Thursday, February 26, 2009

Still employed, thank goodness for lunch...

It looks like I've survived the latest round of layoffs at my job, but 100 of my co-workers didn't, about 20% of the company. I don't know how it's going to go once the dust settles, but I wish everyone who was let go a more interesting future than they would have gotten if they had stayed.

I guess I'm relieved. Money is good to have. Time is better. Money plus time would be the best, but hard to arrange.

So I'm still coming into Providence every day, and still get a lunch hour. I took advantage of it today to mail off a couple of applications for national park residencies and take in RISD's faculty biennial.

I enjoyed the biennial more than previous ones I've been to. The work seemed more interesting, not as sterile or contrived. The extra space is really luxurious too, now that the Chihuly show is down and the full extent of it is visible.

I was immediately taken with a painting by Todd Moore "I Rest on the Way to Church Point". It's a large painting and loses something in the photo, but when you see it in person the space is kind of skewed, the big rock at the top seems to move forward, giving the boulders weight and presence. It has a gritty feel that reminds me of the feel of stones crunching under my feet as I walk the shoreline.

Another piece which I found intriguing was John Supancic's photo of the Johnston Landfill. I recognized his name on the label because he's been a stringer at a few newspapers I've worked at and was also my (excellent) wedding photographer. So I was surprised to see what looked like a painting next to the label. On closer inspection I could see some photographic details, but thought for sure he had overpainted the image. I looked even closer at the "brushstrokes" and was surprised to see that they were actually bulldozer tracks. It's more obviously a photo when it's reduced to the size you see here, but at actual size (about 30"x34") it's beautifully brushy and expressive.

I also liked a video by Dennis Hlynsky that showed birds in on wires and in flight, with motion trails that looked like charcoal drawings.

It's up until March 13 and worth a look.

Friday, February 20, 2009

This bad economy is really getting on my nerves

Vacated cubicles. This is what I'm surrounded by in my day job. Thank goodness for the motivation posters all over the walls — FOCUS • PERSEVERANCE • OPPORTUNITY • PASSION • TEAMWORK • QUALITY • EFFORT — otherwise it could be quite the downer. But whenever I feel depressed, all I have to do is look up and read "The Difference Between A Successful Person And Others Is Not A Lack Of Strength, Or A Lack Of Knowledge, But Rather A Lack Of Will." What a nugget of wisdom. I suppose Lack Of Will is why many more layoffs are about to be announced, probably today. As a result no one can concentrate, since we may be unemployed next week, or almost as bad, we will probably lose co-workers we depend on for their skills and help in keeping us sane.

I'm not saying I wouldn't desperately like to escape from the cubicle life and spend all my time in my studio, but this escape would be at the expense of food, shelter, health care and travel. I would just end up having to get another day job, and there's not much out there. But who know, it could be the best thing that could happen to me in the long run, maybe it would lead to more interesting things. After all, these cubicles are often suffocating.

There's a great selection of much more realistic "motivational posters" at They're sad but true!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stinky signs of spring

Even though it's only mid February, we've had unseasonably warm temperatures for the last two days, melting the thick snow cover. I took advantage of it by taking a walk through the Warren salt marshes in search of a sign of spring. The marshes were monocromatic brownish-grey, wet and icy. I did not doubt I would find a glimpse of green though, because I know where to find the skunk cabbage. Sure enough, it was spiraling up through the frozen ground and cold ice water.

When we were children all we appreciated about the plant was the fun it was daring each other to kick one open and release the stink, but Craig Holdrege has written an excellent exploration of the noble qualities of the skunk cabbage. I don't know if it's especially early this year, but I'm afraid my anticipation of spring may be...I have to remind myself that we still can have plenty of snow, ice and freezing temperatures ahead. But I don't think it's my imagination that the birds are beginning to sing more cheerfully, and I heard the Mourning Doves cooing...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Here's my final drawing from my drawing class at the Natural History Museum. This is a Great Horned Owl. It's really fun drawing them, I'll have to see if the RISD nature lab has any and try to get over there to draw them on my lunch break. I'm also going on an Owl Prowl at the Fisherville Brook Wildlife Refuge to try to see the non-taxidermied versions.

I have a vague idea of a possible series....wildlife at night, what's moving about when we're asleep. After all, bats would be pretty cool to paint too.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Goodby old friend...

Today I did my part towards the economic recovery by buying a new pickup truck. My old '89 Toyota has been a very loyal art-transportation-vehicle for 20 years, so it's with a little bit of sadness that I part with it. With a cap on the back, it was the perfect "box" to transport paintings up to about 4x6 feet, and has been very handy when I stop by the lumberyard to buy molding for framing or stretchers.

I loved the simplicity of it too, but it was getting pretty creaky, was starting to visit the shop every few months, and the rust is crawling up the side panels. Since it's a good time to buy a car I decided to replace it with a 2009 version, a Toyota Tacoma, as stripped down and simple as possible.

It's been 20 years since I was in an automobile showroom but that part sure hasn't changed much. What has changed is having the internet as a research tool. I really didn't have many questions after I used the internet to "build" my truck, it was just a matter of finding out who had the truck I wanted at the best price. So it went much more quickly than I thought it would, and I'm going to pick it up tonight. I'm not sure I'm psychologically ready to part with old faithful, but the 89 truck goes to my niece to commute to school and carry her acoustic bass. So it's not being abandoned, it's just changing art forms!

Here's a picture of it when it, and I, was young....

And now, showing its age... (notice I'm not in this picture)

Goodby 1989! Thanks for getting me and my work where I needed to go!
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