Locally grown, organic vegetables inspire me. They feed me both physically and artistically. And, best of all, I know that I am supporting farmers who are on the front lines of improving our sustainability. *
I really enjoyed the range of greens in this painting, which are all mixed. The painting begins with a cobalt blue and winsor lemon, continues with a prussian blue and winsor lemon, then ends with Prussian blue and indian yellow. All relatively transparent mixtures.
Like several other vegetable paintings I've done in the past year, this head of lettuce came from the Pennypack Farm and Education Center last summer. I've recently prepared for the 2018 growing season by buying into the Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op. I'm looking forward to the variety and quality of produce they grow and I plan to continue this series of paintings. :)
*Notably, organic farmers are supporting our declining bee populations by not using neonicotinoid pesticides, or seeds treated by this noxious chemical which has become too common in the conventional agricultural market. Organic veggies support bees, and who doesn't love bees?
Upon reflection, I see a great metaphor in this watercolor study. Not only are these beautiful potatoes a product of organic farming practices at Pennypack Farm and Education Center last season (so delicious!), they refer to a common phrase.
I first approach that phrase in my quest to simplify. It acts as a mantra to avoid letting the small stuff block my sight of what's really important along the lines of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. However, after finding a quote by Charles Dudley Warner who while gardening in 1870 wrote, "What small potatoes we all are, compared with what we might be!" I feel like my eyes have been opened. His view in this quote is that we often stunt our growth because we "don't plow deep enough." (Thank you Project Guttenberg, where I found Warner's book My Summer in the Garden.)
I am inspired by a new mandate to nurture my small potatoes into big potatoes by taking the time to dig deeper into the earth. Stay tuned for next year's crop!
Since I've been indoors painting this winter, I've been inspired by the physical place where I have a studio residency. The tall ceilings, the large windows, the open space and all of the early 20th century details of the old schoolhouse are great, but even better is getting to know the artists who have been coming here for years, sometimes decades.
So last week I spent a little time with Colleen Hammond's Thursday open studio painting class, a very welcoming group of artists who work hard and support each other. Everyone there has an intriguing story.
I much prefer to work from life because sitting with my subject has great meaning to me. The experience evokes a deeper emotional reaction in me. I aim to capture the feeling of the light as well as the energy of the place.
I am grateful to my hosts at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts. It's been around quite awhile...may it continue to be a sanctuary for art making for a long time to come!
Have I mentioned I love terrariums?
Something about the way they contain earth, air, light, water and plant life is so elemental. As a microcosm of an ecosystem, the relationship between entities reads like a metaphor for an environmental theory of well being. When I observe them, it is like they are talking to me. And yes, I've come into the habit of naming my terrariums.
This terrarium, I made three years ago. It is one that unfortunately didn't make it .
Old friend- I wish we had more time together. Thank you for all that you have taught me. I wish I had been better able to fit your needs. I am grateful that I made this painting of you during your prime as a way to remember you and to share the story of your brilliance with others.
It worked! Giving myself more time between posts helped me to work larger.. This image is a detail of a full-sheet, 30 by 22 inch painting that is nearly finished. Working larger certainly brings technical challenges, but I am excited about how the larger paintings will present themselves to in-person viewers at the Residency Exhibition in May.
My studio, a space allowed to me this year through the painting residency, is currently in a corner of the second floor of the George K. Heller School, commonly known as the Cheltenham Center for the Arts on Ashbourne Road. While this section of the building with its tall ceilings and massive windows was "recently" added in 1906, the original school on this site, named the Milltown School, opened its doors as the very first public school in Montgomery County in 1795. In 1883, the original one-story George K. Heller School was built to replace the Milltown School. It was expanded in 1893 and in 1906 to create the building that became the Cheltenham Art Center in 1953.
I have to say, it's pretty cool working in a space that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places!
So, High School Park got a new sign. Now rather than just being inside the heads of those who know, anyone from anywhere who drives by Montgomery and High School Road can know that this is, in fact, a park. It's so simple yet so profound!
It's a new year and I find this always to be a rich opportunity for goal setting. As I develop my watercolor painting practice, my next step up is to work larger. I have dearly enjoyed painting a (usually) 5 x 7 inch work each week for two years (plus some), but I feel a need to change the pattern. Gasp!
In 2018, as I paint larger, I'll post every other week.
A little elf magic for you on this winter solstice.
I was inspired by the arrival of the elf (on the shelf) at our house last week. My daughter has been writing letters to our elf every day.
This little guy is more of a cross of a Christmas Elf and Jack Frost. There is no limit to what he can create and winter is his time to shine.
'West Chester Storefront Nocturne' is my first plein air nocturne painting. I completed it in October during the Brandywine Valley Plein Air Competition, so I had the support of at least another 20 artists working on the same street at the same time. One looks less crazy if others around you are doing the same thing.
How does one paint outside at night, you ask? Well I did a little research and I found that the best way to see what I'm working on is to wear a baseball hat with lights. Luckily, my dad had supplied my son with one (which I borrowed) in a nice camouflage print. I was styling!
I pulled up this painting because I am currently working on another nocturne painting...which I hope to finish for next week!
In order to prepare for the culminating exhibition for my painting residency, I've been pushing myself to work larger.
It takes a certain kind of faith. I usually finish paintings the same day or at least the same week that I start them. This one took me over a month! I had almost lost hope that I could realize my vision. I am very glad to report that it came together this morning in Howard Watson's watercolor class at the Woodmere Museum.
Howard, in his unique way, encouraged me early on to put some creatures into the scene. I believe he had said, "Nice scene. I like the cows."
I chose chickens instead of cows for a specific reason. This work began as a plein air drawing of the root cellar at the Richard Wall House in Elkins Park. In colonial times, that supreme era of self sufficiency, the top room was used as a chicken coop. There haven't been chickens here for some time, but don't they just look right at home?
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania is my home and my muse right now. Here is a view at twilight with the party lights of White Pines in the foreground.
This painting is a small study as I prepare for a series of larger paintings for my residency project. It'll be for sale this Sunday at the Cheltenham Art Center from 11am - 4 pm. Feel free to come by and say hello!