Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The Hills Are Alive
Two weekends ago, Pam and I went up to Williamstown MA to be a part of the 10 year anniversary celebration of The Harrison Gallery. I'm happy to have the honor of being the first artist that brought work into the gallery when they first opened their doors a decade ago. Jo Ellen Harrison and the entire staff have always been 100 percent in the game since day one.
Along with a couple other artists, I was asked to paint around Spring Street for the anniversary day which I gladly did. It turned out to be a scorcher of a sunny day with the temps hovering around 90 and I looked for a shady spot to set up shop. I've always been attracted to the Congregational Church on Route 2, just off of Spring Street on the Williams College Campus. The view of the church along with the Taconic Ridgeway in the background is stunning.
The 16"x20" painting became a battleground right from the opening bell. I scraped it and wiped it down to absolutely nothing after about one hour into it. It just wasn't working. In fact, it was just downright hideous. Pam was a good sport by nodding with approval when I started to scrape it. I think she said something to the affect of 'I was going to suggest that.'
The second attempt was going better or so I thought. I had people coming by admiring my painting but the light was changing, the day was warming up even more than I thought and something was just not feeling right. Pam walked down the street and brought us back a couple of gyros from Pappa Charlies along with huge bottles of ice cold water. We sat on a bench about twenty yards from my painting and I looked over at it from time to time. At this point it was not much more than a block-in. It's hard to take the time to eat when you are in the middle of making something happen, but I get low blood sugar if I don't eat or wait to long to eat, so I always make sure that I do. When your crashing from low blood sugar, painting feels about as foreign as a french film with no subtitles.
After lunch, I went at it again, but clearly there were changes that had to happen and some decisions to make that should have been thought about by now. I was clearly not in my normal painting rhythm and Pam was kind enough to agree with me on this.
Scrape here, wipe this, make this part of the dark pattern etc. My usual laid-back self was now rapidly turning into something else and I had to walk away from the painting for a little while. When I came back, I fixed some obvious things, brought the painting into a stage beyond a block-in and then called it an afternoon. There was an opening reception at the gallery in the evening that Pam and I needed to get ready for and I clearly needed a shower and wanted a short nap!
The reception was fantastic and extremely well attended. It was fun to see a show that had a few pieces of work from each artist that was represented by the gallery and it is always a pleasure to talk with collectors and other artists. It was a festive event with some great live music and some delicious goodies to eat, including an exceptional home-made chocolate cake!
After the opening, Pam and I went to eat at Coyote Flaco. We both felt like having great Mexican food and a big margarita. We ended up with a half pitcher. There was a musician who was going around to tables and playing flamenco guitar. He was exceptional and very funny. He asked me if I played and he let me play his beautiful flamenco guitar. It was made in 1960 in Barcelona Spain! It was a little bit of heaven to hold and to play. It was extremely light. I don't play Flamenco guitar but I finger picked some classical stuff that I sorta knew and it was fun. I got an applause from the diners in the restaurant. (The happy, 'marguarita-drinking' diners in the restaurant!) I have to admit, I had more fun with three minutes of playing that guitar, then I did painting for the entire day. Sometimes it is just how it goes. C'est la vie.
Or should I say ES LA VIDA!
Note: I'm happy to say that I did bring the painting home and fought with it in the studio for awhile. In the end, it did come together.
See the gallery newsletter and the painting here.