One of the hardest and strangest things to do is a self portrait. You learn a lot about yourself as an artist, but also as a person. When you stare at yourself for a few hours you ask yourself why am I doing this? But you can't really stop until it's figured out.
self portrait (work in progress), 2010, 20x16, oil on canvas
Self Portrait (listening to Mahler), 2009, 24x18, oil on canvas
A few weekends ago I went to Liberty View Farms with a dear friend. Because sometimes we just can't find enough nature in the city. We need a country fix to unwind and slow down to the pace of the crickets singing and the sun changing the shadows on the open road before us. We apple picked with old rickety wooden apple pickers. Skipping through the rows of organic Empires we enjoyed one of the last hot days at the beginnings of fall. We pet the goats, inspected the field of kale, cautiously walked among the white turkeys, and watched the fashionable hens pecking at the ground strewn with apples. We lay in the grass and breathed in the nature and the apple scented air. Then we bought some squash, onions, and other delicious things such as apple turnover from Billiam's farm stand and went on our merry way.
I made this card for my sister's birthday. It's a Linoleum cut. It makes me want to eat cake right now, although not while wearing a corset. The rice paper I printed on was a little too soft, the texture is off so I need to reprint.
I went on a journey a weekend ago. I went up north of the city. There were fields of tall wild grasses, white butterflies, and prickers. And perched on this land was a big, old, white house and some red barns time had forgotten. I camped on the hard ground behind the big, old house with a purring cat and my long john's to keep me warm. And I woke up to morning dew on my tent and sunshine on my face and I breathed in the air and heard the quiet breeze through the green leaves, the crispness of fall just on the edge of everything. Coffeeless and in silence, I saluted the day with my yoga practice and at the day's end I sang aloud with strangers around a welcoming fire. By the end of my stay I had new found friends and did not want to leave my dear old friend nature to return to my city mouse ways. When I did return, however, I found my new friends were my neighbors all along and that nature was here I just had to look for it harder. With my heart reopened to the world around me and my senses heightened I wanted to smile at the world, and I did. And I will again tomorrow. I do wonder how the fields I left behind are doing, but I know they are happy where they are, and for now so am I, besides I know where to find them again when I need them.
It's been too long. Somehow it's August. Perhaps the New York heat has left me speechless? Anyway, above is a birthday card I gave to just about everyone who had a birthday in these hot months. It is a lino cut. This process of creating always makes me simplify my style and get back down to the basics. And oddly enough it reminded me that I want to take a screen printing class, and soon.
With this crazy hot, humid weather McCaren Park in the Burg has been just like the beach lately, minus the water. Everyone is out to look their best and check out everyone else through their ray bans while they lounge on sheets and bathe in the heat. Unfortunately hipsters don't seem to want to sit still for very long, but I tried my best the other day to capture the current vibe of my neighborhood through so very quick sketches.
Silvermine in the spring is a great departure from the snow laden version I experienced in early January. Everything is insanely green. Where there were houses spotting the river view from the inn in wintertime, there was a curtain of green wrapping around the river's edge. The trees so thick I felt I was in the South. And where there was ice, was a flowing river full of cotton seeds and floating fowl. Teaming with new life, somehow the place kept its serenity. It was quiet on the giant back porch of the inn with its vacant tables and potted red geraniums, and minimal phone reception for days. It was perfect. I brought that feeling into my painting all week, not worrying about finishing my paintings but getting what I needed out of them and enjoying the process of creating without any stress, throwing paint down and wiping it back out. It's not about finishing the work, my teacher so wisely says.
The Old Mill (17th century)
With the sun high in the blue sky, on the last days after a few gray wet ones, I was a bit stir crazy and wanted to run through the woods half the time I was in class, get my country fix in before I found myself back in the land of buildings, but I think I learned something and I came back renewed. My roommate asked me if I had indeed gone painting or to the beach all week for I had sprouted many freckles. And I had gone to the beach, one night with new found friends and drank wine, putting my toes in the sand while I listened to life stories and Brooklyn restaurant suggestions from those who had been New Yorkers much longer than I. And as we watched the sunset I pondered the many ways to live one's life. And took them all into consideration.
I am partial to old barns.
content sleeping ducks by the inn
"pink girl" (as we all call her)
stares down at you while you help yourself to homemade sticky buns for breakfast,
My mom always encourages me to be the person I am. So Yesterday I made her a fun card with crazy birds on it to show her how much I appreciate that. It's hard to tell from the image, but the pink bird on the far left is hiding on the back when it's folded. I'm mailing it this morning, so I'll have to tell her to not read my blog for a few days. Thanks for everything mom. I think this card would also work nicely without the "mom" so it could be given to anyone you feel let's you be yourself.
This weekend has been equal parts cold and beautiful. I walked around the East Village today and sat under a flowering tree, it rained petals down on my head. A lady was painting a pretty picture of Stuyvesant Park. I watched her as I blew hot air on my hands, shoving them back into my spring jacket. Because of the chill in the air it was peaceful with only birds and squirrels in mass attendance.
Last weekend I was in Bryant Park, after hitting up the newly hung Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit at the MOMA. It was warm, full to the brim with people, people all sitting around in their metal chairs, staring into the bright green of the closed off lawn that is still seeding and is just waiting to be lied on. Old Italian men and their apprentices were playing a pick up game of Bocce and the metal balls glimmered in the bright daylight as they rolled to a stop in the dust. And the park was a world of long shadows as the sun sank behind the green canopy of trees and the tall surrounding city. I was thinking about Bresson's still moments. The moments he caught and preserved forever in black and white prints that are now hanging in a white room for passing people to stare at and question. Question the faces, their still laughter, their lives and what became of them. "It is through living we discover ourselves, at the same time as we discover the world around us" I had read on the wall that afternoon (Bresson, 1952). If I could have taken home any of the prints from the show In a train and Martine's Legs would go nicely together.
Mike + Doug Starn, Structure of Thought 18, 2001-2007, 72"x60", archival inkjet prints with varnish
Today I ventured to the last day of the Armory show. My senses were bombarded. With the art, the people, the heat. I walked in circles seeing so many contrasting sights at each turn that I did not know what to focus on. It was thrilling and I think I'll go again next year.
One of the pieces that caught my eye in the whirlwind of the day was a giant inkjet print with wax, encaustic, and varnish by Mike + Doug Starn. They are the artist twins that are responsible for the upcoming Met roof installation, Big Bambù, that opens in April. I did not connect the two until I looked them up when I returned to Brooklyn. I in fact was not even aware they were the artists of the piece I was enamored with, and had neglected to write down, until I did some digging and put two and two together. This work was so different from the towering bamboo structures I was aware of. Lesson: always use your moleskin. The piece in the show must have been similar or an edition of the one above? Again, moleskin a useful tool. Also on the artists' website, starnstudio.com, I found out I need to take a trip south on the 1 train to see their installation, See it split, see it change, that encompasses the entire South Ferry Station. Trees underground in the subway? A happy thought indeed. And if I had been more aware of their work before today, I could have taken advantage of the fact that 20x200.com (affordable art for people who can't afford it, such as artists) was selling editions of their work, Structure of thought6-b and 6-a (designed to be layered together), and owned my very own mini Mike+Doug Starn...before they sold out. Drat. What can I say, I love to look up at the trees. And in this city we all need that from time to time.
I also wish I could have taken home a Chagall drawing I was eyeing today. I only like some of his work, but the work of his I like, I really like. And this colored in, loose line drawing of a circus would fit perfectly in the home I live in in my mind.
(my entire neighborhood must have been in attendance, nice tights)
(sorry video quality on my computer much better, kinda sad here)
Waking up to this mid day somehow made everything a little bit more bearable. When the snow is this light and feathery it reminds me of home where it is dry and the snow always looks like a dusting of powered sugar. While I watched it dance from bed, I decided it reminded me of apple blossoms falling in the springtime. Don't you think?
It doesn't make a sound, unlike rain which makes its presence known in a big way. I woke up this morning still feverish (I am under the weather) expecting the patter of rain and opened my eyes, put on my glasses, and looked out my window to see the silent flakes collecting outside my window. Funny, I had a feeling the snow was going to be there before I looked. It made me think about life and what in it is like rain or like snow. What comes pounding in and is obvious and what silently blankets you when you are sleeping? Could also be the fever talking but I thought there was much to be learned from that. And now I'm signing off to watch more snow come down and drink away my fever with some tea.
I spent today with the city. In fact you could say the entirety of lower Manhattan was my valentine. I gave it some love, with a smile or two at strangers, and it gave me some back. There is love everywhere in the city if you look especially today, it's unavoidable. In fact, in Union Square a nice group of sign toting people were actually giving away hugs for free. I got two. No strings attached. My love affair with the city continued down 14th street. Outside of "Artichoke Pizza" there were couples eating hot pizza and standing in the cold February chill, huddling to stay warm. I sat outside the dog park in Tompkins Square, my face in the sunshine and my boots resting on a snow mound from last week's blizzard. I watched the dogs run around and play with their doting owners. I walked through the farmer's market in search of steak and looked at all the winter potatoes,carrots and onions piled high, their colors mingling. I sat on a bench sipping a cup of hot cider and watched odd and cute couples, parents and kids, and aware singles walk by. And as I stared up at the fast moving clouds behind the bare winter tree tops and watched the fading sunlight I did not feel the day's chill, I in fact felt very warm indeed.
And below is a valentine for my family and friends...I love all of you. Happy Valentine's!