December 21, 2010

Happy Holidays and Best of the New Year

Miss Biscuit and I are off singing carols and dashing around in our sleigh but I would like to take a moment to thank all my new (and old :)) blog friends for visiting with me throughout the year. I have enjoyed visiting your blogs and sharing art and soooo appreciate your comments on my art.

Next year marks one more year I am excited to see coming - they just seem to get better and better. Cheers all. See you next year!

November 05, 2010

Howard Mandville Show in Kirkland, WA

Return Ever Safely (pastel 11 x 14)
You can read more about this painting on my website


Is there any chance you'll be in KIRKLAND, Washington, soon? If so, I would love to have you visit the Howard/Mandville Gallery where I have been invited to participate in their 20th Annual Small Works Show. I have been visiting the Howard/Mandville Gallery for years as a guest. Now, I am humbled to have my paintings hanging next to the works of many notable artists such as:
       • Robert Bateman
       • Deborah Bays
       • David Gray
       • Andre Kohn
       • Yingzhoa Liu and so many more (show preview is here)

Below is the additional piece I have submitted for the Howard/Mandville Show (another from my Morro obsession series):
Liquid Light (pastel 14 x 11)
You can read more about this painting on my website

SHOW PREVIEW DAYS: November 6th - 13th
RECEPTION & Set Price Sale of Paintings
Saturday, November 13th - 5:30 - 8pm
I will be attending the reception and HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!
For gallery hours and directions, click here.

October 05, 2010

Back to Morro

Back to Morro (dry pastel triptych on La Carte, 24 x 54)
Cathump, cathump, cathump. There goes my heart again while I stand smack dab in the middle of the ocean's spray.

If you imagine standing on this shorline, then turning just to your left, you would see the scene from the painting below ("Return to Morro"). You can see them both, unobstructed, on my website. It is probably apparent by now that I am a bit obsessed with this place. I love the idea of a series because it is the perfect excuse to indulge such an obsession; just coming up long enough for air.

October 02, 2010

Return to Morro

I simply can't believe how fast time is zooming past. As I'm sure is true for most of you, there are tons of things going on in my little world and I do thank those of you who have continued to check in with me even though I'm not great at posting on a regular basis. Welcome, too, to my new readers.

Return to Morro (dry pastel, 16 x 47)
The only thing even remotely close to being there is this...painting this, standing in front of this, absorbing this. Every inch of this piece is filled with the excitement of the sea as I recalled standing on the shores along the coast of Morro Bay, California, with my heart pounding faster and faster as each wave struck the rocks in front of me.

The great news is I've been painting up a storm. Well, okay not really a storm, a sea. Lots and lots of water and some mighty BIG water, too! Last night was the opening reception for my shared show at the Scott Milo Gallery in Anacortes, Washington. I love that place and it was a delightful event. I always look forward to meeting new folks and talking endlessly about art (no, not just mine :).

For the piece above I prepared a piece of Russian Birch by first applying a coat of latex to both sides (to keep it from warping). Then I prepared a mix of gesso, marble dust and just a touch of water until I got the consistency I thought would work best. I also added some acrylics to tint the mixture - I chose a warm grey. At first, I brushed the mixture on the board but I didn't feel like that gave me enough "tooth" so, for the last coat, I used a small foam roller to get a bit more texture on the surface. It worked perfectly for this large piece and I really enjoyed having the ability to create the exact surface I needed for for what I envisioned.

Cheers all.

August 17, 2010

Boldbrush Fav 15% Winner

Just Peachy (20 x 16 dry pastel) sold

Hi, and welcome new readers. Thank you all for stopping by!  I just wanted to pop in to do a little braggin' on an older piece that made it in to the FAV 15% of the BoldBrush competition for August.

about the painting...Setting up a fruit bowl just never occurred to me while contemplating my next still life painting. I was headed to my studio to "set something up" when I spotted one of our end tables being drenched in light from the rising sun. I grabbed a peach (yummmm) and my favorite basket and got to work trying out several arrangements before settling on this one. 

I chose this one, not realizing how much work I had set myself up for by including the basket! Now, I think I know where the phrase "basket-case" really comes from. A fun part of this still life is that my husband made the table top from a piece of wood my dad gave him and the table legs are pieces of driftwood from the beach in front of our home (on Whidbey Island). They drifted on to our yard, looking for a new home...

Well, I'm heading back to my seascape. Cheers, all, and happy painting!

August 04, 2010

Porcelain Cat and His World

Porcelain Cat and His World (oil 16 x 20) sold
I've been away for a bit so I thought I would post an earlier piece until I can get back to the studio.

THE PAINTING The style of this painting is primarily realism; keeping some parts intentionally loose to allow your eyes to rest on the focal points. Bold greens and reds are used to add excitement and to give a contrasting background to the more neutral colors of the main characters. The red peonies would melt in to the background were it not for their strong texture. Textural changes throughout the painting add depth and richness. The light, entering from the left of the viewer, strikes each of the characters boldly, like little treats for your eyes at every point.

THE PIECES The pieces in this still life painting are very near and dear to my heart and I thought you might enjoy knowing a little bit about them...

The porcelain cat is a piece I sculpted in honor of Gravy, our male (golden tabby) cat. It has a cup in the center of it that is generally used for a candle but for this composition I placed a painted wooden ball (yes, I painted that, too :-) to represent Gravy's world. Gravy loved to play with this ball so it seemed fitting to include it in this painting. To strengthen eye movement, I used the same colors in the ball, the wood shelf and the clay pot. The book of "Love Stories" symbolizes the relationship between our two cats; Biscuit and Gravy (they are vaguely painted on the cover of the book). Constantly at my side is the spiral-bound tablet given to me years ago by a dear friend. It contains numerous sketches I have done, over the years, of both our cats. Since my husband and I both enjoy doing pottery, I included a large pot that I drew designs for but which never made it to the potter's wheel. It's so much quicker to paint it.

A HUGE welcome to my new followers and a HUGE thank you to those who continue to follow my blog. I appreciate the comments and your interest in my art world and adventures.

July 22, 2010

The Ceremonial Princess Biscuitrina

The Ceremonial Princess Biscuitrina of the Faux Feather Tribe (nfs)

I am not a mask painter but I just had to find a way to celebrate the Master Mask Painter Don's new kitty and, well, there was Miss Biscuit, all ready for the task. Congratulations on your new studio friend, Don. May you have many happy paw prints together.

July 17, 2010

Grand Indeed, pastel

Grand Indeed (25 x 19.75 dry pastel)

In preparation for our trip to the Grand Canyon, I read books about it. I saw pictures of it. I studied maps of it. I watched videos. I must say, though, that there is no way I could have prepared myself for the reality of standing on the edge of that magnificent canyon! There simply are no words to describe the feeling. It seems as though there should be a stamp, or tattoo, one gets once you've "canyoned" so when you're talking about it, someone else can know if you really know the canyon. It is truly beyond words.

Some subject matters seem almost "hands-off" to me when I consider painting them because they seem impossible to capture. That's a bit how I feel about the Grand Canyon. However, I was compelled to spend more time there after returning home and getting lost in this painting was a wonderful way to do that. I wandered around all the nooks and crannies and hilltops and studied the ledges formed over thousands of years. It was such a joy to work on this piece.

I was prompted to post this piece because I was reading a wonderful blogpost by Katie who's husband taught her to fly (so cool!) and one of their trips was over the Canyonlands. Travel safely!

July 07, 2010

City Beach Sunrise

City Beach Sunrise (16 x 20 dry pastel)

It seems nearly every spot on beautiful Whidbey Island has views to offer and gorgeous sunrises and glistening waters. I just can't seem to get enough of it! This scene is from an early morning adventure to City Beach in Oak Harbor.

June 22, 2010

Sam's a Thinker

Sam (dry pastel 12" x 24")
After some good advice from a friend, I made a few tweaks and I think I am done. I'm just not sure if Sam thinks I am. It was nice to have the oil study since I had already done a lot of the work on that earlier piece it made this one flow a bit easier than I think it would have otherwise. This final was completed on Sennelier La Carte Pastel paper - one of my all-time favorites. This was fun.

Thanks so much for checking up on my work and a warm welcome to the new followers, too!

June 18, 2010

What a Wonderful World

What a Wonderful World (8 x 10 oil on panel)
Fundraiser for Pasado's Safe Haven - SOLD

Having been blessed with a heart wide open for animals, one of my greatest passions is painting to raise money to support the welfare of animals. So, yesterday I did just that. I had a perfect day enjoying the company of this kitty (on the easel) I met a while ago at our local animal shelter. He was subsequently adopted and I have a feeling his new theme song must be "What a Wonderful World".

I see skies of blue, clouds of white
Bright blessed days, dark sacred nights
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world!

Thanks for the tunes, Mr. Armstrong!

June 14, 2010

Beach Bound (in my heart)

Steppin' Out (dry pastel, 11 x 14) available on my website

Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE the water? It is the anticipation of that very first toe-dip that can keep me on the edge of my seat for a ride that seems to take for...e...v...e...r.   I feel like Donkey in Shrek, always saying "are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

I'll leave you with this. I'm off to paint some water.

Welcome new followers.
Thank you, all, for stopping by.

June 10, 2010

Wee Three selected for Fav 15% BOLDBRUSH competition

Wee Three (dry pastel 16" x 20") sold

It sure makes my day to open an email and see the word "Congratulations" and know it's real. This morning I recieved one of those from FineArtViews letting me know my painting, Wee Three, made it in to the Fav 15% for the March 2010 BoldBrush competition. I consider that quite an honor since it was up against some fabulous competition! Thanks FineArtViews; next time I'm going for an award (check out these winning pieces).

June 09, 2010

And I Said to the Sea...I love thee

In Perfect Rythm (20" x 16" dry pastel) sold

And I said to the Sea, so see, I do love thee.

And she said back to me, Yes, Sand, I see.
And, I love thee.
The Sea.

My Mom tells me that when we were babies she would put us in hammocks (I think used for clothes on sailboats) on our family boat and off to sea we would go. Mind you, it was likely just for the weekend but to a baby it probably seemed like a month-long adventure. I know I loved it. Right, Mom? There are also family stories of living in Florida during hurricane season and when everyone else was packing their cars and hitting the roads, we were heading down the dock (no running allowed) where we could board our boat, head to sea, and be really safe.

Moving on to when I was eight, my family moved to Cannes (on the French Riviera) and the best way to get there seemed to be a trans-Atlantic trip aboard the Leonardo da Vinci cruise liner. During our return trip the weather turned and we were tossed about in 35ft-high seas with the wind kicking up to 65 knots. During that storm, the British freighter Ambassador was sinking and had radioed the coastguard that the crew was going to abandon ship but that they did not have any lifeboats available (on the leeward side). The Leonardo da Vinci was one of six ships in the vicinity of the sinking ship and changed course to assist. Because of the high seas, she was unable to get close enough to the Ambassador; although she continued with her attempts until the Norwegian vessel Fruen arrived. After futile rescue attempts, The Ambassador sank in turbulent waters a thousand miles off the coast of New York. Thankfully, the crew was rescued.

My memories are not filled with the scary stuff; they are filled with the blessings of the water and excitement of it. I lost track of how many boats my family has owned over the years but I’ve never lost track of my love for the waves lapping up against the hulls!

June 08, 2010

Gully and the Jeepers

Gully and His Jeepers (dry pastel on pastelbord, 11 x 14)

Can't you just imagine them getting ready for their sunset gig at the beach? Soon all the little sandpiper girls will be gathering around oohing and ahhing and shaking their tail-feathers! There is always fun to be had at the beach.

A little closer view of the bandleader...

June 05, 2010

Building Trust

Building Trust (oil 16" x 20")

During the Whidbey Island Farm Tour last fall, I had an opportunity to visit one of my favorite places on the island, the Wildwood Farms. They are just a skip and jump down the road from where we live. I have been going  there to sneak a peek at their horses for over thirty years!

 The two horses in this painting really caught my attention during my last visit because of their obvious closeness to each other. I could feel they trusted each other, I just wasn't sure they trusted the photographer quite as much...perhaps an apple could help persuade them?

This piece will be included in my upcoming Art Show in Coupeville, WA, over the 4th of July weekend. I will be among some other wonderful artists and we would love to have you stop by:

  • July 3 & 4th
  • 10 am - 5pm
  • Coupeville, WA (corner of Coveland and Alexander Streets)

June 03, 2010

To Crop or Not to Crop

Strawberry Point (dry pastel 8 x 10)

Hmmm, I'm not sure I've done the right thing here but something was nagging me about this painting. Often, if a painting stares at me from my wall, sending off vibes like that, for too long something is bound to happen. Since this was painted on paper, it was safe from a total scrub :). Instead I cropped it and reworked some of the areas to make the composition work a little better in its new space and boundries.

This is what it looked like before, as an 11 x 14.

I would really like your honest feedback so if you feel so inclined, please leave me a comment and let me know which you prefer. I can handle it (though I can't get the old one back - no "undo" button here).

Thanks for stopping by!

May 29, 2010

A Calling of the Heart - pastel seascape

A Calling of the Heart (16 x 20 dry pastel) sold

My heart is visiting Bandon, Oregon, so I thought I would share this earlier seascape I painted from the magnificent beaches there. I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday weekend.

May 24, 2010

Lazy Painting!

Camano Highlights (pastel 6" x 8") sold

Feeling really lazy, I was going for the fewest strokes possible to make this painting believable. The strong colors may have been my saving grace in this one because if you click the image to enlarge it, you can see just how lazy I was.

May 18, 2010

Study of Sam, from oils to pastels

Sam, a study (oil 8 x 10) available on Etsy

Traditionally, pastels were used as studies for oil paintings. I often like to use oil paintings as studies for my pastel paintings and this one of "Sam" (named in honor of  Sam-Dolman, painter) is no exception. I still have a few refinements to make to the pastel painting which is larger and longer (12 x 24).

I really enjoy the process of working on a study. I know there are lots of things I can work out in Photoshop (I love Photoshop) but there are some things that can only happen, for me anyway, while working at the easel. Doing a study gives me a chance to really study and experiment on a particular subject in the painting without the fear of wearing out the paper or canvas.

May 16, 2010

Oh, those lovely Colors!

Turvy - crop (5 x 7 pastel) sold

When an artist uses colors correctly, it makes our eyes yearn to view the image again and again. It’s addictive. Suzanne Berry’s painting, "Ciree" is such a fine example of the skilled use of color!

Biscuit is often referred to as a black and white cat. Ha! I am pretty certain I have used nearly every color in my pastel box to get all the colors in her fur correctly represented. There is not much restraint here as I start pouring them onto one of my favorite pastel papers; Sennelier La Carte.

Once the patches of color are established with Unison and Diane Townsend pastels, I use NuPastels to blend them together and to define the fur. I don’t want to overdo the blending process; otherwise the colors will turn muddy and lose their sparkle. Eventually, I work over the entire painting, defining shapes, adjusting value and color as needed.

I will intentionally leave some of the edges undone and fuzzy to give the viewer’s eyes some resting spots and to allow her to participate in filling in the blanks. I also add a few token hairs and/or whiskers to give the “feel” of fur without actually putting in every hair. Each painting tends to dictate just how much detail is required to make the story believable. I err on the side of less is better.

This is the uncropped version of the painting:

Purrs, Sandy.

May 13, 2010

Seascape Pastel Tutorial you can Download

Whidbey Island Life 

I find it an honor that other artists have sought to gain some insight into the way I work either through watching my videos on youtube or by emailing me and seeking my advice.

It is because of these inquires that I have put together a downloadable step-by-step tutorial for painting a seascape in pastels.

This tutorial is:
  • I apologize but this tutorial is no longer available.

May 12, 2010

Cat Pastel Painting - A Reason for the Sun

A Reason for the Sun (pastel, 8 x 14 sold)
Biscuit is my constant studio companion and never ceases to be inspiration for me at the easel. It is more than her external beauty. It is much more than what you see with her long flowing mane and those beautiful sun-catching eyes of hers. It is really much more than that. She has the sweetest, kindest, most generous little personality I have ever encountered in an animal. She has made an appearance in The Pastel Journal four times and I have lost count of how many times I have painted her. I wonder if there is a spot for her in the Guinness World Records. Hmmm....

May 10, 2010

Winter Tulip Crew

Winter Tulip Crew (oil, 16 x 20) click to enlarge
I have been buried in my studio so I thought I would share another of my bird paintings in honor of the eagle meeting at our "cove" this morning. You can see some of the photos I took (here) on my photo blog. It was quite a sight and the sounds were amazing, too. Happy painting!

May 01, 2010

Light or Dark - Pick a Value

Colors are such an addiction, aren't they? I was thinking about some of my other SEAL (Self Engendered Art Lesson) projects and thought I would share this one that I know many artists before me have done and many artists after me will do; a basic value study. I think it is such a great exercise. To mix it up a little, I chose to do this one using pastels. Yum. I thought I would miss the color but, really, there was something that felt free about not having to make color choices...but just for a little bit. I'll soon be back to my addiction.

About the painting: This Little Light (pastel, 9 x 12) Ever since she was born, my grand-daughter has held that special little place in the heart and arms of her Papa. My goal for this painting was to convey that sense of security, trust and love she has for him and, in return, the love, sense of protection and longing for the right future he has for her.

April 29, 2010

High or Low - Pick a Key

For me, painting the same subject in both high-key and low key goes in to my SEAL (Self Engendered Art Lesson) bucket. I've seen them, I just don't usually do them. For those not familiar, a high-key painting is when you drop out most of the bottom half of your value range and what is left is what is on your palette. Those colors can be a lot of fun! A few darks can sneak in here and there but overall the painting will be quite light, as if all the shades on all the windows have been removed.  
These are two studies, the one on the left is done in high-key. Notice how saturated some of those colors are, especially on the duck's right (shadowed) side. Which do you prefer?

April 28, 2010

Bunny Pot and Friends, I am not a pastel

Bunny Pot and Friends is another of my not-pastel paintings. It is an oil (16 x 20) painted on linen. I have since taken to painting on panels and like it much better. I often prep my own but admit that my studio is really half studio, half mad-artist lab. I love to experiment. I must dash, something is bubbling....

April 26, 2010

Multi media ... pastels, oils, acryilcs, you-name-it

On the off chance you think I only work in pastels, I thought I would post one of my acrylic paintings (from some time back). As much as I love pastels I do enjoy mixing things up a bit in my studio and I think having more than one medium to work in is good for learning. I work a lot in oils, too, and confess to loving the smell of a freshly laid palette.

The easel calls. Happy Painting!

April 24, 2010

Easel Struggles, even Andrew Hemingway has them

While reading Andrew Hemingway's The Making of a Painting (The Diary of Andrew Hemingway), I smiled in heartfelt recognition at the anguish he shared and his ongoing arguments with the painting on his easel. It surprised me, and in some way comforted me, to hear someone as accomplished as he is say what he did in his book. Following is an excerpt from his diary:

Monday 17th April

The picture looks like nothing. Can it ever hope to work. I am confronted with a solid mass of dull slate grey, the surface colour. If only it was something else. How long will I have to stare at this nothing of a colour? Gainsbourough's pink ground (the colour of my last big painting, 1994) to Ruben's honey colour, but not this dead grey.

Almost for the entire day I battle inwardly with thoughts of the fruitlessness of the entire project. I have little or no hope that this picture is going to work. Can I go back? If I do I will never know what could have been. What a dilemma! For any reader of this diary this may seem a small thing, but to me it is a dreadful torment. The work on the background continues; however, I operate on a kind of auto-pilot.

Let me assure you that Andrew and his painting, "Still Life with a Green Glazed Bowl" (60 x 45), both came out of this experience in tip-top shape. My point in sharing this is as a note of encouragement for those times when the struggle at the easel seems overwhelming. I find comfort in knowing that other artists have the same struggles I do, stand and stare endlessly at their paintings and anguish over a multitude of issues. What gives me even more comfort is knowing that by sticking with it and working through the tough times we all come out of it more accomplished whether the painting makes it or not.

May you find peace at the easel,

April 23, 2010

Trusted Wings - pastel on Wallis (WIP)

"I Choose Flight" is the name of one of the paintings I am currently working on and that prompted me to review some of my earlier bird paintings. I thought I would share this one since I have a couple of photos of the piece in progress and I always enjoy seeing others' WIPs. This little bird was just outside my office window and I felt compelled to capture him on Wallis paper.

Using a turp wash for a smooth, gradiated surface in the background ended up as a nice touch though it takes a bit of nerve since there was no way for me to fix anything without completely redoing the entire background. I skated out of that one with a large brush and by holding my breath (whew).

I added more texture with the build-up of pastels as I added the foreground rocks (ala big bird).

I left the little baby bird whispy and soft so it felt, to me, like you could reach down and pick him up, ever-so-gently.

Well, back to the easel. Thanks for stopping by!

April 20, 2010

Making Pastels from Dust

Do you have a catch-tray full of pastel dust? If so, you might want to reclaim that expensive falling dust and turn it in to little bars of gold. Well, okay, they look more like slugs but they are easy to make and you can even get creative with the shapes. I actually formed mine to look like slugs. What can I say? I am inspired by my (Pacific Northwest) surroundings.

You will need
  • Pastel Dust
  • Gloves
  • A mixing container (preferably a disposable one)
  • A spoon or palette knife for stirring
  •  A smooth surface for forming your pastel stick/log/slug
I am assuming you are using professional pastels and it doesn't matter if you have used a variety of brands. If you want, you can even leave the tiny chunks of color in for  "surprise" streaks.

The pastel dust already has a binder in it so you won't need to add that. Just add enough (filtered) water to make the dust moldable. You don't want it too gooey so go light with the water. Once you have have the right consistency, form your logs, or slugs, and leave them out to dry for a couple days or until they no longer feel cold to the touch.
Have fun! I would love to know if your experiment was successful.


April 13, 2010

Cheers to Blooms

The tulips are blooming, the tulips are blooming! Everyone grab your paints and easels and head to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. I just know you won’t be disappointed. There are so many reasons I love this part of the country; the Grand and Beautiful Pacific Northwest. It certainly has my heart and now my pastels and paper, too. In all honesty, I painted this piece last year and have not been to the fields yet this year but I am going and soon. So soon I can hardly stand it. My camera and pastels are shaking with anticipation.

Before this tulip painting, I completely avoided the pinks in my pastel box. In a way, that was nice because I had all brand new colors to work with and then there was this moment of “uh-oh” how does one actually see pink? Not having worked with them much my eyes were not well trained to see the value shifts between these hues. To help me sort through my value issues, I got out my handy-dandy-can’t-live-without-value tool-thingy and put it to work as I soaked up a new SEAL (Self Engendered Art Lesson). That was a fun little lesson and I now have a newfound respect for the pinks.

By the way, if you don’t have a Picture Perfect Value Finder, I highly recommend this tool for any artist. It has dug me out of more than one hole, I promise you. If I were to need another, I would buy mine from Dakotapastels (no, I don't get a kickback, I just love their store!) but you can find them from a variety of places through Google.

May you find peace at the easel.

Cheers, Sandy

March 11, 2010

Thank you to The Pastel Journal

18 x 24

In her editor's comments of the April 2010 issue (the 11th annual Pastel 100 Competition), Anne Hevener, editor of The Pastel Journal, points out that the magazine regularly receives around 4,000 entries for its international competitions. With that in mind, I really can't tell you how humbling it is to be selected to receive an award with so few slots open (only 20 in the animal/wildlife category). So my very sincere thanks, once again, to The Pastel Journal and the folks behind the curtains and the panel of judges who spend endless hours making these things happen for us artists.

The piece I submitted was inspired by a trip to Skagit Valley, Washington, a place where I often find inspiration for paintings. The swans spend several months there during the winter and show up by the thousands! It is an amazing sight to see them gathered in the fertile fields of the valley. Below is one of the reference photos for my painting.

By the time I was done with the photo-shoot, the sun was starting to set and there was a beautiful warm glow on the birds and that was something I was anxious to capture in the painting. I created a bit more of that drama with the lighting than was actually there (in the photos) and it's having the ability to copy but the courage to create that I (now) find so enjoyable when painting.


February 26, 2010


Tada Today

I have several paintings in several different stages (I am getting ready to deliver to a show at the Scott Milo Gallery) so I don't really have anything to post. I thought rather than wait, instead I would share a great photo I captured just outside my studio. This is my daily inspiration! Cheers and see you soon with art-in-hand.

January 11, 2010

Must Be Present to Win

I was “stuck” in a painting which at some point during the creation of a piece is often the case. I wondered if I could get beyond that point of stuckness (yes, spellcheck, I know). Stopping, looking, wondering, thinking, and pulling up all the usual questions and answers I have on hand did not work.

Then I remembered my treasured move; one that comes so naturally I don’t usually have to think about it but for some reason the idea escaped me this time. Until now. It is my “must be present to win” trick. This is where I stop everything that is happening around me. No music, no interruptions, no food, no water, nothing except me and the painting. I start the stare-down and wait for it to happen. At the perfect moment, I jump in. I mean IN. I am not referring to plein air painting, when one stands next to what is being painted. I am talking about getting inside the painting. I must stand (in) there and be in that space to produce that feeling of co-existence with my painting, like wake-dreaming, and I know when I have arrived because all of a sudden the dust starts flying (or the brushes) and I can’t move fast enough! And then something happens. A phone rings, a dog barks, a fog horn howls in the distance and I stop. Realizing it is two hours later is thrilling but realizing my piece has painted itself is even more so. So, jump in, because in my opinion, you absolutely must be present to win and the thrill is, well, pure addiction.