Monday, May 30, 2011

First cup of coffee

What a luxury to have my first cup of coffee on my own porch with a book on a summery day off.  Sometimes I feel I don't deserve this beautiful porch, which was one of the things that sold me on this house right away, but I can't say I'm not enjoying spending more time here, even if it's with an ice pack on my troublesome knee.

My crutches were ditched days ago, but the most annoying thing about my post-operative recovery is that after standing for long at the easel I am shocked to find my  knee will no longer bend. So I am forced to sit and ice, and wonder what the heck they did inside that knee while I was knocked out cold.

What I can't seem to do is sit and paint.  No sooner than I perch on the stool than I have to step back or over to my palette, or ten feet away, or up on the little step-stool to reach the top of the painting. I can't even draw sitting unless it's a small one or I'm outside without my easel. So I guess I had better stay in good shape to be able to stay in the sport . . .

I did take my first walk yesterday though, after hearing about scandalous behavior down on the beach. Of course I had to see it, so took the 2 block walk to photograph horseshoe crabs in flagrante delicto. Turns out it was a rather dull affair, despite the orgy-like behavior of most of them. It looked like a barge loaded with surplus army helmets overturned, washing bunches ashore to overlap at the tide line. But activity was probably a lot more exciting beneath the shells, as I found half a dozen of the little guys tossed onto their backs as a result of their passion.  Now here was some good photo material! Flailing claws! But I was kind enough to flip them back over once I had my way with them. Don't be surprised if they turn up in a painting, once I get my easel legs back again.

By the way, the book I'm reading is the life of Louisa May Alcott. If all you know about her is from reading "Little Women" you should check out her life story, she was an amazing person!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Here I sit, broken and rejected.

Ok...repaired and rejected. My torn menicus (go ahead, ask me about knee anatomy) has been neatened up and my knee should be unwrapped and crutches tossed aside soon, but I'm still not going to Juneau Alaska this year to climb glaciers and hang out with the rangers as artist in residence. I know, I've already got the AIR in Petrified National Forest this September, but now I'm getting greedy and want TWO residencies a year. And the Tongass National Forest residency sounded really awesome.

But there's always next year to try again, and my rejection letter was one of the more thoughtful ones I've received. It actually referred specifically to my application, which feels better than the generic rejections that tell "Dear  artist " how tough the decision was and how many wonderful artists applied. So I will try again, even though I already have an application in for 2012 at Grand Canyon National Park. But I can do two a year, can't I?

So, I can concentrate on looking forward to the incredible color and cool rock formations of the Painted Desert even though September seems so far away. As any New Englander knows though, our precious summer goes by in a flash, and while I wait to go to Arizona I'm gearing up for a more local exploration at the Rhode Island Natural History Survey's Bioblitz. We've got a great response from artists of all media, and are teaming up with RISD's nature lab to offer things like microscopes and flower presses just for the artists, as well as expertise in specimen gathering. We also have some members of RISDs natural science illustration program, so it should be very interesting to meet this year's team. And next year we have an exhibit scheduled at the Warwick Art Museum to showcase the work of the 2011 Bioblitz artists. 

Once I can stand at my easel again I'm close to finishing some paintings I've been working on in the studio as part of my next series which I hope to post soon. Until then, I may just hobble into my backyard to take advantage of the first dry spring day we've had in about 2 weeks and do a little "plane ear" painting.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The answer was... a phone call!

Looks like I'll be hiking in the desert later this summer! I came into work the day after I wrote the last post to find a message on my phone telling me I had been chosen as one of the artists-in-residence in the Petrified National Forest in Arizona!
In 2004 my husband and I made the typical tourist stop at the park while exploring the southwest. We had just enough time to check out some petrified logs, petroglyphs and the incredible painted desert before being chased off the joint by an aggressive dust devil.  This time I'll get to live for two weeks in one of these lovely adobe houses near the historic Painted Desert Inn, which has not functioned as an inn since the 70's, but is open to the public and is a fascinating historic building. 
I'm hoping to post journal entries daily from the park, since I believe I can get internet access but I don't know that my journal can compete with the one I discovered by a previous artist in residence, June Underwood. So thank you June for giving me a glimpse of what I can anticipate during my weeks there.

Now I'm only waiting to hear from the other residency I've applied for in the Ford's Terror Wilderness area of the Tongass National Forest in Juneau, Alaska. I usually don't attempt two residencies in a summer but this one sounds too cool to resist. The artist actually travels into the wilderness, via kayak, small boat or even sea plane with a ranger for 10 days, then pitches camp on a glacier. So wish me luck on that one too, I should know in a week or two!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How I would like to spend my summer vacation

Will I be hiking over a glacier, or over hot desert sand this summer? Or both? Or just over the same little streets of Providence? And when will I know? Will I get an email, a phone call, or an envelope in my mailbox? These are the questions I think of as I look out my grimy work window to the wall of buildings across the street,  grateful for the little sliver of sky I can see.

I've applied for two residencies this summer, both should be letting me know any day now.  In the meantime I've been organizing an artist team to explore a little piece of our very own environment. The area we are exploring is not the vast open space of the west, but a little plot of land near the reservoir—from the birds in the sky to the microscopic, bugs and fungus, leaves and amphibians. For the second year, artists are joining the Natural History Survey's Bioblitz. It's a great reminder that you don't have to travel great distances to be awed by nature. There are amazing things going on, literally, in your own backyard. If you think that sounds cool, check out the facebook page and join us!

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