Monday, January 18, 2010


Ok, here we go. The first body of work I began when I arrived here in Vermont two weeks ago has been really exciting to me. I decided to step back from full on abstraction and I have been making these paintings that have very definite landscape elements, mostly the horizon line and in color choices. I have been playing with a border, which at first felt like a window to me, but it also has a very frame like quality as well. I like the ambiguity of that. I am also doing a lot of scratching into the top surface of the paint, which is barely visible until one is quite close to the piece. The marks are somewhat random, although many of them evoke things like roads, houses, windows and power lines. As of today, I have 10 finished paintings, they are all on 22x30 gessoed paper and I think most of them are pretty successful. Two or three of them are a bit iffy, however if one of the visiting artists were to come in and rave about any of them, I could change my mind. Heh. Me fickle. I only have five more pieces of paper left and plan to do three more of the landscapes and two more Black Paintings. Here are some images of the color landscapes (hmmm, need a name for that series too, I guess). I apologize for the rather bad photos, I haven't yet set these up to take better images and anyway, I didn't bring my good camera, so the 'official' photos may have to wait until I get home. Anyway, here are some images of these paintings, along with a few close up shots:

The landscapes have flowed out of me and so far I usually have a good idea of what and where to go with the next few pieces as I am finishing up the current group (I have been working with these mostly in groups of four). Making those paintings has been a peaceful process; with enough new elements to be challenging yet they are still relaxing to me. Not so with the other things I am working on which all seem to be trying to kill me, or at least maim me. The Black Paintings are in the latter group. Again, I backed up from full abstraction and decided to include barn like shapes in these. I am very happy with what I have done so far, but I have no clue as to what I will do in the next one. I keep hoping that I will wake up in the morning, knowing what I should do but that hasn't happened yet. So I start each one blind, and the images forms while my hands are actually in the paint. I know this is good but it is also a bit unsettling to me. It's not like I am rigid about planning out what is next, but I do like to have some sort of plan that I can either follow or veer away from. However, overall, I think these are successful and I have gotten quite a lot of positive feedback AND one of the visiting artists called them 'powerful'. I have five finished Black Paintings, and three more that need just a bit more work. Those three are nearly entirely black or they have very little contrast, and I am also focusing on scratching into the black, which is a much stronger element in these paintings than in the others. And here are a few images which are are even worse than the others. Pretty much just black!

And the 'People You Know' series is definitely trying to kill me. I haven't done any for about six months and am finding it difficult to just dive back into them. I brought the last few that I did so that I could refer to them, but so far the pieces I have done here are too low key somehow. I can only do one or two underpaintings at most in a day, they are much more intense and I am just wiped out afterward. The color is a bit less energy sucking, but is also the point where everything can go horribly wrong so that stage of the painting is also a minefield for me to navigate. Currently I have five underpaintings, one is finished, one has color on it but is pretty blah. The drawing in the underpainting was lacking and since that really drives the painting, it can be hard to recover....

BUT. The last visiting artist was veryveryveryveryvery encouraging about the 'People You Know' series and told me that I should definitely be showing them. So even though they suck the life blood out of me, I am feeling a renewed energy about them and I plan to focus on them for the next two weeks.

And my last little project here, which is a good one to work on while other things are drying, is all about process. I brought like a million 4x4 inch gessobord squares, well ok, actually a hundred and twenty, but whatever. It felt like there were a million when I did the underpaintings on them! I am feeling like I need to work on my scratching technique since it is becoming a much more integral part of my paintings, so the plan is to make a variety of these small surfaces and do a lot of experimenting with scratching and drawing on them. I will be working on them in between the portraits over the next few weeks.

Even though I was pretty close to burned out on everything when I arrived here (December was SO hectic!) I have managed to get back my painting mojo and have been in the studio every single day. I am really feeling re-energized about my work and where it is headed which is really nice after being in flux for the last year or so. And now the real crush is on, I realized last night that I must do all the underpaintings by Wednesday so that I will have enough time to get paintings finished by the time I have to start packing up (sob).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sunny Delight

Today was the first sunny day here in Vermont since I arrived last Sunday. Of course it was about 7 degrees, but whatever. There was bright shiny sunshine!!!!

And as an added bonus, the late morning sun does some very interesting things in my studio.....

Friday, January 8, 2010

Color, Finally!

Another look at all the black paintings I did the other day:

After looking at them today, I think I will go back into a few of them and reduce the contrast a bit. I think these should be softer, with more greys instead of whites. Still struggling with what the next step should be. I can't seem to sketch or even really picture what I have in my mind. Maybe I will wake up knowing what to do tomorrow morning.

Toady was a really good day in the studio. Still working on prepping paper and just start gessoing some 4 inch square panels for another project that I will discuss once I get it going. But mostly I worked on the first four landscape/abstract paintings that I did on Monday. I added the color and am quite pleased with the results:

And here are some individual shots:

I apologize for the photo quality. There are fluorescent lights in the studio which does very bad things to my color and also I did not bring my really good camera. I should be able to take the tape off on Sunday or Monday and will hopefully be able to get some better shots during the day.

The other underpaintings I did are almost ready for color too and so this weekend will be very colorful in my studio, I think. Might help to balance out all the white going on outside: I do believe it has snowed every single day since I got here on Sunday......

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pictures, Finally

I am in a different house this time and I like my room much better, even if it is a bit Caribbean-meets-70's-style-princess-bed:

This is the view from my window (there has been a bit of snow here):

I liked my studio in the Wolf Kahn building, so I requested to be in the same building again and I am in the studio right next door to where I was last time. And this is how it looked on Monday as I was getting settled in:

The bridge is being rebuilt so it's a bit of a mess out there right now, but this is the view from my studio windows:

And I also have a good view of the Red Mill which is where the gallery, resident's lounge and dining hall is:

So on Monday I did these four underpaintings:

All are on 22x30 watercolor paper that has been gessoed and taped onto a board. They are part of the abstract series, but I have backed up a bit and am keeping a few landscape elements, most notably the horizon line. Don't ask me why I am going back a bit, I have no good reason other than I just feel like I should. I am also adding a border to some of them which is an indication of a window, of looking outside. I am quite excited about this direction! And tomorrow I will be doing the color on them.

Yesterday I did the underpaintings for two portraits for the 'People You Know' series. I am hoping to do at least ten more while I am here, but they are pretty intense and I can only do a few of the underpaintings at a time.

These are 14x18 and are on birch panel.

Today I did five black paintings and again (also on the gessoed paper), backed up a little bit and decided to include the barn like structures. I intended for them to be more abstract than they turned out to be, but luckily I have a lot of paper and can try again. I actually like these though and think they are a good starting point to somehow express the images that I have in my head.

This is my drawing table, which unlike the one I have at home, I am actually using. I have been making sketches of the images of what I would like to paint, which is also not something that I normally do. Not sure if making sketches is affecting the paintings here one way or the other, but I certainly am enjoying the process of making the sketches. I do not draw with a pencil near enough anymore.

And this is my studio tonight:

I am quite settled in and am heartily wishing for vertical walls to miraculously be in installed in my attic studio while I am gone. Heh.

More soon!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Off I Go!

Well, I do believe the phrase 'insanely busy' could apply to my life for the last few weeks. Not sure what I was thinking when I scheduled a month's residency AND a solo show for the same month, not to mention the one right after the holidays.

But it's all done now, the show at The Harrison Gallery is up, the opening is tonight and I am all packed and ready to go to Vermont. The holidays were great, I managed to get all the important stuff done (baking cookies!) and the kids had fun. I even spent all of Christmas Day reading and sleeping on the sofa! VERY decadent.....

I did slack off on a bunch of things that I meant to do, like cleaning my desk, catching up on the laundry and paying attention to my poor neglected blog here. I had a bunch of posts that I had planned to write but never got to them. I also had planned to gesso all the paper and small panels (for a little project I have planned) that I am going to work on in Vermont, but time ran out and so I will be prepping everything there. A few other things have fallen off my list too and unfortunately Doug has had to do everything in the last week, not fair at all as he will really be doing EVERYTHING for the next month. But he is being a good sport about it and I am lucky that he is completely supportive of my work. I will have to make things up to him when I get back February. Heh.

And right now my plan is to write here every few days or so about my activities at the Vermont Studio Center. I wrote quite a bit about things there when I did the last residency so will try not to duplicate myself too much. Maybe more pictures this time; I will have a laptop that works and it will be much easier to load photos. I am sure I will also be updating my Facebook public page too.

I make no promises though! I might just fall off the internet entirely for a month while I hunker down and paintpaintpaint. Well, probably not but whatever. Sounded good, right?

And PS. For some reason blogger will not load a photo for me today, it won't even give me the loading page. You'll just have to make do with looking at my show preview (link above).