Sunday, May 3, 2015

May I Be Thankful For May !?


It is the merry month of May. It also is a month of celebration as spring really arrives in Maine and  it is the month we usually have the vet come to give our horses their yearly checkup and annual shots. BUT  May will always have a miriad of meanings for me... because it is STROKE AWARENESS month.    But I digress…read my blog entry of May 19th, 2008 that explains a lot. ....
"What May Means To Me Or Why I Blog" written  5/19/2008

"May has always been a special month for my family…spring is in full swing, my husband’s birthday falls in May and of course so does Mother’s Day. But this year [and every year now] May has taking on new meaning for us, as it is designated as Stroke Awareness Month. And we are very aware about stroke. Now.
On July 29th of 2006, my husband and I, along with my sister who was visiting from California, were all headed from our farm in Morrill, Maine to my eldest brother’s home in New Hampshire to celebrate his 70th birthday. It was a surprise party for him and for the first time in a long time, my siblings and I were going to be together to party and have a good time. We arrived on time and I got out of our car to greet everyone, feeling so happy to see us all together. My sister-in-law, Bev walked up to me and started talking …I could hear her, but I couldn't make out a word that she was saying. I didn’t feel right, but was busy looking around at everybody when I realized I couldn't see my right hand or arm and I couldn’t figure out where they were…and I was still trying to understand Bev. She sounded like a slow broken record and her words were all jumbled to me. I looked around for my husband Les, and when I saw him I asked, “Where’s my arm? And he said “By your side? What’s the matter?” Then I guess everyone saw something was wrong with me. I remember them helping me into the shade of a huge tree on the grounds and helping to lay me down on the ground. I looked up at everyone… I didn’t know what was happening. I couldn’t really talk and tell them what I felt and a sea of faces looked down on me. But through it all a strange feeling of calm and peacefulness filled my being and I knew it would be all right.
I was suffering a stroke.
 I missed my brother’s 70th. To make a long story short…I was rushed to a hospital in N.H. and then was transported by ambulance to Portland, Maine, and admitted into Maine Medical Center. This was done in order that I should be closer to my family and doctors. Tests were started. The left side of my brain had been ‘attacked’ when the blood flow was interrupted or stopped due to a blood clot. A significant part of my left temporal lobe was affected and this left me with right-sided paralysis and Aphasia. Aphasia is a condition where language problems make it difficult to talk the way I used to and makes writing very difficult for me. Something that was so important to me in my life [I have worked as a newspaper reporter and fashion editor in the past…and wrote poetry.] .... was now something that was so difficult. My understanding and comprehension of speech were unimpaired, but speech itself became hard as my speech related muscles wouldn’t cooperate and my brain could not find the words to say what I wanted to. But what was more important to me, as I lay on the hospital bed with my family around me…could I draw??? I managed to get the nurse to understand what I wanted…. a pencil and paper. She brought them and everyone looked on as I sketched an eye, a horse head……….okay… I could live with the limitations I had a this point. I could draw, and this would mean I could paint. Life was good!!!
In the week that passed in between hospital tests, MRI’s and blood work, I sketched some, slept a lot, but I knew I needed to get home, to our quiet farm where I would be alone with my husband, see my Corgi and our horses, see and smell our gardens and get down to the business of getting better…. to getting ‘Kathi’ back!

This year and half that has passed has been difficult. Our horses became my therapy, as I brushed them while walking with a cane, my hand and arm gained strength. I cleaned stalls, needing the muck fork to help stand up with. Throwing hay and lifting shaving bags became my upper body strengthen exercises. I had a speech therapist come and work with me in our home, she helped me start to get over some the Aphasia problems…and an occupational therapist to help me get my hand coordination back. And I painted…and drew and I slept. I slept a lot. I still sleep during the day needing naps to replenish my energy.
I started a blog after my therapist suggested that I do it as an exercise to recapture my language skills. Each and every blog entry has my recovery in it. Metaphorically each of my paintings tells of my struggles and my victories...most in the form of equine art. But through it all, I knew that my attitude about what I was going through was more important to me that what had happened to me. My recovery depended on my attitude. I cannot control what happens to me in life, but I can control my attitude. And that is my life’s mantra now……….’if it’s gonna’s up to me.’

And I have also been blessed with a wonderful husband who has been beside me through it all. Les has been the wind beneath my wings. So in a nutshell….that is my story. Why I blog.. and the road leading up to the beginning of my blog. That is my story and I am sticking with it."

So we are here today 9 years since my stroke. I have had several TIAs [small mini strokes] since 2006. I still have Aphasia, though mild now , I do have trouble understanding and writing numbers. I can't stand noise and confusion. I have trouble writing and figuring out spelling of words, which can be very frustrating! I do have central pain syndrome , which has left me with pain on my right side , 24/7........Yet when I paint, I feel no pain....only afterwards. I feel blessed to have been given a "new birth" ...and everyday is a gift to be thankful for!  I was a professional artist before my stroke.....and I still am. I try to muddle through the business part of being an artist.........the painting part is 'a breeze". I want to thank all my friends and collectors of my work for their past and continued support of my art.... Your support fuels my passion.
Sometimes life throws us a curve's up to us to hit it out of the ball park!  
Carpe diem!  Who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spring Has Sprung..... With A New Painting

I have been in the studio a lot of late. I have been drawing and working a lot on tonal sketches. I feel I always need to be learning, and stretching my art.  I have also been stretching my hours in my day, as I work in the studio, the gardens, the barn and the house. And stretching my back , pulling weeds and raking the perennial garden as it awakens from its winter slumber.  I sleep well at night!
Spring is finally here in our part of the woods, and I have just finished a spring like painting of two chestnut horses in their field in its light spring colors before the green appears. They are busy horses foraging for any tiny blades of grass that might be poking through the warming ground. "Chestnuts Two " is a 12 x 12" casein on board. I have put it up on my website now.
If you haven't gone yet to see the River Art Gallery's latest exhibit I suggest that you head on down/over there and see "The Natural World". The show is wonderful with works from Maine artists from all over the state. I am one of the artists juried into the show. You won't be disappointed.  My painting "Ripe Arbor Grapes " is hanging there for your viewing pleasure. It looks much better in real life than the internet can display!!
In the meantime I will paint!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Back At The Old Farm, Old Memories, New Magazine Interview AND New Painting

 The family's stone farmhouse. 

With good intentions I have been promising to be better on posting my blog. And for lack of a really good excuse I keep putting it off. But we were away on a mini vacation where we attended a family wedding in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a detour to Brandywine country to Chadds Ford and the Brandywine Art Museum to see the current retrospective art show of Jamie Wyeth and a look see at Gettysburg’s battle fields and old barns. We also went to the old village of Harmony to see my family’s old homes and gravestones. Lots of old memories relived.  I admit that it also was an epicurean trip too, with much good food and fine wines and local brews to fortify us all throughout. The downside of the trip is that we came home with the flu, and now through the worst, we are still recuperating. Time lost.

Upon arriving home to Cob Cottage, I received the good news that my interview with Equestrian Culture magazine was on line and available for folks to read and see a lovely display of some of my work. I think they did a bang-up job of layout ….. and it pleased me no end to see my work beside, and compared to, my creative heroes, Lucy Kemp Welch, Sorolla and Munnings! Hope you can take a look at the article and I would love to get your feedback on it and my work. Thank you Equestrian Culture !!

I guess the only painting I have finished since my last blog post is a 12 x 9” casein on paper, titled “Inspiration”. I was playing with loose and suggested movement in this small painting. I think I nailed it. It is available on my website.

 "Inspiration"  , casein  12 x 9" ©2015

I am back….. back working in the studio, finally! I am working on a 16 x 16” Maine landscape…… I have so many paintings that need doing………..and all before the gardens awaken from their long [too long] winter nap. And then carriage driving begins again. Ah………..I love spring!!!! 

So You Want To Paint With Casein? My Latest Painting

" The Big Boys"  casein on claybord , 16 x 16' ©2015

I have been so often asked how to paint in casein. It is hard for me to explain how I love working in a media that so many find difficult to use. I have been working in casein since I started using it , along with tempera , years ago while living in Italy. I love tempera, but I am in love with casein and always have been. Both are opaque paints , casein a milk based paint.....and tempera an egg based paint. Both paints smell. But I love the smell of the casein emulsion......and the way it is works, for the way I paint. I work in small spirts of studio time. I work with glazes a lot, and can paint a layer  and let it dry and then come back and add another glaze, with the length of time left between glazes dictating how much of the previous layers will effect the newest layer.  I have done some workshops on to paint with casein....but my feeling is that if you are interested in a medium......then read all you can about it. Get some of it  and experiment with it.

I just finished the above casein painting of two handsome draft driving horses. The pair were working up at Acadia's Wildwood Stables last summer and are another in my works depicting the handsome horses pulling the carriages along the carriage roads of Acadia National Park. This painting is available on my website.

Mother Nature has be teasing us with some spring like weather. It felt so good after months [it seems] of being in the cold hard grasp of  winter and too much snow. Our snow is melting. There is hope.

Until it is gardening weather I will paint!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Time Gone With The Wind In Winter - More Paintings

"The Osprey"  casein on board     16 x 16"  Commission    ©2015

I can’t believe that it has been a month since I blogged last. My only excuse, and a very valid one, is that we have been inundated with snow and frigid weather that leaves me tired and taciturn….not very talkative. I have been painting some…not nearly as much and I wanted to this winter. I usually find more studio time in the winter months. This year has been different by all stretches of the imagination. Buried in snow, I have just been too tired to create, my muses are snow bound.
I did get asked to do a radio interview! I almost declined in invitation, but was convinced I could do it by my husband. So     I had a podcast radio interview with Driving Radio Show. It actually turned to be fun, and I was quickly put at ease by hosts Glenn and Wendy. Here is a link to the show….I am the first guest to be interviewed that day after the hosts chat for a while….so hang on for the interview. We talk about my art, my life, our horses, and even my studio helper Nell. You can listen at leisure on your iPhone, pad, laptop or whatever……. at this link:

I finished a commission for a client, of a Maine osprey and sticky nest. [See above.] In between storms I got it packaged and shipped out. It seems as if life this winter has been about getting things done between storms. So be it! This painting is 16 x 16” in casein on a panel. I enjoyed this size panel and have some new works in this size.

I also have completed a casein painting on paper, where I was sort of day dreaming about sun and warmth on a hot summer’s day. “One Summer’s Day” depicts a handsome gray in sun and little shadow.  A stretch when the temperature outside is below zero with a wind chill factor on top of that to numb your senses.

 "One Summer Day"  casein on paper,  12 x 9"  ©2015

YET I am enjoying the play of sun and shadows on the snow with amble chance to appreciate it on our sunny days. This prompted another painting of Nell, in the snow, casting her Jack Russell shadow on new fallen snow. It is a small work, 6 x 6”, done in oil and is available.

"Jack On Point"  oil on gallery wrapped canvas   6 x 6"  ©2015

So I paint…..I hope you take a listen to the radio interview. I find painting much easier than talking….so I paint.  
Listen to my radio interview.... and I would love to have some feedback, some comments to help me through my day!

Monday, February 9, 2015

The New Year Has Started Without Me It Seems

"A Lady And Her Horse"  , casein on Raymar board,  16 x 12" ©2015

The year started with me full of good intentions............ and then my muse was captured by the vision of a beautiful lady riding side saddle on a handsome gray PRE .....the proverbial white horse. I was hooked................

But now the January 2015 winter storm of ‘Historic Proportions ‘ has swirled around outside my studio walls. We readied the farm and cottage for high winds and epic snow amounts. What we had is a usual Nor’easter….! But better to be safe than sorry. We were safe. Our horses were safe in their cozy stalls munching hay,...........  and I even managed some studio time. I started a new casein equine painting.

I have also finished the casein above, done of a lovely lady riding sidesaddle, the image provided by the owner of the handsome Pre horse. The horse and his lady and the owner of the PRE all live in Italy. I really enjoyed doing another sidesaddle painting. I have done several in the past, but I never tire of portraying this classic equestrian discipline….. It is so sophisticated and ladylike. I have always wanted to learn to ride side saddle, but never did get around to doing it. Now, at this point in my life I will stick with driving. The painting “A Lady and Her Horse” is now up on my website and available unframed.

I have been doing some drawing too……and after receiving a box of beautiful blood oranges from a friend, I had to sit down and draw them before I ate them. I am doing a great job of eating them! I do want to paint some before they are all gone!
The snow still blows around our cottage, banking our outside walls with white.
I will continue painting!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My Art On National Magazine Cover - Driving Digest

I am so honored to see my painting "Going Under Seal Harbor Bridge - Acadia" featured on the latest issue of the DRIVING DIGEST magazine. This painting depicts our Morgan pair on the carriage roads of Acadia. I always love seeing this bridge when we are driving up there, as I consider it the keyhole to the door that opens on the wonderful experience of the miles of carriage roads that Acadia National Park has to be enjoyed by equestrians. I firmly believe THIS is the way to see the interior of the park.....better than walking  or riding a bike. No cars allowed! I never tire of painting this treasure.

I have been busy....working on two paintings at this point. Need to get back into some small original paintings, but that will have to wait for awhile. It has been bitter cold in Maine of late....but I guess Maine is not alone with this polar front that sits over the east. I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone in my misery.

So I paint in a chilly studio......brrrrrrrr.