Wednesday, June 29, 2011

First Day on the Marsh

First Day on the Marsh
Oil on canvas, 11x14

I feel like an addict who's found her drug of choice: the Great Marsh.

Essex, just up the road from where I am staying in Gloucester, MA, runs along the edge of this gigantic, gorgeous, wildly living marsh. Everywhere you turn, there is something beautiful to see.

The water snakes through the rich grasses, and the wind ruffles it in waves, and when the tide goes out, you can smell the salt and the brine and the centuries of animals and plankton and grasses that have lived and died on the marsh.

Egrets and cormorants, ducks and seagulls, crabs and snails and who knows all what gathered on the marsh, eating, swimming, darting around. And above it all, a huge sky stretches out, wide and blue and open.

A woman and her granddaughter and their poodle came and looked at my painting, and invited me to park in their driveway whenever I wanted.

The marsh is gorgeous in the fall, she said, and in the winter, it looks like it goes on forever.

In the summer, it looks like it goes on forever, too.

The World Headquarters of Jacobson Arts is in Gales Ferry, Conn.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Old Mystic Marsh

Old Mystic Marsh
Oil on canvas, 20x20

On Saturday, I went painting with a friend at Old Mystic. It was Mike's first time painting with anyone, and for me, around here at least, it was a pretty rare experience.

Jill Blanchette and I painted together one memorable day. I painted last summer with Megan, who took lessons from me, and was a delightful companion. Heather MacLeod and I painted our way through Atlantic Canada together, a journey I will never forget.

When we lived in New York, I painted regularly with my friends at the Wallkill River School. I miss them every day.

It is an oddly solitary life I lead these days. No more working in the newsroom. No more painting with the plein-air group. These days, Peter and I work at home. He is my office mate, though he's in one room and I'm in the other.

I go to Montville, I go to meetings, I do see other people, but it's different. It is a quiet life here, and a good one. But different.

All of which goes a long way toward saying that it was fun to paint with Mike and thrilling, as always, to see the magic of what happens when two painters paint side by side.

My painting on the left, Mike's on the right.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stonington point

Stonington Point
oil on canvas, 10x20

Yesterday, at the end of the day, after I'd already made one painting, I went to Stonington in search of another.

Here at the world headquarters of Jacobson Arts, it's easy to forget that we live in a tourist area.

In Stonington, it's impossible to forget.

It was well after 6, and still, cars filled nearly all the parking spots. People ran and walked and sat on rocks, hugging. Kids and seagulls screamed.

And a cool, dense fog rolled in.

This surprised me, but my surprise showed me just how far we do live from the water. It might be only eight miles, but it's another universe.

I remembered, then, the nights at the beach when I was a kid. Hanging around on the sand, on the wall, laughing and flirting and watching the older kids drive by. June, July, August, it didn't matter. We all, always, had sweaters.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chelsea Groton Bank Exhibit

Pieces of mine at the Chelsea Groton Bank on Long Hill Road, Groton

I am having a heck of a summer, in terms of painting and opportunity. My stuff has been selling well and steadily, which gives me all sorts of hope, and makes me worry about the consequences of hoping too much.

I've gotten into a series of good summer shows again:

  • The Wickford Outdoor Art Festival, July 9 and 10, in Wickford, R.I.
  • Art on Groton Bank, July 16, Groton, CT
  • The Mystic Outdoor Art Festival, Aug. 13 and 14, Mystic, CT
  • Paradise City Northampton, MA, Oct. 8-10 (Columbus Day weekend)

And there might be more! I am hopeful!

Right now, I am really enjoying this small show of my animal paintings in the lobby of the Chelsea Groton Bank on Long Hill Road. For anyone in the area, the building is on the corner of the little road that goes back to Benny's and the post office, pretty much across the street from CVS and Starbucks.

Chris Rose, who runs the Gallery at Lighthouse, arranged the show. The bank had invited him to invite local artists to exhibit, and I am the ice-breaker.

I am starting to understand what my paintings do to the rooms where they hang. They are really very bright, and they change things. They changed this lobby, that's for sure!

When we were hanging the pieces, someone who works in the building came along, and told us how happy it made her to see something colorful hanging there. She left smiling - and left me smiling, too.

jacobson arts world headquarters is on whalehead road in gales ferry, CT

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nellie, and thoughts on Father's Day

Oil on canvas, 12x12, commission

It's Father's Day today, and that's led me to all sorts of thoughts about the shape of family and the shape of parenting.

The family that we have - a grown daughter, four grandchildren ranging in age from 25 to 8, and here in our home, seven dogs and three cats - this is not the family that, when I was growing up, I imagined I'd have.

I thought I'd have a "regular" family. A husband who earned the money. A big house in the suburbs. Two kids, maybe three, and a dog. When the kids were young, I'd be in my 20s or 30s. By the time they went to college, I'd be the age I am now.

I thought my house would always be clean. I'd be svelte, and lineless, and absurdly fit. I would have garden-club friends, and give elegant dinner parties and have plenty of savings in the bank for old age.

Of course, I thought old age would never come. Heck, I thought middle age would never come.

Well, middle age has been here for a while. The family is an interesting amalgam of stepchildren, step-grandchildren, and the vanished fathers of grandchildren. Our own house is never clean, we scrape to pay the bills, Peter does the cooking and the cleaning and the housework, and I am far from svelte or lineless.

But what we have is so much richer than anything I'd imagined. There is love and honesty and courage and inspiration in this house, and in this family. There is art and creativity and kindness. There is honor and faith and a belief in the best of people, and, having seen some of the darkest stretches of life, there is a belief in the best of possibilities.

To read my Father's Day story, and see a photo of Dad and me when we were both about 53 years younger, click here.

The world headquarters of Jacobson Arts is on Whalehead Road in Gales Ferry, CT

Monday, June 13, 2011



Our old dog is still hanging on, and most days, I think we're doing the right thing for her. I wonder if it is the right thing for us.

Most days, she has the bright look in her eyes, the sparkle that is hers and always has been. Some days, it's not there.

She is painfully thin, though we spend our days feeding her. She's gotten very picky, knowing, I believe, that we will give her better and better stuff. Peter bought her her own already cooked chicken last week, and she ate it (we feed her by hand) pretty much all by her lonesome.

Most days, she can't get up by herself, but will exhaust herself trying, so it's become necessary for one of us to be here with her pretty much all the time. At night, this often means waking up five or six times, and staying up for hours while she paces.

Her coat is falling out, so there is no more brushing her. We cut off pieces when we have to. The vets don't know why this alopecia has happened, but it shows no sign of leaving. Kaja's once-beautiful plume of a tail is not a mostly bare rat tail.

When I write it like this, it sounds like we should euthanize her. I know it does. But then she will see me coming and take a little hopping jaunt to greet me. Or she will come over and lean against me, smiling with her eyes, as she always has. Or she will follow Jojo into the bedroom and snap at her, in play, when Jojo is too rambunctious.

She is an old girl now, unsteady and slow. Her beauty has spun to dearness, her strength to resilience, and the place she has always held in my heart has grown. 

I watch the old girl walk around the yard, clearly loving the feel of the grass beneath her feet, and the smells that float on the breeze, clearly still loving her plodding explorations, and I think, not today. Not today.

And I pray that death will find her on its own, as she sleeps, one day not too far from now.

the world headquarters of jacobson arts is in gales ferry, connecticut

Friday, June 3, 2011

Maple Avenue, Hadley

Maple Avenue, Hadley
Oil on canvas, 11x14
Please email me for price and shipping/delivery information! 

The third day of the Paradise City Arts Festival was not a day of sales for me, but a day of meeting people and connecting. And while this doesn't put money in my pocket, it does put joy in my heart.

I spent a lot of time looking at my paintings with people who were entranced by them. The looks of delight on these people's faces, the smiles that my paintings brought to them, the recognition of the soul, these are things that mean a lot to me.

A couple special treats during this show were visits from friends and family. On Saturday, I heard someone calling my name and turned to see my niece Larkin racing toward me, arms outstretched, followed by my brother Rand and his wife Molly. And on Monday I turned around and found my dear friend Jill Blanchette standing by my elbow.

To have people I love go so far out of their way means a huge amount to me! And the support of all of you, reading this blog, sending me emails and thoughtful comments, I appreciate it enormously.

Pam Nelson, a neighbor and a woman who has painted, shown, taught and earned her living through her art, loaned me a couple exhibition panels for the show. When I confided in her that in spite of everything, my lack of confidence is at times nearly paralyzing, she admitted that even for her, the same was true.

A show like this, visits from people I love, and a day of touching hearts like I had on Sunday, gives me a little break from the traffic of self-doubt that is so often snarled up in my head.

Jacobson Arts World Headquarters is in Gales Ferry, CT