Friday, December 26, 2008


Today I'm dipping into a file on my desktop filled with quotes. I think they all relate to art but some of then do so only indirectly. Just seems like the time of year for it!

To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying
Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer,
is to have kept your soul alive. Robert Louis Stevenson

Among those whom I like or admire,
I can find no common denominator,
but among those whom I love, I can;
all of them make me laugh. W. H. Auden

If you could say it in words, there'd be no reason to paint. Edward Hopper

The best day of your life is one on which you decide your life is your own.
No apologies or excuses.
No one to lean on, rely on, or blame.
The gift is yours--it is an amazing journey--and you alone are responsible 
for the quality of it.
This is the day your life really begins. Bo Moawad

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cruising the web

I spent a good portion of  my morning while snow wouldn't allow me to get out reorganizing my bookmarks. Here are some blogs I really like that are not all art related but I find them interesting when I visit on occasion.

Simple videos explaining a lot of topics in plain english related to the internet.

Color schemes and lots of palettes and patterns.

All things Golden and much discussion about their new Open colors.

I just like her photos and brief remarks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Tuba Christmas

Saturday December 13th I met some friends for lunch and a trip to downtown Portland to Pioneer Square to hear the tuba band. There were tubas of all sorts including their smaller cousins. The only name I can remember was a Sousa horn. The music was lovely and much better than I thought it would be---deep and soothing. The director talked a little too much given the outdoor setting.

The musicians were under a tent while the audience was out in the weather. The early birds came with their pieces of plastic and probably cushions of some kind to sit on the steps in front of the band. Others stood around and sought shelter as best they could around Starbucks. It was in the low 40s, windy and mainly rainy but it was a very good turn out. People in the northwest know how to dress for this kind of weather.

The current temps are in the teens and twenties and dressing warm is mandatory. Now if people would just learn how to drive in the snow and ice! Well, to be fair, we don't get much practice around here on most winters. Today the sun is shining and snow is forecast for tomorrow so I've been out doing last minute errands and grocery shopping. Here in Vancouver the streets are mainly clear and business as usual.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Other artist's studios

While I'm doing all the things I either like to do or feel required to do to get ready for Christmas, I'm still thinking about art. Not making art except for making gift tags but still thinking about the next painting.
Photo of my messy studio.

Am I the only only artist who has a great curiosity about other artist's studios? There are two magazines out now that feature studios so I'm guessing there is a market for this topic. 

Stampington & Company has published a premiere Winter 2008 issue of Where Women Create. The cost is $14.99, about 162 pages and features eleven women artists and their studios. Four of the featured women own stores and each spread is 10 pages long. As always with a Stampington magazine the photographs are lush and detailed. The pages are dense with photos, words, design elements and extras. I cannot understand why they placed white filigree embellishments over many of the photos. The edges of many photos are busy with intricate borders around them. One of the two page spreads featured a large photo which took up about 2/3 of the two pages with 26 smaller boxes of images around the edges with close ups of shelves or cubby holes. Take your time and don't try to see everything in one sitting. Your brain will rebel.

The other magazine is put out by Cloth Paper Scissors and is called Studios. It costs $7.99, is about 100 pages and is the Fall/Winter 2008 issue. They featured 30 artists with a variety of pages per artist. What I especially liked was how clear the lay outs were as well as being easy to read. I wanted to know more about the artists in the Where Women Create magazine. For example their name, where they were from, what their media was and a web site. It think it was mainly there some place but I gave up early. The Studio magazine had clear easy to read fonts with the name of the artist, where she lived, a brief paragraph at the start of the feature called "what I do" and the dimensions of the studio they worked in plus a web or email contact. 

So both magazines feed my need to see what other artists are doing in their studios. I would buy the Studios magazine again but not Where Women Create. Each magazine should feed our muse and give us some good ideas about arranging our own studios. The Studios magazine was generally much more practical with less advertising and less fluffiness.

So buy them, enjoy them and make up your own mind. There's something be be learned from both of them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Further reassessing

I recently visited Casey Klahn's blog and his 11-30 post really resonated with me, as they often do. During these times of change or downturn might we want to retreat and reflect on where we're going with our art? 

Do I want to follow trends? What kind of art would I make if I knew there was no chance of selling it? And as Casey asks, does it really matter? My answer is no, it doesn't matter to me at all. 

All of my paintings are very vivid and I just cannot bring myself to use neutrals over the wonderful colors. Then what happens to contrast? I admire paintings that make use of quiet areas in a painting and always wish I could to it too. I might experiment on some small pieces and see if my hand can put brush to canvas with neutral colors. Won't be easy!

Take a look at my friend Dusanka's slide show to see good examples of use of color and neutrals.

While I was at Casey's blog I was reminded how much I enjoy reading Edward Winkleman's blog and his good sense writing. He has some good advice about how artists can handle this challenging time. Part two is here.
Scroll down to his 11-13-08 post to see part one.

Holidays and reassessing

Since I finished the three paintings in the previous post not much art making has been going on in my studio. The holidays do seem to take up a lot of space in my thoughts and activities.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at my daughter's house with 12 people present. Lots of laughs and good food. Four different pies! Both my son and daughter were able to be there which doesn't happen very often and there was lots of story telling and more laughs which is a perfect holiday celebration in my book. And did a mention all the food? 

So now I have to get on the internet and finish up my Christmas shopping. Seems to be lots of reasons to not be thinking about art making. Hmmm. Time to reassess my priorities? I would say yes, for sure!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Three new paintings

Here are the three new 30X30 pieces I recently finished. 

I haven't added titles yet because I have a difficult time choosing titles that are right for each painting. It usually takes a lot of looking at the painting and consulting the thesaurus. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

What's going on in the studio?

I'll soon have photos of the three 30X30 pieces I started and have written about earlier on November 5th and October 29th.

I've been under the weather for a while and am taking it very easy and doing all the "right" things for myself.

I gessoed three canvases yesterday and while I don't have a plan right now I will in the next couple of days--or at least that's what I'm planning for right now!

In the meantime, the photo above is of an earlier 24X18 acrylic on canvas titled "Enterprise".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Artist's communities

Today in Alyson's Art Biz Blog she talks about the need for artists to create and nurture community. Very timely post for me since I was talking yesterday about the importance to me of the critique group I belong to. So go take a look and also see her "Ten Ways to Nurture Your Community". I'm going to work on this. 

How would you nurture your artist's community or what sort of community would you like to have if you created one? 

Please post your ideas in the comments.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Critique group

   The PDX-WAM critique group (Minus one)
Saturday morning my critique group met at my house for talk, food and some critiquing of current work. We're a group of about six or seven members who started meeting in 2004. I had arranged a class with Ann Baldwin to be taught in Portland Oregon and after the class some of the students wanted to keep meeting. And so we have continued on a monthly basis. We work mainly in acrylic and mixed media on canvas in generally abstract ways. PDX stands for Portland and WAM means Women in Abstract Media.

One of the many benefits of this group is that we know we're in a group of people who can talk about art endlessly. Our non-art friends and family eventually roll their eyes and go to sleep. Not so this group! 

This Saturday we had a brisk and helpful critique of the art presented. I especially appreciated all the direct and thoughtful suggestions. One of the wonders of a group are the suggestions some of which are as simple as turning the painting upside down. It becomes a whole new atmosphere and why didn't I think of that myself? We tend to get stuck if we're alone in our studios for too long--at least speaking for myself anyway.

Collin has created a nearly 80 page book of our group and our art on Blurb. I'll provide a link when the book is published which should be this week some time. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008


From Hans Hofmann:
"My aim in painting is to create pulsating, luminous, and open surfaces that emanate a mystic light, in accordance with my deepest insight into the experience of life and Nature."

This about sums up why I paint and keep painting even when it isn't much fun.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Next stage in the painting

Here is the next stage (unedited) of the painting I posted earlier. At this stage it's a little difficult to see changes but I see them! I took a photo of the work and made it black and white in iPhoto which gave me some ideas for lightening the top 1/3. I always tend to go too dark and have to use alcohol some time near the end of the final painting. But I'm liking what I see today and will take the painting into the living room tonight and look at it off and on. This is the longest stretch of the painting. Looking and looking some more. I look in a darkened room and from a distance. I review my notes on composition and things to watch for when it's time to edit a painting. For example warm vs cool colors and having a variety of sizes and so on.

So make comments and share your thoughts.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The rains are here

Here is a photo of a tree in my yard before the rain started. Since the rain started here in the Pacific Northwest last week, most of the leaves are on the ground now.

I'll be working in the studio tomorrow and plan on adding a progress photo on the painting I talked about in the last post. 

My brother visited for a few days and left this morning. We had a good time and spent time in Portland on Saturday and Sunday. The traffic is so much easier downtown on the week ends. We went to the Saturday Market under the Burnside bridge where there is a ton of building or urban renewal going on. Then over to Alberta street to look around at some shops and galleries which is always fun. We also went to The Nines, a new hotel on the top floors of the old Meier and Frank store in downtown Portland. It is now a Macys.  They have some interesting art on the 8th floor which is the public floor, with a nice looking restaurant too. All nicely done and light filled since the center of the building is open to a large sky light. I can't believe we didn't go to Powell's book store. Next time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On my easel right now

Step one
Step two
Step three
I've strayed away from talking about my art and what is on my easel right now. I'm working on three 30X30 inch canvases and have been taking pictures right along. I was going to be very organized and photograph each step for each one. Didn't happen. So I'll pick one and post some photos of it's progress. It isn't done yet but when it is I'll post the final photo.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Art from the sky

There are a variety of web sites that feature photos taken from space and I especially liked the one pictured above. I found it here.

It is a photo of the Ganges River Delta.

Other sites to visit:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chanel Pavilion

I found information about this traveling art pavilion today on Edward Winkleman's blog. It sounded like an interesting idea whether it's timing was appropriate or not so I did a Google search and what follows it what I found out.

First it was an idea of Karl Lagerfeld and you can read about it here.

Now the designer's web site.

Then go to a flickr site for on the building site photos.

Another opinion at the erratica blog site.

Some time in the future it will be in Los Angeles area which is the only west coast location to see it.

So that's how I've been spending my time this morning. Cruising the web and reading interesting blogs. What fun.

Joan Mitchell

I "found" the Abstract Expressionists just a few years ago and can't think how I missed them. Everyone knew about Jackson Pollock but he was only the tip of the ice berg in my opinion.

A few years ago I read a book about Joan Mitchell titled "Joan Mitchell". It is a lovely book full of her paintings and story of her life and career. Why I am drawn to her paintings is a mystery to me. I even tried to duplicate one of what I thought was one of her more simple paintings. What a waste of time! It is so much more difficult than I ever imagined. Which isn't at all unusual when you consider the subject. 

Shortly after reading the book I went to the Portland Art Museum to see the current show which I've forgotten the title of now. People in the local area often loan their paintings to the museum for various time periods so if you go you will see things you didn't expect to see. As I was walking through a hallway on the the way to the museum shop I saw two large paintings on the wall and stopped to look at them because they were so beautiful. Well, they were two paintings by Joan Mitchell, very large, about 8 by 10 feet. Seeing the same painting from a book and on the wall, in real life front of you, is a transcendent experience to say the least. I stood there for a long time and just vibrated internally. I imagine that from the outside I looked normal. Inside I was jumping up and down and yelling. I'll never forget the experience.

Here is a recent short article about her from the the New Yorker magazine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What's your definition of style?

I talked about the Advanced Style blog October 9th. While there earlier today I found several other bloggers who had commented on one of the photos and clicked through to their blogs. Here are some more blogs that generally relate to style in all it's wonderful variety: Liz Blair and Little Molly Cake.

And who knew the girl from Portland Oregon would win last night on Project Runway? Find her web site here. Read Tim Gunn's post too.

My definition of style? I have no style but do enjoy seeing other examples of style whether good, bad or over the top. 

I'm leaving for the beach for a few days and will be back with some updates on three paintings I've started.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Open Acrylics

I received the Golden "Just Paint" newsletter last week featuring interviews with various artists about their experiences testing the new Open paints. Also included were three small packets of the paint to test. The colors were titanium white, phthalo blue (green shade) and alizarin crimson hue. I haven't tried them yet but wanted do a brief review of what the artist in the newsletter reported. 

The first artist paints with oils and said the new open paint felt greasier and he liked the idea of doing a stain painting with the new paint. 

The second artist uses oil and acrylic and felt the paint was much easier to move around. It didn't drag like traditional acrylics but he felt the darker colors, using medium, seemed to get cloudy. He said he was impressed with the quality using just water to thin the paint. He also said Open paint doesn't create an edge and it's not a bit like regular acrylic.

The third artist works with oil paints and she was amazed at the ability to blend for as long as she could. She also suggests that sable brushes work much better than bristle brushes. 

The fourth artist who uses gouache, pastels, oils and acrylics suggests using the new Open paints in a thin manner and when ready for thicker paint to use the traditional acrylic. He says the thick application could take months to dry.

There are also special mediums and thinners to use with the new paints. I'm wondering how acrylic glazing liquid, which I use, is similar or different with the new Open paints. After reading the newsletter I had several questions and will send an email to Golden next week. 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Advanced Style

I've found a wonderful new blog I want to recommend: Advanced Style.  Advanced Style was created by a young man who must spend a lot of time on the streets of New York. He stops elders and asks to take their pictures for his style blog. His friends also send him pictures to use on the blog. It helps if they look "rad", his term for good style. I love checking in now and then because he adds pictures often. Click on the picture and get a full screen view.

It makes my day to see the elders taking the time and effort to dress for their forays out into the city. I also enjoy seeing the gritty city backgrounds and knowing this is where the elders function and live. 

Monday, September 29, 2008

Painting in progress #2

This is a finished image from an earlier post. See this for the earlier one. 

The gilding shows up very well on this photo which is very unusual for most of the photos I take of my work. The colors are not quite right but I don't have Photoshop and use iPhoto instead. I'll let is "simmer" for a bit and then put a coat of polymer medium on it and probably not change anything after that. Or not!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another art book

I've stopped reading "The Unknown Matisse" by Hilary Spurling at page 166. I've been dipping into a book published for an exhibition of work by Louise Nevelson titled "The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson" being held at the de Young museum (October 27, 2007 to January 13, 2008).

Since I had a doctor's visit I needed a smaller book to carry in my purse rather than the large hard covers. So I was forced to pick a paperback from my stack of books to read. What a wonderful detour I took with "The Lost Painting" by Jonathan Harr. It's a true story about finding a lost Caravaggio masterpiece titled "The Taking of Christ". First the author learned to speak fluent Italian since many of the people he wanted to interview spoke little English and he didn't want to use an interpreter. He did not change the names of the people he wrote about. Who would imagine a book about art experts, art restorers, art researchers and art historians would be so interesting? Since his focus was narrow he gives many resources for Caravaggio if one wanted to follow up and learn more.

My focus is on contemporary non-objective or abstract art. But I have to say I learned so much and enjoyed every page of this book. I would recommend it even if you don't care about old masters or what they did. Caravaggio was not an admirable character. He lived a very marginal life and died at 39.

Now back to Matisse and Nevelson.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Painting progress & reunion

I was gone for a few days to a school reunion. We were near Shady Cove Oregon on a classmate's ranch. The school mascot is below---Grizzlies.  Makes a good cup holder, huh?
A view of the ranch.
I'm working on the paintings I posted last time. They aren't quite ready for progress photos or far enough along to show any real changes. I'm at the place where it's easy to go over the top or over do it. Thank heavens for alcohol. No, not for me to drink although there are times when I'm not painting that some alcohol would probably be helpful. I spray 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol on the painting and wait a few seconds and scrub (gently) with a stiff brush, spray with water and wipe clean. If the paint is thick it may take several times with this treatment. Guess you can tell I've over done it in the past!

Also go take a look at Casey Klahn's blog The Colorist. His last two posts have been about moral courage and art. Interesting topic.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Paintings in progress #1

The painting below is an acrylic, 40X30 piece in progress and I wish I had taken a picture earlier but I usually need the help of a photograph further into the piece. The beginnings always go very well. It's the middle or adolescent part that slows down the process. So I'll keep posting until it's done.
The painting at the top is a second photo showing more work. So until I learn how to place photos--this one is out of order. The photo always seems to be placed at the top of the post and I see no way to correct it. At least for now. I'll figure it out.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Artist's Studios

Since my studio is a 10 by 12 room with one window on the west side of the room I often think about what is the ideal studio. I would like to have a room with lots of storage, large windows for natural light, a small kitchen area plus an area to sit and look at art books or to look at art in progress from a distance. Right now I take my paintings outside in order to see them better. Not when it's raining though.

I have bookmarked several studios I like. The neatness or messiness doesn't matter nor does the sort of art created in the studio. Artists just know what looks like a good studio to work in.

Here is a place to start looking at artist's studios.

The images above are just samples from two studios on the site.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I took some photographs of my roses on September 4th and they still look wonderful. I can't claim much credit except for giving them good rose fertilizer twice this year and watering them. It must have been a very good year for roses in our area. They really are not that much work for the return. I dead headed them yesterday in the afternoon and the scent of roses was heavy and sweet in the air.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Continuing art education & a list of books

Alyson Stanfield at artbizblog posted a wonderful list of non-fiction books about art on August 20, 2008. Be sure to read the comments because several people posted about their favorite art books too.

First I went to the web site of my local library and placed several titles on hold. They send an email when there are books to pick up. I do wish they didn't come in clumps because I picked up six books. I can always renew or return them and place on hold again. The rest of the books I placed on my Amazon wish list which is about five or six pages long but it's a wonderful way to keep track and to let people know about if they want gift suggestions.

First I read "Dawns + Dusks by Diana Mackown which are taped interviews with Louise Nevelson over many years. The author has done a wonderful job of editing all the conversations because it's a very readable and interesting book. I've learned so much about LN's life and especially her art and work ethic. Even as a child she was focused on exactly what she wanted to do and carried this throughout her life. She speaks about her parents briefly but very little about her son. Again, her focus is on creating art. 

 LN worked very hard and designed her life around what was most efficient in her living arrangements in order to concentrate on making art. She wore cotton clothing to work in so it was easy for her to just fall into bed in the same clothes and get up and work again. She didn't care much about what she ate or when she ate--just something on the fly and continue working.

There are many black and white photos in the book and I have to comment on her eye make up. Her eyelashes look like two dead caterpillars perched on her eye lids. She said: "I don't feel dressed without my eyelashes. I don't wear one pair....I glue several pairs together and then put them on. I like it and it's dramatic, so why not?"

About clothing she says: "Let's break tradition. That's exactly why I dress the way I do." "I love old robes. I think I was the first person to wear a sixteenth-century Mandarin Chinese robe on top of the blue denim work shirt."

So it's a good read and talks about her life, her work, her process, her confidence and her single minded focus on working.

Now I'm reading "The Unknown Matisse" by Hilary Spurling. Should be interesting since I know very little about him and the period of time the book covers is 1869 to 1908, the early years.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I make color charts of all the colors I use especially acrylics. Sometimes I'll buy a new color and other times samples of brands I don't use are given out in classes. So it was time to update all my yellows. Who knew I had so many? 

One of my favorite deep yellows is Holbein's Marigold. I found Azo Yellow Orange at Utrecht and it looks very much like the Marigold. I'll know better after I've used them both in a painting. I also really like Golden's fluid Diarylide Yellow. So I bought a tube of it too. There is a difference between the tube and the fluid. I was shocked to see how different. A Golden artist told me the reason there were fewer colors in the fluid series was because the colors are more intense and have more pigment than the tube paints which have a wider choice of colors. I believe her now. I'm going to take back the tube and exchange it for the fluid.

The other interesting point was the difference between brands with the same color. I have Grumbacher, Utrecht and Holbein Cadmium Yellow Light. All totally different colors.  It's the small piece on the left of the photo above.

Sure wish I had thought about including pictures of my chart on the blog because I would have been much neater! Usually I draw lines to make a grid and label more carefully. But the chart will work just fine for me in it's present messy state. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

More photos

More photos from Art in the Pearl                                                                   Artist: Pat Condron

Monday, September 1, 2008

Art in the Pearl

Today I went to Art in the Pearl an annual event of the Labor Day week end in Portland Oregon. This year the weather wasn't too good with cooler temperatures and rain yesterday. I was there early today (the last day) which was fine with me since on the first day it's usually too crowded. The jewelry was outstanding as it usually is but this year seemed even better to me. I took a few pictures. I saw many artists from Portland and Oregon generally as well as farther away places too. Was it just my imagination but were there fewer booths? Maybe the bad weather yesterday sent some artists home. 

The image on the right is from Mike Baggetta and on the left is Marla Baggetta link here.

I will add more images next time. 

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New "old" canvases

I recently took several paintings to my local gallery
and picked up some other paintings to bring home. When I came home I thought about what to do with all the paintings I now needed to store. I already had several paintings stashed around the house. Somewhere along the line I changed my focus and the paintings from the past just do not measure up anymore. 

So I took 24 canvases outside to the back yard and painted gesso over them. I feel very good about doing this which is surprising considering how much time, work and thought goes into them when I painted them. A very freeing decision with no regrets. New canvases, new ideas and a fresh start for the fall. All good.

First blog

August 20, 008

I've been reading artist's blogs for some time now and enjoy what they have shared. I have also read several posts about how having a blog will improve my art practice. I'm looking forward to seeing if this is true. 

I want to share what I'm doing in the studio with pictures of work in progress and my discoveries as well as my mistakes. I'm looking forward to meeting other artists who share their work and thoughts on their blogs.