Monthly Archives: April 2008

Below Burnt Rollway Dam and Wordsworth

This painting was done en plein air in Eagle River, Wisconsin, where we have a cabin in the woods, and finished in my studio later. At Burnt Rollway Dam there is a lock and a lift for boats and pontoons going up and down the Eagle River Chain of Lakes. I painted this at the canoe landing (left foreground). My husband is an avid Musky fisherman. Somehow we are going to combine plein-air painting and fishing this summer, most probably with an arrangement like this, where he leaves me on shore for a while.

Here is an excerpt from Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”:

…For I have learned
To look on nature…
And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts, a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods….

I too am a “lover of the meadows and the woods”, an inveterate hiker in the North Woods and in the hilly, pastoral landscape of Southwestern Wisconsin. I’ve been to Tintern Abbey too. Wales is gorgeous! The above lines will remind readers of the Bible, I think and hope, of Romans 1:20.
Burnt Rollway Dam, 9×12 on untempered masonite panel, Private Collection

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Vincent in Progress

This is a painting I’m currently working on, to be titled “Vincent and the Chocolate Brownie,” after Edna St. Vincent Millay — she went by Vincent, for short. Of all love poets, she is the one who resonates most with me because of her gallant and self-mocking spirit. The following sonnet well illustrates her pluck:

Let you not say of me when I am old,
In pretty worship of my withered hands
Forgetting who I am, and how the sands
Of such a life as mine run red and gold
Even to the ultimate sifting dust, “Behold,
Here walketh passionless age!” — for there expands
A curious superstition in these lands,
And by its leave some weightless tales are told.
In me no lenten wicks watch out the night;
I am the booth where Folly holds her fair;
Impious no less in ruin than in strength,
When I lie crumbled to the earth at length,
Let you not say, “Upon this reverend site
The righteous groaned and beat their breasts in prayer.”

I decided to post this painting at this point to show how I am employing Sgraffito (from Italian “graffiare”, to scratch) in order inscribe a sonnet on the cover of the journal lying beneath the biography, and the gold filigree design on the blue book to the right of the plate. I over-painted a pale pink ground on the journal, then scratched the lines of a sonnet into it. The yellow on the cover of the blue book will be over-painted with blue, then scratched through to the gold. At this point I have not done much work on the porcelain plate or the table cloth beneath the books. When I post the completed painting, I will also post the sonnet that is inscribed on the journal.

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Highland Cow

Had I been able to go for a hike around a loch instead of our local arboretum (See April 14 Post), I may have run across some Highland Cattle. These beasts are far shaggier than the mostly Holsteins and Brown Swiss of Southern Wisconsin. This Highland Hybrid is in fact owned by a family of Wisconsin friends though, and is pastured near a private lake. I gave her a ruined castle to look at, as her heritage befits. 5×7, Oil on Canvas Board, $120.00 USD

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My Scottish Teacup with Coffee

Here is a Daily Painting I did to refresh my eye. I am having difficulties with a larger painting of one of my favorite models reading, so to refocus on a different project for a while does me good, especially when I’m painting from life instead of a photograph. Again, the pleasant associations of china and tea lift my spirits. Afterward I go out to walk around the Pendarvis Arboretum here in Mineral Point, taking our dogs, Saxon (Yellow Lab) and Pippin (Pug) for a romp. Mineral Point is a lovely old town originally settled by Cornish Miners and built of the local limestone. It seams perfect to come back for hot, Yorkshire Tea and a tea biscuit from the local grocer’s. 5×7 on canvas, Sold

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Lemon Cake

“Lemon Cake” is one of my daily paintings. Looking at desserts and china give me instant pleasure and I plan to do more. They remind me of British tea shops with white tablecloths and the company of good friends. 5×7 on canvas, Sold

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In life, the worst disasters come from passion. Euripides

My original idea for a painting ofMedea was to have Bethany’s (see April 5 post) face reflected in the mirror as she sees the reflection of her husband, Jason, and his lover, Glauce, reflected in the glass of wine. I found, however, that the reflection in the mirror was so much smaller than the back of the model standing in front of it, that I decided I must have my model turn around and look backward in order to paint he face. I used the rather lurid lamp light to give it True Crime Story feel.

Medea is one of the strongest and most fearful women in Greek mythology. She is the betrayed wife of Greek hero, Jason. In the opening scene of Euripides play, the nurse to Medea’s and Jason’s children warns: “In truth the man that incurs her hate will have no easy task singing a song of triumph over her.”

In Medea’s own words, “Let no one think of me that I am humble or weak or passive; let them understand that I am of a different kind: dangerous to my enemies, loyal to my friends. To such a life, glory belongs.”

9×12 oil on untempered masonite panel, $300.00 USD

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Mostly Art and Some Literature

During the Fall (Studio) Art Tour (Mineral Point, WI), a colleague from work offered to model for me. I am interested in doing modern settings of Greek Myths and so cast about for a character she might portray. I’d already decided to cast her as Circe for another painting, but this specific day, an indoor setting was required. I hit upon Medea, the most dire and effective example of female jealousy I can think of, and, as it turned out, Bethany, who was trained as an actress, had actually played Medea on stage. The photo (right) was my first idea of a pose. Bethany has arresting aquamarine eyes and a physiognomy in which one can still see Native American ancestry.

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