Monthly Archives: January 2010

Another Year – The Cycle Begins

Tonight is the opening reception of the 62nd Annual Members Show at the Sharon Art Center, here in Peterborough. I put my painting “Fading Light” in the show. This is the 5th year I have participated. Because the Sharon Art Center is also a gallery they charge a 40% commission. I came to understand what that meant the year I sold a painting at this show at my usual low price, not taking into account the commission. Live and learn.

Attending these events is an interesting mix of emotions. It’s always nice to have a reception even if your’s is only one of many. Mostly its the participants that attend but there are those few who are actually potential buyers. In this particular show juried members and instructors also submit their work. I can’t help myself, I do compare what I’ve submitted to everything else I see. I also look at what others charge for their work. It seems with each successive year I gain a little more confidence.

The first year I submitted “North Peterborough Dam”.  When I attended I was truly humbled by what I saw around me. Although I wouldn’t say mine was the worst, it was sure in that general vicinity at least in my eyes. The more I compared myself with others the more I was determined to work harder. At that point I wasn’t even sure what I needed to work on, just that I needed to improve.

The next year I was even more ambitious, submitting a larger painting. Bigger is better right? It turned out to be not such a good idea. With so many paintings and so many people you could stand back away from it and so it was less than a perfect pick. Another lesson learned. Still it showed a little more sophistication. It has always been a painting special to me because I painted it from a photo I had taken on my way home from dropping Rick off for his first business trip to China. That’s the only way you would have gotten me up early enough in the morning to see the light skimming the treetops. I was glad I went for that extra drive around town that early morning. I couldn’t wait to show it to Rick when he got home. But still comparing it the the other in the Member Show, once again, I felt I was not making the grade.

By year three, I had a painting that had received many compliments. It was one that I had painted plein air. I had asked permission to set up and paint on the property and they were fine with it. The man said however that if I come back the water level may be different since they control it for hydro-power. I explained to him that actually I can make the water any level I want, at which we both laughed. “I guess you can” he said. It is a definite advantage painting has over photography, Photoshop aside. I was ok with this painting at the Members Show, even with the comparing – notice I said ok.

Last year I went for a watercolor. I thought this was the right venue for this one. I painted it from a photograph I had taken while driving around Peterborough looking for things to paint. This is a place that is sometimes beautiful and other times it just a swamp. Those are the places I like best. The other bit that made this a good venue was it’s title, “Spring Thaw”.  Putting Spring in the title of a painting filled with snow is something New Englanders can appreciate, its not about the snow, its the melting water and the hint of grass at the base of the tree, that’s what we desperately look for when we’re looking for an end to winter.

This year I submitted another painting of a local scene. I find people enjoy seeing scenes the recognize. I do too, it’s also fun when other artists have painted the same scene. “Fading Light” is it’s title, I decided to go out and paint a sunset as the daylight hours were getting shorter. It was a way to ward off the doom of the upcoming winter and celebrate the change of seasons. It is also one I did with a pallet knife, another evolution in my painting. This seems to have become the venue for that too for me. It’s a rather bold painting, filled with the light of a setting sun that has those special colors or Autumn’s evenings.

So, maybe I’ll see you tonight, or if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by the gallery at the Sharon Art Center and see what you think.

Happy New Year – New Beginnings with a Look Back

With every new year brings new beginnings. A fresh snowfall to start the year is a welcome guest this morning. I have started plans and writing lists for 2010. I suppose I would call it cautious optimisim that all will be accomplished. Among other things I am working on a new artist statement. This, the result of a workshop I attended last month (I am tempted to say last year). The point of the artist statement as best I can understand is to explain yourself as an artist, a rather broad and vague definition. In some respects it means different things to different people, but then so does art. Regardless, it is something often asked for when submitting your artwork for jurying. When I was first writing mine I read that the statement should be very personal, unlike a resume. With that in mind, I dove in and wrote my first artist statement. While it is time to write a new one, my previous artist statement is to become a dedication because I cannot dismiss it as something no longer relevant or important. So as the new year begins, I want to share this once more for those of you who never read it so that I can begin taking those next steps…..

It almost seems a foolish thing, signing my initials to my paintings the way I once did as a child. But there is a full circle of events that have brought me from my childhood painting to here. Here to this place where painting is called my work, though it is also my passion. How fortunate I am to live such a dream, but how I got here carries a sadness that is forever my inspiration.

She had become ill, she had forgotten the simplest of things, and we were loosing her. We searched for answers, and even though we got them, it couldn’t change what was. After the longest of days and the briefest of time, my mother left us. I traveled the six-hour drive from my home in New Hampshire to my parent’s home in New Jersey more and more frequently as her time faded from us. I went from the full time work of Creative Director to working part-time and finally to resigning. I needed to be with my mother as much as I could; that was what was important. But in that time of transition something else happened. In the sadness, I needed to escape during those times when I sat waiting for the next long drive, the next visit, the next sign that life was so fragile. It was then I returned to painting; in that place I returned to a time when life was simple. It was my mother who took me back to painting. It was my mother who had always been my most ardent supporter. Because of that, there was something right and true about following such a dream.

While I was painting this picture of these gardens, a mother and daughter walked by. I thought it would add much to the picture to include them but I felt taking their picture to paint them in accuately would be an intrusion so, once home I looked for a picture of my mother and I. The figures in this painting are from that picture taken at the Ohio State Fair – we’ll leave the year out, that’s on a strictly need to know basis.

It also seems like a lifetime ago that I was a working as a photographer, a graphic designer, and a web designer raising our two boys with my husband. Each day was a full schedule of events emanating from some corner, or another. I’d longingly look at the class offerings at the local art center, wondering why they couldn’t offer them at midnight when I had time to attend. It all seemed unlikely that I would ever return to art, even though in my heart I had never left. I often wonder if you need to actually paint, to be an artist. Is seeing the beauty and wanting to paint it close enough? What I didn’t realize was that I actually was in training. My design work strengthened my composition skills, my photography work kept me aware of the landscape around me, and mostly – without even realizing the strength of it, my boys taught me patience and they kept the dreamer alive in me. For how can you teach your children to dream for themselves, when you have given up on dreaming?
Now, all these beautiful landscapes of New England, which I have been driving by for so many years, have become my subjects. Places I remember and rediscover have joined the list of things to paint, or things I have painted, perhaps more than once. I enjoy painting plein air in the good weather, and even occasionally in the winter as well. There is too much to take in with only a camera for eyes. The richness of color, and even the feeling of the hot sun or cool breeze can make it into a painting, if you stand there long enough.

I sometimes experiment with different subjects. I had an instructor tell me that if I keep changing subject matter, it will take me much longer to learn. I had another instructor tell me you have to love your practice. I like the second one better. So you will see different subjects popping into my body of work now and again. That is who I am too. I don’t study with a particular instructor; I don’t stick with all the rules (though some I like) but I visit museums whenever I can. I paint, and I dream, and I sign my paintings as a child might, always mindful that I’m lucky to have married a man whose last name also began with a B. And I am always grateful to hear the words, “your mother would be so proud of you.”