WHERE AM I? Oh yes, Charlottesville, Va. I jump out of bed and look out the window. The Horseshoe, a beautiful 200-acre thoroughbred horse farm my sister Suzie manages. She and her husband, a farrier, live here with their dog, cat and horse. I'm here ostensibly to do some drawings to contribute to The New Yorker, but actually wanted to get out of the city for a while.
I walk to the stables before breakfast. Ideas are starting to form. I didn't draw yesterday, just looked and then slept on it. I return, we eat a great country breakfast, I take pad and favorite ink pen and am off.
An hour later, return with a drawing I like (turns out to be the best of the day) . . . crisp ink lines of bridles, bits, ropes on pegs in the tackroom. Suzie and Jim like it. I check out the Redskin game (they're winning, the dears) and go off to do two more drawings. About 4, I drive back to the city. Lots of traffic. All of D.C. went to look at the leaves.
I remember an idea, a perception of space and form, on the drive down, for perhaps a painting to go with my series, "The American Landscape," started last February, developed out of work concerning the space and light of the Eastern Shore. Sure enough, on the road back to the city, I see it out of the corner of my eye. I turn around at the next crossing, go back to photograph and imprint the image in my brain. I work mainly from drawings, either done "on location" or later in the studio. Photographs can be a tool, but are too specific. I have two painting ideas percolating before I can develop this one anyway.
Upon return, check messages on my answering machine. Parents re: success of annual fly-in at local airport (father and brother Rob, up from Florida, are both pilots and plane owners). Lou Jones re: Foundry Gallery business (I'm part owner).
I lie down briefly, but start to think about a drawing I want to do to go with a press release for the Foundry's upcoming miniature show. Get up and start the drawing. Great fun . . . to be an ornate gold frame, empty, with space for a tiny image. In ink, will paint it tomorrow. Can't resist. Using watercolor I paint it gold, highlights and rich shadows -- a little symmetrical fantasy. Monday
Trip to Baltimore to shoot for a painting I want to do, appointment with a Charles Street gallery about a spring show to exhibit the "American Landscape" series and an opening and dinner at the Maryland Institute. Prior to that, deliver last nights illustration and press release to the Post. The phone rings: WDVM-TV9. Can I cover a pretrial hearing in U.S. District Court at 1:30. Groan. If I can't, can Ann? My sister, Ann Munro Wood, and I are free-lance courtroom artists for about 10 television clients. Channel 9 was our first client, and we always give them top priority. A flurry of calls. Ann can do it.
I do the errands and catch a 1:10 train to Baltimore. Take the photographs entering the city. West side ethnic neighborhoods, the kind of distance and space patterns I want. Less intimate than my last city series. In keeping with the vast feeling of the rural landscapes they will go with. Meeting at the Arts Gallery. Show slides of new paintings made in July and August at Yaddo (a writer/artist colony in upstate New York.) The show is scheduled for March. We discuss a possible print series, made by me, financed by the Gallery, with them the sole distributors. I pick up a couple of Eastern Shore studies left over from a May group show.
Walk around Baltimore, then off to the institute. The opening has the usual number of students and arty types. I buttonhole a couple of faculty members, trying to get student interns for the Foundry this spring. On the way to the train station, stop in Peabody Bookstore. Catch the last train (it's an hour late). Tuesday
Do some billing and return calls from yesterday. Message from my editor at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Did a full-page drawing with color for the November/December Historic Preservation, and am anxious to see how it came out. They also want to know the status of a portfolio of drawings that The New Yorker is looking at. The magazine may do a spring 1981 piece with the rejects.
About 12:30, WDVM calls. Can I make a 4 o'clock hearing? Cut illustration board, sharpen pencils, clean brushes, fill watercolor jars. Off to court. Chat with press buddies and lawyers. The worst possible situation: the proceedings don't start til 4:30, and they need the finished art by 5:15. A short hearing. Run down to the pressroom, frantically work, tear down to the live mini-cam unit truck set up on John Marshall Place with the still-wet drawings and hold them balanced on my lap while the crew shoots and feeds them back to Broadcast House, where they are edited into the piece. I hang around, watching the 5:30 newscast on the truck monitor. Over to Capitol Hill for a sandwich and then home. Plan to check the 11 o'clock news to see if the work was as awful as I thought, but fall asleep. Wednesday
up early. Order illustration board to be delivered. Walk down to the Foundry Gallery, on P Street. I will work until 2. All the way down I think about the new paintings. I am excited and anxious to get going.
Calls about upcoming shows; artists in with slides; October and November exhibitors stop by. An interview with a Maryland Universtiy graduate student about artist-run galleries. In between, I am working on the press releases for the next two shows and starting the mailing for the Driskell/Brodie opening. Home I read a Flannery O'Connor short story (recently finished her "Letters" loaned me by my downstairs neighbor). Take a nap. A couple of the perks of being self-employed are 3-hour lunches and an occasional nap.
Get up around 6 with lots of energy and go grocery shopping, a necessary evil. Return, mix chemicals in the darkroom to develop the Monday film and an additional roll shot on the recent New York trip. The stretchers have been made and I want to start these paintings, the Baltimore one first, then industrial northern New Jersey. I had left the film on the magazine table. Gone.
The illegal cat living with me (cat-sitting this week while my parents take a New England car trip) knocks every available object off the surfaces and has managed to worry it into some obscure corner of my studio. I search for a while. I give up looking and redeem the evening by matting some drawings for my mother's ERA Library opening in Annapolis. Thursday
Have a new maid coming, so I straighten up for her. Varnish one of the rural oil paintings. Write a note to an artist. An old house I bought earlier this year in St. Michaels was mentioned in an article on my work in an art magazine and a North Carolina artist read it. He is doing the cover for the nearby Easton Waterfowl Festival in November and wants to get together for a crabcake.
Louise comes. "Did you just move in?" she asks. Not because the place is neat, but because I have no rugs or curtains and little furniture. Mostly paintings on the walls and books. I dislike visual clutter. She agrees to forget cleaning the studio.
In a wonderful mood, I walk down Connecticut Avenue, thinking of painting as metaphor, and of recent books I have read by Langer ("Form and Feeling") and Arnheim ("Visual Thinking"). Art is intuition and intellect, a way of seeing with the mind and the eye. The whole walk is transformed by the soon-to-be creative experience. I am, as frequently happens, exhilarated at being alive.
I stop at Schwartz's Drugstore at R Street. They are generally the first in the city to have the current issue of The New Yorker. I am too impatient to wait for my copy to arrive on Saturday. I leaf through it looking for one of my drawings. Nothing this week. Downtown, I buy art and photo supplies, do gallery Xeroxing, drop off slides. Friday
Up and off via train to Baltimore to replace the lost roll of film, taking quick shots with my trusty old Nikon S2. Twenty-eight minutes after arriving, jump on the train back.
Answer calls about the Foundry Gallery, a dinner date next week and Earl Casey at WDVM. Yes, I am available to cover a case in Baltimore Monday. Also a pretrial thing in District Court.
Prepare to go to the Judy Bass opening at the Phillips tonight. I get tired of art openings, but when it's a friend it is a matter of respect to show up. I dress, fix my hair and look at my hands. Poor things . . . awful, unladylike, a laborer's hands.
At the opening, familiar faces. Get in an interesting discussion with Jim Quinn, a painter who's known at the Foundry. He gives me a ride to the after-opening party on Biltmore Street and the talk continues. We cover everything: art, life, society, the nature of beauty. We are very serious, sometimes laughing at our intensity. He drives me to my studio and I invite him up to see the new paintings. No one in Washington has seen them, except in slides. The first glance is important. Yes, he seems to like them. We talk about the surface, the color, early work. I tell him I want to do The Great American Painting. Saturday
I wake up to rain. Good. Today I will try to block out the world. I have been waiting and waiting to paint. It seems like years, really only weeks. The adventure begins today and will infuse the next weeks. The painting: I have only a vague idea of what it will look like. It will be a very complex set of forms and colors, and, if I run into problems, may not be finished by the end of December, when it should be ready to be photographed for the color invitation to the show. I will develop the film, stretch and gesso the canvas while the negatives dry, make some prints and the final drawings. And then, sometime tonight, by noon tomorrow surely, I can begin.