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Curating

A friend recently asked me how I find subjects to paint. That’s easy! Either I paint what I’m told (a commission) or I paint what moves me.

Because I like systems, if I see something wonderful when I’m out and about (the way the light falls on the grass, the way a walking trail meanders through fallen leaves, a misty morning), I snap a few photos at different exposures to remind me. If possible, I’ll spend a few minutes paying attention to details the photos will lose and the reason I am moved. It’s a good meditative exercise regardless! Then, at the end of the day, one of those photos will go into an album I call “Next.”

Other times, when I find myself perseverating on an emotion, a memory or some other idea that won’t go away, I’ll be on the lookout for some visual element that feels emblematic. When I see it, I store a snap of it in “Next,” as well.

Then, when I’m ready to do some compositional design, I start by going through my “Next” album and deciding what idea I want to start working with. For me it’s the perfect balance of organization and random opportunity. Planning and serendipity.

Choosing what’s going to be in a show is a different process. Often a show will have a specific theme, which makes choosing the paintings easy (or easier, anyway). In the case of the Farmington Library show, the focus was left up to me, and that‘s harder. It was my Studio Manager who suggested Close to Home as our theme because we wanted the exhibition to support local organizations, and many of my landscapes are from the Farmington Valley.


Then there’s the choosing, the framing and the hanging. None of these things are my specialty, but somehow we did it! My husband, it turns out, is a master hanger. With more than 30 paintings lining the walls, I didn’t have a clue as to how to go about ordering them. Had I been in charge, it would have been a long, boring, random lineup. Steve somehow figures out what goes with what, hangs them in groupings that look lovely, and, being a tall guy, doesn’t even need a ladder.

Bottom line: Painting may be a solo pursuit, but curating a show is a team effort, and I’m very grateful for my team and all their work and support in getting this show hung.

I hope you’ll come to the show, which is up through November 15, and if you’re around on October 16, we’re hosting a reception at the library from 1-3 p.m.

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