For The Birds!
Last November I attended a three day show that I paid an embarrassing amount of money for. In those three days I sold embarrassingly little art. One man walked into my space and told me he was an art professor at a University. He said he really liked my art and he said to keep going. "Keep going and you'll get even better. You're on the right track". And I choose to believe him.
That was one of the things that made my effort worth the trip. Another was meeting the owner of "Wild Birds Unlimited", in Middletown, NJ. It's a niche shop that specializes in bird seed and bird feeders. They also carry lots of other things that might appeal to a person who loves birds and feeding them. He was very interested in both of my books, My Navesink and When You Live in the Woods. The silly thing was I forgot to give a copy of each book before he walked away! So, after that weekend I mailed him one of each with a letter saying how nice it was to meet him and I hoped he was still interested in carrying my books and offering to set up a book signing.
The reason he was interested in My Navesink is that Middletown sits on the banks of the Navesink River. Those who know the river and love her like I do, will be able to purchase copies at Wild Birds Unlimited at 844 NJ-35, Middletown Township, NJ 07748. Or you can call them at : (732) 671-3155.
Painting the illustrations for My Navesink was one of the most joyful experiences of my life! Writing the lyrics and music more than 20 years ago was as great a joy back then!
He was also interested in my picture book, When You Live in the Woods, with illustrations and poems by me. All of the paintings and poems are true stories about my experiences with the wildlife I live with on my 16 acre farm in the woods. For 25 years we've been stewards of the land, maintaining a healthy habitat for the animals that live around us and sometimes even get into our house! Many of our encounters have been with wild birds.
I think it's a perfect fit for "Wild Birds Unlimited!"
Thunder Hail and Canada Geese
Yesterday, after I got back from the studio, the sky got really black and wind whipped up. Then came the thunder! And then came the hail! Pretty unusual for winter in New Jersey!
I spent most of the afternoon working on the new painting, "McCarter Pond" I laid down the background and penciled in most of. the figures. I'm using acrylics to lay in the first layer and finishing it in oils. It's gunna be a great painting! And the memories it's bringing back are so f friendly. I hope it's ready for the Red Bank Street Fair on April 16!
I wasn't able to keep the sliding door open today like I did yesterday but I didn't need to turn the heater on either. This has been the strangest winter!
On the way back from the studio I encountered a pair of Canada geese. in the field next to the house. They were not happy to see me. I"m sure they were looking for a nesting site. They were looking at place really quite far from the creek that runs behind our house. But I'm pretty sure it's the same pair that roosted in the woods at the. front of the house last year. They'll either have to get used to me walking by every day or find someplace to lay their eggs.
So many people wish the geese would just go away. There are so many of them just about everywhere you look! Not enough predators I guess and they don't fly south for the winter anymore. But Tom and I just love them! They set up their territories during February and have their babies by the end of March. Then, from then until sometime in the summer our backyard is sprinkled with downy, fluffy yellow puff balls that turn into gangly teenager geese and finally, so grown up that we can't tell them from their parents.
Last year we had a lone goose. Sometime during the spring he/she lost her mate and spent weeks swimming up and down the creek and calling a mournful way, over and over again. So sad! Here's hoping that there are no lone geese this year.
Here's an image of the babies from the book I published last year.
I spent most of yesterday sketching out a design for a 24x20 inch painting of ice skaters on McCarter Pond. That was the pond closest to my home when I was growing up in Fair Haven, NJ.
It was a really fun afternoon. As I sketched I remembered so many of the times I spent skating there. There were picnics with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hot cocoa in a thermos. There were games of Crack the Whip! Sometimes the pond was so crowded with skates that it seemed like the ice would just sink beneath us! The boys tried to stake out their claims of ice for hockey games and if the girls tried to skate through there would yelling and the waving of hockey sticks!
I remember the time I was allowed to go to the pond at night. It seemed so much better than being there during the. day. It was all lit up and just seemed so strange and wonderful! And then there was the time I fell through ice! Talk about a 2 second heart attack! But I only went in up to my knees. My feet were SO COLD that they ached and I cried for half the walk home, until some kind lady picked me up in her car and drove me the last few blocks to my house.
Then there was the time when we had a hard freeze one day and the temperature rose so high the next day that folks were ice skating in their T shirts! When we skated fast there were little wakes of water that our skates kicked up.
The painting will packed with people and things to look for and look at. I'll paint it in acrylic paint and add depth with cool and warm oil paints. I'm really happy with the sketch.
There’s a young couple kissing and an older couple skating and holding hands. There’s a little girl who’s lost her balance and her feet are flying up in the air. Then there’s the Crack the Whip line with a twist; the children face in and out alternately. The boys are playing hockey in the background, there’s a mom pushing her baby in a sled and a dog looking for his boy.
I figure it’ll take me a couple of weeks to complete the painting and the I’ll start on a painting of the Fireman’s Fair. I can’t wait!
Redeemed Childhood Memories
Yesterday I started thinking again of a picture book about growing up in Fair Haven .
I have to say, that since coming out with the book, My Navesink so many good memories have come back to me! It's like writing the book redeemed all of my good memories that had hidden away behind so much of the trauma I experienced. Suddenly I'm able to see in my mind's eye all of the daring and sometimes stupid things I did as a kid, especially with Petie. I was a fire cracker of a kid! If there wasn't anything interesting happening in my life, I went out and produced something thrilling! Suddenly I can remember knocking on neighbor's doors to ask for a cookie. That must have been when I was 6 or 7 yers old. It sure seems like I knew a lot of little old ladies that I could scrounge a cookie from! If I ever get around to writing that book, I'm going to dedicate it to "All the kids who never got caught!"
And that got me thinking about McCarter's Pond and the Fireman's Fair. I bet I could make some neat paintings of those places/events that would appeal to folks in that area!
I really love crowded, busy paintings with lots going on, like the illustration of the Navesink River frozen over and all the people skating and watching the ice boats. I could do a painting like that of the pond with lovers skating hand in hand, a rough and rowdy game of hockey in the middle, A parent pushing a sled with a baby in it, a line of kids playing “Crack the Whip”, a couple of girls telling secrets and maybe a dog or two thrown in!
If I did a painting of the fair, it would be crowded with rides and booths and people all around the fire house. I even started a Pixelmater source for that this morning. But I need to think much more “outside the box” about before I can get a good grasp of what I want to include.
My mind is just so full of ideas! I wonder if I’ll have time to get them all done!
I was a fire cracker of a kid! If there wasn't anything interesting happening in my life, I went out and produced something thrilling! Suddenly I can remember knocking on neighbor's doors to ask for a cookie. That must have been when I was 6 or 7 yers old. It sure seems like I knew a lot of little old ladies that I could scrounge a cookie from! If I ever get around to writing that book, I'm going to dedicate it to "All the kids who never got caught!"
And that got me thinking about McCarter's Pond and the Fireman's Fair. I bet I could paint some neat paintings of those places/events that would appeal to folks in that area! So, I think when I get back to the studio tomorrow I'm going to start work on those paintings in acrylic and see if I can get them done in time for the Red Bank Street Fair on April 16.
Photo by JoAnn Pileggi
I have decided to see if treating blog writing like writing a letter to a good friend will help me to blog more often.
So, What did I do today? I painted sunflowers; two 5x7 paintings, one on canvas paper and the the other on watercolor paper.
The Pine Barrens Tree Frog sitting on a red maple branch came out really nice. I hope someone likes it enough to buy it. The swordfish came out nice too but I like the tree frog better. Both of them are painted on canvas paper.
I got my order of 4x6 prints from iprintfromhome.com. They're nice! But next time I'll order the prints in a satin finish. I'll be gluing them onto white card stock and using and selling them as blank notecards.
I have been making mixed media painting at 5x7, because I hope that a less expensive painting will appeal to a different stratus of art lovers.
I painted each with acrylic paint first, and then went over the first one with oil paints to add richness to the composition. And I decided to fool around with laying down brush strokes of complimentary colors, rather than blending them. So, where the sunflower petal is yellow, I used purple to make the shading, with out mixing them. Likewise, when the petals were in orange shadow, I made the darker spots blue. On the green leaves, the darker shades were made of alizarin crimson. It's only my first try at this technique and I'm not sure I like it but I'll play around with it a little longer to see if it grows on me. Tomorrow I'll add oils to the other 5x7 and see how I feel about it.
The weather today was pretty neat.
When I woke up this morning the temp was 58*. By lunchtime the clouds had muffled the sky. By 2:30 the wind was whipping and the rain came down in sheets, but then it dwindled away and the temp took a nose dive. When I got back to the house the thermometer said 50*. Now, at 11:30 at night the wind is still whippy and the air is down right cold! Now it is morning and the it's very wintery outside. Tom left for MD before the sun came up.
My daughter said she'd drive me to church on Sunday if Tom isn't back from the Naval Academy in time for the 4:00 service. She says she wants to come back to Shore life Church, that God is telling her it's where she belongs. I hope she sticks with us after this. There are so many people who love her there and so much encouragement for her and her husband. Hopefully he'll come back to church too.
Today I have the car so I'll do the grocery shopping. It being a night when Tom is away, I'll have my traditional Stouffer's Mac and Cheese.
Oh yeah! I’m going to experiment with wiping cooking oil on some eggs from the coop to see if that will clean them up before I bring them to Karen tomorrow. Here’s hoping it works!
Musings of a confessed eccentric.