Monday, February 27, 2012

Artist Supporting Artist Inspires and Supports All

Vavrino Painting

In addition to marketing, an artist must take time away from painting not only to support other artists, but to stay in tune with current trends. Moral support is vital to all of us, and the inspiration we get from others may sometimes lift us from complacency and bad habits.

I had the opportunity to do both at the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers by attending an opening for my friend, Annie, in the Member’s Gallery; and by viewing the remarkable works of Michelle Sales featured in the main Gallery, and the works of deceased Vavrina in the Theater Lobby. Talk about color! Vavrina’s bold lines and color really got my blood moving.

Afterwards, mixed media artist Michelle Sales explained her unusual and gripping work by saying that it is about the accumulation and preservation of memories:

"These memories, represented by constructed and found materials, are stitched together to create two and three dimensional artwork. Each piece is built up with various layers denoting passage of time and erosion. My works are abstract journals in which memories are retained, protected and preserved. Through this process I document events, emotions, growth and decline. In like fashion, my memories mimic ancient civilizations, one built on top of another, century after century, new upon old, in an endless cycle.

“The color rust plays a significant part in much of my work; I find it to be a harbinger of transformation and change. Working with an earthy palette allows me to explore our connectedness to nature and the human condition. Living in a heavily forested area, I am drawn to and inspired by the massive tangle of trees, branches and shrubs. Hiking through these wooded areas, I often collect various natural and man-made objects such as tree bark, rocks, pebbles, seed pods, and rusted metal. These items are frequently combined with synthetic materials creating the highly textural surface inherent in much of my work.”  (Link)  Michelle Sales 

Annie St. Martin’s paintings often combine pallet knife with brushwork in oils and acrylics. Bold colors, both realistic and imaginative, and O’Keefe like flower paintings give Martin’s work a distinctive appeal. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To All the Friends I’ve Known and Loved

Finished painting: "Hey, Coconut Mon!" -- 18x24 mixed media on canvas

Do you believe that there is only one right relationship, one perfect painting, one right way to live your life, one opportunity that when lost is gone forever? If you do, you’d better change your perspective. If there’s one thing I've learned it is this:  life is a struggle, and it can be downright grungy and gritty in the trenches. But if you hold on to your faith and your identity, it will get better.

 Once there were people in my life who scolded and criticized every word, every action until I didn’t know what to do to please them or to make them happy. These were the spear throwers, the dagger stabbers, the poison arrows of envy, and hatred. It’s impossible to feel loved when you’re constantly under attack, when the eyes that look at you are filled with disgust, loathing, or anger and soon you begin to hate yourself.

I've also learned that love doesn’t always last even though you want it to. Why? Because there are no perfect people. But just as you can love another child, even though your “quiver” or your house may be full; you can always find room in your heart for another child or for someone else.

"Broken" -- 11x14 mixed media on panel SOLD

I’m grateful for the people who have come in and out of my life. Even though the relationships were not perfect or even healthy, I learned something treasured from each of them. I not only learned things I didn’t know about myself, I learned fresh ideas and discovered new things that made me who I am today. I’m thankful for each friend and for each person who has ever touched my life, even in a small way.

Barbara Streisand sang: “People, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” For the first time in my life, I know exactly what she means. We not only need each other and depend on each other, we add something unique and special to everyone we meet and they to us.

 I treasure the friend who taught me about fire stations, and fire engines, and instilled in me a love for antique cars. I will never see another auto show or ride in a classic car without thinking of him. I treasure the friends who loved me for who I am. With them, I didn’t have to be self conscious. I didn’t have to walk on eggs, or be afraid of offending them anymore than they could offend me. Acceptance not approval is what makes us truly happy.

"A Joyful Heart" -- 9x12 Pastel

To hear someone laugh at my fractured jokes, or tolerate my irritating habits and still love me is a blessing. Feeling that you’re attractive and beautiful even without makeup – now that’s something! It's not what’s said, it’s the smile on the face and the glow of love in the eyes. When you are loved you know it deep down inside. You can tell when someone is genuinely pleased with you or not.

The friends and lovers who take us back when we’re quick tempered or sad reminds us of our frail humanity. Friends keep us humble, and bring us joy. Today, I’m thankful for all the friends I have known, and for those who will yet come into my life.

"Tansy's Pride" -- 9x12 Pastel

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pacing Yourself for Success

Painting "An Open Book" -- 16x20 mixed media

Last night I was supposed to attend a demo by well-known artist Charles Miano at the Alliance for the Arts. But after a very hectic week, what with doctor appointments and other classes, I ended up with a migraine and nausea. Feeling wobbly, and fearful of driving with my meds, I copped out in favor of rest.

Our world contributes to stress and illness. We grapple with technology, social networking and traffic in order to compete and meet deadlines. Today, marketing takes more time than the actual doing or producing; but without product, we have no business.

We make choices about what to do, and decisions about what to ignore. Often times, it’s our families, our children and our spouses who get left behind. Sometimes our neglect spills over into other areas of our life, and we fail to feed and enrich our spiritual side. How do we get out of this rut, this viscious cycle that drops us to our knees and flattens us on the couch or bed?

Drawing -- "Broken Hearted" 11x14 pastel on paper

We must get our priorities in order. We must remember what’s important. Without health, we have no life. If we neglect family, divorce can face us down the road and our children may suffer. Without a spiritual foundation, we may as some professionals have done, take our own life or suffer mental breakdown.

We need to treat our body and our inner self with the same care and respect that we do our career and family. Here are my solutions to help alleviate stress:

• Trust in yourself and believe in yourself. You have honed your skills. You are a professional. Relax and know that you are capable of doing your work, and meeting your goals and deadllines. Don’t allow yourself to stress and worry about the outcome. Be positive!

• Trust in your muse, your God or higher power. He wants you to succeed. He wants your happiness. Inspiration will come because you have prepared your mind and heart to receive it. Trust that ideas will come to you. Exercise your belief and faith. Do your part by allowing this power into your heart. Clear your mind to receive what is yours.

• Focus on your higher priorities and trust in God to take care of the rest. Don’t allow nagging thoughts of “should dos” to interfere with your calm determination. Press forward with the duties at hand. Deal with “one crisis at a time.” That’s all any of us can handle, after all.

Pastel drawing -- 11x14 "Serena Shines"

When the time comes for you to pour out your soul on paper, canvas, or product, go with the energy flow. Don’t worry! Inspiration will come because you have trusted, waited, and fulfilled your higher priorities. You are ready to receive what you were meant to receive. Your heart will soar, your fingers will move, and you will know that your muse, your God is alive and well.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I’m all Aglow About Golden Paints

Today I attended a two hour demo for Golden Paints given by professional artist, Kevin D. Tobin. I was surprised, amazed, and inspired! I had no idea Golden had so many products, uses and especially such great quality.

I don’t know why, but I assumed Golden was more of a “craft” paint. I’d used the Gels and molding pastes for mixed media work and collage, but I’d never really used Golden paints to paint.

I want to share these incredible products with you. If you get the chance to attend a Golden demo or workshop, I highly recommend it. Besides, we each took away a small packet of product and a binder stuffed with ideas and information.

Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite products:

Absorbent Ground” – this medium can be painted on any surface, including walls, tables, wood, metal, etc. If a wall is painted with Absorbent Ground, and then covered with a mural, mistakes can easily be taken out by sanding. The space sanded can be repainted with Absorbent Ground and painted over correcting any glaring errors.

Clear Tar Gel” – can be painted on a surface and then peeled off when it’s dry. The peeled off strips of color may be basket woven and glued back on a stratum and resealed with another coat of Clear Tar Gel. A fantastic three dimentional look.

Soft Gel Gloss” – Gel “skins” can be made by a) printing off an image of choice, b) coating the surface with Soft Gel Gloss, c) when dry using a damp cloth to wipe the paper away. Like magic, you have a transparent print. Duplicate this process, and you have several clear prints. Mix a little “transparent” paint with the gloss and you get a clear, colored print. Sensational!

Golden Open” – a medium to keep acrylics moist longer. Since it is made with a “clear” polymer, you may increase your paint without reducing intensity of color. This mixed color may be stored in a tight container for several days or weeks. Tobin opened one that had been stored for several months. The paint was still soft, and this is acrylic! The secret, of course: “Golden Open” mixed with the paint from up to 30% to 70% of the “Open.”

Molding Paste” – May be coated on a gessoed canvas for a thin painting surface. When acrylic paints are placed over the surface, a moderate sheen penetrates or produces a glow from beneath the paint. A beautiful affect.

Tobin Tip: “How can you tell an opaque from a transparent? Cadmiums are almost always opaque,” said Tobin, “If you can’t pronounce its name, the paint is usually transparent, i.e. Quinacridone red, Dioxazine purple, etc.

My favorite medium from the Demo:

Digital Ground” – The most incredible product that makes it possible to create unusual prints using your own computer and printer. By coating rice or other paper, linens, even cheesecloth with Digital Ground and allowing it to dry, you can print out a drawing, a finished painting, a portrait using the previously prepared “grounding” material.

We saw samples of beautiful artwork printed out on this material that was clear and sharp. Next to it were the results without using Digital Ground. It was simply amazing. I think this will become my most favorite product.

With Golden you may add a crackle surface to your canvas before painting, or add other surface mediums for more texture and style. The variety of products available is almost equal to the artist’s imagination. Tell Golden what you want to do or what you hope to accomplish, and they’ll create a product for you.

All of their products are environmentally safe. I’m unable to share all of what I took away, but I’m so glad I took advantage of this “free” opportunity!b>

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Confucius Say: “Be not Simply Good; be Good for Something.”

11x14 mixed media -- "Lucky Lady"

The title of this blog came out of a fortune cookie from P.F.Chang Restaurant. I liked my fortune so much I kept it in my billfold. I found it today, and thought of all the other Confucius sayings that have affected my life.

I was one of a million contestants that used to enter jingle contests when they were still in vogue. I actually belonged to a “Contest Club” that encouraged and helped aspiring writers compose winning entries. The Club held their own contests as well. In one, entrants were to caption a cartoon of an old man and an old woman dancing. My winning entry was: “Confucius say much motion in old rumbleseat make vely big back fire!”

I won a Jello contest with 25 words or less. The punchline was: …Jello makes me the “wizard of aaahs.” Minor prizes kept me going. I won blenders, carving knife sets, toasters, and other paraphernalia. The friend who invited me to join their club won a race horse. She soon discovered just how much a race horse costs to feed, to house and to train. Which “just shows to go ya:” be careful what you wish for!

Oil Painting -- "Leap of Faith"

Of course she sold that filly for a sizable profit which made entering the contest worthwhile. Gone are the days of winning because of skill to turn a phrase or coin a name. Today people are awarded for how many entries they can enter. Entries equal profits for a manufacturer or retailer. The more you buy, the better your chances to win, even though the rules say otherwise.

I discovered this with a Publisher Clearing House contest. They made me feel I was getting closer and closer until by mistake they sent me two entries, one with a misspelling of my name. They both said the same thing and they pressured me to buy. Even when I called in, they were more interested in selling me product than answering my questions.

Reminds me of a Reader’s Digest contest years ago. A contest that was exposed for their deception in leading entrants into believing they were final winners. I discovered this sham when my mother told me she thought she was one of their winners. As it turned out, so did I. Gullible, gullible, gullible are “we the people.”

Today we’re in another election cycle, and by what I hear and read, people are still as gullible as ever. Will the best person win? I doubt it! Unfortunately the prize often goes to the one who has the most money to spend (buys the most product), or offers a prize for support (bribery?). It sounds like the old contest shell game at work, to me. Either way we take our chances and go with our gut feeling.

"11x14 mixed media -- "Broken"

It’s what I do as an artist. I sold my painting: “Broken” because I was willing to give my friend a break if she purchased the painting same day. The painting was worth more, but so was my customer. Confucius say: satisfied customers walk away happy; buy again in future."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Oh, the Artist’s Life is the Life for me!


I’ve been a Popeye fan since childhood. My father, an avid comic book reader, mimicked the “old salt” whenever he could. My mother reminded me to eat my spinich so I’d be strong like Popeye; however, I preferred Olive Oyl’s lanky svelte figure.

Popeye’s favorite song charmed me: “Oh, the sailor’s life is the life for me,” tooted on his pipe which was loaded with spinich. I loved that song and the crazy cartoon characters like Wimpy, Brutus, and Sweet Pea that cavorted over the comic book pages or on the big screen. I started collecting Walter Lanz memorabilia in adulthood.

Why am I going down memory lane as I drive to downtown Fort Myers on an artist’s errand? I found myself singing one of those old dittys, and then replaced the words with: “Oh, an Artist’s Life is the Life for me!” (We artists are a little weird!)

I wasn’t alone, either. Friends from the Pan American Alliance were looking for space where we may exhibit, and we made the rounds of potential locations. We are already “joined at the hip” with the Art Council of Southwest Florida that includes such entities as the Alliance of the Arts, Art League of Fort Myers, and the Naples Art Assoc., but we were looking for space to highlight our group and Pan American artists.

Work-in-progress -- "Hey, Coconut Mon"

This morning we were painting publicly at the Regional County Library to expose the arts to the community, recruit new members, and provide cultural inspiration for the people. Over the next few months, we will be busy with art shows, juried shows, and workshops. I’ll give you the details as they occur.

Today I’m sharing some of my works in progress and a completed painting. Sometimes it seems I take one step forward and two steps back. But progress is being made. Next week I’m participating in a demo sponsored by Golden Paints and all Pan American members will receive a free packet from Golden. These little perks keep me whistling, humming, and singing: “Yes, the Artist’s Life is the Life for me!”

work in progress -- 1st oil application

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Redwing Sighting

The air smelled heavy and earthy. The sun melted the last wisps of morning fog and warmed my back as I stood in the wet grass. A few yards away, a pair of male redwing blackbirds sparred in the underbrush, rising and falling like miniature conquistadors sporting shiny black satin and flashy red epaulets.

They lunged at each other, lifting exultant wings; their talons poised and threatening. Between lusty bouts, they perched on low-lying branches until the urge returned and they faced off again with aggressive thrusts and retreating pirouettes.

From the corner of my eye, a brown streaked bird with a long broad tail flapped into view. Was this plain, undistinguishable female the reason for this extravagant display of testosterone? She hovered over them casting her spell, flapping her wings like a butterfly on steroids.

First she tried to distract them by darting from side to side. Then she swooped near, pretending to protest their dual of love. When this didn’t work, she trailed after them as they whirled from bush to bush; a visual reminder of her stake in the outcome.

I left before their contest was over. I never witnessed the losing male’s defeat or the triumphant coming together of the welded pair. What I took away was an impression that later became a painting and brought back memories of Minnesota my second home.

The redwing blackbird is a year-round resident of both Florida and Minnesota. Their red shoulders and ebony black feathers make a striking contrast against the rolling sunflower fields of the upper Midwest where they flock in great numbers. The male exposes red epaulets during the mating season and can become quite aggressive, even attacking passing hawks, crows or people who invade their territory.

Redwing, Minnesota’s sandstone cliffs are a favorite gathering place for many of these migrating birds, attracting hundreds of tourists each summer to this normally quiet city. In October, the changing leaves along the Mississippi river and the quaint antique shops lure additional visitors to Redwing, one of my favorite cities.

In my acrylic painting, the wings and feathers of the redwing replicate the petals of the sunflowers and inspired my title: “Blending in.”For this and other bird art go to my online gallery @

moments of libra: Dormant

moments of libra: Dormant