Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Just Paper and a Pencil

Well....there might be some ink involved and of course it's not just one pencil but rather a set of colored pencils but you get the idea.  I do love the freedom that colored pencils and a sketchbook affords me as an artist.  With very little effort you can enjoy creating a beautiful piece of art without hauling a suitcase full of supplies, easel and canvas around with you.  It affords you the ability to be discrete and yet at the same time i you can draw plenty of attention to yourself as an artist if you so choose.

I thought I would share a few of my most recent sketches that I have done in an effort to begin building a portfolio of such with the future goal of perhaps getting some illustration work or to have some of them perhaps licensed.  I know it is a stretch but you have to start somewhere and the research I have done so far says to take 3 to 6 months to build a portfolio of ideas before you start sending them out to potential clients.

These particular pieces are going to get framed this week and be on display for the First Friday event next week at City of the World Gallery in Downtown Las Vegas. I love the energy of First Friday and I'm really looking forward to seeing the response I receive from the public regarding my little drawings. You can be assured that I will be sharing in future blogs about that exact thing in the near future.

If you are in Las Vegas this next week, please consider stopping by and checking out the art.  City of the World is an amazing gallery full of many art styles and genre.  You are sure to find something to love.

Think Big

You Stole My Heart

Enjoy a Good Book

Monday, January 25, 2016

Finally! I Got To Do Some ART This Week.

I stayed a pretty busy artist this weekend.  After battling several bouts of different kinds of flu at the beginning of the month and visiting a hospitalized family member it felt good to let my creative self be in charge for a change.

Friday, I fulfilled my galley sitting duty at the Boulder City Art Gallery.  I'm pretty sure the co-op gallery scene is where many artist find their start and I'm currently involved in two different galleries.  I love the Boulder City Gallery because everything is neat, orderly and the walls are filled with really nice art.  We just had a change out of artwork so everything was new and fresh and it was just a real pleasure to be there.

Saturday, I gave my first painting lesson of 2016.  My two young students are in the middle of painting eagles that they started back around the first of November.  We spent the entire hour lesson just working on the details in their eagle feathers.

The student area of my studio-Everything laid out and ready for their lesson

There was also plenty of time on Saturday and Sunday for me to work on my own piece.  I blogged the other week about this piece and have posted several progression photos along the way.  Sorry for the blurry cell phone photo but I will post high resolution pictures when I get the piece finished.    I'm still working my way around the canvas on the small details and at 24 x 36 inches this is by far the largest cow I have painted.  Painting large adds a level of difficulty because the details have to be so exaggerated to be convincing.  I've got things pretty well blocked in with the composition and am happy with the addition of the "Momma Jersey cow" complete with her licking her nose.    I plan on add some wildflowers in the foreground and of course the barbed wire but that will be when I am finished with the morning glories and these cute bovines.  

Current Work in Progress- # 3 in my Country Life Series

I was excited to hear that my piece that I call "First Light" sold yesterday to a wonderful couple visiting the Boulder City Art Gallery.  I was told they knew right away when they saw it that they wanted to buy it.  It is a small 11 x 14 acrylic piece but it thought it turned out to be impacting.  I guess they thought so too.

Sold this piece yesterday at the Boulder City Art Gallery

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Just a Little Cowboy and His Dog

The years have just flown by and I find it hard to believe that it has been 8 amazing years since my entrance into the grandmother club.  I started just over a year ago creating a special birthday sketch for each of my grandchildren for their birthday.  Usually they consist of  a matted 5x7 ink and colored pencil sketch of themselves or something special to celebrate their special day. Sometimes I have even included a special poem.    As I draw, I make a habit of praying for each of them and asking God to bless their year, protect their family and bring them to a saving knowledge of His love and sacrifice.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending the whole day out in Boulder City at the art gallery there fulfilling my co-op responsibilities.  It is a lovely gallery and I find that it is a perfect place to bring my sketchbook and draw between customers.  I had only penciled a rough outline of what I had in mind for my grandson's birthday sketch.  Mom had sent me a picture of him trying on a cowboy hat that was just adorable so after I settled in at the gallery I pulled out my sketchbook and got started finishing my the sketch shown below.

 I really like how this little sketch turned out of Gavin and his dog Bella and I think he will like it too. Let me know what you think and if you're interested in seeing more of my work, please check out my website at  

8 years old- Happy Birthday Gavin!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Start of my First Painting for 2016

I know the month is half over and I'm just now starting my first painting of 2016.  Seems a bit out of character for me but things have been very hectic.  I started out the year with some sort of respitory virus that really caused me to slow down and then last week I have the start of an ongoing family medical emergency that is requiring daily trips to the hospital.  I also know that the more hours you spend in the hospital your chances of catching some sort of sickness goes up exponentially and so for a second time this month I found myself once again on the sick bed.  So even with the best laid plans to make 2016 my ART YEAR, I'm here on January 21st and not having much to show creatively for the past few weeks.

I was able to add one sketch in my artistic journal while waiting in the hospital surgery waiting room.  I drew a jersey calf because I plan to start a painting.  Sketching details that you plan to add as components in your composition help you to understand the subject and also help you paint it with more accuracy.  This little sketch is only with graphite pencils and a little black ink but my other recent cow sketches are done using Prismacolor colored pencils.

After completing these two renderings, I decided that I really liked how the soft brown of the Jersey calf rather than the little holster looked against the blue of the morning glories.  So a Jersey cow it is with his big brown eyes and soft brown fur.  Now that I have actually started the painting on a 24x36 canvas and am painting it vertically for the emphasis on height, I have decided to add the mother cow to the composition.  I only have her roughly sketched in with a white pastel pencil but I think there was just going to be way too much blank space without her.  This piece is just roughly blocked in at this point and if I can stay healthy long enough I hope to make real progress on it this weekend.  I will share some progress photos of the work in my future blog posts so please keep check back.

If you like my work and would like to see more, check out my website at  Also consider leaving a comment below.  I would love to hear from you.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Is There Such a Thing as Creative Accounting?

I was driving past a well known tax preparation business today and I noticed that they had a vast number of colorful swooper flags, small yard signs and their signature green colored helium filled balloons waving in full glory for all passing vehicles to see.  You know I actually worked for that company for the past two tax seasons but following the end of 2015 tax season, I decided to take a part-time accounting job at a local real estate office instead.  It's this time of the year that those of us that have an accounting call on our lives begin to get REAL busy!

I'm not trying to stereotype any portion of the population but it has been my experience that most creative individuals are not always the most detail individuals.  They are more what I would call free spirits.   I on the other hand, possess  both the ability to create and appreciate art and balance a mean checkbook.  Just not at the same time.  

Accounting has always been a "CREATIVENESS SUCKER" in my life and for 30 years I let that skill dominate my thinking.  Painting was nothing more than a faded memory of something I knew I could do or at least I hoped I could still do.  A couple of pieces, created in high school have always hung on the walls of my house as a testimony to dispel any doubters but my paints were packed away and mostly dried and useless somewhere on a shelf.  

Please don't misunderstand me because being an artist is also being a self-employed businessman or woman.  I keep all my financial records for my art activity and have separate business account so that there is no CO-MINGLING of funds.  I have created a spreadsheet I have developed to track all my revenues and expense.  I can tell you the exact dollar amount of my arts sales for the year that came from cowbells, art lessons or painting sales.  This is an important part of being a successful artist, so many of you may struggle in this area but for me this is a skill that I have much practice in.

It's been over 5 years now since I started painting again with a "PASSION".  I regret the time I wasted not developing my skills as an artist but I can't change the past.  I can only pursue the future with all the strength I can muster.  I can't make the time I must spend doing accounting creative time but I can certainly make sure that I have set aside plenty of time to be creative.

Here are two watercolor and pen sketches I did as part of a series that I jokingly called "Confessions of a Recovering Accountant" to show that no longer was the analytical part of my brain in charge of all my time.  By the way, if you like my work and would like to see my website please visit me at and I would be thrilled if you would leave me a comment below.  Do you relate to my struggle of being both right and left brained or maybe you have a tax question as an artist?  I would love to hear from you.

"Creative Finance"

"Right Brain versus Left Brain"

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Enjoy the Process

A very common question asked to an artist is "How long does it take you to paint that?"  Mostly because the person standing there in front of you likes your work and feels the need to engage you as the artist but has no clue about the painting process so it is the first question that comes to their mind.  I have many times explained that I paint quickly but that I don't paint for long periods of time, so a 24 x 36 may take me a week to finish off and on where I can paint a 12x16 in one evening.  I usually then mention that is my main reason I like acrylics over oils and that if I'm painting in oils I have to be working on 3 pieces at the same time because the drying time makes me crazy impatient.  I would take a certain amount of pride in this fact.  Like the fact that I can paint fast made me stand out as an artist.

There is certainly a difference in painting fast and being prolific.  Prolific painting leads to proficiency while painting fast may only lead to stacks of mediocre artwork. After 5 years I think that I'm beginning to get it.  I've read over and over that sketching out the composition is a vital step, not to be skipped but skipping was exactly what I would do.  Please don't think that I'm saying that I think everything I have painted is junk, but I think often the struggles I get myself into with a composition might not have happened if I had taken more time to plan out the work.  

So this is my "Year of Art" and I'm dedicating myself to slowing down and enjoying the process involved with creating art and writing this blog.  So with that in mind, I thought I would share with you what I've been thinking about for my next painting.  A few months back I started what I saw in my mind a series of artwork that focused on my memories of the country childhood I was blessed to have being raised in Central Missouri.  When I think of one color that best describes my memories of Missouri, it would be GREEN.  Green was everywhere you looked most of the year.  A canopy above and several layers of undergrowth that covered all those hills.  Unlike it's neighboring state of Kansas, the thick forest and many hills would obscure your view.  I would often think that a tornado would be right on top of you before you could even see it coming.

I think that is why I painted the background on both "Life at the Fence Post" and "Lunch Under the Mailbox" in a solid green tone that kept the focus on the foreground.  I don't think that I will treat each piece in this series this way, but I am still loving how these two turned out.

For my third piece I want to continue with the fence post, morning glories and a definite grass line that shows the black, rich and fertile dirt that covers much of the state. I want a calf standing in the tall grass and wild flowers that is looking straight at you through the barbed wire.  I'm considering a chicken or a quail at the grass edge looking for a bug breakfast.  

In preparation of the start of this new piece, I have created two sketches so far.  Both have helped me greatly when thinking about how I want this painting to look when I am finished.  There are still questions that I still have to consider.  For example, which breed of calf do I like better, the Jersey or the Holstein?  What other wildlife if any do I want to include?  Do I continue with the solid green background or do I try to add sky and distant hills to this one?  It is obvious that I need to keep that sketch pad close by. 

I would love to hear from you and please visit my website to see a complete collection of my work.

Life at the Fence Post

Lunch Under the Mailbox

Renderings for my next painting

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Standing At the Door and What Do You See?

"Door Way to the Past"- 18x24 Acrylic Painting

I painted this piece a few years back and I have always liked how it turned out but this year it is taking on a completely new meaning to me.  Initially my focus for painting this piece was for us to LOOK BACK into history and that is why I titled the piece "Doorways to the Past".  This old shack, like so many that can be found scattered all over the state are reminders of the miners and ranchers that endure untold hardships to settle the west.  I wanted to have each viewer consider what it must have been like to look out through that doorway and for them to consider the harshness of the Nevada desert and the difficulties and hardships these unnamed pioneers faced as they tried to eke out an existence.  Today, all that are left are the ruins and crumbled structures and a weathered headstone standing as a testimony to their struggles, trials and forgotten lives.

But today, with this NEW YEAR,  I look at this piece I am seeing it now from a completely different perspective.  The doorway is our past and I am standing there LOOKING FORWARD to the path that is the path of our future.  We can choose to live there in the ruins of our past mistakes, regrets, guilt and broken relationships.  We can let these things control our lives, hold us back and stunt our potential or we can choose to step through the threshold and follow that path the leads to our future.  Too often we don't realize how much of a prisoner our past makes us be.  Even if our lives are not full of bad choices and regret we can still be a prisinor.  Maybe the doorway represent comfort boundaries and complacancy that holds us back from living that full joyful life that God has planned for us.  I can see that path heading off into the horizon, can you?  It is clearly visible through the rocks, scrub brush and cactus that cover the desert floor but we are so blinded by the baggage we carry that weighs us down that we can't see it.

That reminds me of that moving song by Dara Maclean called "Suitcases".
How can you move when they're weighing you down?
What can you do when you're tied to the ground, yeah?
You carry your burdens heavy like gravity
Just let them go now, there's freedom in release

You can't run when you're holding suitcases
It's a new day, throw away your mistakes
And open up your heart, lay down your guard
You don't have to be afraid
An artist friend of mine shared with me her verse for 2016 and I thought it went along with this blog post and so I thought I would share Isaiah 43:19 with you today..."See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland."

There's the doorway and all you have to do is to take a small step over the threshold.  That is my plan for 2016.  Living more by faith, getting stronger, drawing closer to God, serving and sharing about the love of my Savior with more boldness and throwing myself into my art.  What is it you want to do?  

Go on....OPEN that door that holds you back!  You can't change your past....only the future.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


Little Bird nest we found in our back yard 
Just recently my husband was doing some much needed yard work in our back yard.  This included the difficult task of trimming a rather large mesquite tree that we planted a few years back.  Mesquites are popular native desert tree but they can be a maintenance monster.  Complete with giant thorns and the tendency to grow such a thick canopy that they often become top heavy and are easily toppled by our frequent high winds.

He and his many chain saws played lumber jack and laid waste to the branches and very soon our back yard was covered with the handiwork of his labors.  It was there among the branches that he noticed a birds nest remarkably unharmed as it lay there covered in debris.  I thought this little nest would be a nice addition to our Christmas tree so I took it and laid it on the branches.

I took note of some of the materials that this unknown bird had worked so hard to gather and weave to create a home for her family.  There were leaves and twigs which would be expected as building material but I also found what appeared to be pieces of twine added to the collection.  It made me think about a scene in a movie that was a favorite that I would watch with my kids as they were small.  "Sarah Plain and Tall"  Actress, Glen Close while playing the main character of Sarah had just cut the hair of young Caleb and she gathers his hair and tosses it around the yard so the birds can make nests from his curls.  I too was the family barber and always remembered that scene when I would sweep my boys very beautiful blonde hair out into the yard.  I would think about what pretty nests the birds will soon have in my trees.

The twine in the nest made me think about if a bird might use a piece of colorful string for nesting material.  They probably wouldn't be attracted to red string as it might draw too much attention to their nest but I thought that using this idea would make a great subject for a new sketch that I wanted to share with you.

I drew a little chickadee that was busy gathering grass and twigs for a nest when he comes across a large ball of red string.  Often in life we are faced with decisions that may seem out of character and we often choose the safe route.  That is definitely a description of how I have most often made decisions.  I am an accountant after all.  As an artist though, I find myself in the same place as this little bird and I'm ready to start casting off the safe and predictable in 2016 and push myself to a new level with my art and this blog...I think it's time to  drop the twigs and grass and THINK BIG!

Think Big

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Start of Something Big....

So as part of my Year Of Art in 2016, I want to create a portfolio of sketches.  Don't worry, I will continue to paint on canvases and cowbells,  but I want to develop my skills in the illustration arena.  I've been reading a number of articles about getting your art licensed and this thought excites me. The one e-book suggests that you take 3-6 months and develop a portfolio of ideas so that you can share them with potential companies that buy art for licensing.  I will make a little confession here that a secret dream of mine for years has been to have my art published on a Leaning Tree card so art licensing has been a goal of mine long time.

The last several days I have been a bit under the weather, so yesterday I brought all my drawing supplies out of the studio and arranged them near the sofa and the warmth of the wood stove.  I spent a good portion of the day drinking hot tea, watching movies, drawing and trying to stay warm.  The result of these efforts is a little 5x7 sketch that I'm calling "Take the Time to Enjoy a Good Book".  I think this idea has potential to make a cute card.

"Take Time to Enjoy a Good Book"- 

So my first sketch for my portfolio is almost finished.  I need to decide if I should do something to the background at this point.  I don't want to distract from the book but if I put a light color for the background then the book might actually stand out more.  It a lot of light colors so I can see a beige watercolor wash perhaps.

Here are some other recent drawings I have done for my darling grandchildren for their birthdays. I'm trying to create a unique piece of art for each grandchild as part of their birthday gift from me.  I never liked buy cards from the rack and so I thought it would be much better if I tried to create them something special.  These are the three 3 year old grandchildren and I had so much fun turning them each into little cartoon characters.

JoJoda....The Force is Strong With This One!
Katherine- and her "Lovely Lime Green Tutu"

"It's a Bird, It's a It's Super Noah"