Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Endings (and back to cleaning the house)


Sorry for my absence-they have been keeping up really busy this last week with events each evening. So between those, visiting artists, doing laundry (shoulda packed more undies) and trying to get in as much painting as possible by Wednesday (so the paintings will be dry to pack up) I have been a busy bee.

This has been an amazing experience and while it seems like I have been here for months, the time has also flown by in the blink of an eye. Funny how that works. I have met some really wonderful people and in a twist that recalls the intense relationships that can so quickly form in college, more than a few secrets have been shared between many of us.

On Wednesday there will be another Open Studio night, then we pack and clean up on Thursday and leave Friday morning. I can't wait to get home and see my family, but I am very sad to leave this perfect and pampered art life here. Hard to believe that I will cooking and cleaning and scooping the cat litter in just a few days, but it's true. I am sure Doug will be needing a break!

I will be back here on Monday and will begin a series of more detailed posts about my time here. WITH pictures. I should have my new computer set up by then (don't get me started on how irritated I am about THAT).

Friday, February 22, 2008

Odds and Ends

Well, we are entering the home stretch here. I have been working a lot of hours in my studio, since I found my groove with the figures. I have taken many work in progress photos and I want to talk about it all, but I think it may have to wait until I get home. There are many events in the coming week and between those and savoring my remaining carefree studio hours, I am not wanting to sit down and write it all up quite yet.

One thing I'd like to mention about the figurative work though is how much fun I have had taking pictures of many of my fellow residents for use as reference in future paintings. I felt really awkward about it at first but I asked Amanda (my studio neighbor) first and her pictures turned out great so I kept asking others to come to my studio so I could photograph them. Everyone has been really excited about it and in exchange I am offering them a small study of their image when I get to it. Um, which could be in years rather than weeks.

And I did do a rather kick ass barn in the last few days. I had brought a large panel along and after realizing that I wouldn't be using it for any of the figures, I decided to do a barn, based on a photo I took a few weeks ago up here. The snow scene turned into a nice summer setting and can I just say what a pleasure it was to work on a large panel without having to move everything around first? I need me a new studio at home.

Also on Wednesday night, my jpegs were shown at the resident slide night. I was incredibly nervous about speaking about my work in front of so many people (standing in the back of the room, in the dark helped), but it actually went pretty well and many people commented on how much they liked my work AND how well I speak publicly (don't let that get around). It was just my usual gallery reception spiel, the one I am used to doing in front of only a few people at a time.

Anyway, I can feel that it is time to go home soon-I am having thoughts of what re-entry might be like and of getting back to my plain old life.

But for tonight there is still art. I am off to a presentation by Carole Robb, and then off to a party at one of the houses. It will be an early night though as I have my studio visit with Carole at 8:30am tomorrow morning. Those who knew me in my past, younger life would be shocked to hear about my non-partying reputation here. Heh. I am planning to be in bed by 11pm and even that may be too late.

More in a few days.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Poetry in Motion

Like I said in a previous post I am not a poetry kind of girl. However, once in awhile I get it and this piece by Seth Tanner really got to me. He read it at a recent writer's reading night and was kind enough to let me read it afterwards (I am a visual person and needed to see the words) and then gave his permission for me to post it. Seth is my housemate and is the only person in the house who gets up earlier in the morning than I do. We often eat breakfast together and I like him very much. He is very funny, thoughtful and endearingly self-effacing. He also has quite a story as you may gather from this writing.

Time Won’t Heal This Wound

My shins split open wide when I fell on steel diving board stairs. The emergency room doctor couldn’t stitch me. He sewed me up like an eighty-year-old widower patching a hole in his pocket, then hinted at skin grafts. Three weeks later my father pulled out the black, bristly thread. At times it burned; at times it tickled, depending on the force he used.

I flew through the air over handlebars, bounced off the side of a Yellow Cab, defied the laws of Earth and landed on asphalt. I scrambled to my feet searching for my bike before I knew that I had cracked my T-12 vertebra, that pain could be felt beyond the boundaries of my skin.

You were traveling in Mexico when I lost the last hint of your scent on my pillow. Numbness is a feeling beyond which no language can describe. I found refuge in needles, in the arms of other men. Awake for weeks I dreamed with my eyes open. My heart blistered from the impossible pace. I raced to forget you.

To forget meant erasing part of myself. I didn’t realize you were attached to every story and memory. With twice-daily injections I waged chemical war, falling as the first casualty. Surgeons cut me open to suction out rotting flesh, they packed me with gauze soaked in sterile saline, inserted a line dripping with Vancomycin directly into my heart.

Each injury healed over weeks or months. I have shiny skin, a bony protrusion, and puckered flesh to prove it. But with five years and three thousand miles to separate us, I can not pack or sew our wound.

copyright 2008 Seth Tanner

Monday, February 18, 2008

Studio Shots

Well, I went to unplug the computer and it began to work, so I thought I'd get these images up while I can.

These are photos taken of my studio right before Open Studios began last Friday night. I put up everything I have done here. I hate having blank walls! And after having a day of feeling that my work is very trivial (much of the work that the artists do here has so much content, while mine is more about observation and my response to it, meaning that I do landscapes, still lifes, and now portraits, in a fairly straightforward manner) I decided to embrace my "barn ness" and on Friday afternoon I did the underpainting of a nearby barn that is displayed on my easel. What the heck! Also, in this shot you can see part of a large still life I am working on. It's on canvas, stapled to the wall and I have to say that I am really enjoying working like that. I wish I had wall space at home. Anyway, it's a piece that I started when I was floundering with the figures, because I wanted to keep working on something, anything.

The rest of these are long shots of the portraits I have been working on. I will post better shots soon. I also want to talk more about what I am doing with the figures and will try to do that sometime this week. I am really cooking with some figure paintings right now!

Family Visit

Well, Doug and the kids arrived on Saturday afternoon. Of course I was looking forward to seeing them, but during the previous week I was feeling unsure about whether they should visit or not. I felt really odd about having my life here intertwine with my real life. And in fact I had a hard time keeping pace with everyone the first night especially. It's hard to explain but somehow being with my family, and NOT being back at the Studio Center felt very surreal. After talking to a number of the other residents, I found that nearly everyone has the same feelings of disconnect and readjustment when they leave here. There is something about this place that really grabs you......

But anyway. When they got here on Saturday, I showed them my studio and Doug was able to take a good look at what I have done here, and later on we talked about all of it, which was really helpful to me. We walked around a bit and I showed them my house and bedroom, the dining hall, and we visited my friend Val's (sculpture) studio. She wasn't there but had said we could go on in, as I thought my kids would like her work. And they did. We also saw Amanda's studio and Rachel's next door to mine. Unfortunately, things were kind of quiet so they didn't get to meet too many of the other artists.

Doug had gotten us two of the worst hotel rooms ever in Burlington (I won't go into the details, but let's just say that the badness included all five senses) and on Sunday we drove to Stowe to spend the day there. We had lunch, browsed in the shops and then decided to look for a room there, instead of going back to Burlington to the new hotel I insisted on switching to (we had all our stuff with us). It just so happened to be the busiest weekend of the year in Stowe, but we lucked out and after paying about a million dollars, we were able to get a chalet (above) for one night. It was a very odd place, very Austrian with dark wood and decorated in brown and orange, but it was clean, had two bathrooms and there was a bedroom for everyone, plus a hot tub out in the snow. Oh and on our way to check in, we made a quick detour to visit the Trapp Famliy Lodge. I enjoyed this because "The Sound of Music" has always been one of my favorite movies and I really enjoyed reading the autobiography of the real Maria von Trapp. The kids weren't quite so impressed, alas, but we did get a good picture of them with the beautiful mountains in the background.

We headed back to the "commune" this morning and I have to say that it was very strange when they drove off leaving me here, in a place I feel so connected to now, yet is not my home. I holed up in my studio working for an hour or so and then felt much better after talking to so many of my new friends over lunch.

I worked all afternoon and will skip watching Casablanca in the lounge tonight in order to work a bit more in my studio. I am pursuing a direction with the figurative work that I am finding very interesting so far and since there are only ten days left here, I want to really make some progress on those.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Party Pictures

At breakfast on Valentine's Day, I was chatting with a couple of ladies who have also been married to their husbands for quite awhile. We were laughing about how unlikely it would be for us to get anything on this holiday. Once in awhile Doug and I exchange small gifts for Valentine's but it is erratic and frankly, has fallen a bit on both of our lists of things to do. I hadn't even considered sending anything to Doug this year, mostly because the thought of getting something together AND shipped out while here seemed completely overwhelming.

At lunch I was standing in line and noticed that there were many more packages than usual (there is a shelf in the dining hall for incoming mail for the residents) in addition to a large flower arrangement. I smirked to myself about the poor girl getting that tacky gift; beautfiul flowers wrapped in all kinds of shiny frou-frou, tissue papers, cellophane, and ribbons imprinted with shiny gold hearts, blech. As I was getting my food, Becky (writer) from Madison, WI tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I knew those were my flowers! I went to check and sure enough they were for me (from Doug, duh). Who got the flowers was a pretty exciting event that day, and since Doug is already looking pretty good for taking over the household for a month while I play with my paints, this sealed his reputation as a good guy. Although, Nick (writer) from Florida pointed out that he was probably just "marking his territory". Much laughter at lunch that day.

Anyway, I am posting just a few of the pictures from the dance that we went to that night. My dear hubby got my overly sensitive laptop up and running again for me. What a guy!

From left: Erica (painter) from Saratoga Springs, NY, Seth (writer) from Talledega, Alabama, Amanda (painter, her studio is directly across from mine and she is the girl I went to the hardware store with on the first day here) from South Carolina, and Lucy (painter) from Ireland.

Me and David Grozinsky-before he changed into a very snappy black western style shirt with colorfully embroidered flowers all over the front.

Nancy (painter) from Texas has the floor!

Ron (writer) from Chicago. Ron is one of my housemates and is very sweet and funny. And maybe just a little drunk here given that he is wearing a pink petticoat and dancing with Nick (see next photo).

PS. Doug and I had a good laugh about how the flowers were all dressed up. He also hates all the crap that flower shops tend to add to an already beautiful group of flowers.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Already there have been several visiting artists here at the Studio Center. The first one was writer and poet Dave King. He gave a reading from his book "The Ha-Ha" as well as two poems. Frankly I am not much of a poetry kind of girl, but I liked the excerpt from his book and bought a copy afterwards, which he signed. He came to writing rather late after a ten year sojourn as a painter in NYC, followed by a successful business which he sold and then a degree from Columbia in writing. He spent nearly two weeks here, mostly working with the writers, but I was able to chat with him at a few meals and he made time to visit a number of the artist's studios, including mine. Oh and I bailed out on Night Studio to start his book. I liked Night Studio but since I arrived here I had trouble keeping with it-too much art talk maybe? Anyway, I am liking The Ha-Ha, although I am not having much time to read.

On Monday evening, painter Julian Hatton gave a slide presentation of his work. I had been aware of his work for awhile and was very happy to find out that he would be a visiting artist during my time here. His talk was very interesting and I enjoyed hearing how his work has progressed over the years. And I almost fell over when he mentioned his home near Oneonta NY, which is just 45 minutes from where we live small world. (Further conversation in the dining hall the next day revealed that he has a place in NY that is literally around the corner from Doug's showroom in Soho. We had a good laugh over the coincidence of being dual neighbors.)

On Tuesday, he visited my studio where we spent most of the time talking about the paintings that I felt were the most unsuccessful. Great. The figures, of course, were the ones I was unhappy with and he agreed. Great, again. We took the elements apart though and discussed the various directions that I could take them. And after he left I was completely confused about what to do next and so I frittered away the rest of the day doing nothing productive at all. Later on after dinner, we talked again and he clarified a few points that he had made during the crit which was helpful, and he also gave me some information about applying for a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, which is on my list of things to do when I get home. And the next morning I woke up with the a clearer head about the direction of the figures and got back to work on them. Julian was here this past week and I have enjoyed talking with him further. There is much socializing at meals! Anyway, he will be having a solo show at Elizabeth Harris, opening March 13. I might try to go if I can manage to take another trip so soon after getting back home.

And the sculptor, John Monti gave his presentation on Tuesday. I liked much of his earlier work, which were wood forms and then later on he did these huge concrete forms which I also really liked. Lately he has been doing brightly colored plastic forms, and while I don't care for those much, I do appreciate the progression he has made. John visited my studio this morning and most of his opinions were quite the opposite of Julian's. He thought that the figures had a lot going on and that many of the elements were working. He did say that he thought my technique was getting in the way and that my paintings (meaning the landscapes) looked too "polished" and we debated that issue for a bit. I see his point, I guess, but while I do think that my landscapes are quite developed, I haven't really considered them to be polished. Mostly because I still really love my process, and am still challenged by each painting, by the subject matter as well as the technique. Anyway, he was very encouraging about the figures, especially the ones I had pursued since my meeting with Julian, so I was able to get right back to work without any sort of angst. Heh.

Good thing too, because I was fading fast this morning. The very social David Grozinsky invited everyone to a wonderful Valentine's party in some little town a few miles away. There was a great band and petticoats for all of the girls, well and for a few of the boys too. Since I don't drink anymore, I don't dance anymore, so I filled the memory card in my camera with amazing photos of the swirling skirts and the bright lights. After we left the party, around 11pm it continued on at the resident's lounge and before I knew it, it was almost 2am! I am way too old for all of that it seems. I had to get up early for my meeting with John Monti and I was really hurting. Sheesh! I took a nap before dinner and will try to get back on a better sleep schedule, kinda tough though with a house full of kids that I clearly cannot keep up with!

Doug and the kids are coming up tomorrow and while of course I will be glad to see everyone, I am feeling oddly put out by the intrusion of my family life into my life here. It will be fun though and I suspect we will be doing a few touristy things for the next few days. I will try and post on Monday evening.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Frustration and Fun

I am getting a bit mixed up on the days here, so I guess I will drop the day by day thing. Each day has been filled with a lovely mixture of routine (mealtimes and studio time) and special events (visiting artists and readings by the writing residents) but I am lucky if I know the day of the week, let alone the date.

My laptop computer has pretty much died here. As well as my cell phone, so along with my home computer dying (it was the logic board, whatever the heck that is, and replacing it costs almost as much as a new computer so I am getting a new computer I guess) last month, I am pretty sure that I must have some sort of negative magnetic aura surrounding me. Heh. Anyway, I will try to post when I can, but I am at the mercy of the availability of the two public computers in the resident's lounge. And I haven't yet established whether or not I can download photos. But I will keep taking them and post them when I get back home and get my new computer all set up.

Ok, update on the figures. I am struggling. The underpaintings that I posted a few days ago have mostly crashed and burned at the color stage. They are unfinished because I feel so unenthusiastic about working on them and I have spent most of my time lately avoiding them. Once in awhile someone comes in and says they really have some promise and so I try again, but mostly they suck. I have a few theories on why they aren't working, but I guess mostly I have found that I have to find a different way to handle paint when painting the figure as opposed to the landscape. However, they do each have a few redeeming elements and I have spent some time starting a few small figures by doing a drawing with sanguine pastel pencil (to get the detail), coating it with matte medium and then starting with the glazes. Those are in progress and I am interested in them so far. In the meantime, I did a bunch of small still lifes (plan b in case I became so irritated by the figures that I would flounder and waste time. which I did). I liked the still lifes, but they are more "rigid" and more precise then I usually prefer. I think it's because I worked from life. When I have the subject matter directly in front of me I tend to become more concerned with perfectly rendering the object rather than interpreting it, which is what I am able to do when using photos as reference. Should be the other way around so go figure. I have done the first layer of color on those, but have some ideas about how to soften them when I work on them tomorrow.

I also did a still life which included some beautiful red tulips yesterday afternoon on a primed piece of linen, about 38x32 or so, stapled directly to the wall of my studio. I thoroughly enjoyed doing it and was still feeling giddy when I went to dinner. It is maybe too rigid as well, but I can paint more loosely to compensate when I get to that stage.

I have had many people in my studio visiting and while the feedback on my work is wonderful, I am having some difficulty wading through the conflicting comments. I forgot about all that from art school! About half like the faceless faces and half don't. They are only faceless, because I couldn't get any of the detail in in the underpainting so planned to do that at the color stage. Not sure though that faceless is a direction that seems right for me and my people.

We have had two visiting artists, and one writer. I have been able to get to talk to of them at length (one just arrived tonight; he will visit my studio Friday morning) but I think I will write more about that next time. I'd like to discuss the studio visits as well as put up their links and I am too tired to do that tonight. I should go to bed but I suspect I might end up chatting with some of my house mates. I am enjoying that part of being here too!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Letters From Home

Had a nice long day!
Was up at 6:00 Dropped J. at the school for his camping trip. I
should tell you I got to feeling guilty about his 20 degree bag. They
forecast the teens. So last night after dropping J. at the dance
and G. at a sleep over, S., K. and I went to Walmart and
got him a zero degree bag, and some new wiper blades for me. So today
he was all ready! Then I took S. to the swim meet. She had a good
meet. I should tell you about her music challenge from Friday. Well
S. is now the "First Chair" in clarinet. I guess she blew out K. then
D... She is feeling very good about it all. She spent every night
this week practicing. Anyway she swam well had fun. Everyone I saw at
the meet was wondering how you were doing. I told them you were
loving it and working on some new stuff. I spoke to B (friend) about
Sheep. He described the 10 lambs he got last summer (lots of chops).
He kept telling me how easy they were then he would talk about the
sheering, the vet, the butcher in Hartwick. lambing, fences, Coyotes,
keeping the water from freezing, burdock, finding hay.... Then it
was off to pick up G. who spent the night at E. (friend's) house.
While we were at the meet she and her friend went to the Winterfest. I
caught up with her at the pie eating contest (she didn't enter). Then
we picked up K. at the Great American because Judy had a 2:00pm
appointment with a masseuse on Railroad Ave. We then went in to the
Great American and got some groceries. Then to the video store where
I let everyone pick a movie. Sophie got Forest Gump, Kurtis got
Resident Evil Part III, G. wanted some movie that was out so it
was off to the Fly Creek General Store (didn't want to hear her cry)
to try and find her movie. Well by some stroke of luck they had it.
Then the ride home. It was snowing like mad! We got home to find two
cords of firewood dumped on the drive. So K. and I loaded it into
the garage and stacked it. Then I remembered I had not said my hello
the chickens yet. So it was out to see the chickens. 13 eggs! Then
back in the house in time to catch up with Javier (employee at the showroom in NYC) who is suffering
from food poisoning and didn't open the store today. Well I am OK
with that. then it was time to make dinner.... That reminds me, I
haven't gotten the mail yet.

So how do you do this? Anyway I am going to watch my movie Eastern
Promises and pass out!


PS: How are you?

And from my 12 year old son:

No, i have not been cooking, yes the dance was fun, and yes i improved my grades (even though intelligence should not be measured by how you do academically)

Friday, February 8, 2008


First I have to ask, what the heck is going on out there? I just checked my stats and daily unique visitors have doubled since I have been here in Vermont. Wow! Are my ramblings actually interesting? Huh. I feel like I should be a bit more entertaining now, but alas, I am too tired tonght.

Thursday, February 7: I went to the studio right after breakfast and puttered around until figure drawing class. I worked in black charcoal and really enjoyed that. I also focused a bit more on the model's face and am pleased with the results (the drawing looks better in person). Well, more or less anyway. After lunch (salad, cheese and the best crusty bread ever) I went back to my studio to put the color on the landscape and barn underpaintings that I did on Tuesday. They turned out ok, but I am not entirely happy with them. I am thinking my landscapes may need to be painted where they originate from? Maybe the hills, roads, fields and barns that surround my home and studio can only be best expressed there. A concept to ponder, I suppose.

Mid-afternoon, I took a walk with Karen and Stella, two women whose studios are in my building. They are both very nice and we all have much in common so there was much to talk about. And it was so nice to get outside and get some exercise. We got back to the studio and all went back to work until dinner, which was an American classic; meatloaf, baked potato, peas and carrots and a chocolate brownie for dessert. After, I checked my emails and then we walked over to the lecture hall to here a reading by visiting author Dave King. It was really enjoyable and I bought a copy of his book, which he signed for me. He was very nice to everyone, asking questions about what we do, where we live etc. I went back to the studio, did a quick glaze on the figure underpaintings and then went back to my house, fully intending to go to bed early. However, when I got there, a bunch of the other residents were in the front room talking, so I grabbed my knitting and joined them. A few other girls got their knitting and even though nearly everyone was practically a different generation than myself, I really enjoyed the evening. They are all very funny, smart and creative, so much so that before I knew it, it was almost midnight, way past my bedtime. I decided not to set my alarm and to sleep in but I woke promptly at 6am anyway.

Friday, February 8: Off to breakfast, which was oatmeal today. The breakfast alternates each day, either oatmeal or scrambled eggs and bacon. There is also always a variety of bread, yogurt and fruit available. I spent the morning preparing a piece of canvas, so that I could work on it on the wall. It turned out very badly, all wrinkly and poorly stretched, so I have to fix it tomorrow (um, just one of the reasons I don't like canvas-stretching it!). Lunch, (the visiting author wisely situated himself at our table, full of pretty painters, including moi, heh, and he was good lunch company) and then right back to the the studio. Sensing a pattern here? I spent the afternoon putting color down on two of the figure paintings and I have to say that I am not very pleased with them at all. In fact I was pretty frustrated. I went outside to take a break and bumped into a girl named Val, who came in and looked at them. She had some good suggestions, then we decided to take a walk down to the post office so she could do a few errands and so I could take a break. When I got back the good daylight was gone so I wasn't able to take any pictures of the paintings. I will take them tomorrow and when I post next time I will describe what is going on. And what isn't.

After dinner (do it yourself burritos and banana chocolate chip cake for dessert) I went to see Val's project in her sculpture studio (which I will post pictures of when she'll allow) and we talked about it for quite awhile. I am happy to find that I can still actually talk about art when I see it and I am feeling really good about expressing myself here, even about installation art, something I often have trouble connecting with.

Anyway, despite my frustrations today, I am bursting with enjoyment about being here. I love my routine, I love my new friends, I love my temporary studio and I love the whole atmosphere. I even love being so tired that I can hardly get to my house that is just next door to the studio. I am definitely coming here again.

Hear that Doug?! Let's just plan on this being a yearly thing.....

PS. I will post more info about the other artists who are here soon, along with links. Some of them kick butt!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


First I am posting the figure drawings that I have done in the last three days. They are done with either black or sanguine conte and the last two are oil, done in the reductive manner that I do my underpaintings. Those were a lot fun, but I am very aware that all of them have "issues", especially the male (head, hands, and maybe even the penis) but it does capture the models pose quite well.

I had a great night's sleep finally, only woke up once in the night! Today I planned to do some more drawings and then maybe start doing some small underpaintings of the figures. However, I woke up thinking that I should just go ahead and do them on the larger birch panels. So this morning after breakfast I went right to the studio. When I got there, though, I decided to rearrange things a bit so I spent some time doing that. I don't really care for the easel (it's wobbly) or the stool (it's wobbly too). I considered hanging the panels on the wall and working that way, but I decided to make do with the easel, although I lowered it and used the plastic lawn chair that comes with each studio. Anyway, I set up my little painting area and it feels pretty comfortable, finally. I did four underpaintings, which are all shown below. Be gentle with me, I don't usually like to post works in progress, especially when I am feeling my way through them, but I fiigure what the heck. It's not like this stuff is really that important in the scheme of things and I promise admit it if they fail during the next stage.

I finished them up and found that it's true-if you don't get to lunch on time, some of the food is gone. So I had a nice salad and a few slices of cheese and went back to the studio. I looked at the underpaintings and realized that they were too dark, so I lightened them up. I went to figure drawing about an hour late and did one decent drawing, of the male, above. There are a few problems with it (face and hands, legs, and maybe even the penis) but it does capture the pose he had.

I took a good walk outside right before dinner, which felt really good and then, OMG dinner! It was some sort of hybrid middle eastern food, one dish had eggplant, chickpeas, and potatoes there was a cauliflower dish, and the best asparagus ever (yes I know, totally not seasonal), hummus, pita chips, crusty bread. And dessert was lemon poppy seed cake. We all rolled out of the dining room after.

I am totally getting into the social thing now. I feel comfortable enough to introduce myself to someone I don't know and then go on to ask the four most common questions here: Where are you from? Painter, writer, sculptor? Which house are you in? Which building is your studio in?

And this evening we were supposed to see slides of some of the artists here, but guess what, no one submitted any. Seems no one has slides anymore. We will be having a jpeg night next week instead. I have spent this evening sitting in the lounge chatting (with a few other women and now a sculptor, Greg, from Brooklyn), listening to the news and trying to get my ancient laptop up and running.

PS. Sorry for the crappy photos. I didn't bring my really good camera, and the oil figure sketches put up quite a glare, so I shot them at an angle.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Settling In

Well, I have been very busy the last few days. Bear with me while I track most of what I do each day. I want to record what I am doing here for me, as well as for any of you who may be interested.

Monday February 4th: I woke up at 5:30, took a shower and then did a little knitting. Wow! I never do that in the morning. Went to have breakfast and then there was a meeting for all of the painters to discuss the studio rules, etc. Then I went back to my studio and finished unpacking and arranging my supplies. I decided to do a few quick underpaintings before lunch, just to warm up. My usual work, one landscape, one barn image. Had lunch then went to the first figure drawing session. The model was wonderful, and I did a nice drawing in sanguine conte. (I will post the figure drawings in a few days) Then I left early to go to the hardware store with the girl whose studio is across the hall from mine. I think I can safely call her a girl, because she is only 23, and technically I could be her mother. But we hit it off and even took a walk later to check out the health food store. Anyway, before dinner I sat down at my table and did some pencil drawings, (using the vintage family photos I bought on ebay as reference) and I feel like I began to work out some ideas that I have about incorporating the figures into my work. Also, it was incredibly pleasurable to just sit and draw. I can't even remember the last time I did that.

After dinner (stuffed chicken breast, roasted potatoes and a salad) I went and worked in the studio for a few more hours, called home and talked to the family, then went to the lounge to check my emails. The ancient laptop I am using conked out before I could write a post, so I went back to my room, knitted, then read about a paragraph in my book before passing out.

Tuesday, 5th. Woke up at 4am, aarrrgh, could have used at least another hour. Went to breakfast and then on to Figure drawing where there was another great model. I did a drawing, then pulled out the paint and did two underpaintings. They were only half hour poses, so there are some funky areas that I didn't get too. But overall I am pleased with them. I tried a third one but had very bad luck with the two different posed so I took the panel back to my studio and did and image based on one of the pencil drawings. Lunch (black bean soup, salad) and then I went to visit another artist's studio. I had talked with Nancy about stapling a big piece of canvas up on the wall and I asked if I could see what she did. I don't work on canvas so I needed some tips, especially about painting on unstretched canvas. We had a nice chat and then went to my studio and she gave me some really good feedback about what I was doing. I had been feeling uncomfortable about using photographic reference so much, but I also couldn't do what I want to do without it. She felt I was telling a story about the people in the photographs, but that it was my vision, despite using other people's photographs. So I did a few more drawings, took a short walk around outside then went back to the drawings again. Dinner and now I am sitting in the lounge and listening to the primary results.

I am beginning to feel more comfortable here, although I have been hit and miss with the meals, as far as sitting near someone to talk to, or someone at all. Mostly it's just my bad timing, either I come in too early and no one sits next to me or I come in late and there are no spots next to the people I know. Oh and very few people her have kids and so far, of the ones I know about, I hold the record for most offspring. So there you go.

More in a few days. Oh and Steven, so far my people do NOT look like barns. However, Doug's advice was to approach them in the same way that I approach the barns and that has been pretty effective, so far anyway. I have yet to do a real, full out color painting that includes the figure.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

First Day

My Studio.

First I have to say that as soon as I arrived here I had the most intense deja vu ever. I was pretty sure that I was back at ny first days of college. Um, but older and with bifocals this time. Thankfully it has subsided now but I have to say it was pretty freaky!

Ok. The drive went very smoothly (I heart mapquest) and although my car was acting suspiciously, the back end was significantly lower than the front end and I was convinced that it would collapse onto the back wheels, I made it here without incident.

When I got here a girl named Arista showed me where my room is, and then my studio, which is beautiful and big and freshly painted. I unloaded my things and then met up with Arista and about a dozen other residents and she took us on a tour. I think we all felt a bit awkward and no one talked to each other much, we were all just trying to get our bearings I suppose. However. this is where the deja vu kicked in-I was pretty sure that I had known some of the younger women from my college days, they seemed so familiar (the hair, the clothing, even the patchouli) but of course they were just babies then. Sigh. Anyway, it felt funny to be on the other side this time around, when really I still feel like one of them. Not sure if that makes sense.

I settled into my room and then went to the reception at the dining hall, where I stood around feeling like an idiot. I have gotten so used to people wanting to meet me at my openings and initiating the conversation, that I have seemingly lost my ability to just go up to someone I don't know and start talking. Actually I have never been all that great at that, but it was much easier when I a. drank alcohol, which I don't do anymore, and b. when I used to socialize more, which I also don't do anymore. Well except when it revolves around me. Heh.

At dinner I had the pleasure of sitting next to David Grozinsky. I was told by two people Steven LaRose and Tom Butter, a former teacher of mine at art school and who is frequently a visiting artist here) to find him, he works here, and I did find him at the salad bar. I had no trouble calling out to him that I know people that he knows (guess I just need a mission) and he was especially tickled to find out that I (sort of) know Steven. He invited me to sit next to him at dinner and we chatted a bit. Then I spoke to some of the other people at the table and everyone was very nice, of course. I look forward to getting to know everyone, there is such an interesting variety of residents here!

After dinner I puttered around in my studio and unpacked a few things and now I am off to bed. Tomorrow morning there is a meeting for the painters and I am totally excited about the figure drawing session in the afternoon!

So there you have it. A really big day in Tracyland. I will post in a few days, hopefully with some updates on new works.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Just a Song Before I Go...

Deep Shadow, 2008, Oil on Panel, 24x36

Well, finally, after months of anticipation it's here. I am leaving for the Vermont Studio Center tomorrow morning, hopefully by 8am, but it will probably be more like 9am.

The last week has passed in a blur of activity, packing, organizing, kid's activities, appointments and painting. I just finished up four large scale paintings that Doug will deliver to The Harrison Gallery next week. My show there went very well, not sure what the final sales count is yet, but they want new work for their inventory, so I guess that's a good sign!

Doug and I sat down and went over the kid's schedule and I gave him all of my best tips in handling it. He says he is going to "try some different things". I give his plan a week, before it all falls apart and he has to revert back to mine. Anyway, the kids all know that he will always be late picking them up, and I have given them instructions on how to make the next month easier on Daddy. Heh. Poor guy. I'd feel sorry for him, except for the fact that all through our marriage he has always traveled A LOT and left me alone for days and weeks with the kids. When my youngest was a baby (at that time we had three kids under the age of five) he went to China for almost three weeks. Anyway, it's taken awhile but I am now exacting my revenge......

My supplies are pretty much packed up and I will finish that up today, in addition to packing my personal things. At first I was worried that I was bringing too much stuff, but after getting it all together it doesn't seem terribly excessive. I have one medium plastic bin with supplies, another that holds my paints and brushes, my drawing tackle box, plus a stack of drawing pads and primed paper and canvas. I decided to take about a dozen panels, 18x24 and smaller and then one large one for fun. I think I will do a lot of work on the primed paper and canvas, especially at the beginning. All of this will easily fit in my car, which has just been serviced and which I will also be praying makes it there and back without incident. It's a ten year old Mazda MPV and ever since we paid off the loan, it's been randomly breaking down.

I still have some things to do around the house today, most notably 57 loads of laundry and later on I have to go and get my hair done. 'Cause, you know, the hair has to look good at an artist's retreat. Heh.

I don't think I will be posting here every day, but I will try to post at least a few times per week. I want to keep track of what I am doing too and keeping the blog going will be a great way to do that. If I get wifi in my room or studio, I may post more often. So check in on me once in awhile, ok?

And please feel free to email and say hi! I am not sure if I will feel lonely there and missing my family, or if I will be the socialite of the year. Either way it will be nice to hear from friends, family and lurkers. My computer is still messed up (getting it fixed is on Doug's list of things to do while I am gone:)) and I don't have my address book on the laptop, so if you don't email me, I can't email you.

So here I go!