Not Smart Enough

not smart enough

Not Smart Enough

Not Smart Enough Notes

I’ve been crippled up with RA with time to think about the not smart enough prejudice we all live with in our lives as artists. It is a subtle put down by those who are or who think they are more intelligent than others. I think we are all guilty of this, even if it is a secretive part of our thoughts. This is part of our competitive nature as artists. It is hard to avoid.

Not Smart Enough

Linda’s Bird Art

I have known several legitimately, really smart, brilliant people in my career and I do believe it is hard for them to be patient and gentle with us lesser folk. They solve problems quickly, are knowledgeable about many topics, and think instantly. It is probably hard for them to wait for us to catch up.

Not Smart Enough

Then there are the folk like me, who “think” we are smart.  We think we are smart, often because we are driven personality types. We are highly motivated to achieve and tend to run over the slow thoughtful types, who like to consider all the angles before making decisions. We are highly opinionated about solutions and we don’t at all play well in the sand box. We equate intelligence with quick thinking and accomplishment. They are not at all the same.

Linda’s Paintings

Not Smart Enough

This is an interesting problem in that there are multiple prejudices about intelligence. My daughter was  was first diagnosed as slow in third grade. I took her for a serious diagnosis and they discovered that she was both dyslexic and ADD. Her IQ was normal. Her teachers had a completely better attitude toward her when they discovered that her IQ was normal. It was an amazing change by teachers before and after her diagnosis.

Not Smart Enough is a terrible prejudice in our society, including the pecking order of artists. There are some artists we just don’t want to be around. They make poor decisions, are socially inept and their personalities are slightly stunted. They are not smart enough! Many of us  are guilty of this attitude and I am hoping to grow some to be a better person. There is room for all of us. We who are lucky to have the independence of full time art career and can easily make decisions, need to be kinder to those who are less fortunate.


Today’s Recipe

Easy Sliders

1 package Hawaiian King Rolls

1 stick butter melted

1 package Good Seasons Italian dressing mix

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 package thin sliced ham

1 package sliced cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350

Slice  rolls in half, leaving them intact.

Place bottom layer in Pyrex deep dish

Mix seasoning with butter and poppy seeds. Brush bottom layer with butter. Lay slices of cheese on the bottom layer. Top with layers of ham. Top with top layer of attached rolls. Coat top layer with butter mixture. Bake until toasted and melted, about 25 minutes. Cut sliders apart and serve with salad.




Tough Times

tough times

Tough Times

Recently I was contacted by a couple of artists who are going through tough times with poor sales. My sales have gradually improved over the last ten years.

Linda’s Bird Art

I keep inventing new ideas to market my work. Up until 2009, I didn’t have to work very hard to sell paintings. I got lazy about marketing because I like painting better than marketing, but now I realize how shortsighted that was.

Tough Times

I thought yesterday about how free life was before 2009. I thought nothing of eating in good restaurants, traveling up to 150 miles to find a nice painting spot,and lots of gizmo’s for my studio. I think those wasteful days are over for the foreseeable future. I would lie if I told you I don’t miss them. I do. I have brought living frugally to a new level over the last couple of years.

I have no magic answers for any of us who are living through tough times.  How have I survived?

Landscape Paintings

I am a realist, not a whistler in the dark. Whatever it takes to sell enough small paintings to survive, I will do. I run monthly specials from my web site to make miniatures and small works affordable. I send my clients little paintings as gifts. I count on my friends to help spread the word about my work. I love them and appreciate them and they feel the same way about me. They send me short testimonials for my web site and share my work with friends.

Tough Times

I cut back on purchasing and supplies, buying only what I must have to keep producing.I don’t buy clothes or shoes anymore. I am retro chic, shabby chic. (ok, I look like a homeless person most of the time). My only luxury is reading and travel now and then. We all need something to make us feel good in tough times.

I do all my marketing on free sites now, having given up on payed advertising. I use Twitter, FB, etc. I have cut back on all advertising except direct mail post cards,  my html newsletter, and in occasional programs for local events. . Those are real value and worth the money. I keep my web site fresh and updated constantly.

Tough Times

I have given up all of my paid associations with art groups and will not renew any of them. They made no difference in my marketing success and were only a vanity for belonging to a group. That alone has saved me a couple of hundred dollars a year.

I have changed my donation to charity policy and now support only four each year. I will gladly sell paintings wholesale to any charity for resale. This was one of the best ideas I ever borrowed, from my friend Kathy Swift (superwoman).

Tough Times

I have learned to depend on my own studio for a venue, rather than galleries. My studio parties are more successful. I’ve added fun tea parties and hiking on my trail to fun activities at my studio.

I try to be open to new ideas all the time and try them out. So what if they don’t work?

Mostly, my faith sustains me. My stubbornness sustains me. My strong will to make it sustains me. Failure is simply not an option. Self confidence is essential, but not stupid self confidence. Pollyanna is not going to survive in this economy. I have given up the luxury of ego and position. I just want to paint the rest of my life. I believe that is what I am supposed to do and I pray that enough friends will help me to do that.

Tough Times

I pray for every artist who is struggling out there. I know you can make it. You just have to work hard, try everything and never give up. Let’s all do our part to continue to help each other.

Today’s Recipe

Marsala Chicken

1 medium sweet onion
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
8 oz fresh presliced baby portabellas
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup Marsala wine (or chicken stock)
1/2 cup no-salt-added chicken stock (or broth)
2 tablespoons balsamic glazeCut onion into slices, then cut rings in half (1/2 cup). Lay chicken flat; slice horizontally through center of chicken, then cut in half if needed to make 4 cutlets. Place flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in shallow dish (or zip-top bag). Dip chicken in flour (coating both sides); shake off any excess flour (wash hands).

Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. Place 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon butter in pan to melt, then add chicken; cook 2–3 minutes on each side or until well browned. Remove chicken from pan.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Place remaining 1 tablespoon each oil and butter in same pan, then stir in mushrooms, onions, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook 6–7 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until mushrooms and onions have softened. Chop parsley.

Stir into pan: wine, stock, and glaze. Return chicken to pan; simmer 3–4 minutes or until sauce thickens and chicken is 165°F. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve sauce over chicken.

Slow Multitasking

slow multitasking

Slow Multitasking

Slow Multitasking Notes

I recently learned something new about slow multitasking. I always thought multitasking meant that you have ten arms and legs and you are doing ten things as fast as you can to hurry through the day. I listen to a program on NPR called the Hidden Brain. It is basically about how we think and function. I find it fascinating. Recently, the program was about how we can multitask in a slow and thoughtful way. It used examples from famous scientists and mathematicians and how they worked out complex problems by resting from one project and taking on others for a bit of time in between. I did not know that Einstein invented the laser while he was working on the theory of relativity. He wanted to rest his mind for a bit.
This makes complete sense to me after some thought. We are all rushing around trying to multitask in the wrong way.

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Using slow multitasking as a diversion from big problems lets our brains rest a bit.
For artists this means switching around mediums, doing tiny and large paintings, reevaluating events and their value to career, and marketing efforts, along with all the other multitasks we do in our personal lives. Instead of fretting about our limited time and resources, we can change the attitude and use them as rest stops along the route of our lives. I want to consider this possibility for a while.

One of the slow multitasks I want to get back to is my summer fun of start paintings. This is a fine way to do slow multitasking. There is a feeling of anticipation with this process. I start a painting five days a week, one each day, and set them aside one by one. I line them up in order. The next week I start one each day and go back to the first set, working a bit on each one and repeat. It is so interesting. You would think they all get done in the same order, but instead it is a randomness of finishing, as some go quickly due to luck, subject, difficulty, etc. This is multitasking at its finest for an artist in my view. I always use the same sized canvases to get the same sort of feel for the project. Sometimes it goes for a couple of weeks and other times it can go on for the summer, depending on how many projects I might have, commissions, and so forth.

Slow Multitasking

This year I am adding to the fun by doing the paintings with a single half inch brush. It is a skill building method. If you can do a decent painting with one half inch brush, think what is possible with a full array of brushes and palette knives!

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I have a new attitude now about slow multitasking. It will be more about thoughtfulness and less about harried stress with too many things to do.

More musings for artists and collectors to come….

Today’s Recipe

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup julienne-cut, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, coarsely chopped
6 slices cooked bacon, finely chopped
1 lb boneless chicken
1 tablespoon smoked (or regular) paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup diced yellow onions
8 oz bowtie (farfalle) pasta
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Bring water to boil for pasta. Chop garlic, tomatoes (reserve 2 tablespoons oil), basil, and bacon. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces; coat with paprika.
Preheat large, nonstick sauté pan on medium 1–2 minutes. Place 2 tablespoons reserved oil in pan, then add garlic and crushed red pepper, chicken; cook 1–2 minutes, stirring often, or until garlic is golden. Stir in onions, bacon, and tomatoes; cook 3–4 minutes or until onions are tender. Remove pan from heat.
Cook pasta following package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta.
Return tomato mixture to heat on low. Stir half-and-half into tomato mixture; cook 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until reduced by about one-half. Add basil, cheese, pasta, and chicken; simmer 2–3 minutes, stirring often, or until mixture thickens and chicken is hot (use reserved pasta water to thin sauce, if needed). Serve.

Ambient Light

notan study


Ambient Light Notes

I thought it might be good to muse a bit about ambient light in painting. Painters often forget about that in their landscapes.

Linda’s Etsy Shop


Ambient light is based on the strength of the primary light source in a a scene. Anything that has light falling on it becomes a source of light. Different surfaces reflect light differently.

Ambient light color depends on direct light and local color of objects. Ambient light  depends  on atmospherics, color of the primary light combined with local color of objects in light.

When painting, make observations about possible ambient light on the scene in front of you. For example,you will see a lot of ambient light in parking lots and reflected off buildings and cars. You might see a blue roof on a red car, because the light is reflected from the sky onto the car surface. Direct sunlight is often enhanced or diffused by ambient light on objects. We see reflections of ambient light as well. Light is bouncing all around a scene on location so we must train ourselves to carefully observe what we see as well as what we think we know.

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We may know a roof is purple, but it may look blue or pink on some of it’s surfaces due to reflected ambient light. We cannot rely on local color alone to make decisions. Use your observation skills rather than assuming which color will be right. One of my students brought in a photo of his horse the other day and the ambient light colored his back in blue. It looked very cool.

If you observe, you will see various color temperature changes within big broad shapes, like tree canopies, from dark cool greens to light yellow greens in the sunlight. That is what will make your paintings really become more believable. Because of ambient light on surfaces you may have subtle areas of warmth in cool distant trees, and cool areas in closer or immediate areas of the painting. This will keep your paintings from being too flat. When the values are the same, changes in the temperature can add dimension within the space. In fact, don’t always assume that values must change to add depth. Simple color temperature changes can separate planes very effectively.

Graphite Drawings

One of the keys to good painting is good observation skills. Go out and look at things. Take notes and do sketches at least once a week.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…


Today’s Recipe:

Spicy Roll Ups

Recipe from Pita

This recipe makes a good amount but can be tweak to your liking.

2 packages of flour tortillas
4 packages of softened Philly cream cheese
1 jar of jalapeños dices very fine

Spread cream cheese in a nice layer over tortilla and lightly sprinkle with jalapeños. Roll them up and chill for about 30 minutes. Then cut into bite size pieces and enjoy!


Plein Air Observation

plein air observation
Plein Air Observation
Plein Air Observation Notes
Plein air observation can be more useful than actually painting onsite. I had a conversation with a landscape painter  about the benefits of  plein air without painting. He does sketching on location. That is great, and there are more ways to benefit. Using a journal and camera are also good as well as simple observation. The field notes are the most benefit to me.  I like to make notes about the angle of sun, the masses, time of day, values along with a line composition thumbnail while I am in the field.
Plein Air Observation
 I also add tiny color note paintings, which I do constantly. They are also called ACEO or Art Cards by some. I use a drawn and measured template. I cut canvas paper to 8 1/2 x 11 inches and then print out the template on these sheets of canvas. I use a piece of cardboard and masking tape to tape them on the card board and then use these tiny formats to do plein air field studies. They take about 10 minutes. They assist with composing, color mixtures, light and atmosphere. They take little time. I can study a subject 8 times on this template sheet in the time it would take to do a small painting. This sheet can be punched on the edge and put into a notebook, or cut into tiny paintings on the grid lines and sold as studies. I sell lots of them.  I use a limited palette for them of five colors, three primaries and Paynes Gray and white as my neutrals for tinting and toning. I believe they are really essential for me to grow and understand the landscape. I also do them in my studio.
Plein Air Observation
I have long said that plein air observation is far more beneficial that actual painting time. If I really want to learn about a particular tree, or field, observation is very important. Before I teach a workshop I go out into the landscape and study the subject, taking notes, doing the studies and thinking about how it works visually. Then I come into the studio to process that information on canvas.  Though I’ve painted trees for a long time, I need to constantly study them to know what they are about. Sorting through a mass of trees is my idea of good painting fun. I spend countless hours doing plein  air observation on farms, and my own land, just carefully thinking and analyzing what I see, on the ground and in the trees. Painting and observing are two different processes. You will see more by watching than by painting.
Plein Air Observation
Not every painter is right for plein air work. It is tough. There are a million bugs, heat, humidity, standing water, confusing landscape, paint efficiency issues, equipment and expense to deal with. I still feel the observation time is more important than the painting process. If you don’t like to paint on location spend time there with a journal instead. I have gradually evolved into a studio painter now. 25 years of painting on location taught me a lot, but I was never a good plein air painter. I did it for fun most of the time. My collectors have always liked my studio work much more than plein air paintings. I am just a better studio painter. The slap dash look of outdoor painting no longer appeals to me visually. That doesn’t mean I hide in the studio. I actually spend more time out in the woods now, observing birds, trees, mosses, leaves, and the way the natural world looks. I believe the observation ha made a huge difference for me. I keep my paint boxes ready to use. I may want to paint outdoors at any time.
More musings for artists and collectors to come…
More musings for artists and collectors to come….
Today’s Recipe
Anna Potatoes
4 large potatoes scrubbed and halved
slice in thin slices about half way through each half. Place potatoes flat side down in deep baking pan. Pour in one can of chicken broth. Dot potatoes with a pat of butter on top, salt, pepper, dried thyme and a dash of paprika. Bake uncovered until potatoes are toasty brown on top and tender. Spoon a bit of sauce over the top as they are plated.


Evolve Healthy

evolve healthy

Evolve Healthy

Evolve Healthy Notes

To evolve is healthy for painters I think. I have been gradually changing in my work since the beginning. I believe fresh technique and ideas keep our work exciting and interesting. I know some artists who have not changed in style for years. Their brushwork is predictable as well as their palette, subjects and so forth. Yes, I would know their work anywhere, and they have an established style, but is that good? Surely their fans and collectors will run out of interest eventually? I don’t know.

Birds and Nests Art

Evolve Healthy

I have evolved more times than I can count. I am a curious person so that suits my personality well. I think the key for me is interest in the process of painting. I don’t care so much about the finished work. Of course I want it to be good and pleasing. We all have egos, but if I didn’t make a living from my art, it wouldn’t matter much about the finish for me.

Linda’s Drawings

I think it is the path along the way through a painting that keeps me at it so enthusiastically. Happily, I have matured enough to not worry overmuch about where I am in the pecking order of artists anymore. What a relief! There are dozens of decisions along the path of a painting. All of them are viable and none are perfect. Making those choices create the unique quality of one artist’s work compared to others. If you line up a dozen painters in front of a scene, the 12 paintings will be different, due to the decisions made along the way to end. Isn’t that cool?

Evolve Healthy

Then there is the factor of maturing, both in age and style. When I was a young painter, I wanted to paint everything. I had a mishmash of subjects and styles going all at once. My work was immature and chaotic. I was experimenting and learning in art school and for some years after. Developing into a mature painter takes a fair amount of time. I didn’t really learn how to paint until I was fifty, though I had painted all my life. Now at 68, I am developing some consistency in my body of work. It is important now not to fall into the trap of safety. I know how to paint, but I don’t want to lock myself into a style because it is pleasant and I sell paintings. Now is the time to renew the adventure. My time grows shorter due to aging. I still have a lot to learn and I still need to push further to find those arcane learning opportunities to grow.

Evolve Healthy

Branching out to birds is one of those fun ways to push myself. Two years ago I knew nothing about birds. I have focused some of my study time on small birds now. They are primitive and whimsical but they are a relief from the hard work of being a landscape painter and increase my knowledge base of the natural world. I don’t have the skill of serious bird painters and wouldn’t have the hubris to try to compete with my betters in that genre, but I can have fun and learn from these sweet little creatures. They take me away from my other work for a bit of fun and learning.

What ever your path, change it up now and then and don’t be afraid to look silly. it is all good learning.

More musings for artists and collectors to come…

Today’s Recipe

Southwest Potato Salad

1 lb red potatoes, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons water
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
2 limes, for zest/juice
1/2 cup  mayonnaise
2 teaspoons garlic seasoning
3 oz queso fresco, crumbled

Slice potatoes and place in microwave-safe dish with water; cover and microwave on HIGH for 8–10 minutes or until tender (stirring halfway through cook time). Drain and let stand to cool.
Chop cilantro (1/4 cup) and shallot (2 tablespoons). Zest 1 lime (2 teaspoons); squeeze both limes for juice (2 tablespoons).
Whisk in large bowl: mayonnaise, seasoning, cilantro, shallots, zest, and juice. Add potatoes to mayonnaise mixture; toss gently until blended. Crumble queso fresco over top and serve. (Makes 6 servings.)