Friday, August 31, 2012

Art of the Computer: friendly enemy

Computers and digital cameras are equipment that most artists use and need. Last year I spent the time transferring and backing up files from one laptop to the other. Even though you think you are doing a good thing. When you need those files and go to open them up they aren't exactly what you had saved. Each computer even though it is the same brand has some new way of formatting. Old programs that you loved are not the same and anything that you saved to that program now needs to be re-formatted or completed re-entered.

So, why am I going on and on about this...I spent the last 2 hours trying to find my mailing list. It is saved on my back-up hard drive and I tried to "import" it to the new computer. I thought I had it on the new computer but opened all my files and can't find it!!! The laptop does not accept the "format" and when I open it via the back-up hard drive well it comes up in English but the files show up at an angle. I did play with them to get them in columns and have printed off a hard copy just in case I lose it all.

Now do I re-enter them into this lap top? Do I hand write the post cards I wanted to print labels for this morning? Do I wait and see if the old CD that I set my mail list up on is in AZ? Maybe I will do a little of this and a little of that. Because computers are really great when they work but when they don't it can really eat into the time you thought you might have to do a little drawing.

Okay, off my soap box and moving on...breath, enjoy the clear almost fall day.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Touch of Seasoning

Driving down the road yesterday I saw my first real sign of fall. A big ole tree that was full of color, orange, yellow, red...I thought wow already but it is almost Labor Day and with September comes cooler weather. The cool air sends those signs to Mother Nature that it is time to settle in for a winter nap.

As the fall brings such lovely colors it is a time to capture some of those special moments. Go out for hikes, walks, pho-hiking...a kind of gentle hike where you stop a lot to take pictures. Do some plein air painting or just take a moment to breath.

I have been preparing work for the upcoming show in October in Middletown, MD. But, for the next month I will be working on new pieces. The fall is a great time for the arts. Lots to see and lots to do, lots of inspiration from nature. Can't wait to see what inspires me next!!!

Look close and you will see a Great Blue Heron on the branch

Saw this little guy driving along the Blue Ridge 

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Day of Passion

Passion - Finding your passion - finding who & what, you love.  Being motivated by your passion, enjoying what you do, the desire to continue, satisfaction and love. It is my 29th wedding anniversary today. So, love is in the air.

While Rick is at work, I am working to find the balance, time & energy to organize my passion for art. There are days when I get lost in the creation of art. I love those days. Then there are the days for the business of art. Doing inventories, framing, packing and finding the right piece for the right show. Not always my favorite part of being an artist but finding the balance is important. Balancing life, love and passion, the order of the day.

Peach Faced Love Birds

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Got The Blues

What is Blue? Where does it come from? Too much blue yes or no? I have been accused of using too much blue in my work. And that is not a wrong statement. One of my first solo shows I realized how much I like blue. I looked around after it was hung and pretty much said, wow, I must really like blue.

ROYGBIV - Red - Orange - Yellow - Green - Blue - Indigo - Violet
This is how I learn to remember the colors in the spectrum. Color is light, the science of color is you see what is reflected and the rest of the light spectrum is absorbed. When you see white all of the colors are being reflected.

The eye/brain is often drawn to different colors. Many people are drawn to the cool side of the rainbow, the blues and greens. That would be me, cool and blue. My kids would be rolling there eyes about now. Speaking of eyes, a person with blue eyes can change the look of their eyes by the color they wear close to their face. When you are painting, drawing the colors you put next to each other affects their brightness, the intensity. This is Simultaneous Contrast, the vibration of the eye as it reacts to the perception of color. When you look at a red dot then look away you see green. The eye/brain needs to rest from that absorption of color it goes to the complement. On the color wheel the opposites red - green, blue - orange, yellow - violet.

So, this is the down & dirty of color science in art. Still does not answer what is blue, because blue is blue, it is the light and how it is reflected or absorbed. Can there be too much blue? Not for me but everyone sees things differently and that can be a good thing.

Here are a few blue pieces.

Out of the Blue

Rio Grand Gorge, A.M.

A Perfect Day

Thursday, August 23, 2012


It has often been said, that timing is everything. Well, maybe, but sometimes we are the timing. Finding time, making time, using time, the right time, just in time. The seasons change and along with that some states still change time springing forward or falling back. Flying from one time zone into another my mind and body often have a hard time keeping adjusted. Thank goodness for coffee!

Currently on the east coast, which at this moment is a 3 hour time differences from AZ. Spent some time in MD visiting with Marilu planning the upcoming Fine Arts in the Valley at Country Pleasures Farm. We will have lots more space in the barn then we have in past shows. The farm is owned by friends Eric & Lori Rice, it is the oldest organic farm in MD. The barn was constructed by Amish and it has a big wrap around deck which looks out over the Middletown valley.

Preparing for a group show takes a bit of planning. Lots of e-mails fly around so that everyone has the same information. PR gets flowing too, decisions are made for workshops, special artists talks, music, and who hangs what where. Some how it all comes together just in time.

Now, I just need to make a little time to re-organize my studio and plan on what works go to what shows. Maybe with some luck and the luxury of extra time a few new pieces will get made for the FAV show. It only takes time!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Thought for Today

How Many, How Much

How many slams in an old screen door?
        Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
        Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
        Depends how good you live ' em.
How much love inside a friend?
        Depends how much you give ' em.

by Shel Silverstein - A Light in the Attic

Monday, August 13, 2012

Don't Make Me Repeat Myself

Did a few day trips recently. One up to Cave Creek, AZ with my friend Sarah. We stopped in some of the southwest shops that carry lots of "stuff". They make for interesting photographs and remind me to think of design in my own drawings/paintings.

Repetition and patterns can bring a viewer into your art work. It can also carry them right out again. Color, shape, movement are the elements that can speak to someone. Abstract, pop art need these  elements as well as realism. Design, composition, contrast, repetition and pattern. Just a few things that give harmony to your work.

Warhol knew how to use repetition - who has not seen his Marilyn's or Campbell's Soup Can? But, repetition does not always have to be so bold. I work in series which is another form of repetition. I will do drawings using the same object but in different positions, shapes or sizes. Such as rocks, feathers, leaves, even animals. The more I study something the better I know it's contour, shadows and colors.

Sometimes it is just fun to look at something a little differently. To explore new areas, go back to old ones and see what you might have missed.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Boom! Pow! Bang!

It is a hummingbird Sunday, we have two types that hang around here most of the time. The Anna and the Black Faced hummingbirds. They are larger the the Ruby Throated you see back east. They may be more aggressive or more comfortable or maybe both. As I am sitting here this morning as usual with my morning coffee they are flying all around. The main Anna is protecting his territory to the point that there is a fly-by so close to my head that the wings hit my ear. I have heard them as they crash into each other. They are little warriors. One is doing a little dance in front of the mesquite tree, tail flared, moving side to side, up and down. Not sure if that is a display of power or a little dance. Either way they are a funny little bird and I enjoy sharing my mornings with them.

Here are a few pictures from not only my back yard but from different gardens in AZ and if I can find it maybe MD too.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Leaping Lizards

Lots going on this week, lots of wildlife passing by too. The coyotes have been around, yesterday the road runner was in the back yard, the peach faced love birds have been in the neighborhood and of course the great horned owl.

We have had a few different lizards in the yard and on the walls. Our cat Whisper was trying to figure out how that lizard was able to walk across the wall. It was a pretty good sized desert spiny lizard. We have had smaller "sand" lizard, they apparently vary a great deal in colors and patterns but are small guys about 3 or 4 inches.

I think the bright yellow and black bird we have seen is a Hooded Oriole which is generally found in Texas but we get lots of birds just passing through. Since we have been keeping the hummingbird feeders full the birds have found our little stop over on their travels. The hummingbirds are not thrilled but they deal.

Desert Spiny Lizard

Hooded Oriole

peach faced love birds

sand lizard

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Getting it together- Fine Arts in the Valley 2012

Fine Arts in the Valley has been around since the late 1990's. I started working with the group around 2000. The core group Marilu Tousignaut, Homer Yost & myself have kept the domain name and set up a new web site:

Previously the Fine Arts in the Valley was an artists tour. Marilu & I set up the barn at Country Pleasures Farm as our gallery space. Over the years things have taken different directions. The FAV core group turned into the Mountain Laurel Show. That show was held at my home/studio in the woodlands of Frederick, MD when the mountain laurel were in full bloom. I have since moved leaving the group with no place to show together. Lori & Eric were happy to have the group come back to the barn. Joining the three of us from the Mountain Laurel show is Marilu's daughter, Tracy Tousignaut Reed and my friend Sarah Simpson. In addition this year my daughter, Beccy Lynch will be included in the Fine Arts in the Valley at Country Pleasures Farm.

Tracy has set up a Face Book page please "like" us to continue getting updates on what the artists are doing to get it together for the show.

The exhibit is two weekends: October 12-13-14 and 19-20-21, 2012. The artists: Linda Harrison-Parsons, works on paper, Marilu Tousignaut, scratchboard - fiber works, Homer Yost, sculpture - drawings, Tracy Tousignaut Reed, photograph, Sarah Simpson, photograph and new this year Beccy Lynch, jewelry. The group is by invitation and a jury process by the core group of artists. We will all have our works under one roof sharing the Amish built barn on the grounds of the Country Pleasures Farm in Middletown, MD. The views are as amazing as the art work.

As I am getting it together, I will work on putting together a photo album of the artists works. Until then here are a few pictures of the farm & the artists works. Enjoy, mark your calendars!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Finders Keepers

This morning as I am having my usual coffee outside doing what I said I would do - sketching hands. I even did a blind contour left handed. I normally work right handed. It is good to switch hands now and again makes the brain work differently. But, while I am out there my son, John has me come over and look at something under a bush. Kind of looks like a rock, yet it has a big split down the back. I push, touch, move it around and out it comes with a stem that is a pretty bright yellow. The top a soft beige color but the inside where it is split is dark brown. Kind of looks like a mushroom. Did not know that mushrooms grew in AZ without a lot of special human care. So, did a little sketch of it too. Have not had time to take pictures yet hope to post them tomorrow. I love when you find those unexpected treasures of nature. If I can keep it fresh enough long enough I will do a little color sketch. I, of course will take photos of it and have those as reference but something like this is so much fun to draw from life. It falls under my category of plein air up close and personal.  Since I do not have the mushroom to show I will just add a few other images that were done in plein air. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Namaste-derived from Sanskrit "Namah" - bow "te" short for tubhyam - to you...I bow to you - a greeting or valediction upon parting. Good day, to be well, a non-contact form is to bring your hands together in front of the chest with a slight bow, a form of respect. "The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine Spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra." Wikipedia

So, to all, Namaste. When I hear, see or use this word/gesture I think yoga. Yoga makes me think calm. Sometimes, my mind and body get so wrapped up in so many things it is hard to find moments of calm. I am trying to find the calm in today. Life always presents lots of changes. Trying to go with the flow, take a breath and calm our soul is not always easy.

I continue to try to tap into that Divine Spark. Everyone has their own personal Spark, each person has their own special talent. Some see things more clearly, some listen better, some can transfer what they see to paper, some capture the emotion of life around them and create. As I go down this bunny trail Namaste, yoga, calm, makes me think of projects still in the back of my head that one day I hope to develop. One of those projects has to do with hands. I love to look at hands. I especially loved my Mother's hands, they were not pretty hands but they were the hands of a woman who worked hard. I think for the next few mornings I will have to draw some hands. Until then Namaste.

My Mom

Tomy with his guitar
my hand drawing
Lori picking blueberries

Margie my Mother-in-Law playing cards

Marilu spinning yarn
a gentleman at New Market Days 

Andi Burchette preparing to draw

Sunday, August 5, 2012

So far So good

The morning sketches are going pretty well even if I don't use the same sketchbook all the time. It is time to work and practice what I preach. I believe that strong work comes from the basic skills. Drawing is one of the best ways I know of to keep myself fresh.

In doing this new morning sketch I am trying to review some technical aspects. Contour drawing, cross contour, working loose, and giving myself time limits. Contour drawing is done by looking at your subject putting pencil to paper following with your eye and hand the contour of that object. It can be done as a blind contour by not looking down at your paper. Often leaving you with amusing looking drawings. Once you get a little practice they can become very nice. Cross contour is what I tend to do more, same idea as the contour but you can cross over your lines to build the interior of the image. I am trying to loosen up my work leaving areas of detail. Limiting time, since I do this with my morning coffee I try to have it done in that time frame. Sometimes if I am having too much fun I may get a refill and draw a little longer.

One of my favorite books to inspire returning to drawing is "The Natural Way To Draw" by Nicolaides. The book breaks down the techniques, gives you examples and practice work. I may not follow it step by step, I have tried but I do like to review this book now and again to refresh myself.

As a bonus for doing what I said I would do, the great horned owl came to visit tonight. He sat on the fence for a long time, then flew up into a mesquite tree where we could see his eyes looking at us like we were a bit crazy.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Time - taking time - division of time - prioritizing time - my time...

Sometimes it is hard to make the time to work, to create, to get things done in general. Trying to do this blog each morning, well mostly mornings takes time. I think about what the weeks topics may be, not that this will be what I write about but I do take the time to think about what to write.

The mornings have become my time, I sit outside with my coffee, do my sketch, take photos, work on the computer and do the blog. When those things are done I try to give my body a little time to work out. In between all these things I meditate in small  moments of time. Like this morning, as I listen to the hummingbirds, I have realized that the type and size of the hummingbird makes a difference in the sound of their wings. That the peach faced love birds that have been hanging around the last couple of weeks sound like a child's squeeze toy. I have seen an increase in dragonflies and birds in general.

The monsoon season brings gentle breezes in the mornings. I watch the small leaves and branches of the mesquite tree sway. I listen to the leaves rustle in the bottle neck tree. As the sun comes up from behind the mountains I feel the increase of the heat telling me it is time to go inside.

I have always worked better with a little pressure knowing a show or deadline is just around the corner. This year I am working harder at putting things on my calendar ahead of time so I allow myself time to do the work I want to do. Dividing my time up in sections, morning for me, mid-day for art afternoon/evening for family. It does not always go that way but it is good to have a plan.

Take time to smell the roses as they say or around here the creosote bush. Take a moment today just for yourself, look, listen and smell what wonders await.

Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA

Big Ben, England

Roses from Portland, OR

Dragonfly sculpture at Desert Botanical Gardens, AZ

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Good Works

I volunteered to do a piece for the Artists of Scottsdale Ranch auction in January 2013. They usually have one charity that the monies raised go to benefit that organization. This coming year there will be two, one of which is an animal rescue.

While teaching at Common Ground I had some photos of the cats & dogs from the shelter. I ask if any of the students used these as references for their work if they would like to donate the finished pastels to the cause I would be happy to frame them for the auction. I had two wonderful students take the challenge, one did a cat the other a dog. As we get close to the auction I will write more and post all the works. It always touches my heart to see how often people will donate and do good works.

I started thinking okay so what can I do and how do I want to approach this image? I decide to do a graphite drawing on gray Rives BFK paper just to work out the composition and pick out details. The photos came from the shelter most of the animals are in cages. I did not want the bars in my work, you have to think through the bars and look at where the details take you. I am 99% done with the drawing.

Here's where the camera becomes a tool again. I looked at the drawing last night, did a few more touches and thought I think it is done. Till I took a photo of it, there is a section  at the neck of the cat & dog that is just too much the same. I need to extend the neck of the dog and the dog in the middle his eyes are looking out into no where. The cat & dog on the right have more of that looking at you, kind of look. So, I will adjust those little things and move on to my tag team piece. Both might be done by end of day today but then again once I take a photo of it, it might need a little additional touch. I plan to do a larger pastel of the cats & dogs for the auction.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Do ewe see what eye sea

As visual artists our hands and our eyes are our main tools. As Marilu & I have been talking about lately sketching is a tool that we use to help keep that flow in our work. Like anything sports, music, cooking the more we do it the better our accomplishments. Practice, practice and patience's...

One tool that I use almost on a daily basis is my camera. What I see through my lens may be different then what you see. I try to remember to change the light setting on my camera from inside fluorescent - incandescent to direct sun or shadow. It makes a huge difference. I shoot in manual to compensate for the light being too bright at times washing my images out or back lighting making them too dark. The images I take become my reference photos, I take many pictures that are the same images but zooming in more with each shoot. When I am taking photos of wildlife I keep shooting as long as the animal will let me. Even if you are at a wildlife preserve or zoo the animals don't always sit pretty for you. Marilu and I have often come away with the "butt shot" as it walks or runs away from you. Trees for the most part stay still except in the wind, plus there are seasonal changes. Do I need another tree photograph - well maybe no - will I keep taking tree pictures - oh yea!

These pictures are not only reference but inspiration and sense memory. The emotional connection to a place helps me in creating my art. As I draw eagles or bears I think of Alaska and the trip the four of us took. The long days, the quality of the light and sharing those moments with friends. These memories, connections make my work not only personal to me but I hope it connects to the viewer and takes them on a journey.

So today, I have already done 3 little sketches with my morning coffee. Since, I just refilled my hummingbird feeders I am sure I will be taking some bird shots this afternoon. I plan to post some of the weeks sketches this weekend...until then a few photos of my favorite things.

La Luna in AZ

Aspens in CO

Dead tree Mesa Verde, CO
Close up of dead tree

Alaska, Fox Island

Alaska, Brooks River Falls

South Africa

Loon nesting, Maine
Moosehead Lake Maine

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...