I am crazy about butterflies of any sort, but these small sulphurs are one of my favorites as they flit around my yard, sampling every blooming thing. This one took its time on a Red Bird of Paradise. The little spider was doing its own thing too. Life. Gotta love it.
At 76, I find myself reflecting on my art "career" more often, and wondering where I go from here. I still have some unmet goals (getting signature membership in the American Watercolor Society for one), but have a lot of accomplishments too. I wonder more often now—how important is getting work into another show when my list is very long already. How important is getting another award? So my New Year's resolution, one of them anyway, is to stop worrying about what will sell or get into a show. Not that I ever worried much about that, but it was on my radar screen in a low-level way.
I live in the Sonoran Desert, and it is a constant source of inspiration and amazement to me. I love painting my surroundings, and this year will focus not just on the "big picture" but on the little things. Closeups. Small fleeting wonders that I notice as I work in the yard or walk the neighborhood. And when I do big pictures, I will focus on some fleeting aspect of it, like the painting above done at Feliz Paseos Park in Tucson. It's titled Twin Hills at Five P.M., and I literally was packing my car up to leave after working there one afternoon, when I looked up and saw, as the sun began to set, how much more dramatic the scene was I'd just finished painting. I took my paints back out and painted the dark shadows on the mountains and deepened and lengthened the ones under the trees and on their shadowed sides. It took me about another five minutes and it transformed the painting. It's the little things.
50 years is a long time to do anything, including be married, but honestly the years just flew by. Jim and I celebrated our 50th anniversary in Seattle and enjoyed every minute of it. We were hoping to get rained on, but even they are short on rain this summer. A week before we got there, smoke from wildfires made being outdoors risky business, but it had rained just before we got there, and had cleared away the smoke.
I've been making art now for longer than I've been married. I've slowed down a bit these past few years, allowing myself to spend more time working in the yard, reading, writing (my memoir was a difficult, time-consuming, yet strangely rewarding process) and just sitting on the back patio with the cats.
Yet studio time is still a big part of my life. I'm giving a presentation to the local watercolor organization next week on how my work has evolved over the years, and why, and what keeps me engaged in my artistic process after all these years.Sometimes it's a change of medium or style, sometimes just a change of mind and heart, but all of it contributes to my creative output in one way or another.
People often ask me "What is a digital painting?" When I tell them that I create them on my computer, they assume that the machine is "doing all the work." Nothing could be further from the truth.
Yes, I use PhotoShop and Painter software as my "palette," and a digitizing tablet and stylus as my "brush" but I still have to create the image. I start with either a photo I've taken or a sketch or watercolor painting I've done. That's the bottom "layer" I work from. I create another semi-transparent layer on top of this, and start painting with my stylus. As I work, I can change the transparency of the top layer, so that I can check my source image and the top painted layer to see how the image is coming along.
When I'm happy with what I've "painted" I save the top layer as a .jpg image. Then I'm ready to print it. I can print on almost any substrate - paper, canvas, metal, plexiglass and more. Depending on the resolution of the image I created, I can print it in a wide range of sizes too. Most of the time, these digital paintings are printed just one time as a unique digital painting. I make a thumbnail archival image for my records and then the digital file is destroyed. These unique digital paintings come with a certificate of authenticity that there is just the single image, making them as "original" as a watercolor painting, drawing, etc.
Right now, I have a selection of digital paintings on display at the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild Gallery at Williams Centre in Tucson. They'll be up through August 15, 2018. If you want to see some examples of my work in this contemporary medium, visit the gallery. Summer hours are 11AM - 4PM, Thursday through Sunday. The gallery is right behind Olive Garden on the southwest corner of Broadway and Craycroft.
My book, held here by my friend Amber at the book launch, is now available on Amazon. A lot of people have bought and read the book already, and I'm hoping some of you will go on Amazon and write a review. You know that's how the world works - got to promote yourself or no one knows you're here.
Here's the link to my Amazon book listing, where you can leave a review. Wouldn't you like to be the FIRST to post one?
A Little Slice of Sky - Amazon.com
I'll take all the help I can get from my friends!
What a great start for my memoir! My first printing of 50 books is sold out. Ordered more and they'll be here by May 1st. There's the advantage of print-on-demand. I can order small quantities, and won't be stuck with a garage full of books.
I'm getting nothing but good, positive feedback from the people who've read it, but then, who would tell you if they hated it? So I'm not going to get all puffed up about the kudos.
The Southern Arizona Watercolor Gallery was the site for my book launch celebration on April 8th, 2018. It was a Sunday afternoon from 2 to 4 PM. Everyone who came got a ticket for the door prize drawing, and book purchasers got an extra ticket. Gretchen Huff won the framed original watercolor illustration from the book, titled "Snowberries", Amy Brewster won the pack of trout note cards, and Roger Gray won the matted chipmunk print.
I was very anxious before the event - worried that no one would show up, but they did. And they bought books! Twenty went out the door that day. Thanks to Jim's niece, Julie, for handling all the book sales. She caught on to my iPhone/PayPal Here app in a heartbeat, and the card reader worked flawless except for a five minute hiccup when it lost the connection. We got it working again in short order. My best friend, Wendy Timm, took all the photos at the event, and some of them are below.
I almost gave up on this project several times. Every time I read another memoir by someone else, nagging doubts about my ability to tell the story I wanted to tell in a way that anyone else might want to read plagued me. But, painting the illustrations kept me going. That part was fun!
Once the professional editor I hired got through with my manuscript, I had a lot of re-writing to do, but I've been plugging away at it, and finally, it's ready to go to the printer.
I'm going to use IngramSpark, who can supply me with books I can sell from my website, as well as supply them to Amazon and bookstores.
So, I'm almost there after three plus years.
This past summer was one of Tucson's hottest on record. With the heat on my mind, I started a series of paintings featuring a yellow circle (sun) and birds that I've photographed in my yard over the years we've lived here. Well, I didn't stick to the yellow circle long. It became the moon and other colors crept in as well. I broke the margin a little and a lot, or kept it whole. I like the circle as a design element and it helps focus attention on the bird I'm painting too. I've got fourteen paintings so far and I'm not finished yet. Here are three from the series....
I'm at the backside of my artistic career. At 75, I can look back at several decades of being a professional artist, and not all of that experience was fun. In my early days of trying to find gallery representation (and my how THAT process has changed!), I always took a small portfolio of 8x10 photos of my BEST work in the car whenever I was gallery hopping. Just in case I got an opportunity to show it to someone. I rarely told the gallery staff that I was an artist on my first visit, because I wanted to see how they treated their potential customers. Were they knowledgeable about their artists and their work? Did they even greet me and ask if they could show me anything in particular?
In the mid 1970's, since there was no internet and thus no gallery websites, in order to know what kind of work a gallery specialized in, you had to visit it in person, or depend on their print ads in art magazines. When I had researched, visited, and zeroed in on five or six galleries in a particular area I thought might be interested in my work, the next thing I had to do was prepare a package to send them, via snail mail. This would typically include a sheet of twenty slides, again my BEST work, a separate typed list of the slides with title, size unframed, size framed, medium and my price (not necessarily the retail price), my bio sheet and my artist statement. The cover letter said that I had visited the gallery, believed my work would be a good fit, and requested an appointment with the owner or gallery manager (and I made an effort to find out the name of this person) so that I could show them a sample of my work in person. Then I waited for a phone call or letter, or sometimes just the return of my package with no comment at all. If I had no response or return of my materials after two weeks, I called to simply ask if the package had been received, and ask when might I expect to have a response. Sometimes it would be several months. All in all, a time-consuming process, repeated every time I wanted to add a new gallery to those that had agreed to carry my work on consignment.
Some of the galleries I visited expressed a great deal of interest in my style and subject matter, but a comment I heard more times than I can remember was "A lot of our clients don't like works under glass. They don't like the reflections. Why don't you do these in oil or acrylic on canvas?" There were lots of variations on this comment, including one gallery who said they'd take my work, but only if I glazed everything with a product called Denglas, that had no reflections, and none of the 'fogginess" of regular non-glare glass. However, that product was five times the cost of regular glass, and I simply couldn't afford to frame my work using it, because as an unknown artist at the beginning of my career, I couldn't command a price for my work that would have covered the cost of the glass. And don't forget, even though I was paying for the entire cost of framing my work, the galleries still took 40-50% of the framed selling price. I had to pass on being represented by the gallery that asked me to use Denglas.
My advice to younger watercolor artists would be to find the galleries who fall in love with your work. When you do, they will be your best champions and salespeople. They will not ask you to change what you do. They may ask for more work in a certain size, or more of a particular subject matter that you already paint, but they won't ask a watercolor painter to become something else. If they do, keep looking.
I'm a visual artist, working in transparent watercolor, mixed media and digital painting. The desert southwest has been my home since 1971, and it is my constant inspiration.