“Your eyes can deceive you; don’t trust them,” said Obi-wan, as he instructed the young Luke Skywalker how to feel the force while having his eyes blindfolded (back in the day of the first Star Wars movie). The other day while instructing a nine-year-old about different mediums in art, I decided to follow Obi-wan’s counsel and start ‘blind’. The project was delightful and instructive, so I wanted to share with all of you the simple instructions:
1. Tape to the table a sheet of good quality paper (like watercolor or heavy drawing paper, I used 9×12 inch).
2. Blindfold the artist.
3. Start with pencil. The blindfolded artist slowly draws a simple scribble on the taped down paper, trying to envision, in the dark, the lines he/she is drawing.
4. Take off the blindfold to continue (and be surprised by what you thought you drew and what you actually drew).
5. Using a variety of mediums (there is watercolor, ink, pencil, and colored pencil in the art above) fill in each enclosed shape in your scribble.
6. Add patterns and/or shade each shape to look 3-D.
7. Look at your entire ‘scribble’. Is it starting to look like something? You may have to turn your paper upsidedown and sideways to see something. Add some lines as needed to push your creation to “be” something: animal, monster, person, machine, etc.
8. Fill in every little and big shape.
9. Then practice your poetry and prose skills and give it a name. The name of my ‘blind scribble’ creation above is: “Man Taking His Pet Pig Bird for a Rousing Run”.
January 22, 2018 | Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment
” 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…I 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:Day 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?Day 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.Day 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.Day 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.
April 2, 2016 | Categories: Art Adventures | Tags: art, art adventure, art and writing, art project, being a writer, concept, creativity, daily posting, daily sketches, design, illustration, words, writing | Leave a comment
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. 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 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! 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 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.
March 4, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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?! This 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.
April 11, 2015 | Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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. 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…barely. Amazingly felt peaceful when one of the water cups hit the floor. Cement floors, yay!
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.
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 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 piece with a white border. The next step in this creative process will be playing with words and giving their pieces a title.
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?
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.
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 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.
All cleaned up and ready for display on his mom’s refrigerator door!!!
December 3, 2014 | Categories: Art Adventures, Children's Art Projects | Tags: acrylic paints, art, art adventure, art project, children art projects, framing art, mixing colors, painting with children, watercolor paper, white borders | Leave a comment
“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. 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. 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! 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!
December 3, 2014 | Categories: Children's Art Projects | Tags: 3-D paper masks, art, art project, cardstock, children art projects, color, creativity, faces, glue, mask making, masks, paper, simple art project, tearing paper | Leave a comment
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 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 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, 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.
October 26, 2014 | Categories: Art Adventures | Tags: A Little Sad Love Story, art, art adventure, art life, art project, author/illustrator, concept painting, creativity, design, Dilleen Marsh, eating a live frog, Facebook Timeline, fairy-princess, getting into the studio, impressionist/realistic painting, Inktober, Instagram, Laser Mode Masters, Mark Twain, Nicki, Nightmare Roundup, oil painting, painting, pen and ink, posting art every day, preliminary drawings, self-publishing, Siz, social media, studio, telling a story | Leave a comment
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:
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.
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.
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!
October 12, 2014 | Categories: Art Adventures | Tags: art, art adventures, concept painting, illustration, impressionist/realistic painting, Laser Mode Masters, self-imposed deadlines, social media, writing stories | Leave a comment
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!
October 12, 2014 | Categories: Art Adventures | Tags: 3 woman art show, art, art adventure, art friends, art life, art show, art show preparations, art show results, art teachers, Barbara Edwards, Bob Whitney, Glen Edwards, Marion Hyde, Roxane Pfister, scarves from Greece, soul of the artist | Leave a comment
Barbara Summers Edwards, artist, in her Smithfield, Utah studio.
Roxane Mitchell Pfister, artist, in her Logan, 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.
June 9, 2014 | Categories: Art Adventures | Tags: 3 woman art show, art, art adventure, art friends, art retreats, art show, Barbara Edwards, Dilleen Marsh, Logan Fine Art Gallery, magic, oil painting, painting, Robert Genn, Roxane Pfister, studio, studio painting, vortex, women artists | Leave a comment
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.
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 #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 #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.
June 4, 2014 | Categories: Art Adventures | Tags: art, art adventure, art friends, art retreats, Barbara Edwards, Bingham Gallery, field study notes, ghost town, Gunsmoke set, Kanab, landscape, Maynard Dixon, night painting, oil painting, painting, plein air, Roxane Pfister, studio painting, Susan and Paul Bingham, Thunderbird Foundation, wind, Zion National Park | Leave a comment
What influences what we become? Who do we travel with? How are we affected by what we see and experience? It is insightful for me, having arrived at my 60th decade, to have plenty of history behind me to look back on.
WE THREE started “retreating” south. In March of 1996 we drove to Moab, Utah. Thoughts of painting outdoors evaporated, however, at our first painting stop. It was really cold, foggy, windy…and then began to snow. Silly us, we thought going south in March would give us a jump on the painting season. I ended up painting a still life by lamp light in our hotel that night.
Not to be daunted, we tried it again the very next year in the same month, March. It was 1997 and this time the weather behaved. What is an “art retreat” without some exploring? We saw the sign for Delicate Arch and took a hike. Wondered why the crowd dispersed early around us and then realized that we had stayed too long at the arch and would have to hike back…in the dark. We are not seasoned mountaineers and I don’t remember if we even had a flashlight with us, but this walk back became one of my cherished memories. The moon was full that night, the temperature perfect, and the comet Hale-Bopp could be easily seen with its distinct streaming “tail” with our natural eyes. Walking along in the moonlight conversing with friends…powerful poetry.
In 2002 Rox and I drove to Jackson Hole to witness Barb being honored with multiple awards at the Arts For The Parks competition that year. Barb was painting and getting in galleries, Rox was teaching math and statistics at a university while taking art workshops, and I was making a living as a magazine and children’s book illustrator. Divergent roads.
In 2005 WE THREE traveled south again. Thinking we were being adventurous, we stayed a night in Mesquite, Nevada. After scoping out the casinos for something to paint…they don’t even have chairs you can sit in to sketch the patrons from, we turned in for the night. Our room was on the ground floor and we didn’t sleep, what with the all night drunken shouting and swearing and flashing police lights through our window! The next day we packed up and fled to St. George, a much calmer place conducive to painting. We set up in Snow Canyon and I began to really see the beauty of the desert cactus.
WE THREE have a fondness for the artist, Maynard Dixon. On an excursion to the MOA (Museum Of Art) on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, later that 2005 year, we paused at his “Forgotten Man” painting. Little did we know that Mr. Dixon would have a significant influence on our “retreating”. Saga to be continued…
Now 16 days away from our “WE THREE”, three woman art show reception on June 13 in Logan, Utah, my “looking back on” continues…
May 29, 2014 | Categories: Art Adventures | Tags: art, art adventure, art friends, art retreats, Arts for the Parks, Barbara Edwards, cactus, Delicate Arch, going south, Hale-Bopp comet, hiking in full moon, landscape, Logan Fine Art Gallery, Maynard Dixon, oil painting, painting, plein air, plein aire painting, Roxane Pfister, southern Utah, three woman show | Leave a comment
Our first WE THREE official retreat. 1988 at Teton National Park. We froze, we fried, we painted. The Grand Teton just would NOT sit still…clouds kept drifting in front, light was constantly changing, it was sunny, then it began to rain. Plein aire painting was still a new experience.
WE THREE: Barbara Edwards, Dilleen Marsh, and Roxane Pfister are three weeks away from our three woman art show at http://loganfineartgallery.com/. As I am “assembling and retrieving” art…I am thinking of “retreating”. Lol, not as in “escaping”, because I am thrilled and honored to show work with my dear friends. But in “remembering”. As I said before, WE THREE have gotten together more than 20 times over the years to RETREAT: a period of seclusion, esp. for spiritual and artistic renewal. Just wanted to share some of those memories…
July 1991 WE THREE got together in Logan, Utah. I have paint on my mouth. Why does it sometimes look like artists are eating their paint or making comments like, “that color looks good enough to eat”…? (Actually, we DON’T eat our paint, very toxic, but we do get messy.)
Logan, Utah, July 1991, Barb and Rox. By this time we all had children. Sometimes they came along.
Yep. Sometimes the “kids” came along. This is 1993 on an art retreat at Barb and Glen Edwards’ cabin in Star Valley, Wyoming. I am on the left and Rox, on the right, is holding her fourth and newest child, Devon.
But most of the time we left the children for a bit to concentrate on the painting. This “retreat” was in June of 1994.
WE THREE “retreated” to Barb’s cabin several times in the 1990s. Fields of flowers, the comfortable warmth of a potbelly stove, and a short hop, skip, and jump from the art mecca, Jackson Hole. I am on the left and Barb is on the right.
May 26, 2014 | Categories: Art Adventures | Tags: art, art adventure, art friends, art retreats, Barbara Edwards, Dilleen Marsh, Logan Fine Art Gallery, oil painting, plein aire painting, Roxane Pfister | Leave a comment
Gratitude. Being grateful assists me to be healthier and happier . . . especially during difficult times. I don’t remember my exact thoughts when this idea of gratitude came to mind, but I am cultivating a practice of jotting down my visual impressions when they come into my journals or along the edges of my engagement calendars – and this one became a doodle. Women working in a field. I spent a part of my youth on a farm. We grew wheat, hay, and barley. My mom had three gardens growing at the same time. I was not a diligent worker in the field. Rather, I liked to pause and daydream. Loved the sunsets and the wind through the wheat. This doodle kept cropping up (lol, no pun intended). It needed to be painted.
This is the “doodle” of the “gratitude” idea that came into my mind. I am a designer and it was a natural instinct to make sure I had an artistic number of women: five, an odd number. It is also a well used design concept to offset to one side the main point of interest. I kept thinking of – labor that bends your back, looking down versus looking up…
I began focusing on the individual parts. Using tracing paper I considered the poses of each woman. I am so “grateful” for the internet. Googling images of field workers around the world gave me an education in dress, baskets, and methods of harvesting.
Still using tracing paper and keeping the size small: 9 x 4 1/2 inches (so it is quicker to work with and easy to see an overview of the design) as well as keeping my pencils really sharpened, I assembled the parts. I use tracing paper so that I can, obviously, trace over bits and pieces of change rather than redraw everything from scratch each time. This helps me refine each shape.
Since I was making up these figures and creating my own light source, rather than using photographic reference…I needed to resolve some three-dimensional values. Where would the forms be darker/lighter, turn in space? I photo copied my tissue drawing and colored some of it as a guide when I started painting. This was a delicious exercise. It reminded me of the time spent coloring “in the lines” in a coloring book as a child. Very therapeutic.
Then, I wondered, what color scheme?! I fluctuated between vibrant, wildly bold color, and muted tones. Tried some color pencil rendering to assist me in making a decision. I struggled with this ping-ponging even into the painting. It seems obvious that a quiet moment would need quiet colors. But I love juicy colors and it took some real restraint to stay calm. Too much herbal concentrate, lol? My husband proved the deciding factor. He walked into the studio one day when I had painted swirling color around the standing figure and informed me that I had gone over the top and needed to scale back. He was absolutely right. When I muted the color, leaving the idea and design to speak for themselves, it was a much stronger image.
The final painting. It is 18 x 36 inches and oil on board. I believe I have opened a door to a series of similar paintings to satisfy those “strokes of ideas” that plague and bless my artistic life.
The painting is currently at the framers getting fitted for a debut at the Springville Spring Salon. I am definitely a bi-polar artist. I paint impressionistic realism as well as stylized concepts. This one falls in the stylized concept category and is signed DHMarsh.
April 2, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Roxane Mitchell (now Pfister), Barbara Summers (now Edwards), and me, Dilleen Humphries (now Marsh) in 1968. The beginning of a 46 year odyssey.
WE THREE artists began to cement our friendship in 8th grade. It was 1966. Congregating under the influence of our art teacher, Bob Whitney, in Ucon, Idaho, Barbara Summers, Roxane Mitchell, and me, Dilleen Humphries, took those first steps on an art trek together that has spanned 5 decades. In high school WE THREE were part of five founding members of Bonneville High School’s Art Society. Drawing and sculpting and only occasionally painting were our daily disciplines. We were well versed on the life of Michaelangelo. Unusual and fortunate for a high school art experience. Then college. Rox took off to Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. Barb and I settled at USU in Logan, Utah in the fall of 1969. Two years later Rox joined us at USU. Under the tutelage of Glen Edwards and Jon Anderson we began to paint. At first it was in acrylics…then occasionally oils. In 1974 Rox and I drove off (actually, my sister, Deon, was driving-it was her car) across the southwest desert to the “art” gold of California. We were going to be famous illustrators! Barb married our USU teacher, Glen. Years, marriage, and children later WE THREE are now all living in Utah. After high school and college how do you stay in touch with your friends? Remember, this is way before FACEBOOK or even the internet. We’d occasionally get together, drop in for a visit, pair up and do a workshop, or go plein aire painting… and then we began “retreating”. RETREAT: a period of seclusion, esp. for spiritual (and artistic) renewal. Our first ALL THREE retreat was in 1988. We went to the Teton mountain range to paint. Since then we have “retreated” about 20 times. Logan Fine Art Gallery has extended an invitation to WE THREE to exhibit as a three woman show in June 2014. What is the value of traveling the art “road less traveled” with friends? We could give you an earful…”
March 27, 2014 | Categories: Art Adventures | Tags: acrylics, art friends, art retreats, Barbara Edwards, Bob Whitney, Dilleen Marsh, drawing, friends, Glen Edwards, illustration, Jon Anderson, Logan Fine Art Gallery, Michaelangelo, oil painting, Pfister, retreats, Ricks College, road less traveled, Roxane Pfister, sculpting, USU | 1 Comment
This idea occurred to me while in church. Someone was speaking about how whatever is in our heart comes out of our mouth. Or who we are INSIDE will show up eventually on our OUTSIDE. I drifted into thinking about the prickly thorns on a cactus coming from the integrity of the cactus to produce those prickly thorns. Does a cactus have a thorny heart? What if the cactus was a man…would the hurtful thorns he spewed be evidence of an unsympathetic heart? A missing heart? Wouldn’t it be interesting to actually know where thoughts are drifting off to among the congregationalists at church, lol?!
The sketch in my journal for the painting, “Missing The Heart of the Conversation”.
The final painting, a 9 x 12 inch oil on board. “Missing The Heart of the Conversation”.
January 10, 2014 | Categories: Art Adventures, Uncategorized | Tags: art, engagement calendars, finally doing something, great things from small things, heart, heart of the conversation, holy cow, idea on a napkin, ideas, journals, missing the heart of the conversation, oil painting, painting, self expression, sketches, strokes of ideas | Leave a comment
I have heard that a great movie, an important book, a political strategy can come from notes jotted down on a napkin at lunch. Since strokes of ideas can come at unexpected moments, if not captured, the idea might disappear into the already flooded corridors of the brain, perhaps, to be lost. A popular place for me to have a “stroke of an idea” has been at church, sitting in the relative quiet and contemplating the cosmos. Being an artist those ideas have become scattered sketches, doodles, and drawings in my journals and engagement calendars. For years I have entertained turning those ideas into colorful visuals or stories. Last year I marked, copied, and gathered all those scattered visuals into a central binder. Then in July of 2013 I began to paint them. Because they are from my imagination the style approach is much more stylized than my regular approach to painting which is more to the impressionistic/realism side. As I painted I had such feelings of joy and peace that I knew I had stepped over the threshold of a door into full self-expression. The first one was “Holy Cow!”. The sketch was made in my journal on the day that I sold four paintings and found out I didn’t have cancer anymore. That became my annual “Yee-Haa!” Day, November 15. As others followed I needed a name for the series. “The Heart of the Conversation” was born from a conversation with my daughter, Katie, who gave me the name suggestion: “Missing The Heart of the Conversation” for the second one. How appropriate to these images which are a visual “play” on words. Visit my website http://dilleenmarsh.com/to see more of this series. Enjoy…as I am.
I jotted this sketch in my journal as I recorded the day I sold four paintings and found out I didn’t have cancer anymore.
The finished product is a 9 x 12 inch oil on board.
January 10, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Supplies: 8 1/2 x 11 inch black cardstock, pastel, chalk, or prismacolor pencils, origami paper, tape, and glue.
1. Use the black cardstock as your base. Colors really “pop” on a black background. Cardstock is stiff enough to survive the art-making process and still be hangable on the refrigerator door.
2. Roll a piece of origami paper into a tube and tape it closed. If it is hard for some fingers to roll the paper, roll it around a pencil to help you get started. This tube of paper is the main “line” of your art.
3. Glue the tube of origami paper onto the black cardstock in the position you want it-straight, bent, or flattened. We just used simple Elmer’s glue. Glue sticks are not strong enough to hold the “line” to the cardstock.
4. Use pastel pencils, chalk, or prismacolor pencils to color in the rest of your design. (Markers will not show up on black very well.)
5. This project could be done on white paper with any art supplies you have on hand. The concept is to see how “line” is used in art and “What Does A Line Inspire?”
This was a demonstration I did of bending the “line”. Inspired me to use it as a nose in a face.
December 16, 2013 | Categories: Art Adventures, Children's Art Projects, Uncategorized | Tags: art, cardstock, chalk, children's art project, collage, creativity, inspiration, line, paper, pastel pencils, prismacolor pencils, project with children, project with grandchildren, texture | Leave a comment
The textures of the butterflies’ wings are pastel pencil, prismacolor pencil, and chalk on black cardstock paper.
These children saw a tree trunk in their “line”.
This was a demonstration I did of bending the “line”. Inspired me to use it as a nose in a face.
December 16, 2013 | Categories: Children's Art Projects, Uncategorized | Tags: art, black cardstock, chalk, children's art project, collage, color, design, doing something with your grandchildren or children, drawing, glue, line, origami paper, pastel pencils, prismacolor pencils, texture | Leave a comment
What do I really, really love? Halloween! Fairy tales! Every October, as I was growing up, my dad decorated for Halloween with enthusiasm. Coming from a farm background where harvest time holds a nostalgic and small town Sleepy Hollow place in my heart the make-over of Driz was pure pleasure. The re-do of Siz came from that book of fairy tales I read every morning while eating breakfast before school, compliments of my mother making sure we had books in the house. Fairy princess and zombie vampire – so much more interesting! Then I sat down to edit my stories and found that my “new and improved” characters lent themselves to WAY more interesting story lines. A whole new world and definitely more work just opened up!
September 23, 2013 | Categories: My author/illustrator life! | Tags: art, art adventure, author/illustrator, books, characters, children's books, Driz, illustration, little girls, pushing the envelope, Siz, sketching, vampire, zombie | Leave a comment
In February of this year I shared with you my sketches for two characters I am writing children’s book stories about: Driz and Siz. I was happy with my little “cute” girls and merrily sent sketches and manuscripts out to agents. No takers. Time passes. One day, surfing around on the internet I went to a site hosted by Will Terry, children’s book illustrator, who generously shares his experience and wisdom.http://willterry.com/ Here’s a quote from that insightful moment: “The internet ignores mediocrity. It ignores good. It ignores really likeable. It only celebrates excellent or great. You have to be willing to sacrifice and be great. You have to figure out what you want to do to be great. It can’t be forced. Do what you really, really love. Once you find that – don’t look back.” I looked at my “cute” characters and saw “likeability”. Aaargh! Considered two questions: What do I really, really love? What is holding me back?
September 23, 2013 | Categories: My author/illustrator life!, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
On my way back from the 3 Woman Show in Logan I had the great privilege of spending a few hours with my grandson, Jayson, and his brother, William. I love these two little guys and am grateful to their mom and grandma, Melissa, for their generosity in arranging for this time. We played treasure hunt, hide and seek, Sorry (the board game), caught up on their latest karate moves and ate from a vending machine… Then William asked, “Are we going to do an art project?” I was in the middle of explaining that I hadn’t brought my “craft/art box” with me when this idea popped into my head (I am sure I got this from some other creative person somewhere). Following are the instructions for “Creative Simplicity Itself”.
1. A piece of 8 1/2 x 11 inch white printer paper for each person participating.
2. A color for each person. We chose a crayon each because they had crayons handy. Markers, pencils, paints or any other way to use color would also work.
3. Each person starts a drawing of anything with their color. We set a time limit of a few minutes to work on it and then said “Stop!”
4. Before passing your paper-with-started-drawing onto the person sitting next to you, you write a word (any word) at the top of the page.
5. The next person uses their color to add to the drawing you started. With a time limit. Also adding a word (any word) to the top of the page.
6. Keep rotating papers around the table until all have added to the drawings with their colors and words.
7. Then it is story time! Each person tells a story about the art work on the paper in front of them using all the words written at the top of the page.
I was really impressed by the creative stories that William, the 8 year old came up with. Even Jayson, 5, got into the swing of it, if mostly to use the drawing as a mask, lol.
William, Jayson, and Grandma Melissa at the Sorry board. How does that game live on and on?! I remember playing Sorry with my dad and sisters at Christmas. Lots of fun.
The work of “Creative Simplicity Itself” begins. Each has a piece of paper and a crayon color. The timer is set and off we go!
Yes, the final art could be used as a mask. Jayson is modelling the possibilities!
Jayson, 5, and William, 8. Adorable, precious, creative, genius, sweet, fun . . . do I sound like a grandma?!
August 3, 2013 | Categories: Children's Art Projects, Uncategorized | Tags: art, art and writing, art as a game, art project for children, crayon, creative, Jayson Marsh, Melissa Walker, paper, simplicity, stories, William Wood, words | Leave a comment
Katie stopped by the reception after work and added sparkle . . . as well as loving support. There were other notables there that night: Jon and Judy Anderson (Jon was my design professor at USU. A significant mentor in my life) and two artists I admire, Brad and Debra Teare. Roxane’s son, Ryan, popped in to see what his mom has been up to. Kristie Grussendorf, a fabulous watercolorist and good friend graced us with her presence, coming directly from a long painting workshop day. Even a bygone roommate from my student days at USU, Dana, showed up with her husband. So many years and so much life since college.
One of the pleasurable parts of the evening was having guests point out their favorite “Roxane” painting. This is Barb Edwards on the left and Katie Marsh on the right. Stiff competition for “Vanna White”!
Me and Susette standing by one of MY self-expressed landscape paintings.
See?! Like I said, a bundle of energy! This is Susette in front of one of her very self expressed floral paintings.
One of the ten posters we placed around town. Katie’s reflection is seen in the window. Nice design on the poster by staff at Logan Fine Art.
Today is the last day of a 3 woman art show at Logan Fine Art in Logan, Utah. I had the privilege of exhibiting my work with the work of Roxane Pfister and Susette Gerstch. On the 10th of July, a Wednesday, I loaded up our little car with 19 paintings and 18 illustrations and headed north from Hurricane to Logan. Along the way I picked up a painting that had been in the Springville Spring Salon this year and I was packin’ art supplies for an illustration job that needed to be completed by Monday. There wasn’t room for a hitch-hikin’ chipmunk to join me on that drive. However, Jeffrey Archer/Clifton Chronicles entertained me on audio book all the way.
On the 12th, my fabulous daughter, Katie Marsh, assisted me in placing flyers and posters of the 3 woman show around town with the hope that the Utah Opera Festival crowd might be enrolled in taking a peek at our art. I think I only had courage to hand out flyers to groups of smartly dressed women and say “Go Girls!” because of my stage actress daughter’s backup.
That night, at our opening reception, I had the pleasure of showing off my friend, Roxane’s, new technique with a palette knife to attendees. Roxane, meanwhile, was winging her way to China with her scientist husband, Jim. I did not know Susette before that evening although I had admired some of her paintings. Happy to find out she was a very pleasant, intelligent bundle of energy, easy to get along with.
Julie (Logan Fine Art staff and enthusiastic support), Katie (the fabulous daughter), Glen (my USU illustration professor and mentor friend), and Barb (art buddy forever) at the table display of my illustrations.
August 3, 2013 | Categories: Art Adventures, Uncategorized | Tags: 3 woman art show, art friends, art show reception, artists, audio books, Barb Edwards, Brad Teare, Clifton Chronicles, Debra Teare, floral paintings, Glen Edwards, hitch hikin' chipmunk, illustrations, Jeffrey Archer, Jon Anderson, Judy Anderson, Logan, Logan Fine Art Gallery, loving support, oil painting, Roxane Pfister, self-expressed, Springville Spring Salon, Susette Gerstch, Utah | Leave a comment
Rox and I went plein airing while Barb (clever girl) stayed in the studio to paint. We discovered the engaging snake gesture of the Sevier River (attached painting), the prevalence of animals around us (dying chipmunk by the kitchen door, chipmunks and blue jays eating cornmeal puffs out of Rox’s hand, baby buffalo romping with a herd, a bounding deer, and dead deer by the side of the road). We also discovered, or were reminded, of the intensifying heat. We drained ourselves painting in the sun. Being engulfed by the concentration of painting, the heat can sneak up on you and not be noticed until you start putting your paints away. Then you become conscious to the fact that it takes all you have to walk back up a hill toting your supplies and sitting down in the car with the air conditioning on is paradise.
We ended our week with a couple of trips to nearby Panguitch and their Hot Air Balloon Rally. In the day the balloons hang from the sky silent and ethereal, like dew drops. At night, in the propane glow, balloon colors intensify and interesting crowds of people swarm through the streets. We three have taken on the project to paint a hot air balloon painting each by next year’s Dixon #7. Remember girls?! All there is . . . is The Work!
August 1, 2013 | Categories: Art Adventures | Tags: art adventure, field study, hot air balloons, oil painting, Panguitch, plein aire painting, Sevier River | Leave a comment