Category Archives: recent works

Thirty minutes to paint


Quick draw events are fun, frightening, sometimes furiously fast and often rewarding!  Many are an hour or two in length which is not a lot of time to execute a painting but easier compared to the 30 minute events.  In a 30 minute event there is no time to ponder.  You need to have pondered and made choices in the preparation stage!  You need a limited palette and a distinct plan of action when the horn blows to begin your work.

So goes the story of the popular quick draw at the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale sponsored by the WaterWorks Art Museum held every May as part of the world famous Bucking Horse Sale that brings thousands of spectators to the town of Miles City.  Only a few (25 or less) artists participate in the Riverside Park QD at the culmination of the annual parade.  The QD is sandwiched in between the parade and the Grand Entry of the sale and horse races and once the 30 minute draw is complete, the artists have 10 minutes to get their piece framed and the live auction of art begins.  It’s fast and furious and the crowd is filled with art collectors and spectators.  The QD is strategically timed to be certain those spectators can get to all the BHS activities and maximize the crowd attendance for the auction that is a benefit to the WaterWorks Museum and Art Center.

This year I lived on the dangerous side…I decided to paint a larger than normal piece, 26×12 vertical pastel.  (Most works are less than 16 inches square.)  I prepped my paper by gluing it to a foam core board for stability, then selected a very limited palette of pastel sticks.  I planned a painting of buffalo from a photo I shot on my way to MT via Yellowstone Park.  The day before the event, the preparatory chores were done. (I could have saved a little stress by doing this 3-4 days earlier!).  I did numerous pencil sketches arranging my composition, as the photo was a horizontal format and I was painting it as a vertical.  In my sketchbook I made lines of quadrants and adjusted the subject to best fit the format of the proposed painting.  I “roughed-in” focal points and large shapes to make what I believed to be a good composition.   I put all my supplies – selected pastels, 91% alcohol, sponge brush, Workable fixative, wet wipes, paper towels, gloves and framing equipment in my backpack.  I had a plan and felt I could make it happen, but knew I would have no time to spare.  Before the event started I found a place to paint…in the park’s gazebo  where there was some protection from some gusty winds (not helpful when painting is a tall piece!) and a place to sit if one wanted to before and during the event.  And I was able to tone my painting  with one color – a mix of dry pigment and alcohol before the QD began.  Doing an underpainting like this assists one in pastel application by speeding up the process.

The QD begins with the sound of an air horn…now it’s time for autopilot.  Your colors are laid out and you instinctively apply them, not second guessing your choice.  Large masses are painted carefully noting that  the values are where you want them.  When someone says “you have 15 minutes left, you want to be at least half way thru your painting.)  I am, but there is no option to make changes.  I stick to my plan.  Once the landscape is satisfactory to my eye, I draw in and paint the buffalo.   As I put the final touches in the most distant animal, the horn blows signifying the end of the QD.  Hands go up (no more pastel to the paper), I am satisfied, pleased to have finished what I had planned and the framing begins.  I had hoped to get my piece in the auction so it would be auctioned somewhere in the middle, but I needed all the time allotted to get the framing accomplished, so the painting was in the last spot on the auction docket.  Not my favorite spot to be, but as it turned out the auction was  a surprise.  One know there is not always a predictable outcome to auctions and this one was not an exception.  Early pieces were sold  from $200-500. Then one sold for about $800 and another for $1700.  I saw a couple of pieces of work of popular artists sell for less than I have seen before.  Now I begin to have some anxiety.  It’s now the time for my piece to go.  I hold the painting up and the auction starts.  Bids start immediately and I hand the work to one of the guys on the platform to show.  Bids continue to be raised and my anxiety lessens.  The auctioneer worked his way to $1500 +.  I am relieved and happy to have completed a sought after piece of art and for sharing the sale with the museum.

So, when the opportunity arises to compete in a quick draw, do it.  The key is preparation and planning.  Then execute the painting in a confident manner, not second guessing palette and composition.  If you are an art collector and someone who appreciates the arts and the process…know what happens for these works to come to be!

 

 

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Gallery Representation – thank you!


I am honored to be able to show my work in some of the best galleries in the west.  These originals can be seen in Yachats, OR at Earthworks Gallery, The American Art Company in Tacoma, Wa, Dodson’s in Spokane, WA, Pendleton Art and Frame in Pendleton, OR, Valley Bronze in Joseph, OR, Caswell Bronze in Troutdale, OR, Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, WA, Eagle Art Gallery in Eagle, ID, The Depot in Red Lodge, Mt and Moccasin Mountain Art in Lewistown, MT.

I am very pleased to work with these galleries who in my opinion, represent their artist well.  That is so important to an artist to have a gallery or galleries that  promote your work and really try to sell the art pieces.  And ones that pay promptly, according to your agreement, when works sell.

When you are in these towns and cities, please visit these fine businesses and be prepared to be treated well as a customer too!

 

 


Pastel Dust


Do you wonder what drives an artist?  What’s the motivation to keep painting?  For me it is about the color and the diversity of the landscape and wanting to share those images you see with others.  And why paint en plein air?  I think it is painting “true.”  Nothing is in your way of what you see.  There is no excuse to what you put on that board or paper.  It is right in front of you…it’s your interpretation!

I had the opportunity to be part of a plein air event in Walla Walla a week ago.  It was a 5 day paint out organized by a tiny 90-year-old watercolorist, Margaret Walters.  About 20 artists came together for the event, painting it partly or in total.  I think this was the third year of the event and there were several painters who had been on all tours.  The event ended with an art sale that benefited the Carnegie Picture Lab.  It was certainly a stress-free, enjoyable schedule and people to paint with.  Each day a new venue…one favorite was going to this beautiful farm/vineyard at the base of Cottonwood Canyon.  It is a favorite of mine and to be able to drive up through the farm to a high point and paint it from a different vantage point was great.  Another day of endless opportunity was painting at the Robison Ranch north of town.  I found a secluded spot where I painted two pieces.  The only thing that drove me out of the field was the heat creeping up to 104!  These two venues, for me was what painting plein air is all about….you could stand in one spot and paint in any direction…the dilemma is…what do you paint!

A note about the Picture Lab…it is an art education program for area students.  It is a nonprofit that depends on funds from outside sources.  Commissions on sales of the plein air paintings benefited the Picture Lab.  Happily 4 of my 6 paintings sold for this great cause.

What’s on the schedule…

July 11th I will be painting in the Art of the Beartooths, the fund raiser and painting event and sale to support the Carbon county Art Guild in Red Lodge, MT.  We will be painting a quick finish during the day that will be auctioned that evening.

Pendleton Art and Frame, Pendleton, OR is showing the bronzes of Rip Caswell and my plein air landscapes July 9- September 1.  The opening reception is Thursday the 9th, 5-7:30

Off to the beautiful area around Hood river, OR for the Columbia Gorge Invitational Plein Air event.  About 30 artists have been invited to paint August 3-7 in the area with a reception Friday the 7th, 6-8 pm.

I feel very blessed to be able to “work” at my art and take part in these events.  So with that said, go out there and take a shot of drawing or painting “en plein air!!”

               


Pastel Dust on the Road 3…


Moab…this is such a beautiful place.  From the moment I drove down into the Colorado River valley that holds this town I was in awe of the overwhelming beauty.  Extreme describes it….cliffs in reds and yellows, intense skies something different to look at all around you .                                                                                                                     .            I went to Moab to participate in the Plein Air Moab painting event Oct 7-15. The event includes 3 quick draw sessions, a main competition, a paint out, receptions and more.  The Moab Art and Rec Center (MARC) is hosting their 2nd plein air.  The team that organized this were incredible.  Everything; every event ran like clock work.  One day the quick draw was at the Castle Valley Winery where we painted on their property and submitted it to the show and sale.    for 3 hours, we painted  ,then framed.  Two more quick draws on other days happened downtown Moab with same rules and events.  The final event was the main competition – a painting of the artist’s choice that they had completed during the time in Moab.  Other paintings could be displayed for sale at the MARC as well…but only one entered into the competition.  Friday night we entered the MARC to one room filled with the artists’ best work.  Many had signs on them “Award Winning Painting”.  I looked for mine and it was included in that catagory!   That’s the icing on the cake!

During the paint out, several pieces of art sold which wonderful – since that is the ultimate goal!  But it is also equally important to develop new friendships and learn new things from fellow artists, judges, etc.

And there is taking some risks in our work, try new techniques and see as much of the area and photograph as much as  you can for future reference.  I had shied away from driving the LaSal Loop which is a road that takes you south of Moab, then westerly over some mountain passes, down into the Castle Valley and back to Moab via Hwy 128.    The first while I was in Moab, the weather was cold and stormy with snow on the mountains, so that detered my thoughts of doing this drive in the mighty Prius.  However with warm weather for several days, the snow had all but disappeared so I decided that I would drive at least part way up the pass to get  some views of colorful fall leaves and different terrain.  I soon found that it the road was really steep and narrow and I wasn’t comfortable trying to turn around on the narrow roads and minimal turn-outs…so I kept driving over the passes, a little timidly on the ascents and descents with switchbacks at a max of 10 mph.  It was beautiful and when one was atop each of the passes, the view below was incredible.  I admit that when I saw the familiar terrain of the Castle Valley, I breathed a sigh of relief!  Once I got down into the valley, I decided I would paint one more work so elected to paint a scene near Onion Creek…a stream that barely runs water when the weather is dry…but is one that carries water that is poisonous leeched with selenium, arsnic and saline.  The creek bed has no vegetation and it is strangely quiet with no birds in the immediate area.

Saturday came with the realization that the stay in Moab was coming to an end.  Work was to be picked up at the MARC at 6 that evening.  In the morning I stopped in to listen to the judged talk about the work selected for awards and decided that I would go somewhere and paint one more session.  Sandi who organized the event came up to me and asked what I was doing for the day.  I told her and she asked if she could go with.  Happily I invited her and we drove up Kane Creek beyond where one leaves the Colorado and heads up another canyon.  We painted and visited for about 2 hours.  It was the perfect way to end a great 10 day visit to this spot.

Sunday morning I was ready to head out for points south into New Mexico.  I stopped at the little cafe that sells great Moab coffee, grabbed a 16 oz cup, bid farefwell to the MARC and headed down 191 to southerly  points….

happy painting….


Pastel Dust on Whidbey Island


5 days of nothing but painting, photographing, enjoying fellow artists on one of the prettiest islands in the northwest.  Whidbey  is an island you can reach via ferry from Mukilteo (near Everett and Edmonds, WA) on the south end or via Hwy 20 from the mainland through Anacortes and over the Deception Pass Bridge.

The event was the annual Northwest Pastel Society Paint Out organized by a couple of NPS members who took on a big project of finding suggested painting spots, dining, demonstrations by artists and lodging at Fort Casey.  Jan Wall and Karen Schroeder made the event what it was and by all testaments by attendees it was a success.

I coercer-ed my friend and fellow artist Lauri Borer into going and we had a great time exploring, painting, photographing and laughing.

It is a challenge to get out and do plein air work….the light changes quickly, there are bugs and nettles, there is wind and not all desired painting points are a “drive to.”  One morning we headed out and after not finding something that we wanted to paint at the suggested spot, came upon this hidden rhodie farm and 10 acres of gardens hidden away.  We hiked around the property which was beautiful and each settled on a spot to paint.  Later a few other artists found this spot as well.The rhodies were not blooming this time of year, but the other plants were providing the show.

We  visited the sites at the state parks and the reserves of Ebey’s Landing, the farms, the light house at Fort Casey, the towns of Coupeville, Langley and Oak Harbor.

Deception Pass points of interest were there to be painted – and we trekked out there early one morning only to be met with chilly winds so we elected to drive to Anacortes and down to Mount Vernon and introduce Laurie to Dakota Art Pastels Store.  After lugging around a full size French easel, I took the opportunity to buy a new easel for plein air work and that would lighten the load of packing  by some 10 pounds, at least.  Unfortunately, we did not stop back at Deception Pass because later we learned the weather moderated and painting was good.  Lesson learned…maybe not go racing out the door too early in the morning – OR – wait a bit at the destination – the weather might change!

    One other morning we woke to fog coming in from the west and it gently settled into one of the valleys near the Keystone Ferry…but not for long!        

It was great to spend time to get to know some fellow artists better and to watch their demos and learn how some make their own pastels, about an intense workshop for artists in NM, how they do an abstract composition and more.

It was a best of times with tons of photos and memories.  Do a paint out sometime if the opportunity comes your way…tips…pack light, make sure  you have bug spray, sun screen, attire for cool and hot conditions, condensed supplies, camera, water and a good buddy to share with!  happy painting…


Pastel Dust in Joseph, OR Quick Draw


Joseph, OR is a little town of less than 2000 that is nestled up next to the Wallowa Mountains in NE Oregon and near one of the most beautiful lakes – Wallowa Lake.  The area was part of the Nez Pearce land and Chief Joseph.  The area is filled with history but more recently artists.  This area has some of the NW’s best artists,     sculpture and 2D.  Each year the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts happens the first full weekend of June.  I have gone for several  years now and exhibited there.  Over the last 3 years they have had a quick draw event that is a very fun and exciting time.  There is live music, fabulous treats and appetizers and drinks while several artists attempt to create a masterpiece in a one and a half hour time frame.  As the artists draw, paint, sculpt, the attendees have the option to watch the pieces come to life and then bid on their favorite work.  The silent auction then goes on for a half an hour after the quick draw time limit is up.

This quick draw is, as I said an hour and a half long.  The quick draw event at the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale that I go to is one half an hour-long!  So to approach that event is  a little different from this one that allows an hour more! I love to do these for the challenge.

All that said, there is some definite planning that has to occur to make a quick draw a success and even then I rely on a little divine intervention because sometimes even the best laid plans can turn upside down in a hurry!

The process…I know going to the event the exact size of painting I am going to do.  I have the mat ready, in the frame and the paper I am working on is mounted on a foam core cut to the size of the frame.  Once the painting is complete, it slides into the prepped frame, backing paper covers the back and the wire for hanging screwed in place. (All these details – thanks my husband Les)

I know what I am going to paint.  I have sketched it and laid it out on a sketch pad prior to the  event.  This year I decided to do a painting based on a few photos I had taken in the Joseph area in years past.  The basic scene is one looking at Prairie Creek and some cows grazing in deep, lush grasses.

This year, my friend Betty Wood is attending the show and she is there with camera in hand.  She photographed the process of the painting from the beginning to its completion.  Betty is a fine artist.  She works in lots of different mediums, most recently having some fun with wood carving.  Her work is amazing and wins at the wood carving shows consistently.

I first of all use a hard pastel stick and make some light lines on the paper, separating the paper into quadrants to allow me to quickly place cows, an old

barn, trees, etc in strategic, visually satisfying spots.  I am using Pastel Mat paper.  It is new to me and I love it.  It has an almost suede, soft feel to it, yet it holds pastel well.  I am using a salmon colored sheet and will allow some of the paper to be exposed.

I start painting at the top of the paper and block in the sky, followed  by the  Wallowa Mountains which I want to be a significant resemblance of the mountains.    I work fairly quickly and get this done so I can start on the meat of the painting.      Before I have started, I have earmarked the basic pastels I want to use and limit my palette so I am not wasting time looking for that particular blue or whatever color it might be.  Once the mountains and sky are complete I can concentrate on the near land mass.  I rough in the trees and   basic shapes of the land and creek with a dark blue.  Once that is on the paper I use a workable fixative and

give it a quick spray.  That dark blue is the base for the springtime trees  and the contour of the creek bed.  From that point it is about

getting the distant valley in and establish a depth and distance and getting the up close basic color in.  Once that is done I add the old barn and draw in the cows…shapes only at this point.  People stop by and watch the process and I visit as I can.  I don’t feel too much pressure because things are coming together.  I love to show the process to the people who are there.

I then get the creek to come to life with some reflections and the feel of moving water.  I add the small amounts of details to the cows.  They are Hereford/Angus cross, so white faces and some white along the top of the neck and tail are added.   

I use a hard pastel and “burnish the grasses in a little lighter value that the base.  Some light purples set to dance across the fields as a hint of wild flowers.  Also use some of the Diane Townsend sticks because they have a lot of grabbing power because of the degree of pumice in them…texture in the foreground !  The other pastels are Unison, Sennelier, Terry Ludwig and some Schmincke.  The dark blue is #463 Sennelier.  With about 20 minutes or so to spare, I feel like the work has come together.  I shoot a couple of shots of it and Les helps me get it in the frame.  Another friend Penne Locati is there and we visit now that I am finished.  She and a friend bid on it  throughout the process, but at the last moment another dedicated bidder wins the piece.  It sells for highest price at the quick draw…more than $400 and goes to Pendleton to live.  The buyer told me she bought it to honor her mother in remembrance.    A nice way to have one’s work represented…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  


Pastel Dust and a good cup of Jo


On my first trip to Miles City, my son reminded me there wasn’t a Starbucks around, BUT there were a couple of good coffee shops I should try.  So, I agreed to meet him at Cafe Utza, a coffee shop on Nineth just off Main.  Well, it wasn’t good coffee, it was GREAT coffee…and homemade pastries that I was warned disappeared often before the first wave of morning coffee breaks were over.  And there is art in the shop!  And great music playing…. last year they hung a series of my small works and we agreed to bring some more work this year.  I brought 8 of the 6×6 pieces all framed in plein air mahogany frames.  Three artists will hang work throughout the next week; then it will be two of us. 

We came to visit family and to participate in the Quick Draw event that annually is held during the renowned annual Miles City Bucking Horse Sale…events that draw people from far and near to watch match bronc rides, horse races, horse sales, bucking bull sales, concert and more over 4 days in mid May.  This is a major happening here and the town is brimming with spectators and participants…Come to this event sometime or just come to Miles City and experience the heritage of the west that this town is proud of…and stop and enjoy a good cup of coffee.

So now about Cafe Utza….which means “Black Coffee”…

When I first went to the cafe, I was reminded of the coffee houses that sprang up in Chicago (where I lived) in the ’70’s.  There is always good music playing, good strong, tasty coffee, eclectic furnishings, etc.  That’s Utza.  When you walk into the shop, you are met with red walls of a long narrow area that is graced with comfy seating from sofa and overstuffed chairs to the kitchen tables of the 50’s that we sat at as kids.   There are some great photos and art that are permanent to the place; a collection of logo items for purchase and a case filled with some of the best pastries I have ever had.  And from experience, if you  want to have a good selection, you get to Cafe Utza before the first wave of coffee breakers hit the door! 

This art blog is really about another art…the art of food and drink.  Kara Stewart who owns Cafe Utza had a vision of having  her own shop.  She  followed her dream and opened Cafe Utza in 2005.    Daily there are wonderful fresh pastries such as scones cut into large wedges and a variety of fruits toppings.  The menu isn’t “set”, so it is a surprise to see what graces the pastry case each day.  She also roasts her coffee – daily – so you always get that fresh roasted, robust coffee.  I am a black coffee drinker and I love that full-bodied, strong coffee.  This is where you go to get that.  My son loves mochas – and Kara does these right as well.  That’s her art….making something from the heart, for others to enjoy…she is an artist of her trade.  

Kara told us a little about her dream and her heritage.  Her great-grandmother who was Basque came to the US and settled in eastern Montana – basically a mail order bride.  Kara’s grandmother (now 87) met her husband when he and his brother came from Texas on cattle drives north that came to eastern Montana.  Her roots run deep in history of eastern Montana and told me that some of her grandfather’s memorabilia is part of the collection at the Range Riders Museum.  Kara knew she wanted to do something with food and decided upon the coffee shop.  She honors heritage with the fabulous pastries and with the name Cafe Utza.  And as a savvy business person, she supports and promotes her local events and art.  I feel privileged to hang work there – I’m not local – but I am native to central Montana and  I appreciate what someone like Kara does for their hometown…they share their talents; their art and they give to the community by showcasing other artists and their art.  May 2011 May 2011 108


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