2018 – A Recap

As is habit I, like many, generally reflect on the year past as I travel into the freshness of the new year. So looking back at my artistic accomplishments of 2018 I’m reminded that I’ve completed 9 paintings and a series of sketches throughout the year – a bit short of my usual goal of 12-15 paintings per annum. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I declared last year this time to slow down and put a little more concentration into my work. Also, my participation in Inktober2018 was a new and challenging effort that took me from my comfort zone and helped me think outside the box.

I tried some new techniques and new materials that I will continue to experiment with in the coming year. I also bought some clay, a medium that I’ve never worked in but am stoked to try. The clay is as yet still unopened but you should look for something very new from me in 2019.

So, without further ado, these few are my top picks from 2018, not so much because I think they were executed well but because I thoroughly enjoyed painting/sketching them and I learned something of myself in the process. Of course you can review these and more on my Gallery page or purchase a print or the original if still available. Did you have any favorites? Let me know below.

I look forward to continued creative escapades in 2019 and hope you enjoy the journey as much as I. Here’s to wishing all of you a healthy, happy, and artful New Year.

Counting my Riches – Mother’s Day 2015

angel's wingDespite thousands of commercials and signs everywhere I still somehow managed to let Mother’s Day sneak up on me.

Hubby and I were vacationing in Florida last week and while there I met a white woman who happened to be from my home town. She didn’t live in my neighborhood but she worked there. When I told her the name of the street I grew up on she stated very matter-of-factly, “Oh, youse lived over there, your people had money!” Funny, I don’t remember it that way.

What I remember is growing up with a woman who had strong morals and work ethic and with a heart so big I have nothing to compare it to. I remember a single mother who worked every day to take care of her children and very often one if not all of her five brothers. I remember standing in food lines to get our bag of groceries – you know the one that had that good Government cheese in it. I briefly remember food stamps.

We were, however, “rich” in other ways.

I can remember mom pulling out her sewing machine to make clothes for my Barbie doll and kneeling with her beside the bed to say my prayers. I remember how she twisted her left hand on paper turned sideways when she taught me how to write right-handed. I remember when she was the cook who could make a meal out of anything and I was the baker, making cookies and cakes from scratch, beating the batter by hand. I remember the etiquette lessons as a teenager, how to stand tall, sit like a lady, walk with head held high. I remember how often she told me that I could do anything I wanted to do and be whomever I wanted to be and she made sure I had the education and skillset to accomplish just that.

It’s true my brother and I did attend 12 years in tuition-paid parochial schools. I never remember being hungry. There were always presents under the Christmas tree and always cake and gifts for our birthdays. But what I remember most, money didn’t buy.

My mother was my biggest supporter and my loudest cheering section. I remember all the times she told me, “It’s ok, everything will be all right,” and “You can do it.”

She was my toughest opponent. I remember when I couldn’t take her anymore and I just had to get out, be on my own.

She was my greatest ally. I remember coming home again and again and again… until it was her turn to come and live with me.

It’s been 7 months since mom passed and this will be my first Mother’s Day without her. I haven’t even thought about the gift I would have given her if she were here. Probably something silly since we are long past fancy and elaborate. She wasn’t a fan of flowers in the house so potted plants was the “go to” gift after homemade gifts had run their course. I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to have been able to give her diamonds and furs before returning to homemade when she received original paintings from me, but we’ve since both reached the age where a simple phone call would lift our spirits and warm our hearts because the other stuff wasn’t important anymore.

So, this is it. In the last 7 months I’ve survived Thanksgiving, Christmas and her birthday – November, December, January – all in a row. Then there was Valentine’s Day in February, my birthday in March (thank God for a reprieve in April). But here it is May and yes, I’m a little snot-nosed and red-eyed as I write this but my momma left me rich beyond even my dreams, so I know I’m going to get through this as well. No, my people didn’t have money. We had momma.

I’m Still Here

I hope you haven’t forgotten Handy Concepts because though we struggle, and despite 2014 being such a dismal year for me, we have yet to give up the ghost.

RECAP

Kerry’s Green closed unexpectedly on January 1, which meant the gallery also closed (way to start the year) and it took me two months of calling and writing to get the doors open so that I could collect all of the artwork and shop items I had there. All of which I moved and stored in my home studio until most of the artists could come and retrieve their art.

I then made a halfhearted attempt to generate sales and maintain a presence via my website with minimal results. Truthfully, I haven’t updated my website in over a year now. Can’t get much leverage that way…

I started quite a few paintings but finished only one. My annual goal is to complete new 6-8 paintings and I have achieved that goal every year until 2014. I started one painting FOUR times – I’ not talking start, stop, start, stop – I mean I started 4 different canvases, and worked them all to varying degrees of “complete” before deciding that my errors were too far gone to correct. I tried hard to get it done (again) before the New Year but alas, still working on it.

In the spring our house was put on the market as my husband and I struggled to keep afloat but the market being what it is, it’s almost impossible to get back what we’ve put into it. So we push on.

My biggest blow however came mid-year when I became caregiver to my mother, running her to doctor visits, cheering her on through several surgeries, daily visits during hospital stays and sometimes working my job remotely from the hospital. Despite the successes of the surgeries and the promise of recovery and rehab, mom lost her battle on October 2, 2014. I was fully expecting to have her around another 10-12 years, making me laugh, getting on my nerves, imparting words of wisdom, bossing me around. She was 78 years young. I never thought my heart could break into so many pieces.

NOT ALL BAD

The silver lining of 2014 shone through in late June with the birth of grandbaby no. 10. Thank God for the smallest of miracles.

MOVING FORWARD

2015? Who knows? Maybe it will turn into a banner year, maybe not. What I do know is that I have a lot to do, a lot I still want to accomplish and no one can make it happen but me. I’ve taken the last week of this year to plan and push myself to get up and get moving. I want to thank all of the artists who started with me in 2009 and hung in there during the lean years and a special thanks to those few who still hung around this past year even though I only managed to sell one painting.

I want to thank all of my clientele who still look forward to new art, who still inquire about my artists, who still encourage me to keep art alive in our community and continue to support our efforts. Thank you to those who have commissioned art and have waited patiently for your finished product.

I hope to see you all in 2015, online and in person. And I have so much more creativity in me that I promise it will blow you away in the coming year. Besides, Mom has been chiding me. I can hear her clearly – “Shouldn’t you be painting?” “What are you working on now?”

So even though you may not have heard from me all year, and just in case you were wondering – I’M STILL HERE.

It’s Daylight Savings Time…

…KEEP SMALL BUSINESSES FROM GOING DARK

I overheard a conversation the other day between two gentlemen who were discussing the early demise of a neighborhood eatery.  Being familiar with the little shop I listened as one of the men regaled upon the other how the subject business was in operation for just a little more than a year before it folded.

The man commented on the amount of money and labor that was put into restoring the old building to its former glory, updating the interior and preserving the exterior. He spoke of the ample availability of parking and how nice it was to have that little family oriented shop in the neighborhood.

It was  shame that the shop had such a short-lived existence. How sad it was when it quietly closed its doors.  And after all that was said he admitted that he himself had never set foot inside.

At this point I stopped listening, reminiscing instead about a little art gallery that was located just down the street from that small shop, the only art gallery in town.  It offered a myriad of original jewelry, pottery, sculptures, photography and paintings ranging from $30 to $3,000 – a little something for everyone.  The gallery flourished for the first year and then put up a really good fight midway through the second year before it too succumbed to a failing economy.

I remembered also, how amazed I was at the number of people who stopped in during those final days to say, “I pass by here every day and this is my first time in.  Sorry to hear that you are closing,” or “I live just a few doors down but I’ve never been in,” and  “It was really nice to have a gallery in town, it’s a shame you have to close.”  “I’m so sorry I missed your artist receptions, I heard they were really nice.”

The shame of course is that those people who dislike big box stores and thought these small businesses were good for the neighborhood, those who looked through the windows but rarely or never set foot inside, those who saw the value after the fact, are the very people who could have made a difference.

Thankfully for that little gallery the “closing” was converted into a move to a new location.  We have yet to see our heyday as we continue to struggle to balance the scales between “need” and “want” in a tough economic environment, but we push forward and for now I still own the only art gallery in town. Check us out at www.handyconcepts.com or email us to ask about our payment plan or gift cards at info@handyconcepts.com.  We support the American Diabetes Association and the Disabled American Veterans by donating 5% of all art sales to either organization.

If there is a small business in your neighborhood give it a fighting chance before you allow it to go dark. The power is in your hands.

PS. Remember, November 30, 2013 is Small Business Saturday.

Close, but no cigar.

My First Oil Painting
My First Oil Painting

It’s said that an artist is his/her own worst critic. Well, that’s certainly true of me. Even though I can see that I’ve gotten better over the years, I’m not yet where I think I want to be. Don’t get me wrong – I believe that I have talent; I believe in my abilities to create fine art – but I haven’t reached that stage in my artistry where I’m completely comfortable.  I generally begin a painting chanting “I THINK I can, I think I can,” and then of course I do it.  But I rarely start with the thought,  “This is cake, I can do this, hands down.”   There’s always a little hesitation, some trepidation.

As we close on 2012 and begin 2013 I, like most, engage in a little retrospective on life, love, dreams, career, and of course my art.Hold Me

When I look back at some of my earlier paintings and compare them to recent works, I feel a real sense of accomplishment.  I can definitely see the progress that I’ve made over the years, which is as it should be.  Many of my first works look so amateurish to me now, yet with every new painting I complete I look and look and pick it apart and look some more, never fully satisfied. Oftentimes I am pretty reluctant to even sign my nKOROame, because signing it would mean that it’s finished.

I think that un-satiated feeling derives from not yet having developed a style I call me own. (Interestingly I’ve been told by others that I do indeed have a style, only I myself can’t see it.)  Because I enjoy such an assortment of media and subject matter and technique I find it hard to lock myself into what I think is a specific style.  I can’t even attempt to clump my paintings into “periods” such as Picasso’s Blue and Rose periods.  Each time I pick up a brush to start a new painting the outcome is decidedly different from the last one I completed.Mike

Then again, if I ever find myself pigeon holed into a specific style – in my art or in my life – it would mean that I’ve stopped growing, stopped evolving, and that simply will not do. Notably, all of the Greats have danced between painting and sculpture and architecture and science and invention, dallying in different genres and media  – it’s part of what made them great. And because there’s still so much more that I want to try, because I haven’t learned it all, because I relish a good challenge, because I’m still not satisfied, I so look forward to 2013.

orchid My wish for you: Continue to grow, continue to evolve into that being you are meant to be – at least for this year.  Get as close as you can without lighting that cigar. 

 Now, throughout this article I’ve given you a little peek at my evolution thus far. embracedBesides the obvious, can you tell what’s old and what’s new? Friends

Meet the Artist Reception

William “Chilly” BramletImage

 Enjoy a laugh, a story, a glass of wine and light refreshments while taking in the spectacular artwork of William “Chilly” Bramlet.

With no formal training, Chilly began painting and experimenting with different media and techniques just 5 years ago and has accomplished a stunning collection of paintings and objects d’art that will simply awe you.

Please join us in giving Chilly a warm welcome during his premier exhibit at Handy Concepts Art Gallery on October 7, 2012, from Noon til 4:00 pm. We are located at 150 Country Club Road, Red Lion, PA on the lower level of Kerry’s Green. This event is open to the public and we hope to see you all there.

Welcome to the Enchanted Forest

Image

“Tree Aerobics” by Chilly Bramlet – 12×16″ mixed media on canvas

“Once upon a time in a land far, far away…”  This is what comes to mind when I look at William (aka Chilly) Bramlet’s work. He returns me to a childhood full of wonder and imagination. His woody landscapes are full of color and sparkle and mystery. I can totally see myself, skipping through his incandescent forests looking for mythical creatures to have adventures with.

Although Chilly’s paintings are by no means all child’s play, they do appeal to all ages. My 5-year old granddaughter delighted in his rendition of “Scream” (my title) “What the…?” (his title) while her father was captivated with the light literally flowing through the paintings. You see, many of Chilly’s paintings glow in the dark or shine brightly under black light. It’s very much like getting two paintings in one.

As an added bonus Chilly is not all whimsy and surrealism.  There is also a very realistic side to Chilly, evidenced in his portraits with eyes that shine and hair you can touch, all created with stunning detail.  Realistic or fanciful, all of his works are pieces that require more than just a passing glance. Spend a few minutes in front of one and you’ll find yourself pulled in and swallowed up by the sheer fun of it all. 

Please come out on October 7, 2012 and let us introduce you to William “Chilly” Bramlet. Enjoy a glass of wine and some light fare while losing yourself in these wonderful paintings. If you come early, for a nominal fee you can enjoy a full brunch buffet put on by Kerry’s Green before you head downstairs for an exhibit of a lifetime. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

Date: Sunday October 7, 2012

Time(s): Sunday Brunch, 10 am 2 pm  –   exhibit only, Noon – 4 pm (Gallery open during brunch)

Place: Handy Concepts Art Gallery at Kerry’s Green, 150 Country Club Road, Red Lion, PA 17356