Lucky Me! 3 Weeks To Paint at DIAA

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I am so lucky. I get to paint for three – count ‘em, three — straight weeks at the Deer Isle Artists Association gallery with my friend Oscar Turner starting next week.

Oscar at the DIAA gallery over the summer. We were gallery sitting together.

It’s a huge space – well, way bigger than my studio at home, which was once a stonecutters’ boardinghouse. My workspace in the old stonecutter’s bedroom gets a little cramped.

My workspace at home

In summer, the DIAA gallery hosts new exhibits every two weeks. In winter, the gallery is still heated (to all you non-New Englanders: heat is a big thing). But there are no shows. So the DIAA allows artists to use the space to paint for a month at a time.

Cindy Bourque-Simonds, the DIAA board member who manages exhibits, used the space in December. She told me people stopped by to chat and even brought coffee. I’m excited about the opportunity, looking forward to spending time with Oscar and hoping people will drop by for a visit.

The DIAA’s big space means I can paint on big canvases. And it also means I can work with oil paint, something I can’t do at home. And I can finish watercolor paintings I started last year, like this one.

Work in Progress

I can also work on 12” by 12” oil paintings for the popular summer 12 by 12 show, and they’ll be dry. Last year I brought a few still-wet paintings to the show and asked DIAA president David McBeth if they were okay. He gestured to a long row of paintings propped up against the fence and said, “Just put them over in the wet paintings section.”

The 12 by 12 show. All paintings are 12″ by 12″ and cost $144.

Here’s a 12″ by 12″ painting I sold at the show last year:

Oceanville Garden. Watercolor on 140-lb. paper. 12″ by 12″. Private collection.

Best of all, I can paint uninterrupted by the household chores and clam pie tasks that always loom. I’ll still be on the hook to write for the New England Historical Society, but I do that early in the morning anyway.

I start on Monday, January 9, the day after DIAA’s latest ART matters 2 discussion. The ART matters sessions are one reason I love living on Deer Isle. DIAA Board Member Hub White brings three artists together on Sunday afternoons once a month in winter. They show their work and chat about what they do. Then the audience joins the conversation.

There are only a few thousand people who live on this island, but Hub can easily find 20 artists and each ART matters discussion brings standing-room only crowds. So you can talk about art here without getting a blank stare.

 

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Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

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I may as well start off with the David Copperfield crap about how my art and this website all got started.

Portrait of the artist as a young Barnard student. With Alexis Adler and Leah Haygood.

I was born in New York City, grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, returned to New York City as a Barnard undergrad and did some time in corporate America in Chicago while wasting much of my youth at Wrigley Field. Then I fled to New Hampshire where I started a journalism career, which took me to the Massachusetts Statehouse (yes, I have great stories about it) and then to Washington, D.C., as an Associated Press reporter.

I was not cut out for Versailles on the Potomac, and it would be an understatement to say Arlington, Va., never felt like home. I left AP to work for a labor union, which at least gave me more time to paint. In 2015, my husband Dan and I moved to a former stonecutters’ boardinghouse in Stonington, Maine.

Me at a farmers market

Here we make and sell frozen clam pies at farmers markets and local grocery stores while maintaining our website, the New England Historical Society. I paint and Dan delivers the mail.

While working as a reporter, I had very little free time. Watercolor suited because it was portable and quick. For a long time I practiced endless still life paintings of household objects. So boring.

A practice still life. Figs, I think.

During the oughts I got turned on to John Yardley, an English watercolorist who does lots of light-infused street scenes.

Browsing by John Yardley

It was just around then that cell phone cameras got to be quite good. I started taking pictures of scenes in downtown Washington, D.C., feeling predatory but shameless as I followed an orange coat or a white shirtsleeve until it caught the light just right.

I think I surreptitiously followed this poor woman all the way across Capitol Hill

Sometimes it took hundreds of cellphone images and lots of sketches before I could extrapolate a painting from them.

Sometimes I’d snap a photo and immediately see a painting, like this one. I was walking in front of the Capitol on my way to work, and just after this bicyclist passed me I whipped out my cellphone to capture him.

Bicycling to the Supreme Court. Watercolor on 140-lb. paper. 6.75″ by 10.5″. $200.

I found I love to paint people in streetscapes and landscapes and all kinds of scapes. I like to paint animals, too. (Dan says that’s all I should do.)

Moving Day. Watercolor on 140-lb. paper. 9″ by 12 “.  $300.

Painting people and animals means knowing how to draw.

I spent a lot of time in Washington sitting still – for hours on the Metro as it lurched toward the station or in rooms listening to people prattle on sententiously.

I used that time to practice drawing people. I’d look for someone on the Metro wearing earbuds (they rarely move except to the music) or I’d draw a politician in a hearing room. Sometimes I’d draw from C-Span images. (You’d be amazed at how much reporting comes off television monitors.)

Another place I found ideal for sketching people is the racetrack. Race fans sit very very still while they pore over the racing form, oblivious to me as I observe and record them. Saratoga is a wonderful place to paint, filled with color and motion, stock still subjects and plenty of filtered light.

She had no idea she was being immortalized
Run Away J.
Watercolor on 140 lb. paper, 6″ by 9.5″. $100.

I also like to paint on Cape Cod, where my parents live. The light on Cape Cod, as Edward Hopper noted, is luminous.

Red Boat, Blue Boat. Watercolor and gouache on tinted 140-lb. paper. 5.5″ by 8.5″. $200.

So now my home is in Maine, where my hero Winslow Homer lived, though I’m on Deer Isle and he was farther south. Every other person on this beautiful island is an artist or a fisherman. I found a lot of things to paint. I also joined the Deer Isle Artists Association last year and learned a lot about making and selling art in the Deer Isle gallery.

Lobster Boats at Sunset. Watercolor on 140-lb. paper. 8.5″ by 11.5″. $225.

I’m taking the next step with this website. With the help of my husband (thank you, Sweetiepie) I’ve posted images of a decades’ worth of my best paintings. Most are for sale, though some are already sold. I’m open to doing commissions (I even paint signs and I’m real good at lobsters) and I’m open to negotiations. Just email me at [email protected] or call at 207-348-3129. I’m on Instagram and Facebook as well.

 

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