Thursday, August 30, 2012

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

"Window on Pine Island" 16x20 wrap canvas; oil

 Years ago, a retirement adviser suggested I diversify my portfolio. “The secret to success,” he said, “is to avoid putting all your assets, all your eggs into one basket.”

He was right. It still didn’t stop me from losing money when the tech bubble burst; my mutual funds were heavily invested in technology. And it didn’t stop me from losing money when my AOL stock tanked. His advice did teach me a valuable lesson: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. They just might break and you'll lose everything!

That philosophy works for artists, too. We must diversify our portfolios and adapt to market changes. A recent visit to some art galleries and consignment stores underscored the need to stay abreast of the changing tastes of a younger upscale market; one that is being pinched by the current economic climate.

I saw smaller artworks, smaller canvases, and artwork being applied to craft items: Magnets, plates, glasses, boxes were plentiful; and more jewelry is being made. Tourists who must fly back home are looking for gift items that will tuck easily into a suitcase. 

"Hey, Coconut Mon" 18x24 mixed media on canvas

Artists must adapt and make these “bread and butter” items in order to bring needed cash into their resource bank. Recycled items were numerous: Palm fronds elaborately painted with shiny enamel to look like fish, jewelry made with seeds and natural items, Paper Mache sculpture, etc. 

Online, I saw an Indonesian artist creating wonderful artwork on Styrofoam cups, probably for lack of money or supplies. Extraordinary skill and talent cannot be kept down, even by money.

I force myself to paint “pretty little things” when what I’d really like to paint is serious, controversial paintings with possible political overtones; but who buys that? Still, if we paint what we love, eventually someone else will love it, too; or so I’ve been told.

I don’t know about you, but when I get discouraged, I’m less creative. When I try to “make myself” create, I come up against a wall. When I stay positive and stay busy, I’m more likely to come up with more ideas than I can use. Don’t give up. Adapt, change and find new avenues for your artwork and your creativity.

Featured Artist:
Dorina Costras from Bacau, Romania. Exquisite, original drawings and paintings may be found on Facebook or at the RedBubble link below.

PLUS Stan Propenko Part 3, Drawing of the Head, Sideview

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ever had a Broken Heart; is it Physical or Imaginary?

NEW PAINTING "Prayer Circles" acrylic 18x24 canvas

Down through the ages, writers and artists have tried to describe the pain one feels when a heart is broken by sadness, abuse, or neglect. A tale told in our community was “Cipher in the Snow.” A story about a young boy who had been kicked around from foster home to foster home, had trouble in school, and was labeled as a zero – a nothing by teachers and peers!

The child collapsed in the snow not having the strength to board a school bus. No causes could be found for his demise. The author of the story said the boy simply “died of a broken heart.” There are many people like that in our homes and communities. People who do not receive the love they so badly deserve and need. Our Nation, our world cries out for this kind of love, but it seems to be missing.

"India Rising--Prince of Thieves" mixed media on 16x20 canvas
Some people treat their dogs better than they do the people in their lives. Some people also mistreat their pets. The world is dying for lack of love. There is more selfishness and self-hatred than love; more violence and lashing out.

I saw a person I once loved for the first time after many, many years. Changes of age and personality made it almost impossible to recognize him. But when I saw his profile, I knew. This was the person I had loved, the person who could turn his back on me so easily; who ignored me and neglected even to kiss me goodnight or to say goodbye when he left in the morning; a non-communicative spouse who spoke only to criticize or berate.

When that moment of recognition came, I felt a stabbing pain in my upper heart followed by the swift squeezing of a fist in the lower chamber. What it was I did not know. A heart attack, I wondered? Immediately I felt like crying, and had to leave the people around me. All the pain and suffering of the years we had spent together and the trauma thereafter came back to me. Later I surmised that I had experienced a broken heart. I never realized it could be so physical, so painful!

"India Rising--the Found" mixed media on 18x24 canvas
I labeled my blog: “AnfinsenArt -- my Brush with God,” because God is love. I want my paintings and my artwork to reveal the love that God feels for all his people, even those who may not believe in Him or who act contrary to His will.

Some people may think I’m a kook! Well, let them. I prefer to see the good in all cultures, races, and people. I choose to elevate the people I paint and see them as God sees them. We are all imperfect. We all have faults. If we could unlock the good that is in most of us, we would find the secret to world peace and personal contentment.

"Fish Market" -- acrylic 18x24 canvas
Call me a cock-eyed optimist if you will; my paintings will continue to reflect this optimism, this love of God, this benevolent higher power that is full of compassion and grace. Would to God we had more of this love in our world!

Stan Prokopenko Part 2 of drawing the head

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Exciting Array of Paper, Tablets, and New Grounds

Over lunch, a friend was telling me about her son-in-law “who never worked.” She said this tongue-in-cheek, followed by “he’s an entrepreneur – an inventor; he created transfer paper for T-shirts and such.”

That got me thinking about all the innovative art papers, tablets and grounds available to artists today. I’m currently doing my own exploration and enjoying the possibilities. Recently, I tried some “waterslide decal paper for inkjet printers.” The decals can be applied to glass, china, pottery and wood.

I repainted an old candle base to match the color of a bathroom mirror. After sizing and printing out an original drawing on the decal paper, I allowed the inkjet image to dry overnight. I then soaked the decal paper in water to loosen the decal and placed it on the tray.

Over the next few hours, I continued to use my fingers and a brayer to push the bubbles out. When the image was dry, I used an acrylic medium gel to provide adhesion and a protective cover. I did this three times, allowing the medium to dry between applications. What a fun way to display art in a variety of ways.

Today my works-in-progress include the first under painting of my owl in acrylic. I’m also working on a flyer for a church organization for Christmas. The words will be overlaid digitally in the negative spaces.

Featured Artist:
Stan Prokopenko who has some amazing tutorials on YouTube. If you think you can’t do portraits; think again. Stan makes it look easy! You’ll be amazed with the results of your own first attempts. His simple, direct and graphic teaching video “How to draw the Head from any angle” will make drawing and painting portraits a snap! Stan has additional follow-up videos worthy of any formal class instruction.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In the beginning --my Father the Fisherman

"Raccoons at Sunrise", 16x20 acrylic canvas

Every now and then, I reprint this article so my new readers and followers may get to know me and better understand why nature is such an integral part of who I am.

I grew up in an emerald green valley ringed on all sides by a craggy strip of mountains known as the Wasatch front. These rugged giants, and the springs, lakes, and rivers that divide them, were the guardians of my youth. From my bedroom window, the mountains rose like giant hands in prayer; casting benevolent shadows on the surrounding neighborhoods and farms.

On clear summer days, the sky filled our valley with morning light long before the sun had reached its crest on the jagged peaks and thrown off its coverlet of shadow cast by aspen, Juniper, and sage. 

A neighbor’s rooster proclaimed the break of day, and sounds of engines starting and cattle lowing struck the chords and the notes that play out in my head even now.

"Americana" 16x20 acrylic on canvas

On the Western side of the valley, the distant mountains completed the circle framing a patchwork of fields and farms that spread out on the valley floor like a farm wife’s quilt. At day’s end, the sun, saving the best for last, celebrated its descent in triumphant tones of amber and rose before snuggling deep into mountain shadow.

On evenings such as this, time stood still as I watched my father practice the art of fly tying. Like a true artist, he adjusted clamp and vice to secure the hook while he twisted and wrapped the tiny feathers into place. Although each fly was unique, he duplicated one lusty specimen many times over for its ability to snag rainbow trout and German browns.

"Wasatch Mountains" 11x14 watercolor

 With the same skill he used to cast his fishing line in a timeless dance over canyon waters, he cast his children out to experience life. If we encountered rough waters or found ourselves in over our heads, he would reel us back in for further instruction.

Sometimes his reprimands were harsh. At those times, his words cut through our disobedience with the sharp edge of truth. Then he would cast us out again, giving us more line from time to time, until we got it right.

"Berry Picking Time" 16x20 acrylic 

 Because of my father’s skill as an angler, I grew up with a man-sized appetite for pan-fried trout. Father cleaned them. Mother cooked them -- dusted in flour and fried in butter, without the cholesterol guilt or fat gram shame. We dined on fish two or three times a week. The extra fish were frozen for winter meals and to keep my father’s dreams alive for the next fishing season.

Sometimes the family went with him on his fishing expeditions, wandering the byways and dirt roads of Southern Idaho, Wyoming, and Northern Utah in search of the best fishing holes. He waded up to his armpits in the rivers and dams along the Wasatch front; the winding Snake River, the wide Green River, and the brilliant blue Bear Lake.

When my father could no longer fish, he shared the woven intricacies of fly tying with his grandchildren, leaving them an inheritance that would continue on like an echo in the same canyons and mountain streams.

"Blending In" 16x20 acrylic canvas

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Birds of prey are beautiful, too

Have you ever noticed how tenacious birds of prey are in pursuit of their supper?

A red shouldered hawk frequents the southern oaks behind our villa. I observed him sitting on a nearby branch for at least 15 minutes. I assumed he was waiting for one of the unsuspecting squirrels that romped through the branches.

He sat frozen, except for his eyes that darted from limb to limb. While he waited, a flock of finches gathered; first one or two birds, and then a huge swarm. They chattered away, calling attention to their common enemy waiting beneath them.

Would they have the nerve to dive-bomb him or attack him, I wondered? The hawk didn’t wait to find out. Exasperated, he flew off to find a new perch. For awhile, the bold finches chased after him. If they couldn't beat him, they were going to give him a run for his money and tire him down.

An osprey chose his hunting site in a dead tree at the south end of our pond. I took a picture of him as he scanned the water searching for fish. When he spotted his prey, he lifted off with wide wings and literally performed what looked like water skiing as he skimmed the water's surface
His huge legs and clawed feet sent out a spray of water before he lifted upward, clutching a huge sunfish. I’m told that ospreys have valves in their nostrils which close on impact, preventing the water from getting inside. Their feathers also repel water from an oily substance that coats the plumage. He made a great catch, without having to dive in as many other birds do.

Because tree owls hunt mainly at night, it is rare to see them. Their keen hearing protects them as they sleep during the day, and helps them pinpoint their prey even in the dark of night.

On my daily walk, I saw a suspicious shape in a tree. I chalked it up to my vivid imagination, but instinct pulled me closer. When I was only a few feet away, the owl’s eyes flew open. His keen hearing alerted him to my presence. The owl blended into the bark so well that until I saw the yellow of his eyes, I was never really certain.

The owl was sitting on a limb that was much too close to the ground for his safety. He must have fallen asleep before sunrise and didn’t recognize the danger. His seeming negligence didn’t last. Before I could get a picture, he took off, flying swiftly but surely to safer climb.

Luckily, my daughter is a quicker photographer. She caught this photo of a Barred Owl outside on her deck. The glare of the window kept him from noticing the pair of eyes and the camera lurking inside. What a beauty! I couldn't resist painting him. Stay tuned for the preliminary drawing and finished painting.

Featured Artist:
Jovica Kostica is an artist from Belgrade, Serbia. His detailed and delicate drawings and paintings are filled with emotion.

A sample of his artwork is below. You may explore more of his paintings at:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We are Fighters, and the Battles we Fight are Real

"With These Hands -- Hope" 16x20 mixed media canvas

Every day we fight fatigue, interruptions, resistance, competition, and our own ineptness. If you think I’m joking, I’m not.

Sometimes we hit a stone wall so strong and so deep that we can’t get past it. We bang our heads on it for awhile and then give up. Maybe we try again tomorrow. If we keep batting our heads or our fists against an obstacle, maybe it will go away. Usually it doesn’t. If you’ve reached this point in your life, don’t give up just yet. There may be “light at the end of the tunnel.”

What are the possibilities?
  1. You could climb over the wall.  Earthly walls, like most obstacles are rarely sky high. Most of them are created in our own minds or by outside forces we feel we have no control over.
  2. You could go around the wall. It may cost you extra time, and perhaps more education, but your efforts will pay off if it helps you reach your goal.
  3. Knowing that the wall represents the circumstances of your life that prevent you from being productive means you must find a way to remove it, go around it, or look at it as another challenge that must be overcome.
The last thing you want to do is allow the wall to stop you from doing what you want to do in your heart of hearts.

"Broken" 11x14 mixed media canvas SOLD

I’m not usually a gambler, but there was one time in my life when I sat in Reno, Nevada, and poured nickels down the throat of a slot machine. I was determined I was going to win. I was afraid if I left someone else would take over my machine and reap what I’d delivered.
I went through $35 that evening with nothing to show for it. 

Some machines are rigged to pay up, and some are not. My inability to move, to get past that wall froze (brain freeze) my common sense. A move to another machine, a change in thinking or attitude could have helped me get past this slump.

I’m not telling this story to encourage others to gamble. I’m just saying that sometimes in life we hit obstacles. Instead of finding ways around them by weighing our options, and asking ourselves: “what’s the worst that can happen?” We let fear freeze us into a position of banging our heads against problems rather than trying to solve them.

"Leap of Faith" 16x20 mixed media canvas

If there’s a nagging problem or wall in your life, find another way around it or you’ll end up sitting in the same place stalled; frozen by inaction in much the same way as I was frozen into a losing position in Reno. Sometimes we just have to get off our “duffs” and move! We have to climb out of a rut, jump over a hurdle and move into the light of common sense and self-discovery.

Featured Artist
Today I’m featuring Krzysztof Tozowski from Warsaw, Poland. Her surreal paintings and photographs are humorous, colorful and lively. See Link for Krzysztof’s facebook page below.!/lozowskio

Sunday, August 5, 2012

When Paintings Sing and Images Dance

I finished my bird house painting, and decided to add a couple bluebirds for interest. The painting has an old-fashioned look, but the colors are bright and modern. This 16x20 acrylic was done on a panel which makes it less expensive to buy. Prints may be purchased online at:  The original may be purchased by contacting me.

Before I begin a painting, I see a finished product in my mind. I know how I want it to look, what colors I want to use, and almost everything about it. So why does it change as I go along? In the grip of creating and expressing, unexpected things happen. Happy coincidences occur with the swipe of a brush or an addition of color.

A dash of pink or coral in one place ends up in the wood on the bird house or branches making an ordinary painting sing! Subtle changes in form or line create unusual negative shape. Playful brush strokes end up giving a painting more fluidity, more energy. Each element becomes part of a whole that creates cohesiveness, consistency and energy.

 I’ve written about the “evolution” of a painting before; but each time it happens, I’m still amazed with the process.

I shared with you how the images I see on my bathroom floor in the wet or dry imprints left after a shower inspire ideas. Seeing a “Whirling Dervish,” I did some preliminary research and made my first sketch.

When I transferred the drawing to a larger canvas (18x24), I was struck by how symmetrical it was. I looked at some reference photos I’d found online, and made a second drawing over the first with charcoal. That way, if I changed my mind, I could easily wipe off the charcoal and go back to the first penciled sketch.

I like the second drawing better than the first. Although there are no scimitars, the irregular negative space is much more interesting. Variation in size and position of the prayer dancers, contribute more energy and smoother eye flow. The next time you see this canvas it will be as a finished painting.

Featured Artist
Paul Hilario’s name, style and life match his upbeat name and his paintings.

“My style is eclectic,” Paul says. “I mix and match impressionism with pop, low brow, fauvism, and cubism. You can see that sometimes my backgrounds are impressionist, my light and composition is cubist but my characters are always pop and cartoonish in nature. Most galleries will label my work as naive art."

Paul was featured in 1st Angel Arts Magazine. To read about Paul and see more of his paintings go to:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spring Green, Lime Green, and Fern Green are Hot Trends

In the 70s, I had a hallway that had light green walls, white baseboards and door, and a black table. Flipping through a current “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine, I discovered those same colors are a new trend teemed up with orange, hot pink or watermelon accessories.

Trends come and go; they also get revived and recycled. The problem is so does taste in fashion and art. Instead of buying art for aesthetic reasons or because of how it makes you feel, people buy art to decorate a room or to add a pop of color.

It has always been so. Our day and age is no different. At least there is a reviving interest in the arts, if only for its ability to shock or entertain. Street artists and their messages of activism and boldness are exposing more people to art and its impact on political action.

Chalk artists spend hours on three-dimensional art that is often a singular experience enjoyed by a few. Temporary by nature, better ways are being found to save and preserve these artistic expressions by housing them in covered walkways and on interior walls. 

Acrylic paints enable bigger and broader coverage that is changing the urban scene and filling its dark decaying walls with hope and color.

Artist Joe Bucci, who combines impressionist and expressionist styles was featured in a June “the Artist Magazine.” I was impressed with his colorful landscapes and his use of vibrant color.

Speaking about the changing art scene down through the centuries, Joe said: “one thing hasn’t changed: in order for a visual statement to become art, it must have an abstract quality. It’s not enough that a painting be a picture of something—it must communicate via composition, shape, color, rhythm, line, texture, mass and planes (visual or ‘plastic’ elements).

“The skill that causes an outstanding artist to rise above the pack is not the talent to draw or paint objects, but the ability to see relationships between those visual or "plastic" elements and their relationship to the artist's overall vision.”

How well an artist pulls this relationship off makes the difference between remarkable art that's remembered or so-so art that's soon forgotten.

Featured Artist
Deb Haugen – the “Organic Artist” has been featured in galleries and museums, and has won many prizes and awards. Deb is from Malibu, California. Here is a fantastic sample of one of her paintings. To see more of her work, go to Deb’s facebook page (see below):