November 30, 2015

Artistic Suicide battles Creativity

There is a Light (12x24) oil on panel (sold)

Artistic suicide is considered switching your game – in the middle of your game or when you’re on the top of your game. As an artist, I find it difficult to limit so many ways so in my mind, artistic suicide means not indulging in one’s personal creative callings. Creative process, in and of itself, means being open to things that strike the heart of the artist. I believe that is true for any creative outlet.

Without that yearn to learn, I might not have attempted the above painting using only a credit card :).

If one is to learn, one must take chances and to take chances one must do something beyond what is currently working or comfortable. Stretch is probably the adequate word here. If I feel content and easy at the easel (in the studio or outdoors) I pretty much figure I need to work harder and get out of my comfort zone.

Another piece that took me out of my comfort zone required me to use both hands (to paint) at the same time. Yikes. (Don't worry, I still have half a brain left).

I find making good art is a struggle. I don’t want to walk up to my easel every day and say, “Gosh, what a cinch, I can do this in a heartbeat.” Where’s the learning in that? I have been in this classroom long enough to know that an attitude such as that does not create fulfilling work. Predictable maybe, but not fulfilling.

I LOVE to paint large. I also love to work with small studies as a way to stretch and try new approaches without committing weeks (or months) to a larger piece. Sometimes, the studies end up being better than the larger pieces that are produced from the studies. Go figure.

It is a wonderful gift to be able to produce images on a blank canvas and I hope I will always reach for the struggle to improve. 

(Often, my studies can be found on my eBay and/or Daily Paint Works accounts.)

September 18, 2015

Study, study, study

5x7 pastel on paper

It has become acutely obvious to me that in this profession of fine art, one never, ever, quits learning. Even though most of us are born with the ability to see, it is only through multitudes of studies that an artist truly learns the skill of seeing what is needed in the field of fine arts.

5x7 oil on panel

So, how does one study? It is likely you would get a different answer for every artist who is asked this question. My answer is that there is no substitute for time spent at the easel; whether it be en plein aire (outdoors) or in the studio, practice is the essence of learning to see and applying that in a uniquely artistic manner. I often use small 5x7 panels so I can capture the energy and color of the moment. Also, I'm not as cautious with a smaller panel as I am with a larger one which can lead to a lot more freedom to explore.

5x7 oil on panel

When teaching, I am often asked how one is to develop his/her style. Style, in my opinion, is not developed, it is revealed. It is revealed through hours upon hours of painting. And, not all artists have a single style.

5x7 oil on panel

One of the ways I get time at the easel (whether inside or out) is to paint small studies that I may then use to develop larger or more complex paintings. When out in the field (en plein aire) I will often use these studies to capture true colors; colors the camera can't "see." It is a pleasure to have these small pieces to turn to for color accuracy.

These small studies can often be found for a song on my eBay and/or Daily Paint Works accounts.

So, off I, study, study!

August 30, 2015

Artist Appreciation Month

Where does art begin? I recall a precise event that changed the way I saw the world. In my early teens I started drawing and my paper and pencils became my closest friends. Being the daughter of a Navy officer, our family moved often. And often, it was difficult to leave friends behind. Now, I had two new friends that I knew would stay with me the rest of my life.

While we were stationed in Lincoln, Nebraska, I met a girl who was a few years older than me. Sadly, I can’t recall her name but I do recall that she had recently started taking oil painting lessons. When she showed me her paintings I was ecstatic with the thought I might someday be able to paint, too.  It did not take me long to run the two blocks home and beg with all my heart for painting lessons! 

My folks signed me up and the first stroke of oil paint was a miraculous thing to me. I knew, without a doubt, I had found my medium. I was in love with everything about painting; the paints, the brushes, the smell…ugh, real turpentine back then…but I still loved it. During the week, while I had to wait for the next lesson, I would sift through my tackle box full of oil paints and tools and imagine what they might help produce.

My teacher was wonderful and patient. Her name was Renee Reed and I was so awe-struck by the knowledge and skill she had and shared. She encouraged me as I struggled with the newness of this practice of fine art. I have tried to find her via the internet but have not had success. I wonder if she has any idea how significant of a roll she played in my life? I am thankful for having the opportunity to study with her.  Thank you for so much, Renee.

This was the second painting I did with Renee. In her classes, we copied other artists' work to hone our technical skills.

We continued moving and although I lost Renee as a teacher, I have always had the blessings of God to guide me to my next steps, in art and life :). Whether it be a person or this beautiful world He created to draw from, I am grateful beyond words for this gift.

The inspiration for this piece was from an invitation from the kind folks at Patience Brewster inviting me to share in Artist Appreciation month. I thoroughly enjoyed traveling back in time to recall my first days of painting. I have been a fan of Patience’s work for many years and hope you get a chance to see some of her creative, fun, and endearing Christmas Ornaments.


August 16, 2015

To Drone or Not to Drone

River's Edge study (10x8 oil on panel)

An aspect of plein air painting that I truly enjoy is the unknown. I might think I am heading out for a day of painting but more times than not, it becomes a day of adventure.

It's been a long hot summer here (in Washington) and I was reflecting on cooler days of outdoor painting. A particular event from last February stood out as a fun thing to share.

Larry and I headed out to find "the" spot for the day and ended up about an hour from the house; in Burlington. Poor Larry, he has to drive around (and around) until I find "the" spot that feels right. I have an internal compass that tends to lead me toward the water. Today was no exception but the difference is that the water was just beyond my vision. I could feel it, and hear it; I just couldn't see it...

When Larry goes with me, I often go to more secluded places than I would when painting alone. In the summer this spot would be buzzing with the sound of children but, in February, it was devoid of people and it was cold! What it did offer was a lovely view of sun-stricken trees that lined the river beyond. And THAT is what made it "the" spot for the day.

I layered up until I felt like the Michelin Man. Larry help me set up my gear and then I succumbed to the silence and enjoyment of painting. Normally, I enjoy folks stopping by when I paint but this day felt different. I wanted to have full attention on my painting and it was cold so I was motivated to work diligently and without interruption. 

(Me as the Michelin Man)

Hours into the piece, and nearly finished, I heard an unfamiliar truck pull up behind our truck. Knowing Larry was there, I didn't look and I knew I could stay focused on my painting. I sensed someone behind me so I turned and a gentleman said "do you mind if I drone over you?" 

Um, I admit that, until that very day, I was not familiar with being droned. I kindly replied, "May you what?" (and I was wondering when my knight in shining armor would arrive). That thought produced my husband out of thin air. The two of them started chatting and Larry had all kinds of questions about the drone. Pat (the gentleman) was very gracious with his answers and then explained he would like to navigate his drone over me while I painted.

This is not the strangest of adventures so once I knew more about drones; I did not hesitate to say "sure!" Pat sent his drone over me and then posted it on his website where he has lots of wonderful videos and images.  These are the photos he posted of me painting: "River's Edge." 

I summed it up as another great adventure in the Pacific Northwest. I must say, it took me a while to defrost but I'm ready to head out again. This time I will need my sunscreen. 

July 15, 2015

Ants, a Peacock and a Snake

So how does one fit ants, a peacock and a snake all in to one story? Well, if you happen to be a plein air painter, this is fairly easy to do.

Heading off to Skagit Valley (WA) to paint for the day is always a treat. The valley is lush, fertile land and filled with wildlife; from miniature donkeys to graceful Trumpeter swans. Truly, the possibilities for an artist can be overwhelming.

My internal compass usually lands me pretty close to water and this day was no different. I wandered the back roads until I came upon an inviting slough. One of the challenges was getting set up securely. The speed limit on the road is 50 so it seemed a good idea to set up on the "other" side of the guardrail.

The downside of that decision is that it meant I would be standing on an incline on a fairly steep slope but I saw no other option.

I generally toss down a small drop-cloth in case I drop things, or sometimes just to keep the crud and bugs off my feet. I decided not to do that this day; the slope was too steep so I opted not to use the drop-cloth but instead got to work setting up my easel.

All set! I was ready for my first stroke of paint when I realized my feet were on fire!! I looked down and both my feet were covered with ants! I quickly moved, apologized for stepping on their house and got re situated.

Yep, you guessed it; here comes the peacock, wandering down the side of the road. Seriously? I just didn't expect that.

After the distractions, I got some work done and made quick of packing up my gear. It was hot and I was ready to seek some shade. All loaded, I took that one giant step over the guardrail, and was within inches of stepping on a snake!

So there's how you fit an ant, a peacock and snake into a story without telling a bar-room joke. 


June 17, 2015

Breathing the Sea; A Salon Day

Breathing the Sea (18x36 oil) SOLD

It feels special (and no doubt my head is already expanding) to be asked by Brackenwood Gallery to be the star of a Salon Day at their lovely gallery in the quaint little town of Langley, WA.

Stoney Beach (16 x 20 oil)

Throughout the day, I will paint demos in both oils and pastels. Toward the end of the day, there will be a quick change and the gallery will put out yummy nibbles and, of course, fine wines. They always do things right there :). Should you be able to attend, we will have an opportunity to chat about art and the ways of life.

In the fashion of a "studio," we will be offering framed pieces, unframed pieces, studies and sketches.

Langley Wave (11 x 14 pastel)

This show is the essence of my love for the sea. I hope you will be able to join us. The event information can be found on Brackenwood Gallery's Website.

March 13, 2015

Boys on the Beach

Beach Boys (11x14 oil on panel) SOLD

I love it when the title "works" with the piece and admit I sometimes wonder why artists choose the names they do for paintings. Some are obvious; others, we will never understand. 

Realizing the title to this may be a little obscure; I thought I'd share the meaning behind it. 

I love (did I say love?) LOVE plein air (outdoor) painting and suspect I have as many stories about those adventures as I do paintbrushes. This one is no exception. A friend and I were just setting up our gear on the beach when a couple of young boys ran over to see what we were doing.

I am pretty good at guessing what entertains ten year old boys. If I were a gambling girl, I would have lost a big bet on those two. Those boys quietly entertained themselves looking at rocks and turning over seaweed for more than two hours just so they could see our paintings! Wow, well blow me over. I just smiled out loud about that for days. Hence, the name.