Thanksgiving happened in the US – in an unusual move for us we split along generational lines, and the kids went to see my Mum, while Al and I traveled to see his grown-with-huge-children niece and nephew. Reports from the far north indicated a fine dinner was had by all, and the kids stopped to see their cousins and baby cousins on the way home.
We had a glorious snowstorm Sunday – Tuesday morning. It was moving so slowly, so it hovered over us dropping snowflakes for well over forty hours. It felt luxurious, to have a snow day following the Thanksgiving break, I guess less luxurious once the shoveling is taken into account. And now on Friday it is snowing again, although less than an inch is predicted. I’ve taken advantage of the weather to sit in the studio doing hand work on tiny things in frames:
I did some freelance theatrical scene painting for the Pioneer Valley Ballet’s Nutcracker this week, marbling a few pieces and making a ground row look fluffy enough to be snowbanks or clouds depending on lighting.
Monday I drove to Ipswich and back, the second drive in a week, to retrieve art that did not sell. The weather was perfect, I made good time, and I got to walk on the beach for while before I went home.
As I suspected, the large button river did not sell, and I got to take it home again. The two smaller pieces, sumac and milkweed, did sell. Trina Schell, the sainted woman who runs the sale, said some people had been asking after me, and were pleased to see my work again. She also had a list for how long I have had work in the show (since 2011) and what years art has sold (the smaller pieces generally sell). So I am feeling cheered about getting work to them, and maybe next year I’ll be organized enough to ship work instead of schlepping it.
Nostalgia comes into play because I grew up in Essex County. We lived in Marblehead, on the coast, for a while, and then further inland in Boxford, with horses and dogs and various farm animals, when I was in middle school and high school. The trip to Ipswich and out to Crane’s Beach is littered with memories of Pony Club and riding lessons, gallops on the beach and time with friends. And then my mother moved back to Ipswich when my first child was born. So I have another layer of memories, of my kids’ infancy and childhood, to drive through.
I don’t mean to complain – I had a happy childhood, and they tell me they did too – but it is a lot of time and memories to be sifting through when I should be paying more attention to the driving.
Monday I drove to Ipswich, taking three finished pieces for the Crane Estate art show and sale (Honestly, I am never sure what parts of that need capitalizing; too many and I feel like Pooh, not enough and I am closer to e.e.cummings). Two small works, one Milkweed and one Sumac, and the large shell button river.
The weather was damp and drizzly all the way there and back, which served to show off what had to be peak foliage along the way. The weather on the coast was substantially more exciting, with a combination of new moon tides and north east winds throwing the ocean around. I walked briefly around the outside of the Crane house, and started home again.
I think my next projects are more small works focusing on the fall leaves, berries and flowers that hang on after the first frost.
The little round stamp is from yesterday, but the hole was so appealing I wanted to use that too. I used a paper punch to cut the hole out, and centered it on the eraser becaue I was worried about edges. The texture on the piece with the hole is from the trademarks on the surface of the eraser. The nicer erasers have smooooth surfaces, and the pink Easy-carve is just one GIANT pink rubber eraser in 1/4" sheets of variable size.
Shown below are pieces of two medium sized landscapes I am building simultaneously; one in the middle of a snowstorm, the other the clear blue day after a snow storm. With the weather cycling back and forth like this, I'm getting a lot of good looks at both conditions!
on the good side, a new ink pad, and also knowledge about how easy it is to make another, and I do have another five blanks ready to go, AND it works really well, so it is a huge win all around
on the less good side, a lot of ink in places it should not be, and I have to make a new work surface because this is now shedding green on various snowscapes that are in progress, serious snowscapes, all white, and more white… no green until March, when the thaw starts
This morning the temperature was right around zero F, and the river was smoking and steaming. The moisture in the air condensed and froze on everything next to the river, producing the most astoundingly gorgeous frosting on the landscape. I took some landscape photos, and some of sumac and false bittersweet up close with frost on them, and then my camera battery stopped and I took more pictures with my phone. I am glad to have a camera in my phone, that I carry everywhere.
I even stopped and parked out of the way and walked back and forth across the Sunderland bridge, trying to capture the the fluffy beauty of the trees.
Today's stamp has tiny leaves all over it, so I tried turning it, when stamping, so they went up and down in alternating ways.
I promised hand carved things and then promptly got subsumed by the stomach bug of the ages, and its uncle: smacked not once, but twice, while still nursing a sore hip and weird ankle.
The hippo is an older stamp I made for a different project, but I still like him, so I used him too. The squares and rectangles are the uncut ends and edges of the erasers I intend to carve, just noodling around with patterns. In the state I was, sharp carving tools seemed like a very bad plan.
Today I was thinking of the individuality of snowflakes and trying to get my fingerprints to show on the fabric, but the weave is too coarse for them to show up.
I think I missed a day in January too, from plummeting off the red horse. Things were a little hazy there.
Sunday morning it was bright and clear and blowing like snit from the north-west. I know this because I heard it all night at my mother's house, sleeping in the other bedroom. Her dog tried to tell me something in the middle of the night, but since we agreed it wasn't about my mom's health, we both went back to sleep again.
You can just barely make out the swirly wind shapes I was drawing on the image. I printed it onto a cheap vellum paper, and stitched it into the book. This is the end of Book 2.
For Book 3 I was thinking about February, and Valentines and pink, and then I wondered what the opposite of pink might be. If you have suggestions, leave them in the comments! The first page looks like this:
I printed this image onto printer-ready canvas – I think a coating is what makes it printer ready – and then stitched in the spruce tree behind the big sycamore. I realized a while ago that my threads for evergreens in winter are not the right set of colors, I needed more that were grayer, and less green and even dustier. This was a test of one of the new evergreen colors.
Today I went back to the cheap vellum paper, and tried gluing it down with semi-gloss acrylic medium. Which sounds like an incomplete idea, but if you think of medium as the stuff that carries color in paint, then you realize that acrylic medium is basically acrylic glue/varnish/texturizer (the uses are many). Using it as glue produced some crinkling and buckling in the paper, and a certain amount of color smearing, but it could be worth exploring further.
Negative results are still results, and these two are good examples of refining ideas and making them work. I wanted to try transparent transfers onto fabric prepped with gesso. Yesterday's had a seam in it, so the contact with the iron was spotty, meaning it didn't peel well.
Today's I tried putting the transfer down on the gesso while it was still wet (experimentation plus impatience) and ironed over the whole wet mess. I think the bubbly bits in the center were where the gesso steamed as it was cooling, and failed to stick to the transfer.
And I cannot find my camera, so these are taken with my phone. Which, when I say it that way, makes it kind of amazing, that my phone has a good enough camera to take pictures of what I'm doing, so I can edit them a little and post them here.
In other news: cold. Really, really cold, plus wind chill.
Sunday the snow from the night before was still stuck on the branches and telephone wires – it didn't start to fall off until the wind picked up. Or until the squirrel galloped across the phone wire, that brought a lump of snow onto my head when I was not expecting it. This is white paint pen (from Sharpie) sketching in the snow on the trees.
This one is an attempt to show how the weather came in from the west, high and fine at first, and then lower and gray.
A friend and I clipped some of the winter coat off the red mare, so she wouldn't get so hot exercising. One of the other women in the barn asked what kind of meany clipped a horse before the temperature plummetted? While we were working, the wind picked up and the snow started. I left her wearing her thick blanket, and I probably have to go find a midweight one so she doesn't get too cold…