Monday, November 21, 2011

When Interests Merge - PAAW, Cats, and Watercolor

What lovely serendipity when one's various interests can merge into one.  

For the past year, Michael and I have been volunteering with an animal adoption organization, PAAW  (Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren).  Primarily we are 'cat socializers', spending a couple of hours a week at the local PETCO store, handling and loving the 6 - 12 cats that stay there waiting to be adopted.  Because there are Many Other cats also waiting, they must live in foster homes until there's room at the store.  Then the cats experience the stress of moving from a home to a store environment, and they need plenty of attention to get over it.

You can already guess, then, how the interests have merged. The painting above shows Minnie and May.  I painted this from a photograph graciously provided by Ed Spilker (another PAAW volunteer and mainstay).  I've donated it to PAAW to, I hope, be a 'sweetener'  and help get Minnie and May adopted.

May is the outgoing one (on the left in the painting), and will come for attention.  Minnie is shy, and depends on May for support.  In time she relaxes and becomes a lovely kitty.  She will likely always be shy, but she wants to be loved, and loves her sister dearly.  We really want them to be adopted together.Minnie and May were born in May of 2010.  More information about PAAW  can be found at, and you can see more of Minnie and May at

I'm planning on a doing a series of cat portraits to donate, choosing the sweetest cats who have waited longest for their Forever Homes.     I also hope that this could lead to more paid commission cat portraits - I do love doing them.     If it works out, I'll be donating 20% of sales from cat portraits to PAAW. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What comes next? Florabundance ends . . .

Pat McGraw and I will  be taking down our shared "Florabundance" show at Birmingham Unitarian Church on Thursday.  It was quite an experience for both of us:  I feel like now I've at least  tasted what it's like to be in the Majors, the Big Time.   The paintings were mounted and displayed and lit beautifully in the lovely stepped hallway and the "pavilion" of the church.   It was a spacious and professional display, more gallery than art fair. 

Perhaps best of all was how well our paintings complemented each other.  We received a lot of Compliments about the Complement!

We had a lovely reception with a nice turn out . Were you there? If so, thanks so much for attending: we were both so proud of this venue we wanted EVERYONE to see it.  If not, no worries, the link to your right on this page will show a slide show of the paintings I had in the show.

Also, check the Sisters of the Brush site - I'll be setting up a temporary page very soon,  with pictures from the reception and the exhibit.

We are also feeling fairly successful as each of us sold a few paintings. This will make the church happy, as we'll be donating 20% of sales there, and will make us happy as we donate another 10% to the Mary McCarthy Anderson College Scholarship Fund.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

FLORABUNDANCE opens in a few days!

Pat McGraw and I are very excited, stressed, and overworked! We've been preparing for our 'big show' at the Birmingham Unitarian Church, where we will each have about 15 mostly new works.  Today, I'll get the labels printed up, tomorrow we do a final inventory, and Tuesday the show will actually be hung. Here you can see the postcard we'll be sending out: we were SO pleased that each of our favorite paintings were so  compatible.  
Look around this blog site for further details about the show!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Summer's over and the fun begins . . .

The Tuesday after Labor Day, everyone is back to school and work, and I'm back to the business of being an artist.  With a vengeance.  So what's new since the last post?  Lots!
Pat McGraw has suggested "Florabundance" as the name for our shared exhibit at the Birmingham Unitarian Church in October, and I think it's great, so there.   We could belabor the point and try for a better one, but I think that's creative energy wasted, so, Florabundance it is!

Note that the date for the closing reception of that event has been confirmed for Friday, October 28th, from 6 - 8 pm.  Hope to see you!

You should know that the work that Pat is going to be framing for this upcoming show is breathtaking - I got to see maybe a dozen or so paintings today, in a stack just waiting to be called "done", then photographed and framed. So, no matter what I come up with, this show is going to be worth your time and energy to come see it!

Not through with the updates, yet.  Today I learned that both the (new) paintings that I submitted to the annual exhibit of the Birmingham Society of Women Painters were accepted into that show!  I consider this a great honor, as the membersip of the group is already juried, so everything that's submitted to the juror is of top quality.  

Continuing:  also at Birmingham Unitarian, and, also, happily for Pat and me, in October, 
 Mike Dempsey and Friends
A Sunday Afternoon with Gershwin
October 16, 2011  3:00 PM
Light Refreshments to Follow
Donations in appreciation of this Special Event will Support
Oakland Choral Society
(of which yours truly is also a member)
So - Save the Date, especially if the closing reception date is difficult for you: this would also be a nice way to come see Pat's and my paintings!

Friday, August 19, 2011

So much happening in September and October!

  The SOBs held our monthly CEO meeting last night (at the home of Yvonne Thigpen: husband John prepared gourmet Japanese cuisine for us!), and finally got our date firmed up for the closing reception of TOGETHER IN SPIRIT at the Ennis and Nancy Ham Library at Rochester College. Please mark your calendars for Thursday, September  29th.  We hope to see everyone there, and hope you will all plan on bidding on the artwork we will be donating to support the Mary McCarthy Anderson Scholarship fund, in memory of our dear dear dearly missed friend.
Also, please check out the newly updated list of "upcoming events" - I can barely keep track of what paintings will need to go where when.  A whirlwind of activities!   Pat and I haven't been able to put together our plans for the closing reception at the B.U.C, but REALLY hope you will be able to join us, so we will do our best to get that date out there shortly.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bringing it up to date: a busy fall approaches

Apologies, this was seriously out of date. A long hot summer moves on.    The May-June show of the Sisters of the Brush at the Martha Maxwell Gallery is long over, and we've had another one day group show at OCC, during the Oakland Leadership Conference. 

The big news now is our upcoming show at the Ennis and Nancy Ham Library, on the campus of Rochester College.  The show will be hung on or about Labor Day.  We have decided to have a CLOSING reception instead of an opening reception for a number of reasons, not least of which is that it gives us longer to plan for it!   One of the features of this reception will be a silent auction of select contributed artwork. The full proceeds of the auction will be donated to the Mary McCarthy Anderson Scholarship fund.    For full details about this event, follow this link to the Sisters of the Brush web site.

And that's the other big announcement.  This - -  is my new creation: I've spent most of July learning how and then creating this website to help connect the Sisters of the Brush together and to the art community.  Be forewarned, as of this date the Sisters have not yet had their say about the site, so its design flaws and errors are all mine.  It started out to be a chore, too much like being back at work in the IT department of Doctors Hospital.  But eventually I rounded the learning curve for the particular web hosting software I was stuck with, and started having a good and creative time.

New paintings for the October show that I will share with Pat McGraw are coming along, and I will be framing 7 more next week in an effort to be ready for that, for "Together in Spirit", for Our Town (should my work be accepted), and for the Festival of the Arts at Nativity Episcopal Church (again, should my work be accepted).  Seems like I've fogotten something. Oh. Two paintings to frame to be entered in the BSWP annual competition, this year titled "Fields of Visions". Phew. I'd better get done with this computer stuff and get busy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pursuing Art - Can we run fast enough to actually CATCH it?

Well, it really IS all about the process, isn't it?  I've been thinking: it seems like most of the artists I know manage to include the word "pursue" in statements about their relationship to their art. And, just as one can never actually reach the horizon or the end of a rainbow, here we all are, pursuing our dream, our avocation, our love of art. And I can't remember ever hearing anyone say that they caught it.

Good thing the process of pursuit is so joyful, since we'll always have to be satisfied with it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

One less Sister, and a lost Connection

We were to be celebrating on May 6, when we held an "opening" for our Sisters of the Brush show "Connections" in Birmingham.  But instead we were shellshocked and grieving. The morning of the opening we learned that, only the day before,  Mary McCarthy Anderson died.  Mary was a mother, grandmother, lawyer, and, most important to our group,  artist.  She was smart and intense and caring and fun. She was the one who, without letting a second go by, knew that our Sisters of the Brush moniker would tie us together forever as SOBs.

We have dedicated the show to Mary, as she worked up to the end on the two wonderful paintings that she managed to finish and frame in time for the show. She told friends that it was the best hour of her day when she was able to paint. And we are so glad she had a goal and reason to paint in those final days.  See below for an image of one of my favorite "Anderson" painting.

First Light by Mary McCarthy Anderson

The information about the show is shown above left, but at this time it has been extended to the end of June.  Each of the nine of us has two artworks included.  We've received a number of lovely compliments on the show, so I don't think it's just us thinking it's successful.  If you have a chance, please stop by. It's on the second floor of the Birmingham Community House.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

MWCS - didn't get in this year . . .

64th Annual's juror was Miles Batt.  Haven't met him yet, but he didn't like either of my entries enough. And none of those of my 'sisters of the brush' group.  Oh well, humility is a good thing.
Here's one of the two paintings that  didn't get in.  I've been thinking, maybe it's not finished after all.  I can't even remember what it was named when I submitted it . . . the image is still  'untitled'.  Any ideas?  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Advice for Traveling Watercolorists

I was transcribing my notes from Carla O'Connor's watercolor workshop (see the last post) when I saw one tidbut of advice that she had provided  . . .  I thought perhaps I should be sharing it.

Traveling watercolor artists should not sit below their own carry-on luggage.

Nuff said. You'll thank me someday.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

There is a heaven on earth for artists!

I’ve recently returned from a wonderful retreat called Kanuga Watercolor Workshops.  The Kanuga conference center is an Episcopal church facility on a lake – a lodge, an inn, cabins and cottages, and a youth camp,  scattered in the hills and around a small lovely lake.   Water media artists from across the country convene there annually to participate in up to 12 workshops with well known watercolor artists.  The workshops run concurrently, just this one week of the year,  so the campus is studded with classrooms.  Maybe 250 artists, once you count the instructors, staff, and students fill the campus, and art conversations dominate at breakfast, lunch and dinner.    There are late afternoon and evening programs most days – demos, critiques, lectures – and sometimes free time to continue working on art or explore the extensive woods and grounds.
 Pat McGraw and I headed there on April Fool’s day, taking two and a half days for the drive. We enjoyed Berea, Kentucky’s shops and galleries (on the both trips, down and back), and took the back roads into Boone, North Carolina in order to visit Cheap Joe’s art supply store in person.  The roads were way more memorable than any mere art store could be – hard to believe people drive on these all the time, in all kinds of weather and have any energy left for anything else! But what views. And fortunately for our safety, we had perfect weather.
Carla O’Connor was the instructor in the workshop I took.  She’s a funny nice woman who plays on her uncanny resemblance to the food celebrity Paula Dean. 
Carla has developed unique ways of using the figure in her compositions that spoke to me every time I have seen her work (see She has a strong mastery of the figure, having painted since she was a child, and now integrates the figure with patterns, color fields, and symbolic images, making it so much more than it might have been. Technically, she is using a technique of gouache and watercolor paints on a ground of metallic gold gesso on hot press watercolor paper. This allows easy lifting as well as layering. The gold of the gesso becomes the mother color as it flavors all her compositions.  Carla’s paintings grow and change as she works: she cannot conceive of knowing how a completed painting will look as she begins.
She’s also a disciplinarian, the class was not an easy one, and she was (justifiably) tough on those class members who couldn’t seem to figure out how to turn off cell phones the entire week (don’t get me started . . . )! We did three hours each day of drawing from a model, starting with a long warm up of gesture drawings, up to 50 on one sheet of paper.  Carla also showed us ways to use even these un-studied markings as the basis for interesting compositions incorporating the figure – using her suggestions, we would never be without source material, whether or not we had access to a model.  Several times we worked directly from the model onto our watercolor paper (hot press), so we came home with starts for further studies.
So here I am, home again, with all these starts and a palette of gouache and watercolor.  I have a pre-workshop painting that Carla critiqued and is no longer “finished”. And I have a horde of ideas and feelings I need to get started painting.   And what am I doing? Typing this.
Well, I guess I know the solution to THAT.  Goodbye for now!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A new year and new goals . . .

Unofficial New Years' Resolution: This is the second calendar year of my retirement and of tackling my dream of being a "real" artist.   So get started already!  As a result, here is my BLOG, which will likely be used more like a web site.   I won't be writing much - I'm not into wordcraft, and you should therefore be grateful that I am sparing you.

Instead, this will include information about the shows I hope to get into, the shows I have gotten into, what I'm working on, and what my art looks like.

I'd also like to profile the various wonderful artists with whom I claim friendship.  For those that have a  web presence, I'll provide links, for others I'll present some images of their artwork here if that's okay with them.

I expect this site may change only a few times a year, at least in any major way: don't plan on checking back daily to find out what I had for breakfast and how soon I got into the studio. 

However, when I do manage to get something into a juried show, or start a new series - I'll likely post it here. And when enough changes accumulate to make it worth your time, I may drop folks a quick email to take a look.   If you'd like to be included in that "blast", be sure to drop me a note or comment so I can add you to my list.