Trading cards as a quick fix

I can't always find time (or make time) to paint something big.  Often, a "painting snack" will have to do. 

I bought a bundle of Artist Trading Cards (ATCs -- tiny 2.5" x 3.5" canvases) months ago to trade with friends -- and looking at the unopened packages filled me with guilt.

ATC1 copy 

So I ripped one open and decided to make a mini-painting for myself, as a light snack. For a summery theme, I based it on a photo of my son jumping off a swim platform.  For simplicity, I only used 3 paint colors: white, paynes gray and burnt umber.

I'm not trading this card, but keeping it, to remind myself that making art doesn't have to wait for a groundbreaking idea, or a huge chunk of time to execute it.

The "Drive-Thru" Painting

Not as fattening as it sounds.   I prefer taking back roads on my morning commute and get seduced by the scenery.  Of course, there's rarely time to pull over and take careful, composed source photographs.  So I've resorted to blindly holding up my camera (or phone) and taking blurry shots out the window and sorting them out later. 

Drivethru landscape 

I like the way that they capture the transience of the landscape.  

I feel like I'm transferring their energy to the canvas when I paint them!


Fresh from the Farmers Market


For an understanding of where food comes from, for great conversations, for the freshest produce, you can't beat a farmer's market.  For painters, there's yet another reason -- beautiful, irregularly shaped produce that you can't find in a store. This bunch of multicolor radishes caught my eye. Watercolor was the only handy option - I had to sketch and paint them fast before they went into a salad.  

My only hesitation in "buying the whole farm" at a market are the dollar bills in my pocket (they don't take plastic), my small family, and the fact that I can't paint everything before I eat it.  Just as well.  I'll be back next week.

Question: How do you build a coliseum (in five minutes or less...)?

Answer:  ask a 6th grader...Coliseum 
My son's Destination Imagination team was challenged to create a coliseum from start to finish in less than five minutes, in front of a live audience.  Restrictions:  life-size, no oil-based paint, no wet paint or glue, no loose glitter, no staining materials, budget of under $10.

The team raided my art supplies and came up with the following "trials" using solid paintsticks and damp rags.  Each piece was executed in under three minutes.  Great example of boxed-in restrictions driving out of the box thinking!

An elementary perspective

Today I helped hang an art show for the local elementary school.  I contributed a step ladder, pliers and an artistic eye -- and got back a great deal more in return.  

An interpretation of Van Gogh from a 2nd grader?  A Kandinsky clone from a Kindergartener?  A mess of colors that would go with both nothing and everything?  Absolutely fearless stuff -- and a reminder that I should take a look at kids art more often.

Elem art show

Sketching from a moving vehicle

India sketchbook2 
I took my sketchbook on a recent tour of south India.  With a jam-packed itinerary, I didn't get to paint anything serious, just sketch scenery from the window of a bus or train.  I was forced to take it all in and put it down on paper as fast as I could.   It was disappointing not to create a "masterpiece" with all the vibrant colors I saw, but the process of rapid-fire sketching was a reward in itself.