Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Memorial Day weekend was great, but too short as usual!! Nate wanted to look at one of our pieces of property in Steamboat Springs to decide where the best spot for the house would be, so we ended up taking a last minute trip up to the mountains with my parents.

The front range is pretty dry this spring since we haven’t gotten much rain, but the other side of the divide is another story. Steamboat got so much snow this winter that there are still spots on Rabbit Ears Pass where the snow is 4-5 feet deep, and the town itself has been painted green by all the runoff. The Yampa River is actually over its banks in spots – we took a walk downtown and had to cross the railroad tracks a few times because the trail was underwater!

When we got into town, we went over to check out the property right away. When we bought the three lots this winter, they were under about 6 feet of snow, so it’s interesting to see what’s underneath! Two of the lots are in a neighborhood that sits on the South shore of Stagecoach Lake. The picture shown here is from the upper lot looking across the lake (and not really the most scenic shot from the property). The lower lot is down near the car – it’s relatively flat and has a nice little stream that runs through it in the spring. The upper lot is just one big hill so it will be a more difficult build (this is the lot we drove up to see – had to figure out how best to dig a foundation on that hill). These lots have no power or sewer – the houses in this area depend on solar and wind power, and wells for water. The funny thing is that the area does have phone service and high speed internet!

Our third lot is my favorite, but I don’t have any pictures. It’s up the pass a ways, behind the first lots and away from the lake. It’s about an acre and the back end of the lot drops into a ravine with a hillside of pine and aspen. This lot has power, but no water/sewer.

The original plan was to build a cabin for ourselves on one lot, and build spec homes on the two other lots. Now we’re thinking that we’ll just put all three up for sale when they’re built, and see what happens. This area is a popular spot for Steamboat “locals” to live since the cost of housing in town is so prohibitive. If we could sell all three houses for a decent profit, we could then buy something closer to town. That’s the goal anyway – we seem to always change our minds!

Anyhow, someday we’ll have some sort of property to call our own in the mountains. I’d love to spend summers in Steamboat - I’m not sure at this point if I’d want to live there full time (it’s COLD in the winter!!). We’ll see….

Monday, May 22, 2006

I Heart Pickles and Ice Cream

I don't think I've said anything here yet, so for those who don't already know - I'm pregnant!!

Actually, remember a while ago when I was posting on the status of my New Year's Resolutions? I made a statement that I was NOT pregnant. Well, I was wrong. Turns out I was - just didn't know it until the next day!

I'm right at about 12 weeks (due Dec. 5th), and we had our first ultrasound last week where we got to see our little bubble moving around like crazy in-utero. Needless to say, Nate and I are really excited - this is going to be a year of a lot of changes for us!

My hope right now is that I'll be able to quit my job and stay home to be a mom and paint. I don't know what that will look like since it's still a long way off, but I know that my current job and having kids wouldn't mix. The stress overload and the lack of any schedule flexibility whatsoever make it something I just don't want to try - especially since I don't care all that much for engineering. So, if things work out I'll paint a few days a week and be a mom and see how that works out for a while.

Anyhow, it's been an overwhelming couple of months. For starters, I'm completely exhausted. Luckily I'm not puking, but I've had a hard time getting much done as it is. My painting marathon in April left me completely burned out, and I haven't done much painting since then. Because I'm planning to quit my job eventually, I've completely lost all motivation at work. And because I'm not getting anything done at work OR in the studio, I feel like a complete sloth. Unfortunately, feeling like a sloth when I have a lot to do just makes me more overwhelmed!!

So, I'm hoping things will improve soon. I've been so tired that I just don't seem to care about anything, and that just isn't me. I've been feeling a bit better the past few days, and I'm hoping it's a sign that I'll get more energy in the 2nd trimester. Nate and I went for a nice bike ride Saturday night, and hiked 6 miles yesterday. I had to take it a lot easier than I'm used to, but I felt like myself again for the first time in weeks. Hopefully the feeling sticks around - I have a commission for two landscapes that I NEED to get started on, and I need to start getting more done at work!!

Oh, and for the record, I ALWAYS love pickles and ice cream (by themselves, not together), but I was at a loss for a title today, so there you go...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Out to Prove Something

I wonder sometimes how many artists are occasionally motivated by the desire to prove other people wrong in their notions about what a career in the arts is all about.

I know I am, but sometimes I think that’s because I’m constantly surrounded by people who don’t take art very seriously.

I work full time as an engineer, and engineers (and perhaps accountants) should be placed at the very top of the list of people who think that art is not a practical career choice. The people I work with think it’s just plain odd that I paint – they don’t really know what to make of it. Apparently it’s unheard of for someone to be an engineer and into anything remotely artsy.

Because I went to an engineering school for college, most of my friends are also engineer types. When I tell people I plan to eventually drop engineering and paint full time, I get replies that fall into one of two categories. The first includes jokes ranging from, “Glad your husband has a good job,” to the oh-so-polite, “Well, there’s a reason they call them starving artists.” The second is the more positive response category, which includes any response that implies that a person approves of the idea of quitting what you tolerate to do what you love.

More and more, I find myself judging my friends by which of these categories their responses fall into. I’m very defensive – if someone who I consider a friend makes a snide comment about the money-making potential of art, I seem to unconsciously check them off of my list of allies.

Apparently this art stuff is really important to me. After all, you could make degrading comments about engineering all day and I would laugh along with you. I have no such lenience about art!

I’ve met plenty of artists who make a decent living and are able to support their families with their art. It’s damn hard work, and it takes some sacrifice, but it’s possible. And everytime somebody makes me feel like it’s not, it’s just more fuel for me to prove to them that it is.

It might take me a while to get there, but I’m working on it. I’m always up for a good challenge!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Not Worthy

I just found out a few weeks ago that I’ll have the opportunity to join 15 other artists in August at the Forbes family ranch in Southern Colorado for a week and a half of painting on what happens to be the largest conservation easement in Colorado.

I’m jazzed about this for countless reasons. For starters, I’ll get to spend nine CONSECUTIVE days painting, which is pretty much unheard of for me. Second, I’ll be painting on a ranch that I would never get to visit otherwise, which happens to consist of 250 square miles of the Colorado scenery I’m addicted to painting. And I’ll get to spend some quality time with a group of talented artists outside of the typical workshop setting. The residency is also going to provide some good publicity in American Artist magazine, and a show at the Forbes Galleries in New York. What more could I ask for?

To be completely honest, when I sent in my application a couple of months ago I thought there was no way I would be accepted. So, now that I’ve found out I get to go, I’m feeling a bit of trepidation. You know - like am I really qualified to be a part of this group?

I was doing fine until I got the list of participants and spent an afternoon googling them (what would I do without the internet?). Among the group of fifteen are a few folks from the Art Students League in NY, a guy who is an art history professor, another guy who teaches at a well-known atelier, a handful of very successful established artists from the West, and a couple of younger people who have university art degrees and have studied in fancy places like Italy

Then there’s me. I’m a chemical engineer. I design air pollution control systems 40 hours a week and paint when I can fit it in. I’ve only been painting landscapes since 2002. I don’t have ANY formal art education. I’ve taken four workshops with landscape artists whose work I respect, which count for a total of only ELEVEN days of instruction. On top of that I’ve taken a couple of figure drawing/painting classes through the continuing ed department at an art school in town. My mantra as I enter the art world is, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Faking it is what I do, since I don’t really have any fancy credentials.

I feel woefully unprepared to hang out with this group of people for nine days. What will I have to say? I’m just sure that I know nothing about art compared to everyone else there. Eeek!!!

BUT! Because I’m a little bit freaked out, I know that this will be a valuable experience. That’s how it always works. The things that are easy usually don’t teach you anything, right? I just hope I can contribute something to this group of accomplished people. Maybe I’ll have a different perspective. Who knows? I guess I’ll find out!!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Wide Open Spaces

After college, Nate and I moved to Houston and bought our first house in what was most definitely suburbia. I used to go jogging on the streets of my neighborhood, and think of how I would be so much more hip if I lived downtown. I wanted to sell our big house with a pool and buy a cool townhome in Memorial Park or the Heights, and spend my weekends jogging around the Rice University Campus and hanging with friends at trendy restaurants and bars.

I thought that this would make me happy. I thought this was the type of life you should have when you’re only 22.

I wasn’t very honest with myself.

Seriously, what a joke. The person that I really am used to mourn every night that I couldn’t see the stars in Houston because of the humidity and pollution. I used to run at sunset on a deserted country road on the outskirts of our neighborhood, because it was the closest I could get to some open space and peace. I didn’t feel like myself for two years because I couldn’t sleep with the windows open and wake up to the smell of cut grass and rain. Sometimes I would jump in the car and drive and hour out of town just to remind myself that the world wasn’t all strip malls and highways.

I only lasted two years in Houston, and then I moved back home to Colorado. It wasn’t because I had a boring house in the ‘burbs and a job I didn’t like – it was because so much of who I am is wrapped up in wildness and the great outdoors.

I’m just not a city girl. I’m old enough now to be honest with myself about that.

I think I could live downtown for about week, after which time I would start craving the wide open spaces and red dirt trails that are home to me.

Being outdoors reminds me that there’s a whole world out there. Outside of the little sphere of my own life, the seasons continue to change and the stars continue to shine. The world goes on outside of my own drama.

When I step out the door and go for a hike, a trail run, a bike ride, or a backpacking trip, it’s because I have to. Sometimes I just need to be grounded. I need to be brought back down to reality. I need to be reminded that there’s lot of beauty in the world that we take for granted, and that none if it has anything to do with me.

And that’s why I paint. Because I want other people to see what I see, when they otherwise might not notice.

It’s as simple as that.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Busy busy...

Yay! April is over!! The entire month was so crazy busy that I’m glad to see it go. Way too many things to do, and not enough time.

I feel like I’ve done nothing but work, eat, paint, and sleep for an entire month.

A bunch of the paintings that I dropped at the gallery last month sold, which was fantastic, but meant that I had to produce another batch for them to hang ASAP! I had been working on one big painting since the beginning of the month, so I spent the past two weeks in a flurry of painting trying to produce a few smaller paintings to frame.

It’s a great feeling to be selling, and I feel like I’m on the right path in my transition from engineer to painter, but I’m exhausted!! I feel like I’ve been working two full time jobs, with no time for anything else.

Luckily, I put the finishing touches on all the paintings this weekend, and got them framed and signed and out the door. This painting is the largest of the batch – it went out the door this morning with the paint still wet.

Title: “Last Light – Beaver Creek”
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 24x30”

In real life, the foreground of this painting was a golf course fairway with pond and obnoxious fountain included. I had to do some creative editing to eliminate the golf green and fountain!!

I’m taking a break from painting tonight. It’s been beautiful outside lately and I haven’t been able to enjoy it, so I’m going for a nice easy bike ride after work and then I’m going to go to sleep EARLY!