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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Maisie

Maisie
Oil on canvas, 12x12, commission

My lovely studio has sat cold, half-insulated and unused this past month. Peter and I set out to do the work ourselves, but in the end, it just didn't happen. We know a little bit about carpentry, but not enough. We have a few tools, but not the right ones. And friends and  relatives volunteered to help, but in life's reality, no one has the time - or has it when anyone else has it.

So I had carpenters come and give estimates. One, a neighbor, had great ideas, but he really does historic-home work, and was just too expensive. Another guy never showed up. A third guy I just didn't trust.

Then a friend mentioned another a friend of hers who does carpentry, and was looking for work, and so I called and he came over, and the project is up and going again. He's starting today, and I should be painting out there by next week.

Throughout all of this, I have come face to face with a truth about myself. I am honestly not sure that I am worth the money that it will take to make this studio.

I balk at spending on something that is entirely for me.

If Peter or my siblings or my dad or stepdaughter needed the money, I would not hesitate. But the idea of spending this amount of money on myself brings up a turmoil of questions of self-worth and self-confidence - along with my perpetual questions about the course I've chosen here.

I have talked to myself about this. I have reasoned with myself. I have grabbed hold of my fears, of my hope, of my proving-itself-success, and for the moment, for this one moment, I have managed to quiet that doubting internal Carrie, have told her to go sit in the corner and just be quiet while I allow myself to celebrate.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Frenchie


French Bulldog
Oil on canvas, 12x12, commission

These mornings, I rise long before dawn, and go out into a hostile world.

Today, the wind cut through my clothes, and I howled while the dogs shook and shivered. Trees bent and swayed, sap popping and cracking and branches hitting and creaking in the noisy dark. Snow swirled crazily through all this, flakes with icy edges sticking on the frozen deck and the hard, uneven earth, and blowing down my neck and wringing tears from my eyes.

Back inside, I look with new eyes. I feel grateful for our little house. It is small, it needs a good cleaning, it is crowded with dogs - and it shelters us fully and completely.

The dogs mess up the house, mess up the yard, mess with the order and freedom of our lives - and give us love and loyalty and, daily, the knowledge that we are only part of a continuum that began in caves, around fires, with dogs only a step from wolves and man only two steps from apes.

I squabble with my husband, argue with my siblings, challenge my (step)daughter. But these relatives and their families, my dad and his wife, my aunt and uncle and nephews, and all their families will love me until the day I die, as I will them, and in this love is an ancestry and a future stretching farther than my eyes will ever see.

Here at the edge of the year, I look back and I look ahead and then, with luck, I see this moment.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Brantley the Second


Brantley, sharpei
Oil on canvas, 12x12, commission

Now that Christmas is over, I can post my Christmas commissions with abandon. The reports from all the buyers are extremely positive, and that's just about the best Christmas present ever!

I hope all of you had a holiday filled with joy and peace and laughter and, somewhere, a moment or two of rest. I could have used a little more of the latter, but I was rich with all the former.

This painting of Brantley the Sharpei was the final one of the 10 commissions I had in December. I'd already done a painting of Brantley, when I was struck with the notion of doing another, all in blues. I was tired, I was pushed to my limit, but this painting came unbidden, and I really love it. The gallery owner gave the buyer both paintings, and she will choose one or both.

I am still working, caring for the older couple in West Hartford. They are healing nicely, and I am enjoying the work, but every day that passes without painting, I miss my painting more.

The show at the Emporium in Mystic, Conn., (15 Water St.), has been held over to mid-January. It's a nice show, with work by me, and Peter, and seven other artists. Stop by, take a look, use some of that Christmas money to buy a painting or two!

For those of you in and around New York state, five of my paintings will be on view at the Wallkill River School, as part of the Represented Artists Exhibit. That show opens with a reception on Jan. 9, from 5-7 p.m. I'm planning on being there, so stop in and say hello! See www.wallkillriverschool.com for information and directions.

Starting Jan. 21, I will have a number of pieces in the Members Invitational Show at the South County Art Association in West Kingston, R.I. I'll let you all know more about that when I find out more.

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bullie


Bullie
Commission

Of all the commissions I've done recently, this guy is one of my favorites. It is a memorial painting - he died a while back - and I have to say that my heart really goes out to the memorials. I know how it feels when a pet dies, I know the hole it leaves in your heart, in your life.

I love the expression on this guy's face - and I love how symmetrical he is. I had real fun painting him.

Sometimes these dog paintings come easy - no matter what I do, I can do no wrong. Sometimes, no matter what I do, I botch things. Landscapes are the same for me. I get on hot streaks and I get on cold streaks, and I am beginning to recognize both.

This past week, luckily for me with all the work, I was on a hot streak. Whew!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Brantly the First

Brantly the First
Commission

I've been busy!

As I have helped the older couple in West Hartford these past few weeks, the commissions have come pouring in, and Saturday as we waited for the snow, and Sunday as we watched it pile up (26 inches, by my measure), I painted. And I painted and I painted and I painted.

I had had five commissions, and was cooking along with them when, last week, a man walked into the gallery and asked if I could paint his five dogs in time for Christmas. The gallery owner called, and I said sure, I could paint them, but they'd never dry in time.

No problem, he said.

So I finished the last of the first batch and began.

I have to say, I was more than a little scared. I had one shot to do all five dogs, and my confidence had been a little shaken when, recently, a commission had been rejected. But the painting gods were with me, and I soared.

This sharpei was not one of that group of five. I will post these in the order I received them, saving the group of five for last.

So as my grandmother used to say, one door closes and another one opens.

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thinking of Andy Warhol

Thinking of Andy Warhol
Oil on canvas, 16x20, $150





I've been busy, busy, busy, taking care of the older couple in West Hartford this week. It is really a good job, I have to say, though if I stop and think too long, it can be very scary.

These people are wonderful, but they are frail, after their illnesses, and their frailty is new to them and uncomfortable. They want to be the way they were - don't we all, to some degree? - and yet, the body won't comply.

It's a balance, and one with vast responsibilities. If you get a newspaper story wrong, well, there are consequences. If you stop paying attention and someone wanders off or falls, the consequences are much different.

On an entirely different note, my dad and stepmother bought one of my paintings at the show at the Emporium in Mystic, Conn. They loved the painting, and bought it to give to my sister and her husband for a Christmas present.

"You're always telling us on your blog to buy our presents from a local artist," Paula said. "And so we did."

Yay!

The show in Mystic continues until the end of the month. There's work by me, Peter and six others. Prices run the gamut, as does the style of the work. Take a look! Think about buying a gift from a local artist. We'll appreciate your purchase far more than Best Buy will!

The Emporium is at 15 Water St., Mystic. The Lighthouse Gallery on Route 12 in Groton, Conn., (next to Arrow Party & Paper) is also having a Christmas gift sale, with wonderful work by local artists. Check here for directions and hours. The Hygienic Gallery on Bank Street in New London is doing the same thing. And in New York, the Wallkill River School on Route 17K in Montgomery has wonderful pieces, large and small, by many local artists.

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Some Ups, Some Downs

Duffer 1
Oil on canvas, 24x24

Duffer 2
Oil on canvas, 24x24

I've been somewhat slow to post lately, and that's likely to continue for the month or so. I've taken a temporary job as a companion to a friend's parents, both of whom are recovering from dire health calamities.

The wife has had a stroke; she is back home, and doing well, though she needs a watcher/helper who will also work to stimulate her mind and sharpen her acumen. The husband is recovering from pneumonia; he's still in a rehabilitation center, but is coming home soon. I like these people very much, and am pleased to be part of their recovery.

The portrait of Duffer was rejected by the commissioner, and that makes me sad, but I guess that's part of the gig. It's my first rejection - and as it was intended for the daughter of my favorite writer (not counting my brother), I am a little heartbroken. But I love the paintings, and so, it is OK.

I am also conceding defeat, at least temporarily, in the face of strong winter and weak income, and am moving back inside the house. The finishing of the studio will just have to wait. And that's OK. There are plenty of worse things than painting in the basement and doing desk work at the kitchen table. When it warms up, I can readdress the idea of finishing the studio.

On the upside, I have a whole bunch of commissions from the gallery in West Hartford. So while I miss painting during the workweek, my day(s) off will be filled with joy and paint and beautiful dogs.

The show at the Emporium in Mystic, Conn., continues throughout the month. In addition to paintings by me and photographs by Peter, there are works by six other local artists, ranging from really cool found-wood sculptures to beautiful watercolors to fine abstracts. Between the art and the jam-packed fun inventory of the Emporium itself, your holiday gift-giving missions could all be accomplished in this one place, 15 Water Street, Mystic.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow in the Valleys

Dusting
Oil on canvas, 11x14


Call me at 860-442-0246 or email me
if you are interested in buying this painting

This morning, the dogs and I ran and romped and raced around the yard in the thick, wet snow. They scampered and played like puppies. Kaja rolled and rolled, a look of absolute delight on her face and I had to laugh at her and realize again - with joy - that this was the dog who, three months ago, I thought was at death's door.

There is revival in these cold, short days. The snow falls and blankets the earth, the birds flash gray and red and blue at the feeders, flower bulbs gather energy, trees rest, and we think of gardens and springtime and, at our best, we blossom in these winter whites.

The opening of the group show at the Emporium in Mystic, Conn., was fun and crowded. There were visitors aplenty, fine snacks and punch and a real feeling of holiday. One of my paintings sold, and while I could have wished for more, I am thankful for that one, and for the feeling of celebration and community that came with the evening.

The show will be up through the end of the month. There are paintings and sculptures and photographs in every price range - and what better gift than something made by a neighbor or a friend?

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow in the Mountains

First Snow, Mohonk Mountain Road
Oil on canvas, 8x10,


Call me at 860-442-0246 or email me
if you are interested in buying this painting

As Saturday afternoon waxed into Saturday evening in New York, the first snow of the year spun down from the sky and fell, flakes huge and sticky in the 33-degree dusk, and then, overnight, piled on limbs and lawns and the soft branches of fir trees.

In the morning, clouds and sky and snow and fields laced together in a swirl of white, and I painted wildly, working quickly in the cold and the wind, to capture what the sunlight would destroy.

I know that, soon enough, I will be tired of snow and winter and the broad reaches of white - but now, I am hungry for them, for the way they uncomplicate everything, and tie it all together.

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Moon Light, Moon Bright

Duffer
Oil on canvas, 24x24. Commission

This season is too hard for me, some days. I have to remind myself, again and again, to focus on whatever good I can find, and pull myself and my heart away from the painful, the insoluble, the incomprehensible.

The moon is big and bright and full this Monday evening, and so there is some solace in knowing that this low, cold, coldhearted day is the final step before the lowest low. Tuesday, sunset comes as early as it will all year, and so, there will be hope and deliverance and a reason to look forward again.