Old and New Art Experiences

I had a delightful day in Raleigh yesterday with a friend.  We went to the Farmer’s Market and scored big time with tomatoes (salsa coming soon), peaches and plants.  We also went to the NC Museum of Art, not the first time this summer.

We took a docent tour at the museum, met people from Eritria and Holland, and learned a lot.  One of the paintings we paused at brought back an explosion of memories.  I was in high school and our wonderful art teacher Mrs. Tyner took us to the art museum.  Back then it was in downtown Raleigh, and it was my first trip to a “real” art museum.  The artwork was a feast for my young eyes, but then I went around a corner and came upon The Seine at Giverny, Morning Mists it knocked my socks off!  It was my first aesthetic experience and for years every time I visited the museum I would look for that painting!

joy and monet

So after the tour we wandered over to the West Building and checked out the African art (I love Benin pieces and the contemporary artist El Anatsui).  There was a display that reminded me of pieces from the recent “You Are Here” show that was comprised of interactive video, light and sound works of art.  It was lot’s of fun, but I digress.  So this sign showed the African art in a changing grid pattern AND it included the viewer in multiple ways!

see yourself in african art

Final thoughts:  People often times like a work of art because of a combination of elements, one is that it reminds them of something in their life experiences (that could be positive or negative).  They see something of themselves in the work.  In the older Monet work one of the things that I related to was the serene view of water and trees at a certain time of day and it reminded me of a lake my family frequented.  But now, in the new world (to me, at least!) of digital and video art, the artist can include the viewer IN the artwork and encourage their physical participation.

I have just recently enrolled in two university classes, painting and digital arts.  I’m pretty sure that my horizons are going to expand.

Take a trip to an art museum soon, it could be life-changing!

1st Day of School

Walking through the campus I had attended many years ago found me comparing familiar buildings with new ones, admiring the improved landscapes, and marveling that there’s a Starbucks now.  The art department was the same in some ways but there were many improvements.  Sitting in the lobby I ran into a former student and it was such a pleasure to see her.  Another student came up to ME out of all the other people camped out in the lobby to ask where a certain room was.  Yep, he thought I was a professor.  With a touch of glee I told him I was new and didn’t know.  Because, like him, I am a new student too.

Now, it’s not like I haven’t been here since my undergrad days (I also got my masters here 16 years ago) but it was different today.  Or was it?  I loved being in classes learning new things, maybe it was that old time feeling from years past.  I found myself briefly reminiscing about my professors from the early days but looking forward to the new ones in Advanced Painting and Intro to Digital Arts.

It IS different this time.   This time my work will benefit from my life’s experiences and my (hopefully) improved skills.  There’s an abundance of ideas to explore while pushing the envelope in my work.  Spending time in a studio and having the pressures of deadlines and critiques will be also be a boon to this all-too-often undisciplined (retirement is too much fun, y’all!) artist.

Stay tuned to see the fruits of this new endeavor grow!

peaches photo
Future painting?



Be Careful What You Wish For!

I LOVE painting faux stones, I told them.

And clouds, for that matter.

So I was recently given the opportunity to paint LOTS of stones for a Repunzel’s Tower in a local theater production of Into The Woods.  I think it ended up being 120 square feet of stones.  Enough stones to make me question my original statement, but now that feeling has passed.

I love working as a set painter for our local theaters.  The work must be done under a deadline and executed quickly.  Working with the visions of the director, stage manager and the set builder to bring the ideas to fruition is most satisfying.   The best part is seeing all the separate parts of my work come together under the lights with the actors and singers.  I am in awe of how all of these different elements are brought to that point. And in awe of anyone who can act, sing, dance.

Then, it is finished and I can go on to my “fine art”.

Local people, check out “Into The Woods” at the Carolina Civic Center in Lumberton June 8th – 16th!  Facebook page here and website here.

This is the tower when it was first set up.

Rapunzel's Tower
Rapunzel’s Tower (aka Lots of Stones to paint!)



Pop-up Art Show

Last night we were getting caught up with Grace and Frankie (on Netflix, check it out if you haven’t seen the series!).  Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s characters Grace and Frankie were staging pop-up events for their um, feminine product (am I a prude or what?) that they had designed and manufactured.  The first event was on a very small scale, the next was larger and without proper permits so yeah, they got thrown off the university campus (but they made sales and future contacts!).

Pop-ups are great events to sell art, products, services, etc.  They can last for weeks or months or they can be one-day events.  They are evidently a common occurrence in the big cities but are perfect for small towns too.  But, despite the spontaneity and simplicity that Grace and Frankie’s examples seemed to imply, they do take planning.  It is recommended that six months be allowed for typical pop-ups, but I know from experience they can be planned in a month.  Well, I will know in a few weeks.

We are having a one day pop-up art show in our town on March 3rd.  It is for all artists of our large county and it is hoped that there will be many more events like this to showcase the artists of our area.  It is going to be great for the downtown area, which is in the process of being revitalized and rediscovered.  The event will be in a large building that used to be a furniture store (it has pegboard and nails in the plaster walls, yay!), so pop-ups are great for empty real estate and their agents.  Local people, wouldn’t it be great to have our own little “arts district” involving visual arts, theater, music?  I am excited and see so many possibilities for the future.

So, if you are a local artist, please join us!  If not an artist, you can be a patron of the arts, so please join us!  Not local?  Make a trip and check us out!

show flyer full sheet FINAL






TBT – my dad still surprises me

I’ve written about my dad before and his raw, natural talent.  He was a huge influence on my own art and was one of my greatest supporters.  During the past year I have discovered photos and articles about him and even sketches I had never seen before.  It is always a joy to discover these little gems and I hope you enjoy them.

The latest discoveries were a photo and article from the local paper about Dad and other artists being chosen to exhibit at the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee.  This was in 1982 and I found it in a photo album.

The sketch was from a file of papers that evidently had been saved from his desk at work (as a manager for a financial company).  They usually began as notes of a car that was to be financed and evolved into ideas for sculptures.  From left brain to right brain on a single sheet of paper!

Where are the horse’s legs?  Who knows, the horse never was never finished for some reason although it was used in a photograph of the current grand kids at that time.  Below that a pic from this past Christmas with the latest Great-Grand, enjoying his time on the horse!

jep newspaper pic138jep newspaper pic and article139

sketch horse carving072

kids with horse carving074

christmas2017 20


In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season furniture was rearranged to make way for our beautiful live and traditionally tall tree.  Artworks were also rearranged to make place for the decor (and frankly to make room at the dining room table!).  Then things calm down (it was eerily quite and lonely when my loved ones left town!) and the post-holiday cleaning and organizing begin.

Let me state here that there was very little PRE-holiday cleaning but there were valid reasons for that.  Then there’s the procrastination factor.  And the it-was-just-a-busy-time factor.  A poor excuse is better than none, right?

Anyway, I noticed two works of mine that had been absent-mindedly placed together.  Oddly enough they share a common theme.  One is an oil pastel painting of a friend’s daughter’s hands holding a broken bird egg.  The other is an assemblage of my zentangled eggs and other objects.

This got me thinking about themes in an artist’s body of work.  I am currently working on a series of portraits of friends and family that show a variety of emotions, so there’s a theme.  They are/will be drawn and painted, as per my favorite media.  But the egg assemblages are a completely new medium for me, originally the solution to an overabundance of drawn on eggs.  Creating them almost made me feel as if I were two different artists because they are so removed from the 2-d work, I even made separate Instagram and Facebook pages for them.  But now there is a connection, although I’m not planning on creating more egg paintings just to justify that (come to think of it, I DO have another egg painting, lol!).

Comments welcome!

egg drawing and assemblage
Accidental but happy placement of works.
detail egg box
Detail of egg in hand-made paper “nest”.
angel overlooks the decorating
The tree-top angel was checking out Duncan’s work!
detail egg in hand drawing
Detail of oil pastel painting.

Words and Visual Art

georgia okeefe quote

I am not good with words, putting them together in a creative and meaningful way is difficult for me.  Writing for this blog involves a huge act of procrastination for me.   I do, however, love putting words with my art.

Currently I am working on a new body of work that is mainly mixed media.  Textures from tissue paper, modeling paste, gessoed fabrics and raised stencils are an extension of earlier works.  None of these involve text as of yet, but in the process of thinking about works for this series, there are ideas evolving that involve words.  This feels like a teaser since I have nothing to show yet, so I’ll show some of the new pieces that are finished.  And some that are not.  Sometime soon.

I also never liked writing artists statements.  The discovery of these favorite quotes, the Georgia O’Keeffe was found on the Internet (Natasha Wilson artist) and by Hopper that really hit home with me.  Guess I should investigate artists who use words IN their art.

hopper quote

All of my students are a joy…

Queen Steph
Queen Steph           Pencil on Canson board        21″ x 15″

Yesterday I was in a local big box store and ran into a former student.  We hugged and he walked with me for a while and I got caught up with his current plans.  While we were talking, another student from WAY back when I taught middle school (over 20 years ago!) came by.  We hugged but didn’t get to talk much.  She doesn’t know it, but I always say she was one of MY best teachers ever.  She had several disabilities that I won’t go into here, but she showed us the meaning of resilience and having a good perspective on life.

Coincidentally, perhaps, I just finished a pencil drawing of another former student.  This young lady had a rough start in life but caught a break when she was younger.  Her options after graduation were limited but she had a plan.  I haven’t seen her since the last day of that school year but I’m sure she stuck to her plans to improve her life.

I used to have a sign on the back of my classroom door that read:  All of my students are a joy, some when they enter the room, some when they leave!  These students I’ve mentioned, and many more, were the ones you didn’t want to leave the room.


Not EGG-zactly what I usually do…

detail egg cluster

Sorry, I know that puns are the lowest form of humor but it just came out!

Here are photos of the latest egg projects.   The eggs needed to be in a protected setting and I wanted to include more natural materials so I enclosed them in wood crates and shadow boxes.   I love Joseph Cornell assemblages so maybe his work had an influence on me.  BTW, the Art Institute of Chicago has a huge, dimly lit cabinet full of Cornell pieces!  Click here to see his work.

Included media includes hand-made paper (paper towels and denim pulp) “nests” and discs, branches from my dad’s shed, marbles from husband’s childhood collection and screen wire.  And a print of a painting I did of my grandmother Mama Pate!

I won’t say these are finished and there are other projects on the back burner, so stay tuned.

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Something new, something old…

first set

It has been an interesting six months as far as my art goes.  Works included bottle cap mosaics, painted murals and stage sets, not the usual drawing and painting but art none the less.  A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a tile mosaic workshop with the world famous Isaiah Zagar.  To quote Steve Earle in “Coppperhead Road”:  I came home with a brand new plan.  There are many ideas for tile mosaic murals in my head but first one must accumulate the necessary media and tools.  This takes time but I know it will happen.  Friends, family, strangers are contributing tile, pottery and dinner plates to the stockpile for future murals.  There is even the gift of warehouse space.  Free!

In the meantime, a friend gifted me with two boxes of blown-out chicken eggs.  These were to repair a craftsy door wreath I’d made with various colored (naturally by various chicken breeds) eggs but my media was fragile and needed some replacements.

What to do with a multitude of beautiful eggs?  Why not draw on them?  Why not Zentangles?   I used to do Zentangles as an introductory lesson for my beginning art students.  One does not need drawing skills because the lesson involves basically repeating patterns and lines so it was a successful exercise.  Zentangles are doodles.  The amazing thing was watching 30 high school students go silent as they got into their assignment.  The “zen” part is for real, y’all.  Here’s a great article from Psychology Today about the benefits of Zentangles here.

lots of eggs

So, I doodled on the eggs.  Watching tv at night, I doodled.  Combined with my morning cup of coffee, I doodled (it seems to set my brain into a calm, creative mode).  The transformed eggs began to accumulate.  Now what to do?  They’re too fragile to be held by viewers (or to leave on a table top, they don’t take well to rolling off the edge!). Are they too craftsy?  Could I create a work of ART from them?

That takes us to my current status: assembling new artworks that incorporate the eggs.  Thinking past my usual drawing/painting.   Thinking about paper/denim pulp.  The pics shown here are of works in progress, so stay tuned for further developments.

box of nests