Tuesday, September 26, 2017

It's a Wrap!

Uff dah!

My 2017 outdoor art show season is finally in the books. This year featured travels from Illinois (twice) to New York and down to Virginia (twice), in addition to my home state of Pennsylvania. Needless to say, it's been a busy show season since April.

Tools of the Trade A peak into my cargo van with my trusty art show chair and carrier rack for large paintings. I don't know what I'd do without ratchet straps.

I've made some new artist friends this year and I continue to learn about the wild and woolly world of exhibiting my artwork and relating to the public about what I create. I was fortunate to be able to structure my schedule this year to avoid the hottest months of July and August. With any luck, I'll try to do that again in 2018 because if the science is to be believed, we're getting hotter and the environment for these art shows is changing.

Landscapes on Display A grouping of Pennsylvania landscapes, and one Wisconsin piece, on display in Illinois during a show earlier this year.

Per usual, I'm looking forward to trying some new ideas with my artwork during the quieter winter season. In the meantime, stay tuned for my local exhibition right here at home, "Finding Centre," beginning in November. I'll be busy finishing up new paintings for that show and it won't require any long distance travel - hooray!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Yeoman's Work

Springtime, Reeds Gap 8 x 10 oil on linen panel. I painted this en plein air in central Pennsylvania's Reeds Gap State Park.

My first "real" job after I finished college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was a full-time gig at a non-profit organization in Madison, Wisconsin. Back then, I did web site development and computer programming. My job with the non-profit was a new one within the organization and it had nothing to do with my recently-earned degree in art, but it paid the bills and it offered a pleasant place to work.

Following my initial 6-month probationary period, I received my first performance review. It was positive. One thing that my supervisor wrote stuck out to me because I didn't understand it: "Sarah is doing yeoman's work."

I had to take my 21-year old self to the nearest dictionary and look up the phrase yeoman's work:

of, pertaining to, composed of, or characteristic of yeomen: the yeoman class....performed or rendered in a loyal, valiant, useful, or workmanlike manner, especially in situations that involve a great deal of effort or labor

I was grateful for the acknowledgment of my effort and the compliment. Fast forward all these years later, and that term still resonates with me. Throughout my career as an artist, I've tried to maintain this demeanor throughout what I do. Traveling to outdoor art shows, gambling on the weather and so many elements outside of my control is hard work, even beyond long hours logged in my studio to create my artwork.

This past week, our family lost a loved one following a valiant battle against cancer. Like so many others afflicted with this dreadful disease, he was far too young. Witnessing his death and supporting my husband through this loss got me thinking again about this phrase yeoman's work.

I don't have kids, just a couple of spoiled dogs. For me, my artwork is my legacy in this world. Indeed, one of the biggest reasons why I jettisoned my bright career in computer programming and web site development was because it all seemed so empty to me. I felt that the very next day, I could be replaced and the next person could come in, re-write the code, re-design my projects and poof, there would be no evidence that I was ever there. I wanted to make use of my intrinsic drawing talent and my creativity.

Losing our loved one last week reinforced and reinvigorated this desire to create and to do it well. For as the definition above indicates, being an artist requires a great deal of effort and labor. In the coming months, I'm looking to renew my dedication to what I do. As I saw all too plainly last week, life is short, life is fast. It's such a cliché, but there is no time to waste. And it takes a lot of work to maximize the time we have.

Shown here is a small plein air landscape that is a kick start to this renewed devotion to my work. "Springtime, Reeds Gap" was begun earlier this season in central Pennsylvania's lovely Reeds Gap State Park. I was really pleased with the start that I got on this motif, but I wanted to polish it up in my studio with the final details. I brought it home and I looked at it for days, then weeks, and then a couple of months.

After returning from a harrowing family trip to support others in a time of need and loss, I found that I was having a hard time getting back into the groove in my studio. I was emotionally drained. Suddenly, I realized that I was finally at the perfect point to finish this painting. I rarely sign my paintings with my full name. But following the loss of our loved one, I wanted to add an exclamation point to the first painting finished after the emotional turmoil of shock and grief.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Finding Center, or "Centre"?

Work in progress on my field easel: From the verdant Buffalo Run Farm, just south of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

Despite a lot of heavy rainfall this spring (my garden tomatoes are giving me dirty looks), I've managed to thread the needle on a few beautiful days to get out in the field and do some plein air landscape painting as I begin work on a really cool and exciting project for later this year.

I'm partnering with a friend and fellow artist, Alice Kelsey, as well as a local non-profit land conservation group, Clearwater Conservancy, to feature the scenery of our home surroundings here in Centre County, Pennsylvania. The exhibition will open in early November at the State College Framing Company and Gallery and it will highlight the juxtaposition of our area's rural beauty with the small towns and notable landmarks of our area. I'll have more specifics for you later this summer.

Work in progress on my field easel: From the gorgeous panoramic of Everhart Farm, along the edge of State College, Pennsylvania.

We're calling this exhibition "Finding Centre," a play on our county's name and a reference to the balance between town and country themes. Thanks to Clearwater Conservancy, we've been out to some truly beautiful properties. Last week, we spent time on a farm that dates back to the late 1800s, and we got to meet a 3-week old foal! My outdoor art show season has begun in earnest, and after returning from a soggy, stormy, and exhausting trip to an event in Illinois, the opportunity to pet the muzzle of a baby horse was exactly the balm I needed for my soul. It did indeed help me to get re-centered and re-energized.

Baby Horses? Yes, please.

I'll post more photos of our outings as we work on this project throughout the summer. Stay tuned for more sneak previews!