Friday, December 24, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Holidays

Escape, ink on paper
It's that time of year.  I think of leaving until mid-January--a cruise might be nice (although there have been rough waters recently).

Evidently, escape has always been on my mind.  When I was four or five, I'd borrow Mom's high heels, get her pocketbook, and wait for the Greyhound bus to take me away.  Odd, isn't it, that my parents allowed me to play beside the highway?

When I get the stance right, this will be a painting.  Okay, maybe I'll work on my size, too--I'm taller than the Amoco sign!  For the drawing, I moved the King Edward Cigar sign (great for target-practice) across the road.

Happy Holidays.  I'll be working on cards, shopping, and minimal decorating (nothing stops me from drawing, though). 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Cleaning Ladies?

This is what the house looked like when we moved back in after remodeling five years ago.  This is what I hope the house will look like again.  The cleaning ladies never showed up--we hired them as a favor to a friend.  Was it because I said "no copper polish, no Pledge on my furniture, and no scouring of the countertop?"  Was it me?  Was the floor too much?  Too much dirt?   I think I'm more relieved than disappointed (and a bit ticked off that I got out of bed early--8 a.m.).  

Dave and I were not surprised when they didn't show; it's a common occurrence here in southern Virginia.  Contractors and workers smile and take measurements and say "yes;" many never return or call.  Later--when you meet at restaurants or parties--everyone pretends that all is well.  I pitch their cards.

I am pleased that, after my frantic prep work, there's a chance the house will be ready for the Holidays.  Tomorrow is art day at the YMCA--no cleaning.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adolescent Pears

Adolescent Pears, pencil on cover stock, 7x7

I bought some Luminance 6901 pencils--they are wonderful on hot-press water color paper.  Of course, I drew this on computer cover stock.  Why?  I was just sketching a scene that's been in my brain for several years,   I imagine fruits and vegetables play around when everyone's in bed.  I worked on this for several nights before falling asleep--and who needs a model for pears or cups?  Obviously, I do.  I thought I had cups that looked like these--I don't.  And try fitting a pear into a cup in this manner.   I got the countertop correct but these subway tiles are waaay too wide.  What the heck; I like it and had fun--I might just paint it.

I was drawing at night because I've been cleaning my house--anticipating the cleaning ladies who are scheduled to show up tomorrow.  First, I found my ironing board--buried under art supplies--and read directions for the steam iron (I skipped HomeEc).  I have washed and ironed seven ivory Pottery Barn linen drape/shades (I would have ordered new ones but they're no longer a Pottery Barn item); the window sills are clean; the top of my stove is clean; the dining room table is almost cleared of catalogs; the outside of the microwave is clean; most of the kitchen backsplash tile is clean; and I washed and ironed six hand-painted pillow covers.  Why do I like off-white and ivory?  Tonight I will tackle the inside of the microwave and clean the hard-to-reach corners of the backsplash.  Thank goodness the cleaning ladies aren't going upstairs--I'd be exhausted.  (The art supplies from atop the ironing board are piled on the floor.)

I'm beginning to think senescence is a lot like adolescence--tomorrow night I go back to playing for two weeks.  Maybe I can play neatly.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Copper Bowl and The Three Pears

Copper Bowl and The Three Pears, acrylic on 24x24 cradled panel
Several bloggers mentioned and recommended the book, Alla Prima, by Richard Schmid.  I bought it and read it--actually studied it.  Sometimes a little knowledge can be dangerous; sometimes ignorance is bliss.  I thought I'd whip out a painting from a pear photograph I had taken in my kitchen--I estimated it would be done in a couple of days.  I used open acrylics and set up a palette, forgoing my usual ketchup cup/paper plate method.  I was actually concerned that the painting might be so easy I'd lose interest.  Ha!

That was ten days ago.  I spent half a day looking for my copper bowl (it was hiding among other copper bowls) and I've eaten about twelve pears--I needed the real things.  I tried palette-knifing the dish towel.  It was interesting but did not look like my work; I spent half a day sanding those palette-knife marks.  Then there was a cricket-rescue from the utility sink in my studio--a major delay in cleaning brushes.  I wouldn't classify this painting as alla prima--more alla Hallie, although I resisted the urge to add a couple of bare feet in the background.  I think it's finished.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Garden Grew--and Grew

Homage to the South
This photograph (one succulent planted in an outgrown dog toy) represents 100 percent of my gardening during the past three years.  It sits on the front porch railing and is a nod to my roots, where petunias are sometimes planted in old tires.

We have very good grass cutters and leaf picker-uppers but it was time for more than maintenance.  Shrubs were overgrown, ivy was reaching under the back porch of my workshop, and rose bushes were buried under hollies and camellias.  I found master gardener Kathy McNulty and asked her to stop by.  After walking around my yard, she told my neighbors (who were visiting on the porch) that she might be finished in 2012.  Kathy is quite the comedienne.  She showed up Tuesday at 10 a.m.--as promised--and set to work.
Kathy McNulty
She pruned the prickly hollies, shaped the camellia without disturbing the mockingbird's nest, unearthed the roses (which I replanted), shaped the unidentified huge shrub outside the kitchen window and left some shoots for the birds--they like to bounce after their baths and I enjoy watching.  We transplanted irises; she trimmed along the driveway and pointed out which trees and shrubs are beyond help and need to be removed.  She pulled everything to the curb--the town picks up.  While Kathy was doing the heavy work, I pulled up gobs of ivy that I had planted--underneath, I found two antique Bayonne NJ fire buckets, my practice golf balls, two croquet balls, and a bird bath. 
The Garden Ho
I moved my Bob Currier sculpture to the front yard.  Why was I working six straight hours a day alongside Kathy?  I'm uncomfortable letting someone else do my work.
November on Commerce Street
I don't rake, though.  After all the leaves fall, we'll have them picked up.  I'm off to the workshop and back to painting as soon as I can move without pain.  Kathy will be back in the Spring!

My small southern town--Clarksville VA--did a great job of picking up the debris.

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Quick Draw" in Halifax VA

Untitled, acrylic on panel, 14x11

I know--my paintings always have titles (this looks a bit like Boy George or the redhead from Mad Men).  Those curlicues are part of the easel.

I'm a member of the Convergence Art Guild in Halifax VA.  On Thursday evening, the Halifax Chamber of Commerce and guests converged on the Guild and I was one of, I believe, ten artists who agreed to paint or draw something in just one hour; followed by a silent auction with proceeds going to the Guild.  During my 25-mile drive to the Guild I made the decision of what to paint--on Sunday I had seen a large floor model bullet-shaped chrome hair dryer at an estate sale; probably a 1950's model.  I didn't buy it ($50), I didn't photograph it, and I couldn't find it on Google--I remembered the shape and "Hoover."  Members and guests of the Chamber thought I might be painting the Pope (I thought of Sir Frances Bacon; others thought it might be a Bishop).  At 7 p.m. I signed the painting--larger than normal--and thought I'd be bringing it home where I'd follow Celeste Bergin's example--I'd sand it off and repaint. 

Wrong!  All the paintings sold.  The owner of this one is the Town Manager of Halifax, Carl Espy--young and handsome.  I was okay with the sale during most of my drive home.  Then it hit me--do I really want people to see this?  Can I ask Mr. Espy to attach a note to the painting explaining that it was done in one hour?  I think I have a plan.  There is a group show coming up next month.  I like the concept of this painting; with no audience and a bit more time I can paint a better version. And, with a bit more money, Mr. Espy can trade in this version for a new improved model!

It was an enjoyable evening.  The other artists produced good work; they were:  Don Bagwell, Peggy Blount, Maxine Dunninger, Dianne Hills, Nelly Z. Jones, Ron Miller, Rebecca Rodgers, Steve Schopen (who finished two), and I'm missing a name.  Had I been smart I would have gotten a bidder's number and brought some of those pieces home to Clarksville; I'm not sure that was allowed.  (I have photos of the other works but failed to get permission to include them on my blog.)

Oct 23.  I just received a compliment on my "Vacuum Pope."  (Maybe a title?)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Drawing What I See

The Only Way Out is Down 
acrylic ink, mixed media on Carte d'Art, 9x12

Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I see a image......a tv screen......a slide show.  I can recall the image(s) by closing my eyes again (I've done this my whole life).  These images appear with no accompanying thoughts.  I do think about them afterwards.  This one appeared several days ago and I decided to copy it onto paper (an aerial view).  I don't feel stuck; I'm not depressed; I don't think I'm seeing the future, or the past, or the now.

Does anyone else get this channel?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Meet-the-artists Reception October 9, 2010

6:55--We're ready.  Me, my brother Bob, my sister-in-law Mary
Margie and Terry McHose (sculptor)

Food and Wine
Carolyn and one of her arrangements

People showed up.

Some of us played.

My across-the-street neighbor, Larry, thinks his house should have been included in this painting.  Is it under the mat?
The bouncer kept everything in check.  (Watcher Woman is standing in the front yard of his childhood home.)

Thanks to everyone who came out and made this a great evening--even the weather was perfect.  My brother Bob and my sister-in-law Mary (former owners of a gallery in Pasadena) brought a bit of California to SOVA--a great combination. Yall should have been here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Showtime at MacCallum More Museum & Gardens

These photos were taken Wednesday when hanging was almost, but not quite, finished.   My sister-in-law helped me hang the show--she has a great eye and we work well together.  The exhibit opened yesterday--I didn't need a straight shot of Jack Daniels.  I celebrated with an old people's happy hour--a nap.  When I looked at my fifteen paintings hanging on the walls, I thought, "It looks like a group show!"   The wonderful wood pieces are by sculptor Terry McHose. 

I sold several paintings before the show opened and the meet-the-artists reception is next Saturday, the 9th.

The guest books from the last two shows were used as a mailing list (along with the museum's list).  Unfortunately, lots of guests didn't leave their addresses--just their names--and many people have P.O. boxes, so I'm taking a cue from the book, Freakonomics, and its discussion of incentives.  I framed the small watercolor "What Chicken?," and it will be a giveaway--place name & address in a vase; I will mail the work to the winner of the drawing.  I'll let you know how that works.

I included the painting below, "1963," in the exhibit only after she had a purpose.  She was propped against the wall for several months while I wondered why I had spent time on it.  I added a plastic cape--she's being groomed for all the careers open to women in the early 60s.  It will give viewers something to discuss (after they've discussed "He Beat His Mules"  which was retitled "The Spell").

Friday, September 24, 2010

Peopling Catalogs

I have been working hard getting ready for the exhibit but I get distracted--and tiredness begets silliness (which I love).  Along with frames, I ordered some acrylic inks.  I really wanted to play with the ink in those cute bottles--there was a Pottery Barn catalog nearby, and an ashtray with butts.  These are pages from the catalog, the blue ink, used cigarette filters, and an ink pen.  Recycling?  Yes.  And no clean-up!

These are some of the pages--I omitted the pole-dancing (actually, beam-dancing) woman.  I'm not sure using a catalog in this way is okay but it has my name on it (and I like their products).  I'll call this "The Blue  Women of (my town)" or "While You were Away."  DWR, Frontgate--I get all the catalogs.

Hmmm...........homemade recycled Holiday gifts for friends; everyone gets a catalog with surprise pages.

I don't know which I like best; I feel like the woman at the top.  Now it's back to work, playtime is over.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

If I Disappear for a While.........

Workshop/Studio--September 2010

If I disappear for a while, I can probably be found in the chaos of my workshop. I'm doing that last ten percent of work on several paintings because I will be exhibiting new works at MacCallum More Museum & Gardens beginning October 1. The exhibit will include works by sculptor Terry O'Hose; meet-the-artists reception will be Saturday October 9, 7 to 9 p.m.

Some pieces are out being matted and framed; some pieces need varnish (that's done on the back porch of the workshop); some pieces will be framed by me when the frames arrive on Tuesday (that's done on the guest house floor).

Also, workers will arrive Monday to paint our tin roof and power wash our house, guest house, and workshop. I'll need to be careful walking in and out of doors.

I was invited to exhibit paintings at the Arnold Library in South Hill VA; older works have hung there since September 1.

On October 2--after the Library exhibit is dismantled and the MacCallum More exhibit is hung--I might have a straight shot of Jack Daniels or Maker's Mark.

I no longer dream of being organized; the last-minute method somehow works for me.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Watcher Woman 1, acrylic, 24x18

In early July I was re-reading The Celestine Prophecy, a book that pretty much says there's no such thing as a coincidence and that memories pop into your head for a reason.

A memory had popped into my head--I recalled a woman in a park in D.C. My children and I had visited Whistler's Butterfly Room exhibit and were taking a people-watch break, sitting on a bench in a small park. An older woman, using her hands as binoculars, constantly turned in a circle. Each time the "binoculars" landed on me I was very uncomfortable; we left the park.

I thought of painting the woman and drew a sketch.

Then I read Harry Kent's blog from July 25. He said "I believe the elderly, because they've seen so much, have a particularly important social role to play as reviewers and commentators."

I agree--I think we should be training our eyes on what's happening in our small towns; what's happening off our shores or on Wall Street, what's happening to our old forests.

Then I read Donna Iona Drozda's blog from July 26 that said look back to July 12; what were you thinking of during the solar eclipse? (I was thinking of watcher woman and taking photos of my local landmarks.)

And then I later followed Donna's Luna See newsletter to her "What's up?" article and it showed a triangle--the shape of the arms and head of the watching woman.

I couldn't decide whether I should jump with joy or hide under the covers--I felt I had tapped into something beyond coincidence.

With the exception of the "Celluloid Man"detour, due to wrong-sized canvas, this painting has been in the works since early July. This is the first Watcher Woman and she's looking East towards my home town. When I was six and needed a vaccination before entering first grade I screamed from this overpass to Dr. Winston's office in town (maybe two miles) and I was riding in the back of a neighbor's truck!

Watcher Woman is a tough-looking broad and I think she looks like the woman from the park 35 years ago (maybe a bit like my friends and me) and the painting is 95 percent complete. The binocular stance is fun--try it.

* * * * * *
There is sadness on my street. My next-door Summertime/weekend neighbor passed away unexpectedly last week. She sat on my porch earlier this summer and read my blog on her laptop. Bess would have enjoyed this entry and would have said "That's Jack's yard!" I see her front porch from my kitchen sink; she'd be surprised at how much she's missed.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Seasoned by Age or Art?

Uncle Red, H 14", terra cotta & copper wire, sold

This was actually a self-portrait. In 1985 I noticed that my face was falling--I was 43. The sculpting was completed in one day. I scooped dirt and bits of dried clay off the floor and embedded them in the wet clay. (I think of those bits now when the dermatologist burns off growths and reminds me that redheads--even old ones--should stay out of the sun).

I pierced holes in the scalp for the hair. Epoxying the copper wires after firing was a bloody and time-consuming job (probably a bit like a hair transplant).

Life Artist left a comment on my July 16th blog entry: ".....age seasons us for art." Yes. I wonder, though, if the opposite can also work--that art seasons us for age.

This a 2010 photo; 25 years have passed since Uncle Red bore the brunt of my rage against age. Now I just walk quickly by mirrors. (When I walk by my eye-level clothes dryer, though, I cringe--my face reflection in the dryer door is 3X life-size!)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Celluloid Man

Celluloid Man, acrylic, 30x24
(aka Celluloid Man Meets his Match)

I had primed this canvas but needed a different size for a planned painting. Rather than put the canvas away, I set up a palette with ultramarine, cadmium red, cadmium yellow, and white and began painting without a single thought--started with an oval.

I took a photo of the first day's work, printed it out and toyed with ideas--Self-anointed One and Candle Man. I needed a reason for the melting (other than the heat here in southern Virginia). After a couple of days, a memory surfaced. Aha!

When I was very young (4 or 5) I loved a small celluloid doll that my father bought for me during our trip into town. As I sat with my mother in the front yard under the shade of the trees, she said, "If you strike a match to the doll's feet, she will smile." I did--and was horrified as I watched her melt. I cried for days. My mother had a great sense of humor but it was missing on that particular day--this is one of the few bad memories from my childhood.

Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be artists.

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's a Wonderful Blog

Thinking Cap, photo from Taj Mahal in Atlantic City
(It took six attempts to get my head aligned with the faucet.)

I began following Harry Kent's blog Tachisme because I loved his self-portraits. His post from today--collaborative abstract painting and the accompanying comments--made me don my "thinking cap." Great reading.

Updated Sat., July 17. Wrap-around mirrors always fascinate and confuse me.