The Torch Bearers by Anna Hyatt Huntington / aluminum

One of the castings sold for $315000.

One of the castings sold for $315000.

I am one of the torch bearers. My strange ironic life made me this way. Here’s a story about me.

I grew up in a family where the adults didn’t talk much. It might sound bad but I thought I was lucky because no one was paying attention so I did what I wanted to do, and if I didn’t want to go to school I didn’t go. Maybe I was a little naughty. Still lucky for me, York Academy of Art accepted anyone who would pay. It turned out to be a crash course in traditional art which isn’t taught in art schools much these days. I’m one of the few in the world with the real old school academic art background and even though I’m swimming against the current with it, I’m not part of the ruin that is modern art because I’m carrying the torch of the Academy.

In York I shared a house with other girls who were art students. Our next door neighbors were Dick and Mai Clayman. They always invited me over to eat. Mai was very kind and Dick was an artist, genius and a gentleman. Dick loved to talk and he was worldly and wise. We stayed friends till he died. His talk was like college classes about his favorite subjects. ( art, history, politics, religion, the Civil War, the opera) I liked listening to him. I should have taken notes. Dick tried to impart his wisdom to me.

Now I want to share what I remember. But here’s another thing:

Two guys I know had the same dream about me. They both told me they dreamed it was pitch black and they saw me walking in the dark carrying a light. What does it mean about me? Was it a flashlight a tiki torch or a camping lantern? I don’t know, but if I ever do a self portrait I might try to draw myself carrying a light on a dark background.

Snow Goose Pool on Assateague Island / oil

It's time for me to say good by, Assateague, you stark raving beauty, you.

It’s time for me to say good by, Assateague, you stark raving beauty, you.

I’ll be back and invade the North shore next time. You can get there from Ocean City MD. too. The Snow Geese aren’t there yet. Egrets are all over the place , and many other types of birds for those who watch.

I got lucky this year because I said I’d take a long vacation all year and didn’t do it until Oct. It turned out to be a good time of year to go there. Yes, I complained about the mosquitoes, but I’ve seen worse. And to be fair to Chincoteague, they do spray for mosquitoes on Chincoteague. I’m pretty sure they don’t spray on Assateague because it’s a National Wildlife Refuge. I’ve been on that island times before when I couldn’t open my car door because the mosquitoes were swarming so thick. After the frost will be better but the wind won’t stop and it might be too cold with the wind later in the year. You can escape the bugs on the beach and the wind keeps the bugs down in the swamp. On the forest trail it’s still toooo many mosquitoes, even in Oct. I used a lot of bug spray with Deet and only got bit about 10 times in over 2 weeks. Mosquitoes will fly for miles to get a taste of my blood because I’m O+ and that’s their favorite flavor. The ones that got a bite of me were the ones that sneaked into my car and waited until I went out without spraying. You might think I’m a little too focused on mosquitoes, but do you ever watch “Monsters Inside Me”? Scary stuff. Plus it’s hard to concentrate when they’re swarming you.

I’ve been so inspired here I could do another 10 paintings. I got 4 finished in 2 weeks which is fast for me. I worked hard, going out in the morning to draw or paint , going back for lunch and cleaning my brushes and palette, then going back out in the afternoon to work on another. Then cleaning my brushes and palette in the evening so it would be ready for the next day. Thanks for the inspiration Assateague.

Finding My Way Through X…Y…Z!

Hugo Sound Poem

Hugo’s Sound Poem ATC

A call for art from The Carlisle Arts Learning Center in Carlisle Pennsylvania intrigued me. “XYZ” was the unconventional theme for an Artist Trading Card exhibit sponsored by the Gallery.

XYZ..XYZ… The letters rolled around my mind…What do those final three letters of the alphabet mean to me?

I admit, I have been struggling lately. Feeling uninspired,  I know my Muse hasn’t abandoned me, at least not completely, but we just don’t seem to be connecting. Projects started are in my studio, half completed, if they had the good fortune to even get that far.

And it saddens me. I miss the rush, the passionate excitement of new ideas, of experiments successful…and not quite so. I miss the joy of creating. But how can I get on track and open the lines of communication fully with my Muse?

Waiting for an appointment I pulled a small book on Dada from my handbag. The book fell open to a page with a photo of Hugo Ball dressed in costume and ready to recite a poem. A Sound Poem. My Muse reaching out? Synchronicity? It was perfect. I could feel the spark of excitement starting again.

Dadaism as an art movement was founded in Zürich Switzerland on February 5, 1916. Artists are poets rejected the conventional methods of Art and started something new. The Cabaret Voltaire hosted performance art and sound poetry. Hugo Ball wanted to return to “the most intimate alchemy of the word, and even to go beyond it in order to preserve for poetry its most sacred domain”.

XYZ…over and over…with a rhythm going to the source not only of the poem I could hear, but the uninspired place in my soul.

The substrate for the ATC is illustration board. I photocopied the photo of Hugo in his shaman’s hat and Cubist costume. Finding the letters X, Y, and Z seemed to just fall into place, gleaned from various magazines. I finished with metallic acrylic paint sponged on to the card. At the end of the exhibit the cards will be traded.

Although I’m still finding my way through, returning to Art History certainly has started opening up the lines of communication for me. How do you rekindle your relationship with your Muse?

art carts / a product review

art carts
Painting in plein air means the artist goes outside in the fresh air and sunshine to draw, mix colors and paint. (I’ll tell you about the mosquitoes. You’re going to need bug spray with Deet. This is the kind of place where a mosquito could make you seriously ill.) ok back to the art carts.

Studio artists don’t have to pack their supplies and unpack them every day plus take their stuff down a path. I’ll go 1/2 mile from my car but a mile is too far for a good view. I’m really on a roll here with the painting on Assateague Is. so I’m getting more exercise than I’m used to.

Years ago a friend gave me the little rolling suitcase and I wore it out. All my painting supplies fit in it with the easel sticking out the top. I’ve dragged it down a lot of trails and paths. The little wheels get hung up with leaves, pine needles stones etc. I saw some little rolling suitcases like this one at the thrift store for $5 but I needed something with bigger wheels.

I bought the little hand cart with the spotted bag at Ikea for $15 but I still used the old rolling case because I thought the new spotted bag was a little gaudy. (haha my PA Dutch) The first time I tried to paint on the beach I took my old rolling suitcase. I wound up carrying it over the sand because the wheels sunk right in, and it made me real tired. The second day I painted on the beach I used the little hand cart with the spotted bag. It wasn’t much better, but I didn’t go very far down the beach. Those narrow wheels still sink into the sand. I saw a lady with a cart that had 2 big fat rubber tires and I asked her where she got it. She told me “Captn Steve’s on Maddox and it’s worth the money.” So I stopped at a Steve’s store, maybe not the same one she bought her cart at because they didn’t have the same ones. And I bought this cart in the center of the photo with wide plastic wheels for $75. It makes it easy to get my stuff down the beach.

It’s not the same as the carts the surf fishers are using so I stopped in at Captn Steve’s to check out the prices of the carts with the big rubber tires. The guy working there told me they run $189 for the small ones and $249 for the big ones. You can put a big cooler on those carts. I don’t need one that big. The Steve’s store guy told me you can rent them for $10 a day or $50 for a week. and their prices are $40 less than other stores because they get hundreds in at a time.

One problem with painting on the beach is sand gets into the moving parts of the cart handle and my easel. The first time I used my spotted bag cart on the beach sand got into the handle mechanism and the handle got stuck in the down position. I thought I ruined the thing but I finally got the handle back in the up position. Now I’m leaving it up because sand might be in there and it might get stuck for good. Also sand got into the telescoping legs on my easel. The easel is still working but I’m using small canvases that I can hold in my hand, so I don’t need to use the easel. If I painted on the beach a lot I’d wreck my easel.

I’d encourage all artists to go out and paint in plein air because for me it’s been great. The thing about lugging your supplies might be enough to put off some artists who might want to go out. So I hope this helps other artists get what they need.

a study of breakers / charcoal and chalk

with a guy surf fishing

with a guy surf fishing

I want to learn to draw the ocean. Water is always a challenge because it moves and changes color with the sky, but I don’t want to trace a photo. I sit there on the beach and stare at the waves and try to draw them. I’m trying to memorize wave anatomy. That’s my excuse. Some guys stand around on the beach for hours surf fishing. They’re not just staring at waves, they’re fishing. Hanging around on the beach staring at waves every day for no reason isn’t always socially acceptable. Unless you’re on vacation, people might call you a beach bum. The calming view of nature makes it a zen thing. In our rush rush modern world the zen effect isn’t appreciated much. We’re expected to be productive every day. With some things the long term benefits aren’t immediately noticed by the world. But if I can practice drawing and painting waves without using a camera my art skill will be much improved.

So far I did about 6 studies of breakers and I did a color rough in oil of breakers too. The more I practice on this, the better I’ll be able to represent waves.

Scary Pumpkin

photo from

photo from

Abandoned Coast Guard Station on Assateague Island, VA.

charcoal and chalk

charcoal and chalk

I walked about a mile over sand to get there carrying my sketch book and a water bottle. You can drive down the beach if you have the right kind of vehicle. The refuge on Assateague was crowded that day because it was open free to the public on National Parks Day, but I was all alone that far down the beach.

The abandoned Coast Guard Station looks a little spooky to me. I guess the reason they stopped using it is because the shifting sand extended the island another half mile down from there in a hook shape and probably changed the channel too.

I’m not going to do a finished painting of it because it’s too far to lug my painting gear. It’s pretty with red roofs contrasting with the stark empty beach.

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