We all have those friends on Martha’s Vineyard who settle a little too comfortably into the solitude of the off-season. They are perfectly sociable in the sunny months, and then, as winter deepens, you see less and less of them. Come February, you start to wonder: Do they even still live here? Are they OK? Have they choked to death alone in their apartment?
The MVTimes Calendar section was worried about our artist and writer friends. They didn’t call, they didn’t email. There were very few scheduled book readings or art receptions. Which is normal in February, but not very helpful for editors of Arts & Entertainment sections. So we reached out to see what they were up to. To our joy, none of them had choked alone in their studios. In fact, many of them told us the solitude enabled them to be hard at work. As Nancy Aronie wrote, “The solitude and quiet are inspiring my everything, my life, my work. I wish there were three more Januarys and two more Februarys. It’s gone by way too fast.”
Other artists may have been a little more bored: the response to our questions was so enthusiastic, we ran out of room. We’ll run more next week.
What are you working on this winter? Let us in on any works in progress. Are you departing from a typical style? Experimenting? Getting ready for a show?
- This winter I will be working on two more 30-inch by 30-inch acrylic paintings to complement the latest series that I have been working on. Because these canvas-wrapped panels get shipped from California, there have been a number of delays, so I actually refinished two pieces of furniture and redecorated a room. The last painting I completed (“Another Day”) is inspiring the direction of my latest piece, and I am also designing a 20-inch by 20-inch painting for Featherstone’s 20th year celebration. —Donna Straw
- The West Tisbury library is one of the few year-round exhibit spaces on the Island. As a member of the library’s art committee, I help with the monthly exhibits of community artists. On Thursday mornings, I join a group of monoprinters at Featherstone. I write novels about art crime. On Monday nights I join one of John Hough’s writing groups, and on Tuesdays I read from my novels at Pathways. Pathways is as close to being in a salon as one can get on an Island this side of Paris. —Rob Hauck
- I’m busy scheduling the summer season of gallery shows with about 20 artists. As a photographer, I’m still shooting family portraits and working on editorial pieces for magazines. —Louisa Gould
- I was working on some large paintings in the abstract style that I do for a show in Atlanta. But now I’ve switched gears, and am working on some landscape/seascape commissions and painting for the Field Gallery and Granary Gallery this summer. —Colin Ruel
- Just for the winter, I’ve been departing from my color “Stars Over the Island” series to create new B&W pieces. I love B&W and I love color, so it’s fun for me to switch back and forth at times. —Christopher Wright
- I’ve been buried for months — actually years — in my studio, finishing book three of a memoir. I’m celebrating because I turned it in to the printer yesterday. Joe and I will be taking our Fine Romance van on a 20-city tour in May and June across country to independent bookstores to celebrate the books and also to celebrate the 30th year of my first book, “Heart of the Home.” —Susan Branch
- Last weekend I did a show in Atlanta called “Dance Among the Flowers.” This show is a culmination of three years of still-life paintings. Next I will be heading to Florida. After my Florida hiatus, I will return to the Vineyard before the budding of the forget-me-nots. —Bettie Eubanks
- I am working on new paintings and works on paper, inspired by mythical gardens. I have a solo exhibition at Addison/Ripley Gallery in Washington, D.C., on March 12. —Carol Brown Goldberg
- I’m putting the finishing touches on a book about the language of comics. “How to Read ‘Nancy’” should be out early next year. —Paul Karasik
- I’m working on portraits and paintings for two shows this year. The first is “A Slice of West Tisbury,” which will open in May at the West Tisbury library — we’ll be serving slices of pie! Then in August, I will be unveiling portraits and paintings of people and scenes of Vineyard Haven’s working waterfront at the Workshop Gallery. I am also starting work on a very large show for 2017 called “Artists in Art,” which involves portraits of Vineyard artists. —Elizabeth Whelan
- I am still traveling quite a bit to speak about my latest novel, “The Secret Chord,” which came out last fall. I’m not diving right into my next novel just yet, but instead I’m planning on briefly returning to my roots as a journalist in the Middle East for a special project that will require some reporting there in April. —Geraldine Brooks
- Winter presents the longest blocks of time to work on paintings. I am currently working on multiple-piece series (two and three pieces that will work together as a series). I have a number of large works on canvas in progress (48 inches by 48) as well. These will eventually find their way to the galleries or art consultants I work with. I enjoy having the time to create with relatively distant deadlines. I am finishing a three-piece commission for a hospital project in Boston that will be going out this week. Shipping and marketing are present year-round, but the winter seems to allow a little more breathing room for these jobs. I have been experimenting with some small works (8 inches by 8 and 16 inches by 16) this winter as well. These allow me a bit more freedom and spontaneity, which I am totally enjoying. —Deborah T. Colter
- I am painting on canvas and on paper. I am printing monotypes at Featherstone Center for the Arts. I am preparing for an exhibit at the Field Gallery in August and for an ongoing show of my work at the North Water Gallery. —Wendy Weldon
- I’m researching a book on the travels of Frederick Law Olmsted, who was a writer and adventurer before he designed Central Park. Among other things, he went undercover through the South for the New York Times on the eve of the Civil War. I’m writing about what he saw then, and what I see now while retracing his path at another time of national division. —Tony Horowitz
- I am currently working on a stop-motion animation music video. I’m working on a couple more-video related works for a band called Freddy and Francine, who are flying me out to New Orleans to shoot some material with them on tour. When things are quiet, I’m illustrating and/or working on my film “The Seed Series,” which features dancers from The Yard and handmade masks, all within the natural diverse settings on the Island. My secret project is my little illustrated book about my pet chicken, who’s survived at least three near-death experiences. —Danielle Mulcahy
- I just returned from exhibiting at a trade show in New York City, where I was displaying my jewelry for shops and galleries around the country to browse. I have new galleries in Arkansas, California, Texas, Missouri, and Connecticut that will be showing my work in the coming year, which I’m really excited about. After that show I traveled to Tucson, Ariz., for the gem show, and picked out some beautiful new stones and beads for an upcoming collection. I am working with a plater to plate some antique jewelry components that I’ve salvaged. So they’re coming back from the theater with fresh new finishes and taking on a whole new life. I look forward to working more with those in the coming months. —Stefanie Wolf
- I’ve been focusing on refining my painting process of scratching wax and pan pastels with various sharp tools such as needles, tungsten scribes, tattoo needles, and sticks. I rarely use brushes. My method of painting is an iterative process, wherein various forms of pastel are applied, scratched away, reapplied, and scratched again, a process repeated until the surface depiction is both receptive to my vision and stimulates creative exploration. Each aspect of a painting represents discovery. I never concern myself with how long a painting takes to complete. My aim is to be pleased with a finished product that is unique and special. —Harry Seymour