I had a fabulous time doing this painting, knowing that there was a person waiting for the end product. (Other paintings can be seen here.)
It was exciting to hang the painting over my friend's sofa. It was wonderful to discover that you can see the painting as you walk up her driveway. It was delightful to hear Nancy say how much she is enjoying the painting.
That partly explains, I think, why I decided to take the plunge and submit three paintings to a juried art show sponsored by the Housatonic Valley Arts League here in Great Barrington, MA.
I chose two large canvases, and a small collaged painting. When it was time to drive the art over to the show location, it was raining torrents. I mean serious rain. We -- my husband and I -- wrapped the paintings in a sheet and then in a moving blanket.
After depositing the canvases, I felt happy. I wasn't expecting to get accepted, but I was glad that I was putting my art out into the world. Finally. After 16 years painting, I am now starting to think about how I might show and sell my work.
Today I got word that the judges chose two of the paintings to appear in the show. The first is called "Westerly," and it is three by four feet.
The second, smaller painting, is called "Patience." It reminds me of the work of Abstract Expressionist Clyfford Still, whose paintings appear in a Denver museum devoted exclusively to his work.
I can't imagine that the pieces will sell. But to me, today, it's enough to know that the paintings will hang for a month in town.
The organizers asked for a bio, and this is what I submitted:
I came to painting via my first novel, Dreaming Maples. The story features several women who are passionate about their art. I spent a lot of time doing research for the book at the Clark Art Museum. The novel is set in part in North Adams, MA, not far from the Clark. And the climactic scene in the book takes place at the Clark, beneath Renoir's "Blonde Bather."
The way I write fiction, I see every scene before I can write it. Many people say that when they read my books they feel as though they are watching a movie. So as I wrote, what I kept seeing were paintings. My journals from that period are filled with drawings and small paintings.
Two months after the book was published, in 2002, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease (lymphoma.) The chemo was ruthless. I could barely function. I wrote poetry to get me through. But I also started to wander around the house in a chemo-induced fog, cutting out pieces of paper and making colorful collages.
One week, when I was headed to Sloan Kettering, a dear friend who had an art store handed me a fistful of colored pencils and a small art pad. She picked a Black-eyed Susan growing outside the door and she told me that I should draw while waiting for my chemo at Sloan. I did. It helped so much. Art cured and healed my soul just as the chemo and radiation healed my body.
At some point during that summer of chemo, I painted my first large canvas. I remember standing beside our pond, surrounded by the green lush of summer. My painting: a hillside of fir trees against a beautiful blue sky. The painting was OK, but I quickly realized that I didn't have much talent as a realistic painter. So I started throwing paint on the canvas, the way Jackson Pollock used to. (My paintings have been compared to those of Joan Mitchell.)
I continued to paint outdoors beside the pond. Whenever a painting wasn't working, I would simply hose it down and start again. Over and over and over, I tried to let the PAINT AND THE DESIGN HAVE THEIR SAY. My goal always was to just STAY OUT OF THE WAY!
That was 2002. I have been throwing acrylic paint on canvas for 16 years. What have I learned? That painting is alive. More alive than writing. AS VIBRANT AS DIVINE LIGHT!
You write a story or a novel, and it is made of paper (or it's an ebook.) One sits on a bookshelf and the other resides in your iPad. Paintings on the other hand are lively and pulsing. The colors heat up your soul. When you are done, you can hang them, store them in the basement or give them to your kids and friends. I think of people who have my paintings and I smile at every one.