Thursday, December 18, 2008

Small Studies-Snow Scenes-Southwest Art

Though I love the challenge of painting snow, I don't really enjoy standing in it, my feet turning blue and numb, feeling like I need to hurry so I can get warm. But, the good thing about that is I am forced to make the call, make a decision and get that paint down right the first time. I painted last spring in Santa Fe in early March. It was so cold, my last day there I painted in Hyde Park which is 10 miles uphill (colder) outside of Santa Fe. The snow was knee deep and I was so cold. After watching others who seemed to be not as cold as I , it became quickly apparant that I was not dressed right at all. My boots are desert boots, not snow, I wore jeans, which the cold went right through. The painting I did that day actually turned out to be real good. Mainly because I didn't spend one minute of time overworking it. Snow is falling in northern Az. now so it looks to be a good snow season. I will head up for more painting, dressed hopefully more prepared! The finished pieces will be in a show at the Artistic Mystic in Chandler. Deborah Silvas is having me as a featured artist to celebrate my paintings being shown in the upcoming Southwest Art Magazine. This Feb. issue will have 8 artists and their snow scenes, and I am fortunately one of the artists chosen. I will post all the winter scenes in the show on my website and on this blog. This little gouache painting is of one of the old lovely missions in New Mexico. Christmas is next week, hard to believe the time goes by so fast. I realize that all I can do it paint a dim reflection of what I see out there. But I hope that reflection sparks a wonderful memory, or creates a new one for you the viewer. Merry Christmas, sit back a bit and appreciate all that you have been blessed with.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

FMinus Comics- Growing up

Yesterday was my oldest son Tony's birthday. On any of my kids birthdays I pull out the baby pictures and go over them carefully. They make me both cry and laugh out loud. You always hope for your children that they will have a great future and find someone to love who loves them too. My middle son Michael has certainly done that. He is married to a childhood sweetheart and they are expecting their first child ( my first GRANDBABY!) To see them happy and building their own lives is very satisfying. My daughter, Roni has just started college and her and my almost daughter Katie are getting ready for finals, and growing up fast. I watch them learn to love, get hurt all the ugly stuff along with making good life decisions. My kids are now my friends, people I can trust and confide in, who support each other and me in wonderful ways. Tony is getting married this spring to his high school sweetheart and Andy & I couldn't be happier. If are still deep into the "teen"years" going out of your mind with your kids let me give you some hope. They do come around. When the Jeckle and Hyde years are finally over you will have wonderful friends and it is all good. Oh, and this silly picture is of Tony in his studio creating his comic- FMINUS. Check it out in your newspaper or go to his website You can read his blog at
He also has a new book of his comics coming out this spring- his last book is available at
Changing Hands in Tempe, and Borders anywhere. Happy Birthday Tony

Monday, December 1, 2008

Your Own Style-

Artists have been coming down to check out the Farm and painting there. The grounds are surrounded by old oleander trees, there are no sidewalks, rows of seasonal vegetables, it's all good. I have asked artists to send me pics of their paintings done here. Everyone's experience painting is different, we will all be hit with something different. To see each artists view of the Farm is a great learning experience and a treat to the eyes. This little colorful piece was done by Geri Acosta from Tucson. She is a gal that just moved to Arizona, knew no one, but has made many friends and has jumped right into life here in Arizona. I so admire her no fear way of getting at life and I think her paintings really do show her personality and even her take on how to jump and and go. So often your artwork will speak volumes about you, maybe more than you really wanted to say. But those you may not even know you can tell a lot about your view on life, your way of handing issues. Not always of course but if your work is truly you, and you have not just adapted another artist's style, it will say much about you. That is having your own style. It is not something that you decide ahead of time, which unfortunately is what art schools often push. How can you have a style when you are just learning how to get the paint off the palette and onto the canvas?? I know this gets old, but, Just Paint!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

TPAPS show in Tubac, Arizona

This weekend was the opening for the Tucson Plein Air Painters Members show held at the Tubac Center of the Arts. If you have not made it down to Tubac it is so worth the trip. Great art galleries, good food (margaritas at the Old Tubac Inn), B&'B's, spectacular scenery, historic buildings lots to paint, antique and bookstores. Here is myself and two art friends, Geri Acosta (won second place), Beth Ray from Tucson. Both wonderful painters and just good people. The show is very solid and well hung. I won an Honorable Mention for a snow piece, I'm happy! Check out
Geri's website and blog-

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Artistic Mystic Gallery

I have a new home for my paintings, the
Mystic Gallery in Chandler, Az. The owner Deborah Silvis will feature my paintings, from Mid-January into February with a "Southwest Winter" theme. That allows me to paint snow in New Mexico, Arizona desert and up north in the pines. It is a cute place with a wide variety of artwork including glass and ceramics. Check it out at and go meet Deborah at the shop in the NW corner of Warner & Alma School. I plan to paint one real large piece and several smaller pieces of winter in our Southwest. That might include snow covered cactus or little wildflowers coming up early in the season. I am real excited to have this opportunity to show my work here in the Valley.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Painting on Catalina Island in March 2009

I just love it when I can be looking forward to a trip- and especially one to Catalina Island, CA. This March 2009 I will be teaching a workshop in the town of Avalon called "Painting on the Move". This little getaway town is famous for its casual feel with small homes nestled on the hillsides, the marina full of colorful boats. You never know what the weather will be like but such is the life of a painter. The class will be called "Painting on the Move". As a painter you need to be ready for weather (fog, sunshine), travel and most things out of your control. When you learn to travel light and just be ready to make the best of where you are at you will be surprised how many wonderful little paintings are right in front of you. We can spent alot of wasted time walking and looking for just he perfect scene when it was probably right where you set your pack down. Come for a fun, relaxing, weekend on the lovely isle of Santa Catalina, bring your paints and canvas. I will have information on lodging with some good deals, also the ferry info for you at a later time. This weekend is designed for the artist that has some basic skills in painting but is not comfortable yet with painting on site. I will give you a basic and simple list of supplies before the class and some simple homework to help you get the most out of the classes. It will run over a weekend to make it totally workable to travel to LA hop onto the Ferry for the weekend. If you would like more information just write me at and watch my website for more details as I get it all worked out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Boyce Thompson Arboretum Superior, AZ

Yes, this photo was taken in Arizona, at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior. It is one hour east of Tempe on Hwy 60. I have spent so much time here both as a child and now as an adult. Growing up in Superior we used to come here for birthday parties and just to hang out. Now I love to bring artists to come discover what an amazing variety of subject matter to paint. And all within an easy walking distance of your car. It is part of the AZ State Park system so bring your pass or buy one when you get there. Check out the gift shop, very cool. This photo was taken last November, that glowing orange is one of the many pistachio trees in full fall color. Over the Thanksgiving weekend the park has it's annual Fall Festival with music, lecture series, guided walks and also painters coming in to paint the color. If you are a student of plein air this would be a great opportunity to watch how artist's work in the field. Check out the article in the November 2008 issue of Sunset Magazine on Boyce Thompson! Bring a picnic lunch and a friend, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Finding beauty behind Denny's

While in Pinetop for a friends party I wanted to take the time to stop and get in a small painting. We didn't have much time for wandering around looking for the perfect spot. I have spent way too much time trying to find the view that has everything including shade for me and the easel. I know this little town very well including the back roads but could not decide where to go. While thinking about it I pulled off the road behind a Denny's. There behind the restaurant was this wonderful view. It had rained from a recent monsoon with more to come, the red soil was muddy and colorful. Golden eye filled the field along with sunflowers. I could have driven around for ever trying to match this and here it was right in front of me. Some days when it seems hard to find what you are look for to paint you are better off to just stop and paint what is in front of you. Always chose to paint, do not just say forget it for today, get out and put the paint onto the canvas. As always go back to the basics, large shapes that work as as abstracts. If you don't have the time to look for that idea spot, you might just find it right out your window or car door!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Barbara Burton - Print the Farm Oct.31, 2008

This image was done by Barbara Burton, a printmaker & bookmaker who's work is extraordinary! She just concluded a group show at the Chandler Center for the Arts and we are privileged to have her as one of our instructors at The Artist Studio in Phoenix. On Friday, Oct. 31st 10:am - 1:00pm she will have a workshop where students( ages 13 & up) will use objects they find at The Farm to create a small series of prints. No matter what your usual medium or even if you have no art background you will benefit from hearing how Barbara works and creates. You can call the Cottage to register at 602-268-5905.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blooms at The Farm

The Residency started this week at The Farm in Phx with an Open House that went all day. What a great time, friends from my past even showed up. If you came, thank you for making my day great! I started today on my Farm series where I hope to find views that a just a little different, where most people might have walked by. The flowers are glorious , zinnas left from summer, and mums 6 feet high. Maya garden is an organic garden with produce, and flowers for the public and for the local chefs. What hard work the constant pulling weeds, keeping the pests under control and keeping little kids from tromping on the veges. Our art classes are in full swing with new ones getting on the schedule all the time. I have an oil painting class on Sunday afternoons and on Tuesday mornings. Our goal here is to keep it accepting, informal but with classical teaching. Egos need to be left at the door for instructors and students alike. I happen to like the pressure that you get from some classes/workshops but for people who are just stepping out to try an art medium for the first time, no need for added pressure.
What did I learn today? That it is more fun to teach students who want to learn than those who argue with you all the time! I learned to set back and not assume what I see when I put it down. After making a major blunder with one of my Cottage paintings, (perspective TOTALLY off), I am sketching and working on the basics again of perspective. It is never good to see your error in a painting that is already framed and on the wall or sent out to the public. UGH. Live and learn! Check out our new classes and try something new. And don't wait till 2009, you'll be too busy then too. The Farm: 32nd St. between Baseline & Southern in Phx.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Artist of the Month at Judson Art Supplies

One of my favorite art suppliers is Judson Art Supplies in Colorado. I have one of their little thumboxes (6"x8") that is so sturdy it has survived all kinds of abuse. This month I am the Artist of the Month on their website. It has been great in getting me connected to new students and clients. Their customer service is great being a small business they really want you to be happy with their products.
This week starts my residency at The Farm at South Mountain where I get to paint on the grounds for the next 6 weeks. I am also the Coordinator for the Art Classes held there. Starting this Sunday and also Tuesdays I will be teaching oil painting classes. I really enjoy taking people who have reached a spot and can't seem to move on and help them step up. Or the brand new beginner afraid to put paint down on that blank canvas. Check out the website for updates. Now that the weather here in Phx. has finally cooled off everyone is out. This is a gorgeous time here and yes we have a bit of fall color.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Artist Studio Residency

I start my residency at The Farm at South Mountain next week. In the mean time I have been painting there already since the temps. have finally dropped down alot here in the Phx area. There are several old farmhouses on The Farm property, little old bungalows that are really great. Swamp coolers in them, the doors swell in wet weather, and wood floors. We have art classes going starting this fall. Some are held in the Artist Studio others on the back porch. We try to have a very welcoming environment so the novice and the professional will feel comfortable and benefit. If you have always wanted to try a medium out and was a bit hesitant, I suggest you try a class with The Artist Studio. Oil painting, knitting, ceramics, watercolor, drawing. I have an oil painting class on Tuesday mornings, and Sunday afternoons from mid-Oct. to mid-Nov. This week I am getting my canvas's ready, and have been scoping out the scenes. It is really great to again get out of my comfort zone, no cactus here , rows of fresh vegtables, flowers, and hugh old pecan trees. Here is a little 5/7 that was meant to be a study but really turned out to look and feel like that afternoon was- warm in the sun with a cool breeze. Casual, comfortable and welcoming. That is The Farm. 32nd St. between Baseline & Southern in Phoenix. Check out

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Teacher, Mentor, Friend, Darlene Swaim

I have been really behind in getting to this blog- lots going on. Just wanted to get this wonderful image out from a show going on at Chandler Center for the Arts through Oct.31. Four of the artists are friends of mine, all very skilled in printmaking. This image is from my longtime mentor and friend, Darlene Swaim. Here series of images are all relating to her childhood growing up in Indiana farmland during the 50"s. Everyone was very afraid of the A bomb, with regular drills in the schools where the children would hide under their desks in practice for when the bomb sent by the Russians would hit. Her series of images visually show her feelings. I took printmaking from Darlene then went on to oil painting. The skills I learned from her in those classes at Mesa Community College were of more value than 3/4 of the art classes I had taken already in the 70's from ASU. That was the dark ages of abstract expressionism, do what you feel even if it is crap. Darlene never painted in a demonstration, but made you think, see and understand the form, then allowed you to just work hard. Put miles of canvas behind you and learn. Many students don't like this type of teaching but I have taken her theories to heart in my teaching. If someone really wants to learn to paint, they don't want to paint like the teacher, they need to learn to paint and allow their own style to come through. Rather than imitation the student learns through doing it. I learned there are no short cuts or secrets to painting well. Thank you Darlene for giving me the courage to give it a go, help me see, and for being one of the most caring individuals I have ever met. If only all art professors came in with this same attitude, to serve the student, not turn out little clones of themselves. Go see the show. Chandler Center of the Arts, Chandler, Arizona

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Farm at South Mountain Artist in Residence

The season has opened down at The Farm at South Mountain. The restaurants are open, artist's are working, gift shop filled with wonderful artpieces. Now that the mornings are so cool it is a great time to go down and check out the Morning Glory Cafe, it is at the west end of the property across from the The Cottage. I have done a couple of paintings of the Red Cottage and the Artist Studio and have my canvas ready to go start painting more scenes. Maya's Organic garden is in full bloom, with rows of flowers, herbs and vegetables. The umbrellas are up in the full sun. And, most importantly, it isn't 110 anymore! My Open House will be on October 18th, running all day, with a Reception starting at 5:30pm. I am bringing in several wonderful artist's who will be teaching classes in oil painting, printmaking, and several demonstrations set up during the 5 weeks I am there. Check my website home page , click on the Farm to read more about all the opportunities to get started in something new or to help you improve your skills. If you have any questions about the Residency or the Open House please email me: For the cafe info:
I will be teaching oil painting classes on Sunday afternoons and on Tuesday mornings, children's art classes on Sat. mornings with Barbara Schoepf, and oil painting classes with Toni Perrin. The calendar is being updated every few days as we get the details ironed out.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Catalina Art Association, 50th Annual Art Festival

This look like we are painting in Europe at some exotic marina but we are at Catalina Island in Avalon California. This is from last year when I was in Catalina to teach a workshop. Coming up on Sept. 20,21, 2008 the Catalina Art Association is hosting their 50th Annual Art Festival in Avalon. I was asked to be one of the judges for the show. Wow, now I will get to experience the other side of juried shows. If you want more info about the show go to my website then to the link on the right Art Festival in Catalina. The groups website is down right now so hopefully this page I created will help you learn about this wonderful island. Take a short trip on a ferry from LA, or San Diego and plan to spend at least one night. There are all kinds of activities and events planned each weekend, lots of concerts, what a great, romantic, quiet, wonderful vacation spot. It also has one of the largest marine preserves. Check out the websites, look at the webcam and try to plan a trip for the future, or come out and see all the fantastic art at the Catalina Art Festival.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Estes Park Plein Air 2008

Estes Park is a small friendly town just outside the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park. A week long painting event ending with a Quick Draw on Saturday morning, Aug. 23rd. Artists had 90 minutes to pick your spot, paint and bring up your painting for auction. Alot of artist's take issue with these quick draws, I find them fun. It forces you to make decisions, good or bad, the public enjoys seeing the paint fly and I hope it give them a bit of courage to give painting a try. Besides lots of pine trees and mountains around us, there were a couple of still lifes set up. I chose a huge bouquet of sunflowers. This piece is a 12" x 12" oil and can be found at the Earthwood Collections on Elkwood Ave in Estes Park, along with 5 other paintings of the area that I completed during this event. The weather was crazy with even some snow fall and alot of rain. Everything was vibrant greens and there were still many summer flowers to be found in the meadows. Check out to learn about this gallery in Estes Park and also their gallery in Boulder, on 1213 Pearl St. You can now find my work at this location also. This link explains the event very well:
The scenery at the RMNP is amazing, snow on the peaks, spruce, huge ponderosa pines, aspen, waterfalls, elk walking around in town, moose, fox and peace and quiet. It is about 80 miles from Denver and so worth a trip to see. Oh, and the cute little guy up in the photo? He was the local art critic who walked over my wet painting, leaving his comment and foot prints in the wet oil. I had to dig out is "remarks" before framing and turning in the painting. All part of the fun of painting outdoors!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Estes Park Painting

Here I thought we had wacky weather in Arizona. It rained non-stop for three days here in the Denver area. Then it actually snowed on the peaks above Boulder & Estes Park with a high of 46 degrees in Estes. This Wed. the temps will be in the high 80's. This country from Boulder up Hwy 36 is unbelievably beautiful. I painted at a rest area overlooking Boulder and the peaks to the north. The sun trying to get through the clouds revealed gleaming snow on the peaks. Cars on the highway actually slowed with people pulling off to take pictures. I was able to finish an OK piece there, with a few nats mixed into the paint. After all that rain they were out in force. Yesterday I headed up the road in the Rocky Mountain National Park, Hwy 34. Along the roadside was a heavy flowing waterfall. Tumbled with sticks and large rocks, aspens on the edges and wildflowers getting caught up in the water. Painted there for about two hours. I notice that paintings will often seem to have a strong start with strong values, then get weak as I blend too much, then finish strong when I go back to the strong value contrasts. Now if I could only get rid of the dull part and learn to leave well enough alone. I will post those pictures as soon as I resize the images. I have two paintings done ready for frame and need one more. They will be in the gallery in Estes , Earthwood Collections, see for more info
Seems like late August is a good time to visit this National Park. There are lots of camping spots and the trails are busy but not like they were two weeks ago. Once the kids all get back in school the roads open up and the weather is still nice. Be ready thought for change, as I found out, sunny warm then wham in comes a big cold front. Check out the website for the latest images of weather patterns. REAL helpfull, and up to the minute information. Also check out the webcam on . These cabins are reasonably priced, very clean and just outside the entrance to the Park and close to town. Very quiet at night since it is located on the road going into the Park. This Park and the town of Estes Park is a great location for a getaway. Wonderful views, fun shopping, good food/brewery, hiking and overwheming painting views.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Estes Park Plein Air Paint-out Colorado

I have been preparing my paint boxes getting ready to head up to Colorado for the Estes Park PLein-Air Paint-out. This little 6"x8" thumb-box is one of my favorites made by Gorilla box and sold by Judson Art Supplies Also coming along is the same box but 12"x16" and also a thin Open Box M , Each has it's special purpose. Since I have a van I can bring them all along and use the one that suits the situation. If you haven't picked out a box check out these two companies. They both have great customer service and good products. The artists in this event have from Aug.9th to Aug.22 to paint, frame and turn in their pieces. The QuickDraw is on Sat. the 23 so is the reception and the announcement of the award winners. Having been there last year I do know where I want to go back to and set up and a couple of new spots to check out. Sometimes I dump all my previous plans when a great scene opens up in front of me. Estes Park is just outside of the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park and a neat little town. My paintings will be hanging at the Earthwood Collections Gallery. These folks really treat us artists nice and are very supportive the whole time. I look forward to having a go at the vibrant greens of the pine trees and the grasses, and trying to do a better job of the sharp rugged mountains. Even in August there is snow on the peaks. If you have never been to Colorado try to make a trip there. It is a great road trip with scenery that changes the whole way. Check out the webcam on the link
to see some great views of the mountains. At you will see info on the hosting gallery. will give you a glimpse of what there is to see. Waterfalls, clean clear streams, moose, elk, and lots of green.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Frank Bette Center in Alameda, CA

Just got back from the Plein Air Paint-out in Alameda, CA. What really stood out to me was the friendly people in this little community. The town is on on of the many island in the bay of San Fransisco, and is mostly old lovely Victorian homes. Many lovingly keep up with lush gardens and huge old shade trees. Here is a picture taken by a photographer ( at the Plein Air event last Saturday. The painting is a little 6"x8" piece that I did at Morro Bay a couple of days before. I will get my images ready and post them soon on my website of all the paintings completed at this event. Check out the if you have a chance, they were the hosts for the week. Some one suggested that I sell my palette as an abstract, sadly, it would probably sell! I just need a good story to go along with it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Abend Gallery in Denver

YEA!!! My frozen toes and 3 wipe offs were worth the effort. This painting won 2ND place at the Abend Gallery in Denver at the Plein Air Painters of Colorado Juried Show. While painting this piece I noticed that the other artists around me were comfortably talking and enjoying the weather, it was sunny but COLD. At least cold for a Arizona girl, I couldn't feel my toes. That's when I quit messing with it and probably saved the painting from my overworking it. It means so much to me to have been awarded this from the judge Ramon Kelly. I so admire his work. Wow, I need the boost right now. As my artist friend Leslie reminded me, paint the shapes, don't worry about what the subject is. I have always said I can't paint snow, I can't but I can paint shapes and that is a good start.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Catalina Island, Avalon Pier

Here is one of my favorite places. This is the green pier in the Avalon Bay. This little painting is a reminder to me that simple is better. I never meant for it to be a keeper, but just a study of the pier's shape and distinctive color. I put down what I saw quickly but decisively. And that is why it worked. Instead of over thinking the scene, I just went with what I know. I really like this piece, and it makes me smile remembering wonderful times I have had on the Island of Catalina outside of L.A. Now to get that same freshness, clarity of color only on a canvas
4'x 5' !!! Don't let the size of the canvas be an issue at all as to what goes on it or how. Treat them the same with the same plan for strong composition, placement, no matter if it is a 6"x8" little canvas board that hardly fits on the easel or a canvas measured in feet. Easier said than done, but it does help to force yourself to switch sizes regularly with in the same week if possible. Try it. At first it will make you crazy.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fminus at Changing Hands Bookstore

Sometimes a part-time low paying job can turn into a career. That's what happened to my eldest son Tony who did a cartoon strip for the State Press at ASU while a student there. He won an MTV contest that gave him an opportunity for a syndicated deal with United Media. His cartoon FMINUS is now all over the country. At the great independent bookstore, Changing Hands in Tempe, he is teaching teens how to draw cartoons. Check out for details or the Changing Hands website. Am I proud, you bet. He can draw unbelievable portraits and figures having studied under Henry Stinson since high school. Hard work and long hours have really paid off. Check out, and any of the cartoons with terrible parents, are NOT us! Who said you can't make a living with an art degree. Go Ton!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Nature Concervancy - Hassayampa

One of my favorite little towns in Arizona is Wickenburg. Rich in history, lush desert, mountain views, and the Hassayampa River. All along the river there are Cottonwoods, beautiful in the summer rich green and in the winter, bare & purpleish. Just on the outskirts of town is the Preserve cared for by the Nature Conservancy. During the heat of the summer it is only open on Fri. Sat. Sun.. There is an old ranch house , displays about the wildlife, bunkhouse made of adobe, and trails. Take the time to pull off the highway down the little dirt road to the Visitor Center. See Bernadine for any questions and to get all kinds of information. Wear boots, the brush is thick and the trails sandy. But what a wonderful surprise when you take the Lions trail and come to the cool running water of the River. When you get into town, take the street to your right just before the big intersection that leads to Vegas. The restaurant Anitas is fun for good margaritas & chips. Also check out on next to Bashas is the Little Red School house, go in, it's worth it. Arizona Plein Air Painters will be painting the school house and the Preserve for a show in 2009. More on this great western town coming as I will be painting there quite a bit. Don't let the heat keep you from painting, just find shade!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tough Critic

Plein-Air painting has it's advantages, you get to paint outdoors instead of the studio for one. It also has it's challenges, like horses that don't really like your easel. This lovely horse was sure I had a treat and just wasn't sharing, he knocked over my whole easel to get my attention. This green pastured scene is in the tiny town of Cornville Arizona. This property is bordered by Oak Creek. The painting on the easel is now at the Joyous Lake Gallery. Next time I am up there, I am bringing some carrots.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Libby Hart- New Mexico Artist you can help

Libby Hart is an artist I met last summer while painting in New Mexico and Colorado. She lives and paints in a small town in New Mexico. She is dealing with a true struggle, ovarian cancer. Her bills are high and her friends around her are trying to help. This website has several of Libbys paintings and artwork from other artists for sale. All the moneys going to her bills. If you are not in a position to make a purchase please give the info. out to others who might be able to help. Not only will they have a wonderful painting but will have helped out this lovely lady. Check it out and send the info on. It is amazing what can happen when you just get the word out.

It's a dry heat

This oil is an 11"x14" on board done up in the Cornville area in AZ. I am sure the folks who settled that town named it that so that the Valley people in the future would not want to move there. Can't blame them for wanting to keep it a secret, it is so pretty. Oak Creek runs through it so the cottonwood trees are huge, the grass green. What really sets the views off is seeing the purple of Mingus Mountain in the distance. This was done about mid-day. Don't let time of day keep you from painting. There are always shadows and the contrast can be very strong with high over head sunlight. Many artists prefer the morning light. I personally like the late afternoon light here in AZ, everything gets a thin coat of color instead of haze. Problem is, today is 114 degrees, makes afternoon painting not alot of fun. That is when I am stuck in the studio. After so much time painting outdoors, when I do have to refer to photos of an area, I usually am ok. I know the land, the sun, the feel of a place well enough to pull it out of my pictures for a successful painting. Don't let the heat be your excuse. You can even set up with a view out a window, painting indoors with the AC. You can get up really early and get done by 9:00 so you don't stick to the pavement, or watch for the first morning with rain in the forecast. That usually means a spot of rain, and cooler (cooler is relative) breezes. This painting Mid-Day Shade, is available at the Joyous Lake Gallery.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Artist in Residence at The Farm

This coming October -November I will be the Artist in Residence at The Farm at South Mountain. My plan is to spend as much time as I can down there painting on the old farm buildings, the rows of herbs & flowers, and teach some plein-air classes. Here is another painting called The Red Cottage, looking west at the back of the property. Even in the summer there is alot of shade, right now the flowers are everywhere and a bit of weeding needs done. Everyone who works here pitches in to help with cleaning, weeding, what ever is needed. They have alot of exciting plans for The Farm, to keep it an oasis in the urban scene. This summer in June, and in August, the restaurant right next to the Artist Studio, Quinessence , will be open on Friday & Saturday nights. The Cottage will be open at the same time, they carry the work of all the artists that teach and help out here. I'll keep you posted of the Tuesday morning class, and the one day workshops in painting being set up for Oct/Nov. Come down on a hot summer night, have a great meal and check out the artwork. You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Paint Map

Today I just heard about the coolest project, I wish I had thought of it. Getting artists to go out and paint on location is something I am always trying to do. After getting a email newletter from the Bravura Academy I have learned of a whole new way to find wonderful places to paint when you are planning trips, and to see what others have painted. Check out two websites: and
The concept is simple, you log on and post your painting, and exactly where you were when you painted it. This means anywhere in the world! They are using google maps so you can actually see where the paintings were done. How cool is that! While you are at it, sign up for the Bravura Academy newsletter, they have extraordinary teachers in wonderful settings. Start saving now for a trip to Spain. Hey, life is short, and you won't be sorry for any travel you do. This painting was done in Payson, Az and is at the Joyous Lake Gallery this summer.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Cottage at The Farm in Px

Here is just one of the paintings hanging now at the Joyous Lake Gallery in Pinetop, AZ. This piece is an 18x24 oil, this is The Artist Cottage at The Farm in Phoenix. In the spring the oleanders are full of flowers and the green real green. I really like the little road that leads into the back of the property and just had to come up with a painting using that little dirt pathway. To see all the paintings go to the Joyous Lake Gallery or check out the website. The gallery is open on Wed.- Sat.. If you haven't been to Pinetop in a while you'll find lots of good restaurants and little antique stores, and best of all, cool temps.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Estes Park Plein-Air Paintout 2008

The letter came and I made it into the Estes Park Plein-Air Event this August. This was so much fun last year, and such a challenge for me. The subject matter could not be more different, the greens are crazy bright, skys cool blues, everything is vivid. A good reason to apply to shows in places far from home is to get out of your comfort zone, both in climate, people, colors and scenes. You have to really look at the values and colors, not make fast assumptions. You often see painters who painted a scene on a tropical beach with their favorite palette. Not the colors they see but what they are used to using. That is why there are so many terrible desert paintings, often done by artists still using their west coast colors - not really looking at the desert plants but assuming too much about what they think they see. Both the Frank Bette Event and Estes Park will be a stretch. The first couple of days are usually very frustrating, without much success. Lots of scraping. Once that is out of my system, I paint for me. Then it works. Hopefully this year I will only have to scrape off one day, we will see. I plan to post my paintings that are keepers on my website and blog during my trips. I hope that you might learn from what I learned, the good, bad and the ugly. Let's hope for more good! The Paint-out starts on Aug.9th with the Quick Draw & Receptions on Saturday, Aug. 23.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Daniel Ochoa - Total control of values

I am always drawn to paintings with strong contrast, but cleverly used. Not obvious. Here is another painting by Daniel Ochoa. He has values totally under control and not afraid to use them to create the atmosphere he wants. I struggle with that, and I tend to paint high key. This next outing I am going to make myself try a piece with much stronger contrast. If you find you are always painting with in a certain range - that isn't a bad thing - only if that is all you can do. Can you make yourself push the values and still keep good composition, and emotion? This painting sure does. Check out more of Daniels work at I own one of his little pieces and it is wonderful. Get onto his email list and he will send you images of paintings he has just finished, small little works that are jewels. Every time I see his work I feel challenged in what I am doing. That I am playing it too safe, hate to say a bit boring- ugh- time to push it. Do the same. Go paint.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gouache - and sketching

Yes, I do push drawing & sketching alot. That is because we all need to improve our skills. Most of the time I use watercolor, it travels easily, drys fast. But sometimes I use gouache. It is an opaque water based paint that illustrators have used for years. It drys with a mat finish so it photographs well with out glare or shine. While traveling in New Mexico I brought along small tubes of gouache and worked up a few drawings in color in my sketchbook. This kind of paint works best on smoother paper, soft brushes and very little water. It can be a real trick to get used to working with it but the results are worth it. I have used these for Christmas cards, they reproduce real nicely. You can find gouache at any art supply store, Jerrys and Az Art Supply carry it. Just buy red, yellow, blue, white. That's all you really need. Remember, it is an opaque so it will not work like transparent watercolor. Each coat you put down will cover what was below it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Watercolor Journals

For all you ladies that braved the heat to start your venture into watercolor today- thank you. I was so worried that May 10th would be a record high in the 100's, it got warm, but everyone seemed to have fun anyway. I hope you were able to relax, just paint and not worry about how good it was, or any one making a judgment on your work. Hold next Mothers Day as the day you will pull out this first journal and look at your first watercolor. Even if you can only draw in your journal once a week or less, you will still see improvement. Don't hesitate to write me with any problems or just maybe you need a little push to the next level. If I can't answer your questions I will find out who can! Read further down this blog to see more into on other watercolor artists who are great with journals and some cool assignments to try with your paints. Watch my website and this blog for info on next fall at The Farm. I will be the artist in res. there in late October. Plans are in the works for some day long workshops in oils, watercolors and maybe some printmaking. Oil painting lessons will be once a week during that time, set around the beginner, or someone who used to work in oils but it was a very loooooong time ago. You can write me at or My website is Keep your w/c bag with you all the time, the heat in the car won't have any effect on it at all. Everyone has to start somewhere, the best artists all were beginners at one time. Put away your expectations and paint. Stop by Jerry's Art store and check out all the cool watercolors & supplies. Have fun, and just Paint!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Back Porch Painting

One of the many ways an artist can get into a rut is to paint on the same size of canvas all the time. Once in a while you really need to grab up a long rectangle, a square, something that is very out of the norm for you. The decisions about composition are the same but you will not respond with the same old/ same old. You might have to think a bit, come up with something a bit different. So besides making myself work real small then large, I am changing canvas shapes. My back yard is in full bloom right now with giant hollyhocks. The long verticals are fun to work with and they look wonderful against the sky. Sometimes we tend to ignore the ordinary, it is there every day. But look around you at the ordinary and paint it with a fresh look at it. Be a visitor to your own yard, there is probably something good to paint.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Studies & Starts

They are called studies or starts for a reason. Putting aside thoughts of what show are you working on, how will I frame this- all those types of thoughts have you looking the wrong way. Focus on what is in front of you, study and play with the colors. Mix that hollyhock pink till you get it right. Many times I do not go out to complete a painting - but take along cheap small canvas boards that have many coats of paint on them, and just do starts. I know you hear this over and over again, but the layout at the very beginning of your painting determines its success in the end. If you don't get it down right with a design, composition that looks great as is- there is no fixing it later. Sometimes these little starts actually turn out quite nice. Maybe that is because I am not thinking about painting for someone else or with expectations. When doing studies/starts, think first. This is not the time for emotional expression, but doing what you know about good design & composition. Have a different focus, sometimes layout, sometimes edge treatment. This is so valuable, just as doing boring scales when learning the piano. You are training you fingers to respond to what you see, you brain to what you know. After doing several starts, then pull out that BIG canvas and really feel off center. It is good to make your brain work that way, not to work in a rut. Or your work will look like it is in a rut. Then why do it. Try it. Just Paint!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I know this has nothing to do with art, but isn't this just the cutest little creature? His name was Hogbert, a wonderful little pet of an old friend. Hogbert passed away recently and here is his photo. I know I had never seen an actual hedgehog before. Apparently he lived over 6 years. How cute is this?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Plein Air in Hawaii

Looking at artwork done by other artists is always a good learning experience, especially when you are seeing artwork done from life, from people who really know what they are painting. I check out website from groups all over the country, luckily these guys from Hawaii contacted me and that is how I heard about them. When you are planning to travel to paint in an area that you are not at all familiar with it really helps to study artists local to that land, you are not going to paint how they paint. What is shows you is their version of what they know well. Many artist purposely do not do this so not to be influenced by those artists, but I have seen too many artists who travel to Arizona who obviously did not do their homework and it shows in their work. How many paintings have you seen where the cactus are perfectly straight like telephone poles, with only two arms- or the colors are the same palette that would be used in that artists home state- Wisconsin green. I know that the well seasoned artist probably has enough control of himself to paint the colors he sees, that's what makes him a master. But, until that time comes for me, I will continue to study the location I will be painting. Using my watercolor journal has helped me, I mix up the colors of leaves, soil, sky, the colors of the land in front of you. Push out what you are used to automatically putting down on the palette and paint what is there. I truly
hope to never again see a lime green desert painting----- So, check out the websites and the artwork of fellow artists who paint in lands far different from your own. Like Hawaii- If you have a trip coming up there check out any shows that might be going on, or a paint-out you could attend. Contact the group for information. Artist are generally a friendly, sharing bunch, with the few crabby exceptions.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

California Painting-Frank Bette Art Center

Frank Bettes Art Center Plein Air Paint-out in Alameda California

What I great way to start my week. In my InBox on Monday morning was a Congratulations You are invited to participate in the Frank Bette Art Center Paint-out this July. I had applied for it because it really sounded fun. I is in Alameda California, on the bay near San Fran. It has been years since I have been in that part of Calif., it is beautiful. Can't wait to try my hand at the old Victorian homes, marinas filled with boats, and the city streets. A bit nervous too, none of those things are subjects that I paint everyday. It is really out of my element. If you are just stepping out to enter shows that are juried all I can say is go for it. Do your homework, don't apply for a show that the judge is an abstract person if you paint in realism. Here I almost didn't apply and now I will be painting in northern California this summer. Check out the website to learn more about their paint-out. Like the silly ad says, you can't win if you don't play-- you can't go to paint-outs if you never enter. Do it. Write me if you need places to find good show opportunities that might work for you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

WaterColor Journals

Today I am doing a demo on how to pack up a travel watercolor kit & journal. So for my students: Rodrick Smith is a wonderful example of an artist who uses this technique to capture the moment. On his website you will see this pic, click on the Alaskan Journal to watch the pages turn with beautiful watercolor sketches of what he saw and experienced on his trip. Take the time to see the other links with his watercolors, the ones from Catalina Island are especially nice. He is very good about sharing his ideas with others so don't hesitate to contact him. Take your sketch books with you everywhere. Draw what ever is in front of you, add a bit of color. The more you do the more confident you will become. Be free with the color try to catch the values you see. Add a couple new colors to your box after awhile. Try to keep it as simple as you can and learn to mix your own color.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fminus cartoon for my birthday

One cool thing but somewhat dangerous thing about having a comic strip author as your son is you might get a personal comic for your birthday. Here was my gift I saw when I opened up this mornings Tribune- he pokes fun at us artists and how overly serious we take our profession. You can see more of his comics at or just look in your local paper each morning. No he is not sensitive, but FUNNY! Thank you Tony for letting me start my day with a laugh, again.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Summertime means Holllyhocks

We have been so fortunate this year with our spring. Usually we have freezing nights then suddenly in one weekend, it is HOT. Not this year, wonderfully warm days, cool evenings and the best part is the hollyhocks are coming up. This will be the 5th year for these and the flowers started out a deep purple, this generation looks like they are white. Time to put in some fresh seed. Can't wait to paint them though. Myself and 2 other women have a show the "Impressionist Challenge" the first week of June at the Joyous Lake Gallery. I plan to paint in my yard, also a ranch scene, all much larger than I usually work. I can easily drag an easel and large canvas back onto the back porch then back out the next day. Same time, same place. If you are comfortable working in one size, make yourself try much larger or much smaller. It can be a bit uncomfortable but that space is treated no differently. Make yourself get out of the comfort zone, you might discover that you are very good at painting small. This is all because my son Tony has been bugging me to paint BIG, he even bought be a huge canvas that has been a clothes line for the last year. My mentor & friend, Darlene Swaim gave me a huge easel. No excuse now! So I'll let you know how it goes. Big brushes for sure. Thanks Tony & Darlene. You both push me to work in ways I'm not sure I want to go.

Oprah's Big Give in Yuma

I have a dear friend, Mike Shelton, friends since the 70's. He had an afro and I had bell bottoms. He has always had a heart for the less fortunate but rather than say "oh well" , he actually does something about it. Here is his letter, think about participating if you can.
Oprah's Big Give
My submission was selected by ABC5/KECY-TV/Fox 9 for Oprah's Big Give. My project is to raise enough money to fully remodel/repair the kitchen and dining area of Crossroads Mission in Yuma. The Mission's kitchen serves 400 meals a day. In fact, they provide 100,000 meals a year. It needs mold resistent materials, more basic silverware, a convection oven that cooks evenly and consistently, a salad area with 'sneeze guards', tables and chairs, the list goes on.

If Crossroads raises more money or in-kind donations than the other groups in the competition, the Big Give will give another $4000 on top of whatever we make. I want not only to enable the Crossroads Mission kitchen to pass needed inspections, but to go beyond that and really upgrade the kitchen capabilities. The thing is we need to have any gift in no later than Monday, April 14th, 5pm. By winning, Crossroads Mission will also be recognized nationally on Oprah's Big Give program on ABC-TV.

Crossroads Mission is a non-profit organization approaching its 50th anniversary. It addresses the needs of the homeless, the displaced, those broken by dependency on alcohol or drug abuse. Wherever they are from, they come to Crossroads looking to make a new start in life. Crossroads maintains a family shelter and a mens shelter, A drug and alcohol recovery program. A career center and a thrift store. A great deal in the way of clothing, furniture and other necessities are given to the needy thanks to the generosity of the community. The Mission reaches out to the disadvantaged and displaced to help them refocus on their life's goals. Crossroads Mission is there to provide love and support when oftentimes no one else seems to care.

If you are moved to help financially, make out the check to Crossroads Mission, with 'Big Give' in the memo section. A receipt for tax purposes will be provided. Please pass on this message to others you believe would be interested.

Send to: Mike Shelton, 2681 S. Virginia Drive #8, Yuma, AZ 85364

Monday, April 7, 2008

March in Santa Fe

One of the biggest issues I have in outdoor painting is knowing when to stop messing with the piece. To know when to stop and let it be. Overworking a piece is death to the painting. Plein air painting is fresh, confident not full of unneccesary detail. One thing that helps prevent overworking is COLD snow and ice that forms on your legs while standing thigh deep in snow. That really forces you to think, and just put it down. This pieces was quickly completed in a couple of hours (just as I could not feel my toes) at Hyde Park , 10 miles north of Santa Fe in March. The stream was flowing downhill, part of it under the snow, with clear ice forming over the top. Dry grasses poked through the surface and there were alot of little and not so little paw prints on the snow. Once I got just tooo cold, it was time to quit. It works, I was very happy with this, it definitely looks just how I felt. I guess I really am a desert girl.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

the Paper Studio

I have always done crafts of some sort, from the time I was little making my Barbies clothes, paperdolls, and it's not that different now. One fascination I have had is with beautiful papers. Many years ago a dear friend of mine and I had a small greeting card Co., we used handmade papers and anything cool to create our cards. That is when I learned to really enjoy paper as much as fabric. I still enjoy it and work with papers to create my yearly ornaments that I send my friends and clients at Christmas. Just this week I made Awards for the Tucson Plein Air Painter show coming up on Saturday. This morning I got news that the place I get my paper and get so much inspiration from , the Paper Studio in Tempe was burglarized. Their insurance policy does not cover that so they are really hurting. Being a small business owner I know how devastating something like this can be. They are forced now to only be open on Saturdays and they had to let staff go. I know that my husband's business is like a family so we know this is tough. Cindy Iverson and her husband have worked very hard to get their business going with quality product and good customer service. If you have never been to their store in Tempe, then please set aside some time and go by. Shop their online service if possible. Buy a friend a gift certificate, or sign up for a class. The Paper Studio 480-557-5700

We are open to the public on Saturdays 10am to 5pm. We are located at 520 E. Southern Avenue in beautiful Tempe, Arizona. The cross streets are Southern Avenue, one block west of Rural Road at the NWC of Southern and McAllister. If you take the I-60 freeway, exit at Rural road and head about a mile north to Southern Avenue.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Plein Air - Paint from life

I realize that I say this over and over but that is because painting from life changed my painting life. Whether you set up a table with old dishes and odd stuff on your patio, pull up your easel and paint it in the natural lite, or pack up your gear and set up out in nature, you will learn and grow every time you do it. Even my worst days outdoor painting were a learning experience, sometimes all I learned was don't wear perfume, bees like it. I will be teaching two workshops, both on weekend days, both to help you get over the hump and get out to paint. You don't need to have all the trappings like I have here in this photo, even a small sketch pad, colored pencils sitting in a car is a good time. Don't wait for the perfect gear, all the lessons in the world can't replace just making yourself go out and do it. You can check my website for more info and what each class covers, or go to The Farm website and call them to make your reservation. I will send out info soon on classes that will be held out on locations around the Valley, for one/two day workshops this spring/summer. In the mean time, take out that dusty old sketchbook from college, pull out a marker or a pen and start to draw. Even if all you draw is your iced tea glass sitting in front of you, do it.
*Sunday, April 13th 2:00pm to 4:30pm $20.00/$30.00Kit
Watercolor Journals & Sketchbooks

Saturday, April 26th 9:30am-11:00am $20.00

Plein-Air Painting-How to prepare? What do I pack?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tucson Plein Air Painters Show

On Saturday April 5th the Tucson Plein Air Painters will be having their Distinguished Artist Show at the Arizona Desert Sonora Museum in Tucson. If you haven't been down to the Museum you should go. It is 12 miles west (take Speedway west)of Tucson. It is really a desert zoo with animal exhibits and incredible lush desert views and trails. Check their website to see all the events happening there at There is a real nice restaurant there also. The TPAPS artists show is an annual show with paintings from the juried Artist members. There are 30 artists participating with 90 paintings. On Saturday, the 5th starting early in the morning the artists will be painting on the grounds, they will turn in their wet paintings around noon. Those paintings will be shown along with 90 other works already hanging. At 2:00pm the Reception starts where the awards will be announced for 1,2,3rd and a special award given by the director of the Ironwood Gallery. Top prize is $1,000. so it should be fun. The reception will have finger foods, and a wine bar. It is rare to be able to watch this many artist of this level at one location painting. If you would like a free pass for April5th for two, email me your snail mail address and I will get one out to you. There will be an Online Show on site where you can enjoy the paintings. But remember the images are only as good as your monitor, you can't see brush strokes or bits of dirt in the paint. Not that you'll ever see that in my paintings- Actually one artist Bill Hartmann mixes the dirt at the scene in with his paint. The show opens on the 5th and runs till May 18th. Make a day trip out of it, if you come down for a weekend, Old Tucson movie studios are located just a couple of miles from the Museum and that is fun.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Watercolor Journals at The Farm

Some time ago I was introduced to watercolor journals. The class I took made us go and sketch in our little sketchbook down at terminal 4 at the Px airport. It was scary but it sure got me over the jitters about drawing/painting in front of people. It forced me to draw, and to realize that I do have time to improve my drawing. I didn't have to set aside a chunk of my valuable time to do it. I kept my little watercolor book with me all the time, even while waiting for kids to come out of practice, in my car, at the doctors office, just everywhere. Even a few minutes here and there helped me improve, and it made me relax, allowed me even if for just a few minutes to do something for myself. Now I am very fortunate that I can focus my time on my artwork, but through those years of juggling kids, job, house, kids, oh, I said that one, I couldn't use them as an excuse for why I wasn't drawing. On Sat. May 10th down at the Farm I am teaching a watercolor journal class for people who are intimidated, with drawing and painting but want to just give it a try. You will get a bag with tiny travel size watercolor supplies, lunch will come down from the Santa Barbara Catering Co. there on the grounds. We will eat, meet each other, and I will get you started on how to use all the wonderful little goodies in the travel bag. My hope is that you will draw, you will paint, even if it is just a little at a time. Then when a time comes that you can devote more time to your artwork, you will be at a much more controlled level in your ability. Don't let the years go by just waiting till all the stars fall into place, that ain't going to happen. Try it you just might like it. Call the Farm (602-268-5905) to make your reservation, call your mom or a good girl friend and ask her to join you. If you come alone, you will make a new friend during the class.