Saturday, April 05, 2014

4.5.14 ~ whoop yeah! first outside painting excursion of the year!



first plein air painting of the year with my totally cool new guerrilla pocket box paint kit.

A day of firsts!

My first plein air painting of the year AND my first oil painting of the year AND my first use of my sweet, sweet little Geurrilla Painter "Pocket Box" paint kit

So jazzed! 
So happy! 
And so freakin' C O L D from sitting out there in the blustery wind of in Ashbaugh Park!

This little painting  — which measuring a wee 5" x 7" — took all of about mmmm....   minutes? (Plus maybe a minute or two of touch up once home, back in the studio). 

Note the very limited palette: Cadmium Yellow Medium, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White (which is, incidentally, the palette recommended by Kevin McPherson in his excellent book, Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color.).

Feeling satisfied!


blustery april afternoon, ashbaugh park, santa fe ~ oil on panel (en plein air) ~ 5" x 7" ~ by dawn chandler

Thursday, April 03, 2014

4.3.14 ~ at long last: my new studio! (and no -- it's not the back of my car....)



First load to my new place: The Essentials.

Glory be! Today is the HAPPIEST day I've had this year!

After three months of no painting and two months of living in a warren of boxes and chaos, I returned -- FINALLY!! -- to making Art. And in my NEW STUDIO!

WHOOP-YEAH!!
 
Two months ago I saw the listing on Craig's List — just two hours after the owner posted it:
1,200 sq feet, loft-townhouse with attached art studio; cathedral ceilings, skylights, lots of windows; washer/drier hook-up; enclosed yard; pets okay.
 

Could it possibly be?

I made an appointment to see it the next day.

Tucked away in the center of old Santa Fe — hidden down narrow lanes and smack in the middle of the loop of bike paths, a tiny group of townhouses with a large tiled sign out front: ART STUDIOS. I gasped. 
Stepping past the delicate trees and into the soaring-ceilinged living-room, my pulse quickened. 
One look in the ample studio with a sink — a real sink! — I fell into a swoon. 
...Then quickly became sick to my stomach when three other people showed up to look at it. Walking through the space with the landlord and these...these....these low-lifes...these enemies....these competitors! ... I nearly choked with my heart pounding in my throat. 

I had to have this space.
THESE people did NOT have to have this space!
I HAD TO HAVE THIS SPACE!

Minutes.

ticking.
no 
one 
doing
any
thing.

Then
my voice 


I'll take it.



 

And here I am. After 40+ trips from the old house to the new place to the storage unit to the dump and back and 'round and 'round again and again, I'm finally here, finally settled. The old place AND my storage unit are vacated. Lots and lots of stuff has been gifted, donated, recycled, tossed or stashed in a friend's garage awaiting a May garage sale. The rest is cleaned and put away.   




Studio move-in day.....Morning.

Studio move-in day....Afternoon...


I think I've earned a massage. Or at least a beer. Or both.



After days of considering space, work-flow and light, my beautiful new studio — as of late last night — is organized, ready for my Muse & Me.

The alarm went off this morning at 4:55; within minutes I was sighing blissfully — mug of tea in one hand, paint brush in the other, surrounded by blank white walls.



It's about time.






Monday, March 03, 2014

3.2.14 ~ my father's hand




Cleaning out my studio, I'm taking my time, going through accumulated supplies, stacks of past creations, boxes of old photos and letters and scribbles of poetry and journals and sketchbooks, in an effort to weed out the things that no longer serve me. It's epic — I have a LOT of this stuff. But it's kind of fun (I get off on cleaning and organizing) and is oft times amusing and sometimes heart-wrenching as I sift through the layers of my life.

This morning I came across this sketch I did in 1987 or so of my father's hand. Timely, as he would have been 83 yesterday. (I opened a bottle of his wine in his honor.) 

My father had beautiful hands, with long elegant fingers. I think he may have been a pianist in a previous life. That would help explain his passion for classical music, at least. Perhaps I was a pianist too — for the same reason. My mother always said that I have my father's hands, for my hands, too, are long and slender. A carpenter, handyman, woodsman, baker, gardener, jotter-downer-of-things, and of course a pathologist earning his paycheck with the deft manuevering of a scalpel and microscope, my father — like me — was happiest when his mind engaged with his hands.

I'm touched by this sketch, and how accurately I captured this hand. Even before reading the  caption — "Dad's hand....waiting for bill after soup and salad bar at Main Street w/Hitzels," I recognized it instantly as the hand of my father.




My father wasn't an emotionally demonstrative man; he didn't hug or really touch people. But when he lay on his hospital bed dying of cancer three years ago, I held this hand between my own, and stroked and massaged the perrenial ache in his wrist. 

"That feels nice" were among the last words he said.





Thursday, February 27, 2014

2.27.14 ~ living off the grid....or not.



Along the RIo Grande, somewhere between Taos and Espanola.

I did something I knew I shouldn't. But my curiosity got the better of me. I clicked on the Craig's List housing listing describing an "off-the-grid" house with "spectacular views" about an hour north of Santa Fe.
And for several days my imagination got the better of me, dreaming of living in a solar house with a large fenced in, irrigated garden on 11 acres surrounded by BLM land, there in the Rio Grande canyon, with the river just a 10 minute walk away.

Look at those views! Look at those gables and dormers! 

The romantic light coming into that bedroom.... That beautiful kitchen! How I'd love to cook in that beautiful kitchen...and what a cool bathroom -- with a bathtub! God, how I've missed taking baths....
No studio...Hmmmm.....but glorious high ceilings upstairs -- couldn't I paint up there if I'm very careful with the walls and that wood floor?
And that porch!  Ohhhhhhh how I'd love to sit on that porch and watch thunderstorms roll through the canyon....
And family and friends? They would LOVE this place! And my dog? She would be in doggie heaven with all the acreage! Just imagine the RABBITS!

 
My Man's eyes lit up when I showed him the photos. "My God, that's the kind of place I dream of retiring to!"

For four days I was lost in it.
I even scoped out the place from afar with a friend who lives in the area.
'Talked it over with girl friends over wine and chocolate during our vision board gathering.



I contacted the owner.

And then I couldn't sleep.
My heart was pounding -- RACING! -- like I was sprinting with everything I've got.
For 10 or 15 minutes my heart felt like it was in my throat. I couldn't believe it: I was having an anxiety attack.




deep breath....
 

DEEP BREATH!

.....Deep Breath.....

..............d e e e e p  b r e e e a t h.............

I focused on my breathing and repeated to myself:

All is well.....All is calm......I am at peace in this moment.
 

over again and again..... 
until.....
finally.....my heart......slowed.......
my breathing......slowed....and 
I was asleep.


Maybe it was the Spirit that hurled the brick at my head last summer when I was coming up with stupid excuses for not doing an art residency in Oregon. But the next day a
Banshee voice busted through all the romantic daydreaming and asked,
What the hell are you doing?! 

This IS NOT your game plan!

This is NOT what you've been wanting!

This is ISOLATION! Do you really want to be an hour from town? Four hours round trip from
Your Man?!

Do you really want to deal with a frickin water tank, filters, solar electric system and all
the maintenance of living off the grid?!  Do you really want to live 15 minutes down a dirt road that's dicey at best, harrowing at worst, and a likely worry all times in between?!


You have an ART BUSINESS that relies on a solid internet connection! Do you really think you'll have consistent internet and cell coverage up there, if at all?! and say good by to studio visits from all but the most adventuresome patrons!

And -- HELLO!! -- remember the conversation with yourself at Playa, when you came to
the realization that, despite living in one of the art meccas of the WORLD, you hardly know any artists, are hardly involved in the art community, and you decided you want to CHANGE that? Do you really think you can achieve that all the way out there?!

And what about YOUR FRIENDS?! WHAT ABOUT YOUR MAN? You will rarely see them, no matter how much they love the place!

IT DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A STUDIO!!


"Sounds like a whole lot of work for a nice view," said one wise friend.

I cancelled my appointment with the owner.



And slept deeply that night.

"Sleeping Dog" by Waugsberg

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2.25.14 ~ here's why i'm moving...

Helen Frankenthaler in her studio. Photo by Ernst Haas.

I need a real studio.

The house I've been in for these four+ years is utterly beautiful: thick adobe walls; radiant floor heat, glorious views and a lovely balcony from which to let your vision and imagination soar for miles to the east and south and west of Santa Fe. It sits on five pinon- and cholla-dotted acres, that are ideal for rambling with a dog. There's a feeling of seclusion, and being close to Nature. Neighbors generally keep to themselves. I've see coyote, deer, even bear out here. And, of course, abundant crows, juncos, nuthatches, fly-catchers, jays, hawks and hummingbirds.

But there's no studio, and though I've tried to make the best of it, the fact is the lack of a real studio has hindered my ability to create the kind of work I want and need to create.
 

Okay, okay....Never-mind that Jackson Pollock painted in a barn. Any serious artist will do whatever it takes in order to make their Art. I made do for many years in a mildewy vermin-infested basement, only to come down some mornings and find rat paw prints across my paintings and table tops. Been there. Done that. Ready to move on.


Jackson Pollock in his studio in East Hampdon.
 So...what do I mean by a real studio?
Studio designed by Olson Kundig, Seattle.

-- I mean a room with large expanses of bare, smooth walls, upon which I can tack and nail both finished works and works in progress.

-- I mean a room with good light for an artist.


-- I mean a room with a slop sink and running water.


-- I mean a room with floors that it's okay to get paint on.

-- I mean a room with high ceilings.

And so...Time to focus my desire and put my intention for a new studio out there....and see what happens!

Cezanne's studio in Aix-en-Provence.




Friday, February 21, 2014

1.21.14 ~ is it any wonder i haven't been painting?!


Even in the midst of chaos, I can always [usually] find my calming mug of tea. This morning's hot beverage: ArtfulTea's Earl Grey Francais


My studio is a tornadic explosion of stuff.

 
STUFF EVERYWHERE! 


Not just my studio but every room of the house! 

AAAAAAACK!!!!

The reason?

I'm MOVING!


I've been TOTALLY CONSUMED for the past month with 1st, the build up to The Decision: To Move or Not to Move?


 and then, once The Decision was made — YES, Time To Move — I've been consumed with the WORK of going through stuff. 
Stuff and 
stuff and 
stuff and 
MORE STUFF. 
Which has led to more Decisions: Keep?   Toss?    Donate?    Gift?    Sell? 

And then cleaning of STUFF. 


And then organzing of
STUFF.

And then packing of
STUFF.

And then delivering of STUFF either to Goodwill, The Dump, The PostOffice, or to Recipients of Stuff.

My goal is to purge — one way or another — half of my stuff. EGADS!
That's a lot of stuff.
Not sure I'll make the goal, but I'm determined to try. Already I've rid myself of over half of the clothes and books in the house.

I made my decision to move a month ago, and I've hardly lifted a paintbrush or made a sketch since. 


:(


There's a part of my soul that's a knot of leaden anxiety about it. 
But when I return to painting in a few short weeks, in a gorgeous new clean and tidy studio with good walls and great lighting, my muse and creativity will SOAR!

I can hardly wait.

Now back to dealing with STUFF.




Friday, February 14, 2014

2.14.2014 ~ two great loves

My parents during their engagement c. 1953
Today is Valentine's Day. The day, sixty-one years ago, my parents "came to an understanding" after just two weeks of "going steady," that they would spend the rest of their lives together. And they did. For fifty-three years they shared their lives. Not once in the forty+ years I knew them did I ever hear them raise their voices to each other. Never did I hear them argue. Disagree? For sure. Become irritated or frustrated with each other? Of course. But always the occasional displeasure was tinged with humor and goodwill. Yet never did I hear them argue, never did I hear them fight. They were respectful of each other always.

Always.

Theirs was a great love.


And while I'm sitting here thinking of them, a bit in awe of the caliber of their fondness and affection for each other, I find myself thinking of another great love.

The relationship between American painter Joan Mitchell (c.1925) and Canadian painter Jean-Paul Riopelle (c.1923) was the antithesis of my parent's marriage. Mitchell and Riopelle were lovers for twenty-four turbulent, alcohol-infused, volatile years.
Jean-Paul Riopelle and Joan Mitchell c. late 1950s
They inspired, criticized, lifted up, beat down, tormented and delighted each other artistically, intellectually, sensually, physically. Ultimately their love affair would drown in an ocean of hurt feelings, misunderstanding, disrespect and disloyalty. Mitchell would stay in France and live her elderly years in relative isolation despite critical acclaim and increased attention for her paintings; Riopelle would settle back in Canada—he was one of the icons of Canadian art of the 20th century—pursing women, wine and art into his 70s—and achieve yet further recognition for his work.

And then Joan Mitchell died.
She died of lung cancer on October 30, 1992.


"A few days after learning of his longtime companions death...Jean-Paul Riopelle would undertake, in her honor, the monumental L'Hommage a Rosa Luxemurg...A narrative sequence consisting of thirty canvases totaling approximately 131 feet wide."(1)

A panel of "L'Hommage a Rosa Luxemurg" ~ by Jean-Paul Riopelle

When I read this, my eyes welled.
And when I viewed pictures of this immense sequence of paintings and imagined the pain and passion and love and sorrow that went into their creation, they welled yet more.


So moved was I at the artistic height to which this man's feelings were elevated by the raw passion broken loose by the death of his long-ago lover.
To imagine this elderly artist, perhaps arthritic in his hands, unable to move as easily as in his youth, overcome with the need to paint, to release his throbbing emotions. Swirling paint and colors and shapes into an colossal expression of his heart in a "complex mediation on love and the passage of time."(2) The thought of it moves me to tears.


 "L'Hommage a Rosa Luxemurg" ~ by Jean-Paul Riopelle


And were my father a painter? I have no doubt he would have painted four times those thirty canvases to express his feelings for his own lover, made his own sixty-one years ago today.


(1) http://www.patriciaalbers.net/writings
(2) http://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/personal/collecting/stamps/archives/2003/2003_oct_riopelle.jsf