The great circle

Posted on Jul 24, 2019 in General

It’s been slightly over a year since I posted about what I anticipated would be a big shift in my work, and today I’ve posted some of the paintings from the past year. A little scary, making such a big change? Yes, but scarier still was the prospect of becoming stale and simply executing new versions of what I had done before. No growth or change = stagnation. It’s been very exciting (except for the day I discovered that all the gessoed panels I had prepared had been done incorrectly and had cracked irreparably) and it is a joy to NOT know what to expect. It’s another chapter in four decades of painting and a revitalization of my energy. At this moment I am rather grateful that the absence of art-related economic and career pressures have left me free to play without anxiety over the consequences.

Gatekeeper

2018

Casein and oil on panel

16 x 20 inches

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Changes

Posted on Apr 28, 2019 in General

For most of the past year, I’ve been engaged in an entirely new body of work that has absolutely nothing to do with Maine or the landscape, using different supports, a different kind of ground, applying various kinds of paint in a new way, combining elements of figuration, pattern, abstraction, etc. It might seem like a radical change, but I’m really just picking up on threads that I’ve followed on and off for over forty years – and stepping away from the landscape as a visual source. It is a response to last year’s trip to western Russia. The teacher comes when you are ready, as they say.

I’ve done a lot of experimenting with new materials and dug up some old ones (fun, with some disasters along the way – not fun), and breaking many of the “rules” I held to for landscape painting (also fun). There are few things more invigorating than experimentation when you suspect you’re not bringing anything fresh to the work. Painting feels rather mysterious again, unpredictable, and exciting.

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Making a great circle

Posted on Jul 5, 2018 in General

Among the visual influences from my college years that were among the most powerful, and continue now forty years later, are the paintings of Matisse and Russian icons.  I’ve been fortunate to see some amazing Matisse exhibitions over the years, including the fabulous MOMA retrospective 1n 1992.  I’ve taken some classes in icon painting in egg tempera, seen the stray icon here and there in museums, and visited the wonderful Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, MA.

It took all this time to finally get to the mother lode itself, Russia. My husband and I took a trip this past May to Moscow, towns of the Golden Ring, and St. Petersburg, and I was intoxicated and inundated by the wealth of icons, frescoed churches, Matisses, folk art, medieval architecture,  the collections of French art at the Pushkin Museum and the Hermitage, the Hermitage itself . . . for a painter who was looking for a visual jolt to shake her up, this was far more and better than I had imagined, though I’d been imagining this trip for decades.  It was Art Heaven, at least for this painter. I returned with my head stuffed with images.

Now – what to do with them? That is the mystery. I have to humbly allow myself to play, make mistakes, go down wrong roads, experience technical difficulties, have some moments that move me forward, and not have much of an idea what the end result may be.

But if you love art and have a chance to visit Russia, GO.

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Following the thread

Posted on Jul 28, 2017 in General

Over the past couple of years, I’ve found that I’ve become less attached to completing a painting on site. Now, it may be a matter of months until a painting seems resolved, and it takes much more work in the studio, away from the subject. I used to enjoy the challenge of going outdoors and saying what I had to say in one go, with perhaps only a few little tweaks afterwards – a fencing match with nature.  Now it feels more as if I must allow the painting time to tell me what it really wants.  It throws a little line to me, and I must catch it. The moment of closure is more open-ended, and frankly most of the time stopping and saying “it’s done” seems almost arbitrary and is usually because I just want to move on to something else. I have absolutely no idea whether this results in better paintings, but it feels more engaged to me. All of this has happened before over the forty years of my painting life. As I go on, I realize how much and how little I understand painting. Keeps things interesting, which is the point.

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Dropping the sack

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 in General

Self-promotion has never been one of my skills, and I’m a little envious of artists to whom it comes more naturally. I find it difficult to write an artist’s statement, because my paintings ARE my statement as far as I’m concerned. In a time when  lengthy and convoluted verbiage seems to have become almost a requirement for making art as well as writing about it, I fall into the dinosaur category. When I read a hefty socio-political statement of intention that suggests that the artist must be carrying the weight of the world on his/her shoulders upon entering the studio,  I’m reminded of Robert DeNiro lugging that heavy sack full of armor uphill into the rain forest in “The Mission”. Drop it, Bob!

I think visual art (for the most part) is not a particularly effective route to motivating people towards social change.  What is it good for? Another post, perhaps.

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Swiss Alps series

Posted on Apr 25, 2015 in General

Swiss Alps series

For the past six months I’ve been working on a series of paintings of the Alps using studies I made on a trip to Switzerland last August. This is a plan that’s been simmering in my brain since my last trip there twenty years ago and my last exhibit of Swiss landscapes in 1988. Interesting the changes that twenty years bring: a little less energy, a lot more painting experience, and a willingness to trust my own knowledge more and care about the outcome much less.

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