Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A few thoughts on summertime

Summer. That time when you got to play outside until nightfall. Fireflies. Popsicles. Scraped knees. I can still picture my sis Veronique flying down the concrete hill next to our house, full speed on her Fisher- Price plastic horse. She would hurl herself into the cement, bloody limbs,  and get right back up and do it again with a smile. We had more time with family. Fishing trips, and eating hazelnuts and raspberries in the woods. Daisies and blueberries growing next to each other. 

Later, summer was a time to get a job. Make some cash to spend before school. Summer reading lists (I think I still owe some Library in New York tens of thousands of dollars for some overdue book about Lord knows what... Native American women maybe?...). Tacos at night. 

And then there's summer loves. It's funny, I have fallen in love in both the Spring and the Summer. One was full of scents, flowers, cool evenings, and blue eyes. The other was thunderstorms, bike rides, ice cream sandwiches and slanted, orange light. Both are lovely. 
Summer is emotional for me. I don't know why. Maybe I'm just emotional (duh...some of you are rolling your eyes). I get sad like an end of day rainstorm, and think this awful heat will never end. I feel like a cactus some days. And then others, like today, feel like a day out of a Hemingway novel. Things feel foreign, like some spidery orchid with a secret. I  love days like this. Everything is grey, hot, strange. And begs to be seen and heard. Things happen in the summer. Beautiful, imaginary, lost- in -time things.  These are days that recall all of those memories of summers... days of playing in the garden at dusk, being too tired to eat dinner, too hot to sleep. Days in the city when everyone is looking for a cool oasis. We are turned nomadic on days like this..... the air is of many places. 
I'm playing nomad today. It's a wonderful day, one I am thankful for more than anyone can know. It's a desert, a jungle, a city, a playground, a middle-of-the field thunderstorm day. Sun comes from no place today... everything is hazy, like a blurred painting.  

Monday, July 27, 2009


It's 8:52 a.m. 
I just got into my studio from my morning walk.... from Main Street to 8th and Market. Coffee in hand, the sun is already hot and cutting through the morning mist.  I pass Warehouse Row, notice new signs, pass Patten Towers with all its flavorful characters out front. Miller Park is still quiet, with rays of sun coming in and frolicking on the sidewalk.  I pass the Loveman building, where I used to live when I first moved to Chattanooga. It dawns on me how many steps between then and now have taken place. 
The building where I work, the Old Chattanooga Bank Building, has been sold. It is a gorgeous building, made of Tennessee marble and baked, enameled, white terracotta.  The materials are splendid, the structure handsome, the tenants bizarre, and the general maintenance questionable.  Whenever I walk up to it,  I feel like I should be hearing Debussy's "Sunken Cathedral"..... an elegant, but somewhat decrepit sea giant lifting its shoulders  out of a concrete ocean.
I'm sad. All 11 floors of this building have to be out by August 15th, which seems all too soon. The building will be turned into a Crown Plaza Hotel, a 24 million dollar project. I have to say it is nice to think someone finds Chattanooga interesting enough to put that kind of money into the downtown. 
I have had some wonderful times in this building. Three years ago, when  I moved to Chattanooga, I rented a small space on the 3rd floor. I painted all the walls army green and worked on my first portrait commission. I met all my painter friends for the first time while working out of that space. The halls smelled of pipe tobacco and the no-smoking signs were a suggestion, not a rule. 
Then I subletted  from another painter, Michele Anderson, her space on the tenth floor. I felt like I had made bank.... it was a huge studio with lots of light. Again, lots happened in that studio as well. I found out I received my grant in that space. Danced to Michael Jackson in the wee hours alone. And best of all... I got to press the top button in a full elevator. Ha! 
Then I got my own space, on the 5th floor. It was a labor of love, having to rip 2 layers of carpet and 2 layers of tile out before I could have the Terrazzo floors to their original state. I was scrubbing my temple floors, an action very symbolic at that time in my life. 
There are many painters in this building. And attorneys. And eccentrics. 9-5ers, part-timers, night owls and early risers. We are all in here together. As much as I am an advocate for artist spaces, there is something great about being in a building with people you would never normally know. I walk down the hall and get my keys ready, say hello to Joanne, a lovely receptionist for the attorney next door to me. She tells me about her daughter's fiance going to Iraq. My heart sinks for a young woman I don't even know.  
I come into my studio. The light is blue and pale, and the faint smell of linseed oil is in the walls. My palette, my easel, my brushes..my friends, are all waiting for me. We are all moving together, as usual. Poor roommates... I'm sure they are not sold on the idea of being thrown into the back of my car and taken to the other side of town... to St. Elmo.  I'm lucky they don't have a voice in the matter.... they are probably pretty sick of me throwing paint all over them every day, then hurling them across town. 
I'm moving this week. I have a wonderful space in St. Elmo... a great community. The building is a lot like this one, complete with southern gentleman landlord and sweet maintenance man. 
As a final goodbye, Gordon Wetmore, Bart Lindstrom, and many other painters here in the Bank Building are having a sort of "changing of the guard" party this friday night. We start the goodbyes at 7pm. Please come by and bid this gorgeous giant a final adieu. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009


Due to a scheduling conflict, I won't be painting hour-long sketches of people tomorrow at Coffee Crafters. Sorry everyone!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Be a poser!

I'm going to be doing one hour oil portrait sketches this Saturday, July 11th from 10a.m to 4p.m at Coffee Crafters Cafe. Please stop by for a coffee and a portrait sketch!!! 
Coffee Crafters is located at the corner of Vine and Houston Streets, right next to the UTC dorms. 
Here are directions
It will be loads of fun!

Friday, July 3, 2009


So, It's 7:45 a.m. Now, for most people, this is a healthy, normal time to be up. I, however, have been up since 4:45a.m.   The guys at Starbucks laughed when I was the first one in line this morning. I decided, after not much sleep, to come into my studio early and just go ahead and catch up on old paperwork. 
Now, why on earth can't I sleep? I started kind of giggling at the fact that today, July 3rd, is very obviously the day before Independence Day. 
Am I nervous about my freedom? Does the weight of choice hang heavy on my heart? Am I perhaps, fearful of this right??
In a world where women are still being stoned to death, thieves are beheaded, and doctors are made to work abroad in chicken factories, I can deal with this weight of Freedom. Choice is a bitch, but look at the alternative. 
So today, I have a little of the Star Spangled Banner running in my heart. I've been worried so much over my finances lately, my work, my play, blah blah. But I'm alive and free. And my choice to be a painter and suffer the consequences is my own. We get to choose!
I may be over-simplifying (another trait of this dear country). 
Or I may just be delirious with lack of sleep and excitement. Does it matter??
Have a wonderful 4th, y'all!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Moving forward and looking back.

Oh, dear, dear readers! Please do not be discouraged by my total lack of  writing for the past two weeks!!! I've been SO busy, with moving my apartment, re-doing my studio, and trying to be a painter all the while.  I'm so sorry, cher amies! 

This morning, to my wonderful surprise, I got an email. A good friend of mine that I studied with in Italy is getting married to another close friend! Her and I were inseparable while we lived in Italy, and I can say with full confidence that she made the experience all the more glorious! 

Change is in the air. I just finished moving houses, and my art work seems to be changing significantly right now.  And now a good friend is changing a huge part of her life.... her and her soon-to-be husband are moving back for London where she is from.  Talk about change! 
But it is important to remember where you once were, and realize how much progress and growth (hopefully) have gone on. The photos below are both a dedication to my friend (she practically lived in my house for a year, curled up sipping tea and giggling with me by the fire) and also a reminder that many great things have happened since.  These were taken in 2005, the last year of me living in Florence, Italy. I actually lived on the mountain of Fiesole for the last two years I was studying, and the shots below are from that home. Please enjoy... these are somewhat personal photos from a time and place in my life I loved dearly. But I'm also glad to have moved on.  
Have a great day of change!!

View from our front door and patio, looking onto Florence.
Side view of my house taken from in the bottom orchard. Yup... we had an orchard. 
Photo of me sitting in one of the many lovely windows of our house. 
Front gate. I loved the sound when it opened... it was a medieval sound in a modern world. 
Our front door. 
My fav beach in Italy- Castiglioncello. Many a weekend spent here with my friend Emilie eating tuna sandwiches and trying to not be as prudish as our creamy white skin may have led on...