Thursday, May 29, 2008

What's that? Could I please post my painfully slow progress on this painting 50 more times?  You bet.  But please pardon the blurriness on this one.  Yikes!

My attention span is back under control.  I've been working really hard these past couple of days, and the beanstalk forest is starting to look all nice and tangled.  Today, after six steady hours of painting these vines, I took a break and added a tiny portrait of my Nalgene bottle right there, next to the tent.  

I also finally bought two cd's that I've been coveting forever: Dengue Fever's Venus on Earth and Regina Spektor's Begin to Hope.  I have several songs from the latter on my ipod, but I restrained myself and didn't download the whole album so that I could one day indulge in the real, physical complete-with-liner-notes cd.  Besides, those earbuds that came with my ipod constantly fall out of my ears and irritate me.  I mean really irritate me.  Another thing that I'm coveting is one of those ipod speaker things, but I also covet things like food, clothing and shelter, so I choose to pace myself.

I'm reading an extremely fragile copy of The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Paul Rival.  I am completely, morbidly, fascinated by anything and everything having to do with Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.  But not those Philippa Gregory books.  Don't get me wrong, of course I've read them (yes, all of them), but I'm kind of ashamed of this fact, and I didn't pack them to bring to my new house, which I believe is the true test of how one truly feels about a book.  Anyway, I have spent significant amounts of time analyzing my fascination with the Tudors et al, and my conclusion is, quite simply, that their lives, actions, political and psychological motivations make for a really good story.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Delinquent Painter in a Green, Green World

Over the weekend my bean plant turned into something from "Little Shop of Horrors."  The biggest leaves are only slightly smaller than my hand, and are part of the sprout that was, as of last Friday, the runt of the litter.  I love this stage of growth because you can actually see the tendrils moving if you look carefully enough.  I find the reaching gestures of these tropisms so creaturely that I start thinking of the plant as a pet.  One day last year I was sitting for a while with my back turned to my bean plant, and a tendril actually reached into my hair and tangled itself up.  

Things are growing and glowing green outside of my studio as well.  The rain has turned everything the brightest shade of green, including the tree outside my bedroom window:

I was a delinquent blogger last week, mostly because I was also a delinquent and unfocused painter.  If I had a nickel for every minute I spent staring off into space....

But no more!  I truly need to get my butt back in gear because I will be teaching full time almost all summer, so my studio time will suffer a bit.  This means that I must seize the day and begin planning for my LynnArts show in September.  I'm extremely excited about this show and I want to unveil lots of new work, so I've hatched a plan of attack to allow for maximum productivity:  I'm going to (oh my God, finish it already!) finish the above tent-birdcage-beanstalk painting that has been languishing in my studio for the last millennium.  Last week I averaged only one new beanstalk per day, which is completely unacceptable.  Next, I will start another big landscape piece over the course of the next few weeks, while I have longer stretches of time to develop the imagery.  Once I start my summer teaching extravaganza I will come back to my smaller, simpler egg portraits and my series of birds on tea-stained paper.  These little paintings will be a lot easier for me to work on when I'm really exhausted after work.  

So there it is.  That's the plan.  Wait a minute!  I haven't been slacking after all!  I've been strategizing.  Yeah, that's it.  Strategizing.

Last week I also made this picture of jumbo downy woodpeckers menacing a house in Newton.  
I like these paintings (see my previous few posts), because if you don't look carefully, you miss the strange scale.  At first glance the houses just look like bird houses.  I'm going to put more obvious clues in the next installments of this series.  I envision a large installation of these pieces, where the more obviously menacing scale of the birds in some paintings (ie. chickadee hauling off a VW van) might make the viewer revisit these more subtle images and discover their strangeness.  

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Here's a Giant Gold-Crowned Kinglet on the roof of a house in Newton.  

I like the conversation the kinglet has with the red polls from this other piece.  Each painting is tiny, only 6" x 7".  I'm thinking about old journals, Audubon, and adding a little sci fi to the traditional field guide.  And bird houses.  

And I made this little commission in acrylic last week.  

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Raspberry Kind of Day

Today was a great day.  A raspberry kind of day.  Another painting found another great home, so I celebrated with a fruit splurge at Whole Foods.  Raspberries were on sale–two cartons for $6!  I ate this whole container and still have another one left for tomorrow.  This makes me incredibly giddy, as does the latest REI catalogue:  
Am I in the market for a tent?  No.  We have a fabulous tent that I suspect my boyfriend may have been scared into buying after the "Memorial Day Snow Storm Backpacking Extravaganza."  I won't give details, but at one point we got to use some survival skills, and it was decided afterwards that a super deluxe tent would be a wise investment.  So I don't need to buy a new tent, I just love painting tent portraits.  So thank you, REI, for the pages and pages and pages of tents in all different shapes and colors.   They will make excellent models.  

I was reading Jeana Sohn's blog the other day and she had posted these beautiful little paintings she made on vintage paper.  The paper reminded me of my own faux vintage papers, the ones I stained with tea a few weeks ago.  I was inspired to pull them back out and play around with them a bit more.  Here's what I came up with:
These faster little paintings I have been making are becoming as addictive (but in a healthy, less brain draining way) as Snood.  For those of you who are not familiar with Snood, you are better off maintaining this particular bit of ignorance.  I can have just one cookie, or one Margarita, but I literally cannot have just one game of Snood.  

I also worked on a little commission for a friend, who is going to give it to someone as a gift.  I'll post it after it has been given, just in case the future recipient discovers my blog in the meantime.  Unlikely, but not impossible! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I added more vines to this monster.  

And made some little adjustments to this guy--I shortened his beak, got rid of one shadow, and added another.  I like working on these tiny little pieces.  Such immediate gratification is refreshing!  

There are a thousand things I want to work on all at once.  Whenever I come up with a new idea I can't wait to begin playing around with it, even if I haven't finished my last crazy brain-child.  The result is that I am now chipping away at six (a thousand was a bit of an exaggeration) works in progress.  I hereby declare that I will not start another new piece until I have finished four of the current six.  O.K. three.  I have to finish three before I can start something else.  

In other news, my painting, Midnight, Moonlight Magnolias, found a very good home this weekend.  Yay!  It's so much easier to part with them when they go to people I adore.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The cardinal finally got his mate today.  I borrowed their clothes from an actual husband and wife in one of my vintage photos from the early 1900's.  But the distortion caused by curve of the egg in the photo above makes the female cardinal look kind of like one of those head- bopping club guys from Saturday Night Live.  

What is Love?  
Baby don't hurt me, 
don't hurt me 
no more.  

I'm doing the head-bopping right now.

I also made this goldfinch dude.  See his little pocket square? Ew, that little black shadow on his shoulder has got to go first thing tomorrow.

And here they are all together.  

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More Eggs

I was a space shot in the studio yesterday, but I did paint some more eggs with flat color.  I like them the way they are, but I plan to paint bird portraits on them.  Leaving them monochromatic would be too easy, and I don't trust easy paintings.  These little portraits are inspired by many things, including British regency period miniature paintings.  Oh, Jane Austen, I love you!  I also worked more on my bean plants, but I didn't take a picture.  

The opening for my Weston Public Library show is this afternoon.  I hope all of the paintings are still hanging securely on the walls!  

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I worked on the beanstalks this week.  Here's a play by play:



The week started out slowly, but I'm picking up momentum, so I'm not beating myself up too badly.  Today I also made this little fellow on this wooden egg I found in my studio:
He makes me smile.  I'm going to make him a mate tomorrow.  Also, my fingernails (or hands for that matter) never look this clean.  Maybe my camera filters out paint smears and charcoal grime from the subject.

I'm reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being and I think it's triggering a mild existential crisis.  What is the point of my work?  Does it even have a purpose?  Does it even matter to anyone but me?  Every once in a while I fret over these kinds of questions.  But I have an antidote tacked to my studio wall: 
This article by Mark Heath, a cartoonist/writer.  I've had this article so long that I can't remember where I found it.  Here's a little piece that I find particularly wise and soothing:

"At an art show last year I saw a painting of a bullfrog, a rather rubbery and benevolent portrait.  I never spoke to the artist.  As far as he knows, the portrait meant nothing to me.  But the painting lent the frog a comic dignity I can't forget.  it's shading my memory, and now it's probably shading yours, too.  If you believe in the chain of humanity that each one of us is meant to influence someone else–be it as a parent, spouse, friend or patron of frogs–then surely your art, regardless of recorded history, will strike a common chord of two in someone else."
–Mark Heath

Monday, May 5, 2008

I Heart Beanstalks

Working on these great big monumental paintings makes me feel like all is right with the universe.  I've been missing gouache on paper!

I also worked more on this piece last week.  

Friday, May 2, 2008


I went to the library this morning, 17 paintings in tow, ready to hang.  A member to the Arts and Exhibitions Committee was supposed to meet me there to show me how to use the gallery hanging system (which I ultimately learned to distrust/hate).  But he/she never showed.  One of the librarians finally showed me where to find the hanging tools, hooks, etc.  The stuff was in an absolute tangle.  And I wasn't sure what kind of weight capacity I was dealing with.  I was slightly frustrated, but undeterred.  My stepdad arrived to help me.  We began to get a handle on the "system."  We hung Fish Rain.  It looked good.  We hung Into the Wood and I stood back.  Suddenly, the "system" failed and the painting came crashing to the ground.  I could actually feel myself go pale.  The instant it hit, I saw the (ridiculously expensive!) frame break.  Thank God for plexi glass, because the whole thing stayed basically intact, despite the crack along the bottom edge of the wood, and a partially detached corner, which my stepdad kind of hammered back together while I swooned nearby.   The backing behind the painting also got torqued, and partially shoved forward, but it's not that noticeable from a distance.  So I'm going to leave it in the show as is.  If no one buys it I will get it fixed at the end of the month.  Even though it is eating away at my soul.  I sooo can't wait for my economic stimulus check!