December 18, 2020

Once there was a man that didn't have a brain

"Once there was a man that didn't have a brain. He didn't think that people thought he was strange. So he lived the way he wanted, going in a zig zag."  -Danielle G, 3rd grade

Sometimes I miss teaching just for little gems like this. Some kids have remarkable innocent genius brains! I wish I kept whatever painting went with this story, but I can only imagine it and maybe that's just as good!

I spent the day re-organizing my art studio. My small space fills up pretty quickly. So every time I finish a series of work, I need to find a place for it all, all over again. This time I got in deep, and discovered a bunch of old art journals, and a whole slew of inspiring little pieces of paper with artist quotes and images. 

February 12, 2010 I was working on my first purely abstract painting; a departure from the figurative work I had been making. Reading that journal entry made me think, oh I've been doing this for ten years now, maybe in another ten years it'll really be something! 

I can't remember the name of this painting. 
I think it was November Snow, 2010, and likely around 4' square

November 20, 2020

Pandemic Portraits, Beacon, NY

It didn't make it into the recent article, "Beacon In Quarantine", in the Highlands Current, but here's Nancy LeVine's photo of me on my stoop. Her documentary project Quarantined Folks In Beacon During The Pandemic of 2020 is meant as a record of our time and includes 80 Beacon artists who were asked to be photographed in front of their spaces and write a paragraph about their experience during quarantine. 

Nancy LeVine Photography

Here's what I wrote:

I just moved to a new place at the very beginning of the quarantine, which added a great deal to my stress in this situation. I am now living alone for the first time in almost twenty years, and this has changed my view of isolation quite a bit. As an artist who has sought creative solitude my whole life, there’s something about this that feels very different. My art studio is now adjacent to my living room, and I am out of work due to the pandemic, so I have all the time and space I could want, yet I haven’t been able to focus on my artwork for more than short spurts. Usually when I’m overwhelmed and unable to concentrate on my large paintings, I work on smaller projects, and this is what I’ve been occupying my time with; drawing, collage, knitting. I’ve also been reading a lot more than usual. The pandemic is bringing some real truth to the surface. It’s an opportunity to prioritize what’s really important, as opposed to what merely takes up our time and energy. It is more than challenging to live in a moment where the future is so unknown, but it forces us to be present and accept the moment as it is. Everyone is suffering in one way or another, but there is an opportunity for change here, which is hopeful. I feel the power of all of us being in this together. I’m still here, and there must be a reason for that! We each have a purpose to fulfill that is greater than just us alone.

November 14, 2020


Since the pandemic I’ve been seeing a therapist. I’m not completely sure how these things connect, but, something about the extra uncertainty of the future, mixed in with the extra delving into my past, has got me listening to a lot of music I grew up with, like The Go-Go’s, and Cyndi Lauper. I just submitted a grant application and titled the proposed exhibition True Colors. I’ve now decided to do a whole series of new works based around the titles of the songs:

Girls Just Want To Have Fun

She Bop

Time After Time

I Drove All Night

All Through The Night

True Colors

I thought Cyndi Lauper was like a prime example of eighties cheesy pop, but now that I listen again, I don’t think there’s anything cheesy about her music at all. Some of the lyrics are quite beautiful actually. 

I’ve been uncertain about my work lately, and am having a hard time figuring out what I want, and why I’m making the things I’m making. The pandemic is still a driving concern. I live alone in a live-work space, so essentially I’m living in my studio. I’m unemployed until further notice, and both the exhibition and residency I was supposed to have are also postponed until further notice. 

So, that is to say, ..… nobody’s watching, I can do whatever I like!

However, that is proving way more difficult than it might seem.

I already wrote about all the stripes I’ve been drawing to curb my anxiety, but I want to take it even further. I’ve been disgruntled about certain shows I didn’t get into, and have been spending way too much time on social media comparing myself to every single artist out there. I want to be able to focus on making work that pleases me, without so much concern for fitting into someone else’s theme or category. Who am I making the work for after all?

detail of 3 drawings:
My Neighbor's Blinds, art marker on paper, each 11x14"

I just got feedback from a 2018 grant proposal I submitted, and the comments were totally split in half. Four of the eight judges thought the work was evocative, and four of the eight judges thought it didn't have enough depth.

I feel stuck in the middle of, not deep enough and not superficial enough. I’m neither overtly controversial nor overtly commercial. Why does that feel like a problem? I used to think that not being easily defined was a good thing in art.

Anyway, back to Cyndi Lauper. True Colors seems the most appropriate title for an artist trying to be true to herself. And that’s all I can possibly do at the moment. 

Well, besides get off of freakin’ Instagram.

October 23, 2020


Prismacolor markers on Tyvek, 24 x 24"
Everything counts. And everything's connected.

It's almost exactly a year ago that I started making these striped drawings. I was having a lot of anxiety at the time, and the only thing I could think of to calm my nerves was to color long straight vertical lines over and over. 

So much has happened in one year. I have gone back and forth, repeatedly, working on the stripes, then putting them away, working on more stripes, then putting them away, in different mediums, materials, and sizes. All along, I struggled to see their relevance within the context of my painting practice. I knew they were worthwhile to make, but I didn't know what to do with them. 

Four 5 x 7" drawings, prismacolor markers on card stock, the backs of old gallery postcards

As you can imagine, with the pandemic and quarantine, the need for anxiety reducing activity became paramount, and the stripes suddenly were brought to the forefront of my studio practice. Working on these scraps (literally, since some of the drawings are on scraps of cardboard, and the knitted pieces are mostly made with leftover scraps of yarn), has been a great source of reassurance and consistency for me. And, as with most things, the more you do, the more you discover. The work has grown in scope and importance. The stripes seem to have taken on a life of their own, infiltrating even the large paintings now.

detail of knitted piece

I still don't know exactly how it all fits together, but my color choices, and the energy behind them, the organic nature of so much of it, which includes the imperfections of the handmade and hand drawn object, all of that speaks to what interests me in my work. I can't say I'm pleased with the 'extra bout of anxiety' that first led me to the stripes, but I'm pleased I made something out of it, and that I keep making, in spite of not knowing why or where it's going.

I keep reminding myself, everything counts, and everything's connected. 

Grasping, prismacolor markers on fluorescent cardstock, with collaged elements

See more drawings on my website.

October 9, 2020

Painting Energy, and Feng Shui

So I've been feng schui-ing my apartment the last few days. It's very interesting. Little changes, like moving my bed two inches to the left, or putting a little mirror in the corner to reflect more light, are making big shifts in the energy of the space. I like this idea of tangible energy. I'm embracing the notion that indeed, Everything is energy. 

If we could see all things like that, like we're all connected, we're all energy, flowing or not flowing, how would we behave differently? And if we could know exactly what we want and name it, how often would we get it?

"Energy flows where intention goes". I just saw that on a friend's FB page.

This is certainly true in my painting practice. When I have a very clear idea of what I want a painting to convey, it usually succeeds. And I know that from talking to viewers about their experience of the work. The only reason it doesn’t happen more often is because I’m not sure what I want most of the time. 

I think the trick to success is combining a clear intention/desire with an equal amount of ambition, and perseverance, to actively see it through. You have to put the desire into action. And that’s only possible when we are uninhibited, and freely living in the present. Not stuck in the past or the future. 

This is now turning into a pep talk to myself, but hopefully you get the idea!

This also reminds me of two things I was recently listening to. The Conversation with Michael Shaw, and Gorky’s Granddaughter, two of my favorite art podcast/blogs. The episode with Howard el-Yasin I found particularly interesting. He talks about claiming space, and naming things in order to possess them.

It seems an appropriate reaction to this most discrepant time, to be in search of some free flowing harmony. I think I'll go write a list of things I want now!

October 3, 2020

Lean Into It

I spent the full day yesterday taking pictures of new work and updating my website. Check it here:

This pandemic has me feeling frayed and unfocused. I've started five different projects in the past six months, adding quite a bit to the growing pile of bits and pieces on my studio floor. Yes I've been working, but I've also been pacing, biding my time, and letting the dirty dishes pile up. 

I'm a visual person. I need to see things in front of my face. So getting all these pieces photographed and uploaded and organized seriously feels like a little miracle! I even came up with titles for the new work, most of it at least, which is often a daunting task. 

Lean Into It is one of those titles. I thought of it for this painting below, because I see it as images literally leaning on and into one another. But I didn't want that to be obvious, so I saved the title for a different piece. 

I had a vague notion of what made me think of the expression to begin with, but when I looked up the meaning, I was so pleasantly surprised and thrilled. It perfectly describes this entire body of work, and my state of mind during this strange time, and I chalk that up to the power of serendipity and the subconscious.

Fake It Till You Make It,
the inevitable final title of this piece: oil, oil stick, and oil pastel on canvas, 64x58 inches

Lean into it-

To embrace; to experience fully or respond to wholeheartedly. To take on or embrace something difficult or unpleasant, usually through determination or perseverance; to find a way to benefit from, or alleviate the harm of, risk, uncertainty and difficult situations.  

Cheers to leaning into it! Hopefully we'll all be able to clink our glasses together, in person, real soon...

September 2, 2020

Together in Isolation

In July I participated in a project at The Re-Institute in Millerton, NY called Together in Isolation. Artist Henry Klimowicz, owner of the space, started the project in April as an ongoing record of this time. 

Artwork is created inside a clear plastic box that is then buried in the ground and lit up at night. The work is spaced along a path in the landscape and viewers experience the work while walking at their own pace looking down through the top lit "window" of each piece. 

My piece is titled "Unraveling" 

We long to be seen and heard, and to feel our presence in the world. So we make a a mark. In a time of uncertainty and isolation, we create, in order to feel ourselves, connected, anchored.

These are unfinished drawings pieced together on found cardboard, rock and driftwood from the shore, and knitted yarn, some partially unraveled. Representing the scattering of time and focus, the comfort in the handmade, and the groundedness of the earth.

Some of the pieces that went into my box

Samantha Palmeri "Unraveling"

View of the grounds at Re-Institute

Samantha Palmeri "Unraveling"

View of the artwork lit up

Artist Christian Pietrapiana "So?"

Artist Nancy Daubenspeck "Consider the Lilies"

-from the press release:

A primary objective of the show revolves around the inherent paradox of its title: Together in Isolation. While the artists are each creating work alone in their studios, they are simultaneously contributing to the exhibition as a whole which continues to weave and morph in surprising ways. The show’s growth is organic and unpredictable and layers of meaning are created and recreated as each box is buried in the ground. The exhibition is a poignant and lasting record of this time of isolation, hardship, and sadness, but it also delivers unexpected glimmers of hope.

New pieces will continue to be accepted until such a time as we may all safely gather indoors together again. Then Together in Isolation will end as it began – paradoxically – with a celebratory closing instead of an opening.

The gallery is open on Wednesdays and Fridays from dusk until dark by appointment via the website,