Monthly Archives: May 2013

Things not what they seem . . .


Sometimes, things are not what they seem, and on my recent road trip, I ran into a couple of good examples of this that I wanted to record in my trip journal. By the time I got done with the page, I had used some interesting techniques that I thought would be worth sharing with you.

The first thing was a tree. We saw it while getting gas before we ever left Santa Fe. . .


If this tree looks a little strange to you, there is a good reason. It is not a tree at all. It is a cell tower dressed up like a tree. Not bad, but a real tree would look like this . . .


However, you gotta hand it to them – the pretend tree certainly looks better than a big pole with lots of metal boxes on it.

The second strange thing came up when we were just about to Albuquerque, and I saw this . . .


That doesn’t look so unusual for the Southwest, right? Just a lone pueblo building on a barren plain.

However, that really was the Sandia Casino and Resort, which looks more like this . . .


It’s vast and huge, and not at all isolated. It’s all a matter of where you are looking from. Driving southbound on I-25, for a brief moment, you get the simplified version.

So, I wanted to put these two subjects in my journal, and usually, I would sketch and paint them.

But I was feeling very lazy, and I didn’t want to draw everything to scale etc.

So, first I turned to my iPad where I had imported the photos (actually shot with my iPhone from the car).

There is an iPad app called Artist’s Sketch that does a very good job of turning photos into sketches. There are lots of iPad apps that do this, and you can do it with filters in Photoshop and Elements as well, but I like this app the best,


So I turned the two photos into sketches that looked like this . . .


I then flipped them and printed them onto Sheer Heaven . . .


Once they were transferred into my Stilman & Birn Beta journal, all I had left to do was paint . . .


So, the message here is that if you are too lazy to draw something like I was, or if you aren’t all that happy with your drawing skills, but like to add color, this is a perfect way to get anything from a photo into your art journal – as an illustration.

Try this – it’s fun!

About That Road Trip . . .


Don’t worry – this won’t be like one of those slideshows of the neighbor’s vacation. I will only be showing you the interesting parts – and relating them to my travel art journal of the trip – because that is even more interesting for all the artists here.

We wanted to leave very early on Friday, the 26th. But every artist knows how it is to make sure you have packed *everything* you think you need. Lots of worry/hurry. Got to have the art supplies!

So, we finally pulled out in mid-afternoon. And then we realized there had been no food, so the whole trip started out right here at Harry’s Roadhouse with a big cheeseburger.

Harry’s is a local favorite because it is picturesque and colorful – and has good food. My favorite of all the art stuff on their walls is this Tree of Life . . .


So, I thought I would include it on the first page of my art journal for this trip. It would have been great to get the blue wall too, but that would have taken a lot of masking tricks (I don’t use acrylics in my journal), so I went with the plain old sketch method. It’s the idea that counts, right?


We headed south on I-25 for a couple of hours. We were talking and I was reading to Val (who was driving) from a Ceramics magazine (she’s a potter and that’s her passion).

We got distracted – 14 miles worth – and had to u-turn and come back to catch our exit. That’s ok – we’re just on vacation, right? Who’s in a hurry? Not us!

Some two lane highways  (with traffic signs for Wild Horse crossings), and we arrived in Ruidoso, NM.

Ruidoso is an artsy, tourist town that was popularized by vacationing Texans because it is easy access from Texas. So, there’s a decided Western, rustic feeling. It’s another mountain town, like Santa Fe, but the mountains are a lot greener.


The reason the mountains are a lot greener is that they get more rain, and there are lots of TREES. There is something I love about this photo of the woods . . . it’s so peaceful.


It’s not easy to get a good photo in the woods. This is mostly because a good photo needs a strong focal point, and you usually can’t see the forest for the trees – literally. I was lucky here because that hollowed out tree trunk provided a nice contrast and made a good focal point.

This photo has no focal point . . .


But that’s ok because it is a perfect photo of the inside of my brain since 2013 began – and there has been very little focus in there for sure!

The Chief at the top of this post also reflects something of how I have been feeling this year. I am not a huge fan of these totem sculptures usually, but I LOVED this artist (could not find name, but his sculptures are scattered around Ruidoso). The emotion he can portray! I will share another of his sculptures next time.

There are some other things I want to let you know about, and a great laugh to share.

Inktense Workshop . . .

The third session started Friday, and it will probably be the last live session. By that, I mean the last Group session before it becomes a WHENEVER, self-paced workshop. If sharing with other students is important to you, you may want to jump in this one

Inktense Workshop Details Page

NEW Mailing List . . .

My mailing list is very old. Lots of email addresses have gone away or changed, and the task of clean-up looks impossible because it is actually a Yahoo Group used only for announcements of new posts to this blog. I also don’t like that folks have to be a Yahoo member to subscribe to my blog this way.

SO . . . I have created a brand new email notification list here

It is really easy to fill out – only your Email address is required, and then a confirmation is emailed to you and all you do is click that you indeed did sign-up.

You can find the sign-up link at the top of Sidebar too – anytime. Just click Subscribe – Email.

I will use this list only for notifications of new posts to this blog or a newsletter if I ever find a reason to do one.

If you already get new post notices from the Yahoo list, I will be sending this new link out to you there also for easy switching, and in a couple weeks, I will kill off that Yahoo Group.

I want to do a lot of simplifying this year, and you can really help with that by signing up on this new list. Thanks in advance.

Photo Feedback?

I gave some little tips when I posted the photo of the woods above, and I am going to add that kind of thing to my posts because we have a lot of aspiring photographers reading this blog.

When I held my Photography Workshops (I will again, but I have to find some time), one of the most valuable parts of the learning was the weekly reviews of students’ photos (the reason those workshops take so much time).

Everyone seemed to really learn from those reviews, and so I was thinking it might be a good thing for this blog if I reviewed a submitted photo periodically – as a learning thing.

Let me know in comments if you like this idea, AND I would need photos to review.

If you have a photo you wish were better, please email a copy to me at

I will choose one (maybe weekly) to review and offer tips on improvement. You can be anonymous if you want or we can credit you – let me know your preference in your email.

REMEMBER . . . the point of this is not almighty praise (although I will certainly point out what is good about the photo). The point is to look at what could have been better, and all of us learning from that. So, don’t send your best shots and get hurt feelings if I say they aren’t perfect. We are all grown-ups here – well, maybe not me, but you are – and we can understand the value of learning through constructive criticism.

If this works (i.e. if readers send me photos), I may also add a design feedback thing.

I want this blog to become valuable for learning as well as, hopefully, some entertainment.


The following is one of the funniest things I have ever seen, and it will make your day.

It’s about what some monkeys think about inequaity.

If you do not spit your coffee in a burst of laughter at some point during this short video, rush right out tomorrow and get your laugher checked.


To my own beloved Mother who has so valiantly recovered from her recent bout with pneumonia, and who is an inspiration everyday. Here with my Sis at a local restaurant . . . Cassie is a great Mother too!


88 on March 8, and slowing her down is like trying to herd kittens!


AND Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who live the unselfish lives required to nurture and care, and love unconditionally. You deserve the best thanks.

That goes for you Moms of furkids too. I know what that takes! I asked mine not to make me the “presents” they made last year. Just a kiss will do!

Have a wonderful Sunday afternoon.

A Scarf in a Pot . . .


Scarves are so popular these days and the silky ones for Spring make a beautiful gift.

So, here’s an idea that adds extra gifts of a coordinated scarf clip and a flower pot – all in one clever package.

I put a number of these together for my gallery for Mother’s Day, but this would make a great housewarming or birthday gift too.

The message washes right off the pot rim after the gift is “opened”.

Let’s look at what it took to make this blue one.




That’s all there is to it – and you still have time before Mother’s Day.

Back from the Road Trip . . .

I know I promised to try to share along the way. I also thought this would be a relaxing “vacation”. Not so much.

Do not go on a “relaxing” vacation with a friend (Valerie) who is a creative whirling dervish, and a gallery owner like yourself. Somehow, the synergy keeps you up at night! And then don’t go with that friend to visit your other gallery owning friend (Vesta), who is a perpetual creative explosion of some type.

OMG – I was quite sure my head would blow up.

After having such a great adventure with V and V, I need some R and R.

It was a fabulous trip through Ruidoso, NM and White Sands, Tubac, Tucson, Scottsdale and Sedona. I will share as I get the photos and art journal pages organized.

Meanwhile, hope you like the Scarf Pot.