Tuesday, September 28, 2010


"Grace" found a new home this weekend at Common Grounds Birmingham, MI. I had just finished her the day before we left for the show, so I was fortunate to have good natural lighting to take this photograph in. I thought the texture and color was leaning towards flowers, but then I dropped the rusty red in and her cheekbone appeared! Magic! And she was there with her swept back hair and slightly tilted head, full of knowing. I love her!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Zen of the Now

94 degrees today in NC and the first day of fall.  Can you hear me  pounding my head on the dashboard of my van, as I wait in the drive through line at Starbucks waiting, waiting, WAITING to get to the window, with van windows open?  We are fully loaded with artwork, show tent, walls, chairs, bags, tent weights, computers, chilly weather clothes (and WHEN WOULD THEY BE NEEDED, I scream in my head), couple of totes of misc. show gear.  It’s 9:45 am and THIS LINE IS NOTNOTNOT MOVING – the man with the cool, golden, smooth skin smiles at me from the driver’s seat which is in the #%^)0**^-!* SHADE and says (something like) “Patience, Whitney”, or was it why are you so irritable honey, or, no, I think it was more like what’s the matter? Too warm?  TOO WARM??? It’s been in the &$%#@@@** 90s for three $%@*#$^$ months – I can’t STAND this for one moRE DAY (read with escalating volume) – and yes, of course I GET (and that guy I just mentioned pointed OUT to me) that such escalation simply causes my body temperature to rise another several degrees which, now that we are three hours down the road and the air con is ON, segues into my thoughts about the zen-ness of being in the Now. 

I read the occasional personal growth book.  I have friends who meditate.  I breath in and out several times a day.  I know what a moment is and that I am supposed to be in it.  Riding along through the rounded green and gold and russet mountains of Virginia, just the hum of the road and lightly cracking sound of that guy (mentioned above) opening sunflower seeds (little rustlings of the cellophane bag as he reaches in for a few more), van gearing down as we start another incline, swishing sounds as cars pass us slower traffic keeping right – riding along in this way, it is simple to be in the moment, attuned to the slightest variation in timbre or temp….change in temp? Change in temp?  Why are you turning the air OFF?  Climbing, he answers, between seeds.  I look up.  I see cerulean sky filled with cumulus pillows in shades of white tinged with varying degrees of palest blue echoing into the vastness of VA skies.  Quickly we have ascended, are skimming the ridge and turn the air on again.  My brief relapse over.  VA. WV.  I gaze out as the cumulus sky becomes forest mounds. The radio tunes in again.  Amazing Grace.  I kid you not.  We must hear Amazing Grace at least six times each way whenever we make this trip from NC to The North (draw a line anywhere above Washington, DC to central IN).  A bit of Alizarine showing.  Dark Cadmium Yellow.  Heavy blood red-brown Sumac heads. (Are they poinsonous?  Some interior voice raises the red flag of warning whenever I see Sumac. I don’t think I would hear the red flag if I were’nt in the moment.)

But what I really wanted to discuss is this thing with the Now.  The whole thing of Being in the Now.  It’s not that I can’t see the value of this Way of Being – my friend Leah seems to float in the Moment most of the time.  Pretty unflappable, not given to fits of  anxiety or rage.  Now, I’m not saying that she doesn’t experience these, just that it appears to me that she is able to dilute them, to extinguish them, probably during the act of mediation, which, to my amazement, she does daily.  I’m just saying that for those of us who are not so far along the road to that more highly evolved state, there should be more discussion of the value of understanding that sometimes the value of being in the Now is knowing that if you stay in the Now you will explode, possible doing bodily harm to oneself or others, and that the more prudent, some might even say more evolved, choice, while still being IN the Now and making choices from that place, would be to rapidly, expeditiously, and without passing Go, EXIT the Now NOW.  And, blissful in the lower regions, deny that particular Now of 90 something degrees for three long running months, buy a ticket to good movie in a large and very cold Cineplex, sit in the dark and be in a different Now.  Just till Fall really shows up.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Momix Bothanica _ Taormina Arte 21 July 2009

When you feel dull or trampled on, when you can't see grace or hope or beauty, watch this group in any of their videos.  Immerse yourself in what art can do, indeed, what it does to you while you experience this performance.  If you question what you can do to help the state of the world, watch Momix, open to Momix, allow what they create to wash through you, and the wave that they create, if you allow it to, will go out from you in energy soaring in the Universe.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Look What the Muse Left

So here's what the Muse left for me after yesterdays session.  I took this pic on the floor mats in my studio at about 6 pm with no direct light, so it looks pretty flat.  I'll take another tomorrow and you can see it and other new paintings at www.whitneypeckman-painter.com.

Echos IV
We'll be heading to Common Grounds Art Birmingham on Thurs - better clean the studio up and finish stretching those large canvases I started yesterday.

And this isn't the real mess...that's behind me!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Where's the Vision? or Back to Backwards

Still wandering down the Vision quest of my painting (see earlier posts), I worked on a piece in the Echo Series, Vision in mind.  Ooooops.  The Vision had grown into something too concrete.  What happens to me at that point is that I become imaginatively paralyzed - can't let go, let happen (riffing on those Step Programs). Nope.  Nothing. Worse. BAD.  Into the trash.  Now what?

I've been making art for 40 years - sometimes it feels like 40 Light Years - but long enough to know that with some time (and a brief stint doing something I hate - that would be cleaning house, working on the computer, nothing...) the muse that lives in my head will return, usually demonstrating selective memory (can muse have memory?) - memory that doesn't remember the mess I'd gotten myself into the day before.  And so it did. (Thank you, Muse.)

Now, it is my opinion that when Muse returns, one doesn't look the giftMuse in the mouth and try its patience with things like New Process or Practice Process or the Bag of Already Gone Before.  One simply dances blindfolded to the workspace and begins.  Some may call this intuition.  I call it knowing your Muse.

So.  What you see in the pic (look carefully now - that's why I put it in pretty high res) is my eye and hand doing instinctively what they do with color and texture.  Tomorrow I will return and peek into the dry surface to see what Muse has left, revealed, granted, gifted, or tossed to me.  I trust that it will be there.  I trust because....well, I trust, just because I trust.  See you tomorrow - for now I'm going to stretch some large canvases.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Part Two-Working Backwards on Visions

It's been a curious week working on four paintings that came to me in a Vision - full blown (but not easily adaptable to my process...see earlier posts).  A Vision is a willow-the-wisp when it comes to getting it down in concrete form.  Waking with the image in my head, I knew I would probably fail - too etherial, too much in the dream state.  So, I went back to sleep.  That's dangerous.  Happily, the Vision locked itself in pretty well and I sat for a bit, eyes closed, dissecting the layers of paint, setting them in my inner eye as though they were open pages on my Mac screen.  Hmmmm.  That was a new experience.  I am so NOT analytical - never thought of actually mentally dissecting work!  Maybe Syed's wearing off on me!  Still, not ready to actually get to it, I wandered around, physically and mentally, for a while.

So, here are two of the pieces.  Are they the Vision?  Well, close.  But, they are definitely sketches for a direction I have been wanting to go for some time...guess my subconscious just decided I needed a kick-start.

Echos I

Echos II

Poppies for Auction

Coming up this Saturday, Sept 25, Winston-Salem, NC - "Going Once, Going Twice" auction to benefit Piedmant Craftsmen. I can't be there - doing the Common Grounds Art Birmingham show in MI - but I'll be hoping they do well on my latest gardenscape, "Poppies". It's 24" x 30", acrylic on board, in simple clear ash frame.

Poppies for Piedmont

Gorgeous House in Savannah for Sale

OK, I'm not the real estate agent and have NO vested interest in this house, BUT I do know the house and it is to die for!  The owner is a friend of mine and her taste is impeccable, creative and she and her husband have made this home like stepping into an art film, and all with a pinch of Scandanavian flair - while still having a universal appeal.  The location is right next to a gorgeous old park, complete with the moss hung oaks and old iron fence!  If you have any interest in moving to Savannah, don't miss this opportunity to live in a dream!  You can call Gail Levites Selling Real Estate with Keller Williams Downtown Savannah, 912-232-8580.

On other things....here in NC the days are still hot in the 90s, but the nights are wonderfully comfortable and we can sleep with all the windows open again.  I'm at work on a group of four 24" x 24" paintings called Echos.  I hope to get the pics up tomorrow - varnish drying today on two.

For those of you near Winston-Salem, I will also be posting the pic of the gardenscape painting I did for the  Going Once, Going Twice auction for the Piedmont Craftsmen to be held Sat, Sept 25 (coming right up). Check on this site tomorrow for the pic.

Gotta run for now...time's galloping by!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sometimes Backwards Doesn't Work

Breaking into pattern, destroying the flow, jumping the groove can disturb one's life in subtle ways.  I was rolling along, really into painting gardens, botanical themes just pouring out of me, blooming like they were July in a Friday Harbor meadow, loose and buzzing with movement, life, sun, rain...my process of beginning with texture and color birthing visions of poppies, iris, fields of wild grasses working like second skin, third eye, fingers like dancers, quick, weightless, singing memories.  Then, stepping off the ride, off to do a show - mode reversal to the max - out of my subconscious and into the now of connecting with audience - and by that "now" I am not talking about the Now of Now - the zen flash that comes with touching someone's heart or mind with the painting they are gazing at - that grace filled speechless slow-motion conversation of souls when it matters not if it culminates in sale - matters only that the connection happened.  No, not that "Now".  The small n now is that space I often find myself in at a show - the polite but forgettable "beautiful work thank you great colors thank you hmmm nice thank you i'll be back great thank you - (oh god, is it 5 o'clock 6 o'clock dinner over yet?).  Small n now is death to the artist, to connection.  It is equivalent to drinking hemlock with your (maybe not) free bagel and dirty water coffee at the check-in table.  It is equivalent to stabbing the words "beautiful work great colors hmmmnice i'll be back" with a rapier and putting them and their speakers into the ragged, stained Bag of Trys hanging at your side (perhaps grafted there - no need anymore for the shoulder strap).

So, when I returned from the show, the garden energy petered out, I busied myself with Other Things - that would be all the stuff you dread about FB - I cleaned the fridge today, yuck! Did anyone see the red sweater I left at the...etc.  Then my muse returned, thank you Muse, and in the form of a Vision.  A Vision is when an idea erupts, full blown and crystal clear, into my mind.  This is not a frequent occurrence and it's a good thing.  Sounds like a great thing, right?  What's to do but get it down?  Not a great thing, and here's why, which brings me to the title of this post - Sometimes Backwards Doesn't Work.

I've written before, about my process of putting down texture and color, tuning in and waiting, looking for what evolves out of this method.  Something virtually always comes bubbling forth, inspiring a train of thought/work, energizing me.  The energy usually stays with me when I take the work to a show and enter into the small n now, naturally lifting me into the Now of Now.

The Vision doesn't fit well into this paradigm.  So.  How to get the Vision down without destroying it in the process?  And that is where I am today.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hydrangia at Alexandria

 Hydrangia - one of my favorite works on paper, sold at Alexandria Art Fair this past weekend. We lucked out with the weather, having rain Sat night and a bit Sun morning. Took a little scenic tour around Fredricksburg on Mon after staying in the very fun and new Marriot Courtyard downtown. Now it's back to work for Birmingham Common Grounds in two weeks.

"Here's to Now" Ugly Casanova

And "here's to NOW"!  What more do we have, and how do you want to spend it?  I just read that our country is having an epidemic of depression!  Are you breathing?  Are you eating?  Don't be depressed - whatever you have is more than someone else has!  Say "Thankyou" outloud, louder, louder, till you believe it.  Then go do something for someone else.  Doesn't have to be much...a smile is often enough for the smiler and the smilee.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Rest of the Process

Having finished the 12 x 12 canvases pictured in an earlier post, I moved on to a quartet of larger work - each piece is 16"x32".  This shows a bit of the progress - here I am into the 3rd or 4th layer, building texture and basic composition of shapes and flow.  Of course I always prefer, when I do a work in a form meant to hang together, that the entire work sells.  But I also try to make it possible to pluck one or two pieces out so that they work as pairs or singly.

 Here the flower shapes are emerging - looking like hollyhocks, loosely interpreted.  Within the texture and color I am almost always looking for a certain mood issuing forth from memory, or as a reflection of memory.  I paint to leave as much room as possible for the viewer's memories, sparked by my work, to flood in.  When the viewer is able to find his/her own memory in the painting, the conversation is complete.
 This is the most right hand side of the quartet - very textural, very colorful.  The narrow shape of the piece keeps it from being overwhelming.  It is rich and intimate close up, soft and quiet from a distance.

This is the most left hand side of the quartet.

You can see all four pieces by clicking here.