"Barns of Shenandoah" Exhibition Opens Feburary 3!

Obliteration  by Sally Veach

Obliteration by Sally Veach

Hello all!  

I'm so excited to finally finish up all my barn paintings and prepare them for display at the Delaplaine Arts Center in Frederick, MD!  The show runs from February 3-25, 2018, and the opening reception will be Saturday, February 3, from 3:00 to 5:00 PM.  I will be giving an artist's talk during the reception when we'll discuss my paintings, their meanings, processes, and inspirations.  There will also be another artist showing work in an adjacent gallery, and visitors will be able to enjoy both openings and artist talks.

We'll also present the Shenandoah County Historical Society's newly-formed Shenandoah County Barn Programand talk about their goals and my vision for establishing a fund to support it. It is my greatest desire for the fund to one day be substantial enough to grant financial assistance to barn owners for maintenance and preservation of these beautiful but obsolete structures. I am trying everything I know how to make that a reality for us, the future residents of Shenandoah County, and those who find solace and rejuvenation by visiting!  While it is uncertain at this beginning stage, how extensive fundraising will be, at the very least any donations received will be used towards the Historical Society's barn preservation program.  So much depends on whether the public gets excited about the prospect of saving barns and wants to help!

To kick off this effort I will donate 20% of proceeds from all Barns of Shenandoah paintings to the Shenandoah County Historical Society's barn program, led by Shenandoah County Historical Society board member, John Adamson.  For questions regarding the program, please contact either me at sally@sallyveach.com or John at adamsons@shentel.net. 

I would love to see you at this celebration of my finished body of work, the kick start to creating awareness of our barns' peril, and the possibility of doing something about it!  Frederick is also a great town with many creative restaurants, shops, and located in a beautiful part of the country. 

Hope to see you there!

With Gratitude,

Sally XOXO

PS. Oh, I also have published a catalog of the Barns paintings.  If you would like to purchase one you can do so here!


Shenandoah County Historic Barns Project

One of the few remaining pre-civil war barns in Shenandoah County, VA.

One of the few remaining pre-civil war barns in Shenandoah County, VA.

With great excitement, I am announcing an ambitious project to raise awareness of the historic barns in our county, and perhaps raise funds to contribute to their preservation!

During my artistic journey, I have constantly been awed by the beautiful nature of Shenandoah County.  But recently it became evident that there was something man-made to be inspired by:  our historic and charming barns! 

Residents of a rural community often become desensitized to the unique, historical treasure that is right beneath our noses.  I know I was.  But recently, a fleeting interest led to an obsession, and I am now on a path to help save these barns.  I hope you will join me!

Along with friend and photographer, He-Kyung Park Barr, we are working to identify ten Shenandoah County barns of historical importance and visual charm. Then I will produce a large interpretative painting of each one, and He-Kyung hopes to create photographs of the barn's unique characteristics.  The next step is to have a major exhibition somewhere in the Shenandoah Valley.  

Along with this exhibition, I want to create an online campaign to provide funds for the preservation of historic and at-risk barns.  A portion of the sales from my paintings will be contributed to the fund. And we will ask for ongoing donations to perpetually fund the project. If this project is successful, owners of qualifying barns will be able to apply for grants to help preserve them for themselves, their community, and posterity! 

In my conversations with barn owners, I have heard more than once that many are just trying to find a way to keep their barns from falling down. Maintaining an historic barn is a daunting responsibility.  And It is an expensive task.  Most of the time, owners know the historical importance of their barns, but so often it is not practical to keep them maintained, and the decision has to be made whether to tear them down or not.

We hope we can help people NOT tear them down!  If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming involved with this project, please contact me at sally@sallyveach.com.  

This is just the beginning.  A spark creates an idea, and with added fuel, much can be accomplished!

Sometimes I go too far (or do I?)

The conundrum of discernment

"Out of control" stage of  Ediburg Gap

"Out of control" stage of Ediburg Gap

With each painting, there are many stages.  It's a necessary consequence of an intuitive painting method. Often I don't like what happens during the process, but I don't know how (or don't want to) paint any other way for now. Having a road map is just too contrived, and where it may produce prettier paintings, mere pretty paintings is not what I want to accomplish!

Above is an "out of control" stage of my painting "Edinburg Gap".  Funny thing is, I really liked it when it happened! Enough to take a picture, crop it, and download it to my computer. But a version of a painting is an endangered species, at very high risk of becoming extinct.  And this version no longer exists.

What I wonder is, did I go too far or should I have had confidence that this wild version of "Edinburg Gap" was the one to savor and present to the world? The aim in my current work is to continually refine and define what I want to say as an artist: My particular expression. 

This is the duty of the artist.

Below are all of the stages that "Edinburg Gap" went through. It began auspiciously, got a little muddled, became clear, went crazy, and then was reined in. The reined in version is beautiful to me, but yes, it's safe. Safe is OK, but what about crazy?


Stage One: Auspicious

Stage One: Auspicious

Stage Two:  Muddled

Stage Two:  Muddled

Stage Three: Out of Control

Stage Three: Out of Control

Stage Four: Reined In and final version of "Edinburg Gap".

Stage Four: Reined In and final version of "Edinburg Gap".

Getting Ready to Send Blog Posts Out!

I am testing whether I can send blog posts out to my newsletter subscribers, thereby simplifying the ways I can communicate with people who are interested in my studio practice.  

I went for a walk today and was so inspired by the following photographs!

Nothing Gets You Going Like Art Supplies

Hey all.  It's true. Nothing's gets you going like ordering a plethora of art supplies. It commits you to a new, long term project and solidifies the ideas in your head. This is my problem: I have too many ideas in my head. This is how I operate with all things anyway. The day goes like this:  Great idea, start working on it.  Great idea, start working on it. Great idea, start working on it.
haha.  Well today I ordered 10 large canvases and 5 smaller ones.  As I clicked the order through, out came a commitment.  It is often difficult to focus on a certain series because I have so many inspiring reference photos and visual memories to draw from.  Our recent trip to Daufuski Island really floated my boat (pun intended), with hundreds of soft, warm grey scenes and vivid sunset and sunrise, and colorful water scenes. But for a long time, I have been building an interest in blue and white cloud compositions, and have amassed a huge repertoire of photos from my daily travels in Shenandoah County, VA.  I need to finish what has been started...continue this project till the inspiration is exhausted.  So my plan is to thoroughly explore white clouds on blue surfaces for the time being.
Its becoming apparent that this blog is helping me focus.  Thank you for listening.

Dark Days of Winter are for Deep Progress

I am a thinking being.  When not making art, I spend my time thinking.  As opposed to doing.  Which can be problematic at times. But when one thinks a lot, one tends to want to share their thoughts with others, which is maybe why we have writers. It seems I use this blog as a way to organize my thoughts and also share them.  We all need connection with the outside world. For one who tends to stay "inside" a lot, writing is a way to connect to those who may share some of the same thoughts or at least appreciate them.
Winter is a time for introspection-- for going even further inside my desires for making art, and where my art should go, what I want to do, to say, to express.  Art for me is both an intellectual and emotional/expressive act.  If it were purely expressive or emotional, then it would not matter what it looked like. The entire point would be transference of feelings or energy to a surface. I can visualize what my art would look like, if that were the case. Picture the work of abstract expressionists like Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler. Artwork that I love. Maybe I should just let it go, and do art like that.  But I'm too intellectual. I'm living in my brain too much.  So I want more.  I want both.


There is an effect  I want to achieve with color, mainly, which is the effect of light shining on surfaces, and involves the science of color. Problem is, this requires careful mixing of colors according to their relative characteristics of hue, saturation, temperature, and value.  I'm trying to achieve visually tantalizing interactions of color, but at the same time, have the need to express myself kinetically. This involves getting lost in brush strokes, attacks on the canvas, and the like...in effect, getting carried away. The two are difficult to marry.

Acrylic paints and utensils...as I left them.

Acrylic paints and utensils...as I left them.

 "Lady Bug" by Joan Mitchell, 1957  

 "Lady Bug" by Joan Mitchell, 1957

Acrylic paints and utensils....as I left them.

Acrylic paints and utensils....as I left them.

I'll approach a painting with at least a vague idea, but sometimes a more concrete one, such as an inspirational photograph I've taken.  I'll have certain colors that seem good to start with, an idea of what I want to achieve.  But from there it often takes turns to the unknown and unplanned.  This is a good thing. Trick is, ending up in a place acceptable to the taskmaster.  And I am very hard to please.  When the physical, expressive act obliterates the intellectual aim, the painting is ruined. Sometimes it is ruined again and again, after being rescued over and over. 

But  there is a third element that makes the process even more complicated. You--The Audience. An artist needs an audience because art is communication as well as expression.  (Well, when we express we communicate, so there you have it.)  In order to communicate, people need to receive what you create.  So there is an interaction when paintings are exposed to the world. You hope to get feed back...positive, negative, or just "not interested". As a still-emerging artist, I've experimented with different styles and methods of painting.  Here is what has happened: The more representational paintings are more popular.  But I want to do more abstract paintings. So, despite that it's obvious artists need to do what inspires themselves the most, it's a pull that influences me.  At times I spin my wheels, not fully committed to this path or that path, no matter what path I am on.

Time is short-- there's lots to do, lots to accomplish.  Projects are waiting to get started. For the next several months, I'll be diving deeper into what exactly I want to create.  You can expect, no matter what, expressive, colorful paintings inspired by nature.  I plan to explore one path, then explore another.  I hope some of what I create impacts you.  Art is a gift to the world--can I make you feel the joy of the landscape, can I make you feel the love, this spectacle that is our awesome world?  If I did, it was a good gift.

I hope you have a fruitful end of 2016, experience lots of joy with your loved ones, and come out the other side of this dark, introspective season into a spring full of possibilities, light, and love!

Where Do I Go From Here?

It's been a long, (or short, really) year of learning about art.  I am humbled by those who have told me they appreciate what I am doing, and enjoy seeing my paintings posted on-line and in exhibitions.  I'm even more humbled by those who spent valuable dollars to acquire one or more my paintings to keep them company in their homes.  It really feels like an adoption when they are sold.  I am so happy that something I do can give joy and meaning to others.

Early this year, I began this spur of my art journey....completed over 40 paintings and sold over 20.  At a couple points, it seemed like the train was traveling too fast.  Got through several shows and a couple commissions. Then in the beginning of November, my sisters, daughter, and niece went on an epic trip to India. Can't describe the magnitude of this cultural experience. Wow--the definition of life re-set.  Put it on a different scale.
Everything is relative.  Be so happy for what you have.  Remember love and beauty are everywhere--beauty has no limits. Sneak it in there, even in the darkest places.
So from here, where do I go?  It's time to slow down a bit, and enjoy the process of refining my art.  There's a lot more to learn, a lot further to travel.  But we know the journey does not end. Perhaps that's the beauty in it all.
Love to all, in this winter month.  Endings....looking towards beginnings of things yet to come.

Why an Art Sale is More than it Seems

A couple weeks ago, I sold my first large painting, Lily Pond, measuring 40" X 40" framed.  The transaction was amazing.  Thinking about it now gives me goose bumps, just as it did when we placed Lily Pond in the customer's dining room.  I learned at that moment that an art sale is so much more than it seems.
When a work of art sells, it is of course exciting for everyone. We all know the artist needs to sell in order for her practice to survive, and the patron needs the right painting to complement and enrich his or her home.  But the transaction goes far beyond these basic benefits. I learned then just how rich the relationship between artist and patron really is. 
There is so much more to what happens in art when it is created with authenticity, from within, which Lilly Pond was.  I created Lily Pond to express my love for nature and especially my love for a koi pond that sits in our backyard. A few weeks ago, my customer visited my current exhibition "Impressions of Shenandoah & Beyond" at Shenandoah Vineyards.  She recently told me how much she loved Lily Pond, and had decided she really wanted it; only she just needed to make sure it would go with her current décor.  We made arrangements to bring the painting by her home to see.
Walking up to my customer's home, with large painting in arms, I was filled with  a sense of purpose and meaning. This is because I created something that spoke to me, fulfilled my need for expressing the beauty of our world, and was something that flowed out from within me.  I was proud of the painting whether or not it was a good fit for the customer's home. But when we put the painting on her sideboard, we both exclaimed with delight.  I was astounded at how wonderful it looked in her setting. We jumped up and down and even hugged each other. A strange transfer was happening, where the meaning of this creation which started with me was continuing through her. It was incredibly surprising! I did not expect this richness.
What transpired was not an exchange of craft for money. It was a symbiotic relationship of goodness, where an artist's meaningful creation also becomes a meaningful addition to someone else's life.  The inspiration of beauty never tires.  "Love" is the epitome of "meaning".  When a patron supports an artist, he or she validates the artist's raison d' etre, and gives her permission to keep going on her artistic path. I call this a form of love. Beauty and love are all that matters in this world.
This is why an art sale is so much more than what it seems!

Be You

Today I spent a good deal of time working and playing with my friend He-kyung. We were making a video my life as an artist, and my working methods.  She is a film and photography major, and like me is emerging into the art world in midlife. She came to my house last night, and we stayed up late solving everyone's and the world's problems. I'm sure by the time we were done, half of what is wrong in the world could have been fixed. Or at least we by then knew how to dictate actions to make things right, don't you know!
In addition to a beer, a glass of wine, a comfy couch and a blanket, and a cat to stroke on ones lap, a good friend is all you need to make everything right. And my art life is getting more exciting!  Wonderful friends and art appreciators attended the opening of my show, Impressions of Shenandoah &Beyond.  And better, they bought several paintings!  Add that to a couple commissions, and a few sales before the show, and wow, there's a lot of red "sold" labels on my work now!  But that's not all. Shortly after the show, I received word that my painting 81 was accepted into a competitive, juried show. And the juror was the exhibition manager of The Phillips Collection in Washington DC!  Wow! There are less doubts in my mind now that what I am doing is on the right track. Or at least it's on a "worthy enough" track to keep going. I see where the path is leading and have just a bit more confidence.  (Always a good thing!)
But things have been a little crazy. All of the sudden I'm ccataloging work, printing out invoices, writing thank-you notes, updating my website, ordering more business cards, researching galleries, establishing contacts in the art world, etc. etc. There hasn't been time to paint all week!  But finally, today He-Kyung filmed me working on a commission, and it was good to play with gobs of paint again.
This time spent with my friend just felt right. It was my time.  As many people, usually women slightly older than me, have said....finally, it's your time.  So often, women like me decide to wait 50 years to do what they want and pursue their desires and careers.  It's ok. I am so lucky to be able to do this, and really should have/could have done it earlier if not for fears and false beliefs.
I am so happy and filled with satisfaction to have made these recent achievements. But before them, I studied, studied, and studied. In the past year, I took a workshop by artist Casey Klahn, and completed two intense, three month long master classes with artists Mary Bentz Gilkerson and Nicholas Wilton, and working on a third. I even took a class on the business of art by Crista Coultier, and rounded it off with a class on Self Compassion by Brene Brown.  (An art practice is multi-faceted!)  Add to that, countless hours reading about art and artists, galleries and exhibitions, artists views and the views of art writers.  I'll continue to enter competitions and contact galleries, but the crowning act will be if I get the residency I applied for at the Vermont Studio Center. Hoping that a month of solitary art making is in my future next year!
Many thanks in gratitude for reading this post. As a thank you, I'd like to leave off with a poem that I wrote towards the beginning of this year. The writing of this poem marks the embarkation of my dedication to My Art and My Time. It was written in the middle of the night, after a slow realization that the story of my life was not written yet.
Be You
Enjoy thoughts at midnight
      to touch on
            the essence of you.
Not him
      whose presence looms large.
Your Self
      is waiting to be found.

Born Again at 53

What would you do if you were born already knowing how to paint and draw?  Would you like to know that one person--me--has been born again, this time with ready-made art skills?  Do you care?  You should. This is the phenomenon of mid-life, female artists.  More than half of the population on earth is female.  We are not unique but our art is rare in the upper echelons of the art world.  Why? I believe it is because many women--made by god, made by nature-- are care givers, keepers of the psyche, emotional confidants, rescuers, protectors, lovers, and helpers.  We want to help you, love you, care for you. We care about others, we share, we give.  Women are not only this, but yes, they are this.
How we are made often lead us to forsake our own pursuits for the greater good of our loved ones.  After my BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University, I worked for about five years in the graphic arts, and then married, had children, "settled down" and gave up all my own pursuits to give everything to my family.  This is what I wanted to do.  I did it.
Was that the best thing for me to do?  Probably not. Perhaps it was easier to focus on others instead of myself.  I put off all those existential questions:  Am I good enough?  Can I make it?  It took all that uncertainty, anxiety, out of the picture.  My certainty was what was best for the family, and whether it was a mistake or not, this is how I find myself born again into the art world at 53.  My children are grown, my husband needs space, but most importantly, I need space, I need growth, I need care, love, support.  And I need to express and create.  I always have.  Now I am emerging from that womb of self-denial; the path is painful, but life is so worth it.
A studio now exists--a space of my own.  Paintings line the walls around me.  History lives in the brush strokes, palette knife swipes, scratchings, scraping-aways. Ghosts of paintings that once graced canvases lean against the wall.  It's good to know that there is a history; I have already been re-born. The delivery was long but today I can look at what has been produced and know that yes, I am on my way. 
Because I was born so old, things have to happen fast.  Already know how to draw; already know how to paint pictures of things. There's no time to waste. It's time now to be an artist.  You will find me experimenting, and things will change. But you will always know I am reaching down inside me, inside my guts, through my heart, around my head, and placing on canvas or board the unique expressions of one artist.  Like snowflakes--we are all different. My beauty, my mystery, my terror. It will all be there, and it will be mine.  Yet...yet...a gift to the world still. How cool is that?