Monday, December 30, 2013

social acceptance?

A few days ago I was listening to NPR and a feature about social acceptance. I've been thinking about that and about my art. Is my desire to communicate my vision of a scene really the need for acceptance by others?  What would I paint if I had no contact with the outside world? What would my work look like if I was truly painting for myself? And, who are the others?

Other artists: I love getting feedback from them on Facebook; they applaud experimentation and abstraction.

My galleries: Sales indicate that traditional, more realistic work is appreciated by the majority of purchasers. Receiving monetary appreciation feels good.

As I look back on my work of 2013, one of my favorites is "Ambiance," a 6x6 inch pastel. And, as I look forward to 2014, I will strive to paint the truth from my heart.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas is over!

Christmas night, the lights on the top half of the tree burned out. I took it as a sign that Christmas was over. The tree is gone and the treasured-memory ornaments are carefully stored away. Left over  Christmas cookies are in the freezer awaiting game day here with kids and grandsons on New Years Eve. Annie is recovering from all the excitement and our plans for the coming year are progressing. Here is the floor plan for my new studio.

Friday, December 20, 2013

waiting days to Christmas

aahhh...heat! Love the new furnace. And, the sugar ants that came in from the cold to hang out with us are gone. Everything is coming together for our Christmas Eve family gathering here. I have rearranged the studio to make space for overflow from our little house. If all goes as planned, this will be the last of our 26 Christmases here and next year I'll be blogging from the lake. These are the waiting days before Christmas. My shopping is done because I won't join the throngs in stores and it is too late for free shipping for online purchases.  But, it is too early to make the last of the cookies and pies, clean the house or set the table.

This is a good time to write my annual Letter to Mama - she passed away in 2004. This year, I will tell her that I threw out all my reference photos and am painting from memory, or my "minds-eye." I threw them out so I wouldn't be tied to specifics of a scene. I have a tendency to be too literal so when using crisp, clear reference photos; I end up in a struggle between what I see in the photo and what I see in my mind's-eye.

An avid picture-taker with her little Kodak Instamatic camera, Mama will be glad to know that I still have her box of photos. Her photos are very bad...and I mean that in the best way! They are blurry and usually have me guessing what it was she was aiming for. But, they are scenes through Mama's eyes and that idea really appeals to me for a series of paintings. Here is the first one I'm interpreting: it appears to be flooding in our home town, Auburn, Washington.

I'm using a glazing technique for this oil painting. That means drying time between each painting session. The final step will be to add some detail and hard edges to this amorphous foundation but right now I'm working with value, temperature and mood.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

goodbye dusty noisy

Two weeks ago the refrigerator repairman was here. Last night the furnace repairman broke the news to us that our dusty, noisy old furnace has passed away.
Annie and I will be cozy in the house with the wood fire for a few days until the new furnace is installed - just in time for grandsons to visit for a couple days.

Plans for the new house on the lake are getting final tweaks, Jay is making the annual baklava for his customers and I am working hard to paint my best so my new easel doesn't wish it had been delivered to some other artist.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

out of the closet

During all the years of growing up in the little house on "M" Street in Auburn, Washington, there was a small, two-drawer chest in my parents' closet under the stairs.  As a teen-ager, in a effort to make our old furniture more modern, I did bad things to it. I painted the chest brown and took the hack saw to my wrought iron bed to make it into a Hollywood bed frame. For these and all my sins, I am heartily sorry.

When we moved Mama to an assisted-living apartment, the little chest came to live with me in my studio. I apologized to it and stripped away the awful brown paint. Moving furniture around is a favorite pastime of mine but the little chest came to me with only three wooden wheels that screeched in protest so its travel around my studio was limited.

This week, I bought four ball-bearing casters for the chest and placed my French Mistress (why is it called that?) on top. Voila! A new mobile life as my oil painting taboret!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

cranky...not cranky

I paint.
The paintings pile up.
I wonder why I am painting new paintings just to pile them upon old paintings.

•  I paint because when I DON'T paint, I get cranky.

•  The paintings pile up. I could forget about this and let my heirs deal with them... but would they end up in garage sales or go into the burn pile with my journals? I would not like that. A better idea is for me to move them on to new homes. So, I just posted these two small pastels on ebay. This will be my first try with art on ebay...we'll see.

Windmist  |  pastel  |  7.5 x 7 inches  

Afternoon Passage  |  pastel  |  7.5 x 7.5 inches  

•  I paint new paintings (and pile them on top of old paintings) because when I don't paint, I get cranky.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Whine Line

A little about the Whine Line...

It began when my brother, my sister and I were caregivers for our aging mother. I took Mama to her appointments for eyes and ears; my brother took her to the diabetes doctor and my sister took care of her bills and filled her meds container at the assisted-living apartment. We kept each other updated by telephone and those conversations usually began, "I'm calling to tell you what your mother did today."  Even at the time, we recognized the telling of our frustrations as amusing. Today, 10 years after Mama's passing, they are treasured memories. In recent years, the Whine Line has been used mostly between we two sisters about our spouses, children and grandchildren. We still laugh a lot about Mama even as we see ourselves becoming her.

Today my sister called me, "I'm calling to ruin your day."  Oh oh...last time she called, I misheard her and thought she said her dog died.

"Oh no, what?"
"I put the Christmas Tree up TODAY."
"Whaaat? December first? What's going on?"
"Well, I made my to-do list for the month and decided to do the items I hated doing the most, first."

And so, HER tree is up and she is moving on to writing the poem she has penned for her immediate family every year for the last 40 years while I'm just beginning to think about December.

I've spent the last several days reading directions for programming my new studio phone. One of its selling features is the ability to block calls. I may have to do that.

The photo above is the cover of our shared birthday book with our faces placed upon Ms. Englebreit's art. More about the birthday book in another post.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

giving thanks

When I started this blog, I gave up writing in my personal journals. If I were still at it, on this morning before Thanksgiving Day, I would note what unusual holiday weather we are having in Washington state. Sunny and crisp while much of the rest of the country is suffering wet, cold and wind.

I would write that this will be the last of the twenty-six Thanksgiving dinners we have had in this house and that I am thankful that both daughters and husbands and our two funny, smart grandsons will be with us. I would mention that our two sons can't be here because they will be working at the best jobs for each of them and that I am so thankful for their employment.

I am thankful for my sister and the telephone Whine Line, used throughout the year. That's my sister in the background of the photo above, at my last birthday. The turkey hat is a gift from my teenage grandson. I hope to take headshots this year of each family member wearing the turkey hat.

I am thankful for my health and the health of our family. Thankful for my husband Jay, Annie, friends, a warm, dry house. Thankful for the welcome my little paintings have received on my Daily Paintworks Gallery after my absence of five months. Thankful for the opportunity to make art and for those who support me in that endeavor. And, on and on...

As I write this, I'm getting a little distracted thinking about preparing for Thanksgiving. Today is the day I will make the blackberry pie, the Killer Cranberry sauce (which no one except me really cares about), and cube toast the freezer bread for the turkey stuffing.  I will look again at the brussels sprouts recipe that will be new for this year. Does anyone in this family, except an absent son, and probably the dog, even eat brussels sprouts? Make a list of what needs to be done and when, to make the whole thing come together. Clean the bathrooms. And, the refrigerator repairman is coming today.

To each of you, thank you for reading this blog. I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Later: oops, apparently I spaced-out on my lattice weaving but I am thankful it didn't overflow.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

sabbatical redefined

Well...yes, I'm on a sabbatical but maybe it isn't a painting sabbatical as much as it is a pressure sabbatical.

Until we finish our house building project, my galleries will be receiving fewer new works and I won't be entering juried shows. That takes the pressure off for painting larger pieces. (More about juried shows in a future post).

But today, I came across a few 7x5 inch oils from earlier this year that I left in the value foundation stage. And, because I'm taking year-end inventory of art supplies, I had to handle each tube of oil paint in my studio. Before I knew it, I found myself squeezing out a basic palette and PAINTING on one of the little foundations. Very fun! A few more tweaks and I'll be able to post this little painting, tentatively titled "Memory Lane," here and on my ART JOURNAL blog.

By the way, I'm once again adding work to my Daily Paintworks Gallery.  If a painting doesn't sell within a week on DPW, I move it to my Etsy Store, BBNewtonART. Today I realized prices on several pieces didn't get updated. Prices are correct now if you'd like to take another look for an inexpensive gift for yourself or a friend.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Every once in a while, an artist needs a new headshot. Especially me, especially now, because in September, I got my first haircut in 15 years! I thought nothing could be easier than pulling my hair back in a pony-tail. I was wrong. Here is my selfie from this morning, just out of the shower and still wet...this is what my great haircut does. Thank you Bonnie!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

all things considered

Just as we look back and remember where we were the day President John F. Kennedy died - I was an art student working as a hairdresser - we also remember 9/11. On that day I was babysitting grandson Noah, celebrating the birth of grandson Elias the day before. All things considered, I would rather be my age right now than that 20 year old art-student-hairdresser or even that new grandmother.

On 9/11/2001 I was also working in colored pencil with good sales that dropped off dramatically as the nation's attention turned elsewhere.  My technique in that medium was slow and tedious. I used a sharp point, light touch and very small circular strokes. It was not unusual to have 80 hours into one painting. Now, when I look at the art from that time, I am very pleased with the work but, all things considered, I have to find new homes for it before I move to my new studio.

And so, that brings me to "All Things Considered," a colored pencil work that measures 16.25 x 16.25 inches and will frame with a mat to approximately 24 x 24 inches.  I have selected it to become the first of my collection to go to my Daily Paintworks Gallery online at a drastically reduced price. Please take a look by clicking here.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

holy moly

The process of creating art is usually a solitary pursuit. Hours, days and months spent alone in the studio working to bring into being through paint or pastel, a credible illusion - my vision of a place or an idea. The goal is communication with others through my paintings. Spending days alone in this way suits me but occasionally I need a different form of communication. I want to be in the company of my peers. A peer group is defined as a group of people of approximately the same age, status, and interests. 

Fortunately, I have two resources to fill this need: a Critique Group and Women Painters of Washington (WPW). I can't remember exactly why I applied for membership. I think it was to have an additional venue to show my work, although over the last fifteen years, it is the camaraderie of this group of women that has been most important to me.

I spent yesterday at the monthly WPW meeting at Seattle Art Museum (SAM). The board meetings (any member can attend) are usually lively as we pursue the common goal of fulfilling the mission statement of this eighty-three year old organization. Lunch at SAM is next and always an enjoyable time catching up with friends. After the business portion of each meeting, we have an invited speaker. Sometimes I question my interest in the scheduled program; after all, I work in paint and pastel - how could the topic of printmaking hold my interest? Holy Moly, EVERY presentation, regardless of subject, has contributed to my enthusiasm and motivation to create art. In fact, I got so fired up after the talk on monotyping that I may have to try that. By the way, the phrase "Holy Moly" is an exclamation of surprise that dates from at least 1892.

Today I'm happy to be back in my quiet studio with Annie, who naps nearby until her morning walk. Being on a self-imposed painting sabbatical is an interesting experience. I am committed to let new painting ideas, exciting as they may be, simmer awhile. I'm setting aside my painting life for now but I look forward to continuing my mind's eye paintings and whatever surprises are in store for me at the easel next year. I want to say to Annie, "Holy Moly!" 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

letting them go

For several years, my daughter has been reminding me that I am in my golden years. She says this when I haul brush or weed-eat for many hours at a stretch. I started thinking about my golden years: if I am really in them, what am I supposed to be doing?

This year, the day marking my seven decades of life was spent with the women of our family at our Women’s Weekend. Our first weekend together was when my daughter was fifteen so this one must have been our twenty-ninth. TWENTY NINTH! That is shocking. Time flies. I wanted to stop flying time. I thought if I wrote about it and then read about it in the future, it would be the same as slowing it down and living it twice. I didn't know then that what was so important in that moment would be so BORING the second time around!

I've kept personal journals since 1968. I imagined that when I reached my golden years, I would sit in my rocking chair and read about my life. Then, when I was done reading, I knew my daughter was going give the journals to my son or burn them instead of reading them herself. At first I was dismayed but recently I began reading the journals and they are BORING! I now see that the purpose they served at the time was for me to hear myself explain to myself what was happening so I could better understand the situation and feel some sense of empowerment in troubled times.

I am living the best time of my life right now. The things I worried about when I was younger are no more. My children are thriving, each in their own way. Having a twenty-dollar bill as my secret savings security has changed to a fat little envelope of twenties. And, I no longer wonder what will become of me because I have so many years to look back upon and I am pleased. Hey! These really are my golden years.

So, I have decided to stop writing in journals. In fact, I will be the one to burn my journal collection. That brings me to this blog because I still have a lot to say to myself and I thought some others might be interested in what really happens in the golden years. First secret is, there isn't a lot of rocking chair use, at least not yet.

Jay and I are embarking on a new project. We have found our dream property and are in the design phase of our new home, Mill Pond Cottage. I will keep a separate blog for that project with a link here.