Sunday, December 31, 2006

Here Comes 2007

Barn Side, 2006, Oil on Panel, 16x20

A few thoughts about New Year's Eve.

I have always rather liked celebrating the new year. It's a holiday that doesn't require the politics of gifts and there is usually a good party involved. Everyone is happy and excited and hopeful about starting a new year, which while I find that puzzling sometimes (isn't every day the start of a new year?), it is also infectious, I must admit.

That said, while I have certainly had some memorable celebrations, until I met Doug they were mostly kind of pathetic and sad. I was trying too hard to have some kind of meaningful event on that night and it seldom happened. I did spent one walking along Penn's Landing in Philadelphia with a guy who looked just like the singer from Spandau Ballet (popular at the time), which was nice even though I never saw him again, and more than a few New Year's were spent at one or the other, or both, of my favorite dive bars, also in Philly. One year I was stuck in a car with a bunch of idiots, in the middle of nowhere in a snowstorm in Minnesota, and another year was three days of partying. Stupid, but the best way to avoid a hangover. At least when you're 20.

After I met Doug, things calmed down. We did end up at the bar the first year we were together, and one year we drove to Atlantic City. But after we moved to Utah and children began to arrive, I was mostly sleeping by the time the big moment arrived. Or breastfeeding. Or both. The last few years have shifted again and our kids are now willing and able to stay up and so we spend it together. The ball drops, we all kiss each other, they get hustled to bed and the lights are out by 12:30.

I imagine at some point we will be staying up until 2am again, worrying about our kids doing what we did as young adults. Totally can't wait for all that. Heh.

But this year, for the first time ever, we have a sitter, and Doug and I will be going out. We are going to go out for dinner and then to a party at a friend's house. We will probably be home before midnight because I can't think of a better place to be when the 2007 starts. With my husband, four kids, four cats, one dog and 21 chickens.

I wish you all a Happy New Year!!

PS. Blogger won't allow me to add an image today. I'll add one when they decide they can handle my request.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Version

Elkin's Barns, 2006, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Must paint all day today! But I am putting up a piece that will be included in the upcoming show. I did eight, 8x10's and all but one turned out. I still have a few days to go though, and I think I can get one more finished to make it an even eight again.

These are two of three barns located on our neighbor's property. I have painted them several times, with varying degrees of success. They seem to turn out best when I apply my own version of color rather than painting what they really are, which is a beautiful, worn down classic barn red.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Day After

Red Door, 2006, Oil on Panel, 8x10

So we had a lovely Christmas. But I am glad it's over (not so much into holidays, though I do like to give gifts) and I can forget about all the things I had to do or didn't get to. I get a clean slate until next December. We did manage to bake and decorate many, many sugar cookies, make a gingerbread house and Doug and I got the presents wrapped within an hour of the beginning of Christmas day. Pretty good for us. We didn't have time to make handmade gifts for the relatives, which is something we normally do and we also didn't have time to make a few new ornaments for the tree. However, I am finding as the years go by, that the things we didn't do, don't matter as much as the things we do accomplish and the time that we spend together. Well, except to my youngest daughter, who seems to retain every bit of that information and is ready to remind me of it all in a moments notice. heh. But she is young and will probably come around, as I have.

The cats spent a lot of time doing this:

Our dog Penny, was treated to many extravagant table scraps and I totally went off of my no sugar thing thing, thanks to Godiva chocolates and the aforementioned sugar cookies. The bright side is that I ate so many of both, I am actually looking forward to going back to not eating sugar again.

Everyone around here has new gifts to keep them occupied, we are relaxing the amount of screen time for the kids this week, and so I will have to take advantage of their distraction this week in order to finish up the last few paintings for the show. Posts may be light this week, but I will get back to my usual schedule in January.

Not sure what I will have to be chatting about cause I don't have anything going on until May! Whatever will I do with myself?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Normally, I don't specifically discuss the kids too much as my focus here is generally art (um, MY art, to be exact!), but we made this card to send out to our real life friends and so I think it qualifies. My son was the art director and he took the photos, my youngest daughter did the illustrations and Doug did the photoshopping. And as always, I was in charge of actually getting them into the mail. Late, of course.

I have been so busy trying to finish up the work for the show in January that I have sorely neglected Christmas activities. Actually, that's not quite true-the last few weeks have been filled with constant interruptions to my studio time, all involving various holiday events, that we couldn't skip, such as parties, concerts and shopping with and for the kids. I've managed to do the minimum of preparing for the holidays and for the show, but shortchanged both a bit in the process. My grand plan to finish everything for the show by mid-December turned out to be a silly daydream.

However, I am close to done. AND I have a respectable number of pieces finished or nearly finished. I am going to start a couple more large pieces today and will get back to them on Tuesday. I feel confident that I will be able to finish them before January 2 and if not, I do still have enough paintings anyway. Besides working on the large paintings next week I will have to paint the cradles, attach the hangers and do paperwork, etc. That won't take too much time though so I will have some time to relax and hang out with the kids. Provided they can tear themselves away from the electronics they will be getting from Santa/Hannukka Harry. But maybe someone will want to play Scrabble with me, or read a book or do a quilting project as he is delivering those gifts too, just to balance things out.

Anyway, the next few days will be a blur of housecleaning, baking cookies, wrapping gifts, unwrapping gifts, eating and playing games. No painting on the agenda and I am going to leave the computer off until Tuesday morning. Probably.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Different Kind of Art

During my years as a full time, stay at home, breastfeeding, cooking, organizing, diaper and spit up cleaning super mom, I embraced homemaking. I taught myself to sew, knit and to cook. I made all of the kid's snacks, I found cracker recipes, healthy cookie recipes and I made all of our meals from scratch. Some were complete disasters but for the most part I have turned out to be a pretty good cook. I don't make really elaborate food, I am a bit too lazy for that, but I am great with the basics. With the exception of omelets. I have never been able to make a good omelet. So that is part of Doug's repertoire, along with pancakes, fried matzo and quesadillas.

Now that I am working as an artist, I don't have as much time to cook. And I sure miss it! I still make a homemade dinner most of the time, but I admit to letting in those prepared, fake chicken nuggets and packaged french fries once in awhile. And since I am trying to limit my sugar intake, I hardly bake at all anymore. But the holidays are here and I have an excuse to make a few desserts, which I will take to parties and other people will eat them, not me. Well with the exception of a bit of the batter. Heh.

While I don't plan to compete with this blog, I thought that just for today, I'd put up one of my favorite (and fairly easy) dessert recipes. Feel free to put up your own recipes in the comments section too. I always love a new recipe.

This recipe is from one of those magazine type, recipe books from the shelf in the check out line in the grocery store. I have been slightly obsessed with those over the years and have 9,693 of them on my cookbook shelf.

Chocolate-Glazed Fudge Cake

1 cup butter
16 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tsp vanilla
6 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tbs light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 tps chopped toasted hazelnuts or other options:
raspberries, strawberries, chocolate shavings, edible flowers or glitter, sprinkles

Heat oven to 350. Grease 8" round cake pan. In medium saucepan, melt butter and 16 oz chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 tsp vanilla. Gently stir in eggs until well combined. Pour into greased cake pan. Place cake pan in 13x9 pan. Add water until 1" deep.

Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until center is set. Remove cake from water bath; place on wire rack. Cool 40 minutes.

Carefully run knife around edge of pan; invert cake onto wire rack. Cool an additional 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small saucepan, combine whipping cream, corn syrup, and 1 tsp vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add 3 oz of chocolate: stir until melted and smooth.

Place cake on serving platter. Pace pieces of wax paper under cake to catch drips. Slowly pour glaze over tops and sides to cover. Sprinkle hazelnuts (or other garnish) around top edge of cake. When glaze is set, remove wax paper. Store in refrigerator.

I am making this today (in between paint glazes) and will take it to a party at my daughter's girl scout troop leader's home. It's a bit too intense for kids but I think the adults will understand the concept of a cake made of eggs, butter and chocolate!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Down to the Wire

Farmhouse in Light, 2006, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Just a really brief post today. I must spend all day painting and ignoring the evil computer that keeps luring me back to it. On Tuesday, I didn't get one single thing done in the studio. I spent the morning doing office related stuff, corresponding with galleries, and that sort of thing. Then Doug and I went out for lunch and did a bit of shopping in order to even out the pile of gifts for each of our kids. Actually, I am exaggerating, we cut back dramatically this year, there's no pile, but we did have to even things out. The kid's bus showed up about a half hour after we got home and that's all she wrote for the day's work.

This week the countdown really starts. Only three more days of school left, of uninterrupted (sort of-there are always phone calls or people at the door or other things that come up) time to work. And then just another week to finish up several more paintings before I have to deliver them on January 2nd. I hope to get most of the serious painting done by Friday, although I am planning to start a couple of larger pieces today so I will be trying to finish them up while the kids are home during their vacation. Hopefully glued to the new computer that Santa will be giving them. Shhh. Don't tell!

Flower Show

Pink Bee Balm, 2006, Oil on Panel, 16x20

About a month ago I was asked by the Anderson-Soule Gallery to participate in an upcoming event called Art and Bloom. The exhibit would include paintings with a flower theme and then several floral designers will come in, select a painting that inspires them and design a floral arrangement that will be displayed along with the piece for several days in the gallery. The gallery was requesting two paintings, fairly large in size.

Even though I was in the midst of preparing for the show in January, I said I would like to be included. I said yes for a couple of reasons. I thought this project sounded kind of interesting. I like to paint flowers and haven't done any for quite awhile. At least not any that haven't ended up in the sand down pile. And I have difficulty turning down a good show opportunity as I am definitely still working my way up the ladder. Turning down good offers does not seem to be a good way to do that.

Over the past year or so I have noticed that with all of the galleries I work with there is an ebb and flow. Sometimes there is a lot of activity - shows, sales, gallery events and then at other times things are pretty quiet. This has definitely been the case with Anderson-Soule. I began working with them in the spring of 2005 and nothing sold for months. I was pretty sure they would drop me. But then at the holidays, they sold all of my paintings that they had in their inventory. I gave them another batch and they have sold a few of those. Then they invited me to be in the White Mountains show, then the barn show and now this. All at the same time essentially. Coordinating this, along with the ebb and flow of the other galleries I work with has been a real balancing act this last year!

Anyway, the deadline for the flower paintings was tight - they needed jpegs by December 15th, and the paintings by January 2nd. Right away after I agreed to participate, I did the underpaintings. Then I had my little meltdown, then I worked on other paintings, then I kept looking at them and was worried about them turning out so I held off again. It had been a long time since I have done a good flower painting and I was apprehensive. But the deadline was approaching so finally last week I held my breath and jumped in. I am not sure what happened or how, but the first one (pictured above) just painted itself. One day of work and it was finished. I almost wept. The other one (pictured below) gave me more trouble. I had difficulty getting the right colors and so I wiped off a lot of paint. Doug gave me a few good suggestions and after a few more painting sessions, I was finally able to get it finished. It has a different feel than the first one (which I really like), but I am pretty happy with it as well.

Phew! Another one in the can.....

Heavy Hydrangeas, 2006, Oil on Panel, 18x24

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Panels, iPods and More Poop

Deep Dark Field, 2006, Oil on Panel, 18x24

Hmmm. Ok, well I didn't get around to posting an image of the magnesium green chicken poop inspired painting this weekend. Sorry. Hope I don't get fired for that. heh. I am including an image of the offending matter below, if you are interested in looking at some virtual person's chicken's poop.

I actually felt that the painting needed a bit more work so I did that on Saturday and then it was a terrible dark dreary day with no good light on Sunday. Plus I was very busy priming the backs of some larger panels that I plan to start this coming week while simultaneously updating my new iPod. Having babies greatly improved my multi-tasking skills. Anyway, I went through all of my CD's and downloaded the songs that I wanted and now I have almost 1200 songs on it! I am very excited to start listening today. I have a great combination of all of my older favorite songs as well as some new music that I recently purchased.

When Doug came back from the city last week he brought some panels sized 36x36 as well as a few other similar sizes from Soho Artist Materials. I am just loving those birch panels even though they require much more preparation than the ones I usually use. I will gradually switch over to using those panels exclusively, I think. They have more of a solidness and quality about them than the Ampersand cradled panels. It will be hard to give up the painting surface of the Ampersand Gessoed panels though. They are the perfect surface for me and I suspect I will grieve a bit while I try to get the same thing going on the birch.

I will look at the bright side though. A slightly different surface could have a positive effect on my work and there's no drawback to using a higher quality support.

PS. I have a number of paintings that I needed to get photographed. Since my best spot is currently occupied by our Christmas tree, this morning I tried about 14 other locations throughout the house as well as outdoors. None of them worked very well and so finally, completely annoyed, I moved the tree, decorations and all, across the room, (thank you, smooth wood floors), took the shots and slid it back. Felt like an idiot but it worked. I suspect I may have to do this at least one more time before we take the tree down. On December 26, if I have my way.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Stay Tuned

A post without an image! A fairly rare occurrence here in Tracyland. heh.

I did end up doing several paintings that incorporated the chicken poop color, Magnesium Green. Surprisingly the color was a bit too intense for my liking, believe it or not, and so it took some doing to wrestle it down to where I prefer my colors to be. I know that my palette looks intense, however, each layer of color glaze is surprisingly subtle, at least in real life.

But alas, I have a very busy day going and I must get some time in my studio before my kids get home. And since our Christmas tree is now located in the only spot in the whole house that is perfect for photographing my paintings, I don't have a good image of either painting yet.

As soon as I have some time and can figure out how to get a good shot of it, and if the light is good and the stars are in proper alignment, I will post one of the images, probably over the weekend.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Chicken Crap

Color Fields, 2006, Oil on Panel, 8x10

I have been spending too much time on the computer lately. Despite making a promise to myself each day that I will not. But sometimes it really pays off.

Recently while doing a blog search for "bare spots on chicken back" (I eventually came to the conclusion that the roosters are being um, too rough during their amorous attentions) I came across several interesting chicken blogs. Well they're interesting if you have chickens, that is. heh. One of them had a suggestion for something that would keep chickens busy - hang a cabbage in their coop and they would go crazy pecking at it. It spins, is edible of course and eventually it will burst into a show tune and encourage the chickens to do a line dance. Just kidding. At the grocery store, the other day, I bought some cabbage heads. Because color is an important part of my life, I decided on the purple cabbages. Why put up the ordinary green cabbages for the chickens when I have the option to hang a beautiful cabbage with colors that change with the light?

So yesterday I put it up. The chickens were wary at first, but eventually one of them made contact. Then they all dug in. A few hours later I went back out to collect eggs and saw that the cabbage had completely disappeared. Then I noticed their poop. Big chunks of the most gorgeous, colorful chicken shit ever.

Grumbacher's Magnesium Green. I am not kidding. A stunning combination of cerulean blue and chromium green with a little cap of flake white. And so today I am off to work in the studio and I will be adding magnesium green to my palette just to see what happens.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More Structures

I'm still working each day in order to finish up the paintings for the show coming up in January. You can see info about the show here. Scroll down to the bottom.

I am trying to do a variety of landscapes, and landscapes that include structures, such as barns. However, lately I am really feeling uninspired about the regular landscapes. I have to really work to get a landscape out of me these days, and the failure rate is rising on those. I am finding myself much more intrigued with painting the barns, and I am also interested in adding houses. When we took our recent trip to NH, I took numerous photographs of the big, square boxy houses near downtown Portsmouth. Yesterday, I did several underpaintings which superimposed those buildings into a rather stark background. It's kind of risky to be experimenting with imagery so close to a deadline for a show, but the structures aren't so far off from the barns that I have been doing for the last year or so. In fact, they are quite similar.

This feels like a natural, yet still exciting direction for me to take. Probably the timing isn't so good. However, if they fail miserably, I have enough work completed, or nearly completed for the show. The challenge for me with painting houses (well, anything for that matter) is to not get too busy with all of the details. While that is my tendency, the more simple imagery and treatment is generally more successful. Actually, I think it's the struggle to balance the two that is successful.

I am putting up the new underpaintings. The houses are the single image on the easel, and the bottom piece in the stacked pieces in the other photo, which also includes a landscape and a barn. At this point the houses and the barns are almost interchangeable, but I will try to take them in somewhat different directions at the color stage.

Well, that's the goal, anyway. There is an equally good chance that I'll end up adding a few more panels to the sand down pile.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Lady Ostapeck

Lady Ostapeck

When we moved here about three years ago, I couldn't help but notice a very "unique" home on the road to town. The house was extremely run down, sagging and unkept. The yard was filled with junk. Chipped statues, segments of iron fencing, spray painted wicker furniture, etc. But there was a bit of whimsy about it all and I couldn't help but look for new items every time I drove by. After awhile, I learned that the woman who lived in the house was Lady Ostapeck. I had already heard much about her as she had recently turned 85 and the whole town had a party for her. There were many articles about in the local papers and I certainly thought she seemed interesting, if a bit eccentric.

Later on that winter, I had several dreams which included her and so I took that as a sign that I was supposed to know her. One snowy Sunday in March, I made some cookies and went over to meet her. She immediately invited me in and the minute I walked in the door, I was in a daze. Her house is filled top to bottom with stuff. I mean more stuff that you could ever imagine. I can't even describe how much stuff is in her house. Chairs, stools, handbags, statues, birdcages, typewriters, books, photography equipment, bottles, costume jewelry, plastic flowers, etc etc etc. There was a little path to two chairs in the living room where we sat and chatted. She seemed glad for the company and went on and on about old friends, life in the country and photographers whose work she admired. She was very interested in me-my heritage (I have found since that she asks everyone where their family originates), my children and my work. She especially enjoyed the fact that I stopped by because of the dreams. I learned later that she's a big believer in signs.

Since then I have often stopped by to visit her and to take her food. She is almost 89 and doesn't always eat as she should, so there are several of us who keep an eye on her and her kitchen. I also see her often at the local church dinners, art openings and other events. She doesn't always remember me at first, but a reminder that I am "the artist down the road" usually works and we pick up right where we left off the last time we visited. This last Saturday night I was her driver/escort to the annual "Victorian Stroll" held in Cooperstown. This is another one of those historical events that our seemingly perfect small town revels in, especially at the holidays. Normally this is the kind of event that makes me want to gag but everyone involved was so enthusiastic, I couldn't help but feel that way also. The main street was closed to traffic, was lit with candles, there were horse drawn carriage rides and a live Nativity scene. Because she has an extremely extensive collection of historical costumes she loaned many of them to the volunteers who dressed up and walked along the Main Street providing a glimpse of the past. Lady and I walked up and down the street and she stopped and spoke with everyone, And when I say everyone, I am not exaggerating. It took us an hour to walk two blocks and to take one of the carriage rides. Finally we settled into a table at the window of the Doubleday Cafe, with a perfect view of the the passersby. All of whom waved at Lady or came in and chatted with her. As the event wound down, we ate our dinner and chatted and she told me more about her past and how she came to live in upstate NY alone in 1960. It was a lovely evening and I really enjoyed it. Despite the fact that she constantly chided me for not wearing a hat. She can't understand why women don't wear hats anymore, insisting that men can't resist a woman wearing a hat. A bit of advice if anyone out there is looking for a man. Heh.

Anyway, she has the true spirit of an artist and while the photographs she takes have perhaps been spoiled by the similar kinds now taken at a booth in the county fair, her heart is in every photo she takes (and she still works, believe it or not) and they are really amazing to see and experience in real life. She spends a lot of time getting to know her subjects, discussing their family heritage, their hopes and dreams and how they see themselves. She then decides on costumes and puts together a scene, using the objects in her overstuffed home and barn.

Lady is also a reminder to me that I don't need a fancy studio (I know, I always complain about needing more space. I should stop.) or supplies. Every picture she takes is a set-up in her tiny, overcrowded front room-a table by a north facing window and 100 year old 4x5 camera (no flash) that cost her $50 at the Salvation Army, four feet away. She develops the film in her tiny, overcrowded bathroom and retouches the actual negative in her workspace which is a tiny, overcrowded closet.

I hope you will visit her website and read more about her. She really is an inspiration.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Beta, Schmeta

Just a quick note. I finally switched over to beta blogger and naturally, I am now unable to post a comment in my own comment section. So if you don't get a pithy response from me to your much appreciated comments, don't take it personally.

I am sure blogger will soon fix this little snafu in the the new fab system that they are heartily encouraging us to switch over to. Heh.

Update: So of course the very minute I posted this, my comment was accepted. But I am leaving this post up in case I am refused acceptance again at some point.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Chicken Update

#1 Rooster

#2 Rooster

At The Fence

Speckly's Head

So until today I have really enjoyed the chickens. Today it isn't so great. It's four degrees (I am not exaggerating), really windy and I nearly froze while doing my daily little chicken chores. I will spend the day worrying about them-they are cooped up inside their small chicken house and their water was frozen this morning. We may have to figure out a way to get an extension cord to the coop to at least put a warmer under their water.

Anyway, we started out with 27 little chicks back in early June. Over the summer, one of the white chickens developed an impacted crop and despite my efforts (days of holding the chicken upside down and pulling stuff out of its mouth), it ended up dying. In September, I gave five hens to our neighbors, whose flock had diminished slightly over the last few years.

We were left with 21 brown egg laying hens. Or so we thought. One morning while I was getting the kids out the door to the bus stop, we all thought we heard a suspicious crowing sound from the chickens. Over the next few days it developed into a distinctive rooster's crow. We were supposed to get layer hens but they missed a few obviously and we have not one but two roosters. They are beautiful though and so far have not given us any trouble. Everyone we know who has roosters says that they are trouble. Some friends of ours who got chickens around the same time as we did ended up with two roosters also and they caused such a problem that both of them have been "eliminated" from the flock. Anyway, one is in charge, but they both get a lot of action, if you know what I mean. Many lovely young ladies to choose from. I have heard that when they are about a year old they start to fight and if that happens, one of them may become a free ranger, And, well if something were to befall him, like a fast car or a coyote, so be it...We have had a few scuffles but they have been resolved quickly. A few weeks ago the #1 Rooster started to give me a hard time when I was in the chicken yard. He kept coming at me, jumping up at me and squawking. I kicked him (not that hard) in the chest and he backed off but still gave me attitude. So I called Penny, our killer dog (she's a sweetie, but has a tendency to hunt, kill and eat small animals, including birds), and she came in and sat inside the fenced yard with me and the chickens. This immediately chilled out the #1 Rooster and he hasn't given me a hard time since. Clearly I am #1. Well, along with Penny.

Some of the hens are more friendly with me than others. A few of them always come up to me and follow me around, two will let me hold them and one of them always unties my shoelaces. They all have their quirks and it is fascinating to sit and watch their activities. They seem to be stupid at first, but then you can see that there is a purpose in their actions and sometimes do very smart things. They are also amazingly perceptive.

We started getting eggs in September. At first there just a few each day and some of them were kind of wacky. They had soft rubbery shells that you could just tear open. Or they had wrinkly shells or were perfectly round instead of well, egg shaped. But those disappeared and we gradually collected more each day. Despite the short days and cold weather now, which affect egg production, we are getting around a dozen eggs a day. Clearly we can't eat that many, so basically we give a dozen eggs to anyone who stops by. Yesterday I gave a dozen to our dentist when I took one of the kids in for an appointment. Our neighbors are set as well. And the flavor of the eggs! It's amazing how tasteless and bland the store bought eggs are in comparison.

Raising chickens has been a really great experience. I have learned that I am capable of things that I never dreamed possible, like trying to save a dying chicken. heh. I love hearing the roosters crow, they are very polite and wait until dawn and it just seems perfect out here to have crowing roosters. We had a lot of company over the summer and the highlight of the visit for their kids was holding a chicken. It's surprising how many kids never have a chance to hold a chicken. Based on the success of this project, and because we have a real barn and 22 acres, we are actually considering getting a few goats and maybe even some sheep next year. So stay tuned!

Egg Scale

Thursday, December 7, 2006

iPod Heaven

Summer Ski Run, 2006, Oil on Panel, 18x24

I had a lovely birthday yesterday and thanks so much to all of you for your good wishes. Doug and I went out for lunch, did a few errands and then I spent the afternoon in the studio. I feel lucky that my work isn't really work-on a day that I could justify taking off, I preferred to spend the afternoon doing what I love.

We had a nice dinner and then the gifts! My youngest daughter, the one who "borrows" every pen in the house (I once found, literally, 22 pens under her bed) gave me my very own special pen, one that she and everyone else promised not to steal from my desk. I also received a book, Fury by Salman Rushdie, and a vintage egg scale and egg carton (will show those in tomorrow's update on our chickens). My dear husband, after being hit on the head with my hints for the last six months gave me the new super deluxe tricked out iPod. It plays videos, not my favorite feature as I have a life that does NOT revolve around watching music videos on a 1.5x2 inch screen, but of course they all play the videos now. But the best part is that it will hold 20,000 songs! My old iPod (now a charming antique) only held 1,000 songs, which seemed like a lot at first but over the last year I found myself removing the music from CD's that I had downloaded in order to add new music. Now I can put Bob Dylan, U2 and Tom Waits back on! I have really liked having my music on an iPod for the last two years. The shuffle feature is great and since listening to music is a big part of my day, as well as crucial to my studio time, the convenience of the iPod has just been amazing.

Oh yeah, yellow cake with white frosting and big purple flowers. And ice cream. We were all in a sugar coma after.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006


Solid Red Barn, 2006, Oil on Panel, 18x24

On this day in 1964, the day I was born, KTVR TV channel 13 in La Grande, OR (PBS) began broadcasting.

On this day in 1969, four people died during a free concert given by the Rolling Stones at Altamont. One of the deaths was a stabbing that occurred near the stage. The three other deaths were accidental.

On this day in 1973, Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the vice-president of the United States after vice-president Spiro Agnew resigned.

On this day in 1993, The Eagles taped a video for Travis Tritt's version of "Take It Easy" which led to their reunion (I love the Eagles).

The number one song in America the week I was born was Ringo, by Lorne Greene. Since that was a rather disappointing discovery especially since it was the year that the Beatles ruled the world, I'll add that the number one song that week after I was born was Mr. Lonely by Bobby Vinton. Not much better, unfortunately.

I share a birthday with the following people:

1421 Henry VI king of England (1422-61, 1470-71)
1843 Albert de Vriendt Flemish historical painter/etcher
1896 Ira Gershwin lyricist ('S Wonderful, I Got Rhythm)
1898 Alfred Eisenstaedt photo journalist
1904 Eve Denise Curie, French pianist/author/daughter of Madame Curie
1906 Agnes Moorehead Clinton MA, actress (Endora-Bewitched)
1913 Eleanor Holm New York NY, 100 meter backstroke swimmer (Olympics-gold-1932)
1920 Dave Brubeck, Concord California, jazz pianist/composer, Gates of Justice
1932 Don King Cleveland OH, boxing promoter (Muhammud Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson)
1941 Richard Speck mass murderer (killed 8 student nurses in 1966)
1948 JoBeth Williams Houston TX, actress (Kramer vs Kramer, Poltergeist)
1952 Terence Knox Richland WA, actor (Peter-St Elsewhere)
1953 Thomas Hulce, Plymouth, Michigan, actor, Amadeus, Equus, Echo Park
1955 Steven Wright droll comedian (Steven Wright Live)
1956 Peter Buck US pop guitarist (REM-Murmur)
1956 Randy Rhoads Santa Monica CA, rocker (Ozzy Osbourne-Flying High Again)
1963 Janine Turner Lincoln NE, actress (Maggie-Northern Exposure)
1971 Ryan Wayne White born with hemophilia, later to contract AIDS from blood-clotting products.
1971 Richard Krajicek Netherlands, tennis star (Wimbledon-1996)

I will spend the rest of today being pampered and catered to by my husband and children. The kids are always exceedingly happy when someone has a birthday. Mostly because of the cake, I suspect.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Snow! Finally.

Lavender Light, 2005, Oil on Panel, 5x7

So I did pretty well in the studio yesterday. I decided to stop thinking and worrying about my palette and just put the colors down that seemed right. It was great to have feedback from you guys about how my paintings don't seem to be green or yellow, that the dominant colors are the blues, pinks and purples. So thank you, because hearing that was extremely helpful.

I wouldn't say I was particularly productive however. I managed to get color down on two pieces, but I was distracted by a heated conversation on another blog. I behaved badly and out of character there and am terribly embarrassed about it, so I am not going to link it (I edited out my worst comment, anyway), but I have made my apologies and will be much more careful in the future. However, the distraction may have helped me a bit from obsessing on my color issues, so maybe it wasn't all bad. I sure felt awful last night though!

But today is a new day, and I have to say that I am very happy about the snow that has finally arrived. While it was nice to have such warm weather in November (which gave me endless opportunities to clean up my flower garden, none of which I took advantage of-they are still a mess) I felt uneasy about it as well. Like many, I have my suspicions about the strange weather patterns of late and so the delayed winter feels bittersweet to me. I was comforted this morning by the sound of the plow and the white reflective light coming through our windows. I am skipping the spin bike today. I will bundle up and go for a walk instead.

I am probably one of the only people in America who loves the shorter days and cold and snowy nights. I love to snuggle up in our softly lit farmhouse, eat dinner when it's dark and then curl up early in bed with the kids, talk, read and tuck them in. Then later I watch TV and knit or read, with the wind and snow blowing outside. I love all of that.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Incrementally Better

Yellow Sky at Dawn, 2006, Oil on Panel, 16x20

Thank you all so much for your wonderful words of encouragement, understanding and reassurance in response to my exceedingly depressing post on Friday. Oh, and the dose of reality from Chris was good too. Heh. Not to mention the great new ideas for imagery from Lauren, Chris and Lisa. Nudes in front of barns. Nude Chris in front of barns. Definitely an avenue for me to pursue....

As I mentioned in the comments, Doug had read my post while I was out doing an errand. Despite the fact that he had been out of town for 3 days and he had a pile of work waiting for him, he dragged me up to Utica to look at some art, in real life. Such a good guy. The Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute is a fine arts center which has a really impressive collection of fine art, an arts education program and a performing arts division. We had heard much about their collection but had never taken the time to drive up there to see it. During the 40 minute drive we talked about my little breakdown and Doug asked me specific questions about what was going on when I get to the point of being blocked. I had to think about it a bit and then explain it to him so that he could understand, which actually really helped me understand things much better myself. I have been feeling as if I use the same colors in nearly every painting that I do. Specifically green and yellow. Even though I use about a hundred different kinds of greens and yellows, they are still pretty much just green and yellow. To me those seem like such realistic colors, especially when used on the land and foliage areas, and I since I don't really go for realism, it's really been creating a conflict for me. It was good to realize that, but I am still not sure what I will do about it. However, Doug assured me that he didn't feel that green and yellow were at all dominant in my paintings, that they were more the "work horse" colors. So I will be readjusting my beliefs about color and its placement and perhaps that will help me move forward again.

Anyway, the Arts Institute has a great collection and we really enjoyed looking through it. I'd say their prize piece is Number 2, 1949 by Jackson Pollock. It is one the drip paintings, painted on a very long piece of deep red sailcloth. It was displayed so that the back of it was visible and looking at that was almost more interesting than the front. There was an accompanying video playing that described the piece and recent restoration efforts, because as many of you know, Pollock's work has deteriorated quite a bit over the years due to the materials he used. The video spent a lot of time discussing Pollock's reasons for choosing the dark red surface, including the possibility that he was influenced by his western upbringing or his appreciation for Native American art. I was kind of thinking that maybe it was just a cheap piece of canvas that he had come across, but maybe that's just me. Other artist's work on display were Edward Hopper (a kind of mediocre landscape-but it had that light) Maurice Prendergast, David Smith, Andy Warhol, Philip Guston.

We got home right before the bus. And then my real life as a chauffer/mother took my mind off things. As did Saturday's activities which included timing at a swim meet, much careful scheduling to get everyone else where they had to go, baking cookies, and going to a real grown-up party that evening. Something we rarely do and which was great fun!

Sunday, I spent most of the day catching up on office stuff. I did a little painting, but not much. I didn't want to push it. I did work a bit on the last piece the I did and I didn't make it worse. So I will call that successful, for now.

I am keeping my fingers crossed about today's time in the studio.

Friday, December 1, 2006

The Real Meltdown

Light Beyond the Dark, 2006, Oil on Panel, 16x20

Well, folks, I have to admit that I am really struggling here. I know it'll pass, I know that I haven't permanently lost my ability to paint but right now it feels as if I can't do anything right. Actually, that's only partially true-the underpaintings I have done recently have been good. It's the color that has really been giving me a hard time. I just can't seem to get the colors right. I can't decide what to start with and I keep envisioning which color would come next-which paralyzes me. Normally I don't think that much when I am doing the color, but now I can't stop thinking. I feel as if I keep using the same colors over and over, even though I am not. I feel blocked when I sit down and look at all of my paint tubes to decide what to start with for the day. None of them look appealing to me lately.

To make it worse, of the seven images I sent to the gallery for approval, two were rejected (including the one above). I know they aren't awful, they just may not appeal to the director for whatever reason. And none of the new pieces will be included on the postcard. That image will be of a piece that is already in the gallery's inventory. It's a nice piece and it will look great. But still. The timing of all of this is just bad. I had a very unproductive day in the studio Thursday, only getting color onto one single, stupid painting. And I am really starting to feel the pressure to get this work finished and I am worried that I won't be able to pull it out of the bag, so to speak.

Now this is a true post show meltdown. Not the one I lightheartedly joked about a few weeks ago but the real one, the nasty one that strips me of all of my confidence and energy and vision.

But today is another day. And I will try again.