Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More Hell

Storm Warning. Oil on stretched canvas, 20x20

After all that went on yesterday with Tufts Health Insurance, Peter called the pharmacy today to find that, as far as the pharmacist can tell, our insurance is still canceled.

On top of that, I got a letter today from Blue Cross, telling me they won't insure me because I have arthritis in my knees.

I've been painting with a palette knife these past few days. I am amazed I'm not painting with a butcher knife.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Insurance Hell

See How They Run. Oil on canvas board, 8x10

I spent the day in insurance hell. It's been just about a year since I left journalism. We've been on COBRA'd insurance ever since. Until a few months ago, we had Blue Cross. But then, my former company switched to Tufts, and everything fell apart.

Our premiums jumped by more than 50 percent. The insurer simply rejected everything out of hand. Every medication, every treatment, their first response was "no." It brought to mind "Great Benefit," the horrible insurance company in the John Grisham book "The Rainmaker." We've applied for coverage from another insurer - cheaper monthly fees, but a gruesome deductible - and are waiting to hear.

On Friday, Peter went to the pharmacy and was told that we were no longer insured. Believe me, we spent the weekend being very, very careful.

Today, I spent my time on the phone getting very, very angry.

To cut a maddeningly long story short, I will relate only the penultimate interaction I had with the company. It had been trying - for weeks and weeks, the Tufts guy said - to get through to someone at my former company, named "Beth Welnetz."

This is a name I've never heard. "Well," the Tufts guy told me, "she's the one who handles insurance. We've called her over and over, and we have to speak with her before we can do anything about your insurance. She just doesn't return our calls."

OK, I said, I will track her down. Tell her to call extension 8593, the Tufts guy said.

I called my former company, and the woman who handles the insurance there told me that Beth Welnetz... works for Tufts.

I was like one of those cartoon characters with steam coming out of my ears. I called Tufts back and left an infuriated message for the guy I'd been dealing with. I called the general number and burst into angry tears at the person I got on the line. Finally, I called the extension the guy had told me to have Beth Welnetz call - and it was HER extension. I left the angriest message ever on her phone.

An hour later, the problem was solved. Three people from Tufts called me and apologized. One asked whether there was anything else they could do for me.

Oh, my. These are not bright people.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Redoing Guilford

Inlet, Guilford. Oil on stretched canvas, 8x10

After the incident with the skunk, I tried to get back to paint again in Guilford, but was waylaid, several times, and ended up painting this one in the studio.

It took me a while to figure out what bothered me about that first painting. Mostly, I think, the problem was that the reflection of the trees on the left was so much bigger and so much more eye-catching in real life than in my painting. The inlet opened wider, too.

So in this small piece, I tried to focus on those things. It's still not what I want, but is closer.

As always, I welcome these periods of feeling unsettled and unhappy with my paintings. They signal growth, I know, and so I am willing to live through them. I'm thankful that you are, too.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Wealth of Sun

Riches. Oval canvas, 16 inches at the widest point

It was early in June, or late in May, and weather had moved in. "Oh, a rainy day!," I thought. "I'll go into the basement to paint."

Little did I know that I wouldn't see the sun for weeks.

But I happily went to the basement with this oval canvas to paint a bigger-than-lifesize still life of cut roses. When I brought the painting upstairs, the colors were just hideous. Reds and magentas seem to suffer in the basement light.

The flowers themselves also were hideous. And the composition, well, that was hideous, too.

I scraped them off, let the canvas dry and went at it again.

I really like painting on a round canvas, but it will be a while before I tackle an oval one again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recipe for Frustration

Dreaming of Italy. Oil on canvas, 8x8

Here is a truly horrible admission: We've lived in this house for a year and a half and have never cleaned the oven.

We have changed the piece of tin foil that lines the oven's bottom. And truly, not that much has boiled over. But the Suzy Homemaker part of my brain has chided me every time I've opened that oven door, for about the past 14 months.

So the other night, when Peter announced he was going fishing (this was in the middle of what appeared to be a near-hurricane), I decided I would clean the oven. Well, I decided I would instruct the oven to clean itself. Yes, that's what makes the admission truly horrible. It's a self-cleaning oven, and still, neither of us has cleaned it.

I shut the oven door, turned the knob to "clean," turned the heat to 500 degrees - and nothing happened.

I've never had a self-cleaning oven, and there were no instructions - so I fiddled with buttons and knobs, and finally realized you had to lock the oven before it would clean itself.

And so I did.

A few minutes later, I began to think this was just a bad idea - it was too hot to be heating the house up like this. So I shut everything off. But I couldn't get the oven unlocked.

I tried everything. Pushing, pulling, pressing, begging. Turning this knob and that. Yanking. Swearing. Being gentle. Getting angry. Changing the time on the clock. Changing the temperature.

I looked on the internet and found nothing, no direction, no ideas, except one mention of unplugging the oven. Ours is a wall unit, so that idea didn't help me one whit.

Peter came home and I had to admit what I'd done. He was pretty good about it. Visions of takeout food danced in his head, I think. Visions of $500 oven-repair house calls danced in mine.

The next day, I got up early, thinking that maybe the oven just needed to cool off. Nope. Still locked.

I turned all the knobs and dials again, and finally, figuring that it was the only thing I hadn't tried, because it seemed so anti-intuitive, I turned the control knob to "clean."

The lock released.

I rarely read directions. I don't like them. I like figuring out how to do things. Next time, though, I think I'll try the directions - or at least make sure to have them close at hand.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer's Brightest Gift

The Stars All Fall to Earth. Oil on stretched canvas, 8x10. sold

Fireflies live by the hundreds, by the thousands, in our back field. In late June, when the days lengthen and grow warm, the fireflies come out.

They start to show at dusk, in the grass, near the ground. As night falls, they fly higher, and show themselves in the bushes and the trees and the dark sky overhead.

I've never seen anything like this. I've seen a firefly here, and a firefly there, or even three or four zipping at the same time through our back yard on Ocean Avenue. But here on Whalehead Road, it's like the stars have all come out in the grass in our back field.

There's no way to take a photograph of this. And so, I decided to paint it. It's hard to get the dark blue right on this computer, and it is a very dark painting. But in real life, it sparkles.

Well, here's an idea

Sandy from Center Art & Framing in West Hartford Center asked me to make a DVD of my paintings to play in the store. Every artist the gallery represents is given this opportunity.

I'd never made a DVD, but it turns out that I have the software, and so I set out to make one. It has 230-odd paintings on it, a number of songs, and it takes about 30 minutes to play.

Now, these are my paintings and so they have a certain place in my heart - but the DVD is surprisingly delightful and relaxing. I have watched it a number of times, and forced family members to watch it as well. They've all found it fun and, well, relaxing.

So - I'm going to put DVDs up for sale for $10 each. If you want one, either click on the PayPal button (it also accepts credit cards) or email me, and I'll get one to you. I know this is a wacky idea, but hey, you never know.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The beauty of nothing

"Stroller." Oil on canvas, 18x18, commission

I realized the other day that I haven't had a day off, a day in which I did pretty much nothing, for a long, long time. When you work for yourself, I realize, you just keep working. You work all the time - or at least I do. I work pretty much from the moment I get up until the moment I fall asleep.

And while that's great - and it truly is! - it's also just plain exhausting. And it's been showing in me. I've been tired and drifty and crabby, and did I mention tired? Of course, my tiredness can't manage to work itself out in a good eight hours' sleep. No. I sleep for three or four hours, then I'm up for an hour or two, then asleep again, if I'm lucky, for another few hours. This past week, I've been using an afternoon nap just to get through to evening.

So yesterday, after helping with the Blooms & Rooms garden tour in Mystic, I just did nothing. I loved every boring minute of it, too!

Thanks for reading. Now go and do nothing for a little while - on me!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Blue Morning

Blue Morning. Oil on stretched canvas, 12x12

It was early, early on a cloudy morning when I saw this painting. I had the dogs out - it wasn't even 6 - and in the dim, rain-soaked shadows, the field behind the house had turned blue.

Every blade of grass, every fringe of hay held tiny droplets of water that soaked up whatever light there was. When Smokey walked through the field, his leash pulled the grasses over, and as they sprang back up, the motion flicked the droplets from them, so it looked like blue smoke following our blue dog through the grass.

It was like that for a thin few moments, just long enough for me to drag the dogs back to the house, find the camera, and take a photo. By the time I got the camera back in the house and got the dogs back outside, the blue had lifted and the field was green again.

What a life!

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Connecting Connecticut

Hadlyme. Oil on canvas, 12x12. sold

I grew up in Connecticut, but you'd never know it from my grasp of the state's geography. So yesterday, when it became clear to me that because of a traffic jam on Route 9 (for instance, I didn't know you could get to Route 9 from West Hartford), I decided to cut across on Route 82, and see if there was something to paint on the way.

Maybe, just maybe, places would start to fall into my geographically challenged grasp.

Last fall, I was amazed to take Route 82 outside of Norwich and find myself in Colchester, on Route 85. So I knew that Route 82 would, eventually, take me to a place I knew, and a place from which I could find my way home.

I didn't know that it would take me through Chester and Hadlyme and near Gillette's Castle. I didn't know it would take me through some of the most luscious and scenic countryside I've seen in Connecticut.

It was tough to decide when to stop and paint; each hill and curve promised another beautiful view. So I stopped here, on a road near the ferry that goes to Chester. More egrets than cars passed me as I painted. I can hardly wait to go back.

Witnessing miracles

Sara. Oil on canvas panel, 5x7, to be donated to the Ledyard, Conn., animal shelter.

While I was painting last Saturday at Pet Supplies Plus in Groton, I saw a miracle.

A woman about my age had come into the store for supplies. She saw my paintings then, and everything else went away.

She came to the table as though she were being pulled there. Her focus narrowed until all she saw was the art, and she went quiet, head down, staring at the paintings. For her, suddenly, the store wasn't there. I wasn't there. Groton wasn't there. Her regular Saturday morning wasn't there. All those daily bits of life were pushed aside by my paintings.

This is the finest moment a painter can have, I think. Watching that woman become entranced by these pieces I had created, that was magic for me. That was a splendor of riches that surpasses everything.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Afternoon Encounter

Inlet, Guilford. Oil on stretched canvas, 18x18.

As you drive south on I-95 in Guilford, you see beautiful salt marshes on both sides of the highway. Yesterday afternoon, I set out to find them.

But Guilford, like so much of Connecticut, makes it next to impossible to reach or even see the water. After spending an hour or so driving around expensive cul-de-sac neighborhoods, I found a teeny pull-in beside an overpass, in a stretch of woods at the edge of a salt marsh.

I backed the van in (this took at least 10 forwards and backwardses), hauled my stuff 15 yards or so to the edge of the inlet, and began to paint.

In a while, I heard a rustling in the woods behind me. Headlines flashed through my brain: "Artist killed in plein air". "Guilford strangler strikes again". "Honestly, the painting wasn't THAT bad".

The reality was far more frightening than my lurid imaginings. The rustling stopped, and at my feet, on the path, was a skunk.

The skunk was between me and the van. I was between the skunk and water. The path was about 15 inches wide, and there was no other exit.

So I stood very still, and watched as the skunk made its slow way along. It was looking for food and finding it, sniffing, sniffing, sniffing. It sniffed its way right up to my easel holder, my coffee cup, the cover of my palette box. It sniffed the legs of my easel. It veered a little to the north, and I quietly, slowly, made my way up the path.

But it didn't leave! And why should it? I was in its territory, after all. So I watched it for a while. Honestly, it was a cute and clean little creature, and it didn't smell at all. I think it was a baby. Eventually, it got far enough away that I could pack up without imperiling myself, and so I did. I'm not thrilled with the painting, and so I'm going to go back - and I will have my eye out for the skunk.

My easel leg is in the front. That little white blob in the middle of the frame is the skunk. It's not a great shot, but I really didn't want to ask him to pose.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Van! Go!

Six O'clock Sun. Oil on stretched canvas, 10x10, $85

I used to make fun of people who parked their minivans crookedly, or sticking out, or taking up more than one space. Made fun of them or became infuriated by them.

Now, I understand.

We've had the minivan since March, and I still can't park it - even in a parking lot! I can't get the thing to drive straight into spaces. I have to back up, over and over, to get it straight.

I can't tell how long it is, or where the front is. I can't tell where the sides are. I have to open the door and look at the white lines on the lot, or even get out of the car to see whether I'm sticking out!

I parked so badly at a local pizza joint a couple weeks ago that I felt compelled to make a general apology to the people who were in the store, waiting for their pies. It looked like someone with some sort of mental issue had parked the van and then just walked away. Honestly, I was humiliated. I've been a good parker all my life.

I have parallel parked the van only once. This was in Ashland, Kentucky, on my way home from Arizona. I made such a hash of it that the people who'd just parked in front of me (also in a minivan - it was watching them park that made me sure I could do it) ended up directing me, and laughing their heads off.

It all makes me glad that we have the Miata!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Beauty of the Everyday

Nightscape. Oil on stretched canvas, 8x10

Ann Stewart and I were working out this morning when she said, "This would be fun if it weren't so boring."

We laughed - everyone did - but it got me thinking about painting. "This would be boring if it weren't so much fun," I thought.

People ask why I paint every day, and there are lots of reasons. One is that 20 years of newspapering accustomed me to daily deadlines and daily production.

Another is that I am still a new painter, working on my skills, and I need the daily onslaught of experiment, of gamble, of reaching, of daring failure, of beckoning success.

Still another is that I like the work of painting every day. I like that it takes this creative thing a little out of the realm of creativity and places it a little more in the realm of craftsmanship.

I am not trying to make political statements with my painting. I'm not trying to summon centuries of muses, or measure my work against DaVinci's, or travel to the cutting edge of contemporary American art. I am simply trying to make paintings that capture and transmit a feeling, and delight the eye and heart.

At my best, I think, my paintings are about finding the beauty and importance of the every day.

And so, I paint, every day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Daisy. Oil on canvas panel, 11x14.

I spent part of the day yesterday in Pet Supplies Plus in Groton, Conn., painting and spreading the word about the Art for Shelter Animals Project. Daisy is one of the dogs I painted. She's a Chesapeake Bay retriever, and she's with New England Chesapeake Retriever Rescue.

These are wonderful dogs, generally. They are smart and sweet and gentle. If you're interested in Daisy contact Liz Gomes at ctchessierescue@hotmail.com. I found Daisy on petfinder.com, and imagine she is still available.

I really like this painting, and it occurred to me that I have not been promoting my pet-painting business. If you know someone who's just nuts about their animals and might like to commission a pet portrait, please send that person my way. You can see more of my pet paintings at jacobson-arts.com.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A year's circle

Waves. Oil on stretched canvas, 20x20

The fireflies have come out in our back field again. Hundreds and hundreds of them flicker and light up the grass as dusk turns to night. And so I know that I have painted a year's worth of paintings, nearly one a day.

With the rather huge exception of my mother's not being here, this has been the best year of my life.

I want to thank all of you who have supported me in this adventure. It's been exhilarating, it's been fun - but it's been scary, exhausting and solitary. Knowing that old friends and new friends, and my few and dear family members are reading this blog and looking at my paintings has helped enormously. It has taken the edge off the terror, has given me energy and, surely, daily, helped me feel less alone.

All of your ideas and your comments have helped me, too. I have read each and every one, and treasured them all, positive and negative.

Those of you who have been moved enough by my art to buy it, you've made the sun shine in my life. There have been days this year when the very fact that you liked my paintings enough to buy them was the only thing that stopped me from giving up.

So I have painted through one year, and today, I stride with purpose, hope and optimism toward another. I look back and see some fine work, a lot of improvement, and plenty of room for more improvement.

And even on the days when my painting has not become what I would call "art," it has at least documented one of nature's moments, and the emotion of this solitary adventurer.

So, to all of you, thank you. I appreciate you more than I can say.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mean, mean cat

Puffy. Oil on stretched canvas, 8x10. sold

One thing about all this rain is that it forces me out of my comfort zone (the outside world) and down into my basement studio. Puffy, our mean and repugnantly ill-groomed cat, hangs out with me down there, and we've developed quite a friendship.

Puffy is poorly suited to her name. Her mother, a near-feral cat named Samantha, got out of our house in Maine and was too scared to come back. In the time it took us to get a Hav-A-Heart trap and capture Samantha, she'd been knocked up by the neighborhood tom, a surly guy tough enough to survive Maine's winters without benefit of a real home.

Samantha had four kittens, and we gave three away, kept Puffy and had Sam neutered. Frank, a dear and grumpy chow we had at the time, became fascinated with Puffy. We were pretty sure Frank would think Puffy was an hors d'oeuvre, but instead of eating her, he adopted her, wagging his little chow tail whenever he saw her, nuzzling her and generally acting as her protector.

Between the genes she inherited from her tomcat dad and the personality Frank apparently drilled into her, Puffy grew to be a mean, aggressive and disarmingly filthy cat. She never grooms herself, and rolls in whatever dirt she can find. She picks fights with the other cats. She sits at the top of the stairs and keeps the other cats from going into the basement, where the food and litter boxes are.

But she can be very loving.

So now, she welcomes me into her basement with loud purring. For a while, the downstairs couch was her favorite place, and she'd stay there for hours while I painted. Now, in typical Puffy fashion, she has absolutely fallen in love with a DVD/VCR box, and she sits, lays and sleeps on it for days at a time. Luckily for me, it's in the sight line of my current easel set-up.

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Accident

Lions and Tigers and Azaleas, Oh My. Oil on stretched canvas, 10x20

This painting is a revision of "Azalea Dreams," a piece I did a few weeks ago. Sandy, who runs Center Framing & Art, the gallery in West Hartford that's representing me, looked at that painting and suggested that I add more flowers and loosen up the trees on the right-hand side.

I was willing to give it a try, but not to just put more flowers into the original painting. I really like that painting, and I thought I might ruin it. Instead, I chose to repaint the scene, this time with more flowers, more color.

I decided to paint over an old canvas, something I often do. I like recycling the pieces that don't work for me. I like to have them gone, and I like painting over their bumpy surfaces.

I usually turn them upside down when I paint over them, so I won't be distracted by what I've already painted. But this time, I left the painting right-side up, mostly (and here is an insight to how lazy I am) because I had a good signature on the earlier painting, and I thought I'd just re-use it.

I painted without paying much attention to what I was doing, in terms of the first painting, and when I stopped and looked up, I saw that the sunlit trees from the first painting had ended up at the mouth of the path in the second painting. Cool!

I have to agree with Sandy, that the painting works better with more flowers. So all in all, this was a good experiment and a happy, happy accident.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

No Cows Yet

No Cows Yet. Oil on stretched canvas, 12x12
please contact me for price and shipping/delivery info

I had passed through Ganado, Arizona, and was on my way to the Canyon de Chelly, when I stopped to paint this field with the mesa in the background. This painting happened a little before "Storm Over Ganado." The clouds built up as I traveled down the road.

When I looked up from my painting, I saw a young boy herding a cow along the fence. A woman - his mother, I guessed - drove at his walking pace along the road.

I was on the Navajo reservation, which has an open range policy. Cows, horses, any and all animals are allowed to go wherever they want to go. And so, the adventurous ones do.

This boy had four or five more miles to walk behind this cow, he said. But they would get her home, before the storm came.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Marble No. 1. Oil on stretched canvas, 10-inch diameter

The house where we grew up had old-fashioned ceiling fixtures that looked for all the world like breasts. My mother replaced most of them, but the one in the living room remained.

In time, she got a really cool idea. She took a bunch of marbles and she unscrewed the light fixture, took it off, poured the marbles into it, and screwed it back into the ceiling.

When we turned on that ceiling fixture, the light would shine out through the marbles, in streaks and glints of color. What a great idea!

My mother helped me with one of my great ideas. In our old house in Maine, we had an uneven and saggy ceiling held in place by a grid made of pieces of lath, fastened with long screws to something under the second floor. It was an ugly ceiling, but there really was no replacing it, not unless we had thousands of dollars, and we didn't.

So I employed my mother and her good standing in AAA to get maps for me. Then she held the ladder while I nailed and glued maps in every square on that ceiling. You could lie on the couch and look up at western Montana, northern Vermont, the Rhode Island shoreline. It was great.

I had fun making this round painting. I had fun remembering, too.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Shade Garden. Oil on stretched canvas, 8x10

It felt like summer started today. Most of the plants are in, in the vegetable garden and the flower gardens. I've begun to weed. I cut my first bouquets of roses. I'm about a month late planting hollyhock, delphinium and foxglove seeds - actually, I am a year and a month late - but they will go in when I have time, and they will bloom this year or next year, and either way, it will be fine.

The little shade garden is looking as pretty as can be. Though they were mostly dormant last year, the Siberian irises are blooming this year. The impatiens are spreading and happy, and so far, knock on wood, no deer have decided to nibble.

I love the way the shade and the sun were playing in our yard and on the little garden when I painted this. It's a view that makes me smile whenever I see it.

So that's where I was!

Beside the Turf Farm. Oil on canvas, 12x12

I was on my way to the South County Art Association to pick up pieces Peter and I had gotten into the most recent regional show when I decided to take the road that was delineated by a sign showing an airplane.

I've wondered about this road every time I've passed it. Really, there aren't that many airports in rural Rhode Island, and I couldn't imagine which one this was.

And so I was stunned to realize it was the Richmond Airport.

For me, it was one of those moments when geography finally settles into place. I knew Route 138. I knew the Richmond Airport. I just didn't know that they were only a quarter of a mile apart. I'd have sworn it was a 20 minute ride from the one to the other.

Now, of course, that seems utterly ridiculous. But that's how it is with realizations, I guess.

The Richmond Airport is on the road where I stopped a week or so ago to paint a turf farm. Since I was there, I thought I'd have another go at it. But I passed this shady path beside the wide open field, and could not resist.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Sunny Afternoon. Oil on stretched canvas, 12x12

I came home yesterday and found my husband standing in the driveway, holding a black snake that was at least 6 feet long.

The snake was dead. So was the mother bluebird who had been tending two eggs in our bluebird house along the back fence. Peter had seen the snake hanging out of the box, but had not seen it in time to save the mama bluebird.

I admit, I burst into tears at the news. The bluebirds have been a daily source of pleasure for months, and we have looked forward to seeing the baby bluebirds ever since we saw the parents nesting.

Yes, it is nature doing what nature does. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Today, Peter killed another black snake. This one was about 5 feet long. All I can say is that maybe our little wren couple will be able to hatch their eggs safely.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What is, what might be

Guthrie. Oil on stretched canvas, 10x10.

Here is Effort No. 2, this one done mostly with a palette knife. This one has a little of that shine the waves leave when they recede, but still, it doesn't please me.

I spent some time yesterday and today looking at pictures of waves and beaches. It's amazing to me that, so often, when I go to paint something I've seen my whole life, I realize I have no idea what it really looks like.

Trees are a good example. Waves, clearly, are another. And roads! When I began to paint paved roads, I was astonished to realize that the surface is not really black. In fact, it's not black at all. It depends on the light, and on the day, but mostly, that "black" surface seems to be somewhere between purple and blue.

This road I'm on - purple and blue and even pink - what a road of discovery. And many of you are on it with me, I think.

Many of you wrote to say you saw merit in my stiff little painting from yesterday. You pointed out good things I hadn't seen. So thank you! How lovely to know that people I care about are looking at my art, thinking about it, feeling it. It means a lot to me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Missing the mark

Guthrie Beach. Oil on canvas, 11x14.

Today, I was not painting the way I want to be painting. I go through these periods, and they make me uncomfortable. But I know that when I am feeling like this, it means that I'm seeing more, and am reaching for more. These stretches have come to presage growth in me and change - and so while they make me unhappy in the moment, I'm OK with them.

I set out this morning to paint fog and mist, but by the time I got my act together, the mist had burned off and I was left with a clear, sunny day. Still, I found myself at the beach, where I'd been headed in the morning's gray hours.

I became very much attracted by the deep, shiny blue that the waves leave as they pull back from the beach. I've never really seen this the way I saw it this morning, and as I struggled to paint it (any suggestions would be very welcome!), a woman whom I'd seen jogging came back and asked if she could look.

I cringed a little, because my painting felt so stiff and so far off the mark, but I said sure, and as we talked, we realized that we knew each other, that we had gone to school together and our mothers had been very good friends.

Gwendolyn (Moore) Basilica was a bright, friendly girl when we were young, and is now a bright, friendly woman. And she's an amazing artist, working in glass. She makes mosaics, among other things, and has done tons of work, floors and installations, all over the place, including Mohegan Sun. You can see an example of her work, and read a story about her, by clicking here.

So, all in all, it was a good morning's painting. I learned some stuff and got some ideas, and found an old friend who is doing well.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Small things, big things

Crandall Field. Oil on stretched canvas, 2x4.

This morning, I loaded up the van with paintings and headed to Center Framing and Art in West Hartford. Sandy, the proprietor, had been more than receptive when I emailed her several paintings last week.

That's putting it a little softly. Honestly, we had the kind of conversation that every artist dreams of having. She loves my work, she said. Loves it. Thinks I have no idea how talented I am, and that I'm selling my paintings for far less than I should be, and that she would like to represent me. So load up the car and bring her some stuff.

That was four days ago, and I was so excited, I was walking on air.

But soon enough, in a syndrome that has plagued me for all these many years, I found myself distrusting my own reaction. I'd never met this person, and she seemed fine at first meeting, wonderful even. But - my mind said - it was possible, or probable, or certain, that she was a nut, or unbalanced, or on drugs or all of the above.

She said she loved my work, but maybe, my brain said, she exaggerates. Probably she does. I'm sure she does. In fact, she's just an outright liar, and I am a stooge for even listening to her, let alone believing her.

She has good connections in Hartford and she knows she can sell my paintings, and for far more than I'm asking. Well, she says she has connections. She probably knows some people. She probably met them when she was in jail for lying, or when she was in the asylum. She was probably calling me from an interrogation room. A padded interrogation room. Or maybe this entire thing is just a huge scam to get me to frame everything in wildly expensive frames.

Between Friday and today, with the help of my own mental imbalances and some well-meaning but distrusting friends, I'd managed to talk myself nearly completely out of my excitement.

But today, that excitement is back, and in triplicate. Sandy is no lunatic. She's no liar. She's no pushover, either, and surely is no phony. She's a delightful woman who runs a lovely, profitable gallery in West Hartford Center, an eclectic and interesting area. She seems to know precisely what she likes, and what will sell. She handled me with absolute aplomb, and with what appeared to be exacting and intelligent astuteness. She made helpful and cogent critiques of my work. Even as she rejected 95 percent of it, she managed to assure me that she believes it all has value, but is not what will sell in her gallery at this moment.

And my brother, who was with me, pointed out that, now, I have four pieces in this warm, well-lighted place.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Looking West

Looking Back Toward Patagonia. Oil on deep canvas, 18x18

In the jumble of exhaustion that I brought with me on my trip to Arizona, I got home, unloaded the van and stashed a bunch of paintings in the garage. Last week, back now for a month, I began to go through them, and see what was needed.

Some, of course, I will paint over - but not many! You know, I'm out on the road, I'm making these paintings, and they're coming in a whirl of energy and experimentation. They're building up through excitement and new visions and the challenge and thrill of trying new things - and then I finish, put the painting in the back of the van and head off to my next painting.

I made 45 paintings on this trip. That's a lot. And many of them, yes, share elements. What I saw that excited me really excited me, and I painted it over and over. And yes, they blurred together in my mind, some of them. But no matter. With distance and a little time, they're sorting themselves out.

And this one, I think, is one of the best. I love this painting, the big blue sky, the snow-touched mountains, the gold and red fields rolling off into the distance. This painting takes me back to the West, to a sunny day on a quiet road in this huge and beautiful country.