036 / Pandemic Artwork Stories


036 / pandemic artwork stories


Where are you painting from and what have you been doing to keep busy?

I work in my home studio, but also paint en plein air a fair bit. Locally, Granite Mountain and the McDowells are within easy reach, and I have great views of four peaks and Mustang Mountain from my backyard in the Rio Verde Foothills. Since we also have a timeshare in Sedona, I try to get up there as much as possible. This year I was in plein air events in Prescott and in Sedona, which was (a) lots of fun (both) and (b) cold (Sedona)! 

This year I have really been keeping busy by embodying the "Lifetime Learner" philosophy. I belong to several useful Facebook groups, have been studying online with some painters whose work I admire, am currently reading several art books I had put off for some time (I recommend "Traditional Painting" by Virgil Elliott), participated in at least one 30-day challenge (or was it 2?), I was accepted by several shows (besides the plein air shows mentioned above), which kept me busy painting. I ran a small, socially isolated workshop, and did a Zoom demo for local art guilds, and am prepping for 3 more similar events in January. I also promised myself to dive into marketing more, and with the help of my clever friend Kirby Plessas (who runs the Facebook group "Curious Kirby Creatives", which is not only super informative but great fun) have been learning a lot about the proper way to do so. Somehow keeping busy hasn't been an issue...

How did you find inspiration from your surroundings for it?

As a mere child (in my 20s, that is) ;) I flew hang gliders and have been watching the skies ever since. Arizona has some of the most spectacular sunsets going - we have so much dust in the air which is perhaps not great for inhaling, but sure makes for some outstanding color. I am fortunate to live on a dirt road in an area that is (for now at least) still sparsely populated and has fabulous views in just about every direction, though who knows how long that will last. The sunset skies here are astonishing; during monsoon seasons especially you can usually find me walking around with either my pochade or a camera trying to capture the moment...though this year's monsoon was kind of a bust. 

What is one positive that has come from this experience for you?

I find focus is important, and allowing yourself time for a particular thing can be challenging. We are pulled in so many different directions. For me it's a compromise between the work itself, marketing the work (so I can keep *doing* the work), teaching, and learning. Marketing in particular is a challenge - it's a moving train and you don't want to be left at the station. But you don't want to sacrifice the movement and growth in your practice for that, and thereby end up turning into one of those painters that churns out gazillions of paintings that are virtually interchangeable. At least, I do not. In that regard having extra time and fewer distractions has been a blessing, and also helped me to cope with things like hip replacement and other health issues that might otherwise have been overwhelming.

What is one of your favorite pieces in the collection from a fellow artist?

So many nice things here. I always enjoy Kathleen Dunphy's work...And lately I seem to be loving the drama of a nicely composed still life, so Trish Coonrod’s “Heirloom Tomatoes” really caught my eye. As did Jeffrey Hayes’ “Silver Pitcher, Red Wine, Shell” (that red ribbon!)...but I also love the painterly quality of this little gem “Arizona Produce” by Ann Larsen.

In general, I am deeply in love with a little gem I obtained from Charles Thomas at last year's Tubac show. It's tiny - just 5x10 - but SO expressive, with mad brushwork and gorgeous color. And it's a cloud painting, which doesn't hurt! Charles is also a great guy as well as being a fine painter. He's teaching in Tubac these days, I believe, and would be a great subject for you!

And, though this isn't one of the questions, I'll happily (and perhaps egregiously) share some of my other, favorite living artists, in no particular order:
Bill Cramer (Museum worthy)
Dave Santillanes (ditto)
Gretchen Lopez (wildly underpriced! Collect her NOW!)
Stan Kurth (Abstract genius)
Casey Klahn (a MADMAN with color, I adore his work, a true Impressionist)
Charles Thomas (as mentioned above)
Lili Laurin (a traditional, almost tonalist painter, and a very dear friend
Ken Rowe (His Sedona Gallery is not to be missed, and his sculptures are gorgeous)

Learn more about Casey's artwork and story