Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer's Almost Over

Summer's Almost Over
Oil on canvas, 16x20, $250

The sun beat down with a fury Tuesday, even early in the morning, and I sought shade.

In the hill country of Texas, I painted in a 104-degree afternoon. In Montana, I withstood mosquito clouds, and painted in a 98-degree morning. I've painted in snowstorms and windstorms, I've even painted in showers - but Tuesday, I couldn't stand it. The sun was just too hot.

Standing in the shade, I looked out over this farm and saw autumn's leading edge slicing along the summer hillside. I saw the tinge of orange in the leaves, and the brittle tan of August's feathery weeds. I saw dusty, thick greenery, with almost none of the lemony yellow of spring or early summer. I watched as the shadows grew, so much more quickly than they did a week ago, a month ago, and I felt the summer slip away.

I'm a little sorry to see these golden days go by, I am. And yet, I welcome the glory of autumn's color, the crisp air of fall, and its short, precious days.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sawmill Pond

Sawmill Pond
Oil on canvas, 11x14
Please email me at carrieBjacobson@gmail.com for price and delivery information

For most of the summer, I've had the pleasure of teaching Meghan, a neighbor who is starting high school on Wednesday.

Meghan is an excellent painter. She has an amazing natural touch, and honestly, I think some of her paintings are better than the ones I made, standing beside her.

But that's one of the great things about painting - or art of any kind - isn't it? Glee and vigor and experimentation, excitement and discovery and daring - these things can take a piece farther, at least at times, than education and training can.

Of course, there are limits. One thing I know from my own experience is that when I get in trouble, I have to botch things to get out of trouble. Someone with training could probably get out of trouble with much less effort. In fact, someone with training would probably not get in trouble in the first place!

At any rate, it was great to paint with Meghan this summer, and I will miss our weekly sessions.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Oil on canvas, 12x12

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law, Sue Jacobson, adopted a beautiful mixed-breed dog named Frankie. Frankie is a cross between a cocker spaniel and an Australian shepherd. She has a chestnut coat and lovely ice-blue eyes, and she's a sweetheart.

Frankie came from Texas, in a big, air-conditioned truck with other southern dogs being adopted by people in New England.

Brewster showed up during Sue's search for Frankie. His page on Adopt-A-Pet  (http://www.adoptapet.com/pet4229680.html) says he's in Glastonbury, Conn., but I think he's another southern guy. He is part Wheaten terrier and part chow. He has a blue tongue, and in all his photos, that left ear comes forward over his face. In the past couple weeks, they've shaved him down. Wherever he is, Glastonbury or the South, it must be hot!

I am going to track him down and, as a part of the Art for Shelter Animals Project,  donate this painting to his rescue group or to the person who eventually adopts him. I will let the rescue group make the decision. I'd love to adopt him, but we have too many dogs as it is.

A last note: Sue said that going to meet the truck was like going to meet family who had been away for years. She pulled up into the parking lot, and there were people and dogs and hugs and smiles and laughter, and she burst into tears, it was so moving and so full of love and life.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Two Houses

Two Houses
Oil on canvas, 8x10, $100

I made this painting in St. Ulric, on the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec, on a beautiful, windy June day. I had already finished one painting of this scene, done with a palette knife, and decided to try a brush, just for a different effect. 

I do this from time to time, use a brush, even though I love the palette knife. The brush gives me more control, and I like that from time to time- even though one of the things that attracts me to the knife is the lack of control that it brings.

I love the random surprises that come with the palette knife. I love what happens when I layer on the paint, thick and rich and juicy. I get effects and motion and movement I just can't get with a brush. Lately, I've been using both - and that might be part of the next phase of my painting life. 

In other news... 

If you're around West Hartford, Conn.,  on Saturday, stop by Center Framing & Art, 56 LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center. I'll be painting on the sidewalk in front of the store. Stop by, say hi, see what I'm painting - and look at work by me and others in the gallery. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Give Me That Ball!

Give Me That Ball!
Oil on canvas, 12x12
A couple weeks ago, while I was messing around with this blog, I stumbled into a place that allowed me to add row of little icons at the foot of each blog post, so that a reader could email the posting, or send it to Facebook or Twitter or a couple other places that I've never heard of.

Well, I stuck the thing there, and just yesterday, it occurred to me that maybe if I hit the "Facebook" button, it would send my blog post to Facebook, or send a link or something. So I tried it and, lo and behold, my painting and a link to the blog post appeared on my Facebook page. (I think I did something in between, but can't remember what).

My friend Bonnie Brankey (check out her blog!) was about as excited about this as I was, which is to say, we both thought it was pretty cool. She wanted to know how to do it.

The conversation went something like this:

Bonnie: How did you do that?

Me: Hmmmm. Let's seeeee... I don't really remember. I have no idea where that thing was. It was on a page with tabs on it, I remember that.

Bonnie: Dashboard? 

Me: Dashboard? Maybe. The place where you can design your stuff. Is that Dashboard? 

Bonnie: I don't know. I don't see it in Dashboard. 

Me: Well, it's probably not in Dashboard. Maybe it's where you make a new posting. That's where it is, I think. Yes! There it is. See the tabs?Click on the tab that says "Arrange" or "Amend" or something like that. Then look down near the bottom, about halfway, for a button thing that gets you to the doodads. 

Bonnie: The gizmos? 

Me: The widgets.

Bonnie:  The gadgets? 

Me: The doodads. Look there. Look for something that says "edit," and then when you hit it, a box will pop up, with a whole lot of other boxes for gizmos you can have, and the Facebook thing is in there... 

At any rate, it went on like this for a while, and I just had to laugh, listening to this stumbling conversation from the outside.

We fumble our way through all this stuff, don't we? We don't know the words for anything, and we can't remember how we did anything, but damn it, we address the task with desire and vigor.

And that makes up for an awful lot.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Port Dufferin

Port Dufferin Harbor
Oil on canvas, 16x20, $200

Port Dufferin, Nova Scotia, isn't much more than a wide place in the road. But for Heather and me, it was a quiet, lovely, serene stopover on our way home from Canada.

We stayed in the one hotel in Port Dufferin, and our room - with a tiny little balcony - looked out over the hotel lawn, a small roadway, and the harbor. We spent time in the evening on the hotel's covered dock. We watched guys fish, and we watched a harbor seal.

The morning dawned rainy and foggy, but we painted anyways, and created quite a stir. About a dozen people stopped to see what we were doing. Most were less than enthusiastic about either of our paintings, though they liked Heather's better than mine.

There's an interesting thing people do when they don't like your painting. They come up, ask if they can look, and then just don't say anything. Once in a while, someone will volunteer a comment. The brother of the guy who owns this lobster boat saw us painting, took a look and then went to get his brother. The brother's one comment was that I should come and paint his other boat.

At any rate, I wasn't happy with this piece when I finished it. Here's the original, side by each with the new one:

The original piece just felt a little prissy to me. It didn't have the feeling of a foggy, grey morning, and there was nothing cohesive about it. I think that between the rain and the people and the ongoing lack of comments, I just got a little lost. I like what I did to the painting yesterday, though, and I feel that it's a step on the path for me. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fat Little Chihuahua

Fat Little Chihuahua
Oil on canvas, 12x12

Well, life with all its twists and turns has given me something new: a job.

In three weeks, if all goes according to schedule, I start as the local editor for Patch.com in Montville, Conn., a town just across the river from.

Patch.com is funded by AOL. It is an effort to get good local news out to readers on the internet. It has a simple and elegant interface, and seems to focus on the right stuff. I will be working at home, in my car, wherever I am, finding news and crafting features about people and events in Montville.

I will be earning pretty good money for this, and will have health, dental and vision benefits - and more - starting on Day One. Patch.com is supplying me with a computer, police scanner, camera, phone and all the rest of the stuff that a roving news-gathering operation needs. (There is a part of me that wants to let these people know that journalists are accustomed to being treated like unwanted guests, not like valued employees, but I am going to keep my mouth shut. )

Peter is going to step into his old role of doing all the housework, all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc., and so we both believe that I should be able to do this job and continue to develop my painting career.

Honestly, short of having a patron suddenly appear and offer to pay all the bills for the next couple years (if you're out there, please make yourself known!!), this is the best shot I have of earning enough of a living to live on until my sales really pick up.

I'm selling more paintings and doing better than I had ever believed possible. If it weren't for health insurance, I would be very close to breaking even, and that's truly a miracle. But this is, too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Montgomery Museum

Montomery Museum
Oil on canvas, 16x20

Two of my paintings sold at the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival this past weekend! Both were large, both were moody. One was a very wintry plein-air piece of the Wallkill River in January. The other was of a wave, breaking, at the edge of a storm, in Westerly, R.I.

I spent the weekend trying to greet visitors without hovering. I listened hard, tried to understand what they wanted, what they needed - whether it was time alone to look at my paintings, whether it was to talk about their dogs or their lives or their own art, whether it was a specific painting - specific in size, color or mood - to fill a spot in their homes. And then, once I understood that, seeing whether I had a piece for them, or could supply a piece for them, or could help them get that piece, whether it was by me, or by someone else.

This notion of sales person as service provider was broached to me on a disk my friend Bonnie Brankey (check out her beautiful paintings by clicking here). It makes sense to me, and it is something I can feel comfortable doing. I have miles to go before I am good at it, but I can learn!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Oil on canvas, 12x12

Last Monday, I was weeding the garden when I dislodged the very edge of a yellow-jacket nest.

I pulled up the weed, a couple yellow jackets flew out (terrifyingly, they nest in the ground), and stung me on the wrist. It hurt like blazes. They're mean, vicious, and they don't die when they sting. They just keep on stinging. I flung off my gardening glove and leapt away from the garden, and escaped with two stings.

I ran my wrist under frigid water.

The next day, it started to swell. It swelled and swelled and swelled and swelled. An angry red streak began to develop in my arm, and the itching was unbearable.

Yes, I scratched.

By Wednesday, my hand was swollen, and the bulging was stretching my skin tight, nearly to my elbow. I couldn't type. I couldn't grasp. I couldn't paint. It was like having an alien inside my arm.

I went to a doctor. He told me I had poison ivy. I told him I didn't. He told me I did. I told him that yellow jackets had stung me. He told me I had poison ivy. Finally, I just shut up. I got the steroid cream he prescribed, and rubbed it on. I got the steroid pills he prescribed, and didn't take them.

The next day, the red streak - about 4 inches across - had reached nearly to my elbow. The swelling had torn the skin open where I'd scratched. My arm was the size of a pork loin. It made me think of the pictures of people with elephantiasis that my brother and I used to goggle over when we were children.

I went to another doctor.

She took one look at my arm, prescribed antibiotics, and told me that if I'd waited another day, I'd have been in the hospital.

By Friday, the swelling was down. By Saturday, the redness was receding. By Sunday, I could twist the lid off a bottle, and I could hold a paintbrush.

I've never been so happy to be able to do such small things. I've never been so happy that I pulled one clump of weeds instead of another.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Oil on canvas panel, 16x20, $200
Please email me for shipping/delivery information

Her muzzle has grayed, and her legs are stiff. She sleeps a lot. But behind the bluish, cataracty film, her eyes are bright and interested. She greets me with a smile and a sparkle, and even, sometimes, a sprightly little trot across the yard.

The glory days are behind her now, but we both remember. We remember how she ran across the fields, strong and fleet and tireless. We remember how she chased deer, and how she roared and snarled at strangers, protecting me from all danger. We remember how she leapt, how she plowed through snowstorms and rolled in drifts, and shook off the cold as though it were nothing. She dreams these memories today; I hear her nails clicking against the floor as she runs and races in her sleep, young again and fierce and proud.

She follows me these days, with her eyes and with her body, too. Follows me and looks, sometimes, deep into me, into my eyes, into my heart, as if I have the answer for why she can no longer hear, no longer run. I can't run, either, I tell her. But I can walk, and you can walk, and we can walk together. And I can love, and you can love, and that will never end.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunny Saturday

Sunny Saturday
Oil on canvas, 10x30

I've come to realize that I no longer listen when people give directions. After about the third turn, my brain just shuts off.

I was on the phone with my friend Joan, and she began telling me how to get to her house. It was pretty straightforward at first, and I wrote everything down as she spoke.

But  when she got me off the highway and began telling me to take the second left and then the third left past Brunha Street, and look for the flagpole on the right, I realized that I'd stopped writing and almost stopped listening.

I was going to go to her house - but I have a GPS, and honestly, it's so much easier to use the GPS than to follow directions, that that's what I generally do.

I didn't realize until yesterday, though, that my whole approach to travel has changed irrevocably. And it's probably for the better.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

At the Diner

At the Diner
Oil on canvas, 24x36
Please email me for price and delivery information

We were going in to eat at this very same diner on a recent sweltering morning when I saw a car parked with a dog in it.

The windows were cracked open, but the car was in the direct sun. It was already 86 degrees and getting hotter by the second.

"Who owns the car with the dog in it?" I asked, loudly, when I got into the diner.

"We do," a man said. "And he's alright."

OK, I thought, either do it or don't, but decide.

"No," I said, "he's not. And if he is now, he won't be in about 10 minutes."

"He's alright," the man said, "and it's none of your business."

"Yes, it is," I said. "It's everyone's business. That dog is going to get sick or die if you don't get him out of there."

"You want to take him for a walk?" the man said. "Take him for a walk then."

"No, I don't want to take him for a walk. I want you to move the car."

"He's my damn dog, and he's fine," the guy said. His wife and young daughter said nothing. They had clearly just arrived, and were studying the menus. It would be a long time before that dog was safe.

By this time, we were seated, and I was crying. I hate this, but it happens to me, and there's nothing I can do to stop it.

"I'm going to call the police," I said to Peter.

The guy overheard. "You want to call the police, call the damn police."

"Fine," I said, "I will." I turned to Peter. "Let's go," I said. "I can't stand to be here and watch this."

I called the police, and we left.  I wish I had done more. I wish I'd stayed until the cops came. I wish I had taken the poor dog for a walk. But at least I did something.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gaspe Cowscape

Gaspe Cowscape
Oil on canvas, 48x60
Please email me for price and delivery information

OK, it's probably a little nuts to make a 48-inch by 60-inch painting of cows. But I loved painting it, and it's a really cool piece! It's very bright (there's a surprise, right?) and that brightness doesn't seem to show up on my screen here, though it did show up as I was working on it.

I could drive myself crazy with this stuff, and all to no avail. If I get it right for my screen, it still could be wrong for yours. But if you want to see this painting - and more - in full-blown color, come to the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival. It's Aug. 14 and 15 in downtown Mystic. I'll be on the corner of Willow Street and East Main, conveniently close to Tim Horton's.

And this is very good for me, for all sorts of reasons. My daughter worked for Tim Horton's for a few years. She worked hard for them, and did a great job, and in the end, they treated her very badly. So whenever I can, I go into a Tim Horton's, drop my trash in their trash cans, use their bathroom, and leave without buying anything. It's not that I never buy coffee from Tim Horton - I do - but I try to keep the ledger so that I use more than I put in. It's my little personal crusade.

When Heather and I were in Canada, we bathroomed and tossed our trash nearly exclusively at Tim Horton's. I feel that I made more progress in my crusade in those three weeks than I have in the past three years.

If you want to see this painting and you can't make it to Mystic, or you just don't want to deal with the insanity that is the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival, drop me an email and come to the studio! I'll give you coffee and maybe even let you see the elephant.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Oil on canvas, 12x12

It is absolutely amazing to me that if you put a bunch of old stuff out on a table, and sell it all at 50 cents or a dollar, you can end up with 200 bucks.

But that was our yard sale. We put up posters, and Peter wrote a very funny ad and placed it on Craigslist, and people came and took our old stuff home.

If you'd asked me, mid-afternoon, what we'd made, I'd have thought about the drawer full of silverware I sold for $3, and the meat slicer I sold for $5, and I'd have estimated our take at $40 or maybe $50.

In the end, I guess this is how it all works. Little bit by little bit by little bit, you build a life or a family or a relationship or a business or a career. You make a small decision here, take a tiny step there, and before you know it, you've got something that is much bigger - or much different - than you ever imagined.

All too often, I forget about miracles, and I shouldn't. I'm living one.


Here is the ad that Peter wrote:



All right, I lied about the elephant, but we've always taken great pride in accumulating some of the finest junk in Southeastern Connecticut. Your grandkids will be fighting over this stuff at the reading of your last will and testament. We've got a Fender Stratocaster, a microwave oven, a variety of decent books, pottery, new original art, (not junk - artists on premises) tin striper lures, fly tying lessons, and many, many, odds and ends that don't belong in a landfill (and a few that probably do). Lots of fun stuff. 20% discount for octogenarians - 50% buyer's premium for lawyers, insurance salesmen and convicted felons. Hard to go wrong. Free coffee for Red Sox fans. Bring lots of cash.


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