Archive for January, 2009


I missed getting a new post out over the weekend. First time since the New Year began that I didn’t get 2 blogs per week out there.

Originally I had hoped to put up something about the opening reception at Cape Cod Museum of Art for “Teaching Art/Creating Art”. I attended on Thursday evening and took a number of pictures to feature here.

Unfortunately, they are still imprisoned in a borrowed camera for which I have no compatible cable (I have 3 but none that fit this particular camera). I have no card reader and no computer at home or work that is advanced enough to slip the card directly into. Nor does my Blackberry do it.

canon_ixus_55_digital_cameraSo on top of the fact that I spent all weekend doing demolition work on a condominium, I am still waiting for my dear husband to have a chance to get my pictures through one of his office computers. He is involved in the condo renovation too, so he’s got a lot more than these pictures on his plate at this time in truth.

So I am instead going to offer links to two blogs I read regularly and like. I am literally stealing this idea off the post I got today from Tina Mamoser’s The Cycling Artist weblog. Sorry (or thanks?) Tina. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all that.

The Cycling Artist is basically the blog of a landscape artist who lives in the UK. She is very techno savvy -far moreso than I- and shares great information about her work, materials, techniques, business practices and travels. As a landscapist myself, I really like her work and this blog. You’ll find her at http://tina-m.blogspot.com

A second blog I just came across at the beginning of the year is Hai -br0w Kulture. Julia lives in NYC and she blogs often about museums and other institutions/entities in that area. Next best thing to being able to be there yourself as she takes you through the ins and outs of the intersection between the arts, culture and tecnology. She’s another “artsy type” who is more techno-savvy than I can claim to be. The link is http://www.juliaxguila.com

I will be posting about the opening at CCMA as soon as I can retrieve those blasted pictures. In the meantime, I hope you will check out these blogs and let me know what you think along with any others you recommend.

Arrgghhh!!! Ready for a vacation....

Arrgghhh!!! Ready for a vacation....


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I have some other non-fiction books that I find very helpful and important to me in some ways but I will save those for another time. Today a quick list of 5 of my favorite books having to do with technical help or otherwise inspirational to the process of making art. Because I have worked primarily in the medium of soft pastels for many years, a majority of them have to do with that type of material.

It is also worthing observing that these are all books that I own. I CB068378have actually gone out and purchased them whereas with non-fiction, “pleasure reading material” I almost never buy but borrow from the library as previously mentioned. I will often get these kinds of non-fiction works from the library first if they are available. It’s a great way to audition something and see if I want to own it. In fact, that’s how I sometimes realize it is a volume I should purchase. When I find myself borrowing it out of the library twice or even 3 or 4 times, it’s clear that I need to have it in my permanent personal library.

So here’s a list of 5 that I have gone to time and again. There are others and I’ll probably make mention of them another time. So it is not a top ten kind of list, nor ranked in any way in order ofbooks02-619x6852 importance. But perhaps you’ll find something you like in one of these for your own artistic purposes – or in a future list to follow.

  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron http://theartistsway.com Many folks are familiar with this and the companion volumes such as “Walking in this World” . Being a writer herself, Cameron sometimes seems to speak a little more to the literary arts. And I have never gotten into writing the “morning pages” she swears by but then I have my own morning prayer routine that works for me. For her, naturally writing seems elemental but not for me. However another plus as I see it is if you are familiar with, and appreciate the original “12-step” program this is patterned after, you would find something good in it for helping your creative/spiritual connection. I have read just about all of her others. Some later works, in my humble opinion, are a bit redundant. Or I get a bit sick of hearing how many wonderful, miraculous things have turned out in her very lucky life. I think it can be taken too far and become kind of cultish to form an Artists Way group and all. But to each his own and the original book is a good one.
  • The Pastelist’s Year, painting the 4 seasons in pastel by Elizabeth Mowry http://elizabethmowry.com This is the one that first made me realize there were some books I had to own and used time and time again. She’s a terrific landscape artist and I enjoyed and own a couple of other books of hers. I especially recommend her for landscape painters, not just those who work in pastel.
  • Wolf Kahn’s Pastels and Wolf Kahn’s America http://www.wolfkahn.com Again, I am partial to pastelist and landscapes. These are big “coffee table” art books to enjoy and be inspired by rather than giving technical advice. And Kahn, who was Hans Hofmann’s student and studio assistant, is more abstract than Mowry above. But I find his unique use of color lovely and his work moving.
  • The Oil Painting Book and The Pastel Painting Book, Materials and Techniques for Today’s Artist both by Bill Creevy. These are both good, basic primers on the respective media. Though they are not the only ones, I find his books very thorough on tools, materials and techniques. I was actually well into my work with pastel before coming across him. But I began working seriously with oils only a couple of years back with no prior training from my college years. His book was a very good foundation and reference.
  • The Yin/Yang of Painting by Honqninan Zhang and Lois Woolley This is as much a philosophy book about your approach to painting as a technical reference. If you are partial to strong contrasts in your work in particular, you may really enjoy exploring the way of working outlined here. It is not media specific and I have seen it used effectively in pastel as well as acrylics and oils.

Where a specific website was possible for the artist/author I have supplied a link. And I would always encourage the patronage of small independent bookstores whenever possible. However in these tough times and when speed is of the essence, you should know that all of these volumes are immediately available and can be purchased through Amazon.com .


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On Tuesday we usher in a new president and a new era of hope and change. We also embark on a journey through difficult times with an economy in a death spiral the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression. For many of us who weren’t born during those years we have never experienced such a time in our lives as challenging as this. It is more than a little scary and perhaps hard to start this new year feeling full of hope.

During a tight time such as this, the arts will be taking a big hit and many artists will need to cling to, or go out seeking, alternative work to supplement or replace the income from their creative work. Yet many, myself included, will still opt to donate a portion of what they make to good causes and for the benefit of others who are in need. Some may wonder why.

In a open letter to his daughters published today, President-Elect Obama states

…you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential. Barack Obama

An artist friend of mine, Karen North Wells has put it

As of Jan 1st, 20% of sales are donated to Habitat.
As of Jan 1st, 20% of my sales are donated to Habitat.

this way: “If your hand isn’t open to give, it won’t be open to receive.”

I personally had a sort of epiphany about how and why to justify myself as an artist by using it in this way. I felt very conflicted about the desire to devote myself , my time and my energy – even part time as I am- to the making and selling of art. Let’s face it, making pretty pictures is not a cure for cancer. It can’t feed starving people or put a roof over their head.

BUT, I suddenly realized, it can be a powerful way to do those things indirectly. Just for one example, people are constantly asking artists, among others, to donate to silent auctions and the like when holding fundraisers. By donating work or a portion of profits or proceeds to causes that do feed and shelter and search for cures, I can do the work I feel called to do and make a difference, albeit a small and indirect one. (But enough small drops of water together will still eventually wear away a stone.)

Because affordable housing was an issue of great importance on the Cape and to me personally, I decided years ago to donate a percent of any sales to Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod. As of this January 1st I decided to increase it from 10% to 20%. As they say, “God works in mysterious ways”. Some may say this is poor business practice or even plain crazy. But I am trusting that, as has happened many times before, what I put out there will come back to me in some way tenfold.

Austism has also touched my family and last year I found myself working on raising donations and selling raffle tickets for the first ever benefit on Cape Cod for autism_speaksAutism Speaks. Me, the girl who hated selling Girl Scout cookies as a kid and still am loathe to ask people for money today. But Janet Hart Barbato of the Ocean House in Dennis had jumped in to do it and I found myself jumping in to help, hitting up artists and other friends for donations. Sometimes I didn’t even get to ask before they would offer their goods and services when they heard about the event. Just think of what can happen if every artist , and every person, tries to find just one small way to use their talents to help.


So here’s the challenge to artists and anyone who wants change and hopes for better days ahead: How might you “paint your wagon” and what are you going to hitch it to?

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Harwich Middle School Eighth Graders descend on PAAM for the 4th annual Field Trip

Harwich Middle School Eighth Graders descend on PAAM for the 4th annual Field Trip

Each year around this time I implement the Grade 8 Visual Arts curriculum I designed which is referred to as “The Provincetown Project”.

Caitlyn, HMS grade 8 participated in "Art on the Edge", a Saturday program at PAAM.  Her work and that of 2 other HMS students is now on exhibit at the museum.

Caitlyn, HMS grade 8 participated in "Art on the Edge", a Saturday program at PAAM. Her work and that of 2 other HMS students is now on exhibit at the museum.

Students in the Harwich Public Schools take classes in the visual arts from Kindergarten through 8th grade as per the Massachusetts Department of Education’s mandate that the arts are part of a core curriculum. After this year some students will go on to study graphics at Cape Cod Tech and some will fulfill their Fine Arts requirement at Harwich High through continued study in studio arts. But for many, this is the last time they will engage in a formal program of study in the visual arts. The NEED program in 5th grade brings students to the National Seashore to expose them to the natural treasures on their very doorstep. By the same token, they should be exposed to the significant cultural treasure in their own back yard. Rather than going over the bridge to the MFA in Boston, students learned firsthand of the major role that Provincetown and its art colony played,– and continues to play, in the emergence of modern art in the 20th century and its continued impact world-wide.

An Homage to Ferol Sibley-Warthen by Fiona, class of 2006

An Homage to Ferol Sibley-Warthen by Fiona, class of 2006

Students take a field trip to the Provincetown Art Association & Museum in the late fall or winter. Through the efforts of education curator Lynn Stanley and the support of director Chris McCarthy, they are given an in-depth exposure to and hands-on

Teacher "Profe" Keefe and her posse all join in the drawing exercises.

Teacher "Profe" Keefe and her posse all join in the drawing exercises.

experiences with the art of Provincetown and its many illustrious artists. From Charles Hawthorne through Hans Hofmann and right up to contemporary artists living and working here today, students are thoroughly grounded in the depth and breath of art in Provincetown.

Students got to meet some muppets and their designer in one of this year's exhibits.

Students got to meet some muppets and their designer in one of this year's exhibits.

After studying the history of the colony and taking an exam, students selected their own choice of artist to research and then write brief research papers. Finally they worked on independent studio projects of their own choice, either copying a piece of their artists’ work or creating an original of their own in the style of the artist. The final assignment was to write a reflective piece which is displayed as an “artist’s statement” with the work on exhibit in the HMS Media center.

This little show is the culmination of a program of study spanning

A Peter Busa by Nell O,  from 2006

A Peter Busa by Nell O, from 2006

their entire 8th grade year–and for many, their last year- of study in art. Each year the students exceed expectations. I hope to be able to continue to find the grants to support this endeavor. And I hope you will agree that the work that is done is a wonderful testament to their talents and pays fitting homage to the artists and the art colony of Provincetown.

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Good art won’t match your sofa.

Fred C.Babb


If I hear about the Starving Artist’s “Art” sale once more I’ll blow a gasket. I thought they were all over as of last weekend. Sofa-sized paintings as low as $19.00 and NO admission fee. Cool! You don’t have to pay to go look at ,and buy crap, that you shouldn’t take for free anyway.

The Beach House, oil on canvas

The Beach House, oil on canvas

Fortunately here on Cape Cod we are blessed with an antidote: an abundance of quality local art and what I really wanted to mention in this post are 2 shows currently on exhibit to which I am connected.

Opening tomorrow and running through February 22nd at the Cape Cod Museum of Art is “Teaching Art/Creating Art”, a juried show of work by members of the Cape Cod & Islands Art Educators Association. Two of my paintings were selected for this exhibit and the reception for the show is Thursday,

Morning Marshlight, pastel

Morning Marshlight, pastel

January 22nd from 5:30 to 7:30 PM.

Also running until January 18th at Provincetown Art Association and Museum is a student exhibition called “Art on the Edge”. This is the culmination of 12 Saturdays of work from a free middle school art program. Several of my current students at Harwich Middle School participated and their work is now on display at PAAM. There will be a pot-luck reception on Friday, January 16, 2009 from 6-8 PM to which all are welcome.

On Tuesday of this week, we had mounted our annual Gr.8 field trip to PAAM as part of my curriculum of study on the history of the art colony. This year’s trip was especially important as the entire class got to see the work of two of their peers on display along with all of the other shows currently running.

HMS 8th Graders invade PAAM

HMS 8th Graders invade PAAM

My next post will feature some scenes from the trip and a little information about the program of study I designed and implemented.

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I love to read for pleasure. Nowadays, I think that alone makes me a bit of a freak in some circles (predominantly the middle school one I run in 5 days a week). And at the risk of sounding like the Luddite that I am not, I love to actually still hold an old-fashioned book or magazine in my hands. Much as I have cottoned to technology and New Media in many ways, I don’t curl up with my laptop under the covers. On the other hand, I even know my library card number by heart as I am a big fan of getting it all for free at the public library through the CLAMS (Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing)network on line.

CB068378Not surprisingly, I especially love to read novels that are about art, artists and the art world. Historical fiction is a biggie but contemporary works are great too. If the setting is Italy it’s my own personal triple threat of literary indulgence! (I also love novels set here on my beloved Cape Cod and have read as many as are available at Brooks Free Library through the aforementioned CLAMS . network. But most fiction written on,by and set on Cape Cod tends to be mysteries. This isn’t a bad thing but not an art thing. Two notable exceptions here:

1 Isabel’s Bed by Elinor Lipman set in Truro in the middle of winter and as quirky a read as you can find.

2. Bound and The Widow’s War both by Sally Gunning, a local author who writes compelling historical fiction about women’s lives set in the colonial period in the town of Brewster on Cape Cod.

I have a list culled from my personal reading history on my account at CLAMS. Now that I have gone through it, I can see it’s lengthy and eclectic, even within my parameters described above.

How about I give you a short list of 5 of my favorites from the past few years for now? In no particular order and with others to follow if there is anyone out there would like more, I’ll start with some contemporary settings:

1. Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him by Danielle Ganek
gallery, art scene in NYC, I found it intriguing.

2. Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
he also wrote Empire Falls, this is one of my triple threats : artist, Italy and a great read.

3. Past Secrets by Cathy Kelly
an Irish author (if you know Marion Keyes you would probably find her writing enjoyable though not exactly the same style) This is kind of chicklit type of easy reading but I enjoyed her enough to go get and read all the rest of her novels, even though there weren’t any artist characters in the others.

4. The Handyman by Carolyn See
set in California, neat story about the talented artist who gives it all up….or tries to

5. Forest of the Heart by Charles de Lint
this is magical realism in the setting of an artist retreat. Slightly scary and a thrilling read.


If you enjoyed this winter reading list , leave a comment and let me know. I have quite a few more to share .

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One of my New Year’s resolutions is to revamp this blog and be more consistent about using it. Unfortunately a bit has changed with WordPress since I last posted and I don’t remember some of the things I need to do to edit its appearance and all. Looks to be a steep learning curve before I can really get running. But this will be a start.

This is "Before".....you don't want to see the "After(math)" yet

This is "Before".....you don't want to see the "After(math)" yet

One catagory that is already gone is Inner Pearl Studio/Hyannis Art Scene. I moved out of 50 Pearl St at year’s end and am very happily ensconced back in my home studio in Harwich Port. It was exciting to have the opportunity to explore the newly emerging art district firsthand. But I had misgivings all along about commuting 15 miles to work and my previous committment to working on the masters at SCAD to consider as well. It will take some time, especially in the current economy, for the Hyannis Art Scene to become established and I just had to face the fact that this isn’t the time for me.

All the more reason for me to increase my presence on the web. I look forward to a bit of an expansion of the blog’s scope and regular postings on a variety of interrelated topics on art and other interests.

Hope some of you will check up on me to make sure I get it all done. Please come by to read and share often when I have done so.

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