Tuesday, March 28, 2017


EVERYONE knows I am not a landscape painter.
I paint anything with eyeballs.
So although it will be fine to follow through on my plan to do portraits: of Rangers, of volunteers, of willdlife, visitors and even prehistoric people, I decided to take a class that features wildlife art and elegant, loose vignetted landscapes with Morten Solberg.
It is mind boggling.
Yesterday we worked on waterfalls.  Something I doubt I will have much opportunity to paint during the Artist in Residence, but I was excited about the versatility of only using two paints and white!  So I put in a little wolf.

It had so much potential.

Today, we learned a very creative technique, which I frankly failed like a ton of bricks.... BUT it was a completely different approach to how to  use paint.   
Instead of the exercise, I had a brain stop.  I just could not do it.  Realizing I had only 4 hours sleep the night before and woke up three hours before class (to put in my tiny wolf....) I took a break, ate lunch, which I had forgotten, and came back with a photo from my visit to the park last year.

You may not find it exciting, but as these were both 6"x 14" paper sheets, I THINK I came up with a way of using the essence of the land, but not the usual, tight, representative style that is me!    PERFECT for the little bits behind my guys:

Ah the fun of being an artist!!!  I still cannot wait!!!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Amateur Traveler

I have been looking at other blogs of artists spending their time in the PeFo (that is shorthand for the park) and they are young and hiking and heading bravely into the badlands.  I hope you all will forgive me if you don't see a lot of bravery here.   I am a visitor,  representing the people with their Senior Passes who do not need to be survivalists or athletes!

The beauty of this park is how much you can see in a half day.
From Phoenix it is about 3 hours and there is no casual camping or places to stay within the park.  It is beautifully vacant.  One cafe in the gift store and a few places to shop and a lot of places to learn. It is a perfect day trip from the city.
You drive up through our mountains and see the green trees and can easily find snow now and then in the winder months en route.   You can grab a bite in Payson and check out the history and see how Zane Gray lived.

Then you could choose to drive up through Show Low or across a wonderful open desolate but vast Chaparral to get to Holbrook.
Most people enter up north as they see the exit and drive right on to Gallup and Santa Fe, but go to the south entrance and if you are fascinated by the actual petrified aspect, there are still legal places outside the park to pick up some rocks of your own.
Entering from the south, you are closer to the museum and really amazing logs and lots to learn.   If you are NOT up for a full day, you can have a wonderful experience and still get home again before dark!

Or continue through the park drive that is well under an hour, just driving and take as long as you want at the pull outs.  

You will see truly amazing stone trees (NO they are not still standing.  Long ago they toppled and the minerals that replaced the wood formed horizontally, but the chunks left are phenomenal.

You might have learned all about them in the museum as you entered...) and with a very short walk, experience and ancient home of the ancestors of the cultures that still live outside the park.

A bit farther up you can view the place they call "Newspaper Rock" where those people and probably others, left their mark on brown stained rocks by chipping off the patina.  Whether for self expression or communication with others or their deities it still speaks to US today.

At the end of the drive is the Painted Desert.
A Harvey Inn built on unstable clay is on view near the amazing overlook that is self-explanatory of how it got its name!

Finally there is the last visitor center, where you can buy t-shirts, books and gas.  Have an Indian Taco before you head home or off to the wonders of Indian Country.

And none of it requires anything but eyeballs and curiosity!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Quite a few distractions have taken up my art time and on January 3, the first working day of the new year, I got a call in the middle of a family crisis from Kip, the AIR Ranger in charge! Dismissing myself from the ruckus, I spoke with him an he asked if I might wish to share the month of May with another camper.  It seems the casita will be empty as the Artist for May has a great big travel trailer and only needs a hookup in a different area of the park... so if I did not mind sharing my month, I could come in the spring.
I JUMPED on it!
I was there last year in May and found the wildlife reference I was hunting in Colorado - pronghorn and bighorn sheep - wandering around, taunting me!! I used a couple of them on my rock art.

The chilly months elsewhere are wonderful here in the Valley of the Sun - Phoenix AZ, but the summers are hell.  And our summers tend to start about March in the 90s.  YES I would love to come in spring.  TODAY it is in the high 90s and I am feeling it.

So the blog went live on March 16.  
45 days out from the month I get to move in!

I hope to update it regularly during the residency, but I understand I may have to set up camp in the visitor center with my laptop during business hours.  This will be a major upheaval!  I turn to the internet at home in town for solace and companionship with human beings.  I am a private painter but love doing demos and talking to people.  I will have NO PROBLEM interacting and enjoying my time with the public, but look forward with dread and anticipation to the isolation.  It will not be hard to fill my time making pictures.   They bounce in my mind all the time, but the purpose of my residency is to experience it.  But I tend to be a night owl and this is going to be a project about ravens....they fly all day!

The theme I presented dealt with following the ravens where they lead.
I was kept company last spring by any number of black birds that were watching me and the other visitors as we watched them.  Somewhat like useless tour guides who simply shepherded us.
Long before humans realized this was a special place, the animals just watched.....

I firmly have vowed to let the experience as a visitor - simply being there - fill me.
I want to meet other visitors, and the people working there, visiting the park for their livelihood, coming to explore, and dig into visitors of the past.  It will be trying to subjectively celebrate the experience.  Not a hiker or an outdoors-woman, I am a visitor.  I expect to connect with the nature that we all need to recharge, but as an artist I have a give that will help me make permanent those moments to share with others.....

Wish me luck!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Every Little Penny!

I have decided to lighten the load of some of my miniature reproductions on flagstone ahead of my departure.  Of split minds, with the distraction of prepping and planning and the real need to hold down the fort at home, I am putting one up a day on my facebook page.

So I am showing my first sale!

I started making these pieces as original art on great scraps of flagstone for wall decor.  I liked the brown on brown as a great surface for wildlife art.

This is the original piece, 11" wide and I sell it for $250.00.  

By downsizing and making completely handmade decals using acrylic medium, my reproductions are different sizes and directions. After I transfer them on to the rock, I  touch up with paint. It is a recreation of my own work... not really an original, but lets call it Artist-Enhanced... oh I guess I did on the small tag!!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Since October... about a year out.

(NOTE:  The diary began when I got accepted, but decided not to bore you or obsess too much by holding off to 45 days out.  My original, assigned date was October....)

November 2016 is half over which means I am LESS than a year from my start date!
I passed through the park in October on my trip to Denver at the beginning and end of the month.  Frankly, as much as I was hoping for a deadly hot month to help me through the usual cabin fever of the Summertime Phoenix Inferno that lasts 6 months or more of 100 degree days, the beauty of the fall colors of southern Colorado moving down through New Mexico and into the park, was nothing but perfect.  I understand a few flurries of snow but a rather unrelenting wind may be my worst weather problems.  The roads were full of tourist buses and the gift shop was just busy enough I did not get to talk to anyone on the way back home.
Heading out, was a real adventure.
I had contacted Ranger Kip, the AiR coordinator and my cat and I pulled in the visitor center after a slow drive through the whole park (no stops, but plenty of slowing to really appreciate the lay of the land) and he had me bring my guy into one of the meeting rooms and out of the car (again PERFECT weather, but not good for parking with pets) in his portable cage which lays flat and pops up.

Then I got to go to the laboratory where the zoologists were "skinning' two birds who had mistaken a window for open territory.  By prepping the skins, they can use the information for later study.  From there I was shown. along with the two AIR's for this year, the Museum storage.  I was drooling over a wall of original photographs through out the history of the park, but there were fossils and even some of the artist's works ready for new walls.   In the main laboratory they were using bone fragments to create 3-D printed skeletons for research!  Such great toys!

Which brings us back to this day in November...
Well yesterday.  I had a large envelope waiting for me at the post office when I opened my box.  Inside was the welcome packet!
Which included a few forms and thick printed mini-encyclopedia of the park as well as all of the rules for living inside the park.  Which is thrilling.  I expect to have it all well worn long before I arrive. 
First thing was punching holes and putting them all into binders.  I really love the little folder it was jammed full into!!
So that will keep me busy for a while.... not quite enough, but no whining!  I can dive into the history, wildlife, archaeology, fossils, rocks and all, any time I start counting the months again.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Artist in Residence.

I applied for an AIR at the Petrified Forest in July 2016 after an amazing short jaunt through the park in the spring.  One drives literally through the park and its other half - the Painted Desert - when tracing the old Route 66 on I-40 heading from Arizona through the top of New Mexico to parts more East.  It was a relatively short detour on my way home from picking up an art show in the Denver area (the Wildlife Experience had a one-woman show of my Women of the West portraits, Jan-May 2016) and I had made an early departure so I had less driving into the sunset as I descended into the Phoenix area.

The geology part of the park was somewhat more spectacular than I had even expected.   
The Painted Desert is lovely vistas of the many colors of an amazing terrain and pull offs that inspired.   But I am not much of a landscape painter.  Not yet....
However, I made it a point to keep going south, through the main road and survey the whole park by this diverse showcase of points of interest.  With my traveling companion, Thing the cat, and his condo in the back seat, I do feel more cautious of hot cars, as we in Arizona are particularly wary of the dangers of the heat.   I was only able to stop at the tourist pull outs and read the signage and take in wonders with a view of my parking space.  But they were wondrous.

As the daughter of a Boy Scout (I tell you there is SOMETHING in that Eagle Scout fathering technique... not very accessible emotionally, but excited by science and nature) I always had an ally when the summer vacations came around.  (Photo from one of two memorable trips to Yellowstone.)

 My brother wanted Disneyland.  MUCH more often, I won with Mesa Verde. 

(Okay Dad took frugal to an extreme and National Parks were much more in his budget).  I have memories of Yellowstone where the bear turned over a camper's stew pot and the tent my Grandmother brought home with claw rips from an over-curious bear...

We made trips to The Dakotas and I fantasized the Indian Wars and Dinosaur National Monument with the nearby Flintstone village, and I got a bolotie with a pink Brontosaurus.

We surveyed Brice and Zion.

and chipmunks.  I always loved anything with eyeballs.....
As we went from Denver to the coast to visit my grandparents, even there - with Mom, my brother and very young uncle - were enjoying the PEOPLE'S places:In 2013, I was in Virginia, also doing a car run, trying to jam in as many parks as I could in a borrowed car, when I realized I was now able to achieve the goal my father talked of every summer and beyond:  I WAS OLD ENOUGH FOR THE GOLDEN EAGLE!  They don't call it that anymore, but in Mananas, I purchased my senior, permanent pass.   ......THIS was the coolest!!!! I had one...... just like Dad.