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dilleenmarshwomanartistrenaissance

In June of 2011 I was diagnosed with cancer. The BIG "C"! The death sentences for the possible kinds of cancer I had ranged from 5 years to 18 months. I mentally started cutting my "bucket list" shorter. After 6 months, 6 doctors, 9 tests and procedures I was told that "there was not one abnormal cell in my body". REBIRTH! Which is also a definition for RENAISSANCE. A Renaissance Woman is one skilled and knowledgeable in many fields. My art life embraces many fields. The acronym for Woman Artist Renaissance is WAR. I say WAR with a bit of a chuckle because I'm not a flaming activist when it comes to some of the issues that beset the art world: women artists getting their due in a man's world, realism versus esoteric art, illustration versus "fine" art, etc. My Woman Artist Renaissance WAR will be waged against my own lethargy, apathy, and retirement. My military strategy is to thwart being too busy, to shy, too tired to engage and share with others my art life. In the blogging process I may be of assistance to some and be assisted in return. I am a designer, illustrator, painter, think tank, story tellers, and mentor artist. YEE HAA!

Latest

The Inner Workings of My Soul

” A writer is dear and necessary for us only in the measure in which he reveals to us the inner working of his soul.” –Leo Tolstoi, Russian author, 1800s. When young, while eating breakfast each morning before getting on the school bus, I always had a couple of favorite books handy for entertainment. Cereal boxes only had so much content and this was in the days before digital stimulus. I actually LIKED studying for spelling tests. Something about words: their meanings, sounds, and placement engaged me. Was I a budding writer? The day an English teacher in high school read my fiction story to the class as a quality example sent a flush of excitement through me and planted itself in my memory. But, I didn’t choose writing, I chose art. The writing, however, tagged along. I have a trunk full of journals, several story starts, and then…quote bookI started writing captions to go along with the sketches I post each day. This book, “The New Dictionary of Thoughts” has been a faithful companion in that process. It was published in 1936 and contains quotes from “thinkers” prior to that date, of course. I find the language usage elegant. It also helps that the topics of quotes are arranged in alphabetical order. Autumn and Avarice are right next to each other, lol. How cool is that! And one can not simply walk into the Mordor of writing without the research assistance of the Internet. What an astonishing age to live in! Posting on Instagram has helped me keep my musings condensed, valuable to whittling the words down to their essence and essential in a world of short attention spans–myself included. The writing has become as important as the sketch. That was unexpected. When I look for a subject to sketch now, there must be a concept to go with it. Keeps me on the edge of my intellectual seat. When the visual and the writing come together there is that same “flush of excitement” I felt in my English high school class so many years ago. A few more recent and favorite postings follow:Cactus Rock WomanDay 506: BEAUTY or BURDEN? No kidding, standing on a low wall I looked down on some rocks and a desert plant in our yard and from that slightly different perspective I saw this head and shoulder adorned. BEAUTY: Move over Marie Antoinette updo, Marilyn Monroe’s glamour waves, and Princess Leia’s side buns! BURDEN: Or perhaps this is a cactus to bear, an opuntia around the neck, stickers on your back, a prickly conscience. Just a little artistic fantasy to badger the point: BEAUTY (or BURDEN) is in the eye (or heart) of the beholder?William and tiny earthlingsDay 520: Traveling the earth tiny Earthlings? I see your excited faces inside that little blimp. Taking a risk to see what’s around the corner? Got toothbrushes and quarters to call home? No, wait! Quarters don’t work anymore. Got your phone chargers? Take lots of pictures! Don’t forget clean underwear and an extra pair of socks! “Rather see the wonders of the world abroad than, living dully sluggardized at home, wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness.”–Shakespeare.Blue pitcher and pearsDay 523: Simple food and drink, simply put, is not simple…now. These essentials of life have brewed and bred a world of complexity and memorable quotes: A Dish Fit For The Gods; All You Can Eat; Chow Down; It Is Meate And Drink To Me (Shakespeare again); Let Them Eat Cake (Marie did NOT say this); and the growing harvest of study indicating that YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. (Unless, of course, something is EATING YOU. Think GRABOIDS, “This valley is just one long smorgasbord!” And DINOSAURS, “Let’s get this moveable feast under way!” I digress.) Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may have to count your calories, measure cups of vegetables, ounces of water, and be sugar free.2016-04-01 23.31.00Day 593: Oh, the CRAZY things you could find on the Internet today!!! The U.S. Army has NOT discovered how to teleport people. The National Air and Space Museum has NOT begun breeding tribbles. Archaeologists at Vanderbilt University have NOT discovered the skeleton of a 39 foot tall squirrel. The British Milk Council is NOT selling unicorn milk. Sony has NOT developed a slime resistant proton pack. Verizon is NOT connecting your eyeballs directly into your social media accounts. There are NO pizza scented candles, No T-rex line of T-shirts, and No 3D-printed clam chowder. Dang! Happy April Fool’s Day anyway, lol.

563 DAYS LATER!

On August 18, 2014 our daughter started a two year graduate program at the University of Houston. Texas is a long way from home. I would miss her. “Mmm,” I thought, “while she is away intensively studying, I will advance my art education by taking on some intensive projects myself.” One was to sketch every day. I bought some 6 x 8 inch sketch books and made up some rules to follow. In essence, my own Masters Program. I would sketch ONLY in black ink, ONLY from life, and this effort would ONLY take 30 minutes a day. Bravely I went to the local school bus stop on that August day and commenced drawing. I had talked to two other artists about posting my sketches on Instagram and Facebook each day as a structure to get me to follow through. I posted a blog about this project on October 26, 2014, when I was at sketch #70. I was amazed THEN, that I had followed through for that long. Tonight I will be sketching #564! I am still amazed and the rules I made up have changed.

This is the first (upright) and one of the latest (laying down and with color) sketches.

This is the first (upright) and one of the latest (laying down and with color) sketches. I still sketch from life sometimes, but, also allow myself to use photos now. One day I was sketching in triple digit summer heat. After about a half hour, sweaty hand sticking to the paper and attention distracted by my discomfort, I took a photo to finish the piece from and went home to my studio. That rule change gave me the freedom to go back through all the photos I have taken over the years, with the intention of using them for paintings, and revisit scenes and objects that artistically attracted me but got pushed aside.

I still use black ink

I still use black ink to sketch with. Pigma Micron pens, usually 01, 03, 05, and a black fine tip brush for broad areas of black. I enjoy drawing with ink, but I also chose ink because it is a “declarative” medium. You can’t erase it. I will become a BOLDER artist for using it, lol.

I started using COLOR!

I started using COLOR! First to clarify or emphasize something in the sketch. THEN, it became an essential component. I have quite a stash of Prismacolor pencils from earlier art projects. They are my old friends, blending easily into each other. Aside from enhancing the drawing, some of these sketches are becoming preliminary color studies for paintings.

Mistakes are just a change in design.

Mistakes can be just a change in design, especially if you have a small pointy brush and a bottle of white opaque paint. Helpful when adding snowfall, wispy hairs, highlights, and obliterating errant pen strokes. These drawings are small, fitting within a 6 x 8 inch area and are usually around 4 x 5 inches. Even though they are small, the 30 minute time limit fell by the wayside a long while ago. My sketches take anywhere from 2 to 4 or more hours a day.

Stories just “bustin'” to get out!

THERE comes a time when something you have been thinking about for a long time demands attention. Actually, there are a lot of those “thoughts” that pile up. Which one gets to the top of the pile?!Storyboard sketches for Nightmare tissues of Delaney BluThis one did, this week. I have been storyboarding, writing, rewriting, restoryboarding, and on and on, a story about a gal and her ma. They live on a ranch, managing a herd of monsters to keep them “out of folks’ dreams as nightmares”. So, there are always chores to wake up to. The important sub-plot is the mother/daughter relationship. It is a fun puzzle to begin sketching page layouts and design: where to put the type, how to dance around the center spine of the book, how to tell the story on each spread…

THEN the work of “given circumstance” (that’s what they call it in theatre) begins. “Given Circumstances is a principle from Russian theatre practitioner Stanislavski for actor training: what are the conditions of the character’s world, history of the character’s environment, and elements from the character’s personal situation, like, who the heck is Hamlet?!!!

I SPENT some time with the gal character: Delaney Blu. Is she sassy, brassy, big eyed, oozing with certitude and cuteness? Mmmm, perhaps a little quieter confidence, figurin’ things out, obedient not rebellious (there ARE those, lol), still gets into “scrapes”, is a “getter done” kind of gal and yes, cute.

Painting with children?! Are you kidding?!!!

Yes!!! And it is reinvigorating to the creative process. I noticed my neighborhood filling up with children as new families moved in. Conveniently, a yellow bus stops at the corner of our property each morning of the school week. After my initial excitement that there would be more trick or treaters for Halloween (one of my favorite creative holidays), I contemplated inviting the children on our block over to paint. Could be daunting…but these three possibilities came to mind: 1. Spreading goodwill in the neighborhood. (Well, that certainly could make a difference in the world.) 2. Paying it forward. (Sharing what I know about art. I have spent a few years learning about it, lol.) 3. Assisting a budding artist to find their way. (So many teachers, mentors, associates, artists, friends…have contributed to my art journey.) Let the fun begin:

I invited 16 children over to paint two days before Halloween.

I invited 16 children over to paint two days before Halloween. 12 came. The youngest was four. The oldest was 11. Set up three tables with a painting spot for each child: masking taped down 8 x 9 inch pieces of nice watercolor paper, cup of water, brush, paper towel, and a small paper plate with a wet paper towel folded on it for the palette. Put a small dollop of primary, secondary, and white color acrylic paints on each palette. Black is very popular. No brown. They have to mix that one…

Yes, exploring the medium and tools of the trade. The brush survived.

Yes, exploring the medium and tools of the trade. The brush survived…barely. Amazingly felt peaceful when one of the water cups hit the floor. Cement floors, yay!

Haley's monster face w/o frame

Painting a monster face was a suggestion. The children could paint whatever they wanted to. Requested that they fill in color all the way to the edges of the tape…getting rid of all white paper. Hayley’s (age 11) monster face.

Hayley's art w frame

What is it about a frame that puts the finishing touches on a piece of art?! The children left their paintings with me overnight for a good thorough drying. The watercolor paper smoothed back to flat. Slowly and carefully removing the tape leaves a white border.

Ian art w/o frame

Ian is also 11. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I could see huddled figures and a wild sky. Some of the pieces look better with ragged edges, of course. But the next day when I met the children at the bus stop with their nicely bordered art pieces their expressions of oohs and aahs washed over me with such a feeling of well-being that I will probably keep inviting them over, lol.

Ian's art w frame

Ian’s piece with a white border. The next step in this creative process will be playing with words and giving their pieces a title.

Kyle's art w/o frame. The budding young artist

Kyle is 6. He spent more time and focus on his piece than any of the other children. I was intrigued when he made statements like, “I wanna see what mixing these two colors together makes.” Again and again he painted and repainted his piece until he got just what he wanted. Mmmm…I thought, is he a “budding artist” I can mentor?

Kyle's art w frame

Gotta take better photos! Kyle’s piece was terrific with a clean border. The colors were intense. There is a purposeful mind at work here.

Thanksgiving kids

Invited the children back during the week of Thanksgiving. They now have the drill down. I spent an hour setting up. They painted for about 15 minutes. Clean up took about an hour. Reminded me of Thanksgiving Dinner: you spend hours cooking a meal that is consumed, on average, in about 15 minutes.

Jonathan's art w/o frame

Jonathan is 6. He also has an energetic and colorful approach to painting. Good thing he gets it down quick because he can’t sit still for very long, lol. His rendition of a turkey. I like the blue texture strokes in the background.

Jonathan's w frame

All cleaned up and ready for display on his mom’s refrigerator door!!!

A Simple and Inexpensive Art Project for Children: Mask Making

“Your face is a book, where men may read strange matters.” – Shakespeare. I think he was on to something!  Much about the artist is always revealed through the art they make. So it was with the children and the masks they made. In September of this year I taught two classes of fifth graders how to make a simple mask.  In 45 minutes it was easy to see a connection between their personalities and their created mask-faces…even though they were all strangers to me.

Materials used: 1. Brightly colored and black cardstock. 2. Glue sticks, scissors, staplers, and colored pencils.

Materials used: 1. Brightly colored and black cardstock. 2. Glue sticks, scissors, staplers, and colored pencils. Instructions: 1. Choose a vertical (hot dog) or horizontal (hamburger) mask face. 2. Close your eyes. Put your hands on the sides of your face and slide forward to your nose. Notice that your face is not flat. 3. Fold your cardstock in half to begin adding a sculptural 3-D effect to your mask. 4. With your cardstock folded in half, tear or cut through the two layers from a corner near the fold,  diagonally to its opposite corner. You have now created the jawline shape of your mask. 5. Where do you want your eyes? Mark with pencil. Poke a hole in the cardstock with the tip of a pair of scissors. (Beware of poking too hard and jabbing your fingers.) The hole you poked is for your scissors to have a place to start cutting from. Cut fabulous eye-shape holes!

Now the final touches! 6.

Now the final touches! 6. Use your scraps of left over cardstock or trade with your fellow student to get a mix of colors and shapes. Bend, curl, fold, crumple, tear, or cut (paper is such marvelous stuff) these scraps and attach to your mask with the glue sticks (if the pieces are small) or stapler (if the pieces are bigger). Always try to get the paper scraps to stick out from the mask. This contributes to a 3-D, sculptural effect. Much more interesting than just flat. 7. Decorate with fancy colored pencil lines, squiggles, shading, cross-hatching, dots, and dashes.

Now go look at yourself in the mirror!

Now go look at yourself in the mirror! When you take these home, don’t put them on the refrigerator door…push pin them on a bulletin board or wall space somewhere. The key to keeping them 3-D is to fold slightly so your mask sticks out from the wall and then push pin it in place. Do not pin it flat to the wall. When your art is 3-D it will cast interesting shadows. You can always put more decoration on your mask. Think of all the possibilities in your mom’s or grandma’s craft drawer!

Eat a live frog first thing in the morning…

1. Impressionist/Realistic Painting. Started this portrait with free-hand drawing from a photo. Two days in I used a method I had seen a great portrait painter use: traced the photo onto tracing paper, enlarged to the same size as my painting, traced enlarged tracing onto a clear plastic overlay, gently laid it over the painting to check major inaccuracies. I was thrilled to discover that aside from raising the shoulder and sliding the top of the ear to the right a bit...I had been amazingly accurate with my eye/hand co-ordination. The face's profile was an exact match! It's got to be the practice of drawing every day from life!!! Yay!

1. Impressionist/Realistic Painting: Started this portrait with free-hand drawing with a brush from a photo. Two days in I used a method I had seen a great portrait painter use: traced the photo onto tracing paper, enlarged to the same size as my painting, transferred enlarged tracing onto a clear plastic overlay, gently laid it over the painting to check major inaccuracies. I was thrilled to discover that aside from raising the shoulder and sliding the top of the ear to the right a bit…I had been amazingly accurate with my eye/hand co-ordination. The face’s profile was an exact match! It’s got to be the practice of drawing every day from life!!! Yay!

2. Social Media: Today I will be drawing-from-life my 70th sketch in a row. I am amazed, myself, that I have been that consistent. Sometimes the drawing gets done by the stroke of midnight, but it gets done. I have posted each day's drawing on Instagram and also shared it with my Facebook timeline. Was told about a #inktober project artists were posting to and joined in. Since I was already doing my sketches in ink I fit right in and have met some new artist friends. Finding thematic and interesting things to draw every day has become a game that requires some thinking. My dear husband has gotten into the swing of things...doesn't object to my disappearing into the studio or out into the wilderness for a while to draw, and even will remind me on occasion: "Have you done your sketch for the day?"

2. Social Media: Today I will be drawing-from-life my 70th sketch in a row. I am amazed that I have been that consistent. Sometimes the drawing gets done by the stroke of midnight, but it gets done. I have posted each day’s drawing on Instagram and also shared it with my Facebook timeline. Was told about a #inktober project artists were posting to and joined in. Since I was already doing my sketches in ink I fit right in and have met some new artist friends. Finding thematic and interesting things to draw every day has become a game that requires some thinking. My dear husband has gotten into the swing of things…doesn’t object to my disappearing into the studio or out into the wilderness for a while to draw and even will remind me on occasion: “Have you done your sketch for the day?”

3. Concept Painting: Have decided to begin painting characters in the stories I am writing. These paintings fit in the concept/stylized compartment of my art life. I am looking at self-publishing some of my stories. Therefore, art needs to be produced! I love these little characters and it is delightful to explore what they will look like and how they will act in visual as well as words. This is a fairy-princess named Siz.

3. Concept Painting: Have decided to begin painting characters in the stories I am writing. These paintings fit in the concept/stylized compartment of my art life. I am looking at self-publishing some of my stories. Therefore, art needs to be produced! I love these little characters and it is delightful to explore what they will look like and how they will act in visualization as well as in words. This is a fairy-princess named Siz.

4. Story: It is amazing what you can accomplish, a little bit at a time. This past week, because I am eating that "live frog" first thing, I have made some real progress on two stories: "A Little Sad Love Story" and "Nightmare Roundup". At this rate I may actually join the ranks of writers, storytellers, children's books aficionados in my lifetime!

4. Story: It is amazing what you can accomplish, a little bit at a time. This past week, because I am eating that “live frog” first thing, I have made some real progress on two stories: “A Little Sad Love Story” and “Nightmare Roundup”. At this rate I may actually join the ranks of writers, storytellers, and children’s books aficionados within my lifetime!

What!!? “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” My favorite “bard”, Mark Twain said those words. Why would doing art that I choose to do be like eating a live frog (YEEESH!)? It’s the: getting into the studio, focusing, figuring out the next move, avoiding distractions by starting earlier, etc. that falls into the category of eating a live frog. (Again, YEEESH!) On a Sunday night I declared that I would get up at 7am the next morning, do morning rituals, and be at the work of art by 8am. Sabotaged myself by staying up really late and fell asleep without setting an alarm. At 6:59am Monday morning I spontaneously woke up. Had one minute to decide whether or not to eat that frog. Ate it! Was at work by 8:07am. The preceeding or following is what happened this last week.

After The Art Show…Now What?!

It has been almost four months since I last posted. After the WE THREE art show I went back to my studio to clean up and figure out: where do I want to go in the “vortex of art” from here? Threw out a bunch of old and unfinished paintings. That was actually a breath of fresh air. As the panels hit the bottom of the garbage can they took with them the puritan need to “get back to them”, work hard to “fix” them, or continue messing with boring designs hoping for a miracle to occur. I jumped right into some illustration work…must pay bills…and started a “lost cause” painting. Seemed to have lost my traction. So, I needed another deadline, this time self-imposed, as well as a “plan”. Hence, Laser Mode Masters was born! On August 18, 2014, our daughter, Katie, started Theater graduate school at the University of Houston, Texas. Roxane Pfister (of WE THREE fame) and I chose to start our own “masters” program at the same time. A master’s program is a structure and curriculum of intensive study to prepare you for the professional world. We created our own. Laser Mode is a name meant to illicit “focus”. Hence, we are working on our Laser Mode Masters. For my part, I have broken my self-generated curriculum into five categories: Story, Illustration, Social Media, Impressionist/Realism Painting, and Concept painting. Here are some of the things I’ve done:

Began reading some Writer's Digest magazine articles and  to understand premise, outline, protagonist. Have a notebook that I assembled all my story ideas into. Began plumbing the depths of one of the stories about "sadding". Stay tuned for what that jargon means.

1. STORY: Began reading some Writer’s Digest magazine articles and to understand premise, outline, protagonist. Have a notebook that I assembled all my story ideas into. Began plumbing the depths of one of the stories about “sadding”. Stay tuned for what that jargon means.

2. Illustration: This is a painting for commission/illustration for an LDS church magazine article about marriage in the temple. I used to use prismacolor pencils and pastels for my illustration work. Nowadays I am requested to oil paint my illustrations. I like the change. More practice with oil. Pays the bills.

2. Illustration: This is a painting for commission/illustration for an LDS church magazine article about marriage in the temple. I used to use prismacolor pencils and pastels for my illustration work. Nowadays I am requested to oil paint my illustrations. I like the change. More practice with oil. Pays the bills.

3. Social Media: Every day of two years of Laser Mode Masters I post a pen and ink drawing from life on Instagram (and then connect into Facebook). That's 730 sketches practicing eye/hand co-ordination, converting 3D into 2D, recognizing shapes, negative spaces, seeing gesture, etc. Essential practice for an artist. I am up to Day 55. I may have established an essential art habit!

3. Social Media: Every day of two years of Laser Mode Masters I post a pen and ink drawing from life on Instagram (and then connect into Facebook). That’s 730 sketches practicing eye/hand co-ordination, converting 3D into 2D, recognizing shapes, negative spaces, seeing gesture, etc. Essential practice for an artist. I am up to Day 55. I may have already established an important art habit!

4. Impressionist/Realistic Painting: Back in the delicious game of paint application. Working on keeping some edges and losing others, thick or thin paint, and always thinking about the overall design.

4. Impressionist/Realistic Painting: Back in the delicious game of paint application. Working on keeping some edges and losing others, thick or thin paint, and always thinking about the overall design.

5. Concept Painting: From my binder of assembled doodles, scribbles, and jottings, I am painting the ideas that float through the air around me and land in my head. These paintings are usually more stylized. I DO enjoy painting both impressionistic AND stylized. I am fully-self-expressing in both realms, lol!

5. Concept Painting: From my binder of assembled doodles, scribbles, and jottings, I am painting the ideas that float through the air around me and land in my head. These paintings are usually more stylized. I DO enjoy painting both impressionistic AND stylized. I am fully-self-expressing in both realms, lol!

WE THREE had a great time…

June 13, 2014 WE THREE opening reception

On the evening of June 13, 2014, WE THREE: (left to right) Barbara Edwards, Roxane Pfister, and me, Dilleen Marsh, did have a great time. (We are all wearing jazzy patterned scarves, a gift from Roxane that she picked up on a visit to Greece earlier.) It was the opening reception of an exhibit of our work. Friends, family, even our high school art teacher, Bob Whitney, as well as two of our college art teachers, Glen Edwards and Marion Hyde, came to pay their respects…or just to see if their art instruction had made a difference, lol. It did. So did all the practice we three “girls” have put in over the decades since public school. What an honor to show my paintings along with two dear friends in a bona fide art gallery! Even with the common neighborhood roots and art instruction we have shared, our painting styles are unique from each other. Consider that the soul of the artist does, indeed, show up over time. After an evening of chatter, sharing stories behind paintings, deluge of the children on the refreshment table, posing for photos, and catching up with old acquaintances, we tallied the financial side of this art business. Nothing had sold. Weeks later Barbara sold one of her 6×8 inch still-lifes from the show. Most of Roxane’s paintings were NFS (not for sale) because she is determined to put together a collection of strong pieces to pursue a broader representation. I had completed a painting for the show titled, “Wistful”, (shown below) that was seen by two magazine designers, garnering me two illustration jobs in the months that followed. I also felt that with all the painting, running up to the deadline for the show, that I climbed a plateau in my abilities as an artist. Sometimes there is nothing like a deadline to make you produce. And there is certainly value in the hours spent practicing those brush strokes!

Wistful print

WE THREE and art magic…

Barbara Summers Edwards, artist, in her Smithfield, Utah studio.

Barbara Summers Edwards, artist, in her Smithfield, Utah studio.

Roxane Mitchell Pfister, artist, in her Logan, Utah studio.

Roxane Mitchell Pfister, artist, in her Logan, Utah studio.

Dilleen Humphries Marsh, artist, in her Hurricane, Utah studio.

Dilleen Humphries Marsh, artist, in her Hurricane, Utah studio.

In May of this year a Canadian artist by the name of Robert Genn passed away from cancer. For decades he produced an art newsletter that could be freely accessed on the internet. He blessed the lives of thousands of artists with gathered and personally experienced…wisdom. This quote from him particularly spoke to my heart: “We live our short spans in the vortex of a miracle, and while we may not be the center of that vortex, it is magic to be anywhere in there.” From those first drawings in 8th grade to our three woman show in a gallery, WE THREE have been in the vortex of art. The center of that vortex has been friendship. And it is magic…

We Three update May 29 (to see the poster for our show).

WE THREE 3 woman show will run from June 13 to July 5, 2014 at Logan Fine Art Gallery, 100 North 60 West, Logan, Utah. Opening reception is June 13, 2014 from 6 to 9pm.

WE THREE and Maynard Dixon…

Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) was a 20th century American artist whose work focused on the American West. WE THREE are fans and one day while we were “retreating” in southern Utah we saw a brochure advertising a tour of Dixon’s home and studio in Mt. Carmel. Goodness! It wasn’t that far away. So we zipped on over. Found out that a knowledgeable and generous couple, Susan and Paul Bingham, had established a mecca in the desert for us Dixonites. http://www.thunderbirdfoundation.com/ In 1938 Dixon had written to a friend: “Big news is we are going to quit Calif. & build us a log house in Utah, far from any large town. Mormons are simple honest farming people. We like them. Beautiful country, but cold in winter. Don’t know if we can make a living there, but take a gamblers chance.” For one week, each year, for the next six years, WE THREE retreated to his “log house” and under the influence of Dixon’s artistic spirit, we practiced the art of painting.

Our first Dixon Retreat was in May 2008. It was COLD!!! We were getting our "retreat" sea legs that first year and made some "field notes" for future reference: bring a blender for our morning shakes, don't forget the bug spray and sunscreen, warm AND cool clothes, more wet paintings storage, ODORLESS paint thinner (we had a spill of smelly turp in the car), be up at 6:30a (hard for Barb and me, no prob for Rox) , and someday paint a night painting. Fabulous southwest scenery, HIGH quality art in the Bingham Gallery, plenty of rock cliffs for me and Rox and plenty of horses for Barb. This view, above, is across the street from the Bingham Gallery.

Our first Dixon Retreat was in May 2008. It was COLD!!! We were getting our “retreat” sea legs that first year and made some “field notes” for future reference: bring a blender for our morning shakes, don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen, warm AND cool clothes, more wet paintings storage, ODORLESS paint thinner (we had a spill of smelly turp in the car), be up at 6:30a (hard for Barb and me, no prob for Rox) , and someday paint a night painting. Fabulous southwest scenery, HIGH quality art in the Bingham Gallery, plenty of rock cliffs for me and Rox and plenty of horses for Barb. This view, above, is across the street from the Bingham Gallery.

Dixon Retreat #2, May 2009. Now it is WAY warm! Location, location, location...the Dixon site was only 45 minutes from Zion National Park. At one time we had a goal to stop and paint at every car "turn out" on the road through the park. We hit quite a few. This is Barb and Rox painting in a wash, waiting for a flash flood to cool us off...lol.

Dixon Retreat #2, May 2009. Now it is WAY warm! Location, location, location…the Dixon site was only 45 minutes from Zion National Park. At one time we had a goal to stop and paint at every car “turn out” on the road through the park. We hit quite a few. This is Barb and Rox painting in a wash, waiting for a flash flood to cool us off…lol.

Dixon Retreat #3, also in May, 2010. We explored surrounding areas a little more stopping at Pipe Springs National Monument ranch, photographing people in western costume in Kanab, painted at the spooky "mystery pond" (Google Montezuma's treasure in Kanab), and saw the full moon rise over the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Every shared experience is still a unique and individual experience. In the photo above, Rox and Barb are standing by the old TV film set for Gunsmoke (series ran 1955 to 1975). We got permission to climb over the fence, carry our supplies a short trek, take photos, and set up to paint in the atmosphere of this (fake) old western town. Light good, temp not too bad...but the wind was unpredictable and kept blasting us. For Barb it was one of her worst "retreat" days. She just about gave up the sport of "plein aire". For me it was one of my best "retreat" days. I love ghost towns and old wood, memories of my father's dedication to Gunsmoke, and loved the sound of the wind in the trees.

Dixon Retreat #3, also in May, 2010. We explored surrounding areas a little more stopping at Pipe Springs National Monument ranch, photographing people in western costume in Kanab, painted at the spooky “mystery pond” (Google Montezuma’s treasure in Kanab), and saw the full moon rise over the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Every shared experience is still a unique and individual experience. In the photo above, Rox and Barb are standing by the old TV film set for Gunsmoke (series ran 1955 to 1975). We got permission to climb over the fence, carry our supplies a short trek, take photos, and set up to paint in the atmosphere of this (fake) old western town. Light good, temp not too bad…but the wind was unpredictable and kept blasting us. For Barb it was one of her worst “retreat” days. She just about gave up the sport of “plein aire”. For me it was one of my best “retreat” days. I love ghost towns and old wood, memories of my father’s dedication to Gunsmoke, and loved the sound of the wind in the trees.

Dixon Retreat #4. We thought we'd try the end of June into July for some warmer weather. Way hot!!! Except in the morning and late evening. WE THREE got smarter. Barb stayed in the Dixon studio to paint and I got up early with Rox to go out plein aire painting. We joined Barb in the studio for midday. Then we went out again at dusk. One morning Rox and I set up in Barracks Canyon by the side of a dirt road under a tree for shade. Could not understand why a herd of cows began to gather around us. Art critics? They continued to gather, bunching in so close that we had to "shoo" them away from upsetting our paints. We finally noticed that there was hay strewn around our feet. We had set up in their feeding spot. They thought we were there to feed them. Rox (above) and I got lots of "cow" photos that day, I can tell you.

Dixon Retreat #4. We thought we’d try the end of June into July for some warmer weather. Way hot!!! Except in the morning and late evening. WE THREE got smarter. Barb stayed in the Dixon studio to paint and I got up early with Rox to go out plein aire painting. We joined Barb in the studio for midday. Then we went out again at dusk. One morning Rox and I set up in Barracks Canyon by the side of a dirt road under a tree for shade. Could not understand why a herd of cows began to gather around us. Art critics? They continued to gather, bunching in so close that we had to “shoo” them away from upsetting our paints. We finally noticed that there was hay strewn around our feet. We had set up in their feeding spot. They thought we were there to feed them. Rox (above) and I got lots of “cow” photos that day, I can tell you.

Dixon Retreat #5. The first part of June 2012 was perfect weather. WE THREE are standing outside of the Maynard Dixon home that we stayed in each time we came on "retreat". Continued our "smarter" regimen of Barb, a studio painter, painting in the studio, while Rox and I got up early and at dusk to paint outside. We gathered to work at midday and then at night we watched DVDs on Rox's laptop while discussing great themes and solving the world's problems...as well as sharing the adventures of growing children and the maladies of getting older.

Dixon Retreat #5. The first part of June 2012 was perfect weather. WE THREE are standing outside of the Maynard Dixon home that we stayed in each time we came on “retreat”. Continued our “smarter” regimen of Barb, a studio painter, painting in the studio, while Rox and I got up early and at dusk to paint outside. We gathered to work at midday and then at night we watched DVDs on Rox’s laptop while discussing great themes and solving the world’s problems…as well as sharing the adventures of growing children and the maladies of getting older.

Dixon Retreat #6. The last week of June in 2013 was part nice temp and part hot temp. Fluctuations in conditions just go with the artistic life. The serenity and support of being with friends while working on the passion that has "dogged" us all of our artistic lives can never be over valued. This photo is of Barb and Rox working in the studio. We thought Maynard worked here, but found out he preferred to work outside under a tree in front of a shed by his house. Finally, that night, I set up to do a "night" painting and painted where Dixon painted. My compatriots had gone to bed so I was alone. Night creaks and rustlings, I will have to admit, made me a little nervous. Interestingly, I found comfort in the sound of trucks driving the nearby highway, both of us working into the night.

Dixon Retreat #6. The last week of June in 2013 was part nice temp and part hot temp. Fluctuations in conditions just go with the artistic life. The serenity and support of being with friends while working on the passion that has “dogged” us all of our artistic lives can never be over valued. This photo is of Barb and Rox working in the studio. We thought Maynard worked here, but found out he preferred to work outside under a tree in front of a shed by his house. Finally, that night, I set up to do a “night” painting and painted where Dixon painted. My compatriots had gone to bed so I was alone. Night creaks and rustlings, I will have to admit, made me a little nervous. Interestingly, I found comfort in the sound of trucks driving the nearby highway, both of us working into the night.