Just Plain Pix Blog

Welcome to the new Just Plain Pix Blog.  We'll hopefully be adding information on a regular basis regarding pastel painting, photography, Denver Metro events and reports on some of the best places to take your wheelchair in Colorado.  For other information about wheelchair access in Colorado, you can go to scootershots.us

Just Plain Pix Journey to the Art Festivals

``vals. Anyway, perhaps the time off was a blessing in disguise, because I decided to focus on my painting instead.

In late winter of 2009, I decided that I have a large enough body of work now and that just maybe, it is good enough to be seen by the public. So I put myself out there and applied to some local art festivals with my pastel paintings. Well, I can definitely tell you that it is very different, from a emotional point of view to enter your paintings rather than your photography. You have a much deeper, personal connection to your painted work, than a photograph - at least I do. It was pretty difficult to get turned down for my photography - it is an even deeper psychological hit to get turned down for the painting that you have put hours and your heart and soul into. But, I found some courage and submitted some applications.

The first show that I applied to was the Downtown Denver Art Festival. This is a fantastic show, and is only open to Colorado artists. It is over Memorial Day weekend and is held at the 16th Street mall, funnily enough, in downtown Denver. Jim Delutes runs the whole thing and he is a great guy. Unfortunately, I was turned down for this one. Not even on the waiting list. I have no idea if it was my artwork not being up to par, or an error I made on the application process. (They do offer to let you know how you were juried, but I didn't have enough guts to hear it). At the time I had filled out the application, I had not yet had the chance to get my new tent set up with my pastel paintings. So I sent in my application with my booth shot from the shows with my photography. Our old photography boothThis is a big no-no. The jury members want to see if you have a complete body of work and that it matches with the art that you sent in for the jury process. Needless to say, my photography didn't match up with my pastels and I'm going to assume that this is why I did not get into this show. At this point in the application process, I'd much rather think that it was the booth shot and not that my work wasn't good enough. But it was a pretty big blow to the old ego. I now had to decide if I had enough courage to try again (I really HATE rejection).

Somewhere deep down, I found some more backbone and decided to try again. I applied to Pike's Peak Art Festival, Golden Fine Arts Festival, Castle Rock Artfest, Evergreen Fine Arts Festival, Aspen Fine Arts Festival, Beaver Creek Fine Arts Festival, Frisco Fine Arts Festival, and Littleton Art and Music Festival. I figured if I applied to a bunch of them, maybe one would let me in. I'll detail the application process and our acceptances and rejections to this point (yup more rejections - but we have been accepted to more than one WAHOO!!)

not get into this show. At this point in the application process, I'd much rather think that it was the booth shot and not that my work wasn't good enough. But it was a pretty big blow to the old ego. I now had to decide if I had enough courage to try again (I really HATE regection). Somewhere deep down, I found some more backbone and decided to try again. I applied to Pike's Peak Art Festival, Golden Fine Arts Festival, Castle Rock Artfest, Evergreen Fine Arts Festival, Aspen Fine Arts Festival, Beaver Creek Fine Arts Festival, Frisco Fine Arts Festival, and Littleton Art and Music Festival. I figured if I applied to a bunch of them, maybe one would let me in. I'll detail the application process and and our acceptances and regections to this point (yup more regections - but we have been accepted to more than one WAHOO!!)

Our New Pastel Booth

Pike's Peak Arts Festival in Colorado Springs

I just received the acceptance letter for my first art show for my pastel paintings.  We've shown my photography for a few years and took last year off because of my service dog Katya's cancer.  She was only given a few weeks to a couple of months to live, but her will has far outshown anything.  It has been almost 2 years now, and she is till going strong.  She was even written up by our oncologist, Dr Elmslie ( it is the January/Feb 2009 issue).  Anyway, in taking the year off, I decided to concentrate on my pastels instead of the photography.  Guess its paid off a bit.

The show is on the 4th of July weekend at the America the Beautiful Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The park is at I-25 and Hwy 24 Cimarron (take the Cimarron exit off of 25).  Hours are:

Friday: 4pm - 7:30pm

Saturday: 10am - 6pm

Sunday: 10am - 5pm

We hope to see you there!  If you would like more information about the festival, their website is Pike's Peak Art Fest.  

Ampersand Pastelboard Trial - Finale

I've finished my pastelboard painting of orchids and now have it framed. While, I'm not sure I like the frame, I LOVE how easy it was to frame the board. I like the look of unmatted pastel paintings, to me it gives them more a look of an oil. With the pastelboard, all I had to do was put Ecnospace spacers on the glass, but the board on the spacers and close up the frame. How easy is that? The money that I spend on the extra cost of the board, I more than made up for in not having to purchase conservation matboard and mounting, not to mention the time saved in cutting the mats. So all in all, I rate the Ampersand pastelboard an A. Its easy to use, blends very nicely, can frame up without mats and the pastels go down well on it. The downsides are the cost, and the fact that it is very easy to get groves and lines in the board (from the labels or from very minor rubbing). You've got to be a lot more careful with this board that you'd think. But these grooves can be filled in with pastel, and in my mind, the positives can far outway the negatives.

Frametek econospacers can be purchased at Framing Supplies or from Frametek Direct. They are adhesive backed. All you need to do is peel off the adhesive and stick it on the glass, in the rabbet of the frame. It comes in quite a few different sizes and definitely makes framing pastels much easier, as it gives you the extra space necessary so that any loose pastel dust falls to the bottom of the frame, rather than on the glass.

I then put the Pastelboard against the spacers and closed the back of the frame. Pretty darn easy.

Ampersand Pastelboard Trial Pt2

Well, I've pretty much finished my painting on the pastelboard.  I was rather surprised to have to say, that I really like the board as a painting surface.  When I first ran my fingers over the board, it didn't feel anything like the LaCarte which I'm most comfortable with.  However, it blends very nicely, especially when you've got a good bit of pastel down and unlike the LaCarte, it won't evaporate if it gets wet.  For me, that is one of the only reasons why I was looking for a substitute for the LaCarte, that and I like to frame without mats, and it would me much easier on a sturdier support.  I have a catahoula service dog who is by my side 24/7 and if he shakes his head and drools lands on the paper, or I sneeze, there are now spots on the card that pastel won't cover.  I guess it has something to do with the vegetable fibers or something, but it makes the paper very touchy to say the least.  But so far, LaCarte is the only paper that allows you to "push" the various colors of pastel around on the paper until you get a blending that you like, at least that I've found.  You can most certainly finger blend the ampersand very nicely, it just doesn't have the ability to "shift" the color around like the LaCarte.  It is definitely as close as I've found to this point.  I am going to try the Uart sanded paper next, and I'll post my results as soon as I'm done.  I'm planning to frame the orchid painting today, and I'll also post my results with that.

Orchid on Blue

The painting is entitled "Duet" (thanks to Donna T for help with the title).  It is 9"x12" on Ampersand Pastelboard and done with Sennelier, Mt Vision and NuPastel.

Ampersand Pastelboard Trial

Today, I'm using Ampersand Pastelboard for the first time. My pastel paintings are usually done on Sennerlier's LaCarte paper, but I wanted to try a firmer support. I am also interested in framing without a mat and I'm hoping that pastelboard might be the answer. I'm working on a painting of an orchid.Orhids

I thought that I'd do something a bit different from the rodeo paintings that I've been doing for a while. However, the next piece is probably going to be the bull rider that I've got prepped and ready to go.

Bull Rider

At this point, on the pastelboard, I've painted in the background with PanPastels. I'm not sure how much I like it. The sponge that I was using to apply the PanPastels kept disintigrating onto the board, which was distracting to say the least. I'll keep the deep ultramarine color which I used for the background until I get more of the orchid painted in. Then I'll take another look at it and make a final decision. I'll post a photo of the WIP tomorrow.    I work in a realistic manner and employ a lot of finger blending.  The LaCarte paper blends wonderfully and you are able to push the pastel dust in any different direction.  At this point, I haven't found another paper which blends as nicely.  I hoping that the Ampersand comes close.  I'll post my results tomorrow.

Hidden Memories - Part 2

Since this painting has a lot of original photographs and paperwork, my first thought was to print it out on Stonehenge drawing paper, paint most of it in pastel and leave the printed pieces, such as the discharge paperwork, as printed off of my printer.  

To accomplish this, I coated the Stonehenge with Ink Aid.  This is a fantastic coating which allows you to print with your inkjet printer onto almost any type of surface that you can get through your printer.  For more information on this product, click here InkAid.  I let the paper dry overnight, and then tried to feed it through my Hewelet Packard HP130nr printer the next morning.  I knew that the printer would give me some hiccups because I hadn't used it for a while, but I certainly wasn't expecting what I got.  I cleaned the printheads, and was able to get a good print on 11x17 paper.  Silly me, I thought that one good print would be enough.  I tried to feed the coated Stonehenge through the printer front feed, quite a few times but failed miserably.  I then switched it to the rear feed and was successful on the eighth try.  Phew.  I then sat back and let 'er rip.  Well, unfortunately, I got a good print for half of the 30x22 paper, and then the rest of it printed with a bright red cast.  I don't usually swear a whole lot, but there were some choice words coming out of my mouth at this point.

For the rest of the day, I tried cleaning printheads, changing printheads, reading forums, querying HP, and everything else that I could think of to make it print properly.  I've got a huge stack of half good prints here to prove it.  HP's answer was to call them in the morning and pay them $80.00 to help me.  By dinner time, I had had enough and quit.  The next morning, I was sufficiently calmed down enough to try one more time.  I searched the forums again, and found one spot of hope.  Someone suggested aligning the printheads and sure enough, that did the trick.  So, if anyone else out in internet land is searching to find a way to fix your prints with half a page with a bad color cast on them, do a printhead alignment.

At this point, I decided to take a good look at the piece of drawing paper that was already printed on.  I hadn't realized just how much "printed material" that I had in the composition.  It seemed that more than 1/3 of the painting was going to be printed.  That kind of seemed like cheating to me, so I thought that perhaps I would paint the printed matter in colored pencil, to keep the detail and do the rest in pastel.  So I coated the uniform, boots, canteen etc in Art Spectrum's pastel primer and left the rest uncoated.  I then started to paint the honorable discharge paperwork with Prismacolor colored pencils.  After getting the top left corner by the mess kit done, I realized that I had the lettering too dark, that it would look a lot more faded after sixty some years.  I tried to tone it down by going over and over it with a lighter french grey pencil, but I just wasn't being successful. I then took my battery powered eraser to it, and got most of the pencil off, with what I thought was no damage to the paper.  Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful again.  When I went back over top, I was getting a lot of wax buildup from the pencils and what looked like white gobs of wax.  I continued on, in a vain hope that it was just a small portion of what I had already painted, but wrong again.  I'm not sure what went wrong, but I'm guessing it has something to do with the original coating on the paper.  So, heads-up to anyone using InkAid and colored pencil, erasing it can be damaging.

My next step was to coat all of the areas where I was going to do colored pencil.  I didn't want to take a chance of a reaction with the Ink Aid, so I coated everything that wasn't previously prepped with Art Spectrum.  This time I used Liquitex clear gesso, which seems to have a very nice tooth all by itself.  My current plan is to paint the text with colored pencil and paint everything else with pastel, but my plans obviously don't seem to be going according to plan, so we'll see...

Hidden Memories Painting - WIP

I'm currently working on a new still life painting entitled "Hidden Memories".  This work is in honor of my Uncle Bob (Robert Nippes) who went to Europe to fight in World War II at the age of 17.  In this day and age of political strife, angst about the war against terrorism and focus being taken away from the family unit, I want to do a series of paintings about patriotism and what it means to be an American.  My husband and I both served our country and are extremely proud of this nation and all it stands for.  We might not agree with every single thing the government says, but we agree that we are US citizens and need to support our country to the best of our abilities.  That sentiment very sadly seems to be lacking in a number of people today, and even in some of those who want to help run our country.  I feel that there is probably very little I can say to change people's way of thinking, but I'm hoping that perhaps I can get folks look at my paintings and feel pride for their country and remember what millions of people in the past went through to give us the freedoms that we now take for granted.  If I can get even a couple of people to consider changing their mind about exactly what our country means to them, than I have accomplished my mission.

My uncle Bob served with the 3939th Gas Supply Company in World War II. This unit was attached to the 1st Special Engineer Brigade and took part in Exercise Tiger, D-Day and the Red Ball Express, to name a few.  As a teenager interested in attending the United States Military Academy, Bob told me tons of great stories of his time spent in Europe with the Army.  He was part of my inspiration for wanting to attend the military academy.  It was a very proud day for both of us when I packed up and left to pursue my dream at West Point.  It was an extremely depressing day for the both of us when I came home two years later, after being dismissed from the academy for medical reasons.  Apparently they don't think that you have much use as an officer if you can't walk, even if that is their own fault, but I guess that is a story for another day.

Hidden Memories is a still life painting which includes items from my Hidden-Memories_referenceuncle's time in the war.  It includes a WWII uniform dress jacket, with the insignia of my uncle's service.  It also has WWII boots, mess kit, canteen and dog tags - all items of daily use in the war.  Also included are a newspaper article about d-day, photos of my uncle during the war, and military paperwork.  The items are arranged as if these items were placed away in a drawer or trunk, and were just found after many years away in storage.  With all of the stories that I have heard throughout my life regarding Uncle Bob's service, I've never once heard about the actual fighting that he encountered.  Those memories seem to be tucked away in some special corner of my veteran's minds, not wanting to be recalled.  Thus my title of Hidden Memories.  It is those very awful moments for the veterans that are the most likely to be the very moments in time which changed the course of history.  I am so very proud that my uncle served his country in a time of dire need and I honor everything that he has done in his lifetime for both his country and our family.  He is one of the best men that I know.  He just turned 84 this month, and I dedicate this painting to you, my wonderful Uncle Bob.

Maggie Price Pastel Workshop in Littleton

I found out this weekend that Maggie Price will be holding a workshop at Terry Ludwig's facility in Littleton in July of 2009.  Maggie is the author of Painting with Pastels which you can purchase by clicking here.  She paints gorgeous pastel landscapes.  She participates a lot on Wet Canvas and has always been extremely helpful with answering questions and giving advice.  I have not yet taken one of her classes, but will be signing up for the workshop in Littleton and will also be taking one of her classes at the IAPS convention in May of 2009.  The workshop is from July 10-12th and is $350.00.  You can click here for more information.  If you haven't been to Terry Ludwig's facility, you are really missing out.  Terry manufactures some of the best pastels out there, has some of the greatest colors and is a genuinely nice guy to boot. No, I don't own any stock in the company :-)  I attended a workshop by Dianna Ponting at Terry's place last summer and had a wonderful time.  I came out of that class with a whole new life to my pastels.  Dianna is also planning to teach a workshop in Littleton again in 2009, and if you like realism, I can't recommend her workshop enough.

Bear Creek Greenbelt - Part 1

Bear Creek Green belt in Lakewood, Colorado is one of my very favorite places to walk with the camera.  This isn't a location to go if you want some spectacular scenery, but if you just want to go out for a great walk where you just might run into some neat photo ops, this is the place to go.  Of course it is also one of my favorites because I live just up the hill from it.  There are lots of ways to get to the greenbelt, but today we are going to talk about the access off of South Pierce St.  You'll need to head north on S. Pierce St from the Hamden Ave Service Rd.  There is a good side walk on Pierce, all the way down to the bottom of the hill.  My scooter and two service dogs fit on it quite nicely.  At the bottom of the hill, the sidewalk disappears until you get to the trail.  For the vast majority of this stretch, you can cut into the parking lot of the Bear Creek Swim and Tennis club to get off of the street.  If you do this, you'll actually be on the street for around 30 feet.

Once you get to the trail, you can only head on it to the east.  This is connector trail, which takes you to the main greenbelt.  This section is probably a little less than 1000 feet.  Its a popular trail, so you'll probably run into bikers and walkers.  If you have a dog with you, please note that a lot of folks walk their dogs without leashes on this section and also exercise them off leash in the creek.

Despite the fact that it is a shortish section in a residential area, photo opportunities are here.  Early in the morning and at sundown you can find foxes, coyotes, rabbits, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, ravens, herons, ducks galore, and goldfinches.  The stream is beautiful and very accessible by the bridge.  I've been able to take my scooter down all the way to the water, and I've never gotten stuck.  There is a swampy drainage area that is full of cattails.  A friend of mine has walked by and seen a great blue heron pulling some sort of animal out of this area.  There are numerous wildflowers all along this walk.  I've seen grape hyacinths, daffodils (both wild), mexican hat, wild flax, coreopsis, bee balm, goat's beard and several other varieties of wildflower.

The trail on this section is a very wide concrete path.  It takes you all the way up to the bridge which crosses Bear Creek and ends up by Bear Creek High School.  Please note that there are a lot of high school kids who hang out by the bridge after school, so you might want to find a different time to visit.

Philly's Cheese Steak Grill in Lakewood, Colorado

Philly's is a new (November 2007) restaurant in Lakewood, Colorado.  If you like cheese steaks or hoagies - you will LOVE Philly's.  It is across from Red Robin at the west side of the intersection of Girton and Wadsworth (just north of Hamden (285) and Wadsworth).  The restaurant is run by Larry - sorry  Larry, I don't remember your last name.  He goes way out of his way to make everyone feel welcome.  They love having my service dogs there and Larry makes a point of coming out and greeting them whenever we come in.  The restaurant is wheelchair accessible, but please note that the seating with the tv's is up a step.  There is other seating available without access problems.  The food is delicious and custom orders are no problem.  I've designed my own sandwich there, a bacon melt, and it comes out perfectly every time, despite the fact that its not on the menu.  We all (dogs included) highly recommend stopping by Philly's if you are ever in southern Lakewood.  You can contact them at:

3333 S Wadsworth Blvd Lakewood, CO 80227

(303) 763-2222

Copyright 2008 by Just Plain Pix                                                                       Contact us at:  info@justplainpix.com