Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Question of the Day

Soft Curves, 2007, Oil on Birch Panel, 16x20

Nat asked me an interesting question the other day in my comments section.

Does reading someone else's interpretation of your work change how you would think about it or talk about it?

I had a flip response ready (No, because no one ever writes about me, excepting these critiques of course.) but decided to hold off responding for a bit. And so for the last few days I have been thinking about whether I am, would be, or should be influenced by other's interpretations of my paintings.

I guess I could change how I think or especially, how I talk about my work because of a critique. And maybe I should, especially in some cases when the observations are incredibly perceptive. I certainly struggle with talking and describing my work in an in depth manner, mostly because I work so instinctively, so it sure would be nice to have some help. AND some new words.

Unfortunately though, those words and interpretations wouldn't be mine. They wouldn't be from my heart and I suspect they would not ring true if I were to say them. And I have to make a real effort NOT to think of what a reviewer may have said or will say, good or bad, while I am actually working or that will really throw me off and out of my zone.

So I guess the answer is a reluctant no.

BUT, the whole review/critique thing does give me some added confidence, at least if it's positive. If it were negative I would buck up and work harder. Or maybe I'd just take to my bed and only eat chocolate and potato chips. Heh. Either way, having someone consider my work so carefully does feel very gratifying and gives it a bit more meaning and affirmation.

Does that even make sense?

Monday, October 29, 2007

I Don't Get It

Cottage at 5pm, Oil on Birch Panel, 8x10

At the risk of being accused of jumping on the bandwagon, I thought I'd weigh in on Charlie Finch's recent comments concerning artblogs, along with Joanne Mattera, Pretty Lady, Steven LaRose, Brent Burket, Eric Gelber, Nancy Baker, and S.L. Butler. Alas, I can't respond directly to what he says about many of the artblogs that I enjoy reading, because, as usual, I am not in on whatever it is that he refers to. For example, he says this about Edward Winkleman:

Have you ever been to blogger Ed Winkleman’s gallery on 27th Street? I hear there is a valuable prize awaiting the first recorded visitor: you get to meet Dinky Winky in the flesh or at least register for a random drawing to win email privileges.

What does that mean, "register for a drawing to win email privileges"? I don't get why that is funny, or even insulting. Clearly, I am missing something here.

And that does not surprise me. I have never been popular, nor have I ever been a member in good standing of any kind of crowd and so consequently, I am usually unaware of the subtleties of so many in-jokes.

Which brings me to my other reaction upon reading this column: complete and utter devastation that I was not mentioned. I know I don't review art, which is probably his focus in reading blogs. And I have never insulted him like some bloggers have, I am a regular looking, middle aged (actually, maybe a bit past that on my more pessimistic days), female landscape painter, not showing in Chelsea. PLUS I have more than one kid AND I talk about my chickens (horrors) so obviously these things would not put my blog anywhere near his radar.

But still. I can't help but yearn for the attention, the increase in hits, and the outrage I could have felt by being included in a "circle-jerk", if only I had been mentioned by Charlie Finch.

My potential popularity has been foiled again. Damn.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's a Good Review

Moody Fall Day, 2007, Oil on Birch Panel, 12x16

And so because I am completely self involved, I signed myself up for Google Alerts earlier this year. Whenever my name shows up somewhere I get an email and a link to the item. It's not always me; often I get links to other Helgesons, including a basketball player who seemingly kicks butt for Purdue based on how often I hear about her.

However, besides the alert for my own posts, I have also been getting a lot of alerts lately, mostly because of The Blogger Show and my upcoming show at Boxheart Gallery in Pittsburgh. Today a review came in regarding a few pieces that Boxheart has included in a group show, currently on display. I don't get reviews too often, so when I do, expect to hear me crow about it! It was a positive article regarding the show, the artists and he discusses one of my paintings (shown below) plus he made mention of my solo show in November.

Speaking of which, I am very busy trying to finish up the pieces for that. I have to work every day until next Friday, when Doug and I are leaving to spend the weekend in NYC. And when I get back, I will have to begin packing up and shipping all of the work out right away.

Yikes! I wasn't stressed at all until I just wrote that down....

First View of the Morning, 2006, Oil on Panel, 18x24

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Sometimes They Fall Down, 2007, Oil on Birch Panel, 18x24

I thought I'd post a few links today to some blogs that I have been reading lately. Because, you know, y'all should do whatever I do. Heh.

Elijah at Art and Critique has done a series of reviews of my work, including several posts concerning individual paintings. Go on over and check out what he says, not just about me, but about other works of art as well.

I came across Sheree's blog a few weeks ago and am really liking it. She has a wicked sense of humor and I like her outlook on life, frustrations, thankfulness and all.

Marjojo left a comment on my blog once and I went to check her out. Her work and writing is filled with such soft intensity that I couldn't help but be hooked. No pun intended, even though much of her work is crochet.

Dorothy linked to me in a recent post (she is one of my lurkers) and when I checked out her blog, I was blown away by her photography. It's incredible. Go check it out and make sure to look through the archives.

Also, while I am posting links, please check out The Blogger Show page here. The opening for the New York show is in less than two weeks (Saturday November 3rd, 6-9pm, Agni Gallery, 170 East 2nd Street, Storefront #3, NYC) and I sure look forward to meeting a number of people who have been a virtual part of my life for the last few years. I also hope that readers/lurkers here will come out and say hi to me and Doug. The opening should be a good time!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunday is For Road Trips

Two Trees in Front, 2007, Oil on Panel, 16x20

Sunday was the perfect day for a road trip. I decided to go visit Gary at his Open Studio, which is only about a two hour drive from our town. This time I took my son, Julien as he was very interested to see a potter's studio. He has taken pottery for years and LOVES his throwing class. He is deeply disappointed to be missing the fall pottery session due to playing on the football team. A football playing potter-our kids are well rounded! Anyway, Julien is pretty good company when he is not in his I-know-everything mode. I tortured him with my ipod on the way there and he tortured me with his ipod on the way home. Every time Lucinda began to sing he let out a loud, irritated sigh and I was lucky enough to hear each and every song ever recorded by Weird Al Yankovic. Heh. I never expected that I would ever have to listen to "Like a Surgeon" or "Eat It" ever again. I nearly wept with relief when he switched over to his other playlist that included The Beatles and Modest Mouse.

We had a lovely visit with Gary and his wife Maude. They are very nice and it was fun to see their purple house as well as Gary's studio and work. He gave a couple of demonstrations on his pottery wheel which were cool and my son is all jazzed up to throw a pitcher or a tall vase rather than the bowls he has been doing. Oh yeah, and we did a little shopping!

The late afternoon light was incredible on the drive home and I stopped a number of times to take pictures (which elicited more deep sighs from Julien). Good timing because I have to begin another batch of paintings today for the Pittsburgh show today and I could really use some new images.

Ok, I did my social thing, now it's back to work!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The One Where I See the Future

On my way back from Roxbury last Sunday, I drove past a number of barns and other structures that I have painted in the past. I always have my camera with me and whenever I go anywhere, I usually take at least a few pictures to use as future reference. This is a photograph of a building that I took last June.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally pulled it out and thought I'd have a go at it.

I liked the cupola and in the past have tried to include them in paintings with little success as I have a tendency to get too fussy with them. However, this time I thought I'd include it, but as an element that is no longer really there. So this is what I did:

Now for the eerie part. On Sunday when I passed the building I nearly drove off the road. No cupola!

The building is being gutted and possibly demolished, but on the very day I saw it, it looked a lot like my painting.

You can pretend that you hear the theme from The Twilight Zone now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Used to be Bigger, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x24

I have been playing around with some alterations to the barn imagery. It began with an aerial photograph of our property that hangs in our kitchen and which I look at often, enjoying the history of our property.

It was taken in the fifties or so, back when this was a real working farm. The photo was given to us by Clyde, who grew up in this house and who now lives about a mile down the road. As you can see, the barns in the photo are pretty extensive, however now, only one piece of that whole structure is still standing. The other structures are long gone and a newer silo is now standing next to the remaining barn. But in the last few months I have become enamored with the "ghosts" of the barns in our community that I see everyday. I've gradually been looking through my barn reference photos with a new eye, imaging what may have once been there. And since I alter so much of the reference that I work from, it hasn't been a big stretch to also imagine what might have been surrounding the structures that I like to paint.

So I have been occasionally adding scratched in barns or houses, clunky additions, and structural elements to some of my barn paintings, portraying what may have been, what is and what could be there as well. This is the first one I did and while not a barn, it was an encouraging start. I have been pleased with the continued results, and several of these pieces, including the one above, will be included in my upcoming show at Boxheart Gallery in Pittsburgh. The scratched in "ghost" elements are actually very subtle and the challenge is to get the painting and composition to work, whether one can see the additional elements or not. That takes a bit more planning than I am used to doing, but I am enjoying the challenge.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Barn Lady

A funny thing has been happening lately. I have been the recipient of many photos of barns. No less than three different people have recently sent me photographs of barns that they have taken. Surely everyone who knows me, or reads my blog must think of me when they see a barn now. Heh. Clearly I am now the Barn Lady.

Actually I love this. I have hundreds of pictures of barns that I have used for reference but even though I usually see at least one barn wherever I go and always get pictures, I can't be everywhere. And there are an incredible number of barns in communities throughout this country, not to mention the whole world. So I truly appreciate the thoughtfulness of those of you who have taken the time to send me photos. New reference is always good and when it comes through someone else's eye, it's even more fascinating to me.

And to the rest of you - bring it on! I would be very happy to see more barns (or multiple barns) and many of them will surely find their way into a painting. So go ahead and email me jpegs if you like.

The above barn is my great Aunt Minnie's barn in Ohio. Aunt Minnie (sister to my grandmother and to my Aunt Esther, mentioned here) was the best aunt ever, full of life and spirit and endlessly interested in everything that I did. Our yearly visits to her home were a bright highlight in my childhood and her confidence in my abilities was of such value to me. She died almost eight years ago at the age of 95 and I still think of her often. I am not sure if the barn and property is still in her family, but this will always be Aunt Minnie's barn and I am sure it has more than a few stories to tell.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Retrieving Art and Music

Two Trees In Front, 2007, Oil on Panel, 16x20

Sunday I took a break from working in the garden and drove down to Roxbury. A few weeks ago I received word that the gallery would be closing at the end of November and so I wanted to retrieve my work from their inventory. I have been exhibiting there for almost two years and it was a good experience. I had a three person show and a solo show, plus my work was included in a couple of group shows. Sales were modest, but pretty good considering the gallery is located in such a small community. I found several new collectors (yes I mean you, Brian) and showing there really helped raise my profile in upstate NY. But as I move into galleries in larger cities, it becomes more difficult to continue to sell my work in the smaller areas. So losing this gallery doesn't feel like a bad thing for me, however, it's unfortunate that Roxbury is losing such a good fine arts venue.

The ride home was excellent. It was a nice, sunny day with great light and I stopped several times to take photographs to use as reference for future paintings. And holy cow, my iPod was really throwing out some good songs. At one point it played a string of seven songs, each of which break my heart in totally different ways.

"Jack and Diane" John Mellencamp back when he was John Cougar. Reminds me of high school.

"Martha" Tom Waits. Oh the pain of talking to an old lover!

"Welcome to the Jungle" Guns N'Roses. Gotta love totally raucous noise once in awhile.

"With or Without You" U2. I can't even tell you all how much I loved Bono in the 80's. He was my man, my one true love. I know he would have loved me too if we could have made eye contact, just once...

"Car Wheels on A Gravel Road" Lucinda Williams. Everything that Lucinda sings breaks my heart.

"It Ain't Over Til It's Over" Lenny Kravitz. Love the sound of this one and well, I loved Lenny too. I am very fickle, sorry Bono.

"Hallelujah" Jeff Buckley. Showcases Jeff Buckley's incredible voice and heart and makes me feel sad that he is gone.

Then I skipped a few and came to "Gimme Shelter" by Patti Smith. I had a sore throat trying to keep up with Patti (not possible) by the time I pulled into the driveway.

A very good day.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Odds and Ends

The last few days have been dark, dreary and rainy. I actually love those kind of days, however a few in a row can really put a crimp in my ability to photograph my work. My prime photo location does depend on at least a little bit of sun and we haven't much lately. So the stack of paintings waiting to be documented will have to wait for another day at least and today I will make do with putting up a few other things.

Doug and I went with the girls to the local Pumpkinfest a couple of weeks ago. Growers from all over the area bring in their pumpkins to get them weighed. This year the winner weighed 1376 lbs! If you are truly fascinated by all of this, and who wouldn't be, haha, you can see more results here. There were also the obligatory craft tents and baked goods for sale and we saw nearly everyone we knew there. We go every year and it is always a good social event. The next day the local huge pumpkin participants hollow out their pumpkins and there is a regatta race in the lake, along with another set of crafts, activities and food booths. We skipped that this year, although it is pretty surreal to watch adults paddling around a lake in a big pumpkin.

I took some pictures of our yard (plus one gratuitous shot of Penny, our dog) and house last Sunday when we did actually have some sun. My heart bursts when I see all of this fall color, even though it is never as good in a photo as it is in real life.

And last but not least, my work has been reviewed at this blog. I am feeling a bit big headed today, as it is a very flattering review where so much more meaning is given to my work that I ever thought possible.

Have a nice weekend. We will be busy in our garden, trying to prepare it for next spring as well as for planting a few winter crops in a straw bale cold frame. Wish us luck on that. Heh. We need it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How We Met

Doug and I in 1990. He is holding the camera and looks more jowly than he actually was.

In September of 1988 I was coming off a very bad summer. I had spent far too much time mooching beer from my friends at the bars in Center City, often walking home at 2am because I didn't have a dollar and change for the subway. I was incredibly poor, even losing weight because I didn't have money for food. I couldn't find a decent job and only managed to get through the summer by borrowing $800 from my great Aunt Esther, (a true low point for me, borrowing money from her) who was very disappointed in me because I hadn't actually gotten my degree. I lived in a really dark and depressing upstairs apartment in a rowhouse in South Philly and it was maybe the hottest, most humid summer ever.

Finally in September I called about a listing posted on the college job boards. It was a temporary job doing assembly at a small holographic company on North Delaware Avenue. I worked there for about 2 weeks, along side a guy named Mike (his favorite band was Toto and he had the best mullet ever) assembling holographic calculators that were to be shipped off to The Sharper Image catalog. A guy named Paul supervised us and there were two other guys, Mike and Bob who were partners in the company. Mike handled sales and marketing and Bob did the graphics. They were all very nice and a lot of fun to work with and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. During the few weeks I was there I kept hearing about Doug, who was out in Utah but I never did meet him while I did the assembly work. About a week or so after that job ended, I got a call from Paul who said that they were looking for a secretary, a permanent position, and wondered if I could come in and talk to the owner, Doug. I was pretty sure that I would be a terrible secretary and that that kind of job was totally beneath me, but I also was desperate for some income and so I said yes.

Holographic Design was located in a beautiful loft space in a converted warehouse space. Across from the building was a sauerkraut factory that emitted the most disgusting smells in the summer. Open vats of sauerkraut we often sitting on the street in front of the door to the loft and oh my god, the flies! Neither of us can eat sauerkraut to this day. When I went in for the interview I recall walking up the steps to the reception desk, idly wondering if he might be someone that I might like (as in like, like), where Doug was talking on the phone. However when I saw him he didn't seem my type, as I usually preferred guys who were jerks, and I could tell right away that he was nice. He seemed too old (um, 31, practically ancient, heh) and maybe kind of square. So I forgot about all of that silliness and we talked for awhile. He asked me if I could start the next day and I said ok. Later on he said he felt like there was something going on between us during the interview and that he was flirting with me. I have since learned that he is terrible at flirting, which makes it all the more cute when he tries it.

Anyway, I started to work there and I really enjoyed it. Turns out I was pretty good at answering the phones and handling customers and I learned to use their newfangled Mac Classic computer. And within a few days I realized that I really liked Doug, that he was totally my type and that he was the guy for me. I didn't know much about his personal life, other than that he lived upstairs from the office and that he seemed to work all of the time. One of his partners was married and the other was getting married, so I just assumed that Doug must have a girlfriend or something and I recall that I didn't want to know, because I would be devastated to have to keep working there and see him getting married. I remember sitting at the bar at McGlinchey's one night, pouring out my sob story to a friend of mine, that I was in love with my boss and surely he has a girlfriend, waaaaaa. But I got the real scoop soon enough. I was invited to go out for drinks with everyone after work on Doug's birthday, October 10, which was about 2 weeks after I began working there. We all went to the bar at Society Hill Hotel and during the course of the evening I found out that he was unattached. My crush spiraled out of control! Doug went off to have dinner with his father and I went home feeling incredibly giddy. On that evening I had picked up a few vibes from him and anything seemed possible.

Over the next few weeks we hung out a bit after work, often along with some of his friends, and it was all very casual. I showed him my work and he seemed very impressed, and I learned that he had a BFA in Photography and sculpture from Tyler, so I was impressed. I guess I knew he was interested in me but I wasn't really sure until we went to a Halloween party at the photographer's loft next door. It was a costume party and everybody was fabulously dressed, but I did not wear a costume, other than my usual all black of course. Doug felt he had to dress up somehow, he was wearing a red shirt and a brown tweed coat and then he strapped a big round Fresnel lens to his face, which made his face look HUGE. He looked like a complete idiot! At one point during the evening he put his arm around me, bumped my head with the lens and that was it. I finally knew for sure that he liked liked me.

As we began to get closer we kept it quiet. None of my friends, including Cecily, thought Doug and I were right for each other. And eventually his partners found out about our relationship. That went ok at first, I don't think anyone thought it would last and it was excellent office gossip fodder, but after awhile things got a bit difficult and Doug's friend/lawyer began to give him grief about what a bad idea it was to date an employee. I didn't handle the situation very well with his partners either (I was only 23, and very stupid!) and was much less sensitive than I could have been. In 1990 or so, Doug decided to partner up with another group, which involved a move to Connecticut. Mike and Bob didn't want to relocate so they left the company and found work elsewhere. Doug asked me to go along with him and I joined him there after a few months. We rented a big, old beautiful house in Milford, CT and in 1993, five years after we met, we got married in the living room of that house by a justice of the peace. There have been a few bumps and a near divorce, but mostly our years together have been blissfully happy, despite our scandalous beginning!

I love you Doug, happy birthday, oh and thanks for hiring me for the secretary job, starting salary 10,000.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Early Red, 2007, Oil on Panel, 24x36

So the trip to Atlanta was great! Well, except for the traveling part. I had to meet Doug in NYC so after the kids got onto the school bus, I drove 2 hours to Hudson, and took the train into Penn station. Doug was waiting for me there and since we were running late we decided to take a taxi to the airport. It wasn't the worst cab ride I have ever had, but it was close and I kept my eyes closed during most of it! We got on the plane, which then sat on the runway for over an hour. Arrgh! The flight attendant gave everyone extra peanuts at snack time and so we all felt better after that. Heh. But the actual flight was fine, as was the next cab ride to the hotel. I didn't have to close my eyes during that one. And the trip back home was nearly the same, but in reverse. Instead of the cab ride in NYC city though, we took an air train to another train in order to get back to Penn Station. And from there we had a few hours until we had to catch the train to Hudson, so we took the subway down to Soho, where we checked in on Doug's showroom, visited Multiple Impressions and then we walked over to Arcadia to check out the paintings there. I believe that the only mode of transportation we missed in those three days was a boat and the space shuttle.


We arrived in Atlanta kind of late on Thursday and so we had room service and went to bed early. The next day we got up and walked to the nearby mall. Doug needed a few things and so we wandered around, had lunch, shopped and looked at some paintings in a mall gallery by Paul Stanley from the band KISS. We didn't like them but the girl working there assured us that his work was very sought after. Hmmmm. Okay.

We then walked down to Twinhouse Gallery so that I could say hi before the actual opening. Our hotel was only a bit over a mile down the street, however it turns out that Atlanta is not exactly conducive to walking. Plus it was hot and very muggy and so we were pretty icky by the time we got there. What a first impression I must have made!

Later on we arrived at the opening around 7pm and it was in full swing. In fact it was packed. The show looked awesome and it was pretty cool to see one of my paintings (Early Red, above) hanging in the front window! We wandered around a bit and then Neil and Karen came up and introduced themselves. We all immediately hit it off I'd say, and Doug and I spent most of the evening talking to them, in addition to several of the other artists and other visitors. I spoke with a woman who wanted to buy one of my paintings for her husband, plus I met a number of others who admired my work. So that was nice. After the opening ended at 9pm, we went to the pizza place next door with Karen and Neil to chat some more. We all have so much in common and I can't believe how wonderful it was to talk with people who do what I do, paint, and try to navigate through the business side of art as well. I miss that in my real life at home. We finally left at 1:30am! I can't even remember the last time I was out that late. They gave us a ride back to the hotel (thanks again!) and collapsed. I think we are getting old.

The next morning we met with Susan, the gallery owner and she took us to breakfast where we had a classic southern meal, eggs with cheese, grits, hash browns, toast, and lots of fat and grease. She gave us a quick tour of Atlanta that left us wishing that we had could have at least another day there, and then took us to the airport in plenty of time for us to make our flight. It was nice to get to know her better though and I really have to thank both Susan and the director, Tiffany, for their hospitality.

I am so glad that we went on this trip. It was important for me to attend this show, meet everyone and become familiar with this particular gallery's dynamic. And getting to know Neil and Karen was just the best. Since Neil has now admitted his part publicly in getting me into this gallery, I want to sincerely thank him for that. Thank you Neil! I have met such lovely people here in art blogland.

We are home now, and getting back into the swing of things. Thanks to our good friend and super nanny, Mary Jo, our kids had a great time while we were gone and probably didn't even miss us.

Oh yeah, I forgot to take my camera to the opening so I have exactly zero pictures of the event, the art or my painting in the front window. Typical.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

To Atlanta

Contrasts, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

I am feeling rather hectic today as I have about a million things to do. Don't worry I won't list them. I am leaving for Atlanta tomorrow, in order to attend a group show gallery reception at Twinhouse Gallery. I was going be taking this trip alone, but Doug will be coming along after all, so this will be more fun. And I already expected this to be a good time. The gallery owner and director have been so nice and friendly to work with, plus I have heard through the gallery grapevine that Neil and Karen Hollingsworth plan on coming to the opening so I look forward to meeting them. Oops, I hope I have not said too much, it can be so easy to jinx an event like this. Heh.

And this morning while I was loading the washing machine, it occurred to me that this will be the first gallery opening for a show that I am included in, that is in a gallery in a large city. While I have had a number of solo and group shows in the last three years, those galleries have all been located in either small towns or tourist areas like Cape Cod and with just a few exceptions, their openings were not usually jam-packed. So yet another first for me in all of this. Should be interesting!

I will give a full report on Monday.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Google Searches 2

Fall in the Air, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

For some reason my stats have risen quite a bit lately. Some of the hits are coming from other blogs and repeat visitors have also increased, which is very nice. And it seems like a few people have recently "found" me and are reading through the archives (very flattering). But many of the unique visitors come to me by way of searches and there have been some really good ones lately.

-squeeze down by tracey
This one made me kind of nervous, so I never did check why they ended up here. I do take comfort in the fact that my name is spelled incorrectly, so it's probably not someone actually looking for me.

-where does the seam go on a girl scout sash
I suppose I mentioned that I mistakenly sewed patches onto my daughter sash, and the sash was upside down, with the seam at the top. Sheesh! I take comfort here too that another mother was also confused.

-tracy the male model
This one left me speechless. And a little creeped out.

-how to become a working artist without a degree
I imagine this one came to me because of the working artist phrase in my profile. However, maybe it's a good time to let y'all know that I never did actually get my BFA. A combination of a nasty department head, excessive student loan debt and NO. MORE. MONEY. EVER. kept me from going back to get those last twelve credits. One lousy semester. However, UArts seems to think that I am a graduate since they keep sending me desperate requests for donations!

-pastel sketches of syringes
This one made me a bit nervous too. I can't imagine that ever being a topic here, so hopefully it was just the word pastel.

And of course the ever popular hits leading to a few posts I wrote about my son's dead hamster last year. These are always good, yet disturbing as well. America's hamster population clearly has some health issues.

-hamster lump chest
-how to cut hamsters teeth with clippers
-hamster bleeding mouth
-growth on hamster lip
-limp hamster
-bumps on hamster back

I wish I could help these poor people and their hamsters but I am afraid that I have no information about these conditions. I can describe how to cut a hamster's teeth though if anyone needs to know. Really, it's one of my many skills. Read here about it. That post could be the best description of my present lifestyle ever, by the way. It pretty much covers everything.

PS See Google Searches (#1) for more good searches.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Barn Talk

The Clearing, 2007, Oil on Panel, 24x24

Since my mother died last August, I have been lucky enough to get back in contact with several members of our extended family. We have all had some lovely communications about our family members and shared past and it has been very comforting to me. Turns out this blog has been a good way to connect and to stay connected.

One of my mom's cousins, often emails me to remark on something I have written here. Judy married my grandmother's brother's son, which makes us cousins twice removed with with some kind of lemon twist. Heh. My grandmother used to have a great understanding of the intricacies all of those relationships; to me we are all just cousins. Jim and Judy live on the same family farm in Ohio that my grandmother grew up on in the early 1900's, along with her three sisters and brother. When I was young, I loved to hear the stories of their childhood and their life on the farm (I should have paid more attention to the farm part!). Their lives were incredibly difficult on a daily basis but they all grew up to be very strong and educated adults and knowing that part of my family's history helped ground me when I pitied myself and my own disrupted childhood. My mother, sister and I traveled to Ohio quite often in the late seventies and visiting the farm was fascinating. I loved to imagine the events that my grandmother had described and to envision where they must have taken place in the house, barns and land. I was envious that I couldn't live in a place that I felt so connected to through my grandmother's stories. Perhaps that is why things feel right for me now, here on this farm.

But I digress. Judy recently sent me an email which was quite possibly the best compliment anyone, but especially her, could have given me. It read:

I enjoy your paintings, but being surrounded by old barns, I just marvel at your love of painting barns. I have been looking at my old dilapidated barns, trying to find what kind of inspiration you get in painting these barns.

Jim keeps fixing and slapping paint on these old barns every summer. I'm sure he probably has that same feeling about barns that you do, of course in a different way. You certainly paint beautiful pictures, and I must say, I look at barns a little differently. I even notice barns I never noticed in the neighborhood before.

To have any kind of influence whatsoever on how a person sees a barn, especially a person who has been around them nearly all her life, is just the most incredible feeling ever. Inspiring others is not what I have intended with my barns but is instead one of the loveliest and most meaningful surprises that I could have as a painter. Those surprises don't come everyday, but when they do, wow!

And after I thanked Judy for such a compliment I did what any pragmatist would do, I told her that I would LOVE a few photographs of those barns to use as reference. I am always looking for good barn references.