Spring in the Sonoran Desert is always a visual treat for the eyes, but this year, because of all the generous winter rains we've had, the desert is outdoing itself. The drive between Tucson and Phoenix, usually a seared brown, is lovely, with brittlebush, Mexican gold poppies, lupine and globe mallow blooming everywhere along I-10. My yard is also blooming, and my salvia this year is spectacular.
In addition to painting the desert, I'm also outside cutting winter freeze damage from plants, adding new annuals to pots on my back porch, checking my drip irrigation system and fixing any problems before the heat arrives. Add several visits to local nurseries to see what native plants I may want to add to my yard this year. April is one of my favorite months in Tucson!
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.
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.