Friday, August 30, 2013

Taste the "Lemonade" to be Found in Competition

Here I am standing in front of my piece after the awards were announced

At the end of the day when I'm washing my brushes and turning out the studio lights, I have to think about my current piece.  There is a bonding process of sorts that takes place in the artist heart as your art progresses closer to that final stage and either you are at peace with where you find your creation or you are considering what has to change.  There is just something really satisfying to taking that final step of signing your name to a piece that you are excited about.  My recent piece that I call "Taste of Summer" makes me feel that way.

When you are presented with a themed art show and you know that you have the added incentive of some good competition some great creativity can hopefully emerge.  This summer I knew I wanted to enter the City of the World Summer Daze art show for several reasons.  1.  This is the gallery that I have my art currently hanging in and 2. I wanted to challenge myself with competing against some really good artists. 

My immediate thought of the theme Summer Daze brought me to thoughts of the beautiful summer fruit available at the local stores; watermelon to be specific.  I'm actually writing this at 3:30 am and eating a piece of this amazing fruit as I type.  To me watermelon encapsulates summer in my mind.  Sweet, juicy and refreshing this fruit is not only tasty but beautiful to behold with its bright red and complimentary green.  I was instantly intrigued with the prospect of a painting that focused on my favorite summer fruit.

Also, I thought about how refreshing a few slices of lemon in a glass of ice water becomes under the scorching summer Nevada sun and so my piece called "Taste of Summer" began to evolve in my mind.  I knew that to stand out amongst the other artists that would undoubtedly enter, I would have to make this piece not only bold and colorful but fun.  Since I usually painting desert landscapes this was going to be a challenge but the prospect of a little healthy competition was exactly what I needed to get me working out my idea on a small rendering.

I decided that I would cover 3/4 of the canvas with piles of lemons.  Now I didn't set this up as a still life in my studio but rather painted this out of my imagination looking at only a few examples of photos of lemons and watermelons.  I decided that the background should be plan but what better color to compliment lemons that purple.  Actually, this piece is really based on primary and complimentary colors now that I consider it but at the time I was just painting colorful fruit.  We have the red and green in the watermelon, the yellow and purple of the lemons and the background and the blue and orange of the cantaloupe and the blueberries.  How smart is that, even though I didn't plan that out necessarily in advance?

Last Saturday was the announcing of the winners and I was actually there when the judges were making their decisions.  I know that they had to meet a second time because there wasn't a clear winner in the first go around and when all the dust settled, I was giving second place.  Okay, I know that it isn't first place but I was thrilled just the same as you can see by my "Happy Face" on the photo.  The first place winner was a large and magnificently done watercolor of a man on a boat fishing. 

I'm going to end this blog entry (One because it is 4:00 am now and I'm starting to get tired again) with a challenge and a quote.  Don't be intimidated by other artists but rather take every challenge to put your work up against that of your fellow artists because each time you come away with a feeling of what you are going to enter next year that will be even better.

"Live daringly, boldly, fearlessly. Taste the relish to be found in competition - in having put forth the best within you."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Maybe I Should Buy a Cowboy Hat

I was browsing Facebook yesterday, an activity that I have a habit of doing maybe more than I should, when I notice an acquaintance of mine had changed her profile picture.  The photo effect applied gave a worn appearance, which I believe is very effective tool when one is wanting to cover up wrinkles and age spots.  This is going to be something I need to remember for any future profile pictures.

What struck me about the photo was how cute she looked with her long flowing red hair sporting a just perfectly worn cowboy hat.  I had a strong and sudden urge to run out and buy myself a cowboy hat. somehow though, I just don't think I could pull that off, so I'll have to settle with my really cute haircut that I got yesterday.

There is just something about venturing out and trying something new when you're 50 something.   There is almost an uncontrollable urge to make some major changes in your routine and maybe that has something to do with the old phrase "Midlife Crisis".  Buying a cowboy hat or just getting a new hair cut probably isn't the signs that a crisis is brewing on the horizon, but I'm way too scared of heights to try sky diving.

My life has had so many changes in the past 9 months that I wake up with my head still spinning.  I really never dreamed that I would find a time in my life when I could both 1. still see the canvas and 2. be able to spend my day applying paint to it.  Yesterday, I was at Hobby Lobby and I actually passed out 3 business cards to the employees that were admiring my recent sketches.  I didn't mention the 27 years I worked as an accountant because that is not who I am anymore.  That transition from Accountant to Artist was formed from personal crisis set in motion mainly by others, but 9 months on the other side, I'm so much better off because I AM AN ARTIST and that thrills me. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Taste of Summer" is now available

"Taste of Summer"- 18x24 Original Oil painting

I know that summer is here when I see those large bins of watermelon available at the grocery store.  I'm not talking about the sad selection that we had all winter, but piles of beautiful round, sweet melons.  Cutting into that first melon of the summer is pure joy. 

And of course what is summer without pitchers of fresh squeezed lemonade.  That frosty tangy sweetness is the answer to a hot summer afternoon and believe me when I say that in Las Vegas we know HOT! 

Yes, it is the fruit that I look forward to in the summer.  All winter we have endured a limited selection of apples, oranges and bananas but now we have beautiful berries and melons to add to our culinary delights.  I hope this painting makes you want to grab a straw and enjoy the "Taste of Summer".

This piece was painting in my Las Vegas studio.  The original is currently hanging at The City of the World Gallery at 1229 S. Casino Center Blvd where I have a number of my pieces hanging.  If your interested in the original you can contact me directly and if you would like to consider ordering a print you can find it available at

Blogging about my 2nd favorite subject-COFFEE

This morning I'm sitting here drinking my coffee and looking at this blank blog screen.  I was just considering how drinking McDonalds coffee in the morning is a long standing ritual with me that dates back to the late 90's when my favorite McDonalds handed me one day a little white sticker about 3x3 that might as well been made of 24k gold.  Oh I was there to pick up an order in the drive-thru but they gave me SO much more.  That sticker would soon become a prized possession because it would entitle me to to a free large cup of coffee (no purchase necessary) each and everytime I passed through the drive thru.

It didn't take long after sampling this free gift that the addicting effects of the caffeine took hold of my heart and my head.  Soon I was waking up each morning and yearning to partake in my morning beverage.  This habit deeply rooted went on for over a year when like the cliche, "all good things must come to an end" when on one hot summer evening my world was rocked as I became the victim of auto theft.  When I got that phone call from my son informing me that my car had been stolen out of the Office Max parking lot my first thought was "Oh NO!  My drive thru club sticker."  My second thought was of the old west and how horse theives (the ancestors of the modern car thief) were strung up on the nearest tree and I had an momentary urge to be transported back 100 years.

Long story short, my 89 Toyota Camry was recovered a month later and my drive thru club sticker was still clinging to the windshield.  When that McDonalds management finally stopped honoring my little sticker I was hopelessly addicted to their product and have purchased a cup nearly every morning since then.  My perfect vacation spot is when I realize that there is a McDonalds within walking distance of the hotel. I almost think Expedia should have that as a useful filter option along with price and stars they should include "the distance to the nearest McDonalds" available when sorting out hotels.  Maybe I will contact them next to suggest it to them.

Regardless of what my day will bring this blessed Wednesday morning, it is starting out good as long as my husband will keep my cup refilled in a timely manner.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

mARkeTing is Almost as Important as Painting

Holding my framed copy of the magazine

mARkeTing almost as important as painting itself and every once in a while I have to ask myself am I doing everything I can to get myself out there.   This thought is more on my mind since it has been over 3 months since I have sold anything.  I found this article online and was pleased to see that most of the 16 suggestions I am already doing but a refresher never hurts.

Many of the artists I have grown to know in my two years of claiming to be one know very little about self promotion and frankly don't take advantage of the technology that is out there so besides this article I thought I would share some of the things I have done recently.

1.  BLOG, BLOG, BLOG AND BLOG!-  This isn't as hard as it sounds because as you can see I'm writing a blog right now and I like to write.  Even if you just post your most current painting to share or write a few lines about that art show you are going to it is getting out there.  I feel that it is important for people to identify with you as the artist on a personal level and blogging is the best way to do that.  Do you like your cat or dog?  Do you live near a tourist area?  Do you like old ghost towns?  Find something that will make you stand out and use that to BRAND yourself.  I try to blog several times a week and I check my blog statistics almost daily to see how many hits I have.

2.  Get a Website-  I love as I found it to be easy to use and I think it looks pretty professional for a free site.  My website is and I would love it if you want to browse my site and even ask me questions about it.  I check my statistics almost daily and so far my daily record for page hits has been 100 just a few weeks ago on July 19th.  Sometimes there are only 15 and other days I might see 75.  I don't know what makes the difference but I do know that on an average my page hits continue to climb and that is a VERY GOOD thing!  Eventually I believe that activity will generate sales for me.

3.  Join a Local Group- I joined the Vegas Artist Guild nearly 3 years ago and even served a year as their treasurer.  I made valuable friendships and have a number of opportunities to show my work that I wouldn't otherwise have.  If you want to be an artist, then you have to rub shoulders and elbows with artists (even if they are covered in paint and smell like turpentine).  I know have joined several other groups and they all have a number of opportunities.

4.  I have a account-  This is site that allows me to upload my images and then serves as a place that the public can order prints or cards with my images.  FineArtAmerica takes care of all the details and they send you a commission check each month for those sales.  I check my visitors to this site daily and browse the artwork that has just sold to get a feel for what is selling out there.

5.  Join a Co-op Gallery-  I have been a part of the City of The World Gallery in Las Vegas since January.  I rent a wall space and have about 15 pieces hanging there.  Each month the community has an art event called First Friday and this is a great chance to talk to the public about your work.  I get many compliments and positive comments and eventually that will equal sales.  I have to believe that.  There is no room for negative thoughts when it comes to marketing so don't get discouraged.

6.  Have FUN!  Don't paint just for sales but rather let the sales come from painting what you like.  I have to admit that I have been painting several smaller works (8x10) with the hope that a $50 price tag will be easier to sell over a large (24x36) piece that I'm asking $300 for.  I might like to paint large pieces better but my little chickens have been a blast to paint and they are so much faster to finish.

7. Find your Niche- If your art involves a specific location or industry then try to think of venues that aren't necessary art related but see if there is an interest. Get Creative and just jot down anything that comes to mind and then start researching who to contact.   I did that recently and it worked out very well for me.  I'm interested in Nevada Ghost Towns and so often I will paint something that is either a mining ruin or at least a desert scene.  I had painted a prospector panning for gold and decided I would actually contact the magazine, Gold Prospectors and low and behold they decided to do an article on my painting.  That article appeared in the Mar/April edition and generated a great deal of interest in my work.  Who would have thought.
Image of the page 1 of 2 in the Mar/April 2013 edition of Gold Prospectors

Who knew I needed a Garage to Park my Palette...?

For sometime now I have been thinking how great it would be for me to find a strip of plastic that would allow me to lay out my paints on it that was separate from the area on my palette that I mix my colors. This would allow me to change out the butcher paper without having to lay out new colors or transfer the unused paint to the new surface. It would also be easier to store the paints in the freezer without putting the whole palette in there.

Well low and behold I was looking at a fellow artist Facebook page the other day and noticed that she had her paints clipped to her easel. So on closer examination I knew I had to find out what it was she was using. She shared with me the name of a wonderful product called the Palette Garage. I think it is exactly what I was thinking about and the amazing thing is that your paints will stay fresh at room temperature up to 6 weeks by using a drop of clove oil. Now I'm certain we are talking only about Oil paints but just think how easy that is to grab and store in your painting equipment. Don't have to worry about the paints getting on things. Seems to me to be more handy that the stay-wet palette that I'm trying to use now.

I'm planning on purchasing one in the next few weeks to give it a try and I thought I would share this information to any of my blog readers out there.

Check them out for yourself at: