Friday, December 15, 2006
The Cat that Walked by Himself
oil on gallery wrap canvas, 8 x 10 x 1.5 in.
This little oil pays tribute to Cornelius, a handsome black feline who wandered onto our farm and started claiming his territory a couple of years ago. Our tenant decided to take him in and get him the proper veterinary treatment and surgery, and has turned this wandering Romeo into the ultimate lap kitty. This view of him is what you get the minute you squat down with a camera. He immediately sees a potential petting and stroking and walks right over. There is no catching a candid view of this guy. Though he is known for perching on fenceposts and rolling in the dust of the paddock, I will never catch him at any of these activities on film. I was attracted to the way the sun reddened the insides of his ears, and his shadow reached out on the pavement.
The approach of the holidays means wrapping things up for the year---finishing up commissions, and getting the books in order for tax-time. It's a time to clean out the studio and shred excess paper. And of course there is the excitement of having some time off to start some new paintings after Christmas.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Peace and Joy to all!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
oil on board
I did finally manage to get Murphy re-scanned, and here he is, sweetly sitting in the snow.
The Pony Line-Up
12 x 40 oil on canvas
Having six or so paintings in progress certainly keeps one from getting bored working on any one thing, but sometimes it's a relief to finally get one or two or three off the easel. A couple of commissions are in the finishing stages, and one just got shipped off. And this painting of the ponies is finally complete. This is one of those paintings that I've had in my head for quite a long time. Finally I had an assortment of photographs that would work for it, and I did an elaborate piecing together of the composition. Thanks to Photoshop, I could arrange and rearrange these guys until I had them where I wanted them.
I love geometry and patterns, and though horses don't always lend themselves to such things, in this case, I was able to create some repeating elements--the helmets, the shirts, the hunt coats. Not all the girls were wearing white shirts, but I wanted the harmony of the repeating triangle of white. The life in the painting comes from the different attitudes and poses of the riders and ponies. I wrestled with the issue of the background--should I indicate some fencing, etc...but this is obviously a scene at a horse show, and it would be awkward to put in just a bit of fencing without indicating all the other stuff in the background, the trailers, the buildings and tents...too busy. I decided to put the emphasis on the shapes and negative shapes of the main subjects.
This weekend is Artists Open Studios of NE Connecticut, and I will have my studio open to the public. A complete list of artists and a map is available at www.aosct.org
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Pets have been on my mind lately. The painting pictured is "Bath Cat" an oil on linen of Pixel lounging in his favorite bathroom window. Relax while you can, Pixel, as we are making preparations to add a dog to our household, a puppy no less, and I've come to the conclusion that there is just no easy way to break the news to the cats. Not one to take the responsibility of a dog lightly, I've researched and researched, and have decided that the dog I have been looking for is an English Shepherd, a good, old-fashioned working type farm dog. I stumbled across the breed while researching breeders of Nigerian Dwarf Goats (another animal we would like to add to our small farm) and I felt like this is the dog I had always been looking for in a mixed breed. But the English Shepherd is an actual breed, and I have been talking to a breeder that could have a litter of puppies ready by January!
Not only am I salivating at the thought of having a puppy to play with and train next year, but you can bet that this pup will be photographed and painted as if he/she were royalty. My first dog, Murphy, a golden/collie mix is lovingly captured in an oil on board painting that resides in my living room. Our cats are also willing subjects and have been featured in several oils and watercolors. I find that drawing dogs and cats is a nice little break from my equine work. And it is different than working on horses. Horses all have the same basic anatomy. They vary in size and shape a bit, but overall, the anatomical proportions are basically the same. Drawing a horse is all about getting the anatomy right. Dogs vary so much in size and shape, and many of them have so much hair, that the surface anatomy is hidden. Painting fur is a technique in itself, and involves lots of layering of color. Portraits of dogs and cats are all about the eye expression. Currently on the easel is a commissioned portrait of two Australian Shepherd dogs, both with blue merle coats. It's important to me not only to get the markings right, but to get each dog's unique facial expression.
Next time I post, I'll try to get that painting of Murphy pictured. I painted it before I had a good knowledge of scanning, and now I need to take it out of the frame and get a good computer scan of it.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
September already! It's back to work, back to a normal routine. With a couple of commissions on my plate, and some freelance work, my time management skills will really come into play. Over the past month, I've been able to spend some quality time in the studio, and it will have to continue in order to get everything done. The Greener Pastures Rescue Art Exhibit will open on Saturday, the 9th at Stonington Vineyards, and I'm looking forward to the opening reception and meeting the other artists. At the end of the month, I will be delivering some paintings to Maine for an exhibit of art featuring carriage horses.
I made a trip to Saratoga Springs last month--the first time in at least seven years. There is nothing like Saratoga in August for an equine artist! Four different galleries offered a juicy selection of art, and a day at the racetrack yielded over 400 photos of racehorses and jockeys. I came home so jazzed up to paint, that within a week, I had completed two new oils on canvas. I'll scan those and post when they are dry.
For now, I'll post one of the watercolors I have done from the horse show I photographed last month. Little girls on ponies in the sunshine are irresistable to me. This young rider had perfect command of her bay pony, cantering perfect circles in the sunlit sand.
Monday, August 21, 2006
As summer winds down, the show schedule is gearing up, and I have found myself in need of some organization so that I know where everything is going, the sizes, prices, etc... So I cleared my bulletin board of clutter, and have posted lists of paintings that are in or going to six different shows/galleries. Sort of like those boards in the ER where the patients are listed. Keeping track of shipping and drop-off dates, opening reception dates, and the like is giving me a massive headache. Oh, well, if you don't put the stuff out there, you can't expect to sell it, so out it goes. As I may have mentioned in an earlier post, I have become an expert box engineer. I ordered a case of cardboard pads from a shipping supply catalog. They're basically just flat sheets of cardboard, big enough for most of my larger pieces, if I make two-piece boxes. For smaller pieces, I make a "pizza box" to directly fit the painting, then if I am shipping it, I wrap the small box in bubble wrap, and make a larger box to fit the wrapped box. I finally invested in a good hand-held clear packaging tape dispenser. Like my Logan mat cutter, I wonder how I've done without it for so long. Making my own boxes is a huge money-savings--and since many of my pieces are an odd long or narrow format, I could never find pre-made boxes to fit them anyway.
On another subject entirely...a family camping trip this summer yielded a great unexpected photo opportunity. A big horse show was being held within a mile of the state park where we camped, and I was able to go on the afternoon of the big grand prix. It was fun to try out the digital camera on the jumpers, but even with the continuous shooting mode, I still found it difficult to get the perfect jump pose captured in a shot. I came away with plenty of painting inspiration anyway, and I'm currently working on some watercolors of irresistable little girls on ponies.
For now, I'll post the image of this black Friesian mare and her foal.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
It has been such a busy summer for me, with a show on Martha's Vineyard, two invitational group shows coming up in Sept and Oct. and all of the family activities that go along with having a 6-year old out of school and needing something to do.
I have had three or four paintings in progress, some since early May. Last year I was at a local horse show, and photographed some hunter ponies lined up in the ring, with young riders in their hunt coats and velvet caps, fluffy white saddle pads, and shining boots. The painting has been in my head for some time, and I finally purchased a long thin, 11 x 39 in. canvas on which to do it. So I have seven ponies and six young riders, all in a line (The seventh pony is just poking his head in from the side.) Well, it means painting six hunt jackets, twenty four legs and hooves, well, you can do the math. It's taking the time that seven small paintings would take me, and yet it seems to be living up to my vision. Hopefully I can post an image of the finished product by October.
Recently, I also had the opportunity to photograph some Fresians, which of course led to another painting. This one came quickly off the brush, as some of them do, and I will soon post that one as well.
Another piece that went quickly is this small (11 x 14) study of my mare dozing in the sun. I loved the way the light flowed over her rounded body...she is all curves, reminding me of the reclining women painted by Rubens and Ingres, and other masters. I almost called it "Odalisque" but settled on "Repose" for the title.
And I also have a large head study of a hunter drying on the easel. That one has been in progress since early May and thought the subject matter is simple, the bridlework and shadows made for some very fussy work, and it took longer to complete. Most of these are gallery-wrapped canvas, my painting surface of choice lately. At first because I figured I didn't have to frame them, but now that I have done several, I have been putting them in canvas floater frames, and finding that they can have a contemporary look and still have the protection of a frame.
I mentioned two shows coming up in the fall--one is to benefit Greener Pastures Rescue, and Connecticut horse rescue organization, and will be on display at Stonington Vineyards, Stonington, Connecticut during September, and the second show is called "Driven", to take place at the Skyline Farm Carriage Museum in North Yarmouth, Maine. That show will open in October.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Lots of good stuff is on the horizon, and it's shaping up to be a busy summer. I just shipped four boxes of artwork off to Martha's Vineyard for a show of new works that will open on the Summer Solstice, June 21st. The gallery is ABoDE, in Oak Bluffs, which had a showing of my work last summer, and it's so nice to have such a wonderful location for a show. Now that the Vineyard stuff is all packed up, I have a little breathing space before I pack up three more pieces to go to Lexington for a traveling show to benefit the Masters of Foxhunting Assoc. of America. I have only been to one foxhunt, ever, but I shot so many wonderful photos, and did several paintings from my experience, that I feel lucky to be able to participate in this show.
I had so much work filling the walls of the studio for my Open Studios weekend, and now half of it is being packed and sent off. As you might guess, I've been spending a lot of time as a cardboard box engineer. No one ever really mentions that aspect of being an artist, but it's a huge, time-consuming job. Every large flat box that I get something shipped in, I save. I'm still working with cardboard from our kitchen cabinet cartons when we remodeled four years ago. I could take the easy, but expensive way out and order artwork shipping cartons that have foam inserts. And I do order those sometimes, when shipping to a big juried show where the concern is as much the ease of repacking and returning the artwork as it is to protect it in transit. But I can't order 12 expensive cartons to ship everything to the Vineyard. And my husband and I will be carrying the four larger, odd-shaped pieces with us on the ferry. It's only a couple of weeks away--I really hope the New England weather improves by then!
The piece pictured is a new 15 x 30 in. oil on gallery-wrap canvas, called "Red Barn." This horse was really giving me the eye when I stopped to photograph a cow that was across the street. He was muddy and scruffy and seemed to be enjoying the winter sunshine. I liked the way his chestnut coat looked against the red barn behind him, and I loved his big, wide white blaze and the pink on his muzzle and lip.
Monday, May 08, 2006
What a nice weekend for an open studio! A steady flow of visitors kept me busy for two days, and it was so nice to be able to talk to folks about my work in my home setting. I thought I might actually get some painting done, but there really wasn't that much time. I worked on a little watercolor of Pixel, my feline muse, which I'll post here. This guy is such a ham and such a character. He was a shelter rescue that came with the name of Peter, but we named him Pixel, and so he is affectionately called "Pixel Pete". He is wound as tight as a spring, and can wiggle out of our grasp with strength that cannot be believed. He is a perfect foil for Maizy, the sedate, pleasingly plump female that we adopted at the same time. Both are subjects that are readily available, and I photograph them all the time, so they appear in many paintings, drawings, and watercolors. I call this one "Birdwatcher".
More samples of the cats.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
This little watercolor of the hunter ponies is going to be on display at a brand-new gallery that is opening up locally. I am really looking forward to the opening--it will be a fun mix of fine art, craft, and furniture. If you are in the Northeast Connecticut area, check out the Gallery and Shoppes at Celebrations in Pomfret, when it opens on May 5. This beautiful Victorian house, a former B & B, will make a fine showcase for art, and hopefully become a destination for travelers in our area.
I am also very excited about my Open Studio Weekend. I have hung dozens of pieces, made nice little labels for them, and have been working at getting some local advertising done before the newspaper ad deadlines.
But you know, all this, plus a hundred other things in the business of life have left no time for actually painting. And despite our earnest attempts to curtail our driving, it seems like I am always having to run somewhere in the car!
This morning, I had a respite from the merry-go-round in the form of a blacksmith appointment. Every seven weeks, I have the pleasure of hanging out in the barn for a couple of hours, shooting the breeze with my blacksmith. It's a much needed forced break from everything else. We can talk about our kids, our horses, the price of fuel, property taxes, local government, alternative energy...the topics are varied, and I always learn something. And while my boarder's horse is being done, I get a good grooming done on my mare.
On a totally unrelated topic, I just have to get off my chest---I hate lawnmowers! We have a riding mower and a push mower, and right now, the only working mowers we have on the property are four-legged ones. The push-mower is only a year old and won't start, and the riding one is about 6 years old, and has had to be serviced nearly every year, because it won't start. Starting a lawn mower should not be rocket science--it just shouldn't be that hard! So just about every year, we get to the time when the grass starts to grow out of control, and we can't mow because the mowers won't start. I know that neither my husband or I has the "tractor-gene", the innate ability to tinker with internal combustion engines.
The only way I would like to tinker with them is with a sledgehammer.
Whew, I feel much better now. And tomorrow, the horses get to graze on the lawn.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Can't believe a month has gone by since my last post. The driving conference proved to be a pleasant show. It was an enjoyable time, talking to carriage enthusiasts all weekend. I'm signed up to do the show next year, so I'll be busy doing some more paintings with a driving theme. Now to get ready for the next item on the schedule--an open studio. This will be my first year participating in the Artist's Open Studios of NE Connecticut, and although the event runs for the first two weekends, I am opting to do just the first weekend. It's tough to give up two spring weekends in May to sit around waiting for visitors. After all, it is prime gardening and riding season. I do hope there will be plenty of turnout. I'll be spiffing up the studio, baking refreshments, and hauling all the art I have hanging in my house out to the studio to display there. It will still be a lot less work than hauling everything in my car to some other location. It's a good thing I have a month to prepare. Somehow April is so booked up with appointments, art openings, swimming lessons (for the six-year old), holidays and soccer. The month is going to fly.
The image I've attached is a mini watercolor painting. It's only about 3.5 inches across. I really enjoy doing these quick little paintings when I feel bogged down by a complicated oil.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Here is another in my bovine series of paintings, "Red Cow." This one just rolled so nicely off the brush...there was no struggling with composition or color, and I'm glad I was able to retain the looseness of brush strokes. It is a small painting, an 8 x 10 in. oil on canvas.
Well, it's the beginning of a week before a trade show, and with that comes all the stress of making sure I have enough business cards printed, wrapping prints and doing last minute framing. It doesn't help that my son starts swimming lessons, and the blacksmith is coming one of the days. And my printer decided to cease communicating with the computer, or vice-versa, and after spending a couple of hours backing everything up, and running a hardware test, (don't I sound like I know what I'm doing?) miraculously, everything started working again.
At least I have done enough of these shows to know that I will have enough done by Saturday--there will be more than enough to fill the booth, and the more work I bring, the more I have to carry.
The show in question is the Driving Forum. Although the only horse I have ever driven myself was a livery-stable rental on Mackinac Island, (the horse pretty much drove himself.) I have helped hitch and watched plenty of carriage driving events. I don't know if I will ever have my own driving horse, but a horse-drawn carriage is still one of those sights that inspires awe. Perhaps I will come away from the conference with a renewed interest in obtaining a carriage and getting my Morgan hitched. I guess I'd have to ask my mare first--she might have other ideas.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
It seems as if I am always complaining that I don't have enough time to paint, however, this week, as I was updating my painting inventory list, I discovered that I had a whole bunch of new finished works to add. Some of them are little watercolors, which I am still in the process of matting and wrapping, but I have a few completed oils, as well. Keeping an inventory list, which I can sort by year, title, medium, etc... is enormously helpful in the business of creating art. You get to look back at which things have sold, and which items are lingering around the studio, and one can adjust working methods accordingly. I had so many new watercolors to add, that I had to create another page of watercolors on my web site. Also there is a new piece on the home page--one of my recent favorites. I won't repeat myself here, I've written a little about the piece below the image on my home page.
As of late, I've departed from the equines temporarily to paint bovines. One sunny warm winter day a couple of weeks ago, I took a drive around town looking for some animals to photograph with the digital, and I hit the bovine jackpot at a nearby dairy farm. Rows of dairy cows lined up to feed, right by the road. Those cows were certainly giving me the hairy eyeball as I parked and started shooting away. Some of them actually posed rather demurely. Needless to say, I now have endless fodder for a series of cow paintings. Pardon the pun.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
It's been a productive day in the studio. A new painting was started and is well on it's way, and several works in progress have, well, made progress. The finishing touches went on a couple of things. One painting I thought was finished, and it already had a coat of matte varnish, and was ready to scan. Sometimes it isn't until it's up on my computer screen at 300 dpi, that I realize that something just isn't right. So it was back to the easel with that one, just for a minor touchup, and now it will have to dry and be varnished all over again. The work isn't really over when the painting is finished. There is the drying time, during which it can look patchy and ugly until the final varnish is applied. Then after the varnish is dry, the painting must be documented, which used to mean waiting until several works were finished, then loading a slide film into the camera and setting up the tripod and the lights, and doing a full photo shoot. Nowadays, everything just gets scanned, at full resolution, then a duplicate is saved at a lower resolution for the website. The next step is framing, if the piece requires it, or sending the work off to have professional prints made. It can be months after the painting is finished that it can actually hang on the wall of a gallery.
Speaking of finishing things, I'll post the finished version of the Coach and Four watercolor. I kept this one light and loose.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
The driveway is icy, the paddock is filled with snow on top of mud. Yet, I like this time in January, when there aren't a whole lot of things going on. I can finally settle down and focus on some work. Painting is progressing much more slowly this winter than usual. I think my new camera is stealing a lot of my time. I take a few pictures, I download them, I fiddle with them. All this time could be spent at the easel...but there will be time for that too.
I have a show to get ready for in March. Still far enough away to feel that I could perhaps have a new painting or two to exhibit. Yet I don't want to leave too much for the last minute. I'm trying to think about driving, carriage driving in particular. The show in question is the Driving Forum, a conference for carriage driving enthusiasts. I haven't been to a driving event in quite a while, so I'm going back through old packets of photos taken at the World Pair Driving Championships, Coaching Weekends in Newport, or other carriage shows. I've found a few promising reference shots, but it's hard to get excited when they aren't fresh and new. The challenge lies in going through the photos with new eyes, looking for something I didn't see in them before. The four-in-hand coaches in Newport provide plenty of painting fodder, Now to just sit down and draw all that harness and carriage paraphernalia. It's not just four horses--it's sixteen legs, four wheels, traces, buckles, collars, reins, and seven or eight people with top hats and lap robes! The image attached is of a work in progress, no background yet--it's a small watercolor, about 8 inches long. This size really helps cut down on the amount of detail I need to portray. The horses need to be darkened up a bit, still, and the background is just going to be a suggestion of the grand old trees on the Newport estate.