April 30, 2006

Promoting promo

A year and a half ago Aaron made me a handsome promo email. He took six of my paintings, formatted them together with my website address in the middle. Clear, concise and to the point. All I had to do was write a few words of introduction about myself and my interest in the gallery I am querying. For a year and a half I thought about it, mulled over what to say, gathered a few email addresses of galleries around the world I might be interested in pursuing, and did basically nothing. It sat there on my desktop, waiting.

Then this past week, because my studio is invaded with builders and building supplies and my entire house is in a state of upheaval, I sent a few out. I’m not completely satisfied with how I introduced myself, will have to tweak it some, but it is better than not sending it. My first impulse was to say, basically, “I’m a strong and unique artist; take a chance on someone you don’t know.” But I didn’t, of course.

Self-promotion is difficult, at best. Not something I enjoy. Most of my gallery connections have been through direct contact or recommendations. One gallery owner in New York saw my work at a framer’s and we had a fairly long, good relationship, until she shifted to show only Fluxus artists. Several others have been through friends. One enduring connection came from a gallery owner searching on the internet. It is still difficult for me to initiate the business part of making art. But it has to be done. And with the added pressure of needing to pay for fixing my house, I was finally (finally!) able to send out some promo emails.

(The "still in progress" blurb goes at the top!)


Posted by leya at 07:12 AM | Comments (1)

April 29, 2006

Thoughts in a tenuous time

Sue left what was, for me, a thought provoking comment recently. "Being actively engaged in the world is an anti-aging activity." So then my mind started churning, when going down into my studio alone to paint, "I am working for world peace. I am ending the crisis in the Middle East when I paint alone in my studio, stopping global warming when I paint alone in my studio, ending the possibility of another World War when I paint alone in my studio." And I do believe this.

Painting, and all the arts, are not at their best as social statements alone. They work on a deeper level, affect people in unseen, unspeakable ways. They are a necessity for a decent society. Artists work not for the money alone but for the money to be able to continue making their art. Art is a profound element of communication.

And I can only remind myself over and over now as the mounting cost and stress of fixing the criminal mistakes of the original builder of my house continues: I’m lucky to have such a beautiful house in this amazing setting and to be able to be making paintings here. It could be much worse.

Posted by leya at 03:13 PM | Comments (2)

April 22, 2006

Another day; another artist

Today was the graduation ceremony for NSCAD students. Lots of very happy faces. Even with the world in as much instability as it seems these days, I still believe art can make a positive difference. And obviously, so do the graduating students.

An honorary degree was given to Betty Woodman, a ceramic artist of renown, who is about to open a retrospective exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I wasn’t familiar with her work before today but am intrigued by what she had to say. She addressed the women in the audience directly as she felt they had more obstacles to face as artists. And her experience is as a woman artist. She began by saying she is seventy-five years old, married, raised two children and never stopped making art. The art was her first priority. She would go into the studio as soon as the children were off to school, before washing dishes or making the beds. And maybe the dishes and beds were never attended to that day. The art always came first. She has always been passionate about her work and the passion is expressed as integrity, her own personal, honest search and discovery. That integrity can only enrich the experience of people who connect to her work.

Betty Woodman certainly didn’t look seventy-five. Her hair was dark brown (yes, I know, I do it too!), she was lively and smartly dressed. So maybe we need to revise our thoughts of what aging is, but that’s another topic (although I do think being involved in making art does keep a person young: living on the edge). She’s a good role model for anyone, in any occupation. Her dedication and focused passion are inspiring.

So the message is be honest. I know the statistics aren’t so great for being a successful artist. And government funding is getting even more insecure. If you can’t do anything else (because it's a difficult path and needs to be a considered choice), then make art with all your heart, passion and integrity.

Posted by leya at 06:22 PM | Comments (1)

April 21, 2006

It's a wrap!

Yesterday I didn’t turn my computer on until 4 pm. And I was home all day! AND I still had work to do on my taxes! It’s been that hectic! The building project is progressing. It’s absorbing as well. I’m just glad I found the rot before it took over the house. At least it’s being fixed. But my life is disrupted, for sure.

Lila likes it, though. She gets up every morning looking for the workers, eager for them to arrive and drop gloves and tools so she can run off with them. She especially likes to chew plastic bags and insulation.

It will probably be another two weeks before I have my house back in order. Meanwhile I’ve been taking lots of photos as the project evolves. They've wrapped the east end of my house in blue tarp because it's been raining a lot (and cold) and the wind is intense. This way they can keep working:




Of course, Lila wanted to help keep the tarp in place:


And then there are the renovation incidentals from the inside:



Posted by leya at 08:11 PM | Comments (2)

April 16, 2006

What's in a square?


My house is wrapped in blue plastic; it’s been raining off and on for a couple of days; Lila and I have had three days away from the excitement of my building project; and I’ve been working every morning in my studio. My main focus right now is sixteen small (6” x 6”) canvases. I want to include most of them in my exhibit at the Anna Leonowens Gallery June 12. I have time, but I feel pressure because there is little possibility that I will have much freedom to work over the next few weeks. These little paintings are going well. I’m finding I am enjoying working on these pieces. After my seven foot canvases, the size feels good. And the square format is much more suited to my sensibilities (in this size) than the 3” x 5” pieces I had been doing (for auctions and donations). There is something about a square that appeals to me. Not sure what it is. Maybe it’s the ability to turn it, and turn it, and turn it until it settles down.

Posted by leya at 04:48 PM

April 15, 2006

House report

My life has turned upside down (again!). This time it's my house. What was supposed to be a little renovation job (putting windows in my studio and living room on the lake side) turned out to be a major catastrophe! When they opened the living room wall, we discovered rot. The windows weren't calked properly, if at all. One-third of the wall is rotten and needs to be replaced. And the house is only ten years old! I had a lousy builder, to say the least. So it's been a bit absorbing.

Lila has loved it. Lots of company; lots of excitement. The workers love her too. I think I am doing it right this time. The workers are concerned about how I am, being careful to ask me what I need to make it easier, keeping things clean. When they asked me how I was still smiling with all this chaos, I told them I am enjoying the company! Expensive company! So far, I’m not worrying too much. It has to be done. It’s that important. They are working their way up the wall. It seems there are several sources of leaks, so the new windows won't be going in for a while yet. All the windows on the lake side of the house are now boarded up so falling siding (chunks of stucco) won't hit them. From my living room I see plywood and tarp. No more lake-view for a bit.




Meanwhile, I’ve cleared a enough space in my studio to continue painting—through all of this!

Posted by leya at 11:26 AM | Comments (1)

April 14, 2006

Gallerie Saltum

Thora, the director of the Gallerie Saltrum, sent me a photo of my paintings hanging there. It’s the gallery Elin connected me to in Denmark. I am eager to follow the paintings.


Elin has also started a blog about art: ARTFORMUM. Well worth a stop in for a chat. (I think that is her painting around the corner in the gallery.)

Posted by leya at 12:50 PM | Comments (4)

April 09, 2006

Black is a color

Synchronicity is a strange thing. I made a commitment to exhibit my large paintings (and I have quite a few piled up now) at the Art College’s Anna Leonowens Gallery in May or June (not sure of the date yet). And I decided I needed something different to go along with the usual colors (red/blue/yellow/green). And decided on Indigo, which seems to be black (but IS Indigo). And of course the association is to Robert and his recent death. And of course I think about him when I am painting and always have. He was such a strong influence. He often gave valuable critiques and was also very enthusiastic about my work, especially the recent paintings. I’d send him photographs and we would talk about what was happening in the work. It was always helpful. But in typical Robert style, he didn’t understand why I valued his input so much.

I plan to put this “black” painting in the exhibit. I have also been working on a pale green painting. It’s a triptych. I will have the green and a blue triptych (which was a long struggle in its production) and three diptychs (the black, a red and a yellow; all pieces came together quickly). And then some small (very small: 6” x 6”) pieces. (I think the contrast will be interesting.) At this point, even with only a month’s notice, it feels like the colors and sizes of this exhibit will be balanced.

Meanwhile the green painting has been an long obsession for me. I’ve asked several people who’ve seen it for input. The main question has been about one area that felt too busy but was, in itself, very interesting. Most people liked it, but I still felt uncomfortable. So today, I bit the brush (so to speak, especially since I don’t use brushes!) and calmed it down. And it looks so much better. The bottom line seems to be: when I need to ask, obviously it is not right. When a painting is right, it feels right and that’s it.

Posted by leya at 11:45 AM | Comments (3)

April 08, 2006


My friend Robert died on April 1. A fitting day, for a man who saw the irony of life and little of the joy, yet had a wicked sense of humor and sharp perception. He called himself “philosophically challenged.” He did not have an easy life nor an easy death. But with the help of his compassionate caregiver, Cynthia, and her team, it feels like he made peace with himself, with his life and death, at the very end.

As he instructed before he died, Cynthia is going to pack up and send a pile of books he left me. He’s famous here for the books he sends me. They are almost always one’s I enjoy reading and I also enjoy passing them on to friends. I will miss our phone calls, our conversations and I will miss the boxes of books he sent. But I am very glad he is not suffering any more.

I feel his presence at night. We still have some thoughts to exchange. It’s not painful. But very very sad.

Posted by leya at 04:31 PM | Comments (6)

April 02, 2006

After three years of thinking about it

I read on a Honda Element Owner’s Club site that 75% of Element owners have dogs. So first I got the dog. As of yesterday, I have the Element. Now all I need is the IPod!


Not much in my life these days is well planned. I think about things and suddenly they happen. Last week a friend said she saw my car (the one I’ve been talking about maybe buying) in the lot at Colonial Honda. So we called them; the young man who talked to me made a sweet offer; I looked at their cars and now I have mine.

The same with Lila. I was thinking about a dog but wasn’t ready and I certainly wasn’t going to get a puppy in the middle of winter. But then, my dentist told me about a breeder of Portuguese Water Dogs (the breed I had been thinking about because they are hypoallergenic) in Chester; I went to look and fell in love with Lila’s (then pregnant) mom.

And again, I’ve been thinking about putting more windows (facing the lake) in my studio, talked to my favorite builder (on and off over the past year). Now he says he can start Tuesday. So . . . it must be the right time!


Posted by leya at 06:34 PM | Comments (4)