Friday, December 24, 2010

It's a wonderful life

Wednesday my husband and I went to see the performance "Respect" at the Herberger.  He was one of about 10 men in the audience. 

It was hugely fun and entertaining.  I highly recommend it to all my women friends. 

It has been a wonderful year for me.  Lots of highlights and things learned and enjoyed. 

I want to thank all of you who read this.  Your comments have helped me tremendously. 

Have a great holiday and I'll be back in 2011.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A blast from the past

Last Christmas a bunch of us from Ceramics did an exchange involving all of us making shot glasses.  We had to have 20 or so for the exchange.  I made extra and took them to the fall festival at the Rosson House in Phoenix. 

Here it is over a year later and someone e-mails me out of the blue asking if I have any left. 

I did have four of my favorites left, and they were of the house I grew up in, a church in Chimayo I had painted, my house in Tucson, and the Chrysler building.  (I just love that building!)

So, now I'm thinking I need to make some more, just so I can have them on hand for surprises out of the blue! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tile table 2nd attempt

Remember back a month or so, when I was making my own tiles for a table top for myself?  I wasn't happy with how the glaze firing turned out.  The only colors I liked were the red and the bright orange.
So I decided to try again, modify the design, and use three layers of color, instead of two.  I also didn't like the white at the corners. 

OK, so here we are again.  This is the whole design, modified, before firing.  I've simplified the design a bit, gotten rid of any of the white and introduced a new color, the bright blue.  It will actually fire a much, much darker blue, giving the design more of a Moroccan feel.

And due to a little mistake, some of my tiles were bisque fired before I put on the underglaze.  I usually put the underglaze on greenware.  But I was assured by the local ceramic god that it would make no difference and they would come out the same color.  Hmmm.  I'll keep my fingers crossed just the same.  I'll take a picture when they're done.  We're on hiatus until mid-January, so it will be awhile, but I'll be sure to let you know. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And here's another idea.

I have had a passion for white flowers for forever.

Where did it come from?  I have absolutely no idea.  But I've painted white iris and a bazillion different kinds of white cactus flowers.

This last Friday I took a few photos of my friend's white roses in the sunlight.  Isn't this one beautiful?

I wonder if it's beauty would translate into a painting? 

Of course all of these ideas are still percolating.  What I need to do is get off my duff and get to work!!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tomato, tomahto

I took this picture last week when I was putting stuff away after grocery shopping. 

I did a watercolor years ago, with cherries in a colander, and it came out great.  I'm thinking I would like to do this one, but I'm wondering if I can carry it off in acrylic. 

Nah, I liked the concept in watercolor too much. 

Can you tell I'm casting about for my next project?  I think this might be it, though.  I just love painting with red. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

We're thinking about churches

I have this series of churches I've done, the four of them are pictured here.

But I don't think I'm done yet with churches.  I like that type of massive architecture, and the feel that the older ones have.

But I'm thinking that I want to take this in a different direction. 

I just don't know what that different direction wants to be.

Do I want different views of the same churches, different angles, wilder colors, more exaggeration, or should I just stay on the same path and find some other churches that need to have their pictures painted.

What do you think?

Monday, December 6, 2010

An amazing sight

We were out looking for Christmas lights Friday night with our two oldest grandsons and saw this place down a side street.  It was truly amazing.  This picture doesn't even show the dancing reindeer on the roof!

If you live in the East Valley, it's off Warner Rd., between Rural and McClintock, north side, and totally worth swinging by if you're in the neighborhood.  Can you say cherry picker?  Those trees had to be at least 30-40 feet high.  Wow!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Home Stretch

This last week we glazed the NEXT to the last batch of tile - for the sculpture pedestals.

Here is my unfinished bench.  The end cap on the left is bare.  Pulled those tiles out of the kiln this week, and they will be installed with the sculpture pedestals next week when they are put in.

We've got a few things in the works for our next project.  I'll let you know if we get it.  Cross your eyes, fingers and toes.  It's an international call to artists and we'd be tickled to death if we were even one of the five finalists selected.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Completion of complicated work

One of the hardest things for me to do is recreate something complicated like this photo in an artwork.  It's like I can't get my brain around everything that's going on. 

So what I do is eliminate, simplify and change.  It makes it easier for me, and it "reads" better when it's done.  

I got rid of many of the flower buds, changed the dead cactus pad in the center, and used some, not all of the prickly pear pads.  

I finally finished it this week.  What do you think?  The client saw it just before I got done, and she was very pleased.  I had gotten the feel of the picture, which is what she wanted.  

Thorned Jewels

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Proud Grandma

That beautiful tall boy on the right is my middle grandson.  His flag football team won the championship this last Saturday.

We were all so proud!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The big celebration

Here are some of my family members who came from near and far to see the changes in downtown Chandler and to look at all the benches our group did. 

It was an especially exciting night for me.  Everything looked fantastic, and it was so cool to see people just strolling around downtown. 

Saturday's block party was really hopping!  Lots of people, lots of activities.  Lots of WIND!  Oh well, it wouldn't be an outdoor event if weather wasn't a factor. 

It's back to the studio today to finish cleaning up and glazing tile. 

The end is in sight!!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Tomorrow is the big day.  It's the downtown Chandler block party from 12-8.  There are going to be speeches and booths (can you say fry bread, yummmm) and our group is giving walking tours from the new Vision Gallery adjacent to the City Hall.  If you'd like to see what Vision Gallery looks like go to

My sister's coming in today from Minnesota and we're going to go tour the benches.  Then my sister-in-law and my nephews are coming down from Scottsdale.  It's an exciting time for me.  I'll take some pictures today and show them next week.

Party on!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2 Sides to the Story

Some of our tile project's benches are different from one side to the other. 

The sidewalk side of Steve's bench, Snakes and Roses, shows the intricacy of the individual pieces.

The street side, shown below, has more of a uniform pattern, and a different color treatment. 

The thinking was that people viewing the benches from the street would be driving by, so would not have the opportunity to stop and view the  the work.  People seeing it "sidewalk side" could sit down and get a chance to enjoy the full effect.  

The street side's still pretty cool, I think.  Great job, Steve!

Monday, November 15, 2010


There's two big goings-on this week I wanted to be sure locals knew about.

1.  Thursday, all day, Chandler Gilbert Community College is having their student ceramic sale.  It's from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the student center.  Prices are reasonable and it's a great opportunity to get a nice little something for some of the people on your Christmas list.  I'll have a few things there, but not as much.  Seems I've been a little sidelined this last year.

2.  The sideline.... The dedication of the new City Hall in Chandler is Saturday at noon.  There are a lot of things going on from noon to five that might be worth checking out.  The new location of Vision Gallery is open, there's going to be an artwalk with lots of new artists, and our tile group will be available at Vision to give walking tours of our completed, yes, I said COMPLETED benches.  All ten benches are done, except of course, mine with the missing end.  (Working on that). Two of the art tables are done with another three going in this week, and some of the sculpture pedestals will be in.  You ought to come down and see what's what!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Group effort (Mostly Ted!)

There were two benches out of the ten that were group efforts.  Al and Sue did one, and Steve, Ted and I did one.  Actually, Ted did most of the work on this one, at least all the simple stuff, like the basic idea, the green leafy design, making the green leafy design, designing the background tiles, you get the picture.  Steve and I contributed the grunt work labor and some color decisions.  And, if you look really close, you will see my famous Esco dots on the leafy green parts.

Ah, I do all the hard stuff....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You win some, you lose some...

Do you remember this one?  I'm going to do a tile table, and these were the first tiles I put underglaze on.  The colors, when they're fired, are supposed to be:  chartreuse, avocado, violet, rose, orange, white, red, and turquoise.

Well, that isn't exactly what I got.  The turquoise, chartreuse, and orange turned out just fine.  The violet was sketchy, and the rose was horrible.  The problem with the violet was I didn't do enough layers.  I did 2, and it needed 3.  I think that the problem with the rose was that I mixed it myself.  Obviously not a very good idea.  Ordering more underglaze today, and will try this again. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Dance of Life

Friday night was the re-opening of the Herberger Theater's art gallery.  I was one of the artists selected to display a piece.  The guest artist was John Wadell.  He does these amazing bronzes of dancers.  He has 12 large bronzes in front of the theater.

The reception was pretty cool.  We went with some friends and enjoyed seeing all the other artist's work, then Mr. Wadell spoke for a bit.  He's a very lucid and entertaining 92 years old.  They also had some interpretive dancers performing for us. 

My pencil drawing, "Practice, Practice, Practice" is actually taken from some poses I had my daughter-in-law do for me.  If you'd like to see some of the other work from the exhibit, go to and go to the art gallery tab, and then View Current Exhibit.  And there I am!!!! 

Off to the studio today to make tile.  We're getting close to finishing our original contract, so that's pretty exciting.  The City has also approved two more pieces.  So after Thanksgiving, we'll be doing some more.  One of these days here soon I'm gonna get back to wheel throwing.  Just not holding my breath!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Table in Progress

We went downtown Friday and Saturday to look at the progress of our work.  There was a lot more to see on Saturday but I hadn't brought my camera.  Good thinking, huh?

But Friday they had started on my table, and I was thrilled to see it actually put together. 

The bottom layer isn't completed yet.  I don't know if they're waiting for the rest of the brickwork to get done, or if they were waiting for the name plate to finish. 

But I was so pleased to see how it's looking, even though it's not finished, and the grout is not in.  It still looks pretty cool, huh?

The top looks even better than I thought it would.  It's great to get good surprises now and then.

Steve's Snakes and Roses bench has been put in, and looks fantastic, even without the grout. 

The group bench we did with Ted has the street side done and the sidewalk side started as well.

There's going to be a lot more done this week, and next weekend would be a great time to go down there and take a little walk.  Exactly my plan!  This time I'll remember to bring my camera!!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010


I went downtown yesterday to talk to the tile guy to correct a little mistake in my newest bench.  They had put the background "hole" tile in horizontally.  Nope, all vertical.  That one was my fault.  I was not specific. 

And got a great shocker.  I am 18 tiles short on the blue background.  Going in to the studio today to scour the joint.  If I can't find any hidden away, looks like I'll be making tile today. Kept me awake all last night. 

The good news:  they started on my turtle table yesterday afternoon.  I'm going by there this morning on my way to the studio to take a picture and see how it's going. 

I must have done the calculations for that bench half a dozen times.  I looked at my numbers and they still look right.  This is not the fun part. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2nd bench in progress

This was yesterdya morning about 8:30.  Andrew from Custom Tile LLC met me and we laid out the vignette and talked about how the background tiles would go in. 

Then I left it in his capable hands.

My husband and I came back to look later in the afternoon.  The main portion of the vignette was in - do you see the tumbleweed holiday tree in the center?  And most of the background tile was in place as well. I imagine it will be close to finished today, then grouted early next week.  My table is supposed to be started tomorrow, too.  Yeah, yeah, yeah!!!

Here is the street side.  Ted and I call these the "brain tiles".  They're on our group bench too. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ah Scarlet, tomorrow's another day!

Tomorrow's gonna be a big day.  We have several benches that are scheduled for installation, including my last one, along with some of the tables.

Very excited to get going again.  Will take some pictures as we progress and post them.  If not tomorrow, then Thursday fer shur. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sculpture pedestals

Some of you have asked me about the sculpture pedestals - what they will look like.  They're all circular, from 3 to 6 feet in diameter.  A few are attached to the benches, like the one pictured here, and the rest are free standing.  There are seven of them, at last count. 

There will be lighting set in the top portion, with some kind of sculpture on the pedestal itself.  Those of you who are members of Ironwood Studio will know the tiles slated for these as long, skinny pieces, with a bump in the middle. 

All the sculpture tiles will be glazed in manila banana, with accent tiles in celadon and brown celadon.  You may think that sounds like a "quiet" color palette, but that's exactly what was requested by the City Arts commission.  They didn't want to take anything away from the sculpture positioned on the pedestal.  Good planning on their part, doncha think?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Project progress

I thought you might like to see the progress on someone else's bench besides mine.  This is Al, and one of his benches is in front of Serrano's in downtown Chandler. 

This is the street side, in progress.  Some of us made our benches with a design made up of a repeat of tile patterns.  Al chose to design his bench as one big concept, broken up into individual pieces.  No two pieces were the same. 

This is the bench he did with Sue, using the same concept.  He numbered each one, and laid them out for the installers in the correct order. 

It's on the corner of AZ Ave. and Boston.  Pretty cool, huh?

Monday, October 25, 2010

New project

A client wanted another painting to go with one of mine she just bought.  (Sun Salutation) - see on my website.  She wants a desert theme with just a touch of red.  So I sent her some cactus photos I had taken and she picked this one.  She said she even likes the little purple flower at the bottom.

So I decided to grid it out, because it's so complicated, and spent several hours attempting to draw it. 

At this point I decided that it was looking way too busy, and I needed to simplify.  Besides the fact I don't much care for that big dead prickly pear pad in the center, and wanted to eliminate some of the flower buds. 

I've just finished the redraw and will start painting this week.  I like it simplified, and I do feel more freedom to do a good job without having to slavishly stick to the original.  One thing I will have to be careful of is putting in the shadows at the end.  Eliminating some pads and some flower buds will change how the shadows fall. It will be a good exercise in observation and execution.

I'll keep you posted with it's progress. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

DONE ! ! !

I just got back from seeing my bench - finished now!!!  It looks like I just missed the guys putting in the grout - it was still wet.  It does seem a little dark, but I think it will look fine once it's dry.  I'm so impressed with the job the tile setter's did.  The picture at the bottom shows the street side. 
So..... what do you think?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's actually happening!

Looky, looky, little cookie.  The installers started on my first bench yesterday, about 10:30.  I went back with my husband at about 5 and took this picture.  Everything on the sidewalk side is in except for the tiles they had to cut, and it is BE UUU TEE FULLL.  I couldn't possibly be more tickled.  This has been a long road, and to see it become reality is just a dream.  If you want to see it and are in downtown Chandler this weekend, this bench is at the corner of Buffalo and Arizona Avenue, right down the street from Sushi Eye.  Al and Sue's bench is in at AZ Ave. and Boston, and there's another down by Serrano's that's close to done.  This is just too cool.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Making a table

I've wanted to have a couple of tile tables for my backyard for a long time.  Now that I can actually make my own tile, it's time to start this new project, as the other will be winding down sometime in November. 

I got these cool napkins for Tom's birthday party a couple of weeks ago, and I really liked the pattern. Ordered the table from and it came in last week.  I need four six inchers and 8 - 2.5 X 6 inchers, and four 2.5 squares for the corners. 

I adapted the pattern from the napkin, changed some colors and sizes, simplified, and added my signature dots to these pieces.  It's hard to see the true colors because it hasn't been fired yet, but I'll show you when it comes out of the kiln.  I'm thinking I'm going to do some form of wavy lines for the side pieces, using all of the colors in the tile, then maybe a solid for the corners.  Can't wait to see how it looks when it gets fired. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's Crunch time.

No pictures today, just an update on tile.

My benches will be installed this week.  How cool is that?  Wednesday morning the horned toad bench will be installed at the corner of AZ Ave, just one block south of Chandler Blvd., on the west side of the street.  I'm going to go supervise the installers for a little while in the morning.  Bringing my chair, umbrella, and bossiest voice. 

The other one's across and south of the new City Hall.  It will either be later in the day or later in the week.  Playing by ear.  The tables haven't been poured yet, so we're waiting to see on those.  Our deadline is Nov. 20, and I think we just may be close to finished by then. 

New idea:  bought a tile table for my backyard, now I have to make the tiles.  There was a cool paper napkin I bought for my husband's birthday party.  I liked the pattern so much I'm going to do an adaption for my table.  The same feel, just different colors and a MUCH SIMPLER pattern.  I'll keep you posted on how it's going.  I've never done a tile table before, but so what!  Time to learn to do a new thing. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Done, Done, Done

The original's on the left, the painting's on the right.

So, how'd I do?

The painting is gonna be my Christmas card this year.  I just have to figure out how to get that done.  Anyone know an online spot that does that?  If so, let me know asap.

On to the next thing.  Think I'm going back to drawing this week.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Finishing Steps

We're almost there!  I've deepened all the colors as far as I can take them, and put in some lines.  There's a lot more lines in the original photo, but I'm afraid I'll get too junky.

So the last thing to do is take off the masking fluid.  See picture below, with the masking fluid removed. 

Then I'll paint in the pistils, make my corrections, and I'm done.

Tile update:  All the tile for my benches is at Vision Gallery.  Delivered 18 boxes Thursday and Friday.  I'm getting so nervous about the installation.  Hope everything goes OK.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We're almost there

I got in another hour on the painting yesterday after the last storm.  Deepened and darkened colors and contrasts.  I am almost ready for the last phase of putting in the little lines.  I want to add a little more transparency to the petals on the right, and I think I want to darken the upper and lower left corners, maybe give them just a little personality.  Then I'll remove the masking of the pistil & stamen section and put in the faint lines in the petals.  Two or three more hours should do it. 

And, voila', a Christmas card will be born. 

Yesterday my grandsons and I did a little project.  They had brought a couple of the pumpkins you get in craft stores, and wanted to put something on them.  Their decision was their favorite Pokemon characters.  So they printed them on the computer so we'd remember the colors.  Then I drew the images directly on the pumpkins with a sharpie, and then they painted them in.  After the paint was dry we went over the lines again to sharpen it up a bit.  They had a lot of fun and it was exactly what they wanted.  There are more characters on the opposite side, but that picture didn't turn out as well.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Next Step

Hello again. 

Now I'm starting to add the deeper layers of color.  I go somewhat slowly here, seeing what works together, seeing what I like, and what I want to correct.

Each session is less than an hour, for a couple of reasons.  First, the color laid is going to look a little different when it's dry, and second, the painting itself is small enough that  the colors will bleed into each other if it is overworked.  Then you have mud.  Not good. 

I'm also getting ready in this step to switch to a smaller brush.

Now I'm using a smaller, round brush, and I'm bringing out the brights, and deepening the reds.  I've added more yellow, more orange. 

I've also changed the flower stalk on the right.  It wasn't reading like a stalk, and now it does.  The white "W" looking chunk in the center is the masked stalks.  They won't be that light later, but it's a real pain to have to paint around each, and this makes it a whole lot easier to do.

It's actually starting to look like a flower, doncha think?

We had a party this weekend for my husband's 65th birthday.  Here's us just taking a break before everything got going. 

We had a great time, and a HUGE mess to clean up the next day.  But it was worth it.  Tom really enjoyed seeing everyone.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Step 3 and other stuff

TILE UPDATE:  MY TWO BENCHES AND TABLE ARE DONE!!!....well, except for the bull noses and name plates.  We also have 670 of the sculpture pedestal tiles made, with only 1100 left to make.  And fire.  And glaze.  And box.    Sigh.....
back to watercolor.

So, here's the original photo again.  One of the hardest concepts, I think, in watercolor is to paint from light to dark.  In other mediums like oil and acrylic you paint from dark to light.  The reason behind it makes total sense if you think about it, though.  In watercolor a card laid is a card played.  You can't take a color back out once it's on the paper.  You can't cover it over with another color.  It just gets darker.  So you have to plan to build one light layer over another, until you finally get to the definitive darks.  Light to dark, the new mantra!

In this next step I've added some of the pistils and stamens in the flower.  I'll want to paint freely over them, so once they dried, I used masking fluid to fix the color.  Again, I can go back later and make them darker, but I can't get them lighter once they get too dark.  I've also deepened some of my yellows, and started adding a layer of light peach.  Peach is a tough color to mix.  Here I've used a Naples Yellow and Alizarin Crimson combination. The Naples Yellow is a creamy sort of color that combines to give peach instead of orange. 

More peach, and now bringing in some orange highlights that will make my red really pop later on.  The prescribed method is to paint all one color, again, light to dark, and then layer over it in successively darker shades.  I like to paint separate petals, and then use some overlaps to tie things together.  I like each petal to stand out.  Starting to look like a flower, huh?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Step 2

OK, now where were we?  Well, the next thing I decided to do was fill in the background.  Normally I do this at the end with the larger flowers, because it also helps clean up the edge.  But this is such a huge flower, and there is so little background, that I approached it a little differently.  Placing the background also helps me get a sense of the rhythm of the petals.  Sounds silly, but there you are.

Next I put in my "lightest lights.  Don't give me any grief on this one.  I tried three times to turn it upright.  Got it turned, got it saved, looked at it and it was still sideways.  What can I say, I'm an artist, not a computer genius.  So, anywho, My lightest lights are a rich yellow, which I think, looking at it in retrospect, I will try to deepen at the base.  I try to use my largest brush here, that's why I left it in the picture to remind me to say that.  Using a large brush keeps the painting loose.  There's plenty of time later on to use a smaller brush for fine details. 

And Vegas was fun.  Didn't do much gambling, but saw one good show, and one great show.  Cher was OK.  Lots of costume changes, little snippets of her songs.  Jersey Boys was great!  I highly recommend it.  Great staging, good pace, costuming, humor, and lots of fun, upbeat music.  I really liked it. 

Here's a picture of us at a place called Serendipity.  They are famous for their "frozen hot chocolate".  It was chocolate and cold, and therefore good.  That's my sister-in-law, my niece, and my baby sister and me.