Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things are Settling Down a Bit

Ok, just a little bit more about The Fine Art Department, then on to me, as promised:). There are nineteen artists up right now and I am waiting for info from several others (and you know who you are) which means it's pretty close to 25 already. So this means that if you submitted your info to me and it hasn't been posted, I have

a) decided not to include it on the site for any number of reasons, none of which reflect my opinions about quality (just want to make that point again). And

b) haven't had time to let you know personally and am not sure I will be able to, although I will try. I have to get back to my own work now that this is mostly up and running, plus I have much to do this week to prepare for Thanksgiving. I apologize.

I would like to suggest though, that perhaps someone out there who is reading this would like to set up a similar blog/site and if so, I will be happy to post about it here, link to it on The Fine Art Department, and offer any other assistance that I can. I appreciate the interest that so many artists have shown in my project and my intent still remains-encouragement, teamwork and opportunities for artists to sell their work, especially in order to get by in this slow economy. So feel free to contact me regarding that, I have a bunch of leads on artists who might like to participate!

Ok, now about me. heh. I have been busy with a bunch of stuff, art related as well as personal, mostly revolving around a backlog of laundry and house cleaning. I haven't been able to get a good chunk of time to get to the color yet on the figure underpaintings that I posted last week, but I think I might be able to get something done with them over this long holiday weekend.

Last Friday I did another larger sized underpainting (22x30) shown above. I was pretty excited about this one and was itching to do another one the next day, and even the next. However, I seem to be unable to do more than one each week or so no matter how much I'd like to do more. I think it's because these are still new to me, exciting, but intense and intimidating. Kinda like a new love affair, you know? It can take me days to gather the nerve to start a new one, once I have decided on an image. Maybe I need a mental rest in between. I imagine that will shift and change at some point and it will be interesting to see what happens.

Have a great Thanksgiving, all! I will be giving thanks for our new cutie pie president who is getting right down to business, as well as for the health and happiness of my family and friends. Plus I am totally bailing on the no sugar thing and will be enjoying my own home made pumpkin pie and cranberry bread.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Concerning The Fine Art Department

First of all I want to say you are welcome to all the artists who have paid me bright and shiny compliments about putting The Fine Art Department together. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement.

Second, I am thrilled with the interest in this whole project, and just a bit overwhelmed as well. Please bear with me while I correct links (I have a tendency to forget to include the "http://" part of an address, whose bright idea was it to make these small things so important anyway?), typos, and feedburning issues. Still don't understand that one, but will keep at it. I thought I set it up but Katherine says it still doesn't work. Help?

And third, due to all of this interest, I am finding that I will have to put a few guidelines into place. When I initially decided to do this, I just kinda figured that I would get a bunch of artists who do pretty much what I do (I am very self centered:), who are serious about their art and career, who show or have shown in galleries and/or museums, but also sell work on their own, to provide an affordable version of their art, and perhaps to supplement slow gallery sales in this economy. After pondering the alternatives, I have decided to stick with that basic criteria, because, well, I am very self centered. Heh.

I have also decided to limit the number of artists for the time being. Right now there are 12 and I will take up to 25, then reassess at that point, if necessary. The reason for this is because I want to keep this blog friendly and intimate, not overwhelming to viewers with so much info that they can't see clearly after browsing through the site for more than a few minutes. I personally can't stand sites like that and don't want that to happen here.

The last thing I would like to discuss is about jurying the work. I actually didn't even consider that I would have to do this, but now I suspect that I may have to. I don't want to jury, and I am very sorry that I will probably have to, as I do not like to say that I think any particular art is bad, or even really good. I find art is incredibly subjective and who am I to be the decider? So I will just say this, some who want to be involved may not meet the criteria I mentioned above and won't be included for those reasons. Beyond that, I will include art that I either like a lot or may not personally like, but that I find some value in, respect for its energy, quality or other appeal that I may not be able to define. So for now, I will be choosing the artists, however I will not be the decider about the artist's talent and no one should take not getting onto this site as any kind of rejection. 'K?

I understand that by me making these decisions, this project has become less of a team effort than I had initially planned and that makes me uncomfortable. But I will try to be as fair as possible, maybe someone will volunteer to help with jurying? and I will be open to feedback (um, as long as it is constructive and not rude). This will continue to be a team effort as far as I am concerned, especially if we all work to promote the whole project.

And don't worry, tomorrow this blog will go back to being all about me, me, me. Heh.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Ok, folks, we have a great deadline here. I have an old friend from my barfly days in Philadelphia who has a well read blog that gets thousands of hits everyday. She is going to give The Fine Art Department a mention the week after Thanksgiving, so if you want your link up for that, PLEASE get me the info by Saturday, November 29th.

PS. I will still continue to add interested artists after this date, the deadline only applies if one is interested in getting some good exposure.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fine Art is a Good Gift This Year

Tracks in the Snow, 2008, Oil on Panel, 8x10

In 1995, Doug and I lived in northern Utah. Our nephew (we later adopted him) was living with us and our other son was just a baby. We had moved out there in 1993 so that Doug could work full time with a holography company that he had invested in years earlier. We had just moved into our second crappy rental house, we had been asked to move out of the first one because we were late with the rent a few times, um because Doug's company was doing badly and his pay was erratic. Soon after we moved into the second house, the company actually filed for bankruptcy and obviously we were in trouble. I was a stay at home mom and Doug's partner literally told Doug that he should make me get a job. You know, to help out. Never mind that that would require all kinds of extra expenses, like day care, transportation, clothing which would probably just about equal any kind of low paying job that was even available in the area we lived in. Plus, there was no chance that I would be handing my child over to day care, that was something we both felt very strongly about.

Doug applied for unemployment and my unpaid job was to make sure that we were living as frugally as possible. I cooked everything from scratch (cheaper than buying packaged foods, even with coupons), there were NO extras allowed, no movies, no eating out, no shopping, no extra driving, nothing. We managed to get the rent paid on time each month, and kept up as well as we could with the other bills. Even though this was a very stressful time, it was also a very happy time for us. Our baby was unbearably cute and fun and mostly we just looked at him all day which didn't cost anything! The financial difficulties brought Doug and I even closer. We kept our heads, assigned no blame, put together a plan and stuck to it. We worked as a team to handle our finances.

So in the spirit of team work, I have put up yet another blog. It's called The Fine Art Department and I'd like to post an image, a short description and link to artists who are selling their own work. The economy is tough and those of us who (try to) make a living selling our work have been greatly affected. Obviously, I hope that if one has limited funds, they will pay for food, insurance, mortgage, etc. first, however perhaps there are still a few folks who can squeeze out a couple of bucks to buy a piece of art to enjoy or to give as a gift. If artists aren't selling anything, they are also not buying anything either or paying their bills or the mortgage and the dominoes will keep falling. I realize that not every art buyer wants to buy my art (what?) so I'd like to offer some alternatives and hopefully somebody will make a few sales, even if it's not me.

So. If you have a website, an Etsy page, an Ebay store etc, where you directly sell your work, and would like to have your link included on The Fine Art Department, please email me. No sales will go through the The Fine Art Department, all sales must go through the individual artists sites. Please include a jpeg (72dpi), a short description and price info, and the link and I will load it onto the site. Then please post a link to the The Fine Art Department on your sidebar, preferably in a prominent position rather than in a blogroll. I was hoping to make it blink or something (at least through the holidays) on my sidebar but I need help with setting that up; I know that Chris knows how to do that, maybe he will give a tutorial. heh. Anyway, I get about 300-500 hits here each day, and I will also send this link out to all of my real life, art buying friends, and if all of you do the same, maybe we can get some good traffic. I am just a simple girl and confess to having little to no understanding of search engines and all of that so any other ideas would be great.

Let's try and work together to get through this lousy, stupid ass economy, 'k?

PS. Things eventually worked out for us back in 1995. Within a few days of the bankruptcy, Doug started getting job offers and other opportunities within the holography industry, so that was very encouraging. And within a few more months, one of their old clients decided to buy the company out of bankruptcy. Doug became a partner, was put in charge of the plant, got a signing bonus and we were soon able to get out of debt and buy our first house. Doug and I learned that we were a great team, and also that talking about money while in bed was a bad idea, two lessons that we still truly appreciate and which are coming in handy right now.

EDIT: I have been flooded with submissions for The Fine Art Department! I have decided to keep it relatively small (25-30 artists) and I already have 26. You can send me your info, but unfortunately I probably won't add it. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Sanctity of My Studio Has Been Breached

Church, 2008, Oil on Gessobord, 5x5

It's been such a pleasure to have a pet free studio. No cat hair floating around, no hairballs, no little paw prints running across the wet gesso, it's like heaven now. I do allow Mr. Wilson to come up with me in the mornings for his nap, but we have a strict rule that he must stay in his cushion next to my desk. He is NOT allowed to walk around smelling things, which always leads to him having to lift his little leg, usually at the corner of a very expensive birch panel. heh.

Once in awhile the one cat or another (we have four) tries to come up but I immediately send them packing. However a few nights ago, Jones must have slipped by me, then had to spend the night after I closed the door for the night. I almost felt sorry for him when I heard him meowing desperately to get out the next morning, but then I was just ticked off after I found that he had left me a smelly gift. Yuck! Guess he just couldn't hold it all night.

I used to be able to leave my door open a bit so that I could hear what's going on in the rest of the house. Now though, I am keeping it closed tightly, so that I don't have to start keeping things put away like I had to do in my previous studio which was open to the whole house.

Jones has ruined things for the rest of us...

Monday, November 17, 2008

All About Grease

Wintery Red Barn, 2008, Oil on Panel, 9x9

I have mentioned here more than a few times that I have not ever been a particularly popular person. This was an embarrassing problem in June of 1978 when, more than anything I wanted to see Grease as soon as it hit the movie theaters. My best friend Tammy, was either away or couldn't go (don't remember exactly), so I decided to do the most socially unacceptable thing ever in my junior high school world. I went to the movie by myself. Doing that probably secured my outcast status but it was worth it. I loved that movie more than anything. The songs, the dancing, John Travolta, and oddly, I loved Dinah Manoff (Marty) way more than Olivia Newton John (Sandy).

I promptly dug into my babysitting money and bought the soundtrack which I listened to over and over. In my 8th grade art class that fall I did a colored pencil drawing, copying the album cover which secured my secondary status as the artist outcast. It was years before I saw the movie again (um this was well before tapes and dvd of course) and then for awhile I scoffed at how stupid the movie was (even though I secretly still loved it).

Once after I met Doug we went on vacation with his family. His niece, who was nine at the time, was obsessed with the Grease soundtrack. She listened to it over and over and I think I scored a few points with her by knowing each word in every song. By then of course I had seen the movie again a number of times on tv or on cable.

When my girls were younger, they saw the movie on tv (thank goodness, the condom breaking scene was cut, no need to answer questions I wasn't ready for yet:)) and so I bought them the soundtrack, this time a CD. THEY listened to it over and over and we all did the hand jive and they loved the pointing during "Greased Lightening".

So this fall, the local high school decided to do the broadway version of Grease (which is a bit different than the movie) for their annual school play. My daughter who is in sixth grade and too young to be in it, was up on all the cast gossip. It is a small town obviously. And because it is a small school, about 60 kids per grade, nearly all the kids in high school were involved in this play, which had a large cast and crew. I love this about the school plays here. My high school was HUGE, about 550 per grade and only a handful of students were involved in the drama clubs and were pretty much the same kids who were in all the plays. The cliques were more distinct in that large setting, but here everyone crosses over. And with a big project like Grease nearly everyone was tapped to play a part, work on the set, make costumes or even be an usher. I love that kids who have no intention of being a performer in their future, take a risk and take a part in a play. To me it parallels someone who likes to fool around with making art, just for fun and considering it as yet another skill one can learn.

Any way, after months of hard work the play opened last Thursday. We got tickets for Saturday night's performance and it was so crowded, the auditorium was bursting. Everyone we know was there. The show was awesome! We all loved it and the best part was seeing kids that we know doing something that they obviously enjoyed and worked so hard at. Our neighbor's son did a memorable turn as Eugene, the daughter of the architect who worked on our house was Marty, and the girl who played Rizzo rides my kid's school bus. I get a little teary eyed thinking about this but I am sure by the time my kids are doing these plays and I know ALL the kids, I will be full out bawling!

Oh and the kid who sang "Beauty School Dropout" brought down the house! He was an awesome singer and dancer and cute and didn't seem to feel at all embarrassed to be wearing a white jumpsuit with a shiny purple cape, a la Elvis.

Wish I had some pictures, but I forgot to bring my camera. We'll just have to get by with an image of one of my paintings. heh.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Birthday Cake Hats and Easter Bunnies

I had an excellent day yesterday, working on two underpaintings. I am learning that even though I am approaching this works similarly to how I do the landscapes, some things are very different. Mostly though, they kick my butt, energy wise. With the landscapes I banged out* 5 to 10 underpaintings in a day, then they would dry for a few days and I could work on each one briefly, each day for about a week. With these I can only do maybe two underpaintings a day until I am dragging. They are much more involved and intense. So I am thinking that I will need to do a few underpaintings each day for a week, then work on the color on all of them during the following week.

Anyway, I am really excited about these two, and I think that I can safely say that I have never painted a bunny. In the photo reference the woman is holding a bunny and I considered substituting a different object, flowers, a purse, a pizza box, almost anything but a bunny. However the I realized that the hat and the bunny pulled me into the narrative of the woman's pose and so I decided that Fluffy stays. So far everyone who has seen the underpainting has laughed so I guess that's a good thing.

And just a note about my newfound energy. I have been trying very hard lately to just talk myself into have having more energy, even though I knew the real culprit was sugar. I had gotten a little crazy with my sugar intake, (more specifically I was eating way too many chili flavored chocolate bars) and so about a week ago I quit eating sugar. I have done this periodically over the years, once I went for over two years without eating processed sugar, but I usually end up back with my true love addiction. This time I am just going day by day and am not looking at the long term. However I am feeling so much better and am supposedly more mature now that I am almost 44 (eek!), and so hopefully I can remember all that the next time a chocolate chip cookie is staring me in the face. Heh.

*I suppose an artist isn't supposed to admit that they bang out the work, but well, I do and so I am. My way of working isn't tortured and full of angst and it's maybe not even all that thoughtful, sorry.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's a Start

Way excited about this one that I did yesterday! I would have done another but the kids were home and I ended up driving my daughter around quite a bit to various social events. I had a block of time in the afternoon though and got this one done at least.

I am off to do more underpaintings today and will be back tomorrow; hopefully with proof that I didn't just fritter away my day on the computer yet again. Heh.

(Sorry about the glare)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


So I did okay yesterday. It took me a little longer than it should have to get down to work, but I finally did. I worked on underpaintings of flowers based on photographs of my garden flowers that I took last summer. I struggled a bit so I didn't get as much done as I would have liked, although it was a good start and I am not complaining. I did more yesterday than I did all last weeks. Super proud of THAT. heh.

In late July I took some photos (see above) of a patch of beautiful wildflowers at the side of the road and they have been at the back of my mind ever since. I actually think the images are too nice to use as reference as they have their own thing going on, but I have decided to try and paint them anyway. Usually I like to work from bad photos, that way I am not so tempted to capture the photographic beauty. If the photo is bad, or at least really simple and basic I must either find my own beauty in it or make it up.

If these paintings show up here next week, that means they turned out. If you never hear about them again it means they failed miserably and will immediately go to the sand down pile. Just so you know.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mondays Are a Clean Slate, Right?

My Favorite Gambrel, 2008, Oil on Gessobord, 5x7

Goodness, it's been awhile since I posted. I used to post faithfully nearly every weekday, but that has dropped back to three or four times a week, or even less, in the last six months or so. I don't feel like I am bored with keeping the blog but maybe I just have less to say? I have told most of my good stories after all. Or at least the ones that I don't mind telling in public. heh.

Anyway, I seem to be in some sort of weird funk lately, although much of it may have something to do with the trance-like, magnetic quality of my computer screen. I have been spending way too much time at the computer lately, doing a few interesting things, but mostly not doing anything important whatsoever. Now that the election is over and things have quieted down a bit in the news, I am back to doing things like checking out the bios of the cast of True Blood, my new favorite show. I spent almost 45 minutes checking out this site! How dumb is that?!

I always thought I had good work discipline but now it turns out that I only do if I have some sort of deadline, and not the self-imposed kind either. I can see right through those, heh. I have plenty of painting to do as well as other projects that I could be doing, things that I want to do and am even excited about, but somehow it is so easy for me to just tell myself that I don't actually have to do it today, that tomorrow or even the next day is ok to start a new painting or whatever. I considered that I might have some kind of creative block, but have ruled that out. I am plenty interested in the figurative work and doing the small paintings for my other blog is a lot of fun.

Not looking for advice here, just explaining what's going on with me lately. I know this will pass. Eventually. I hope. And I am also hoping that by saying all this out loud, I will get some motivation back. I'd hate to have to banish my computer from the studio (any other alternative locations would be extremely inconvenient concerning the actual work that I do have to do on the computer) and really, shouldn't I just be able to walk away from the damn thing? Sheesh.

Ok, so Monday is always a good day for a clean slate and I will try again to get back on my pre-recession/no sales/no shows or events scheduled in the near future daily schedule. You know, the one where I worked really hard and managed to paint five paintings per week AND take care of the house and kids and animals too? I can't believe I am actually missing those crazy days right now....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

House Guest

On Friday morning we came downstairs and found this tangled up in the fake spiderweb decorating our porch:

I thought it was fake at first (last year we put fake bugs in the spiderweb), but then I saw it was moving trying to get loose. Normally bugs don't bother me much but this baby was close to 2 inches long and I admit to feeling a bit squeamish about it at first. Then I took a photograph and I think the flash shocked it, because it was totally still for the rest of the day and his eyes, which were like the size of marbles, looked all bug eyed (hehe). Our oldest son who just so happens to be an expert on bugs and other such things (very handy out here on the farm) told us it was a Giant Water Beetle and so I suppose it got up to the house from the pond, long way to go for the light but whatever.

After school, our son carefully removed it from the spiderweb and returned it to the pond. He says it was still alive but I am not sure that it wasn't blind. I am incredibly glad that it didn't get into the house. Yikes.

And yes, our Halloween decorations were still up a week after Halloween. So sue me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The New Guy!

I tried, but was unable to stay awake much past 10pm last night. By the time I drifted off though, it was pretty clear that Barack Obama was going to win.

Although he wasn't my first choice to get the democratic nomination, I voted for him and will support his presidency as much as I can. I think he is a good guy, energetic, smart and willing and able to listen to others.

I gotta think though, there there must have been a point last night where he excused himself and went to the bathroom to throw up. What a load he has volunteered to take on!

Back to art tomorrow....

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today is the Day!

Mid Fall, 2008, Oil on Gessobord, 5x5

I am not so sure about my extended family, but I do know for certain that my mother never once voted. Not only did she not vote, she was proud about not voting. She was hostile and critical and yet completely uninformed about our government and politicians in general. Her common rant was that her vote didn't matter so why bother.

When I was first eligible to vote, it was 1984. I was in college in Minneapolis and had learned a lot about being involved. Granted, I was in art college and we were all a bit melodramatic about everything, including (maybe especially) politics but I was very proud to go in and vote for Mondale/Ferraro. I have voted in every major election since then and when we lived in Utah I began voting in all the local elections as well, with my little babies in tow. It was tough voting in Utah, as the line between church and state was a bit blurry. I was not very happy about having to go to a local ward (LDS neighborhood church) in order to cast my vote. The ladies who checked me in made sure to remark loudly that they did not know who I was; they didn't know me because I was NOT a member of their church, HOW is that relevant when I am voting in a public election?

Anyway, I am off to vote later today. Obama gets my vote this time and I will also be casting my votes for a slew of local seats, including a judge, a senator and various state legislators. A few of these campaigns are pretty hot around here! And we are lucky, no long lines here in upstate NY, our town has about 350 households and there are never more than about 3 people in line to vote (at the town hall thank you!). But any wait at all is softened by conversation with friends and neighbors as well as a snack from one of the platters of home made cookies or banana bread at the registration table.

I loved my mom, but she was wrong not to vote. I intend to set a much more positive example for my children than she did for me.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Well in between last week's exciting weather, family stuff and my own laziness and lethargy, I have managed to finally get some work done on those figurative underpaintings that I did forever ago.

At every stage of these paintings I have stressed and worried and procrastinated. Mostly because I was afraid of the challenge. Not only about making a bad painting I think (I do crappy paintings all the time!) but because I feel really attached to this project of interpreting the people in these old photos I have been collecting. I want to do those people justice, yet express myself as well. Not to mention dealing with all the technical issues of painting different imagery on different supports with a different palette (sort of, I admit to using a similar palette as I do with the landscapes). Anyway, kind of a tall order and I think it is understandable that I went a bit off the deep end during this process.

I struggled a bit with the first one (above) that I added color to. Mostly with the color of the background and the texture of it (it has kind of a wallpaper-y pattern in it, not visible until one is right up close to it), first it was a lighter green, then I darkened it (it doesn't look quite so dark in person) and while it looks better, I am still not so sure about it. I might go back into it. It is also a tighter image, mostly due to the underpainting that I cleaned up maybe more than I should have, which kind of bugs me now. But I learned a lot with this one and there are parts of it that I am very happy about; her face, the sweater and her odd pose (the photo gets partial credit for that), so it was an important piece to get through. Also the beauty of working on paper is that I can crop the image if I want. And I just might do that, I like this crop quite a bit:

Then yesterday, at the end of the afternoon, I just walked right up to the easel and knocked out this painting:

As I mentioned in a previous post, I loved the underpainting and felt pretty sure that I would ruin it with color. Then it sat for a long time in my studio while I convinced myself that I was definitively going to mess it up. However, I am actually thrilled with how it turned out (it was so hard to photograph-must I add that it looks WAY better in real life?) and it is just what I had hoped to do with this imagery. I was particularly worried about the polka dots on the dress, because I left it very loose in the underpainting, knowing that it would give me trouble at the color stage. And it did when I tried to make it a multi colored pattern. After I scrubbed that off though and made it a solid red dress, the energy of the pattern is still quite visible:

Through the whole thing, I had to remind myself not to overwork and to let the underpainting do most of the work and it helped too that I had to stop and go have dinner with the kids. Stopped me from my own obsessive compulsive behavior. Heh.

Here are a few more close ups:

So I am back to being pretty enthusiastic about starting some more of these and have been spending the day choosing photos to use as reference and preparing more paper. I will start a whole new batch of underpaintings tomorrow.

PS. No official titles on these two yet, but they are 22x30, in case you were wondering about scale.