Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Figurative Workshop

Mother Nature is keeping me away from the weekly figure drawing class. On each of the last three Monday nights there has been some sort of big dramatic weather event and so I have not been able to make it to the class. I miss it greatly, especially now that something, besides myself, is keeping me away.

About a year ago I took a weekly class for a month with an instructor whose art I really admired. Unfortunately, it was a really bad experience and it pretty much messed me up concerning figurative work for the better part of the year. I am the first to admit that I am not a very good student at this point, but he seemed to dislike me personally. Everything I did was wrong, from how I laid out the initial marks to how I held my charcoal to my choice of paper. I am actually pretty confident about my drawing abilities, despite being a bit rusty, but he didn't seem interested in letting me "warm up" and wanted me to change everything before I had the chance to get into my groove. While there certainly is value in changing things up (which I am capable of doing on my own, thank you), I just wanted a chance to get some of my skills back. At the last class I attended, he handed me a book and said that it might help me. It was literally a "how to draw the figure" 101 book and it was all I could do to not throw it at his face. I still hear his words when I draw and it does not help me at all.

But now I am considering taking a week long figure drawing workshop this summer in Woodstock (my very favorite place) again, if my schedule permits. I took one a few summers ago and after day two, the instructor and I came to an unspoken understanding. He didn't try to change everything about how I worked and realized that letting me know when a certain aspect of the drawing wasn't working rather than quibbling with me about process was what I needed. And I was comfortable about asking him for advice as I certainly respected his skills. While he is a more traditional figurative artist, he seemed to appreciate my style and I enjoyed his workshop. It was also heaven to draw from the figure everyday for a week. That is the most important thing for me, but the instructor does make a difference.

I think I am ready now though to go back to Jon's summer workshop. I probably would have taken it last summer but besides still being a bit freaked out about figure drawing, I was also in the midst of finishing up work for the Cape Cod show the week that it was scheduled for. But this summer I am going to try and plan everything around that week. This year, I am totally ready to spend a week all by myself, in Woodstock NY, drawing the figure.

Now that's heaven!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This Time I Mean It

Big Pink Hill, 2006, Oil on Panel, 8x10

And so all of a sudden, I HAVE to get back to work. I have painted next to nothing during the entire month of January. There's no real block or anything, I just needed time off. In the last week or so I have been making noises about getting back to it-priming panels, gathering images, even doing a few underpaintings, plus a painting and a half.

But now I really must actually paint. Over the weekend, two of my galleries asked me for new work. It's very encouraging to have this kind of request of course, even if it will end my month long vacation. Heh. I was SO enjoying sitting around while the checks from the holiday sales were coming in, reminding me of the old days when I was actually productive and which feels like a dreamworld now. Anyway, Salt Meadow Gallery in Cape Cod needs some fresh work AND I have just been given another show there, which will be in July. The Harrison Gallery also needs new work because, and this is really exciting! of the approximately 21 pieces they had for my show, 14 of them have sold. Instead of having to bring home a batch of pieces from an exhibition, I will be delivering some more! That sure is a first for me. Also Multiple Impressions in NYC would like to see some larger pieces so I will have to get started on those.

I am looking forward to getting back to a nice relaxed painting pace. However, I suspect that when I get a busy spell I will look back at how little I did in January and curse myself for wasting all of that time!

Monday, January 29, 2007


Underpainting, 12x24

I have been hanging on to gift type boxes for the last year or so. Simple shapes, with lids and without, different sizes, different materials. I am a bit of a pack rat and I keep a lot of things that I have an affinity for somehow, such as glass bottles, vases, vintage food containers and I even have a good sized collection of plastic soldiers going. I guess I hope that someday I will find how to incorporate them into my work, but I also just like to keep things that I think are cool, or beautiful or that have some kind of meaning for me.

A few years ago I tried and tried to paint colored glass bottles. I loved the bottles so much and I felt more strongly about them than the landscapes. But I couldn't translate the bottles into a good painting. I wasn't ready to do it and it drove me crazy. Chastened, I went back to landscapes, and proceeded to throw myself into those, with some success, I think. But because I am never completely happy with the now, I kept daydreaming about which direction to go in next, even while I was frantically busy with barns and landscapes.

Last week when I realized that I better get back to work, at least a little, I thought it was a good time to experiment. After a long discussion with Doug, who helps me so much with all of this art stuff, I felt that it was time to pull out the boxes and see what happens. In my mind, I kept picturing paintings of simple box forms, in my usual palette and composition. Generally, I try not to do that, but this time I was able to come close to what I was thinking about ahead of time and the two pieces that I posted last week are a good start I think. I did a few more underpaintings on Saturday, including the one above.

However, I am struggling with how lame it feels to paint a still life. This bothers me because I actually like them, we have several still lifes by other artists in our collection and clearly some of the best and most well known art in history has the still life as its subject. When I was working with pastels about five years ago I couldn't stop feeling foolish about focusing on pretty little teacups, flowers and pears. I did them, loved the process and they were nice and still I wondered about their purpose. But I felt that same way about landscapes at first and so maybe the tension of all of that is what holds everything together for me. And after looking through my book about the paintings of Alberto Morandi, whose work I love, I felt a bit reassured about focusing on such simple forms.

Despite all of my over thinking (I might have a bit too much time on my hands right now), it was exhilarating to paint those boxes that I have been collecting. To set them up, do the underpainting and then make whatever changes I wanted. The colors are not true, I have changed the backgrounds, the foregrounds, nearly everything except the space and forms. Which is like my process with landscapes. So I think I will keep going and just see where I go.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I am Fine With Distractions

Boxes One, 8x10

Boxes Two, 8x10

As I mentioned the other day, I did actually squeeze some paint out on Monday and managed to get started on a few new things. There's no urgency, as I have no events coming up for several months so I must admit that doing any painting is pretty challenging for me right now. Perhaps that would be different if I hadn't worked last year to the point of burnout, but I did, so there you go. Painting was exhilarating and that stayed with me all day, but I have also had no problem allowing the rest of my life interfere with getting back to the work again.

Tuesday afternoon, Doug and I decided, at the last minute to go to Dreamgirls. The timing was perfect, we caught the first show with only 6 other people in the theater, and were able to pick up our daughter at the after-school activity on our way home to the others. We really enjoyed the movie by the way, (Eddie Murphy was excellent!) so I am glad we went.

Wednesday was a half day of school. I had our oldest son stay home from school because he had a bad cold and while he wouldn't admit it, he was not feeling well. Good thing he stayed home because it turns out that he was really sick, and without going into details let's just say that I spent the morning washing a lot of laundry originating from his room.

I did manage to get the underpainting done for a "sort of" commission (more on that later), before the others got home from school. My daughter had a friend over so most of the time they disappeared into a world of dress-up and Groovy Girls, and I was able to spend a few hours catching up on puttering around. I spent most of the afternoon adding music to my iPod and cutting up t-shirt cotton from the box-o-rags that I order from Rose Brand. I go through a lot of these rags in my painting process, so every once in awhile I have to pull a pile out from the box in the attic, wash and dry them, cut them into smaller pieces, then fold them and put them away in my studio. My son helped me with this yesterday, which is good practice for him as he is going to work as my assistant this summer. This little job looks easy and I always think it will go faster than it actually does, but it took most of the afternoon.
This morning I spent some time outside, taking my walk then shoveling, chicken chores, and filling the bird feeders. Then laundry, cleaning up and a long chat on the phone with my son's teacher. I would like to get back into my studio this afternoon however if another distraction shows up I will probably grab it. Despite being pretty excited about the boxes that I painted on Monday. I am putting up one of those pieces in addition to the other partially completed one. Tomorrow I will discuss them in more detail.

If I were to stand up right now and go into my studio I could get in a few hours work today. First though, a few minutes putting in another load of laundry, then I have to check on a few blogs...well maybe tomorrow I will get some painting done.Heh.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Photographic Byways

My husband, Doug is a true workaholic. So I was surprised when he decided to start up a blog in order to post his photographs. I think he will add some words at some point, but there is that whole working 14 hours a day and traveling every week thing, so I imagine it will be heavy on images.

So go say hi and soon I'll get him to at least describe a little bit about what he's doing with them. Doubt he'll go on and on about chickens, openings, concerts or how busy he is but that may be a good thing!

Monday, January 22, 2007


Desolation, 2006, Oil on Panel, 24x36

I received the DVD of my interview in the mail on Friday and I guess it has been airing in the Berkshire area for the last week or so. After getting over the initial shock of watching (and hearing) myself on the television (I have spent the last 12 years since we got a camcorder either filming or slipping quickly out of the room if Doug was filming) I thought it turned out quite nicely. The director did a great job of editing my comments and I actually seem, well, thoughtful. The things that I thought sounded stupid, even as I was saying them, surprisingly made some sense and I spoke at a good pace rather than too quickly which is usually what happens when I am nervous. I think that I did trip over my words a bit but all of that was magically edited out.

This was a really good way to get my feet wet doing taped interviews even though I sincerely hope that I will not be asked to do this again. Heh. It was very low key and the director, Patti, was lovely to talk with. Even though she was taking care of the technical aspects and was off screen, she was very responsive to my comments and we really were having a conversation. Well it was kind of stiff and formal on my part, but still.

I finally did some painting on Monday, which was so great, but I will have to discuss that later-today I am off to jury duty!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Jones Studies Art

Jones, our cat, very carefully studies a drawing by Doug's father.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Scratch That

Magenta Edge, 2006, Oil on Panel, 16x20

My happy limbo will be ending now. There has been an interesting turn of events up here in the last week and I need to get back to work, pronto.

Doug has a store down in the city, in Soho. It's been open for almost 2 years and he has gotten to know most of the other people who have businesses on his block. He has been pestering me to send my info to the gallery located just a few doors down, but I was so busy for much of the last 6 months that that seemed like an overwhelming task. However, now that I have had a break and since my website has been updated and is looking all spiffy, I decided to email the owner and send her the link to my site. The next day I received an email (just to balance things out however, I received no response whatsoever from the two galleries in Philadelphia that I also sent my link to) asking me if they could see a few pieces in person and so I sent four paintings with Doug when he went down to the city the other day.

I spoke with the gallery owner after their meeting, and she said she wanted to try out the work and see what kind of response they attract. She would also like to see, at some point, larger pieces, which would be more appropriate for their space. Needless to say, this is pretty exciting for a midwestern gal who has always had vague romantic notions of showing her art in NYC. While I certainly know that my work could totally bomb, I feel fairly confident that it won't. I have had several galleries try out my work this way and it has always gone well, usually resulting in representation and exhibition opportunities. I am also happy with this "easing" into a relationship with a new gallery. Less stressful all around, I think.

But my kids managed to remind me that there will be no time for my delusions of grandeur. I told them about it when they got home from school and my son's response was "Cool. What's for dinner?"

Happy Limbo

Purple Orchard, 2006, Oil on Panel, 16x20

Well, I haven't talked much here about painting or working in the studio much lately. Mostly because I haven't done much of either. I wouldn't say that I am having a serious post-show meltdown or anything. I am just taking a good long break after having worked so much from last July through the holidays. I do have to start getting back to it soon though or I may get myself into some real trouble.

I have been enjoying the break, but am also bored, but also don't feel like doing anything. Makes sense, huh? I have been pondering things though, like how I can do some experimenting now and that this is a good time to head in a different direction. Nothing drastically different but some slight shifts which are usually good. Last night, I finally had an incredible urge to dig into a good ol' landscape again though, so I suspect I will jump back in soon and keep exploring landscapes, barns and the houses that I have recently been interested in. I do feel as if I have more to say on those subjects, even on the landscapes that have been so irritating to me lately.

There is some puttering going on however-I did a few underpaintings the other day, one house and a few others with different subject matter-which I don't feel ready to discuss yet. And today there is something happening that could be really interesting-or not. I don't want to jinx it by discussing it in advance, I may have already said too much, but surely a vague hint won't hurt. Heh. I'll write more about that tomorrow when I hear what happens today.

But today I am off to have lunch with a friend-something I sorely neglected for the better part of 2006!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Beta Schmeta 2

Watch out, I am feeling very whiny and annoyed today. It's really cold outside and I am worried about my chickens. I can't keep up with the clutter in my house and I suspect that Jones, the cat is marking his territory in my studio. And blogger is really ticking me off.

Since I switched over to beta and the promise of all kinds of benefits, I have had continuous problems with posting images. Nearly every day there is some mysterious and unexplained "error in performing my request". For awhile I worked around this by loading images into a post (when blogger allows), saving it as a draft and then transferring the code to the new post. But today I had a post ready and wanted to include an image from my desktop but again, errors, errors, errors.

I have heard that Firefox is more compatible with beta blogger than what I use which is Safari. If I knew what any of that meant I'd switch over, but for now the thought of that makes me feel overwhelmed. As does switching my blog to another, whatever you call it-format? It's a miracle that I can even handle Blogger so the thought of moving makes me feel queasy too.

I suspect that any option is going to involve more time sitting at my computer, which I am trying to avoid. I am having kind of bad pain in my right elbow, which clearly is problematic for a right-handed painter. I am trying to use the mouse with my left hand (typing doesn't seem to be a problem) and so everything is taking much longer than usual.

Anybody else having problems loading images? It's not just me right? It's just typical that I would take this personally. Great, another "issue" to work on. I plan on cursing sporadically for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Walk This Way

Half Landscape, 2006, Oil on Panel, 24x24

Yesterday I mentioned taking a walk during an ice storm. The walk is something I try to do about every other day-with varying degrees of success of course. Sometime I go several weeks without taking it and sometimes I do it everyday for months at a time. Basically it is a walk around the block. But it is a country version of a block, meaning it is three miles, complete with hills, little traffic and wildlife. Part of it is a county road and the other two roads (up until a year and a half ago our road was gravel) are more residential. Well kind of-there are only four houses on those two roads. Our 60-ish neighbors down the road, faithfully do the walk at least several times a week, often with their house guests in tow. I am in awe of them.

Doug and I often take the walk together, sometimes the kids come and we usually take our dog Penny along. If we let her off her leash she runs about 25 miles, crashing through the woods and chasing deer and flushing out birds, while we walk the three and she is usually waiting for us on the porch when we get home. When Doug and I go we discuss many things, our finances, his company, my work, art, politics, the kids. It's a great time for us to have a conversation that is not interrupted by kids or the phone. When I go by myself I spend my time thinking about the future, such as what direction I'd like to take my work, the design for my studio if I can ever get it built, um, how to get it built, and some of my favorite thoughts are to imagine what I'd do with our money pit farm if one of the lottery tickets that I buy once in awhile were to actually be a winner. Of course by thinking about it I totally jinx myself and have no chance of winning. Anyway, I have always had a problem with thinking and obsessing too much about the future and what I will do rather than what I am doing, to the extent that it really affected the present. So over the years, I have learned to do all of my daydreaming and obsessing during my walks alone. This has really been a great help in my daily life as well as in my work as I have learned to curb my tendency to over think painting and its direction by saving my imagination for select periods of time. When I am not in the mood for my grandiose future, I try to deal with my real life by making various plans and trying to figure out how to organize my schedule.

Often I have to drag my butt out the door to take the walk, but by the time I get around the corner I am always glad that I did. And by the time I get home I am usually brimming with optimism and well-being. Part of it is the chance to indulge myself in the daydreams, but the other benefits are a result of watching how things change, or don't change along the route. I love taking the walk during dramatic weather, when it's pouring rain or when it's really cold and the snot freezes in my nose or even in the summer when the flies circle around my head and burrow into my hair. I don't think I'll ever truly be the outdoorsy type but this walk has gotten me pretty close to it.

This is a painting based upon one of the fields we pass along the way. It's usually filled with deer and that's generally where Penny parts company.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ice, Ice, Baby

We are in the midst of an ice storm here in upstate NY. Our power was out for an hour this morning and I suspect it could go down again, as the lines are a bit "sensitive" out here, even when there is no weather drama. Our satellite just came back up but that is sensitive too so I will make this short. I took a walk this morning and while the atmosphere was lovely and inspiring, there were a few moments when I worried about my survival. Ice covered tree branches were crashing to the ground all around me and about a mile from home, the icy rain really picked up and even the gravel shoulders became slippery. I made it home though and now feel justified in sitting in a nice comfy chair and knitting and/or reading for the rest of the day.

The kids are home from school, the house is a mess (which I am ignoring), and while I had planned to get back into the studio today, clearly it will have to wait until tomorrow. I am actually disappointed to have to wait another day and I am really disappointed that I will probably not make it to the figure drawing class tonight. So these are good signs that my break is over and that it is time to get back to painting.

Unless the old tree next to the house decides to come crashing down on our roof. That would be a distraction. Heh.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Second Guessing

Where the Light Is, 2006, Oil on Panel, 12x16

And so, because I tend to be the obsessive type, I have spent the last few days trying to figure out how I should have answered a few of the questions that Patti asked me in the interview last Saturday. She asked me several questions that were not on the list that she gave me ahead of time. The one that has really been dogging me was when she asked about what kind of advice would I give to young people about pursuing art. In the interview, I prattled on about how going to art school was really valuable to me and how making many sacrifices, including time and income would probably be necessary, blah blah blah. While those things are true, what I really should have said was this:

Put your heart into your work. Period. Many other things are important, like an education, observation, talent, imagination and discipline, but learning how to be honest in my work has brought me many rewards. Not financial (I would have totally smirked here) although that is good, of course, but the utter joy of expressing myself and connecting with others through that expression. And the heart and the honesty is what makes that possible.

That is what I should have said.

What would your answer be?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Press Release

Purple Garden Flowers, 2005, Oil on Panel, 8x8

I love it when other people write this stuff about my work.

Art and Bloom Gallery Talk
Featuring Matthew Mead, Stylist on the topic of Art-Inspired Floral Arrangements
Friday, January 26, 2007 – 11:30 a.m. at Anderson-Soule Gallery.
Nationally-renowned stylist and Concord, NH native, Matthew Mead of Matthew Mead Productions will be on hand to discuss his creative floral interpretation of personally selected Anderson-Soule Gallery Artist, Tracy Helgeson's work. Tracy's featured Art and Bloom paintings, both oil on panel, offer bold fuchsias and greens as she represents pink bee balm and hydrangeas in her purposefully direct and beautifully rendered close-up image details. The bright and lively colony of pink bee balm reaches into the light blue-grey sky above in contrast to the heavy full-blossom hydrangea piling in on itself in restful content as it reaches downward to the shadowed earth.
Matthew's masterful floral arrangement in response to Tracy's fine art will undoubtedly be stunning. Matthew strives and takes pride in offering stylistic design that is top-notch yet accessible. Matthew's work has been featured in several national magazines as well as on nationally broadcast television programs. He serves as Style Editor for Country Home magazine. He recently launched his own national magazine, Holiday with Matthew Mead and will have a new book out in March 2007 called Easter Eggs. We feel fortunate he will share his expertise with us first-hand as a featured speaker and one of seven floral arrangers demonstrating their professional skills in conjunction with the 2007 Art and Bloom Event held in cooperation with the Concord Garden Club.

I won't be able to attend this event so will miss out on being introduced to the audience, what a shame. Heh.

Snow Day!

I got the kids up as usual this morning, sent them out to the bus stop at the corner and while I was feeding the chickens and collecting eggs, the boys came back and said that someone stopped and told them that school was cancelled. I was surprised, because while we did actually have some snow last night, it didn't really seem too bad. However, the school district is probably itching to use a snow day, first one this year, um cause there has been no snow yet. Actually, it was clear for awhile and I thought I'd go to the grocery store, but now it is really snowing and we will all stay in today, except for a few good sledding runs of course. It will be a good day to get out that spinning paint splatter project, and the beaded purse kit that the girls got for Christmas. I'll bake some cookies and make chili for dinner. Things finally feel right around here this winter, at least today anyway.

Normally I'd be stressed out about losing a day of painting or at least by being distracted from work with everyone home. However, I have been taking a big old break from the studio. I have been reorganizing my office and doing paperwork this week. I have also been priming panels, but at a very leisurely pace-it has taken me three days to apply two coats of primer to the backs of two 3x3 panels. Not exactly burning through things lately.

It's been lovely...

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Figure Class

Ten Minute Pose.

I am pleased to say that as of yesterday, I did actually make a few steps towards keeping a few of my resolutions. I spent most of the day going through all of the papers on my desk that have been piling up since about August. I reorganized my whole desk and decided to buy a small file cabinet since my one file drawer is pretty full and I need to start more files. I should finish the office up today and will start on the studio tomorrow. THAT will take at least a few days if I decide to be thorough.

But the best part was that I went to the local figure drawing class last night. It was so great! I haven't done any figurative work since last spring and didn't realize how much I missed it until I started the warm up sketches. I felt like I had been beamed up to my mother ship. The model was wonderful. Because it is a small town here, we both thought the other looked familiar and after awhile I realized that she had been our waitress at a nearby restaurant a few times and she also works at our vet's office. She's curvy, did really great poses and didn't move an inch.

My drawings were another matter. Heh. There was only one rather wobbly easel so I just propped up my pad on a chair in front of me, which was fine but I couldn't really stand back to look at it, so I struggled with proportions a bit. My 2 minutes sketches were ok I think, and two of the ten minute drawings were decent. But clearly I am a bit rusty. The last pose was beautiful and there I managed to do the worst drawing (below). I couldn't get the arm, the gesture, anything. I was disappointed because it was such a nice seated pose and the light on her was just lovely.

I am planning to go each Monday, although this model will be returning to college and there will be different one, who will probably be clothed. But a clothed model is a good challenge too and so I will keep going.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Great Reception!

On Saturday we arrived early at the gallery in order to deliver a large painting. I had initially planned to include it in the show, but bailed out at the last minute because I thought maybe they wouldn't like it and I didn't want the poor thing to be turned down yet again. This was the same painting that was not included in a previous show, and even though I usually have a fairly thick skin about that sort of thing, I do admit that "editing" does affect me sometimes. Anyway, I was stupid to let that bother me because this gallery loved it and I must say that it looks great in their front window.

I also did the interview before the opening reception began. We set up in the back of the gallery and Patti and I chatted first and then she gave me some instructions. She would be off camera, but asking me questions, which wouldn't be included on the tape. So when I answered her questions I had to rephrase her question so that it would make sense. She also told me to look directly into the camera instead of at her while talking, which was surprisingly difficult. I suspect that my eyes will look a bit "shifty" as I kept glancing at her and then back to the camera. I think for the most part I did ok, I know I described my process pretty well, as well as why my painting style changed when I began painting again after a ten year hiatus. The places where I tripped up were talking about my influences, for some odd reason I could only think of a few of the artists whose work I have admired and studied over the years, duh! And I really floundered when I discussed one of my paintings and how I arrived at the finished piece. I should have concluded my awful description with how instinctive my process is and how difficult it is to put into words, but I couldn't even get that thought out of my head and into words. However, Patti seemed pleased and overall I think it went fine. I am very thankful for the editing process though and hopefully she will be able to make me seem thoughtful. heh. I will not be able to post the interview on the internet, but if you are just dying to see it, email me privately and I can give you info. It will be shown on WilliNet TV, Channel 17 and other public access stations in the Berkshire area starting in a week or so.

So once that was over I was able to take a closer look at the show, which looked beautiful! I could hardly believe it was my work hanging there. I am continually surprised at how much more intense my colors are in nearly every setting except for my studio! I have been told I should have better lighting at my easel but I don't think I want to mess with anything, as it is all working for me right now. I wouldn't say that a lot of people came but there were perhaps about 20 visitors throughout the evening. I was able to speak with nearly everyone and it seemed that most of them did actually come to meet me, so that was flattering. And everyone seemed very interested in hearing about my painting process. John MacDonald, who had the previous show there, came with his wife, Debbie, and we chatted for quite awhile. They had lived in a town near where we live in NY and we talked quite a bit about that. And I had a very lovely surprise near the end of the evening when two very familiar faces showed up in front of me-Roger and Adrienne Smith from The Main Street Gallery. Roger and Adrienne were one of the first to give me an opportunity to show my work in several group shows as well as a solo show last year. They were spending some time in the area, noticed that I was having this show and so they stopped by. Doug and I really enjoyed seeing them again, as it has been awhile.

I am also very pleased with the efforts put forward by the Harrison Gallery. They created a lovely atmosphere and it was obvious that their business is well-respected. I had heard before the opening that one piece had sold and when we got there I noticed that another, larger piece was sold, but in the hubbub surrounding the interview, I wasn't sure. By the end of the evening, six pieces had sold, including two to a couple that I had enjoyed talking with. I was also able to speak with another couple who bought a piece. I don't always get to meet the buyers of my work and so it is always a pleasure when I do have that chance. I am glad my work will have good homes!

But not to worry, I had my moments. At one point I was talking with the gallery owner and one of the fellows who bought a painting and I was holding a glass of water. I had both of my hands behind my back for a few minutes and spilled the last bit of water from the glass (I had thought it was empty) onto the carpeted floor. Of course it made a very suspicious splashing sound and they gave me a funny look but were polite enough not to say anything. I, however, turned about ten shades of red, immediately explained that I had spilled my water, and made some goofy joke about it. I was more worried about what they thought might have happened based on hearing water splash onto the floor from behind me! They laughed and someone mentioned that's why they don't serve red wine, but I was (and am) still good and embarrassed.

All in all, with the exception of my dorky moments (and what fun would it be without those?), it was a really good evening, one to remember.

PS.These pictures were taken by the gallery. True to form I brought my camera, but completely forgot about actually using it.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Opening at The Harrison Gallery

Cabin With Green Door, 2006, Oil on Panel, 16x20

Well, I have had a lovely break this last week and although I have enjoyed it I have also gotten quite bored doing nothing and have not been very productive regarding things outside of art either. I kinda cleaned the house yesterday, I sort of reorganized our laundry room and the coat closet and I didn't quite make it to the grocery store. Thankfully we have plenty of eggs and so breakfast for dinner was fine last night, but today I really must go to the store. Also, today I am going to do a few underpaintings so that I will have something to do next week. I am really intrigued with exploring the house images and so I think I may focus on that for a bit. I am pleased that the director accepted three of the house paintings for the show and am feeling some confidence about that direction right now. And she didn't have room for everything I delivered, and so a number of paintings came back. I actually have some inventory for now so there is no rush to do work to have on hand.

The opening reception is Saturday, January 6, 5-7pm at The Harrison Gallery, 39 Spring Street in Williamstown. MA. Just in case you are in the area, or live nearby. Heh. If not, you can see all of the paintings in the show on their website, although if you are a regular reader here, you have already seen most of them.

Oh and also, my website has finally been updated. My friend and I worked out a more business like arrangement, involving payment, and so now I feel comfortable asking for updates and he feels comfortable doing them. I finally got a stat counter on it as well, and it's been interesting to see the traffic. Some days there are just a few hits, but lately it has increased. I am getting a bunch of hits originating from StumbleUpon. It looks like an internet channel surfing site and I have no idea how my site showed up there, but I'll take it. I have gotten about 200 hits from it so far today!

Me on TV!

Waiting for Winter, 2006, Oil on Panel,24x30

One of my goals for this coming year is to get myself and my work into some art publications. It's not because I want the added attention. I don't really. I would really just prefer to paint and to attend the openings, write my blog and allow that to be the extent of connecting with others. However, I feel like it is time to make a little effort in order to move things along just a bit. It's also a good way to push myself out of my comfort zone. I don't plan to go crazy with this or anything. I will probably just send a few packets out. As much as I admire Alyson Stanfield's advice about artist's promoting themselves, frankly I am not comfortable with doing many of the things that that entails. I have a business card, but wouldn't dream of handing it out to everyone that I meet. I actually don't talk about what I do to everyone. I often enjoy having a conversation that DOESN'T revolve around art, or about what I do. I don't send out postcards or show notices very often, and in fact, I really don't even keep a very good mailing list. I just feel uncomfortable pursuing buyers and generally let the galleries that show my work take care of those things.

However, in an interesting coincidence, yesterday I received a request to participate in a project involving a series of conversations with artists whose work is being shown in the Berkshires. In a moment of blind optimism I agreed to do it. Instead of slipping into a short article in a print format, I am jumping right into the most uncomfortable of all situations for me, a videotaped interview! Holy crap! At least it will be shown only on local public access stations. I felt reluctant to turn it down, because I felt I should support the gallery's efforts, and then as I learned more from the director/interviewer, I decided that I could probably handle it. You know, without vomiting or fainting or otherwise making a fool of myself. It will be just us discussing my work at the gallery. She takes care of all of the technical aspects so there won't be a bunch of people watching or standing around, which makes me feel so much better (I am extremely uncomfortable in front of groups of people, which is one of the reasons I don't teach and why I will probably not do artist lectures. I say probably, because it is always possible that I will change my mind and get over it, but right now, just the thought of public speaking fills me with dread and nausea). Anyway, I am sure that the worrying about it beforehand will be the worst part, well, along with actually seeing and hearing myself on television.

Thanks to the galleries I have worked with, I have had a few chances to do publicity. I have only done one interview, which was for a college newspaper in Ithaca. The writer, a college student who looked like she was about 12, did a good job and even the photograph turned out ok. I've had one review, for the same show (at the Main Street Gallery in Groton, NY), which was published in the Syracuse Post-Standard. And last year I did participate in a gallery talk at The Arts Center in Saratoga Springs where I was in a three person show. I wrote about it here. And about a month ago I turned down an offer to do a radio interview in Concord, New Hampshire. It was partially a scheduling issue, but I also felt really overwhelmed about doing a radio interview at the time.

And so I think this will be fine. The director gave me the ok to wear black (evidently black can wash you out on video) which really helps me feel more comfortable believe it or not. And I am glad to be chipping away at least one of my New Year's resolutions after having a slow start with most of them.

1 through 3, so far and all of the personal ones have been disasters. Heh.


We woke up to this today:
And this was the back of the sunrise-just as beautiful as the flashy side.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

2007 New Year's Resolutions

Rose Barn with Shadow, 2006, Oil on Panel, 32x36

1. Organize and then KEEP my desk and paperwork up to date.

2. Keep my studio clean and tidy.

3. More studio time, less computer time.

4. Attend weekly figure drawing sessions at the local art association, even though the models are usually clothed rather than unclothed and even though it's on one of my favorite TV nights.

5. Develop new imagery for my oils.

6. Pull out some of the 7 million pastels sticks that I have (that are hidden from my kids who LOVE sidewalk chalk, if you get my drift) and play around with them a bit, without worrying about the following:

a). how to store the pieces
b). how to frame them or
c). how good they are OR
d). how bad they are and
e). whether the galleries will want to show them or not.

7. Work on getting some coverage in publications such as The Artist's Magazine.

8. Update my info and start sending my packets out again to galleries in cities such as NYC and Boston.

9. Save as much money as I can, in order to pay for a new building for my studio in 2008.

10. Um, earn more money for #9.

Resolutions 1 and 2 probably won't happen, but they are included just in case. I'll try to keep up, but will undoubtedly fall behind by about mid February and will fall back on my natural tendency, which is to let things pile up, then spend a few days organizing and catching up. Sometimes nature trumps a well intended resolution.

Resolution 3 is a tough one. I love and enjoy computer time. However it definitely cuts into my studio time plus I have also developed a sore right elbow which I suspect is the fault of my mouse. So I will settle for finding a better balance there. And I have already messed that one up by spending most of Monday and part of Tuesday reading blogs, googling Steve Prefontaine (we watched Without Limits Monday night) and how to raise sheep.

Resolutions 4-10 are long term goals and as my schedule permits, I will gradually take care of those throughout the year. I will probably discuss some of those more specifically in future posts.

My more personal goals are the same as every year since about 1978: lose weight (that's been modified in recent years to getting more exercise and avoiding sugar and flour, uh, which I'll start tomorrow, um maybe), be nicer/more helpful/more generous to others and to get a feathered haircut. Heh.

Monday, January 1, 2007

New Work

Side to Back, 2006, Oil on Panel, 18x24

Tangerine House, 2006, Oil on Panel, 16x20

Thought I'd post a few new paintings. I have been working on images of houses, and while they are not a huge departure from what I have been doing with the barns, I think there are some significant shifts. So I'll let you all chew on these until I post again on January 3rd. I have to drive to Williamstown on Tuesday to deliver my work to the Harrison Gallery.

When I get back I have plenty of things to do. My studio has been slowly creeping into our office space and now both rooms are due for a big cleaning and reorganization. My desk is a wreck and I have a ton of paperwork to catch up on. I prefer to be really organized but I also tend to let it go for periods of time and then spend some time going through everything. I am going to take a break from painting, only for a week or so however, I will be priming several panels and will soon have to start on a "sort of" commissioned piece. More on that later.

By the way, I meant to put up this post yesterday, but couldn't get any images attached. So it is going up tonight and I will be posting my New Year's resolutions on Wednesday. I wonder if I should include the resolutions that I have already broken? heh.