Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Little bit of pie before Thanksgiving

This pie I was about to eat was in the works six months ago. I had no idea I was making it but I sure was excited while talking about it and getting ready for it. Little did I know how good it would taste. The recipe started with my wife saying “We should run the half marathon in Philadelphia.” Right off the bat I said we should double the recipe! What is the point of running a half marathon when you can do the whole thing? It’s like making a killer pie-crust and not having a yummy filling for it.

As we all know new recipes require you to read the ingredients and make sure you have everything, then figure out how long it takes. I went down the list of things you’d need for a marathon: two feet; check, two legs; check, health;…well I’m breathing…check, and six months to train. I do have the six months, finding the time to train within those six months was a different story. I gathered my feet and fitted them with a new pair of running shoes, dressed my legs in shorts and set out to train. Running was going well while building up the mileage then came “work.” I was going to Kentucky to install a mural, then travel some of the southern states. Kentucky is home of Bourbon trail and the south is where they fry everything. “This is going to be easy,” I thought.  Then, more work abroad in Switzerland came. Cheese and wine and food smothered with heavy cream sauces. Can you see my weakness here? Anything that has to do with not training for a marathon! Through the months I ran but nothing like the recipe required.

Four days before the big day…Thanksgiving, I was in Philadelphia standing at the starting gate, not convinced I was going to run a marathon. I thought I might but I knew it probably wasn’t going to happen. During my test runs my knee wouldn’t let me go further than nine miles. The correct amount of distance for a marathon is 26.2 miles. I did not have all the ingredients just two good legs. But with a dash of determination, a cup of cheer, and a big gulp of pride, I made a wonderful humble pie and ran a half  marathon. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I want to be a collector too!

The other day I was perusing CaFE, a call for entry site for artists, in the pursuit of gallery exhibitions and request for proposals. I came upon a little gem of a show “2010 Collectors Choice.” For a small fee of $35.00 an artist can send three of their finest works of art to be viewed by 25 unnamed collectors. The collectors choose the art and the artist wins because they get to put their masterpieces in front of the eyes of collectors. Maybe it is a good opportunity for some but I’m not convinced.

I had a great opportunity like this once. My work was being rented at a great venue; the possibilities for me were enormous. The Hollywood crowd, who make millions, would see it. It would have been seen by millions of people. My Gosh! If you do the math, that’s billions of people with a net worth of a gazillion dollars looking at my art. I was beaming, I had the same feeling I get when I buy a lotto ticket and the jackpot is more than the national deficit

To make a long story short, it was seen by the Hollywood elite and millions of  television fans. The publicity was great and maybe even priceless, I later found out how much it was worth…the price of a painting. When all the glamour and usefulness of my work was gone, I received part of the leased art collection back. I later came to learn a prominent “art collector” enjoyed one of my pieces and “kept” it for their art collection. I guess I would collect things too if I didn’t have to pay or return the items.

This got me thinking… I was wondering if I could have plumbers come over, pay me $35.00 and I’d let them put a new toilet in my bathroom. Think of all the times I would use it, plus my friends would use it when they came over. Theoretically it could be used over a million times by thousands of people. If I have an open studio, that alone could attract hundreds of people. Then I started thinking what if I worked my way through the yellow pages; next roofers. Do you know how many people drive by my house? These are good perspective customers looking at all the sculptures I have littered through out my yard. They slow down trying to decide if its art or am I the white trash neighbor that is bringing down the value of homes in the neighborhood. Maybe I should skip all the repairs and call a realtor to have them charge people $35.00 to bid on a house owned by an artist whose art work is owned by a famous people with lots of money. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Interview with Janis Galbraith Fitch

For this lunch and interview I sat down with Janis Galbraith Fitch at the Station Tap Room in Downingtown. When I emailed Janis to set up the lunch she was so excited and told me how she had read the other interviews and was honored. I thought Oh Crap! She knows all the questions and has all the answers rehearsed. Like all interesting people the conversation was all over the place and we shared many stories along with many laughs.

One thing that we shared was that we both had just come back from Cape Cod. I reflected on how quaint and beautiful Martha’s Vineyard was. She had just returned from her third visit to the Cape this summer. Her enthusiasm for the beach, the rocks, the sea glass, and the light could not be contained. Yet, all the pictures were saved on her iPhone that she often shared. I loved her enthusiasm for her passion which is the subject matter expressed in her art. Beaches, beach houses with the blue skies, Cape Cod sun and shadows painted with blues and fuchsias.  That’s just some of her paintings. Now place a cow within the painting on the beach! I know…but really it isn’t that odd. She has been painting this unique combination for over 20 years. I’ll let Janis tell it, hoping that her enthusiasm comes across in words. Make sure you smile and think of that warm summer sun as you read.

Janis Galbraith Fitch
 Interview Questions 

How did you get started making art?
I always drew. I always drew as a kid. I would draw my dolls, my backyard.

Did you receive any formal art training? Where and what did you major in? 
Yes, I went to the University of Delaware. I started as a math major. My dad thought I was going in as a math major. Before I ever had to take a math class I changed to art. My sophomore year there they got a BFA program. So I entered that and there was 16 of us I think and so I got my BFA in drawing and painting. 

Describe your work in general for the readers?
 Cows, and the beach…and sometimes its the cows on the beach, and bright colors.  The cows are not wearing sunglasses, they belong there. I guess its kind of pop. I don’t know how to describe it. 

What is your medium? I use oils because, that's what I was taught in my painting classes at the U of D.  But I also think it's because they blend easily, I can get intense colors with them, and I can get a nice shiny surface with them. And the smell of oils is the best.

When did you start placing cows on beaches? 
When I lived in Texas. I lived in Texas for 2 years. 1984-1986 I think. Right before we lived in Texas I lived in Pennsylvania and I took pictures of all these cows and I really was homesick. So I was looking at all these cows and I was also looking at these pictures of Cape Cod, I also love Cape Cod.  I thought it would be really cool. Wouldn’t it look good if I put a cow at the bottom of this hill on the beach? And there is something about the cows, their black and white; well usually they are black and white and the beach because the colors of Cape Cod are so vivid that they go well together. I’m kind of obsessed with them. I do paint cows that aren’t on the beaches. I get away from the cows and I have to start painting them.

  You really capture the sunlight and warm glow of the Cape Cod sun. What tip do you have for artists to capture that?
Go at the right time of day. I go around and take pictures, I take a lot pictures in the early morning before there are a lot of people on the beach or cars, but my favorite time is in the afternoon when the sun is lower and it just has that warmth. Cape Cod just looks like that. You have to remember there’s a lot of yellow in your white. 

What are your thoughts on perfection?

Perfection? Um… I have no thoughts on perfection. Obviously I haven’t reached perfection yet because I’m still painting so sometimes you get to a point and you think its great but I wouldn’t say it is perfection. 

How do you decide when an artwork is done?

I knew you were going to ask that, I saw it on the blog and I was like CRAP! Well I was thinking about it and I will look at my painting and like analyzing it. Like this one I am working on right now that I have these beach chairs and they are looking over the Provence town line and you can see all the monuments and I really love that I changed the sky, it was awesome! And I went back downstairs after dinner and looked at it and I was like Crap! The monument is crooked! I mean little things like that. I wrote it down because I wasn’t going to get everything out that night, so I make a list. And I say ok, monument bothers me. It’s crooked, and I have to remember to put the bright light on the side of this chair. I have all these things, little tasks that I have to finish with the painting before it will be acceptable. So when I can look at the painting and there’s nothing that screams at me that says this is bad, I think it’s done. There’s always the time limit. 

Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
Gosh, I don’t know. I guess everybody has left a mark. 

What inspires you? 
I never really know, usually Cape Cod and cows and I always have to have my camera with me. We’ll be driving along and I’ll say, “Stop Stop Stop!” And it’s just sunlight on a building and I know I have to paint it, and sometimes we’ll pass something and I’ll think I should have taken a picture of that, so 5 min down the road I’ll say Richie can we turn around there’s something I really want to do.

Do you have any habits or morning routines you do before going to the easel?

Yes, indeed I do. I wake up, I have 2 cups of coffee; I go to the YMCA and work out for 2 hours. Then I come home and I try not to go on the Internet, so I shower and paint. If I go on Facebook I paint much later. 

What are you eating right now?

Well I have a ham and brie Panini and its very very good, very creamy, truffle fries, and it tastes like a little bit of garlic but not too much.

What is your favorite food?

Probably ice cream

Your proudest moment?

It’s not a moment, my 2 daughters I guess, them turning out so good. I’m very proud of them.

  What was your mother right about?
I was hoping you’d ask this one because my mother is totally right about this. She always said I never feel older than 18, like in my mind, I always feel like I am 18.  And I thought yeah right, Well I never feel older than 22.  I never liked 18 because I was too shy, so maybe 24. I can relate to everybody that is young. My body is maybe not cooperating. I look in the mirror sometimes and I’m like oh my God it’s my grandmother. But she was right, you never feel older than a certain age. 

Money is OK, but it isn’t what life is about.
What is it about?
 Life is about relationships.

Where did you grow up?

New Jersey

Two words you would use to describe your ideal self?

Happy, Successful

You collect? 

Sea glass and rocks. 

Something that is important on your nightstand? 

My romance novel

Your strangest possession? 
I guess my rocks, I guess that’s kind of weird

An artist whose work you highly respect? 

Edward Hopper.

Two things you did today
Drank a __ beer, exercised.


What was your first word?
I was in Little Abner, the first play I ever saw was Jesus Christ Superstar.




Plane ride 
to France

Piece of art you sold
A picture of the water and some boats, sold it at a little gift shop in Cape Cod.

You think I would have realized by now that these conversations take at least three hours. This one was no different. We had a window seat at the Station Tap Room, like its name it is situated across from Downingtown Train Station. During our conversation many passengers boarded and disembarked (never really got to use that word.) The food here is awesome, simple yet gourmet along with a great rotating beer selection. We chatted over a homemade chorizo and goat cheese sandwich and a ham with a triple crème panini. I insisted on getting the truffle fries.

I looked at my watch feeling bad that we had to end it and get on with the remainder of the day. Her nerves were squelched form the pint of Weizen Beer (if you ever need a good hang man word.) So I took advantage of the opportunity and played a speed round of questions. She thought I was easy on her.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Power of Halloween or Lack of

It started Sunday when I visited the mall. I had been locked up in our house with out of town relatives and the storm hit. Maybe I was a bit unprepared but granted it was October and I was not expecting snow.  Without power, trees down and an unforeseen amount of snow expected, it was like camping! Yet, we had a kitchen with an electric stove, a living room with a plasma TV, a bedroom with an extra thick queen bed, and nothing to do but play monopoly. Shall I teach the kids “Greed is good,” or “play fair?” I gobbled up properties with every move, trying to get three consecutive colors. My kids’ luck seemed to alternate between them as they hoarded every third color of the property I tried to acquire. The game continued for four hours until the sun set and our light was dim. Their bank accounts reflected the fading sun as they landed on my properties and paid their rent.

This is not the point of my story, I digress. We were at the mall, partly because relatives had to shop and partly because we had a bit of cabin fever. As you may have noticed in recent blogs, I do not get out of my studio much, nor do I like to. I did not realize that the mall does not follow the Gregorian calendar and celebrate the established day of Halloween. It was Sunday the 30th of October and the mall was packed with: cute babies dressed as peas, and teenagers in ripped jeans, striped shirts and spiked hair, and  excessive fake piercings. Excuse me, but that is not a costume! That is how we dressed when we rebelled in the 80’s. Maybe it was fashion and sold to us. But it didn’t hang on a hook and come in a sealed bag ready to wear. It originated as an expression of creativity. So I weaved my way through Transformers, Harry Potters, and Bratz Doll look-a-likes while thinking of my first high school dance and hearing Depeche Mode in my head. I wondered if the negotiating and deal making we experienced in Monopoly earlier would resonate with my kids. Maybe they would be creative in making a decent life for themselves. I yearned for the days of 100 Grand Bars and Payday as I watched the mall walkers happily take handfuls of Sweet Tarts.