Friday, March 29, 2013

"Adirondack Still Life"

From the "Time Stands Still" show, Petit Library

"Adirondack Still Life" is the only painting in this show done in pastels, and the only painting based on Adirondack imagery. The inspiration was Boy Scout Camp Sabattis, located near Long Lake, NY. The painting was based on a photo taken by my husband when he spent a few days at BS Camp with one of our sons. But, the colors are all mine! I loved working with the dark purples blues and reds in the shadows. This is still one of my favorite paintings.



One of my memories from youth is of a little boat trip that I took with my dad and my brother. My Dad always had an old boat motor tucked into the corner of our garage. It was an old black Evinrude; I have no idea what the horsepower was and it doesn't matter, because the motor never really went anywhere.

My dad had inherited the motor from his dad, who probably had a buddy with a boat. (hey, I've got a boat, you've got a motor, let's go fishin') Well, my dad didn't have a buddy with a boat, so the motor basically sat in a corner of the garage gathering dust.

One year we rented a camp on Tully Lake. As luck would have it, the camp came with a rowboat, but no motor. So my dad brought the motor to camp for the week, attached it to the boat and after several attempts to start it (accompanied by streams of colorful words that I shouldn't use here....) the boat started. We made a couple of trips around the lake and then decided to explore a little. There was another very small lake accessible by a very narrow, weedy channel which we were dying to get a look at.

The channel was rather shallow and my dad had to pull the motor up out of the water so it wouldn't get caught in the weeds. We floated through and took a quick look, not much to see, so we turned around to head back to camp. Now the fun begins. We had floated easily through the channel on our way in, but seemed to have much more trouble on our way out. I guess there must have been a small current working against us.

Aside from the channel being weedy and narrow, there was also a bridge of some sort spanning over it. The bridge was very low, adding to the overall claustrophobic feel. We couldn't rely on the motor, the water was much too shallow and weedy. So my dad planned to use the oars to paddle us through, which would have been a great idea if the channel hadn't been so narrow. The oars in the extended position for rowing were much wider than the channel, so my dad decided that he would stand up and use the oars to pole us through. Well, that would have been a good idea if the bridge had been about 2 feet higher. There wasn't enough room for my dad to stand up, but plenty of room for a 9 year old and a 5 year old, guessed it, my brother and I stood up, and poled us through the channel, all of us laughing like crazy over our big adventure!

This painting brings me back to that day so long ago. The red cushions on the seat are based on the old boat cushions we used. A few years ago, I found the old cushions in the basement of my parents' house. They were really old and smelled musty, but I brought the cushions up to my camp, I guess just for a sense of continuity.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Wooded Cove"

This was one of the first paintings done from the lake. Down in the narrows, we have several places where boats lie gracefully at rest, waiting for their next trip to that oh so secret spot, where all the big fish hide. Each time I paddle through with my kayak the boats are sitting in a slightly different arrangement, so they must be giving the fish a run for their money...or maybe vice-versa. I loved painting this scene on the large canvas. The area is very wooded, so the surrounding water is as green as the landscape. I underpainted in warm reds, letting quite a bit of the underpainting show through to add a dynamic quality to the overall piece. The scene is tranquil, but the colors are vibrant.

"On the Grass Lake Overlook Trail"

This is the third painting I have done from this vantage point. The text below is taken from a previous post describing the inspiration for the painting Grass Lake Still Life, a painting that I sold several months ago. Since the subject matter and vantage point are the same, I thought I would just revisit those words. While hiking along one of the Indian River Lakes Conservancy Trails, I came upon an absolutely beautiful, and totally unknown to me, view of Grass Lake. I think the scene took me by surprise. I usually photograph and/or paint the lake from the vantage point of my kayak or canoe, or from our dock. My husband and I have explored the various little bays and fingers of the lake, the islands, and the shallow weedy areas at the very end of the lake where the loons nest... at least as far back as we were able to kayak. But exploring the lake from the trails above, and at the end of November when so much of the vegetation has died gives one a whole new perspective on the lake. The stillness was extraordinary. The leaves were gone, the summer wildlife had fled to warmer climates or burrowed into warm winter nests. The scene before me seemed to be of a peaceful wilderness, getting ready for its winter nap. I later created this watercolor based on the photos I had taken that day and the memory of the peaceful stillness.

"Heading for the River"

"Heading for the River" was the subject of a tutorial which I used with my acrylic painting students this past winter. Often I begin a painting in class to demonstrate a specific technique, and then bring the painting home to my studio. Often during the course of the week I finish the painting so that when I see my students again, the painting has been completed. Unfortunately, when I do this the students miss several of the steps along the way. Creating a step-by-step tutorial helps the students see the changes that take place as a painting evolves. The tutorial ended up being about 12 pages long, with lots of photos interspersed throughout. I printed the pages and mounted the whole tutorial on a display board. I also emailed a pdf of the tutorial to each student so that they can refer to it when needed. This painting is based on a photo taken in October, late in the afternoon near the St. Lawrence River. I was intrigued by the shapes created by the clouds in the sky and shadows on the land.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A post from a fellow Penwomen

This is a "guest post" from a fellow Penwomen, Rachael Ikins. Rachael is a writer and an artist. You can read an excerpt from her book below and see some samples of art work as well. The Owl design on the cover of the book and on the mug is by Rachael; the painting of the barn was done by Rachael's mother. From the chapter entitled "The Messenger" from the upcoming book to be released, " The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods" (Icarus Aloft: SLM Bookworks, Selkirk, NY) by Rachael Ikins: ".....Next to their cottage stood a weather-beaten barn. It sheltered Merthwyn’s workshop, a dozen hens led by a majestic striped rooster who went by the name of Papi and a black pot bellied pig named Pucky. His nose disc sported a pink dot and his hooves, four white socks....." The oil painting illustration is by RoseMarie S. Langley. She happens to be 88, previously unpublished though she majored in art at Syracuse University in the 1940s. She is my mother. With her, I combed the woods and fields of my childhood at our summer camp 10 miles out West Lake Road in Skaneateles, 60 acres of pristine forest, field and lake shore ever in search of faeries, witches and other magical creatures. The barn in her college painting stood up next to our driveway. Once we drove past that barn, station wagon crammed full of pets, kids, food, suitcases and dreams for a summer of 8 weeks in the wild, we knew we'd almost arrived. Many of the protagonists in The Complete Tales are elder members of a society. The above quote is from the chapter, also published by Aurora Wolf Literary Journal in 2010 and a winner of a third place award in that year's Rebecca Eddy Memorial Writing Contest , as short fiction, introduces us to one of the book's most entertaining individuals, Gabriella. She is a retired messenger dragon troubled with myopia or nearsightedness. She lives a depressed and lonely life on the far side of Fire Mountains in her cold, messy cave. Constantly she removes her goggles, which were made to help her see better, and sets them down on piles of stuff. Only to find herself bleary eyed and desperately searching for the very goggles she cannot see to find. Against all odds, as can happen to any of us on any given day, she awakens one morning to a surprise: the desperate ultrasonic and magical broadcast "SAVE THE BABIES! SAVE THEM NOW!" She imagines some young dragon rocketing off a cliff to rescue whoever these babies might be. Still the message blares on. Her head aches with the noise. She wonders will nobody respond? Is there no dragon out there to answer it? And then, and then... she realizes something she had long ago forgotten. The dragon who hears the message is the one who is to answer the call. Stiff and clumsy, wings floppy from disuse, none the less, Gabriella musters herself to fly. She stuffs her mail pouch, which is on the front of her belly like a kangaroo's, with sweet Timothy grass to keep the babies warm, once she has them safely inside it. Goggles jump into her paws for once, and heart pounding as she teeters on the lip of her cave in the sunset, ready to vault into the clouds and stars, she marvels at the beauty detailed beneath her. She harbors tiny bit of doubt and anxiety that she will get lost and confused. among once familiar constellations and skyways, because it has truly been a very long time. But then, on faith, she unfurls her great gorgeous wings and thinks to herself, "I may fail, but at least I will go out trying if I do." April 30, Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. come to Canastota Public Library to hear Rachael read from The Complete Tales, to meet both author and publisher. To share tasty treats, fine literature and maybe to find out what happens next, to learn how the barn enters Gabriella's story...
"Sittin' in the Shade" This painting was inspired by a relatively quiet moment at YMCA Camp Iroquois. At the end of each summer the camp becomes ART CAMP. Campers have the opportunity to experience drawing, painting, clay and music...sometimes even drama, as well as swimming, boating etc. It's always a high energy week for kids and the teachers too! Well, when I snapped the picture for this scene everyone had left for the day. I walked down to the waterfront and spotted the canoes resting up for the night in anticipation of another busy day tomorrow. The rowboat which always seems to be resting on the other side of the lake at its' narrowest point was nicely framed by the canoes and the trees in the foreground. When I took the picture I was intrigued by the serenity of the sun-dappled scene. Later transferring the scene to canvas, I enjoyed "finding" the color in the neutral areas like the ground and the aluminum canoes. Areas that usually are just brown or just grayish present so many opportunities to play with color, as a means to try to achieve the value needed, but not necessarily the actual local color.

North Country Autumn

There is nothing like the Fall in the North Country! The colors are stunning! And because we know we are in for a long, cold winter we appreciate the vibrant colors, the crisp air and the hint of a woodstove taking the chill off an October morning. In this painting the Fall colors are at their peak. I was using this as a demo piece in one of my acrylic painting classes. The lesson for that day was in painting skies and water and of course reflections in the water. I had great fun creating the abstractions made by the ripples in the water.
In preparation for my show "Time Stands Still" I have been gathering my artwork into a corner of my basement and my blog posts into a printable file on my computer. Since many of my posts have to deal with the paintings, I thought it would be a logical step to include the posts in the show to accompany the artwork. The show after all is being held in a we must have some readers there! Over the past few years my blog has evolved into a teaching device which I use with my adult students in the YMCA Arts Studio in Fayetteville. Many of the posts will deal with the elements and principles of design; others will offer a glimpse of what motivated me to paint the picture. The paintings in this exhibit all deal with nature. The places we return to year after year where time seems to have stood still: the lakes, the rivers, the mountains and the woods; the much needed refuges from modern life. Here we are provided with a sense of peace and tranquility. The daily pressures disappear and we stop moving long enough to feel the heartbeat of nature and the cycle of the seasons. We find that indeed time has not stood still, but finally we have. The more time spent in the company of nature the more we grow to be part of it. And as we become more a part of nature, the more protective we become of our resources. In 2007, my husband and I bought a camp in the Indian Rivers Lakes Region. Time spent at camp and in the nearby Thousand Islands has provided an endless source of inspiration for my artwork. And also a sense of ownership and responsibility for the resources in the region. It is wise to remember the Native American proverb "Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents,it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children". It is my hope that in each of these paintings I have captured a moment where time has stood still, at least long enough for us to appreciate the natural beauty of our area and to insure that it remains as beautiful for future generations. "Time Stands Still" April 2 - 30 Petit Library, 105 Victoria Place Syracuse NY Opening reception April 6, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Friday, March 1, 2013

On the Eagle Marsh Trail

This painting is based on some photos taken on a winter hike with the Indian River Lakes Conservancy in January 2012. I began the painting a few weeks after the hike intending to use it as a demo for my Acrylic Painting class at the Y last winter. I never really finished the piece and it kept getting moved farther and farther back into my storage space in the studio. Finally one day I pulled it out of the storage space. By then it was winter again, and I was again teaching acrylics, so I figured it was time to finish the painting, especially when I realized that I had already gone on the 2013 Winter Hike with the Conservancy. High time to finish that painting from 2012 and starts this year's scene! I just framed the painting yesterday with a nice dark brown frame which really brings out the color of the trees in the foreground. And incidentally, those trees have very little actual brown in them; they are mostly combinations of several colors which "read" as brown.