August 1, 2000
It's one a.m. and for want of sleep I stumbled out of bed (disturbing his majesty, the cat at my feet). I put on a pot of tea which I am now enjoying with a piece of toast and marmalade while I bring you up to date on the works progress and other art news.
Quite a bit has happened since we last met. Yes, I have been painting and ideally I should have been recording the progress but as you well know your real world rarely bears any relation to your ideal world. I sold one of my favorite paintings which came at an ideal time as our daughter, Heather, is to be married on the 22nd of this month. As you might expect, much of my time has been taken preparing for this exciting event. Unlike Martha Stewart who obviously lives in her ideal world it takes me more time to renovate a rotten deck and replace it with brick. Martha would probably hand pick bricks of just the right age and color while I found my treasures in a pile beside an old building on Eastports waterfront. To be sure they are bricks of age and history as they were part of an old sardine factory. They still have mortar on them so I have to chisel it off. This is time consuming (Martha would have hired someone to chisel it off). With any luck my patio will be finished by the 22nd but if not it will not be the end of the world. I'm taking a lot of pleasure in doing it myself, and I know Heather will take as much pleasure in seeing what I've done with the old homestead.
I also set up a few of my paintings in a display window in town and direct viewers to visit me at my studio. This has worked well for me because it brings only the people who will buy something rather than the casual viewer who is looking for entertainment. I have never had a store front. I choose the name Harbor Gallery when applying for a sales tax number, etc. It seemed as good a name as any and some day I might have a retail location outside of my home. I don't think I would want to work the location myself because so much time would be away from the painting table. I also have my work hanging at a nice Water St restaurant again directing folks to my studio. This is working well for the same reasons.
On another business matter I had a visit from an out of state gallery owner. The owner requested that I send photos of particular paintings and that if a client was interested in the work I could ship it for viewing. Since I did not know the gallery I first did a bit of research on the internet. I felt it was prudent to investigate a gallery that I had never been to before shipping out a work. My search confirmed the galleries credentials as a business in good repute. I bring this up because the artist is often so eager for recognition that he or she will ignore basic precautions in their business dealings. Everything should be in writing. If a gallery is not willing to follow normal business practices the artist is better off not dealing with them. There are some good books available to the artist just starting out. I will try to include these in my order form over time.
Now onto the work in progress.
Tom, my husband and valued critic (damn him) kept saying are you sure you measured the window. He asked this a couple of times in passing my work until I acknowledged him. "Okay, what's wrong," I said. "You better take another look at the mullions." So I did and found that the mullions were indeed wrong. I had to sand off the offenders and begin reworking them anew. Over time I have learned to listen to Tom (damn him). He's never wrong and he keeps me from slipping into lazy which is easy to do when you're an artist. This reminds me a a cartoon I once saw where two artists were viewing a painting by one of them in which the human figure was shown with a bag over its head. The artist who's work it was not said, "Still can't draw heads?" I have to constantly fight not to cover over or diminish the importance of the basic sketch.
I am developing shadow and light around the window frame as well as forming the lines of the roof singles. This is proving to be a challenge for me, especially getting all the curves in the lower window frame in foreground. I was again tempted to make the frame flat when in reality the window frame in rounded. Here I found myself wanting again to say, oh it would be okay to just make it a flat surface, who would know. But of course, I would know and subconsciously the viewer would know. It's like good writing, the viewer and the reader always know when you've taken shortcuts or gotten lazy. It comes though in the final work as good or merely almost good. You've got to do the very best you can every step or it will show.
Here are some shots of what I have done so far. Remember next time some of this may be edited out as I (or Tom) finds those pesky errors.
Note above that the mullions (vertical wood pieces in window frame) are incorrectly spaced. Perspective should show the spacing to be nearly even between them. You will see my correction in progress in subsequent shots as you read here.
Above you can see my method for developing the thin line of the horizontal lines for the singled roof across the way. I use my fine line brush and an exacto knife to quickly scratch off the wet paint which is too thick along my brushed in line. I use this method for a number of strokes which require thin lines. This means of imploying tools to do the job is one of the surprises of painting. Each artist finds their own particular tool to get the effect they are after. I recall the time I needed a pinprick of color and I finally resorted to using a straw from my broom.
Good painting. See you soon. Probably after the wedding. I'll slip in some photos of the wedding which you'll have to suffer through.