Jun 26

Blogging is cool and smells like lavender

As a people, Oregonians are equipped to deal with rain, not heat. When it gets hot, we melt. We melt especially painfully when it goes from raining to 100+ degrees inside a short number of days.

This is the current state of the dog.

The cat is already so thin (he’s old) that he may just be a little puddle of hair some place in the house.

And in the middle of this oven, I trekked out to Barn Owl Nursery on Saturday to paint for the Willamette Valley Lavender Festival with friends Sandra Pearce and Cathy Cramer.

Cathy preparing a new sheet.

The “painting window” is pretty short on this festival. This weekend and next weekend are the only times that were listed as painting days, though I know other artists are trying to hit one (or even two) farms a day, even on week days (oh, to be retired…) Paintings must be turned into the show July 3, so there is a definite sense of urgency to our efforts.

I signed up, but I have not yet mentally committed to turning in a painting. It makes me feel better; if I don’t have something I’m proud of, I can back out. Yes, I’m a coward.

Saturday the proprietor of Barn Owl Nursery was nice enough to let the artists arrive a little early, so we arrived in the comparative cool of 8:30.

The owners were out doing a little harvesting of fresh lavender so they could demonstrate things like distilled lavender and lavender lemonade.

I stuck with my intention of working on value sketches before moving to paints. My overall impression is that this is good, but I need to be putting a little more into it and also working on design before I start.

First Sketch – Morning Shadows

Second Sketch – Morning on the Oak


Right now, this one is my favorite. I like the composition, the glow, and the values.

Third Sketch – no name yet

As you can see, I got pretty distracted about here.I did a background for a vertical and ended up tearing off the top path to turn it into a little abstract.

It was about 11:30 at this time and i was sweating just sitting in a chair and painting. A few more minutes and I told my friends that i was calling it a day. They took a break, too, and we all went to lunch in air-conditioned splendor with ice-cold water as the largest part of the menu.

Today was dog training class. By the time that was over, it was too hot to do much of anything. I ran some errands around town (along with all other humans), but going from an air conditioned store back to a car with a steering wheel hot enough to scald hands made me reconsider the my plan.

I sat down in my studio (not air-conditioned, but also not in the outside) and worked on finishing these paintings and prioritizing the rest of the studio.

Let’s just say I need to get to work!

Jun 18

Among the roses

Today I got up and hit the ground walking at a fast pace. Key got a nice “weekend walk” and then I loaded up the car to be at Bush’s Pasture Park by 10am for a shift as the host for Artist in Action‘s Paint the Town event.

I got there in time to set up my little spot and greet the first of the dozen or so artists who joined me through out the day.

It was an interesting day in many respects.

  • There was a children’s flute rehearsal going on in one of the neighboring buildings.
    • Music teachers don’t get paid enough.
  • Salem Art Association was having an exploratory day, so there were a lot of children in the afternoon.
    • Parent’s don’t get paid enough.
  • There was a wedding going on.
    • No one got paid enough.

For my part, I just sat under my shade tent and worked on my task of the day: value sketches. I really struggle with plein air painting and I’ve decided to use this summer of Paint the Town events to work on my skills. I checked out a book from the library entitled “Creating Impressionist Landscapes in Oil” by Colley Whisson because it contained a lot of the basic information about composition, color, value, and tone I feel I need to work on. Today’s focus was value sketches and I spent about 4 hours of my 6 hours on them.

This (on the left) was my first sketch of the day.  On the right is the painted version; I still need some darks “under” the roses.

Okay, this one may not look like a value sketch, but it was. In my  head. At the very least I spent some time planning it. I wish I would have had my watercolor pencils with me.

This one is the closest to exactly following the sketch. It has a nice mood, anyway.

I’m not sure where this came from. It’s actually my strongest painting, but like the crane, I did most of the planning in my head (which really isn’t the point.)

Anyway, six hours of hard work later I’m tired and hungry. But my hosting duty is out of the way and I can just enjoy the other events I attend!

Jun 12

Not a real blog post

This is not a real blog post for the following reasons:

  1. I have painted, but all my paintings are either at an uninteresting stage or are stealth projects. Better luck next week.
  2. I am not feeling 100%
  3. I am striking against all the idiots in the world, including, but not limited to:
    1. People who leave “comments” to see something
    2. Politicians
    3. People who post incorrect things on social media. For instance… those elephant’s tusks have been photo-shopped pink.

So there.

P.S. I wanna be a dolphin.

Jun 05

The camping gear escaped

For the last few years it’s been on my goal list to go camping, but with one thing and the next, summer has come to an end without the camping gear breaking out of its box. When I saw the East Cascade Audubon Society was having their birding festival (Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival) the first weekend in June, something inspired me to log onto Recreation.gov and find a camping spot.

We drove over to Sisters Friday night and after a few false starts, found Allen Springs Campground.

My photograph of the camping spot didn’t turn out because I had the camera settings wrong, but it was GORGEOUS. Every spot had a river view and there was a lovely short hike just outside of camp. The site is along the Metolius and only fly fishing was allowed.

After we got the tent set up, we took the hike. Just a few hundred yards down the path we found the remains of a deer. It was fascinating because all that was left was this spine and the hair. That was IT!

There were also these knarly cocoon things around that had both bugs and caterpillars.

The wildflowers were blooming, including the sage.

After we got back from the hiking, we settled down to watch the river and veg out.

Saturday morning we got up early and headed to a couple of spots the Audubon Society had listed. Deer were everywhere at this time of day, including the parking lot of the coffee shop!

My real goal was to spot woodpeckers. I’ll save you the suspense; the only woodpecker I saw was a Northern flicker. Still, I wasn’t completely skunked. I saw a Calliope Hummingbird, a Red Crossbill, and a Western Tanager as well as few birds I’ve seen around here, but I still enjoy seeing.

After birding for a while, it got too hot, so I decided to drive through Whychus Canyon (a preservation site) and then ended up basically lost and down by The Cove Palisades State Park. This meant to get home we had to drive down the rocky canyons to get back over to Redmond and then back to our campground.

Along the drive I came across this awesome blue roan draft horse. He was friendly and let me pet him as well as photograph him.

As far as birding, it hadn’t been a great day. Most of the birds I had seen, I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t come across an Audubon group and tagged after them for a while. Because I had Key, I assumed wouldn’t have been welcome, but they were very gracious and invited us along for a while.

Speaking of Key, he had a blast and garnered a new title. Key was in dog heaver because there were squirrels, chipmunks, and other rodents EVERYWHERE.

Key spent a lot of time explaining the dangers of this.

But I remained disappointingly unmoved and found these visitors charming.

Then… the incident occurred. After returning the camp, I put Key onto the long line and let him out of the car. He DARTED toward the tent and I thought, “How cute, he knows where he is” and did some unpacking. A few minutes later I realized I hadn’t heard back from my companion and followed the line to where Key was staring at… a dead squirrel in our tent. The tent was basically okay, but Key’s dog food bag had a big hole in it where the squirrel had helped himself. Obviously, this was too much for Key. He had dispatched the intruder and was now wagging his tail, proud of his accomplishment. I was less impressed and after disposing of the body took Key on another hike.

All this activity had the desired effect, and Key was tired at the end of the day.

Sunday morning we woke up and broke camp after another hike. These pictures are various pictures of the area around our site over the three days, but you get the idea. I wished so many times for my painting gear, but I assumed that with the birding I wouldn’t have time (I was right, but I always thing I can do everything.)

I’m getting back on Reserve America to see when I can go back! This time I’m taking my painting gear!

May 29

I did focus

A second successful day of painting. It must be some sort of record!

While I got in church, the library, and two trips to the dog park, today I focused on a series of small paintings of bird that I hope to sell at the Englewood Forest Festival in August.

These are not designed to be new or daring, they are just supposed to be “accessible.” I have a ways to go, but I think they are turning out well enough I may decide to do some sets of cards.

Tomorrow is a hike to explore Willamette Mission State Park and then some studio organizing to get prepared for framing purchases. If I can get just a few more hours of painting in, I should be pretty caught up and can turn my attention to some new projects.

Dare to dream…

May 28

I can focus

Ah…. a three-day weekend. It’s warm, it’s sunny, it’s lovely. So, obviously… I’m in my studio. Since my last post made it evident I needed to get busy and do some painting, I decided to beat the heat this weekend by painting.

My studio set up with extra table space for drying.

Day 1 has been very productive, though you may have a few doubts because I am working on some “stealth paintings” (commissions) that I can’t show you. But I did spend some time on these projects (started last December as ice paintings.)

Modern Charger

At Liberty

Both of these project may be at the pesky “think about it” stage. That stage can last a while, but I’d like to use these as my submissions for the AAEA show.

Other Paintings


I’m not sure if I’ve shown this one before, but it’s been on the pile for a while.



This is another ice painting start. I’m trying something new, and frankly it’s not working out. But… at least I’m trying.


Two Commissions I can’t show you…


Self Portrait

“Every man’s work, whether it be literature, or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.” – Samuel Butler

Frankly, I mis-remembered the above quote. What I THOUGHT it said was, “Every painting that is not a self portrait is about the artist.”

Anyway, it’s my attempt at a painting joke.

Day 2 & 3

My goal for tomorrow is to get in a similar amount of painting time, putting aside the two horse/ice paintings and moving to work on some bird paintings for my Englewood Forest Festival. Monday I’m going to go on a long hike with some friends and probably do some studio organizing in preparation for buying some frames for upcoming events.

Wish me luck!


May 22

Just do it

This weekend ended up being a smorgasbord of little errands and events that I hoped would help me get ready for “summer season.” I have (probably foolishly) signed up for several events and paint-outs, not to mention “my” big seminar with Ruth Buchanan in coming up in just 8 weeks.

Saturday  morning I started out with critique group (gosh… so long) and admired everyone’s work while coming to the realization that somehow I have done NO painting in two months. I just don’t know how that happened. It seems… wrong.

Still, the next thing I had to do was jump in the car to deliver two paintings for the  2017 Oregon Corgi Beach Day – benefiting the OHS.

“The Sunworshiper” and “The Enthusiast” by Tara Choate – 2016

That little task (finally) done, I did a final hike through Canemah to spread Finn’s ashes.

Though I stopped a my favorite nursery (Bosky Dell) on my way home to pick up some beach daisies, that was basically my whole day… and i was tired and wiped out. I spent the evening watching a couple of movies and vegging out.

Today (Sunday) I got up and took Key to nosework class. From there, it was a putter day. I did some cleaning, organized a few things, updated my calendar, and started a new (but much-thought-about painting.)

Arminda’s Poppies

I actually like it a little better now that I’ve stepped away from it.

Anyway, as you’ll see from the summer I’ve got planned (see below), I’m glad I got those errands out of the way and I can get back to work. I’m going to need to do a lot of it…

List of upcoming events

June 2-4 – Camping and bird festival in Sisters, OR

June 10 – World Wild Knit in Public Day

June 24-25 – Paint for Lavender Festival

July 1 – Deadline to apply for the AAEA Fall Show

July 8-9 – Lavendar Festival activities

July 13-18 – Ruth Buchanan Workshop (see flyer below)

July 13-15 – Equine Art 2017 (Emerald Downs, Auburn, WA)

August 1 – Deadline to enter WSO Fall Show

August 12 – Englewood Forest Festival (Note: My goal is to paint a bunch of small, inexpensive bird paintings for this show)

August 14 – October 14 – An Equine Jubilee, Celebrating the Horse In Art (I entered, but I don’t yet know if I got in)

August 21 – Eclipse and an “even number” birthday for my mom (a coincidence… I don’t think so!)

Ruth Buchanan Workshop



May 20

Public Service

I don’t know about you, but I talked to a lot of people who felt like this was an especially long week. I know I’m thinking: “TGIF!”

So, to brighten your day and get you ready for the weekend (which by all accounts will be lovely) here are 15 random flower photos from my walk around the neighborhood this evening.

May 15

What we share

I went down this weekend to see my mom for Mother’s day. We had a great time. We watched birds, went out to lunch, and did an open studios tour around Lincoln City called “Art on the Edge.” It was a great weekend.

This seagull came down to the patio of our lunch restaurant and watched us through the window.

I ended up doing quite of bit of bird watching without Mom because I had to walk the dog.  On the Siletz I came across a pack of herons looking to feed the young back at the rookery (you could hear the babies, but not see the nests.) A flock of cormorants was also coming by.

I also saw band tailed pigeons, what i think is an orange crowned warbler, several song sparrows, a mallard with babies, and a pair of cedar waxwings.

I think this picture of a song sparrow in the mud of the brown Siletz might have some potential as a painting, just for interesting color of the water.

On the way back home on Sunday, I stopped at Basket Slough to see what there was to see. I lucked out and saw a pair of Black-necked Stilts, a bird not even in my much-loved “Birds of the Willamette Valley” book.

In total, I added five species to my list to make 104 species for the year.

I’ll leave you with this short video of a bird walk at nearby Fairview Wetlands I took on stormy Thursday. I don’t know which is more amazing… the swallows or the rainbow!

May 08


I had a cold this week. At first I thought it was allergies, then it was a cold, and by the end of the week I called the doctor to ask for antibiotics because it had morphed into a sinus infection. Basically, all this means is I sulked around blowing my nose. I’m NOT a good patient.

On Friday evening, however, I ventured out of the house to attend the opening reception for the Emerald Arts Center.

It’s considered bad taste to take pictures of other people’s art, so I will only show my piece. However, the top slider for the Emerald Art Center website shows off some of the best pieces of the show.

As i was sitting there at the reception (trying hard not to blow my nose too hard) it occurred to me that I haven’t entered many shows except those put on by WSO…. or at least I haven’t been to many receptions.

When I liked about this one (besides the excellent food) was that the juror, my friend, Ruth Armitage (who I had sort of not noticed was the juror, so it was nice to see her there) gave a critique of every piece in the show. I got a couple of good suggestions that I will take when the painting comes back from the show. I am hopeful, with those changes, that this may be an entry for the WSO fall show.

I was not surprised I did not get an award (it was a really high quality show that I was flattered just to get into), but several other artists came up to me and told me how strong they thought my piece was, which is always nice to hear.

Saturday I attended another reception, this one for the May show on flowers at the Keizer Art Association. I had my eye on this show for my painting, “Ensata” for a while.

In addition to the “normal” part of the show, paintings of iris were eligible for the Keizer “poster” contest (the city of Keizer has an iris festival each year.)

Some of the iris entries in the poster contest, including mine. I think these images are small enough that there is no danger of plagiarism issues.

For a small show, it was a strong one. I did not receive any awards at this show either, which I admit hurt my feelings a little.

Still, at least I’m “out there” again.

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