Nov 30


I’m needing an opinion, folks.

Today, I decided to tackle “Confidence” last seen here.



I didn’t update you all about the stage where her skirt was red (with polka dots) standing on a beach.


When I took it to my critique group they encouraged me to fix the horizon.

And, though they didn’t comment on it, I never felt the polka dots really worked.

So tonight I did this.


Better. But does she need to be looking at something? I added a digital boat.


If you’ve ever wanted to tell an artist what to do, now’s your chance. Leave a comment.

Nov 28

A bold goal

Well, folks, back to our regularly scheduled painting program.

A Single Goal

This weekend I had a goal. And it had nothing to do with shopping or decorating or turkey (though those things did enter into the picture.) No, my goal was about getting organized.

The purpose of getting organized was to reveal a project on December 1. But the more “organized” I got, the more things I found I had to do to achieve that goal.

Layer 1

First on the list was to find my studio. Over the last few weeks a lot of various items have piled up in there. The biggest was this.


I have needed a new kitchen table for quite a while. Actually, it was less needing a new table than new chairs, but the table was really too big for the space. So then… well… I blame the rest of the story on Pintrest and my mom. But I got the bright idea to install a “bar” for a table using a live edge piece of wood.

I don’t want to go into the whole saga, but the piece was installed with my mom’s help on Friday.




So, with the first layer of this archeological dig removed, I began on the other things that had been piling up. Three Craigslist ads, two Goodwill runs, and a trip to drop off at the Restore place, and I was ready to begin adding some storage that had been moved into the room from another project. And that pretty much covers Saturday.

Today has been about finding the actual paintings in the studio and taking stock. See, here’s my real goal. I want to run a “cyber” sale during December. I have done almost no shows, sales, or other events this year and there is a lot of inventory in my studio. I’d like to start 2017 with as much of a clean slate as possible.

With this goal in mind, I’ve updated my website pages and made a list of projects that I’d like to finish to go into the new year prepared.

In addition to all this, I put the finishing touches on three paintings!

Learning the Ropes


I added a few more dark areas, detailed the whiskers, and added my signature. C’est finis.

The Sunworshiper


This image is from a reference photo I took at the Portland Corgi Meetup 2016 Corgi Beach day. I’m going to donate it to them for the 2017 Meetup.

The Enthusiast


This image is also from a reference photo I took at the Portland Corgi Meetup 2016 Corgi Beach day and I’m going to donate it as well.

Continuing Goals

So I’m going to work hard on finishing the other 14 paintings on my to-do list. “Chasing Dark” and “Confidence” are very close to being done, so I hope to have those out in the next few days.

Let’s hope no shiny objects cross my path…

Nov 21

Why I’m okay with losing 72 friends on Facebook

I think I’m making an understatement when I say that this presidential election has been hard on Americans. No matter what “side” you are on, you didn’t remain unscathed.

I made it through the election without unfriending anyone, though I will admit to unfollowing a few and checking “hide” or “do not post” on even more.

But when the results came out I turned a corner.

I do not approve of politics

Before I really get started, let me make something clear. I do not approve of politics.I believe it is divisive by nature. And I think the two-party system of American politics is particularly divisive. I think most issues are more complicated than:

  • Pro / con
  • Republican / Democrat
  • Black / white
  • Red/ blue
  • Rural / urban
  • Conservative / liberal

So I usually try to stay out of political discussions and try to focus on details about the issues when I do discuss things.

I really don’t approve of the ugly side of humans

When the election results came out, I joined about half of the country in disappointment. And maybe a few other things. But I tried to take it all with a grain of salt. I’ve lived with Presidents I don’t like before, and I hope to live long enough that I’ll live through them again. There is more that I could say here, but I won’t. The important thing, I told myself, is to remember that local politics are more important than national ones. And I gave myself a talk about remembering to write to my representatives regularly.

Then the Facebook posts started to come. Nasty ones. About race, about gender, about beliefs, about equality, about economics, about just about any issue that you could name.

And it wasn’t just one “side” that was posting the memes and rants. It was like the civilized masks that some people had worn lifted for a moment and the real brutality of people’s natures came out.

I find myself searching for words or images to describe how really horrified I was. Am.

So, I started unfriending people. And I posted that I was doing that.

One round wasn’t enough

The first day about five “friends” bit the dust. Probably about twice that may pages were removed from my like list.

Two days later I went onto Facebook again. Another group of “friends” were removed and I was even more strict about un-liking pages. I posted about this round of edits as well.

And I noticed something; my friends list was shrinking without my input.

Just before the election, I remember looking at my page and noticing I had (if I am remembering right) 354 Facebook “friends.” Tonight I have 282.

It isn’t really a Dr. Seuss Quote

The obvious thing I’m keeping in mind is this quote:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
― Bernard M. Baruch

Not broken up

It isn’t a shocker that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, or even that people don’t like me. Throughout elementary school there was a girl who loathed me; I couldn’t have cared less about her. Another girl, in an act of what I now recognize as bullying, made me sit through a group “therapy” session at the school counselor’s office because she thought I was “butting into” her group because I’d been friends with one of “her group’s” members for six years.

As an adult I’ve learned there are certain people and things that just aren’t going to work for me. And visa versa.

It’s why it’s so awesome that America is a free country.

The role of Facebook

America is a free country and Facebook is a completely new frontier. People are using it and other social media to do things that I haven’t even dreamed of and would probably be frightened by if I knew.

For me, Facebook is a leisure activity. The best time waster since television. There isn’t much more I enjoy than jumping on my feed an seeing a kitten video, funny meme, a friend’s children, or a fellow artist’s latest work. The horse watching opportunities are endless and it turns out the big wide world is a pretty awesome place.

To continue

Moving forward with my shorter list of friends and into a world with serious issues, no matter what “side” of the political aisle you are on (did I mention I don’t approve of that), I’ve been pondering what I can do to make the world a better place.

I don’t have an answer, but today I heard something that really hit me in my heart.

I’m sure most people have heard the following.

‘I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Matthew 25:36 (New Living Translation)

But today in church the following was read:


I was hungry,
and you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger.

I was imprisoned,
and you crept off to your chapel and prayed for my released.

I was naked,
and in your mind you debate the morality of my appearance.

I was sick,
and you knelt and thanked God for your health.

I was homeless,
and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God.

I was lonely,
and you left me alone to pray for me.

You seem so holy, so close to God
But I am still very hungry – and lonely – and cold.

-Anonymous (Taken from Youth For Christ)

This really hit me in my heart, because I am guilty of this.

So my mission is clear. I need to role up my sleeves and help.

Nov 21


November has always been a big month for anniversaries and other celebrations in my family. Over the years it has become a little more bittersweet as we have had a few deaths near the holidays that we also remember.

This year I am adding another milestone to our November calendar. Today marks one year since I moved into my Salem home.


The last year has had a lot of twists and turns. In fact, this doodle I made the other day is a good representation of the last year.


Forward and back, up and down. And probably any other mix of adjectives you care to insert.

But as I’m writing this tonight, I feel like a good year is ahead of me. Most things are unpacked. I’m emotionally and physically on the mend. I’ll probably be saying goodbye to two pets in the next year, but that’s the price we pay for unconditional love, and Key is ready and willing to fill the gap. While my family is small, it’s loving. And I’m learning to make new friends and working out how to keep up with old ones. I joined a new church today, which makes me miss my old one, but it’s good to be back in a community. My job is still enjoyable and stable. And my art life is free and clear.

So, though this last year has been–well, see the diagram above–I’m feeling excited about moving forward. Or whatever direction I end up going.


Nov 20

Another year, another 6×6 painting

Since 2009 I have contributed a 6×6 painting to the Audubon Society of Portland’s Wild Art Festival. This year I painted a young pileated woodpecker I met over the 4th of July weekend.


As I have said before, I find this project a way to experiment and also to assess my art skills.

In 2009 I submitted a painting of a hummingbird and did not attached it to the provided canvas.

In 2010 I submitted a watercolor of a pelican. This year it was adhered to the canvas, but I did not take a picture.

In 2011 I submitted a painting, but I have almost no record of it.

In 2012 I submitted an acrylic.

In 2013 I submitted a piece made with watercolor pencils.

In 2014 I submitted a collage piece.

In 2015 I submitted a marbled and highly stylized piece.

And in 2016 I experimented again by using high flow liquid acrylics.

Thus, the learning continues.

Nov 09

The Incident

As odd as this is, I’ve been thinking a lot about this incident.

Either it’s the final straw before I have a psychotic breakdown, and therefore my team of psychiatrists should know about it before I am taking to the hospital, or it’s definitive proof that the civilization has ended.

  1. Sunday I went to church. I got there a few minutes early. I put down my purse and keys on a pew and went to use the bathroom. There was hardly anyone in church.

This is a photo off the internet, not the actual church.

  1. When I came out of the bathroom, I went back to the pew.
  2. Someone had decided to sit in “my seat.” The church now looked about like this. empty-pews
  3. This issue of “my seat” has troubled me. It isn’t like I had an emotional attachment to that spot. I just chose it. Not exactly at random. I usually sit on that side of the church, about in the middle. But it isn’t like I had a Sheldon-like obsession with the spot. If someone had been sitting there when I arrived, I would have picked some other spot.
  4. This person had taken my purse and keys and dumped them into the aisle. Again, I need to elaborate on my mental state. I thought this was rude. But the “culprit” was an older woman, not terribly well-dressed or put together… maybe even slightly sick looking. So, I thought, maybe she needs this spot in some emotional way that I do not. And maybe dumping my stuff in the aisle didn’t seem rude to her. Maybe it was the best she could do.
    Note: “Dumped” may be an exaggeration. This person probably “set” my purse and keys in the aisle.
  5. I calmly picked up my purse and keys and chose another seat. The seat I chose was one pew up.
  6. I sat down. I have a seat now. Life is good.
  7. Seat stealer leans forward and says, “Excuse me, can you move over? I can’t see.”
  8. I grab my purse and keys and march out of church.
    Note: This is 100% accurate.
  9. Once outside, I sat on a bench and thought about what just transpired. I’m 90% convinced that:
    1. I’m dealing with someone who is unwell.
    2. Irritation is a rational response
    3. I’m in church and the point of church is to learn to love people, even irritating spot stealers who dump your purse in the aisle
  1. I re-enter the church (calmly) and pick a completely different spot, well in back of spot stealer. I pick up the bulletin and read about what’s going on.
  2. Spot stealer approaches me and says… well… something. Unfortunately, it was now loud enough with people talking and her voice wasn’t very loud that I had trouble hearing. I am pretty sure she asked for my name though, because she motioned to my name tag (which had flipped over.)
  3. And here, folks, I did not behave well. I said, “Thanks, it’s fine.” And went back to reading my bulletin.

I need to work on Mark 12:31.


Nov 06

Resetting my inner clock

Late last week my boss came to me and asked where the October report was. I looked at her dumbfounded.

“It’s October?”

I’m not sure why this was a shock to me. I should have figured out it was October when my convention happened. But after all that was over, it’s like I went into a sort of temporary numbness. I went to work, I did normal things. Time just wasn’t happening.

And now it’s November. The clocks are falling back. I should take the opportunity to evaluate all my clocks.

So, in that spirit, I ventured into my studio this afternoon and spent the majority of this rainy day in there laboring on a surprising number of works in progress.

Watercolor Society of Oregon Spring Show Entries

I am delighted to tell you all that I made the WSO deadline and submitted these two paintings for the show. It will be a while before I know if one of them got in. The spring show is “Aqueous Media” because acrylic is allowed; “The Turn” can only be entered in this show because it has acrylic on it.


The Turn


Strategy Session

Corgi Beach Day 2016

Next, I have been working on a double of paintings inspired my trip up to Cannon Beach in July with Key for Corgi Beach Day 2016.


The Enthusiast – WIP


The Sunworshiper – WIP

Keeneland Morning

Last (I’ve actually been working on these the longest) are a couple of paintings inspired by reference photos I took at Keeneland in 2014. I got a little distracted from my goal of horse feet, but I’ve enjoyed working on paintings focused on light and dark.


Chasing Dark – WIP


Strategy Session

Yes, you saw this one above, but it’s worth showing again.


Finally, I’ve finally painted in the American kestrel for this painting, started at Margaret Godfrey’s workshop in May.


Painted Warrior – WIP

I’m liking it. I’m thinking about adding some acrylic to the branches to punch up the color.

Well, my mind may have been elsewhere, but at least some good painting has been happening!

Oct 25


I am home sick today. The dogs don’t believe in sick, so I had to take them for some short walks.

I have started Vinita Pappas‘ new Messy Palette Club set of classes; the theme is “fall color.” Our assignment this week is to create a “red folder”; in other words, find pictures of red things and use them to inspire ourselves.

I can’t follow directions, so I have been taking pictures on our walks today and I’m doing this as a photo assignment.



Oct 17

Francesco Fontana Workshop

After the convention was over, the real fun of the Francesco Fontana workshop began.

Monday – Value

After getting the room and various logistics set up, our group of 26 settled down to learn. The daily format was a lecture followed by each of us going back to our table to work on our projects, with Fontana roaming the room to give individual attention and advice.

Fontana started us out with value studies. He had each of us bring up a subject we wished to paint, then redistributed the paintings so that we were working on a reference photo with no “meaning” built into it. Our job was to develop a three-value study, then translate that into a painting, starting with the darks first (traditionally, watercolor is built from light to dark; this method is more common with oil and acrylic painters.)

I liked this exercise a lot, but I had two problems. First, I had a cold and was, essentially, miserable and drugged up. Second, the reference photo I was assigned was a building; I hate painting buildings.

Still, I did my best.

Fontana looked them over and said, “Well, they are kind of confused. But I forgive you. You’re sick.”

Tuesday – Composition

On that note, I decided to stay for Tuesday’s lecture, then go home and see if a nice nap would help me be able to paint the rest of the week. It was a good decision.

The topic of the day, composition, got slightly muddled because Fontana also introduced the issue of color theory.

The assignment of the day was to take a reference photo you wanted to work on and change it in some way. Turn it from horizontal to vertical, light to dark, or in some other way get away from strictly copying the reference photo.

Wednesday – Color Theory

I felt better with 10 hours sleep plus a nap and vowed to paint the day away. Today’s topic was all about color, with Fontana saying he had gotten sidetracked yesterday and combining two lessons.

Fontana’s color theory is to select a main color, then select the complement: red/green, orange/blue, yellow/purple. From there, select one other adjacent color (essentially you can select any of the remaining four) to give the painting a temperature (warm vs. cool) focus.

Frankly, this is the concept that I had the most trouble understanding. I’m not sure how it differs from traditional triad theory because, essentially, all colors are available in both. Fontana’s method does have the advantage of accenting one side of the color wheel, so that’s something to consider.

Fontana said, “You’re getting it.”

Thursday – Brush Work

I think this was the day that I liked best, and it was certainly successful with the class at large. Fontana talked a little about brushwork, suggesting the intriguing idea that he things in “planes” to “carve out” the painting. His point was that every brush stroke matters, and he challenged the class to create a painting in 100 strokes or less.

A few of the class members produced really stunning paintings. I was not one of them, but I’m still happy with my results, enough so that I went on to paint a couple of larger paintings along this same theme.

hooves3 hooves4 hooves5

As you can see, I sort of forgot about anything except the two color complement scheme.

At the end of the day, Fontana said, “I love your concept.”

Friday – Wrap up

By Friday, i think I was not the only one feeling the effects of a long week. The lecture was a recap of the weeks topic with a challenge to bring it all together into a single painting that would be critiqued at the end of the day.

I started with this value sketch, trying to simplify the shapes as much as possible and not become attached to particular things.


Then I began, using Fontana’s color theory (red/green with purple) and starting with darks first.


I forgot to challenge myself to 100 brushstrokes, but other than that, I hit the other points.

Fontana said, “I love it.”

I love it too. I’d like to do it again a little bigger. I’d like to push the shapes and bring some more primary color into it instead of concentrating so much on neutrals.

But I do love it.


This is the first time I’ve been able to take a Watercolor Society of Oregon workshop (pesky job…) and five days is a lot, especially fighting a cold and coming off 4 days of convention work. But if I had to start somewhere, this was an awesome one.

More than once I felt a little like this was “painting boot camp.” Fontana kept us focused on the basics of good painting, but each with his own twist so the topic felt fresh and new.

Fontana himself was charming and warm and did his best to give everyone some attention. He commented that this was the best workshop he’d done because it was so nice to work with only more experienced painters (apparently back in Italy he teaches a lot of beginner workshops.)

I have a lot to work on back in my own studio. But a lot of ideas too.

Oct 15

Apparently no one reads minds

So… It’s over. The convention. The workshop. It’s all over.

Or that’s my story as I work my way through a list of final things to do:

  1. Write thank you notes (more…)
  2. Turn in wrap-up articles (more…)
  3. Unpack art supplies
  4. Catch up on blog
  5. Take the dogs for a walk before they call the humane society

So, Thursday I was wowed by the volunteers to hang the show.


Friday was the “half day” of the convention. Mostly it’s about checking people in and a meet-and-greet reception where we gets things going.

I had hoped to offer a jet boat tour with Willamette Jet Boat Tours, but not enough people signed up. Lots of people, however, signed up for a class on historic homes with Jenny Armitage.


This swung us into the “big day” of Saturday with 18 break-out sessions, an artists reception, followed by a banquet. And my camera battery died Friday, so I have not a single photo to show for it.

Here I need to pause again to sing the praises of volunteers. All of my teachers were volunteers and EVERY SINGLE ONE of them showed up on time, well prepared to teach spectacular lessons. Can you imagine anywhere else in life where 18 separate individuals just show up to work? For free? And do a great job?

I’m still blown away.

There were a few glitches:

  • The cleaning crew took away the plastic from a previously prepped room (I panicked)
  • I realized I booked the wrong room for Sunday’s lecture and had to beg Clackamas Community College for another room (CCC is a rock star, by the way)
  • I did not realize that the traveling show crates were ginormous and incapable of behaving in a normal manner (long story)
  • There were reports of people not paying for attended classes (I never figured this out, but it was weird on all fronts)
  • I moved around some classes from one room to another to make people more comfortable, which instead created confusion (mea culpa)
  • The Pioneer Center, which had not been the easiest facility to work with in the months leading up to this event, played the part of the villain in the tale (with the exception of one person, who was a rock star)
  • I was left nearly on my own to clean up the Pioneer Center (thank you J.P. for not abandoning me too, and to R.R. and his wife who only left at my urging because they needed to e someplace else)
  • We left the coffee pot on at the reception (another call to CCC Security)

But body language of the attendees indicated that everyone was having fun, so I did my best to keep my panic under wraps.

Tara’s major meltdown

Things were going well until about 5:30 on Saturday when I started to get phone calls about “the band wants to know how they are getting paid.” I had hired a band, lead by the husband of a friend, for the reception on Saturday. We had signed a contract, he showed up, and people were texting me that the music was great. The only hitch? I had forgotten to tell our Treasurer that there needed to be a check for him.

By this time I had been doing physical labor for 11 hours. I hadn’t slept well in two nights. I had pushed my social side to the max. And, though I didn’t know it at the time, I was coming down with a cold.

So… I had a meltdown. I was crying and hysterical, even after our treasurer stopped what she was doing to sort things out. It was all too much, and I felt horrible (emotionally and physically) and because of it I ended up not attending the banquet (ably supervised by my lovely co-chair, Patty.) So me and my headache went back to the hotel where I went to bed, though I was still too keyed up to sleep well for the third night running.


Sunday things were looking brighter. Sunday is a slower day, with only the business meeting and juror lecture. Two events, one site, with the last event over at 1. I might get home before 5pm?

Indeed, after a normal business meeting and an excellent lecture and demo by juror Francesco Fontana, we were able to clean up, drop off a few remaining things, and head home.


The center painting is by Francesco Fontana. It’s the view from his hotel room of the Abernathy Bridge over the Willamette River at dawn.

Where I collapsed.


I’m proud of my work on this convention, and I think it went well. However, I’m not sure I’d do it again because of my meltdown on Saturday. That was the number one thing I was afraid of happening and in spite of how hard i worked and prepped, I’m really disappointed in myself for not being able to hold it together for the whole event.

Next: The workshop!

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