Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ready to Sell, Ready to Give

I received a delightful lesson last week in selling art. First and foremost you have to have the work. Seems very obvious, but as artists, we know it's not always as simple and obvious as it appears. Having a large inventory or just having "the" right piece at the right time can be tricky.

I'd just completed two new large oils, was actually taking a quick nap after I'd photographed them and was interrupted by a call from a patron who has several of my works. They were interested in a large oil that had a summer or spring look. Perfect! As luck would have it, just what I'd finished.

They stopped by the studio that night. I brought both pieces to their home the next day for approval and comparison. They selected one and also purchased a small pastel!

Lucky? Well, of course, but I also had the work, had photographed it, so they could gauge their interest, I made myself instantly available, had the capability to deliver the work, allowing for a great sale. All of the above is easier said than done. Doing the work, having all the equipment and knowledge base to photograph it, having the vehicle to deliver it at my disposal. All a lot of work. I'm glad that I was able to make the opportunity happen, but I know it takes preparation and planning to be ready! I worked out this time. Not always.

Now, about giving. I'm very excited to be connecting with a local Portland organization that mentor homeless youth. Pear. I'll be doing a training with them early next year and hopefully a couple workshops for their youth. Check them out!


Creatively Mentoring Homeless Youth

p:ear builds positive relationships with homeless and transitional youth through education, art and recreation to affirm personal worth and create more meaningful and healthier lives. Each year our programs serve almost 900 homeless and transitional young people ages 15 to 24.

I hope this blog post finds you well and enjoying the holiday season! Thanks for following and see you next year!

Happy Painting!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thinking About Thinking...from stillness to spontaneity

I've found that anything that applies to painting also applies to life. Anything that applies to life, applies to painting. No big surprise there!

This past weekend I was very fortunate to attend a retreat with the fabulous NIA instructor, Andrea Bell along with eleven other women, many of whom are also NIA instructors. We spent an amazing three day weekend at Brietenbush Hotsprings. We danced, meditated, soaked in the pools, read, ate and restored. Everything we did in the dance applied to my painting. It was amazing!

The dancing was fun and deep and joyful. Andrea made it a safe container, even amongst the women who didn't know one another very well. I felt cared for and supported. It was also a challenging weekend for me. I don't do cold very well! We hit a cold snap that dropped temps to the single digits making the short walks to the lodge, cabins and hot springs a bit chilly! The up side to the cold was the beauty of the snow laden landscape, the frost, the steam the stars!

photo by Kim Campbell

photo by Kim Campbell

photo by Kim Campbell

photo by Kim Campbell

photo by Kim Campbell
I was grateful to travel and room with a lovely new friend from Portland who just so happens to be a professional photographer! Kim Campbell. We had much in common to talk about as women business owners. She took these cool photos of Breitenbush and gave permission for me to post them. Thank you, Kim!

The weekend included a lot of introspection for me. Dancing is all about energy and expression of energy; knowing when to go big and when to go small. When your body needs to heal and when to push yourself a little to the edge. Painting is exactly the same; knowing when to go big, when to slow down and make smaller moves, when to push yourself in new directions to grow. Wow!

In my painting and in my life, I expend a lot of energy thinking about thinking. I roll things over and over and over in my head. This can be exhausting. This thinking about thinking causes me to sometimes hesitate and get stuck in both painting and stuck in other realms of my life. Over the weekend, we played with moving from stillness to action a lot. Working on "doing" spontaneously and organically is important to me. Learning not to expend lots of energy on the over-thinking and hesitating. Choosing well and going. Stillness to action.

This reminds me that I have a friend who decided to do a cleanse. He wanted to narrow his choices of what to eat or not to eat during his cleanse. He felt he was expending way too much energy, time and money on choices around food. By limiting choices, he was able to move through his day with much more ease and less hesitation. My Variation series was much the same. I narrowed my choices down...the same size and proportion, the same composition. I took away all but a few of the variables, thus giving myself more energy to explore and move spontaneously through the whole project.

One of the principles of NIA is Life as Art...beautiful!!! As always, happy painting!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Having Everything We Need

In my last post, I suggested that we need to give ourselves the gift of abundance in painting.Since writing that post, I've had a few more thoughts on the subject!

I believe we already have everything we need to be painters and compassionate beings. One hopefully goes with the other! We sometimes think that if we only had a better set of pastels or more paint, or had better reference photos or more training we'd paint more; waiting for some future condition to manifest so we can do the work that we have dreamed of doing. Waiting for the perfect conditions to arise will simply never happen. Perhaps take the view that the conditions are perfect right this very moment. Better to do it badly, than not at all. Hopefully painting often and with some intention will bring desired results, but it will most likely also bring a great deal of joy no matter.  It's a journey worth the frustration and fear that can come up.

I have a friend who is a struggling artist, but is very committed to being a full time artist. He scrapes by every month, but he paints and continues to get his name out there and to improve his skills. He paints on anything he can find and with any paint he can get his hands on.

I also have students that buy extremely large pastel sets and sit frozen in front of them and students who feel, if the only they had such and such pastel, their piece would work.

People ask how I pick a particular toned paper for a particular piece; do I choose it because it is complimentary or analogous to my intended reference? Honestly, I usually use whatever is in the drawer! If I always waited for the right paper,  or a complete set of pastels, I'd seldom paint.

I've overcome the fear of scarcity that runs really deep for most of us. It's a hard one, but after years of being self-employed, I conquer it most of the time. And, I'll paint with whatever I have on hand, whether or not it's the best quality or the "right" thing. Gosh, I'll use house paint and cardboard in a pinch. My thought is to just paint, not over think it. Just paint.

Fresh off the easel. 48x48 oil on canvas

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Three Ways to Improve Your Painting Today!!

Ok, this sounds a little like a sales pitch. Well, to be honest it is. But not in the way you think. The pitch is to get you to the easel, and make the most of this fall/winter period of painting. It's my favorite time of year to paint. I love to hunker down in my studio and get into a deep groove of painting. It's going to get cold and rainy outside, so I'll be really satisfied with time spent in my new, warm digs; I have a gas fireplace just a couple feet from my easel now, so it will be nice and toasty!!

So here's my three things to improve your painting:

1. Make a "Little" Plan

I do mean little. Whether you call it a thumbnail, a notan, a value study, it doesn't really matter. What matters is taking a few minutes to work out your composition and value plan ahead of time. This doesn't mean you stay slavishly to this plan if something else wonderful arises, it just means you'll likely not get caught by an unresolved composition which will just be magnified in the larger version.

2. Be Abundant

Yes, our materials are expensive. So is food. So is everything. I do know that if I worry about wasting, I'll waste. I will be stingy in painting and the painting will be stingy. So, I paint like the proverbial billionaire and try not to worry about it too much.

3. Be Compassionate

I try to be kind to myself and realize that not every day is going to produce a "winner", not even every other day or even every week. That's just part of the process and the "bad" ones are not just part of it but a necessary part of it. Love the bad ones as much as the "winners". You can't always be up or you wouldn't know what down was!

As Always, happy painting!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Done with Doing For a Bit!!

Having just come through an intense period of "doing", I'm ready to settle into a long period of "being". By the end of the month I will have taught two workshops, hung two shows, moved both my home and my studio space, bought a second vehicle, and filed for divorce. Phew!!

I hope I did most of it gracefully and thoughtfully, but I'll certainly be ready to head into a long, slow fall and winter, concentrating on lots of painting, reading and non-thinking activities!

I'm hesitant to plan this out too much, but rather let it be an organic unfolding of painting and drawing. At the same time, I have deadlines and shows to work toward so I will set some intentions about painting; Things like, "I will try to paint every day". Notice the "try"!! I'm not going to make a chore of it, nor will I make a set plan, rather an intention. I have some ideas for new bodies of work, but I don't intend to abandon my core of landscape painting. This is my foundation and support. The landscape supports and nourishes me, so I will stay true to that.

Fall and winter are the perfect months to nestle in and find your base. I can't wait!

Happy Painting!!!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Inviting Quiet; No Music

I've long been devoted to listening to music while I'm painting, but today it was time for quiet. I decided that bringing a more mindful approach to my painting might mean bringing quiet in. It makes painting even more solitary, but it also made for a deeper concentration on the work. This might not be for every painting session but for today, it seemed right.

I'd always maintained the idea that loud, hard hitting music helped me tune out other thoughts that come in while painting, but actually while I'm painting, few thoughts really make their way in. I stay focused on the work, music or not; one of the beautiful things about really can't do it unless you are in the flow.

For the past year, I have purposefully chosen a quieter lifestyle; I have no T.V. or radio. I don't follow the news or popular culture. This is a choice for simplicity and calm. Today I extended that choice into my painting life. I'm so glad I did. Please share thoughts on this!

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Little Magic at Autumn Art Workshops

Sometimes a little magic just happens. Maybe it's luck, maybe, maybe good planning, or good karma. I don't know about any of that for sure, but what I do know for sure is that something really special happened in Halsey, NE along with my both of my classes of twenty happy motivated, hard working, kind-hearted students.

We had fun, we dug deep, we laughed, we cried, got a little frustrated, had break throughs, aha moments, got dog tired, ate too much, slept too little and made art, lots of good art.

How much can you pack into eight days. For myself, I taught folks a few things I think I have a little experience about,I learned quite a few things, I painted, I read, meditated, ate too much, walked, played loud music, watched the moon and the stars, sat by a bonfire and made friends. It was really one of the most memorable workshops for me so far and I'll go home revived not tired and spent. Thank you Autumn art workshops and thank you to all my lovely students!! Keep painting and keep painting after that. Stay in touch and if you need me to tell you when to stop, just call!

4H Camp Lodge
First Session working hard!
Collette working hard!
Layne staying loose!
Our classroom
Evening walk
Session I group pic
Raleigh, one of the other instructors doing a plein air demo.
Shy turkeys
Another evening walk
Beautiful bull snake
More walking!

Justine's studies
Beautiful evening for a fire!
View from the lookout tower

Group pic, session II

Last night walk with Kathleen and Cheri!

Kathleen and Cheri

Sunrise this morning

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Busy, Busy!!

After my knee surgery, I indulged in a slower pace with lots of naps and reading time. I read some books that I've been longing to get to! I must be recovering because I've gotten most of my energy and stamina back as well as my urge to paint. Last week I finished a large 4x4 piece before heading to the coast for a couple days of unparalleled beauty, meditation, reading, music and star gazing. I think that was enough to fill my cup for quite a while and inspire me to keep on the path of painting. Today was paying medical bills,(yuck), cleaning the kitchen floor, photoshop, emails, then an afternoon of pastel painting followed by an evening of acrylic painting. I love it when a day is a mix of different kinds of energy and none of it is at odds or gets you off track. This is of course tricky, but when you can keep in the flow and let all of it be thoughtful, even throughout the seemingly mundane parts of your day, it's pretty beautiful and rewarding.

Neskowin, Oregon

Proposal Rock,Neskowin, Oregon

Under-painting for new piece
 Friday, I'm off to Halsey, Nebraska to teach for Autumn Art Workshops. I'm so looking forward to seeing some familiar faces, having two FULL classes, more star gazing, firepits and lots of painting!!
I'm such a lucky woman! Happy painting!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

New Gallery Relationship - Art Elements in Newberg

Yesterday I delivered the first group of works to Art Elements Gallery in Newberg, Oregon. I hope that these are the first of many, many pieces that are lucky to hang in this elegant space on the threshold of Oregon's wine country. I feel fortunate to be amongst such great artists such as Theresa Andreas-0'Leary, Romona Youngquist, Lori Latham,Don Bishop, Brenda Boylan, Mike Baggetta, and Molly Reeves, just to name a few.

Starting a new gallery relationship is always really exciting and this is especially true for me working with Art Elements being a such a lovely, professional, local gallery. It will be easy to make sure they have new fresh work and driving out to the wine country, taking in the beautiful views can't be bad!

After taking care of details at the gallery, lunch at a great local spot recommended by Sarah...Recipe.
I indulged in a big hamburger and spent a lovely time under a canopy of trees on their patio.
Then we ventured onto some back roads to scout possible painting locations. I'd brought my gear, but in the end, my knee wasn't quite ready for a roadside plein-aire afternoon. So we skipped painting and instead took pictures and stopped at a local fruit stand and got some great plums.

Recipe, Newburg Oregon

If you're in Newberg, stop by the gallery and check it out! In my next posting I'll talk a little bit about gallery representation and some of my experiences with galleries!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Small Space, Small Moves

Small Space, Small Moves

Right before my ACL surgery, I moved my studio to a tiny room inside my townhouse. Giving up my luxiously large, but expensive studio space was actually liberating. It felt good to be compact. It was necessary to be really organized and functional in the small space. Surprisingly in my little temporary space of 10x14, I was able to program the studio in much the same way that I did in the large space.

I hadn't spent very much time painting in the new digs and I still haven't. I don't really have the stamina yet to sustain a long painting session. My goal is to get in there for about two hours each day until I can extend that a little. Sitting while painting is difficult for me, but if I want to spend any time at all at the easel, I have to adjust for a while. I spent about thirty minutes on a new piece and then realized that I can't do that yet. I have to set a timer for 10 or 15minutes and then get up and move around.

I've also set up a small space in my kitchen for sketching. I'm very interested in going back to the basics of drawing and developing that again. I bought three new sketchbooks; one for oservational,(drawing what I see while I'm out and about), one for imaginings and muses, and one for animals. I'm excited to reconnect with line, gesture and the tools of drawing.

Making Time to Paint

Many of my students are women who are about to retire or have just retired and want to paint for the pleasure of it and maybe even perhaps work into selling at some point. Most are quite serious painters who have already found the joy of painting in pastel.

The problem is time. No matter how much we want to, it's difficult to carve out time to paint amid a still busy work/home life; the amount of time it takes to really put on some mileage.

When I say that mileage is really the key to becoming a better painter, I believe that it's not just mileage as in aimlessly stabbing away at painting. I think that mileage should be very intentional.

Here are a few thoughts when you are trying to maximize your painting time.

  • Pick a theme and stay with it for a while. It can be as simple as skies or trees or apples
  • Pick a size that is not too large so that you don't have too much ground to cover and work in just that size for a bit.
    Have you paper picked out and the size of your image marked off
  • Have several reference photos already picked out, so when you do have time to paint, you already know what you're going to work on instead of being overwhelmed by the ominous question of what to paint!
  • When you begin a painting session, start with the intention of working on just one or two things such as “today I'm concentrating on soft edges” or “today I'm working on mark making”
  • Work it out ahead by creating two or three thumbnails. This will save time, big time! Time invested in thumbnail sketches will really help you use whatever time you do have to your best advantage. How many times have you found that you had not worked out a composition and then had to either struggle to rectify it, start all over again or even abandon it altogether.

    • Be organized; if your materials are set to go, then when you do have time, you won't be spending it on finding your stuff. I like having my pastel box pretty organized for this reason too.
  • Don't expect to always create a finished piece, play experiment and find the joy in painting

  • Set realistic goals such as "I'm going to spend 4 hours a week painting" and try to stick with that

If you are realistic and make things comfortable and easy for yourself, your chances of regularly getting to the easel are good. By making a few simple preparations you'll set yourself up for more success at gaining that mileage which will ultimately lead to reaching your artistic goals.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ice Baby, Ice!!

Ok, I had my ACL repair surgery on Thursday of last week. I'm writing about it on this blog although seems as though it has little to do with painting, I kind of find that everything has to do with everything, so here goes;

It's been a week of surrender and boredom and humility! So many things come up. Small obstacles loomed large, giving me much more empathy for people that have handicaps or are impaired. Learning to ask for help when you need it and knowing for certain what your physicals limits are has been a huge lesson for me.

After surgery, I had no pain. I'd had a nerve block, so my leg was essentially a lead weight. I was immediately put on three pieces of equipment, an icing pump that continuously circulates ice and ice water around the knee and leg, a continuous motion device that very, very slowly bends the knee at a certain rate and degree and a big knee brace that needed to be worn whenever I was up and about, (they called this ambulating!). Getting to a hotel,( my home has two steep flights of stairs before you reach a bathroom, not an option), with this equipment and setting it all up properly and quickly was a challenge for my mom and I. We did it though.

I had to be on the motion device for the first 24hrs. and changing the ice out every four hours. We were diligent about keeping up this regime throughout Thursday and Friday. Come Friday night, I had a good friend take over for my mom. Good thing too, because it was challenging for her and she needed a break. Just as my friend arrived, so did the pain. The nerve block subsided and the party was over. I've never taken pain medication before but the surgeon advised not to try to ride out the pain, that it would be better for my healing to take it. So I did. Friday and the whole day Saturday was riding from very painful, (I still was on the continuous motion device, now a torture device), and blissfully dreaming in a drug induced warmth. Never having taken these types of drugs before, (I missed the sixties), it was an experience for me.

Sunday morning brought relief from the pain. I only took one pain pill all day and a little Advil. I was amazed! I could even begin to put a bit of weight on it. Sunday was a good day. I actually got some sleep even though I was still on the motion and ice machines. Three hours on, three off 'round the clock. But Sunday brought some frustration too.

The hotel had originally told me that I could stay as long as I needed, but upon calling down to say, I wanted to room for two more days, they told me they were completely booked. I had to move again. When I'd originally made the reservation, it had been tough, for whatever reason, most of the local hotels had been booked so I was worried I wouldn't find another place. Fortunately I did. So Monday was shaping up to be a busy day. Mom taking me to physical therapy, and then moving to new digs. This time only for two days; a friend with an apartment with an elevator is going on vacation for three weeks and has offered her place to me while she's gone. I can take the elevator and get to my studio for a few hours a days and be safe doing it. Before this offer, I didn't really know where I was going to stay. The universe does provide.

Monday morning was checking out of the original hotel and getting to physical therapy. It was the first time I'd been really out and about, so therapy seemed like a party to me. I'd been moving slowly around my hotel room, getting the hang of the crutches, and didn't really realize that all along, I'd been able to put some weight on the leg. My therapist was optimistic and encouraging. I think so much of it is mental; learning to trust your body again. I have good range of motion and can pretty much stand on my own. Shawndee wants me off the crutches within two weeks; a good goal and ready for stairs in maybe 10 days. Much more quickly than I'd thought or read about.

I can now move around home without the brace and use it when I'm in unfamiliar territory to protect my knee. I can be up an about which means I can spend some time in the studio this week. More from the studio later in the week. Hurray!! I really owe my progress to all the help I've had and to ice!! Ice, ice, ice.

Now, what I really want is a hot shower! It's the little things!

Monday, June 17, 2013


Ok, here goes. My ACL is indeed torn and I have some micro-fractures on top of that. The surgeon looked at me and said, "well, you knew it was torn". Yes, I did. The micro-fractures means more recovery time. So, I'm about to embark on a new chapter. I wonder about making art and how I will adapt. I know I will adapt and am actually curious about how that will take shape. The way I work now is pretty physical, so will I quiet down, be more inward with the work, work smaller or slower??

How will this change manifest in the work? I start tomorrow!! I'm actually not afraid or that sad. I'm sad I won't be dancing with my buddies, but know how wonderfully joyful it will be when I get to rejoin them!! I'm not afraid of the pain or the hard work ahead. My main concern is that I will undoubtedly have to rely on the help of friends and family. This is the hardest for me, but I will have to learn to be better at this too.

I'm sure the lessons will be many...humility, compassion, self-care, patience all come to mind. I will soon learn of many more I'm sure.

Now I do some physical therapy and strengthening to get ready for surgery. I have about four weeks to wait and one workshop trip to make beforehand. Then I have a good ten weeks to rehab before my next trip and probably six to nine months before I'm back to regular routines.

But tomorrow, I paint.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Smooth Until the Last Moment

Well, I may have a new chapter in art making coming up. I may have to channel Freida Kahlo for a little bit. When our flight finally arrived in Portland after a delay, (no big deal), I turned my knee awkwardly while lugging my pastels and a heavy bag. I heard a sickening "pop" and then came the searing pain. Adrenaline is what got me off the plane and into the terminal.

I'm so lucky my mom was with me on the trip, because she got me water and made sure I could make it through the concourse. Miraculously we made it to baggage claim, not sure how. Once we where there, I'd convinced myself that my knee was OK, that is until I tried to lift one of my heavy bags off the carousel and crumpled once again to the floor. Damn. With the kindness of strangers, we gathered all our bags and headed out to get a tram to the parking lot. Not so fast. Something was happening at PDX. Emergency vehicles were formed to prevent traffic from entering the arrival area. Nobody in to pick up passengers. There were hundreds of people lined up for the trams to the outlying parking lots! Just as we made our way into the fray, I happened to see one tram down at the far end of the terminal and also saw one guy that was rolling his luggage in the empty street rather than through the now crowded sidewalk. On instinct, I turned our bloated luggage cart around 180 degrees, called to my mom to follow and headed to the last tram. Later, we found out that someone had left a backpack outside of the terminal and that they'd called in the bomb squad to clear it.

Only another miracle got us on that tram with all our stuff and me almost crawling on!! YIkes. I don't really know how we did it!!

So apparently, the sickening pop was most likely my ACL, so says the orthopedic surgeon. If you've followed my blog, you know that I'm also a dancer and need that ACL, just like I need my pastels. Dancing keeps me sane, so it's not even a question whether or not to repair it or to repair it in a way that doesn't allow for full use. So, MRI tomorrow morning, then juggling of schedules and then lots of mindfulness and surrender!! Maybe it won't be the ACL!!

So, note to self: Don't lug too much stuff, especially when you are tired.

Wish me luck. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


What a fantastic week!! Pastelists are so lucky to have this society! It was such a wonderful deal to rub shoulders with all the pastel luminaries; meeting folks whom you've long admired on the elevator and sharing plein air stories on the porch in a rocking chair. I LOVE that.

From start to finish it was a joy! I loved pulling into the hotel and having it be familiar to me; pulling our luggage and gear across the cool tile floors and anticipating the days ahead. I brought my mom with me this time and was happy she got to share in the festivities, have a better look into a big part of my world. She got to see all of us pastelists with our boxes and "stuff". We both visited with old friends and made some new ones.

For me, the convention kicked off with the Paint-Around where several pieces were worked on by four different artists. These were then auctioned off during the banquet.  Kim Lordier, Stan Sperlak, Desmond O'hagan and Deborah Stewart all worked together to create four unique pieces. Pretty fun!
Kim Lordier at the easel for the paint-around

Sunset from our room

On the Porch

Morning light
At the banquet
The banquet was Saturday nite and included a keynote speech from Jason of Xanadu Galleries. His talk was fresh, fun and informative. I loved hearing his personal story and his positive attitude.  Twenty three Master Circle recipients received their beautiful medallions and a moving tribute to Maggie Price concluded the evenings festivities.

I did two demonstrations, one first thing Friday morning after having arrived Thursday afternoon. I was nervous!! I'd prepared and prepared, but you just don't know how things will go for you until you are up there and doing your thing. Turns out, once I got going, I was pretty relaxed! The second was at the end of the conference after some down time. I was more even more nervous for this one for some reason, but got into a groove and was pleased with the results of the demo.

Getting set up

I had a lot of fun sharing about painting. What more can you want than getting to do something you absolutely love and then getting PAID to share it with folks!! Shhhhh!!!!, don't tell, but I would have done it for free!

Pastel on terracotta Colorfix paper

My mom and I took an extra day and headed to Santa Fe. We checked out galleries, and relaxed at bit. We are on our way home to Portland, but I'm already looking forward to 2015 when IAPS will convene in Albuquerque again!

Happy Painting!!