Countdown…

This year’s show at the Granary Gallery will mark 10 years of representation there for me. I can still remember walking out of the gallery after Chris had said, “Yes, we’ll take all the paintings you’ve got.”…and being shell shocked and unable to speak until we got to the Black Dog and sat down and my heart stopped pounding.

It has been a dream come true of a decade and I am grateful every single day for the chance they took on this wannabe artist. Because they are so good at doing their jobs…I get to paint for my living and that still takes my breath away.

Though I have grown comfortable walking through the red barn doors and being welcomed by hugs of friendship, it is not because I am one in their stable of artists… this is the way that they treat everyone. It’s a gift and it flows from the top down which I attribute to Chris and Shiela Morse’s spirit of character and community. It’s a family affair and we are honored to be a small part.

The show is now a little over two weeks away, opening is July 15th, and I thought I’d do something different this year by rolling out the new paintings one at a time. This year there are 18 which will be making their debuts in the annual summer show so that will take us right up until the day we pack the trailer and haul them up the eastern coast…island bound.

I’ve continued the “theme” idea begun last year and there are a few overlapping ones this year… Apples is the big one, Seagulls get to play politics, Garden Graces make an appearance, and the first of many planned paintings of a special and seldom glimpsed corner of the Vineyard, James Pond, make the scene.

I hope it will be fun to follow along and see what each new day has to offer as I work in the background getting the frames put together and the painter’s notes written…in between harvesting and weeding the burgeoning garden !

So here we go…

#1 – All this and More…   28″ x 36″

This painting was inspired by a quote from NC Wyeth, “I have all this and more, yet how I would like to relax; to be content with a wheelbarrow, a rake, an apple basket, a pipe.” From his letters, September 19, 1910.

I’ll be picking up the wood for the frame tomorrow and I’m going to carve that quote around it. And yes, I’ll be content with my carving knife, a pile of shavings…and maybe even a slice of apple.

 

 


Sunrise Panel

Sun

Sunshine

Lots of sunshine…

that’s what we’ve had for a whole week and it is healing the souls of flood weary citizens of the commonwealth.

So this morning I harnessed the power of those first rays as they blast through the foggy forest.

 

Yes, that’s a panel…a blank canvas as it were… which means that YES I am going to be painting again…any minute now. And yes, that’s an apple basket and a Stayman I think on the panel. Last night I took a previousely prepared panel and slathered on a final coat of the primo gesso ( Artboards Panel Gesso ) and this morning it was ready for the gentle wet-sanding which leaves that ultra smooth finish that I crave. You need to find a source of strong raking light to dance across the panel so the otherwise invisible imperfections can be spotted and sanded out. Today I let mother nature be the lightbulb as well as the drying source.

I have come to understand, though not always appreciate, that each painting has its own agenda, its own time to be rendered. I tried several times last fall, and then again in the spring, to work on the apple picking series which I had sketched out and planned to include in this year’s Granary show. But it wasn’t in the cards. Not its time… until now. It made me wait until the crisp autumn air sent me running for the first sweatshirt of the season…and the local orchard was announcing that it was time for pick-your-own…and the saigon cinnamon jar tumbled off the shelf and into my great grandmother’s dough bowl.

OK got it. I dug out the NC Wyeth quote which inspired the series when I read it in his letters last winter, ” I have all this and more, yet how I would like to relax; to be content with a wheelbarrow, a rake, an apple basket, a pipe.” And I sent Pat to her favorite farm stand to beg for a basket and Finnegan and I drove over to the orchard and picked a bushel of the finest looking apples…which, she reports, tasted pretty good too. Then we took a trip to Saren’s house to put the pieces of her old wooden wheelbarrow in the truck and bring it back to the studio for the setup.

With a bit of repair work it was strong enough to hold the apple basket and the rake and the pipe. So here’s a rare look at the first stage of the composition…

I say rare because, like any good magician, you risk letting down your audience if they see what goes on behind the curtain. I’m just so excited to be working at my day job again that I’m throwing open all the windows and doors.

Starting off the day with panel making at dawn… I can’t wait to see what other wonders await…

Take a big bite out of your day !


Pilgrimage

I’ve spent most lunch hours over the last six months reading through the letters of N.C. Wyeth. The book itself is over three inches thick and, with my increasingly distracted and dissembling attention span, I thought it might be a resource volume to be dipped into at random and occasionally. But I have been enthralled and am enjoying reading each entry in order, living his life along with him and the family, and taking myself back to the early days of Chadds Ford, a place I know well.

We are members of the Brandywine River Museum and when I read that they were showing some of the early paintings that he did for the Philadelphia Sketch Society I was determined to go. The show closes tomorrow and inspite of our both being sick…again…we packed up our lozenges and water bottles and tissue boxes and trundled off to the Brandywine Valley yesterday.

I am only up to the winter of 1910 in the Wyeth letters and N.C. has just gone to NYC to meet  Canon Doyle ( love the synthesis there…re the last blog entry ) for whom he illustrated several stories. So too was the synthesis of being able to view paintings that he had worked on during this period while reading about the comings and goings of the young Wyeth family and the back country lives in the sleepy village of Chadds Ford.

Most of the compositions were landscapes which N.C. writes about wanting to focus on rather than the increasingly obligatory illustrations. During these early years he’s been bemoaning the desire to paint “true” artistic works for himself but also for his mother who seems to keep harping on him to paint “nicer” subjects which I read as quaint and peaceful rather than swashbuckling and verile.

And so he did with the pastoral impressionistic scenes of the orchards outside his studio and the almost pointalistic plein air studies. Very far removed from his bold narrative work with it’s heavy but confident brushwork. The contrast fades to misty sun dappled haze and the edges blur away from realism into a dreamy wash. Which does echo the struggles he describes in the letters of this period wherein the pages drip of angst as he searches to define the emotionally charged connection he has with the natural world around him.

But then I digress and descend into the world of the critics and I don’t have the bonafides to pretend to that ilk.

The exhibition was an interesting diversion and I’m looking forward to diving back into his narrative over my salad today.

There were two other treats on our visit…lunch at the Simon Pearce Factory where we enjoyed the plumage of the Red Hat Society Octogenerians…

and the Shanks Antiques Barn in Oxford, PA. Our friend Tom Gilbert told us about this place and it was amazing. We were short on time so we concentrated on the basement which stored the largest collection of old hardware I have ever seen. Wicked cool…

You need it Bill’s got it…including the proverbial kitchen sink !

I highly recommend a visit …I know we’ll be back.

For now it’s the last push to get this Menemsha painting done and then on to some smaller pieces… tick tick tick.