Thursday, December 31, 2015


This time of year, lots of people are thinking of what changes they want to see in the coming new year.   I just don't put a lot of stock in resolutions, but I have made some changes, to my studio!
My dear Stableboy built me a wall, where some very ugly curtains once hung, to separate the storage room of our home, from my painting area. 
I used closet doors to keep as much space as possible in both rooms, and used branches for handles as I like natural elements. 

I painted it a cream color as I wanted to keep it fairly neutral but warm, so not to confuse my color choices since this wall is directly behind my easel.   Trim is all dove grey.

  I put a picture rail up to the left of the doors, as I need a place to leave works to 'simmer' a while before I am sure its done.

And for fun, I used a vintage enamel pot as a pendant light shade over my seating areas, so I can read all my art books!

I love this change, and am itching to get back to the easel, bring on 2016!

Monday, December 7, 2015

That's All Folks

The Studio Open House was a great success!   Many paintings found new homes, (congratulations to the new owners!)and there's going to be lots of clean people around--if the amount of soaps sold is any hint!   

 I love selling my art!   But not just for the cash, which is nice of course!   Knowing someone likes my work to let it show in their homes, now *thats* the real prize!  

Some are hard to see go, new and old favorites both.   I don't wish to become a storage facility though, so go they must.   And its good fun to see the happiness my work brings to those who take it home.   I also listen to what people say when viewing my work, how they see it, feel about it, what makes them go for one piece and not another.  

Something I gathered during this event was many of my plein air pieces were most interesting to others as well.  I believe my goal of expressing what I felt when at that location is coming thru to viewers, and they are responding to it.   This is great news to me.    It confirms what I've always been told---paint what you love, and others will love it too. 

My mudroom transformed nicely into a gallery!

I used my graphic display panels for paintings.

I love old stuff, and use this awesome hutch and older desk for soap display

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Now Showing!

I am having my very own, very first Studio Open House!    I have this really great studio, and lots of cool stuff in it--and I have decided to open it up and invite everyone in.  

I paint fairly quickly.  And often.  That means I have lots of artwork!   Some studio works, some plein air paintings;  some small, some pretty big.  
Plein Aire in Belle Fourche
I've also been making tons of my handcrafted goat's milk soap.  
Basic and Moonlight Path soaps

I'd really like to start the New Year with an empty studio.   So there is going to be some nice prices for those days.    What days you ask?   November 28 and December 6, each day will be from 12-5.   My studio is located one mile east of Sully Flats Lodge, and half mile north, watch for signs!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pochade Puppy

I had a birthday recently, and my husband surprised me (understatement!!) with a little black puppy.    Its a Pochade Terrier.  No, not really, I made that up, its a Patterdale Terrier.      

But for me, the first 'name' was more appropriate. Generally, pochades use a small, portable format.  I love to go to paint outs.   One of my favorite things of all to do.   I do not like hotels however, so I stay in my tahoe, which I fondly refer to as Big Alyce, or my 'taho-tel'.   And I have thought to get a small dog to take along, who wouldn't overcrowd Big Alyce, and be a companion and night-watchman.    

Meet Arty!  

And I've been spending gobs of time teaching little Arty neat stuff like not to make piddles on the floor, how to wake me up every few hours, and even to sit!   

River Ride 8x10framed     $145.
But Arty has been showing me something too---often time when we come inside (again), he makes a break for the studio, as fast as 4 inch legs can take him!   He loves that room.   and I got to thinking, gee, maybe I should be more like Arty!   

I've been doing some commission paintings that I cannot show as of yet, but did do an 8x10 of a place I went riding with Stableboy, above the Missouri River.  

But if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a tip from Arty and make a break for the studio!   

Til next time!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Paint Out!

Belle Fourche paint out was a great time!   3 days of painting in a historic town.  

 The first morning was raining and cold, but I still managed a painting after eggs at a cafe.   It can be fun to paint a day different than the sunny perfect type!     The rest of the weekend was great weather, a good turn out for the show/sale, and always good to meet up with fellow artists again.   Since being an artist is often done solo, this sort of gathering means a lot to me.

and of course, again, no photos.  I know, I know!  when am I going to learn?   Thankfully, Marcy, the coordinator, actually did snap one with her ipad.   Thanks, Marcy!

All 7 of the weekend's paintings found a new home!  And one was a winner in the show--2nd place!

A big thanks to the work of those who put on such events, and also to the people who come and support us.   

Monday, August 24, 2015

"So, how long did it take you to paint that?"

If you ever display your work, be it for a big show or just to your cousin, you will get this question sooner or later.   The hard part is how to answer it.  

I am in my late 40's.  I've been working in the arts for most of those years.   Within that time, I've taken numerous workshops, some good, some not so much.   I've painted from life, painted from photos too.   I've read books and magazines and studied hard.   Does this time count?  You betcha!   Without doing the time, I would not paint the way I do, wouldn't have the skills I've learned.   And I'm not done yet either, I don't' think an artist ever really 'gets there'.   Most just keep trying, doing and learning.  

I've painted horses all this time.   But each one is different.   To do a commission, I must really study that horse, and listen very hard to the owner as to the animal's character, plus take into account how the owner feels about the animal.    I might have a good photo given to me, but the horse looks quiet--but the owner may tell me "he was a real fireball in his younger years, and can you paint him like that?"   All of this research takes time--does it count towards how long it took to paint that?  Yup.

And while a piece is on my easel, there seems to be a need for me to simply stare at it a while.  Its just how I work.  And it is as necessary as the actual time spent with pigment in hand.   Might look like I'm sitting there drinking tea, staring into space.   But I'm not.  Usually.   And that time counts too.

So that is just not a question to be answered with a simple number like "2 hours".   In essence, the real answer is all my life.  Its taken all my life to paint this.

Dusty Road; 8x10 pastel   available at Stagecoach Gallery

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Hello fair readers in blogger-land!   Its been a crazy week, I took my daughter to college, so now have dealt with the big-bad empty nest.   Was tough for a couple days, but my dear sweet daughter has made it easier on me by sending  texts, or pm's on Facebook, and even a couple calls.   

One thing about an empty nest is that it leaves yet more time to paint.   This is a cabin belonging to a friend from the upper part of the state.   I often use black artist's tape around my paintings to section them off, it makes it easier to judge the edges of the image area.  
Connie's Cabin;    6x11pastel on Uart    $100.
  I just joined a brand new gallery, located on Main Street in Mitchell SD.   This Friday, August 21, from 6pm til 8pm, I'll be talking about art and pastel, doing a live demo,  and have a few extra paintings on display so please come!!   I would love to see you there!

Clouds on the way; 7x9pastel   $40.
And finally, this little painting is one from my workshop last weekend, well, from the plein air the night before actually.   7x9 on primed hardboard.   This was from the overlook park area, and the view was so huge and vast, all I could do was pick a teeny part of it.   Gorgeous area, along the Niobrara River.   I highly suggest a trip there if you ever have the time!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Workshop review

Hello out there in blogger-land, I am home again after a weekend workshop with the lovely Rita Kirkman,, in Valentine NE.

  The theme was about working small, which has quite a few strong points, such as, its easy to get in a painting a day, they are easier to frame, and being small, it sets you free to experiment as you don't have this huge amount of time or materials involved.

Rita works mainly in pastel, but students worked in whatever they liked.   She also has a unique way of priming/underpainting that we all tried.    Here's my second piece from the first day, as for the first piece, well, nevermind!
Sam's Bunny    6x8pastel    $50.

Rita was a very articulate, open, generous teacher.    Her drawing skills are just killer, too!    She did a few demos, and can explain whilst working.   I learn well with this, and wrote down several key points when I got home last night.    I have come home with a new excitement to get to work!   Which will help me greatly next week as I slide in head-first into 'empty nest'.  

There was also a show held in conjunction, of which I brought home a 2nd for this landscape, yeah!
Bill's Road   9x12 pastel    $250 framed

The day before the workshop, a few of us went painting along the overlook area of the Niobrara River.  Its gorgeous there!    What a great way to kick off a workshop, too!
Storm along the Niobrara;   7x10pastel on panel, $45

I will post more of the small paintings in future blog posts, so keep watching, and ask away if there's a question.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Clear Up Confusion About Glass

Hey gang, I hope this finds you well.   I recently learned that what types of glass are available can be confusing, so I am going to try to clear it up, and keep it short.

Hardware store....they do have glass, and its ok, but can have a greenish cast, and is often somewhat second rate. 

Clear glass...just that, clear, usually comes cleaned and is a better, more clear and less imperfections than the hardware variety.

White water....clear but has absolutely no green cast to it.   A higher grade of clear.

UV....clear, but with a coating that blocks most UV light.   Still has glare.

Then it starts into the glass types that reduce glare, which can be a big issue if the painting is hung in certain places, or especially if the painting is mostly darker in value.

Non glare...the old style of glass that has a frosted etched surface, but can make a painting look hazy and foggy. 

Reflection control....has a coating on it to all but make the glare disappear.  I very much like this type, "ultra view" by Tru Vue is the brand/name. like the reflection control but blocks 97% (or more?) of the UV light.   Best glass of all, but at a very premium price. 

I mostly use ultra view, due to the cost vs. quality.   It does block some of the harmful light, and I feel its adequate for most situations.

I hope this answers a few questions, if not, ask away!!!

On another note, I sadly missed a fun paint out last weekend, and will be a student at a workshop in a couple weeks, so decided to get in some plein air on my own.   I live in a very beautiful, peaceful place and love taking advantage of it in pastel!
Jack's Shed; 7x9 pastel    $50

Dirt Road  7x9pastel    $50

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pick-up Man

The last couple weeks we've had perfect weather.   Today the heat came in, whew, blah!    So that chases me back inside, which isnt' all bad, I was able to finally finish this large pastel of a rodeo scene.
This baby is a whopping 27x38, which is pretty big for me.   I took the reference photo at last year's Burke Rodeo, which is coming up again next weekend.  So I kind of wanted to finish it before then.   I don't know the fella riding, but loved the action of all the fringes and dirt flying and the deep sun hitting the side of the pick-up horses' face. 

There were lots of challenges with this piece, as I don't do a lot of rodeo scenes.   I don't know a thing about the gear, and was lucky enough to find a flank strap in real life and study it.     The size of this painting gave some issue too, but its' fun to break away from my normal sizes sometimes!

I used Uart paper, 500grit, and started with an underpainting using mineral spirits.   I let that liquid drip and run and then I splattered it too.   This is where painting big gets fun--those sorts of things can really over power a smaller painting, but on a larger one, they are such fun!!     I will probably do some tweaking on this yet, but for the most part, I'm calling it done.  

And for anyone who's confused at the title, a pick-up man is that brave fella who rides up along side a bucking horse, and helps the crazy feller riding it, get off safely.   Then, pulls that flank strap off, and helps the horse go back to his pen.   Good to watch, but I dont' think that's my cup of tea!

This week I took a little trip to Mitchell SD and checked out the new South Dakota Art Gallery; run by Pasty Burkholder.   I liked what I saw and left 4 paintings there, so if you are in that area, stop in!   I will also be doing an artist reception sometime next month!   I'll post that information when time is closer.   I'll be doing some demo's and just milling around to talk art to anyone who'd like to!

The set up for Pick-up Man...using my laptop to work from, lots of lighting, pastels all laid out on my right

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Long time; No blog

Summer finds me chasing my tail at times, the last few weeks had me on the far west side of Nebraska, riding with my mom and daughter at Ft. Robinson;  then back home for a whole night, loaded up and gone again to Iowa to take mom back home.  Eastern Iowa, 10 hours from home.   For a gal who seldom goes too far, whew!!
Stunning views at Ft. Robinson, NE

Before this trip, I did a paint-along day with some fun ladies in Dallas, Sd.   They were a great group that was willing to just jump in and give it a go!    I especially liked how each one did their own work just a bit differently, no cookie-cutter paintings here!
And now I am getting back to what I do--riding and painting.   This year I have a goal to do much more sketching when I go riding.  Well, not exactly *when* I am riding, but on locations that I can only get to by horse.     Today was one of those days.

"HOW far we goin??"
I didn't get fancy today, just a small sketchpad and a favorite freebie pen stuffed into my saddle bags.

After riding a couple hours, I got on top of this hill, the breeze was sweet and the view was good.   Copper enjoyed some grass while I did this little sketch for a few minutes.   I also snapped a photo of it as well.   It remains to be seen whether or not I turn it into a painting, but the main point here is just to get out and sketch!    Even little quick things like this improve your eye.   And its just plain old fun!    It always makes me try to remember why I don't do this more often?!   This year I will.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Soaping I Will Go....

This is how hand crafted soap starts, with a pan of lard.  The real stuff.   Next some other oils are added, and all heated to just the point where its melted.

When that's done, I start adding lye to the raw goat's milk, which is frozen first.  If used in liquid form, the lye burns the milk and it turns a ghastly orangey color.   It was warm this day, so I did this step in the sink with ice to keep that mixture cool.
Here is the mold I made from pine boards, lined and sprayed with Pam.   This mold will hold over 7lbs of soap!   I put on the heavy cardboard lid and cover with a blanket to make sure the gel stage happens.  This helps make the soap hard and usable.

The soap goes thru a 'gel' stage, where a chemical reaction makes it super hot.  It often is an odd color thru gel stage too, and it depends on what fragrance oils went into it that helps determine the color.  some make it darker, some leave it lighter.  
 After about a day or two, I take it out of the mold, and cut it into thick bars.  Then they sit.  And sit.  And sit. And....well, it takes about 6 weeks for them to cure, and they will shrink some in this time, as the liquids evaporate.   but wow, does my house smell good!    I don't use a lot of colorants, I like my soaps more natural. 
After labeling, I then take them to the stores that carry them, such as Stagecoach Gallery in Platte SD and Jungle of Flowers in Burke SD.   Some has shipped to the Brookings Museum, then  I restock my own  showcase in my studio...which is very empty right now!  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Frame Building

This is not my idea of fun.   But, I think its something necessary for me to do, so I'm trying.   Building frames isn't as easy as it sounds.   Those corners must be perfectly mitered and smooth.   The rails--the 'legs' of each side--must match perfectly in length.  Perfectly!   No room for sloppy cuts or mis-measurments.    I have found it a steep learning curve. 

Above you see the dreaded gappy corner, nooooo!   argh!!  poo!!

After doing some more googling, making a phone call and searching a framing forum, I have finally created a smooth, sweet corner!   Yeah!   Its still in the vise as you can see, but after so much struggle, its sure feels great to finally succeed!  

One of my biggest trouble areas was since I am using brads to finish them, I was popping my joins apart doing the tapping.   I have now let the glue set up a good long while before I go hammering, and use a be-headed brad as the drill for a pilot hole so its nice and snug.  I hope now my putty will dry up before I can use it all!  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bouncing Baby Girl

Today is one of those blog posts about my little farm rather in addition to art.   To me, all aspects of my life are tangled up so much that they all seem related.   This last week was hard, I lost my best dairy goat during labor.  Also lost 2 newborns, one from each of the 2 does I have/had.   

The good part is I have 2 boys from the momma I still have, and one small but perfect girl from the one I lost.   She will be bottled for months, but she is healthy and very bouncy!    Baby goats are a cross between a puppy and bunny!
Meet Triskit, the little girl from my best doe, NillaWafer.  One day old here. 

Art-wise, I went out painting a couple times, this spring weather is just too much for me to ignore and stay inside, even in my little haven of a studio.   This first one, a friend dropped by and we went to an old farmstead.   That's the kind of drop in's I like!!   We had a grand time, she made a painting of the house, which was very difficult.  I wussed out and just did the little road leading to the back fields. 
 And this is just across the section from my house, within a mile of my front door.   I've gone here several times and dont' feel I've gotten my fill yet, just something about it 'draws' me there, oh , aren't I funny?!
 Both these little pieces are done on sanded paper pieces cut from larger paintings, mounted onto board.   And of course, both are for sale!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dust Bunnies

No, the kind that may or may not reside under the bed, but the dust that collects under my drawing board on my easel.   
It is just a way of life when working in pastel.   But, this dust is pastel and I hate to waste anything.  It also contains enough of the binder that holds this colored dust into sticks to paint with.   So I collect it in a jar, where it makes a neutral mix of some sort, depending on what paintings were done lately.  

I put this into a mortar and use the pestle to be sure there are no bigger bits, and mix with distilled water....
I wanted this mix to have more blue in it, and lightened, so I added a chunk of pastel and ground it up within the muddy mix.   Also a good time to use those tiny bits that are too small to paint with.  

Oh, and you should use gloves when doing this...
With the extra chunks to change the hues, I made 4 full sized sticks of greyed neutral pastels.  Third from the left is the mix straight from the collection jar, the second from left had violet added, the end 2 have blue added.    When they are no longer cold to the touch, they are then dry and ready to use.    

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Free Use Photos

There are tons of online photos that are free to use, no strings attached.  Many are really great photos too!    Seems like a great place to get reference to paint from, right?  No worries about lighting, you get a bazillion choices for each subject, just pop em up on the good ol monitor and paint away!    Eh, wait up, maybe not.

First, even tho that freebie photo looks perfect, one of the first things many learn is photos LIE.  oh yes, they do.   Darks are often black holes, lights are washy and weak.   Perspective is usually distorted, I can't count how many paintings of horses or dogs I see that the heads are HUGE, with teensy little bodies.   And it wasn't something done as an expressive intent, its just the artist copied too closely.   I have fallen in this trap countless times but have learned to avoid it by now.   
The paint horse on the far left isn't that much smaller than the sorrel in front, but in this keystoned photo, he looks like a little pony.   Painting it this way would be a huge mistake.

Part of why some art grabs you by the heart strings is somewhere in the paint is emotion.  That emotion might be love, humor, rage, or quietness.   Its not *in* the paint--paint is just a concoction with pigment that clings to a surface.    In my case, pastel is pigment with just enough binder to hold it into a stick form.  

So how does this emotion thing work?   It comes from the hand that paints it.   If you weren't at the place, smelling the breeze, hearing the birds, even dodging the cars, you lose a big part of art.   Not only in the painting itself but sadder yet, in the experience of being in the moment, being an artist.   Don't cheat yourself out of this!

Richard Schmid has some great advice in his Alla Prima book about using photos.   "...never use other people's photos.  You need your own experience of the real thing to give an authentic look to your painting.   Use your photos as soon as possible after you take them so that your memory of the subject is fresh"   And since it came from Master Richard, you know its true!   

Plein air is one of the best teachers, so even if you use photos, you learn where the lie is and fix it.   I do use other's photos they supply when painting a pet that is gone, or is too far away for taking my own photos.  But, I have painted enough of them I can see the flaws and holes and work around it.

This was from a trail ride, the flowers were a long ways from the water, and there was no path from the far edge up the hill.  But these things were in the area--in taking the photo, I made mental notes of these other elements that would take it from boring to charming.
So don't cheat yourself of the experience even if you use photos.   Thats' missing half the fun!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

An Artist Just Paints All Day

Preliminary sketch of Spook,who has crossed the Rainbow Bridge

Well, that's what many believe and most artists wish were true, but boy is that ever wrong!!

Today, this week in fact, this artist hasn't touched a drawing, pencil or pastel in an artsy way whatsoever.  So what did I do all week you ask?

  • Updated my website
  • Got a new email for my art site
  • Signed up for Fed Ex online to ship from home
  • Shipped out a large painting
  • Checked the supply list to a workshop I've signed up for
  • Checked supplies to fill that list
  • Several correspondences with new and previous client,
  • Started a new Facebook page just for my art
  • Cleaned the studio (just a little!)
  • Bought some supplies in a bigger town while on a trip with Daughter
  • Cut a mat, chop a frame and frame the painting
  • Taught a class of 12 teenagers

That's besides the stuff everybody's gotta do like bills, housework, cooking and being a mom and wife and caretaker of my animals.

So sometimes, sure, an artist has the luxury of spending a ton of time on a painting, fully immersed and zoned out to the world and its great!   But, other times its just plain old icky work!   And like many artists, I have to do all those jobs myself.

Today I do want to give a huge shout out Thank You to godaddy--this site has real people to answer the phone and the kindest fella, Michael, walked me thru a lot of the website updates.    I highly recommend this site for domain names, websites and email that is all connected, making things easier.   
The final painting still on the easel with the printed photo.   The owner told me the horse was black, so I had to rely my own knowledge of horse colors as the photo shows too much red/rusty tones.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Spook and some words on glass.

This week was pretty fun, working on this lovely black gelding named Spook.   The client sent 3 very nice photos, and we both liked this view best.   I removed the halter to show more of his face.   The owner also liked fall colors, so I used that idea for the background.   

This is 14x14 on Uart 600 paper.   I first toned it reddish with alkyd paint.   I do several sheets like this, letting it run and drip, or splattering it, brushing it on all directions.   I used a brick color as it makes the painting warm from the start.  

I also enjoy leaving some of the red toned paper peeking thru, I want my work to be sketchy in places, I think it makes a painting feel fresher this way.  

This piece will be framed in an expresso toned wood frame, light colored mat, and no-glare glass.    With a dark subject, any glare will have a mirror effect and really limits the enjoyment of the painting at times, or limits where it can be displayed.  This glass, Ultra View by Tru Vue, all but disappears, and it is very clear, leaving all my strokes and marks to show.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Easy come, easy go

I hope this page finds you--I am not getting along with goggle at this moment!    My blog has decided to not let me on to update new posts.   After much hassle, I hope the easiest option proves to work out, as I had to start it over!   Argh!   

As another part of my fun, I had to do taxes this week.   Might I pass along some helpful tips?   Keep good records!   Of every little thing!   

This little file folder is a big help--every thing goes into the correct month.  Pretty simple really.    But, it can only do so much--I didn't put in enough information.   I have a sales slip from last February that lists a painting total of $208., 'to pay later'.     Now I have no idea what painting it was, so I cannot be sure if I even got paid for it.   I figure I just paid $200. for a lesson in bookkeeping.   

I hope you can learn from my possibly expensive lesson.   

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

It's so Messy!

That's the remark I hear often by those who've tried pastel.   And yes, to an extent, it IS messy--is that so bad?   I looked like I rolled in it when I first started, but have since learned to contain it a bit more.   Here's just a couple ideas of how...
Here is how I keep from smearing areas I've already worked on.   Simple old tracing paper.  I use low tack tape, and cover the area with the tracing paper.   Newsprint or other opaque papers bother me as I cannot see what I've done, therefore cannot adjust my values, etc. on the new area.  
My cane hooked over the drawing board, on the easel.

Second tip is my handy dandy cane.  Bought from a flea market, I hook it on the top of my drawing board, and it works like a maul stick, but better.    I can get to an area without taking the chance of smudging.     I also put a rubber tip on the end. 
Anybody guess what this tip is/was?

I use the cane for small areas, and the tracing paper when I need to just leave it a while, as in the portrait I was working on--it was going to take a while to complete the man's face.   But in this small landscape, I just wanted to add some highlights, so the cane was quick and simple. 
  It'd be more fun to have a cane from a loved one, but since I didn't, I imagine this was from a sweet old grandfatherly type.   I know, kinda odd, but its my little world and if I want a happy cane, so be it!  haha!

For keeping myself cleaner, I usually wear an apron, and keep baby wipes or damp rag nearby for wiping fingers.  I do not like having my pastels dirty, it makes choosing more difficult as I cannot see the real color.   I don't much like gloves, but occasionally wear finger cots.    Other than these things, I just don't worry about it!