Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Challenge

Since Marilu and I are not in the same state we needed to find ways to keep motivated. We both need deadlines and shows to motivate us to work. Even though we need to create art sometimes life gets in the way and our art gets pushed to the back burner of I will get to it tomorrow.

The last time we got together for our long lunch at the Common Market in Frederick, MD we talked about art, families, life, art, kids, art...We have talked about this project in the past and now we are going to do it! What you ask??? Tag Team Art - we will both start a piece of work on an 11X14 surface. Then we will mail the unfinished piece to each other and we will work on that piece. Send it back again to continue working on it till one or both of us feel it is done.

I started my piece this morning.  As many artists do I came up with an idea in the middle of the night. I will do a piece of coffee stained Rives BFK paper. Once it is dry I will take a look at it and see what image it calls out for me to do. I am thinking animals, maybe in the theme of South Africa, Alaska or more specific birds, east vs. west coast birds. So many options so little time.

Our plan is to have these pieces done by October and they will be on exhibit for the Fine Arts in the Valley group show. This show will be held at Country Pleasures Farm. More on that as it gets near.

For now, the challenge has begun - tag - you are it! My goal is to finish the raven piece and to work on this mystery piece this week. I hope to have this tag team art in the mail next week. Your challenge friends, family and fans is to see if you can tell the difference between my drawing and Marilu's.  I love a good challenge!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Close to done on so many levels

Next week sometime I plan to have the raven piece I started last month done. Trying to set a deadline for myself as I seem to work better with a little pressure. Today the movers are bringing the rest of my studio from VA to AZ. I have enough things in VA for a smaller drawing room. Left lots of art for shows coming up.

Today, tomorrow and the rest of the weekend will be devoted to putting shelves together, unpacking boxes and finding places to store it all. It will be nice to have all my fun toys here, paper making, bookmaking, even one of the small presses to do a little printmaking. Just one more week of craziness and then I will think about other challenges...more on that when I blog next which may be in a day or two. Marilu feel free to jump in on the "challenge"...tag you are it!

Till then I leave you with baby quails from my backyard.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Working again....

There's nothing like an application for an interesting show to get the creative juices flowing.  I've been in a 'funk' lately.  There's not a magic pill for a just have to work through it and let it run it's course. 
Last year an organization was formed that I found very exciting.  I applied for membership straight away.  It's the International Society of Scratchboard Artists, and when the applications went out for their first major show, I was inspired.
Linda and I spent several days last Fall seeking out subjects from the abundance of waterfowl at Chincoteague National Sea Shore in Virginia.  Once we found a way to diffuse the mosquitoes--we photographed and sketched to our Wild heART's content!  Several good pieces of art resulted.  One of mine has already sold at a regional show, and another one was juried into the ISSA show.  Now I'm looking forward to attending the reception and workshops, and anticipating more inspiration.  It doesn't hurt that this will all take place in the California wine country.  It will be like going home. 
An event like this is what I've needed to 'de-bunk the funk'.  Therefore you can expect more posts on the blog from the east coast half of this pair.  But more importantly, I'm working on new art; scouring my sketchbooks and photo files and wondering what took me so long to see the possiblilites.
Life is good!!!!!
                                                   'Tri-colored Herons: Chincoteague' 


I have agave plants in my yard. The agave grows slowly, sometimes known as the "century plant" because it takes a century for it to bloom and then it dies. Well, it really does not live that long just to bloom and die. But, depending on soil, weather, etc. it will live a long time. I have two that are blooming now, which means they will also die soon. But, before they die they grow a tall stalk with flowers that become fruit and at the base the plant send out new plants. I am looking forward to watching this process. The birds, bees, and butterflies are loving all the flowers blooming.

The agave is native to Mexico, South America and the Southwest United States. It can produce a sugarcane substance from the stalk, agave nectar (syrup), the fibers can be used for weaving, nails have been made from this plant. It is a very beneficial plant.

One of my pastels from plein air event at Desert Botanical Gardens
One of the best known products that the Blue Agave, Agave azul makes is mezcal. A form of mezcal is tequila. The true blue agave is found in Mexico where the tequila is made. The plant seen most often in the southwest is the Agave americana. The agave has been developed as a garden plant. It can have several shades of green, blue-green, yellow-green and be variegated. They can be seen in several parts of the world but need to be protected from frost. I love discovering all these native plants where ever I am west coast or east coast there is always something new to find.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A matter of perspective

What we see, how we see can be a matter of perspective. Where we are, which coast, time of day, standing, sitting or cat's eye view.
I love the way the mist comes off of the New River and floats through the trees in VA. Which was just last week.

Being back in AZ I watch the sun rise each morning from behind the mountains out my back door. Captivated by the aerial perspective. I looked up the definition to make sure I had the information correct. - aerial perspective (n) a technique of rendering depth or distance in painting by modifying the tone or hue and distinctness of objects perceived as receding from the picture plane, especially by reducing distinctive local color and contrasts of light and dark to a uniform light bluish-gray color.

A lot of words to say as you go back in distance objects get lighter and softer. This effects has been something I try to capture in my work. As I do not do a lot of long distance landscapes, I look at the effects of fog and mist. The detail that is lost as you look into the woods on a rainy morning.

Learning to look at things differently, observe the space around you, take in the colors of the sky, the mountains, the trees from morning till sunset. Is the sky blue in the morning or at sunset, ever see a yellow sky? Purple mountains? What color is water? Sometimes you just need to look at things from a different perspective.
Whisper exploring his new home in AZ
Whisper hearing new bird sounds

Thursday, May 17, 2012

To slither, swim or stay on shore

Continuing with the walk around Pandapas Pond yesterday there was lots of activity on land and in the water. The Pond is stocked with trout, we saw one man with three, each about one foot long. Not everyone was having the same luck that he did. A very large snapping turtle, who will apparently comes up on shore and helps himself to any fish unattended to was just hanging around waiting for an opportunity. Painted turtles were sunning themselves on logs. Along the shore line doing a little fishing himself was a common watersnake. At least that is what I think it was from researching snakes, the second closest was a kingsnake. Neither are harmful to humans.

Lots of birds, bluejay, red tailed hawk flying overhead, Canada geese in the water, a black bird with yellow-orange beak on a log in the water, checked my bird books, most likely a Starling. The beak was just to bright to be a blackbird. These are just a few that were on call plus others too far or too high to identify. Butterflies were checking out all the wildflowers and trees in bloom.

On the far end of the pond is a beavers den. Lots of geese hang out in that area. Did not have the time to wait for beaver but they apparently are there and have no plans to leave. I have tried getting pictures of beavers before, a bit difficult. The dark color of the beaver against the dark water and the dark den makes it a bit challenging to get the shot without using flash. One day I will spend time trying to get some good photos of the beaver. Could make for a fun little drawing.

On the road again tomorrow, will check back in over the weekend until then go outside.

Painted Turtles on log


Snapping Turtle

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Walk around the Pond

A well deserved break came today with a walk around Pandapas Pond, Jefferson National Forest just outside Blacksburg, VA. I wanted to see if the wild rhododendron where blooming. They were not, they are in bud but many other things were flowering.

It was a nice late morning stroll, with a small camera in hand that I had not used before I found lots of things to practice taking pictures. As we have seen with so many things this year, there were nice early surprises in bloom. The mountain laurel was popping, it touched my heart and brought back many good memories of living in the woods. They generally bloom the end of May - first of June. Wild azalea were out too, beautiful orange flowers. On the ground a lovely flower with leaves attached, I was not sure but looked it up in my handy National Audubon Society Pocket Guide - it was a Yellow-poplar or Tuliptree.

It was just a little bit of inspiration that I needed. There is something special about walking into nature, sharing that moment in time with others, with the flowers, the bees, the trees, the creek, the clouds and the sky.

Tomorrow the wildlife that can be found in and around the pond.

wild azalea


Tuliptree blossom & leaves

Mountain Laurel

Pandapas Pond

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I am in VA at the moment....packing up part of my studio to ship to AZ. Life has been non-stop motion over the last couple of years. Here, there, everywhere, some travel for fun, some for life changes, some for work, and some for love.

Trying to think ahead, something most artist learn to do well as we have to plan art shows a year to two in advance. As I pack up part of the studio, I need to think what do I need to leave for a workshop I am teaching in July at Common Ground on the Hill.
What do I need to leave for shows coming up this fall, Fine Arts in the Valley at Country Pleasures Farm in MD and at the National Conservation Training Center in WV. And what am I going to bring to new gallery in Roanoke, VA - Gallery 108. Located at 108 Market St., Roanoke, VA

So, I have one room that was my drawing room - now filled with lots of work, paper, and anything I could think of that I might need between now and the end of the year. The rest of my studio is boxed up waiting for the movers to come Tuesday or Wednesday. As our theme song seems to be - "on the road again" this applies to my art, equipment and studio space.

Studio in Blacksburg, VA

Studio in a Box

I have come to discover over the years that home is where the heart is and I guess that applies to art studios too!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Coyote in my front yard

As I am making coffee I heard a noise by the front window. I look out to see a coyote inches from me. So, you know it, I grab my camera and start taking some pictures. There were 3 of them on the hunt. Coyote: canis latrans
Know as a Trickster or Wise One in Native American Lore. They are adaptable, social animals that vary in color from grays to browns. They can be seen pretty much anywhere in the country even in my front yard.

What's That Sound???

You know you are in Wyoming when you wake to the sound of horses. With limited wi-fi service it has been a lot harder to get blogs written a...