Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Call 813 269-1310 to register with a credit card
For more information go to the Course Catalog online here
(ignore a strange notice that you can't view Adobe files in your open browser window if it appears! Click OK or go to and click on Programs and Schedules on the Navigation Bar then click the link to the classes for January/February)

Classes run for six weeks. Price for Carrollwood Cultural Center members is $90 and $100 for non-members

Here is the schedule:

Digital Photography
Monday Evening 6:00 - 7:30 pm

For beginners! We will examine the camera, how to get photographs out of the camera and onto a computer, tweaked in a photo editing program, printed and displayed. Bring your camera. You should have rudimentary computer skills.

Introduction to Computers
Tuesday Morning 9:00 - 10:30 am
Wednesday Afternoon 4:00 - 5:30 pm

Don't know how to turn the computer on? This one is for you! We try to keep it very low-tech and very basic. The class will cover many aspects of using a computer, especially how to navigate the Internet and send E-Mails. The class computers use Vista, but the class is designed for both Windows XP and Vista users.

Intermediate Computers
Tuesday Morning 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Wednesday Evening 6:30 - 8:00 pm

You should have basic computer skills for this class. This class is informally structured to try to answer your questions and problems using the computer. We will cover some of the common software applications from Microsoft and Adobe, as well as some of the features that come with your computer to create a variety of documents you might want such as letters, cards, spreadsheets, brochures and business cards. We examine some periphals and give an overview of routine maintainence and how to stay safe in today's cyberspace.

Oil Painting
Saturday Morning 9:30 - 11:30 am

The class will show you how to think like an Impressionist Painter. It will focus on building a canvas and how to develop a painting in 6 stages. We think first of design, then value, then color, then the details. We will paint from life in this class, using your props or mine. Materials are very basic and may be purchased locally from any art or crafts store. More details are available by contacting me, or looking in the back of the course catalog.

NOTE: An added bonus in most all of my classes are booklets or single sheet handouts which are designed to be either a guide when working at home, or an expansion on topics presented in class.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Greetings to Everyone

I wish you a

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

or the politically correct version

Happy Holidays

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Christmas Special!

The Red Shoes
Watercolor 13 x 15 (matted)
$45.00 plus shipping
Santa says he wants these shoes for his wife!

Monday, December 1, 2008

This Was A Very Difficult Month

My husband fell on Halloween weekend. I won't go into the gory details of this incident except to say that his injury was so severe he has been unable to walk for most of this month, requiring full time care from me and an occasional hired CNA when I had to be away from the house for long stretches.

I am a much better artist than I am a nurse!

But the only good news about this month is that I was able to spend time making two drawings. It occupied my mind which was a good thing, as I was engulfed in worry and anxiety for most of the month.

My supermarket orchid decided to bloom awhile ago. It failed and I was very disheartened to watch the bloom stalk wither and die. But months later it put out another shoot and it has been fun to watch it progress into full bloom. I think that had I not had the crisis with my husband ongoing I might not have spent the time making this drawing.

Orchid Graphite on Bristol Plate $75
I was so happy with the results of this drawing I decided to keep on and dug out a drawing I started months ago of a guitar. I set it up in the same position but somehow it was very stale and I lost enthusiasm for it, so I decided to flip the paper and start over anew. It turned out to be much more difficult than the original drawing and I found myself able to really focus lots of good attention on it between visits to my husband's bedside.

The result:Guitar Graphite and Sewing Thread on Bristol Plate $75

What you can't see in this photograph are the strings of the guitar which I finally resolved by putting thread into a needle and literally sewing them into the drawing! It really is a fun piece.

These two, and six other drawings will be on display at the Hillsborough County Library, North Tampa Branch, for the month of December as the North Tampa Arts League Artist of the Month.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Painting I Don't have to Paint

I dislike politics and I have despised our current administration from the start. I started counting the days till its end, and only feared that a McCain/Palin win would be so depressing I began to have fantasies of moving to Mexico. I would have liked to have been in Grant Park tonight to see this incredible moment in the history of our country, but it was enough to see it on TV and I do not ever remember being moved to tears by a presidential acceptance speech like I was tonight.

I have always wanted to paint some more political paintings. I did one many years ago, working on it as Nixon was resigning from his presidency in disgrace. What a low moment in our history!

This painting is called "Watergate" and it illustrates the president's house of cards which has tumbled down, the Joker landing on top of the pile.

I "see" paintings in my mind and then I have to figure out how to paint them. Some time after 911 I "saw" the painting I would have painted at the time. It has been an image that lingered in my mind ever since. Why didn't I paint it then? I ask myself that question often, and I think it had to do with many post 911 images that artists were moved to paint which I found rather sentimental and downright silly, many of which were based on some very moving photographs which didn't work when translated into paintings. The whole nightmare of what happened on 911 is still too fresh in me, and working on a painting with that intensity would evoke too many emotions that I'm not ready to deal with at this time in my life.

After the horror of the 2004 election I toyed with the idea of painting a "mourning" painting which has echoed in and out of my conscious mind very often, and recently I began to gear up to get ready to start on it after this election which I feared would be another horror show of Republican trickery and fiddling with the results. In fact I recently bought a tube of black paint which I knew was necessary for this painting. I was for Obama from the day he announced his candidacy and so tonight I am elated with this victory and feel that my "mourning" painting can now be put on the back burner for another time and place. I feel hope and excitement for a shift of energy that I hope touches every person in the world tonight.

The strong imagery was going to be very difficult to achieve for this painting, so I am relieved that I don't have to do it! It involved making a black see through flag which partially obscured a statue of liberty with her head cut off. Yeah, I know...say what you like! It would have been another painting that I could not sell or show in this section of the world in public places. Oh well....tonight I am very happy that I can keep on painting my fruits and vegetables!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I adore museums. I have vivid memories of the Philadelphia Museum of Art when I was a child, wandering among the mummies and Greek vases and statues of Egyptians, wondering how these things got to Philadelphia and who brought them here. I have never been a fan of mummies and feel creepy whenever I see them in dusty corridors of various museums around the Western World. But further on there are so many things to see and enjoy!

As a teen-ager I would borrow my mother's car and cut school and spend the day at the Philadelphia art museum wandering aimlessly through the collections: from the mummies, to the Renaissance, to contemporary paintings, to sculpture, to furniture and silver, back to paintings from the Baroque, to miniature portraits, and on to textiles, then onto art scrolls from China. A day like this is a very heady affair!

I was in Cincinnati, Ohio last week for an exhausting 3 day meeting for the non-profit I run (in my spare time!). I had hoped to have time to visit the museum before I had to leave for the airport and I had just enough time to visit the galleries. I saw there some wonderful "old friends" which is how I feel about certain paintings by favorite artists.

A Wyeth Egg Tempera was in very bad shape and I had a chance to look carefully at the surface that had bubbled and cracked. It was not one of his better paintings, in my opinion, but it is always a shame to see a painting that has not fared well.

There was a gorgeous little Egg Tempera painting by Botticelli that I looked at for a long time, and a huge painting by Corot (I think - after awhile these things tend to blend in the mind a bit!), which I asked permission to photograph for my students. It was unfinished and I always get a lot more out of the unfinished paintings than I do from the finished ones.

Here is a partial list of some other standout museums that I have visited....some a very long time ago, some more recently. They are not in any particular order...just a list of the one's I like.

Nelson Atkins Museum (Kansas City)
St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts (St. Pete, Florida)
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Philadelphia)
Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota, Florida)
The Louvre (Paris, France)
The Dali Museum (St. Petersburg, Florida)
The Brandywine River Museum (Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania)
The High Museum (Atlanta, Georgia)
The Lyman Allyn Museum (New London, Connecticut)
National Cowboy Hall of Fame (Oklahoma City)
The Wheelwright Museum (Santa Fe, NM)
The Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)
Whitney Gallery of Western Art (Cody, Wyoming)
The Göteborg Museum of Art (Gothenburg, Sweden)
Heard Museum, (Phoenix, Arizona)

to name only a few......

10/21/08 Here are a few more I love

The Brooklyn Museum of Art (New York)
The National Academy of Design Archives (New York City) (This was not open to the public and I was allowed in here to look at the work of Robert Brackman and while there browsed through many other academicians who are housed there)
The Barnes Foundation Museum (Merion, Pennsylvania)
Mystic Seaport Gallery of Maritime Art

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Rape of Europa

I heard about this 2006 film an ordered it from Blockbuster. We watched it tonight. The film was extremely well done, I thought even though I tend to avoid Nazi films and documentary accounts of the war and accounts of Nazi genocide. Done in documentary style with interviews and scholars as well as film clips from the war, it focused on the horrifying sub-plot of the Nazi's to not only acquire for the Third Reich, and their own personal art collections, the best of the best of the Culture of Europe and Russia, but the systematic plundering of the homes and apartments of Jews who had been deported. The trucks and train loads of furniture, artifacts, silver, and religious items shown in the film defy description. I knew nothing about this aspect of the Holocaust, although I did know that the Nazis stole artwork, and Hitler and Goering's art collections were legendary, the scale of the theft and plunder is unbelievable.

Of particular interest to me personally, had to do with the United States Army's "Monument Men" and film clips and interviews about Deane Keller, who was a professor of art at Yale University. He was assigned to help protect and recover as much art and treasure as he could from Italy and the cities that the allies were forced to bomb. He documented his activities and his writings are in the Yale Library where I found references online. His activities in Italy, and the return of thousands of artworks to cheering crowds in Florence did bring on a few tears.

His son, Deane G. Keller taught me to draw, or rather taught me to love to draw. I took several of his classes at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts and his teaching style was so low-key I barely remember his classes. In a most subtle way Deane Keller's incredible knowledge of anatomy and ability to draw seemed to come to me by osmosis.

This is a drawing I did in Deane Keller's Lyme Academy Class in 1990. I was very sad to learn tonight that he had passed away in 2005.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Live Oak Silverpoint Drawing (work in progress)

I just ordered another bag of Silverpoint Ground and a new silverpoint tool. It reminded me of how many people have never heard of silverpoint and seem kind of bemused when I tell them that I make drawings using a real piece of silver. The more cynical of them reply "why not just use a pencil?" When I try to explain the difference between a real piece of silver and some graphite mixed with clay, I see them glaze over and when I say it is the difference between scratchy polyester and silk pajamas I often get the response "I don't like the feel of silk!" I must be getting old...shaking my head and wondering what the world is coming to.

Following this train of thought brought on a musing about when and how I learned about silverpoint in the first place. I seem to remember everything that interests me about art! During my high school years I used to drive to school using my mother's car (whenever I could finagle it from her) and check into first period and after attendance I would sneak out and drive myself to the Philadelphia Art Museum for the day, returning for the last period to drive my friends the few miles to the field hockey practice. I never did get caught!

Those Ingres drawings! I would wander the galleries and hallways of that museum marveling and studying harder than I ever did at school. I loved the idea of making drawings with a piece of silver and later it was Ralph Mayer in the "Artists' Handbook" that the directions for making silverpoint papers and tools inspired me to try it. I learned that the silver would not make a mark on many papers, and on some the marks would be very faint. Mayer's directions for making silverpoint papers used Chinese White Watercolor (Zinc White) mixed into a slurry and painted onto hot press watercolor paper. I have since learned that this method makes a very unsatisfactory paper, and it is much better to use a traditional gesso ground which I buy in powder form from This is not hard to do, but when I tell my friends that gesso has to be cooked, but must not get too hot, I get that glazed over look again.

This particular drawing is one of my "Red Light Drawings" which I keep in my car and work on it when stuck at red lights, highway construction and horrific accidents. I have worked on this one at other times, but it lives in the car, along with a silverpoint tool (a rod of silver inserted into a mechanical pencil holder), and kneaded eraser. Having a drawing to do, music on the radio, keeps me calm and serene when others are fuming under such circumstances, and one time after a two hour tie-up for an accident, I was sad to have to go again. I must admit that I have too much time invested in this drawing and I'll never be able to charge enough to cover those hours, but I don't care. I love to tilt the piece toward the light and watch the shiny silver surface reflecting the light.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Night at the Museum!

It is officially called "Art After Dark" and is a popular monthly event sponsored by the Tampa Art Museum. I got involved with this because of a call to artists to "Sound Effects"; art inspired by music, and my two abstract paintings seemed to fit the category so I sent in my jpgs and entered the show, not really understanding what the gig was all about.

It turned out to be a traveling show that was to be a one night stand at the museum (in its temporary quarters...more about that later), followed by a stint in a gallery in St. Petersburg. A big party followed the museum show in a gallery in Ybor City on Friday night which my friend and co-exhibitor, Mary Ellen Bitner, and I decided to skip as it was scheduled to start at 10pm and end sometime in the wee hours and featured the artwork that didn't make it to the museum show.

My paintings were at the end of the big lobby...a great location until the room was packed with people and no one could see my work. Oh well, no matter, as it was a learning experience, and before the room was packed, and before the DJ cranked up the volume on the audio equipment to ear splitting levels, causing everyone there to shriek at each other to be heard, I had some nice comments on my paintings. Later I just had to smile and nod.

Today I took our paintings to Artpool Gallery in St. Petersburg where, on Saturday night, there will be another ear splitting night of music and schmoozing by the folks who like to be seen at the scene. We have decided to go, perhaps briefly as a couple of old ladies out on the town, dressed appropriately for the suburbs, are about as ridiculous as some of the getups we saw at the museum on Friday night.

While the Tampa Art Museum builds a brand new, state-of-the-art facility downtown, it has moved to temporary quarters in a dingy neighborhood and in a very dingy building, that has a kind of ominous presence that looks like an old school building from the 1920s. It was very encouraging to see that such a place can attract hordes of people who paid $10 to see a very eclectic collection of artwork presented by "Sound Effects" which was curated by photographer Mitzi Gordon, and a really dumb show presented by the museum. Was it the food (sandwiches and cookies), the Starbucks coffee, or the beer and wine, that brought on the hordes?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The End of My Solo Show

I flew to Rochester, New York on Thursday, where my friend Kit Tobin picked me up and took me back to her apartment in Corning. Friday was the designated work day at the George Waters Gallery at Elmira College, with Saturday being a reserve day for finishing up the work if needed.

I had some help during the day from another friend, Gale Wursthorn, who came from Cleveland to lend a hand. The work went well, and the intense planning I did packing up the show on the Florida end in June paid off, and work went back into the packing boxes easily. The whole thing was finished and cleaned up by 5:30 Friday afternoon. I was exhausted!

Kit reminded me that she has heard me say "never again!" more than once after a stressful hanging and opening of a show, but this one was really a killer, and I do believe that I'll not have the stamina to do this again, as it was physically hard work and my poor back is now rebelling against such endeavors.

The best part of the trip was visiting the Corning Glass Museum this morning and the Rockwell Western Art Museum (both in Corning) this afternoon. I am now on overload, having completed the packing and seen some incredible artworks.

Art After Dark at the Tampa Art Museum
"Sound Effects"
September 19 (evening until 11:00)

Theme and Variations

Larger and better views of these two 32 x 48 abstract paintings may be seen at the Tampa Art Museum on Friday night! Please come and enjoy the evening's activities.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I'm In the Spotlight on Robin's Blog

I am honored to be a featured artist on Robin Maria Pedrero's blog. I met Robin quite a few years ago and we had a nice time meeting in her studio and chatting about art. She and I come from the same area in Connecticut and I was so excited to find an artist in Florida who knew about Robert Brackman. Her work is wonderful and I consider myself to be in very good company to be on her "Spotlight". She invited me to be "featured" and tossed me the question that I had never been asked..."how has the Feeling Series impacted your life and your art?" To see my answer click on the link to her blog.

New Work to Share

Genesis: Corn Egg Tempera 6 x 8 $450

I am really happy with my newest Genesis Series Painting, Corn. It took me forever to paint it, and it was very complicated and confusing, but I feel good about the outcome. This is number thirteen in the series....yes, there are more to come. I am totally addicted to them and I have quite a few more waiting for me.


I have worked on Shame some more and little by little it is coming along. I don't have anything much to say about it right now, except that my arm and shoulder seem to be getting used to working on this size canvas and I'm not as sore after working all afternoon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Marketing Your Work 101

I have known for a long time that I needed to focus more attention on the internet as a way to connect with students, buyers, my collectors and friends. With the crazy life I live it has been a big problem getting around to this, but this clump of time in my life seems to be fueled by some kind of driven energy, and so many things have been accomplished recently, including my first newsletter which you are welcome to get by emailing me at and request to be on my email list or go to my website and click on "Monthly Newsletter" in the left navigation links.

I am so pleased with the response to my first newsletter. Many of my friends have send unsolicited responses to me with very complimentary comments about the newsletter and the images on it. My idea is to use this type of communication to feature new work, shows I'm in, classes and workshops that are upcoming, and various other items of interest. This first offering was done in little batches, so my internet server would mail my emails, but next time I hope to have paid for a marketing list which will allow people to opt out easily, and give me an opportunity to upload the whole list at one time and away they go!

I read somewhere, in one of the books I have on the "business of art" that marketing your work will take 75% of your time, leaving 25% of your time for studio work. Isn't that amazing! It is so true, and having struggled with this unbalanced situation most of my life I don't really know that there is a solution to it, for me at least. Even with a gallery and/or agent I found it didn't redistribute the percentages at all, and it still required lots of time for schlepping my work all over the place and when I had my own gallery and teaching facility it was probably even less time for studio work with all the management details and the effort to find students. And putting this newsletter, blog, website, email list and everything I have had to do to learn to do all this has been at least a 75% time management problem.

My mother used to say, much to my disgust, "it's who you know". In my naive early years, I thought art was sold on merit...if someone saw a good painting they would buy it, of course, if they liked it. In New York, at Art School, I was somewhat befuddled by the mania in the 60s for the bizarre, strange, and downright ugly, art that was being sold hand over fist. Later I learned that much of this was organized by very skilled and clever art whizzes who could sell anything they liked to anyone who came within their sphere of influence, and artists could get on this bandwagon by schmoozing with the glitterati at parties and soirees and presto they were household names!

My eyes were opened somewhat by observing a very odd phenomenon; a formal show of my work would generate amazing sales, expecially if there were good finger foods and a good quality wine. Some of the sales were to people who saw the works in my studio. But it took a formal, and expensive opening, invitations, cards on the wall, jacked up prices to pay for all this, to encourage people to part with their cash. Go figure!

I still don't know how to market my work. I am amazed at what people will buy. I am stupefied by some of the celebrity artists who have works of art that look like candidates for the nearest trash can. I guess it will remain a mystery, for me, at least. And in the meantime I slave away at the computer, while the painting in the studio is crying out for attention....later, later. I say to the painting in the studio "I still have another 60% of marketing time to do before I can get to you...just wait awhile longer!"

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shame Report 1- A Wasted Weekend

I had planned to work on Shame for two days. Saturday dawned with the news that tropical storm Fay was headed directly for our manufactured home in Zephyrhills, north of Tampa. I fussed all day, unable to focus on the task of getting my paints ready for a full session of painting. Needless to say the painting is along well enough now so some of the hard work, decisions, and drawing are pretty much nailed down. The painting is not easy to look at, although I hope that it will have some artistic merits, it is certainly one that raises many "issues" that lie buried in my subconscious mind, and some that are very much in the conscious memory banks.

Saturday seemed like a useless day. I have been working on the project of getting our slide collection onto digital media for at least 3 years. The approaching storm pushed me into a flurry of activity and I shot quite a few slides before packing them up to go to the "safer" storage facility made of steel and cinder block. I made the decision to save myself buckets of money by doing it myself, rather than having them professionally scanned and put on DVDs. It is unbelievably tedious work! I place the slides in a black holder (actually the slide holder that came with one of my old scanners)on my light table and shoot each slide with my digital camera. It came with a sun shade that screws onto the lens and provides a stable stand so I can shoot quite a few slides at a time. I decided not to shoot all of them, but select the best and take ones that show us, or people we know. The pretty scenes are pretty much, just that, pretty scenes, which at the time were incredible, but now, 20 years later, rather ho-hum to me, while shots of George hooking up the Airstream are precious memories.

Sunday I exhausted myself by removing all the loose gear from the carport and garden area. I had hoped for the focus to come in the afternoon, but my anxiety about moving out of my house to a Special Needs shelter was enough to make painting nearly an impossibility. All the photographs, a couple of paintings, and some other stuff all had to get to the storage unit. And I was also aware that I had to leave around 4pm to drive an hour away for a special birthday party in Springhill.

I must say that procrastination is very irritating, and after 7 years of procrastinating on this painting now that it is on my easel I feel somehow compelled to work on it as often as I can. What this week will bring is anyone's guess. The weather gurus can't seem to predict much about Fay and so I fret and try to get ready to leave my house with a few supplies and umpteen bottles of oxygen and myriad bottles of medications. Wish us luck!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Progress on Shame

As I write this tonight I am totally exhausted...spent, from working all afternoon on the Shame painting. It is coming along very well. Eventually I will post a photograph of it on this blog, but it needs a tweak in the composition which will have to happen next time I can work on it.

I don't like the multi-tasking that my life demands these days. But I have to manage everything, juggling time and tasks like rubber balls. Today, before I finally got into my studio around 1:00 I had to work on two websites I am redesigning in FrontPage, work on some postal cards and poster for an upcoming North Tampa Arts League Show, print 50 copies of the newsletter I produce for the job I do, fiddle with the laundry which has been in the dryer for at least 10 days (it is still there), and do some more work on my garden refit to make it less work and easier to manage. I finally quit working around 6:00 and only then cleaned up the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, soaked the coffee and tea makers in chlorox, and applied lineament to my sore shoulder.

The good news is that I was able to paint longer and more focused than last week, so progress is being made, not only with the painting but with the battle of my aging body!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Finally, the Feeling Series has begun again

My Feeling Series painting was started in 1994 but my idea to do paintings that depicted emotions came many years before that. I knew, when I first had the idea, that I was not up to the project. It took at least 15 years, a couple of years in art schools, several years of therapy and at least 10 years without alcohol and drugs in my system before I was emotionally ready to begin work on these canvases.

This is the first painting, called "Anger" which took the better part of a year to paint. These paintings are not intended to be universal; they are my emotions, and many symbols and images are from my dreams, my thoughts and feelings.

This one is "Fear". It has many references to death and various fears I have and presaged, in a very spooky way, the life altering event that came to me unexpectedly when we lost our entire retirement savings.
That event caused our unplanned move to Florida where we owned a home. I went to Rhode Island to close my gallery and studio, sell most of our furniture, art supplies, and a huge amount of stuff, while frantically finishing the Fear painting, which I knew I could never duplicate anywhere else. The rest of the series may be seen on my website:

I was unaware that I was going to have to start over in Florida and it proved to be demoralizing, as well as massively confusing. I had not worked for anyone else since 1977! I had to find work, my husband began to have serious health problems, and the lightning bolt hit me before I knew what had happened. It has been seven years. I could find work, and I could teach painting, but things were so different here. In Rhode Island I could easily fill a 5-day painting workshop. Here, they laughed at me if I suggested a painting class to be more than 2 or 3 hours.

The big derailment was the Feeling Series. The sheer size of them was daunting in my 10 x 12 spare bedroom studio. I used to work on them for 8 to 12 hours at a stretch, for weeks at a time. Now having time to paint for a whole day was not possible. Ever. How could I find the focus again? I worked for a brief time in a dreadful place that operated on shame. It brought up so many feelings and I thought "now is the time to start the Feeling Series again." I all ready knew what imagery I was going to use for the Shame Painting. So it got set up in this tiny studio 3 years ago! It has been mocking and shaming me every time I go in and out of my studio, seeing it there, ready to go, the canvas blank and turned against the wall.

On January 1st I made several resolutions. One was to either start the next Feeling Series painting or close the series at 7 paintings. I originally planned 12. It has been a daily affair of meditation, invocations, talks to myself, and talks with trusted friends and confidants, and finally the leap off the cliff happened last Sunday. It was exhausting. I not worked on a 48 x 36 inch canvas for a long time. My arm and shoulder hurt from reaching. My back hurts all the time anyway, but after lowering and raising the canvas numerous times it hurt much worse. I wanted to sit, but the energy needed me to stand.

It has begun...finally. I know I am up to the technical aspects of the painting; you don't forget those things. But I worry about the focus, the energy level, the commitment of time, and how to finagle my life around such limited resources of time and money. At one time I considered applying for a grant to finish these paintings, but was afraid that on the outside chance I got one I didn't know for sure I could fulfill the commitment. I am still not sure I can fulfill the commitment, but at least I don't have to pay back a grant! day at a time I will continue to wrestle with Shame. Check back for reports. I hope there will be reports, because that will mean there will be some progress.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Art Supplies Addiction

Two blogs I read every day both had Art Supplies as their topics. More specifically, the over acquisition of art materials and the proliferation of art supplies most of us won't use, and worse won't throw out. Feathers of Hope, by my friend and cousin "Pica" and her partner, "Numenius" is accessed at .The other blog is called Making a Mark, by British artist Katherine Tyrrell, and her extensive blog and website are wonderful reads.

Both bloggers mention disastrous economics that are affecting most of us in the US and evidently it has hit the UK as well. In financial bad times we are looking at budgets, spending habits, and trying to determine what we can afford to do without. I know I am doing all that on a daily basis. And the art supplies spending has seriously been curtailed. Pica, in her blog entry today, said that she managed to skip going into an art store during a recent trip to Berkeley. The compulsive trip to the art supply store always leads to at least one compulsive expenditure of something that I can rationalize at the time, and then wonder why I bought it when I discover enough similar items to last me for the rest of my life an hour later when I get home.

I can not offer any concrete suggestions on how to curtail the compulsion to buy art stuff. I do fairly well with the art books these days, but my downfall are brushes and my current obsession with pigments. I do not need any more brushes, but I'll throw in a few, just in case, when I am ordering online, and I can not pass the brush aisle in the stores and I always seem to find something for a great price that I can not live without. I have yet to discover the "perfect brush".

Pigments are fortunately fairly inexpensive and I justify buying them for this reason, and am always shocked when those "inexpensive" pigments I want add up to a hefty sum, minus the shipping. At the present time I have enough pigments on hand to last me for years, as well as brushes, gesso panels, oil paints, canvas, watercolors, more brushes, drawing supplies and papers, and printmaking papers, acrylics, fabric paint, markers, mat boards and frame supplies, and even boxes of colored pencils which I have not used in years. Not to mention the drafting supplies, stretcher strips, rolls of canvas and unprimed linen, bags of rabbit skin glue, jars, plastic containers, props for paintings, fabrics in many colors and textures, and various chairs, drafting tables, and other flotsam that takes up space but is not very practical, like the antique sewing table that belonged to my grandmother, that has drawers with pulls that are missing where I have to wrestle opening the drawers that contain my tubes of oil paint. "Why," I asked myself the other day, "do you have to keep this relic?", but I do. I finally managed to pass along the box of sculpture tools and oil based clay that I had brought with me when I moved to Florida even though I knew I would probably never do sculpture again.

I shudder to think how much all this has cost me over the years!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

More on Jurying Art Shows

I have a suggestion for Art Leagues. When they are looking for a juror or judge for their upcoming show they should formalize the search by having a selection committee that collects portfolios of the several candidates and their work should be reviewed and then the juror should be selected by the same process that the juror will ultimately judge the work of the members of the group. All's fair...etc.!

It would level the playing field a bit, right?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Art Competitions

I have never been comfortable with the idea of artists competing against each other. I try to avoid doing it as often as I can. Most of the art groups I have been a member of seem to thrive on this type of show, hiring a juror to give out awards and cash prizes. Some artists I know thrive on the competition and the boost it gives to their ego and morale but I find it depressing. And I am not talking about my own work being overlooked; I learned to develop a very thick skin about this type of thing a long time ago. In fact I had to unofficially act as a juror for one art club when the selected juror couldn't come, and was forced to select a unified show which necessitated throwing out my own work! Go figure that one! My work didn't look very good next to 35 or 40 blonde (or bland) paintings.

I find it depressing because it means nothing and so much seems to be hanging on the silly premise that one painting merits a ribbon or award more than another. I have been the recipient of these awards and was totally demoralized when the juror gave one of my minor monotypes an award and totally ignored one of my major paintings, that, in my opinion, was far superior to the one that got the ribbon. I chuck these ribbons in a drawer or the trash and try not to advertise myself as an "award winning artist". But the art world is rampant with this kind of fake self-serving adulation and both artists and galleries seem to think getting an award is some kind of criteria of worth. The truth is that if you enter a lot of shows the laws of averages will eventually catch up with you and ribbons will come your way.

I have been a juror too....anything for money, although I feel that I should decline when asked to jury a show, but I might as well get the money as someone else. It is so subjective, and the last show I judged was so difficult since they separated categories and all watercolors were grouped together and the winners were given prizes by default since there were only a few entries! Some of the categories clearly had a "winner"; a painting that really stood out ahead of the others. But I was told to give 4 awards in each category so there were many paintings that received awards that I normally would not have looked at twice. Picking between two really bad works of art is especially hard, and sometimes the deciding factor was the matte and frame! What a shame.

How can you pick a "best in show" when there are 50 or 60 paintings, ranging from abstract to super realism, watercolor and mixed media, photography, and collage? In the end it becomes the painting you like the best. It means nothing, for another judge will pick something else, and 50 or 60 judges may pick 50 or 60 different works in the same show. I seldom see a show that has such an outstanding painting everyone agrees it is the best one of the lot.

One art club that hired me to be a juror thought that it would be fairer to have two people doing the judging, but what they didn't know was that we had to constantly negotiate with each other about which painting would get the awards....I get my pick, then she got hers. (And I was very annoyed at her picks and the criteria she used for judging the works were silly, in my opinion.) Fair? It didn't made any difference, and when she left early I got to select my own picks anyway.

I feel somewhat differently about the selection of works that will be in a show. There are so many feet of wall space in the gallery and a juror will often be hired to select a show that has a "look" to it, or theme, or coordinate the paintings in a cohesive way. This is different from the attempt to select an artwork of merit. I am reminded of one of my favorite authors who submitted a manuscript to publishers 900 times before someone published the best selling book he wrote!

I say to myself every time that I'm not going to support this system any more, but wind up doing it over and over anyway. I know it means nothing. It would be so nice if our business was like horseracing, or triathlons....the clear winner comes over the finish line first...but wait a minute. What about that horse that had a shot of dope before the race? Is that fair? Did that horse win honestly? The athletes who need teams of medical doctors, psychiatrists, managers, and lawyers to get ahead....hummm. Maybe I'll stick to this art competition thing. At least I have not heard yet of the juror being paid off...not yet at any rate.

Monday, July 7, 2008


I confess to a kind of obsession with storms, especially hurricanes. I love painting storms...all those dark clouds look so ominous and threatening. I have been in many hurricanes, living along the shoreline of Connecticut introduced to me to some very scary times starting in 1954 when Carol did a huge amount of damage to the island where I lived and wrecked my boat which was my pride and joy at the time. We thought it was over when the eye passed over us and we all went out to investigate and got caught out in it when the eye ended and we were nearly swept away trying to get back to the house. Memories like that never fade!

One of the big advantages of the Elmira College Show is that 48 of my paintings are out of Florida at least for part of the hurricane season and this is a big plus. I keep most of them in a steel and cinder block storage building during most of the year, as it is impractical to have them in my small house. Our "manufactured home" (Florida vernacular for mobile home) is very vulnerable and for half the year I am constantly conscious that any one of those tropical messes is a potential disaster for us, or at least a major inconvenience due mandatory evacuation which for us, is to a special needs shelter that provides electricity for oxygen machines.

In 2004 we had to evacuate 3 times for Charley, Frances and Jeanne. Charley was forecast to track straight up Tampa Bay and head directly for us, so we decided to leave for safer parts and went to visit friends in the middle of the state. (This was prior to the oxygen machines). Sebring is quite a distance from either coast, and about two hours from where we live, and we figured we would be safe as well as have some fun visiting with old friends. Before we left I quickly assembled all the photograph albums, my computer and enough art supplies to work on a watercolor of a hastily chosen sunset photograph I took shortly after we moved here.

The irony of that trip was that Charley took a left turn well south of Tampa Bay and headed directly across Florida and we were right in the path of this very intense but quite small hurricane. It left a path of destruction from Port Charlotte through Sebring, and on to Lake Wales, Orlando and Daytona and on out into the Atlantic where it finally blew itself out.

While Charley was tearing up the state I calmed my nerves by working on my little watercolor which I entitled "Wildsky". The title fit very well both the painting and the situation! A few weeks later the next storm started tracking toward us and so I gathered up a new sky photograph and the art supplies and headed for a brick home of a friend in Dade City, about 10 miles from us. It was too exhausting trying to deal with a two hour trek to Sebring and deal with a terrible trip home which was anything but fun! So the next two hurricanes, Jeanne and Frances were spent closer to home and produced "Wildsky II" and "Wildsky III". I sold the series at my retrospective the following September.

For those two evacuations I had gained some experience and fitted myself out with a light that was mounted on a headband so I could have hands free and light for my painting. I also found a nifty battery powered small fan which not only kept me cool but helped dry the watercolor. This high tech portable studio was invaluable in keeping me emotionally intact during these storms which were not quite hurricane force by the time they reached us.

I wonder if I can produce a painting at the special needs shelter if we have to depart hastily for such an unpleasant occurance.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Photographs of the Show

Here are a couple of pictures of how the gallery looked just before my opening. It is a lovely gallery with a spectacular floor and lots of spotlights that made picture taking a bit tricky. My photos are not wonderful, and the work seems kind of puny in the photos, but you get the idea of how they were arranged and it was a pretty wild array of color when you walked in the door. I really liked the rolling panels. I built similar panels for my gallery in Westerly and they are really useful. Here they were used to show my drawings with an arrangement on each side and placing them in the middle of the floor didn't block the view so much as invite you to investigate further. I did not have the drawings in frames but used the corner clips that sandwiched the matte, backing and a piece of plastic over it. It was fairly satisfactory and they were very light which was my aim in view of the price of shipping 48 paintings and 17 drawings. 5 paintings and 2 drawings were sold at the opening!

The show will be hanging until the beginning of September and is open during the summer by appointment. Contact me if you want to arrange to see the show and I'll get you phone numbers and contacts.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Elmira College Solo Show

Elmira, New York, is quite an out-of-the-way place. It is south of the Finger Lakes, about 30 miles from Ithaca, and about 40 miles (give or take a few) west of Binghamton.
Now you can see my show without spending a dime on gas, or lodgings!
It was a very exciting event for me and the show will be in the gallery (open by appointment) until September.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Today I hung a rather large solo show of my work at Elmira College. I went to college here and managed to graduate in 1963. I was very honored to be invited to have my work on display for Alumni weekend. It will hang in the gallery at the college through the summer.

My good friend Kit helped me unpack the work yesterday and today we managed to hang 48 painting and 15 drawings. She has helped me hang many of my shows and I rely on her keen eye for detail and her wonderful sense of balance and visual cohesiveness...and she prods me to rehang works that are not spaced right, which I would probably leave as is.

It is no accident that I decided to include in the show several nude drawings. This was in honor of the lady who was then dean of students who got wind of the fact that I was drawing from live nude models in my room and threatened to expel me if I persisted. She claimed that the college had a very satisfactory art department with models I could use. My response was "yes, but they put them in black leotards and I'm interested in flesh", at which point she got very pale and came back with her threat of expulsion. It was clear that we would never see eye to eye on this subject. I promised to mend my ways, and continued to draw several of my classmates who were willing models.

My show looks very wonderful in the large gallery with an amazing highly polished floor and plenty of spot lights to illuminate the works on the wall. The opening is to be this Friday night and I am really looking forward to it.