Sunday, November 1, 2015


So I am going to blog again.

This time it is about my MFA.  Yes.  I enrolled in a Master of Fine Arts Program this past summer.   I have been looking for a low residency MFA and one afternoon I heard an ad on my Public Radio Station.   "...Wilson College's new MFA for visual artists and choreographers."  What?   Visual Artists and Choreographers?

I emailed them.

I am a crazy person.

I commuted to a four week summer intensive and I loved it.   I was uncomfortable being a middle aged, chubby mom.    I got torn down.  I was humiliated by the professors.  We all were.  The six of us.  Three visual artists and three dancers.

I was put completely out of my comfort zone.  Most of our classes took place in the dance studio.  We started with body/mind centering or meditation.  We learned about performance, systems theory, abject art, uncanny art.

Then we were set loose in our studios.  We were told to drop the familiar materials and try something completely different.  I did.

I started sculpting.  I created things with spray foam insulation.  I made a giant ass.  I took silk and shredded it, dyed it, draped it, painted it.  I made tits and weird faces out of the spray foam.  I learned how to build armatures out of paper and cardboard.

At the end of the four week intensive, I was all about world domination.  I felt badass.

Now I am working independently with mentors which has been wonderful.  I am also taking an online art history/philosophy/criticism class which I do not like very much.  This class feels like an undergrad, theory heavy, lots of papers with emphasis on "correct formatting."   I got a B on my midterm for petty crap.    Really?  I am not an 18 year old undergrad.  I told the 30 something prof that and he got his panties in a wad.

He commented that he did not like the tone of my email.   I told him I was a practicing artist and a professional educator.  I also told him I was probably old enough to be his mother.  I told him I thought his comments were cynical and condescending.

Looks like a C is in my future.  Who cares?  I just need to pass.  

So I will soldier on.  I only have a few more weeks of the online class.  I have another one in the spring.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hungry Tulips

So my latest painting in progress.  It needs a few fixes.  I like to post these on here because I can see the glitches better.  Some of it is oil paint shine.  I also need to tweak that flower on the right.  I will also go over the darks in the back.  Some of the streaking is caused by glare, however.

So I'm in this Old Masters' Style Flower phase.  I am studying with a painter who studied at the Schuler School of Art in Baltimore.  She is very knowledgeable and a good friend.  She makes home made Maroger medium and her husband hand crafts weighted wooden palettes.  It is very old school but I am enjoying the process.  I find it very meditative.

I started this painting in March when I picked up a pot of Parrot Tulips at the garden center.  Their color and shape intrigued me.    Of course, they looked nothing like they did the following week so I used photos that I took.  I also borrowed some photos of leaves and buds.  The flower on the right is purely manufactured from my imagination so I will have to revisit it.  I have been using Monarch and Sable brushes, Maroger medium and Grumbacher Paint.  I'm thinking of just painting my mutant Rhubarb plant next. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Yellow Iris Painting

In my painting life, I've decided to slow down a bit.  Exhibiting became exhausting and I didn't feel that I was "growing" so much in my art.  I find that it is very easy to become focused on selling rather than investigating.  I did not like that and I do not like that about the art "scene".  At the Lancaster gallery I was required to produce several new paintings for each month I exhibted while trying to work full time and raise teenagers.  While I did sell a few paintings, I felt that the quality began to suffer as I tried to meet deadlines.  I enjoyed several invitational exhibits over the last few years and now I just want to focus on the painting process. 

I've considered pursuing my MFA through one of the many low-residency programs, but the cost and the committment seemed prohibitive.  So I enrolled in a low-cost oil painting class at our local York Art Association with an instructor who taught me watercolor painting almost twenty years ago.  Nancy Wiseman is a fine artist, trained in the classical old masters' style.  I was a bit hesitant as I have been known for my loose style, but thought, "I like Nancy, so what the heck?"

I came in to a room set up with the typical still life arrangements of fruits and pots. I confess that I felt underwhelmed, having painted many of these arrangements in college.  I took my spot among many middle aged women and began to paint.  I was almost immediately chastised by Nancy.  She is quite the regimented instructor and I have a lot of sloppy habits.  Eventually I caved and bought the paint and the brushes that she recommended.  I also bought a balanced hardwood palette, handcrafted by her husband and her hand-blended maroger medium.  I toyed with her fruits and pots but confess that I did not really like the process or products.   

Nancy however, would not let me quit that easily.  She called me at home to remind me to register for her classes.  On the third round of sessions I began painting Nancy's flowers.  She is a wonderful gardener and brought in irisis.  She also photographed the irises because they would not last through the completion of the painting.  I began with a purple iris.  I worked on a second purple iris over the summer in my own studio.   One class, I forgot my reference photo for the purple and started on the yellow.  This was my third, and only completed iris at this point. I absolutely loved painting this.  I learned so much about this delicate process.  It took almost the entire ten week session (3 hours a week) but I think I can say that I am finished with this one. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Where's the Hookah?

I think this guy should have a hookah up there on my tomato plant.  He certainly has the munchies. This is the dude who has been eating my zucchini flowers, my sunflowers and my tomato flowers.  I also removed found three of his buddies. The first I captured for observation.  He did not survive.   Two were covered with eggs.  I mistakenly thought they were Tomato Hornworm eggs and destroyed them.  Later I found out they were the eggs of a beneficial parasitic wasp that would have protected my garden.    Of course caterpillars would not be the ones laying eggs.  What was I thinking?


As I stand upon the precipice of this new phase in my life, I have been full of strange thoughts.  I'm dividing up the past into increments.

It occurred to me that come September, I will have known my husband for thirty years.  We started working together and then began dating.  We were both twenty-four.  

It was a time when I left one lifestyle to begin another.  It was a time when I consciously abandoned an oppressive religious belief system.   I had to forcibly remove my self from a repressive lifestyle to do this.  

It took months of planning and soul searching  and reading  and praying.  I knew I wanted this but after years of indoctrination I was finally able to break away.

It was probably the single most important decision in my life.

It just happened that I was being wooed by my husband to be at the same time.  It was not considered acceptable  for me to "date" someone outside of this particular church.

I consciously defied them.  I was empowered with a belief in my self that was beyond anything I could have imagined.    I found the power to become independent, go to college and become a partner in this relationship.  We moved to a different town , got married and got to know each other for seven years before having children.

Now my youngest child will be moving away to attend college.  The last 21 years have been a blur of band concerts, science fairs, parent/teacher conferences, school board meetings, road trips and you name its.  I've tried to maintain my artistic life despite everything.

I can't divide my life into halves, but thirds are seeming to make sense.  My first 23 years were turbulent and troubled.

I think I actually began my adult life at 24.

I will be 54 in September.  I have no idea how much longer I will be around but I  am anticipating this new phase, whether it's a third, or a quarter, or an eighth.  Life doesn't occur in smooth even increments.  I just know I'm looking forward to this adventure.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I think I want to blog again.  I have so much going on at the moment. My youngest daughter graduated and we will soon be empty-nesters.  I will be starting a new job in the fall teaching younger students.  I keep finding myself at this weird intersection in life.  Beginnings.  Endings.  The beginning of a my daughter's college experience.  The ending of my "job" as a parent.  (The full-time kids at home part). The ending of my existence as a high school art teacher.  The beginning of my life as an elementary art teacher.

It is the beginning of a new kind of life without kids around.  It is the beginning of a sort of freedom.  Husband and I can run around naked if we want.  We can make love without being self-conscious when the kids are awake.

I will have more time to paint.  We will have time to do things.  Fridays and Saturdays will not be filled with Football games and concerts.  No more band boosters meetings.

I would like to immerse myself in painting.  I'm thinking of going for my MFA.  I have lots of ideas.

I would like to "reopen" this blog perhaps as a place to record what happens next.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Still Hibernating

Will this winter ever end?  I have decided to stay in hibernation for another week or so.  This was the view of my little bird feeding station outside of my rear window today.  My school closed so I had no reason whatsoever to venture outside.  I prefer to "look" outside on days like this  Even the birds were hiding.

I did snap a photo of a downy woodpecker who was not eating, but hiding from the snow under this little arbor   There were at least one dozen red cardinals out in the back fence row a little later.

I found that the zoom on my phone was no worse than the one on my Canon DSLR (from the doorway at least).  I had no desire to get my toes wet.