Wednesday 2/15

It was sunny today! The ground finally dried out enough that I could work in the yard without slopping through muck. A few spots are still sticky with mud, but I was able to mow and rake, prune a few things, clear the drainage area and pull weeds…that bit’s easy, as the ground is so soft. There is still much to do, but I feel much happier today having gotten to play in the dirt, and it is nice to have this place better tended. The daffodils are starting to bloom, the plum trees are flowering, and the acacias are heavy with bright yellow fragrant flowers…they make me sneeze, but I like them anyway.

All the outside work had to be done soon, as it’s supposed to start raining again tonight. After a short break I got to paint a bit more — below is one study that is nearly done. I am learning a lot, even though the work isn’t ‘pro’ yet…all part of the process, and it won’t get better if I don’t keep at it.

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Adding color…nearly done with this study (still wet)

That’s it for now…hope this finds you all well. More soon!

 

 


February

The twisted old plum tree has suddenly developed buds: seems like they appeared overnight, but maybe I wasn’t looking close enough…they snuck up on me. The tulips are growing, and the snowdrops are blooming. The hyacinths are getting ready to flower — they smell so great, I hope they have a chance to do their thing before the rain beats them up.

Rain: after a long drought, the Santa Cruz Mountains are getting hammered with it. Our yard is basically a marsh, and although I joke about starting an alligator-and-rice farm (“Grain & Gators?” or, how about my father’s idea, “Bayou Basmati?” I like that), we’re lucky, so far: no landslides or severe flooding or downed trees here, but we don’t take anything for granted, and keep a close eye on things. This morning my brave partner decided to tackle the commute to his job over the hill. He and our trusty car made it partway, but he had to turn back after driving past landslides, downed trees, and — finally, encountering a flooded roadway that was unsafe to drive. The good part of all that is that he’s back, and safe working from home. A break in the storms is coming, then we’re to get another soaking — last I read, three to four more inches of rain. Considering the damage already done to the roadways, homes, and the considerable number of landslides, I’d say it’s a fantastic time to hunker down and work, enjoy evenings by the fireplace, and be glad that we have a well-stocked pantry and lots of candles, and a generator, and some cats (they are great lap warmers and good company).

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Old truck: work in progress, first layers

So, I’m doing that — working, and being grateful. It’s been slow, though. Energy is in short supply lately, and at times it’s daunting: I have all these ideas swimming around in my head, a deep love for the work of being an artist, and I am very happy here in the mountains with my partner in life: he is the best. Last year I was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis (TSC) and Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM): these conditions affect primarily the skin, lungs, lymph nodes, and kidneys. You can read about it here if you are interested ( https://hms.harvard.edu/news/translational-research/mystery-lam-3-21-14 ). Apparently part of having LAM is dealing with fatigue; although my husband and I still hike, and I get routine things done fairly well, day-to-day, sometimes I’m frankly stupid-tired. My approach to dealing with this is to work more, rest when I absolutely must take a break, and pare art projects down to what I’m most drawn to do. A couple commissions that were slogging along are done at last, and I have been working to get my head straight and my body rested enough to plan, with clear head and strong intent, where I want to go next. Right now there are two nice projects brewing: a beautiful book project with Cemetery Dance Publications, and another from a publisher in the U.K., which I hope will soon be announced. I’m working on oil painting, and writing more. I’m continuing to work as an illustrator, but obliged to be very selective in the commissions I accept. A sense of urgency and peace, determination and resignation maybe, go with all this — that’s life for all of us, I guess, hoping we get to bloom before we get too beat up.

Back to work, here–time to do it! I hope this finds you all safe, healthy, and happy. We’ll post more artwork soon…in the meantime, take care.


July

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Good afternoon from our spot in these mountains, where it’s full summer–it’s dry, and although the creek is still running, it is a bit low. Our apple tree, durable green soul, is laden with fruit; perhaps this will be the year I make apple cider. The roses are blooming profusely, and the sage and the lupine are also flourishing.

Above is a detail of a much larger graphite drawing that will appear in an upcoming publication…it’s a bit gruesome–more so than a lot of my work–but the tale for which this drawing was created is raw, in-your-face, and bloody. Believe me, it could have been a much more graphic illustration (I did consider it). The full image is in a different format than most commissions I am given, as well, so it was an unusual job and great fun to do. I’ll post more about this when I can.

The past few months have been great in most ways. My companion and I have been enjoying visits with family and friends whenever we can; we have been hiking longer distances again, after a break. It’s the season for summer fruits and veggies, so we have been relishing those. I’m determined to get back into doing yoga. Last year I enrolled in an excellent class as a beginner, and–for several reasons–haven’t gotten back to those sessions. I miss it, so must learn to keep up the discipline on my own. I’ve been wanting to get things in general settled: sorting and organizing materials in my studio so all the projects in progress–all in different media, both personal and commissioned–can be done in an orderly way, and culling stuff from the house that I no longer want or need. I’ve been going through my own head, with a similar approach…it’s all house-cleaning of a sort. Some articles suggest that a messy work space indicates particularly high intelligence–so I’m reluctant to admit that I prefer things to be aligned, dust-free, sorted like-with-like, allowing lots of empty table and desk space, so things have room to happen…but there it is.

There are several private commissions in progress right now, and one wonderful book project has just been set in motion, which will be announced/published in the first quarter of 2017. I hope by this Fall that a project which has been in the works for quite a while will finally be announced…it’s exciting news for our studio, and I look forward to sharing that with you. I’m also working on oil paintings; there are currently eight of them in progress, in various stages of completion and with decidedly various levels of success. I am falling in love with the process and the medium, and hope to spiff up my portfolio and get some nice jobs in the coming years…maybe find some gallery representation and/or an agent along the way.

Here is one oil sketch I’ve been working on as part of my study:

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Rusty water tank – Mt. Diablo Hike

I’d best get back to the work at hand, but one last bit of news: a cat has shown up at our place–so friendly, it seems that he’s been abandoned. We’ve looked at bulletin boards, missing pet posters, etc. and we’ve found no one so far who is claiming or looking for him. He’s getting taken care of now, and it seems he will stay with us–my husband’s rather fond of him, too. Kitty has had most of his shots, and will have the last of his vaccinations when he’s neutered later this month. He loves to hang out with me in the studio, and follows us when we’re out in the yard…he has a huge purr, and is talkative; he is happy to sleep (usually upside-down) on the rug here while I work. He joins a neighborhood cat, Purrsephone, a beautiful, feisty tortoiseshell kitty who spends a lot of her time here at our place, and with a kind neighbor lady who also feeds, shelters, and grooms her. This is Mr. Purrsival, Morale Officer and Spider-Catcher for Rowan Studio, shown on the job:

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Until next time, please be careful out there; be kind to yourselves, and each other; and don’t forget to slow down and enjoy things…savor life.


April

Spring is here: the calla lilies are blooming, as are the hawthorne trees, and the lilacs; the roses are ready to pop, too. The grass is growing faster than I can believe, as are the weeds. I’ll get to those–working in the garden is one of my favorite activities–but this week I have to concentrate on finishing some commissions.

In the midst of a very busy time for my companion and me, it was very nice to see this post from Brian Freeman of Cemetery Dance Publications: http://www.brianjamesfreeman.com/2016/04/08/erin-wells-artwork-for-cemetery-dance-7475/#comments  Many thanks to Brian and Mindy at CD. I love my job, and it’s always good to know that clients are happy with my drawings. Hopefully a lot of readers like them too, although no one can please everyone all the time. So here’s the drawing for the upcoming issue of Cemetery Dance Magazine: a small, fuzzy, innocent (?) kitten.

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This week I hope to finish an anthology project (still unannounced by the publisher, so I won’t reveal any details yet), and I’m working on an 18″ x 24″ oil painting–a personal work–and a smaller oil commission, which is great fun. I’m quite happy here in the woods, listening to music and drinking tea and painting and living here with Michael and all our crazy animals.

Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other, and read a lot of good books!


February

Greetings from the mountains, where it’s Spring for sure: our first daffodil of the season popped out a couple days ago; the snowdrops and the hyacinths are blooming like crazy. The grass, which was dry and brown for much of last Spring and Summer, is back with gusto: I will actually have to mow and rake this week.

Meanwhile, I’m working on a series of fifteen illustrations for an upcoming anthology; an oil painting for a private collector; a couple remarque projects are in the works, and I’m doing some art for our friends’ wedding in March. I have many paintings and other projects sketched, notes made, etc. and–after the current commissions are complete–I’ll be diving into those full-time. I’ll be doing as much art as I can without neglecting my partner (he’s at least as busy as I), letting the cats starve, or letting the house and yard go to Hell. I cannot fathom how people with bipedal children get much at all other than childcare accomplished, if they don’t have a nanny or a helper…it’s busy enough with what we have on our plate. I’m happy doing what we are doing: it’s really all right!

The Dark Tower group is offering another of my paintings in their annual fundraiser–along with the watercolor for the Stephen King Limited chapbook that was shown in a previous post, we’re donating this oil study of Pennywise, as a benefit to The Haven Foundation:

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The auction is active–as of this writing–for another week, and you can find the link here if you’d like to bid: http://www.ebay.com/itm/-/201527207419 All of the proceeds from the sale of this oil study will benefit The Haven Foundation.

Heading back to work now: there are lots of good things happening this year, so far, and I hope it may continue. We’ll have some very exciting news to share soon: probably next month. In the meantime, be careful out there, everyone, and try to be kind to one another…’til next time. Cheers! (raising coffee cup…whoops, time for more coffee)


Haven Foundation

Greetings from very soggy northern California. My goodness, it’s been raining! After a few years of drought, our place has finally stopped soaking up the rain; the creeks and rivers are rushing again, and there are sheets of water (and–here and there–rocks and mud and trees) flowing across our local highways. Our yard is more swampy than yardy. We’re happy for the rain, but also quite thankful for our sump pump.

So–in the middle of rainstorms, I’m working on a few projects, including a couple auctions of artwork for charity. Please check out the Haven Foundation, an organization founded by author Stephen King, to assist freelance creative people who have found themselves unable to work due to accident or disease. Here’s the link: http://www.thehavenfdn.org/   A community of Stephen King fans and collectors at The Dark Tower (http://www.thedarktower.org) works hard every year to generate funds for the Haven Foundation, and this year I’ll be donating at least two pieces of artwork for their auction. The first, which will be soon be offered on eBay, is this cover artwork for Cemetery Dance Publications’ chapbook by Kevin Quigley, Stephen King Limited #1. For more information, see http://www.thedarktower.org — this organization gives the Haven Foundation a good deal of help, and I’m honored to be part of the effort.

 

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While the wind is picking up outside, and the next band of rain starts to come through, I’m going to do a bit more drawing, and make something hearty and comforting for supper; we’ll get the fireplace going, and hunker down for the night with a good book and several cats. I hope you’re all warm and cozy.


Happy New Year!

It’s frosty here in the mornings–40s or 50s at the warmest point of the day. It’s “winter,” and yet it feels like spring to me, as I have not forgotten–nor am I likely ever to forget–the true winters of the Midwest where I grew up. Frost, some flurries? Rain and cold mud? That’s more like March, not January. That said, I’ve become one of those winter wimps: now acclimated to Northern California, I’m not sure I could stand below-zero commutes over icy roads anymore.

So here I sit in the cozy studio, with the last of today’s coffee in a Kliban cat mug (the tabby sits on a little wooden stool and plays his six-string and sings, “Love to eat them mousies; mousies what I love to eat! Bite they little heads off, nibble on they tiny feet!”) and look at what’s going on as we head into 2016. Three book projects are in the works: an anthology with fifteen stories, a likely Lovecraft-inspired book in the next month or two, and one more project that will be announced in March. I will be re-enrolling at the local art co-op the first week of January, and have vowed to work on my figure drawing, which needs work!

Last evening I attended one of the life drawing sessions–here are two quick studies, done in 10 minutes or less:

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I’ve let myself get way too far out of practice drawing figures from life…working last night, I noted that I must remind myself to work over the entire figure–the underlying gesture and weight, the foundation of basic solid forms and shadow shapes–before addressing finer shifts in value or overlapping forms. It was great fun getting back to drawing this way, though, and sticking with a regular life drawing practice will improve my work in general.

Working on painting is also exciting. I’ve experimented with oil paint before, but haven’t been confident with the medium. I’d like to be able to take different approaches, depending on the project at hand: both the traditional grisaille underpainting-to-color technique, as well as a more spontaneous alla prima method, appeal to me. Here’s a detail of an oil study of an evil clown, and one of a work in progress using a sepia underpainting:

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Man, that’s ugly…he ain’t right!

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Memories, dreams, and time all mixed up in my head…

That’s what’s going on here at the moment…I’m hibernating and working, and very happy with that cycle for now. Raising my coffee mug: here’s hoping that this year brings the world more peace, happiness, and good health; more understanding and grace. So may it be. Take care, fellow travelers, and Happy New Year!