Thursday, January 31, 2013

Under the Clouds Once More

Under the Clouds Once More
Oil on canvas, 12x24

Pretty much from the beginning of my painting career, I've been interested not in abstract paintings per se, but in making the representational landscape more abstract. 

I've never strived to create photographic realism, but to create paintings that evoke the emotions I felt when I was painting, and open a space for you to feel something, too - ideally, something as strong and vibrant as what I was feeling. 

It seems to me that the looser the painting, the better chance you have of creating your own emotional landscape, your own emotional reality. 

Surprisingly, it's really difficult to straddle that line between realism and abstraction - at least it is for me! 

This small piece is a somewhat more abstract version of a larger, more realistic painting I made recently (click here to see it).  I'm very interested to know what you think of them - which you prefer, what your thoughts are on realism vs. abstraction, which approach you respond to more. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

On Deep Creek Road

On Deep Creek Road
Oil on canvas, 20x20

While I might be the founding member of the Big Field, Little House school of painting, I doubt that I am the only member - though, who knows?

I have wondered for a long time about this focus of mine. This scene, the archetypal big open space with a solitary house, has always attracted me. Even as a teenager, I remember loving the sight of the single house at the edge of Harkness Park, sitting alone at the edge of the pond.

A psychologist would probably have interesting things to say about this - but I think I love this view because I imagine what it would be like to be in that house, snug against the trees. You would feel sheltered and safe, but have a huge, open expanse in front of you.

And isn't that what we all want?

I made a video of me making this painting... You can see it on YouTube by clicking here. I'd love to know what you think about the video!

Monday, January 21, 2013

January Field

January Field
Oil on canvas, 24x24

The sun shines thin and white these January days, and drains the color from the land and sky. There's a brittleness to the fields, the remnants of the crops crisp and dry underfoot. The wind blows raw and sharp, and the rich blue of the summer sky is just a promise, a memory, a hope. 

My fingers grow cold as I paint, standing in the winter landscape. My cheeks redden, and the chill seeps up from the ground and through my boots. Aside from passing cars and the sky-high calls of geese, the January quiet is unbroken. Summer will bring bustle and noise and sunshine, tractors and farmers, people and boats, long warm busy days, but for now, this is a solitary spot.

If you look hard enough, you can see the landscape warming. At the edges, by a blade, by a leaf, the Eastern Shore is greening. Each day brings spring closer, by seconds at first, and now by noticeable minutes. But for now, the cold is deep and still, and holding fast. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sunflowers, My Great Sponsors (so far!), and a Video!

Sunflower Diptych
Oil on canvas, 12x24, 48x24

The people who are buying this commission have a gorgeous dining room, but there's no blue in it! So they asked for a green lower background to go with the room. So why not?

I wasn't sure about this at first, but it is growing on me - and I know the buyers will love it, and that's all that matters with a commission!


My audacious sponsorship idea is taking hold! Here are the wonderful folks who already have committed to sponsor my upcoming painting trip, "To Tubac and Back!"

Kathryn Yamartino
Tiffany Williams
Laurie Cooper
Dov Kugelmass
Pat Hart
Blake Wentz
Maggie Platte
Donald & Paula Cooper
Kristen Singh
Linda Fite
Nancy Russell

And there are plenty of ways to do it! Of course, you can sponsor me yourself. That's easy and fun and a great present to YOU!

A sponsorship makes a great gift for a friend, spouse, family member... Get the kids together and give a Big Present to your MOM. Ask your husband to give you a sponsorship for your birthday! Tell your wife you've been wanting one of my paintings for years, and now's the time! 

A donation of $100 or more gets you at least one painting... A donation of less than $100 will get you a  smaller gift (more on this later) and a chance to win any painting I've made... 

Here's that Donate button. Don't worry if you don't have PayPal. You can use any credit card! If you'd rather send me a check, drop me an email and I'll give you my mailing address...

At the request of several friends who I've met through this blog, I've made a how-to video, "carrie jacobson paints sunflowers!" The first part is up now on YouTube, and the second part will be up later today, I hope. 

This is sort of a test, another experiment. I'm planning to video myself painting landscapes as I cross the country to Arizona, so I'm working on getting used to the process, getting faster at it, and getting more comfortable with it. 

I'd REALLY like to have some feedback on this. Please let me know how I can improve it! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Silver Beach - and Sponsorship Update!

Silver Beach
Oil on canvas, 10x10

People often tell me that they think I'm brave, that I have great courage, and am a risk-taker. I love hearing that - and while in the end, I do summon the courage and take the leaps, it's not easy for me. 

Under the risk-taking and the courage is a layer of fear and trepidation that I fight to rise above, pretty much on a daily basis. 

Deciding to leave my job and paint full-time was the most terrifying decision ever. 

Since painting came to me from out of the blue, I always worry that it will be taken from me, just the same way. Especially if I don't paint for a matter of days, I worry that I won't be able to paint. When I set out looking for a landscape, I worry that I won't be able to find anything.

When I go to a show, I worry that I won't sell anything, or that I'll get close and blow the sales. I worry that all the other painters will know that I am self-taught. That people will make fun of me and my paintings.

More recently, it took me a month, an entire month, to get up the courage to broach the sponsorship idea, here on the blog, where I am surrounded by friends and supporters! 

But as is usually the case, I took the plunge - and not only did nothing bad happen, but lots of good stuff happened. People are interested in the idea - even excited! Check out the list of sponsors on the blog site! 

And so I'm asking again: Please consider sponsoring me on my upcoming painting trip, "To Tubac and Back."  Your sponsorship helps me plan the trip and buy supplies - and ensures you get the 10x10 painting you want, a discount on another painting, and get a chance to win a painting of your choice, up to 36x60. 

So, courage in hand, I'm asking you to join in the fun! Click right here on this link and then find the "Donate" button in the center of the page. If you have PayPal, great. But if you don't, you can use a credit card! 

Here's my Silver Beach painting in the landscape. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

How I Make Sunflower Paintings

Sunflowers in Three
Oil on canvas. From left, 12x48, 48x48, 24x48

During December, when I was not posting much, I was painting like crazy! I made a series of commissions for people, and happily, they loved them - and I loved them!

So here's how this big piece grew:

One of the surprisingly difficult parts of the process was getting all three canvases supported at the same  height and at the same angle. It took three easels and an amount of propping. At one horrible point, when the piece was about 2/3 finished, the center and right-hand easel toppled backwards. Friends were visiting and luckily for me, one was in the studio with me when this happened. We were able to catch and right the pieces, and no harm was done.

The first thing I do is put the centers on the flowers and lightly sketch in the petals. 

When I paint in plein air, I rarely outline or block in anything. I just start painting. But with really big canvases, I've found that if I don't block in the sunflower centers first, I tend to make them smaller than they could and should be. After all, what good is a big canvas if the images on it are small? 

Then I start to fill in the centers, generally using dark colors around the edges and brighter colors near the center. Many sunflowers don't have the dark centers, but I like the way they look!

Here's the triptych before I start the background, which in these paintings, I do last:

The backgrounds on these sunflower paintings really help make them dramatic and interesting. I call this technique "petal painting," because when I am doing it right, it's like laying down petal upon petal.

To make these strokes, I load up the palette knife and pretty much squish the paint onto the canvas, then squish another palette-knife load below that one, and then another and another and another. I work hard to make the petal painting be rhythmic and sensual.

Love these sunflowers? You can win a painting - of sunflowers or whatever you like - when you commit to sponsoring my upcoming painting trip, "To Tubac and Back." 

Click here to read about the sponsorship idea and how you can get involved! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tall Sunflowers - and the Dissolution of a Dream

Tall Sunflowers
Oil on bi-fold door, 14x80. Can hang vertically or horizontally
Please click here to email me about price and delivery options

I'm taking this opportunity, at the start of 2013, to tell some of my story here on the blog. Many of you have suggested that I write a book, and in these blog posts, I'm hoping to work out pieces that could become that book.

After losing my mother, my boss and my job, and finding my way to painting, I finally found a job as the editor of a newspaper in Rhode Island. 

Let's just say that I should have known better. 

I was 30 when I started in journalism, at The Westerly Sun in Westerly, RI. About two hours into my first day, I decided that I wanted to be the editor. That's where the fun was, that's where the power was, that's where you could make the most difference. 
I set out to become the editor, and 10 years later, I was hired into my first editorship. 

It did not go well. 

The publisher and I did not see eye to eye, and that's putting it mildly. My staff and I produced excellent work, but to my vast horror, I hated being the top dog. 


I'd worked hard for 10 years to get there. I'd moved Peter and me from Rhode Island to Idaho to Maine and to Virginia to win this prize that I so thought I wanted. I was horrified to find the job so completely unlike me. 

But bad things had happened during that first editorship. Peter's mother had died. Our beloved Pekingese had died. My boss and I didn't get on. So maybe it wasn't the position. Maybe it was everything else. 

I took a job, then, as the editor of The Westerly Sun, the paper where I'd started my career in journalism. It was a little better, but not much. 

Day by day, I realized, with increasing clarity, that this was not the job for me. I was not corporate enough to unquestioningly support the publisher, and press upon my staff ideas and dictates with which I disagreed. 

Inevitably, in top-dog meetings, I was the only one who would voice disagreement, or question those dictates.

I hated driving my staff to do things that I thought were wrong. I also hated being the target of blame whenever something went wrong, or some staffer - disagreeing with what he or she perceived as a senseless dictate, would fail to follow it. 

In short, I was miserable. And I sought and found refuge in art, taking a pottery class at the Stonington Community Center, and then throwing myself into pottery with a passion. In a matter of months, I was teaching, and then, running the pottery program. I think that this is perhaps the first time that art saved me. 

At any rate, I took the job in West Warwick, RI, knowing that I probably shouldn't. But I needed a job, and they needed an editor, and so, with trepidation, I accepted. 

Without going into great detail (I'll go into newspapers and their death spiral in later chapters), let it suffice to say that it didn't work. A year or so after I started, I quit. 

I'd been painting, and I'd been selling paintings, and what I knew was that those two things made me happier than anything I'd ever done. 

So on a Thursday, I left full-time employment. On Friday, I packed my car. And on Saturday, I set out on my very first painting journey, to Wisdom, Montana, which was - at the time - my favorite place on earth. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

You Can Sponsor "To Tubac and Back"!

Happy New Year to everyone!

Here's an invitation, a challenge, an idea that could help us both.

In March, I'll be embarking on "To Tubac and Back," a journey to Arizona to paint, visit my dad and his wife in Tubac, and participate in a show in Scottsdale.

I'm going to try something new this time - offer you all a sponsorship opportunity!
Following the model of a CSA - community-supported agriculture, "To Tubac and Back" will work like this:

For every $100 you donate, you get a 10-inch by 10-inch painting from the trip. These sell for $100 ordinarily, and they sell quickly. Your donation ensures that I paint enough of them that you get one.

For amounts over $100, you get 10-inch by 10-inch paintings and a major discount on a larger painting. Discounts apply to trip and non-trip paintings.

Here are sponsorship levels:
  • $150 - one 10x10 and 5 percent off a larger painting
  • $200 - two 10x10 paintings and 10 percent off a larger painting
  • $300 - three 10x10s and 15 percent off
  • $500 - five 10x10s and 25 percent off 
  • Sponsor  me for $1,000, and you will have five 10x10s and 60 percent off any painting, including a commission, up to 36x60. For that amount I'll also come to your house and make you lunch, or groom your dog, shampoo your rugs, fold your laundry... (well, maybe not shampoo your rugs... but you get it. I'll be very grateful!) 

If you'd rather, each 10x10 can be converted into $50 off a larger painting.

Everyone who sponsors me at $50 or more will have the chance to win a painting of their choice, including a commission, up to 36 by 60 inches. 

I'll also display your names prominently on the blog here (if you want) and on my website.

Selection of paintings will be determined by the order of sponsorship. The first person who sponsors me at $100 or above gets first choice of all the 10x10 paintings from the trip. The second person, second choice, etc.

Why do this? Paintings from my trips tend to sell very well - (check out my first Arizona trip, my Outer Banks and Ocracoke trip (starting in October 2011 with "Outside Hatteras"), and Heather's and my Canada trip (starting in early June 2010, with "On Our Way").

Sponsorship ensures that you get a painting from the trip. It helps me figure out how many canvases to bring, how many paintings to make, and how long a trip I should plan. Knowing that I have guaranteed sales helps ease my mind about the cost of the trip, too.

So why not participate? Just click the "Donate" button below, and you will become a sponsor.  A patron! You'll be helping one of your favorite artists produce stunning new work, you'll be buying a piece for your home or for a gift, and you'll be participating in a fun experiment!

If you have PayPal, that's great. If not, once you click the "donate" button, you can use a credit card.

One note: Donations are NOT tax-deductible.


All the folks pictured here are happy customers with paintings by me! Some of these are commissions, and some are paintings purchased at shows, through the internet, etc.

It makes me incredibly happy to see my paintings in your home - especially with your smiling face in the photo, too. If you'd like, please send me a shot of you and the painting - and a couple sentences about why you love whatever you bought!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Field of Flowers

Field of Flowers
Oil on canvas, 12x12

I'm taking this opportunity, at the start of 2013, to tell some of my story here on the blog. Many of you have suggested that I write a book, and in these blog posts, I'm hoping to work out pieces that could become that book.

I grew up in New London, CT. Peter grew up in Ashaway, RI. After three life-altering events  in 2006-2007, Peter and I decided to move from our home in New York back to the area that, at that point, we called home.

So I searched and searched and finally found a job as editor of a paper in Rhode Island. We bought a house in Ledyard, packed up seven dogs, four cats and an inordinate amount of stuff and moved.

My job was had been eliminated in April 2007; I was hired in August. That's four months. Never in my two decades in newspapers had I thought I'd have to look for four months before I found a job. In the past, once I decided it was time to move on, I usually had an interview in three days, and a job offer a week or so later - if it even took that long.

Now, I realize, four months was nothing. Friends of mine whose newspaper jobs were eliminated after mine have spent years looking for a job. But at the time, it felt like an eternity.

And in that eternity, it felt like my life was over.

For years, for decades, I had defined myself through my work, and, honestly, through excellence in my work. As much as I knew that I hadn't been fired, that the elimination of my job had nothing to do with the quality of my work, as much as I knew that, it was still impossible to truly believe it.

So in those months, I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. And I spent a lot of time painting. I made a lot of paintings. I started with pets, then found plein-air painting - and I fell in love with it.

To this day, there's little in life that makes me happier than standing in a gorgeous landscape, feeling the sun (or wind or snow) on my face, smelling the air and working to capture all of that on canvas.

As I painted through the spring, and painted through the summer, I healed. I began to realize that I could get through my life without my mother, though it would never be as sweet. I began to realize that I was more than my job.

And I began to get glimpses of a better future.