Latest news: some good, some unbelievable


Update on the juried show front-

Two of the three paintings I entered in “Spirit of the Horse” to be held at the Palos Verdes Art Center, have been accepted. One is “Takhi Stallion and Mare”, part of which forms the masthead for this blog.

The other is “That’s the Spot!, see below. It was painted from reference that I shot at Khomiin Tal in western Mongolia during my September 2006 trip there.

Update on the festival/show front-

Due to gas prices and the slowing economy, at least in California, I have pulled out of the Los Altos show in July.

I will be participating in the 10th annual North Coast Open Studios June 7-8. Please stop on by, I’d love to see you. I’ll have original paintings, prints and cards available, plus the garden is starting to look pretty good.

The following weekend, I’ll be at the Marin Art Festival. I think it’s going to be a whole lot of fun and it’s almost two hours closer to me than the Los Altos event.

My gut feeling said pull out of the first, but don’t pull out of the second.

And, now something totally unique in my 30 year career in commercial and fine art:

I recently realized how important it is to listen to that inner voice. I was invited last year to participated in the art show at the Grand National Rodeo and Horse Show. I had some reservations from an animal welfare standpoint, but decided that I would send five paintings and attend the opening weekend to judge for myself whether or not this is an appropriate venue for me.

That decision will have to wait, since, to make it short, the show was such an unbelievably incompetent mess at so many levels that I ended up crating up my work and pulling out. Yup, loaded it back in the van and brought it home.

Most of the other over 100 artists, including some from England, Australia, Italy, Belgium and Canada, weren’t so lucky. I am participating in a private forum that was set up to sort this out. As of this morning, over six weeks after the close of the show, many of the artists have not gotten their work back. At this point, work is finally starting to move out, but only because of relentless effort on the part of the management of the Cow Palace. A fair amount of what has been returned is dirty, damaged or not in the containers it was sent in. And a lot of those were expensive Air Float boxes, which are to regular cardboard boxes what real cheese is to Velveeta.

In some cases, art was removed from the Cow Palace against the express, specific wishes of the artist.

The “directors” of this show have, IMHO, lied to, misled and otherwise conned all of us. As of today, none of the three has given the slightest sign of a clue that they have done anything wrong. It’s everyone else’s fault. The stories and excuses change almost hourly.

IMHO, do not, under any circumstances, get involved with anything that they are in charge of.

If you are an artist who sent work to the 2008 Grand National Art Show or joined the Grand National Artist’s Society, you need to email Tami at immediately.

Do not join The Grand National Artist’s Society. Do not participate in the art show at the Santa Barbara Fiesta until you have confirmed that none of the people who created this mess are involved. I visited the Fiesta website and it looks like a great event that you should consider if you live down that way!

I am not going to publish names here. Please contact me through my website if you need more specific information. As we are all learning, what goes on the web, stays on the web. Forever.

If I hear of anything else, I’ll post it here.

Final happier note:

Our doggy guest has moved on and very probably has a forever home already waiting for him with someone who had to recently put his 14 year old longer haired shepherd to sleep.

Pet overpopulation is a myth. The homes are out there, but sometimes it takes patience and some effort.

Doggy guest photo

I finally got a good photo of our canine guest, who shall remain anonymous for now. Handsome guy, isn’t he? He has finally come out of his shell enough to get his head up and be interested in what is going on around him. He knows “sit” and is remembering how to walk nicely on lead. I can forward queries about adoption to the long term foster. As you can see from his tail, he needs some serious TLC for the skin issues. Miraculously, he seems to move ok. No obvious dysplastic wobbling.

Back home and in the studio

Got back from my trip last Thursday evening with no more than what is the usual nonsense when one flies these days. Plane was late getting to Denver, so we were late leaving Denver, which meant I missed my 4:12 connection in San Francisco. On the bright side, the airline automatically rebooked me on the next flight home at 6:30, which was good since the last flight out didn’t leave until, ouch, 11:30pm.


We have a canine guest right now, a 3.5 year old male German Shepherd rescued from a seriously rotten situation. I’m doing the emergency foster while a ride is lined up to get him to his long-term foster. He’s spent the last four months with people who didn’t “like” him, so he was kept inside and forced to do his business in a room. He’s got what looks like flea allergy dermatitis. Very thin fur on his back end and tail. Also very scared at first, but totally unaggressive.

We have him on a long cable tie-down on the patio so he can have peace and quiet, but start to get used to a normal environment not filled with screaming and craziness. He’s unneutered, but very submissive. Ignores the cats. Associates collars and having his neck reached for with something negative, but isn’t head shy. Niki is modeling calm, balanced behavior and setting boundaries for their interactions, so he’s my partner in helping get the poor guy back on an even keel. He’ll be a fantastic family companion once he’s had time in a stable environment and gets his confidence back.

I guess the moral is, if you really don’t want an animal, don’t just ignore it and stop caring for it, do what it takes to get them to a place where they have a chance to get a new home where they will get the love they deserve. Sheeh, is that so hard?


I had a great time sketching and photographing at the Denver Zoo, along with getting to see the Robert Bateman show at The Wildlife Experience. There were so many of his iconic images- the snow leopard sitting on a cliff as snow swirls around, the orca amongst the kelp, the storks at dusk with the shimmering band of gold water, plus some of his early abstracts. He is the living master in wildlife art when it comes to design/composition and the sheer beauty of his painting. Very, very inspirational. If you are in the Denver area and you want to see the best in animal art, see his show.

There was also a small room with paintings of African subjects and I was tickled to quickly realize that I had at least met, if not studied, with all of the artists: John Seerey-Lester, John Banovich, Simon Combes and Daniel Smith. I think I feel a lion painting coming on!

In the meantime, here are some of my sketches from the Denver Zoo. Most of them took less than three minutes, if that, so no time to doodle around. First I try to capture the gesture of their pose or movement, then add things like eyes and fur texture. Last is value, Sometimes I end up adding the modeling and “color” while I’m having lunch. The lions were very fit for zoo cats, but I’ll still “tighten” them up by referring to lions I photographed in Kenya.

The horses are my beloved takhi, of which three were out when I was there. I had seen domestic yaks, but these were the first wild yaks. They manage ok in The Mile High City, but in their native (shrinking) habitat, they thrive at 15,000 feet plus.

Hot off the easel

I usually have 4-6 paintings going at any one time for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s attention span (short), sometimes I’ve gone as far as I can for the day, sometimes I’m stuck and sometimes I just feel like starting something new. One thing I have found is when I’m interested in painting a species I haven’t done before is that I like to do a head study first to start to learn what the animal looks like. So that was the rather mundane motivation for this painting of a young Thompson’s gazelle that I photographed in Kenya. The horns were the most challenging part because I don’t like to dink and dork around with tight rendering but I had to understand the structure well enough to lay in shapes in the right hue and value so that it is drawn correctly.

I often start with a charcoal or carbon pencil drawing on bristol before I do a painting or even just felt tip pen sketches in a sketchbook.


Yesterday was quite a weather day. I did my third rescue transport in the morning. Ten five week old puppies, a pit/Am. bulldog mix and a 5 mo. old border collie puppy over to Willow Creek, which is about 40 minutes east of here. It was really, really, really windy at the shelter and I have to admit I was wondering what it was going be like going over 2800+ ft. Barry Summit in a Volkswagen Eurovan. There is one short stretch where the road is out in the open on the west side of the mountain, totally exposed. I was to meet up with two guys who live in Willow Creek who were going to take all the dogs on to Redding. The transport coordinator and I decided that if I couldn’t get over the mountain safely and didn’t show up by 10 am, that the men would drive west (in their nice solid Escalade) and look for me down in the valley. As it happened, it was pretty breezy at the summit, but no problem. As soon as I was on the other side though, I was in driving rain. Made the hand-off, went back over the hill, did some grocery shopping at the coop in Arcata and was home by noon. Within an hour all hell broke loose weather-wise. Howling wind, horizontal rain for the rest of the day. Lit a fire in the fireplace, kicked back and in the evening watched Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova win the Best Song Oscar for “Falling Slowly” from the movie “Once”, one of my all-time favorites. Check it out!

Keep Them Doggies Movin’!

So, to pick up the story of my first rescue transport last month-

The plan was to go on Sunday. I got a call at 8:30 am on Saturday from Jean, the transport co-ordinator. Could I go that day since the weather looked like it was going to get really nasty on Sunday? You betcha. I had seen the forecast, too. Over to the shelter a little before ten. Loaded up four (yup, four) dogs into our Volkswagon Eurovan. One border collie, one Rhodesian ridgeback mix, one lab mix and a pit bull, all in crates. Spanky’s (the pit bull) crate was facing between the front seats, so we could look at each other en route. Finished the paperwork, loaded up towels and anti-stink spray and away we went. The route was from Humboldt County down to just north of Ukiah, east on Highway 20 and out to where it joins up I-5 at Williams. About a five hour drive. A little barking but no real fuss. Loaded up the CD player and locked in the cruise control. Ate a lunch while I rolled. The funniest part of the trip was when some harmonica (Bob Dylan?) came on and Spanky started to sing along. On the way on 20 through Lake County, lots of flooding near the road and small slides and “flooded” signs in the towns. Snow on the higher hills and some by the road. Made cell phone contact with the woman I was meeting right as I came down out of the hills. We both pulled into the gas station within a couple of minutes of each other. Whew. Got the dogs out, let them pee, loaded them into crates in her horse trailer, went to pee myself, called home and hit the road. Elapsed time at the rendevous: 20 minutes. Another five hours of driving. Ate dinner (another tuna sandwich) while I rolled. Got home around 8:45pm. Long, hard day, but four dogs have a chance at a great new life, so it was more than worth it!

Second transport was just over two weeks ago on Feb. 9. I was going down to the Bay Area to hook up with my husband anyway, so figured I might as well help move some more dogs out. There was one to go on Wednesday, two on Friday and a third by the time I got to the shelter on Saturday morning. This time it was a blue heeler, a real redbone hound and a shepherd mix and two drop off points. One dog, the heeler, in Petaluma and the other two in San Rafael. With some in-flight adjustments, it all went fine and then it was on to San Francisco. The top priority was to finally go to the new De Young Museum and generally kick back in The City for a couple of days. Mission accomplished. Here’s the sundown view from our 8th floor (out of 9) room at the Hotel Carleton, our favorite, reasonably moderately priced place to stay in San Francisco. Very convenient location on Sutter Street. Close to art galleries, Japanese, Indonesian, Italian and Vietnamese food and just down from Nob Hill.


The De Young was terrific, inside and out. I had been very skeptical of the outside, but when we stood across the street in front of the new, mind-blowing Academy of Sciences building, we decided that it worked. There is a whole “orchard” of trees in the sunken bandshell area and they look great against the flat plane of the museum’s facade. The tower still looks a little odd, but the design needed that. Too bad I forgot to take some pictures. Sorry.

The inside is everything a great place for showing and viewing art should be. They have so much more room now, so there is a lot more to see. Lots of old favorites like the Sargents and some I don’t ever remember seeing like two by William Keith, a killer Thomas Hill and a couple of Diebenkorns. One of the best modern works was a suspended cube made out of charred wood from a southern black church which had been burned by an arsonist. It was an amazing visualization of objects in three dimensions. It’s called “Anti-mass” and if you go to the De Young, don’t miss it!

We then drove on out to Ocean Beach. Winter in California. We are so spoiled. Here’s a view north towards the Cliff House. It was t-shirt weather warm at four in the afternoon.


One the way back to the hotel, we drove through Golden Gate Park and ended up timing it perfectly for “magic light” as you can see from this photo of the Conservatory of Flowers. Got lots of pictures of cypress trees in great light too, but you’ll have to wait for the paintings.


The next day, we went to the Legion of Honor for more art, this time European (the De Young only has American art). I found, in both museums, that my eye and technical ability in painting has reached the point where I can probably seriously bore almost anyone talking about underpainting, in what order the colors were put down, how many strokes of the brush an area had, the variety of edges, etc. Here’s one of my new favorites from the Legion of Honor, “Portrait of a Miniaturist”, artist unknown. Stylistically, it could have been done last week. It was done quickly, with confidence and probably for the artist him or herself, maybe as a break from the much more tightly finished work that one usually sees from the time (late 18th century).


Had lunch at a fantastic Vietnamese place on Lombard St. called Pot of Pho. Pho being the “national soup” of Viet Nam. Then it was across the Golden Gate to the Marin Headlands, which I had never been to. We drove every road and went out to the ocean’s edge. It was another warm, sunny day and there were lots of people on bikes, at the beach and hiking the trails. The piece de resistance was on our way back, where we stopped for what has to be one of the all-time great views of San Francisco.


You can see why millions “leave their heart” in San Francisco.