Kokopelli Conga

Kokopelli Conga
"A work of art that did not begin in emotion is not art." --Paul Cezanne

April 8, 2016

Paintings for Parkinson's 2016 - Our Story

Updated from April 2014 post...

December 2013

I was going to call this “my story,” but it’s really not about me. It’s about us. It’s about me and my husband, Steve, and our life together. Our story begins on January 9, 2004…our first date.

At age 30, while young in the grand scheme of things, I was nearly considered for spinsterhood here in Utah, where marriage between ages 18-25 is very common. When you pass that mid-twenties mark, you quickly find yourself in lonesome territory, where most of the men you meet in your age range are already married with kids. By 27 years old, it feels like your odds of finding a date, let alone husband, are almost nonexistent. By 30, you’d better resign yourself to the single life and make your peace with it! Not that I was on the hunt for a husband. In fact, I had settled into my life and reached a place where I was content. I had purchased a house, I had a good job, a cat, and I was able to set up my paints and easel in a corner of my dining room which officially became my “studio” area - where I could spend time painting almost every evening of the week.

Just like the cliché “It comes when you least expect it…” BAM! That’s when it happened. Right when I wasn’t looking. Right when I had made peace with my "spinster" life and was content. :) That’s when I met Steve. 

Our first date (bowling and pizza) - was a double date with my friend and her husband. And, despite the fact that he showed up with a BYU jacket on (bleh!) we had a lot of fun – an unexpected surprise for me. He was sweet, funny, had kind eyes and strong hands (it’s just one of my things!). Our first date led to a second, third, and so on.  We were engaged by March, and married in December. I was 31 at the time and Steve was 42. It was the first marriage for both of us. Despite a rough first year (as I think all couples have when blending two lives together), I was so happy that I had found my love and my soul mate, someone who appreciated who I was as a person and found me beautiful inside and out.

July 2010

Then, in the Spring/Summer of 2006, Steve developed a tremor in his left hand. Not extremely noticeable at first, but it was there. By December, he had a diagnosis of Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease (at age 44). Two years into our new marriage, the meaning of “in sickness and in health” really hit home for us. My gentle, sweet-natured, soft-spoken husband was given a life-long sentence of a debilitating disease with no cure. And, faced with this knowledge, we had to make new life plans together.

This was not my first exposure to Parkinson’s Disease. My Aunt had also been diagnosed with Young Onset PD in her 40’s and had been living with it for some time. But, it takes on new meaning for you when it is your spouse, your life partner, your soul mate, your best friend, your eternal companion. Let’s be honest. It SUCKS! It feels like a mountain has just been placed on your shoulders. Not just for the person diagnosed with PD, but for those who love that person as well.

For me, the next step was research. I feel better about tackling any problem if I feel well-informed. It might be difficult, but at least you can develop a plan of approach if you understand the details. For Steve, the next steps were harder. They were questions of “why me?” and struggles with feelings of loss – the loss of the life he thought he would have and the life he hoped we would have together, the things we would do, and so on. To be fair, I worried a little about those things as well. And, I worry about them sometimes now. What will the next decade bring? How much help will he need? Will we still be able to go do things we plan to do? I don’t know the answer to these questions. But, I DO know this. NEVER give up or give in without a fight. Okay…so there’s no cure for Parkinson’s Disease. As I said, it SUCKS! But, at least it’s not a terminal diagnosis. It’s not cancer, not HIV/AIDS, not a stroke or a fatal heart attack. He still has the use of his limbs, though not as coordinated as he once was. And, yes, life has changed. But, you adapt and change with it. That’s what we have done. You live with Parkinson’s.

In 2008, we welcomed into our lives a true angel and blessing, our first son. Born seven weeks early due to complications I was having, our little fighter (3 lbs, 15.25 inches long) spent five weeks in the NICU (or Special Care Nursery – as it is now called). Grueling, to be sure, but we all made it through. Two years later, in 2010, our second son was born. Thankfully, he was full term and a healthy 8 lbs 2 oz and 21 inches long. Our oldest is growing up fast and is so smart and sweet. Still an angel! Our younger son is super cute, super smart, full of energy, and fearless. (Honestly, sometimes a challenge!). Both are tremendous blessings in our lives.

So…what brings me to the Paintings for Parkinson’s idea?
Well, I like to be proactive as much as possible. There is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease. But, maybe there could be! We don’t know the cause of Parkinson’s Disease, and the only way to find better treatments and to find a cure is for medical research to be funded. Until Michael J. Fox came on the scene with his Young Onset PD diagnosis, and Muhammed Ali some time later - two very high profile public figures - not much attention was given to Parkinson’s Disease. PD has long been thought of as an “old person’s disease.” In reality, approximately 2% of those diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease are considered Young Onset (diagnosed before age 50). There are over 5 Million people living with PD worldwide, 1 Million in the U.S.; and there will be 60,000 new cases diagnosed this year in the United States. We felt that the Michael J. Fox Foundation was a good place to start supporting PD research and looking for a cure. 

In 2009, I signed up for TeamFox, a grass roots effort for regular people like you and me to make a difference. We put together a "Pancakes for Parkinson's" fundraising breakfast to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and it was a fairly successful event for a first year. 

Our original intent was to make this an annual event. But, the following year, our second son was born in the Spring and I was too tired and too busy with a newborn, a two-year-old, full-time job, etc. to put together another event that summer. So that year turned into “next year,” which then became “maybe next year,” and so on. You see where I’m going?

In 2014, I put together a monthly eBay event called Paintings for Parkinson’s (the first evolution of the idea). This monthly event gathered together several artists who wished to participate by listing an auction on eBay during the first week of the month with at least a portion of the sale price being donated to the Michael J Fox Foundation via eBay Giving Works.

Again, like our Pancakes for Parkinson's event, it was mildly successful. But, by 2015, monthly participation and interest from artists was waning, and it was taking too much of my time to manage the event with too little participation. So, I decided to end it.

But, Paintings for Parkinson’s lives on in a new evolution for 2016. Beginning this year, I will choose one painting (or maybe a few) during the month of April to auction off on eBay - with 100% of the purchase price being donated to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research via eBay Giving Works (eBay automatically sends the donation to the foundation - and I can print out a donation receipt from eBay at the end of the year for my taxes).

I will list the painting(s) with P4PMJFF in the title to make it easily searchable. And, if I have artist friends who are still interested in participating once per year, then I welcome all of you on board! (Any percentage of auction donation is welcome. You don't have to do 100%!)

Why April? For the simple fact that April is Parkinson's Awareness Month...and also happens to be my husband's birthday month. Easy enough. :)

Look for my painting(s) to be listed on eBay starting on April 13th (my hubby's birthday) for a 7-day auction. Search P4PMJFF to find the listing(s) if you wish to bid.

To any artists who wish to participate, send me an email to jenniferloveartwork@yahoo.com and I will email you details. :)

We hike to Delicate Arch as often as we can. More movement = Good Medicine!

If you're not interested in bidding on a painting but would like to make a donation straight to the Michael J Fox Foundation, click the pic below. Thanks!


As always, thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

FRIDAY FEATURE - My Favorite Basics

Updated from a previous post...

I was once asked about the brand of paint I use and whether I prefer cold water or hot water to paint. Both were interesting questions and I didn't have an immediate answer for that customer - though I should have! 

Over the last couple of years, I have made an effort to become more aware of the supplies I use to create my artwork, and why I prefer some brands over others. This has been a good exercise for me as well as arming me with the sure knowledge of the answers to those questions should they arise again sometime in the future!

"A Patchwork Fall" - watercolor ©Jennifer Love

I once ran out of Ultramarine Blue paint in my palette and had to replace it with a tube from a brand I don't normally use. While the color match is pretty similar, the properties of the paint differ quite a bit in use. It helped me realize why I seek out my preferred brand of paint. :)

As to the cold vs. hot water, I generally use cold tap water. Over time it becomes room temperature, until I dump the basin out and start with fresh water. I haven't really experimented with hot to see if that makes a difference in dissolving the paint or how the paint goes onto the paper, but for my purposes, I don't think the temperature of the water makes as much difference as the dilution level I am trying to achieve with the paint.

"Peaceful Daisies" - watercolor  ©Jennifer Love

It's important to note that every artist has their own preferences, and there is no "right" or "wrong" answer to the choice of paint and supplies. We have all used various brands and quality of paint, and decided what we like the best. And maybe some don't have a preference. 

But, for those who are interested, here are my supplies and materials preferences. 

I love M. Graham watercolor paint. These are professional grade paints and are archival. These paints are little bit hard to find these days in a craft store or art supply store, but I tend to order mine online - usually through Blick Art Supplies (the company that recently purchased Utrecht). 

Image source: public domain.
Copyright belongs to respective photographer,
company, or graphic designer.

M. Graham makes their paint in small batches using pure gum arabic and natural blackberry honey. These paints don't dry up in the tube - even those I've had in my box for years! They also re-wet very easily on the palette and I usually don't experience the "grainy" consistency that comes with rewetting some colors in other brands I have tried. The colors are brilliant, they dry nicely, and are represented well both wet and dry.

"Flutter" - watercolor ©Jennifer Love

For watercolor paper, I prefer Arches 140 lb Cold Press, or sometimes 300 lb Cold Press. Again, these are professional-grade, archival papers. There is a smooth side and a rough side, but I prefer to use the rough side to add more texture to my painting. 

Here is the description of Arches' paper-making process on the Blick website.

"Arches watercolor papers are mouldmade in France, with 100% cotton fiber content. They are acid-free, pH-neutral, gelatin-sized, and air dried. Sheets have two natural deckle edges, two torn deckle edges, and are watermarked and embossed."

So, if you happen to see embossing or a watermark on one of your watercolor paintings that says "Arches," know that it is not a bad thing! You actually have a painting that is created on high-quality paper and happened to get the watermark to prove it!

"Kokopelli Weave" - watercolor  ©Jennifer Love

I do still use other brands of paper from time to time, and will use up whatever art supplies I have been given or purchased to try (waste not, want not!). But, when it comes to making a painting I want to enter into a competition or hope to sell in a gallery setting, it is almost always on Arches! 

When it comes to brushes, I have a variety - from inexpensive craft store brushes, to high-end sable. However, I have found that I am pretty rough on my brushes and they wear out - and the expensive ones don't seem to last much longer that the cheaper brushes. So, I have ultimately found that I like Blick (formerly Utrecht) store brand brushes. They are affordable, durable, and form a nice point for quite a long time before they wear out on me. I love my Round #20, #18, #10 and #8 brushes. Even though I have a huge variety of other sizes and shapes, I rarely venture beyond these four. They tend to serve my needs very well.  I don't use flat brushes all that much - occasionally for washes or wetting down my paper - so, I am less picky about the brand of flat brush. But, I really like the Blick store brand in general. Some watercolorists I know really like hake brushes for wetting paper down and for soft edges, but I haven't found much use for them yet in my work.

My brushes

My brushes

And, finally, the palette. Some artists like to make their own palette (to save money or to customize the wells). Others (like me) buy their palette. I am into whatever is most useful to me, easy, and convenient - so I have more time to paint! I like the Robert E. Wood palette. It comes with a lid, which is nice. I tuck the lid underneath the palette when I am using it, raising the palette up slightly like a pedestal. (Somehow, I just find it easier to paint like that!) There are several wells to organize your paint, and two large sections for mixing. Plus, you can use the lid for extra mixing space or paint color as needed. It is also reasonably priced at less than $15. I actually have two of these, but only one in use at any given time. :)

My palette is organized with similar colors grouped together. I try to have a warm and a cool of each primary color, and generally mix my secondaries, though not always. The colors I use most often are Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow, Hansa Yellow, Cobalt Teal (special color), and Quinacridone Rose (special color). Also, rather than pure black, I prefer Sepia for my "black" when needed; and I rarely use pure white, though I have some if needed. There are other colors on my palette, of course, but those are the colors I use the most.

See the lid tucked nicely underneath?

Extra little wells in the lid if you need more mixing 
space or need to put other paint colors on.

So, there you have it! My favorite basics.  What are your favorites?

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

April 6, 2016

Presenting at Utah Watercolor Society - Social Media for Artists

Last night I had to opportunity to speak to the members of the Utah Watercolor Society (UWS) about using various social media platforms to promote and market your artwork and yourself as an artist. What a great experience for me and such a fun night! 

Of course, in all the effort to get my presentation set up, my iPad set up to record a video of my presentation (which, unfortunately stopped recording after 5 minutes - I'll have to figure that out), and getting ready to speak...I didn't think to take a "selfie" with myself and the group of wonderful UWS members who attended the meeting.  DUH! Very UN-social of me! So, I will be depending on the photos taken by others who were in attendance. (Thank you!)

What makes me a social media expert? I'm not, really. Just a user who has been blogging, Facebooking, Twittering, and Pinteresting for a while to promote my artwork. I just happen to have a little bit more knowledge and a little bit more experience than many of those who attended. So, I said I would be willing to share what I have learned to the group. Luckily, I had a lot of positive feedback, so I will presume it went well! :)

I have been fortunate to have the opportunity recently to attend some social media training sessions and also listen to a webinar on the subject of various social media and how they are used both in the professional media business world and the art business world. Add to that the 5+ years I have spent learning (through much trial and error) the various platforms that I currently use in my artistic endeavors, and then a fair amount of internet research on the different platforms, and I was able to compile a decent deck of information for the UWS April member meeting...all boiled down into a 90 minute presentation!

The bulk of the information included in my presentation is compiled from other sources (online and otherwise), and I have tried my best to give source credit on each page. Additionally, I added a page of useful links (some of which were also sources), and tried to include several visual examples throughout. (We are artists after all! Visual creatures are we!!) I also made a few copies of one of my LinkedIn blog posts which was relevant to the presentation for distribution for those who were interested.

Overall, it was a great exercise in public speaking for me and I learned even more about using Social Media than I had previously gleaned from training and webinars. As they say, if you really want to learn something, you should try to teach it to others. So true! And there is still so much more left to learn. :)

Click here to view my LinkedIn blog post What Do You Want To Achieve With Your Social Media?

Click here to view my Social Media for Artists presentation (or click the pic below). I hope you might find some of the info useful and welcome your comments or feedback or suggestions.

 Jennifer Love Artwork_Social Media For Artists

Special thanks to marketing and social media gurus Tracey McCormackBill CarmodyStefan LubinskiBarney Davey, and Lori McNee for useful tidbits of information about various social media platforms! (And, of course, to Google, for making research about any topic easily accessible with a few mouse clicks!)

Thank you to Catherine Darling Hostetter, Colleen Reynolds, Kristi Grussendorf, and Brienne Brown for allowing me to use your Social Media images in the presentation! 

Special thanks also to Sherry Meidell and Julie Ickes for taking photos during the presentation (and for allowing me to use them for this blog post)!

And a big thank you to the awesome members of the Utah Watercolor Society who attended the meeting, asked great questions, and gave me very kind feedback afterwards. I enjoyed the evening immensely because of you!

Images sources are from public domain. Copyright belongs to respective photographers/designers.

As always, thank YOU for stopping by my blog!