Holding Back the Horses

To distract myself from all the tooth pain I’ve been dealing with lately (I’m in dental hell), I’ve been working hard on my upcoming show. 

I’ve been juggling various projects at once. This makes it difficult to cross things off my to-do list, but that’s how it’s been playing out. If I was smart, I’d break these things down more so I could check these things off and feel a sense of accomplishment. Instead, my list just stays long, getting longer, with no end in sight.

I’m working on the last four oil paintings now. Two of them are aerial abstracts of the desert, which will make five in total. That’s not counting the two little watercolors. For now, the backgrounds and the roads are done, but they still need all the colored rooftops and greenery. I’d say that part takes the longest, especially the greenery. Those little trees and bush-dots are kinda torturous. 

Then I have two others going. Those are predominately sketched out onto the panels but not yet painted. One is a school bus buried in the dirt. The other one is a kind of rabbit house thing by a Joshua Tree and an outdoor bathtub with mountains in the distance. 

And meanwhile, I’ve been putting together these special promotional packages that will include small posters (19 x 13-inch, one-sided prints of the largest painting). It will come in a box that looks like it’s made of distressed wood with a postcard and a vial of desert sand marked with coordinates. It will include some other goodies too, like a pocket compass, some sunscreen, chapstick, and an interesting pencil made out of a tree branch. Huh? Yeah, you’d have to see it. 

This package will go to a few critics and VIPs. Then the rest of the printed posters will be available at the show for free. I also created a logo for the show that I think works well. I’m going to stick that on the top of the box I think.

Aside from that, I’ve been doing photoshoots around town in an attempt to gather preliminary work for the drawing installation that will go on one of the gallery walls. Some of the photos I’m taking will be printed, and some are just resource material for sketches. I still have a couple more outings yet to do. But here are a couple of the shots from my day in the park.

I wasn’t able to frame all my watercolors here in town, so I have to take them all to LA to my longtime framer, Jeff Kies, in Glendale. He’s the only one I trust anyhow. 

I tried to take the watercolors to the frame shop here in town, but it didn’t work out. I explained how I wanted them framed, but they told me how my way wouldn’t last but a few years before the paper would start to curl up. I happened to have a piece in my car that Jeff framed about 10 years ago, so I brought it in to show them. The woman who was helping me looked at it, perplexed. She said they could do it that way (said she’d been a framer since the 1970s, and she kept calling me “Hon”), but kept making excuses about how it wasn’t the “best” way. Finally, I said I’d think about it, took my stuff, and left. We definitely weren’t the right match. I’d rather drive back and forth to LA and pay a framer I can fully rely on.

Some recent bad news, by the way. I was rejected by Yaddo again. I’m pretty disappointed but not surprised. They sent a mass email a few weeks back saying they got a record-breaking number of applicants this season. I knew then I’d probably be turned down—not that the chances are good to begin with, but then the official news came yesterday. One can only apply there every other year, which I believe I have been for many years now. I’ve only been accepted to their waiting list once, and I think I was tenth in line for it. That was a few years ago, and of course, that never came to be. 

I’m also waiting on another pending residency application that should come in around mid-April. That one is just as hard (or harder) to get into because they offer way fewer slots. But my fingers are still crossed for it.

But I was so hoping I’d be able to make the happy announcement in my spring newsletter that I was finally going to be doing an artist’s residency at the prestigious and famous Corporation of Yaddo. Now I feel like I could have presented a better proposal, given better image samples, or done something better. But maybe it was entirely out of my control. I just needed lady luck on my side.

Later that day, I took another look at the MacDowell Colony guidelines. It talks about how they no longer require letters of recommendation. I was like, whoa. I always felt like that was maybe holding me back, even though I have some pretty damn great letters. That might be the case with Yaddo, but MacDowell seems to see this as a stumbling block for some applicants. In fact, their website also states something about waiving the application fee if you have financial hardship. And they make a lot of inclusivity points, mentioning people of different gender identities and such. How nice!

It’s been a long time since I’ve tried MacDowell. It all seemed pretty encouraging to me and made me feel better about things. So, I think I will apply there again. The application cycle doesn’t start until September. That’s kinda perfect timing. Once I finish the work for this show, I plan to change things up anyhow. 

I’m super excited about the things I want to try moving forward—new abstract experiments. I have had a lot of brain synapses firing lately, but because I have to finish the work for the show, I’ve had to hold back the horses. I think that’s okay though. It kinda reminds me of the excitement I used to have as a drummer—that feeling I’d get before a performance. I’d have to contain that energy and let it unload in a skilled and controlled manner, and all the while, I’d love every minute of it. That’s such a lovely memory. I’m glad I just had that memory because my music memories are usually all so bittersweet.

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