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.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Our Art Critique Group in it's 22nd Year!

Yesterday Jay and I had the pleasure of hosting the Third Annual Overnight for our Art Critique group at our home. This is a group of women who have matured together - both in our art and our personal lives. We continue to love and supported each other through good times and through the challenges that occur in life. 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.

Kay Dewar, Sheila Theodoratos, Teri Hamilton, Iris Stripling, Sueellen Ross, Paula Parks and Barbara Benedetti Newton.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Gone but not forgotten.

I'm not certain what this post is about but I feel compelled to tell you this story. My husband collects stuff. The other day, among his newly acquired treasures was an old paintbox and brushes. He gifted them to me and I put the brushes to soak in vegetable oil while I cleaned up the paintbox, all the while wondering about the artist. I know his name was Jerry. He is recently deceased, his relatives are selling his belongings.

His brushes are scrubbed and frazzled but when I hold them, I feel the determination of his grip. Like all of us who paint, I know that he experienced elation and joy as well as frustration and doubt as he used them.

The point of this story is the connection I feel to him. I am honored to be the caretaker of Jerry's palette and brushes and plan to use them. We live on through each other.

I used Jerry's brushes to finish this frosty morning scene and I signed my name with what I believe must be his "signature brush" because of the way it is cut down and the worn shaft. Though I don't know you, Jerry, I hope you are painting with joy today.

Frosty Morning Abrams Road, oil, 6x6 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Everything old is new again

Many long years ago (actually it was five years ago), I painted the first of what would become a series of paintings originally based on a reference photo of a marshy field.

First painting: In 2012 I painted Lowland, pastel, 10.25 x 10.25 inches. Collection of the Artist: I have this painting hanging in my house.

Second Painting: Then I painted Lowland II, 10 x 8 inches from the same reference photo but this time in oil.  Sold by Cole Gallery.

Third Painting: In the summer of the same year I painted Golden Afternoon, pastel, 20x20 inches. Sold by Jeffrey Moose Gallery.

So, at this point I had painted the scene 3 times - twice in pastel and once in oil. Then last year, Wendover Art Group contacted me about reproducing my work as prints and when they saw this one online, they requested a really high resolution image of it (larger than the 300 10x10 dpi I had).

Fourth Painting: So, I painted it again just for them in a 25 x 25 inch format and titled it Golden Afternoon II. I tried to maintain the colors, composition and emotion of the painting shown above.
After the Golden Afternoon II was photographed by Art & Soul for Wendover, the painting came back to my Studio. It is too similar to the original Golden Afternoon for me to make it available for purchase but I can't resist reworking it to yet another painting of the scene. The new painting will reflect my current work - looser, brighter, more color and a wider range of value.

Fifth Painting: A small pastel study to work out colors and composition is my first step. I prepped a piece of Colourfix with an oil wash and printed a small color copy of Golden Afternoon II to use as my reference though I would be updating my impression of the scene. I'm happy with the result and am excited to move on to the 25 x 25 inch format.

Golden Afternoon III, pastel, 6x6 inches.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sixth Sense

I shouldn't be sitting here typing this today. I should be at our Art Critique Group meeting.

But...early this morning (I think I was awake but maybe not) it occurred to me that I really can't see well enough to drive without my glasses. What if I was on the road and couldn't see? I can't imagine what would have happened to my glasses...maybe they would just fly off my head. So, one of the first things I did today was hunt around for an old pair of glasses to take with me for what seemed like a imminent emergency...being on the road and not able to see clearly.

Got ready, packed up everything including my lunch and two paintings to discuss with others. Took the dog out to go potty, brought her in because it is pouring rain today. Put the address in my iPhone and off I went. About a mile down the road I thought a rock hit my windshield. It was my wiper blade breaking. Big screeching noises. Turned the wipers off. Now I can't see the road because it is still raining hard. Pulled over and tried to put the blade back on. Look at the other blade, back around the car, look at this one. Back and forth. Got it on but it is not looking right. Looks sort of sprung. Ah ha! There is a screw object but it looks like I'm missing a piece.

Back inside the car. I have two pair of glasses but I can't see for another reason. Hmmm....I'll have to think about my intuition and gut-feelings. And, maybe I should carry a spare windshield wiper blade.

And, because this blog should be about being an artist, here are the two paintings I had with me. Both were painted from the same reference photo of Grinder Creek. One is pastel and one is oil. The oil was painted first then a few weeks later the pastel. I'm very happy with both.

Grinder Creek, oil, 10 x 8 inches
Grinder Creek 2, pastel, 10 x 8 inches

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What's up with that?

Five days ago I declared I would paint only when I felt like it (besides Friday afternoons with my painting group) because I was more interested in gardening than painting. But, since then, I've painted three 8 x 10 paintings, two in oil and one in pastel. So, I'm asking myself, 'What's up with that?'

Grinder Creek, oil, 10 x 8
I didn't feel like painting so I began cleaning. I came across the beginning of an acrylic still life from last summer. Oh so bad. I had to cover it up with oil paint. (See my Art Journal blog for photos of that.) Love the result and LOVED working in oil again.

Rock Creek: Winter
 I thought I was done with Rock Creek but wanted to try it in oil. FUN!

Grinder Creek 2, pastel, 10 x 8
Back to pastel for Grinder Creek 2 because I was interested in comparing how I handle the same subject in oil vs pastel.

So, I don't know what's up with this unexpected time at the easel but I'm happy to have these three new paintings. Now, back to cleaning and realizing I have to move some paintings out of here to make more space. I will go through my inventory and offer some older work online at unframed prices.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

I hereby declare...

I remember the good old days. Days when my primary focus was making art, selling art, hauling work around to galleries, entering competitive shows, teaching art and writing about art. I loved doing all that...THEN.

When we moved here nearly two years ago, I disengaged from art to focus on the move and the move-in. I remember how free I felt being on a declared sabbatical. The new gardens and the new house had my full attention and I didn't feel guilty about not painting. Slowly I renewed my online subscriptions to art blogs and began visiting Facebook and other sites again to get my daily dose of communication with other artists and by the end of 2016 I once again felt like making art was a job that required my participation every day. I don't want to have a job. I don't want to make art every day. I want to do whatever I want in my Golden Years.

I hereby give myself permission to have a more balanced life. Sometimes right brain, sometimes left brain. I'm happiest these days if I can focus on one or the other. I like the business of art: it took a couple days but I updated my art database. Knowing how many paintings I have sold and gifted is of no interest to anyone except myself but knowing makes me happy. It also encourages me to find homes for the paintings I have through online venues.
2016 tax prep during a power outage.
Another aspect of the business of art is taxes. A couple days ago we lost power for a windy afternoon. I spent the time working on tax preparation. Fortunately, I had already completed the computer work of Profit and Loss.
2017 flower and vegetable garden planning
And now, here comes spring and gardening. Today I'm sorting saved and purchased seeds and planning the gardens and pots. I declare (to myself) Friday of each week as my Make Art Day. I will leave the rest of the week to whatever I feel like doing (Tuesday is toilets). Some days, I may even feel like making art.  Happy Spring to you!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Journaling my day

My life seems to be zipping by in 24 hour increments. Some evenings, I wonder what I did all day. I mentioned in a previous post about Jay's Nutrition and Exercise program. One of the things he does is write down every food he eats and it has really kept him on track to be accountable to his goals. A couple weeks ago this article was in our Seattle paper:

It started me thinking about applying the concept to my day and my decisions of how I spend my 24 hours.  Can journaling help me discover my true Studio habits and set reachable art goals? Yesterday I wrote down what I did and the act of doing that kept me going. Last night, I didn't have to ponder where my day went and that felt good.

I don't want to do this every day because, after all, I AM in my Golden Years and I guess I'm supposed to be relaxing. But relaxing might be over-rated. To me, this is fun.

Everything old is new again

A follow-up to my previous post about repainting an old painting. It interests me to see how my pastel work has changed in the past 10 years. The maturity of the pastel mark/stroke makes all the difference.

Wild Meadow Lights, pastel 7x5 inches   Available

Wild Meadow Dream, pastel 5x7 inches  Sold

Monday, January 2, 2017

Taking my own advice

"Blessing all around if we pay attention." That is what I wrote in 1983 in the book I talked about several days ago on this blog. The trick is to know if I am getting side-tracked from my goals or am I looking at an opportunity (blessing)?

I had to make a decision this morning. Read about it on my Art Journal Blog