Friday, July 14, 2023

What's Your 20? Study, Crossroads


Study, Crossroads

Study, Crossroads
12 x 12 inch oil on panel

Study, Crossroads, a plein air landscape, is the second addition to my "What's Your 20?" series of works to celebrate my 20th anniversary of working as a professional artist. I painted this subject on location in East Tennessee, and it drew my interest because of how it evoked my childhood in southern Wisconsin: A towering, cloud-studded sky over a vast landscape. 

This subject was indeed at a rural crossroad, but the title has a more nuanced meaning for me. It's been one helluva summer here in Tennessee. My Dad has been in and out of the hospital, dodging death a couple of times. I've tried to help both him and my Mom as best as I can, and sometimes it's difficult to come back to my easel and paint. When I got out to this location, I felt the inexorable pull between youth and, shall we say, NOT youth? 

It's been an emotional summer. I was very happy to have the opportunity to work outside in such a beautiful location to capture this magical moment. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

What's Your 20? A new series of paintings....

Winter Haven

This year is my 20th anniversary working as a 
full-time professional artist!

And, oh, the stories that I could tell you. I've met so many wonderful people through my profession, both interested patrons and fellow artists. It's still the greatest source of joy for me when someone chooses to invest in a painting that I created. 

Along the way, I've made plenty of mistakes -- everything from leaving home without an essential part of my show display to putting the hanging wire onto a piece upside down. I've felt the lowest of lows, from disastrous outdoor art shows marred by terrible weather (hurricane rainfalls, high winds, sleet, and more!) to having my cargo van vandalized. 

But I just keep going. That really is the secret sauce to all of this. As is having the help of my supportive husband, Tim. We don't always match at art shows, but sometimes there aren't many alternatives left in the suitcase during a trip (!)

As I mark this occasion, I look back and realize that my next outdoor art show, The Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this weekend has been in the making for the past couple of decades, as well as my lifetime. To celebrate this anniversary, I'm introducing a new series called, "What's Your 20?" Colloquially this shorthand expression is a way of asking, "What's your location?"

In this series of paintings, I'll share where I've been in my career by highlighting many of my favorite themes. I'll also foreshadow where I'm going, with some new ideas and fresh ways of seeing, as referenced by Picasso in his famous quote, "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."

"What's Your 20?" Kicks off with a new landscape from the Great Smoky Mountains, Winter Haven.

I chose this debut subject because it bridges my past with my present. Moreover, I believe one of my responsibilities as an artist is to showcase the beauty that surrounds us each day, even a cold day, and even in the midst of the challenging issues that confront us in our modern world.

From my earliest memories of ice skating -- wobbling around on the Yahara River in southern Wisconsin wearing my brothers' hand-me-down hockey skates -- right up to my present-day home in east Tennessee, winter is integral to my identity as an artist. It's a season of restoration, and nothing clarifies the contours of the land like a fresh, fluffy layer of snow, which -- incidentally -- is never "just white."

“What’s Your 20?” will continue now through the end of this year with a featured painting each month. 

Friday, March 17, 2023

A Difficult Goodbye

Plein air painting in central Pennsylvania

Earlier this week, my husband and I said goodbye to our beloved dog of nearly twelve years, Maple.

While still a puppy, Maple was abandoned to an almost certain death in the woods of central Pennsylvania until she was found by a good samaritan who brought her to an animal shelter. Even when we adopted her months later, you could still count every rib on her because she was so malnourished. 

Staking a claim to the map of the world and my world

With that rough start, Maple was severely under socialized when we brought her home. She was afraid of her own shadow, birds, and had a difficult time understanding rainfall. She was extremely anxious. Multiple remote controls, ball point pens, wooden furniture, and more fell victim to her compulsive chewing. 

Lounging in the studio, behind my easel

I didn't think she could grow into a worthy pet and companion. Indeed, some of the worst fights my husband and I ever had in our nearly 22-year marriage were about "that dog," who would often dart into my art studio, grab a colorful pastel stick, and then streak down the hallway, trailing nasty drool stained the same color as the pastel stick. 

Keeping a watchful eye on me while
plein air painting 

Maple taught me patience. She taught my humility. And she taught me that dogs are absolutely amazing. Within a couple of years, she became a wonderful companion, and I always felt at ease having her by my side on remote woodland hikes or plein air painting excursions. She became my beautiful studio mascot, and frequently kept me company while I worked long, solitary hours in my studio. 

The void in our home now is immense, exceeded only by the hole in my heart. We'll eventually adopt her successor. But for now, please give your own pet an extra measure of affection today in honor of Maple, whom I will always miss.