Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Artist's Dilema or How to Quit While You Are Ahead

Every artist I know has had this happen to them. You feel your painting may be finished, but you're just not sure. Perhaps if I added a little more here, and a little more there, it will be perfect. Or maybe we should lift off this area (with watercolor we do this a lot.) Before you know it we have ruined the painting. I had this experience very recently in fact. I had finished (or was it?) a watercolor painting and had it sitting out in my studio. Several family members and visitors commented on how beautiful it was. It did look nice, I'll have to admit. But I thought it should be better. So what did I do? I started working on it again, fussing over this part and then that part. Before I knew it I was left with a painting that was ruined. It was not the spontaneous, lively painting it was before.

So how do we avoid this? Here are some tips that help me and I need to REMEMBER them!
1. Continuously step back and look at your painting from a distance. It is easier to see any mistakes this way. Also you will see what you need to do to correct it (hopefully!).

2. Join an artists critique group. I know this can be frustrating sometimes because you get so many tips and advice it's confusing to know what to do. But remember, YOU are the artist so you can decide what advice you want to follow and what changes you want to try. The benefit of doing this is there will be many more pairs of eyes looking at your painting and they are also seeing it for the first time. Sometimes we get too close to our own work and become very myopic and obsess about every little thing we think is wrong.

3. STOP before you think your painting is finished. Put your painting away out of sight for a week or two. When you look at it after this time has passed you will see it as if you were looking at it for the first time. Any mistakes or errors will show up right away.
Or you may find it is perfect just the way it is.

I'm sure there are many other tips other artists have used to avoid this all too common dilemma. Feel free to post your suggestions here in the comments.

Happy Painting!

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Journey

"It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end."

                                                                                        Ursala K. Le Guin

The struggle of being an artist. I'm not sure if non-artists understand this or not, but it is not easy to be an artist today (and maybe it  never has been easy!). I love the time I spend painting, sketching, and thinking about new paintings. I'm not so crazy about the business side of things like marketing, framing, bookkeeping, etc. But it has to be done and I'm the one who gets to do it.
I have a blog about my art. Who reads it? Mostly other artists. My website? I find that most of the visitors are other artists. Not that there is anything wrong with this, of course. I too, am curious about other artists websites and many of their blogs have great, inspiring ideas.
But how do we get our artwork out to the non-artists of the world? If we are trying to make a living from our art we need people to see it! Most of the artists I talk to these days say their sales are few and far between. It is not always easy to show up in your studio every day when sales are slow. Will this stop me from creating art? No, probably not. Creating art is what I do and it feeds my soul.

Recently I was talking with a young woman I used to work with before I left my 9 to 5 job. She told me how her past few months had been filled with new creative past times. She took a belly dancing workshop, art classes and attended poetry readings for the first time. I was impressed that she realized at such a young age that we all are artists and we need to do something for ourselves beyond our 9-5 jobs. Something that involves using the other side of our brain. Something creative. Experimenting with other media, using words as images in a painting, writing poetry or stories, making music, cooking, and other creative hobbies all add to our well-being for both artist and non-artist alike.

I enjoy inspiring others to try watercolor painting and all of its quirkiness, moodiness, glorious accidents and wonderful transparent glowing. There is no other media like it. It is wonderfully freeing and wildly spontaneous. I am not trying to be a famous painter. I am just paying more attention to Life, to my environment, the sights and sounds around me and painting what I feel. This is the journey we are all on, the journey of life. Enjoy your journey!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

I just attended a painting workshop with artist Harold Walkup. The first thing he told us was what you can do to grow as an artist. I think this is something very important to remember. No matter how long we have been painting there is always room to grow and new things to learn. I just wanted to share his suggestions as I think we can all benefit from them. Here is what he recommends to keep growing and getting better:
1. Sketch. Keep a small sketchbook handy and do small sketches whenever you can. It's also a great way to plan out your paintings before you begin to paint. Drawing a small thumbnail sketch can help you with design and values before putting any paint on the paper.
2. Do "warm ups" each day. These are small postcard size paintings. You start by laying in shapes of paint, keeping some areas white. Use warm and cool colors and vary your shapes. He was able to come up with beautiful small paintings using this technique. It does help you warm up and get over the fear of the white paper.
3. Take workshops. It had been awhile since I had taken a workshop and I really felt I learned a lot from this experience. Every artist does things a little differently and it is wonderful when they are willing to share these techniques. I came away with new ways of painting and plan to incorporate some of these into my painting style to help improve my art. Watching videos and reading books on art help also.
4. Go to art exhibits and look at other paintings. See which paintings you like and ask yourself "why do I like this painting". This will help you to see what draws you to certain paintings. Then you can incorporate these into your own paintings.

My plan now is to practice what I have learned and then develop some new paintings using these new techniques. It also reiterates what I have learned before and inspires me to keep painting.

Happy painting!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Helpful Ideas for the Beginner Art Collector

Afterglow, original watercolor by Sandra Yorke

Art collecting should be done for the love of art and not for financial success. Some people are confused about collecting art and wonder if an artists work will increase in value over the years. Maybe it will and maybe it won't. The main thing is does the work of art call to you? Will you enjoy the art, will it inspire you? As an artist I have experienced this very thing at art shows and art fairs. Someone will tell me a certain painting caught their eye and they had to buy it because it was calling to them. This is a great compliment for any artist!
If you are new to the art world and are not sure what type of art you like, visit as many galleries, art studios, and museums as you can. You can also do your research online.
You may prefer contemporary art or you may find you prefer art from another time period or culture. Taking your time doing research will give you a better idea of the type of art you prefer.
 If you are interested in contemporary art find an artist (or artists) whose work speaks to you. Visit art shows, art schools, local galleries and art exhibits, and attend open studios and art walks and see whats out there.
If you are more interested in period collections, visit antique stores or look through dealer catalogues or online.
Once you have a few pieces in your collection a lifelong obsession will  probably have developed and a keen eye will help you find the art you desire. Most importantly, you will have a collection of "one of a kind" art  you can enjoy for many, many years! Happy collecting!

Saturday, July 25, 2015


I had my surgery on June 25th and have been at home recovering ever since. This is my first major surgery and I have to say the recovery process is an interesting one. Aside from the obvious physical sensations and limitations (which I won't go into here) there are some mental aspects also involved in healing. For the most part I feel very, very relaxed (and this is without the drugs now). It's not hard to feel this way when your recovery surroundings are acres of woods and fields on a beautiful summer day. I received a hammock as a birthday gift from my husband and I cannot begin to tell you how relaxed I felt lying there on a summer afternoon gazing up at the white, amorphous shapes of clouds moving above. I closed my eyes and listened to the many different birds- robins, the western wood pee wee, swainson's thrush and crows to name a few. Each one with their own unique and beautiful sound. Now that I have the luxury of time I can sit back and actually enjoy my surroundings more.
 One learns patience as one heals. You can't really rush healing- it happens in its own time. The joy is in sitting back and letting this happen. It almost reminds me of being a kid again and being off for the summer (except that I can't go in the pool-Dr.'s orders!).
All to soon it will be time to go back to work again. But the good news is I will be retiring from my day job in a few months and will be able to work on my art full time so I will focus on the positive and stay true to my dream.
 May you all do the same, whatever your dream is!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Painting Powerful Experiences (Blood Moon 2014)

Have you ever had something happen to you that you couldn't explain? Maybe you were afraid to talk about it because people might think you're crazy? (heaven frobid!) Well I had a very wonderous thing happen to me awhile back and I decided I would do a painting of this event.
I have always liked to go out and look at the stars or the moon at night. I would sometimes stay up late to catch a meteor shower with my kids when  they were little. So when I heard about the Blood Moon coming on October 8, 2014 I was intrigued since I had never witnessed one before. The Blood Moon is a special lunar eclipse which turns the moon a beautiful orange-red color. I won't go into  the scientific explanation for that here but you can find out all the details if you like. 
The peak of the eclipse was supposed to happen at 3 am that day. The night before I just said to myself that I was too tired and decided to skip the event, telling myself I can look up pictures on the internet tomorrow. So I went to sleep and didn't give it much thought.
 I woke up the next morning at exactly 3am! Well I just had to go outside to see if I could see anything. I stepped outside and was immediately struck by the absolute silence there.
No dogs barking in the distance, no owls hooting, or frogs singing. It was absolutely still. Up above the tall trees I could see the moon glowing a beautiful red orange. I was in awe of the beauty of this amazing event and stood for a long time staring at it. As I turned to go back inside my eye caught the shape of a person standing at the edge of the woods. She looked like a young Native American woman and the vision of her slowly faded away. Was this a wrinkle in time? Who knows but the whole experience was amazing!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Today I was working with a group of artists on a project and we started talking about what inspires us to create art. There were many different answers. For some it was about light and shadow, for others the impact of colors. Other artists mentioned how certain shapes caght their eye and inspired a painting. Sometimes a painting may start out a certain way and end up totally different than what the artist had planned when starting out. Some paintings are totally spontaneous and their is no plan! Sometimes they turn out very good. Sometimes they don't. There really isn't a right or wrong answer here. It is an interesting question and one you might want to ask your fellow artists. To find out what inspires artists in Clark County, I invite you to go visit some in their studios during the Open Studios Tour on Nov. 8th and 9th from 10am-5pm. Visit  for more information and inspiration!