Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Week in Dallas, May 9-16

This past month has been a bit crazy, but I thought I'd share about my trip to Dallas last week for a two-day portrait workshop and the Oil Painters of America 25th anniversary convention and exhibition. Since Dallas is my former home, I jumped at the chance to go back. It was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old friends and painting students; I was pleasantly surprised to make lots of new friends, too.

Steve, Cece and I all piled in the car and drove the 12 hours from Denver to Dallas. We broke it up over two days, of course, and were relieved to discover that Elmo apps on the iPad were the perfect distraction for our car seat-imprisoned toddler. She is such a good kid - she really did great on the road trip and did even better all week as Steve whisked her off to the zoo and other fun adventures. 

My workshop was from May 10-11 and focused on alla prima portraits. The second day was especially fun, as my longtime friend and art muse, Jessica Dahl, posed in a purple wig adorned with flowers. I found that Gamblin's Radiant Violet straight out of the tube worked perfectly for those bright purple highlights in the hair! Great fun was had by all, although probably moreso by me... my students looked a little shell shocked by the end of the workshop, but they always do, because I can't stop myself from overloading them with information. Painting is such a difficult but rewarding thing - I hope I managed to empower my students rather than overwhelm them! :-) 

With the lovely Jessica Dahl and my finished demo of her. I hope to do a larger painting of her soon, featuring this delightful costume.

For those of you who have wanted to study with me but couldn't make it to a workshop, I should give you the heads up: I have two instructional DVDs coming out soon. One will be released later this month ("Portrait of Kia"), and the second will be professionally filmed in Ogden, UT, at the end of July with Bella Muse Productions. I'm thrilled to be working with them and am excited to say that this particular DVD will focus entirely on creating beautiful skin tones. That's what all my students want, so that's what I'm going to teach. Stay tuned!

My awesome workshop group! Thanks for the warm welcome back to Dallas, everyone! Hopefully we'll do this again next year. :-)

After the workshop ended, OPA events commenced! Here is where my week got interesting. On Thursday, OPA attendees had the opportunity to paint together at White Rock Lake for a plein air competition. I didn't compete, but I decided to paint there along with everyone else and enjoy some comradery and fresh air.

However, once I'd had some time to visit with friends and finally get down to the lake to choose a painting spot, I happened to be a bit isolated from everyone else. I set up in front of the local gang of ducks and geese, who are moving models but do tend to stay in one general area (so a fun challenge!). They were quite entertaining as they honked and bellowed at each other and sometimes wrung each other's necks. I was so immersed in my painting that I did not realize I was becoming a victim. One of my artist friends came over to me and expressed concern that my car may have just been broken into; she had heard glass shattering and witnessed a bright red SUV take off fast from the scene. I hurried over to my car, which was only about 100 yards from where I had been sitting. Yes indeed, some local thug smashed in the back window of my car and stole my purse. I had hidden it on the floor under a bunch of stuff, but the thief must have (a) been drawn to my out of state plates and (b) been peering in for a while to see what he could take. It took me a moment to realize what had happened, but there it was - shattered glass everywhere, my purse gone. I had spent seven years in Dallas without an incident, parked at and walked around White Rock Lake with my best friend dozens of times, and now... this. ID, credit cards, lots of miscellaneous items -- gone, but what made me tear up as I came to the realization that it was probably gone forever, was my sketch diary. That little book contains sketches, notes, and painting ideas that go back at least five years.

I spent the better part of that day dealing with glass repair, cancelling credit cards, and filing a police report, but I have been able to see this entire thing in a positive light from the beginning, and I'll tell you why.
- Cecelia was safe with her grandparents. Her car seat wasn't even in the car, so no shattered glass to clean up there.
- My husband was in town and was able to come to my aid immediately (he had a rental car, another blessing that we didn't expect).
- I was surrounded by friends. I am so thankful to my friend Andrea for telling me about the incident and sharing what she saw to the police, who will hopefully catch this guy.
- I didn't have anywhere else I had to be that day.
- The glass company estimated it would take 24 hours to fix the window; they got it done within one hour, during which time Steve and I went and got a beer. :-)
- My expensive DSLR camera was sitting right next to my purse on the floor. The thief did not take it. Also, the thief did not attempt to open the trunk, which contained expensive lighting equipment and many of my paintings.

Since the thief has my ID and my business cards, by now they ought to know who I am. If you (yes you, the person who broke into my car) happen to read this, please know this: I forgive you. What you did was wrong and inexcusable, but I forgive you. Your life is a series of events, defined by choices that you make. I don't know anything about you except that your choices have led to crime. I hope that you choose a different path. I don't care about the purse (as pretty as it was! :-( ) or the money, or the stuff. But if you have any kindness in your heart at all, I hope you'll return my sketchbook to me.

And if I never see that sketchbook again, well... this is a great opportunity to start fresh. Out with the old ideas, opinions, and "rules" that have worked their way into my psyche. My heart and mind are open to whatever inspiration comes my way.

That being said, the rest of the weekend was wonderful.

The OPA National Exhibition opened on Friday night at Southwest Gallery with a packed house. I enjoyed visiting with artists and collectors, and viewing all the wonderful paintings in person.

 My painting "Among the Hydrangeas" in the OPA National Show at Southwest Gallery, hanging below a gorgeous piece by TJ Cunningham (Photo courtesy of Pamela Nichols)

Visiting with my good friend Michael Mentler, who shows his work at Southwest Gallery, and conveniently lives in Addison (where all the events were taking place this weekend)
Erica, one of my best friends in the whole world, parted with her sweet newborn baby for a couple of hours to come see the show! :-)

On Saturday, I had the honor of participating in "Art in Motion," a two-hour portrait demo, alongside Aimee Erickson and Suzie Baker. I greatly admire and look up to both of these artists, and we had a great time painting together. Our model, Dave Malin, was also an absolute joy to paint.

Photo courtesy of the Oil Painters of America FB page

Photo courtesy of the Oil Painters of America FB page

Photo courtesy of the Oil Painters of America FB page

Photo courtesy of Marc R. Hanson

I'll have a better picture of the finished demo on my website soon; meanwhile, here is a close-up show of the painting with a fun color I tried for the first time: Cobalt Teal by Michael Harding. It was very highly pigmented but mixed beautifully with all the other colors, including alizarin crimson for some gorgeous purples in the skin tones. Give it a try! 

So... after a long road trip home, I am back in the studio and excited to get some real time at the easel. I'd better get to work.

But before I go, here are a couple pictures from Cece's birthday. She turned 2 on May 5, and is obsessed with all things Elmo. :-)



  1. Oh, I hadn't realized you were going to be in Dallas for a demo :( Jessica is wonderful model; I've had the opportunity to paint her a couple of times as she is regular model for one of the group paints here.
    Sounds like you had an exhilarating week despite some frustrations....

    1. Sorry to miss you, Michael! Yes, Jessica is great. I wish I could steal her up to Denver. :-)


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