Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Off the Beaten Path II

I better finish telling you about Las Vegas before the year is over!  For those of you who might travel to Vegas and NOT gamble, here are a couple of other things you might be entertained by.  Of course, any time you travel, eating becomes part of the adventure.  We discovered this lovely German Cafe called the Heidelberg Cafe.  YUM.  We went there for an early dinner, and it is tasty authentic German food.  You can rely on my description, since M's parents are both from Germany.  The schnitzel is wonderful.  I had the Schnitzel combo plate.  M had the Sauerbraten.  It is a lot of food, so bring a good appetite.  This gem of a restaurant is only about a half mile off the strip.  Sorry I didn't take a single photo.  I can't think straight when I am hungry.

Other than Red Rock Canyon, I think the highlight of our recent Vegas visit was the discovery of the Pinball Hall of Fame.  M and I both love to play pinball.  M is a much better player than I am, having spent the better part of his youth putting coins into pinball games.  However, we both had a great time at the Pinball Hall of Fame.  This place is a must see!!!  There are over 200 vintage pinball machines in the Hall of Fame.  I remember even seeing a Pacman game, but we were focused on pinball.  The place is run by a man named Tim Arnold.  Mr. Arnold is originally from Michigan, and had a dream of moving to Vegas to open a Pinball Museum.  Now he has done it!  Only the cool part is that you can actually play the games in the museum.  It is a non-profit organization, and any leftover monies go to the Salvation Army.  It is staffed by volunteers.  Even if you aren't a pinball addict, like M and I are, you will have a fun time visiting this unique place.  Check out the rows and rows of pinball machines:  So cool!


We could have spent a lot more time and money at the Pinball Hall of Fame, but we only found it on our last day, when we were scheduled to go home.  We easily spent more money on pinball than we did at the casino.  M stopped in the bathroom before we hopped into the car for the drive home, and while I waited, I discovered the rubber duckie game.  That probably is not the official name, but that is what I call it.  I really wanted to try to get a rubber duckie, especially the one with the pirate hat, but we did really have to go home.  Next time!!!


Back home, to reality, work, chores, dishes, and all of those other responsibilities.  I am dreaming about our next visit to Las Vegas, when we will spend our time exploring Red Rock Canyon and playing pinball at the Pinball Hall of Fame.  I hope to bring back a rubber duckie.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

To all of my beloved blog readers:

Have a wonderful holiday.  I love you all, and I am thankful for you!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Off the Beaten Path

Maybe you thought Vegas was nothing but a city of casinos and strippers.  Pawn shops.  Lights.  Buffets.  It is all of those things, but there is much more to this sleazy city than meets the eye.  One of the best attractions for those who want something different is the Red Rock Canyon.  A short drive from the city of Las Vegas, this National Conservation Area is well worth the $5 daily entry fee.  There is a brand new visitor's center.  You can enjoy this beautiful area without even leaving the comfort of your car, but plenty of hiking and climbing trails are available for the adventurous.  We didn't give ourselves nearly enough time to explore this desert wonderland.   I am certain we will be back.

In order to get to Las Vegas from Joshua Tree, one will drive through the Mohave National Preserve.  I really love this drive.  I always feel a bit like those suction-cup "Garfield" cats, looking out the window when I am lucky enough to be the passenger on these trips.  I just drool out the window, looking at the plethora of Joshua Trees, sand dunes, vintage train depots, and other desert visions.   On our way home, we even spotted a lone coyote, crossing the road in front of us.


Sunday, December 20, 2009


This poor, neglected blog!  I have every intention of posting at least twice a week.  In fact, there was a time, when I first started blogging, when I would post 4 or 5 times a week.  I don't know why I have slacked off so much, but perhaps in the new year I will find new motivation and inspiration for this blog.  It's not that I don't have plenty of things to blog about.  I have plenty of things I could share with you.  For example, I did manage to get back in the studio, and produced a painting that is a complete departure from anything I have done lately.  It feels more like my art from 4 or 5 years ago, combined with newer techniques.  I will let you be the judge.  This one is called "Departure", and it is oil on canvas, measuring 48 1/2 x 36 inches. 

M and I went to Las Vegas for a couple of nights this week.  We like going to Vegas, even though we don't really gamble.  It's just a place to go where we can escape the daily duties.  It isn't too far from Joshua Tree, and we love the drive, through the Mohave National Preserve.  I will be blogging about our trip this week, so I won't go into too much detail here. 

I got a new camera for Christmas.  (an early present from M.)  So this week has been spent with me learning how to use it and the accompanying software.  The learning curve has not been without its challenges, especially for this blogger, who has come to love the little tiny point and shoot digital camera I have been using since the beginning of this blog.  Nevertheless, I am sure my new camera will make for better photographs, once I get it all figured out.  Here are a few samples from the new camera, including the photo of the new painting and the Kelso Dunes.  (keep in mind that it has taken me nearly all morning to load the software, get the images from the camera, and get them comverted for you to view here!) 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Art Happenings in Joshua Tree

On Saturday, I was out and about in Joshua Tree, catching up on just a few of the art events.  The first event I enjoyed was Martha Jacobson's lecture at the public library.  Martha Jacobson paints these really cool watercolors inspired by photographs taken by the Hubble Telescope.  There was a good crowd for the talk, and I enjoyed hearing Jacobson talk about her art.  I tried to take a couple of photos of her paintings, but they had glass on them and I did not get any good images to share.  The show stays in the library until January 5th, so if you get a chance, I highly recommend it.  The art talks are sponsored by the MBCAC and the Friends of the Joshua Tree Public Library. 

After the talk at the library, I went over to True World Gallery, where there is an exhibition of my friend Tina Bluefield's art.  They are showing a nice sampling of Bluefield's art, including abstracts, landscapes, and collage.  Apparently, the Red Arrow has now relocated to a space in closer to downtown Joshua Tree, but I did not make it over there.  I was too busy admiring Bluefield's paintings!  Plus, I was struggling to get myself back in the studio after too much time away from my own art.    


It is always better to see paintings live and in person, so if you are in Joshua Tree or vicinity, please do stop at True World Gallery.  If you don't live nearby, you can visit Tina Bluefield's website to see a bigger sampling of her oil paintings.

I have finally managed to get myself in the studio with oil paint once again.  After an interruption of over two weeks, I am struggling a little to find out where I was heading with my work.  I have jumped into an entirely new direction now, but I am beginning to rediscover the thoughts I had before leaving.  I hope to have something interesting to show you soon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Return from snow bound Colorado

It seems like I have been away for an eternity.   The snow and cold in Colorado brought back things I had forgotten:
-the leather of Pono's leash becomes stiff on walks
-how much more I eat in cold weather
-The sound of snow crunching under boots
-The grey sky
-How much I love fluffy white flakes of snow - what delireum!
-Pono's joy in the snow.  Never have I known a dog who loves the snow and cold so much.  Makes me feel sad that we moved him to the desert.
-How I could live my whole life and never shovel snow again.  Ever.
-The way frost glistens when the sun finally comes out

It brought back a rather strange and wistful longing in me, being in a place where I have spent most of my adult life.  My husband and I keep moving away from Colorado, only to find ourselves drawn back to it. I wonder if we will move back again, someday.  

We have returned to a pretty cold Joshua Tree, but it feels warm, comparatively.  I am happy to be home, and I am anxious to return to the studio after so much time away from my art. 

I have missed you, my dear blog readers!  I hope to catch up with everyone this week.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December is here

Here is a blog post from Colorado, where I am currently visiting.  I am here to show my art at the beautiful Framed Image.  The artist's reception is this Thursday, from 4 to 7 pm, and I will be there with some of my newest paintings and monotypes.  I am showing with Susan Harrington, who is a Denver artist, and does richly colored paintings.  Come and join us Thursday, if you are nearby!  Click on the Framed Image website above for location and more details.  The show runs until the end of December.

I was in Salida, Colorado for Thanksgiving last week.  It was fun to visit our former home town, and to have a chance to catch up on friends there.  On the Friday after Thanksgiving, every year, Salida has a parade at night just before they light up the Christmas tree on top of "S" Mountain.  We went downtown to see the parade and the lighting of the Mountain, because everyone in town comes out for it.  It is so much fun!  After the parade, we headed to the Steamplant, where there was live jazz music, free hot chocolate and cookies!  We watched them light the mountain and shoot some fireworks from there, hot chocolate in hand.   Festive!  Anything that involves cookies and hot chocolate is going to be high on my list of great activities.

Before the parade, we did a little bit of walking around downtown.  I like to see what all of my artist friends have been doing.  My friend, Padgett McFeely had an exhibition of her paintings at Bongo Billy's Cafe.  Then, we saw the felted work of P.J. Bergin at the Paquette Gallery in the Steamplant.  We also visited several galleries, including cultureclash, where there are a few of my paintings for sale.   Here is a photograph of a little bit of P.J. Bergin's show.  Unfortunately, I was not in my prime photo form, and failed to get a photo of Padgett's art.  (Sorry, Padgett!)  I think that's what happens when I take some time off - my brain takes time off, too!

All in all, I had a happy Thanksgiving, even though my husband was working and not with me.  It is always a little lonely, celebrating holidays without him.  You would think after fifteen years I would be accustomed to it, since it is common for him to work on the holidays, but you know everything is always better with him around.  What did you do for the holiday?

Another list of things I am grateful for:
1.  You, my blog readers
2.  Hot peppermint tea
3.  small towns
4.  travel opportunities
5.  crisp apples
6.  the sun, shining on exploding cattails
7.  prairie dogs
8.  falcons
9.  the green walking path, where nature has been preserved in the heart of suburbia

10.  good walking/running shoes

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I about to hop in the car to drive to Colorado, but first, I thought I would quickly list some things I am thankful for.
1.  Peanut butter
2.  hot tea
3.  Pono
4.  warm sweaters
5.  my husband (this is not in order of importance, mind you.  He would be first, if that were the case!)
6.  all the variations of the color blue
7.  the desert light
8.  good friends
9.  oil paint
10.  my family

Do you remember this painting?

Well, now it looks like this.  I was hoping to take it with me to Colorado, but it is still just a little too wet.   "Autumn Moon", oil on canvas, 60 x 48 inches.

Have a great week and a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday's Roadrunner

Good morning!  The desert mornings have been fantastic.  I am thankful for my dog, Pono, because he gets me out walking and running every morning, even if I don't want to.  The thing is, once I get outside, I am so glad I did!  What a great way to start the day.  We have had a mild fall, without much wind, without much cold.  Highs are usually in the 60's.  This weather suits me just fine.  The road runners like it, too.

I head to Colorado tomorrow, to bring art to Framed Image in Denver for my show with a talented artist named Susan Harrington.  It is so exciting to have an opportunity to show with such a wonderful painter!  Here is a photo of one of her watercolor paintings.  It's called "Jubilation", and it measures 37 x 57 inches.  I can't wait to see it in person.  She also paints in oil and does monotypes.  If you are in the area, the opening reception is on Thursday, December 3rd from 4 to 7 pm.  I would love to see you!

I did get a chance to print some new monotypes last Friday.  I am hoping they dry in time for me to take them to Colorado with me.  This little monotype of mine was not printed Friday, but it is a recent one.  It measures 5 x 7 inches.   I hope to get a chance to post before Thanksgiving, but just in case I don't, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009



Near downtown Ventura.  Ahhhh....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Last Saturday was spent in Ventura, California, at the first Ventura Art Festival.  It was my first art festival, too.  I have attended many art festivals, but this was the first one where I was one of the artists selling my works to the crowds, so it seemed fitting that I started with the first year of Ventura's Art Festival.  It was such a magnificent day!  Tina Bluefield and I got there with a loaded up vw van at the dark, early hour of 6 am.  We unloaded and set up our booths in the cold, damp morning air.  By 8:30 am, we had things looking pretty good, and were ready for the day, and for some caffeine!  We were fortunate enough to be on the sunny side of the tent, and I was happy for the warmth of the sun.

The Ventura Chamber of Commerce did such a wonderful job of organizing this event.  There were many volunteers ready to watch our booths if we needed to escape for bathroom breaks or food.  There was food and coffee.  There was live music!  There was a steady stream of people, strolling by.  What more could we have asked for???  I feel that my first art festival was a great success.  I managed to set up a booth with my art, hang prices, engage people and tell them about my art without too much stuttering, and I even sold some things.  I also had the privilege of meeting one of the followers of this blog!  How cool is that?  (If you are reading this, Terri, "hi!")  The festival lasted until 6 pm, and then we tore it all down.  Gordita the vw van was loaded from floor to ceiling with art once more, and we went in search of some food before driving to the hotel room and collapsing in a heap.  It was a long but rewarding day.  Tina even won the Best of Show for one of her large paintings!!!   Here is a photo of Tina with her booth, which was right next to mine.  Doesn't she look great?

I would like to shout out a big thank you to the volunteers and the organizers of the Art Festival!  I was glad I came, and I hope to come back next year.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday's coyote

This will just be a quick post, as I am quite tired.  Tomorrow, Tina Bluefield and I will climb into the vw van, which is packed floor to ceiling with art.  We will carefully drive to our hotel room in Camarillo, making a concerted effort not to stop or swerve suddenly.  The art will be carefully kept until bright and early on Saturday morning, when we will bring it out for display and sale in Ventura!!!  It is pretty incredible, to see so much wonderful art in our little "Gordita."  (For those of you who are new to the blog, Gordita is the name of our vw vanagon.)  I am excited, and nervous.  If you are living near Ventura, please do stop at the Ventura Art Festival and visit us!  Tina and I will be right next to each other.

I promised a photo of a new monotype.  I have others, still drying, which I am really excited about, but since they are still drying, I have not been able to scan them.  That means I cannot share them with you yet.  Sorry!  I will tell you that I had lots of fun printing them, and I wished they were dry.  I was hoping to take at least one of them with me, but I do think I have plenty of art.   This one is a brand new bird, and I called him "Once Over."  He is coming with me to Ventura! 

We've heard and seen many coyotes lately.  In fact, Pono and I were just at the window, looking into the black night, trying to see the one that was making such a racket, seemingly right outside the window.  It was too dark, even when I turned off the lights inside.  Oh well, I do have this photo of one we saw about a week ago.  I would have had more photos of this one, but Pono stuck his fuzzy head right in the middle of the lens of the camera just as I clicked the button.  So the other photo (which would have been fantastic, I'm sure) just looked like a black screen.  Darn dog! 

Oh, and don't worry about Mr. Pono this weekend.  The hubby has the weekend off, so he can take care of Pono while I am away. 

I wish you all a happy happy weekend!  I love you, dear blog readers!

Monday, November 9, 2009


This past weekend, M and I went to visit his parents in Mesa, AZ.  They stay there in the winter months, at a place called Venture Out.  It is a retirement community, and the residents live in trailers.  It is a great place to live, if you are retired and like to stay busy.  They have all kinds of activities and social gatherings.   There is a stained glass workshop, woodworking, lapidary, art classes, hiking groups, swimming pools, etc.  Just about any activity you might be interested in can be found.  We had a really good visit, and enjoyed some pretty warm (hot) temperatures while there.  (93 degrees, in November!)

I love the drive to the Phoenix area, since we take the back roads.  There are plenty of sagauro and ocotillo cactus along the way!  I was having fun, as the passenger, clicking photos through the window of the zooming vw van.  Here are a few shots for your enjoyment.

I am busy preparing for an art festival in Ventura, California this coming Saturday, November 14th.  I will be downtown, in a tent, near Mission Park on Main Street.  The festival is from 11 to 6 pm, so if you are interested in stopping by, click on this link for more information.  I will have brand new paintings and monotypes with me - some of which I created yesterday and today!!!   Hot off the press!  I will be right next to my friend and fellow artist, Tina Bluefield.   You can also send me an email, to get more information about this event.  karine@karineswenson.com

I will have photos of some of the new monotypes for you soon.  Happy Monday, and stay tuned!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy 300 and the winner

Well, I know you have all been anxiously waiting to hear who the lucky winner of my latest giveaway is.  I had so many wonderful entries that I finally had to employ the help of my husband.  (Pono gave his input, too, with a tail wag.)  The lucky winner is Charmaine, a fellow blogger and author of High Desert Diva.  Her winning title for the diptych I posted was "Lake Reflections, Autumn."  Congratulations, Charmaine!!!  You are the winner of "Three Quail", the linocut.  I am also going to award Melissa, of Pugnotes an honorable mention, since her entry included part of the title.  (Reflections)  Thank you so much, to EVERYONE who entered.  I needed help with the title of that diptych, and I appreciate all of your input.  It was a difficult decision, choosing a winner.  I am thankful to have such loyal readers to celebrate post number 300 with!  Thank you, my dears!

I am still a little tired from the Studio Tours.  I think I just overdid it.  I did show again this weekend, with the life drawing group.  I delivered two framed portraits and some unframed drawings to the show, but I did not stay to talk about my art and meet people.  I kept thinking I should be down at the exhibit all weekend, but to be perfectly honest, I just didn't have it in me.  I want to thank my friend, Janis Comments, who organized the whole event, and for those artists that did stay to talk to people who came.  You did what I could not do, and I am grateful for you!
I don't have much else to write about, other than to say that our little cold snap is over, and we are back up to 75 to 80 degrees during the day, with an abundance of sunshine.  This desert living is hard to beat!  I look out at the big moon, and think about how wonderful and full my life is, and I feel gratitude.  I will now leave you to go and be with my handsome husband and freshly bathed dog.  Fond thoughts go out to all of you, dear blog readers!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Studio Tours

I know you are all probably dying to know about last weekend and the Open Studio.  I am sorry to make you wait so long.  It was SUCH a busy, wonderful weekend!  I am ashamed to tell you that I was so mentally overwhelmed that I didn't manage to take ONE SINGLE PHOTOGRAPH!!!  Oh no!!!  Then, it was over.  The other artists took their art home with them and I suddenly found myself remembering that I had forgotten to take photos.  Can you believe it??  Sorry!!!  I am a sorry excuse for a blogger, that's for sure.  I did take some "after the fact" photos yesterday of my art, once I was beginning to think clearly, but I know it isn't the same.

I will admit that I am still exhausted.  I am feeling better every day, but I am amazed at how much the preparation and the event itself took out of me.  I think what happens is that I got so used to operating at 100 miles per hour, and then I had a whole bunch of people visit me and talk to me all day for two days.  The next day, when it was all over, I found that I was incredibly tired, but there was still this little part of me that was trying to stay busy, since I had gotten so used to being busy but tired.  It took that first day to stop feeling busy, and then yesterday I finally was able to sit down and rest a little.  I have gotten work done today, but I plan on a short day and then more rest.  Perhaps by tomorrow, I will be regular Karine once more.  Let's hope so.

All and all, it was such a fantastic weekend!  All of you who came - THANK YOU!!!  What a wonderful crowd we had!  I got so much great feedback on my art, that I am itching to get back in the studio and paint again very soon!   I am happy that four of us decided to show together, because having the other artists there made the whole weekend so much more fun, and easier, too.  Thank you, to Nora Lousignont, Esther Shaw, and Marjorie Franklin for agreeing to show your work here at my house.  You are all talented artists and amazing friends. 

I will be announcing the winner of my most recent giveaway in the next post, so if you haven't entered yet, do it now!