Thursday, December 12, 2013

La Chaine des Aravis

The view from our team chalet here in Le Grand Bornand is of la Chaine des Aravis (the Aravis range), and I don't think I would ever tire of looking at it.  Clearly, it had to be painted.

This afternoon is our first race here--the women's relay.  We should get to start in the front row of nations because of our good relay in Hochfilzen.  We're all excited, it should be fun!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How to...

pass 2 hours in a hotel without internet:  

And now my new computer is decorated!  

Admittedly, there are a lot of other ways to pass two hours in a hotel without internet.  For instance, I could have made a painting instead.  I did do some painting, but its not finished yet.  I spent the last week in Hochfilzen, Austria and just traveled yesterday to our new world cup venue in Le Grand Bornand, France.  Austria was beautiful, but France is blowing me away.  I promise some art soon.  But for now, here are a few pictures. 

In Hochfilzen, I had one good race, and one bad race.  The sprint was not good.  Well, there were some good parts of it, but I missed three in prone, which is just never good.  I felt like I was starting to get the feel of racing on skis though, and my one miss in standing was OK...but the end result was not what I was hoping for and I didn't qualify for the pursuit.  Its funny how easily a good biathlon race can turn into a bad biathlon race.  In a period of 30 seconds, you can miss enough targets to just put you out of it.  And sometimes the misses are SO close!  But thats also what makes it exciting.  Luckily I got another chance to hit my targets the very next day in a relay.  And somehow, magically, the pieces all fell together and I felt good skiing and cleaned prone and only used one spare in standing, and it was FUN!  I got to ski with people, use some tactics, and pass people too, especially in the range.  It was even more magical because all of the other girls had good days too--Sara and Lanny both cleaned, and together we all used only 3 spares and ended up in 8th place, which is the best U.S. Women's relay result in a long time.  Once again, biathlon is showing how much of a roller coaster ride it is.  

This is the view from my window as I write this here in Le Grand Bornand.  I am so lucky!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Night Racing in Ostersund

Look! An up-to-date post!!

I'm in Ostersund, Sweden right now for the first biathlon World Cup of the year!  I'm feeling very lucky and happy to be here, and psyched for racing.  We were supposed to race the 15k individual last night, but gale force winds caused it to be cancelled at the last minute, and it was postponed to this afternoon.  It was a less-than-stellar first race for me, with 8 misses.  There's not much you can when you have 8 minutes added to your time.  But my first world cup race of the season is under my belt, and I hope to improve upon my 80th place finish tomorrow in the sprint!  I'm not sure if its a good thing, but I couldn't help but notice that there was a beautiful sunset the entire time I was racing. The sunsets are so long here!  Every time I came down the final turn into the stadium, I would think about how pretty it was.

Tomorrow we race at night again, under the lights!  I'm excited, I like racing under the lights, for some reason it makes it feel more exciting and I feel like I'm going faster.  And the lights look pretty in the trees too.

Catching up on my documentation

I haven't been doing as good a job as I'd wanted to yet at documenting all of the places I go, and what I'm doing.  I swear I'm going to start doing that now!  But first I wanted to catch up by posting some documentation of my summer!  Nils and I lived in Keene, NY for the summer, so I could train with the US Biathlon team in Lake Placid without having to live at the Olympic Training Center there.  I loved being in Keene, and the house that we rented had lots of character.  Keene is also right in the middle of the Adirondack high peaks, so I had a great time exploring lots of new mountains and good trail runs.

Our home for the summer.

On my way to a fall run in the high peaks.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Experimenting with Aspens and Masking Fluid

I have a visual obsession with Aspen trees.  
I should have taken more pictures of this process, but you sort of get the idea.  It was sort of like print-making, or Ukrainian egg-dying.  I took masking fluid (rubber-cement-like stuff that blocks paint) and painted the shape of the white trees.  Then I painted light yellow over the whole page.  Once that was dry, I made a layer of dots with the masking fluid. Once that was dry, I painted a darker yellow over the whole page...and then I continued this process, until almost the whole page was covered in masking fluid and layers of paint.  It actually looked pretty cool, and had a bumpy, glossy texture from all of the dried masking fluid.  But next was the fun part--slowly peeling it all off to see what was underneath!  It was a fun little art adventure.  

I'm still in Utah, and the Aspen leaves are mostly turned brown and fallen off now, but there are still a few around and they're still beautiful.  On top of that, the last of the rollerski biathlon trials races was yesterday, and I hit all of my targets for the first time ever in a race!  It was a good feeling, and solidified my ticket to Europe in November.  It feels like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders!  

Wearable Art!

I made these felt slippers a few years ago when I was in New Zealand.  They were so comfy that I wore holes in the bottoms quickly.  So I gave them a functional and aesthetic makeover!  Extra felt padding on the bottoms, soft leather soles, and some colorful stitching!  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

RIP "Pooface"

Pooface was my beloved old macbook.  She was thus named because one night when I was at college the letters POOFACE mysteriously appeared on her.   As you can see, by the end of her life, only the OOF was left.  She died of inability to recharge, after a long struggle with injuries inflicted by a fall. 

The collage art on the back of Pooface was done while I was in stats class.  

I just got a new macbook, and will soon be catching up on the art that you've missed while I was still in my mourning period for Pooface.  The new mac is shiny and silver and very impersonal, and will also need to be named and decorated soon!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Utah time

Minus a few awfully oversized and hideous houses, this is my take on the view from our (awfully oversized and hideous) home-away-from-home.  But other than my aesthetic and environmental complaints about the house, I really can't complain at all.  It is a great location, and lots of space for all of us. 

The biathlon team's annual Utah training camp has just begun.  This is only my second year out here, but I already feel like its an October tradition.  Its a great place to train.  And once again I'm amazed by the the beautiful, subtle array of colors in the hills here.  And then of course there are the aspens, which aren't subtly-colored at all, and are just awesome.   

We're out here to get in some good altitude training, and also because there are two rollerski races out here next week that constitute the second half of the trials races for being chosen to head to Europe in November.  And heading to Europe in November is definitely a goal of mine for this year!  It would be the jump-start to my season that I was missing last year.  


When I started this blog, it was meant to make me do more art, because I like to create stuff and it makes me happy, but sometimes its easier not to.  So the blog was going to encourage me, while also being a more unique way of documenting my travels and adventures as a ski racer and biathlete.  It worked pretty well for a while--I was painting more and loving it.  But slowly I started to feel like I had to make each painting perfect.  I started thinking more about trying to sell art, and more about what people might want to buy.  I started to paint less because I was putting too much pressure on myself!  And most of my paintings were from photographs.  I don't think that painting from a photograph is necessarily a bad thing, but I want to be more versatile and creative than just that.  

So now, as I commence the traveling portion of my year, and as I work towards trying to make it onto the world cup and maybe even the Olympics, I've decided that I need to rejuvenate my blog.  I want to document my travels through art.  I've created some guidelines for myself to follow.  Now I will commence trying to follow them!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Habe die Ehre!

(pronounced Habedairy, more or less) is a traditional Bavarian greeting or farewell, that literally means "have the honor".  I love the way the phrase rolls off the tongues of the native Bavarians that I've met over here, and I also love the meaning.  It is said with a jovial respect--sort of happy and yet meaningful at the same time, and it seems to me like a badge of mountain-dweller honor to be greeted in such a way.
So thats why I decided to name the cow in this painting "Habedairy".  I made friends with it when I went for a hike with a few of my teammates up to an Alm where we got drinks and ate cheese made at the Alm, presumable from the milk of this cow and her compatriots.  I swatted the flies away from her and rubbed the top of her nose, and then she decided that I was her friend and drooled all over my leg while I took a picture of her.  LOTS of drool.
I just wish that I could have somehow captured in my painting the music of the ringing cowbells echoing across the hillside.  But alas, paint is inadequate for capturing some things.

I'm in Bavaria right now at a training camp with the rest of the U.S. Biathlon team.  We train at the Ruhpolding biathlon stadium, which hosts a world cup every year that thousands of fans attend, and the stadium is a tourist attraction all summer long--every day huge tours come through to watch the biathletes train.  Its pretty weird, especially since most people in the U.S. don't know what biathlon is!
We also get to go running, hiking, biking and rollerskiing on the little roads and trails throughout the area, and I am in awe with the flowerboxes on all the houses, and the sheer number of picturesque farms.  There will likely be more Bavarian paintings to come!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Yikes! I need to catch up!

I've been bad--I stopped posting to my blog for about 6 months.  That is way too long!  And I've painted quite a bit in that time, so it's inexcusable.  I didn't paint much from my Antholz post through the end of the winter.  But then in May I spent a week at the Johnson Studio Center, doing a painting residency as part of their Vermont Artists Week.   It was a great change of focus from my life of biathlon racing and training, and it was a great experience.  I met lots of interesting VT artists and admired lots of work that was very different from mine.  And I painted a lot.  But by the end of the week, I was actually almost tired of painting.  My paintings seemed boring to me compared to everyone else's work, and though I'd done a lot of painting, I sort of felt like I should have accomplished even more.  I had a rushed transition back into training life, and I never even got pictures of all of my paintings, let alone posted them here.  I still don't have pictures of the oil paintings I did there, which took up most of my time.

And then spring turned into summer...and I have been slow at getting back into painting.  But I've done a little, and gotten really into a few projects for friends that I can't spoil by posting here now.  So despite the fact that this is an incomplete catching-up, here it is!  Just a few of the paintings from my spring and summer.

A pleine aire painting I did in Johnson.

A couple of kids, standing in front of their bamboo-jungle at the Koons' farm.  

More goofy kids playing on their seesaw.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Antholzer Wald

Antholzer Wald  Watercolor  12x16

Most of the Antholz valley (Antholzertal) is filled with open farmland and beautiful solidly-built alpine-style barns and houses with ornate woodwork.  But all along the edges of the valley, where the land is too steep to graze on, are tall straight fir trees.  These steep hillsides show signs of logging--lots of scattered small streaks of cleared timber that must have been hard work to log.  I definitely wonder a bit at how they avoid erosion on those super-steep faces--though the clearcuts are small and spread out and almost look like natural slides or something, they still must get some erosion problems.  At the base of the valley are large lumber-yards with stacks upon stacks of extremely well-organized lumber.  So apparently all those little hillside mini-clearcuts must yield a lot of timber.  Looking at those stacks of lumber, I remembered that Holz means wood (or lumber) in German.  So Antholz was actually named after its timber.  If they'd wanted to refer to the "woods" they would have said "wald" instead of "holz."  The Italian name for the valley--Anterselva--also shows this meaning as well.  Imagine that if it were allowed to return to its natural state, the entire valley would be a beautiful but significantly less sunny sylvan landscape.  I painted this from a photo I took as I skied the pass at the end of the valley, called Staller Pass.  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Photographs and Quick Paintings

I take a lot of photos with my little cheap point-and-shoot.  Some come out really bad, and some come out pretty good--good enough to use as references for painting!  But usually I don't think of the photos themselves as art; they're just a means to capture pretty moments to remember them or to paint them later.  But I like these two photos better as photos than as things to paint, I think.  I tried painting one of them, and the results of that are further below.  

Antholz is so beautiful when its sunny and you can see the mountains...but I tried taking pictures of this shed when it was sunny, and I didn't like them nearly as much.  (Antholz, Italy)

Maybe I should have converted these to black and white...they almost already are, anyway. 

Looking at this now, I could really go back and work on it some more, and it would probably get a lot better. Maybe I'll still do that.  But at the time, I just wanted to do a quick painting and use my masking fluid some more.  

I used the masking fluid for this one too.  I really only did it because when I went to use my paper-block, the top sheet had a blue smear left on it, so I had to paint this one before I could paint the one above.  They're meant to be aspens, but they came out looking a lot more like birch trees.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pigs and Lessons

Oop, I thought I'd published this last week, but then I signed on to make a new post, and this was still just a draft!  So now its even later than before.  I'd blame it on the really terrible internet here in Italy, but its probably just my fault.  Here it is: 

I'm sorry to everyone that I went for so long without posting anything.  I'm also just sorry that I didn't  paint more in the last few months...painting always makes me happy.  But its also not that I wasn't painting at all; it was that I'd stalled on a painting.  And I should have known better.  I'd decided that since I'd had so much fun making my previous pig painting,  I would do another one.  I'd been struggling to come up with a new idea for a painting, and this was the best I could think of, but I just wasn't that excited about it at the time.  And I started it on big paper, in a very detailed style.  So I ened up working on it very slowly,  in a somewhat-less-than-enthusiastic manner for a long time.  Like all of my paintings, it went through some stages where I almost decided that it was really awful an wasn't worth continuing to work on.  But I wouldn't let my self start another one until it was done.  Finally by the end of it, as I was getting happier with how it looked, I got into it and was having more fun.  And I'm quite happy with it now.  So I learned a few lessons:  

1.  It really is worth pushing through the ugly-phase to try to make paintings better.
2.  Make sure I'm really excited about an idea before I start painting.
3. There isn't really any reason to make myself finish one painting before starting another, especially if 
it means that I'll paint more.
4.  I should do more smaller, quicker paintings, to help get myself re-energized for painting. 

So now I hope to be doing more painting and more posting!  Right now I'm in Antholz, Italy for biathlon World Cup races.  So expect some Italian Alps paintings soon!