Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

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.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Art Studio Tours

This last weekend I participated in the local art studio tours.

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

Dante's View

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


Re: the title -- that's not "Whew, it's over." It's "Whew, am I working my butt off!"

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


An idea appeared in one of the artist forums I belong to about the future of art hanging on people's walls. Something I would call "iArt."

The thought is: suppose instead of paintings or photographs (or prints or posters showing these), people hung flatscreen TVs on their walls -- flatscreens designed to be "on" all the time. Then the flatscreen owners would subscribe to a service from which they can download images to display on the screens. Then, whenever they're ready for a change, they'd flip through images and voila! A different picture!

Most artists would say iArt would lose much of what makes original art so desirable, especially originals with lots of texture or subtleties. But for those who are not that particular, this could be another affordable way (besides prints or posters) to obtain art in an affordable way.

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

Wyoming Light

This is a somewhat large painting (36" x 48" / 91cm x 122cm) of the wonderful mountains in Grand Teton National Park, WY. The setting is summer, late in the day as the sun begins its descent behind the mountains.

The piece is very much in my own style, but it was inspired by the work of 19th century painter Albert Bierstadt. He was able to make truly magnificent images of western mountains, clouds and lighting, and I tried to capture "the moment" in my own work.

While not a desert scene, this is very much a western scene. All that's missing is the herd of pronghorn running across the meadow or, if I had intended a more historical landscape, cowboys driving their steers to market.

By now, I'd expect the green is gone from this place and winter is already blasting the area with its sharp cold winds and snow flurries, turning this view into the perfect Christmas card picture. But for the moment, let's imagine the soft warm breezes and flowered scents that existed here only a few months ago.

(Not to get commercial on you, but this painting is currently available directly from me via my Website!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Changes Are in the Air

It's been a little crazy lately, mostly getting more paintings done for an upcoming show. As you may have noticed, art is my passion, and there's no other job I'd rather do.

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

In the Mojave Preserve

Last fall, The Wiffee and I made a trip to Lone Pine and Death Valley. We took the scenic route through part of the Mojave Preserve in southeastern California, an area set aside to keep the region looking natural and primitive.

I've inserted a painting I recently finished. It's a small painting (8"x10" / 20cm x 25cm) and will probably appear on my Website one of these days (if I don't first sell it at an upcoming art studios tour later this month).

One thing I liked about the view is that sense of space I love in the desert. You just know those mountains are miles and miles away. And in the desert, things aren't so cluttered up that you can't see things like that!

That's why I'm so attached to the tagline that appears on my Website and stationery: The Vast Spaces of the Southwest!