Sunday, July 10, 2016

Facing Faces at Whistler House

This past week has been a such a challenge for many of us that it seemed like the least I could do was get out of the house.Perhaps I should have painted or knit or something.  But I didn't have the spirit.
But the Whistler House Museum of Art/Lowell Art Association had an opening reception for an exhibit of Famous Faces; portraits by Nancy Ellen Craig (1927-2016)

 When I arrived mid-way through the reception hours, the curator was still expounding about his experiences with the artist and her experiences with husbands, children and portrait subjects. I was frustrated at first, because I just wanted to see the paintings.  But perhaps having to wait, standing, made them more amazing when I finally got to stand in front of each one. (The customary spread of cheese, crackers, crudités and sweets didn't hurt.)


She painted large - in the old style of formal portraits.  Most were 3 x 4 feet or larger like the portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright.  (Her estate and collectors seem careful about what paintings are available on line... and photographs were not allowed, so my illustrative choices were limited.  There was a  Norman Mailer portrait that was 6 FEET on a side. (You CAN find that one on line!) There were circular canvases about 4 feet in diameter. The paintings were generally brushy, loose, and raw -- with the exception of some of the women's faces; which were as soft and carefully shaded as any Flemish portrait.  No wonder people wanted their portraits painted by her! All captured some ineffable spirit of the sitter.  By virtue of having grown up in a posh area of New York City, she painted royalty, screen stars, other artists and local friends.

Princess Marie Louis of Prussia

One of many fascinating self-portraits.
She painted many portraits of her third husband, Preston Carter,  who must have liked to model for her.  They were known to be reclusive, but it looks like they had a good time on their own.  Carter died in 2007, and Craig's house suffered an electrical fire in 2008.  Undaunted, Craig painted even bigger and more complicated paintings based on classical mythology and religious symbols.  She also painted a powerful  allegory Abu Graib: The Disasters of War.
I'll have to take comfort  that my pots of brushes and knives, and my  palette have a passing resemblance to hers.  I'll need another life and lifetime for my figurative paintings and portraits to come close.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Showing Up. And Luck

 Greetings from the land of the lost.  It is my intention to write brief entries more frequently.
Please comment!  I'd like to have conversations with readers, like minded or not -- rather than sparring matches with Facebook Friends.

Anyway:  A nearby town has a big todo for July 4th every year, including a judged art show.  I entered once a couple of years ago and actually won ribbons on two(!) paintings. 
This year, I had more paintings to chose from, but kind of didn't make a big deal about it in my mind.  I was participating to support my colleagues, cohorts and friends.

But I got a call tonight that I've won an award.  It will be given at an artist's reception Saturday (which I don't think I can attend because my kids and grandkids are coming to our place for an actual family picnic!!!)

I like each of the three paintings I submitted, but they are SO different in my mind: They reflect varying goals, moods, techniques and instruction.  I can hardly wait to see what won what.

There are some cash prizes, too, but THAT would be too, too much.  I'll just be happy to have a new ribbon.  AND, maybe a sold painting!

Monday, May 23, 2016

One new and one familiar way to spend A LOT OF TIME

When you go into a neglected closet and find craft materials, you never know what will happen next.
I found my embroidery floss stash, completed one project and sketched out another.

And I yielded to my wish to invest in wool for rug hooking. Made the 50 mile trip to Kennebunk and the highly recommended Wool Camp. Wow, they had beautiful fabrics for hooking, wool appliqué and specialty threads and buttons for embellishment.

Below is an ambitious design with pine trees, a sunset, a moon and shadows.  I've hooked about a quarter of it. It is to be a gift, so I can't say too much!

And lest you think I'm not painting any more, I entered the  Westford (MA) Regional Art Show. What won awards and what sold to visitors helps me know that this particular show is  primarily more traditional conservative than I am when it comes to painting: perhaps less so when it is photography.

 The little village above is what I get when I paint "out of my head" and feel a little whimsical.  Houses on the move.
 And then I also keep trying to capture the glory of a cranberry bog.  Diabolical challenge!  Come October, I'll be taking more reference photographs and trying again.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

They liked it, they really liked it!

It has been quite a month.  For me at least.  I crocheted a baby afghan and a baby elephant.  I co-arranged/hosted a baby shower for my first born who is having HER first born.

The cat and Dear Husband wondered if I was ever going to simmer down.

 Once I realized that a) I didn't have to cook food for the whole guest list, b) host it at my house, c) clean my house, things looked more feasible.  Two of my talented PEO sisters helped.  Ella made the cake (chocolate on the top, vanilla on the bottom) with cute fondant elephants.

 Kimberly made the flower arrangements (and a box to transport them in... NO SPILLS!).

The honoree's college roommate and I made arrangements with Country Tavern in Nashua, NH to have brunch with a room to ourselves.  (Historical:  built in 1741 and reputed to be  haunted.) Karen and John were terrific about providing extra plates, cake servers, and advice about table arrangement.

In spite of all the sweets on the brunch table, everyone had cake and it received many compliments.  At Karen's suggestion, we divided what was "left over" into generous servings in take home containers.  Some spouses, children or guests were going to get seconds later!
 My daughter was glowing as was her wife.  The guest list was friends and family, so their were college chums, sisters in law, and book club members.  Love, gifts and good humor were abundant.

There were activities!
  • A list of wishes for the baby
  • Matching numbers of days for gestation for 10 mammals (The highest scores were 40%).
  • Baby Bingo with prizes
 The onesie with the angle on it says:  Acute Baby.  Puns run in the family.
 I couldn't resist providing the new mom with a replica of HER favorite baby blanket.  Apparently she still likes it!

D-day is in January. There will be lots more pictures then.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Nova Scotia Holiday Part II: Lunenberg and Mahone Bay

 Even though it has been almost one month since we returned from our adventure in the Maritime provinces of Canada, I am trying to take this broadside's advice!

Since I've not sailed much, I have no idea how captains "work" except to give orders.  I think I could do that.  Of course they have minions, gobs, jacks, salts, sea dogs, seafarers, swabs, and swabbies I think even pirate captains have them.  I'm focusing on working AND playing more and harder.

Saturday dawned bright and clear and cool.  Below is the view of Lunenburg from across the bay, near our motel. It is a UNESCO site; which among other things means it is really cute and picturesque.  The ten official criteria can be found HERE.


 We explored some of the residential areas, examined the Lunenburg Art Gallery map,  and then explored Lincoln Street seemed to have the highest density of art galleries, shops and studios.

The Quartet Gallery was bright, the gallery sitter was friendly, and there was lots to like.  I could easily imagine putting my paintings in a similar gallery!

Across the street was the Peer Gallery.  I had the good fortune to be there the day that Barbara McClean was sitting at the desk.  She indicated that the Peers' artists actually had art degrees rather than being (more or less) self taught. I think they take themselves more seriously than the Quartet Gallery (and prices reflected that); but as always, one's taste in art is highly subjective!
The late arrival of an almost life-sized elephant at an import store was an unexpected photographic opportunity!

 That the colors were inspiring, bright and uplifting is something I was reminded of at least a thousand times.

And then I came to the gallery/studio of Laurie Swim.  Although I was not familiar with her work, she is apparently well known in artistic quilting circles.  Her works were exquisite, creative, and clearly works of art--- not "just" craft.  Below is one of her early works, Eve's Apple Revisited.

I think her pieces have been published in many articles and books.  Talk about Working like a Captain... She has a website AND is on Facebook.  
I doubt that many individuals can afford to buy her works, but banks, towns and museums have done so.  She has beautifully photographed prints of many of her works which came in a variety of sizes and were more affordable.

There was a store called Dots and Loops that had an abundance of local and/or handmade items.

There may have been other shops not on the map.  It was overwhelming!

I thought the rocks with bills, bows and duck feet were funny.  I'd probably make mine into sheep.

 St. John's Anglican Church was extremely distinctive.  We didn't go inside or attend services.  I'm wondering if "Anglican" churches in Canada are the progressives (like Episcopal churches in the US), or whether they are like the conservative parishes in the US which call themselves Anglican.  Episcopal churches have a history of many and varied schisms!

An interesting building on the top of the hill is the Lunenburg Academy, built in the 1800's.  Currently it is the home to the Lunenburg Academy of Musical Performance. Next time we visit, I want to hear some concerts!

Does your town still have any buildings from the EARLY 1800's? 

When we were sated with Lunenburg art and architecture (and our feet were aching),  we headed inland (we thought) and ended up in another charming town called Mahone Bay.

The Gazebo Cafe and Grill looked promising AND had its own parking lot.  We ate on the deck at the back and enjoyed the food, the friendly couple at the next table, AND the view.  I notice that the Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews vary tremendously.  I suspect that service may be frazzled at peak season.  Our visit on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend found us in the company of Halifax day-trippers, but not trampled by hordes of international tourists. My sense is that the chef/owner cares as much about the quality of HIS life as the quality of the restaurant.  Can't blame him.


 And THEN, DH said I could visit the yarn store that we just happened to find.  (I'd found it via a web search, but not knowing the territory, didn't realize I'd actually be able to pet the yarn!

 There was SO much variety!  Any so many yarns that I had never heard of... at almost every price point.

I discovered several yarn shops that carried yarn by "Fleece Artist" who seems to both spin and dye her own yarn.  (There is a fleece processor on Prince Edward Island that is known for processing one fleece at a time... so you can know that your yarn came from Daisy or Suzie.)
 Murrina by Estelle is a blend of Merino Wool, Acrylic and Viscose.  I'm a sucker for novelty yarns when they are still in their little yarn cakes!
 I'm thinking of doing more Fair Isle Knitting.  This time WITH a steek!

Isn't the Handspun (below) amazing?

 Sea Silk is a newish yarn with a blend of silk and fiber from seaweed.  Both fibers are renewable, which I think is a good thing.  Oh, and they feel, um, silky!

  I do believe the yarn above is a combination of Merino and "brush tail possum."  Apparently New Zealand has nearly been over-run by non-native possums and only in the past decade or two have they figured how to spin it.  It's been used by high fashion houses in Paris, and is now on the market for weavers and knitters.  If they can make fancy (and expensive yarn from Mink, musk ox (Quivit) and their cousins, I guess possum would be OK, too.   Probably not my first thought-- but then I thought it was strange when, as a child, I met a woman who saved the clippings from her poodle and had them spun into yarn.

Stay tuned for Peggy's Cove and Halifax.