Saturday, August 30, 2008

Another neighbor

Before you say anything about this photo, I just want you to remember that my camera is only about 2 1/4 x 3 1/2 inches. It is a good camera, and I love it, but you can't expect the same results someone with a large, fancy camera will get. Despite the inadequacies of my camera, I had to share this photo with you, mainly for Priya's sake. She commented about the roadrunner, and talked about the cartoons with Wile E. Coyote and the roadrunner. I remember those well, and it really wasn't until I moved to the desert that I got to meet the inspirations for those two characters. Now they are my neighbors! I think that is pretty cool. This young coyote came to visit yesterday while we were eating dinner. I was so absorbed watching it, that my food got cold. I didn't mind. How often do you get to look out your window at a young coyote, anyway? (Now, Lee, I know you aren't fond of coyotes, but I really think you should give them a second chance. Look - he's smiling at you!)

I also thought you might like to see one of my new oil paintings. This one was a small watercolor that I blew up big, and painted it in oil. Now if I could just find those other missing watercolors, I could paint another one...

Early this morning, we were awakened by thunder and lightening! A rarity in these parts, for sure. It tried to rain all morning, but we only got a few little sprinkles. Still, it has made the air feel cool, and has been a nice change of pace from the usual hot desert sun beating down. I won't complain.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A visit

Today I was in my studio, cleaning up a little as part of a frenzied search for some lost watercolors, when I heard all this racket outside. It seemed quite loud, and I couldn't figure out what it might be. I thought there was a person outside the house or something. So I had to go out and investigate. I walked out the front door, and looked around. Finally, I turned my head to the right, and there, above the studio window was a roadrunner, scuffling about on the overhang! I love those roadrunners, and have wanted to sketch them for some time now. However, they are superfast, and usually I only catch a glimpse of them as they zoom past the house. It must have been the claws of the roadrunner I was hearing on the red tile of the overhang. Hoping for a miracle, I quickly ran inside to get my camera. Fortunately, the roadrunner was still there when I came out. I had just enough time to shoot this photo, before it jumped off and ran away. Still, it was a highlight!

Yes, the lost watercolors. I had done a series of little watercolors, and was intending to blow them up large in oil. I have already painted two, which you have seen. Well, I had quite a few more that I really liked, and today I was going to start on them. I can't find them!!!!!!! Can you believe it? I mean, I have a drawer that I keep them in, and they weren't in their drawer. I combed the entire studio, looking for those darn things. Being interrupted by the roadrunner was a salvation, in a way, since I was beginning to lose my temper! If you could all please send out a little prayer that I find my little watercolors, I would greatly appreciate it. I'm not kidding when I tell you that I finally had to re-direct my attention elsewhere, I was so frustrated! Where ARE they???!!! ugh. And to think I was getting so organized. So much for THAT notion.

Here is a lovely little red cactus that caught my eye this morning when I was out with Mr. Pono the dog. Enjoy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New Projects

Thanks to my friend, Carla Sonheim, I have created a new project with some of my art. These journals are Carla's design, and so I must give her all the credit for that. I have made some fabric transfers of a few of my paintings, and these transfers are sewn onto the front of the handmade journals. The fabric is mostly leftover from old projects, although some of it is a remnant I found at Walmart. (I know, the dreaded Walmart!) I will be listing a few in my etsy shop, but I want to save most of them for the studio tours in October. I am still learning how to use my sewing machine, so don't expect them to be perfectly sewn! Still, I had a lot of fun with them, and I think they would make really nice gifts. They measure 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches, and have 18 sheets of blank paper (card stock) for writing or drawing.

I spent the day with my brushes today, and tomorrow I hope to do the same. I will have photos of new oil paintings soon!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The dog days of summer

Sunday, 4:00 pm, 100 degrees Farenheit. Where does the term "dog days" come from? click here, if you are curious, like I was.

It must be August. For some reason, at the end of the summer I seem to enter into a phase of ultimate laziness. Is it the heat? I will blame it on a natural rhythm. I will blame it on whatever I can. It seems like all I want to do is sleep and eat ice cream. I am NOT doing that, however. (Well, I guess I have had a little ice cream.) I have actually been busy, preparing for the Studio Tours in October. I have signed up to participate. If you live near Joshua Tree, CA, you can come and visit my studio on October 11 & 12th! I will have original oil paintings, monotypes, giclee reproductions, cards, and even some gift items, which I will feature on this blog soon!

I leave you with another monotype. This one I reworked in pastel after it was dry. It's called "Turning Point". It looks much better in person, but I am too tired of the computer to fix it. Maybe later.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Here is another monotype from Saturday. I have talked about monotypes before, but I wonder if there are newcomers to my blog who may not know what a monotype is. For those of you who know, you can skip the next three paragraphs. A monotype is a cross between painting and printmaking. The artist (me, in this case) applies paint or ink directly onto a plexi glass plate. I use etching inks. Most often, I use a tool called a brayer to apply the ink. I will take a photo of one tomorrow and post it. You can also use a paintbrush or palette knife to apply the ink, if you wish. I usually draw right into the ink using various tools (my favorite being a McDonald's stir stick!). Once I have the background color the way I want, I like to put things on top of the background ink colors. Leaves, feathers, wire, and things I have cut out of cardboard or styrofoam. I save lots of cardboard from food boxes. My favorite kind of cardboard is cardboard with texture, like the insulating sleeves they give you with a cup of hot coffee at the coffee shop. Since I don't drink coffee, you will sometimes find me digging in trash cans, hopefully when no one is looking.

Once I have the plate looking the way I think I want it, I dampen a sheet of printmaking paper. I place the plexi glass plate on the bed of the printing press, place the damp paper over the top of it, and crank the wheel of the press. The press does just what you might think: it PRESSES the paper and the plate together with lots and lots of pressure. Basically, I am pressing the painting onto the paper. The press provides really wonderful textures that would be impossible to achieve with a brush on canvas. (I have tried to duplicate it, so I am confident in writing that.) The most exciting part of the process is when I lift the edge of the paper to see how it looks. Even though I have a good idea how most of it will turn out, there is always something unexpected that happens with the print when it goes through the press. It is so much fun! The pressure from the press will also create an impression in the paper of the edges of the objects I placed on top of the plate. This gives the print a really nice dimensional quality that I love.

The plate does not get carved into or permanently altered, so each print is one of a kind. Even if I were to print the same plate again without wiping it clean first, the second pressing is completely different from the first. So each print is unique. "Mono" means "one". A Monotype is an original, one-of-a-kind piece of art. I love creating them! Hopefully, if you didn't know what a monotype was before, I have helped shed some light on the subject for you.

With this particular print, I went back in after it was dry and added some pastel. I just wanted to bring the bird out a little more, and the "bird food" underneath it. I could have also used paint or ink to rework the monotype. This one is called "Pecking 2", and it measures 10 x 8 inches. The paper is larger than the print. I have given dimensions of the print only.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I was fortunate enough to meet an artist at the drawing sessions who not only has a printing press, but also has offered to let me use it!!! Yesterday, for the first time in over a year, I got to create monotypes. I am so happy! I had so much fun! Thank you, Shant.

This new group of monotypes was inspired by a little desert denizen known as the Cactus Wren. They occasionally come to visit me, and poke around on our back patio. I love these little birds, since they are inquisitive and funny. I had done a series of dime-sized sketches of them in my tiny sketchbook, and I used those sketches for this new work. (along with some feathers the wrens left me as a calling card.)


Friday, August 15, 2008

Refueling creativity

From time to time, the creative mind needs refueling. The way I refueled my creative self this past week was through travel. First, a short trip to Vegas with my dear husband. We didn't go for gambling, but just to get away and be alone together. Next, we went to Reno, where his parents live. Matthias had to leave for work, but I stayed on for a few days. My in-laws took me up to Lake Tahoe, which I haven't visited since I was a little kid. I had a bad ear infection that time, so I had no memory of the lake. It is remarkably spectacular! Some of the sights:

A few photos of the edge of Lake Tahoe. I love the contrast of the blue water and the white rocks. I could have spent all day sitting on one of those rocks. Next time!
This vintage car with matching trailer we first saw in Vegas. I saw it again in Reno, because "Hot August Nights" was going on, where all the vintage car fanatics meet for a week of old cars and fun. The photo doesn't really do it justice. The inside of the trailer was ADORABLE!!! It had Betty Boop curtains and everything.

We drove through this beautiful storm on the way back from Vegas. We even got rained on a little bit!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Who I am

Here is the self portrait in oil I have been working on. I may work on it a little more, but it needs to sit for a while first. The idea was for it to be a portrait in words as well as image. It didn't turn out quite the way I envisioned, but I am feeling okay about it. It is the first portrait I have done in oil that I actually like (parts of it, not all of it.) It measures 40 x 30 inches, and it is oil and charcoal on linen. For a closer view of it, you can click on the image.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!