Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Well, the good news is I didn't catch the virus, our poor computer did! It took Jeff many hours and phone calls to get our machine back to health. We sure realized how much we rely on this great tool and I wished a similar disease to strike those who create those kind of things. Talk about creative energy gone awry....and yes, I know I am vengeful, which is of course, another waste of energy.

Anyway, I do have a painting I wanted to share, which is another one from my "fall leaves and collage experiments." It is called "Masquerade". My inspiration was from a photo of the heart of one of my Dutch Irises from this summer. I have been looking over my flower pictures and trying to see some abstract designs or other themes that are not just obviously flowers.

With the fall leaves I added on the canvas, I also used some very sheer papers that had metallic designs that I thought worked with the sparkle of the real flower petals. I also hoped to capture the sense of a mask. Was I successful? What do you think?

Jeff's Corner: Next Halloween, I am going as one of Tina's paintings.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tiny Fun

I wanted to do a small painting for a card for a "get well" card for a friend. I decided to use one of my photos of cats from Greece, mainly because this friend is a great lover of cats.

I haven't tried painting with acrylics on watercolor paper for at least a year, so I thought I would give it a try. I couldn't believe a 5" x 7" painting could take five hours, but it did. The happy part about acrylics is that I could adjust the cats face several times until I could get it right. The cat's expression was key to the whole punch line of the card, (see the photo title).

Since the painting did take so much time, and I had another sick friend, I decided to do a color copy of the card onto good photo paper. The color density of the acrylics made for beautiful copies. Another plus for acrylics!

I just got the entrance form for the Millicent Roger's Museum miniature show for this year, and this painting gave me some ideas for my entry. Needless to say, I have small cats on my mind.

Jeff's Corner: "Morris, time for din din!"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


After our snow storm in September, we actually did get some warmer days and some beautiful fall colors. I was particularly inspired by a group of Popular trees that were such a rich golden color, they fairly glowed in the fall sunshine. I stopped to pick up some of their leaves from the parking lot that was under them, and the combination of the black asphalt, yellow leaves and the red coat I was wearing gave me an immediate inspiration for a painting.
11"x 14" yellow and black acrylic painting using Popular tree leaves on the painting, ©2009 Tina M Welter.
"Flip-side" 11" x 14" acrylic on canvas ©2009 Tina M Welter
I don't often get flashes like that, but it was great to be able to see something in my mind's eye that I wanted to create. Lately, I had been considering incorporating some collage into the background of my paintings to give them more interest and texture. I saw those leaves as an excellent resource to practice with. I purchased some "Golden" brand acrylic gel medium, which was suggested for collage, and got to work.

I chose to paint with acrylics because I knew that would mix well with that medium and because they dry fast. I didn't start with a drawing, I just started putting down the colors I wanted. My only rule was that I had to go with what felt right, and that I couldn't stop and think about it too long. This was incredibly fun and I ended up getting surprised mid-way with an idea that I wouldn't have thought of to start with, it had to evolve with the painting. A good lesson for me, since I often like to know the solution to many problems before I even get started!
11"x 14" yellow and black acrylic painting using Popular tree leaves on the painting, ©2009 Tina M Welter.
"Flip-side" 11" x 14" acrylic on canvas ©2009 Tina M Welter
 Soon I felt I was finished, so I asked for Jeff's opinion, and he had one excellent suggestion to add one red leaf. Perfect. That is why it is good to have another pair of eyes that you trust. I signed the painting and hung it up. After a few days, I ended up turning it upside down and I think I like it better that way. I have posted it with both views, because I am interested in hearing some other opinions. Tell me which view you like better!

Jeff's Corner: I've looked at leaf from both sides now...

Update. I realized I didn't make it clear that the leaves in the middle of the painting ARE real leaves that I added onto the canvas using the acrylic gel medium. Thanks for asking and for voting!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall Preserves

Wonderful morning sunlight shining through my jars of jam, Taos Canyon, New Mexico
I love the colors.
Summer is officially over when it snows here, and that was on Sept. 21st. My garden is mostly done. I managed to get the tomatoes under cover, but they are still only as big a golf balls. I made a valiant effort to grow things at this elevation, 8500 ft., but it did prove just too cold for squash and pumpkins. There were some potatoes to harvest and some very small corn. Lettuce and chard were definitely the winners.
Growing small corn variety at 8,500 ft.  Still pretty after the first fall frost.
Still pretty, even after the frost.
 Luckily, my family sent me home from Utah with peaches, blackberries, squash, normal size sweet corn and some cucumbers. My creativity has been focused on making jam and trying to bottle pickles for the first time. Thankfully, I had some success. It is more fun when my efforts pay off in good things to eat.

I have been working on some new flower painting ideas, but I am not quite ready to show the results of those. I thought the jars of jelly and jam were quite lovely to share for now.

Jeff's Corner: Now I know why Euell Gibbons was eating pine trees... (and what's in Grape Nuts anyway? No grapes, no nuts...)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Half-Marathon, Anyone?

Success in finishing my first half-marathon and what I learned from the process.
I knew that setting a goal for myself to run a thirteen mile race would help me stay motivated to exercise. I didn't expect to learn other things that I think are applicable to making art.

First. Having other people to encourage me was invaluable. I would have given up in July if my niece hadn't been there with other training strategies and her belief that I could do this. I have read many times that artists can thrive with support from other like minded artists. I have to admit, I have avoided this type of contact because of my memories of "critique sessions" in college. I provide enough critique in my OWN head, thank you. Perhaps it would be possible to connect with others that are not out to destroy me as an artist. One of my brothers actually ran with me, even though he could have run faster. I usually run alone, and I wondered if it would be weird to have to talk to someone while running. We had the best time, it was fun to talk, and I know the physically difficult part of the race, when my legs were aching, went by a whole lot faster with his help.

Second. It was good for me to do something that was hard. I didn't expect the elation and sense of accomplishment that lasted for weeks after the event. I felt ready to set new goals. Write a whole albums' worth of music. Hike the Himalayas. Tackle painting that portrait of my friend! I have more confidence that I can succeed. I wasn't the fastest runner there, but I did beat my own goal of three hours by ten minutes, and that was good enough for me.

Jeff's Corner: I am going to comment about him. Jeff is wonderful! He was so proud of me for finishing my goal.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I was able to have some time last week to finally complete the commission of Muffy's portrait. Getting my boss's artwork ready for the big show it August took most of my time and desire to even work on art projects.

The happy news is that I was very happy with the finished painting. I was so glad that the cat's fur didn't look too "stiff". Also, my client was so happy she gave me a tip and sent me a thank you note. I am looking forward doing something else challenging of my own. Perhaps finishing a portrait that I started two years ago...painting people terrifies me, so I should try it, right?

Jeff's Corner:  "Absolutely!"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mental Gymnastics

I originally started this blog with the idea of testing what changing my thinking about my art making process might do to actually getting some art done. I think I have made some progress, but like anything, it takes practice. After reassessing what my mind set has been lately, I thought I could use a mini-workshop to get back on track.

I had purchased a set of cards called the "Creative Whack Pack" a few years ago. These were the invention of Roger Von Oech who is an author of several creativity books. The deck consists of 64 cards with each card having a different creativity strategy. There are four, sixteen card suits: Explorer, Artist, Judge, and Warrior. These represent four types of thinking involved in the creative process.

Anyway, I decided to get these cards out and try one of the suggested exercises to determine what type of creative style I have. My strongest suit turned out to be "Judge", which is evaluating an idea and deciding what to do with it. The next was "Warrior", this is the action suit for implementing ideas. (I thought that was good). "Explorer",which is for discovering resources to create new ideas and "Artist", transforming resources into new ideas were my least used strategies. No wonder I feel like my thinking is a bit stale! Obviously, all these strategies are good in their own way, but I can definitely see that I need to balance them out more evenly.

Now I am randomly choosing a card per day and applying that strategy to my day. So far, "Loosen Up" and "Asking, What IF?" were the most interesting and helpful. The "Experiment" is back on track!

Jeff's Corner: Suit yourself!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Putting first things first...

Last week I had a great comment on the blog that reminded me about doing what is most important to me first. I know that Eric Maisel suggested that in his book "Coaching the Artist Within". Lately, I have not been following through on that principle as far as my artwork goes. Consequently, my productivity has really suffered.

I did try put this concept back into play Saturday, and I succeeded in four and a half hours of blissful painting. It was a bit of a jolt to get back to the laundry, dealing with stacks of paper, etc. and I didn't get my floors swept or all the plants watered. I will admit I was a bit grumpy later when I was finishing dishes late at night. Jeff reminded me that I was just going to have to make up my mind about what I was going to be happier getting done, and quit trying to insist on doing it all. Blasphemy! I hate it when I can't be superwoman.

I spent a bit of time Sunday afternoon replaying some music for the piano I had written a couple of years ago. I have wanted to do this for a long time, but kept putting it off because I thought it would be such a disappointment. I had given it up in disgust at my lack of ability to write down all the music that I could hear in my head and I couldn't seem to get the music writing software, a computer and a keyboard that were all compatible at the same time to make up for my writing handicap. Amazingly, I could read and play what I wrote and got a great deal of enjoyment from hearing that music again. I would like to finish some of those compositions. Obviously, I am NOT superwoman and can't do everything, but I felt much happier this weekend actually doing more of what I like and less of what I "should" do.

Jeff's corner: My motto is - Don't "should" on yourself!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Moving Forward Slowly

I truly thought that when summer was here, I would be getting much more painting done than I have. I have not been doing my painting hour in the morning because I have been using more of that time to train for a half-marathon that I wanted to attempt the end of August. I also thought that once I got my garden planted and growing, it would take less time. I think I will have to be less ambitious next year and stick to lettuce and radishes!

Frankly, this week has been a real battle with depression over my whole "Artist Life Experiment". I haven't felt like writing because I think my progress has slowed so substantially and that I don't have anything to share other than my own discouragement, and that is not what I wanted this blog to be about.

I did manage to get some of the background color on the portrait of Muffy, and that did cheer me up. I think it is a good start. I can see that perhaps I need to re-evaluate my goals and decide whether to be content with doing many goals and getting a little done on each, or going back to being more focused on just one goal, then stop giving myself a guilt trip! Does anyone else always think they can do more than they really can? How do you deal with it?! Life is short, and I want to accomplish so much.

Jeff's Corner: What? Life is short?! Oh crap!...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Nothing Like the Real Thing...

Central Train Station, Amsterdam.  So much fun to ride and watch the trains.
Central Train Station
Hotel Filosoof, Amsterdam,  We had a great room here.
Hotel Filosoof

We just got back from our whirlwind trip to Amsterdam. I wondered when we went if it would be worth the jet lag to do such a short trip, but I have to say that seeing the Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Van Gogh paintings in person was well worth the effort.

I liked that the museums we went to made the effort to put the history of the country and the history of the various artists work in context. Nothing is created in a vacuum, although it sometimes seems that way when all I have seen were the great masterpieces in my textbook in college.

The Van Gogh museum where they had many of Vincent's early paintings showing his learning process and how hard he worked before he even came to his famous style was particularly important to me. I was also moved by how he didn't realize that he was doing the very thing he was trying to accomplish, but he couldn't see it! He despaired and desiring not to be a burden to his brother anymore, he took his own life. How often have I felt that all my efforts are not amounting to anything! Sometimes it is so hard to judge when you are in the middle of things. If Van Gogh could have just held on ten more years, he would have started to see the interest in his work begin to blossom.

This is only one of the many things I felt I learned on such a short trip. I have to say, that there is nothing like experiencing and seeing the world for myself and not just seeing it on t.v. on the travel channel.

Jeff's Corner: Standing at Rembrandt's easel in his studio was amazing!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Go Van Gogh...

Vondel Park, Amsterdam.  Runner's paradise in the city.
Vondel Park
What a whirlwind my life has been lately. Deadlines for artwork for my Artist Boss's show coming up in August, summer visitors, trying to keep the garden going, and we decided on a last minute inspiration to go to Amsterdam for five nights!

I haven't made any progress on my artistic projects and I have been feeling rather disgruntled about that. Going on an artistic field trip IS the next best thing though, and helps me feel a bit better about the lack of time I have spent painting.

Bikes and Bridges, Amsterdam.  Watch out for the cyclists, they mean business!
Bikes and Bridges
 We already have our tickets to the Van Gogh museum, Rembrandt's house and the Rijksmuseum. The club Melkweg is also on the list in order to get some musical inspiration from a cool band called the "SilverSun Pickups" (Jeff's idea.) It will be short and sweet and a much needed break. I hope to come back recharged to paint...once I get over the jet lag!

Jeff's Corner: "Stay-cation" my a**!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

To be like Georgia, or not...

I finally had some of my own Irises bloom this spring and this morning I had a great photo taking experience. I have been wondering how I could make my "back-light" flower series of paintings more interesting and have considered closer angles and unusual view points.

Of course, these start looking reminiscent of Georgia O'Keefe's famous flower paintings. The only difference is that I would have more of a sense of light shining through the petals. I have always admired her work, but I don't like to be a copy cat. I suppose all I can do is try out the idea and see if I like it. Sometimes something that looks great as a photograph doesn't translate well onto canvas.

Ah, choices.

Jeff's Corner: "Georgia on my mind..."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

One Year Later...

A good test of what I have learned in a year was to try and do another painting of the little fox and compare it to my experience of painting the first one last year.

First of all, I knew that if I started with a grey value underpainting, I should make that painting accurate to what I wanted the finished artwork to look like. I spent a lot of extra time on the first fox trying to cover up problems with the value underpainting.

Second, I knew what colors to mix to get the fur tones I wanted. The first painting, I wasn't very familiar with the oil paints. After a year of working with them, I was a lot more confident.

Third, I did learn something about the anatomy of foxes from all the drawings I did last time, and that did help me in getting a better drawing in less time.

Overall, it was a happier and less stressful painting experience. I did struggle with getting the eyes right because I couldn't use an exact photo reference, but I learned from that too. Mostly to trust myself when the painting seems off. I learned that painting is just like anything else, practice, practice, practice makes all the difference. I often have a faulty belief that I should just be automatically good at something just because I want to do it. Rats, all my teachers were right about having to work to master the skills!

Jeff's Corner: She couldn't find Carnegie Hall on the first try either...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Twilight Zone

I have been working out of town for the last three weeks. It has only been for three days away from home each week, but I have to say my schedule feels completely turned upside down. I have been helping to develop new ideas for sculptures for the fall show for the artist I work for. This is surprisingly tiring and some times frustrating work. I think I know what she wants, but then after spending all day on a concept, it isn't quite what she was after and I have to change the shape of the piece again.

I tried taking some of my own drawing and sketching work with me, but I didn't make much progress. When I got home, my extra time went into catching up with all the garden plans that needed to move forward. Growing plants insist on more space and sunshine! The cute little seedlings I have been starting inside the house are wanting more permanent accommodations, and I don't have all those ready yet.

I did manage to get two underpaintings in grey tones started. One of Muffy, the Disdainful Kitty and one of a baby fox. I had an interested buyer for the original fox I did last year, but she expressed a desire to have the fox looking up instead of at the ground. I delved back into the world of trying to get inspiration without copying someone's photo. I think I have made a good start, but something looks a bit strange around the fox's eyes...oh well, just more time in the twilight zone.

Jeff's Corner: Jeff is at home and I am away, so we STILL don't get to enjoy his witty remarks! Believe me, I miss them too.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Childhood Memory

Last week, I heard about a birthday party for my aunt who is turning 80 years old this May. When I was four years old, my Mom became very sick and sometimes some of my siblings and I stayed with Mom's sister, who is the Aunt that is having the birthday.

One of the things my younger brother and I remember is eating the roses made of "decorator's frosting" that my Aunt used to adorn the wedding cakes she made. She would let us have the extra ones that she didn't use and we would sit under the table with the wax paper sheets studded with the lovely colored flowers. I always admired how pretty they were before we devoured them, saving the purple ones for last because I liked that color best. Actually they all tasted the same and I think only small children can have such a tolerance for such an intensely sweet treat!

I decided I wanted to do a watercolor rose birthday card for her in honor of the occasion. I haven't painted with my watercolors for almost a year now and I was interested to see how it would go. I was pleased to find that I actually had a better sense of the layering of the color washes and solved my light and dark values much quicker that I used too. This is such a help, since watercolors can look muddy and overworked so easily. It is always a happy day when I feel like I am making progress in becoming a better artist. I hope my Aunt likes the card!

Jeff's Corner: Jeff will be returning to his "corner" tomorrow, after a two week business trip away. I am so glad!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Balancing Act

I went out of town recently to visit my family which involves a 12 hour drive. I have made it a goal to take my camera with me more often when I go anywhere and I tried to capture some good pictures in what I call "guerilla photo taking" on this trip too. This often involves shooting out of a moving car window, (yes, Jeff was driving) or only taking a quick moment to take a picture when we made a stop.
Driving by some of the red rock scenery in southern Utah, 'm surprised they are in focus at all! © 2009 Tina M Welter
Red Rocks really fast!

It was great to see my family and I was very pleased to discover that many of them have been following the blog. Some haven't commented, so I didn't know they were reading along. I have been contemplating ways that I could use my flower painting images in more ways than just the finished painting. I appreciated the great response from the idea to put them on cards. I would also be open to any other appropriate suggestions.
 Rest stop for a quick drink of water, southern Utah. © 2009 Tina M. Welter
Quick stop at the springs.

Traveling away for a weekend made me realize how fine the balancing act I have been doing in order to get any art work completed. In between work, church, housework, and trying to start a garden, a long week-end away meant I didn't make any progress on the paintings. I felt anxious that I hadn't been creating anything and didn't have something new for the blog.
Train cars side tracked. Utah desert, Between Price and Green River. © 2009 Tina M Welter
Jeff's favorite subject.

I decided to take a look at what I had accomplished. I took some cool pictures, I found out I had more support than I knew about, and I took stock and realized that in a year from when I first set out to paint more seriously, I have completed 13 oil and 9 watercolor paintings. That is a marked increase from the one painting a year I had been doing the for the last twenty years.

I suppose every juggler drops the ball now and then, especially a new juggler. I can pick up where I left off and keep going. Thanks everyone for the positive feedback!

Jeff's Corner: Jeff will comment when HE gets back from his business trip out of town...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Fever and Winter Chill

We had a couple of warm weeks in March and I was itching to get going on the "garden". I did some preliminary digging and was very excited about what I was going to plant. I was considering a whole painting series on the color green and the light shining through new plants.

The next exercise for writing the artist statement is: "I am most inspired by...." I have to say that particular green color of new plants is very inspiring to me. I also like the bird song that starts to be heard this time of year. Every spring, I always realize anew how much I missed it all winter.

Well, then like missing that last step on the way down the stairs, the temperatures dropped to four degrees overnight and the wind and snow were here again. I really don't mind the snow so much, any moisture is good moisture, but those steep temperature drops are harsh and cooled down my spring fever in a hurry.

I was inspired by the brave rhubarb, daffodils, and tiny lilac bush that I just planted last year and I thought would be ruined by that freeze. But there they were, not blackened and still green. Also those tenacious little birds were still singing! I have a lot to learn from such determination, since I am easily frosted by negative comments. I don't want to be a hot-house flower.

I did make progress on the pink columbine painting even though I had many distractions. It was on the blog several entries ago in it's grey scale beginnings. It still needs a little color balance, but I will share it in it's imperfect state.

Jeff's Corner: This year March came in like a lamb and went out like a polar bear!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Subjects and Style I Choose are....Because...

Spring Fever.
That is the first "exercise" I had to write about in my first attempts at creating an artist's statement. I am using Alyson B. Stanfield's book, "I'd Rather be in the Studio" as my guide.

I have to say, after writing for the required thirty minutes on that topic alone, I did unearth some things I didn't expect. Namely, that I really am passionate about living, growing things. I know that about myself and yet I hadn't really put it down in words before. Alyson's point that artists have to understand what they are trying to accomplish with their art before they can explain it to others in a coherent fashion really hit home.

Saturday, the first really warm spring like day here, I spent three hours hand-digging a new garden spot with a pick. Then while turning soil in one of my garden spaces from last year, I was plotting and planning how I was going to try and outwit both weather and chipmunks for a more successful growing season this year. I hadn't planned on spending so much time outside, but I was so inspired by the idea of beautiful growing plants. It is no wonder that I love painting them and try to capture the light shining through their leaves.

This is, of course, only one of the required writing exercises. I have a lot more to do. Hopefully digging about in my subconscious will eventually yield a harvest of good ideas to put in my final statement.

If anyone would like to know more about Alyson's ideas on artists and self promotion, check out her blog at She has some really helpful suggestions.

Jeff's Corner: Always call the utility company before digging around in your subconscious!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hello Kitty

I have not made much progress on my "artist statement" and was wondering what to write about since that was my plan to document my progress on writing it.

Hurrah! A commission has come my way for another cat portrait and I am thrilled to have a good reason to take a little more time for the writing of said statement.

I had fun this weekend getting acquainted with my new subject, Muffy, a beautiful cat with a lovely disposition as long as you were petting her ears and not trying to take her picture! She is fourteen years old and would make such faces of disdain by squinting her lovely green eyes everytime I pointed the camera at her. I wasn't using a flash at all, she just did not like to have her picture taken.

Finally, some neighborhood dogs stopped by outside the glass doors and I got one really great picture of her while her attention was on those dogs. Thank you doggies! I am still working on the flowers, but I am excited to get working on this portrait.

Jeff's Corner: "Who let the dogs out? Who, Who, Who..." Baja Men

Monday, March 9, 2009

Poppies in Process

I finally made progress on the pink poppies this week since I wasn't distracted by sneezing and coughing. I still think they need a little color balance work, the smaller bloom seems a bit too purple, but overall, I feel the painting is close to being done.

I've decided that I am going to go ahead and do the backlit flower series that I had originally planned on. I am setting a goal for 15 paintings. I recently saw an opportunity in the Art Calender magazine for an open call for artists to show in the Community Convention center in Santa Fe. I thought this would be a good goal to try for since there isn't a hard fast deadline for me to stress out over, yet it gives me something to reach for.

To apply for this opportunity, I also need an artists resume, and an artist's statement, neither of which I have written and need to do. Again, another reason to get me moving. I also like that they are considering artists of all levels, so I don't have to have had years of gallery experience to apply. It feels good to have a goal again.

Jeff's Corner: Calvin:"A good artist's statement always says more than his art does!"
Hobbes: "You misspelled Weltanschauung..." Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Waterson

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Reality Check

Let the sunshine in!
I had every intention of having the pink poppy painting I was working on ready to post on the blog this week. Two weeks ago, I had a suspicious scratchiness in my throat and the next morning there was no doubt about it, one of those tenacious viruses had made itself at home and I was going to suffer the consequences for its visit.

I thought since I wasn't going in to work, that I would "make lemonade" and try to get some painting done. I managed about an hour's worth of work before I had to admit defeat. It may not seem like a person is working very hard when they are painting, but for me the concentration and focus did take a good deal more energy than I even imagined. I was glad I could at least make it to the Miniature Show opening with the help of Ibuprofen and Coca Cola.*

The next week, I did manage to go to work, which was good since there was a deadline for a piece of artwork that had to be finished that week. Jeff had been able to work on the piece while I was sick, but the bad news was that stealthy virus decided to visit Jeff and he took his turn to feel miserable.

I thought maybe I would paint in the evenings, but I was still feeling drained from being sick and after working all day, I just didn't have the energy. I am glad a didn't have a real deadline other the the one I put on myself to have the painting done. I think it is a good reminder that sometimes other realities happen.

While lying in bed, I did see some great sunlight through the leaves of one of my houseplants and I just had to take a picture. I am sharing it with you today. I just love backlight!

Jeff's Corner: *"I hear Keith Richards lives on that stuff!" (see above)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Miniatures Show

This Saturday, Feb 21st, was the opening for the miniatures show at the Millicent Rogers Museum. "Miniatures" was defined as any artwork that measured less than 10"x 10"inches. Paintings did not have to include the frames in that measurement. The museum has been hosting this show for artists living in the county for the last six years. Last year was my first year participating and this was Jeff's first year.

We were able to invite a few friends as our guests and apparently everyone else did the same because the opening was very well attended. A new feature this year was to have those attending vote for their three favorite artworks. With two hundred artists participating, it was hard to choose just three! Besides paintings, there were wood carvings, pottery, and jewelry.

It was an enjoyable evening. We have been to many excellent art shows for the artist we work for, but it was really fun for us to have our own work in the show for a change. There were some works there by some really well known artists in our area and it was great to be in the same show with them. Best of all was that we were able to meet our goal to be there.

And I personally think that Jeff's painting was the best "church" painting at the show.

Jeff's Corner: So do I!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spinning My Wheels

Morning Light, 16" x 12" oil on canvas
"Morning Light" 16"x 12" oil on canvas, ©2009
I finally finished one of the flower paintings I had planned for the spring show that isn't happening. I knew it would only take me a couple of hours, but I just couldn't seem to get started. It took me two weeks to get the momentum to paint for two and a half hours! That painting sitting on the easel just waiting did add to guilty feelings and caused me to wonder what was wrong with me.

The other bothersome thing is that I had developed an annoying muscle twitch under my left eye. After reading up on what might be happening, the diagnosis of "eye strain" is what I found. I guess working all day on carving detailed designs on pottery and then painting at night was taking it's toll. My eye muscle is less twitchy, so I guess I did need the rest.

I also had a bad round of feeling like my paintings are too stiff and lack a real sense of emotion and meaning. Thoughts like these are great for adding slick stuff to spin my mental wheels in. My goal this week is to get to the bottom of what I am feeling so I can get some traction again. This being an artist business really makes a person think.

Jeff's Corner: My policy is to take a break if any of my body parts start twitching...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Saga Continues...

We had been hoping for a spring show of our artwork at a local resort as many of the great readers of this blog know. We received an e-mail this week from the art director that the General Manager decided that he wanted a "consistent" look, so he is going to continue with one artist they are showing already and not use us!

It just goes to show that the lesson from last week of pleasing ourselves was the best lesson possible. I have to admit, I was a bit relieved because I have been working so hard on paintings every spare minute I had in order to try and meet that deadline. It was nice to feel like maybe we could go snowboarding on a weekend and not feel guilty about it. We haven't gone at all this winter. At the same time, I do feel a bit let down not having a specific goal to meet. But, I am confident that with a little research and thought, I can come up with another one.

Speaking of other goals, we are submitting a painting each to a "miniatures show" at a local museum. This is full circle for me, since I did some watercolor paintings for this same show last year. It was the first thing I did in honor of making the resolution to myself to start making artwork again. The really great thing is that this year, Jeff has one to enter too.

Jeff's Corner: It's no use forcing a square peg into a round hole.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Landscapes, Oh My...

I finished my Canyon Sunrise painting and sent it to the art director at the resort in hopes it would fit the southwest theme that her General Manager would prefer. She wrote me back and said that the GM liked my flowers and not Jeff's churches!

Joy for me, but disappointing news for Jeff. She wondered if he could send in some landscapes. At first Jeff thought he could, but after a week of thinking it over, he found that he just wasn't that excited about painting them. I understood exactly how he felt. Painting is actually quite demanding work, and it is hard to do when you are not inspired by the subject matter. He has completed two more paintings of churches with a different color palette, which he hopes they might like better. If they do, great. But if not, he is not going to worry about it.

I really appreciated the comments on the last two blogs. It helped me realized that I am in charge and that I don't have to immediately try to please everyone. It's also important that I feel happy with the arrangements when I show my art work. Thanks so much!

Jeff's Corner: "It's alright now, I've learned my lesson well. You see you can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself..." Garden Party by Ricky Nelson, 1972

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shifting Gears!

What a week. We sent a sample of three paintings each to the art director at Ojo Caliente where we are hoping to show our work this spring. We received a nice e-mail back where she explained that she loved my flowers, but she knew the General Manager almost always went with southwest landscapes or themes. !!!

I called her and said I could try to have an example of my landscape work in a week. She did apologize for not getting back to me sooner. I had sent an e-mail in December explaining my intention to paint floral subjects, but I didn't get a response. Anyway, I have been scrambling through my photo collection to find suitable landscapes and generally freaking out.

I was so looking forward to having two finished paintings to post this week and I had chosen the rest of my flower subjects and canvases. I could picture the whole show, and now I am completely turned upside down. Poor Jeff has been very patient with my stress, although he says I am like a cat with her tail poofed out. Unfortunately, that is a pretty good description of me right now!

Working like crazy all weekend has yielded one 11"x14" painting, "Taos Canyon Sunrise" that still doesn't feel quite right. I am not posting it because I am not happy with it yet. I really had my hopes on doing that show, and all I can do is try my best. I wish I had time to paint another subject this week, but if I can get the sunset to work, it will be really impressive. Crossing my fingers...

Jeff Corner: If you get her cornered and her tail poufs out- leave her cornered!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tool Kit

Now that January is here, I really feel the necessity to get to work on my goal to have at least twelve paintings ready for the spring to show at Ojo Caliente. That means completing at least one painting a week for the next three months. I decided to focus on flowers and have researched all my photos from last summer to choose my best subjects. I am glad I took so many pictures!

I debated whether to try the grey scale underpainting with the flowers. The last time I tried it, I was very frustrated with the results. I have learned since that the key to success with the underpainting is to have a more complete image with all the darks and lights where I want them. My frustration from before was trying to change dark areas to light. If I changed my mind, those areas took more time to fix.

With the dramatic results of the Petra cat painting, I decided to give it another try. This time I did very detailed drawings of my subject before I even started the underpaintings. I used a technique that I never liked to use in the past, because it always seemed to take forever and I wanted to get to the painting, but I think it helps save time in the long run. I created a pencil drawn grid of squares on my canvas and then made a small grid of the same proportions. One useful thing I learned from art school, is that if it looks good small, it will look good big. I drew my desired image on the small grid and then I could transfer my drawing to the larger canvas grid. While I was drawing, I kept hearing the voice of a dear friend of mine who once told me that "real artist's don't use grids, they can just create from their heads directly to the canvas".

This statement has always bothered me, and Jeff and I had a discussion about artwork and tools. Essentially the grey scale underpainting is also another tool. Is the artwork created using these helpful ideas somehow less than artwork just painted spontaneously with no pre-thought? I like the results of using these tools, I spend less time re-painting because it feels right the first time. I was feeling badly about not being a "real artist" and Jeff said he would like to see an example of "fake-art". Laughing made me feel better, that is why I keep him around.

Jeff's Corner: Would the statue of "David" been any less beautiful if Michangelo had used power tools?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Lilies Of The Field

I entered a floral painting for a call for entries this fall for the LDS church. I have had this on my goal list for at least ten years and I finally did it. The subject for the art show is "The Great Things of God" At first I was contemplating a complex still life, but then I thought "what can I reasonably do with the skills I have so far?"

Since I was focusing on flowers this summer, I decided to see if I could incorporate that subject to fit into that theme. I kept thinking about the scripture that talks about the lilies of the field and how they were more beautifully arrayed than King Solomon.

I did some research on what those "lilies" in Jerusalem might have looked like. It turns out that they are a Red Corn Poppy that grows wild in the fields in that part of the world. I found some good references to work from, but again I had to create my own arrangement and use some of my own photos of poppies to get a better sense of light. My pictures of poppies were of the California variety, and the Red Corn Poppy has a similar center, but fewer and less frilly petals. Like the fox painting, not having my own perfect reference photos makes things more difficult and time consuming.

Finally, I did get a painting done on time for the submission deadline and I sent it in. I didn't like the way the shadows looked on the middle poppy, but I couldn't seem to do any better and I decided to just let it go, after getting Jeff's reassuring opinion of course.

I just recently heard from the art selection committee, and they didn't choose my piece for the show. That is O.K., because my main goal was just to submit something and now I can share it with all of you on the blog.

Jeff's Corner: I think Toto and I will just lie down here and take a little nap...