December 26, 2010


...which means one of two things: nervous energy posting, or complete abstinence.

December 25, 2010

yeah, right. 

I'm cross-posting a bit.

The best piece of advice I ever received: "Go to the people whose eyes light up when they see you." Well, actually, the best piece of advice I ever received was "Go home and pour the rest of the bourbon down the drain," but that's another story.
The second best piece of advice I ever received: "Place a cup of water in the area where you think your pipes may be vulnerable, if the water freezes, you've got a problem."
Both pieces of advice make life relatively simple.

My mom passed away 7 months ago today. There's a blanket of fluffy snow on the ground. The dog got a new bone. I randomly picked up a book on a bookshelf. The book was titled, "Life's Extras."  It was a short read. The gist was that it's not the necessities that give us hope but recognizing the extras, such as beauty and grace. Small things, like a flower blooming, or a bird singing can alter our state of mind. It was published in 1928, back when horse and buggy's were all the rage and when people settled arguments by shooting one another, so a couple of passages in the book reveal. You-Know-Who is totally cashed out after gnawing on his new bone for over 3 hours solid. The snow is still fluffy. I've been unproductive today. I hate saying, "I don't feel like painting," because for the most part, I don't think feelings should have anything to do with it. If I didn't feel like doing stuff, I can promise that nothing would ever get done. Yesterday I didn't feel like running. It wasn't even that cold. After 9˚, 37˚ should be considered downright balmy. I am a wimp for thinking otherwise. I ran anyway. I gave myself permission to quit after 20 minutes, but I kept running and made my goal of 3 miles. Obviously I'm in "Trick Me" mode. Sometimes, when I don't feel like I'm accomplishing much in the real world fast enough or to my satisfaction, running helps me feel like I'm doing something. It requires more energy than brushing my teeth, but less energy than staring at a blank canvas. My pace was 10:12. That's 4 seconds slower than the previous day's 10:08. I am annoyingly competitive. I've thought about tricking myself into training for a half-marathon next spring, right after tricking myself into painting large-scale again.

December 22, 2010

Food For Thought

Highlights from a recent visit at Two Coats of Paint, the Two Coats Final Exam:

I love starting my day off with good fodder. The drag is that I'm inspired to spend a couple of hours writing my essay answer for the TC final exam when I need to be working on other things- like work in the studio, work outside the studio, also known as work in studio B- and Holy Holiday Batman, I should probably start Christmasizing myself.

It has occurred to me that instead of baking traditional Xmas cookies for folks, or even some of the beautifully artsy- inspired cookies, I could make Christmas Cornbread. Since I have not yet made such a dish, I will describe how I would make it.

1. Follow recipe on package of white cornmeal for Southern Cornbread in a skillet.
2.  Add some pimentos and some jalapeno peppers- just enough to imply a red and green thing is happening.
3. Bake.
4. Make a little rosemary or sage wreath to go on top.
5. Strategically place a couple of pimentos on "wreath" to look like holly berries or a bow, depending on your skill level.

Why Christmas Cornbread? Because it is easy and there's practically no cleanup. You dump a few ingreds into a bowl, stir, pour, and bake.

It's 9:30 am and I have already made an imaginary cornbread dish written an imaginary essay.
The coffee is real. The coffee is always real.

December 21, 2010


Woohoo woohoo!!!! Or would that be, Yee-haw Yee-haw?

I just got word I was selected for the artist-in-residence program here in town: free studio space for one year!!!!!!! I'm so happy I can hardly contain myself. I still have to meet with the top brass and get the details, but it's really the best Xmas present and great news for the year end. I'm still holding back on revealing some of the coolest parts. More after the first of the year. Oh, the suspense. Ratings sweep this week. I am awesome today.

And totally unrelated- I'll take a few days of freezing cold over flooding and torrential rains in L.A. anytime. Been there, done that. Seriously, when you think of L.A. in the rain, I want you to picture the 405 and every other major artery at a standstill. Then summon up that feeling of trying to evacuate a major city and being stuck on the freeway with no exits. Then think about gray concrete against a gray sky against gray buildings with exhaust fumes, day in and day out, with nothing but rain tying it all together. Next time I whine about the cold, someone remind me I said this.

December 19, 2010

As promised...almost.

I kind of feel like a have a stalker now. Some guy checks my blog to see if I've posted updates on the attempted fraud thing and then sends me emails letting me know. I looked into doing a private blog, but it's way too much trouble at this point considering the delicate ecosystem of links out there. The whole thing just pisses me off. The email was so very polite, I almost thought it was from a Nigerian who wanted to buy my beautiful paintings. But alas, it was not.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.
Broke down and bought a tree yesterday. Impulse buy. I saw a blurb in the paper about adopting seniors without family and I thought that might help my low mood, so I picked some names off the adopting tree and shopped for some items they had requested. Towel sets, housecoats, thick socks etc. One requested a green plant. I thought it might feel good to shop for older people since I missed shopping for my mom this year. When I got to the checkout, I had amazingly hit my budget within 3 bucks. As a bonus, I saw Jack White roaming the aisles. It was a pretty day yesterday, not too cold, so on the way home when I spotted a boy scout troop selling trees, I caved in and bought a small tree. It was their last day and they were making deals. My lucky day. Due to a bad call made by one of the guys, they took off a strategic limb and had to saw a few more off to even it up. It ended up being a little shorter than I had expected, but it's fine. I decorated it. For real. Lights, ornaments, the works. I even hung the wreath and reconfigured the lame-o lights. I vacuumed and dusted. My favorite part has always been the scene underneath the tree. I need some new snow. Currently it reflects the global warming trends. My polar bears are atop dry rocks. Santa's sleigh is dashing through slush, the pond is is thawing. I'll get some new snow tomorrow and make everything better again. The good news is that we're all lit up and for the most part, blend in with the rest of the neighborhood. Today marked a big milestone as I finally attached the FM ribbon antennae and now get public radio. 6 months. 2011 will be better, more efficient. I promise.

December 15, 2010

The Holidays.

There's a common misconception that just because one is an artist, one would care about all matters of design, fashion, and style. Not true. I relish really good design as much as the next guy, and while I appreciate the hand-me-down aesthetics of my home- the time, price, and effete skill it would take to overhaul my abode into a cozy, functional, modernist cube make it highly unlikely I will accomplish this anytime soon. Simply put, I'd rather spend time in the studio. And yet, I scan sites like Remodelista and Slow Home Studio as though I stand a fighting chance of living a sleek and modern life. I bring this up because I am having a tough time decorating for Christmas, or any day, for that matter. I do not have a tree. I bought a wreath. I unpacked some lights and half-assed strewn them in the general direction of  the mantel. I found my stocking. Yesterday I pumped Christmas music into the stereo while I unpacked the box of paintings which came back from my last show.
10% effort. I can do better. 
A portion of my common rock collection is on the floor behind the tinsel, and that stack of books are coffee table books which had been on the coffee table for 40 years. I was too tired to find a nail to pierce the mantel, so the stocking is hung from a bird cage stand. I thought a wreath on the fireplace screen would help, but I have not hung it properly yet; it is merely leaning. My fireplace hasn't been inspected in a few years, so I don't think I will chance a fire this winter. It beats a barren room, but I could do better. This is what 10% holiday effort looks like amidst still not quite unpacking and organizing after 6 months. A friend suggested I come up with a new holiday tradition this year, but this feels like a transitional year, as opposed to a traditional year. 2010 wasn't a bad year, as in good vs. bad, but it was a year for change and change is sometimes difficult. As far as saying goodbye, I wouldn't say I'm happy to to see 2010 go, but I'd just as soon pack it in a box and store it in the attic until I no longer need it.

I had a good day in the studio the other day, but it's taking external motivation to get to work. I took a pic of the pool as it started to snow, posted it, and an L.A. artist friend suggested I get in studio and paint. I did. I also posted a comment about an experience many years ago, walking home in the bitter cold in Chicago. I painted that as well. I thought it might be time to move past the abandoned pool, but for now, it's a fixture on my landscape and it did not feel forced or trite to paint it again. I still struggle, question, grapple, and/or ponder the delineation between abstraction and representation in my studio practice. I am not thinking as abstractly as I used to, but I'm not 100% motivated by reality either. It's like I have walked through an invisible partition and I can't cross back. The abstract work was always about something in the real world, but there was a much slower recognition process. Now I can look at nearly every brushstroke or amorphous area of color I put down and readily identify it after the fact as referencing something in the my universe. Others may still need to look somewhat harder for these references, but that is not the point. My game has become articulated almost as soon as it begins. In other words, the abstract paintings are not abstract enough, and thus my desire to paint representationally driven imagery is currently more emotionally satisfying, as though I'm going through snapshots of events not recorded in time.

December 12, 2010

Yep, it's snowing and it stuck. 24 degrees.

This book belongs to Mary Addison
So after I woke up, had coffee and let the dog out, I commenced decorating for Christmas. Not really, but I finally hooked up the stereo. It wasn't as mystical as I thought it would be. Matt had kindly made a diagram of the schematics before I left Culver City and I had done a rubbing of the inputs and outputs so I would know what to hook up where. You'd never believe I was an editor, assistant editor, and even an pinch-hit engineer back in the 90's. Then I dumped all the Xmas music on my 2nd gen iPod to get me in the mood. I'm guessing it snowed about 2 inches today. I ate a bunch of sweets-mostly red and green M&M's, snapped a picture or two, and painted. Came across some boxes with some old books I had out aside, published by The Lollipop Library. Note the rad signature, it's not terribly different than my current signature. I miss the days when I didn't worry so much. I paint much better when I don't worry about stuff. I woke up sad today. Had this weird dream where my mom had piled up all the broken and shoddy furniture on the porch and she was leaving.
He's pretty darn cute when he looks all puppy-like. He sleeps with his eyes open sometimes. Such a creepster.

December 11, 2010

Another art opening tonight.

I am jonesing for a local artist residency. Went to the opening of the current a.i.r. tonight. Not saying much else until further notice, but I met the gents in charge this evening and it's looks like a great, and mutually beneficial opportunity. In other news, it's supposed to snow tonight and according to my geeky weather radio, be "brutally" cold, with temperatures, "plummeting." You may have noticed I'm not really handling the harsh weather here with much diplomacy. Being warm and dry are things I've taken for granted and it freaks me out a bit when I realize how easy it would be not to be warm and dry. I always have to remind myself I'm grateful to have a home, even one that needs constant repair, hence my anxiousness with a newly replaced roof that is leaking in my fireplace, as I blog.

I logged 10 miles of running this week and got my pace down to a semi-respectable for me, 10:40 average. Not too bad for end of week 5. I also finished my knitted skirt and am amazed that it fits and looks good. I didn't use a pattern. Just math and even then, after the first 7 inches, I was winging it. Life would be simpler and perhaps faster, if I made notes. I believe the wallpaper project is one month past due. I can't remember anymore. I still need to sand and paint the molding and lower wall. I realized power sanding would be much more cleanup on the back end, while hand sanding is time consuming on the front end. Such the conundrum. Then there's the OMG, maybe I'm nuts for doing this in the first place.

I need to get back to work in the studio and relax a bit. Breathe. breathe breathe. Picked holiday greenery from a 72-year magnolia tree yesterday and decorated the porch some. Did I mention it's suppose to snow tomorrow, and be "brutally" cold? Yes, I think I did.

December 08, 2010

New venture underway.....

Until I get the whole shebang up and running, mum's the word, but I wrote my mission statement today, and my byline is stellar. The name of the company and the byline have been in place for a few years, along with the logo and letterhead. I think it's a good time for this and I think I'm in a good location as well. Follow through and product are the key components. I basically need to allow myself time for experimentation and failure trial and error, without getting tweaked about wasting time or antsy that I'm not working on a painting. This would be called time management. Like for instance, it's almost 10PM now. I've had a fairly productive day, but I didn't really get to work-work until around 3pm today.  I get up early, but the morning coffee hour is usually freestyle. A six hour work day is fairly respectable, so I can live with myself. I need to stop waking up to NPR though. The whole economy down the toilet reports and the political climate is really bumming me out. It's hard enough to take during the waking hours, but to have it fed to you through a speaker first thing in the morning while you're still asleep is way too harsh. It's all too 1984. I used to wake up to classical, but there's no classical programming here first thing in the morning.

Yesterday, my neighbor let me fill the trunk of her car with scrap wood, a rusted highchair, a no longer useful Rubbermaid Blue plastic garbage bin and some broken bricks, and she carted me and my refuse over to the residential waste and recycling facility. My front porch is looking almost suburban again. Today, same neighbor asked me if I could repair a broken holiday serving bowl and a chipped china candle holder. No guarantees on the broken holiday serving bowl. A china elf was decapitated and I believe he was missing a key component, like his china neck bone, making his recapitation tenuous at best. The chipped china candle holder was a breeze, though I'm sure a bona fide porcelain restorer would scoff at my method. I filled in the chip with spackle, matched the glaze with some acrylic paint wizardry, and topped it off with a touch of clear nail polish. Imperceptible. I am so good.

I ran today. 2.5 miles. 25 degrees. It's somewhat empowering for the first few minutes to know I'm running in freezing weather instead of sitting inside snacking on a loaf of chocolate babka, which I already devoured within 24 hours of bringing it home. Pace was 10:45.

December 07, 2010

So totally in progress that it's almost indecent I show them

Work on paper. The flower garland reminds me of a dress I wore to my dad's funeral, and every other funeral I attended in the 80's. 
Just started this one. No clue as to where it's going. None. It was too cold to use my Montana spray paint outside, so I used it inside. No odor. Just need to be cautious about the particle fallout.

Here's the same painting about an hour later. I remembered I was going to make a cheap motel painting. At first I meant a painting like you would find in a cheap motel, but then I started thinking about cheap motels. Notice the fishing lake and the motel parking lot amidst the trees. I'm thinking X-files.  

This reminds me of the cover art for "Grand Illusion," by Styx, 1977. I'll probably end up titling it, "Grand Illusion." The stripes, cones, and criss-crossy things are a little unusual for me, but the other wall in the den studio is a bookcase and one of the book spines looked like this, relatively speaking. I'm having trouble remembering what this painting looked like last week or the week before. Oh wait. it's coming to me... nope...oh yes, I remember now. It's much better now than it was last week. A bunch of yellow paint really took one for the team on this one.
The spines.
It's cold here. I give you winter, with pine trees, pine cones and something else. This has the look of a painting that will not even remember what it looked like 5 days from now. I'm getting really good at this guessing game.

The winter den studio. I swear, one day I will once again have a big-ass studio with white walls bathed in clean clear natural sunlight. 

December 06, 2010

I'm working on keeping spirits bright.

Instead of obsessing on why I haven't rec'd a boatload of works that were to be shipped back 3 weeks ago, I'm going for a run. After which, I will recommence being proactive in my career development. Truth be told, I like it here. Sure I  may have ranted yesterday about the state of the local arts, and  the weather is going to be a bit of an adjustment, and I am slow to trudge the marketing path over and over, but I had a stellar studio day yesterday, so game on once again.

December 03, 2010


December is a throw a dart on the wall and see what sticks kind of month. In between installing a token Christmas wreath, the wallpaper project, home repairs, and maintaining 2 studio personas, I've stumbled across a few blog posts of late that I'd like to share.

Abstract Painting England Not just one post. The whole blog is devoted to Abstract Painting. In England. APE, for short.
Joanne Mattera has a post re: marketing & gallery representation and also a cheat sheet to Miami. I almost flew down on lark, now that I'm closer. 2010 has definitely been an out of the loop year for me. I'll put it on the list for next year.
Two Coats has a post on Andrew Masullo with a video by James Kalm, speaking of small abstraction.
It's always nice to check in at Progress Report
I still drop by The Sartorialist when I'm feeling frumpy.
I keep forgetting that Thursday is when some art openings happen around here. It just hasn't registered, but then I still haven't hooked up the stereo either. I'll drop by next week.
Zeitgeist Gallery
Cumberland Gallery
I am going to the Downtown Art Crawl tomorrow night because a friend of a friend is showing work at Twist.

Santa delivered a pair of Wellies a bit early this year since according to Wikileaks, the average rainfall in Nashville is 48.5 inches as opposed to 15.4 inches in Los Angeles. I asked for Black. Predictable, but versatile. Slosh, slosh. I was trying to hold out on opening them until Christmas day, but the chance of inclement weather around here is high. I'll wrap them back up and pretend like I've never seen them before. No one will be the wiser.

Wallpaper update: One wall left to go. A friend came by and immediately pointed out that the white trim would have to go, along with the white ceiling, in order for my look to work. I was prepared to paint the molding, but the ceiling? Jeesh. I forge on.

Knitted skirt update: Yes, I am still knitting it. I've decided to have it hit me above the knee, and so I'm working on the hem now. The other day while knitting, I had to yank at the ball of yarn, thinking it was caught on a chair leg or something. It was in the dog's mouth. He deserves his own TV show.

November 27, 2010

Script for a One-Act Play

Why I Want to Avoid Parties This Holiday Season 
a play in one act 
by M.A.H. 


Q........The Others

Act I

People are mingling in the background. Everyone is smiling and laughing. There is food and drink.

Q: So, how do you like being back in Nashville?
A: It's fine.

Q: What do you do?
A: I'm an artist. I paint.

Q: What do you paint?
A: Mostly abstract, but with some representational imagery.

Q: Do you use oils?
A: Oils, acrylic, watercolor, whatever. I like paint.

Q: Do you show your work in Nashville?
A: No.

Q: There's a little gallery on Highway 70, maybe you could show your work there, or at one of the high school art galleries.
A: [Nods slowly. Shows no expression. Tries to smile slightly. Nods slowly again.]

Q: Have you thought about teaching high school?
A: Not really. A drawing I have posted on my website contains the word, fucked. I don't think I'd be a good role model to teach a high school art class.

[Awkward silence. Q glances nervously around the room. A remembers she wore a watch specifically so she could look at it in situations like this. A looks at watch. Q failed to make eye contact with anyone. They resume the conversation.]

Q: What are you going to do?
A: I'm really good with removing wallpaper. I call myself "The Wallpaper Whisperer" and have demanded the dog address me as such during business hours. I also make affordable paintings under an alter ego and sell them out of a fake atelier- my version of Jaclyn Smith at Kmart. I've thought about making hand-painted Christmas ornaments, but that idea just came to me today. I'll take orders though; I work fast. A few years ago I invented a company that made one of a kind items upcycled from other items. I made a few prototype billfolds from mailing envelopes and messenger bag from a a couple of T-shirts. There's some handicapable furniture around here that could be modified and given a fresh new look. That would be the high-end stuff. I also invented a left-handed motorcycle glove with a neon orange palm, so that you could wave wildly at some asshole that was veering in your lane. I may pick up on that again.

Q: Are you married? Do you have kids?
A: Not really. No. I mean, Yes, I married a house recently. No kids, just dust bunnies, but you know, they're like kids.

[Awkward silence. Q glances nervously around the room. A remembers she wore a watch specifically so she could look at it in situations like this. A looks at watch. Q failed to make eye contact with anyone. They resume the conversation.]

Q: Do you think you'll stay in Nashville?
A: For now. The house needs me, plus there's a dog that rents out a couple of rooms in exchange for sentry duty. I prepare his meals. When he's not on guard duty, he spends time in group therapy with some rocks and bricks. His best friend is a deflated basketball.

Q: Do you smell vinegar?
A: Yes, It's my new perfume. I discovered it while removing wallpaper. What do you think?

Q: I think I'll freshen up my drink.
A: Go right ahead.

[Fade out.]

November 26, 2010

My Sisyphean chess game, called Home.

In an effort to focus more on art than the tedium of everyday life, I'm going to try and post the art content first. Since my thought process doesn't always flow this way, I'll resort to cut and paste, as demonstrated below.

I needed to dig out some paintings for something next year and discovered a painting which I thought I had either lost or destroyed during the packing and moving of last spring. It was a difficult painting, one of the ones that I classify as being one step away from total demise, but by some stroke of apathy and uncertainty, I don't get around to actually destroying. Sometimes, I like these paintings the absolute most, but usually not until much, much later. Hence, I generally promise myself not to destroy these particular breed of failures.

My run today was so pathetic, I can't even bring myself to report my mileage and/or my pace. I'm certain the restaurant we ate at yesterday slipped MSG into something I ate, because I was headachey and puffyface and feel kind of hungover today.

I've been working on the living room. It's like I live in a large chess game. Today I removed two pieces of furniture. It's not like they're disappearing into thin air either, I simply place them somewhere else. The stereo is still not hooked up, but it's at least off the floor and looking like it could be hooked up. I was going to ditch one of the sofas but since no one has responded to my ad on craigslist,  I threw a dropcloth on top of it, and suddenly felt more at home.

November 25, 2010

I'm grateful for my skills and talents, my animals, my friends, and my family that's no longer with me.

I'm grateful for more of course. Roof over my head comes to mind. My health is something to be thankful for, especially since I'm in-between health insurance coverage. In order to save money, I gave up the California plan while waiting approval from the Tennessee provider.

I always had this fantasy that as an artist I could work anywhere. Having lived half of my life in 2 major cities, anywhere was always a rural outpost. In my fantastical rural outpost, I would get up, walk to the local post office, say hello to my fellow townspeople at the local diner, and have a show at the local gallery once a year, selling out during the tourist season. I would then kick back and paint like a madwomen in my cabin during the long hard winter. My fantasy town was modeled after Saugatuck, Michigan. It is where Ox-Bow is located. I did a couple of residencies at OxBow in my 20's. The couple of summers I didn't do a residency or work on staff, I  drove up to visit my friends who were working there. At least one or two of the artists I met there, gave up city life and lived out my fantasy. I was so optimistic, so naive. One of my roles models at that time was the likes of Basquiat. This was before I went to grad school.

I confided in a friend today that 1) the miniature paintings were addictive and that 2) I was already over the alter ego- not the paintings of the alter ego, just the alter ego. She suggested schizophrenia might be a alternative.

I think there was MSG in my Thanksgiving meal. I allowed psycho dog on the bed today and napped to the sound of football.

Today was to be a running day, but I'm backing off a couple of days until my achilles tendonitis goes away.

November 23, 2010

Rainy day.

I notice when I can't concentrate, or I want to avoid accounting, or housekeeping, or even the business side of things, I retreat in the studio. I painted almost all day yesterday, but in jags. I worked on (1) 16" x 20" painting, (2) 16" x 20" paintings on paper, and (3 or 4) miniature paintings on gessobord.

It's been awhile since I've worked on paper. If this group show goes through, it will be works on paper. I attempted to channel my alter ego's jouissance for visionary work onto paper, and at a larger size, about 16" x 20". It felt like I was trying too hard, so I washed one out and the other one is waiting for mercy. I had a moment where I wondered if I had forgotten how to make large brushstrokes. This was followed by a moment of wondering if I could ever paint large again. This was followed by an internal debate of whether it's easier to paint large or small and whether my ego was wrapped up into thinking I need to paint large again to prove I could paint large again. The camps are divided on whether it's harder to paint small or large. Having done both, I don't know. Sometimes, I think it's all hard.

Then I went on to paint some miniature paintings incognito. I'm not mocking the outsider art or visionary thing. Other than having 2 fine arts degrees that didn't contribute much to my learning the craft or skill of painting, my painting style has always been naturally a bit more raw than my academy trained peers. For instance, perspective's never been my strong suit, though after teaching it for 10 years, I understand the importance of it and can teach it quite well since I empathize with students who don't get it right away. I think it may have something to do with visual dyslexia and possibly trying to rationalize a mathematical construct that needs no further rationalizing.

But back to the miniature paintings. Believe it or not, most everything, save the abstractions, are taken from objects or things I find around the house. Figurines, painted china- that kind of stuff. It's endless, really. It makes sense for M. Thack Addie, v. to paint these, since most of them are relics from his time period. Commercially, we'll have to iron out the snags. Meanwhile, I'm just letting the paint chips fall where they may. Otto was in the studio with me yesterday, albeit briefly. I caught him licking a very wet oil painting that was leaning against the wall. It was a hard painting day yesterday. Toward the end, I remembered that lots of outsider and visionary art has text written in it, so I made some text paintings. (See yesterday's post.) But then this isn't new either, since in the past, I have been known to make text based work as part of my practice.

I'm forcing myself to work in the office today.
Very wet and rainy.
Run: 1.26 miles during a break in the weather. I stopped when it started raining again. I'm not a wimp. I just didn't want to get my iPhone wet. Later today, I may try and get another mile in.
Pace: 11:00
I can tell I'm getting a little Achilles tendinitis. I think it's the hills. There's only about 1/4 mile of flat surface around here.
* evening run:1.4 mi
I forgot to start the chrono.
Damn you, Achilles tendon.

November 22, 2010


I wasn't very productive today, 2010, acrylic on gessobord, 4" x 8" (diptych)

painting is hard, 2010, a/c

November 21, 2010

I'm tired of thinking.

Shaman, 2010, a/p, 4" x 4"

The title was inspired by a comment Farrell Brickhouse made on a photo I uploaded of Otto on FB. He's in the new den studio looking out a window. In real life, my painting table is to the right. Maybe I should teach him how to paint.

Today was a running day: 2.5 miles
My timing was slow (11:43). I stopped once to answer a question about a lost dog and twice to take pictures of the infernal hills.

A check arrived from the gallery. I was happy.

November 20, 2010

A fine mess. Someone may have to die.

Thank goodness for life on Mars.

Along with several flower images from the pools and flowers series, I recently, like yesterday, submitted one of M. Thack's works to a curator who's putting together a show. Subject: flowers. It's way more interesting than that, but since it's at the proposal stage, that's all I'll say for now. In fact, the painting was created on the fly specifically to sneak in one of M. Thack's works along with my own. I mentioned our complicated relationship in the body of the email, but did not go into detail.

Turns out the painting M. Thack dashed out was selected to represent MY work in the proposal package. Things are a bit awkward here in the studio. I'm watching my back.

To make matters more complicated, heads were rolling at the atelier late last night. Seems that sloppy wench of an assistant didn't notice the scroll down menu and thus M.T.A.,v was categorized as a public figure, not an artist. Uncorrectable, which is pretty lame on facebook's part, I might add. We created a new page, making sure the new assistant wench selected "artist," but for some reason, M.T.A.,v shows up as just "page" now. Whatever. Curse 21st century digital technology.

And while I'm railing about the 21st century, have you noticed it's harder, like nearly impossible to find good 'ole ball point pens? Those damn leaky gel rollerballs that bleed through paper are taking over. I'm going to be stockpiling as many Bic pens as I can.

Today is a running day. 
2.12 miles
11:12 pace. Halfway up a hill, I slowed down and walked for one minute. 

November 19, 2010

Facebook is down.

The last thing I did was send SGL code.

So, seriously, in a painting smackdown, who would you vote for?

Notice the poll in the sidebar.
I'm asking, because in my ongoing effort to expand my empire and spread the gospel of paint, I'm going to be hitting the proverbial road again, knocking on proverbial doors. Depending on the how the votes go, this might mean some restructuring of the original business plan. Maybe a buyout. Depends. 

November 18, 2010

Ladies who lunch. That was me today.

I went to a lunch and lecture today at Cheekwood. The lecture was on portrait miniatures. I did some research a couple of years ago when I first began painting small, but I hit the jackpot today. Collector Raymond White presented a slide lecture and talked about highlights from the collection. Collectors are interesting people. I like them. They're as passionate about collecting, as artists are about making art. A very entertaining speaker, Mr. White talked about the first painting he collected, (a small, but not miniature, maritime painting) his current passion, (shell casing trench art) and of course, his collection of miniature portraits which he and his wife have donated to Cheekwood. Afterward, I trekked up to the mansion to see the collection on display.

I had a veggie wrap with a cookie, and sat at a table with other art enthusiasts. After a few pleasantries were exchanged, I was asked for a business card by my table companions, and embarrassingly enough, had to scribble my name on a scrap piece of paper. It's funny, because one of the first things people ask you after you tell them you're an artist is, "Have you had an exhibition?" Or maybe it's just me, but all of my life, people have asked me this. Maybe I don't look like an artist when I'm dressed in civvies. Maybe I really do look like a lady who lunches or some dilettante.   I said yes, but I'm not sure the scrap piece of paper with my name scribbled on it was too impressive. I have a box of business cards at home. I should just dump a bunch in the bottom of every purse and coat pocket I own. It felt like I was writing a short story by the time I wrote my name and website out. Twice, for 2 different people.
m a r y   a d d i s o n   h a c k e t t

M. Thackston Addie, visionary needs a calling card. I'll see about ordering him some. Script, of course, on nice stock.

Today was a running day.
2 miles. Average pace 11:01.
chilly. hilly, and gray.
One day I'll get tired of listening to The Offspring, Americana, and anything ELO, but so far. so good.

November 16, 2010

I moved the studio. again.

The dining room studio became unbearable. Too much big furniture and I kept tripping over my boxes of paint trying to avoid bumping into the chandelier. My mom told me a story years ago that comes to mind every now and then. Supposedly the reason no one knew my grandmother's real age was because she didn't have a birth certificate. Reason being, was that when her mother died, her sister threw everything out in the backyard and burned it. I've always had a mental image of a bonfire with errant pieces of furniture in a pyre. I don't know exactly how true that story is or to what degree, but it wouldn't surprise me. I think about this often. Like today, for instance, I thought about that story about 5 times. Maybe more.

The den has been fairly barren for a month or so, but it's the first room you walk into and it has terrible light. I never considered it as a studio alternative, but after one week in the dining room chaos, I'm a convert. On the bright side, it's has a ledge around the perimeter so it's a natural for clamp lights. Problem solved. I keep telling myself it's only a winter studio. I can look into a gas forced furnace for the garage next year. I rolled my palette table out of the garage and around to the front door, and into it's new temporary winter home, the den studio. The den studio is classical 50's- built in bookcases, veneer paneled walls and a red linoleum floor. The palette table is my better half. It feels good to be reunited with it. The den has also been the lair of Otto for the last 8 years. Unfortunately because he eats anything that's not locked down and wrapped in steel, for his own safety, he will not have studio privileges when I am not around.

It was super wet, cold and rainy today. I ran when there was a break in the weather.
2 miles, @ roughly 11:00 a mile.

November 15, 2010


Yesterday was Sunday. I spent about 10 hours shooting adequate pictures, setting up paypal buttons, and I forgot what else. Maybe some housekeeping, but mostly computer work for my alter ego. I had my afternoon espresso and went for a run around 3pm and worked some more. It was a productive day, though I had planned on slacking off.

Today I met another artist for coffee at a place called Crema. Hands down, one of the best capps I've ever had. The brew's a little earthy, which normally I'm not into, but they make it work. Afterward I stopped by my local, slightly overpriced, but cheaper than driving 20 miles RT to Jerry's- art store, to pick up some more gessobord.

Later, more wallpaper removal. I'm almost finished with one large wall. I was going to cart a large chair in need of upholstering up to the attic and discovered I had left the lights on up there. I'm guessing the attic has been illuminated for about a week. Two ancient bulbs had finally burnt out in the interim. The chair was too cumbersome and I was too tired to wrangle it, so I replaced the bulbs with compact flo's and called it quits on housework.

Earlier, I received a return call from the fraud division of the USPS. It seems an Allen Z. Wright has decided to use my address for some of his mail. I rec'd the title of his car last week. I called the DMV thinking it might have been a major typo, but then I received a letter from the post office. Mr Wright had now decided to forward his mail from my address. The fraud division said there's not much I can do other than do a return to sender. A couple of weeks ago I rec'd a call from a detective in Northern California. Seems a guy from Lighting Van Lines, the movers I hired last spring, had in his possession my credit card number, my name, address, and a list of all my worldly possessions. So you can see why I'm a little suspicious of Mr. Wright trying to squat on my address. I don't think these two events are related, but I am a tad concerned.

Finally I stepped in the atelier and observed M.T.A.v. at work. I am in awe of his ability to crank on the miniature paintings without getting hung up on overworking them. Maybe I used to be like that years ago, but not to this end. He's doing portraits now. There's a chance he may be a better painter than me. Hey, as long as one of us is working, it's all good.

It's cold and gray here. I made cornbread. Tomorrow's a running day. 

November 13, 2010

Well yes, after 25 years, I suppose in a nutshell, that's what's I do.

The post title referred to an anecdote I have since deleted. I sometimes forget that just because civilians ask questions that I consider astounding, it doesn't mean I need to rat them out to the world at large. It was a good anecdote too.

Today is a wallpaper removal day, although it is gorgeous out, so it may be a wallpaper removal night. I will also be jpegging my pretty little paintings and offering them up for sale at Smaller Works later in the day tomorrow. I like them. They're reminding me of my painting a day project I did a few years ago. I have completed 16 so far, experimenting with different surfaces. I think for this particular project, I'll end up sticking with gessoboard, but I'm not sure.

Today is a running day.
Distance: 1.46 miles
Pace: 10:58
I shaved 20 seconds off my time. At first this surprised me, but I cramped up at the end, so yes, I think I may have pushed a little harder today.  

November 12, 2010

Presenting the atelier of Sir M. Thackston Addie, visionary painter.

I went to the art supply store and busted my piggy bank buying some Montana spray paints that were on sale (impulse purchase) along with tiny canvases, panels, and boards. Goal: Make some Cash and Carry paintings this holiday season. I loathe trying to make something with my, let's make something sellable and affordable, cap on. Art shouldn't be about trying to figure out what someone else will buy and for how much. So there I was trying to make blithe little paintings that someone might want to stuff in a stocking and I'm getting more and more anti-paint all the time until finally I'm like, screw it, I don't want to make little holiday paintings; I hate little holiday paintings; I'd rather poke my eye out than make little holiday paintings, and furthermore, I don't even know how to make nice holiday paintings. I am going to make a limited edition of crappy little ugly paintings that make me feel good and sell them for $50 until December 31st, and maybe someone with refined taste for the inexplicably confounding will get lucky this holiday season.
The atelier of M. Thackston Addie, b. Atlanta, Georgia, 1691. 
Sir M. Thackston Addie championed good crap over palatable crap, as seen here in a rare studio daguerreotype. 

November 11, 2010

Still waiting

No painting or wallpaper updates today.

I'm on day 3 of running after a couple few months years of not running. There are hills around here and my timing is nowhere near what it used to be. So far I have had 2 days in a row with an 11:19 minute mile. Not exactly Navy Seal material. Back in 2005, I came in 3rd in my age group for a 5K. My pace was 9:13. Still no Navy Seal, but I was okay with that. I wish I had saved my medal. I could use some motivation, but apparently packing a race medal was one item too many so I ditched it.  Kudos to my playlist, "Let's move and pack ourfucking stuff" for providing great tunes to run by. It was also my playlist for packing and moving last spring, hence the name.

And speaking of country music, I just got back from the taping of the CMA Country Music Christmas Special. I saw Sugarland, Brad Paisley, Sheryl Crow and a few others perform Christmas music. My neighbor invited me. Her son was one of the Santa Clauses running around while Kelly Pickler sang "Santa Baby." I am so Nashville now. 

Tomorrow: full on studio day. Need to buy some small canvases 1st thing in the morning. 

November 08, 2010


I ran today for the first time in forever. I'm agitated about some business stuff. For the record, here's the flowchart: Make Painting > Sell Painting > Get Paid > Pay Bills > Make Paintings >

When there's a snag in the first three steps of this process, I tend to obsess, sometimes more than others depending on where the snag is and the nature of the snag. That's why it's called a flowchart after all. Hence, running was a good outlet today. Also, after 5 months, I am terribly remiss in applying for my health insurance here, and though I am not in danger of tipping the scales, I haven't been very good with exercise. Something about filling out a health insurance app was a good motivator as well.  Shortly after I first arrived, I bought a package of 10 classes at a yoga studio. For some reason I felt like the awkward 6-year-old I used to be when I took ballet and inadvertently let my class package expire. The difference now would be that I don't hide under the dashboard of the car and scream about not wanting to go to ballet class.

Still working on the wallpaper strip-down. Arduous. I'm also toying with the idea of making some nice abstract paintings that are more universally pleasing to people in universes other than the one in which I reside most of the time. Every time I do something which is against my very nature, I end up learning something and surprising myself, so who knows?

This might not look like a hill, but since I'm just getting back to running after a long hiatus, it is. I believe it's roughly a 30' increase in elevation from the bottom to the top of the hill. I walked it in order to be kind to my knees.
And this might not look like a tree a 49-year old grown woman would be tempted to climb, but it is, and no, I didn't. 

November 06, 2010

Letter from a Starving Artist. Read it and weep.

I came across this gem from 1983. I was in college at U.T. After getting bum advice from my high school career counselor who steered me into the education department so that I could get a degree teaching art, I finally made it to the studio arts department. Meanwhile, I had used up all my electives drinking and studying Emerson and Thoreau and fantasizing about Walden. There was also the ROTC class in riflery, in which I was told I was a good shot and would I consider being a recruit. By the time I took my first painting class, I had theoretically been enrolled in college for 4 years. I crammed all my painting classes into my last two years of college and worked day and night in the painting studio. I'm surprised my parents didn't burn these letters.

Oh, and just for the record, about 2 years later, I did get a job working as a window dresser for a department store chain. One day when I'm feeling brave, I'll post my skill bank and plethora of part-time jobs I've had in the past.  

November 04, 2010

I am funny and I don't even try.

Behold, the mesmerizing video of me stripping wallpaper. The video ended when the camera ran out of memory. I strip wallpaper, just like I paint. If you have 7 minutes to kill, watch it. The money shot is at the end, but you have to watch the whole video in real time for the payoff. I can easily call this art because it's almost identical to the videos I did in grad school. Sometimes I miss making video. 

Someone asked for any words of wisdom I had on being full-time working artist. I haven't had a chance to respond thoughtfully. Mostly I sit around and pretend I'm a full-time artist. So far, so good. 

Today's going to be a great day: the dog didn't pee on the floor last night

I love him. I do. And I promised my mom I'd take care of him, so we are stuck with each other, but Otto is not without some serious faults. If he were a person, I'm certain he'd be some backwoods yahoo in an X-file episode or a devious circus performer. Mom trained him as a pup and even gave him a refresher course, but at 8 years old, he should be able to hold it until morning, especially when he hangs outside for two hours prior to bedtime, and even more especially when we go on a short stroll right before lights out. I was so suburban last night it was pathetic. I walked the dog wearing my pajamas. To complete the look, I had a towel wrapped around my freshly shampooed hair and in my free hand, I held the mail I finally retrieved from the mailbox. It was 10:30 pm.

I have a love hate relationship with scale. I wish to obsess about my personal relationship to scale. The subject of viewing distance has triggered this obsession- Carla posted a lovely review of her work where at the end, the reviewer mentioned wishing her paintings were bigger so they could be more thoroughly enjoyed at viewing distance, not just up close. I once had a gallerist say they wanted to see my work much bigger than the 48" x 60" scale I was working in. I also have memories of grad school crits listening to everyone talk about each other's work. There were always a few "what ifs" at nearly all the crits: What if the sculpture was HUGE? What if you made 100 of them? What if you painted the background blue, moved the object in the foreground to the left, and retitled it?

Viewing distance.
Ever since working small, I have been disappointed by installation views of the paintings.  And by installation views, we're talking about views of the work that give the viewer an impression of what it was like to see the work installed, as though they were there in person, which usually they weren't, so it's all they're going to get.

Fortunately, the next photo helps clarify relative viewing distance:

At one point I thought painting a portion of the gallery wall a different color, or perhaps the whole wall, would give definition to the space. I discovered this phenomenon while looking at the work in my living room/viewing studio with the red wall and 8-foot ceiling height. In person, and up close, one looks at the paintings, not the wall. The first impression is taken in, but, and perhaps I speak for myself, I'll scan a show and pick what to cozy up to, big or small. I jump around, examining each work individually, based on what strikes me. That's how I look at work. If I'm particularly engaged in a show, I'll step back and look at the entire show again, this time assuming there might be some method to the madness in how the work is hung. In this viewing, I'll read the show, wall and all. If I'm so enthralled I can't stand it, I'll linger with certain paintings until I'm self-conscious and then I leave.

But I digress, the show seen at this distance in the first photograph above is hardly inspiring. For all practical purposes, we have small, dark indiscernible rectangles on the wall at viewing distance. (I hung the show myself and I wasn't 100% content with the back wall.) It's hung too horizontal, My other persona or perhaps a professional would have hung it a bit more vertical  to work with the wall, but that of course, would have defeated the purpose of being able to scrutinize the paintings individually. At the time, my goal was to create a sense of flow and narrative, not obsess over viewing distance. I'm not sure how to solve the problem of viewing distance with this work. I'm reluctant to say the problem is with the work itself, because, as much as I can be self-effacing and self-critical, as seen in this very paragraph where I rip my own show to pieces, I'm fairly confident the work is frigging stellar. Nonetheless, installation shots of this work are problematic for me.

In contrast, below we have nearly the same viewpoint from the 2008 show:

The Mabel-09 will hold a canvas up to 451/4" high. I hate forcing my own hand.

I'm trying to figure out how to compress a video shot with my still camera so that I may upload today's progress on the wallpaper. Will hopefully resolve that by tomorrow. 

November 02, 2010

Progress....It was all all day affair to get to this point.

I almost sold this at my yard sale. It's a nice little wire bookshelf, perfect for pulp fiction, but even more perfect for bins of oil paint. 

I started a second new painting today. 

I am messy. It didn't occur to me that I would accidentally splatter paint on the wall. How long have I been at this? Seriously. Did not even occur to me. Afterward, I shrink-wrapped the molding with Press n' Seal. 

Both sides. 

I put plastic over the shutters. They got hit too. 

I found some fake wood vinyl floor remnants at Home Depot. Just to be safe, I'll finish the rest off with cardboard or something. I drop-clothed the dining room table and pushed it to the side. It's a little weird to work in the house after working in either a garage or a loft for the last 24 years. I haven't warmed up to it yet. I feel like a renter with an imaginary, draconian landlord. Accidentally splattering paint on the wall was a step in the right direction. Take that, Superego. On the plus side, I have to walk through the studio every morning on my way to the kitchen, so the odds of me making some brushstrokes no matter what I feel like is pretty darn high. The winter studio is bare bones, suitable for the oil paint purist. No spray paints, very little mediums. 

The OMG, What Possessed Me to Strip the Wallpaper wall to the left of the windows. At approximately 12 sq feet per 3 hours, I should be finished by Christmas. The sideboard makes a good place for brushes and the table easel. It's also the perfect height for standing and working on something flat. And should I ever feel the urge to entertain, presto chango, I'll simply swap out the paint brushes for a tureen of vichyssoise and some tea sandwiches.  I thought to cover it BEFORE painting. Smart move, Fake Bazille. 

"Why, oh why did I start this?" OR "Hey, I just started a new room-size wall installation painting."

Glass half-empty.
Why, oh why did I start this:
It took me approx 2.5 hours to get to this point. Screw Dif gel. What a mess. From the looks of the floor you would have thought I had been carving wood. Fine shavings of what was once wallpaper lay at my feet. The old wallpaper(s) is/are quite beautiful though. I'm almost sorry I took it back to the plaster in some areas. My goal is to strip the whole room down to this stage, at which point I will decide if I need a solid studio wall or if I'll glaze over the remains. Silly me, I thought I would apply the wallpaper stripper and voilá, the paper would peel off in huge slabs just like in the illustration. 

Glass half-full.
Hey, I just started a new room-size wall installation painting:
As I was packing up the fancy decanters and other evidence of the high life, it occurred to me that I could paint some maroon stripes every 14 inches and have a new wallpaper. But let's not stop there, it also occurred to me I could distill some of the motifs and paint large facsimiles of those motifs on top of the wallpaper remains. At which point, this became the beginning of a 4-wall installation painting. 

October 31, 2010

It's Halloween.

I pretty much sifted through all the good candy (gummy mummies, kit-kats, reese's pieces and whoppers) all week so whoever comes 'round tonight gets stuck with the B-list. I try. I really do.

At this point it's safe to say I'm blogging to make myself accountable. Feel free to tune in or out.
Here were my slack-off Sunday plans:
Here's what I really did:
Scrubbed kitchen floor.
Scrubbed den floor.
Scrubbed most of the dining room floor.
Rearranged dining room in effort to make it into my winter studio  as opposed to the previously discussed living room studio. (The dining room gets MUCH better light than the living room, plus once I rip the wallpaper down, I will paint the walls walls. Oddly enough, ripping out wallpaper does rank as a priority on my todo list.)
Moved dining room furniture back in place.
Rearranged furniture in spare bedroom to accommodate one piece of unwanted dining room furniture and 3 chairs.
Moved easel from living room to dining room.
Moved Bazille chair from living room to dining room.
Tried to identify what I believe to be a 60 hz hum coming from center of house and attic. It's ever present, but I only notice it occasionally. I was obsessed with it today.
Brought oil paints inside.
Repainted old wooden bench thing where I keep my mobile paint bins.
Listed vintage camera gear on eBay.
Decided I am not the arts and crafts type after all and ditched Plan B for the time being.
I'm a tad freaked out at my need to scrub floors so frequently. It's not at all like me, but with rototiller dog, I don't have much of a choice.

I'm so thrilled with my new easel. Might I remind everyone I never used an easel until about 4 years ago. I've never painted an oil painting sitting in a chair either. How or why I've become so genteel in the studio is a mystery, but as seen here in two more paintings from The Birth of Impressionism Show at The Frist Center, those gents weren't pacing around slinging paint all willy nilly. And since I am in the process of reincarnating myself into a 19th c. painter, I, too, will sit at my easel this fall and winter. A gray wall. That's what I'll paint the studio wall.

A Studio in Batignolles Quarter by Henri Fantin-Latour. 1870.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Frédéric Bazille at His Easel. 1867
Dead Fowl. Will NOT be bringing dead fowl into the house, but I'm sure I can find a substitute around here. Dead plants, dead bugs. dead leaves, gimp furniture.

October 30, 2010

I am working, even though I do not know what I'm doing.

The two on the left and the last one on the right are in progress. The one of the far left has been in progress for a couple of months and has already transitioned through life as a pure abstraction referencing nothing, and life as a quasi- referential painting of a stump in the backyard. I had a good painting day on Thursday. I call these dejected abstractions. I trust at some point I will make large happy go lucky light and carefree work, when perhaps I am feeling largely happy lucky go light and free of care, but for now, I am enjoying the muted colors, solitary portraits, or otherwise clandestine meetings going on in this work. Did I mention I had a mouse in my studio? I saw him scamper across the floor and into the wall. This wall. The Wall of Progress. 
The Vexilologists
I don't know exactly where the flags come from but they sneak in every so often. I think of them as markers, a kind of triumphant declaration that I have been somewhere or conquered something, or perhaps they function as a sign that someone was there before me, maybe even me, in a previous incarnation. I finally will call the painting above finished, which means I will remove it from the working studio and place it in the living room viewing studio, which in all likelihood will become the winter working studio.

In progress, not yet titled.
I'm into slanted surfaces now where things could slip. I should post a better pic. I'll swap out later. Speaking of which, I also need to swap out my photos on flickr. They're too lo-res to share. 

I bet you thought I was kidding when I said I was going for the Bazille studio look. If only it worked. 

Note the Bazille studio chair. Fancy, eh? I sat in it the other day and stared at some paintings. Big news: I'd like to welcome my new easel, the Mabef M-09 to the indoor studio. It was on sale at my local Plaza art supply store. I just finished assembling it this evening while making cornbread from scratch in a cast iron skillet. I will now be able to work on small and medium size canvases when I am too much of a wimp to work in the freezing cold. I'm really happy I went with the M-09. I have the M-18 outside in the garage studio and the mast is too high for the ranch house ceilings. The M-09 clears the indoor ceiling by maybe inch. I still need to be careful. I am a big fan of Mabef. The movers bent one of my thumbscrews and Mabef sent over a new one from Italy, pronto. (It was the wrong one, but they're sending another one.) Mabef has a lifetime warranty on their easels and they're better priced than the competition. I should paint that red wall another more neutral color, but on my list of todo, it's just not that big of a deal for me. I need to paint-proof the floor though. I've become a neater painter now that I'm working small, but not that neat. Not that it matters, because for all practical purposes, I am invisible here, but that is another  story.

Oh, and about the movers. I rec'd a call from a detective up in Northern California and apparently one of the movers had my credit card number and my moving contract in his possession. I was not alone. The guy has been arrested on multiple counts of fraud. He was with Lighting Van Lines. It was a no-name van company located out of Northern California. The detective totally sounded like a detective, which ironically made me kind of suspicious. I imagined he was clean cut and wore a suit. He was pleasant though and gave me the task force website so I could double check everything.

Matt emailed me this Albert Oehlen painting from the Museum of Contemporary Art. He said it reminded him of me. Not the deer, I am assuming, but the style in which it is painted.