Monday, December 28, 2009

Young Barn Swallow

This graphite study of a juvenile barn swallow is a departure from my usual subject matter.  Upon request, it is one of two bird drawings I will complete for an upcoming exhibit in Ohio several months from now.  (If you saw the previous post of it as a work-in-progress, you may be wondering what happened to the brown paper -- but said color was simply the result of a poor photographer!)  The photo references for this were obtained when my son and I came upon this swallow and its two siblings on our horse fence.  They seemed quite unconcerned with us, and so we were able to get little more than arm's length from them with the camera.  This piece may warrant a little tweaking still:  for instance the background tones seem a little dark, so I may perform a little lift-and-blend operation.  As fresh-eyed onlookers, what do you think?  Too dark?

Barn swallows are an engaging and lovely little bird.  Their iridescent blue feathers are striking, and can go unappreciated unless one sees them up close.  The killing of barn swallows for their feathers was just one issue that prompted the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, thus protecting them as well as many other migratory species.  Each season after their offspring fledge, they congregate in groups on the edges of fields and forests prior to their long migration to Central or South America.

For many years I have watched and been fascinated by barn swallows as an observer at the northern-end of their yearly cycle.  Suddenly on a day every April,  two or three of them will arrive happily at the horse barn and I will know that it is about to occur -- and within several days the air is filled with dozens of swooping, diving, calling, seemingly joyous barn swallows.  Their singlemindedness of purpose is admirable, and they waste no time rebuilding a nest or occupying an already existing one.  Most will produce two broods by early August, and then by early September they are gone just as quickly as they came -- leaving the barn and the surrounding sky quiet and empty until the following spring.

In a way, they mark the passage of time with their abrupt arrival and departure each year -- and for me, more so than the arrival of each new year seems to. 

But 2010 fast approaches -- so a Happy New Year to you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

.........and to all a good night!

"Button", my son's long-outgrown and good-natured pony,  was good enough to tolerate the taking of this holiday-inspired photo of her.  Truth be told she was not thrilled with the hat: possibly any self-respecting pony would choose not to wear a Santa cap, given the option.  It proved to be a challenge getting more of her in the shot, as I found it necessary to hold the cap on her head with my left hand, while taking the photo with my each time I let go with my left, she dumped the Santa cap.  Bah humbug!

As Christmas Day fast approaches and I reflect over the past year, I am struck by how much my (usually well-ordered) life has become interspersed with change, emotional and spiritual growth, and milestones.  There have been first-time goals reached in relation to my art, such as the Hudson Gallery Exhibition and attaining signature status in the CPSA.  I have had the opportunity to develop tremendous bonds with people I cherish, and have also experienced agonizing losses.  Ever-present on my mind, whether at the edge or in full-awareness, is the fact that my son is a senior in high school and applying to colleges.  In many ways, life may never be the same.  The new year may bring many changes.

I began this blog in June of 2009 -- a mere six months ago -- feeling uncertain and self-conscious.  It had been many years since I had written much of anything for any reason.  However much to my surprise I have found that I actually enjoy blogging -- in fact, I enjoy it a great deal.  So what I originally planned as a year-long 'experiment' (which went something like, "I'm sure it is going to be a horrible experience, but I'll try it for a year............") will now go on indefinitely...........or until I have nothing further to say! 

I thank those of you who stop in and take a few minutes to read my blog, those who take the time to leave a comment, those who share their wonderful sense of humor or a bit of their own experience.  As is probably the case with many types of endeavors, I am finding that making serious pursuit of one's artwork (for the first time) in midde-age is not for the faint-hearted. Consequently, whether we be dear long-time friends or more recent acquaintances, I so appreciate your support and validation.  It is a pleasure for me to become acquainted with others in the blogging community, and I look forward to continuing to follow your careers and journeys.  Blogging has also warranted me the opportunity to correspond with persons in other countries - Canada, Australia, France, and Scotland, to name several - and what a joy it is to expand the perameters of my own world in this way. 

May your life be an inspiration to yourself and others.  Merry Christmas to you and yours.  As always, thankyou so much for reading.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Work-In-Progress: Close-up of Barn Swallow

It has been some time since I worked in graphite, and it is a pleasure to return to it.  Even more than that, it has been about three decades (yes, three decades) since my previous bird drawings.  It may have been one of those serendipitous events that I was recently asked to provide one or two bird drawings for an upcoming gallery I am thoroughly enjoying the subject matter, and may not have made the decision myself to revisit it.

I love birds.  LOVE birds.  Who would have thought?  I was raised by an avid bird watcher, who provided lengthy commentary on every purple-crested-what-cha-ma-call-it known to man.  My father made sure that I knew more bird species by age twelve than most persons learn in their entire lifetime.  And I in turn was a typical, rather contentious, and very bored young person, with much bigger fish to fry than learning bird species!

Or so I thought.  In spite of myself I learned, and through my adulthood I have become just as fascinated with birds as is my father.  Consequently I have gone on to bore my son even more than my father did me, and who knows?  Maybe someday my son and I will have a riveting conversation about the migration patterns of the elusive gray catbird................Okay, alright; I won't hold my breath on that one!  I'd settle for him not remembering his mom as the nut he discovered standing outside the kitchen window one frigid winter morning, unmoving, frozen in position with seed-filled hand raised high.  (And I'll have you know it only took two ten-minute 'statue sessions', on two consecutive days, to get those chickadees to feed out of my hand -- it was amazing!)  I was absolutely awestruck when I held a stunned American Kestral, who then took flight from my hands -- and I still try to save every fallen or seemingly abandoned baby bird who's path I cross.

Thankyou Dad.        

Sunday, November 22, 2009


My schedule over the past several weeks has not allowed me to make as much progress on my current work as I would have liked. Though the techniques I'm employing in this piece are proving to be very time-consuming, I am pleased with the sense of depth achieved in the finished areas.

In this drawing I am tending to work in numerous light layers of pencil, often blending colors in between the layers with a stiff oil painting brush. The base layer was laid in using indigo blue, cool grey 90%, and walnut brown: the detail layers are then built on top of that using these same colors in addition to black, black grape, burnt ochre, bronze, and several values of french grey.

I am reminded of (and amused by) something artist and instructor Linda Lucas Hardy said to me at the 2007 CPSA convention in Bethesda, Maryland. Observing my tendency to work in many ultra-light layers of color, she said (in her loving way, as everything Linda says sounds loving......and very Texas), "Lynda; you are laying down alot of wax, but not much pigment." It sure did not take her long to get my number! I've thought about her comment many times since then, and have come to realize that at times my tendency to layer so lightly is a reflection of my own lack of confidence. Ahhh..........yet one more issue to work on.

Over the next few weeks I will be alternating between this piece, as well as one or two graphite drawings of birds that I am starting. It has been some time since I have worked in graphite, and I am looking forward to the diversion and the challenge.

Thanks for stopping in.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

S-t-r-e-t-c-h-ing Myself Through Oil Painting: (or, "Journey into the Black Hole")

Completed nearly forty years ago when I was in the 5th grade, and affectionately dubbed "Sunrise Over Fruit Bowl" by Massachusetts artist Debbi Friedman, the above was my first (and last) oil painting.

I have been interested in the arts from a very young age: drawing more so than painting, whether in graphite, colored pencil, or pen-and-ink. Drawing always seemed to come very naturally to me, and I have done precious little painting over time. Since returning to my artwork several years ago however, I have increasingly had the desire to try my hand at oil painting. I mean, hard can it be?, I thought.

Gradually over the past few months, I have collected those items that I knew would be needed to make an attempt at oil painting: a canvas, brushes, linseed oil, odorless turpentine, stand oil, palette, and brush cleaner. Then little more than a week ago I took the final step and purchased five tubes of oil paint -- black, white, cadmium red, cobalt blue, and cadmium yellow. I remembered hearing that any color can be mixed from the three primary colors, so no need to go overboard, right? Debbi was quick to let me know that I may want to invest in more colors, but really, once difficult could this paint mixing be? And besides: I was simply experimenting........trying it out. (THIS assessment from a woman with 400 different pencil colors.)

So, three mornings ago I decided that that was the day. Given the fact that there is a work-in-progress in my drawing room currently, I chose to spread my newly acquired oil painting supplies strategically around on the kitchen table -- and I sat down to get to work.

The self-commentary and inane questions began almost immediately. Is it possible to layer this dark-to-light, in much the same way I do colored pencils? ( What is meant by the term "glaze" as it pertains to oil painting?........ I don't think I bought enough oil painting brushes; I wonder how water color brushes will work............... Is it best to work wet-on-wet?.......or wet-on-dry? For what reason did I buy stand oil? I can't remember...............I can't believe that some artists produce such stunning portraits with this..................... If I thin the paint with turpentine as opposed to linseed oil, will it dry faster? (At some point during all this I burst out into a loud hyena-like laugh, causing the retrievers to look up in an alarmed fashion.) How do you stir this stuff???........ Its thirty-eight degrees outside; is it really necessary that I well-ventilate this room?........... I think Debbi was right; I need more colors............ What exactly is meant by the term viscosity? (The property of a fluid that resists the force that tends to cause that fluid to flow.)

You get where I'm going here: this was no easy feat for me. After nearly an hour"painting", I put away my supplies and returned to my drafting table to lick the wounds on my bruised artistic ego. (The fact that I recently encouraged another artist to keep at it, despite his unfamiliarity with sanded pastel paper, comes to mind.) And I will keep at it, perhaps engaging in my second painting session sometime this week -- using the things I learned not to do from last week's adventure (and right after I obtain more paint colors). Needless to say, my admiration for those who paint has increased dramatically.

The result of my endeavor was an unrecognizable blue jay feather. Debbi said that feathers are difficult, which made me feel a little better (even if she was saying it for that purpose). Another close friend, Elizabeth Patterson of California, summed the experience up with, "I think that maybe you need to take a class".

Clearly. (loud hyena-like laugh)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tribute: Human Nature as a 'Work-in-Progress'

For the past two weeks much of my focus has been on other than my drawing, rightfully so. Several days ago we lost a vital member of my extended family.

Doris Van Wagner was one of the most creative persons I have ever known: not only in regard to her designing, quilt-making, painting, and crafting, but simply in the way she executed her life. She was young, very young; only forty-seven years old -- and for the past twelve years she fought a tremendously courageous battle with illness. One could say she lost her battle with cancer -- or because of the type of person she was, one could say that she ultimately won her battle with life.

So as is my nature I have engaged in a tremendous amount of introspection as of late. I cannot adequately put into words how much it meant to me to be able to spend time in her home, with her immediate family and close friends, during the last couple weeks of Doris's life. I've given a great deal of thought to what I've learned (and relearned) from my cousins Doris and Tommy, as well as strong bonds created with other family members during this process. Though some of these principles may seem simple and obvious, here is much of what Doris and this experience has left to me.

1) Try to remember that we never know what is going to happen, or when. What is, or what we think may be, can all change tomorrow.

2) Really cherish whom and what you cherish: not only in thought and feelings, but through actions as well. Do not let time pass without letting others know how important they are to you.

3) Dare to be an emotionally strong person. When life calls on you with its toughest challenges -- even if you think you simply cannot handle it -- do it anyway. You can handle it.

4) Be as honest as you can with others, without causing harm. Speak gently. Do not speak ill of others.

5) Identify those things that you are passionate about, and pursue them with vigor. Work hard to develop them, even if it means doing things that you are afraid to do. Take risk, after risk, after risk. Fear subsides when it is faced head-on. What pulls at your soul?......Do not pretend it does not exist.

6) Life is too short and too precious to allow ourselves to be worn down by negative persons and experiences. Do not allow your soul to be sacrificed in this way. Take care of yourself; even if this requires you to have the courage to make tough decisions.

7) Do not be angry; and if you are, don't hang onto it unduly.

8) Forgive others whenever possible. Remember that someday you may need someone to forgive you.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Telling a Story

Regardless of whether I am observing another artist's work or making compositional decisions about my own, I often am most drawn to images that tell a story. The story may not be obvious, but rather implied -- through the visual narrative, gestures, or the look in a subject's eyes --causing me to derive meaning and subsequently emotion, from an image. That may be the primary reason I feel compelled to draw people; I seek to convey a feeling, a story.

For me, my current work-in-progress is a compelling story. It is an image chosen from literally hundreds taken of wild horses in both South Dakota and Wyoming. There was simply something about these two particular wild horses that grabbed me, and continued to grab me -- as I have returned to their photo images many times over the past couple of years, only to put them away again and begin work on something else.

According to some sources there are approximately 38,000 wild horses in the United States that live on the range. Another 30,000 are cared for in corrals and pastures funded by the government following their capture by the Bureau of Land Management. The stated reasons for these wild horse round-ups includes the fact that there is not enough viable range land to sustain herds (a fact disputed by many), and competition by large livestock ranchers for the resources of food and water. Wild horse proponents assert that the BLM has regularly removed horses from the range at the urging of cattle ranchers, and without adequate land studies. And the round-ups themselves are another source of tremendous controversy. Frequently conducted using helicopters to drive the horses, many are injured or killed during the process, and foals too young to sustain themselves are separated from their mothers. Though some of those in captivity are adopted out through the BLM program, many go to meat-buyers and slaughterhouses. Over time the BLM has acquired so many wild horses and burros in captivity, they may engage in mass euthanasia to deal with the numbers and subsequent cost. Admittedly, I do not know enough about this issue to have developed an opinion about what specifically should be done -- but arguments against the BLM's practices are extremely compelling, and seek to place the welfare of wild horse herds as a top priority. I have been fortunate enough to have walked among wild horses and photographed them in their natural habitat -- and the experience was like no other.

With that as a backdrop, I return to my work-in-progress. It is one of my larger pencil pieces to date, being approximately 22" x 30". It portrays two wild horses that had been captured by the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming, freeze-branded, tagged, and placed in holding pens. The dark horse (partially completed above) stares right at the viewer; the pale horse, whose rendering is not yet begun, has his head hung and face buried tiredly and sadly into the neck of the dark horse. Their recent struggle is evidenced by the blood and grass stains on the coat of the lighter horse. It is an evocative image that truly tells a story, and I wonder at this moment -- whatever happened to those two horses?

For more information (on both sides of the controversy) visit the Bureau of Land Management website at or the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Road-Trip: Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

Recently my husband and I visited the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta, Michigan, for the purpose of obtaining potential photo references. Originally developed in 1927 as a refuge for migratory birds, the 180 acre sanctuary also became an important part of Michigan's Trumpeter Swan restoration project in the 1980s. It features numerous species of waterfowl in their natural habitat, as well as birds of prey enclosures displaying a number of raptors and owls. I found that we were able to get so close to many of the bird species with our camera equipment, that I have many more resources than I could ever dream of using. Bird photos, anyone?
While en route to the bird sanctuary we accidentally happened upon quite a gem. Much as I hate to admit it, I was more than a little cranky that we had not stopped for breakfast prior to arriving in Augusta which is more than an hour from our home...............because upon first glance it appeared that there was no food to be had in Augusta! Then just slightly off the main street we happened upon 'A Food Affair Cafe', a gourmet restaurant owned by chef Jared Dellario, and his mother Cheryl Dellario. 'A Food Affair Cafe' strives to use products made and grown in Michigan in an effort to help sustain the state's economy, and rightfully prides itself on the fact that all menu items are made from scratch and from the freshest ingredients available. It is truly fine dining, in a comfortable and casual atmosphere adorned with fine art by local artists. Both of us felt that it was one of the best restaurant meals we have had in quite some time.............and enough cannot be said about the level of hospitality we were shown. Because we arrived earlier than most Sunday patrons we had the opportunity to talk with the owners as well as "Rachel" our waitress, and we truly enjoyed meeting and chatting with them. So in sum, stop in to 'A Food Affair Cafe' for a great meal; even if Augusta is a little off of your beaten path, you will find it well-worth the detour.
The past couple of weeks it may seem as if I am doing more running around than I am drawing -- and relatively speaking that may be true when compared to the big push I experienced in July and August just prior to the gallery show. But truly, I am drawing; and in fact am working on the largest piece I've done to date. It is currently experiencing its "ugly-phase" -- or one of the many, considering its size. A work-in-progress photo will be posted soon.
Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Quest for the West": Road trip to Indianapolis

Over this past weekend I visited the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. The Eiteljorg is the type of gem rarely found east of the Mississippi River, and is currently host to the fourth annual Quest for the West Art Show and Sale.

Quest for the West features still lifes, portraiture, landscapes, wildlife, and narratives that focus on the culture of the American West. Though much of my own work is similarly themed, I have not had opportunities up to this point to see original works by some of today's top western artists. Living near the overlap of the rust belt and the corn belt one is, shall we say, western-deprived. I was absolutely thrilled to see original works by artists such as David Mann, John Buxton, Robert Griffing, John Fawcett, Roseta Santiago, and Daniel Smith, to name but a few.

However, it was while I slowly perused one of the museum's regular collections that I came upon what I found to be absolutely awe-inspiring: Howard Terpning's "Blessing From the Medicine Man". I consider myself to be fairly familiar with Terpning as an artist -- I have seen his work in books and magazines many times, and in our home we have several of his limited edition prints. Despite this, I was not prepared for how powerful his work is in person. I believe it is safe to say that I began to make the security guard a bit nervous, as evidenced by his repeated strolls back-and-forth behind me as I stood with my nose about fifteen inches from the surface of the painting while taking copious notes on a small piece of paper. I was bound-and-determined to discern what specific colors Terpning uses in his amazing skin tones. (I don't know if I figured it out exactly, but it sure gave me tremendous joy to try!)

My description of the Eiteljorg excursion would not be complete without mention of the Art-o-mat -- a retired cigarette machine which vends original pieces of art for a mere five-spot! I came upon this bit of intrigue while wandering the museum's second floor. The Art-o-mat was originally developed by artist Clark Whittington in 1997, and there are now 82 of them in various locations around the United States. One can even become an Art-o-mat artist: just follow the above link to find out how. (Please pay no attention to the photographer in the mirrored front of the Art-o-mat above!)

So in sum, the Eiteljorg Museum is a great way to spend an afternoon for those with an interest in western or Native American Art. If any readers have been there or visit in the future, I'd love to hear your impressions.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Opening Reception: "Line by Line"

There are times when one wishes there were three of oneself, and for me the "Line by Line" artists' reception, with fellow Michigan artists Bonnie Auten and Dianna Soisson, was one of those times. I thoroughly enjoyed mingling, chatting, and times laughing way too loud.........with those who attended. We truly appreciated the many who came out to see us and our work - even given the great football games whose air times overlapped with the reception! Many kudos to Scott and Barbara Hudson for putting on a very nice event. The exhibition will continue at the Hudson Gallery in downtown Sylvania, Ohio, through September 29, 2009.

Now its time for me to attempt to regain increased focus on my work, so look for new work-in-progress in the near future. I have spent much of the past few days acclimating to a new Toshiba laptop computer with a different operating system than what I have become accustomed to, and an unfamiliar photo imaging program. Thankfully however, I have a couple of close friends who are much smarter than I concerning computers, and they are ever-gracious when I repeatedly call on their expertise. The laptop will be used primarily for all things related to my artwork -- digital submissions, storing photo references, reformatting art images, blogging, website maintenance, etc. -- and will be adorned with a large sign which reads, "NO TEENAGERS ALLOWED". (I know some of you are feeling my pain.)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Line by Line - Three Women Working in Colored Pencil": September 1 - 29, 2009

Throughout the month of September, "Line by Line: Three Women Working in Colored Pencil", will be on display at the Hudson Gallery in Sylvania, Ohio. The artist's reception will be held on Saturday, September 12, 2009, from 5 - 7 p.m.

The show features approximately thirty colored pencil works by Michigan artists Bonnie Auten, Dianna Wallace Soisson, and myself. It is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to exhibit with two such gifted artists. From Bonnie's engaging and vibrant still lifes, to Dianna's lovely florals and water themes, to my western images -- this display provides a great deal of diversity, and has something for everyone.

The Hudson Gallery itself is located in the historic section of downtown Sylvania. It specializes in custom and archival framing, and is recognized as one of the area's top venues for original artwork. Owned by Scott and Barbara Hudson, the gallery is also a representative for Labino Glass and features contemporary art by various artists..............And an additional note regarding Scott and Barbara must be made here: one would be hard-pressed to find two lovelier and more genuine people. They are an absolute pleasure to work and talk with.

We hope to see you at the reception!

(In the above photo, clockwise: Whiskey Mountain Cowboy, by L. Schumacher; Rendezvous 1946, by B. Auten; and It's not the destination, it's the journey, by D. Wallace Soisson)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Work-in-Progress: Close-up of "Rope & Pulley"

On our small horse farm we are fortunate to have one of those 100+ year-old, three-story wooden barns, and are even more fortunate that it is in exceptional condition. Over the years I have found various 'treasures' in that barn, such as the writing on a wall indicating that it was built in 1884. But more often than I'd care to admit I am guilty of running through my life on auto-pilot. Consequently I sometimes do not really see what is around me. Such was the case with the subject of "Rope and Pulley", the current piece which I am very near to completing.

The old iron and wood pulley hangs on an oak beam near one of the barn doors that I rarely use. Despite this I have walked by it countless times, never really noticing what a fascinating object it is............until one morning in early July it captured my attention. According to my neighbor Wilbur, an eighty-five year old gentleman who owned and operated our farm for several decades, the pulley and its accompanying iron hook were used to lift hay into the hay mow. One end of the rope was attached to horses outside the barn, who would lift the hay via pulley when driven to walk forward.

I look forward to finishing this piece -- hopefully a couple of more days will do it -- and then plan on taking a brief 'break' from drawing during which I'm going to embark on a search for a new laptop computer. Incidentally, when talking with an out-of-state friend today I described our barn as structurally resembling one of the old "Mail Pouch barns" , and was surprised to find that not everyone knows what a "Mail Pouch barn" is!.................(I won't mention any names, but..........the link will further the education of those not familiar with this agricultural icon!)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Art Kudos Exhibition and Upcoming Hudson Gallery Show

On August 15, the 2009 Art Kudos International Competition and Exhibition opened featuring artists from fifteen countries. I'm pleased that my graphite, "Canadian Cowboy", was accepted as one of the 132 finalists in the exhibition. Fellow Colored Pencil Society of America member Holly Bedrosian was also accepted as a finalist. The finalists and award winners will be posted online for one year, after which the exhibition will be available through the Art Kudos archives.
It seems to have taken me a long time to recover from the CPSA convention week in Atlanta, Georgia, which was followed several days later by a quick trip to my brother's home in Michigan's upper peninsula. Both my 17-year old son and I were challenged by 20 hours of each other's constant company during the drive there and back over four days!
In the mean time, I am excited about and have been preparing for my first gallery exhibit: a three-person show with fellow colored pencil artists Bonnie Auten and Dianna Soisson, both of Michigan. The show will take place at the Hudson Gallery in Sylvania, Ohio from September 1 - 26, 2009, with the opening reception on Saturday, September 12, from 5 - 7 p.m. I, who am not accustomed to working under rather short deadlines, am scrambling to get the last piece finished in time to be photographed and framed for the show. (I've realized it is good for me; I need to put myself in the position of having a deadline more often.) More detailed information regarding this exhibit soon.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Colored Pencil Society of America 17th International Exhibition

What an experience the past few days in Atlanta, Georgia have been! Though tired and feeling somewhat bedraggled since my return home late yesterday, the Colored Pencil Society of America's 17th International Exhibition was a tremendous experience. I so enjoyed the time spent with good, old friends, as well as developing friendships with artists I'd not met before. As usual, the quality of artwork in the exhibition was exceptional. Many thanks are due to the CPSA board members who keep the wheels of this large organization turning, in addition to planning the exhibitions, convention week, and other events. The exhibition will continue on display at the Jacqueline C. Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth, Georgia until August 29, 2009. Award winners can be viewed at .

In addition to the exhibition and convention itself, a highlight for me was the fact that several family members from the Atlanta area, as well as up to several hours away, attended the exhibition and opening reception. I am so fortunate to have such supportive family and friends: it means so much to me.

Photos from top to bottom are: 1) awards night banquet; 2) Neil and Jean Fletcher, my uncle and aunt from Tallahassee, Florida, and I with my piece, "This Above All"; 3) Deborah L. Friedman of Massachusetts, with "Garden, Late Summer"; 4) Dee Overly of Michigan with "Crossing the Elements"; 5) Bonnie Auten of Michigan, winner of an Award for Excellence for "Sweet Temptations"; 6) Elizabeth Patterson of California, winner of the Robert Guthrie Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement for "Sunset at Sweetzer, 11 pm".

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Off to Atlanta

Early tomorrow I leave for Atlanta, Georgia, to attend convention week of the Colored Pencil Society of America's 17th International Exhibition. This will be the third time I have attended this event, and I have grown to thoroughly enjoy it. The convention week schedule includes workshops, an artists' reception, the awards banquet, and a national membership meeting.
In general my involvement in CPSA has provided wonderful opportunities to network with other artists, as well as form close friendships. In addition it has helped my confidence as an artist to increase dramatically. A 'shout-out' is due to artist Gary Greene of Washington state who, during a workshop he taught in Traverse City, Michigan several years ago, strongly encouraged me to become a member of CPSA. He also made it very clear that if I did not start drawing more, I would regret it someday.
I'm sure he was right -- though it is my plan to not find out.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"Canadian Cowgirl" (retrieved from the flat file!), and Exhibition News

You may recall that my then nearly-completed work "Canadian Cowgirl" (close-up shown) was placed into flat file exile -- an effort on my part to gain some, shall we say, 'artistic perspective'. Since taking her out of hiding several days ago I have completed the background tone and tweaked several areas. As are most artists I know, I tend to very hard on myself and my own work; so after not working on the drawing for about three weeks I fully expected to see glaring mistakes calling for some significant changes.............but I didn't. Instead I was rather surprised to find that 1) I was much more satisfied with the drawing than I initially realized, and 2) regardless of that, I will change, tweak, alter, correct, and nit-pick............and at some point I simply have to make the decision to call it done.
Aside from that, I very recently received notification that I have had work accepted into the 2009 Art Kudos International Exhibition. At least fourteen countries will be represented in this online show, made up of 140 works of art chosen from nearly 1200 entries. Beginning on August 15, 2009, the group of finalists and the award winners can be viewed online at .

Monday, July 20, 2009

Facebook and Artists

Area artists will be able to take advantage of the upcoming seminar, "Facebook and Artists", to be presented by Ypsilanti artist and educator Dee Overly. The Riverside Art Center will host the half-day event on two separate dates: July 25 and August 8, 2009.

Facebook, as well as other social networking sites, can be valuable tools for art marketing. This is a how-to seminar, during which Dee will provide specific ways for artists to utilize Facebook to capitalize on their online presence. More details and registration information can be obtained at .

For the time being I will be remaining somewhat Facebook-illiterate ................ what with the Atlanta CPSA Convention Week looming on the horizon, followed by a three-person show that I'm in (rather frantic) preparations for. I have attended Dee's seminars previously however and highly recommend them: both for the comprehensive nature of the material presented, as well as its practical application.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Toledo Museum of Art 91st Annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition

Several days ago I attended the opening reception for the 91st Annual Toledo Area Artists Exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art . I thoroughly enjoyed the quality and diversity of the art in the exhibition, as well as what I saw of other galleries at the museum.
The Toledo Museum of Art features 35 galleries and over 30,000 works of art. This includes pieces by Cezanne, Degas, VanGogh, Rubens, Rembrandt, Picasso, and Monet. In addition they offer various art classes, and programs for families and children.
The Toledo Area Artists Exhibition will be on display until August 23, 2009, and features 119 works by 96 artists. The show was organized by the Toledo Museum of Art and the Toledo Federation of Art Societies, and was juried by Cleveland artist Ruth Bercaw and Jessica Flores, curator of contemporary art at the Cincinnati Art Museum. It is open to Ohio artists, as well as those from two Michigan counties. "Hasn't Scratched Yet", (above) a colored pencil work by Tecumseh, Michigan artist Bonnie Auten, was juried into the exhibition.
If you are in the Toledo area, the museum itself and the exhibit are well worth the visit. Museum and visitor information can be obtained at .

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Work-in-Progress: "Canadian Cowgirl" Nearly Completed

Originally I had hoped to have my current work-in-progress completed by last week. About Tuesday however, I began to realize that finishing it meant I would be rushing certain aspects of the piece -- something I chose not to do after conferring with a couple of other (very wise) artists. It was not worth risking the many hours I'd already put into the drawing, for the sake of a self-imposed deadline.

Through the time it takes and the process of each drawing, I seem to lose objectivity; the ability to see the piece clearly and evaluate problem areas honestly. I have become increasingly aware of this 'phenomenon' over the past couple of years, and occasionally will send an image via email to another artist and request that they "be my eyes". Though I sometimes will use the strategy of holding the drawing up to a mirror to survey the reverse image, which often will make problem areas of the artwork easier to see, this only seems to work just so-far for me.

Almost always upon completing a piece I immediately take it to be photographed, and then framed. Rarely do I simply put it away in a flat file drawer -- long enough for my objectivity regarding the drawing to return.

This time I am doing just that, at the suggestion of California artist Elizabeth Patterson -- even before the background color is laid in. I look forward to being able to see the drawing with more integrity when I pull it from that flat file drawer in a couple of weeks. I'll let you know what I learn.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Colored Pencil Society of America 17th International Exhibition: July 9 - August 29, 2009

The Jacqueline C. Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth, Georgia, will host the 17th Annual International Exhibition of The Colored Pencil Society of America. The approximately 125 colored pencil works that make up the exhibit were chosen by juror Graham C. Boettcher from several hundred submissions. Mr. Boettcher is the William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama.

My piece, "This Above All" has been juried into the exhibition. In addition I will obtain CPSA signature status as a result of being juried into three international exhibitions within ten years, and fellow artist and close friend Deborah Friedman (MA) will be receiving her signature status as well. So despite my issues with flying (and this is the last time..............ever...................really), I will be traveling to Atlanta for CPSA Convention Week.

My congratulations to the other artists accepted into the exhibition. For further details about The Colored Pencil Society of America and the international exhibition visit .

Monday, June 22, 2009

Work-in-Progress: Close-Up from "Canadian Cowgirl"

My current work-in-progress is an approximately 22 x 15 colored pencil drawing of a cowgirl that I began several weeks ago. It is done on sanded pastel paper, as most of my work is: its surface can take almost any abuse I may heap on it...........(and good thing, as this piece has been very challenging at times!)

The photograph is a close-up image of the cowgirl's leather gloves, and shows the process I used in developing them. I started with a grisaille, or an under-drawing done in different shades of gray. The term 'grisaille' itself is derived from the french word 'gris', which means gray. Value drawings of this type are often executed in browns or sepia tones as well.

After laying in the grisaille, I developed the final and more detailed layers. In this case I used black grape, dark brown , indigo, brown ochre, greyed lavender, and several shades of gray. The top glove shows the difference between a portion of the glove that is fully completed, and the grisaille.

Increasingly I find myself choosing to use a grisaille technique in browns or grays; for me, it seems particularly useful when rendering leather or various types of fabrics.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ann Arbor Women Artists (and a few good men) Summer 2009 Exhibit

The Riverside Gallery in Ypsilanti, Michigan is host to the Ann Arbor Women Artists' Summer 2009 Juried Exhibit through June 27th. Of the exhibit juror Beth J. Steinkellner said, "...Whether contrasting colors, light and dark, line and form, the result is a lively exhibition that draws viewers to smile, feel, remember, construct narratives, and ask questions". At the opening reception on June 13th the 1st Place award was given to Kristen Letts Kovak for "Butter and Margarine", Bill Knudstrup received 2nd Place for "Catching Air", and 3rd Place went to Joan Miller for "Hands over Time". Honorable Mentions were granted to Barbara Melnick Carson, Marie Glysson, Marilyn Marsh, Sandi Miller, Vickie Peterson-Michalak, and Marty Walker.

Monday, June 15, 2009

To Blog, or not to Blog

Nearly one year ago I sat in downtown Seattle with artists Deborah Friedman and Dee Overly, and I was adamant: under no circumstances was I going to start a blog. And I had valid reasons for my resistance. For one thing, I didn't have the time (for goodness sake!) For another, what if I began a blog then found I had little of value to say?................Or, horror of horrors, no one reads it.

Over the months, I've come to realize that any reasons I may have generated were merely discomfort over tackling yet another unfamiliar bit of territory. So here I am, starting a blog. I plan to include posts regarding exhibitions, works-in-progress, art-related information and news, and an occasional anecdote.

So welcome, and stop back soon.