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Art Adventure: Dixon #6 Part IV

Finally, after 5 years of saying I’d like to try it I did a “night” painting. From 10-12midnight I stood under a yard light and painted the attached study of a shed on the site. There is a floodlight on the corner of the shed that gave some illumination to the scene. It was in front of this shed on the gravel driveway under the shade of this big tree that Maynard Dixon painted some of his later year paintings. The temperature was perfect and the light never changed. Couldn’t tell what my colors looked like so depended on a study of values. At first when I would hear a twig snap behind me I was startled into fantasies about what could be creeping up behind me. But interestingly enough, the night time traffic on a nearby road began to be a comforting rhythm to me. Like waves in the ocean.

Susan Bingham painted some great florals from life at the studio with us. One day we were talking about her grand vision for the Maynard Dixon site and I suggested that she come up with some good ghost stories in its background to draw visitors. She replied, “As a matter of fact . . .” She showed us a stone Maynard had begun carving as his headstone. He had carved “MD HIS PLACE” on it. You could only see “MD”. Most of “HIS PLACE” was buried in the dirt. The next day or two, at Barb’s suggestion, we dug out the rest of the stone and provided another tourist attraction at the site. Attached photo shows Susan, me, and Barb at the stone.

Art Adventure: Dixon #6 Part III

The beginning of the week at Mt. Carmel was a pleasant temperature. But about Wednesday afternoon the heat began to descend. At one moment while all three of us were painting in the Maynard Dixon studio one of us spoke up and observed:” I don’t know if I am having a hot flash or it’s just warm in here!” This is a sketch of a cow’s skull hanging in the studio and these are photos of Barb and Roxane working in the studio. My work station shows a blue cloud formation on the painting to the left. Thank heavens the nights were cool.sketch of cow skull Dixon #6 001July 2013 019

July 2013 020

Art Adventure Dixon #6 Part II

I sat by an irrigation ditch on the Dixon home site and sketched while listening to the slow gurgle of the water. When I woke up this morning into my head had poured a possible story line for a children’s book I have been working on. Funny how flashes of insight come unexpectedly. Sitting by the ditch reminded me of my early days on a farm. Playing with my sisters and friends in the local irrigation ditch. While I was sitting there I sent my sister, Deon, a text to follow through with a weekly call we have. (It had to be text because my phone wasn’t getting reception in Mt. Carmel.) Her reply text said: “Let’s you and me meet up by a stream of water under a tree and sip some tea and talk about life under the moon.” She did not know I was sitting by a stream sipping my herbal concentrate, always contemplating life, albeit under the sun, lol.sketch of irrigation ditch Dixon #6 001

Art Adventures: Dixon #6

Each year for the last six years I have journeyed with art buddies, Roxane Pfister and Barbara Edwards to Mt. Carmel, Utah for a week’s art retreat at Maynard Dixon’s home site. This year we went for the last week of June. Rox, Barb, and I have wandered in the world of art together since middle school. It is a precious long term friendship that has only deepened over the years. Paul and Susan Bingham, owners of the Dixon site and an accompanying prestigious art gallery have been very generous in providing this art opportunity for us and others. Even as I am writing this I am struck by my good fortune to have dear friends that I can share my passion for art and life experiences with, paint and draw to my heart’s content, adventure in the semi-wilds, laugh a lot, be under the influence of the ghost of Maynard Dixon, and be inspired by the quality art of the Bingham gallery. Following are bits and pieces from the week. This first sketch is of Diana’s throne. Waking up with a full bladder, hunger pangs, and the anxiety of making a living with my art, I climbed the 4 minute hike to an overlook that inspired Maynard Dixon. Sitting on a rock in the early morning quiet, amazed at the enduring magnificence of the landscape, the anxiety took a backseat and I started the day’s “work”.sketch of Diana's throne Dixon #6 001


“Favor Them, O Lord, With Happiness And Peace” is the title of this painting. This is part of a series of paintings I am doing of kids in the desert. And in the desert, with no buildings or trees in the way, the clouds seem especially amazing.



“All The World’s A Stage” is a painting I had been working on before June. It was inspired by the theatre arts close to where I live in southern Utah: Tuacahn Renaissance and Cedar City Shakespeare. In June I tweaked and revamped a few things, always working toward a better quality painting.



“Stable Ghost”. On a more serious note with animals, I strolled past the stables after a local horse race. The haystack was a beautiful blend of shadow and varied color hay grasses. The stable window was empty and intriguingly dark. I was pleased to get a photo of this horse, resting after the race, a few windows down.



“More?!” Hey, all show paintings don’t have to be beautiful or thought provoking. Some can be just fun. These pigs posed for me at a backyard farm in Rockville, Utah. Just like us humans, always looking for something more!



Deadline: the latest time by which something must be done. June was a deadline month leading up to a 3 Woman Art Show at the Logan Fine Art Gallery. This painting:”Any Dream Will Do (The technicolor dream cape)” is a 24 x 36 inch oil that took up a chunk of the month.


Rework! Rework! Rework!

Around The Corner pages 24 & 25 001balloon driftingIs an artist’s or a writer’s “work” ever really complete?! I heard a story once that the famous impressionist painter, Edgar Degas, stealthily climbed in the window of a patron that had bought one of his pieces to repaint the parts of the painting he just couldn’t live with. Maybe urban legend. However, as I took the coaching of that first rejection and looked again at my stories I began to see through a different filter. Just as an example I am posting the “before and after” of the ending to my story: “Around The Corner”. The bottom sketch shows the balloon lazily drifting to join a party of balloons in the land where lost balloons go. A very anti-climax kind of ending. This is the BEFORE. The top sketch is the REWORK and shows the balloon having a very different kind of adventure . . . with a little humor. This is the AFTER. MUCH more interesting! Well, reworked the whole story with new energy and yesterday, May 8, I pushed the “send” button two more times. Sent this story to TWO more possible literary agents. The line: “You have to do the work to do the work!” keeps running through my mind. A BIG thank you to my husband, Mike; my daughter, Katie; and various encouraging art friends. I am on a roll.

My first REJECTION in finding an agent for my author/illustrator life!

On the 19th of February, after the cat and tears drama previously reported, I pushed the first “send” button to electronically submit three of my stories to the first agency I applied to for representation. Since they indicated a 30 DAY response time, I, of course, anxiously checked my emails daily and boldly (or desperately) emailed the question to the agency: “Did you receive my submissions?” on the 26th DAY. Within a couple of hours I got an apologetic response of “we have no record of your submission”. Good thing I asked! The agent was very courteous, gave me a direct email to send my stuff to and answered me within 6 days with my first REJECTION!! Yay! I am on my way! Actually he was kind and gave me some instructive observations about my work. Then he added: “thx for submitting. i enjoyed these more than most.” (The world of email punctuation.) A little encouragement is fuel-to-the-fire. Back to the drawing and thinking boards I went.

driz up close

An interesting illustration job about corrupt communication. Hot off the art table. Oil and collage. What we say can tear down or build “float” us up. And then there is cyber-bullying.

The Greek root for the word sarcasm is sarkazein and means "to tear flesh like dogs". Ouch.

The Greek root for the word sarcasm is sarkazein and means “to tear flesh like dogs”. Ouch.

corrupt communication art 005 corrupt communication art 007 corrupt communication art 012 corrupt communication art 010

Siz and Driz and the publishing world.

This is my first "fully-operational" illustration for the Siz and Driz storybook, "Around The Corner". Look out for flarbs and snarbs.

This is my first “fully-operational” illustration for the Siz and Driz storybook, “Around The Corner”. Look out for flarbs and snarbs. I submitted this and my stories to an agency on February 16 of this year. I haven’t heard back. On March 17, if I haven’t heard anything by then,  I will hit the trail again, submitting the world of Siz and Driz to another agency. They will not go quietly into the night! They will live on! (movie buff).

The other one that sold as well as being awarded an honorable mention.

This was the other painting that sold at the Dixie Sears Gallery Invitational. And surprise: it was awarded an honorable mention as well. Too much fun!

This was the other painting that sold at the Dixie Sears Gallery Invitational. And surprise: it was awarded an honorable mention as well. Too much fun! This one is a 12 x 16 inch oil on board titled, “At 5:14pm The Autumn Geysers Erupted”.

Sold both of my paintings at the Dixie Sears Gallery Invitational. Just sharing the joy.

This painting sold at the Dixie Sears Gallery Invitational.

This painting sold at the Dixie Sears Gallery Invitational. It is titled, “Abundance”. It is a 24 x 18 inch oil on board. Yaa-hoo!

Continuing to pursue the dream of publishing as an author/illustrator! Introducing Driz and Siz, little starlets of stories, “Around The Corner” and “It Is What It Is”.

Today, with trepidation and relief I clicked the “submit” button on my story submissions to a literary agency in New York. I am pursuing the process of getting an agent to represent me as an author/illustrator. It has been a year since I sent three publishers a rough outline of one of my stories, “Nightmare Roundup”. I never heard back from any of them. I am wiser and my stories are more refined this time around. I will start with finding an agent. I am reminded of a clever dialog that passed between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her friend, Willow: “How do you get to be RENOWNED? I mean, like, do you have to be NOWNED first?” -Buffy. “Yes. First there’s the painful NOWNING process.” -Willow. It WAS painful. After the writing, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting . . . and drawing, redrawing, redrawing . . . I thought I had all that I needed to  submit my stories. Sat down to submit my stories online and remembered to make a copy to mail to myself for copyright purposes. Copied and packaged stories and sketches. Drove to post office and discovered I was 14 minutes past their closing time. Went back to the computer to attempt submitting again. Carefully worded and filled out the electronic form to the point of submitting when our cat, Frankie, chose that moment to jump up on the computer keyboard and erase all my work. I burst into tears. Composed myself and started again. Pushed the submit button and got an air message that said my 8000KB file was too big for their requested 800KB attachment size. Was really bummed. I am not so computer literate that I could fix that on my own. That was Saturday night. Was inspired Sunday in church with this line from a speaker: “Recognizing something’s potential and not giving up on it.” Monday I got help from a very generous Alphagraphics computer tech, Kathy, who reduced the sizes of my attachments. Have spent the day, today, Tuesday, submitting three stories for consideration. Now the waiting. I feel peaceful. God called and I have just been picking up the phone . . . pursuing the inspiration of these stories and the desire to be published as an author/illustrator.

Fearfully cautious Driz and bubbling blissful Siz. Seven year old sisters adventuring around corners and across playgrounds.

Fearfully cautious Driz and bubbling blissful Siz. Seven year old sisters adventuring around corners and across playgrounds.

Directions for Creating a Possibility Poster

Choosing a colorful background.

Choosing a colorful background.

Doing the poster work.

Doing the poster work.

AJ's poster

Katie's eyes and gold pencil charts.

Katie’s eyes and gold pencil charts.

Katie and I invited our next door neighbor, AJ Hurst, to join us in creating these posters for the new year. Therefore, these 2013 posters were produced by a 15, 22, and 60 year old. These can be an art project with any age. I think even younger children would enjoy creating a visual of their hopes, dreams, and possibilities for the new year.

1. Take some time to write down your 2013 possibilities. What projects, intentions, goals, etc. do you have for the new year? Really throw your hat over the wall and write down those things that are always nagging the back of your mind but never get handled. This could be the year!

2. Pick a poster size and color. Our posters were 13 1/2 x 21 inches on colorful art paper. You could use white poster board, but, a bright color background seems to get the art juices rolling.

3. We took a photo of each other with a digital camera. Could have been with our phones. Transferred the photos to the computer and printed out a black and white copy to paste onto our posters. Last year my poster had a color photo of me. This year a black and white allowed me to do some creative coloring. Putting your face into your 2013 possibilities is a great place to start the planning from. After all, this is a visual of your intentions. I put my face upside down, Katie used just her eyes, and AJ not only used her head but several little full figures in various poses of herself.

4. Materials: photo copies, magazines, color cardstock, markers, color pencils, scissors, glue. I’m sure that 3-D items would work too. Whatever you wanted to put into your collage. The collage items will represent your goals, thoughts, themes for the year. I picked an overriding thought from the musical, “Les Miserables”, to headline my year: To love another person is to see the face of God. There are also “charts” on my poster that I can mark off as I accomplish them. My column of “the unexpected” is my longest column. The poster will also become a history of 2013.

5. Hang the completed poster in a place that will keep it ever present!

Possibilities for 2013! Some call these “dream boards”. I call mine a “possibility poster”. Fun art.

2013 possibility poster

2013 possibility poster


Fabulous paper sculpture mask making! Directions on my blog. Great fun with kids AND adults.

Directions for making paper sculpture masks!

Basic directions for creating paper sculpture masks:
1. Use cardstock. Bright colors and black. Black cardstock is a great foundation for color pencil work and background for bright color attachments.

First decision: pick a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 inch color cardstock. It is always fun to see what color different children pick. Cardstock can come in such intense colors.

2. Fold your piece of cardstock in half: will you be a long face (like a hotdog) or a wide face (like a hamburger)?

3. From one of the corners of your folded cardstock to the opposite, diagonal corner, tear or cut the paper. Tearing leaves an organic rough edge, cutting leaves a smooth sharp edge. When you open your folded paper you should now have a basic triangular shape. The beginning of a face!

4. Poke holes in your mask where you want the eyes to be. You can do this with a pair of pointed scissors by drilling carefully into the cardstock. With a little hole poked you now have room to insert your scissors or fingers and cut or tear an eye shape.

5. Paper and cardstock can CURL as well as bend, fold, twist, crinkle! Look at your left over pieces and also pick some other color pieces of cardstock to experiment with. They can be attached to your basic mask shape with a glue stick or hot-glue gun.

6. Get into your craft supply box and also decorate with feathers, glitter, rope, trim, etc. Colored pencils on cardstock create some great tapestry and texture.

7. When you are done you can display your mask on the wall or bulletin board with push pins. It is important to pin one side of your mask to the wall and then bend the mask a bit at the fold before you pin the other side. This gives a 3-D look to your paper sculpture mask. Don’t hang it FLAT against the wall. A 3-D mask is more interesting as light in the room casts shadows and accentuates shapes.


Another group of creative kids! Paper sculpture masks.


Paper sculpture masks with children.

Art buddies forever! Me, Barb Edwards, and Roxane Pfister at our Sep 15th Garden Art Show and Sale.

We have known each other since before middle school in Idaho. We have travelled the road of college, family, and ART together. This year we all three turn 60. I say YEAH for the precious decade ahead and to friendships that last and last and last . . .

“The Good Guys Wear White Hats”, portrait of my parents, Jess and Verna Humphries.