Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A short attention span

I think the older I get, the shorter my attention span. In the 1990's I worked in colored pencil and it was not unusual for a painting/drawing to take 80 hours. In the 2000's I switched to pastel - a much faster medium. Now, in the 2010's (2019) I'm working more and more in oil but I if I spend more than a few hours total on a painting, it loses it's freshness and I lose interest. 

My method of working these days is to set up a still life beside my easel, take a reference photo (before the flowers shatter and the fruit rots), block in the composition with a sketch, paint for an hour or two, let it dry and then tweak it over the next few days or weeks. This suits me now.

Strawberries, oil, 20 x 20 inches

Thursday, May 2, 2019

An important question?

I just posted a story on my Art Journal blog but it probably really belongs here, on the blog of an artist in her Golden Years. It's about giving up the way I've always done it and saving time and energy and raises an important question. Read the story here.

Friday, April 12, 2019

April Demo

Thanks Kent Valley Artists for inviting me to do a pastel demo last night. We had a full house with nearly 30 artists attending for an introduction to pastel. See the backstory of the finished painting here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Checking in - April 2019

Mentor Sessions are over and my Studio is rearranged (again). The pastel easel moves closer to the window (rainy Spring day outside) and the oil easel will soon be busy with paintings for a couple Fall gallery shows.

Today I attended the April meeting of Women Painters of Washington, an organization I have belonged to for more than 20 years. I'm not as active with this group as I once was so it was good to see old friends and to vote on the acceptance of prospective new members. Just being around these women with whom I have so much history was inspiring. Much has happened to each of us over the years. A special thank you to Kristi Galindo Dyson for the ride and good conversation and to Sandra Kahler for transporting my painting to the upcoming WPW Show at Scott Milo Gallery, Anacortes.

I'm happy to announce my work is included in this new book: Pure Pastel: Contemporary Works by Today's Top Artists. 

"This visual feast of a book serves up page after page of luminous color, staccato strokes, fresh perspectives and masterful techniques from over 100 of today's most recognizable names in pastel. It’s sure to be an enduring source of awe and inspiration for artists and art lovers alike."

Monday, March 18, 2019

March 2019 update

The year is flying by and my blogs haven't been high on my priority list but it is definitely time to check in. In January I was working in pastel and concentrating on online sales. We had another mentoring session here at my Black Diamond Studio on February 22.
Four students, four hours on a Friday.

Next came our local Black Diamond Arts Alliance first annual Art Auction Gala - a huge success! Then came tax preparation and that went on for weeks. At the same time, I volunteered to be the new Treasurer for two non-profits. Knee deep in numbers and I enjoyed it until I received a request from my art publisher, Wendover Art Group, to send seventeen new images via my photographer, Art & Soul, Seattle.

If you remember, last fall my goal was to fill empty frames with new pastel paintings. Now I needed to unframed them so they could be photographed for Wendover. Happy to do it but it took some time. Jay and I spent an entire day unframing seven oils for immediate delivery and ten pastels to be delivered as soon.We spent another day building protective cradles for the pastels for transport to the photographer.

A couple weeks ago I was able to get to my easel to begin the work for a Fall 2019 show at Scott Milo Gallery. Here are the progression photos of the painting I'm working on now:

Lemon, oil, 20x16 inches ©2019 Barbara Benedetti Newton

This is my first painting on aluminum and I love the surface. No springiness, no texture. My third and final mentor session takes place this Friday, March 22, 2019. We're going to try FIVE students instead of four. My studio will be buzzing with creative energy. Thanks to the artists who have joined me for this first quarter of 2019 sessions. Contact the Pastel Society of Oregon if you would like to join me for a rare (I rarely teach workshops anymore) 3-day workshop September 19 - 21, 2019.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Wrap-up January 2019

Months and months go by without a post to this blog. I plan to read this when I am old so I need to post more often so I'll have something to read. So, here's my wrap-up of the first month of 2019.

My January 25th Mentoring Session. Four artists, four hours, lots of fun.

P20191-9 Mindful, pastel, 7x5 inches

P2019-1-15 Hopes and Dreams, pastel, 7x5 inches
P2019-1-14 Assurance, pastel, 7x5 inches
P2019-1-2 Riverbank at Dawn, pastel, 7x5 inches sold
P2019-1-4 The Ways of Winter, pastel, 7x5 inches sold
P2019-1-28 Violet Evening, pastel mini, 3.5 x 5.5 inches
P2019-1-27 Violet Road, pastel mini, 3.5 x 5.5 inches sold
P2019-1-17 Sunrise, pastel, 5x7 inches sold
P2019-1-16 Sentience, pastel, 7x5 inches  sold
P2019-1-18 Glory Days, Revisited, pastel, 5x7 inches
P2019-1-20 Meadow, pastel, 5x7 inches
P2019-1-29 Roadside Attraction II, pastel, 5x7 inches sold

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Art Goals for 2019

It is the first day of 2019 and time for me to think about my art goals for the coming year. 

My ART goals for 2019

1. My online presence
I continue to work on online opportunities to network, show and sell my work. I have two websites now. My original website is unchanged with archived work going back to my fashion illustration days. My NEW website is primarily for new work but that may change. Both of these websites are maintained by me which means I must be more attentive to this in 2019. 

2. Grow as an artist
More work with oil in 2019 for better understanding of the medium. A clearer vision of what and how I want to paint with oil. More plein air.

3. Paint to support online sales, galleries and publishers
2018 was a year of larger paintings and better art rotation at my galleries as well as available art for my publishers. I love painting larger but I still believe there is a market for smaller less expensive art.  My goal for 2019 is to paint for a good balance of both. 

4. Author another book?
This was high on my list for years but in 2018 it dropped to the bottom of my list. Now I'm interested again.

5. Work with other artists to further their success
This goal was #6 for 2016, #4 for 2017 and #1 for 2018. I'm happy with accomplishing this goal in 2018. The new local art group Black Diamond Arts Alliance had a successful first Annual Open Show in 2018 and membership has doubled. Our Black Diamond Critique Group evolved into Lake Sawyer Plein Air Artists (see us on Facebook) and my Open Studio Sessions have grown into Mentoring Sessions at my Studio for 4 students each session. 

And of course, I must add this to my list: ""This, or something better, now manifests for me in totally satisfying and harmonious ways, for the highest good of all concerned."

It is good for me to commit (to myself) in writing to goals for the coming year. Without a plan the days and weeks would fly by and I would have missed an opportunity to grow as an artist. Thanks to all who have followed my work this year. Let's keep in touch! Wishing you a happy and healthy 2019, Barbara

Saturday, November 10, 2018


Next week we will have new renters in our previous home and in my old, WONDERFUL studio - the place where I created art for 25 years. Over the past couple months, while cleaning and restoring the house to good order, I had a chance to again spend time in my studio. I miss my 5x7 foot table in the center of the room where I cut mat, framed art and much more. I could also seat 4 students around that table...thanks to all who took workshops from me there.

Recently I rearranged my new (lovely) studio and aha!, after more than three years in this workspace, I finally figured out why I haven't bonded it. It was my Fletcher mat cutter.  I now have a table large enough to accommodate both my Fletcher and my good old Logan. Bringing my Fletcher mat cutter out of storage has completed my relocation. I'm here and I have almost everything I gave up. Yay! I wish many hours of happy creativity to the new occupant of my old studio.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Happy Milestone Birthday to Me

October is my birthday month and this year is a milestone birthday. I want to remember it so I took photos throughout the day. This is a great age to be as an artist. Galleries that represent me are a good fit, I teach a little, I blog and Instagram a little, I paint when I feel like it and I encourage local artists.
Jay, Annie and I are healthy. Life is good and I plan to continue another 25 years.

It was a great day. Thanks to my family and friends for making it a day to happily remember.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Am I living the life I intended?

I continue to think about the statement from Dr. Charles Krauthammer, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist and essayist, several weeks before he died: "I have lived the life I intended." 

This speaks to me of personal integrity but I can also apply it to my art-life. Have I lived the ART life I intended? After many weeks of focus on the garden, today I'm in the studio thinking about art and the rest of the year. What was I hoping to accomplish this year?
My ART goals for 2018 (originally posted December 29, 2017 on my Art Journal Blog)
In 2018 I'll be more discerning about my art commitments both in showing my work and in teaching/mentoring.

1. Work with other artists to further their success
This goal was #6 for 2016 and #4 for 2017 and I am a little surprised to see it as my top priority for 2018. I have been working with a new local art group, Black Diamond Arts Alliance, and have high hopes for their success. Also, I will continue as the Plein Air Washington Artists (PAWA) Critique Group leader for our area. I have also offered to host the newly created Black Diamond Critique Group several times a year. In 2018 I'll try a new form of mentoring: Open Studio Sessions.
7-9-18 review 
I'm the Membership Director for Black Diamond Arts Alliance and our membership has doubled. I chaired the BDAA first Annual Open Exhibit and thanks to our members, it was even better than I expected. I am hosting the PAWA Black Diamond Critique Group again this year. We met in April and June and will meet again in Sept. Our Black Diamond Critique Group has evolved into a group we named Lake Sawyer Plein Air Artists. LSPAA has a Facebook page and has been painting monthly at local sites. My Open Studio Sessions are being renamed Studio Mentoring Sessions and I'll offer them again in Sept. Oct. and Nov. In review, Yay! On track.

2. My online presence
This year I added online opportunities to network, show and sell my work. I have two websites now. My original website is unchanged with archived work going back to my fashion illustration days. My NEW website is primarily for new work but that may change. Both of these websites are maintained by me which means keeping them current is high on my list of priorities.
7-9-18 review 
My bad. I have not kept this high on my list of priorities. Hope to improve. 

3. Paint larger to support my galleries and publishers
For the past few years I have been painting smaller for online sales through Daily Paintworks, Etsy, eBay. That has been fun. Then, I signed with a couple print publishers and had to quickly paint new, larger work for them for better reproduction. Soon it will be time to submit new work to them. Now that I have limited my brick-and-mortar galleries to three, these larger paintings will go to galleries. Fulfilling my commitment to rotate work at galleries is a good motivator to paint daily.
7-9-18 review 
Yes! I've been painting larger. I have two 36x36 inch custom-made wood panels. I might get to these before the end of the year.

4. Author another book?
I added this goal for 2018 with a question mark because it has been high on my list for years but not anymore. This year I contributed art to several books as well as completing a commissioned painting for a book cover. Right now I'm not motivated to write a book about my art but maybe that will change.
7-9-18 review 
Hmmm.... Haven't even thought about this. Guess that is why it is #4.

And of course, I must add this to my list: ""This, or something better, now manifests for me in totally satisfying and harmonious ways, for the highest good of all concerned."
Looking back, I realize that my #2 goal was replaced with Become a better painter. I took an online art course and have also made my yearly attempt to work in acrylic. Both of these challenges were...CHALLENGING, fun and frustrating. But, not boring and boring is artistic death so I'll continue to challenge myself. Also, I'm pondering returning full circle to work again with the figure.
And, as always, I intend to be a more thoughtful painter. 

If you actually read all that, thanks. Perhaps it will be useful to you in living the life YOU intended.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Pondering my local art groups

This week I had a chance to spend time with my peer art group, Pencils and Palettes. This group of women has met every other month for 23 years. We are good friends and when we get together we spend some time catching up on what's going on in our life. When it was my turn to share I found myself talking about the local art groups I belong to now in our new location. If you have relocated you may have experienced this search for a good fit also. We've been here four years and I think I'm starting to understand what I want my LOCAL artistic role/balance to be.

I spent the first year getting acclimated to my new home town and  bonding with my new studio but I also enjoyed a time of  "hiding out." I unsubscribed from many online art sites, left three of my wonderful galleries (painting less, they deserved an artist who would be more productive) and I quit attending some Seattle-based art organization meetings that were previously a huge part of my life.

Finally, I started feeling isolated and wondered where the artists are in this rural area. I saw an ad in the local newspaper to paint with others at the Maple Valley Community Center each Friday. I spent nearly two years with this group, produced a lot of small paintings for online sales. It gave me the opportunity to paint with others weekly and I enjoyed the artists but as time went by the differences in our artistic goals became more apparent and I had to rethink the best use of my time. It is a perfect fit for some and I applaud those who consistently paint there.

The next group I tried is Black Diamond Arts Alliance, a young non-profit. I attended a meeting and saw a role for myself with this group. BDAA gives me an opportunity to contribute by sharing my experience of being a professional artist for so long and it gives me an opportunity to show my smaller work. That was nearly a year ago. Since then our membership has doubled and we have held a very successful first Annual Open Exhibit. BDAA has a solid Executive Board to take advantage of future opportunities in our growing community. If you live in my area I highly recommend this group.

I've been a member of Plein Air Washington Artists for years but only recently found a way to contribute. PAWA leaders requested members to lead Critique Groups. I volunteered to host this area  and this is my second year. Yay! More contact with artists and I don't have to leave home. PAWA has many members and has many organized paint outs as well as show opportunities.

Numerous artists from both of these groups expressed interest in painting together so earlier this year we formed an informal local group that meets to paint plein air. I set up a Facebook Group page so we could communicate and share our plein air work. We had to give it a name and Lake Sawyer Plein Air Artists was suggested. This group gives me an opportunity to paint with others. It is not a teaching or critique situation. Just paint. Fun! If you live in my area, join our group on Facebook.

Right now I have a good mix that works for me especially during the summer when I spend so much time gardening. I have my peer group for support and art critique but I also have contact with local artists - to show with them and the opportunity to contribute what I have learned about the business of art. And, I get to paint plein air with others. I'm good for now! I hope each of you have found ways to fill artistic needs and find balance in your life. See Facebook or Google for the organizations mentioned above.

The one thing I haven't discussed is teaching. As fall approaches, I'll have my usual urge to teach as well as more frequent posts to my blogs and websites. Happy Summer Everyone!

2018 - Fourth Annual Overnight Critique

Our Art Critique Group in it's 23rd Year!

Yesterday Jay and I had the pleasure of hosting the Fourth Annual Overnight for our Art Critique group (officially called Pencils and Palettes) at our home. This is a group of women who have shared their art and personal lives with each other for 23 years. We continue to love and supported each other through good times and through the challenges that occur in life. We meet every other month, share personal updates, art and have a meal together. 

Over the years the camaraderie of this peer group has become increasing important to me, especially as I find my way in my new local art community. 

A huge thank you to the women in this photo and also to those of our group who couldn't join us on this day.

Barbara Benedetti Newton, Sheila Theodoratos, Paula Parks, Sueellen Ross and Teri Hamilton.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

cozy, shattered and blue

WHAT? I am shocked that I haven't posted here for many months. Sorry. If you'd like an update on what has been happening in my golden years, I posted this morning on my Art Journal Blog. Cozy, shattered and blue. Hope you are having a wonderful Spring 2018!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year (make yourself a...)

I've been thinking...something I don't do enough of. When we say Happy New Year, we are saying 'I hope you have a happy new year.' The year is made up of days - as in, 'Have a good day.' What makes a good day and can we each make a good day for ourselves and therefore, a good year? I think yes.

What makes a good day for me? I've had a good day if...
1. I exercised.
2. I painted.
3. I cleaned the house or gardened.
4. I communicated (talk, text, played Words with Friends) with my kids and family.
5. I feel good about what I ate that day (bye bye Coca Cola).
6. I have a really good book to end the day with.

What makes a good day for you? 

It's also a good day if I remember to do what works for me.
1. If I want to think and ponder and plan, it isn't going to happen sitting in front of this computer. I have to move to the table my father made for me, in the studio, with a good pen and paper, away from the technology I love (leave my iPhone and iPad in the office).

Left: Thinking and planning  Right: Stimulation and distraction.

2. At the end of each day, if I set something up in the Studio for the next morning it makes it a lot easier for me to get started. One things leads to another - for success and for failure, in life and in art. I think it is called inertia*. Make sure you are headed toward your goal because if you don't consciously make a change, you'll end up where you're headed.  *Physics a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

I unframed this pastel last night to rework this morning.
3. When I look back over the years at my work, I see moments when I have painted with abandon. It feels great at the time and the paintings still look fresh, clean and spontaneous to me - they never need to be reworked. How do I get into the frame of mind to paint with abandon? Next time it happens (hopefully today), I'll run to the table and write down my thoughts.

Thank you for reading my blog. See my 2018 Art Goals. I wish you a happy and healthy 2018.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Happy Memory Day

Today while doing Seattle errands, Jay and I took a detour down memory lane. We had lunch on Broadway at the same Dick's that sustained me through art school in the early 60's.  In 1963 I lived in an apartment ($60 per month) located on Broadway, near Cornish, and walked south on Broadway to school at Burnley most days, right past Dick's. Occasionally, I would splurge on a hamburger (15¢?) and take it home to add cheese and pickles. Thinking back, I can't remember any food in my apartment refrigerator other than cheese and butter pickles.

Some days, instead of walking to school, I drove my 1956 turquoise and white 4-door Chevy to school so that after classes, I could drive on to Kent, WA to my hairdressing job at The Band Box. (After graduating high school I attended Mr. Lee's Beauty School in Renton and became a hairdresser to support myself through art school.)

Today, the building at Broadway and Pine looks much the same to me as it did then - I took this shot as we were stopped at a traffic light. In those days, we entered the school through the side door and up the stairs. Here is a link to some interesting history about Burnley School of Professional Art -  ghost history.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Everything Old is New Again

The way we see the world changes as we age.

It is interesting to me to compare the way I expressed my world through art twenty years ago compared to now. Everything old is new again!

Take a look.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Don't look at the chicken

Rain! It rained during the night, the first time in 2 months. Yay! No better time to paint than a Sunday morning when the garden is not calling me for a drink. Ate breakfast, read parts of the Sunday paper and began tidying up the kitchen so I could head to the Studio.

Then, I noticed the dishwasher needed unloading so I started that and noticed the silverware drawer trays needed cleaning. Did that and started for the studio soon as I put a couple things in the refrigerator.

Opened it. There's that chicken from Costco! It filled the need for a quick dinner a couple days ago as well as contributing to salads. But now, with the rainy day I thought of soup. Yay! Soup is made from REFRIGERATOR. The prosciutto wrapped asparagus, the diced fennel from the chicken spread and of course, another zucchini each was diced up. Jay wandered through and I grabbed him to dice carrots and dice aging onions. I'm heading to the studio but better check that the soup is on simmer.

Oh, this soup needs green. I wonder if a few green beans are ready? Out to the garden. OH NO, my gladiolas are falling over because of the rain. Cut them and couple sweet peas and a dahlia and headed for the beans.

Oh, oh. 119 beans later I'm back in the kitchen. I'll have to blanche most of them and put them in the freezer but first I am here typing. I felt I should warn you. If you are planning to paint, do not look at the chicken!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

August 2017 Catching Up

I don't post very often on this blog. I don't know why that is since I am living my Golden Years every day. The number of subscribers to this blog has remained pretty constant over the years, perhaps because online artists are younger and are looking for how-to instead of aha! moments or the why of painting? This blog could be judged as ramblings of an aging artist but for me it is a way of stopping time for a fleeting moment to assess what I've learned and where I'm going. I keep a paper art journal to insert paper copies of some of my blog entries. I'll paste this one in my journal so I can read it when I am old.

August 2017 Recent Revelations:

1. Big Magic. My friend Sue Anne sent me a suggestion to listen to this audio book by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). At about the same time, I read online that listening to books while you paint can quiet the inner voice and allow one to paint more intuitively. I'm about halfway through the book and love it. It might become required reading for my private students.

"Creativity is sacred and it is not. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn't matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. The work wants to be made, and it want to be made through you." Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert.

2. "When things don't work out, they work out better." You can quote me. 

I have come to this revelation through the recent family challenges but I can also apply it to my art life. A simplistic example is when a painting doesn't sell or doesn't get accepted into a show. There is always another, better opportunity for that painting. Wait and watch for it...

3. I am painting larger. After cutting back on my gallery commitments, I didn't see the need for larger pieces thinking they would take up too much space in my new, smaller studio. And, for the past five years I have sold small, unframed work online which has been fun and motivating. So a couple years ago when two art-print publishers contacted me for work they could reproduce in large format, I had to quickly paint new paintings. I'm not a fan of working against a short lead-time deadline but it was a great challenge and experience and brought in a little income. This quarter the royalty check amounts increased and got my attention. These art publishers might actually ask me for new work someday and I do not want to have to paint new paintings so I am now painting larger so my work can be reproduced in large format.

4. The idea of painting a small study for a larger work appeals to me. Yesterday I painted "September Song" in pastel and was surprised to find myself thinking, "I wish this was oil, it is so much more compliant." Whoa! What? Granted, I was painting very small (6x6 inches) and on Pastelmat which is somewhat unforgiving but still...what a strange thought for me. I may be starting to get some intuitive knowledge about oil. Yay! "September Song" is available for purchase.

September Song, pastel, 6x6 inches 

5. My work at the local community center has evolved from every Friday to once a month. By "work" I mean my contribution - the reason I have painted there for the past 2 years. I imagined growing this group and that has happened. I have formed new lasting friendships and renewed old ones. But I have also learned that not every artist wants to build their resumé or make their art public. We have a lovely group of people, each with their own challenges and dreams. I look forward to checking in with them each month, more in the role of support and advisor. My private sessions don't fit into everyone's life so this is an opportunity to get free advice (from me and from each of the artists there). I'll be there September 22nd, 1:30 PM. Maple Valley Community Center, Maple Valley, Washington.

After a record 56 hot dry days, I'm looking forward to rain. I long for those days when I didn't have to spend the first and last few hours of each day watering and dead-heading flowers. I imagine I would be painting though I have also noticed that three continuous hours at the easel is about my limit now because painting any longer results in poor decisions. I think I'm meant to take a break then and enjoy my Golden Years by sitting by the lake pondering life. Happy Summer to all.