Sunday, March 29, 2009

Art and taxes

To paraphrase a famous phrase, nothing is certain except art and taxes, and after a fairly good morning of the former, I have to deal with the latter tonight. Which is why I'm procrastinating by sitting in a coffee shop blogging...

I've almost finished compiling my year's receipts, and I'm shocked! shocked! to find I will take a loss again this year, despite having a one person show that I worked 3 years to put together. Usually my tax accountant encourages me to try and declare a profit, no matter how small, for about 3 out of 5 years, to keep the IRS from considering me a "hobbyist". But damn it, this year I'm going to take my loss proudly. With just about every other business crying about losses this year, I don't think I need to pretend I'm profitable. I don't even get the nice bonus checks that the big corporations, including the one I work for, give out to their (mis)managers.

Hmmm, I wonder if I can deduct the cost of the coffee I drink while blogging....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Owls with stuffing for souls

This is the final version of a drawing I started in the class I took at the Natural History Museum. I'm afraid my owls look rather doll-like. Screech owls are such little fluffy things that they must be hard to taxidermy without making them look like well loved stuffed animals. I'm working on another at the RISD Nature Lab, but I'm not sure I can get any more life out of him...I think I'll have to wait and see if I can spot any real live screech owls near the street lights this summer. But if I do decide to paint them at least this drawing is getting me familiar with their anatomy. Maybe I'll draw the owl skeleton they have in the Nature Lab next!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How to make a living as a painter...

...paint my house. The estimates I just got make me long for the days of run-down rental apartments with five roomates and a mattress on the floor.

My room in New Bedford while attending Swain School of Design

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Studying Mesa Verde

I've worked in my "winter studio" (a room in my home with heat) for the last few months on interactive acrylic paintings and drawings from my Mesa Verde residency. I'm very late this time in donating a painting to the park, but the exhibit I had in November left no time for other subjects. I will ship an oil painting off to Colorado before the 1 year deadline is up though, and before I head back out to Colorado and Great Dunes National Park in September.

It's really good though to revisit my impressions from the park, and I'm well along on a painting from the study above, as well as several others. I'm back in my garage studio, working in oils again and thinking about ochre and sage, big skies and the dry, rocky earth...and space....

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Great Sand Dunes artist residency!

The Great Sand Dunes in Colorado.

Great Sand Dunes, east coast version.

Yesterday I found out I was chosen to be the first artists-in-residence at Great Dunes National Park in Colorado. The process was amazingly quick, I usually have to wait up to 3 months to find out if I was chosen (although I never understand why it takes so long). I got the phone call about this one about a week after the deadline.

I'll be there for two weeks at the end of September and will stay near headquarters in a small efficiency apartment usually used for ranger housing. I also have the option of staying some of the time in a little cabin a bit more off the beaten path. Because of its high elevation, 8200 feet, it will be cool in September, about 60 degrees during the day and close to freezing at night. Nice hiking weather.

The dunes are the largest in North America and are at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. They began to form 440,000 years ago when persistant southwest winds carried sand from a massive lake bed towards the mountains where it was met by storm winds from the east. There is an excellent page on the formation of the dunes on the park website. I've just begun my research of the park, and the more I find out about it the more interesting it gets.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Flirting with Spring, thinking of the West

It was starting to seem like it was not too premature to anticipate spring, so last Saturday I heated up the studio to about 50 degrees and started an oil painting of a Mesa Verde scene, my first oil painting since my show, and a step toward fulfilling my promise to donate a painting in appreciation for my Artist Residency last May.

The next day a blustery storm began which dumped about a foot of snow and big drifts in front of my studio door. So much for spring! But the sun looks strong on the snow and even though the temperature is only in the teens, spring is still on the way.

This weekend it's supposed to be milder, and I'm glad, because it was really nice to be working in oils again, and I need to process my Mesa Verde work, especially since I'm applying for new residencies for this year. Coincidentally, the first two I've applied to are so close to Mesa Verde I'll probably get my groceries in the same supermarkets.

One is at Great Dunes National Park. Who knew that the tallest sand dunes in North America are at the foot of the Rocky Mountains? I thought the dunes in Cape Cod National Seashore were big when I did my residency in 1997, but it would be very bizarre to draw even larger dunes with snow capped peaks behind them instead of the ocean.

The other is San Juan National Forest, My husband and I drove through the San Juan Mountains on the Million Dollar Highway (US 550) on our way back to the airport in Denver last May and the scenery was incredible. The housing looks very cool too, in the historic Aspen Guard log cabin which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, 12 miles north of Mancos, Colorado over a dirt road and tucked into an Aspen grove.

It will be a few months before I find out if I get chosen for either one, in the meantime, I'll probably apply for the Petrified Forest National Park and Grand Canyon residencies, just to hedge my bets.
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