflecting on the challenging work of peace in these troubled times. And there is so much work to do.

    I’ve returned to this blog space on a day when an other element of the country’s conscience has shifted. News that the Supreme Court has extended workplace protection to include members of the LGBTQ community.

    Coming directly on the heels of the most recent attempt/onslaught by the current administration to stamp out any and all rights which have been painstakingly granted to that same community …well I’m not feeling much like celebrating.

    In our lifelong personal battles as lesbians to be understood and accepted as equal humans Pat and I have always qualified our struggles with this thought…WE are fortunate (and here today we could substitute that word with “privileged”)…because we can hide our sexuality if we need to in order to be safe. People of color obviously can’t.

    With my heart broken wide open
    let me add all the soul in my voice
    to the roar for justice.
    Let the children of our grandchildren
    stand on my shoulders
    and march for equal civil human rights.
    BLACK
    LIVES
    MATTER.

    I’m feeling gutted…

    so today…

    The Gutting – 2015

    Ah there’s always a dark side.

    In The Yachtsman, you have a sunny, blue skied, fair weather kind of a day.

    Here, the clouds thicken.

    The air was heavy and it was deep into the beyond of the shoulder season,
    Out in the gun metal grey waters of the harbor,
    only the heartiest of working vessels were moored.

    The wind was kicking up,
    and we had just come from the Newes,
    with bellies full of chowder and a pint or two of October ale,
    and I thought I could hear a steady tapping…
    just there coming around the corner behind us…
    like the wooden peg of a leg,
    tap tap tapping on the weathered cobbled stone.

    I reached over, pulled up the collar of Herself’s Pea Coat ,
    and snuggled closer for the warmth,
    and we made our way down to the dockside.
    ‘Twas then I heard the screaming.
    Ghastly wales, a staccato of screeching,
    and a frenzy of feathers seemed to come at us from all directions.
    The water churned and the sky was a roiling mass of gulls.
    Through the miasma of wings I could see a figure.
    A lone fisherman was tearing out the guts of his supper.

    It seemed as if all of the island flock was massing, and thrashing,
    to win the foul spoils of his long cold day at sea.
    The gruesome sight was more than I could bear,
    and my chowder began to repeat.

    Just before I managed to steer us away,
    in the midst of the carnage and chaos,
    I caught a glimmer of light.

    Perched on top of the blood red piling,
    with a gaping maw of frothing yellow beak,
    a white throated gull threw back her head
    and just
    shudderingly
    and stunningly…
    laughed.

    The fisherman turned his head…
    And I will swear that I saw…
    a silvery, slithery, black eye patch.


Postcards from the Ledge – 17

Summer begins here with a whisper.
Gonna let the warm air dry out the grass
before I take on the mowing
which needs to be done
before we can plant
the last of the seedlings
which needs to be done
before the week is out
so
while I’m waiting for grass to dry
I’ll paint.

Memorial Day – 2013

From the Reclamation Series

Reclamation lg

 Reclamation – An exploration of a hidden island treasure

 

Hidden vistas, historic vineyard homesteads, echoes of vintage islanders, the tools of their trades and the marks they have left in the wake of their time here are meaningful touchstones for the muses and vivid fodder for the creative soul.  So it was, that when I sat down at my studio table a few months ago and read in the Vineyard Gazette about the Martha’s Vineyard Museum acquiring the old Marine Hospital building in Vineyard Haven, I was eager to see it for myself.

The Marine Hospital was built in 1895 and sits on a prominent hill overlooking what had only a few years earlier, in 1871, assumed its modern name of Vineyard Haven.  Over the last hundred plus years it had become obscured by the substantial growth of oaks, maples and at least one Siberian Elm whose towering beauty still envelopes one entire wing.  I’m probably not the only visitor, when hailing the island from the upper deck of the ferry,  to be surprised by its stalwart presence on the horizon, after the museum returned the landscaping to its earlier state.  While the clearing reveals an old friend on the town’s skyline, it also restores the dramatic view from atop that hill looking out over the expanse of lagoon and harbor and Vineyard Sound.

view from beach road 1910

My curiosity was satisfied when Denys Wortman, MV Museum Board member whose Vineyard roots are deeply woven into the fabric of the island, graciously guided me on a tour of the building last October.  He filled me in on the history of the building which was a 30 bed state of the art hospital treating islanders, soldiers in both World Wars I and II, and sailors who passed through the busy port.  It boasted the island’s first x-ray machine and elevator in a brick addition which was built in 1938.  Walking through its cavernous hallways we peered around the blackened walls of the darkroom where those x-rays were developed and explored the operating room and its alcoves.

The hospital was de-commissioned in the early 1950’s and the St. Pierre family took over its care and ran a summer camp there up until 2006.  You can see echoes of those happy campers in the murals  of sailboats painted on the wall in one of the bright corner rooms.  The building is infused with light by virtue of the many tall windows and the glassed transoms over the doorways which let that light cascade deeply into the space.  When I remarked on the graceful woodwork and the way each of the stuccoed corners was wrapped in a slender finial-capped turning of mahogany, Denny said there is someone on the island who has some extra pieces of those in a barn as his father was one of the craftsmen who worked on the building.

boat and mural

It’s that kind of lore which excites me and makes this building special.  From the half-tiled walls to the pressed tin ceilings, the patched and re-patched plastered surfaces and the ornately decorated cast iron radiators, the juxtaposed textures of weathered brick and smoothly polished patina of creamy porcelain, to the greening of the old copper and the deep marine blue painted baseboards that anchor the vaulted spaces to solid ground… the architecture is elegant in its simplicity and charms the esthetic heart.

I returned to the building many times during that autumn visit and tried to experience how the light and shadows changed over the course of a day.   One morning Denny met me and brought along the museum flag.  When I stepped outside to walk across the wide expanse of front lawn to help him raise it I commented on how there wasn’t a cloud in the crisp October sky.  “Pilots call that Severe Clear”,  he replied.

denny and flag

Back in my Pennsylvania studio when I was looking through the sketches and notes I had taken I found that I had written down that phrase and, for almost every morning of the dozens of days it took me to paint this view from the balcony, the spring sky here was brilliantly cloudless…so the title fits.

Severe Clear

Click Here to see all the paintings in the series.

I didn’t start out to make this a series, but as I finished each painting and saw them leaning along the studio walls it became clear that together they were beginning to tell a deeper story.  One which the building itself had to tell.  I wasn’t there to be a witness to the bustle of its early hospital days, or the loneliness of the few years that it sat vacant, or the second incarnation as children’s voices filled the hallways, but the spirits of those who moved through the corridors during its lifetime were present and as I studied and listened I was beginning to see the first inklings of its next chapter.

The museum had begun to move some of its acquisitions into the future home, and I found a particularly symbolic beauty in the dear old row boat that was resting against the standpipe in the downstairs hallway.  Through the open door behind it you could just catch a hint of the mural depicting the “Sweet 16” Menemsha wooden sailboat.  A real life version of which is tarped over and grounded on blocks outside and just around the corner.  Though a fair enough challenge to capture the building and the boat faithfully in all their weathered-chip-painted glory… I had a blast painting them both.

And I learned something about myself as an artist over the months of producing this collection of paintings.  With each one I dug a little deeper into the surfaces, took more time to study the textures and stepped further out on that edge of rendering.  I went from seeing the rooms first as vessels of color and light and then slowly, as details came into sharper focus, a sort of map would appear.  A map of stories.  Those finely chiseled cracks in its well used surfaces were asking to be painted honestly and I had to find the courage to listen and to work harder at seeing the building…and myself.

Both acts of… reclamation.