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.
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…
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.
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.
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…”
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”.
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.
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.
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.