Friday, May 30, 2008

The Joy of Painting

Elemental, 2008, Oil on Panel, 9x18

So exactly five years ago this month we were still living in Utah and just finishing up the renovations on our money pit house here in NY. Our excellent contractor and his crew did a wonderful job, but naturally we went way over budget (well I did, I kept adding things) and the bid for painting the interior was about 20,000! Yikes! No money for that at all. So we hired the painter to do the ceilings and to prime the new walls. And our brilliant plan was then for me to spend a week or two out here, painting the house. The first trip was for about a week and there was electricity, telephone and heat in the house but nothing else. No appliances, satellite service, furniture. We had brought a load of things the previous summer so there was a bed and a few chairs and I did have a portable stereo, thank god, or I would have totally gone crazy, but that was it. There was one sink, a toilet and no shower (only a tub) hooked up. I kept food in a cooler on the porch and I would have gone out for dinner each night but I ended working almost every single minute that I was here. On that first trip I lightly sanded all of the previously painted woodwork with a palm sander, which sucked so bad I can't even tell you. I remember sitting out on the front steps just crying because I was so sick of the endless sanding. But I got the woodwork sanded and primed AND I even managed to get sides of the kitchen cabinets painted so that the appliances could be installed after I left. I also managed to paint the walls where new sinks and toilets would be installed.

The next visit a month later was better. I had a refrigerator and a microwave. The utility sink was hooked up. I had shipped out a few boxes so I had some things like dishes, a lamp, a few books, etc. I was only planning to stay a week or so but even though I was working almost every minute of the day, I still needed more time. So I talked to Doug and we agreed I would stay longer, but unfortunately that meant I would miss my daughter's sixth birthday, something I still feel guilty about and something that she doesn't even remember. Heh. Anyway, my strongest memories of this trip were of sitting on the front steps at two in the morning rinsing out paint brushes in mineral spirits while the neighbor (a doctor) drove by very slowly peering at me and probably wondering what the heck I was doing. I got most of the house painted though before I left to go back to Utah.

When we moved about a month or so later I went out ahead of the movers and finished up a few more things. And over the next month or so I did the last odds and ends. Finally I put everything away (without painting the last two window sashes, and they are primed but still no top coat five years later) and even though there are spots that could use some touching up, um thanks to the movers and to the kids, I have had a mental block about any kind of house painting whatsoever. I developed a newfound respect for painters and at the time, if we had actually had 20,000 dollars, I would have happily handed it over. On the other hand, painting this house really did help me feel connected to it, in a way that I have never felt about anywhere I have ever lived before. So I guess all in all it was a valuable experience. Um, yeah.

Why am I writing about all of this? Well, because it's another blog post to fill AND because I am having major flashbacks to that time. I have been painting my new attic studio for the last few days and all of that work five years ago is rushing back to me. I can't say I am feeling physically ill like I thought I would if I ever had to tape off a window or use a paint roller again, and in fact I am somewhat enjoying the mindless activity and loud music (see #4 below).

I have noticed a few things though:

1. I definitely am not in the same physical shape as I was five years ago. Ok, I admit it, I have gained a few pounds since then and I don't exercise near as much as I used to either. There is little chance that I can work all day, or for even more than a few hours, even if I wanted to. Crap. I need to get back to gym when this is all over.

2. I have the jiggly arm thing going now too and it is most noticeable when rolling paint onto the sloped ceiling. Yayyy.

3. My music options are much better. When I painted the house, I listened to about 10 different CD's over and over and over again. This time I have my iPod and unlimited talk to listen to on satellite radio.

4. I am not so out of shape that I can't sing while I work. The acoustics in my virtually empty attic are amazing and even though I am a horrible singer. I sound great. Well, at least the kids are at school and aren't around to tell me otherwise. Heh.

5. Every minute that I am painting the smooth new sheet rock walls, I am mumbling thank yous that there is no wallpaper to strip, no woodwork to sand and no suspicious stuff to scrape off. Last time I was just complaining about all of that stuff.

6. I don't recall bumping my head at all when painting the entire rest of the house. So far I have bumped my head at least seven times in the last few days. Mostly on the beams, and when backing out of the knee wall storage space. Luckily, I am not so decrepit yet that I can't walk while bent over without putting my back out and so yesterday I avoided hitting my head entirely.

7. I am actually afraid to paint the short wall that is about two feet from the open stairwell. I am saving it for last. Surely when I was 38 that wouldn't have bothered me at all, right?

Anyway, I am hoping to finish this up next week sometime. There is still much that has to be done in the garden this weekend, finally time to get the tomatoes in! and so I will only be able to paint in smaller increments of time.

And a post about wall color next too. Oy, has THAT been an issue!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Opening Reception in Hudson

Clustered at the Turn, 2008, Oil on Panel, 20x40

OK folks. Here's the official info for the opening gallery reception at Carrie Haddad Gallery. It's this Saturday, May 31, 6-8pm, and the address is 622 Warren Street, Hudson NY. Just two short hours by train from NYC.

And just a note about the images on the gallery's website. I neglected to load my jpegs of the work onto a disc and give it to the gallery when I dropped off the work. I was busy trying to get all the paintings finished and wrapped and I just didn't get to it before I had to leave. Not only that, I photographed the large painting, 40x60, the centerpiece of the show, AND DID NOT LOOK AT THE IMAGE BEFORE I DELIVERED THE PAINTING. Bad, bad girl. The next day I sat down at the computer to photoshop the image, and email it and the rest of the images to the gallery for their website. Of course, the photo was very bad, irretrievable even in photoshop. Large pieces are difficult to photograph anyway, but if I would have looked at the image I could have tried to photograph it again. So I decided to send the other images that were ready but when I checked the website to see if they had posted any of the earlier jpegs I had sent previously, I noticed that all of the paintings for the show were posted. The gallery had photographed and posted them within a day. Agh! At least someone is efficient! The images look OK, but they aren't quite right, there's too much contrast and the colors look harsher than they really are in real life. Probably not so noticeable to anyone but me, but they just don't look quite right. However, the gallery obviously took some time to do this and I will not be asking them to reload a bunch of images all over again, especially not now, right before the opening.

So let this be a lesson to you all and maybe I will get it this time too. Make it a priority to ALWAYS include the jpegs along with the work when delivering work to a gallery.

But jpeg issues aside, I am very proud of the work I did for this show. The big piece that I mentioned freaking kicks ass, if I do say so myself (actually I wasn't sure how it would look outside my studio, the lighting I had on it was BAD and frankly, I wasn't too sure what the heck it would look like under better lighting) and Doug stopped by the gallery yesterday on his way to the city and he said it looks great. Not surprising since Carrie and Melissa always do an excellent job hanging the shows. This is my third show at Carrie's gallery and is the first time my work has been displayed in the front room so that is way cool.

But before I get too obnoxious with how great I am, I must remind myself that this is the last big exhibition that I have scheduled until next summer. I suppose things will come up, but one never really knows, huh?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Busy (and buggy) Weekend

Well even though my new car is a terrible gas guzzler, it is perfect in every other way. It has the best cup holders ever AND very easily fits 22 paintings into the back (including the 40x60 panel, wow!) not to mention more annuals than a girl could ever want.

So this was a busy holiday weekend. Doug spent most of it in the vegetable garden, I spent half my time in my studio finishing up the paintings so I could deliver them to the gallery on Monday, and the rest of the time I planted flowers and cleaned up my flower gardens a bit. The drawback of being outside so much this time of the year are the bugs that have been saving up their toxins all winter for us. We get the worst bites this time of the year! Doug and I both have bug bites that are red, swollen and incredibly itchy; his worst is on his left hand, mine are on my ears. Lovely.

But despite the killer bugs it was a lovely weekend. And I am very happy to have finished up the work for this show. Now it's time to tackle everything that has been piling up around here. Oh yeah, and get my new studio painted. Yayyy!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Studio Update

Sky Cover, 2008, Oil on Panel, 11x14

Unfortunately, I have hardly stepped foot into my new studio in the last two weeks. I did take painting supplies (to paint the walls) up there but that was about a week ago.

I have had to put the new studio (and all of that glorious space) out of my head so that I can focus on finishing up work for my upcoming show at the Carrie Haddad Gallery in Hudson NY. This weekend will be the last push and in between a few sleepovers, soccer games, work in the garden, and sleep (I hope), I will be painting cradles, putting on the picture wire, doing the paperwork and then wrapping everything up for delivery to the gallery on Monday. My new assistant (my son) will accompany me on the drive down, which means I will be listening to a lot of Beatles music and his new "discovery": Meatloaf. Like I haven't listened to Bat Out of Hell so many times that I wore out two vinyl albums, and one CD (now it's safely downloaded to my iPod and will last forever; or at least until they come up with a new format). Besides being shallow I am also very immature. Just so you know.


Bright and early on Tuesday morning I will be getting into my studio and will be priming and painting the walls and trim. Good times. Then the floor guy will come in to sand and finish the floors. I considered painting them for about two seconds, but they are 12 and 14 inch wide pine planks, original to the house and somehow it seems criminal to paint them. So natural wood it is!

But I will have to wait until the floor is finished before I can begin moving up there. That's ok, I have much to do in the meantime. I still have to keep painting as I will be going to the Affordable Art Fair in mid-June, with Carrie Haddad, and I also have a small solo show in July at a gallery here in Cooperstown. Plus I think that nearly every single drawer, cabinet, and room in our house needs to be cleaned out and reorganized.

Like I said, good times.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

American Idol (sorry about this)

Round The Bend, 2008, Oil on Panel, 16x20

Well, I have to admit that I really enjoyed most of the American Idol finale last night. This is only the third finale I have watched-the first one was the year that Taylor Hicks won and I recall feeling as if I was in pain during the whole thing- it was so stupid. Same with last year's even though I had watched most of the season and felt a bit invested in the outcome. So I fully expected to hate this one too.

Parts of it definitely were lame, like the Mike Myers bit and the endless product placement. But I really enjoyed the performances by ZZ Top, Graham Nash and we were all hysterical during the Gladys Night and the Pips bit. And was it just me or did the Idol contestants look a if they were going to burst open with joy while performing with the guests? I loved that.

But the best part was seeing my honey, Jason Castro again, and I felt proud of him for singing Hallelujah in front of such a big audience. He IS pretty new to singing you know (yes, I have read a few interviews with him, so sue me).

And heaven help me but I even liked the group performances by the top 12 contestants. Normally I hate all that, but last night it was kind of like seeing a bunch of old friends again.

This year I have wasted way too much time reading other's opinions about AI and the contestants and while I appreciate the snarkiness, I have to say that I have mostly enjoyed the performances (except for Kristy Lee Cook singing Eight Days a Week, that was so unbelievably horrible and the girl sang it TWICE!). I think it is because I am such a bad singer myself, that nearly everyone sounds good to me.

My kids were horrified to hear me blurt out "holy shit" (they are kind of uptight) when the winner was announced. I was pretty sure that David Archuleta would be the winner and in fact, thought that would be better for David Cook, who could then go on and probably have much better recording options. But since I love a good contest and can't help but want to love the winner, I was happy that David Cook won.

So there you go. Now you know how shallow I truly am.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Family Farm

Soft Sky Over Farm, 2008, Oil on Panel, 12x24

My mom's cousin Judy, who lives on the same farm in Ohio where my grandmother grew up, sent me a bunch of photographs of their beautiful barns. Since I have become intrigued lately with painting clusters of barns, I was immediately interested in using her photos as reference. Her photos were beautiful, great light, great composition, but it turns out that they were maybe too good. I found it to be very difficult to translate them, perhaps because they weren't my vision in the first place.

I had suspected this may be the case for quite awhile. Doug takes pictures and even they they are almost exactly the kind of landscape imagery (and sometimes he'll even take a shot of a barn that he thinks I might like) that I like to paint, I have not really felt interested in using his photos as reference. And I don't take great photos or anything, in fact the worse they are the better they are to work from. Guess the painting just works better when it's my view that I begin with. Thank goddess!:) It is all me after all.


I really wanted to portray the family farm and because I like to think that I can transcend the reference if I have to, I decided to work from Judy's photos. The first few paintings I did crashed and burned, the third one was good and was included in a solo show, the next one was ok, and then the one pictured above worked out pretty well. It is my favorite so far. I struggled with the sky/treeline relationship, and after wiping off the paint a few times, I finally covered the whole area with green and then worked back into the sky with the blue. Normally I paint in sections but I liked changing it up and I am pleased with the soft and moody sky here.

I guess this painting represents quite a few lessons learned.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Red Carol, 2008, Oil on panel, 24x36

I am not entirely happy with how this portrait turned out, but I am not exactly unhappy with it either. It reminds me of the first series of paintings I did (here is one) after taking time off to have babies; fine, but too precise and not expressing whatever it is that my heart wants to say.

Ugh, terribly sappy, eh?

Anyway, it is a good start I think, and because the piece doesn't totally suck, I entered it (yesterday, exactly one half hour before the deadline) in our local arts organization's annual national competition, the one that I enter every year, but have only been accepted into once. So we'll see.

I've probably just jinxed myself now by mentioning this though.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Little Break

Land Fall, 2008, Oil on Panel, 12x24

I have been a bit neglectful lately concerning this blog. Mostly because I have been really, really busy the last few days, but also because I was feeling a bit out of sorts before that. For about two or three weeks I sat around doing as little as I could possibly get away with and was sliding down into a pretty decent funk. This coincided with a closing gallery, fewer sales, our house being upended during a bit of remodeling and Doug being out of town for quite awhile. None of those things have really changed, however last Thursday I saw my acupuncturist and told him how lethargic I had been and he treated me accordingly. That night I poured out my problems to Doug and told him how overwhelmed I was with everything and how I have had to give up so many things in order to keep painting. Waaaaaa....

It felt good to let it all out, to be reassured and taken seriously and when I woke up on Friday morning, I was nearly brimming with energy. The difference this time was that I had energy all day, not just until mid afternoon (if that) like before, and the best part is that I still have it. You cannot believe what I have accomplished in the last six days.

And now that I am tackling the mountain of neglected chores, new ones keep getting added to the pile. Painting the new studio, gardening - both flowers and vegetables as well as a lead on a new gallery, which naturally requires work to be shipped out ASAP.

So forgive me, all you lovely readers, while I take at least the rest of the week off from posting, so I can continue to make some headway. One of the things that really slows down my days is my morning time at the computer, something I thoroughly enjoy yet is also an energy sucking activity that really messes up the rest of the day for me. I am feeling like I need to stay busy, get things in order and then figure out a better daily schedule, one that I can still enjoy and that will allow me to be more productive and energetic.

I do have plenty of new work though, so I will post a few new images here and there. Y'all will just have to get by without my pithy remarks for awhile, but feel free to leave comments anyway since I am sure not giving up on obsessively checking my emails! No sense in totally cutting myself off from the world. Heh.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Different View

Big Tree, 2008, Oil on Panel, 14x18

Mother's Day passed us by without much of any celebration, which actually makes me very happy. I don't go for all of the mushy stuff, especially when it's gradually turning into a highly commercialized, totally sappy "holiday".

But my kids still fall for the holiday aspect of it and so I play along. My youngest daughter made my bed for me and was really sweet and helpful all day. My other daughter had a hysterical fit (which made the day blissfully normal) and my son apologized to me for egging her on. Double blissful. Doug is out of town with our oldest son and that (heaven help me for saying this) made it a very peaceful day. Love him, but the occasional break is nice too.

Doug was probably the one who was the most disappointed in this year's Mother's Day and the fact that we were apart. He has always been good about planning things and giving some sort of lovely gift. I assured him that I was fine with it being low key and in fact prefer it.

Well ok, I won't complain if he brings me a little bauble back from his trip. Heh.

PS. I guess I'll explain my lack of interest in Mother's Day, and Father's Day for that matter. Pretending things are great and sending off a ridiculously flowery card to a "difficult" parent was always tough for me, some of you may understand that. My mother was the difficult one (and she expected a lot when it came to gifts and sentiments) and my father wasn't involved in my childhood at all.

My kids show their love and respect for me every day (almost:)) and that means so much more to me than getting recognition on Mother's Day ever will.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I See Dead People

Heavenly, 2008, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Just a quick hello today. I am booked for the rest of the day with meetings, errands, picking up the kids, dropping them off etc. In between those things I have to fit in a quick visit to an opening reception here at the local arts organization where I have a few paintings in a show. I agreed to participate because the title "There is More Under the Water Than Fish" was pretty intriguing and I immediately thought that I could connect this subject with the figures I have been playing around with. Cause, you know, I immediately thought of dead people underwater. Heh. So in the last few weeks I have done four pieces for this show. They were fun but I can't say I am entirely happy with them, because I didn't quite get them to where I had hoped. However, Doug assured me that I would not embarrass myself by displaying them in public. How is that for a ringing endorsement? Well, I did enjoy doing them anyway.

Oh and these particular paintings were difficult to photograph so I feel that I must say yet again that they look so much better in person.

I've Dropped My Purse, 2008, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Surprise Underpainting

So yesterday I sat down to do a landscape (sans structures) and ended up doing this:

For reference, I used a photograph that I had taken of one of the other residents last February at the Vermont Studio Center. I have a stack of photo portraits that I took there sitting next to my easel and look at them longingly each day. Finally those feelings overtook me I guess. I will have to start another landscape though, still need a few more for the upcoming show.

But in the meantime, I had a great time with this and am exceedingly pleased with how it turned out. I added more detail in the face than I plan to portray when I get to the color, as it's easier to take away the specifics later rather than adding them, and while I didn't really intend to capture the likeness, it actually does look like Carole.

When I was finished, Doug came in and said it was awesome and that I should leave it alone-not add color. I quibbled with him, because adding color was my intent from the beginning. He relented and said maybe I should add color to the background and leave the rest. I like that idea, leaving it sort of unfinished and I am considering it, but I would have handled the underpainting totally different if I had planned to leave most of it intact. I suspect that I won't be able to stop myself from adding color, just like I couldn't stop myself from painting this image in the first place.

I'll let you know what happens. It is entirely possible that I will report back in a few days with a complete failure. At least I took a picture of it at this point because then I'll know that it did look good once anyway. Heh.

Also, it was great to do this on a larger scale as I could easily rub out the lights with my cloth technique. Here are a few close ups:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Attic Studio Update

Well Tom and Matt have left us and are on to their next project. They were great to have around the house for the last few weeks and I am giddy about what a great job they did on the attic.

They built a beautiful rail around the stairwell:

They put in four hinged doors like this:

which provide access to the knee wall storage space. AND there are lights inside! I don't think I have to describe how amazing all of that storage will be. I am planning to store things in boxes with wheels-it is a bit low in those storage spaces and being able to roll containers in and out will make things a bit easier I think.

They did a great job of restoring this oval window:

which is just big enough to allow me to see if it's the UPS guy out front. A UPS delivery is always pretty dang exciting around here. Our regular guy has learned way too much about our lives because of how much we chat whenever anyone shows up.

But there is still much to be done up there before I can move in. We have to get the walls and ceiling painted and choose the track lighting fixtures. The heating guy has to come and install the baseboard units, the electric guy has to come and finish up the wiring and the floor guy has to come and sand the floor and stairs.

It'll be at least 2 or 3 weeks before I can begin moving in, maybe more. I am surprisingly not in any hurry, mostly because I am so busy right now and the thought of all the work to get ready to move up there is actually a bit overwhelming. I will probably get really anxious once I am finished with the work for the show in Hudson though.

I'll leave you with is a dark and moody art shot of the space:

Monday, May 5, 2008

Another Opening Reception!

The Path In, 2008, Oil on Panel, 8x10

So because I am now officially into middle age, never get enough sleep and am a busy girl, I took a nap on Saturday afternoon in order to be smart and witty and awake for the drive as well as the gallery reception that evening.

It was the perfect nap; the kids didn't bother me (too busy taking advantage of the fact that I allowed them to watch tv all afternoon) my room was warm and comforting and when I woke up I felt really energetic. I could on and on about the nap, because I rarely take them but I'll save you all from that at least.

I picked up my friend, Carina and we were off. We talked for the entire drive, I caught up on all of the local news, most of which I am sadly out of the loop on. I am a good person to gossip with by the way, I tend to immediately forget what I have just learned so I seldom have the opportunity to repeat anything to anyone. We also talked about our kids, her two are the same age as two of mine, and talked art for a bit.

There was a good crowd when we arrived at the gallery and I am happy to say that my work looked so great, I could hardly believe it was mine. Usually by the time I drop off paintings for a show all I can think of is good riddance as I wing them out the car window and speed off before the director can realize how bad everything is. Then when I see everything hung and lit properly, I usually think, wow! I did that? wow! And then I love what I do all over again.

Anyway, I had great conversations with several of the other artists whose work was also on display, including Debi Pendell, Sunghee Park, and Randi Kish, a ceramic artist with no links but who does some real kick ass work.

Just as we were heading out, Takeyce breezed in and introduced herself to me. She had emailed me and said she would try to come by so I am glad I didn't miss her. She was very nice and we chatted for awhile and both Carina and I, at different times complimented her hair, which I suspect made us seem very immature but I don't care. She had great hair! Was I just suppose to ignore that?

We decided to get dinner before heading home and an excellent meal at a place around the corner from the gallery called One Caroline. The food was excellent, locally grown, organic, and pasture fed meat. We went a little crazy with the appetizers because they all looked so good and so it was a good thing that we had ordered half portions for our entrees. There was also live jazz which sounded great, if a bit loud where we were seated.

Then it was two more hours in the car, telling each other our biggest secrets (forgot already:)), rain, a tailgater who was clearly annoyed that I was only going 5 miles over the speed limit on a pitch black, winding, deer infested road. Then there was the worst fog I have ever seen. I couldn't even see the lines on the road and drove about 10 miles an hour forever before we got through it.

All in all an excellent evening and I think I may have to seriously consider dumping my husband for these events and going with the girls! Way more fun.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Girl's Night Out

Just wanted to give a quick mention about the opening I am going to tonight at Gallery 100 in Saratoga Springs, NY. I know I have a couple of blog readers who live in the area and so maybe a few will come by and say hello. Not sure if meeting me is worth driving more than an hour though!

Normally I go to all of these openings with Doug, in fact he has never missed any of them, but for the very first time in four years, we have a scheduling conflict. He is doing a trade show this weekend and is out of town. So I decided to get a sitter and go anyway, and I invited one of my good real life friends, Carina, to come along. I expect to have a good time hanging out with her, we have a lot of gossip topics to cover during the four hours in the car.

So anyway, the opening is tonight, Saturday May 3, 6-8pm and the address is 462 Broadway, Second Floor, Saratoga Springs. I have about a dozen new pieces on display.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Center Punch, 2008, Oil on Panel, 11x14

A few months ago I learned in an email from Betty, the owner of Multiple Impressions (my NYC gallery) that she had decided to close the gallery. I wasn't exactly surprised as there is a high turnover of businesses on that particularly quiet block of Wooster Street, however I WAS very sad to hear the news.

This will be a bit of a blow to me in several ways. First of all to my business. In just one year, Multiple Impressions sold almost 40 paintings. (a huge number for me, alas, not quite enough to keep them open, heh) Betty picked each piece that she wanted to show and she seems to have a really good eye-every single piece she chose sold, I have never gotten back unsold work from her. My income from her gallery sales accounted for one third of my year end total last year, a pretty significant percentage and one that I am marginally freaked out about having to replace now that I have bought a new car and paid for the attic remodel. And they have really been on a selling tear since announcing the closing, I was getting near weekly checks, it was almost like having a regular paycheck there for awhile. Betty included my work in my first art fair last June and she is also responsible for urging me to work at a larger scale which has been a really interesting and challenging path for me to travel. A path that I am not sure I would have taken had there not been a bit of gentle pressure.

But what I will really miss is my relationship with Betty, Julie (Julie invited me to be her friend of Facebook!!) and Stephanie. We have all gotten to be friends, they read my blog (and probably know WAY too much about me:)), and both Doug and I spend significant amounts of time just chatting with them when in the city (Doug more often, since his store is just a few doors down the block). I can't even imagine that I will be able to wade through the gallery scene in NYC and find another gallery who will have me AND where I will finds friends to work with.

As I have learned in the gallery world though, life goes on. Betty will start a new adventure, Julie and Stephanie will probably go and work in another gallery and I will have to dust off my presentation packets, gather together all my nerve and self confidence and start getting out there again.

It will be fine. Sigh.