A renewed resolution with pencil in hand

"In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing."

Vincent van Gogh
Letter 136
24 September 1880

As we leave the hustle and bustle of the holidays and enter the zone of the New Years resolution, I find myself reflecting on what to focus on for 2012. As an artist, all through the year, we are challenging ourselves with resolutions to improve and create new and different images. My husband has joked with me, "oh, I see, now you are in your Yellow period," as I get obsessed with intense yellows and oranges. The next few months may lead to the Blue period, and so it continues, new colors, new subject matter, new mediums. One goal for me in 2012 is to draw every day, to sketch with sharpie markers big and bold, sketch finely with micron archival pens, to integrate watercolor with my marks, to draw as an end in itself without planning the next painting. Drawing is the foundation of all great art and leads to fresh ideas, not unlike, for example, brainstorming for marketing concepts. I will study with new intensity, the great old and new masters like Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and my favorite Vincent Van Gogh and draw, draw, draw. Wish me persistence and focus!


A little of what I learned in Italy

View of Olive Groves in Tuscany from Montepulciano
 I returned recently from my maiden voyage out of the country to explore the arts and landscape of Italy. For a first time international traveler, the journey was especially novel to me, filling my senses with new landscape imagery, sumptuous ethnic foods and the lyrical sounds of Italian in the air. I realized how the benefits of traveling to different cultural regions are important for many reasons beyond the obvious desire to relax and see new sights. It is a break from one’s comfort zone, opening your eyes to different perspectives and ways of seeing the world. Here are a few of my “ah-ha” moments that I wanted to share.

People are people everywhere. We met individuals from around the world, each person open, friendly and ever so helpful; from the kind Asian woman who took time to help us decipher the automated train ticket machine in Florence: the New Zealand man who helped us find the correct bus, two couples who graciously shared their cab, to a young Seattle couple who journeyed with us in the dark, up ancient stone stairs and through the narrow streets of our hill town to make sure we found our hotel. Thank you!

Rosso Fiorentino - "Descent from the Cross" in Volterra, Italy
Inlaid stone floor design in the Vatican, Rome Italy
Art and design immersion: As a student of art, I had long ago studied the great Renaissance masterpieces. That didn’t come close to preparing me for seeing the art in person. After we explored the Pitti Palace and Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Borghese Gallery in Rome and a dazzling array of Renaissance historic sites, I was stunned by the magnitude of art and design that must have embraced those who lived amidst the wealth of Renaissance paintings, sculpture, tapestries and the architecture of their time. I wasn’t sure what to focus my sights on between the masterful paintings, the equally intense imagery on the frescoed walls and ceilings, the ornately carved doors, or the multi-colored mosaic stone floors of the quintessential Renaissance architectural masterpieces.

View of Vernazza in the Cinque Terre (sadly, this beautiful town
has been virtually destroyed by a severe flood this October)
 A tour group can be a very rewarding: We had tentatively booked our tour through Rick Steves, at first unsure if a tour group was for us. We loved our group and so enjoyed getting to know and traveling with our varied group of personalities from all different walks of life. We felt that we made lifelong friends! Having a larger group (but not too large and cumbersome!) also adds great diversity of interests so you can always find someone in your group who wants to explore that obscure site with you during your non-tour free time. The Rick Steve’s travel concept also melded perfectly with our desire for more active and independent travel.

One of our great Italian dinners with new found friends

The Italian passion for food and eating: The Italian way of enjoying a fine, multi-course meal with family and friends as the star event is a wonderfully fulfilling time indeed. We so enjoyed reveling in our good eats and company with no need to rush off to the next activity as us Americans are so used to doing.

Italian Ice Cream! Gelato is a very special treat and quickly became our perfect lunch in every exotic flavor!

The Caprese salad: Such a fresh and wholesome combination of flavors and my new favorite salad with sliced tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Yum!

Bicycling in Lucca, Italy
 The value of friendship: You never know if you can travel well together until you are immersed in the trip. We were so happy to discover that a couple of good friends can actually travel together for 2 weeks and still like each other afterwards!

Crossing a street in Rome is a hair-raising exercise in risk-taking and assertiveness training. Not for the faint hearted! Make eye contact with the drivers and bravely claim your right to walk across in spite of the throngs of “toy cars”, Vespas and tour buses storming your way.

Pizza delivery in the hill towns of Italy!

Beautiful David! Accademia Gallery, Florence Italy

Borrowing creative ideas from the past: I was reminded how so little of what we create in our art and design today is every truly new. Many of the designs and concepts are rehashed and renewed for a younger civilization. Etruscan earrings from 2000+ years ago were in designs similar to our modern hoop earrings. Renaissance painters explored the use of abstract shapes and bright vibrant colors in dynamic compositions filled with motion and emotion. An apparel exhibit in Florence displayed fashions through the decades with many designs in styles we might wear today.

Thank you for reading these little tidbits on my Italian experience. This, I hope, will be my lifelong journey, to always strive to learn and discover from both the ordinary at home and the more extraordinary abroad.


Art on Trout Road this weekend

It's been hectic after a return from an incredible trip to Italy and busy preparations for the annual Art on Trout Road this weekend. Bill Wilson has so graciously hosted this November art display and sale for over 20 years in his home and ceramic studio on Trout Road that has stunning views of the San Juan mountain range. I feel special to be a part of it all and so enjoy talking with our guests and sharing the company of my fellow artists.


The Monitor Article

Kind of unnerving being photographed and interviewed for a cover page and article, I must say. I'm usually on the opposite side of exhibitionists, usually content to enjoy my quietude. In any case, I shared a bit of myself to Mavis Bennett, Editor of the Monitor Magazine for the Fall publication, which with her deft pen, was turned into an article and published this week. It's really quite a good thing to take a moment and express why we do the art we do and how our background influenced our genre of painting. Paintings don't always speak enough for us.  Click below if you would like to see the article in the Fall, 2011 issue on pages 12 and 13, or copy and paste the following into your browser:



Quick Draw in Ouray

It was an invigorating paint out in beautiful Ouray this morning with many artists scattered about throughout the historic downtown and side streets. Doing an hour and 30 minute painting is a workout for me. With heart pumping and brush shaking I proceed to map out the large blocks and then fill in the detail to hopefully bring the painting to a finished state within the allotted time before the final bell chimes. There are areas I wish I had a bit more time to work on, but it was a great experience and good training. I should set a timer in the studio!


Final Painting: "View of Velarde"

Finally, finally got this little painting finished. I completed a large painting in-between for an upcoming show, Artist Alpine Holiday in Ouray Colorado. It's a little too disconnected when I start a painting and have a gap of time before coming back to it. I find that I lose the continuity of the original reason I was attracted to the scene. So the ending was a bit of a struggle with a little too much fussing, but here it is, finished at last.


Part 2 of "View of Velarde" Painting

Took a bit to get back to the studio to work on this little painting! Here again is the first stage:

Here at last is the middle state of the oil sketch I talked about last post.  As you can see below, I've blocked in all the color notes and more details, while trying to keep a painterly looseness. I wanted some farm animals so sketched the 3 under the big tree. I'll work on their shapes & shadowing more. I'm still tenuous on the overall color and may adjust the temperature as I feel my way through the painting in the next session since it has more of an orange tint than I would like. I may even add a vehicle or two next to the house. Often, though, if elements like trucks or animals are not in my initial oil sketch, they don't ever find their way into the almost finished painting. See you soon with the finished painting!


The bare beginnings

Here's the initial wash on a little 8x8 cradled panel I started today. It's inspired by a photo I took of a scene in the Velarde area of New Mexico along the river. This time around I wanted to share with you the stages of the painting surface. Before starting the painting, I complete a quick sketch of the scene. Even though I don't always love drawing, I feel this is such an important step to define and focus on what excites me about the scene and lay down the boundaries and basic composition.

Now I'm ready to paint! I start by laying down a wash of cadmium orange, alizarin crimson and mineral spirits over the canvas. I begin to sketch in the shapes using a varied mixture of cobalt blue, alizarin crimson & burnt sienna. Areas I know I want to remain light, I often wipe off the color to show the white of the canvas. I try to keep my paint strokes loose and adjust shapes as needed to tie the pieces together as I go along. Nothing is rigidly defined yet.

In my next post I'll show the layering of color and developing painting.


Exhibit in New Gallery

I'm excited to exhibit again at the Creamery Art Center in Hotchkiss, Colorado and will have my art delivered by June 24th. The Creamery has a large array of different artists, jewelers and potters. They also offer art classes to adults and children and have a large pottery studio and glass arts studio. It's great to be in the mix of this diverse pool of creativity.

My gardening has been a big distraction. Now that the vegetable garden and perennial beds are somewhat weed free, the landscape projects completed, and the heat is on, I'm at last back in the studio.
Now I need to get my butt in gear and ramp up the painting of my little landscapes in oil so I have a fresh body of work! These new works will be a mix of Colorado inspired landscape scenes and my new interest in closeups of our feathered friends.


The corn fields have always fascinated me with the sprigs of native sunflowers popping out along the edges of the fields. Often the old white farm houses are nestled in a cluster of trees in the middle of expansive corn fields. The proud crow was not originally in my design but he really plays an important role, helping the eye move through the 3 panels towards the farm house.

This was an exciting project for me, experimenting with 3 separate images that together create a whole composition. I thought it would be an easy exercise but it proved to be more difficult in the challenge of treating each panel as an individual composition but yet flow the design throughout the panels. I hope to do more!
This triptych landscape is made up of 3 15x30 inch cradled panels. The 2 inch sides are painted black.


Art Opening Draws a Crowd at Downtown Gallery

Art Opening Draws a Crowd at Downtown Gallery: "'Out of the West' features new works by artists Dan Deuter, Barbara Churchley and Gina Grundemann."


Out of the West ~ Opening Reception

The opening reception for the "Out of the West" exhibit was a great success. The 3 artists represented in the exhibit include, as seen in photo above, Barbara Churchley, Dan Deuter and myself. I enjoyed the great conversations, meeting new friends and seeing old friends again. The opening of a reception is so good for getting out there with the public, talking art, and getting a perspective from the viewers on new pieces that had not yet seen the light of day in an open forum. At the same time, it is rather exhausting and I wouldn't want to do it every week! The show continues through March at Around the Corner Gallery in Montrose Colorado.


Final Touchs

I have several new landscape paintings heading to the gallery for the "Out of the West" Colorado art show I am exhibiting with 2 other artists at Around the Corner Art Gallery in Montrose Colorado. The Montrose art exhibit opens Friday, March 4th and the art show continues through March. Dan Deuter and I are Montrose artists, Barbara Churchley is a Cedaredge artist, all of us western slope artists living to the west of the Denver metro area.

Often for me, the finishing of the paintings can be quite trying and frustrating as I try to resolve problems in a painting where the solution isn't always clear. But now I am happily just about there so it's off to photograph and frame the paintings, then deliver to the gallery.


"Art is the thing an artist does.

It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.

Art is not in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist."

~ Seth Godin


Facinating quote that invites an intriguing discussion about art. I believe that art begins in this way... it begins as a solo journey by the artist seeking to express something that outwarding may be seen as frivolous and non-essential. Often an artist's voice of doubt can easilly overcome a creative act by calling itself the logical voice of reason. To be a spontaneous act of creation, doubt must be stamped out so the art can be made possible.

Once the art work is revealed to others, I feel the painting or sculpture becomes transformed and redefined by the eye of the beholders. It doesn't truly become defined until the response from the artist is joined with the response from the viewers.


New Beginnings

I've left the small 6x6s for now and have been focusing on large paintings for a show at Around the Corner Gallery that opens the first Friday of March. Here's "San Juan Shimmer". It is a 24x26" original oil on panel and will be showcased in the Western Art Collector magazine coming out soon and will be viewable in person at the gallery. Was a joy to paint alla prima, meaning that I completed the painting in one furiously energetic act, sliding and scraping paint around, revealing hidden colors, mixing on the surface to create new colors, living in the moment. It truly was a being in the zone moment filled with flow. Now why can't all painting days be like this?