Friday, October 30, 2009

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday we spent a half a day driving along the San Pedro River. I use the term "river" with some reservation since it had no water in it no matter where we have seen it. You can tell that it is a river by the cottonwoods that grow along the banks and twist and turn with the river's course along the length of it. They are just beginning to turn yellow, we were too early to see much of the fall colors. This is one of the washes that drain to the river, most of the washes were deep, so at times there must be water in these!

Today, we drove to the Safford/Thatcher, AZ areas. It was not that scenic per se, but on the trip there as we neared Safford there was a sign for Lake Roper State Park. Well, on the way back we could not help but go in and see what "our" lake looked like. It was a small lake, but the way the State Park System had designed this area was remarkable. They have wonderful RV facilities, natural hot spring hot tubs, fishing, lots of waterfowl, etc. We had our picnic lunch on an "island" picnic area, that was very quiet and peaceful there. We want to return there to stay in our motorhome for awhile. I also could not help myself, I had to buy a cap that said "Lake Roper State Park".

While in Safford we found a huge Ace Hardware complex that had quite a few large buildings and took up an entire city block. Tom said it made our Sun City West Ace HW look like a Circle K! Since I wanted some copper tubing we stopped in and bought some. The store looked to have everything anyone could need, but we escaped before we bought more than the tubing and some copper wire for my jewelry. we left the store I saw a woman I thought looked familiar, then when I saw her husband I recognized them as the RV park owners of the park where we have stayed in Deming, NM so many times. I asked the man if they were from Deming and he said "yes, and I know you, you are the petroglyph lady"! The last time we walked in to check in at their park he said "Hi, we loved your blog"! How nice to be remembered at all, much less for this blog and the fact that I will go anywhere to take petroglyph photos! He gave us directions to find the wonderful Pony Hills petroglyphs that I showed earlier this summer on this blog. Once again, I realize that this is a small world.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Patagonia/Caves and more!

We started out today, planning on driving to Patagonia, AZ; but were disappointed to see the overcast skies and temperatures (with winds) of 43 degrees. I took very few photos of that area since the clouds were so low, it was COLD (okay, I am a wimp!) and there were no inspiring shots showing light/dark contrasts. So, we decided while we were so close to Nogales in Mexico, that we would use our passports and go across to see what we could find. We, neither one, had been to Nogales past our college days and knew it might have changed a lot, but went to see. Well, right across the border (in walking distance, which we were doing) were only pharmacies and dental clinics. We never did find the customary tieindas that used to be there, only taxi stands, clinics, etc. So, we got back across the borders after spending only $10 for a copper bracelet (which the tiendaria had followed me down the street after I had refused to buy it at $25, then $20, then $15 and he decided he would rather make a sale than not). Mexico is funny for hagglers....I am normally not one but I caved in and bought the bracelet for $10.On the way back through the east end of Tucson we continued east and saw a sign for Colossal Caves. Though we both are native Arizonan's and had seen this sign many times, the time for stopping was not there. Well, today was the day. I found that with my limited mobility for steps, they would customize a tour for me and just view one room, which limited the pressure on my foot braces with fewer steps. So, I did that and took a few photos. It was an interesting cave. Did you know that there are "living" caves and "dormant" caves? This one was a dormant one, which means no new formations are ongoing and there is no water present. In the other caves I have been in that were living it was waaaay cooler than the outside temps. In this one, it was about 45-degrees outside, and 70 inside! Strange!

Some of these layers over other layers are called "cave bacon"! I have seen these in other caves as well. Interesting nomenclature. No plans for tomorrow, but will be open for more serendipitous moments such as the cave today. I remain thankful for a husband who enjoys exploring and finding Serendipity where she may be!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I noticed a rosy glow to the west last evening and grabbed my camera and positioned myself behind one of the ponds here at the RV park. Check out the reflections.....

This was behind a second pond, as the sun set farther down the colors became rosier!

This was the final shot I took. These were not retouched in Photoshop, but I did use the "sunset" mode on the Olympus E-510, which biases the colors toward the reds and yellows. This isn't very far from what the colors were in real life, it was a great sunset!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Benson, AZ - Day Two

We had a morning of exploration today, our second in the Benson area. Anyone who has passed eastbound from Tucson and Benson, heading toward New Mexico on I-10, has no doubt stopped at the wonderful rest stop at Texas Canyon. This is a rest stop built into some of the marvelous rocks and boulders that are part of the Dragoon Mountains. We have stopped there many times, but never traveled off the interstate to the roads behind. Today was our day to do that. We drove to a road that said it went to Cochise's Stronghold, and since we were off on an adventure we decided to check it out. This was a mountainous area in the Dragoon's where Cochise held off the troops since this area contains fortress-like rocks and peaks. He is said to be buried somewhere in these mountains.

I had hoped our timing would be perfect for lots of yellow Cottonwoods, but it was not to be, they are just starting to turn colors in some areas. We did find some sycamores in all their glory, though, such as this one above. We'll hope to find more color as we explore more this week.

These are some of the rocks that are typical of those in Texas Canyon; very huge, rounded blobs of rocks. Cool. huh?

While exploring the Texas Canyon area, we happened upon a guest ranch called Triangle-T and decided to check out what was there. We hoped the restaurant was open, but it was not to be, too early in the season for it to be open every day. What we did find was a nice RV park and guest ranch. They offer horseback tours and activities that sounded like fun. It would be interesting to go back for a few days and stay there.

This guest ranch was built on land that has lots of history, it appears. The original 3:10 to Yuma was filmed there, along with several other movies. Also, it served as a WWII Japanese Internment Camp. There was a rock which still had one of the security antennas protruding from it there. I think we will be back to explore this area in the future.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

No Photos Allowed!

We are staying in a pleasant RV Park in Benson, AZ for a short get-away. This park has a series of ponds for catch-and-release fishing and it is home to ducks, geese and other waterfowl. Our parking space for the week is right in front of the pond where this drake and his girlfriend live. As I drove the car up to help guide Tom in the motorhome, this drake immediately started honking and hissing at me, saying "stay away from my girl and NO PICTURES!" Well, I fixed him, once we got settled into our space, I brought my camera out and put the longest lens on it so I wouldn't need to get so close to Himself. I learned the hard way that one doesn't make the choice to get up close and personal with a hissing and honking drake, one winds up running for one's life! That happened to me at an RV park in Dodge City, KS...despite warnings from Tom I got too close and this huge beast of a bird started after me....who knew geese could run so fast!

Here is the beauty he was protecting. They looked so pretty standing there in the dappled sun.

We'll start exploring the area tomorrow, so watch for more photos. The weather is good so far and no major problems with our trip down here. A minor one that could have been a major one was when stopped at a rest stop we were both outside the motorhome when the door lock loosened up and could not be opened from the outside. We spent about ten minutes and finally got it forced open. Good thing nobody reported us as breaking into a motorhome! When we arrived here Tom took the lock assembly apart and got everything adjusted and tightened up, phew!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Aubrey in Tutu

I know that some of you are going to faint that I finished two paintings with my art group yesterday and started another! It is such a joy to be painting more regularly again! I wanted to at least get started with the underpainting of Aubrey in the Tutu. After seeing a watercolor portrait of a fellow WcW member's granddaughter in a tutu, done in sepia, I knew that was how I wanted to do this. I remembered her portrait as being lovely done in monochromatic sepia, which I love to use anyway!

Since I am so proud of Aubrey's lovely red hair I have never painted her in anything other than living color, so this will be something different.

Autumn on Yupo

This is the second monthly project for the WcW group. Gina, one of the group's moderators, provides a lovely photo and we are all to paint from that photo. It is always so interesting to see how differently we all paint while using the same photo!

I chose Yupo as a ground for my painting since I love how the colors stay vivid on Yupo. I think Fall colors deserve to be vivid! I still have a long way to go towards being skillful with this "paper", but I sure have fun experimenting with it.

Rio Chama - Final?

Hooray! I think I am finished with this. Of course, that is subject to the Watercolor Workshop critiques if there is something that needs to be changed. This is one of the projects for this online group for the month of October. I have submitted it and will await suggestions.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oktoberfest Photo

This is a photo of me and my cohorts at the Oktoberfest art show. The attractive lady on the right is Sue, one of my fellow artisan jewelers and she and I manned the jewelry table and glass display case all day. Ellen, in the middle, is the club's Treasurer and had stopped by to visit for a few minutes when one of the club's photographers, Gene, took our photos. Thanks Gene for sending them to me! Sue has some marvelous designs with her jewelry and wears them so well, she is a great jewelry model and showcases her art well.

Here, I am adjusting a bracelet for a customer. If you click on the photos, you can see the details of the jewelry displayed better. I knew I was going to wear this black and white top so I made myself a necklace/earring set with the same black and white stripes as my top. It is so much fun to be able to do that on a whim....makes me look kinda like I was stylin', huh? LOL

We all had paintings for sale, also, but this crowd did not seem to be the same art-buying type that we have seen in years past. I think the fact that after 11 years our community is full and has stopped building homes so people aren't looking to fill the walls in their new homes as much as before, they are more settled. Add that to the state of the economy and it made for poor sales of paintings. Sad and disappointing, but understandable.

Check out my Artisan Jewelry blog for an additional photo and mention of this show.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Aubrey and Mickey - An Artist at Work

I called our son, Pat, last night and while visiting asked what Aubrey was up to. He said he had set out her paints and she was painting before bedtime. I don't think she really wanted to be interrupted in her task, but she did come to the phone for a nano second. I asked her what she was painting and she said Mickey Mouse. I told her to have Daddy take a picture of her painting when finished and she said "okay...Bye"! and scampered off to paint. Too busy for a chat with Grandma this time!

She is starting to see shapes and, while not keeping "within the lines", is identifying shapes with her paint. I am hoping that she never feels it is required to stay within the lines as many of us were made to feel while painting in school...I want her to have a free spirit when it comes to painting what she sees. Good job, Aubrey!

The Best Artist - God

We had some motorhome tasks to take care of this morning, including checking the air in the tires, which means Tom wanted to check them before the sun raised their temperatures. So, I grabbed my camera and we got to the storage facility just as the sun was coming up. Please pardon the RV silhouettes as well as that terrible power line, but just look at those colors. As the overnight temps get lower (finally!) the sunrises are always so much rosier and more special here on the desert.

Coni, when you see this one please have Bill look at it, he told me he thought the two of you were much more of the sunset type of people rather than sunrise! I laughed at that one but remembered it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rio Chama WIP 7

Well, here we are at WIP 7....about three more WIPs than I usually stop and take photos of. Perhaps I should do more of this because it forces me to stop and think about what I really want to do next. Anyway, I like this water much more at this point and think it integrates better with its surrounding landscape.

Do all of you have a pondering easel? I do! I have French doors leading into my studio off the family room. If I place my painting on a table easel across from the doors and open them, I can sit in my recliner in the family room and look at my unfinished paintings now and again, often deciding what needs to be done or that I am finished and should do no more. Works for me! I do know I have to add more shading near the river bank and I want to add some tree branches and sticks here and there. But, this is enough for me to feel I am making progress, so will stop for now.

Whadya think?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My SWAP painting arrived!

I explained in an earlier post what the SWAP online group is all about and posted the painting I sent to my SWAP partner, Barb. On Thursday I received my SWAP painting from my partner, Kathy Nesseth who lives in Minnesota. I have another of her paintings and this will grace my studio's Hall of Fame as her first one did. She paints so realistically with details, yet in the painterly style I love.

This is such a fun online group!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Rio Chama - WIPs 4, 5 and 6

Welcome back to the Rio Chama! I painted at the Art Club yesterday afternoon and, as always, found it to be very therapeutic to be there painting with my art buddies. During this week of intense preparations for the Oktoberfest art show coming Saturday, I needed to paint Thursday afternoon!

Here, I started laying in some tree shapes to break up some of the bowling alley effects created in the last WIP. The trees were there, and were a darker, cooler color than the other scrubby trees that were more like tall bushes. I wish I could tell you their botanical names, but my fund of knowledge does not extend to botany!. I was trying to go with what I know in working back to front, cool to warm as I came forward. In this panorama format you don't have much room to show distance so I tried to use all the tricks in the aerial perspective bag that I could.

I started laying in some of the feathery middle ground sagebrush shapes, and with gouache this is easily done by putting the basic middle values in and then highlighting with a lighter mixture of the same color. This seems so backwards to me since, as I mentioned earlier, I am used to saving the lights and doing them first and then the darks. My brain is saying HUH? I then started adding more darks to ground the bushes. When in doubt, I usually start adding the darks, they magically seem to transform the paintings from coloring book style to more of a finished painting look.

Okay, here is where things started to go horribly wrong. I have never painted water with gouache and it sure is not the same as with transparent watercolor! I will scrub this mess out for my next session and start again, probably with transparent watercolor. I also want to add some rocks, the water was cascading over some of the larger rocks in the river and I guess I forgot that when drawing and painting. I wanted the river to be the center of attention in this painting, but not because it is so badly-done that it draws the eyes there!

I hesitated to show you this iteration, but if I am going to maintain my artistic integrity while showing WIPs, I need to show you the uh-oh iterations as well. So, here it is for now, once I survive the Oktoberfest art show on Saturday I will need to get back to this with my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and start making that look more like water. I did not use wet-in-wet techniques with the gouache, which in my mind is the main problem with my water, and may practice with a little gum arabic and gouache on another sheet of paper to see what I can do to make that flow together better and look more like water. This is an example of why I like taking WIP photos as I go along....the mistakes announce themselves better than if I just looked at the painting and wondered what was wrong with it. It is sort of like having someone else critique it from a photo, you notice things you did not notice when staring at the painting.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Rio Chama - WIP 3

I am sticking with my resolve to paint at least a little bit on this each day that I can. I decided to next lay in some of the basic tree shapes. It is so hard to wrap my mind around using gouache where you can put the darks in first and then highlight with the lights. This is totally against my watercolor inclinations to put the lights in first!I also darkened the cloud holes a bit more, and will continue to shade those along with the cloud shapes as I go.

I took this with my good camera, but the light situation is totally different than where I took it before, so it looks a great deal cooler than the first photo. Hmmmmm. I think the true painting tones are somewhere in between these two. I will adjust to be lifelike when I am finished with the painting.

"Editor's Note" - Now that I see this online, I see that I have achieved a "bowling alley" effect with the tree shapes I have added. So, I need to integrate them better to look less like soldiers marching in a row toward the horizon....sigh. Why don't I see these things or think of not doing them as I am painting?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Rio Chama Pano - Beginning

I know, you can hardly see this sketch on the watercolor paper. But, it is there. If you click on the photo, though, you can maybe see a few lines. I was at the Art Club and had my small camera I keep in my art cart and it doesn't pick up some of the details like my big camera. I just loosely sketched the mountains and river shape onto the paper. The resource photo was a panorama I stitched together from 10 photos while on our recent trip to Chama, NM. Barb and Charlie Lang were with us on this day and, while the scenery was colorful and gorgeous, it was nowhere near as colorful as I made this underpainting. I was having so much fun painting with my art buddies again (after seven weeks!) that I just kept choosing this color and that, merely because they looked "pretty" on the palette.

This painting will go into a 12x36-inch frame, as all panoramas should!

I completed the underpainting during this painting session. For some reason, I think I want to paint the rest of this with gouache. I have not painted with gouache for several years and want to give it a try again. I have recently seen some of Gary Keimig's landscapes done in gouache and it inspired me to drag out my paints to do that again. I was so sorry to hear of Gary's fall and need for surgery, this will mean months of his not being able to get out and about and painting more of his plein air landscapes of the West. Heal quickly, Gary!

I also have gotten Aubrey-in-the-Tutu down on watercolor paper, but will wait until I finish this one to start that. The day after I got the landscape sketched onto w/c paper, the Watercolor Workshop announced the theme for this month's project painting....landscapes with rivers, streams, etc. so since my timing for sketching this painting was so timely I will finish this one first. Sorry, Aubrey!