Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Woodstock Cows"
oil on canvas, 11 x 14 in.

"Flash Noseband"
oil on gallery wrap canvas, 12 x 16 in.

I would see these cows in the late afternoon light on the picturesque country road that leads to the kennel, where Cheerio was "studying" agility. One day, I finally remembered to take my camera along, and stopped at the side of the road to capture the luminous late afternoon light in late summer. (Despite my son's protests--"Mom! This is so booooring!") He really wanted to get to agility class.
A few weeks later the cows were gone. I was glad that I had taken a moment of time to capture them on film, and then on canvas. Someone appreciated their beauty long enough to paint them.

"Flash Noseband" is one of a continuing series of close-up studies of horses in light and shadow. This guy was waiting his turn at a jumping event, and the late summer sun was sculpting his face beautifully. There was a lot of reflected light from the ground, as the dry summer had parched the grass to a warm yellow, and his blaze ended in a glowing pink on his muzzle.

This afternoon, I trudged around the pasture where I let the horses out to play in 10 inches of snow that fell the other day. The camera may have captured some interesting winter light, so perhaps this will be the next painting. I am working larger--on a 30 x 40 canvas, currently, and can't wait to do more of these big, bold paintings.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Halter Class
linoleum block print
6 x 8 in.

I have finished the linoleum block print, and I'm looking forward to doing more of these. This one had five colors that had to match up, and I'm pleased that I was able to register the colors successfully. The neat thing about these block prints is that each one is slightly different in the edition of 15. I started out with an edition of 16, but forgot one print when I was printing the brown, and I had already cleaned up the ink when I realized it.

This weekend is my open studio, and I've spent the day frantically cleaning and organizing the studio. Anyone in the area is welcome to stop by. I have lots of work on view, having just gotten a load of work back from a gallery on Martha's Vineyard. It's kind of fun arranging everything and making labels. There are original paintings, prints, cards, rubber stamps, and posters--something for everyone.

Last weekend was spent on a much needed getaway in Vermont. Woodstock, to be exact. We explored Quechee Gorge and some of the surrounding area, and even though the foliage is gone, it was a beautiful sunny weekend to roam around. There were no tourist crowds, being between the foliage and the ski seasons. We visited Billings Farm, a restored dairy farm with an 1890's farm manager's house and a herd of beautiful Jersey cows. We rode around the farm in a wagon pulled by two dappled grey Percherons.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Cat and the Mouse

oil on canvas board
8 x 10 in.


A little sadness around here--We had to have a little pet funeral last week. Gadget, a fancy mouse that we've had for nearly two years, passed away last weekend after a full and joyful life of running on her wheel and jumping around her cage.
Seriously, she was a neat little pet, quite active and entertaining. She had an overturned plastic flowerpot with a little door cut in the side. She would fill it up with the bedding and make herself a cozy nest inside. She would leap from the top of the flowerpot to the top of the cage, inverting herself and clinging with all four feet to the screen.
She ate mouse food pellets, mostly, with occasional sunflower seeds or almonds, or a bit of banana for a treat. She didn't get handled much, but she would sometimes climb onto your hand, and chomp her sharp little teeth into your finger.
We think she had a dark side, as the first four companion mice she had (Gizmo 1, Gizmo 2, Gizmo 3, and Gizmo 4) mysteriously died in short order. We finally gave up getting her companions--she apparently preferred to live alone.

In the studio this week, I have been working on a multi-color linoleum block print. Something posessed me to attempt a block print recently, and I can't just do a simple one-color print, I had to do a five color print! Three colors are now printed, the registration of the colors seems to be working out, and I just have to deal with my impatience of letting each color dry completely before printing the next color. I'm not used to creating art that is such a multi-step process. I guess I needed a little break from my traditional media.

The other item completed recently is this little oil of Pixel. I couldn't resist the expression on his face, his "Come hither" look.

Now I need to finish up the lino block printing so I can clean up the studio to get ready for my Open Studio on Thanksgiving weekend. Lots of work to do!

Monday, October 22, 2007

I seem to have folks interested in Cheerio lately, so I thought I'd give an update. Cheerio has started learning Agility, which she loves! She's had six weeks of classes so far, and has been introduced to most of the equipment. She seems to be a natural at this, and it is so neat to see her picking things up so quickly. Being almost a year old now, she's being a typical adolescent dog with sort of a Jekyll and Hyde personality. One week she's well behaved, the next she's not. The amazing thing is that even when she's having a bad week, behavior-wise, I can still take her off the leash to work on the equipment, and she stays focused on me and does what she is supposed to do. She just has the patience of a toddler when it comes to waiting her turn, and listening to the trainer's instructions. She is the kind of dog that pretty much has to be doing something all of the time. (Kind of like her Mom!)
Since Halloween is coming, it is time to work on costumes and tonight I dug out the sewing machine and went to work on Cheerio's Underdog costume. Okay--I know she's not a beagle, but it's a COSTUME. Her favorite seven-year old boy is going to be Simon Barsinister, not as easy as the ghost costume that I thought we were going to make. Finding a kid-size lab coat is not easy either, so I finally ordered one online and I am praying that it comes in time for Halloween.
Art-wise, I am getting ready for 3 more shows this season, the New Haven Arts and Crafts show on Nov. 11, an Open Studio at home on Thanksgiving weekend, and then the RISD Alumni Holiday Sale on Dec. 8.
Lately the foliage around here has been just spectacular. My drive to work takes my breath away. So last Thursday, Cheerio and I braved the ticks, and went out into the woods to shoot some pictures. I wish I could sit outside and paint, but I'm just not a plein-air painter. Anyway, later that day, I downloaded my photos and worked up a couple of watercolors. This one is a scene of a clearing in our back woods. Sometimes I just have to get away from painting horses, and working on landscapes like this can be good for loosening up.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Seed Table

This is a little off topic, but the story of the week is the Seed Table. This is actually our coffee table, at least what it looks like when it isn't covered by books and newspapers, coffee mugs, etc...
The table came about around 9 years ago, shortly after being married, and still childless when we had time to pursue this kind of project. The idea was mine--a table with compartments under the glass to hold seeds--and my husband designed and built the table, using a piece of circular plate glass that we already had hanging around. The process of collecting seeds was fun. I used excess seeds from vegetable packets that hadn't been planted, grass seed, bird seed, thistle, sunflower. I collected seeds from the flower garden--Siberian Iris, Daylily, Cleome, Marigold. We scoured the kitchen cupboards for things like sesame seeds and poppy seeds and tiny celery seed. One evening we sat sorting all the beans from a bag of bean soup mix, coming up with a colorful assortment of new additions to the table. After a friends saw the table, I received at work one day a mysterious inter-office envelope containing a zip-lock bag of red lentils. They gave a nice shot of color to the table. Apple seeds, grapefruit seeds, tangerines--no fruit was eaten without sorting out the seeds and washing and drying them for the table.
When we moved, the table went with us, legs carefully removed, and the table was tipped just enought to fit through the doorway and transported flat in the back of the station wagon.
Alas, nine years later, insects finally found the seeds. We discovered an infestation in the yellow lentils and the ryegrass seed. The table had to be cleaned out and debugged. I didn't plan on spending my vacation week cleaning out the seed table. With small dixie cups and spoons, we salvaged the seeds that didn't seem to be infested, vacumned out the squares and sprayed the whole thing. Seeds were returned to the table, but now many squares remain empty, waiting for new discoveries of seeds. I went on a seed hunt in the gardens and came up with dill, daylily, and more cleome. Later I discovered the morning glories going to seed and collected enough to fill a square. There are still available slots--Carol, if you happen to have any more of those red lentils....

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Red Rope Halter"
20 x 20 oil on gallerywrap canvas

I am off to the Vineyard this weekend for an opening for a new show of horse paintings. The opening reception is July 21st, 7 - 9 pm at ABoDE gallery, on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. Red Rope Halter will be one of the featured paintings, along with some of the other works I have featured on this blog lately, Dressage Face, Star Gaze, and Pony Lineup. Fourteen new pieces in all, including a dog and a couple of cats!
Red Rope Halter is just one of those paintings that was begging to be done. I had a shot of this horse in the paddock at Saratoga, and his wide-eyed expression, and the afternoon sunlight on his face was just compelling me to paint him. It took me a while to arrive at this composition. Originally I wanted to show more of him, in a more rectangular format. But when I pulled back from his face, so to speak, it just wasn't as interesting. When you stand in front of this canvas, I want this horse to be invading your space! And there is enough hidden information that you can't really tell if this horse is moving forward into your personal space, or backing away from you. The red rope halter is what really makes the piece work for me--just a nice shot of color framing this guy's face.
The easel has been quiet lately, since finishing up the last of the paintings for the show, all the work has been in packing and shipping art--not my favorite task, but it is always exciting to send new work out of the studio to be viewed for the first time. July is too humid to paint anyway...and until I can get a larger AC unit in the studio, I can't really get it comfortable enough to work on hot days. Not that I wish summer was over yet though. I'm enjoying these dog days--poking around the yard and discovering the ripe raspberries and checking on the blackberry patch every day, waiting for them to ripen. Cheerio, my 8 month old English Shepherd, is maturing and mellowing, not as energetic in the heat. She's growing into a marvelous family dog. We've started Obedience II, where we are beginning to really work on the heel and the longer down-stays, and this dog is a star in her class. I don't feel that it's anything I've done--she's just been so easy to train.
I'm looking forward to competing with her eventually, in Obedience trials or Rally Obedience. Perhaps I'll even try Agility.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Star Gaze
oil on canvas
20 x 20 in.

Here is my mare again, but not exactly--I added the star. Unique just has a sprinkling of white hairs on her face, and I wanted more of a focal point on this piece, and a shape to break up all of that red. This piece came about rather quickly...two weeks ago I had to cancel a photo shoot for a commission because it was too overcast to get a good shot of the subject horse. But later that morning, the clouds broke up a little, and I took my camera out to my own horse paddock, and snapped a couple of shots of my mare looking at me from behind the swayed back of the Quarterhorse gelding. I didn't realize what I had until I downloaded the pictures and saw the glowing light in her eyes and the intensity of her gaze. I zeroed in on her eyes and forehead for the square composition, and chose a complimentary soft greenish blue for a background color. This painting went faster than usual--but there wasn't a lot of fussy bridlework, just clean, simple color. The only thing I needed to fuss over were the forelock hairs.
This is on a thick gallerywrap canvas--my support of choice lately, and like the Dressage Face, the image continues around the edges. I still need to paint the bottom--always the last thing finished, so I can't even say this one is off the easel yet.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Dressage Face"

Okay, so it's been a while since I've posted. I had a bit of a hiatus from painting this spring to work on some freelance projects, but now a batch of canvases are in the finishing stages, and one of them is this 6" x 36" vertical of a dressage competitor.
I am loving these long narrow formats--though this is a bit extreme and the format is quite a challenge to composition. This is the second of this format that I have attempted. The first one was "Close Up" an image of my own horse looking at me, and I loved the way it fit on a narrow wall in our kitchen. However, "Close Up" has gone to a new home--I can't keep every painting of my own horse--and I decided to tackle another one. This is on a 1.25" deep gallerywrap canvas, and the horse image continues around the edges. I just loved his big pink nose and inquisitive look. And the hazy humid summer morning gave a soft light to the background.
There are other horse paintings in the works, and my mare, Unique will be appearing on a 20 x 20 in. square canvas soon. But the printer needs a light magenta ink cartridge, the toned canvas needs to dry a little, and all my eagerness to start something new has been twarted by these little snags.
I will post other new paintings soon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

It has been a while since I have been able to post--I'm too busy puppy training and working, working, working. I spent a lovely weekend at the Driving Forum, a conference and trade show for the carriage driving enthusiasts. It was a pleasant weekend and a lovely group of people to meet. Of course, I came home from this show wanting to drive. Same thing happened last year, but the farthest I've gotten is to put some long-lines on my horse and start ground-driving her. It's a good way to exercise both of us at the same time! However the horse hasn't seen any long-lines since earlier in January, just before we acquired the puppy, which happened to coincide with the weather taking a wintry turn. Since then, the yard has been covered with packed ice--it did finally mostly melt last week just in time to get another load of sleet dumped on it.
Our trails are inaccessible. And if I might just take the opportunity to vent--I am sick of boots, hats, gloves, and heavy sweaters.
Thank-goodness there is basketball to keep us entertained during these gloomy late winter days.
As for painting--the canvas is calling me, but I cannot answer it just yet. I am tied up with illustration work for the next few weeks. And birthdays, and appointments, etc... Can't we just add an eighth day to the week?


Monday, January 22, 2007

This has been puppy week in our household. We've been totally taken in by our new English Shepherd puppy, Cheerio. She has become my new muse. A lovely tri-color, everyone who meets her thinks she is a Bernese Mountain Dog. But thank-goodness she will grow to be only about half the size! Sweet and laid-back, she is learning to become a studio dog. However, the mountainous stairs in the studio have her a little on edge. I've been painting dogs, and cats this week, working on a theme here. I'm finishing up a few driving horse pieces, and have several new canvases toned and ready to paint. But for now, puppy needs a walk!