Six or seven years ago my “adventure” was to create a website and online business. I enjoyed it and found it a gratifying challenge. I’m now ready for a new venture.
I still want to paint and create art to share with you, but I’ve lost all enthusiasm for running a business. I felt liberated when I canceled my TPT license and paid my last State of Arizona sales tax bill,
So I will continue to make art and share it with you, but I’d like you to pay someone else.
Here’s how… This website will continue as a place to view and order my work. Although it will continue to list prices, these are suggested values for DONATIONS. I have suggested some organizations supporting the arts, arts education, environmental causes or hunger. But if you’d rather make a donation to a favorite cause of your own, please feel free.
To order, go to the “Contact” page, enter your information and in the Comment section, explain what items you want me to send and where. I will leave it to you to make your donation to whatever nonprofit you choose.
Some of my favorites/suggestions: [Click on the blue type for links to make donations to these organizations] – Free Arts Phoeinx, AZ Transforming children’s trauma to resilience through the arts – Northfield Fine Arts Boosters promotes the Arts in Northfield, MN K-12 public schools – The Northfield Arts Guild If you purchase a piece of my work at the Guild Shop in Northfield, MN, you will be supporting them with 100% of the value of your purchase. – Well Done Foundation plugging abandoned oil & gas wells – World Central Kitchen supporting emergency food needs. – Project Roots, Phoenix, AZ Educating communities by promoting gardening and sustainable urban living. – Native Seed Search A seed bank and source for seeds of the people of the Greater Southwest so that these arid adapted crops may benefit all peoples and nourish a changing world.
If you have any questions about how this all works please reach out to me. I am grateful to be able to continue along with you. Thanks again for your enthusiasm and delight in my work.
I was recently introduced to a book by Danny Gregory called Art Before Breakfast. He distinguishes little “a” art from capital “A” Art. His distinctions pretty accurately describe a tussle I’ve had within myself many times. If I’m creating something with the expectation that I hope it will be “Art”, it’s pretty intimidating and impossible from the start. This book is an enjoyable read with exercises for anyone interested in exploring sketching and its value as a “de-stresser”. He’s very encouraging and gives excellent step-by-step guidelines for drawing the things you see every day. He has a good sense of humor and expressive drawing style. I found his invitation to create art with a little “a” every day attractive, and in the end, more productive.
So since launching my website, I have tried to keep my sketchbook handy and make a sketch almost every day.
Some came out well. Some have led me to beautiful places, if not beautiful paintings. A couple led to interesting conversations… for example, while I was in Dreamy Draw Mountain Preserve two hikers stopped to inquire. Turned out he is an accomplished painter who gave me advice on my drawing and talked of the merits of taking a class in life drawing. And as I waited for our car to be serviced, I had fun trying to capture the crazy waving windsock Tall Man.
March was a time to be with family…out hiking in the blooming desert and of course there was baseball.
Also, watching a demo by Stan Kurth invited me to really loosen up… one might even say adopt a slap-dash approach to the day’s sketch of the ballpark. And when it was done, it seemed to invite a step beyond paints.
I love January and February. Ideas that have been percolating during the holidays, when I’m too busy to paint much, rise to the top to be explored in open days. This year I spent most of my time working on my website – not my favorite pastime. Fortunately, there were two notable detours from my hours at the computer. The Arizona Watercolor Association offers workshops by it members and invites other nationally recognized painters to come teach nearly every month, fall through spring.
In January I spent a day with Grace Haverty. We explored her wonderful free-flowing style doing floral still lifes.
The two I created at the workshop were not so great. But in the following week and a half, I tried this bird’s eye view of a floral arrangement and origami bird.
I’d been thinking about shadows since December when my sister sent a photograph of herself cross-country skiing – well at least of her shadow skiing. I continue to work on this idea of seeing a shadow as a part of the composition, but so far “Birdseye Daisies” is the one I like best.
In February Julie Gilbert Pollard, another member of AWA, led us through her process, which results in a beautiful relaxed style. I came away realizing this ironically is born out of lots of preliminary work. By the time you get to the real painting, you’ve painted it multiple times. She does sketches, value studies and usually small trial-paintings rearranging elements in the design. She showed us the advantage of using a small amount of acrylic early in the process to establish the darkest areas. It creates a skeletal form or sketch around which the watercolor builds. Washes can be used over these areas without dissolving or lightening up. I’m grateful to have learned even this very experienced painter, who has the relaxed style I so admire, doesn’t accomplish this quickly. I’m more patient with making studies and practicing small parts on another sheet of paper.
Beyond information gained, it’s great to sit and work with other people who find this sort of thing loads of fun. I’m inspired by their skills, their effort and their desire.
Both of these painters have websites full of information. They teach in Arizona, but also elsewhere. And I highly recommend looking for watercolor/ artists’ organizations near where you live.
Special thanks to Karen Reihm for so generously sharing the photos she takes at AWA events.
It’s been a long time since I’ve entered a blog post, but it’s been a productive and fun time. I kept painting chickens right up to mid-December when it was time to convert my art room into a guest bedroom and revel in our Christmas festivities.
And now it’s a new year. Always a delightful proposition. A new beginning. Although I have given up making New Year’s resolutions, after the holidays I find satisfaction in rearranging my priorities. High on my list this year is to return to the development of my website. I’m fairly comfortable using a computer, but designing a website has been a whole new kind of challenge.
A year ago I had started with SiteBuilder.com. Over the summer I found I couldn’t get the one-on-one support I need. I’d much rather be painting than toiling for hours over how to embed a caption on a pop-up photo. So I asked around about sites that had better customer support. In the end, I have chosen Weebly – they have a reputation for having good support, I have a friend who uses it and said it was pretty straight forward and she’s willing to help from time to time.
I plan to set aside a few hours each week to work on it. The first challenge is to renew my domain name and move it from the old site to the new host. Stay tuned!
For a couple of years now I have been fascinated with chickens – taking photos and watching them when I’ve had the opportunity. They come in a variety of colors and plumage and such wonderful shapes. Sometimes they seem to defy gravity tottering a huge body over such a small base. When I saw a Silver Lace Wyandotte, I thought of houndstooth check. So back in Phoenix, I started playing around with chickens.
This was my first try at weaving a houndstooth check. I started by painting a black and white striped bird that looked like a referee. Then I wove strips of black and white painted paper in a twill pattern – four of each. I liked it’s loose graphic-like feeling… almost a sketch. This small one led to a larger, an even more exaggerated one.
The strong graphic nature of this design led me to use it on fabric and cards. I’ve also had it printed on watercolor paper and on a canvas gallery wrap. .
I’ve spent the entire fall working with other colors and shapes, coming up with a whole series of chickens. One might call it a flock!
Since my last post, we’ve returned to Arizona. There are 2,000 miles of sky above horizon between Minnesota and here. I love the way each region offers its own variations below the horizontal mid-line.
Our first day offered big cumulus clouds above fields of deep green soybeans and yellow green corn topped with a blanket of golden tassels. It’s like a quilt made of corduroy and taffeta, changing color as you view it from different angles.
These gave way to the flat expanses of wheat and grazing land.
The road’s edge reaching to infinity, with a grain elevator way out at the diminishing point. It slowly grows larger as miles slip by… then, whoosh, you pass and another one appears in the distance. Beyond the elevators came wind turbines lined up in rows like giant corn plants left in our wake. Rolling hills of red earth yielded small oil wells bobbing like mechanical birds bobbing for a drink.
And then one of my favorite landscapes comes as you head west from New Mexico into northern Arizona. The red orange bluffs flank the highway like a fleet of huge locomotives moving into the desert. Alongside the road, trains mimic their backdrop hauling box cars and shipping containers east and west.
I tried painting this both in June and again when we came back west… It has been a journey in itself. It seems I need to paint an idea at least three times before I begin to capture what I hope to portray.
The first time I tried was while we were east bound…a pastel little postcard.
My first attempt on our return trip was all about the sky. I keep learning more about how watercolors moves or don’t. How they change as they dry. I liked the idea of a BIG sky, as that is so much of the experience of this landscape. And there were wonderful colors and shapes. A stretch that had feathery yellow bushes along side the highway. But when I look at this one, it doesn’t seem to have a focal point or purpose.
So, Take Two was supposed to emphasize the hills-like-locomotives…yikes! Horrible! Runaway train/school bus that appears to be standing stock-still!
The third and most recent one may be coming along with a little something from each of the two earlier ones. Less “accurate”, more diverse colors, tilted perspective… Interesting or disconcerting?
I look at it and think about whether weaving might provide an addition to the composition. I think not. There is no clear place that it would work to strengthen rather than detract from what’s there.
In the end, the best I may glean from this week of painting is a cropped version of the first – new proportions, a clearer focal point and another week of experimentation under my belt.
I’m learning more with every attempt, even if I can’t see clear progress. I’m enjoying the process and in fact, look forward to what is sure to be a long journey.
We have the good fortune to move to Minnesota for the summer, leaving Arizona’s heat behind and spending time near our grandchildren. One of the other great delights is that our apartment is only four blocks from my sister, her husband and their garden!
We were greeted this June with a beautiful bouquet that included onion scapes ~ those squiggly bits with the white seed pods. At first, they were even curlier. As the weeks passed, they slowly unwound a bit, but it was wonderful how long they lasted and what flare they gave to each collection of flowers I added.
So a couple of weeks ago, when I decided to take on the challenge of painting a clear glass vase, the scapes called to me. Here’s the result of my first attempt…
I liked the vase and the way the stems looked in the water. But I wanted to try again with the background especially.
I used masking fluid on the stems and seed pods so I could lay down the background wash with more fluidity. The way I drew the stems reminded me of Celtic braid patterns. I think they look like they are dancing.
We are only a forty-minute-drive from the Twin Cities, so can easily go to a museum or play or ball park. While I was doing this second still life, we visited The Museum of Russian Art in MInneapolis. It’s a wonderful small museum in a repurposed church with rotating exhibits featuring different aspects and periods in Russian art and cultural history. On this visit, one still life caught my eye. It was sort of katty-wumpus – reminiscent of Picasso, perhaps.
Back at my painting table, I remembered the fun, as a kid, of scribbling with a black marker on a clean sheet of paper and coloring all the little shapes with different colors which created a stained-glass window effect. This reminded me of the entangled stems of my second still life. I was also experimenting with sketching using my paint brush instead of pencil. I liked the more fluid lines that result.
I thought of the free-spirited composition at the museum and decided to shoot for color, pattern and rhythm over perspective and “accuracy”. It was lots of fun to follow the painting through a series of changes. First, changing colors each time a shape is crossed by another…
Playing with the designs I can make with my paint brush…
My original focus was getting swallowed up by the riot of color and pattern, so it was time to refocus.
By far my favorite of the three paintings of this still life… and I have the seeds to plant more and see what comes of that!
My last baseball-field-inspired print/painting was the blue-green one, rich with texture. I looked at it from every angle and saw the sun’s rays reaching toward the ground. Instead of weaving with individual strips, I created a larger piece to splice/weave into the background to complete the composition.
These photos show my early experimentations. For the final piece, I painted both sides of the leaves. The back side is purple so it casts a mauve shadow on the white parts of the background.
In the end, this piece, entitled “Spring Forth”, is my favorite of the series. It’s simple, yet tells a story. The complexity of the technique gives it depth without being so obvious that that becomes the point of the piece.
For information about this painting, please contact me.
Spring brings baseball to Arizona. March is probably my favorite month…sunny days, young players full of hope, pale-skinned tourists talking about the bad weather they’ve left back home and geometric patterns mowed in the outfield.
My major filter is a visual one. As I sit watching a game, players’ shadows or patterns in the grass are settling into my psyche. This composition started morphing in my imagination. It’s a collage with sand paper, newsprint (baseball box scores) and painted paper. As I wove black strips of paper into the “field”, as if diagramming balls flying off bats, there was a snarl over home plate. A nest? So I added the origami crane.
By cutting the red shapes I needed from a painted paper for that first collage, I inadvertently created a stencil. Using this, I painted a series of the geometric pattern in a progression of colors. These became the basis for a series of watercolors and weavings….
This one was created by cutting up the orange sheet and weaving it through the yellow one.
Paper is stiff and a little hard to weave, so I tried weaving ribbon into the purple one. The composition was flat and missed the mark.
So I went back to paper strips on the most neutral painted “print” I had created. This seemed much simpler, direct and effective. I also liked the way it reveals the woven pattern as a strong design element.
And so I was on my way — beginning to think in new ways about my paintings. I had painted patterns in my work for years and now I began to explore other (old familiar) ways to include them in my watercolors.
I couldn’t help getting side-tracked a bit, carrying this basic painting to the computer and eventually fabric designs. At Spoonflower.com you can use this wonderful site to print your paintings on a variety of fabrics, gift wrap, even wallpaper! Here are three designs that sprung from my baseball field beginnings.
It first occurred to me to combine weaving with watercolor while doing this winter landscape. I have come to see this piece as the first in a new season of my creative life. Winter. Not the last season, but a quiet, regenerative time born out of earlier work and pleasures. I remember my mom said February was always her favorite month. After the holidays and before summer’s bustle of gardening and summer vacation, winter provides that stretch of quiet productive days at home. As a New Year’s resolution, I decided to set aside Monday’s for art. It proved to be very helpful – a promise I made to myself and a way to keep at least that day’s schedule open.
Ironically, this image came to me while soaking in the hot tub… a simple winter landscape with the texture of a snow-covered cornfield. I sliced the vertical (warp) lines tapering toward the horizon. Then I carefully wove narrow strips of watercolor paper in a twill pattern across the page. By painting both sides of the strips, I could show the “stubble” of corn stalks sticking up out of the snow.
It was the beginning of imagining how I could work the textures and patterns I see all around me into my painting.