New News From Milk Barn Studio

Generosity, respect, and kindness

Stream For Share

New News – June 2020

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

It is with a heavy heart, in light of current circumstances, that I write my second ‘News’. I have been painting nearly every day since mid-March and am grateful for the meditation, peace, and joy I find at my easel. The pastel portrait painter Claudia Post said “Art is my best friend. It has never failed me; it has given me a purpose and respect.” I love that. I hadn’t quite thought of my art in those terms but I can totally relate to it. Now, more than ever, my art feels like a steady companion that I can lean into for solace in these troubled times.

I am a middle and high school teacher for the Amherst School District. I, and all of my colleagues, have been teaching virtually since mid-March. In order to start the day in the positive before spending hours on my computer, I begin by cycling or walking my favorite routes in Montague. I listen for the songs of birds still arriving, witness the daily transformation in the landscape, and feel the strengthening sun as it touches my skin. I feel fortified and inspired by nature, my muse. I believe that nature is the master painter and we artists are paying homage to her through our respective mediums. It is a relationship of mutual respect; the kind I believe Claudia Post referred to.

In personifying my art as Post did, as my best friend, I know that it is always ready for me to interpret life as I see and feel it through paint. It respects that I am constantly reading, studying, and practicing in order to improve my skills and deepen my understanding of the science of art. It loves when I add something to a painting, smile, and say “Nice. I like that!” It also holds the space when I need to cry in my studio about what’s going wrong in the world knowing that I will find my way back to the easel with brush or pastel stick in hand. It reminds me that art is activism, education, and essential to the health of humankind. It encourages me to manifest beauty and to remind others of the sanctity of life.

On one of my recent bike rides I discovered a beautiful spot just outside of the village center. A stream runs through the side of someone’s private property. I saw a sign with a painting of colorful trout on it. The sign reads “Welcome to our land, please fish and have fun. But take home your trash when your fishing is done.” My heart smiled as I read the words and then I walked the shared land and took photos from which I painted “Stream For Share”. I painted this image several times before the final one. Each painting was informed by the beauty of the spot and the generosity and kindness of strangers.