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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Looking Back - and Another Gallery Experience

Looking Back
Oil on canvas, 16x16, $450

This Pony Express rider (click here to find out what I'm talking about!) lives in the Arizona mountain town of Heber-Overgaard, and has been participating in the Pony Express rides for 18 years.

 He was dressed in wonderful period garb, with a big black hat, a red bandanna and a cowhide tossed around his shoulders.

I love this painting!  I love the rawness of it, the simplicity, the abstract quality. I love that the horse is looking back.

Here's the photo from which I was working.


***
IN MY MOST recent blog post, I told you about an excruciating, embarrassing, mortifying experience I had in Xanadu, a gallery in Scottsdale. I had a second experience at the K. Newby Gallery here in Tubac.

This experience was not excruciating, and in fact, I think it will help my painting. But in the moment, ouch, it hurt.

The Newby Gallery is an amazingly beautiful, glorious gallery that has a special place in my heart because it's where I first saw paintings by the late Louisa McElwain, who used a palette knife like no one else on Earth. I've wanted to be represented by this gallery since I walked in there.

This year, finally, I thought my paintings were good enough. I thought I could muster my courage and make a legitimate attempt.

In light of my recent experience at Xanadu, I first made sure that my paintings were clean, that the black backgrounds were solid and unmarked, and that the pieces were dry. Then I chose one - a big one, Fee, Fie, Fo, Fum - and headed to the gallery.

I walked in, scared, finding it hard to catch my breath, and in a moment, I found Leroy, who accepts or rejects work. I pulled the sheet off the painting and watched as he looked at it. My life held in the balance.

"I like it," he said, "but it lacks.... maturity."

My first reaction, "OK." My second, "ouch." I spoke neither aloud.

I shook his hand, got his approval for me to show him work in the future, and left. Sitting in my van, I momentarily sank low. Very low. There are many things someone can say about a painting. A lack of maturity is a pretty telling critique. It's not "your composition is off," "I don't like your palette," no. It's a much deeper comment, speaking to my heart, my progress, my future - and yet, it is a comment of details, as well.

As I sat in the van and pondered, my inner artist wailing a little, I felt myself begin to lift. While the critique hurt, it is valuable. This is a man with a great eye. He's filled the gallery with art that moves me, makes me dream and hope. And so his comments matter.

I thought more, and began to know what he meant, what he saw. The painting I showed him - which I love, and continue to love - has an exuberance, an optimism, a sunniness that is not mature. It has swirls and whirls that I love, and yet they imply tightness that speaks to a focus on detail and technique, instead of overall character - and there, I think, is at least part of the tension that spoke to Leroy. Combined with the rest, I understand the assessment, and will use it as a place from which to grow.

I love my bright, cheery, exuberant paintings, and I'm going to keep painting them. I am going to continue to reach for the things that make me happy, and that I know make others happy. But I'm going to do this now with the thought of "maturity," too.

Maybe I will have the honor of being represented by the Newby Gallery. Maybe I won't. Whatever happens, I am grateful that I had the courage to have this experience, to hear this man's insight, and to continue with the process.

***
Dog of the Day
Here's Nick! I met him while I was painting a couple afternoons ago. 
He was a nice dog, patient and kind to his much younger, much bigger dog pal. 

***
A Final Thought

"Life obliges me to do something, so I paint."
- Rene Magritte











Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tumacacori - and an Excruciating Experience

Tumacacori
Oil on canvas, 10x10, $125
(Or email me - carrieBjacobson@gmail.com - if the link doesn't work. It's an experiment!) 

This is the first of the available Arizona Byways paintings. The first person to click on the purchase link (or to email me) will be my patron and sponsor for the trip, and the owner of this lovely little piece! The price includes tax and shipping.

Here's my painting in the landscape, just up the road from my dad's house in Tubac.

***

I STARTED THIS BLOG with the notion of sharing the ups and downs of my painting career, and to be honest, no matter how brutal or painful.

I've experienced two events that were pretty excruciating - but from which, I have learned worlds. Here's the first one. The second will follow in my next posting.

In Scottsdale, AZ, there's a man named Jason Horejs who heads the very beautiful Xanadu Gallery. Jason not only runs the gallery (actually two galleries, now), but he also does a lot for artists, including writing an excellent book - "'Starving' to Successful"), publishes a regular catalog in which artists choose to participate, writes a blog and runs online seminars, including a series that focuses on bringing one artist from working in the studio to selling in the gallery.


Over the years, I've participated in a number of his productions, bought his book, and become increasingly sort of awed at how much he gives to help artists.

So when I decided that part of the focus of this trip would be to screw up my courage and approach galleries, I decided that Xanadu would be one of the galleries I would approach.

I found the main gallery in Scottsdale, picked up a bag in which I'd stashed a recent painting ("Free Already"), took a handout I'd made that introduced myself and showed a few more paintings, and set out.

Heart thumping, head buzzing with fear and courage combined, I entered the gallery - palatial, gorgeous and filled with amazing art - and asked for Jason. Not here, the woman said. At the other gallery, just down the road. I set off, momentarily relieved, but thinking, "Great, I have to do this again."

At the other gallery, I strode in (this one is smaller, more intimate, and again, filled with lovely art). In a moment, Jason walked down the stairs. I introduced myself, handed him my paper, and pulled the painting from the bag.

He told me right away that at the moment, he just didn't have room for a new artist, but that I could check back with him in March or April. OK, I said, I understand. But did he want to see my painting anyways? Sure, he said.

And then, it happened. I reached into the bag and realized, to my utter dismay, that the painting had smeared. It hadn't been dry when I put it in the bag! My heart just broke. Here I was, having summoned the courage to show my paintings to this man who's helped me so very much, and about whose gallery I had had such high and optimistic hopes - and I had totally, completely and horrifyingly screwed up. I felt like melting into the floor, and I am amazed that I didn't.

Jason was kind, of course. This sort of thing happens, not my day, etc. I left, red-faced and feeling broken, and walked back to my van.

I sat there for a few moment, fighting tears. And then I decided that I would go back. I would march back in there, with a different painting, a painting I knew was dry, and ask him to look.

That's what I did. He looked, and I could see the initial, horrible impression I'd made fall away just a little. He didn't turn around and say, "Yes! I'd love to have you in my gallery!" - his rejection had happened even before the painting disaster - but I could see that I had redeemed myself, just a little.

I will keep in touch with Jason, and I will hope that this meeting was the start of a process that ends with me being represented by Xanadu. And even if it doesn't, I learned a few valuable lessons from my mortifying encounter.

***
Dog of the Day
Yes, I have Dog of the Day photos from this trip, but I am missing my honey and my own dogs, so Abby (left) and Koko are the Dogs of the Day, here on the couch with Peter! 

Want your pet to be the Dog of the Day? Send a jpg to me at carrieBjacobson@gmail.com

***
A Final Thought

"If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing." 

- Marc Chagall






Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pony Express!


Pony Express
Oil on canvas, 10x10, sold

I was driving through the mountains on a back road from Holbrook, Arizona, to Scottsdale, when I saw a big hubbub ahead. Lots of police cars, flashing lights, a line of traffic. When I came up to it, I was amazed to see that the police cars were surrounding a guy riding a horse along the side of the road. 

I passed, and a little ways up the road, saw another guy, dressed in a long duster, waiting with his horse. A little ways later, another. It dawned on me that I'd seen historical marker signs naming this road as the Hashknife Pony Express route - and putting two and two together, I realized that I was watching the Pony Express. 

I drove past the riders and entourage, and in a ways, stopped at a store to get gas. The guy behind the counter told me that, indeed, this was a once-a-year running of the Pony Express, and that the riders were carrying real mail from Holbrook to Scottsdale! Each rider goes a mile or two, then the next rider picks up. They carry 20,000 pieces of mail, each stamped with the official Pony Express logo! You can read all about it on the website. This just seemed like the coolest thing - and the first fun thing I've seen on the trip. So far, this trip has been nothing but fear - a giant snowfall, the mock jury and visiting four galleries, seeking representation, all worthwhile, but all scary. 

So I changed my plans, turned around and went back to see the riders again, and paint! I painted the scene, leaving a space for the horse and rider, and then put him in. Later, in Payson, I saw all the riders riding in a line on the last leg, to the post office. 

Here's my painting in the landscape

***
THE PONY EXPRESS painting was sold to my first sponsor for the Arizona Byways trip. This is not as structured as my recent trips, but sponsorships are still encouraged. Sponsors will have first choice of the paintings I make on this trip. I plan to paint in and around Tubac, and on some side treks, too.

A 10x10 sponsorship is $125. Please click here to email me if you want in.

***
Scenes from the Road

Antelope just wandering the streets in Springer, NM. 

Dinosaurs dot the Arizona landscape. Above, a display in Holbrook. 
Below, a display in I-40 just outside Holbrook. 


Some good-looking donkeys in Kansas, above, and a Kansas landscape, below.


Snow in New Mexico

***
Dog of the Day 
 I saw this lunatic Corgi in a small town in Oklahoma. 

***
A Final Thought

"I found I could say things with color and shapes 
that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for."
- Georgia O'Keeffe


Monday, January 25, 2016

Butter - and Insights from St. Louis

Butter
Oil on canvas, 12x12

Isn't this a fun painting? Butter looks like an imp, doesn't he? I haven't met him, but I know he is much loved. 

Even though I am on the road, I'll be making paintings for the project, and hoping you will sign up to participate! For $375, you get an original oil painting of your dog, a book or poster containing your dog's portrait, and a variety of project-related items. I'll donate a portion of your sponsorship to one of four dog-related groups I've chosen, or to a dog-related group of your choice. 


***
ON SATURDAY, I showed up at a Budweiser distribution center to participate in a mock jury put on by the people who run the St. Louis Art Festival, one of the top festivals in the country - and one that has so far not accepted me. 

The event went on from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. I came away exhausted and bleary-eyed,  but full of insights. The jurors had no life-changing comments on my entry, but I did get life-changing ideas from the day. I posted a lengthy piece on Art Fair Insiders about my experience. You can read that by clicking here.

The regular jury looks at work over the course of two or three days. This past year, it took 27 hours to accept 150 artists from the 1281 that applied. In general, their response to why I'm not getting into the very top shows, all the time, is that no one does. And, it's always a crap shoot. 

Still, I cam away from the event with renewed vigor, hope, and ideas. 

Here are the jurors, looking at the entry of my friend Cynthia Battista. Cynthia and I will be exhibiting together at the Tubac Arts Festival in Tubac, AZ, Feb. 10-14. 

***
Dog of the Day

Saw this guy in St. Louis. His owner and I were both lost! 

***
A Final Thought

"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web." 
- Pablo Picasso




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chewy

Chewy
Oil on canvas, 12x12

A friend and collector who lives in Arizona went all-in on the 101 Dogs project, having me make paintings of all three of her dogs. They all are attractive, energetic-looking dogs, with their own clear personalities and their own clear looks. Chewy here has amazing blue eyes that remind me of my sweet Jojo's startling blue eyes

I had a ball painting all three dogs - and I'm happy that the project is proceeding. There is plenty of room for more people, dogs and paintings, and I'm hoping that some of you will sign up, now that the holidays are over. To find out more about the project, click here.

*** 
 
Here's one of my paintings in place in a couple's living room. 
Doesn't it look great? I could hardly believe that I'd painted it. 

***
Dog of the Day 
I met this brindle beauty at a show in Omaha this past summer. 
I'm going back to Omaha again this coming summer.
 I was invited back, no need for jurying! That's exciting. 

***
A Final Thought

"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web." 
- Pablo Picasso

Monday, January 18, 2016

Winter in Wachapreague - and Helping Allen

Winter in Wachapreague
Oil on canvas, 10x10, $125

That's right, it snowed in Wachapreague! Today, a bitter, biting wind is blowing, and I am glad the studio is insulated. Before the storm, we saw lightning in the night sky.

It is a challenge to paint a winter scene like this. There are many tones of white, but the untouched roofs, facing the sky, are the brightest - by a long shot.

***
Allen Gaccione, who is 37, is the father of our youngest grandchild. Last week, Allen found out that he has cancer. It started in his colon and has spread to his liver. Doctors were able to get the colon tumor out, and when he heals enough, they will start with chemotherapy. 

Allen is a good guy and a wonderful father. He has worked for years at McQuade's Marketplace in Westerly, RI, where he lives. He does not have health insurance, in spite of working a full-time job. 

Friends have started a GoFundMe page for Allen; you can reach it by clicking here. If you want to help, that would be great. And whether you donate or not, please think of Allen, or send a prayer his way, if you are a praying sort of person. Thank you. 

***
Dog of the Day

Who doesn't need a big box of Puffy? 

Want your pet to be the Dog of the Day? Send a jpg to me at carrieBjacobson@gmail.com

***
A Final Thought

"A good artist has less time than ideas."
- Martin Kippenberger

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Free Already

Free Already
Oil on black canvas, 16x16, $385

 I was taking a detail photo for a person who is contemplating buying "Leonine Dreams," and it occurred to me that the detail I'd photographed - the eyes, part of the ear and some of the sheep's coat - would make a fantastic painting. 

And so I gave it a try. I love the abstract quality of this piece, the shadow on the eye, the free flow of colors and paint, the heavy surface. 

It's not the first time that a part of a piece has presented itself as a whole piece, and it got me thinking that maybe people are like that, too. And when you find someone you love - a partner, lover or friend - it could be because the part you saw first truly echoes the whole that follows. It's a thought, at least. 

*** 

Deli meat for that oh-so-tiny, 1-pound family. Sigh. 

***
Dog of the Day
Three Shelties, behaving well, as always. Saw these three in Omaha last summer. 

Want your pet to be Dog of the Day? Send a jpg to me at carrieBjacobson@gmail.com

***
A Final Thought

"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art."
- Andy Warhol



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Winter in Accomack - and Arizona Byways Calling

Winter in Accomack
Oil on black canvas, 18x18, $385

As many of you know, I've made sponsored painting trips the past three years - To Tubac and Back,  the California Calling Painting Extravaganza, and the Origins Painting Trip.  Each time, people bought paintings in advance from me, then chose paintings in the order they signed up for sponsorships. 

I'm going to Arizona in about a week., to visit my dad and stepmother, participate in the Tubac Arts Festival, and paint in Tubac and the surrounding area. I'll be posting the paintings and my adventures here on the blog, and making them available to everyone. 

If you're sure you'd like a Southwest painting, and you'd like to reserve your selection, you'll find a PayPal link below. I'll email everyone who reserves a jpg of each painting as I finish them, so you'll have a chance to buy them before I post them on line. People will have their choices in the order in which they sign up. After sponsors have a day to decide, I'll post the paintings on the blog, and you'll all have a chance to buy them - first come, first served! 

I will tell you all that I'm planning a painting trip to Montana and Wyoming this summer, so if you have a one-painting-by-Carrie annual budget, that's information you might need, to help you make your decision.

The link is for a 10x10, at $125. If you want a larger piece, please email me and we can talk price and size. 

And keep your fingers crossed for decent traveling weather! 


***
OK, I know it's terrible for the environment when gas prices are this low. But I'm about to start a summer's worth of driving, and I'm grateful. This was in Virginia Beach this week. 

***
Dog of the Day
It's Koko! Here she is with her second-favorite toy. 
Her very favorite toy is about 5'8", with red hair and paint-splattered pants. 

***
A Final Thought

"I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality." 

- Frida Kahlo


Friday, January 8, 2016

Leonine Dreams

Leonine Dreams
Oil on black canvas, 36x48

In just about two weeks, weather permitting, I'm going to head west! 

First stop (and here's where the weather comes into play) is St. Louis, MO. In my ongoing efforts to improve, I've entered my art to be judged by a mock jury. 

The shows in which I participate are all juried shows, meaning that artists send in 3-5 images of their work, and a picture of their booth, to be judged - juried - by a panel. The ones who score above a certain level are accepted, and the others are rejected. In some of the shows, the rejections are eight or 10 times the acceptances. So, 2,000 artists apply; the show accepts 160, and 10 of them probably have been invited back. 

While every show is a gamble, the "best" shows are generally the ones with histories of solid sales. This also means good attendance, strong marketing, thoughtful organization and, ideally, generally fair weather. Of course, everyone wants to get into them. 

I'm grateful to have been accepted into a handful of the top 15 shows in the country - but generally, I've not been accepted into the top 10 shows. And I want to be. If it's that my work isn't strong enough, I want to know how to improve. If my booth isn't enticing enough, I want to know how to make it better. If my photos aren't good enough, I need to know that, too. 

It's scary to go into a situation like this, especially if you have little or no formal training. But I'm going to do it. The responses to my art will be delivered in public, with me and other artists sitting in the room. I am going to listen hard, take to heart what they say, but remember that my painting is my painting, and that people - regular people, not sitting on a jury - respond to it, love it and buy it. 

***
Living, Breathing, Healthy Dogs of the Day 

The lightbulb-eating incident ended happily for everyone involved. Abby, left, and Koko survived their stupidity. I didn't murder them, either. Here they are, happy to come in and get cookies - and maybe look for more yummy stuff to ingest. 

***
A Final Thought

"I paint for myself. I don't know how to do anything else, anyway. 
Also I have to earn my living, and occupy myself." 
- Francis Bacon

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ohio Farm Revisited


Ohio Farm Revisited
Oil on canvas, 12x24, $300

Or click here to send me an email!


My very first painting trip, in 2009, took me to Wisdom, Montana, the second-most beautiful place on Earth (the Eastern Shore earns the top spot). On the way out and back, I stopped in Ohio to paint. 

I was captivated by the land and the light near Sandusky, is in northwestern Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie. There was a golden quality to that light, a warmth that seemed somehow contrary to what seemed like a thinness to the air. That shiny, golden light brightened the fields and the wide, flat plains of Ohio. It lighted the barns and the neat, orderly homes. The sunsets burnished and blazed on the fields of hay and wheat and alfalfa, which went on in rows forever.   


The quality of that light - brand-new to me - is  something I've come to know, here on the Eastern Shore. Its thinness comes from clarity and cleanness of the air. Its round, golden brightness comes in part from the extra bounce of light off the water. Here's it's the Atlantic, on one side, and the Chesapeake Bay on the other. There, it was Lake Erie. 

I made and sold a lot of paintings from that trip, but a few are still with me. This is one of them - or it was. Even then, I was experimenting with leaving parts of the canvas blank, and leaving pieces of the painting more or less unfinished, the structure and the drawing visible. 

And while I like that effect (the original painting is the smaller one, just above), I think that this painting is better finished, with the canvas filled up. What do you think? 

***

MY BROTHER RECENTLY directed me to the blog written by friends of his, David and Kim Stringer. Click here to reach their Memory Stringer blog, which is filled with wonderful, amazing photos; David has his own blog of humor, which you can reach by clicking here.

I have a terrible memory, and so I like to get blogs delivered to my inbox. If I don't, I forget that they exist. It's awful, I know, but it is what it is. I noticed that, at the time, David and Kim didn't have a "subscribe" box, and so I wrote and suggested they add one. 

In conversations about how to do it, the question of comments came up, and it occurred to me that perhaps not all of you know how to post comments. So here's a tutorial. 

Scroll to the bottom of the blog post, and look for a link saying "X comments." In the photo above, it's "0 comments." To post a comment, click on that link. 

A new screen will open, containing a box in which you can make your comment, and a little doodad thing to prove to Blogger that you're not a robot. You put your comment in the box, obey the I'm-not-a-robot instruction, click "post comment," and there you go. 

If you'd like to read my brother's blog - his name is Rand Cooper, and he writes for Commonweal Magazine - click here, and then search for Rand. His posts cover a wide range of topics, from politics to politeness to movies and more. 

***
Dog of the Day
Koko and Abby, the best of friends, are also maniacs and morons. The maniac quality, you can infer tell from the wreckage that surrounds them in our living room, in this photo. 

The moron quality you can infer from the fact that this morning, they ate a lightbulb. Or at least chewed it up. It was not a new-style bulb, thank heavens. And I don't know how much they actually ate, if any at all. I do know they broke it into little pieces and scattered it throughout the house. 

The vet said we should feed them right away, and that they probably would be fine. I have my fingers crossed, and would welcome any good thoughts or prayers any of you can send our way. 

***
A Final Thought

"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art."

- Paul Cezanne










Saturday, January 2, 2016

Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum

Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum
Oil on black canvas, 36x60

I said I was going to paint bigger and bolder, and so I'm pleased to show you this new one! It's hard to get a feel for it on the computer here, but it's five feet across and three feet deep, so you can see how big the images of the cows are.

You might not be able to see very clearly in this photo, but there's a little house and red barn in the saddle of the hill under the mountain in the far distance. That helps give a little perspective, I think. Also, the sky on this one is really wonderfully rich and thick and swirly!

***
For a few years now, a friend and I have exchanged photos of the sky nearly every day. It's a project I've grown to love. I really look forward to receiving her sky photos, and to taking a photo myself that says something. This was my photo from Jan. 1. I took it through the new window in my studio. It was about the 1,000th gray day in a row (well, that's what it felt like), and honestly, I hadn't taken pix for a few days. There's only so much you can do with unrelenting gray. The paperweight belonged to my mom, and reminds me of a crystal ball. 

***
Dog of the Day
I met this guy at the SoNoArt show this summer; he's the dog of a nice couple 
who collect my art. Can't remember his name, but he was a great guy! 

***
A Final Thought

"Have no fear of perfection. You'll never reach it."
- Salvador Dali

Friday, January 1, 2016

Koko - and Happy 2016

Koko
Oil on canvas, 12x12

Happy 2016, everyone! I hope you're feeling the new year beckon, with promises of possibility, whispers of hope, and the thrill of a new beginning. 

There's part of me that would like to say that there's no magic in the start of a new year, that every day is, in fact, the start of a new year, and that the whole celebration thing is artificial. 

But the fact is that the prospect of a new year, artificial or not, excites me! I love the sense of standing on the threshold, looking ahead, dreaming big dreams. And I hope you do, too. 

The appearance of Koko in our lives was one of the many blessings of 2015, and one that continues happily into 2016. Koko helped ease our sadness at the losses of Jojo and Zoe, and she has brought playfulness and energy and the sense of discovery back into our home. 

So, from Koko and me, Abby and Peter, Smokey and Woodreau, Samantha and Puffy, Happy New Year! 

***
Dog of the (Hole) Day 
I used to think that the day after Christmas was Boxing Day, but apparently, here in Wachapreague, it's Hole Day. Abby and Koko spent it digging big, dumb holes in our poor yard. Oh, well. We can fill them in - or plant stuff in them! 


***
A Final Thought

"The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes 
and, ironically, the more real." 
- Lucian Freud