Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cellar Dweller

After an inspiring session with the Nashua Artist's Breakfast Club, I got back down to the basement, my easel, two small space heaters, several tubes of paint, partially completed canvases and some brushes and a palette knife.
I'd really be interested in what you think of my snow scene.  It is from a reference photograph, but I've made quite a few changes.  Since I really don't have Smilla's sense of snow... I can use all the help I can get!!

I also repainted some of the shadows and highlights in an old cat portrait.  I over painted "her" eyes because the others were wrong.  Obvioiusly, these are crazy, too.  Amazing how liberating it was to paint over a lot of the "old" paint, rather than trying to do it all alla prima.
 And this is my daily 6x6:  Definitely alla prima.  At least the pears look a bit more voluptuous... Although REAL highlights aren't three dimensional!!
(Suggestions welcome/solicited on this, too!!)

Friday, December 05, 2014

PEM: Calder, Gould and Gifts

 A friend and fan of the arts accompanied me to the Alexander Calder show at the Peabody Essex Museum today.  While I really enjoyed the mobiles and stabiles, I think I enjoyed the comaraderie the most.

Because the art was on loan from LACMA, I couldn't take photographs of the actual exhibit pieces.  I did draw some fairly peculiar images, though.  The mobiles would move, and the stabiles were SO 3D and peculiarly shaped, that drawing them in any sort of representational way was pretty challenging.  The photographs of the actual pieces are from Google Images and are of the FULL SIZE pieces.  The all orange one, called La Grande Vitesse, is in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The Black and Orange one, called Southern Cross is at the Storm King Art Center in upstate New York.  They will re-open April 1, 2015.  I want to go!
Calder believed that a big piece had to look good even when it was small, so he almost always made "maquettes" or miniatures of the big pieces, and those were primarily what fit in the museum gallery.  The pieces I drew (below right) were, I think, final size.  Note how they balance on a single point.  As good as Cirque du Soleil!  There were several batches of elementary aged school children present.  They seemed quite entranced with the mysterious physics, construction methods and just-plain differentness of these works.

Another special exhibit consisted of furniture now believed to have been made in the workshop of Nathaniel Gould.  The installation was particularly well thought out, with video showing a contemporary craftsman replicate significant elements by hand:  a carved scallop, chair leg, and Chippendale chair back.
 Many of the pieces were commissioned by Jeremiah Lee as wedding gifts (dowry?) for his daughter.  Must be nice to have custom made furniture! Tax rolls indicated he was the wealthiest man in Massachusetts (before the Revolutionary War).  He made his money as a merchant through shipping.  He was apparently good at smuggling arms and gunpowder to the colonies as well.  He died young as a consequences of events in Lexington in 1775.
 He was wealthy enough to have THE John Singleton Copley paint his portrait.  I think the painting is at least 12 feet high.
 The piece below is very much like a desk I inherited from my paternal grandmother.  Maybe I should ask the PEM to evaluate it rather than a local New Hampshire auction house!!  Allegedly, Gould made this as his "low end" model.
 Belos is the "high end" (fancy) model.
 Apparently a table and tea pot were essential for every woman so that she could entertain in style.  Tables with "pie crust edges" were more expensive than totally flat ones, but had the advantage of keeping precious chinaware from sliding off onto the floor.
 This "side table" was usually set against a wall to save space.  When the entire surface area was needed, there was a swiveling piece or gate leg that could swing out and prop up the dropped leaf.  Since New England homes of any age are usually small, this is a useful convenience.
 The artisan in the video is the director of  the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts, Phil Lowe. 
 There was a decorative arts display in another gallery.  Below  is one of the modern teapots.

As always, the PEM museum shop had lots of treasures.  I hope that I can persuade my husband to make some copies of these trees in the workshop before NEXT Christmas.
 Sometimes a fun painting is more about nerve than artistry.  I really like this simple six petaled flower.
 ... and this wooden tree shape from which to hang ornaments!
 If I wrote out 100 affirmations, quotes, or predictions and wrapped them in beautiful paper, they might be appreciated.  They could be picked randomly or shuffled or...
 Hoping you are on the lookout for art-on the move!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The day AFTER the horrible, no good, very bad day.

Yesterday was the pits.  I felt off balance, angry, afraid, and a little queasy most of the day.
Today was a very different story.
Yesterday I took the car for oil change and inspection. 
            FOUR NEW TIRES. $$$$
Well, that wasn't too surprising.  The service agent had warned me the tires were getting thin a couple of months ago, so I was not too shocked.  (And apparently a SUV type car burns through tires faster than a "regular" sedan. But what threw me into a royal tizzy was that the  guy couldn't find my car registration.  And I had NO IDEA WHY IT WASN"T IN THE GLOVE COMPARTMENT.
I totally panicked.
DH was not answering the phone.  AND I had plans for the rest of the day.  And.... and... and.

But today was a new day.  A VERY new day.
First up was an appointment with my "shrink."  If you've known me long, you know that I was one myself, and that I became one at least partly so I could unlearn a lot of crazy stuff I'd learned from my parents (They were part of the "Mad Men" AND "Leave it to Beaver" generation), and  have an excuse to study why people get depressed, discouraged, stuck, etc. etc.  So even though I aged out and retired, I still need to read, study and digest.

Well, boy, howdy were there ever some important insights, changes and experiences of relief this morning.
So that pretty much eliminated  yesterday's catastrophizing, melancholy, worry, fear, anxiety etc. I felt like it was finally safe to stop wearing a cumbersome, heavy suit of armor. (I never felt like Zena or one of those dominatrix types in the video games!)  I also realized that I'm not in a perpetual jousting tournament any more.  I suddenly found confidence that I could figure out a solution to the car registration dilemma and that it was unlikely I would go to jail:  for the rest of my life.  

DH was SO understanding, without my really having to say much.  (He couldn't find the registration, either).  But he agreed to see if we could get either a replacement registration paper, or register for the coming year at the Town Hall.  (In New Hampshire, your car registration is due on the last day of your birthday month.)

We could! and we did!  The Town Clerk didn't have a lot of understanding OR sympathy about how people lose their registrations, either, but acknowledged that we were hardly the only ones, even in our tiny town of about 4289 people.
So now the car is registered until December 2015!  AND we went to get the car inspected, and didn't have to pay, because it had been included in the bill for the tires and oil change.

So, I stopped and bought some (more) yarn!

And then answered e-mail.  Knit some and then had a happy, fun painting session.  Worked on a snow scene that I'd prepped with lavender under painting.
 And attempted a little still life with bears, lemon and lime (artificial, also from yarn supplier).  I'm happy with the brush work, but had no idea just HOW flat pears could look!  
But you know what?  I still feel FREE.  Freer than I've probably felt since I could walk or talk.
And that made it a very good day.
The kind of day when you just wanted to be your best, brightest, most fabulous self.  I think that's what I was trying to do in the photo of me, above, when I was about three.  I plan to feel that feeling every day, whenever possible.
There's a land that I see where the children are free
And I say it ain't far to this land from where we are
Take my hand, come with me, where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we'll live
In a land where the river runs free
In a land through the green country
In a land to a shining sea
And you and me are free to be you and me
                 Marlo Thomas

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Birds' Return (and DGD)

Just returned home to Grandma's house after a wonderful movable feast of Thanksgiving at Son, DIL and DGD's (Darling Grand Daughter)  house. The snow storm and ill-timed case of strep throat meant that the turkey would just  have to wait.
And so it did.  DIL and Son knocked themselves out with turkey and side dishes traditional to at least four families that I counted:  mashed potatoes, green beans (NO casserole!), corn casserole, stuffing, turkey, HOMEMADE rolls (two kinds),  home-made butter, molded strawberry jello, rum cake, cannoli cheese cake, pumpkin pie and Rolo/pretzel bites.  I think when we get together for Christmas, there will be still MORE "favorite" foods to be sampled, but it will be up to ME to prepare it!
The granddaughter had only figured out this year that Halloween pumpkins were connected with PIE.  So her mom made one in spite of the fact that she doesn't care for pies in general, nor vegetables (or ANY type) in particular.  DGD seemed to like the pie, though and REALLY liked her Aunt's strawberry jello.  (Everyone else had sort of pretty much made fun of the jello because it was billed  as a substitute for cranberry sauce. But I think for little girls and their memories, something THAT pink and THAT sweet is perfect.) 

 DGD and her two Aunts, listening to the Host expound on something while remaining skeptical!
DGD stayed in touch with Grampa while staying near Daddy.  I love watching "my" boys and DGD!
An extra bonus to the day was the return of the Juncos to one of our bird feeders.  DH spotted them first.
 They are tiny but HUNGRY.  And just after taking this photo, this guy allowed himself to "free fall" to snow level on the far side of the porch.  Must be fun to "jump" when you know you can pull up with a flick of the wings.
 The Blue Jays over winter.  I'm surprised this one stuck around as long as it did because I think the only thing the feeder was full of was snow.  Must tramp through the 5 inches (or so) that we have to re-fill it with seed.  The squirrels or chipmonks had already left foot prints from under the porch to the foot of the feeder.
 Looking disgruntled, don't you think?  Tomorrow!  OK? 
 After all that food, including tryptophan, Old Fashioneds, a little beer, a little wine, we were ALL kind of bushed, and WE weren't on post-strep anti-biotics.  But it was fabulous to be with family.  I'm thankful for all of you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Brush with Happiness

While DH was preparing the turkey/brine bath, I was in the basement.  Painting. 
Turns out I have a love-hate relationship with most kinds of commitments, obligations and promises, ESPECIALLY if they are "only" to myself.  (I'm great and reliable when it comes to fulfilling promises as well as others' expectations.)

So when Lisa Daria Kennedy and Carol Marine combined forces I found myself persuaded that DAILY painting would be a good thing.  I did okay for four days.  Four!

But immediately after that I began dragging my heels, making excuses, gnashing my teeth and generally being avoidant AND miserable.

What's up with THAT?  Let me just say that you are never too old for introspection, or therapy, or changing how you think about things.  I had taken a break from the pressure I felt about EVERY day, and returned to my easel with enthusiasm, fresh eyes, a new roll of paper towels and new ideas.

 I fiddled around with some semi-satisfactory paintings.  (Thanks Paula Mingolelli for helping me add more seasonal indicators and re-grading the landscape a little.  This photo doesn't quite show the sky the way I want it... but then, maybe neither does the paint!  Best thing about oil paint is the infinite re-does.)
 My Chilly Kitties are coming along. Pretty primitive, but they just make me happy with all that texture and palette knife craziness.

I increased the contrast between fall color and trees and twigs that had already dropped their leaves.  I'm still green with envy wondering how Wolf Kahn would do this, but it's better than the old version!

Challenged myself with a harder still life set up and was pretty happy with the result. 
I hardly ended up with a photographic representation (which hadn't been my goal in the first place), but I'm pleased with the color relationships, the shininess of the Clementines and the glassiness of the glass (even though I don't think the actual glass was quite as cock-eyed as the painted one.

And I went through lots of my photograph references.  I have plans for several bigger works.  Watch out for sheep!  Barns!  Vistas! Allegories!.
I may be sorry I added cold wax on this... experimentation IS at least part of what the creative arts are all about! If it works as planned you'll hardly know there was any purple involved!

And I have ideas for several series of paintings.
And I got to listen to several very very Faborite CD's that have been hiding in the basement.  No heavy metal for me!
There's a Hippo in the Bathtub by Anne Murray.   
Can We Go Home Now by The Roches
Tribute to Vince Guaraldi which must be out of print.  But you could get the idea here.
It's great to keep accumulating MORE reasons to be thankful.
Hope you have plenty, too, dear reader.

It's beginning to look a lot like TURKEY!

After the many exhortations by Chris Kimball (America's Test Kitchen guru) about the benefits of brining your turkey, DH decided to give it a whirl.  DH forgot the part about putting it in a beer cooler to begin with and making the brine in IT, adding the turkey and leaving it in the basement.

 Hence, The Bird is in our largest soup/stock pot AND displaced lots of stuff in the refrigerator that had expired or should have been discarded anyway.

 When the turkey is cooked, we'll have lots of room in here for pies and side dishes.  Although few or our casserole dishes are MADE for stacking.

I already made one "load" of pumpkin pies.  Libby's much KNOW that nobody wants just one, because their big can makes two.  Oh, and I usually double the spices they call for.  Maybe my taste buds are worn out, but I LOVE cinnamon, cloves and ginger!!

 In case we get munchies before the turkey is done we have plenty of alternatives, and no, NH has NOT legalized pot.  We just love carbs!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Change of Seasons at George Marshall Store Gallery

Lisa Noonis:  Blue Berries
After the hours I spent "curating" my visit to the Unraveled exhibit in York, I'm just going to post the pictures I took at the Change of Seasons Show down the road.  This show will be up all winter while Ms. Harding scouts new talent. 

There is a list of all the artists on the GMSG web page HERE .  On many of the photos, you can double click to "original" size in order to read the label. Now I feel remiss in enjoying the show rather than really documenting it.  Well, it will be up through Spring, so maybe you can go see it in person!

 In the meantime, get inspired, enjoy, and make art!

There's almost always something "tasty" just as you enter the storm door!

Grant Drummler:  Swimming Cove

Kate Emlin:  Aouze

Madeleine Hopkins:  Winter Sun

Jenny Potter Scheu:  Summer Tapestry

Add caption

Encaustic!  Just one piece, but definitely different.
Arthur DiMambro:  Room With a View

Lisa Noonis:  City on the River

Louis Bourne:  Island Badminton

Brett X. Gamache:  Fisherman Rowing and Gulls
Lisa Noonis: Harbor Beach
Lisa Noonis
These are gouache... applied, I think, as if they were oils.  Small but strong works.

Madeleine Hopkins
 The painting below uses all the crazy colors I love.  Sort of a wild child! 

Ann Trainor Dominque:  Falling Toward Winter

 The painting below is actually watercolor on paper, then varnished.
 Watercolor and ink.  This was so different from everything else! Looked almost Japanese to me.

 This funny little painting looks just like one of Portland's Casco Bay  islands.  The jagged light line of the sun highlighting clouds is so primitive, but so "true"  just the same.
 Kathleen Galligan has the solo show on the lower level.  There were oils as well as pastels; landscapes as well as abstracts.