June 25, 2007

Cornwall Harbour
oil on canvas
30" x 30"

Looking to See

This painting, completed last week, was inspired by the view from the flagpole, which is where you get to if you climb up behind our family cottage in Boscastle, Cornwall. Roo came here on summer holidays when he was a child, and this is now a favorite spot of mine as well. Eventually, we'd like to live part of the year in this wild and wonderful part of the world.

I've painted the landscape abstractly, especially the colors, and the result is quite dramatic. I'm starting to understand that when I really see something, it often looks different than my mind tells me it should. This aspect of painting amazes me. The image I've painted as an abstract actually looks more real than the photograph I used for a reference.

When Roo and I had breakfast this morning in the room where the painting is hanging, it felt like we were really there. It was good to be there. The air in Boscastle is fresh, cool and clean. We have a new nephew, born there on the Solstice, bringing a sense of renewal to us all. Until we can actually visit next, that painting will be our window on that delightful world.

I trust you'll see something wondrous when you look at something you already think you know.

June 19, 2007

Atlanta Spring
12" x 16"
oil on canvas

Encouragement from Helen Keller

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker."

June 18, 2007

Pond Color
30" x 30"
oil on canvas

A Perfect Painting?

When I brought "Pond Color" to show my dealer last week, David pronounced it a "perfect painting." I don't know about that, but I do like it a lot. In this painting I took a visual idea that had been developing in several other images of Martha's Vineyard ponds to a new level. Who knew it was possible to use such brilliant colors in a landscape?!

I find it liberating to give myself permission to depart from what I believe are "realistic" colors. The result, in my view, is something that actually looks super-real, or surreal. I couldn't take my eyes off this baby for days. Something about that strip of lemony-green marsh, and that juicy light-filled evergreen, and the lavender cloud bank that keeps drawing me back to look again and again.

Now the painting has a new, albeit temporary home at The David Gallery. If you're in the neighborhood (365 Peachtree Hills Ave., Atlanta), stop by and take a look for yourself. I'd love to know what happens to you when you view it.

Oh, I almost forgot .... You might also want to check out Bark for Art this Saturday evening at Timothy Tew's gallery from 7-9pm. Bark for Art is a benefit event for Atlanta Lab Rescue and Golden Retriever Rescue. $25 at the door gets you both great food and great art. I've donated a painting for the silent auction so I hope you'll stop by and support a good cause. The David Gallery will also be open during the event so you can double your viewing pleasure. For more info, visit
www. timothytew.com/index.php?id=83.

June 10, 2007

Pine Lake Bench
oil on canvas
16" x 20"

To Value Art is To Live With It

Once I've finished a painting, it sometimes seems to sit there asking to be seen by someone other than me. After I've shown what I've done to my husband (who usually can suggest a few improvements) and my mother (who marvels at everything she sees), I naturally look for ways for others to enjoy the work.

The audience, after all, is the reason to paint, isn't it? I'm not the only artist who wrestles with how to get their paintings into the public eye and, ideally, into the marketplace. If someone will buy the work, we reason, it must have been worth painting.

Unfortunately, if the painting isn't gobbled up by an eager collector, some will conclude that it must not have been worth the effort to begin with. If they are prolific painters, they may resent the growing body of work that sits stacked in a dark corner, and, in extreme cases, stop making new art. Some actually avoid the discomfort of unsold work by burning their paintings in huge purpose-built bonfires. (Note: I almost burned the canvas that "Pine Lake Bench" above was painted on -- what a waste!)

As I am one of those painters who often makes several paintings in a week, I've also had to reckon with the disposition of an accumulating stack of painted canvas. In part, this blog is one way of solving the problem. If you're reading this, you've probably seen the image of one of my paintings I've posted alongside. If so, I've perhaps accomplished part of my aim -- to serve the impulse that inspired me to paint in the first place. If not, there must have been some other value to the work than that you behold it!

In the past week, I've been one of millions who view the work of other artists online. For the most part I've spent less than 30 seconds looking at any given image. Sadly, I can hardly call this activity art "appreciation." The valuing of art (or anything else for that matter!) requires more than a quick glance (or even the recommendation of an "expert")-- true appreciation takes a committed relationship, more like a marriage, than a cheap thrill or one-night stand.

For example, a painting I bought in Vieques several years ago cost me $1400. That's the price for which the artist, Alec Moseley, had decided he'd be willing to let it go for, the one that assured him his efforts would be valued. Because I'd fallen in love with his image of a sunny Vieques hillside, I was willing to pay the price to bring it home forever.

I'm so glad I did -- it's been worth every cent! I find something to enjoy about it every time I look at it, often something I haven't seen before. And, each time I look at Alec's work, I get a great energetic hit of his great passion for painting -- all of this without having to travel to Puerto Rico.

I receive something from every piece of art, including my own, that I sit with over time. From the beauty of the colors and composition to the pleasure of seeing through the painting into another time and place, I'm find I'm actually quite content to enjoy my paintings for as long they are with me. Then, when someone else falls in love and commits to, i.e. pays for, a live-in relationship with it, I'm really ready to let it go to a new home, where it will be cherished by others in months and years to come.

Art dealers often let prospective buyers take a painting home on approval. While not always practical, when it is, it's a great way to take the step of courting a new piece of art before making a purchase. In that spirit, if you see an image ofthat you're drawn to, I'd be glad to make arrangements with you to bring one of my paintings into your home. Just let me know by replying to this post. If you're not ready for a deeper commitment (yet), please feel free to flirt with whatever catches your eye in the moment!

June 4, 2007

Blue Ridge Vista
oil on linen
12" x 16"

A few weeks ago I felt a strong urge to paint from a high place so I could see distant places. (There are times, once the trees have leafed, when where I live feels like a prison of green!) Unable to think of any reason not to go -- how I can avoid my bliss -- I threw my painting gear in the back of my car and headed to North Carolina.

I'd thought to go to a spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway near a backpacking trail I'd used a long time ago. When I arrived, however, the place was shrouded in dark cloud cover. Still, I painted, happy to be in the cool, fresh air.

The next day was much brighter. I set out for the Parkway once again as I would for the next three days. As I drove up and down looking for painting places, I stopped repeatedly at one particular overlook. There was a budding tree that grabbed my attention as well as purple mountains rolling off to the horizon. I wasn't until I was headed home that I submitted to my desire to paint the scene, the one depicted above in Blue Ridge Vista. I felt complete.

The impulse to paint in high places derives perhaps from an intuition that, from time to time, it is good to get above it all. Some find transcendence an escape. For me it's a touchstone with Reality, a place to know that in the Big Picture, it's all already alright. Before I was a painter, meditation served a similar purpose. Now, I am able to produce an image from that space of Being and bring it back down to where things seem more easily obscured. As you can see, I've got a great job!

June 3, 2007

Juicy Fruit
oil on canvas
8" x 10"
$420 unframed

This morning I visited my tomato patch for the first time in two weeks. When I left for a recent painting trip to Martha's Vineyard, the plants were barely a foot tall. Now they're three or more times that size with bunches of flowers and baby tomatoes.

Things grow even in my absence -- a good thing since I'm away a lot. Last June, sorry to be leaving home just as the tomatoes were coming in, I tucked a couple in my suitcase and let them ripen in the Puerto Rican sun. Then, I painted the biggest one (seen above in "Juicy Fruit") and ate it.

I realize, though, that even when I'm "here," I'm prone to stressful thoughts of hyper-responsibility that remove me from present reality. It's true that I must do my part in any endeavor. But, no matter how hard I try, I cannot make something grow. Everything, it seems, has a life and timing of its own.

What's true for garden vegetables seems to apply to any creative process. It's okay to take a break and simply watch what you've planted bear its juicy fruit. And, then, if you're so inclined, paint its picture.

June 2, 2007

Springtime Grays
oil on canvas
9" x 12"
$560 unframed

A friend commented recently that I'm not much fun anymore -- all I want to do is paint. Not true, I replied, there's nothing more fun to me than painting. And, really, painting is more than simple fun. This is no hobby. Art is a way of life.

In the four years I've been painting my way of being in the world has changed significantly. I see things differently. Well, not just differently. I actually see more now than I used to. No longer content to simply go someplace, I find myself composing a picture wherever I go. I struggle to identify the shade of blue-green-gray I'd use to render distant tree-covered hills, not as before when my angst would be to figure out the meaning of life.

I'd rather be painting than reading or meditating or discussing the way of things. Painting is like pigment itself -- the thick of Life. Give me a brush and I'll show you how the present moment looks to me.
My husband remarks that living with me has allowed him to witness the evolution of an artist firsthand. He married a Unity minister and now he's got someone who goes a bit nutty if away from her easel for more than a day.

I know there are a lot of people who consider painting to be a hobby, and view me as another middle-aging woman filling up the hours of a vacant early retirement. But few today have the luxury (or, honestly, the desire) for merely dabbling in "the arts." Certainly, I don't. I want not only to make art for my own enjoyment but also for for my work to seen by others, subjected to their critical eye, and valued in the marketplace. In other words, even though I'm 55, I am not a hobbyist but a budding professional, what's called in the art world an "emerging artist."

If you're someone who's always thought artists were another breed of humanity, you might find it interesting to realize that ordinary people who didn't draw a lot when they were little, or show a particular aptitude for art, do in fact turn out to be artists. (I was an R.N. for many years before my ordination.) You might discover that you who love watching other people make art, may also long to do art yourself. Maybe you'll be inspired by my words to splash some paint on a canvas one day. In any case, I feel called to share my experience of waking up mid-life to a new vocation, and to show you the fruits of my labor.

This writing by George Bernard Shaw sums up quite nicely my passion for Life and seems like a good way to inaugurate this round of blogging:

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I wan to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."

George Bernard Shaw