Making Magic

Georgia Adams & Farmers State Bank

It isn't often you get the opportunity to make magic; make the "never happened", a reality.

As artists, waving our brushes over paper or canvas brings someone's visual wish to life. Creating a commission painting is just that.

The Farmers State Bank is a "make magic"painting. Georgia Adams requested it, describing the scene at our first meeting - a snowy night in front of the bank, after closing and all three of her family; her father, son and husband are shown in front. Her father had purchased the bank many years ago and each one of them has worked there - just not at the same time. For her painting, Georgia wanted the scene to show how it might have looked if they had. It was a Christmas present for her husband, but I really think it was a gift she wanted to give herself.

Commissions are scary. I sometimes wish it was possible to lift off the top of my client's head so I can really see what they have in their mind's eye. Not having that handy ability, you really listen to their words. Luckily, I was given lots of pictures to assist with the painting composition. Still, I always worry it won't be good enough.

At the unveiling, my client's first words were "I love it"! Magic had been made. It's a pretty amazing feeling to create someone's dreams. My holiday season was brighter by knowing what was waiting under her tree.

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"Inn-spired Weekend"

Creative Concentration

Golden Aspen leaves in a fine mist is the view outside my office window. Makes me want to head to the studio to do some wet-into-wet painting with juicy fall colors. Then again, its wonderful to just sit here with a cup of coffee and reflect on this past Friday and Saturday.

Just finished up a 2 day Beginner Watercolor Weekend at the Methow Valley Inn in Twisp. You could't help but be "Inn-spired" by the colorful fall foliage that lights up their landscaping. The artists took advantage of the sun and hues to create some wonderful paintings!

Not only was the Inn spectacular, but the meals were over the top delicious. They were catered by Kathy Borgerson, owner, of Sunflower Catering in Winthrop. (I'm still thinking about her cocoa meringue cookies with the melted chocolate center.) Relaxing over glasses of Lost River Wine , we'd finish out by admiring the day's watercolors before dinner.

There is a 2013 Spring/late April watercolor workshop at the Inn in the planning stages now, as well as a 3rd Annual October weekend. I'm thinking we might need alumni tees!?! Join us.

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Leave no trace behind

On size fits all - really!

Outdoor recreationists have a saying "Leave no trace behind". That's how I select most gifts these days.  Maybe like you, my adult friends and family has reached the point in life where we say "Enough stuff"! What I consider is something that will be consumed and won't require any long term committment of dusting, watering, batteries or exchanges for correct size/color.

True story - My grandmother Edna always declared that her gifts were too nice to use for everyday. After she died we discovered her squirrled cache, neatly stored under the bed, many still in the original boxes. Grandma E. passed away just short of her 102nd birthday, so it was quite the pile! (She's lucky the bed had lots of clearance underneath.) The exception was the annual homemade christmas fudge my mother gave. There certainly were no packages of the chocolate goodies found in Edna's archives. That candy she enjoyed immediately. To her, coffee and fudge was an appropriate holiday breakfast to be enjoyed with the morning newspaper.

And because I was inspired daily for over a year, I still remember when a good friend gave me a National Museum of American Art Edward Hopper: The Watercolors calendar.  His paintings are amazing. The first of every month brought a fresh new offering of my friend's thoughfulness. It was the perfect fit for this beginning watercolor painter. 

Have some gift ideas you'd to share? Would love it if you would write a comment on the blog. With the season of gifting is getting closer, we all could appreciate reading about the ones you like. Need some inspiration?  Consider my 2013 Watercolor Calendar. It's the perfect "one size fits all" with complimentary shipping while supply lasts.

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Being contrary & my first sign of fall

Winthrop's temperature could blow past the 100 degree mark today! Here on the eastern slope of the Cascades, we run about 15% humidity this time of year. Makes painting a challenge. Watercolor almost dries in your brush before it hits the paper. No sense in asking for frustration, let's take another route to keep working the art - fall cleaning.

Maybe it's the extended winters or maybe it's just being contrary, but come those early, warm months I just want to be outdoors. Forget spring cleaning; I do the major straighten and scrub in the fall. Today with the outside so hot, I'm inside pitching, sorting and organizing my office getting ready for the autumn/winter painting season. Ah, feels good to be on top of this! Good enough to take a break on the deck with some ice tea. Guess this is my first sign of fall.

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Put This In Your Suitcase First

Dear friends of mine have returned from Italy by air evac ambulance. Just a few days into their bicycle group tour, they were riding the lovely winding roads when a large group of motorcycles came around the corner too far into the other lane. Injuries to one of my friends were life threatening. It was a month in a Sienna hospital before he was stable enough to be flown by a medical jet to Seattle. It's going to be a long stretch of rehab before he comes home.

What is helping to make a nightmare experience somewhat better is: they purchased travel insurance before leaving. Yes, I know that bicycling puts them in higher risk for accidents than say, an artist on a painting workshop. (I'm more likely to sprain my wrist trying to open a dried tube of paint.) I buy it anyway when traveling out of the states. The thought of my family and friends trying to deal with a medical emergency in a foreign county is reason enough to purchase. This whole incident makes that crystal clear.

For less than $90, it is amazing the things that are covered by the insurance. When it comes to vacations, that is such a minimal part of the total cost. My research quote today with CSA Travel Protection was for an imaginary 16 day trip in Europe. There are more companies out there to choose from but I'd encourage you to buy this right after you book your tickets. Put it in your suitcase first and leave a copy with family.

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Art that talks?

Wooly Boy

"My art speaks for it's self".

Really? That's a worn out phrase attributed to artists and so not true. After years of creating art, I've yet to hear one of my painting utter a single syllable. If one does, I'll be running for the house! Artists for the most part are shy, modest folks, more comfortable in the studio than in front of groups of people. Me included.

Wouldn't you like to have Monet at your elbow as you walk the museum halls looking at his paintings?

Thursday, June 21st at 11 am, I'm stepping out from behind the painting table to speak about my latest work series "Common Ground" at the Confluence Gallery in Twisp. Everyone is invited. Sharing how the series was inspired gives you a peek to my process and how these these 12 works are connected to each other. Whenever I go to an exhibit, I often wonder what the "story" is behind the work. Questions are encouraged.

I hope to see you there!

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Of Puppies & Paintings

Early to Market

Confluence Gallery in Twisp knows how to throw an opening! We had lots of folks viewing the art and making purchases during the night. My thanks for their professionalism from first contact to do the show to the last patron leaving last night.

Congratulations to Nick & Patty for their acquistion of Early to Market, at the opening. I know it's going to a very good home. Which brings me to the title of this blog.

I'm often asked, at openings, how can I part with a work of art? My short answer is "paintings are like a litter of puppies; you can't keep them all." It's my pleasure to create, raise them properly, enjoy for a short while and then find them good homes.

The reality is that it becomes a process of letting go. Once the painting is framed, I often take a cup of coffee to the studio and just spend time looking at the finished work. The painting then travels a short distance from the studio to my home. We live together. After 3 - 7 days, a shift occurs and I'm itching to start a new work. Time for the "puppy" to find a new life with owners who will cherish it as much as I do. A far more exciting life than just hanging in the studio!

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Spring Drive

This Saturday June 16th 4 pm to 8 pm, the Confluence Gallery in Twisp is hosting the opening of Eats the Sun, featuring artists Gregg Caudell, Simon Kogan and me. I will be showing my new series "Common Ground"; 12 watercolors focused on the lure of the Methow Valley landscape, both past and present.

I hope you'll be in the gallery with a glass of wine and appetizer admiring all the fine works, however......

Let's not wait. Unwrap it now! I want to share.

Here's your link to a preview of my new series Common Ground. 

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Black tee affair...

Windrows - Common Ground series

Friends, free nibbles and fresh artworks on view! Mark you calendar for the evening of June 16th.

No tux rental, black tie or cocktail dress required. Here in the valley, we're a casual bunch - so it's more of a "black tee" affair.

Join fellow artists, painter Gregg Caudell, sculptor Simon Kogan and me for the opening of "Eats the Sun" exhibit at the Confluence in Twisp. My studio lights have been burning bright for the past 5 months, but now it's time to step back with a glass of wine in hand and enjoy the collection. I'm eager to share my Common Ground watercolor series; 12 new paintings created just for this show.

Inspired? I'll be teaching Quick Start Watercolors - Even if You Think You Can't Paint; a beginner/curious non artist watercolor class on July 14th, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at my studio. Let me show you the simple building blocks that will give you success with watercolors. Cost is $97. Sign up by contacting the Confluence at 997-2787.  

Space is limited, so register early.

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5 Things to Know Before Your First Art Class

5 Things to Know Before Your First Art Class

by Paula Christen, watercolor painter and teacher

It makes you excited and nervous all at once. Day one of the art class, you finally signed up for, is almost here. I still remember that feeling. Now, speaking as a watercolor painter and workshop teacher let me share 5 things to know before your first class:

1. If the class description said "Beginners", it means just that; never having done it before or having only the smallest amount of experience. You are not expected to know anything about this. Really!

2. Supply lists are sometimes overloaded. If it looks too much for your budget, call and ask the teacher what are the minimum materials needed at first. You can buy more as the class progresses.

3. There are always "ringers" in a class; someone who obviously is not a true beginner, BUT on the other hand, there will always be another with less knowledge than you. Adopt a spirit of adventure and enjoy the class.

4. Mistakes are encouraged! It means your teacher is doing a great job and you are getting hands on practice. Anything worth doing well, is worth messing up many times before you get to perfect.

5. When someone tells you that they like your work (and they will) resist pointing out the flaws. Don’t insult their good taste in art! Learn to say "thank you" and stop there.
Studio classes are available. Check for open dates on my website "How To Watercolor" menu page. Questions? Email or call.

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