Wednesday, January 30, 2008


In the middle of all of my preparations for leaving for Vermont on Sunday, I have had to tackle the part of being a painter (well, the way I paint anyway) that really sucks.

I use cotton rags to wipe off the paint when I do the underpaintings, as well as to wipe off my brushes and to wipe off the color paint, especially if I have put down a color that doesn't work. Mindful of how wasteful this is, I use the rags until they are so saturated and/or stiff from oil paint that they can stand up and walk away on their own. I bought two fifty pound boxes of rages from Rose Brand about two years ago and I am just now using up the last bit of the first box.

Normally I have quite a few on hand, but of course I always get to the bottom of the pile just when I am the busiest-like right now. Plus this time I will need to take a batch along with me to the residency. So the other day I loaded up a laundry basket of rags, which turned out to be two loads in the washer (I wash them first to get rid of as much of the lint as possible). Then I have to go through them and cut the larger pieces into smaller sections. I try to make different sized pieces-large ones to wipe the brush on after I rinse them or to get rid of excess glaze or paint, medium/smaller sized pieces to use during the painting process and also for the underpaintings. Then all of the pieces get sorted, folded up, and stored in their own cabinet.

This is all very tedious, and I usually end up with a blister or two from scissors. I have tried to get the kids to do this job, but I can't even pay them enough to stick with it, they hate it as much as I do. It is slightly more tolerable when I do it over the course of a few days, and if I have music or the TV on. I try to do enough at one time though, so that I won't have go through this torture more than a few times per year.

Super exciting post, huh? Well, that's what I have been doing the last few days-painting, and washing/cutting/folding cotton rags, very fulfilling work that will surely change the world. Heh.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I don't like to talk too much about the directions I'd like to take as far as my work goes. I firmly believe in jinxes and I have noticed that whenever I discuss what I will be doing, it all fails miserably. Thinking about it too much and trying to envision what the work will look like has the same effect. But I need to do a little bit of planning here, and I have decided to risk a big fat jinx by publicly stating what my focus will be while I am on this residency.

When I began painting again after years of being a stay at home mom, I just sort of fell into painting the landscape. It wasn't anything I had done before and I certainly have been exploring that genre for the last four years! I feel like I have really developed my painting skills and so now I'd like to explore some different imagery. Back in college I was quite proficient at drawing and painting almost anything (EXCEPT the landscape) which is a byproduct of being an illustration major. We did a lot of drawing and had to cover a wide variety of subject matter.

Anyway, the figure was always a favorite subject for me and I had a pretty good eye for it, I think. I was good at likenesses, but I was still working on developing my painting skill in college and I never did get those two things to work together very well. Now I have the painting thing down pretty well and since I still love my painting process, it is still challenging and fulfilling to me, I don't intend on mixing that up during this time (someday I will, but perhaps that will be a more gradual process) and so I will focus on developing different imagery. Since there will be three hours of figure drawing sessions each weekday during my residency, I plan to take full advantage of working on the figure.

So this is my plan: First of all, I am going to toss off a barn or landscape or two just to warm up and get comfy in a new studio. After that I am planning to do a lot of drawing at first during the figure sessions, then will move on to doing some underpaintings directly from the model. In between all of that I am going to try and incorporate the drawn images into paintings along with some kind of background. In addition, I have about a million vintage photographs which I am going to take along. I have used those as reference before; I've taken figures from those and have put them into different backgrounds, with varying degrees of success. That was a direction I have always wanted pursue but didn't have the time and am hoping to do that now.

Now, having stated my plans, I have to add that I don't necessarily think I will follow through with them. I just need some parameters to start with. The thought of being able to do whatever I want while I am there is too overwhelming for me and I will flounder and probably accomplish nothing. I need a goal, a focus, along with the ability to be flexible and change directions later on.

So it's anybody's guess, including mine, on what kind of work I will be bringing home at the end of February!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

List of supplies to take to the Vermont Studio Center:


2 pads of 18x24 newsprint

4 pads of 18x24 Strathmore Drawing paper

1 pad of 18x24 Charcoal paper

Tackle box, containing drawing supplies, includes:
a variety of charcoal sticks, conte crayons (lots of sanguine, my favorite), woodless graphite pencils, mostly 9B, graphite sticks, 2 litho sticks, pencil sharpener, chamois cloth, a box of Pink Pearl erasers, straight edge blades, sandpaper block, a box of band-aids, fingernail clippers

3 Drawing boards, and a few masonite panels as well

All of my oil paints, (how can I possibly leave any of my dear colors behind?) including several huge tubes of my favorite underpainting color

Most of my good sable brushes

A few crappy brushes

A box-o-rags from Rose Brand

My ceramic butcher trays and several pads of disposable palette paper

2 Glass jars with coils

1 Liter bottle of Liquin (maybe 2)

A gallon of Turpenoid natural

Primed oil paper pads, Daler-Rowney in a variety of sizes

Tape, white, masking, blue

Box of latex gloves

A gallon of gesso

Gesso brush

As many panels as I can fit in my car

A roll of primed canvas, maybe

Roll of glassine paper

And for those times when I feel like I need to just putter in the studio rather than paint:

My toolbox which will have a hammer, nails, my drill, and hanger supplies (for the panels)

Black paint

Ace Hardware sanding blocks, coarse

Digital camera


ipod with the awesome headphones that Doug gave me for Christmas

Personal Items:

Clothing (duh)
My pillow
A blanket
A stack of books
Knitting project
An alarm clock
My watch, which needs a new battery
Cell phone and charger
Laptop computer and accompanying cords and attachments
My new bifocal eyeglasses which will be really great for drawing from the figure-no more choosing between the blurry figure (glasses off) or being bothered by working close (glasses on)
Cold weather gear, including my fake fur hat with the ear flaps that makes me look like a Russian!

Any other suggestions? I am sure I am forgetting something....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Deep Red Woods, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x24

I think my posts may be a bit sporadic for the next few weeks. I am overwhelmed with work right now, which is feeling slightly painful. I really wanted to be taking a break before I go to Vermont, but instead I am actually starting some new paintings today, which, hopefully I will be able to finish and get shipped out before next Friday. I love that a number of my galleries need more paintings, but I am also concerned that I will arrive in Vermont burned out. Probably the change in environment and focus will deter that, but who knows?

And the the whole residency thing is really on my mind a lot now. I am worried about being homesick, missing my kids, my husband and my own bathroom (will be sharing one there). I am concerned about socializing so much more than I am used to and what if no one wants to sit with me at dinner? Do I really have to just go and sit next to someone I don't know? Oh the pressure! Stuff like that takes me right back to that torture known as middle school every time. Note to self: Grow up!


Yesterday, I did a blog search and came across two blogs (one here and one here. written by artists who are currently at the Vermont Studio Center. These blogs, in addition to what Kesha has told me have given me a pretty good idea about what to expect. So in addition to being nervous, I am also incredibly excited and can't wait to get there and get started.

I am taking my own pillow along though. That will help.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Birch Panels

Through There, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x24

Ok, last week, several people, including Michelle, Janet and Kim, asked about my panels, so I said I would write about them in a post. However, the whole topic seemed familiar and so I looked through my archives and found two posts that discuss switching over to birch panels, after having used gessobord panels for quite some time. At first I bought several large ones to work on, you can read about my panic attack concerning the scale here. And then last year I began to exclusively use the birch panels and I wrote about that here.

And with that bit of background info I will explain why I have my panels made for me, rather than buying them at a wonderfully low price in a Home Depot. Mostly it's because rather than framing my work, (I do not think my paintings look good with a frame) I prefer the cradled panels. Which leads me to reason #2: In many ways I am a full out girly-girl. While technically I know my way around a woodshop, I really prefer not to have to actually do work in one. The dust, the noise, the possibility of losing a body part, ick. Um, and I don't have a workshop anyway. AND there is no way that I could ever possibly have enough time to build nearly 200 cradled panels each year either. Even if I did have enough time, I have about a million other things I'd rather do. In theory, I'd like to be that self-sufficient but instead, I must comfort myself with the knowledge that I am helping to keep others afloat in their professions and so most of my panel business goes to Soho Artist Materials in New York City. They have been great to work with and I can't tell you how exciting it still is to get a batch of new panels from them. They are so beautifully finished and so full of promise! As I said they are a bit pricey, for example an 18x24 costs $40, but since I don't have any framing costs, that price becomes much more reasonable, and my time involved in painting the cradles and putting the hangers on etc, is fairly minimal. However the prep is kind of a pain in the neck. I apply two coats of clear polyurethane to the backs and two coats of wood primer on the front and sides, sanding between each coat. And then I apply a coat of gesso to the painting surface. If I really keep at it I can do a table full of panels in a day, but more often it gets spread out over a few days or even a week sometimes. My son is going to work as my assistant next summer and prepping panels will be his very first job!

So that's my panel story and I am sticking to it. And to follow up on the painting that the 48x60 panel became in the post linked above, the image was a barn and was not hung in the show that it was intended for, as the gallery director didn't like it. It then went to another show where it didn't sell and proving that third time is the charm, it finally did sell last summer at yet another show. The other large panel sold last summer as well, as a sort of commission. I feel like I dodged a bullet by getting those two huge panels sold and out of the studio!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Supply Shopping and Supports

I have been gradually getting back into the studio for a short time each day. Although today I have waited just a bit too long and will not be able to get started before I have to leave at 1:30 for an appointment. Darn. Anyway it turns out that I can still paint. Good thing because things keep coming up; galleries need new work, a commission, etc. I am glad to be getting back to it, however, I also have to get things together for the residency, which is fast approaching. I just plunked down a big chunk of money for some supplies to take along. I needed some good drawing paper, more charcoal, woodless graphite pencils, 9B, which are one of my very favorite things to draw with, and sanguine conte crayons, which are #2. Getting ready for hours of figure drawing sessions!

I have also been trying to decide what kind of supports to take with me. Normally I paint on birch panels and I plan to take a variety of different sized panels along. However, they are pricey and god only knows what kind of crap work I may end up doing there so having some different options seems wise. I have some hardbord panels and in the past I have used primed paper, mounted on board and that was fine for studies. So I bought several pads of that (um, no time to be priming paper, in addition to the birch panels as well). I will have a variety of surfaces with me, plus there is an art supply store there as well, and I am feeling pretty good about my options. I had considered taking along a roll of primed canvas or linen in case I want to work on a larger scale, but I quickly became confused by all of the options so that bright idea is on hold. I don't like working on stretched canvas and I probably wouldn't want to stretch it later either. It would have to be mounted on board, which I haven't done in many years. Plus rolling up the painting to take it home seems wrong even though I know it is done all of the time. Any feedback on any of that?

Also, I stocked up on some new paint, which is always fun and bought a few new brushes while I was at it. I have finally found my favorite sable brushes-Old Holland makes a great kolinsky sable, wonderfully soft and they lose very few hairs. Expensive, but they last much longer than the others I have tried and not having to pick brush hairs out of the painting all of the time is worth it.

For some reason blogger will not download any of my jpegs. The little spinning thing freezes on the upload images page and then nothing happens. Is this me or the computer or is it blogger? I suppose it's mine......

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Number 18 (plus a rant)

It seems my computer's problem is hardware related, given it's symptoms. Um, especially the not starting up part and maybe the noise that comes from the back too. Doug is going to take it down to the city next week to see if it can be saved and if any of my info can be retrieved. I did manage to back up my jpegs before it totally crashed, but it will be tough to lose the files I didn't save-family pictures (don't get me started on how much I resisted storing our photos online, for exactly this reason! And yes I know that I am a complete moron for not backing up everything.) and my emails especially. And naturally we don't have Apple Care, so no matter what happens, I will be parting with a big chunk of money. Can I just add here that my computer is only two years old? Shouldn't this stuff really be lasting longer? Our iMacs from 1999 only lasted until 2003 before they too crashed and burned. Literally. Smoke came out of my computer. This technology crap sure is handy but is also infuriating and I totally suspect a bit of planned obsolescence going on here and it's really ticking me off. I am going through this with my car as well. Just after the car loan was finally paid off, it started breaking down. Big things too-axles, the timing belt, all kinds of engine thingys. I am very suspicious of all of this.

Ok, I am done with my rant. Sorry, got a bit carried away. Haven't I ever mentioned that I have a tendency to believe in conspiracy theories?

Anyway, in December I came across this post and was really interested to see who ranked where. And because I am completely self-involved I immediately high-tailed it over to technorati to see what my ranking there was. Seeing that it was pretty good and concerned that I wouldn't get my due, because, you know, this is all SO important, I left my technorati link in the comments section. Kim updated the list in January and I admit to being pretty pleased to see that I am in the top 20. Number 18 to be exact. Lisa is Number 12-cool! I am also slightly shocked that anyone finds me even remotely interesting; in my real life, I have noticed people looking around nervously for an escape route when I approach to say hi and no one wants to chat on the phone with me, which is one of my very favorite things to do. Heh. I am only partially kidding there.

So go check me out on Kim's list and then take a look at some of the other artist blogs. I frittered away a whole day looking through all of the ones I hadn't seen before.

Monday, January 14, 2008


I started to write a long detailed post about what we did on Saturday night, but I deleted it and I think all I really have to say is Alex P. Suter.

Ok, well there is a bit more I can say, big surprise, I know. Doug and I were lucky enough to see Ms. Suter and her band perform a few years ago at a Midnight Ramble at Levon Helm's barn in my favorite place, Woodstock, NY. They were incredible and we have never forgotten their show. Or Ms. Suter's voice. Neither did our friend, Jeff who we went to the show with. Jeff now puts together a local concert series and when this group came up as an option, he immediately signed them up.

Doug and I knew what to expect when they took the stage and so we really enjoyed hearing the entire audience exhale in awe when Alexis Suter began to sing the blues. She was in top form and even though our town must have looked pretty uptight to her, there was a lot more grooving and dancing than I ever expected by the end of the evening! There were a lot of kids dancing up front, including many of my daughter's friends (which made me feel bad for leaving the girls at home) and it was great fun to watch them dance. We have been living here for over four years and in many ways we still feel new to the area. But every once in awhile there is an event or activity where I really feel like I belong here, and this night was one of them. I found myself a bit teary eyed a few times seeing so many people that we know having such a good time.

Anyway, Doug and I are now all worked up about going to another Midnight Ramble and I think we will try to get together a bunch of friends to go. And in the meantime, while I am way too uptight to dance in front of anyone (I used to dance, but only after much alcohol) in private I will be practicing some of Vicki Bell's back-up singer dance moves. Ms. Bell is anything but just a back-up singer, but she sure can groove.

Oh and the other back up singer, Glenn Turner (Doug thinks he looks like a shorter version of Marvin Gaye) sang "Come Together" and I am pretty sure I like his version way better than the Beatles'. Heresy, I know, but it was really awesome.

If you want to hear Alexis P. Suter live, they just released this CD and it's really good.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Don't Feel Like It

Well, I wish I could say here that I have been so busy the last few days that I couldn't even find a few minutes to post. I meant to be busy, but post show meltdown has set in and I am floundering a bit in the studio. I did two underpaintings last week that are still just sitting there and I did manage to do about six new underpaintings yesterday, but that's about it. I could be putting paint on the big ones, but don't feel like it, I could be trying to figure out what to do about my computer, but don't feel like it, I could clean out and reorganize my kitchen cabinets, vacuum up the pet hair, go grocery shopping or get started on the paperwork I promised myself I would get to this month, but don't feel like doing any of those things either.

See? No matter how aware I am of what is happening, the good stuff throws me off my game. I am going to try again tomorrow, though, and hold off on totally freaking out about the loss of my mojo for at least a few more days.

PS. I haven't been totally inactive, I have gotten back into my (almost) daily 3 mile walk and I have been keeping up with the latest on Britney.

PPS. Am having trouble posting images today. Sorry.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Essay

This is an essay about me written by Peter McLaughlin. Peter interviewed me by phone, and later he told me that he was glad I didn't do "artspeak". I said I was just a plain old regular girl from the midwest and never did quite figure out how to talk like that.

Tracy Helgeson

If you saw a Tracy Helgeson painting in a window in San Francisco, or Fort Worth or Chicago… you’d know immediately who painted it. Her vibrant pink barns and fuscia colored trees leap to the eye and stick to the mind like images from a pleasant dream … the kind you can’t forget even after you wake up.

Helgeson’s landscapes – inspired by the old barns and farm lands around her home near Cooperstown, New York – are original, distinctive and surely unconventional. Where others see green trees and weathered barns, she sees them as magenta, purple, orange or even blue. But in her hands – despite the unorthodox treatment – the colors seem perfectly plausible.

When Helgeson moved to upstate New York in 2003 with her husband and four children, she was deeply affected by the beauty of the area and decided to start painting nature for the first time in her life. “Until four years ago,” she says, “I had never painted a landscape.” Helgeson admits that before moving to the little village of Fly Creek she was thoroughly a city girl who had lived and studied in Minneapolis and Philadelphia and whose forte was figure drawing. “Not having any preconceived notions of what a landscape painting should be gave me great freedom to explore and experiment. At first I just wanted to paint simple trees and horizons and skies. But then I started to notice and include the structures I saw on the local farms. I became intrigued by barns. With their strong sturdy shapes and dramatic angles they became focal points for many of my paintings. Barns served the purpose of hinting at human presence in a landscape without having to show humans.”
“When I started painting landscapes, ” says Helgeson, “ I thought the traditional paintings of that genre were rather dark and moody -- for me anyway -- and I felt a strong urge to break out of the conventional landscape tradition by using brighter, livelier colors. So I started experimenting with colors not usually seen in landscapes.”

Although they’re done in an abstracted fashion, all of Helgeson’s paintings are of real places. They may or may not be recognizable, though, because she freely changes what she sees… eliminating doors and windows from barns, putting in tree lines where they didn’t exist and, of course, changing colors. Helgeson calls her paintings a combination of observation and imagination. “In each painting I struggle to leave out details. I fight to keep my paintings simple, which goes against my natural instinct to be representational. That’s why I paint from memory or photographs and not from life. If I’m looking directly at the subject while I work I’m tempted to include too much detail. I often have to remind myself that I paint to express myself, not to depict something.”

Helgson’s paintings achieve their visual glow through a process that starts with an underpainting. “I put a big old glob of oil paint on a wood panel. (I won’t reveal the secret color but it’s of an orangish nature). Then I coat the entire panel with the paint using a cotton rag. It’s messy. I use my fingers and cotton rags to do a basic drawing, using my fingernails to scratch in the sharper lines on, say, the roof of a barn or the edge of a road. At this point I have created a full and recognizable image (it’s called a reductive drawing) that I let dry for several days. Then I apply the colors, by brush, in thin layers of transparent and opaque glazes that allow the image and the texture of the underpainting to show through.” Large areas of pure color define the simplified forms of structure, land and trees. However, closer inspection reveals many subtleties and variations within the color field. Pink is never just pink, green is never just green. Fiery orange and reds may be undercurrents, while deep blues and greens are subtle overtones.

“ I get a visceral thrill from the process of doing the painting. I delight in the texture of the surfaces, the smell of the paint, the softness of the brushes, the color of the underpainting and the process of applying each layer of color. This makes every painting a sensory pleasure for me and – I hope – for whoever else sees it.”

Despite her success with landscape painting, Helgeson would still like to add to her repertoire and do more figure drawing, the skill she developed at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts). “While in school we drew the unclothed figure nearly every day and I became quite good at it.” To that end, Helgeson has accepted the offer to do a month-long residency in February at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont. As artist-in-residence she’ll be free to pursue any art form she likes. “I’ve decided to do figure painting with the same technique I now uses on my landscapes. This will be a huge challenge because as an illustrator I did the figure in a conventional way. Now I’ll have to do it in a totally different style. The results should be very interesting.”
- Peter McLaughlin

Its Own Art Form

I had planned to post yesterday, but my computer is giving me trouble. It hasn't been starting up very well, although I did manage to get it up yesterday and quickly backed up all of my info before it froze up again. Including the jpegs of all of my work for the last four years! I am such an idiot for not doing that sooner. Anyway, I am able to access my email (and blogger on Doug's computer) and when he gets back in a few days we will try to figure out what to do. I am incredibly stupid when it comes to anything technical involving the computer, so I am not too keen on even calling Apple for help though I might do that though if I find that have a few hours to kill. As much as I love my Mac, I am not too happy with Apple. Their longevity leaves something to be desired, in my experience. I have only had this computer for two years. The last one I had collapsed and died (along with all my info) after only four years.

Sorry, no image today either. It's a long story, and mostly involves me being stupid so I won't go into it here.

So a little bit more about the opening last Saturday. Jo, the gallery owner and director, and her staff, really do an incredible job of organizing their shows, events and openings. They send out postcards, email invites, and I have been receiving many google alerts for articles announcing the show and the opening reception in the local papers. When Doug and arrived to the opening, our coats were whisked away and we were offered food and drink (which was excellent, of course), and since I only drink water, someone rounded up a bottle for me. As you could see in the photographs I posted yesterday, the show was hung beautifully. Everything was balanced, not too crowded (something I tend to do when hanging a show) and Jo chose the perfect variety of sizes and images to put together. The ones she didn't include in the front room, were displayed in the back room and a number of those pieces sold, so clearly none of the work was shortchanged by the staff. My work can be tricky to light, because of the rather shiny surface, but they hung each piece at just the right height and with the correct angle of light on them. And no bulbs were burnt out. I suspect they would have been horrified if there had been a bulb out at an opening, unlike a few other galleries I have showed at in the past. Each piece had a number next to it on the wall, rather than a label with the title, etc., and the corresponding information were in a price list, a few of which were on a table, along with an essay (which I will post later) about me. I was formally introduced to everyone that was interested in meeting me and left to chat with them. Normally I feel sort of of awkward and shy when meeting new people, but somehow I don't feel that way at the openings. I guess talking continually about how I work, how I prepare the painting surface, choose my images and colors, and discussing the area where we live makes me comfortable. It's all about me, baby!

I have put together a few openings myself, and I understand and appreciate how much goes into putting them together. It's a lot of work, an art form really, but should look like it's not. The Harrison Gallery accomplishes that perfectly and I am incredibly giddy pleased about working with them.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Opening Reception

The opening reception at The Harrison Gallery on Saturday night was awesome! There wasn't a huge crowd, but nearly everyone who came was there to meet me. And they all seemingly bought a painting or already owned one or more. One couple bought four! By the end of the evening the sales count was at eleven. Several pieces, including Red Gambrel (above), were sold before the opening. Doug and I were a bit giddy on the way home!

This is all very exciting, of course, but it is also the kind of stuff that messes with my head. Everyone was very complimentary about my work and while such feedback is great, if I start thinking how fab I am, my work really suffers. I will think every mark I make is the best, when in reality they aren't always, and I need to be able to see that.

So I indulged myself a bit last night with a satisfied feeling of pride and accomplishment, plus a little grandiosity thrown in, but today I have to shovel out the chicken crap from the hen house while it is relatively warm and then get right back to painting tomorrow. The Harrison Gallery wants larger scale paintings for their inventory before I leave for Vermont next month!

Woo-hoo!!! (Sorry, just a bit more self-indulgence, couldn't help myself:))

Friday, January 4, 2008


Thursday was a very nice relaxed day for me and I thoroughly enjoyed having the house to myself (kids at school, Doug in the city). Um, you know, so I could do laundry and clean with MY music blaring throughout the house.

Surprisingly though, what I really wanted to do was to paint. Usually I feel like a limp dishrag for at least a few days after I ship or deliver work for a show and I generally take some time off before getting back to work. But seeing my work all spread out at the gallery on Wednesday inspired me to get right back to it. It all looked awesome together! The process of painting for this show had been filled with stops and starts, not to mention a few gaps filled with work from another show. And even though I always spread the work out and look at it as a group for a show beforehand, strangely, this time it didn't even cross my mind to do that. So I was pretty lucky that it worked out.

Anyway, after seeing everything and having a (positive) conversation with the gallery director on Wednesday about the larger paintings I felt really excited about starting a few more. I forced myself to take one day and clean up so that I wouldn't be distracted by that, OR grossed out by the condition of our downstairs bathroom, and then this morning I spent a few hours doing two underpaintings, both sized 30x40. I would have liked to do a few more but I had a hair appointment, which frankly, takes precedent. Heh. Maybe I'll do a few more on Sunday.

That is unless, the opening tomorrow sends me into Post Show Meltdown, of course.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Delivery To Williamstown

Today, Doug and I are driving to Williamstown, MA, in order to deliver my work to The Harrison Gallery. I always enjoy these trips. I am usually filled with relief to be done with everything, for the moment anyway, and when Doug comes with, we always enjoy having a few hours of uninterrupted conversation,

The painting that I have posted today is one that I am very happy with and if we had more wall space I might consider keeping it. But we don't, so I am not and so it will be included in the show. Anyway, it's a big panel and the whole thing, start to finish, just burst right out of me. I can't explain it any better than that. I like the colors, the tree and I don't know what made me do it, but I especially love the blue at the horizon line on the left side. It's quite different than how I usually resolve those areas. And now, as is my habit, I will probably do that in every painting I do until Doug shakes me and tells me to stop!

So if you are anywhere close to the Berkshires this weekend, please come by the opening on Saturday, January 5, 5-7pm to see this fab painting for yourself, and/or to meet me and Doug. Or if you feel a bit shy about that, at least visit the gallery sometime in January, the show will be up until January 31st.

Oh, and I came across this article about the show. I think it is a press release from the gallery as much of it comes from my artist statement. Not the adjective "passionate" though. While I love to hear my work described as that I think my face would turn beet red if I ever described my own work as passionate!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Resolutions (vs Reality)

Comfort, 2007, Oil on Panel, 9x9

Last year I publicly announced a list of New Year's resolutions. I was sure that if I said them out loud I would be more likely to accomplish them. HA!

I am listing my resolutions for 2007. What actually happened is in italics after each item.

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

Not even close. I still have not filled out an inventory sheet for most of the paintings that I did in 2006, let alone 2007. I do have all the info in various place on my computer, but have I even backed that up? No. I will be renewing this resolution for 2008.

2. Keep my studio clean and tidy.

Ha again! I did what I usually do-clean it thoroughly, then let it get so messy that I can barely get to the easel. Right now it is very tidy though, and I am loving it.

3. More studio time, less computer time.

Double ha! I totally spent way too much time on the computer in 2007, however I did get rid of the sore elbow that I had last year, by switching the use of my mouse to my left hand. It took some doing to get used to that but I figure I have at least another year of daily use before the radiating pain begins in my left elbow.

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.

I went once in January and once last fall. A spectacular failure.

5. Develop new imagery for my oils.

I started to work on some different things last January but then I got really busy with the landscape work again and so experimenting fell by the wayside. I feel sad about this but I was pleased with how my landscape and barn work evolved, so I am not too bent out of shape here.

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.

My pastels are in exactly the same spot as last year. Again, I didn't have enough time or energy to experiment and the thought of confronting a,b,c,d,e, was too overwhelming.

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

Didn't even lift a finger here.

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

Or here. Well, that isn't quite true. I did email the link to my website to a gallery in NYC, who now shows (and sells) my work. So technically I did lift a finger after I hit send. Does that count?

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

I did save a little bit, but because of our personal expenses (like having the house painted and property taxes) I didn't save as much as I could have otherwise, However, just being able to write that sentence is monumental and I am proud of it. I went for a dozen years with a big fat zero in my earnings column on our tax return and to now be able to claim a real income, let alone being able to pay for something like a new roof or paint job makes me feel a bit teary eyed. However, a new studio will have to wait until 2009.

10. Um, earn more money for #9.

This one I accomplished!!! My income for 2007 was a respectable number, especially for an artist, and it was a 70% increase over my income in 2006. I was hoping for a 20% increase so more than that was just icing on the cake.

With the notable exception of #10, I think I can safely say that my resolution list was pretty much a bomb. But that's ok. I didn't really feel tied to those goals, especially since I had so many positive things happening, things that kept me accomplishing those specific items, but allowed me to achieve things I hadn't really thought about yet.

These are some of the things that I did do last year:

1. My badly kept records (I can keep track by how many jpegs I have made) indicate that I painted about 170 paintings in 2007. About two dozen of those are currently in the inventory of the galleries that represent me, I have a few pieces here in my own inventory, plus the 23 pieces for the show at The Harrison Gallery. Which means that...

2. I sold 111 paintings in 2007!! A few less than in 2006 (114 that year), but....

3. 2007 was the year I painted big! I did 16 paintings that were 24x36 or larger (that's big to me) and working that large was a challenge to me in every way. And all of them have been sold so I guess it was a good direction to take.

4. I had 4 solo shows and participated in 5 group shows.

5. I donated 3 paintings to local fundraisers.

6. I applied for and was accepted to the Vermont Studio Center for a one month artist residency.

7. I read too many books to list, not as many as I would have liked, but more than I have been able to read in the past few years.

8. I raised 8 new baby chicks, saved them from being killed by the older hens, and we are now enjoying their eggs each day.

9. I knitted 5 scarves and one sweater. Again, less than I used to do, but more than I have been able to do lately.

10. I traveled more than usual. I went to New Mexico (twice), Atlanta, spent a few weekends in NYC with Doug, and had a week long family vacation in New Hampshire.

11. I was able to spend some time with my mom before she died last August, and am now happy to have my sister back in my life.

12. And my best accomplishment was keeping the kids, household and husband on track for another year.

These things were so much more meaningful and important to me than the resolutions I had made. But, because I am an idiot, I will extend the 2007 resolutions for another year and see what happens. Maybe I'll end up with a museum show. Or a field of sheep. Or a new baby. heh.

I shouldn't even joke about that last one.