Monday, June 16, 2014

Southern Colorado

This past weekend we decided to take a driving trip to explore some areas of Southern Colorado that we hadn't yet seen. The photo above is of the Sangre de Christo mountain range. This region is so incredibly beautiful. I had to thank John for bringing me to live in this beautiful state.

We started in Manitou Springs, one of my favorite little towns. I had been here before, and it was nice to show it to John. Manitou is full of little galleries and pretty little shops. This is the hotel where we stayed, The Cliff House. It was built as a stage coach stop in the 1870's. It was a real treat. Our room was in the tower at the left, so it was round. There were roses, a bottle of wine, and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us in our room!

It was nice to see some of my products in the shops!

Manitou is very close to The Garden of the Gods. This park is famous for it's standing red rocks. This one is called Balanced Rock. It is a little hard to tell, but this huge rock is balance on a quite small point. John is making sure it doesn't fall off.

I am holding up a different one.

There are ancient, gnarled trees growing put of the red soil.

The towns are brightly decorated. There are many murals on the walls, and sculptures in the gardens. And there are lots of little humorous touches like this one!

The next day we drove to Royal Gorge, site of the world's highest suspension bridge. You can see it in the distance. There was a dreadful fire last year, so it is temporarily closed to car traffic, but the park operates a shuttle that goes across. It stops halfway across for you to take photos, but I was too afraid to get out of the bus. The wind was blowing so hard, and we were so high up!

John was brave enough to get out though, and he took some wonderful pictures.

John convinced me to sit here for a photo. I was so frightened of being that close to the edge! Does it show?

The next day we drove through absolutely spectacular scenery to visit St. Elmo. They say that St. Elmo is the best preserved ghost town in Colorado. I am not sure if it truly qualifies as a ghost town, as the general store is still operational, and a few of the cabins are used as summer residences, but it was well worth a visit.

There are many structures still standing.

One of the best parts is that the chipmunks are very tame and you can feed them sunflower seeds. Now, I know you shouldn't feed wild animals, but these little creatures are taken care of by the general store and tamed as part of the tourist draw. 

John enjoyed feeding them too!

There were chipmunks and two different types of ground squirrel. Look at how chubby this little fellow is!

And there were so many hummingbirds! I think there will be quite a few paintings in my future as a result of this trip!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Art Supplies!

There is nothing better than new art supplies, and this month I have indulged myself a little. I read about the Princeton Select Filbert Grainer brushes, and wanted to give them a try. These brushes have divided bristles at the tip. I think they were originally intended to help with painting grass, but I want to see how they worked for painting fur. These brushes are very soft, ideal for watercolor. I found that they were good especially for doing the fur underpainting, where you want to cover larger areas. Since they make parallel lines, the fur does come out looking a little stiff. I went in and used my beloved Silver Brush Ultra Mini round brushes for the details and everything else. I used a #10 round and a #6. That is the beauty of these brushes: even on a fairly large brush, the point is incredibly fine.

I also bought some new watercolors, just for fun. They are a Russian brand, White Nights, that was recommended to me by Helen Dardik. I purchased them on eBay. They were quite nice, but I have to say, the Mission Mijello Gold are still my favorites. The White Nights are good, and have a broad selection of colors. However, they are made with honey, which I hadn't encountered before, which gives them a slightly unusual texture. And some of the colors, the earth tones especially, didn't have the strength of pigment that I get from the Mijellos that I usually use. The reds and yellows however, are beautifully bright. One thing I was unable to find out was the toxicity levels. I am pretty vigilant about using non-toxic colors, because I am dreadfully untidy and end up with paint all over my hands most days! So I was a bit uncertain about Russian quality control on that, and didn't sample any of the cadmium colors ( I use Cadmium Hues in other brands, because they are a non-toxic version of the color). But I did have a wonderful time exploring and playing with these new toys!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Art Retreat at The Makerie

On Friday, I attended my first art retreat, and I am so glad that I did! It was organized by The Makerie in Boulder, CO, and held at the Colorado Chautauqua. I took Be Kid Creative with Jennifer Mercede, and Again! Again! (pattern creating) with Helen Dardik. I came home so inspired, and with lots of new knowledge to experiment with.

The Chautauqua backs up to the Flat Iron mountains in Boulder. Such a view! And the weather was perfect. (unlike today; we have gone from 70 degrees yesterday to snowing today!)

I took Be Kid Creative in the morning. My goal for this class was to help myself loosen up. I paint very tightly and tend to restrict myself. I always feel like whatever I paint should be usable for my work. This class gave me the permission to just let go.

We did a lot of gesture drawing and scribbling.

Then we started scribbling on large boards. (then I got splinters, so I sanded the board and then scribbled on it!) It didn't matter what marks we made, as we were going to paint over it.

We started out with our fingers (you can see how messy I got in the photo at the top of the page). Then we did my favorite part. We were blindfolded, and had to work with a partner. My partner loaded the brush with paint and put it in my hand. I didn't even know what color it was. All my senses were focused on just feeling the brush move around the board. I didn't know where or how it looked. My partner would reload the brush when it got dry. We both agreed that the sensation of just painting was wonderful. This is an activity I highly recommend!

I kind of stopped taking pictures at this point, because I just wanted to immerse myself in the experience. I brought the board home, with many more layers of paint on it, and now my son and I are talking about finishing it together. I would love to see how he adds to it.

After a delicious healthy lunch with some new friends and old, I took Helen Dardik's class on pattern making. Now, this was fascinating to watch her process. It was quite a switch to go from a very physical class to a cerebral one, but Helen was a charming teacher. I can't wait to get started putting my new knowledge to use!

I cam home absolutely tired, but happy and renewed. I will certainly keep my eye out for what classes the Makerie offers in the future! I have always been hesitant to spend money on myself to take these somewhat expensive classes, but it was completely worth it.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New Fabric Collection

I am always so happy to see a new fabric collection. This is my new Neptune's Garden line. This is just a preview; the line will be in shops in Feb. I love how it came out!

The line is based on the wonderful trip to Key West we took this summer. I feel that in order to capture the feeling of a place in a painting you really need to go there in person.

The line will be available from Wilmington prints and sold in quilt shops.

Designing for fabric is such fun!

Saturday, August 10, 2013


I find it really hard to switch off from work-mode and to let myself just make art for relaxation, do you? I feel like everything has to be licensable. I am trying to break myself of that habit though, but it is making my art feel a bit stressed. I need to get back to just creating for the sheer joy of it, without worrying about the end result.

To that end, I got my journal back out. It has been ages since I just doodled. I thought I would share some of my journal pages with you, dear friends. Sometimes my journal pages are pretty basic and functional, like this spread above.
Sometimes I use lots of collage and paint. Sometimes I print out my scanned in painted pieces and collage with them! I also have fun with the set of antique stamps I bought in Wisconsin.
On other days, I am just in the mood for something fairly quick. A little pen and ink, a little watercolor, ta-da!
Sometimes I am happy to just leave things in black and white. I draw everything freehand with the pen; I don't draw with pencil first.
Sometimes I want to use lots of color and all sorts of media. here I have used pen, watercolor, Pan Pastels (love them!), collage, stamps, whee! After several days of letting myself have journal playtime in the evenings, I feel much refreshed!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Beachy Dreams

Oh, it is summer, and what a good summer it is! Except for my recent bout of pneumonia, of course! But thank goodness for antibiotics, because it means I was able to take a wonderful and inspiring trip to the Florida Keys. I even went snorkeling on a coral reef for the first time. Now, I know that according to my clients I should be painting Christmas designs right now, but I just couldn't bear to wait to paint all the beachy goodness. Hooray for the beach!

What is on your drawing table this week?