Binghamton July Fest 2013 — what a hoot!

The original art side of my booth
The original art side of my July Fest booth (not shown: cards, prints, and earrings). Photo thanks to Angela Cook.

It’s Wednesday, and I’m just now recovering from last weekend’s July Fest, the 51st year of Binghamton, New York’s downtown music, art, and community festival. What a hoot it was. Not a terribly profitable year for me or for many of those around me — though it was wonderfully so for a couple of my artist friends. But for many of us it’s as much a social and networking occasion as it is a sales venue. There were people from my high school class (FAR too long ago), Facebook friends I’d never actually met before, people who’d bought my work before, and many who hadn’t but loved it.
Artists in Action
“Artists in Action” booths on “Gorgeous” Washington Street – my booth was the third one down on the right. Photo thanks to Patti Schwartz
There were artist-friends and “neighbors” old and new who were both good company and mutually supportive. Dogs and children I adored and/or pitied. An appalling number of very fat people. Stressed-out but accommodating and helpful organizers (including Ron Sall, July Fest coordinator, who is every July Fest artist’s best friend).
Ron Sall (right, in orange shirt)
Ron Sall (right, in orange shirt) is the guy who pulls it all together. He well deserves the 2012 Heart of the Arts Award he received from the Broome County Arts Council! Photo thanks to Patti Schwartz.
The weather was hot, on Friday and Saturday, but brutal on Sunday. I had to leave early on Sunday anyway, due to a timing conflict with the Opening and Awards celebration of the Roberson Regional across the river, and although I hated abandoning my friends and the show, and disappointing Ron as well, I wouldn’t have been able to take the heat for much longer in any event. Thanks again to my volunteer “porters,” a lovely last-minute customer and two old dance friends who helped me haul all my stuff to the car, and of course to my sweet husband who leapt up at my last-minute phone call to come downtown and take my largest painting home separately so it wouldn’t get damaged. That large painting was Unlikely Dance: Entry Hall (visible at right in the photo at the top of the page), which got some rave reviews — including one from Marion Simpson, who is not known to give praise lightly, and another from Nancy Goff, whose own work I so admire. Pretty heady stuff!
Strollers on Court St.
Strollers on Court St. — the city closes three blocks of downtown Court St., plus a block each of cross streets Washington and State, for July Fest. Photo thanks to Patti Schwartz
It was altogether exhausting, and on Monday I was apparently still running on adrenaline when Mary Robertson and I met to re-do our storefront exhibit at 97 Court St. We were — almost literally — bouncing off the walls with laughter and fatigue.
On Tuesday afternoon I fell over for the rest of the day.

Next post on the Roberson Regional opening and show — a remarkable exhibit — but I’ll wait for that until next week, when I’ll have some photos to post.

My cards and earrings, now at Old Barn Hollow

GreenBoat Gallery at OBH
Find these designs and more, at Old Barn Hollow Local Food and Artisans Market

It’s my not-so-secret vice, my low-commitment art, and a personal pleasure: making earrings from scraps of vintage jewelry combined with new elements. Always popular at art shows, since selling in record numbers during Old Barn Hollow’s holiday gift sales my earrings have been requested by many — so now they’re back!

Visit Old Barn Hollow for the best in locally-grown and -produced whole foods, and gluten-free goodies and breads baked right there on the premises. And of course, while you’re there, take a look at my food-themed art cards as well as my earrings!

More art card designs are available at my Etsy shop, GreenBoat Gallery. If you’re local to the Greater Binghamton area, contact me through Etsy first, before ordering — I may be able to save you shipping/handling.

Blake+Robertson at Acme: the revival of one still life, and the start of a new one

Blake and Robertson, still lives at Acme
Blake and Robertson, still lives at Acme

At Johnson City Carousel Day in July I re-met Peggy Benz; she was handing out programs, and we realized we knew one another from long ago… finally nailed it down to the 1970s feminist health group we were both involved in. Some days later I got an email from her — she’s now waging a one-woman campaign to clean up “downtown” Johnson City. She’d seen the Nolan+Robertson+Henry+Blake storefront exhibit at 97 Court St. in Binghamton, and wondered if we’d like to do something similar in Johnson City. Hmmm. Despite my doubts, I contacted Rich, Richard, and Mary; Mary was enthusiastic. So Tuesday — in the midst of my struggles with a badly infected spider bite on my arm — Mary and I set up our show at Acme Cash Register, 238 Main St. in Johnson City. We both came equipped with easels and art, as well as my Craftsman-style 3-panel folding screen. Mary vacuumed the rug in the window (and subsequently the entire front office of the bustling family business) as I unloaded my car, then we cleaned the windows, Mary unloaded, and we started deploying easels and artwork in the lovely deep window.

Mary Robertson and I realized when we met each other two years ago that our still life subjects were eerily parallel, considering the fact that we did them with no knowledge of each other’s work. (We’d even had identical grey and white cats.) So this struck me as a fine theme for the exhibit.

Jug and Beanpot  - Glenda Blake
Jug and Beanpot – Glenda Blake – 16×20 in., oils on canvas – at

The human figure is my primary art interest, and lacking quite enough works for the window, I pulled out an old, partially failed still life from a class I took a year or so ago, re-composed it in Photoshop, and re-painted the bothersome bits. What a relief! All I needed was a concrete purpose for fixing it. I’m so happy now with Jug and Beanpot I hated to let it go.

I am an awful perfectionist when it comes to displays — and my sweetie took an awful tumble on the sidewalk, bringing the items I’d forgotten — but somehow we made it through, Mary and I with friendship intact and sweetie and I with marriage intact, despite his possible cracked rib from the fall. We think the window looks great, and so does Joan Sacco, the proprietor. The street traffic in JC may not be our constituency, but Acme has foot-traffic clentele from the restaurant, hotel, and academics sectors, so this could be a good thing. And it really does help beautify the old business district.

This effort took me back to the days when I designed retail windows, both for a full-time employer and as a freelancer. Fun. Rejuvenating. Next week I’m going to redesign the opposite window for Joan, with all their business items, as a thank-you for letting us use what is for now the art window. Really looking forward to it, and hoping we might be able to stay in the art window for a while.

Nolan+Robertson+Henry+Blake, v.2
+Henry+Blake, v.2

Meanwhile, we’ve done a change-out in the Binghamton window at 97 Court St., and I’m planning a showing of my “Feathered and Feline” series at “Window on the Arts,” in Windsor, NY, this coming Saturday.

Can I get a new still life done in time to take the place of Eddie and Blue Eggs,

Eddie and the Blue Eggs (Still Life with Cat)
Eddie and the Blue Eggs (Still Life with Cat) – at

in the Acme exhibit, so I can show “Eddie” in Windsor? Wait and see!

Wol is finished, and the Lost Dog show is hung

Finally finished Wol and the Stone Goddess yesterday, and got it framed in time to add it to my Feathered and Feline show, which I hung this morning in the Lost Dog Cafe.

Today proved to be a bit of a bad art karma day; when I got to the Lost Dog, there was already art on the walls, and complications ensued — which included my discovery of a broken piece of framing glass on one of my pieces. Delayed by the brouhaha and confusion, I hung the show as quickly as possible (whew — what a simple way to describe a LOT of work!), took the broken piece back home, re-framed it, and ran it — along with the missing tag for Wol — back to the Dog, only to find a jam-packed restaurant. I do hope Nicole was able to put the drawing and the tag in place when the crowd thinned out!

So here’s the finished Wol and the Stone Goddess. It’s also now available as prints from my Etsy shop — just click on the photo to go there.

Wol and the Stone Goddess
Wol and the Stone Goddess - colored pencil on painted hardboard, 24 x 24"

And here are some photos of the show in place, before the onslaught of diners. It’s such a popular place, and the people are so nice; I love showing here.

Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl: finished at last

It’s always so hard to know when a painting is finished.

Have I overworked it? Have I left it before I should have? If I ju-u-u-ust tweak this bit here… will I ruin it? Should I completely re-paint this passage that keeps nagging at me? If I’m holding my breath while I make “final adjustments,” does that mean I’m overdoing it? I don’t know. By the time I’m nearly finished I can hardly see the thing, but I can’t tear myself away.  I remember my New Hampshire mentor, June, hissing — as I ju-u-u-st tweaked the stained glass window  in Luna in Stairwell — “Get AWAY from that window! NOW!” No one was about to shoot me through the window <grin> — worse; I was about to overwork my painting. And this for the once-upon-a-time college student whose drawing professor told her she had to spend more time on things…

Be all that as it may, I’m declaring Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl finished.

Here are my last tweaks, yesterday and today.

Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage 4
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage 4: finally figured out what was going on with those books - thanks to my handy-dandy Color Isolator* - and greyed them down. *a 1.5 x 4" piece of white cardstock with a hole punched in it on one end
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - finis!
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - finis! Some reflections refined, a bit more grounding on the far left, some weight added to the right-hand cruet foot... I hearby declare this painting finished.

Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl: a long story about to be finished

Back in September 2011 (according to the dates on the photos I took) I started what was to be the first of a series of blue egg still lifes. My husband was bringing home these eggs from the Binghamton farmers’ market last year, and they are beautiful — the softest of blues ranging from aqua tint to a pale sky blue, natural to the breed of chicken that lays them. So I set up and photographed some arrangements of the eggs in natural light — after saving them in the fridge for at least a week, maybe more, thinking of a “live” still life — prepared three smallish 12 x 16″ canvases with an acrylic wash of cadmium red, and chose and cropped three of the photos, experimenting with various color saturation settings but otherwise leaving the photos unedited. As usual, I printed out versions with overlaid grids and without.

I like “gridding up” as a means of transferring compositions to final substrate, as it gives my hand freedom for happy accidents and surprises, but helps me retain basic proportions and layout.

So, I did the underpainting, blocked in the colors, then hung it on the studio wall to dry… and moved on to other things. Now I’m putting together art for my upcoming show, Feathered and Feline, and the egg pieces were a natural for inclusion. Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl has been hanging dormant all these months, so while I was letting Cat, Owl, Pussycat dry, yesterday I took Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl down off its nail, put it back on the easel, and made real progress. It’ll be ready to show in March. (I used one of the other egg compositions for Eddie and the Blue Eggs. What, you thought Eddie actually posed with the eggs…? <grin>)

Here’s my progress so far.

Blue Eggs, SilverBowl - stage 1: cad red underpainting
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage 1: cad red underpainting (oils on acrylic-tinted canvas)
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage2: initial color block-in
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage2: initial color block-in ...and there the work stopped, until now
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage 3
Blue Eggs, Silver Bowl - stage 3: the white speckles at center bottom are light relections, from a still-wet blue glaze I applied over eggs and bowl.