Tuesday, January 08, 2019

30 from Tennessee

Happy New Year, y'all!

After a tumultuous transition from Pennsylvania to a new home in Tennessee in 2018, I'm looking forward to a quieter year ahead with better opportunities for creation and calmness. Huzzah!

To start 2019, I'm going to focus on a brand new series of works. Since landing in Knoxville, I've tried some new foods (and discovered that I love sorghum butter and biscuits) and I've seen a lot of new things, including southern cities that I hadn't previously visited as well as stunning Tennessee state parks. Visiting all of these places helps me learn more about the history and culture of my new home. And all of these new visual stimuli have already had an influence on my artwork. For example, I now have access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park within an hour's drive of my home. I've really enjoyed going out there to work en plein air because I'm learning a ton about light effects and capturing roaring streams.

"30 from Tennessee" will be a series of paintings inspired by my new surroundings in eastern Tennessee. These small format works and studies will highlight my early impressions of my new home. I'll roll out a new painting once every week or two and the subjects will vary between my favorite themes of landscapes and cityscapes.

Great Smoky Mountains No. 1 - Early Fall
8 x 12 Oil on linen panel

The first piece I'm featuring in this series is "Great Smoky Mountains No. 1 - Early Fall." This painting was created en plein air along the Middle Prong of the Little River in the park, just south of Townsend, Tennessee.

If you've followed my landscape work over the years, then you know that I enjoy working in a series format for my plein air landscape subjects, especially when I find a place that I really enjoy, such as the gorgeous Black Moshannon State Park near my old home in central Pennsylvania, which inspired a series of forty-six works spanning over a decade. "Early Fall" is the first in what I anticipate will be a long-running series of works from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and I'm pleased with the quality of light within this work. In addition to the milder climate here in the south, the light is a littler warmer, too. It's different from what I'm accustomed to north of the Mason Dixon Line, and I'm enjoying this new quality.

Stay tuned for new additions to the "30 from Tennessee" series in 2019. As my work schedule permits, I'll unveil a new piece every week or two on my Instagram account.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Making New Friends

With the conclusion of my outdoor art show season last month, I've spent this month getting out and (finally) exploring the landscape of eastern Tennessee.

The decision to move to Tennessee and leave Pennsylvania was agonizing for me. But after 14 years in Pennsylvania, I was well acquainted with the beautiful state parks in the central region where we lived. I'd also ventured to quite a few equally gorgeous ones in other parts of the state, especially near the Poconos Mountains. By no means had I "seen it all," but there was a small, quiet gnawing in me that began to grow louder: I needed to shake up the snow globe and try something different.

Tennessee has a great reputation for its outdoor offerings. But my first months here didn't exactly go as planned.

As I've described in previous posts, the home we purchased needed a lot of attention and maintenance, eating up an inordinate amount of time. But what was worse was that shortly after we arrived, my trusty studio mascot and erstwhile woodlands companion, Maple, was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia. This has meant no more woodland hikes together. I mourned this new state of affairs throughout the summer. I was reluctant to go out alone, both from a sentimental and safety standpoint.

Then my father-in-law passed away and I did my best to support my husband while he and his sister got their mom resettled into assisted living, just a year after they lost their brother to cancer. Oh, and it was sizzling hot and humid, too. I was one sweaty Yankee all of this past summer.

Uff dah!

So, it's been a real treat to get out and explore a bit this month. The opportunity to work en plein air has nourished my soul.

I've spent most of my time venturing out the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located about 45 minutes from our high maintenance home (did I just write that? Pardon my ruthless cynicism.) Anyways, the last time I passed through the Smokies was as a young and very car sick-prone child during a torturous summer family car trip. I'm on better terms now with the park.

Shown here are a couple of "Postcards from the Easel" with my field easel and small landscape works in progress. I'm slowly making friends with this new landscape, and I'm enjoying the cooler days of fall while I'm at it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

From Sketch to Something Grander

Sapphire Night Sketch
Oil on paper, 10 x 12.5


Sapphire Night
Oil on panel, 20 x 30

Many years of formal training as a music performance major in college taught me the value of etudes, those brief, highly technical snippets of music that form the essential foundation of performing ensemble pieces. I carry this discipline with me today in my visual art career by creating practice runs of complex ideas via initial sketches and studies.

Sometimes it's hard for me to restrain myself because I'm so jazzed about an idea that I want to dive into a big, blank canvas and start slinging paint. But initial studies always pay dividends by allowing me to emphasize what I want to communicate and identify any potential pitfalls in my design.

Lately, I've been digging Arches oil paper for this purpose. I can focus on an idea and get the details ironed out before tackling a larger composition. Sketches, by virtue of their smaller size and confined time commitment, are less pressure packed, and often result in a fun personality that I really like.

Here are a couple of recent examples from my cityscapes featuring subjects in New York City and London. The smaller sketches are slightly different in ratio from the finished works because I originally created these as options for a client who commissioned me for a custom painting. Nonetheless, these initial studies helped me work out the ideas before scaling up to bigger versions of the motifs. I think you'll see the relationship here in the side-by-side comparisons. Enjoy!

London Twilight Sketch
Oil on paper, a10x 12.5


London Twilight
Oil on canvas, 32 x 48