Saturday, October 31, 2009

Openings and closings

Arabesque. Oil on canvas, 10x30, $200

Thursday, Peter and I went to the opening of the South County Art Association's Regional Open Juried exhibition, and he was toasted and applauded and awarded a richly deserved $150 for one of his beautiful photographs.

Friday, I went to the closing for the sale of our house in New York.

All I can say is yippee on both counts.

Peter's work was by far the standout of the South County Art Association show. The exhibit is strongly contemporary, very edgy, and pretty interesting. If you're in the area of URI, stop in.

The sale of our house was by far the standout of October. It's been on the market for two years, and we've come close to selling it a number of times. This time, finally, the sale went through. I will miss our lovely, quiet spot on the river, but I could not be happier to own just one house, and one with a sunny yard and this fine studio.

I'm pretty excited about this painting, and hope that I've set it at a large enough size that you can see it on your screen and also see the nearly sculptural quality it has in places.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Quonnie Pond
 Oil on stretched canvas, 16x20

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

OK, all you Rhode Islanders... "Quonnie" is short for...?


And that's fairly close to Misquamicut and Weekapaug, and not so far from Wequetequock or any number of other hard-to-spell places.

I went to the Fire District Beach with Peter one golden afternoon this week. First, it was just us there in the parking lot, me setting up to paint, and, closer in, him putting on his waders. Then, almost before you knew it, there was a small town of fishermen there - and yes, they were nearly exclusively male. Erika and Samantha and Ashton came down, and Erika's fiance Jon came also, and I painted feverishly while the sun raced toward the horizon.

The fishermen stayed long after I did, fishing for stripers and blues. The sun set in an absolute fire of magenta and orange, streaks of color so vibrant they made you speak aloud and stir with wonder and awe at the beauty of this world.

It was a sparkling afternoon, the kind that we live for in New England.

A footnote here. In my snit of the other day (I am over it, thankfully), I failed to send you to a place where you can see my husband's truly brilliant photographs. Go to and click on "Photographs by Peter Jacobson". Or just click through from this posting.

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Go Figure

Touching Autumn. Oil on canvas, 8x10, $125.

Last week, Peter and I both entered three pieces in the South County Art Association's Regional Open Juried show.

Last night, we came home from the Fire District Beach in Westerly (he was fishing, I was painting) to find a message from the South County Art Association. One of Peter's photographs had won first place in the show!

This means an award, applause and $150.

All three pieces he'd entered were accepted.

Not one of mine was.

Honestly, as happy as I was - and am - for him, I was just crushed last night. Today, I'm feeling better. I love my paintings, I am happy with the direction I'm heading, and I believe my paintings are good. So one guy didn't like them.

Go figure.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Leaves. Oil on canvas, 8x10

On Saturday, a strangely warm and humid day, we insulated the studio. "We" was Peter, daughter Erika, Erika's fiance Jon, Erika's daughter's boyfriend Peter and me.

Honestly, I spent most of the time running between Whalehead Road and Home Depot, ruing the math skills that I never quite mastered.

It wasn't until I'd brought the second load of stuff back that I realized I was mixing up linear feet and square feet. I'm not sure this explains completely why I needed four times the amount I first bought, but to my addled brain, it does.

The studio is much different now that it's insulated. It's very quiet. The air is soft. It's somewhat warmer - not completely warmer, because we did what you are supposed to do and didn't run the insulation down to the soffit vents, and so the cold air is still coming in. It's warmer, though - because the warm air isn't escaping, I guess.

One reason I delayed insulating for so long is that I liked being surrounded by wood. I was heading toward drywall in my thoughts - and resisting it - when a friend suggested going to a lumberyard and buying cheap unfinished planking. I like it!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sunset in Maine

Sunset on the Ridge 
Oil on canvas, 24x24

Today, some odds and ends. First, this painting. I made it from a photograph I took while I was in Maine this summer. It's a field on Hio Ridge Road, where my aunt and uncle live. The sunset was so amazing, I nearly drove off the road. In real life, it was even more dramatic than this painting - which is more dramatic in real life than on the screen. Maybe I do need a better camera.

My friend Lori Rembetski, a wonderful sculptor and delightful person, is having a show in November at the Lighthouse Gallery on Long Hill Road in Groton, Conn. Lori makes charming and character-filled sculptures of dogs. They're small, from a few inches high to perhaps 10 inches, and they are gestural and full of life and fun. The opening reception is Friday, Nov. 6, from 5-7 p.m., at the gallery. If you're in the area, come!

My friend Judy Beisler, a wonderful photographer and delightful person, tells me that on that same night, at the Unitarian Universalist Church in New London, the folk group The Work of the Weavers will perform. I don't remember just when the show starts, but Judy told me it would be possible to go from the Lighthouse Gallery opening to the show, and make it in plenty of time.

I probably won't be able to do that, though, since I'll be teaching a workshop at the Wallkill River School on Saturday, Nov. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on painting pets. If you're anywhere near Montgomery, N.Y., there's plenty of space in the workshop. Call the school and sign up!

Peter found out that those ladybugs I wrote about the other day were imported by New Jersey as a way to rid the state of a particular insect that eats and kills hemlock trees. The ladybugs are otherwise harmless, but wherever they come from, they spend the winters in white cliffs. So when they're swarming over our light-gray house and white doors and windows, they're just a little confused about their winter homes.

I've spent a fair amount of time this past week working on my portfolio, in preparation for approaching galleries near and far. If anyone reading has any suggestions of active galleries where my work would fit, please let me know!

And thank you for reading.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Looking West. Oil on stretched linen, 11x14

Yesterday, I hadn't planned to take the dogs to Central Bark, but the expressions on their faces, and the fact that I had about 30 minutes to spare yesterday afternoon changed my mind.

I should have stayed with my first idea.

Jojo is probably part Australian shepherd and part pit bull. She is athletic, loud and bossy. She tries to herd the dogs at the park.

Smokey is most probably chow and sharpei. He is a serious dog with a long fuse. But when pushed, he will get to the end of the fuse. And that's what happened yesterday, I guess.

We'd just come through the gate when a big golden retriever mix ran up to Smokey and inserted himself in Smokey's space. Just like that, the challenge was thrown.

Jojo was already halfway across the park, and so I walked toward her, hoping to lure Smokey away from this bigger dog, but I'd only taken about 10 steps when a deep, rasping snarling fight broke out behind me and I knew Smokey was in the middle.

Jason, Rocky's owner (see yesterday's post) was right there, wearing a very heavy jacket. He stepped in and pulled Smokey off the other dog. The other dog's owner pulled it away. I got Smokey's collar on him, just as nosy Jojo came running up to see what was happening.

We left then. Smokey was unharmed, it seemed, though he's a little stiff today. The other dog seemed unharmed, too.

It was surprising to me, really, and not surprising, as well. I know dogs fight, but until now, I've just seen them argue. But I guess that, just as some people take an immediate dislike to each other, some dogs do the same.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Rocky. Oil on canvas, 16x20, $150

Today, ladybugs are swarming the Jacobson Arts headquarters building here on Whalehead Road. There are dozens on the window by my desk. There were hundreds on the door that I opened to get in here. There are a bunch flying around me as I type. We must be on their migration route - maybe we're even a stopover. I don't know where they are migrating from or to, but it's pretty spectacular.

The pup in this painting is Rocky, a young pit bull we met at Central Bark, the Groton dog park. I continue to love going there with the dogs. Yesterday, I'd taken the crew out for a walk in the yard here, and had lured most of them back inside while keeping Jojo and Smokey outside on their leashes. The plan was to get everyone else in, put J & S in the van, go in and settle the others and then take off for Central Bark.

I used the automatic opener to spring the side door on the van, and just as I did, our Samoyed lumbered along, saw the open door and jumped in. Once Sammy gets in, there's no getting him out. So I took him to the dog park, too.

It was a chaotic and arm-strengthening task to get all three of them down the rather long path to the fenced-in enclosure, but I managed. While Joey and Smokey raced and darted around, Sam plodded along, spending most of his time greeting the few humans in the place.

I think that when I die, I'd like to have my ashes scattered in the dog park. I'd like to have all the dogs' ashes scattered with me, and I'd like all my friends and family to come and to bring their dogs, and let them romp and bark and play while my earthly remains settle around them. This is the best idea I've come up with so far. It's the only one that makes me happy.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Didja Miss Me?

Saturday in Scotland. Oil on canvas, 20x20

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

Hi, everyone!

I gave myself a vacation last week. Didja miss me?

I realized that I've painted and posted nearly daily for well more than a year, without a meaningful, intentional break. What kind of a boss would ask this of an employee?

So while the weather was horrible and rainy and cold, and the studio was unheated and uninsulated, and while I was tired and running back and forth to NY and worrying about the house closing that never happened, I gave myself a vacation.

I painted some, and enjoyed it. I saw family and friends. I went out to dinner and out to lunch. I read books and magazines and catalogs, I watched TV, I slept late, cooked, spent time with Peter, did a bunch of long-neglected chores, began to understand and look for used RVs, and I relaxed. What fun!

Now I'm back, I'm posting, and I have a few really interesting paintings to show you. This one, I painted in a gale, on a hillside overlooking a vineyard in Scotland, Conn. It's more ambitious than most of my paintings, and I like it. I used a brush and a palette knife, and am finding that sometimes, I like the way they work together.

Thank you, all who called and emailed to make sure I was OK. And to all, thank you for reading.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rainy Day Futures

Another Rainy Day. Oil on canvas, 16x20

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

In real life, the day - and this painting - have a grayness that, at least on my screen, is not coming through, try as I might.

I'm really enjoying these rainy-day paintings, especially as, soon enough, I know I'll be making snowy-day paintings.

The internet is slow today. What a statement that is! It's like saying the microwave is slow today. I just can't wait the 45 seconds it's taking to heat up my coffee! I just can't wait the 90 seconds it's taking to find out who invented the electric clothes dryer.

What a world we live in, eh? It's rare for me to pause long enough to consider how close we are to the Jetsons. No, we don't have flying cars yet, and I wish we did - but the rest of it, wow. Yesterday, I saw a commercial for a front-door lock that you can work by using your phone - your phone that is now a TV, a record player and a computer.

David Dann, a talented designer at the Times Herald-Record, once told me that he believes that one day, no one will have computers - we'll have devices like flash drives that we carry in a pocket and plug into outlets that will be everywhere.

David designed the dove hologram that graced Visa cards for many years, so perhaps he knows.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Turning Over...

A New Leaf. Oil on stretched canvas, 11x14, $50

I have this idea of painting autumn leaves - one at a time, big and bright, with all the colors of fall in them - and this painting is a start, but it's not what I see in my mind's eye.

And that's OK. It's not a failed painting - and I am always happy when my grasp outruns my reach. It means that I am onto something new, that a new idea, a new vision has woken itself up in me. This is how I make progress, by reaching for the edge of this thing that I can really barely see, let alone grab, let alone hang onto.

My days are taking a different shape, with the inclusion of the dog park, and I think that this is helping me move to a new place with my painting. While I do rue the amount of time that the dog park takes - more than an hour, if JoJo and Smokey are to get any real running done - I must say that the delight of watching 10 or 20 dogs race around, sort things out, play and snarl and bark and run and smash into each other, and wrestle, and chase and greet and sniff and dig and run - this has added an energy and a fluency to my days that they didn't have before the dog park - or the DP, as Peter and I have learned to call it - because JoJo is so smart that she got "dog park" on the very first day. All you have to do is mention the phrase and she starts barking and leaping and jumping and... did I mention barking?

And so autumn brings its inevitable change to this quiet little life, and I welcome it - and whatever else the future holds.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Big Guy

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

I met this Newfoundland a week or so ago in West Hartford Center, walking down La Salle Road. The dog was walking, that is, all 130 or so pounds of him. His human, a woman who probably weighed 90 pounds, was being walked along with him.

My mother was walking one of her black Labs when he took off and yanked her. She smashed onto the curb and broke her kneecap.

I trembled a little when I saw this birdlike woman with this giant dog.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

People.... People Who Love Canines...

Bert. Not for sale.

... are the luckiest people in the world...

I spent Saturday standing on the sidewalk in front of Center Framing & Art in West Hartford, painting dogs and talking to people who love dogs. It was a great day - but I'm beat. I'm planning on going in to the house and sleeping like a dog.

I was joined, early on, by my brother Rand and his daughter Larkin. Rand was the one who connected me with Center Framing, and I am eternally grateful, and today was an excellent example of why. I painted, I talked with dozens of people, and they couldn't have been friendlier or more supportive. And they all love dogs.

Of course, I worry somewhat that I'll end up categorized as a dog painter, but you know, if that's the downside of success, I'll take it.

So Rand and Larkin brought me a picture of Bert, their now-aged bulldog, and Rand suggested I try the minimal approach, since these days, Bert is very white in the face. I don't think I'd have gotten that idea by myself. Making these minimal paintings always sets up a little whir of nerves in me - as Rand pointed out, one wrong stroke and you're doomed.

But who's to say this stroke or that one is wrong?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's Raining Dogs?

Rain, Route 2
Oil on canvas, 11x14

I really like this painting. I like it alot. I like it better in person than on the computer, too.

I like it because it's expressionistic and emotional and evocative. My favorite paintings, I'm realizing, are ones that have these qualities.

I have some more rainy-day ideas - and some plans for snow, too. And that's not so far away.

Here's a note for anyone who'll be around the Hartford area on Saturday: I'll be painting, tentatively from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on the sidewalk in front of Central Framing & Art, 56 LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center. So come out, see my fun dog paintings and say hi!

Meantime, we've been taking Jojo and Smokey to the Central Bark, the dog park in Groton. I've never been to a dog park, and I must say, it's great fun. This is a huge place, well fenced, and extremely well attended. Today, there must have been 30 dogs there, running, barking, racing around.

We were greeted by a whole pack of dogs when we came in, and as soon as Smokey and Joey were off the leash, a conga line of butt-sniffing started. Eight or nine dogs in a row, nose to butt, it was a riot. Then they were off, racing after balls and frisbees, tugging on ropes, rolling on the ground - it's barely contained canine chaos, and it's absolutely unabashadely fun. I can hardly wait to go back.

Here are some Central Bark shots:

If you enlarge this one, you can see four dogs, one with a Frisbee and three thinking about getting it away from him.

That's Jojo sniffing in the background, while this dog with really spooky eyes tries to stare me down.

That's Jojo in the background again, panting, not taking part in this round of butt-sniffing. The big dog is a great Dane with funny, floppy ears.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Living with Dogs

Burnished Brush. Oil on canvas, 10x20

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

Peter decided to head to the beach this morning, in spite of the wind and the rain, to see if it was possible to fish. There are sheltered places where you can cast a line sometimes, even in a storm. But really, I said, he should take the van. The Miata is no fun in the rain. It leaks, it gets very humid inside, and other cars splash you into blindness when they pass.

So I took my paint bag out of the van, and set it in the driveway, and leaned this painting against it.

He left and I took the dogs out.

They're not very happy to go out in the rain, our dogs. Even Smokey, the toughest of them all, is unhappy about getting his poor little feet wet.

But I yelled and pulled and berated and prodded, and eventually, I got them all into the back field, where they sniffed and poked and did their business.

"Back to the house!" I yelled, and they took off toward the deck.

I counted them, as I always do, and found that Woodreau, the little bichon, was missing. And he's usually the first one through the door.

I looked out into the driveway, and there he was, sniffing around my paint bag, sniffing around my painting and then - yes - lifting his leg to pee.

I yelled, and he looked at me with saucy devilment in his eyes. Then he put his leg down and scampered up onto the deck and into the house.

The painting is unmarked. I know. I sniffed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Song of the Day

Opera in the Air. Oil on stretched canvas, 11x14, $75

I made my way to Hadlyme Ferry yesterday, to paint autumn in the salt marsh, and as I set up, I heard movement in the house across the street. Someone came out on the porch and did something, then went back in.

I got my easel ready, and made up my palette, got out my brushes and my knives, sipped my coffee and looked at the beautiful place I was painting. The trees leading into the marsh looked soft and bright at the same time. The grass near them was a nearly fluorescent green beneath the a taller wash of gold. The water sparkled in the sun, and as I began to paint, I heard opera drifting from the open windows of the house across the street.

I know nothing about opera, or about singing, really, but I could tell this was a person, not a recording. She was practicing, not scales or exercises, but songs, and they were lovely. They drifted over in threads, there for a moment and then gone, under the weave of the wind, or the birds, or the cars driving past, and then back, a leaf, a color, a sweet breeze added to the bright October day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wildness Takes Over

Purple Haze. Oil on canvas, 8x10

I have a thing about abandoned houses, especially ones I drive past or walk past, day after day. I construct lives for them, families and dogs, landscaping, decorations. As vines grow over them, and windows break, as roofs sag and paint chips and thins and fades, wistfulness grows in me, and the buildings seem to take on more life, not less.

This is a house on Route 17K, just outside Montgomery, N.Y. It's more abandoned than it looks in my painting. There's a big hole in the roof, and in front of the house stand the remains of a sign that once offered the house and its land for sale.

Even as the house sinks into its demise, and the yard grows up around it, it's taken on a wild sort of beauty, a harmony of color and chaos and the way of the world.

There's a song by Kate Wolf that I've always liked, "Carolina Pines," and that song ran through my heart as I made this painting.

Here are the lyrics; it's a pretty, pretty song:

Carolina Pines
Just an old house with the roof fallin' in
Standin' on the edge of the field
Watching the crops grow like its always done before
Nobody lives here anymore

The sun's going down on the Carolina pines
I'm a long way from home
I miss that love of mine broken windows empty doors
Nobody lives here anymore

Old memories come whistling like the wind
Through the walls and the cracked window panes
And the grass is growing high around the kitchen door
Nobody lives here anymore

Once there were children and a few hired hands
A hard working woman and a bone tired man
Now that old sun steals across a dusty floor
Nobody lives here anymore

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dog Day Afternoon... and Morning

Howl. Oil on canvas, 11x14

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

Dogs, dogs and more dogs. Twenty-three dog paintings by yours truly fill the window of Center Framing & Art, 56 LaSalle Road, West Hartford Center.

In the torrential rain this morning, I set off for West Hartford with two wet dog paintings and two dry ones. I had to howl with glee when I saw the window of the Center Framing & Art. There were my paintings, nearly two dozen of them, bright and cheerful and fun, engaging and happy and exuberant. I sat in the car, waiting for the store to open, and watched as person after person - some with dogs on leashes - stopped abruptly on their walks to stare at the paintings.

Sandy, who owns the store, was as thrilled as I was. And she was happy with my new paintings, too, though she kept the giant German shepherd, and not my painting of Kaja. No matter. I love that painting.

She and Mike, who works in the store, rearranged everything in the window to include the new piece, and got fairly well covered in blue paint from the still very wet shepherd. Then she asked me if I'd like to paint until it began raining (it was dry in West Hartford at that point), and I said sure.

So I set up, and dawdled over a painting of a dog that I had on my phone. Passerby after passerby after passerby was stopped by the window. Many of them talked with me. Many discussed commissions. Many went into the store. They all loved the paintings.

Nothing sold today, but no matter. These paintings will sell, I know it. And I had a great day of sustaining enthusiasm, happy engagement and the fellowship of other dog lovers.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Exciting Day

Kaja. Oil on stretched canvas, 24x24. Contact Sandy at Center Framing & Art in West Hartford for price and delivery information.

Giant. Oil on stretched canvas, 24x36. Contact Sandy at Center Framing & Art for pricing and delivery information.

It was only with the exercise of the utmost discipline that I managed to keep myself from going to West Hartford Center this morning and watching as the hired, professional window dresser arranged my 21 dog paintings in the front window of Center Framing & Art.

Instead, I took a couple dogs to the vet, spent an frightening amount of money on shots and tests, went to Ledyard town hall and registered them, came home and fed everyone, then checked my cell phone and found a message from Sandy, who owns Center Framing.

The paintings had been up in the window for an hour and a half, and 30 people had already come in to the gallery, wanting to know how much they were, when they would be for sale, and how they could get me to paint their dogs.

Yippee! This is just tremendously exciting, marvelously invigorating, wildly affirmative.

Of course, none of it has translated into one red cent yet, but it will. I know it will.

And on top of all this, Sandy wanted more paintings. So I made two more, this huge German shepherd, and then my lovely red dog, Kaja.

She is doing well, and that's the best news of all, really. She's more active, clearly happy and interested - and no more seizures or strokes.

I will bring these two paintings to Sandy tomorrow, and I'll take some photos of the display and post them here. Exciting!

Thank you, as always, for reading.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Eight to Two

Autumn in the Bashakill
Oil on canvas, 10x20.
Call me at 860-442-0246 or email me
if you are interested in buying this painting

Several good things have happened in the past few days.

1. Kaja, our big old red dog, is doing better and better, day by day.

2. Sandy, at Center Framing & Art in West Hartford, Conn., loves the paintings I made for her, for the dog project. She's happy with my other dog paintings, too, and is going to give me the entire window of the store. She wants two of the paintings from the show at the Wallkill River School Gallery, too, a big lhasa apso piece and a small painting of a cat.

3. I had the fine good fortune to see the leading edge of autumn slip into the mid-Hudson Valley. Along the edges of the roads, purple flowers bloomed, leafy vines turned yellow, trees were burnished gold and copper, and a soft, sweet not-quite scarlet.

4. I had the good sense to drive through the Bashakill, and to take a chance with my schedule and stopped to paint. It was so entrancing, I'd have ached all day if I hadn't painted.

5. I took down my show and found that I'd sold four paintings. Yay!

6. I got to see Marilyn Bove, who was watching the gallery when I arrived to take my paintings down. We had a good talk, and we hugged, and I drove off.

Some bad stuff happened, too.

1. Twenty minutes after I'd left, Marilyn called to say I'd left a bag of paintings there. Crap. I turned around and went back.

(Another good thing:

7. When I went back, I got to see my friend Shawn Dell Joyce, a wonderful painter and one of the founders of the gallery.

Another good thing:

8. When I went back, I got to see my friend Jacqui Schwab, a wonderful painter, hanging her show. )

Another bad thing:

2. I pulled the van in to the gallery in West Hartford, and found that I'd left another bag of paintings in Montgomery. The big dog and the small cat that I'd promised Sandy.

So I turned around and drove right back.

See why I listed all the good things that have happened? To remind me that there's more to these past few days than two stupid, time-wasting forgetful mistakes.

Thanks for reading!