Poker Face

Monday night, when I went to Scottsdale Artists School for Monday Night Open Session, I walked in on a gambling scene. There was a table, some money on the table, a glass for a drink, a jug to hold moonshine, or perhaps illegal alcohol if this poker game is taking place during Prohibition.

Our “hold ‘em or fold ‘em” high-stakes gambler comes out from the dressing room with a White ruffled shirt, the kind men were wearing in the 1800′s and, when Emanuel sat down at the table, picking up his “five-card stud” hand, he put on a cold and calculating “Poker Face”!

The easy thing to do would be to go for the portrait drawing and ignore all the “trappings” of the “good hand” in poker. I decided that doing the “easy” thing was probably the wrong answer. Doing all the detail work would be: good practice, keep my eyes open, along with the options for how I was going to approach this scenario.

I’m glad I did. This was a fun paint! I have never drawn a playing card before!

Ah, it’s the little things that make Art fun. Like telling Emanuel that “I poured you a drink.” I had painted brown liquid into the glass I painted, just because “drinking and gambling” go together in a stereotypical way.

So, here is “Poker Face” from the Casino Scottsdale Artist School. Hope you enjoyed the 11×14 oil on canvas-board. It’s part of The “Painting Today” series. And, if I made you start to hum the song, “Poker Face”, it’s because I’m humming it, too (ever since, I figured out that was what I wanted in my drawing, a poker scene and a gambler!)

Thanks for looking. May all your gambles in your life today, go your way. But, don’t chance the yellow traffic light. I want you to be in one piece for my next drawing.

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Fiesta Pitcher

Years ago, when I was a child, my mother had a collection of Fiesta® Dinnerware. At the time, I probably thought that all dinnerware looked like Fiesta Ware. To me, it was the “standard” of plates, cups and saucers. Probably by the time I was 12 or 13, Dad bought a more expensive set of china for Mom, and we gave the colorful Fiesta Ware to a second-hand store.

I have had many different kinds of dinnerware over the years, from Corning Ware to Lenox, but about 10 years ago I began to search the thrift stores for pieces of Fiesta Ware. I thought it would be a challenge to build a multicolored collection of the Fiesta Ware brand. I must admit, that about this time I also had help from a very special Fiesta-Ware Angel, who loved thrift shops even more than I do, and, in his travels, picked up most of the pieces I have today.

That includes this pastel yellow pitcher. The pitcher is one of the major iconic pieces of the Fiesta Ware line.

Even in the thrift shop, they can get $15.00 to $20.00 for this pitcher. My friend is charmed when it comes to thrift shop “finds”. He happened upon this pitcher for less than $10.00, and it is the antique Fiesta Ware and not the new line. I was thrilled to get this piece, to say the least!

So, I decided to try painting the lines of this pitcher in oil paint. I doubt that Homer Laughlin, the man who started the Homer Laughlin China Company in the USA, is around today to see the resurgence in popularity of his line, he called, “Fiesta Ware”, but old or new there is no question, this line of dinnerware is nothing less than a work of art.

“Fiesta Pitcher” is an 8×10 oil on canvas-board and is a part of the “Painting Today” series.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look. Try to imagine that the pitcher is filled with Ice Tea and waiting for you when you come in from the hot afternoon sun. Cheers!

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White Peaches

Some grocery items can be stored in the refrigerator for relatively long periods of time. Peaches, unfortunately, are not one of them. They go rather quickly from maturity to bruises, and it’s all downhill from there.

The bright side is that peaches taste so good that who wants to save them, anyway?

So, I marched these beauties out of the fridge and onto the chopping block. There was a two-part purpose for the peaches. The first part, I’m sharing with you! I painted them, and I am putting their picture up on my website. The second part is, that I ate them! Delicious!

The other discovery is that these peaches are called “White Peaches”, and I was taken by the colorful outer skin. And, I didn’t quite understand the “White” part until I cut it open. Wow! The meat was a very bright White instead of the subtle Yellow orange I’m used to. So no, I didn’t forget to “color” the inside, I found them to be this color.

So, if you see White peaches in your local grocery store, I recommend that you try them. They are certainly good mid-Summer snacking.

In the meantime, enjoy my version of “White Peaches”, an 8×10 oil on canvas-board that is part of the “Painting Today” series. This version is also zero calories, no matter how many times you come back to look at it.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope your Summer is just as sweet.

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Craig

From Scottsdale Artists School Monday-night Open Session comes this portrait of “Craig”.

Did I tell you I am a sap for a long-haired guy? Well, I am!

When I went to college in the 1970′s, I met (and hero-worshiped) the campus rebel. Complete with long hair, beard, Mexican poncho vest, engineer boots and an arrogant intellectual attitude. I was head over heels in wanting to be a freak just — like — him!

The rumor was that this guy came from New York after avoiding the draft and going to Canada and moved down to Bemidji Minnesota (my hometown and home college — Bemidji State University). People said he was actually an illegal because he didn’t re-register for the draft. Well, anyway he sort of looked like Clint Eastwood in “The Good, the Bad and The Ugly” (1966).

So, here comes Craig with a beard and long hair in an indescribable grey-brown hue, and I am mixing colors like mad trying to get to the color and tone of his complicated hair and beard. I decided to narrow my focus to portraiture to add the detail I would need to convey the beard and maintain a facial likeness.

I loved his deep-set eyes and the lighting on his face (this is called “Rembrandt lighting”, when one side of the face is lit and the other is in varying degrees of shadow). Apparently, Rembrandt lit many of his subjects this way in portraiture.

“Craig” is an 11×14 oil on canvas-board and is in the “Painting Today” series.

Thanks for stopping by. I wonder if Craig got to go to Woodstock? My mother wouldn’t let me go! Although, the rain, the mud and the guitar amps shorting out, did NOT sound like that much fun. It was a memory that had to “age” about ten years before it found positive traction on memory lane!!

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Mini Roses

Whoever thought of putting flowers in the grocery store instead of a florist shop, you found me! If you put what you want me to buy right next to what I do buy, well, there you have it! Captive audience.

Also, I needed something to paint, and the mini roses are so delicate, perfect in pink, and I know I can keep them alive longer than next Tuesday — yes I can!

So here is Mini Roses — in the pink, looking very happy even after their car ride home in the 114° heat in Arizona. I hurried a little, hoping they wouldn’t notice.

“Mini Roses” is an 8×10 oil on canvas-board, and a welcome addition to the ever — ahem! — “growing” collection of “Painting Today” paintings.

Did that last little joke “grow” on you? I hope so. Hope to see everybody back tomorrow. I think these will be some more models either from Scottsdale Artists School or shopping cart from the grocery store. Choices, Choices!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

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Garden Ingredients

There are very few dishes that do not benefit from a tomato and a green bell-pepper. I love to use them in omelets, on pizza, in spaghetti sauce, soups, stews, and, of course, salads. In the Summer, they are prized picks out of a backyard garden.

They also appear often in paintings. They have round and oval shapes, along with, as many deviations in shapes as there are tomatoes and green peppers. I took an art class in 11th grade in high school, and the tomato was our first “model” on the first page of everyone’s drawing tablet, drawn with a freshly sharpened #2 pencil. I was surprised at the large tomato’s complexity, its need to be shaded so that the lumps at the top were well defined. I swear, that our 4-foot 10-inch art teacher was wearing a smug smile as we hunkered down to find a way to get it all represented on paper. Because, I know, I was one of the students that took out my pencil with total confidence and put away a pencil that was equally worn at the point, and the eraser end. And, the paper? Dreadfully thin!

Enlightened and humbled. Art class was a place to receive a critique that was breathtakingly positive one week, and fall to the bottom of the pile the next week. And, yes, in that respect, life still imitates art!!

“Garden Ingredients” is an 8×10 oil on canvas-board and part of the “Painting Today” series.

Thanks for stopping by to see what’s cooking at Artsprings!

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Arcadia Iris

When I was living in downtown Phoenix, I lived in a small apartment complex, called “Arcadia Apartments”, off of Central Avenue and Camelback Road. It was hidden away in an old, mid-century building from the “boom era” of high-style 1950′s Phoenix architecture. A quiet, retro neighborhood, where you could still hear the “clang clang” of the Metro Light Rail Trolley, as it pulled up to the 7th Avenue Station.

In the Spring, one year, I noticed that there were some flower stalks rising up from in front of the building next to mine, by the main entrance. They looked like tulips, at first, with the divided spear-like flat leaves, but when the flowers came up and rose above the height that tulips get, with buds that were definitely Not tulips buds, I knew this was going to be an interesting flower.

Finally, came the morning — (I’m out there every morning walking the dog!) — when it bloomed. I ran back for my camera (and my film!) and shot half a roll of film on this Iris. I took the photos that I got back and finally chose the shot I liked best.

When I laid out the flower on canvas, I realized that painting a flower this close up was very much like doing an abstract painting. It was easy to look at the parts of the flower separately and not assimilate them all into one integrated whole. At least, not until you backed up about 5 to 10 feet!

This is why I liken doing a floral as the same as doing a portrait. Every flower, at close range, is unique. Iris’ are very different with all the lumps, bumps and ridges, which makes them intricate, as well.

So, here she is, in all her abstract glory. “Arcadia Iris” is an 11×14 oil on canvas, and is part of the “Previous Works” series. Thanks for indulging my inner “Georgia O’Keefe”!

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Prom Dress

I was already smitten with this dress, when the model walked on the stage last night. The dress looked like it was straight out of Vogue, with a fan-folded front, a form-fitting bodice, and a hem that hit the floor. Behind the fan-front is a one-shoulder-strap bodice, which is hidden behind the “fan”.

Wow! And the veil, with the white flower, and the very short hair and delicate features, was a lovely combination to send all the artists in the room into Painting Nirvana.

During one of the breaks, the model was talking to one of the other artists sitting near me. She was explaining to the other gal that this was her Prom dress from just a few short weeks ago!

So this IS a very special dress! Today, as I was finishing the background, I found my thoughts floating back to my own senior prom. I didn’t have a clue what life outside of high school would look like. I could feel the forward motion, but I had no idea where this magical thing called “future” would lead.

So I added clouds to the background (wispy, hazy clouds of becoming an adult, looking for dreams, finding and losing love, making mistakes and winning when it was least expected). So much to look forward to, and yet, not being able to see it, through a cloud of childhood and family security.

With grace, beauty and a good share of confidence, here comes another candidate to seize her dreams and make them come true, in her “Prom Dress”.

“Prom Dress” is an 11×14 oil on canvas-board. It is part of a “Painting Today” series. Thanks for stopping by to wish our new graduate a happily successful life!

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The Zen of the Navajo Pottery

While I was still showing my work at First Friday, I came upon an older Native American man, and his grandson, setting up their display tent for First Friday. They were selling Navajo pottery, and the older gentleman was busy scoring the circle decoration on a pot he was finishing for the event.

The pot was big and beautiful, the feather decorations, all in a row, were the same size, and it occurred to me that he had no markings to go by! The feathers were being put into the pot freehand. His body rocked to the movement of the instrument he was carving with. He was humming softly, and I was bursting at the seams to talk to him about his work. How do you? Why do you? Aren’t you afraid?

Finally, he looked up, smiled, and said, “Hello”. I barraged him with all my questions, along with some well-deserved complements for his work. He simply told me that he enters a state of trust, that his hand will be guided by forces inside him, and that the feather pattern will meet up and match where he started. “It takes patience,” he added gently, but pointedly!

Every time I look at a Navajo pot, I think of that wise man, his concentration and skill that he claimed came from an inner source. I have come to refer to this force as the “Zen of Navajo Pottery”.

In order to illustrate my point I have placed one of my Navajo pots with my Buddha Light. Patience and giving up the conscious mind for inner guidance seems to be the wisdom of more than one culture.

The “Zen of Navajo Pottery” is a 9×12 oil on canvas-board and is part of the “Painting Today” series.

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Josefina Maria

It’s been almost 3 years since we welcomed a new puppy into our lives! I decided that any puppy with such a proud Mexican heritage deserves a name big enough to grow into. Here’s a breed named after a whole State in Mexico, the “Estado” of Chihuahua. So after thinking about all the possibilities, I chose “Josefina Maria” and gave her the nickname of “Josi”. She was adorable, with just the tips of her ears bent over at 6 weeks, and fitting comfortably in the palm of my hand with her tiny front paws folded around my finger as she laid there, taking in her new world.

By 8 weeks, her ears stood up all the way, she was trying to make friends with the cats, and she would roll on her back to get my attention. With her paws flailing in all directions, she would use all of her “appeal” to get attention. Then, one day, I sketched her in her little ruse to get attention, and then made a painting from the sketch.

Josi is still quite the “attention hound” and loves everybody (making friends with new people easily). She is quite outgoing for a Chihuahua, and we just love to take her places. One of her favorite places is First Friday Art Walk in downtown Phoenix. She happily rides on Daddy’s arm watching the crowd for that special person who will stop to pet her. What a ham!

So, here is Josi, caught in mid roll as the happy puppy.

“Josefina Maria” is a 12×12 oil on canvas and is part of the “Previous Works” series.

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