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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

by Diane: Collaborative husband / wife flower garden

My husband and I love our flower garden especially this year when Don is  not feeling like fishing. Hopefully he will recover in time to go for limited fishing the middle of August. He is getting his gall bladder out this Friday. He will be restricted to lifting no more than 10 pounds for 6 weeks. The surgeon says he can go fishing but I have to reel the fish into the boat and carry it. Not my thing. Rather be painting. Luckily, Don has a good many fishing partners and his 18 year old grandson to accompany him.
Gardening is more fun when we do it together usually. When one of us is first to see another flower opening it is special news between us. I love how the flowers have evolved the past 34 years that we lived here. Mostly they are volunteers surprising me where they pop up like the sunflowers, California poppies, glads, lobeilia and many more. If the previous owner visited, they would see many of the same plants they had. The dahlias and lilies we collected over the years. We are making plans for adding chrysanthemums this Fall. And wondering how to make it better for hotter drier conditions in the future.

My vision of an inspiring garden is a jungle like in Henri Rousseau's 1910 painting, " The Dream".    Don is not comfortable with any weeds. Even plants that have some weed-like character like California poppy and cosmos after their prime. Lilies still look great after they are done. He prefers seeing dirt  paths  between the plants where he can rototill. The robins and blue birds like his dirt.

Don likes clean color areas with strict borders without any plants falling over the border. His aesthetic is more like a Mondrian.

Is it possible to bring these two aesthetics together?
My good man allows me to be the boss of most of the decision making. He pulls out the rototiller and I run to guide his way. At the end of the day the resulting arrangement flowers in front of our house is the best we have ever had.

Last year with a carpet of weeds.
My husband's clean vision for our front yard that is completely clean of weeds still has enough variety of forms and color to be a catalysis for paintings I hope to paint next week. My hope is making a painting like  Rouseau's "The Dream".

Saturday, July 27, 2019


by Rain Trueax 

Sometimes I wake up in the morning with a word. When catalyst flashed into my mind, I knew exactly why. I also knew what it meant. Here are two dictionary definitions.
1.  a substance that enables a chemical reaction to proceed at a usually faster rate or under different conditions (as at a lower temperature) than otherwise possible
2. a person or thing that precipitates an event.
In life, there are catalysts that sometimes we don't recognize and sometimes we do.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

by Diane, Painting my reality without camera references

Traditionally painters make plans like taking photos of their subject and making drawings of their composition before starting to transfer their final drawing onto the canvas. Then when all is perfectly planned, they paint.
          Rejecting tradition, I want the painting to be my first impulsive fresh statement capturing the vigor of my child- like enthusiasm. I try to summon my courage and go right for drawing in oil paints on my canvas. Of course my rejection of a safer path can result in more failures. Critics used to photographic reality will say my fox doesn't look like a fox. Most often I am the critical one meaning  correcting errors. For example, the dark background on the fox's right front leg is a distraction counter to the fluidity of the fox's movement. So I added more dark under the fox and transitional grays.
Convex belly,
left horizon line confused
right front leg
        During the past month of oil painting  fox in our backyard, I accept my depiction of anatomical inaccuracy trading it for lively exaggerations of gesture and color.  As I watch the fox, I am becoming more familiar and want to see if I can remember well enough to better capture an abstracted form on my canvas. I was not satisfied with my first paintings after continuing to study the foxes' flowing movements.  Before painting more oils, I drew in grays with sumi ink and washes of white acrylic ink.

The dark below the belly defined the belly as being concave
 because in order for the fox to have maximum spring
 the pelvis tilts down pulling the belly in before the apex of the jump as the back legs push
and the chest expands with air 

Other parts of my life come into play on how I am observing the fox. I have been learning Tai Chi Qi Gong for two months. So my co-ordination and memory of strange, slow, sneaky movements are foreign to my Western stiff tight neck and knees. I imagine myself as smooth and as a fox. but of course I am not.  I am becoming more aware of my breath and how I am distributing my weight and what it does to my bones as I move. So when I am drawing the fox, I can imagine the fox's body as if it were my body giving me a reality different than the camera's.  The fox has to move with the same principles as the practice of martial art. Interesting to make comparisons and record with a little distortion where the weight and breath is in the fox.
        Time to paint more memories of the fox, last seen on Monday. I sure hope one of the four foxes we watched, survives the predators.

        Not taking pictures with my phone, also, allows me to accept childlike distortion and simplification making the spirit of the gesture dominant.
I do not know if 6,000 years ago
when Qi Gong was first practiced
if the first masters
took inspiration from the movement of foxes.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Starting Over-- series

by Rain Trueax

Many times, I've mentioned how it's not about simply putting a book out but about launching it-- if someone cares about selling that book. The first part is easy-- follow the dots. The second not so much. It has to be in the right genre, have helpful tags, places to let readers see it, ads, but there is another thing that makes a difference-- having it part of a series.

What a series does is when a reader likes a set of characters, a place, a theme, they often will follow it up. I got one criticism early on that i hadn't made it clear that the book they bought was second in the series. Readers like to read books, especially with connecting characters, in order. When you do an ad, a series makes a reader more likely to also buy the next and the next. I've seen it play out time and again. You pay to advertise one book but reap the benefit for the rest. 

Series can based on a place, characters, or theme. You have seen how that worked with wildly successful books, like the Harry Potter books, Game of Thrones, etc., but it's a plus even for those that are not.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

by Diane: Studies of a young fox

Summi ink and acrylic white ink on watercolor paper.
Thank you Rain for critic of my oil painting of foxes.
My snouts were too long on this quick
drawing and I reworked them.

Summi ink and acrylics on watercolor paper.
Missing the foxes and it shows up in my painting.
The remains of one was found in the draw by the vultures today.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

by Diane: Fox sightings while painting continues

 Over half the month has passed and  foxes are still more cautious ever since the Fourth of July fireworks. So I have been looking at them far in the distance through field glasses. 
The series of 10" x 8" oil paintings of foxes will be abstracted from what fox look like to me. As I paint them from memory, I remained open to new ideas coming from the painting as if the painting is carrying on a conversation with me.
Monday, revisions began with yesterday's decision
 to make the back fox blue.
Then as soon as the fox was painted blue,
the flood gate was opened to paint all over.
The creative flow breaking through after a spell of tight thinking
 is the reward I love so much about painting.
Quickly the chemical green background was covered
with tints of a green grayed down.
The painting suggested elongating the movement of the blue fox.
I finally reached enough understanding of the form
to abstractly break up the front fox's form into planes and lines.
Finally my reluctance to use photos
paid dividends as the spirit I love in children's art appeared.


Sunday, I enjoyed painting the colors in the front left ear.  But after
painting the ear for several hours, I looked at the whole picture.
Color balance between warm and cool -
not pleasant. The back fox says it is a blue fox.
My vision was just to make one change.

Saturday, July 13, I did not look up fox anatomy.
The front fox's ear too low unless head tilted?
Will tilt eye and mussel but that was not to be.
I felt critical of the back fox laying down as if cowering.
I've watched fox pups play tag
 without observing dominance
therefore the fox in back should be in motion
with eye on the front fox.
The front fox needs shoulders tensed
as though about to change direction
and bound away.

Saturday, July 13, 2019


by Rain Trueax

Time is going by way too fast. I literally cannot believe we've been back at the farm for a month and it seems like it was yesterday.

The farm has had a lot accomplished-- hay for the winter bought and stashed in the barns; sheep shorn; fields fertilized, and fence across the creek replaced after calf got on the other side. The place was in great shape when we returned thanks to the hard work of our son, but this is the season for preparing for all the other ones. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

by Diane, Facing frustration on fox paintings

 Since my Wednesday post, I thought working larger would be easier than doing two paintings with very small foxes. I tried on Thursday just head portraits on my 10" x 8" canvas boards. I planned to make them more abstract. For me to make them more abstract showing gesture,  movement and expression I need to know their anatomy. Anatomical cues of placement are essential for me.  I find that I am unsure how the nose, eyes and ears are attached.
      Needed for next week - searching for pictures of foxes as well as using the field glasses to observe in the field in back of our place.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

by Diane: Painting foxes

Completed on Day Four
Fox were in the back yard close up for observation until July 5th. The fireworks must have made them fearful to come too close.  We still see the two young ones playing tag.
 Fox move fast. I watch them often. But when working largely from memory, my eyes are on my painting and I look little at the landscape. My husband Don alerts me when any wildlife is in our view. I remember their movement more than their features. I love their perky gait and their grace. Defining their form and movement requires working both their contour and the background as one.
Don said he did not understand their orientation. That is okay. The one in the lower foreground I am looking from below. In the middle ground I am looking down.
Mornings are so pleasant. Don is watching the ever changing landscape. We are so fortunate to have this view.
 The fox the other morning were crying out their warning call when a very big lighter animal appeared running towards us on the road. When it was closer we understood the high pitched bark of the fox. It was not another fox but a coyote.

Day 0ne
It took me several days to paint the fox. This 8"x10" oil on canvas board. At first they did not relate to each other. Don said they looked like deer.
Day Two

Another painting in which the barn and fields were painted first.  Then the foxes came through and I decided my painting was a stage.  They were begging to be painted.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

marketing-- like it or not

by Rain Trueax

Here's the thing for anyone selling anything. You have to satisfy the buyer. You have to convince them of their need...  for what you are providing. To do that, your product must be visible to them. The greatest artist in the world will not sell their paintings if they don't get them out of their studio or buyers into it.

While creating a book, painting, beautiful furniture, etc. is a mix of craft and art, marketing is a business. It is what will convince someone to trade their labor for the creator's labor. While art might be pure, once the creator wants to trade the result for money, short of finding a human benefactor, it is a business. Business is something many artists find distasteful-- hence they better find that benefactor.

This is true when selling our skills or selves for a job. I always think about movie stars where it comes to marketing. There are many women as lovely as Marilyn Monroe, what made it her while the others went back to Kansas? Heck, some even sell themselves for sex to get ahead and don't get anything but bad experiences. 

So, why is it that some succeed in the business end, while others must put their wonderful work in closets? Persistence? Talent? Beauty? Luck? Whatever it is, marketing, which is a skill, is behind it all

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

by Diane, Difficulty sticking to my painting goal for the summer

Difficulties of farming in the city:
In the photograph the tractor is near the middle just above the band of sun lit grass. In the alpine-glow mowing continues until the last light of evening.
         City government doesn't make allowances or subsididies to a small farm within the city. A failed city farm has to abide by the city's laws. The grass has to be cut before July 1st.

Never appreciated the neighbor's barn as much as I do now knowing either next year or the following year our back yard country view could be lost to development. Thankfully the property has not been sold yet.

       The farm was once an orchard, then horse and sheep ranch, Christmas tree farm, cow pasture, and wood lot. A number of neighbors would like to own a part of it to preserve the country life here. Not feasible to the owner! To come out of the deal economically, the owner needs cash payment in total. Banks would not carry loans to multiple parties so the land cannot be broken up into too many parts. Another question is would the place still have a farm referral after the failure of the wood lot due to the loss of diseased, climate change stressed fur timber. City taxes and regulations are set to aid developers at the expense of small farms within the city limits.

        Last week I painted with the usual interferences of the changing lighting plus color changes over the couple of weeks I worked on the painting. Then there was the wild life that entertained me. Fox kits playing tag, fox guarding their territory from cats, the hawks and vultures searching for tractor kill.

        Then I became aware of an article about my swashbuckler great uncle. I do not mind that it is a compilation of specially selecting stories to characterize him as a "Charming Gangster".  The author, a New York best seller novelist qualified his article by saying these are stories circulating. Stories could be tall tales.  Being his admirer, I know much more about his generous deeds. Yes, I know I am biased and he may well have been shady. I am not heavily into defending him.

        What was upsetting to me is to learn a theory about the family surname was spun to make my great uncle seem worse than he was. Furthermore there was no drastic change of our name. Apparently the author spoke to one of my cousins who unknowingly passed my theory on as very likely. Since I circulated my wrong ideas to relatives in 2012,  new information puts considerable doubt on my past theory.  Our name did not have any more of a change than different spellings translated to different languages. Weidler to Widler!

        So in a later blog, maybe this Fall after my painting spree, I plan to write a blog about how my theory spread outside the family and was applied to the wrong family member. Maybe I will succeed at tracing the trail of how my utterance became twisted into a supposed fact.

       The process of spin in retelling stories is important in our age of fake news. This little incident of past history where nobody is nolonger emotionally invested, could be more readily absorbed.