Saturday, June 27, 2009


Cuckoo, mixed media with acrylic, 12 x 12

This one was a challenge because the birdie was mostly in shadow and hiding in the foliage. I loved the fact that it had these splashes of light on it from the sun coming through the dense green cover.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Time and Again, WIP

Time and Again, 8 x 18, acrylic

I printed my latest Fredericksburg block three times end to end to create this view. I have admired the work of other artists when they have done repeated prints from the same block on a single work of art. So, I decided to try it. I have begun to paint it and plan to do much more. I printed on gessoed canvas and will stretch it myself, leaving a big sky. I really like the look of long narrow paintings.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Family Portrait

Family Portrait, mixed media, acrylic and collage, 22 x 28

I worked a lot on this one today--another one for my show. It may need a bit of tweaking here and there.

These guys are so handsome, and I think they know it. I can just see this hanging in their hallway or over the mantle, though I do understand that they're not home much. They spend a great deal of time trekking.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Little Dirty Birdie Feet, etc

Dirty Little Birdy Feet, collage and acrylic, 5 x 5

OK--this painting comes with a warning. It's weird! My friend Mary gave me the idea so I dedicate it to her.

And in other news....On Wednesday, I sold a piece of slate about Fredericksburg that I posted about last week, and at the same time, got a commission to paint another one. I had already mounted the block I use to give me my basic outline onto my recycled art board, so I had to cut another one. This is the black and white print of that block.

Scenes About Fredericksburg, block print, 3.5 x 6.25

Exciting title, what?!

And then, here is my latest painting on slate about Fredericksburg. After I printed the above on the slate, I painted the scene. I delivered it tonight to be a surprise Fathers' Day present. Isn't that cool?

Scene about Fredericksburg #6, acrylic on slate

And then, after this one was in the works, another lady ran in with her three kids to order another one for THEIR dad! Three in one week--not bad!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Love Letter

This is what I've been working on for the past little while. Its working title is Love Letter to Fredericksburg, and is my attempt to re-purpose some of my used/old printmaking blocks to make something new. This is essentially a large printmaking block. I made it by collaging recycled papers over an old painting on a canvas board and then mounted expired or discarded blocks on it, all of which have something to do with my adopted town. Originally I was planning two pieces of art from this, the first one being the block, and the second an embellished print from the block.

Today I pulled four prints on two different papers, and while I was really happy with the prints, it became pretty clear that the block itself was not going to stand up to the challenge of being framed and displayed. Below is the third print I pulled, on a Rives light sheet of warm white paper.

For my finished project, however, I want to use the print pulled on a handmade Thai grass paper, mount it on a piece of water color paper to strengthen it, and then embellish it with thread. The love letter part is the writing which explains where in Fred the image came from, why I made the piece and/or why it's so important to me.

Below is my sample piece, and I apologize now for the poor quality of the photo, but I wanted to give an idea of where I am going with this. To test out the paper and the process, I took a test print of an arrangement of my blocks. In order to be able to get the thread and needle through the double sheet of paper, I used an awl and hammer to poke holes in the pattern I wanted to sew. Can you see the Rappahannock River???

My plan is to mat and frame the final embellished print and enter it in a show at LibertyTown called Discarded Potential.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gathering of Pears

A Gathering of Pears, series of greeting cards
relief prints, hand colored with watercolor pencils

For a couple of days I'll be working on small things that can be done quickly and left easily if I get interrupted. Here are three new cards. Each card is a unique piece of original artwork. Very uncomplicated and fun.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Run, Don't Walk, to Artomatic

Here's my plug for you, if it is at all possible, to get to DC to see the extravaganza of arts that is Artomatic. Not only are there 8 floors of visual artwork of all kinds by area artists, (and even some glass artists from England) but there are musical shows, comedy shows, and places to buy food and drink. It is exciting to be in a place which is the fruition of hundreds of creative minds. It's also just fun!

My husband, son and I went up last night for Meet the Artists, and although we did get to 5 of the 8 floors, this is a place where you need to go back a couple of times to see it best. Parking (when there is no Nationals game is $6 right under the building. Entry to Artomatic is free.) There were two artists I knew were going to be there, so we looked at the handy chart you get as you enter on the first floor of 55 M St., SE, saw where Tracey Clarke and Lisa Osgood-Dano were and headed off to find them first.

Tracey's spot is on the third floor, and I got to see her mythical creations on canvas and read her stories up close and personal. She has a show in November in the Members' Gallery at FCCA, so she and I have been in conversation about that, but I have been reading her blog for about 8 months and find her work really amazing.

Lisa is a glass mosaic artist and her work is almost more of an assemblage of all kinds of elements from fossils to stone to tile to I'm not sure really what-all. But it is magnificent. Check her out. She is associated with the Washington Glass School which had a large presence up on the 9th floor.

Along the way back and forth (yes, we took the stairs!) I ran into the work of these four artists whose work really appealed to me. I got to talk with Pam Rogers, who uses plant juices, earth, coffee, handmade paper--lots of things she encounters in her everyday life--to help create her wonderful works. I was really drawn to them and their feeling of bundled up, almost stifled, energy ready to burst out in beautiful, vital color.

I also loved the work of Johanna Mueller and Ginny Kinsey, both printmakers. Johanna's work, from engravings on hard plastic plates, is very detailed. The prints are filled with dark humor and creatures which look to be out of Grimm's fairy tales, but have a very personal narrative. She has just finished a MFA in printmaking from George Mason and teaches her craft in the NVA and DC area.

Ginny's work is whimsical and graphic. I liked especially her images of a little girl character variously riding her bike, listening to a boom box and dj-ing--Sassy (or Sass?) with her hands on her hips was my favorite. I believe her work is mostly done from lino cuts. I did not get a chance to meet Ginny.

I also missed meeting Ellen Cornett, whose pastels are brightly colored, drawing on childhood memories, favorite dolls and stories, mixed up and reborn as vigorous, interesting tales of their own.

My 16 year old son really enjoyed the participatory displays and the one by the Post Secret creator, Frank Warren who was there signing books last night.

Oh, and just a short metro ride from the Artomatic site, conveniently located on top of a metro stop, is Oyamel, a fantastic tapas restaurant where we ate dinner last night.

July 5th is the closing date. Don't miss it!

Friday, June 12, 2009


Scenes of Fredericksburg #5

We have a local ice cream joint which does booming business here from Feb. 15 through Nov. 15, at which time the ice cream eaters of Fredericksburg are left to dream of the soft serve treat until the following February. Especially when the weather is hot, the line for Carl's can have 100 people in it, easy. And when you drive by on Princess Anne St. and there is a short line, you change your plans, park your car and get ice cream!

In a historic town, the demand for artwork depicting the various historic and/or local scenes is high. Which makes me, as a local artist, squirm just a bit. It seems that once you make a piece or series of pieces that catch the eye and imagination of the tourist or collector, you feel great pressure to continue making such works, sometimes to the detriment of your own creative fun.

I love my town and love to create works which have local interest. When I can (commissions are a different matter!) it is my goal to make art ABOUT my town, not OF my town, if you get the difference. (One of my former teachers, Karen Richards, always says to her students, This is not your painting OF the vase, it is your painting ABOUT the vase.) In other words, your painting is your unique, artistic interpretation, no matter your subject.

So, the above little plaque (no more than 3" x 8", on historic St. George's discarded roofing slate) is my work ABOUT Fredericksburg, in which Carl's ice cream and St. George's are featured, and the rest is more my fantastical renderings of the local surroundings.

Scenes on Princess Anne

I made a block out of the soft carve material which I called Scenes on Princess Anne St. The funny thing is, several wonderful people who have bought these prints, have told me they know exactly where in the city I created it from! It is a four color reduction print, and when I was done cutting on the block, there was a bare outline of the shapes of the original. I have, since, used it to print on slate, and then I hand paint the image, each one different. The slate hangs from leather knotted through holes I drilled. The slate I found in just that shape.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


That's what I'm calling this little piece, 5 x 5 canvas with collage and acrylic paint. It (retirement) feels like that's what I've been doing these last few weeks. I think I've finally pulled out of the doldrums and put some of the duties behind me that were pressing. Now, to paint!

What is it about water fowl in lawn chairs that so appeals to me?

Also, I've done more on the West African Crane from two posts ago. I'm trying to decide whether I will paint the background or leave it "collage-out."

In other news, I am the lucky winner of a wax collage by the wonderfully creative artist, Saundra Lane Galloway! Check out her blog. She is a prolific painter and mixed media artist and such a supportive member of the blogging community. Thanks, Saundra!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


This piece is the aforementioned "last commissioned work I am ever going to do." It is of my church which is just finishing up an eighteen month renovation of its historic structure. Among other things in its history and along with many other old churches in the area, it was used as a hospital during the civil war battles fought nearby. The painting is done on a piece of slate taken off the roof of a much later structure added to the property in the 1950's, part of which had to be removed during the recent construction of an additional floor to the building. The church allowed me to take the slate to use for my own purposes, and I have made pins and pendants on the fragments and small paintings on whole tiles or larger pieces. You can see the original holes which had copper nails going through them to hold the tiles in place. To finish it, I will knot a leather thong in the holes as a wall hanger for the plaque. I added a bit of the history of the slate on the back by scratching a short paragraph into the soft surface of the stone.

I'd like to wrap up the discussion on commissions that was so ably addressed by folks here on my blog by telling what I learned. (I feel a little What-I-Did-On-My-Summer-Vacation here!) Everyone responded so thoughtfully, and it really made me separate myself from my frustration about my own situation and achieve a little perspective on the topic.

Many of you had similar negative experiences of taking on commissions and championed the idea that it was dampening to the creative spirit. Also in that argument was the feeling that it had felt a necessary part of an early career, but being more established in your field gave you some choice in the projects you chose. Both of those ideas really made sense to me. Many of us have had to wait until late to begin a career in art and feel we just don't have time for artistic projects that take us down a side road from our own pursuits. That describes me as well.

Other artists wrote about how they managed their commissioned deals with contracts and upfront, non-refundable deposits. That was helpful in thinking about the future should I decide that I will take on the occasional commission. Because, I can enjoy the challenge of commissioned work. Sometimes I am asked to do something I've wanted to do, but haven't gotten my "round tuit." It is appealing to have the assignment, and perhaps have a paycheck for it at the end.

Barbara Muir's passion in favor of the commission, stating that she earns much of her living from them, made me stop and think. Of course, I know that many artists do earn their living from commissions. Historically only the wealthiest of people or institutions could afford art. It is a fairly modern idea that a wider sector of the populace could own art and that artists could create art for their own pleasure. Then, we could get into the debate about hobby vs career, but let's not!

The most compelling argument that Barbara made for me was that the relationship between the artist and the "commissioner" was the most important aspect of the deal. The communication and listening between the two parties needs to be good and thorough in order to have a successful outcome. I like this. There's a distinct lack of joy in the statement from the artist I heard say, "If you are not willing to let someone go away with a painting they are not entirely happy with, you shouldn't be doing commissions." If I have to subscribe to that tenet, I surely will not do more commissioned work. But if I am honest with myself about my own history, I do see that the failures have been largely mine for not working harder on the relationship with my buyer. With this perspective, I can say that I have had more successes than I have had failures. It is a relief to begin to figure out that it is so, and why.

So thank you, talented and serious artists out in bloggerdom. Your thoughtful and reasoned responses to my rant of several posts ago were a real help. I'm grateful for you all!