Friday, March 27, 2009

Skunk Cabbage

I live in a wooded area and on my morning walks I have come across deer, herons, mallard ducks, and owls. As Ebony and I were walking this morning, I got this piercing smell. Quickly I called my dog to heel as I did NOT want her to meet the skunk.

As we came around the corner, I saw through the woods in a boggy area a multitude of skunk.......cabbage!

How can something so lovely smell soooooo badly?

At closer range the smell was awful! But look how pretty!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hummingbird Sighting!

Yesterday I saw a hummingbird feeding at my primroses on the deck railing. How exciting! I immediately made up some food (high concentration of sugar in water) and placed the feeder outside my window.

PRESTO! This morning I saw my first hummingbird feeding.

But that is not really true.......

This winter at Christmas time I was house sitting/pet sitting at my friend's house. If you were in Washington at that time you would remember the snow and more snow. My car was stuck in their driveway, and I was snowed-in for a couple of days. Thankfully, I had my sketch pad and watercolor pencils. As I was drawing the beautiful tree outside the window a desperate hummingbird stared in at me. I immediately made their favorite syrup and added it to the empty feeder. The hummingbird returned and I was sooo elated. I thought I had saved its life!

Later, I learned that the Anna hummingbird sometimes spends winter in Washington (Why, is beyond my understanding). A new learning for me!

I cannot really say that the hummingbird's have returned until the Rufus hummingbirds show up. They make a grand entrance as they take over the feeder. They literally stand guard and chase off other hummingbirds. Not only are they very bold, but they are brightly colored their namesake, rufus.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Spirit of Centering

I have an art therapy client who I have been working with for a couple of years. Together we discuss art inspired by books I bring to our sessions since she is no longer physically capable to create art with her hands due to Parkinson's. I have the honor to spend time with this incredible woman on a weekly basis.

We have been reading and discussing the art of Jeanne Carbonetti whose book The Zen of Creative Painting found my hands serendipitously. Having thoroughly enjoying her art and prose we launched into her first book The Tao of Watercolor.

Today, Jeanne's words about centering were so profound I thought I would share. She was talking about the focus of attention one brings to one's art and life. By leaving all else behind and concentrating fully on the present moment, one empowers his intention, which becomes clear. That quality of spirit she calls centering. With watercolors she believes it is critical for you to be fully present with your private world as it unfolds, so that you are not caught off-guard by the challenging surprises that water and color can thrust upon you. (I love her use of "thrust" because sometimes it just feels that way!) Whenever you prepare to paint, she urges you to allow yourself some small centering ritual that will move you from the real space of practical existence to the symbolic space of the painter's world.

Remember, every painting is a path to self-knowledge

Monday, March 23, 2009

To Matte or Not To Matte

Remember when I talked about trades or bartering?

I have this fabulous trade with the owners of the State of the Arts Gallery in Olympia, Washington. I get to watch the gallery when they are gone, and in trade, I have learned how to matte my watercolor paintings, use all the equipment, and receive materials at cost. FANTASTIC DEAL!

Now the question is why matte?

When you take a piece of art and put a border (matte) around it the picture stands out. It relates the importance of the art and defines it in space. The framing of the art with just a matte can make all the difference in the world. It separates the art from the clutter of life and brings it to a different level.

When I worked in the schools as a counselor, I would keep various mattes handy. When a child finished a drawing or painting, I immediately put a matte on it. A big smile formed on the child's face, and a definite rise in self-esteem.

For my watercolor paintings I have chosen a white pebble matte with an inner matte of charcoal gray. Because I am a color freak, I want the colors in my watercolor paintings to read brightly which only occurs when placed next to white. Since I usually paint on a half sheet of watercolor paper, I matte my paintings to a standard size (18" X 24") so patrons can easily purchase frames. It also makes showing my art a bit simplified as I can interchange paintings since they are all uniformly sized.

When the sun decides to shine again soon here in Washington, I will post an example of one of my paintings with and without a matte. You can see the difference and decide for yourself.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another View

I just finished the third in the series of watercolor paintings from Mexico. I am planning another visit soon to Isla Mujeres.

There will be many in the Mexico watercolor series!

I was awe struck by the ice plants on the hillsides creeping into the sea. This time I was seeking a more impressionistic, spontaneous feel.

How did I do?

Definitely brighter and sunnier than the last one.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Sun Came Out!

Today, a rare treat this time of year here in Washington.........we saw the sun!

I quickly took my watercolor painting, A View From The Titanic, outside to photograph it hoping to get rid of the turquoise color of the water.

I think it worked! This is a must see original as the water is a darker blue.

I tried :)

I started another painting focusing on the ice plants and being even more impressionistic.

Stay tuned..........

Friday, March 20, 2009

Museum of Glass

If you live near Tacoma, Washington, you have probably heard about the Museum of Glass, but have you been there? It is only a few years old.

It features contemporary glass art in a breathtakingly beautiful museum on Tacoma's revitalized waterfront. There is a main gallery with changing exhibits, a theatre featuring glass artists, a children's area, an art gallery, and the hot shop amphitheater where you can watch a team of artists create masterpieces from molten glass.

My favorite is the children's glass exhibit. Children submit drawings and once a month they select one child's design to create in glass. The child participates in the creation by being present and through consultation with the the team of glass artists. Best of all, the child gets to keep the glass art, and another one is made to put on displayed. There will be a special art show on October 31st featuring the children's glass art. I look forward to seeing it!

Today I introduced my cousin to the Museum of Glass and she instantly became a member. We dodged raindrops to view the Chihuly Bridge of Glass and his sculptures in the Train Station.

Photos from the Chihuly Art Exhibit in Salt Lake City during the Winter Olympics 2002

Chihuly Ceiling

I layed on the floor taking these photos just to get the full effect. Several museum goers joined me. I think I started something, or maybe not?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"It Has To Grow On Me"

Those were my mother's favorite words after viewing a painting she was not particularly excited about.

I find that some paintings must grow on me before I accepted them as a finished product or start over again. A couple of days ago, I believed that the watercolor painting "View From the Titanic" might be finished. I always keep the latest painting somewhere in view of my everyday activities so I can "catch a glimpse" of it as I go about my tasks. It will "speak" to me. There was a blatant issue that was bugging me and today I finally did something about it.

In the process of intensifying the color of the water (it looks very turquoise here, but it really is not that way in the original; blue is a challenging color to get accurate with a camera let alone a computer screen), I realized the power of changing Mother Nature. What might be the significance?!?!

The first rendition

and the final

Which do you prefer? Or is it back to the drawing board?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Resources for Artisit

I stumbled upon this great resource for artists when I was looking at an article about how artists price their art.

Katherine Tyrrell, an artist and author who enjoys sharing information about art, has several polls on topics from "How Do You Price Your Art?" to "Selling Art Online," with a lot of good information between.

Check out this site if you are looking for resources for artists.

You will be glad you did!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Trades for Art

Most of you know the barter system, right?

I believe it first began eons ago with our ancestors. People traded services for produce and there was no money exchange. Some people would like to see this form of exchange of goods re-established. How do you feel about that?

Artists seem to be prone to bartering. Some people think art is a luxury item and not usually affordable. Art creation not only enriches the soul, but it also enhances the lives of those who come in contact with the piece of art. It is great to see people who love our art get the opportunity to live with one of our art pieces.

Today I am in the process of bartering with a friend for massage treatments. Double treat for me. I will receive serveral massages while viewing my watercolor painting in the environment in which it was selected to enhance.

Have you bartered for something outrageous? Please share!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

View From The "Titanic"

Just finished my second painting which I named the View From the "Titanic" in the Mexico Series.

Why, you might be wondering? Let me tell you the story.......

This lovely deck area is where I spent time painting a couple of mandalas while staying at Sanoviv. It was my favorite spot.

Nice, huh?!?!?

I later learned from Francisco that the staff call the small deck the "Titanic" because of its shape and the way it sticks out above the ocean.

Looking south the hillside is draped with ice plants and they were in full bloom due to the warm, Mexican sunshine. I thought it would make a great watercolor painting. How do you feel?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Welcome Signs of Spring

I do not know about you, but I get thrilled to see the first flowers of spring!

There is a patch of crocus which survived not just the harsh winter, but my dog digging them up after my neighbor, Janet, lovingly planted them one day last fall. She did not realize that my dog, Ebony, is very curious and could not resist uncovering what was buried. Of course, Ebony waited until Janet had left the scene.

Here is bounty that did not suffer being treated as play toys by Ebony........

Aren't they beauties! I see a painting coming....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Day Light to Create

That extra hour of daylight and the signs of spring sparked my creative juices today.  How about you? 

In between the desire to be outdoors in the sunshine, I began my second painting from the series of photographs which I took while in Mexico. I am mesmerized by the ice plant in bloom which grew profusely, cascading down the cliffs toward the ocean. There is something about the colors and movement?

Stay tuned as the next painting evolves..........

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Inspired by Mexico

I was excited to get back to my studio since being in Mexico;
sooooooo many ideas floating around in my head to paint with watercolors!

First off, to capture the feel of the sunset on my last evening. I call the painting "A Gift" as that is truly what the sunset was for me on my very last day of an incredible week at Sanoviv. I was absolutely spellbound watching the colors spread across the sky and change in intensity. It took will-power to pull back from the view long enough to capture a few photographs knowing full well that they would only be a snapshot of the moment and not the full experience which was beyond AWESOME!

I am waiting to hear back from friends who also watched as if in a trance from their balcony that evening, too.

I asked, "Did I captured the mood or not?"

Here is the sunset painted in watercolors; A GIFT

For most of you who were not present (ha,ha pun!), how does it make you feel?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mandala Watercolor Painting #5

Beginning a new watercolor mandala painting, the initial line resembled a hummingbird, yet very stylized. I decided to go with the image. The hummingbird is my totem animal; from the Native American teachings the hummingbird represents joy. It also appeared in the second mandala of this series.

The hummingbird sings a vibration of pure joy. Flowers love hummingbird because nectar-sucking brings about the reproduction of their families. Plants flower and live because of hummingbird. Hummingbirds can fly in any direction, and can also hover in one spot and appear to be motionless.

According to Native American teachings, if hummingbird is your personal medicine, you love life and its joys. Your presence brings joy to others. You join people together in relationships which bring out the best in them. You know instinctively where beauty abides and, near or far, you jouney to your ideal. You move comfortably within a beautiful environment and help others taste the succulent nectar of life. Hummingbird hears celestial music and is in harmony with it.

This mandala relates to my joyous life; and, as my friend, Fernando says, "the beautiful colors of [my] essence," which is held lovingly.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Puddle Art a New Art Catagory

At 23 degrees this morning I was not anxious to take my dog for our morning walk.  I waited until it warmed up to 27 degrees and thought, maybe I would not need my long underwear?

To my surprise I came upon several frozen puddles which had a natural artistic composition thanks to Mother Nature.

The artist in me was so inspired that I decided to create puddle art.

How do you feel about this new art catagory?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Lion King

I had the pleasure last night of attending the Lion King at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. What a fabulous production........costumes, dancers, music, singers........


I was so touched by Mufasa singing "They Live in You" it brought tears to my eyes. I thought of my mom and my ancestors, and life's connectedness. The words are really powerful;

And the spirit of life calling
And a voice
With the fear of a child asking

There's no mountain too great
Hear these words and have faith
Have faith

They live in you
They live in me

They're watching over
Everything we see
In every creature
In every star
In your reflection
They live in you

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Parting Gift Sunset

The sunsets on the West Coast are spectacular!

I was on the balcony of our hotel suite at Sanoviv in Rosarita, Mexico with my girlfriend one evening watching the sunset.

She made the comment,"They are all pretty much the same," and went inside.

"Huh?" I said.

Had she been with me the last night of my stay, she might have taken back her words. I was visually and spiritually gifted by this parting sunset in Mexico. My attempt to capture the visual spectacle in photographs follows.

First, visualize these first two pictures side by side to get an idea of the full color display in the sky..........

The brightest spot as the sun set.........

And finale.......

May you get an inkling of the beauty of my parting gift sunset.

NO WAY are all sunsets the same!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Challenge of a New Art Medium

Do you ever feel stuck?  Similar to writer's block, but for a visual artist it feels more like doing the same thing over and over again.  After twenty-five years exploring watercolors, I am beginning to feel the urge to try something new. 

Jump start creativity?  Last time I felt this way, I began to tear up old watercolor paintings and create new paintings (watercolor collage paintings). Talk about a metaphor!  As a challenge of new art media, I have been playing with water-based oil paints (sounds like a misnomer) and tried a few small acrylic paintings.  

Most recently, I have picked up a watercolor pencil set.  Now, you are probably thinking that is not so different for an artist who has painted with watercolors. BUT IT IS! TOTALLY DIFFERENT! For you  control freaks, watercolor pencils are a more controlable medium..........well, until you add the water :)  It even looks different. AMAZING!

Later, I am off on another discovery...........

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Primrose, a Metaphor of Life

In my readings I have come across several people who have tapped into their inherit strength in order to overcome huge obstacles in their lives. From people such as Helen Keller to single parents raising children, the list is enormous and inspiring.

Today I noticed one of my primroses from last year deciding to bloom out of the muck of brown leaves. It reminded me of the struggles of life which we fall prey to and how from the muck we manage to shine so brilliantly as we reach our highest potential.

This tiny primrose serves as a metaphor of life.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Light at Sunset on the Water

Twice a week I get to tutor a student whose family lives on the water in Boston Harbor. Needless to say, it is a beautiful setting and both the student and I will get distracted by the changes that occur outside our window.  Actually, I have always wondered why his mother chose the dining room for us to work?  Mind you, we are doing school homework, but he is an artist at heart.

Together we oooh and aaah at what we see in-between math and reading.  Our timing is perfect since we begin at 4:00PM and end at 5:00PM.  It has to be the most spectacular time of day for dramatic lighting. One week we watched an incredible wind storm spread across the water with white caps leaping.  Another evening the sun decided to come out just about time for it to set (rather typical here in the Pacific Northwest).  We watched a gorgeous light show on the water and shared our enjoyment. Tonight it was a FULL rainbow!

How many people take the time to appreciate the beauty that surrounds them, especially with children?  I suppose I could have been a real task master and kept to the homework, but being aware of our natural surroundings in the moment is important, too.  It brings us joy and pleasure which is vital to our well-being.  And my little friend is also learning an appreciation for nature.  What could be a better lesson?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Every Picture Tells a Story

Makes me think of Rod Steward. Does that date me?

Today, as I walked my dog, I was on an adventure to photograph nature for my next watercolor paintings. I pass this setting every day either when walking or driving in my car.

What is the story?

A long time ago this tree ent was the sentinel of this forest in the Pacific Northwest. He was a friendly character but took his job seriously. For many years, the area was very safe and the creatures of the forest were happy.

Next thing you know, human beings began to encroach on the tree ent's forest domain. The addition of the swing was at first alarming, but he enjoyed the laughter and joy of the children. His job description expanded to include protecting the children who came to swing and play at his feet. The tree ent was proud of his role.

One day a most disturbing occurrence changed everything. Someone evaluated his job and decided that the tree ent was not sufficient for the task at hand. No one spoke to him about this matter or made any suggestions for improvement. There was definitely a lack of communication. Much to the tree ent's alarm and pain, a human nailed a sign, "No Trespassing" on his tummy. How inconsiderate!

Now his job has been downsized; to greet people passing by and provide them with a chuckle or two while informing trespassers they are no longer welcome in this neck of the woods.