Thursday, August 30, 2012

Outdoor Washtub

Water is all done but the varnishing. I think this may be Robert's favorite painting.

Spent the day doing photography for the new still life, tweaking the positions of elements and trying variations on the lighting. An excellent day. 

One of the pleasure of painting is permission to look closely and at length at a still life.  Drawing gets what I see into muscle memory. I've been told that good draftsmanship is based on basic hand/eye coordination.

Tomorrow I'll be toning the canvas, and the day after I'll grid it with white chalk. An 8x6" photo with a one inch grid works out to a five inch grid on a 30x40" canvas. I'll use that to translate the source photo into a fairly detailed pencil drawing.  Hey, if it was good enough for Michelangelo, it's good enough for me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Worked on Air,  mostly the front of the fan's wire cover and another layer on the curtain. There is something about shining that I just love.

For the last three days I've walked around in my studio building a new still life, placing and moving props like chess pieces in a game I play with myself.

There are broad parameters - a drape above, a wooden surface below - but within that beckoning space, I combine and break apart, add and subtract. It's an elusive visual goal I'm chasing, a kind of balance of form and color that is both firmly rooted and on the cusp of destabilization. Time disappears. I forget to eat. I don't hear Robert talking to me. It feels like a trance, some kind of self hypnosis that hooks up allegory with intuition.

I don't know exactly how I'll finally get there, but experience assures me that when I see it, I'll know it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Discovered in the Attic

Putting together elements for a Led Zep themed still life. Might do a companion piece with elements from  that era in my life. A sort of visual Proust's tea-dipped madeleine.

This morning I went up to the attic and poked around, looking for a box of my old journals, to see if I'd written anything down about working on the Led Zeppelin movie. Buried in a box marked Tax Records 1980 my husband found this -

Attached Image: IMG_6534.JPG

One of the reasons I've been reticent about my small part in the movie, outside of family and a few friends, is that I always supposed I had no proof. Only my word and my face. I actually joked to a friend saying, 'It's not like I have a pay stub.' Well, as it turns out, I do.

The box marked 1980 actually has all my old records from the years I worked abroad. My husband brought it down, not to look for anything connected with this, but because I nag him to get rid of old tax records that are not needed. He has now won the argument about tossing stuff without going through it.

This is just blowing my mind.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Still on Fire

Worked on Fire, which is an accurate statement for so many reasons.
Defined the city skyline and darken the right side, added detail to the fire in the grate, began defining the warped pages of the burning book in the front. Keep adjusting the flames trying to gain transparency. That's the thing about fire; except for the part that's so bright that it registers on the eye as glare,  it's translucent.


There's plenty more to do: the metal of the grate, the edges of the pages of all the books and whatever I end up writing on them, more scumbling of smoke. The great thing is it's not fighting me, the way I felt the figurative paintings did. It's the difference between dancing with a willing partner, and having a date that turns into a fistfight. I'm so happy with the way this painting is behaving,  I'd give it a good night kiss.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Water today. Worked on the reflections more. Love all the blues.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Air, Fire and Led Zeppelins

Got the front of the fan well underway. It still makes my eyes cross, but I can get there from here.

Made changes to shape and location and transparency of the flames at the top of the book edges in Fire. Moving right along


From time to time I get an email inquiring about a movie I was in back in the seventies, The Song Remains The Same, a documentary/fantasy about the band Led Zeppelin. The other day I got one of those inquiring emails, and I clicked on a link that took me to the fan forum on Led There was a thread from June 2011 speculating on her identity - was she English, was she a friend of the band, etc. On pure impulse, I posted this.
An American girl from the south played the part of the princess in the tower. I was working in London as a model and was booked for the job by my agency, Models One. I don't really know why I was cast, but I suspect it was my hair - I did a lot of cosmetics and hair product ads back in the day. I wasn't an actress. Doing editorial pages for English Vogue, Queen and Honey meant more to me in terms of my career.
At the time the shoot was not a big deal to me - just another day of work. Who knew the age of the Internet would extend the movie's shelf life from a couple of years to eternity? My on screen time only lasts a few minutes. It took longer for the hair people to get my straight hair curled with tongs than it did to do the take. I was told to 'look at the camera and don't smile.' Mostly I stood around and tried not to wrinkle the costume.
Post-modeling career, I was a journalist for 20 plus years and have been a fine art painter since 2001. Every now and again someone does a Google search, and emails me from my website, asking if I did the movie.
My kids get a kick out of it. Two of them work in the film business and often the director of photography is familiar with it.
The Song really does Remain the Same in the age of Google and Youtube. Glad you have fond memories of the film.
Turns out these people could not have been nicer.  It's not the kind of topic that comes up in daily life, so it was fun to have somewhere to talk about it. For those who are so inclined, here's a link to the section I'm in, albeit briefly.

Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same/ Part 6
3:21-3:26, I appear. 3:33-3:36, I look away.  3:39, I look back.  4:21-4:33, I appear behind flames and vanish.
Total: 21 seconds on screen.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Atlanta Burns

Worked on Fire, mostly on the cover of the Atlanta book. It will get smoke and ash scumbled over it on the next round, and more work on the flames licking the corners.

I worked on Air yesterday - a little on the base but mostly the back half of the wire basket that covers the blades. Very slow going - again, mostly abstract dashes and dots. It's the first of many layers. The wire will get sharpened up a good deal.

Ridiculously happy painting shiny objects.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Burning Down the House

Daughter Emily is going to Burning Man this year - her first trip. I've only seen the documentaries, but it looks like a gathering of her tribe.  I'm psyched for her.

Speaking of burning, here's the start of Fire. The first attempt is a composite of three photographs. (Note to self: books are fuel. You don't need to build a fire to burn them. For a while, it looked more like bonfire than what I envisioned.)

Started by blocking in the bounced light, a lick of flame, and two books.

This is where I left it Friday. Something didn't feel right, and I wanted a chance to think about it.

Today I added an opened, charred book from a fourth photo, placing it behind the black cover textbook. and went with a different flame source. Blocked in the iron grill and started indicating coals and embers.

The coffee table book in the background is one I co-wrote for the Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta; Making of a World Class City. The dark book in the foreground is a text book from the seventies, Interpretive Journalism. Planing to put the title of an unpublished novel I wrote, Grace and Favor, on the open paperback on the right. Thinking up titles for the top of the page of the open book with burnt page edges - Dante's Inferno or maybe Gone with the Wind? Nah, too obvious. Lives of the Saints appeals to me.

Saving the Atlanta skyline photo on the cover of the big background book for last - that will be a treat. Having a ridiculous amount of fun with this.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Today's effort; working on Air.
Got a layer of paint on the fan base and the beginning of the wire cover over the blades. Love the wobbly reflected light on the base, which reminds me of the stand mixer my Mama used.

Took my jumpdrive to Wolf photo to see if they can do better color prints from the jpgs for Fire. I'm going to draw from my glued together source and mix color from the - hopefully - better prints.

Nebulas, white doves, and books aflame.

Worked on the Fire and have a final source image cobbled together from four photos. Background from one, open book from another, orange glow on wall from a third and an interesting grate surface from a fourth.
My friend Gin calls it 'patch-and-piece'. I am so stealing that for my artist's statement.

I tried to put the pieces together using a couple of apps on my iPad but after three hours of failure I gave up and did it the old fashioned way - cut the bits out with scissors and taped them together. Done a dusted in under five minute.

Toned and gridded the canvas, and working on the drawing today.

Still thinking about the fifth element; spirit, soul. 'Being itself' as Thomas Merton put it. The landing of the Mars Rover Curiosity reminded me of NASA's nebula photographs which I am thinking of superimposing over/under a white dove. Catholic iconography may be stamped in my DNA.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rocking right along

Busy days in the studio.
1. Packing up paintings to send to the delightful Gail Pierson Gallery in Cape May, NJ. Eight small works, none larger than 10x10". If you are in the area, stop in and say hey.
2. Painting back-lit leaves on LightGrid. Wonder if that's where the inspiration for stained glass began.
3. Galloping along on the four elements. Know I am bound to hit a fence too high to jump at some point, but holding on tight for the ride right now.

After a couple of false starts (a kiln and a forge), my Muse showed up with the idea and image tied up together with a ribbon of fiery inspiration. DId photogrpahy this morning and it worked out. Check back for the start of the Fire painting next week.

On a side note I went out for a loaf of bread yesterday and came home with a wheeled, rocking wooden office chair that fits me like it was carved for me, and a oriental rug. Easily distracted.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Shadows on curtains

Bocked in the curtain, fan shadow and corner of the mantle. The saturated color is delicious to me.
Working on the branches of the trees reflected in water. A breeze after doing the limbs of trees in Boomlift. Again, the saturated color is like a cup of strong, milky tea and toast with butter dripping from it - such a pleasure.