Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Guests Put an End to Procrastination

A year ago, I was so excited about my new 12 foot tall Christmas tree that I told my friends at the Ogallala Art Society they should plan to have the December 2010 meeting at my house so they could see my tree...and so they could appreciate how far I travel for the meetings with them!  It is 56 miles north to Ogallala, and some of them live 15 miles north of there.  Well, last month I started dreading my commitment.  The "studio" they wanted to see was far from being a "studio."  I could barely walk in the door to the guest room/place where the paint supplies are stored.  I still needed to get that big tree up and decorate for Christmas.  It was a twisted sort of relief when my son got the flu on the night before they were supposed to arrive.  I actually was sort of prepared at that time, but rescheduling for a week later was a blessing that allowed for a much cleaner house and that makes me happy.  Maybe it's because it doesn't happen often for me, but I just love the feeling of a clean house!

In the last 6 weeks, things have gotten done around here that should have been done 15 years ago!  My husband laid new flooring over the old peeling linoleum in the hall bath.  Drywall damage was repaired and painted, 45 year old carpet was hauled out of the basement and to the dump, and the remaining floor has been painted.  I even finished painting the concrete block wall in my "studio" which had been only partially painted for at least 8 years!  A swiveling stool I ordered for the studio is now usable after sitting in a box for two years.  In the last few months, the focus I had worked toward with my art had been put aside too many times with other commitments, but now I am inspired to set some new goals and get back at it.  I think the Art Society members left here a bit inspired, too. 

It's time for resolutions, and theme words.  Last year I decided on "willingness" in order to increase creative joy.  The year before, I chose the word "perseverance," to help me focus on continued, patient effort.  In the next week, besides altering 5 show choir dresses, wrapping and mailing Christmas gifts, accompanying the church concert, planning a college class for the spring semester, writing the church blog, and worrying about my son's scholarship applications, I hope to come up with the theme word for 2011.  Any ideas?  It'll be a big year.  My Governor's Mansion Exhibit will be held February 9-March 11, and I will be showing in the Meadowlark Gallery with my Cancer Survivor Painters in September.  I plan to take an online art journaling class in January, and get to the ANAC art camp at Halsey in September.  Maybe since my house is clean, I will be able to just sit for a bit, basking in the glow of Christmas lights, and think.  Then I can start painting!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Golden Mean

I'm teaching a basic painting class at the local community college this semester.   A discussion of composition is part of this week's lesson.  It always makes me think of Deon Bahr, a painting friend I met at the ANAC camp in Halsey a few years ago.  The painting to the left is one he started at Halsey.  Deon is an architect, and his geometric paintings and sculptures are often based on his fascination with the number Phi, known as the "Golden Mean," or the "Golden Number."  At camp, Deon explained to us the basis of the "Phi-nomenon."   I have a copy of the sketch he made in his graph paper notebook, showing the mathematical formation of the nautilus shell design.  Check out his website.

I found another site, in my research for class, that has a great visual explanation for the nautilus concept on it's homepage.  Check out  this graphic.

Let's work on great compositions!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cowboy Artistry

Last Tuesday was a great day for an excursion into the Nebraska Sandhills, where one companion said she loved to watch the changing seasons.  We joked that the fall color is so evident on all the trees.... (Actually, there are almost no trees in the Sandhills, but the grasses definitely change with the seasons.)  Ten of us from The Art Society of Ogallala took a field trip to Arthur, a small cowboy town in ranch country, north of Ogallala.  Arthur County claims one person per square mile from the 2000 Census, and Arthur is the only town in the county!  The place is famous for the world's smallest courthouse, and the world's only church made from baled straw.  A brochure lists 18 current businesses.  We visited three.

We learned lots about leather working from Dennis Rose at Rose Saddlery, on the main street, "downtown".  He has some amazing industrial sewing machines and demonstrated for us on a beaded horse breast collar, commissioned for a young cowboy's birthday.  Dennis grew up in the Sandhills. He does beautiful leather tooling and has created 267 saddles,  as well as lots of horse equipment, purses, and biker clothing during the last 33 years.  He's designed a special saddle for handicapped riders with a high back support that folds to allow the rider to get into position.  Lots of his equipment was creatively fabricated to fit his needs, like a saddle frame mounted on a barber stool to pump it higher for ease in construction.

On the north edge of town, past the log cabin built by Buffalo Bill and some partners, we were treated to a demonstration of the hatter's craft by Jim Marshall of  Marshall Custom Hats.   I didn't realize the best felt cowboy hats are made from 100% beaver hair.  Varying amounts of rabbit hair are added at different price ranges.  We saw an antique conformeter--a rare contraption used to measure the idiosyncrasies of old British heads.  Custom hats really are made to fit different shapes and sizes of heads.  Jim steams the felt, shaping it on wooden forms, and flange boards,  presses with an ingenious Rhodes ironing machine, then actually sands the felt with sandpaper.   The inside sweatbands are sewn in by hand, and more shaping is done with steam and skilled hands.  In the last 10 years, Jim has created 1,059 special hats for rodeo queens, ranchers, cowboys, and even a birthday presentation hat for Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, who has the biggest head Jim has ever fit.

Fried onion chips, and a drink at The Bunkhouse Bar & Grill rounded out our field trip.  This place also serves as the area's senior meal site!  The food and atmosphere were great:  a table of women playing cards, men coming in for a late afternoon beer...all eye-ing us "tourists."  Hunting trophies and antiques adorn the walls.  Pithy quotations and snapshots of the locals are everywhere.  But, I'll have to go back for more than the food...my one bar photo came out too blurry to include here.  Many apologies. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thoughts on Procrastinating

"Even with the best of intentions, inspiration still sometimes strikes at the most inopportune moments.  It's impossible to always drop everything and act on it.  I picture a great warehouse out in the cosmos full of great work that was never realized because the spark was not acted upon.  It makes me a little sad to think that those "lost" great works are denied from this world forever."

This quote is from Clint Watson of Canvoo.com, in a blog post titled "Why Great Artists Should Procrastinate".  I am in awe of his articulation of the feeling of the muse, the creating, and the expectations of  the world.  I should be getting some sleep, but this comment inspired me!  I found it while reading art blogs instead of doing art!

I am reminded of things I've read about Michelangelo describing his art: "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it...I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."  Think of this great artist working 500 years ago...and all the other artists--and writers over the centuries, who have struggled with following the inspiration or doing the stuff that needs to be done for living... hauling water from the well, finding and growing food, washing out cloth diapers, which had to be spun and woven to start with....  (Maybe those chores of living before modern conveniences explains some of why there are so few women artists known before the last century!)  Anyway...that is a lot of "lost great works" out there in what must be a huge warehouse...an explanation for the Milky Way?

Clint's entry mentions an essay by Paul Graham on procrastination, where he says, "impressive people I know are all procrastinators...they put off working on small stuff to work on big stuff...small stuff is work that has zero chance of being mentioned in your obituary.

My bills aren't paid, the class I'm teaching is not prepared, the county fair takes off in full force in the morning, the laundry is piling up, I forgot to think about supper tonight while I researched ways to save on communication expenses, and all I want to do is paint! For now, I am satisfied with procrastinating on sleep for the creativity of just writing this blog.  I can't procrastinate the fair in order to paint...we have two really big sheep, and an even bigger boy to prepare for tomorrow's show! So sometimes the difference in small stuff and big stuff has to be the timing of things beyond one's control. 

Paul Graham thinks, "the way to 'solve' the problem of procrastination is to let delight pull you instead of making a to-do list push you. Work on an ambitious project you really enjoy, and sail as close to the wind as you can, and you'll leave the right things undone."

Our youngest graduates from high school this year...soon we won't have as many activities, allowing me to open up some space in the cosmic warehouse!   Meanwhile, my current (and very long-term) ambitious project is being a great mother.  When I let the delight of that calling pull me, I can leave some painting undone and still end up with a decent obituary.  Thank you, Clint, for the thoughts.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A little escape from reality

Ha! I was enjoying a friend's blog where she posts free images for use in altered books and collages.   This image made me laugh and led me to wonder if the couple pictured here went through the same sorts of decisions, fun, frustrations, and stresses experienced in wedding planning of the 2010 variety.  Where did they go from this point in their life?  How many attended the wedding?  Was it a wonderful party?  Wouldn't a picnic in the woods seem appropriate?  Did they ever see those wedding guests again? Was he a military officer?  Did she have a career?  Were they successful...healthy...happy?  How many children did they have?  Did the parents in the background worry about them?  Did all those children gathered round them remember the event?  Whose shoe is the little boy in front hiding?  Did the dog act as ring bearer?  Isn't it interesting to notice the distinct age groups shown?

Three weeks out from my first daughter's wedding, number two just off to college, and number three gone to football practice...life is returning to its somewhat normal routine.  It gives me a chance to think again.  I'm cleaning house, finishing a painting, reading a book (The Fiery Cross by Gabaldon), and may do some filing and sorting...better hurry, because the county fair is next week!  That's always several days of intense distraction.  We'll do the sheep show again, and have a booth with the aerial photography.  The show choir sings and works concessions for the grandstand shows (Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Rodney Atkins).  And school starts in two weeks!   Isn't it fun to escape for a bit with this Victorian painting?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I've been a bit out of the blogger mode, while preparing and recovering for my oldest daughter's wedding.  My artistic (sewing) skills were in emergency demand when the dress returned from the alterations "expert", less than a week before the big day, in a lumpy mess:  twisted boning, crooked hem, puckered neckline, bent backward side seams and zipper, buttons that floated away from the zipper with no hooks... gathered skirt pulled with double fullness at the sides  I spent nearly all of 3+ days taking it all apart and putting it back together.  Then we drove 7 hours to the groom's graduation from USAF pilot training, and 7 hours back just in time for the rehearsal!  The photo shows the final fitting--at the church!  It worked...hallelujah!  She was fabulously beautiful and so happy.  I'm amazed at how much time it takes to de-compress from all that!  Check out her last 4 blog posts for a good laugh at the stressful situation:  www.seemaikablog.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Governor's Residence Exhibit February-March

I just received word from The Nebraska Arts Council that my time slot for the Governor's Residence Exhibit will be February 9-March 11, 2011.  Yea!  This gives me time to complete a few more pieces and hopefully won't interfere with too many other family activities.  Be sure to get to Lincoln during those dates to see the show and enjoy the beautiful building where our Governor lives.  Regular tours are scheduled for Thursdays, but if that doesn't work for you, it's fairly easy to schedule a special visit.  Check out the Residence web sitephoto of residence:  http://www.governorsresidence.ne.gov/images/mansion_main.jpg

Friday, July 2, 2010

Governor's Mansion!!

I am honored and excited.  I've just been notified that I am accepted to the Governor's Mansion Exhibition Program!  This is an awesome program sponsored by the Nebraska Arts Council.  They chose 10 artists for the coming year, each of which will have a month long, one-artist exhibition in the beautiful gallery/meeting room in the basement of the Governor's Mansion in Lincoln.  The application process was interesting...totally online through a site called slideroom.com.

The painting shown on the left, Finding My Way, is only 6" x 4".  Originally done for a "postcard" contest with the National Collage Society, it was one of  five images included with my application to the Governor's show.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


What a word!  Our little town , Imperial, Nebraska, is celebrating 125 years of existence this year and the party is set for this weekend.  There will be singing, water games, turtle races, fireworks, history displays at the county museum and the city library, cake decorating and pie eating contests, a quilt show, Miss Nebraska, carriage rides AND...and art show!  We will have at least 15 local artists displaying work in the Catholic fellowship hall on Broadway, Saturday 9-5.  A vote will be taken for the people's favorite choice of artwork.  One of my works, shown at left, will be Brome Forest, which won an honorable mention award at the recent Association of Nebraska Art Clubs Convention Juried Competition.  Come and enjoy!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

First Day

This painting really evolved...from plain beige, blue and white, to distracting blobs and bad angles, to this.  It's on a gallery wrapped canvas with  lots of texture and metallic paint. I struggled with covering over my favorite painted tissue in the lower left, but it was in the way--competing with the center of interest.  Now, I like the way it peaks through the rice paper and added paint.  As it was finally coming together, I had a strong gut feeling about the creation story...separating the dark from the light, the earth from the sea, the chaos to order, with a structured plan beneath it all.  Actually, the first thing I did on this painting after plaster texture, was the gridwork in the upper right.  I guess it felt like bringing order back to the chaos that had happened in between.  However, based on her knowledge of previous paintings, my daughter was hoping the title meant there was an image from our  many "first day of school" photos  that had been hidden in the layers...maybe there is!

Monday, May 24, 2010


I'm on a roll...two new paintings! First, I want you to see this small one. Then, will try to get the other one up in a few days. This has lines of plaster, a gel transfer of a King Tut image, a piece of dried paint from my palette, and lots of interesting color. It is 12 x 9" on a gallery wrapped canvas. Our show choir concert was held the night before I finished this piece. They sang "Orinoco Flow," which seemed to go with the movement and color of the art (sail away, sail away, sail away...).  But, Orinoco is a river in Venezuela! So, I've titled this "Orinoconile." That seems to allow some honor for the Egyptian king. This is available for $150.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Art History 311:   A Greek Odyssey.  Dictionary.com says an odyssey is "a long series of wanderings or adventures, esp. when filled with notable experiences, hardships, etc."   So, we have the study abroad opportunity for the middle child.  Before it even began, the notables appeared with last week's riots in Athens over economic austerity measures imposed by the European Union in a bailout of the failing Greek economy.  We didn't feel good about sending her alone, stand-by, to a mess...so I went along!  It was only long enough to get her there, wander the Plaka, eat a meal, sleep and come home.  But I feel so much better about the situation having eased her through the subway tricks, worked with the exchange rates, and seen the facilities.  The riots were over-blown by 24-hour-news networks, but the country is still very unsettled and BBC news today notes a bomb explosion in the city. 
     I'm praying the biggest hardship of her trip is our financial sacrifice and her forced budgeting while she is there.  It is an amazing place for understanding civilization, history, ancient art, and one's self.  Blessings to the UNL study tour! On our way to Greece, we ran into a friend from when we lived in Germany--was that really 24 years ago?  Great to see you, Rocky!  "Hi" to Janet and the family.  Fly safe.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Painting During Track Season

Still trying to paint for at least an hour a day...but we're chasing the track and field events.  It's been stranger than average track weather.  Almost one whole day  was spent in heavy rain with gusts to 30mph.  Last week we had rain, sun, sleet (weird, tiny, square drops), and lots of wind.  But my son is seeing some success, especially with the discus.  And, my daughter ran her first half marathon yesterday.  This photo shows it was a perfect day for a run in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The school year is almost over...a wedding ahead, but with kids' camps and study abroad plans, I may get some time to paint and sell some work to pay for all those plans!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I was thrilled this week to present Rosanne with her painting, titled "Seasons" (shown right). Rosanne has futuristic and significance in her top five (Clifton Strengthsfinder). She even authored a book about using strengths in the classroom. She's been living with another painting of mine ("Resurrection", shown below) for a couple months, and wanted something similar, but larger. She also requested a piece of art that would speak to her spiritual connection with the seasons in nature.

This painting, as usual, had a significant evolution. However, inspired by Rosanne's confidence in my ability, and spurred by a previously scheduled trip to Omaha,  the work happened more quickly than usual...almost obsessively! A little over three weeks of work with the painting...that's a record for me, and enough to get me into a habit of painting daily. I am inspired! We hung "Seasons" on Monday in Rosanne's beautiful office overlooking the Missouri River. The watery elements in the painting seemed right at home there.

"Seasons" started in a vertical orientation, with a Gothic arch on the left, a "lilly pad" of hand-painted tissue on the right, and lots of swirly plaster wall texture (I use Behr Interior Texture Paint from Home Depot).  It changed to a horizontal orientation, lost the arch, added the cool tree with roots. (The tree is from a photo my son took of an osage orange tree, growing from a rock in southwest Nebraska. I printed it as an 8x10 black and white, then cut it out with an exacto knife.) It needed more, so plaster and bronze paint (Golden Fluid Acrylics) were added over most of the tree. When Rosanne sent a note expressing her anticipation of the "Four Seasons Artwork,"  I immediately knew how leaves should be added to the tree. Some leaves are collaged with painted tissue paper and some are painted with the Behr texture+acrylic paint. A late touch was the metallic marker line to separate the art from the frame. Finally, I added words unobtrusively, in turquoise, near the center: "There is a time for every purpose under heaven". It was a fun project. The best part was hearing and seeing the response from Rosanne and her friends. They found all kinds of symbols and ideas in the painting...some I hadn't even recognized!  Knowing my work makes a difference in others lives is such a rewarding part of my life as an artist. Thank you, Rosanne!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Progress in the Painting Therapy Group

Bruce is cranking out the boxes and inspiring us all!  This is his second finished box with a great spiral effect.  And, Stephanie has finished her first box in blue and silver.  We had five painters today!  They are amazing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pirate King

There will be better photos, but I can't wait to show off this awesome costume.  Chase County High School Choral Department presents Pirates of Penzance on January 25th and 26th.  That's a Monday and Tuesday to work around all the sports events, and a reschedule from the original date last October when most of the cast had the flu!  It's a funny spoof on the operetta format, with pirates who turn out to be from royalty trying to marry the many daughters of a major general.  Tough music, but they are doing a great job. "Break a leg" cast members!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First finished product from Cancer Therapy

Just a quick post while we're packing for the Safari Club convention!  It's been busy here with lots of substitute teaching, sewing costumes for the school musical...not enough painting.  The pirate king in Penzance will be awesome next week in his blue jacket with striped lining!  For now, I want you to see the first finished box by Bruce in the Cancer Painting Therapy class.  He is really taking off with this...inspiring me and the other students.  Bruce will handle the class this week, while I'm "vacationing" with the wild African animals and super hunters in Nevada.  I'm googling about art galleries in Reno right now...will definitely check out the Stremmel Gallery.  It will be a great trip...if the weather allows us to even get there!  Happy January!