Tuesday, September 30, 2008

If You Chastise Me, I Will Blog

Thank you Anya, for shaming me into shape.  

I've been making progress!  I'm excited about this latest piece:
I'm particularly enthralled by the giant pitcher plants hanging in the trees.  I found some books on carnivorous plants in the library, and they've been a delicious source of inspiration.  

In art-business-related news, all of my paintings are currently hanging out in the world, instead of just sadly languishing in my studio, wrapped in their cardboard.   Aside from my show at LynnArts, I also have a little mini show up at the Newton Highlands branch of Brookline Bank. The New Art Center in Newton has a little satellite gallery there.   The work I put up is older stuff, but I was really happy with the way the little group came together.  I'll have to bring my camera back and take some pictures.  The paintings will be up in Newton Highlands for about three months, after which they will move to the Newtonville Branch to cross-publicize for my January–February show at the New Art Center proper.  Whew, that's a bit complicated.  In any case, all of my paintings are out there being looked at by people.  And I have even more, exciting opportunities coming up.  It also made me feel good and sort of special to be invited to hang my work, instead of having to apply.  It makes me feel like I'm going about this crazy artist life the right way.  Even if commercial gallery representation still eludes me.  That reminds me, I keep hearing about what tough times these are for art galleries.  Allston-Skirt closed down, and Pepper is closing too.  Geez.

My books on tape are working wonders for my concentration.  Now I just have to get to the studio a bit earlier in the morning and I'll be back in full swing.  

Here are some of my favorite one-hour paintings:This one is dedicated to my mom and stepdad, who have been collecting enormous amounts of horse chestnuts from their town green to use in my wedding centerpieces.  

And here's the little group of them.  Tomorrow I'm going to start my day with another one of these tiny paintings.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My tiny little attention span

In my last post I mentioned that this new painting was coming along much more easily than my previous large scale watercolor and gouache monsters.  If you read that last post, you may be wondering why (after looking at the image below) I've made so little progress over the past five days.
The reason is embarrassing, but I'll tell you anyway:  wedding brain.  

Lately I have been daydreaming about things I never thought I would ever care about in a billion years.  Like centerpieces.  Centerpieces.  And these wedding reveries have consumed other parts of my brain, such as those related to painting and (as I look around) housecleaning.  The problem is that I am incredibly excited.  But this is not sustainable.  We still have two full months to go and I need/want to focus on my work and make new things.  My hope is that once we get our invitations out and finalize things with our vendors and the minister, I will emerge from my wedding-obsessed cocoon able resume my normal life.  But just in case, I've taken active measures to get my focus back on track.

At the start of each day I'm going to make one tiny painting from start to finish.  I'm only allowed to spend one hour on it–no more.  When the hour is up, it is what it is.  I'm going to track these and see what happens.  I didn't think of this until the end of the day today, but during that one hour I did not have a single fantasy about place cards.  If I try doing this at the beginning of my day tomorrow, maybe I'll be able to keep that focus and channel it to my other work.  

Here is today's tiny painting: 
I think I should also get some new books on tape from the library.  They always work to clear my mind.  

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ribbonscape Anxiety, Anne Boleyn and Chapel Trains

I've been working on this new painting:So far I really like it, and it seems to be coming along more easily than my birdcage landscapes. Ribbons are much more forgiving than birdcages; no ellipses or mechanical perspective formulas to wrestle with, no painstaking, unforgiving invention.  So far, I just set up my ribbons in the studio and paint directly from them, adding in imaginary vegetation (critters coming soon) as I go.  To be honest, I actually feel kind of guilty and a little bit worried about the relative ease of this piece.  Is it O.K. for work to be painless?  I've been operating under the assumption that struggle leads to depth.  Without challenge and discomfort will my work be any good?  Will it be as interesting as my more embattled compositions?  I'm thinking of the difference between Benicio del Toro and Matthew McConaughey and I'm feeling a tad nervous.  But I'm probably getting ahead of myself (as I am often wont to do).  I'm still in the early stages of the piece, and there's still plenty of room left for agony.  

I should really take up chain-smoking and start wearing all black.

In other news, I started playing around with my Henry VIII paper dolls:

There is a good chance that this will turn into nothing more than a goofy personal shrine to my obsession with Anne Boleyn and everything else Tudor, but I've learned not to dismiss my creative impulses.  And it might turn into something interesting.  The book pages that I collaged onto her dress are pages about Anne Boleyn, taken from an old used book I had that had fallen apart.

On a personal note, when I look down at myself, this is what I typically see:
So I think of myself as being kind of scrubby and low maintenance.

But I've been discovering lately that I am secretly fancy.  We went to try on wedding bands.  I thought I wanted the plain circle of platinum.  Left with the circle of diamonds.  Went to try on wedding dresses, thinking I  wanted something very simple.  Left, giddily, with the chapel train and veil. And not just a short, little veil, a fingertip veil.  Notice my frightening familiarity with wedding attire terminology.  Chapel train.  Fingertip veil.  It's O.K.  I'm scared too.  Luckily, my future husband seems to think it's hilarious.  This morning he even mentioned something about writing a book....

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ribbons are the New Bird Cages

Most people use the term, "watching paint dry," as a negatively charged simile:  "That movie was so boring, it was like watching paint dry."  But I use the term literally, and to tell you the truth, it's really kind of a relaxing way to spend one's day.  Since watercolor changes so much as it dries, it also makes watching it kind of interesting.  Not exciting, but definitely interesting. I'm experimenting with a brighter, more purple background color for my latest piece, so I was eager to see how things turned out after I applied each layer.  
And here's a ribbon river set up in my studio:
Don'tcha know, ribbons are the new bird cages.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Phat Loots

Yesterday I went nature-romping to gather inspiration for my next series.  I saw these pitcher plants at The Garden in the Woods in Framingham:I also saw a very majestic-looking frog and several painted turtles in the lily pond there, all of whom made me wish (once again) that I had a zoom lens, or at least a pair of waders.  I do, however, finally have a UV filter on my 28mm, so that removing my lens cap no longer feels so dangerous.  

I also bought 45 yards of ribbon at Playtime in Arlington.  I have a plan for all of this ribbon, which will reveal itself over the course of the next few weeks.  But right now it's time for a little tangent about Playtime.  Cue music.

I love Playtime.  They have the best, strangest, most disorganized array (is that an oxymoron, and can disarray be used as a noun?) of art supplies, craft supplies, party supplies, coloring books, and of course Queen Elizabeth paper dolls, this side of the Mississip.  Playtime is also fodder for excellent, quirky anecdotes.  The ladies who work there are very nice, but sometimes they don't know a lot about the fine art supplies that they carry.  I once plunked a big roll of drawing paper up on the counter to pay, and was met with a great deal of confusion.  "What is this?  Where did you find it?  Was there a price on it?  I've never seen this before."  But the ladies are quite helpful in other ways.  Not overly helpful, like "Overly Helpful Librarian" in the Wellesley College science center (a story for another day), but helpful in an even more surprising way.  You know when you go to a car dealership,  or a mattress store, and the sales person makes you squirm with the feeling that you're about to be sold up against you're will?  You know that you don't want to buy the all-season super-deluxe car mats, or the special, $70 mattress cover.  But the salesperson tries so hard and with so many different (albeit transparent) sales tactics, that you have to bring out your inner jerk-face in order to successfully shut him/her down?  Well that never happens at Playtime.  The ladies who work at Playtime check prices with disapproving clucks and raised eyebrows.  At the register, the cost of each paintbrush is reported to the customer in a skeptical tone, suggesting that no one in her right mind should pay $5 for such a little brush.  I was once seduced, while wandering through the aisles, by a gorgeous, super-soft, super-deluxe $65 sable brush.  This was too much for the lady behind the counter.  She flat out refused to sell it to me.  "Oh my God, this is $65!  Oh, noooo.  You don't want this!"  

Oh, Playtime, I do love you.

End tangent.

Yesterday I also snapped a whole bunch of pictures of my mom and stepdad's garden to tide me over with garden/nature imagery until next spring.  

I also made off with some more phat loots:

And look at the view we discovered this past weekend, just a little uphill walk from our own backyard in the Waltham Highlands: