Monday, August 30, 2010


Not only do I draw from nature for inspiration, but I look for inspiration from other artists, too.  Musicians, poets, writers, dancers, and visual artists are all part of the pool of creativity that I enjoy swimming in.  I wanted to share with you two artists who I have lately been inspired by.

The first artist is a friend I have never met in real life.  I know her as a fellow artist and blogger.  We met through an online class we both took from Alyson Stanfield.  (Was that almost two years ago already?)  Meet Patricia Scarborough, plein air painter extraordinaire!   Patricia paints in oil and pastel, focusing on scenes from her local Nebraska surroundings.  I am enchanted with her light-filled paintings.  Please take a moment to visit her website or blog and see for yourself why I love her work.  She also has the ability to put a smile on my face with her delightful sense of humor.  Patty, I am such a fan!
Tree Line.  Oil, 6 x 6 inches.  ©2010  Patricia Scarborough.

The next artist I have been drawing inspiration from lately is also someone I have never met.   That is because he died about 55 years before I was even born.  August Macke (1887-1914) was a German artist who embraced the avant guard artistic ideas of his time, melding the ideas of the Blue Riders, the Expressionists, Futurism and Cubism into his art in a unique way.  I have a tiny book of images from watercolors he painted while visiting Tunisia with Paul Klee, and I love the vibrant colors and abstract qualities of the collection. Macke also painted in oil, and produced some amazing paintings for someone who lived such a short time.  I do have a larger book with more of his paintings and a short biography that I love to spend hours with.  

August Macke.  A watercolor from the Tunisia trip.

I finished hanging eleven drawings at JTAG, the collective gallery in Joshua Tree today.  The opening is this Friday, from 6 to 9 pm.  I hope you all enjoy your week - September arrives!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stories in the shade

With our recent temperatures over 100 degrees, the only place anyone wants to be is in the shade.
Everyone want a chance to taste of the forbidden tree.

Even jackrabbits need a break, now and then.

After this moment, both bunnies popped straight up into the air, and one chased the other away.

We've had rumbling, threatening skies for two days, but only a few drops of rain fell here at our house.  Five minutes away, however, rain and hail poured from the sky and flooded the streets.  I wish we would have gotten just a LITTLE bit more rain here.  Pono has remained hidden in the safety of the laundry room, terrified of the thunder.  He can't wait for monsoon season to be over with.  Thank goodness for Rescue Remedy!

I think I have finally commited to showing a collection of drawings for the September opening of JTAG.  You can visit them in person next Friday from 6 to 9 pm, during our opening reception.  If you are nearby, I'd love to see you there!
Study, Leaning Joshua.  Charcoal on paper, 7 x 5 inches.
These drawings are all small studies for larger works.  Some will be Joshua Trees, and some will be abstract compositions.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Re-discovering pastel

For nearly four years, I worked almost exclusively in soft pastel.  I had stopped using it for several reasons, but the main reason was that I became tired of the cost and effort of framing.  A couple of nights ago, I pulled my soft pastels out once more.  I have been enjoying working with them, and I thought I would share a couple of the paintings with you.  As you can see, these are a continuation of my series of paintings of the Joshua Tree.  Each tree has a distinctive, unique shape, which is emphasized by the silhouette against an evening sky. 

Grand Finale.  Pastel on paper, 10 x 8 inches.
Last Rays.  Pastel on paper, 10 x 8 inches.

I am busy getting new work ready for the fall opening of JTAG in Joshua Tree.  We will have an opening on Friday, September 3rd from 6 to 9 pm.  I am most likely going to show a collection of drawings, but that is subject to change, since I cannot seem to make up my mind what to show.  I also have to prepare for October, when I will be traveling to Ventura, California for Arts in the Park there on October 16th and 17th.  The following weekend is the weekend I will be opening my studio for the Open Studio Art Tours here in Joshua Tree.  I have a lot of work to do!  So if you are wondering at my long silences, it is because I am sticking to a strict regimen of painting, painting, painting.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Jackrabbits will eat anything, now that August has arrived. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Creature companions

I have planted salvia greggii (which is a pink flowering shrub) in our front yard that the hummingbirds are attracted to.  All day long, I see them feeding on the pink flowers.  Once they have fed, they will often fly into the palo verde tree and perch in the green branches.  They aren't particularly afraid of me or Pono, and more than once, they have flown right up to my face, as though they are telling me something urgent.  Everything about the hummingbird seems urgent, with their quick movements and buzzing wings.
The desert has been so gentle and mild the past couple days.  In the evenings, Pono and I have been in the habit of sitting outside at sunset, watching the bats catching insects.  There is nothing quite like the quiet, devoted companionship of a dog.  With my husband away, Pono seems to stick close by my side, and when I lay on the floor, he lays next to me and rests his head on my belly.  It is a comforting feeling.  Mr. Pono, I am grateful for you, even if you did roll in some stinky dead thing today!  I hope you all have a great weekend, my dear blog friends.  That is what I intend to do.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


My husband left last week, rather suddenly, for Thailand.  A job opportunity had presented itself.  I am thrilled that he is going to be flying the 747 again, but Thailand is SO FAR.  All of the responsibilities that he had taken on have now become my responsibilities.  I am glad that I can help, but of course everything places a demand on my time - time that would be spent on my art.  (oh, and this blog!)  We had a few precious months of him being home, which is something we have rarely enjoyed in all of our years of marriage.  Just as I was getting used to having him around, *poof* and he is gone once again.  We are not sure when he will be able to come home.  It is a contract position for 5 months.  FIVE MONTHS.


I take deep breaths.  I give the Pono dog lots of hugs and kisses and probably more attention than he is really interested in.  And I do whatever I can to be at home near the computer at 5 pm, so that I can talk to my husband on Skype.  That is how I will continue.

Here is a page from my sketchbook.  Studies of the antelope ground squirrel - one of Pono's favorite desert creatures.  (They squeak!  They dig holes!  WHAT could be more exciting?!)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I have been neglecting this blog because I am spending quite a bit of time with the blog I am running for the MBCAC Art Tours.  If you come here and see the same ol' post once again, I suggest you hop on over to the Hi-Desert Art Beat.  I have a few wonderful writers helping me with that blog, but I also write many of the posts myself.  It's exciting to see the abundance of talent surrounding me in the high desert.

I do have a recent painting to show you.  This one was inspired by a young cottontail who came to visit one day early in the summer.  I sat by the window, right next to an intent dog, and watched and photographed the bunny for about 10 minutes.  That was a time when I COULD spend 10 minutes watching a cottontail.  Those days seem long gone, but I hope to one day regain that kind of time to spend absorbing nature in all its wondrous glory.
"Curiosity.  Oil on canvas, 8 x 10 inches.  Karine Swenson 2010"
The best part about the cottontail sniffing this post was what occurred afterward.  There was clearly something frightening about what he smelled (probably a dog, who most likely marked the post), and he jumped straight up in the air and ran off.  That kind of thing is a bit hard to capture in paint. 

I hope to have more new paintings to show you soon!  Thanks for stopping by, dear friends!