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.