Monthly Newsletter

The other day I responded to a question on Facebook by Renee Phillips of Manhattan Arts International. She asked artists to comment on the post “Dear Artist, What’s a favorite art supply, material or medium you love to use most and why.”  People mentioned the richness of certain watercolors, the quick drying advantages of acrylics, the feel of wet clay among others.

I was in the process of designing a piece of art in response to the Collage Artists of America’s themed online show ‘It’s about Time’.  We had been asked to interpret the phrase any way we chose.  Bearing in mind the timeline on which this show was announced, I anticipated they expected may entries about the timeliness of the recent changes brought on by the #BLM movement.  My thoughts however went to the words of a friend who is currently on a journey with cancer.  She has progress and setbacks.  Some things held in check, new things popping up.  Extraneous issues like being self employed so ineligible for disability, annual changes in carrier by her spouse’s employer, who provides the health insurance, and of course the threat of covid.
The artwork incorporates some of her steps in the numbers on a handless clock, the extraneous issues in surrounding teardrops, and on the  rods of the pendulums, her quote that inspired me: “I know that the  cancer will take me, I just want some more time.”

So back to the question on Facebook.  My response was that my favorite material was my imagination, it allowed me to create art in response to such inspirations and challenges as the one mentioned.  Serendipitously in today’s reading from 365 Tao (Deng Ming Dao) is the paragraph: “Why concern yourself exclusively with the mechanics of a situation?  That is like seeking an artist’s genius in the brushes; it is the mind of the artist, not the tools, that is responsible for the beauty of a painting.”
When I went back to find whether anyone else had posted an answer similar to mine, I found my comment had been removed.

I guess I think a little too far outside the box.

Aside from the fact that I’m slowly putting a lot of art up on my Etsy site (it’s amazing how much time it takes to pull everything out, photograph it in various poses and edit the results) I’ve been working on a fun book-length poem about hognose snakes, with illustrations.  I can complete this amount of work because, it may not surprise you to learn, everything else is cancelled. 

What is time?


I few days ago I saw a post by PZF Photography about the towns abandoned during the Chernobyl disaster, and was inspired to write a poem about the amusement park.  I was also haunted enough to think about reblogging, but then when I went hunting for his link I found he was impressed enough to reblog it.  Follow his link below the photo….

The last few days have been quite amazing for me. I’ve been overwhelmed by the attention my Chernobyl photo essay received, after Krista, an editor at WordPress, selected it for the Discover section. Naturally, when we write or share photographs (or both, in this case) we do it because we believe it’s a story worth […]

via What is time? — PZF Photography

Tribute to the drying Salton Sea

Dawn at the end of an era.

“Dawn at the end of an era”. Acrylic on gallery wrap canvas 12×12″. $120.

The Salton Sea is in the news a lot these days – it’s about 4 ft lower than when I first moved here almost ten years ago.  The foundations of the old yacht clubs that were flooded in the dual storms-of-the-century in the late 70s are now visible.  The boat launch area from which a friend and I once paddled a canoe, is now an almost dried up inlet sporting only a large puddle.  I’m glad I took photos back then, they are already historical.  Sometimes when I paint from them I wonder if I will still be able to see the sun rise out of the water at winter solstice throughout my lifetime.  Perhaps, perhaps not.  This painting was created based on one of those old dawn photos.  I titled it to reflect that.

Imperial Valley Museum roadtrip.

View over Imperial Valley from Imperial Valley Desert Museum

View over Imperial Valley from Imperial Valley Desert Museum

Today I got to check something off the list.   The Imperial Valley Desert Museum opened in January 2011 to house the archeological items from the Imperial Valley.  It’s in Ocotillo –  on the I8 just as it leaves the valley and heads into the mountains towards San Diego. I’d passed it several times but it tends not to be open at 6am or 11pm.  It has a great view overlooking the Imperial Valley.

Imperial Valley from Imperial Valley Desert Museum

Imperial Valley from Imperial Valley Desert Museum

The museum itself doesn’t boast a lot of windows to enjoy that view, but inside there are things to look at.  It’s still a work in progress – there is a list of displays that are planned, some funded, some not, and a few displays of local photographs, maps and diagrams and some artefacts from their collection.  One was of Ollas (Saa Kaays) – which are large pottery urns used by the Kumeyaay Indians. Another was of oval stones with slots in.  There was no label but the curator, Anne, was happy to explain they were arrow straighteners. She was in the process of preparing labels this morning and that was one of them.  I watched the historical video for awhile and came away with a couple books, a tshirt and an intention to return every three months or so and see how the displays are progressing.  One big item today – the museum is being included in the Federal Museum Association and there is a reception this evening to celebrate this.

Northbound S30

Northbound S30

On the return trip I was reflecting on the regions during that journey – desert, farmland, desert.  I did stop at my favorite line of trees on S30.  Have taken photos of them a couple times on the way to San Diego, around dawn – this time it was northbound at noon.  I must use them in a painting from that angle soon.


Last Stop

Last Stop.  Refractured watercolor on panel. 11x14".

Last Stop. Refractured watercolor on panel. 11×14″. Will need a frame.

I had the hardest time naming this piece.  I painted the watercolor some time ago and only in the last couple days got to cutting and mounting it.  Then I couldn’t decide what to name it…. eventually I went with ‘Last Stop’, because I think the birds are making their last stop before migration, and the phone/power poles have reached the end of the line too.  All that’s left is the sky to fly in.


The Speed of Light

House - by James Youse - about 8x10, watermedia

House – by James Youse – about 8×10, watermedia

For the last three years I’ve created a painting for Alzheimer’s Association for the fundraising – and one of the interesting aspects of this is that I get to do a painting in response to the painting of an Alzheimer’s patient.  This year I happened to be in San Diego around the time they started this year’s project, so I was able to see all the available patient’s artwork instead of a small selection of images emailed to me because I’m so far away.

Many paintings spoke to me, but one spoke louder.  I am very aware when looking at these pieces of artwork of the decline of life of the artists, and this aspect alone significantly alters my response.  The painting is by James Youse, and is on the right.  It is simply titled ‘House’ – and is on the right above, but the part that struck me was the difference between the house and its reflection in the water.  My initial urge to respond was with a poem, which I did, and then created a refractured watercolor, including the poem on the painting.

    The Speed of Light.

At the edge, after my day is done,
sense of fulfillment resting in my heart,
my body’s atoms coming all apart,
returning to the dirt from where they’ve come
I’ll stop, before I dip these aching toes
into the water of the after life
(my soul arrived before the speed of light –
I don’t know how, but that’s the way it goes),
So I can see the breadth, the depth, the height
I leave behind, before my dive will break
the surface and destroy what others take
to memory, being slower still than light.
The vision in that lake will, by and by
return to stillness, leaving only sky.

The Speed of Light. Refractured watercolor with poem on float panel, 8.5x28.5"

The Speed of Light. Refractured watercolor with poem on float panel, 8.5×28.5″


"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.

A modern fairy tale.

"The Greening".  Refractured watercolor on gallery wrap panel.  20"x48".  $1680

“The Greening”. Refractured watercolor on gallery wrap panel. 20″x48″. $1680

A couple months ago in Fountain Hills, I spoke to a woman who said she knew of an artist who had done a painting kinda-sorta like my refractured watercolors, in particular like ‘The Greening’.  She couldn’t remember the artist’s name and apparently he had only ever done one painting like that, but she thought that it was a much older man who lived in Santa Barbara, CA and promised to email his name to me when she returned to her home in the Midwest in May.  I have not yet had that email, but I will tell you of her story.

Once upon a time, she bought a condo, and after a while decided she needed artwork.  A friend suggested she go to the local framing store, as he also sold art, so she did.  On walking in, there it was, hanging at the back of the store, The Painting To Surpass All Paintings.  She Must Have It.  She asked the store owner to pack it and tell her how much the check should be for, because She Must Have It and money was no object.  No, he replied, it’s not mine to sell, it is only here for framing.  Then, she said, I don’t care how unethical this seems, but you must give me the owner’s phone number and I will make him a better offer.  The store owner sighed.  It’s pointless, I know, He Will Not Be Parted From It.

Months later, she was in a hardware store.  She said while she was telling me the story that she could not think why she would possibly have been in a hardware store, but she was and she met another customer and they fell to talking and he could think of no earthly idea why he was in the hardware store either, but they talked and they got along well and eventually he asked her for a date.

They went on a date and got along very, very well and another date and another date and some weeks later he invited her to his home.  To her astonishment, there it was on the wall, The Painting To Surpass All Paintings and She-Who-Must-Have-It had unknowingly been dating He-Who-Will-Not-Be-Parted-From-It.

There was only one solution.  They must marry.  So they did.  And the three of them lived happily ever after.

However, She-Who-Must-Know-Who-Painted-It is still waiting….

Three years in the making.

The Skies of Peace and Passion.  Poetry and paintings.

The Skies of Peace and Passion. Poetry and paintings.

Three years ago I started a project – a book of paintings and poetry.  Actually it started three and a half years ago with a potential customer bugging me to start such a project.  I was stalled due to technical difficulties for most of the intervening time, but a couple months ago found the help I needed – Christina Lange, who knew enough InDesign to clip and paste my book together.

Then, with a few more snaggettes that the helpful people at CreateSpace solved, this afternoon, I finally ‘gave birth’: The Skies of Peace and Passion.

Here’s a sample poem…


I will take your face and stature, if you do not care
And force it to walk on long forgotten roads
In the long ago velvet folds of my green moss mind.

I will take your face and stand by you when you’re there
We will hear the cuckoo’s call, not the caw caw crow,
We may see all the all and not be timeways blind.

We may walk in the fields and meadows, daisy-white
In the morning, and in the cool woods at the height of noon
We may drink from the silver pure stream all it may allow.

We may look on all time, and see the paths that are right
And take them, not the ones that made us part so soon.
Then I will not be here to write this now.

The owl and the pelican.

"Ochre Sunrise", 6x6 acrylic on canvasette paper.

“Ochre Sunrise”, 6×6 acrylic on canvasette paper.

As well as checking out what’s happening off the back porch around dawn, I also try to take some exercise around sunset – I love walking out in the desert and getting to experience the hugeness of the sky away from the houses.  In addition to the sunsets I also come in contact with the local wildlife.

Recently I came across an owl burrow.  For those of you who don’t live here or who aren’t avid birders, yes, we have owls that build nests in the ground – they’re called (surprise) burrowing owls.  Personally I think they should be called giggling owls, because that’s what they sound like when the hoot – er – giggle.  I thought I would come back periodically to this nest and perhaps get to see owlets being raised.  A couple days later I returned, navigating via differently shaped bushes, and easily found the nest.  However, the next time I returned with the camera, I was shocked to find the burrow had been dug up, and the owl lay dead.

I think the diggers were coyotes, judging by the paw marks but it didn’t make sense that they would kill and not eat.  Perhaps owls don’t taste nice.  The feathers around his neck were possibly the softest thing I have ever felt, and despite the circumstances I realized this might be my once-in-a-lifetime chance to touch a burrowing owl.

A couple days later I was walking down by the shore of the Salton Sea at sunset, and suddenly noticed what my (warped) mind initially interpreted as a pair of angel wings.  It turned out to be the remnants of a dismantled pelican. The wing feathers were stiff so unlike the owl’s soft neck, yet they are all feathers.  What diversity within the same basic design.

Last night I went back to the owl nest – now the owl has been dismantled and his wings laid out in the same angel pattern.  I brought home a few feathers.  I hope his mate will find another and nest again.

This afternoon in the studio I was working on a commission – variations on a painting I did a couple years back. Turning the canvas from pelican color to owl color.  It’s almost sunset now and I see clouds.  Time to grab the camera and head out.