Wednesday, December 28, 2016

SCULPTURE: "Steampunk Egg"

For Christmas this year, my daughter Jenni's boyfriend, Brad Miller, gave me a carved egg that he had made using a dentist drill tool. Sadly, it was damaged in the mail. 

My Mom had given me a little bag of tiny gears and watch-works as a Christmas gift, and it seemed like a perfect chance to see if I could put "Humpty Dumpty" back together again. I did not succeed...but ended up with it looking more like "Frankenstein's Monster" than Humpty. But it was a fun "puzzle" to solve, and I love Steampunk stuff, so alls well that ends well.
Now my Steampunk Collaboration sits on my mantel with the other egg that Brad carved for me some years ago.

Monday, December 12, 2016

KC Symphony Holiday Card 2016

I'm pleased to have been asked (for the second year in a row) to design the Holiday Card for the Kansas City Symphony! This seems to be growing into a little series featuring the whimsical animal musicians. Last year, I had them playing in the forest. This year...downtown KC. It was an interesting challenge to design something with the KCS logo in there.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

CHALK ART : "Monster Bridge"

This week, I decided to do something fun for the kids on my street. I got the idea when watching them come home from school one afternoon, and thought it would be interesting to see what they would do if I surprised them with a "chalk mural" in my driveway. Judging by their comments of, "Hey...come look at this! It so COOL!", I think my plan worked.

I started out with the idea of a giant suspension bridge hanging over rushing water that was coming from under my broken driveway. I had ordered some "chalk paint" some weeks ago, and finally had a chance to try them out. The colors of all the chalks I had were mostly a bit lighter and more pastel than I wanted. But they did the job for this project. I will probably order some more online from a company that makes chalk for artists to use when drawing on sidewalks for festivals.
As you can see below, it's pretty dangerous for me to cross over.
A day later, I decided to simplify the "broken concrete" edge. Using a house painting brush with water, I was able to erase and blend colors easily. I sometimes painted over areas of chalk with a wet brush to make it cover more solidly, since my sidewalk and driveway is pretty bumpy.
My grandson (who is 5) came over and played on the bridge. We raced across it a few times, then he said that it needed a monster under it. I asked if he wanted a goofy one or a scary one. "Scary!". So the next morning, I got out the chalk and created the tentacled menace that now appears under the bridge.
I will do more murals in the weeks ahead, after a good rain comes. Or maybe I'll get too excited for the next idea I have, and just hose this puppy down.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

NEW PAINTINGS: "Squaw Creek"

Had a fun day with some artist friends at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge south of Mound, MO (North of St. Joe). It was a gorgeous day! Here is my painting of a little frog pond by the entrance.
 A little selfie with the frogs.
 Here's my set-up.
I decided to draw a small sketch in the afternoon instead of setting up my oil paints.
And here are the other artists who met up at the refuge to paint today.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

T-Shirt Designs

Normally, I don't show my professional work on this blog. But lately, I've had some fun designing "wearable art" for t-shirts. While these have yet to get produced, they have been submitted to and I am waiting for the results. I will continue to design these, because they are fun to do, which is what this blog is all about! The "tree" concept above was requested by my eldest daughter, Jenni. So far, it has gotten the most votes of the designs I've submitted...hope it becomes a real shirt soon!

SKETCHBOOK: "Gryphon Leftovers"

Here's a little sketch I did this morning while waiting for three hours to get my car worked on. My mind goes to strange places.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

SKETCHBOOK: "Quivera Sycamore"

After painting with oils for the last couple of weeks, I felt the urge to get my sketchbook out on the way home from church today. This big sycamore tree is in Quivera Park.

Friday, June 3, 2016


The last two weeks have been full of oil paints, sunscreen and bug spray! I decided to participate for the second time in the STEMS Plein-Air painting event. It is a yearly fundraiser for Overland Park Arts and Recreation. The last time I tried this was 6 years ago. While I did not win any of the final awards this time around, I did manage to pick up one of the five $100 prizes for a Saturday morning "quick paint" challenge. All in all, a great time proving to myself that I could enjoy painting again.

The first night's kickoff was a "Sundown" paint challenge at the Arboretum and Gardens of Overland Park. Below is a photo of me in deep concentration, trying to imagine a sunrise, as the overcast rainy clouds completely obliterated any hint of light and shadow.  I chose to paint the purple cabbages in the big terra-cotta planters. The final painting could use some more finessing, but we only had two hours.
The next painting was done in Old Overland Park, KS. I was attracted to the pink RIO Theater set against the clear blue sky. 
The huge beautiful tree that was my model in the next painting, can be found in front of the Presbyterian church in the historic areas of Old Overland Park. I sat and painted this one over two different afternoons.
The angel statue on the porch was done for a "special purchase award" offered by florist/designer Craig Sole. Because of the ever-looming possibility of rain, I had to work on this one over a couple of days.
Around the corner from the angel on the porch, I was attracted to this planter of flowers in front of the ivy-covered chimney. It was a bit tricky to capture the fleeting sunlight.
The early morning threat of rain (again) encouraged me to hurry to the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead where I captured the sun trying to push through the thick clouds. Not long after I finished the painting, a storm dumped a lot of water on everything.
I made my way back to Deanna Rose Farmstead and spent a couple of days working on this "wishing pond". I may go back into the painting and darken up some of the rocks a bit. But I liked how the sun illuminated the pennies in the water.
On the eve of Memorial Day, I woke up about 5:15 in the morning. So I decided to try to catch the sunrise in Old Overland. I learned just how fast the light changes in those moments when the sun peeks through. Next time, I'll have to leave out the amount of details, and just stick to the larger shapes.
Later that same day (or night, I should say) I painted my very first "nocturnal" piece. I had just purchased some "mighty bright" clip on lights, and was eager to see how it worked. I enjoyed the challenge, and will do more night paintings.
 At the end of the first week of the event, the artists met at the Deanna Rose Farmstead for an early morning "quick paint" challenge. We had two hours, but that still didn't feel like enough time for me. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I was fortunate enough to be one of the five chosen winners!! I will continue to push myself to get better and hopefully loosen up some more with my paint strokes. I tend to be pretty "literal". There are more plein air events in the months ahead, and I plan to be there!!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

SKETCHBOOK: "Back to Boulder"

I just returned from a week-long trip out to Boulder, Colorado. I was Cat-sitting at the apartment of my daughter Jenni and her man, Brad. They were gone on a trip to Cancun, Mexico to celebrate her graduation and passing boards to become a Registered Nurse!! A big deal indeed!!

I was able to do some sketching and painting while out there, and it was a rejuvenating time for me. I won't go into a lot of narration, but will let the sketches carry the load. Above are some drawings I did while waiting for my plane to leave Kansas City, and while on the flight to Denver.

Below is the afore-mentioned kitty cat, Pika. He is not fond of strangers, but he warmed up to me before too long. I spent the first day there watching tv with him, while it snowed outside.
Here is Brad's Bonzai tree that Jen surprised him with. Brad found the little figurine of the old man at a garage sale.
I drove to Denver to see the Museum of Nature and Science. What an impressive place!!! I could have stayed there for weeks sketching stuff!! I went ga-ga over all the dinosaur displays.

These are sketches I did at Eldorado Canyon State Park from two different days there. I tried drawing with Prismacolor sticks. I'm not too happy with the waxy quality. Once I got back to the apartment, I added a bit of sepia line-work, and liked the end results a bit better.
I decided to try using B-lead pencils and watercolor washes. I was so enamored with the rushing water, that I bit off a bit more than I could chew with my composition. I got a little muddy with all the trees in the sketch. But it was such a wonderful spot and the weather was gorgeous.

Jenni had left me a three-page list of places that I could explore. One of them was at South Boulder Creek West Trailhead. I have not been really successful using gauche paints, but went against my better judgement and brought them on the trip. I was painting on brown-toned paper. I am frustrated by how the colors shift when they dry, and how they lift up colors underneath. I was really wishing I had my oil paints with me!!

I spent a whole day wandering around on Pearl Street, in Boulder!! It is about four blocks of stores that are linked together by a cobblestone street. No cars can park there. Street performers are scattered much fun!! Below is a giant bronze frog that is in a children's play area.
I saw these boots on top of a trash can with this backdrop of bright orange flowers. I found out later that people will leave clothes behind for the homeless to use.
Below are two musicians that serenaded me while I sketched them. I think they were infringing on the turf of one of the other performers. A contortionist was near-by, but could not drum up business. I had to listen to him for about two hours as I drew this sketch. I could pretty much say his routine for him: "Excuse me. I need some attention. Ladies. Ladies...I need some attention. I need a crowd...any size crowd will do. Don't worry...I'm a vegetarian. I'm fine now...I'm sober. I need some attention."
Later in the afternoon, I walked over to the Farmer's Market. They were setting up the tents for the various vendors. I sat in the shade of a big tree, while I drew this gnarly one. A delivery truck showed up about halfway through the sketch.
Below is on the campus of Colorado University. I was trying to find the Museum of Natural History, but had parked too far away. So I just decided to walk back to the car. On the way, the Engineering Center jumped out at me and begged to be drawn.
On my last day there, I enjoyed some time with Jenni and Brad, since they had returned from their trip the night before. Since they had just done the hour-long drive from the Denver airport, it was more convenient to ride the shuttle bus. I tried sketching some while on the bus, but it was VERY bumpy! I drew one more sketch at the airport, while waiting for the delayed flight home.
As we taxied out to the runway, we had to wait in a long line of at least 10 jets trying to take off. Denver Airport is huge, and was very crowded. 
It was a great trip and I still have lots and lots of stuff to explore and sketch when I return!!