"The true painter strives to paint what can only be seen through his world." ~André Malraux

After a year of intermittant "painter's block"  I am working again in my studio, and feeling in a tentative positive state. Painting is a solitary activity, and as artists, we are often working in a vacuum. Unless we have a show hanging, reaction to the work is minimal. With several pieces underway, I decided that perhaps if I write about what I am doing or am attempting to do, it might act somewhat as a muse for me as well as give me some feedback on the work I am creating -- hence the establishment of this blog. 

As for the blog title, traditional, representational painting is a language for expressing what’s visible. But I feel my work is the most successful, and most interesting, when focused on things not entirely visible. I paint what I see but also what I sense and feel by utilizing my interior and unseen world --- in other words, the invisible world. Plein air work or  studio work from photographs are only touchstones or landmarks which guide me to other inner spaces. By so doing, I find that I am pushing the boundaries between representational and abstract work.

You can enlarge the images in this blog by clicking on them.

Mar 31, 2011

Like Grass Under the Wind

I received a Facebook friend request this week from a retired teacher in York, ME where the writer May Sarton spent her last 20 years, thanking me for starting the May Sarton page on FB. There is going to be a big celebration for what would have been her 100th birthday up there in 2012, and I intend to go. As well as working in the studio, I have been dipping into her poetry recently. Her journals, for which she is arguably best known, have nourished and sustained me over the years, but her poetry, for which she most wanted to be remembered, can also at times be well worth a read. Her poetry is uneven -- she is no Mary Oliver: I think one of the problems I have is that I do not really like contemporary poetry that rhymes. But she weaves nature, art and love into her work, and this one spoke to me today. I am sure she was thinking in terms of writing, but to me, it applies to painting as well:

by May Sarton 

Here is the pond, here sky, and the long grasses
That lean over the water, a slow ripple
Under the slightest wandering air that passes
To shift the scene, translating flat to stipple
On still blue water and troubling green masses.

Three elements are spaced and subtly joined
To rest the restless mind and lift us where
Nothing in us is baffled or constrained,
Who wake and sleep as casual as they are,
And contain earth, and water, and the wind.

Take blue; take green; take pale gold sand;
Take the slow changing shimmer of the air;
Take a huge sky above a steadfast land;
Take love, the tiger ocean in its lair,
and gentle it like grass under the wind. 

It reminded me of a number of paintings I have done of grasses over water, with a blue and ochre palette, such as this one, sold a few years back. 
"Salt Marsh"  12" x  12" oil on canvas
 And this one is  is just as it is here now. She lived in Maine, and thus had the same lack of traditional spring as do we here in Vermont. But we treasure the changes that do appear about this time of year, tantalizing little promises . . .  the returning songbirds, the activity in the hives, the whisper of spring on the forsythia and willow bushes, the seasonal shift in light and the longer days ... 

March Mad
by May Sarton 

The strangely radiant skies have come
to lift us out of our winter's gloom,
A paler, more transparent blue,
A softer gold light on fresh snow.
It is a naked time that bares
Our slightly worn-down hopes and cares,
And sets us listening for frogs,
And sends us to seed catalogues
To bury our starved eyes and noses
In an extravagance of roses.
And order madly at this season 
When we have had enough of reason

Mar 29, 2011

Houses from the Past

37 South Maple Avenue
"Clover Hill" 
As a child, I grew up in houses rich with history. My first five years were spent living with my grandparents in a beautiful, large, pre Civil War home in NJ (left), torn down when a highway came through the town. It had a wonderful barn behind, where my grandfather kept his automobile, treating it as well as a person who grew up on a farm would treat his horse. Much to his elegant wife's horror, he manured the grass every year. During this time, after the war, my parents' also bought a very old farmhouse in Goshen, NY (left) and used it as a weekend/vacation place. The neighboring farmer plowed a huge vegetable garden for my parents; we picked up milk, butter and shortbbread from the farmer's wife down the road; and I could watch cows outside my upstairs bedroom.  Wondrously, because in this country we tend to tear down so many of our fine old houses, it is still there, although the surrounding farmland is not.
Me on our porch, and my woods behind.

When I was six, we moved  to a building that had been the original schoolhouse in Essex Fells, NJ  (left and below) where I spent my childhood. It too still stands, but no longer surrounded by woods that were my playground, and so exciting to a little girl. 

We raised our own kids in a 1911 Queen Anne house in Montclair, where I once "saw" an Irish woman dressed in turn of the century clothes, in one the third floor bedrooms -- the old servants' quarters.
The house where I grew up

Probably as a result of these particular old houses, I have always loved them and the thought of the lives once lived within their walls. When they are abandoned, I find it hearbreaking, but fodder for wonderfully evocative paintings.

 One of my very favorite books was The Little House, written by Virginia Lee Burton. (Sorry the clicking option from this Amazon image will not work here!) This classic childrens' book which won the Caldecott Prize in 1943, is still selling strongly. It begins "Once upon a time there was a Little House way out in the country. She was a pretty Little House and she was strong and well built."  Amazon describes the book:  

"The rosy-pink Little House, on a hill surrounded by apple trees, watches the days go, by from the first apple blossoms in the spring through the winter snows. Always faintly aware of the city's distant lights, she starts to notice the city encroaching on her bucolic existence. First a road appears, which brings horseless carriages and then trucks and steamrollers. Before long, more roads, bigger homes, apartment buildings, stores, and garages surround the Little House. Her family moves out and she finds herself alone in the middle of the city, where the artificial lights are so bright that the Little House can no longer see the sun or the moon. She often dreams of 'the field of daisies and the apple trees dancing in the moonlight.' Children will be saddened to see the lonely, claustrophobic, dilapidated house, but when a young woman recognizes her as an old family home and whisks her back to the country where she belongs, they will rejoice. Young readers are more likely to be drawn in by the whimsical, detailed drawings and the happy ending than by anything Burton might have been implying about the troubling effects of urbanization."   

But this book stuck with me, and also with my daughter who says it influences her still today. It is probably one reason that I began a series of paintings of the disappearing barns and farmhouses in Vermont a few years ago, and why,from time to time, such as now, that I am still compelled to add to this series. As I watch this farming heritage disappear from the New England landscape through neglect, the elements, vandalism, fire etc., I feel a great sadness, and in my own way try to preserve a little of it at least on canvas. Because even the memories of lives lived in them are fast disappearing, and the only way these buildings will survive is through photographers and artists. 
 Here is one which I may have posted earlier.

Windows Filled With Vanished Days  20" x 20"         oil on canvas

My children, when small, used to call them "sad houses." Often known simply as "the old so-and-so place," these remnants of the once-thriving farmsteads -- houses, barns, corn cribs, ice houses, root cellars --  have slowly gone fallow, like the land. Often all that remains is a stone cellar, some lilac bushes, old apple trees, tumbled down rock walls, rusted old plows, all speaking of lives once lived there. But many of the old wooden buildings themselves also still cling precariously to the land. 
As well as a loss of historical and architectural legacy, these old houses and barns also speak to me of the loss of personal history. As I work on these pieces, I imagine the rich life that once inhabited the buildings --- the sturdy work horses and cows in their stalls, the sweet smell of the hay, the sounds of milk pails clanking, cattle lowing --- and in the houses, open windows with curtains blowing in the breeze, the smell of dinner cooking, kids in tire swings hung from trees, the lives lived there, all gone, all gone.

This is the painting I have been working on this week -- of a fragile, old house  with nothing left of its past except a tattered lace curtain in one window. Soon I imagine only the brick of the foundation and chimney will be left.

All Gone, All Gone  20" x 20"  oil and graphite on canvas

Detail, All Gone All Gone
Historical note: Defection from the hills attest to the exodus after the Civil War in New England: large numbers of men hearing from army mates about the fertility of the readily available Midwest land, with no rocks to clear, never came home. And people who did not go west moved down into the mushrooming factory towns where livings might more easily be made. With the farmers' daughters going to work in the mills, and their sons off to fight in the war and then to other parts of the country where farming was so much easier, by the 1870's, farmers all around Vermont were abandoning their farms wholesale. Deserted farmhouses and barns became increasingly conspicuous in the cleared farmlands (now often given over to reforestation.) When a family decided to leave, there were few takers for the farm. Many simply moved out and, one imagines, after a some difficult and sad farewells to their home itself as well as to family and friends, they shut the doors and left their places to the forces of nature. And then came the Depression leaving more farms in its wake. The increasing presence of these buildings today bears silent, and sad, witness to more recent problems-- farm consolidation, rural depopulation and the present travails of trying to keep alive the family farm in New England.   

Mar 26, 2011

"Wauwinet" in the Works

I have been working on the painting  "Wauwinet Road", which is a painting right where we go every summer for a brief respite these days with our son and family. I have fallen in love with this windswept, fairly unpopulated part of Nantucket at the Head of the Harbor, and it has been a real muse for me these last few years. The view from the front of the shingled old summer beach cottage is of this bay, and from the back deck, of the ocean. Pure paradise.

 But I really I keep fighting with myself to keep to my current vision and keep the work, this painting for example, simple. A comparison of the first image of the painting  from a previous posting is atop of one as it stands now, a few days later..

It probably does not look much different to you, and of course the camera lighting is different each time I snap a photo, more accurate in the first image I would say, brighter,as it really is. But there are differences --  I have made an effort to use values to create more of a focus, especially brightening up some of the color blocks; I have softened the greenery, often by graffitti, the knife, to make it simpler and less fussy; and added the hint of houses upper right about where "Squantum House," OUR house (!! we wish!!) is. I also added some slashes of glimmering light in the spit of land in distance, on the bay beach sand, and the road (which is just dirt and sand),and  some of the geenery.  I think will call it finished or else I may fuss it up, and move on to the next piece.

Here is my family plus daughter-in-law's brother, wife and baby, three summers ago from the front deck overlooking the bay in the painting.

Back: Son-in-law Bob and MRT's daughter Francesca, Jen's brother MRT and wife Robin and baby Nicky, daughter-in-law Jen with our granddaughter Lily, daughter Rebecca with our grandson Nate, son Mike; front row, grandson Aidan and granddaughter Eloise. Head of the Harbor in the background!

Mar 25, 2011

Your Voice Might Change

As I find myself finally evolving into another painting style, I have been thinking a lot about consistency. There is this notion of the “consistent body of work” that artists are supposed to produce – gallery owners and critics pigeon-hole artists and sing the praises of  great consistency in the work of one artist, and dismiss another artist for being “all over the place.” They want you to establish a voice that embodies your unique artistic vision, and then  build a body of recognizable work. I have worried about this in the past when I was one of those all over the place artists, and have been talking to some friends about this. Some of them ask  “Why do we have to be consistent as an artist? Why do we have to present a unified body of work, each piece easily identifiable as one’s own? “ And after thinking it over, I feel that there are some ready answers. 

For artists struggling for recognition: You will definitely find that if you are interested in getting into commercial galleries, you will probably need to create a body of work at least to present to the galleries that shows a consistent, identifiable style that the gallery (and thus collectors) can recognize as your work. They would like to see that all of your work appears to be done by the same person, utilizing the same technique or combination of techniques and color palette that makes your “body” of work cohesive. Think of Rothko’s instantly recognizable color field paintings!! Think Renoir, Modigliani, Turner, Constable, Van Gogh, de Hooch! Think of Jim Dine’s bathrobes! Look at any one of these artist’s works, and you know immediately who painted it, at least in a certain time of their lives. And I think of my artist friends Henry Isaacs, Ashley Bryan, Michael Moore, Micki Colbeck, and Catherine Kinkade who have done this so successfully: (You can find examples for most of them of their work in the blog listings to the right on my blog.) So yes, you will need to present a portfolio of your work to a gallery, probably about 20 pieces, with a consistency. If you work in several media and a variety of styles, then make several different portfolios for different galleries/ purposes. And if you frame your work ( a lot of the edgier galleries today do not require frames) by all means use similar frames for paintings to keep the work from looking disjointed.

For established and successful artists: It is often just easier just to keep turning out your work in a certain way, knowing that it will continue to be praised and bought. A lot of artists do this. But I think of Eric Aho who developed a very distinctive style painting plein air landscape as well as larger studio works that drew inspiration, mostly from direct observation. His spectacularly sky-heavy, windblown landscapes done in bold, minimal strokes full of mood and heightened detail are expressed so simply, a glint of light here, a slash of color , a perfect little detail there. They captivated me. I become breathless when I stand in front of his work. This work catapulted him to the being one of the top landscape artists in the country. He could have continued to turn out that wonderful work forever, and amass a fortune, with galleries selling his work for many thousands of dollars.
Earlier style: "Late Squall"  by Eric Aho 
Current work :"Occurrence" by Eric Aho
But then he GREW and changed his focus, turning away from his expressive narrative works!  He said in an interview “I’m not looking at grand vistas, anymore, and more pastoral landscapes, like I had done in these views over the river. I’m actually looking down, more at my feet, into the river – The Saxton’s River, which I’ve been watching freeze and thaw in successive winters now for the past few years.” As well as his expressive oils, he does prints (his original medium actually) these days, and has become more and more abstract, irritating some of his past collectors. His new works are often wild and chaotic but they beautifully capture light, air, fire, ice  and land. A critic of one of his recent shows said  “Aho’s abstract paintings are evolving right in front of us.”I remember the shock of seeing this new body of work, and how long it took for me and other viewers to accept it. I can imagine him just being tired of making those beautiful paintings, and wanting to shake things up a bit-- a lot! But most likely, his VISION --  HIS VOICE -- JUST CHANGED!
 The same with my old college friend Lucretia Robbins who has through her career moved from one stage to another with ease--- most recently from exquisite jewel like abstracts with luscious brushwork (see below) 

to a recent large series of painstaking, elegant drawings of birds’ nests! 

Artists such as these have had the courage to persevere, and hope that the their “new” work will gain its own followers.  And I believe that even when you do grow, or change your focus, you can continue to present a unified look to your work, even if it is a NEW look, even if temporary. Creating a consistent body of work does not mean that you have to always paint the same things in the same ways in the same palette, forever! For most artists, that would simply be impossible anyway, and would make the creation of art a burden and a bore. If you do not grow, you become a hack. Exploring new and differing ways of expression is a constant and a necessity for the artist. Or so I believe.

Sadly, the need for consistency rules the all too commerce-centered art world. There is this perhaps erroneous feeling that gallery owners, and often art school admissions folks, have that if you present a “wide range of styles”, you are showing them that you have not yet settled on a style you can call your own. This does probably mean that when I present twenty pieces to a gallery for consideration, I must make sure that those twenty pieces are consistent, make the same statement, and set the same mood. (For example, if you work mainly in gentle earth toned colors on small canvasses but include one or two huge pieces in bright primary colors in the portfolio, this will not look cohesive. But if you want to do a series in the primary colors for another place to consider, by all means go ahead.)  And I should probably edit my website to convey this consistency, somehow.  

But a forever consistency can kill creativity. Consistency can cripple. What’s wrong with experimentation? With GROWTH? Rothko, recognizable as his work is, went through a long process to get to his final step, which involved only his shimmering, emotion-laden large colored shapes. Would you ever recognize these as Rothko's work?? 
  The older he got, the more simplicity he sought. Since he is one of my favorite artists, I am VERY glad that he evolved, VERY glad that his vision and painting style changed to this--- (but you really need to see his work in person, it CANNOT be well produced.)

Picasso did not stay in his Blue Period forever  -- he marched right into Cubism, and beyond. And what about Phillip Guston's abstractions? His career was filled with evolution! Starting out in the 1930s as a social realist painter of murals, he ducked into a sort of cartoon realism, and finally rose to the top as one of the key Abstract Expressionists. Ya' gotta  follow your muse, and paint what you want to paint, and not worry too much about where you end up. Finding your voice only happens after MUCH experimentation: it is not a quick and easy activity, it can take a long time, even many years and involves much thrown away or painted over work. And anyway, like an adolescent boy about to have a huge growth spurt, your voice might change! Twice maybe, three times, or more! And each time, with a struggle, but a GOOD one.

I am in the process of doing just that right now. I cannot paint as I did three, four let alone 30 years ago. Jackson Pollack once said “My opinion is that new needs need new techniques." I continue to evolve, to change as a person and as an artist, and I know that this makes me a happier artist. Hopefully it also makes me a better artist as well.
Here is another example of the new technique I have been using over the past year or so. I still find myself wanting to slip back into my old dripping and glazing style, but I am resisting. I am looking for simplicity. It is definitely still in progress, and not going quite as well as the last one. In real life, the sky in the painting is not turquoise as it shows here, and the other colors are brighter, especially some of the greens which look so dull here. I will get a better shot of it when I finished with it. It needs focus, and some value work, as well as the suggestion of a few houses upper right.

Wauwinet Road 

Mar 23, 2011

New Work and Strafford ARTWORKS

I have been in the studio most days this week, happy that the warm days have caused the snow over my two skylighted windows on the slant of a peaked wall to slide down, giving me more wonderful natural light. Just another sign of spring-- a better lit studio! (We actually had another five inches of snow on Monday -- welcome to spring in Vermont.)  I have begun three new pieces --- a seascape being executed in the very loose, painterly style I am exploring with which I am very happy--- it was almost done alla prima in one session, but I had to have  a second day's work on it. 
The Blue Shore of Silence  oil on canvas  20 x 20

 A second piece done in the same way that is underway is of the sandy roadway and land around the house that we go to every summer in Nantucket. Painting this way is becoming easier for me, and is making me very happy, because it is the way my eyes and heart have wanted to paint for over a year, but my hands would not obey. I have also started a zoomed-in section of yet another very old, tumbling down Vermont building in a style more controlled, like my other buildingscapes. This one requires more exacting work, and I do not have it to a place I like yet at all. My in-house critic agrees. It may not work, and may be painted over.

I hope to have one of them ready for a group show I am in in April with Strafford ARTWORKS, to be held at the Ledyard Gallery at the Howe Library in Hanover, NH. I need two or three paintings, and I have two set aside, but would like a third. This is the 11th year I have been involved with this group, 
formed in 2002 by Nancy Gerlach and me to provide a way for Strafford artists to network, share ideas and skills, hold critiquing sessions of works-in-progress (both in person and recently on line with one another,) hold workshops, and plan and implement shows. Initially, we also hoped to find a space to use a gallery and run it like a co-op, but the logistics of this has proved too costly in terms of both time and money. 

We felt (and still feel) fortunate to be living in such a beautiful and inspirational place, but also were very aware that the Upper Valley was not New York, and not a visual arts epicenter.  It was clear that there were plenty of talented and productive artists here, all with similar struggles, caught in the same traps. We all had something in common: a determination to create our art where we live and to build an art scene out of nothing except sheer desire, determination, and sometimes desperation. In 2002, it just seemed to be the right time for a group of us to band together and create our own community of artists here in our small, rural Vermont village.Good art is produced all over the world, not just in Manhattan or London, and we felt that if we worked hard enough, and continued to connect with ambitious artists who shared the same ideas, we could make life as artists work here.

 Through ARTWORKS, artists from Strafford got to know each other, and allowed many in town who had previously been solitary in their creative pursuits to connect with like-minded people. We were inspired, and began taking this new energy and throwing it back into our work, producing more (and maybe better) work than we had done before. 

While each artist in the group brings a unique vision to his or her body of work, the group shares an approach that includes both the traditional and the edgy and experimental. The only criteria for acceptance in the group (we do a slide or digital image review and resume review) are 1) is strong work that shows professional potential and 2) the dedication of the artist to pursue his or her own voice. Artists who have exhibited with ARTWORKS range from their 30’s to their 80’s! Some, but not all, are or were art school students and graduates, but almost all have studied art in one way or another. Very few of them are primary bread-winning artists, and hold other jobs such as college professors, teachers, a lawyer, designers, illustrators, a writer and a published photographer, lecturers, as well as a roller derby skater, a landscape designer with a lily farm, a peace activist, a dollhouse miniatures enthusiast (that would be MOI!), a musician, a carpenter. Plus we have retirees from the worlds of psychoanalysis, law, public relations, architecture, and plenty of other things.  We are all artists working hard, sacrificing sleep and juggling time to create and exhibit work in lives rich with family, jobs, gardens, and other responsibilities -- and this is a unifying bond. 

In an area not exactly overflowing with galleries, a primary goal of the group was and is to find new, interesting and often alternative public spaces to exhibit our work and help bridge the gap between artists and collectors in the Upper Valley. For the first four years or so, we only showed our work in town; after the initial few shows, we were pleased that the shows were attracting townspeople from all walks of life; people seemed excited and interested in what was going on right in their own backyard. However, in a town as small as Strafford, there is a limited audience and thus limited opportunities to sell our work. We began seeking out-of-town venues in alternative locations in the Upper valley such as hotels and libraries, and this year, in April, at the Ledyard Gallery at the Howe Library in Hanover. 
Today artists have tools and opportunities that would have seemed unbelievable just fifty years ago; we have the ability to connect and communicate with people instantly from anywhere in the world! One of our youngest members ushered us into the digital age by maintaining our first web site, and now curates, along with two others, our presence on an on-line museum gallery on Open Museum which can be seen at  http://www.openmuseum.org/museum/show/29. Here in the Strafford ARTWORK "Museum" our artists each have their own gallery, and as an art collective, we are able to present the work of what we believe is a most talented and eclectic group of artists. In addition, as artists in the 21st century, many of us are also trying our best to jump on the social networking wagon: some of us maintain Facebook pages; maintain personal art websites; and art blogs such as this one in efforts to enlarge our electronic footprint. We post our paintings and art news anywhere we can! 

Fellow artist Andrea Doughtie and me hanging an ARTWORKS show a few years ago .


Mar 19, 2011


The portrait is finished, and the mother of the girl seems very happy with it. What else can I ask for: who knows better whether what I have created captures the essence, the joy, of this daughter, than her mother. Below is the finished piece, not looking just like the photo, because apparently the photo had somehow elongated and narrowed her face.  


Someday I would like to do a serious painting of my own lovely daughter. Here is a poem I came across this week, about daughters, that resonated with me. 

Prayer for Our Daughters

by Mark Jarman

May they never be lonely at parties
Or wait for mail from people they haven't written
Or still in middle age ask God for favors
Or forbid their children things they were never forbidden.

May hatred be like a habit they never developed
And can't see the point of, like gambling or heavy drinking.
If they forget themselves, may it be in music
Or the kind of prayer that makes a garden of thinking.

May they enter the coming century
Like swans under a bridge into enchantment
And take with them enough of this century
To assure their grandchildren it really happened.

May they find a place to love, without nostalgia
For some place else that they can never go back to.
And may they find themselves, as we have found them,
Complete at each stage of their lives, each part they add to.

May they be themselves, long after we've stopped watching.
May they return from every kind of suffering
(Except the last, which doesn't bear repeating)
And be themselves again, both blessed and blessing.


I had a call from CMS, the arts showroom in New Jersey where I just took my work, telling me they think they have sold the giclee I brought them, "White on White." That was fast, hope it is a good omen.

And I have had conversations this week with an artist friend (who happens to be Nelson Rockefeller's daughter and is a lovely woman) who is involved with the Vermont Studio Center. Founded by artists in 1984, the Studio Center is the largest international artists' and writers' Residency Program in the United States, hosting 50 visual artists and writers each month from across the country and around the world. If accepted to receive a studio residency, you go for two to 12 weeks to the  historic 30-building campus along the Gihon River in Johnson, Vermont, a village in the heart of the northern Green Mountains up here. You live in one of many farmhouses on the campus in a private room, get all your meals, and are given a private studio in which to work. There are often writers and artists who come to lecture, and much give and take between the artists in the program when you are. I think it sounds like heaven. I told her I would be interested in doing it in November, or January-March of next year, times when I am just as happy not to be here. She seemed to think I would have no problem getting in the program, especially if I do not apply for a scholarship, which I would not. I am seriously thinking about it. Of course when I would REALLY have liked to do this would have been back in the day when I was juggling home, family and job, with NEVER any time to paint. But even now, the thought of that block of time with no meals to plan or cook, no one to think about except myself, no TV, no noise, no obligations, no responsibilities except to myself, and with my own studio, wow. I wish my son in law could come with me. (But I don;t wish that upon my daughter!)

Meanwhile, with the portrait completed, I am free to work stress free in my studio, and cannot wait to begin! I plan to get about three pieces going at once. Tomorrow!! 

Mar 12, 2011

In Between Storms

 We are in between storms. Monday left us with another foot of snow, and a sheer layer of ice, creating a dazzling unreal beauty amongst the trees when we drove home on Tuesday. Another storm came Wednesday, with rain dissolving the ice by Friday. And then it snowed again. Even I begin to tire of snow by the end of March when, Jersey bred, I expect daffodils and birdsong -- but for a few more weeks I am happy to walk amongst the diamonds, and sit cozily by the fire at night. I read my cousin Howie's garden blog (see my web and blog links) abut his snowdrops and crocus coming up in Short Hills, NJ, and laugh, because nothing is coming up at his weekend house, just five minutes from here.

The snow that reaches the top of the front door  -- see photo below left (so that we cannot even open the door to get out to take down holiday pine cone wreath!) is a little overwhelming. It caused my 10 year old grandson, who is snow addicted, to whoop with joy when he arrived here late Friday night and walked up the covered walkway to the mudroom. (See top photo taken through the door, before John cleared it away, making an even larger mountain to the right.)

I am quite certain there will be more snow, more beauty, more to paint, but I hope it will go away by April. 

Winter’s Ferocious Tenderness
by Namaya 

winter returns


a hushed lullaby

of sadness

draping the land

in memories

I have not done much winter work this year, but of course up here there is still time. Since I am backtracking in this new blog, I thought I would add an image of a painting I did maybe three years ago because this is how it looks around here right now. I used it for a Christmas card a few years back. If I wake up early enough, the sunrise over the snow creates remarkable colors -- a prism of wonderment! 

Did you know that snow  is actually colorless? It appears white because light is so scattered when it hits the snow, reflecting back all the colors in light. Depending on where you find the snow, snow can actually appear red, blue, purple, black, and more. I discovered this when painting it, as in the piece below, and realizing how many colors were out there besides white. 

I found a very good, if a bit too technical for me, explanation of the colors of snow here www.webexhibits.org/causesofcolor/5C.html

" ... more first than sun ... "

And for anyone interested in the tools of the trade-- I have organized and detailed my past "Palette" posting so it is clearer, and makes more sense. I welcome comments from other artists on what is on your palette.

Mar 8, 2011

Going Home Again,

Because I am from New Jersey -- born and bred -- and because I lived, raised my kids, and worked in The Garden State until moving to Vermont 13 years ago, I am totally delighted to have at least an artistic home there again. On Friday I took a bunch of work down to CSM Art in Chatham, and left seven pieces with Caryn Kruger, an art consultant with a showroom where she showcase paintings, prints and sculpture. She caters mostly to interior designers and their clients. She selected seven paintings of mine to market. It will be interesting to see how this venture goes.

CSM Showroom
She kept both of the pieces I discussed taking  in the last posting. Another  piece she took is one I did five years ago or so when I was experimenting with painting on clayboard, a ground which I have come to love. This particular one ended with a fabulous, deep, glassy sheen. This was also when I was starting to branch away from pure representation in my landscapes. The ruby red and ochre colors do not come out true here, and the detail of the grasses does not show up too well. 

Autumn Grasses 12 x 16 Oil on clayboard

I would love to have a show back in NJ again sometime. It is becoming more and more frustrating to show work in the Upper Valley -- my artist colleagues and I love living and creating in this wonderful place, but by and large we find that we need to sell our work elsewhere. All too often up here in deep Yankee-land, art is viewed as frivolous or elitist, and certainly an unaffordable luxuryAs artists, we and our work seem to be widely appreciated in our home areas, but just about the only demographic groups with expendible income here who purchase serious art are docs at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, alums/second-home owners, and retirees -- and most of the retirees are not in a buying mode, long-ago having purchased everything they need in their homes. The economic downturn has not helped, with so many of the few galleries that we have/had in the area closing right and left. 

In an Artist Profile which was written about me in 2009 in a local arts newspaper, The Complete Hoot, I said " How can artists connect with the local communities and attempt to broaden local horizons and bring aesthetic meaning to the lives of rural inhabitants, and at the same time maintain the integrity of their work? How can they create work that resonates with a local audience, but which is also in sync with the urban, national or larger community? How does an artist create and sell work in such a conflicted community? In the greater Upper Valley environment, these questions are simply unavoidable." 

So I look to places like Nantucket, and now New Jersey. Cross your fingers. 

Mar 2, 2011

What to Take Where

I have been busy going through inventory to decide what to take down to show the owner of the New Jersey gallery on Friday, and what to keep out for the ARTWORKS group show of recent works for the Ledyard Gallery at the Howe Library in April. ARTWORKS is a group I formed about 9 years ago in town as a refuge for artists in our little village to get together, hold shows, critique work, and hold workshops. 

I have decided for the Howe show to take the large Cranberry Bog painting shown in an earlier posting, and this one -- 
When Summer Turns Gold  18 x 18  oil on canvas

 The above was a rather pivotal painting for me -- it was the beginning of my stretch away from realism in my landscapes, as I began to open up and loosten up. 

 As for the NJ Gallery, it is hard to know what to take because the work she handles seems to be all over the place. She did request a few specifics, and I will take them, including this little triptych 

 October Silence (3) 4 x 4 panels framed together (see below)

 Another one I plan to take is one from last year which I just totally reworked, and I am much more satisfied with it. In life, it is not as dark as it appears here on the bottom half, and the blue sky not quite as fake a blue..

"The Breezes, Awakening our Faces"  30 x 30  oil on canvas
So yet again, I am preparing to go away from home and studio. This time to go to the NJ gallery, and over the weekend  to celebrate grandson Nate's fifth birthday. Still besotted by knights and castles, he has opted to return to Medievil Times, a show and restaurant in Lyndhurst, NJ, where he can see knights actually jousting, and eat food with his hands, served by "wenches."  (When we were in NC this Thanksgiving for a family reunion to bury my father in law's ashes, at the cemetary, Nate whispered in an awesome tone that "Knights are buried here!" because he saw grave markers with the Celtic cross on them! ) Then I am babysitting Monday while my daughter and husband go to the opera, and then back home.