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…

 


Celeste envies Ruth…

So, here’s the thing…

The way my brain scampers about these days,
I need to take notes.
Okay, I’m being generous with the “these days”,
I’ve always taken notes.
Journals full.

With scraps of paper and napkin corners
and dog-eared pages of old magazines,
I have jotted and doodled
hundreds and hundreds of ideas for paintings over the decades.

Sometimes just a few gestures,
often a phrase run across while reading,
or listening to music,
or watching a movie.

Two or three times a year,
I gather the sketchbooks and journals
and thumb-tacked notes,
and review.

So, there I was,
in review mode,
when I remembered that there were notes…
on my phone.

Been a long while since I was in a place without a pencil,
but there have been the odd times when I had to use my phone app to jot down an idea.
Some of those pencilless moments must have been in the middle of the night.

For the life of me, I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote…

Shackled and dilled
Walker
Jigsaw pieces
Exploding from the center
Tomatoes

Anway,
Two entries from the bottom was this sentence,

Celeste speaks well of Ruth but secretly envies her aprons

A perfect jewel,
which there is no way I thought of myself.
No reference, just that rarefied run-on of perfection.
I instantly ran to the teacups,
searched the studio for my two favorite aprons,
and got to work.

Here is where I must beg forbearance,
from whomever I am so shamelessly plagiarizing,
I thought enough of your playfully glorious words
to save them in my “Painting Ideas” folder,
though I have absolutely no idea where they first crossed my path.

The Muses made certain that the sentence stayed hidden
until the precise moment I was ready, or rather,
THEY knew I was ready.

So…
tag me for the steal,
and thank you from the bottom
of my Aunt Imy’s wedgewood,
and wait for it…
I may catch Celeste and Ruth
in some future,
dare I hope…compromising,
compositions.

 


New Paintings

I’ve been playing catch up after an extended time away from the easel, and have been hitting the brushes hard for the last few weeks. So, I am a bit behind with this blog, and a long list of other things…

There are two new paintings which are out there in the gallery world and I wanted to let you take a peek.

This first one, The Self Portrait, is a painting of Zoe when she visited camp Gran and Mima last summer. There are traces of this chalk portrait lingering on the studio porch, and it warms my cold winter heart every day.

It is currently on display at the Sugarman Peterson Gallery, in Santa Fe.

The second is a still life, Reeling, for which I have Alex to thank. He’s the one who got me excited about learning to fly fish, and gifted me with that lure, and a few hundred stories about his fishing adventures. I have my new rod, Sister Bean, at the ready by my kitchen door and on sunny days I practice my casting out in the yard. That may be as close as I get to hooking a fish, which would be fine because I mostly just enjoy the time spent with Alex. He’s a keeper.

Reeling is hanging in the current show at Gallery 1261, in Denver.

OK, now it’s back to work.

You all enjoy these lengthening days,
and play nice out there.

H


Now… available on a screen near you…

big poster72

The movie is HERE…

Oh what a night it was. The house was packed, as they say, with eager friendly faces who came for the premiere and to support all of us who were captured by the magic of David and Barbarella’s brilliance.

movie night

Herself and I were blown away. They did such an amazing job.
Our fifteen minutes of fame stretched a bit further, on into the weekend, where we had a super opening at the Granary Gallery.

There is much more to write and share, but along with the swollen ego that filled the car on the way home…I picked up some swollen glands…and the muses have sat me down firmly in order to heal this viral plague so I can get back to those brushes and fill up some of the empty wall spaces !

So, I’m going to sip on my chicken soup and dream back on all the glamor and love surrounding the week on MV.

Meanwhile….it’s your turn.

All you who were unable to make the premiere, and all of those who left the theater wanting to watch it all over again, and again…you can now just click on the link above and be magically transported to The Artist Odyssey website…grab a bowl of popcorn, and watch this movie on the screen of your choosing.

All manner of good things, and summer love, to you all…


Oversouth Willow

Oversouth Willow

As is true of so many of my paintings,
the muses pulled on some pretty wild threads
to bring this not-so-still-life together.

I’ll say it started with Jane,
because of the teacups,
hidden among the many other artifacts
which she and her sword fishing husband, Herb purveyed
in their antique shop in Menemsha.

This is Jane’s 40th year,
in that treasure shack, Oversouth Willow,
and the last season of her tenure behind the desk.

And that is where we found her, last summer,
the film crew and I,
when we were parading our cameras, and mikes,
around the island, and we stopped to visit with Jane.

The team of David and Barbarella Fokos,
renowned artists/writers/film makers/Emmy winners,
were setting out to make a documentary film
to add to their growing collection for the new website,

TAO – The Artist Odyssey.

The results of which are almost complete,
and Herself and I are picking out our gowns for the premeire !

(Check my blog for details)

While the crew set up and Pat and Jane chatted,
I searched around and found these three porcelain gems.
Jane told us the story of the “Blue Willow” pattern,
which I believe was captured on film,
but what I remember most clearly
was the sparkle in her eyes…and she in her element.

Fast forward a month or two and we are getting ready,
here in my Pennsylvania studio,
for the Fokos Team to arrive for another session of filming.
I needed to have a painting in progress so I brought out those blue vessels.
And then the muses stepped up.
They rifled through the linen prop drawer for something blue,
and the feather that Saren had brought me the day before
drifted down from the teacup shelf,
they fingered around in my back pocket
for the tiny shard of blue tile that I had found
in the pebbled lane the last time I walked up to Camp Sunrise,
and they sent me climbing up to the “old studio”,
the shed on stilts by the creek,
which is now the overflow prop room…
and I opened the door…

the blue door.

Bam, I’m in.

I had climbed those rickety stairs,
and opened that door every day for I don’t know how many years,
and inside was…my bliss.
My first real studio,
after 40 years of dreaming.
I remember when that paint was new.
Around here they were not sure how to mix Nantucket Blue.
There are a couple of paintings which feature the other side of this old door,
but if you stepped back far enough to get some perspective on the outside of it…
you would be swimming in the creek thirty feet below.

Opened to the inside,
with my hand on that wonderful doorknob,
and the light raking over the blue chips of paint…
well, that was interesting.
It was quick work to find something to use as a support,
and the red cover of the old faithful, “Iron Woman” book
was the perfect accent…think Jane.

When the Fokos’ arrived,
the painting was well underway,
but David wanted to recreate and film the set up part of the process.
You should have seen us cramming into the tiny space by that door
with cameras and crew…remember what I said about that one step backwards.

No one was harmed in the filming of this movie,
and now this painting has a great story to tell.

And I’ve got to go dye my eyes to match my gown.


Puppies !!!!

double trouble

Meet our newest pack members…Ellie and Ava

sisters

After a hard year in which our friend Saren and family said farewell to three of their dogs, she is welcoming these two precious girls into their home…and our pack !

happy saren 72

We have already fallen in love. Ellie is the lab and Ava the shepard and it’s hard not to see their predecessors, Nina and Finn’s special pal Tallie, in these wee furry two. They were perfect angels, as all puppies are and I’m so happy for the light back in Saren’s eyes.

ava172 bone172 ellie in the window ava closeup 72 finn and ava shadows oh yeah72 nose to nose

It’ll take some time for Finn to adjust, she’s an old dog now and it was a bit of a furprise (I’ll leave that spell check in there)…but all tails were wagging and there’s nothing better than starting your day with puppy kisses !!!!


News Flash…

for all the Wolsey fans out there, and I have heard from a surprisingly many of you…

 

Himself

 

The Wolseys have become new parents…

her nest

I discovered this nest, which is in a bush just outside the kitchen window, when we were watching the tree cutters taking down another of the dying Pin Oaks. When all the noisy machinery quited down…the tiny chirps alerted me to the source. You can imagine my surprise when Herself, THE Cardinal Wolsey, flew out of the middle of the bush. You can see that the nest is well hidden. I wasn’t able to get a shot of the babies…yet.

proud papa wolsey

Now, my theories of evolutional avian psychology are about to be tested…

Will the offspring of the ever tapping cardinal be taught that the woman behind the curtain, the one in the baseball hat, with the tiny paint brushes…is She Whose Cocentration Must Be Toyed With.

Instinctive behavior…
or Muse.

Stay Tuned…


Sky chair summer

After the big summer shows I usually come home and crash…
for a week…
then get right back to the easel.

Well, this year I’m taking it slooooow.
We have been blessed with a new studio apprentice, Alex.
Here he is with his Dad, splitting away the mountain of wood that arose
after the two great, but sadly decaying, pin oaks came down last month.

neighborly

Alex is one strong, enthusiastic, and smart worker, and he is making it possible for this old artist to cross off a long list of chores that have been put on hold…for a decade…while all focus has been on painting.
He has begun to learn the art of panel making and is teaching me a thing or two about snakes, and we’ve both enjoyed some spoon carving on the back porch after the mornings of hard work.
Pat and I feel like we have won the lottery as far as good neighbors go. Every which way we turn, we find kindness and generosity. Believe me it is appreciated.

And, after all that fun morning work…the garden beckons.
Those straw bales are producing, and though I have had an attack of storm trooper squash bugs, there has been progress…

albino zuke early harvest watermelon

Time to try the new slushy machine…

slushy

and of course… Reesers…with friends

reesers

and, at the end of these perfect summer days…

sky chair summer sky

Sending you love from the Sky Chair.