Thursday, August 27, 2009

Going Abstract, Baby!

The Reds#49, 2009, Oil on Birch Panel, 9x6

Over the last year or so I have been pondering which direction to take my paintings in. I felt that I especially wanted to explore the colors and glazes that I so love to use and while I wasn't sure, I thought abstract would be a good direction in that case. I fooled around with some 4x4 squares, and just using one color; pink, red, blue green, etc and then scratching marks into the wet paint. They weren't really doing much for me though and so mostly the squares have been sitting in a pile on one of the tables in my studio all this time. I did send a few to Steven LaRose so that he could do something with them, a collaboration of sorts. Haven't seen anything from him though, so I suspect they are now sitting in a pile on one of the tables in his studio now. Heh.

Anyway, in July while I was preparing my work for the show at Carrie Haddad Gallery (the show is up until Sunday so there is still time to see it!) this caught my eye:

I had just finished this painting and since it is a 36x48 panel, I had to set it on my easel vertically (it is a Horizon Line series painting, meant to be horizontal) so that I could walk around it more easily in order to get to my desk.

So it sat like this for a few days and I couldn't stop looking at it. I kept thinking that it should be a vertical! I yearned for it to be a vertical, but in the end I left it horizontal so that it would be in keeping with the rest of the work in the show.


I knew what I was going to do next! Instead of having my usual post show meltdown, I got right back to work in the studio. The first ones I did were on gessoed paper and were small; 4x8, 6x10 or so and my intent was for them to be long verticals. This worked ok, I was interested enough (somewhat obsessed, actually) by the process and the results to keep going. And Doug was very helpful in explaining to me what he was seeing in them. Which was different and much more involved than what I thought I was doing!
Study, 4x8, Oil on Gessoed Paper

I decided that the next batch would be on panels. Um, just in case they got better (dealing with presenting and/or framing the works on paper stresses me out). As of today, I have done about 30 paintings, including a batch of about a dozen to put in an event at the local arts org. next week. None have been terrible but some are definitely much stronger than others. I am very excited about these works and have a lot of ideas about other directions in which to take them. There has also been much discussion about the orientation of the panels. My intent was that they would all be vertical "stripes" and I painted them like that, but of course many of them simply look better as horizontals. I really wanted to be completely abstract with these, but now I have decided to view them as a bridge from the older work to the new. Doug and I spent some time today discussing which way each of them should be presented. Also turns out that many of them go either way. Heh.
The Reds#48, 2009, Oil on Birch Panel, 9x9

Also working in a more square format (thanks Steven!) helps to make them work better as a vertical image.

Oh and much debate about titles. Oh the titles! I just couldn't bear the thought of having to come up with more titles, 30 right now, today!!! So I decided to simply title the series and number each of them.

I am posting several images here today and will put up more along with my usual posts. Will also be posting them (well, the good ones anyway;)) on my Facebook fan page.

AND. I have a mini new direction already, will post those images next time.
The Reds#55, 2009, Oil on Birch Panel, 6x9

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Need Different Directions

Orange House with Hedge, 2009, Oil on Birch Panel, 6x12

So in the last six years or so, I have done over a thousand paintings (that does NOT include the clunkers, and there were more than a few of those!). My technique is to work fast so actually painting that many isn't such a big deal to me, the big deal is coming up with that many images. I often paint the same subject matter, to make another interpretation of it or to explore it further but yes, also because it is a constant struggle to find new imagery that I respond to enough to want to paint it. And when I look back at the progression of paintings I can see my growth as a painter, all the shifts and changes in palette. I am proud of what I have accomplished in these last several years.

But holy cow, am I ever burned out on this subject matter!!! Once I get started on a painting and get into it, it's fine but lately I have been struggling with the getting started part. I am just not as enthusiastic about the landscapes and barns as I once was and even though I can still do work that I am proud of, I don't like not having the same enthusiasm. Kinda sucks all the fun out the whole painting thing, ya know? I know that I have a few more landscapes, barns and other structures in me, and I will keep painting them, but not to the extent that I have been for the last six years.

As most of you know, I have been fooling around a bit with portraits and while those ARE really exciting to me, they also completely slay me too! They are intense and I can't paint them at the pace that I prefer to paint and plus, up until recently, I have had no venue for them. So whenever I have something else going on, they immediately get put on hold. However, my two galleries have expressed an interest in trying them out and so next month (after the kids are in school and I get my days back;)) I will get to work on them again.
Aunt Bettie Looks Like Margaret Thatcher

However, in the last few months, in between summer activities and shuttling the kids around etc, I have been working on a series of paintings that I am really excited about. Work that is inspired by the landscape but is much more abstract. Again, both of my galleries have expressed an interest in trying them out, and in early September, I will be visiting both to show the work in person.
Still Untitled!, 2009 Oil on Birch Panel, 6x12

Well, this this post has gotten a bit long, and since I have to take one of my daughters shopping at the mall today, I think I will save the rest of the story and images of the new work for next time. And yes, I am purposely not saying that will be tomorrow because clearly I am not able to post on consecutive days anymore. Bleh!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Big, super exciting studio news! We finally installed an air conditioner up here in my attic studio. I tried to delay the inevitable for as long as possible but this week's heat and humidity overwhelmed me.

In the six years we have lived in this house we have never felt the need for AC or even a fan. Our house is old, has thick walls and there are a lot of shade trees surrounding us. The house is also located on a rise, at the opening of a valley, and so it is just a bit cooler (and that includes cooler in the winter too ;)) here, plus we usually have a good breeze through here too. I like having windows open to catch the breezes and also at night the house cools down and retains that coolness for a good part of the day. There are usually a few days each summer though, when it is really, really hot and we are pretty uncomfortable from the heat and humidity. We all walk around grumbling and debating about buying a few fans at least. Usually though, by the time we decide to do that, the intense heat passes and we forget about buying more appliances.

All bets are off with the attic though! Last year when we finished the space we splurged and spent a small fortune on foam insulation which was a very good decision. Instead of the 200 degree temps up here before the renovation, it now only gets to about a hundred and twenty on a hot day. heh. Last summer I only worked in the studio in the mornings while it was fairly cool from the night, but this summer my schedule is a bit less predictable. It is VERY uncomfortable in the studio in the afternoons and especially if I have the lights on over the easel. ICK! So last week, before Doug left to go out west we decided to install a window unit. Good thing because we have had a bit of a heat wave since then!

So even though it is kinda like a nice cool heaven up here now, I am trying to use the ac VERY minimally. My own rules are that I leave the windows open all night and then only run the ac when I am up here working and if I am actually sweating. The space cools off pretty quickly once the ac gets started and I have yet to set it lower than 68. Ooh and it has a remote control! I thought a remote was totally ridiculous at first but now I do admit to sitting at my desk not four feet away from the ac and using the remote to turn it on AND enjoying the sheer laziness of that!!!

And Doug and I were remembering how back when we lived in Philly, it was pretty much a necessity to have air conditioning. Of course we couldn't afford one though and I recall buying a used, smelly crappy old window unit from a guy (who was probably fencing them) for like $20, which promptly broke down in the middle of a very hot July. Glad our situation has changed since then and that we can buy a new one (with a warranty!), yet there is still a little part of me that feels a bit guilty about the indulgence and also about further expanding our carbon footprint.

But I gotta work and it is pretty dang nice to have a relatively cool space to do that in.....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Oughta Be in Pictures!

Right Against the Trees, 2009, Oil on Birch Panel, 30x40

I have been pretty busy with a variety of things for the last few weeks, mostly involving shuttling kids around, touching up the paint on our house's interior, rearranging and sorting through closets and drawers, and lastly, when I have some free time (ha!), working in the studio. I am hoping to get things, house things especially, squared away before school starts so when I get my days back I can really get some time in my studio. Ever the optimist!

There is a little bit of business going on now though. My work has been included in an interesting project in Boston. Several months ago, at the suggestion of one of my galleries, I sent Lanou Fine Art in Boston my info and while they seemed to like my work ultimately it was decided that there wasn't a spot for me in the gallery at that time. But then a few weeks ago I received an invitation from the gallery owner to participate in a new project related to the gallery. You can read more about it here and visit my page here. It will be interesting to see what happens here, film and tv placement for art is certainly an appealing direction for me right now.

Well, off to go buy school supplies with the kids now, maybe I will be able to get some time in the studio tomorrow......

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Me and Doug!

Horizon Lines (41), 2009, Oil on Birch Panel, 36x48

Well today, August 12, is an interesting day, in that it a. is mine and Doug's wedding anniversary and b. has been exactly one year since my youngest daughter was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes.

Because both events happened on the same day last year, it is easy for me to look back at the whole year and see and hopefully come to some sort of understanding about it all.

Last summer my sales began to really slow down and the first of several galleries closed, leaving me with very few projects on my studio schedule. At first I enjoyed the extra time, I had grand plans to paint other subject matter (I did that, but not to the extent that I had hoped to), totally reorganize my entire house, clean out our barn, begin working on a neglected flower garden on our property and any number of other things that I had always wanted to do but never had time for because I was so busy in my studio. But when Ginger got sick last August, I began to get lost. Gradually I gave up many of the things I draw energy from (painting, knitting, reading, gardening) and spent way too much aimless time on the computer and worrying. I was in such a funk!

And of course this affected my relationship with Doug. We have now been married 16 years (together 21) and every year but two have been amazing and wondrous even. So when we hit the rough patches, we both tend to overreact, from shock, maybe, because mostly we are so happy together and have always been a great team.

Anyway, I am beyond thankful that we are back on track even if we aren't actually together on our anniversary, for the second year in a row. He and Julien are out digging fossils at his quarry in Wyoming (last year he was on the same trip but cut it short when Ginger was in the hospital), they only had a short window of time to be out there this summer and this was the week. But that's ok, I went to the mall today and Doug bought me a new stereo with an iPod dock for my studio. Heh.

And in the last month or so I have been nearly brimming with a new energy for everything. I am excited about some new work I have been doing and have been working in the studio almost everyday, my gardens are shaping up despite the slow start last spring (while I was wringing my hands) and I am busy with all the little projects around the house that I have been ignoring for so long. I think I have read at least five books in the last few weeks and yesterday I pulled out some yarn for a new knitting project.

The only thing that still escapes my day is posting here more often, but I might have to blame Facebook for that. Well and maybe Bush too, because he is a very handy scapegoat, hehe.

I guess this qualifies a bad year for me, but it could have been way, WAY worse and I am very thankful that it wasn't. Ginger is fine, my marriage is fine and I feel like I have a slightly improved version of myself back. I think I have learned a thing or two about a thing or two.

So it's all good......

Monday, August 10, 2009

Opening at Carrie Haddad Gallery

Well, it's been a over a week since this opening for my show, but I will post about it anyway. Doug's brothers and their families were visiting us last weekend and things were pretty hectic before that (cleaning the house, etc) so yet again, I neglected my poor blog......

I left our visitors and drove the two hours down to Hudson to attend the opening. Alone, I might add. Doug stayed with our guests and since my openings seem to be downright painful to the kids, I went solo this time which, to be honest, sucked! But there was a good turnout and I enjoyed talking to several people, including the other artists. The show looked wonderful, one of my larger paintings was in the front window (despite the fact that I walked back to the car to get my camera, I still didn't get a picture of that, sigh...) and most of my work was featured in the front room.

Also notable about the evening was seeing three of my portrait paintings hanging in the back room. I had shown Carrie several of the portraits to get some feedback and she was VERY enthusiastic about them. She took the pieces that were on panel (the others are on paper and would need to be framed, something I haven't figured out how to handle yet) and said she would hang the others if I got them framed. So that was pretty exciting, and at the opening there were people actually looking at them and talking about them! I tried to get a picture of that, but missed my shot!! Anyway, just happy to have those paintings hanging within the four walls of a gallery. Mostly all I have heard from galleries about them is that they won't sell so this seems like progress. Heh.

A few days after, I came across this review of the show. I actually read this blog on a regular basis and am a follower too, so it was pretty cool to get the mention. I guess it's a positive review although I am not exactly sure about the "quasi-formulaic" part.

And on an unrelated note, I wanted to sincerely thank everyone who left comments on the post where I discussed my marriage. I truly appreciate all the good wishes! I meant to respond to each of you, but I was busy scrubbing baseboards, cleaning bathrooms and reorganizing the pantry and laundry room in preparation for our visitors:)

I am lucky to have so many wonderful readers.