You’ve got mail

Hard to see how one can have a mailbox here. Where does it go?
Since my husband had already field-tested my router in Rochester, setting up my internet connection was basically plug-and-play.  That was a pleasant surprise for my overtired brain, which was expecting the usual scramble of crossed wires and endless holding for technical support.
The house is 125 years old, and the center of this bedroom floor has never been finished. I’m afraid I might break with tradition, though.
My New Year’s resolution was to unsubscribe from every email advertising list, and I kept it. Still, there were 444 messages in my inbox when I got back on line. Amid the detritus, I found this one about my workshop: “I’m interested in joining you in Maine but the form I have has your Rochester address on it and from following your blog I know you’re moving.  Where should I mail it?”
I always was a sucker for a cute wood stove.
This has me flummoxed. There is no mailbox at this house, and my pal from West Rockport told me she doesn’t have one, either. I’d just buy one and put it up, but there’s a sidewalk running along the curb. I can’t see any way a person in a mail truck can lean over far enough to shove the mail in a box. Nor am I keen on going into town every day to get my mail.
This morning’s project is to sort out the mailbox issue and to ponder a life where it’s easier to get email than physical mail.
My pizza-baking daughter is coming to visit later this month. I may not have my studio set up, but I’m ready for her!
This afternoon I head down the road to Olana for the annual New York Plein Air Painters retreat and a nice chin-wag with my pal Jamie Williams Grossman. That beats the heck out of setting up housekeeping any day. I know where my paints are. If I can find my clean clothes, I’m golden.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Addendum: The post office supervisor is going to check this out and then get back to me. In the meantime, they’re holding my mail for pickup. They couldn’t be nicer folks.

Gonna take a sentimental journey

We’ve had a lot of good times in this studio, including swing-dancing model Michelle Long.
I am frequently asked, “How do you feel about this move? Are you excited? Sad to leave?” I have loved the 21 years I’ve been in Rochester, but I’m ready to move on. Most of my thinking has been practical, not reflective.
Now my studio is dismantled, just a heap of boxes.
Except today.
I was packing my studio with my younger daughter when a Taylor Swift song started playing. If you’ve raised teenagers, you know they tend to play songs until they’re burned into your mind, and this one reminded me powerfully of her teen years. “I don’t want to leave,” I sniffed at her.
“Get real, Mom,” she said. “Of course you want to do this.” And she’s right, but I have had a lot of fun here.
The girl, making me cry.
On that note, I received a lovely note today from a student. I almost declined to take her because I didn’t feel I could accomplish much in the few weeks she had to work with me. And yet, she has turned out to be an amazing pupil and painter.

“I made a list of things I learned in your class,” she wrote. “This is not exhaustive, but some highlights.”
  • Charcoal is a wonderful sketching medium, great for roughing in tones, and very easy to rub out if you aren’t pleased with the results.
  • Don’t hold your paintbrush like a pencil, hold it out closer to the end and magic happens. (Okay, maybe not magic, but the results are much better.)
  • How to mix reds.
  • How to mix greens.
  • How to organize a palette.
  • All about easels.
  • How to fold a plastic bag.
  • Buy paints by pigments, not by their “lipstick” names.
  • Warm light, cool shadows or cool light, warm shadows.
  • Paired primaries—learn them and love them!
  • Don’t belly-up to your painting. Stand back. And sometimes, step back.
  • How to build a painting: establish a tone study on the canvas (using a mix of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna), then block in colors, and then develop them dark to light.
  • Be brave about putting marks on the canvas. And keep putting marks on canvas, or paper, or whatever.
No student every did more color exercises in my class than Matt Menzies. Matt, I’m throwing that big palette away today.

She learned all this in about 18 hours of instruction time.
Which brings me to my Maine workshop. If she could learn so much in just a few half-days, imagine what you can do in an intensive week of study. I have just a few openings left, and I strongly encourage you to register now.
Marilyn Feinberg, Kamillah Ramos and Zoe Clark, on a warm summer day painting at Irondequoit Bay. All three of them left Rochester before me.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

The Fine Art of Packing

Texting and falling into a fountain, 6X8, Carol L. Douglas. Artists can justify keeping anything as still life props.
Sometimes God likes to remind me that I’m not superhuman. Like this week, when my work has been limited by asthma. The combination of pollen, dust and exertion has pretty much done me in by early afternoon, and I’m about 20 boxes behind in my packing.
Every American family should pack once a decade. That way we would relentlessly cull our stuff. It would be nicer for our children when we die, for one thing.
Yes, all the weird stuff has to come with me. And much of it requires special handling in packing.
Every studio is full of odd and useful things. In my case, several plaster heads, one blue glass head, a Vaseline glass figurine, several compotes, and a glass bowl full of rocks from Maine. That last one has me baffled; I use those rocks for still lives, but I can’t really see moving them back to Maine.
Paintings and frames are a hassle to pack.
The fine art of packing consists entirely in tossing stuff out until your current house is empty and you fall in love with it again. I’m not a hoarder. I can be relentless with books, with clothes and with furnishings. But there’s still an awful lot of stuff here to go through, and time is slipping through my fingers.
Where there was once order, there are now… boxes.
Meanwhile, I remember what it’s like to paint. Really, I do.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.