Sunday, November 25, 2007

My one print

At the Quartz Mountain workshop with Luther Smith, I focused on trying to make one good print. This was a pretty good idea because my allergies made it inadvisable to do much walking around outside and taking pictures. I learned a lot, and this is the best print I got, from our field trip to the town of Mangum, OK. My scan of it loses all the details in the shadows that I tried to hard to maintain, but you get the general idea. I called it checks because of the repeating pattern of squares in the bench, the tiles on the ground and the wall, and also in the shadow.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Back from the mountain

I'm back after a four day workshop at the Fall Art Institutes at Quartz Mountain. While I was there I realized it was my eleventh year to go to the mountain for one reason or another, starting as a writing student in 1979 - the summer of my senior year in high school. I was a camp counselor 3 years after college, and have since been to seven of the fall adult workshops. So, from the days of sitting on bales of straw, to before the fire, to after the fire when the dining hall was a tent, and now a few years in the beautiful new facilities shown here. This year I took a very good course in intermediate darkroom with Luther Smith, (assisted by Konrad Eek) where I mostly concentrated on print quality. I really enjoyed learning to use filters. Maybe I'll post my best photo later in the week.

This second picture shows one of the two entrances to the darkroom - just to the right you can see the large deck overlooking the lake. Working in all this natural beauty is one of the main things that make these workshops so important to my life as an artist. The third snapshot was taken between the studio pavilion and lodge.

One of my student's families has begun a large vineyard not far from Quartz, and since his mom is our high school art teacher, and also at the workshop, we stopped there on the way back and took pictures for him to work from in class. One of his classmates liked the picture of the deer skull hung from the fence, and is working with it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


A few days ago I posted the unfinished version of this painting, and over the long weekend we had, I finally have it just where I like it. It has been a very agreeable painting to work with. Some pictures seem to work against me until they finally let me get them where I want them to be, and others seem happy to go along with whatever I want to try. It is 30" x 30" on a cradled panel that is 2" deep, and painted in acrylic.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm not supposed to have favorites...

...but I stop and look at this new piece of student art every time I go past the display case. I photographed it in front of a painting of mine so it could have a sky for a background.

I think it is wonderful, a winged golden man captured just at the moment he touches back to earth. It is about 8" tall, and made from wire, newspaper & masking tape, plaster gauze, and paint. And a piece of wood.
It is by Zach, an 8th grader in my Art II class.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

back to this one

Putting an unfinished painting on the wall is risky business, because I can get attached to it the way it is, but it sure is easier than storing them! This one is going to get some work today.

This painting is an image I have worked with four times now, from my sketchbook to a small painting to this larger unfinished piece, to a woodcut.

Allergy season is upon us, and I spent part of yesterday at our local Festival in the Park in the Oklahoma wind, and the rest of it trying to get ready for a garage sale and taking things to storage, so the dust and pollen did double duty. Staying indoors and painting is probably a good idea. I already had one day of school with no voice, and thankfully my students treated me kindly. We accomplished a lot with hand gestures and notes.

Monday, October 8, 2007

New Painting

Here is my latest painting, it is 30" x 30" on a cradled panel. It was photographed before being hung, and I will have a better photo of it later. It was commissioned by a family for their mother's birthday gift to go in her newly redecorated living room. I developed the design after talking with her about some of her own ideas, then surprised her with it this weekend.

Working in my small studio space, these 30" x 30" panels have seemed large, but seeing this painting on her enormous walls made them look really small!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Back to Work

Summer went fast, but fall commitments are suddenly picking up.

The "Suite Oklahoma II" printmaking portfolio is complete and has been displayed at ArtsSpace Ponca City, and opens today at Milagros print studio in OKC. It is also available for viewing by appointment at the Lachenmeyer Art Center in Cushing. It is a portfolio of work by...I think*... 18 printmakers across Oklahoma, including me. Hopefully it will be available for online viewing at some point. *we are still waiting on one print to be finished -- not mine!

Last summer 3 friends and I visited Italy thanks to a fellowship from Fund for Teachers. In two weeks we open an exhibit of art that was made in reference to that experience. It will be a mix of photographs, including a couple of my pinhole photos, some jewelry made with Murano beads, a couple of serigraphs, a large woodcut, and maybe a painting or two (if I get them finished!)

I am still working on emptying my childhood home in preparation for a major remodel. Yesterday I finally worked up the courage to "process" my mother's dresser drawer, which was pretty painful but ok in the end. I'm going to make that room my studio.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Slipping away

Summer is really slipping away, between art camp and traveling. Art camp was a great success. The first group of kids was perhaps my most engaged and enthusiastic ever. The second week, well, I really wondered about them at first. Seated in front of paper and piles of crayons, all twelve of them just sat there. My helpers and I told them they could draw while we waited for everybody to arrive, and nobody bothered. I thought "oh dear, a week of this?" Who could imagine a dozen third graders with no interest in coloring? I suggested they do something with their a few wrote their names, and that was it.

As it turned out, these kids had great imaginations and remarkably long attention spans, they just weren't into drawing. I asked them to choose an animal, and I made them a wire armature of it and had it waiting for them the next morning - the wire is too stiff for little hands - then they built up the bodies with newsprint and tape, and we covered them with plaster gauze and painted them. I was amazed with their ideas and the fact that they happily spent an entire morning on this one project.

It never fails to interest me that classes of kids have a kind of groupthink.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

printing on clay

I am a printmaker, not a potter, but have occasionally considered the possibilities of using my carved woodblocks to press into clay (after they have been editioned of course).

Just in the past week I have been thinking about it more, probably thanks to potter Cynthia Guajardo writing about the subject on her blog . No doubt she will come up with some lovely things for her etsy shop, so I'll be keeping track of her experiments and progress.

Then, on the always fun design blog Decor8, I read about the potter Nathan William and his collection that is impressed with vintage Indian woodblocks, then layers of glazes. The effect is very mysterious and textile-like. This Terracotta Sugar Jar is an example of his work from his Esty shop hijackedceramics.

I'm thinking more along the lines of using my old woodblocks to make my own mosaic tiles, something simple like that. I start week 2 of Art Camp tomorrow, and we'll start off with clay and paper mache (because it is raining daily, and that way things will have all week to dry!), so maybe I'll try something out. If so, I'll put up a picture.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


While taking a break from clearing things out of the family home, I've taken a couple of entertaining "personality tests". The first was on, a "Style" test - I came out "Eccentric with a touch of sweet", and then my "Personal DNA" report was that I am a "Respectful Creator".

both tests are fun and free.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Much to my surprise I discovered today that my work appeared on the website Marc3. I don't know how it got there, and don't know much about the site because I do not read Spanish. Maybe once school starts again one of my students can read more about it for me. In any event, it is a very handsome site and I like the other art that is displayed there so I'm happy! It is like being in a group show except lots more people see the art.

I discovered it when it turned up as a "referring link" on StatCounter.

Art Camp starts tomorrow, and as usual I'll have second graders. My first year of doing art camp they whipped through my entire weeks' curriculum the first day!!! But I'm an old hand at it now, they only scare me a little. (Glitter fingerpaint is key----in Cyan, Magenta and Yellow, and they discover color mixing on their own, it is pretty fun) Hopefully I'll have to pictures to post.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Women in Art

Thanks to Judy Decker on the artsednet list for directing me to this wonderful thing.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

part 2

The photos in this post and the one below are from this semester's Middle School students. We wove functional bags (the boys don't like me to call them purses) in the 6th grade (some are photographed with flaps open) and the 7-8th graders went completely crazy making sculptural figures from wire, masking tape and newspaper. I'll add more of those tomorrow, my school computer has no way to rotate images. (hard as that is to believe!) The bag to the right shows blending, egyptian knot, vertical stripes, and joining (the triangle), all required patterns, but of course they can make those patterns do whatever they want. This boy created his own pattern, using the yellow black and green in a very interesting way between the stripes and the triangle. I especially like the skull bag. The red eyes are a nice touch.

As for the figures below, there is a Sumo champion and a moment of drama between a smurf and a giant caterpillar that is attacking the smurf's toadstool home.

A few good pieces

Monday, May 28, 2007

International connections

Although it might not be a normal thing for an art class to do, this semester some of my students have been "epals" with a class in Italy. One of my students from last semester, Josh, used to talk all the time about the Food Network, so when one of the Italian students began his first letter "My name is Francesco and I love food!" I knew I had a match. Recently, Francesco sent along a recipe for Spaghetti Alla Carbonara. Josh isn't in my class anymore, but conveniently he is now in Home Ec - so I brought the ingredients and this week he cooked the dish in Mrs. McGill's Home Ec. class. I was lucky enough to have a plate delivered to me as well. It was delicious!

Friday, May 25, 2007

end of the year

I only have a couple of days with my current students before I turn them over to whatever summer means to them. For some it is holidays in nice places, for some it means endless hours at computer games, and for others it means untold abuse and/or no hot meals until their nasty but free school lunches start again. It always astonishes me that they suddenly want to start projects now, three school days before the end. It kills me to say no, but I must. whatever variety of prayers you make, make them for public school teachers now. Whatever the news says about us, our hears are breaking right now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Playing with pictures

I've been playing with some of the photos I took in Italy last summer. I want to be able to frame a few that I especially like.

I have several good excuses for letting a year pass. The day we got home we discovered that my mother (who lived with me) had fallen the night before and was hospitalized (and sadly, died a month later). Also, a close of Kent's had died that same day, at the same hospital. Basking in travel memories was not on the agenda.

So as summer approaches, I find myself thinking about the trip.I took a 120 Agfa Clack that I had converted into a pinhole camera. Kent took a digital Nikon. I also too a very carefully planned sketching kit, but only got one drawing done the whole time.

The two photos above are from Tivoli, both digital. I've posted the roses before, but now I've made them into sepia and have been trying to tint the roses softly. Not successfully yet. The photos below are pinhole photos I took with the converted Agfa Clack. Left is a window on the inside of the Coloseum in Rome, looking out, with the light streaming in. The one on the right is also a pinhole from the Coloseum, of one of the capitals. For someone like me, an artist but not a photographer, a pinhole camers is a lot of fun. My goal was to come back with one photo I liked, but I got about eight. I keep meaning to make a section of my website for them. (a summer project). These are actually scans from the contact sheet. The photo company I was using closed its doors before I got prints made, so I need to find another place - especially since I still have film in the camera from Galveston beach at Christmas.

Monday, May 14, 2007

shipping to London

Well, my first efforts at Etsy were, literally, instantly successful. I put on some tiny collages out of the good bits of failed woodcuts....I sometimes chine colle in reverse, and stepped away from the computer, came back ( I was one room away) and had sold three to a buyer in London! I won't be able to retire on these prices, but it is fun to think of my little pieces being in one of my favorite places in the world.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Etsy, here I come!

Tonight I started working on my Etsy store. I have a website and paypal and all that, but I think it is a good idea to have this as well. Also, I think it might be a good place to offer all the little things I make on a whim that I really don't want on my website, and some simple lower priced things as well, so expect some little landscapes, altered books, experiments, who knows what. I've been thinking about printing some of my woodblocks on tea towels, so there's just no telling. I'm listed under Betty C Bowen Fine Art, unless somebody thinks of a better name. You have to search with no spaces - BettyCBowen - will do.


It have been an entire week since I last posted, so I may have some catching up to do. My 6th grade students are happily weaving purses, and I will post some of their work later. I haven't let them take the looms home until today, they were very frustrated with me. They are doing a great job. The 7-8th graders are making people out of wire. We used our thumbprint as a standard measure, and it worked great. They are building up the forms with newspaper and masking tape, and they completely wiped me (and the store room) out of tape. Some of the boys get so involved up in playing with their figures that they forget to work on them! One figure in particular has such grace and elegant proportions that I have been taking photographs of it. It will be an elfin archer when finished. It is gorgeous in a way that only something made of worthless materials but a beautiful form can be. Today the student paper mached brown paper towels all over it, which will give it a nice overall tan color, and then next week we will dress it. Of course, I liked it the way it was, but won't say so.

A couple of weekends ago friend Kelly held her annual tie-dye party, and I dyed a few things. I never quite know what to do with the large silk square that I sometimes dpaint or dye. There is no possible way for them to look good on me, and I'm not a "little tablecloth" sort. Then today I found this on You Tube - perfect! This is a Japanese carrying bag made from a square of cloth

Friday, May 4, 2007

pattern tester, Print & Pattern

I just discovered an amazing site, the Pattern Tester! I think it will be a great tool for me. I make woodcut prints, so when I am finished editioning them, I hate to throw them away, and I looovveee textiles, so often wonder how I could pass them along to a real textile printer. At least this Pattern Tester will let me try out my block images and see how they might look as a textile!

I found this site via the worth-visiting-daily Print & Pattern blog, which, in turn, I found via Decor8.

Friday, April 27, 2007

New Drawing

I've been trying some waterbased oil pastels on colored Asian papers. They are very transparent, so I started with a base of construction paper crayons. I like those things, they are very opaque and made a good base for the pastels. After editioning some of my woodcuts, I decided I needed to brighten up a little today. Then tonight I visited an Australian design blog I really like called Absolutely Beautiful Things, and she (Ann) was having a pink and yellow week, with posts of very very beautiful images of rooms and objects, so I sent this image and she kindly included it in her week's roundup. What a great idea, focusing on a color combination in that way. This drawing was fun, but not as much fun as pulling the first of this image tentatively called "Rocks". Suggestions for a better title are welcome!

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I have always been involved in volunteer work, but for the past few years I have focused on getting a building for the Wesley Foundation in Langston, OK. I play a very small role in this, but hope it has been a helpful one. This building will be a home to the United Methodist students in the rather remote rural town where Langston University is located. It will also serve the local townspeople, which currently have no place to hold any kind of community gathering. Our board has raised over $600,000 with donations ranging from 77 cents to $150,000. Construction will begin June 1st.

In an earlier post I promised to show photos of our groundbreaking, which was held yesterday, April 21. It was a a beautiful bright (if windy) day. That's me in the green on the left, with my co-chair (coincidentally also in green) Doris Washington as we greeted the crowd. Then a couple of photos of students preparing the dinner on the grounds. Bennie and Isaac have been active members of the Wesley group all the way through school. Isaac is currently the vice-president. In the background you can see the University campus, and what a great spot the new building will have - right across from two large ponds and looking towards the sunset. I'm hoping we will be able to have a sunporch on that side of the building, to really take advantage of the view.

Friday, April 13, 2007

It was a nice suprise to find this article this morning, especially after This One yesterday! It is fun to check my web stat counter and see how varied and international these site's readerships are. It is amazing to think that people in China and Poland spent five minutes looking at my work.

Last night I had a long visit with an artist friend in eastern Washington. She and I had both been in the same gallery for many years. This gallery had never once sent me a piece of mail, or even called me when they sold something. They sold nearly everything of mine they ever had, and I will always wonder how much more art we could have moved if they had tried a little harder - or if I'd known to come rotate work! The last straw for me was when they broke a large chunk out of a very hard flat wood frame. Rather than contact me to replace the frame, they filled it in with magic marker! They assured me they had continued to show it (like that was a good thing).

Yesterday she received all the work the gallery had. She'd asked for her older stuff back, but they had dumped years of work in boxes and sent it off. We talked about how our experience with this gallery had probably made us feel like nobody wanted to see or live with our art. We let them affect our own attitude about our own work. So, a long hard lesson learned. Now that she is in a geographic area with even fewer galleries than here, I might put a page on my own website for her. People need a chance to see her work, and after working in a near vacuum for decades, she needs to have her work seen.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Back to Painting

I took some time off from painting while my show in Tulsa was up, and then did some drawing for a few days, but am now back to the paint. There were several paintings that didn't make my cut for the show due to a lack of space and, well, some of them were either incomplete or had developed issues I didn't have the time to deal with. It is a good exercise to try to get a crazy painting back under control - unlike carving a woodblock, there is no limit to how much paint one can put on the surface. At least with woodcut, at some point you will have carved away the entire surface.

Once I finish these unfinished ones, I think the next series might be almost black and white. Not entirely, but at least very high contrast in values, with less emphasis on color. I just have a sense of wanting to step back a little and focus on the linear structure.

Today was my 46th birthday and I painted for a little while after supper, and had good phone visits with my aunt and sister and nephews.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

End of the Show

We're taking down my TAC show tonight. It was fun and successful, and I love the idea of six of my paintings going on to have lives of their own. I hope the people who bought them enjoy them for many years to come. The painting to the right is one of my favorites, and one of two of the small ones that didn't sell. I realize it is a challenging color to visualize in a room of one's home, but it sure was a fun color to paint with.

Today I am preparing paper for some new sepia and silverpoint drawings.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Yesterday some new art supplies came in the mail, there is nothing like that, fresh unused drawing stuff. This is part of my plan to upgrade the materials I use for my continual drawings, rather than have heaps and stacks of receipts and classroom roll sheets with sharpie drawings on the back. So, the first step is to get fresh paper into my sketchbook. I don't like bound sketchbooks, because they are often too thick and heavy to carry around all day, and I like to be able to discard pages I don't like, or have a variety of papers with me.

The new materials I'm using are natural sanguine and silverpoint. I played with the silverpoint last night, and I think I will like it. It gives such a delicate line, so very different than a woodcut line. I've always wanted to try silverpoint, but had simply not ever seen one for sale. The site I link for both items is where I purchased them.

It is pouring rain, so a good weekend for making art (no garden-care guilt)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

planning new work

Now that my show at TAC is almost over, I'm torn between spring cleaning and starting some new work or finishing paintings I've already started. I'm really wanting to draw, not sketch, not preparatory work, but draw. So I find myself gathering those materials around me, bringing them out of boxes, finding the sanguine and bistre, thinking about paper while doing laundry (cold press Fabriano is where I am right now, but Arches 88 is always around just because I like it).

While gallery sitting Friday I did these in my sketchbook, one on a dark brown canson that I covered with Rembrandt white (a pastel, not the toothpaste!), and the other with white pastel and sanguine conte on a bright yellow paper. The holes are what I punch into my sketchbook paper.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


We are winding up an excellent online "promote your art" class with Alyson Stanfield. It was very helpful and I'm looking forward to using the things we learned.

Also, I might be having one of my paintings published on the front of a phone book. It isn't for sure yet, and it isn't the work that I exhibit generally. This is a rather personal painting, sentimental, not for sale, all that. Just an idea that I had that is meaningful to me. It is called The Road to Galveston.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gallery sitting

I sat at TAC today, and left the door open so the fresh air could come in and blow drifts of little white Bradford Pear petals all over the floor. There were already plenty there, so I figured it was an ok thing to do. This has been a great year for redbuds and pears and sand plums, all of which are blooming right now.

Ray Gloeckler had sent the gallery a postcard to congratulate me on my show, and as usual it had lovely Wisconsin cows on the front.

Instead of closing for lunch, most of the people I saw today came in on their lunch breaks. Most of them were artists, and it was fun visiting with them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Campus Visit

Today another teacher and I took a former student to visit Oklahoma City University. I graduated there in 1983, and although I have fond memories of my time there, I seldom have reason to go back. It was a real walk down memory lane in some ways, but what really struck me was the quality and scale of the improvements the school has made. But this wasn't about me, after all. I was very impressed by the personalized attention they gave our prospective student, particularly Coach Reynolds who took a moment from his day to come out and shake her hand and mention her high school coach by name, and gave her more information about what she should do to prepare (she's just a junior) those things really made an impression on us all. We decided later that he seemed genuinely excited about starting a women's wrestling program - he didn't sound like somebody who was being pressured into it by the administration. In short, he made us think he would take good care of our girl.

The students who spoke to us and gave the tour were very professional, friendly, and were great examples of what a close community the school is. The improvements to the physical plant were overwhelming, good grief, the Meinders School of Business building was incredible (and it is shaped like an "M").

So, after the tour we went back to "Alvin's cafe" for some coffee, Tif bought the Coach a thank you card, and we headed home.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Spring Break

Today is the first day of Spring Break. I sent the final balance to Adrienne Day to pay for our portfolio boxes for "Oklahoma Print Portfolio II". This is a project she has organized with printmakers across the state. It is going to be exciting to see what everybody made. I did a woodcut with chine colle called Tivoli. Although it obviously took its own direction, the initial sketches were in reference to a bunch of pink cabbage roses that I saw hanging over a garden wall in, well, Tivoi. I also photographed the roses. You can see how very different the two images are. That's how art works sometimes.

Friday, March 16, 2007

trying a photo

I am going to add my first photo to the blog. This picture is a pinhole photograph, which means it was taken without a lens, light simply passes through a tiny hole drilled in a piece of metal directly onto the film. I will eventually have a pinhole photograph page on my website, but this will do for now.

It was taken at the rooftop cafe at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence this past summer.

The camera was an Agfa Clack I altered to become a pinhole. I found the instructions on Robert Kosara's site, and they

A Nice Suprise

It was a nice suprise to be standing in a checkout line yesterday and be suprised by noticing my own paintings on the front page of the local paper. Molly did a great job on the article. Thank you so much.

Kent was pretty suprised to find himself listed as a local artist.