Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Looking back and looking forward

Looking back:
When I look back at 2014 I can see that it was the worst of times and the best of times. Jay and I spent the first nine months of the year practicing patience, tolerance and perseverance. But, we weathered it together. Our communication has increased tenfold since his January retirement and our relationship has grown into the marriage I always thought was possible. Yay!

I took a leap of faith into another art medium in 2014 and also a leap back by ending the year with a two-person show of my colored pencil work with my friend Kay Dewar. The leap forward was an April workshop with Qiang Huang to explore oil paint. I worked spring and summer on small still life oil paintings resulting in a body of work for a Fall show at State of the Arts Gallery. While working in oil, I took an occasional break to paint in pastel and I am grateful for the winter show of my pastels at Scott Milo Gallery.

Looking forward:
Our new home should be completed in Spring. We are giddy with anticipation. Each step forward is made easy by our builder, Chris Welch of cMac. I continue to be surprised that this is actually happening. We are grateful each and every day.

Some of the interior rooms of the house have been re-purposed. The sun room became Jay's office, then it was going to be my sewing room, now it will be my office freeing up space in my Studio to do some teaching. I'll start off slowly in 2015 by mentoring one artist during the first three months. Mentoring appeals to me partly because of the good experience I had a couple years ago mentoring artist Marie Lyndemere. Then, no teaching over the summer while we work on landscaping but in the Fall, I hope to mentor a few more artists and begin planning a few workshops.

I continue to struggle with balance in my life. I'm most interested in the house but I have found that I feel more "myself" when I paint a little each day and I'm looking forward to exploring acrylics.

I wish each of you a happy and healthy 2015. May all your dreams come true. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

My Old Treasure Map

The backstory of my Treasure Map: I worked as a hairdresser for four years to support myself through art school. Then I worked as a fashion illustrator until my former husband, Bill, and I had two children and bought a 1902 farmhouse and 13 acres on Vashon Island. We named it Island Farm and Gardens. I worked at K2 Skis, right around the corner from our farm, for sixteen years. I married Jay in 1987 and began to dream of going back to art. In 1989 I began work on my Treasure Map and left K2 in 1990.

I am talking about this now, after a visit from Jay's 31 year old niece. I was reminded what it was like to be young and in a situation that made me feel powerless. And, more recently, old and powerless. When I was young I tried to "push the river" (per Bill). Now that I am older, I have learned to have some patience and how to change MY attitude to take my power back. I am glad to be this age, it is so much easier...I now know that "this too shall pass."

Thanks also for the wisdom and support of our Artist's Critique Group. We began meeting bimonthly in 1995 and will celebrate our 20 year anniversary next year at my new studio.

My recent paintings
Our house progress

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

back to it

A Sense of Place III, pastel, 10 x 13 inches
Back to the easel and it feels right! A Sense of Place III started out easy and hopeful, got difficult, got really bad. I wiped it all off and began again. Ended with a nice loose painting. I'm happy.

"Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do”—Edgar Degas

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I have just started reading The Practice of Process Meditation by Ira Progoff and came across text (page 78) that seems to explain my creative process - cycles devoted to a specific genre before I must move on. It is too long to quote here but a couple excerpts will help.

"The old spiritual truth seems to apply in all areas of creativity: one travels by delays."

"The image of intimation contains an intuitive perception, a generalized vision of what is possible in the future..." "When a creative process is undertaken, it proceeds well for a certain distance and then it comes to rest." "In order for the work to move on to its next phase of development, another cycle must be started. To do this, the person must re-enter the process of the work, be within it, and begin to do the work once again. In that way, as we re-approach the work from within its own process, letting the process take itself forward another step...the work builds its strength again and again."

"A key to the role of Process Meditation in creativity lies in our understanding the distinction between what an artwork is and what is merely a work.  A work is a task that we do in order to get it done." "An artwork, on the other hand, is worked and reworked, done and altered and redone, seeking always a qualitative improvement. An artwork, in whatever field of life it is carried out, in literature or painting, in business or politics or raising a child, is not done only in order to be done, but it is done as well as may be."  Ahaa!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thinking about water...

One of the best things about these golden years is that I have time to think. When I have had a busy day of family, painting, building a could be anything, I wake in the middle of the night and process the events of that day (or try to find a solution to a problem that is not mine to solve - now, that is a waste of time). Because I don't have to be up early to go to a job, I have the luxury of using  these sleepless sessions  to think of desperately dire or completely plausible outcomes to pending thoughts.

Last week I was running errands, listening to NPR on my car radio. They were interviewing author, Wallace J. Nichols about his book, Blue Mind. He spoke of the human connection with water, 'the surprising science that shows how being near, in, on or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do.'  Interesting; something to think about. I put a request in at the library for the book and picked it up yesterday. After reading only three pages, I began thinking about the role water has played in my life and I'm surprised to find it is a frequent theme.

Both my children were conceived beside large bodies of water...OK, that's more than you may have wanted to know but this morning, I find it fascinating.

Besides Northwest rain, I was introduced to water by my mother and our trips to the Green River to swim. Yes, that is the same river as the Green River Killer river but that is a totally different story. The green river of my childhood is following my mother and siblings along a sandy path through thick hedges of blackberries to the bend in the river where Mama swam and we played at water's edge. This is also the place where my father fished for steelhead each winter to feed our family (and probably a quiet place for him to think). I went with him ONCE. It was so boring and cold. He just stood motionless on the cold clay bank and waited for a fish to bite his line. I had a orange with me. That's all I remember but I probably complained a lot.

We lived in the same house on "M" Street in Auburn all my childhood and we went to the same bend in the river every summer. One year, Mama saved my classmate Mike from drowning, that was a proud moment for me and one I have revisited with Mike at class reunions fifty years later. Mama learned to swim as a child in the canal in Selah, Washington. In my own childhood, I took swimming lessons at one of our local lakes. I was so cold my jaws locked and I never did learn to face-float, probably because that would mean putting my face in the water which is almost the same as drowning.

In the 1950's before I was a teenager, all the neighborhood kids played in Mr. Mathieson's cow pasture pond. Brown water thick with mud, muck and pollywogs, it was wonderful fun until I heard about polio. For a week I ate a head of lettuce each day in an effort to ward it off. I guess it worked. Much later, around the age of fifty, I was determined to learn to swim and taught myself at local indoor heated swimming pools where I could usually touch the bottom. My weekly swimming ended three years ago when I traded it for dog-walking. I look forward to swimming again.

As newlyweds and students, my first husband, artist Bill Iles and I lived four years in a beach house built on pilings in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. In the late 1960's we spent several weeks (with our two babies) on a remote island in Canada while waiting landed immigrant approval. Thankfully, we were denied because Bill listed himself truthfully as an artist and Canada did not need another artist to contribute to their commerce. We bought a farm on Vashon Island where I was surrounded by water and traveled by ferries for eleven years.

Fast forward to my present husband Jay and our search for retirement property. We purchased five acres on Gallagher Cove, Olympia, WA and built a "barn" with living quarters above. Eight years later with no retirement in sight, we sold it and began our search for waterfront closer to the Seattle area. After a seven year search with multiple starts and stops that almost sent our dream into extinction, we finally found our perfect spot on Lake Sawyer where my father, as a teenager, helped his father build boats for the loggers' use in the millpond - maybe on the exact spot where we are building our house.  I look forward to enjoying this body of water. I plan to sit, look, and think.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mid November check-in.

This is a mid-month check in. We finally have walls! The photo above was taken today. Even though our first walls are the garage, I am overjoyed to see them. I've been preparing for two shows - my pastels at Scott Milo Gallery and I have pulled my last twelve colored pencil pieces out of retirement to show with Kay Dewar at Dorothy Liberty Gallery. I painted my current studio and am still thinking about the colors of interior walls for the new house. And, I have been summoned to jury duty next week, something I've never done. I hear there is a lot of waiting so I think I'll take the color fan with me to entertain myself.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I love October

I made Nanimo bars for Women's Weekend 2014 - super yummy!
Suddenly we are at the end of October...what happened (I ask myself)?  Early in the month I renewed my drivers license hoping for a better photo. That didn't happen. I think I want a younger photo.

Our annual family Women's Weekend was fun as usual but different for me this year. My daughter is the new and improved version of me and her advice and insight is relevant and valued by her cousins. I'm over the hill for current advice but I'm still good for talking about the "olden days." I can see how Women's Weekend will someday go on without me and I'm happy about that though it is bittersweet.

A few days after Women's Weekend, I met my old friend Mary for our twice yearly lunch - always the month of her birthday, then mine.  October is my annual medical month, first a flu shot and on to my annual Adult Wellness Check. I keep making the same mistake on my Adult Wellness Check "test." There are line drawings of three animals. A lion, a rhino, and a camel. Every year I call the rhinoceros a hippopotamus then quickly correct myself. Well, they're both big.

Next came a simple cold but it got a little complicated in the middle and now, at 14 days I'm getting over it. I think I got it by reading the People magazine in the doctor's office. Lunch with my sister and cousin, Monday night football games to watch my Kennedy High School freshman grandson, some Saturday games to watch my 13 year old grandson "Wildcat," a routine dental appointment, a 60,000 mile maintenance on my car and selection of the fireplace and garage doors for the new house have rounded out my month. Oh, and a Sherwin Williams color fan deck to ponder (more about that later). I've become a big Pinterest collector for our new house.

I haven't been painting but did have a chance to reflect on my years of art through an invitation to post for Around the World Blog Hop.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

REALLY good stuff

My show opening last night gave me the opportunity to connect with Ginny and Bill, who own quite a few of my colored pencil pieces from a dozen years ago. Now, they also own "When All is Said and Done!" Thank you Ginny and Bill.

A festive evening in Olympia for the October Artwalk. While I visited with artists and customers in the State of the Arts Gallery, Jay was outside visiting with vendors.  Chocolatier, Brother Bliss, was set up right outside the gallery. Below is a photo of a few Blissful Wunders truffles Jay purchased. We continued on to a delicious dinner of Willapa Bay oysters (Jay) and Ling Cod (me) at Anthony's Home Port. We were celebrating my show as well as our house foundation that was poured at 7am that morning.

One more thing: When we delivered the artwork for this show last week, we took Annie along for the ride and during a short dog-walk we discovered Patrick Dougherty's Stickwork. Wow, take a look!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Good Stuff

My show, Of Time and Treasurers, opens at State of the Arts Gallery in Olympia tomorrow.

Our little lake house (and my new studio) is popping up. These are the forms for the foundation that will be poured soon. Good stuff happening these days!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

thoughts on time

Yesterday, a collector emailed me a photo of my painting, "November" hanging in her new home. When I saw it and remembered the process of painting it, one of the thoughts that came to mind was this old, anonymous quote:  "The greatest gift you can give to someone is your time because it is a portion of your life that you can never bring back." An interesting thought to me; that she would have a portion of my life. I had to think about that.

I feel a more exact statement is that she has the product of my time (which is a portion of my life). She has the tangible product of every painting thought for however long it took me to paint "November" but I have the intangible benefits of every thought of the same time period. If I was mindful (another word for paying attention) while painting this scene, I gained skill with the medium and an increased ability to express an idea.  I may have even saved some time by thinking about what to prepare for dinner while I was painting.

More thoughts on time, different subject: We finally received the permit to build our house. I am so glad Jay and I chose to have an optimistic attitude while waiting five months for the OK to build. We now look back on that time with mostly good memories and time well spent on other things. In the end we decided it was time to make a change so we could move forward and all was resolved within days. The excavator should be at our property today to begin. Backstory on our building project.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


We are happy today after receiving the good news that we can finally begin to build. Note the time on this - several hours earlier I received the following advice from the universe: When all is said and done, farewell to summer yesterdays. It is time to let go of the past five months and move on.

Friday, September 12, 2014

back and forth

Yesterday, Jay and I went to The Fair, a Northwest tradition that goes back to my earliest memory at three years old when I wore my slippery red velvet dress (a strange fabric now that I think about it) and rode on the ferris wheel. That is where I lost my precious red helium balloon - a vague memory of the string getting tangled in the machinery. Maybe someone lost their grip on it when they tried to get it loose or maybe the string broke but I distinctly remember the feeling of loss as I watched it float upward knowing there was nothing anyone could do to save it. Very sad. Yesterday we started with one of the famous Fair scones and ate our way through a shared Myers hamburger, polish sausage, smoothie and finished with an over-the-top strawberry shortcake. Four hours of walking, looking, eating. A nice look back and diversion from other things.

My life has been going back and forth. We have been waiting since last spring for the permit to be issued to build our new house. We have tried to "hustle while you wait" by down-sizing. I've been selling excess studio supplies and am finally down to a pile of books that will be donated to the library. Our house plans are on-hold during what seems like a step back in an effort to finally move forward and get started before rainy weather sets in. Also this week, I handed off the last of my Women Painters of Washington volunteer jobs that have been a big part of my life for the last 16 years. Back again: in October I will show twelve colored pencil paintings in a two-person show with my good friend Kay Dewar. Also in October I will show my newest work, still life oil paintings. Meanwhile, I need to revisit my recent past with a pastel painting project. I'm becoming interested again in more writing...and so it goes, back and forth.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


My handspun yarn from my previous life.
So, the knitting machines are in my studio now, stored with my wool roving, sliver and handspun. Here are a couple examples. The brown is from my black Romney ram, Mendel. The white is a Samoyed (dog) and Romney blend. I can't remember who gave me the Samoyed but it has to be blended with wool or it is too flighty. I love my big fat bags of wool.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

a new old hobby?

My bulky machine used for hand-spun yarn

In the last month I have been cleaning my studio and selling miscellaneous items on eBay. Downsizing my stuff is in preparation for the move to our new home and my new (smaller) studio. We thought we would be moved by Christmas but apparently it is not meant to be because we are nearing the end of our fifth month of waiting for the building permit. Very frustrating.

My little Peacock loom went to a new home with a really interesting artist, Charan Sachar. Please look at his website. He chatted with me for a while and I've been thinking about our conversation. He said when his love of clay became a job, he needed a hobby.  He fell in love with knitting and is now exploring other fiber arts.

hobby 1 |ˈhäbē|
noun (pl. hobbies) an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure: her hobbies are reading and gardening.

In the brief visit with Charan, I was reminded of my old hobby when I worked at K2 Skis: raising sheep and spinning and knitting, both by hand and with my knitting machines.

Today, Jay brought my two machines from our garage into the studio for me to clean and sell and I remember how fun it was to work with them. The time may be coming for me to semi-retire from my painting job and have a hobby in my leisure time for pleasure.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

At the end of each year I put show information in a big brown envelope. Yesterday I had twenty-two of those fat envelopes on my bookcase. We are getting closer to building our new home and my smaller studio and I have to downsize. So, though it was tedious, I updated my exhibition/awards history paperwork. Now my twenty-two brown envelopes are in the recycle bin and my art show, award, publication history is eleven pages in a 3-ring binder. Just looking at these three years on paper reminds me of the art delivery and pickup, packing, shipping and shipping cost.The good memories are the art and artist receptions.

2012    WPW 2012-2013 Northwest Tour, Celebration, Washington state venues
            IAPS Twenty-First Juried Web Show, online, internet
            Jeffrey Moose Gallery, Landscapes: Four Artist Show, Seattle, WA
            Pastel Society of the West Coast Member Show, Auburn, CA
            Northwest Pastel Society 2012 Members’ Show, Hood River, OR
            Celebration! Women Painters of Washington Traveling Show, five venues, WA
            Pastel Society of America, Enduring Brilliance, National Arts Club, New York, NY
            Northwest Pastel Society Signature Invitational, Bothell, WA
            International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) Twentieth, Brea, CA
            Women Painters of Washington Annual Members’ Show, Anacortes, WA
            Pastels USA, Pastel Society of the West Coast, Morro Bay, CA
            Northwest Pastel Society 26th International Open Exhibition, Tacoma, WA
            Pastel Society of America at 40, Noyes Museum of Art, Oceanville, NJ
            Scott Milo Gallery Group Show, Anacortes, WA

2011     Seven Wonders Show, American Art Company, Tacoma, WA
             Three Artist Show, ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery, Seattle, WA
             Northwest Pastel Society 25th Annual Open, American Art Company, Tacoma, WA
             Annual Juried Washington State Juried Art Competition, Bremerton, WA
             Northeast National Pastel Exhibition, Old Forge, NY
             Eastside Association of Fine Arts 2011 Member Show, Seattle, WA
             Pastels USA, Pastel Society of the West Coast Member Show, Stockton, CA
             Northwest Pastel Society Member Show, Kirsten Gallery, Seattle, WA
             NWPS Signature Member Show, Scott Milo Gallery, Anacortes, WA
             International Association of Pastel Societies 18th Juried Exhibition, Albuquerque, NM
             Six Inch Squared, Randy Higbee Gallery, Costa Mesa, CA
             EAFA 36th Annual Open Show, EAFA Gallery, Seattle, WA
             Three Artist Abstract Show, State of the Arts Gallery, Olympia, WA
             Women Painters of Washington Member Show, WPW Gallery, Seattle, WA
             Women Painters of Washington Fall Member Show, Mercer Island WA

2010     Northwest Pastel Society Member Show, Blue Horse Gallery, Bellingham, WA
             Great Lakes Pastel Society Exhibition, Midland, MI
             Light in the Air group exhibit, WPW Gallery, Seattle, WA
             Northeast National Pastel Exhibition, Old Forge, NY
             Eastside Association of Fine Arts 2010 Member Show, Mercer Island, WA
             Northwest Pastel Society 24th Annual Open, Schack Center, Everett, WA
             International Association of Pastel Societies 16th Annual Exhibition, Youngstown, OH
             Wonder! group exhibit, WPW Gallery, Seattle, WA
             Northwest Pastel Society Annual Signature Member Exhibit, Scott Milo, Anacortes, WA
             Jeffrey Moose Gallery, Two Person Show, Seattle, WA
             Richeson75 Exhibit, Richeson School of Art & Gallery, Kimberly, WI
             Solo Exhibition, Olympic  College Art Gallery, Bremerton, WA
             Women Painters of Washington Spring Member Show, Kaewyn Gallery, Bothell, WA
             Gallery North First Annual Small Paintings Show, Edmonds, WA
             International Association of Pastel Societies 15th Annual Juried Exhibition, Brea, CA
             EAFA Art Slam, EAFA Gallery, Seattle Design Center, Seattle, WA
             Auburn Small Works, Big Presents, Auburn, WA
             Pastel Society of the West Coast Member Show, Auburn, CA
             Women Painters of Washington Fall Member Show, WPW Gallery, Seattle, WA
             Western Washington State Fair Fine Art Show, Puyallup, WA
             12th Annual Pastel 100 Competition, online, The Pastel Journal
             EAFA 35th Annual Open Exhibition, Bellevue, WA

Saturday, July 19, 2014

a week with the boys

Our annual summer week with our grandsons ended yesterday. We had a great week. Lots of food and poker. Both boys worked on art. Elias (12 yrs) painted graffiti over several of my old paintings on cradled wood panels and William (14 yrs) spent many hours in Photoshop adjusting a photo from their trip to Europe so the statue could hold a golf club. We love spending time with the boys.

Elias Summer 2014
William Summer 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

The way things happen...

The most exciting and fun painting day I've had in a long time! Here's the backstory.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


It's like catching your odometer just as it turns over to a significant number. I have no idea who most of these people are. I think many are in France thanks to Pratique des Arts.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Juror's Award

"A Simple Truth: Trust," pastel, 12 x 12 inches
This year I have cut way back on competitions but one of the few shows I have entered is the Northwest Pastel Society 28th Annual International Exhibition in progress now at American Art Company, Tacoma, WA. I am happy to have received a Juror's Award from Juror/Judge Marla Baggetta for my painting, "A Simple Truth: Trust." The show runs through August 2. There are many beautiful paintings in the show, visit the gallery if you can.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

artist food for thought

I've just begun reading "I Always Loved You," by Robin Oliveira - a novel about Mary Cassatt and her relationship with Edgar Degas. This thought on page 15 resonated with me:

"To fear that no matter how hard she worked, no matter how much she studied, she might lack the essential talent of seeing. For true art lay in seeing....a properly chosen palette, a true sense of proportion, an effective brushstroke: These were not gifts; these were technique, obtainable by tireless observation and practice. But sight? Sight, it seemed, was a gift from God."

I continue to focus on small still life paintings. I'm comfortable now with my oil technique but this week I changed my process a little. I'm completing the value stage and then moving on to another painting. When I get a couple more of these I'll go back to the first one and begin to add color. My reason is two-fold.

1. To let the value dry before adding color. Although this will limit my ability to remove paint back to the white surface, it will also limit my ability to remove paint when I should have left it where it was.

2. To distance myself emotionally from the composition and value stage, hopefully to approach the color work with fresh enthusiasm.

I'm always looking for ways to make better paintings. Now, the obstacle is not materials or technique but instead, my inner dialogue. Find ways to free yourself to create your best work.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

salt and color

A Good Morning, oil, 6x6 inches

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Good Morning

A Good Morning in progress. I think all it needs is SALT (lightly). This is the stage of a painting that excites me most. I always think I would like to just quit at this point so today I did. From here, I would add color to be sure people know those are orange slices. Purple to indicate dried Statice and green for the glass plate and salt shaker. And then of course, details and refinement and viola! before I knew it I would have another polished painting that didn't excite me as much as if I had stopped much sooner.

A reflective morning about options and ownership, I'm feeling rebellious and that is a good thing for Mild-Me.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I lost it!

Oh happy day...well, actually happy moment late last night. I finally successfully lost the edge of my green marble. I imagine those reading my thoughts here are artists or art lovers and can appreciate a well-executed lost edge. But, there are other benefits of 'losing.'  Lose, let go of, don't own situations that are not yours. Lose yourself in your passion, whatever that may be. Yesterday's Seattle Times newspaper had an article called The Art of Focusing by David Brooks. Interesting reading. Back to painting now and my pursuit of more lost edges.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

First of the oils to a new home

Yay! The first of the small oils I've been working on since taking the Qiang Huang workshop in April is on its way to a new home. Actually, I will miss it.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I am the TP Fairy

A nice thank you from Mr. Cheerful and Agreeable. Marriage to this (new) guy makes all parts of my life easier, today's painting included.

"Nectarine and Cherry," oil, 5x7 inches

Monday, May 26, 2014

A day in May

Forty-five years ago today, my daughter Andrea was born. Today I finished the little oil, "A Day in May."  Painting should not be harder than childbirth!

A Day in May, oil, 5x7 inches

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

morning at Gold Creek Pond

We spent this morning on a photo shoot at Gold Creek Pond near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. Pristine water and air. Not sure when I'll get back to this kind of painting but I have some beautiful reference photos.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Mr. Cheerful and Agreeable has outdone himself and left me speechless. When I went out to the studio around 8 AM, look what I found!

Apparently, Jay got up at 5AM and made chocolate dipped strawberries for me. WHAT? I would NEVER have guessed he would think of doing that or that he would know how to make them. Not even any dirty dishes left in the sink! And, look at the message written on the foil wrapper of the chocolate bar. Wow. What a guy!

This nice surprise plus cards and calls from our kids - then a visit to our lake property - made a memorable Mother's Day for me.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Moving on?

I love the challenges I'm facing these days as I'm becoming reacquainted with oil paint. Here's what happened...

I've been playing around with oil paint for years but my primary medium for galleries and shows has been pastel. After a while, my landscapes in oil began to look very much like my pastel landscapes. Same look, just more trouble it seemed with brushes to wash, etc.

But when  I was introduced to the still life oil paintings of Qiang Huang, my interest in oil started anew and I am on a disciplined quest to learn to paint with control. Still life is an excellent subject for that now just as it was for me when I moved from the black and white work of fashion illustration to learning about color with colored pencil. For these little oil still life paintings, my goal is to handle the paint loosely with the hope that the viewer is still able to recognize the objects.

I'm painting with oil each day, my pastels are untouched. When the new issue of Pastel Journal arrived in the mail today, I was surprised to feel uninterested in reading it.

When a medium no longer holds challenges for me, I begin to get bored. That is what happened with colored pencil. I loved it and fully embraced it as my primary medium for a dozen years. Now it has been about a dozen years with pastel. Will my next dozen years be with oil? Sounds good today because I'm happy with this little painting of my father's shaving brush, the shells my son brought back from Europe for me, a sprig of dried Statice and a Chinese spoon that belonged to my first husband. The shells took a lot of trial and error which of course means I must paint them again in another painting.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Artists William and Elias

Friday evening we attended the reception for the Naramore 2014 Seattle Public Schools Middle & High School Art Show at Seattle Art Museum.

Our grandson William (14 yrs) had a painting juried into this prestigious event. William's painting is for sale directly from the artist, $500. After the reception, I took a photo of grandson Elias (12 yrs) with one of his paintings. We are so proud of the boys.

William Noah Foster, "Untitled," watercolor, Naramore 2014 Art Show at SAM
Elias Andrew Foster, "Untitled Aboriginal," tempera, 2014
Foster Family Gallery, Seattle, WA

Friday, April 25, 2014


I rarely take workshops but I just returned from four days painting with oil painter Qiang Huang.

Qiang Huang is the most thoughtful artist I know and an excellent communicator, both in words and writing. Before he makes a stroke on canvas, he has fully evaluated the hue, the color value, the intensity, and whether the color is transparent or opaque. Only then does he place the stroke exactly where he wants it. Working with Qiang has changed my thinking about oil painting.

My recent painting life:
I have been working for many months on my "mind's eye" landscape series in pastel. No reference photos, no plein air. Nothing but me in my studio with a blank surface and my pastels. To me this series has a mystical, dream-like feeling. The illusion of a place or time, or a compilation of memories from life or from a dream. I am pleased with the body of work that came out of that experiment and I'll continue to show it at my galleries into next year.

From the workshop:
I worked with staged still life objects and lit the scene to create a center of interest. The challenge is to portray the feeling or essence in an abstract style but based solidly upon the set up. At the same time, the goal is to work from actual objects and stay true to their color and value. Notice I didn't say form. Round objects may be squared off. A single grape might actually be a square of color with a dot of highlight but the viewer knows it is a grape, partly because of the surrounding/support objects.

I want to explore this style but it will be a discipline in many ways after years of being a free spirit in pastel. I could continue using oils the way I have been using them with the results looking much like my pastel work but the challenge of balancing abstract qualities with VERY careful observation and SLOW execution appeals to me at this time.

The first day of the workshop, I was dissatisfied with my effort and asked Qiang if I could wipe off my painting and paint it again. He strongly advised me to keep the painting and to refer to it as time goes by as a base-line reference point so I can see improvement in my work over time. I know the reason I wanted to get rid of the painting (shown far left below) was so I wouldn't be reminded of what a dud-painter I felt like the first day. By the next day, I managed to "get over myself" and get back to work. I listened carefully to Qiang's critique and suggestions. I took them to heart. I like that saying.

I'm ready for a change of medium, change of subject, change of painting method and hopefully a change of attitude about my work. I will resist the urge to "fix" painting number one. Wish me luck!

My 8x10 inch oils in progress from Qiang Huang workshop, April 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

A spoon and Boo

I just finished the first of four days with oil painter Qiang Huang. My workshop day ended with an OK apple painted in the middle of an overworked still life.

My day started with my usual breakfast. I brought our Muffin Man muffins, avocado, my mocha mix, eggs and my handy little microwave egg poacher that I use at home most mornings. However, I forgot to bring a spoon. The photo above shows how to eat a poached egg using half of the egg shell as a spoon.

My after-class laugh for the day is a photo I received of my sister and her new dog. Today she brought home Boo, the little girl Yorkie rescue dog. She gave Boo a bath. Why is Boo so big?

Friday, March 21, 2014

A review of my work

What a treat to wake up to the Seattle Times newspaper review about my work! I don't know writer Nancy Worssam but she seems to understand my goals as a painter... Yay! Read the entire review here.

A review of “Paintings About Trees,” comprising works by Barbara Benedetti Newton, Monte Shelton and Darin Clark, at Jeffrey Moose Gallery through Saturday, May 3, 2014.

The landscapes by Barbara Benedetti Newton are suffused with gossamer colors. Newton began as a colored-pencil artist, won numerous prizes and became a well-known teacher and writer about the form. She then began experimenting in pastels and more recently in oils. In these media, too, she has won numerous prizes and become a known authority, masterfully capturing the diffused light of the Northwest.

The pastel and oil landscapes on exhibit are impressionist renderings. For some pastels she adds moisture to achieve a wash that gives the works a diaphanous quality. Yet within these works she often includes hard-edged elements more precisely rendered.

There’s a lovely gauziness in her oils, too, where shapes and colors flow into one another. In these paintings she plays with the paint, sometimes feathering it out, at other times carefully defining each element of the landscape. Look for the bursts of color in many of the paintings, bursts like subtle fireworks that are powerfully effective.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Retired Guy finally cleaned off his desk and got back to me regarding these financial docs.

Otherwise, life with Mr. Cheerful and Agreeable is good. My focus is on our 2013 tax return prep and decisions for the new house so I didn't get to the easel at all last week.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

digging counts, painting doesn't

Good news today! Apparently, digging weeds out of the peonies counts as steps.

Since my 70th birthday last October, I've been wearing a Fitbit. Rarely do I make the "goal" of 10,000 steps per day. A 25 minute dog-walk gives me 2,500. A shopping trip to Costco is about the same. Yesterday I accompanied Annie and Retired Guy on their walk for a whopping 6,000 steps.

Today I dug in the garden for several hours and my Fitbit said it was 3,500 steps. Yay! Standing at the easel painting for the same amount of time is viewed by fitbit as comparable (in steps) to lying on the couch snoozing. Digging is good.

Monday, March 3, 2014

an attitude adjustment

 The Signature of All Things  |  pastel  |  15 x 18.5

In January I wrote that I suspected my life would change once Jay was retired. I anticipated helping him navigate the transition to his new life but surprisingly, I am not needed for that. He is loving retirement and is Mr. Cheerful and Agreeable. He is giving his full attention to the meetings and legwork to get our house plans submitted and to start the building process in the spring. Our project is in good hands. With Jay around to help care for Annie, I expected to have more time to paint. These days, they are together constantly beginning with a long morning walk. She accompanies him in the car for most errands. I am dogless, the house is quiet and I could be painting uninterruped for hours if I was motivated.

Instead, I have needed to take a break with a cold but it did give me the opportunity to read Elizabeth Gilbert's book, The Signature of All Things. I loved it and became curious about the title of the book, wanting to use it for the name of my latest painting.

I discovered Signatura Rerum (The Signature of All Things) by the German mystic and theologian Jacob Boehme (1575-1624).  In his book, Boehme discourses at length on one of the fundamental laws of magic: the law of signatures, the concept that every object in the real world has some hidden meaning, and particularly how these signatures interact. Interesting.

OK, I'm done with my cold and lack of motivation. I'm giving myself an attitude adjustment.