Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Memories

Reflecting on all those we love.
We don’t stop often enough and think of the very many ways that our service men risked their lives for us each and every day, not only in war but in natural catastrophes as well. I am so grateful for all that they have done and are doing for us.

my dad….David Swartwout – Coast Guard

My dad was proud to serve his country in the Coast Guard during WWII. Besides protecting our freedoms during the war, my dad was also an artist for the service men. Drawing and painting was always his passion and later his career. In high school, he was the newspaper cartoonist and he continued cartooning in the Coast Guard to entertain and cheer up the troops. He lived 40 years past the end of the war, had a very successful art career and, with my mom by his side, raised a family. He managed to turn all three girls into artists. I am so blessed.

Betty and Dave

Memorial Day also marks the day that I lost my mom 4 years ago. She was one of the first civilian women draftsmen for the Coast Guard. During the war, she drew up the blue prints and plans for the ships and destroyers. To read more about my mom click here.

Reflecting back on all my loved ones that are gone, I have so much to be thankful for, most of all for their love. Good memories never die, their love is with you always.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Little Kids to Big Kids

Where do the big kids go to play? How about Yellowstone National Park, just south of Bozeman. That is where Inger, Howard and I went last week. It is a great place to see animals of all kinds. In one day, we saw 16 different species of animals and lots of baby bison! Yellowstone is a great place to study animals and get good reference.

I love to paint wildlife. They capture such a feeling of independence. One of my favorite critters is elk. They are so regal! I created this oil painting of a little elk herd in January. It is currently at Montana Trails Gallery in Bozeman.

ps…… still snowing in Bozeman today….sigh.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

the ties that bind

Do we really know, right from the beginning, that our little childhood playmates would mean so much to us as we grow older? No, we just played and had great fun. Years later, now that we have experienced the bumps and bruises of life, we can look back to those blissful years of innocence and really treasure our buddies.

One such play pal from my past has come to our house for a two-week visit and arrived last Friday. The fact that we are even in communication again is a miracle story. Inger and I met when she was 6 years old. She grew up right across the street from my house. We played together almost every day. Here is a photo of Inger (right) and myself (left). We were around the age of 5 or 6 when these were taken.
Then we each went off to college and somehow we lost touch as friends sometimes do.

32 years later, through a series of amazing events and to both of our amazement's, we found each other in St. Paul de Vence, Provence, France! I was teaching watercolors and oils to artists from the United States and Britain and she had been living there for many years. We chose a quaint café to meet. Once again our friendship bloomed. Thirty-two years is a long time and we have had lots to catch up on.

And so the bond continues. Somewhere in our lives there really is a thread of continuity that weaves us all together. I am just thrilled to have her in my life again and see this thread come full circle.

This painting, Little Bugs, is a reminder of just such friendships!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Howard Mandville Gallery

The Howard Mandville Gallery in Kirkland, Washington held their 38th Anniversary Show on Saturday from 5 to 8. I had 3 new paintings in this show:

Laundry Day
8 x 10 Oil
I painted this last September in Vence, Provence, France.

The Visitor
8 x 10 Oil
Also painted on the same trip last fall in Vence, Provence, France.

Top of the Stairs
15 x 30 Oil
This painting is of a friends dog named Diego, he was watching all the Thanksgiving activities from the top of the stairs. I added a ball to create a bit of a story and an environment.

The show will be up for several weeks. Wish I could attend!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


…Just thinking about my mom today. It is, after all, Mother’s Day. Betty was a very special, smart and beautiful lady, a quiet artist with an unquenchable thirst for creativity. She designed clothes without patterns, made every craft project known to man, then turned to the fine arts, creating sculpture and mastering all of the drawing and painting processes. Her goal was to learn the ways of the mediums. Rarely did she take art lessons; instead, she found books and did research until she figured it out. She had no desire to make art her profession. Rather, she lived to explore the next new creative experience.
Mothers pass so many things on to their children, subtle mannerisms and not so subtle attitudes and philosophies. My mom loved the Lord and passed that on to all of us. She loved animals and plants. Not so surprisingly, my sisters and I have that trait too (though I often forget to water my plants). Threaded through my childhood are very strong memories of watching and helping my mom with art projects. She delighted in learning and then showing us. Art was a bond that the whole family enjoyed. Art equals love. And I got it!

Here is a painting that I did for her in 1996, “The Four Faces of Mom” a watercolor 15 x 21. Portraits should capture the nature of the person. In this case it took four faces to express what I wanted to say about my mom. I used old black and white photos of her when she was: a toddler, a 5 year old and 21, when she and my dad were married. I used a color photo for the image of her in her “grandma mode”. She was thrilled that I captured her youth as well as her mature beauty.

My mother is no longer physically on this earth and I miss her, however, she left a legacy of joy in me that flows into my paintings on a regular basis.

To my mom and all those many artist-moms out there, thanks for passing your love of art on to your little ones.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More than just a trip

This past week, Howard and I were down in Scottsdale, Arizona in the land of dessert flowers and art. We had a wonderfully full week of activities at the Oil Painters of America National Exhibition. Warm weather (a change from the snow we are still getting up in Montana - sigh) added to the delight of the week. From Studio and plein air painting to informative seminars and incredible demonstrations, dinners and brunches, there was more than enough for everyone to do. Artists from all over the country, including Canada and Mexico poured into the town. It was an artists’ pow-wow! Friends on Facebook were finally able to meet face to face. And of course there was the incredible National Exhibition. About 230 spectacular paintings are stunningly on display at the Legacy Gallery. The show will be up until the end of May and is available to view on the Internet as well. If you would like to see it for yourself, just click here. Magnificent is the word that comes to mind when I think about this show.

This year my painting was rejected, meaning it didn’t get juried into the show. There were over 2,600 entries and only 198 paintings that were accepted. It is titled Les Amis Vieux ( The Old Friends ) 20 x 20.

I was disappointed, but I didn't let that keep me from coming to the show! There are too many other reasons to attend! I was thrilled, however, for my husband, Howard Friedland, who did get his painting juried into the show and it looked wonderful. Le Bateau au Repos ( The Boat at Rest) 16 x 20

Years ago, as a young budding artist, I entered the national shows and was thrilled when I actually got a painting juried into a show. It was always a strain on my budget to enter these competitions and even more so to ship the painting if it was accepted. However, what I regret was that I didn’t follow my paintings to the show and attend the openings. Now I realize that attending the shows is where your world really expands. You meet like-minded people with the same goals and questions; you make links all over the country with artists and patrons, you meet the editors of magazines and you meet the gallery owners.

And about the shows….Way beyond the thrill of seeing your painting, your friends painting or a painting of an artist that you admire, hanging proudly on the walls…. the total concept of viewing a national show as a unit, standing in the middle of the show and seeing how the paintings project to the viewers is an awesome experience. If I am lucky and one of my paintings is hanging in a show, then I can really see how my paintings look side by side with others.

I already have another competition in mind that I would like to enter my piece in. My philosophy is this….If you believe in your painting, but it is rejected, just enter it again in another show. The same painting that got rejected could get an award in the next show. Never get discouraged by rejection. That is part of being an artist. Besides, the rejections can teach us way more than the acceptances and awards!

So, as my dad always said….”Back to the Drawing Board” or in my case…. the EASEL!