Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Tale of Two Eggs

I found these two eggs in the hen house, on the same day and in the same nest.

I wonder if these chickens feel any egg envy?

The blue one (I know it looks white in the photo, but it is actually light blue) feels like a baseball in my hand, while the small egg felt small and hard, like a rock.

I cracked them open and was not surprised to get a double yolk in the big one which turned into a great omelet. One of my Araucana chickens lays those big ones once or twice a week or so and all I can say about that is ouch.

But I don't see such small eggs very often and it was interesting to see what was inside of this one. Not much of a yolk as you can see, but Penny thought it tasted just fine, though. She is the happy recipient of our "odd" eggs.

Monday, June 23, 2008


So here it is - a shot of the painting area of my new studio. These are just my basic supplies as I am still trying to finish up painting the trim before I really junk the place up.

I did a whole batch of underpaintings on Monday up there and it was lovely. The work didn't seem to be affected by the move (yet) but it did take some time to settle in a bit. I spent a lot of time moving things around, getting the placement of the easels and tables just right and especially adjusting the lamps over my easel (mainly I paint at the one on the left). It was difficult to get them in the right place because of the sloped ceiling, which I almost immediately dented with the halogen lamp.

I suspect I will be moving things around quite a bit more before things feel right.

One thing that is right is the color. While I appreciate the clean look of a white studio, it is not for me. I like to feel all cozy and tucked in when I am in my studio, and actually in any room that I am in in my house (none of which have white walls) and white walls just don't do that for me. But since most of the studio walls are actually the sloped ceiling, and because of the limited natural light I decided to paint the ceiling an off white; the same creamy white color (Aspic from Sherwin Williams) that we used on all of the trim in the house, as well as the ceiling in our bedroom, which is very similar to the studio. But then I had to contend with the short knee walls. I considered painting them Aspic too, but then well, the room would have seemed white. After collecting a ton of paint chips, I finally settled on a dark color called Peppercorn from Sherwin Williams. Even though it is pretty intense, it is actually a pretty neutral color, not exactly blue or green or brown and not too cool or too warm. Neutral. I also hoped that by just using it on the side walls that it would help to make the room seem a bit more spacious.

Even though I was sure about this color, I have to admit to being a bit nervous when I painted the first wall section. If I was wrong about it, it would be a real pain in the neck to change! Luckily, though by the time I was about halfway done with the first side, I was liking it and when it was finished I REALLY liked it. Phew.

After all that drama however, it probably won't really matter what color I decided on. I am pretty sure that soon I will have a lot of crap lining those walls and I'll never see Peppercorn again.

Jim, the floor guy came last week and sanded and polyurethaned the floors over the course of several days. As we suspected, the floors were the same wood that is in much of the rest of our house; pumpkin pine. No stain necessary, the warm orange of the wood was enough color for me and really contrasts perfectly with the wall colors. I am giddy about how beautiful the floor is. I will even admit to rolling around on it a few times. Heh. (actually I am not kidding)

The beams are amazing, even if they are kind of in the way and it hurts a lot to bump into them. Jim said he has seen only one other house in the area with this sort of diagonal structure. Our house is over 200 years old and is pretty dang plumb all things considered and these beams have a lot to do with that. They are connected to each other with pegs, not nails and you can see the hatchet marks where they were cut. As soon as I finish up the walls, I am going to give the beams a good coat of tung oil. I think they deserve it after all their hard work.

So there you go. This project cost twice as much as we expected, but I think it will be worth it. I am pretty sure that there will be some good art made up there.

Here are some pictures of the progress.

Painting the walls:

At first I was deathly afraid of walking out on this 2 foot wide ledge in order to paint the wall and ceiling. I was afraid that I would lose my balance, hit the stairs and break something. But by the first coat of Peppercorn on the wall I was practically bustin' some Coyote Ugly moves out there and feeling pretty pleased with myself.

Finished stairs and studio floor:

Still have to finish painting the trim and railing, but I also have a temporary table set up to prep a few panels 'cause I have a show in July to prepare for:

So-o-o, watchya think?

Fun, Fun, Fun

Ok. Saturday was a really busy day what with the kid's activities and preparing for the party. I basically cooked and cleaned most of the day, but at least I had help. Penny was so tired after all she did that day that SHE managed to get in a little snooze on the patio. At least someone was rested for the party (I didn't get a nap and felt a bit kooky all evening).

And I am thankful for Dorrie who helped out by anchoring down the strawberry box after I had emptied it.

Anyway, it was a great party. All my lovely friends came, bearing wonderful food and much beer. Despite a few threats, the rain held off and we were able to enjoy our patio. I gave many tours of our vegetable garden, my new studio AND the new shower in the kid's bathroom, because, well those are always pretty exciting too. Heh.

At dusk, Doug projected a silent movie (Charlie Chaplin) onto the garage wall that borders our patio. AND my silly music shuffle played all night. We heard such gems as Rock Lobster, I Walk the Line, Avalon, Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Jason Castro's version from American Idol) and I Think I Love You by the best singing TV family ever, The Partridge Family.

I had picked a full bag of lettuce from our garden earlier in the day, way too much for any one family, and so everyone received a party favor on their way out; a gallon size bag of fresh greens. Everyone enjoyed the irony of that; our kids all go to so many birthday parties, that we are all endlessly putting together goodie bags it seems.

And bright and early on Sunday morning (actually it was about 11am, but that sure seemed early) I began moving things up to my new studio. Tomorrow I will finally put up pictures of the remodeling process and discuss the wall color issues.

Still much to do up there but I am IN!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pesto Potato Salad Recipe

(Sorry, I don't have a picture of the potato salad. I ended up not making it for our party, but I can tell you that it mostly looks like regular potato salad, but it's more along the lines of a green dish rather than white.)

This recipe come from one of those silly little recipe books that are in every grocery store check out lane in America. I have a bit of an addiction to buying them and in fact have so many that I couldn't find the exact recipe for the potato salad. But no worries. I have gotten to the point where no recipe card is necessary, although it may be challenging to write it down. But here goes:

about four cups of baby red potatoes
a few stalks (?) of celery, diced
one container of pesto (7 0z)
mayonnaise (I use Hellman's)
pine nuts
salt and pepper

Boil the red potatoes (leave the skins on) and cut in half or so after they have cooled

I use equal parts of pesto and mayo, so usually I dump the pesto into a bowl, fill up the pesto container with mayo and add that to the pesto. No need for measuring cups and it's easy to double the recipe, which I usually do if I am taking it to a potluck or something.

Add celery to the pesto/mayo and salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked potatoes and stir to coat the potatoes.

Pine nuts: Place pine nuts in a saute pan and heat them until brown. Keep shaking the pan to turn the nuts so they will brown evenly. And keep an eye on them; the nuts always act like they aren't cooking and then all of a sudden they are burned. Sprinkle the nuts over the potato salad right before serving.

Sorry I can't be more specific about the amounts. I just do it all by eye, adjusting the amounts to our preferences. For example we like our potato salad with a lot of the pesto/mayo and we also like a lot of pine nuts, although I have a tendency to make too many and then someone will just eat them separately. I usually use a handful or so of the pine nuts.

Oh and this recipe is really good when the potatoes are tossed into the dressing while still still warm and then served right away. We like it much better right away, rather than out of the fridge the next day.

And of course one could add other ingredients. Sometimes I add some cooked chicken and that is really good too.

Enjoy! And good luck:)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Solstice Party Preparations

Yellow Dream, 2008, Oil on Panel, 9x9

I am completely exhausted this evening and I expect I will be even more so tomorrow. We are having a pretty good sized party (20 guests) tomorrow night which has been great motivation to get our house and yard cleaned up. Doug spent the day weed whacking and mowing the lawn (in between the rain showers) and I had to go out and spend like a million dollars on food and other important things for a party like citronella candles and fashionable vinyl tablecloths. Oh wait, there is no such thing as fashionable vinyl tablecloths. The best ones I could find have big images of fruit all over them.

Anyway, tomorrow I will be finishing up getting the house in order and cooking. It is a potluck but in true mom form, I am worried about not having enough food and so I suspect that I will cooking way too much.

But I just can't resist making my specialties:

roast vegetable lasagna
chicken salad
pesto pine nut potato salad
green salad (with lettuce from our garden)
strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream
apple cake

Oh and I have all this great cheese from a local farm that raises goats and they make the best goat cheeses ever.

I do plan to try to take a nap tomorrow afternoon though, so that I will be able to speak coherently with all of our lovely friends.

And did I mention the soccer games in the morning? Good grief, this is the season that will never end.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Economy of Art

Dark Pond Day, 2008, Oil on Panel, 18x24

A few months ago I began to hear from a few artists that their sales had slowed down a bit. Mine were still ok at that point but with so many bad things going on in the current economy I had a bit of worry at the back of my mind. April and May were a bit slow, but after I looked at my records I saw that historically those are the two slowest months of the year for me. Now it's June and with the exception of modest sales from the show I have up in Hudson, things are REALLY slow.

And while last year all of my work sold at the Affordable Art Fair, this year I didn't do quite so well. Only three small pieces sold. Sales seemed erratic at the fair-some say they didn't sell much at all and others sold out their booths. Hmmm.

I guess this could be economy related. Certainly when things look unsure, people stop buying the extras (that's our plan), which art is considered to be. Or maybe it's just the ebb side of my recent flow.

Whatever it is, I am going to keep painting. And then I really have to get my info together and get a new gallery and push the business side of things here.

Ack! I am sure feeling the loss of the NYC gallery!

Any thoughts out there about art sales and the economy?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

This Year's Vegetable Garden

Last summer I read Animal, Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver which greatly influenced me to try and grow more of our own food. And so I spent the winter reading up an gardening. Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman was very helpful as well as a subscription to Mother Earth News. Not to mention many hours of internet surfing, looking for info about how to grow asparagus or potatoes or whatever else I thought we might want to try.

Our existing garden is a fenced area, 60x60 feet square. We have put in some sort of garden each year that we have been here and usually the tomatoes and squash have done well, however the rest of the garden was always overwhelmed by weeds. So this year I formulated a plan. In April we had a few weeks of really warm weather and we spent that time tilling and forming raised beds for planting. Right now we have about 24 beds each 3x8 feet and they have all been planted (there are a few more beds that need some work and I plan to put in a small cold frame structure on one of them in order to extend a few things into the winter and early spring). Then we will lay down weed barrier in the walkways and cover the barrier with mulch. We have begun this process but it's a ton of work and we got distracted from it while planting. Also in April, I planted things that could take a few frosty nights, which we had until the last week of May. I planted broccoli, lettuce plants, direct sowed carrot and sweet peas and Doug put together the asparagus bed and planted 25 crowns. We like asparagus! The strawberry and raspberry plants from last year came back pretty well. Then we spent another month building the garden, forming more beds and much weeding. Finally in the first week of June we did the fun stuff and planted seed potatoes, tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, pumpkins, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, cucumbers. I also direct sowed beans and spinach. Oh and I still have a few rhubarb plants to put in as well as two grapevines. And my daughter brought home a cabbage plant from school which is thriving. Too bad we all hate cabbage....

I spent a few days covering the edges of some of the beds with newspaper (you can see them in some of the photos) which will help to keep the weeds at bay until the barrier and mulch gets finished up. In the meantime I try to keep up with the weeding, pulling out the weeds in each bed by hand every day. Also we haven't had much rain this spring so one of us has to go out and do the watering every day. We used to set up a sprinkler but that really encouraged weed growth everywhere, so we water each plant by hand now. It takes about an hour and believe me, my days now revolve around determining whether or not it will rain!

Our fence is ok but I think we have to do something else. A deer (or something) got in a few nights ago and ate a good part of two broccoli plants as well as sheared off several strawberry plants and some of the peas too. My son and I put a deer mesh around each of those beds and that seems to have done the trick. Some people in the area have electric fences around their vegetable gardens and so I suppose we will have to look at that option someday.

I planted way too much lettuce and have practically been throwing bags of it at anyone who unwittingly drives past our house! On Saturday I brought in a garbage bag full of lettuce (romaine, green and red leaf) and it turns out that just dumping it all into our big ol' sink is the best way to rinse it. My daily salads have been awesome though!

The strawberries are close to getting ripe and I have been eating the broccoli which is excellent. Too bad only Doug and I will enjoy THAT vegetable! The blueberry bushes that we planted in containers on our patio are doing well, although one didn't seem to make it through the winter. I was supposed to cover them with mulch and straw for the winter but never got to it because I was sick (and then kinda lazy).

Along with the food we are growing and our local farmer's market we are looking at not buying food in the grocery store for at least 4 or 5 months. We will have to eliminate a few things from our diets to accomplish this goal, but that can only be good for us. The kids aren't too happy about it but I suspect they will adjust.

This is all a ton of work, but a lot of fun, challenging and fulfilling too. When I am inside I often feel overwhelmed with how much there is to do, but once I am standing in the garden and looking at everything that is growing, and feeling the sun and a warm breeze I am very happy.

Washing greens:

Potatoes in the front and then four beds of tomatoes:

Asparagus bed:

Front to back, sweet peas, carrots, two broccoli beds, and asparagus bed:

Two beds of lettuces:

Green peppers (and a skewed bird house):

Squash and pumpkins:

Strawberry bed:

Table and chairs (for resting:)) and bean tower in the back:

Friday, June 13, 2008

I Got a Mention!!!!

Ok, folks, so this is pretty cool! Trendcetera evidently visited the Affordable Art Fair and mentioned a few artists, including MOI! Not sure I would define my palette as psychedelic, but whatever. I'll take it, along with the suggestion that "one can't help but imagine this popping off the wall of a stark white loft flush with light."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Flower Gardens

My focus this spring has been on the vegetable garden, and I haven't put a whole lot of energy into the flower gardens. Luckily though, they are fairly established and so all I have done is planted some annuals, and put up a few hanging baskets. The beds all need a bit of weeding after our recent rain when they burst forth big time, but overall the flowers are looking pretty good.

Basically our patio is finished although it's a bit of a mess right now and the weeds are crazy out there too. We do still need to add a few flagstones right next to our back step and the goal is to do that before our big party on the summer solstice.

That's Penny enjoying the sun and wondering what the heck I am doing and does it involve food for her somehow. I know that look.

I do not normally go for garden decoration or ornaments, but how could I pass on a pink flamingo? Even Doug (the ultimate snob concerning decoration) agreed that it was a good addition to the back flower garden.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm A Loser, But I Don't Really Care Much

Steep Red Roof, 2008, Oil on Panel, 11x14

For the most part I have stopped entering competitions. However, I still usually enter two that are sponsored by our local arts organization. One of those is a national competition and the other is regional. The regional is usually a slam dunk for me, but the national hasn't been at all. I was accepted into it once a few years ago but haven't been since then. This year I entered Red Carol (you see, I did jinx myself by mentioning it!) and while I hoped entering something different would change my luck I can understand why it wasn't accepted. I don't think it's quite right, plus it really doesn't translate in a jpeg, a common problem with my work, unfortunately.

Then yesterday I received a rejection letter from The MacDowell Colony. I wasn't terribly surprised, I have heard it is very difficult to get into, but I did have my fingers crossed anyway. I have a thing now about doing residencies and that one would have been a good one for my resume. In a way though, while I am sure it would have been an incredible experience I am ok with not being accepted. Partly because it cements my feelings of not fitting in anywhere (heh )and I am very comfortable with that feeling, but also because it sounds like a very solitary sort of residency and part of what I enjoyed so much about the Vermont residency was the social aspect. I can be alone in my own studio here at home everyday if I want, I don't need to go somewhere else to do that. But despite that I will probably apply again, because I do think it would be valuable to do at some point. Plus I do have a bit of a competitive streak and I'd like to be accepted somewhere, at some point. Know what I mean?

And I did get accepted into the regional show at the local arts org. This year was funny and I wasn't so sure about it being a slam dunk. The judge was Julian Hatton (he lives about an hour away, which qualifies him as local) one of the visiting artists that I got to know while in Vermont. I think he liked my landscapes, although he only saw a few of them, but he was somewhat negative about the figures that I was working on at that point and he questioned whether doing still lifes would get me any recognition (if that was what I was going for). He was also the artist that I prattled on and on to about me, me, me and I was pretty sure I was pretty irritating to him by the time he left. Poor guy. Anyway, I am still a fan of his work, though I doubt he remembers mine and probably didn't recognize the style of the painting he accepted into the show. But he and his wife, Alison Berry, who was also a judge, should be at the opening this Friday so perhaps we'll chat then. If he doesn't seem to remember me I will just slink around the edges of the gallery trying to avoid him.

Very mature, I know.

Now I am off to paint the new studio. We have had a bit of a heat wave for the last few days and while the attic isn't all that hot, it sure is when one is moving around a lot, painting the walls. But today is much cooler so I am hoping to make some progress up there. Pictures coming soon!

Monday, June 9, 2008


Two Plus Two, 2008, Oil, 8x10

Well, I just barely survived the weekend. I do have a sunburn and six black fly bites on my right upper arm which are driving me crazy, they itch so bad. But the girls finished their triathlon, and my older daughter who had finished her race, went back and ran across the finish line with our youngest, the same little girl that she usually delights in tormenting. I admit to more than a few tears when I saw that. Sisters, you know? And Doug and I enjoyed a lovely dinner out with another couple on Saturday night. We know them casually, but this was the first time that we all had a chance to really sit down and talk and it was great fun to find all that we have in common.

I delivered my paintings to the gallery for the Affordable Art Fair on Sunday. The moment I drove into Hudson it began to rain and by the time I parked illegally in front of the gallery the rain was torrential. I dropped my umbrella which then blew across the street so between chasing that down and then running into the gallery twice with paintings I got completely soaked. I had to ask Melissa for a towel to dry off with. Sometimes keeping one's dignity is just not possible... And to top it all off, not four minutes after I left, the rain had stopped and there was a bit of sun showing. Typical.

I am going to take a week off from painting, even though I really shouldn't as I still have a few things to do plus a small solo show in mid-July to prepare for. But I have to finish painting the walls in my studio by Wednesday and then I really have to get the walkways covered in the vegetable garden before the weeds eat our plants. We didn't get that finished over the weekend and it still needs to be done.

I will start a new batch of paintings this Friday though and get back to some kind of schedule.

Probably. Maybe.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Weekend Madness

Between the Poles, 2008, Oil on Panel, 16x20

Today I am finishing up a new batch of paintings that will be on display at the Affordable Art Fair in NYC next weekend. I am excited to have my work there again, as last year's AAF was pretty successful for me and well, I still owe some money on my new attic so I admit that a few sales right now would be really great. I may have jinxed the whole thing by saying that out loud but there you go.

Last year my work was shown by Multiple Impressions, however, since they are closing (sob) I will be with Carrie Haddad at booth A-303, just in case anybody out there will attending the show. I was hoping to go but Doug will be out of town and things are too hectic around here for me to leave for a day or two, so my work will be there without me.

Speaking of hectic, this weekend isn't even officially here yet and my head is spinning with all that is going on. A soccer game tonight, my son is leaving for a Boy Scout camp out, a dinner for my daughters who have working on a triathlon, for which I have to bake a rhubarb cake this morning. The triathlon on Saturday morning, an end of the school year party for my older daughter, dinner with friends, and then on Sunday I have to drive down to Hudson (for the third weekend in a row-oh the fuel!) to deliver the paintings. I also have to stop at the paint store and finally decide on which color/colors to paint my studio, which has to be finished before the floor guy comes on Wednesday to sand the floors. I am only about halfway finished priming the walls and so have much more to do up there.

Oh and we have to finish up the vegetable garden. Everything is planted finally, but we want to cover and mulch the walkways so that the weeds don't overtake us all (more on the garden next week).

But I am thankful for the rain we finally had last night. At least I won't have to spend an hour each day for the next few days, hand watering the garden.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


And much better than a good batch of paintings on display is this. And then this. Go see. Since I don't teach I am exceedingly glad to at least be represented in a classroom.

Monday, June 2, 2008

An Evening in Hudson

Doug and I had a great time at the opening in Hudson on Saturday. First of all the show was hung beautifully and it was hard to believe that I actually made the art that is hanging on the walls. It looks sooooo much better than how I remembered it!

A big thank you to Melissa and Carrie who did an excellent job of hanging the show and of bringing people in. There was a great turnout and I talked to so many interesting people. The first couple that I spent quite a bit of time talking to had bought a small piece at my first show at this same gallery in 2005. They were so nice and we also had a gratifying chat about how my prices (and therefore value) have gone up. He is also a painter and so we talked technique for awhile and the next thing I knew they were buying this painting and we were all posing in front of it for a few pictures!

Then my friend Jane and her husband Paul came in. Paul is also in this show, his work is in the middle section and is just beautiful. I particularly like his still life paintings. Jane and I showed together in 2006 and we have emailed quite a bit since then. She has been really helpful to me as far as career advice goes, plus we have other things in common as well. So nice to be able to chat with her in real life!

I spent some time talking to artist Wes Wheeler who is also represented by Carrie and again, great to talk technique and the business. I also really like his work, although I was at a disadvantage while we talked-I wasn't familiar with it. Now I wish I had seen it beforehand so I could have asked some better questions of him, but I'll just have to do that another time.

Carrie Waldman, whose work was also on display was very nice. We chatted for a bit and I hope we can keep in contact. She is one of those people that I feel like have met before, you know?

Two pieces sold by the end of the evening and I am crossing my fingers for a few more. Mostly so Carrie will keep showing my work ( and maybe keep giving me the front room) AND because I still need some money to pay the floor guy when he comes to sand the floors in my new studio. Heh. Actually I am serious about that.

And the sooner I can move up there the less I will have to deal with cats settling into the back of my panels in between coats of polyurethane.....

More show pictures, obviously we remembered to actually use the camera this time.