I gave my first painting lesson yesterday to a couple of little girls I met while subbing at a Montessori School in the Sierra foothills. We started with three primary colors, making a color wheel and added a tint with white paint. I told them next time we would work with shades of gray. I learned from northern California artist, Gary Pruner how to use gray paint in a scale of one to ten. So today when I went to the Placer arts building to paint, I decided to work with only gray to start with. I like to go to the Placer arts building where I am resident artist. I sell my arte prints there and have found the environment to be very conducive to my productivity. Sometimes I go down on Sunday when no one else is there. I bring my easel out to the front window, (it's good to paint in different light now and then) and unlock the front door, in case people want to come in and walk around.
So I have been working on this long narrow horizontal painting that started out from a sketch I did of Angie's daughter at figure drawing. I got frustrated with it repeatedly even though the figure and basic composition was good, it wasn't great (or potentially). Then I turned her into a sexy nude Salome in an erotic Roman setting. I struggled with that quite a bit, also, but I know that getting rich tonal gradations often takes layering, almost sculpting. So I went in there today to paint with steps of the gray scale. I worked for about five hours, immersed in the work, (or play) painting only with gray, and I can see I am getting "there". I know where "there" is, I will know it when I get it. I can't express the sublime satisfaction that painting brings. It's like, you feel sometimes in this life that you can't seem to get anything right. Work, money, relationships, investments, so often I am banging my head against a wall. Even painting, most days I just can't seem to get that right either. But, today, it was flowing, for hours!!! That is the gift... not thinking I have talent or anything like that, just that I can find it now and then, that special quiet place that allows you to put aside your heartache for the time being, and just do the work that only I can do. No one else can make my paintings, and that is my gift, the gift to me. How lucky I am, when I have that for my work. Will post painting in progress soon.
red hat paintings at fine art america
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
(You know I lived there for almost a decade!)
Troy NY that is.
I know I can be irreverent because I am talking about Troy Dalton, he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
So in Troy NY there was this cool stone stairway going up to the RPI campus, we used to drink ripple and smoke joints rolled from strawberry papers there when I was 14. It was called “the approach”.
Troy Dalton, northern California artist, was always approachable, (except for that one year in ’99 when he and I had a falling out over a trip to a dumpster by way of SF). He passed away last June 2010. We miss him.
So, I saw Troy’s work first at the J street Himovitz, in the early ‘90s, and later at the Crocker with a friend. A couple of years later at the newer Himovitz on Del Paso, I saw those GEORGEOUS ten foot charcoals of Eve, erotic, nude… in Eden humping that crazy tree!. Oh my god, how beautiful! I thought where is this artist? Secretly I hoped he was as sexy as his paintings. Then outside on the patio, I saw Troy Dalton… his smiling self with those big teeth. So I walked up to him and told him how I loved his pictures. I told him I was an artist too. Aven, his daughter, was there that night too. I met both of them on the same night. I commented on how beautiful she was and that she would be a great subject for a painting. I had often wanted to do a portrait of Troy Dalton too, since that day, and regret that I didn’t. He was going to do a painting of me too… so if anybody finds those photos of me lying around at the Yolo Town Hall … please let me know!!! He said they didn’t turn out… he also said that they would be totally private and no one would see them… (yeah sure.. just like all those other nude photos of women you see, laying around in the chaos he nurtured there.)
So Troy Dalton, I loved being his friend. At first I would go over to his home at the Yolo Town Hall and drink vodka with him and eat brie cheese and French bread on the weekends after work. Often we made fun of the pompousness of the art academy and would end up throwing cheese balls at what are now his very valuable paintings. I know I drove back to Sacramento more than once when I shouldn’t have. Of course he always wanted me to stay there. I had recently moved to Sacramento again from the Sierra foothills, trying to be an artist and pay my way working as a waitress for the first time in my life. Shit, that was hard at 40. I found out I wasn’t a very good waitress. When life gets me down I do the one thing I know I am good at … paint.
Troy Dalton liked my art too, and encouraged me to go back to school, he told me to take a class with northern California artist, Gary Pruner, that led the way to my BA and a free trip to France.
During my stint at UCDavis good old Dave Hollowell (another northern California artist) gave me units to do an internship at Troy’s. (He knew we were friends) Did Dave know I was to be the studio bitch??? That's what Dave's wife Terry says, we were all his studio bitches. I would go over there on a Thursday and spend 4 or 5 hours pushing a broom and getting rid of crap that he would replenish from the nearest dumpster by Sunday afternoon. Crazy! We were trying to make room to get at his litho press so we could use it. It must have been back in ’99 that I first tried to get rid of that carpet with the cat shit on it. But there was so much other crap on it that I only ever could get halfway there. Finally last July, Aven, Heather and I cleared that area to the back and pulled that funky carpet OUT OF THERE!! Ironic that we had to hire a dumpster to get rid of all the stuff he aquired over the years.
When I first met Troy Dalton, he wanted to make an artists community at the Yolo town hall. Troy was very generous… he would always give an up and coming artist supplies that he had. I would say he embodied the term “generosity and abundance”. That was Troy.
He helped me cut wood for paintings and frames, take slides of my work and gave me books and supplies for my school kids. Furniture, almost anything he had, if someone else needed it or could use it, it was theirs. He gave me castings of ears and crayons that I mounted into a painting. He showed me how to stretch a large canvas onto the wall with the staple gun, (a technique I have used many times since). And he showed me how to keep my eyeliner in the fridge on a hot day so I could sharpen the tip without it breaking (how did he know that?). My 10 year old daughter, Gaea, would love to come over because Troy would line up some of his miniature plastic animal collection and the two of them would take turns shooting at those figurines with his BB gun. “He shoots his gun inside his house!” she would tell her friends with delight. The thing that was frustrating about him though was that we could never do that artist community because his own tendency to rat pack created too many obstacles.
I didn’t meet Tery 2 until years later, must have been 2005 I think. We met at an opening, through Troy… we liked each other right away.
She gave me some brownies to take over to him one day. We ate them and he proceeded to give me a tour of his entire collection. I’ve since regretted that I didn’t have a video camera that day when Troy Dalton was at his best. He took me from one cabinet full of collectables to another. He picked up a 2 inch plastic pooh bear who was bending over to look into his honey jar when Troy goosed him from behind with tigger’s manly pride. “the bastid!” From there we went to his collection of glasses. He liked to wear one outrageous pair over another. Then there was that gorgeous collection of vagina!!! Troy wanted me to model for one of his vagina castings. First of all, I thought it was gross, and I knew that would make my man go CRAZY! So I said “no way!!!” but later, when he was giving me the tour that day of what I had seen so many times before… I saw the cabinet with his natural history collection, there amid the fossilized starfish, nautilus shells and rodent skulls were the beautiful castings of women’s vagina. One woman had the fingers of her hands spread, gracefully framing her road to nirvana. The repetition of her fingers that way echoed the patterns of the starfish and reminded me of how we couldn’t deny our own place in nature. (I sometimes wonder why he never did casting of his own penis, he did include it in his paintings, it seemed to be a favorite subject of his!)
Any how, Troy Dalton was a truly great and creative man even if he never painted a thing. (but the paintings he will leave behind are killer!) As J.D.Salinger had written of his hero, Seymour Glass, (don't know that I have this quote right) "He could write a poem with a flick of his ear". That was Troy Dalton, if you knew him, his paintings were secondary. So I miss him, his unwavering friendship and I love him. And maybe someday his dream will be realized, that the town hall becomes a community center for working artists.
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