Sunday, October 11, 2015

M. Graham and Yupo-Sale!

The List:

M. Graham watercolors
1. cobalt teal
2. ultra violet
3. cobalt violet
4. tartan blue
5. burnt sienna
6. yellow ochre
7. raw umber

Yupo pad: 6 sheets
price: $30 + $10 USPS (If I can pay less for shipping I will refund the difference) (this is about $4 a tube plus about $5 for the paper-I used Dick Blick's site for reference.)
email me for purchase and I will send you a PayPal invoice:


OK, I am cleaning out my supply closet. I have some M. Graham watercolors, most of them used gently, and some Yupo paper that is available. The watercolors are artist grade and quite nice to use. You can see from the photo above that the first four are about halfway full and do have my writing on them indicating their transparency or opacity. The last three have been opened but are about 2/3's to 3/4's full. All were purchased this year. As with any M. Graham watercolor or gouache, these may require that you squeeze the tube to get the color and other ingredients "mixed up" a little better-they tend to settle a bit if not used over time. I also have 6 sheets of Yupo left on this pad.

Please pass this email to your friends if you can. It's a shame to let these pants just sit!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Work and Some Links

Conversion (tentative title)
Image size 12" x 16" approx
So. This piece was finished yesterday after I had put it together and picked at it for about a week. I had some interruptions during that time but kept coming back to things. 

A kind of patience seems to be developing with doing these shaped base pieces. I have been trying to allow for an unfolding of ideas for starters which is quite different from how I normally work. In the past I have found a photo or scene and simply pared it down and went with a color idea/plan. The paintings didn't take that long, maybe 2-3 days. These shape based pieces seem to be more about gathering ideas and images from lots of different sources. For the above piece I used the imagery of those generators from the powerhouse visit. Originally I wanted to convey the idea of falling water. (That powerhouse was dependent on water being gravity fed into the system to create electricity.) As I worked the piece and used my initial sketch as the basis, I added and subtracted shapes and tried to remain open to what I saw happening on the paper rather than trying to impose a specific shape or idea onto the piece. The literal representation of falling water just wasn't working. As I played with the generator shapes I realized that I could re position their bases to suggest some movement, possibly some turning, and that would be satisfactory to me instead. I am not abandoning the image of falling water but just saving that idea for when I can make it work better. Some of the shapes added towards the end, such as the blue lines, are simple yet impromptu. I am particularly pleased with that sun shape and the use of the negative part of that cutting. There is a lot here that I like.

With that said though, this lining up of shapes and lines is causing me grief. I don't want to do it just as I didn't want to tape anymore to get straight lines. I love hard edged painting but honestly, you need the right brush, the right paint, the right surface and the tape. I don't see any way around it. My starting to use cut paper was my solution to the no taping issue but now I have the issue of getting everything straight which is nearly killing it for me. And my personal sense here is that what I want to say with these pieces has nothing to do with lining up horizontal and vertical lines on a grid like space. I love organizing the space but doing it on a grid isn't working for me. I don't think so anyway.

OK, here are some lovely things to peruse:

Anne Truitt Have you seen her work? Read the bio on her site, the third paragraph down I think. I love what she says about the relationship between shape and color and her thought process.

Stan Brodsky: Take a look at his work, the stuff from the mid 80's. 

Read this short piece by Heather McRae-Woolf. She is a Quaker and writes simply about the miracle of silence and being together.

Hope everyone is having a good week. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

September 2015 Wrap Up Post

1. Rural Scenes
acrylic and paper on board 16" x 20" NFS

2. Talkin' About My Generation
acrylic and paper on wc paper 14" x 18" matted to 18" x 24"

3. During The Storm
12" x 16" acrylic on wc paper available

4. Town and Country
12" x 16 " acrylic and painted paper on wc paper-available

5. Release-sold!

6. Water, Water Everywhere-sold!
October is upon us! We had a little bit of rain last night and the air is refreshing and cool. It's just about as nice as it gets! 

September was a solidly productive month for me painting wise and so here is the rundown:

1. Rural Scenes: This piece is based on one of the trips I took last month to the Sacramento area. My drive winds me through farm country and so I was inspired by all of the equipment related to irrigation and water delivery/storage/management in general. Those three gray circles are my rendition of the overflow release pipes/openings along highway 5!

2. Talkin' About My Generation: Another piece inspired by a recent trip. This time it was my visit to Folsom Powerhouse. If you didn't catch my post on this trip you can read about it here. Suffice to say that there is a lot of great history at this historic park. 

3. During The Storm: This piece was inspired by a set of "paper sketches" made several months ago. The colors reminded me of our impending winter season but also reference the fact that the piece was made during our recent firestorm. 

4. Town and Country: This piece was made at the height of our fire season. It's hard for me to even write about having a fire season but I think that we do have one. I wanted to juxtapose my ideas about how fire affects all of us; both those in town and in the country. The imagined roof line is typical of our area's architecture but could easily be a roof line seen in a city. 

5. Release and 6. Water, Water Everywhere: I am very pleased to say that both of these pieces sold this month. 

Good News: 
Earlier this summer I entered the Madera Arts Council's Celebrate Agriculture show. The show is in its 22nd year and is an important event. It's impossible to emphasize how critical the role of agriculture is in both this region of California and the greater world economy. This particular art show is meant to highlight the significance of this area and the role of agriculture in our lives. The last two pieces listed above were accepted into this show (very good news). The really great news though is that I received recognition (a ribbon) and both pieces have actually sold! You almost never learn why someone bought your art but without exception, it's always gratifying. Money isn't easy to come by for most of us. The fact that someone would spend it on your artwork really says something I think. 

You can't have good news without bad news. This last weekend was our open studio/arts tour here in Calaveras. Because of the fire here, I elected to not participate. The studio space where I was to participate was in the midst of some of the greatest devastation caused by the fire. Additionally, a fellow artist who was to set up with me lost her home. In light of that and considering some other fire related things, I decided it just wasn't the right time. 

Recommended Reading
I have been reading this summer, slowly, and wanted to highlight some good finds. The books are related to learning about our state's history in relation to natural resources, such as water. The first book is by Philip Fradkin and is called The Seven States of California: A Human and Natural History. Fradkin was a journalist and presents in this book a good breakdown of our state's major geographical areas and some of the events that shaped their history. The second book is by Wallace Stegner and is called Where The Bluebird Sings to The Lemonade Springs. If you aren't familiar with Wallace Stegner, this book is a great introduction to his writing style and his thoughts on living in the American West. The last book is by David Carle and is titled Introduction to Water in California. Before reading this short and extremely informative book, I had no idea about our water system here in California. This is a good basic primer to help anyone learn about where our water comes from and how it gets to us. 

Lastly, I wanted to mention that although I have no further shows planned for this year I am always available for a studio visit. Just contact me to arrange a time since my studio is in my home. I have revamped my website and it can be seen here. I hope it is easy for people to use. Inquiries about my process or sales can be made with a quick email. Just send it here: 

As always, thank you for reading these wrap up posts. Being supported in any way with my art making efforts is apprecaited!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

New Work: Generation; Folsom Powerhouse

Talkin' About My Generation
Image size 18" x 14" approx-acrylic and painted papers

Folsom Powerhouse 1-5 below

Last week I took a little trip to the Folsom Powerhouse State Park in Folsom. I first learned about the park on the tv show, California's Gold, hosted by the now gone-but-not-forgotten Huell Howser. Because of my interest in water and all of its attendant features and functions, the powerhouse trip made perfect sense.

Though this generation plant is no longer in use, it was once a major source of electricity for the Sacramento area. The American River was dammed (and dammed again with the current Folsom dam) and some of its water was diverted to a channel that was gravity fed to the powerhouse. The distinction for this site is that the plant supplied some of the nation's first high voltage alternating current. Additionally, this plant is one of the oldest in the world to have first supplied this type of water generated power. The distance is notable too since it is about 22 miles to the city of Sacramento which used the electricity to power streetcars and factories.

It was about an hour or so in the car, one way, and as I drove I made note of some of the things that I had seen at the power plant. I originally conceived of a piece that had more to do with all of the little parts of the wheels, generators, and pipes. I was particularly taken with the penstocks, shown in that last photo. They are a series of huge pipes, bent at an angle, that supply the water to the generators that in turn, rotate to help create the electrical output. For some reason, the whole place was fascinating. Spooky too since it is a large brick building from the late 1800's full of massive dark machinery. The generators are particularly scary. The noise must have been ferociously loud. 

As I was driving back home, I pictured a set of opposites: on and off, black/blue and yellow, tall and short. All I really saw was blue, black and yellow-nighttime and daytime. I thought I was going to work with sepia toned hues but that didn't happen. Once in my studio, I pulled out colored papers that I thought were appropriate-blacks and grays (neutrals) and brighter blue and yellow. Seemed like 4-5 values, max. Just two saturated colors max (and opposites). 

I'll save the construction details and pics for a later post, along with what I learned. For now though, the big difference is that I didn't work from a drawing-just some small thumbnails of individual ideas plus the words and descriptions that I jotted down while driving. (I did draw the shapes on the construction paper prior to cutting-I just didn't have a master drawing to work from.) I put the whole thing together by cutting paper shapes to see if they worked. That's a big step for me to visualize something without drawing it, to cut the idea from paper first. I do like having a master drawing though for placement of pieces so I won't skip this step next time. But it was really a very good exercise in construction and design. I tried to take my photo straight on, by the way but it was hard to do it. The lines are really as straight as possible in real life.

OK, hope everyone has had a good weekend so far. Thanks for reading and if anyone has any insight on this piece or process send me an email or leave a comment.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

New Work and Another Idea!

During The Storm
12" x 16" acrylic on wc paper
I worked on the above piece early last week. The image is derived from a set of paper sketches that I did last month. I got a little crossed on my color ideas. I had a plan in mind but I also had the image of the paper sketch that I had done. As so often happens, I get a little confused about my original goal. In this case I am fine with things because I used a color and some mixes that I don't normally use and so I feel like I learned a few things.

Currently I am working on another piece that is similar in concept to this one I did earlier this month. I worked out the design last weekend and earlier this week. Rather than doing a complete drawing I worked from some little sketches done while out and about last week. I also worked from my written impressions. I began things by selecting some colors and by placing the largest areas of color first. After that I went on to smaller shapes and then some final details. It was very much like putting a puzzle together and in fact I actually worked the thing like a traditional puzzle, walking by my easel and paper at times and adding and subtracting pieces, trying things out to see if they fit. Guess those puzzles I did when I was a kid paid off! I won't say what the piece is about just yet but for anyone of my age group, or anyone else who might want to know, here is a little video from our collective youth.

I also want to pass along something that has been helping me both personally and in my art life. If anyone reading is like me, getting stuck in a rut is sort of a fact of life. Routines can be very helpful and rules provide predictable outcomes, which can be comforting. (If you haven't guessed already I like structure!) There are times though when outside-the-box thinking is required. Lately I have been asking myself a two-pronged set of questions: What if...? and Then what...? Here is an example. I started with the fact that I worry about running out of mixtures once I start painting. I mix my colors from the 3 primaries, mixing what I think is enough to cover a sheet or two of paper. What if I run out? It's hard to remix that exact same color again. (My work is limited to a few shapes with their inherent values and chroma so stuff like this stands out.) This problem has stifled me many times, causing a little anxiety in getting going. Here is the set of questions I asked myself. What if I don't mix up enough paint of that hue and value? OK, what about it? Then in that case, what if I mixed additional paint in the same value but with a slight temperature shift? Can I accept this? The value is the same, the chroma is the same but I have shifted temperature. No big deal. I wouldn't have thought of this because my routine is to mix just that one color. I have been lucky so far and haven't run out. But what if I did? I have used this type of questioning in other areas including making judgments about people, doing unfamiliar things, and discovering different ways of looking at the world. Give it a try. I can guarantee that you will come to love it!

OK, no studio tour for me this weekend. I mentioned that in a mid month newsletter. I am continuing to work on the new piece that I mentioned above. Our weather has been glorious and I couldn't be happier. There is a lot less smoke in the air and I have been able to resume my walks. I even went for a small hike on Tuesday! Good stuff.

Hope everyone is having a good week. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

New Work and a Spot of Blue...

Rural Scenes
16" x 20" acrylic and painted paper on 1" profile board

Paper sketches 1-7

The above finished piece and sketches were completed over the last week. While working on these ideas, I found that I drew on some advice that I read awhile back. I thought I would pass it along. Maybe it will help!

One of the best favors that you can do for yourself is to ask this simple question when you are making your art (or really, when you are engaged in any creative task): "Why did I do that?" Or better yet, "Why am I about to do that?"

This last week, (and over the last year), I have found myself asking these questions. The advice comes from an art professor whose name I can't recall anymore. He is somewhere back east though and on his blog, he wrote that he frequently asks his students to explain their work. He finds just as often as not that many students can't explain their design choices or describe their work in a meaningful way. Saying that you did something just because you like it doesn't really offer up a lot of information to the person who has asked the question. (It isn't that the answer is wrong but that it isn't terribly informative for the listener.) Moreover, it probably isn't enough for yourself as a creative person to not know why you make the choices that you do.

The takeaway from this, for me anyway, is that it pays to ask the question (of why you are doing something) prior to making a move on the canvas or paper. Not to get stifled so as to not be able to move but to go at things in a more thoughtful way. I think it can provide real insight into your own thought processes and possibly reveal where you are strong and where there are some opportunities, particularly if your answers sound "weak" to your own ears. 

Here is an example of what I am suggesting. For many of the shapes and placement decisions that I made in the first piece, I specifically asked myself why I was making the choices that I was making. Why put that green piece there? Why am I placing that brown triangle in that way? Why am I covering up the edge of that particular piece? These types  of questions slowed me down but also prevented me from working in a mindless way. I am not saying I didn't make "mistakes" or have some happy accidents along the way but I felt much more connected to the outcome of this piece because of a little initial deliberation. And if I couldn't really answer the question then I knew I was either too tired to continue working or I didn't have the knowledge yet to answer the question and I had better get it...quick! 

My opinion is that greater insight can be achieved by probing for a more concrete answer. This way of working is easy to do really and can lead to greater insight into the "why" of why you do something and not something else. It can even reveal gaps in your knowledge base. And goodness, please don't write in to tell me that you love the color blue and what is wrong with that anyway? It's OK to love the color blue but you might stop for a second to probe a bit. I love the color blue too because it reminds me of water which I find both peaceful and terrifying. The color blue often describes a state of either optimism or mystery, of fullness or emptiness, of calmness or of a great disturbance. Blue, to me anyway, can represent insight and it can represent cold weather. There are lots of reasons I love the color and use it in my work. What about you? Why did you put that spot of blue there anyway?

Hope everyone has had a good week so far. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Monday, September 7, 2015

New Work

Town and Country
12" x 16" acrylic and painted paper

12" x 16" acrylic and painted paper
The above two pieces are from one of the accordion/concertina books that I did. My theme was "fire" which seems odd, I know, but it was what was on my mind at the time. (Still is actually.) The top piece seems interesting to me. The roof line of the "building" is typical to our area. It just so happened that I had this shape in my pile of cast off clippings of paper from other projects. So, a good coincidence. I am learning that keeping an open mind when doing these "sketches" is important for me. Being flexible leads to happy accidents.

Both pieces presented me with difficult design challenges. I am also learning that it isn't always necessary (or important) to exactly duplicate the source sketches. That is a tough lesson though because I tend to believe that there is only one answer design-wise and in reality there are many, many "right" answers. Each answer is actually its own answer, if that makes sense. So, more flexibility.

OK, hope everyone is having a good Monday. I am working on some sketches and ideas and doing some work to prepare for the studio tour. I am changing my setup a bit and so that takes some thinking and shopping:)

Thanks for reading and commenting.