Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Road Map for 2009

Plaid Dress, Oil on Birch Panel, 12x16

Ahhhhh. The last day of 2008. But more importantly to me at this moment, it's the last day of the month, which means I am done with posting here every. single. day. Not that I have hated it, mind you. In fact it was fun, a good challenge and it also came at a good time. I was feeling a bit like I needed a break from the blog and now after posting so much, I feel energized about it all again, even if it has taken quite a bit of time each day. However, I feel great about the last month here-I had a birthday present contest, wrote a few sob stories a bit about my background, struggled with a decision about going to a residency and even participated in 100 Things, a meme going around in blogland which is the sort of thing I don't usually do. I do wish I had been painting more though, so I could have posted more new work.

The last half of 2008 was a slow time for me, I didn't have much, well anything really, going on show wise and even though I was trying to develop some new work I was pretty lackadaisical about it. I wanted to be busier but just couldn't be. I guess I just needed a break and it came at a good time, because looking back I see that I was getting pretty close to being burned out about art completely. As it is I am only close to being burned on painting landscapes, and I think I have even backed away from the edge of that by taking such a good long break from it all. On a more personal note, the slower time was really important for me to adjust to Ginger's diabetes as well. I have had time to research it, and get used to it all and I needed that. So I have no regrets about my less than productive second half of 2008, except that I wish I had spent more time enjoying it rather than feeling guilty about my productivity.

But now I HAVE to get moving! I have an exhibit schedule this year, as well as some goals to move my career along. I had a plan for all this which included spending a month at the Vermont Studio Center, however that was scrapped because of our personal finances. So I have rearranged things and in some ways it is much more practical for me to stay home and work in my own (new!) studio.

I am not making new year's resolutions exactly, and I don't usually like to talk about what I will do (I worry about jinxes) but I am feeling pretty excited about all this so what the heck. I have most of the coming year mapped out which will just so happen to start on January 1st, actually more like Jan. 5 which is when the kids go back to school, but whatever. This is what I have planned for the next three months:

1. I am taking the whole month of January to work on the figurative paintings. I have decided not to pursue new gallery representation based on my landscape work, with the possible exception of finding a new seasonal gallery, perhaps in Cape Cod again. I already have two galleries showing the landscapes/barns and I don't want to go back to doing quite so many paintings for so many different places and events (I still love painting the landscape and want to save myself from burning out on them).

To that end, I will finish 20 figurative paintings on panel in January and hopefully at least 15 of them will be good enough to send out in order to pursue new representation.

2. In conjunction with the figurative work I will do at least five monochromatic underpaintings on gessoed paper each week, of the figure, with the intent of leaving them as is, meaning no color glazes.

3. I will continue to paint 5-10 small paintings per week to sell on my other blog.

4. And even if it kills me to do it so early, I will put together all my tax info from 2008 by the end of January. It actually doesn't take that long, it's just one of the things I really tend to put off doing each year until the very last minute.

5. I will also spend an afternoon each week or so, working on some collage ideas I have which combine my painting with the photographs I have been collecting for the figurative work. I did some of this in college and it was something I never really pursued after. So naturally, that's all I can think about doing now. heh. Anyway, this is just a fun thing to do, something I didn't do enough of in the past when I had so much going on.

In February, I will have to shift gears a bit as I have a solo show in April to prepare for. So continuing on:

6. I will paint at least four landscape/barn paintings each week in February and March, with several being large scale (for me), 40x60 or so.

7. I will continue on with the figurative pieces, painting at least three per week (or possibly every other week since I don't have unlimited storage). These are most successful when I work in batches so I should have at least three going at a time.

8. I will continue with the monochromatic paintings, and will probably still try to do five per week. Once the paper is prepared and everything is set up, it is just as east to do five as it is to do one or two, so I may as well do as many as I can.

9. And this year, I plan to keep up with recording my expenses each month, instead of going back and digging out the receipts at the end of the year. It should be easier this year to keep up, since I am pretty well stocked for supplies, have no money to spend and don't plan to go anywhere or do anything. Might take me all of 2 minutes to do a bit of bookkeeping each month....

10. And also in February I will begin sending out my info to the list of galleries that I have been putting together that I think may be receptive to my figurative paintings.

I will suspend everything though in the last few weeks of March so I can finish everything up for the show that opens at the beginning of April. I have another show in August and will have to prepare for that in June and July, mostly June actually because the kids are out of school in July and I figured out a long time ago not to expect to be able to get much done when they are home on summer vacation.

Unless more exhibition opportunities come up, for the rest of the year I will work on finding a way to balance working on both figurative and landscapes. Both subjects need different things from me, but I am sure that if I keep working consistently I will be able to get better at doing both at the same time.

And because no list of resolutions goals is ever complete for me without including losing a few pounds and exercising more I will add that as well. I have let my exercise go in the last few years and even more in the last few months, so that along with a recent issue involving Lindt dark chocolate truffles means I need to get out for a walk each day at the very least. So a daily morning walk (and no chocolate)is number 11.

12. Ok, let's make it an even dozen while we here. I will have to post here just a bit less in 2009. When I started the blog I was pretty faithful about posting each weekday, but in the last 6 months or so I got a bit spotty with that. Not because I didn't have time, but because I didn't have so much going on, at least as far as making art goes. I was also feeling like I had told all my good stories and I wasn't too sure that I had much more to share. Like I said though, this last month helped me feel more enthusiastic about the blog again. BUT once I sit down at the computer to write a post, I tend to go on to other things and before I know it the day is almost gone and the school bus is coming up the road. So I will need to have at least a few days where I don't sit down at my desk first thing each morning. I have decided to post Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, posts where I talk a lot (but don't worry, few will be as long as THIS post, thankfully:)). And if it turns out that the work I am doing is presentable, I will put up an image or two in between.

Well, this is my plan. Now that I have put it out in public, I will stick to it right? Um, right. Actually I feel pretty confident about this, I am excited about what I will paint and anyway I have a few tangible deadlines to keep me on track.

A quick comment about the piece shown above: I think it is one of the best portraits I've done so far. It has many of the elements that I want my portraits to have; a sense of reality, a few abstract qualities, somewhat disturbing emotions and good color. It also happens to be on my favorite support-birch panel. Coincidence? You decide...

Thanks for reading my little old blog here, and for sticking with me through this crazy post-every-day-for-a-month-thing. I am going to take a few days off now, but will be back on Monday, all ready to prattle on, and to paint too.

Happy new year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Purse Lady

Oil on gessoed paper, 11x14

So I did manage to get quite a bit of painting done yesterday after all. I finally got the color on to three underpaintings that have been sitting here in the studio for nearly two weeks. The ones that have making me feel really lazy during this entire last week. You know, for trying to have a holiday without working in the studio.

I am still feeling giddy from last night's late night painting session as my true calling is to be a night painter! Alas, real life is suspended right now during school vacation and so the possibility of night painting will end next week when I must start my days before 6am which will render me totally unable to see clearly after 8pm, or 10pm if I am lucky.

Anyway, this painting shown above is the first one I did yesterday. It's another portrait of my favorite unhappy looking woman and I like this one much better than the first one I did of her a few months ago. Doug says it's a little creepy and somewhat disturbing and I take that as a high compliment.

And in other news (about me, of course, what else is there, heh) I got second place in Making a Mark's Best Portrait by a Female Artist. Thanks to everyone who voted for me! I really was excited to have this new work nominated, but I also think that the piece that did win "Zen" by Nicole Caulfield, deserved the top spot. I actually might have put "Paul" ahead of myself as well. Katherine has also awarded me the “Tales from the Frontline” Mention in Despatches / The “Amusing Musings” Trophy for 2008 in her end of the year awards and I am very excited to add a new trophy to my shelf full of 30 year old bowling trophies. Especially if it is a virtual trophy and not a shiny statue of a bowler with some sort of tacky, yet very glittery five inch high base.

Thanks Katherine, you have been so supportive of my art and also of my little blog here. I really appreciate it!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Painting, Painting

Under the Sky, 2008, Oil on Gessobord, 5x7
Well, so far this vacation has passed in a somewhat boring haze of nothingness. The kids are watching just a bit too much tv, we are all staying up too late and sleeping too late in the morning and are wasting away much of the day as a result. I have been trying to get some painting done and I could, since no one is bugging me too much up here in my attic hideaway, however I have been caught in the web of my computer and so not much has been accomplished.

But today I turned on the lights at my easel, which nearly always gets me going. Then I set up my paints which is the real clincher! I have finished one of the the portraits that I started before all this holiday silliness began and I am planning to do another one after I post this.

So you'll forgive me if I go now. My paints are calling me, and I am anxious to put some color on my crabby old lady portrait. I will leave you with this link though, to a couple of self-described old ladies whose blog I came across during the recent election. I have been enjoying every word they write and I can only dream of being so blunt when I am their age. Warning: If you are a Sarah Palin fan or a George Bush fan, do not go there - you will become upset, I promise. If you are NOT a SP or GWB fan, go forth and enjoy!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Practically Gourmet

My mom rarely cooked when I was a kid. We seldom sat down to eat together and most of our food was whatever I could cook or whatever she could make in 5 minutes or less. She often brought home leftover food from whichever restaurant she was working at, but we mostly got by on packaged foods, hot dogs, tv dinners, donuts, candy bars from the gas station on the corner, that sort of thing. We qualified for food stamps so once a month or so there was a trip to the grocery store and that was pretty exciting. Chocolate pudding in cans! Fruit Loops cereal! Bologna! Wonder Bread! Those were big treats for my sister and I. So obviously I grew up with food issues, childhood food habits that I have been trying to override almost all my adult life. At least I don't really crave any of the specific foods that I grew up eating, mostly since we had the same foods so often that I still can't bear to even look at certain things. Velveeta cheese and Hamburger Helper would be good examples of that. Heh.

But once in awhile my mom would pull out her cookbook and make a real dinner, especially if family was coming to town to visit. We were always excited about that but I am afraid it always ended badly. She had two dinners in her repertoire; one was a chicken/rice/Lipton onion soup mix casserole which wasn't bad (I make it once in awhile) except that she always overcooked it. I was shocked to learn as an adult that rice was actually soft and not crunchy. The other thing she made was meatloaf, which always smelled good, but then had a suspicious vomit like flavor to it that was pretty disappointing to say the least. I never did figure out what she added to get that flavor.

Anyway, my mom died over a year ago and last summer I received some of her belongings. I have been slowly sorting through things and greatly appreciated the irony of getting her cookbook and box of recipes. I make most of our food from scratch and while my kids certainly have the occasional crappy food, mostly we eat unprocessed, organic foods. I was so proud when my children expressed utter horror when they saw these three recipes:

In case you can't believe your eyes, the recipes are for Coca-Cola Cake, Dump Cake, Wacky Cake (wacky ingredient seems to be vinegar?) and the real stomach turner is Mayonnaise Cake. I have a vague memory of that one, it was actually a chocolate cake and the mayo was supposed to make it more moist. I suppose it tasted ok but well, maybe it should have a different name. And who wants Miracle Whip (of course we only had Miracle Whip) in their cake? yuck.

There were other interesting things in the book too. I left my mark on her notes for her work in a furniture repair shop, and yes that is a cigarette burn mark on the paper, my mom was never without a Kool Menthol in her hand. Don't get me started on how everything of hers STILL smells like smoke....

This was a coffee cake recipe written by my grandmother:

And oddly, my mother's tax return from 1975 was tucked in the cakes and cookies section which was just classic. But it was also a poignant reminder to me of my childhood and of how hard she worked; she mostly had waitress jobs, but that year she got a "better" job refinishing furniture, a job that she thought might have a future. Unfortunately, there were no tips at this job and her income - $2,450.83, was far less than what she earned as a waitress. She went back to waitressing the following year and stuck with it until a few years before she died.

Well, I am off to bake something, anything to rid myself of thoughts of Mayonnaise Cake running through my head!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

It Figures

It has not slipped my mind that I will need to be writing some sort of statement regarding the figurative work that I have been working on recently. At least if I want to do something with it, other than to continue tucking the finished pieces away in my flat file.

So I guess I'll start here on my trusty blog. The place where I can rattle on and on and maybe get some feedback too.

I was an illustration major back in college so there was a lot of emphasis on figure drawing. Endless hours of drawing from a model daily. I loved it but also hated it just a little bit, it was so draining. But my drawing skills were pretty good and got better and I still value that so it was all good. Later on, much time was spent on capturing likenesses, a pretty important skill if one hoped to work as an illustrator. we worked from life as well as from photographic reference and I did pretty well with both I think. Once I did a painting of Bette Davis (above) using a photo that had been printed somewhere. It was great fun to do, but I never really felt that I wanted to keep painting portraits in such a realistic manner. Even then it didn't feel right to me.

Around that time I got a hold of some my old family photos and became really intrigued with them. I was doing a lot of monochromatic paintings, which was actually the beginnings of the development of my current underpaintings, and so I began working from the images I had. Here are a few that I did right at the end of college, around 1988 or so.

Doug has always encouraged me to paint portraits, but when I began painting seriously again a few years back I didn't know what I wanted to say, although I had a lot to express. I fell into the landscapes by chance really, we had moved to this beautiful area and I figured I'd give them a try. About a year ago I started to really yearn to do something different and again Doug encouraged me to go back to portraits, and so I guess I just picked up where I had left off after college, deciding to work from photographs again as well. Not to faithfully interpret them, but to make my own interpretations, my own conclusions, my own stories about the photographs I collected.

In many ways the process of using a photographic reference for the figurative work is the same as how I use references in my landscape work. The photos are a starting point, a reminder, the beginning of a story that I can tell. The difference is that with the landscapes I mostly use my own photos, taken in a place that I have been, a place that I have experienced and have felt. Oddly, I have so far been unable to work effectively from photos that I have taken of people. Perhaps that will change in time but for now working from other family's old photos is something that is resonating with me and I will continue on in that direction for now. However, I view the process of interpreting the photographic reference as part of the painting process no matter where the photo originates. The process is still me and there are obvious similarities (palette, composition, drawing) no matter where the image comes from.

And a few more details. I am not interested in getting the likeness, although it is very tempting sometimes, especially if the photo is very appealing or if it is someone that I know in person. I am also not interested in doing commissions. I know this because when I was younger and was doing more realistic work, I did a few and it made me miserable. Few people are ever very happy with how they are represented by an artist and I couldn't handle feeling badly about how they felt. I suspect I have not matured much in that area and so will be refusing commissions, already I have been asked (casually) and I politely say no. Which brings me to the next point: I am not doing nice things to the people I work from! I am not making them more beautiful or more graceful or happier or better! I do hope to express though, my respect for their lives, their place in time and the relationships they have with others. There are also visual aspects that are important to me; color, form, looseness, patterns, the curve of a leg, the impressionistic drawing of a shoe, an arm, a hat, those are things that I love to be able to express.

So that's what I am thinking about this work. Of course, I try NOT to think too much, often thinking and planning messes me up. When I am actually working, hands and/or brushes in the paint, I am going on instinct and am not plotting out what I will do next. My work is really all about me and my instincts, for better or for worse, I suppose.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Quiet Day

Well, pretty quiet around here today. Ginger, who keeps us all either hopping or needing a nap (the above photo is what she looked like all day yesterday:)) is at a friend's house. The rest of us are at computers or reading or playing with our new toys.

Doug gave me a small book of figurative paintings by Egon Schiele and I have spent a lot of time going through it today. The book has many images that are not included in my other book of his work and many of them are very suggestive. Um, which I like. Not what I like to paint particularly, but I usually appreciate it in the work of others, nonetheless.

If I can manage to get myself up out of my chair (you can't believe how many cookies I ate yesterday and they are affecting my ability to to walk around without bumping into stuff today, heh) I hope to at least tidy up my studio after the whirlwind of gift wrapping swept through it in the last few days. Mentally at least, I am feeling like getting back to making some art and if I can get my body to cooperate it would be great to have a relatively clean studio. Maybe I'll turn up the volume on the stereo, that always helps me feel motivated.

Oh, and someone asked me awhile back about my underpainting process (sorry can't recall who right now, and I blame the cookies for that too). I came across this post written a few years ago (what? I have been writing this blog that long?) and thought it was a good and still relevant explanation of how I begin my paintings.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas, Then and Now

Me, Christmas, 1978

When I was in 7th and 8th grade, I lived with my best friend, and her mom and step dad in a trailer park mobile home community (the best one in town-it had it's own pool! inground, no less!). Tammy and I had been friends since 5th grade and I had spent a lot of time at her house. When my home life got bad it was easier to stay at Tammy's and slowly it became a permanent situation, at least for a few years.

Tammy's mom, Ginny was a crabby, smart alecky woman with a heart of gold. She usually had Tammy and I figured out pretty well, when we were up to something. However, I don't think she ever did find out that the gum on the couch cushion we got in huge trouble for, wasn't really gum. We felt lucky though that that was all she thought it was, because actually the cushion had begun to burn while we were burning paper and candy wrappers and that kind of stuff (we were experimenting, did you know that plastic candy wrappers burn incredibly fast?) in a plastic ashtray that was sitting on the cushion (we were very smart too). We did manage to get the soot cleaned off the ceiling which may be why she never put the melted spot on the cushion and the loss of one of the ashtrays together.


By Christmas 1978, I felt like a part of the family. They were very generous with me, an interloper who had practically burned down their trailer the previous summer and by about a week before Christmas there were a lot of presents under the tree for both Tammy and I. Of course we were warned heartily to leave them alone and we did for awhile. At some point though, it all became too much for us and one evening when Tammy and I were home alone we very carefully opened all of our gifts. We didn't really unwrap them all the way, we just peeled the tape on one end, just enough so that we could see what was inside. This was still very dangerous though because Ginny had eyes like a hawk and would be able to see that the gifts had been tampered with from across the room. However, I was an expert at snooping (one of my lesser known talents) and making it look like I hadn't been there. After we jumped around, thrilled that we had gotten such great gifts, I very carefully taped all the packages back up. They looked perfect! We couldn't get them all back the way they had been stacked though and certainly she would notice that. I don't recall for sure but I imagine we concocted some sort of story probably involving Tammy's siamese cat, Cindy and how she had messed everything up while batting a cat toy around.

Ginny didn't suspect anything until Christmas morning when we were less than enthusiastic when we opened all of our gifts. The excitement had worn off and we just weren't that good at pretending. She wasn't exactly mad, but she sure didn't let us forget about it either!

Of course I immediately felt guilty, and soon, I realized how much fun and anticipation had been lost. And it was a few more years until I realized how disrespectful our sneakiness, had been towards Tammy's mom. She and her husband went to a lot of effort to buy us what we wanted, not to mention that they had to count every penny, and now that I am a parent, I understand how much of a let down it probably was for them to not be able to see how excited we really were about our gifts.

Because my favorite part is seeing how excited the kids are when they open a gift, I have avoided this particular situation with my own kids mostly by hiding everything until Christmas Eve, when I would spend almost all night wrapping them and putting them out just a few hours before they would wake up. They really haven't had the opportunity to sneak a look or slit open the ends of their gifts until this Christmas. We put out the gifts TWO days ago! I told this story (um, leaving out the part about burning stuff in an ashtray on the sofa) and explained that they weren't allowed to touch anything, that there was an "invisible fence" around the tree and that I would know if they breached it. Of course I wouldn't but like Ginny, I have made enough lucky guesses over the years that they do believe my story about the eyes in the back of my head. Well, my youngest daughter does anyway.

So this holiday was even more exciting than in the past even though we cut back drastically as far as gifts go. But that didn't matter, the kids were simply giddy with anticipation and spent much time excitedly guessing and discussing what their gifts were. We really threw a wrench in the works too, by not putting a name on the largest gift, Ginger pestered me relentlessly trying to get me to tell her whose it was OR what it was.

I imagine they will have to learn this lesson for themselves someday, but then again maybe they will just take my word for it and not do what I did.

Uh-huh. R-i-g-h-t-t. And I really do have eyes in the back of my head too.

Oh and this is the first year since moving into this house that we have had the tree in a decent spot, a living room! Since this living room was always my studio, we always stuck the tree in a corner of the very small tv room and one year it was in the dining room. It's like we have a real house now....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Go Vote!

Just a quickie here (heh) today. The above painting has been nominated (Tina Mammoser nominated me, thanks Tina!) for Best Portrait by a Female Artist in 2008 over at Making a Mark. Voting begins today, now and continues until December 30, and so if you have a few minutes maybe you can put in a good word for me. But if you see something you like better, go ahead and pass me over. I won't be offended at all, it's just an honor to be nominated. Really, I mean it. Anyway, I think I may be voting for the guy with the hair over mine. You'll see what I mean when you get there.

Hope you all have a nice day. I will be posting tomorrow too, probably with some sob story about Christmases past. In the meantime, I am off to bake about a gazillion sugar cookies.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Minute, As Always

Colorful Trees, 2008, Oil on Gessobord, 6x6

Posting is going to be a bit challenging for me in the next few days. And probably a bit challenging for you readers as well, particularly if you are waiting to hear some art talk. Not much going on in my studio, well except my beloved project table will be getting some use as we all take turns wrapping our gifts tomorrow.

I am clinging to the desperate hope that I will in fact break with a 15 year tradition and actually begin wrapping gifts BEFORE 11pm on Christmas Eve. I tried to get to it all day TODAY, a whole day and a half in advance which seems ridiculously early, I know. But I kept getting distracted by things like shoveling a path in three feet of snow in order to get water to the chickens (theirs freezes at night), making cookie dough, starting a really hard puzzle with my daughter (we got the edges put together, then managed to get exactly two more pieces in the whole rest of the day), doing a bit of last minute shopping in town, and then making homemade pizza for dinner.

Now I am writing this post, and thinking that I COULD wrap all of the gifts tonight, if I stand up and start RIGHT NOW. On the other hand I am also noticing that my chair is pretty damn comfortable and it sure is nice to be sitting down.

Crap. I have a feeling that tomorrow night is gonna be a late one.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Crazy Train

Rest Stop, 2008, Oil on Gessobord, 5x7

In the 100 Things post yesterday, I made mention of telling the story of how I came to kill and prepare an animal to eat. It's kind of a long story, or at least I will make it into one (heh), and it also involves some things that perhaps if you are related to me, you probably should not keep reading!

By the time I was 17, I had been in three foster homes, as my mother was unable to care for my sister and I. The first one was a friend's house and I was there for about 2 years until her step dad starting drinking too much and taking out his anger on me. Then I went to live in a young couple's home. They had very young children and were also VERY religious. I was only 16 but already had some opinions (pro-choice) that they were offended by and after about nine months I was sent off to another home. The third one was a really good one, my sister had been there previously (we were never placed anywhere together) and I already knew them. They had four kids and it was pretty easy to just fit right in, which I did for awhile. But by the end of 11th grade I was fed up with the whole system, with being told what to do, where to live, and when to move. I was also starting to drink a little bit and had a boyfriend too, which fueled some rebellion in me. So I acted like the troubled immature child I was and just up and moved out one day. First I shared a place with my boyfriend but that didn't last long, so I got my own two room apartment with a bathroom down the hall that I shared with two other women that I never actually saw. I reaffirmed to myself that I wanted to finish high school, go to college and make something of myself, so I became an emancipated minor. There were some legalities involved and I had to agree to a visit from a social worker each month. I worked two jobs in addition to going to school, but after a few months it became really tough to handle the rent and I began to look for a cheaper place to live.

Around the same time that I turned 18 and had no one checking up on me any longer, I answered an ad in the paper for a room for rent. It was in a big old house out in the country, a few miles from the city where I lived, worked and went to school (Rochester, MN). It would mean more driving and gas, but the rent was only a hundred dollars a month including utilities, so I took it. But here is the bad part: the occupants of the seven other rooms were all men. My mother tried to stop me, but even though she and I had kept up our relationship, it was tenuous at best and I was not interested in hearing her advice about anything. The owner of the house was good guy, worked as a wrestling coach and teacher at the local junior college and then there were a variety of other guys living there. At the time they seemed so much older than I was, but really they were mostly just babies too, in their early 20's, trying to figure what to do with their lives. I became buddies with them, and they were fun. There was always a wicked game of pong going on in the living room and we shared many meals together. There was also a lot of drinking and several few parties in the barn that required the rental of a beer truck, but honestly that wasn't exactly unusual at that time.

I moved to the house in January of 1983. By April, I had started to date a friend of one of my roommates, His name was Jeff, but for the life of me I cannot recall his last name anymore, and this really bugs me for some reason. Anyway, Jeff was in a band and they practiced in the barn at the farm. I used to watch the practices and when the band played at a few local bars and parties, myself and the other girlfriends tagged along. Ok, I was a groupie, fine, I admit it. Heh. I can still remember the songs they played; Crazy Train, White Wedding, Lay it on the Line, La Grange and we all thought the band was incredible, awesome, they should have a record deal! I painted a backdrop for them (hmmm, I can't remember the name of the band now either...) and I gave Jeff, who played lead guitar, a pair of nylon parachute type pants. Then I spent a month's rent on a pair of leather pants for him too. There were a lot of bandannas tied to the forearms, near mullets, Sammy Hagar videos, and way too much drinking. I won't go into all the details about that, but even though we all did some very reckless things, we were lucky and nothing bad happened.

Anyway, what does this have to do with killing and preparing animals, you say? Not much actually, just setting the scene. In that same spring, one of the older roommates, Dean (he was all of 25), bought a load of maybe 50 live chickens, though it seemed like a thousand at the time. He offered to share them with whoever would help kill, pluck and prepare them. Since I had spent all my money on leather pants for the boy whose last name I can't remember anymore, I volunteered, along with a few other roommates who needed food too. Dean showed us all how to kill the chickens. I won't get too specific, but we all killed at least one chicken. It was horrible, yet also somewhat fascinating. However, none of us were into killing more than one and so Dean did the rest, he had been raised on a REAL farm. We had a kind of assembly line set up. Someone else put the dead chickens into a pot of hot water, then plucked them. Dean showed me and a guy named Phil how to cut them open after they were plucked and pull out the insides without spilling the contents of the gizzard, something that I think I could still do properly if I had to. And then someone else took care of the rest (legs, neck, etc, sorry) and put them in freezer bags. We kept a few out for a bbq later that evening and I still can recall how good those chickens were. Even though I couldn't bring myself to kill more than one chicken, I did my job well that day and we had a full freezer of fresh chickens for awhile at least.

So that's my story. I couldn't imagine chopping off a chicken's head now (we are planning to raise meat chickens next year and they will definitely be going to a slaughter yard for that part) but I have euthanized a few of my sick egg layers and I always feel horrible about it after. I can't quite believe that was me then, but I guess it was. Sometimes I can't remember who that girl was at all and she seems so distant as I sit here and write about this tonight.

PS. I actually managed to graduate from high school that spring, and by the end of June I was feeling very restless again. I had been accepted to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and just decided to pick up and move up there a few months early. Another pretty dumb decision, and it wasn't my last, though eventually I managed to (mostly) become the person I always thought I should have been in the first place. I kept up with a few of my farmhouse roommates for awhile, but now haven't heard about anyone for many years. I'd google them, but alas, most of their last names have slipped away from my memory too. I saw Jeff once or twice after I moved to Minneapolis, but then I heard he went back to live with his parents who were very devout Jehovah's Witness. He had been having his own kind of rebellion I guess.
Oh and I am still very close to the third foster home family that I lived with. We mended our relationship, (meaning they understood my problems) and we all went on. They have been a part of my life ever since and I am very grateful for that.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My 100 Things

Doubled Up, 2008, Oil on Gessobord, 5x7

I first saw this on Lisa Call's blog, then I saw it again on Tina Mammoser's blog and decided to get in on the action. Plus, it seems like a really good way to fill up another day here in Tracyland.

Of course, I can't just let most of these statements just sit, so I have included some super fascinating explanations.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars (I don't specifically recall sleeping outside but as a kid in the 70's there were a lot of sleepovers in friend's backyards.)
3. Played in a band (I played flute in the school band for several years but I was terrible and was always last chair. I quit in 8th grade)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (You couldn't pay me enough.)
8. Climbed a mountain (Going up might be ok, um after intensive physical training of course, getting back down would definitely be an issue for me.)
9. Held a praying mantis (My oldest son is an avid bug/critter type and there have been many great finds over the years. I have held all of them, um, except for the snakes.)
10. Sang a solo (Audiences everywhere should be rejoicing that this one is NOT highlighted.)
11. Bungee jumped (No way.)
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (I consider knitting an art.)
15. Adopted a child (We don't do things in order around here. Our first kid was our nephew who came to live with us when he was 4. We then had 2 babies, adopted Kurtis when he was nine, then oops, one more sort-of-a-surprise-not-sure-about-another-one-but-no-one-is-running-to-get-the-birth-control-either baby.)
16. Had food poisoning (This one is probably a yes, never been so sick as to be hospitalized, but vomiting and diarrhea after eating a suspicious dinner in a restaurant? Definitely. Diarrhea for a whole week while in Mexico? I think that should count too.)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables (Every summer and am hoping to extend the season with a cold frame next year.)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train (I slept in a seat on a 4 day train ride from Minneapolis to Philadelphia. I was on a budget, no sleeper car for me.))
21. Had a pillow fight (Teenage slumber party style pillow fight.)
22. Hitch hiked (Another maybe. I have definitely asked people that I did not know, for a ride home. Not exactly hitch hiking but similar concept.)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (Shh. Don't tell Doug, who was my boss when we met.)
24. Built a snow fort (We built awesome snow TOWNS back in Minnesota when I was a kid!)
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping (This one is probably a yes. I don't think I would have gotten completely naked, but there were a few drunken nights at a lake during high school, so I guess skinny dipping could have happened.)
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run (Softball. 5th and 6th grade. I was an awesome hitter, not such a good runner. But I was able to haul my butt around the bases a few times at least.)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (On my list of things to do! It's only a day trip from my home.)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community (Visited Lancaster County once and there is a substantial community near us here in NY. We buy cheese and raw milk from a local Amish farmer.)
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (We had plenty of money once and while it was a lot of fun, it did not make us happier or satisfied, and in fact it caused us more than a few problems.)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karoke (Again, with the audience. Bad.)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt (When we lived in Utah, we took the family to Yellowstone several times and saw Old Faithful every time. Got some great photos of it too!)
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (I have always wanted to, but could never figure out the logistics of how to go about it.)
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (Does drunkenly staggering along a lake beach count?)
46. Been transported in an ambulance (I had terrible stomach pains once, Doug called 911 and while I was doubled over in pain, I actually told him to tell them NOT to use the sirens and lights because I didn't want the neighbors to see. It was not diagnosed that night but later found out I had an ulcer, which perforated about a year later and I had to have emergency surgery. Doug drove me to the hospital that time.)
47. Had your portrait painted (Self portraits and a few by other students in college, although I didn't encourage that.)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (Did some snorkeling in Cozumel once.)
52. Kissed in the rain (Nothing dramatic or romantic here but I guess Doug and I have kissed a few times during a drizzle as he was getting in the car to go on a business trip.)
53. Played in the mud (NOT as an adult, thank you.)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (In high school and then when we lived in Utah there was one that we went to several times when the kids were babies. We saw The Crow there on a really rainy night once and we might have kissed that night too, which combines 52 and 54. Anyway, it was the perfect place to see that movie.)
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies (As a kid and now as a parent.)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason (Doug is the only person I have ever gotten flowers from, but it's always for a reason. Birthday, Valentine's etc. I am thankful for this but a no reason bunch WOULD be nice sometime.)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (I have tried to donate, but my veins are small and no one really wants to go to all the trouble. My blood type is pretty common so no loss really.)
65. Gone sky diving (HA, not a chance in hell!)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (Sadly, more times than a I can recall, mostly in college.)
68. Flown in a helicopter (Again, no way!)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (In high school I went on a school trip to Washington DC and we did the whole tour.)
71. Eaten Caviar (yuck.)
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square (Kinda wished I could have done that when it was all sleazy and full of strip clubs, drug addicts and hookers, but when I was last there, I just bought a few books in a mega bookstore and walked around a little bit. heh.)
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job (This could be a yes, I had a job once assembling jewelry and the owners let go two of the most recent employees of which I was one, because they were having financial issues. Maybe if I had been a more awesome employee they might have kept me, but whatever. I wasn't fired for doing a crappy job or anything.)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (I broke my left wrist in 10th grade when I fell down while skating at the local roller rink, Skate Country.)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. (I hate motorcycles.)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (Would like to and it is on my list of things to do.)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (Actually this may be a gray area. We have leased new cars, then have ended up buying them after the initial lease expired. Not sure if that counts, maybe the blog police can let me know:))
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (A few times, though I try to avoid it because I generally look stupid somehow.)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House (Again, high school trip.)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (This a good story and perhaps the topic of another blog post. How's THAT for a teaser?)
88. Had chickenpox (I was fourteen and out of school for 2 weeks. Still can see a few scars.)
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury! (Got called last year but the case settled and so won't have to go back again for several years.)
91. Met someone famous (Bonnie Raitt in a bead store in Philadelphia in 1989. She was disguised dressed up as a society lady wearing a big white hat and flowery dress and I never would have recognized her if Doug hadn't pointed her out to me. I went to tell her how much I loved her music, (very original) and she was very nice while I went on to hyperventilate. Also I once met and chatted with Fred Gwynne,(he and his son were touring the art school I attended in Philly-we talked on the elevators) but didn't know it was him until some friends clued me in later.)
92. Joined a book club (One of my real life friends has asked me but it's on a night that Doug is usually in NYC so I said no.)
93. Lost a loved one (More than a few, I am afraid.)
94. Had a baby (Three!)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (I don't know why anyone would want to, unless they want to be able to highlight it on a list like this someday. It's a smelly, very salty lake, not an appealing place for a swim at all.)
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee (Many times.)
100. Read an entire book in one day (I used to all the time, but so many others things to do now to just sit and read anymore. Plus I get all stiff and sore when I sit too long these days:))

So there you go. Obviously, I have not traveled much, in fact except for a week long vacation in Cozumel, Mexico, I have never been outside of North America. I imagine I will someday, but frankly, I am not terribly interested in traveling and would prefer to spend my time trying to accomplish a few other things (like publishing a book), first.

Also, I do not like to do risky activities. I had enough of that when I was a kid (living in a small town, pretty much unsupervised, was like being close to death every day) and then as a college student who drank way too much while living in gang infested neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

And you should all be very, VERY happy that I do not sing in public.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sofa Time

OK. Just a quick hello to qualify as a blog post today. Once again I had to drive well over an hour both ways to take my daughter to a swim meet today, after a day in which our area got at least 8 inches of snow, maybe more. In fact it was still snowing when we got close to where we were going. So when we got back home this afternoon, I was beat, and very stressed from the driving in snow and ice thing (I am getting worse at handling this each year). So I got a fire started, got my book and laid down on the sofa for the rest of the day. Read, doze, read, doze. Fabulous.

I got up to have some pizza and now I am planning to go back to lay down and read some more. First time I have done this in our old studio/new living room, and now I think that maybe I will never do anything else but hang out in the living room all day....

Oh, and I finally finished up a batch of small paintings and posted them (including the one shown above) over at my sales blog, if you'd like to check them out.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fitting It All In

Two Door Barn, Oil on Gessobord, 6x6

I figured I better get this post up now, otherwise there is a very good chance that I won't be able to later on. We are getting a good old winter storm today, possibly 10" of snow by tonight and when that happens we usually lose our satellite signal. And since I have actually been posting every day so far this month, I am not going to let a silly little storm mess me up.

The above painting (my cousin Judy may recognize it, it's a barn on her farm in Ohio) is one that I eeked out yesterday in between all the running up and down the stairs, letting the dogs in and out and picking up and/or dropping off the kids. Janelle left a comment wondering how I could paint in the midst of so much and my answer to that is that I am not exactly sure. Sometimes I can't. And I sure couldn't 23 years ago when I was in college, everything distracted me then. But mostly I can do it now because I really want to paint and if I want to keep painting, well then I better figure out how to fit it in with everything else, because the other stuff isn't going away for quite awhile.

It's a new thing for me to be able to be this determined and sure. That all changed when I had babies. Before that I had been a bit scattered, but after giving birth I turned into some kind of strange wonderwoman that can do all kinds of things that I never thought I could or would want to do. I chose to give painting up for awhile but when I got back to it-look out mama! Learning to multi-task saved me too and I am able to juggle a lot of different things if necessary.

However, having different compartments helps a lot too. My daily schedule is pretty regular now-there are always a few chores each morning, then I usually have a chunk of time during the day while the kids are at school when I had better use my time effectively (I don't always, and lately I haven't much at all!) and then the late afternoon and evening get pretty hectic with the kid's activities, dinner, homework, etc. If I can get my work done during the day it all works pretty well. If I don't, or have too much to do and things begin to overlap, then I definitely have a tough time focusing on both my work and the family. Everyone gets shortchanged.

On the other hand, interruptions can be welcome. I have a tendency to get too involved in what I am doing which can cause me to overwork a painting. I have noticed in the past few years that I often spend a good part of my studio time on the computer or doing other things, then breeze on up to my easel and whip out a really awesome painting. So having a lot of time isn't always the key either and briefly getting out of the zone can help.

I am not as organized as some folks, however I am not unorganized either. A strict schedule tends to stress me out and I like to be able to do what I want( a quality that makes me a very bad employee, heh). Since I do usually know what I need to do in order to keep being productive and to make good art (art being entirely subjective of course, I mean art that I think is good) I try to follow my intuition each day as much as possible.

Of course, sometimes I don't wanna listen to my intuition, but that's a whole different post. Heh.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Today Went Like This:

5:45 - Alarm goes off.

6:15 - After dozing for a half hour I get up, take a shower, get dressed.

6:45 - Make my first round of getting the kids up. Then up to my studio to check my emails. Yes, I am that hooked on my computer.

7:00 - Try again to get everyone up. Then downstairs to feed the cats and dogs, let the dogs outside, make a salad for Ginger's lunch, make sure her snack bag and diabetic test kit are in order for the day, make eggs for the girls, make sure our oldest son is up, dressed and outside to wait for his bus. Sign a permission slip, then negotiate a huge fight between the girls which ends with my 11 year old telling me that gloves are for losers as she slams the door and stands outside waiting to continue the fight with Ginger. I threaten her with bodily harm if she keeps it up. Everyone finally runs to the bus stop and they all make it there with a few minutes to spare.

7:40 - While they are waiting at the bus stop I go out to give the chickens fresh water and scratch for the day. I collect one egg (the chickens are molting and are not laying) and then fill the bird feeders by the house.

7:50 - Go inside and scoop the ashes out of the fireplace, then carry in 3 arm loads of wood. I build a new fire and get it going, then sweep up around the hearth.

8:10 - I let the dogs out, then in again, make myself some eggs, and go up to my studio to read blogs, answer emails and check facebook obsessively.

8:50 - I hear a loud truck out front outside and check to see if it is UPS, even though it is pretty early for him to come by. At the very moment I see it's the garbage truck, I realize that we forgot to put the garbage cans out and I run down two flights of stairs, fly out the front door waving my arms like a crazy housewife with two barking dogs behind me. Luckily, he waited, perhaps taking pity on the idiots that can't remember what day it is and I manage to drag the garbage cans down the snow covered driveway in my slippers. At least I am not still in pj's. I thank him profusely for waiting, we joke a bit and I feel guilty about not giving him some sort of Christmas gift. Sigh.

8:55 - Stoke the fire, get the dogs back in and go back upstairs to my computer.

9:30 - Down to the kitchen to make chocolate crinkles for my son to take to his art class on Friday. Mix up the batter, put it in the fridge then clean up the kitchen. Stoke the fire. Start a load of laundry.

9:50 - Dogs out then in. I go do something with my hair, brush my teeth, then clean up a hairball outside our bedroom door. Back up to the studio. Sit and stare at the computer again.

11:45 - Finally decide to get to work. I pack up three packages that need to get mailed. Tidy up the studio a little, then sit down at the easel to work on a batch of small paintings.

1:15 - I hear Penny barking downstairs, which sets Mr. Wilson off and we run downstairs so they can both go out and bark more for no apparent reason. I put the wash into the dryer, start another load and then scoop out the cat litter box. Stoke the fire, let in the dogs and put them both in their crates downstairs so I can have some peace and I go back upstairs.

1:30 - Check the computer, then back to painting. I finish several small pieces and put a glaze on each of the big figurative paintings.

3:30 - Go downstairs, wash out my brushes, talk to the boys who are now home and give them a few things to do while I am gone.

3:40 - Leave to drive to town.

4:00 - Get to the elementary school to pick up Ginger from the after school jump rope club. Chat with my friend Erica, while waiting, then we both go inside to see why our girls are taking so long.

4:20 - Stop at the post office to mail my packages.

4:50 - Get home. Let the dogs out, check the laundry, add wood to the fire, run up to the studio to check my emails. Oh and the snail mail too where I find more Christmas cards from people who are much more capable than I am.

5:05 - Make Ginger a quick sandwich for dinner. Give her a shot of insulin and check her meter readings for the day.

5:30 - Put dogs in their crates and we all leave for town again.

5:40 - We get to the gym where we meet up with our oldest son's ride to go roller skating with his friends, then wait for my older daughter to come out after her swim practice.

5:55 - Drop off Ginger at the elementary school for a soccer workshop.

6:05 - Instead of driving home yet again, I take my remaining son and daughter to dinner downtown and we have a really nice, enjoyable and relaxing dinner.

7:10 - The three of us go to the CVS to buy some small gifts (candy) for their teachers. Nothing like waiting until the last minute (tomorrow is the last day of school before the break) but at least everything is on sale now.

7:20 - Pick up Ginger from soccer and go home!

7:55 - Get home and inside, dogs out then back in, more laundry, then my son and I make the chocolate crinkle cookies, while we listen to Ginger play her violin. This is her first day using the bow and my son and I both look like we are eating lemons while she is playing.

9:05 Clean up the kitchen, load up the fireplace, turn the lights off, carry up the laundry to fold some other day, or maybe next week.

9:20 - Oops, clean the toilet in the kid's bathroom that is so um, full with something brown and very smelly, that everyone has run screaming from it all night.

9:37 - Up to my studio again to hide the cookies so older son doesn't eat them all while we are all sleeping, and to write today's post.

11:05 - Downstairs to check the fire again, put the dogs in their crates for the night. back up to the bedroom. I look at the laundry that should be folded but decide to ignore it. Brush my teeth, floss, wash my face and finally in bed. I will probably get about two minutes of reading in before falling asleep with the light on.

PS. Doug is out of town today, so it's a bit more hectic for me than usual. Although he does travel 2-3 days per week, so I guess this is normal for part of my week anyway.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Love Rollercoaster

No Title Yet, I just painted it today!

Ok, I am going to make this quick tonight, it's my big TV night and The New Adventures of Old Christine starts in 40 minutes (love Julia Louis-Dreyfus).

Last week I wrote about trying to decide if I should go to the Vermont Studio Center and received much encouragement to go, which I really appreciate. Thanks everyone!

On Saturday, I decided I would go and even told a few friends that I spoke with that day. I was happy about my decision and really excited about working more on the figures as well as on another project that I have in mind that involves some interaction and a giveaway and would be perfect to do there. I was also excited about seeing my good friend Rachel, from last year. Her studio was next door to mine and she will be there again this winter.

Anyway, Doug had an awful cold which was giving him sinus pain, so I didn't want to spring it on him that I was going to go ahead and pay the balance of the fee while he was moaning in pain. We talked about it finally on Monday morning, and he was cool with it but later on I went over our finances and realized that it would be terribly irresponsible of me to take $1900 away from our bank account without knowing when or if more money would be coming in. My income has been quite spotty for the last several months and Doug's company is feeling the pinch too and when that happens, Doug is the last to get paid, which means that sometimes he doesn't for awhile.

When I started this whole full time painting thing, one of my limitations was that our family would come first. Mostly that just meant that I would only paint during the day while they were at school, or not scheduling shows during the summer months when they are home from school, but now I am finding that sometimes more difficult decisions must be made. Um, like you know, like not becoming homeless. heh. We are not to that yet thankfully, but one must stay on top of things and so that is what we are doing. The financial risk is too much for us right now and I would never be able to enjoy my time in Vermont knowing that so I have decided that I will not be going in February.

However, my husband is a saint and says he will take care of EVERYTHING for at least a month so that I can paint, paint, paint. Not exactly the same, and I am pretty sure that won't quite happen, but it's close enough and if I stick to a schedule I will do pretty well, I think.

So I called VSC today and rescheduled. They are very accommodating in these sorts of situations (what? artists with money issues? how unusual!:)) and offered me a very flexible payment plan which I was very tempted by. However, things are going to get tighter for us before they get better, even if there were a miraculous economic turnaround tomorrow, so I sadly turned it down. But I am on the schedule for January 2010 and am going to be optimistic about going then.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Still To Do

Restraint, 2008, Oil on Gessobord, 5x5

A bit of a hectic day here today and even though I am really trying to get some more small paintings done, and posted to my sales blog, I think the upcoming holidays are about to completely take over my studio time.

My husband is Jewish (he does Hanukkah with the kids) and I am not particularly religious, so our holiday is fairly simple, no visits by or to extended family (we don't have much extended family actually), just a lot of cocooning in our old farmhouse in the country. We play games, do a few jigsaw puzzles, we bake a lot of cookies and have at least one nice meal IN THE DINING ROOM and WITH A TABLECLOTH and using the CLOTH NAPKINS. That is a VERY EXCITING event! We probably give a few too many gifts to our kids, although we have been scaling back as they get older and also because are officially sick of injuring our feet by stepping on small toy parts on the floor. We usually give them art supplies and crafts kits (no beads anymore, there must be 5000 beads now caught in the cracks between our wood floor boards), books, music and maybe some electronics for good measure.

Even though we keep things simple, stuff happens and I get a little rushed anyway. At least most of the gift shopping is done now, but I still have to:

1. Decorate the tree. The girls will help but I need to put the lights on it first, which keeps getting bumped to "tomorrow" each day.

2. Put together some sort of holiday card. Last year I got to it so late that I just emailed a photo and Christmas letter to everyone, which was nice actually. So will do the same this year, but am not so sure it will go out BEFORE the 25th. So what else is new?

3. Totally bailed on putting up Christmas lights on our porch. Which is stupid because we had our porch rebuilt last year and lights would look awesome now on our perfect new structure, unlike how they used to illuminate every detail of the old sagging porch ceiling. Am going to try and put up a wreath though. I might be able to handle that although it seems a bit pointless at this late date. Maybe I can get one on sale.

4. I have to go do a big grocery shopping so that we can bake cookies. HA. Like we will get to baking cookies before the 24th.

5. And the rest of this week is littered with the all important hair appointment, other errands, another swim meet 80 miles away, a birthday party at the roller rink and who knows what else will crop up.

PS. Number 6 is to keep posting every day this month even though clearly I have little in the way of art to talk about. Will keep trying though, 'k?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Two More Underpaintings

11x14, Oil on Gessoed Paper

I got right down to business today in the studio. By 9am (!) I was at my easel working on the above underpainting. It was a tough one actually and took me much longer than I expected it would. Once it was done I spent some time on the computer, had some lunch, considered going for a walk, but decided to go back to the studio instead where I promptly wasted another hour or so on the computer (should have taken the walk, but at least now I know everything about Gene Vincent and I also learned that Tara Reid is heading to rehab-important stuff).

However I did finally get back to work and did another small-ish (12x16) underpainting (below). This one marks the first one in this series that I have done on my favorite surface-a birch panel, rather than the gessoed paper that I've been using for these. There were two reasons for the switch. First, I have been pretty happy with these so far and subsequently found myself stressing about how to possibly display them, frames, etc. They may never get to that point, but it was something that was bugging me every time I pulled out another sheet of prepared paper and using the birch panels just whisks all those worries away. The other reason, the real decider actually, was that I didn't feel like taping up another piece of paper onto a board.

Really it's true, I am just that lazy....

12x16, Oil on Birch Panel

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Just Do It


Well, I did manage to finally get a new underpainting going. It took me all day to settle down and get to it, but I finally did. And as always, I enjoyed it so much that I have been berating myself for not working more on these. It's so hard for me to get started on each one. They are just really intimidating, I think.

I should probably put a big post it note on my studio wall (or maybe on the computer, that might be the real culprit here) that says "You will LOVE the process of making the underpainting, so JUST DO IT!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Longest Day Ever

And Even More Sky, 2008, oil on Gessobord, 4x4

Today has been a very long day. I had to get up at 5am, which was simply painful on a really cold, dark snowy morning, in order to drive an hour and a half to take my daughter to a swim meet. But the payoff for that was that she and I were able to watch the sun rise and reflect off the ice encrusted trees, from the previous night's ice storm. It was like driving through a million pink, yellow and blue sparkly icicles. Naturally, I did not have my camera along to document this beautiful morning, but sometimes things should just be experienced rather than documented anyway and this was one of those things.

I spent the next five hours chatting with the other parents which was fun, got my social thing covered for the next month or so, hehe, and oh yeah, I watched my daughter's events too. Which took up all of 4 minutes out of the five hours.

Then we drove to Saratoga Springs so I could pick up my remaining paintings from the gallery that closed there a few months ago. We did a little bit of shopping, and then headed home where my daughter finally crashed and delivered the mother of all tantrums, the kind most people might get locked up for, which was something I was considering until she calmed herself down and apologized. Should I be embarrassed about going to bed at 9pm on a Saturday night after all this? I think not.

So that is all I have for today folks. Not terribly exciting (except for maybe the fit) but then they can't all be, right?

I will close by shamelessly mentioning The Fine Art Department and Small Art Showcase yet again. Still plenty of time before Christmas to buy a gift for a friend, or family member, or yourself. Well, maybe not plenty of time but enough, anyway!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

View from my studio window in Vermont

I have been struggling a bit lately with making a decision about whether or not to go to the Vermont Studio Center in February. I have been accepted, I received a partial grant for the cost, paid my deposit, but still have to pay a good chunk of money in the next week or so.

Like so many others these days, our finances are tight. My income has all but evaporated, and while Doug is still doing ok, he does sell a high priced luxury item to people with money, and it is looking like there might be fewer of them around anymore.

While technically I do have the money to pay the remaining fee, I am hesitant to do so, mostly because I am concerned about the next few months or the next few years even. I hope there will be some sort of optimistic financial burst after Obama takes office, however that sure isn't anything to count on. I think this country's economic troubles go much deeper than that.

On the other hand I would really like to go. For the social reasons of course, I rarely get to spend any time with fellow artists in my real life, but also because I really want to get focused on the figurative work. I have wasted much time in the last few months and much of it seems to revolve around the computer, that stupid yet awesome thing! Anyway, I really want to find my groove with the figurative stuff and I am pretty sure that I need a different environment to do it.

But of course there is no guarantee of that either. While I did get started on this series last year in Vermont, I was derailed a bit when I got home, plagued by insecurities and worries about what I doing. It took me awhile to get over it and this year I won't have the time for all that craziness. I have a solo show set for April and will have to do a good portion of the work for that in March after I get back from Vermont. Keeping my wits about me, as well as my self confidence in check would really help, but sheesh, it seems as risky to count on that as it is to think the economy will be all hunky dory soon, and my paintings will start to sell again, making all this affordable, in which case I can better justify going, even if I may be a raving lunatic for a bit afterward.

Like how I tied all that together?

Sigh. I suspect I will be going. I don't think I can resist all the good things about it, and since there are no other costs involved (room and board is part of the fee, really excellent food, I might add) I can maybe deal with the financial aspect. I think I will just have to work on the confidence thing and not let the art of the conceptual artists intimidate this ol' pretty much representational kind of girl.

Steely resolve, that's what I need to work on. heh.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Am Easy

Today is definitely a lame-o post. I don't even have any images to post so I have resorted to putting up a shot of the view from my studio window. Which is a nice view actually, and very wintery today as we have a snowstorm coming in. I suspect there will be no school tomorrow and unless we allow the kids to watch TV, I won't get much done in the studio either.

I have been itching to start some new portraits but haven't had a good block of time all week in order to do it. Wait, I did have some time on Wednesday, but the magnetic pull of my computer screen was too much for me and I frittered the day away, surfing and chatting. Much fun, but well, pretty lazy of me.

Ooh, I almost forgot! Tina (thanks, Tina!) was kind enough to nominate me for this which has given me a good boost in confidence regarding what I am doing with these figures.

So now you all know how easy I am. Just nominate me for an award and I start thinking I am the best painter chick ever. Heh.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Family Info

Ok so our appointment in Syracuse went great. Even though Doug and I are often plagued with insecurities about insulin units and how many carbs Ginger needs, or doesn't need, etc, etc, and we had a million questions, which our nurse patiently answered, she also said we should keep doing whatever it is we are doing, because Ginger's 3 month average sugar levels were awesome, better than some people who DON'T have diabetes. By the time we left the clinic, Doug and I were incredibly relieved and just a little bit full ourselves for handling these first few months pretty well. Of course there are a lot more months coming but again, not thinking about all that today.

Last night I wrote up a whole long thing about our older son but have decided not to post it because this morning it seems like too much for my little ol' art blog here. But I will put up the short version of this story because well, I am posting every day this month and am already getting desperate for subjects. heh. Anyway, this is it:

K. (who is our nephew) came to live with us when he was 4, he was mentally disabled although we weren't really sure of the extent at the time. We eventually adopted him, and now he is an adult which is a bit surreal! He has been on a waiting list for a state funded community group home for disabled adults for the last few years. He is to be included in a house that is suppose to be ready in March, however, the state's economy hit the fan and now there is a spending freeze in New York state. So we don't know if the project will be funded. Because, you know, the first things to get cut from a budget must be the already minimal assistance to handicapped and other vulnerable children and adults. Yeah.

Like most kids his age, our son is ready to move out, and we are ready for him to move out too! We love him dearly and will always advocate for his needs, however he can be difficult and we need a break! But because we have learned not to depend on the government for help concerning his needs, we are working on a few back up plans now. The group home is our first choice though, so we are crossing our fingers until next week when we will find out if our son's home will be funded.

Stupid economy.