Workshop in Porterville

Posted by on Feb 28, 2011 in drawing, Events, Lessons | No Comments

What a strikingly beautiful weekend! This type of day is why February is my favorite month. This is the depot where the workshop was held:

This is the mirror so I could show the massive crowds my work and they could watch me produce it. Nice idea, but there were about 9 folks who braved the storm Friday night, so I was able to pass around my examples and let each person examine them closely.

These are the folks who decided to return on Saturday for the hands-on workshop. There could have been a crowd of 30, so this small group was almost just like my regular drawing lessons. It was a real  treat to get to know each person a little bit and spend more time helping each one.

Baxter was my host on Friday night. Terrific dog!

Painting in the Studio

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in the business of art, Three Rivers | 2 Comments

It is cold out. Today I needed to do work in the studio and also paint (and run around, but that isn’t part of this story). My studio is a little office/gallery where I do paperwork, phone calls, packaging reproduction prints and cards, and, believe it or not, actually draw! When I began painting, it seemed prudent to keep that mess away from my drawings and paperwork. We have a workshop with lots of windows in the front half, and it is a fairly mess-proof place. That is not exactly right – it is full of messes, but it doesn’t matter. As I said, it is cold out, and it made sense to only heat one building. So, I did 5 miniature paintings because they seemed to be the least likely to create a mess.

These are 2×2″ – miniature, for sure! The purpose of these little poppies is to sell at Colors for the First Saturday of March. March 5, Three Rivers, to be specific. The theme is. . . POPPIES!  I know. duh.


Posted by on Feb 22, 2011 in Sources of inspiration, Three Rivers | No Comments

Sometimes I am just amazed (there’s an overused word!) at the places there are to discover here in Three Rivers. Today Michael and I parked at the uppermost marina on Kaweah Lake (or is it Lake Kaweah?) and went walking upstream. This is an area that only recently became part of the lake, due to the raising of the dam about 4 years ago. There were profuse yellow flowers, most likely mustard.

Looking downstream toward Slick Rock.


The elephant was visible. This might make a nice painting.

That is some tall mustard!

Looking upstream toward Blossom Peak and Crystal Hill might also make a nice painting.

This would make a nice painting. I might use this foreground and substitute Blossom or Alta in the background.

This is cool but makes me sad. Wouldn’t it just be the worst to lose your home? All the area where we were exploring used to have homes, and they got eminent domained for the raising of the dam. Sigh.

What is Geotourism?

Posted by on Feb 19, 2011 in the business of art, Three Rivers | No Comments

According the the web definition it is ” ‘best practice’ tourism that sustains or even enhances the geographical character of a place, such as its culture, environment, heritage and well being of the residents”. What does that have to do with cabinart? The National Geographic Society is making websites of maps for geotourism. Currently they are building the site for the Southern Sierra Nevada, and it includes Three Rivers. We who choose to participate are nominating ourselves to be on that map. This is a wonderful opportunity to market Three Rivers, to present our best self, and to show us to be irresistible to those who are planning to visit Sequoia. All the sites in Three Rivers are currently pending nominations, but they are visible if you go to the National Geotourism website. Click on the Main Map page, and when you mouse over the Three Rivers area, bubbles appear with a title, photo and description. (If it is too cluttery, use the sliding scale at the top to make it larger and more spread out.) I invite you to visit my site and if you like it, please give me a thumbs up. Thanks! Thanks a lot!

I thought it a fine example of my very regional oil paintings – showing off our river!

Three Kinds of Artists

Posted by on Feb 17, 2011 in drawing, the business of art | No Comments

Seventh in the series “Thoughtful Thursdays”

A simple way of categorizing artists is to divide the approaches to art into 3 varieties: those who make art for fun, those who make art as a secondary occupation, and those who earn a living from their art.

Those who make art for fun undoubtedly have it the easiest. Without thinking about what might sell or being bound to any one style, this type of artist is free to try any medium or technique. He can bounce from teacher to teacher, class to class, pottery to watercolor to drawing in any order. He can dabble at anything that strikes his fancy. Goals may be set, and even reached, but in the end, fun and self-expression seem to be the main purpose. Once I even had a drawing student tell me, “I don’t care much about art – I just want to meet women!”

Those who straddle the line between a day job and making art probably have it the hardest. To make quality art in enough quantity to sell takes an enormous amount of time, and it is very difficult to fit this into a week with a 40+ hour bite already missing.  There is a struggle while working a “real” job to focus on the task at hand while one’s mind is roaming the halls of Artland. I remember working in a dining hall at a camp and constantly being distracted by the deep golden brown color of a giant container of tea, or admiring the brilliant orange of grated carrots against the spring greens of lettuce. Needless to say, my co-workers thought I was a nut-job.

Engaging in art as one’s main paid occupation rather than as a pastime is a highly rewarding approach to art-making. It takes a strong commitment, an unwavering resolution to never give up. When sales drop, galleries and shops close, students get old and no new ones come, long-term art shows fold, there is much to do besides make art. If sales don’t happen, there is no income! Art is a luxury item, not a necessity, and in the current economic atmosphere this fact is more evident than usual. Tulare County has higher unemployment, poverty and welfare dependence than much of the country even in good times. Despite that, it is possible to earn a living as a professional artist here. In upcoming articles, I will explain some of the avenues I have followed to make that dream a reality.

Wave Action, 10×8″, graphite, $100


Posted by on Feb 16, 2011 in General | 3 Comments

Have a look at this painting:

Say what? Wasn’t this painting of the bridge much further along? Indeed it was.

It was sitting on a tabletop easel on that round white table, just as you see it in this photo. I put another painting on the folding easel (the one with aspen trees) and set it in front of the round table to begin painting. As I reached back to tighten the bolts to prevent it from falling backward, WHAM! it fell backward. The top of the easel ripped a long tear into the bridge painting on the easel behind it. Lots of thoughts went through my mind, sort of like they do when you see a Mustang headed directly for your driver’s side door at 60 mph and know you are toast. Here are some of the thoughts:

  1. Canvas can’t be repaired.
  2. That was the expensive thick 18×24 canvas.
  3. I love painting that bridge.
  4. This isn’t really happening.
  5. I should have seen that coming.
  6. Maybe I got that expensive canvas on sale.
  7. Good thing I like painting that bridge.
  8. Good thing it was only 1/2 finished and not 75% finished.

Perhaps all those thoughts weren’t there as the easel was collapsing, but they were there shortly afterward. The odd thing is that I didn’t swear or even feel upset. I just took the wire off the back, got another (thinner, less-expensive) 18×24 canvas unwrapped and applied the wire to the back. Then I started painting again.

After it began to soak in that I had just knocked my finish time for all these paintings back by a large amount of time, I retreated to the studio and took refuge in my pencils.

Broken Sleeper

My sleeper is broken. In the olden days of my life, 9 hours a night was a requirement. For the last several years, I feel lucky to get 8. What does one do in the middle of the night if sleep won’t happen? I think, I pray, I plan, and sometimes I just give up. Library books, knitting, and the internet are all good quiet occupations for those wee hours. Looking at the art of those I admire is one way I try to not just veg-out, because it is a given that I will be fairly useless during the day after one of those super-early mornings. I hope that by looking at the art of the Big Boys and Girls, something helpful will get absorbed into my memory. These are the artists I am currently watching:

June Carey – I saw a piece (reproduction) by her at The Wooden Indian in Visalia and never forgot her light, the lay of the land, the subjects, the realism combined with impressionism, the brilliance of her colors. She paints orchards, vineyards, hillsides, all with purple shadows on the roads, high contrast, fuzzy edges, perfect proportions, a building or two, Italy, Sonoma (or is it Napa?) and has typos all over her incomplete web pages. Who cares when her paintings just stop me in my tracks? Maybe I should sell my car and buy one. . .

Morgan Wiestling – “First Dance” was my first vision of this man’s mind-blowing fabulousness. It was at Masters of the American West in 2008, and it almost made me flip over the handlebars because I stopped so suddenly. My hand had to mechanically reach up to close my mouth, because my jaw truly fell open in awe. I don’t know where he gets his material – maybe he hires models and stages his scenes a la Norman Rockwell. Maybe he finds old photos and recreates the scenes in color. Maybe he is just a freakin’ genius! His edges are a little blurry, the light is subtle, the colors are muted and yet everything almost looks photographic in its proportional perfection. No maybe about it – he must be a genius!

There is something both encouraging and discouraging about viewing work of this caliber. The negative side of my brain says “Give up, you Poser because you are already 51 years old and aren’t even 1/100th of the way of getting to where these folks are and besides, you quit school and didn’t even go to a real art college”. The positive side of my brain says “WOW oh WOW, I’m just sure if I keep painting the subjects I love that one day my work will grab people as this work grabs me”.

Perhaps instead of producing 100 paintings per year at a very low price, I should paint just 10 and price them at $6,000-10,000 each. What do you think??

Get real, Toots.

Doesn’t this look like something June Carey might choose to paint? maybe if it had a house or a barn. . .

I Love February

Because there are flowers in the yard and the flowering quince is coming soon.

Because it is green around the studio.

Because the daylight lasts longer, the sky is blue, and the cats don’t beg to stay in the house during the day.

Because Kaweah is waiting for me to go paint.

And although she prefers my lap, she is content directly underfoot while I stand to paint!

Hope I never squash her sweet little self!

Demonstration and Workshop

Posted by on Feb 12, 2011 in drawing, Events | 2 Comments

On February 25 and 26, I will be giving a demonstration and workshop in Porterville for their very active art association. There is still space if you’d like to register. The cost is $30 for members of the P’ville Art Assn. and $35 for non-members. I may have mentioned a time or two that I love to draw, and pencil drawing will be the subject of the events.

Everyone likes a freebie – door prize, raffle prize, pick-a-prize, silent auction, live auction, buy-one-get-one-free. (I like free stuff too, particularly consumables, specifically dark chocolate.) This is what I am donating to the Porterville Art Association – not sure how they will turn it into a freebie. Guess we will all have to attend!

Flew The Coop

Posted by on Feb 11, 2011 in commissions | No Comments

MA’s little iron birds are back home with her, and now she has this little guy too! That was a fun one. 😎