Tuesday, December 15, 2015


I was going to theme this post using Tchaikovsky’s "December;" but, I was listening to Chester’s playlist coming home from the farm and Green Day’s "Holiday" came up. Sadly, punk rock seemed more a more appropriate theme than Tchaikovsky.

I’m completely stunned by the amount of prideful malevolence that I encounter every day. It’s almost a twisted contest. Presidential candidates, news commentators, and ordinary people all espousing hatred and division.

The reality is that we all live on a very small pile of rocks hurtling through space. This planet really isn’t big enough to divide into hateful territorial factions. Really. Very small planet. Stop it. Seriously. Stop it.

With each day comes a new opportunity to change for the better. I wish each and every reader peace and happiness. This is the dawning of the rest of our lives.

Green Day -- Holiday

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Effulgent Red

Red is effulgent -- shining brightly amidst the snow in December. There’s a dichotomy about red. It symbolizes death and birth. It is the color of life itself.

Mixed-media creation -- acrylic, watercolor on watercolor paper, on canvas.
Red has always decorated our world. The caves of Lascaux, the pyramids of Egypt, pre-Incan vessels, and barns around the world all showcase the easily found, and subsequently inexpensive, ferric oxide compound commonly called red ochre. This color of life is created in the end stages just before a red giant star dies. Turns out Joni Mitchell was right. We are stardust.

Fused glass pendant using Bullseye and Wasser glass, dichroic glass, and enamel.
When we bought our farm, it came with the quixotic white house and a red barn. Barns do come in other colors; but, I immediately think “red” when I think of a barn. I’m glad our barn is red. Not only is ferric oxide (aka rust) an inexpensive paint additive, it also inhibits the growth of fungi. Fungi trap moisture, so the red paint actually protects our barn from rotting due to moisture buildup. In addition, it makes a perfect watercolor study.

Our little red barn.
For me, red is a hard-to-sell color for jewelry. I started out making quite a bit of red jewelry, but found that it didn’t have the appeal of other colors. I still use touches of it here and there. It will probably never be the only color I use in a piece of jewelry other than earrings.
Bullseye and Wasser glass with enamel and fine silver embellishments.
Did you know that the inclusion of red in a fine art painting actually increases it’s value? This is in part because red is associated with stronger emotions than other colors (as in the expression “seeing red”). In addition, it is considered a lucky color in some countries. You can read more about this effulgent color in the art world in these articles. Enjoy.

How Red Boosts a Painting's Value

High-End Art Is One of the Most Manipulated Markets in the World

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Leaves That Are Green

Many people think of December as the end of the year. Things are different when you have a farm. The end of the year is the end of the harvest season when the food has been put away for the winter and garden soil is protected by mulch or cover crops.

Turning leaves as seen from the front porch of our farmhouse.
I don’t think I could live in a place without distinct seasons. I need the fall. Not the endless raking of leaves. Not the mold. Not the drizzle of the cold rain. I need the end-of-the-year kick in the pants. Hey, you!!! Time hurries on. Another year has come and gone.

A look at our valley from the top of the mountain ridge.
It’s been a year since I lost my job due to the closure of Dale Music. The buildings on that block in Silver Spring were torn down this week. It was a sad ending of a needed resource. I had a lot of things planned for this year that never happened. My studio is still a mess. My accountant isn’t going to be happy about the lack of progress in sales. On the plus side, I have started creating again. Nothing really worth selling, but it’s a tiny step in the right direction.

Some of our first fallen oak leaves.
I didn’t look for another job as a bookkeeper after I lost my last job. Mostly, I’ve been taking care of my nearly 20-year old dog Smokey. We’ve spent a lot of time cuddling on the couch. I chose to spend our remaining time making him as rotten as possible. He has separation anxiety and starts to sound pitiful when I’m in a different room. I do love him a ridiculous amount. I’ve moved part of my studio upstairs in my dining room so I can get some work done.

Acrylic, watercolors.
My homage to fall inspired by the song Leaves That Are Green. Acrylic background with leaves made with watercolors on watercolor paper. Time hurries on.

Paul Simon -- Leaves That Are Green
Leaves That Are Green

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Nuanced Brown

Brown is an aberrant color around DC where the standard colors for office attire are still black and navy blue. That’s something I’ve never understood. I’m an “autumn” and love to wear brown.
Bracelet made with various shades of brown and orange dichroic glass.
Brown is a nuanced color. You have to specify which brown you are referencing. Some colors like orange, red, and yellow are more or less undifferentiated. Orange means the color of the fruit. Yellow means crayon yellow. Red means Christmas. Brown is another story.

Quick watercolor sketch.
Our farm has a million shades of brown. Well, maybe not exactly a million, but a lot. The farm is on the side of a mountain and you can plainly see the striations in the soil from past landslides. Digging will also produce marked variances in the soil. Our garden plots are slowly becoming more homogeneous as they’re worked year after year. The goal is a rich, coffee-brown full of nutrients for the crops. Right now, it’s mostly red clay with tan rocks. That will change.
Wood for the winter for the farm.
I haven’t created a lot of brown jewelry. I’ve been making brightly colored jewelry for years and years living in the city. This is my most memorable piece of brown jewelry. Even then, I couldn’t leave well enough alone so I added bits of pink, rust, and red. I do love brown with effulgent red.
Brown Bullseye glass decorated with pink Wasser glass, enamels, and rust dichroic glass.
Maybe living in the country has made me appreciate brown more. I’ve been working more with copper clad with a brown patina. It seems more in tune with where I am in life. Maybe changing to a natural palette is a part of growing older like getting a sudden interest in yoga or joining a book club.
Monolith -- an experiment in trapunto done when I was 10 or 11.
I think I’m going to embrace my life in the country. I expect my work to slowly progress towards a more natural palette. Then again, I might plant a field of flowers in outrageous colors to use as an excuse.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cycle of Life

Life in the country is very quiet. No sounds from highways. No car alarms. No radios blaring. Only the soft rustling of leaves. The babbling of streams. The occasional songs from birds. The scolding of squirrels who seem to be convinced that I want their acorns.
Hay field edged with pecan trees.
There’s a mindfulness that comes from living in the country. Without the incessant noise of the city (or suburbs), there comes a stillness that reaches into the depths of your soul. There’s no place to hide from yourself; you are faced with the person you’ve shaped yourself to be. Maybe that’s why farmers have a reputation for being honest and forthright. You can’t lie to yourself in the country.
Looking down at the buildings on our farm.
Life in the country isn’t easy. Farms need a lot of care. There are no days off. It’s a brutally honest life. From the spring planting until the fall harvest, there’s a definite cycle of life that you don’t encounter in the city. The seeds turn into plants that eventually produce seeds in a hurried frenzy just before the killing frost.
Castor bean seed pods.
I have been watching the fungus spring to life in my lawn. It’s feeding off of the remains of the maple tree we took out a couple of years ago. The mycelium is turning the hard roots into soft loam to support the new life that will replace the maple tree. Something will always grow in that spot. Life is all about being resilient.
Fungus on maple tree roots.
While I was working as an engineer and desperately trying to keep my sanity, I started doing tiny weavings that I turned into pins. They were very portable and I kept them in my purse and pulled them out to work whenever I could. I became obsessed with seed beads and began working them into rotation. Little fussy creations became my escape.
Tiny loomed pin.
Diagonally loomed pin.
Oddly enough, I find myself coming full circle. I branched into hot glass and metal work many years ago; but, now I find myself drawn back to portable work. I have the privilege of being the full-time caretaker of my aging dog. He’s nearly 20 years old and he doesn’t like being alone. Unfortunately, my studio is downstairs and it’s not the safest place for a blind dog. I’ve tried to go downstairs and get some work done, but he barks upstairs and sounds so sad that I can’t leave him alone.
Vintage Czech button surrounded by beads and pearls.
Revisiting the past is a relatively new idea to me. I’ve been deluding myself for a year pretending that I can sneak downstairs and get some serious work done. Now that I am being honest with myself, I’m ready to commit to revisiting some portable oldies. I have some ideas. I guess that even artistic endeavors can be subject to cycles during a lifetime. Stay tuned for studio updates.

10 Years -- Cycle of Life

Cycle of Life

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hubristic Orange

Orange is a hubristic color: proud and even excessively confident. It was a favorite color of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters. It is also a favorite color of nature. From the orange fall leaves of the beech, oak, and maple trees swirled with nuanced browns to the sweeping fields of California poppies, orange permeates the natural world.
Fall Colors of Sumac
Orange has a mystical quality: something I associate with sacred robes of Hinduism or Buddhism. It’s an underrated color in the West. Bright and cheerful yet relegated to be mostly an accent and hardly ever a star -- except at Halloween.
Jewelweed After a Fall Rain
I have orange accents in my living space. I was going to paint an accent wall orange, but I wimped out and painted it yellow instead. The throw pillows on my brown sofa have touches of orange. I have orange fake flowers in my dining room. I got the flowers at the end of the fall season at Michaels. I thought they were pretty and they were cheap. Honestly, the cheap part was the real sell. Well, that and they matched the pillows.
Common Daylillies
Fast food establishments sometimes decorate with orange because it makes people hungry. Other than that, I don’t really see a lot of orange except in nature. Traffic signs are sometimes orange -- maybe because it’s so unusual to see outside of nature that it catches our attention. The most significant use of orange in our society is relegated to the obligatory “pumpkin everything” at this time of year. I do understand that use. Pumpkins are easy to grow and ripen as a deafening crescendo to the harvest season.
Pumpkins From Our Farm
By the way, did you notice that orange has all but completely disappeared from Orange is the New Black? That’s too bad. I like orange. It’s almost a neutral color. Very few colors really clash with it. So, why isn’t it a staple color in everyone’s wardrobe? Maybe it’s because it makes you hungry.
Fused Glass Pendant -- Wasser & Bullseye Glass
Orange you glad you stopped by to read my blog. You can sign up for my newsletter. I promise to treat your email address with respect. I will not share it with anyone. You may unsubscribe at any time.
Fused Glass Slide --  Bullseye Glass

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Somebody That I Used to Know

There’s a deep dichotomy in me. I’ve always wanted to be an artist and yet, I’ve run from it all of my life. I loved to draw as a kid. I drew on everything from paper bags to scraps of paper. Art was always my secret vice. I continued to create through grade school, then middle school, high school, college, and finally graduate school.

I struggled in graduate school. Not with the work. I struggled with the politics of being a woman in an engineering field dominated by men. Everywhere I worked, I dealt with denigrating comments and actions. It was brutal and I finally reached my breaking point. With the support of my husband, I walked away. Away from a lucrative career. Away from the pursuit of my PhD. Away from the only life I had ever envisioned for myself.

Overnight, I became an artist. An artist without formal training. An artist with a lot to learn. I built my company year by year. It was hard -- much harder than I imagined. Busy show schedules. Keeping one step ahead of people copying my work. But, for the first time in my life, I was happy. At least until 2008.

When the stock market crashed, people stopped buying art. I tried to wait it out. I finally caved and picked up part-time jobs that quickly morphed into a full-time jobs. That wasn’t what I had in mind. For the first time since kindergarten, I stopped creating. Art would have to wait. I was making real money again. My last job was at Dale Music. The owner retired and we were all let go.

I am an artist once again. My hiatus demolished the company I had built; so, I’m starting over. A lot has changed for artists in my absence. Attendance at shows has dropped. A lot of the galleries and stores that carried my work have closed. I need a new online strategy to stay afloat.

I started exploring social media channels. I opened up my dormant LinkedIn account and there in front of me was my former life: business contacts from my life as an engineer. It was a jarring discovery: staring at the life of somebody that I used to know. I sometimes wish I was still that person. I wish I could have loved that life. But I couldn’t. I left it behind and moved on. I am an artist now.

For me, art is such a personal thing. It seems wrong to market it online. I like that one-to-one approach. I learn so much by talking to my clients and non-clients alike. That’s hard to do that online. This blog is an attempt to connect my art to people in a way that is more personal than a virtual storefront.

I want to thank my friends for their encouragement. Thanks to Chester, Laura, Carole, Alex, and Bonnie (and, of course, Smokey). If there is an interest, I will put out a newsletter with some fun projects and helpful information I’ve gleaned from life. You can sign up on the right hand side of this blog. First, I need to rebuild my website (gingrichsart.com) and clear out some old inventory. I have a new path to explore.

Gotye -- Somebody That I Used to Know
Lyrics by Walter de Backer, Luiz Bonfa, Gotye

Somebody That I Used to Know