Tuesday, November 12, 2019

25 Days of Minis

The holiday season is almost upon us. In fact, it snowed here in eastern Tennessee last night and now I'm really in the mood for the upcoming season. This season, I'm excited to participate in a fantastic project called "25 Days of Minis," a program that promotes small original artwork created by 42 selected artists throughout the country. Each day, a new original artwork is unveiled from each participating artist.

25 Days of Minis is a wonderful group of artists representing a variety of styles and subjects. If you're looking for a gift for that impossible-to-buy-for individual (or even if you just want to splurge for yourself), look no further.

To learn more about this project, I invite you to visit the 25 Days of Minis web site, where you can also sign up for email updates to see new artwork from all participating artists as soon as they are available.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Get Lost

Tailgate Painting: When I need to get a higher vantage point for painting,
the back bed of my pickup truck fits the bill perfectly.

It's been a long, hot summer in eastern Tennessee. I'm still acclimating to the hotter conditions in my new home state.

The good news is that I've been able to get out and explore my new surroundings more this summer. Our first months in Tennessee last summer were chock full of home repairs, home maintenance, and general home upgrades. Do you sense a theme?

Anyways, this summer things have been better and more sane. It's been good to get out of the confines of our home and to explore my surroundings a bit more. I still have a ton of Tennessee state parks to visit, but I've spent more time working in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as rural farm areas north of Knoxville.

When I go out into the countryside, I set a goal to get lost. I'm always intrigued by what may lie around the next bend in the road and I enjoy veering off of the beaten path to find places to paint. Shown above is a recent photo from an outing near New Market, Tennessee. The grasses along the roadside were over the height of my head, so I had to go with my "tailgate" painting set up on the back bed of my truck. I'm happy to have that option.

I look forward to sharing more with you on my "Get Lost" excursions. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 03, 2019

A Great Smoky Mountains Project

I'm delighted to share that the Knoxville Arts and Culture Alliance awarded me a Bailey Opportunity Grant for fiscal year 2020!

With support from this grant, I'm going to complete my training and certification as a Southern Appalachian Naturalist. This program is offered at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, located within the national park.

I've taken my first class and will continue my studies through next year. During this time, I'll document my observations and experiences of the park through my landscape painting. Most of the paintings will be small, plein air field studies. But I'll also complete some larger studio works.

The idea for this project echoes something I did while I lived in Pennsylvania. Back then, I created a series of plein air landscape paintings from central Pennsylvania's Black Moshannon State Park. I spent over a decade working in the park, getting to know it throughout the four seasons. As I developed a body of work that eventually numbered up to nearly 50 plein air paintings as well as many larger works, I wrote a book about the park's history and ecology, sharing my visual interpretations of the park with a narrative tracing its history and modern day ecology. I fell in love with that location by getting to know it well and one of my goals for this new project is to gain the same intimacy and reverence for my new home in Tennessee.

I've already ventured up to the Great Smoky Mountains many times and I'm really excited about the new sources of inspiration. Yet I'm also keenly aware of how much I don't know, everything from the broad history of the park to the minute details of its ecology. A vital part of my artistic process is to feel (at least a little bit) knowledgeable about my subjects. This is why when someone approaches me and asks me to paint something from their old family photos, I've always declined unless I can go see the place for myself. The direct experience and ability to witness the details firsthand is critical to my ability to make a successful painting.

This will be a long-term project and I have several goals. Not only do I want to create a new body of artwork that will allow me to call Tennessee my "home," but I also want to share what I learn with others in an effort to help them appreciate the park, its history, and its ecology. Of course, you'll see new works here on my web site as I finish them. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Television Interview

Earlier this spring, the producers of "Tennessee Life" with East Tennessee PBS television reached out to me and inquired about interviewing me for a segment in an upcoming episode of their program.

It was a great experience to share what I do, as well as the "how" and the "why." Being an artist means that I spend a lot of days alone, working at my easel with just my dogs for feedback (they are wonderful art critics). So it's a privilege when someone takes an interest in what I do.

Following our move to Tennessee a year ago, I've begun work on a new series called "30 from Tennessee." This is my way of sharing my initial impressions of my new surroundings and of getting to know my new home. During the interview for "Tennessee Life," I spoke about this new series of paintings as well as my approach to my artwork. It's really important to me to share the beauty of everyday moments and to highlight the cool things that surround each of us. Under the right light, just about anything is a worthy painting subject!

I hope you enjoy the interview and the glimpse into my studio.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

An Action-Packed Year

My Art Show / Moving Van
Before our official move, I made a couple of trips up and down
I-81 to move much of my studio materials myself.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of our official arrival in Tennessee from Pennsylvania. One year ago today, my husband, Tim, and I landed at our house with just our suitcases, our two dogs, and a couple of air mattresses until our moving van and household contents arrived the following day.

And, yikes, what a year it has been. If you can picture some of the dime store comic books of yesteryear, 2018 smacked us across the faces with a larger-than-life "Ka-Pow" like a Batman and Robin adventure.

To be candid, it's been one of the most difficult years of my life and definitely one of the most challenging of our married life together. The day our moving van arrived to load up our belongings in Pennsylvania during a torrential downpour, my father-in-law was hospitalized in Illinois. He died within a month. Shortly after our arrival in Tennessee, our oldest dog and my field painting companion, Maple, was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia, severely limiting her mobility.

Even before we officially moved in, there was the menace of the old house we bought. Prior to our official arrival in May, the air handler unit over the kitchen leaked, and condensation poured into the kitchen ceiling over a period of weeks while we were blissfully unaware and wrapping up the sale of our home in Pennsylvania. We fixed that upon our arrival, but the year rolled on and we soon realized that we were painfully naive about old house ownership. For every one thing we knew would need repair, there were at least two additional issues, everything from an old, buried fuel oil tank to a full property length retaining wall that had to be replaced after record rainfall in February, right on down to a leaky shower that had rotted the joists of the first floor over a period of years. Truly, throughout this past year, there has not been one single week without a contractor to our house to repair or replace something. And late last year, my Dad was briefly hospitalized following a series of mild heart attacks. He has recovered, thankfully, but I think you get the general idea of why this transition has been a bumpy one.

I was of mixed mind about moving to Tennessee. I wanted a new adventure, I just wasn't sure that I could see myself in Tennessee (aka, the South). After a year here, I'm starting to "see" myself better in Tennessee. I've begun to discover some beautiful parks and scenery, plus I like the city of Knoxville because there's much more to do here than there was in central Pennsylvania. And, of course, 2018 was not all bad. We enjoyed some fantastic performances by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and attended some great shows at the gorgeous Tennessee Theater. In addition, the downtown farmer's market is a wonderful destination throughout the growing season.

Oh, and our old house? Welp, she's in much better shape than she was a year ago. Uff dah!

Nonetheless, I'm intent on making this second year in Tennessee calmer and better. I'm starting with a renewed focus on my artwork. Because my studio is in our home, the non-stop parade of repair people and contractors has been extremely disruptive to my work and creativity. I'm looking forward to exhibiting my artwork at a couple of upcoming outdoor art shows in the next few weeks, and then I'm taking most of this summer off just to hunker down in my studio and paint, in peace.

I'm very excited about this.

I'm looking forward to plowing more energy into my painting while exploring some changes in my painting style. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Lights, Camera...

This past week, East Tennessee PBS reached out to me and came to my studio to interview me about my artwork for their program, "Tennessee Life." What a fun day!

It's always gratifying when others take an interest in what we do, and I appreciated the opportunity to share more with them about my artwork as part of a larger program they're producing to feature east Tennessee landscapes and cityscapes.

The program producer, Stephanie Aldrich, and her camera man, Brudd, hauled all of their lights, cameras, and production equipment up to my studio in the second floor of our home and set up for a wide-ranging interview about my background, current work including my painting series of "Thirty from Tennessee," and how I landed in Knoxville last summer. We even ventured outdoors for a brief stop along the Tennessee River to see how I set up for my plein air field work. Luckily, we finally had a day without rain (!).

The interview segment will air during the third weekend in April, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all comes together. I'll post a link to their YouTube channel when it's available. I'm grateful for this opportunity and I hope it will be the first of many steps in introducing my artwork to Tennessee as my husband and I continue to settle into Knoxville following our relocation from Pennsylvania last summer.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

In the Naturalist Tradition

This past weekend I took my first class at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, a non-profit research and teaching organization located within the national park. I'm determined to make friends with my new surroundings in eastern Tennessee, and as part of this process I've decided to pursue training at the institute to become a certified Southern Appalachian Naturalist.

I kicked things off in this pursuit with an initial offering in Naturalist Skills. It was fun! The core emphasis of the class was the importance of slowing down and taking time to notice and document your observations. As an artist, I'd like to think that I already do this by default. But I learned that I still have more discipline to cultivate in this regard. And along the way I learned some interesting things such as the presence of different micro climates within tenths of a mile along a hiking trail, resulting in very distinct flora and fauna. All of these years that I've been hiking into the woods and painting en plein air and I never appreciated this nuance before.

Later this year I'll take additional classes about mammals and aquatic natural history. I'm so stoked! As someone who's currently pretty ignorant about woodland ecology, I believe that taking these classes will give me greater insight into my new environment and inform my landscape paintings. I'm excited about the year ahead and I look forward to sharing more with you about the interesting tidbits I learn.

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. You can also visit my web site to see the full series in progress.