Last month my 8 year-old granddaughter visited a small farm to do some horse stall chores and ride our friend’s pony. A brave little beginner with a fascination for horses is proving to herself that she can do just about anything. Even on two occasions when she slid down and off the pony onto the ground– the second time scraping her elbow. A little tear or two and a gentle talk with the pony-loving friend encouraged her to wipe herself off, put her foot into the owner’s hand and climb back on the painted pony’s back.
And off they went slowly allowing time for getting a feel for the sway of the pony and regular heartbeat to return. There’ll be more riding I’m sure of it.
And so it is for me after spending the better part of a month preparing for my Open Studio art event–ordering, packaging, sorting, cleaning, placing, making signs, replacing, tagging, titling, taping, and on and on… After 7 years of working full-time on my art career, I need a rest to savor the blessings of being an artist. And there are so many. Freedom to set my own schedule, time to take granddaughter to ride the pony, time to walk in the Halloween parade here in town, time to visit family who live near or across the country, taking advantage of unusual opportunities such as sailing on a schooner, saying yes to family and friends by being available for coffee and a chat, and being there for my lovely husband when the convertible is ready to go for a ride.
November and December are a winding down time as I take a breath to slow down and have no plan in particular other than to count my blessings. And begin thinking about how to climb back on the pony.
Ideas for post relaxing.
Cheers to all.
Lesson Learned: Work harder at relaxing in 2020.
Once a year I open the doors of my little barn studio to the public for an Open Studio event. This year ‘For Spacious Skies’ is the theme and the title of the artwork in the image above. #nhopendoors.com #clarkridgefarmdunbartonnh
I’ve worked for many years using imagery I discover along the seacoasts of New England and also incorporate imagery I find nearer to home here in New Hampshire. Farms and barns abound in just a few miles from my home and I’ve begun a new series dedicated to exploring the shapes, colors, textures and people that capture my attention in a similar way I have in my New England coastal series.
Wood fired maple boiling
Beginning to love horses…
Perfect day for maple sugaring open house/barn
Aged beautiful barn–one of many nearby
Here’s a bit of a heads up to what is in store for my muddy art journey in 2020. It will include some manure, muck, maple syrup, blue jeans, boots and plenty of sunshine. Hope you’ll follow my journey inland.
Lesson learned: Pay attention to what captures my attention.
Fishermen are famous for fish stories. But not this one. Bill Sisson, Editor-in-Chief of AnglersJournal at aimmedia.com was true to his word. A stroll in downtown Portsmouth, NH resulted in this collaboration of poetry and art. Poetry by Elizabeth Bishop https://www.poetryfoundation.org/podcasts/75635/at-the-fishhouses (available as a podcast in this link), was in the process of acquiring approvals to be published in an issue of Anglers Journal. My artwork happened to be on display at Kennedy Gallery in Portsmouth when Bill walked by already thinking about imagery to support Elizabeth’s poem, ‘At the Fishhouses’. Serendipity happens. He walked in to the gallery, viewed more of my work and asked for contact info. I was thrilled to receive the phone call and quickly said yes to this collaboration with such a prestigious author. I had not known her or her work but loved it when I read the verse. Almost as though it was meant to be.
My series of artworks featuring fishhouses began with my first painting workshop trip to Monhegan Island with painter Stan Moeller in 2003. The two fishhouses on the beach began a years-long semi-obsession with what they represented for me–two stalwart structures standing strong year-round, constantly being shored-up to withstand whatever came their way. As two people might also do.
Thank you Bill and Anglers Journal for patiently going through the years long process of receiving approvals to publish Elizabeth’s work. And especially for giving me, Ann Trainor Domingue, this unique opportunity to be paired with a giant in the poetry world.
Lesson learned: Do the work, show the work. You just never know.
I hear people say that New Englanders tend to be unfriendly and closed-minded, set in their ways, or unwelcoming. Not sure where they live or may be from, but I find the opposite to be true. Maybe its because as a lifelong New Englander I am willing to say hello, smile a bit, or offer help when I see it may be needed. Granted I am not one to seek the spotlight and cringe a bit when it happens in my life as an artist. I am also ok with people and strangers needing their space, needing time to adjust to a situation that is unfamiliar, or unexpected. And this may be what is taken as unfriendly behavior.
As a visitor to Provincetown MA over the last few years I’m consistently finding a friendly helpful vibe when I am there doing a return artist residency. It is a laid back place that is awash with strangers and visitors from June through September and beyond. I am able to wander around and watch a whole lot of life happening from tourists being tourists, to locals being locals.
But mostly its a friendly New England experience when you walk slightly beyond the wild and lively heart of Commercial Street. Take a side road toward the water to experience a view not often taken in by fast moving on-the-surface visitors. You’ll find a bit of peace and quiet among the seagulls and the locals who go there to recharge.
Lesson learned: Take the side roads.
Chalk drawing on dry painting to indicate rework to improve the figures.
Color added to new shapes.
Final painting, 36×36 acrylic on canvas.
I began this painting several years ago and after being seen and exhibited it found its way back to me. I looked at it again with a new point of view gathered along the way on my art journey. The overall design of the piece I still liked but some of the details especially in the figures were not defined enough. The colors were more muted than I felt the piece now needed. So, next step was to hang it on the studio wall and rethink my previous effort. The earlier work is not a wasted effort though, its just that my point of view and my ability to ‘see’ how all the parts relate to each other has improved.
One way I make renovations/changes/improvements is by testing my rework idea by drawing with chalk first to envision the new shapes on top of the dry paint. When I see better shapes and interactions I then begin to reevaluate color and layer over the old paint. I have more confidence in this approach now because I use Golden Open slow dry acrylic to layer paint knowing I can easily wipe off the change if needed. This ability to make changes and edit on the fly is really a game changer for me.
‘Forever Arm in Arm in Power Boots’ 36×36 on canvas is now one of my favorites. My charismatic neighbor saw it and noticed I had put her red gardening boots on the woman figure–she called them ‘power boots’ so I adopted the idea and lengthened the title of the piece. She so embodies the power boots idea. Thank you Friede!
Lessons learned: Pay attention to your neighbor’s gardening boots. And renewing older work puts my newest learning into action.
Stop by Uncommon Art on the Common outdoor art show on Saturday, August 3, 9-3. Over 40 artists in various mediums from painting to jewelry to handcrafted wooden birdhouses! A beautiful way to spend a summer day–visit local eateries, rest on the new benches positioned around town, and of course browse the artwork created by local NH artists. Hope you’ll share the news and stop by! Thank you.
A thought as the week unfolds.
Online ‘Social Media’ seems to have developed into an ugly hateful thing today. At the outset what appeared to be a way for people to communicate freely has also become a way for people to dis, disparage, hurt, embarrass, troll, stalk; to cruelly and intentionally harm another with relentless effort. And worse yet do physical or mental harm. Unfortunately online words and actions of bullying in all its ugly forms stay in the universe of digital communications forever. Horrible for those being bullied and disrespected and horrible for the bully when they realize someday how wrong they were to treat another human being as though they had no heart or soul.
As Americans we have the freedom to speak out in the ether or face to face. We cannot force someone else to listen to, read, or believe our words. We should be allowed to come to our own conclusions without fear of retribution, or harm or worse. And after a frank unresolved discussion still be able to be in one another’s company. And be nice to each other. Be polite.
Here’s to proper socializing making a comeback where kindness and respect for another’s different opinion matters. Here’s to keeping friendships alive despite differences. Here’s to being brave enough to accept challenges to an opinion. Here’s to having friendships matter more than anything. Here’s to being nice.
Lesson learned: Niceness matters.
Gem of the Moon 6×6 acrylic 2011
It used to be a real problem for me to paint a series of related images. For some reason I thought I had already done a painting in a subject and felt I needed to move on to something else.–to flowers to semi abstract to drawing to painting to landscape to seascape to farmland to animals to children to still life, and on and on. Until I finally accepted the advice of a non-artist friend to ‘just do another one similar but different’.
Seemed so simple.
Heading In and Out acrylic 36×36 2014
I was of the mind that I should do something very different than my most recent work. The general public doesn’t know you did that earlier version and you will not be making an exact copy of it again. As a creative person I should just be able to shift aspects from size, to color combination, to content and create a new art piece based on an earlier one’. At last the definition of working in a series made sense to me.
Right at Home acrylic 18×18 2017
I now thread my way to the next piece–moving just a little forward, sometimes sideways from my current work to make progress toward something different yet connected by threads of color, forms, subject, painting style or line work. It is amazing how the words of Robert Henri, an American artist and member of the Ashcan School in NYC, born in 1865– “Don’t worry about your originality. You couldn’t get rid of it even if you wanted to. It will stick with you and show up for better or worse in spite of all you or anyone else can do.”
Just Ask acrylic 10×10 2018
After having done many hundreds of paintings in my lifetime I now can see the thread of ideas and style begun many years ago. I continue patching new pieces of my story to my already established quilt of my painting life.
Lesson learned: Pickup where you left off and take a small step.
If you are in Portsmouth NH over April, please stop by my solo show ‘Undercurrents’ new works for 2019 at Kennedy Gallery on Market Street, Portsmouth. http://www.kennedygalleryandframing.com Thank you! –Ann
Moonlight Mermaid, 5×7 watercolor and pencil.
One Size Fits All, 8×10, acrylic.
Together in This Too, 24×48, acrylic on canvas.
What a year it has been. A combination of difficult and easy times. Of stressful and relaxing ones. Which when looked at altogether make up a life that I am grateful for– plenty of family, friends, new acquaintances, and old friends saying hello. Also now apparent are the later life stages now arriving for my senior parents as we accept the inevitable and help them through. I know many of you have been through these same difficulties and have learned to accept the good with the bad. I and my siblings will be doing the same in 2019. I will be putting more time toward resolving some issues surrounding family but will never be but a few steps away from my peaceful place, at home with close family, or in the quiet of my studio.
Thank you all for following my journey in art and I hope you’ll be there as I begin anew in 2019.
Lesson learned: Things always come to pass.
You are invited to view my newest artworks in a beautiful gallery in Portland, Maine! Portland Art Gallery on Middle Street in Portland Maine will host a two-person show of my work, opening reception on Thursday November 1, 2018, 5-7. My part of the show will feature at least 12 artworks exploring the idea of ‘Together In This’. That we are each finding our way in a dynamic world where finding our truth or center can be difficult. Finding a special person to share it with can be an honest place to start. These works provide imagery of figures in a coastal environment positioned in ways that provoke a sense of connection or disconnect–or better yet, a chance that something good will happen. Hope you will consider joining me at the opening night. Thank you.
Preparing for an art exhibition can be a stressful time. So many details to complete, artworks to create, and promotional efforts to finalize. Both on the gallery side and my side as the artist. We need to work together in order to have a successful show.
In July 2018 I prepped work for my first solo show at the George Marshall Store Gallery in York, Maine. The curator and gallery director Mary Harding had been following my career along for over 10 years. She encouraged my early efforts as I explored exactly what kind of work I could/would/should be doing. In the end the best advice was simply ‘paint what you love’. Defining what that is was more difficult than I thought. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years since leaving full time work as an advertising agency art/creative director. I’ve explored several avenues of subject matter and paint styles searching for an approach that suited my working style, my personal philosophy, my studio space, my family obligations and my goals for my art. Not an easy task to meld this all together into a cohesive whole.
I worked hard over last winter creating artworks that reflected my sense of optimism about people and relationships that matter. A body of work that challenged me to find design that was both simple yet deep in its ability to carry through my concept of togetherness. One more late-winter studio visit by Mary to curate the show was an important aspect to pulling together the right group of work for the show. I achieved a great result as 18 of 22 artworks in my solo show found new homes with art collectors via the George Marshall Store Gallery! I truly appreciate the efforts by Mary Harding and her group of wonderful gallery assistants who put on a wonderful event–complete with music and food. Thank you for making my work look so good. Grateful to you all.
Lesson learned: ‘Paint what you love, honestly and from the heart. Your own heart.’