Early dark and I’m almost finished here in the studio…
Before I go, on this eve of gratitude, I wanted to thank all our galleries and the hard workers who have managed to keep the doors open during this difficult year allowing we artists to keep working and filling those walls. So…to the folks at Gallery 1261 in Denver, Michael and Christie at Sugarman Peterson Gallery in Santa Fe, and Chris, Shiela and all our dear gallerista friends at The Granary Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard…love and thanks from the bottom of my brushes.
And a special treat…A new video for a very special painting…Arthur’s Light…Available at the Sugarman Peterson Gallery in Santa Fe (website is under construction and at the time of this writing Covid restrictions have closed business – I will update as soon as they are open but inquiries can be made via phone at (505) 820-0010 )
Not sure if it’s the finch or her perch but this tender glancing gesture reminds me of a little poem by Micheal Longley…
after the irish
she is the touch of pink on crab apple blossoms and hawthorn and she melts frost flowers with her finger
“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.
“The muses wanted to weigh in on this election cycle, the prop room decided to step things back a century, and by the time I got around to choosing the right teacup…the eagle was doing a flyby.”
Goodnight Moon – 16 x 20
“Our youngest grand daughter, Zoë, is a firefly, sparkly, bouncy, Tigger sort of a girl. She has the gift of a magical curiousity, and the rare patience to make the most of everything new her 5-year old eyes come across. Our days together are a blast, but I think my favorite part is tucking her freshly brushed and pajama’d self under the covers, giving her an eagle hug, and listening from the room next door as her Gran reads one more book. Goodnight Moon is a favorite for us both. Zoë has her own copy; the book in this painting is the one that sent me to dreamland when I was her age. The mouse is eternal.”
And, after a frantic couple of days when this very website was off the rails…I want to send a shout out of thanks to my tech crew…Ross ! We in the creative department are so glad you’ve got our backs.
That’s the note I found this morning, on the studio kitchen table, written on a scrap of cardboard, with a sharpie, found beneath the pile of framing tools, which were left untidied, after a long day of framing, and print making, and general mayhem making.
The Follansbee arrived just after I put out the lanterns last night, stopping for a pallet on the studio floor, as he made his way home from a week of teaching woody things down at Roy Underhill’s place in NC. So, the note was all we got to see of him this time, but we had a good visit on his way down south last weekend.
His hair is long enough now to tie in the back and a good bit whiter. But the sparkle is still there in those eyes. Gonna catch up with him and the family in the fall, so that’s ok then.
The day dawns, a little later for my own self than the master carver, and Herself has left to ship two new paintings out to the Sugarman Peterson Gallery. There is an opening for that show on July 3rd, in Santa Fe, so today you get the first peek at them…
All Her Eggs – 16 x 20
Scape – 12 x 13
From the sharply pointed pen of Mark Twain…
“Put all your eggs in one basket. And watch that basket.”
Eggs courtesy of Dru and Homer, who farm a CSA just over the hill. They are as delicious to eat as they are to paint. The eggs.
And just out that window and a little to the right is the little wren. Always. When Zoe is here, she relies on the wren’s first trill of the morning to signal that it is ok to get her giggly self out of bed and start her day. In the early summer she has a different job. This summer she has built her nest in the birdhouse just above the garlic bed. I wait with lusty anticipation all year for the garlic to send forth those gorgeously delectable curly scapes, and this season, her babies hatched on the very same day they appeared.
She spends her busy days now bouncing from Ted and Polly’s wind chime, to dancing from scape to scape. So, there ya go. Ted is having a blast, directing the muses every which way I turn around here.
Look for these two garden graces to be winging their way out west this week. And if you are in Santa Fe, please stop by to visit Michael and Christie Sugarman and say hey for me.
Now it’s on to more framing… stay frosty out there.
Finally !!! It’s been a very long haul since I began painting for this summer’s season of shows. Way Way back…in November…the theme for this year’s work snuck up on me. I just looked back at a blog entry near the end of that month and it was full of feathers. And Wolsey. My pal, the ever tapping cardinal, who is out there now, right now, slamming into the big window over my shoulder.
No wonder my studio is now full of paintings of…birds. Many many birds. And feathers. And Eggs. I put the last brush stroke on the last of these paintings just an hour ago.
Thought I would jump right into framing because two of these have to make a very speedy path to Santa Fe, for the opening of a group show at Sugarman Peterson Gallery. But I’m too tired to do that tonight, and it feels good to sit in the comfy chair in the office, by the air conditioning vent.
Some of the bird paintings will make there way out to Santa Fe, and my garden has been wanting equal time. There is a nice little feature in American Art Collector Magazine this month about the SPG show, and they included my thoughts on the muses this year…
” Where the focus drifts, the muses follow, and they are encouraging me to dig around in the dirt and out in the greenhouse and among the weeds to find inspiration for painting ideas. So, I will be adding to my series Garden Graces and building on the figurative work that has been whispering over my shoulder…just as soon as I plant the tomatoes.”
I got them in… last week. But, as the new little “look how healthy you are…not” app reveals, the arc of my “steps taken each day” has flatlined for the last three weeks. No wonder, since it is exactly 50 steps from cabin to studio. Double that and then spend 12 -14 hours at the easel and you have…100 steps. I’ll make up for it now though. My garden beckons and I can hear the weeds singing my name.
Here’s a few pics of my straw bale gardening experiment.
And the way back bales, two similar beds of bales are two the right with strawberries in them and this one has a steady crop of chard and beets which I use daily now.
Then…inside the studio…the shift is on. Frames and paintings are now stacked in every room and the Corcoran shuffle keeps Pat jumping as she delivers and picks up paintings from John at his photography studio. My job. Frame ’em up. Then write painters notes and pack everything up for our trip to Martha’s Vineyard for the biggest show of the year at the Granary Gallery.
That’s right…I know your calendars are marked… July 12th is the opening. Incredibly only three weeks from tomorrow. Geez…
So, I’m not sure if the whole reveal thing will happen with the new works this year but I will unveil them as the files come in and you will get the sneak peeks that my readers have come to expect.
First up…way up… is
Updraft – 12 x 16
Yep, that’s really how close the house is to the edge now…or at least “was” back when we stayed there last July. And just over those rocks is a 30 foot drop to the beach.
On this, the 40th anniversary of JAWS…I think I’ll keep my toes out of the water and flying in the sky chair which is where I’m headed right now. This will be my view, for tonight at least…
I am not looking at the calendar.But, un-like the light bulb in the refrigerator which may or may not be on when the door is closed…I know that the days are definitely still being crossed off…and the march towards the summer shows has become a sprint.
As mentioned in an earlier blog, when the snow was still falling, the Granary Gallery show is two weeks earlier this year, JULY 12th. Seemed like a doable time frame back in December but whoa Nellie here we are and it’s almost J-J-J-J-June. And, just to keep the old heart ticking…the Sugarman Peterson Gallery has added a special group show for the first week in July out in that art mecca of Santa Fe. Nellie needs another gear !
You will be getting the details on those venues, as well as a block buster of a show at Gallery 1261 coming this fall, but in the meantime…I’ve got to double down on the brushwork.
The 20 or so finished pieces are now working their way through the production pipeline. Fully dried, they now can be varnished, then Herself hauls them up to John to photograph, then I order frames and the folks at Artworks join them up, then we haul them back here to the studio and I turn me on some Suede tunes and pop them into frames and wrap for transport to MV or SF and beyond.
Just to let you know that I have actually been pushing some paint around for the last few months, I’ll give you a sneak peak at one of the new works.
The recent powerful solar flare got me thinking about the aurora borealis and that got me thinking of this painting which is at the Sugarman Peterson Gallery in Santa Fe. They get some pretty fine skies out there at night…
but those northern most colors are still number one on my list…how about you ?
we are leaving… for the Land of Enchantment… for a reunion with dear friends, a show opening AND honeymoon, all wrapped up in one.
The laundry is done…
and the packing has begun. My artist’s eye is excited to experience new colors on the horizon, and my hard working fingers are looking forward to letting the brushes cool down for a bit.
A personal word of thanks to all who have sent such kind words to acknowledge our wedding announcement. It is just that sort of support which has brought us all forward and I have a deeper appreciation of the meaning of friendship because of you.