Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Photo Luddite

I love photoshop as much as the next person, but in my heart of hearts, I miss the old photography, where what you saw was a record of what happened. Now, it is too easy to make the outlandish feasible.   Gullible minds (and the US seems to have an abundance of them) believe what they see.  Dennis McFarland in his novel, "School for the Blind" has a character say, "'things happen, and then you have to make sense of them.' That he explained is what a photograph is all about --'it stops things, freezes things so you can think about the implications, so you can contemplate the ramifications.'"  There is no doubt that computers have altered the landscape.  I'm not saying I don't like the new art form of photography, just that I miss the un-doctored certainty.  The above is the jacket photo of my father and two chimps for the book "Animal IQ" from 1950.  I was two at the time, but I assume the chimps were real.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fountain of Gravy

At the Art League Staff  Yankee Swap Christmas party today, I received a Fountain of Gravy.  "As seen on TV." Modeled after the fountain of chocolate , Gravy would spout from the top, from a green frog's mouth, and then trickle down over three levels where one could, presumably, retrieve it with a ladle (though I imagine some would prefer to drink from the cascade).  The box promised smooth gravy with no lumps or skin.    Yummy.  A gallery member suggested that I use it on the refreshment table for my food show next year.  Not a bad idea.  However, it turned out, regrettably, to be a gag box.   The above painting, "Well-Marbled" may push a few 'ick' buttons as well, but it will be in the April show.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Ribbon candy exists year round but I only remember seeing it at Christmas.  My mother bought a box every year and hid it (poorly) in the living room chest of drawers.  It seemed too delicate to handle, arriving as it did, already broken, in its protective wrapping. Shards of spun sugar, tasting of clove and spearmint.  The above is a small piece for the food show in April.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Offices of Tilted & Askew

One of my favorite pieces, "Offices of Tilted & Askew," got into the December Art League show.   I did it in 2007 while studying under Danni Dawson.  The original title was "Pandora has left the Building."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

With Apologies to Samuel Pepys

The above photo was taken Christmas Eve 1958 when our house in New Canaan caught fire.  My diary burned to a crisp but the firemen saved most of our Christmas presents.  A wise woman, Jane Eager, once told me to keep a daily journal. In old age, she explained, your journal is far better reading than the most delightful novel.  (I inherited her journals, but most of the good parts had been removed.)  I have kept a yearly journal, though not assiduously.  Some years have weeks of blanks.   My 1982 journal and one of a trip to France went missing some years back.   We've lived in this house for 20 years. I keep thinking they must be here somewhere, and periodically, I upend everything in a fruitless search.  I used to have a very good memory.  Now it's sieve-like.  My mother died of Alzheimer disease.  My kids groan when I bring up something from past, (I'm currently reading 1994) but I am  glad I followed Jane's advice.  I just hope I remember who "H", "A" and "N" are.  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Further Adventures

  I know, after watching a man floss his teeth while looking at my art, I shouldn't be surprised by anything one might choose to do at the Torpedo Factory.  But still, I was caught off guard Saturday when a pretty, young woman(NOT pictured above) climbed the stairs to my loft in the studio and  asked with an accent,  if she could play there.    My partner has several tables of blocks that people  enjoy manipulating.  I gestured to the tables and said 'sure.'  Then she explained she wanted to pray.  I was taken aback, but said 'okay'.  My studio faces East, across the Potomac.  She went down the stairs, pulled out her prayer mat and prayed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I've always been clumsy. (Not a speck of rhythm. I careen around, launching myself against inanimate objects. Some yield, some do not.) 
This morning I tried to apply gold foil to canvas.  Never have I felt so awkward.  I succeeded in gilding myself, my rug, my burnishing brushes, my computer and everything else within 6 feet of the canvas.  How does one transfer micron-thin gold leaf to canvas evenly?

Monday, November 8, 2010

White Out

Maybe it's the onset of winter, but I feel depleted.  I have painted a lot this year, possibly too much.   Paintings are stacked in the dining room, the basement, and in two studios.  We are, as my husband says, "lousy with art."  Many pieces are at the framer's and frankly, no one here is looking forward to their return.
Today, I covered three paintings with a layer of white.  Fresh start, less inventory. Huzzah.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Critical reviews

A little girl came into my studio yesterday and headed right for "sink,sank,sunk" which was leaning against the wall. She pushed her hands into the canvas trying to turn the faucets. Her mother shrieked, grabbed the little girl's arm and dragged her, in full wail, from the studio.
One of my better reviews, I think....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sisyphus Revisted

Probably bad karma on my part to refer to the annual scraping of porch trim as Sisyphean.  The painting itself then took on the same properties: continual 'editing'.  Here, however, is the final version of "The Summer Porch."  (I hope)  No more scraping.  Would that I could say the same for the actual porch.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bok Bok Revisited

  A character in a novel (whose title I cannot remember) said that cooking a raw chicken put her in mind of the squeamish parts of sex.  Especially when she had to slide her hand between the skin and the flesh when seasoning the bird.
  I thought painting a raw chicken would make me squeamish but it turned out to be a delightful experience. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dead Flies

  This is Damien Hirst's Armaggedon.  It is composed of dead flies and glue.
 Scott Burdick's  gave a speech "The Banishment of Beauty" that is available on Youtube.  His thesis is that modern art is driven by critics and investors to the detriment of classical beauty.  He contends museums and galleries actively avoid art considered realistic or beautiful.  (He notes that a museum had a workshop with prominent plein-air painters, to raise money that would enable the museum to buy more modern/ugly art.)  Some people are labeling his argument simplistic or sour grapes. 
  I went college in the late sixties when abstract art was all the rage.  One professor told me my work looked like smudge by numbers.  I stopped painting for 30 years.
 I took a few abstract art classes recently.  Clearly, they didn't take.
 I admire a good deal of modern art.   Shaun Richards has a show at the Target Gallery that is thrilling in its layers of commentary and visual impact.  My art doesn't have a subtext or global meaning. And for a while now, I've felt bad about that.  Inadequate, actually.   Scott Burdick's speech makes it easier not to wince when someone calls my work "pretty."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bok Bok

   I am painting for a food show in April 2011.  I've come to realize a lot of food is brownish, which isn't much fun.  I think I've got fruit, seafood and vegetables covered.  Meat could be problematic.  Cooked, it's brown; raw, it's prettier, but there's a certain ick factor.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

self portrait

Back in the day, when I suffered from migraines, this would have been an apt self-portrait.  I was held hostage by  fierce, grinding, ice-pick in the eye headaches for 30 years.  They came every eight days, lasted three days.  I tried every known cure.  I even wrote a novel about it (Hell's Bells).  It was supposed to be funny.

I could not be the person I am today, sitting in a brightly lit studio, were it not for Dr. Stuart Stark.  I had been painting a few years, mostly crippled efforts, until Dr. Stark liberated me.  The cure he proposed, which I think of as the Elvis Presley regimen, won't work for everyone.  I take Ritalin three times a day and a sleeping pill at night.  I have been migraine free for nine years.  I don't ever want to go back to those dark days.http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/cindy-packard-richmond/137919006225893?ref=sgm

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mother's Little Helpers

Sometimes, I do paint from my imagination.  These two pieces feature bottles labeled "Hissy Fits", "Delusions of Grandeur", "Blue Funk", "Cotton Mouth", and "Foot in Mouth."

Like they say, "paint what you know."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Back to the Barn

  This is a painting of the "Sisyphus"  porch on the Vineyard.  I thought it was finished until Carol Dupre dropped by my studio and told me the perspective was all wrong.  She was, as always, right.
   So I reworked perspective.  But the piece still didn't work.  My imagination was at fault.
   It's hard to admit as an artist (and former novelist), that my imagination is limited.  Or at least, does not translate.  I have to see something to paint it.  My friends, Susan Makara, Sheep Jones and others paint from their imaginations ALL the time.  I could not even invent a plausible chair and table.
   I paint what I see.   It is,  I hope, different from what others would see looking at the same object.  Otherwise, why bother?
  One of my strengths as an artist is a willingness to rip a piece apart and start over.
  The table and chair are now gone.  Kicked back to the paltry recesses of my imagination.http://www.facebook.com/pages/cindy-packard-richmond/137919006225893?ref=sgm

Thursday, September 16, 2010

finite joy

   My brother Vance, remarking on the paucity of sharp knives in the family house on Martha's Vineyard, said, there has to be some incentive to leave.
And he's right.
   The kitchen is periodically stocked with good tools, but after a season of rentals, everything is dulled, broken or missing.
   Maybe the tenants are doing us a favor.
  There has to be some lure to leave the Vineyard for the real world.  For Vance, it's decent cutlery.  For me, it is my oils. I purposely didn't take them with me, the better to soak in all that the Vineyard offers.  I'm gestating now.  Tomorrow, I'm back in the studio.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Far from the tree..

This is my mother, Virginia Packard.  She was an accomplished artist, known for her ability to capture the essence of Martha's Vineyard.  She showed regularly at The Granary Gallery and the Field Gallery.
I did not start painting until she died, and only then to feel closer to her.  I avoided Vineyard landscapes for a long time.  She was much better at them than I will ever be.  But I'm better at still lifes. Go figure...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Who said Sisyphus was a myth?

This is the house my parents bought in 1953 on Martha's Vineyard.  It's the heart and soul of our extended family.  Upkeep is a challenge, to put it mildly.  The original owner (1905) aptly named her "the house of winds".  Doors slam suddenly and without provocation.  She's survived many a hurricane, but the salt sea air digs at her.  For as long as I can remember, I have spent my vacation scraping the four sets of stairs and porch trim. (Someone else paints) Every year.  For 50 weeks a year I paint in my studio at home or in Studio 3 of the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia.  For two weeks a year, I scrape.

Why am I not at the beach?

I should be at the beach. Family and guests are at the beach.  Here I sit with a sheath of papers trying to create a blog.  I am told this is necessary if I am to be a modern artist.  Go viral.