Friday, November 27, 2009


HOUSE and 32 acres FOR SALE
In Fletcher, near Fairfax. House built 1937-38. Hardwood floors. 4 Bedrooms. Needs work.
Current owner/resident is indigent artist whose family land this has been since 1867. New furnace, new chimney lining, roof new about 5 years ago. Excellent spring water.

Large studio/workspace attached to house with heat and double-door entry.

Listed with Paul Clark, 802-598-4553 (Lang McLaughry Spera, MLS#2912808).

Friday, October 16, 2009

When the going gets tough . . .

. . . the tough go into business!

Two days in a sweatshop, where you get fired if you are caught sitting down while waiting, will either kill you or provide adrenalin. I got the adrenalin.

There is a new business in Vermont. In Franklin County. (Only a couple of artists would have the temerity to start an "art" business in this economy!)

Here's the link where you can see our buttons: ART BUTTON WORKS.

The first official display will happen Saturday, the 17th of October at the Farmers' Market in Taylor Park, St. Albans.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Making It In Vermont - Jay Hathaway

I usually wait to calm down before I write on an awful subject, but the tears are still in my eyes. Vermont has lost it's main mover and shaker in our cultural affairs.

Jay Hathaway was a man who did what he said he would. If he weren't, the many things he's done would never be.

I met him three times. The first in a two hour bar conversation in Montpelier during the Art of Action doings in January. And later again in Montpelier at a VAC meeting. The last time was in Richmond a couple of weeks ago where we both, along with everyone else in attendance, were over the moon about the display of AOA art that was spread across the sunlight-dappled wood of the Monitor barn. We just hugged and grinned at each other.

It was in the Montpelier bar that I first heard about his slogan idea that titles this post. He was so excited about the double entendre of scrabbling to get by AND creating anything in Vermont.

His enthusiasm was infectious--like a master teacher. And his subject was Vermont, Manchester, the arts--at any given time in any given order. And he did make it in Vermont.

It is the rare person who can mark me as soon and as deeply as Jay Hathaway did. I cried this morning as if I'd loved him my whole life. This is a terrible loss for Vermont and the arts.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Long Hiatus to be Even Longer

No news is bad news.

Have been looking for work and finally have been reduced to a temp service. And, in St. Albans, the only temp work is factory work. Have had one day of it, and could barely move on Saturday.

Will try it again on Monday, but I don't hold out much hope for its continuance. The $8.00/hour is not enough incentive to offset the pain. Factory work to me meant line-work. But this is not that and there is not a chair or stool in sight. So, from a sedentary work style to one of on-your-feet-all-day is a real show-stopper.

The only bright moments are the few where I can practice calligraphy for a class at the Open Doors programs for St. Albans City Schools (god, I hope it makes!) and those when I go to the Bishop Street Artists group on Thursday mornings. The desperate need for money blocks all creative thoughts--they just don't happen.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My One-day Vacation

No two weeks in Hawaii, or whatever destination constitutes one's idea of a vacation in paradise could match my one-day wonder.

This is the entrance to The Clark Institute of Art in Williamstown, Massachusetts. A red granite respository of almost unending visual excitement. And, I was there. I was there for this:
Ever since Jayne Shoup (Vermont Pastel Artist in Middlesex) called my attention to the work of Arthur Dove after looking at my work earlier in this blog, I've been getting deeper and deeper into what he was doing. And then, after she went to this exhibit, she told me about it. I was determined to go because, by then, I'd already read a great deal about him and had resigned myself to the fact that, at my age, I would never see his work in the flesh.

Yesterday was the day. A day I'll be recovering from for a very long time. There will be more about it in upcoming posts, but for now, while it is wholly undigested, I at least wanted to give a heads up to any Vermont artists in the southern part of the state. Go there; it's up through 7 September. See this work-- Dove and early O'Keeffe. And, as lagniappe, there's a massive display of Sol Lewitt's work right next door in North Adams at Mass MOCA.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Announcement: Gallery Showing

Since I paid money for postcards and stamps to send out an announcement, it suddenly occurred to me that I should, for free, announce it here! (duh)

I've now officially "come out" as a painter. Nervous and excited, but very glad that I am where I am. So, there are now two of me at the STAART Gallery (edit 2011: gallery no longer in existence): these and a section of my black and white Vermont photographs.

The Opening Reception is Friday, August 14, 2009, 6-8 p.m. at 42 South Main St., St. Albans, Vermont. The Gallery Announcement is here.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Two Days of Art in Burlington!

Last Thursday I collected on my investment of $75 that I used to register for Sean Dye's class in Oil Pastels at the Holbein Art Event at the Hampton Inn in Colchester.

The profit was magnificent. Something folks can rarely say these days about most of their monetary investments!! Not only did I learn a good deal about oil pastels, but I also had the dubious pleasure of working at a size much larger than my normal 4" x 6"!

He is a marvelous and approachable teacher.

And, it was because of him that I took a deep breath (a beer would have been preferable) and plunked down an actual credit (not debit) card to sign up for an all-day class with another Vermont artist--Jean Carbonetti. As my first class in watercolor, this was a home run. Again, the pain of working larger meant that nothing I did in the class was anywhere near successful, but what I learned and what I'm eager to pursue is incredibly exciting. One of the things I learned was something I've been mucking about with on my own--with limited success: achieving depth with watercolor. This particular class was titled Painting with Light.

Like Sean, Jeanne is an excellent and generous teacher. Both are associated with Black Horse Fine Art Supply in South Burlington, an art store that should be the supply destination of every Chittenden County artist!

Expressive Realism

Working with watercolor offers opportunities for acceptance or rejection with almost every brush stroke. The fluidity of this medium, which seems to have a mind of its own, fascinates me. It seems to want to create atmospherics on its own. And, I accept this willingly.

Gathering Storm - 4" x 6" - Watercolor on paper.

To Purchase

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fletcher to Enosburg and Back

Last weekend I made a round-trip to Enosburg Falls on each of two days. Since I was not driving, I was free to soak in the passing scenes. I was struck by the incredible splendor of the roadsides in bloom. The greenery of the road edges was diapered with tiny bits of white, yellow, and lavender, showing off against the backdrop of the greens of corn or hay. The variegated clouds in the sky made the colors seem even brighter.

Splendors in the Grass - 4" x 6" - Acrylic on paper.

To Purchase


In an earlier post I included images of the old peach apple tree at the end of my house. It was described there as being a source for my "painted tree".

Because it has been so enduring, I owe it a showing of its June glory and a little story of its past integration into my life:

When I was a child, this old tree provided my little second cousin and myself a supply of ammunition as I taught him to throw apples on a stick--likely now a moribund Vermont pastime for children. (My mother did this as a child, and taught me, under the same tree.)

For those of you unfamiliar with this skill, you sharpen the end of a stiff stick with your jack knife, pick up a downer and skewer it with the stick. You then haul the stick as far behind you as your arm will reach an launch the apple into the air, achieving a much greater distance than you could with your small arm alone. (Incidentally, as I think about it now, we were no doubt providing lagniappe for the deer that wandered through the meadow where our missiles landed.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sap Green

This was done about two weeks ago, the day after I received a tube of Old Holland Sap Green. It was a new color and I dove into it, along with my standard Prussian Blue and Hooker's Green.

Blue Storm - 4" x 6" - Acrylic on paper.

To Purchase

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Marking of Time

This image is of the Fairfield barn that gave birth to my "Rural" Vermont series. The barn looked like this in January of 2008.

This is how it looks in July 2009. For me, it is painful to look at and to photograph. It was a
glorious structure and its subsidence is a "terrible beauty".

Sunday, July 12, 2009

NEWS! First Painting Sold for $3

. . . the biggest $3 I've ever received in my life.

Which now results in a long post with no pictures:

In yesterday's mail was a notice that said a small
exhibition where I was going to show my paintings
for the first time (end of July) was canceled
because there was not enough interest from other
artists in participating. That had been a major
iron in the fire for me and now it was gone. I sunk
myself into the couch and, thoroughly depressed,
ended up in a hour-long nap.

A few hours after this, I went in to St. Albans
to tend the STAART gallery from 4-6 because
my friend Ellen had a gig in Greensboro so she
couldn't finish her whole gallery stint.

It was pouring down rain there and I was settling in
for a quiet two hours of mucking about with watercolor
when a whole herd of folks walked in -- 4 adults in the
25-35 something range with a baby, and two older adults.

They meandered and then the older couple (from Boston)
stopped at the counter where my stuff was spread out,
indicating some kind of interest. So I flipped open
the cigar box with all my watercolors in it and asked
the guy if he painted. He said a little, but nodded
toward his wife, who was looking at my colors and saying
"yes" about an interest in colors.

I remembered that I had a cheap little photo album where
I keep the things that are going to be for sale as
one-of-a-kind postcards. I whipped it out of my pocket
while talking about making things that people would buy
and flipped the pages. She said she wanted to see, so
I flipped through it more slowly.

Several times they murmured approval with a couple of,
"interesting, let me see" and the like, while I'm babbling
on about colors, etc.

Then she said, "Can I buy that one? And will you sign it?"

This caught me completely off guard as I had only that
morning been making labels for them; I was planning on
taking pictures of them this week as I'll be selling them
in the park next Saturday.

I pointed to the two prominent colors in it as I babbled on about
them--Vermilion and Hooker's green. She asked what the
background wash was: Prussian Blue.

I was jumping up and down and telling her how incredibly exciting
this was for me because it was the first painting I'd sold.
I said I needed to know her name. She seemed a bit hesitant,
but wrote out her name in a URL on my scratch paper.

So, I sold it to her for $3 and told her I didn't have
a picture of it. She said she'd send me a jpg if I sent
her my email address.

I then told her that I'd come at painting from an obsession with
color and pushed Ball's Bright Earth across the counter to her,
while saying that I was now into my second reading of it.
She flipped through it and wrote the info in her notebook.

As they left, she said, "Keep on."

I immediately jumped on the internet and when her resume
came up I nearly fell off the stool.

Out of deference to her, I am not including the link without
her permission. I'm at the bottom, she's at the top and I
understand what might be a reluctance for the link.

So, I'm over the moon (a Jaune Brillant #1 one, to be sure) on this.

And, ever so deliciously, I'm savoring the glow from my
three Boston dollars! And, even more deliciously, the
source of those dollars.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Moonlight in Vermont

After a couple of depressing weeks, I've managed to get myself back. I forced myself out of the house to go to The Studio Store in Johnson to buy a tube of paint. It worked. (The paint served not quite the same purpose as the pencil did in Virginia Woolf's Street Haunting, but similar.)

I mucked with my colors when I came back, and the next day got this onto a small stretched canvas (garage sale reclamation). It's number 4, I think, in my Moonlight in Vermont series. And, every time I work on this project, I curse the modern cars that are now endowed with the inability to turn off the headlights.

There is a stretch of straight road just as I turn off Route 104 whenever I come home from St. Albans. At least once a year, when the moon was bright and I happened to be coming home that way at night, I used to turn off my headlights as I made that turn, and drive for a bit in a moonlit world. It always gave me a few moments of deep pleasure. And, now, no more.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Art that rivets . . .

and then leaves you depressed.

This is theatrical art I'm speaking of. By chance this morning, this dreary morning, unable to work online because of the weather, and out of the painting frame of mind, I switched on the television. And picked up The Deadly Affair 15 minutes into it.

And, there were James Mason and Simone Signoret in a living room. Minutes of
silence, small movements of making tea, of sitting down, and the halting
beginnings of an awkward conversation.

I was riveted. And, when the scene ended, I came to, and realized that these two were not the people in the living room, but rather artists caught in the act of creation.

And, close upon that realization came the thought, "This is why I rarely care about going to the movies any more." In this world of the 24-hour news cycle and the "next big thing" (which comes about 15 minutes after the "last big thing")--the stature of "greatness" has become quite small indeed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Growing Rural Urban Collection

This blog is schizophrenic or bi-polar or whatever, but I just don't want to split it into photography and painting because, for me, it all hangs together. So now I jump to the black and white side of my brain.

And, if I can't afford to get my images printed and framed, at least I can show them here!

On the Edge of Town

This one was a real piece of timing luck with the light. It's in Enosburgh Falls this spring. So now my list of "Urbans" includes, St. Albans, Morrisville, Randolph, and Enosburgh Falls. Slowly but surely it grows. I've been mucking about with my Randolph images that I shot at the end of February, and think there will be a couple of keepers.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Leap Forward - with provenance

I didn't post following Charlie's Art Train #1 because I had to shoot a relative's 80th Birthday Party that same evening (Saturday, June 6, 2009) in Essex--and then recover--and then deal with some 300 images. BUT, there was an undercurrent running swiftly in my sub-conscious.

My attempt at plein air watercolor was an inspiring failure--a big chunk of it was macadam -- and I obviously don't know how to handle that. The hills weren't too bad, but the sky, which I'm usually good at was not so hot -- the sun was hot, and I had not before dealt with very fast-drying paint! Hence the crappy sky.

BUT, back on the train I was able to see Susan Abbott's painting of some industrial buildings and, because it wasn't finished, the underlying rough lines of the sketch. I would have like to have much longer to look at it. (You can see the finished version here of the Warehouse in Bradford, Vermont.)

By Thursday I was desperate for some time with paints. Thursday morning, every Thursday morning, I go to the Bishop Street Artists, a working gathering of painters at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in St. Albans and muck about with colors. And, along with everyone else, look at one another's work. This day Mary Ellen Bushey (no web presence) was there for the second time after returning from her wintering in Virginia near the Chesapeake. I was drawn to her work because it was watercolor. This day she had a small, rough sketch--below--(the kind that is splendid but that only a working artist could appreciate) and was beginning to paint the scene of the sketched marshland. She didn't sketch it larger, just began laying on the paint. She was using a type of brush I actually have and used it for almost the entire painting. I was transfixed the entire time the painting emerged on the paper. What emerged was the kind of watercolor that drew me to watercolor in the first place: free, shimmering, and alive. (I didn't have my camera with me, so I don't have a picture of the painting.)

Inside I was jumping up and down frantically. When she was done, I noticed that the sheet, though still attached to the block, was rippled. I asked about the kind of block it was--Strathmore. I was not impressed. I then went to my workspace and grabbed a 4" x 6" Lanaquarelle block and brought it to her, and suggested she try it. She laid on a few brushstrokes (at right) and then looked at what kind of paper it was. She liked it. I told her where I got it--Black Horse Fine Art Supply in South Burlington and about how wonderful the store is. I also said, because I was learning, I was trying as many different papers as I could and that so far, this one was best of all. As I slowly started to separate the sheet from the block, she said, "You can keep it if you want." And I said, "Whew, I was hoping you'd say that!"

Well, at noon I bolted for my car and broke all speed limits to get home. I mowed down the kitties on the way to my work table, and did this:

MARSH EDGE - 7" x 10"

My painting was not like hers, but the colors were. Lover of words that I am, the word "Chesapeake", and lines from Sidney Lanier's Marshes of Glynn were rolling around in my brain as I worked. (Lanier was a romantic writer of middling verse that I loved as a child.)

When I was done, I thought "My god, those 15 minutes of watching Mary Ellen work, gave me this." Better than any class where you have to stress over trying to do something which the instructor has described in words. There was NOTHING between what I watched her do in silence and what I did when I got home. It was the essence of osmosis. This may not be what people expect when they sign up for an art class, but this is obviously the way I learn best. Just think, how easy for a painter to give a "watching" class! No words, no handouts, no materials, no nothing except the actual act of creation watched. Bring it on!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My Essence of Tree

The house I live in was built in the very late thirties after the orginal one burned. And that fire gutted a pear apple tree at the south end of the house. The blackness of the burn has slowly been disappearing over the years, but you can see how the injured tree healed itself into two trunks in the left image. On the right is the other side of the trunk.

And I apologize for image of the full tree below, but the tree is closed in by dense growth on the side away from my studio, and the studio is too close to get a distance shot.)
When I wanted a tree that was mine I laid out some dots of color in a tight line and took them up with a brush and drew a trunk. When I looked at it, I realized where it had come from. I am finding out that if you are driven to do something without reason, the source may well be inside you, so ingrained, that its existence is separate from conscious thought.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Network Morning--with Abbott & Hunter

I have a tiny "art network", but it's a damn good one!

This morning, while waiting for paint to dry, I called Susan Abbott and we talked about painting for about 20 minutes--a prep for meeting on Charlie's Art Train #1 this Saturday.

Then I checked out the VAC website and stumbled onto a video of Charlie talking about art and his art. It's a couple of years old, but a real gem. A capsule version, of Charlie's version, of 20th century art and his own. It's only about 10 minutes long and well worth those minutes. (Tech note: the quality is better if you make the video smaller.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Another Step Taken

I've been making little sketches in small sketchbooks because small is all I can afford in the quantity I'm using. But, I expressed consternation to my friend Meta Strick last week over re-making them again but larger. She said, it will come and that after a while it won't be an issue. Since then I've thought, "yeah, but I have to do the first one first!"

Well, I had a puzzle piece from the Art Fits Vermont VAC 2009 project and decided that would be a good trial piece. The sketch is 4" x 6" and the puzzle piece much larger.

SPARK - acrylic

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

OMG - New Word (and new mag)

Excitement this morning here in Buck Hollow!

I stumbled across a new word. I mean really new! No faint bells mumbling in the back forty of my mind, no "yeah, I used to know what that meant", nothing. Just a brand, spanking new word! At my age it is a very rare experience to discover a new word that is not jargon, slang, or technical/scientific. Flashes a chill up the spine it does.


Of or relating to the sense of touch; tactile.
Greek haptikos, from haptesthai, to grasp, touch.

And, of course, to look it up I had to dig out my Random House Unabridged--this word just ain't in your run-of-the-mill, sit-on-your-desk-for-spelling-lookups dictionary.

Curiously enough, its entry there is in the plural. . .

haptics: the branch of psychology that investigates cutaneous sense data.

I was also interested to find that its etymology is Greek. I've studied both Latin and Greek and my experience has been that though we are accustomed to giving the nod to Latin for many word derivations, our language also has a very large number of very important words that have come to us from the Greek language--a language that is both beautiful to look at and to hear. (telegraph, anthropology, and hippopotamus spring to mind immediately.)

But I'm still amazed that I have never come across haptic.

And, full credit to the man who brought it to me: Jeffrey T. Baker, an alt-photographer living in Portland, Oregon. He used it in a interview (a very interesting interview) with Diffusion, a new magazine whose subtitle is Unconventional Photography. The first (and so far, only) issue came a couple of days ago and I just got around to reading it this morning. As far as I've gotten in it, it seems to be quite good. Well illustrated with a good mix of articles. My only complaint is that the typography of the text could use some help. It is sans-serif, justified, and widely letter-spaced so it looks a bit like a second-grade reader done small. For thoughtful reading, it is much better to have a serifed typeface which helps to hold the letters together into their meaningful word units and aids the eye in sliding easily through the lines.

But, if you have interest in any kind of experimental photography/art, you might well want to get a copy of this. Unlike many photo-centered publications, it has as much or more about art and creation as it does about techniques. This is a real plus for me. The mag is edited/started by Blue Mitchell, curator of the Plates to Pixels web site and copies of Diffusion can be obtained from the magazine's site for $10 (which includes mailing). I'm dirt poor and I think this precious $10 was very well spent.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hard Edges Again

It seems no matter what I muck about with, I end up working with opposites. (Scorpios are prone to black and white and other opposites I guess.)

Decades ago, when I left the art department, after putting a nice dent in the top of one of their flat files with my fist, I threw away everything from my work there EXCEPT anything to do with intaglio work. I saved everything--plates, powdered pigments, paper, feathers, scribes, all of it--planning on acquiring an etching press so that I could continue the work in my retirement.

Well, I've never been able to afford the etching press, but I started digging around in what I had saved. One piece fit in with what I'm doing now. This may be an evolving piece; if so, this is its current state!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I Think I Know What I'm Doing . . .

Sketch - Rocks and Grass

The sketch above is just that, a sketch of practicing rocks with watercolors. I work on such things regularly, almost on a daily basis. And sometimes I make a forward leap as in this one when I was working on washes:


And then there are ones like this:


These come along as they do. And what "these" are, I have begun to figure out. They are all to do with the natural world: the earth, sun, moon, and stars as it were. And the moods/ideas behind them are all quite dark. Yet, they come out in bright colors. For me, it seems to be a process of working out a language with nouns and verbs but the adjectives are always colors. If there's an underlying theme, I guess I'd have to say "global warming" as trite as that phrase has become, or maybe "atmospherics", as there seems to be some meteorology in most of them.

I'm still doing this as well, but right now, the color business is such an over-riding passion, that the photography has subsided to second place--not by choice but by demand--my involuntary demand. Though yesterday I got this shot. So, things in my black and white world are still churning, and I do keep thinking about getting around to some other Vermont towns for additions to my "Urban Rural" portfolio which is showing signs of healthy growth. Wish there were six of me.




Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Assigning Blame

I began my "official" visual life as a graphic designer. Graphic designers, in the days of triangles, drafting tables, wax, and Letraset were obnoxiously neat. I've never belonged to a work space like this one.

Those people whom I know personally and who are responsible for this state of affairs are, in chronological order, as follows:

Susan Abbott
Meta Strick
David E. Kearns
Karen Day-Vath

One person, not personally known to me, is Philip Ball, author of Bright Earth.

Together, these individuals are responsible for what is turning out to be a major upheaval in my life. I alternately curse them and thank them.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Interesting Times for Me

Things conspire against (or with) me and my obsession with color grows. To the point that I now want to make things with it. So, here are sketches from, dare I say, an incipient painter. Things are screaming at me from inside and outside: the hounds of hell are indeed after me.

first sketch









second sketch



















Thursday, April 16, 2009

Iron Oxide Yellow and a New Project

It's been a long time since my last post. I've been coming back from putting Kittikins to sleep, working on Phil's web site, and learning about watercolors. It now seems that every minute I'm not working on some web site, I'm mucking about with paint, paper, and brushes. Unfortunately for my wallet but fortunately for my soul, I don't have much work right now.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a used copy of Hilary Page's Guide to Watercolor Paints. (Fuller description/review. is here.)

It is a masterpiece of effort and information. And, while it covers many of the manufacturers of watercolor paints, it does not cover those made by Utrecht. I figure they are perhaps in the same league as Winsor & Newton's Cotman line, and likely some are better. I decided to investigate them because I fell in love with their Iron Oxide Yellow.

So, using Page's methods, I am going to try to imitate what she did with the few Utrecht colors I have. But, it will take me a fair amount of time as I have to really perfect my ability to make graded washes that will show the paints as they are, and not as I have botched them up!

Monday, April 6, 2009


Kittikins was born 20 years ago this spring. I carried him across the fields from the barn where he was born. This is my last day with him.

Monday, March 30, 2009

What is this plant? Besides lagniappe.

It's been weeks that I haven't been out shooting--too much hard scrabble going on to do that. But, I had to go to Enosburgh to hang my photographs in the Artist in Residence Gallery AND it was a stunningly gorgeous spring day!

I did get some good shots which I am still processing and a couple of them I know already are keepers. It was long work in the gallery and so I was ready for lunch at the end, starving and dying of thirst. As I was trying not to chew on the menu, I saw some sort of plant off to my left--it looked artificial, but because artificial "restaurant plants" usually attempt to resemble something common and this one certainly wasn't "common" to me, I took a second look. Didn't help. So, I got up and walked up to it and touched it. It was not artificial. It was incredibly beautiful and real. But, no one in the place knew what it was. And I need to know what this thing is.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kinky Boots

I'm really getting ticked at this hard-scrabble life that leaves no time for thinking or reading. It sucks. But occasionally there's a moment of bliss.

A few days ago, brain-fried and depressed, I collapsed on the couch only to find the television service a blank screen. Too tired to deal with it, I checked out the recordings for something--anything--watchable and stumbled on this from the Bravo network: Kinky Boots.

How is it that, at least in my experience, the Brits can produce incredibly delightful comedies with real stories on a consistent basis. Sans sappiness, sans non-stop sex jokes, sans stupidity, sans 14-year-old-male humor?? This one is, interestingly enough, based on a real story. And, the musical performances of
Chiwetel Ejiofor are absolute delights!

This movie gave me almost two hours of real pleasure and real escapism. If you ever get the chance to watch--do.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rousseau, Alfred Watkins and Landscapes

In a New York Times article today about the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, was this painting, Farm in Les Landes by Théodore Rousseau. It was one of those images that, for me, possesses something ineffable. A tranquility and "rightness" that speaks instantly. I don't have many in my "collection" of this sort of image; they are few and far between.

I have another on my bedroom wall, a colored photograph, I think -- I really don't know, in an old gilt and wide-edged wooden frame. And a book illustrated with many such images, albeit in black and white.

The book is The Old Straight Track by Alfred Watkins. Many of the images which appear in that book can be seen in an online version of his "Early British Trackways, Moats, Mounds, Camps, and Sites". This continues to be one of my all time cherished books (as is John Michell's View Over Atlantis, the book that first led me to Watkins). Watkins, besides being insatiably curious, was also a photographer, for which I am thankful. His landscapes are taken with a good eye and a good heart.

His theory was that ancient inhabitants of Britain, traveling by foot and without navigational aids, created a network of straight lines marked by landscape points and connecting "sacred sites" with one another. A friend recommended Michell's book to me in the late '60s and I think I read it in one sitting. But, the value of that book was that it led me to Watkins and his photographs. Recognizing something out of the ordinary about the images was the start of my "collection".

We are deluged with landscape images--in tourist brochures, television and magazine ads, state web sites, and the like--but the kind of image I speak of is rare. For me, it is as if, when I see such an image, I understand immediately that what I am being shown is some sort of essence of place. A kind of reality that in its utter "realness" opens a window on another world, a timeless one, a proof-of-paradise if you will. The one thing they all possess is a heaviness of tranquility. A rock-solid peacefulness that is not saccharin, not "beautiful" in the blatant manner of spectacular images. I've taken one, only one, of these kinds of images. Books

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Howl's Moving Castle

More than a year ago I read about this animated film and wanted to see it. I now think I must be the only person in Vermont interested in such things that hadn't seen it.

At the end of a 12 hour day yesterday I was ready for the couch, a soda pop and chips, and some wonderful and reliable entertainment, like Casablanca. Instead I stumbled onto the second hour of Howl's Moving Castle.

I was enthralled, and in fact watched much of it standing up. Fifteen minutes had gone by before I thought to hit the record button. There is so much to see--shadows, tiny, movements on the periphery of scenes, the incredible art of the backgrounds, and of course, the castle itself. I'm desperate to see the first hour, and will be checking the Independent Film Channel every day until they repeat it and I get the whole thing.

It is a splendid display of internationalism-- British author Diana Wynn Jones, Japanese animator, Hayao Miyazaki, and--by the time it gets to us--the voices of Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal, et al.

When I do get the whole thing at last, I know I will run the parts where the castle moves, over and over again. Here's a tiny, tiny video clip and a link to the book.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Your very best red . . .

Two things combined this morning: a reported conversation between Gauguin and Sérusier, and the painting posted by Susan Abbott on March 7.

The conversation ran like this:

Gauguin: How to you see the colour of that tree?
Sérusier: Yellow.
Gauguin: Well, use your very best yellow. How do you see the colour of the earth?
Sérusier: Red.
Gauguin: Then use your very best red.

This bit was on p. 193 of Ball's Bright Earth, still my nightly read.

There's a lot to chew on in these few lines: about color, and about how to make art.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lillie May Nicholson

Lillie May Nicholson
I had a bit of luck in St. Albans' only second hand book store, The Eloquent Page. I was for once without a book when I found I had to wait a long time in the city. So, for $6 I bought Lillie May Nicholson 1884-1964: An Artist Rediscovered, by Walter A. Nelson-Rees.

And, as I came to write this, I looked for a decent link to her bio or work. No luck. It seems her paintings sell well, and galleries and collectors are looking for them. But there's no in-depth bio, at least in the first five pages of Google. I finally found a gallery (Trotter Galleries) with a decent number of thumbnails and a short bio. The image here of "Fishermen at Pier" is from their site.

Nicholson's work is strong and almost entirely of California coastal scenes, both of the water and of people and workers near the water. Many boats, much light and water. She also looked at the social ills in Oakland and in 1943, at the age of 59 became an aircraft mechanic. After the war she never took up art again.

I am fascinated by these paintings because of the incredibly strong, even harsh, brush strokes in many of them. I'd love to see one in the flesh. The paintings are small, the largest one I came across in the Catalog at the back of the book was 16" x 20".

The catalogue lists 335 works, a large number of which are owned by the book's author. On January 25 of this year, one of her paintings realized nearly $6,000 at auction.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I have some news! And it's 5 a.m. and damn it, everybody's asleep! But, Vermont will be in North Carolina soon!

I submitted work to Dimensions 2009, a national juried show, running since 1964 and sponsored by the Associated Artists of Winston-Salem, NC.

I got a piece accepted! The juror was Jennifer McInnes Coolidge, Executive Director, Museum of Florida Art.

I'm so excited I'm even forgetting to smoke! This is my first juried event! (Well first non-Vermont and first post-AOA.)