Tuesday, March 31, 2015

on the road: boston to denver

So... I definitely did not plan to camp out in my truck on the side of a field in Kansas last week.

That said, the silver lining about sleeping outside is just that: a literal silver lining around 6am, as the very first light of a new day spreads across the indigo plane of the eastern horizon. As the minutes pass the sun creeps slowly higher over the hazy highway, turning land from violet to heather grey to lavender and the sky from pale grey to a blushing peach. After two days and 1520 miles of driving this first spectacular sunset on the plains of eastern Kansas alongside a pasture of longhorns felt like a good sign.

I left Boston early on March 20th for a solo road trip around the country and have been traveling for the past week. There is almost no experience I love more than being on the road to a new destination... the intrigue of the unknown and the promise of countless new people, places and experiences is addictively alluring and invigorating to me, and long roads refreshing. It's been a while since I'd been on a road trip and even longer since I'd been back home on the west coast, and the month in between finishing up commissions and starting up SoWa Open Market season felt like the perfect time to do some exploring and inspiration seeking. After ten years and 138,000 miles together my beloved Nissan finally gave up last month, rusted and rattling, and so I found a used 4Runner and packed it full of camping gear and set off west.

I drove twelve hours to Columbus, Ohio, where I caught a concert with friends Mike & I met camping in the Virgin Islands, and then another twelve from Columbus to Emporia, Kansas. In Kansas I started to take it slower, meandering down gravel farm roads and alongside railroad tracks, rolling through tiny towns and down long straight country highways.

Western Kansas is almost impossibly flat, sometimes allowing you to see for a hundred yellow miles nearly uninterrupted. I took a quick detour down a gritty dirt road out to the Kansas Monument Rocks, and inexplicable grouping of 70-foot tall, 80 million year old sedimentary chalk pillars jutting out of the dust. I was the only soul there besides a handful of lazily grazing cattle.

After leaving Kansas under an equally beautiful farewell sunset, I drove to Limon, Colorado, where a thunderstorm rolled through overnight draping a heavy blanket of pewter clouds over the prairie, and then headed towards Denver.

My loose plan for this trip is to make it down to Los Angeles, then spend a week or two driving and camping up the Pacific Coast Highway to see my family in Seattle and then back to Boston via an unknown (but likely Southern) route. Any suggestions? :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

new original paintings, prints, and free shipping

Lots of new work to share with you! This is the view from my loft/upstairs hall:

mae chevrette studio

Yesterday I picked up five paintings at my print shop and finished listing them for sale in my shop. Many original paintings sold over the holidays so it feels good to have a new batch of finished work back up on my walls.

Lately I've been really enjoying working on a big scale… three of those canvases are 36"x48" and the one on the easel is 36"x60". The amount of material required by large paintings is a bit of a challenge and especially daunting in the beginning, when it's just a big white canvas staring back at me, but I love  how much detail it's possible to include in these big ones.

"Salt-Faded Memories" (36"x48" mixed media on canvas)
Original painting and prints available

"A Summer Night in Newport" (48"x36" mixed media on canvas)
Original painting and prints available

"Watch With Glittering Eyes" (11"x14" mixed media on canvas)
Original painting and prints available

"Rose Light" (60"x36" mixed media on canvas)
Original painting available

"Sweet Blows the Wind" (24"x24" mixed media on canvas)

"Ghosts of the Coast" (36"x48" mixed media on canvas)
Original painting and prints available

Back in February I had four paintings hanging in an awesome group collage show at Wedeman Gallery in Newton. It was so fun to meet the other artists in the show, including Ana Linares and her incredible Floriography Tarot work and a longtime favorite encaustic artist Caroline Bowden. Here's Mike and I at the end of the artist's reception alongside Ghosts of the Coast. 

All of these original paintings are up in my shop and all ship free until midnight tonight with the code FREESHIPSPRING. I'll be taking a break from shipping originals and canvas prints starting Thursday, 3/19 until Monday, 4/26 while I am on a month-long road trip around the country, though Mike will still be shipping paper prints while I'm gone :)

Friday, March 13, 2015

back to plum island

Thanks for your kind comments and emails after my last post! It helps to know I'm not alone in the world of creative ruts, art copycats and barfy kitties.

After dropping off my finished paintings from the last few weeks up at my print shop, I took advantage of being an hour north and spent the rest of the afternoon at Plum Island (where I found this book) on the far North shore of the Massachusetts coast. In the middle of a 30-degree week there were two days of 60-degree sunshine and soft winds, so I walked around the dunes, along the shore and through the salt marsh to get some fresh air and see what the last few storms had washed up on shore.

Someone I know once called this a "beach bouquet"… a large mess of lobster trap, dune fence posts, bird feathers, bits of buoys and piers, driftwood and rope washed ashore after a storm. There were several of these along the length of the beach and I snagged a couple pieces of it for a new painting I'm working on.

Plum Island is a thin, 11-mile long island with salt marsh on one side -- usually full of cranes, hawks and foxes roaming around and supposedly hosts migrating snowy owls right now, though I didn't see any --  and boardwalks over sand dunes on the other. The salt marsh was frozen over, the lowland still completely covered in about two feet of packed snow, and there was still snow right on the beach too. I loved the sight of violet and pearl mussel shells, porcelain moon snails, twinkling sea glass and other detritus littered right up to the edge of the remaining snowbanks.

(p.s. Please excuse these photos if they're weird sizes or the color is off… I'm trying to learn how to post from the road, using a tablet and gas station wifi. More on that next week.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

above all else

“Above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that's why I make works of art." - Felix Gonzalez-Torres

So! The past few weeks have had their share of bumps and roadblocks. Several exciting and important client projects were shelved, travel was postponed, expensive technological glitches and breakdowns happened all over the place. Wedding planning isn't quite 
what I expected it would be. I stumbled upon yet another art copycat which always throws me off for a few days how do you tell someone, kindly, to stop imitating your work? Four snowstorms in a row left our neighborhood buried and gridlocked for days, and in the middle of the last blizzard, Chubby Boots suddenly became very ill, barely moving and refusing to eat or drink at all. It was so scary. He had to be bottle-fed until we could get a vet appointment the next day, at which time my car wouldn't start -- just one of many signs that it's at the end of its time.

Thankfully, CB is back to his normal healthy self, and I'm aware that everything else is totally insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it just felt like one thing after another and kind of overwhelmed me. I have trouble channelling creativity energy when I'm feeling sad or upset or frustrated and all these bumps in the road were swirling around my brain and heavily affecting my work. I don't know. Any artists out there ever feel this way? Like it's hard to function creatively when bad energy abounds in other areas?

So I made an effort to take this rough month full circle, I guess, and shift my focus away from all the distractions and letdowns and extraneous non-creative parts of being a working artist and back to the very most basic part of my "road," which is just making art. Painting. I put everything else on hold and just painted, spending 8-9 daylight hours working on new pieces -- paintings I wanted to make -- and sketching or priming canvases in the evening. 

We spent a lot of time with our friends and went on a few fun excursions, but most of the last month was work. At one point I had four large paintings going at once and was hopping from painting to painting each time one had a drying period or the inspiration struck. It felt really good to spend so much time with my hands messy, rough, caked in paint and glue, busy with the basis of what brought me to this very particular point in my life. With Mike topping off my coffee mid-morning and Chubby Boots lolling around on torn paper at my feet it felt as though I was slowly slipping back into a good flow separate from all the bad energy.

And I got so much done! Five paintings are waiting at my print shop to be scanned and made into prints. But more than that, the act of creating art is cathartic in itself, and the time spent repetitively layering, painting, sanding and drying allowed for a lot of thought. I paint because I have something to tell you
 that I can't put into words, and it will always be that way whether I have a dozen clients and projects or a blank slate for months. It will always be about the painting, the sole act of describing experiences on a flat plane of canvas and nothing else, despite what distractions and hurdles abound. The simplest things are the easiest to overlook.