Sneak Peak

Posted by on Aug 31, 2011 in drawing, General | 4 Comments

I’ve dropped a hint or two about a lot of drawings coming up soon. Here is another little preview, but I’m not ready to disclose any details yet. This is for 2 reasons: 1. The details are a little squishy and 2. If I think about it too much, I will have to go lie down from overwhelmment. Nice word, don’t you think?

A California Artist Explores Tulare County

There are 4863 square miles in Tulare County. Really! I read it on the internet, so it must be correct, right? Although a great deal of it is un-roaded mountains, there are many roads to explore. And, there are roads to re-explore, because I forget stuff.

This summer I’ve made 4 trips to Kings Canyon National Park. Although it is in Fresno County, the bulk of the travel happens in Tulare County. Each time I have taken a different route, sometimes by choice and sometimes by accident. I wasn’t lost, because I still had my sense of direction and a working steering wheel.

On my most recent trip, I tried 245 out of Woodlake. There are a number of roads that resemble one another along the foothills. They have enough variety to make it worth the effort to change my routes. Besides, I like knowing how they connect. The traffic is usually light, and mostly I see pick-ups or out of state license plates. This is because the roads look reasonable on a map, rather than the remote serpentine almost-endless routes that they really are.

As I drove, I wondered why I couldn’t remember one road from another and why they get so intermingled in my head. In addition, I had lots of other thoughts:

1. There is the road where Bob used to live. I wonder where the sycamore that he drew is. . .

Roble Lomas, oil on wrapped canvas, 14×11″, $175

2. OH! There is that stone gate and barn I painted from a 20 year old snapshot! Shoot, wish the light was better so I could photograph it again. Either they built some new structures, or I did some serious editing!

3. Hey! There is the 2-1/2 acres of avocados that Dad used to farm. Now it has a crummy looking mobile home sitting in the middle of the property.

4. That must be Baldy. Michael and I skied there. It’s not the one that slides in the winter – that is Little Baldy.

5. When did the Badger Store close? I remember getting mail there for Hartland Camp, misidentified on the map as “Hartman”. Don’t these folks actually travel to the places they are mapping?

6. THERE’s the Badger school I remember!  I’ve passed Sierra School on my last several trips. How can an area this rural support 2 elementary schools??

7. AHA! Hogback Road. I knew if I just kept trying different routes, I’d be able to find it from the lower end.

I love Tulare County, and I love exploring! Do you explore areas around your home? Do you look for differing rural routes? Do you have any recommendations? Please share!

Let Us Spray

Posted by on Aug 29, 2011 in commissions, drawing, the business of art | 2 Comments

This is what drawing student Gerald said to me when he finished his drawing. “Spray?”, you are asking, even as you read this. (Yes, I can hear you.)

Spray fixative is one method of preventing the finished drawing from smearing. Framing is another; workable fixative is a third. I’ve been told it adds “tooth” (that means texture in Artspeak) to the paper. It didn’t, but that’s another story for another time.

Early in my art career, drawing people’s cabins and houses was my main activity. One time, I finished a commissioned drawing of a lovely old home, grabbed my trusty can of spray fixative left over from some college art class and proceeded to ruin the drawing. It left little waxy spots all over the paper. They scratched off with my fingernail, and I learned a Big Fat Lesson: do a test spray on something else first.

Because of that unfortunate incident, I went off spray. Completely, cold turkey, no tapering down, no patch, just Q U I T. Go ahead and call me a quitter – I can take it. (I’m a loser too, in the true sense of the word. But I digress.)

A few years later I met a pencil artist who charged huge amounts of money for her drawings, used a wide range of pencils, and sprayed with Blair No Odor Fixative. I began using a wider range of pencils (see The Rules for further explanation) and the fixative. My prices stayed the same.

“No odor” was a lie – it stunk. I think the manufacturer meant “this smells like you can get high but don’t waste your time”, but “no odor” took up less space on the label. After several years of learning to depend on this marvelous stuff that prevented my drawings from smearing despite pulling them in and out of various envelopes, folders and picture frames, the magic spray was discontinued.

I hoarded 6 cans, and today I used the last spray from my last can.

There are other brands, other types, maybe even a Blair substitute. Ick, shopping. Add it to The List. Meanwhile, I’ll just be careful with my drawings as I complete them. There will be many. I’m not ready to tell you why just yet.

Let us spray.

Blog tutorial

Lemons VII, oil on wrapped canvas, 8×10

If you are on my email list, about every week or 2 you receive an email from me. It mostly says hello and this is what is in my blog and here is the link. People ask me about these emails when they haven’t heard for awhile. Some people don’t read my blog unless I resend the link. People also ask questions about how to access certain posts or if I have ever written about a subject.

  1. If you would like to be on my personal notification list, you can email and ask, or you can use the Artist button at the top of the page and click  “Contact The Artist” . I might be able to figure out myself how to add one directly to my blog, but I’d rather be writing or painting or drawing or anything else!
  2. If you would like to receive automatic notification each time I post, look to the left of this entry. Scroll down if necessary. See the thing that says FEED ON? (No clue what that means but it doesn’t mean lunch is coming, sorry.) Underneath, see Posts RSS? click on that. It gives you a place to enter your eddress (isn’t that a clever word?); then, each time I post, you get an email from WordPress with a clickable link to my blog.
  3. If you would like to learn about a particular subject, you can scroll down to Categories and click on whatever subject piques your interest.
  4. If you missed an entire month and would like to catch up, you can scroll down to Monthly and click on the month you’d like to read.
  5. If you are looking to read other blogs but don’t know where to begin, scroll down to Blogs I Follow and click on any of them. Each of those blogs may have its own “blog roll” with clickable links to other blogs. This is a great way to find interesting reading material and learn of new subjects. I find other blogs to be great sources of information and inspiration. For example, I recently read a blog about blogs. It said lemons are cheerful and welcoming. Really? Do you feel cheered and welcomed? I hope so!


Class dismissed.

Don’t You Get Bored Working Alone At Home?

Posted by on Aug 25, 2011 in the business of art | 2 Comments

Grapes V, 6×6, oil on wrapped canvas, sold

Nope. Look at the things I could/can/should/am/will do:

  1. draw
  2. paint
  3. blog
  4. update website
  5. photograph work
  6. sort through photos and refile those used/stacked/piled/contemplated
  7. plan for upcoming shows
  8. package notecards and reproduction prints
  9. sweep the dead scorpions and spider webs from the studio
  10. write another bio for the upcoming studio tour
  11. decide what to paint next
  12. update inventory lists
  13. look at artists’ websites
  14. read artist blogs
  15. read art marketing blogs
  16. visit a gallery or museum
  17. follow up on inquiries about commission work/lessons/paintings for sale

This list didn’t include rehanging my work in the studio, wrapping and shipping work to shows and customers, going to the Post Office, paying bills, updating accounting, balancing the checkbook, or weeding and pruning outside the studio.

Are you tired yet?

‘Scuse me, I need to go lie down.

Teaching without a degree

Posted by on Aug 24, 2011 in drawing, Lessons | No Comments

Honeymoon Cabin, pencil, 11×14, unframed, $300

A few years ago I took 1/2 a semester of oil painting at a local junior college. I learned more about painting from only the primary colors, and I learned about layering (called “glazing” in Artspeak). I learned that I need more light to see than a 19 year old, that just because a class is labeled something (“Photorealism”) doesn’t mean it is that class (it was Studio painting), that I have very little tolerance for rap “music” (rhythmic and profane chanting would be a more accurate term for it), and that the teacher was still trying to “stick it to The Man”. Hunh? He also had very little tolerance for my ilk – a wannabe without a Master’s of Fine Arts posing as an artist and an art teacher.

That’s me – a poser of the first degree!  Gotta have a degree in something to teach, I suppose.

So, Mr. Stick-It-To-The-Man, why are you bitterly and loudly complaining about working at a junior college while I am making and selling art? Hmmmm???

In addition, I learned that there is a real contempt out there for those of us who chose to paint from photos. One of the most influential painters and writers in my so-called art career is Jack White, and he says “All realistic artists either work from photos or they lie about it.”

I do teach people how to draw and they learn and they love it. The only ones who don’t learn are the ones who quit too soon!

I quit the painting class. But, I continue to paint, to learn more about painting by reading and practicing, and I sell lots of paintings. Take that, Mr. Stick-it-to-the-man!

But I’m not bitter. 😎

I believe strongly and whole-heartedly that drawing well is the basis for painting well.

Look at this – Shereen learned to draw!

Drawing Lessons

Posted by on Aug 23, 2011 in Lessons | No Comments

I teach people how to draw. The lessons are probably considered “semi-private” because each student receives one-on-one instruction, but in a small class.

Just the facts: 4 people at one time, one hour each week, each working on her own piece at her own pace. Youngest – 6th grade. Oldest – too polite to ask! Cost – $50 per month.

We meet every Tuesday afternoon at the Courthouse Gallery in Exeter, except for July, August and December. We draw from photos, see each other’s progress, learn from doing, learn from watching, learn from one another. (And yes, I am speaking in the royal “we”.) July and August feel like a long time to go without drawing. Often I lose a student or 2 during this break; more often, I gain new students.

Why learn to draw? You can read about the reasons here: Reasons To Learn To Draw (Thank you, Captain Obvious!)

If you are interested in taking drawing lessons, you may call or email me to get on a waiting list. Or, if you would rather learn in private, you can schedule private lessons. This means all my attention, all to, by, and for yourself! Is that a good thing? Ask my drawing students!


Posted by on Aug 22, 2011 in General, Three Rivers | No Comments

Tulare County is a place of superlatives. Sadly, we rank highest in the nation in being fat, uneducated, diabetic, poor; we make more teenage moms, have terrible unemployment and the dirtiest air. Ready to run away screaming yet? I don’t know all the specific statistics, only that we are either the “best” at those terrible things or close to it.

That’s the bad news. Perhaps it isn’t all that bad if it prevents our population from booming like that of Orange County, but that is a stretch of “glass half full” thinking.

The good news is that we have the largest trees (Sequoia Gigantea), the oldest trees (valley oaks), highest point (Mt. Whitney), smallest operating Post Office (don’t worry, we have normal sized ones too!), produce more dairy than Wisconsin,  we produce prodigious amounts of citrus and we feed the world. No kidding! Tulare County, my home.

Sunny Sequoias IXX, 8×8″, oil on wrapped canvas, $75

Worth It!, oil, sold

Sold (yes, I know this isn’t a Valley Oak, but I haven’t painted one of those yet!)

Kaweah Post Office, sold, another one on the easel, stay tuned!

Oranges 83 – 11×14 on canvas in black wooden frame, $250

List of unrelated thoughts with one semi-related piece of art

Posted by on Aug 18, 2011 in Thoughts | 3 Comments
  1. I see only one movie in a theater a year. It has to do with the time, the distance, and my pickiness high level of discernment.
  2. This year’s movie was The Help. I would gladly see it again. It is the best movie I’ve seen in longer than I can remember!
  3. The theater was at a mall, and there weren’t many parking spaces. I find that puzzling in this county, in this economy.
  4. 90% of the cars in the mall’s parking lot were newer than mine. That also puzzles me in this county, in this economy.
  5. My new custom orthotics feel good, and I KNOW this stupid plantar fasciitis will be healed soon. Maybe I should sign up for a walking 1/2 marathon so I have a training goal.
  6. Ellen,  the Best Knitter I know, saw my wrist/thumb splint and said, “I have De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis too”. She is left handed with an affected right hand. I’m right handed with an affected left hand. Hmmmm. . .
  7. Such a wild and reckless life I lead – injured from walking and knitting. Good thing I am not a sky diver or skeet shooter!
  8. Three people have asked me about portrait commissions. Portraits are even harder to me than murals. Perhaps that is why I sit at the computer instead of returning those phone calls.
  9. There is a 2″ watermelon in my garden. Grow, baby, grow!
  10. I have begun a Huge HUGE new project. So far it has involved 9 nights away from home, and it is currently covering my dining table in the house and the work table in the studio. In the fullness of time, more will be revealed.  Meanwhile, my lips are sealed.