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Home Before The Adventure

Every good trip starts at home.  

We’re getting ready for our big Adventure 2014.   Things are packed, more or less.  The camper’s ready.  We’re winding down to the last minute things.

Arrangements have been made.  We’re beginning to chomp at the proverbial bit.

Watercolor Sketch, Kitchen, home

So, this is a short post.   Next time, we’ll be on the road or in a national park.  I’m including sketches from home, our starting point.

The excitement begins.  Pre-big adventure 2014, Watercolor Sketch, home

I hope you will follow us on our big adventure.  Please see our website, “The Gallivanter’s Happy All Terrain Camper’s Adventure 2014!”

And, I hope you have a grand summer.




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World War II Memorial, Talent OR

My Memorial Day 2014 Story.

Where are the memorials in your town?  What is your Memorial Day story?

Talent’s World War II Memorial

I pass by the memorial to World War II service members several days a week.  It is on one of my morning running routes.  It has names of 10 individuals.  The names are familiar, but not familiar.  They’re names like you might see anywhere in our country.  But, I don’t know the individuals or their families.

World War II Memorial; Talent OR

My Family’s Service

Yet, when I see the memorial, I can’t help but think about my own family’s history.  My father, grandfather, father-in-law and several uncles served in World War II.  Both grandfathers and my grandmother served in World War I.  My husband served in Viet Nam.  I served in the first Iraq conflict, Desert Storm.

When you look back in my family’s history, I have ancestors who served in our Civil War and in our Revolutionary War.

I fell honored by my family’s good fortune.  As far as I know, all my serving relatives came home.  I know that one of my father’s uncle suffered from his service in World War I.  He was “gassed”, exposed to mustard gas.  The wounds he received plagued him the rest of his life.  But, he did come home to his family.

I have my father’s battalion “year book”.  In the back, there is a list of all the men who served in his battalion during World War II. As I read the names and looked at their hometowns, I was impressed at how our country was represented.  Every state, small town, big town.

Thank You

As I look at the marble memorial to our World War II service members, I see my family.  I wonder if they might have met any of these service members listed on the stone.  As I think about our memorial, I want to thank these men that I never knew.  They gave their life.  Thank you.


The Drawing

This is part of a personal project to get to know my town of Talent, OR by drawing its places.


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Overcoming Inertia By Sketching “Funky Fashions”

How I Overcame Inertia

This is a story about overcoming inertia and taking action.

Have you ever had a moment where you finally overcame inertia?  You acted after thinking about something for, ummm, several months?  You finally do the thing you’ve been talking about doing but haven’t quite done yet?  I had such a moment a couple of days ago.  I overcame my inertia.  I finally walked out the house, down the street and plopped down to do a sketch of a place in my town.

I’d like to tell you my story.

Overcoming Inertia, Sketching Funky Fashion in Talent OR

Inspired by Urban Sketchers

Well, its just about as simple as that and a bit more complicated.  Early on in my art blogging career, I was introduced by other artists to the “Urban Sketcher” movement.  So cool!  I live in the Northwest and here was an exciting art movements with roots in Seattle.  And, its so simple.  I gotta do this.

At the time, I was living on the Washington coast in the rain and fog belt.  Ok, sometimes it was not rainy or foggy.  On those days, it was windy instead.  I evolved as a “studio” painter.  That is to say I draw and paint in my studio and not outside.

Its a Weather Issue, Don’t You Know

Fast forward some years and now I live in southern Oregon, in a small town called “Talent”.  How appropriate, yes?  Its a sweet little town, what you’d expect from a bedroom community between here and there.  More to the point, the weather is better.  We do have sunny weather and the type that enables one to get out of the studio and house; one can go draw outside.

The problem?  I’m now used to being a studio painter.  And, there are always “I gotta do” chores.  So, at the end of the day, I have yet to go outside to draw and paint.

But, I want to.  I want to go out and draw and paint.  I think it would be so much fun to explore Talent in this manner.

Commitment? Excuses?  A Call to Act!

Then, I watched Stefan Baumann’s video on commitment.  Pling!  Ding? Dong!  What’s my commitment level?  What’s stopping me?   Suddenly, the call to action in my brain was so strong it overcame inertia.  *You could say inertia is another word for excuses; you could say…

I pulled out my handy dandy watercolor tool box.  Then grabbed sunscreen, water, hat, stool and said “see you later” and out I went.

Sketching At “Funky Fashions”

Being the afternoon, I had to think of where the sun would be hitting.  Hmmm, what faces west.  Tada!  My neighbor’s consignment boutique  “Funky Fashions” faces west!  And the shop is just a few blocks away, an easy walk.

I found a place across the street from “Funky Fashions” and set myself up in the shade.  I thought I was pretty discreet.   I had been working a little while and, to my excitement, my neighbor walked out of her shop and sat on a bench.  She has a cushioned bench in front of her shop and this is the kind of town where you can sit there and take a break.

Not So Discreet — Not Hidden In Plain Site

I had not planned to put any people into my drawing, but, the opportunity was too good.  I quickly penciled in her shape.  As I was drawing, my neighbor looked up from the bench and said “Peggy, is that you?”  I guess I wasn’t as inconspicuous as I thought.

I went over to “Funky Fashions” after I was done for show & tell and a chat with my neighbor.

When I came home, I felt pleased to have taken step in overcoming the inertia that keeps me from painting outdoors.  Plus, I had a nice time.

Just Say “No” to Inertia…Embrace the Experience

As I said in the first sentence, this is about overcoming inertia.  In my studio, things are set up conveniently; I don’t have to think to hard, just plop down and get to work.   But, there is a world of things to experience.   And, sketching outside is something I want to learn how to accomplish.

Now that I live in an area where the weather is agreeable, its time for me to go an experience drawing the great out doors.

Post Scripts x3

PS.  “Funky Fashions” is a festive shop for women’s clothing.  The owner has a good sense for fashion and quality clothing.  I recommend it!

PS2.  By the way, I heartily recommend watching Stefan Baumann’s video on commitment.

PS3.  Gotta do this again!






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Plein Air Landscape Painting Workshop

I’m gearing up for a landscape painting workshop in June, prepping my slide lecture and picking out great places to paint. I like my classes to be fun and relaxed while being focused and rigorous.

We’ll be focused on oil painting, but drawing with charcoal or graphite would be a great option for those who might not want to hassle with the paint or who are just beginning to work outside.

Medford Street 2011 Plein air oil painting by Sarah F Burns

Plein Air Painting with Sarah F Burns

Get down and dirty painting in the field and in the street. There are few things as exhilarating, challenging and rewarding as plein air painting. Create fresh, live documents of the life and light around us everyday. Sarah will choose excellent locations for the time of day and pleasure of study, focusing on urban settings and including sprawling views, locations with lovely flowers, and foliage. Color, light, proportion atmospheric perspective, linear perspective, composition, value, use of materials will all be extensively covered in this fun and meaty workshop.

  • June 19, 2:30 – 3:30 pm, at Ashland Art Center, intro with slides and lecture
  • June 19 – 22, 4:00 – 7:00 pm in the field 
  • June 22, 7:45 pm, critique at Smithfields (no host) 
  • $130, AAC, Print and Clay Studio Members, $145 General
  • Level: Beginner to Advanced. Beginning students will find it helpful to take Sarah’s Classical Drawing and Painting drop-in class held every Wed from 3 – 5 pm
  • Registration is due by Thursday, June 12
  • Click here for the registration form
  • Questions? Email sarahfburns  AT gmail DOT com

Filed under: Classes, Drawing, Landscape, painting Tagged: 2014, art, Ashland Art Center, class, drawing, fine art, landscape, learn, learn to draw, learn to paint, oil, oil painting, oregon, painting, plein air, rogue valley, Sarah burns, sarah f burns, sketch, Smithfields, southern oregon, study, urban

Thank You Stillman & Birn

About the Stillman & Birn Sketchbook

This past February, I won a Stillman & Birn Beta Series sketchbook in an online “giveaway” sponsored by Stillman & Birn.  I thought I’d share my thoughts on the sketchbook now that I’ve had it for a couple of months.

  • I chose the Beta Series because of the heavy paper weight.
  • I liked it so much I went out and bought a second one.
  • I like the feel of the paper.  It works well with watercolor and I can apply multiple layers.
  • I like the construction of both the wire bound and hard bound sketchbooks.

I did an online search of Stillman & Birn sketchbook reviews.  I thought I’d pass on Jana Bouc’s blog review of the Stillman & Birn sketchbooks if you’d like to learn more.  I have not rigorously tested mine or compared it to other sketchbooks.  I just like it.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook, Watercolor

About the Painting

With this particular painting, I used the Caran d’Ache watercolor pencils that I won in the giveaway for layout.  Then, I worked back and forth layering with watercolor pencil or with straight watercolor.  It was an interesting way to work and I like the result.

The painting is of two small red Swedish candle holders that were given to me.  I don’t have any candles that fit the holders.  Still, I like the shapes.  Plus, I can study how light works on round objects.

The green vase is a small clay vase that I painted with acrylic.  Its another personal souvenir that I draw frequently because of the way the light falls on the different planes.  Funny, I have never used it as intended, for putting flowers in.  But, I do use it frequently for my still life set ups.

True Confession Time

I have been reluctant to use such a nice sketchbook.  I’ve only done three paintings.  I was saving the paper.

But, what good will it be if it just sits in my studio waiting for me to feel worthy?  So, I’m off to enjoy the love of painting on wonderful paper by Stillman & Birn.

Its funny, I always buy quality paint and paintbrushes.  I use artist grade papers for my paintings.  Why is it that I’m reluctant to use a good sketchbook.

Stefan Baumann Video

I ran across this video by Mr. Baumann and its’ great!  I recommend viewing it, I think he hit the proverbial “nail on the head”.  After viewing this video, I realized why I’m reluctant to use my Stillman & Birn sketchbook.  I’m going to “heal” myself and paint another one in my Stillman & Birn!   (And, yet another until its full).

Again, thank you Stillman & Birn!  I appreciate your generosity and I enjoy your sketchbooks!

Watercolor, Stillman & Birn, Still Life



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Drawing. A Mental Meander on the Word “Drawing”

Drawing and Quartering.

Hah!  Bet you thought it ought to be “drawn and quartered”, and you’d be right.  However, it didn’t quite fit with this discussion on drawing and I don’t intend to draw and quarter anybody.

I have been thinking all day about what to say about my watercolor drawing of the neighbor’s big plum tree.  I like the tree, you could say I was drawn to it.   It produces shade and color for the neighborhood.  Not very deep, though I must say it gives me joy to see it in its colorful glory.

Drawing Series?

Then, I thought, here’s another drawing of awnings and lamp posts.  Do you suppose I ought to draw a series of awnings and lamp posts?  If I do many drawings of the neighborhood, I just might.    Umm, truthful, but still not a deep discussion.

Watercolor Drawing, DrawingWhy Draw?

Why did I draw it?  At the time of day I set to work, I liked the light and dark pattern.  The dark of the tree contrasted with the sunlight on the home next to it.  I was thinking that light gives people great joy and I like painting joy.

Again, Why Draw?

Why draw?  I starting thinking about a new blog I found and her discussion on drawing.  The blog is by artist Anne Brooke, who happens to be an Oregon artist and doesn’t live too far from me, though we’ve never met.  Her first blog post was titled “Why Draw”, and she goes on to mention that drawing is a perishable skill.  I’m inspired to draw daily so I can keep my skills up.

And, that is in part why I am drawing awnings, lamp posts, trees and other things around my neighborhood and house.  Its how I’m getting to know my neighbors.  For one thing, when I’m outside drawing, eventually someone stops by and we chat a minute or two.  Its a good thing, getting to know ones neighbors.

Drawing Skills

Another thing I firmly believe in is that if I emerge myself totally in drawing and watercolor paintings, I will “get better”, see things I hadn’t seen before; figure out new things to do with paint.  I learn, in other words, I learn.  I thrive on learning.

When I was first embarking on my art journey and thinking of a career, I said my goal was to learn to see like an artist.  And, that is why I draw everyday, including watercolor drawings of plum trees.  I am learning and seeing.

Drawn, But Not Deep

Its 90 degrees today, so I’m not drawn to deep subjects.  My mind just wants to free associate.  I just want to draw.

Thank you; I enjoyed this moment of mental meander about drawing and why I do it.  How about you?  Do you draw?  Do you mental meander?










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Awnings and Lamp Posts – Candlewood Park Watercolor Study

When I sat down to do a watercolor study in my neighborhood, I was immediately attracted to the array of awnings and lamp posts, hence the title.

Awnings & Lamp Posts, Study; watercolor studyThis is just a simple post.  I’m getting myself ready to draw, paint and blog my way across the United States and back starting next month.  I hope to do lots of these watercolor studies.

I’m trying to get into a rhythm.  Also, I’m practicing drawing and watercolor painting outside.  I have gotten in the habit of being a studio painter, so this is a change.

The scene is from the mobile home park where I live.  I sat down to work in the late afternoon.  Probably not the smartest timing as the light changes FAST!  But, I enjoyed the shadow shapes contrasting with the light on the wall.

The funny thing is that I don’t know who lives here.  People living in the park tend to be quiet.  I tend to pass these homes early in the morning when people might be reading the newspaper, having a cup of coffee or eating breakfast.  I rarely see anyone on this street.  And, yet, by drawing and painting a study of the homes, I feel I know them a little bit better.   Kind of a funny way to get to know people.

I imagine I will do more local studies this month.  I hope you will stay tuned as I prepare for our Adventure 2014!

Thank you and enjoy!




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Mom’s Doll with a Seashell Hat

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

On this occasion, I thought I’d share the Mother’s Day Card I made for my Mom and a little bit about it. Mom's Doll with Seashell Hat SCx


This is a special doll because when I was a child, the only time I could play with it was when I was sick in bed.

This is a doll that my Mother had when she was a child.  She has a companion doll with a long veil instead of the hat.

I imagine my Mother as a child playing with this doll when she and her family lived in Hawaii.  I wonder what stories went through her head.  For me, I imagine the doll on the beaches of 1930s Hawaii, collecting seashells.

To put things in context, I grew up in 1960s New Mexico.  The ocean was nowhere in sight; it was semi-desert.  Hawaii seemed like a far off exotic land.  I loved hearing my Mom telling her stories of her childhood.

Mom’s doll is about 3 inches in height and made of porcelain. She wears a satin dress decorated with laces and a seashell.  It is a real clam shell on her head with ribbons.  And, its’ decorated with tiny shells.  The face is hand painted as is her shoes.

This doll is one of my treasured mementos from my family.  How about you, what treasures do you have from your family?

Thank you and enjoy!


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Portrait of Sparro, from Ilene Geinger’s studio sessions.


Filed under: Drawing, figure, Portrait Tagged: clothed, drawing, figure, graphite, male, pencil, portrait, sarah, sarah f burns, sketch, study

Backward Planning Process for Shipping Artwork to An Exhibition

Purpose of Backward Planning Process

+ To ensure I meet the exhibition’s deadline for delivery of artwork
+ To organize myself to make sure I comply with the exhibition’s requirements
+ To avoid procrastination

What I Gain From the Planning Process

+ Timeline
+ Task List


In my 3 May post on Shipping Artwork, I discussed my lessons learned for shipping watercolor paintings. I discussed both one way shipping, such as might be done for a client. And, I talked about shipping to an art show. I received positive comments and a suggestion to talk more about shipping to art shows.  I’m starting with my backward planning process because I think it’s important. And this is how I work.

Update:  Please note, for this posts discussion purposes only, I assume the artist interested in shipping artwork already has their shipping box.  One needs to have it on hand prior to art show notification.  Details on selecting a shipping box are beyond the scope of this particular blog post.


Delivery Window

Why focus on delivery? This is what I call the “hard deadline”. I must meet the exhibition’s deadline if I want my painting to be shown. Timing is crucial.

Delivery Considerations

  • Too Early: The exhibition committee may not be prepared to receive my painting and it gets returned. To explain, the organization hosting the art show will have an agreement or contract with the art venue. The agreement specifies which days the organization has the facility. You don’t want your painting arriving before the host organization.
  • Too Late: The exhibition committee has gone on to the next tasks, which are hanging and jurying the art show. Too late and you may not have your work considered by the Juror.

Shipping Window

I determine my shipping window by going online and looking at my shipper’s map. For example, if I were to use FEDEX, I do a search for Fedex Ground Service Maps ( On the map, I can approximate how many days it will take to ship.
Example. I live in the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon. It shows up “pink” on the FEDEX map. To ship to Denver, CO the planning factor is three days. It takes five days to ship to the east coast.

Preparation Window

+ This is the time I have to ensure my painting is framed properly; documentation completed, and to crate or box my painting for shipment.
+ This is when I look at the instructions given to me by the art show in detail to fill in my timeline and create my tasks lists.
+ Sample tasks:

  • Finish framing if not complete already.
  • Prepare a checklist for documents to include with shipment (by default, my task list.
  • Prepare documents
  • Pack painting in my shipping box.



+This is the point that starts it all! This is “woohoo” moment when you are notified that your work has been accepted into the show. It’s a wonderful feeling, congratulations.
+This is the point where I pull out my calendar and start working my backward planning process.


I have found that this backward planning process helps me approaching shipping to art shows in an organized and efficient manner.  It enables me to ensure my painting arrives to the art show venue on time and with the right documents.

I hope this article is helpful.  If you have any ideas or recommendations, I would enjoy reading them.  Thank you!








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