Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad

In the Field, 7 a.m. Oil on canvas, 8x10, $65.

Yesterday, my dad turned 81. To celebrate, he played golf. How great is that?

Dad has refused to get old. He and his wife have traveled, by car, by plane and, for many years, by bike, throughout the world. They went skiing everywhere. They moved to Tubac, Arizona, a few years ago, returning to New England a couple times a year, to visit and escape the summer heat. In Tubac, they play a lot of golf, are active in the arts community, and go on what sound to me like brutal, daylong hikes. Dad drew cartoons for us when we were kids, and took up painting a few years ago. He makes wonderful watercolors of the people and landscapes of the southwest.

Time has taken some minor tolls on Dad, but they're barely worth mentioning. The fact is that, at 81, he's more active and in better shape than most people half his age.

I suspect that Dad might, at times, rue the fact that two of his three kids are engaged in activities that will never make us financially stable. But it's safe to say that it was his long-held desire to be a writer that sent my siblings and me in that direction.

So, thanks, Dad, for helping us hear the song of the creative life. Enjoy your 81st year!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Autumn Blowing In

Autumn Blowing In
Oil on stretched canvas, 10x20

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

This wind, it's what they'd call "a freshening breeze" in another century. It came out of nowhere, and brought rain with it last night. Today, it's tearing leaves from the trees, and brushing autumn along in front of it.

I've always loved a windy day. There's excitement in it, in the rush of air, and scents, and the very chaos of possibility.

A couple months ago, I got a great book on Andrew Wyeth, for $2 at a library book sale. It's probably a $100 book, and weighs enough to make you remember that paper is, in fact, made out of wood.

I spent part of yesterday poring over Wyeth's work, and the marvelous writing by Richard Meryman, and thinking about my painting in light of Wyeth's. One thing Wyeth and I share is a fascination with landscapes that are about nothing, and that contain nothing. He had the skill and vision to play them down from there; it is my tendency to play them up. And that's fine. I don't want to be Wyeth, and never will be, but I love his low-color approaches, his astonishing attention to detail, his quiet and intense brooding. I exult in these landscapes of nothingness, finding life and glee and optimism, where he finds death and sorrow and that luscious range of browns and sepias and colors of the quiet soul.

If I don't want to be Wyeth, well, I'd be happy to be one-tenth as successful.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wading In

Wading In. Oil on canvas, 6x18

I'm feeling at loose ends today. Part of it is the weather, changing and spinning, whisking in on this late September breeze. Part of it is my Wallkill River School show ending, and the inevitable sense of coming down that accompanies the finishing of a show. Part of it is our old dog, Kaja, and her creaky and slow recovery. Part of it is wrapping up the dog project for Center Framing and Art. And part of it, I'm sure, is my constant wondering about the value of what I'm doing.

For now, I am not going to dwell on the questions or the answers. I'm going to do what the young man in this painting is doing. I am going to wade in and keep searching. Sure, the water might be up to my knees, and I might wade in even deeper. But I'm going past the edge, past the lip of the waves, and I'm going to see.

Thanks for coming with me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On Golden Field

Rainbow's End. Oil on stretched canvas, 16x20, $200

This morning, while Peter stayed with Kaja, I drove to Westerly with a sample for the vet. On the way back, I looked for a painting. It feels like an age since I painted outdoors, and my soul was hungry for it.

When I drive the Miata, I often take back roads. It's a teeny car, and it's a 1987, and really, there's usually no reason to take the highway. This is Connecticut, after all, and we have lots of roads here.

I've been watching this field all summer. It borders 184, and it's always interesting. The light hits it well in the morning and the afternoon, and it's got a combination of wild and tame that I really like. And this week, it turned yellow. Bright, golden, sunny, unearthly yellow - full of flowers like late yellow daisies, knee-high, happy to grow in very wet soil.

As I painted, I fairly danced with the color and the high blue sky and the brilliant autumn breeze, and the knowledge that my old dog is on the mend and peaceful and happy, too.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Noble Girl

Miniature schnauzer. Contact Sandy at Center Framing & Art in West Hartford, Conn., for price and shipping information.

Yesterday, Kaja, our big red German shepherd/chow, lurched and wobbled toward me, a look of terror in her eyes. I got her to lie down, and she had a series of strokes and/or seizures while I held her. Her eyes rolled, her tongue lolled out, and she shook and went rigid, again and again.

Between events, she stared at me, pleading for me to make this stop. All I could do was hold her and stroke her and tell her what a good girl she is.

I couldn't get Peter on the phone for what felt like an eternity. He had the van, and I had the Miata, and while I could have lifted our 75-pound dog, the Miata could not have held her wracking tremors.

By the time he got home, the seizures had finished, and she was panting and spent, but able to stand a wobbly stand. We took her to our veterinarian, and he looked her over, drew blood, told us to take her home and keep her quiet, that she was going to be fine.

Today, she's better. She's tired, and she's still wobbly. Her arthritis, which has been a problem for a while, is taking more of a toll on her. But her glee showed up a few times on her face today, and she's been as barky and loud as usual.

This dog has been a true and noble friend for 13 years. She's the smartest dog I've ever known, and the most noble. She loved me from the moment she laid eyes on me, and would destroy anyone who tried to hurt me. She has greeted me, wagging and loving, every morning since we adopted her from a shelter in Maryland.

Kaja is the model for the Kaja in the fictional piece I'm writing for the Zest of Orange, a weekly newspaper by a group of writers and editors who worked at the Times Herald-Record. In the story, Kaja is strong and smart and noble and heroic. The fictional dog is nothing compared to the real thing.

The real thing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Woolly Bully

Bulldog. Oil on canvas, 12x12, for Center Framing & Art in West Hartford, Conn. Contact Sandy for price and shipping info.

This afternoon, I started the 12th and final dog portrait for the project at Center Framing & Art. It's a minature schnauzer, and while there are still a few details to finish, it's well on its way.

The dog project has involved a different kind of discipline than the daily painting involves, and, to be honest, I didn't like it at first.

Every time I paint in public, two sort of annoying things happen. One is that everyone asks me how long it's taken me to make the painting I'm working on.

I think this is an odd question, really, and I don't understand why people want to know. What possible difference does it make? Do people ask a quilter how long it took to make that quilt, or a photographer how long it took to make the photograph? Since I paint very quickly, I'm put on edge even more by the question.

The second thing that happens is that people always tell me what I should paint.

If I'm in the right mood - and most of the time, honestly, I am - I'm grateful for these suggestions. But I must say that, more often than not, I go to the place I'm told I should paint and find that there's nothing there for me.

When I started the dog project, it felt a little like that. Sure, I love painting dogs - but with this project, I was painting someone else's choice of dog. Still, the idea appealed so much to me that I continued. And as the paintings piled up, the project took a different shape. I guess it became mine. It went from me filling in someone else's outline to me muscling up the content and forcing the outline around it. A big difference.

I must say, though, that I am just longing to get outside and paint!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Less Is Enough

Shi Tzu. Oil on canvas, 12x12. Contact Sandy at Center Framing & Art in West Hartford, Conn., for price and shipping information.

This is another "less is enough" painting for the gallery project. I realized that I couldn't give Sandy 11 portraits with strongly colored backgrounds and a lot of paint, and just one minimalist piece (see the poodle I painted a while back). If I was going to give her the poodle, I'd have to give her at least one other similar painting.

This little shi tzu pup seemed ideal. I might put a little more white paint around her nose, but otherwise, I think I'll leave her sketchy and wispy, more expression than dog. What do you think? Does she work?

If you're in or near the mid-Hudson Valley, you have about a week to get to the Wallkill River School Gallery in Montgomery to see "Here & There," my show with George Hayes.

The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., every day but Monday. For information and directions, click here. I have some really good paintings in this show, and also am taking orders for books of my work. I'd love to show up on the 30th and find that everything had sold, and I had nothing to bring home except a bunch of orders.

Remember, art makes a great gift, and we're coming up on the gifting season. How cool would it be to give a painting to someone you love, instead of giving that person something from Target? And if there's a painting you love, let me know and I'd be happy to contact your spouse, or children or best friend, and suggest that they buy the painting for you.

Also, I'm teaching a pet-painting workshop at the Wallkill River School on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sign up, and you'll finish the day with two portraits and a great sense of possibility!

Thank you for reading!

Monday, September 21, 2009

By the Christmas Tree Farm

By the Christmas Tree Farm. Oil on canvas, 20x20

Call me at 860-442-0246 or email me
if you are interested in buying this painting
There's something in the change from summer to autumn that stirs my soul.

I imagine it's got something to do with all those years of school. No matter how I felt about who I was, or how successful or accepted I was, the beginning of school was a wonderful time. I loved school. I loved learning. I loved writing. I even loved being indoors after a summer on the beach.

We got new school clothes every year, and new shoes, too, and shopping for these with my mother, and bringing them home, unwrapping them, trying them on, modeling them, all of this was exciting, too, year after year.

The new books, the paper-bag covers we made for them, the new pens and notebooks, everything clean and unspoiled and available for hope, I loved all of it.

The sense of change these autumn days, the cool nights, the mist in the morning fields, the gorgeous golden light, the feeling of something about to happen, it all quickens my pulse, sharpens my senses, makes me hunger for adventure.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Blue, 2

Blue-black Lab. Talk to Sandy at Center Framing & Art for price and shipping information. Center Framing is in West Hartford, Conn.

Having finished my 12 dog portraits, I've decided to go back and redo a couple of them. Carden Holland, a good friend and wonderful artist, pointed out to me that when I leave the ears off the dog, I take away some of my options. Also, she said, looking at the painting of the baying beagle, which so many of you like, the dogs are best when the planes of their heads are clearly defined.

This was one of those "duh" moments for me, and helped me understand why I don't like some of these paintings as well as I like others.

Also, I must say, I really love the look in this lab's eyes.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tough Guy

Boxer. Oil on stretched canvas, 12x12. For price and shipping information, contact Sandy at Center Framing & Art in West Hartford, Conn.

It's a fascinating change for me, to paint for so many days inside. This is by far the most indoor painting I've ever done, these past four days. Always, I've gone outside on Day 2. And honestly, I am itching to get out there. But I made the decision to finish the dog project, and so, finish it, I will. In fact, I am very close! There's no telling whether Sandy will like these paintings - I'm pretty sure she'll like some of them, but she might not like others.

So I have final touches, and I have backgrounds and edges to finish, but I'm in the home stretch. And that's great, because autumn is here, and it's only a matter of time before the trees begin to turn.

For anyone in the southeastern Connecticut region, Pam Nelson's open studio and sale is on through Sunday. It's on Sandy Hollow Road in Gales Ferry, very close to the reservoir, and is well marked. There's plenty of parking, and plenty of lovely art. Pam has been making art for decades, and teaching - and it shows. I had a lovely time there today, looking at her paintings - watercolors, acrylics, oils, some engravings, too - and checking out her wonderful studio. She's open from 11 to 6, I believe - or most of those hours. So stop by!

To get there from Route 95, take exit 88 toward Ledyard. That puts you on 117. Stay on 117 past 184. A few miles down the road, look for Sandy Hollow, on your left. Drive across the reservoir and look for the Nelsons on your right.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bay with Me

Oil on canvas, 12x12


I mean, if you can't paint a picture of a beagle baying, what's the use?

The cool weather has made the dogs unusually joyful. Kaja, who's 12, mostly deaf and painfully arthritic, has been getting up even when she doesn't need to. The other day, she loped across the yard to greet me, and this morning, she came on a long walk with me and the leashed duo. Her eyes are bright, she's vigorous in her soul and she's happy. It makes me glad.

My friend Judy Beisler came over yesterday to visit and see my nascent studio. Always, I'm fearful that the dogs will be too much for visitors, and Judy is small, so I had extra worries. JoJo jumped up on her, repeatedly, and all the dogs begged to be patted and noticed. Even Kaja came out to greet Judy.

We sat on the porch eating lunch and the idiots bayed and howled as though their innermost dogs had been awakened.

So it seems entirely right that I paint this beagle in full bay.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


German Shepherd. For price and shipping information, contact Sandy
at Center Framing & Art in West Hartford, Conn.

I spent the day hauling more stuff from the basement to the studio, visiting with a friend, then looking at pictures of dogs online, and painting dogs. I am making good progress on the project, and expect to have it finished by the weekend. Yay! I can hardly wait to see it all up in the window at Center Framing & Art in West Hartford. I think I'm going to make a 13th painting, a huge one, maybe of Kaja, our big red chow/shepherd, or of Smokey, our chow/sharpei - I've got some time to decide.

Anyone in the area of New London, Conn., might want to visit Pam Nelson's studio on Saturday. Pam lives on Sandy Hollow Road, near where it intersects with Whalehead, so right around the corner from us. I've known Pam since I was a kid, and she's made art all this time. She's a dear person and an interesting artist - her studio is open from 10 to 3, I think.

Also, there's an excellent show at the Lighthouse Gallery on Long Hill Road in Groton this month. Members of Chris Rose's family are showing really extraordinary art - landscapes, fishscapes and very cool wire sculptures. (Chris, a wonderful guy, runs the gallery. He taught art in Stonington schools for a long time, too).

My show with George Hayes continues through the end of the month at the Wallkill River School Gallery in Montgomery, N.Y. The gallery is open every day except Monday; our show is up until the end of the month.

And if you're in NY and you'd like to make animal portraits, I'll be teaching a daylong workshop on Saturday, Sept. 26. You'll make two paintings, and I promise you'll have fun! Contact the Wallkill River School Gallery to sign up.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Golden Opportunity

Golden Lab. Oil on canvas, 12x12. Part of a project for Center Framing and Art in West Hartford, Conn. Contact Sandy for price and shipping info.

I've started painting here in the attic studio - and well I should, since I'm woefully late with a 12-portrait project for Sandy, the owner of Center Framing and Art in West Hartford, Conn. The idea is 12 12x12 portraits of the most popular dog breeds.

So far, I've done a black lab, a golden lab, a golden retriever, a Yorkie, a German shepherd, a poodle and a dachshund. Then, beagle, boxer, bulldog - and shih tzu would make 11... and Sandy and I thought perhaps a cocker spaniel for No. 12.

Time to get cracking!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Big Field, Little House

The Red Barn. Oil on stretched canvas, 8x24, $65.
I was joking about my painting M.O. the other day, when Shawn Dell Joyce stepped in and took me on a serious turn.

I've realized that my preferred painting might be termed "Big Field, Little House." Honestly, this seems to be the landscape that I see, and it surely is the landscape that I most typically paint. Sometimes I leave the house out, but even when I do, it's often there, on the ground or in my head.

Shawn overheard me joking and came in with a serious comment, that this depiction is a way of showing man's place in the natural world - we are here, at the edge of the field. We've built our buildings, we've left our mark, but it's tangential. The house is tiny. The field is big. The sky is bigger. The painting, the landscape, the world, they include us, but they are not about us.

I've known for a while that this is what's behind these paintings - and that this tension and beauty, honestly, is what intrigues me. But I've been wary of owning up to this. I do tend to joke, especially when I'm feeling insignificant or uncertain. I thank Shawn for recognizing the truth behind my laughter, and bringing me to its beauty.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sing a Song of Praise

Oil on canvas, 16x20

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

I've found myself thinking a lot recently about faith - in God, in nature, in human nature. Sunday was a worldwide plein-air paintout day, I found out, and as I made this painting, I wondered about Sunday painters, and what they do about church.

The thought came easily to me, then: This is my church, this plein-air world, and these paintings are my prayers, my faith made visible.

I don't want to make too much of a point of this, or scare anyone away, but I do believe that a power greater than me brought me to painting, out of the blue, at the age of 50 - and brought me to painting for a reason.

And so I paint, and I sing a silent hymn of thanks and of thanksgiving, for this world, the blue skies, the ever-changing landscape, the universe of humans who live upon this land.

Thank you for reading.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Painting with a Hero

Gene Bove

The first oil-painting class I ever took was with Gene Bove, a painter who lives in Pine Bush, N.Y.

Before I signed up, I looked Gene up on the internet. Went to his site,, and saw his bright, powerful paintings. I remember calling Peter and frothing: "Go look at this guy's paintings! Now! They're so amazing!"

Turns out, the class I was in was Gene's first, I believe. It was a wonderful class, with a delightful group of students, most of whom were far more advanced than I was (I'd been painting for three months). Gene was a fine teacher, available to answer questions and give ideas, willing to show us anything, but not meddlesome. I learned a lot from him, and the painters I met in that class formed the backbone of the painting community that I've found here in New York.

Over these years, Gene and I have become friends. It's a friendship I cherish. And so when he agreed to go painting on Friday in the Black Dirt region, near Pine Island, N.Y., I was just thrilled.

It was a cold, raw, rainy day. Atmospheric. Fascinating. Great skies, great mists, great gusts of wind - and then, finally, rain. While we waited to see if the sky would clear enough for us to paint, we sat in my van and talked about painting. It was a joy to hear this man whose work I so admire discuss horizons and colors and decisions and problems. In the end, we went back to the Wallkill River School, talked and laughed with Gene's lovely and beautiful wife, Marilyn, and finished our paintings.

Here's Gene's:

Gene Bove painting of the Black Dirt. Oil on board-mounted linen, 10x20 (I think). Contact info is on his website, if you want to buy it. It's an amazing painting!

Here's my painting:

Storm Coming. Oil on stretched canvas, 16x20, $150.

Here's Gene and me together:

Here's a painting that Gene redid, at the school, while I watched.

Gene Bove painting. Oil on board with linen, 12x24 (I think). Go to Gene's website for contact and price information.

He made the painting initially in nearly the same spot where we'd painted, but he wasn't happy with the lower half of the piece. He kept the top - the beautiful, dramatic sky - but changed the fields in the foreground. They had been a bright, soft kind of yellow that just didn't work. He deepened the colors, greened them up, then painted them into this lovely, powerful invitation.

If you're checking in on Saturday, and you're in or near New York state, come to the reception for "Here & There," the show I have with George Hayes. The reception is at the Wallkill River School Gallery, Route 17K in Montgomery, from 5-7 p.m.

And thank you for reading.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Back in the Field

Back in the Field
Oil on canvas, 16x20

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

The back field gets more interesting, more lovely, day by day. I know that one of these mornings, I'll get up and go out and frost will have taken my colors, ripped away my textures, but until then, it's a wonderful scene to paint.

I write this from New York, where last night, I helped 300 others celebrate Shawn Dell Joyce, one of the founders of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery. The Orange County Citizens Foundation chose Shawn to receive the Seligman Award, for "outstanding contributions to arts and culture in the county." Shawn is my dear friend, so I have some prejudices, but truly, she deserves the honor, the accolade - and much, much more. I'm happy that I was able to be there to celebrate her.

"Here & There," my show with talented painter George Hayes, is up at the Wallkill River School Gallery, and it looks great. The reception is Saturday, from 5-7 p.m. If you're in the area, please stop by. It is Montgomery Day, too, so 211 is likely to be jammed or closed. The school is on Route 17K - take Exit 5 or 5A to get there and avoid the traffic problems in downtown Montgomery. Better yet, go to the celebration first and then come to the reception!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Morning Song

Morning Song
Oil on canvas, 8x10

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

Autumn's walked in, with crisp nights and soft, gray mornings, and soaking dew on the unmowed back field. I walk through hip-high grass, goldenrod fans, spikes of deep red blades, a fringe of feathery tan. The dogs romp and bounce and end up soaking wet, as we explore the field each morning. They see different smells, animals who've crossed before them, creatures burrowed beneath the earth. I see a changing, burnished landscape that beckons, new and different, every morning. I breathe the autumn air deep into my lungs and sing a song of praise and thanks.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Evening's Edge

Evening's Edge
Oil on stretched canvas, 11x14

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

This is my first posting from my treetop studio/office. The migration of my stuff is nowhere near complete, but there's enough here to make it work. And the break is nice on my knees.

It's hot up here on the second floor of the garage, but I've got a fan blowing, and the day is cooling, and I'm not lugging stuff, so it's good. Peter's going to put a bird feeder up where I can see it from my desk here. I can see him walking around in the yard, and it feels a tad like I am spying.

I made this painting yesterday evening in Stonington. It was Labor Day, and the light was soft and burnished. The corn was still standing in the fields, and the shadows fell in patches on the road. A woman, running, stopped to make sure I was OK, as I jockeyed for a decent and safe spot. Birds sang, and some small animal rooted in the leaves to my right, and only two cars passed.

This painting is not at all what I set out to paint, but I like it. I like the pattern of light and dark, the rhythm of the corn fields (that's what those step-like things are in the background), the soft curl of the road.

Thanks for reading!

Here's the studio today, with my desk in the background, by my spy-window.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Meeting Points

Red Maple. Oil on canvas, 16x20, $75

This is a painting I started a few weeks ago, and finished just yesterday - or, at least, I think it's finished. I'm not completely happy with the fogginess of it, and might work to add a little more mist, a little more swirl. What I like about it is the contrast between the fog over the river and the sunlight on the near bank.

I think that in life, in painting (and also in housecleaning) the places that have the most impact are the places where one plane meets another - or one thought meets another. My eye is drawn to these spots, where light meets dark, cool meets warm, sweet meets salty. My mother used to love jelly with jalapeno in it; Peter still does. While I can't go that far, I do love pretzels covered with chocolate. But I'd like pretty much anything covered in chocolate.

I am learning to look for the places where things meet, where they could meld or could pull apart. There's a little drama there, in life or in paintings.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Summer's Last Stand

Mackerel Skies. Oil on canvas panel, 16x20, $75

There's a view of the fields across the road from Manfredi's farm stand in Westerly, R.I., that I've been hankering to paint for a while now.

I spent the entire day on Saturday wrangling with multiple, maddening layers of idiocy and the mind-numbing bureaucracy of AT&T, and so, on Sunday morning, I was more than ready to paint. After the day I had yesterday, I figured luck would be on my side. Though it was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, I set out toward Dunn's Corners, a mile or so from the beach.

What I found amazed me. On a regular summer Sunday morning, Route 2 and Route 78 heading toward the beach would be jammed. But this morning, there was me, and a couple other cars. That was it.

As I set up on Pound Road, looking at the fields and the farm buildings and the mackerel sky, I said "So long" to summer. It's just over. The beach-goers know it and now, I know it, too.

And I couldn't be happier. The crisp nights, the clear air, the warm afternoons - perfect days, and perfect for painting, too.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Swell Day

More Big Waves. Oil on canvas, 8x24, sold.

On the day of my show at the Denmark Arts Center, in Denmark, Maine, I spent some hours framing new work for the show (going on now!) at the Wallkill River School Gallery in Montgomery, N.Y.

It was a gorgeous day, and I was framing, and contemplating, and packing. And people kept coming in and, amazingly, buying paintings. One sweet woman bought a painting of Eunice the Cat, a painting I love, and have been showing for years now. A painting I thought wouldn't sell, ever.

Another woman came in, bought a nice, small painting of our yard. I was thrilled. Then her eyes landed on this painting of waves. I had mismeasured it, and so I didn't have a frame for it. It wasn't signed. It wasn't dry. She fell in love with it, and demanded that I charge more than my original asking price.

Those are sales I will remember forever.

Closer to the Sky

This is my first studio, here at the Whalehead Road world headquarters of Jacobson Arts.

What you don't see is that when I moved my studio into this bedroom, there was a woodstove in here that took up about a quarter of the space. We sold the woodstove, but then, forced to clean the rug in Peter's office, he and I moved a huge bulk of his stuff into my studio.

That stuff? It never left.

Even before his stuff edged into my space, I had moved my painting to the basement. And honestly, it's not been a bad studio space. I have as much room as I could want, and if I'm ever low on inspiration, I can try on clothes, sort through poorly labeled boxes or do laundry. Also, the cats and their litter boxes add to the ambiance.

I never moved my desk, or computer, or any of that to the basement, though.

Ta-dah! While I was hauling my work from Maine to New York, a wonderful carpenter actually showed up, on time, and put stairs up to the second floor of the garage. It's not as big a space as the basement, but it has a skylight, two windows and it's all mine! There's room for my desk, the wireless connection works all the way out there, and it is as quiet and animal-free as I want. And greedy me, I am not sharing it with anyone.

Of course, I need insulation, electricity and some way to heat - but that is all doable.

I am a happy painter with my treetop studio!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pieces of the Heart

Red House. Oil on canvas, 11x14, $85.

Of course, I love it when people buy my paintings. But every time they do, I feel a little pang.

When I went back to Maine this week, and opened the door of the Denmark Arts Center, I actually said hello to my paintings. Sounds nuts, maybe, but I felt like I was seeing a bunch of old friends I hadn't seen in a while.

As I took my paintings down, my uncle said he felt something like this, too. He and my aunt and the other folks at the Denmark Arts Center loved having my paintings on their walls. My art brightened their rehearsals, cheered their meetings, added another element to their performances. My uncle said he'd miss my art.

When someone buys one of my paintings, they're buying the art, for sure. They're also taking home a little piece of my heart. And that's fine. It's good, even! After all, if I didn't put my heart into this, it would be worth nothing. So that little pang I feel, that's what it's all about, I think.


Late-Summer Lake. Oil on canvas, 10x30

What a whirlwind time I've had these past several days!

I drove up to Maine on Friday, to find that somehow, in the two and a half weeks I'd been away, autumn had arrived. The night temperature dropped into the high 40s, the black-eyed susans had faded and curled, and while I saw only the occasional reddish tree here and there, the summer's green was ebbing from the leaves.

I sat the show on Saturday, a wet Saturday, and had a lovely time. My uncle sat with me for an hour or more, and we talked and remembered. A group of people from the real Denmark stopped in; they'd been hiking New Hampshire, but on this rainy day thought they'd go visit the town named for their country. And Jane and Bob Dann came to the Denmark Arts Center.

When I worked at the Times Herald-Record in New York, I had many wonderful designers. One of my best was David Dann, an immensely talented journalist, a fine artist and sculptor, and a nice, nice man. His parents, it turns out, live in Harrison, Maine - just down the road from Denmark!

We had a wonderful time talking and looking. They wanted to hear all about my paintings, where I was when I painted them, what else I'd seen - they were happy and optimistic people, as friendly and kind as could be. Not only did they buy a painting, they also invited me for dinner!

On Sunday, as I packed up the show, I met more lovely people and had a surprisingly good day in terms of sales. My uncle and I packed up the van, and at 5 a.m. on Monday, I set out for New York.

George Hayes and I hung our show Monday evening, at the Wallkill River School Gallery (Route 17K in Montgomery... the show is up for the month, with an artists' reception on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 5-7 p.m. You're invited! Click here for details and directions). I went back Tuesday to straighten, finalize, etc.

And now I'm home. Whew!