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March 2008

Press Release: NAWA






Redmond, Oregon, March 31, 2008 – Sue Favinger Smith announces her juried acceptance into the National Association of Women Artists, the oldest professional women’s fine arts organization in the United States. Smith submitted examples of her Elements series on paper, as well as her professional exhibitions history and resume, and will be formally inducted into the organization in November 2008.

The N. A. W. A, based in New York City, was founded in 1889, and maintains a permanent collection at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum on the Rutgers University Campus, as well as artist information in the Archives of American Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Museum of Women in Washington, D.C. Membership over the years has included such illustrious American artists as Mary Cassatt, Rosa Bonheur, Louise Nevelson, Alice Neel, Judy Chicago, and Minna Citron.

Earlier this year Smith was also accepted into the Oil Painters of America on the strength of her landscapes. Smith graduated from OSU-Cascades in 2005 with a Fine Art degree.

Additional information can be found at and

For more information on the National Association of Women Artists, please visit

3_ssmithwaveoilonpaper12_x_242008 Wave After Hiroshege @ Sue Favinger Smith 2008

4_ssmithpavoniaoilonpaper12_x_26200 Pavonia @ Sue Favinger Smith 2008

Sunday Salon: Sitting Down with Katherine Tyrrell

Today I am sitting down with Katherine Tyrrell, the very knowledgeable and wonderfully generous author of Making a Mark, as well as her other resources and blogs.  Since she works "en plein air" a lot, and I don't, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get feedback from an expert.

    As you know I am a novice when it comes to working "en plein air" and I've got a number of practical questions.  What materials do you carry with you? Do you park your car and walk to the location? What if the view you want is on private property - how do you find out who to ask for permission, or do you settle for a photograph through the "zoom" lens?

First of all thanks for asking me to do this interview.  I'm sure I'm only one of many who've been enjoying your series of Sunday Salon interviews.

Everybody's different and it's not surprising that everybody varies as to their individual preferences around materials and working methods.  My view is it's always best if people work out for themselves what materials they should use for working plein air through a process of trial and error.  It's fine for me to give recommendations but our materials can really be as individual as our drawings.  For example, I'm usually a "kitchen sink artiste" but I admire hugely those who can pare it right down.  What I am happy to do is suggest somethings to think about.

Ktweb_pastelsatwaldenpond_2 Figure 1: The 'kitchen sink artist" pastel painting plein-air - my set up at Walden Pond, Massachusetts September 2006. copyright Katherine Tyrrell

In relation to sketching "plein air" my particular preference is for dry media - I find it a lot simpler to get out pen and pencils then to start painting.  It's easy just to pack a sketchbook a pen and a small pencil case of coloured pencils.  On the other hand when I'm working plein air doing large pastels then the kit can often end up looking like the photo!  In this particular instance, I was trying out a new bag for my pastel boxes and had taken far too much with me given the gradient and state of the path round the pond!
I tend to walk around a lot before settling to work plein air so there's a big emphasis for me on trying to keep things portable.  For those of us who have trouble with mobility and stability at times (like me) then shopping trollies can provide a very welcome way of easily transporting out materials if you have a lot of things to carry!  I bought a wonderful stylish Italian one while in Venice, used it all the time and then brought it home with me!

I have a page on my website called "Advice on Sketching" which includes advice about sketching materials.  It also shows off what I take out for different sorts of sketching expeditions - from the kit for an overseas trip, through to a day out sketching with a backpack and the kit for sketching on a motorbike trip.  It also has a lot more practical information about sketching and includes tips and technique and links to relevant advice in my blog posts plus files of articles for FREE DOWNLOAD for personal and educational use only.  It's organized as follows:


  1. Advice on Sketching Toolkits and Materials 
  2. Sketching for Real - a class with assignments
  3. Travels with a Sketchbook - tips and techniques
  4. Starting to Sketch with Coloured Pencils
  5. From sketch to painting - a slideshow of a work in progress
  6. More information about sketching and travels with a sketchbook

Ktweb_kew040506_066_2 Figure 2: Out for the day - sketching with coloured pencils: Sketchbooks (large and small) and coloured pencils in warm and cool colors plus plastic try for pencils in use and pencil sharpener copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I designed the Sketching for Real Class for people who can draw but who are also complete beginners when it comes to sketching.  It takes you from doing 5 minute sketches around your own home to feeling comfortable about sketching in a public place.  In between you get to grips with all the issues to do with being outside - such as the light changing and what sort of materials you need when not in a studio - while initially only going as far as the comfort of your own garden!  I deliberately set it up like this so people could try working out what they wanted to take out with them while still near to home.

I tend to stick to public places if I'm on my own.  My own rule of thumb for being sensible as to location is 'see and been seen'.  If you know your neighborhood really well and know where it's safe for a woman to be on her own then it can be fine venturing further afield and off the beaten track.  Lots of people feel more comfortable going out in a group - although it's much better if this is a group of artists rather than family as the latter tend to get bored.  Luckily my partner is fond of reading so we always make sure he has a good book with him!

I live in London so I travel to lots of places in London by public transport.  This tends to mean lots of sketches of parks, gardens, galleries and cafes in and around London - you can see the results in the online version of my London sketchbook.  You can also read about my various expeditions in my Travels with a Sketchbook in... blog.

Ktweb_bixbybridgebigsur Figure 3: 260 feet up at Bixby Bridge, Big Sur (in fog) - a 10 minute sketch at the cliff edge copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Otherwise, I take the car and get out of London and I often travel by car to sketch when abroad.  For example, in my California sketchbook you can see sketches from my driving trip down Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Diego.  You get better at making instant decisions to pull over...

I advise keeping a sketchbook permanently in the car so you've got something to do it you ever get stuck in traffic but in fact I very rarely sketch from inside the car!  Wind and rain are the main reasons for taking cover.  Which reminds me - always take really good bulldog clips or similar to keep your paper from flapping around in a stiff breeze otherwise it can drive you to distraction!

On the question of photography, my understanding is you can photograph anything you can see while standing in a public place even if you're using a zoom lens.  In other words you may own a property but you don't own it's image.  I've heard of a few people who carry around a copy of the copyright law on that topic - which I guess I've probably saved in the copyright section of my Art Business - Resources for Artists site.

I might see a fantastic subject while I'm driving my car, or I'll go out to paint and not find anything.  When you go to sketch on location, you talk about the importance of "just being there" and "letting your eyes do the work".  What are you looking for, what thoughts and processes do you consider before you begin to sketch?

I was very fortunate when I came back to art after a big break to collect initials after my name.  I was taught by somebody who placed a huge emphasis on learning how to see rather than learning how to make paint.  It's always stayed with me and it's why I now suggest that the main thing that people need to focus on when starting out is learning how to look.

Being a novice at sketching is good - you'll be able to bring a fresh eye to observing a scene - but first you have to train your eye to see.  Observing life and your surroundings - in the home and office or studio -- and looking for compositions while out and about in day to day life can be a huge help to being able to spot a potential subject much more quickly when you do finally get the time to draw plein air.  When doing your errands, try pretending you're actually walking around looking for something to sketch and see what happens.  There is always something - but quite often you won't see it until you've accustomed yourself to a place and walked around a bit.

Figure 4: Umbrian Umbrella Pines (Coloured pencils, 27cm x 35cm)  copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Ktweb_umbrianumbrellapines3 When working plein air, the most important thing is to try and get a sense of the place - while all the time remembering that the way you react to a place is personal to you and what you are interested in.  I guess what I do is unconsciously notice the things which are different and the things which seem to be a 'motif' of the place.  Our personal perspective will always influence this.  For example, I always notice in particular the features which relate to my personal interests - the structure and patterns of the built environment and the natural world - as found in architecture, flowers, trees and 'big views'.  Somebody else might really like lines and textures and they'll find a different set of subject matter to interest them.  Try answer the questions "what do you notice most?" and "What does your eye keep coming back to?"

Buildings are buildings the world over - but they all look slightly different because their style and architectural features vary.  Vegetation may be green in most places, but the shape of the leaves and colors of the green can be different.

In Italy I was very taken with the Umbrella Pine trees. I loved them - they were such an unusual shape.  At the same time of course you have the Lombardy Poplars - very dark blue green and a very slim pencil shape.

Views actually very quite a lot because of the terrain.  Crossing Arizona, what I noticed was a very flat plain with enormous clouds in the distance over some hills - they were the big view.

Often it's a trick of the light which makes something look sensational.  If you have time, get outside at the beginning and end of the day when the light is low and shadows can be very dramatic.  I remember the last time I was in Venice, I was up at 6am on the first morning and was walking across an almost completely empty Piazza San Marco just as the clocks struck 7am.  As I suspected I was finally able to Ktweb_7amsundaymorning see what was there without the constant throngs of people around and about - and the lighting was very dramatic.

Figure 5: 7am Sunday morning (coloured pencils, 8" x 10") copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Seeing wonderful scenes while driving your car is a hazard for most artists.  I have, on occasion, when driving down a quiet country road been known to screech to a stop and then back up and whip out a sketchbook and camera to record the scene very quickly.

I'm a firm believer that making a quick sketch of something really makes you look.  You get a benefit from spending that time looking which just isn't there if you just take a quick snap.  In fact if you just take a photo then you'll probably be looking at that photo and wondering what was it you'd seen in the view as the tones and colours will all look different.  Instead make a note of the place and, most important, the time of day.  It might be worthwhile planning to come back and take another look at the same sort of time. 

By and large though, I lean toward favoring serendipity - an opportunity is always going to pop up when you least expect it and it's usually best to grab it while you can even if you don't have 'enough time'.

If you're traveling to new places or just visiting somewhere new then visual overload can sometimes be a rel problem - I know it certainly was for me on my first visit to Venice.  My blog post on How good is your visual recognition memory? suggests some ways in which you can get to grips with this.

Once you have decided on a location, and found your inspirational idea, how much time do you spend thinking about your composition and how much time actually drawing?  Is one part of that equation more important than the other?

It's usually an inspirational view for me rather than an idea.

I think we need to differentiate between sketching for enjoyment and sketching with producing a definite work in mind. I work up great pictures from sketches I did years ago.  Similarly I can spend a lot of time working on a 'definitive work' on site only to find that it just doesn't work out

I've come to the conclusion that the more pressure you put on yourself the more you will tighten up and produce cliche art and/or complete rubbish! The best work I ever did was on a painting holiday where I started out by giving myself permission to go home without having finished anything.  Only later did I find out that Monet used to produce a massive number of 'starts' when working plein air which he used to finish in the studio.  Now I'm happy if I can get a good 'start' down!

What I do partly depends on how much time I've got.  If I've got 15 minutes I'll probably spend a minute or two looking - because I know I can get a lot down in 10 minutes and can also carry a lot in my head for a short time afterwards.  If I've got a whole morning, then I often walk around for 15 minutes and might then spend another 10-15 minutes trying out different options before settling on one.  Time spent looking is never wasted.  You can continue to work on a piece away from it much more effectively if you've spent a lot of time looking.

What I do now is practice developing my skills, for example around different approaches to composition, at home so I can use them without thinking too much when working plein air.

I wrote about some of the things I do when settling down to sketch in this post Jeanne asked a question about...sketching.

How many sketchbooks have you completed over the years and why do you consider this a valuable resource?

I lost count a long time ago!  I've got the most recent ones (about 15?) in a basket and there's another stack sitting in an inaccessible spot.  I also now take out a portfolio with small and medium size sheets of good art paper so I can do more 'finished' drawings in pen and ink/coloured pencils for sale.

We're all familiar with the notion that we remember times past through sensory experiences of the memory which can be triggered by smells, sights, sounds, or touch.  For me, the value of my sketchbooks is that every time I open one up I'm immediately transported back to that place and time and people.  I think the act of drawing must in some way be responsible for this as I just don't find that photos work in the same way.  You can't put a price on that - they are absolutely invaluable.  My sketchbooks never ever go in the hold baggage when I'm traveling - they always come with me.

I don't find it any surprise at all that most artists who are or were active in their use of sketchbooks while working plein air always tend to keep them.  For example, they've got 300 sketchbooks belonging to Turner sitting in Tate Britain!

I'm actually going to be writing a post next week which touches on a number of the questions you raised in the interview - so thank you for making me think about what I do -- it'll help with writing the post!


  • Pastels and pencils

Thank you so much, Katherine! I am not the only Ancient Artist who appreciates your various blogs and resource pages.  I, myself, am a great fan of Turner - I envy your ability to visit those sketchbooks whenever you want.

I am now quite inspired - emboldened !- to go out and try sketching "en plein air" and I hope that you all are too!

What does Jill Bolte Taylor and the Brain have to do with being an artist?

Some mornings, I spend way too much time on the computer.  But not today.  Today, I clicked my way through a labyrinth of sites and ended up at one of the best examples of what this modern technology is all about --  (Technology, Entertainment, and Design).  Now, I know there are plenty of sites out there in the blogosphere churning out information that is, at best, mildly interesting, and at worst,  repetitive or time-wasting.  But the conference talk given by neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor at TED 2008 and posted on TED Talks! is definitely worth the 19 minutes of your time.  In fact, I practically guarantee that you won't stop there. 

What I found so compelling about Jill Bolke Taylor's description of the massive stroke she experienced, "as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one," is her ability to describe "how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another."  The ideas Ms. Taylor articulates are of particular interest to artists, and if you have ever wondered why you are an artist, and why it is vitally important that you remain an artist and share your insights with the world, perhaps this video will provide some insight.

What My Studio Reveals

I was reading the O At Home (An Oprah Magazine) and caught an interesting article on the back page written by Theresa Rebeck, titled "What My Bedside Table Reveals."  I thought it might be fun to do a post titled "What My Studio Reveals."

Here's one corner of my studio. Below, not in the picture, is my "in basket" (filled with stuff that ought to be in something else) as well as my "stacks" ( things that also belong somewhere else and will get there when the stacks grow so high they fall to the floor and I am forced to deal with them...) Thank you, Photoshop, for the crop tool.  See how nice and tidy my studio looks?

So starting at the upper right, and cleverly color-coded to make it easy to identify the item I'm writing about, we begin with...


The Gratitude Jar  I have kept a gratitude jar for over two years.  Every day I write a small thank-you  and put it in the jar.  And in case you're wondering...yes, it works.

My Inner Critic (Gargoyle)  Mostly, he doesn't like anything I do.  I can tell by the expression on his face.

Tiles, Rocks, and Fetish  The tiles came from my painting trip to Italy. I picked them up from the ground, and imagined where they might have come from, some ancient villa, perhaps. It's more romantic to think I brought back a part of history, rather than someone's bathroom floor.

The rocks are for positive thinking, the little fetish I bought in Colorado.  I thought it represented a Mountain Lion - courage, leadership, intelligence (hah!) but after I purchased it the clerk told me it was actually Wylie Coyote, the Trickster...I think it looks like a bear with a fluffy long tail. 

My Pig  This is the pig I made when I was 10.  I was given a choice, along with my sisters, as to what we wanted most that summer: my sisters all chose horse back riding lessons.  I went for the art class. It's  the only relic I have from my childhood, and it's 50 years old.  The fact that I still have it  is amazing...or maybe not...

Acorns in a Jar  I collect odd things.  Acorns represent the promise of future security and abundance that the Universe provides.  I also pick up pennies ( Universe providing would be rude to reject the gesture)  The shells are just pretty and remind me of growing up near the ocean. 

My Books  You can tell a lot about the books someone wants within reach.  Here is my list:

  • Milton Resnick (This was given as a gift from an art teacher who knew Milton and his wife Pat. It is a memorial about Milton after he passed away in 2004 and not available to the public)
  • The Search for the Real (H. Hoffman)
  • Hawthorn on Painting (Hawthorne)
  • The Essential Haiku (Hass...Busson is my favorite)
  • Ten Poems to Change Your Life (R. Housden)
  • Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting (R. Schmid)
  • Composition of Outdoor Painting (E. Payne)
  • The Art Spirit (R. Henri)
  • Taking the Leap (Lang)
  • various show catalogs - my work is in most of them and on the cover of one.
  • The Ultimate Picasso (Leal, Piot & Bernadac)
  • DVD-In The Studio With Zhaoming Wu
  • Another memento from an art teacher, and I've saved it for last.  It is a grainy photocopy of a hand-written quote from jazz musician Eunice Waymon:

"All music is what awakes within us when we are reminded by the instruments.  It is not the violins or the clarinets - it is not the beating of the drums - nor the score of the baritone singing his sweet romanza; nor that of the men's chorus, nor that of the women's chorus - it is nearer and farther than they.
                                         -- Eunice Waymon --
                                              AGE 12

Eunice wrote those words, possessed the insight, at the tender age of twelve...when I was thinking how proud I was of my turquoise and rhinestone pig and my sisters were off riding into the western horizon on their horses. 

Keeps an Ancient Artist humble.

For More information about Eunice Waymon AKA Nina Simone, follow these links:

Artists Blog Search

I was notified today that my blog has been added to the Artists Blog Search service.  Additionally, all revenues generated by this service will be donated to the following charities:

  • National Breast Cancer Foundation
  • The Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric Aids Foundation
  • Autism Speaks tm

I've added a permanent link to their search site under Business Links.  If you want more information you can also go to their main website here.

Thank you to all the artists who have contributed their interviews, thoughts and energies into making Ancient Artist interesting to read.

Dsc01940_2 Asparagus on a Box @ Sue Smith 2008
6 x 8, oil on panel

I cleaned my studio the other day and discovered that I had a lot of these small canvas boards stashed around.  I can't always paint daily because of work obligations but these are fun to do and I limit myself to no more than 2 hours spent on a painting.  The time limitation forces me to focus, make quick decisions, and stop before I ruin things.


6" x 8", oil on canvas panel
still a little wet...

I've been flirting with the daily painting idea, so last night I decided to try it out.


Appeal @ Sue Smith 2008

Update on the Tah-Dah List:

City of Gresham Visual Arts Gallery 11th Annual Juried Art Exhibit -- 2 paintings accepted. 

Sunday Salon: Sitting Down With Peg Bead

The other day I opened my email and received a message from a fellow artist named Peg Bead. 

Peg wrote, "Hello Sue!  I am writing you from the opposite Nova Scotia, Canada.  I am also an older artist on the verge of retirement and, for the first time, opening my home studio to the public.  I was reading your article on developing your artistic voice, saw you were in Oregon, and though perhaps we could have some interesting discussions.  I also lived in Oregon myself long ago..."

One thing led to another, and Peg agreed to a Sunday Salon interview.  I know you will enjoy her as much as I have.

Peg, I am looking forward to some interesting discussions with you.  First, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Trinity @ Peg Bead

Pbtrinity_2 I am a self-taught artist with both Celtic and Native roots.  I began painting as a child, influenced by my amateur artist mother.  In my teens, British Columbia artist Zelko Kujundzik helped me attain a fine appreciation of the depth, richness of color and light in the paintings of the old masters.  Most recently, Nova Scotia Artist and Naturalist Laurie Lacey first encouraged me to continue my art as a more professional interest.

I have been told that my work reflects an appreciation for the Natural World that demands something of the viewer.  To me, that is a very high compliment which I strive to uphold and build upon.  After all, a painting is something like a prayer...

You mentioned that, although you have been painting since childhood, you developed your mature style through experience.  For artists starting out, what advice would you give them as they develop their style?

Pbthe_offering_2 The Offering @ Peg Bead

It's been a long journey recognizing myself as an artist.  One night I had an inspiration to do a painting, and I was telling my friend Laurie about it.  He said, "do it", then silently watched me through a very lengthy process.  The next day he brought a frame and put that painting in it.  It was at that moment I felt free from years of encumbrances and fears and saw myself as a legitimate artist.

My advice is do it, do it, do it!  You are already an artist or you would not be inspired to Create.  It took me quite a long time to realize that.

Be fearless and don't procrastinate!

Experiment - try a lot of mediums, but whatever you decide to use, just do it.

Paint for yourself - do what you love, what inspires you, what you know and is meaningful to you.  People will feel your sincerity.

I am interested in learning more about your experiences with opening your studio to the public.  Since I have never done that, what advice can you give me?  What were the surprises?  The pitfalls?

Oh dear!  Well, I am ready this year, but it has been a 5 year journey!  My biggest pitfall was myself yet again, thinking I had to make major improvements to my whole outside and inside space before I opened, and that involved a lot of landscaping, renovations, money and worry! Following my own advice, I finally said just do it!  If it was a shack and the art was great, it would make no difference.  The big surprise was that folks love my place just the way it is!

Although I have in the past and may again someday, I have opted out of placing work in galleries or joining larger artists' associations, as my interest in art is not entirely commercial  I decided to start being known locally first.  As I am in a tourist area, I joined the local tourist Bureau where I can place my brochures, be listed in their guide book, and appear on their web site.  I arranged a newspaper interview previous to a two-week display in a space the town library provides without charge.  I will do another interview during that time announcing my opening, and may also get a radio interview during the display time.

I don't expect anything huge opening to the public, just a few pleasant visits with some folks who appreciate art, and who may be interested enough in my art to keep in touch through a mailing list.  As I'm not officially open until June, check with me later!

I love the design in   The Singer. Can you tell us about this piece?

The Singer @ Peg Bead

Thank you!  Every now and then I like picking up a pencil and doodling.  I have nothing specific in mind, I just start with an interesting line and keep making more by outlining and filling in.  Eventually a shape will suggest itself to be enhanced a bit - and that's what happened here.

Your figures have a very spiritual quality to them that I find intriguing.  What is your inspiration when you begin a painting?

Sky Walker @ Peg Bead

Pbskywalker_2 That is a complicated question to answer...Art to me has a magical element.  I paint what moves me, what evokes a feeling of Reverence, whether seascapes, landscapes, fantasy or portraiture.  These pieces are part of an on-going series I titled Celtic Roots, Native Roots, a theme that depicts a personal vision of the necessary Reverence for Creation shared by peoples long in the past, Tribal peoples who were dependent on Nature for their survival.
These pieces I can only describe as 'painting themselves', like so much of my work does.  Starting with nothing in mind, I did layers of washes until I envisioned what was there, bringing it forward using a wet on wet technique.  I am endlessly fascinated and excited watching them develop.

Can you tell us more about Fisherman's Sunrise?

Fisherman's Sunrise @ Peg Bead

Pbfishermans_sunrise Several years of being on the sea did nothing to diminish the awe of watching the Sunrise every morning or the fascination of light playing on the water.  Every day was different. I painted this piece from a photograph I took of one of those magic mornings.  There had been a storm the night before.  It's not usually good fishing after a storm like that, but the wind had died down and it was beginning to clear by 4 a.m.  When we reached the fishing grounds, the sun broke through the heavy, black clouds and spewed gold all around the clearing sky and across the water, a brilliant path right up to the rail of our boat.

An added bonus -- after I hung the painting, several friends were amazed to see that the gold on the water follows the viewer moving side to side.  Awesome!

Peg Bead lives and paints in Nova Scotia, and  does not yet have a web site in place.  If you would like to contact her directly, please email me and I will pass along your information.  We all look forward to seeing more of Peg's work.

How Bonnie Luria Proved 'Em Wrong

Last week I wrote a post about the slowing art market -- well, Bonnie Luria has a terrific post on her blog, St. Croix-nicity, about her nearly sold-out show held in an alternative venue. Transforming an unused breezeway into an elegant gallery space, providing wonderful, exotic food and a special atmosphere, this show was an overwhelming success - not to mention the "limited tourist season" Bonnie describes on St. Croix.

 " If you provide people with an interesting evening out, in a beautiful setting and do the appropriate outreach in forms of advertising, you can get around those details. This show was made into a very elegant, exhibition that brought in what looked like a few hundred people and within the first half hour, 4 of the 7 paintings I had on display, were sold!"

Bonnie is an extremely talented artist, and it doesn't surprise me at all that her paintings were so well received by her art patrons.  She has always been a staunch supporter of the idea that artists should take control of their creative adventure and her success just adds validity to her arguments.

"Read some of the many other suggestions on Creating Artists Space to learn what alternate paths are available. Just as you can’t stop learning new computer programs and re-programming another phone, sitting back and thinking the same old way will get you exactly that."

Get the full story by clicking on over to Bonnie's blog. You won't be disappointed.

Blwater_carrier_luria_loi_res_copy2 Water Carrier @ Bonnie Luria

Sunday Salon: Sitting Down with Linda Shelton

One of the most exciting things about doing these Sunday Salon Interviews is discovering the myriad ways that creativity manifests itself.  Today, I am sitting down with a friend of mine, Linda Shelton.  After some initial coaxing, she finally said "This is going to be fun...who would have imagined an interview via the computer?"

Linda, how long have you been creating art?

Lstrio_sm3 Since I was a child.  I think most of us have creative talents from birth.  It's the path(s) we choose, as we mature, that determine whether or not we continue in the adventure of art.  Fortunately, I returned after my airline career!

Trio @ Linda Shelton

Can you tell us a little about what you've been doing?

I've been exploring different mediums and trying to figure out with which medium I'm most passionate.  It's still an adventure and I'm discovering that I'm not settled with one particular medium.  Maybe this is the point...discovering that I have permission to do whatever I choose!  What a bonus!

When did you first realize you were an artist  -  did you ever have an Aha! Moment when you knew you needed to create?

I'm not sure I realized that I was an artist in my younger years.  I recall receiving praises from the adult world which instilled the idea that I was a budding artist.  However, I never labeled myself as an "artist" until I retired from the airlines.  Even then, I hesitated in calling myself an artist.  I didn't think I had EARNED the title.  I now know better.  I don't recall my Aha! Moments as being 'noticeable'.  Perhaps it's because I've always been in a creative mode and took it for granted.

What inspires you and why?

I can't put my finger on just one inspiration.  It may be a shape, a color, an article, or an artist's technique that catches my attention.  Sometimes, it's just a thought that keeps repeating itself until I do something!  Why?  Hummm, the thrill of a challenge...of expressing.


Where did the inspiration for "Charm Birds From the Trees" come from?  What is the story behind it?
I was reading an article awhile back, in a magazine called Quilting Arts, on how to stimulate your creative juices when you experience artist's block.  One of the suggestions was to think of quotes.  I remembered I had some painted fabric which I saved and cut out birds from a previous project.  So I decided to use the quote "Charm Birds From the Trees" and the art piece took off.

Charm Birds From the Trees @ Linda Shelton

In your painting, "Unveiling", you are working in mixed media.  Can you tell us more about this painting and how it came about?

Lsunveiling_em2 I was introduced to some interesting techniques in a collage workshop and was so excited with all its possibilities I decided to see what I could do with my 'new found' lessons.  I discovered an old painting of irises that never seemed to satisfy me, so I decided to cut them apart and incorporate them into this new piece.  As it progressed, the ideas for the front began to formulate.  I layered the cut out irises and followed with another layer of water color paper over the irises, curling pie shapes from the center out.  This, then, created the three dimensional front.  I admit it was a challenge!  Then I applied cheese cloth and beads, giving the piece added texture.

Unveiling @ Linda Shelton

What does being an artist mean to you?

It's joyful rewards!            

Lsshadows_sm2_3 Linda does not have a website so unfortunately I can't direct you to where you can see more of her whimsical, delightful work. 

Shadows @ Linda Shelton

An Additional Note

As much as I enjoy doing these Sunday Salons, it has been more and more difficult to post them weekly.  People are busy, they agree to the interview, but questions get misplaced and emails never answered.  I will continue to solicit interviews, and post them as received,  but the pace will be slower. 

Please feel free to leave your comments and pass along a link to those who you know who might be interested.  I appreciate every email I receive and I look forward to the continued evolution of the Ancient Artist.

Take care.


Can You Find Your Artistic Voice Even When No One Is Listening?

   I've always been a fan of those pseudo philosophical questions like "If a tree fell in the forest and no one heard it, did it really happen?"  What is reality, if not our sensory perceptions, which goes hand in hand with what is art.  But that isn't what this post is about.

Within the past year, I have twice had to take back paintings from traditional galleries who decided to close their doors.  I've listened to those gallery directors reinforce their decisions with long litanies of others who had also closed...more than ever, many artists will be wondering if there's anybody out there willing to listen to their artistic voice.

As uncomfortable as the economic slowdown might be on a personal level, forward thinking artists should embrace it as an opportunity to stretch.  To breathe deeply, open those arms, and ask the universe "what's next?"

I'm not a futurist.  I don't claim to have any prescient talent, even -- especially! --when I'm painting.  But I do know that I don't want to continue careening frantically around trying to find that Rags-to-Riches pathway to artistic success. 

So what does that mean to the Ancient Artist? 

It definitely does not mean that I throw in the towel.  It means that I have been given the opportunity to do with my "art career" what I do with my "art work."  To savor the moment, wander around the spaces and reconnect with being present in the moment. To reclaim the joie de vivre of being an artist.

First, I have been taking the time to discover what I am not going to be.

I am not going to be a commercial print artist. I don't have the temperament and my artistic strengths are better expressed in a different direction.  I will credit two books for helping me discover this insight: Barney Davey's "How To Profit from the Art Print Market" and Alyson B. Stanfield's "I'd rather be in the studio!" -- both of which are invaluable resources for any art professional.  Discovering clearly what you want and do not want out of your experiences is empowering.  It allows you to respect yourself and your art, and it defines the pathway you, alone, will take.

Secondly, I have been imagining how society will value art differently in the future instead of constantly looking for ideas from the past.  Technology will not go away, it is far too convenient to pay my bills on line and find what I'm looking for on the big mega sites.  But I believe that in response to the expanding access that technology brings into our culture, there will be a response back toward small, community oriented, face-to-face human contact between the farmer and the cook, the artist and the home owner.   Art will become personal again, a hands on, in the studio, smelling the wet oil paint  while arguing with the artist kind of thing. It will be the total experience that people crave in response to the isolation of sitting for hours in front of computer screens.   My job as the artist is to discover how best to facilitate this concept .

Here are some of the other useful tools that I've discovered which have helped me push through the fear and give strength to my artistic voice.

Blogging, used as a forum to share and exchange ideas, experiences, to recognize the beautiful work of others, and to
connect to a wider artist audience.  (Notice I said "artist" and not "artistic," because "artistic" means "commercialism" to me and if I am constantly thinking  and speaking from a "selling" perspective I can't be open enough to receive the unexpected breakthroughs available to me.)

The Newsletter.  This is very appropriate as the commercial vehicle, and should be sent widely to the mailing list I am still steadily building. That is, if I had a newsletter, which I don't. Not yet..  But it's on my Ta-Dah list, along with developing my Squidoo lens -- also very useful for the "selling" aspect of life.  I visualize the newsletter as the vehicle used to distinguish my work from others, helping to maintain that human-to-human contact, especially if a hand-written note is added to the printed text.

Journaling - I know we've all heard this one, too.  But if you have Alyson's book, you will find some excellent questions to ask yourself.  (And if you don't have it, go to her website and order it.)

Historically, the artists, writers, poets, musicians have fulfilled the role of "agitator," in that they present well-considered challenges to the prevailing ideology, offering alternative ideas to what should be valued in a "good life."  What do you value? 

That is your artistic voice.

Lament2 This is the newest in the Mesa Series.  It's not quite finished -- but then, are they ever finished?

40 x 60, oil on canvas

Mesa Series: Lament

@ 2008 Sue Favinger Smith

What I learned from Alyson:  I am inspired by the concept that begins to emerge after the initial pours, looking for the random happenings and then developing them, painting a place I've never been but discovering it bit by bit as it reveals itself to me.  I am exploring, taking risks the way the first humans dared to venture to places beyond the horizon, a place -- an experience --never to be repeated.

Ta-Dah list update - January and February efforts

Accepted:  Oil Painters of America

Declined: Greenhouse Gallery Salon International 2008 (But it was one of the most empowering "Decline" letters I've ever received)

Pending: Artful Home Portfolio Competition (yeah, I know, print art)

              City of Gresham Art Exhibit