NOTE: The story threads begin with my oldest work at the bottom of the screen, and wander chronologically to the most recent work at the top.
CUSTER MEETS BLACK KETTLE ON THE WASHITA
24" X 24" oil on canvas, gallery wrapped, unframed © 2019
Under the commands of Generals Philip Sheridan and William Tecumseh Sherman, Custer led the 7th Cavalry in a dawn attack on a Cheyenne village on the Washita River in soon-to-be Oklahoma. It was November 27, 1868. The 7th Cavalry had marched for days in a driving blizzard. Custer was known to drive his troops hard when there was glory to be gained. The attack was well within the boundaries of the Cheyenne reservation, established in the October 1867 Medicine Lodge Treaty. One hundred and fifty warriors were killed that day along with about twenty women, children and elderly, and the village was torched by the US soldiers. Black Kettle, a strong influence for peace, had survived the Sand Creek massacre to subsequently be moved from eastern Colorado to present-day Oklahoma. Black Kettle and his wife were among the first killed that cold November morning. He had been moved by US government agents from the frying pan of Sand Creek into the fires of the Washita, so to speak.
THE FRONT RANGE OF SOMEWHERE
18" X 24" oil on canvas © 2019
Available -- $650
In Colorado, the area of the western plains that meets the Rocky Mountains is referred to as "the Front Range," while the western side of the Continental Divide is referred to as "the Western Slope." The Front Range generally includes all the communities from Fort Collins in the north to Colorado Springs, south of Denver. Cottonwoods and willow grow here and there along stream beds and irrigation canals, and the foothills rise gently in the west to meet the higher mountains. This is the backdrop of my early childhood as seen in early summer before the dry season browns all the grasses. The Front Range of Somewhere depicts the spirit of the area, sans real estate developments and shopping strips, and although it is not of a specific location, it fills my heart with comfort.
A MOMENT OF CLARITY
24" X 24" oil on canvas, gallery wrapped, unframed © 2019
2nd PLACE WINNER, oil, 2D
Longmont Artists' Guild Oil Paint Division 6/7/19
Fog is not common in the Rocky Mountains, and fog in autumn is rare indeed, softening the light and distant views. Here and there on a foggy day a hole appears in the fog to offer a wondrous flash of clarity. Reminds me a lot of what goes on inside my head, especially the older I get, and moments of clarity are to my way of thinking quite precious.
RAINBOW WATER HORSE RISES TO THE BAIT
16" X 20" oil on canvas © 2019
Around the year-end holidays, scammers seem to get especially active. They are everywhere, enticing us by threat or bait. The water horse is a shy creature, rarely seen on this planet, but is especially fond of an equally rare neon horse fly. Canny scammers use a facsimile of this insect to lure the water horse from the depths of black water. Don't bite that fly, water horse!
SHE STANDS ALONE
24” x 30” oil on canvas © 2018
Available - $900
1st PLACE WINNER
Longmont Artists' Guild Best 2D in Show 3/8/19
Women who live alone have to face the sunshine, storms and winds of daily activities without in-house emotional support or financial backup. Occasionally rewarding, frequently scary, these are ultimately the price of freedom. This tree digs her roots into the rocky ground and weathers whatever life throws her way. I guess one could say this is a portrait of single women everywhere.
At studio night I frequently give my cousin pointers on his painted horses, so I thought maybe I had better paint a horse of my own. As daily activities wind down in the late afternoon, we often find ourselves drifting toward the local watering hole to quench our thirst and unwind from the day. It would be especially refreshing if we inhabited the dry, rugged, unyielding canyon-land depicted herein. Cheers!
In late March of 1931, in a sudden blizzard in southeastern Colorado, a school bus left the school building early so the 16 students could weather the storm in their own homes. The driver soon became disoriented in the whiteout and the bus got stuck in a ditch, stranded for 36 hours resulting in 5 deaths: 4 children plus the bus driver. The driver had left the bus to try to find help and was found later, frozen, his hands lacerated from following a barbed wire fence, hoping it would lead to a farm house. My father, two uncles and an aunt were on that bus, and our Uncle Arlo, age 6, was one of the victims. On that cold and lonely night, I'm sure they felt swallowed by the raging storm.
I wanted to do a larger painting from my aspen photos of the ashes trip and add some interest from my imagination. Backlit leaves are most dramatic when back-dropped by very dark colors which have the added bonus of providing a touch of mystery. What’s really lurking back there in the shadows?
The second painting done from photos taken on the ashes journey depicts the place on the Encampment River north of Steamboat Springs where my daughters delivered their father’s ashes. We couldn’t find the hunting camp where our family had camped several times in the 1980’s, as the area has changed quite a bit since those days, but the river runs under the bridge and seemed like the right place for the task. Our little party, my two daughters, my brother and I, said a few words and appropriately tipped a beer in honor of the departed. We were accompanied everywhere we went by a little painted lady butterfly, which the girls were sure was the spirit of their dad visiting us. When the ashes went into the river, the dusty part floated away like cream in coffee, but the heavier debris lay on the bottom of the shallow water, in the late-day sun shining like gold. We each made a small rock cairn – some smaller than others; my brother’s cairn was a single white pebble on a boulder – which we knew would probably not last the winter but which was fine with us. In the painting I included a single painted lady, the gold dust staining the bottom of the river, and some little rock cairns. Can you find them? Rest in peace, Tom!
There is a vibrational frequency in the Causal Plane called the origin of color. A spiritual teacher has conducted me and others there on many occasions. I have always wanted to depict this magical frequency. The Birthplace of Color. Have you ever been there?
I am fascinated with shapes and decided to use jigsaw puzzle-shaped pieces of color to depict rocky cliffs. I love rocks of all kinds and have actually spent time studying my brother’s college geology textbook. Seriously. I really just want to be able to identify rocks but instead encountered a complicated chemistry lesson involving volcanoes, pressure and erosion. When I think about it, modern life is a series of pressure and eruptions which end in erosion of one kind or another.
My former husband passed away suddenly in 2012 after a routine visit to see the grandkids in Colorado. He was cremated and his second wife shared the ashes with my two daughters, who kept them in a wooden cigar box that sat on the dash of the truck for driving outings and on the kitchen table during card games and holiday dinners. After five years had passed the girls decided it was time to take his ashes to our favorite camping site on the Encampment River, north of Steamboat Springs and almost to the Wyoming border, where as a young family we had spent many happy hours. Along that October ashes journey I took photos of likely aspen trees, finding myself in the market for painting ideas. The first painting completed was First Gold North of Steamboat, to which my sister immediately laid claim.
My cousin generously employed me to clean his house in Denver for a couple of years until his wife retired. His house is adorned with many original paintings he has collected over his years of attending art shows around the country, which I dutifully kept dusted. One collection is of blackbirds, mostly crows by various artists, and is one of my favorite places in the house. These works inspired me to do my own painting of a jazzed-up blackbird, a magpie – the "sports model" blackbird, due to the white on the belly and wings. Reminds me of a '56 Buick we had when I was a kid.
The 19th Century in the expanding United States was a tragic time for Native American tribes. Driven onto ever-shrinking reservations and embittered by broken treaties, each tribe dealt with the challenges in their own way. The last holdout was the peaceful Nez Perce tribe of the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon, where the rich grasslands enabled them to develop the appaloosa horse breed, known for color, speed and endurance. In a last-ditch attempt to reach the Canadian border and outdistance US federal jurisdiction, Chief Joseph led his tribe on a 126-day journey spanning well over 1000 miles through four different states. A few of the warriors, to show their contempt of the soldiers, had coats made of red blankets, drawing attention and fire. The small band managed to elude and outfight 2000 US Cavalry troops in the longest altercation in the Indian wars, but finally surrendered in October of 1877, a few miles short of Canada in the Bear Paw Mountains of western Montana. Thus ended a period of war between Indians and the US government. The modern technological implements of warfare used during the Civil War ultimately overpowered all of the Native American people. Indeed, the world as they had known it exploded around them. My abstract depiction indicates the green of the forests and meadows, the contrasting reds of battle, bloodshed and red coats, the yellow and white of an explosion, with a sprinkling here and there of appaloosa spots.
When the film Loving Vincent was released in the Denver area market, my sister Judi and I went to see it at the earliest opportunity. The film was a depiction of Van Gogh’s painting life via animated art done in his unique artistic style – over 60,000 individual paintings, the first movie of its kind. Inspired, I rushed home to make my own little painting in the style of the immortal Vincent.
Thanks to Mark Eirhart, a painter of great abstract work and a studio night regular, I have found myself fascinated with abstract images. Painting them is much harder than it looks, so kudos to Mark. Occasionally I try to capture an elusive concept with knife or brush and color that is more symbolic than representational. Emotions like joy, while often a response to something happening in our outer life, are always generated internally and then expressed into the world. They bloom from within.
The first evening I attended my cousin's semi-monthly studio night we had the pleasure of viewing and commenting on a work by an exciting emerging artist from Brush, Colorado, Theresa Conklin. The painting was of a young Caucasian girl in a kimono holding a fan painted with fat cherubs. Behind her was a window – or a painting, I wasn’t sure which – with furrows in a field leading the eye toward flames billowing on the horizon. The mystery of what was happening in that painting was what drew us into the work and involved our emotions, an often missing element which Mike told us is rare and extremely valuable in the business of art. In my first attempt to put this lesson in practice, Tears of the Mask suggests that we often hide behind the masks which we present to the world in our daily lives. Is the mask weeping because, due to whatever insecurities we may harbor, we end up hiding the authentic self?
The first time I attempted to paint with oils after attending studio night, I dabbed color on a small canvas board and then wiped some off with paper towels before adding a few embellishments. Clouds and ocean waves suggest a parallel world similar to but not quite like our own, a world where gravity seems to behave very differently than Newton first recognized on our planet.
My younger daughter, Jennifer, wanted to be a model when she was in junior high and high school. I took a photography class and she and I spent many hours experimenting to produce photos she could use in her portfolio. This portrait was painted from one of my favorites of those photographs.
One of my favorite images is backlit leaves. When I take my daily walk I observe what the leaves are doing in my neighborhood. This watercolor was done of backlit leaves in the very early greening season of late spring.
After painting horses from the internet photo in the Senior Center class in 2013, I knew if I wanted to copyright my images they would have to be the result of my own creative efforts. I decided to look for images in photographs I had taken myself. My first color portrait is of my daughter, Kathryn, and her daughter, Jamie, from a photo I took the day Jamie was born. I began this painting shortly after first attending my cousin's studio nights in spring of 2017 and quickly discovered that portraits in watercolor are really hard to do!
When my sister-in-law, Pat Untiedt, passed away in 2006, I inherited her generous collection of watercolor paints, brushes, papers and how-to books. The materials mostly sat in boxes for years, but I frequently pored over the books on watercolor painting and absorbed ideas and concepts. In 2011 I moved into a little house in Longmont, Colorado across the street from a park with a Senior Center. I took a watercolor class in 2013 at the center and the result was this painting.