June 19 1998

Rain managed to hold off today until five, showered briefly, then stopped. Now thundering. I gessoed canvas, made a poppy watercolor, got stung by a hornet on the leg as I picked a blackberry branch to go with the blackberry pie. I'll go up to Elise's to get more, but as invariably happens, the motif starts to die as I get ready to paint it. The meaning of still-life.

"Blackberry Blossoms at the Pond"   1998   22 3/4 by 38 1/2 inches   sumi ink on paper

June 24 1998

Lovely day. Elise and I swam at Bert's pond. Our arrival surprised a mother duck who skidded to a squawking landing on the water, racing to round up her little brood, thoughtlessly skimming along the surface. She shepherded them this way and that. During one of her trips one duckling who was quite far behind practically ran up to the rest. This little drama over we swam about. The water was perfect. Started a painting Saturday of blackberry pie under the pink net umbrella, with last blooming blackberry branch, now of course dying. What to do, no sun. I'll start painting it anyway. evening- Two red winged blackbirds flying across the space. Last night I observed that the pattern of fireflies was much different from the painting I made last winter-spring I think I'll change it when I get back. Also they are less yellow than they are greenish. (changed the fireflies to greenish)

Spent two and a half hours painting the blackberry branch. Tomorrow I'll work on the pie and slice. I swam in my own pond today. It was for me, one of those strange, wonderful moments in which I felt at one with myself and the space I was in. This almost always seems to happen in water.

I feel terrible about catching and causing the death of the black and white butterfly. I wanted it for my painting. "As flies are we to the Gods." Weeded the paths in the oval garden, bedeviled by deer-flies. The fox-glove seedlings look bedraggled. Hope they come up. A pthalo bluegreen fly keeps coming by. Should I try to capture that too?

"Fireflies"   1998   60 by 60 inches   oil on canvas

"Clouds and Delphiniums"
1998   39 by 26 inches

"Staked Delphiniums"   1998   29 by 41 inches   monotype

June 24 1998

I'm not sure I've staked the delphiniums securely -hope the wind doesn't knock them down before Jim gets back to see them.

It's so odd.. that all the things I've painted I now have. The "fake" pond of the studio (in the city), now a real pond, the countless trips to the Greenmarket (in the city) for delphiniums, and now here they are.

I can't bring myself to cut flowers, which is of course absurd. I did cut a poppy last year for the monotypes.

"Poppy Finis"  1997
19 by 22 inches  monotype

"Poppy-Lined Tea Cup"  1997
27 by 24 inches  monotype

Sunday June 23

Painting is going reasonably well. Elise pointed out that the butterfly was at the pie, rather than the flowers. Of course, I never gave it a thought. I wanted the butterfly on the plate.

"Blackberry Summer"   1998   40 by 60 inches  oil on canvas

July 24

Rain predicted for Tuesday. Next week some works on paper, get ready for next painting. Maybe late afternoon sky with bouquet, or fireflies and night bouquet, or delphinium shadows on white and hundreds of delphinium petals? 60" x 50" why not?

Working on a painting I'm calling "The Laws of Nature." Dramatic stalk of delphiniums, stacked books, clouds, at the stage where it all seems in pieces, but I think it will be a grand, if not great, painting.
Everything looks lovely, phlox, sweet peas, many day lilies. A bit windy for my taste today and the past two days. Always worried about the rock maple. Transformer fire, explosions, no power yesterday in soaking rain. CVPS turned up soon after I called, fixed everything.

"The Laws of Nature"  1998
60 by 50 inches  oil on canvas

"The Pond in June"  1999
35 1/2 by 22 inches  oil on paper
July 24

The pond has become a restorative place. I swim and then read in the hammock. A pure, unadulterated pleasure. The big surprise for me is how much I actually enjoy being alone. I wouldn't like it as a permanent condition, but I like it.
It's hard to believe I will be 60 next year... old women do, alas, look like crones to me. Not that old men look any more attractive. To still be interested in sex without being desirable seems a dreadful fate. I guess I'll see! One doesn't wish for the alternative. Just eternally to be fixed right here in time. Not even going back. This would be fine.

"Night Fishing in Chinatown" 1997 75 by 60 inches oil on canvas


November 16

LK bought "Night Fishing in Chinatown." Planning the next reflection painting. Winter already (thematically.) Snowy branches, rose tree and statue. (Became "Raise the Red Lantern.")

December 26

"What would you take from a burning building? I say I would take the fire." Cocteau

The visit to Sasha in San Francisco was lovely- her friends, the city, the trip to see Lucy Diggs, all memorable. Of course Sasha continues to be annoyed at almost everything I say, but it was fun. Brought back two small pomegranates from Lucy's ranch. Things are very good right now between me and Ruth and Sasha.

Still kicking around the "detail as abstraction" idea. This time I set up a magnifying glass in front of two pomegranates, a twig. Also going over the paint sketches in my notebook- could they be large "reflections" (upside-down) and then float things on them, forgetting about "backdrop."

"Drawing With Magnifying Glass #1"   1998
11 by 8 1/2 inches   ink on paper

"Drawing With Magnifying Glass #2"   1998
11 by 8 1/2 inches   ink on paper

Interesting discussion in Jonathon Miller's book on "Reflection." In painting the "sheen" of reflection disappears if you block out the thing reflected. This could account for the difficulty in reading my reflections when they don't include the source of the reflection.

"Adieu Adele"   1995   50 by 80 inches   oil on canvas

March 28 99

Waiting for flight to JFK. The trip was as gruelling as I thought it would be. One the plus side Jim's paintings, although not all were hung, were in good places. Rained when we got there (Villa Tamaris at Le Seine Sur Mer.) Saturday was fine, walked along the sea, visited a prison with Cesar and Carlos, very amusing company. Many (all) good meals, enjoyed eating and drinking wine and water with every meal. Lovely (only) restaurant within walking distance where we ate almost every dinner......

Carlos could find no good words to say about any women artists except Sonia Delauney and Goncharova. It's pitiful that people can say "we only look for what is good" and think that the total exclusion of women's work represents an objective measure of quality.

Jim Long
"Heaven"   1997
87 1/2 by 91 3/4 inches  oil on canvas

Jim Long
"Out of Kishkindhya"   1996-97
60 by 60 inches   oil and wax on canvas

Jim Long
"Saturn Devouring One Of His Children"   1996
28 by 28 inches   oil on canvas

"the bohemia that embitters." Goncourt journals

April 99

Received compliments on the paintings at the American Academy but can't help but feel my big color field paintings were more visually exciting. These are more poetic and/or illustrative? But I can't really go back. Maybe they should be bigger though. Won a Purchase Prize for "Rushing the Season."

"Rushing the Season"   1997   40 by 60 inches   oil on canvas

"Sycamore Journey"   1995   60 by 60 inches   oil on canvas

November 11 99

I start this journal at a difficult bend in the river. Robert Kramer died in France at the age of 60, about two weeks ago, of spinal meningitis. Why am I so devastated by Robert's death? ...... Knowing he was alive and well in France made Paris more possible to visit, either mentally or actually, or through the largely unsatisfactory medium of e-mails. Paris, which must represent for me some ideal of freedom and happiness. I have been there with Gene, with Jim, with Robert. And of course it's the city my mother loved, the city of light, bridges and the river.

The last conversation with Robert in Paris was such a pleasure, I looked forward to that pleasure continuing..... There are very few people who know me and accept me for who I am without criticism. Although at a great distance I felt that Robert's feelings toward me were benignant. He liked my work, he seemed to enjoy my company, and those feelings were mutual..... so, a soul-mate finally, not in all things but in many.

"Shadows on the Book"   1999
45 1/2 by 36 inches   22 color screenprint, edition of 44
November 24 99

I have to plan my print ( trip to Michigan.) Now I'm into the pomegranates or stacked books with Flower Book?

New Year's Resolutions: Drink more water, eat more fruits, and vegetables and grains, play more music, see more performance, get some good pants, shoes, one dress.

"Sonoma Pomegranate"   1999   30 by 30 inches   oil on canvas
Finishing the pomegranate and sand painting. I think of it as the "tooth painting" (because of the animal vertebra ?)Had a terrible dream which I don't want to record about losing a tooth. Set up a kind of parallel painting with snow and red hat, fan, pomegranate etc. leading up to the big snow painting. Want to get the backdrop painted by Tuesday.

Finished the fan painting. No title as of yet. "The Fan and the Lantern?" No one recognizes the reflection the of the lantern.
"Red Fan with Petals"   1999
24 by 24 inches   oil on canvas

"Raise the Red Lantern"   1999   60 x 75 inches   oil on canvas

January 18 2000

Stuff... After someone dies, their posessions become a collection of meaningless stuff, without the animating consciousness which knew their use and their history. After the owner and knower is dead, the stuff all exists in an eternal present; the red button alongside the pen-knife, all equal now except in monetary value. And no archeology can restore their order of significance. Even those who loved the person who acquired the stuff can only know what they might have been told.

Jim's father died two days after Christmas. A shock. Jim is sad and angry. Another loss.

"Fin de Siecle"  1992  60 by 90 inches   oil on canvas

"Incoming Tide"  1999  50 by 60 inches   oil on canvas

Working steadily on the painting I think of as Fin de Siecle # 2. It follows the paintings of bricks and sand with dried petals, which followed the bricks in water with gladioli.. These paintings fall under my half jesting title of "Ruin."

"Gladioli"  2000  40 by 60 inches   oil on canvas

In the summer in Vermont I escape the themes of death, but seem to return to them here in the city. On a conscious level I thought of the "ruin" paintings as having to do with aging and Robert's death.

Erika Kramer told me, when I told her Robert's death was the impulse for the brick paintings, that the "river house" in Normandy was on the grounds of a brick factory. And never in my life had I painted bricks. I just realized though, as I am writing, that in '93 when Ruth, Roberta Margo and I visited Sea Gate, the brick stoop of my mother's (old) house was all torn up, and so the idea of bricks and ruin most likely originated there.

"Returning"  2001  40 by 60 inches   oil on canvas

This fall it seemed like a good idea to ask Melissa Kuntz, my teaching assistant and painting graduate student to make a set. The idea was that looking at someone else's construction might yield a different composition. I gave her almost zero guidelines except "ruin" and Mrs. Haversham....The set I think of as "Harriet's Folly." I tinkered with it, removing some elements altogether, added a fake bird, put another bird on a wine glass in the reflection pool and positioned the set for the reflection. For about a week and a half the painting seemed dreadful. The cyclamen plant was an inspiration, I kept adding blossoms to the water. It is probably the most layered image I have tried yet, and I am sure it will be completely confusing to the famous "viewer." Painting the cyclamen, the wine glass and reflection there was some ease and flow, but mostly it has been a construction, rather than a graceful process...

"Ballroom"   2000   40 by 60 inches   oil on canvas

February 8 2000.

After this painting is finished (why the passive voice?) I will borrow LK's figurines and make a diptych with the cyclamens I think. Two small canvases already prepared. Then I have an idea to get some columns and fake wisteria, moss. Maybe another "Picnic."

"Picnic with Wineglasses"  1996  60 by 75 inches   oil on canvas

"Picnic with Plums"  1995  60 by 80 inches   oil on canvas

February 21 2000

Friday borrowed L's figurines, made several sumi ink drawings. Now recovering from actually breaking one. Have to have it restored or buy a replacement. L was very gracious about it. The one I broke (let's not go into how I broke it- a painting I was moving fell on it as I was moving the painting.) I have doubts now about the whole"project." I love the figurine of the girl with the birds, but I'm not sure the cyclamens are right. The whole thing needs to have a different metaphor.

"Snow Girl drawing 1"  2000  Sumi ink on paper   22 x 30

"Snow Girl drawing2"  2000  Sumi ink on paper   22 x 30

"Snow Girl drawing3"  2000  Sumi ink on paper   22 x 30

April 19 2000

Large painting- picnic with wisteria and columns. Also the statue and a cloud backdrop.

"Artifice"  2000  70 by 60 inches   oil on canvas

Finished the "Snow Girl" diptych. It's a sweet little painting 50" x 25". Now starting Picnic 3 or "Over the Top." Column, statue, moss, artifical fruit and flowers. This was also a week of success for former students- very impressive piece of Ingrid 's at the Whitney biennial, lovely show of collage drawings of Tom Burckhardt's.
I've written a couple of paragraphs on Robert's "Walk the Walk" and John Douglas posted that and "Route # 1" on the web.

Miami airport waiting for the Bahamasair plane and Elise. Left "Over the Top" unfinished. The still-life part is so much more vivid right now than the reflection. That will be the challenge when I get back.

"Snow Girl"   2000
50 by 25 inches   oil on canvas

June 8 2000

Vermont-Finished oil study on paper of apple blossoms reflected in the pond. Now to translate it to a large canvas and still have it be interesting- specific enough. I need to make some more drawings and one small color study. I want to be more specific with the color that I was in the oil on paper. If it doesn't satisfy I will have to bring the canvas up to the pond, but I keep talking about how I want to be more abstract. I'm thinking about calling the painting "Degrees of Clarity" and using the interlocking circles in the lower part of the study, maybe elsewhere. It looks pretty good. I think I'll have it mounted on canvas.

Show at Cheryl Pelavin January 2001, Bruce Wood at AFA in Chicago. Now I have to adjust the dimensions for the drawing on the canvas-didn't get the proportions right- so typical.

"Apple Blossoms"   2000
34 1/2 by 36 inches   oil on canvas, mounted on linen

"Flax Drawing1"   2000
mixed mediums
June 15 2000

Diligently translating painting on paper to canvas, the pleasure is quite a different one from painting from observation, more like painting from a photograph- it's very passive in a way- I see this taking a long time- not necessarily the transfer, but getting it to be something. I'll work on it in stages. If it's nice tomorrow I'll try to do a monotype of the centaurea and the blue flax.

"Flax Drawing2"   2000
mixed mediums

"Flax Drawing3"   2000
mixed mediums

I want to use all reflection paintings for the show.
Meg Houle gardened today- she has a great spade and one three pronged cultivator; that and a dandelion weeder and clippers are all she uses. I'm sitting in the sun at last- the month of June so far (today is the 15) has had one day of sunshine. Meeting Altoon at the Creamery for dinner. Jim is in the city. Says he's working on a painting now. We fax every day and that seems like a good idea.

August 26 2000

It has been a difficult summer for painting. Only just now do I feel in the swing. But it may be that I will be able to pull if all together here and in the fall. Sorry to miss Sasha this summer, looking forward to seeing her in San Francisco.

I haven't written anything much, walked every day, made a terrace or a bench. But there is still September.

I am trying not to set myself up for disappointments. I have to be suspicious of my feeling that the friends who disappointed the least are dead!

Reading a book that is not very conducive to happy thoughts- "The Good Husband" by Gail Godwin. I have not read her before. Very engrossing and thought provoking about a dying woman intellectual married to a former seminarian twleve years younger than she. Hard not to see the creation of such a paragon (the husband) as a projection of the author's! Haven't heard from Dolores- miss her letters.

"Night Visitor"   2001   70 by 50 inches   oil on canvas

May 30 2002

Started the window painting- three levels -through the windows across the street, on the windows across the street, and on the studio window. Excited about it. All kinds of thoughts stirring about.

"Dream of the Window / Country"   2002
50 by 80 inches   oil on canvas

"Dream of the Window / City"   2002
50 x 80 inches   oil on canvas

June 14 2002

Back in Vermont in time for the late apple blossoms. The studio is really going to be a delight. Jim started taping today. We have been gardening. Everything was as it should be- the charm continues....
Got lots of books to read, hired Flo Bisson to clean the house two times a month. Pond is lovely. Dave Simons is going to do the deck, finish the basement. Two little goldfinches at the feeder- male and female.

"Cow With Apple Blossoms"  2002  39 by 30 inches   watercolor

Fire in the Franklin Stove- Got out the guitar.

"It's too late
To change the story's ending,
The bluebirds are flown
The children are grown
And some things are too broke
For mending.
The path that we chose
Rose to a hill.
The view from the top
Was so fine.
We sowed what we had
We reaped what we sowed
My heart was yours
And yours was mine."

June 28

Last night went to hear Laurie Anderson. Enjoyed it quite a bit. Setting up the painting of the little girl bookend- how to avoid sentimentality- the watercolor is pretty corny, as is the apple blossom with toy cow watercolor.

"Summer Reading"  2002  38 by 32 1/2 inches   watercolor

As I was working on the bookend I realized she was somehow deshabille-her blouse falling off her shoulder. In choosing the books for size and color I picked "The Innocent Wife" by Collette and Willy, it opened to an illustrated page- woman in her underwear- and Shadows on the Grass, African stories by Isak Dineson. My two heroines- and the two poles- frivolous, dependent sensuality, independent, assertive intelligence.

Goes back to Ellie Williams, (age about 9)- "Once there were three princesses, they didn't have huspints, but they had wands."

Then I started thinking about Jane Austen's characters discussing the frivolousness of novels and Emma Bovary's downfall due in part to her reading of romantic novels.
I've also introduced a coffee cup with coffee, a lamp. Beautiful day today- love this room now that is has become a summer dining room- love the new studio.

July 24 2002

Thought I was finished with the painting but I think the cup has to come out- Jim thought so at the beginning and Altoon thought so today.

"On the Edge"   2002   60 by 50 inches   oil on canvas

Emily pointed out that Victorian children were often portrayed deshabille, but what about Lewis Carroll and Alice- They all sentimentalized children, but maybe the off the shoulder chemise is a bit prurient? The painting is definitely weird, no matter how you look at it, sans cup, avec cup.

Finished the peony petal watercolor. Quite lovely I think, maybe.
Show scheduled for November.

July 24 2002

I want to see the petals
On the streets of Orvieto,
The peonies have shed dozens
Of white ones,
Covering completely the ground beneath
Their glossy leaves
Like goosedown,
Or a silk night gown.
I have not crossed the ocean
For a long time now.
Tied to gardens
And a view of blue mountains
The chatter of birds
The chuffing of chipmunks.
The stream hurling itself over rocks,
A white torrent traveling so fast
That in the photographs Jim took
It looks like feathers,
Or a bolt of silk.
I want to see the petals
On the streets of Orvieto,
Eat gelato in the Piazza Navona
Gaze upon the stern face
Of Piero's Christ in Arezzo
At least one more time.

"Petal Cascade"  2002  27 by 18 1/2 inches  watercolor

August 29 2002

Queen Anne's lace along the Vermont roadside, and all roadsides everywhere, came from Afghanistan.

Back in the city- many experiments via computer with "On the Edge." Without cup, with quotes from earlier paintings.

Ended up finally removing the spoon- went so far as to make a small painting of a French confection called "Black Forest" (I think) then two monotypes, one with the confection, another with a cut peach. Black Forest reminded me of the red fan paintings, with the dusting of sugar on the chocolate fan another version of the dusting of snow on the fan.
Used the peony watercolor as a template for a monotype.

"Ceci-Cela"  2002  16.5 by 20 inches   oil on canvas

"Pink Plate #1"  2002  22 by 30 inches   monotype

"Pink Plate #2"  2002  22 by 30 inches   monotype

"Petals Fallen"  2002  26 3/4 by 19 1/4 inches   monotype


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