Monthly Archives: January 2022

Painting in the deep freeze

This little English robin is looking right at the viewer. Watercolor on Arches paper.

After a very balmy December, we have been experiencing some single digit temperatures this week.  Too cold for plein air painting, at least for me. Fortunately, most of the snow has missed us. So I mostly trekked between my house and the studio, a commute of only about thirty feet.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, my studio is an old summer kitchen.  This is where cooking and canning was done during the worst of the summer heat, when cookstoves burned wood.  The whole point was to keep the heat out of the house.  Well, what that really means is that there is no insulation in the building and most of the windows are single pane.  It is pretty dang cold out there.  I have a wall propane heater but keep it turned pretty low when I’m not there.  Sometimes, too low.  The water for my work will freeze and it takes awhile for the building to heat up.

However, this is a perfect time of year to create some smalls, i.e., small topical paintings.  I’ve been thinking spring, or at least wishing for it.  I’ve been painting flowers and bunnies, robins and a cute little mouse.  I get on a roll and don’t know when to stop.  Well, usually after a couple of weeks, I’m ready for something more challenging.

These little paintings are popular in the local shops and in my Etsy shops.  Although they make great gifts, sometimes it’s nice to just buy something for yourself.

Much warmer in the summer.

Solo show opening this week

I gave a little background behind the Breaking Bread series. I could only exhibit about six paintings in the series due to space limitations.

My solo show at the Harrison County Arts gallery opened yesterday. This is in downtown Corydon, Indiana, the first state capitol of Indiana. It’s a quaint little town and is about thirty miles west of Louisville, Kentucky. It gets a lot of visitors and many people work in the big city.

Harrison County Arts is a co-op of a group of volunteers who manage and present quality art and crafts of regional artists.

I dropped off my work the week before and the volunteers did the rest. They did a lovely job hanging the exhibit although the space is limited. My show is the last exhibit at this gallery. They’re moving across the street to another space which is several times larger.

This exhibit features a few paintings from my Breaking Bread series. The remainder are mainly focused on Southern Indiana scenes and locations. There are a variety of oils and acrylics with a few prints in a rack.

Despite being a chilly Friday night during a pandemic, the turnout was very decent. Many guests had interesting questions. As an artist, I always have something to spout on about my work. I didn’t see anyone’s eyes glazing over. And everyone wore masks!

The show runs through February 26th and there are pieces in all price ranges. The location is at 121 E Chestnut Street, Corydon IN 47112. Their hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 12 – 4, Friday 12 – 6, and Saturday 10 – 2.

If you’re looking for the gallery, this is the outside. It’s on Chestnut Street in Corydon next to Butt Drugs (yes, a real place).

Drawing trees

I’ve been busy since the holidays so haven’t spent much time in the studio. I have a show which opens later this week so much of my time has been spent sorting and rounding up artwork for the show. We’ve also had some pretty chilly weather with temps in the single digits but only a couple of inches of snow.

So I decided to take a break from new painting work to practicing drawing some trees. Winter is a great time to capture the skeletons of the trees as the leaves are long gone. I didn’t have to go far, actually just my own front yard.

The sketch of the hackberry tree is charcoal on pastel paper. Approximately 13.5 inches by 11.5. Winter is a great time to draw tree skeletons.

The first tree is a large hackberry. I had never heard of this tree before we moved here but it’s a very nicely shaped tree, tall with up-reaching branches, medium-size leaves (so no raking) and small dark berries which are popular with the birds. It also is distinguished by its incredibly knobby bark.

The hackberry has a striking limb structure with large limbs reaching for the sky.

The other tree that I recently drew is a giant sugar maple near our woodshed. It has been home to several treehouses over the years, supported by it’s wide-spreading branches. I just love the beautiful scarlet foliage in the autumn. We don’t sugar the tree but there is/was a whole double row of them when we moved here. Unfortunately, they tend to die off at about eighty years. This one has a large hollow on the other side but I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

Sugar Maple charcoal sketch, approximately 13.5 inches by 11.5. The late afternoon shadows emphasize the limb structure.
Sugar maple, detail. This poor old maple by the wood shed is huge and has been host to many tree houses. I’m not certain how many more years it has in it as there is a hollow on the other side, but we still enjoy the brilliant orangey-red foliage in autumn.

It’s nice to challenge myself with some drawing. I think drawing is great for building that important eye-hand coordination. I should do more of it, but brandishing a brush is even more alluring.

Hello 2022, good bye 2021.  A year in review.

I don’t know about you but the past year has certainly been a roller coaster ride, one of ups and downs, good and bad.  It seems as if we’re all in a bit of a daze and ready to say good riddance to 2021.

Way back in January, we were all just beginning to fall off the cliff into the realization of the seriousness of the pandemic.  Confusion reigned. Many countries were still locked down or were thinking about it. We were getting tired of being confined homebodies. But hope reigned with the news that a vaccine was on the horizon. Some of us were scrambling to make sure we could sign up as soon as possible.

On top of this, the nation looked on with alarm at the mess in the capitol before the inauguration.  Most of us had never lived through anything like this but there were some memories of the demonstrations back in the 60s and 70s.  Life repeats itself.

The new Thyen Clark Cultural Center is completed. It opened in January and is always hosting some activity or function, from classes, to weddings, to Santa’s reindeer.

Many good things also happened this past year.  For one thing, the new Thyen-Clark Cultural Center in Jasper opened.  I had a small part in working on that project for ten years before I retired.  Others picked up the ball and saw it to fruition.  So proud of the town and citizens. What a showplace!

Bread and Miriam. My friend is delighted to display her new painting. We had such a fun morning visiting, talking about books and life.

Remember when people were stockpiling toilet paper and bread was hard to get?  I reposted my Artesian Bread recipe.  My friend Miriam said that making bread was the highlight of her spring.  But I was also forced to buy 25 pounds of rye flour when I couldn’t find it in smaller packages.  My husband is a great bread maker.  Lucky me.

After months of playing hermit, my husband and I sneaked off for a quick trip to Florida.  We rented a house so we were still hermits, just with better weather. 

About 35 students attended my presentation. Great questions, too!

My big solo exhibit in May / June at the cultural center went off without a hitch.  It was so satisfying to see two years’ of work on the new gallery walls.  Loads of visitors, including friends from all over the state.  Thank you!

Spring threw some surprises at us.  We had some beautiful flowers but I held off planting.  Good thing as we had a very late snow on May 10th!  I covered up the things that I did plant and everything turned out well.

Slightly creepy feeling, this is what the cicadas look like when they first shed their brown shells. It will attach itself to something – twig, trees, side of house – while it pumps up it’s wings, then takes off to find a mate for a day. No mouths or stingers.

Then there was the cicada invasion.  Thousands of the little bugs, all singing their mating calls at 90 decibels.  Very annoying but it passed eventually.  The birds and toads were really happy.

Tomatoes, tops. L-R bottom: Pink Brandywine, Red Beefsteak, San Marzano. Top: Celebrity, Better Boy, Park Whopper, Goliath, Roma.

Our garden produce was heavy and bug-free this year.  We couldn’t even put up all that we grew and tried to give much of it away.  All this despite the late planting, and planting fewer plants.

We were very grateful to be living in the country where we could get outside, go for a drive, eat lunch by the river. 

I really love the variety of mini pumpkins and squashes.

September saw the requisite visit to the pumpkin farm.  Paintings in three shows.  And winding up for the holidays. Overall art sales tripled.  Time to set bigger goals.

I hope that as you take time to look back over the past year, that you have some good memories, too.  Let us all hope the coming year is much improved.