My life with dogs…

IMG_3258.jpg

I grew up in two countries and in a sense two centuries. Literally from day one I had a dog. Here I am with my first love…Betty. She and I are both babies and this is in Canada  my first home. I come from a hunting, fishing, trapping family Betty was grandpa’s bird dog and his personal favorite. For the first formative years I lived in Canada then on and off for great periods of time so my father could keep his citizenship then all the rest of the time in Rochester where we had indoor bathrooms and grocery stores. We eventually had them in Canada too but it took longer so until we had indoor plumbing we had outhouses, pumps at the end of sinks and if we didn’t grow it, hunt it or fish it we didn’t eat. My grandmother was a warehouse of information on gardens, foraging, natural medicine. All the animals the men hunted were treated with respect and every bit used. I had bunny fur mittens, tanned deer hide jackets and for the adults she made purses, wallets, gloves, etc.  She could sew, knit, crochet, tan hides and even did fancy leather tooling. Bless her heart she tried to teach me but I was a disappointment in all those crafts.  Turns out my sisters inherited all those skills!

Besides Betty we had a long line of hunting dogs: beagles, blue tick hounds, red bone, retrievers of all sorts and a boxer named Flicka who was just a good dog, not a hunter.

I have lots of stories about all the dogs we had, I remember every one of them, but Betty’s is the most spectacular. When I was about 8 or 9 we were up in Canada it was late Summer/early Fall. My little brother, grandparents and I were sound asleep only to be violently awakened in the very middle, darkest part of the night with horrible screams, just the worst sound a dog could ever make.  Grandma grabbed my brother, took my hand. Grandpa came bursting out of his room and the oddest thing (of all the odd things that night) that I remember was he wore flannel pj’s with cowboys and horses all over them – he was cursing. Grandpa always kept a double barrel shotgun by the door, he stuck two shells in the barrel told us abruptly to stay back. He stepped out onto the side door landing which was just a cement pad with steps. It was pitch dark, he raised the gun and shot…we heard more gruesome animal sounds then an earth shaking thud and complete silence. He came back in, said he’d take care of the rest in the morning and we should all go back to bed. We did, one didn’t debate with my grandparents and we were all upset but not sure about what.

In the morning we woke to see a huge bear outspread on the gravel driveway, it looked like a bear rug!  In the back by the kennels I saw Grandpa – crying, he was burying Betty. The bear had gotten her that night and Grandpa didn’t want me to see her that way. We made a cross for her out of wood scraps. My brother and I sat on the back of the bear, like riding a horse until a friend of the family came by to take it to make a bear skin rug from the poor beast and we had lots of bear meat in the freezer. Believe me bear meat is not tasty!

Whenever I remember the “Canada Years” I always think of the stunning line from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s epic poem “In Memoriam A.H.H” ….nature is red in tooth and claw.” We hunted and fished but only took what was needed and we saw nature in ways most people never have the opportunity to witness.

When my life took some dramatic turns and I ended up living in a big city I had cats.  They all had there own kind of stories and I loved them. One I had for 17 years, Then a brother and sister one of which lived for 19 years. I love cats as much as I love dogs.  I’m not a one or the other kind of person.  When my 19 year old kitty died I took a break but was miserable. Animals have always been in my life.

I’m back in a more rural and comfortably familiar place. So I went to the pound and got a dog…Smokey. It just might be she’s the best dog I ever had. Smokey is a beagle mix but whatever she’s mixed with Beagle is her dominant nature, her nose is on the ground whenever we go for walks. She’s older (7 years), incredibly well trained and very sweet natured. I look forward to lots of good years with her.

18519566_1254902517942119_6262800828731087580_n.jpg

Advertisements

My conflicted relationship with winter…

img_2824It is in full swing here in the Berkshires but it’s not such a bad winter so far. I have a deeply conflicted relationship with winter I hate it but it really is pretty -there’s no denying that fact. It makes for great paintings! I keep trying to find out just “what” I hate about it and what I’ve come up with is

  • I don’t like to be cold.
  • I don’t like to be stuck inside and I have NO interest in winter sports.
  • It’s dark early and a lot for too long
  • I hate to shovel snow and especially hate when I have to roof rake!

But it is pretty and I love seeing all the animal tracks in my yard. I have just done 2 snow paintings from recent snowfalls. One is finished, one is in the works so I got to thinking about the winter paintings I’ve done which is a considerable number for only having 2 snowy winters of the 3 I’ve been in the Berkshires. Last winter there simply was no snow and it wasn’t even bitterly cold, needless to say it was my favorite winter in a long time.

Enjoy!

This is the most recent. 8 x 10 ” watercolor november-patch-of-snow

The next 3 are all quite small 5 x 7″ plein air mixed media paintings I did my first winter here.  One thing that keeps me sane in winter is turning my car into an art studio. I pick a spot, the car is warm and I listen to classical music and paint for a while. Actually pretty awesome.

dscn0659dscn0664

dscn0670

These next 4 are all experiments with media and gesture I did the first winter I was here.dscn0754

dscn0758

scott_a_5

dscn0835

While I like the rough immediacy of the ones above I wanted to soften it a bit which resulted in the next 2 watercolors.dscn0967

img_2823

I love the elegance of a snow covered field that has not been touched by man nor beast. This one sold to a very nice man who loves to xcountry ski. I think he could see himself skiing this field.SOLD  Winter Field, 20 x 14", watercolor, ink

The second winter I was here it snowed a LOT, hated it but focused on my back yard so all the following are watercolors I did inspired by all the sights in my yard.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdscn1016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some buildings in winter. Not in my back yard but close by and am working on another version of this one…Sheds, BerkshiresThe rest are all from driving around looking for ideas…img_1113This one has sold…More Snow Coming, 8 x 10", oil on boardOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spring rains….

May has not been a terrific month so far. Started out with non-stop rain, then yesterday and the night before we actually had snow! I hate snow especially when it lands on my flowers or anytime after February.

I am completely enchanted by how after rains the clouds hang in shreds off the tops of mountains and trees, here are a couple recent paintings trying to capture that…

Spring!

Spring hits me like having a few too many glasses of a nice wine. I get a little giddy, stare at baby leaves or flowers a long time, walk around with a goofy soft smile all the time. Spring is definitely my favorite season. That young green fills me with an indescribable joy. Watching my plants return out of a flat brown earth takes my breath away…how do they do that? What magic it all is.  My goal is to paint a painting all about that young green like Innes did in his painting “Green Landscape” which is at the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown, MA.  I’ve tried often but get so lost in the green that I ruin it maybe I’ll succeed this year. Stay tuned…IMG_1637.jpg

Drawing…

I often think it would be easy to walk away from painting and devote myself to drawing.  Sometimes I just get tangled up in paint, color and ideas, when that happens I put it all down and just draw. I believe drawing is the yogic breathing exercise of art…just breathe, sit still, inhale long and slow, exhale even longer and slower. Just breathe….

Quite some time ago I read an article in The Guardian on William Kentridge that struck a major chord with me, Kentridge said “For me, it was also very important that drawing was a monochromatic medium – that colour was not an essential part of it. When I worked with colour, I was always stuck with the question, “does this look nice?”, and that’s a terrible basis on which to be an artist. But [paint] it’s not a medium in which I think, and the vital thing about drawing for me is that it is a medium in which one can think.”

In art ones very first steps begin with drawing and so many of us move away from it too soon. I’m moving back to it more and more it works very well with my recent obsession of rocks and boulders…here are a few of the recent drawings. They are all charcoal, all 18 x 24, no titles yet.

I have been painting lots of the small streams around here and that lead me to the rocks, then I thought I’d do a roots & rocks series which I will but for now enjoy and you can see more of my work on annscottpainting.com

New painting!

IMG_0339

Ancestor, 30 x 22 in, oil on paper

I had to wait for parts of it to dry before finishing and while I waited I got dragged off into lots of other things that had nothing to do with painting. It’s so easy when that happens. So I’ve shut the door, turned the phone off and have been painting like crazy – it feels SO good! I have much to paint so disconnecting will be happening much more often. This painting was done from memory, saw this bare old pine on top of Mt. Greylock as I drove up but no place to stop & photo or sketch. You can see more of my work at http://www.annscottpainting.com