Larch View

The painting ‘wet and nameless’ in my last blog got dry enough that I could add the foreground tree.  I started out with not knowing what kind of tree to do – a fully leafed one, totally bare one, or something in between.  A google image search for ‘tree silhouettes’ produced primarily cartoon silhouettes so I was without inspiration.

Painting of larch tree against misty dawn

Perhaps a little too stubby?

For some reason, the name ‘larch’ popped into my head.  Don’t ask me why – I don’t think I’ve ever met a larch – I just knew the word and knew it was a tree that grew in temperate climates – like the misty one in the background.  So, off I googled again (I don’t have a tree book, much as I love both – it seems kind of a contradiction in terms…) and came up with some larches.  Hmmm, that seems kind of plump for a larch.

larch view painting

“Larch view”. Oil on canvas, 24×36″, $1080.

Ah, that’s better.  There’s something about a lone tree that invokes the feeling of peace and solitude.

Field of (sunset) dreams.

Late Practice

Late Practice – Acrylic on wraparound canvas – 30x24x.5″ – $600

I guess one sport that doesn’t get played a lot in the desert is baseball.  It’s just too darn hot during baseball season.  And with one thing and another it’s been a while (last season I think) since I’ve been to a game in Anaheim – with the fact that the Angels don’t play at home every weekend and the fact that I’m not in Orange County with my other half every weekend of the summer means that the stars rarely align.  We have been to a couple of minor league games and once or twice to watch his new neighbor’s kids at little league.  Sometimes though we go out for a stroll in the evening and walk by the local school’s playing fields.  Usually there’s a crowd out there shooting hoops, but one evening we rounded the corner to see the baseball field under lights – and under a gorgeous sunset and just a couple kids still out there.  Nope, no camera this time to work from – all from memory.  I put in hills instead of the school buildings as I find a rural scene to be more restful.

Framing… or not

Mesquite Dawn.

Mesquite Dawn.

I don’t really like framing – in part because I’m not very good at it.  I use plain frames so that the buyer can re-frame if desired, without having spent half the value of the artwork on the frame.

When I’m framing, I can check so closely that there is no dust between the glass and the mat/painting before I put in the staples, then after I’ve stapled…. where do all those bits of whatever come from???  That is one of the things that I enjoy about moving to work that doesn’t need to be framed.

Last fall when I was at the Rancho Mirage art show, a wonderful helper and I dropped a couple pieces framed under glass out of the back of the truck.  Onto concrete.  They were boxed, so the frames survived but the glass didn’t.  One was a standard size frame, so I just had to pick up a piece of glass and reframe.  The second wasn’t, and I’ve already wasted one piece of plexi-glass attempting to teach myself how to cut this.  I’m going to have another go this week… but perhaps before I do…. someone would be interested in this refractured watercolor unframed – and then choose a nice frame for it that you like.  It frames to 34×24″ frame.

Special deal – $490 (+ tax if applicable) and if I need to ship, I’ll include USPS shipping, or you can pick it up from me at a show, or we’ll figure out if I can deliver. (Master/Visa/Discover/Cash/Check on US bank).  Let me know before Feb 20th!

Green sky??

Dawn sky across the Salton Sea - with a hint of mint green.

Dawn sky across the Salton Sea – with a hint of mint green.

Last night I went to a friend’s house for dinner.  I thought an hour before I was due to leave that I would have to take a rain check as I got hit with a pretty good rainstorm.  Fortunately it was fairly localized – the street outside my house didn’t fill up with rain and the washes weren’t running.  He lives on the other side of town, and he didn’t get a drop from that little downpour.

However, as we prepared to eat, the skies darkened above us to the east, the drops started, but the sun shone through from the west.  We were talking about how we both like scenes where the dark storm sky is contrasted against a pale wheat field.

Continuing the discussion and wonder at some of the odd colors that the sky was turning as we ate, said that I thought that the sky can create almost every color.

But not green, he mused.  Well, thereby hangs a tale.  It’s hard to imagine painting a blue sky and merging it into a yellow horizon without getting a green area in the middle.  It is possible with the appropriate pigments to do that merge, but in truth the sky does occasionally go there with the green.  I’ve photographed it on several dawns off my back porch, and also saw it at sunset during a recent trip to Lake Cuyamaca.  With a second opinion no less, at the validity of that little bit of mint green.

The photo I’ve attached is one of those mint dawns across the Salton Sea.  If you think it’s photoshopped – yes it is, but** only to the extent that I have color corrected the image to match that of the film photograph that I scanned it from.

If you still doubt the sky can make green – think of a rainbow – and aurorae!

Finishing up in the studio

"Upcoming Storm".  Watercolor collage 10x8" in white mat to 12x10". $80

“Upcoming Storm”. Watercolor collage 10×8″ in white mat to 12×10″. $80

Here’s the watercolor collage I started 9 days ago at Red Brick Gallery.  I had put down all the pieces, just hadn’t put on a foreground.  As with many of these creations, it really doesn’t come together until that stage.  Many people commented when I was at Red Brick that they like the three-dimensionality, the depth, that the foreground gives to the background.

The way that the paintings finally start to exist in these very last stages reminds me of the paintings that Rolf Harris did during a children’s show I used to watch.  I had to go to wikipedia to remind myself that it was called ‘The Rolf Harris Show’.  Towards the end of the show, he would do a huge painting on a roll of paper about 10’x10′ hanging on the wall, and from big brushes with pots of house paint, set in a line at the bottom of the paper.  The paintings always consisted of a number of seemingly meaningless marks of different colors (at least I assumed they were color, we only had a black and white tv) which built up over the course of about five minutes.  It was only in the last 30 seconds or so of the painting that it became apparent what it was.

In my collage, it’s not until I look at again a week later I see that there are little blonde reeds growing underneath my signature, that the mountains have more layers than I was aiming for and that the reds in the skies on the left reflect more realistically in the water than I had thought they would.

The beauty of storms

"The Eye of the Storm looks through us All"  Watercolor collage on panel with acrylic edges. 12"x9". $135

“The Eye of the Storm looks through us All” Watercolor collage on panel with acrylic edges. 12″x9″. $135

I have always hesitated (to the point of not) painting one of the huge storms that sadly take  lives and cause much destruction in the mid West.  I also hesitate (to the point of not) painting skies filled with the smoke from wildfires.  The dust filter from these can produce some amazing sunsets, yet I think no one would want to adorn their walls with such a painting, when they cause more grief than their beauty can alleviate.

Yet the prairie storms still entice me.  Yesterday I was working on a small collage and found a dark piece of watercolor with what could be an eye in it.  It drew me to working around this centerpiece and creating a storm collage.  While building it I was thinking of all the recent destruction in Moore, OK and what power is in the air we take for granted when we breathe.  I have to say I find an awesome beauty in the huge storms of the mid-West that I will probably (hopefully) never see in person.  In the end this pieces is more about the fact that for all we can travel in space, and around the world, and faster than the speed of sound, how little we are in the face of such an aspect of sky.


"Comma Moon".  Watercolor collage on panel, 12x9". $135.

“Comma Moon”. Watercolor collage on panel, 12×9″. $135.

It’s always interesting to get feedback from viewers of my artwork.  Sometimes they will see faces or other items ‘hidden’ in the clouds – that I never intended to put there.  I remember in particular a painting of a winter solstice dawn in Salton City, the time of year that the sun comes up out of the water, it seems.  In the painting the sun was about halfway above the horizon, and the long bright reflection reached towards the viewer, getting narrower as it came closer.  It was one that I particularly liked.  One day a little girl (about three) came in the booth holding her father’s hand and pointed to this painting, which was on the lower half of the wall, just at three-year old eye level.  “Oh Daddy, look at the ice-cream!”  Of course after that I could never un-see the ice-cream.  The painting did sell not too long after, and I hope the new owner never sees the ice-cream, it did detract from the view.

Recently I had one follower comment that she liked my paintings that included moons, and is currently considering a purchase, but I seem to have pretty much sold out of moons.  Indeed it was true – there were only two.  Well, red rag to a bull, now there are three.

Sky really can be brown.

"Agoura Hills Dawn"

“Agoura Hills Dawn”

‘Agoura Dawn’ is one of my last unsold watercolors – I have often wondered if it has not touched anyones heart because sky does not usually come in brown.  But the morning I painted was so peaceful; the painting came out pretty much like the photograph, especially with the sky color and soft swirls.  But it seems no one likes a brown sky.  Last Monday I concurred with that sentiment.  We had a storm where strong cold winds came down from the north and met our warm desert air, creating dustdevils.

I was in the studio working, and my neighbors were in their yard, admiring the spinning sky.  An especially large dustdevil headed towards both houses, they decided that as it was about twice the size of a house, they would be safer inside, so they fled.  Inside my studio, I watched the sky outside go brown, full of sand and leaves, I heard the freight train, and then the ripping sound that was shingle roll being vacuumed up from the roof and deposited in a heap on the roof and all over the yard. .

I much prefer my skies calm….

Look up.

Look Up #1

Look Up #1

Yesterday morning I’d just unzipped the walls from my tent at the Desert Art Festival in Palm Springs, set the desk out back and the umbrella, and I looked up.  We were all nervous about the wind forecast, and I looked up to see how much the palm trees were swaying.  I was delighted by some white lacy clouds – and fortunately had the camera with me.  I took a shot, then reframed and took another.  It wasn’t until I came to download them just now that I realized how much those clouds had moved in two or three seconds.  Soon they were gone.  The fleeting beauty inspired me to write this:

Look Up #2

Look Up #2

Look up

Look up because you might just catch
a butterfly of sky’s lace
disappearing from your present
as the future sidles by.

Look up because beauty
is rarely less transient
than any of us –
even stars do not shine forever.

Look up because only in life
can we see these glints of flying water
just this way – and just this cloud
only right now, right now.

Look up because even without clouds
the dome can hold you down, black or blues
and is that where we all hope
to go eventually?

The song in your heart

"When the Morning Comes".  Refractured watercolor on wraparound panel.  24"x30". $1260

“When the Morning Comes”. Refractured watercolor on wraparound panel. 24″x30″. $1260

Today my cd player went the way of all things mechanical and my wonderfully adept neighbor, George, rescued a cd from the clutches of its half-open jaws for what I swear will be the last time.  It is now a one-cd player without a front cover, rather than a three-cd player.  iPod purchase, here I come.  I actually ‘inherited’ the cd player about seven years ago when my then boyfriend got a job on the east coast and when he packed, we both forgot he left it at my house – so I sure got value for money out of it…

When I went to pick up my new trash item, George and Christina (his girlfriend) and I sat chatting for a while and somehow the conversation got round to death sentences.  Christina said she wouldn’t like to get a state funeral – you don’t get to choose your song. We also bemoaned the difficulties of health care and dental expenses, and the joys of aging.  Gums receding like the tide, hairlines disappearing into the sunset and joints sticking with every change in the weather, like cds sticking in a player, or songs sticking in your head.

Fortunately the cd player’s last song before it croaked was one of my favorites – by a band called Bliss – for whom I sadly can find only the one cd.   The last couple of lines of the song are ‘When the morning comes, Will you remember my name?’. The song is so stuck in my head, I’m going to name the painting I completed today ‘When the morning comes…’