Night time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12

Night time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12
Night Time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12View at Strand Center for the Arts Plattsburgh, NY

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


December 1 Carol
The last faces are coming into being.
Of note, when I began Face to Face on January 21 the sun was returning. Now it is vanishing or not even making an appearance in the afternoon. Even though the faces have been made inside they have always been affected by the vagaries of light. A lot like plein air painting - light could be strong and bouncing around the Compass Printing shop or vanish in clouds then faces are illuminated by a florescent  light. 

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The End Game

Andrea and her sweetie
Tomorrow is December 1. Only two more weeks to finish the capture of Saranac Lake faces.The easel gets packed up for the last time December 12, then Judi will attack the corner with the vacuum and begin to pull the art dust out of the corners of Compass Printing.

I am still not sure exactly how many faces will be included. I do know that as many as there are, it is a lot of individual prints that I am coming up with. Pick up of portrait prints can begin on my open studio weekend December 13 and 14, at my studio in Gabriels.

The other end game is:
I am retiring from Adirondack Artists' Guild as of the first of the year. I have been with the gallery for twelve and half years. The Guilders are my extended family. I will miss the process of working with others, leaning on friends when in need. The coop is a fine structure for learning about human nature. The framing of Face to Face and other commitments will make being a coop member too stretched for me. I will be focusing on my studio work, fundraising and framing for Face to Face. I will still be showing off my work on my studio/gallery wall so do check it out.

Not very different is the departure from Compass Printings front corner where I have been learning about Saranac Lake, people, new and old friends and my self. Being allowed to capture Saranac Lake faces has made me a better artist. That sounds mushy but it is true and for that I am am grateful to everyone. Where else but Saranac Lake could I have pulled off asking about 180 people to sit down for a couple of hours while I made every effort to find and show the person sitting in front of me? What a privilege.
Chris - Yes I did get him to sit!

It still scares me every time I sit down and look at a person. It is not like the landscape painter who says "I can move mountains." Noses belong in a certain place as do eyes, smiles, ears and foreheads. Not everyone is ready to sit, for the process is just as unnerving for the sitter. Eye to eye! When was the last time anyone asked you to do that? It has been a big deal for all concerned.

For volunteering, for sitting still, kinda sorta, and participating in the process, I can not say thank you enough to all of those who sat. Thank you.

See you in Saranac Lake! and Gabriels.

Onward,  Diane

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rounding the turn…

Kathy - August 18, 2014

Here is number one hundred three in the Face to Face: Drawn to Saranac Lake project. Kathy was the very first person who contacted me in January. Why not til August? Life has its turns and it was having turns with Kathy this year. But when I say I hear stories from each person I paint, I strongly suspect Kathy hears more stories. Kathy is a florist. Think, "These roses are to be delivered where?"

Another sign of rounding the turn is finally – after 8 months – the funding has landed in my bank account, clearing up some things and allowing me to replenish colors that have worn down to mere nubbins of color. The grant from NYSCA covers only materials, not time, not travel, not the many hats that I have found myself wearing for this project. Costs are higher too than when I first estimated a year ago. It is part of doing business, but in my mind so unnecessary to have had to wait.

As I prepared more square boards for this months paintings I realized I am over halfway towards what is solidifying into the final number in the 160 to 170 range of participants. Folks are making appointments to sit in October and November – it is September after all. I finish up December 12.
Email me.

All of which means I need to knuckle down and begin the printing process for those who have sat for me so far. I am aiming to have a good number of Face to Face portrait prints ready for pick up during Artist at Work Studio Tour, September 27-28, 10 to 5 each day at my studio in Gabriels.

Fresh Paint, on the St. Lawrence

During Studio Tour, there will be lots of paintings on my gallery wall made this year en plein air in the Adirondacks near and far. Yes, I have been busy. Between faces and the landscape I may have made more than 150 works so far this year.

Visiting my studio is a great opportunity to see the work and fall in love with a piece. A purchase of my work does help the project. Consider buying a painting as giving a mini grant and you get to take home a piece of the Adirondacks. It is a whole lot less bookwork for me than applying for a grant too!

First Color, Great Camp Sagamore - Sold
Stay tuned. Though I say I will make the effort to post more often, life does take its turns.

Artliveslong, D

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Mia: Vincent, do you still want to hear my Fox Force Five joke?
Vincent: Sure, but I think I'm still a little too petrified to laugh.
Mia: No, you wont laugh, 'cus it's not funny. But if you still wanna hear it, I'll tell it.
Vincent: I can't wait.
Mia: Three tomatoes are walking down the street- a poppa tomato, a momma tomato, and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. Poppa tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, and smooshes him... and says, Catch up.
Thanks to Pulp Fiction I will try to Catch up.

Six months into Face to Face, I have made 73 faces.  Six more months to go - I suspect there will be at least that many again by mid-December. July spots are all booked. Only a few left for August which I hope will be teachers and kids. I am very happy with the response to the project. It will be a true snapshot of the variety of people drawn to Saranac Lake in 2014.

One feature of Face to Face was the opportunity to record both actors who are in Pendragon Theatres production of RED by John Logan. Burdette, who is Mark Rothko in the show, wanted a before and after. Tyler graciously sat during Saranac Lake's first Third Thursday Art Walk. There are only three performances left then Burdette will gratefully return to to his hirsute self.

Burdette aka Mark Rothko and Tyler

But that's not all. No, not an info-mercial but – Ketchup.

I am participating in two shows which opened this week. Plein Air: An Adirondack Perspective with myself (pastel), Janet-Marie Yeates (oil), Sarah Yoeman (watercolor) and Frances Gaffney (graphite). Four women, four methods of making plein air images in the Adirondacks. It is in the Widlund Gallery at the Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek NY. Our local public radio station (NCPR) will have a small sampling of the work on line. But nothing takes the place of seeing works up close and live, so head down to North Creek and check out a beautiful visual taste of the Adirondacks while it is up through July 31. We have a reception from 5-7 July 12 to meet the artists. Do come.

The other show is an invitational to explore Lines and Colors. About a dozen North Country artists are exhibiting at Pouring Light Studios in Malone NY. The theme was a retro jump start to produce work that touches on what got each of us involved in making art in the first place using color and line. It is a fun and yummy exhibit. From Karen Davidson's personal explorations in collage to Geoffry Cobb's sly comment on line and color, there are eye opening pieces that engage and challenge the viewer. The exhibit is up until August 9 and is well worth the trip.

That should be enough for one month but there was also an opportunity to help Eric Rhoads' Publisher's Invitational Plein Air Camp in mid- June. I was able to show groups of painters a couple of places to paint close to home, one not on Eric's carefully plotted painting location maps.

Here is finished piece which is hanging in the North Creek exhibit.

Beware. Mosquitoes be here. Plein Air - Pastel -11x14
Then there is the garden, but that would be another story. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Number 64!

At Compass printing with Karen B.s Face to Face portrait.
Karen B. sat this week and sent me this shot of her portrait at Compass Printing. Karen is number 64 – two more today.

I will be taking a break next week to participate in a plein air event here. You may see me around and you will see plenty of easels about.

I will be back at Compass Printing the following week, to continue Face to Face. Call, write or email to book a sitting, or stop in at Compass while I am there.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Mirror Image

Diane - Spring '14 Selfie
Yes this is me. One of my sitters had asked early on if I was doing a portrait of myself. The question jolted me like sticking my finger into an electric socket. I had not given it a thought. Then another sitter – a scientist – asked when I do it, would I turn it around? Another zap.

Here is the answer, with some musings. No I wouldn't turn it around. That would be two mirrors and asking for 14 years of bad luck if I proved less than graceful in my studio, which could be entirely possible. One mirror was enough.

The musing. When I see myself in the mirror what I see is a reverse of the real world. Sure it is what people see in a general way, but the reality is I do not see myself ever the way others do. I look and think of how I look from the moment I first peer in the mirror in the morning to the last time at night, brushing my teeth, as a mirror image.  That is a lot of time working on the reverse image in my head, don't you think? We all do that.

When I make a Face to Face portrait of a person, I am not seeing what their own perception of their own face is, what their mental image was from that morning.  I am working from what I see, not a mirror image.

Does that change how someone reacts to seeing their portrait after being worked on for two hours? I suspect that is a bit of it.

There are other factors. 

Making a portrait in a couple of hours with talk and other distractions is akin to live theatre. Kids want to wiggle, people want to talk, the body wants to be in motion. Some have other things on their mind and are not in the moment. It can be me too, not finding the right color, a bad start to a morning, "a piece of bad potato." Live theatre is no different, every performance is a little different,  timing on or not; a dropped line or all in perfect sequence.

After a couple of hours have gone by in the process of making a portrait, I feel like the person is looking at me from two places – the work and the person. About that time I feel I am real close to the raw but finished piece and I let the sitter look at it. Sit where I have been sitting and look at the image, I say.

This is the moment of truth for me. For the most part I have worked hard to catch the person in the painting, the essence, not every flaw or wrinkle (not enough time), but the person who has chosen to share a couple of hours with me to talk, listen and let me see them.  

I am learning, it doesn't always work. Sometimes that person just doesn't "see" themselves in the work. Hear the sound of the pin prick in the balloon?

I think some of that reaction, is the reality of how we see ourselves, mostly in reverse. Then maybe too I just haven't quite gotten who is there. That will happen.

I promise to always do my best to capture the essence of the person across from me. From there, I work on making best better.
How many do you know?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Tyranny of a Full Moon in April.

Easter will arrive two Sundays from now.

I have returned from my sojourn in much warmer and sunnier climes. It is now mud season in the Adirondacks, and Easter as mentioned before, is two Sundays from now. What's with that and just what does in mean for my Face to Face project? I can't be certain but in Saranac Lake it will mean two things: one can land an airplane on Main Street for Easter vacation. The other is - maybe one cannot - if the Village has its way. (Think major road repair.)

What about Easter and the moon? - one says scratching the head perplexed. Easter has been pledged by the powers that be, to arrive only on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. Consequently school is out and half the population of Saranac Lake is in Florida for the next two weeks. Next year Easter will fall on April 5. Pretty fickle if you ask me.

Bad timing for setting a time to meet Face to Face or maybe just yes, you do want come in and sit. Get away from the muddy driveway, the yard detritus that will need to be taken care of sooner or later, washing the windows to see, yep its mud season out there. Parking is easy because the population has migrated for a couple of weeks and the promised start to road work has been pushed back. So yeah it could be a good thing.

This is my convoluted thinking for April. 

Arnie - February 18
I have sittings starting Tuesday next week for Face to Face.
Call, email or stop in Tuesday, Thursday or Friday and pick a time. Sit for a couple of hours and you will be part of the project. You will get a full size reproduction of the portrait and bragging rights that you participated in Face to Face.

Hillary _ February 24

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spring Break!

Ha spring indeed. We have taken off for warmer climes. It was no mean feat either. The plan was fly out of Saranac Lake Wednesday morning, catch the plane to Mexico in Boston, travel, etc. Adirondack weather decided otherwise. No planes flew out of SL Wednesday OR Thursday. Motivated by the cold and reservations, we pondered options Wednesday and chose to drive in the worst messy snow imaginable to Boston to catch the plane to Mexico Thursday am. Passed several unfortunate drivers on the way. Then it turned to rain after Albany. Home free. Overnight with Son and his wife and took off - late I might add, for deicing, around 10:30 Thursday and we are now here. Ta da!
Sunshine. Mmm.
You can check out a painting I did here a couple of years ago on my website. Hotel el Meson. When travelling not everything is as facile to pop in images with iPad, so you will have to go look there.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bumbling through a Cold

Having a cold that has made me sit still so I will catch up. There are 22 faces captured. One of them,  Karen asked, "What about you?" Of course I will have to do that. Just had not thought about it. Then realized probably at least a couple of them. If not once a month at least every other.

So much for internalizing. Cold medicine is a task master gone awry.

Here are a couple more faces.

Mary Jan. 28

Fred Feb. 25

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Method to the Madness

While working through inventing the method for keeping the parts and pieces of my portrait project together, I was running into a supply issue. I have worked on a particular paper for a long time, Wallis sanded paper. I have bought rolls of it, mounted it on Perfect Mount so the paper is incredibly stable.  This paper, is made by one woman business entrepreneur Kitty Wallis. She does not own a factory but rents space when it time to produce the next batch.

About a year and a half ago I noticed suppliers were "OUT" of the paper. My favorite supplier had no pads left but did have a roll which I promptly ordered.

Then the Face to Face project found its legs. I knew I didn't have enough paper. Online Wallis was red-lined by every supplier. I started investigating,  calling Dakota Arts, my go to source for pastel. They did not know when the paper would be in but really thought it would be produced. Not good enough reassurance. I did not want to start on one paper then switch mid-project.

Larry - January 30
Panic in the back of my mind, I called Dakota again and placed a back order in December.

January slipped through winters icy fingers and suppliers dates for Wallis paper appearance moved to late March. Seriously contemplating this other paper but allowing the procrastination gene its due diligence, I held back on getting samples.

Kathy - February 12
Then, a phone call. Caller ID - Dakota Arts. "Hello Does this call mean what I hope it means?" Yes! Dakota had received a batch of Wallis.  They'd received the rolls but I am allowed to only order one. (The second one is, I hope, my lifetime balance supply.)

The first roll in the studio!
I am in business for the duration of the project. The roll has arrived. The second is on its way. For me, as an artist, having materials is being wealthy.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Plunging Headlong into The Project

Now I am in it there are things that are popping up - like a woman with a stroller in an obstacle course.

Not in panic mode, the flow isn't hard, but it is full.

I have finally gotten my project for the year underway. Face to Face: Drawn to Saranac Lake. 125 - 200 faces in a year. One-foot square images of anyone who would sit for me in Saranac Lake. 

I am working in a small corner of Compass Printing across from the Town Hall.

I have been wanting to do this for a long time. Every time I wrote a request it had been turned down. Each time I tuned it up, made things clearer in my mind what I needed to do, what I wanted to do. The process of a grant is beneficial. The planning, the steps, the parts that you don't want to do but need to are all part of the planning process. Gathering up all the info the parts and pieces is like making a painting. One needs materials and a means to get them - Money. One needs some skills that become sharpened by use. Composition, design, color sense, balance.

Alternatively for a grant - numbers, in-kind services donors, location. Get it all together, dot the i's, cross the t's, balance the numbers. Tell the truth with passion and desire.

I got the grant. First notified in December then officially January 9. Not the money. That is another story.

Location, location, location. I thought I had nailed it, I was dreaming in technicolor about where I would be. It was gonna be terrific. I was starting January 15 then, arrghh, the floor fell out. Got a toe in the door for a different location but the longer I waited to hear the more I knew it wasn't gonna happen. It didn't.

The Chamber of Saranac Lake had a business networking event I decided partake to "Get the word out." Designed some cards with info to give out. When I picked them up at the printer - I knew where I could be. Had to ask, "How about here?" Compass Printing, John, said yes. Awesome! Went to the network event with my cards, with my location and started in "Getting the word out".

The event was just the beginning. Next - contacting those who expressed an interest, start the sign up process. It helps everyone if it is not too spontaneous, though the first portrait was all that. The second was close but the third was a plan. Next is press releases. One thing that really works is Facebook. There are a lot of great friends here and they too are getting the word out, connecting with the various circles that are Saranac Lake and environs.

A big Thank You all goes out to everyone. Now let the sign-ups begin.

First pics up shortly. 

One other thing. It seems the time is about two hours to sit and get your likeness.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

In the beginning: Face To Face

January 21 things actually started to happen. Having found a place to to be and a starter amount of materials to work with, I headed to Compass Printing, my F2F venue.

Unloading my easel and materials, my very first sitter showed up on a whim. Cat, "I came down to see how you were doing." "Come right on in!", said the spider to the fly.  Cat was looking real good like she knew when she got up that day exactly what she would be doing. The color layers up. Blending brings edges together and  I sense the end of how much time that can be given and it is done.
I won't touch things up. It is a direct impression of Cat.
After, she saw the work, "Wow I never realized how much of my father is in me!" A good thing.


Next day I asked my friend Barry to come in and he graciously obliged. And snapped a pic for the record.

While anyone is sitting, there is in and out traffic, printing business. Some folks are immediately curious, others are sort of looking from a distance. The network of people, friends and neighbors is phenomenal. One friend leads to another in conversation, only first names are used and everyone knows which Jim one is talking about. Halfway through Barry's portrait,  Grace came in and signed up for Friday. She bought a hat special just for the sitting. It had a personality of its own. I hope Grace doesn't mind that I aimed for her character vs. the hat.

All in all a good start.


Monday, January 13, 2014


Last but not least: Moonset at Sunrise, Blue Mountain Lake.

SOLD! Moonset  at Sunrise, Blue Mountain Lake - December Calendar Pic

This painting, like all before it has a little backstory. I had the opportunity to be an Artist in Residence at Adirondack Museum last August during the full moon phase. My last morning there, I rose in the dark at 4 am to set up at the edge of the lake. In order to paint in the dark I had searched for and found a neat light set up designed for music stands: LEDs with two lights on goosenecks, battery operated magnetic clip-on base. Someone thought of everything. Light on the painting and light on the box of color.

I had worked at this location the evening before painting on the sunset, so I knew the topography of the spot in the early darkness.

I worked for about 2.5 hours with this scene in the moonlit pre-dawn, then had to quit. The sun was pushing light into the sky and changing things quickly. The breeze started picking up and riffled the mirrored surface of the lake. I wrapped my work in glassine, packed it in and headed back to the cabin for a cup of coffee.

I did not look at this image again for a week. When I opened it up again in the studio, even though the initial color took me by surprise, there was a realization that -  Hey, this one worked.

The calendar is available at my studio and at Adirondack Artists' Guild in Saranac Lake. Like a catalog of works with dates, it is printed on cardstock. All the full moon dates are in it with their old Farmers Almanac names. Some of the original paintings have been sold, some are framed and ready for a new home and some waiting for their frame. Contact me for purchase.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Is Bigger Really Better?

"Promise" 20x24 November Calendar Pic
This piece started out as a smaller plein air painting (11x14) made in the back field of Crystal Springs Dairy. A visitor to the gallery pointed at it once and said, "I would get that if it was bigger." Of course, I did not get her name.

What was great about working this painting larger in the studio in February was the memory of the original, a warm summer day, humid, maybe the sun would come out strong, maybe it would storm. When the early morning clouds lifted and revealed St. Regis, it surprised me for a minute then I quickly placed it in the plein air piece.

Bigger pieces take time. Pastel is one stroke at a time. Color build up is longer. I work across the painting for a couple of layers then break and come back the next day. The painting and myself are never the same with this approach. Re-engaging with the painting after a 24 hours takes a little time. But eventually the rhythm is found and the next stage develops. I work like that for a few sessions. Each time the pace slows a bit more, looking at the work, seeing what it wants, moving in and out of the shadows, into the light. Finding the swathes of flowers that never were in the original smaller piece, then come to a close.

The work has been framed in a lovely gold frame with that crazy clear museum glass. When November comes and the calendar reveals this work, remember the sun will return. That's a "Promise".

"Promise" is hanging out in my studio. Contact me to purchase or go on line to my website:

And, oh yeah, so are the 2014 calendars.