Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Racking my brains

It's kind of weird how I haven't posted in so long. I just lost my blogging impulse, even wondering if I should drop the whole thing.  Then life at my job...well, the less said about that the better. So I look for solace with my imaginary, (and some not so imaginary) friends in blogland. 

And since I'm feeling rusty with posting, I'll just post yet another studio upheaval installment

I was very disturbed recently to discover some of my oil painting adorned with little puffs of mildew, probably due to a very humid summer. This made me rethink my painting rack system. I had built a sturdy two tiered rack in the corner but my inventory had outgrown it.

Because I don't have time to organize a clearance sale, I have to expand my storage, and also build in some space around my work to keep air circulation going. 

So I took everything out and came up with this ingenious system using wire shelving for the base and another piece on the wall, making nice slots to accommodate wood dividers.  I also offset some wood rails to keep the work from butting right up against the walls.

I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out, the only problem is that I still have more work than will fit in the rack. So I will have to build more racks and probably install a dehumidifier.


I should also purge some of my old work and studies, but I'm not the kind of artist who builds a bonfire and throws their entire oeuvre on it in a fit of pique. Sounds awfully toxic anyway.

This of course is really cutting into my almost non-existent painting time, but with the holidays upon us it's a losing battle anyway. Looking forward to January!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Denial, Wax and Water...

Toboggan Beach, Alaska  oil/canvas 40x30in

That bridge I was going to cross if I was accepted for a residency at Denali? Well, I probably won't be crossing it this year. I heard the decision much sooner than I expected (which thankfully cuts short the suspense) but unfortunately I was not a finalist. I did, however, make 2nd runner up. The bronze medal, sort of. Which is actually quite flattering considering how few are chosen. And I was very appreciative of the personal note and nice words on my work. So, since I don't imagine two people will be crazy enough to turn down the residency,  I will try again next year, with more Alaska paintings.  And of course, I have the Grand Canyon residency to look forward to, which isn't too shabby!

But coming back down to earth, or as I like to call it, Rhode Island, I have nine paintings from my shoemaker series  in a group show called Knowledge Is Power at the URI Extension campus downtown Providence. Thursday, Oct. 18 *!Gallery Night!* is the opening, from 5 to 9.

Which is probably it for the exhibits for awhile, but I'm glad to have gotten some studio time in recently, especially as it is still warm enough to work without preheating my studio for two hours. The insulation is going up little by little though, and I hope to make workable this winter, as I need to paint like a maniac for about a year for two planned exhibits in the fall of 2013.

I'm also going to heat up the griddle for experimentation in encaustic. I've long been interested in learning the archaic hot wax technique so finally broke down and took a class at RISD. My first piece was, how shall I say it, a total mess, failure—a piece so ugly that passing bees made a wide berth around it and denied any part in supplying the beeswax for the monstrosity. So I have high hopes for the medium. Especially as I am thinking of using it in a multimedia painting with my disappointing piece from a previous glass casting class. I rise to the challenge!

And even more inspiring, with my slick little yellow kayak, just purchased used 2 weeks ago, I can go anywhere and do anything! As long as I have at least 6 inches of water, and no small craft warning. I can even go back to kayaking the fiords of Alaska, if the next application I send out for another Voices of the Wilderness residency is accepted. Just try keeping me out of Alaska!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Grand surprise!

The letter began as all rejections do,
Dear Artist,
...A thank you for submitting...
....A bit about how many worthy applications were received and how difficult it was to pick just a few...
....An appreciation of the work that went into submitting an application...
"rejected" I muttered to my husband.

But then, in the next sentence, the letter took an unexpected twist. The word "congratulations" jumped out at me and I realized I was accepted as one of the 2013 artists in residence at Grand Canyon National Park!

I had visited the north rim on a tourist-vacation-loop, breezing by Bryce, Zion, North Rim, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley and Petrified Forest in two weeks, so as you might imagine didn't really have time to really explore any one of the parks, but this residency allows an artist to stay for 3 weeks in a little cabin 1/4 mile from the North Rim of the canyon.

Not content with my good fortune, I've also greedily sent out an application, once again, for Denali National Park. How I'll manage it if I get both...well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Since I've been rejected many times from Denali, I certainly am not packing my Xtratufs yet, but if I apply EVERY year they may accept me just to stop the pestering.

Speaking of Xtratufs, I was thrilled that the wilderness rangers I hung out with in Alaska were in RI long enough for us to be able to get together for dinner. One of the Rangers who is also an accomplished clay artist, Barbara Lydon, surprised me with this super cool Xtratuf ceramic vase! It will take an honored place on my mantle to remind me of my good Alaskan friends and my kayaking adventure.

Back on the smaller corner of the planet, I'm in another group show at the URI Feinstein Gallery called Knowledge is Power. I went over the the Shepard Building at lunch to check it out and there is some really interesting work there, it is definitely worth a look

The Opening reception is on Gallery Night,  October 18, from 5-9pm, and it's up until October 31.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Talking about AIR

Photo by Matthew Hodge
A public speaker I am not—not by a long shot, but it's easier when I am talking about such a great program as the Artist in Residence program in our national parks and forests, and have such and engaged and interesting audience. It was a great opening reception, thanks to the folks at the Hale House, and especially the Director, Lori Urso. I had such a good time talking with everyone.

The show is up till Oct. 6, hours are Wednesday, Friday, & Saturday; 12 Noon to 4 pm.

The seal, oil/canvas, 20x24, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In Hale - AIR

The problem with being up half the night with a migraine is that when you go to hang your show the next day, you will be unable to do simple math. But thankfully the very patient Lori Urso, Director of the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society which has restored and oversees the historic Hale House, was cheerful about remeasuring and teaching us her special wire looping technique. So the show was hung yesterday and fit the space just as I had hoped.

The Badlands series
Kevin and Lori hanging out
The first of my Alaska series
The lighting is not as harsh as it appears in these photos, and if I must say so myself, the show looks very nice. The work in the show is a selection of paintings from my artist residencies in our National Parks and Forests. The Hale House was the summer home of Edward Everett Hale, writer, environmentalist, and who was instrumental in the successful passage of the Weeks Act, which made possible the designation of The White Mountain National Forest, which has just started its own Artist in Residence Program. So I hope, as E.E. Hale looks into the gallery from his portrait in the next room, he will approve.

The opening is Friday night, Sept. 7, from 6:30 to 8.

The beautiful big red Hale House is located on a hill above Route 1 South, about 10 miles after you pass the Tower (map below). Look for the sign with the library symbol and turn right immediately after, since you won't see the house till you're past it. If you do pass it, there is a turn around on the left right after.

The exhibit is up till October 6, and the Hale House is worth a visit in its own right, a beautiful and peaceful place.

Click for a pdf of the invitation

View Larger Map

Friday, August 17, 2012

September shows...

Long time no post, I know, and I have no excuse, so won't give one. But I'm back with info on a couple of exhibits opening in September.

I was honored to be asked to show my National Park and Forest work in the wonderful new exhibit space in the historic Hale House in Matunuck (map).

The Hale House was the summer home of author and environmentalist Edward Everett Hale and his family of artists. EE Hale was one of the original surveyors of the White Mountains in New Hampshire and was instrumental in the passage of the Weeks Act), which enabled the creation of the White Mountain National Forest. (Which, coincidentally, just started their own AIR program)

Below is a photo of the gallery room. The other rooms in this large home high on a hill above Route 1 have been beautifully restored. The show pictured is Seeing the Sea, featuring the work of artists who have received URI's Visual Art Sea Grant. It's up till Aug. 20.

More details to come...

I've also been asked to participate in a group show,  Architectural Treasures of Providence at the URI Feinstein Gallery (where Shepard's used to be). I will be showing some of my church paintings and drawings. The show runs from September 3-28, with an opening reception on Gallery Night, September 20.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Filling free time

A.I.R. exhibit at Badlands NP Visitors Center. "The White Place", center

I picked up my truck last week after its rear fender surgery and it looks great. Body shops always do this psychological trick of shining the whole vehicle up real pretty. I imagine my truck was pretty nervous when they approached it with this strange substance called "wax", but I'm sure it soon relaxed and enjoyed the spa treatment. Now it's acting all frisky and a bit vain as it looks down it's hood at all the dusty cars on the road.

I also started my Physical Therapy to get me all shined up after my knee scope. So far so good. So mobility is slowly returning, not that I haven't enjoyed being housebound for a few weeks. And I've enjoyed reviving my biography reading habit, picking up two at the library today, Thomas Hart Benton and David Hockney. 

Sometimes I try to imagine that this is really my life, and I won't have to go back to my day job. It would, of course, be fantastic, but I would have to really adhere to a schedule. Too much time is lost in aimlessness. Despite that I haven't lost that feeling that I'm not getting enough done, or that there isn't enough time to do everything. For example, this blog, and my residency journals. And, of course, painting. 

The thing about painting is that it isn't something you can do and it's done. It demands time and more time as you dive deeper in. But that's ok, since for me it's the most important thing. I need to examine all the other things I think I NEED to do. Because even when I have All Day, they still don't all get done. The NY Times had a great column about "The Busy Trap" and I'm going to try to take it to heart. Not only can't I see the forest for the trees, I can't see the trees for the understory. So a little brush cleaning is in order. So I can load up those brushes in the studio.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Another Alaska study, this one from a view of Serpentine Glacier across the fiord from Toboggan Beach. Gouache, about 3"x6".

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

View Point

View Point, gouache on paper, 4"x6"
Painting at View Point
Sometimes this blog seems like a patchwork quilt, with lots of loose threads to tie up (ok, mixed metaphors, but knit together well, don't you think?). This is one of them, the finished version of a little study I started while perched on a rock at View Point, in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Little dents and biodiversity

Nothing like another torn menicus to give you some time to catch up. This minor knee surgery could well become an annual event, since I had the exact same thing in my right knee at this time last year. But as luck would have it, I only have two knees, so that nips that tradition in the bud.

Coincidentally, my truck also went into the shop this week for a left knee problem, thanks to someone (and you know who you are)  pulling a nice parking lot hit and run on me. So I'm housebound on two levels, but it's a beautiful day, the windows and doors are open, and it sometimes seems I hardly ever get to be here, so Home, it's nice to meet you!

At any event, I'm on day two of post-op, sitting elevated leg on pillow, laptop on lap. Catching up, firstly, on planning the Bioblitz Art Exhibit.

That's right, another Bioblitz has come and gone, on beautiful farmland on the island of Jamestown. This year I partnered with Katy Dika from the RISD Nature Lab to head the Art Team. Next year, due to her planning, access to equipment, knowledge and enthusiasm making me look like a complete amateur in contrast, I happily entrust the future Bioblitz Art Team leadership to the competent hands of Katy and the RISD Nature Lab, which they have graciously accepted.

But I am still planning the art exhibit, which will be at the Warwick Museum of Art during the month of July and which will include work inspired by the bioblitz and work from artists who have been Artists in Residence in our National Parks and Forests. I'll have some work in the show, naturally, and will give a talk about the Artist in Residence Program on July 16.

I also have some shows upcoming...

September 2012 at the Hale House of my Artist-in-Residence work, including new paintings from The Chugach National Forest, Alaska, and the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert in Arizona.

A group show "The Architectural Treasures of Providence" September 4-28, at URI extension in downtown Providence. I'll be showing some church paintings.

And two shows in 2013, one in Newport at the Deblois Gallery, the other at Bert Gallery.

Until then, I'll take my ice pack and the book I'm reading, "The Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood", to the porch and enjoy my downtime!

Petrified pictures

Thought I'd post my finished studies (isn't that a contradiction?) of my Petrified Forest residency, to give you some pretty pictures to look at while I work on my next blog post.

From the Blue Mesa Trail o/c
Drainage o/c


Below the PDI

Monday, June 11, 2012

Painted Desert/Petrified Forest Video

Lately I've been blitzed by the bio,  (the 2012 Bioblitz Art Team), but I've packed up my tent and am back to camping in coffee shops, so promise to update this blog soon. In the meantime, John has published a great video of our Petrified Forest trip!

Painted Desert Trip from John DeVault on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

They don't make them like they used to — the Blaisdell 623-T

I have lots to blog about, upcoming shows, the 2012 Bioblitz, my Petrified Forest residency, etc., etc.  But tonight I am just obsessed with this pencil. It was part of the "inheritance" I was lucky to receive from the estate of Louise Marianetti. The materials she used were not only cool in their vintage-ness, but of the highest quality. She respected and demanded a lot of her tools and her work was of a quality which made them shine. 

Among the many pencils, pens and brushes I was given were two of these Blaisdell 623-T hard charcoal pencils. They put any other charcoal pencils you can buy to shame. Smooth, rich, even, hard without being scratchy — a pleasure to use, and now I'm spoiled. I want to use it, but I don't want to use it up! I need more. So I did what anyone with a quest does these days,  I googled it. And all I came up with was someone's post from 2006 beginning "I would like to note that I am willing to pay outlandish prices for the aquisition of Blaisdell Charcoal Pencil Hard 634T model charcoal pencils."

So it was confirmed. This pencil is special. If anyone should happen to know where to get more, I'd be interested, though not sure how "outlandish" a price I could afford. And if anyone thinks they have a competitor, let me know, I'll give it a shot!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Week two, Petrifed Forest

My home in the Petrified Forest NP, across from the Painted Desert Inn
Last week was one for exploring—long hikes and long drives. This week will be one for processing—short hikes, long days at the easel and chasing lizards out of the house. And catching up on my Petrified Forest Journal. Check the tab above for updates.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

First Cup of Coffee - PEFO

This is my first cup of coffee in the Petrified Forest National Park. In my hurry to buy groceries and make it to the park before the rangers retired to their housing units I grabbed a bag of Whole Bean Coffee.  As much as I was hoping to find a coffee maker in the little adobe house the park has given me to live in, I could hardly have expected a coffee grinder. So I made like an Anasazi and found a good rock and smashed the hell out of the beans. Because no coffee was not an option. And I know, Anasazi didn't have ziplocs. But they would have loved them.

By the way, check out my Petrified Forest Journal in the tab above, I'm trying desperately to blog every day, but all this tromping over badlands and through deserts is exhausting!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Packing for Petrified

The Painted Desert Inn, Kachina Point ||  CLICK & SCROLL FOR 360 PANORAMA

Although they haven't said for sure where I'll be staying, I believe one of those little adobe houses to the left of the Painted Desert Inn has my name on the door, and in less than a week I'll be settling in!

With a bunch of other things going on I've been struggling to get ready, but I think I have my art supplies down, thanks to the packing list that I've developed over 9 previous residencies. New this year is my homemade pochade box, which I think will be easier to pack than my old french easel. But though bulky, the french easel was very sturdy, this little box on my spindly tripod might be a different story—thus the string to tie the center post to a rock if needed. The umbrella will be a nice protection from the sun the the exposed terrain, but I that's also what I kind of thought when I bought it for my residency in the Great Sand Dunes. The wind might decide it belongs elsewhere and insist on taking it there. Well, there's always my hat.


I hear that there's good connection for Verizon in the park, so I should be able to post a daily journal of my adventures. My goal is to settle into my desert abode after a long day of hiking and painting and post photos and updates every evening. I'm also setting up separate blogs for my journals, which will keep things better organized. So check back just in case I actually get it done!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Countdown to the Petrified Forest!

Petrified Forest Natonal Park
Used under Creative Commons license from the Petrified Forest Ranger's photostream on Flikr

You may have read about me in today's Juneau Empire. But if it doesn't deliver in your neck of the woods, here's an article about the Voice of the Wilderness program, with some nonsense by me mixed in. Yes, that is me in the tres chic headnet.

Speaking of artist residencies, the countdown has begun for my latest in the Petrified Forest National Park, and boy, could I use a dose of southwest right about now. Not that I really have time to disappear into the desert for two weeks, what with the Bioblitz and associated art exhibit coming up in a few months. Seeing that I'm the curator of said exhibit. And am giving presentations on the Bioblitz Art Team and the Chugach Artist in Residence Program. And cannot manage public speaking without lots of visual aides to hide behind. And of course, have to finish half a dozen painting of Alaska for the exhibit.

I'm also still tempted to apply for another Alaska residency this year. I know it's greedy, and it would make me thoroughly frantic for the rest of the year, but now that I know how I want to work with the imagery, I could use another dose. If I don't do it again in 2012, I am definitely going to try for it in 2013.  Of course I've also applied for a Grand Canyon residency for 2013, so maybe the government should just appoint me Official AIR for our parks and forests and I can quit my job and travel around the country living in these beautiful places, painting, exploring and teaching. And then I could win the lottery or get a genius grant. And then I could wake up one morning 20 years younger, surrounded by kittens! Too far? OK, I'll dial it back....it would be great if I ever get to return to Alaska...and I'm so LUCKY to be going to the Petrified Forest.  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Alaska Artist Residency - Call for Artists!

Kathy Hodge, artist in residence, Chugach National Forest, Alaska
Kayaking in Prince William Sound, August 2011
If you think the Alaska Artist Residency that I've been going on and on about in this blog sounds like a great experience, believe me, it was! And better still, YOU can apply to be chosen for one of the 7! new opportunities this summer. I still have half a mind to apply for another myself, if I can swing it. So may the best artist win, and here's the info. Your welcome!

• • •

The summer of 2012 will mark the third year of Alaska's Voices of the Wilderness artist residency.  It is modeled after traditional residencies in the national parks…with a twist.  Instead of staying at a remote wilderness cabin, participating artists are paired with a wilderness ranger and actively engaged in stewardship projects, such as research, monitoring, and education. The idea is to give artists a sense of the stewardship behind America’s public lands, fostering an artistic exploration of these natural and cultural treasures. The hoped-for result is artwork that communicates something of the meaning of these lands.

As an artist-in-residence, you will experience the wilderness like few others. Traveling alongside a ranger, you might kayak the calm fiords and camp on glacier-carved shores. There will be plenty of time to sit back in your camp chair and absorb the crackling ice bergs and roaring waterfalls. From the water, you might see a bear foraging among intertidal mussels, or seals hauled-out on the ice. On remote beaches, your steps will mingle with the tracks of wolves, bears, birds, maybe even a mink. The wilderness soundscape will embrace you with the screeches of eagles or the songs of whales. Along the way, you’ll get a peek at what it’s like to care for the land by sharing time with a ranger.

As a volunteer, each artist will assist with some basic ranger duties, which may include boarding a tour boat to provide education, participating in research projects, such as seal counts or climate change studies, walking a beach to remove litter, or other generally light duties. However, an emphasis for the artist will be experiencing the wilderness and exploring how to communicate its inspirational qualities through their artwork.

There are 7 wilderness areas hosting artists in the summer of 2012  — each with different opportunities and varying in length.  Travel to Alaska is the artist’s responsibility.  Participants should plan to arrive in Alaska at least one full day prior to a residency to ensure enough time for safety training. Return travel should be planned for a couple days after a residency, as weather sometimes delays the return from the field.

Completed applications must be postmarked by April 20th. For more information, go to http://www.voicesofthewilderness.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Alaska sketches

Just a quick post of some of the studies I did up in Alaska that I don't think I've posted before. Hopefully I'll have a new oil painting to post soon!

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Oh entomology, where is thy sting?

So this is my first attempt at entomological illustration, and I think I'm hooked. I'm just debating on whether I should invest in a basic compound dissecting microscope. It's awfully tempting, since it would open up a whole new world of visual exploration. But on the other hand I can't keep up with what I can already see! I guess I'll try a few more specimens and see how it goes....

click for sharper version

This little study is one I did years ago, and even after my microscopic study of the hornet, I think it stands up pretty well. Well, not exactly stands, I didn't know the technique of relaxing and pinning the specimen back then, but he curls up nicely anyway...

I'm starting to organize the art team for this year's Bioblitz on Jamestown, where there will be tons of creepy crawly things to draw. Maybe I can bum some surplus bugs to bring home and draw. If not, my windowsill is a good place to find insects who have met their maker.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The world of little

This is a shot of my entomological illustration class at RISD, as seen through a fun little application called Tiltshifter which makes photos look like little model train landscapes. It works best with a small central subject and wide foreground and background. I couldn't resist trying it on some of my Alaskan photos....

An idea is fermenting in my brain concerning this world of macro, a big lens, dioramas, landscape and paint. I hope it's the kind that ages well, since I see a very busy spring coming up, lots of paintings already circling the runway and so little time!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rain on Toboggan

Rain on Toboggan, oil pastel, 20x24, 2012  |  CLICK TO VIEW LARGER

My trip to Alaska was a mix of days of incredible crystalline blue light and days of thick grey washes, when the clouds drifted earthward with their weight. This is a study of the latter, from our campsite on Toboggan beach in Harriman Fiord, looking towards Surprise Glacier.  I may have to trade my sneakers for damp socks and Xtratufs, mount a big canvas onto the easel and immerse myself in the spirit of it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Painting Alaska

Surprise, oil/canvas, 20x30, 2012 • CLICK FOR LARGER VIEW

This is the first oil painting I've finished from my Alaska artist residency, a kayak's eye view of Surprise Glacier. I'm working on getting several finished in time for the show in June at the Warwick Museum.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Weather, oil/canvas, 20x24, 2012
Not so sure about this one, but sometimes you just have to sign them and move on.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The girl who drew the hornet specimen

Just when I think I know what a hornet looks like, I get a look through a fancy compound microscope and a whole new world opens up. I get to see the level of detail that this hornet would have seen when he woke up and stumbled to the bathroom to face his 10x mirror. He probably bemoaned his scraggly antennas and sagging mandibles, but I think he's beautiful. Anyway, this is my drawing from my Entomological Illustration Class that I'm taking at RISD. Tomorrow I get to finish him in color. 

This class is so much fun that I wish I had tried to make a living doing scientific illustration. It seems a bit late now to try to make an inroad into what I'm sure is a very competitive field, but it would be fun to do a bit of freelance if I get any good.  My dad was an incredible jewelry renderer, back when catalogs were full of pen and ink and painted illustrations of tie tacs and earrings. (I'll post some of his work one of these days)  If I have near his talent in rendering bugs, I'll do alright...if the chip is off the old block, and they tell me it is.

Of course I'd have to learn about all the bug parts and their latin names, but that would be the fun of it. Just think how smart I'll sound, talking in a language no one understands. Sort of like explaining computer code. Now, if I can only get my hands on one of those microscopes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Return of the Bioblitz Art Team

Science Central during the 2011 Bioblitz in Scituate
Once again this year the fine folks at the Rhode Island Natural History Survey  are inviting an Artist Team to join the naturalists and scientists during their Bioblitz survey of all manner of species, plants, animals, bugs, birds, etc. found in a specific area during a 24 hour period. The 2012 Bioblitz will be held on the lovely island of Jamestown and will take place from noon on June 8th to noon on the 9th. If there are any artists out there who want to join the art team this year let me know, or go to our Facebook page and "like" it and I'll keep you informed.

Last year we had a great team, camping and exploring in the meadows and woodlands of the Scituate Reservoir property.  (To read about it, click here). We teamed up for the first time with the RISD Nature Lab, and hope to do so again this year. We also have an exhibit of artwork created as a result of the Bioblitz at the Warwick Art Museum from June 19-30, featuring work from previous Bioblitz's. In fact, since work won't have to be delivered until about a week after this year's blitz, if you work fast your 2012 work could part of the exhibit too.

In addition to work inspired by our own "backyard" the exhibit will include work from artists who have done residencies in our National Park as part of the Artist in Residence program. If you have done one of these residencies and want to exhibit, please get in touch with me. If you want to know more about the program,  I'm planning to give a talk about the AIR program in the National Parks and my Alaska residency in particular as part of the exhibit.

So even though it might seem cold and dreary outside, life will be stirring before we know it, and we'll be there to count it!

last year's biobltiz
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