The Story Behind Any Painting
PAINTING A TOTALLY DIFFERENT GEOGRAPHY
When I told a friend I was going to New Mexico to paint, he said, "Bring lots of brown and red paints". Which I did...along with blues and yellows. Such a change from East Coast geography. And such a treat for the eyes! Because the landscape is so vast the colors change in the blink of an eye. Plein Air painters are accustomed to "chasing the light" but here, you truly are painting at full race speed. Don't like that cloud? Wait 3 minutes and it is gone.
Perhaps the numerous forest fires affected the clouds. Luckily we didn't have smoke burning our eyes but you could really feel for the people who had to flee their homes. I'm working on another SantaFe painting from the same location, so please be on the lookout for it.
"ARE WE IN A CULT OR WHAT?"
Recently a friend, who was new to plein air painting, and I were discussing promoting our artwork. We were in Santa Fe, NM painting with several artists from all over the US.
In time she noticed: how our fellow artists braved gale-force winds, sand storms, freezing or hot temperatures (depending on the day), blown over easels, the need to buy every art supply known to mankind, lugging around tons of equipment, and sitting at the feet of those artists we consider our heroes. To her, the rah-rah had all the signs of being in a cult or at least being nuts.
She might have hit upon something because I surely am guilty of some of these observations! I just love to paint! Nothing stops me from painting. (Not cooking dinner, not answering phones, etc.). In between all this fury I want to sell my paintings so I can paint more!!
I have 5 paintings that I need to be finish from Santa Fe. Here I was "Georgia O'Keefe Country" and I hope in weeks to come as I finish my paintings that you'll find a place in your home for one of my paintings done in the fabulous southwest.
As a member of the Greenwich Pen Women we often do some extraordinary, fun things. In early April our Music Chair invited us to 3 days of a concerts hosted by Music In The Woods, a nonprofit, with harpist Lisa Tannebaum, artistic director. Music In The Woods shared the spotlight with 3 million daffodils. Yes, that says 3 million! However Mother Nature wasn't about to cooperate: nothing was in bloom yet. So Lisa and GPW scrambled and planned the event for later.
Three weeks later Mother Nature cooperated: the daffodils were trumpeting in all their glory! Likely some of the 3 million daffodils naturalized on their own, but even so, I cannot imagine planting even 2 millions daffodils. All 3 Pen Women disciplines (music, art and letters) came to enjoy these delightful daffodils. Some wrote poetry, some meditated, and I, just painted to my heart's content. Below is my painting of those days where spring could no longer wait to announce itself.
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS...
This story is a tribute to two of my ski-buddy friends.
Left column: source photos. Right column: Highest, Snow Escape, and Snow Whites
NOTHING VENTURED, NOTHING LEARNED
WHAT I LEARNED
Below is the first painting I had done since college (which was decades ago). After many years working in advertising I decided now was the time to start painting again. I left my job in January but by June I still had not painted. I was afraid to put brush to canvas. What would I remember...what did I forget?
Remembering what I said about painting I signed up for a plein aire painting class in Vermont. Doug's Tree was my first painting in 40 years. Since I was going "big-time" now, I decided to enter this in my first art show and a "juried" show making it even more stressful. It was also a very hectic time for me. My best friend, Joani, had passed away and the entry deadline for the show coincided. I took the chance that I could get in and out of the art show and still make the wake. But there was a really long line of people ahead of me.I literally ran up to the Chairwoman and explained my time constraints. She graciously squired me thru the paperwork needed and let me get ahead of some people so I could make the wake.
Days later as I entered the Artist Reception the Chairwoman came to greet me with news: I had won First Place in Oils! What news! I looked up towards the ceiling, imaging the heavens and said "Thank you Joani you just gave me such good luck."
Our golden retriver Kerry was approaching ten years of age. While ten can be old for a Golden Kerry was in great health. Since she was extremely afraid of cameras and any attempt at iphone photography I didn't have many of those "cute" photos dogs owners often have. Kerry was also subject to epileptic seizures, which can be caused by many factors like allergies or stress, so photos were kept to a minimum.
One day, I was talking to a ski buddy of mine and he suggested I paint people's pets. (His sister did this in California and loved the people and experiences she encountered.) I just turned my nose up this suggestion because "portraits" were not "my thing". However, one day, I decided to paint Kerry before he got too old. This way I could remember him in good health. Did I ever get the surprise of my life: Not only did I really enjoy the whole process but more and more people asked me to also paint their pet! I did some research of pet paintings (done by Sargent, Goya etc.) and saw that these noble pets are not just accessories in a picture but important elements in the overall statement the artist wanted to make.
Not only has pet paintings replaced my first love, seacapes, but I really find my world really expanding because of these furry friends.
Kerry's painting will always have a place in our home & hearts.
CHUMS: DIESEL & CHAUNCEY
One day as I was rushing to get in my car so I could safely eat my pandemic-proof coffee and donut from Dunkin' Donuts I noticed the van next to me. The owner of the van was closing the side door but I had enough time to see this huge, black thing inside her vehicle. Could it be a bear? My God! How could this be?
I decided to wait for her to come out of Dunkin' and see if she would open the door again so I could see for sure if she was transporting this dangerous animal. In a few minutes she came back. Opened the door & instead of a bear I saw this huge teddybear of a German Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix. I jumped out of my car and told her, "I just have to paint your dog...he's so beautiful" and I gave her my promotion postcard. I never expected anything to seriously happen from this brief encounter but two days later she called me and wanted me to paint Chauncey. Turns out Chauncey is a gentle giant and this painting was a Christmas gift for Chauncey's owner, Jeff. I was told Jeff was so touched by her gift that he had tears in his eyes.
Amazing what a brief encounter can do.
INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE
I live in the historic Hudson Valley and as such have been afforded several opportunities not given to the general public at our local historic landmarks.
Because I use oil paintings, for example, I wouldn’t be able to paint (plein aire) at the NY Botanical Gardens for fear that the chemicals or fumes would affect their plantings.
(Watercolors, which I don’t use, would be permitted).
The summer before the pandemic, my 1st instructor and now friend, Douglas David, was coming back East to teach classes throughout New England. As any artist will tell you the Hudson Valley has inspired many an artist.
We planned on having an afternoon to paint outside of a class environment. It was a beautiful crystal clear, sunny day and our vantage point at one of our historic landmarks was perfect. I had to make several phone calls to get permission since painters generally are not permitted on these sites. Doug was merrily painting away…seeming to knock everything out of the ball park. I, on the other hand, was struggling. I so wanted to impress Doug. I did what I could but wasn’t getting what I wanted: a sparking pond just glittering in the sunlight.
Days later I was about "to chuck my creation”. But I decided to try an experiment: I turned my sunny day into a full moon evening with the moon beams of light twinkling across the water! For some reason this painting now reminds me of the Louisana Bayou. Hence I called this Interview with a Vampire after a favorite book by Anne Rice. Though a far cry from that glorious day...I feel "the night" had just as much to offer.