Monday, July 25, 2011

Architectural Ghosts in the Catskills....

I spent my first TRUE vacation days (which means no little people and no family) on Perch Lake on the northern edge of the Catskill Mountains in Delaware County.  It is a 50 acre crater lake,  and at its deepest is 75'.  A friend of mine invited me to spend a few days in a lovely home 20' from the waters edge.

It was three peaceful days. No wireless, no cell phone reception. I had a land line which mean I was the one in control of whom I called and when. And that was a call or two to my husband to make sure all was ok with Alanna.  He was playing Mr. Grandpa.

It was one of the hottest weeks of the summer, but with the elevation and light breeze that constantly blew over the lake, I never felt the heat, and interestingly enough, I never had one hot flash. If I got warm, I  took a dip in the lake and floated around for a while on my noodle. If I felt like a workout, I did some swimming. When I felt inspired,  I drew and painted. When we were hungry, we made fabulous meals. When we were thirsty, we had plenty of grape juice.

I have two paintings in progress from my trip; one of an old boarded up house across the lake, drooping with rot and sadness, and another of an old metal trailer on the property.  I am fascinated with old abandoned houses, which is probably influenced by a hike that I did when I was five in 1962.

It is a day that I will never forget with my mom, dad, and younger brother. It was a 90+ degrees  and a two mile hike straight up Overlook Mountain was quite a feat for us piglets.  As we  reached our destination, the Overlook Mountain House, a huge terrifying storm broke. The lightning crashed around us and we had to take cover under the decaying porch.  I  remember watching the water cascade down the stairs like a Dali painting, and the rattlesnakes in the well.  Though it was somewhat terrifying, it was also fascinating. It was a Twilight Zone afternoon.

The house has long since burned down, leaving a concrete skeleton of what it once was. The image is burned into my mind, and somewhere in my piles of photos I have a photo of the hotel on that day, a day whose memories return every time I paint a building that has stories to tell.

Overlook Mountain is still a hike worth doing, even if the house is only a shell. The views from the fire tower are splendid, as are the views from inside the concrete foundations of the house.  An artist's and hikers paradise.

But watch out for rattlesnakes..they like to hang out on the rocks and sun themselves, and hide in wells.
Don't drink the water. There's snakes in the water.

Patti o

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Fog

I intended to be writing more, but I have to admit, I have been putting my energy into my granddaughter the past 10 days.  This is the third year that we take Alanna for two weeks in the summer, and indulge her in every experience that we possibly can.  I joke that her social life is better than mine, which means we move like twisters.

We swim a lot as we are graced to know many people with pools, a necessary respite on hot summer days when you don't have A/C.  We've also watched the first three Harry Potter movies, and just borrowed the next three from a friend. I am hoping that one of us will take her to see the last one in 3D before she goes.

I was not the perfect parent.  I loved my kids, but I was a stressed single mom who had no money, worked and went to  college to get my BS and MS so that I could have a good job with benefits to support my kids.  There price for that often took its toll in ways that make me wince.  Short tempered, always rushing through life, worrying about the next bill...unhappy in my station.  I look back on the person I was and feel like I don't know the past "me" anymore, so I stay in the present and enjoy my time now.

One of the joys of being a grandparent is that we have the wisdom to know what really matters 10 years from now.   And it helps that I learned how to love, and love as well as I can.

Alanna often goes to the studio with me to work on her own art projects when we are not swimming.
She has been building a fairy house out of a cardboard box and found objects in my studio.  I think this kind of project fosters creativity, problem solving, and magic happens..... I  have worked on a few things, one of them being finishing this painting I started in the spring.  It was hard to get the correct color; it is mostly shades of blue.  A bit Hopper-esque.  It is from a photo I took one very foggy morning along Abeel Street in Kingston on my way to work.  It was incredibly foggy and beautiful and I was lucky enough to get a photo.  I found a great frame to float it in for under 15.00, so that if I work in the same format I can switch the canvases out for various shows.

Hope you are all enjoying the summer....I for one, am delighted.


Friday, July 08, 2011

Paintings at Morse Museum

The Hudson Valley is rich in the arts.  One does not have to look far to find fabulous historic sites, or galleries with amazing art.  It is the BEST when a historic site and a local artist meet on a weekday night and have an opening.

Thursday afternoon I took a ride down Route 9W, past the monasteries and over the Hudson River to attend Jane Bloodgood Abrams opening "Earth, River, Sky" at Locust Grove, the Samuel B. Morse historical site.  Jane is a painter in the tradition of the Hudson River Artists, a genre of painting that I have studied over the years, a style which has been an inspiration in my own landscape painting.

Jane has a gift for creating a landscape that evokes many moods, and her work has an other-worldliness to it.  Her paintings and pastels take me to a place where if there is a God, I can feel him.

I am fortunate to own a small pastel painting by Jane of the Hudson River from Olana.  It was a gift from my husband to celebrate Christmas, a time when we were engaged, and as a tribute to where we were married. 

In addition to the gallery that presented Jane's art, the Morse gallery was open.  Morse was a Renaissance man; a leader, an inventor, an artist.  It was a fascinating journey into the past, and I shook my head in amazement as to the technological inventions of the late 19th century. However, during part of this journey he was supported by family money, and he  lived in a time where men left their wives and children behind with family to pursue their careers and seek financial security for their family.   I should have had such fortune!

The show runs through August 15th.  Visit the grounds, and make sure to stop in the gallery and gift shop.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Night of the Big Bang

It was a glorious weekend. Time with family and friends. Painting time.  The mood was great, even though one day was damp and rainy.

We took Alanna last night with a friend to go see the fireworks on the Walkway Over the Hudson, which is one of the areas most scenic and enjoyable walkways in the Hudson Valley.  Built in 1888 as a railroad bridge over the Hudson River, it was the longest truss span bridge in the world at the time, towering 212 feet over the water.  It has been restored and made into a 1.28 mile walkway, where pedestrians, cyclists, and wheelchairs can traverse from Highland to Poughkeepsie, with a view of the Catskills,  the Mid Hudson Bridge, and the river of course.

The fireworks were great;  the Poughkeepsie fireworks were set off from a barge on the river, strategically placed between both bridges.  Behind us, on the north side, just below the walkway, Highland had its own little round of fireworks. I felt like we were surround with magic, and in a 6 year olds eyes, it was splendid.

On the way home a truck was zooming up in the wrong lane (along with a few other cars) trying to get ahead of all the traffic, and force their way into the line nearer to the highway.  Larry had already let a car in and kept going, not letting this bossy truck in and the truck ended up driving right into us! I think this NJ driver thought he could bully his way in, misjudged us and his distance and ended up driving right into the CRV, popping its tire and causing some damage in the front end. Two hours and a tow truck to fix the tire, we were on our way home.  Talk about a frustrating end to a fabulous evening!  Fortunately, no one got hurt, the car is drivable for now, and we are hoping that this all gets fixed without costing us any more than aggravation.

As Alanna said this morning when she woke up: "Last night left a twister in my brain!"

Out of the mouths of babes.

Friday, July 01, 2011

New Zazzle Store

I finally got it together to design a mug and online printed greeting cards through Zazzle.  I had opened a Cafe Press Store, but found it difficult to navigate, so I popped over to Zazzle, which itself has been a challenge to learn, but there is a learning curve to any online site.  I have sold on eBay and Etsy for years and can breeze through listing/managing my items, but this site has the added challenge of making ones graphics work with the program and the product.

With the advent of NY passing the Marriage Equality Act, I decided that it was about time that I promote the card I had designed several years ago into products that fit the message.  I love greeting cards, but the mug was something I really wanted to make.  I am going to check out what else I may want to carry the design on, but will stop at items that I consider silly or unappealing to me. 

I need to do the female version of the card and mug, then order one of everything myself to see how the quality of the product is.  Once that is a go, I will have to figure out how to market my design so that others will BUY it. 

As artists,  many of us work hard at our jobs to keep the bills paid.  My vision is to be able to make money while I sleep so that I can keep my business afloat, heat in the studio for the winter, and maybe, just maybe have enough money to buy business insurance.  And what about that painting trip to Europe?