It's Christmas week! Just finished the fourth and final entry for submission to the Coast Guard Art Program. It's a jurying process, and after 17 years I still never know if what I send will be accepted. For the most part, I've been successful, thankfully. My work seems to be evolving and I am getting more and more opportunities to draw and paint people. Hopefully there will be some workshops I can take in 2011, but in the meantime, I've invested in some really good DVDs by Larry Withers. Since I was down with a cold the last couple of weeks, my non-painting/recovery time was spent watching the videos and there is another one on the way on the anatomy of the head. I did a demo at the December meeting of Sequim Arts which is a start on a still life for the members' show for next year as well as good advertising for the drawing and painting classes I will be teaching through Peninsula College beginning in January. Meantime, I am wearing my boots from the Boot Campaign to support the troops. (See their website at www.bootcampaign.com)
So as we slide into Christmas, eagerly anticipating the celebration of His birth, I wish all of you and yours the beauty and wonder of this most amazing season, and all the best in the New Year!
Moving right along.......I asked a friend recently if it really is November already. There has been much traveling this year. Once the chorus show was over, I started making plans to attend the Air Force Art presentation. It was an opportunity to renew old friendships and begin new ones, from the wonderful lady I met in the Chicago airport who, with her husband, gave me a ride from the airport to lodging on base to the incredible artists whose work was also featured in the exhibition. It was a true honor that Col Barber and Lt Col Calderwood, who were involved with heading up the Operation Arctic Care mission I attended in Kotzebue last April, attended the banquet and were able to see the paintings I created to document that mission. There will be more paintings to come for the program as well as a print. I hope to finish the original for the print this month.
The first weekend in November, Butch and I traveled to Astoria, Oregon, to visit with some old friends from Kodiak, the Leary family. We were delighted to spend time with them and to learn about Dan's transition from H65 helicopters to the H60 Jayhawk. We took a lot of photos and I am currently working on a painting for the Astoria Coast Guard station which will also be printed.
All of this comes amid the usual activities of singing and dancing. The chorus prepares for our Christmas singouts while dance is merely a form of exercise right now since there won't be another recital until 2010. I have embarked on voice lessons and the old saying "Once you have a really good teacher, you will realize what you have been missing." My voice coach works me on the fundamentals of using the voice as an instrument and as we explore this facet of yet another item on the Bucket List, I am continually amazed at the gift that my teacher has. My lofty goals when I began have gone from the equivalent of sailing around the world in a walnut shell to an in depth discovery of what makes a pleasing sound. It will require dedication and practice. I love it! Perhaps as passions go, being passionate for learning is not such a bad thing. Talent vs. passion- if you don't think you have the former, perhaps the latter will suffice.
Here I am in the studio working on a painting to commemorate Operation Arctic Care 2010 and wearing my boots from The Boot Campaign. Check their website-www.bootcampaign.com. It's a great program and I love wearing my boots! In the past several weeks life went into crescendo and is now beginning to level off a little. The week of September 13-17 I attended a class in Composite Drawing for Law Enforcement hosted by the Federal Way Police Department. It was a revelation in drawing the human face. We learned a lot about facial features as well as witness interviewing. There were 15 students in various stages of education and we received a certificate from Stuart Parks Forensic Associates confirming our accomplishments. It was one of those "bucket list" things for me, but the more we learned, the more I find that I would like to offer my services in this area. Returned home to full swing rehearsals for the chorus show! Our quartet sang "When I'm 64." Everyone involved did a great job and the audience was so very appreciative. Performing is great fun, and this is a carryover from the glory days of community theater and dance recitals in Kodiak. It is, however, easier for me to dance on stage than say lines. Now I am so far behind it is a mystery as to where to start catching up. Commission is finished, four paintings mailed off to a client in Alaska, quartet is learning a new song, time to start working on pieces for the Coast Guard Art Program deadline, and we are contemplating a visit to the Coast Guard Air Station in Astoria soon. Life is good and there are so many wonderful things to see and do! We are truly blessed.
Where has the time gone? Sounds like the beginning of a Christmas letter, and the very statement I try to avoid.
Shortly after my last post, I left for the ASAA (American Society of Aviation Artists) conference held this year in San Diego. Prior to the conference beginning, I spent a great weekend at a mini family reunion at my sister's home near Riverside. Where, we asked ourselves, did all those little kids come from? We used to be the little kids and now we are the parents and grandparents!
The conference was great, and one of the days was spent aboard the USS Midway, now a museum i San Diego Harbor. My husband had flown off the carrier in 1972, and for him this was a poignant time of rememberance and reconnection. His son, who lives nearby, joined us on the ship, which made it an important time to be with his dad.
Since then, I finished the Air Force paintings, put a solo show together and entered the County Fair, where two of my three entries won ribbons. Other than that, the summer reading program never happened and the Kindle that I had to have goes unloaded.
But back to Alaska, and the second day of my two days at Operation Arctic Care!
We spent the morning hovering around the Armory learning about eye exams, seeing how glasses are ground and documenting the events that were happening there. Then we received word that the group that had been waiting to go to Point Hope would be loaded into an Army Sherpa, which freed up a helicopter for us. So we saddled up and headed for Kiana, about a half hour ride away. The heavy skies of the previous day had left us and we had brilliant sunshine, blue skies and glittering landscapes below. We visited with veterinarians performing exams on dogs, spent some time with the dental technicians and learned from our intrepid escort how to prepare an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat.). We were fascinated by how much food came out of that little bag! It was pretty good, too, although loaded with calories. We told ourselves that we could expend a great deal of energy keeping warm in the cold climate, and were grateful for the time to share the meals. We had a chance to talk with Rick & Mick, twins who have a music ministry that they take to young people wherever they can. The helicopter returned for us and we headed back to Kotzebue, arriving in time for supper at the Armory and afterward getting packed up to leave on the early flight south.
Here are my submissions to the Air Force Art Program along with a couple of shots of Kiana. I intend not to wait so long before posting again!
Weeks have gone by and a couple of people emailed to ask "What happened next?" I've been busy working on a commission, going back and forth to the chiropractor to deal with the aftermath of the rear ender that happened on May 1. But back to Kotzebue........
My roommate and I awoke to no hot water in the hotel. It was 18 degrees outside. I was bound and determined to proceed as normal, just in case we got to go to a village, just in case we were to get stuck, just in case I didn't know where the next shower would be-or if there would be one. So in remembrance of my one summer of commercial fishing at a set net site in Kodiak, I took a deep breath and took the plunge. Whew! Then I dressed in all the layers I could find to get warm again.
Our intrepid Captain Crabtree picked us up in the school bus and we headed for the Armory for breakfast. The cooks were serving grits- a favorite of mine- and so life was good. We spent some time photographing the eye exams and went to the section where eyeglasses were being made. They had brought in totes and totes of lenses and frames along with portable lens grinding equipment so that glasses could be made on the spot. Nearsightedness and farsightedness are big problems, and it was fascinating to see the machines go to work so that people could get their glasses made without having to wait weeks for prescriptions to be filled.
We got the news that we were to fly out to the village of Kiana, so we hustled back to the hotel to pick up our overnight gear and off we went to the airport to meet the helicopter. The people who had been trying to get out to Point Hope finally had a good weather day, and the National Guard brought in a Sherpa C23 to transport them and their gear. We caught a glimpse of the boxy aircraft as we drove by. A workhorse to be sure!
Our trip to Kiana, about a half hour away, was smooth and the weather was sunny. Instead of a study in values as was the day before, the landscape was bright with glistening snow and shadows. The Kobuk River Valley was picturesque. Traveling with us were Rick & Mick Vignuelle, a Christian ministry team from Alabama. Check out their website- www.rickandmick.com. They are fun loving guys who have a musical ministry designed to reach young people. While in Kiana, we learned about MREs- Meals Ready to Eat. MSgt Kiel was our personal chef, helping us to first get the packages open, add water, and wait for them to heat up. I had a vegetable cheese omelet which had an interesting texture, but was actually quite good. We had a short time to visit with the dental and veterinary teams before the helicopter arrived to pick us up. The commuter flight- a Bering Air Cessna Caravan-was sitting on the runway when we arrived at the Kiana airstrip, and snow machines began arriving from the village to deliver people for their flights to Kotzebue and beyond as well as pick up arriving passengers. We arrived in Kotzebue in time for dinner at the Armory. From there we went to the hotel to get packed up for our early flights home.
I've been putting together a montage of images for a painting of as many scenes as I can remember which I hope to have available in print later this summer. As soon as I finish the commission, I can get back to work on my Air Force pieces. The memories of the trip as well as the interaction with all the people we met are ones I hope to retain. Time seems to fade these memories away, and I'm so glad to be able to remain in contact with several of the people on Facebook.
After several days of having the computer in the shop, one would think I would have taken the time to organize my thoughts so as to be ready to write again. Well, stuff happens and this is the first I have been able to return.
My companion artist, Shiho Nakaza, and I made a quick trip to the hotel to grab our overnight gear, complete with sleeping bag "just in case" we might "get stuck." As a long time Alaskan, getting stuck out- or in- is a relative term. One could get stuck out at a fish or hunting camp, get stuck in Anchorage, or get stuck in town unable to get OUT. Weather is usually the issue. I have been stuck out due to fog, wind, snow, and even an erupting volcano. So the prospect, while intriguing, was not out of the realm of possibility. Given the experiences of the people who had been waiting to to to Point Hope, it's best to be ready.
But the weather, and the mechanical capabilities of the helicopter, cooperated and we were taken to the airport in Kotz, loaded up and lifted off over a snow covered land that appeared, to an artist, to be a study of values- lights and darks. Frozen ribbons of rivers wound their way through the plains that made up the landscape. After about a half hour ride, we were there. We were dropped off, a group from Noorvik was to be taken to Selawik further up the river, and we would be picked up in a couple of hours.
The Inupiat village of Noorvik is situated on the Kobuk River with a population of a little over 600. There is a nicely appointed clinic and high school/elementary school. The school district website describes Noorvik as a place where students hunt "caribou and moose, fish the rivers and lakes, ski, play basketball and surf the net...Travel is by snow machine, plane or boat." They study literature, art and math as part of daily life and "where an ancient culture is moving toward a promising future." It is indeed promising for youngsters in these remote parts of Alaska to have the connection with the outside world as well as with their heritage.
We visited the clinic where we met with Major Emily Cerreta as she was just finishing an examination with a toddler. Her interaction with the little boy as well as his young mother was endearing and we were able to see the child have enough confidence to be curious about the stethoscope and hold it in place over his own heart as Major Cerreta listened.
All too soon we were on our way to the airport where the helicopter arrived in the usual cloud of snow and wind. Back to Kotzebue and ready for more interesting events.
The drawing shown is of Ssgt Croxon photographing people loading the helicopter in Noorvik. This will be transferred to canvas today so that the painting can begin.
We were up and ready early on our first day. After packing overnight bags, including sleeping bags in case we got stuck somewhere, we met in the lobby of the hotel 7:30 to meet the bus to the Armory. Our intrepid driver and XO of the mission, Captain Crabtee, was to become, like MSgt Kiel, one upon whom we would depend for transportation to and from whatever place we might be directed.
We had breakfast in the Armory- the best scrambled eggs I ever had! My image of military meals was of Igor, the camp cook from M.A.S.H. in the episode where he made the French toast in a vat big enough to hold a cow. Instead there were efficient tables with steam trays of eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon and ham.
We spent some time visiting with people giving and receiving eye exams before getting the word that we would be going to the airport to watch a group of doctors, nurses and techs be on their way to the village of Point Hope. They had been trying to get there for four days, but each time the weather was, as is normal in Alaska, uncooperative. There is a lot of hurry up and wait when it comes to travel.
The hangar was filled with gear and people in various stages of readiness and resignation with the delay. Three BlackHawk helicopters hopped over from the other side of the field in clouds of blowing snow, and loaded up. It wasn't long before they returned to the hangar, after one had a mechanical.
Next, we got word that since the helicopters weren't going to Point Hope, one would be available to take us and a medical crew to the village of Noorvik. We would be dropped off there while the BlackHawk went on to Selawik to deliver and pick up personnel and then return for us. Get ready!!!
After our arrival in Kotzebue and trip to the armory and Manilaq Health Center, we went hunting for the local restaurant. We knew it was nearby, but turned right rather than left after leaving the hotel. With all the snowy streets, where were the landmarks for three hungry and weary travelers? The answer? Turn right at the Husky!
We arrived in Kotzebue in a cloud of blowing snow, met by Major McPartlin and Lt. Col. Calderwood. Collected baggage and on to the Nullagvik Hotel, about three minutes from the airport. It was still light, and the shadowless snow seemed to create the feeling of being in a snow globe. The white sky met the white ground, with dots of color and value where buildings, snow machines and dogs dotted the landscape. More tomorrow.....
Flight was ever so smooth into Anchorage. But those memories of bad weather flights never leave. While on the flight, I met the other artist bound for Kotzebue, Shiho Nakaza, from Los Angeles. We approached Anchorage over Cook Inlet. I had forgotten how beautiful Alaska is from the air. The snow capped mountains slip by seemingly so close that you can reach out and touch them, and the ponds, rivers and nothingness beyond Anchorage brought back memories.
Of course our flight was late and we had to run for the leg to Kotz. Which was sitting there due to a mechanical. So while we sat and waited, we met our escort/guide/liason/personal ID/and new BFF MSgt Brady Kiel. MSgt Kiel would be the one we would depend on during our stay to let us know where we needed to be and when as well as help us with making sure we had the photo reference material we would need to create the paintings.
As I go through my notes and recollect the happenings of the past week, I only slightly regret that I didn't post every day. It would have been nice to have a daily log on the blog, but there was just too much happening. It is taking awhile to digest and come to some mental agreement in terms of emotions, particularly regarding going back to Alaska. I love Alaska! Alaska is not a place, it is a state of mind. People in the Lower 48 glaze over when we talk about our life there. How does one describe commercial fishing at a set net site to someone whose chief concern is whether or not to buy organic? (Commercial fishing is organic. Believe me.) People simply don't understand Butch when he talks about flying there. We have often talked about whether or not we should have stayed. Had we hung on another year, we'd have a little more income, but with the way the economy went, we wouldn't have been able to afford to leave, much less buy a house here. We miss our friends, without a doubt. And we miss the lives we had there, the things we did, the activities we engaged in. But it was time to leave, and we wax nostalgic, all the while reveling in the sunny days here. And we don't hesitate to react when people complain about rain or cold.
So on the 13th of April, I headed off into The Looking Glass, or my first step into the unknown that would be the week. I was booked on the Kenmore Air flight from Port Angeles to Boeing Field in Seattle. I thought I had left small planes behind me in Alaska. The Cessna Caravan is a 9 passenger high wing aircraft and the promise is to get you there in 35 minutes. Weather permitting, of course. Where have I heard that before? Once at Boeing Field, passengers are taken by bus to SeaTac airport. It turned out better than I thought, and now I know how it's done. Then came the usual checking in, security, taking off boots (it was easier to wear them than pack them) and making sure I kept track of my stuff. The older I get the harder that is.
I've had the honor to be a member of both the Air Force and Coast Guard Art programs since 1994. The purpose of the programs is to tell the story of the missions through art. Artists may visit bases and/or observe missions with the purpose of creating artwork that is donated to the military. In the Air Force program, many artists are members through illustrators' societies. My affiliation is through the Northwest Air Force Artists association.
While living in Kodiak, home to the nation's largest Coast Guard base in terms of area of responsibility, I was able to go out with cutters and small boats as well as fly on helicopters and C130s. For a small town, the large Coast Guard contingency is an integral part of the community. Over the years I have submitted many paintings to the program and one was displayed in a Coast Guard exhibit in The Netherlands last year.
Since we moved to Washington in 2006, I have continued to contribute to the programs, and in 2007 was invited along with three other artists to McChord Air Force Base south of Seattle to document the Rodeo where units from all over the world come together to compete in various exercises. Not only was the event an exciting experience, the other artists have become close friends and we had the opportunity to regroup at the "art turn in" held at Bolling AFB in Washington DC in 2008. The painting here is entitled "Wranglers," which Rodeo participants are called, and they are shown as they load mannequins onto a waiting C130, being timed and graded on their activities.
When the call came a few weeks ago asking if I would be willing to go to Kotzebue, Alaska to observe Operation Arctic Care, I jumped at the chance. To return to Alaska, to interact with our men and women in uniform as they go about their duties, to create paintings from the experience.....Does it get any better than this? Not for me!
Operation Arctic Care is in its 16th year. Reservists and active duty personnel with medical expertise come together from all over to provide medical coverage for people in the remote villages of Alaska. This year the mission would be hosted by the Air Force. We would spend two days there and weather permitting, would fly on BlackHawk helicopters to villages to observe and interact with medical personnel assigned there.
Official orders and itinerary arrived and I began checking weather in "Kotz," 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Emails flew back and forth with our assigned escort, MSgt Brady Kiel and fellow artist for the mission, Shiho Nakaza of Los Angeles. We were to bring sleeping bags, just in case we were to fly to a village and be unable to get back to Kotzebue, and don't forget the cold weather gear! Temperatures hovered below freezing. Like, 8. Or 18. Or 22 degrees. The Arctic is still frozen at this time of year. Unlike Kodiak, the cold is dry and breakup won't happen for another month.
So how could I take enough stuff, travel light and still get the job done? How would it feel being back in Alaska, even though I had never been that far north? I put my trust in God, and the Air Force, to show me what needed to happen and prepared for the trip of a lifetime. Pr 3:5, 6
I just returned from Kotzebue, Alaska where I was able to observe our men and women in uniform as they provided medical care to people in remote villages. Operation Arctic Care 2010 was sponsored this year by the Air Force with more than 250 people participating. There will be more to come as I sort through photos, sketches, and yes, emotions, too. It was truly an honor and an adventure, and as part of the Air Force Art Program I'll be creating more than one painting to submit to the Air Force. Meantime, it's late, there are more than 500 photos to sort through and I still have to bake cookies for our Sweet Adelines Chorus installation meeting tomorrow. Yawn. After all the cool stuff last week, who can sing?
Today is the last day of March, end of the first quarter of 2010. It seems like so much has happened, yet I haven't done enough. Last weekend was spent at Gage Academy of Art in Seattle in a fabulous composition workshop presented by Suzanne Brooker. I have heard all the words, read the books, and even taught it in my classes in Kodiak. But now that I've done the little exercises that emphasize line, shape, color, texture, balance, it makes a lot more sense. I am off to start a new painting of an Air Force F15 and have some additional insight in planning the composition. Onward!
Time has been rushing by- sounds like the beginning of a Christmas letter! I finished the paintings for Alaska Magazine and they expect the publish date to be for the June issue. Meantime, I am giving myself a sabbatical from painting to draw every day. Went to the cow pasture to see the newborn calves. Managed to do a couple of sketches there and then a couple of days ago saw newborn lambs at the small farm about a mile from here. Planning to start a silverpoint drawing this week. I led a beginning drawing workshop yesterday sponsored by Sequim Arts and the Museum and Arts Center. Everyone did great! I am grateful for the opportunity and hope to do it again.
Have spent the last month-six weeks working on four paintings to be published in a magazine later this spring along with entries to the Coast Guard Art Program. Part of that time was dealing with laser surgery on both eyes (to correct a problem) and taking part in the chorus gigs for the Christmas season. Now that the paintings are finished, I am tackling the other projects that went unattended- finishing up paintings to submit to the American Society of Aviation Artists exhibition, updating the blog, cleaning the studio, updating the blog, answering Christmas correspondence- oh, and did I mention updating the blog? Hopefully I can keep this up a little better. Meantime, I came across a wonderful comment in the Seattle times this morning by staff writer Nicole Brodeur in which she says, "....no matter now much time you get in life, you may not finish all you started. But if this happens, leave what you've done in a picture window. In the sun." I can't think of a better musing. Thank you, Ms. Brodeur, for this insight!
A new year, a clean slate! I always think on January 1st, "What can I do to make this year better than last?" Do more for others and live my faith better come to mind. In terms of purpose, the answer may be a little more evasive. It has been a little over three years since we left Alaska for Washington state, and I've been floundering around trying to figure out what to do with my art. Bottom line, what do I love? Answer, illustrating stories. I have a cool commission from a magazine to create four paintings to illustrate a story which will be published in the spring. As a result, I have left the Blue Whole Gallery, a co op, to focus more on creating better art in more of the areas that mean the most to me. I love painting airplanes, I love painting Alaska! I'll comment as the paintings progress but the illustrations will have to wait until they are published in the magazine before I can show them here. Still, there will be others to share. Keep watching!
Thanks to my good friend, Susan Martin Spar (check out her blog, The Daily Muse by Susan Martin Spar), I have now entered the world of blogging. Here are some images of paintings that are still available. As time goes by, I will add new images. Enjoy!
My husband and I live in the Pacific Northwest. Before moving here in 2006, we lived on Kodiak Island in Alaska for 23 years. There, I worked in an art gallery, commercial fished (only for a summer), and taught art at Kodiak College for nearly 18 years. My specialty is aviation art, and I am a member of the American Society of Aviation Artists, the Canadian Aviation Artists Association, NorthWest Air Force Artists and the Coast Guard and Air Force art programs. I have won some cool awards from places like ASAA, Simuflite/Flying Magazine and Aviation Week and Space Technology and have done some work for Alaska Magazine, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Alaska Airmen's Association. I love painting airplanes, but find doing occasional still life and landscapes a fun diversion. Additional diversions are singing with a Sweet Adelines chorus and tap dancing. Boredom is not in my vocabulary.