Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Christmas

Yes, I'm still here. That sure was a long "wait,wait" between postings! Thank you for your patience.

The reference for this painting was discovered on a snowy ride to the beach. My sister-in-law and I were headed to do some photography for a possible commission when we passed this old vehicle. It definitely called to us to stop and take some pictures.

Why was it there beside the road? In all sorts of weather? Surely that light would never be sufficient for driving. The image stayed with me and I hurried home to get it on canvas. Then I realized it was a "God" thing. Who is always there - beside the road and wherever I am? In all sorts of weather? It's God. How could I have failed to realize that it's God's light that is guiding this vehicle and us.

May God guide your steps through a wonderful Christmas and into a meaningful and joyous New Year.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Old Is New Again

In an attempt to create a more contemporary treatment of my favorite subject, cars, I started by by skewing the composition. This car was not actually climbing a hill, just posed for take off. Recently I've been drawn to mixed media collages - innumerable layers of brilliant colors signifying something or nothing as the case may be. What would I do for the background? Or more importantly, why was I painting a Nash in the first place? Perhaps both questions could be solved together. So I wrote what this car meant to me. I would paint the words into the background. But then would the words dominate the car? Should they wrap around the car or read like a regular page interrupted by the car? So you can see my dilemma.

I decided that each effort could stand on its own merit - the painting and the remarks. So the background became a loose collection of vibrant marks - which I discovered looked a little like tire tracks. And here are the results.

My freckled little brother sat between our mother and father. His car seat was held securely in place by two metal arms that curved over the back of the front seat. My brother was blonde just like our Dad, but Dad's hands were dark with grease and oil from his job as a mechanic. He worked long hours yet always had time to help others with their ailing vehicles. Dad had lots of car stories. My brother was too young to understand the finer points of standard transmission repair or installation of those new directional signals. But what my brother could always do was spot a Nash. Regardless of the vintage or model, he would point his finger and shout, "At's a Nash" and he was always right.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blast from the Past

What? No pictures? This better be good!

Remember, don't be afraid to fail. Something good may come out of it - like a posting.

Many years have passed, so now it can be told. Occasionally I wrote school assignments for my kids. It was a tradition from my own years in school when my mother wrote assignments for me. Once in a while, when my activities loomed larger than my homework, my mother would say, "Dear, don't worry, I'll do it". And then she would wait anxiously for "her" grade.

However my daughter was up against an issue of unfairness. She was driven to high school by her "always late" Dad. Obviously she got into trouble for the constant tardiness. Driven to frustration and trying to make a point, her teacher demanded an essay on the situation. Talk about conflict. So naturally, I said, "Don't worry Honey, I'll do it."

So, from many years ago, here is "her" completed assignment.

"The Lowell's are always late. It's a proud tradition of tardiness passed from generation to generation.

My grandmother was not only always late but could usually be counted on to have a flat tire enroute to her destination. She even had a dog that was late in making it outside and left a disaster in the front hall. My father stepped on a nail before his wedding and was late for the service. As a child I thought all moves began in the middle and breakfasts were supposed to be cold.

Now that I am older, I face a great decision. Whether it is nobler in mind to disregard time in order to fulfill my ancestor's destiny or live my life punctually, thus becoming the black sheep of the family.

The tardy bell has just rung so I'll have to make my decision later."

As luck would have it "I" never received a grade. My daughter's teacher merely said that the paper "cracked him up". Surely that merits a B+ at the very least?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Goofy Stuff

Years ago I took an extension course at the University. It was a three class program in Interior Design. As my readers may know, my personal design theory is eclectic. Actually the first time I heard that word was in Bloomingdale's Furniture Department. One particular room design was referred to as "eclectic" but I thought the word was "neglectic". Being a mother of three small children I knew all about the "style of neglect". At any rate, I had a great interest in decorating and was thrilled to be taking the classes. One of my instructors shared that she had just received the commission of "doing" a restaurant. Initially I felt sorry that she was stuck decorating a "goofy restaurant". No bedrooms or living rooms, just dining rooms. In my youthful estimation, she belonged doing amazing homes that ended up in magazines. I would soon realize that interior design was also space planning not just paint color and furniture.

So in my own career "goofy restaurants" have fallen into my lap. I thought I should be doing grand canvases. Instead I began a long list of "goofy" stuff that has served me well.

A neighbor inquired if I was willing to paint on cement. Come to find out she had an unsightly well tile and so it was up to me to cover it with faux rocks. The first rocks disappeared in the winter snows and, in that way, I learned to prime first! The next year's crop of rocks lasted just fine. I have since painted signs and even a rolling gun card for this same neighbor.
I started painting on shards of found slate. Many of the old homes in our area had slate roofs, and as they fell into disrepair, were sadly demolished. Friends collected these bits and pieces for me. Each painted piece came with its own easel and I called the collection "Window Sill Art". My first residential commissions were on slate.

Another friend had a doll house business. I had no idea how complete doll houses had become right down to chandeliers. So, of course, they also needed original art. I started by painting the tiny furniture of a baby's room with bear designs. The wardrobe was my first effort when, suddenly from beneath my brush, emerged a rather dashing bear looking like he was sneaking off to the races. By the time I got to the crib my "bears" had settled into pastoral comfort. I also painted a tiny screen to look like a fancy drape, and a panoramic hope chest in addition to tiny framed paintings. It certainly schooled me in the art of making tiny details.

A former neighbor discovered a painting lying along side the road that led to the dump. "Could it be valuable from a famous artist?" he asked. Although my knowledge of art history was limited I felt I could safely assure him it wasn't a discarded masterpiece so I offered to restore it. I tenderly cleaned it, enhanced the faded color, and stuck it in a frame. Unfortunately I discovered that he didn't even like the painting and was just interested in its potential value. Oh well, live and learn.

Which brings us to the present. I am currently painting a shoe that is longer than I am tall,heavier than me, and most definitely, unwearable. Watch for the installation on June 6th in Rochester, NH. This is, for certain, the goofiest thing yet.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In Search of Chairs

During my artistic career I have painted a number of chairs. "Aunt Mim's Chair" was a sunny gold upholstered chair sitting in the corner of my aunt's home. "Out of the Weather" was a beat up relic left on the front porch of a shack somewhere in Montana. There was my girl friend's chair complete with her antique doll house. There were wicker chairs on the porch of Stoneledge Farm and a red chair for my son to hang in his dorm room. After all how could he get through school without one of my chairs? But never any people. "Why don't you put someone in the chair?" my cousin asked. That just wasn't a part of my artistic vision. The only people I have ever painted were my family, because they are not allowed to complain. Besides how could I have gotten them to pose in Aunt Mim's chair or somewhere in Montana?
But I do have a vested interest in chairs, not only to paint, but for my own use.

After years in a tiny Tampa condo, we moved to Pensacola. A large part of the incentive to move was that I would have my own studio. A whole room with just my stuff - everything but the kitchen sink. I wasn't in Pensacola to make the final purchase decision, but that studio sold me on the whole place sight unseen. I started collecting paint cards because my studio would definitely be decorated. A series of shelves were added to the closet. A drying rack was placed along one wall. I would also have a television and stereo. Time went on, color choices made and I was painting canvases again, not just walls.
But I didn't have an easy chair. This condo was much larger than the last and our furniture just didn't stretch as far. So down I went to the local furniture store where they just happened to have a sale. I chose a buff colored tub chair that swiveled. We hauled it home and it fit perfectly.

As fate would have it, we were to move again, this time back to my home in NH. We put on an addition for a larger studio this time. It was and still is a "pinch me" experience. What was an old outside deck area is now a hardwood floor, soaring ceilings, a sky light and plenty of shelves, racks, cupboards and drawers. My Pensacola chair would look just right.
But my husband didn't have a chair for his downstairs den. The budget was tight and it seemed only right to give him my studio chair. So I just dragged in a kitchen chair when the sun was perfect to sit and read. Prices were so high I just stopped looking.
My girlfriend and her brother were in charge of emptying an aunt's house after she had passed on. There, in the cool aisle of the barn among many yard sale items, sat a unique upholstered chair. It was a soft green, had a modest skirt and four buttons marching along the curving back. It had probably been a boudoir chair but it didn't matter to me. It "sat" good. How much would they want? I set a top price of $50. in my head - no higher than that. It was only FIVE DOLLARS and they offered to deliver! Sold. We trucked it home, hauled it up the stairs and it now sits in my sunny window. I may even paint it someday.

So this is about perseverance and maintaining your artistic vision. In my paintings there will always be space available for you to "sit" down in your imagination. Should you venture to my studio, you are also welcome to sit in my $5 chair.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Really Bad Blue

It was after my mother had died that I decided to strip off the kitchen wallpaper. My husband had returned to his job in another state so I had plenty of time to work. Originally I had hung the wallpaper. It was a small vinyl print with little green flowers on a white background - so very 1980's. I pushed the furniture into the center of the room. It was good therapy, peeling the old covering, then washing off the glue. It didn't matter if there were piles of paper on the floor. Although the removal was therapeutic, it obviously comes to an end.

Color. Rich, glorious, in your face color. I love it. So it was time to spread my wings and shape up the old cottage. I decided to do an accent wall. Just a little bit of space behind the counter - sort of a poor mans back splash! It would be blue. Deep, vibrant blue.

Getting a new can of paint is like a gift. It's an opportunity to change perceptions of any given space. It was time for a statement. Not waiting to prime, I spread the blue with great gusto. Wait a minute. It's not so great... Why isn't this working? I spent the afternoon trying to make myself enjoy the blue. Sure it needed another 17 coats.... Was I already going to throw in the towel? What would my family think? They would hate it. Sooooooo, at 10pm I was painting over my misbegotten blue. What a mistake. I didn't want anyone to see. But my daughter-in-law called and asked what I was up to. After hedging, I admitted the mistaken color which I was covering up. She said "You have to take a picture". Oh no I don't. She insisted and I did. So here we are almost seven years later. I've started "waitwait" the blog and what could be more appropriate than my mistaken blue.

However, the cottage was now mine and I wanted to be a good steward. Taupe came next. It was neutral, classic but, eventually, boring. Then it was green for about a day and a half. Why was this so difficult? They say you shouldn't make any decisions after a death in the family, but this was just "color". I poured through my extensive color card library. It was a rainy day - a very rainy day. NH was flooding. Roads were closed. People were evacuated. BUT I found my color!! It was terrarosa. The phone rang, it was my brother. "What are you up to today?" he asked. I told him I was going to Sherwin Williams. "But the roads are closed", he said. It made no difference. From the first brush stroke it was love! Terrarosa is not red or rose or peach, it's a compilation of all those colors depending how the light hits it.

The remainder of my blue paint went to the local theater group. Hopefully they have a night time drama coming up soon.

Sooooo don't give up. The longer the journey, the sweeter the arrival.

Really Bad Blue

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Art Lessons

Naturally my granddaughters are the very best, brightest and most talented kids! That being said, we can all use some further instructions in life. That's when my role as grandmother/art teacher began.

DOING stuff has always been interesting for me. Having two eager girls to join my adventures has been gratifying. Not being trained as a teacher, I looked for some guidance. Kumon Workbooks, which are available from the bookstore, offered brightly colored pictures to cut, paste and follow the maze. The material was a great beginning.

It's been fun to see their personalities come out in their work. My six year old spends a great deal of time developing her work. She will do the assignment as well as initiate her own experimentation. My four year old is very passionate. One sticker is never enough, rather she favors a pile format, one on top of another. Her color choice is very dramatic - black is her latest favorite.

Of course we are also creating gifts for the family. Their gifts for Dad were paperweights. I shrunk some of the girls' photos down to stamp size and they used mod podge to glue them onto the rocks. The only glitch was the rocks were quite large. Oh well, it meant more pictures. And should a hurricane hit their Dad's office,he is well prepared.

They have taught me much in this process as well. Once I was taking my four year old through the steps of creating a sea monster. Each one of the coils rose above the surface of the water giving the impression of a mighty beast. When the last coil was ready to put into place, she calmly informed me that she would rather put it on her balloon and did so. It has been a challenge for me to "not help". Even though I wanted the results to be wonderful, I've learned that is not the point.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


One of my objectives in doing this blog is to remain true to my "Mission Statement". No wandering off course. Recently I posted "What's with all those cars and trucks?" It took me four tries until it posted. Soooooo don't give up out there. Although the layout is nothing to write home about - each successive try looked better.

Persistence will, eventually, get the job done. Case in point: the mural at our local Inn. As a kid I painted five foot daisies on the hall wall - no pressure there! The six inch grass was also a piece of cake. Another time I polka dotted my girls' bedroom walls with round red circles of contact paper. So I have a history of adventuresome decorating. The Inn is a totally different situation. The subject has to be recognizable - additionally it has to be a credit to a beautiful old building being gracefully restored.
The reference material came from our town history book. Years ago Labor Day was celebrated with parades and a band concert. As a former "summer person" turned "year rounder" I wonder if all the excitement was due to the annual departure of the summer residents!
The space is about eight feet wide covering two adjacent walls. It's bordered by a chair rail and well lit. Initially the corner of the composition was the most problematic. Once that was resolved the composition fell into place. Sure there are a few cases of "artistic license" but I'm not recreating the photograph.
The first day of work was very intimidating. I wanted to get something recognizable on the wall immediately. I traced over the design I had done at home with transfer paper. Oooooops, I forgot to gesso the wall first. Losing all that work was unacceptable. So I blocked in each area with tinted gesso. It looked like I knew what i was doing!
I photograph the results after each work session, so I have something to study at home. So far the results are encouraging. It appears that, once again, persistence is working.