Friday, August 24, 2007

Almost Gone

Almost Gone, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Well, obviously my studio time got a bit off track over the last few days. However, I did manage to get nearly all of the work done that I had planned. I also have a really nice piece going that I had hoped to send along to The Harrison Gallery, but alas, it is not quite resolved and so it will have to wait until I can get back to it. Since there will be no funeral for my mother, just a private memorial in September, we have decided to go on our family vacation as planned. Doug and I really need to spend a nice quiet week without computer, phone or television, on a lake, enjoying the company of our children.

I will be back in early September, and hopefully ya'll won't forget about me and my little blog here!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Peaceful Ending

Me and mom at Silver Lake in Rochester, MN, around 1965.

In Berne, MN, at my grandfather's retirement party. I was about three and a half.

Mom and my sister, Christmas 1979.

With my son in 1995. I really love this photo.

These are some of my favorite photographs of my mother. She didn't like how she looked in any of them, which is a trait she passed down to me. Heh. But I think she always looked beautiful. She was a young single mom at a time when being that was incredibly difficult, and she did her best to raise my sister and I. She made many mistakes, as we all do, but she was tenacious in her efforts to stay connected with both of us and our children. And at the end now, we are still connected.

Sue, my mother, died peacefully at her home on Tuesday, surrounded by what she loved, her husband, their pets, family pictures, and the belongings that she spent so many years collecting (I am just a regular pack rat, but she was a wacky, crazy, totally unchecked pack rat!). I will miss her, but am also relieved that she is not suffering any longer.

I can't begin to tell you all how much I have appreciated your kind words, thoughts and prayers through all of this and my family has been touched by all of your kindnesses. Saying thank you seems insignificant, but it's all I can say right now.

Thank you.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Red Roof, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Well, despite being pretty busy the last few days, and being terribly lazy about getting started in the studio, I did manage to get quite a few 8x10 paintings finished up. I am juggling a few deadlines right now, and they are all on this Friday, mostly because on Saturday we are going on a week long family vacation to the Lakes Region in New Hampshire. So this is what I have to do before we leave (doesn't count packing or cleaning the house):

The Harrison Gallery has been doing a bang up job selling my work lately and they need more paintings in their inventory. So I need to ship them at least four, although six would probably be better.

I am in a group show, called Upstate Landscape at a local gallery, the Smithy-Pioneer Gallery in Cooperstown, NY. I have to drop off about six pieces on Friday, and the opening is on Monday. We will miss it, which is unfortunate, because we usually know so many people at their openings.

The Blogger Show needs to have jpegs by August 31, of the two pieces that I plan to put into the show which is in November. So, um, I have to paint those paintings this week....

And the local arts org is having their annual Arts on the Lawn sale and so even though I have decided not to participate this year, I probably will end up doing it anyway. Since the events starts before we get back from vacation, I will have to drop off the work before we leave.

I have about 15 paintings in progress (five are essentially finished) and will totally be holding my breath this week, hoping that I don't screw up more than one of them. Heh.

After a bit of trial and error, I have a pretty good system for keeping track of all of this stuff. I have a calendar next to my desk which has the deadlines written on it, plus as a back up I take notes on a notepad on my desk. Cause sometimes I don't even feel like actually turning my head to look at the calendar. I also have a Day Runner type month-in-view calendar in a binder which I use to map out shows and projects for the upcoming year. Although I don't refer to that very often, it's great to have the overview easily available. And I always add the opening receptions that I have to go to, to the FAMILY MASTER CALENDAR, centrally located in the kitchen. That way the kids can see when the 'rents are going out of town!

The interesting thing I have found is that if I write everything down, I always remember all of it and rarely have to check the dates. If I don't write it down, I forget the info entirely. So I take special care to write the important stuff down leaving the rest to mysteriously disappear into the recesses of my shrinking brain.

Friday, August 17, 2007


My name has moved from being somewhat obscure in the new acquisitions page on my NY gallery's website, to the home page right along with the other artists.

I think that is a good sign.


My son and I spent the morning picking blueberries at a local farm that has over 5000 blueberry bushes. In late summer the public can go in and pick their own blueberries for 1.60 per pound. Despite complaining the entire time, my son kept pretty good pace with me and we picked about 14 pounds! We are going to have a killer blueberry cobbler for dessert tonight, and the rest of the blueberries will be washed, measured and stored in the freezer in two cup portions. I will use them up over the winter, for muffins, breads and other baked items.

We have four blueberry bushes of our own, and they have been quite productive this summer. Each morning I go out and gather a good sized handful to add to my yogurt. But they are young plants still and it will be a few years before we get a big enough crop that we can store for the winter. Blueberries are a favorite fruit around here so finding a way to keep eating them without buying them from the grocery store is a must.

Tomorrow we are going to the farmer's market to stock up on all of the things that our garden failed to produce this year (ahem, I blame Doug) that I can also freeze, like corn, peas and beans. I am not sure I want to tackle canning this fall so mostly I am going to stock up on foods that can go in the freezer. We are also going to buy some meat there (not much as we don't eat a lot), from a friend of ours who sells pasture raised organic beef, pork and chicken.

Oh yeah, this is an art blog. Huh. I have to spend the rest of today painting and in fact, will have to work Saturday and Sunday as well. I have to do this because I have been procrastinating terribly and only working for a very short period of time each day. Right now I am regretting my enjoyment of a few leisurely days. It would be ok if I didn't have any deadlines, but well, I do and yet I still procrastinate. I have to finish up at least 10 pieces by next Friday. Yikes.

Oh and go check out my website. It has been long overdue for an update and I finally just got the info out to my web person. There are a lot of new paintings up, although you have probably seen most of them here at some point. At least they are all in one place now though, and you don't have to wade through all of this yakking to see the pictures. Heh.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Back to Work Finally

Pink Hollyhocks, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Today was the first real day of work in my studio in over a week. I should have gotten right back to it on Monday, based on how much I have to finish up by next Friday, yikes, but I kept finding other things to do on both Monday and Tuesday. Getting back to painting can be tough for me when I have taken too much time off, or if something dramatic has happened, which is the case this time. My chair feels funny, the easel needs adjusting, the colors look different. Everything just feels odd.

But usually I decide to close my eyes and just dive back in. This always works and today was no exception. I felt as if I was really back home finally, that I was wrapped in the comfort of creating something, anything. The end results didn't matter. Well they did a little bit because I do have to send new work out soon, but while I was painting I didn't think about all that. I did some very nice underpaintings as well as added color to a few pieces that were in progress.

And so I am back on track. For the time being, anyway.

The piece I have posted today is an oddball for me I think. I almost never use white, and I sure used it here. Doug liked it, I didn't. But it made the cut anyway (I trust his opinion, usually anyway) and is hanging in a group show at the Smithy-Pioneer Gallery in Cooperstown, NY.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Nothing Like a Good Book

View Along Armstrong Road, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

My flight last week to New Mexico had two stops, including one plane change, so there was a lot of sitting both there and back. Before I left though, I took care to choose a good book. I thought it would be a really good distraction for me, plus I could read without any distractions. Nice, huh? I have always been a prolific reader, usually managing to finish at least a few books per week. But in the last few years with all I have going on, I am lucky if I can read a full page before I fall asleep each night. This annoys me to no end and I miss being able to breeze through books that seem so interesting. Reading this little each day makes it so difficult to follow a plot line or to really feel what the book is saying. However, despite the fact that I can hardly read one book each month I have not stopped buying books that interest me, and I am guessing I could start up my own small town bookstore with the number of books I have stacked next to my side of the bed, all patiently waiting their turn for me to get to them.

I have been itching to read a book that I have had on hand since practically the day it was released. "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. And then Bridgette mentioned the book to me awhile ago thinking I'd like it and boy was she right! It was the perfect book. While I didn't read so much on the way there, I finished the entire book on the flight back home. It's about the author's family and how they spent a year eating only local and in season foods, or food they grew or raised. The purpose was to order to cut back their reliance on the foods that use incredible amounts of fossil fuels to get to our supermarkets as well as to support local food growers. It's a fascinating book, full of research combined with their experiences and certainly has inspired me to make some changes in what we buy and when we buy it. We already do some things, we try to grow our own food (try is the key word there, heh), we have the eggs and I do buy local food especially during the summer when the farmer's market is open. I mostly cook our meals from scratch and I do a lot of baking as well. But I confess to buying too many packaged foods, mostly crackers, pasta, and cereal, and I have a tendency to buy a lot of bananas and other fruits and vegetables out of season.

So I am all charged up now, and Doug and I are going to make a more serious effort at growing a better and more productive vegetable garden next year. This year the garden got away from us and while we had great greens for awhile plus strawberries, garlic, zucchini and the tomatoes are looking good, the rest got eaten by pests or smothered by weeds. Since I want to grow so many other things, I am putting together a new plan for the garden, which will be a ton of work (um, starting next month). But good worthwhile, albeit backbreaking work.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book. It is well researched and sure highlights how messed up our food system here in America has become.

Monday, August 13, 2007

10 Things That Have Made Me Cry This Last Week

Bear Left, 2007, Oil on Panel, 16x20

I have never been much of a crier. In fact before I had my babies, I hardly ever cried. After my oldest was born, I could easily burst into tears during a car insurance commercial, I was so sensitive. Much of that has passed now, however, the last week's events has really put me back into new mommy territory again.

1. Obviously, finding out that my mother doesn't have much time left started it all off.

2. Telling my husband about that, over the phone, because he had just left town on a business trip. In fact, every time I told someone about it, I choked up. Poor UPS guy, surely he regrets asking me about my trip!

3. Random thoughts about what I would say to my mom when I'd see her.

4. Seeing my mom in the hospital, sitting up, wearing an orange baseball type cap. Actually, I cried and laughed a little at that sight.

5. Hearing that the miners in Utah hadn't been saved yet, on Wednesday night when I got to my hotel. And that it would be awhile before they could get to them.

6. Seeing my sister for the first time in nine years, got me a little teary eyed, but the make-up stayed on through that one. I am the big sis and didn't want to completely fall apart on her right away. Heh.

7. Both of us being hugged in my Uncle Jim's arms, at the same time, and the tears really poured out when he wouldn't let us go for a very long time. I don't think I have been hugged like that with my sister since maybe 1971.

8. Talking with everyone in the hospital room about how many people responded to my last blog post about my mother.

9. Having my last conversation with my mom and saying goodbye, for what I think is probably the last time. The details are personal, but I think you can all understand that one.

10. And then I cried again when I saw everyone crying when they saw me crying after I came out of her room. Kind of a round robin kind of cry I guess.

11. Later that night I welled up again at dinner while the mariachi band was playing us a beautiful song. Something about sitting there with my uncle, my sister, my husband on the last day I would see someone we all loved. That moment really got me.

I guess it's 11 things that made me cry. Or maybe even 154 if you count the fact that nothing much seems to make me cry lately too. Luckily, though I am still laughing and there was much of that in the last week as well. But I imagine there will be more crying ahead for me and for all of us. In fact, in writing this I find myself tearing up. I am overwhelmed by how many of you have offered us, a family that most of you have never met, your good wishes, sympathy and prayers. We all appreciate it so much and feel humbled by your kindness.

Thank you all so much.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Doug!

Across The Field, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

As is typical, Doug and I forgot about our anniversary until just a few days ago while we were in New Mexico (more about that trip Monday). Last year I wrote about our silliness concerning our anniversary so I won't go into it again.

However I would like to point out that even though this date wasn't our first choice (you'll see why if you read last year's post) it does seem to have some very interesting karma attached to it.

My great Aunt Bertha and her husband, Uncle Walter, share the same anniversary. Of course I did not know this when we went to get married. How many people know the wedding date of their seemingly ancient relatives? I don't even know how long they were married but I am guessing at least 60 years, until sadly, Uncle Walter died a few years ago.

And Doug's parents also share the same wedding anniversary. They got married when his father got out of the military after WWII and were happily married until his mom died in the early 70's. We also didn't know the date of their marriage until Doug was going through an old box of papers a few years ago.

So I guess, that despite the fact that DOUG IS OUT OF TOWN TODAY ON BUSINESS we should stay married. Gotta keep up with the good karma!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


I will not be posting again until next week. As some of you may recall, my mother has been struggling with lung cancer this past year (I wrote about it here) and I just found out that she doesn't have much time left. Last month she had whole head radiation after more tumors had developed in her brain. Once that was over she had several different infections and now the lung tumor which had basically been eradicated by chemo has tripled in size over the last few weeks. She only has the use of one half of one lung. Her doctor says she has anywhere from a few days to a few weeks at the most. So on Wednesday, the members of our small and scattered family are headed to New Mexico to spend a few last minutes with her.

In the early days of this blog, I had about 12 hits per day, tops. And most of those were from my mom. I realized I would have to self-censor a bit, but nonetheless we had some humorous exchanges after my description of my college days. Good thing I didn't write about everything! Anyway, I was always comforted to see her IP address in the stats each day and sometimes several times each day, knowing that she was interested in hearing what I was up to. I have missed that in the last few months as she has been too ill to do anything. She has missed this little community too. Every time I have talked to her recently, she has said that she hopes to get back to the computer soon in order to check up on me. She also began to read the blogs of some the regulars here and struck up an email friendship with Bart which she really enjoyed. He was so kind to her and even sent her one of his drawings recently.

I can't believe she won't be here anymore.

Monday, August 6, 2007

I'll Need New Long Underwear!

Bee Balm Forever, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

Right smack dab in the middle of a very stressful Saturday, I got a letter via snail mail from the Vermont Studio Center. Just like the acceptance letters that colleges send out, I knew the thick envelope meant I was in! Thick means yes, thin means no.

Anyway, I did not get the Full Fellowship that I applied for but I did get an artist's grant which brings the fee down to an amount I can handle (I probably wouldn't have gone otherwise). Doug, the best husband ever, was slightly bug-eyed for a few minutes, realizing that he will be trapped staying at home with the kids for a whole month. But he came around and is really happy that I was accepted and will have this opportunity.

I have to publicly thank Kesha also. I never even considered applying for a residency before, mostly because I didn't want to leave the kids for so long, not to mention Doug's business traveling schedule. I found Kesha's blog on the very day she wrote about her recent residency there and while reading it, I realized that I actually could leave my life at this point for a month. I asked her a bunch of questions, she answered them, I applied and viola! I am going to Vermont for 27 days of uninterrupted artistic bliss. Um, Vermont in February, which is one of the months I actually requested. Smart.

Think it might be cold while I am there?

Friday, August 3, 2007

No More Free Time!

Purple Zinnia, 2007, Oil on Panel, 4"x4"

One of my favorite things is to see the studios of other artists. So you can imagine my delight when I came across this blog.

I feel so much better after seeing spaces that have about nine million more items in it than my space has in it. Clearly, I am not the only artist/pack rat out there.

You can see a post about my studio here. It's still pretty much the same except much messier and more crowded. heh.

And I am off today to pick up my daughters, who have been away at camp for twelve wonderful days. Despite having a list of projects to do while they were gone, I ended up not doing any of them. I did, however, realize that they are a surprising amount of work, based on the fact that I had very little daily stuff to do while they have been gone. No picking up clutter, much less laundry, no major meals to cook and fewer dishes to wash. I have had a plethora of pens on my desk for the last twelve days and every time I look for the kitchen scissors, they are exactly where they should be. Also, no hugs and kisses goodnight, giggling, reading out loud each night or messy art projects at the kitchen table (the boys are beyond most of those things, they are way too cool!).

Ok, ok, I can't wait to get them back home!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Contracts, Contracts

Magenta Hollyhocks, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Well, yesterday I mentioned contracts, and so I thought I'd talk about my experiences with them a bit further. Without being specific, of course.

One of the benefits of working in some different environments before setting out to work as a full time artist is that I learned a bit about business. Not a lot, but enough to get by without getting ripped off. And I knew from doing some basic research (thank god for the internet) that having a contract was really important if I would be sending my work off to a gallery.

I thought I would feel awkward bringing up the topic, but I quickly found out that I didn't and that if I didn't ask for a contract, reputable galleries or non-profits would be asking me to sign one anyway. A good and fair contract helps to protect both parties and if the gallery won't offer one, I suggest running the other way.

But what is a good and fair? I will mention the points that I look for and that are usually standard.

1. Geographical Designation. This can seem constricting, but it really works to my benefit as well, to limit the area in which I can show my work. There is enough competition, why compete with myself too? And being loyal to one gallery is important to me. I am not at the level where I have an exclusive dealer, so most of my contracts require a 50 mile radius, town or city limits and one is exclusive to the whole state. I look at each circumstance and decide if they work for me, and usually they do, thus far anyway.

2. Commission. The going rate in most commercial galleries is 50-50, 60-40 (favoring the gallery in some cities like NYC), and 30-70 or so (favoring the artists) in non profit spaces. If you have some clout these can be negotiable, I suppose, but I am not there yet. I can say though that I would probably not work with a gallery if the terms were 60-40 on their side. I won't say they shouldn't get that but I would prefer to not get less than 50%. Also standard are discounts to collectors, museums and designers. Usually the discount is 10% to be split evenly between the artist and gallery. Additional discounts are absorbed by the gallery. I also have an agreement with a few of my galleries that I have the right to accept or decline higher discounts.

3. Payment terms. Standard is payment to be made to the artist within thirty days. Exceptions, and they should be noted in the contract, are payment terms granted to the buyer. I am lucky enough to have several galleries that seemingly mail a check to me the moment that they get paid and they have my undying loyalty. I learned from an office job I had once that if payment is not made within 45 days, it becomes less likely that it will be made with each week that passes thereafter. So if I don't receive a payment within thirty days, I make a "gentle reminder call", and if it goes past 45-60 days I get downright pesky. I have only had to do that once though, thankfully.

4. Shipping. Generally the artist pays for shipping and related expenses to the gallery, the gallery pays for shipping back to the artist. UNLESS the artist requests work to be returned in which case there may be a fee required to be paid to the gallery, in addition to the shipping expenses. Also, if the artist terminates the relationship, the return shipping is then the responsibility of the artist in that case. Follow? I was once offered a contract by a gallery whose contract stated that the artist was responsible for shipping to and FROM the gallery. This was non-negotiable on their part so I turned down their offer.

5. Insurance. This was another non-negotiable point in the previously mentioned contract. They didn't insure the work in their possession! Occasionally this may be the case in a nonprofit, and I might agree to it in that case, if there are other benefits to showing there, but there is not a chance in hell that I will ship my work off to a commercial gallery that will not take responsibility for it while in their possession. Very unprofessional in my opinion!

6. Pricing. Most of my contracts have an item about keeping the retail prices the same in all markets. I am fine with that although I can see how, if my prices go up, I will price myself out of some of the smaller galleries that I work with. But it doesn't look good to buyers if they notice that work is priced lower in some galleries than others. And believe me, there are people who notice those things and will ask about it!

7. Termination. There should be a reasonable termination clause, equal to both parties. Mine range anywhere from immediately to 120 days. Also, the contract should have an expiration date, at which time the artist (or gallery) can choose not to sign another.

8. Copyright. The artist should own the title to each piece until it is purchased, at which time it transfers to the owner. The gallery usually has the right to reproduce the image for PR purposes and there is usually some sort of copyright statement. I have to admit here that I am a bit foggy on the whole copyright issue, but all of my contracts have the same statement regarding it so that seems fine to me.

These are the main points usually covered in a standard artist/gallery contract. As I said, some negotiation is possible and in fact if the gallery won't make any reasonable concessions (like in the example I gave above) then it's my guess that there will not be a very good working relationship. And some additional points in a contract would be periodic inventories, signed consignment lists and designation of expenses for exhibitions (it should be the gallery's responsibility, unless you are comfortable with a different agreement).

I have contracts with all of my galleries, except one. I should follow my own advice and request a contract, but I have to say that my instincts are very positive in that case, however if that changes, I will immediately request one. I pay close attention to my instincts, frankly. I have turned down several exhibition opportunities and representation offers over the last few years, based on "hinky" feelings. Often those feelings those been confirmed by the contract and/or discussion with other artists.

I think it's also very important to not sell yourself short. A few years ago, I was desperate to get things going and had to struggle to accept only respectable situations. I can't tell you how painful and disappointing it was to turn down that bad contract offer. But when I did, I almost immediately received two good offers. I totally believe in good and bad karma by the way. That gallery has closed and I am still showing.

The reaction to the request for a contract is important to gauge as well. I worked with a gallery once who didn't have a formal contract, but when I suggested that I would feel more comfortable with one, the director was kind enough to write up a letter (on the gallery's letterhead) noting the gallery's terms. They have been a dream to work with and I am not surprised by that at all.

At first I thought that maybe I should have a lawyer look at the contracts first, but I realized that most of the contracts I was being offered at the gallery level I was at, weren't very complicated. I have casually discussed them with a friend who is a lawyer and he said the same thing. But if there are stronger exclusivity points or other more detailed terms I would suggest seeing a lawyer.

This has gotten pretty long! Please feel free to add your comments or experiences regarding comments. I would have known little about this stuff if I hadn't heard about other artist's experiences.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

New (to me) Gallery

Crowded Garden II, 2007, Oil on Panel, 9x18

Now that it's official, I can say out loud that I am being represented by Twinhouse Gallery in Atlanta, GA.

I was previously represented by another gallery in Atlanta, and while they were just great to work with, unfortunately my sales never really took off there. I decided to leave them and literally within a few days, a friend of mine let me know that he had shown his gallery my website and that they were interested in talking to me. I waited until the loose ends were tied up with the previous gallery and then sent some work down to Twinhouse so they could "try me out." They all seem excited about my work and feedback from customers has been good. So we signed contracts (always sign a contract!) and I have sent them a few more pieces. You can see my artist page here.

I am looking forward to this opportunity to try Atlanta again. And I am also in very good company as Twinhouse also represents Neil Hollingsworth, Jeff Cohen and Karin Jurnik, several artists and bloggers whose work I respect.