Contact me by email: or telephone 520-682-2837

'In any land what is there more glorious than sunlight! Even here in the desert where it falls fierce and hot like a rain of meteors, it is the one supreme beauty to which all things pay allegiance ... The chief glory of the desert is its broad blaze of omnipresent light.'
-John Van Dyke

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Year

First of all, my best wishes to all my friends and customers for the Year 2015!
I hope to see you all again at my shows.
For next spring I have added some venues that seem promising and open up new markets. I hope it works out! Please see my events schedule.

I also upgraded my giclee printer form a rather old Epson Stylus Pro 9800 to a brand new
 Canon iPF8400. It also prints up to 44 inches wide, but it uses 12 colors!
I also found that one set of chrome pigment inks sets me back by over $1250. Ouch!

The printer is 6 inches longer than the old one to accommodate the extra cartridges. Of course I measured whether it would fit into the place in my studio where the old one sat. But when it was delivered on a huge truck with a fork lift it turned out that it compared to the old one like a minivan to an upright piano. It did not fit through any doors or hallway.
 So it came in through the patio door into the bed room, and there it stayed. With its own designated PC.

But the great news is that new printing media and more colors are available and even my old trusted products like the 6x8 canvas blogs seem to shine in a new radiance. So I am very happy with the change and I have already sold many new prints at my 2 December shows.

The prices for prints will not change much. They are still somewhat lower at shows than over the internet to encourage sales at the booth. Please go to the page 'Prices for art-prints and printing services'  on this blog. It overrides all older prices anywhere on the internet.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jan's Agave

As a biologist, I have many friends among zoologists and botanists. One of them is a great cactus and succulent gardener in the Mojave Desert of NW Arizona. He grows some of the most spectacular Agaves from all over the Americas. 

About this one Jan says:
This singularly colorful specimen of Agave guadalajarana is growing in a lovely private garden in Escondido, California. Fresh marginal teeth along the leaves are shades of yellow and orange as they emerge from the central conical bud, and age to darker red and eventually nearly black on the oldest leaves. Set against the glaucous waxy blue of the leaf cuticle, it presents a highly decorative effect.

 Agaves have always been among my favorite painting subjects, even though I regularly struggle somewhat with their complexity.  I was particularly attracted to the juicy complementary colors of the central core, playing against the much starker light and dark contrast of the older leaves in the periphery.

This painting is framed to the size of 22 in by 28 in and will be introduced at the Fountain Hills Arts and Craft Festival from November 14 to 16. 
See you there!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Another cat commission

My clients really liked the portrait of Harley (the tabby) so they commissioned one of their other cat as well. Another cell phone shot - I'm getting used to this.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cat portrait comission

Painting from a photo is possible, but usually not too satisfying all the client expects is a copy of the photo?  But then I got this one: a cell phone shot, with the typical wide-angle distortion that cell phone close-ups seem to deliver.
The client loved that particular photo because of the expression: the cat with attitude. But I did not get the impression that she was looking for a distorted caricature of a cat.

So I pulled out sketches of my own cat that has a similar body type and tried to superimpose the face and expression of Harley.  

The pose was similar enough to the photo. The background colors are the same ones I was going to use in the fur of the cat. I am thinking of a spot of sun light - any cat would want to relax right in the middle of it.

Finally when matting it, I decide to sacrifice a bit of the hind paws that are only suggested anyway to give the cat a little jaunty tilt - to go with the expression.

The client loved it and has already picked it up. Getting here was slightly adventurous after the rains had washed out the road a bit. Luckily she came in an SUV.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lambing Season

A little Bighorn Sheep was born in May at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, and during the first days she seemed to be all legs with big chubby joints. She's growing into those legs fast now ... soon will have the gawky teenager look.

I am getting ready for the 4th of July show in Flagstaff where I will introduce this little girl to the public. In a barn wood frame maybe?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cactus Flower Time!

3 new originals ready in time for the 
Phippen Museum Western Art Show and Sale 

Strawberry Hedgehog
 A new half sheet painting for the Phippen Show at the end of the Month in Prescott: Strawberry Hedgehog flower. When I saw the model, it was adorned by a beautiful metallic green Sweatbee. Maybe next time I'll include it!

Very Prickly Pear
Sometimes the transparent petals of the flowers and the glassy brilliance of the thorns create an effect like stained glass.

A variation on the theme 'Desert Fire' showing the breathtaking color combinations of my favorite cactus which also happens to be our earliest and richest producer of flowers: Opuntia macrocentra

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The bright side and the dark side of Arizona out-door art shows

 I feel so lucky that I was able to make my two passions into working carriers. I studied biology and pursued that education through masters and Ph.D. Research and teaching positions took me to many different countries in Europe, New Zealand and the US. Right now Mexico and Central America are my great love. Parallel to being a biologist, I built my business as a watercolor painter. I could not imagine to live without this outlet for my creativity, and nowadays the income from my art allows me the freedom to follow my own interests in the scientific field. So I was able to shift from the rigors of  research in physiology teaching in medical school to the pleasure of doing mostly field work in entomology. Arizona proved to be the ideal place to sell my kind of art and happens to be in the heart of one of the riches areas of biodiversity on the globe. Luckily, my husband who grew up in California shares my love for the desert and was happy to move here. We bought enough land to have our own little nature preserve, allowing us a very intimate association with the Sonoran Desert. Today my continued interest in macro photography is at the basis of most of my studies, and I am hoping that one day the result will be an illustrated field guide to Arizona's beetles and bugs. 

I was surprised how much I enjoy selling my art at open air shows. I love the contact with people who are drawn to my work. I actually managed to change from a shy introvert into a rather out-going person.  Nothing is a good for your ego as a constant stream of happy art show visitors! And of course it doesn't hurt when their appreciation results in sales. We are a materialistic society, and  when people spend their hard earned money on my work it is a kind of validation of my art. I know. I could also try to compete in national shows for ribbons and prizes awarded by educated jurors. But I like the popular vote for now.

The art shows take me to very pleasant parts of southern and central Arizona and even though they can be physically exhausting there are worse ways to spend a weekend. Another reason that my two carriers work out well together is that the show season in southern and central Arizona lasts from October to April. Insect activity slows down even in Arizona during this period, except for a few winter active sand dune specialists in the Yuma area. I usually find some time to spend with them, too. Shows are just weekend affairs. While my small business is time consuming, it allows me to manage my time freely.
A few select summer shows provide me with a good reason to get out of the heat and into the higher elevation breeding grounds of some very interesting insect species, so that works just fine, too. I have also found that is great to combine these shows with presentations and field tours for naturalists. So nature festivals have become another fun venue.

A big factor in all out-door shows is the weather. I began participating in tent shows in the mid nineties. Back then the winter rains were a reliable problem that forced me to upgrade my tent to industrial strength and weather-proof every aspect of my set up. We tried space heaters, spot lights, clear front walls to be closed when the rain blew in ... Even big shows in Tempe were apt to close down when Sky Harbor airport reported snowfall.
 But over the last years, the climate has changed markedly. Excessive heat can be a problem in February. Winter rains have become so rare that they usually don't hit the shows. If they do, everyone is so happy to get rain that we aren't even sorry to see fewer customers. Professionally organized shows with seasoned participants hardly ever close down anymore.

But one problem is becoming more prevalent: strong winds. Arizona does not get hurricanes or tornadoes (although there are reports ever now and then) but there are some shows that are gaining a reputation for too much dust, blown over tents and lost inventory. Although my tent is stronger and heavier than most, I tend to avoid those. But sometimes strong sales reports can make even those shows tempting. I don't gamble. I get my thrills elsewhere. So I booked the SAACA art festivl in March 2014.  On Saturday I enjoyed the busy location and the gorgeous  view of Push Ridge in the Catalina Mountains. A couple of tents of blew over in wind gusts, but they were unsecured and lightly built.
In the evening I tightened up especially well and drove home.

 The US National Weather Service published this on March 9, 2014

"Very localized but strong east winds of about 45 to 50 MPH caused damage to numerous tents setup for the Oro Valley Spring Festival of the Arts at the Oro Valley Marketplace late Saturday night into early Sunday morning. Expect gusty east ...winds to continue today, especially this morning.

What is very interesting about this event is that some areas usually sheltered from strong east winds by the Catalina Mountains such as Oro Valley did see the strong winds this time. The meteorological mechanism for the east winds was different than usual as low pressure moved from north to south helping to enhance the easterly winds."
The picture of damage at the Oro Valley Marketplace was taken by an off duty NWS meteorologist at about 12:30 AM Sunday morning. I feel this is fair use it because I provided part of the subject....
 Randy and I drove out to Oro Valley at 2:30 am because the wind was howling terribly at our house (about 40 mi west of the show). More than half the tents were down, some in the road... my own tent, a 'Trimline' was just fine when we arrived, but while we were still wondering what to do, a gust picked up another tent three spaces away, a very heavy 'Crafthut' including wall panels and weights and rolled the whole package on top of my neighbor and me. Glassed paintings went flying and hit my van (I ducked behind it) and my front tent wall was slid open. We got the upside down booth off my tent which stood still upright. In a break between gusts we were able to pack all my art ranging from big framed paintings to greeting cards as carefully as always. I let the tent roof fly lose rather than letting the wind rip it off. With this decrease in wind resistance we could break down and load the tent also without further damage. So I'm fine, my inventory is too, my van has some new battle scars, one tent wall needs fixing or replacing. I am just glad that it happened at a show close to home so Randy could help. 
Now it's 2 weeks until the next show at 4th Avenue in Tucson. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

New Originals and Print Editions

Today we are setting up our Outdoor Art Show at the Country Club in SaddleBrook, north of the Catalina Mountains.
Although this show is usually quite small, it  will be exciting for me because I will bring the new originals that I painted after the holidays and I will also introduce several new print editions at this show.

So the giclee printer was running hot this week. Here a group of color proofs is being printed, and after some tweaking, the first of several new images were produced on paper as well as on canvas.

These are my medium sized (16 in x 20 in, $60.00) giclee prints on acid free heavy art paper, in archival mats and presented in clear plastic sleeves.

11 in x 14 in ($30.00) is another size that will fit standard sized frames. I also offer some framing, but of course I am not trying to compete with a well stocked frame shop.

These little (6 in x 8 in x 0.5 in, $40.00) canvas blocks are by far my best seller. Many customers have moved to Arizona after they retired and downsized their homes. They want some local art, but their wall space is limited. They love these little gallery wrapped canvases that can be hung as they are without framing. I am sure my new Arizona Critters series will be a hit in this size.

All prices above are for on-line orders, shipping and taxes apply. Buy directly at my booth for a lower price!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Superb Owl Sunday!

Forgive me if the title sounds like bragging! But it is February 2, 2014 and Randy is watching the Sea Hawks beating the Broncos - but of course the Superbowl is not over yet. But my Superb Owl painting is just about finished.

The reference photos were by my friend Ned Harris who found a cooperative Burrowing Owl in the Sulfur Springs valley in SE Arizona. But we have some here in Marana, too.
Here are the steps, my challenge was to not let them blend into each other too much and bring the front one forward.

Here is the finished painting. The colors are a little off because by now it is so dark that I had to photograph it under my daylight corrected but yet artificial desk light. But I am quite happy with it. Luckily I'm no Broncos fan (or any kind of football fan for that matter.) But I like the VW commercial as described to me by my husband

Friday, January 31, 2014

More Arizona Critters

Regal Horned Lizard
My photographer friend G. Vargas allowed me to use her beautiful shot of a mature, colorful Regal Horned Lizard as a reference. But I nearly gave up. I guess natural selection worked hard for millennia to make our little dragon cryptic, shadow-less and distort his shape, so who am I to give him his three-dimensionality back and make him stand out in a watercolor within a few hours....
For everybody who worries about the ants: no pogos were harmed in the making of the painting and no macro-photographer's copyright was infringed upon, the ants crawled out of my brain alone.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Arizona Critters

Two new little watercolors were inspired by our backyard animals. A pair of Great Horned Owls has been hooting at night until about a month ago. They were often both sitting in one of our Eucalyptus trees, hooting at each other. Their voices are so deep and powerful that I can feel them 'in my gut' like basses from a boom box.

I started the painting with the darks to keep the confusing pattern of the drawing under control. I could have used inks, but I'm hoping to pick up some of the darks when I wash over them. They should then blend and soften somewhat. That will require a delicate touch to avoid smearing and mud. This is not the traditional approach to watercolors. The last step shows the addition of the background of very free-flowing pigments to counteract the tight rendering of the portrait.

watercolor of a Great Horned Owl inspired by a photograph by D. Barret

The owl now looks like cut out and pasted onto the picture. To finish, I need to loose edges and blend some of the background into the portrait to integrate the two elements. If done successfully, the lost edges will also make the head appear rounded. I think it's done, but I will return to it tomorrow and maybe tweak it a little. I like the way the background turned out.

Yesterday I also finished this little guy, a Harris Antelope Ground Squirrel.  For some reason google refuses to upload him without turning and flipping the image. But that's OK, he found a home with one of my collectors right away when I posted him on facebook.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Superstition Mountains

from Apache Junction in 1995
A giant monolith, Superstition Mountain, rises to the height of 3,000 feet above the surrounding desert floor and dominates the eastern fringe of the Salt River Valley east of the metropolitan area of Phoenix.

When I lived in Scottsdale I loved hiking to Weavers Needle or up the Siphon Trail, but I always found the iconic shape of Superstition Mountain an intimidating and awkward topic for a painting.  Last week I tried again to meet that challenge. It was the third time I think. With more distance, I'm living in Tucson now, I approached it after acquiring  a little more background knowledge which always helps. But I think most importantly, I didn't try to sit out there in June to do a plein air study. I did that before: it's too hot for watercolors (and me). So I turned to my old slides for inspiration and did a studio painting.

Plein air study in June of 1997
From the web site of the Apache Junction Public Library I got a little more than the usual 'Lost Dutchman Mine Story'. To the Apaches the mountain was the home of the god of thunder. Having seen huge anvil clouds amassing around the mountain top before summer monsoons, I understand that notion.The Pima Indians called it Ka-Katak-Tami meaning "The Crooked Top Mountain." The Spaniards called it Sierra de espuma (Foam Montain? not quite clear to me). The Pimas had many fearful stories about it, which seems to have given rise to the name Superstion Mt. among white settlers. It appears under this name on military maps from 1870.

The website explains the geology of the strange shape that rises so abruptly out of the desert flats: 'This land of towering spires and deep canyons was formed by volcanic upheaval some 29 million years ago during the tertiary period of geologic time. Superstition Mountain was formed during a tectonic maelstrom which resulted in a massive caldera. The caldera was almost seven miles in diameter. After the lava cooled, magma pushed the center of the caldera upward forming a mass of igneous rock. The mass was slowly eroded for millions of years by running water and wind forming the mountain we see today. Superstition Mountain in the distant past was a thousand feet higher than it is today. Uplift, subsidence, resurgence and erosion have all played a role in shaping Superstition Mountain 

Superstition Mountain close to Apache Junction is only the most well-known part of the Superstition Wilderness Area containing some 242 square miles or 159,780 acres of Arizona's rugged desert mountain terrain. Mountain peaks tower 6,000 feet above sea level and deep canyons dissect this vast wilderness region. The lower slopes are a great place to experience exuberant spring flower blooms in years with just the right pattern of winter rains.  Down there, the summer heat can be brutal. But I did see my very first Collared Lizard there, running on two legs like a miniature Tyrannosaurus rex. The higher, more remote areas support even Ponderosa Pines and are the home to Bighorn Sheep, Black Bears and Mountain Lions.   
This year I'll definitely be back for more exploration, hikes, and maybe paintings, who knows..' 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Horse portraits in black and white

When I was in my teens I saw the work of Rainer Blutke - Arabians and Lipizzaner horses portrait in charcoal. Inspired by those drawings I did a whole series of portraits using just black watercolor. Those paintings generated a lot of interest and sales among my dressage riding friends. 

I now went back to that technique and topic matter. Mainly I want to explore some painterly problems without dealing with the added aspects of the human face, as whether the depicted person is attractive, or whether the expression is appealing. 

For example, I want to test the eyes dominance of eyes by covering one eye with the mane, or how the impression of three-dimensionality is supported or destroyed by the value distribution inherent to the horse's color. I also want to find out how colors translate into black-and-white value systems....will I be able to express the warm glow of a chestnut with just black pigment? 
So there may be more of these portraits as I go along and I'll add them to this blog. 

 I just framed the first pair so I can present them at my next show at the Mountain View Country Club in SaddleBrook, AZ, on February 8 and 9. The two 7x11 in watercolors are mounted as a diptych. They are floated in a shadowbox mat and a wood frame with integrated canvas liner. To see more of my equestrian paintings go to this link

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

First new paintings of 2014

In early January I finished a watercolor of the Old Pima County Courthouse in Tucson. The court is moving into a new building soon, so one of the judges commissioned this as a memento. Luckily the beautiful old building with its Moorish dome and Spanish style arcades will be preserved. 

At the last show of 2013 I sold more originals than expected, so I tried to paint at least one more half sheet before the Green Valley show in early January