Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Crazy Creat-er

Everyone who knows me knows I dive into my projects.  Head first sometimes.  And with purpose.  But, the resulting chaos occasionally becomes overwhelming.   I mean, even when I'm doing something simple like sewing up fleece painting socks...there are bobbins of thread, scraps of fabric, pins, scissors etc...just exploding into the work space.  I would love to be the quiet, organized creat-er, who puts things in their proper place as soon as I am finished with them.  But, that it not me.  And, I'm finally beginning to realize that it won't be me, prolly ever!  So, when the chaos gets to be too much--there is a threshold--I just need to step back and do a bit of I did with my pastel table yesterday.  Whether it results in better art creation or not, it doesn't really matter...Because creating is always more fun when you can find the right colors!!! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Day Scenes for the Children

 My work hangs in homes, in banks, in conference rooms and reception areas of corporations, law offices and the like.  And that is probably something I should add to my artist statement/resume the next time I update it. But, I'm even more thrilled about this: I just got confirmation that 3 of my oil pastels on panel have been selected to grace the walls of the new El Paso Children's Hospital/University Medical Center in El Paso.  I love the idea that some of my bright cheery whimsical landscapes are going to live in such a place!  Maybe they'll make a sick child or his family, or perhaps some hospital staff, smile.  The idea of that makes me smile.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What are you thankful for?

Thanksgiving is upon us.  Time to think about and to give thanks!
I'm thankful I get to do what I love to make a living. 
I'm thankful I have a patient husband who is supportive and willing to help with this crazy dream of mine.
I'm thankful for my wonderful dog and her acceptance of my crazy road schedule... and will be even more thankful when her legs have healed and she is back to her active self.
I'm thankful for my family, supporting me in my life, as an artist and in general.
I'm thankful for my local friends who put up with my long absences.
I'm thankful for my art show friends who live this life along with me.
I'm thankful for my online friends who encourage and comment.
I'm thankful for the shows that have me participate.
I'm (begrudgingly sometimes) thankful for the shows that don't so I have more to aspire to.
I'm thankful for the galleries that represent me.  I do appreciate your efforts (and your enthusiasm!)
I'm thankful for my clients and fans! I couldn't be doing this without you!
I'm thankful for my muse, who sits with me day after day in my studio, providing more ideas to pursue than I'll ever have time for.
I'm thankful for my love of what I do.
And I'm thankful to know this is a wonderful thing.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!! 

Something different: Mayonnaise

I had a request for a recipe from a facebook friend but wasn't sure if the actual recipe might be too long for a status report.  But, with Thanksgiving on the door step, I thought I ought to share my father-in-law's recipe.  Ruth and Bruce have been gone for a while but Ruth's wonderful family cookbook brings them both back to me every time I open it.  So, to share the mayonnaise recipe, in Ruth's words, (although Bruce was usually the maker of the wonderful sauce!):

1 large egg
2 TBS vinegar or lemon juice
1 heaping tsp mustard
1 cup vegetable oil
salt and paprika to taste

Put egg yolk and white (or can use 2 yolks and no white if you want a thicker product) in blender.
Add mustard (can use dry or any kind of prepared mustard but for this we both like plain old French's ballpark kind) and vinegar.
Pour in 1/4 cup of the oil--Wesson, corn, canola--a tastefree oil os best for everyday use.
Turn on blender and count to 16.  Turn off blender for a few seconds.
Turn blender back on and slowly add the rest fo the oil--in a thin stream until all the oil has been added.  Turn off blender.
Add salt and paprika and turn blender on until the seasonings are incorporated in the mayonnaise.
Store in the refrigerator.

I know the "count to 16 and turn off"  sounds silly but that is what works.  Otherwise the stuff doesn't thicken properly.

And, my personal note:  Rees is a whiz in the kitchen--me, not so much, but I can make the mayonnaise into the thick stuff and he can only make sauce.

Also, it is very safe stuff--I think I read an article about how it was fine to eat, even if it had been on the counter a while, by Shirley Corriher , the food science lady....and it refrigerates for a long while.  That is, if you have any left by then!!!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Excuses, excuses.

Last year at this time, I was busy in the studio playing with my oil paints and I had a blast.  My days were exhausting and I came in from the studio just beat.  But, we've had a few distractions since my last show and I haven't yet delved into all the things I have planned for winter.  The number one issue has been our wonderful pup, JuneBug.  We thought she was suffering from severe arthritis.  But, after trying all kinds of things, we were finally sent to a orthopedic vet in Albuquerque.  In fact, Dr. Schwarz was the same guy who fixed our last lab's elbow when she fell as a puppy.  So, after a visit from an old high school buddy, and then a week long visit from my folks,  we went back to our local vet to get the referral, waited a week for some blood work to come back, and then got to go see Dr. Schwarz.  Immediately, he knew what was wrong with Bug.  Yes, she had a bit of arthritis but she had also blown out both her achilles.  And, because we were so tardy in getting her correct diagnosis, it was too late to repair the damage.  Instead, the only thing to do was to fuse her hocks (ankles).  She got through the first 3 weeks after surgery beautifully and we hope that continues. We've moved everything we need to one floor, lay down carpets and rugs to cover all slippery surfaces,  and place her feet in plastic bags and "socks" each time we take her out.  She's doing better and she even spent a few minutes in the studio with me today.  I guess I miss having her in there sometimes.  We've got  at least 6-8 more weeks where her activity is extremely limited.   But we can do it!   So, while I haven't tackled any of my new idea tasks/projects, I am painting away.  And will try to sink back into blogging about art!    

Thanks for being patient with me!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Application Time Again

I'm back.  No excuses but a little too much travel. And, with 5 days in front of me before my first show application for the 2012 season, I'm again questioning my images for juries. Second guessing.  And third guessing.  Should I do the bright landscapes or the simple, starker pieces, or upclose depictions of my buildings.  I really don't know.   For those of you not in the art show world, most shows use a jury to select the actual artists who will display their work at a show.  They way the jury reviews the work is usually an online presentation of 3-5 images of actual work and usually an image that shows a typical booth set up. The amount of time they have to see the pieces is extremely limited. And sometimes I get accepted and sometimes I don't.  Which is a bit frustrating.  Sort of like applying for your job every day.  So, I'll ponder my current images, try to imagine painting some terrific pieces all in the space of a week (not!), and hem and haw until that first deadline.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sun Valley

We've been spending our extra time between the Park City show and the Sun Valley show in beautiful Sun Valley, ID.  This is my absolutely favorite place to do a show. A small show, of only 120 or so artists, it is located  currently at a park in Ketchum.  The venue is beautiful as is the entire area...great hiking trails, biking trails, gorgeous skies and superb rivers. (Too bad the fishing box was missing Rees' fishing boots!) It is a place I would definitely consider living (although the houses I want are just a tad out of my price range!!) and I am the first to say I would never leave New Mexico.  I might for this enchanted place. Then, to top it off, Sun Valley has been good to me over the years and I have gotten to know many of my customers....I think I know as many people here as I do in Angel Fire, or so it seems. We are staying at a great condo just blocks from the park.  So, today, after we take Bug to the pond, we set up for the show and then it is 3 really pleasant days of being a part of a top notch show.  I'll post some pics through out the weekend!  And then it is back to Angel Fire for some studio time!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Songs for You

Lyrics to first verse of Nick Drake's Hazey Jane:

Do you curse where you come from,
Do you swear in the night
Will it mean much to you
If I treat you right.
Do you like what you’re doing,
Would you do it some more
Or will you stop once and wonder
What you’re doing it for.

Hey slow jane, make sense
Slow, slow, jane, cross the fence.

I listen to Nick Drake a lot in the studio. A lot. I think he is fabulous. Hazey Jane came on today and the bolded lyrics are some I think about a lot.  About how lucky I am to love what I'm doing and how I'm gonna do it some more.  I know not everyone gets to do this.  Now, there are parts of what I do that aren't so hot--like setting up and tearing down for shows in bad weather.  But the painting itself is magical.  It is fun.  And then I sell it and get paid for doing it.     And I'm gonna have to do a lot of it because my sales at the Angel Fire show were fantastic and my Santa Fe gallery sold 5 paintings so far this week!  If only I could paint with my toes!

Have a listen: maybe you'll enjoy Nick, too.  Here's the link to youtube!
Nick Drake Hazey Jane

Monday, July 4, 2011

Color Choice

In much of my life, I am a planner.  I make  zillions of over-achieving to-do lists.  I like to know my hotel plans have been made for shows months in advance.  I like to know what my schedule is.  And, while getting on some waiting lists for shows--Belleville, Cherry Creek & Old Town--means I am almost there, it reeks havoc with this planning sensibility I have.  But when it comes to painting, I prefer to let the paintings make the decisions.  Too much preplanning equals static art.  I think. So, while the underlying substrate color dictates a few colors I will use, I prefer to work through the piece with no preconceived notions of what colors will be in use.  I think the art is better for that.  Do you?  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Did ya miss me?

All my good intentions just simply shot! I knew it would be harder to post blogs during my summer "touring" season.  But, really, it seems almost impossible.  To top it off, we've got this nasty little fire going here--the Los Conchas fire--the biggest in New Mexico history.  And, I am obsessed with it. Coming home from the Albuquerque show last Sunday night we saw the blaze when it was only 3500 acres (and it had only started that afternoon.)  It is now over 100,00 acres.  Our gorgeous blue skies are marred by ash and smoke.  Fire restrictions (thankfully) have closed the forests and cancelled fireworks.  On a positive note, we've had dribbles of rain--our monsoons are supposed to start soon.  I find myself checking both the and noaa weather sites twice a day at least.  I read my relative humidity readings from my weather station.  I listen to the news updates on the radio and even watch some local news.  It is simply driving me crazy.  I want rain so badly!  I've pulled out the rain stick and done some dances.  I've yelled at the sky.  But, what I've got to do is hope and be thankful for all the people who are so actively involved in fighting the fire.  Reports are good on the progress.  I'll just hope the positivity continues.  And then maybe I can move onto talking about creating art! That is, after all, what I do!    In the meantime, if you have it in your heart, send positive rain thoughts this way! Thank you.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My sweet ride

Rees and I spend a lot of time driving the country, to and from art shows.  We do, after all, have to bring the tent, the walls, the art we hang, the art we have for back up, a cooler for water, and suitcases for clothes.  But every once in a while I am thrilled I am driving in a big white panel van (a Sprinter) because it can hold lots of stuff--whether it is art or something else colorful, like these hanging plants for my deck!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reston, Virginia and Washington, DC

Last weekend I exhibited my oil pastels at the Northern Virginia Fine Art Festival in Reston, VA.  Originally we were going to combine it with another small Chicago suburb show but decided to eliminate a little of the chaos of our summer schedule by dropping that show.  Still, because our nation's capitol is a mere 1800 plus miles from Angel Fire, we tried something new.  Rees set out and drove and I flew.  I thought it would be a wonderful way to save time and provide me with some extra studio time and energy.  And, it sort of worked.  I'm getting pieces done, working on the commissions I have lined up, keeping up with the house.  But, the energy that went into flying, including a 150 plus mile drive to the airport, a night in an Albuquerque hotel, delayed planes in Denver on the way home....meaning I wasn't able to pick up JuneBug until this morning..all that was a little much.  Plus it definitely added onto the baseline expense of doing that show.  So, I don't think that is how I'll do it again.  And, because of  the distance, I don't think it is a show I should do every year.  Still my sales were pretty good and the show was easy to do--good parking, good crowds.

But, since I left my camera connection in Rees' computer bag, I don't have any images to upload.  So I'll go into further detail on the show in a later post.

I did get to visit with my friend, David Bos.  And he was kind enough to wander parts of DC so I could get a pretty good museum fix.  We went to the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Art, where I absolutely fell in love with a Vermeer in the Dutch and Flemish Cabinet Galleries. Which one?  I think the Lady with the Red Hat..although online it doesn't have the luminescence that the actual painitng had...  We also visited the Chester Dale Collection at the National Gallery and I was very impressed.  Oh, to have ample money to collect paintings the way he and his wife did!  We also saw the Peacock Room at the Freer..I loved the way the collection was displayed.

Washington is a great place for visiting museums.  They are free so you can come and go as you like...spend hours or just hurry through.  My only complaint was that I didn't allocate enough time to see more!  If you haven't been, GO!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Main Street Fort Worth

Me, cousin Jean, & Rees with his eyes closed

The fabulous Jim Brown and his work

Julie Jerman-Melka

Tanya & Jim

Jen & Tanya's booth

Jen, Tanya & Rex
Ft. Worth Main Street happened a while ago.  But, as I was going through my photos I found these.  It was a 4 day, long show.  But, my neighbors made that time go by fast!  I had other good neighbors besides the ones in the photos--I just didn't take pics of everyone!

The show was of really high quality.  And despite some very high wind one day, we actually had pretty good weather.  I was thankful for being under the big top.  The crowds were really strong--almost too big on the weekend.  My sales were strong and for once, I thought my booth looked pretty good.  It was nice to be back.  Thank you, Main Street!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Learn Something New

OMG! Two weeks since last posting.  Egads, I am bad.  This will be a short one.  But, I listened to a webinar put on by Xanadu gallery on photographing art work.  For the most part, I didn't learn a lot.  But, now that I have WIFI in my studio (Yippee!), I could listen to the webinar and frame at the same time.  Jason Horejs, the owner of Xanadu, has produced several very informative webinars: on gallery portfolio submissions (which I've never done but might have to one day, when I decide I can't keep up my frenetic travel pace), shipping art, etc.  This one was done with a panel of experts, along with Jason's own input.  And, while I knew most of what was covered, I learned this one little gem:

When you either have lost, or cannot find, or didn't take in the first place, a high quality photo of a piece of work that is framed behind glass, you can get a decent snapshot (certainly not for publication, etc) of the piece by simply situating the art in the sun, angled back only a few degrees, right at the shadow line from a building or some other straight structure.  I took some snaps of some pieces I had behind glass, sans good photographs to show people, and I think they turned out quite well.  The last 2 I had Rees' help and they worked best.  The first 2 worked ok.  But, it was difficult to practically lie on the ground (think hard core crunch) while balancing the painting between your feet, while keeping yourself and the camera still. I guess I should have had a picture of that, but then I would have just had Rees hold the painting. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Oklahoma Festival of the Arts

 Me & Maximo Cortino
 Me & Barry Bernstein
 Robin Thompson in her winter parka
My triangular booth

Well, Rees & I made it through the grueling ordeal that was the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts.  It was my first ever 6 day show.  We experienced all the vagaries of Oklahoma weather in springtime: heat and sun, vicious winds, cold & rain.  Stir those up and you have the art show.  It was really quite an event.  The town really comes out and supports the event.  The food court had the best selection of show food ever! My sales were good, especially on higher priced items. I think it is a place where sales and clients build over time.  I met some good people, saw some great art and am pleased we made it through with dollars in our pockets and enough energy to get us back to Dallas for the next one:  Cottonwood, this weekend.    Thanks for everything, Oklahoma City!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'm back, sort of.

Once upon a time, the artist wrote a blog.  Then she got into the frenzy of creating art for shows, traveling to shows, and doing shows.  And she forgot to post.  So, with a few more shows encroaching--Oklahoma City starting next Tuesday and then Cottonwood the following weekend, she'll try to post when she can.  The blog is not forgotten; I just haven't made it down that far on the to-do list.  Sorry.  And thanks in advance for your patience. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

artist statement

Jennifer Cavan
PO Box 388 Angel Fire, NM 87710
facebook page: Jennifer Cavan artist

For the last dozen years, I've created whimsical oil pastel drawings of the landscape. In addition to being represented by several select galleries, I have participated in numerous juried art shows throughout the country.

My travels across and through the American countryside inform and influence my art. The subject is about an appreciation of the simple--whether it be a grace of an old adobe building melting back into the earth, a grand old barn standing guard over her fields, or a winding road leading around a bend. My work is loosely based on photographs I have taken and memories I have brought back from my travels across the country and through my state of New Mexico. I have no interest in making an exact replica of a real location--rather I strive to capture the essence of those places. I hope to make the drawings into places people would like to visit.
I start with a colored background--typical colors include burgundy, red and indigo. I work on various surfaces. I am partial to Canson Mi Teintes pastel paper (the flat side), gessoed panels and fine tooth canvases. I color these substrates using a colored gesso--Matisse Derivan background colors.

Oil pastels are much like buttery crayons--and I use them that way. I generally start with a loose, light sketch to make sure I am happy with the composition (oil pastels are a little unforgiving). After I've blocked in most of the color (I work from top to bottom), I blend some of the colors using a clay shaping tool or a piece of wadded up shop cloth. I will also scratch out areas with various exacto knives to get sharper, cleaner lines. My favorite brands are Holbein, Sennelier and Caran d'ache.

Once a piece is finished, I use several layers of a spray fixative to set the oil pastel. If the piece is on paper, I frame behind glass with a 100% cotton rag mat. If the work is on canvas or panel, I generally use a few more layers of fixative so that the piece is no longer tacky to the touch. Then I add several layers of a brush on matte acrylic resin varnish.

Drawing vs. Painting

Mostly, I am a draw-er. A color-er. I use oil pastels like crayons--no brushes, no solvents. But, sometimes I draw on paper and sometimes I draw on gessoed panels. Rarely do I draw on canvas--too much give. Those drawings done on paper I frame behind glass with a mat. Those drawings I do on panel either remain unframed or receive a simple frame to finish them off. All of my pieces start with a colored background. And all are finished with spray fixative. The only difference between the panels and the paper is that I use a brush-on acrylic resin "varnish" to protect the works on panel. But, my works on panel look a bit like paintings. And, I am pleased that I have found a combination of fixatives and varnishes that protect my drawings yet allow them to be displayed without glass. But, with my oil pastels, I am in the drawing category. I draw. I do not paint with oil pastels.

And, sometimes this poses a problem at juried art shows. Sometimes my collectors can't find me because they are looking at the show brochure in the painting category. And sometimes the judges refuse to look at my work on panel (this happened recently)--only the works on paper. This I would not mind if the show prospectus stated that the "drawings" must be works on paper. Other times judges at the shows tell me they think I am in the wrong category. And, frankly, I don't know what to do. I draw.

I could add a tad of oil stick and graphite and apply in the mixed media category--but really they are still drawings. Or, I could continue to apply in the drawing category and continue to educate the judges and the collectors. Or, perhaps, over time, I'll do more real painting and just apply in that category. It is a bit arbitrary. Isn't it?

By the way, the top piece is an oil pastel. The bottom an oil. Both definitely my work.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Revisit the visit

Check out Jeb's (of junky trinkets fame) review of his studio visit here !

Jealously, I'll concede his photos of the visit are way better!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Limited Palettes

I'm having so much fun with the limited palette pieces! I sure wonder where they will lead!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Break Visitors!

My studio got a wonderful visit this week from Jeb & Meredith. I met Jeb through his blog: (which is actually what spurred me on to actually starting one, so thanks, Jeb.) and through some of my Dallas area shows. Through our conversations on our blogs, on facebook, and at the shows, I learned that he, too, has a penchant for color, a love for alt country (hate that description) and great dive food. I've tried some of his restaurant suggestions and I must say, he has great taste! I'd follow his food recommendations any day. And, while my art is a bit more New Mexico-centric where his has got a Texana bent, there is a definite sense of place in both. You should check it out. He's also got an etsy shop for his photographs (something that is also on my list to get started).

He and his family were up here in Angel Fire for a ski trip but they took a little time out to try out my studio. I had fun. I hope he and his daughter did! Maybe they'll come back next time!

Request for Donation

It is that time of year again. My mail box is full of requests from a variety of great non-profits (and some not so great) to give them art so they can sell them at auction to raise money. I expect the phone calls will start soon. Rarely do these auctions end up selling the art at full retail value. So, it ends up that benefactors of these non-profits get the art at a great deal. While I receive nothing but a thank you for my donation. Okay. Sometimes I get to attend the event. But a lot of times I'm asked to pay for the opportunity to sit and watch my piece be auctioned. But our tax laws are written so I do not get to deduct the price of my donation from my taxes--only the cost of goods in that piece, which, if I have done my accounting properly, has already been written off as a business expense. On the other hand, if a patron decides he/she no longer wishes to keep a piece of art, he/she can donate it to a non-profit and deduct the full retail amount. Not exactly fair.

I never minded art shows asking for donations. In fact, I've garnered clients from some of these auctions. Almost another marketing expense for exposure in a market. And I haven't totally decided what to do about these requests. I've had several customers acquire the auction piece and in those years have chosen not to purchase directly from me. So, I'm realizing that this "donation" is actually cutting into my sales. If it keeps me in good stead with the show, then maybe it is worth the price. Although maybe I should just offer them some money. "I don't make donations of my work to shows but I'd be happy to make a small monetary contribution"?

As for other causes, I've decided on a new approach. Should someone inquire about a donation I will politely tell them that I'd be happy to donate a piece if they will agree to purchase a piece of at least equal value. We'll see how that goes. I'll keep you posted. And, of course, I still reserve the right to say no outright to causes I don't care about or don't feel like supporting.

Oh, and Happy St. Patrick's day!!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Scottsdale Arts Festival

I'm back from the first show of the year. Scottsdale. It was a really nice show--it always is. Really high quality art and good crowds of locals, snow birds and vacationers! I was in my spot near the triangular sculpture--I had great neighbors, perfect weather and good sales. I got to see my cousin Linda and got to visit with "Burk", the retired Sears Executive VP who I wish had been my boss, back in the day. I've spent today packing up paintings and frames for shipping and sending images of other pieces via email. And unloaded the van. Went through my sales receipts so Rees could input them. Unpacked and started the laundry. Walked the dog. Stained the edges of one of my cradled panels for a customer. And, still, I haven't approached the easel. I've got a piece already started from before the show, my specially sized panels arrived for a commission I'm itching to get started, and I've got a list a mile long. But, isn't that always the case. Better than being bored. For sure.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Onward, to Scottsdale!

I haven't been posting lately. I like to be positive when I'm blogging or posting and just haven't felt that way. But, things are looking up--so I'm back. I've been fighting a lingering cold--but feel much more like myself and a lot less foggy than I have been. In addition to getting a painting done today, I rewrote my artist statement (about time, Miss Procrastinator), I finished --correction, we--finished loading the van so we are ready to leave early tomorrow. And, I am so ready! We haven't done a show since Thanksgiving and I am always feeling house bound by this time.

But, I had tempered my enthusiasm due to a jury summons that arrived last week--for both of us! The summons is/was for tomorrow. And, for those of you who read this and don't live here, jury duty is a convenient 74 miles away in Raton, our county seat. And, the summons was dated February 17 but not mailed until the 24th and we didn't get it until the 28th. We immediately wrote back (not allowed to call) explaining why we'd like to postpone service. But, of course, we heard nothing. But, luck was with us, as we called as required and we do not have to report tomorrow. YIPPEEEEEEE!!!!!! I had these visions of pleading with the Scottsdale show people (who are really great) to let Rees drive and set up while I did jury duty and then would fly to meet him. Even though the artist's presence is required at the show. I figure these would be extenuating circumstances. But, all my musings and checking on flights etc were not necessary! We have to call back again on March 28th. But, I don't have a show that things work themselves out.

And, so, while we've had winter weather advisories, a few inches of snow last night, the forecast for Scottsdale is mid 80s and sunny. Every day. Yes, I've got the spf45 already packed. I'm so excited for the show. It is a beautiful show, held on the very lush civic center grounds. There is a great variety of very high quality art. There is a great mix of locals and snow birders and it looks, from the booth map, that I am where I want to be and have some great neighbors. I've got lots of new work and am excited to see how it is received!!!! Wish me luck!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Departures from the norm?

All winter I planned on doing some experiments. And while I did do some successful oil paintings--one of the things I wanted to work on, I managed to leave my venetian plaster and headful of new ideas alone.

And, so, with less than a week before we leave for Scottsdale, I felt the urge to try some different things. Most probably it is a procrastination technique to avoid the framing part of my job!

I'm really pleased with the bright but simple color schemes of these pieces. In fact, most of these were so successful that I actually broke out the venetian plaster and prepped a few panels and canvases, thinking some more texture would be fun to play with. But, I know from working with the oil pastels on canvas that too much texture is not a great combination (at least for me) with the oil pastels. So, time to pull the oils out again. This time I worked with the simple color scheme on top of a burgundy gesso that was painted on top of a layer of venetian plaster. Very fun. I don't yet know if this piece is finished. I'll let you know after I look at it tomorrow. (And, I apologize for posting one of the pics twice. Blogger won't let me delete it....)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fan Mail: Be Careful What You Wish For

I've been working in oil pastels for over a decade. And, in that time I have traveled across the country to juried art shows. I've advertised in national magazines and have been featured in regional ones. I've been represented by top-notch galleries. I do get "fan" mail from clients. And those emails, notes, phone calls and fb posts, I truly enjoy.

But, I received these drawings a couple of days ago, along with the cryptic note:
To Whom it May Concern Enclosed are
4 Images of Drawings. Sincerly, Roger Seria
Seria is a Country in the Middle East
Also Known as Oil Country and like Your Pastel.
(He also enclosed an email and phone number.) Although the name and return address on the envelope were totally different.

And, this is not the first one I have received. Generally, though, there is no email included because email contact is generally not allowed in PRISONS! Yep. I get letters on a regular basis from prisoners--(or used to). Usually, they tell me they like to draw and request permission to copy a piece they have seen in Southwest Art Magazine. They then proceed to say they can only work with pencil --nothing else is allowed. Kinda hard to copy a colorful oil pastel in pencil, I would say. I also had someone send me a picture of the house he had built, inviting me to come live with him and paint in his beautiful neck of the woods. So, after I figured out where these people were finding me and my work, I stopped putting my PO address in my ads. That seems to have worked. But there must be some old Southwest Arts lying around out there. All I can say is I am glad that I don't publish my physical address! I can only imagine what truly famous people have to go through.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

All I do is Paint?

The van as it is positioned now and before loading!
Some of my long skinny panels with their first layers of fixative

Although I haven't been posting as often as I thought I would this winter, I still am working diligently. It is just that in addition to actually making art, working on experiments (which, aside from the oils, have not been attempted), taking inventory to new places for display and sale, there is still so much more to do.

When people ask me how long it takes to do a complete a piece, I really don't know how to answer. Do I mention the 4 to 8 hours it takes to complete the drawing part of some of smaller squares? Then, immediately they calculate that if I work an average 2000 hours a year I make "x" number of dollars. Or, do I mention that that is for completion of the art part of it. That those hours do not take into consideration the hours of record keeping, photographing and documenting (which I realize needs definite improvement and should be subject of another post), framing and packing. Then there are show applications, website updates (Rees does a lot of this but I still need to let him know which pieces to put up...), making sure all my forms are in order for upcoming shows, hotel reservations, actual travel to the shows, packing for the shows and unpacking--you get the drift.

For example, my first show of 2011 is in Scottsdale, put on by the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. It is a great show and a pleasure to do. I need a state permit and a city permit. And the first time I got the city permit I actually had to mail my original birth certificate to them to prove I had the right to do business in AZ. I wonder what my Israeli friend, Yoram Gal, does when he wants to do a show in Scottsdale. Or maybe he isn't allowed? Then the center asks for a donation, which I don't mind as their auction has definitely directed new customers to my booth. But, they also ask for digital images in very certain sizes for their website. So, I have to pick a piece for the donation--in advance, find or take an image of it, email the very specifically sized images to the show. Then I have to pull the piece so it is readily available at check-in, before I've unloaded the van. It is no wonder not everyone participates. Then we'll have to file tax returns in Scottsdale and AZ when we return--for the sales tax.

Before leaving, I'll have to decide which pieces to varnish and frame and then actually do this part. This part is actually fun this time of year because I have a lot of new work and definitely not enough room in the booth or the van for all of it. And, while this little glimpse of things to do beside make art is no where near complete, I'll also have to shovel out the van in order to move it closer to the studio for loading......or maybe the snow will melt by then. Ha! And that reminds me, we need to build out the inside of the van again. We dismantled that a while back so we could use the van to pick up a door....

Monday, February 14, 2011

First National Bank Featured Artist

This is the article that was published in the local Sangre de Christo chronicle. I couldn't access the article online but that is probably a good thing. I looked super dorky in the picture! So, FYI:

First National Bank Featured Artist: Jennifer Cavan, Painter.

Jennifer Cavan is the next artist to be featured at the First National Bank of New Mexico.

You may think you know Jennifer, and her work, but how she goes about creating those vivid Northern New Mexico images may surprise you.

Jennifer and husband Rees put down roots here in 1996. It wasn’t that hard to choose, after many visits with Rees’s family, the love affair with Angel Fire had already ignited.

Leaving the corporate world behind in Chicago, we wondered if Jennifer knew she was destined to become a much-loved artist. “Well, it was in my hopes, I think. I knew I wanted to do something creative.” (Jennifer Cavan) She first explored the creative in the more traditional craft of creating Retablos and Bultos (She called them Bultos because she stuffed them with sawdust, find carving not her bailiwick.) Not long after she began to show them at the Angel Fire ArtsFest.

Along the way she picked up a set of oil pastels and began to play In 1999, she included three of her now famous oil pastels, and sold them all at the Premier Reception of the 1999 ArtsFest. That was all the “sign” she needed. The rest is history. Fingers colored with pigment, “smooshed” oil pastel occasionally making its way the bottom of her shows and all over the studio floor!

Now a bit about her process. Did you know her painting surface is pre-colored, whether it is paper, panel or canvas. Panels and canvas are prepped with colored gesso. Many papers come pre-colored, though she’s been known to color a large sheet of watercolor paper, with watercolor.

Once on her easel, she roughs in a chalk sketch. Yes, chalk, and no that is not the same as oil pastel. Once that is in, she begins to block in large areas of color, generally working from the top down, or even just from the horizon down. Working that way helps to keep colors “clean” and reduces the risk of “mud” that can occur when complimentary colors (colors across from one another on the color wheel) get too acquainted.

Before going on she steps way back and takes a good long look. Any “mud” or other frustrating mistake is generally not fixable with oil pastel. “Oil pastel is rather unforgiving. If an area is too dark, it is tough to lift or lighten it.” (Jennifer) If that’s the case (We think this doesn’t happen very often anymore, thankfully) it’s toss it and start over. Ouch. If all looks good (great) the next step is to refine, clarifying buildings, roads, windows, trees etc. Technically speaking, oil pastel differs from its soft pastel counterpart radically. Soft pastel blends like a dream, oil pastel really doesn’t. Some blending can be executed by a skilled artist like Jennifer, but for the most part, colors sit next to or on top of, other colors, but not creating a third color. “Smooshing” the pigment together can have its risks, and namely that would be the “mud” we referred to earlier. If you’ve seen Jennifer’s work you know she doesn’t have a problem with that!

Here’s a newsflash….Jennifer is now playing with Oils, Oils not oil pastel. That means using brushes, which is quite a different experience if you’re accustomed to the straight application of color with your hands. There is another difference. Oil pastel is straight color, while oil paints require mixing of colors to make variations and even other colors. Jennifer commented, “It’s challenging to mix color on a palette and not really see what it will look like on the canvas.”

We don’t see that in the result. Her oils on canvas are as clean and crisp as the oil pastels, though seem to be a bit softer in their effect. Either way, Jennifer’s work is unmistakable….and growing in popularity across the country.

Jennifer’s work will hang in the lobby of the First National Bank of Angel Fire from February 1 through the month of April. Stop by and take a look. You can also find her work at Angel Fire ArtSpace Gallery in Angel Fire and at her home studio (plan ahead to catch her there!) Visit her website at for her show schedule.

The Featured Artist Program is a partnership of the First National Bank, the Moreno Valley Arts Council and the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle. If you are a visual artist and would like to be considered for this program, please contact the Moreno Valley Arts Council.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Representation at Leslie Flynt

I'm excited to announce that my oil pastels will be available the the Leslie Flynt Gallery in Santa Fe. I brought some pieces down this last week. I'm really excited about this development as I have been without representation in Santa Fe since Blaire Carnahan Fine Art closed several years ago. Don't get me wrong, I love doing art shows: meeting the people who like my work, finding out what they like about it, and selling it directly. But, as a New Mexico artist who paints a lot of New Mexico scenes, I think it is really good to have some representation in Santa Fe. Because, let's face it, Angel Fire is a good 2 hours from Santa Fe and not everyone wants to make that long drive to see me. Plus, I'm gone a lot. So, when Leslie called, I jumped at the chance.

Her store is full of vibrantly colored folk art, painted furniture, and textiles. I think my oil pastels are a great complement to her current product line. If you like color,you will like her place! Her store is located at 225 Canyon Road--at the lower end of Canyon, in the complex with the parking lot. It is actually the same building that Blaire Carnahan Fine Art occupied.

I know this is going to work out well. I'm really psyched about the arrangement! If you are in Santa Fe, please stop by and take a look!!!!

Oh, her website is