Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rooftop in Callicoon

Rooftop in Callicoon by Roberta Warshaw
Rooftop in Callicoon, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
I painted this house in 1987 when I was living in a really small town in upstate NY called Callicoon. This house was directly across the street from my house and as you can see my house was on a bit of a hill so that all I could see was the roof and the dormer part of the house.

Every morning I sat there with my coffee and this is what I saw. Until one day I was sitting there when I heard what sounded like an explosion, And then the house collapsed in a cloud of dust. Time stood still for a minute until I got up and looked out and there stuck in the ruins of the house was a garbage truck. Clothes and furniture from the house lay strewn about. Luckily the trash stayed in the truck.

Apparently the truck was coming down the very steep hill and lost its brakes. it crashed right into the house which lay directly at the bottom of the hill and completely destroyed it. Luckily there was no one home at the time since it was only a summer home. The driver of the truck was very lucky and only slightly injured although they did have to use the jaws of life to get him out.

Needless to say, this is the last picture that exists of the house.

And yes, this was done during my Edward Hopper phase.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Downsizing My Studio

Tulips in Callicoon by Roberta Warshaw
Tulips in Callicoon, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
Right before my surgery was a very scary time for me. Let’s face it. Death was always in the back of my mind. I would be crazy not to think about it. After all, remember Andy Warhol. He went in for a simple gall bladder operation and never came out.

In a way, for me, it was kind of like when I get on a plane to go somewhere. Essentially you are putting your life in someone else’s hands for a few hours and you just never know, do you?

So before my surgery I came to some decisions about what would be next for me if I came out of this alive. Yes, I know. What can I say. It is how my mind works under stress.

I looked around my studio and saw quite a few supplies and tools that I haven’t used in quite a few years. For example there is my nearly brand new Paragon Sc2 kiln. It takes up way too much space and I think I used it a dozen times if that. I had originally bought it for enameling but I quickly tired of that medium, I could never get the colors right and all that sanding was killing my hands.

So then I started using it for metal clay. But the price of the clay was unaffordable after a while and so the kiln sat unused for a quite a few years.
Tonight I sold my kiln to a wonderful enamellist and jeweler who was in need of a new kiln. Perfect. I am also donating all my unused or partly used Thompson enamels to the local art center. They teach a lot of children and adult classes in enameling so they will get good use of it all. And I can get an entire shelf back.

I am also selling all my unused and unopened packets of PMC3. They are two years old already and I don’t see myself using them again. Let me know if you might be interested in them and perhaps we can strike a deal.

I need to downsize in a big way. I can no longer afford to keep working in expensive materials and not be able to sell it. My jewelry business has never made me much money and frankly it is now just an expensive hobby.

Which leads me to the next sentence. I am closing my etsy shop and will not be selling (or trying to sell) jewelry any longer. I am going back to my first love of painting, Now that I have the time to be in my studio every day where one painting grows out of the next, that is going to be my focus.

I will totally understand if you don’t want to follow my blog anymore especially if it is not going to be about making jewelry. There are so many blogs out there I am honored that you have all followed me for so long. Of course I will still be posting about all my travails as an artist so even if it isn’t directly about jewelry making, you may still want to stick around. I hope so because I have gained some wonderful friends and followers on here.

But time marches on, life is short and I need to follow my art heart wherever it takes me.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Recovering Now........

It is 3AM and I am having trouble sleeping tonight so I though that I would write a post for my blog.

It has now been 11 days since I had my back surgery.

Surgery is so brutal on the body in so many ways and back surgery is no picnic. I tried very hard before my surgery to take extra special care of myself. I swam in the local pool every day. I did between 30-35 laps each time. I couldn’t use my legs very well but I was able to get in lots of deep breathing by mainly using my arms.

I ate well and got lots of rest. I walked every day as best as I was able with the leg being what it was.

As it turns out, the disc was not just ruptured but was in many pieces. It took the surgeon much longer to get them all out and so it may make my recovery take much longer. My leg still has issues. Mostly related to all the manipulating he had to do when he was in there. I have no leg pain so far though. As far as the weakness goes, it is hard to tell since it is so early and I only really noticed that doing strenuous activities. Needless to say I have not been able to do anything strenuous. I am supposed to walk as much as possible so I walk in my small condo from the kitchen to the bedroom a few times each day.

I can’t sit or lie for long periods either. I did go off the pain meds though since my legs were swelling and my doctor thought it was from all the fluids they give in the hospital plus the pain meds. I am mostly achy anyway. The severe pain is pretty much through.

I do have a new pain underneath my right breast. I am not sure what that is all about. Maybe I pulled a muscle getting up or down or if it is something that happened in the hospital when they had to turn me face down to do the surgery. I hope it is just a bruise and will go away. As I said surgery is brutal no matter how you try to prepare for it.

In the end it is out of your hands.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A History of My Studio

Key West House by Roberta Warshaw
Key West House, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.

I haven’t always had my own studio. I first began to paint in 1976 right after my daughter was born. We were living in Key West at the time. I had an adjustable drawing table in the living room. I could sit at it and paint or draw and watch the children at the same time. It was this way for quite some time. When we moved to a larger house in Key West, there was a car port outside. Since the weather in Key West was usually always nice, I made half the car port my studio. That was until my son and his friends decided to “play” with my very expensive Windsor and Newton watercolors. Then it was back into the living room again locking everything up at the end of the day.

When we moved again, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I took over the entire dining room. That was my first studio. The kids liked to eat and watch TV at the same time so we put the dining room table in the living room. No one seemed to mind.

Then we left Key West and moved to upstate NY. We built a tiny cabin to live in and I was again without a studio and only had a small corner of the living area with a table and a sewing machine. ( I made all my children’s clothes at that time).

We were in upstate NY for quite a while. It was not a happy time in my life. We moved to a really large house there. The biggest I had ever lived in. There was a glassed in wrap around porch and it was there I made the most beautiful studio I had ever had. There was no heat in it, but I bought an electric heater and it worked quite well. The weirdest thing about that studio was this. I was the most prolific I had ever been in my fine art career. I made some of my favorite works there in a beautiful studio. But I was more miserable there than anywhere else I had ever been. I am not a small town person, my marriage was breaking up, my kids were teenagers. Everything was falling apart except my artwork.

After my divorce, I moved to Boston near where I grew up. At first I was a caretaker for my grandmothers house while she was living in a nursing home. This time the “breakfast room” was my studio. It was a small room off the kitchen for eating , as the formal dining room was only used for company.

I re-married and in my new apartment there was a second bedroom which became my studio. About 12 years ago we bought a condo where I have been using the second bedroom ever since.

I know that some artists prefer to have their studios off site. But for me, with a family and various household duties to perform, having it steps away is what works best for me. I have to admit that I sometimes feel guilty and selfish keeping this room all to myself. For example, when my son became unemployed and we thought he may lose his apartment, I could not offer him a place to stay. Giving up my studio is no longer an option. No boomeranging here. When my grandson came to stay with me when he was born, I had to give up my studio for a time and I was quite resentful.

When you are a woman and you have a family, it becomes all consuming as well as ever changing to carve out a space to create.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Landscape 4 by Roberta Warshaw
Landscape 4, a photo by Roberta Warshaw on Flickr.
I really love this little landscape. It sort of sums up my vision of the world away from a city.

When I was working on it, I discovered that by using a palette knife I could mix up colors as though they were paints and really get the color I want in small amounts. That is how I got that interesting purple color in the stems. I just mixed fuchsia, cobalt and a bit of zinc yellow.

I am thinking that you could actually paint that way with the clay. Maybe later. Right now I am enjoying these heat set paints. if you haven't tried them you should. Karen at Clay Alley sells small sampler packs and they seem to last a good long while.

I am trying to limit my computer time so back to work.