Monday, September 1, 2014

late august sail

Sometime last week I was writing the date on a customs form and it hit me… somehow it is already the end of August! Um, how did that happen? Determined to soak up the last few bits of summer Mike and I rode down to Jamestown, Rhode Island on Friday for a quick day and night on his sailboat. We sailed under the Pell Bridge and up Narraggansett Bay to Potter Cove, our favorite little spot to anchor overnight. 

Mike's boat is 26 feet and can fit about eight people sailing and sleep up to five (or six when we have an adventurous friend willing to rig a hammock up to the mast) but this time it was just us. After securing the boat to a mooring we stretched our legs, shared a few beers and cooked up dinner on the boat grill as the sun set. 

We were treated to a really incredible sunset… the sky was a vibrant purple, and a beautiful pink glow surrounded us while we made dinner, with a nice slice of moon rising over the water and even a few shooting stars thanks to the lack of light pollution. We sailed back the next morning, met up with Mike's family for some food and kayaking and then made our way back to Boston that night. This trip got me thinking about all the other things I want to do before the days get shorter and the nights get colder… collecting driftwood on Plum Island, wandering up the Maine coast for a few days, wandering around Boston, river kayaking... I just found out that there is camping on the tip of Cape Cod, so maybe we can even squeeze that in? So much left to do :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

the silent shore

Summer has absolutely flown by this year and I have so much to share with you! I've been totally consumed with finishing up this big commission - my largest painting ever and quite a challenge to wrap up and ship! I breathed a big sigh of relief after dropping it off to be crated and freighted out to Minneapolis, and resolved to spend a few days solely catch up on important life stuff like organizing my studio, editing photos, sharing new work I've made on the side and laying in the sun doing absolutely nothing.

Here is a piece I finished earlier this month, an ode to the dusky rose hues creeping up on us slightly earlier each warm summer evening…

"The Silent Shore" (2014)
12"x36" mixed media painting on canvas

As usual it's impossible to convey the amount of layers and textures in this piece and how the gentle purples and blues fade into the rough "rocks" of nails, screws, dyed cardboard and paper, but here are some of the details…

Monday, July 28, 2014

seven feet of stretched canvas

In June I flew out to Minneapolis, Minnesota to meet a freelance client, tour their space and get photos and materials for a very large commissioned painting. I spent a few weeks sorting through and editing everything and finally started the actual painting process last week. A local artist taught me how to build and stretch this massive 7'x3' canvas and after four coats of primer to thicken and tighten it, it was ready to go! Mike built me third easel to keep it completely balanced, and I extended my drop cloth territory just to be safe. I wake up every day appreciative for this studio, but especially now that I have a giant canvas in the middle of it and still room to walk around.

An artist friend remarked that she was surprised I had never stretched my own canvas before because it was such a basic skill of our craft, like a chef making a roux. That's a negative aspect of not having attended art school… the most basic skills that every freshman art student learns have sometimes been totally foreign to me. Stretching canvases. Underpainting. Focal lightness. All of these basic principals have to be self-taught through trial and error (and error, and more error, etc.) which is helpful to unique growth but also immensely frustrating. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing okay as it is, but sometimes I wonder if I should seek out classes or go back to school to ensure I'm creating my best possible work. (Are you an artist? Are you self-taught, or did you go to school for art/become an apprentice? How much do you feel you learned in school and how much was natural discovery during/after? I'm interested in hearing different perspectives on this issue.)

I'm all for trying and failing and learning from it because that's generally how unique, personal techniques are discovered, but I felt really lucky to have connected with the artist who took the reins on this giant, heavy canvas…. there turned out to be a few special tricks to stretching a piece this big, and with a project of this magnitude and cost there was no room for error. Thanks Ashley!

After priming, I glued a layer of paper, sanded it, glued another and started my outline. Colored blocks frame where the different paper materials will go and the general lightness and darkness of the piece. This painting will be a little less rustic and distressed than some of my work, so lots of painters tape was used to help create straight lines and angles.

The last golden light of the day beaming over Fenway and onto my East wall tells me it's time to call it quits.. look how dark it gets! I used to be a night painter, but the quality of the daylight here is so incredible that I try to use every minute of it that I can. Once the sun starts to set the light changes so dramatically that good colors look 'off' and bad colors look right and mistakes are easily made, so I have to put down my brushes for the day.

Because this is a private commission I can only share a little of it, but I'm excited to finish it, freight it (!) and show you the hanging piece. This is the biggest single canvas I've ever worked on and it's been a bit challenging to navigate such a big space, compared to a smaller painting that my eyes can take in all together… I have a new respect for artists that paint on a big scale because it truly involves a lot of stepping back and forth ;)

And just for fun, Chubby Boots in our living room hammock. What a mush, right? He loves it!

Monday, July 14, 2014

five paintings on driftwood & drawers

Over the last year or so I've been experimenting more with painting on nontraditional surfaces like driftwood, book covers and pages, antique drawers and more.

My art already incorporates as much relevant material as I can find to enhance the story I'm trying to tell – a nautical map of the coast where a lighthouse stands; layers of train schedules, telegrams and driving maps over long winding roads, etc – so it only felt natural to play around on new surfaces as well. There was a little trial and error as I figured out how to prime and prep them (essential to making a high-quality, long lasting painting) while still keeping a very organic, "just found" look, but they proved to be the perfect way to make my paintings more unique and tactile.

Using driftwood from trips to Plum Island and vintage drawers mostly from the SoWa Vintage Market I created six paintings (some a few months old and some finished this month) that finally went up in my shop last week:

Letterpress Lighthouse, 19"x12" mixed media in a letterpress drawer

Per Via Aera, 5.5"x4" mixed media on driftwood lumber 

Newport Harbor Light No. 3, 18"x7.5" mixed media in antique white flat drawer

To Keep The Sea, 3"x 12" mixed media and vintage letters in metal and wood drawer 

Newport Light No. 4, 6"x6" on canvas 

Driftwood Dive No. 1, 5.5"x8" mixed media on flat driftwood 

I announced these on my Facebook page last week and four sold right away, but two are still available in my Etsy shop. They're also with me at my booth at the SoWa Market almost every Sunday this summer :)