Tuesday, October 16, 2007

California Dreaming

We've landed! After a summer of uncertainty, a month of house renovations and goodbyes and sorting and packing and wrapping up all the things we needed to wrap up after 14 years of living in Virginia, after all that... we have finally arrived on the sunny shores of California. Well, to be honest, we've arrived just in time for the rainy season, otherwise known as winter. I won't go into the details of all the things that I'm thinking about and adjusting to and exploring. I will mention that I am slowly digging out from the boxes and have found most of my painting supplies. I just need to track down my glass palette, but that is easily replaced by a trip downtown if I need to.
So, I'm not quite ready to paint yet. I'm busy with the mundane logistics of making such a big move and am nowhere near the semblance of a routine yet. I also do not have Ben in a school yet, so I have a constant companion.
I have to say, though, that this place is gorgeous. I'm taking it all in, just getting to know it and absorbing it all. There's the mountains, the trees, the ocean, the vineyards, the chickens, and the beautiful fog and mist that come with the rainy season. Our house is in a remote location, but is in such a beautiful setting. I'll post a pic of my new studio set-up, when I get it set up.
Here's a warm-up of what I've loved so far....
This is the view from the house- seen from the kitchen window, living room, Skyler's room, and the outdoor hot-tub. In the distance is the Monterey Bay.

Morning at our house

Redwood trees! On the property no less!

This is a view of the driveway. Again, very private and remote... gorgeous trees.


Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Art Party!

We hosted a final potluck party at our house. The theme was "Bring some food, take our stuff" Mostly we were pushing plants on people, as we can't move them across country. I had sorted through all of my available artwork, and put them out for friends to look through. I even had a significant Freebie pile, as there were a number of things that I was happy to move along (drawings, etc.). I'm happy to report that my friends were generous and dramatically reduced my studio inventory. I managed to get some snapshots of friends with their acquisitions... but I didn't get everyone. I was curious what people chose for themselves, as art is such a personal thing. Here are some of the paintings going to their new homes....

First up, Luke, Rachel, and Helenor and their selections


Here is Francisca and Marc posing with their collection


Kendra's selections from the Free-To-a Good-Home pile


and here's Kendra, architect extrordinaire!


Marlene with one of her selections


A visit from Ron & Keith! They brought some art back to Baltimore with them


What can I say about Marc? We can just be glad that he kept his clothes on.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Some more of the new stuff

Ok, I thought I'd get more images up of some of the more recent paintings, before this site becomes dedicated to all that is old and dusty.
These two are more from that series of small paintings. They're 4" square and painted on wood.
Summer Tree

Trees, Over Charlottesville

Friday, August 24, 2007

45 mph couch potato

I know, I KNOW, I said I'd be posting images of available art. Maybe a little later tonight. I've been busy with about 2 million things going on today. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to get my 80 lb dog across the country safely.

He's 9 years old, sleeps all day, and is my boy. I'm a bit offended by the rental places that we've looked at online that have not allowed pets. I'm like "come on! It's SOPRANO! He's not a dog. He's furniture." Truthfully, he doesn't act like a dog. He doesn't bark, jump on you, drool, act hyper, or any of those other typical dog things. Well, most greyhounds don't do this stuff either. They can be goofballs, but they are amazingly sweet.
So, how to move my dog? I've looked at the airline option. I am not crazy about the airline option. I am leaning toward a service that actually drives the dog across country. Seriously.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The cleansing begins

Here comes the true crunch time of moving. It's been only a week since we got word that we're going across the country, and we've been moving in high gear since then. We're sorting through all of our belongings, and getting the house ready to put on the market. We're cleaning up and photographing each room to put on a spiffy web-page. We have to do this one room at time, because there's no way that my kid's rooms always look anything like this on a daily basis:

Looking at this, it's hard to believe that we are still living here...

Oh look! A stairwell! There's no clutter or cleanup project going on here, so it was safe to photograph.

The rest of the house is looking a little more like this.

Kidding. This is my packed up studio. This next one is the aerial view of my studio & sunroom. I love this view. This was taken from the ladder in my loft that goes up to the attic.

By the way, there was a lot more art in the attic. Lots. And almost all of it I don't want to bring with me. So, if anyone is interested in some seriously discounted art, please swing by soon. Invite yourselves, I beg of you.
I shall post some more pics throughout the weekend showcasing some of these found treasures.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Stepping Stones



Japanese Garden- Maymont Park; Richmond, VA

Well, things are finally in motion. After a summer of being in limbo, we now have a plan. We're moving about 3,000 miles away, from Virginia to California. We've been in Virginia 14 years, coming here for graduate schools, then staying for work and starting our family. Doug and I were living in Maine before this, while I went to art school. At least we've had the good sense to land in very beautiful areas, considering what I like to paint.

Leaving this area is bittersweet. It feels strange to get my house ready for someone else to live in, especially when I feel that I wasn't quite done with it yet. It feels strange to say goodbye to friends, whom I hope will come visit us in our new fabulous location. My head is swimming with all the little and big things to be done in the next month (yes! we're leaving next month!) I spent the last 2 days packing up my studio. My paints, brushes and palette are still out... just in case I get a spare moment so that I can do. just. one. more. painting. I have a growing pile of art to give away to friends who stop by. Lots of small oil sketches on paper, old student work, studies, drawings. I'll try to remember to photograph them tomorrow. I love seeing what people choose for themselves out of my pile of give-aways. My babysitter chose two small quiet ones for herself last night.

We're in the middle of serious purging right now. Give-aways, Craigslist (my frog found a home through Craigslist!), and trips to the Goodwill dropoff. It feels good to edit our stuff.

I'm really looking forward to setting up a space out on the West Coast. I'm sure my paintings will change... though it might take a while for me to slow down enough to really take in my surroundings.

If any of you know any painter types out West, specifically the Los Gatos, Silicone Valley, San Francisco area, drop me a note. I'll need some art buddies out there to show me where the good painting spots are. Thanks!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Winter Trees





Whenever we get an ice storm here, I head to the garden. There's this group of pine trees who's branches get all weighed down by the ice. It sort of creates a cave-like impression, and when the light is right, it's downright magical.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

bye bye birdy



This is the painting that was ultimately chosen for the trade for our Warm Springs stay. This painting left the studio yesterday, along with a small painting of birds on a wire that I had had for some time. If you've ever stayed in our guest room, you might notice it missing. I don't have an online-ready image to show you, unfortunately.

I loved doing this trade, and the folks who let us stay in their home in exchange for some art seemed happy with the exchange as well.

So, does anyone have a lovely home in, say, Hawaii that we could come visit? I'm happy to paint for my keep.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Return from vacation

We're back from an extended road trip up through New England. The short version: a canceled flight, 2 unexpected days of driving with the kids, visiting my family in Vermont, a country fair, a day in Montpelier, a Renaissance festival, a ferry ride to Martha's Vineyard, a private beach, another drive to Pennsylvania, visits with D's family, seeing my sister in law who looks fabulous with her first pregnancy, and that last drive home... deciding to bypass Ikea and vowing off fast food for a good long time.

Here's me and my daughter on the ferry out to the Vineyard. It looks like I'm praying to my coffee.


Another peaceful moment. I think this was in our Vermont hotel.


Ben is doing the happy marshmallow dance.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blue Sky



This painting is of trees seen from my daughter's window. Specifically, trees seen in silhouette, at twilight. One night this past winter, she was up with a very high fever. I had come in to her room to check on her, expecting her to be asleep. Instead, she lay there, eyes bright with her fever, exhausted, just gazing out at those trees. She started talking about those trees, how she could see birds, and squirrels and shapes out there... wondering if there were fairies.

I decided to make her a painting of "her" trees. For me it encompasses lots of things: parenting, keeping vigil with a sick child, being in that quiet moment to just enjoy beauty, plus the wonder of a child's imagination & wonder (fairies, magic). So, I made her a painting to keep, and I also made this smaller version, to share.

My daughter's name is Skyler, so I call this Blue Sky.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wedding Field


Last fall my sister in law got married at a beautfiul inn/sheep farm, up in Pennsylvania. This was the view of one of the fields.

This is part of the series of paintings that measures 4"x4", oil on panel

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Stand of Trees


About this painting: This was the view of the trees seen from my studio. Morning light, sort of golden, leaves still on the ground, and the buds just coming out on the trees.

This is oil on panel, measuring 4"x4"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Warm Springs, VA



This is one of the completed paintings from our trip to Warm Springs. We had hiked along this river (I need to find out the name of it). The water was amazingly clear, and blue.

This is oil on canvas. The painting measures 6"x12"

Monday, July 9, 2007

James River-green



James River- this view is from a trail down by James River High School, in the park.

This painting measures 4"x4", and is oil on birch panel

Saturday, July 7, 2007

James River- blue



James River

I'm finally getting around to posting the next round of small paintings that I've been working on this summer.

This one measures 4"x4" and is on birch panel.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Summertime, and the living's crazy



The past couple of weeks have been a bit of an upheaval around here. Just to recap:

*my children are home from school. Full time. I have not signed them up for any camps, programs, lessons or anything structured, mainly because they haven't really expressed a desire to go do these things. Instead we'll have the pool, fireflies, field trips, farmer's markets, library, playgrounds and playdates.
*Immediately after Miss S. finished her last day of kindergarten, we took off to the Outer Banks for the week. Now we're home and trying to find some semblance of a routine. The beach was great, by the way. We took the boat of course.



* my studio, which is on a 2nd floor loft in our sunroom, gets amazingly hot by noon. Hot enough to melt crayons. Hot enough to make me cranky while painting and lose my focus enough to ruin a good morning's work. Hot enough that I finally just set up a table downstairs, where it is at least 15 degrees cooler.


The dog seems to like my new studio location.


But, still, I'm managing to carve out painting time. Negotiating with D. so that he can get writing time, I can paint. This morning he's taking the kids on an excursion to Chuck E. Cheese, which is my own personal hell, so I'm grateful that he's taking the hit.

Through the mayhem of summer, I'm painting.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Cville, revisited

I've been working on a restoration this week.

This painting came back to me with some scratches on the surface. Apparently it got damaged en route to the frame shop. This painting was done in 2000, so I had to guess which painting medium I was using then (to match the finish) as well as mix up the colors to match.


And a closeup of the offending gouge:


It's all patched up now, and is sporting a lovely new allover varnish to give it some extra durability.

It was nice to see this painting again, and to see it framed up so nicely. This painting was based on a field I found near where we used to live in Charlottesville.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It seems that it's time to give an update on what I'm actually doing in the studio. Lately it seems that I've been finishing up paintings that I've started. I tend to start a round of paintings, between 3-6 pieces. I go back and forth between them for a few weeks until I just start finishing them up. This is one of those periods. I want to keep starting new pieces, but I do need some closure on the ones I've begun. I can't let too much time pass, or else I lose some momentum.

These are some of the Warm Springs paintings that I'm currently working on... in various stages of completion:



And these are close to being done. They are 4"x4" panels. I'll scan them in and post them in their final state soon.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

I wanted to share with you all a link to Doug's photos from our weekend getaway. These were mostly done with a Rolleiflex camera, though there may be a Holga or two in there.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/douglawson/sets/72157600286709359/show/

I think he needs to set up a whole site devoted to his lovely Holgas so that we can enjoy them in there entirety.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

After what has seemed like a week of distractions, I've finally started some paintings based on our trip to Bath County. While we were there hiking around by rivers and such, I got fixated on the idea of using a wax medium to make this series of paintings. With painting, I love playing around with different mediums and surfaces. I know this sounds somewhat experimental, but what I mean to say is that I will immerse myself in a medium for some time, getting to know it's nuances. I've been painting with a mixture that's allowed me to paint fairly thinly and fluidly. The wax, as I've rediscovered, behaves in a totally different way. It's thick, builds up more quickly on a surface, and dries very fast. It doesn't totally dry for a while, so within several days I can go back into the painting, building it up and coaxing it toward something complete. I love what it does with the paint, as the colors remain luminous and clear, but layers underneath show through. For me, it's playing with those layers of color as well as getting a surface that I love.
I was trying to remember the last time I painted with wax. I'm thinking it was when I was doing my thesis show at VCU. I was painting bees then. I miss the bees. I don't have a single bee painting left from that time, so I might just have to paint a bee or two just to have at home. It's feeling more like summer here, and of course we have our share of wildlife and bees and nature around our place. My daughter has started her own dead insect collection... mostly little bees lined up on her bookshelf in her room. She has had a long passion for bugs, and says she may be an entomologist when she grows up. I may paint a bee or two this summer in the spirit of collaboration with my six year old.

I'll leave you with some images of the bee paintings in which I used wax as a medium. Sorry that this is "old" work. The new ones are too new and fresh and in progress to share quite yet.



Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The working weekend in the mountains was really great. We had gone out to Bath Co., VA to explore and stay at a friend's cabin. The house was wonderful. Private, great views, spacious, well-stocked, with lots of thoughtful and artistic details. It even had a secret staircase behind a bookshelf which led to a crow's nest. The kids, of course, slept in this spot. The first day was a bit rainy, so we drove around a lot and took lots of pictures of beautiful vistas. I set up my easel and did a few oil sketches from some of the views from the house.


The second day was a bit more productive, in terms of gathering information. We went on a great hike by a river, complete with picnic. We discovered that Bath County is really beautiful. Some fun facts: 89% of it is covered in forest. Something like 50% of it is owned by the US Forest Service. It also has the most water of any county in Virginia, with lots of rivers, streams and lakes. I felt like I've just tapped into the surface of what's there. I got a ton of photos to work from, but I may just need to go back to get more.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Weekend update

I'm about to take off for a working weekend in the mountains. I'm excited about a trade I'm doing. I'm taking my family to a beautiful cabin, with terrific views, for a long weekend. I'll be busy gathering new resource material for my paintings. I'll be hiking, driving, etc. and photographing whatever catches my eye. I'll also be doing some plein air studies, gathering visual information to take back to the studio with me. In exchange, the folks who own said cabin will get first pick of the paintings that come out of this body of work. It makes me happy, and hopefully it'll make them happy when all is said and done. This trip comes at a perfect time, as I've been gathering momentum in my work and looking for things to paint.

The idea of trading artwork for a place to stay is not new. When I was an undergrad in art school, one of my professors had started a nice little gig for herself where she would stay in these fabulous places and make paintings, all in trade. She's been doing this now for a good many years, and you can see what has come out of it here:
http://www.conniehayes.com/borrowedviews.html
I love this woman's work. I was lucky to have her as a professor for 2 years, and also am lucky enough to have one of her paintings. It was a wedding gift from my best friends.

So, I'm off to make art. This is a photo of my garage last weekend. I was priming and sanding maple panels, preparing them for painting:






And this is a work in progress.