The Art of Making Mistakes..

Wonderful post! Reblogging…

The Secret Kingdom


Throughout The Secret Kingdom you will find several little drawings that I made using a ball-point pen.

I did all the interior illustrations for Lemon Bee and Other Peculiar Tales with just a pen and paper.

I love to draw in pen.


Because you can’t make mistakes.

Well, technically you CAN make mistakes.. but drawing in pen teaches you to not be defeated by mistakes.

Big difference.

Drawing in pen teaches you to be creative.

Drawing in pen teaches you to bounce back.

When mistakes do happen.. and they will

do you just trash the whole thing and start over?


You work through it.

You get creative.

You bounce back.

Such is life.

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Show extended after PBS coverage; Thrift store makeovers


Good China in the Bad Desert, Acrylic on deep edged panel, 48 x 20 in. $600

“DRY” Extended into at least early August due to interest after media coverage

After PBS’s show, Horizon, covered the art show I’m in, there was a lot of interest from people who had not seen the show. So, gallery owner Robrt Pela decided to extend the show into August, (when the gallery had been planning to be be closed until the September show opened). So, if you missed the art show, it is still there and will be for a little while!  Below is the gallery site, and a link to the Horizon segment covering the show, in case you missed that, too:

R. Pela Contemporary Art Gallery, Phoenix AZ:

PBS Horizon, Art Beat coverage of “Dry” show at R. Pela gallery 22 July 2014:



A thrift store makeover (and some paintings on bottle caps) in progress. Reprint being altered is Robert Zund’s “Way to Emmaus,” originally painted in the 1800’s.

Thrift store makeover sold

Another thrift store makeover has sold, this time a take off on Robert Zund’s 1800’s painting, “Way to Emmaus,” (a cardboard reprint of it)!  I added some giant chickens, a pensive peanut, a monster, and a gave Jesus a balloon. A buyer saw my post about it on Facebook and snapped it up. Yay!

A painting of this era is in the public domain due to age, copyrights having expired. While alterations are the copyright of the new artist who comes along and changes a public domain image, the original unaltered version remains in the public domain. There could be many altered versions of this around though I don’t know of any.  Initially I was just going to add the balloon, but of course that was not going to stand. I had to add chickens, etc.  The above image was  nearly complete.  I’ll probably offer it printed on products on my redbubble site, haven’t decided which ones yet, but I tested out the templates for products and really liked Jesus with a balloon for the cell phone cases.  Subtle but irreverent.

Because of a request I’ll be doing more thrift store makeovers. I will never lose interest in painting birds but as most artists do, I sometimes like to shift focus to something different. A new medium or subject, or whatever. Doing more thrift store makeovers is what excites me right now, so I’ll be scouring local thrift stores for reprints of classics especially.  Below is one I did earlier this year, while it was still in progress. (It also sold).


Work in progress shot, adding birds to thrift store reprint of Rembrandt’s Girl in an Open Door, (originally painted in the 1600’s). This was completed for a show in April 2014 and sold. I ended up painting out the white scratch. At first I was going to capitalize on what it obviously looked like, but it was just “too much poop” even for me, LOL!

On PBS’s Horizon tonight

If you’ll be in front of your TV tonight check this out! I’m told that the show I have a painting in at R. Pela Contemporary Art is going to be covered on tonight’s episode of Horizon on PBS (channel 8) here in the Phoenix area.  Here is the channel guide for our local PBS stations:

The gallery is still open by appointment until we the show is taken down at the end of the month, so if you wanted to see it hurry, it’s not going to be there much longer! Gallery link:

Anxious to see what they say. Not sure if it’s an interview with the gallery owner, a visit to the show, or both, or something entirely different.

Blogs For Artists

Good collection of blog links by David McDonough!

David McDonough's Art Blog

Whatever your interest, the internet’s got it. From tips and tricks, to news and reviews, if art is your thing, you’ll dig the following blogs.


I love art blogs. Here are some of my favorites:


Billing itself as a forum for playful, serious, and radical perspectives on art and culture in the world today, Hyperallergic pulls no punches – case in point, this review of Jeff Koons at the Whitney.

Art F City

In addition to blunt criticism, Art F City keeps it casual with a section called STUFF. Basically, STUFF is a look inside the lives of artists through their personal possessions. A unique peak inside the creative mind.


With tons of articles on how to launch and grow a successful art or craft business, Aryshark is a valuable resource for artists at any stage of their career. Art + Business is especially useful.


Like Artyshark, Artpromotivate provides lots of…

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Taking a sketchbook (almost) everywhere


Monster with Soul Patch, graphite pencil on paper, 7 x 5 inches, Cindy Schnackel

The other night, I went to my husband’s recreational hockey game, where I knew there would be about a half hour before the game, and after, for all the changing, showering, etc.  I almost always take something interesting to do, usually a sketchbook and basic pencils or pens. This time, I was in the mood to do some graphite drawing. I like Ebony pencils, they’re very black and soft, though it’s not the only kind I use. Also, I had one of those little rolled paper stomps, to blend small areas.  I had a small eraser to re-pick out some highlights that got smudged.  When I got home I sprayed it with a non aerosol fixative called Spectrafix, which I like because it is far less toxic than most fixatives.

If you like to use wet media, (which I do too),  there are at least two brands of the water pens; mine’s Pentel’s Aquash.  I believe Koi and Niji also make water brushes. I first got one during a Pentel demo at an art supply store awhile back. The brush tip is really nice, and they’re great to use with ink pens that have at least a bit of water solubility to them, or water soluble pencils, (color or graphite). I fill mine with distilled water, because I don’t know if the minerals in tap water might eventually build up.

The easiest thing to take traveling could be a ballpoint pen. You can get multi-color ones and overlap strokes, creating nearly any hue you like.  There is some amazing ballpoint pen work out there. Some people get into photorealism with it but it can be much more. Here’s an article about ball point pen art, albeit  probably not done in a few minutes on the bus:

On a long trip or long wait somewhere, I’d be lost without some way to create.  Absent drawing tools, I may fold paper, play with my food, arrange dust, or scratch concrete with a rock.   It can be mesmerizing to just get lost in the shading and details, or whatever process you choose, and before you know it, the long boring wait is over.


The Story of “Good China in the Bad Desert”


Good China in the Bad Desert, acrylic on panel, 48 x 20 inches, $600, available in July 2014 at R. Pela Contemporary Art, Phoenix, Arizona

Sometime in the spring of 2013 I was wandering the aisles of a lumber store, looking for the scrap bin.  It was all part of my effort to reuse, recycle, and repurpose, so that at least some of my art was made from things that would otherwise end up in landfills.  I enjoy painting on panels, so when I saw a large scrap of hardboard, or as some call it, Masonite, I grabbed it. At home on the patio, in beautifully pleasant Phoenix spring weather, I sealed it well and just let my intuition tell me what to paint, as is my M.O.

The painting started out as a blue sky, mountains, and vague desert-y foreground. I’d work on plants and detail once I knew where the main characters would be.  Without really thinking about it too consciously, I was  deciding where blocks of color would be compositionally, such as reddish over here, green over there, what shape, etc.  I also got absorbed in the colors of distant mountains as I just think those hazy purply, blue, and earthy colors are pretty in real life, so they are mesmerizing to paint, too.

Of course, I knew it’d be populated with creatures, I just didn’t know what at first.  As the painting progressed, the cacti became animated.

Detail of Good China in the Bad Desert

Detail of Good China in the Bad Desert

Then, they were chasing a set of dishes. I don’t know why.  Above is a detail of an iconic southwestern art element, the cow skeleton. Of course, mine’s upright and walking, joining the dish chasing chaos, not lying passively in the dirt.

Detail of Good China in the Bad Desert

Detail of Good China in the Bad Desert

Something unusual about this one is there is not one single bird in it.  Once the characters were in place I started filling in more detailed vegetation.  I love glazing to bring out details and shadows, so I did quite a lot of that, and am sure I also changed my mind about a few things and moved them around a bit. I enjoy contrasts to bring out things, or blurring and subtler contrasts to push back edges. If an area is too dark I paint a light opaque over it and it just gets incorporated as I go, adding, subtracting, glazing, scumbling, shading, maybe some spattering, and near the end adding the tiny details like thorns, glints in eyes, etc.

Detail of Good China in the Bad Desert

Detail of Good China in the Bad Desert

The title just kind of came to me, after it was done. And it can take awhile to know I’m really done, when I don’t know where I was going in the first place.  Perhaps it’s when I’m satisfied and amused.  I let most pieces sit for awhile to think about it, then when some undefined amount of time has passed and I’m happy with it, I decide the piece is done.  At that point I do what’s necessary to even out the sheen and photograph it, (not necessarily in that order), and upload an image of it to the internet to market it. (Usually my redbubble page is the first to get it.)

Detail of Good China in the Bad Desert

Detail of Good China in the Bad Desert

Detail of Good China in the Bad Desert

Detail of Good China in the Bad Desert

This painting is unframed, but has deep wood edges that are finished to go with the artwork. I added the ‘cradling’ from scrap lumber, too. The edges are approximately 2 inches deep. It is wired and ready to hang.

I personally think a frame molding that is ornate yet southwest-y, almost poking fun at southwest art, would look great on this piece.  Not weathered wood necessarily, but maybe something whimsical with big ‘carving’ type details?  For the price of a custom frame I decided it would be best not to force my taste on anyone else, so I’ll let the buyer decide if they want to frame it, and what style of frame.


Examples of picture-hanging hooks. No particular brand recommended, these are just what we can get readily in stores here.

As with all large paintings, we hang them from wall hooks made for picture hanging, and sturdy enough for the weight of the piece.  If you use TWO hooks, especially on wide artworks, the picture is easy to level and tends to stay that way!  The nails used for these hooks are thin but strong, and come out easy when you want, but stay in until then. The hooks and often the nails too are reusable. You can even get the hooks with an extra clip, which makes them very hard to just lift off the wall, if it’s in a public place. Regular nails and screws will pull downward eventually, especially with larger work.  The picture hanging hooks are sold in framing, art, hardware, lumber, and craft stores. They’re not expensive. Even the massive kit to hang work that weighs much more than this piece is only a few dollars, well worth the investment to save an art piece from crashing to the floor unexpectedly!  What’s not to love about them compared to ordinary nails and screws?

I enjoy the details and absurdness in this painting, and hope that its eventual buyer will, too.

Please contact the gallery about purchase; it will be there through most of July 2014, by appointment if you miss the opening!

Opening night is Friday, 4 July, 6 p.m.!  R. Pela is located at 335 W. McDowell, Phoenix.

The art show is free to view. There is a paid event there about artists lives in the desert on Friday July 18th. See gallery site for details.