Happy Birthday ZOE !!!

Our valiant carrot whisperer is 10 years old today !!!

This painting was done when she was 8.
So much has changed in the world since then…

But Zoe’s imagination is growing brighter every day.

Sending you love and eagle hugs from the studio kiddo.

 

The Carrot Whisperer

“…I believe that everyone has imagination, that no matter how mature and adult and
sophisticated a person might seem, that person is still essentially an ex-baby. And as
children, we all lived in an imaginal world…you know, when you’d be told, “Don’t cross
that wall, because there’s monsters over there,” my God, the world you would create on
the other side of the wall. And when you’d ask questions like “Why is the sky blue?”
or “Where does God live?” or all this kind of stuff…like one of the first times I was coming to America,
I said to my little niece, who was seven, I said, “What will I bring you from America?”
She said, “Uh…” and her father said, “No, ask him, or you won’t get anything.”
And Katy turned to me and said, “What’s in it?” – (laughs) – which I thought was a great
question about America.”

An excerpt from the On Being conversation between Krista Tippet and the Irish Poet John O’Donohue

Our little carrot whisperer would have asked that same question at 7.
Now she is 8 and when we see her soon
I will ask her
but mostly I like to listen.

Zoe is one of the most richly vibrant souls
it has been my pleasure to share the planet with.

Her curiosity is fueled by a Tigger-like enthusiasm.

Stealthy observation informs her empathy.

And story telling is her super power.

So, last summer,
when I asked her seven year old self
to pose with the freshly picked carrot
and she examined it for a long while
deciding it made her think of
the snowman Olaf’s nose…

I waited

Then she thought the long green
fronds looked like hair
and she curled them in an arc over her head…

and I waited

And she started a story about how that
made her feel like a queen
and she was going to take the carrot
to visit her castle…

and I waited

until the queen decided she was in a carriage
and the carrot would, therein, accompany her
and she rested it regally on her shoulder
closed her eyes
and beckoned the footman to ride on.

An artist can’t choose her Muses.

We can only sharpen our brushes everyday
in the hopes that when they are ready to appear
we can catch them on …
the whisper.

 


Postcards from the Ledge – 9

Heavy hard frost this morning.

It didn’t catch me by surprise.

Covered tenders and put away tools.

The fleece jacket was a mistake.

Should have gone with full winter coat.

Got this far in the morning walk…

and chose the heated kitchen…

I have given over to the Muses…

completely and utterly.

The days are not mine.

They breath for me.

They lift… or do not lift the brush.

So it was surely they
who stopped me here
in the frosty hollow
perhaps to remember…

x

View from my easel  –  2010

It is such a pleasure to look out on this farm when I’m working.
And this winter, for the first time since we turned the bungalow next door into my studio, we had a real winter.
This was the morning after the first storm.
Finnegan and I were the only ones out in the neighborhood…
just as the birds were waking up.
I spend most of my days, in this corner of Pennsylvania,
painting corners of Martha’s Vineyard.
I’ve waited for three years now to find a way into painting
what is right outside my very own window.
It was the warm golden light that glowed from within the stand of drying cornshalks in that morning’s sunrise that did it for me.
I started with the treeline on the horizon
and then the barn, that magnificent old dame
and then the cornfield
layering color after color in the foreground
in preparation for toning it all down to create that field of white.
Good thing as it turned out.
Halfway through the painting I looked out
and all of that lovely corn had been harvested.
A moment’s beauty…fleeting but recorded now
to remind me how to see.


Hoppy to you

The Night Cre

Three years ago I sketched something similar to this after waking from a dream…

Each spring I came across it and half heartedly thought about looking

on the supermarket shelves for those egg dying kits I remembered….

but got distracted… and another year passed.

Then I found this basket in Jane Slater’s shop in Menemsha…

and brought it home to the studio and set another of Aunt Imy’s teacups on top…

and Susan came up with the exact McCormick’s egg dying kit
from the 60’s I was looking for…

and Pat drove in to town to rendezvous for the drop off…

and I rooted around in the white cabinet in the log cabin to find
every single rabbit related item we own…

and boiled up the eggs and filled four cups with hot water …

and caved in and added the vinegar after all …

which I thought was superfluous but which, it turns out, is the only way the dye will take…

and then I set it all up on the studio workbench and started sketching.

And THAT’s when the muses stepped in…

all of a sudden the setting sun shot through the front window and that magical shadow appeared.

Had I started five minutes later I would have missed it.

I love it when that happens.

 


Postcards from the Ledge – 5b

8:55 am –

Finn and I hauled our groggy souls across the puddles in the lane and up the path to the studio this morning and just like that…
we both had smiles on our faces.

Not only was our quarantine delivery box full…
but the scents of a friend left behind
had both our tails wagging.

Thanks to you Sue,
our coffers are full to brimming and the added bonus
of saying hi over the sack of flour…priceless.

I’m only back here for a quick dip
because it seems I forgot to add some artwork to yesterday’s post.

There is only one painting from the archives which speaks…
nay it screams
all the colors of green that are burgeoning here in the studio yard…

Fiddlehead Primavera  – 2006

From my salad days.
After a long day of framing pictures at the Harvard Coop
I would make my way home
from Cambridge late in the evening.
The Red Line bus would stop at the
Star market across from the Mt. Auburn cemetery.
The overhead electric cable would often slip its grip there so I
sometimes had enough time to run in,
grab a bag of mussels, the fiddleheads,
some butter and a bottle of wine…
and make it back on the same bus.
All for under ten dollars.


Shrimp Mousse Season

Shrimp Bowl  –  2008

“Always approach the shrimp bowl as you own it.”    Mary McGrory

‘Tis the season…of Shrimp Mousse

In the all kitchens of my adulthood
Along the margins of each recipe
Tucked and retucked
inbetween the pages of all the cookbooks
I have written in  tiny script
some words to mark the making
and the maker each time I make my way
back to that particular recipe.

A trail of micro journaled jigsaw pieces
which periodically get reassembled as I return
to refresh the ingredient lists
for old and new favorites.

Yesterday, after chatting with dear Peg
about birds and pity and beaches and pools,
I pulled out the well worn card
with her original instructions
for her shrimp mousse.

It has been updated and upgraded
and tweaked over the years, but the bones
remain strong and the sentiment
has become crystalized.

The first entry I wrote on the card was…

1 Jan 2000 – The world has celebrated.
We made it ! Now for some special treats to start
off the new millenium.

What follows are regular entries just about that time
almost every year with the exception
of the few years interim when I seem to have lost
that original card. I do remember the desperate searching
but it seems that the Muses returned it a few years ago…

22 December 2016 – Thought I had lost this recipe –
but in the wild autumn of home repairs -when both kitchens
had to be redone – it was found. Now we are in the dark ages –
and need some peace.

And here we are… planning on making a double batch I sat
down with all three of the Shrimp Mousse incarnations
and when Herself wandered into the studio kitchen
I was smiling through tears.

Chronicled on that little slip of paper
was celebrating the “first day of full time Artisanship”
The last walk with our Gulliver
and the first snowy Christmas with Finn
and this year’s entry made all the more special
to be able to write that we are all still together
around that kitchen table
a bit gimpier
and slower afoot
and settled deeply
into our seasons
of happiness.


Night Watchman

Night Watchman  –  22 x 36

Vincent has returned…

But it started with this sketch drawn last summer
on the first night he showed up for duty…

Then came this “Study for Nightwatch”,
painted to keep the image fresh in my mind
and to play around with the light…

Once I got that worked out, I was ready to go…but…
You see I had to wait for the sunflower to grow up.

The back story of this bunny’s journey from early spring garden bed
to his position on studio night watch
was chronicled in the Painter’s Notes for the study.

I’ve copied them here for you to read…
but you already know the ending…

Painter’s Notes for Study for Nightwatch

You know that first warm sunny day
when you understand that winter has
at least one more round in her
but damnation you are going
to clean out a garden bed…any bed.

On just such a day last March
we both huddled in our warmest fleece,
Herself putting her boots up in the sky chair
and myself blowing the cobwebs off of my weeding bench,
we passed a lovely hour or two
warming old bones in the afternoon sun.

I was hoeing away happily
when I saw something odd.

Just under the drying stalks
of last year’s hyssop
was a layer of what looked like fur.

I often throw the leavings of Finn’s coat
after her weekly brushings
out into the garden
or on top of the nearest snowbank
during the coldest months

So that was my first guess.

Then the fur moved.

Ok yes,
I screamed.

Woke Herself up actually…
and then she screamed.

Not ten minutes before
while I had been weeding the adjoining bed
I had said to Pat…
Now I’m going to be really careful because this is where
those bunnies were nesting last year.

So…the synapses fired up…
and collided.

Approaching cautiously
and much calmer now
I moved aside the covering layer of dry grasses
and peeked under the grey and white blanket of fur…

and sure enough
tiny baby bunnies
nestled in a hollow
the size of a teacup.

Oh the tenders
and gawd…
I had been hacking away
had I nicked one before the discovery ?

I tried my best to restore order to the nest
but I had removed almost all of the weedy
canopy that had made this new spot seem promising.

So, I added some leaves to the top
and found a wide wicker basket
and laid it over the nest
and offered up a prayer to mother nature for their souls

For the next two mornings I stood over the nest
and looked for signs of life.
Both times I saw the slightest rise and fall of the leaves
and the next day Kory came.

He’s helping me with the yard work and
as far as I can tell…so far
he has no fears.
Ok a slight shimmy in his step when he happens upon
a large spider…
but otherwise he’s a rock solid go to guy for wild animal taming.

Kory lifted the basket
and the leaves
and the fur
and sure enough
there were three living breathing bunnies
curled up in their teacup.

As anyone who knows me well
will tell you
they all got names.

Seeing as they were born in my herb bed
I dubbed them, Hyssop and Thyme and Vincent.
The last just in the case I had, accidentally mind you,
nicked one with the ancient Japanese weeding tool.

A few days later they were gone.

A week after that two of them jumped out of the way
of the string trimmer I was just about to swing along
the stone edging of the hydrangea bed.

Then, every afternoon for a month,
all three showed up at my new bird feeders,
which I have moved right outside of my easel window.

One of them kept lingering
later and later into the dusk
after siblings and squirrels
finches and doves
had long since gotten into their jammies
and been tucked into their beds.

On this night
as I was waiting for him
the sunset sent extra long low rays
through the bottom of the fence
and shooting across the tops of the grass.

And like that
the bunny hopped into that shaft of light
and stood completely still
for hours
keeping me company
as if he were on guard.

Then one of his ears twitched
and caught the fading light
and I saw the notch.

Now I am waiting for my sunflowers
to grow tall enough to pose
as the source of those angling rays
in the big portrait I want to paint…

of Vincent.


Brushes Down…

Last night I put the very last brushstroke on the final painting for this years’ Granary Gallery show.

Whew. These last few weeks have been an artistic marathon.

Now it’s a sprint to the finish line.

The show opening is August 4th.

The trailer needs to be ready to roll out of here a few days before that,
and there is a slew of work that needs to happen before then.

My pals at Artworks, in Mechanicsburg have been busy getting the frames joined for me and we scheduled the delivery for later this week. That gives me a little time to clear some room for them.

So, varnishing, comes first.
And it’s summer. The middle of a very hot and humid…
and throw a few more humid-ers in there…summer.
A while back I invested in an industrial humidifier for the studio. This has been quite helpful for just these type of varnishing days. Controlling the heat and humidity in here means that the varnish dries quickly and evenly and I don’t have to wait for the weather to cooperate, which…being July…it won’t.

After that I can shoot them.

With a camera.

Our business, HN Artisan, Inc. is set up to own the copyrights to all of my work. For all the possible uses of said copyrighted images, now and in the future, which include prints and publications, I need to obtain the best possible reproductions for the archive. And that needs to happen before I send them out and into galleries.

I used to farm this part of the operation out, which was wonderful while it lasted, even though it meant many trips to lug the paintings up and back in stages over the course of several weeks, so that the entire group of paintings was never in one place until the very last few days.

With my dear photographer John Corcoran easing into retirement, I scrambled to work out another option. Technological advancements, and time invested in learning about them, has led me to pick up the photography ball myself.

I’ve had some months to study and experiment with a new camera, fancy lights and another round of tutorials to brush up my Photoshop creds, and so far so good.

But now it gets real.

This year I have done another 8 foot painting,
and I have to shoot it, and there is no place in my world big enough to do that easily.

You may remember that last year our pals Matt and Paul came over to attempt to shoot last year’s big panel.

While it was the start of a great friendship, but we had no success in coming up with an archive worthy file.

Over the winter I pondered this dilemma and decided to explore a tip which David Fokos gave me. Having been to my studio, he suggested rigging something up…to shoot down.

Laying the panel flat and suspending the camera above, then moving it in a grid like pattern across the entire panel and “stitching” it together in Photoshop.

Trick to that scenario is that the camera MUST be positioned at the exact same distance from the panel every time the camera shifts.

Long winding internet searches lead me to this…

A cool company, 80/20 makes erector sets for adults, and I got them to cut aluminum square tubing to my specs and then Kory and I assembled this frame. It was extremely difficult to figure out how to make this able to be DIS-assembled but we…ok he…muscled the plastic joints enough times that it can be done.

This has been set up in the garage for several weeks, remember that painting marathon ?, well now that is over and it’s time to step this photography game up.

I went with the aluminum rather than building this out of wood for the higher precision tolerance, that’s an artists’ rather than an engineers’ technical description, to keep the camera equidistant from the panel.

The top bars on this frame have a lip facing up. This was designed so that a small “sled” could ride inside those flanges and slide evenly along the top rails. Here’s a look at the sled and the clamping gear I bought to try and secure the camera to it…upside down.

I will work on that tomorrow morning when it is not 95 degrees out there.

Theoretically, the panel will be placed on the inside of that large frame laying horizontally.
The sheet suspended above is to capture insect droppings from the garage roof, no it’s not an ideal workspace for artwork, but it’s the only space I have where I might be able to control the variables which include lighting and distance.

When …IF …I can get this dialed in, then Paul and Matt have promised to assist with the lighting and shooting of said panel. I better throw some more beers in the fridge for that.

So there’s a behind the scenes peek into the studio and the progress towards the big show of the year.

I’ll leave you with some pics of this morning’s wonderfully peaceful garden adventure.

With those hot temps here to stay, it was time to clear out the early spring bed for some heat loving veggies. So down came the pea towers. You can just see Herself hidden beyond the wheelbarrow full of pea plants using her super powers to pluck all of the last pods…I LOVE it when she joins me out there.

The before…

and after…

AND…the greatest gift …

Turns out the garlic was spared the nasty allium leaf miner after all !!!!

Yes, 100% of the plants are bug free.

The bulbs were smaller than usual, but that may have been a result of the pea towers blocking a good bit of light from them, among other factors.

Only last week I was crying in my suds that for the first time in years I had to ask Pat to by garlic from the super market. It was terrible by the way.

And now…voila… mother nature has blessed our greenhouse with a drying stack of bulbs.

Oh my heart is smiling all over again just writing that.

Ok back to my day job.

Stay tuned…the GG Show drumroll has begun and the lineup of new paintings will hit this blog page any day now.

In the meantime you all stay frosty out there.

H


Dreams and Secrets

Feeling mournful on this morning,
I am finding the light I seek
in the wonders of a grandchild.

There are two new paintings
which I am packaging up today
to wing their way out to Santa Fe
to the Sugarman Peterson Gallery

May they bring you some peace.

Dreamcatcher  –  20 x 22

Not sure if it’s the finch or her perch
but this tender glancing gesture
reminds me of a little poem
by Micheal Longley…

 

A TOUCH

after the irish

she is the touch of pink
on crab apple blossoms
and hawthorn and she melts
frost flowers with her finger

 

AND…

“There are no secrets we keep from our shoes.”  –  16 x 20

Always willingly,
but quite unknowingly,
Zoe helped me tell a story
which I’d been wanting to tell
for many many years…

Shortly after his wife Polly died
my pal Ted brought down from the attic
tied together with one sturdy twined string
a pair of purple suede pumps,
saying Polly had wanted me to have these.

Then he told me the story
that, when on a trip to San Francisco,
they had bought this pair of shoes
for a special occasion
and Ted, being Ted,
had gussied them up with some sparkly silver painted swirls
and they, the Meinelts and their shoes
had danced the night away.

When it came time to pack for the trip home
the shoes wouldn’t fit in their suitcase.
So, Polly being Polly,
she slapped some shipping labels on the soles
tied them together with that twine
and dropped them in the closest US Mail box.

In gifting them to me
I understood that the torch of a challenge
had been passed.

Over the years
the sparkle paint has faded
but the purple of those pumps
has kept on popping that story
into my creative consciousness.

Along the way,
and true to form,
the Muses threw a title down like a gauntlet…

While listening to Alexander McCall Smith’s
The #1 Ladies Detective Agency series,
a perennial studio favorite,
the character Mma Grace Makutsi,
she who graduated at 97% in her secretarial class,
utters the line..
“There are no secrets we keep from our shoes.”

The context is a bit complicated to explain
and if you’ve read this far in these painter’s notes
then you probably are already familiar
with the conversations Grace has with her shoes,
and if you aren’t then you are in for a treat
as I believe there are up to 19 books in that series now
and no, I cannot remember well enough to credit the exact
volume in which this line appears, apologies to Mr. Smith.

What is relevant for our story here
is that I stopped the flying brushes
and wrote that line down
on a scrap of paper
which has made the cut  on every list
in each sketchbook since
of what I want to paint next.

So…
when Zoe was visiting the studio last summer
and she had emptied the drawer of all the aprons
and had carefully tied each one of them on
one on top of the other,
and she asked if I had any shoes to go with her outfit…

well there ya go.

It wasn’t until she took a break from all that cooking
and collapsed with a hrrrumph
into the comfy easel chair
and propped up her exhausted and aching feet
and the muses veritably SCREAMED at me
that I…finally…had my way in.

I don’t know whether this train
will take her all the way to Botswana
but I know with all my heart
that in her dreams…
those shoes are dancing.


Study for Nightwatch

Study for Nightwatch  –  12″ x 24″

ow that first warm sunny day
when you understand that winter has
at least one more round in her
but damnation you are going
to clean out a garden bed…any bed.

On just such a day last March
we both huddled in our warmest fleece,
Herself putting her boots up in the sky chair
and myself blowing the cobwebs off of my weeding bench,
we passed a lovely hour or two
warming old bones in the afternoon sun.

I was hoeing away happily
when I saw something odd.

Just under the drying stalks
of last year’s hyssop
was a layer of what looked like fur.

I often throw the leavings of Finn’s coat
after her weekly brushings
out into the garden
or on top of the nearest snowbank
during the coldest months

So that was my first guess.

Then the fur moved.

Ok yes,
I screamed.

Woke Herself up actually…
and then she screamed.

Not ten minutes before
while I had been weeding the adjoining bed
I had said to Pat…
Now I’m going to be really careful because this is where
those bunnies were nesting last year.

So…the synapses fired up…
and collided.

Approaching cautiously
and much calmer now
I moved aside the covering layer of dry grasses
and peeked under the grey and white blanket of fur…

and sure enough
tiny baby bunnies
nestled in a hollow
the size of a teacup.

Oh the tenders
and gawd…
I had been hacking away
had I nicked one before the discovery ?

I tried my best to restore order to the nest
but I had removed almost all of the weedy
canopy that had made this new spot seem promising.

So, I added some leaves to the top
and found a wide wicker basket
and laid it over the nest
and offered up a prayer to mother nature for their souls

For the next two mornings I stood over the nest
and looked for signs of life.
Both times I saw the slightest rise and fall of the leaves
and the next day Kory came.

He’s helping me with the yard work and
as far as I can tell…so far
he has no fears.
Ok a slight shimmy in his step when he happens upon
a large spider…
but otherwise he’s a rock solid go to guy for wild animal taming.

Kory lifted the basket
and the leaves
and the fur
and sure enough
there were three living breathing bunnies
curled up in their teacup.

As anyone who knows me well
will tell you
they all got names.

Seeing as they were born in my herb bed
I dubbed them, Hyssop and Thyme and Vincent.
The last just in the case I had, accidentally mind you,
nicked one with the ancient Japanese weeding tool.

A few days later they were gone.

A week after that two of them jumped out of the way
of the string trimmer I was just about to swing along
the stone edging of the hydrangea bed.

Then, every afternoon for a month,
all three showed up at my new bird feeders,
which I have moved right outside of my easel window.

One of them kept lingering
later and later into the dusk
after siblings and squirrels
finches and doves
had long since gotten into their jammies
and been tucked into their beds.

On this night
as I was waiting for him
the sunset sent extra long low rays
through the bottom of the fence
and shooting across the tops of the grass.

And like that
the bunny hopped into that shaft of light
and stood completely still
for hours
keeping me company
as if he were on guard.

Then one of his ears twitched
and caught the fading light
and I saw the notch.

Now I am waiting for my sunflowers
to grow tall enough to pose
as the source of those angling rays
in the big portrait I want to paint…

of Vincent.


My summer vacation…

This summer we enjoyed a staycation. We had a blast at the Granary Gallery Show at the end of July… here’s a few pics from that week of fun

Then we returned to this little corner of the world wherein we toil and play…here are just a dozen or so pics out of the hundreds I took this year of the studio garden…note I had a helper this year, Kory, who did most of the heavy lifting…yeah !

There was a wonderful visit from Alex, who is probably banging on some drum at a band concert about now…

Kory and I built a new walkway, and he cleared us a beautiful view of our creek…

Zoe spent a week at Camp Gran and Mima, and was a terrific helper…

We taught her to play Clue…

Then we taught Arthur to play Clue…

We celebrated Andrew Wyeth’s 100th birthday with stamps and a trip to see his retrospective at the Brandywine River Museum…

We took in an O’s game with Doug and Scott…

I pretty much parked myself on the studio porch for weeks, and carved spoon after spoon and then got out the spinning wheel and spun my way through the last of the long locked lincoln fleece…

And we kept up the tradition…of opening and closing the season at Reeser’s…

I did a bit of commission painting somewhere in there, and a lot of wool gathering, in addition to the spinning…

Delayed by a hurricane or two, we have just finished packing the car…Finnegan’s followers will be just about as pleased as she was to know that her bed and bowls have been included… and tomorrow we head back to the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

An extended autumn stay to allow the muses to take me down some new roads, and listen to new stories, and refresh my soul.

So this is just to say,
that we are well,
we are grateful,
and we want you all to stay safe out there.

I catch you on the other side of the leaves…