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The Inner Workings of My Soul

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Haley's monster face w/o frame

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

Hayley's art w frame

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

Ian art w/o frame

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

Ian's art w frame

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

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

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

Kyle's art w frame

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

Thanksgiving kids

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

Jonathan's art w/o frame

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

Jonathan's w frame

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


A Simple and Inexpensive Art Project for Children: Mask Making

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

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

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

Now the final touches! 6.

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

Now go look at yourself in the mirror!

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


Eat a live frog first thing in the morning…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


After The Art Show…Now What?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


WE THREE had a great time…

June 13, 2014 WE THREE opening reception

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

Wistful print


WE THREE and art magic…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


WE THREE and Maynard Dixon…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Saga of WE THREE continues…

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.

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.

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 the fall of 2002 Rox and I zipped to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to be there when Barb received two major awards and $6000 for 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 at a university and taking art workshops, and I was making a living as a magazine and children's book illustrator

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 have any 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.

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...

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…


WE THREE Retreating…

Then we began "retreating".

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 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.)

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.)

In July of 1991 WE THREE got together in Logan, Utah. By this time we all had children. Sometimes they came along.

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.

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.

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.

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.


“The Heart of the Conversation” series continued

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 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".

The final painting, a 9 x 12 inch oil on board. “Missing The Heart of the Conversation”.


“What Does A Line Inspire” Instructions

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.

This was a demonstration I did of bending the “line”. Inspired me to use it as a nose in a face.

 


What Does A Line Inspire?!

The textures of the butterflies' wings are pastel pencil, prismacolor pencil, and chalk on black cardstock paper.

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".

These children saw a tree trunk in their “line”.

Another butterfly!

Another butterfly!

This was a demonstration I did of bending the "line". Inspired me to use it as a nose in a face.

This was a demonstration I did of bending the “line”. Inspired me to use it as a nose in a face.

Seeing the "line" in the body of a butterfly or the trunk of a tree inspired seven young artists as seen by the attached photos.


Pushing The Envelope: What Does It Take To Do That?

Driz and Siz revisited

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!


An inexpensive and creative children’s art project! Or for you moms and grandmas out there, an activity that is “Creative Simplicity Itself”.

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.

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!

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!

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?!

Jayson, 5, and William, 8. Adorable, precious, creative, genius, sweet, fun . . . do I sound like a grandma?!


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


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.


Posters and cards we sold at our Garden Art Show and Sale, Sep 15. Some still for sale!

Rox and I entered the marketing world of posters and cards at our Garden Art Show and Sale.


Some of the outdoor paintings from the most excellent adventures.

Valley of Caves, along the Kolob Reservoir Road, May 29, 2012.

Barracks Canyon, Mount Carmel, June 5, 2012.

North side of Zion National Park, on a ledge a ways from Kolob Reservoir Road, June 29, 2012.

Along that same Kolob Reservoir Road on the way to Zion National Park, July 3, 2012.


The Most Excellent Adventure of Painting Outdoors

Often referred to as Plein Air painting, painting outdoors is always an adventure. The act of making art is, in and of itself, a piece of work: where to begin, which stroke next, what color, aargh-the model moved, etc. Painting outdoors intensifies the work load with heat, cold, wind, ants, gnats, mosquitoes, aargh-the light moved, etc. I was asked recently by a fellow artist, who paints exclusively in the studio, WHY I even want to paint outdoors. Two main reasons came to mind: 1. I love being out in the landscape. It’s a way to go camping for a moment (smell the trees, feel the wind, walk on dirt and rocks) without the work of setting up and taking down a full campsite, food preparation in the wild, and going to an uncomfortable bed dirty. 2. Seeing the landscape with my own eyes. There is dimension and color (especially in the shadows) that is lost in the translation from life to photos. I do use photos, of course, as reference to paint later in the studio. I am grateful for what is captured and disappointed with what is lost. Paintings I have done outdoors, or started outdoors, or had a small outdoor painting to refer to while taking it to a bigger size have color and energy that is not there sometimes when working solely from a photograph. Later, a third reason popped into my mind: 3. Why, the adventure, of course. Thought I’d share some of this year’s painting excursion moments with you all. Thank heavens for art buddies to paint with. Life is a rich experience.


Sears Gallery Opening Reception Tonight

ImageThis painting is titled “Abundance”. It is an 18 x 24 inch oil on board. I am taking it over to the Sears Gallery today. A spot has been reserved for it. Tonight from 7 to 9 p is our opening reception. Four artists: Craig Fetzer, Bonnie Conrad, Sam Lawlor, and myself are showing our works there until the end of August.


Getting ready for a 4 artist show in the Sears Gallery at Dixie College in June 2012

I am now focusing on painting for an art show about “telling stories”. I tend to think “allegory” when I paint, so, this is a good fit for me. The title of a painting is part of the poetry of doing art for me. Just finished this one last night: A Happy Man Mending His Fences.


Image

An Art Project for Kids that starts with a black line. Go to ARCHIVES March 2012 and scroll through the paintings to get to the directions for this project.

An Art Project for Kids that starts with a black line.