Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mourning without censorship

It's with sadness that I make this post . . . the dream of owning and operating part of a gallery, at least this one, has died. Remember just a few months ago I was invited into a gallery to sample first as a "guest artist" and quickly moved into "partnership"?

Well, initially, there was great excitement, renaming to gallery, deciding upon a tag line and getting everyone on-board with jobs and schedules. But as time went on there was evident, clear differences and varying levels of commitment. First, there was tension, next, conflict and finally division. When there came up a confrontation between what one person saw as "potential gallery image", while the other person viewed as "censorship" - the need for conflict resolution was clear. And we had none. So as people picked sides I could see no harmony or respectful communication - two values I need in partnerships - I knew the gallery was not a good fit for me. And I bowed out.

BUT, what I did learn are some "Basic Business 101" lessons. I now know the value of creating a Mission Statement, having By-Laws or some sort of Agreements/Contract as well as a clear proceedure for conflict resolution in place before you launch a business.

I can hear some of you commenting that those things aren't needed if you are good friends, or operate as professionals already or don't have any differences that can't be solved. I have to say I thought some of those things too. But, I was bewildered and confused by communications, hearing and understanding all sides, which disabled my ability to converse, objectively brainstorm and then resolve issues. Some topics and situations that came up were just OUT-OF-THE-BLUE - I couldn't have made them up in a fiction plot, but they appeared. So, having a pre-existing format for resolving problems is a must.

I'm hoping that my experience can help some of you avoid similar pitfalls, perhaps saving a dream. I debated posting this - wondering if I was divuldging some private issues - but a friend mentioned part of this lesson involved the ability to create without censorship. So, I continue to create, naming no names, pointing no fingers, discussing my personal experience. And . . . for now . . . I pondering what path to take for showing my artwork.

And actually, feeling like I'm mourning . . . the loss of a potential friend.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Triptych Delivered, New Gallery Begun!

Well, ok, I have a few minutes here and want you
all to know the conclusion of the triptych. I DID finish all three sections and feel pretty happy with all three.

My Patron and I had planned on a place just between the two of our residences, a big lodge right on the Rogue River. When I left home in Jacksonville, the sky was chilly and grey, but when I reached the Applegate Valley, the sun was beaming. I was early and poked about the grounds of the fairly deserted lodge. In the patio area I found a table and carried it out to an appropriate sunny spot. By the time my patron arrived, Cody, my sweet golden retriever, and I were basking in the afternoon sun. I asked her to sit on the rock flower bed and lifted the cover sheet - holding my breath, waiting for her reaction. I was pleased to hear compliments and mention of parts she especially liked (like the big bamboo fence in the middle frame). There was one area that had presented some confusion for her, the reflection in the far right panel where the sand was dark from moisture yet reflected some of the water. I'd fussed with it for awhile, lightening it and exaggerating the reflections before I delivered it. For now, she said she would 'live with it' to see how it settles in. Yet, overall, she seemed pleased and I, relieved. It was a big undertaking - nice to know I can meet the challenge.

One big project done - now - you won't believe this - I've taken on a BIGGER challenge. I was honored to be invited to "sample partnership" in a small gallery in Ashland. The wonderful lady artist, had had her original partner bow out and wanted to continue the gallery. To test out new partners, she inquired with two of us to come try being "guest artists" for October through December.

In the ensuing months, we have ALL decided with a big "yes" for the partnership and have begun paying rent and "all the accompanying accoutrements". We have added another lady, who wanted to rent the small space across from us for her studio, and we have renamed the gallery. After much discussion we are working on the name change to become, (are you ready?), drum roll, "Concetti Fine Arts"! Our tag line will be "Contemporary to Classic" and here's a shot of the new foursome.

And this being Thanksgiving Day ... how can I express the depth of gratitude I have when I look back and the wide spectrum of adventures I have in my life and how I get to struggle with some of them and dance through others ... and that I am "me" enough that I can share them with you all. I know how deeply I value others sharing with me their experiences, so I'm hoping opening up to who I am will help someone too. If I can remember, we are all human, working with and growing through our life processes the best we can.

Today, I am grateful and recommit to focusing on honestly, and loving expressing who I am while honoring who you are too. Namaste'

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Have I been buried for the month of October? Not literally - but - I'd pledged to finishing a commissioned triptych this month - so - I have been totally WITH PAINTBRUSH.

I'd done a pencil design and presented it to my patrons several months ago. It looked pretty much like this black and white image. So early in October I emailed it off for approval and we did make some small changes in the third panel . . . just dropping in different "items" in exchange for what was already there. Then when we'd worked that out . . . I worked up a value study. When I was happy with it I began enlarging this black and white to the actual 20 x 13 inches to transfer to my watercolor paper.

Next, I began to apply my resists to save my whites. Using both my liquid frisket and wax crayons I imagine where I don't want ANY pigment and then, come my washes of pale aureolin yellow, thalo blue and carmine. Once these are dry, I begin developing my darks and layering to create colors that glow from underneath one another.

Here you can see the beginning of my painting process. I'll be back soon to keep you updated. Now, I'm onto the big juicy, rich colors and on and on . . . the artists paradise :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Talk on Technique

Well, to my surprise, I had one of my wonderful readers send me a comment suggesting I follow up on the Rogue Valley Manor presentation with some snippets from my actual talk - to give you a peek into my crazy, complex technique. So here goes . . . this is a excerpt from my notes (well, I've made it sound like English now and corrected misspellings and abbreviations) . . .

"My favorite pigments are usually earthy, natural mixes but, to get some of the punchy, vivid colors I do layer with bold yellows, pinks and oranges.

I have pet brushes too (WN Scepter Gold II) – the majority are synthetic & natural hair blends. But there is nothing like a fat Kolinskey sable brush (a brush with only male mink tail hairs. These animals are native to Siberia and northeastern China, where the cold helps grow a thick, long hair that carry huge amounts of water) or a wiry synthetic to scrub off an area I want to lighten!

I do have an apparently, unusual painting technique – in that I paint w/2 brushes at the same time. 1-for carry pigment 2-for water source or moistening. And I have to admit when lost in painting – I have painted swatches across my overhead lamp to anything in the way of my unused brush.

Before starting my painting process, I define my image. I’m pretty exacting whether I start a piece plein air or work in my studio from photos.

Often I have just my sketchbook or journal with me when I want to capture a scene. These personal journals have added so much to my technique. Not only do I sketch more quickly but also, I relax into looseness, not worrying about errors and I experiment more – and that transfers later into my bigger paintings. The journaling, I find is more spontaneous and publicly unencumbered (although the writing can get pretty personal).

I’d taken my sketchbook along on a women’s hiking retreat. Well . . .
. . . and that’s one of the points I teach in my WC Sketching & Journaling Classes.

Now, with my fine art pieces I feel them to be more intense, complex and personal. These larger works spring off my journal sketches or redesigned photo references - into small line drawings. From there I use my trusty computer to enlarge my drawing so I can transfer it to WC paper AND I make 2 pale copies of the small drawing – 1, for working out a value study and 2, to suggest where I will pour my first layer of primary colors

But before any pigment goes on the WC sheet I determine exactly where I want to save my whites – VERY important with WC since the paper IS your WHITES – and save them with frisket (misket, plastic liquid that dries and can later be pulled up) or with Wax Crayons.

They are the latest discovery to my painting process – and I just LOVE them

These crayons (Caran de Ache) are brilliant solid pigment that act as a resist (your wet pigments will resisit staying on it) AND as bright colors that bleed throught the wet pigments.

After applying my resists – I mix a light value, #7 on a value scale, (or darkness) of my 3 primaries (Aureolin yellow, Thalo blue and Carmine red) and slop them onto my paper. Oh yes, they run into each other and the paper bubbles up with wetness, forming valleys and bumps – but it’s very exciting!

They I focus in on developing shapes, usually I end up going way dark really early (one workshop I attended declared me the “Queen of Darks” – sounds sinister, eh? Well, actually, it's a compliment to a watercolorist) and layering thinly to create colors that glow through from behind. Sometimes I use 4 or more layers honing the curves or shadows of flowers. "

Hope that gives you a window into my techniques . . . love to hear your feedback and comments on unusual techniques you indulge in . . .

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Show Up and Talk Delivered

We delivered all twenty-five pieces of art to the Rogue Valley Manor day before yesterday. As I mentioned, I was going to be surprised if they hung them all - but - surprised I am!! And I'm quite pleased with how they all look together. The florals blend well with the landscapes and visa versa. My journal was installed on a table in the back so that I might reference it in my 20 minute talk.

My Hubby and I arrived about 15 minutes before the "Artists' Reception" began. I rehearsed, and over-rehearsed the talk, added, talked slower, extrapolated with gestures, and practiced looking into my audience's eyes for days. Now it was time to deliver. I actually wasn't nervous - just ready to get it over.

Slowly the room began to fill up and pretty soon there were nearly 30 people. The introduction was done - and - I was off and talking. I'd worked out a signal with my husband, in that if I was talking too fast he'd do this "slow down" motion, but he never did. And once people actually laughed some at my humor . . . things eased up even more. There were a few questions at the end - which I was actually able
to answer, and then, the back doors opened up for appetizers & wine to be served.

Several very nice people came up and chatted about art and their responses included "The most detailed and technically informative talk they'd had!", "Your talk certainly helped me to look at your art and appreciate it more." as well as, the Resident Art Historian saying he saw "parts of my work that reminded him of Burchfield!" Hey, I'll take ALL of those comments.

But you know, the reason I believe this all went so well was mentioned in my talk. Well, here, I'll quote kinda what I said - there are times "that reveal to me I am a channel to express things I'm not even aware of and I hope those mysterious energies permeate the resulting pieces". Just as I hope "They" permeate my thoughts and actions not just in my paintings but in my life!

For those who ponder what happens when each one of us grabs an opportunity to try a new endeavor, fearful as we may be, I want to attest to the results. I feel stronger, clearer, safer and more free!!! Take the chance - cheers for embracing new adventures!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sunflower Drama - Tah Dah!!!

Don't worry, I haven't been idle . . . I've finished up the final piece for my upcoming Rogue Valley Manor Show. This coming Tuesday afternoon, I will be dropping off 25 pieces (I'm not sure that they will have room to hang them all but, I'll let them choose that) and then doing a talk of 20-30 minutes about my art and process the following evening. The show runs for the month of October - but is open only to the residents of this exclusive retirement home.

Now, that may sound e-a-s-y and fun to some of you . . . but for me, who used to drop out of classes that required public speaking, this is big for me. I'm surprisingly feeling kinda confident about it though . . . all I'm doing is talking about what I love to do. But I'm actually putting off writing the presentation right now, as I type this! :)

Anyhow, I'm pleased with how our sunflower girl finished up. I waited til the last minute to determine whether my focal point would be up in the upper left area or in the lower right petals. But as the painting was coming together, I just loved the textures and colors and patterns formed in that lower right table/shadow area. So I kept the strong white of that green leaf, just suggesting a hint of the sun-backed leaf and then, softened some of the sharper details up around the second sunflower in the upper left. And - tah, dah!!

I did have some difficulty photographing this image and would take any suggestions for future similar situations. The very dark sunflower center has some really dense, thick pigment, almost like oils. And when these areas dry . . . they can form patterns that reflect even the slightest light source when you are photographing. Some of that deep blue in my brown center of the sunflower is really reflection - not blue pigment. The watercolor was shot with only diffused natural light during the late afternoon . . . and I don't know what else to do to solve the challenge. Anyone, ideas?

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Oh my, can it really be a month since my last posting? Apparently so ... I apologize yet it's been an active and awakening 30 days.

From August 26th through September 2nd, I was in Colorado for my High School Reunion! What an adventure!!! First I visited some dear friends (actually previous 'family') way down by the Sand Dunes in the San Juan Valley. The place they receive their mail is Oak Grove nestled there in the high dessert. The vista in my journal is the last evening sun creating colors against the eastern range. This amazing couple bought some 80 acres, built their own barn AND Deltec home - yes - all by themselves. And they are still married too! I met the three mules they have raised and got a feel for the country when Karen and I hiked around behind their home, up to a ridge with this delicious rock and gnarley Juniper (I think) trees. We also visited the small spiritual community of Crestone. I was touched by the individual statements like "Love Gardens" with gems and stones honoring different archangels, Buddhist shrines and a pristine north Crestone trailhead. It was hard to leave my "ole' family" but, I headed back to Denver for the reunion.

There were activities all weekend to celebrate our South High School, Year of 1968! The reunion began with a gathering at our ole' high school offering us alumni a tour of the clock tower (forbidden territory in our youth). Name tags with our high school photos next to our names helped identify us all. Views from the tower were magical especially at sunset. The Sunday afternoon picnic in Washington Park, a large city park adjacent to our high school grounds, more my style, was held in the boathouse overlooking the northern lake.

After an afternoon of reminiscing and updating old buddies on my current life, I headed back to Greeley with my dearest high school friend, Brenda and her hubby, Scott. After years and seemingly centuries of working on my personal demons, I at last felt comfortable with who I am and how I've grown these past 40 years. I left that reunion really experiencing joy and gratitude for the paths I've chosen and the mentors, teachers and loves and hates along the way. What a relief to be at ease with the person one is.

Seems almost silly that one has to travel so far to realize the reality of one's life situation, doesn't it? But after a couple more days relaxing with Brenda & Scott, checking out galleries and sampling the National Louisville Art Show, I flew home to the open arms of Roland and my furry child, Cody. God it's good to be home, but it was good to be away too.

Remember Dorothy (you may not know that is my real first name!), there's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunflower Surrender

Well, yes, I've surrendered. I've madly been painting and stressing about finishing this "Sunflower Drama" piece I hang this Thursday (yes, only 3 days away) for the Artists' Workshop Show. Just last night I layed out the entire panel and calmly, realistically reasoned - - - I have enough pieces which work together and flow as "a presentation", that I DO NOT HAVE TO FINISH the sunflower piece. And I can still present her for the October "Rogue Valley Manor" Solo Show in a couple of months! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, breathe, breathe!

This decision allows me to address other priorities with pleasure rather than resentment! I'm plotting some advertising strategies for the "Women's Mexico Retreat" and also, preparing the agenda along with packing (you know how it is for most women to pack for a trip?!?) and researching galleries for my upcoming trip to Denver, Colorado - this coming August 27th! I'm attending my South High School's High School Reunion - oh my, it should be an adventure traveling back into one of my previous lives. But that's a whole other story. So exciting things are in process and I'm so glad I decided to "enjoy the process"!

I am pleased with the progress on my lovely Sunflower Girl. Yes, somehow she feels like a "she", strong, yet shy. And don't they say, our creations are holograms of ourselves? Interesting commentary . . . all philosophizing aside . . . it took me awhile to develop the dark values in the sunflower petals, bounced back and forth between using blues for the shadows (but that leaned towards green) and Quinacridone Gold, Carmine and some reddish-blues. The latter won out. So far, I have to admit, the juicy, watery area in the vase has been my favorite "playground". Painting wet into wet and watching the dance of different pigments and their crazy personalities - is one of the absolute joys in watercolor. So that is where I'll return . . . well, after I get details all together for the show and life's other callings.

Oh, yes, remember, we get to choose if we "enjoy the process" . . .

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Jacksonville's Wine & Art Festival

My, life is soooooooooooo full of great opportunities and plans - sometimes it's like a fast train ride! The last weeks feel that way yet, it's satisfying when the results seem a success!

This previous weekend, on August 9th, our lil' town of Jacksonville created a new "Jacksonville Wine & Art Festival" - and it came off beautifully! During the previous days our weather had bounced back and forth between 100 degree days OR thick, oppressive smokey air due to the California fires. BUT, that Saturday, the weather goddess blessed us with clear, blue skies and a high temperature of 86 degrees.

The artists began setting up around 10am at the eleven various sites around town. By 12 noon, we were all ready for the public and the venues looked great with a wide diversity of media and expression. People sauntered through town and as the day warmed , were ready for the 2-5pm wine tasting. Long shadows began to stretch across the lawn of the McCulley House where I, Roger Robinson and Leah Fanning Mebane, the two other artists, were set up when the Britt Festival's Classic Quartets, who dotted the town, began to play. It was divine - the evening breeze carrying the music through the air, people gathering with their wine glasses to listen and artists chatting about their artwork!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Beffuddled Salvaged

You might remember a week or so ago, I had started a journal entry late at night a painted the image on the wrong page - "Befuddled Entry" in the archives. Well, as most of us who have more years than a teenager usually know, that our mistakes can force growth and creativity. So look-y-here at what grew out of my befuddled mistake.

First, I did a small painting that would fit into the space - and I made a decision to cut the perimeter smaller than the actual "hole" I had remaining. Cuz somewhere, somehow, I felt there was a solution "coming." For days it sat on my studio desk ... just looking up at me.

Then, and this I will have to credit to one of my wonderful "Personal Journaling & Watercolor Sketching" students, Eileen, who'd mentioned having done alot of sewing. And - hey - I'd done lots of sewing years and years ago, but it took Eileen to jog my brain or muse or whoever it is, into sewing the watercolor piece into the gaping "hole". Yes, sew it.

I initially punched holes evenly spaced, with my needle, in the piece I was going to insert. The surgery was more awkward than I'd anticipated and many grumbles and spasms leaked out of the studio than I'd liked.

My biggest challenge was holding the piece floating in the air in it's place, while I attempted to stitch. The piece kept being pulled one direction or the other as I tightened the stitches. And my big bulldog clips I'd used to brace positioning, were so heavy, they bent the paper over as I worked. I ran out of thread about three quarters of the way around and stitched in from the other side, meeting where I'd run out of thread. That way I could do some tightening and evening up of the position - and - well, here's how it finished.

I'm pleased for being a new "surgeon" and when I gazed, puzzled at the empty paper on the back side of my "insert" - I got another idea. I'd wanted to honor this arborist who'd recently come and so lovingly educated and revered our trees - and this little paper island became the perfect lil' spot.

All and all - this "adventure" in journaling has been fun. And you know, this "event in journaling" is much like the "events in my life" . . . if I just trust the guidance will come to me and enjoy the journey . . . life unfolds beautifully. So, here's to remembering to trust the process.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sunflower Start

I just love sunflowers - they seem to be the joyful expression of summer at it's fullest. I ache to grow them in our garden but, last year, all five of the beautiful sunflowers my husband bought for me to bedeck our front porch were devoured by deer. Being told the deer don't like fuzzy textures, silly me, thought the sunflowers were safe - oh well.
So this is my love affair this summer with the sunflower - in pigment. She's going to be strong and big, measuring 21 x 20 inches. She leans in modesty, like all those quietly baring wisdom and beauty. I'm caputring her in our kitchen, resting in a vase with her smaller peers for background. I want to emphasis the dark lushness of her face with the brilliantly colored petals for her frame and splashing of white sunspots around.

The first image here is the start, where I have traced my image and have applied frisket to preserve the bold whites. I have learned, in the "trance" of painting big, dark, juicey pigments I will paint across those whites if I haven't planned ahead to save them. The frisket is my sure way to secure whites!

Next, you see stage two - where I have completed and dried a loose wash of Aureolin, Thalo Blue and Carmine over the entire painting. This gives a mysterious underpainting that whispers through the upper layers of transparent watercolor. I've also worked in my wax crayon, mostly in pale yellow and whites for this painting. It feels like I will use more crayon towards the end to highlight light areas or add zings of bright color.

And finally, in stage three, I'm developing some underwashes for bigger areas and laying down the background. With these started I can see how deep to go with my values and color compliments.

I'm off to continue my romance with my sunflower. Hope your summer days are filled with somekind of enriching alure with the Many pleasures nature and life avail us.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Befuddled Entry

Oh my . . . yes, when will I learn that 10:30pm is not the best time to begin a journal entry? But I did it any way, and the next morning I went in to finish up the sketch - ha - I painted it on the wrong page. Now it was out of sequence - and - couldn't tear out the page because it already had an image on part of the page (see image above).

Oh my . . . what to do??? Ok, I'll cut it out with my exacto knife, hopefully in a graceful, artist manner and "Yes Glue" it into the place it was originally supposed to be! Actually it leaves a kinda intriguing window - but - I think, to make use of the journal page I will attempt some inventive way to stitch in another piece of watercolor paper. . . soon.
For now, this is what the re-positioned image looks like - back in the place it originally was to be, to be in sequence. And I'm still studying, allowing that "Universal Creative Mind" to invent the solution to my remaining befuddled journal page.

Isn't it fun, to be reminded how human we are? I aim at turning these lessons into an "exercise in humility". So, for today, I'm w-a-y humble!

Happy creating . . .

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Feels like "Life on steriods"

Sometimes life is so abounding with amazing activities that I feel like I'm experiencing "life on steriods". But - believe me, that is NO complaint!

For the past several days I've been harvesting information for my upcoming "Women's Mexico Retreat 2009"! Between calling my Mexico contacts for lodging for my participants, my terriffic Co-Instructor, Damaris Pyle, to hone our content, presentation and locale, days have flown by. But hurrah!! Here you can see the results of my work:

This is the front portion and the back, when folded.

This is the inside portion.

I'm hoping you can clearly see the text of this double folding flyer. But if you can't, please contact me and I'll mail you an actual flyer - OR - you can check out the newly created (yes, another project occupying the last days) blogsite for more detailed information on the retreat!

I've also been helping with a new and exciting event in Jacksonville, Oregon, my sweet lil' town. There are two men who are full of ideas and energy and have heralded wine tasting accompanied with talented musician performers. Their first event went wonderfully - 400 people in attendance. NOW, they are adding us local artists! I'm assisting with the committee to gather artists, their information for flyers and locate each artist at various businesses in town. With it being the first effort of this kind - some juggling of ideas and outcome are taking place. But I'm feeling very optimistic with business participation and artist's involvement. It will furnish a much needed networking of the community and artists. So I'll keep you posted on the details of the August 9th "Jacksonville's Wine and Art Festival", 12-7pm. Only 300, $20 tickets will be sold for this "attendance limited" event. Proceeds go to the Jacksonville Woodlands Association - so I hope we have plently of attendees to help out a great cause and have a delightful day in historic Jacksonville - and - maybe be astonished at the talented artists who live right in their midst! Call Jacksonville Mercantile at 541-899-1047 for tickets!

Well, whew, I'm sure you've read enough. Stay tuned for the next entry, "Befuddled Entry"!

Doesn't life just keep getting better and better!?!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fourth of July Hike

For a few weeks now, we'd had a Fourth of July hike and following barbecue planned with several friends.

So around 8am we drive up Highway 5 towards Grants Pass and exit, headed in the Galice direction. The morning is quiet and cool. We are the first to arrive at the Grave Creek Bridge and park. I love the shadows early in the morning and notice swallows pirouetting as they dive under the bridge. Their white silhouettes against the dark shadow make me smile.

The next carload arrives and we gather ourselves for the two mile hike. We have chosen the south side of the river to hike - for the shade - and are grateful for it later! The beginning of the hike trails along a steep wall of rock and then, softens to hills and fern forests. I was captivated by the colorful Madrone trees twisting bizarre angles with their branches as they reach for the sun. And often found myself lagging behind - me and my camera capturing Madrone postures. A small creek cascades down the hillside about 2/3 the way to Rainey Falls - a chance for our Golden Retriever to lay belly down cooling off.

The Falls appeared quickly, taking me by surprise. Usually waterfalls occur where a valley is narrow and there is a giant drop - but these falls reside in a wide part of the valley and are a jumble of tiers at a wide mouth. More playful than jaw-dropping for me yet, powerful and beautiful.

We spread out like little ants across the rocks looking for the best vantage point or a particular angle from which to look. More downstream, one can see the width and fullness of all the cascades, closer, the thrill of the dropping water and the raging white swells. Most everyone settles near the exciting falls and chatter while watching rafters and kayakers navigating the different pathways. I land a little upstream, more near a little cove with a sandy beach. There I pull out my sketchbook and begin a brief sketch as I nibble on my Luna Powerbar. Cody and Roland wander the shores and the sandy beach is a safe, fun place for Cody to wade and drink.

While combing the shores there, my dear, observant husband chances upon tiny lil' shells upon the rocks, nearly 3 feet above the water line. He comes to me with three of them "for my Journal". Can you see why I love him? So here you see the yellow Ochre-colored shell for which I carved out a window in my journal. Since I'm at the near end of my journal this presented a challenge - but heck, why not carve out a bit of the journal cover. So that's exactly what I did, and cut out windows with my Exacto Knife to protect the height of the fragile shell.

It seemed all too quickly our friends were picking up packs and heading back along the trail - homeward. Oh yes, I'd completely lost myself in sketching and forgot about the barbecue later. Food! Fun! Conversation! Ok, ok, I'm working on coming back from my right brain! Roland & I share a nectarine before trotting off after the rest of our group. The hike back seems farther . . . and that little toe seems to be talking to me too! Ouch! This might be the last hike for my ole' hiking boots and I'm relieved when we get to the cars.

On our drive back the wind blows around the car cooling our hot necks and Cody is sound asleep in the back of the Subaru. Suddenly we see a large dark shadow drop out of the woods on our right and lop across the road. What!?!? As we slow the car to let it cross the road we realize - it is a bear! How exciting . . . glad we saw her here rather than on the hike! As we near Galice packed with holiday rafters we notice the soft-ice cream sign and Roland is quick to respond to my inquiry, "Ice-cream?" We stop and relish a cool cone and nod, giggle and chat about a great hike.

Just another wonderful slice of life. Hope your holiday was just as much a "celebration of life". Cheers!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Around the Corner ...

Last Saturday, one of my chores was to drive to Grants Pass to retreive the piece I'd entered into the Southern Oregon Art Show at the Firehouse Gallery. We made it into a family adventure as Roland, Cody (our sweet Golden), and I piled into the car. The drive up was green and pleasantly wove us into downtown Grants Pass. The boys waited in the car while I ran in to gather up my painting.

I'd not been able to go up to the show reception since it was when we were on our camping trip to Trinity Alps area - so I arrived early to catch the majority of the show before people took home their pieces. I paned the room and discovered my piece in the first corner - AND - dangling from the corner of the frame was - a second place ribbon in the watercolor catagory! Oh my, I was so thrilled!!! Touring the remainder of the show I was impressed with the quality and variety - even more humbled to have received the 2nd place ribbon. Proudly, I carried out the ribbon and my painting, "Gnarled Silhouette". It's a piece I'd long wanted to paint as it's the view out my studio in early Autumn. Now I know someone else enjoyed the view too!

Goes to show you, you never know the joys just waiting around the corner. So don't be afraid of rounding those new corners! Happy trails!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fun Teaching

My "Personal Journaling & Watercolor Sketching" Class is in full swing. In the Ashland Artisan Gallery on Main Street, seven students of very diversified skills and intent nestled into the cozy classroom and we warmed up with introductions etc.

The first three hour session was jam-packed with lots of information about beginning your journaling approach, supplies and various journals, basic techniques for drawing (line quality, value, volume) and, of course, homework assignments!

The following session was two hours and was a blend of painting/sketching, then some writing exercises. We began with an introduction to color, color wheel and color wheel theory. Here you can see the focused classmates watching their right-left brain sparking with an exercise. The writing exercises, hopefully, tailor down vocabulary and viewpoint to refine our thinking for journal writing.

Our third and final three hour class meets this Sunday. And a gracious gesture by one of the students has rescued us all from the confines of the Gallery's limited space (with 100 degree temperatures looming in the weather forecast) , to the spacious grounds of her home. It will furnish a comfortable, relaxed sharing for our ending class.

I'm off to polish up some final demonstrations and samples ... Happy creating!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Journal Play

In preparation for my upcoming "Personal Journaling & Watercolor Sketching" Class, I'm busy filling in any missing or unfinished images in my Journal. Yes, some of them go back a ways.

This was our second and apparently, final snow shoeing day, May 6th. We returned to our favorite spot, the Natural Bridges turnoff on Highway 62 north of Medford. There is still plenty of snow and when we first start out it's crusty. But by the time we've picnicked and romped along the river awhile, the sun has warmed and softened the snow. And of course, we ended the days frivolity with a piece of homemade berry pie from Becky's! I loved the idea of suggesting some mileage traveled by trotting Cody's footprints across the page in my illustration.

Then I needed to complete an image from the trip I took back down to my ole romping (seems to be alot of romping going on in the blog entry!) grounds, San Jose. Yes, I did have a wonderful visit with my dear, much missed friends and although, with some frustration, got some shopping done - but - when I got home the only sight that I wanted to remember as my favorite sight of the trip - was leaving the Bay Area! Sorry, San Jose, I'm no longer feeling like any part of me longs for a revisit.

One of the last images I decided to attempt - was a portrait of one of the political faces. I'm doing more and more portraits in my journal and am feeling more comfortable with the results. So here is the resulting Barack Obama portrait. I've painted other African American portraits and am always intrigued by the beautiful dark shadows and rich colors of the complexion. I choose not to use any blues or cool tones, which sometimes can look "like bruises". Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the portrait although I think his head is a bit broader. But we're working on practice and personal expression here - so hurrah - I've actually had friends say it DOES resemble the man. To me that is success!

So, I continue prep for my class and wish you all - happy creating!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Show Up & Trinity Alps

As I promised, here is a view of my "Florals" show at Liquid Assets in Ashland, Oregon. It will continue through June 26th - so drop by if you get a chance.

Now that Summer is nearly in full swing we just got back from our first "attempt" at a week long camping trip. We'd long planned it around Northern California in the Trinity Alps area and juggled schedules so we could have a full week there!

We arrived on schedule and perused many campsites to finally establish the one that "nearly" fit all our criteria. Just up from the Trinity Lake, we peered down onto the water - but because California is experiencing a drought - see how far down the water was. That fact did help keep the camping population down and we had the entire grounds to ourselves save for two other campers. The quiet was palpable and nature magnificent!

Waking the very first morning to the squawking of giant black crows reminded us we were no longer at home in our cozy Temperpedic! The night air had been invigorating and the precautions for bears tested our "civilized" habits. But the planned agenda of hiking and swimming was about to change.

Our Camp Hostess dropped by mid-morning, just about as we finished our hot tea, to tell us we miscalculated our camping fees (how could that be, math oriented as I am?!) and I went out to talk to her. Apparently our super watchdog, Cody thought he needed to protect "Mom" and flew out of the trailer door. In doing so, he caught and ripped two of his toenails in the slotted doorstep - and yelped in pain. He eventually started walking normal but, when we looked at his bleeding toes and nearly detached nails - we were off the find the Weaverville veterinarian rather than a morning sketching in my Journal.

The vet saw us quickly and took off Cody's two bent nails. After the procedure, he came out with his pink tongue dangling out one side, looking pitiful, and our hearts just ached. We were instructed to not hike and keep him out of the water. Oh my, the direction of our trip just took a change.

We investigated Weaverville and I joined the "Highland Art Center" there. The manager, Yvonne, was delightful and remembered a friend of mine who'd had her transition several years ago but had shown in that very gallery! I did take time to sketch in my journal while Cody and Roland rested in the adjoining park. And with Yvonne's suggestion, enjoyed a yummy dinner at the local "Gardener's Cafe".

Our next day was decided by Cody's ability to get around - we drove to Lewiston, just south of the lake and over the bridged river, to their "Peddler's Festival". The day was warm, breezy and the festival music provided animated entertainment. We bought a bent wooden rolling pin (for our homemade whole wheat pizza dough), sipped lemonade and, rested occasionally in the grassy area.

Just up the road, I discovered a home/gallery that advertised as "folk signage". I tentatively wandered onto the property where three houses existed. To welcome me was a fabricated "space ship" with a coiled snake atop greeting me. One of the houses was apparently the "gallery" where I meandered amongst antique clothing, beaded lamps, bold "Erta-like" portraits, and, my favorites, the paper mache' figures. I never did see the artist or mistress of the grounds - but savored her creativity! We'd thoroughly enjoyed the historic town with their energized booths of collectibles, memorable characters and fantastic creations.

Now, I'm home, preparing for my "Personal Journaling & Watercolor Sketching" Class starting June 22 at the Ashland Artisan Gallery & Art Center. If you're interested - there are about 1 or 2 openings for this fun, expansive experience. Contact me or the gallery at 541-488-5698. Til then - happy trails!!!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Journal Catchup

There have been many fun distractions here in life - one was a visit from a longtime friend of my husband's with whom he used to go to elementary school! So several days focused on play and touring.

The first evening of their visit we spent in Ashland experiencing their "Quick Draw". Local artists have volunteered to sketch, paint, mat and frame up an original painting in their favorite media to be auctioned off to raise money for local a art association - all in about an hour. Our guests seemed to savor the process and wondered why any artist in their sane mind would volunteer for that. But, now that I've seen the process, I just may be one of the insane volunteers next year!

The next day we traveled to Crater Lake, a must on all tourists lists. Amazingly, there was still up to 15 feet of snow surrounding the lake. We had to hike up a snowbank to peer over into the lovely blue water. Now Gaye and I got adventurous, and another spectator joined us, in hiking across the snowbank to see an infamous tree I wanted to share. My journal entry here shows that twosome smiling and sinking into the snow at various points. They were both great sports. The outing ended with sandwiches in the new cafe recently completed at Crater Lake. It was definately a story for their travelblog.

Now, I'm doing more sketches and paintings that are recent happenings in my life and will add the text to those here in the next few days. I relish this catchup time when I flip back through the pages and wonder at how full and good life is. More soon!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Prep for Upcoming Show

Contrary to appearances, I'm still here on the planet. This is what happens as a show approaches, I'm wrapped up in framing, matting, labeling and delivery!! And delivery is this Friday at 10am.

But good news is, that I finished the big Dahlia, which has now been renamed with her complete and distinctive title, "Silver Queen". So all you dahlia lovers can identify her and appreciate her special glory. I'm actually pretty pleased with how she completed. At the end I struggled with darkening the background as opposed to lightening it. But since I'm the "Queen of Darks" - you know which way I went :) Here she is for your approval.

I searched for a wooden frame for her, envisioning something in the Purple Heart Wood realm. But alas, there was none. I stumbled across a lovely, and expensive, muted purple with undertones of pale, cool yellows peeking through (see below). And thank goodness, I was able to get 25% off because it was carried "in stock" at Central Art in Medford. Big plug for them in their service, quality of joining, and promptness of delivery (early even!).

Now, the mats are all cut, and today, I mount and close the back up with accompanying hanging system. It's possible the next image will the be show hung.

Oh, if you're interested and in the area, my show is at Liquid Assets, 96 N. Main Street, Ashland, Or, 541-482-9463. The duration of the show is from May 23rd - June 27th. Do hope you will drop by. Now I'm off to frame. Happy May!

Friday, May 9, 2008

First Paint Out of the Spring!

The first planned paint out of my Thursday group was scheduled for yesterday. The day began gray and chilly (45 degrees) - burrrrr! But I really have been yearning for an artist's day and packed up any way.

Driving to Eagle Point, past Butte Falls Mill and on the day remained monochromatic. Lovely green pastures with cows and their playful calves, and giant bulls next to ole' barns began to appear. At first, I wondered if I'd gotten to the correct address, but our hostess popped her head out the door, welcoming me. Only one of the member of our group was there and she was inside, keeping warm.

I took my camera and traveled the sprawling ranch and gardens. The photogenic sheep posed for me (well, at least one of them) and eventually, I found this vista of zigzagging berry bushes along the irrigation ditch that traveled out to wide, yawning valleys dotted with green spaces. Ok, I'll sit down for just a bit to get the sketch in my Journal and soon I was painting - I was "captured"!

As time disappeared, I began to notice sprinkles of yellow sunshine on the far-away hillsides and - SURPRISE - the day had turned gorgeous! Of course, the color began to pop out with glowing light on the scene and I painted til content with my image. Simple, clean and fresh - better stop. While cleaning up I managed to spill my water reservoir in my lap, swell. But I took the opportunity to sit in the direct sun and write out my text along side my image. The horses across the valley whinnied, the cows behind me began mooing back and forth to one another - and the landscape just sang.

What a envigorating day outdoors with my Journal. Eventually, I dried out and packed up to come home, hoping to preserve this warm feeling.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Another Small Jewel

In between the tuggings of Spring, the Big Dinner Plate Dahlia and gardening - I have managed to finish another small "Jewel" Dahlia.

These are from the proposed threesome, sized 5 x 7 inches. I'm really happy with #3, she's intimate, vibrant and somewhat mysterious!

I did change my mind about the framing. Originally, I'd wanted to mount all four Dahlias in the same frame with the large on the left and the three smaller Dahlias, the "Jewels" as I've named the 5 x 7s, off to the right, stacked upon one another. NOW, I'm framing them all separately.

So for today, my creative juices rest happy. But you know they are ever changing and every flowing. Who knows what will come next.

Happy Creating!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Tangle of Delight

Ohhhhh, being home with the tease of Spring everywhere! The days grow longer and we are tap dancing between cold, hail, snow, cover-the-jade-tree weather to near 80 degree sunshine, wanna-buy-plants and garden weather!

And in between all that swing of weather is this "obsessive romance" that is culminating with my Dinner plate Dahlia painting. The more I paint and feel a part of this flower - I become more and more unable to leave 'her' alone. I just can't stop going back into my studio, contemplating changes, design elements . . . Also, it's a really exciting time in the process - the anticipation of how creativity will solve and unite the entire painting. Often, when I finish a piece - I sit back in wonder as to WHO really painted it. I honestly don't want to know - as long as I continue to be a vehicle for this kind of work, I'm very happy.

So I'm going to abandon you now, for the treasure time with my Dahlia and will report back soon. Well, at least as soon as I can pull myself away!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Travel Day

Today, we head back home. But the "busy-ness"of getting ready for our 3pm flight begins early, as Roland discovers he can't find the plane tickets. Now this isn't a giant problem because they were e-tickets and we just call the airport and tell them of our dilemma. The tickets will be waiting for us at the airport. The condo agreement includes washing and drying the towels and bedding. We spend the day laundering, hanging particles in the warm sun to dry and folding, along with journal catch-up and packing.

Once in the rental car and headed to the airport things transpire smoothly. We pass all the plantain plantations and wave g'bye to the vendors roadside stalls. At the airport we wait, are searched an re-searched, have our water bottles confiscated, and eventually board the plane.

Next stop, LA and Customs. They have forgotten to arrange Customs' buses to take us to Customs, so we sit in the plane for about 20 minutes. But eventually, we get all the formalities done and emerge out into the baggage pickup area. Fascinated by the lil' Beagle who is the trained "Search Dog", we stand and watch how his Master pushes down on each suitcase and the pup sniffs. We have a two hour layover but once seated and waiting in the loading area, we realize that our partners-in-travel have "well" used that time. Bringing back some chopped carrots for munching turned into a contraband search and "strong" questioning (the carrots were found by our lil' Beagle, by the way). I was astonished when I bought a salad, drink and bottle of water and the total came to over $20 dollars. Wow - airport prices!

The last leg home was solemn, yet anxious - we were ending a fun week - but - we were gonna see our lil' Cody pup! Our arrival in Medford, Oregon is met with crisp night air and we find our baggage and head home. We'd called our house/puppy sitter when we were in LA and she knew we were coming - but late (11-ish). As we drove up to the house our hearts were warmed to see the lights still on and lil' Cody come running out to greet us. We were h-o-m-e and very glad.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Final Day in Mexico

Feeling sad to find it was our last day, here, in Manzanillo, we decide to make the most of our time. All four of us venture north to sample Barra de Navadad. The drive north takes us through arid areas and small villages, eventually delivering us to Barra, as it's known for short.

The bustling town is packed for market day and we wander or tour, depending upon one's viewpoint, much of the town just in search of a parking place. Small businesses and vibrantly painted buildings add zest to the pulsating energy in the streets. First we trail the market streets - this market is set up, extending into many and various different streets. The booths are set up within the streets themselves so that businesses exist behind the booths, adding another dimension. Alot of the merchandise we saw looked familiar from the Manzanillo Market. But, as usual, my favorite part was drinking in the faces and traditions of the wonderful Mexican people. My favorite face was that of this lil' boy, watching in anticipation, the making of his candy coated ice cone!

After the Market we drift toward the tantalizing beach on the west side of Barra. We arrive relatively early and find a pleasing spot to land, just in front of a open-backed restaurant. Once we were seated and settled, one of the employees comes to offer us drinks and lunch. We order and nest in for the day. The beach is intriguing to us because the beach slants steeply into the water and, eventually, we learn why there is a lifeguard boat patrolling close in to the shore. The life guards are watching the swimmers as we find the bottom falls off quickly AND there is a huge undertow! We bounce on the bottom, attempting to judge when the next big wave will break and laugh when we miscalculate - and - get dunked! I manage to whip out this sketch during the afternoon. Mike attempts boogie-boarding with the new friends we've made, seated next to us, but realizes that the waves break too close to shore to even consider riding. We all enjoy the warm sun and the quiet joy of friends and fun.

But our "eating" agenda is calling us. We've read tale of a charming restaurant in Malaque "that won't disappoint" us. This is a smaller village and, after a short drive, we are on dirt streets with chickens and loud Cuban music in our ears. Our dinner mission directs us back to the beach where we find the "Restaurant Maya". Actually we enter through the back, beach entrance which is wide open to the ocean view! We are seated overlooking the same "strongly slanted" beach front as we'd left in Barra. But this time, we were given a fantastic display of young boogie-boarders who HAD found a way to master those fast breaking waves! The five or so youngsters would examine the breaking waves from the shore and when they saw the "perfect" breaking wave, would rush into the ocean, throw down the boogie board and jump aboard - flying right into the wave!!! They'd catch it, ride up into the break and usually, turn and ride down the wave. A 360 degree circle! But then again, the most fantastic rides where when they did NOT turn and just shot UP through the wave - into the air - breaking into aerial acrobatics! They were better than ANY planned entertainment! And then - let me tell you the food and atmosphere was EVEN better than the "entertainment"! I had a ginger, curried chicken to die for and food presentations were so lovely, we photographed them! And all this amidst the above sunset over the ocean! Perhaps we'd died and gone to heaven :) It was the perfect ending to our final day in wonderful the Manzanillo area.