Sunday, August 7, 2016

I've gone to the dogs

acrylic gel texture and oil on wood cut-out--about 20x16"
This is my dog art entry for Rocklin's Woofstock dog festival, August 26-28th. It will be displayed around town and auctioned at the event, with proceeds benefiting local dog rescue organizations. The city supplied the wood cut-out. I adjusted the shape of the head with some gator board and painted it.

Made a 6-hr round trip to hang 22 paintings in Salinas Thursday-Friday and did this piece yesterday and today (gel had to dry overnight)-- my swan song for the time being. I have some household chores to take care of this week, including a bathroom I'm painting with diamond shapes, then will start classes on the 17th.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Still Wild

12 in. x 12 in. oil on canvas

One more auction before I head off to my out-of-town gallery show for a night, then return and start paralegal certification classes next week. Looking at my little studio and all the supplies, I have mixed feelings and some nostalgia, maybe even grief--but no desire to jump into another painting yet. I think I still prefer "having painted" to actually painting.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Truth About My Art Career

Almost Spring, Monterey Hills, 20 in. x 24 in.
New version, different format of an earlier work, for an upcoming August show in Salinas
While finishing a couple of pieces for this show, I clarified my problem: the lack of any reliable formula for producing a successful painting, along with my inner critic’s constant drone that every stroke of every painting “should” be looser, faster, more decisive, more like this-or-that artist, or otherwise somehow just better. Every. Single. Painting. At some point on most, I am frustrated and confused before fighting my way out. The “shoulds” extend to my productivity, marketing, promotion and every other aspect of the art business.

I was self-critical during 25+ years of illustration as well, though somewhat mollified by the fact that, for better or worse, most commissions were collaborations with designers and clients, and projects were just business, the images short-lived. Particularly after becoming the mother of a child with serious health issues, whenever I was holed up working I felt guilty about not attending to home and family—and vice versa. I worked countless all-nighters to meet deadlines, often rendering subject matter I hated (money, cars, computers, somebody's weird idea--ugh.) Nevertheless, I mostly liked illustrating, and the flexible hours and somewhat regular work made it an OK second income. I had a rep for a while, won a few minor awards, and got some national work; but I never achieved the level of skill and financial success I once sought. The one time I thought I had a shot in a New York show (The One Show for children’s books), my publishers promised to enter then missed the deadline. Throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s, I climbed the mast of a sinking ship, as much advertising illustration succumbed to the digital age. Children’s books, a last bastion, were a mountain of work, paid a fraction of the rates, and sometimes ended up poorly produced; so in 2010, after illustrating thirteen books, I was done. I began painting more seriously.

With no art director, no deadlines, and no constraints (other than huge, ever-present family stuff), painting initially was fun. But the more I learned, the more vocal the inner critic became, and I began experiencing some of the same resistance I had with difficult illustrations. I soldiered on, hoping to improve and build a clientele. I sold some work in an out-of-town collaborative gallery for a year but could not sustain the monthly commute. I built a new website for my local studio tour and took on its Facebook promotion; it made little difference in attendance and sales at my own studio. I applied to a local gallery, but after reviewing reports and seeing the price range for the bulk of their sales (low), I declined. I recently donated a painting and got some promotion on my well-known auction website. For the six paintings I showed during my featured week, I had significantly more “views” but only one $100 sale—no more than I typically get in that venue. At this point, even in a best-case scenario, the odds of any reasonable profit from painting (without major marketing and promotion efforts, teaching, etc.) seem remote. I am not bitter, just tired. So, after 30+ years, despite mixed feelings (bordering on disbelief) about not focusing on art, I’m changing direction.

I don’t need to earn a lot (in fact, my interests lean more toward tilting at windmills than making money), but I need to do something less isolating and more intellectually challenging; something that feels like it matters. Law always intrigued me and became more of an interest after some life experiences. At this point I'm not sure I have enough commitment or working years to justify investing in law school; but I’ve decided I can spend one year in a paralegal certification program and work in the field for a while to see if I like it. I took the plunge, enrolled, and will start in August. Classes are three nights a week, so I may continue painting in the spaces (pretty much what I’ve always done), or not--we’ll see.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Monarch of Another Nation

8 in x 8 in. oil on panel

 This is not something I would have thought of painting if not for the challenge. I still often do best with an assignment.
 I did not get all worked up about the Cincinnati zoo's recent killing of the gorilla to save a kid, but I find the confinement and exhibition of most primates disturbing.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pucker Up

8 in. x 8 in. oil on panel
Another take on this shot from a little tree on our patio. I love the subtle differences between the various shades of green and yellow.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer Delights

The Daily Paintworks Fruit Challenge (click to see other entries)
6 in x 6 in. oil on panel

This week's Challenge is sure to get a lot of entries. The Challenges get a lot of "looks," though most seem to be other artists rather than buyers.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Colorful Apricots

8 in. x 8 in. oil on panel

Another version similar to an earlier painting, from one of my many alternate shots. Three days since my last post. So much for being a "daily painter"--I have "stuff."

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Apple Blossom Glow

6 in. x 6 in. oil on panel--SOLD
In preparation for being the "Spotlight" artist on Daily Paintworks, this is the first of some small paintings  I am  saving to post during my week on the featured artist page. It's a slow time of year, so no apologies for reaching back into my photo cache for some realism and "pop." 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Merriam's Chipmunk

6 in. x 6 in. oil on canvas

My old research habits kick in when I start thinking about titling and describing a painting. This time they led me to find the species of chipmunks  in the Tahoe area and then some information about the doctor whose name they bear--a pretty prolific scientist.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


6 in. x 6 in. oil on canvas

"Cria" is the name for a baby camelid, such as a llama. Ages ago, while on a break from college and before art school, I spent several months tightly rendering charcoal "portraits" of horses and dogs. Horse shows were a great market, and I was super busy for the two months before Christmas of whatever-year-that-was. After that I  never wanted to draw or paint animal portraits again. An occasional creature is OK, as long as it doesn't have to look exactly like somebody's pet.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

West Shore Tahoe, Afternoon

8 in. x 8 in. oil on canvas
I was at Lake Tahoe with some other painters the week before last. I am not much of a plein air person to begin with and was fighting a cold to boot; so painting out on the pier was a stretch. The one above is a studio re-do of my original effort posted below. Actually I think each has some qualities the other lacks. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Happy Place

8 in. x 8 in. oil on MDF panel

My greens got all muted, but it's OK. I've learned to love the mud. Something about chromium oxide green mixed with almost anything...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Good Morning, Redux

6 in. x 6 in. oil on canvas/MDF panel

I am trying to rely less on the colors in my subject or reference photos (a little) and more on my own internal color sense. With that in mind, I reworked this painting shortly before last month's open studio, making it essentially a new one.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Garden Glow

6 in x 6 in. oil on panel - SOLD
This represents my return to work--and to DPW. I need to continue doing larger works, but I am still addicted to the auction format.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Poppies & Ponies

18 x 24 in. oil on canvas

My next-to-last effort before the Art Studio Trek open studio this weekend. This is a composite of shots taken in Rocklin.