There is a great benefit art show that has happened for a number of years now that I’ve contributed to in the past but have been too busy to do again until now. It’s called “Cats in the Hall”, the hall being The Hall Gallery at 208 C Street Studios in Eureka, California, about 20 minutes from where I live.
There will be work by over 70 local artists working in various media. The Arts Alive! Reception will be on Sept. 2nd. The doors open at 12:00PM Saturday and Sunday. Costumes are encouraged for the opening. The show comes down Sept 27th. There will be cats available for adoption.
I’ve taken advantage of finally not staring down the barrel of show deadlines for awhile to splash around with my watercolors and have some fun painting from the zillions of photos I’ve taken of our cats over the years.
The pieces I’m posting here will only be available for now at the show. If any don’t sell, then I’ll post them for sale on my website.
I really had fun loosening up with the watercolors. I drew each shape, added a layer of clear water and then started adding paint, just letting it do its thing. I used my new Yarka watercolor set so it was a chance to try out some new colors too.
So if you live in Humboldt County (or beyond) and you love art or cats or art and cats or cat art, come to the show!
I have a cat (one of three we share our home with). Her name is Eowyn and she’s fourteen years old, thin but in good health. In her day I do believe that she could have slain a Nazgul. One of her nicknames is “My Mean Widdle Cat”. She likes to sit on a side table in the kitchen and occasionally snag my husband with one claw if he walks by too close to her. I have to remember to look before sitting in my studio chair sometimes lest she has occupied it while I’ve gone into the house for something. There have been close calls. I really don’t want Pancake Cat.
She usually comes into the studio each working day to hang out, interrupt me and catch some zzzzs. I’ve set up a spot for her on my desk and sometimes she even deigns to use it. Having her on my lap while I paint is…interesting, but I’ve managed.
She has a newish thing that she likes to do which is to jump the 3 feet (I just measured it) from a small rolling file drawer next to my drawing table (behind my easel in the photo at the top) to the middle of a row of three-drawer vertical file cabinets stacked with loose stuff to be filed. From there she will try to winkle her way onto the shelf that has my amplifier on it. This does not work. So then she’ll do a tour of the next shelf up.
Or she’ll cut to the chase and jump up onto the top shelf and look around.
I don’t even hold my breath anymore. Somehow she manages not to disturb any of the tchotchkes on it.
Until she’s ready to get down. Then she neatly knocks the stuffed owl off the shelf and jumps back onto the tall filing cabinets, then onto the shorter ones and finally to my desk or the floor.
Amazingly, I manage to catch her in mid-jump a couple of weeks ago.
This quote from Vincent van Gogh is from “Dear Theo”, the collected letters from him to his brother Theo, edited by Irving Stone. It is a remarkable first person account of his life by a great artist. Well worth a read and you can get it here.
2017 will be the nineteenth year of a Humboldt County event that I co-founded with another local artist, Sasha Pepper, who was the one who knew how to put an event like this together. We had 43 artists sign up the first year and it’s just rolled on from there, to my immense satisfaction. This will be my first time participating in a number of years and I’m really excited to be a part of it again. I’ll be open both weekends….June 3-4 and 10-11 from 10am to 5pm. The garden will be in full bloom, too, and I’ll have a selection of choice plants for sale along with my paintings, drawings, cards and prints.
Guidebooks, which include maps, are available at a variety of locations around the county, but you can also find out who’s opening their studio on the event website here. There are over 100 artists and fine craftspeople to choose from. Many people plan their weekend around visiting the artists in specific locations. I’m in Dow’s Prairie, just north of McKinleyville. There are seven of us in the area and three more locations just to the north in Trinidad and Westhaven, so make a day of it and come see us! We’ll all have signs out to direct you to our studios.
If you’d like to preview many of the participating artists’ work, there’s a show up now at Stonesthrow Boutique in downtown Eureka at 423 F St. My painting “Chronos (Khomyn Tal Takhi Stallion)” is there.
Humboldt County has had a vibrant art scene since the 1960s. You will be amazed and excited by the variety of styles and media we work in. If you’re coming in from out of town you can find visitor information here. Coastal Humboldt County is the place to beat the inland heat.
You can also always find my work at Strawberry Rock Gallery in Trinidad. My studio is open by appointment throughout the year. Just use the contact form on my website to set one up.
I flew into New York on Wednesday to attend the 113th Annual Explorers Club Annual Dinner (I’ve been a Fellow of the Club since 2014). Tonight is the opening reception at the Club headquarters. Tomorrow night will be the dinner, which will be held on Ellis Island. Noted polar explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes will be the keynote speaker. The Master of Ceremonies will be joined onstage for the opening of the event by legendary actor Robert de Niro. So it’s going to be quite an evening.
In the meantime, yesterday I went to the Museum of Modern Art and walked around Central Park. It was pretty nippy, but sunny.
My main mission was to see the original of van Gogh’s “The Starry Night”, which has been one of my favorite works of art since I was a child. It’s smaller than I expected, but absolutely wonderful. I only had my iPhone with me but it did quite well.
One of the major differences between seeing an original instead of a print is being able to see the dimensionality of the paint as the artist has applied it. You can see some of that in the detail photo above.
Another favorite artist is Jackson Pollock. The museum had one of his large pieces on display, “One: Number 31″ and it also really must be seen in person to appreciate it, if only for the scale. It’s 8’10″x 17′ 5 5/8”. I was able to get pretty close to it, enough to see the layering, and how thin or thick the paint was. Interestingly, it appears that, at least in this one, he mostly followed a very traditional approach of working “lean to fat”….from thin to thick. To many people it just looks like a bunch of random drips so, really, what was the point? But the method is clear when you’re in front of the painting itself. He started with some kind of basic idea and color scheme and then built on it, but also let “happy accidents” occur that he could build on and add to. The result is a tremendous visual rhythm that works whether you’re looking at the whole thing or just a detail. It could be cut (perish the thought) into twelve pieces and every single one would stand alone as a work of art.
I also liked this work by Franz Klein, probably because I did calligraphy with both pen and brush for many years.
And this one by Mark Rothko. Some of you who know my work might be wondering why I like and am posting abstract work, which is held in contempt by many representational artists. Maybe it’s because I was a graphic designer for many years, so I like and appreciate non-representational work that is pure design in which the subject is the paint on the surface, not a picture “of something”.
The usual comment is often along the lines of “What’s the big deal? I could do that.” Well, maybe you could, but you didn’t. Rothko did. There’s also a thread of envy and resentment among some artists because apparently “simple” paintings like this are assumed not to have taken long but have brought fame and fortune to the artist, which somehow doesn’t seem fair. Yet, one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that simpicity is what is hard, not detail. There’s nothing wrong with either, of course, if it’s what the artist needs to do to express their vision. That’s the most important thing.
And then there’s Monet. I’ve seen his water lily paintings in other museums, but this is by far the largest. My biggest painting to this point is 36×48″ and that was a fair amount of real estate to cover. These three panels together measure 6′ 6 3/4″ x 41′ 10 3/4″. Forty-one feet long….
Here are a couple of detail photos:
And moving in a little closer:
Even closer and any sense of a subject would disappear into abstract brushwork. All good paintings have a solid abstract structure underneath to hold them together. The structure is the subject, along with paint color, texture and shape, in non-representational painting.
Abstract shapes and designs can be found in the real world if you learn how to look for them.
Vertical trees, sun and shadow on the snow. This could be turned into an interesting abstract design of shapes and colors.
After I left the museum I walked around Central Park a bit and then south towards Times Square. On the way to the park, I stopped in the middle of a crosswalk because I just had to get a shot of this reflection.
Times Square is just ahead. I’d kind of run out of gas at this point, so stopped here and got a pretty typical New York street scene, complete with taxi cabs, before I headed back to the hotel.
And finally, how could I not like having this view from my window…
I like to garden and we have an acre to do it on. It’s great exercise, especially for easel artists like me who are either sitting or standing most work days. Lots of range of motion…reaching, kneeling, carrying yard waste to the compost pile etc. so it’s a good workout in the fresh air. And results in flowers, vegetables, herbs, fruit and berries. But, like many people who live in rural areas, we have gophers. The cats account for some (Alexander a Really Great Cat got a big one last month), we set traps in live holes, but of course they’re never gone for long. Nature finds a niche and fills it. I’ve lost a lot of bulbs and even some roses over the years. So when I wanted to replace a couple I decided that I wasn’t going to just plop them into the ground and cross my fingers We had some leftover gopher cloth from what we had put under the raised bed and there was enough to line a couple of planting holes. My goal is to give the roots enough safe growing space that they will stay alive and thrive. We’ll see.
The Black Hole gopher trap is the most humane solution that we’ve found. When triggered it crushes the thorax and they die pretty much instantly. Plus it doesn’t endanger our pets or other wildlife. A few years ago while I was on my annual seven week trip to Mongolia my husband trapped nine and the cats got eight. That stopped the worst of the damage, but we have to be eternally vigilant, especially now when they’re getting active again and hungry.
I thought I’d post a few photos of what we did in case you might find it useful. If you have found any non-toxic gopher controls that work, let me know in the comments.
The roses are “Graham Thomas” a beautiful golden yellow David Austin rose that can be grown as a climber.
We’ve had a series of those “atmospheric river” storms, heavy rain and wind, so haven’t gotten much done other than to start pruning the roses. But in the next week or so I think the 2017 gardening season will be on!
“Gallimauphry” is great 16th century French term for “a jumble of things” or as we might say “this and that”. You never know what I’ll post on the final Friday of the month.
I tried an experiment last night on Instagram. I’d toned this 24x4o” canvas panel with raw sienna yesterday and plan to post the work in progress. Instagram has become known as a must-see/must-do place for artists and buyers since it’s the most purely image-oriented social media platform. So I thought it would be amusing to post a blank canvas and see what happens. In two hours I had eight Likes and this morning, about twelve hours later, there were fifteen, which is about what I get, give or take, for images of actual paintings. A few more will probably show up before it moves down the queue. What I think is going on is that people like seeing artist’s studios and watching their process, but I still think this is amusing. So if you’re on Instagram and want to follow along or if you’re not yet and are going to sign up, you can find me here. Come on along!
In other news, my drawing “Relaxed (African Lion)” has been accepted into the Salmagundi Club‘s historic “Black and White Exhibition”! It was shipped off to New York yesterday.