Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year! (plus a chicken update)

Neighboring Pond, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Been meaning to post for a few days, but to be honest I have been enjoying some time off from the computer, and from trying to think of some fascinating and witty things to write about. Heh.

We have all just been hanging around the house, staying up late, sleeping in (well, late for me is 7am, for everyone else it is 10am!) doing jigsaw puzzles and playing with our new toys. By the way I love doing jigsaw puzzles. I only do them once a year, usually around or just after the holidays. I would love to do them more often, but I feel guilty thinking of all the other things I should be doing. So I allow myself a few weeks in the winter. It's definitely an activity where the process is why I do it, the finished images are usually quite a letdown. Even the nice ones still look, well, they still look like a jigsaw puzzle when they are done.

Oh and I have a really thrilling chicken update. We have already had quite a bit of snow and cold weather this winter so the chickens have been pretty cooped up, not even able to leave their hen house let alone their little yard. The last few days have been milder and they have been outside, so I have been able to get a good look at them. The other day I noticed that one of them had blood all over her bottom, just dripping out of her vent (where the eggs come out of). And when there is blood chickens turn into cannibals! She had a line of chickens following her, pecking at her bottom, making it worse. So she is temporarily living in our garage until she heals up. Then yesterday, I noticed that our Naked Neck chicken had a big laceration on her chest, with stuff coming out, (it's like a bad movie, seeing that). She was acting fine, walking around, eating, etc, but today I noticed that it is bleeding a bit and she is now being followed around by the "peckers". So I guess she will also be a guest in our garage as well, but I have no idea what to do about that injury. I think she needs stitches! And Doug thinks I am crazy to even consider taking her to the vet. I guess we'll see if the cut heals up on it's own (doubtful as it is gaping open), otherwise I guess we may have to euthanize-especially if more stuff comes out.


And on that lovely note, I wish you all a Happy New Year! I suspect I will be sleeping when the big moment comes, unlike when I was young and chose to party in a bar all night. But I hope that at least a few of you out there will be doing something fun on New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Books

Wrap Around, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x24

Today I am basking in the glow of a very lovely last few days with my family. Our time was spent finishing the stupid Christmas puzzle, watching silly movies, wrapping gifts, baking (I ate way too many frosted sugar cookies, bad girl!) and just hanging out.

My studio was quiet and nearly forgotten, poor thing. But my fabulous husband gave me two books which will ease me back into work over the next few days. One was a book about Monet, which is quite different than the other book of his work that I have. This one shows the details of his business-sales records, receipts, influences, travels, personal papers like letters and photographs, it is so amazing to see those items and it's good to be reminded that even artists like Monet had to deal the with the more humdrum things like paperwork.

The other is a wonderful book about Richard Diebenkorn. I have been a fan of his work and am now especially interested in his figurative work as I am thinking that I will be focusing on that while I am at the Vermont Studio Center in February. Anyway, this book describes his background and the images of his work are just amazing.

And for my birthday a few weeks ago, Doug gave me a book of etchings, mostly portraits, by Lucian Freud. It too has been very inspiring, if a bit disturbing. Which I love, by the way.

I have another laid back day ahead of me, although I do plan to putter around in the studio a bit. Even though I am finished painting, I do need to paint the panel cradles and put hangers on about ten pieces. And as I have now learned from Monet, there is always the paperwork to do.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Flatland, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

I was assuming that I would be working pretty much through Christmas and right up until I have to deliver everything to the gallery in the first few days of January. However, after looking at my list of finished pieces I think I can safely say I am done! Yayyy! I guess I was in such a painting frenzy that I lost track of where I was. And there have been so many interruptions to my studio time, I just assumed that I hadn't gotten enough work done. I had four pieces finished before I got sick in November, plus seven that were at the underpainting stage. In the last three weeks, I finished those seven, plus eight more, including a 36x48 piece. So all of those, plus four that came back from another show and which fit in perfectly with the new group gives me a very healthy twenty three paintings for a solo show. I am tempted to do one more large landscape as I feel the group is a bit heavy on barns, but that might just be showing off. Heh.

It's good to know that I can pull together enough work for a show in a month but I do need to make an effort to NOT cut it quite so close, because things can happen (like pneumonia) to throw me off. On the other hand, I work better and can create a more cohesive group of paintings if I do everything that I can in a mad rush of creativity and energy. So a balance must be achieved, with work and life.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The One Where I Keep Plugging Away

My Blue Barn, 2007, Oil on Panel, 9x9

Well, I think that posts may be a bit more infrequent here in the next few weeks. Everything is converging in the next week; the holidays, finishing up the work for January's show plus a myriad of other activities such as holiday chorus concerts and plays, mundane but necessary paperwork, and putting together the dang family holiday card! At this point I will just be happy if I can get the stupid things postmarked by the 24th. Of course, WE have received many holiday cards from people who are either super organized or who have nothing else to do in November but to mail out their cards. Heh. Anyway, I humbly bow down to all of those people.

However, this is the second year that I have had a solo show scheduled for January and while at first I wasn't too thrilled about the fact that I would have to work pretty hard well into December, there is also a silver lining to that. It has forced me (and our family) to simplify our holidays quite a bit. There is less time for shopping for things that the kids don't really need (or will even look at within a month), I have learned to hand over decorating the tree to the kids, who fully enjoy that process and although I like putting lights up on our porch, in the last two years I have found that Christmas still comes whether they are up or not.

The activities we have kept up with are the ones we all can pitch in and do; baking, making gifts, wrapping them, attending the concerts and other activities and cleaning the house. Well, maybe not that last one so much, but if there is ever a shot that I can get the kids to pick up their stuff without asking twice, it is now.

And while the ever increasing commercialism and consumerism makes me more uncomfortable each year, it has not escaped my attention that both Doug and I are totally contributing to it by creating things that are intended for sale. I am not sure I can ever fully reconcile those opposing beliefs, but I hope that by simplifying our lives we can somewhat offset what we do for a living.

It's the best I can do right now.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Open House

Farm Structures, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

I have had a busy few days which is why I haven't posted since last week. Despite the fact that I am frantically trying to finish up work for my show in January, and still have much to do to get ready for the holidays, oh like, you know, go shopping for gifts for the kids, Doug and I decided to have some people over for a bit of a holiday thing. Since I lost three days in the studio, this decision proves that I could be somewhat unbalanced. Heh.

I spent all day last Thursday, cleaning out my studio (everyone likes to see my studio) and sorting through a lot of junk and also through what seemed liked a million paintings that have come back, unsold, from various galleries. I learned that the world will not stop rotating if I throw a few lousy paintings into the garbage. We also cleaned the house. Well the downstairs anyway.

Friday, I did some baking, while Doug shoveled the driveway, by hand, because naturally we had had a good snowstorm on Thursday and we have been really lame about buying a snowblower or hiring someone to plow us out whenever it snows.

Saturday was a really enjoyable day, with many visitors, a warm fire, food, drink and the occasional embarrassing song playing through the stereo on my ipod (I confess to owning more than a few one hit wonders from the seventies), and I even sold a few of the paintings that had been returned from the galleries and were sitting around waiting for "their people" to find them. I was exhausted after all of this so it was lucky that we had yet another snowstorm on Sunday and I didn't have to actually go anywhere. The girls and I worked on a really tacky Christmas themed jigsaw puzzle all day.

Thanks to everyone for coming by, it was fun!

PS. I am also exceedingly happy to now have a clean studio to get back to work in. There are actually empty surfaces!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tagged 2x

Opening, 2007, Oil on Panel, 5x7
Natalya tagged me way back in October and what with all the illness going on around here, I plumb forgot to do a post listing five things about myself. And then Stephen Magsig tagged me the other day. I don't normally like getting tagged however, post topics have been a bit harder to come by lately so so I figured what the heck. Although I am struggling to find five things that I haven't already disclosed here, I am going to give it a shot. Oh and I know I am cheating by condensing two tags into one. So sue me.

1. I absolutely hate cucumbers! Doug and I have been together long enough to have a system though, whenever I get a salad in a restaurant that has any cucumbers on it, he immediately removes them AND the surrounding items, because the flavor of what you hate always migrates.

2. I have the ability to make my shoulder blades protrude several inches out of my back. This was an excellent thing to do to impress the boys at the bar back in my younger days. And I have passed this talent on to two of my kids. They are so lucky. Heh.

3. I hated my hometown (Rochester, MN) so much that I moved to Minneapolis within days of graduating from high school. It was a good move to get away, however ironically, after living in all kinds of different places, we have settled in a town that is pretty much a smaller version of Rochester.

4. This one is a real shocker: I have always for as long as I can remember, wanted to be an artist. I have had a few other interests along the way; writing, working with handicapped people, and have had a few detours, most notably motherhood, but wanting to paint has always been a part of me. Well, that and being able to belt it out like Janis Joplin on stage!

5. Even though it's been 22 years, whenever I see the scene near the end of the movie Witness where the little boy rings the bell and all of the Amish neighbors come to help, I cry. Every. Single. Time. In fact that is the sort of thing that almost always makes me cry, is seeing or reading about people helping each other.

Ok, that's it. And now for the really hard part, tagging others.

Nat Dickinson
Kesha Bruce
Sheree Rensel
Angela Rockett
Gary Rith

I apologize in advance if any of you have been tagged recently, or if you prefer not to participate. Believe you me, I understand.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cracked Ice

Road to Nowhere, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

A lovely cozy day around the house today. We had an ice storm last night, so no school for the kids. Everyone is working on various projects and Doug and I are even getting some work done. It's incredibly beautiful outside, but treacherous too. I went out to tend the chickens and as I slid across the road and over the snow it cracked under my feet like ice on a lake. Our pathetic little sledding hill has transformed into a major speedway and we have had at least one (minor) injury there today.

I suppose someone should go out and shovel or something but sitting by the fireplace is just too perfect today and so we will just hope the temperature will go up just enough to make slush by tomorrow. Don't have to feel guilty about a driveway full of slush.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Story About One of the Things I am Reminded of Each Year on My Birthday

Donny Osmond Pictures, Images and Photos
When I was in third grade I was totally in love with Donny Osmond. He was cute, happy and could sing and dance, plus his favorite color (purple) was my favorite color. But the thing that really tied us together was the fact that our birthdays were just days apart. Mine is December 6 (today) while his is December 9. Somehow that seemed really meaningful. What can I say? I was desperately looking for connections.

Anyway, my friend Katie and I sent letters to him (including our school photos) where I highlighted our special bond. She received a response (probably a form letter) AND a signed publicity photo. I got nothing and I was so devastated. Now I know that the responses were probably totally random but at the time I was sure that Katie got a letter back because she was a beautiful girl, while I was, well I wasn't.

My crush on Donny ended (painfully) and I moved on to Leif Garrett, Shaun Cassidy and then eventually on to a few real life (and also unattainable) boys.

Years passed, poor Donny became a joke and my life got worse, then better. I met Doug and then Donny released an album in 1989 that I really liked and it served as a pretty good comeback for him. He did a tour and in an interesting twist of fate, did a concert in Philadelphia in 1989, on my birthday. I told Doug that THAT was what I wanted to do for my birthday and because he was totally in love with me, we went. I should add here that Doug used to follow the Dead around in the 70's and actively eschewed popular culture. So it was a big deal for him to go to this concert and he got a lot of ribbing from his friends.

But the concert was great! Even Doug admitted it and I was a bit surprised myself. Donny had a really funky band, with a killer back up singer, he made fun of himself (he sang a kind of hip hop version of One Bad Apple and then stopped in the middle, said "No" and began a new song) and he was very engaging as a performer. I forgave him that night for the letter incident in third grade, although I didn't go so far as to stand down in front, jump up and down while holding an I Love You sign, screaming "Donny, Donny" like some women did. I am not that kind of girl.

Life went on. Donny found new success performing in musicals and eventually, in another interesting twist of fate, Doug and I moved to Utah, home to the Osmond family, including Donny! Wow! Actually, I didn't really care but it did seem mildly ironic at the time.

Donny and I had one more connection (unbeknownst to him, of course) in Utah. Around 1999 or so, Doug found himself standing next to Donny in a line at the Salt Lake City airport. They chatted a bit (Doug is very personable) and Doug mentioned that I had been a fan of his back in the 70's and that we had also seen him perform in 1989. He was just getting around to asking for an autograph for me when a woman came up to them and began to talk excitedly to Donny, then proceeded to nearly hyperventilate. Doug said that my Donny was very kind to her, helped her calm down, and signed some autographs. Doug politely bowed out of the mayhem and I missed out again.

This time it didn't sting at all, although an autograph would have been an appropriate ending to our my story. Even though Donny and I were never meant to be, the third grader in me still thinks that there still might be a chance and I am reminded of that each year on "our" birthdays.....

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

On Track Again

Snowy Hill, 2007, Oil on Panel, 9x12

Well, I have been very productive in the studio this week, despite my nervousness at getting back to painting. I have (nearly) finished a few very small ones, 5x7 or so, three 12x16 panels, and one 12x16 that looks a bit iffy. There is always at least one spoilsport.

Today, Doug went down to the city for the first time in several weeks and I enjoyed having the house to myself. I wasted time worked on the computer for a bit and then made some blueberry muffins. Finally around noon I got to work and I actually got quite a bit done this afternoon. I put color down on six more pieces, four 9x9's, one 16x20 and one 18x24. They all looked pretty good after the first pass, although I will have to double check that tomorrow!

So I am feeling pretty good about having enough mid-size pieces ready for the show in January. Next week I will start on a few larger sized paintings, 24x36 and up.

This evening I had to go pick up two of the kids at the local sports center. No big deal, I do it almost everyday. Except that I haven't been doing it for awhile. I haven't driven a car for about three weeks and I confess to feeling a bit mixed up when I got into the driver's seat. And to top it all off, the roads are really bad here! We have had quite a bit of snow and ice over the last few days and even with my 4 wheel drive I was worried about sliding off the road. I drove like an old lady though and even though it took forever, we all got home safely.

Next up: getting back to my daily walk. Not that I was actually doing it daily before I got sick, but you know, it's always a goal. Heh.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It's My Obsession

Pay It Forward Images, 2007, Oil on Panel, each are 4"x6"

Mixed in with the last batch of work I did before I got sick several weeks ago, were the paintings for the Pay It Forward project. I figured I better get them done right away otherwise I'd be freaking out trying to get them out next year at this time! Of course it may take me that long to get it together to get them shipped out anyway.

I decided to go with one of the images that I have been obsessing about for the last few years-one that I have now painted in nearly every size, from 48"x60" to 4"x6". I am very happy with how these turned out, and now I have all kinds of ideas about what to do next with this image.

My obsession is not over yet.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Back To It

Drive Through, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Today was pretty much a normal day. I did the chicken chores (in a snowstorm), I sat at my computer most of the morning (not exactly what I should be doing, but a completely normal manner of procrastination before I was sick), worked in the studio in the afternoon, plus I made dinner and did a few loads of laundry. I can't say that I am full of energy or anything, but I am feeling pretty good finally.

An interesting thing though about getting back to work. I worked for a few hours on Sunday afternoon doing some underpaintings, first time back in three weeks, and it was tough! I was nervous at first, my hands were actually shaking and it took me awhile to get into a groove. I was close to it towards the end however, and even though I didn't have the usual exhilaration that I normally have after starting a bunch of underpaintings, I felt pleased. And relieved. Today, I started with color on some underpaintings that I did before I got sick and it was the same thing. Nervous then I gradually settled in. I think tomorrow will be better. And the work I accomplished was good.

I have found that going back to work after something happens (like after my mom died) is surprisingly difficult, maybe because that is when I really want and need the comfort of painting. Going back to work after taking an extended regular old break isn't quite so tough and isn't so emotionally challenging. Everything looks different after an event that keeps me away from work and perhaps the desperation to go back to the familiar skews all of it. Ultimately, though I am not worried. There is always something to be gained from life's experiences, even if it takes awhile to figure out what the lesson is. In the meantime, my discipline will carry the day.

I am still going to go to bed early tonight though.