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Thursday, April 21, 2011

moving again (maybe the last time for a while?)

Yes, I'm moving again. This time I'm staying in the same state, the same area code, the same county, just shifting into the next town. I'm moving into my own house this time, which means I can put down some roots, plant a garden, choose paint colors, and plan on staying for a while. 

It's going to take some work to get the new studio into useable condition, so I'll be extending my hiatus from painting for another few weeks.  This whole packing and moving thing really takes a toll on me.

Below is a brief photoessay about moving that I put together for the Flickr group Utata. The project, based on the theme Where I Live, is beautifully presented in its entirety here.
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Moving Pictures

-moving pictures-
I'm moving.  Again.   I'm packing the same boxes I unpacked just over a year ago; each time I reassemble one I congratulate myself for saving it.  I try to match up the labels: “kitchen” with kitchen stuff, “office” with office stuff.  Funny how hard that can be, even though it's all the same stuff.  There's a growing pile of filled-up boxes in the corner, nicely balanced, neatly labeled.  I'm good at this, and it's nice to be good at something.  I have a plan in place and a timeline laid out, although I know it never goes that smoothly.  But my plans are my anchors now.  These lists take on weight as the rooms give it up; the things that hold me to my life tucked away, taped shut.  I have gravity packed in boxes. (Never mind the laws of physics; it's in there. I can feel it.)  I drift from room to room like a day-old helium balloon.  What plans?  I can go anywhere.  This is where I live.

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-wrapped in tissue-
I suppose I could give you coordinates to my apartment, here in this old house with its old floors and glass doorknobs in a tree-shaded neighborhood on the edge of a part of the city that many choose to avoid. Or should I send you to the house I am preparing to move into? You'll know it when you see it.  It's the 1925 bungalow on the street that bears my family's name, built by my grandfather and his brothers from a kit they ordered from Sears. Part of me is here; part of me is already there, with the painting and remodeling already done. Part of me is nine miles away at my mother's, the sprawling ranch house now swallowed by a suburb, the place where I grew up. Squint hard: do you see that sturdy little girl in the stars-and-stripes swimsuit? I know she's there, sunburned and barefoot, still exploring woods and fields that have long since yielded to houses.  I wrap her carefully in tissue and tuck her in among the rest of my things; I'll be bringing her along.  She'll like it in the new place.  This is where she lives.

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-not fragile at all-
This box is for glassware.  (And this box, and this one, and this one too.  I have a thing about glassware.)  Wipe each piece with a damp paper towel, swaddle it in newsprint, pack it away, but not before remembering its story, its life in my hands.  This vase from that non-air-conditioned junk shop on a hot, hot summer day.  Remember?  I stood on a high stool to reach it and the stool gave a loud crack, so I jumped down just as you threw up your arms to catch me and you hit me in the face.  I almost dropped the vase.  We choked on our laughter, hoping no one would notice (I think everyone noticed).  This cut crystal tumbler was my grandmother's and her grandmother's.  My brother and I drank milk from them on holidays when the grownups had wine.  Look how it catches and flashes and changes the light.  Yellow of  lamplight, blue of the tv.  I put it in a painting and it took me three days just to suggest that starburst design.  Salt cellar, serving bowl, decanter, carafe.  I wrap and pack, and let my memory fill the spaces left behind.

These are some of the prettier pieces of my life.  I'll take them with me when I go.  But even if I didn't, or couldn't, or they were lost along the way, they'd still be with me.  Cool glass, a hot day, dusty-sour junk shop smell, a flash of yellow, of blue.  The taste of milk.  This is where I live.
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-work in progress-
I saved all this packing paper, too.  I know, I know, incredible efficiency.  I'm a marvel, even to myself.  Hidden among the plain newsprint are newspapers from the last place I lived (about to become the next-to-last place I lived).  I shake out the folds of a sporting goods ad and  find myself back in the Deep South.  Guns for sale, pages of guns and camouflage.  Unless it's football season, “sports” in Louisiana means fishing rods and rifles.  I was glad to be there, and glad to come home.  This is home.   No, not this apartment I am emptying out, and not the house I am going to either.  Here.  All these things I remember, the places I've lived, the people I've forgotten.  All the state parks, restaurants, driveways, gardens, petting zoos, little trails through the woods behind the house.  Houses and apartments, cottages and trailers. By a lake, near an ocean, on a mountainside; alongside at least two rivers, a pond, and more than one muddy ditch. One ex-husband, two ex-partners, a few ex-lovers, a host of neighbors, acquaintances, friends.  My steadfast parents.  My son, who for eighteen years has been the only one to visit every place I've lived.  I fold the Louisiana sporting goods ad and put it back on the pile.  All this blank newsprint like pages of a book, written in invisible ink.  I'm the only one who can read it.  This is where I live.
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All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ballad of the Seemingly Endless Shawl

Crochet is a new obsession for me.  I've been an on-again, off-again (mostly off-again) knitter for years, but I confess that I've  looked down my nose a bit at crochet, the poor stepsister of the fiber world.  No longer.  I'm hooked (pun intended).

So I decided it's time to do a big crochet project.  I spent about 48 solid hours poring over patterns on Ravelry and finally purchased a wonderful pattern for a shawl.  A shawl.  How lovely, how summery.  The word conjures for me a cool lake breeze, rustling leaves, a willowy maiden draped in delicate lace.  Now, I will never ever be a willowy maiden, but I can certainly drape myself in delicate lace.  Or perhaps heartier lace, in a silky Pima cotton, with a repeating pattern of leaves.  Perfect.  So I bought some silky shiny Pima cotton, and I crocheted.  And crocheted.  And crocheted.

This is what it looked like after the first day:  


This is what it looked like after the sixth day:



I was delighted.  As the leafy lace flowed from my fingers, I could feel summer billowing around me.  The sunshine, the green grass, the breezy, shaded porch.  I was the queen of shawls, the mistress of crochet.  I couldn't put the thing down, and so it grew.  And grew.

I had to go buy yarn because I'd used far more than I had thought I would need.  I bought not one but two extra skeins, just to be safe.  The Seemingly Endless Shawl sucked them in and just kept growing.  I  kept crocheting.  My fingers flew.  The pattern flowed.  It was glorious.

And then it was done.  I hefted it in my arms (nearly two pounds of silky shiny Pima cotton), went to the mirror, slung it stylishly around my none-too-willowy frame.  It hung there like so much tangled string, nearly dragging on the floor, folds and layers obscuring my beautiful leafy lace.  I am five feet tall; I looked like I was wearing a bedspread.  The summer breeze stopped blowing.  The sun slipped behind the clouds.  The willowy maiden vanished; it was just me on a chilly April afternoon, rain turning to snow turning to rain.

So I did what I had to do.  I ripped it out.  Row upon row upon row, unraveled.  The yarn--all squiggly now-- wound back into balls.  I ripped out seven and a half of the eight skeins I had used.  The Seemingly Endless Shawl, once the approximate size of a city block, was reduced to a sad little triangular dishcloth.  I went all the way back to row 20.  Row 20 is the row where the directions said to skip ahead to row 40 if one were using heavier yarn.  I was using heavier yarn, but I had chosen to overlook that suggestion; I wanted to include every lacy leaf.  How could twenty rows make a difference?  I wanted it to be big, as big as the summer sky!  But that was the problem.  It was as big as the summer sky.  I set aside my queenly excess and began my shawl again.

I'm still working on it.  The weather is still miserable.  The yarn, though squiggly, is still silky and shiny.  The pattern is still leafy, lacy and beautiful.  I'm a loyal person; I am still in love.

I will post photos when the new, improved Seemingly Endless Shawl finally comes to an end.

It will be divine.



All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

and just one more pear

Finished this a couple of weeks ago but somehow never blogged it.   I think it's my favorite thus far.  The reflections posed quite a challenge, as I was working from a photo reference that really didn't show them.  (I know, I know, a real artiste works from life....but I work slowly and have no desire at this point to do paintings of rotting fruit.  I never claimed to be a real artiste anyhow.)

Pear with Ribbon 2, 10 x 8 inches, soft pastel on paper. Available.

Here's a little diptych of the two pear/ribbon pieces that I made to post on Flickr.  Aren't they sweet together?  I think they're calling out for a third.


There is more painting going on, despite the lack of posts.  The painting has slowed because there is also crocheting happening at the moment (a very beautiful shawl which I will soon be sharing in its own post).  And because I am preparing to move, and because my mother had knee replacement surgery on Friday.   Oh, and I took a week off so I could have bronchitis again.  Mom is doing great, but the move is looming large.   I'll keep you posted.  I have big plans.

All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My love affair with pears

It just goes on and on.  I love those plump curves, and all that personality!

Kettle with Pear, 17 x 10 inches.  SOLD

Pear with Ribbon, 10 x 8 inches.  SOLD


All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Guess it's about time...

It's been a month since I posted so I guess it's about time for a flurry of posts.  No, NOT a flurry of snow, thank you very much.  The snow is all melted here (except for a few grimy persistent plow piles), and spring bulbs have started to come up for air.  We made it!

I've been painting (happy dance, happy dance, yes I've been painting!).  I think I am finally recovered from the frantic prep for my February show--a story I won't share, but I assure you it was a nightmare wonderful learning experience. I've put the trauma behind me and gotten back to the easel.

So here's the first one.  If you follow me on Facebook, you've already seen it, but not everyone has a FB account (it's true!) so I have to post it here too.

Looking Up, 24 x 24 inches, soft pastel on paper.  SOLD

A friend of mine is wholly responsible for this piece (well, except for the painting part, which was all done by me).  He insisted that he really loved this angle and I should do whatever I had to do to correct the camera distortion (this baby was warped!) and make it into a painting.  I decided to give it a try, and after about two weeks and fifteen attempts, I came up with a workable drawing.  After that, the painting was pretty easy.

There is a funny and charming story (I have a funny and charming life--just ask me!) about how I got the reference images for this and the other paintings in my stained glass series.  You can read all about it in this post and this post.

More tomorrow.  I promised a flurry and a flurry we shall have!

All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sunny and 55 Degrees!!

 
Yes, that is green grass you're seeing, through my wide-open studio window (added a pic for proof)!  We're having a little taste of Spring, right here right now and smack in the middle of February. Now if I could only figure out how to format these Blogger posts and put the pics where I want them...but I don't have time for that today.  I should be painting, but no way...I AM GOING OUTSIDE!! (It's supposed to be back down into the 20s tomorrow; I can't waste a minute.)






All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Moo!


Yes!  New Moo cards!  I go through these little beauties like crazy (they are stuck to the refrigerators of half the households in town at this point, LOL), so I ordered a pack featuring a few of my newer pieces.  They're so beautiful!  The photo does not do them justice.

(For those who haven't seen them before, Moo cards are beautiful business cards from Moo.com.  My contact info is printed on the back, white text on black.  You can see my first batch of Moo cards here.)


All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Friday, February 11, 2011

setups setups and more setups

I really don't like doing setups.  It's the worst part of the painting process.  Well, that and prepping the paper, but I don't have any paper-prepping photos to share right now, so I won't entertain you with that process.  (Yet.) 

I really have been busy, although I have no paintings to show for it.  (Yet.)  Here is a small sampling of the images I've been shooting as references.  There are pages and pages more, but I think this gives you an idea.  This is not my usual standard for photography--my reference images are shot quite differently than photos intended to stand on their own.  I don't actually want high quality in my reference photos, because I use my mind and eye to fill in the gaps and bring it to life.  If I worked from beautiful sharp photos, I might be too tempted to just duplicate the photo instead of making a painting.  I'm not a copyist--but because I tend to be a perfectionist, I must protect myself from temptation!
I'm starting to feel pretty good about where I'm going in developing new subjects and series.  I still have a number of paintings to add to past series, but right now I'm focusing on fresh material.  It's time to start filling my studio walls with new work!






All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hyacinth Jar still life painting

Hyacinth Jar, 15 x 13 inches.  SOLD
I painted this piece in the darkest days of winter, but it seems I was thinking of Spring.  Although it must have been a subconscious association, because I chose to paint this subject for reasons unrelated to its Spring-y-ness.  This one came right after my three big stained glass paintings, and I just needed a change.  It wasn't about the flowers, it was about the alternating dark and light of the composition, and most especially about the soft edges in the glass.  I don't usually paint glass with soft edges, so painting this was a treat. 

All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

yippee, banner is fixed!

No thanks to Blogger, but my banner is fixedI ended up uploading it to ImageShack, then linking from there.  The Blogger help forum is filled with posts from people experiencing the same problem.  Don't know if the powers that be have fixed the actual issue, but as long as I have a workaround, I'm happy :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

bad, bad Blogger.com!!

I uploaded a new, improved title banner for my beautiful blog, and it uploaded all blurry and pixelated.  So I went to the Blogger help forum and found I am not the only one with this problem.  I was able to link to a nice clear banner from Photobucket, but Blogger displays it at the wrong size--it doesn't span the width of the page--and cannot be resized.  I've tried everything. I'll just have to wait until Blogger gets this straightened out.  So frustrating after all the work I've done over the past few days to make this thing *perfect*!

red tea and white wine

Two more pieces for the February show; beverages this time.  Red tea in blue willoware on an Oriental rug (I love that straight-down perspective, especially in a square), and white wine in my mother's beautiful crystal, glowing golden by candlelight.  'Red Tea' may be the most fun I've had doing a painting; it just flowed from my fingers, and I was surprised to find it finished all at once!  The cut crystal tumbler, lower right in 'Wineglasses,' may have been the most difficult passage in all the pieces for this show.  I struggled to depict that elegant cut glass, with its colorful reflections and sharply angled highlights, while keeping the look painterly and the edges not-too-aggressive.  I'm pleased with the result, but will certainly be trying again (and again) until I fully understand.

Red Tea, 12 x 12 inches, available through The Harrison Gallery.

Wineglasses, 16.5 x 11 inches, available through The Harrison Gallery.

All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

beloved fruit

I can't prepare for a show without making a couple of paintings of fruit.  I love painting fruit, especially apples and pears.  Most especially pears (but don't tell the apples).  I also love working in a square format.  There's something deeply satisfying about a square.

Two Pears, 13 x 13 inches    SOLD


Apple, 12 x 12 inches, available through The Harrison Gallery.

All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

companion pieces

Pitcher with Apple,  10 x 8 inches.   Available through The Harrison Gallery.

Pitcher with Apple 2,  10 x 8 inches.   Available through The Harrison Gallery.
Two small pieces I did as a pair for my upcoming show at The Harrison Gallery. The antique pitchers are from my mother's collection. My mom has some gorgeous, gorgoeus pieces....and I have open access to them, yet I don't have to dust! Perfect. My son tells me he prefers red apples to yellow (in paintings, as well as for eating), but I like the yellow/blue palette in these pieces. Unfortunately, they were difficult to photograph, so these are not very good images.

All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

stained glass

These pieces will be among those featured in my solo show, opening February 5, at The Harrison Gallery in Williamstown, MA.  The show will hang until the end of the month.

Chalice, 24 x 24 inches, available at The Harrison Gallery

Two Shakers, 22 x 20 inches, available at The Harrison Gallery
The reference images for both of these pieces were shot at the Crossroads Country Mall in Lima, NY (see my previous post for more information).  Mike and I made a trip specifically to shoot reference images on a blisteringly hot Saturday afternoon.  The [non-air-conditioned] store was busy, and I am deeply glad that I managed to get a series of shots--which included standing on chairs and moving small, fragile merchandise with my slippery hands, often while holding my cell phone in my mouth--without damaging anything, including myself!  Other [overheated, cranky] customers were looking at us a little strangely (especially after Mike put on the big feathered hat).  When we got back outside and reviewed the photos, we did a little happy dance right there on the sidewalk.  These two paintings are the first results from that trip.  Each one took over two weeks to paint--an exercise in patience for not-so-patient me!

All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

from my last show

These pieces were in a group show at The Harrison Gallery, Williamstown, MA, in the Fall of 2010.

Iced Tea in the Afternoon, 10 x 15 inches, available through The Harrison Gallery
Iced Tea in the Afternoon was born in the Louisiana summer sun.  I was sitting in the shady green grotto beneath a big palm tree in my courtyard with a glass of iced tea, when I became fascinated by the pattern made by the melting ice.  I knew I had to paint it.

Daybreak, 22 x 30 inches, SOLD

I am an inveterate collector of glass bottles, and they find homes anywhere and everywhere.  Daybreak is a look at the windowsill in the butler's pantry in my lovely city apartment here in Rochester. I was lucky to capture these beauties on a cool blue morning, kissed by the oblique rays of the rising sun.

Stained Glass with Bottles, 24 x 21 inches  SOLD
I stumbled upon the reference for Stained Glass with Bottles at the Crossroads Country Mall in Lima, NY.  This antique/flea market is located in an old church along western New York's Routes 5 & 20, an east-west corridor between the Finger Lakes and the Niagara Region.  (It's an off-the-beaten-path area well worth exploring.)  We were shopping for still life objects on our way to a Finger Lakes wine tour.  Mike spotted some bottles on a high shelf in front of this extraordinary stained-glass window, and I immediately started shifting things around so I could get a photo with my cell phone.  It was way above my head, but I held the phone high and snapped away. When we looked at the images, I was afraid our shrieks of excitement would get us thrown out of the store.  Those few hasty, off-balance shots gave me material for a series of paintings along with a whole new infusion of inspiration.  We've been back a couple of times since.  I wish I could bring home the windows, but at least I can buy the glassware!  The bottles in Daybreak, above, came from the same trip.

All content ©2011 Kimberly Denise. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

down to the bare walls

I pin my paintings up on the wall as I finish them; it's a safe way of storing them so they won't get smudged. In preparation for my February show, I had nine finished pieces stuck to my wall, and oh! that felt so good. It gave me a little shiver of pleasure every time I entered the studio to see the fruits of my hard work (literally--there were several apples and pears). But now they are gone, gone, gone. Of course, I'll feel much better about it once they sell, sell, sell!

A couple of "before" shots:






Time to get busy at the easel and fill those walls again! I feel like I need flowers this time of year; maybe I'll start there.

is it true I'm stuck with the blue?

Having a blast playing with these new Blogger templates, and I'm liking what I've done so far....but am I really stuck with this blue for the post titles? Really? This would not be my first choice. Or my second. Or third. Maybe after I have some lunch, I can figure it out. Didn't I say I was going to eat lunch an hour ago?

Later: Aha! I figured it out! No more blue post titles for me! Who knew they'd be called "links" in the template-editing thingamabob?

new year, new look (and maybe even some posts!)

I'm still here! I have a little catching up to do, as I haven't posted here in 18 months...but I probably won't do that all in one post. I spent the morning playing around with Blogger, giving this space a new look to celebrate its revival. It needs some more work, but this is enough for one day. I've just finished preparing for my February solo show at The Harrison Gallery in Williamstown, MA, so I'm back to the planning and development phase of the art-making process. I'm excited about the show and eager to move on to the next thing(s), which are indeed many and exciting. Watch this space for more updates. I have to go eat some lunch.

Monday, June 15, 2009

June Bloom Day

Here's what's abloom in June!


Cannas look so exotic and Victorian to me. What a pleasure to leave them in the ground and have them survive the winter. I have two varieties in my yard--I'd love to have a few more.




Spiderwort. I know, I know, it's a weed around here...but it's also a beautiful, hardy native. Love the little blue faces.



Cherry Tomatoes Sweet 100. I think the tomatoes look gorgeous against the brick--although they don't much like this soil.



More cannas. This doesn't really show the flowers....but it does, to me, convey the feel of the garden on a hot summer day.