Posts Tagged ‘St. Croix’

The Face Of The Earth

May 7, 2012

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No, I did not fall off of it.

Merely lending my aesthetics and focus to This Old House. Having a house in the Caribbean is a full time job. It’s an environment that never shuts off and caring for a house here is like having triplets that never  leave home.

By the time you make an improvement to one area, it’s adjacent component screams out ” I’m old and suffering too” !

I didn’t attempt this myself- honestly I’d rather move and dump everything than paint. Everything gets displaced and that requires considering whether you keep it, clean it, throw it out or give it away.

You can see why I wouldn’t attempt this myself:

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I’d be one of the Falling Wallendas

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Michelangelo and house painters deserve high praise and a life time subscription to chiropractic.

Worth it.

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These are the triplets I refer to:

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I know, they don’t look like that much trouble……

I did manage to paint a portrait of my son for his birthday. He is very kind and much handsomer than his Fallen Off The Face Of The Earth mother’s skill in portraiture would reveal:

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With thanks to Ted Davis and Emy Thomas who reminded me that they missed my blog. So did I.

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” Reverie ” – New Painting

May 5, 2011

” Reverie ” 9 X 12 oil on Ray Mar Panel

A few months ago, we were treated to a world class concert by musicians Dennis Cahill and Martin Hayes. Fiddle, guitar, Irish Folk and Try To Sit Still music. Hypnotic and contagious, I was taken with Dennis’ focused, calm intensity.

Working from a photograph taken that night by the talented Ted  Davis of D & D Studio, St. Croix, I tried to capture that mood. Thanks Ted.

How it began:

Ted’s photo, my sketch.

I like the unfinished, under worked quality of the piece. As hard as it is sometimes to lay down the first brush stroke, it’s often as hard to know when to lay down the dang brush and call it done.

These characters always know when to call it done. It’s usually after a snack, before a snack, after a walk, before a walk, and when we’re in the bed.

Cloud has her own particular Reverie and it often looks like this:

You Been Axin’ Where I’ve Been?

October 29, 2009

Not painting. That’s where. Here’s the winter line up so far: Major outside land overhaul, some with help, much of it by my own hand.

To the tune of ” Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend”

” A kiss on the cheek may be quite continental, But a pick ax is a girls best friend”.

driveway

Yup, pickin’ and axin’ for back trouble but the good things grow as fast as the unwanted ones so you have to work fast after the land is cleared. All 39 holes dug and filled. Quick before those relentless snake plants take over again. Here, they’re referred to as Mother in Law Tongues. ( that’s only if the son in law is a jerk ).

More beds defiled of unwanted invaders and enhanced with things I actually like looking at:

new bed

Done. Actually the bottle of Advil is empty.

Next on the lineup: Coordinating a considerable size art show as a fund raiser for a newly formed non profit organization called the Sunshine Foundation. They provide much needed low cost spay/neuter services for those families who otherwise could not afford it. Overpopulation and feral packs of animals are a blight here.

” Artists For Animals” is going to be held on December 5th in a beautiful gallery space here. We’ve received eager responses from 32 of the islands most sought after artists to show for a one night event.

Pulling this together has many of the same characteristics as herding cats and collecting spilled mercury from a broken thermometer ( yes, before digitals ). I’m putting three of my newest pieces in the show and luckily they’re already completed.

And then, and then, the arrival next week of FIVE, yes FIVE friends from NY and Boston who expect to sleep in beds devoid of spider webs, mold, unidentifiable rust spots, and wish also to eat, and even imbibe in some beverages generally associated with vacation.

I’m in uber-cleaning, shopping, vacuuming, laundry mode ( damn where’s that bottle of Advil and Advil PM?)

Three of the five are friends first but also fellow bloggers:

Judy of Lobos Rants, Carol of Carolking, and Mary of 2Frames per Second

Away went the paints, easel, dropcloths and the nasty detritus of an oil painters warren to allocate sleeping space on the Murphy Bed in my studio which will become a photographers’ dorm since both Mary and Elise are professional photographers.

Fearful that my painting hand would not only atrophy but strike at midnight for better care and, well, some kind of recognition from it’s owner, this same owner thought it a good idea to try something in watercolor. Much less to take out and put away.  I’ve been a long time fan of Peggi Kroll Roberts and the gorgeously simple way she sees shifts of color and values. I’ve had some of her postcards on my bulletin board for a few years and have been reading about her terrific workshops of late, taken by Faye Christian Phillips and Ed Terpening. Ed’s comes with a video demo by Peggi- very cool.

I’ve tried an imitation as I don’t know how better to flatter her and thank her for her great work. It’s not that I want to paint like her as much as I want to SEE like she does.

So Peggi, pardon the pedestrian-ness but here’s to you!

Peggi’s

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Not Peggi :

homagetopeggi

Well, excuse me, but I’m off to find little paper umbrellas for beverages  for friends who think they’re coming to the Tiki room or something……

Work in Progress, But a Different Sort

August 16, 2009

I was invited to do the cover art for a Virgin Islands-centric publication that’s widely circulated in the territory. Two separate covers- one for October, one for November.

The editor had a general topic in mind  and left the execution to me. The subject incorporates our amazing stilt dancers called “ Mocko Jumbies ” known as our Guardians of Culture.

B&W jumbie

Pencil sketch for the angular poses and foreshortening I was looking for.

They loom 12 feet over the crowds on 5-6 foot stilts and parade down cobbled streets with agility the rest of us couldn’t know of in sneakers.

I’ll post the finished piece and the official cover after it goes to publication.

But I enjoyed the process of sketching out ideas, working out color placements, and experimenting with mediums and techniques that I haven’t used in years.

jumbie watercolor study

Watercolor sketch for color and perspective ideas…

B&W cover with headingWorking out some scale and composition ideas. Exaggeration is good for eye appeal.

jumbie gouache color

Gouache on canvas- a new combination of effects. Lots of experimenting on cotton canvas panels before going for the finished piece.

Now I’m starting on the second cover- different theme.

Aiming for productivity despite the cutest damn puppy ever:

belly up

AND, the looming threat of Tropical Storm Bill, churning up the Eastern Atlantic, moving towards, we hope, not us.

Cloud Nine- A New Work of Art

August 8, 2009

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Meet: Cloud

Cloudface

Gauge scale of dog by size of laundry basket.

every breath she takes

” You are kidding, puppy, “ I say to this face.

goofball

She ambushed me with her extreme cuteness and baby goat-like appearance. Could you pass this by if you saw it on the side of a road? Two days in the house and she’s already a lady.

A push and play puppy already assembled with amber eyes, Zen calm, smarts, sweetness and delivered by the spirits, maybe not coincidentally, on my birthday August 5.

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Ears suitable for aircraft landing signals.

But as an artist, you can’t let yourself get poleaxed by sentimentality. Time to stop mooning over this puppy and concentrate on an art deadline coming up at the end of the month.

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How am I doing so far?

Then there was THIS:

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What was I supposed to DO?

I did the best I could- and here is the result.

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Maybe tomorrow……..

angel encounter

But right now, I’m a little busy…….

As precious as Cloud is, and as lucky, there are far too many dogs and cats running feral, unwanted, abused and non-neutered here on St. Croix.

Support and encourage neutering and spaying programs wherever you can. Right here, we’re lucky to have The Sunshine Foundation, a non profit, educational outreach spay and neuter center within the walls of The Sugar Mill Veterinary Clinic. Their goal and message is to end pet overpopulation.

( just glad Cloud entered the population……..)

One Digit Off

April 27, 2009

intheshadowblog-copyIn the Shadow 6 X 8 oil on linen panel

A recent upgrade in our phone lines resulted in a mandatory change of my phone number. I am now one digit off from an ” after hours spot ” known as a getaway for husbands and wives- not necessarily those who are there together.

At least 3 or more times a week, often in the wee hours after midnight, my phone rings next to the bed. It’s like a de-fib machine, startling me awake, with some voice asking if this is the club. Are they kidding? Why are you calling a club at 3 AM? How can you not know what number you’re calling at that hour? I’m not changing my phone again- I have cards, mailers, printed material and am not going to re-do everything.

Our other phone, which is a business number that rings in the house was also one digit off from a local electrical service company. Every day, we got calls from people looking to hire electricians.

Pre-dating these occurences was  my time at home in my teen years when after finally getting my own phone, I was yet again, one digit off from a well known dance studio and fielded more wrong numbers.  Usually resulted in slamming the phone down, feeling hugely disappointed that it wasn’t the object of my teenage heartbreak angst.

A funny pattern to follow you through your life, don’t you think?

I was careful not to have the lady in the shadow, above, have any digits off. She probably needs them all to dial my house at 3 in the morning when she’s looking for her boyfriend.

Maybe I need to release a few of these in the club to clear it out and allow me a good nights’ sleep……………

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The title was not intended to refer to the case of the careless carpenter. He’s probably at the club too. Or working for the electrical company.

A New Painting using a Limited Palette

March 16, 2009

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Solo 8X10 oil on linen panel

Limited palette consisting of : Yellow Ochre, Cad Red Lt., Phtalo Blue, Titanium White and Mars Black ( didn’t have Ivory Black but living on an island, you learn to substitute ). Minimizing colors is good practice to force yourself to see in a simple way, warm/cool, light/dark. I’m not fond of using black and perhaps Ivory would have been softer than Mars. This was a slight variation of the Zorn Palette which you can read more about on another blog I found here and see what Anders Zorn produced with a minimal use of color here at their website.

What was also limited was the amount of time I gave myself to finish this piece. I toned the canvas first in a drippy wash and went right to work with placing darks and mass- no drawing. Drawing with charcoal first is something I’m used to doing to get the figure in proportion. It also encourages the undesired characteristic of painting by ” filling in the lines ” rather than seeing shapes in relation to each other.

I’m taking another workshop next week, here on St. Croix, and wanted to loosen up before the class begins. I’m pleased with what looks like essence and gesture. Not including the wonky bend in the neck of the guitar. I promised myself that I wasn’t ” going in ” to re-do or do-over or fix it a little. This is it.

I also promised I would wash the cat by hand next time……

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Oh 9.

January 5, 2009

We have high hopes for you, if you’re listening. And if you’re not, we may shout at you to get your attention. I think we’re all feeling hopeful, weary, leery, and more plucky. And aware.

So this is how oh 8 finished out for us here.

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No fireworks, no parties, just a quiet moment in another day and a farewell to an era not any too soon.

We planned  house projects that ideally are best done when the Christmas Winds blow through here and keep the temperature and winds in the perfect zone for heavy lifting. We set aside these past few weeks to get grunt work done.

Unfinished back yard + 2 dogs that love to dig + endless dust blowing like a scirocco around the house + too many years looking at it = one woman on a tear. Pavers! The answer to the problem.

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Except that our backyard is two full sets of steps DOWN from the driveway where they waited in the back of our truck. Pavers! They measure 16″X16″ and weigh about 25 lbs each and we had 60 of them. Bang out the number of trips up and down the steps ( 26 of them )  on your abacus. And add to that the buckets of gravel we shoveled at the quarry and carried down. Pick-ax the ground to break up the rocky surface, sift, smooth, lay in a paver, a spacer block, another paver and on it went. We had a good rhythm.

A gym? Nah.

A chiropracter maybe, or an orthopedic specialist.

pavers-and-beamer

Site inspector comes with level and football. Never can tell when it’s work or play and you should always be prepared.

There were activities that included and involved one of my favorite items of nutritional content: Pies-

pumpkin-pie

Pumpkin.

Meals at friends, meals at the house, dishes, cooking, casseroles transported, cakes under plastic domes in air conditioned back seats, the island in full holiday spirit with minimal tinsel and abundant spirits. Simple, really.

table-set

Learned a feature of my camera that enables very low light photos to be taken without flash. I found these two curled up together for the first time in the dog bed during the night.

beamer-and-angel-on-bed

Enough fluff. I know, you’re all saying it. ” Where’s the damn paintings already”?

Mike Rooney wrote about the malaise of painting to produce works to sell instead of painting to learn the process and feeling good about the bad ones. I read it and re-read it. That’s where I’m at. He refers to it as pontificating as if he needs to be apologizing for being right and practical.

Oh 9, you’re gonna be the year I get over this hurdle.

I Asked Myself That Same Question!

December 17, 2008

What IS that?

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It wasn’t pulsating. That was reasurring. There was no eerie glow.  I had no idea. I’d never seen anything like this anywhere. And where WAS this you might wonder ?  It appeared overnight in one of my outdoor flowerpots.

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What IS this?

” Is this an egg “, I thought. What kind of animal produces an egg that does THAT ? Sort of builds itself a useless parachute and then puts holes in it. Didn’t make sense.

This induced nonsensical explanations in my head – Dr. Seuss was involved in crossbreeding a wiffle ball and a quail egg.

Another possibliity, not so benign -something already hatched out of that egg , will grow exponentially larger and by next week, we’ll be on the mothership,  abducted by the pod people.

The first call was to my friend Scott in Vieques, a writer and knower of all things horticultural, who knew what this was and gave me the Latin.

Clathraceae

They’re in the mushroom family. The fruiting body is the cage like formation which attracts flies to enter, feed and with their feet, spread the spores. Oh, goody. More of these.

The egg like structure has root formations from which this whole bizarre array of fungii originate. With names like ” Phallus ravenelii, Mutinus caninus, Phallus hadriani, how can you not go look at the link above!

Michael Kuo has great photos and writes well and knowledgeably.

They last a day and then they’re gone.

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That cold front that blasted New England worked its’ way down here. I only mention it ( see how squally, windy and overcast it was ?) because it coincided hilariously with our local, early morning weather channel.

It showed our local temperature in Christiansted this morning as -10. Minus ten. Clearly the proofreader was busy doing other things. It wasn’t THAT cold. Even though there’s snow on my blog. Happy Holidays.

Yes, there’s no painting to post. But industry lives, as does creativity. I’m taking a small detour to do another furniture piece for a fund raiser-the same cause I did  Chairman Meow for last year.

Watercolor of Water Color- A Painting in the Incubator

September 12, 2008

I’m not a watercolor artist but I like using them for quick, studies before I start a painting. It gives me some idea of placement of figures, relationships to each other and their background, and some color balance.

Saw these two brothers at a pocket beach and liked the way big brother turned to look after his charge and the way the little guy followed in his steps. Great to have trees on a beach- you can jump behind a bough and shoot anonymously.

Needs some adjusting in the twist of the big brothers’ body at right, but now I can see it.

Consider this a partial WIP, and when the finished painting is ready, I’ll post it. Maybe this will get Bill of “ On Painting ” off my back for a few days……..

A must mention here of Mike Rooneys‘ blog. I asked him a question about color values and he didn’t just give me a perfunctory answer. He gave me a tutorial- a set of Cliff Notes, a mini Wikipedia of instructions on how to learn to see color better. Please have a look at his blog, see his wonderful paintings that are filled with light, and observe how a flatbed truck can make you wish you could paint one like this. And then chief those same notes about looking at color.

I learned the difference between zoom and digital zoom on my new camera. THIS is digital zoom.

Get a room……

They did, and it happened to be our deck.