Monday, March 30, 2009

Don'tcha Hate It

So, today is cold and wet and snowy and I've been working on some night times.. The pieces here are brighter in real life--really. It is just that my sky light is covered with snow again and it is very cloudy (read snowy) outside. And no way am I gonna take paper based work out in the snow for a better photo shoot! I'm dreaming of spring! And it will be about June when the daffodils come up here. But come July I'll probably be mentioning the highs in the 70 and 80s.

The night times take a bit longer than other skies but people seem to like them. What I hate is when I mis-cut the paper I work on and do a piece that fills the too-big sheet. Notice the piece on the bottom right--it is an inch bigger than the one on the left and my pre-ordered mats and frames won't work with it unless I cut off some sky!!! What a waste of time!!! Or maybe I could cut off some of the grass in front--that might work even better. Better, I guess, than doing a piece that is too small for the pre-ordered mats. We've got some of those types of skinny guys hanging around the house.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I would have posted a different image but it is soo windy that I can't take the pieces outside to photograph. So windy in fact that my favorite ball cap (Pirate Girl--Abaco) flew off my head.
But these three were done on the ampersand panels so they weren't in danger of flying away!

On another note, Rees tells me that Steve Earle is scheduled to release a new album within the month--all covers from Townes van Zandt. I'm psyched. One of my favorite dead guys covered by one of my favorite live guys! Who knows? I may have to figure out how to upload a song once it comes out. How 21st century is that?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Disappointing Snow Levels-NOT

The snow we were expecting came last night--only not in the quantities forecast. Probably got about 6 inches. I'm okay about that as I believe spring should come back. I miss it. Walking Bug is so much more pleasant when it is 50 and sunny than when it is snowy and damp and 24 degrees. I hope it melts tomorrow.
Here's part of a panel I've been working on. I forgot to photograph when just in the chalk stage.
Here I've added most of the road and an adobe building near the center.
Here the layers of grasses have been applied. I think it is finished but will leave it on the easel until tomorrow in case any tweaking is required.

On another note, I want to apologize to the facebook people who I have been remiss about responding to. I really am trying to get with the program and push myself (admittedly kicking and screaming) into the 21st century. But it is a lot to ask of a scatterbrained artist. I'll try to check in more regularly. I did feel better reading in The Week that the largest growing segment of the market using facebook is the 34 to 50 year olds. That includes me. So I'm not so far behind the 8 ball. But my dear niece Kate invited me to twitter and I signed up and never did anything after that. I guesss I'm still clueless about how all this interacting allows a person to get anything done. I'll work on both the twittering deal and developing a facebook profile when I get a little more time. Promise.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dogs & Snow

In most of the country spring has sprung. In fact, it had sprung here for most of February and most of March. Beautiful blue skies and balmy (for here) almost daily. Then, cruelly, winter showed its ugly mug once again. I woke up this morning to overcast skies but by the time I had finished showering and drinking my joe it was snowing cats & dogs. It stuck for a while but not all day. The snow has subsided but the forecast is for 8 inches to a foot tonight and 6 more inches tomorrow. If we get it, I'll post a picture.

And speaking of dogs, we were graced by Bill & Carol's labs, Josie and Olive, for the day. That meant two walks instead of one, a trip to their house to get them, and countless throws with the chuck-it. Needless to say, I didn't get as much done. Although I really enjoyed their company in the studio. A nice fire, 3 dog beds, three sleeping labs--excepting part of the time, Olive, who is still only 2 and likes to take very short naps--especially compared to the other two---it was a nice day. I got 2 pieces done but they weren't as big as the ones I did yesterday. Oh, well, you can't be productive all the time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Productive Today!

Sorry about the glare--it is getting dark and I wasn't able to photograph as I normally do. Just pretend the shiny and white out spots aren't there.

Sometimes my first day back at painting is really hard. I feel like I have to start really small and build up. Today, dear readers/followers, I didn't feel that way. I just wanted to get out there and do something constructive. Not like yesterday's dreary chores, but fun painting type productivity. Yeah! I think it might be the first time I ever I got 2 19 by 25 pieces done in one day, after a painting respite of an entire week. Admittedly, I didn't get all the frames that were delivered today put away or the boxes stored, but I did get 2 big pieces done.

That's the thing I guess. I really like to be out in the studio. I like selling at art shows and meeting the people who like my work and interacting--otherwise, I'd be a total hermit--but I miss being able to create.

Back In the Saddle

So the winds I mentioned Sunday morning never really materialized--there were a few gusts but absolutely nothing like they had been forecasting. Yeah! Sunday turned out to be a good day and I made some sales. All in all a good trip.

We arrived home late Monday night and I spent yesterday unpacking the van, packing up paintings I needed to ship, putting the paintings away, figuring out what I sold to whom, doing laundry, reframing the couple of pieces where dog hair--yes, DOG HAIR!--had infiltrated under the glass and rested on the nice pristine white mats. As much as I love my dog, I'm thinking maybe the next one should be white. At least then, the hairs wouldn't be so noticeable. As much as Rees helps with everything, an artist does not get to just paint. There is always more to do!
So today I am finally ready to actually paint (or color) and get back at it. The images above are just a couple more from the show since I didn't have any new pieces to show you. (I'm guessing the several laundry baskets full of clean clothes don't count.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Scottsdale Arts Festival

Okay, I'm finally posting something. I was just being cheap. We're staying at this great and very convenient hotel, The Mondrian, right on the show grounds but you have to pay for internet. So we opted to not do it everyday. This morning I don't have much time before I need to go open the booth but thought I'd post in and bring you a photo from the show. So far, sales have been good. Not great. But nothing to complain about. They've forecast high winds for this afternoon so keep your fingers crossed that they don't get too bad. Will be home tomorrow and will give you more info then!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


We're getting ready to leave for Scottsdale and the van is full! I mean FULL! But, I thought before I left I'd show you some evening pieces I've been doing. Will try to post while on the road but don'tknow how easy it will be to manipulate images...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

McWilliams Visit

Today Dennis & Clarissa McWilliams stopped by the studio with their children, Christian and Hudson, their niece & nephew, Canion and Carsyn Hempel and Clarissa's mom, Pat. Dennis & Clarissa own quite a few of my pieces and it was nice to visit with them. The three older kids made some fantastic art while they were in the studio. I'm impressed. Top pic is of Christian McWilliams, second one is of Canion Hempel, and the bottom one is Carsyn Hempel. Good job, guys!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ready, Set, Go!

Scottsdale, here we come. Today we finished framing all but the 3 new large panels. Yeah! I'll pop those in tomorrow morning--simple as pie. I do need to remember that when we have large blocks of time in between shows I should frame more often. That way I wouldn't have to waste a bunch of days in a row doing so. And, it really isn't all that interesting to post about. I should have taken a picture of all the completed work--the studio is cramping up as we pull more and more stuff out.

But, I was able to paint his afternoon and that felt good. It is my job to paint but I really do love it and miss it when I'm just doing framing, etc. So, it is nice to have finished the drudgery and to get back at it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Framing and framing and framing

Not too much to report except that we got a ton of framing done today. Just a bit more to do before we leave for Scottsdale. Yeah!! Framing is not my favorite part of being an artist but I do like seeing the painting inventory build up! Of course, I like that to shrink while I'm at shows as well. But it is nice to see a broad variety of work all at once. 'Cause once I get them framed I box them up and don't get to see them until we hang them at a show. Painted a few night little guys yesterday--they're the ones in the pictures above. Happy Weekend.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Techno Problems Conquered!

So it turns out that the thing-a-ma-jig that connects the camera to the computer wasn't totally plugged in. That's why picasa didn't recognize the "H" drive. Anyway, I'm thrilled to report that the techno demons aren't hounding me any more. At least not for a while. Or at least not those demons. I still can't figure out how to add more info on the left column of my blog--like the blogs I'm following and stuff like that. Eventually I'll figure that out too (I HOPE.)

I finished this piece a couple of days ago and am pleased with the peacefulness of the piece. Today was a busy one but I didn't get any painting done. I started framing for my Scottsdale show. Rees got all the postcards for that show printed and labeled and stamped(I put on the address labels--it helps me remember customers' names.) So those are out and on their way. And I got a frame order delivered so I got most of those put up. And had Rees make a bunch of frames.

The Scottsdale Center for the Arts puts on a great show every March. I've been lucky enough to participate in it for the last 7 years. I was thrilled to find out that I'm back in my regular spot, near the Old Town gate to the show. And we haven't done a show since October so I'm getting a bit antsy to get out of Dodge. Rees hotwired and got a great deal on the on-site hotel--The Mondrian--which is, oh, so convenient. And the food options are pretty darn good in Scottsdale so I'm looking forward to that. I do wish we'd already cleaned out and organized the van as we are getting more snow. It will make for a messy load-up--read MUD.

One bit of trouble I'll have is that I have been painting up a storm and have way more art than I can bring/display at the show. So, I'll have to make some decisions about what to bring. Probably a li'l bit of everything. I was accepted into the show in 2 categories so I'll want to bring a bunch of my mixed media panels along with all my oil pastels. It looks like the weather will be cooperative this year. MY spring break! (It is almost always nice for this show--only once, a couple of years ago, when Phoenix hadn't had rain in 141 days did it rain and rain on Saturday (and even snowed up in Carefree.) Living in a drought state I totally got how excited the locals were for the rain. After Scottsdale, things heat up as we head to Texas for a few shows shortly after our return from Scottsdale.

And as for my hair, it actually didn't look too bad today when I did it. But the pictures from yesterday of the new do were too ugly to post. Oh, well. Happy Friday the 13th. Again!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not so thick

I'm thinking I'm getting the hang of the oils. I guess I'd been laying them on too thickly for what I was looking for. Although I must admit that I'm still getting used to mixing the colors on a white background. As a matter of fact, that makes me think I should pull out an old wooden palette I have and try that. It would be more similar in color to the underpainting on these pieces. As it is, all the colors are a big SURPRISE when they first get applied to the painting. So, while these are not finished, they have their first layer of color on them. I'm thinking only one more layer and I'll call them complete. I will have to wait a day or two for this layer to dry enough. I'll post when done.

These two pieces are a bit blanched in my photo. The colors are actually kind of cool. When I get these 3 done, I will have completed 20 oil pieces. Too bad I hadn't set a number for a goal. It would have been something I could cross off my list.

On a musical note, my friend Steve sent a link to npr for some free music from the South by Southwest Music Festival. It is something I'd like to attend sometime. Usually, though, we have a show the weekend of the festival. This year we'll be in Scottsdale. Haven't tried out the music yet but will post about it when I do. I'm not sure how well I've linked to the site but between the http and knowing it is nprmusic, I'll bet you can find it.
Download a free 10-song sampler of the artists featured by NPR Music at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX this month. Hear and get music from The Decemberists, Blitzen Trapper, The Dirty Projectors, BLK JKS, and more. Just click the link above and follow the instructions for downloading the mix from iTunes.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Titles of Works

For once, I'd only gotten this far on a piece when I had the title figured out--"Prima Vera". I thought I was being pretty clever. Only it turns out I have a piece on my website called Prima Vera. Rats. And, of course, I was painting a spring picture because it was snowing--no, that wasn't in the forecast--today. What this all gets down to is I have trouble with titles. Really, mine are never very good. Maybe it is because I don't put enough time into them or maybe it is because I usually title the works as I am framing. That means that the first few of framing day actually have catch-y titles but towards the end of framing day titles such as " Three Clouds" , "Three Clouds Passing", "Just Spring", "Adobe at Night" are as catch-y as I can come up with.
Sometimes I steal a phrase from a song I'm listening to. Apologies to those songwriters--but they really should be happy someone likes their tunes. And I'm not the only one to do it. When we were in San Miguel for a month this last October/November, we went into one gallery that I really liked. The painters there--don't recall their names but a father and son team--had used some Stones lyrics in their titles. I recognized the ploy right away and mentioned it to the dad. He was surprised at how quickly I clued in on that. I think it just must mean that the artist is prolific and doesn't agonize all day about naming.
(I definitely spent more time and effort naming my dog--first Sweet Nell--only she wasn't so sweet and pitched fits because she wasn't getting enough food. And then, for perpetuity, JuneBug. That one is a long story and I'll save it for another post--but it is a good name for a dog. Junie-B, JB, Bug, Junie, JuneBug are all pleasant derivations. (Trouble or Danger are good dog names, too.) Turns out we weren't feeding her enough--we thought she'd be a 60 pound lab and were feeding her for that eventual size. At 4 1/2 years she has grown to a large but not FAT 90 pounds. No wonder she was cranky. We call her a stretch lab. Although she has her papers, she's about 4 inches too long, a couple too high, with paws and ears that are way too big. Just perfect, although she does take up a lot of room on the bed. Back to painting titles. So, this year, I started a log with possible titles and can go through it when I'm titling. Sometimes titles just pop out as perfect--well, perfect in my book. Other times I still can't figure out what to call the piece. I imagine over the years that I have used the same title on different pieces. I only hope that the different pieces are different sizes and were done in different years. (I do date the back of each framed piece--by year--and I sign it.) I don't image it would help the Antiques Roadshow much since people do re-frame works and may not keep my backer board with the piece forever. But, if you have any ideas for titles, send 'em on!!!! PLEASE! If I haven't used the title (or can't remember using it), I'll apply it to an unframed piece or even make a piece to go with the title. And any photos of cool , old adobes or old barns--the more different shadows--the better!!!! Oh, yeah, it is my friend' Steve's birthday today. I didn't know it but another friend, Dan, clued me in--so Happy Birthday, Teve!!!!! Hope it is a great year!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Daylight Savings!

The pieces above actually have a lot more color in them than the picture suggests. I've used teal highlights in the blue barn and am really pleased with the color combination. And the front of the red barn really does look weathered. But, on another topic....

So, another portion of the year has passed, meaning SPRING is in the air. For most of you. Me, well, where I live we only have mud season and due to all the darn wind, that is fast disappearing--the mud, I mean, not the wind. That won't seem to go away. Even the site posts us as windy for the next several days. We opted for a nice long walk on the golf course today, seeing as how it wasn't going to be windy, and the gusts almost blew my baseball cap off. I'm soo looking forward to tomorrow's stroll--maybe we'll pick a tree-lined street to walk on instead.

Daylight savings caused us to lose an hour today and, for me, it is hard to make the adjustment. I'm guessing part of it is that I don't get up very early and so the difference in the light levels in the morning don't really matter. And, I do like the longer days in the evening but that comes anyway, whether we have this silly artificial change in times or not. I mean no one likes to have to adjust to time zone changes and this is just like that. Are we going through jet lag?

I changed almost all of the clocks before retiring at a reasonable hour last night and I think that helped. We watched "The Fastest Indian" with Anthony Hopkins and I really liked it. Watch it if you haven't. After that, though, straight to bed. Even so, I was all out of whack trying to get started out in the studio. I guess I still wanted to be in my jammies drinking another cup of coffee. And then, at the end of the day, the studio was still bright and I was tired. I really could have put in another hour.

But I didn't. I rationalized that with knowing that I really should get organized with show envelopes for all my upcoming shows--copies of acceptances, show hours, hotel reservations, any necessary sales permits, donation forms, etc. Instead, my computer is slow and it is taking a while to open picasa and photoshop for me to upload the one lame picture I have. (I actually like the pieces but the image is fuzzy and it is now officially too dark to reshoot this evening.) So, I probably won't finish that little task either. Manana, maybe, as they say here in New Mexico--it doesn't mean tomorrow--it only means not today.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Grouping of Red

Here is the photo of all the red pieces I've completed over the last couple of days. All churches. I think they look pretty cool together. But I sort of doubt anyone would buy them as a group....too pricey. Nevertheless, I've enjoyed having them out in the studio to look at.
These are 2 panels in the 12 by 12 size and I've already smooshed in the starry sky. The two buildings are both barns. I'll post the finished pieces sometime tomorrow, more than likely. And if I do a few more, maybe I can group these blues like I did the reds.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Turns out I'm on a red kick and didn't even realize it. It got too dark in the studio for me to photograph the 2 other pieces I finished today with red sky backgrounds. I'll get them for tomorrow's post. What I noticed was that the piece I finished yesterday, and the ones I did today--both churches--look really good together. If I could only hang my art booth that way it would look so cool. But I know the minute I get to a show that I'll hang it all higglety pigglety and try to cram a bunch of stuff on the panels.

Today's pieces were of the church in Corrales, which is very near Albuquerque and is probably the coolest part of that metro area and of El Carmen, which is a little village, sort of like the Vallecitos thing, where it probably isn't on a regular map. It is off of highway 518 towards Las Vegas, NM.

I also tried to do the coloring on one of the oils but I think it is going to need a few more layers of glazing before it is ready to show the public. I've got to admit, I'm a bit discouraged with the oil thing. I guess it just takes practice. But now with art shows looming, I'm thinking I better concentrate on the oil pastels instead. I do know them better. Will keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


The above panel (sized 30 by 30, and almost too big for my easel and lighting arrangement) is of the chapel in Vallecitos, a little village about 20 miles north of Ojo Caliente, NM. The town, Vallecitos, might or might not be on your map of New Mexico. The place exists--but if you are looking at a 1990 road atlas from Wal Mart, the town is probably missing.

I mean, after all, Angel Fire is listed as Cimarron, NM when you google map directions. It is something I don't quite understand. I mean my TomTom has our house, even. And then google map doesn't even acknowledge Highway 434--the main drag that goes through Angel Fire. I understand that they don't call it Mountain View Road--its new nickname, given to it by the village of Angel Fire a few years ago. I mean it is not that anyone calls it that--434 is much simpler. It is as though New Mexico is not really part of the United States and not worthy of up-dating.

In a way, that is encouraging. I don't really want it updated. I like it how it is. It is a place that has been left behind in certain ways and it is because of this (along with great weather, fantastic scenery, really cool old buildings), that New Mexico is my land of enchantment. ( I didn't coin that phrase--it is the official state motto.) Sometimes you really don't know what decade (or century, even) you are in.

Now I like my modern accoutrements like any reasonable person. Rees and I can't decide if it is indoor plumbing or electricity that is most exciting. Since I get really annoyed when our electricity goes out, I'm thinking electricity may be the winner by a slight margin.

But once you get past that sort of stuff, you can live without a cell phone and high speed internet. WHAT? You are joking, Jen, right? No, I am not. But I do have those things. Now. But I didn't for a long time. When all the metropolitan dwellers were getting all the free gazillion minutes a month on their cell phones we were paying $0.30 a minute to roam--both outgoing and incoming. Just think how much more annoying unsolicited sales calls were then. The advantage was that our phone was analog and worked in areas where digital didn't (near bluffs and mountains, etc). We've since upgraded our service and get a certain number of minutes a month--more than we can possibly use. But I won't go into details or our provider might cancel us. Suffice it to say we can't use it much while we are at home. Mostly on the road--in bigger cities, like Amarillo, Texas or Des Moines, IA. Oh, and Rees & I still share a phone. Since we can't use it much at home and we are together on the road it doesn't make much sense to pay for two. (I admit that for a while last year I thought that another would be a good idea but now I'm making mild attempts at economizing and no longer feel the need.)

And, as for high speed internet, we are coming up on our 2 year anniversary for having the service available. Now, that, I can't imagine living without, at least for very long. We also delved into the world of hdtv, where sports look fantastic and actors look fat and pimply, and we have tivo--probably the best tv related invention EVER! It makes interruptions of any sort totally
harmless. I mean, just remember when you watched one hour and 50 minutes of a 2 hour mystery and you got a phone call from someone you really did want to talk to. How annoying not to be able to fully pay attention to the resolution. So, I guess these things are all important. But hot showers and refridgerated food probably still wins out!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Back to Work

Okay, I've had my winter vacation and now it is back to work. It always takes me a day or so to get back in the painting groove. So, as usual, I procrastinated this morning. But I did get a few pieces done and I'm back in gear. The above piece is a bit different for me but I am pleased with it.
This is a piece I started when the nephews were in the studio with me. Needless to say, I didn't finish it then. And, fyi, the colorful squares on the left is a color correction piece. I use it to match and adjust colors to make them more accurately reflect the work when I post things for sale on my website. In Photoshop you can go to image adjust and pick out the white dropper and place it on the white square. Sometimes that is all the adjustment that is required and other times I need to do a bit more manipulating. And, mostly I like to leave alot of the manipulation of images to Rees. That way it is less time on the computer and more time in the studio for me. Which would be helpful if I actually always used that time wisely.....

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ski Vacation

Well, sorry for the delay in posting but I was just too darn busy! Marc & family had a successful trip to Angel Fire. There was a bit of chaos in the mix for the entire time they were here but I think everyone had fun. We skied a bunch and my legs and bones are still old and tired!!!

But I did remember how to ski and it did remind me that I do live in a ski resort and I get free ski-ing with my annual resort membership which is not an optional thing and so the ski-ing shouldn't be optional either. It is a fun thing to do and it is okay to play hooky once in a while and go out and do a bunch of runs. As a matter of fact, from the time I left the house on Friday to the time I was getting off the chair lift was a total of 20 minutes. Not bad! That is driving over to the parking lot, getting on the shuttle bus, getting on the chair lift and riding it for at least 9 minutes. So why have I not done any ski-ing? Because I am stupid, I guess. And now it is 55 degrees and the snow is melting and I probably have enough paintings for my upcoming shows. But I'm not sure I can commit to hoping for more snow as I am really, REALLY enjoying the sunshine and spring- like weather. But we'll need more precipitation pretty soon or we'll really be in for some sort of fire season. (PS The picture above is of Rory, my oldest nephew, and he did some nice art in my studio while he was visiting.)

Brady is nephew number 3 and is 3 and he likes to dance and do oil pastels at the same time.
Luke is nephew #2. He did a day and a night painting.
Here is part of the Cavan family--brother Marc, his wife Tricia and blue coat, Rory, and red coat, Luke. The ski-ing was awesome!

So, now that they have gone back to Chicago, I promise to get back in the swing! More soon.