Sunday, December 29, 2013

Another Word For The Year

It’s nearly time to sweep the year 2013 out the door and welcome 2014 with open arms.

2013 Patricia Scarborough San Gabriel Trail Head   The last painting of 2013.
If you’ve stuck with me for the past 4 ½ years, you may recall that I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. Using the first day of the new year, when everything seems bright and shiny, seems to bring on a bad case of over-reaching. I’ll lose 20 pounds! I’ll start that orphanage! I'll find a cure for stoopid!

Resolutions feel so…resolute. There is is dogged determination, obstinacy and self-assuredness. There is fortitude, grit and pluck and motivation, all of which sound like exhortations plastered on the walls of a fitness center.  Which, by the way, is where many resolutions go to die.

I’m a believer in Christine Kane’s Word Of The Year plan. In 2006 she wrote about choosing a single word that you could hold in your heart and use as a guide throughout the year. She called it a Resolution Revolution.

In a nutshell, by choosing a single word as a guide for the next 365 days, you give yourself room to grow rather than a pass/fail box to check off.

Several years ago I chose ‘engage’ as my word of the year. Consider the difference between this word and a resolution:

Resolution - I will spend 6 hours in my studio.

Engage - I will engage in my studio space.

4 hours,27minutes...
Can you feel it? One has me watching the clock, the other is immersion in a space designed for creativity.

I didn’t achieve engagement; there was no little plastic trophy or floppy rosette to set on a shelf.

Best Engagement Achiever?
 The act of engagement came quietly and gently and settled in like a a comfy old sweater. Or like a collection of finished paintings hung beautifully in a gallery.

In the end, engagement in my studio, classes, conversations and painting brought forth nearly 50 paintings in one year. Imagine if I had simply resolved to finish 50 paintings in one year? There's a failure waiting to happen.

27 more to go...can't do it...Mommmmy...
On to 2014. This year I have chosen the word ‘allow’ to guide me. I’ve got some thoughts of how this will unfold, but since this is an organic, heart-felt exercise I’ll try not to start out with preconceived notions. I'll allow it to unfold. See how easy it is?

How about you? Are you going to check off a box? Or are you going to fill your entire year with a fresh kind of motivation?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Holiday Card

Over the years Handsome Husband and I have received piles of Christmas cards jam packed with tales of great deeds, grand vacations, and amazing accomplishments by children and their adults.  Sometimes we even knew who these people were.

It’s the same again this year. Our table is piled with holiday cards which spew glitter as soon as they’re released from their envelopes. Tucked inside each folded card with the pre-printed personal message and pre-printed personal signature is The Letter, the missive that explains in minute detail just how exciting it was to be them this past year.
Well folks, it was pretty darned exciting as well here at Scarborough Studios. While I have not yet discovered the cure for putting my elbow in wet paint, nor have I managed to figure out how to hang a painting in the right spot the first time, I have had my share of success. For example:

I’ve worn out more than a few brushes.

I have used up 2 very large tubes of white, nearly an entire tube of Prussian Blue, and found an old tube of Indian Yellow that I’d forgotten entirely about. At least I think its Indian Yellow. The label seems to have gone somewhere.
I made some great painting buddies.

Handsome Husband and I managed to wedge over 30 paintings into my vehicle without using a shoehorn.

Handsome Husband and I managed to remove those paintings from my vehicle without a shoehorn.
Best of all (cue the glitter shower) ,I have been honored to meet people who start out as collectors and become dear friends.

Happy Holidays to you, too dear reader.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Great Expectations

Spring Adaptation: Commencement
Spring Adaptation: Transition

Spring Adaptation: Equilibrium
 But that's not what this blog post is about.
I've had wonderful opportunities over the last few years to show my work in a variety of venues. After examining my expectations for the last series of exhibits, my take is this:
Some days the right buyer – or two or ten – come along, some days they’re off playing miniature golf.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts to exhibit quality fine art and to put our best selves forward, the right buyer doesn’t show up.

Quiet Evening 6x8 oil  Still Available at Lux Center for the Arts

Sometimes, even though our presentation is haphazard and our socks are mismatched, they do.

Quiet Morning 6x8 oil  Sold!
The results of the last several years of exhibiting have taught me that my expectations have nothing to do with hope or crossed fingers or anybody else’s vibe.  The expectation is on each of us to do the best work we can. To behave as professionally as we can.

It's not about  reading how-to books or waiting to get started just as soon as the kids are grown up or the dishes are done.

 It's about showing up in my creative spaces ready to go and to do the hard grind so that when the time comes, when the right venue calls or the right patron shows up, I'm ready.

It's about believing in my mission. I trust that my work is the best I can do. That trust extends to the belief that someone else, somewhere will make that connection and agree with me. And if I'm ready, that elusive concept of success will happen.
"Specimen" 7x5 oil Waiting for you at Graham Gallery

What do you expect?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanks Again

I am still in a turkey-stuffing-mashed potato stupor, so to save us both some agony, I've decided to re-run a Thanksgiving post from several years ago. Interesting that is as relevant today as it was then. Another case of The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same.
Patricia Scarborough 8x10 oil  Early Morning in October 2013

From 2009...

It seems as though the Pilgrims did not, after all, invent Thanksgiving.

Nor did they have pumpin pie, mashed potatoes, or cranberry sauce.

A truely American 'melting pot' of holidays, our current Thanksgiving is a collection of myths and traditions handed down and mingled with other myths and traditions.

It's original purpose? To take time to honor the humble beginnings of our country and to give sincere and humble thanks for what people had after all was said and done. Needless to say, the table was barely cleared and the dishes put away before the holiday was "improved" upon by well meaning politicians and business owners.

It's been a crazy year for so many people. Crazy good, and crazy bad. Slowing down to honor a holiday dedicated to thanks is probably the best kind of holiday to have. It was 200 years ago, and it's a good idea today as well.

Maybe the Pilgrims didn't mash potatoes, and so what if they probably had fish instead of turkey? However we celebrate, whether by gorging on turkey and football games, or by lighting a candle in a darkened corner, we give thanks.

My grateful list is long, and includes you, dear reader.

What does your list include?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Grateful List 2.0

Anyone who spends time online or reading magazines directed at the female population has noticed this trend. Its a good one, far more useful than owning a pile of Beanie Babies or getting a tattoo or wearing jewelry made from Grandma's silverware.

During the rare times I log into Facebook lately I am met with Gratitude Lists. They start with, "I am thankful for..." and list, gosh, just about any kind of positive, almost positive and barely positive items the author can dig up.

I grabbed an O magazine recently (it had been left on a chair I wanted to occupy) and there it was, a tutorial on how to be grateful. Step One, make a list...

And since it's the week of Thanksgiving (remember Thanksgiving? It's that holiday squeezed between Halloween and Shop Til Your Credit Cards Melt) I'll share my list with you today.

Of course there is the fun stuff, like Handsome Husband, Fine Sons, warm socks and pumpkin pie.
There is another list too. We'll call it Grateful List 2.0

I am grateful for

Rejection  It helped make me stronger. Well, okay, it hurt like H-E-Double-Toothpicks and I can still cry if given half a chance, but it did help me recognize a weakness or two. Or three.

Fear - I felt it and did it anyway. Well okay, not fear, like that dream where you're naked in a hallway at your Junior High School and can't find your locker. More like the kind of fear an entrepreneur feels when their toes have left the edge of that cliff.  Or, more honestly the fear of landing after leaving the edge of that cliff.  My landings may not have been beautiful, but there were no broken bones.

Hard Knocks - Well, okay, it's not like I got hit hard enough to leave a mark, but things didn't always go my way. I got pretty good at picking myself up and starting again.

The Grind - Like a good cup of coffee, you don't get there without some grind. At a certain point, like one of Pavlov's dogs, you begin to salivate just a bit when you hear those cogs engage.

How about you?  Is there something beyond that bowl of cherries that you are grateful for?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tru Fun

Greetings All -

Holy Moley.

As I sit here in mismatched sweats and floppy socks I'm taken back to a moment nearly 7 years ago when Handsome Husband and I pondered my future.
I was, in a word, miserable.

Most likely I sat here in this same chair in the same mismatched sweats. (It takes awhile to get them broken in just the way I like 'em.)  The job I had loved at one time had become a source of frustration. The pipe dream of being a real live artist was becoming less a dream and more of a realization. Time to fish or cut bait as they say.

Fast forward please.

I have just wrapped up a run of exhibits and opportunities that were unthinkable that day way back when.
At each opportunity I have learned something, and not all of it related to the artwork; how to show up, how to prepare, how to grow thicker skin. How to ask, and how to know when to walk away. Being an artist isn't all smiles, there are some moments of sharp elbows and doubt that would shake the foundations of an NFL lineman.


My exhibit at Tru Café in Kearney is one of the fun opportunities. Rick Brown, of the Kearney Daily Hub, wrote a great article here. How cool is that? Yeah, pretty cool. Btw, the exhibit will hang  at Tru the whole month of November. Stop in, have a delicious cuppa or even lunch, and have a look see.

Hang with me and together we'll see where the next 7 years will take me. I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Home Again

It's been a wild year.

I'm wrapping up Two-Thousand and Thirteen with a couple of big events that happen in quick succession.

On Friday, November 1st a collection of my paintings will be hung at Tru Café in Kearney, Ne.  I grew up in that fine community, and met Handsome Husband in the hallowed halls of the University of Nebraska at Kearney where I graduated (eventually) with a degree in Art. It seems fitting that the title of my exhibit will be called "Home Again".
Tru Café is a really cool place dedicated to quality, healthy eating and to providing a place for local artisans to show their work. I'll be there to meet and greet my hometown peeps on Saturday, November 9th from 2:30 to 4:30pm. You're welcome to stop by, too.

I'll hardly have the Tru Café pieces dropped off than it'll be time to set up for the Museum of Nebraska Art's Kaleidoscope of Arts event. This is an awesome affair, like an art in the park, only inside. It's a great time to come visit one of the midwest's premier museums, and also to visit with - and purchase beautiful artwork from - artists and artisans from Nebraska.

I've created some special pieces just for this weekend. Here are just a few examples:

c 2103 Patricia Scarborough  Garden Sampler  6x6 oil on gallery wrap canvas 

c 2103 Patricia Scarborough  Geraniums  8x6 oil

c 2103 Patricia Scarborough  Specimen  8x6 oil

Of course I'll have my usual assortment of beautiful landscape paintings available as well.  If you have someone special on your gift list this holiday season, this would be an excellent opportunity for you to select something truly one-of-a-kind.
I'm looking forward to seeing you in Kearney soon!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Elements Opening

Oh what a night!

Friday evening was the opening reception for "Elements", an exhibit featuring Harold G. Adams and I at Graham Gallery in Hastings, Ne.

I must admit, the artwork looked fantastic on the original brick walls of Graham Gallery. It's a beautiful space to begin with, and the addition of Harry's amazing lathe-turned vessels along with my oils and pastels made a wonderful combination.

Have a look for yourself -

And the people! 
It was a wonderful opportunity to meet new patrons, area artists and friends for an evening of conversation and laughter.  Cinderella couldn't have had a better time.

I am grateful to all of you who took time to stop by to see our work this past week.  Your support and interest means so much.
You've got a few more weeks to see what Harry and I have been  up to. The show is available at Graham Gallery in Hastings, Ne. Monday - Friday 9:30 to 5:30, and Saturdays 9:30 to 3:00, until Thursday, October 31st. 
Then 'poof' it's gone. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hay Bales and Sparrows

Greetings All -

A couple of weeks ago I shared a demo piece that  I had started in Valentine, Ne., while sharing a workshop with the Sand Painter's Art Guild. Go ahead and scroll down to the last post, I'll wait.

It was almost done...almost. Those of you who participate in creative endeavors understand that "finished" is a relative term. Sometimes it takes years to be relieved of the itch to make just one more little teeny tiny change that will transform a piece into a masterpiece. Sometimes that itch never goes away.

 This is where I left the demo after adding bales to fill in, and a flock of sparrows to tie in the right and left side.

 I was close. So close. 

And yet. Something was still not quite right.

It took a few hours of hemming and hawing, staring out the window, checking email, doing a few dishes, painting on and wiping off to achieve this:

Just three little dashes of paint with a teeny tiny brush. So what's the big deal?

Those three little swipes of the brush build a bridge from left to right

and continue the sweep of the road upward toward the tree. 

©2013Patricia Scarborough  12x16 oil
It's small, but significant, like a fine silk that holds a lovely garment together. Now I can declare it finis! 

At least I'm pretty sure.

You're invited to see for yourself. This painting and many others will soon be hanging at Graham Gallery in Hastings, Ne. for an exhibit titled "Elements" with wood turner Harold G. Adams. Soon as in October 2nd through October 31st, just a few days away.

Stop by Friday, October 4th from 5 to 8, I'll be there with Harry and you can tell me for yourself; did those three little marks do it?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Demo Part Two

Greetings Friends -

A few weeks ago I shared a piece that had been part of a workshop demo for the Sandpainter's Art Guild in Valentine, Ne.

When all was said and done - or at the end of the workshop anyway, I had a pretty decent start on a pretty decent painting, at least enough to give the students some sense of how I progress through a project.

I had reached a point where several things needed to happen.  It was time to make serious decisions about certain things; for instance, does my original idea of putting a road in hurt or help?  Second, what to do with all that background space? Third, where's the bathroom?

It's been a few weeks now. I've forgotten some of the original plans for this piece and can look at it with a fresh eye. The first decision is to put that road back in. 

Include a few hay bales up front to fill some of that empty space...add some interest into the foreground with some small birds...
©2013Patricia Scarborough Valentine Demo

 Touch up a few places and voila! 

... or, almost voila.

As I've said before in this blog, seeing a painting in a different context gives clues to solutions you may not have known you needed.  And so it goes with this one.

This demo isn't over yet. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Studio Genetics

I have a genetic quirk handed down from my father, and probably his father's father. This dent to my DNA makes it nearly impossible to buy a product which is actually made for a particular purpose.
In a painter's studio a taboret is a must. It holds paint, brushes - all the miscellaneous stuff you need to focus on your creative endeavor.  However, due to this recessive gene, purchasing such an item proved impossible.
My chemical quirk took me to a consignment store, where I found a perfect substitute and paid a hefty $5 for it. Another $5 for paint and I'm ready to roll. The suitcase was used to carry my pastels  until my collection outgrew it.  Now I keep it around for storage and quick get-aways.
Speaking of pastels, these are boxes I made from foam board. Originally I went against my genetic code and actually purchased a real box made to hold real pastels from an art supply store. The box was named after a noted pastel artist, and I was certain that if I owned a Famous Artist Pastel Box that I too would become a famous pastel artist.

 Evidently the simple hijacking of a name does not imbue quality in a product.  Taking that as proof positive that my genes were fit to survive this challenge I used the soon-to-be returned box as a template and made several trays of my own...

to fit inside this handy dandy plastic box which was purchased at an office supply store.  ( So far my boxes have outlasted the original by nearly a decade. Yay evolution!)

For a quick brush holder I've been known to fold over a piece of corrugated cardboard. Mine fits exactly where I want it to, unlike a real live brush holder which fits where someone else thinks it should fit.

 For larger collections of brushes a potato chip can works wonders as well. Extend it with some sturdy paper and 'presto', you're good to go.

The advantage of making your own brush holder is that you get to determine the size you personally prefer, and the survival of your project is sustained by it's own food source.

My drying rack is a re-purposed wire shelf ... sensible and handy since I wasn't using that shelf anyway...

and equipment blossoms from containers of all sorts and sizes - each one perfect for its contents.

I'm sure that scientists around the world are currently employed by art supply warehouses and are working to fix this genetic glitch.

Even as I type this, petri dishes in laboratories from east to west may be full of genes growing to circumvent this chromosomal crisis.

I've got an idea for them...