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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Figurative work

Just trying to catch up on a few emails (200 I saved for later in the past few weeks). I've had a conversation with several of my arty friends about 'Figurative' as opposed to 'Portraiture'. Somehow I had figured it out all by myself to mean something totally different than what Katherine Tyrrell says in her blog.

I had tried to discuss this with Kippy Hammond one day...and failed miserably. My definition was that portraiture was of a child in a hand-smocked dress or little button on shorts, white dress shoes, halo of light behind their head...or a supreme court justice in his robes...Figurative in my mind was a profile of an attitude, or the impressionistic nude's back, or a casual people scene.

Boy, was I ever wrong according to Katherine! Must do some more study on this...


Saturday, August 30, 2008

International Artists and Reconnecting with Old Friends

Charles Reid will be here in Rogers, AR in October! Randy and I 'threw a dart' at an International Artist's Magazine workshop schedule way back in 2005. Sorry, Charles, but we did not know you. We picked you because you were in Italy.

3 weeks of pampering, connecting with Charles and his wonderful wife, Judy...meeting Dibbie (debbie in US speak) from New Zealand, Sylvain (and her spiderman hi-top converse) from Hong Kong, Mary from Canada, Eileen from Chicago, Frank and Jean from Australia. When you are with an international group, and are aware of not being 'princess and the pea' like some workshop attendees, your experience is compounded 10 fold.

From breakfast (everyone stays in the same hotel), to a short bus ride to a plein air location (in Italy on the Amalfi Coast, that was an experience in itself)...putting your 'limited' plein air gear on your shoulder and hiking up a cobblestone switchback one-lane road to a village square where buses are not get a rude awakening about 'plein-air' and 'minimal gear'. Then back to the hotel, a swim in the Mediterranean, critiques with drinks, dinner together, and get up the next morning and do it again. Torture, Not!

We joined Charles and Judy the next year in Salzburg and Prague...and guess what? Dibbie, Mary, Sylvain, Frank, Jean, Charles and Judy were all together again with 4 of Sylvain's good friends from Hong Kong. It is SO cool to get those frequent calls from Hong Kong! International Artists! I'm lucky, to have subscribers to my blog all over the world...

Things just keep getting better and better! Randy and I have been planning this upcoming workshop with Charles Reid here for over 2 years...we had to wait a year to get on his schedule, and it was a year out! The minute it went up on his website in October 2007, it was full by December 2007! We have several artists on a wait list, just waiting for someone to drop out.

BUT, that is not the point of this edition...early in the sign-up for Chuck's workshop, I was doing the predictable spreadsheet on the people chomping at the bit to be first in line. #14 on the list was a hauntingly familiar name...James Buchan. Tulsa, OK.

I knew that name sounded familiar...emailed him and asked if he was the Jim Buchan who married my Big Sister, Karen from my sorority (Alpha Delta Pi) at the UofA in the late 60's. Yeah, you thought I was 30...LOL!

He called the next morning, and WAS! We re-established a 33 or so year old relationship...we had lost touch in 1973 or so...he and Karen are still married, raised 3 children...and he is a watercolor artist. The 4 of us arranged our schedules, they drove over from Tulsa to re-connect. I was as nervous as a skunk-cat on a hot-tin roof! would have rather taken a beating than go through with this...what if we had nothing in common!

However, they called around noon, and were having lunch at an old college hang-out, the 'D-Lux' on Dickson Street...having a burger (thank god not vegetarian) drinking beer and wine (thank double they aren't teetoterlers). Yeah, I spelled that wa-wrong.

When they pulling in the parking lot at Poor Richard's Art (my co-op gallery in Rogers), it was as if 30 years disappeared. We didn't miss a beat on conversation...Randy met us at our house, Jim had all kinds of art books to share, and they brought us two photos of ME as bridesmaid in their WEDDING...with BLEACHED blonde hair...all of 20 years old!

We went to PF Changs for an early AARP dinner...and suddenly they were gone.

But, the connection was forged. Jim and Karen invited us to their golf course home in Tulsa for a 'paint-out' last weekend. Turns out that Jim has painted since he was in high school, and has studied watercolor for over 20 years with a couple of AWS instructors. He has also taken several extended workshops with Nita Engle.

When I was encouraged to take up painting a few years ago, I thought I could 'teach myself' with the help of I had taught myself everything else I had ever done. I went to Hobby Lobby and sat in the floor as I picked out a book on watercolor instruction. I chose Nita Engle's book on 'Watercolor, Paints itself'. Yeah, right. Anything is possible? Gather the finger on the book, one hand on the paper and brush...OK, I quit that...not quite like teaching yourself needlepoint. Fast foward 4 years...Jim planned our 'mini-workshopt' exquisitely around Nita's book. We arrived at their house, he had the paper stretched, and the lesson plan organized...After we did the first stages (yeah, Randy and I are somewhat experienced, thank you Charles)...we had time to go to their club and drive the cart with Karen while Jim did a 9-hole tournament...then dinner out...then this am, we finished the 2nd stages of our paintings.

SO, thank you Charles...thank you International Artist Magazine...doors open with wonderful 'stuff' every life is kinda like a candy box, ya never know what you are going to get...but it is always sweet if your attitude is right!

painting buddies, world-class teachers, college connections (Karen was the house organizer for our sorority and her perk was to assign rooms that changed every 6 weeks or so)...she picked me for a roomie more on than off for 2 years...someone liked me! I am so glad to have that memory back.

Wonder what next week is going to bring? I can't wait...Katy, unbar the door, here I come!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's ME, back in the saddle again!

Amazing how quickly I can get out of the habit of posting! I really enjoy it while I'm on a 'roll', but now that it has been over 2 weeks, I'm finding it hard to figure out what to talk about. What do I have to say of interest? So, to get started again, here is a brief announcement about the show.

Last week could not have been any better! Mr. DeMille arrived in Rogers, AR on Monday, Aug 18 for THE  WORKSHOP. When he flew out on Sunday, he forgot his phone charger AND THE MAGIC PAINT TUBE! Randy tried to convince him that it would be cheaper to buy new parts than to FedEx this one, (grin) but it was FedEx'ed to him on monday. The next thing I know it is today, Thursday Aug 28...He and Randy didn't even have time for that golf game!

Coordinating his judging the Ozark Pastel Society Show, a bonus demonstration, professional filming of all demos, 18 students, over 50 non-students who paid to watch from the back of the room, AND still managed to get a dribble of painting time during the workshop time. One of our club members, Julie Mayser surprised us with an oven-ready casserole for one night, it was yummy! One of the models, Brian Troop and his wife Susan  invited Les, Randy, me and a couple other friends to their house for dinner on Saturday night after the Opening Reception of THE SHOW!

Mr. Les judged 'blind' (yeah, blindfolded, he touched each frame...LOL), asked for a sticky note over each signature. This is SUCH a great idea and I hear it is being done on the West Coast all the time. Not only does prevent the judge from picking (or not) a familiar artists' name, but it allows the judge to consider each painting on its own merit. As he explained to the crowd, every juror brings to the table his/her own personal preferences in color usage, composition, technique, and, yes, even framing. You'd never get 2 judges to agree on the same paintings for recognition.

If an artist entered a category with multiple entries (every artist has a strong category...portrait, landscape, etc) and had different subject matter, composition, sizes, they had more opportunity to be considered for more than one award.

I was SO good for the past few months not to post any of my entries, because I did not want to compromise anyone...BUT, I was thrilled to be judged in this manner by Mr. DeMille and win 4 awards out of 17, 104 entries.

So, now I can show 'em (the paintings)!

"ME", self-portrait, First Place Miniatures

"Eyes For You", 2nd Place Portrait & Figurative
20x24" $895

"Barflies", 3rd Place Portrait & Figurative

"Rowdy Red" Honorable Mention Portrait & Figurative
11x14, SOLD

That's All Folks...until next time! I have some great tips and ideas for artists who do workshops...keep tuned!


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Things Are Great in my Art World!

Today was the entry process for the annual Ozark Pastel Society show, judging by Mr. Leslie B. DeMille of Sedona, AZ and WORLD. We had a record 104 paintings...pretty good turnout for 34 or so artists.

Reba Cole is a STAR, always on top of paperwork and details, and Sharp as a Tack. She has been indispenable (whooie, can't spell tonight). Mucho fun to work with. All volunteer organizations are lacking people like Reba...those who are willing to do whatever it takes to make events happen, without whining, without looking for personal recognition.

Next week will be a blur. The Apple Blossom Retirement community has been great! Providing their community room for our use, snacks, publicity, and anything they can think of.

We have 46 reservations for 4 demos...a fabulous response for such a quickly organized workshop...all for Mr. Leslie BeeDee!

Just finished watching Phelps win his world record race to win his 8th gold. Teamwork. Beating the odds. Can't do it without a team.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

WHAT AN ART DAY! and self-portrait

With a HUGE workshop coming up next week with Leslie B. DeMille, I did one of my days at my art cooperative, Poor Richard's Art in Rogers, AR. We had a steady stream of people today.
Bill, wife of one of the owners (yeah, ya heard me right) solid as a to be with, and a good judge of character. I love being in the shop with him. We have so much fun with customers..harassing them, playing like we don't even like each other...firing each other...and the customers LOVE it.
Bill fell in love with one of my paintings of a Black Woman I named 'Attitude'. It was from a photo Randy took while we were on our vacation (?) in CapeTown, South Africa the first xmas after our bad stuff. (if you don't know about our bad stuff, you'll just have to search the web about it).

Anyway, Bill was always attracted to this painting because it reminded him of a woman who helped caretake him and his siblings with good homecooked food and appropriate discipline. He always talks about how much he is drawn to this painting. Even today after he bought it and it was hanging in their house.

I told him I had done a self-portrait and he wanted to see that.

SO, I took the SP in today and had show 'n tell. Put it on a counter where I was working on the silverpoint of the statue in France (see previous blog). Forgot about i sitting on the countert.

Now HERE is the story. A customer and family came in and loved the shop. Mom and Pop and the 2 sons absorbed every artist in the shop. As is the custom, when offered a complimentary soft drink or fancy coffee, Mom accepted. She had already visited with the others working in the shop...but for some reason kept surepticiously (that is sneaky in arkansas-talk and I'm too lazy to look it up) at me. We chitchattyed a minute or 2, and she moved on down the aisle.

She burst out laughing, at herself. Caught my eye and said she had just had a blonde moment. I asked why, and she said she was trying to figure out why I looked so familiar, where she knew me from...and then realized she had seen my self-portrait earlier in their visit!

Made MY day! guess I caught my likeness.

If ya are lucky, I'll post a photo tomorrow...

ps: visit one of my fav blogs here

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Let The Games Begin and being a Workshop Director

Man, for a lazy person, I've managed to REALLY set myself up this time! I am a real creative thinker, and a great executionist (executioner?) (head cutter offer?) BUT...I enjoy some down time. Well, OK, alot of down time.

This week I have had something every day. Tons of final details for the DeMille workshop here next week. Have hired and organized professional lighting/filming/projection of the 12 hours of demos, received the donated easel and supplies (thank you Jack Richeson), thrilled the residents of Apple Blossom Retirement Center with having the event inside their community building...and figuring out how to allow them to view the demos...working with scheduling 7 model sessions...(clothed, for the people who asked me today)

Add to that, getting my show entries polished and framed for that deadline on Saturday (Mr. Les will judge the show on Tuesday).

Just as I was feeling at the first of the week like I couldn't paint worth a diddly squat, I got an email from a local artist (actually a world-class artist who happens to live here) who has resumed teaching. We 'interviewed' each other today (HA! I flatter me...he was doing the check-out) and I was very pleased to have a student spot offered. More on this saga as it unfolds. Remember, I'm lazy? A SCHEDULE? 9am-4 every Saturday? AARGH!

My skill level has grown by leaps and bounds in the last year, and even though I have been selective with my 'tutors', a few weeks after an intensive study I feel me slipping and the old lack of confidence creeping back in. Even when my local critique group gave me kudos today (and being aware how brutal they can be when necessary), lack of confidence is a subtle creeper, always just beyond the veil, you always question, make excuses! 

My favorite threat these days is to go back to piano...nothing can be harder than painting. And I was a classical pianist at 16. No surprise, but I didn't feel it was a talent, just an ADD personality who could sit still and practice 4-5 hours a day. Thought it was a skill, not talent. Anyone could do it. What a baby I was, I'm sure there was no emotion in my playing...I did love Beethoven, though...what 16 year old can really feel his music and perform it with emotion?

Do the whispers ever go away? If they go away, do you lose your edge? Can you ever knock that little curmudgeon off your shoulder who whispers bad things in your ear? Or just sing LA-LA-LA-LA to drown his little ass out.

Quite possibly, my progress will be slower in the future? Does 'Progress' slow with time spent at the easel? 

Maybe this is why some writers use fake names? So if a project is bad they can have distance from it? Or they can write trailer trash tomes and enjoy scads of money? OOPS, one stars (socially acceptable one to four stars). Me Bad.

Kinkade anyone? Wonder if he ever wishes he had used another name for his scads of money-grubbing art, and kept his real name for his wonderful en plein air work? If you've never seen it, look it up. 


Friday, August 8, 2008

Things that Made Me Smile this am and blogs that help us stay in touch

The weather is FINE in Northwest Arkansas this morning. My life is FINER. Sitting on my back deck listening to the birds and watching golfers...the waterfall in the pool is splashing...just wish I could paint a picture of how nice it feels. Durinda says you can't paint a feeling, but just maybe, babé! My view...the coffee tastes great.

My mom used to tell me that I never saw dirty windows because I focused on what was beyond the windows. Guess what, mom? I haven't changed. As I am training my artist's eye, I stare at people and look for that little triangle of light below their eye and think about how I would paint him/her. Sometimes when driving I have to force me to pay attention to the road and not stare at the sky and ponder what pigments would make that glorious color. I feel like a giant sponge soaking up all these techniques and studies...just ready to explode with the best art I've done yet. (of course, for the most part I think every piece of art is better than the ones before because I'm learning so much and practicing every day).

Got a new blog today from an artist I barely crossed paths with last year. I really wanted our paths to converge a bit longer because I learned much from her teaching. Theresa Rankin is so wise and has great quotes. She ain't a bad painter, neither!

Anyway, I'm off to the studio...check out Theresa's blog at

I added her to my favorite blogs and have subscribed so I don't miss a single one of hers.

Now, off to 'work' if you can call it that!

vicki aka Red

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Revisit an old friend...working on a 'good start'

I've not been very regular lately with the blog. Been working on the upcoming Ozark Pastel Society's annual show workshop with Leslie B. DeMille. Can't very well post any progress paintings if I have a notion of entering them into the show for his judging.
And I am working on a commission portrait for a surprise, and if I post much about that it won't be a surprise! So, this topic came up when seeing it rekindled my curiosity.
The wonders of a digital age...I have over 15,000 photos on my laptop. I never know what photo is going to catch my eye, some I've painted, some I've started. Each is a memory from France, Italy, Prague, Salzburg, CapeTown, Frankfurt, and my own backyard.
Sometimes a pattern of lights and darks jumps out at me from a photo that I've looked at a million times before. Some I have felt like saving until I had more mastery of my skills.
And the subject of today's post, my foray into my continual study of art techniques. This one intrigued me to the point that after receiving my materials I scurried into the studio and sponged some gold acrylic onto a gesso board. Not very well thought out, but at least I had the good sense to keep the acrylic out of the area of my subject.
The circumstances that yielded this photo were interesting, and just chance. While on my first workshop retreat with Kippy in France, we jumped in the car late one afternoon with Jeanette Martin and found a good en plein air spot. We set up in the shade next to an old building. While we were painting, a local resident came out and started talking with Kippy. From all I could understand, she might have been asking us to move on. Actually she was offering us entrance to the little building. Inside was a shrine of sorts, containing 2 exquisite sculptures. This is one of them. And if I could speak French, I might remember the name of the sculptor...a native son of this tiny village who donated these sculptures to honor the village.
The technique? Silverpoint. Yup. Leonardo, Rubens, Ross. Actually this drawing went so well (in 2006) that I scared me into putting it down. I'm kinda like Fanny Brice (remember Streisand in Funny Girl)? Jump in the deep end of the pool holding your nose. Visit for lots of info.

Even carried it with me when I went back to Kippy's in February 2007. Had it propped up in my kitchen and saw it every day. What scared me (other than fear of screwing it up) is the awareness that once you make a mark on the board, it is not removable. Permanent. No erasing. It is there to stay. Also, you learn quickly to do your darkest darks first, cause they are only about a 6 or 7 on the value scale. No black blacks. Cool thing is that the silver tarnishes with time. You can use gold and copper too, but silver was historic.

For some reason, maybe a sense of needing the control (OCD?) and tiny bitty-ittle marks, I picked it back up last week and took it to my day of shop-keeping at Poor Richard's Art, my local gallery. Bill (owner's husband and manager) about had a fit over it.

Anyway, I feel a bit more confident with it now. I may even have a customer for it. Just have to figure out how to complete the background...and the skirt. Oh, the other thing is that the silver does NOT photograph well.

EEOWW! That background will be muchly toned down!