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She Don’t Look Like No Jazz Player! May 25, 2014

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That got your attention, didn’t it? It was in reference to a conversation I had the other day with another artist and the topic was music. I play the flute, spent three years working on jazz pieces, and had the idea that I might play casually with some other folks. I’ve played the flute for many, many years and somewhere along the way we decide what we are going to specialize in.

For me there was no question; it was going to be JAZZ! I love jazz music, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Django Reinhardt, Claude Bolling…..many others. They are my inspirations and as much as I haven’t played a lot of jazz, I always enjoy listening to it, no matter who is playing.

So in art as in music I look to many other wonderfully talented people for ways to improve whatever I am doing. In art if one continues that journey, people go through continuous cycles of growth and change. Just when you feel like you’ve got a handle on your technique, something in what you are painting ‘asks’ you, no, TELLS you that you have to go another direction. This urge pushes you along, sometimes joyfully and other times reluctantly dragging you into fits of frustration and digging your heels in. This is when we often feel like we don’t know anything. But it is simply a phase of growth and refinement that continually polishes our skills, albeit with some nudging.

In my artistic journey currently I am exploring painting florals, something I have wanted to do since I was a child artist. I just couldn’t enter that field however, because I did not believe I could ever capture the delicacy of a flower. As in music, I dragged my feet for years until now. I decided that I had come a long way and I had become very accomplished with other things I had once felt I would not be able to do, and it was at least worth the try.

I went shopping and came home with pots of pansies, bundles of tulips, and more pots of other Spring flowers. So began the many weeks of failures and even more failures. The paintings were just not coming out the way I had imagined I wanted to paint them. Now lets be clear in saying that I am still not proficient in this, however I stuck it out over the past several months (which is why I have not done any posts since December) and I think I am finally getting there. So I offer this image as a result of my hard work. Oh, and by the way, the music? Well, I didn’t get anywhere with Jazz….I am specializing in Baroque Period Music, and I am a natural at it!

Pansies In the Garden

Pansies In the Garden

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Positive Reinforcement December 3, 2013

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Overlook Point, 12in x 16 in, oil on canvas  I have just finished teaching classes for this season, finished a large painting for a new gallery, and now I’m getting smaller projects finished that have required my attention these last few months.

This is a busy season! Christmas music is on the radio again and I am wondering, where did the time go since last year? It doesn’t seem like I got a lot of painting done in this year, but my work has become more complex. It has required that I slow down and pay more attention to what I’m trying to accomplish with each image. Part of that is clarity of values, something which I tell my students is more important than color.

Values are the ‘make it or break it’ factor in representational painting. If your values are off, the image doesn’t read correctly. Each color in your palette responds to a different value on a black/white value key, and it is very important to understand this and to put it into practice. I spend some time almost every class I teach reviewing this principle and applying it to the color charts the students use. Just placing the colors on the canvas is not enough; it is necessary to understand their strength and weaknesses through visual means. I suggest to my students that they take a black/white photo to have alongside their painting image so that they can relate the color to the b/w key. This helps immensely when needing to adjust contrasts with the color.

So, keep this idea in mind if you are having trouble with getting your color selection to read correctly in your painting. Take a photo in b/w and check if the key of the color is properly relating to the actual color. It will show up in b/w. This is the ‘secret’ to a good painting….positive reinforcement using negative color.
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3 Things to Refresh Artistic Direction August 19, 2013

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It’s been a long Spring and Summer…I’ve overcome some roadblocks in my painting, learned some new techniques to play with, and I’ve gained confidence in my work…enough that I have set out on a new direction towards getting my work beyond the local arena.

First of all, taking a REALLY GOOD BREAK from everything helped. It is good to step back from time to time and to reassess what is working, what is not, and what needs to be changed so it can. I’ve done some of that. Here’s three things that will force you to change your perspective and maybe your direction; you might not like them and I hope they don’t happen to you, but they will make you look again at where and what you are doing and to perhaps become more clear about where you want to end up.

1.  Have Your Major Gallery Close Their Doors:

Yup, that will force change on you. It did me and it was the best thing that ever happened. It doesn’t mean you won’t be upset, have doubts about your work, and want to dive into a large black hole. But when you crawl back up out of it you can and hopefully will look at things with a new perspective and realize how important it is to keep going. You are an artist and there will be more galleries. Count on it.

2.  Your Health Changes:

Yup, that works too. When you spend more time in bed being forced to rest and heal, you spend time thinking (at least I do!). I didn’t think about what I was going to paint next, I thought about if I would ever paint at all again! I thought about if I had wasted time and efforts and what it all meant. It meant that I still had plenty of opportunities ahead of me to move into the direction I had wanted to go towards in the first place because they were still out there to explore. And I also realized that I had allowed too many distractions to get in the way of personal development.  I vowed to change that once my I had recovered from being ill, and I did.

3.  Drop Your Ego on Fixed/Rigid Thinking About Your Place in the Art World:

Okay, that was a tougher one! I realized through the above two experiences that I was just another artist in a big artsy world. I care about what I do and I want to share my work with others who will enjoy it and possibly pay to have it! However, I also had to realize that there were both better and worse artists than me AND that no-body really cares how I do what I do. This might sound negative, but it is entirely the opposite. Reality dictates that most people think about themselves first, and this is a good thing in the right places. Its not a good thing when that’s all they think about! So to change my perspective on my position, I took a very good, intense, grueling workshop from a very good European instructor who made me work very hard. It also had the advantage that I was able to let my years of experience and skill take a backseat (in a way) to a new learning process that challenged my skills and patience. It worked! Paint because you love to…not for anything else. Don’t compromise yourself either because there’s no winners when we do that.

4. Now the Good News! (You didn’t expect a #4, did you?)

The bottom line is that while it is important to set goals, work towards them, and hopefully reach them, life is going to throw you a few curve-balls on occasion. You can either avoid getting hit (which is difficult because we don’t have control over everything external that happens to us), or you can accept the changes and make new choices because of them. I realized (on some of my worse days) I was resisting enjoying what I enjoyed….and nothing else other than my own mind was behind it. Knowing that I did not have control over the events, I realized that I did have control over what I did with ‘ me’ in the event and after the event! I could make choices to move forward. I did.

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but we have today to do our best. This IS a choice. We can come from any direction, but we will always end up ‘here.’ ‘Here’ is where you are now, and will be again and again. How do I want ‘here’ to look? That is what holds the answer. Opportunity is always there. We just have to be aware and open to see and hear it. Don’t give up when it looks dark, because it isn’t going to stay that way.

'The Last Chapter' - my work in progress

‘The Last Chapter’ – my work in progress

Doing What Comes Naturally March 15, 2013

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Proud Woman, 14inx20in, oil on Belgian Linen (Mar. 4, 2013)Since having four solo shows and five group shows in the past five years, I have decided I needed to take a break! An artist can’t just stop painting…that won’t happen with me, but I felt there was a call-back to what I used to do.

Portraiture and figurative (narrative) works were my first love and seemed to come naturally to me. It had been over 10 years since I did the last figurative painting and I felt a need to rediscover doing them. I decided last Spring that it would be in my best interests to connect with a mentor who was really good in this area to work with me. I contacted an artist friend of mine who runs an art school locally and we made arrangements to meet once a week for the next year. I have been doing a lot of studies under his guidance. It felt good to draw again, first with graphite and charcoal, then moved into drawing with paint. In the Fall last year I finally began to paint the portraits in full color.

I can honestly say that it isn’t easy. There is a lot to consider and I was grateful for my many years in art school to have done lots and lots of figurative work. I remembered anatomy and the structure of the human form…this came back to me quite quickly. However, I had not done anything at that time with oil paint as I was only working with water media.

My skill painting the portrait and figure is coming along. I’m not where I want to be with them yet but that is part of the process; persevering, working at the same subject matter, learning new ways to explore this genre, and to continue to get down into the nitty gritty of it all – all of these matter. And there can be a lot of frustration. So while I still continue to work at landscape painting for the galleries that carry that work from me, I need to fill my own cup with what moves ALL of me. This painting is called “Proud Woman” – 18in x 14in, oil on Belgian Linen panel. Salut!

Sometimes you just gotta have fun! February 16, 2013

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Freedom's CallingOkay, dead of winter..cold, white or grey….I need some color (other than in my hair!). One of the galleries that represents my work decided to have a ‘Small Works, GREAT WONDERS’ show of miniature paintings from selected artists within the gallery. I usually do landscapes for this gallery, however, for this show I decided to go with something different. I love spheres and small things that look like spheres; that could be tiny boxes that are circular in shape, small colored balls out of those machines in some shops where you pay 25 cents and out drops one of them, and then there’s marbles. I love marbles! When I was a child the marble games were popular just around this time of year when the snow started to melt. It’s rather nostalgic but I decided to take a few photos of marbles in different lighting and with props and choose a couple of those images to make as my contribution of mini paintings to the gallery. This one is called ‘Freedom’s Calling’….(escaping from the jar!) and is 5 inches x 7 inches, painted in oil on gesso-board. The style is ‘hyper-realism,’ very similar to photorealism. I enjoyed the process of painting them, a departure from my usual realist/impressionistic style. I hope you find this little painting brings you back to your childhood days and gives you a chuckle. Cheers!

Catching a Few Rays November 30, 2012

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Winter in the prairies in Canada has its own beauty as do all seasons. However, there is something really quite special about being able to catch the light reflecting off the snow on a sunny winter day. It is often quite breathtaking. Here is my recent painting of one of those times. This is taken close to our river valley. We have a lot of parks with walkways where people can stroll along for miles. Mill Creek is my favorite. I grew up as a child, playing in the wooded areas just behind our house. This area was my playground and I knew every nook and cranny of it for a few miles around. Mill Creek is pretty much dried up in most areas now, but there is still a trickle of water that finds its way through the lower areas. Enjoy the winter no matter what it brings. It is a season of slowing down, relaxing more, breathing in the beauty of seeing the pristine sparkle of freshly fallen snow, and eating a little more rich foods. Have a Merry Christmas as well!

Catching a Few Rays, 22in x 28in, oil on canvas

Catching a Few Rays, 22in x 28in, oil on canvas

Selling Right Off the Easel October 11, 2012

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Cool Water II, 24in x 36in, oil on canvas

Its really a wonderful testament to the validity of your work as an artist when a painting, just finished, isn’t off the easel and is sold, especially when it is being created for a solo art show. This recently happened to me. I was thrilled and exhilarated, but here’s the rub; the work I was painting was to go in one of the galleries that represent my work. This particular piece was on my easel in a location I was painting in as a result of an emergency, being that my own studio had some water damage and was being attended to by my loyal Mr. FixEverything husband.

People never get to visit my studio while working on a show…never, never, never. I will touch and re-touch too many times before I’m satisfied with the final result. Only then will the painting be done. If someone sees it (as happened recently as well), and if they are another artist, they usually like to make helpful comments such as “maybe you should brighten that area up” or “maybe you should dull that area down” and so on….you get the idea. However, in this situation all the remarks were ‘oooh’ and ‘wow!’ I took this to mean that the painting was working.

So Mister and Missus walk in and see the painting and immediately fall in love with it. Lovely! But there’s a problem. They want to take it home RIGHT NOW. I can’t do that since the painting is for a show and MUST be up at least for the opening reception. Also, the other thing is that it hadn’t been sold in the gallery! This means that the commission doesn’t have to be split (ordinarily).  Now this is where it gets tricky.

Mister and Missus want to take the painting home NOW and they can’t. I have to retain it and let the gallery know it has been sold even before they have seen it, and it must go through the gallery for sale and removal. This is the right thing to do. So I contact the gallery first, explain the situation and then contact Mister and Missus. Their disappointment is abated when I tell them it needs to be up for the Opening Reception of my show and will be the HIGHLIGHT of it. They are delighted and everything goes ahead.

Now the moral here is, if you have gallery representation and you sell work outside the gallery that is meant for a show with them, your moral compass will point the way to do what is right for both of you. I told my gallery up front about the situation. Yes, I split my commission with them, that’s just the way it has to be. And what I got out of it was that my gallery worked very hard to sell a few more pieces of mine. They were happy I was honest, I was happy and carried no guilt. And the people who bought it? Their painting highlighted my show, got great reviews and comments, and it now hangs happily in a home where these people enjoy it.

Being Here Now, the Present Moment August 18, 2012

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August is the peak of the summer, a time when the season brings almost-fruition to the previous months’ endeavors. I am speaking of my own work completed as an artist this year so far. All the work I had to do for my recent solo art show was completed at the end of July, delivered, framed, and catalogued. The show went on and was a huge success with around 300 people coming out to see my work. Yes, there were sales as well as countless favorable comments. But this isn’t the reality of success.

Success is the path itself, the path leading to one’s own personal vision. It includes all the trials, failures, frustrations, and tears along with the insights, the ‘ah-ha!’ moments, the joys and well-wishes from those who support our

Art Show 2012

process. It can’t be any other way…this is life, the reality of struggling and staying with the process. Never give up. Never give up, and again, never give up! Each moment is a brilliant moment no matter what it looks like to others. Being present in the here and now is the only way to attain the richness of your own journey in the incremental moments that lead to inspiration, revelation, dedication and achievement. Without all of this in place success is only a wish.

I don’t wish away my life, I show up every day with a thought to attend to whatever this day alone will bring. I keep working at what I love doing. For me, there’s nothing else I would rather be than who I am, doing what I love…being an artist.

Places in the Summer Sun July 15, 2012

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Cool Water 1

 My newest show ‘Places in the Summer Sun’ will be featured at the Art Beat Gallery this August. I have painted several locations capturing impressions of the height of the season’s light during summer. These paintings are showing a new turn in my artistic development. I had always been attracted to pattern created by light/dark, cool/warm contrasts. In my years as an artist, I had tried many different ways to capture what I was seeing and in the process had tried to emulate other great painters’ styles. Well, this works to a degree but it just wasn’t satisfactory.

In my journey, what I have learned is that passion, perseverance, and not giving up even when the going is very frustrating is worth the effort to stay the whole way. My work has, I feel, now become my own voice. In other words, I am now singing my own song. I have learned from many great artists and all have contributed to my skills and development. I no longer paint pictures of nice places, etc. I paint from my heart. I let the painting tell me what it needs to say. This is my expression of what I see. I am fully engaged with my creative process utilizing everything I know to this point in my journey, how to get that painting the way it needs to be stated. These new pieces in my show are the result of my  believing in what I know to be true for me.

A Short Note May 19, 2012

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Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl EarringI’ve just returned from Europe and have been freshly inspired by all the wonderful art and paintings I saw. It is overwhelming in some ways, simply because there was so much to take in. However, since I am currently painting like my hair is on fire for my upcoming exhibition in August, and for a new gallery, current work I have done is still on the easel and/or drying. As I get closer to the opening day, I will post some of these paintings into my gallery sections.

What I did discover in Europe was how well preserved many of the famous paintings were. The art museums that own them have gone to great lengths to recover, through careful cleaning and specially finishing the surfaces of many of them, the original state these paintings would have looked upon completion. For example, the saturation of Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ was outstanding in its freshness, color intensity, and emotional appeal. It could have been painted yesterday. It was certainly one of my favorites in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The brillance and skill of these artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Eyck, and so many more of the Dutch and Flemish masters in particular, still defines, to me, the importance of classical training. Their understanding of all the elements of what makes a great painting is still the standard we use today. Viewing their work has re-inspired my direction and the seriousness of how I wish to pursue my own work. I can say with certainty that I wlll be re-acqainting myself with these great works over and over again.