Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Without class

In the Lupines
Original oil painting 14x18"
by Susan Roux

I'm preparing a body of work to be exhibited next summer. I know it sounds far off to be beginning so soon, but the inspiration is alive and current. I feel its the perfect time to dive right in.

The morning I left for Deer Isle, I received an email from my artist friend Sandy. She suggested I go visit Peter at Blue Hill Bay Gallery, located directly in the picturesque town of Blue Hill, Maine. She is represented there and thought Peter might be interested in my art.

Talk about a last minute rush to pack a few finished paintings, grab frames, hardware and tools. No time left to put anything together. We were just about to leave. Running out the door, I remembered to print out a resume only to find it wasn't updated for 2010... Change some dates, pop in resume paper and hit print. In ten minutes, I managed to somewhat prepare for a gallery visit. Phew!

I was hoping to finish some magnificent work on location to totally impress him, but that didn't turn out to be the case. All my works were unfinished and the lupines were fading daily. By Thursday afternoon, I decided to give Peter a call.

This is never the way to approach a gallery, yet here I was doing it...

I like to project an image of class. Unfortunately Peter never saw it. His gallery was closing for the day in two hours and I was thirty minutes away. Throw some unfinished paintings in the car, hair all a mess and still in my painting clothes from a morning at work, yet I was off to Blue Hill.

I can't emphasize enough how it helps to know someone currently in a gallery. I did not enter the gallery with my best work. Luckily he could see through the plein air struggle and saw something he liked. Something that held promise. He delighted that I was so interested in the lupines. To my great surprise, he's taking me on.

We decided it would be best to plan for next year rather than try to rush a body of work instantly. And so here it is. My inspiration to paint lupines and the rocky coast of the Blue Hill Peninsula including Deer Isle and perhaps Acadia is front and foremost at the moment. Posted, In the Lupines, is my first finished painting for next years exhibit.

In the Lupines/detail

Yesterday, after my early morning lupine painting session with fog, I returned to my studio to finish the painting I'd started on the island, in the lupine patch. (They're purple. How can I resist?)

Hope you're immersing yourself in what nature has to offer. Its so beautiful...

(Happy Anniversary Honey!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Foggy Lupines

Work in progress
Original oil painting 12x16"
by Susan Roux

Like Susan Brown, I awoke early to the sound of birds singing. Unlike her serenading sparrows with accompanying robins, I was sharply crackled by the resident ravens. I looked out the window. There was distant fog in the trees. It reminded me of a few mornings on Deer Isle. I'm still floating on island time and the simple sight of the haze sent my spirit right back there.

Never a bad thing...

All I could think of was the lupines in the distant fog. I could picture them so clearly. There would be no more sleeping. My mind was off in a hurry. Excitement started to bubble. In minutes, I slipped out of bed, eager to paint. I set my easel outside. My thought was to paint the fog from life, but add the lupines from memory. Just as I was beginning to open my first tube of paint, I heard one of my cats crying.

A bit of investigation and the continued escalating cry for help, led me to a tree at the edge of the woods. The cry came from above the leaves. Which cat was it? I have three. I couldn't see her. The foliage is thick and the tree, very tall.

I called. She cried. It repeated over and over.

Finally I caught sight of her. It was my white, five-month-old kitten, Star. There doesn't exist a ladder in my entire neighborhood that could reach her. I woke my two sons to come help. We pruned branches and called to her to come down. She was crying out of control. Such a feeling of helplessness. My neck hurt from looking straight up the tree for so long. Still she wouldn't come down.

Finally she decided to try. She made it down to a high fork. We were all calling her in unison to continue downward. The ravens were no longer crackling.

It was us now.

Suddenly Chris, my neighbor, appeared with coffee in hand. Oh no, did I wake you? It was just after five in the morning... Luckily she was on her porch drinking her first cup, when she heard us crackling.

Star came down. She was back to playing soon after getting a good dose of much needed snuggles.

Time to start painting. Nothing like a stressful debut to your creative time. The cats bounced around my easel. Fear forgotten, they were happy I was joining them outdoors at this early hour. I took a deep breath, calmed and started to paint.

The painting is not finished. Maybe it will turn out to be a study for a larger piece. I'm not accustomed to painting from my imagination, so I felt like I was adjusting the composition as I went along. Mud was developing. The foreground lupines still need to be toned down and I'd like to create a more interesting pattern for the distant lupines. I'll see where it leads me...

So what do I call this? Foggy Lupines or Cat in the Distant Tree?


Sunday, June 27, 2010

The island

There was magic on Deer Isle.

I thought I was going to Blue Hill to paint the lupines for a week. Blue Hill is both a peninsula and a town on the peninsula. The lovely home I rented was off the tip of the peninsula, on Deer Isle. Little did I know, once on the island, you don't leave...

There's no need to. No desire to.

The quiet charming beauty grows stronger on you as the days go by. By midweek, we were all contemplating buying a house here. The island had a magic pull and it caught us, full force. The people. The ways of the island. The magnificent flowers. The amazing coastline. The incredible light.

Yet another artists' paradise...

A slowed down pace was the heartbeat of the island. Karen, Chris and I set our easels up in the lupines. Literally.

It was on Ken's property. We never asked permission to be there, though there was a phone number posted on a tiny sign. The lupines had cast a spell on us and we simply couldn't resist jumping right in.

It wasn't long before a red truck pulled up. Was it Ken? The three of us were giggling as the man parked. Would he kick us out? What would he say? We were after-all, in his yard.

It was Denis. He said Ken would arrive soon. No, not a problem that we're there. Just the opposite, in fact. It was seen as a great compliment to have artists on your property! Lucky us. They even took a series of photographs. The three nutty ladies... painting in their lupines.

We returned to the lovely spot on the cove for several days. Over and over, several times a day, Denis stopped by to chat. Didn't he need to be at work? The daily pace here on the island was reminiscent of that of Ireland. People, free and happy to stop and talk with you. Like they had nothing else to do that day... How I'd love to figure out how to live that way! It really makes me wonder why we spend so much time rushing around. Could it really be unnecessary? These people seemed to think so.

Smiles beamed from the local's faces. There was a great sense of excitement in the air that folks had come to visit them and their precious island. They were genuinely happy to greet their tourists. Wow. That doesn't happen everywhere...

We were very productive during our stay. I have many paintings started and will be working to complete them soon. Karen Choquet has her first exhibit, a solo exhibit at that, scheduled to hang on Thursday. She too will be putting finishing touches on her new works soon!

Its been a great week...

Thanks for stopping by. You're visit is much appreciated.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Unusual comment...

Roaring Twenties
Original oil painting 30x10"
by Susan Roux

Martine-Alison flew out of Boston last night, returning to France. Contrary to my earlier post, our visit was wonderful!

While here, a local newspaper published a press release I'd sent them, announcing her visit. These two paintings posted were published alongside the front page article.

Floraison Gourmande Agrandie
Original oil painting 20x20"
by Martine-Alison

She was surprised and happy to see her work in a United States paper. Friends and neighbors brought copies so we'd both have several to keep. It isn't every day that our work can be published together, so it was exciting and made for a great souvenir.

Last night I returned home from a few days in Boston, where together, we took advantage of the sights, including the Museum of Fine Arts. I wished Martine-Alison could have still been here when I opened my mail.

There I found a large envelope address to both of us! It was sent by a stranger living nearby, in West Poland. What joy it was to open this surprise envelope. Enclosed was a copy of the press release along with this:

Bill Eldridge did a copy of our work from the faded images printed in the newspaper! Mike and I laughed and giggled all night at receiving such an unusual comment! Thank you Bill. I don't know who you are, but rest assured I will soon find out and thank you personally. I'm happy we inspired you to re-do our paintings. I like the added Portland Headlight in the background and the way you integrated both our works. It was a perfect gift to arrive to when returning without my already missed friend.

Don't you just love surprises?

When people take time to go out of their way for someone else, it makes my heart smile. Bill, you made my heart smile... Again, thank you.

PS: I leave Saturday for a week of painting in Blue Hill, Maine. See you afterwards with art to post... Have a great week!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Water Ballerina

Water Ballerina
Original oil painting 11x14"
by Susan Roux

I took Martine-Alison for a walk. From my home, we can easily walk to two different ponds, though the forest keeps them hidden. She brought her camera. It was a beautifully warm, sunny day and we took our time strolling, benefitting from the pleasures nature offers. Our senses enjoyed the many sights and sounds, from birds to frogs to packs of just-emerged dragonflies that danced around merrily and even landed on us as tiny hitchhikers.

It was a day of simple pleasures.

The beach was filled with mothers and toddlers. Older children were still at school. We sat for awhile watching the activity. Martine-Alison instantly focused on a darling girl swimming in a ballerina tutu. Captivated from the little girls movements, her camera pointed at no one else. She thought she was taking pictures for me to use, as she knows I adore painting children at the beach.

But that didn't totally turn out to be the reality...

Once home, she decided to paint her too. We've always wanted to paint the same person together. Now we had the chance.

To make this happen, during our quickly diminishing visit, she had to deviate from her normal process. Typically she paints her 20x20" canvases with brushes smaller than my signing brush. Can you believe it? Smaller than a signing brush..?

It takes her nearly a month to complete one, though she paints day-in day-out. It was obvious we needed to speed up her process.

I passed her a cluster of larger brushes. At a half-inch wide, they seemed enormous to her! I laughed. She wanted to attempt my method. "Teach me," she said. (like she needs teaching...) So, bravely abandoning her comfort, Martine-Alison played with paint on a canvas whose finish is much rougher than her own. She's never painted so quickly!

Water Ballerina
Original oil painting 14x11"
by Martine-Alison

Four artists gathered here to have a painting party. It was the perfect activity for a rainy day. Svetlana Beattie saw what we were painting and she too decided to paint the little girl. Music was turned on. Of course it was Luka Bloom... Such a wonderful serenader for the activity of painting. Our bodies swayed like our brushes to his magical, dreamy music. The artists all said it was the best music to paint to.

It created a mood. An energy in the room. Suddenly Svetlana asked, in her strong Russian accent, if Luka just said, ballerina?

Oh yes, I replied. Ballerina, just like we're painting. Its my favorite song, Water Ballerina.

Water Ballerina? Its exactly what we're painting! she remarked.

Oh yes it was. And there suddenly, came the title to all of our paintings...

Water Ballerina
Original oil painting 14x11"
by Svetlana Beattie

I told Svetlana how I bumped into Luka while strolling castle grounds in Ireland. Our encounter amazed her. His spirit was circling in the room, affecting how we painted. She said I must write to Luka to thank him for his inspiration. So Luka, if you're listening, I just want you to know how wonderfully inspiring your music is. Its the perfect accompaniment for painting. You continue to chant me away to my glorious painting-zone...

We have three artists versions of a sweet little swimmer. They are as different as the artists are. One impressionistic, one an experiment and one that I'm finally happy with.

Too bad the child's mother will never know her daughter is artistically-captured for all eternity. Three times..!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Martine-Alison arrives

Susan Roux and Martine-Alison

Martine-Alison arrived in New England from France on Thursday. Ever since, we've had a terrible time. Never a good moment!

I haven't ever been so miserable...

It poured every day and there wasn't a good drink to be found anywhere!

Hope you're all having as terrible a time as I am...