Friday, April 22, 2016


change of season

Holy crackers it's a busy time.  My reading life occurs in fits and starts right now, around long days of painting and evenings of collapsing from tiredness after working outside all day.  A friend recently said to me, "Oh, I thought painting was just kind of..." and he made some relaxed, eyes-half-closed, slow-motion, arm-wavy movements.  I just looked at him.  And laughed a bit.  There is some of that, to be sure, but much more of it is like anything else.  You know, work.  Hard work!  Sometimes involving power tools (framing) and exercise (stretching canvases, lugging painting supplies to remote locations) and bookkeeping (self-employment tax, sales tax, paperwork about shows).  Even standing at an easel in my studio is sometimes difficult.  I mean, I painted a large painting recently, which took me three days - seven or eight hours each of the first two days and maybe five hours the third day.  Sustaining that level of close attention feels like doing yoga for that long might feel, or running a very slow marathon.  It's intense.  Sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe.

Does this sound like complaining?  I hope not.  Because painting is like food and water to me - I love it, it is so necessary to my well-being!  Kind of like reading, but not.  I think I'm trying to justify not having written here in a few weeks, even though I've wanted to.  Because I have read some splendid books, but my rate-of-reading has dwindled since spring truly arrived.  Wild horses couldn't keep me from painting outside on these first warm days of the year.  It has been both rocky and wonderful.  I am also getting ready for my upcoming solo painting show and that has been consuming.  I framed over seventy paintings.  And put together, with the help of a photographer and a designer, a small catalogue for my show.  My first venture into mass printing:  a small staple-bound booklet illustrating twenty-three paintings from my show, Postcards from Home.  500 copies.  They arrived this week from the printer, in two very heavy boxes.  I opened the boxes and there they were.  With my name on the front cover, and everything.  Like this:

Eeeek!  Most of these are destined for the gallery, to be sold during my show, and for some wonderful art lovers who have already purchased paintings from me, and also for friends and family and various other Persons of Interest.  During the past few days I've been mailing copies out, to all of the above (speaking of which, if anyone here would like to buy a copy, please email me for details - it's inexpensive and, being quite thin, won't take up much valuable bookshelf space, always a consideration).  More joyful work.  And more good news:  the painting on the cover has already sold, along with a few other paintings shown within.  And my show won't even open until June 3rd!  I just about cried, about all of that, to tell you the truth. 

I should be writing about this on my painting website blog, and I will soon, I'm sure, but I started writing here first because I really want to talk about books!  I meant to talk about books today, in fact, because I am reading the diaries of James Lees-Milne, I'm already well into volume three, and they are tremendous, and I do want to write about them at great length!  Not to mention a few other remarkable books that have come my way recently.  But the season beckons me, and spring is so fleeting, and so very sweet.  It's not a time for reading or writing the days away, tempting though those prospects always are.  Well, all I can say is that if we have a few rainy days in a row, I'll make the most of them, and meet you back here to talk books.  Until then...    

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