Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Working Away

At work in my studio
Well, another month has slipped by and I haven't posted much. It's not that there hasn't been anything to post, I just haven't taken the time. Shame on me. In my defense I have been very focused on my art these last several weeks.

Most of the month of January I spent painting ten small works for the Valley Art Center show for the month of February. This was a fund-raising event for the gallery and it was a wonderful success for both the gallery and the artists. Over thirty artists were represented each contributing between five and ten small pieces of art. We had over two hundred pieces to choose from. When the show opened folks in attendance literally ran for the walls to grab their favorites as this was truly a "grab and go" show. Sixteen paintings sold in the first ten minutes! It was crazy fun!
I used this event as a chance to try out some different subject matter and airbrushed backgrounds. I painted two butterflies using the airbrush and thought they turned out rather nice. The soft focused background really made the butterflies pop.
I was excited when they were both chosen to go home with a new collector. 
This red fox was very popular and I probably could have sold more just like him had I painted more than one. 
I had also rented wall space in another part of the gallery to showcase some of my larger pieces that I had left from my October show. I was ecstatic when someone walked through the gallery carrying one of my favorite paintings, Dawn Patrol, and took it home for their own.
Dawn Patrol - Prairie Falcon
 By the time the opening reception ended nine of my ten paintings had sold and dozens of other artists works went as well. As I said, it was crazy fun!
Once that show was past I then turned my focus to creating my next duck stamp entry. I decided to enter Delaware's contest again this year as they are still featuring a dog and a duck on their stamp. This year it will feature a black Labrador retriever and long-tailed ducks. This species of duck was a little more challenging for me as I have only had the opportunity to see one only once in my life. I took photos at that time, but the birds were rather far away. I spent several hours studying others photos of these birds and even spent time watching hunting videos to get a better idea of the habitat they're found in and how they interact in it. Eventually, I put together a sketch and started painting. Unfortunately, I can't show you anything until after the judging in April, but you can be sure I will post the results and my entry either way.
So, what's up next? Well, if I wanted there are enough duck stamp contests to enter one every few months and I do have plans to enter more. However, I think the next painting may be for me personally. I still haven't painted my dog, Balin's official portrait. The Delaware duck stamp doesn't count as that. My idea for his official portrait will be more of a montage including his puppy stage, adult stage and maybe an aspect or two of his true personality. I can't wait to get started on that!




Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Welcome 2018!

Quiet Time - Kingfisher - Acrylic 5" x 7"

Happy New Year everyone and Welcome 2018!

It's hard for me to believe that a whole year has come and gone already! This past year was a wonderful adventure filled with exciting opportunities, new friends, great successes and some challenges. I pushed myself harder than I have in years to reach my goals and was rewarded for my efforts. I feel pretty good about that. Now we're looking at a new year ahead and I'm working at formulating a new plan. At this point the plan is a little vague since I don't have a show or other major event that I'm working towards, but that can always change. The year is still young.
"First Winter" juvenile Red-tailed hawk - acrylic 5" x 7"
To start off 2018 I am working on ten small paintings that are going to a fundraiser for Valley Art Center in February. These mini-paintings, only 5" x 7", are giving me a good opportunity to experiment a little. I got a new airbrush for Christmas and I'm practicing, on a small scale, with soft focused backgrounds. As I have been working more in acrylics lately achieving this look with a brush is challenging as the paint dries quickly making it hard to blend. An airbrush can help to create that softer background and give the painting a sense of depth. Learning to airbrush isn't without its challenges though and you can easily overdo the look, but it's fun to try some new things. 

The show is called "A Heart for Art" and will feature the works of several talented artists. Each painting will be for sale for the small price of $40.00. The opening reception will be Friday, February 2nd from 4 - 7 p.m. and will run through the end of February, however that first night will give you the best selection and it's usually pretty fast paced with paintings nearly flying off the walls.The show is designed for patrons to be able to take their purchases home that evening and a framer will even be on hand with pre-made frames. It's sure to be a fun event so please plan to come if you can.

Well, 2018 is off to a flying start! Guess I'd better get back to work as February will be here before I know it. Here's hoping 2018 is a good year for everyone!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Quiet Time

First snow 2017
We received the first snow of the season here in the L-C valley last night. It wasn't a lot, maybe 3"- 4", but it was enough to soften everything and make the valley look more festive for the holidays. It won't last more than a day or two, but I always love the first snow of winter. It gets me in the mood for the Christmas season and makes me feel peaceful.
Winter sunrise from the duck pond
Like a lot of people this time of year I find myself busy and hurrying trying to get projects and shopping done and I miss the beauty of winter, so this December I've taken a little break from all of that. I hadn't planned it that way, but continued problems with my back and having my husband off work for part of the month has helped (forced?) me to slow down more. 
Roughed-legged hawk and hoarfrost
I've taken some quiet drives, had some talks with God, and just enjoyed the beauty and wonder of His creation at this time of year. 
Old farm equipment and hoarfrost
 It's helped. I feel calmer and I'm trying to let that sink in for the remainder of the year and hope to bring it forward into the next year ahead.
Kingfisher on a cold morning
I don't know for sure what next year will bring. I have some ideas, but I'm taking this quiet time to try and listen to God's guidance and plan for me instead of rushing head-long into things.
So, what about you? Are you taking time to be quiet and listen? God is speaking through nature and the Christmas season. Can you hear his call to your heart? 

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas season!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Sometimes You Win.....

Oregon duck stamp entry
But not always.
Recently, I entered another duck stamp contest for the state of Oregon. The species choices were ring-necked duck, harlequin, bufflehead or ruddy duck. I chose to do a pair of ring-necked ducks in early pre-dawn light mainly because that was the species I had the best reference for. 
Ring-necked ducks
I basically combined these two images into a final painting.
I worked very hard to depict the ducks accurately and was satisfied with the piece when I sent it off.

The judging took place on Nov. 4th at the Duck Pond Winery, but I was not chosen. I didn't even make the top five. Was I disappointed? You bet. I had worked hard on that piece and knew the competition would be tough. I just didn't realize how tough. The top five paintings were incredible in their level of detail and realism. 

You can view the other entries here:

So, you win some, you lose some. You just never know who you will be competing against or what the judges are looking for. I have to admit that I had to ask myself some hard questions after this because if I intend to keep competing I'm definitely going to have to up my game. Is this something that I want to do or am I satisfied with just creating art that makes people happy. Well, I decided I want to do both! Sometimes a little healthy competition stretches us to do better and I'm just competitive enough to want to play with the big boys and girls in this realm. I don't have to win all the duck stamp contests, but I'd sure like to win more than just one and in the process if it helps me create better art then it's a win-win situation all around.

So what's next? Well, there's a contest for Washington in December and N. Carolina in January. I am planning on entering both. I have been out the past few days gathering reference photos as the ducks and geese are migrating through my area. I have a lot of work ahead of me if I hope to do better on these next contests!

Oh, and I almost forgot! I will be getting my painting back in the next week or so and it will be for sale on my Daily Paintworks site so watch for it there. It might not have won a contest, but it still could make someone happy! 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Beyond Blessed

The long awaited opening of my solo show was Friday night, October 6th at the Valley Art Center in Clarkston, Wa. Though a little nervous about the event I went with a light heart full of hope and anticipation. I'd had a little conversation with God that morning about my hopes for the show and felt like he was replying, "Just trust me on this." So I tried my best not to worry, to just go and enjoy myself. 
A happy and relaxed me before the show!
 I arrived a little before 4 p.m. and the volunteers at the gallery had everything ready to go. They had hung and placed my art in such a way as to really make it shine and I was so pleased. 
Miniature paintings tastefully displayed.
View of the front window.
 My guests started arriving shortly thereafter and within half an hour the gallery was full of art lovers and friends!
My first guests!
More guests!
Many of the people were good friends I've known a long time. Some were past clients. Some folks were new acquaintances and some I had never met, but all were excited and interested in my art and I was incredibly humbled by the fact that they had come and by the wonderful compliments they had for my work. 
 I was trying very hard to take time to visit with everyone that came, but at times it got a little crazy as more people were arriving than I ever dreamed would come.
A quiet moment with a very dear friend.
 And then it happened.....I had my first sale! One of my past clients fell in love with "Lady Bluetail" the rare little bird that visited our valley last December and the first painting I had completed for the show.
Lady Bluetail
 It was interesting to visit with folks and find out their thoughts on my work and what appealed to them. There is no way to predict what will resonate with someone when you paint it, no way to guess what will sell. I certainly had my favorites, but I was surprised and delighted when many people started gravitating toward my painting "Feel Free to Hunt" which depicted an encounter I had with a coyote as I watched it hunting one day. The story behind it can be found here:
Me and "Feel Free to Hunt"
No one was more pleased than me when it became the second painting to sell that evening! And more good things just started happening from there! 
Ready to Go-black lab pup
There were many moments in the evening that really touched my heart and blessed me beyond measure. One of those came when a past client of mine saw this drawing of a black Lab puppy. He fell in love with it and bought it, then searched me out and asked if the puppy in the drawing was his Cassie. Some time ago he had gotten this little black lab pup and asked me to do a portrait of her. I took many photos of her then completed a portrait for him. A while later I had completed this drawing using some of the other photos I had taken at that time, but had never told him about it as I was using it for an example when I met with other pet portrait clients. Incredibly, he recognized his dog in that drawing and was moved to tears when I told him it was indeed his Cassie. Of course, that got me crying, too. It's incredible to me that something I've created can touch someone that way.
Maggie - "It's my chair"
Another touching moment came when I saw a good friend standing in front of this drawing of my dog Maggie. He seemed very serious and lost in deep thought as he looked at it. Her knew Maggie very well and it sparked some good memories of her and his dogs and walks we shared. Again, some deep emotions welled to the surface and again, I was deeply touched by this response to my art.
Special friends at my show
The journey to this show has been an incredible experience for me. My opening night was a great success because of the love, support, and prayers of so many people who believed in me including family, friends, clients and the hard-working volunteer staff at Valley Art Center. I can not express my thanks enough to all of you, those who were there and those who couldn't make it. But mostly I would like to thank my Creator for giving me the talent to be an artist and showing me how I could use it to enrich the lives of others. It has long been my dream to paint in this way and God has been answering that prayer in amazing ways. This scripture verse came to me today from Ephesians 4:20,
"Now glory be to God who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of - infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes."
Thanks to God and all of you, I am beyond blessed!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Counting the Days

The paintings are finally done, the framing is all complete. Everything is labeled and priced and packed. My first solo show is just weeks away and I am excited, apprehensive and relieved all at once. 
This has been an interesting journey for me, bigger than any project I've ever taken on. I have had to work harder at painting than I've ever done in the past in order to have enough pieces to put in the show. I've had to be extremely organized and dedicated so I could reach my goal. I have had to paint most days and have had to plan the next painting while still focusing on the one I was working on. Early on in the process I often asked myself, "what in the world were you thinking when you said yes to this??" Because I have primarily worked on commissions I had very few pieces in inventory which meant I had to work that much harder to meet the number of paintings needed. But, I did it!
The photo shows my progress from a few months ago. Almost all of these are new paintings so you can gauge just how much work was involved here. This is about two-thirds of what I completed for the show. 
Me and one of my favorite paintings
 Now that I have the work behind me I can take a deep breath, maybe have a glass of wine and figure out what happens next. Perhaps now I will concentrate on more challenging individual pieces that I can really take my time on or maybe I will focus on entering more duck stamp contests. The next steps on the path have not been revealed yet, but I'm hopeful they will be soon. In the meantime, I'll be anxiously awaiting the opening of this show and hopefully getting to visit with many of you there!


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Busy, busy, busy!

Me and the 22", 15 lb. zucchini

Well, folks, I apologize for the lack of posting, but I have had more than my share of things going on this past month. I can't believe how incredibly blessed I've been this year with the produce coming out of my garden.
Tomatoes from my garden

 I picked the mega-monster zucchini the other day and have picked well over a hundred pounds of tomatoes with more on the way. Canning, freezing, dehydrating and eating fresh produce is competing heavily with my painting time and there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. 

Balin napping
 The only one getting any rest around here is the dog who thinks the best place to sleep is in my studio, under my table with his head on the air conditioner vent. 

Female black-chinned hummingbird and blue salvia

Juvenile Cooper's hawk
 I have taken brief breaks to enjoy the hummingbirds and hawks visiting my garden as well as the recent eclipse which was spectacular even at 97% here in my neck of the woods.

Me with kestrel painting
I have gotten most of my paintings framed and ready for the show, but still have a few I'm working on and hope to add to the total in the next few weeks. The count-down is on so I really don't have a lot of time left.

Mystery duck stamp painting
 And finally, I decided to enter another duck stamp contest with a deadline coming up in the next few weeks. Sorry, I can't show the whole painting, which is almost finished, until after the contest, but here is a little close-up teaser of the drake. Can you guess the species?

I hope this helps you all to know that I haven't disappeared. I'm still here, just lost in paint and vegetable matter! Hopefully, things will ease off a bit after the show and I will get a little vacation. Until next time, I hope you all are enjoying your summer!