Monday, April 25, 2016

art on "the road"

off to lubbock last week. love looking out the window of the plane & seeing big fluffy white clouds casting shadows.

i had lots of work and little spare time, so just completed 2 pages in my travel journal. i'm making an effort to find new things to draw in hotel rooms- it's a bit more of a challenge on an airplane (but i should get pretty good at drawing wine glasses.....). the third panel is part of my continuing quest to understand my tools before going to paris. the paints react differently with various papers, and these books are old, with fragile paper, so i need to be careful.

i've been making marks in journals in different ways to see what i am most comfortable with, and how the media responds. i am really liking the water soluble graphite. the ones below are from derwent, and the colors included- prussian blue and sage green are two- make this a nice addition to the blocks. but i don't think that they're easily packable on a long flight.

seeing how pens/markers work over different backgrounds. i then sprayed water to see which would run, which would stay. so now i have an idea how to whittle down the pen/marker selection.

i also tried my hand at a watercolor still life in my studio. i haven't ever painted with watercolor- it's a difficult medium- so this is all new to me. i've only used them in my little antique dictionary travel journal. i want to have a better grasp on how they work on better paper. 

one thing i discovered is that the winsor newton kit doesn't have black (which is ok- i'm used to mixing blacks and actually prefer doing that), but it also doesn't have the brown and blue i am used to using to mix black. the brown isn't dark enough. i ended up using water soluble graphite for the blacks here, may need to switch out a color or two in my kit.

next up- what journal(s) to take? jaki and pam were telling me to take only one, but i don't think that will work. i'll do a few test runs this week and report back-

Sunday, April 17, 2016

tools- so many options, so little room to pack.....

i love tools. i'm a bit of a "gearhead" when it comes to this sort of stuff- my friends call me gadget girl. this isn't necessarily a good thing- like when i bought the first surface thinking it could replace my ipad & stand in for a laptop on short trips. too heavy, not enough battery life- which was subsequently fixed. i should have waited.

i don't believe that a person needs the most expensive equipment to do the job, only that you need to know the tools' abilities & limitations. i take photos

 with my phone

sony mirrorless camera

and the D800

each works best for me in specific instances. the D800 is wonderful, but it's heavy and i am not going to have it with me all of the time. that might mean that i'm not a serious photographer, but IMO figuring out how to make art is what matters, and if it's instagram photos that's better than not shooting.

art supplies present endless possibilities, especially for the mixed media artist. i am pretty comfortable using oil and acrylic paints, but have always been terrified of watercolor. you can't paint over mistakes! things need to be planned! the white of the paper is used as the white in the painting- frightening stuff. when i started using watercolors for my travel journals i never gave much thought to the quality of the paint. i just looked for kits that were easy to pack. 

being gadget girl, i ended up with 3 of them. (one purchased after i tried to pare down my travel kit & take only pens. silly me- i got to lubbock, needed color & bought a paint set). the 3 on the right are, from left to right, the first 3 in order of purchase.

for my birthday my sister and nephew gave me a certificate to blick. i have a few big trips planned this year, including one to paris, and used the money to upgrade to a winsor newton 1/2 pan kit (far left above)

the sketches on the left done with the w/n paints- the color is more luminous, the paints are nicer to use. there is a definite difference. ( as there should be for the price!)

i found these cool art graf pigment discs in houston last week. i've been enjoying playing with water soluble graphite & these offer the same characteristics with limited colors. different feel and workability than watercolor. the bird head below is art graf & w/s graphite. the owl is done with inktense sticks. these are also water soluble and can be applied with a brush (used like watercolor) and/or used to draw with. the difference is that they are ink and do not reactivate. i sprayed water on the owl today and nothing moved.

now i am trying to figure out what, realistically, i "need" to take to paris in my travel art kit. 

 i am also realizing that i need to practice with whatever i plan to take, as this is a very different way of working than i am used to, and i want to be able to use what i bring with me well. i've been doing test runs the past few work trips on the pen side of things, but now i need to work on this part. 

fun stuff- stay tuned!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

music is magic

i had the opportunity to tell another artist how much i like their work last weekend. 

lyle lovett was here for a vintage motorcycle race. i have seen him several times and long admired his music. saw him again a few weeks ago with robert earl keene. my hubby pointed mr. lovett out (as he was graciously having photos taken with people) and i thought- "i like it when people tell me that they enjoy my art- what the hell?". so i walked up, told him how much we enjoyed the show and he was so gracious and genuine and truly appreciative- he asked me for my name, thanked us for coming out and said they had fun playing- what a class act.

so that was fun but i don't feel like i'm making much art these days. 

then i try to give myself a break and remember that i experienced (and recorded) this

and remind myself to breathe. that we're all on a path, there's no finish line, no judge. i will paint again.

art is so much about sharing for me, which is a large part of why music speaks to me. 

"To make a song is a gift, and once it's done it keeps evolving and changing and becomes a tool to interact with other people. It's like a conversation."

 Ryan Adams

Sunday, April 3, 2016


what a difference a few weeks makes. i knew that this page wasn't done, but i had to let it sit.

now it's done-

i got to go to the desert for inspiration. first time in death valley, hopefully not the last- what a vast, mysterious, beautiful place. missed the super bloom, but could see how amazing it must have been-

and there were  wildflowers at higher elevations-

joshua trees are pretty cool-

and random desert sculpture gardens are always inspiring

 spent some time journaling- long layover in san fran

 quicker work in the small book

one completed page

grateful for the inspiration and for the time to make art. it's good to work, even if not on pieces destined to hang on a wall. it's good to create and to be surrounded by creation. nature heals- so does art.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


there are times that it's just a struggle. getting up, going to work- let alone making art. whatever the reason- the gray gray weather, the death of a beloved companion, a cold that lingers on and on. we've all been there.

no post last week, not much art being made. molly's death, lots of travel, feeling under the weather all catching up with me. you can only run for so long. eventually there's a stopping point. it's often what happens there that determines how things look going forward.

i'm grateful to have my journals to help with that. i am working in all of these currently. each has a personality and they call to me at very specific times for different things.


after vacation i went immediately (as in less than 24 hrs) into intense training at work. which was great but unsettling. followed by a spawning salmon week (swimming upriver only to spawn & die- everyone's had them).

so i went into the studio one night, pulled out a journal and drew an image of myself with a barbed wire burka. i had to laugh- i had no idea that the piece was going this way but it is a perfect representation of how i was feeling. but the meadowlark always sounds like spring to me, so there's hope.


i feel scattered, fragmented. working on this and that- which is better than not working, but it's in fits and starts, not flowing. not feeling like the muse is present- but sometimes you just have to do the work. 

one thing that always helps- the great wide open. cranes flying overhead to land and sing and dance in a field close enough to observe.

beautiful snowy mountains and watery fields holding the promise of a fertile spring

 quiet wild places

funny- i didn't realize until i started writing that this is very much about spring and rebirth. about saying goodbye and moving forward. about spending the time needed to be still and then making noise.

i am working on a portrait of molly. she was much on my mind as halle, jack and i hiked this weekend. the first spring without her in many years. this is my way to say goodbye, to honor her spirit and thank her for what she brought us.

it occurs to me sometimes the struggle is necessary in order to slow down and reflect and make peace. that i should be gentle with myself, and understanding- as i would be with anyone else. that it's all part of the process and it makes sense to learn what i can in this moment, from this seemingly unproductive time (because i know it's really not) so that i can be gentle with myself when it happens again.

Monday, March 7, 2016

time flies

on february 23 we took the redeye to florida. went to the keys to visit a friend and to beautify her trolley's air conditioner. i have never done this sort of thing and had no idea what to expect. we stopped at home depot & got supplies ( way too much paint & primer, but better that than not enough).

started out thursday by prepping- the interior of this vehicle is beautiful (see it here) and we were very conscious of being careful.

once the prep was done, it was 2 coats of primer & 2 coats of latex base- with 1-4 hours dry time between. i hadn't planned for it to take that long to lay the base down (duh) and was feeling a bit short on time when we got to this point. it already looks better , though.

the first time we visited jeanne, we saw spoonbills flying overhead. got a lesson in how you don't see flamingos in the keys. so i knew i wanted a spoonbill. always good to practice first. 

back on the bus and ready to start the mural. i had visions of a nicely graduated water area, which were immediately shot down by how fast the paint was drying in the heat and the fact that even with glaze it just wasn't behaving. panic.

when in doubt, texture. i started "sponging" colors off and on, creating layers. first using paper towels, but the paint was drying so fast they stuck, so i went to plastic bags. once i was satisfied with that, i started on the critters. roseate spoonbill first.

i only got this far on one side- would have liked to have a fuller sea, but it's a start. and jeanne could tell i have a tarpon & a yellowtail, so that made me happy. guess i'll just have to go back & finish the job.

last thing i painted was a raven-

 i have started working in the french english dictionary that i bought for this year's vacations. the first 2 images are our portland trip, the next 5 the keys. happy with the conch shell- this is one exercise i rebelled at when i was taking classes years ago. drawing it gave me satisfaction- that i wasn't too scared to try, and that i turned out OK. 

the pelican is awful- but this is about practice, so that's OK. i drew the kayak & paddle board on the deck of a sailboat. we had a chance to do a little exploring in biscayne n.p.

home and off again in less than 24 hours, for a training class that had us working 12 hour days- starting with 5 hours on monday evening. here are the journal entries for that trip-

and home for girl's art weekend. i had no time to prep, shop, etc. luckily the rest of the crew had everything well in hand. i ended up bringing journals to play in- couldn't really come up with anything else- 

i am now actually home for an entire week and looking forward to getting in the studio to do some bigger work. stay tuned-

Monday, February 22, 2016

one step forward- or knowing when to take a break

on monday, molly lost her battle with osteosarcoma. if heart could have beat it, she'd still be with us. she was charging out the door to meet the world until the end. she left us as she did everything else- on her own terms. we woke up and she was gone- no letting anyone else decide for her. rest in peace, molly- we miss you

losing molly and coming down with a cold it was a bit of a struggle to feel like creating. morning pages are hard to do. all i want to do is curl up with some mindless reading and drift off to sleep.

of course, the job that pays the bills has other ideas and i was off to lubbock again. lucky enough to enjoy this beautiful view from a window seat

i am also disciplined enough to make myself draw in my travel journal, so i did finish a 2 page spread-

i received a post on my great wide open art facebook page from the person who purchased my valentine for aids- . i always like to hear from people who have my art- i love that my pieces go off into the world and mean different things to people. it's as though they develop a life of their own after leaving the studio. it's nice how these reminders come at the right time- as i'm feeling a bit down about creating and getting anything out there, getting a note from someone like this is a big boost.

the cold came on with a vengeance and it was couch and book and nyquil and nap time for much of the weekend. i managed to get into the studio yesterday afternoon to work on my print for the wingtip press leftovers print exchange, but i just couldn't get it done. i couldn't get the area next to the stem of the wineglass right. i'm sure that with a bit more work it would be OK but at this point i was tired and cranky and decided that sometimes instead of taking 2 steps back it's better to just stop. so i did.

looking forward to feeling better and getting going again next week. down time is a necessary part of the process for me, and i know that, but i do miss being in my studio and creating too. it's going to be a couple of weeks before that's a possibility, so it's going to be photography and drawing and planning in the meantime. 

til next week-