The adventure continues with the job that fell out of the sky for me last June, and it keeps getting more challenging. After working as a consultant with American Women Artists, managing at first their exhibition schedule and event planning, then taking on membership management at the end of last summer, my role with this national non-profit arts organization increased when I became their executive director this April.
With planning and managing two national exhibits this year, producing a show catalog, working on future exhibit scheduling, membership management, and a myriad of non-profit operational tasks and responsibilities, I am juggling as fast as I can, learning a lot and planning for the future. Already a fairly large membership organization (close to 700 members), AWA has great potential as it expands in its role as a non-profit supporting and promoting the work of women representational artists working today from all across the US and Canada.
In just 5 short weeks, I will head out to Cape Cod for a week to work AWA's 17th Annual Member Show & National Juried Competition Exhibition at the Addison Art Gallery in Orleans, MA, on exhibit from August 15-September 15. I'm excited about reconnecting with AWA members I met at last year's annual show in Texas, meeting many new AWA members, and working with one of my local art connections, as Erin Coe of the Hyde Collection will act as awards juror for AWA's national exhibit. Very exciting, very busy, very rewarding, and I hope to get a little beach time with my family as well, as they're coming along for the ride.
One Thing Leads to Another
As a result of posting about my last building portrait, and then after that post was shared on Facebook, I received a delightful commission to paint another beautiful and iconic building in Glens Falls, NY.
21 Bay was a pleasure to paint, from its small square stained glass windows to its intricately decorated friezes. The unique focus on just the entrance area highlights the features that make this building stand out.
21 Bay stood empty for quite some time before the current owners renovated and restored it, and now contains apartments on its upper floors and several businesses along the street side, another great example of grand old buildings re-purposed rather than wrecked, made useful, vital and glorious once again.
I used to paint in oils. But then I had kids and felt that it was too messy, too smelly, too toxic to have around while the boys were young. Watercolor became my dominant medium as it was none of the above and I could create small pieces in the short snippets of time I had available.
I hadn't painted an oil painting since 1997, but decided NOW was the time to try it again, so I ordered an easel since I no longer had one, opened up my oil paint box (ok, the paints are a little old, but they still work), and started painting a scene from the woods around my house. Today I worked on getting some movement and more value contrast in. Each time I work on it, I'm rediscovering what a joy it is to see the painting come together, as I add each layer.
I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy it as I messed around with it during my high school and college years and even into my early 20s. I had forgotten how hard it is to stop once things start rolling with the painting.
And just like reading and understanding a particular book at different stages of one's life, I'm bringing a different perspective to my oil painting, as the older me sees and comprehends various artistic elements much differently than the younger me had.
Painting in My Own Voice
Since I work in a variety of mediums (watercolor, pastel, acrylics, pen & ink, gouache, sometimes oils), I can't claim to be one thing or the other, not solely a watercolor artist or pastel artist or whatever. I call myself a visual artist, just to make things easier in a world that loves labels.
I don't want to paint like anyone else, but sometimes that happens regardless. However, when I work in my looser watercolor style embellished with pen & ink line work, or paint my tiny gouaches, or create a pastel painting with my slant stroke technique, I feel like I am painting in my own voice. I feel these are more my trademark pieces.
My newest work, Broken Falls, is an example of the loose watercolor with pen & ink line work I truly enjoy painting. It is one of several new pieces going into my solo show at North Country Art Center's City Hall Gallery in Glens Falls, NY this September.
Watercolor, the Blank Page & Life
I’m starting a couple of new watercolors, the first two of twelve new paintings I plan on having ready for an exhibit in September.
In my mind, I can conceive of how I want them to look, but I know once the painting starts and the watercolor starts to do its own magical thing, they will turn into something a little different than the imagined. I start with a solid drawing, which I then transfer to my blank stretched paper, and then I start painting. Just like it’s a good thing to go forth into your life with some sort of plan, I find it’s important for me to start with a good drawing, one that is drafted well, and follows compositional rules – it’s important to start with solid bones.
The beauty comes when the painting starts. Adding the color, fleshing out those compositional bones, taking on the challenges of the unpredictable that watercolor presents, gives the painting life. The painting becomes an organic amalgamation of vision, chance, and irony, resulting in what was meant to be, and what I’m meant to learn.
And that’s alright with me.