I don’t usually take this long…except when I get stuck

Sky Pads 13 version 4…ack!!! Can you believe it??!!

I was totally stuck on what step to take next with this painting. I finally decided to just start dropping some soupy colors on it and see what would happen. My original goal was to keep it a bit more light and airy, and it still is. I have mostly succeeded, if you compare it to what I was trying to backtrack from, which was its immediate predecessor:

Paint riot of Sky Pads 12

I’m still thinking I should go back in and bring up the shapes of some of the pads on the left hand side in number 13. But on the other hand, maybe I should set a limit on the thinking time and if I don’t decide in a couple more days I could just call it finished.


In the meantime, let me tell you about my big prize! I subscribe to a wonderful website for art/craft fair artists called ArtFairInsiders.com. It lists shows across the country of interest to roving artists, and also has several pages which include blog posts, helpful advice for outdoor exhibitors, supply sources and services. It’s free, but they were holding a pledge drive this week with super prizes and so I pledged some $$ and wonder of wonders my name was drawn for a prize. The selection process for the prizes was a little bit complicated, but the essence was that someone not associated with the website would draw 24 names and those people would submit their choices from a list of prizes. You could put 3 or 4 different ones on your list. Then the prizes were distributed according to the first choice of each person in the order their names were drawn. Since I was number 20 I figured I had zero chance of getting the first of my four choices and 100% chance of getting the fourth of my four choices. With me so far?

OK, so lo and behold I won my first choice prize, which is a very expensive set of mesh panels from Flourish that fit my Flourish Trimline tent and make my display look all neat and clean. Here’s an example (not my work because I don’t have the panels yet). But one could go completely crazy and hang stuff both inside and outside the walls if the weather gods are with you. Nothing twisting in the wind, any configuration goes, limitless (well, almost) possibilities!

Mesh panels–hang your art in any configuration you want!


Posted in art, exhibit booth, landscape, oil paintings, Sky Pads | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Headline of the day…

These two managed to worm their way into this year’s MAAC (Michiana Annual Art Competition) at the Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph, Michigan–YAY! This makes the third year in a row my paintings have been accepted (after years of rejection!). Message to other struggling artists: hope springs eternal! Will be exhibiting from June 16 through July 29.

Sky Pads 10

Sky Pads 11

Posted in art, Box Factory for the Arts, exhibit opportunity, gallery show, landscape, oil paintings, Sky Pads | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Dogwood Festival Art Stroll


First things first! Red dots rule! This one sold before the Art Stroll even officially started on Thursday afternoon. Nothing beats an auspicious beginning…

The event featured art works in stores all along Dowagiac’s main street, known as Front Street. My venue was a fabulously unique business called Yarn on Front, which benefits from the fact that Dowagiac is plopped down in a fairly rural Michigan area that does not have a yarn shop on every corner. People come from all around, even as far as South Bend, Indiana to see the great yarn selection and take classes.

Beautiful downtown Dowagiac

Yarn on Front’s inviting store window, accented by our art nouveau-ish street lamps which I dearly love

Art Stroll organizer Sharron competing for attention with all the gorgeous yarn colors

We had a steady stream of visitors all during the three-hour event, so I was kept busy both introducing my art to them and pushing refreshments on them. Note my signature art event outfit–black 3/4 coat with hand-crafted ribbon floral decorations, and Spanish riding boots with leather tassels…

Yours truly expounding on “something”…my florals in the background–and a box of dee-licious and dee-lightful Danish pastries from Baker’s Rhapsody just up the street

My two landscapes at the entrance to Yarn on Front–are we having a yarn color riot yet?

I shared the space with a fellow artist/crafter from the group we both belong to, Cass Area Artists. Diana makes the most engaging dolls completely by hand. You can see a whole bunch more of her work here: https://www.facebook.com/dianasprimitiveplace/?pnref=lhc

My fellow artist Diana’s hand-made Raggedy dolls–she made a sale too!


After the Art Stroll, Sharron, who orchestrated the whole event, held a reception for all the artists around the corner at the headquarters of the Dowagiac Dogwood Fine Arts Festival. The Festival features musical performers, story-tellers, the Art Stroll, authors speaking about their writing, and for the kids Klassics for Kids, Youth Fine Arts and Youth Voices and runs for ten days.  For a small town (maybe 6,000?) we do make quite a cultural footprint.

Reception crowd and…food!

Sharron (above at far right) completely revamped the festival office, repainted the walls, and installed picture rail and a hanging system, not to mention replacing all of the tired baseboard. She effectively turned the office into a gallery, which will have shows rotating throughout the year.

Hizzoner, Mayor Donald Lyons, showed up at the reception to lend support

Cass Area Artists corner in the gallery (someone always managed to stand in front of my two paintings, which are in the center-oh well, enough about me!)

My fellow artist and good friend Ruth, who has art in the store next door to Yarn on Front, decided that a hat would be appropriate–I did not ask how many birds gave up their lives for her “hat”. I suspect it is a very old hat.

The bird hat

So there you have it. Ruth will be orchestrating an enormous mural on a wall of the town post office. I have been assigned to do the horse…this should be interesting since I have never done a huge outdoor mural. The theme is the Orphan Train. Cribbing from the Dowagiac Area History Museum, here’s a bit of history about it: In the mid-1800s, homeless, orphaned children roamed the streets of New York City. In 1853, Charles Loring Brace founded the Children’s Aid Society to care for the children with the ultimate goal of having the children adopted. He came up with the idea to send the children on train to be adopted by families in the western United States (Michigan at that time was part of the western U.S.). He sent the first trainload of 46 children west in September 1854 with one destination– Dowagiac, Michigan. If you’re curious to know more of the story and more about the mural project, you can find it here: http://dowagiacmuseum.info/orphan-train/


Posted in art, Dogwood Fine Arts Festival, sales, watercolor | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

A little painting and a little news

“Joy”, or maybe, an “ode to spring” even though it’s based on a photo I took in the fall?

I like to keep my Aquabord™ titles to only one word–don’t ask why, just some arbitrary decision I made years ago–which is how this one came to be titled “Joy”. I finished it over a month ago but it was buried in the bottom of one of my traveling booth boxes–only needed some varnish–and I kept forgetting to pull it out. I’ve done a few of this particular horse, an American Saddlebred, because I really like his expressive movement. Besides that, the Aquabord™ watercolors are such a danged good bargain, only $35 plus shipping. A cute horse at a great price. How often does that happen??

Update on possible exhibit opportunities–

Entered two photographs (imagine that!) for the first time ever in a juried competition. I mainly take photographs to use as references in paintings but the sun, moon, and stars aligned for this particular show so we’ll see what happens. The theme of the show is “flight”. I entered a couple of Sky Pads paintings there before that got one of those nice $30 rejection notices so we’ll see if they like my “mystical” (that’s supposed to be a pun) winter birds any better. (PS: the photos aren’t square–click to see the whole thing)

On the local scene, the Dowagiac Dogwood Fine Arts Festival has revamped its Art Walk structure, which used to be a display of art pieces in merchants’ windows on the main drag. Now it’s going to be ever so much better for both artists and merchants because the art will be inside the stores, there will be an entire evening devoted to the now retitled “Art Stroll”, with refreshments available and the opportunity to chat with the artists in each store. I will have five watercolors–three florals and two landscapes–in a yarn crafter store. They fit in perfectly, my colors melding with all the other wonderful yarn colors on the shelves and in the cubbies. So anyone coming in gets to see all the incredible types of yarn available (I had no idea!) and they also get to see my art. A win-win.

Finally, I have submitted my two latest Sky Pads paintings once again to the Box Factory in St. Joseph, MI. I got an earlier one of the series in last year, and it was one of the lucky ones that were sold. Will find out if I get some wall space on May 10…or another $30 rejection slip. Such suspense!


Posted in Aquabord, art, Box Factory for the Arts, Dogwood Fine Arts Festival, exhibit opportunity, horses, new horse portrait | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

An unplanned pause

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The slide show lets you see the gradual progression to a more subtle look. I would have posted this many days ago had I not lost complete use of my right shoulder and its attached arm. I could not pick up a paint brush, let alone carry this 3′ x 4′ canvas outdoors to do the next pass. Eating with my left hand was interesting, but got old after a very short time. Cortisone is my friend. At least for now. 🙂

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Adding some illusion

Background wash with detailed rendering of lily pads.

Sky Pads 13, second pass with a few ripples and reflections


So, seriously, I am making a huge effort to keep this painting transparent and simple. This is not the final version, just one of a few more intermediate steps.


I was unsure how I wanted to accomplish the ripple pattern, but fortunately I had noticed a few weeks back when ice was melting on the pond behind my house that it was melting in some interesting horizontal patterns therefore took a few obligatory photos. So I superimposed a semi-transparent layer of the ice on top of my background wash photo and adjusted it till I got something I liked. After printing it out, the painting part became easy.

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The (temporarily) abandoned baby

Background pour for #13

So who remembers this one–from almost a month ago??!! I didn’t completely forget about it; it was staring at me from my work table every day. But as I produce more and more of these the challenge increases to find somewhat of a different take on the subject matter. Which in turn opens the door to some rather long-term procrastination. I mustered the courage to at least add in the forms of the lily pads…




Background wash with detailed rendering of lily pads.

Now I am contemplating some steps backward toward the more ethereal quality of Sky Pads 11. Don’t know if I will be able to pull it off because I have this frustrating tendency to make the subsequent washes of paint too thick. Will attempt to restrain myself to something approaching a lemonade consistency…and hopefully we will still be able to see the pads through the next layers of paint.

Posted in art, landscape, oil paintings, painting techniques, Sky Pads | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments