Wednesday, October 8, 2014


"Oh Goody." Encaustic, thread and ink transfer, 9 x 12 inches

There is a lot of advice flying around these days. Especially if you are an artist, it seems. I know everyone is genuinely trying to help. Believe me, I can use a lot of help! It is nice to know that people care enough to offer advice. There was a time when I would rebel against any suggestion tossed my way. After struggling and struggling, I decided to start listening to advice and feedback. I even began to seek it out. That was pretty good. Lately, however, I have become more discerning. Some advice just doesn't seem to have any merit, at least not for me. Here's the tough question: How does a person know when to take the advice, and when to just leave it alone?

I am not sure I have a definitive answer. What I have decided is that if I'm uncertain about the advice, I have to listen to my own instincts. Sometimes, the suggestion just isn't going to work for me. Here's one example: believe it or not, one of the most difficult things for an artist is to create a regular studio practice. There are so many things in life that tear us away from making art: marketing, household tasks, errands, bills, business, social events, openings, family obligations, ....the list goes on. One thing I have heard from experienced artists is this little bit of advice: go into the studio first thing in the morning. Before you do anything else, go make art. It sounds good. It sounds like something that would solve the problem of distractions! But after years of painting on my own, I can tell you with absolute certainty that this DOES NOT WORK FOR ME. I am not a morning person. Even though I wake up early, I am not *really* awake until around 10 or 11 am. I like to walk with Pono first thing in the morning. (well, I might have a cup of coffee first, and then walk, depending on how hot it's going to be that day.) Then, I like to feed the dog and eat and do dishes and sweep the floor, check email, maybe do a load of laundry, and take care of some of the daily chores. Then, and only then, do I like to work in the studio. I feel I am at my creative best in the afternoon and evening. My muse is singing. All the "tasks" for the day have been cared for - I don't have any pressing things bogging me down mentally. Now I can paint, unfettered, until I am too tired to stand. That works for me.

Because once I am in the studio, nothing else gets done.

It took me a few years to accept that my way of working wasn't wrong. My way of working is my way of working. So what if the early bird gets the worm? Who wants a worm anyway? Not me.

What about you? How do you decide when advice is worth taking and when it is worth leaving?

A photo of the snake I nearly stepped on this morning. It didn't even rattle. I was the only one shaking. Maybe I needed one more cup of coffee....Advice? Oh, never mind.

I'm pretty sure this is a speckled rattler.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Roadrunner, snakes and art - a desert mix

Ahhhh...fall. This is a wonderful time of year to be in the desert. It's really a wonderful time of year to be just about anywhere, really, but since I am in the desert, I am saying "the desert." Cool nights, warm, sunny days. Can't beat it!!!

I have some exciting news!!! I just found out yesterday that one of my paintings was accepted into the Joshua Tree National Park Art Exposition!!! The opening reception is December 5th at the 29 Palms Art Gallery. The show runs until December 28th. I am joined by 53 other talented artists. You can read more about the show here: Below is the painting that was chosen:

"Predator." Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches
I am also part of a group show at the 29 Palms Gallery that opens this Sunday from noon to 3. The show was curated by Rhonda Coleman. This show will stay up during the Hwy. 62 Art Tours, if you can't make the opening this Sunday. Here is the poster for the show:

I have been seeing more snakes and evidence of snakes since the rainstorm. Yesterday, I saw a small snake, possibly a rosy boa, that had just caught a lizard. It was underneath a shrub, so I was unable to get a good photo. The lizard was still thrashing around in the snake's mouth! I wish I could have captured that moment, but I really didn't have a clear shot. (plus, there was a lot of quick movement by both snake and prey.) I do have these photos to share with you:

King Snake - maybe if I were a parselmouth, I could have convinced it to come out of the hole.

We spent the rest of the hike thinking "somewhere nearby is a very shiny snake!"
The Hwy. 62 Art Tours catalogs are back from the printers and many have been delivered to information centers in the high desert. You can also see the online version or order one online from the website.

How is your fall season so far? Leave me a comment - I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What's new

"Uplift." Oil on Canvas, 12 x 12 inches

We are still digging ourselves out after the big thunderstorm of last week. I am being entranced by the mud - patterns, textures, and quantity. Here are some "mud photos" from my camera phone:

I love mud cracks

These are antelope ground squirrel tracks. So tiny! Such long toenails!

backyard mud patterns

More backyard mud patterns.
It only took 5 days before little bits of green appeared after that rain. FIVE DAYS. I think that's impressive. I am living with the daily hope of seeing a hungry tortoise, now that there's something green to eat. I also live with the daily hope of seeing a tarantula - this is the season!!!!

What's new with you?

Friday, September 19, 2014

When it rains, it POURS

Every once and a while, nature reminds us to be humble. After months of little or no rain, a thunderstorm hit Joshua Tree upside the head. Last Tuesday, at around 3 pm or so, rain began to fall in our neighborhood. I was so excited, I ran outside and ran around the house several times, just to feel the drops hit my skin. I couldn't contain my excitement. The rain began to come down harder. Thunder and lightening. Terrified dog. Hail. Louder thunder and lightening. More rain. Hail. The backyard begins to look like a small creek. Then a river. Wind picks up. Now, my elation is turning into something else. The road in front of the house also looks like a river. More rain. Thunder is now loud enough that I jump each time. A loud >CRACK< and a bright, white light. (We think this may have been lightening hitting the house.) More rain. More hail.


Finally, after about an hour, the rain did stop. We were lucky. No water or mud came into our house or garage. No one was hurt. We ended up without internet for a few days, but for the most part, we were unscathed. Others were not so lucky. One man was killed after his car became stuck in the mud and a wall of water came down and rolled his car over several times. Many of our neighbors have mud in their garages and one house had a car buried in mud up past the hubcaps. Our road is washed out in several places. I have never seen anything like it. Ever.

I am a little tired of shoveling dirt and mud. We had to repair part of our driveway and remove mud from the sidewalk around our house. I am also trying to locate a sprinkler head that was beneath one of our trees. I still haven't found it. Trails that were once familiar paths where we walk Pono are now remodeled by the water and nearly unrecognizable. A reminder of the power of water.

Work in the studio has been interrupted somewhat by the storm frenzy and by husband coming home after being away. Nevertheless, I am gearing up for the Hwy 62 Art Tours October 25th & 26th and November 1st and 2nd. I have framed half a dozen small jackrabbit drawings and I am getting things wired for hanging, photographed and hung on the wall!!! Very exciting! If you haven't been to the desert for the Art Tours yet, I highly recommend it. You have a chance to see the studios of many area artists during the best time of the year (weather- wise). I will try to put in a word with the BIG GUY for no big thunderstorms during this event. ;) For more information about the Art Tours, click here.

I'm going to try to have some of these drawings available for sale online soon. I'll keep you updated!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Desert wonders

I have been working hard in the studio - so hard, in fact, that I haven't been sweeping the floor, dusting, cooking, or much of anything else. (this is unusual for me.) I haven't been very good at photographing everything I'm working on, either. But there will be an onslaught of photos soon, I hope.

Unless I have more days like today, where I worked and worked. Worked. Scraped away. Worked. Spilled wax on my favorite t-shirt, dropped a wax-filled brush on the floor - getting more wax where it shouldn't be. Then, I did a lovely jackrabbit drawing, transferred it to my encaustic painting, and then realized I had made it too small!!!! Aaargh......

Tomorrow is another day.

I did want to share with you the wildlife moment Pono and I had on our Sunday hike:

Yes, that is a roadrunner in the talons of this amazing hawk. I am not sure what kind of hawk it is. Cooper's? Red Tailed? Does anyone know?

Here is a  photo of a recent encaustic:

"Legs." (coyote) Encaustic, thread, twine and ink transfer on panel. 10 x 10 inches
I swear there will be more soon! I'm not trying to be a tease.

I leave teasing to the rain. I heard it poured in Yucca Valley - 6 minutes away. There was flooding in the lower desert. Here chez Pono? We got .02 inches. WIMPY!!!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

More Desert Creatures

Pono and I had a magical encounter with a desert tortoise yesterday morning on our hike. I took a video of it with my phone, which I had hoped to share with you. However, I can't seem to get the video to upload. Sorry about that. Photos instead...

Today's morning hike was all clouds and drama. As usual, no rain.

The studio has been absorbing most of my time and energy.

"Talking Roadrunner." Encaustic, thread, and ink transfer, 8 x 8 inches. 

There will be more work to share with you soon.

Thanks for all of your comments and emails! I cannot tell you how much it means to me.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Art and the rational mind

You may not know this about me, but my husband and I lived in Hawaii for a few years. We lived on the island of Maui. It was an incredible experience. We loved being near the ocean, where we could snorkel, surf and swim, but I also enjoyed having a chance to learn more about Hawaiian culture. I took a beginning hula class and really loved it. We miss it, but life had other plans for us, and now we are in the desert. Lately, I have been pining for Hawaii, for some of the things there that touched me so deeply. Since the hula was such a big part of living in Hawaii for me, I have been watching videos of hula to reminisce.

Some of you may be more familiar with Tahitian hula, rather than Hawaiian hula. Tahitian hula is much faster than Hawaiian hula. The dancers tend to wear elaborate headdresses, and the movement is focused more on the hips and less on the hands. There are two different kinds of Hawaiian Hula. One is the Auana hula. This is the Modern hula - the one with guitars, ukulele, dresses, flower leis - the one most of us are familiar with. My favorite kind of Hawaiian hula, however, is the ancient hula, called Kahiko. There is a lot of chanting, the dancers are usually adorned with greenery rather than flowers, and the instruments used are mostly the rhythm instruments like the Ipu (which is a drum made from a hollowed out gourd.) I have attached a video of women (wahine) performing kahiko hula, so if you haven't ever seen it before you can experience it for yourself.

It's often interesting for me to think about why I love the Hawaiian hula and chants so much. I don't speak Hawaiian, so I don't know what they are chanting most of the time. Yet it touches me deeply, and sometimes when I watch a hula performance, I am moved to tears. Have you ever loved music that is sung in a language you don't understand? What I have decided is that when we hear or see something that really touches us, it doesn't necessarily touch us intellectually. It touches our hearts. It touches our souls. Visual art can be like that too. There is always this initial desire for people to "understand" art. We think maybe if we understand it intellectually, then we will really be able to enjoy it. I don't think that's true. I think if it's something that touches us, it can touch us without our rational minds. It goes beyond that - it goes deeper.

Maybe the rational mind is a barrier between us and an ability to be touched by art. (Music, dance, painting, sculpture - I am putting all art into this word right now.)

I am curious to know what you think about this. Do you think you have to understand the words of a song to enjoy it? Do you think you really have to know what a painter is thinking in order to be touched by their painting?

"Untitled - arrangement on blue." Oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches