Wednesday, December 28, 2011

reference section

This post's title sounds like I'm talking books again, but now I'm about pictures. I've been looking at some of my friends' photos online, things they see either on vacations or just going about their everyday lives, casting an observant eye all around. I admired many of these shots and it made me want to look over my own photos from this year. These four, obviously, fall into the facade-or-object category. Some already seem like paintings in themselves, like the wall above with the faded paint store sign. I don't think I could add anything if I made my own painting of it, but it inspires me with its ghostly letters and whitewashed colors, those little squares, a random sign and streetlamp. I like making little groups of my photos and seeing what ideas come to mind. I title many of them (straightforward titles like most of my ptgs have)and when I type some word into the search box, it's like a mini curated show pops up, even if the theme is only "green", or "wall", or "cookie".

Monday, December 26, 2011

book list 2011

This post was originally entitled 'reddit'. As in, when someone asks if you've read a certain book, and you mumble, I might've reddit but can't remember, I ought to make a list or something. My nephew just showed me a website called 'reddit' where people post, well, anything they want, it seems, and some of it was screamingly funny. I've since decided to retitle the post because what I read has nothing to do with reddit. But this reminded me to look at the list I'd started of the books I've read since January. At year's end I am startled to see there are not so many, around 20. I used to read several books a month when I rode the subway in the city, enough that I'd spot at least one book I'd read on every shelf in the literature (or biography, or food writing) section at the library. Not that they were all gems, but they transported me far from the rattling cars and jostling crowds. I wish I'd kept a list of some of those books, anyway. A few float back to me from time to time, triggered by a memory or mention. I read parts of the New Yorker, the Times and whatever of interest I stumble across online, which are difficult to catalog but do augment the overall amount of my reading material, plus the rereads. I used to compulsively reread books when I was a kid, flipping to the front as soon as my eyes had reluctantly flicked over the final page. Maybe lots of young readers do that. It was always so satisfying.
A few of this year's books (some of which I've already enthusiastically written about):
Freedom, Jonathan Franzen (thick sprawling story-of-a-family/ environmental commentary novel)
Blue Nude, Elizabeth Rosner (slim artsy sometimes brooding, character's-psyche-probing novel)
Just Kids, Patti Smith (great story of her early life & friendship w/Mapplethorpe, young, broke, free in the city)
Blood, Bones and Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton (well-written, spirited memoir of food, cooking, starting a restaurant)
O'Keeffe: The Life of an American Legend, Jeffrey Hogrefe (detailed, slightly weird bio to prime myself for NM)
The Life and Art of Georgia O'Keeffe, Jan Castro (better bio that I got in a store in T or C, includes letters & pictures)
The Dirty Life, Kristin Kimball (absorbing & humorous first-year-of-farming memoir)
The Ongoing Moment, Geoff Dyer (intelligent, thoughtful, creative narrative of photography through history)
The Accidental Masterpiece: The Art of Life and Vice Versa, Michael Kimmelmann (brilliant.. history, passion, aesthetics, philosophy, ways to look at and think about art)
The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton (thoughtful essays of travel experiences, its essence & philosophy, invoking other writers & artists)
Edible Stories, Mark Kurlansky (short surreal interconnected food-related stories)
Sons and Lovers, D.H. Lawrence (no description needed of this long, classic novel)
Everything Beautiful Began After, Simon van Booy (lovely, sometimes sad novel of 3 intertwined lives, also psyche-probing)
Painting Below Zero, James Rosenquist (a full, vigorous life in art)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera (no description needed for this one either)

Plus, there's this new incentive I've just added, that if I'm going to report selected books at year's end, it might make me more conscious of my choices, raising the bar. Ah, there will always be more to read than I can even dream of.. the list of books I've wanted to read but didn't get to is several times longer.

Friday, December 23, 2011

painted things

A hand-painted ceramic plate I gave as a gift, based on one of my paintings (anything served on this plate is sure to hit the spot!)...
Three hand-painted ceramic mugs (two sold)...

...and two watercolors that were recent commissions for holiday gifts.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

winter's eve

I'll think I have something to write, a handful of thoughts from car-time, stacking wood or what have you, then I realize it isn't much. Not that this will prevent me from blogging about odds and ends. That's usually what it is anyway, the bits that comprise the whole. Then I hear more interesting news about other people's doings, and all at once I'm not sure what matters.
A few paintings. A Hanukkah candle's glow against a dark windowpane. The travel mug that keeps my drink hot for hours. A lamp made with a blue glass insulator from a telephone pole, gifted to me by my friend who owns an antique store. Knitting. The fun of getting my gifts ready for everyone. A couple of museum visits. Cookie baking. Twelve drawings of desserts for a downloadable coloring book. (When this becomes available, I will post a link for crayon-wielders.) Red shoelaces. (Speaking of minutiae, just read some of the shoelace reviews on Amazon, and regain perspective.) Helping decorate my friend's 'pagan pine'/'christmas tree'. Trying to keep an eye on what's happening out there, while also trying not to get overly caught up. Finally finding where I stashed my winter hats last March when I packed my stuff away and winter seemed distant. But it came again (or rather it will tomorrow), and I've laid my hands on all items wool, cashmere, fleece and the like. Ready for another candle and to celebrate the light returning, imperceptibly but surely, to our corner of the world.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

on track

This painting of a train (6"x6") is from a couple of years ago, and I am posting it because I am trying to get myself back on track in terms of applying/submitting to things. I just completed my application for a NYFA fellowship, which is the first major thing I've gone for lately, and the process reminds me that it's always a good experience to go through the application even if I fear my chances are slim. I have confidence in my work, I just know that there are a lot of good artists out there. Regardless, it teaches me how to winnow both my writing and my images to present a cohesive application. And now I can take that energy I generated and try for other things.

Monday, December 12, 2011

stacked wood chair

Usually my stacks are of the fairly straightforward variety; I have a lot to complete in a day and most customers favor the basic 4x8 row stack. Schlepping the wood to wherever they specify is enough work as it is. So I don't have much opportunity to be creative on the job, though I do take some pride in my sturdy, well-constructed, even aesthetically pleasing structures. Years of experience have schooled me in the methods of fitting together those split and seasoned pieces of hardwood. When the opportunity arose to fashion a chair of sorts out of a friend's recently delivered woodpile, I rose to the task. Temporarily comfortable, minimally upholstered with a layer of bark (a Bark-a-Lounger? my friend offered, out-punning me), the thronelike seat provides a rustic resting spot, at least til he needs to burn it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

every trip a treat

Five mini collage paintings (2"x3") in the series of small works using old 40's & 50's road maps. I cannot figure out how to make the photo bigger, but if clicked on, I believe it will be easier to see. I recently found a few more maps in a used bookstore, so I may continue these for awhile, especially in the between-times when I am not getting work done on larger paintings. Putting these elements together often generates new ideas for composition, plus I find them kind of amusing, these tiny scenes comprising a sort of American-road-trip narrative. The sunset one I'd painted in NM and, when I placed the little car in the sky, illustrated that 'driving into the sunset' sense of adventure. Endless possibilities along the way, as long as your car is well-equipped, and if you need any tune-ups, friendly service stations abound. I even like reading these largely pre-interstate maps, their helpful tips and courteous tone, their (sometimes unintentionally humorous) rules of the road in different cities. I'm not idealizing, it's just a project, though I know it's my own imagined nostalgia that these images appeal to.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

sky fireplace

I've been seeing a lot of sunsets lately that remind me of fires burning in fireplaces. I'm outside quite regularly at dusk these days because the sun is setting earlier, while I am still out working. This one I glimpsed through the tangle of bare branches in between tossing pieces of wood up over a railing onto a deck several feet above my head.
As is evident with the lack of actual artwork on my blog lately, I have not managed to get any painting done in a while. I am working on some more mini collage-paintings, also map-inspired, but I have other materials I plan to sift through. I am hoping to paint again soon, but have not spent much time in the studio, been stacking nearly every day, aside from being upstate with my family and generally stumbling along. Little bits of ceiling are still falling onto my worktable in my studio like early winter flurries, a fine dusting.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

woodyard walk, gray day

Just a muddy walk in the woodyard yesterday with the dog (who kept dashing out of every photo, carrying improbably big pieces of kindling in her mouth), checking out the inventory (not really), getting caught in a drizzle and feeling how November-colored everything was. The browns and grays of leaves and mud with bits of color supplied by berries on branches, a random blue-painted pallet in the towering stack, a row of old oil drums, rust upon rust. Ashes to dust. You can see the boxes of freshly cut wood contrasting with the seasoned boxes slated for delivery in the next few months. Business as usual, but everything's different. I had one stacking job today as dusk fell, looking west across the river as I trundled across the grass, in the distance the orange stripe of setting sun beneath a heavy dark layer of gray.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

dad and me

Here is a picture of me and my dad from summer 2010. That's about all I can post for now. Soon I will feel like writing again. I want and need to, and he would encourage me to, but I can't seem to get my words together yet.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I have to say I wish there would be another decent gallery in Beacon again like there used to be. Instead there seem to be all these shops and cafes which are nice for sure, but the original reason they were able to get a foothold in Beacon is because of the revitalized arts scene which was first established with the Dia museum and then the galleries followed (and the antiques were really even before the art, and they have mostly left too), and then the quality galleries close because it is a difficult thing to sustain, paying rent on a space that doesn't reliably make money, or cause the owner(s) got disillusioned or were artists themselves and weren't able to do both or just decided to move on. I have had several conversations recently with different people on this subject, throwing ideas around re curating exhibitions in alternative spaces or even possibly renting a storefront space myself and using it as a gallery/studio, with the kind of art that people come here to see and are even able to buy, art for the people if you will. There is a wide spectrum of art and galleries, who they appeal to and how they are run, we have had some strong spaces here in the past, but in addition to those few which remain, there are some rather lackluster "galleries", either vanity galleries, or ones that hang a veritable hodgepodge, or show work that may be important to show but is inaccessible to the kind of people who come here to see fresh and interesting work in a town supposedly reinvigorated by art. It has been, in many ways, but I'd like to see it keep happening and I know a lot of people here now. Many make good art, some know how to curate a good show, and some have business sense and good ideas... and I am thinking of ways to bring this together. The problem is always that these people (including myself of course) don't have money to invest in such an uncertain venture. How does a gallery make money? Well there are ways. (Selling prints, small works, other objects.) This is why I've done the pop-up shops every year, the first one was more of (in my mind) an installation to brighten up a dreary storefront in a gray month where I could make things, feature the work of a few local artists, and bring people in. Having a fulltime gallery is a different matter, there are still affordable spaces, it's that I would have to settle back here and I am not sure what my plans are for the coming year. I like the idea in many ways but am reluctant to defer my hope to travel more, the way I deferred for so many years already. Also by 'fresh and interesting' I don't mean 'hip and edgy' or anything, just work by creative people who make stuff because they HAVE to create, who ARE artists and makers, not only those who say, you know what we need here, a place where you can get really good beer." Yeah I used to sit around with people and say, I wish there were somewhere cool for us to gather and talk at night, but now it's like everyone has the idea that they want to open a food/drink place. Now, I once considered opening a bakery because I like to bake and share with others, but my passion for it is not such that it would fuel the utter devotion it'd take to run, plus I would eat too much. Possibly a bakeshop/artspace amalgam, I do like this idea. I have been thinking about this stuff for a long time anyway but I realize, regarding the importance of art/thinking/absorbing/teaching/seeking versus food/drink/passively taking in experiences (although I think the other is also about taking in experiences, but it's the way you go about it. I really like sitting around with people and laughing and talking, but I get impatient sometimes) that the lasting vitality comes from the WORK. The most successful spaces in my nearly 5 years of living here demonstrate that. I'm wondering if there's a way to do it without getting disillusioned or bitter or bankrupt, I just have to get by, and I don't have any grand expectations or plans, I'm not even trying to change anyone's minds if they're not ready to be changed, but just to put something out there that I believe in, and can get some good help to make it happen. So to that end I have begun considering how.

Monday, November 14, 2011

thirteen verbs

(which aren't that super at all, but this word is one of my motifs and this new version is oil, 16"x20" white on white, and hopefully I'll be feeling it soon)

...that have occupied my time besides sleeping and hesitantly eating
1. stacking some wood, sometimes with a helper to pick up some of Stack's slack
2. knitting, only scarves so far, but I choose special yarn to make them all interesting
3. listening to the Big Broadcast on FUV, one of my favorite programs when I'm by a radio on a Sunday night
4. applying optimistically for a NYFA 2012 painting fellowship
5. reading in the bath and missing the mineral springs
6. buying an unlikely red dress for a nonexistent occasion
7. organizing my list of every painting I've done since 2001 & reflecting on each year of production/ progress (or lack thereof)
8. cutting back and dead-heading some plants
9. contributing two paintings to a current show at Mill St Loft's riverside gallery in Beacon
10. walking the road I grew up on and loving it as much as I ever did, during a quiet autumn afternoon
11. thinking about what a really crazy world we live in
12. wondering if anyone reads my blog now that I am living a prosaic life and not at a residency, checking my stats and wishing I hadn't
13. reasoning that it's about the practice of writing posts, not whether they are looked at, and recalling that I forget to look at blogs myself

Thursday, November 10, 2011

between naps

Still lying low and sleeping a lot, so I'm not up for much but realized that I did not yet post a photo (on this blog anyway) of this recently completed painting I'd started in June. It's 30"x30" oil on canvas, the window of the Casa Grande trading post and turquoise mining museum in Cerrillos. A lot of bottles.
The only other interesting thing I've made lately was a birthday cake for my dad, which came out homely but delicious, with a thin layer of orange marmalade between the dark-chocolate torte and its chocolate glaze. I did eat a slender slice of this, but otherwise have been cautious and birdlike in my eating, and lately reflecting upon my relationship to food. A stomach bug will do that, I've found. I am trying to see a positive side to this altogether unpleasant experience, possibly learning something about myself which will help in the future. That, and reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


floating leaves, oil, 12"x16"

this is the squash painting on masonite I finished last week, 8"x10"

Here are a couple seasonal paintings and here's hoping I am fully up and running again soon. No need to report further on this bellyache that's been keeping me under the weather. I've never had a stomach bug for this long, and my productivity has plummeted, both in terms of painting and wood-stacking. Not that anyone asked me, but this is really the worst time to get sick, when there is the most work for me to do. Well, maybe the worst time would have been in May or June when I was away happily art-making in new places and feeling vibrantly healthy. I usually AM vibrantly healthy, so I feel I have been undermined by whatever monster has taken up residence in my midsection.. but better days will be comin', I'm sure. Anxiety will do no good at all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

kanevsky admiration

This post falls under the category of painters who inspire and excite me.

I had not seen Alex Kanevsky's grass painting before I did mine in June, but I was just looking over his website today and saw it and it's like what I wanted to achieve, but didn't quite. It's amazing. I've liked his work for years, since a friend first showed it to me. This same friend just alerted me to a new Kanevsky show opening this week, and I'm looking forward to seeing that paint close up. I am trying to figure out how to loosen and open up my brushstrokes and paint application so I can get at that gesture, to me it's impressionistic in the truest sense of the word. Seemingly spontaneous, yet thoughtful, and also expressive. I was after the same idea with the apple branch. I started out loose and free but then closed in on it somehow when I didn't even plan to. Using an easel instead of hunching over on the floor did help me feel more expansive (or leaning my own grass painting up against the barn wall, with real grass brushing the edges of the canvas) and when I did let myself have at it, I thought I was really getting some of what I wanted.
I tried it again today with a small painting on masonite of some pumpkins and squash. It was too solid and dull, they were well-painted but it was like having your shoelaces tied too tight when you really want to go barefoot. I should have taken photos of the painting as I went along because I kept messing with it in ways that surprised me, covering up things I had spent a lot of time on, like some subtle shading. I will post a photo when it's finished. What I love about Kanevsky's work is the seemingly effortless way his brushstrokes converge on the canvas, out of which an image emerges. Within the stillness there is motion and life. Sometimes bordering on the edges of abstraction, the way your eyes would paint if they could hold a brush.
From a couple of online interviews with him, I excerpt the following.
"Painting is not something I do to a canvas. It is a form of conversation, and just like a conversation it can turn out exciting, boring, ugly, beautiful, enlightening. Like a conversation, it can have unexpected turns, sudden discoveries and hidden subtext and periods of silence. All this is what makes painting endlessly fascinating."
This is something I am starting to turn my thoughts to much more, lately. I know I can paint what I see before me, or what I see in a photo I took. I can generally envision how it will turn out. This approach still serves me, but I think I am also looking for a more honest and uncertain way to get at what I see. If it frustrates or eludes me, that means I'm scratching at something I haven't done before.
In answer to the question of what he would say to an artist just starting out:

Build up your self esteem to the level that might seem unwarranted. This will help you ignore both positive and negative responses to your paintings. Both are usually misguided, since they come from the outside. Be your most severe and devastating critic, while never doubting that you are the best thing since sliced bread.
The moment something works well and is under control - is the time to give it up and try something else.
Put all your eggs in one basket. Precarious situations produce intense results.
Forget subjective, it is mostly trivial. Go for the universal.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

snow joke

This was a first for me (and maybe for the whole region), a late-October snowstorm when the leaves are still bright on the trees. Heavy and wet flakes, limbs bent to the ground. It was such a strange sight, beautiful, but I felt as though I'd lost track of time and slept for two months. Peering outside last night at the furiously whirling snow, shoveling and shivering. Followed by a sunny morning, the snow already melting, and the air smelling like fall again. People photographing their snow-topped pumpkins yet uncarved. The contrast of orange leaves and white-coated trees and wires, the mountain fading gold to white in a kind of reversed frost line, was an extraordinary thing to see. Losing power and heat, as well as all the trees that came down, not so attractive. A bit early in the season for all that. I'm going to optimistically posit that after this winter preview, we will resume our normally scheduled fall programming. Upcoming episodes include "Leaves falling" and "Thanksgiving dinner".

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

texaco garage crew

Here's a new t-shirt design featuring a watercolor I did in 2008. It was based on an old photograph that a Beacon local had dug up for me after seeing another of my paintings, one that had been inspired by an old photo of a Main St gas station I'd found at the Beacon Historical Society. The faded black-and-white he presented me with portrayed this group of workmen posed in front of a Texaco truck. There used to be a Texaco research center in nearby Glenham.. and that's all I know about the image. It is one of my rare paintings with people in it. Naturally I liked the truck but I was also drawn to the men's expressions, their stances and their clothes.
I exhibited and sold the painting in a show that spring. I had a good-quality scan, and made one or two prints, but it seemed to have a rather specific appeal. Recently I was enthusiastically advised that it could be a strong image for my second t-shirt, the first being my Beacon dummy light shirt from a couple years ago. That icon had its own local and historical appeal and turned out to be a successful venture. I am not very politically-minded in my work, but I agreed that this image of blue-collar men and who/what they may represent- even though I don't know their story- is a subtle and affecting visual statement... at any rate, that is the idea. So I will start with an initial run, and see. The sample is sepia ink on an American-made ecru t-shirt.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

apples to apples

When I helped plant tomatoes at Better Farm back in June I did not think I would be back for the last of the harvest in October, but yesterday afternoon found me climbing around in the raised beds behind the house, gathering the dozens of bright little cherry tomatoes still clinging to the vines. I went up for a short visit and am glad I did, even with all the driving. Time stretches out. Going for a walk along the long curving quiet roads with the yellow and red leaves fluttering down. Knitting, watching the dogs play.
I wondered if one could make a satisfactory dish from the crabapples in the yard, so I pulled down a bunch and baked them into a tasty crisp with a generous amount of sugar. The same apples that I'd drawn in the summer. Here is the 36"x36" oil painting I made using that drawing and memory as reference. It was on the wall at my open studio along with a Post-It that said "work in progress.. maybe", as I wasn't sure if I was finished, I'm still not sure, but for now I am.
The other photo is from a pie party I attended last week. A plenitude of pies covered the table and this was taken right before digging in, while we were still gazing appreciatively upon them. Mine, a homely caramelized apple-pear with an almond crust, is in the middle.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

touchy wheely

As I noted in a recent facebook post, and am now expanding upon here, it is so difficult to find a decent wheelbarrow repair shop these days. Or, for that matter, any such service at all. That's what I get for owning an esoteric, practically vintage model, which I am rather attached to for its many fine features. Namely, that it comes apart and fits into the trunk of my car. If this wheelbarrow needed a spokesperson to speak glowingly of its attributes, I'd be on it. But apparently I'm the only one who needed such a product, for it was discontinued several years ago. What, nobody else needs a wheelbarrow that comes apart but is still big and strong enough to transport heavy loads of wood over uneven terrain?
As they say, behind every great wood stacker there is a great wheelbarrow. Over the years I have tried several kinds: hand trucks, carts, regular barrows for when I could throw one in the bed of the truck. But I'm not driving the truck these days, it's got some quirks and is not as fuel-efficient for all the miles I'm covering. Hence my consternation (a nice word for swearing loudly) when a key element broke today after being pushed to its limits for weeks by my constant use. If only I'd tried to reinforce with duct tape? My dad pointed out there might be a spare broken one we'd kept for parts somewhere in the woodyard, a donor barrow. He kept Camrys around for the same purpose; as one after another sputtered to its end and was replaced, it'd be pressed into service for its parts as its body crumbled to rust.
I usually much prefer to repair things rather than replace them, I think people discard stuff too easily these days, and many modern things aren't even meant to be repaired, so they must be thrown away to make room for the next. My friend Sarah's blog and project, Zero to Go, is part of her passionate efforts to educate and encourage people to reduce-reuse-recycle. It reminds me that I could be doing more in this department, but I do what I do and try to be mindful.
My fondness for old trucks doesn't obscure the fact that I know they're hard to maintain and service, and yet I'd still love to own one someday. Old appliances can be ornery but they keep on running. Shown here is a painting (6"x6") of a great fan, from a local antique store, that has blasted me with cool air for many summers. And most of my clothes I've had for years. I pull on a new pair of jeans with the utmost reluctance. Not that I don't like new objects and clothes, sometimes. A new paintbrush, tube of paint, pretty dress, yes. If I could find a new Stow-&-Go (formal name of the one-wheeled wonder) I'd snap it up, but no luck. I've got to get on this pronto, for this time of year, the piles of wood await.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Went on an outing this afternoon up the Taconic to Millbrook and the beautiful Innisfree, a 150-acre public garden reinterpreting Chinese landscape design. It was an overcast day with the drizzle holding off and the leaves brilliant against the gray sky. The garden meanders around a 40-acre lake, taking you on a walk along mossy waterfalls, stone terraces, lichen-covered rocks, and native plants. The colors were reflected in the water and it was all very quiet. Yesterday was similar weather and it felt good to work, but today I was happy to have a day to wander outside in the damp grass among the bright trees. In the village at the paint store I found some milk paint powders I'd been wanting to try. You mix them with water and they dry to a hard matte finish, and are these earthy vintage-type colors, the kind used on antique furniture, that I love. I bought three colors and I am looking forward to playing with them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

make every trip more enjoyable

We certainly might as well try. Today's little group of images: two painting/collages, Enjoyable Trip (3"x3") and Standard Fill-up (4"x4"), a photo of me on the job, which has been occupying most of my time lately, and of my booth at the art fair on the weekend.

I had a good day there. The weather was quite fine, they'd given me a plum spot, and I talked to a lot of people. Six hours of people. It was both tiring and stimulating, as that kind of thing always is, and that's why I do it. So I can find an ease with that level of near-constant interaction and not let it overwhelm me, but to get out of it what I need. Interesting & potentially fruitful connections, sales (of course), ideas and observations. In the different kinds of places where I've set up a table, I learn all sorts of things about people and how to talk to them. Or listen. Or get them to go away, sometimes, if they're being tiresome. Who do you want to drive away, and who do you want to entice back? I sold two framed watercolors, a bunch of prints, and some painted bottle-caps. One of the buyers has a house in Taos she'd rent cheaply to artists "with good energy." I beamed at her, "I have great energy! And you can see how inspired I was by my surroundings!" I'm sure I've got an "in" now. She was drawn in by a painting of a gas pump, it reminded her of something she'd seen out there. Many folks immediately recognized the New Mexico paintings just for their light and color, before I had mentioned the source of their inspiration, which was satisfying and made me feel I had captured something I'd hoped to. Then there are the men who pause dreamily and tell me about their cars or trucks.
Displaying my work at a table at a fair or in a park, in contrast with exhibiting it in a gallery, requires a real flexibility of mindset for me in observing and hearing how it is perceived by others. I sometimes find it difficult to shift my gears. There are positives and negatives to both means of 'getting the work out there' (as there are to the variety of other means I've explored). The way you market your work can definitely impact the way you think about making it.

Another note on energy. When I stack wood at a repeat customer's house I always remember when I was there last year and where my head was at. This happened the other day, a very specific memory came to mind, and I realized what I had managed to accomplish in the past year (personally, emotionally, artistically) and I felt happy with myself. I felt that I had climbed up out of something and found a clearer view. Fall is when a lot of people become more wistful and pensive, but since memory is elemental to my being, it feels like more of the same for me. Though maybe I'm getting a bit better at staying on top of it instead of losing myself to its grasp. I am interested too in seeing how this can affect my attraction to the things I paint and how I see them.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


October and it's nearly midnight and I haven't posted in a week, but now I need to go to sleep. This evening after attending a very nice awards event in Beacon to benefit our arts association, I went back to my studio to get things in order for the art fair I'm doing on Saturday in New Paltz. Nearly every day in the past two weeks I've been stacking wood, which doesn't, contrary to popular opinion, make for the most scintillating blog posts. I stack vast amounts and then I go to bed and sleep like a letter in an envelope, hardly moving for eight hours, waiting for the energy to return to my body. On Fri I treated myself to a wonderful, restorative professional massage, and now I want all my friends and family to get one and to have a weekly one myself, if only I could.
Saturday evening is also the closing party (5-8 pm, 137 Main St) and group show at Concrete Gallery in Cold Spring, where I exhibited in July. I will have several paintings up alongside work of the other artists who showed there this summer. One, I think, will be The Spot (posted recently), another will be a painting I did earlier this year and reworked, as I have begun to think about color in new ways. Color as a way of describing light without showing the direct effect of light. May revisit this when I am more awake. I remember a blog post from early summer at the farm which I titled "awake", when I was getting 5 hrs of sleep and feeling energized. Now we have moved into fall, the days are growing shorter, the light is changing and I seem to need more sleep. Speaking of which. zzz

Thursday, September 29, 2011

arms outstretched

I spent two days doing the Open Studios and the past three days stacking piles of wood. Then I slept ten hours to recover and am back in my studio catching up on things. The weekend was, as I described it to friends, a mixed bag, but that is to be expected. I've had some time to process all the various interactions I had with people, both positive and, well, not so positive. Not that I'm trying to keep my posts steadily upbeat, since the life of a working artist is all over the map, but I don't need to elaborate too much on the things that got under my skin. Something's always going to get under your skin when you literally open the door to your work and your space. I've only had the room for a couple of months, and it may only be a few more months, but for now it's mine, small as it is. As de Kooning said, "If I stretch my arms and wonder where my fingers are – that is all the space I need as a painter." While eventually I'll want more space than that (and he certainly procured much beyond that), it suits me well while I'm saving for the next thing, whether that be a future residency, travel, or paying off my student loan. Ideally I'll manage all three.
Ultimately, I had some good conversations, I got to visit other studios in town, always a challenge during the weekend but for me a way to feel connected to my community of artists. And I made some sales, actually, the best of the three years I've participated in this event. There weren't as many visitors to the building, but it's not about quantity. I saw some friends, I made a couple new ones, and the effects usually reverberate for some time after. It depletes my energy but it also replenishes.
The other day I ran into an illustrator/curator/educator friend, who has advised me and encouraged my work for nine years (a considerable chunk of my development), and who had a couple of opportunities up his sleeve for me. He will be curating a new gallery in Westchester and is offering me a slot for a solo show next spring or so. He also may engage me to teach at an arts center down the line. I've never formally taught (just a few workshops), but I think I'd be all right.
Today's images: I didn't post it in June, but this is the 6"x6"self-portrait oil of me and the birdhouse that I painted at the farm, and sold this weekend. The frog, well, you never know who will show up to check out your paintings. Frogs like art too. (Actually this photo, which I'm rather fond of, is also from the barn.)