Friday, February 27, 2009

Okay Now What?

Jane's Pond 2009, 5x7 oil, Off the Highway Series

I'm posting earlier than usual due to being out of town over the weekend delivering artwork to the Minden Opera House Gallery. For all you burglars out there, my gigantic burly angry husband and his ferocious toothy slobbering angry dog will be staying home. Chewing on glass.


I've been staring at this computer screen for about an hour waiting for something intelligent to zip across my brain. "Yes", you're saying, "we're still waiting..."

Maybe it's the blahs after having packed up all the artwork for the show. It's kind of like the Christmas Morning Gift Extravaganza Hangover. You know the feeling. It's anticipation and excitement and anxiety for weeks and weeks and then ...

It's over. You can actually hear the clock ticking in the next room.
It's "Okay, Now What?" time.

My easel is empty. My palette could use a good cleaning. Pastels are piled rather unceremoniously in their boxes. They could use a good corn meal bath. A couple of rejected paintings are leaning against the wall staring like puppies at the dog pound you finally decided might not be such a great idea after all.

Okay Now What? I've got stacks of 5 x 7 boards all gessoed up and ready to go. One for each day of the week. For weeks. One for each day, actually, for 100 days.

Tune in next week and I'll tell you all about it. Until then, I'm going to sit here and listen to the clock tick...tick...tick...

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Wildlife painter extraordinaire Dustin VanWechel wrote recently on his new blog about the pressures faced by artists when preparing for a new exhibit. The focus becomes laser hot, and the weight of what, just months ago, seemed fun and exciting now feels like a load of lead.

It's not that the opportunity to share our work isn't appreciated. It is, trust me on that. It's that we, as artists, know deeply in our hearts and minds what we hoped for when we reached for the brush, or the clay or the knife, to make known that thought or idea that resided in our minds. Only we knew the inspiration, the seed for our idea. An exhibit demands a deadline, a definite stopping point when our inspiration must, must be determined visually. We no longer have the luxury of thinking about the idea. Does it match up to the inspiration? It must. It's time.Pondering and wondering and mulling over no longer have a place in the deadline of mailings and framing and expectations. It's "make the mark and move on", which is not a comfortable place to be for those of us who like to make the mark and then think about it a bit.

However, there's another side to this. Sometimes, when there is no deadline, we dither and piddle and fiddle and all the other -iddles instead of making that mark count. I know I do.

I have an exhibit opening soon at the Minden Opera House in Minden Nebraska. I've known about it for a year. Even with that generous amount of time to prepare, I've been in a sweat for the last month getting the finishing toucheson the oil and pastel paintings I want to share. I've noticed that with this looming deadline my focus is more acute, my habit of piddling around has been overtaken with an ability to make decisions quickly and confidently. I'd like to think I'm making good decisions. I'll know soon enough.

I guess the point is that artists should set goals, especially public and spoken-out-loud-so- somebody-can-hear goals. Saying out loud "I'm going to..." lets the world know that something good is going to happen. Setting dates that can't be changed forces creative individuals to make good on their desires to improve or create or share or whatever their goals are.

So...I have an exhibit opening at the MOH March 2nd through April 15th. Opening reception is scheduled for Saturday March 7th from 10 am - 12:00 noon. This coincides with all the other great events scheduled that day in Minden. Come and see what I've been focused on lately. Have I made good decisions? Are my goals clear? Did I do what I set out to do? You tell me.

What are your goals, and when will you reach them?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Well lah - dee - dah!

We started our Valentine's Day celebrating with a nice surprise at Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer's "Wings Over the Platte" opening reception. Well, two surprises actually.

The first was seeing a Merit Award certificate next to my pastel piece, "March Migration", @2009. There were 66 pieces of art in the exhibit, and it's rewarding to know you stand out just a bit.
(Special thanks to Grammy , who reminded me of the deadline and encouraged me to send in the application, and for framing the piece so beautifully.)

We celebrated by making a bee line to the chocolate bar. In an effort to pile high my too-small plate with chocoate goodies (hey, I got an award, y'know) I received my second surprise of the eveing when I dumped a cup of hot chocolate down the front of my lovely white sweater. It's hard to act suave and sophisticated with a soggy brown splotch spreading over one's ... er ... front while watching my hard won goodies roll under the table. Lucky for me I had my jacket hung over my arm and was able to sashay out the door with no one being the wiser. Well, until now. Keep that little secret under your hat, will ya?

How did you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

It's Just Legs

Handsome Husband and I were at Graham Gallery in Hastings last night, enjoying a fascinating photography exhibit by Todd Brown. Todd's photos deal with movement and space, of those who have left their mark in rooms and hallways. They're thoughtful, beautifully presented, and maybe even a bit uncomfortable, if only because they are outside my experience. The images are still on my mind, which I'm certain would please Todd immensely.

I'm a landscape painter in a generally realistic manner. My job is to make a scene interesting and attractive. Seeing Todd's photos reminds me that it's okay for art to be uncomfortable. It's just fine when images don't fit neatly into pre-conceived packages, to be hung on walls and matched to the color of the divan. And I don't have to 'get it'. It's hard for me not to have the back story, the why behind the conception. I want to know why this texture, why this shape, why this subject. Sometimes it's 'just because', and that's enough.

My favorite photo in this exhibit is a front view of a young woman from the chest down, lanky legs sticking out from a shapeless shift. She's holding a branch at a 90 degree angle to her torso. Of course, my first thought was 'what does it mean??' And there was no answer. There was no paragraph beside the photo explaining Todd's deep, personal beliefs about peanut butter and it's relationship to the environment. There was no catalog reference to deeply held religious dogma and how it relates to the fact that Todd sometimes wears a kilt. It was just the photo. I don't know what it means, except that I know I love that photo. I love looking at it. I love thinking about it. I love that her lanky legs are sort of twiggy, like the branch she's holding. And I love that others are looking at it as well, and probably putting their own history to it. And that Todd is hanging out in the back, sipping a beer and enjoying the spectacle, thinking 'it's just a girl with a branch.'

This image is for my exhibit at the Minden Opera House, March 2 - April 15.
What does this image mean? In a nutshell, the fractured textures of the branches represent the frailty of ...well ... um, actually, I just like the way the yellow leaves float on the dark blue water.

What does your art mean to you?