Thursday, July 21, 2011

If you should have a lovely garden....

This was taken about a week ago. I couldn't do this today because it's about a billion degrees outside right now. But it makes for a perfect excuse to stay in and catch up on blogging. The main purpose of this post is to share some pictures from the National Garden Festival in Buffalo, NY. But I'm also trying to make sure I post artwork here, too, even though posting artwork is MUCH more scary than posting pictures of gardens. So here was an afternoon I spent sketching in my own gardens (which, I might add, have finally filled out and started to impress me!). Cinders and Bandit were more than thrilled to join me.

If you love gardens and live near Buffalo (and it's not a billion degrees out), I would highly recommend a trip to the Garden Festival. There are gardens open all over Buffalo (city and suburbs) on Thursdays and Fridays and then a featured neighborhood open on Saturdays and Sundays all throughout the month of July.

Dan and I headed out last Friday and toured several gardens in the Buffalo suburbs.

There are "rules" to follow, like don't bother the gardeners if they're in the middle of something, don't touch anything, etc... I spent a lot of time walking around with my hands behind my back because it is almost impossible for me to not touch things in a garden. This was kind of funny because all of the gardeners were more than happy to take you on a tour and answer any questions. Not one of them was "in the middle of" anything, other than entertaining the visitors. One of them ripped a branch off her curly willow tree and gave it to me when I mentioned I loved the tree. She told me to just plant it in the ground and I should have a curly willow, too very soon. Another gave me a rock from his garden that I mentioned I liked. I could not have been more excited about bringing home a rock and a stick from the garden tour- Dan found this all very amusing.

I have also fallen in love with mini hostas. I was kind of interested before the tour, and I had purchased two this year, but I can't believe how many different kinds there are!

We stayed at a fantastic place called the Roycroft Inn in East Aroura. Saturday morning we went for a quick hike to the Eternal Flame waterfall, which was totally amazing. Then we headed on to Lancaster, the featured neighborhood for that day.

This is the garden of Two Chicks and a Rooster. A little sign in the back yard said "If you should have a lovely garden, you should have a lovely life". YES.

They had awesome gardens and free slushies, which can really contribute to the loveliness of life in the summer.

AND they had a man cave. And here's where I lost him.

Next we went to visit "Ron the Recycler" as he is known by his neighbors. He finds old things and turns them into something else, like this dog rock complete with a lump of coal nose and driftwood bone.

Ron sent us to his sister and brother-in-law's house where I found a new project for Dan. Isn't this a great potting shed?

There were lots more gardens that we toured, and I can not wait to visit again. Thanks to all the gardeners for opening up your homes and a special thanks to the ones giving out sticks, rocks, and ice!

Friday, July 1, 2011

It spoke to me...

This is the summer I am planning to really start focusing on getting my art "out there". I want to put more time into making paintings and learning how to market myself as an artist. All week I've been researching, sketching, planning out improvements to the Etsy store, the website and even starting up a Facebook page for Bad Cat Studios. So on this first day of July, I bought a piece of someone else's artwork. I've checked my plan over and over and that was definitely not on the list of things to do.

I saw it on Tuesday. I had just finished hanging some new paintings at Clear Lakes Animal Wellness in Skaneateles, a veterinary clinic where I display some of my work. I met Dan for lunch and then I planned to do a little bit of research in the Skaneateles galleries. I like to get pricing and framing ideas and I can usually get inspired to start painting by looking at other people's work. I had so much fun I decided to check out the Cazenovia galleries too. My last stop was The Gallery of CNY.
I was pretty tired by this time and I was only going to walk through quickly and head home. But just as I was heading for the door, I saw something that looked so familiar it stopped me right in my tracks. It was part of the road I grew up on.

The small oil painting by Linda Wesner was called Erie Canal 1, but you probably wouldn't know right away that the Erie Canal was part of the picture unless you knew this road. But I knew it. I knew it like a familiar friend.

This was the road where my family and I started our occasional Sunday morning bike rides to Erie Canal in the summer time. We would bike from there to Chittenango and have breakfast at Burger King (I know, it kind of defeats the whole exercise thing, but it was the 80's. We didn't know any better). There was the little white church and the barn that finally collapsed just last year. The longer I stared at that painting, the more I felt like the artist had painted it directly out of my memory. There was a tiny scrap of an old map showing Green Lake and Round Lake.

When my husband and I were living in an apartment, we had to keep our bikes at my parents' house and we would ride from there to the bike trails at Green Lake State Park.

And in the very bottom corner was a strange little pattern that at first seemed to be part of the road. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was the ghostly image of a canal boat. My grandmother used to take me for walks on the canal and we would look for the remains of the sunken barges that used to float along the waterway.

I didn't buy it right then. Like I said, this was not on my list of things to do. But three days later I had to go back. And now it's hanging in my studio. I spent my day unloading the dishwasher and then looking at the painting... hanging laundry, looking at the painting... weeding the garden, looking at the painting. I did this all day.

And I realized that even though "buying a piece of fine art" was not part of my business plan, maybe it should have been. I had a fantastic experience meeting the gallery owners (if you are in Cazenovia you MUST visit this gallery). They were very down to Earth people that really seemed to love their jobs. They were excited to talk about the artwork, but they were not pushy at all. I felt like I could wander around and look at the paintings without someone hovering over me or watching me from the corner.

But most importantly, I got a reminder of why I want to do this in the first place. As an artist, I want my work to make people happy. I want them to hang it in their homes and feel joy when they look at it. I want them to buy a painting because they feel like that painting belongs with them. I kind of always knew this, but experiencing it for myself was the best inspiration I could have found.