Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Slice of Life

The heat has been unusually oppressive here in the Pacific Northwest, so we took a 30 minute drive to the Columbia River Gorge.   There are over 70 waterfalls on the Oregon side of the gorge and miles of hiking trails.   This wild and windy canyon is breathtaking, and is one of the reasons we decided to move to Oregon.

Columbia River Gorge - Washington on the left; Oregon on the right

Bottom of Horsetail Falls

Still lush in this beautiful ecosystem

Lots of negative ions

Wahkeena Falls - a great place to fill up water bottles with icy cold water from Mt. Hood

Beautiful trails - lots of shade

It was nice to get away from endless summertime house projects and return home refreshed and relaxed.  

Hope your Sunday was peaceful.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Best Art Advice I Ever Got

 Here's a sampling of the great art advice I've received over the years from dear friend and mentor artist Helen Cartmell. 

 1. Figure out what you do best and then do it better than anyone else.

 2.  Paint with your eyes.

 3.  Patience.

Artwork by Helen Cartmell

 4.  Paint what you love.  Your excitement over the piece will resonate with the viewer.

 5.  Draw all the time.  Draw from life.  Poor drawing skills will be translated into your painting whether you like it or not.

Drawing by Helen Cartmell

Drawing by Helen Cartmell

 6.  Learn color theory.

 7.  Identify your artistic weaknesses and work on them.

Artwork by Helen Cartmell

  8.  Know your subject.  Look, look, look.

  9.  Don't take rejection personally.  People are subjective.
Artwork by Helen Cartmell

10. If you want people to notice your art, paint different.  If you want to paint different, spend more time painting.  Your style will emerge in spite of yourself.  Don't be a clone.
11.  Paint often.

Artwork by Helen Cartmell

12. Don't know what to paint?  Paint anything.  Your problem is that you feel the need to frame every piece of artwork you do.  Get over that.

Artwork by Helen Cartmell
13.  Focus on big shapes first. 

Artwork by Helen Cartmell

What a thrill to see my husband Tim's painting hanging next to Helen's at the annual Our Town exhibit in Birmingham, Michigan about five years ago.

14.  Try to find a space to do your art where you can leave your supplies out.  You may feel the need to paint in the middle of the night.   Painting in your pajamas is acceptable.

15.  Not everyone will like your work.  That's okay.


Helen is in her 90's now.  She isn't able to paint anymore, but talking about painting is still her favorite thing to do.

And so how did I find this generous woman of quality?  Well, I'll save that for another blog post.

Helen - Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan.  Photo taken by her future husband.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

Thank you, Dad, for giving me the kind of childhood you never had.

I miss you.

Friday, June 19, 2015

T is for Tiger

Both Unfinished
Watercolor Batiks - 12 X 16

The bad news is they're both unfinished.  The good news is that after seeing them together, I now know what to do with the lion.  Hope to get them mounted onto watercolor paper and matted this weekend.

When I lived in Michigan, Tim and I met Helen Cartmell,  an artist who became a dear friend and mentor.  Helen is the person who told me to turn unfinished or problem paintings towards the wall.  In fact, she often had five or six paintings facing her studio walls.

Doing this, she said, not only made for better paintings, but helped her be more prolific since she didn't sit around and agonize over one piece of artwork.  And that would be me, getting all immobilized over one painting.

I think I'll rack Tim's brain and jot down some of her excellent advice in a blog post.   Hope to share our "Helen-isms" next week.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

S is for Serengeti

Unfinished - to be 12X16

Somewhere along the way, I have forgotten that not every painting has to be finished at one sitting.   Turning a painting towards the wall for a few days is one of the best ways to prevent overworking it.


As for the letter "S,"  I have always been in love with the animals of the Serengeti.  This ancient ecosystem hosts the largest terrestrial migration of wildlife on earth. And it's on the bucket list.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Q is for Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts - Watercolor Batik - 5X7

" ...the queen of hearts is always your best bet."

Don Henley / Glenn Frey - lyrics from "Desperado"

This is a quickie batik of an idea for a future series.  I like doing small scale preview pieces - like thumbnails, but these are more fun.

Monday, June 8, 2015

O is for the Color Orange

Peaches - Watercolor Batik - 8X10

Anything orange appeals to me - even orange peaches.   The color orange is kind of flamboyant and a little spicy.
There are orange sunsets, orange fish, orange flowers and orange leaves.  I even once had an orange couch, but that was a long time ago (maybe in the 70's).

Some love orange, some hate it.  I like it.

Saturday, June 6, 2015


"Soldiers win battles.  Generals get the credit."

My dad - somewhere in Germany

My dad was one of the brave Americans who stormed the beaches of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944.  He said the minute his boots hit the water, he accepted that this would probably be his last day on earth.  He was 21 years old.  Thankfully, my dad survived, but over 9,000 soldiers were either killed or wounded during the invasion.


Like many veterans, my father rarely spoke of the war, but every now and then he'd let a few things slip through. 

Dad was a medic and didn't carry a gun.  Instead he was provided with an abundant supply of morphine to ease the pain of the dying during their transition to a better place.  He said it was an honor to comfort and tend to a wounded soldier.  Sometimes a heartfelt word, direct eye contact, or the mere squeeze of a hand was the best medicine.

My dad is gone now, as are most World War II vets.  After he died, I found an old newspaper in his belongings.  In it, he highlighted excerpts from a speech delivered by President Reagan In Normandy on June 6, 1984 - the 40th anniversary of D-Day.  This part of the speech is what was important to my father:

"Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love."

"The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt."

"You all knew that some things are worth dying for."

  You're a tough act to follow, Dad.   Thank you...