Wednesday, September 26, 2012

LOKI Is Alive And Well And Living In Colorado

Loki is the Viking god of mischief. I thought he was dead, gone - kaput.
More the fool was I.

On Saturday, ten days ago, hubby and I had set out for Westcliff Colorado, via a stopover in Denver to visit family. The occasion was a long awaited workshop in the Rockies taught by a renown painter in a to die for location. I almost did.

Hubby was on his motorcycle and I drove my car full of art supplies and high hopes. We hadn't been on the road but a few hours when i started to fell quite sick. It continued and did not abate through the weekend. On we drove, and arrived in Denver on Sunday. On Monday morning I painted with my cousin in El Dorado Canyon, just outside of Denver, all the while thinking how lousy I was painting and what the heck was the matter with me.
Me, painting in El Dorado Canyon during my appendicitis attack, about 3 hours before surgery.

After almost passing out, I asked my cousin to find me an urgent care. The urgent care doctor sent me to an ER.  From the time I walked into the hospital until they wheeled me into surgery less than an hour and a half had passed. I missed my workshop. But I am here. I will paint again.

Now I ask you - what person wants to mark their 65th birthday with an emergency surgery for a perforated appendix? I think that despite Loki's best efforts, my guardian angel was definitely on overtime, guiding me to an absolutely wonderful hospital, a great surgeon and caring hospital staff. But most of all, I had a loving husband, the voice of sanity, who insisted that I be quiet and listen to the doctor with whom I was arguing, (cause who EVER heard of a grandmother of 4 needing an emergency appendectomy?) to go read the results again cause he HAD TO BE WRONG.   DARN.   He wasn't. 

Frankly the Vikings can keep their gods.

Pretty apt quote: 
"Life is what happens while you are making other plans." 
- John Lennon

Friday, September 14, 2012


Do you remember the old ketchup commercial where the closeup of the product slowly creeping out of the bottle was accompanied by the song "Anticipation"? I wanted so much to pop that bottle in the butt and force that stuff out. Life was a rushed deal in those days for me. Time was limited, structured and finite. I couldn't, wouldn't waste it. Its been years now since I have felt like that. Love retirement.

But I am remembering that commercial this week, anticipating my workshop with Don Demers this next week, just south of Denver at Art in the Aspens. Finally. I tried to get there last year. It didn't work and I didn't get to go. That was a disappointment. His work is extraordinary, gorgeous stuff. I intend to pick his brain. I am bringing my brain picking fairy with me. I need one as my memory sucks as I get older. Hers is better. Aided by a notebook and copious notes and a lot of photos, I am hoping a lot of it sticks.

This workshop is out in the middle of nowhere USA. So I am taking half the studio with me. This is a picture of the car packed with just my art stuff. I haven't even thought of clothes yet. The important stuff goes in first, right? Oh did I mention I have an opening tonight? Yeah, here in town. I  have 4 paintings in it. New crowd of people, new faces. Should be fun. Who says retirement is dull?

The weather channel says possible snow in the mountains of Southern Colorado this weekend. So I am bringing the warm snuggies. Hubby too. Can't forget the fingerless gloves and coffee thermos. I understand Donald is a task master working his students very early and very late. I sure hope to have some new and much better paintings to show you when I return. And the snow can be a new challenge too. Especially for someone who has spent the majority of the last 35 years in Southern California. Golden Aspens, that's the ticket. I am packing a couple of yellows in my box, leaving the ketchup at home.

Does anyone know how to get a jingle out of your head? Anticipation, anticpa a  tion........
Wow that's going to be one long ride if I can't get it out.

Fav quote:

Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.      ~ John Quincy Adams                                                

Monday, September 10, 2012

Make new friends – But keep the Old

There is an old song we used to sing as girl scouts when we were around a campfire (there is also a reason why I carry every tool know to man in my backpack – be prepared!). It went something like “Make new friends, but keep the old, One is silver and the other gold”. A truism to be sure, but it’s valid none the less. It’s good life philosophy, but a good thing in painting too.  I like to think my friends are for life, as I value them dearly, just as I value certain pigments in my palette. They provide a safe haven of known performance and give me a base of comfort from which I can charge forward with newer additions, experimenting and learning as I go.
Entrance to Wind Canyon Estates

Limiting color choices in a palette keeps a painting within a family of colors. But this past week I bought and read Lexi Sundell’s new book  “The Acrylic Artist’s Guide to Exceptional Color”.  I paint in oils so I had to translate to oil what the pigment names were, but I found her logic interesting. Her explanation of additive versus subtractive color systems is one of the simplest and easiest to grasp I have ever read. She has a gift for explaining why color acts as it does.

I had seen artists in the Southwest use a strident teal, stronger than cerulean in their palettes and had railed against it. I had thought that it would be impossible to tame that chroma. My recent foray into Ken Auster’s palette had me recoiling from alizarin crimson, finding it even on my underwear! I swear that stuff had legs. So I was very wary of the Quinacridone Magenta she suggested as a red. And the thought of using a brilliant hansa yellow, was, well, brilliant! I tried them today. I did add a deep cad orange and a deep, deep, purple and white to the litany of colors I laid out. But the results were not at all strident!
Wind Canyon Entrance - √Čtude 9
8x10 Oil study - Linen on wood

 In fact I was able to get that elusive color of sage tips that has haunted me for the last two months. So now I have found that I LIKE this palette. Moral: Go get Lexi’s book. It’s laid out in the most logical way for visual learners, with many clear well thought through and imaged examples. And there is fodder there for people who have painted for a long time. Sometimes we need that nudge to try something new. We are creatures of habit, putting colors where they have always been in our layout, each having its own unique spot. Mix it up! Add a new color. Try it out.
I found inspiration in her pages and I tried something I had not tried before, And I liked it. I probably would never have bought that tube of cobalt turquoise given how expensive it was. But I found an older tube and talked the store guy into a deal. And I also found out that in painting, as in life, it is easier to tame a wild horse than to resurrect a dead one.

Monday, September 3, 2012

To Print Or Not To Print – That Is The Question

This is a long post and for that I apologize. I just got home last night from a lovely art Festival in Las Cruces. The grounds were lovely, surrounded by pecan orchards (or is it groves?). The venue was convenient for unloading and loading. Neighbor vendors were friendly and helpful. The music was live and wonderful. The Franciscan Friars were so very nice. The food was great. It was wonderful.
Plein Air Painters of Southern New Mexico
My paintings are those in gold frames on the left

Did I sell anything? No – not a thing. I am analyzing why not, and I think I have found several reasons why the lack of sales. Of the 5 artists that I showed with, only one sold a very small and not expensive painting and a few prints, which were extremely moderately priced. Was the quality of work good? Across the board, we hung very well together. The quality was excellent from each and every one of us. Our styles are all distinct and did not overlap to create a competitive situation, and the media we used was everywhere from oils, to pastels, acrylics to watercolor. We talked up each other’s work and pointed out evasive qualities to those viewing our work. Each piece was unique and personal. The reaction we had from passersby was extremely positive. People walked in with huge smiles on their faces and peered intently at our work. Comments were so very positive, but sales were dismal.
Bob in his part of our booth at the
Franciscan Art Festival, Las Cruces

I walked around and talked to artists who said they had made over a thousand dollars that weekend. I studied what they were doing. Their sales were a trail of ten to twenty dollar sales, with very few larger items being bought. The four large pieces that did sell at this festival, were the result of one artist having a following from years of exposure at this venue, to some with major reductions in price, to a very lucky stroke of luck in the last 20 minutes of the two day affair. So what were these artists actually selling? Small, cheap prints sold well, as did cards and folksy gourds and lots of little jewelry pieces. Everything was handmade, each booth unique and every artist was good. Anything that was over fifty dollars did not move easily.
So now I am asking myself – “Should I do prints?” My gut reaction is an overwhelming no. Why you ask? Well most of my work is plein air, studies providing information for larger works. They are the result of a moment in time, careful study and observation. I choose to not do prints for several reasons. I could do a legitimate series of copies even after a sale. But think of the art. Having a thousand copies devalues the original. Nobody will want to buy an original at whatever price, if a $35 print is to be found in hundreds of homes and businesses. Look at the can of worms Kincaid opened up by slightly retouching giclees (prints) and calling them original art. Think of the thousands of buyers who felt deceived when these practices were uncovered and the money they felt tricked out of. All those prints will not accrue in value. There are simply too many of them. They will become today’s Currier and Ives prints, found in every home and worth but a few pennies. And those of us that follow him are now required to be even more honest in our dealing with the public.
The cons to prints:
  • Too many exist, there is no ‘unique’ quality to the piece
  • The prints' existence devalue the original
  • Maintaining the inventory is a cost and is an energy and space drain
  • The effort to transport and display such wares makes the effort to show more heavy
  • Too many prints can cause an opportunity for others to copy an original and further devalue your work, thereby increasing competition for a finite market
  • Maintaining the reproduction quality is a job in itself

The pros to making and selling prints:
  • An artist can sell and resell his/her work
  • The artists can reach a market that cannot afford the work in its original form
  • Proliferation of an artist’s work can mean greater exposure

So what to do? I personally do not feel I want to make prints of my plein air paintings. Often the quality of the stroke is an integral part of the work. Some of the strokes stand out from the canvas. That is lost in reproduction. There is a quality to an original that simply cannot be reproduced. When I produce a studio work that is large enough to command a far greater price, I might consider making a print. I have done just a very few of my piece “Mother’s Love”, which is pencil and carries quite an impact.
Mother's Love
19x20 Colored Pencil _Available

 But to do a print of a plein air would destroy the uniqueness of the experience of the painting itself. I would rather sell one painting at a decent price (and mine are not overpriced) and have the owner realize that what they own cannot be bought at Walmart.
Historically, art is not created for the masses that cannot afford it. This is not elitism, it is fact. What we produce as artists is a select product. As such it requires a select client base. We can allow a payment plan or take credit cards that allow payment over time. We need to respect ourselves and our work. For if we do not, who will?

What are your views?
Fav quote:
A novice painter stays in their comfort zone, a professional painter takes leaps of faith and makes daring choices in every painting.
(Lou Maestas)