Monday, February 11, 2019

Through Love's Eyes

The end of year is come and gone and this past one has been filled with changes. Some of them pretty big and others not so much. The task of another blog entry was more enticing than filling out the late Christmas cards. So here comes my latest blog entry. Besides, baking is out of the question. That would have mean dishes and a wider butt.

I won a couple Best of Shows this year which was nice. I appreciate the vote of confidence from the judges, as any win is nice. And every show gives you another chance to tickle a judge's fancy, or not. But these wins are balanced by other life events that are beyond our control. I lost a friend this year, a  close one, actually a family member. Which brought to mind everyone's time count down. 

I thought what would I change? Not much. I'd definitely keep my husband of over 50 years. Each year with him is more precious than the last. Especially after his stroke and open heart surgery in the last quarter. Yes he is getting better, looking longingly at his motorcycle. I'd keep all my kids and grandkids, as they are turning out to be decent human beings, kind and good people. I treasure my friends and my health. Yeah there's not a lot I would change there. My list of reasons to be thankful seems to stretch every year.

But painting....ah painting. Here a lot would change. I have the feeling that I may not be able to stick around long enough to learn what I need to in order to paint worth a darn. I mean worth a real darn. I try to paint for myself and if others like it so much the better, but I really do paint for myself. For the moment. For the inspiration. To touch that moment where it flows and you are a conduit. 

A lot of painting is cerebral. The scheduling, planning, the forethought. I think its the follow through that 's the thrilling part for me. Lately, I have held a tight rein on my choices as I paint, I guess thinking that I needed more control. 

I taught a workshop last October. I only do one a year. One of my students (they all worked their tails off) reminded me of why I paint. For the happiness of the process. The delight in color. The feeling. The last three landscapes I painted were fall landscapes. Colors were muted and dulled by the oncoming cold. No snow, just browns, beiges, duns and burnt oranges. This one student, Ann, painted the most glorious small piece. Color was bursting from that piece. There was a happiness to be about the painting process that was mirrored in her color choices.  Fodder for thought for sure.

I went back to my canyon today. I decided to paint how I feel about the canyon, not how quiet she looked. You see, to me, the canyon is very female. She has a varied wardrobe, and her garments change with the seasons. Her moods, well they are as changeable as the weather. But I needed to remember how delicious is life, how brightly colored it is. So I looked at my canyon through the eyes of how I loved her.  

This is Glorious Canyon. Mysterious, vibrant, beckoning. No quiet wall flower here, in this wonderful canyon of ours. Now let me tell you, the muted palette was there. But not in my eyes today.

Was it Socrates who said the unexamined life is not worth living?

Thanks for the reminder Ann.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Filling Time With Happy Pursuits

How is it that I am retired, but have less time than before? I do have good intentions, but they say that the road to (insert your less than favorite place here) is paved with them.

I did take part in the first of my plein air competitions this year. The results were not so bad.
I won the purchase prize for an 8x10 painting of the Blues Festival, here in Silver. Its title is "Just a Sittin and A Waitin", of two over 60 blues enthusiasts waiting for the festivities to begin, seated in the shade and enjoying each other's company. Blues Festival on Memorial Day features more exposed freckled skin than you have ever seen since 1962 in the form of blues aficionados, and some pretty good live music. The place does have talent.
During this festival we had the second in what people are hoping becomes an annual event, in our plein air community. 

Winning the purchase prize means I came home with money and left the painting for them to display or dispose of as they see fit. After all the hoopla was done it occurred to me that I never took a photo of it. Oh well....

But I did take a photo of the second of my paintings to win an award. This one for Artwork of distinction. I titled it "Silver City Women's Club" (a definite nod to my less than stellar titling skills). I should have called it Casa Blanca, as suggested by my good friend Carol, or Casa Azul. This building is one that has captured my attention every time I ever went past it. it's just downright pretty in a territorial kind of way. It features lots of  blocky modules, and a very nice play of light across its face early in the morning. Even better was my vantage point in front of the Chile Bowl Restaurant across the street. Safe, off the main thoroughfare, shady and pretty darned private. And I had the blessing of the manager. Important, that.

Here is SCWomen's Club, or should I change it to Casa Blanca, or Casa Azul?

Silver City Women's Club
11x14 oil on panel

If you would like this painting, go to my website to purchase.

Monet "Creativity takes courage".

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Time For Appreciation

As I enter into this decade of my life, a multitude of things take me longer to accomplish, not least of which is finding time to do my blog. I get the greatest ideas for blog entries, in bed, in the shower on a plane or the road. Seldom do they appear as I sit to do another entry. But it’s beyond time to do another, so here goes.

This fall has been a flurry of comings and goings. I flew to New Hampshire to see my sister and stayed about a month hoping the foliage would turn. Very few leaves cooperated while I was there, I missed peak by about a week. But I did paint a bit, one covered bridge and a few buildings. Corbin Bridge is in her town and easily accessible with good vantage points, so I painted that. It was an exercise in pushing color as the trees were still mostly green. 

Corbin Bridge, NH
I also painted on the Rockefeller estate in Woodstock Vermont. That was a fun day. I got to speak French with a docent and we visited grandly… I do miss it. I also painted the Woodstock library as light was breaking behind it and over the hill top. Met a leaf peeper (as the natives call tourists this time of year) off a bus with the same last name as mine. Now that doesn’t happen too often.

Then after my return home, I was out camping with my husband and two friends in Arizona. I painted there as well, but that presented challenges of a different sort. Challenges of composition in making a straight on view of a cliff face work. I also tried to make my translation of it more abstract than rendered detail. Challenges of wind and cold were a reminder that winter is supposedly on its way. It was colder in AZ than in NH, imagine! A curious squirrel did everything he could to entice a morsel of food from me, but I had brought nothing with me to share.

Fool's Hollow AZ

All this travelling about got me thinking about seeing my surroundings with a fresh pair of eyes. New England, Arizona or New Mexico, the wonders of this land and the works of we the people are amazing. I really felt a connection to all the places I was in. Surrounded by granite in New Hampshire or lava flow in Arizona, the impermanence of our time here becomes inescapable.

This tends to make me even more impatient to catalogue what I see in the time I am here. I sometimes wonder if the kids will have a garage sale and toss the paintings that I have agonized over after I am gone. I hope not.

I don’t write so well that posterity will find any deep thinking of value. But, I hope I paint better than I write. I hope that people who view my paintings get a sense of the reverence I have for this land and appreciation for all the sacrifices that our fellow citizens who came before us willingly performed.

If you have read this far, I thank you. Not all my blog posts are this serious. But painting this land has settled a feeling of thankfulness in me that I hope I never lose; one I hope I can hand on to someone else through my work.

"In the moment of appreciation we live again the moment when the creator saw and held the hidden likeness." (Jacob Bronowski)

Monday, August 21, 2017

There's a reason why I haven't posted in a while...

Why you ask?
For one major reason. I wanted to see if anyone actually noticed if I didn't post. So far, only three people even mentioned it. I am wondering if this is wasted effort.

Lots has happened since running after the decoration sugar balls on the floor, while baking cookies. We had the holidays. Grandkids graduated and got into college. We bounced back and forth from CA, Colorado and here. 
I went to the plein air convention in San Diego. That was like coming home. I took a workshop with my cousin Paul and Kim Casebeer in Evergreen Colorado. Wow, was it ever beautiful. Made a few new friends during the process and loved every minute. Moral - you can and will windburn even if you are slathered with sunscreen. Second moral - ALWAYS have a jacket in the car!

Balboa Carillon - Sold

I taught a workshop here in Silver and have been painting up a storm. I was asked to judge a plein air competition and did a defensible job. That was an honor, and was asked to judge two more, but what with travelling and family events could not do them.

What have I been painting? Mostly landscapes. Mostly plein air work. But I have revised several studio pieces that have hung around bugging me no end. Because something just did not ring true in them. I have one more piece, a pastel, that will undergo a face lift in one area. Then the backlog of those that can be saved will have been. Others will not be allowed into the lifeboat. I cringe when I see an older piece that today I would not have allowed to live. 

Morning Walk - Gila
11x14 Available
The best painting is always your next one. The worst ones always behind you. You hope. But I am learning to look with a more critical eye. Teaching a workshop really made me think about my process. What do I KNOW works. What is the major stumbling block to good solid work? I found, for me, the answer was concept and composition. I can forgive a color I would not use. I can forget a brushstroke that might be too exuberant. But bad composition, and loss or confusion of concept are fatal flaws, in my mind. What do I consider a success? Solid concept. Strong motif. Enticing composition. Defined, clear values. Finally, enhancing color and a deft execution of edges. Easy list right?

Bearpaw Bloom 8x10 oil - Available

My students told me it was one of the hardest and best workshops they had taken. It was my honor. I felt pretty much like a mama duck watching her fledglings toddle off and swim with the big boys. The body of their work, when compared to what they had done before was stunning in advance of quality. It was hard teaching plein air in a pouring down rainstorm. It actually washed away a layer of paint on my support! But we slogged on through and got some amazing paintings. 

Monsoons in New Mexico! I don't think I could give them up.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Let It Go!

Let it Go!

We missed a good chance to win some money from AFV this past week. All it would have taken was a short clip of me decorating the Christmas cookies I made for my grandkids.

I was placing the tiny white sugar balls on the cookies with a pair of tweezers when the cuff of my shirt caught the lip of the jar. Had I put the cap back on? Heck no! 
What followed was a wave of tiny white balls rushing to the edge of the table as I yelled S^*%! They moved faster than the Israelites running through the parting of the Red Sea!  Trying to stop those balls were like trying to herd cats.  My husband came tearing down the hall coming to see what had torn such emotion from my lips, when I cautioned him to not step into the dining room. One look of the floor told us both we had had a snow storm of immense proportions. White balls were everywhere!  Suddenly I started to laugh….the idiocy of the situation was full in my face. How could I not laugh? I let it go.
I drew a parallel this morning as I was driving into town to get the one package I sent off this year. The care I had taken with the cookies was painstaking. The time was spent hoping to make my family and friend’s holidays a bit brighter, one bloody ball at a time. Sometimes painting is like that. You agonize over an edge, a stroke, a poorly drawn form, a seemingly false color value in the wrong place. The problems with some paintings just do not give you peace, even at night as you lay there thinking what on earth could you have done to have made that painting better. The stroke by stroke replay can leave you tossing. So when you view the painting in the morning you are determined to fix it or kill it. The painting, that is. Because by then you have deduced that the problem with your sleep pattern is not the too bright moon, the too late dessert, that last cup of coffee, no. It is the obsessive nature of a painter who demands from themselves that which their mind sees, but that their hand is not yet capable of producing. We all paint masterpieces in our minds.
What is the healthy direction then? What resolution is there for this obsession?  I have decided that it is to do the same thing as I did with those fugitive white balls. Throw it/them away. If I cannot improve it…..I can destroy it. Thereby keeping my sanity and maybe finding a new way to work. By not placing a label of precious on the thing, it has abdicated its power over me. I become the one with the power to create, refine, change and if desired, to destroy. Let it go. See no work as precious.
The cookies are done. Decorated with all their little doodads intact. The frosting has hardened and set…

The cap is on the jar of white balls. Tightened down. Twice.

Merry Christmas and a Blessed Season to all.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Concentrate On One Thing At A Time

My kids sometimes call me Dora the explorer. Why? Because I often seem to go off in tangents, forgetting what the heck I was doing. I really think it’s that my mind works in flashes. The more insistent the flash, the more brilliant and beckoning it seems. So off I go. Then comes the fall back to earth. I experienced this when we held a paintout weekend in Hillsboro NM last week.

I painted, very patiently and logically the light on three old building remnants. One was a shed, one was a crumbling jail wall, and the last was the arch of the old courthouse wall, the only indication of what is reputed to have been a gorgeous building in Hillsboro, when it was the county seat. All are working their way to being vague memories. Relics is the title I gave this small but intricate light study. It is pictured below. An 8x10, it is small, but full of information.

Oil 8x10 Available

Finishing the piece I started to pack up my gear. Then Dora’s head popped up! Behind me, aglow with light were absolutely glorious wildflowers! Their passing would definitely not leave relics of their time in this world. They demanded to be recorded. So back out came the paints. What resulted is a small 8x10 painting that I call Morning Glory. It definitely was. Not only that, painting it served to loosen me up after so very carefully painting the crumbling walls and the arch of the courthouse.

Morning Glory
Oil 8x10 Available

This fall back to organization and reality can be tiring in its emotional intensity, or on that rare occasion, insightful and insistent to the point that it MUST BE obeyed. 

I used to be organized, logical, methodical, and I think, totally boring. Not so anymore. I wear purple far more. My white hair makes people a little more forgiving than they were when I was the same age and dyed it. I think my lifelong admiration of the greeting card character Maxine has caught up with me. (Watch out world). So, creatively, I think flashes are good. Liberating, routine smashing, creative, and even desirable.

Squirrel??? Where???

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Did She Really Say That?

Go to My Website

I cannot be the only one who plays back conversations in their mind. I often know after the fact, EXACTLY what could have been said in reply. But how many of us play back what the other person said and wonder what they truly meant?

I am talking about taking classes and workshops. I have read too many books about art to list here. Lots of positive self-help stuff, because as most artists, I am plagued by wondering if anyone really appreciates what goes into painting. Especially plein air which I liken to painting on steroids, or the Olympics of painting, for the sheer effort that sometimes can be required. I have read what not to take into the field, but figure there’s a reason why I drive an SUV. I am not a backpacker, hiker or any of those young buff type advocates. I am looking at the looming end of my sixties with a real appreciation of being able to do this at all. Physical things take longer to bounce back from. Heck I don’t think I bounce at all anymore.

But I do take classes and workshops. I truly try to grasp with both hands what the teacher is getting at. I will try anything, go anywhere, if I think there might be a breakthrough at the end. There’s lots to learn and my time to learn it does not stretch out limitlessly. Nobody’s does. So even if it’s well after the notes have been taken and reread, that when I am standing in the shower, soaping up my head (or whatever), that when a revelation hits, I stop and think. Gosh I’ve even gotten goosebumps standing there all wet. But I have come to realize that not all of it sinks in. It’s often like watching runoff after a drenching rain. The earth is parched, but the water runs off. Likewise, my mind is hungry, but only able to take in and digest what it is ready for. But there are times when you are ready… times that stand out as that AHA, I’ve finally gotten it, moment.
  • Do Thumbnails – Yes I mean you! At least three variations.
  • Use a limited palette – That means learning EVERYTHING that primary colors can do.
  • How many greens can you mix? How many variations and temperatures are there in one color family?
  • Tone your board with an overall tone – NOT brilliant orange
Twisted Oak Winery, Sunkissed

That’s what happened when I took my first Kathleen Dunphy workshop this past April/May. I saw how wise counsel, trying it all, and saying “what the heck” can get you. It’s not the vast number of paintings I did (I only did three, and of those would only show two). Rather, it’s the willingness to fail, to throw caution to the wind and try everything she suggested, that brought me the best return. Everything she said I had heard before, read somewhere before and never really accepted.  I figured if it works for her, what the heck? I am so glad that I left my stubbornness at home and really listened. I feel that there is real substance in this approach for me. I am going to give it a good try for a while and just see if there is a difference at all in my work.

Soul Refllections
Here’s to growth. It’s not just for kids you know.