Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cowbells Ring...Are you Listening?

So today I counted up all the cowbells I have sold in 2015 and I was blown away when I realized it equals 38 and I have a commission for 2 more that I'm working on currently.  That is amazing to me.  Who would have every thought!  That is a total of 40 cowbells not counting the couple I gave away as gifts. 

Brad got busy this week and prepared 6 more cowbells for me and so I'm putting away the canvases temporarily and am ready to paint some Christmas, Nativity and snow scene designs on them for the Holiday Seasons.  I can almost hear the faint sound of "Cowbells ring, are you listening?  In the Lane, Snow is glistening..."

You can check out some of my cowbell designs on my website or on my Cowbell Facebook page at Hand Painted Cowbells.  

I still believe that this hummingbird cowbell is my favorite

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Draw Where You Live

The other evening, I was inspired greatly while watching several YouTube videos on the subject of plien air painting.  Both of the artists featured in these videos are extremely successful and skilled artists. They are  Lori McNee and Jim McVicker.  I have signed up to take an online webinar with Lori McNee on the "Secrets of Social Media" and am very much looking forward to all that she has to share on that topic since I love blogging and FaceBook.

The video that Lori had filmed showed her painting a river scene that is just a couple miles from her home in Idaho.  She is there quickly catching the colors and lighting with her paints.    You can really see the scene unfolding as she works.  Right in the middle of her filming session, a moose comes wondering up the river like he wants to be a part of the painting.  I have experienced the thrill of seeing wildlife up close and seeing a moose while camping in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming was certainly a thrill.  I was immediately jealous of her ability to be surround my such amazing scenery with such a minimal effort."A Day in the Life of Lori McNee"

The video on Jim McVickers is actually a documentary on him as an artist.  It showed him traveling all over the rugged Northern California countryside painting from a variety of landscapes.  He never uses a reference photo but rather will return to the same location several days in a row or even up to a year later to capture the same lighting conditions.  The film showed several pieces as he started with just sketching roughly in paint and then immediately blocking in the canvas with vibrant colors.  The painting rapidly took shape as the camera man captured Jim working.  Jim McVicker "A Way of Seeing"

Being thoroughly inspired, I was determined to have a positive plein air experience of my own when yesterday when we decided to head out to the desert to do some 4x4 exploring.  I usually paint in acrylics but the air is so dry here that I struggle the whole time trying to keep my paints wet enough to even get it applied to the canvas so I packed my sketching box that includes my travel watercolor kit.    

With our lunch packed and some folding chairs thrown into the back of our old Toyota 4 Runner, my husband and I headed out to the hills.  The day was absolutely amazing.  We had an overcast sky and pleasant mild temperatures.  Usually the afternoon sun wears me out but there was a perfect blanket of clouds that allowed plenty of light but not the glare and radiation that you usually experience whenever you are out in the Southern Nevada desert.  

We did some exploring of some roads out near the area of Coyote Springs and while the scenery wasn't breathtaking and the wildlife we saw wasn't anything as impressive as having a moose walk past there was still something satisfying about sketching in nature.  I did see a couple lizards and a fuzzy tarantula spider that I guess can count as wildlife.  Now that it has finally cooled off enough here I will be heading out more often with my watercolor and pens to practice some plein air of my own.

My plein air sketch of some driftwood I found in the wash

Impressive desert wildlife

I always want to know what is at the end of every road I see.  Well this was the end of the road.

In my adventures that day we had to pass through a barbed wire fence.  My shirt didn't quite make it as you can see.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Freedom Comes with a Cost

As Veterans Day is approaching the gallery that I actively hang my artwork at is presenting a special exhibit in honor of our nation's veterans.  This piece is 8x10 but will be matted to 11x14 in time to entered into the show. I used pen and ink, watercolor and colored pencils to get the rich colors of the flag and purple heart.

This piece is special because it is a tribute to my husbands uncle.  For many years now I have had a photo of this young man in his military uniform hanging on display in our living room.  I always made a point to talk about him to my own sons on Memorial Day and Veterans Day so that they would remember that their grandmother had a brother that she loved dearly but would only live to see his 19th year.  His family didn't even know that he was in Europe when the telegram was delivered to the Kopriva Hardware Store in Powell Wyoming.  Bruce P. Kopriva was killed in action on July 18, 1944 in France. See more details at Bruce P. Kopriva (

"Freedom Comes with a Cost"- A tribute to all veterans and my husband's Uncle Bruce who died in WWII in France at only 19 years old.   I used his actual purple heart and dog tag as reference to do this piece.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fence Posts

Most of my childhood memories involve growing up near the small town of  Eldon, Missouri.  We lived in a very small mobile home positioned 1/2 mile down a country gravel road off Hwy 52 on 20 acres of wooded property.  20 acres is a goodly amount of land for any child to explore and have plenty of childhood adventures.  Our house was tiny, cramped and stuffy so I recall that I spent as much time as I could outside. I had my own clubhouse at the edge of the clearing that we call our backyard.  I loved spending time there.

Our property was fenced very much like shown here in my painting.  Old fence posts strung with 3 strands of barbed wire.  The line of fence posts that bordered the gravel road that accessed our property were always painted white because my mother liked everything in the front yard, including 3 feet of the base portion of many of the trees, recycled rubber tire planters, well house, porch and our swing set all shining under many layers of white paint.  I think she would have had me paint all the rocks in the driveway if she had thought about it. 

The rest of the fence posts that separated our property from Old Man Shulte's pasture were left to succumb to the elements and slowly decay giving way to the character of the wood.  Knots and flaws in the wood probably go unnoticed by most but in this piece I wanted to show how this post still is standing strong enough to be home to many growing things.  Strong enough to still create that a barrier between the field and their grassy home.

This new painting I've just completed reminds me of home.  In the summer everything about Missouri is dominated with the color green.  There is just so much vegetation there and living in that vegetation is vast number of small creatures living their lives out in the search of food and trying not to become food themselves.  I call this piece, "Life at the Fence Post" and it is 36x24 inches and painted in acrylic.

If you like my work then please click on the link above called gallery or visit my website at

Monday, October 12, 2015

I Would Much Rather Paint Snow than Shovel it!

First Light

This piece was absolutely a joy to create.  I can honestly say that I love painting snow, I love looking at pictures of snow but I have never been a great fan of being out in it.  I'm pretty sure there are times as a little girl growing up in the Missouri Ozarks that I experienced some childhood enjoyment from the cold wet stuff.

Getting to enjoy a SNOW DAY would probably top that list.  We would have school cancelled because the vast network of gravel roads in Miller County were too dangerous to travel when they were covered with snow and ice.  Sledding was also a lot of fun and I can remember that perfect hill between my neighbor, Donna Wood and her brother Don's house.  What a thrill to fly across the snow and end up rolling into a snow bank.  I also have great memories of building a snowman with my grandmother on her front lawn in Swedeborg, Missouri.

 I have ZERO experience driving in the stuff and find dealing with it stressful and exhausting.  I think it has only snowed in Las Vegas maybe 4 or 5 times in the 38 years that I have lived here.  After all I was only 16 when I moved here and so I have never had to deal with it on a daily basis.

This piece maybe small but the colors are impacting as well as eye catching.  In the right frame, this piece can easily become a focal point in any room.  If you are interest in seeing more of my work, then please click on the gallery tab above or visit my website at

I also think this piece makes an amazing shower curtain or throw pillow.  You can order prints or accessories at my Fine Art America Site

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Getting Your Art OUT of the Studio

This past week I got to enjoy a great afternoon in historic Boulder City yesterday at their annual ART IN THE PARK event.  While I wasn't at the actual event, I did get to set up my artwork outside the Boulder Dam Hotel.  It is a real pleasure of mine to be a part of such an amazing gallery and am blessed by the friendships I have made among this group of exceptional artists.  There is some real talent at the Boulder City Art Gallery!

While I could have chalked the day up as a failure because I didn't make any sales, I think it is good to get your art out of the studio and experience sunshine and fresh air.  The Nevada sun has a way of burning away all the brain cobwebs and get your creative juices flowing.  I can't wait to start a new painting today.  

Here I am standing in front of all my newest pieces.  With the exception of the bottom framed piece, these were all painted in the past two weeks.