Saturday, April 25, 2009

A New Day

A New Day
10 x 10

Available at Hildt Galleries, Chicago

The other day I read that scientists have determined that space begins 62 miles above the earth's surface. The article included a photograph taken from space at an oblique angle of the earth and its atmosphere. It was shocking- that thin little envelope of air separating us from deep, black space. Sixty two miles- that's about the same distance I drive round trip to the nearest Walmart. Nothing could more emphatically demonstrate the fragile, tenuous nature of our existence. And yet, the thing that struck me- just as it does when I stand at the edge of a pond or watch the weather blow in from the west- is the incredible inventiveness, the sheer creativity of Creation.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Still Evening

Still Evening
10 x 10 oil on linen
Available at Blackheath Gallery, London

The Early Summer Show at Blackheath Gallery opens on Saturday, 10-6. If you happen in be in London, pop in! The show runs through June 6.

Online Painting class- Painting the Luminous Landscape, May 15- June 12. Just two spots left!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Seeing the Start

Work in Progress
30 x 70 triptych

Something happened yesterday in the studio that was, I think, a completely new experience for me. I've been thinking about painting some large pieces lately and buoyed by the imminent completion of The Constable Closet, I decided to start a 30 x 70 triptych this weekend. I filled up pages of my sketchbook with thumbnails and completed two underpaintings of pieces with a similar motif. I could see in my mind's eye what color harmony and effect I wanted and a general idea of the motif, but I still hadn't worked out the composition. I tend to work in squarer formats so composing this elongated horizontal was giving me fits. Plus, composing a triptych is arguably three times as challenging because each panel must stand on its own as well as support the whole.

So, when I went to the studio yesterday to start it, I still hadn't really settled on a composition. I thought I'd sketch some more and try to resolve it. I walked in and put the three panels up on my easel and moved the other two pieces I had already laid in to my work table. I looked at them, then looked at the panels and well, I "saw" the composition on the panels all laid out. I didn't think, I didn't conjure it up, I just saw it. It only lasted a few seconds, but I saw it.

I was taught to "see" the final work in my mind's eye and this is what I also encourage my students to do. But that exercise, at least to me, is more about the translation of the subject into paint-understanding what you want your finished painting to look like before you start- seeing the finish. This experience was more about process- more about "seeing the start". And I didn't "see" it in my mind's eye, I saw it on the panels. Or, maybe I just had one too many Diet Cokes.

Friday, April 17, 2009

New Online Painting Class

This past week concluded my first two online painting classes. It was new territory for me as a teacher and for the students but the format really worked. As always, I learned a great deal by having to explain my process and also how I can tweak the format to make it even better. The feedback from students has been excellent. So, I've scheduled a new 4 week online painting class for May 15- June 12, 2009.

Click here for more information and to register. The class is limited to 10 participants.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Constable Closet

April Dusk
12 x 12
Available at Blackheath Gallery, London

This weekend Steve (my husband) started framing up the walls for the new storage area in my studio. There never seems to be enough storage in a studio and I'm sure I'll fill this one up immediately. There is one very special feature to this storage area, however- The Constable Closet.

A few months ago Steve and I were talking about John Constable and his famous "six footers" - the large exhibition pieces he painted for the annual Royal Academy shows. In many respects these huge canvasses had an extremely beneficial effect on his career and brought him to the attention of landscape painters and collectors in France (even as he was somewhat ignored in England) . About the same time as this conversation, my dealer in Chicago started encouraging me to paint some really large pieces and Steve enthusiastically supported that idea. Ever since then, he asks me on a regular basis when I'll be starting my first "six footer".

I've had a few mishaps over the last few months, with large panels getting dinged while sitting around in the studio. So, this weekend when we started working out the design for the storage area, he came up with the idea to include an area where I can store big panels. And The Constable Closet, named after the great man himself, was born.

Its a bit tough to see (it sort of looks like a forest of 2 x 4s at the moment), but the tall narrow opening on the left front is the opening for the Constable Closet. It will be dry walled in the interior and have a funky little narrow door. I'll be able to store panels up to about 7' x 7' in there. The opening for the rest of the storage area is around to the right (the shelves will back up to the right wall of the Constable Closet. There, I'll have some vertical storage for smaller panels and paintings and shelves for supplies.

I've read that Constable often let his children play in his studio and that on one occasion one of his sons punctured a large canvas with the mast of a toy sailing ship. I just bet John would have loved this closet.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Studio Improvements

Summer Moon II
12 x 11
Available at Blackheath Gallery, London

This morning we shipped six paintings to London. It was such a relief to get them out, and I was tempted to just relax a bit this afternoon. But, we are finally going to get started on the improvements to my studio this weekend. And not a minute too soon. Between filming videos for the online classes and trying to get the six pieces done, its in a total shambles. So, I spent the afternoon moving book boxes, supplies, canvas rolls, frames, paintings -stuff- to one end of the studio so we could start building the bookcases and storage area this weekend. I saved a little corner where I can hopefully keep working.

In addition to bookcases, storage area, painting the ceiling and walls and hanging proper lights, I want to replace this lovely sort of Stalag 13 door with a more inviting french door.

Charming, huh?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Twilight Wood
12 x 12
Available at Blackheath Gallery, London

It's been a bittersweet pleasure this past week, working on the pieces to send to London. It's an exciting task but the loss of Sophie has tempered it. But, six pieces are almost done, which is a good thing since they must dry, be varnished, and dry again in time to ship on Thursday!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sophie 1995-2009


Our dear, sweet Sophie died last night leaving an enormous emptiness in our hearts and in our canine pack. She was our oldest dog, but a perpetual puppy in looks and charm. The smallest of our pack (we had 5 dogs before her passing), she was always last in the pecking order. She bore that with grace and a sweet temperament. Even though she had been blind and in failing health for the last year, she never lost her gentle demeanor. Or, her desire for the next treat-until yesterday morning.

And Sophie was a traveler. She joined our family in FL, but soon began making the treks out to New Mexico, which eventually turned into a permanent move. She would patiently lay in the back of the Suburban for the three day trip from Florida to New Mexico- only registering a complaint when one of the big dogs would step on her. This picture was taken in 1999 in Abiquiu, NM in a spot we used to go to picnic. It has a spectacular view of the red rocks surrounding Ghost Ranch. We thought it perfectly captured her- a small dog with a big heart.

We had three other dogs that had left us over the years during our odyssey from Florida to New Mexico and finally to Texas. When we moved here two years ago, we brought their headstones with us, but never really found a place for them. This morning, we buried Sophie in a lovely little spot on our property and set the other stones there too. It seems all of us will finally settle down here.

We'll miss you Sophie.