Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Concerts - Part III - Pink Martini

Whew!  It's been a hectic week, so I'd better get this in tonight, since we head for Portland tomorrow for Pink Martini's New Year's Eve Concert at Schnitzer Auditorium.  The link in the title will take you to the home page for the Official Pink Martini website, where you can listen to some music, watch some videos, find out about their upcoming concert schedule and more.  If you've never heard them play, or for that matter heard of them, you owe it to yourself to get to a concert or at least get your hands on a CD.  They are yet another fabulous Portland area band, and a great way to close out our Holiday Concert Series.  Now I need a rest!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Season's Greetings

Don't know if I'll get around to a post tomorrow, or over the weekend for that matter, so I thought I'd wish everyone a Merry Christmas today.  Click on the title to (hopefully) open a link to a Jacquie Lawson ecard, which was sent to me by some friends, and that I wanted to share.  The photo here of Santa coming in for a crash landing is actually a life-size doll at the Kris Kringle Store in Leavenworth, from our trip there two weeks ago.  He is suspended from the ceiling, and is quite impressive.  His eyes seem to follow you as you make your way through the shop, so he's defiinitely keeping tabs on you to see where you end up on his list.
I recently entered two of my Pen & Ink portraits into an online art contest sponsored by  The two portraits I entered were "Charles Bronson" and "Game Face", which I use as my logo photo on the Art from the Inkwell Fan Page.  Results came in today, and "Game Face" was among the top 15 vote getters in the contest.  Not sure how "Charles Bronson" fared, though I can say that on my FineArtAmerica Gallery, "Charles Bronson" is far and away the most viewed portrait on that site, although "Loggerhead Key Lighthouse" has been coming on strong lately.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last minute gifts?

Well, here I am, a day late and a dollar short as usual!  In addition to my website, FineArtAmerica Gallery, and CafePress Storefront, I now have an aStore as part of the Amazon Associates program - just in time for the last three days of Christmas shopping!  It pays to check into your various accounts once in awhile.  Here, I've had an Amazon account and been part of the Amazon Seller Central program for about a year now and wasn't aware of this other option until I went shopping at the Kindle Store last week and noticed the section on the page regarding opening an aStore as part of the Amazon Associates program.  So anyway, I've been working on this for a few days, starting out with some basics and adding a few different categories to get started, and voila! Here we go.  For starters, I'm listing categories like Apparel and Accessories, Books, Music, Cameras & Photo, Computers, DVD, Sports & Outdoors, Video Games and of course Kindle Store.  Eventually, I hope to have the entire gamut of Amazon products available as I continue to add more categories.  So, all of you online Amazon shoppers out there - please bookmark my storefront for easy access.  Of course, I'll provide quick links on my website, newsletters and this blog as well. 

As a follow-up to last week's post about our trip to Leavenworth, WA - a great time was had by all!  We checked into the Pension Anna, on Friday.  Pictured here is the old Chapel, which was converted into lodging at the Inn, and is where we stayed.  Spacious rooms downstairs, with a loft and two single beds on second level.  Saturday morning brought the snow - started about 9:30, and continued all day long - to the tune of about 16 inches of snow!  Made for a great sleigh ride/dinner that evening, although getting back into town afterwards was a little tricky.  Last weekend was the Christmas Lighting Ceremony.  The whole town is lit up and looks like a picture postcard; the streets are blocked off for pedestrian traffic, and there are all kinds of events that take place throughout the day.  All in all, one of my favorite places!  The only bad part of the weekend was that we didn't get to see our friends A.J. & Terrie.  Due to all of the snow on Saturday, he had to spend the day Sunday plowing out his driveway and road to their B&B - Sky Meadows Retreat, so their guests would be able to get out. We'll catch up with them next time around.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Misty River Christmas Concert

Misty River Band

As much as I complain about the rain in Oregon during the winter months, this is a great time of year to be in the Pacific Northwest, if for no other reason than the Holiday Concerts.  A couple of weeks ago I did a couple of blogs about one of our favorite Portland area bands - The Trail Band, and their terrific concert.  Well, last night we attended the Christmas Concert of another of our favorite Portland area bands - Misty River, so I guess this was the HOLIDAY CONCERT SERIES - PART II.  Another great night of music!  The link in the title will take you to their website, where you can check out their schedule if you live in this area, read about their 13 years together, and even download some of their music.  Again, I think we have every CD they've come out with so far.  MISTY RIVER blends folk, bluegrass, country, Celtic and original music into a seamless and highly distinctive Americana sound that has entranced thousands of fans.  In two weeks, we'll have the HOLIDAY CONCERT SERIES - PART III - New Year's Eve with PINK MARTINI!  Yet another fantastic Portland area band.  I'll keep you posted on that one.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Oldie but Goodie - Part II"

Finally getting around to posting that second "Oldie but Goodie" that I mentioned last week.  This one is titled "Homesteader", and like the "Golden Eagle" image that I posted last week, is one of my early Graphite, or Pencil portraits.  As with "Golden Eagle", I recently had cause to remove the original from its' frame, and took the opportunity to scan it into the computer.  Again, I used PhotoShop to clean up the background noise, and am very happy with the results.  The original photograph was taken by a friend of mine, Jon Carissimi, and while the subject was a farmer in Florida, I thought that he fit in perfectly with my Western portraits, and so he found a home in my Faces West Gallery.  The link in the title will take you to my FineArtAmerica Gallery, where you'll find "Homesteader" along with all of the images I've posted there so far.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

You'll Love it in Leavenworth!

Heading out to Leavenworth (no, not that Leavenworth) for the weekend.  This is a photo of Leavenworth, WA from a snowy day last January.  We were visiting some friends, getting in a little snow-shoeing, a sleigh ride some great meals and some wine tasting.  This weekend starts the Christmas Lighting of the town, and we wanted a return visit.  Leavenworth is a quaint little Bavarian town about 20 miles west of Wenatchee, and is one of our favorite spots to visit.  We are actually hoping to relocate there one of these days, but that is another story. The link in the title will take you to one of the Leavenworth websites, and you can get an idea of what the town looks like all lit up with Christmas lights.  Quite breathtaking!  Every building in the town must follow the Bavarian village theme, and it is quite a festive little town.  There's always something going on.  There a couple of ski areas nearby, so it is a winter destination.  In the spring and summer, the town square is home to a summer-long art festival (which is why I want to find my way there one of these days).  Lots of friendly folks, and the neighboring towns of Cashmere and Peshastin are quite nice as well, and nearby Wenatchee is large enough to have some of the anemities of a large city, yet small enough to retain that small city feeling.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Golden Eagle

Today's post could be sub-titled "an oldie but a goodie".  But before I get into that I just want to do a follow-up to a post last week regarding The Trail Band concert that we attended on Friday, Dec. 3rd.  This group never ceases to amaze me.  Not only does every member of The Trail Band play about a zillion different instruments, everything from a piccolo to a contra-base, with assorted stringed instruments and hammer dulcimers, horns, woodwinds, you name it, but they manage each year to mix it up and put on a show that is without parallel.  After 17 years, they definitely have found the formula for success.

Now back to today's post.  This pencil portrait, "Golden Eagle" was one of my early pieces and was actually used as my logo in an earlier incarnation of my artistic endeavors.  Back then, my company was called Faces West, and I focused primarily on Western, Native American and Wildlife portraits.  Of course, this was waaay before scanners and other technological advances that we take for granted today. Anyway, "Golden Eagle" has been framed and part of my collection for the past 25 years, give or take a few.  I recently had to re-frame the portrait, and thought - "hey, why not scan him now that he's out of the frame?"  So that's what I did.  With a little help from PhotoShop to clean up some of the background "noise" from the scan, the image looks as good now as it did back then.  So I uploaded the image to my website and also to my gallery on FineArtAmerica, and wouldn't you know it, two days later, I was informed that a print was purchased from the FineArtAmerica Gallery.  So while I was running a lucky streak of one sold print, I figured I should add another "oldie but goodie".  I'll post that image next time.  By the way, I liked the association of the name Faces West so much that I use it as one of my galleries in Art from the Inkwell.  Guess what type of portraits you'll find there.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Soulful in Ink

Today's featured portrait, titled "Soulful in Ink", is actually a second version, or rendering, of the same subject, titled ironically enough "Soulful".  The first version was completed in Scratchboard, and was a return to that medium for me after a few years away.  The link in the title will take you to my Profile page on FineArtAmerica, where you can see both versions, as well as all the other artwork posted there.  Although Scratchboard and Ink are similar looking in the end result, getting there is quite another story.  In some regards, I liken Scratchboard to Sculpture or Carving, where you start out with a clump of clay or a block of wood, and try to imagine what the negative space of the final product is, and then peel it away a little bit at a time.  Although you're working on a 2-dimensional sheet of scratchboard paper or board, the thought process is similar.  You have to think about the ink that shouldn't be there and scrape it away, and hope that the end result will be at least somewhat 3-dimensional. 

In this case, I had a couple of small scratchboards, measuring 5"x7", lying around that I wanted to experiment with.  The first attempt was my piece titled "Barn Owl", which can also be seen at the FineArtAmerica Gallery.  Then, as I was working on "Soulful",  I thought that this particular piece would make a good ink rendering as well.  However, I didn't want to limit myself to the constraints of working on such a small piece, so I upped the measurements to 8"x10" for the ink version.  What a difference those 3 inches made.  That and the fact that I was back in my comfort-zone of working with laying down the ink, rather than scraping it away.  I felt that I was able to get a little more depth into the end result by adding layers as I needed them.

It should be pointed out that working in Scratchboard is not always a question of taking out the negative space from the image you are working with.  You also have the option of starting out with a sheet of paper or a board that has been treated with the white, chalky clay, but has not been coated with ink.  This is great when you are going to have large areas of white in the rendering.  Scraping away the ink coating would not only be tedious, but the end result often will not look very uniform.  Instead, you add the ink to the areas that need it, and leave the rest uncovered.  In this case, you will then actually add the ink as you would in an ink rendering, a stroke at a time.  The desired result here is that the transition between the ink work and the scratchboard work flows seamlessly, and you can't tell where one or the other technique begins or ends.

Just a reminder here:  anyone interested in purchasing Giclee prints or fully-customizable note cards through my FineArtAmerica Gallery can take advantage of 20% Savings through 2/26/2011 by using the following Discount Code:  GDPDBZ

Friday, December 03, 2010

A Trail Band Christmas

Time for our annual excursion to the Trail Band Christmas Concert in Salem, OR.  The Trail Band is an 8-piece all-star group of musicians from Oregon that present musical theatre performances dramatizing the history and music of the West.  Featured in the group are Marv and Rindy Ross, of Quarterflash fame ("Harden my Heart"), and the Christmas Concert always features guest performer Linda Hornbuckle as well. Click on the link in the title to go to their website to meet the Trail Band, check out their performance calendar and listen to some of their music. They are an amazing group of talented musicians and put on quite a show each year.  They are very reminiscent of a group I used to perform with, The Colorado History Theater, and our production of  "Legend & Legacy".  Where "Legend & Legacy" told of the history of Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas through vignettes, character studies and music, The Trail Band is mostly music with some humorous anecdotes.  Their Christmas CD's are great, as are the CD's that focus on the early settlers.  I think we must have just about every CD they've come out with so far.  If you live in this area of the Pacific Northwest, you should definitely try to see one of their performances, and if not, I highly recommend starting your own CD collection.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Liberty's Journey

Wow, two days in a row! I'm on a roll! No artwork today.  Earlier this week, some friends lost a very special member of their family to bone cancer - they're own Lady Liberty, or Libby for short.  In their email informing us of the news, they included this link to a website that had been set up for Libby 9 years ago. Click on the title to read all about her story.  It is truly remarkable, at turns heart-breaking and heart-warming, and amazing how this little Rottweiler pup brought so many people together along her journey. It particularly hit home with us because we said goodbye to two of the companions pictured with me in the profile photo this past summer, Henri and Sheba. They were each about 14 1/2 years old, brought us endless hours of joy, and are sorely missed.  We've added another companion to keep Boots company, Cooper, but that's another story.  Actually, they all have their own stories, and maybe someday, I'll post them here as well.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

New FineArtAmerica Gallery

 Okay.  Here I go again.  Now that I'm getting more into the whole Facebook, Twitter thing, I thought I'd check back at the blog again, and wow, I see that I haven't been here in over a year.  Time flies when you're having fun (or not) - it just flies!  Anyway, lots of new goings on, so I may as well get started.  Today's post refers to my listing at FineArtAmerica, which basically acts as a second website for me.  I've been posting work there for a few months now, and it really is a great site.  There are thousands of artists listed there with lots of great work.  Giclee Prints are available in a variety of sizes, on canvas or paper.  If you like, they'll even provide matting and framing services for you, or canvas stretching if necessary.  Also available are fully customizable note cards on high quality paper.  You can order the note cards singly, or in packs of 10 or 25.  Pictured here is one of my more recent posts to the Gallery, "Homesteader".  Take advantage of 20% savings on all of my artwork on FineArtAmerica by simply using the following Discount Code:  GDPDBZ   Offer valid thru 2/26/2011

Since it's been awhile since I've been adding to the blog, over the next few days, I'll be working on updating info and links, as well as posting new artwork, and getting used to all of the new features here.  One of the features I really like are the new templates.  The one I'm using here is so apropos to winters in Oregon!  Looks like the view out my window every day.