I'm setting up today for tomorrow's Open Studio Sale from 12-5. It's only one day this year because of the marathon tying things up on Saturday, though it turns out that the race was cancelled after all due to ice and cold.
I'll be here no matter what the weather. I've got hot cider, and later this afternoon I'll be baking the cookies I mixed up yesterday. So come on over if you're out and about, or if you've got a little cabin fever built up. Hopefully we're through the ice, but I'll be open regardless.
April in Paris and Lessons in Spanish is UP! It's my joint travel paintings show with Elizabeth Alley at Memphis Botanic Garden. The opening is tonight from 5:30-7:30 -- free and open to everyone. Bring your friends and have a glass of wine on us!
It was a long hanging day yesterday. I'm grateful to be working in a smaller format these days. Instead of hauling huge canvases (or, even worse, huge pastels under glass), I could carry my entire show into the building in one trip. Here it is:
The downside is the long layout process for that many pieces. I ran out of time at the end and didn't get a final count, but I think I hung almost 100 watercolors and prints.
I lay them down on the floor first, take a snapshot of the layout on my smart phone (a marvelous tip I got from Elizabeth last time we hung a show together), and stick them on the walls with poster tape. Marvelous stuff.
There were tons of nail holes in the walls, so my arrangements changed a bit as I moved to the wall, trying to hide as many of them as possible.
I worked so late it was pretty dark to get a decent photograph, and the lights weren't adjusted for my show yet (hopefully MBG can make that happen before the opening tonight), but here's how the first wall looks. Overall I'm pleased.
I have just set up a new online store through Square to be able to accept credit cards online. So far I only have my 2014 calendar and the France block prints up over there, but I can add any print on request. I also am happy to get a check in the mail and ship you artwork for Christmas the old fashioned way.
Celebrate Small Business Saturday and shop from artists and craftspeople for the folks on your list.
I've just started my sixth black and white print from Paris. This is the Rue Damrémont that the apartment I house sat was on. It's a bit up the hill from "my" place, near the grocery where I bought my Greek yoghurt. I sat on the sidewalk to do this, and a kind old lady stopped with her companion to see what I was doing and excitedly pointed to her window where she lived, right at the top of this building.
I love these buildings that extend right into the funky-shaped corners of streets coming together. And if they have domes as well, even better.
(And, yes, if you have sharp eyes and are wondering, some professional artists do still use the Paddington's Special Rulers from their childhoods. )
In other news I typeset the invitation for my Open Studio Sale on December 8th. I managed to sprain my ankle this week, so I'm waiting a few more days to print it, since the treadle operation is likely to be a little hard on it. But it's good to have the invite ready to go.
I needed a break after the last print, which was architectural and complex, so I decided on a garden one next.
I've always loved the geometry and mass of formal gardens and had been hoping to find more of them in France than I managed to. Most of the topiary I found was a disappointing knee high, but I did find a few gardens I wanted to paint.
Chateau de la Chatonniere was a few miles out of Azay le Rideau, where I spent several happy nights at the beginning of my trip. I didn't have a car, so one day I packed a lunch and my painting gear and just hiked out to see the chateau gardens. That was the day I discovered that while the French are scrupulous about crosswalks, they are less likely to give quarter to pedestrians on the side of a country road. But it was a lovely day, and I had fun painting in the gardens.
The carving on this one went much more quickly, which was a welcome break after the Opera print. I was able to pull a proof on just the second day of work and see what it was looking like.
I did a bit more refining, especially in the chateau itself, before pulling the second proof. It's almost finished now, and I'm trying to figure out which watercolor I want to work from next.
I'm working on my fourth Paris print, a view of L'Opera from the roof of the department store behind it. It's been an incredibly intricate scene to draw and carve both, but I'm getting close to finished. Below are the block in a half carved state and the first proof I pulled.
Here's the second proof. I've continued to fix minor details, but it's quite close here. I'll probably proof it again later tonight and see how it is.
In the meantime, I took a break and drew out a new print. It's not quite Paris -- I dipped down into the Loire valley and visited a few chateaux as well. This is Chateau de la Chatonniere and its gardens. I love the structure of formal gardens.
In other news, I got my calendar proof back from the printers, and the calendar itself ought to be ready next week. I'm excited about this one.
First Presbyterian Church in Holley, NY, commissioned me to do a series of three harvest prints for this fall. The texts were taken from the hymnal, and the preacher Tom Gardner talked me through the fall season of abundance up there, and what would be ripe when.
This is the third and final print. You can see it from the original drawing (above) through the proofing process (below) and in its finished state.
Here are the first two prints in the series:
While I had the ink going, I decided I'd do some printing for the upcoming shows and Christmas season. I spent the afternoon printing all three harvest prints plus three new Paris prints. I filled up my drying rack.
After several hours of printing, on my feet and back and forth between rooms, I decided I'd earned a little back porch banjo-playing time. It's lovely weather here in Memphis for the late fall. It always makes me happy when it's warm enough to sit outside happily.
I was working on a print today from Ile de la Cite (my third Paris print for the December show at Memphis Botanic Gardens), when I noticed on Facebook that Rene Miller is in Atlanta right now. Rene is one of the two musicians who befriended me in Paris, and they played on Ile de la Cite most Saturdays. I spent a number of very happy weekend hours sitting on various sidewalks and listening to him play the blues, accompanied by the excellent Stephen Harrison on bass.
Rene is in Atlanta for three weeks visiting his family, and happily I'm already heading down there during that time for a dance weekend. If I go a day early, I can catch him playing in a blues club down there. We talked on the phone today, and it was great to get a visit. I'm excited just to see him and catch up. I've missed both the guys, and I've been listening to Rene's cd in my truck for the last month, singing along and remembering Paris.
Here's a street video of Rene and Stephen doing my very favorite song of theirs -- an old time jazz tune called "Arkansas." They were kind enough to play it for me each week.
In other news today, it's the two month anniversary of Mr. Darcy coming into my life. That's my housemate Neil in the background. I'm really lucky to have them both around.
The PBS show Tennessee Crossroads came to my house to film me yesterday. They said someone emailed them about me a couple of years ago, and they called out of the blue not long ago. A lovely surprise!
It was fun to sit down and talk about what I do. Mostly I just do things by instinct, more or less, and having to verbalize both my calling and my work methods is always an interesting exercise.
It was also fun just to show what I do. I had up close supervision:
After using the proof press to pull a big print, I also cranked up the 1909 Chandler and Price. It's a natural rock star. I love that it's a treadle instead of motor operated.
Mr. Darcy had fun hanging out with the guys and watching the proceedings. He should make the final cut.
They told me it will likely air around March, but they'll give me a heads up ahead of time, so I'll spread the word.