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.
I was having a discussion with a music playing friend about strong blueswomen and the badass women of bluegrass. Think Little Maggie and Darlin' Corey. I love that they all play banjos. (That's a quote from "Little Maggie" up the side of the poster.) I was saying it's important for me to have a range of songs to see me through the transitions that come with life and be able to sing out all those emotions. I'm still missing Di Anne Price, my favorite blueswoman and also a friend who had a song for every possible situation I could find myself in.
The upshot of this conversation was that I got called a badass wild banjo woman. I loved it. And since I know several more badass wild banjo women, I decided I just had to make some art from this.
I broke out the wood type and set a poster that night. Below was my first proof.
It looked a little bare. My collection of poster ornaments is pretty small, but I did have some not-too-tiny stars I could add for just a little more pizazz and visual cohesion. I'm now thinking I need to carve myself some old time-y poster frills, but I'll have to get through the Christmas crunch time first.
Below on the left you can see the first set up, with just a few blocks on either side of the "bad ass" lettering. On the right I've added the stars. It's a lot like a jigsaw puzzle. I had to fill in the spaces with blocks and slivers of wood just the right sizes to make it all fit snugly in the frame. I love this kind of puzzle. It's fun with the big type and a little more challenging and persnickety when I'm using smaller metal type. But still fun.
I'll be mailing out a few of these posters to the banjo women who have been kind enough to mentor me in my playing and help me have more fun with my banjo. I have several more left from the edition of 20, and I'm selling them in my online store for $20 each.
I'm also sending one to a friend with a new banjo who, God help her, is looking to me for a little of that mentoring. Fortunately she also has some other folks to call on. But I love the banjo sisterhood. Long live badass wild banjo women!
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 did a final count of watercolors from France as I was organizing the show last night. Unless I've misplaced a few, I did 125 watercolors in about seven weeks, not counting a few quicker sketches in my journal.
I won't put that many in the show today, but it will be a considerable number of small paintings plus the six bigger prints I've been working on. Elizabeth Alley and I hang our travel painting show today at Memphis Botanic Gardens, and the opening will be tomorrow night, Tuesday, December 3rd from 5:30-7:30.
Today on Thanksgiving I am grateful for family, friends, communities of people in church and dance and music who surround me, and also very thankful to be able to do a job I love. Well, a number of jobs these days, but they're all art related. I love doing exhibitions, travel paintings, landscape commissions (especially in Cape May!), and illustrations.
I've been wanting to do more illustrations, and recently I was contacted by a new e-book publisher, Chalk Line Books. They're reprinting vintage crime fiction and want me to be their in house illustrator. The first one, Jim Thompson's Sharecropper Hell, just went up on Amazon. You can preview the book and scroll down for the first illustration here.
Yesterday my editor dropped off the second book for me to work on. I enjoy working from a text and finding the images that speak to me, and I'm having fun doing something new.
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.