Sunday, April 27, 2014

Last Dance

Today was my last chance, last dance with oil painting while in AZ. I had to stop today to allow time for drying and shipping back east. I wrapped up the last painting this afternoon. I worked on it most of yesterday, just needed to add those final touches.

I like to let works set overnight, walk back into my studio with fresh eyes and usually if there is something that needs correction/adjustment it pops out at me immediately. I was lucky today, no big issues to deal with on my last painting of the day.

The rest of the week will be busy, gallery sitting in Sedona, doing a demo while I am there for the day. Taking down work from the AZ Arts Alliance Gallery, today is the last day the gallery is open. They will be looking for a new location over the summer. The pastel show in Sedona comes down on Wednesday. The last meeting for the pastel society in AZ is this coming Sunday.

In between all of that I will be packing and shipping art back east for shows coming up this summer right through till fall. I hang the solo show first week of June at the Alumni Gallery at VA Tech. Marilu is hanging her solo show soon at the Laurel Nature Center. Next year I think we will look to do maybe a two or three woman show instead of big solo shows. It is a big time commitment and a lot of work. The good side of that is what doesn't sell at one show will move on to the fall shows.

Lots of last's this week but lots of new things on the horizon.

Oil Painting on canvas 12x36", Zebra - up front - 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Snap - Crackle - Pop

I had set my easel up outside and was happily painting away. I kept hearing this snap - crackle - popping sounds. Where were they coming from? At first I thought it had to do with the Mesquite trees but they do not have their pods dropping yet.

Stopped painting and started walking around, quickly found the trees that were dropping their pods. I am not sure this is the name, but was told it is called a bird of paradise tree. It has a lovely little yellow flower. This year it is full of pods, which I do not remember seeing so many last year. I think the extended warm weather may have something to do with that.

I love that I learn something new from nature all the time. The bottle tree is also in bloom, a non-native but very interesting tree. It has a willow like feel to it, with branches that hang down a bit, leaves are long triangle shaped, the flower a little bell and the bark has a eye shape throughout.

That's what's bloomin' this weekend. This winds are blowing today, so many of the flowering trees may be losing them this weekend.

Bird of Paradise Tree

Pods from Bird of Paradise Tree

Mesquite Tree pods

Flowers from Bottle Tree

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sacred Trees

Arbor Day is being celebrated in many states across North America. In some states it has already passed. But April is a month to remember the tree.

Trees have been special to me for as far back as I can remember. I was a Tomboy, I could climb trees with the best of them. I would go high into a tree and watch the world go by and no one knew I was there.

Trees give, they are part of our history, they are in myths, poems, songs and in our backyards if we are so lucky. Trees provide stability for the land & waterways, help clean our air, and the fruits of their labor, hmmmm, not much better then a crisp apple or a fresh fig.

The fig tree is one of the oldest food sources. It is noted for it's healing powers from the leaves, sap and fruit.

The ginkgo, thought to be the oldest tree in the world. Known in herbal medicine to be good for the heart, lungs and long life.

The sycamore tree is associated with love and joy. A symbol from Egyptian history as a Tree of Life.

"The essence of the trees has a way of touching the inner soul of mankind. Such an experience makes a person feel humble and secure. It gives meaning to our existence. That is why we say the Redwood Forest is like a church; the trees have power and are alive." Fido Davis, tribal member Chilula.

To read more about "Sacred Trees" pick up the book by Nathaniel Altman

Just a few more reasons to go hug a tree...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Knocking At My Door

The birds in my yard have been keeping me amused. One day I kept hearing this tapping noise. I now know that the loud banging on the A/C unit is the gila woodpeckers mating call. This sound was on glass, softer tapping and more then one bird. As I looked around, I saw two Gambel's Quail, tap, tap, tapping on my sliding glass door. Then had a few other birds joining the party out back. It was not that hot of a day but maybe everyone was just taking a break. Took a couple pictures, not great, since they were through the glass door but enough to make me smile.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tree Hugger

It is Earth Day, kind  of like a birthday, you celebrate one special day but everyday you are still alive, still aware and still working towards your goals. Yes, I am a tree hugger, for me everyday is earth day.

Today I will share a few of my favorite places on earth.

"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect." Chief Seattle, 1855

View from Table Mtn. South Africa


New Mexico



Desert Botanical Garden, AZ in the spring

Prince Edward Island

Monday, April 21, 2014

Don't Fence Me In

Tonto National Forest, part of the National Parks system has the Salt River running through it and wild horses. Yesterday, I went down early, it was Easter Sunday and I thought there would not be many people there. To my surprise, there were lots of families, setting up for a day of cookouts, floating down the Lower Salt River. Which is still a bit chilly.

I did not expect to see the wild horses which is what I came down for, that and a nice walk. Yet, as I walked to the river, there they were, tucked under the trees, at least half dozen of them. I had my camera with the long lens. I took a couple shots and was trying to walk down and around to get a better view. The spot I was planning to walk up, well, the horses thought I needed a better view too, so they came on down. Right in front of me, they had no concerns for me, as the head of the herd was there to protect them. They stopped on the sandy area, the male moved out into the river, watching and checking. As I looked around, there was another horse on the other side of the river, hmmmm.

I continued to take pictures, so many that I went back to my car, got my folding chair, sketchpad and pencils so I could sketch awhile. The male moved slowly across to the other side of the river. The one horse became three, I believe it was a bachelor herd. I kept my camera on my lap just in case something interesting happened.

There was a young one, very friendly and came rather close. It was amazing to see how calm they were. I know many people come down to the river just to see these wild horses. The male in the mean time had a little challenge from the bachelors. Nothing he could not handle and after a bit of a tussle, he used his body to walk them away from his harem and then they were gone. The male returned to his family as they continued to hang under the trees along the river.

What a wonderful way to spend the morning. Keeping the fences away to allow these wild horses to be part of our American Heritage.

male bonding

young one

posing just for me

Salt River Wild Horses

The Challenger

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's What's On The Inside That Counts

"Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can accomplish! And what your potential is! Anne Frank

"Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." Michelangelo

"Are we to paint what's on the face, what's inside the face, or what's behind it?" Picasso

Sometimes it is what is inside that matters most, to the birds, bees and to us all. There is something within each of these pictures. Just like life some things may be more of a challenge to see then others.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

National Parks, Sedona, Pastels

What do these things have in common? Well, it is National Parks Week, which means you can go to any National Park for no fee this weekend. I am heading up to Sedona today, just a day trip for the art opening of the AZ Pastel Artists Association spring juried show. The reception is at the Art Center, Art Barn Road, Sedona, AZ from 2:30 - 4:00. If you are in the area, drop on by and see some of the finest pastel artists in AZ.

While I am there I may check out one or two of the parks, National and or State. AZ has many parks, there is Montezuma Castle & Montezuma Well on the way up to Sedona. Tuzigoot National Park which is near Cottonwood, just a stone's throw away from Sedona. Thinking I may just go up through Cottonwood on my way to Sedona. Let the adventures begin....

Get out this weekend, take a walk in one of our nations parks. Sunday, I think I may just have to go over to Tonto National Forest. Who knows maybe I will catch a glimpse of the illusive wild horses.

Mountain Lion in the APAA show

Along Hwy 89A pulled off and did a little plein air painting

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What's Bloomin' Arizona!

EVERYTHING! As I go for my walks I see something new blooming. This year everything has been blooming early in Arizona. As the rest of the country has been dealing with too much snow and cold. The southwest has been 10 degrees warmer then normal and lacking rain. I do believe Mother Nature knows that the extreme heat is on it's way. In knowing this the flowers are blooming very early. Even the Saguaro Cactus has started to bloom, a good month earlier then I have seen before. Usually they are one of the last cactus to bloom going right into the summer. But, for now I will enjoy seeing the flowers blooming and the smell of the high desert.

Saguaro Cactus

Purple Prickly Pear

Palo Verde laying down it's yellow carpet

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


I did it, well most of it, what is it...I watched the blood moon. I watched the full moon, part of a lunar tetrad. Which come to find out is 4 lunar eclipses, that take a couple of years. There are 6 full moons in between each of the eclipses without any other partial eclipses. The term blood moon is not scientific and has no real meaning.

The moon appears to turn red because the earth is between the sun and the moon. The earth's shadow creates the lunar eclipse and color.

As I was trying to find out a little bit about Blood on the Moon this is what I discovered. It is a reference to Abraham Lincoln's assassination. There are many books with this title, at least one movie, there are folklore and Biblical references. Which after reading the reference in Revelations is not talking about a real lunar moon but the symbolic reference to people within the church. Just reporting what I have read.

Back to the experiences, being in AZ the moon was on the rise before the sky was dark. Around 10 pm the moon was high in the sky, the stars, planets where bright with no clouds and gentle winds. I was not planning to stay up as long as I did. I started taking a couple pictures just hand holding my camera. Then I saw the shadow coming across the moon and just had to watch more. I stayed until the moon turned red and called it a night, a little after midnight. Oh and I saw Mars, it's the 3rd picture down...kind of small.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Africa - Always On My Mind

Last week I had several days in the studio. Getting back into the oils I have several paintings in the works at one time. Going from one to the other while waiting for something to dry. I do not paint in a direct style, I layer, blocking in shadows first and building from there. I am trying to stay on the looser end of things with the paint but do find myself drawn back into the magic of details.

I have so many wonderful pictures from our last trip to Africa and yet I find myself intrigue by certain images. One being the hippos that were fighting in the Zambezi River. I did a small pastel of this last year. I just finished a little bit larger one in oil and think that at some point it may grow to an even larger piece.

There is a format theme showing up in my work. The long and narrow image. I do like different and this is a direction I have gone before and looks like I am back again. This time it has consumed most of the images I am working on, guess it will be the style of the show I will be hanging in June. Sometimes in art it is just best to go with the flow.

"Zambezi Power" oil on canvas 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Temporary Art

How would you feel after working for 8 hours on a piece of art to know that it would be gone by the end of the month?

That is what I did yesterday. I did not think about it as temporary art. Several people did ask that question, did it upset me that it was only temporary? No was my answer. I went into this as a challenge for myself, do something I had not done before. I looked at it as a commission, I create the work, give it to the owner and generally never see it again.

There were six artists selected to create side walk murals at Desert Ridge Marketplace. Plus, they had an area set up for kids and their families to create a mural. It was a bit more difficult to get the pastels to stick to the surface then I had hoped. Once I realized that less was more, I worked in a lighter touch and line work verses blending.

It was a long day but what a wonderful way to spend a day. Working outside, not too hot, friendly people, good conversation with kids and adults. Learned to let the medium do the work, not too keep art too precious and gave myself a little challenge.

photo taken by L. Armitage


8 hours later

Kids & family mural

detail of my mural

detail of my - Animals of AZ

Mural by Caroline Watson Dubisch - Phoenix

Mural by Jose Ignacio Garcia - fire ants

Mural by Chris Leon - mother & child

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...