Friday, March 31, 2006
Row of Peonies, 2005, Oil on Panel, 5x7
Normally, I start new work on Fridays. I do the underpaintings in oil and they usually need a few days (more if it's humid) to dry before I can start with the glazes. So I do them on Fridays and they dry over the weekend while I am out partying. heh. If I have something else scheduled for Friday, which I try not to do, I shuffle things around and do the underpaintings on Thursdays. Alas, yesterday I didn't check the family's MASTER CALENDAR and therefore didn't see that the kids have today off from school. Arrgghh! I may let them watch tv, although usually they are not allowed to watch it on the weekdays, school or no school. Sometimes bribery has its place however. So it's possible that I might be able to get a few underpaintings done, but, more than likely, I will be interrupted by tattle tales and arguments over who has more space on the sofa or distracted by the sounds of Sponge Bob. I usually prefer to stick to my schedule as that helps me to be so productive, but I am not exactly the rigid type either. If I have to wait until Monday to do the underpaintings, I can use the drying days to work on other things, like drawing, which I never seem to have enough time for, or taxes.
Ok, so now that the fascinating topic of my painting schedule has concluded, I wanted to mention that Enderlin Gallery is having an opening reception for "Flowers" a group show which includes about five of my paintings. The reception is from 2-5pm and Doug and I will be there on the early side. We plan to leave around 3 or 4pm and drive down to Woodstock, which is my very favorite place, and hang out and have dinner. So we are looking forward to that. Anyway, if any of my 4 readers out there are near Roxbury come by and say hi.
I'll be the one in pink, uh, I mean black.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Brilliant Rose, 2006, Oil on Panel, 9x12
I have always hated pink. You'd be hard pressed to find a picture of me ever wearing pink. I have never had any kind of pink home furnishings. When my first daughter was born, I made it clear to everyone that she would not be wearing pink, especially pastel pink. Of course my control over pink went out the window the minute my second daughter turned a year old. That was when she discovered pink (and purple, and anything shiny, sparkly and fluffy) and began to literally have the tantrum from hell if she couldn't get the pink shirt with the rhinestones. So with my blinders on to my daughter's wardrobe and belongings, I continued my dislike and avoidance of pink. Until recently.
Lately, I have been infatuated with pink in my work. It started with Brilliant Rose by Old Holland. Tired of using predictable colors in the landscapes, I did a pink sky and fell in love. Normally I don't do a lot of mixing of color but to get a good pink it is usually necessary to do some. So I mixed Brilliant Rose, Titanium White and flesh colors with every red and purple paint that I had to get a whole variety of pinks. I painted everything pink at one point or another; trees, skies, roads, lawn, signs, fields, barns, everything. Some things were more successful than others. The fields usually didn't really work while the roads, skies, trees and barns would sing. There is nothing like the feeling of getting just the right screaming pink color in just the right place in just the right painting.
I recently purchased a tube of Dianthus Pink by Williamsburg Oil Paints and it's my new very favorite color (I can be fickle). On it's own, it's too light colored for me but when combined with Caesar Purple I get this wonderful pink purple color that I think is just perfect and that is also amazing difficult to photograph (I am proud when I get a color that doesn't photograph well-I think it's a good sign). So now I have a whole new array of pink options. I will probably go on to use Dianthus Pink ad nauseam until I find a new pink pigment or maybe even move on to a new color. There is always a possibility that my lesser obsession with purple could take over.
Believe it or not, despite this loving ode to pink and despite the fact that I actually now own and wear a bright, (but kind of earthy) pink shirt, I still don't like pink.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Close Purple Trees, 2006, Oil on Panel, 12x24
My meeting at the gallery went well yesterday. Although I left thinking that I had really started to babble towards the end. I tend to do that if I am nervous, comfortable or if I am talking to a real live person. So, most of the time I babble I guess. I have probably always talked too much, but it's definitely gotten worse since we moved out here. My contact with other humans has been reduced significantly and whenever I see someone I am likely to talk their ear off.
Anyway, the gallery director is really excited and enthusiastic about my work and I am really happy (and intimidated) to be included with the artists that they already represent. Most of the artists have really impressive resumes, including museum exhibitions, international shows and sales to respected collections. I am not even close to having any of those things on my resume!
Today I have to work all day in the studio. I have the pieces to finish up for the gallery in Saratoga, as well as a few cityscapes that I have been working on. I also, and this gives me a headache just saying it, have to start gathering together all of my receipts and tax info together to give to our accountant. I have been trying to get to it, uh, since January, but today really has to be the day I start. Unless we decide to file for an extension of course. Then it's party time for a few more carefree months.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Beyond The Shadows, 2006, Oil on Panel, 9x12
Monday was spent preparing work to take to the Harrison Gallery in Williamstown, MA and I am driving over today to deliver it. It's only a 2 1/2 hour drive each way and Doug is home today so I can take my time. I may even stop at the mall in Albany on the way home.
Normally I try to do the framing and finishing, which includes attaching hangers, bumper pads and printed labels on the back of the panel, as I go. That way I don't have a whole backload of pieces to finish at the last minute. I learned the importance of finishing as you go in college, forgot it and relearned the hard way two years ago while I was actually applying the bumper pads in the car on the way to deliver work for a show. This time however, we had a busy weekend and didn't have much time to spend in the studio, so I ended up with a bit more last minute preparation work than usual. Several paintings were all ready but I had to paint some frames on Sunday, glue the panels in place on Monday and then do the finishing. I also paint on cradled panels which need two coats of black paint along the sides, so I had to do about eight of those on Monday.
I also had to spent some time putting together a good combination of paintings, include a variety of colors, images, as well as sizes. Doug is very helpful during this process and gives me great advice about which pieces should go and which ones shouldn't. Unless I am too tired and crabby and then I argue with him about whatever he suggests. Anyway, originally the director asked for 7-10 pieces, but when I spoke with her to arrange this meeting she said to bring more pieces if I could. Because I am a show off and want to prove how productive I am, I thought I'd try to put together a group of fifteen pieces. Deciding on which pieces to take can also take awhile because of the size of my studio. I have to move everything around so that I can prop everything up against the wall or on the display ledges. Generally one painting falls onto to floor at this point and Monday was no exception. Luckily no damage this time, but often I end up with a last minute bit of retouching to do.
Things were pretty hectic by dinnertime though. While preparing dinner, helping my youngest with homework and making cookies (not sure how I got roped into making cookies) I was also packing the pieces for car travel. Naturally, this is the time when all of the kids have to start a new project and need felt, or string or a stapler from me or need to plan a sleepover for next weekend. But packing up is pretty easy although the paintings do have to be in the right order, with bubble wrap in between each piece. I don't usually go crazy wrapping them as they will be laying flat in the back of the SUV and I can just carry them inside in groups of four or five. The last thing I did was to write up the image list that goes along to the gallery with the work. This has all of the info that the gallery needs to have about each piece: title, medium, year completed, size and price. I also double check my records at this point, making sure that I have a photograph and an info page filled out for each painting.
So I finished up everything by 8pm, got the kids to bed, scooped out the cat litter, folded some laundry which I am perpetually behind on, read for a bit and got to sleep fairly early. This morning Doug and I got the kids off to the bus, checked my emails and as soon as I post this I will load the car and breeze right out of here.
Easy peasy, as my son used to say in kindergarten.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Road with White Sky, 2005, Oil on Panel, 12x12
I thought I'd offer a few observations about women in the art world, or at least in my limited art world, which does not include the New York or international art scenes. My work is primarily represented by galleries in small to mid sized communities, with the exception of Atlanta.
Frankly, I don't pay much attention to the fact that I am a female artist. I simply do my work, try to continue to develop my voice, exhibit and meet my obligations. I don't feel that I have missed out on any exhibition opportunities because I am a female. I sense a lot more discrimination based on the the fact that I paint in a fairly representational manner and also that I am an unknown artist at this point.
Nearly all of the galleries that I am currently involved with are owned by women or by a male/female partnership. The gallery directors that I have primary contact with are female, with just two galleries having a male director/owner. In all of the galleries, the ratio of male/female artists represented are pretty much equal, about 40%-60% either way. I truly feel that with the people that I work with, there are no concerns about whether an artist is a male or female, it is just the quality of work that matters as well as the reliability of the artist. And of course whether the work will sell or not. I don't kid myself, the galleries are in business to, you know, stay in business and make a profit.
Ok, so that said, I know that there are inequalities in the art world. Female artists are sadly underrepresented in commercial galleries and museums. I recently went through the Met and MOMA in NYC and it was pretty discouraging to see so little work by women. Do I wish that there are more female artists? Yes. Do I think there should be more female doctors? Yes. Dentists? Yes. CEOs? Yes. Senators? Yes. Lawyers? Yes. The art world isn't much different than other occupations as much as we artists think it should be. It is definitely hard for a woman to get "in" and to earn as much as a man whether it's in art, medicine, business or in almost any other occupation.
Complicating matters is parenthood. If fathers were primary caregivers of their children, everything would be different. But the fact is, women are generally in charge of children and the home, though certainly there are many exceptions and things have shifted in the last few generations. Speaking from my own experience of adopting a special needs child and then having 3 babies in 4 years, being a mother is really intense. Much too intense for me to have also been consistently creating enough finished work to meet the needs of a gallery. Do any of the female artists, currently exhibiting, have a three month old baby, who requires constant care and attention, let alone two? Maybe, please let me know if you know of anyone. However most of the female artists that I know personally either don't have children or they have school-aged or grown children.
I wish things were different. I wish women and minorities and homosexuals were treated with as much regard and value as white men, in the art world as well as everywhere else. However, if you look closely, and not just in the metropolitan areas, you'll see that there are plenty of successful female artists, working, exhibiting, creating. Sometimes the daily struggle is as important as the big picture and sometimes success isn't recognition or money.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Blushing Barn, 2005, Oil on Panel, 12x16
Not much of a post today I'm afraid. Today and tomorrow I am overwhelmed with mommy duties. Hair appointments, school conferences, swimming lessons, scout meetings, all capped off by an afternoon at the school carnival on Saturday. We will spend hours in the noisy, crowded high school gym, eating nasty junk food and spending a lot of money so the kids can win plastic toys that I will step on and break within days, maybe even hours. Last year I worked at the popcorn stand but this time I managed to avoid having to actually work at the carnival, although I did agree to make a cake for the cakewalk. So I have to do some baking today too.
Today's painting is of a barn about a mile from my home. I drive past it almost every day and have painted it from different angles several times. I included it in a post on February 20 and you can see it here. The image below is a view from the other side and is an older piece, painted in the fall of 2004. The barn is actually red in real life, but clearly, reality is not my primary goal when painting. Blushing Barn was just sold by Anderson-Soule Gallery in Concord, NH.
Just another bit of super fascinating Tracy/painting/barn trivia to get you through the weekend. heh.
Rt.26 Barn, 2004, Oil on Panel, 5x5
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Patch of Blue, 2006, Oil on Panel, 18x24
Yesterday, I got a call from Gallery 100 in Saratoga Springs. They've recently sold two more of my paintings and would like me to bring them about eight more. This is the kind of development that can really make an artist giddy! To have work selling that is not included in an exhibition, well, that is like frosting on the cake.
I first met with the owners of Gallery 100 in the spring of 2004. I had been painting seriously for about 6 months and I had enough nerve to call them and ask if I could show them my work. They agreed to see me, so I took in a whole variety of things that I had been working on. Deb, one of the owners, was very blunt and said that some things weren't working, the texture of the gessoed panel was distracting from the image and she wondered what my goals were. She did like the glazing and some of the colors (my palette was quite different than it is now), but said that she wasn't really interested in showing my work at that point, although she did suggest that I continue to send her slides or jpegs of new work. Deb was nice, honest and her criticism was constructive but I still felt like a jerk while I packed up my paintings. I learned after that to have a quick way of wrapping up paintings so I could zip right out of the gallery after a bad critique.
I hung on to my defenses for a few days then finally decided to change a few things based on what Deb had commented on. I sanded down the gesso (just a little) and I made some decisions about what I wanted as far as exhibiting. I sent her another batch of slides later on in the year, and was also showing in some other galleries in the area and sent her the cards from those. In May 2005, Deb called me and suggested that I bring in about five pieces that they would show in conjunction with a larger show. They had good feedback, sold a piece or two and then added me to their website. Later in the year, I was asked to submit four pieces to their holiday small works show. I knew this was important and made sure that the pieces I sent them were REALLY, REALLY, REALLY good. All of them sold, three during the show and the last one just after. I have also been asked me to participate in another gallery event this summer.
So, despite still feeling foolish and a little embarrassed - I do tend to hang on to things - about our initial meeting, I am proud of being able to take criticism (art school prepared me well for that), move on and have the chance to develop a good and mutually beneficial relationship with this gallery.
But, back to the present. After doing a quick count of what I have in inventory, I realized that I have to actually paint those eight pieces, uh, like, next week. I try to keep at least 5 or 10 pieces on hand for when things like this come up, but I am currently preparing work to take to the Harrison Gallery next week, so I don't have too many extra paintings right now.
Of course. Ain't that the way?
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Purple Backside (view of the back of Tony Yakos' barn), 2006, Oil on Panel, 11x14
For the last six months or so, I have been obsessed with getting a larger studio space. I am driving my husband crazy with this. I show him drawings I've made of how I could set up a studio in the attic or the garage or even the barn. It really is comical to even discuss it at this point since we cannot afford it. Doug took a paycut to join a start up company and he is working hard to make a profit with his retail store in Soho. My income covers my expenses and I am trying to save whatever is extra, which is not much.
Doug is currently trying to humor me by agreeing that we could consider renovating our garage (on the cheap), which is currently a crappy half tin building attached to the back corner of our house. I am elated to have this project, you see how I have turned his consideration into a project? Our property used to be a dairy farm and was owned by a colorful character named Tony Yakos. As Tony got a bit older and worked a bit less in the fields he built the garage and ran a farm store out of it. Often when people find out where we live, (it's still the Yakos' place-it won't be the Miller's place unless we live here for at least 30 years) they have a story about when they were a kid they would ride their bikes up and buy popcorn (he had a popcorn machine) and candy from Tony. He sold farm supplies like gloves, feeders, and tools, but mostly he sat at a counter, smoking a cigar and pontificating about the meaning of life and what to feed chickens.
The building has a metal roof, one window, a glass door leading to the back patio and in the summer, it still smells like a barn. The garage door openings are too small for our cars. I can park inside, if I am careful, and if Doug folds in his side mirrors and slowly inches in, he can fit, but normally he just parks outside. The building is not insulated and I often store frozen food out there in the winter. As a garage it's only good for keeping the snow off the car and the rest of the junk that we keep in there. So we are going to give it up this great luxury and start my project that will probably take at least a year to complete.
Our friend and contractor, Steve, thinks we can make it into a studio. The structure is pretty sturdy, and despite needing to add windows, rebuild walls, insulate, heat, and possibly level the concrete floor, remodeling this structure will cost significantly less that putting up a new building. Doug and I (and our 16 year old slave, oops, I mean son) will also do much of the work ourselves. Again, comical. But this summer, we will empty all of our stuff out, and strip the interior of Tony's eclectic country store furnishings, including the wood paneling straight out of the 70's, the orange indoor/outdoor carpeting, the red barn wood, and mustard colored pegboard wall.
I am liking the idea of having all of this history in my new studio. As much as I would prefer to have a studio with separate rooms for messy and clean work, soaring high ceilings, a sink, wood floors, I will be thrilled having almost 1000 square feet, north light and more storage space. And surely, my work will benefit from Tony's spirit.
As long as we can get rid of the barn smell. I really must keep some of my high standards.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Outside the Hall, Photo Courtesy of Karen Katz
Normally, I do not expect to discuss politics here. That's not to say that I don't have opinions, or am unaware of what is going on, I most certainly am (just ask Doug, he hears my daily rants), but I just feel that so many others are able to more clearly and coherently discuss politics than I can.
However, today I make an exception. On Sunday I participated in a peace march and rally held in our small town to commemorate the third anniversary of the beginning of this inexplicable war that our lying, greedy, insensitive president and administration has led us into. I am not a sign carrying, chanting type of girl but I will support a demonstration that I feel strongly about and this war, uh, invasion definitely qualifies. Our friend and neighbor, Adrian, was one of the organizers and I also wanted to support his efforts. There was a great turnout, at least 300 people (pretty good for such a small community), adults, children, and media alike. We marched down Main Street and then gathered in a local hall for speeches, songs and performances by local citizens. Everyone who spoke was very passionate and knowledgeable about this action by our government and spoke of our dependence on oil, the importance of protest, and the tragic loss of nearly 40,000 and perhaps more, Iraqis and 2,318 of our strong, beautiful young men and women that have been sent to die. Sent to die not for our freedom, but so Bush, Cheney and crew can gain more wealth, so our civil rights can be taken away, so we can continue along happily consuming 25% of the world's oil.
Tomorrow I will go back to writing about my frivolous life as a mother, wife and artist. But I am also going to get more involved, starting with writing letters to senators, representatives, and most importantly, to our stupid ass president. Just so you know.
We should all be standing up for what is right.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Finally! I can post an image!
Early Spring Morning, 2006, Oil on Panel, 9x12
Doug and I had a great time at the opening at the Main Street Gallery on Saturday night. There was a good sized crowd, good food and and an exceptional variety of art. Alas, we were in a rush to leave the house and we forgot the camera, so I have no photos of the event to post. Arthur of The Thinking Eye has posted a few on his site. Doug and I both chatted with Arthur throughout the evening and it was nice to meet him in person after having read his blog for awhile. I spent some time catching up with Roger and Adrienne, the gallery owners, but mostly I talked with Crista Pisano, another artist in the show. Crista is a young artist, a few years out of school and I'd say we are at a similar point in our careers. Uh, except that I am pretty close to technically being able to be her mother. Anyway, we spent most of the time comparing our work habits, exhibiting and gallery stories, and discussing materials and studio space. It was so nice to talk about these things with another artist, it's not something I am able to do very often, and certainly not in my daily life.
Our nice evening out was capped off with a long, slow and harrowing drive home in a late winter snowstorm. The two hour drive took almost four, Doug felt ill from the changing barometer (he is sensitive to that) and I had vertigo and motion sickness from looking into the snow while watching the road. Sunday we both felt slightly hung over from being out so late. Yes, midnight is now late to us. We are just loving this whole middle age thing.
P.S. Thanks to Arthur for discussing my work on the post that he wrote Saturday night, directly after the opening. Clearly, HE has not reached middle age yet.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Purple Woods, 2005, Oil on Panel, 16x16
Just to make sure that ya'll know that this blog is all about me, me, me, me-I have added my exhibition schedule to the sidebar. I have this list on tracyhelgeson.com but it's usually outdated, because a friend of Doug's does the site and I always feel guilty asking him to update it. So I thought that the blog might be a good place to keep it current.
Besides, isn't everyone just waiting with bated breath to see where I'll be showing next?
Friday, March 17, 2006
Green Columns, 2006, Oil on Panel, 12x16
Ahhhh, Friday. Somehow, after years of being at home, without having a traditional job or being in school, I am always happy when Friday comes around each week. It's a false happiness however, because I usually have more work to do on the weekends than during the week.
Weekends for me are for catching up. Catching up on housework is usually first on the list. And before anyone assumes I do all the cleaning because I am the female, let me assure you, I certainly do not! Back when I was a stay at home mom, the housework was primarily my responsibility, that was the agreement between Doug and I. I must add though, that we did have a weekly housecleaner for awhile and also that Doug would always help if I asked him to. He wouldn't do it on his own neccessarily, but didn't mind doing it if I asked him. That's pretty good, huh? However, now that I am working as much as he is, we pretty much divide it. Still, it is my job is to delegate and organize the cleaning chores. I do some of it, and I give Doug something to do, usually the bathrooms as he hates cleaning them a bit less than I do, and the kids have various responsibilities.
Anyway, I also catch up on paperwork, clean up my studio, if necessary and if I have a show coming up, I may still have to put some time in working in the studio. Then the kids have activities: soccer games, birthday parties, playdates, sleepovers, scout meetings, etc. Since we are fairly new to the area where we live, we don't have much of a social life, but there is occasionally a dinner out, a party, and more often, a gallery opening to attend. There is always something to be done in the yard, though not so much right now, as we tend to ignore our property in the winter. But in the summer there is a ton of work to do outside: gardening, mowing, retrieving the shingles that have been blown off our ailing roof during the last windstorm. Then there are the bigger projects also saved for the weekend-cleaning out the basement, the attic, the garage, building a rock wall, painting the fence. It's endless really.
So, despite the fact that we have about 7,893 things to do in the next two days, including a sleepover, two birthday parties, a gallery opening, recycling, and a peace march, I am still glad it's Friday. Go figure.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Lemon Yellow Barn, 2006, Oil on Panel, 16x20
This is an image of my latest barn. I used lemon yellow mostly because I recently bought a tube of it and have tried to use it in nearly every painting ever since. With various levels of success, of course. I think it's pretty effective here and I will probably send this painting off to my new gallery.
At first, I was unsure about including barns in my paintings. I worried that by painting barns, my work would be labeled hokey, cliched, country. A terrible fate! But I had done a number of landscapes and really felt that I wanted to add structures. Barns seemed a logical choice especially since this is what I see when I look out my front door:
Barns are everywhere here in upstate NY. Unfortunately they are slowly disappearing, due to a variety of reasons. Farms are declining in number and (as Doug and I know personally) it can be really expensive to keep a barn in good enough repair to just keep it standing. I wouldn't say that I paint barns in order to keep a record of the fading American countryside, however I am so glad that there are those who are doing that in their work, whether it's by painting or photography. I think I like barns because of the link they provide to the past. Barns were strong and sturdy, and full of personality, built in a simpler but not easier time, a man made continuation of the natural landscape. I appreciate all of those elements.
Of course, that's where the realism ends for me. I tend to interpret the classic earthy barn colors as bright pink, yellow, lime green or purple. I eliminate windows, doors and clunky additions. Farm machinery disappears, background tree lines are added. What I do keep is the solidness, the connection to the land around it and most importantly, the simple and useful structure.
Kind of the way life should be, huh?
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Blue Landscape With Trees, 2005, Oil on Panel, 8x10
It's possible that I am one of the most musically untalented persons ever. I played flute for several years as a kid and despite enjoying it and working hard at it, I was perpetually last chair. I tried to learn how to play piano, but just couldn't get past the basics. Even when my kids were toddlers, they would either cry or laugh when I would sing. If I am in public and have to sing, like Happy Birthday for instance, I fake it. No need to bring everyone down.
But the thing is I love music! I love to sing and you should hear me in the car- I am Janis Joplin! Joan Baez! Aretha Franklin! The first songs I remember hearing on the radio were Riders on the Storm by the Doors, Walk the Line (I thought he was saying lime which seemed odd to me) by Johnny Cash and A Horse with No Name by America. Did I mention that I grew up in Minnesota, listening to AM radio? So it's true my musical tastes do tend towards the mainstream, I admit it. As a teenager, I liked the popular music: ABBA, Kiss, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, The Knack, The Police, Queen, Eagles, Blondie, The Go-Go's, Peter Frampton. I had an obsession for several years in high school with the Doors and still know every word to every song on every Doors album. In college I liked Van Halen, Triumph, U2, R.E.M, INXS, The Cult, 10,000 Maniacs, Bon Jovi, Marc Almond, Tears For Fears. Prince, Billy Idol, (unfortunately, yes, I did like Billy Idol). Later when I moved to Philadelphia, I found my everlasting true love, Tom Waits. I was hanging out with some friends, after a night at the bar and somebody put on The Heart of Saturday Night. Actually I remember exactly, Tom Leonard and I were at Laura's dark little apartment at 3am and she put the album on. I interrupted the conversation and asked who IS this? I was blown away. I still listen to and buy his music. I think Alice may be the most perfect song ever. Soon I found Billy Holiday and she and Peggy Lee were perfect to get depressed with while sitting alone at the bar at Dirty Frank's (landmark dive bar at 13th&Pine, Philadelphia, it's still there and hard to believe it's gone on without me!).
In the last 10 years or so I have moved away from the mainstream a bit, but the depressing, melancholic music still has a hold on me and it's what I prefer to listen to while I work in the studio. My husband gave me an ipod last year and it is loaded with many of my old favorites, no ABBA though, (I do have to draw the line somewhere!) and I love adding new music to it. In the past few years I have been listening (obsessively) to Jeff Buckley, Mary Gauthier, Shelby Lynne, Rick Danko, Ray LaMontagne, Lucinda Williams, Damien Rice, Bob Dylan. I recently added Sean Hayes, Iris DeMent, Joshua Radin and Amos Lee. A few pop songs are squeezed in once in awhile, just so I can keep a connection to my AM childhood. I still feel like crying when I hear Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks and Love Hurts by Nazareth. Oh the sadness of childhood! And right now I am totally loving You're Beautiful by James Blunt .
So despite my lack of actual musical talent, music is a huge part of my painting. I never work in silence, I need the music to touch my heart and that is (hopefully) what I express visually. I wish I could say that my work is all me, but the truth is, it's me AND whatever I listen to, read, see, think and feel.
Now, if I could just have a studio with some privacy so I could sing along with Tom without hurting anyone!
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Forest Edge, 2005, Oil on Panel, 20x20
Doug and I have been trying to decide about what to do this weekend. We were planning to take the kids and spend a few days in NYC. But Doug has been there for the last two weeks, doing back to back trade shows and he is burned out on the city. Also, I am feeling that I should go to an opening of a group show that I am in. I always try to go to the openings of these shows, I feel that it's part of my job as an artist and that it's important to support the efforts of the gallery. On the other hand, Doug's company had rented an apartment and this is the last weekend we could stay there, so we are giving up the chance to stay in NYC for free, if we don't go. What to do?
As of today, we have decided not to go. I am secretly glad. We can all cozy up at home and not be all stressed out trying to maneuver 4 kids through the city. Also, if I can find a sitter (I have to try my back up sitters as Mary Jo is unavailable) Doug and I will both go to the opening reception at The Main Street Gallery in Groton.
We always enjoy going to the openings there. The owners, Roger and Adrienne are really interesting. They are both artists and similar to Doug and I, made a big lifestyle change and plunked themselves down into a small community in upstate NY. They bravely opened a fabulous gallery in Groton, which is near Ithaca, and have proceeded to bring art, as well as attention to that quiet little town.
I have shown my work at The Main Street Gallery several times. The first competition that I was ever accepted into was their Regional Small Works Painting Exhibition in 2004. A few months later I participated in their Spring Group Exhibition (2005) and then I had a solo show there last September (today's painting was on the invitations for that show). Roger and Adrienne really do a great job with publicity and they put a lot of energy into getting visitors in to the gallery. Several articles were written in the area's newspapers and publications about my solo show as well as a review (it was positive, thank goodness!) in the Syracuse Post Standard. And again this year my work is included in the Annual Spring Group Exhibition, March 17-April 23rd. The reception on Saturday, March 18, 5-8pm.
By the way, check out The Thinking Eye. Artist and blogger Arthur Whitman has also shown at the Main Street Gallery, today he has posted his vibrant and colorful paintings that were included in last December's Small Works Show.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Trees with Yellow Sky, 2005, Oil on Panel, 6x6
WARNING! This is a long and possibly really boring post that involves info about paperwork, the bane of any artist's existence. Save yourself and don't read this if filling out forms gives you a headache.
During the last month or so, I have been trying to make sure all of my paintings are documented. Most of the time I am able to keep up but sometimes in the hectic days right before work for a show is due, things slip past me. So now it's time to backtrack through 2005, find a jpeg or a record of where the piece is currently located. 2004 was the first full year that I painted full time and I didn't produce a whole lot of work that year; I could easily recall recall each painting. However, I had to modify that system last year. I started to complete much more work and tracking everything became at least a part time job.
This is my system. As soon as the painting is finished, it gets a title. Hands down, this is the most difficult part of painting. I am not kidding-it is more difficult to come with the appropriate title than it is to actually come up with an idea for an image. I usually stay on the more descriptive side rather than poetic, though once in awhile I cross over. Then we (Doug usually helps me here) take a picture of the piece and load the photos into my computer. Each image is adjusted if necessary, my paintings are challenging to reproduce because of the layers of colors, and I make two jpegs of each image, one at 72 dpi and one at 300 dpi. They are all stored in a file by year and I periodically load the images onto a disc. Paperwork is next. I have several binders and each tracks a different path.
Inventory: This one contains info about each piece. I designed a page that I can print out from the computer which has a section for title, date, medium, a space for a photo, a section to describe where and when it has been exhibited, the price and a place for the name and address of the buyer. There is also a space for additional notes. The pages are organized by title in alphabetical order and each has a photo, which comes in handy if I can't recall the title.
Exhibition: This book contains the info regarding each exhibition that I show in. The name and address of the gallery or organization is at the top and then each painting is listed by title, date of delivery, date of return and whether it sold or not.
Image Lists: The third binder contains a copy of all of the image lists that I deliver to a gallery along with the work. The image list has all of the info that the gallery needs; title, size, year, medium and price. This info is very handy to refer to if I don't get the inventory page completed before the work gets sent out, which can happen if I am rushed trying to meet a deadline or if I am procrastinating.
Income: I keep track of income in a monthly ledger and each time a payment comes in, I make a note of the date, amount, who it's from and for which piece.
I could actually set this whole system up on the computer and I probably will at some point. But the thing is, with the exception of the actual painting, nearly every other aspect of what I do is somehow connected to the computer. So right now I find it to be comforting to have one business oriented thing that I can do just sitting down at a regular desk that doesn't have a connection to a surge protector.
When I first realized that I would have to do a better job of tracking my work, I resisted it. I am just a plain old fashioned painter at heart and I felt that doing the business part would take all the romance and fun out of the whole thing. However, I found the opposite was true. Good organization removed a good chunk of stress from my day so I could focus on my studio time without worrying about what may have happened to a particular piece. I think it also has given me a lot more credibility with the gallery directors that I work with and helps support their efforts.
Also, I don't know if things have changed much in colleges that teach art, but when I was in art school little to no attention was paid to how to handle the business side of art. I remember that I had one instructor who tried to get our heads out of the clouds long enough to show us how to develop a resume, send out our portfolios and how to approach potential clients (I was an illustration major). It was a start, but when I finally did some illustration work, I really struggled with the business aspect, especially with how to handle contracts, billing issues and keeping records. Certainly, one can learn these things along the way, but it seems if a school is dedicated to teaching art it could also at least offer a required class or two about the business of art.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Friday, March 10, 2006
Sweet Corn, 2005, Oil on Panel, 16x16
I have two group shows coming up and usually I prefer to deliver the work in person. This gives me a chance to spend some time at the gallery, chat with the directors and discuss the work in the show. Unfortunately, I have scheduling conflicts this weekend and I can't take 5 hours (that is how long a round trip to anywhere is from here) to go to either gallery. So I have to ship the art this time.
Normally when we need to ship a package from up here in Hooterville - that is our nickname for where we live, referencing the Green Acres TV show from the sixties, for all you youngsters out there - we go to The Copy Shop. Like most businesses here it is multi faceted, besides shipping for UPS and Fed Ex, it does printing, faxing and sells greeting cards. In Hooterville, if I want to buy a book, I go to the bookstore that also sells fine jewelry and can fix my watch, or if I want to buy plants for the garden I go to the nursery, where I can also have a hamburger and ice cream if I'm hungry after. If I need a pair of shoes I can also pick up a nice serving dish or a cruet set at the same time. So when I went to The Copy Shop to ship the packages, I was a bit flustered to find out that they were closed until mid-March for remodeling. Where would I find a UPS drop? Should I visit the toy store? The video store, maybe the hair salon? I asked Mary Jo, who lives in the small town about 20 miles north of our house. She said the Ace Hardware on Main street. Of course! I can't believe I hadn't thought of the hardware store.
I went to the hardware store yesterday to ship my packages. I went in and asked the cashier, Debbie, If they had UPS pick up. She looked at me with surprise and then directed me to the service counter at the back of the store. I went down the aisle with the rubber boots and racks of farm clothing and waited at the counter for help. After a few minutes, Debbie came to do the paperwork. I was instantly reminded of the old Scooby-Doo episode at the amusement park where the old guy does everything at the park, takes the tickets, sells food, runs the rides. Anyway, Debbie was a pro, did the label and the forms efficiently. She asked if I had ever shipped anything by UPS (who hasn't at this point!?), and even though I said yes she very considerately explained the insurance procedures. When I told her I needed $1200 worth of insurance, she said "Must be an expensive portrait!" I wanted to say, ha, it should be way more but it's not because I am just starting out, no one knows me yet, I am a female artist and men almost always command higher prices, but I just laughed and said yes. She also very helpfully circled the tracking number in case I wasn't able to read: TRACKING#.
Debbie told me that I had to pay up at the cashier. I went and stood next to one of these while I waited for Debbie to come and ring up the total. The men next to me were discussing drill bits and hay seed and I wanted to laugh (I didn't-no need for Debbie to think I was crazy, heh) about standing in a farm/hardware/UPS store with my dyed red hair, black turtleneck and nose ring.
Yes, folks, that's right, the glamorous and exciting life and times of a NY artist.
Thursday, March 9, 2006
Unreal Forest, 2005, Oil on Panel, 8x10
After Jerome and I visited the Met last Saturday, we went to see the Milton Avery show at DC Moore Gallery. I have not always been a fan of Milton Avery, but I have grown to like his work in the last few years. I like the simplicity of the form, color and shape and how it still creates a space and an image. I also like the imagery. Rather mundane, everyday objects transcend into minimalist beauty. I know, I know, it's all been done, but I still respond to it. I wasn't familiar with most of the pieces in this collection, so it was interesting to see them.
I realized Tibor de Nagy was in the same building so I dragged Jerome upstairs. What a treat! One of my favorite contemporary painters was having a solo show. David Kapp is the husband of Cecily Kahn who is the daughter of my painting soulmate (in a grandfatherly way, of course) Wolf Kahn. I have been flirting with cityscapes lately and David Kapp's images really intrigue me. Most of the images are overhead views and they have a really good and exciting city energy about them.
Next we visited DFN Gallery. Again, they were showing another one of my favorite artists, David Shevlino. He also does cityscapes and these were also just stunning to look at. I thought these had a different kind of feel, moodier with a bit of longing to them. Big deep shadows always get me in the heart, too. The other artist in this exhibition was Jane Bloodgood-Abrams. Jane and I are both represented by a few of the same galleries and we will both be in a three person show this November at Carrie Haddad Gallery. She paints evocative landscapes in the Hudson River Valley tradition. Her palette is somewhat dark, but the paintings have a wonderful lightness and luminosity about them. I also think these paintings have a very strong spiritual quality. Jane and I have exchanged emails, and I look forward to meeting her in person this fall. I need to get some advice on how to get into a gallery in NYC!
Seeing all this art has helped me get over the last few bad days in my studio. This week I am back to my usual enthusiasm and productivity. I also feel inspired to spend a lot more time on painting cityscapes, perhaps on a larger scale. The ones I have done recently have turned out nicely, I think, and my dear, love blinded husband says he thinks mine are as nice as any other city scapes that he has seen lately. Seems like this post should include a cityscape painting, but wouldn't that just be so obvious?! I am going with "unreality" today.
Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Trees Along The Stream, 2006, Oil on Panel, 12x12
So Fluffy the hamster had been sitting in one spot, hardly moving at all, at least since Sunday night and maybe longer. I was keeping an eye on him and yesterday morning he was barely breathing. I discussed it with my son and asked him if Fluffy died during the day did he want me to take care of it or did he want to do it after school. He wanted me to wait until he was home. I checked on Fluffy about midday and poked him (I was a little too upset about possibly handling a dead animal to actually pick him up). No movement at all. No response and I couldn't see him breathing. After school, I told my son that Fluffy had died and that we would have to put him in a box and we could bury him in the yard when it warms up a bit. He was very upset and cried for awhile. Then we all went upstairs with a bag and a shoebox and prepared to have a short service for Fluffy. But........Fluffy was walking around! While we were watching him, he got into the food dish and filled his cheeks, squeezed through the tubes in his cage and sat on his wheel. Needless to say, everyone was pretty happy and I am ecstatic about getting a reprieve in having to pick up a dead hamster.
The other good news is that I can still paint! I had a good chunk of time to work in my studio on Tuesday and I was able to get some pieces done that I am very pleased with. I was in the groove, getting great colors and the right textures, it was a great day. True, I was working on what I am comfortable with, landscapes, but I am feeling confident and I will soon try some other subject matter again.
I am sure everyone is just on the edge of their seats waiting to hear about the NY galleries that I visited last weekend, but I am going to put off writing about it until tomorrow. I have a busy day today, I really have to finish up some things in the studio today, pack up some paintings to ship out, I must take my walk since I have skipped the last two days, and then I have to pick up the kids at the gym after school, make dinner, do bedtime etc. Doug is out of town so I am without assistance.
Tuesday, March 7, 2006
Luminous Winter, 2005, Oil on Panel, 5x5
On Friday I spent a few hours walking through Art Expo. This is a huge art fair and for the first few days it is open to the trade only, galleries, corporate art buyers, interior decorators etc. It is overwhelming to see so much in one place. Even just looking at one booth is too much. The booths are expensive and everyone tries to display as much as possible since the public can come in on the last few days to shop which helps to recoup the show expenses. Most of the work was pretty slick and commercial, some of it was ok and most was just boring and without soul. Actress Jane Seymour had a booth displaying her art. There is a separate more exclusive section called The Pavilion and there were some really interesting things there. Kathryn Markel, who represents work that I like had a booth at The Pavilion and I really enjoyed the work by Allison Stewart. Also, individual artists can exhibit in a smaller sized booth. I considered doing this a couple of years ago but decided not to because it is expensive (though much less than a regular booth) and if you don't sell enough, you can be out thusands of dollars. I walked through the Solo Artist section hoping to see something unique and the artists looked at me desperately, their eyes begging me to stop and buy something. I wasn't really shopping and so I immediately felt guilty. I felt like saying "I am you!" Instead, I suspect that I looked like a middle aged woman to them, out shopping for art to hang over the sofa in my suburban home. Doug says that the viewing and shopping crowd was sparse, at least by comparison to the last few years. I did think that there were some nice things there, however, I got into a daze after a few aisles and if I did see anything I liked I can't recall it.
Saturday, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I used to visit the Met often while I was in college in the eighties. I saw a Caravaggio show there once and a few others that I don't recall right now. The last time I was there was in the early nineties I think. So it was really nice to go through it again with a different perspective. We mostly looked at the European, American, and Modern collections. It was comforting to see my old faves; Vermeer, van Gogh, Sargeant, Rembrandt, Monet, Cezanne. I also really liked seeing the work of Mark Rothko (although I think the pieces at MOMA are better), Willem deKooning, Jackson Pollock, and Anselm Kiefer. When I was in college I saw their work and hated it. I mean really hated it. Now I have much more respect for their works and actually consider them to be among my favorite and most inspiring artists. I sat and looked at deKooning's Easter Monday and can't believe that I had never appreciated it's vibrancy and subtleties. We spent a lot of time with Bohemia Lies by the Sea by Anselm Kiefer. It is huge and has a fabulously thick texture, in fact, it looked like chunks had come off here and there. It was fascinating to look at and enjoy. Also, another more contemporary piece I liked was a huge landscape by Stephen Hannock who just so happens to be represented by The Harrison Gallery which also will be soon representing me! How cool is that?! Anyway, the piece was beautiful. I had seen it on the internet before, but what you can't see on a screen is that there is a lot of handwriting within the image which gives it a whole new meaning. It's easy to look at art on the internet but seeing this piece reminded me of how important it is to see art in real life.
We then visited several galleries. However I think I will write about them tomorrow, as this has become long. The painting that I am showing today was recently referred to by a gallery director as a "mini-Rothko." I wish! I am currently reading a biography of Rothko and am really enjoying it. I hadn't known much about his background, so it is interesting to learn about him.
Monday, March 6, 2006
Pink Path, 2005, Oil on Panel, 8x10
Well, I got back home late on Sunday, (just in time to catch the Oscars) from NYC. I saw a ton of art (maybe too much, I can't remember a lot of it!), walked 27,498 miles and had two really good dinners. The weather was great, nice and sunny and not too cold. Friday afternoon, I went through the Art Expo at the Javits Center. Saturday, Doug worked at the booth all day so I went to the Met along with Jerome, who works with Doug at Green River Stone, and who had the day off from the show. Jerome lives in Utah, although he is originally from Minnesota (as I am) and somehow, thanks to a well used subway map we managed to get around Manhattan all day, visiting the museum, three galleries and Doug's store in Soho. We even had the luck to be seated across from a rather disheveled man, pleasuring himself on the subway. We changed seats once we both realized what he was actually doing, which took a few minutes because his bag was shielding most of the action. Lovely.
I'd like to point out some of the work I saw, but I need to take some time to go over my notes, as well as to find some links, so I will write a longer post about all of that tomorrow. Today, I have to work in the studio. I need to finish up some pieces for a show, frame up two pieces to ship out this week, and start some new landscapes. I decided over the weekend that I am probably thinking about my work too much lately, which is making feel self-conscious about what I am doing, and that really affects me when I am attempting to paint new subject matter. So I just have to keep working hard and hopefully I can get through this bump soon.
More importantly, back in the real world, my son's hamster is not doing well, and I am worried that Fluffy will die before Doug gets back home. Fluffy is almost 2 (pretty old for a hamster) and has weathered a lot of trauma, and my son knows that the end may be near. However, I am totally freaking out about having to actually pick up a dead hamster. Or even see one for that matter. Anyway, I think I can do it if I have to, but eeeewwwww.....
Friday, March 3, 2006
City Street at Dusk, 2006, Oil on Panel, 9x12
Well, I managed to have a decent 2 hours or so in my studio on Thursday, and may have salvaged most of the pieces I had been working on. I think I can show them and today I am not feeling like a lousy artist. I have a bit of a welcome distraction from all of that though. Today I am off to join Doug in NYC for the weekend. Our fearless babysitter, Mary Jo and her dog, Pepper Ann, will be staying with the kids while I spent 3 days and 2 nights, unencumbered by all responsibility, in the big city.
Doug's company Green River Stone Company, has a booth each year at the Art Expo at the Javits Center. I probably wouldn't choose to visit the Art Expo, but since he will be there, I'll walk through and take a look at what's going on. More importantly, I plan to visit the Whitney Biennual, unless it's mob scene, then I'll go when we are in the city again at the end of March, and I'm sure I'll stop by a few of my favorite galleries. I like Arcadia, Kathryn Markel, DFN and I also hope to see the Milton Avery show at the DC Moore Gallery. And I am totally looking forward to some good chinese food!
Besides being a partner in Green River Stone, Doug also has a store/showroom in Soho, called Fossil Interior. Green River Stone owns some land in Wyoming and they quarry big slabs of stone that are just full of fossils, mostly fish. They create murals, counter tops, and tiles from the stone and they are just beautiful. Doug has a BFA from Tyler in photography and sculpture. Mostly since then he has been in the holography industry, but a few years ago he decided to go full time with this company that had previously been a side interest. He loves it, it gives him the chance to use his creative skills as well as his ability to sell and promote products. So that's what my husband does. Doug is also so supportive of what I am doing. He goes to all of my openings, helps me photograph my work and helps me with the framing if I am in a rush. He is also my best critic, he tells when a piece isn't working (sometimes I don't see that) and when it is (sometimes I don't see that either).
City Street at Dusk is a street in Soho. I took some photos on the streets last time we were in the city and I enjoy painting this different subject matter. This piece is one of two cityscapes that I will have in a group show at The Main Street Gallery in March.
Thursday, March 2, 2006
Cutting Through Fields. 2006, Oil on Panel, 12x16
Well, I had a crappy day in the studio on Wednesday. I am trying to finish up a few pieces and they are just not going the way I want them to. This happens occasionally and it usually gives me a nagging bad feeling that stays with me for the rest of the day. Often I spend that time second guessing my painting in general and wishing that I had a different painting style. Like abstract painters never have a day of frustration, right? R-i-g-h-t....
The way to get over this is to get right back to work. Unfortunately, this is a bad day for that. I wasn't planning to paint today because tomorrow I am going to NYC for the weekend and I have a ton of things to do, incIuding clean the house, do laundry, buy groceries and run a few errands. But if I don't accomplish something that I am happy about, that nagging feeling will stay with me and I would like to enjoy my weekend away.
Lately though, I have been having these days a bit more often than usual. While I love painting the landscape I am pretty sure that I don't want to do only landscapes forever. I want to paint other subject matter. Cityscapes, the figure, the still life, these are things I'd like to do more of. However, when I work with a different subject matter all of my work seems to shift slightly. Most of that time that works and is good. But sometimes the shift can be awkward and I get frustrated. All of this is positive really, I know that, but when you are actually in it and you have deadlines it's not hard to get a little wacky about it.
So that's where I am today. I did look at the pieces that I did yesterday and they don't look as bad today as I thought they did yesterday. Hopefully, I can still wrestle at least a couple of them into submission.
To try and counterract my loser artist feelings today, I am posting a painting that I just did last week, one that I AM pleased with.
Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Pink Mountain, 2005, Oil on Panel, 8x10
I recently received an invitation to participate in a group show at the Anderson-Soule Gallery in Concord, NH. I was pleased to be invited, they have been successful in selling my work over the last few months, so I look forward to the chance to be in one of their exhibitions.
I have a number of shows scheduled for 2006, and I will be particularly busy throughout the summer and fall. But I have always remembered some good advice from one of the instructors in college. "If it's a good job, take it no matter how busy you already are, because you never know when the next offer will come along." And if that didn't convince us, the next sentence would. "If you refuse jobs, they will stop asking." I don't know yet if it works like that in the fine art world but I don't really want to find out. There is always a way to get just a few more pieces finished if there is a good exhibition opportunity on the table.
Anyway, the name of the show is "The White Mountains Revisited" and the work is to depict the White Mountains region in New Hampshire. I am slightly nervous about this. I usually avoid painting mountains as I am deathly afraid of them looking like mountains painted by Bob Ross, you know, the guy on PBS, with the afro and the "happy little trees?" I watched his demonstration show exactly once, twenty years ago, and to this day, whenever I see mountains, particularly snow-capped mountains, ALL I CAN THINK OF IS BOB ROSS AND HIS HAPPY TREES. This is not good. I think I will focus on "Revisited" and work another angle for this group of paintings.
So we have decided that we are taking a family vacation to New Hampshire early this summer and it will be my goal while we are there to figure out how to paint the White Mountain region without actually including any mountains. Maybe I can settle for a good hill. Hills don't bother me. Or I can do what I did with "Pink Mountain" - crop and use pink!