Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cottontail painting

The house and studio are coming together for this weekend's Hwy 62 Art Tours.  I have been working hard, and I hope everyone enjoys all the new paintings on the walls.  The screaming gold frame crises has been solved with some black paint, rubbed onto the surface of the frames.  They are drying in the studio.  They may or may not be dry in time, but I have decided it isn't that important.  I do appreciate all of your helpful suggestions!

Feeling groggy after a restless night - there is just so much to do.  I will make this brief.  I apologize to my fellow bloggers.  I haven't been able to take the time to catch up with you.  I will stop and visit next week, when the big event is over. 
"Reclining."  Oil on board, 9 x 12 inches.  ©2011 Karine Swenson
I know many of you live far away, but for those who are nearby, I hope you will come and visit me this weekend.  9 to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Framing hell

This morning's sunrise.
 I am in the middle of framing hell: ordered frames for some new sunset paintings over the internet.  They arrived about 10 days ago.  They were ugly!  I sent them back and ordered some OTHER frames over the internet.  They FINALLY arrived this morning, and even though they are better than the first batch, I am still not happy with how they look.  (They are so shiny and gold they scream at me.)  So what do I do now, with the open studio event only four short days away? 
Panic?  Never a good option. 
Show the paintings in the screaming gold frames?  No. 
Send the SECOND BATCH of frames back and try again, paying extra money for fast shipping?  ????  AAAAaaaaaaaCK!  (okay, so I had to panic for just a minute there.  I'm better now.)  I still don't know what to do.  I keep thinking if I sit here long enough and stare into space, a wonderful, creative solution will come to me.  Interestingly enough, my muse seems to have left me, just when I needed her the most.  Don't worry, I will figure it out.  It is, after all, an imperfect world.

For those of you who came looking for me and my open studio this past weekend, I apologize for not being home.  I am showing next weekend.  It is confusing, because every year the east end is switched around.  Last year I did show on the first weekend, but this year, I am on the second weekend.  I will suggest to the Art Tours committee to keep it the same weekend, from now on.  It is too hard to remember otherwise.  I hope you won't give up on me, and still take time out of your busy lives to visit my studio next weekend, October 29th and 30th from 9 to 5 pm.  Or, you can stop by Friday, from noon to 5 pm for the sneak preview.

"Comparisons."  Oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches.  ©Karine Swenson2011.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Feathered Friends

I still haven't totally figured out my new camera.  So I begin with an apology for my lack of really good photographs.  I never said I was a photographer.  Painter.  Painter.  Nevertheless, I still make my awkward attempts to capture things I see for you, my dear blog readers.  It was a bird-filled weekend for me.  Turkey Vultures soaring overhead.  I love to watch them - they almost never flap their wings.  It lifts the spirit, to see something soar like those big birds do.  A large family of quail, visiting the front yard.  They make the most appealing sounds as they forage.  I should record it next time.  Ravens, fluffing in a Joshua Tree.  I wanted a closer shot of them, but Pono thinks ravens need to be barked at, and they flew off.  (Can't blame them much for that.)

I also have to tell you that this morning, on our way to a favored running spot, Pono and I saw a coyote pooping.  Now, this is not such a momentous event, except that afterward, it scratched its hind paws in the dust just like Pono does!  Pono was transfixed until the coyote did the scratching-in-the-dust part (they do this to spread the scent), then, for some reason he went ballistic and barked furiously.  Which was unfortunate, because then the coyote ran away.  Now WHY didn't I have my camera???  No one knows, not even me.  John Nieto, an artist from Santa Fe, recently did a (very cool) painting of a coyote and titled it "God's Dog."  I would agree wholeheartedly with that title.  They are so much like dogs, those desert tricksters. 

Fresh off the easel:
"Dazzling Dusk."  Oil on Board, 11 x 14 inches.  ©Karine Swenson 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Edible Sky

Fresh off the easel:
"Edible Sky."  oil on board, 14 x 11 inches.  ©Karine Swenson 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011


I've been busy in the studio, as the Hwy. 62 Art Tours approach.  There's nothing like a deadline to hurry things along.  Just think, in two weeks, I will be opening up my studio doors to the public!  Good thing I still have two weeks, since it's a mess in there right now.  I won't take too much time to write, but I did want to wish everyone a happy weekend.  I just saw a flock of turkey vultures soaring above.  They pass through Joshua Tree every year, and I was just beginning to wonder when I would see them.  If you wish to read a previous post about these big birds, click here.  Now I know it's fall.

The other exciting desert event of this week was on the Wednesday morning run with Mr. Pono the fuzz ball dog.  We happened upon a very angry, rattling Mojave green.  It is an unmistakable rattlesnake, because it does look quite green.  I ran past it first, and fortunately I was able to corral the dog before he took too great of an interest in the coiled snake.  I would have photographed it for you if it hadn't been so darn angry.  I am also not a skilled enough photographer to photograph a rattling snake while holding an excited dog at the same time.  I have shortcomings, you see.

Fresh off the easel:
"Last Light."  Oil on board, 14 x 11 inches.  ©Karine M Swenson 2011
  I love ya, dear readers!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thoughts on a Tuesday evening

"Intimacy."  Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches.  ©Karine M Swenson 2011
News:  A spider has built a web around the pedals in my car.  I find this perplexing.  I don't drive every day, but I do drive my car more than once a week.  Plus, my car sits in a garage.  It amazes me, and I almost don't have the heart to destroy the web.  As an artist, I can respect the work involved.  If and when I do destroy it, simply in the act of driving, it will be with an explanation to the spider.  "Sorry, spider.  I respect your web, and your need to build it in order to survive.  However, the location you chose for your web was unfortunate, since the pedals must move in order for me to drive my car, so I can go to the grocery store.  I have to eat, too." 

People often ask me which subject matter I prefer.  I paint abstractly, I paint people, and I paint animals.  I have also been painting sunsets in the desert.  I love everything I paint.  If I didn't love it, I wouldn't paint it.  One of the reasons I became an artist is because I hated the idea of having to do the same thing every day.  Some days, I don't want to paint a rabbit.  I don't want to paint a portrait.  I just want to paint what's in my subconscious.  Those are the days for abstraction.  On other days, I don't want to paint abstractly.  Those are the days to paint rabbits, or skies.  What matters most to me is that I am squeezing color out of tubes, mixing it on the palette, and laying it down on canvas or board with a brush or a knife.  Art is how I understand the world and how I understand myself.  I seem to need to jump around from subject to subject.  That is how I stay excited about what I am doing. 

I have also found that painting abstractly helps my representational work.  I am able to be more free with color and mark-making.  I also have stronger compositions because of the abstract work.  The representational work, in different ways, helps with my abstract work.  I learn how to make the paint do what I want it to do, and it helps me keep my drawing skills sharp.  For me, the different styles of my work are what make me a better artist. 

Interestingly enough, it seems as though the majority of people who collect my work seem to have a preference for one style or another.  Not all of the people who like my rabbits, coyotes and portraits respond to my abstractions.  Conversely, not all of the people who like my abstract work like my other art.  That is just as perplexing to me as the spider web in the pedals of my car. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Art Cars in Joshua Tree

The best thing about living in Joshua Tree, (besides the beautiful surroundings) is that there is always a cool, art-related activity to experience.  Musicians, circus performers, actors, writers, and visual artists all seem to be drawn here.  Downtown Joshua Tree, The Art Queen, last night:

I only got to stay for a few minutes, as I was headed to life drawing.  But I did want to share a few photos of the art cars for those who didn't get to see the Art Cars in Joshua Tree.  Fun!  If you want to read a nice little article about art cars, click here.  (Thank you, wikipedia.  Oh, and feel free to donate a bit of money to wikipedia, if you are so inclined.)   I didn't expect to be as fascinated by these cars as I was.  It is such a pleasure to see creative expression exploding out of gallery and museum walls.  It kind of makes you want to create an art car, doesn't it?

The studio keeps sucking me in.  Because I like to paint around the edges of my canvases, while my oil paintings are drying, I have to set them on cardboard and lean them against cardboard.  Those of you who don't paint probably aren't aware that oil paintings can take a long time to dry, depending on how thick the paint is, how humid it is, how hot, what colors were used, etc.  Unlike an acrylic painting, which can dry in a matter of minutes with a thin layer of paint, some oil paintings will take up to 6 months or a year to dry.  I don't paint in extremely thick layers (called impasto), but there is still some drying time involved.  With M gone, and the whole house to myself, I have now claimed the living room for part of my studio space.  I like having the works in progress out in the main room, where I can see them while washing dishes, eating, and going about my "other" work.  That way, I can think about them.  I decide if I am fully satisfied, and if I am not satisfied, I can think about why.  It is helpful to have time to really study the work in progress, or even the ones I consider finished.
New paintings, in various stages of completion, drying in the living room.
It remains unseasonably cool and windy here.  I am happy to hear that it is supposed to warm up by Sunday.  I know many of you welcome cooler temperatures.  I do not.  I fear the cold.

This weekend will find me helping to hang a new show at the Red ArrowDeborah Martin has a wonderful new collection of paintings of Wonder Valley.  The gallery crawl is Saturday night from 5 to 8 pm.  Maybe I'll see you there.  If not, have a good one, whatever you do.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Windy, 60 degrees

Today is the first day it has actually felt like fall.  I have long pants AND a sweatshirt on, and I have been drinking hot tea.  (Those of you who know me well won't be surprised by any of this information.)  I am known for being cold, generally speaking.  The wind has actually died down a bit from earlier today, but it's still windy enough that being outside isn't especially pleasant.  I have been awake since 5:30 am.  I thought I needed extra sleep, so I went to bed early last night. 

It might just be one of those curl-up-with-a-good-book kind of days.  I am currently reading a book called Started Early, Took my Dog by Kate Atkinson.  It is a mystery, which I don't usually read.  I checked it out because of the title.  It's a thoroughly enjoyable book.  I was going to find a good quote for you, but if I open the book, I will end up just reading it instead of finishing today's post.  You'll have to take my word for it when I say it's worth the read.  What are you reading right now? 

"Attraction."  Oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches.  ©Karine Swenson 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Desert skies

Happy Monday, everyone!  Another week has begun.  The desert has been oddly humid, and while rain does not seem imminent, one always hopes for it in this dry land.  Today has begun with more clouds than usual.  We shall wait and see.  If nothing else, the clouds make for magical sunset skies.
Taken right after the sun disappeared last night.
Most of the weekend was spent with paperwork and business.  I was grateful to be in the studio once more yesterday.  It felt like heaven.  Today will be another studio day, once I finish on the computer.  So you know this will be a short post. 

M is still gone, far away.  He's flying airplanes in countries I have never been, seeing things I will never see.  I feel fortunate to live in a time when I have a computer to talk to him with video (when the internet works well enough.)  We celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on Saturday.  He sent roses.  I sent kisses, because there is no address where I can send things.  The last time I tried to send him something in the mail, it took a month to reach him.  If it weren't for the fuzzy dog, you know things would be getting pretty desperate around here.  Maybe the reason I have painted so many rabbits is because they are the only visitors I get every day, without fail.  The desert has its own way of making me feel welcome.

"Accessory."  Charcoal and pastel, 7 x 6 1/4 inches.  
May you all have a lovely day!