Thursday, April 29, 2010

May Event

Here is a not-so-great photo of me in the Gateway Golf and Country Club. I will be displaying my artwork through the month of May. This weekend, May 1, is an open house and community event that should generate some traffic.

Normally, I set up an art display, such as the one our League did at the Ponce de'Leon Plaza in downtown Fort Myers. You hope and wait for people to come to you. In this event, we are taking our wares to the public: where they live, work and play. Each artist in our League is being given one month to display their wares. This event will give us exposure on a more personal level. These are the people we know in our own neighborhoods.

Our first artist to display in April is now negotiating on a large mural commission from this event. Leads, exposure, references; this is the lifeblood of the art community. Winning prizes and competitions is rewarding, but the bread and butter lies in commission work. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Odds and Ends

Strawberry season is over in Florida. The cold frost that hit at the peak of flowering turned out to be a good thing. A bumper crop was a result. Strawberries were as low as $1.50 for a large basket. We have had our fill of strawberries!

This past weekend, we dismantled our downtown art display. A three-month long event, that received plenty of exposure, but few sales. The general public doesn't seem to be in a buying mood these days. People love to look. They like to admire and dream. But with high unemployment and diminishing budgets, art is the first thing to go.

Still, I keep painting and hoping for a turn-around. Commission work is steady and this gives me the glimmer of hope I need to continue. It's in my blood. How do you stop doing what you love to do?

It's the same with writing. There are days when I have absolutely nothing to say. And then, I hear something that interests me or makes me angry, and I'm frothing at the brain; my fingers galloping across the keys to keep up with my thoughts.

Tomorrow I'll set up another art display with hope in my heart that it will lead to a sale or another commission. I may get some leads: someone tells someone else they're interested in a mural or a painting, and word gets back to me. Sometimes its talk and sometimes it leads to a project or sale.

I don't like to push. With something as personal and subjective as a painting, I prefer to let an idea or a prospect simmer for awhile. When the moment is right for both of us, I'll make it a joint decision, mutually beneficial to both the client and me.

If you haven't entered my "With These Hands" contest, the deadline is May 1st. Simply e-mail your entry as an attachment. I'm looking for photos of a child or children using their hands to learn, to play, to discover, etc. If your photo is chosen, a free print of the original painting, matted and ready for framing is yours. For further details go to the blog below titled: "Enter My Open Contest."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Jack's Roses," Completed!

"Jack's Roses," the painting I started on this blog, is finished! Since my last posting, I added some sprigs of fern and a red bud to complement the red rose in the center. I'm not 100% satisfied, but I definitely will paint more roses. The painting was challenging, but rewarding. What did I learn about painting roses? That to do a good job takes practice, practice, practice!


Gateway Artists held their first social get together on Tuesday evening. It gave all of us a chance to chat apart from painting, and to meet spouses and significant others. The company and the food was outstanding. The next day at our group's regular painting session, there was a new sense of mission and purpose. We have added new members, and the social event helped unify and bond our friendships.


The May Event at Gateway Golf and Country Club is on schedule. I had lamented that this opportunity came after "season" was over, but it turns out they are having an Open House on May 1st, so there may be more traffic, after all. I will display a few of my paintings through the entire month of May, plus a bio, business cards, and sample sheet of my portfolio .

Monday, April 19, 2010


Enter my contest. Submit your original photos of a child or children using their hands to learn, to play, to love, to discover, etc. If your photo is chosen for my series "With These Hands" you will win a FREE print, matted and ready for framing.

For additional prizes and rules, please see the blog below titled: "Enter My Open Contest." Your photo could be the winner. You could have a print of the original painting if your photo is selected.

Down on the Farm

I was born in a farming community, but I've lived in the city most of my life. I never had farm chores to do, but I grew up around those who did. I learned how to milk a cow, but I did it for fun not because I had to. I enjoyed feeding my aunt's goats, but I was on the other side of the fence. I simply pulled up hunks of long grass and fed it to them through the chicken wire. I loved listening to them crunch the sweet-smelling grass and feeling the vibration of their chewing on my fingertips.

My aunt taught me how to do many things on her small farm, including how to gather eggs. The chore frightened me, especially after receiving a few sound pecks on my arms and wrists from the hens for intruding on their nests.

When I visited my daughter in Seattle after she'd given birth to her second child, I was given the job of gathering eggs from the wild ducks which frequented the pond behind their house. A nesting hutch and been built for them, and my daughter and her husband gathered the eggs and sold them on the side. Many people prize duck eggs for their use in cooking. Apparently, their large yolks make cakes and other baked goods rise into fluffy deliciousness.

I disliked gathering duck eggs even more than hen's eggs. The job was noisier; wild ducks are a loud lot. The chore was slimier and dirtier. I wore a pair of oversized boots to protect my feet from slipping and slopping in the mud. I wore a pair of gloves to protect my hands as I gathered the doo-doo covered balls. The eggs were a bear to wash and clean. Gentle scrubbing was required to get them ready for selling. Why am I telling you this? Because Im planning to paint a rooster, and I don't want my negative experiences to effect the final product.

The rooster is the pet of a veterinarian, and a daughter of a friend of mine. He is saucy and brilliant and as proud as he can be. When I saw a photo of "Chicken Nugget," I knew I had to paint him. He's truly grand and in a class all by himself. "This ain't no ordinary rooster, folks!"

The only thing missing in my reference photos are the feet. Now if I can just find a good picture of a rooster's talons, I'm good to go!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Art as Therapy

My husband's neice is an Art Therapist at Belleview Hospital in New York. Troubled individuals in her care find release from their feelings in non-verbal ways. They use paints and brushes to express what words can never say. Art provides a voice for their pain and a tool for their healing.

Psychologists have used this same technique in helping abused children find a voice. Children don't always understand what is happening to them, nor do they have the words to express such trauma. But they are familiar with crayons and paper. As they illustrate a memory and make it real, they put to rest the frightening images and nightmares that wake them up at night.

Writing this blog made me think of Van Gogh, an artistic genius with a nervous temperament and a deeply emotional personality. His one desire was to make people happy by creating something of beauty. But he suffered from bouts of insecurity and self doubt. He also had what many believe to be epilepsy.

You may recall that when his friend and fellow artist Gauguin came to live with him, Van Gogh took a razor to him in an epileptic fit and ended up cutting off his own ear. After that incident, Van Gogh spent some time in an asylum and was later released. After only two months of freedom, he shot himself "for the good of all."

Van Gogh's greatest and most inspiring works were produced in less than three years of his life. He was driven by a passion for the beauty he saw all around him. The vibrant colors, the textures and the energy were excruciatingly moving to him.

I can relate to that. I remember admiring a resplendent sunset one evening. What I experienced was so deeply felt that I literally winced in pain. I could not find the words to express the beauty I saw. Those are the times I'm grateful I'm an artist.

A skilled artist can pull you into a work of art and their message reverberates within you even though you don't understand the why or the how. Art is good therapy for both the artist and the viewer.


The oil painting is called "Insett Kirke" an historical site in Norway. It is for sale on my web site at

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Standing Up Standing Out

Ever notice that the movie you wanted to rent or the book you wanted to check out at the library are always gone. Or that the Gilato flavor you waited in line for is sold out when it's your turn? Or that the shoes in your size are always in short supply, and the only flavor of hummus that you like at the grocery store is always the flavor that's the most popular.

The reason is that people are more alike than different. Human nature and the way we react to advertising and our environment is pretty predictable. But before you get all whiny about it, remember this: No one is exactly alike either.

Your fingerprints, your DNA, your eye patterns and color are unlike any other person on this earth. No one will ever feel, see, or experience life exactly like you. Those things alone make you pretty special!

Problem is there are so many people in this great big world of ours, that it's hard to stand out. Competition is higher than at any other time in history. You may want to be the greatest writer, artist, entrepreneur, or tech wiz in the world, but how are you going to shine?

When we're learning a new skill, most of us "ape" the professionals. We model the success of others and try to copy or mimic their skills. So how do we stand out or differentiate ourselves from the rest? How do we find our own voice? Our own look? Our own approach?

Find out what makes you tick! What is it that gives your life joy and enthusiasm? Remember that your unique experience and perspective are unlike any other person in the world. Find out what you're passionate about, and then run with it! Apply your skills to what you love and then hope for the best. And Good luck!

Don't forget to enter my "WITH THESE HANDS" contest featuring a child or children. See rules, deadlines, and prizes below.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Enter My Open Contest

You don't have to be an artist to enter. I am looking for a model (or models) for my next painting in the childhood series: "With These Hands." My first painting in the series is the little cowgirl I dubbed "Wonder." The child seems totally captured by the wildflowers she's just picked. I wanted to capture the amazement, wonder, and fascination on her face as she takes in their beauty.

Please submit your photo with a focus on the hands of a child or children, i.e. playing, surprise, making friends, a tea party, falling in love, a new brother or sister. The options are endless. The only rule is: Don't send me a copyrighted photo from someone else!

Contest Rules
Photo submitted must be your own original photo. To protect the innocent, I will change them enough that the identities of the children will be protected. You may e-mail your submission as an attachment to my e-mail at

Contest Deadline
May 1, 2010

First Prize
If your photo is chosen as the model for my painting, I will send you a FREE color print, matted and ready for framing of the finished painting, including FREE postage and shipping.

Honorable Mentions
I will feature the three runners up on my web site, and mail a free, color greeting card of the finished painting; postage paid.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me or comment on this blog. Thank you for participating in the contest!

May Event

I will be displaying a few of my paintings at the Gateway Golf and Country Club in May. The display is limited to two possibly three paintings, a biography, and a sample sheet of other paintings. The snowbirds will have flown the coop, but I'm still grateful for this opportunity to connect with friends and neighbors in Gateway.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Learning Curve

I'm changing gear on this blog. Don't want you to get bored with "Jack's Roses" before I'm finished. My worry about the red rose dominating the painting turned out to be a good thing. I'm putting a larger red rose smack dab in the middle. All of the other roses will lead to it in one way or another. See how practice makes perfect? I'm going to do some glazing which requires time and patience, so I will get back to you on the completion details (stay tuned).

There is definitely a curve in learning how to draw and paint well. Not only is practice involved, but learning from professionals who have been there--done that. I want to thank my first art teacher (I've forgotten her name). A professional art educator and artist in her own right. She taught classes in her basement each week, and I was an avid student.

She taught me how to see, especially how to focus on shape and form, and the tricky details of foreshortening. She taught me how to prep a canvas, and how to plan a composition and paint it in oils. Everything I learned from her became the basis from which I work even today.

I also learned through classes at junior and technical colleges. I discovered my favorite medium was brush and ink. I liked the stunning effect of black on white (or sepia). I won my first art contest with a linear drawing of a nude. I started the painting at the top of the figure and continued my stroke until the ink was dry. A first prize ribbon graced my efforts in the art show.

I learned how important live models are to the drawing experience. The freedom I felt in those classes gave me a new life and a purpose. Overwhelmed by personal problems in those days, I literally found an escape hatch. When I was painting and drawing, nothing else mattered. I was lost in a world of my own making. I felt in control of my circumstances and my art.

Sometimes I struggle with writer's or artist's block. I freeze up. I lose my self confidence. I become analytical and critical of both my skill and my execution. At those times, I try to get back to the freedom I felt as a student when it was all about discovery and learning. Then I didn't worry whether something was good or bad or whether it was the correct form or perspective. I just let my imagination fly and my spirits soar.

There is a learning curve in doing anything correctly, but there's also a choice. Plug along methodically and practice your art as a pianist does his scales by rote, or enjoy the ride: experiment, play, enjoy the freedom, savor the moment.

My oil on acrylic painting "Flash Dance" was an experimental painting. I let myself go. The colors are wild, the leaves and petals have a somewhat fanciful feel. I wanted the flowers to literally dance before your eyes. Did I succeed? You be the judge.
NOTE:  This is the third time I've deleted my page counter or flag counter since I started my blog. Quite by accident, I assure you. Now it looks as if I'm getting NO hits, when in fact I do get a steady stream of visitors each day. HELP ME OUT! Visit my page a few extra times and get my page back to where it was. THANKS FRIENDS!

Friday, April 2, 2010

"Jack's Roses," (Continued)

In our last session, I was so excited to start applying oil paint that I lost my focus. My disappointment over my first attempt was the result. I failed to see the "foreshortening" in some of the lower petals, and how this caused a change in value. I have corrected the problem, but I'm still not pleased with the results.

In this blog session, I'm painting the yellow roses. The acrylic undercoat is very dark, but the yellow roses are light. I want some of the undercoat to peek through. Perhaps I'll add a touch of red to warm the centers. The bright red rose is the oddball in the mix. I don't want the red to overpower my painting. I may add an additional red bud or two for balance or subdue the rose and make it a darker pink.
Notice that I'm playing everything "by ear," or should I say by "feel." I'll use my eyes and my gut to tell me what needs to be added (or taken away) and to tell me when I'm finished.

I'm learning that the success of my roses is in the brush work. My first attempts are clumsy. I don't want to overwork them, but I dislike my first layer of oil. I like the yellow rose on the left. It has a translucent, delicate look that I don't want to lose. I can see I'll have to paint many more roses before I'm satisfied with the results.

I filled in the leaves in this session. I will go back over the entire painting in more detail and with the highlights. I feel there is too much space in the middle, and I'm not sure how I'll resolve that issue. I want some of the leaves and petals to overlap one another, and will deal with this when the oil layer is dry.

Since I'm a novice at painting roses, your critique and suggestions are more than welcome. I apologize that my pictures are a little fuzzy. When I upload my final painting, I'll make sure that these imperfections are corrected. If there are questions--ask away! If there is a topic or a technique that you'd like to see discussed in this blog, please let me know.