Saturday, January 31, 2009

Home on the range

Range Cattle. Oil on cradled gessoboard panel, 6x12. Sold

I was driving through a Wyoming prairie when this herd of cattle just moseyed across the road. Far as they were concerned, I was in their territory, not vice versa. They got to the other side of the road and just gathered there, eating grass and staring - unnervingly - at me. It was noon, and the sun shone on their backs and cast deep shadows on their rich, thick coats. I went up the road a ways, scared a small herd of antelope, then turned around. These cows stared at me the whole time.

I am posting early, so I can bring a piece to Hygienic XXX, the wildest free-for-all I've ever seen in the art world.

For those of you who don't know about it (that would be anyone living outside the eastern Connecticut/southwestern Rhode Island area, probably), this annual show invites anyone and everyone to enter one piece of art. And baby, if you say it's art, it's art. There's no jury, there's no censorship. The only limit is the amount of space on the walls.

I entered 20 years ago. Made a collage out of stuff I'd found on the streets. It was pretty cool, with bits of wire and mirror and shiny glass, twists of rope, and twigs and heaven only knows what else. I remember going to the show (it opens on the same night you bring your piece) and being amazed at the range of art. From pure and utter junk to soaring, amazing sculpture and painting to fully pornographic pieces, wow, it was all there.

And so, I'd better get going. It's 8:26, and honestly, I've probably dawdled around so long that all the spots are already taken. If so, oh, well. There's always next year.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Winter, winter burning bright

January, Harkness. Oil on stretched canvas, 10x20

The wind tore over Long Island Sound and ran across the frozen lawns of Harkness the afternoon I painted this. It felt impossible that the snow-covered picnic tables ever would welcome families wearing shorts and eating potato salad and complaining about the heat, but they will, and soon.

One of the great pleasures of moving back home is going to the places that I loved and haunted growing up. Harkness is one of them. We went there as a family, when we were kids, and we played hide and seek in the beautiful Victorian gardens. Sat on the stone benches on the gazebo, under trellised grapes, and talked and laughed, surrounded by box hedges releasing their peppery scent into the warm dusk.

I went there as a teenager, with friends and boyfriends, and we hid and talked and made out under the arching limbs of the copper beech trees, wider around than we could reach our arms. In one of the best pictures ever taken of me, I am swinging by my knees from one of those branches, my long, long hair flying out behind me. David Desiderato took that one.

Harkness saw hard times then, but we kept coming. The gardens fell into disarray. The buildings seemed to slump. My parents divorced, and still, we came to Harkness, for Labor Day, and Mom's birthday, and picnic dinners by the water.

One of Mom's last birthdays, we went to Harkness. We brought Chinese food, and we laughed and talked, and my siblings' children were there, a new generation.

Mom is gone now, but every time I visit Harkness, I think of her. She belonged to a garden club at one time, and I remember watching her arrange flowers for a competition inside the mansion. She knew the names of the flowers that grew in the gardens, and she knew our secret spots, and loved the open plains and the beach and the Sound beyond. It was a special place for her, and so, it will always be a special place for all of us.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dream a little dream

Victorian Castle, oil on canvas paper

Well, another experiment, courtesy of the Different Strokes challenge ( The challenge was to paint a Victorian townhouse, in San Francisco, I think.

I'm not that much a one for architecture, at least not detailed architecture, and so I just began fooling around. Got past my first idea, which was to paint the mother from "Psycho" in the upper window... and ended up with a castle at sunrise/sunset.

Sure, one week soon, I will paint the challenge straight. But for the time being, I'm enjoying taking these challenges and making them into something that really challenges me.

I am looking forward to spring. The air has grown more clear, and the sunshine, warmer, more yellow. But there's snow and now ice everywhere, and it's not lovely, not here at least. Maybe I need to go to Maine or Vermont and just soak myself in snow and paint landscapes that are supposed to be locked in snow in January.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chugging along

Chugging Along. Oil on cradled gessoboard, 6x12

Spent yesterday on the couch, flattened by something, who knows what. At first, I thought it was just too much exercise and too little sleep, but as the day wore on, the bad sensations moved around in my body and I realized I've caught something. Easy enough to do, I guess.

Today, it's snowing again, and I'm feeling a little better, but still not up to snuff. So I will see if I can do some more sleeping, and get back on my feet.

I nearly scraped this little painting off, and I still might, but I thought I'd post it. The car makes me think of one my mother used to have.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Remembering Joe Strummer

Misquamicut Parking Lot. Oil on stretched canvas, 16x20

Misquamicut was cold and nearly deserted when I made this painting. A storm was rolling in, and as the afternoon wore on, the clouds thickened over the ocean but the sun shone beneath them - for a while. At the other end of the lot, a man watched and coached as a youth rode a four-wheeler. They were so far away and the wind was so loud, I couldn't hear a sound.

This painting is another effort to get specific and put people in my landscapes. Not all the time, no - for me, the very emptiness of the landscape attracts me. I see myself in it, and see all the possibilities. A horizon draws me like almost nothing else. It pulls at my curious self, at my optimistic self, at my courageous self. I wonder what's over that rise, and believe that it's something better, and often, I am brave enough to go and look.

The whole ethos of discovery pushes me hard - and tends to keep people out of my landscapes. But seeing them, drawing them, painting them, allowing them in - that's good, too. And different. And for me, hard.

Sleepless last night, I watched most of a documentary on Joe Strummer, guitarist and singer of The Clash, and one of the heroes of my past. I had forgotten how stirring the band's music and lyrics are, and what a thrill it was to hear them and see them for the first time. It felt like the world was on fire when they played, that all things were possible, and political change was practically as available as desire.

The Clash made it big, and collapsed of its own weight, and I lost track of them, of Strummer, of all of that. He died in 2002, of a congenital heart problem. Laid down on his couch and never got up.

The movie said lots of things to me, but one thing that sticks was something Strummer believed: No input, no output.

It's important for me to remember that, and go looking for new things, new challenges.

Thanks for reading!

For more, see

Monday, January 26, 2009

Crandall Field, Take One

Crandall Field. Oil on stretched canvas, 10x30, sold

In lovely Ashaway, R.I., "Crandall" is a big name. The Crandall family owns Ashaway Line & Twine (it's so rare and lovely to have a company name that rhymes, isn't it?). And the Crandall family once owned Crandall Field, a gorgeous open space that stretches along Route 3 for acres and acres.

On almost any day, you'll see people playing on Crandall Field. Playing and running, chasing their dogs, walking hand in hand, flying radio-controlled airplanes, just enjoying the outdoors. Across Route 3, and set off by the open space of Crandall Field, churches and big, lovely New England houses line the road.

My husband Peter grew up in Ashaway, and he has lots of memories of all sorts of goings on there. Some involved Crandall Field, or the land or water around the Line & Twine, but most involved various nefarious acts of juvenile delinquency in the cemetery and the woods on Cemetary Lane (yes, Ashaway spelled the street name incorrectly until a few years ago).

It was cold and spitting snow on the day I made this painting, and for once, there was no one in Crandall Field. But I went back, and in the spirit of painting landscapes with people in them, am working on another Crandall Field piece with all sorts of activity.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Second verse

Tulips II. Oil on masonite panel, 8x8. Sold

I took another stab at the tulips. This time, I used a palette knife for most of the work on the flowers. The mug, I did with a brush. I like the mug, and the way the light shines through the vase and reflects on the floor. But I'm really looking to going outside again!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Glimpse of Carrie's brain

Uh, duh...

These are tulips, not daffodils!

Glimpse of spring

Daffodils 1, oil on stretched canvas, 8x10

It feels like we've been in the depths of winter forever. Amos's death is part of it, for sure. But the snow and the cold go on and on and on. Surely, I don't have to stand in the middle of the landscape to paint it, but that's what I prefer and that is next to impossible around here, with all this snow.

So, I try new things. Time was, I'd never paint around my house. I don't understand this, but I've seen similar balkings in other painters. The yard seems at once too personal and too mundane. But this winter, there's been day after day when I couldn't leave the yard, and so my inhibitions - or whatever they are - have fallen.

And I'm trying stuff inside. I'm doing the Different Strokes challenges. I've returned to pet paintings, my first love. I have paintings going that I'm making from drawings, for the first time.

And here's a still life. It's not my favorite kind of painting to make, but so what? For an extra added challenge, I painted the bouquet from directly above, thus the skewed perspective.

The daffodils are lovely, and they brighten our dining room table. I can look past them and see cardinals and bluejays, wrens and goldfinches and squirrels on the feeders and suet. Yesterday morning, I heard a spring bird. I don't know what it was, but I know its song, and it's not the song of a winter bird.

The days are growing longer on each end, and I find true comfort in that. Soon enough, the snow will be gone, and I'll be painting daffodils springing from the fertile, sun-warmed earth.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Night into day

Jefferson Memorial, oil on stretched canvas, 6x12

A while ago, I stumbled on a cool blog, "Different Strokes from Different Folks," ( In it, a woman named Karin Jurick posts a photograph every two weeks. Painters of all sorts paint the photograph and send jpgs of their paintings to Karin, and she uploads them onto her blog.

I'm just enchanted by this idea. And it's such fun to see all these paintings, by people of wildly different points of view, skill levels, ages, backgrounds.

This painting of the Jefferson Memorial is my first participation. I've wanted to try it for a while, but over the Christmas holidays, Karin did something different: She had participants email headshots to her, then she paired up people and had each make a painting of the other. I was too late for this. It's a fascinating experiment, though, and you can see the paintings on Karin's blog.

I was tremendously moved by the inauguration of Barack Obama yesterday. It's been a long time since I've been proud to be an American. A long time since I've felt there was any hope for this country. Now, today, I do. That's why I imbued this painting with stars and also with stripes.

For more, see

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A new path

A New Path. Oil on stretched canvas, 6x12, sold

Yesterday morning, enough snow had fallen that I could not get the Miata out of the driveway. Heck, I couldn't even turn it around. Peter had a medical appointment, and so he had to take the VW. I canceled the meeting I was supposed to have, and I stayed home and shoveled and painted.

In the painting is the path that Kaja, the oldest dog, forged through the grove, to investigate Amos's grave. I struggled to make it look like a path, with shadows on one side, and light on another. I struggled with how to make the shadowed edge look sharp, even though its sharpness is composed of the softest snow.

No one else has walked the path that Kaja set in the snow. But Peter and I both shoveled new paths, and of course, the dogs made their own. Today, the snow has settled. It's mostly fallen off the branches. The dogs have run and rolled and romped and tracked it up. Jojo has perfected a sort of running attack, racing at Woodreau, the little bichon, and smashing into him. He rolls ass over tea kettle in the soft snow and leaps up, begging for more. She's ready to give it to him, too.

That's us as a country, isn't it? Except that the dogs have done it in fun, in play, and on a soft surface. We've been treated to eight years of the running attack, but f0r real, and on the hardest, most abrasive surface imaginable. And we've gotten up, time after time after time, only to find that we're targets again.

On this Inauguration Day, I'm excited and happy and proud to be an American. And most of all, I am relieved that the era of George Bush is finally, mercifully, finished.

Monday, January 19, 2009

At peace

Waterford Beach. Oil on stretched canvas, 10x20

Our dear old cat Amos died on Sunday, some time between 4 a.m., when Peter checked him, and 7 a.m., when I found him on the kitchen floor. We buried him in a sunny spot in our yard, and overnight, snow fell and covered his grave.

This morning, our oldest dog, Kaja, broke from the pack and trudged through the new snow to Amos's grave. She sniffed around, and wagged her tail and then looked at me and made her way back to my side.

I don't know what they know. I do know that they all understood that Peter and I were very, very upset yesterday. Every time I broke down crying, they all came to me, and pushed against me or tried to lick my face. Woodreau, the always-frightened little bichon, did what, for him, amounted to tricks all day. It certainly seemed that he was trying to amuse us.

Amos is at peace now. And I believe, I fully believe, that he is with all the pets we have loved and wept over as they died. They're at their best, all of them, playing and romping and waiting for Peter and me.

I made this painting on Saturday. Peter and I had to leave the house, the grief, the painful act of watching Amos die. Peter walked down to the beach and took photographs; I made this painting. A photographer from The Day came along, and took pictures, and I was in the paper on Sunday. I was wearing a giant fake-fur hat with earflaps, and I look dopey but OK. My painting looks wonderful, and that's what matters.

Sadly, in the paper, they spelled my name wrong. But they got it right on the website.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Too cold

Ten-degree Snow. Oil on gessoboard panel, 12x12
please contact me for price and shipping/delivery info

I was thinking of Robin Weiss's alders (, Jan. 11) when I made this painting. The specificity of his painting really intrigued me. I could feel the alder bark in my fingertips.

My tree trunks were nowhere near as interesting as alder tree trunks, and so they are not as specific. But I do think I got the feeling of the hard rocks under the soft blanket of snow, which was what truly interested me in this scene. I also like the vividness of the golden grass against the mantle of snow.

I did figure out, while making this painting, that while it's fine to paint in the cold, it's not so fine to paint in a snowstorm. When the paint is cold enough, the snow crystals get in it and don't melt. The paint turns sort of sandy, and becomes very difficult to work. I started this painting standing at my easel and finished it sitting in the front seat of the VW. So is that still plein-air? I'm going to say yes.

My heart is heavy this morning. Amos the cat still lingers. He is more confused than ever, and spent hours this morning with his head over the lip of the water bowl, staring into the water. He can barely hold his head up, and I became convinced at one point that he was contemplating drowning himself. I took the bowl away and he mewed and mewed until I put it back.

He doesn't want to drink or eat, and he can barely walk. I think maybe we should take him to the vet and have him euthanized, but it's 4 degrees outside, and the vet is a half-hour away, and all Amos seems to want to do is stay in the warm kitchen that he knows and loves and stare at the water bowl.

So I get down on the floor with him, and hug him and pet him and whisper to him, and I look into his confused eyes and tell him I love him and beg him to let go, and all of this brings my mother's death back to me so hard, it wrenches my heart and my very soul. I know I am not strong enough for all of this. But I pull myself together and get on with it.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Looking Out, oil on cradled gessoboard panel, 8x8, sold

My friend Ann Stewart and I have joined the gym at the Marriott Hotel up the road from my house. I need to lose weight and get in shape. She has problems with her back. The hotel has a workout room with gym machines and weights, but more to the point, it has a nice pool and a jacuzzi.

So we exercise and we swim, and best of all, we loll in the jacuzzi. I'd never been in one before, and now, I know why people have them. It's heaven, absolute heaven, to lower myself into the soft, warm water and let my fatigue and worries float away.

This painting shows the view from the jacuzzi. Aching and tired, I was stretching my muscles and staring out the window when I realized that what I was seeing could be a pretty nice painting.

Amos is still alive, and, in fact, seems a little stronger today, a little more with it. I know that this is hope against hope, but there it is. I patted his head and he seemed to know who I was, and even purred a little.

Thanks for reading.

For more paintings, see

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Amos. Oil on stretched canvas.

Sweet old Amos is on his last legs, I'm afraid. He's 18-plus, and suddenly, he's just lost. He's been a little drifty for a few years, but in the past couple days, he clearly no longer knows where he is or what's happening. But he's not in pain, he doesn't seem to be scared. He's just confused and very, very sleepy.

Amos is the last of the oldest crew of pets. Peter and I found him when we lived in Boise. It was November, and night, and raining, a cold, cold rain, and we'd gone to the mall - something we almost never did.

When we came out, we heard mewing from beneath a car, and there was Amos. He was a young cat, maybe a few months old, and he was wet and scared and hungry. We brought him home, just to give him shelter until we could find a home for him - and 18 years later, here he still is.

He walked into the house, walked up to the dogs' food bowl, shouldered them aside and ate. They just stared, amazed. Hours later, he decided that our bichon, Gus, was his mother, and from that moment until he grew bigger than Gus, he sucked on Gus's chest daily. Gus would look at us with an expression of worry and total incomprehension - and let Amos do what he wanted.

Amos spent years climbing, and then strutting up there, high above the ground. It started in Idaho. We looked out the window one day and there was Amos, on a branch 30 feet above the ground. The climbing ended in Maine when, we are pretty sure, he fell off the roof of the barn. He wasn't hurt, and we hadn't seen or heard anything, but for years, we'd seen him up on the roof, and on high branches of the trees - and then, one day, we didn't.

He always staked out posts, though. Everywhere we've lived, Amos claimed a spot for himself. In Standish, Maine, it was beside a little creek that ran through the yard. In Pawcatuck, it was on the stone wall beside the driveway. He'd station himself in these places and stay there for hours on end, no matter what the weather. In Portsmouth, Va., he would duck under the fence and get up on the neighbor's back porch, hang with the cats there and share their food.

He's never been any trouble. He's only been sick once in his life. He's never peed around, or clawed furniture or caused any trouble. For most of his life, he'd go out with the dogs and come in with them. He obeyed commands better than they ever did. He's never asked for much, except for love and a warm place to curl up, and we've given him both, always.

When Amos dies, it will be the end of the pets we had when we married. Gus the bichon is long dead. Najim, the Pekingese; Shatzi, the dascshund-chihuahua; Niobe, the great white cat; Tricksy, her black-and-white nemesis, and Katie, Tricksy's mother, they're all long gone.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of them, or miss them, or treasure the moments I had with them.

Soon, too soon, Amos will join them. And I will miss him with all my heart.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fauvist flamingos

Flamingos. Oil on canvas, 6x12, $50

I set out yesterday to find a place where I would see the white sky, the white snow and something interesting in between. I loaded up the Miata, and turned to open the driver's side door and saw... our yard.

Over my head, the grey-white sky stretched out, soft and threatening at once. Light held blue in the shadows of the fir trees, and the crusted snow showed only the fewest of shadows. Our two flamingos tipped a little under their mantles of snow. There was no need to go anywhere else.

My brother Rand, looking at the plein-air work of Robin Weiss, ( had an interesting comment. He said that Weiss uses small pieces of color to great effect. And he does.

This is just about the polar opposite of me. I tend to use lots and lots of color, so much so that Carden Holland, an artist and teacher whose work I admire, said she thought I was a fauvist at heart.

I had to look this up, "fauvist." According to "The first of the major avant-garde movements in European 20th century art, Fauvism was characterized by paintings that used intensely vivid, non-naturalistic and exuberant colours.

The style was essentially expressionist, and generally featured landscapes in which forms were distorted. The Fauves first exhibited together in 1905 in Paris. They found their name when a critic pointed to a renaissance-like sculpture in the middle of the same gallery as the exhibition and exclaimed derisively 'Donatello au milieu des fauves!' ('Donatello among the wild beasts!'). The name caught on, and was gleefully accepted by the artists themselves.

The movement was subjected to more mockery and abuse as it developed, but began to gain respect when major art buyers, such as Gertrude Stein, took an interest. The leading artists involved were Matisse, Rouault, Derain, Vlaminck, Braque and Dufy. Although short-lived (1905-8), Fauvism was extremely influential in the evolution of 20th century art."

So, OK. I'll gladly - gleefully, even! - accept a label as a modern day fauve!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Triumph over technology

Harkness in January. Oil on cradled wood panel, 4x6

I made this painting Sunday, sitting inside the VW, thawing. I had tried a larger one, out in the frigid wind, and gave up after an hour or so. I was frozen. But the day was still beautiful and moving, and I had this small panel, and so I painted, right there in the front seat. I very much like the wood panel. I like the smooth feel of it, and the way the paint glides on. I think this little painting has the feel of a cold, windy day at the edge of the Sound.

Now, inside and warm, I've struggled for the past three - count 'em three! - hours to master enough technology to make this blog do what I've promised it would do, and thought it was doing: Sending emails automatically to those of you who've signed up to follow it.

Turns out, I was wrong. It's not been sending those emails. I didn't know this until yesterday! So, I do apologize. Most of you are, like me, not technically gifted, so I believe and hope that you'll cut me some slack.

And I really hope you will sign up to receive updates! As promised! See the little box to the right of the painting? It says "subscribe via email," and has a little space where you can enter your email address. Just do that, hit the "subscribe" button and then type in the letters you see (this proves you're not a robot, apparently). You will have to go to your email inbox and reply to a confirmation email, but that's it. Then, every time I post, that posting will be delivered, picture and all, to your email.

I am subscribed this way to a blog of an amazing plein-air painter, Robin Weiss. His blog is and his work is really great. I've been enjoying receiving the emails with his paintings, and thought that's what all you followers were getting!

So sign up, won't you? And thanks!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Breaking through the crust

Sunday Afternoon. Oil on canvas, 6x6

Sunday morning, I can tell it's cold just by looking out the window. The dogs make no effort to move, even though it's long past their usual wake-up time. They must have some sort of internal sensor that lets them know when the weather is unforgiving.

When we finally do go out, it's worse than it looks. What appears to be new, soft snow crunches underfoot. A half-inch of sleet has fallen, and so, with each step, you break through. Even the smallest dog breaks through.

This crust transports me to my youth, to skiing in Vermont with my dad. He and I would go out when all the sane people stayed in. Rain, sleet, ice, crust, it didn't matter. Whatever it was, we would try it, because it would make us better skiers. And it did.

The first time we went skiing out West, I remember seeing a couple of crossed slalom poles marking a hazard. I went over to check it out. It was a patch of ice about the size of a dinner plate. Westerners would have closed down entire mountains, if this was their measure of ski-ability.

Sunday afternoon, Peter and I drive to Harkness. He sets off, camera in hand, to the ice-covered gardens. I try to set up by the car, but it's too windy. I end up painting two pieces, more or less sitting in the car. One of them, I like, and will post later this week.

Hours later, we pull into the driveway and we're still cold, still numb, but the setting sun lights the path through the grove, turns the snow blue and gold, and stretches shadows out over that awful crust. It grows more beautiful by the minute, until, at last, the light goes.

Thanks for reading!

Why not buy a painting this week? Contact me at, and we'll make it happen.
Remember, art makes a great gift. And no calories!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Edge of the front

Storm Coming / Misquamicut Beach. Oil on canvas, 8x10

In my new quest to be specific, I started painting this afternoon at Misquamicut Beach, in the state beach parking lot. The grass on the dunes shimmered, silvery gray in the pearly storm-coming light. And down at the end of the lot, a boy rode a four-wheeler while a man watched.

I sketched the boy, the man, the four-wheeler. I sketched the trailer and the car that was towing it. And then I painted the dunes, and the lowering sky, and tried hard to put the man, the boy, the car, the trailer and the four-wheeler in. And it didn't work. Too much paint, too little experience. So I rubbed them out, and now, I'm waiting for the painting to dry enough for me to try again.

My hands were red and stiff with cold. My hair is too long, and was in my eyes. My feet and thighs were cold, and I was out of coffee, and hungry and ready to go, when I turned and saw this car parked in front of a dune, by an access path to the beach. It was simple, it was specific, and by now, the clouds had pulled in lower and darker and more malevolant.

So, a first step toward this new challenge.

And I had two thoughts while I was driving to the beach. Or maybe it's the same thought. If I built houses, I'd call my company Sherlock Homes. And if I had a crane company? Ichabod Crane, of course.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 9, 2009


Corgis. Oil on panels, 32x8.

On these frigid winter days, and in light of the 23rd annual Art Show at the Dog Show contest, and surrounded as I am by those of the canine persuasion, I've been having an absolute blast painting dogs.

These four insane Corgi dogs have amused me to no end. Painting them was a real challenge, too. In the photo I had, their eyes were very dark, all except the third from the left, whose light eyes began to spook me as I worked. The rest, I had to find their eyes. And I had to find ways to differentiate the one from the next. It was really fun! I haven't met these dogs, so I don't know how well I got them, but I sure enjoyed the process.

If you know anyone who wants a portrait of a pet, send that person my way. So far, I've only tried dogs and cats, but I'm willing to apply myself to any pet. To see more, visit and click through to "Pets."

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


January Dusk, oil on canvas, 12x12

I painted this one from inside the house after the most recent snowstorm. I loved the way the shadows stretched across the snow, following the contours of the ground. Without those shadows, you couldn't tell at all that there are curves and hillocks and dips back there. I made the shadows too dark at first, and had to wait for the painting to set up a little before I could lighten the color. I really like this one!

I've got my next challenge in mind: Be more specific. Not only is it this landscape, on this day, with this light and this atmosphere - but it's this landscape, with this truck driving down the road, or this bird flying through, or that person bending over the mailbox. I think it's time for me to try putting in some of the stuff that I've spent time learning to take out.

It's an idea, at least!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Iceman... well, you know

Heavy snow, oil on panel, 6x6,

I started this one late in the afternoon of the most recent big snowfall. I held the panel in my hand and painted while sitting on the bed. The dogs thought this was great fun, and only because my voice is so loud and my language so blue did I manage to avoid a series of potentially disastrous catastrophes. Though, really, what catastrophe is not disastrous?

This morning, everything in my little Gales Ferry world is covered with ice. The trees creak when the wind blows. Some slender limbs and fir branches, bent to the ground under the weight of the ice, are now frozen in their arcs to that very ground.

Peter taped a "beware of ice!" note to the inside of the storm door, before he went to bed last night. Somehow, there's enough traction that walking on the deck is OK, but just beneath the bottom steps, where dog feet and human feet have stomped the snow down, it's treacherously slick. The yard itself is no picnic, either. And it will take me an hour to get the ice off the car.

I have a show in March at the Lighthouse Gallery! The show is with another painter, a woman whose name I can't remember, who makes the most lovely and brilliantly colored streetscapes. The Lighthouse Gallery is a new and small place, humble, in a strip mall in Groton.

Money from sales helps support the Lighthouse Voc-Ed program, a really wonderful program that helps people of pretty much all ages, with pretty much all disabilities, learn how to function independently in the world.

The gallery is run by Chris Rose, former admissions guy at Lyme Academy. He likes my stuff well enough to allow it into his gallery, and so I am grateful and happy. And looking forward to March!

Thank you for reading, everyone.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New England morning

Beautiful downtown historic Windham, Conn.

The day dawned cold and harsh, and it clearly was a day for pastels. I sat in the Miata, in the driveway of a home that was empty and for sale, and painted this lovely little downtown. I felt less rusty with the pastels this time, smoother and more in control.

Really, there's nothing like a New England village on a bright winter day, if you want scenic. The light bounces off the tight-knit buildings, shadows fall in blue streaks on the snow, and the rooftops sparkle and shine.

I've been remembering Colchester, Conn., as having a lovely, open green in its center. But I haven't been able to find the scene my memory keeps serving up, though I've been to Colchester twice.

When my mother was alive, she would get hooked on particular tastes and want them again and again, nearly to the exclusion of any other food. One of her flights of culinary desire brought her to Colchester, to a bakery that produced loaves of black, Russian-style pumpernickel. Sitting here, I can feel the loaves, heavy and smooth, and smell the bread's rich scent, with its punctuation of what? Anise seed? Carraway? Some high, bright, contrasting note.

And I remember driving to Colchester to get this bread for her, and seeing the village green. But now, I can't find it. I can only imagine that I am mixing up my images and memories. Towns don't get rid of their greens, do they?

Monday, January 5, 2009

A toe in the ACEO market

Backyard storm, oil on canvas paper, with envelope, 2.5 x 3.5

I'm learning as I go, and it's great.

Apparently, artists have, for years if not centuries, traded miniatures of their work. So far, I've only traded full-sized pieces!

Well, over time, and in the eBay fervor of the 20th century, the miniatures traded hand-to-hand between artists have become known as artist trading cards, or, if they're sold rather than traded, Art Card Editions and Originals. They've evolved to be the size of, well, sports trading cards.

Now, ACEOs are a big category on eBay. They usually sell for far less than bigger paintings, though I understand that sometimes, they sell for more than their bigger brothers.

I was intrigued by the idea when I ran into it on eBay, and became even more intrigued when my friend, the wonderful painter Michelle Filer, also mentioned it. I ran into some appropriately sized canvas paper, bought it, and gave it a try.

Here's my first attempt. It's 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches - apparently, this is the rule - and comes in a nifty little envelope, too. Cute, eh?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

And now for something completely different...

Corgi No. 1. Oil on panel, 8x8.

Snow still covers the land here, and I painted two snow pieces yesterday that I really like... But I'm also working on some dog paintings, and thought I'd offer one up, for a change of pace.

Kathryn Skelton, a friend and birthday buddy, sent a photo Christmas card of herself, her husband and their four Corgis. For starters, I think the whole concept is very cool. Usually, or at least in my life, the only people who send those cards are your regular nuclear families. It's like the old Christmas letters... no one ever sends them out saying, "Well, Joe got kicked out of school because he got caught cheating on his exams, and Mary Sue just can't seem to lose that 50 pounds she put on after the birth of her illegitimate child... " No, those letters always are all sunshine and light, and those picture Christmas cards always show a husband, a wife and at least one human child.

So, good for Kathryn and Israel, who have no human children, for sending out such a happy and paradigm-shifting Christmas card. Being a member of a nontraditional family myself, I felt cheered and validated.

And the corgi dogs, to put it in Mainespeak (the Skeltons are from Maine), were wicked cute. So cute, I just couldn't resist. I'll have all four panels done soon, and will showcase them here as a unit.

In light of the nontraditional holiday, I've been thinking that perhaps next year, I will make some nontraditional resolutions. I'll resolve to start smoking again, or, better yet, chewing tobacco. I'll make a point of avoiding absolutely all exercise. I'll resolve to wash only once a week, cuss incessantly and, on Thursdays, eat only chocolate.

Really, wouldn't it be delightful to make resolutions that even your most slothful self could keep?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Back in the saddle

Stonington Borough, from the docks. Pastel on sanded panel

As I sat in the car at Stonington docks to paint this one, kids were running around, throwing snowballs, yelling. It was a holiday like only a winter holiday can be.

Yesterday, I questioned everything. I was unhappy with my paintings and myself. I've made no sales this week. My painting-a-day crusade went well for nearly 10 days, but as I stopped pushing, it stopped succeeding. Think there's a lesson in there somewhere?

Yesterday, I felt like I was in the middle of the biggest mistake of my life.

Today, it feels like an adventure again.
The sun is shining bright and clean, and I'm heading out to paint.

Thanks for reading.

While you're here, why not buy a painting?
Just let me know which one you want, and I will move it to my Etsy story,
where you can buy it using paypal or a credit card.
If you don't want one, tell a friend!
Make it a resolution!
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Friday, January 2, 2009


Snowstorm. Oil on panel, 4x12

It's still cold and snowy out there, more like Maine than like Connecticut. I love the way the shadows collect, blue and fragile, beneath the fir trees, inside footsteps, in the treads the cars' tires make on our unplowed drive.

Yesterday, the setting sun added gold into the mix. It was so fleeting, I didn't have a chance to paint it - but I saw it, and recall it, still.

This morning, for an instant, smoky wisps of thin clouds turned a brilliant red-orange against a light blue sky, as the sun pulled over the horizon and shone through the trees. The snow in the field turned pink. And the dogs cavorted and ran and barked while I watched, with my mouth open.

Why not buy a painting today?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A bright new year

Harkness Park, Oil, 10x20, $65

Happy New Year, everyone! I painted this one on a chilly afternoon earlier in the week. It was cold enough that after about an hour, my paint got thick and hard to work. But it was a tropical paradise compared to today.

I was out with the dogs in the new-fallen snow this morning, and it was cold. Ten degrees. The frozen sap in the tree limbs popped like gunshots as the wind howled. In about three minutes, the dogs were howling, too. Their feet froze, and they looked at me as though somehow, I was to blame. And I guess I was.

I got them all back in the house without incident, and it seems more than likely that the day will warm. But no oils for me today - at least not outside! I'm thinking an in-the-car pastel trip is what I need. It is gorgeous outside. In the early morning light, the snow was blue and pink, and still on branches and stone walls, in the sheltered places. On the untrodden paths and open fields of our land, a perfection of white held true. I'm itching to paint!

It is a new day, a new year... and the 21st anniversary of my sobriety. That's something to be thankful for, indeed.

I step into this hour, this day, this year in the light of the clearest hope and truest dream I've ever had. In all my years of doing work that I believed mattered, I only rarely had the sense that what I produced enchanted people or made their lives - or mine - better. Now, I have that feeling all the time, and it is wonderful. I have you to thank for that - my friends, my family, the strangers, all of you who've found and loved and bought my work, and supported me in it. So many people have helped and keep helping, and I am grateful, every day.

I wish you peace and joy, inspiration and courage, and the will for all of it, in this bright new year.

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