Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Endless Love

The vegetable garden and the beehive in the back corner.

Doug and I spent nearly all day Sunday and Monday in a marathon session of sex. Just kidding. We spent both days, outside, working in the gardens. The kids were notified that they would get little if any attention from us for two days, unless they decided to help us out. Which they each did for about an hour then reveled in their freedom from parental supervision.

Anyway, Doug does the vegetable garden and as it is actually located in our pasture in the back, keeping the weeds at bay is a major challenge. They had grown up quite a bit last year (um, mostly because we didn't keep up with them) and we wanted to expand our planting area this year. So he rented a tiller and was out there at 7am Sunday morning mowing and then tilling in order to get down to the dirt. He cleared out the whole area before the bees decided they had had enough of all of the noise and activity and began to attack. He got about 5 stings including one on his left ear which turned red and swelled up. After that he puttered around quietly, forming the row and planning where to plant everything. On Monday he put weed barrier down and got about half of the vegetables planted. The rest will have to wait until this weekend since he is in the city for a few days.

Meanwhile, after indulging myself in a flower, shrub and vegetable plant buying binge last week, I began to clear out the back flower garden. After four years I have finally wrestled the front gardens into submission and all that is necessary there each spring is just a bit of raking and weeding and maybe planting a few annuals. The back garden however, is trying to kill me. I had it cleared out last year and I planted a variety of flowering shrubs and perennial flowers like spirea, bee balm, daisies and coneflowers. Alas, I was so lazy/busy last fall that I didn't really do a good job of cleaning it up for the winter, and then in the spring the weeds invaded and after a few good rain showers they were almost waist high. I had been pulling them out a bit each day but they would seemingly reappear overnight. So my goal over the weekend was to clear them all out, put in a few new plants and then mulch. I spent two days bending improperly at the waist pulling weeds by hand. There was rain on Saturday night so the weeds actually came out fairly easily, too bad there were at least a million of them! Anyway, I got the last bit of them out on Tuesday night and then have a bit of hoeing to do before I plant and mulch. This is how it looked this morning.

Basically anywhere you see space is where the rude and extremely audacious weeds were just a few days ago. I really must keep up this time. Right.

My hamstrings hurt like hell, my right arm and both hands are practically having spasms from pulling the weeds out, I have welts on my arms and legs (from evil bugs that laugh at the concept of bug repellent) an oval shaped sunburn on my lower back where my shirt rode up and my shorts came down a bit when I bent over to weed. Lovely. Doug has bee stings on his ear, forehead and arms and sort of a whole body pulled muscle.

Come to think of it, this is probably the shape we'd be in if we had had a marathon sex session. Heh.

Anyway, it really is like heaven here and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

The front of the house. Note our new porch. It's plumb!

The back patio with plants waiting to go in.

Oh and did I mention that I got a few baby chicks? We couldn't get it together to get a goat or sheep, so I made do with 9 chicks, seven of which are Araucanas, the hens that lay blue and/or green eggs. A little color is always good.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Reception Recap

Pink Tree Up Front, 2007, Oil on Panel, 16x20

So Saturday was a drop dead gorgeous day. It was difficult to ignore all we had to do in our gardens (weeding! tilling! planting!) and go to the opening reception at Enderlin. However, it's part of the job description and I was looking forward to meeting a few folks.

Right away when we got there I had a nice chat with Brian, who now owns two of my paintings. He reads the blog and has left comments as well. So it was very nice to meet him and as I had suspected, he is a very nice guy.

Roshan, the gallery director, did a beautiful job of hanging the show and I was very pleased with how it looked. She also did something that was new to me. She hung the barns on one side of the space and the landscapes on the other side. I really liked this and thought it was a very effective way to organize the work.

There were quite a few people there and it was a steady stream of visitors throughout the afternoon. Not really crowded, but there were always at least a few people to talk with. Around 4:30, however, it was really quiet and Doug and I were thinking we'd leave a few minutes early. But before we managed to get it together, whammo, all of a sudden there was a whole new roomful of people and it was actually a bit crowded for awhile! We spend quite a bit of time talking to Mike and Bill, who had also previously bought one of my paintings. And it turns out that Doug's and Mike's paths had unknowingly crossed several times over the years, the most recent one being a client whose kitchen had been designed by Mike and who had also bought a fossil mural from Doug. I always love finding those connections.

We left around 6pm and drove to Delhi to have dinner at the Quarter Moon Cafe, a lovely little restaurant with excellent food. Then home, then early to bed because we both planned to get up early and get to work in the gardens!

More on that tomorrow.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Opening at Enderlin Gallery

Wooded Lot, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x24

So unless you only come here to look at the pictures or you tend to drift off while skimming through my long winded posts, you probably have gathered that I have a show that opens tomorrow.

I am looking forward to the opening although I may be a bit rusty at the social/let's talk about Tracy thing. The last opening I had was in January (with the exception of a local group show) which seems like ancient history already. But I rather like the openings and am getting used to the pressure of the receptions for the solo shows where I am the only draw. That sure can go either way and trust me, I have experienced both. Nothing like standing around an almost empty gallery with a table full of food and hearing an echo when I speak.

However, I don't really think that this one will be like that. I have had a show there before and have come to know a few people in the area. Several people have emailed me to say that they are looking forward to meeting me and hits to my blog are up, as a result of google searches for me and/or Enderlin Gallery (well, in addition to the usual hamster bleeding/lumps/funeral searches, of course).

So if you are anywhere near Roxbury, NY on Saturday from 2-5pm, please stop by the Enderlin Gallery and have a chat with Doug and I. If not, I will fill you in on the details, ad nauseum, next week.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Shipping Department

Middle Of Fall, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

Have I mentioned how much I hate packing and shipping out my work? I will go to incredible lengths to avoid shipping, which usually includes driving at least two hours each way in order to deliver them in person. I am also not above sending Doug a few miles out of his way to deliver something, if he has to take a business trip anyway and I'd probably send the work off with anyone else who happened along if I could.

A few small sized paintings are fine. I have plenty of small boxes (I admit to being the mail order queen-Eddie Bauer actually contacts me if they don't get an order from me each month), but the larger pieces are more problematic. I cringe when I see how much bubble wrap I have to use for padding (never send a gallery a box with styrofoam peanuts) and the cardboard boxes! Oh. My. God. I have the worst sensory issues concerning cardboard. I hate the sound it makes when folding the flaps up but mostly I hate touching it. I can only touch it if I have recently put lotion on my hands, I get moderately freaked out if my hands are either wet or too dry and they come in contact with cardboard (um, that goes for paper too, although all of that is an improvement over the summer after my freshman year of college when I literally could not touch any paper, cardboard or illustration board AT ALL, so progress has been made).

But I digress. Sorry.

This week I had to send out eight pieces, including two 24x24's, to Boxheart Gallery in Pittsburgh-too far to drive, alas. Finding a box in good condition and the right size in our hot, dark and icky attic was a challenge (I kept hearing rustling sounds) and to top it all off I also had to ship a number of pieces to The Harrison Gallery, so I had to pack up two shipments instead of one. I had actually planned to drive to Williamstown to deliver those on Friday, but decided for a number of reasons that shipping would be just as easy. Ha!

It took a ridiculously long time, but I managed to get everything packed up finally. However, because I am a complete idiot, I forgot to include the inventory/packing list in one box and left out one painting from the other, so I had to cut open the boxes, add those items and tape them all over again. I am telling you, I was in pain when I had to do that.

Oh yeah, maybe I should describe how I pack up the paintings. Each is wrapped in bubble wrap, they are packed into the boxes, face to face, with the backs facing the outside, and a piece of cardboard between them and the box sides. I stuff bubble wrap padding into every open space so that there is no shifting possible. I use a ton of tape to close up the box, and I have some nifty labels that I designed and print off the computer. And I insure the shipments for their full retail, because if something happens, I better get compensated for all that shipping and packing, oops, I mean painting.

Next up: a solo show at Salt Meadow Gallery in Cape Cod. What do you think-packing and shipping 25 pieces OR driving five hours there and back in a car with no air conditioning?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Near Miss

I rarely show my work in progress, for a couple of reasons. First of all, I don't really like to get feedback while I am working on something-with the exception of when I ask for input from Doug. Secondly, it literally never occurs to me to take a picture before the piece is finished.

But I had an interesting thing happen with a recent piece and I did get some photos along the way. Mostly because I had thought it was finished and then after a few days I ended up reworking it.

And I don't do that very often either, making drastic changes can really result in an overworked look for me and a loss of the transparency of the layers.

The underpainting looked fine (above, top). I have to say that generally, I am pleased with the all of the underpaintings that I do. Once in awhile there is a dud, but even then, changing it in a later stage can be successful. So if I decide to let an underpainting dry, it's going to be a full color painting. Maybe not a good one because there are still plenty of chances to mess it up, but it will at least have a shot.

So anyway, I began to add the color here and after the first session, the foreground was fairly light (no picture of that stage, sorry). The next day, I decided that wasn't working so I darkened it and softened the path (second photo). At this point I thought it was finished.

But I couldn't seem to get myself to photograph it. After looking at the piece for a few days, and talking about it with Doug a bit, I decided to get rid of the hill in the back. Very rarely do I make such a change in composition, especially at this point, but this time I figured what the hell. I didn't think it was really working so there wasn't anything to lose, except that maybe I wouldn't have to drag the dang thing out onto the porch to sand it down if I could get it to work. I made the sky an opaque blue and left a bit of the purple around the trees. When I did that I felt much better about it and then I finally documented the painting (third photo, above). Then I saw the image on the computer I realized that I hadn't gone opaque enough and so I had to paint the sky yet again. grrrr. THEN I took the last photo (below).

I have to admit that I don't always stick with a painting this long. If things aren't moving along I often bail and I have a pile of bad paintings to prove it. But when I still feel some energy about a painting, I will keep going and do what I can to pull it back. It's a nice feeling to be able to do that.

This painting will be included in the show at Enderlin Gallery, that opens this Saturday.

End of Days, 2007, Oil on Panel, 36x36

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tis the Season

The kids caught a beauty today!

(and then they put it back into our pond so that it could go forth and multiply)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Delivery and a (possible) New Gallery

Orange, 2007, Oil on Panel, 16x20

Well, my panic on Friday was unwarranted. Doug ended up not going to the hike on Saturday so he was able to do do some of the transportation and weekend errands. However, even that was not really necessary because once I got down to business, I was able to finish up the paintings in a few hours or so.

But, just to keep things real, there were a few moments of last minute drama. About a half an hour before we had to leave to deliver the work, I realized that I had forgotten to paint the edges of one painting. It was sitting in a spot where I don't usually keep work and I had overlooked it. So there was a bit of hectic activity on the way out the door, which was oddly comforting. I feel a bit nervous when things go smoothly. heh.

I also have some good news about a new gallery opportunity. A while back, an internet friend of mine gave my name to a gallery director in Atlanta and they were interested in seeing my work. I was in the process of ending my relationship with another gallery, also in Atlanta, and the timing seemed like a good sign. So I sent Twinhouse Gallery a few pieces and they will be "trying me out" for awhile. I know it could go either way, but the director is very enthusiastic about my paintings and I am feeling pretty positive about it all.

Friday, May 18, 2007

And so suddenly....

Morning View, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x24

.....there are only two days left before I have to deliver the work for my solo show at Enderlin Gallery. Two days and five hours, if I were to get up early on Sunday morning. I still need to paint a few of the panel's cradled sides (although thank god, I have kept up with that part and most of them are already painted), sort through everything and decide exactly which pieces will be included. Then I will need to put hangers and bumpers on the backs of those paintings and make sure they are all documented. Plus we have a very busy couple of days full of things that I can't cancel or make Doug do, as he will be gone all day Saturday on a boy scout day hike with our son.

If I make it through the weekend intact, I'll be back on Monday with some good news about a new gallery (for me).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Changed My Mind

Barn at the Edge of the Woods, 2007. Oil on Panel, 8x10

A few days ago, Katherine tagged me and I declined to participate. I don't usually like to "join in" with things, plus it seemed difficult to imagine what I could actually tell you about me that I haven't already mentioned. But now, I feel like a jerk for not saying yes. So I have decided to play along and I am sure you are all just so relieved and happy to hear that. Heh.

And it turns out that there are a few things I haven't talked about. So here are seven things about me:

1. When I was in my early teen years, I lived with a friend's family in a two bedroom trailer mobile home located in the "good" trailer court in town. There was even a swimming pool (!) for residents only and my friend and I spent our pubescent summer days there trying to get the neighbor boys to like us. But still, it was a trailer park, and well, ick. There was a unique social order there that was mostly based on the size and quality of your mobile home. We were considered mid-level, ours was a single wide rather than double, however it was relatively new instead of old and crappy.

2. I lived in several foster homes as a teen and even though the last one was a really good one (I am still very close with them) I was fed up being so monitored and so I just left when I was seventeen. I rented a room in a house with seven male roommates which was fun, yet exceedingly stupid in retrospect. I had two jobs and managed to graduate from high school despite all of the distractions.

3. Plan A in high school was to go to art college. If I didn't get accepted, Plan B was to become a special education teacher. I had worked as an aide in several special ed classrooms and was encouraged to become a teacher. I was accepted to art school, but ended up spending many years researching special needs anyway after we adopted our handicapped nephew. Which was an odd turn of events because...

4. ....despite having four kids and a dog, I am not really a kid person and I feel really awkward with teenagers. I have never really liked dogs much either. But I love my kids more than anything and now that we have Penny, I find myself having conversations about dogs with other dog owners.

5. I have mentioned this before but just to clarify, I was a complete and total barfly when I lived in Philadelphia. My favorite hang outs were McGlinchey's and Dirty Franks. Both of which are still going strong by without me, by the way. Like the trailer court there was a social order there too, and again, I was somewhere in the middle. Story of my life I guess.

6. I stopped being a barfly when I met Doug in 1988. He was actually my boss and three weeks after he hired me as his secretary we were in love. It was a bit of a scandal at the time but it worked out ok, I think.

7. I am a big time Howard Stern fan. He won me over one day in 1988 when he spent 45 minutes talking about whether his glasses looked better high up on his nose or lower down. Very endearing. I listened to him everyday until we moved to Utah and then I couldn't hear his show for 10 years. I picked him back up when we moved to NY and followed him to Sirius and while I don't pay much attention to the strippers and sex talk, I love the show best when they are all just sitting around talking about tv shows, politics and other current topics. I really love Artie (he replaced Jackie while I was gone) and I have to admit that my daily schedule generally revolves around his show.

Geez, hope I don't lose too many readers over #7. Anyway, my blog picks are:

Stacy and Shan chronicle their busy lives which include, like mine, a busy family life and making and selling their art.

Lisa Call is an artist with a day job who also spends more time in her studio than I do. She makes the most incredible quilts and has a wicked sense of humor.

James Wolanin is a painter preparing for his first solo show in NYC this fall. I am very excited for him.

Paul Butzi shows his beautiful photography as well as discussing issues concerning supplies, equipment and going digital. He also bought 10 boxes of girl scout cookies from me to send to his kids in college. Nice dad!

Rebecca is another kindred spirit. She describes her work, family and gallery dealings. Plus, I love her work.

Joe Kazimiercxyk is a plein aire painter who depicts the landscape in and around Bucks County, PA. Doug and I used to spend weekends exploring that area and seeing Joe's work always reminds me of those long drives.

Inspiration Everywhere

Purple Roof, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

I have a full day of painting in front of me today, and I have already frittered away a few hours. So this will be a short post. Probably.

I saw a movie on Sunday that has really stayed with me. I love when that happens. Doug and I rented The Painted Veil, starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts, on Saturday, but we both fell asleep within about 15 minutes. He went out of town on Sunday, so I kept it and watched it on Sunday night. It was amazing! I wish I could have seen it on the big screen as the landscape of China looked so beautiful. I woke up several times Sunday night thinking about the story, the characters, their relationship and the ending. It was a very quiet movie and I saw positive reviews for it when it was released, but it never did come to our stupid theater that is only showing Spiderman these days.

I have to add here, that I may possibly be in love with Edward Norton. He is a bit younger than I am and he probably wouldn't want to live on a farm, but a girl can dream, right? Heh. I loved him in The Illusionist, and well, in pretty much everything I have seen him in.

Ok, I am off to the studio.

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Kids Are Amazing

Deep Dark Barn, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

A very relaxed Mother's Day on Sunday was the perfect antidote to our schedule on Saturday, which involved the scheduling precision of a military maneuver. I won't go into the details, but I will say that it involved waking up at 5:30, driving into town five times between the two of us, play dates, two soccer games and a lot of hanging around town in order to not add yet another drive home. I did go to the opening day of the local farmer's market though and bought some beautiful herb plants to add to my garden, so that was a good score.

I don't usually go for the sappy aspects of Mother's Day and those sorts of things, but my kids are so sincere about it and that gets me in the heart every time. Yesterday they got up early and made a beautiful breakfast for me complete with a poem, a letter of appreciation for all of the laundry I do and for the things I buy that they don't really need, an egg cup with a little rooster on it (I now seem to get chicken related doo dads at every gift giving opportunity) and an old tomato can with an amazingly bad illustration of a tomato on one side and a politically incorrect image of a Native American with full headdress on the other side. We then drove up to Utica to do some summer clothes shopping and they proceeded to act like complete and total angels. No fighting, no pouting, no begging. They held the doors open, pushed the cart (I walked around like a princess) and carried the bags to the car. It was heavenly and today I am basking in the glow of how amazing my kids are.

Hmmm. Sounds a bit sappy, huh?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Really Small Scale

Cool Waters, 2007, Oil on Panel, 3x5

The Lake, 2007, Oil on Panel, 4x6

When I began painting again a few years ago, I worked on very small panels. 3x3, 3x5, 5x7, maybe 6x8, but 8x10 was really pushing it. I did this for several reasons. I was experimenting and I didn't want to blow through all of my supplies too quickly. We were taking a real leap of faith by my attempt to paint and make some kind of career out of it and I felt I had to be very careful with the financial investment that was necessary. Mostly, though I was extremely intimidated by working on a larger scale. I was afraid to really let loose on a big panel and frankly I haven't completely gotten over that, although I have made much progress. And I think that even though I simplify my imagery, there is also a bit of a "noodler" in me and working at a small scale really lets me noodle a bit. I am too impatient to noodle extensively!

Now I am gradually working my way up in scale and 8x10 is the smallest size I do at this point. And wouldn't you know it, once I decided to not work small anymore and to not inventory panels smaller than 8x10, I was asked to participate in a miniatures group show at the local arts association. They asked for at least six paintings of the local lake, officially named Otsego Lake, but called Glimmerglass by most who live here. I don't paint the water too often, but I felt this was a good chance to do a few lake images, which are pretty popular around here. I didn't have any small panels on hand, but I was at Soho Artists Materials in the city in March and noticed that they had a whole table of tiny little cradled wood panels which I can only describe as really cute. Not one of my usual adjectives, but there you are. I bought some 3x5's and some 4x6's, but they had a whole range of, well, really cute sizes. I plan to go back and buy some more next time I am in the city. I really enjoyed working so small again, and while I was a bit flustered on the day that I painted a 3x5 AND a 36x48, I was exhilarated by it as well.

Pink Lake is one of the series, as well as the ones that I have posted today. I admit to being quite intrigued with the shape of the hills around the lake as well as the particular palette I used that week, which accounts for the similarities in each piece. I wish now that I had varied them a bit, but I can do another series again.

Doug and I will be going to the opening for the show tonight, which will be a nice social event, with many people we know in attendance.

Dead, Dead, Dead Rooster

Don't let this pose fool you. Penny can go from zero to sixty in less than a minute.

Just keeping an eye out.

Well, the mystery of the missing rooster has been solved. I am glad because I was really feeling creeped out that he could just go missing so cleanly and quietly. And as we all suspected, Penny our dog was the culprit. I am not sure that she actually killed him, although she probably did, but my son saw her carrying the bird last night and we all ran outside to see. We found it right where she dropped it (she is good about dropping something if you call her name). Then my daughter showed me an area of our property that was just littered with dead animal carcasses. Woodchucks, rabbits (just the rabbit fur, actually) and there were many bones just randomly scattered around.


Gotta love her though and she really is such a good dog. After a busy day of hunting and killing she comes inside and rolls around on the floor playing with her squeaky toy. She loves to cuddle and she gazes at all of us like we are the most amazing people ever. She's probably thinking about fresh kill, but whatever. We'll keep her around even though she offed our rooster.

Anyway, I am off today to help out at a medieval festival at my son's school. The sixth graders all built catapults, most of which are incredibly elaborate, and they all have to wear costumes today. Which my son told me about last night at 7:30pm. Typical. We rushed around and put together a fairly lame but almost historically accurate outfit. Well, except for the blue jeans. And the design drawn with a sharpee around the keyhole neckline of the tunic. So we're close.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Peppered with Questions

Pink Lake, 2007, Oil on Panel, 3x5

Steven asked me a bunch of questions yesterday in the comments of my last post. They are really thoughtful questions, plus I always appreciate the opportunity to yammer on and on about myself, so I turned them into a big ol' post. heh. So thanks for that, Steven.

Can you turn off your paint eyes for a weekend?

Yes and no. Like most artists, even when I am doing things that aren't related to studio work, I am observing details of the things and spaces around me. While technically, those things seldom make it into my work (for instance I do not paint images of chickens, or the piles of junk in our barn, at least not yet anyway) the feelings I get from whatever it is that I see are the basis of all of my work. And I am feeling very serene, in awe and humbled by what is around me lately, so I think some of that shows. And when I am not looking for them, I do often see specific scenes that I think will make a good image and try to remember those. Since that doesn't work so well these days, I'd like to say it's because my mind is so full lately, but I suspect it may have more to do with age, I usually take a quick photo as a reminder. So I guess you can say that I can turn off my paint eyes for awhile, but they usually turn back on when I least expect it.

I will add that when I am shoveling the shit out of the chicken house there are no thoughts whatsoever about painting or images or art. Just a lot of cursing and irritating issues concerning smell, sweat and blisters.

Even while you were in the yard and dealing with fowl, were you contemplating your next studio move?

Definitely not. I actually try not to think about what I am going to do next, at all. I have sort of long range ideas that are always subject to change, and I have a pretty flexible daily schedule, but if I think too much about what I am doing next, I get all bogged down and then tend to over think everything. Which usually makes me lose my gesture. I have learned to balance thinking with not thinking. heh.

Do you visually perk at dusk and dawn?

I hadn't really thought about it, but I guess I do. I love those parts of the day, the light, the sky, the quickness of the change and the anticipation of the next stage of the day. However I rarely paint those dramatic images (um, well, I guess the one above may qualify as some sort of late day scene), preferring instead to keep those experiences to myself. They always look too sappy when I try to paint them, which is always a disappointment and kind of ruins my lovely, albeit faded memories.

How much are you looking at photographs anymore?

Like I mentioned above, I use photographs, mainly to jog my memory, especially concerning composition. I'd say I use a photo as reference about half the time when I am painting the landscapes, and a bit more for barns and other structures. When I was working on the box images, I preferred to work from life, although I took great license with what I saw in front of me, especially concerning color. With the figure, I can only work from life. I would never consider doing a painting or drawing of a figure without a model in front of me, although that could certainly change if I were to spend some time developing figurative work. Up until four years ago I was sure that I would never paint landscapes and then look what happened! I have learned to never say never, it's like announcing to the world that I will end up doing it anyway.

Anyway, I will soon write another post about my use of photographic reference. Translating what I see in a photo to making an image is part of the process of painting for me, but that use is constantly changing, even if it doesn't look that way to the viewer.

So Steve, what would your answers be here? And I'd be interested in how other artists would answer these same questions, excluding the reference to fowl. Well unless you have chickens too, of course.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Farm Miscellany

Another Red Barn, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

We had a very busy and productive weekend. There was much running around, delivering kids here and there, and Doug cleaned out the garage, which was a major undertaking. After a winter of just winging things out into the garage from the back door of the house, it was a wreck, although we did have a path through the rubble from the house to the door outside. I worked in the gardens, raking out debris, pruning and tidying up in general. I didn't go into my studio all weekend and I don't even feel guilty about it. I have been making good progress on the work I need to have ready for two upcoming shows, so I haven't really needed to work on the weekends. Not yet, anyway.

Last week one of our hens went broody, meaning she was ready to sit on a clutch of eggs. I found a great website that told me what to do with her and so I set her all up in a separate space. She was fine for a few days and then she began to poop in the nest (bad) and when I checked her on Sunday morning I saw that she had broken two of the eggs (really bad). So she is back with the flock. I'll try again if another hen goes broody though, because I was surprisingly excited about having a new batch of chicks via the old fashioned way.

Then yesterday, my son and I managed to get Rooster Number One out of the chicken coop. I was planning on setting him up with a couple of the hens in a different hen house because the two roosters together, were competing with each other for their ladies affections and were getting pretty rough in the process. The hens all have bare patches on their backs and their heads, where the roosters hold them down while mating. Anyway, this rooster is my least favorite-he is nasty and has attacked me several times in the past when I go in the coop. After we let him out I thought I'd let him free range a bit (although he was mostly just hanging around the chicken run, trying to be in charge despite being outside of the fence) and then try to get him to the other space later on so I went back to gardening.


When I went to round him up I couldn't find him. We all wandered around the property looking for him but there was no trace of him. No pile of feathers, no chicken legs, no blood, nothing. The hens were really jittery and kept looking outside the fence (if only they could talk!). He didn't show up at the hen house at dusk to roost which was a bad sign. I suspect our dog Penny had something to do with it, as she is a notoriously excellent bird killer, but this is a 15lb. rooster and I didn't hear a squawk. While I am not entirely sad that Rooster Number One is probably dead, I admit to being seriously creeped out by his disappearance.

But we will move on. Already this morning, the hens seem much more relaxed without the presence of RNO, who ruled with an iron fist. They ate from my hand and I was able to pet a few of them without being threatened. The New Rooster Number One (formally known as Rooster Number Two), while a bit violent with his ladies, is a more docile guy in general and hopefully we will be friends.

So that's an exciting update on life on the farm. Sorry. I literally have nothing else to talk about today. I am planning to do some underpaintings this afternoon however, and I will put up some images of those tomorrow, in order to still qualify as an art blog. Heh.

Friday, May 4, 2007


June Field, 2007, Oil on Panel, 36x48

After the first color session.

After the second color session.

Normally when I work on larger scale paintings (bigger than 24x36, which is a size I do ok with) I am very uncomfortable. And not in a good, productive way. While I am excited about the challenge of the scale change, I also tend to tighten up and worry, which is usually reflected in the painting. The pieces haven't been horrible, none have ended up in the sand down pile or anything and I have even sold a few of them, but I haven't been exceptionally pleased with most of them either.

This time, because of a combination of factors I was much more relaxed when I began work on two large panels. I have finally gotten over the intimidation of the cost of a 36x48 sized panel ($140-yikes!) by continually reminding myself that it can always be sanded down and reused. A total pain in the neck but it can be done. And because I have been distracted in general, by a number of thing outside of the studio such as the kid's schedule, family stuff, how much work needs to be done on our house and property, money issues and even the hen that has gone broody (more on that another day), I was able to paint without getting myself all worked up beforehand. Sometimes not focusing on what I am doing really takes the pressure off and gets me into the groove before I can worry about getting there myself.

The first painting (on the left, in the second photo from top) painted itself. It's an image of a field down the road that I have painted a number of times (most recently here), but never at this scale, so that was a good challenge. Feeling high after finishing up that one I dove into the next one (on the right) and after the first layer ended up with a very loosely painted image. It was a lot of fun to paint and I was feeling rather invincible after the first piece so I convinced myself the second one was fab too. Then Doug came in to give his critique, which was fairly negative. After seriously considering winging my loaded brush at his head (just kidding, well kinda) I shook myself back into reality and realized he was pretty much right. Yesterday I struggled with the painting a bit more and it's closer now to working (on the right in third photo from top), I think.

And to confirm this recent pattern, I am also working on two 24x24 panels (see below) and nearly the exact same thing happened-the first one painted itself and I am struggling with the second one, the one I felt the most confidence in to begin with.

This experience is a very good example of the fine line that I must walk between self consciousness, overconfidence and humility. Too much, or not enough of any of those things and I am out on the porch with my palm sander, wearing a mask and sanding paint off a $140 chunk of wood.

Good 24x24

Bad 24x24, although there is still hope.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Must. Paint. All. Day.

Tall Barn, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x18

I'll be back tomorrow with a super fascinating update on what's been going on with those large scale paintings I started last weekend.

Feel free to keep chatting about hair in your paintings (or whatever medium you work in). We haven't heard from everyone yet!

I'd be interested in hearing what Jim does concerning stuff in the paint. His painting surface is beautiful - all slick, smooth and shiny. Exactly the kind of work that you wouldn't want to see a hair sticking out of.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Anything Goes

Shore Houses, 2007, Oil on Panel, 24x24

Yesterday's brief post about my hair in the paint led to some interesting comments. I started to write a response but it became as long as a post, not surprising given my chatty nature, so I thought I'd address the issue again in a post.

Chris mentioned that he was told by a gallerist that hairs in the paint are extremely irritating to them. I can understand this, as seeing hairs in certain kinds of work can be really distracting. However, if I heard this from a gallery that I am considering working with, I would take that as a big old sign that we would not be a good fit. My work is imperfect, messy, comfortable and full of texture. There are globs of paint on the sides of the panels, blotchy clumps of dried paint crud here and there and random gesso brush marks underneath it all. It would almost be unfinished if there WEREN'T a hair or two to be found.

I think most artists do what they can to get the hairs and whatever out of the paintings (I am particularly impressed with the efforts that Martha goes to, by cutting out the hair, sanding the ridge and reapplying the varnish. I have tried those sorts of things, but any kind of sanding will take my thin layers of paint right off so I am usually bettor off leaving it). But thankfully, we are not automatons and our studio environments are usually pretty relaxed. Pets are often included in the fun, not to mention expensive brushes that still lose their bristles. I have seen $20,000 paintings that are all slick and shiny and beautiful, but still have an occasional brush hair.

Personally, I love it when I see hairs and whatever in other artist's paintings. It's nice to know that others have the same issues that I have. And I love art that is so passionate that the artist doesn't notice or can't stop to pull out a stray hair before the paint dries over it. Seeing stuff in the paint gives it another layer of intimacy and a connection to artist and their environment. But while that is just my personal preference, what I love most about painting is that artists can do whatever they want, from having a warts and all approach to displaying their finest OCD tendencies, and everything in between.

So where on the scale are you? I think I am one step over from the warts and all approach. It's not quite anything goes for me, but it is close.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Gessoed Hair

Normally it's cat hair, brush hairs or a variety of other kinds of annoying fuzzy things that end up in my paintings. Most of the time I get them out before the paint dries.

This time though, one strand of my hair landed in the gesso, unnoticed (look closely, it's on the left). No chance of removing this one, so I will just pretend it is added character. At least it fell into a very graceful line.

I'd wear a hair net when I gesso, but frankly, I am just WAY too cool for that. Heh.