Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sketches of France

Remembering the beauty of France...the history, art, sites, people, food and so much more! Let us focus on the beauty of a country and all it holds.  

Video is a selection of watercolor sketches I did while traveling and teaching in France. If the video doesn't play you can view it by clicking this link.  https://youtu.be/c1oee3nYEQY

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Stealing Is Not a Form of Flattery

Stole image, 3rd step of demo
Stealing is not a form of flattery. If someone walked into your home and took something, you wouldn't feel flattered...you'd feel robbed.

The "thief" (yes it's a harsh word) @agassystudio on Instagram was using my image to promote her classes in Russia. The image was taken from my blog 10/15/2012 (3rd step of a demo). I used the Internet to translate her text. She claims it's her travel journal. It's obviously from MY blog post. She said it was from her trip to Armenia. I asked her to take down my artwork. She was assertive in saying it was hers which basically meant I was the liar. Which got me nowhere. She changed her story many times...always putting blame elsewhere and basically making me the bad guy. I posted her Instagram page on Facebook and reported her f
Final stage of demo
or copyright infringement. Because of YOU (my friends) she received so many complaints about stealing my artwork that she finally took the image down. It's not a happy situation...but maybe her followers will know who she is...a thief.

So, for the moment I feel hurt and a little wounded...but it will pass. The person who stole my artwork was selfish and wrong. What hurts the most is my emotional attachment to the piece she so selfishly took. I use artwork as a form of prayer. I painted the image shortly after my son Daniel was diagnosed with cancer (story here). The pomegranate is a symbol of life. It was my prayer to God during that difficult time...you see, the pomegranate is a sign of life in abundance. On a happy note...today my son is in remission. She can't take that joy from me!

Many people have offered advice...put watermarks on my artwork, sign, date and so on. It does little to nothing to protect artwork against people who WANT to steal. The truth is it takes little skill to use a photo program to remove a signature, crop off a signature... I had an entire book scanned, translated to Persian and printed in the Middle East. My U.S. publisher had lots of lawyers but nothing could be done. When things go out into the world (more specifically out of the country) there is little to nothing we can do about it. We have NO control over dishonest people.

I have two choices: Quit sharing -or- Continue to share. I choose to believe in the goodness of others. My life is enriched by the joy of creativity, sharing, inspiration, encouragement...and you. So my answer is I will continue to share.


P.S. I want to thank the person who anonymously notified me that my image was taken. 
You're a jewel!

Monday, October 5, 2015

What Are You Waiting For?

Have you ever wanted something so bad it was all you could think about? Me to! Ever since third grade I wanted to be an artist. The older I got the more complicated life became. My hopes and dreams became something I would obtain later. What was I waiting for?  I was waiting for my children to be older, to have more time, more energy, more money, to have my house work finished, my errands done, to be encouraged... The truth is I was better at finding reasons why I wasn't living my dream then putting the energy into making it happen. So what was the problem? Simply put…ME! It’s easier to make excuses then taking responsibility and making it happen. 

The honest-to-goodness truth is I had to change my thinking. I didn’t value my time. I’m not alone here…its common thinking among women to see what we do for others as more valuable than feeding ourselves. What we fail to see is creativity is the core of who we are.

Every day has 24 hours. We’re never going to have EXTRA time. It doesn't exist! Time will always run out at the end of the day. Family will need us, friends will come calling, laundry will need folding, dishes washed…Trust me these things will be their tomorrow.  Begin today no matter how small a step.

We make the choices of how we spend our time…PERIOD. What are you waiting for? Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.  Proverb 13:12

These sketches show how everyday tasks can be an opportunity to draw. I have countless pages of daily chores, dishes in the sink, kitchen counter with its clutter, lunch, furniture in my home… Start making it happen.

Happy Sketching!


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Wish I Had Your Talent

My hands are no longer young but they are skilled.
How many times have we heard the line "Wish I had your talent"? The comment is usually made as a affirmation of something nice we have created or a gesture of recognition. I usually just say thank you and go on with my work. But sometimes I wonder if they had any idea the amount of time, devotion, sacrifice... and work that has gone into learning my craft would they still consider it wonderful? 
Watercolors and I go back many years. I was 9 years old.
Talent-Gift or Skill? If I have a talent or gift it is my desire. My desire to create, learn, to push past those points of frustration when I thought I couldn't do it. It's all learning, every step of the way (especially the flops). Each day I push forward, struggle, and challenge myself to learn and grow. The work doesn't need to be brilliant...I just need to start. So maybe you weren't born with a gift or talent (neither was I) but you can learn this skill...trust me!

Happy Painting!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Summer of 2015

Swenson Family
What a summer it has been!! June started with a family reunion at Lake of the Ozarks, MO. It's rare
for the Swenson clan to gather all in one place. My husband's family is scattered all across the country. It was so much fun to steal away with my sister-in-laws for hours of giggles...girl time! While in Missouri Cathy Johnson and I had a chance to get together. Our husband's joined us for
Cathy & Joseph
lunch and we had just enough time for a quick sketch before it was time to drive back to be with family.

Shortly after returning home I was off again for a Road Trip with my sketching buddy Judy Schroeder. We had been planning the trip 
for months. With all our sketching gear packed we took off for a delightful adventure to Northern California. We took the scenic roads along the coast, stopped in tiny town, historic spots and sketched to our hearts delight. The highlight was making it all the way to Trinidad to see my oldest son Thomas and Lisa. I even got to sketch his fishing boat the "Sangria". I made this short video. Hope you enjoy seeing the journey and sketches as much as I enjoy sharing them.

Later in the summer I joined a group of plein air painters
Lavender Fields of Beaumont
in Beaumont, CA. For three days we painted the lavender
fields. It was HOT (99 degrees in the shade) but the warm breeze blowing across the lavender made the experience heavenly. 

In the midst of all this play and travel I managed to get a little work done (wink). I delivered paintings to two shows, did artwork for Pier 1 Imports, working on a project for Daniel Smith Art Materials...and I taught three workshops.

A couple weeks ago I was in Boone, NC teaching at Cheap Joe's Art Stuff. I can't say enough nice things about Joe and the Gang. Some of the nicest people in the country. And my students were the BEST, too.  They were the hardest working, focused, eager to learn group and a lot of fun! 
Class of 2015
Joe Miller (Cheap Joe) is a dear friend and we have so much fun together. Before the workshop started Joe and I had a chance to visit. He found me a whole bunch of old trucks and we were off to sketch (be still my heart!) He knows what I love. 

What a glorious summer it has been. A season that has helped restore my soul. As many of you know it has been a year of sadness and loss for my family. Now I can feel the joy of my spirit returning...my heart is healing. 


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Perils & Pleasures of Plein Air Painting

Without a doubt painting on location has its advantages, obstacles and amusing experiences. Plein air painters must have an adventurous and flexible spirit. 

It appears I am a weed whacker magnet along with other gardener tools (lawn mowers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, and chain saws). Countless times I've  painting to suddenly find myself surrounded by more gardeners and machines than you'd believe. I usually stick it out until they move on. Who would have thought that while visiting Stone Henge I would share the solitary location with a man armed with a weed whacker, but he found me! Most of the time I’ll wait out the noise and debris but sometimes it’s not worth the dirt in my eyes and art supplies.

Sometimes an unexpected surprise comes your way. Judy Schroeder and I were on a sketching trip to central California. We stopped in the small town of Los Olivos for a quick sketch. The morning was very brisk. We were bundled up and sketching away. Suddenly I spotted a man walking very quickly towards us. This isn’t always a good thing. As it turned out he was a chef. He was delighted to see us sketching his

restaurant. He went back inside and proceeded to bring us two hot mugs of fresh tomato bisque soup. It was delicious! When we finished he welcomed us inside, gave us two new mugs with his restaurants logo and offered us a show at his restaurant. 

I spent a couple weeks in Prague sketching many of the historic sites. In the  

enter of town is the clock tower. The best view was directly in front of a gelato shop. There was only enough room for the shops tables on the narrow sidewalk. I ordered a small gelato and set up to sketch from the comfortable view of the table. Within a few minutes a large delivery truck pulled up in front of me and completely blocked my view. Instead of waiting for him to move I stood up and walked a few feet to my left. When I looked back my gelato was GONE! The shop keeper saw the look of surprise on my face and brought me another gelato. Not only did I ended up with a sketch but two serving of gelato. Sometimes we must suffering for our art (wink).

Animals always add a little entertainment. I’ve had dogs drink my paint water and try to eat my paint. A cat snatched my sketchbook strap and took off in a dash up the block only to return fifteen minutes later looking for something else to take. 
While painting in the Arroyo a bluejay became obsessed with me. He spent a good twenty minutes dive bombing and screeching from an overhead tree. Eventually I figured out what he was after… my paintbrush. I held out my arm and he landed on it. He proceeded to explore the shiny metal portion of the brush. Once satisfied he took off not to be seen or heard again.

No matter the obstacles I face along the way...I love Plein Air!  I'd rather be out in the elements surrounded by the noise, dust, people, animals...than inside. I love the comforts of my STUDIO but it can never replace the joy and energy I get from being out in the world, En Plein Air!

I'm in a show at the Brea Gallery, Into the Light: Plein Air invitational. August
1st - September 13th. If you're interested in seeing the works of 14 plein air artist please visit the link for details. Into the Light

Next Summer I'll be teaching two plein air workshops in Provence, France. June 11-18 and June 19-26, 2016. If either date interest you...visit my website's Workshop Page.

Happy Painting!