Saturday, August 30, 2008

Playing at politics and pollocks

I've been paying too much attention to this important presidential contest this week to do much but paint and listen to the radio, but here's a picture from the studio...
And if you've had enough of politics, try some pollocks!
Hint, click to change color...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The mysterious D.W. Britt

Going to the Tamsky gallery a few weeks ago started me thinking about a painting I bought in an antique store in Bristol many years ago. I don't really collect art, which I know is hypocritical of me, but I guess it's because my walls have always been full of paintings, even if they are my own. Something about this portrait really got to me though. I love the look of intensity on the woman's face, the saturated red color, and the way the space is broken up. I imagine she is working in an art school in the forties, but I really don't know. I also get a kick out of her accessories. The handful of brushes, the lit cigarette and pack outlined in her blouse pocket, the red lipstick and turban, and her engagement ring. The signature says D.W. Britt, and the canvas is signed in pencil on the back and on the stretchers, another clue that it was done in school (in defense against arts school stretcher thieves, I fell victim myself a few times). I haven't been able to find out anything about the artist, and whether it's a self portrait or done by a rebellious classmate who chose to ignore the still life assignment and paint something really interesting. The shop didn't know either, but they were very sorry to see the painting go!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Flashback to Mesa Verde

Here's a video of me during my artist residency at Mesa Verde National Park. It's a bit goofy, but gives an idea of the feeling of wandering through the ruins alone. That is, alone except for my filmmaker husband John, who took the footage.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The wonderful 80's

I was going through some old images on my computer and came across this one of me in my studio in Providence circa 1987. I'm amazed at how small the little attic room looks now, lit with only a small window and the lightbulb on a stand you can see on the left. I did some of my biggest paintings in that studio, you can see the finished painting behind the one on the easel here. As sparse as my lifestyle was in those days, I'd love to go back in time sometimes....

Monday, August 18, 2008

Getting the lead out

In previous posts I've been writing about how I'm trying to make sure that I'm not disposing of any painting debris that would be harmful to the environment and the bay. I think I've been pretty successful in switching over to non-toxic paints and solvents, but I still have some paints to use up that contain lead and zinc oxide, so I've saved my rags and paint jars until I had a chance to take them to the "Eco-Depot", which travels to different locations in Rhode Island and collects just about anything that you are not supposed to throw in the trash. Saturday they were going to be in my city, so Friday I went to their website for details and found that I was supposed to have made an appointment a few days in advance. I put in my request anyway (a very simple process) a few hours later got an email which told me to come at 11:15 the next day. Of course, being Saturday morning I was trying to do too many chores at once, so was running about a half and hour late by the time I loaded up the truck with my trash cans, and threw in a few old batteries for good measure.

I was concerned that I would miss my appointment, but when I got there I found myself in a short line of cars waiting to check in. They didn't ask my name or check to see if I had an appointment, their only question was "what do you have?" "Oil paint, jars and rags" "Pull up over there". Two friendly men unloaded my truck, returned my empty cans and I was on my way in about a minute. I could have really just shown up without an appointment, but I think they schedule people just to keep the traffic moving. I was glad to see so many other people dropping off stuff, and a large crew of people sorting trash and directing it towards safe disposal. Here's a link to find out when they're coming to your town. They take old computer stuff too.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frames of mind

This week I started thinking seriously about framing for my show in November. I really would like to buy frames, but haven't seen any that would suit my paintings at a reasonable cost, so I may be back to making them myself again. I've come up with a simplified version of a very work-intensive frame I had originally planned for the oils, so I'm going to make a sample and if it works, I'll go that route.

I sorted my studies as well, most are on paper so I'll need to frame behind glass--boy do I hate that kind of framing. I'm lucky though, I had stocked up on some simple oak frames in all sizes that the RISD museum was "deaccessioning". They were selling them very cheaply, but they can still be called "museum quality frames"! I think I'll splurge and have the mats cut for me though. I've never mastered that skill, despite the acres of matboard that have gone under my knife.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lunch break

Today at lunch I went for a walk. Just a walk, no destination. It seems a simple concept, but I haven't done that in ages. I always feel I have to "accomplish something" on my precious hour break from my day job. But Providence was looking enchanting on this clear August day that felt more like September. I walked down Weybosset Street and felt as if I hadn't walked that street in years. It's amazing how you can miss changes that happen only a block from your usual path. There were a few new lunch places (One with free wi-fi) and a new hotel going up where St. Francis Chapel used to be. I crossed the river and walked along the east bank, it was low tide so I could see the bottom of the river, soft with silt and pollution, like the paint that settles at the bottom of my solvent jars. In shallow relief was a bicycle, probably stolen years ago and tossed in the river, now thickly coated in algae, mud and rust. It looked beautiful and mysterious through the 2 feet of river water and I wished I had my camera so I could post a picture. I may check for the next low tide and go back to take one. I continued down to Wickenden Street to poke around in the antique stores. Some of them have really interesting paintings on their walls, and Adam Tamsky Fine Art at 395 is a gallery that has some really cool paintings from the 30's through the 70's, a great collection of old frames too. I've really got to get out more....

I'm going to occasionally post an ad from some of the vintage art magazines I've collected. I love reading commentary on artists, who are now either famous or forgotten, from 50 or so years ago. I find the ads almost more fascinating, often humorous in retrospect and sometimes beautiful. This one, from ARTnews Annual of 1957 I'll file under beautiful.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I'm posting what I think is my latest finished painting from the Shoemaker series that I'm going to exhibit in November. I say "I think" because sometimes I decide a painting is finished and then it refuses to settle down and keep nagging from its corner of the studio. Yesterday I went back into a painting that I had considered finished months ago. It's always bugged me though, so it's actually a relief to paint out some sections and rethink them. It already looks better.

It's not every studio session that I dare to make decisions like that. Sometimes I have a whole day in the studio but my brain is not connecting to my work. Or the opposite happens. I'm really focused and connected, but other obligations pull me away from the studio, so I can just open the studio door and stand in front of my painting for a few minutes, car keys in hand...

I don't know what's more frustrating, but I think the former, since I feel like I should be able to just "snap out of it". It would be better on those days just to go for a bike ride or walk but studio days are so rare. . .

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Museums and cemeteries

From the road in Big Bend National Park.

I've been going through my photos from western Texas this week so I think I will post a couple of my favorites for the next few blogs.

The bizarre beast called the Javelina near the Window Trail in Big Bend.

A interesting part of traveling is always visiting art museums in other cities. We had an afternoon in El Paso before we flew back with not quite enough time to cross the bridge into Mexico, but had planned it so we stayed in a hotel right across the street from the El Paso Art Museum.
It was a little disappointing that we seemed to be the only visitors, despite free admission, but the entire downtown area was also deserted. July is considered "off season" in El Paso because of the heat. The collections were very interesting though, and it's a large and modern museum. I especially liked the Spanish Viceroyal Collection. This is the museum's description...
The Spanish Viceroyal Collection reflects the period of the Spanish Empire in the New World. The collections of 17th through 19th centuries include paintings on panel, canvas, copper and tin. Many of these works were used as devotional images and were created by artists such as: Nicolás Enríquez, Antonío de Torres, Francisco Martínez, and Juan Sánchez Salmerón. Many works from this collection are permanently displayed in the Roderick Gallery.
Mostly iconic religious themes, the work had a dark richness of color and brushwork that was complimented by over-the-top carved and mirrored frames that suited the work perfectly. I also liked a portrait by Tom Lea, especially the bottom half where the figure is played against the landscape.

The Art Binational 2008 Binacional de Arte, a joint exhibition with the Museo de Arte Ciudad Juarez was still on exhibit. All of the artists were from western Texas and Mexico, so it was interesting to see contemporary work from a different part of the country.

Another place I like to visit when traveling is cemeteries. There was a great one in the ghost town of Terlingua. It occurs to me that I might be looking for some of the same things in cemeteries I look for in the local art museums, they both contain an attempt to express and symbolize uncomprehensible and sometimes scary life experiences.

It feels more like fall today than the first week of August and it's tempting to tackle my neglected and overgrown gardens in this coolness. But my neighbors apparently have the same idea and the lawnmower duet is at full volume either side of my house. And now it's just become an trio, as the neighbor across the street has just fired up his mower. I think after this post I'll escape to the relative quiet of my studio...especially since a weed whacker was just added to this chorus...western Texas sure was quiet.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

July report

My studio calendar in July logged less x's than last month I think, meaning I was in the studio less. Most of that was due to spending 8 days in Texas and the preparation that goes with it. But I was in the studio till late last night, and now that I'm back, it's full steam ahead for my November show. Framing will be a big issue, I'd like to get some steel or iron frames made without spending too much. With about 14 medium to large paintings to frame, the cost could add up fast!

I'll post a report and some photos from my Texas trip soon. We had a great time--Western Texas and Big Bend National Park are absolutely beautiful.
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