Friday, December 23, 2011

Wish for...

Sometimes going forward means going away for awhile. Yet, I think of you all every day, checking in at your sites and blogs and thinking about all the thoughtful visitors from around the world.

Pondering this year (its challenges and gifts) and thinking about the coming one, my wish for you is good health, loving friends, loving family, good jobs, great studio time, and paint, paint, paint.

I don't have work to share this week, but I do have some words and a photo--the view from my studio.

This is my prayer for all of you, no matter your faith: Blessings to all of you. May you hear the best voice within you, the wise voice, the Loving voice. And, let's keep going, toward wholeness, peace, and purpose.

Right now, I'm Waiting for My Child to Come Home

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Rain calms me
Providing a boundary for my thoughts like the edges of a canvas
Reining in too much of everything.

I linger to read.
I eat breakfast slowly,
Gazing over the beautiful dozing dog flesh before me
and out
to the little streams forming,
pelted gently and rhythmically crossing the yard.

There seems to be more time in a rainy day, more hours.
Kiss, kiss, Rain, on desert mouths moistened with a promise.
Hug, hug, Ground, embracing tones of gray and silver and
cool blue light on mirrored mud.

© 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tucson Artist Melinda: Thankful. Grateful. Going Forward

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

The Open Studios Tour was so eventful for me that it is challenging to describe it--to detail it in such a way as to paint a proper picture. Maybe I'm better with paint than with words.

There were: Two days of nearly nonstop visiting. Rain. Rain. Rain! Beautiful cloudy skies slung low over the mountains, over trees and homes. Our intrepid art travelers had a midtown cluster of places to visit, including mine, and it was nice to know that we had community for a weekend.

Thank you to everyone who came by. Thank you to my dear fellow artist bloggers. Thank you to the two collectors who bought two of my paintings:

Ghost Ranch Ancestors 2011

Ghost Ranch Ancestors 18" x 18" on cradled oil panel--Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

and

Mostly Harmless 2009

Mostly Harmless 2009 oil on canvas--Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Thank you to the nationally know visitors, the art savvy visitors, the elegant artists who work in the art world and thank you to the representative from the Grand Canyon Association.

Because I try to emulate Cesar Milan's insights, not only with my dogs, but also as a metaphor for my own psychic well being, I am going forward.

A well balanced dog Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

I mean, what's a well balanced dog to do? When I walk with them, I look down at their beautiful heads and can almost hear them say, Go forward, Go forward, Go! And so, I do.

Here is a beginning:

Abiquiu Opening oil on canvas 30" x 30" Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

The walk is the discipline. The journey is calming--even more than any destination. Being present translates excitement into quiet happiness, peace. After all, "excitement is not happiness"--Cesar Millan.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Wishing you all peace. Go forward! The walk will do you good.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2011 Fall Tucson Open Studio Tour: Tucson Artist Melinda Esparza Mops and Dusts With Painterly Gestures

Rincon Peak Winter Snow October 2011 Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Dusting toward Saturday.
Slouching in meditation.
Daydreaming of rain,
and tea,
and cookies
and guests.

Windy Point and I do Have One Image © 2010 Melinda S. Esparza

Wish you all could be here. The last three times before the Tucson Open Studios Tour, paintings sold online because collectors didn't want to take the chance that they'd lose the one they wanted. A few of the new paintings for this tour are highlighted here:

Ghost Ranch Cliff 8" x 8" on oil panel--Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Ghost Ranch Ancestors 18" x 18" on cradled oil panel--Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Ghost Ranch Ancestors above SOLD! today during the Open Studios Tour!


Ghost Ranch Mesa 30" x 30" on oil panel--Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Plus, this one, She Wore New Earrings (8" x 8", oil on cradled panel). The proceeds of this sale will be donated to charity.

She Wore New Earrings Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Here is the link to Zocalo's article about the event: The Artists Welcome You!

If you are in the Santa Barbara, CA, area, I hope you'll check out my work in the Westmont Museum of Art's auction of work from November 30th through December 16th.


Looking forward to all who can stop in! Thanks to Mr. Arty Fice for taking an okay photo last night at the preview exhibit.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

2011 Fall Tucson Open Studio Tour: Tucson Artist Melinda Esparza Offers an Invitation and A Preview

We're on the run up to next week's 2011 Tucson Open Studios Tour. So, of course, I'm all over the place: cleaning, raking, looking at images, hoping to paint more.

work in progress Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

There is this work in progress, "no name" painting, 8" x 8" on artists' board, that may get done before next week--prolly not. There is this one that I really, really want to throw paint at, "almost named" on 30" x 30" canvas. Whew! I might just start it and work on it while people perambulate (Howz that for building one's vocabulary while stressed?)

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

I received several postcards yesterday, highlighting the 5x5 Invitational at Westmont Museum of Art. I sent in my piece, Peak Red on Paper, just before deadline, so my name is not included, but check out the site as the auction draws nearer the date, November 20th through December 16th. I'm hoping that you'll be able to see my work in with the rest.



Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

However, of interest are quite a few artists I admire. You may also want to visit their sites too.

Squeak Carnwarth

Mary Lee Bendolph

Mary Ince

Helen Garber

Carol Burnett (that Carol Burnett?!), and a few guys too!

Oh, yeah...And, me, Melinda, Oh, MY!

There are works by:

Ed Moses

John Baldessari

Robert Mangold.

Have a look!

For a smidgeon of context (turned around), a summary for now, may your approach follow the dictum "ut pictura poesis"--"as is painting, so is poetry"--Horace, Ars Poetica (c. 13 BC)

Friday, October 28, 2011

2011 Tucson Open Studio Tour: Tucson Artist Melinda Esparza Waters the Plants, Dreams of Snow

Rincon Peak Winter Snow October 2011 Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

What is it about deadlines that can freeze all artistic activity? It feels like the psychological equivalent of "...caught in the headlights."

On the other hand, it has energized me to submit a donation of art to the Westmont Museum of Art in Santa Barbara, CA. The deadline is the first of November, so I just made that. And, the 2011 Open Studio Tour got me to deliver this new work to the JCC art gallery for the upcoming preview exhibit.

Heck, it even got me to do a little gardening...(This means I watered some plants and bought a young okra plant at Whole Foods.) Ha. Have you ever had fresh okra, by the way? It is very good with cornmeal and mesquite flour and very easy to grow. The flowers are spectacular too.

This painting, Rincon Peak Winter Snow (18" x 18", oil on cradled artists' board) is a reminder that winter is coming and perhaps a little snow will show up on the mountains around town. Wishing you all could show up for the Open Studio Tour.

Here's an image of the postcard that is being mailed out by Tucson Pima Arts Council. While I think there could be some refinement with the graphic design (I know. Having a graphic designer in the house can cause one to be very fussy), it does have my artwork in the lower right hand section!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tucson Artist Melinda and the Collaboration

She Wore New Earrings, Abstract by Jeane Myers, Karon Leigh and Melinda S. Esparza Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Sitting in my studio a couple of weeks ago, I eagerly awaited the arrival of a stranger/not a stranger--a friend--I had not met.

When could anyone write such a sentence and have it make any sense before 1996? Ah, then, you know what's coming.

Fellow artist and blogger Jeane Myers had written me, letting me know that she'd be in Tucson for a few days, and wondered if I'd be up for a visit. Wow. Of course, I said, and we set up a time.

To have the opportunity to sit and chat face to face about art and to share some brushstrokes on an artists' board with her, was a surreal and wonderful treat for this rather isolated artist.

We got to talking about Winsor & Newton Artisan water based oil paints, which prompted an experiment. Jeane's friend, Karon Leigh, and I pushed some paint around and after they left, I added the background, the "eye" and a few more marks. This is the result. I titled it: She Wore New Earrings (oil on artists' board) and hope this makes Jeane chuckle.

No. Words can't quite express how lucky I felt having Jeane visit in person, to talk about art, art, art, and to exchange real, in-person hugs. I'm still smiling. If I were a millionaire, one of my wishes would be to visit each of you and have a nice art chat.

I hope you'll visit her website and have a look at her fabulous work. And, then head over to Karon's website and look at her encaustic work. Lovely.

Any time you're in town, my studio is your place for sharing, collaborating, and for a genuine, heartfelt hug.

Maybe you'll even consider visiting during the Tucson 2011 Open Studio Tour coming up November 12th and 13th. Okay, I can dream.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tucson Open Studio Tour 2011

Ghost Ranch Ancestors 18" x 18" on cradled oil panel--Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Tucson Pima Arts Council is again hosting the Open Studio Tour, and it's coming up in just a few weeks. Of course I'm not ready. I will be, though!

We've had some challenges with lighting and with getting the 'ranchette' presentable, but I think we'll pull it all together in the nick of time.

The Tucson Jewish Community Center will be hosting the preview exhibit starting on Wednesday, November 9th. That gives artists and the community a chance to see a sampling of work in town. I wish you all could be here. We do have us some fun.

I'm still following the trail of images from my New Mexico journey. In my mind, I'm there.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The ANTs Disappeared and PAINT Made a Mesa

Ghost Ranch Mesa 30" x 30" on oil panel--Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

It was really wonderful to hear from you all about your own struggles with ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts). I know that you work diligently to chase them away. I think you're successful. You inspire me to keep chasing mine away too.

When they're gone, it is a good day. Here is a 30" x 30" oil on canvas that I finished last night...sans ANTs.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Last Swim of the Summer, Stomping on ANTs, Ghost Ranch Cliff

Ghost Ranch Cliff 8" x 8" on oil panel--Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

I don't know about you...Wait. I think I do know about you. If you're an artist reading this (or not), I'll bet you have ANTs too.

Okay, let me explain. I had a few days of not painting recently and I watched some PBS programing on the brain, again. This time, Dr. Amen talked about how all of us have Automatic Negative Thoughts, yeah, ANTs that are just a part of regular brain function. We can kill these ANTs by redirecting our thoughts, and we don't have to let them eat up our days. I really like that we have the power to change the way we think.

It's rather unusual to be able to swim at the end of September, even for this hot Arizona desert. But, with a pool cover, one can eek out a moment of water meditation before it is just too cold. Water therapy is great for fighting ANTs.

Last swim of the summer Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Ah. Getting back into the studio and painting does this for me, now doesn't it for you too?! So, here is a painting that completely led me away from self deprecating thinking after an evening soaking in the pool.

Amen to that. Thanks, doctor.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thank You, Georgia O'Keeffe. Something New. Something Sold

Took a break from working on "The Beast" (Grand Canyon painting) yesterday and experimented with this encaustic. It's on a cradled 12" x 12" encausticbord. It felt like a meditation. It may not be finished.

Ocean Meditation #1 Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

I went to have my eyes examined last week (Should it really have been my head? Prolly, but that's for another day.)

Chatted with the wonderful Dr. Peterson like we were old friends. I mentioned that Georgia O'keeffe had macular degeneration throughout the final ten years of her life. How horrible that must have been for her. How awful for an artist!

Here's the thing I learned from the good doctor. She told me that new studies have shown that lutein (10mg per day) and ziaxanthin (2mg per day) can reduce the risk of developing this sight robbing disease. I ran right out and bought some, not because I have it in my family, but because it is on the rise in this country--and, because of Georgia. I hope you'll consider this for your dear artist's eyes.

Glyff Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

This painting, one of my other favorites, Glyff (8" x 8") sold this week from my website. It's been a good week so far.

Better get back to work with my fancy schmancy new glasses...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Grand Canyon Work: Small Endeavor for a Day

While taking a lunch break today, I watched a little of Charlie Rose's program with Chuck Close and Richard Serra talk about creativity and the brain. A woman artist was not part of the discussion, which I thought would have added to the conversation. I mean, the male brain and the female brain are different from each other we've learned. How so scientifically as it relates to creativity? Historically men have been heralded as leaders in art. So, what do women artists' brains reveal in relationship to art and creativity?

Well, it was interesting that Chuck Close said, and I paraphrase, that inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. While that seems flippant, it is true that we have jobs to do. I like to think this way too--do the work, surprises happen, new ideas emerge.

I'm endeavoring.

This week, I'm working on "The Beast" again--the Grand Canyon painting that I've been working on since 2008 (48" x 72"). This is one new section. Of course, it brought back wonderful memories of going there, standing there, dazzled by a sunrise on the rim. I surely hope I can finish this painting soon!

Grand Canyon Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Plus, I am delighted that this small work: Evening Light Catalinas (5" x 7") sold this past week. What a boost for this artist.

Evening Light Catalinas Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Okay. Lunch break over. Wishing you all a productive, happy discipline in the studio!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Easel. The Best Taboret. More New Mexico Painting

Cerro Pedernal #1 Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Today, hiding out in my Tucson cave, otherwise known as 'The Strawbale Room,' I worked some more on Cerro Pedernal #1. I'm not sure if it's done yet, but it's looking a bit more finished now. It's 30" x 30", oil on canvas. It was a blistering 108 degrees today, but a storm is coming in from the east which we hope will cool things down--maybe to a cardigan donning 100 degrees!

Missing the smaller 8" x 8" format this week inspired me to paint another view of a New Mexico hill with fancy junipers. They looked like they were posing or getting ready to dance.

New Mexico Hill and Junipers Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

I was thinking, too, about the equipment we use in our artwork.

A few years back, I needed to buy an easel and a taboret for the studio. These things are so expensive. The prices were astonishing.

Monterey Multi-Angle Easel Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

My quest led me to find two really good studio aids. This Monterey multi-angle easel is really wonderful. I've not been super happy with the wiggly-ness, but wow, when you want to lay on some paint and don't want it to run, nothing beats this easel.

I couldn't find a taboret that I could afford. So, I looked on eBay for something like it. I found this:

Innovex three drawer file cabinet with glass top Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

If you've ever worked in an office and wished you were at home in a studio, this image could be a treat. I never worked in an office, but opening a file cabinet to find oil paints is a dream come true. It's great because it has wheels, and the glass top serves as another palette surface! I'll bet the manufacturers didn't think of that.

Hope you all are well, safe and happy. Be careful, Easterners! After the earthquake comes some heavy rain. Gee. I thought Tucson weather was challenging...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tucson Artist Melinda's Magical Journey Continued

First look, first draft of Cerro Pedernal Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

As we drove toward Albuquerque a few weeks ago, I thought, What was it again that compels me in this direction? I mean, there aren't any saguaros or very many ocotillos there. And gee, in Arizona, there are as many spectacular vistas as New Mexico, right?...Hmmm.

It's about six hours from Tucson to Albuquerque, if you take the cutoff toward Hatch (where all the yummiest chile peppers are grown) through Deming. It is our custom to stop in Lordsburg for fuel. Right away, there were strange things afoot. My favorite hills were being mined and the machines were busily scratching at the hems of their skirts.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Journal entry: On the way up to Albuquerque, I saw a young calf standing under a lone billboard with these words written in bold letters, "Fresh Jerky," and a hill whose vegetation formed the stylized image of a running horse-- like cave paintings. Light and shadows danced along the ground as storm clouds gathered.

The second day, we were in Santa Fe fueling up and about to get lost. I was not feeling well. I did not pay attention. My internal GPS was not working. We headed northeast instead of northwest to Abiquiu. Driving through the foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains and rounding the bend, I saw a flat topped mountain that seemed to appear suddenly over the top of the other hills. Was it smiling? I was overjoyed that I had, perhaps glimpsed Cerro Pedernal. I was wrong, and drove further until I could tell from the incredible grassy plains (like Kansas) that something was not right. At Wagon Mound, I melted down. Ill that I had made such a mistake. Ill that I now must drive back toward Santa Fe and begin again toward the northwest. Stopping in Las Vegas, NM, we found the Comfort Inn and crashed. Lucky to get any room (Harley motorcycle rally in town), we had a clogged sink...on the second floor, and had to brush our teeth while taking our showers. Ha.

From Ghost Ranch Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Storms come to New Mexico Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Third day journal entry: On the way to S. F., I saw the monsoon come in a cloud like an Indian dancer in the sky, the Pecos River and a hundred happy bikers listening to ZZ Top, as we ate French 'Ready to Eat' meals at the Pecos River Station. Made it to S. F. and saw antique cars, one Cobra.

Penitente Morado Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

It seemed like the Trickster, the devil and a small host of angels vied for mastery of our journey. We were like confused observers, trying to listen to the right voice. The Sage Inn became our refuge, and I cancelled my Ranch adventure. The faucet in our room's sink would not turn off and a kindly maintenance man came and replaced the faucet. The next night, in a different room again, he came to replace something else and we gave him our treasured tamales from Tucson's Larua's Restaurant.

Fourth day: Still ill, but painted in my room (That's fun. Put down a small tarp to protect the carpet.)Had a pleasant lunch along the Santa Fe River where birds fought amongst themselves and only we noticed. See Arty Fice.

Fifth day: A setback. Slept most of the day. Drove around a bit and took a few photos and shot a little video. Hope to upload that someday...

View from Abhiquiu Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Sixth day: Alright now, think I'm gonna live. Mr. Artyfice suggests we drive to Abiquiu and see if we can salvage the time. My first meal--Abiquiu Inn. Wow. With a trout in my belly and my eyes full of desert, we headed out. I took over 400 photos, mostly from the car.

Near Ghost Ranch Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

The last night we stayed at the Hotel Parq (Albuquerque) that was so new everything worked. We were the unwashed coming in from the storm and we enjoyed the hotel robes--a lot.

And on the seventh day we drove home to an exquisite Arizona sunset and a gourmet dinner prepared by Ell and his girlfriend.

A few days later, as written in the last post, our trusty SUV lost its serpentine belt, which runs the water pump. Then, our washing machine broke. It was the water pump.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza
For once, I had a clean house. A dear family friend joined us for dinner Sunday, completing some kind of circle that I've yet to figure out. But, I see signs everywhere.
Not Like O'Keeffe Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

This is just a taste of what it's like traveling to New Mexico. It has its own reality--not to be trifled with. Loved, but not to be trifled with.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

So, I Shall Go There--New Mexico!

San Miguel Mission, Santa Fe (8" x 8", oil on artists' board), Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

The Good, the bad, the spectacular news.

What do you do when you've planned an artist's retreat for months, only to have it all fall apart due to illness?

We have choices, don't we? We can scrap everything. We can use we what we've learned through mindful meditation. We can redeem some portion of any time available.

This is what I did.

I left for New Mexico last July 28th, hoping to spend one night in Albuquerque and then on to stay for eleven days at the Gallina Canyon Ranch north of Abiquiu. Yes, that Abiquiu made famous by Georgia O'Keeffe. I packed everything, including all of my food and large canvases, pochades and palette tools.

Some kind of food borne illness got to me before I could get to Santa Fe.

There is so much that happened that I can't really write it all. Yet, I would like to say 'Thank you' to Elizabeth, one of the owners, and David, ranch employee, for more kindness, help and generosity than I would ever have expected from people I have never met. I would highly recommend traveling there because of the incredible beauty, but mostly for their beautiful spirits.

Enchanted by Juniper (8" x 8", oil on artists' board), Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

I let go of my plans, got well in Santa Fe, and decided that taking over 400 photos from the car would redeem some of what I had lost.

wearing my purple huaraches, Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

It was a proud moment standing at the entrance to the Ghost Ranch, turning to view the Pedernal that is now iconic as a result of O'Keeffe's work. I cried when I made it one mile onto the road that led to the ranch.


Something amazing happened while I was recovering in Santa Fe.

My son sent me a text that a packet had arrived from Flagstaff, AZ--not the usual rejection letter that an artist can receive in the mail after a submission...but a large envelope. Should he open it?

The spectacular news: I've been accepted as next summer's visual Artist-in-Residence at the Grand Canyon...for three weeks...an apartment on the rim...with a studio. Did I mention it would be for three weeks?

I'm kind of speechless.

P. S. Two days after I returned home, our vehicle's power steering belt jumped off its pulley. This could have happened two hours from Santa Fe, in the middle of the wilderness. It could have blown the engine, because the belt also drives the water pump. I accept that circumstances change and letting go can reveal the reasons later. I am grateful.

The Road to Ghost Ranch, NM Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Monday, July 18, 2011

Artist Melinda Dreams of New Mexico Through Encaustic

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Dream of Acoma, New Mexico (5" x 7", encaustic on encausticbord) I didn't completely crop the photo in order to show the rolled edge of the wax. Yum.

Oh, I'm still gonna paint, but these new toys of encaustic paint and supplies, and the smell of beeswax, are more thrilling today than the storm clouds that surround the Old Pueblo (Tucson).

Sometimes I play reader's roulette. It's a term I made up years ago and still use it every once in awhile. This time I practiced this technique with The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron:

I flipped through the pages and suddenly stopped at:

"Many of us have made a virtue of deprivation...We have used it to feed a false sense of spirituality grounded in being good, meaning superior. I call this seductive, faux spirituality, the Virtue Trap...We strive to be good, to be nice, to be helpful, to be unselfish." She then goes on to write something I'd like to pass along to all of you, if you're struggling with your paints, or struggling with your priorities:

"Come out, come out, wherever you are..." --page 98, 99.

Paint. Explore. Give yourself permission to be you without apology!
I'll be cheering from here.

Off in the margin was this great quote (my response--Puh!):

"Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, good mother, good looking, good-tempered, well-groomed, and unagressive." --Leslie M. McIntyre

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It Was a Party! The Sparkles Still Linger

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Well, that ole Philostrate, ahem, I mean Mr. Artyfice the Party Planner and his nifty assistant "Nemo" aka "The Bug" the Shakespearean Einstein graduate guy, went all out pulling off a kid's party for an oldster.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Wow. My best buds from around town came by to share in the fun. There was wand waving, funny glasses wearing, water pistol shootin', party hat stylin' silliness...AND...wait for it...
An encaustic play session.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Whoo-hoo!

Sparkles still linger on the walls--May last for weeks.

I've had an encaustic kit just waiting for some artist friends to get things started.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

This is the result. You may recognize this image from Sabino Hill on a Snowy Day. It's the painting that made it into the Arizona Biennial '09 . This encaustic piece is on a 5" x 7" encausticbord.

Are you painting, enjoying the summer, looking forward to cool weather and more painting? What a week...Hoping all is well with all of you.