It is officially Spring. Finally. Who knew a winter could last so long or be so cold. I love winter and all it brings- festive holidays, snow and fires in the woodstove, clear skies and pale colors, but it creates challenges as well. This winter in particular it has been just too cold to paint outside, despite my system of insulated coveralls, fingerless gloves, and fleecy hats. I usually try to brave the weather, but when it’s so cold that your oil paints freeze, you know it’s time to try something else. And for me that something else meant painting in the studio. A new challenge and one that I haven’t tackled in a long time. But, as usually happens, breaking habits and taking on something new turned out to be both exciting and informative. I learned many new skills over the past few months- how to invent, how to work from photos in an engaging as opposed to stiff way, how to work on paintings longer and build up multiple layers as opposed to my typical Alla Prima approach. It has been enriching and the work as grown because of it. However, I can’t wait to get back outside. The smell of wet dirt, the buds starting to glow red on the maple trees, the new warmth in the sunlight. It is all so invigorating. Check back to see the new pieces and for info on my upcoming show in May!
Someone walked into my studio the other day, took one look at this painting, and said “Is that the James in downtown Richmond? Near Belle Isle Maybe?” It is, in fact, exactly that view. For me, to have someone recognize such a specific location in my work is the highest compliment. I am always striving, even in the loose suggestiveness of my interpretations, to pinpoint something known. A place that you can put your finger on, that triggers memories and associations. If I can do that, I have done my job.
I have a new exhibition opening tomorrow, October 4th. My second in three months and, needless to say, it has been a race, at times frantic, to complete everything on time. However, the benefits of the pressure and what I learned about painting as a result of the tight schedule have been worth the stress. Usually, I wrap up a body of work for a show at the pinnacle of my creative flow, and then let down when it’s completed. Inevitably, my favorite paintings are often the last few that I tackle, and when I start again after a break I feel like I’ve taken a few steps back and have to get into a rhythm again. However, this summer I literally did not have time to stop and dove headlong into a new series without a breather. As a result, I kept building on what I learned in the first body of work and discovered things and made leaps I would otherwise have missed. So although my brain, and brushes, are fried, I am satisfied and excited by the new work. I hope you enjoy, and see something fresh and new, in this show- “Surveying Light.” Opening reception from 7:00 to 9:00 on October 4th at Page Bond Gallery in Richmond, Virginia.
A week vacation at the beach provides an opportunity to paint something new. Coming from the summer green and rolling landscape of central Virginia, the flat, open marshes of the coast present new challenges. The light is softened by water ladened air, the palette a range of blues not found at home. In this landscape, the sky dominates. Reflecting off the water, it fills the whole scene, creating an inviting openness of lost horizons and long views.
Spring has Sprung! I’ve been enjoying the slow progression of this year’s Spring; appreciating how the seasons make us more aware of our surroundings. We notice change. Changes in color, light, form. The differences from each day to the next keep us grounded in the present and help me connect more deeply with my little corner of the world. There is nothing like Spring in Virginia.
While many painters look to other painters for inspiration, I have always felt a deeper connection to the written word. Somehow, the translation of words on a page into images in my mind offers fresher, truer new ideas than looking at the work of other artists. Perhaps because I resist the temptation to imitate. I know that the images evoked by stories are unique to my perception of the world. Also, stories move. The narration is constantly unfolding, never stagnate. And because my work in so rooted in movement, I connect to that type of interaction with a scene. Whatever the multifaceted reasons are, it works for me. And nothing works better than reading Eudora Welty. I’ve just finished “One Writer’s Beginning” and heartily recommend this lovely memoir to anyone interested in the creative process, whatever your media- painting, writing, music, all of it. Or to anyone who loves “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Welty invites us to relive the beauty of seeing the world through a child’s eyes, just as Harper Lee does in her classic novel. Enjoy! It is a rare treat.