Thursday, December 31, 2009
A new year .. sometimes seen as an opportunity to make changes in one's life (not that New Years is the only time for that). For me, I expect 2010 to be a time to pursue additional opportunities in making and selling art.
I love traditional/classical art, especially landscapes made during the 19th century and earlier. For years, I've been painting the southwestern deserts in a classical way, perhaps with a touch of the surreal to add a sense of mystery to desert scenes.
However, after years of doing art shows in desert locales, I've come to realize something: desert residents don't necessarily love the desert -- or desert art. One of the comments I often used to hear from show attendees was: "I live in the desert. Why would I want pictures of it hanging in my house?"
These are people who like mostly sunny weather without frequent rainstorms to upset their golfing or shopping pleasures. The fact that these conditions exist in deserts is almost coincidental. They prefer to landscape their yards to make their homes as undesert-like as possible and import water from elsewhere so they can create the tropics in the desert.
So -- I expect I'll continue to paint the desert. It's too much a part of how I approach art to let go of that.
But I'll have to paint less desert and more of something else. In the next few days, I'll be contemplating what else I should paint so I can pay the bills.
Traditional art isn't that popular in this area. At best, landscapes (Tuscany scenes, especially) have to be impressionistic. Otherwise, there's always the world of abstract expressionism.
So don't be surprised to see a revised Website which features some classical scenes, but also abstract art And possibly some surrealism based on the microbial world. (After all, I majored in microbiology and used the electron microscope to see a world which is both real and surreal).
Additional directions and more of the same ... that's what 2010 means to me!
Happy New Year, all!
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Only a few more days, and we can deep-six 2009 forever. Good riddance, frankly! Most of us have suffered, some greatly, as a result of the economic situation we've been struggling with. I hope you'll join me in hoping and praying 2010 will be better.
In the meantime, I never got into the habit of making New years resolutions, and I don't plan to start now. But I do happen to have some goals for 2010, so maybe we can go there:
- Sell more art
- Sell even more art!
- Branch out and diversify -- not so much in art style, but in subject matter. Maybe even style!
- Further develop my drawing skills: animals and people. I want to be much better than I am now in drawing (and painting) human beans and critters.
- Sell lots and lots of art
Those seem like reasonable and do-able goals to me! Wish me luck! And I'll hope and pray for a more prosperous year for all of us!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Well, Christmas is over, and I'll have to admit: I had trouble getting into it this year -- and for the last few years, actually.
Life as an artist can be hard enough even when the economy is good. But for many of us, it's been extremely difficult trying to survive when no one is buying art. That, in turn, makes it hard to feel very festive at this time of year.
Some are saying things are slowly getting better. I hope so. Hopefully not TOO slowly! I do have plans for diversifying somewhat: more subject matter, maybe even additional styles of working (under a pseudonym, most likely) and approaching galleries outside of desert areas which tend to have extreme ebbs and flows of population depending on the season.
If you're into prayer, I and my fellow artists could all use some of that. It would help to know if I'm on the right road, and if I'm not, which offramp should I take. That "lamp upon my feet" has gone out, and I need a match! Thanx!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Sedona, south of Flagstaff, AZ, is a special place. Some believe the area features energy vortices and other stuff I frankly don't understand. But for me, the red rocks of Sedona are beautiful, and yet mystical. I can see why people believe this is a place of magic.
The painting is one of my "Art-On-A-Budget" pieces -- 8"x 10"/20cm x 25cm. I always have to paint these items with a simplified technique to keep the labor time, and therefore the price, down. But I hope I managed to show just a little of what makes Sedona an incredible place to be.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Winter solstice is still a couple of weeks away. But the weather here suggests winter is here!
We got snowed on ...
...and we have had mornings with dramatic clouds.
While it hasn't been as cold as other parts of the country, it has dropped below freezing at night, and it's been cold and (often) windy during the day.
All of this will lead to making some paintings. But it has been a little uncomfortable these days.
ANYthing for art, right?
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The Big Morongo Preserve is a marshy area in the middle of the desert. It's located about 20 minutes north of Palm Springs, CA.
Lots of cottonwood trees, close relatives of aspens, grow in this natural oasis. Fall arrives here later than in many other places of the country -- the cottonwoods are pretty much at their color peak. Some of the color will linger until Christmas.
There really aren't that many opportunities to paint the desert in a way that uses bright hues. As much as I love the place, deserts can be rather drab most of the year. So the golden yellows of the cottonwoods are a welcome change.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Another lizard painting, that is.
This seems to be a popular lizard around here. At the Open Studio tours two weeks ago, I displayed my first version of this little guy (or girl -- not sure which). Since then, I've made two other versions of that piece, making slight changes to the images, mostly by curving the tail.
By request, then, I painted this!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
So we stayed in a cabin owned by a friend in the Lake Arrowhead region. While not an area that could be described as having utterly awe-inspiring vistas, it still was beautiful, and I could see paintings coming out of this in the future.
Even better were the fall colors we saw. Granted -- the colors were not as rich and varied as a maple forest in Vermont or as fluorescent as the golden leaves of aspen in the Rockies. In fact, oak trees ranged brown-yellow to yellow green. But they added another dimension to the dull greens of pine and cedar.
This picture shows a different species of oak that was planted in one of the mountain towns. Most of the leaves on this and similar trees were a deep rich red, suitable for Christmas if not the fall holidays.
While the desert gets fall colors of its own, they're nothing like this oak tree. As much as I love the Mojave, sometimes one needs to go where traditional fall colors shine in all their electric glory.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Tomorrow is Halloween, the first of a set of holidays that normally gets me pretty excited.
Actually, when things are looking up and I have at least a little time on my hands, mid-late September begins to set a mood with me. It's fall, even though -- here in southern California and especially in the desert -- we really don't see signs of autumn yet.
But thoughts of fall prepare me for the rest of the holiday season, beginning with Halloween. For some, Halloween is derived from Sanheim, an ancient Druid/pagan day that today might be interpreted as truly satanic.
But for me and, I believe, many others, Halloween is simply a time to have fun: to dress and act outrageously in ways that would be totally inappropriate any other time of year. I enjoy outfits people come up with, even costumes that turn those people into zombies, ghosts, witches or other uncouth/undead beings from hell. It's all for fun, and anybody who might take things too seriously would, IMO, do so anyway without using Halloween as an excuse to go off the deep end.
Following is the other autumn holiday, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. After Christmas, it feels like the fun is over, and I tend to go into somewhat of a funk, unless I have specific things lined up for the first of the following year to get excited about. (Needless to say, those "things" usually involve art in some way!)
Following is a detail from a Halloween image I painted last year. I want to submit it to a greeting card company later in 2010 and so for that reason, I don't want to show the entire painting just in case some unethical types out there want to use it and approach the greeting card companies before I do.
Monday, October 26, 2009
If you've been been on one of these (either as an artist or a visitor): the artists open up their homes or studios (or both, for guys like me who have their studios in their homes) so people can see where the artists work on their creations. Of course, the primary objective for the artists is to sell stuff.
In some ways, a studio tour is more work than an art show in a park or similar setting. A space in a park normally doesn't require cleaning, dusting, sweeping, moving items out of the space and putting them elsewhere out of view, and other miscellaneous activities.
I'm typically tired after a show, but today, all I did was sleep!
At least we made some money, but not enough considering: (a) what we need, and: (b) considering how much time and work went into it.
Well, art shows in the parks aren't going that well for most of us artists, and I'm not convinced a studio tour is that much better, especially in this economy and in southern California.
This is one of the pieces I did manage to sell.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Our local artist studio tours (officially known as the Hwy. 62 Art Tours) begins tomorrow morning. I would have loved to have had time to get more paintings done, but I think I always feel that way!
The main thing is: in about 50 hours from now, I should know if we'll have enough $$$ to continue on and survive for a while longer.
This is a piece I finished recently with the Art Tours in mind, although it isn't a local scene, strictly speaking. This is Dante's View in Death Valley National Park. (I guess someone must have thought the view was a little like Dante peering into the depths of hell!)
The white areas are salts and minerals that are left behind after rainwater runoff from the mountains collects and evaporates. The salt pan isn't always present -- the last couple of years I was in Death Valley, I saw very little white. Apparently, rainfall was too low (even for Death Valley), and I assume high winds blew the salt out of the Valley.
But the two times I was at Dante's View, the landscape was absolutely stunning.
I've also noticed a couple of ravens that always seem to hang out near the parking lot. I painted one of them flying out into the space to the left, able to see (but maybe not appreciate) the overwhelming beauty of this special place.
Monday, October 19, 2009
The area I live in is having two weekends of open studio tours where many of the artists' studios and homes in the high desert are open for business. I've been preparing for this coming weekend (24-25 October), and it's been VERY busy.
I won't have as many items available as I had hoped, but I'll still be able to offer a variety of price points for numerous desert paintings, as well as a few western landscapes.
The sponsoring organization has both a hardcopy program (for $10 -- I'll have a few of those to sell) and an online pdf version, as well. You can see it here. (It is a 20-page document, so be patient as it loads up). Information on finding me appears in the upper righthand corner of page 6.
This will be a busy week, so I don't know if I'll be able to post again until the studio tour is over. So -- have a good Monday and a great week!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
And if I had more entrepeneurial skills than I have, maybe I'd be the one to start an art subscription business!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Except I may have to do a different job.
Artists, like many others, have been struggling in this difficult economic situation. Between The Wiffee's paycheck and my few-and-far-between sales, we're not bringing in enough to pay the bills.
As it turned out, a job opening appeared in my area -- one I should be qualified to do, and one that isn't either an auto mechanic, a truck driver or a manager/director of some kind. These are the only jobs that typically come up in the high desert.
So I have an interview next week -- and if they offer me the job, I'll accept it. Besides the loss of time to paint, I'll also be focusing on being the best employee I can be. I suspect painting activity would drop to almost zero for the first few months, at least.
However, I'm still a long ways from getting the job, so for now, I have to assume I'll continue Plan A (with its many modifications over the years) and work on art like it's going out of style. (Sometimes I wonder if it is).
Changes are in the air. If I get the job, art will be pushed to the back burner for a long time. If I continue doing art fulltime, I'll need to find whatever it is that will lead people to excise $$$ from their wallets. The latter could involve (a) changing my product, or: (b) finding nontraditional venues.
Wish me luck. I'm gonna need it!
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Otherwise, the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains are a series of fun jagged sawtooth peaks that give the area an incredibly rugged look.
I plan to paint more views of this area. This place has the look of what I'd consider quintessential California desert.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Well, I took some advice from an artist I know ("LB") who has had success selling from her Website, a goal I've had for a while now.
So I've added some additional links to the homepage, including one (with my picture--UGH!) that will take you directly to my Bio/Statement page. I wrote about what aspects about the desert fascinate me. I also removed a page that was all about my technique -- LB thought it would appeal to artists, but they are not my target audience, and most art buyers wouldn't care about all that stuff.
Finally, since I've been making original paintings that I can sell inexpensively, I created a page that features some of these works as well. You can see them here.
And, as before, all of these pieces are for sale!!! (Yes -- that's a hint!)
But if you're not in the market for art today, that's OK. Maybe tomorrow. At least go take a look. Be sure and let me know if you think of something else I need to change or fix.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Not Smokey the Bear, in this case... Smokey conditions!
By now, you may have heard of the fires that are burning in California. We tend to get rain at the end of the year and the beginning of the next, so by summer, everything is dry and ready to burn.
So far this year, we haven't had any fires in the desert. But the wind is blowing smoke from the other fires into our area. (A friend in Colorado mentioned the hazy conditions in her state are coming from California fires, too).
The desert is not particularly inspiring to be in right now. Besides the smokey smell and thick haze, it's also hot and humid -- none of that "dry heat" for the time being).
I'm still working on paintings of the high desert. But I'll have to admit: I'm not working from life!
Friday, August 28, 2009
This is a desert spiny lizard. I've actually discussed this particular little critter in a previous post. But now I've finally completed a painting of it, sitting on the skeleton of a cholla cactus. There were some thin miscellaneous branches covering part of the lizard (as you can see in the photo), but I had no trouble filling in the hidden parts.
Fun! Painting lizards up-close is a little different for me, but I'm hoping there are others who like lizards as much as I do and who can't live without this painting!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Well, the paintings I had on eBay (mentioned in a previous post) didn't sell. So -- why not?
- Not good enough;
- No one is into California desert/Joshua Tree National Park scenes;
- The people who might have been interested were away from their computers this week.
Some (but not all) of my Arizona landscapes normally sell, but I can't always count on that, either. And I don't think I'm asking too much -- $57 starting bid, shipping included, "Buy It Now" is $75. Is that unreasonable?
Is the economy still THAT bad all over the country?
Don't know. But a job opportunity came up that I applied for. If I'm hired, that will obviously affect my ability to paint and market my work.
But we'll see. A career change may be coming.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I'm still painting my life away, but I thought for now, I'll post another one of my infrared photos of the desert. This scene shows an ocotillo in Joshua Tree National Park.
This is one of those views that screams "Desert!" to me -- lots of open space, and the special forms of the plantlife there.
I can imagine this will be a painting some day -- either in color or in "infrared" black and white. I think it'd make a great piece either way!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Visiting the desert in summer is often thought of as being condemned to hell: torrid temperatures, rocks that melt, no signs of life anywhere except for the human tourist wondering why s/he came to this place of torment.
Well, a little of that is true. It does get pretty hot out here, although the temperatures haven't been as high this year as they sometimes get. Also, here in the high desert, we tend to be about 10 degrees cooler than Palm Springs and the rest of the Coachella Valley.
Flowers are scarce, especially during this dry year we've had. Wildlife, even cold-blooded critters like lizards and snakes, stay in the shade or underground until it cools off. The greens, yellows, blues and other colors of spring are long gone. The annuals that produced the flowers are also dried up and blown away, leaving little/no evidence that they were ever there.
BUT -- for a desert lover like me, the "off-seasons" still draw me into places like Joshua Tree National Park. In early morning or late afternoon, lizards are darting under dormant shrubs or rough boulders. Ground squirrels brave the heat to do whatever it is ground squirrels do. Coyotes trot along, looking for a tasty goodie.
And for me, brown and blue is my favorite color combination. I'm sure that's part of the reason why I love deserts. And let's face it: this time of year, my colors dominate.
The heat and the occasional monsoonal humidity does get to me. But the desert keeps the rare beauty that only deserts possess.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
In the meantime, I just posted these paintings on eBay (here are links for Joshua Tree on the left and Jumbo Rocks on the right). I can ask less for these pieces, and I hope some Mojave desert/Joshua Tree National Park fans will see them and decide they can't live without them.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
OK, OK, I know. I'm not posting as often as I should. S'up with me, anyway?
Well, the point of my blog is talk about art (especially MY art!) and, in some cases, to discuss painting issues that most folks may not know about. But I've been making a major push in making small inexpensive paintings and art cards. I've been too busy making art to spend time writing about it!
So -- below I'm showing the latest three ACEOs which I posted on eBay just a few minutes ago. If I can do this right, I'll try to post links directly to their respective pages on eBay.