Where Oh Where Did the Driftwood Go? Paintings in Progress…

People tell me they like to see photos of paintings in progress. Showing my laborious & often dubious process can be kind of, well, embarrassing. Getting from point A (the start) to point Z (the finish) isn’t a straight line, as you’ll see below. If you’re curious you can dial back to the last blog post to see a few of these paintings shown at the very beginning.

Reeds 1

Reeds 2Progress? They look almost identical, but I have done some work on this painting. (Size 16″ x 16″)


dock yellow 1

Dock yellow 2Often they get worse before they get better…   (Size 12″ x 12″)


Dock blue 1

Dock blue 2You get a prize if you can see what I’ve accomplished in this one. It’s there, honest.  (Size 12″ x 12″)


Reflection horiz groovesI forgot to take an earlier photo in progress, except for the one you can see if you go to the previous blog post. (Size 16″ x 16″)


Driftwood 1Here’s the real drama. This driftwood has gotten smaller, larger, rougher smoother. Previous blog post shows some of the struggle.

Driftwood 2Got mad and sanded the driftwood down.

Driftwood 3When in doubt sand it out. Driftwood is gone, gone, gone. Please don’t tell me you liked it better with the driftwood! (Size 20″ x 20″)


OakI think I’m getting close to finishing this one. Unless I have some bright idea to get into sanding mode and remove an oak root or something…  (Size 36″ x 48″)

Summertime, Apricots, and Painting Up a Storm

It’s finally beginning to feel like summer in Oracle. So far there have only been a few days when I felt it was warm enough to switch to shorts. I’m waiting for a stretch of hot days and then I’ll declare my own official Start of Summertime. I’m not teaching any classes this summer & am devoting my time to painting, preparing for a show at the Blue Dome Gallery in Silver City, opening in September.

Meanwhile, I also have apricots on the brain. Apparently our tree thinks it’s summer. The fruit ripened all at one time. I’ve been baking (apricot kuchen, apricot muffins, apricot upside down cake, etc.) & giving away apricots to friends.

Apricots always remind me of my childhood in California. My family lived in a new subdivision that had been an “Italian plum” orchard. That’s a fancy name for the plums from which prunes are made. They weren’t great to eat, kind of mealy and tasteless. We had 13 Italian plum trees in our yard which translated to what seemed to me to be millions of little plums. This was not lucky for me, as picking up the fallen fruits was one of my chores. If not done in a timely manner they got squishy & full of slugs. Ugh. Across the street and beyond was a former apricot orchard. Lucky them. Lucky me, too. I could go up and down that side of the street and eat apricots until they were coming out of my ears. Warm from the sun and as sweet as anything.

One of my early art-making memories was badgering my mother into driving to an apricot orchard I had seen so that I could create a oil pastel drawing of the trees in bloom. I insisted that we park at the top of a hill looking down onto the orchard. Way too ambitious for a 10 year old and I still remember the struggle to capture what I saw. My Mom sat patiently in the car while I made this attempt. I’m guessing I got pretty cranky trying to figure out how to make the orchard look the way I saw it.

This post is really about a bunch of paintings, three of which I started yesterday, one a few days before, two have been in progress for weeks and finally the last one which may or may not be finished. This makes a total of 6 or possibly 7 paintings in the works. By the way, it’s still a struggle to reach my vision. But I love the challenge.


Ptg 1 480One day old, 16″ x 16″.


Ptg 2 480Another newborn #2, 12″ x 12″.


Ptg 3 480New start #3, 12″ x 12″


Ptg 4 480I’ve been working on this one, #4, for a few days. It’s 16″ x 16″.


Ptg 5 480#5, in progress for weeks. Note the white blob on the piece of driftwood in the forefront. I got mad at what was happening and slathered the problem area with Golden Crackle Paste yesterday. Today I need to paint it and make it blend in with the rest (hopefully). 20″ x 20″


Ptg 6 480This is a big fellow, #6, 36″ x 44″. Been working on it for many weeks (possibly months, I’ve lost track).


Ptg 7 480Technically this one, #7 is done. I’ve signed it, which is usually a sign that a painting has been completed. But I keep fooling around with it. Maybe now I’ve got it. Just not sure…

Where Oh Where Has Barbara Been?

It’s finally summer and I’m looking forward to a nice long stretch of time to focus on my artwork.

May was a busy month what with teaching various painting workshops and preparing for a show.

I was also traveling for 2 weeks. Here’s why—Jim has developed a new side-business over the last few years and naturally, I’m involved. We lead tours around the Southwest. These bus tours range from 4 to 9 days, with 45-50 people and no, we don’t do the driving! Two weeks in May were devoted planning for upcoming tours this October & in April 2016. We were in Northern Arizona, Utah & New Mexico checking out hotels, restaurants & interesting things to do with a bus-load of people.

Oh, by the way, I was also painting off and on in May. Below are 3 paintings-in-progress.

Lg water with treeThis one is pretty large—36″ x 48″. Got a long way to go on it.


16x16 dead tree branch16″x16″, in about the same stage of completion—far from finished.


12 x 1212″ x 12″, driving me crazy.

Sometimes small paintings take as long to complete as larger paintings. This one has been quite a struggle. I got mad a couple of days ago and attacked it with my electric sander hoping something promising was lurking beneath a few layers of paint. This is what’s left. Not sure where to go from here…


Results Are In: Oracle Artist Studio Tour a Success

Somehow everything got done. The clutter of my studio was moved into (and filled up) the adjacent garage. Please check out the previous blog post if you’d like see what I was contending with. Once the studio was cleared out, Jim went out & bought me a first class mop complete with a scrub brush. I attacked the dirty floor until it was clean(ish).

Then came the decisions about what to put where. You’d think this would be easier each year, but it isn’t. This time we decided to hang some of our work mixed together on the large wall. Then tables were dragged around and set in a variety of configurations until it looked like everything had a place and the flow in the space was good.

Finally the puzzle pieces came together just in the nick of time. That left me with the baking and guacamole making. I baked  batches of cookies and brownies on Friday night and then got up early on Saturday to make guacamole and more cookies before the tour started at 10 am.

Our first visitors arrived at 9:30 am, 1/2 hour early. It’s lucky that we were ready because there was a steady stream of visitors all day. Sunday was just as busy. The weather was perfect and our guests were delightful.

Here are a few photos of the studio before the tour started:

view 1


view 2


view 3

And the visitors arrived:

view 6

Note my handsome husband, Jim, in blue jean & checked shirt, below.

view 5

And if you’re wondering about the purple duct tape on the floor? No it isn’t a design statement. It’s my attempt to cover the cracks in the concrete and maybe a secret hope that the duct tape will keep the cracks from getting any worse…

Oracle Artist Studio Tour Looming on the Horizon

It’s been a busy time for me over the last several months between back-to-back solo shows, a 5-day guided tour led by Jim & I with 45 people on a big coach bus to eastern New Mexico, picking up my solo show from the Yuma Fine Art Center tomorrow (a 4-hour drive each way), an opening at the Yuma Fine Art Center for the Southwestern Invitational next Friday evening (another 4-hour drive each way) and oh, by-the-way, the Oracle Artist Studio Tour on Saturday & Sunday April 11 & 12th. Plus workshops and presentations thrown in for variety.

Do I sound a little hysterical? Well, yes, maybe a little. But most of all I’m happy and grateful for these opportunities—when you’re a self-employed artist, busy is good so long as there’s still time to make art.

My studio is in a state of woeful disrepair. I got part way through unpacking stuff from a presentation I made last Friday in the Phoenix area but the rest is still heaped up on a table.

Messy studio 2

New panels waiting to be prepped for painting and other random stuff piled up on these tables, below.

Messy studio 1 480

Painting area. Also a mess.

Messy studio 3

And here’s an overview of the whole messy operation.

Messy Studio 4

Hopefully at some point this week there will be a miraculous intervention and on Saturday the studio will be mess free, clean and set up with Jim’s photographs & my paintings on display for the hordes of visitors to admire.

Photos of this event to follow.

And here is the invitation. If you click on it, it will open the official Oracle Artist Studio Tour website with more information:


Opening at the Yuma Arts Center

Yuma Openting #1

Painting Water opened in Yuma at the Yuma Fine Art Center last Friday evening, March 6th, in the West Gallery of the Art Center. There are 5 galleries altogether in the Center, and on this evening there were 3 galleries having openings. Above is an installation shot of the West wall.

Yuma Openting #3

Installation shot of the East wall, with one of the refreshment tables all set for food to arrive and the piano awaiting the pianist. This was a nice surprise, I didn’t expect live music!

Yuma Openting #4

The South wall.

Yuma Openting #5

I’m standing between Duet: Water & Boulders, 36″ x 48″, acrylic on panel and Water Jazz, 58″ x 80″, acrylic on canvas.

Yuma Openting #2

North wall, with a woman viewing the paintings on the East wall.

Yuma Openting #8

Pianist and a few visitors. The opening has started.

Yuma Openting #7

Talking to people about my paintings.

This is a spectacular place. Painting Water will be up through April 3rd. The Art Center is open from Tuesday-Saturday.

Painting Water Exhibit Opens Despite the Super Bowl

Two inches of rain fell during the 2 days before the opening of my show at Rancho Linda Vista Gallery in Oracle. In fact, we transported the paintings from my studio to the gallery in the driving rain. Luckily, Sunday February 1 dawned sunny and beautiful for the opening of Painting Water.

A  crowd showed up despite it being Super Bowl Sunday. The gallery was full of people coming and going from 1 pm until precisely 4:25 pm. Suddenly, it was empty. Super Bowl started at 4:30. However, by 4:35, intrepid non-Super Bowlers continued to come by to see the show. Therefore, I vote Painting Water, 63, Super Bowl, 0.

Best of all my sons Jeremiah and Mathew surprised me by coming to the opening. No small effort on their part. Jeremiah drove all the way from Northern New Mexico (10 hours), picking up Mathew in Phoenix and driving an additional 2 hours to Oracle. It was one of the best surprises I’ve ever had.

My sister, Nancy, flew in from Northern California to see the show the following week. Not a surprise, but special none-the-less. I’m lucky to have such a supportive family.

Here are a few photos from the opening:

_MG_0215Installation, North wall.

_MG_0233Andy Rush giving me his opinion of the show, view of East wall of the gallery.


_MG_0242Jim Walsh & other visitors.

_MG_0251View of a section of the West wall, with friends Nyla Butler, Judy Walsh and Maureen Murphy.

Thanks to Jim for the great photos and for cooking delicious dinners for weeks while I painted madly in my studio.


Barbara Kemp Cowlin vs The Super Bowl: Painting Water Opens February 1

A solo show of my paintings is coming up soon (in 10 days but who’s counting), on Sunday February 1, at the Rancho Linda Vista Gallery in Oracle. For the past two years I’ve been focused on creating all new paintings for this show. Weeks ago, I had the postcards invitations to the show printed and was just getting ready to mail them out when guess what—I overheard someone talking about Super Bowl Sunday. Coming up on Sunday, February 1. Imagine my horror when I realized I had inadvertently scheduled my opening for that very day. Too late to change the date.

In deference to the Super Bowl, I decided to start the opening earlier, at one o’clock. That way the Super Bowl won’t loose any viewers—they can see my show early and head home in plenty of time to take in the game. And in addition, I’ll be providing plenty of chips & dips and libations, so visitors to the exhibit can do their eating at my show and not have to worry about food distracting them from the game.

And for the rest of you, if you’re feeling left out, come to my opening and join in on conversations about art and other fascinating non-game related topics. And you, too, can have your chips and dips.

Rancho Linda Vista exhibit announcement

A New Painting for the New Year

Happy New Year!

My painting, Water Juxtaposition, is officially completed and photographed. And I’m into the four week countdown to the opening of my exhibit, Painting Water, on February 1 at the Rancho Linda Vista Gallery in Oracle. Which means I’m going to be working like mad in my studio between now and then.

Water Juxtaposition-480px

Water Juxtaposition, 48 inches x 60 inches, acrylic on canvas

Although I treated myself to a few lazy days over the holidays, I managed to get quite a bit of work done. In addition to a massive cleaning of my studio, I started several new paintings and updated the workshop page on my website. This winter & spring, I’m offering workshops around Arizona. Information on signing up is on the workshop page or you can contact me.

Classes in my studio will be by request during this time period. I put together a list of workshops I’ve offered in the past and these can be adjusted to fit your needs. It’s easy—just get a group of four or more people together and I can schedule a special workshop for you and your friends.


One Finished Painting and Ten in the Works


Here is an officially completed painting—official because Jim photographed it. There are snapshots of it in progress on previous blog posts. The painting, Water Jazz, is large—2 canvases which when bolted together make the painting 58 inches x 80 inches. Here it is:

Water Jazz


And yes, I’m really am working on ten paintings at once. Don’t ask me how this happened. Perhaps a bit of panic at my rapidly approaching shows? Four of the paintings are actually 4 separate panels which will end up as 2 paintings—a long & square panel each for each painting. So maybe I should say I’m working on 8 paintings at once. All in different stages of completion. Since I don’t have enough room on my easel, I have a bunch of paintings I’m working on flat on tables. You should see me dancing back and forth across my studio applying paint—it’s quite aerobic.

Here’s a painting that’s maybe (with luck) be getting close to completion:

in progress 12-2-14


Just started the one below:


In prog 12-2-14


And here are 6 (or 8 depending on how you count them), flat on tables:

6 at once 12-2-14


Enough of this spending time on the computer—I need to get my apron on and get to painting!