Thursday, 19 November 2015


It’s been months since I’ve felt I could write about events in my life and how they relate to my journey as an artist.  The challenges of ending a relationship, changing countries, changing states, re-examining goals, the illness and ultimate loss of my Dad, the need to find a new market for my work here in the USA, proved finally too much for this artist.  Floating, anchorless, I have spent months on the road, dealing with duties and travelling to ‘reboot’ my inner body.  Artists can sometimes use their art to help get their emotional bodies through times of great stress, but for me, it has been a time of deep meditation, reconnecting with beloved ones left behind in Scotland and France, finding myself re-inspired by landscapes dear to me – even if I couldn’t paint them yet; and ultimately, finding the final ability to lift myself up out of the hole, and heal from the inside out through training a very special dog (Normally this part of my healing has been helped by my horse  and companion of 26 years, Dancer, currently enjoying an extended holiday in Brittany, France).  Within a few weeks of working and running with this dog, I was able to go sit in my new studio, sketch, and begin finally, to paint (for the first time since mid-January!).  Now that I’m working again, I can use the work to further heal my heart.

I’m now in Taos, New Mexico – working in a studio provided for the winter by friends at Ft. Burgwin, the research center and SMU satellite campus that my Father founded the year I was born.  It’s snowing…the first big snow of the year they say, and I’m beginning to think ahead.  I’m still floating, but it’s a meditative floating….that will produce work.  The first piece out of this new, temporary studio is the final painting for the commission that I began last year (fingers crossed!).

Cliff Dwellers Canoeing on the Brazos, 24 x 18 in., oil on canvas, sold

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Life's 90 Degree Turns....The Roller Coaster Continues!

Brilliant news!  The commission is mostly complete.  My clients loved the Team Roping painting, have accepted it, and all that's left is a small piece on their section of the Brazos River - which can't even be begun until the Spring when the weather warms up!

I'm now floating again; re-evauating my goals for returning home to the USA for ANY period of time, and focusing on so many things that got put aside as I was trying to find my way through the challenge of a commission that stretched me as an artist.  The best experience!!!  Watch this space... my new pieces on the easel are from both the West Texas subjects I'm finding so challenging and rewarding, and a ceilidh painting from France.  I'm passionate about their passion!!  See the sketches below!!

As to the subject of the title....all I can say at this point is to listen to these blogs... changes are afoot once again.  In the meantime, I'm giving a talk this week to an Art Practicum class at UT Commerce, taught by my good friend, photographer Ginger Cooke.  I'm honored by the chance to give these students the benefit of my experience.  It'll be hard not to scare them too much....but to be truthful, there were no such classes when I was at University; and I learned the business of being an artist by sheer tough experience.  If I'd had a backup career once I made the leap off the cliff to paint full-time in 1998, I'd have taken it long ago!  Its not an easy life, but more rewarding than I ever imagined.  I just knew I could do NOTHING else by then.  

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Decisions, Decisions

I've had my nose to the proverbial grindstone lately.... working on a new painting that will hopefully be accepted by my clients for at least part of the commission.  Its finished, I think.  This is always the point where I have to make a second leap.... the first being the start of a painting.... that the picture has resolved itself, regardless how much or how little paint is on the canvas.  And then, the third leap - at least in this case, because this is a very wide-open commission I'm working on - is waiting to see if the clients like or dislike, alot or a little, the paintings. (Usually, my clients approve sketches before I even put paint to canvas, so that I'm sure they'll love the end result! In this case, they liked the general idea, and yet, I had to make a leap to keep working - highly unusual in my usually very controlled commission work!) I'm at the point where I'll soon find out if the commission is resolving itself, is resolved, or if I need to re-attack the 'problem'!  So much of being an artist, for me, is patience, and waiting.....  So here are the two main pieces, and soon, we'll know if I'm done, nearly done, or have more work.
Calf Team Roping at 4 Flags, 36 x 48 in., oil on canvas, £4,000

Crider's No. 2, WAT 2014, 36 x 48 in., oil on canvas, £4,000

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Finding The Passion...

Its been way too long since I've posted here, but the holidays.... need I say more?!  I have been working though.  And what I'm loving is that this commission is stretching me.  I'm currently working on a team-calf roping painting.  Just a bit outside of my comfort zone to be sure!!  But, I have a passion for horses, understand them, know how they work, and so does my client.  I also have a passion for movement and balance, and my client does as well; riding a horse is about balance.  Its a dance, a conversation between horse and human.  In the painting I'm working on, I'm finding my own passion, my client's passion and am finding that I can see just what is becoming important in this work.....the movement and balance and speed of the horse(s) and their rider's.  The focus it takes for both beings to work together to capture the calf, to ensure it gets its shots, its castration, its brand.... 

The next question is how do I say all this with color as well.... and its all set in the magnificent West Texas countryside along the Brazos River - which will also dictate the color and light! Then there is the question of what in the painting becomes spotlit, what is important, what is sketched in as quickly as possible.... Like I said, these paintings are stretching me!  I'd never have pursued this subject on my own, and I'm so very glad I am!

Sunday, 2 November 2014


I began a blog this past October, titling it 52 card pick-up.  I never was able to finish the entry, because life, as it usually does for me, took me, fast forward, into the next stage.  I was suddenly whisked from my time of floating, frustration and insecurity – even if I WAS painting , to action.  I suddenly was on my way to Taos, NM; one of the places of my heart, and always a place of healing and focus for me.  Home.  I spent a week there with friends and family, and returned with wheels and the unsold work from my series Waltz Across Texas – both large and small – and a sense of urgency to get going!!  It was time to start!!!  Yes, I’ve been painting, but I was ready, finally, to start!!!   
Now, I’ve gone from one extreme to the other.....such is the life of a painter.  You never know when plans you may have laid down months or even years earlier, with a time template and everything, are going to finally swing into place.  No matter how hard I tried, I found I had no choice but to float, to wait.  And as frustrating and negative as that sounds, and it was, it was just where I needed to be.  I didn’t see it until I got to the clarity that I find in Taos.  I realized that I had leapt off the cliff, or tossed my cards into the air, and I didn’t fall....but I floated, and have kept floating, watching, using small movements to help me keep direction, but am still floating; and it’s good.  I’m enjoying it!  I’m not crashing into the ground!  Who knows where the bottom will be, but if and when I need to land, it will be toe, roll down to heel, first. 

I’m painting again, but laying the groundwork first – to find the real direction this commission is going to take. I’m immersed in my giant Waltz Across Texas paintings, and letting them speak to me and take me where I need to go!  Floating is good!!

52 Card Pickup....

Modern Cliff Dwellers, The Brazos River, 16 x 12 in., oil on board, £1,250.00
Nothing like tossing your life into the air in one massive 'game' of 52 card pick-up!  I have done just that; and, am still waiting for even ONE of those cards to land.  It's unnerving to say the least, to not have any stability - especially for an artist. But perhaps one has, since I am already painting.... began 2 weeks ago, and am on my third.  Not the commission yet, but these are like warm-up exercises before I really tackle the big project!  HOWEVER,  and it's a big one,.... gotta go!! 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Jumping Without a Net....

paint, panic, run, paint, dance, paint, panic, run, breathe, go deep inside, paint, dance.....under water (or so it feels!).  This is my first three weeks back in the USA.  I'm working again.  Painting the Brazos River, dancing to non-stop two stepping music, completely happy, then when I'm done for the day, I panic.... or sometimes, in the morning when I'm running my 6 mile route (3x/week), I panic.  This is a HUGE cliff I've leapt off.  But, I keep putting one foot in front of the other, breathe deep (no matter what speed I'm going), go deep - check in, dance, paint, breathe, dance, paint, run, breathe.  This change from one continent to another (my second change in 6 months...) is proving to be the biggest challenge of my life, so far.  All I can do is keep moving forward, into the fog, absolutely trusting that the tracks are perfectly laid for my feet, even though I can't see where they are.  The subject for the commission remains elusive, but not impossible.  I need to do these two landscapes to flex my painting muscles, make sure my feet are indeed traveling the perfectly laid tracks. 
Paris, TX studio.... with beginning of  Hot Day on the Brazos

Challenges - the need for my own wheels is becoming paramount; the lack of independence is beginning to tell on my psyche, my ability to do my job.  The phone can wait til I'm in NM, as can a USA driving license, and all the other things necessary to today's life, never mind my work.  The illness of my Dad adds to the challenges, but I'm mostly so glad and honoured that I'm here right now and able to see him even for a few days at a time.  So much to be grateful for, and the knowledge that I know I'm doing the right thing for me, for my work...

I'm trying to decide if its done....what do you think??  I think it is!

Hot Day on the Brazos, 12 x 16 in., oil on board, £1,250 ($2,000 approx)