Looking back, Looking ahead
Hi Everyone, I hope the year in painting has been good for you! I wanted to share some of the highlights of my year. I always feel enormously blessed to be able to create my paintings and send them out into the world. Over the past twenty five years, I have established long-term relationships with some amazing galleries. Earlier this year I had an exhibition at the Hidell Brooks Gallery.
I created about 12 new works which were then installed in their beautiful space. I love having a Spring show on my calendar because Winter is one of my favorite times to paint. I enjoy the silence and the slower pace of life. There are Less distractions and I can hunker down in my studio and nurture my introverted self. Working in this focused way allows me to create a very interconnected group of paintings, and sometimes those connections don't become clear to me until I see the pieces curated through someone else's eyes. Below are some installation images.
I was also invited to participate in some exciting group exhibitions.
I was honored to have one of my paintings chosen for the historic exhibition, Arriving in Byrdcliffe 1902-2022, at the Kleinert James Gallery. Founded in 1902, the Byrdcliffe Art Colony is the oldest operating Arts and Crafts Colony the United States. It has around 30 historic buildings, including studios and summer cabins. Almost 20 years ago, I spent four years as a resident at Byrdcliffe in one of the year-round artist houses. Our house was called the Farmhouse and it was across the road from the beautiful barn that now houses the pottery studio. It is also the barn in which I was married during my residency, so Byrdcliffe holds my heart in a few different ways.
The light was ethereal and even though the spaces were sometimes cold and rustic, the magic of the adjacent Guardian Mountain prevailed. The charm overruled the loose stairs and shifting foundations. The history could be felt in the woods, the buildings and the worn pathways between the studios. I would often imagine the artists a hundred years ago carrying their easels and paints up the side of the mountain.
I made many paintings during this period that held glimpses of things to come in my later work. In these studios I was able to learn a lot about myself as an artist and create work that would be the foundation of my growing abstract language.
On the left are those artists I always imagined, and on the right is my studio in 2005. It just so happens that the painting on the shelf, "Hiloha" 48x36 is the painting that was included in the show. For an amazing overview of the history and artists of Byrdcliffe, CLICK HERE. This show included many notable artists: Milton Avery, Bolton Brown, Philip Guston, Zulma Steele and even Bob Dylan!
I was thrilled to receive an invitation to participate in the 40th edition of Small is Beautiful at the Flowers Gallery in London.
Flowers first introduced Small Is Beautiful in 1974, inviting a select group of contemporary artists working across various media to produce works at a fixed scale of no more than 7 x 9 inches. Since its inception, the show has provided a rare opportunity to showcase smaller pieces by internationally recognized names and discover new talents.
Small Is Beautiful is now conceived as an open invitation for artists to explore scale in relation to their own practice. Participating for the first time is Sean Scully, who this year also curated the
group show Hidden UK, Hidden Ireland at Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road.
This show is open until January 7th. So if you are out and about in London, be sure to stop by! Also, all of the pieces are represented online.
Here is another show that is near and dear to my heart. The Woodstock School of Art Instructors Exhibition. Partnering with the Lockwood Gallery, this beautiful show highlights the amazing and wide-ranging talent of the teachers at the school. A gem in our community, the school offers a variety of classes in drawing, painting, sculpture and printmaking. This show is open until December 17th.
This year I created two larger works (60x54) for the Carrie Haddad Gallery. As soon as the scale goes up, everything has to shift. The physicality of creating a painting as big as myself, can be both exciting and challenging. Bigger canvas, bigger shapes, and more paint, beckons for expansive ideas. The image on the right, Inside/Outside, became one of my favorite works of the year.
We all have rules in our head about our own painting, many times unconscious, other times quite obvious. As this painting developed, I kept saying, "that's too much green, I can not add more green." But the shape expanded and expanded. It was a big canvas, it wanted a big shape, and it happened to begin with green. It's silly to limit your painting self, but we do. And so another section was added, and another. So now it was big and dominant and heavy, and strong! I loved the way it took over really, hanging solid from the top. I loved the weight of it, and the amount of space it occupied. And although it was green, with some pink interspersed, it did not feel too pretty. It had an unexpected power, and all the complex shapes inside this bold form supported that feeling. I was happy to have ultimately ignored the negative chatter and to have allowed the painting come forth.
Two great summer art adventures: Art Omi and 'T' Space!
Art Omi was amazing! About a hour's beautiful car ride from my studio, this just can't be done in one day. The grounds are sprawling, with mown paths through fields of wild flowers, scattered with unexpected, monumental works around every bend.
Situated on one-hundred and twenty acres, Art Omi presents the works of contemporary artists and architects, and offers a range of large-scale works in nature, plus a 1,500 square foot gallery. The Sculpture & Architecture Park currently offers more than 60 works by artists and architects on view, with pieces added or exchanged each year.
We also visited 'T' Space which also is less than an hour drive from my studio. This is a very unique place. It is intimate and spare, where the works displayed interact beautifully with the natural light and architecture.
A 30-acre nature preserve where visitors can view and engage with sculptural installations, art exhibitions, and experimental architecture, 'T' Space, has an architectural archive and research library, poetry readings and musical performances by international and emerging artists.
We went to see the work of Suzan Frecon. This was her first solo show in the Hudson Valley, where she lives and works. It was indeed a meditative experience.
“I work until the paintings come near to their culminations. The painting starts to shift from being a picture (two-dimensional) to coming out into the space of the room with you. It starts to come off the walls.”
– Suzan Frecon
Looking back on my book purchases this year, these were my three of my favorites.
John Walker, Looking Out to Sea
This is a beautiful book full of vibrant images with an informative, inspiring text. New York art dealer Betty Parsons introduced John Walker to Maine in 1970. The paintings in this book are the works inspired by Seal Point in South Bristol Maine. Walker remembers, "It's always been an aspiration of mine to get the smell of Maine, the wetness, the dampness, the mud in my smelly, stinky cove.."
"The record shows that once Walker found his spot he also found an inexhaustible subject, one that he returns to summer after summer with unflagging enthusiasm and painterly powers..." Dive into this book, you'll love it!
Philip Guston, I Paint What I Want to See
You could read this straight through, or you could open it up anywhere, anytime, in your studio and it will put your head in just the right place to carry on with your work!
"...Philip Guston, one of the most revered and influential artists of the twentieth century, spoke about art with unparalleled frankness and commitment..."
Guston said something that really resonated for me. "It is the bareness of drawing that I like. The act of drawing is what locates, suggests, discovers. At times it seems enough to draw, without the distractions of color and mass. Yet it is an old ambition to make drawing and painting one. Usually, I draw in relation to my painting, what I am working on at the time. On a lucky day a surprising balance of forms and spaces will appear and I feel the drawing making itself, the image taking hold..."
Edmund de Waal, The Hare with the Amber Eyes
"Edmund de Waal is a world-famous ceramicist. Having spent thirty years making beautiful pots―which are then sold, collected, and handed on―he has a particular sense of the secret lives of objects. When he inherited a collection of 264 tiny Japanese wood and ivory carvings, called netsuke, he wanted to know who had touched and held them, and how the collection had managed to survive."
I have just finished this book so I am still living within it. An extraordinarily moving family memoir, filled with art history. The story is so meticulously and lovingly researched, that you feel as though you are in Paris in the 1800's, visiting the lavish art-filled apartments of Edmund de Waal's relatives, the walls hanging with Monet, Renoir and Manet among others. Then onward, moving forward through time to Vienna, Tokyo, and Odessa following the family, the Netsuke and catastrophic world events.
Interspersed throughout the story are wonderful passages like this where Edmund's own observations as an artist shine through. This particularly struck me, "House-watching is an art. You have to develop a way of seeing how a building sits in its landscape or streetscape. You have to discover how much room it takes up in the world, how much of the world it displaces." I think the same could be said for de Waal's pottery, or a painting. I was suddenly thrust into thinking about space in an unexpected way.
Here are a few things that I do to ground my studio practice in the new year.
Clean and organize my space.
Don't skimp on materials. Get yourself something delicious to add to your supplies! This flat file was both a goal and a big delicious supply, that I had needed for years. On the left is how I had been storing my works on paper. I did a lot of searching for the right size, price and quality and landed on the Hann Mobile Paper Storage Cart, from Dick Blick. My studio looked so much better, and I felt like I had elevated the importance of my works on paper.
I always make a list of painting goals for the year. It's a brainstorming session, and I definitely don't have to accomplish it all. Sometimes the same goal gets put on the list year after year, and that's ok too. Sometimes I even have a theme for the year, like "The Sky's the Limit!"
Here are some examples:
- Complete a certain number of works
- Make a studio schedule/how many hours a week?
- Submit to exhibitions
- Get that flat file
- Pursue gallery representation. Research galleries of interest
- Try a new idea; use a color that's not my go-to. Try a circular canvas.
- Reach out and find other artists to connect with.
- Be fearless with my work
- See an important show or travel to an arts destination.
- Don't bring the phone into the studio.
The goals can be all over the place, big or small, but I put them all down on paper without editing myself. I can review them and modify during the year. If I'm really ambitious, I make a one-year plan and a five-year plan. That gives me time to grow and think big!
I hope you've enjoyed this spin through the painting year. Wishing you all the best with your work!
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