Conversations Across Time: Early Work

Seeing chives greening up and buds getting ready to leaf out has me thinking about past springs, when I first came to Maine, and that spring after I moved from Belfast to Lincolnville. Time -- as they say -- marches on, and since it's been more than 30 years that I first walked Lincolnville Beach and really doubled down on painting, I've decided to devote this newsletter to a look at where I was back then, as well as what I think about now when I start a new painting.

Owls Head 5, photo and paper collage on mat board, 8 x 10 inches

Owls Head 5, photo and paper collage on mat board, 8 x 10 inches

In my first years in Maine, I did a lot of hiking and a lot of photographing. According to the maxim "Go where you're thrown and dig in deep," I wanted to learn as much as I could about this new landscape to which I seemed to be arriving home. By 1997, I was living here year-round and had enough installations and photographs accumulated that I could combine bits of each in collages that said something about a particular place and time.

Text has always played a major role in my installations. In those early days, I was fascinated by the calligraphy of rock formations. I filled long rolls of paper with paint marks and texts from my hiking journals. The papers I used in the collage above came from an installation of drawings at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, variously reviewed as "flyby art" and "read the landscapes on the wall." I reconfigured the drawings for "Reading the Landscape" at the University of Maine/Farmington, and much later recycled some of them as collage materials.

Hills 9, watercolo r,  7.5 x 9.5 inches

Hills 9, watercolor, 7.5 x 9.5 inches

These imagined hills date from 1994, though if you look closely you'll see that six years later, I added a signature along the ridge lines. Is that an early selfie, or a recognition of the existential task of creating a painting? I think as artists we're meant to enjoy the experience of creating. If the rock stays balanced at the top of the hill, the painting is finished. If not - well then, like Sisyphus, we have to start again.

Barrens #10 , acrylic, charcoal, pastel, 10 x 14.5 inches. $500.

Barrens #10, acrylic, charcoal, pastel, 10 x 14.5 inches. $500.

On my way to and from Hancock and Washington Counties where I used to hike, I'd pass blueberry barrens. I always felt there was something there that I needed to paint, something more than the rock piles, but never could quite put my finger on it until I came to Maine in October 1994. And then, quite suddenly, I knew. The stunning color of the barrens pulled it all together and I spent my time on that trip up near Stockton Springs. Against the red of the blueberries, the gold birch leaves trembled like coins in the wind, and the clusters of stones were in conversation with each other.

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Archived Newsletters February 2018 - February 2017

 

 Spring, Chocolate Soufflés and Studio Visits. Carol Eisenberg's images of my studio caused one musician friend to comment that the studio walls are full of counterpoint with "the myriad lifelike effect that counterpoint actually reaches for. Or comes out of." I like that. Read more.

Sliding into the New Year, and a look back at 2017 — 2017 was a year of exploration. New territory, new mediums, new answers to old questions. Here are my reviews and previews - an exhibition at the University of Louisville, a museum acquisition, brand new paintings and more. Read more.

Artist Plus Residency Equals Change — This one was written as I was on the way to Santa Fe, and now that I’m back home, I can report that the time I spent there was mind-blowing. I’m starting a new group of paintings based on that experience, and will share them on social media and in future newsletters as they progress. Read more.

The Importance of a Mentor is my tribute to a teacher who was one of the best. I'd known Red Garner since, as he liked to say, I was "a bump on the horizon." Read more.

A Painting Start to Finish - Painting can seem a big mystery to painters and non-painters alike, so I thought I'd share a little of how I approach my practice. Every day, before I head into the studio, I go outside for a walk to see what's changed, and who's newly arrived in the neighborhood. Read more.

Earth Day: Is There Something We Can Do? - As Earth Day approaches, I'm remembering that a few years back, I was invited to participate in an exhibition called Turning in Your Hand: The Blue Marble Project.Each artist who participated was given the gift of a blue marble and asked to respond by creating a piece that reflects our place on the planet we call home. As I thought about what it means to live mindfully on the earth, I began a daily ritual of working with my blue marble. Each day I erased an old charcoal drawing. . . .Read more.

Painting: An Act of Reciprocity - Not long ago a good friend recommended I read Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass. Kimmerer, trained as a botanist, is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and understands the natural world as a living presence. For her, writing is an act of reciprocity and a way to give back.I feel the same way about painting. Read more.

The Latest Erratics - Happy Spring 2017, the Year of the Rooster! You may ask what that has to do with glacial erratics, and I answer that the rooster celebrates another event in the cycle of my Erratics installations, articulated sculptures that refer to geological history. The first was twenty years ago, all the way back in 1997, at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport. There have been five sightings since then, the two most recent at Beech Hill in Rockport in 2015 and in Farmington in 2016. So the glacier is picking up speed. Read more.