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


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.

 


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.


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 – 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 – 15

Big wind…

Big decision.

The morning’s laundry is getting a second rinse cycle from the passing shower.
Great gusts of wind blew through the holler a few minutes ago.
And we have come to a sad conclusion.

We will not be making the trip to Martha’s Vineyard for my annual Granary Gallery Show.

Pat always counseled her Hospice patients that ambivalence is what eats you up…and there are no wrong decisions. So we made the call.

We still know so little about this virus, but the course of the pandemic appears relentless and we in this family trust science and revere scientists and health experts.

Chris reports that the gallery is making preparations to open when the governor and health inspectors give the all clear. As with all businesses large and small many modifications will need to be made for the safety of staff and patrons. It’s early days but we agreed that gatherings like show opening cocktail parties with dozens to hundreds of people are not possible. We are grateful that he and the stellar staff are willing to try and help keep their artists afloat and we know that in a crisis like this humans seek beauty.

There are also issues for those of us who call Martha’s Vineyard a spiritual home but do not…as yet…have keys to the place. Like many resort destinations, The Vineyard is challenged by so many residents and businesses relying on tourism for income, and like all of us the islanders are divided about how and when to allow that commerce to resume.

We straddle both camps but are choosing not to risk the health of our friends by possibly bringing more virus to their already limited health care system. And with highly vulnerable risk factors, we are choosing not to take the chances that days of travel and higher concentrations of humans would bring to our own health.

So, while we are not going to the island…

The PAINTINGS ARE !!!

And that is my challenge.

I am going to need help.

And more than a few miracles of supply chain timing…Julie get ready !

But the plan is now to have the paintings there at the gallery for whatever sort of viewing they can muster. There are plans for a Virtual Vernissage, I just made that up but it’s a good one. And I am beginning to ponder on what I can do from here that will enable me, or at least my virtual self, to be present as well.

If any of you have ideas throw them out. Like I said, I’ll need help.

So now it’s time to get back to work.

Feels like a good time to feature the place where I expect to be working hard for the next few months…

Stay extra frosty out there…we’ll get through this.

That’s how the light gets in  –  2013

This painting began with the title, a line from the wonderful Leonard Cohen song, Anthem whose chorus goes like this…

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

And it was taped to my easel for over a year. Now, everything on, or pretty much near, my easel eventually becomes a wiping surface for my brushes. After that much time the tattered notation was almost completely obscured by paint. But still, it and all the other quotations that surround me there are doing their job.

They are there to nudge, and in some cases to shove, my fears and doubts and ego and shaky confidence all aside. There are notes of encouragement, interesting thoughts that I lifted from the books I listen to while working, reminders when to plant garlic, and, like this one, words or phrases that I thought would be good painting titles that need time to percolate.

In addition to the notes, I have a support system of talismans. Objects that are touchstones to people and memories that have had profound influences on my creative journey. The ones featured in this painting include the well worn denim shirt, on the back of which is embroidered the cartoon character of Ziggy hand sewn for me by my very first patron, Stephanie, whose never wavering support began in our high school days.

And there is the also well worn railroad hat from my beloved Pops, Fred Decker. There’s a great photo of him wearing that hat, which is taped to the shelf behind my easel chair, wherein he is sitting next to my grandmother Mima, on the sofa in Craley, being mischievous together before they became leaders in my pack of guardian angels .

The old niblick, wooden golf putter, has been re-serviced as my mahl stick, holding up my favorite teacup is the beach stone which was handed to me by Mr. Morse and which echoes the deep connection to those Vineyard shores… and, most importantly,  looking down from above is the photograph of Herself taken on the bluff in Chilmark where our hearts were joined.

The window to the left provides the light that I need to see the panels, but the true light, the authentic self which I am constantly seeking, shine back at me from these precious objects.


Postcards from the Ledge – 12

Oh those sweet cherry bells.

The first crop is harvesting this week and it has made all the difference.

We lost a couple plants… not to frost but to squirrels…so to have something fresh to eat  from the garden is heartening.

This will be a short post…My friend Peter reports that most of his thousands of viewers who tune in to his online video tutorials last no more than 10 minutes. Their loss.

Short for me today because the sun in shining.

That elusive orb that so many of us have been sorely missing is blazing away here in the studio yard so it was time to try out our new wash set up.

I spent way too long yesterday in the garage building the wringer mentioned in the last blog post.

It is always fun for this former woodworker to pick up her tools and play. It got complicated yesterday as the workshop is full of a winter of discontent and my usual workbench was not accessible. I had to choose between the vice and the chop saw. The saw won so I cleared this spot out in the back…

This was a borrowed design from youtube which I had to modify. Quite a bit of modify as it turned out. The rolling pin on the bottom had to turn freely but the top one needed to be stationary. All I could find was one of my precious last chair posts…this one in walnut no less. I hated to cut that 48″ down to 15″ but needs must.

I loved climbing over the quarantine stations on the porch to sit for a spell on the shaving horse again…

I’m going to take Peter up on his offer to turn what parts I might need for this machine because I think the two rollers should be a pair of the same size. But that’ll be the upgraded version after I work out the current kinks.

With today’s sunshine…

we took the plunge…

I gotta say I’m a bit shocked that it actually works. I heard from many of you on FB after I posted a video of Herself trying this thing out that you remember vividly your grandmothers’ advice to keep your finger outta there…Even a story from Lodi about Aunt Imy remembering an incident with her mother and a tender body part.

Seeing as our motto here is Tit’s UP…I’ll just say that’ll be essential to remember on wash day.

With a bit of practice…and lordy we will be getting that…this part of our new world order might be manageable. And getting to spend time outside amongst the blooming lilacs…

That’ll do pig. That’ll do.

Today was supposed to be the first day of the Sheep and Wool Festival. They have concocted an online experience …

For which I applaud them. But I am personally glad that I found two fleece before this event. The virtual fleece sale online is just links to venders and I had hoped for good pics and details about each entry. Very confusing. I’m going to go outside now and open mine up and pick around to see what shape they are in.

I have ordered some carding combs. Think Edward Scissorhands. Extremely scary looking things. But it’s time to kick my spinning game up a notch and that’s just one lesson I’m taking from this crisis. If not now…when.

That’s it for now.

If anyone is still reading…here’s your bonus gift.

Be not afraid…

Noli Timere  – 2016

Be not afraid.

I called her Scout.

Because, I knew I was going to be spending
a lot of intimate hours with this sheep
and she needed a name.

Because, on the day I started this painting,
the news came across the airwaves
that Harper Lee had died.

And because I wanted to be just like
Atticus’ curious, strong,
loyal and fiercely brave
daughter Scout.

It was late in February
when I began this painting.
We were deep into a very rough winter
of care-giving and hospice nursing
for Pat’s elderly aunt and uncle.

His death in November
left a wife of 72 years to grieve
through the cobwebs of Alzheimers.

Two days after I began this painting,
Aunt Mary died, in the dark hours
between dusk and dawn,
while Pat slept
on the floor beside her bed.

The afternoon before,
out of a deep state of rest,
Mary sat up in bed and cried,
Pat, help me, I’m so afraid.

Taking her hand Pat comforted Mary
with the words that her room was full of angels,
and all of them were there to take her to Bob.

Pat’s art is her compassion.
She was born to be a hospice nurse.
It is hard, meaningful work,
that only someone strong,
and fiercely brave can do.

Her courage runs fathoms deep.

The grief that followed Mary’s death,
was interrupted by waves of peace.

In the wake of that chapter in our lives,
I was drawn into a profound intensity of focus,
as I tried to shine some light on the emotions
that were trying their best to hide.

Scout and I spent those weeks together,
weaving our way through her pasture of grasses,
and catching the sunset in the fibers of her fleece.

I had been listening to Louis Penny’s wonderful
Three Pines Mystery series, and was so happy to be
among the old friends her characters have become.
They are real, and honest, loyal and brave.
Spiked with just enough wit and humor to keep my pencils sharp.

At some point,
most likely when I was struggling with
refracting the rainbow of light
through one of those four hundred million locks,
I caught a new word, and paused the book
to go back and listen again.

She was describing the words that Seamus Heaney
had written to his wife, on his deathbed…

Noli Timere

I put down the brushes.
Scout smiled.

As I am writing this now,
in this troubled world,
with so much to fear,
I am sitting next to Scout,
framed in her quiet island pasture,
searching my soul
for the courage… to listen.