Friday, November 30, 2012

steinbeck's travels with charley

You would think that I'd have long ago read John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley: In Search of America, but I had not, which oversight I swiftly corrected this week. What a great book! Like many books I mention-which is why I don't often discuss the books I read, though I am always reading- there are a boatload of blog posts about it already, but sometimes I just want to say a quick word. Next month I'll post my (second-annual) list of what I've read this year, and likely go on a while about all the ones I didn't get to.
Anyway, I loved Steinbeck's account of his road trip across America in 1960, accompanied by his poodle (that would be Charley) in a green GMC truck outfitted with a camper top. Apparently he took the trip to reinvigorate his writing, to get back in touch with the country he'd spent years writing about, planning to talk to people along the way. I Googled a picture of his camper (named Rocinante, after Quixote's horse) and in the process turned up all sorts of articles on how the story was not as non-fiction as it was purported to be, plenty of inaccuracies, but I didn't care, it was absorbing and well-evoked and captured my imagination. Driving across America in 1960. That's the year some of my old road maps are from, so I've already previously gone on at length about the slightly inexplicable inspiration I get from the subject. I dip into the travel-writing genre periodically, and this is now one of my favorites. Fifty years later and there is still so much truth in his (occasionally wry and) prescient observations, almost startlingly so... a portrayal of America to get you thinking about what has and hasn't changed since then. So there's a humor and 'romance' of the road along with a kind of weary crankiness.

Monday, November 26, 2012

calendar girl

With the indispensable help of a friend, I've designed a 2013 calendar featuring twelve of my glorious paintings to see you through the coming year. I am waiting for it to be printed, so these are the covers. Then I will proceed to sell them out of hand, or by mail, but I am taking orders via email - - or phone, or out on the streets. Update: they are for sale in Clay Wood and Cotton's online shop (click to order).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I got the phone booth I recently wrote about. The day after I brought it home, I woke to find it frosted in the morning sun. 

 Took photos like it's a new addition to the family. There will be plenty more documentation, no doubt, as I clean it up and make plans for what I am going to do. I think it could be fun. So far the response has been enthusiastic.
The pies I made for Thanksgiving tomorrow- pecan with chocolate, and caramelized pumpkin.

I've been stacking wood every day, so I am going to enjoy the time off, consuming back all the calories I've burned lately. I tell people as far as that's concerned, I just about break even.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

our rock

When I was a kid, we had some good conversations out on the big rock. From there we had a view of the pond, part of the house when the leaves were down, and the tops of the woodpiles. The horse and the goats would have been nosing around somewhere on the hill. My mother took this picture from the yard one afternoon, unbeknownst to us, focusing her camera between the trees past my swing set. The bleached-out color of the grass and the leaves on the ground past the stone wall make me think that it is late fall. I am wearing my red raincoat, magenta pants and green boots, a bright spot of color on the rock with my father, and we are talking about something, or nothing, or everything.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

super bowls

I painted these two bowls ('Super' and 'Orange/White Truck') to auction off at a fundraiser for Schoharie County's food pantries, called Empty Bowls. The event is this Sun, Nov 18, 11-2 at the Best Western in Cobleskill, NY, and along with the auction there will be many hand-painted (and some hand-thrown) bowls to buy for $5 each and fill with delicious soup. 

 Anyone familiar with my 'Super' painting will recognize this design, which seemed like a good word to put on this dark shiny bowl.
 This is the 1971 'dreamsicle' truck I saw (and coveted) in August. It bowled me over, and now it's all over a bowl.

Monday, November 12, 2012


The day following my last post, I'd have been happy if it were merely a "leaf-strewn ground" I was traversing, but a snowstorm blew into our region and I found myself working in blustery wind and wet snow. "Too early for this," I grumbled, peeling off my cold, sodden gloves. Too early for shoveling paths across yards from pile to stack. Skidding cars on slick roads. It's all melted now, but it was a preview of the impending season. Got new snow tires on my truck yesterday, an attempt to ensure a mild winter. People are saying they think it's going to be "a rough one," though I don't know what they base this on. I still maintain an enthusiasm for snow, the real beauty and fun of it as well as the coziness of watching it from inside (preferably by a fire), but it does complicate work and travel. What is with all this weather talk?
On to symbolism-- I was walking from my parked truck back to a farm stand, and came upon a small dead black-and-white bird by the roadside. I picked it up; it was weightless in my hand, its feathers soft. I put it down and went to buy my squashes and stalks of brussels sprouts. I came back laden with bags and placed the bird on a towel and brought it home, to be photographed by my friend, or painted by me, or written about in some blog or other.
On to politics-- I am very glad that Obama was indeed re-elected!
On to art-- I  have a painting (the Casa Grande w/Bottles) in the juried 'Under 40 Show' that just opened at the Woodstock Artists' Association & Museum this weekend. Aside from the 12 or so artists in the show, only a couple of whom were there, everyone in attendance seemed to be well OVER 40 (if not 50).. a lively, unfamiliar crowd. In their concurrent Holiday Show, my small painting sold, so I will bring another to replace it. Both shows run through Dec 31.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

long shadows

So far it feels more like 'daylight moving time' than daylight savings time. The hour of light just shifts from late afternoon to early morning, which is of use to some people and inconvenient to others. Such as those of us who work outside in the late afternoon into evening and gradually find ourselves enveloped by dusk before we have finished. Then of course the window of daylight closes gradually from each end of the day, every day, until we are sandwiched between layers of darkness. The sun sinks behind the trees by mid-afternoon, casting long shadows across the leaf-strewn ground, and it feels truly November. Waking to frost on the grass, sliding directly into layers of clothing nestled inside one another from the day before. Fingers already getting cold while working- time to find the warmer gloves, though even that doesn't always keep the chill from my hands. A customer, after I stacked her firewood, brought me hot tea and leftover Halloween candy. This I nervously nibbled as I drove past gas station after mobbed (or drained) gas station, the gauge hovering near empty.
People I know have been gathering supplies and bringing them down to the areas most devastated by the hurricane which swept through last week. Floods and power outages, and then this cold weather bearing down. I mope about darkness, but I can come home to light and warmth. My studio may be cold sometimes, but it wasn't filled with water like many NYC artists found their studios and galleries. These are the times when most of my concerns seem self-indulgent, my modest artistic accomplishments beside the point. I feel like this occasionally when I read of trouble in foreign places, where you can't even wake up without a constant fear for your life and safety, the daily possibility of your world blasting apart. When it happens closer to home we are more swiftly reminded of our vulnerabilities.
While waiting for my truck to be fixed this morning, I was aurally assaulted by a TV cooking show, the hosts loudly extolling the glories of a sandwich to the uproarious applause of the studio audience. Not that I don't love sandwiches- in fact, I went and picked one up after voting- but the excessive animation seemed inane. I admit most TV affects me this way.
Yes, today is election day. I do feel confident that Obama will be re-elected. I can't bear to imagine the ramifications of the alternative. That will be all for the political segment; I generally leave most articulation to better-informed sources. However, these subjects have been on my mind more than art has, recently, along with the reality of my work schedule and the vagaries of the weather.
That November light does have its particular beauty; this evening I drive home along the river with one cold hand clutching the wheel and the other wrapped around a coffee, agape at the russet and yellow trees aglow in the setting sun. Reflected in the water, those fiery colors get me every time.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Here is an animation my friend just made, after he finished photographing a batch of my recent paintings for me (the majority of the last 18 months' worth). They were leaning all in a row and I was about to put them away, when he said, hmm, hang on. He took a number of stills and cut them all together. My paintings, like blocks of color and pattern, disappearing into the next frame, my figure an efficient blur against the white wall.