Cooperative Gallery 213 … and me!

Planning our show at Cooperative Gallery 213
Planning our show at Cooperative Gallery 213 (artwork © Kit Ashman)

I’m working my way slowly and happily into the role of exhibiting member in Cooperative Gallery 213 in Binghamton, NY — though I suppose that volunteering to pull together a compilation of identity standards for the gallery is not exactly slow; it’s quite a process. I’m afraid I’ve already accidentally stepped on some toes with that one, but hope to do a little less crashing about in the future. A cooperative comprises many different voices and opinions. SO looking forward to the beautiful new gallery website, soon to be made public by webmaster/figure painter Ken Weir.

Yesterday I did my first gallery sitting, with experienced member Barbara Bernstein, for the First Friday opening of a wonderful shared show by Karen Fedczuk and Alexandra Davis. Barbara is fine company as well as a fine artist, and she patiently answered all my newbie questions about how to open and close the gallery (banner, lights, food for First Fridays, etc.) and conduct sales. There was a block party outside, as well the normal First Friday jollity, so the joint was jumpin’ already when I left after my 3-6 p.m. sitting shift.

I’ve also already designed an ad for the gallery at the request of the PR committee, and am planning to take in some of my art cards for the Members’ Gallery section.
But most important, for now, are ongoing plans for our dual July show, The Body Electric / London & Beyond, with photographer Chuck Haupt (seen above, during our recent planning meeting)! I’ll be showing my new Les Poseurs series of nudes in oils, as well as some worked-into figure studies in colored pencil. Exciting!

I do love a deadline. How about you?

A fun group show opening, a gallery membership, and a new look

Unfinished underpainting for the first painting in an as-yet untitled series of nudes
Above: Unfinished underpainting for the first painting in an as-yet untitled series of nudes: oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in.

What a breath of fresh air — for me, anyway, and I hope for you: a new design for my website! It’s still not fully functional with all the capabilities of the new template, but it’s at least as functional as the last. All things in good time.

Cooperative Gallery 213, 213 State St., Binghamton NY
Cooperative Gallery 213, 213 State St., Binghamton NY

This week I got some good news, following my application and interview for exhibiting (full) membership at Cooperative Gallery 213 in Binghamton: I was accepted! I am SO looking forward to working with this group of serious and highly skilled artists to show our work in the heart of the Binghamton Arts District. Also eager to get involved in some of the public arts projects connected to the gallery, with friends old and new who are already members.

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My pieces in Members Only: clockwise from left, Unlikely Dance: Beethoven Oaks, Melusina. and The Grove
Still life by Linda Ciallelo
This wonderful still life by Linda Ciallelo is in the Windsor Whip Works members’ show. © 2015, Linda Ciallelo. Used with permission.

Last night, Sweetie and I went to the opening reception of the Members Only group show at Windsor Whip Works Art Center. It’s an unjuried show, so the quality varies widely, but there’s some stunning work there. (The show runs through March 1.) And it was a fun party — a full house, shoulder-to-shoulder, a really nice refreshment spread, and a really fun bunch of people, several of whom are my new colleagues at Cooperative 213.

So while a forecast major snow storm envelopes us over the next couple of days, I’ll be getting further into the first of a new series of paintings — top of this page — so far untitled. Looks like this will be a satisfyingly productive year for me; hope it is for you as well!

Solstice and the holidays coming ’round again

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We’re into the dark and dismal days of winter — particularly grey in my area of New York State — and I’m pining for the light.

Every year I go into conniptions about our Yuletide card — what medium? What subject? — and my sweetie has to remind me that it’s not of earth-shaking importance. This year I really wanted to do a nice holiday still life in oils, but managed to agonize about it for too long (with four separate compositions, none of which was QUITE perfect) and ended up doing this perfectly fine colored pencil piece of our front door.

In the meantime, my cards and earrings are once again for sale at Old Barn Hollow Market, but through missed communications I didn’t make it into Cooperative Gallery 213‘s holiday members’ show. Disappointing, for sure.

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GreenBoat Studio holiday cards, available at Old Barn Hollow Market.

However, I have just sent in my application materials for full exhibiting membership at Cooperative 213. Fingers crossed — I know there are some very fine artists out there who’d also like to join, and memberships are limited in number.

My latest painting course at Your Home Public Library ended on December 1, and the next one is scheduled to begin on Saturday, March 21. I know there are some who will be happy it’s moved to Saturdays, rather than Mondays, and I’m looking forward to it myself. This last group of students was just terrific — some very strong work came out of it — though I did feel bad for the student who felt she was in over her head, and dropped out. I hope she’ll try again — I’m rewriting my class plan again! (To get a place on the waiting list, contact YHPL.)

I still have my shopping to do (I know, I know) and a gift painting to finish. Oh, and after hosting 18 people for Thanksgiving, sweetie and I will be hosting 12 or so on Christmas day. If only Lydia the kitty doesn’t pull down the tree by then!

Wishing you the best of holidays, and a happy new year.

Now showing at the Lost Dog Cafe

Three Musicians -- oils on canvas, 16 x 20 in.
Three Musicians — oils on canvas, 16 x 20 in.

It’s been a couple of years since I last showed at the Lost Dog Cafe in Binghamton, NY. Although it’s awkward for people to look at the art when there are diners at the tables (and there are always diners at the tables in the Lost Dog!), it’s a lovely space, with three distinct exhibit areas, each with a nice hanging system. So this morning I parked my car full of art in front of their door, hauled my goods in, and set to work. This is the last time I’ll exhibit my Unlikely Dance series for a while, I think. But it looks wonderful in the Lost Dog space, as I knew it would, along with a couple of studies for the series and two new dance-themed pieces — The Grove and Three Musicians.

This First Friday night I’ll be in the Lost Dog Lounge holding forth at Meet the Artist (or so I imagine; this will be my very first Meet experience). And this month I’ll have a good excuse to have lunch and perhaps a dinner at the Dog — yummy!

I also have a few pieces in a November group show with the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier, at the Krembs Gallery, UHS/Binghamton General Hospital, not shown here.

 

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Another chance to paint with me…!

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Exploring Oil Painting

Mondays, November 3 through December 1

1-4:00 p.m.

Explore the fundamentals of oil painting in a fun and casual setting with artist/instructor Glenda Blake. Together we’ll paint from a still life in the classroom, learning as we go about composition, underpainting, light, shadow, and color. If you’ve always wanted to paint in oils, now is the time! If you have painting experience already, come to learn new techniques and gain confidence – there’s always something more to learn! Please bring a portable floor easel if you have one (available on loan from the instructor, if you don’t) and a work apron, and/or wear older clothing to paint in.  Classes will be held 5 Mondays, 1-4:00 p.m., November 3 through December 1.  There is a limit of 10 students per class.  A one-time $15 fee is required to cover supplies.  To sign up, stop by the circulation desk at Your Home Public Library, 107 Main Street, Johnson City, NY.

I love teaching this class — please join us if you can!

My work and words, featured in my favorite art supply catalog!

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Well, hot-diggety — my artwork and my endorsement are featured in the new 2014-2015 annual Blick Studio catalog! One of my other pieces was shown, without endorsement, in the Spring 2014 catalog supplement — not too shabby either — but this one’s quite a thrill. Featured is Unlikely Dance: Golden Clouds (30 x 48 in., oil on canvas), and yes, it WAS painted with Blick Oil Colors. I’ve always loved Blick — have dealt with them both personally and professionally for nearly forty years — but now more than ever! Looking forward to receiving it in the mail. (You can request one for yourself, here.)

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My painting Morris Dance: Half-Gyp (20 x 16 in., oil on canvas) was shown, without endorsement, in the framing and matting section of the Spring 2014 Blick Studio catalog supplement — not too shabby either!

Saga of an artist’s eyes

Drawing of the bubble in my eye, three days after surgery
Drawing of the bubble in my eye

It all started with my left eye, which for most of my life tracked upwards and to the left, relative to my right eye, and is also my dominant eye. Recently the misalignment became no longer manageable with prisms in my glasses lenses, and my optometrist feared that I was in danger of losing sight in my right eye as my brain ignored it in favor of the errant and dominant left. My husband knew someone to whom this had happened. Hence, the referral to a strabismus surgeon and subsequent muscle surgery on the left eye, and then the cataract surgery / lens implant in my right eye (by another specialist) to clear up the right eye’s vision.

But my right-eye vision didn’t appreciably clear up, and the eye began showing misalignment patterns it hadn’t before, while continuing to lose visual clarity. The surgeon who had done the strabismus surgery (call him Dr. S, for Strabismus) noticed this first, and said I had to get an MRI right away. I’m claustrophobic, and flew into a panic, so he changed it to a CT scan. Those results caused him great concern, and he insisted I see a neurologist. In turn, I insisted that I see the cataract surgeon (call him Dr. C, for Cataract) first, since he’d done the surgery on that eye. Dr. S’s office set up an appointment with a neurologist to follow my appointment with Dr. C.

The next week I saw Dr. C, who said that he’d received neither CT results nor communication from Dr. S. When C’s office finally got the results faxxed from S’s office, C said I didn’t need a neurologist — I needed a retina specialist. His office set up an appointment with a retina surgeon (call him Dr. R, for Retina), and I cancelled the neurologist appointment. Next I saw Dr. S again; he was upset that I hadn’t seen a neurologist, and said that Dr. C didn’t understand the issue — “you two have to TALK to each other,” I said — but he agreed that I did need Dr. R as well (“a wonderful surgeon.”). He dismissed my own theory that my brain was simply trying to recreate the former pattern of misalignment. Meanwhile, he pointed out, my right-eye vision was still in decline. S’s office made me an appointment with the first neurologist they could get me in to.

…who, as I soon found out, had really unfavorable reviews online. At wits’ end, I heeded my husband’s advice and contacted my GP (Dr. G, for General practitioner), asking for opinions and guidance. Everyone was supposed to be sending him exam and test results but of course they hadn’t. His office assistant immediately swung into action — got all of the test results for him to review, and set up an appointment for me with a neurologist to whom they refer. Dr. G didn’t see anything abnormal in the CT scan, but felt I should go ahead, see the neurologist and get an MRI, just to tie up the loose ends. I felt so relieved with a knowledgeable but neutral physician involved, someone who’s known me for years.

So I saw the neurologist (Dr. N, for Neurologist). His practice’s office seemed to be in a state of chaos. In contrast, the doctor himself was calm, authoritative, and informative. My husband and I were impressed with him, if not with the practice. After an extensive interview, health history, reflex checking, pin-pricks, and eye-tracking, he said that as far as he was concerned, there was nothing wrong with my brain — that it was just trying to replicate the former misalignment pattern. (Yes!) But he wanted an MRI just to be sure, and agreed that I was in danger of losing sight in the right eye. He issued orders for an open MRI machine, due to my claustrophobia.

Except that, when I got to the hospital radiology department a week later, Dr. N’s office hadn’t sent the order. After calling N’s office for more than an hour and leaving messages, the hospital got a verbal approval from one of the other neurologists in the practice… but not for the open MRI. I took a long and anxious look at the closed machine, discussed it with the radiologist, and made an appointment for the next weekday in the open MRI… by which time N’s office STILL hadn’t faxxed over the order. But the test was finally done in the open machine, and with a dose of Xanax it wasn’t too awful. Sort of like I’d imagine a Philip Glass concert, actually, but with loud percussion.

I haven’t heard from Dr. N’s office since that first consultation — neither the promised test results nor an appointment for a follow-up. Instead I got the “nothing wrong” results from Dr. S when I saw him next. His office had to call N’s office to get the results, of course. By then I’d seen Dr. R and was scheduled for surgery in Syracuse, 60 miles up the road.

So. After a two-week delay on Dr. R’s part, and rescheduling, one morning Sweetie and I headed up the highway at the crack of dawn.

The Syracuse hospital was wonderful, and the surgery went well. The car was parked for us at minimal cost. All the staff we encountered were cheerful, friendly, polite, helpful, and seemed very involved in their jobs. Everything was explained, all questions patiently answered. I was 15 minutes late into surgery, but was visited separately by Dr. R, by the anesthetist, and by the surgical nurse, before going to the OR. I suffered no pain or discomfort and they dealt cheerfully with my anxiety. (I babbled, I think.) It was “twilight” anesthesia, but I was given enough drugs to make it interesting rather than grisly, and throughout the hour-long surgery, someone held my hand. Gluten-free breakfast back in the hospital room followed my stint in Recovery. We left for home that afternoon, then returned to Syracuse the next day for an all’s-well post-op. My right-eye field of vision was was mostly filled by a large air bubble inside the eye, part of the post-operative healing process.

Each day since surgery the bubble has been smaller (if more annoying!), and my vision has become clearer. Today, ten days after surgery, the bubble is finally gone. Vision in that eye is still blurry and slightly distorted, but although Dr. R says it’ll be “months yet” before healing is complete and vision stabilized (and I can get a new, correct lens prescription!) it’s evident that my brain is once again using both eyes. I’m ready to drive again, I think, and most important, ready to paint again — and hoping for no more eye surgery!

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Many, many thanks to my loving and supportive husband, and parents, and to all the friends and family members who’ve followed my saga piece-by-piece on Facebook.

Arts festivals, classes, and commissions — oh my!

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Binghamton JulyFest has come and gone once again, and I’m seriously considering skipping it next year. It is So. Hot. It is So. Exhausting. (If they decide to move the “Artists in Action” section back to the shady courthouse lawn, from the brick oven of Washington Street, I’ll look on it more favorably.) It takes me almost a week to recover. It was fun, of course — not party-city with Mary Robertson & family, as I’d expected, but there was good company all around. I spoke to some lovely people, shrugged off the inevitable idiots (“Did you paint all these by hand yourself?”) for the most part, and made some sales — enough to pay for admission and a little more, though nowhere near what I made last year. That may have been partly due to skipping Sunday, however — violent thunderstorms were forecast and Ron Sall, the super-hospitable festival coordinator, told us we were free to go if we felt the need. I felt the need, as did many others. Of course the thunderstorms didn’t materialize until late afternoon. Of course. This coming Saturday is Johnson City Carousel Day.

The class list for my  Introduction to Oil Painting course, at Your Home Public Library in Johnson City, was filled more than a week before the class starts, due partly to the handouts I distributed at JulyFest, and also to the distribution of the class description to the FASST (Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier) membership, for which I’m mightily grateful — also, I presume, to the Library newsletter, events calendar, postings, and Facebook event.Intro to Oil Painging So looking forward to it (it starts a week from today) and a bit anxious — having to rein myself in so I don’t spend all my earnings on class materials I didn’t think to include in the initial price!

Meanwhile, I’m about ready to start on a commission — a piece ordered through the “Custom Order” function on Etsy. (See my shops at www.greenboat.etsy.com, and www.GreenBoatVintage.etsy.com .) I am so psyched about this painting. It started out vaguely enough, with a request for “a painting of a contra dance,” and I rather expected it to disappear when the client saw pricing and started answering hard questions… but that didn’t happen! She’s made a down-payment, signed a commission contract, and for the most part approved the initial composition sketch — some minor changes forthcoming by request — and I can’t wait to get started painting. It’s a very ambitions composition — will post progressives here and on my artist/designer Facebook page (click “Like Me on Facebook” in the right-hand column) — and a real challenge. You know how I love a challenge!

My eyes are still not working right and it looks like I’ll need to fit in retinal surgery sometime soon — and perhaps vision therapy to re-train my brain — but that will be as it will be. I just need to see better.

On with the show!

An emerging new process, and The Joy of Dancing

KwanYin and Chrysanthemums, 20x16 in., oils on canvas
KwanYin and Chrysanthemums, 20×16 in., oils on canvas

Two weeks and two days ago I had eye-muscle surgery. Nothing scarier for an artist than eye surgery, except maybe encroaching blindness. I’ve had this wonky left eye, which tracked upward and to the left of my right eye, since I was a kid. All along there were murmurings about the possibility of corrective surgery, but as time went on either the opthamologist was discouraging it or I was avoiding it. Prism arrangements in my glasses lenses brought the disparate images together, until recently. My optometrist encouraged me to see a specialist about the surgery — for real — because the maxxed-out prisms were no longer adequate to the task and he was concerned that my right eye would lose sight to the dominant and errant left. I’d already lost some depth perception, and had a growing cataract in the right eye. So I did it. Quite a do, and I’m still recovering. My eye is still not tracking quite properly all the time, but the surgeon said it would take six weeks to heal so I’m still hoping it’ll all straighten out. Meanwhile the cataract in the right eye has grown significantly in density, so that’s scheduled for surgery in May.

Hasn’t stopped me from painting, however — in fact, I’ve been quite productive. In my last post I talked about a paint-together still life session with Mary Robertson and Jan Wood (just before my surgery), and I’ve finished the painting I started that day, Kwan Yin and Chrysanthemums. Using a process new to me, I painted in semi-transparent glazes (mixed colors thinned with oil/resin medium) over my initial underpainting, saving the lightest lights and darkest darks for last. I love the result. So I started another — Henry and Rebecca — and have worked on a couple of earlier underpainted pieces, Demeter and Rebecca.

Demeter 04 -- almost finished!
Demeter 04 — almost finished!

 

Rebecca 03 -- progress!
Rebecca 03 — progress!

 

Henry and Rebecca 02 -- first color glazes
Henry and Rebecca 02 — first color glazes

These last two had given me problems due to my use of Turpenoid Natural for thinning the paint in the underpainting, but they did finally dry and I’m quite pleased with their progress. I’m close to finishing Demeter, thanks to a lovely paint-together session at Mary’s studio today.

This painting in transparent layers over a show-through underpainting has intrigued me for some time, and although I’d tried it before, to a limited extent, I’m finding it really freeing as an overall technique, That, plus saving the lightest lights and darkest darks for last — a lesson from John Singer Sargent — and I’m in a whole different ballfield than before: one I like a lot.

Meanwhile, my first long drive alone since surgery was the hundred-mile trip to Ithaca and back, to help take down the Joy of Dancing exhibit at the Tompkins County Public Library, where my Unlikely Dance series was the cornerstone. What a wonderful space, and wonderful show. My thanks once again to Sally Grubb, Scottish Country and contra dancer, exhibit coordinator at TCPL, and curator of this show. I got some photos before we disassembled it. A wonderful review of the show is here.