Tuesday, January 31, 2012

suitcase heart

Getting ready for my Feb at Vermont Studio Center (yay!) was a little easier than preparing for last spring's residencies; I have a better sense of my adaptability, plus I'm not simultaneously moving out of my apartment. Since I've been living with a lot of my stuff in storage, the essentials are ready to go, with minimum deliberation. Sweaters, canvases, pencil case. (The words 'pencil case' always do make you think of the first day of school, don't they?) My most frequently used art supplies were within quick grabbing range to be packed haphazardly in typical last-minute fashion. I discovered I need to get some new, uncrusty brushes (funny how that keeps happening) and a few fresh paint tubes. Unbleached titanium lost its cap and dried out. The last-minute drama, self-inflicted, was only because I had to get upstate for a few days first to take care of the dog and horses for my mother, before continuing my northbound journey. I don't have to be in Vermont until Feb 5. I felt that I had more to wrap up this time before leaving Beacon, but then I usually have a sense of things unfinished. Maybe because nothing ever is, from feelings to projects and plans.
I've been looking forward to this residency for a long time. It was a year ago that I started thinking about it and deciding to apply, knowing that I'd have saved the money and that it would be an extraordinary treat. Though while it feels like a glorious privilege that I somehow convinced them to accept me, it also seems essential for my work, as the other two did. Not just having a separate studio in which to paint, which I do have now, but a new place to experience and new people to meet. I am also content with familiarity, find it comforting and stabilizing. I am increasingly able to focus, if reasonably equipped. Then wrenchingly life-changing things happen and I have to gather myself together again, with love, with time, with art.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

comp and circumstance

Driving back from stacking tonight, I got a bit lost, unable to find my route back to the parkway. I was frustrated, but there turned out to be compensations. Inexplicably there are quite a few good old signs along Route 100 near, I think, Tuckahoe, which I'd remembered registering but never got a chance to stop. I found myself back on this road and decided it was a perfect time to finally get to photograph them. So I pulled over and tried to get as far back as I could without standing in the middle of traffic. I think I will definitely use some of the photos as reference for paintings, and I liked transforming my (rare, I assure you!) navigating ineptitude into something that "happened for a reason".

Monday, January 23, 2012

steady drizzle

Of course, 2 days after I mentioned my appreciation of the lack of snow, it snowed 5" here. But the novelty and relative gentleness of accumulation made it okay. It's already melting and I've been for some long walks with the dogs I'm caring for this week. Last week I was tending to a different friend's dog. I like dogs, we always had some while I was growing up. I've never owned one due to my style of life thus far, but it will happen eventually, along with a few other things I haven't done yet, due to that style of life. Trying to move toward some of those kinds of changes. Some happen whether I am ready or not. Some I need to work at.
The 'drizzle', in addition to referring to today's weather, describes the rate at which I've been producing lately. No downpour and nothing too splashy, but the images flow. Here are a couple more painting-collages on paper.
I also made a piece for a Love/Lust show slated for February in Beacon. I'll post it next month. It incorporates a piece of knitting into the painting, new territory for me. I'd like to try doing more, I like the simple concept of looping yarn together using needles, the color and texture that happens. Maybe that's one reason I haven't expanded beyond scarves (except for the free-form vest I am hopefully finishing soon). I feel that the material fashioned is in itself a finished piece and I can try to use it to express ideas. Or else I am a painter-wannabe-textile artist. I've tried things in this vein before, such as stitching canvas together, but it's almost like learning a new language, or taking a dance class wearing winter boots.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

watercolor sketches

Was it only last week that I was in the Caribbean? I have been so cold this week, bundled in layers upon layers, that it seems like a long-ago sweet memory, of warmth and color, waterfalls and tropical drinks. But here are a few watercolors I did there. Some fishies from the deep blue sea. My niece Emily, drinking a (virgin) strawberry daiquiri/pina colada, which with her white hat made for an irresistible picture. And a cluster of green leaves in Key West. I thought I would immediately make more sketches from my photos upon my return, but it feels weird to paint such things now. Well, maybe it'll be a nice escape, helping me to overlook my big boots and numb fingers. I'm glad there has been no snow, only cold temps, for it makes working outside much less of a hassle. Last year, with steady snow cover for over 2 months, every stacking job was a huge drag. Ice, shoveling, piles of snow, frozen wood, ugh, yes I still think it's pretty but not when I have to work or travel in it. I'll probably be doing some snow paintings soon enough.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

on view

My two paintings in the middle, above, Yellow Chevy and The Spot, are currently in a group show at Skylight Gallery, 538 West 29th St in NYC. It opened last Thur and runs through Feb 18.
Gallery hrs: Mon- Fri 10-4 variable, Sat. 12-5 (ring doorbell weekdays)
I'd exhibited them in the Concrete show in Cold Spring this fall, but they needed a city airing.
3 of the new 6"x8" works on paper are in The Big Draw at Mill St Loft's River Center in Beacon through Jan 28. Gallery hrs: Sat/Sun 11-3, Tue & Thur 9:30-2:30, Mon & Wed 9:30-11:30. On the 28th there's a party/drawing rally, in which I'm participating, 7-10 pm. This means drawing in front of people, which is not something I get to do often and therefore consider it a way to exercise those slightly dusty 'spontaneous creation' skills. Also the social skills. As my niece says, always a plus.
I did not get accepted to the two juried shows I recently entered, which makes me not really feel like entering juried shows anymore. According to an insider I did make it to the final rounds in one of them, but the truth is, even with a juror statement you never know what kind of show they're looking to assemble, nor what they see or don't see in your submission. There are good reasons to selectively apply to these shows (like the chance for a new batch of eyes to see my work), which is why I occasionally do, but it also feels like a fairly random effort. Acceptance is good, but I'm not even sure what it says about my paintings, anyway (and I believe I'd say that even if I did get into everything). I think I'm also sometimes looking for thoughtful criticism, something to push up against. Guess I'm seeking this across the board. I do sell my work, which helps fund the making of new work, and is a different kind of encouragement. Perhaps I want it all, feeling strong and vulnerable in equal measure.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

paradise, lost (for now)

Back in cold New York again. The week sure did go by quickly. Was I really on a ship two days ago, surrounded by nothing but blue sea and sky as far as I could see, glimpsing silvery flashes of flying fish leaping out of the waves? Docking at tropical islands? Remembering the sensation of snorkeling, first thinking I couldn't possibly breathe through that thing, then just going for it, putting my face in and being spellbound as I drifted through this underwater world of coral and fishies, silent except for my own breathing. Also, the feeling of a stingray's velvety underside against my back, and the way it sucked up a squid snack from my cautious hand.

This was in the aviary at Turtle River Falls, Ochos Rios, Jamaica.
We had a private tour of the rainforest gardens and the waterfalls.
This picture is from when we were snorkeling in Grand Cayman. And swimming with stingrays. During which I didn't take any photos. The water was so clear and blue!
Bird of paradise. Everything was so huge and greenly lush, ten-foot-tall versions of our little houseplants. Poinsettias in the rainforest? Pimento allspice, a tree? Golden pothos climbing to the sky, and more varieties of palms than I could know. Then we were off to climb our own waterfall (Dunn's River Falls) along with hundreds of people, which was slightly strange, but I loved it, so much fun. I ate abundantly and slept deeply, I stood on our wind-whipped balcony each night and watched the ship cleave through black space, churning white foam in its wake.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


From the ship I'm on this week, internet & cell service is both intermittent and expensive, so I'll likely wait til I return to post more. I am finding it strange, the cruise concept. There is beauty to be found, and pleasure too (see: hot tub on the upper deck at night, beneath the moon) but I feel rather outside the flow of activities. There are indeed copious amounts of food at all times. It's unique to wake up and see the waves outside the window, nothing but sea. Not that we are too far from land, but it feels like we could be. Beautiful sunsets and sunrises. I don't often get to see the fiery sun appear to descend right below the edge of the horizon.
Yesterday we docked in Key West, kayaked in the morning (great fun) and walked around until we had to get back on the boat. Today is an 'at-sea' day, which I began by stumbling around with impaired equilibrium. So, yoga was out. Will probably try to make some watercolors from the photos I took yesterday. Tomorrow we hit Grand Cayman and will snorkel, and then we head to Jamaica.
I suppose most vacations can put you in an alternate universe of reality, but this feels particularly so. Still, we can do as much or as little as we desire. And the warm, soft air on my winter-pale skin feels surreal but good, as if I'm getting away with something.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

paper trails

Another adding machine, from the same place (in Cerrillos) as the blue one I painted. I like it as a drawing, too, graphite and colored pencil, 6"x8".
Paint and collage on paper, also 6"x8". More material from my trove of old road maps.
Paint and collage, the truck is a photograph I took. When I cut it out it looked like I'd already painted it. 4"x4" on 6"x8" paper.
Had been holding onto this map I'd cut from the newspaper last year, the 'Seamen's Bank for Savings' Rapid Transit Map of NYC. I didn't know how to integrate it into a collage, and realized I just liked it as is, for its vintage and for the amusement factor (maybe it's just me.. I'll leave it at that). Also 6"x8".
A couple of these I might put into a 6"x8" works-on-paper show to raise funds for the next Beacon Open Studios (in April), hence the size. I have enough ideas and material to make twenty of them, so maybe I will keep going. Yesterday I also helped dismantle the Beacon bicycle tree (constructed by a local sculptor and installed for the holidays) and started knitting a sweater, which may be a vest or an altogether new garment, depending how it goes, considering I've never knitted anything other than scarves. I'm not using a pattern, but I'm feeling optimistic about it anyway, for some reason. It's gotten very cold this week.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

new year

Guess that says it all, for now. The last days of 2011 passed quietly. Recent conversations with various people have left me thoughtful about future p-p-plans and ideas, along with some looking back on the past five years or so. Resolutions are gestating.
I need to accomplish a decent amount in my studio this week, for a couple of shows I will be in, and another that I am hoping to be accepted to. January is a groundwork-laying month, and I must shake the tinsel from my hair (a feeble joke; I did not do much celebrating this holiday season, though there was love and time with family/friends) and get down to it, including other possible applications and attempts.
I am going away next week for an unprecedented early-winter cruise through sunny climes and blue waters, with some of my family who've invited me along. It would be a stretch to call this a one-week artist residency on a big ship, but I am planning to take photos and maybe do some drawing. Maybe I will get to snorkel and see many-colored fish. I think there will be waterfalls. I'm looking forward to it. It will feel even better if I am able to do some good work before I go.