Gems of Wisdom

Yesterday, I happened upon Diane Santarella’s name in association with a gentleman, whom I have watched for years, William “Skip” Lawrence.

Being the person of curiosity that I am, I Googled Diane wanting to know more about her and her art. This act led me to two blogs . . . . .actually, more than two . . . . of Diane’s and Skip’s.

Departing from that line of thought for the moment . . . . .it has been my observation in my art life that there is much introspection occurring in the good artist, whether or not it be conscious. Coming up with ‘who am I’ for the artist is not an easy process in this society because we have so many distractions beginning with TV and probably ending with working to survive. The mass media has led us Americans down a path of cheap, easy to come by images that are usually shallow and don’t have much to say about the creator of the image. So, the authentic, honest artist must strip away layers of years of ‘indoctrination’ about conformity and acknowledging the accepted, conventional wisdom.

All that said, I have spent twenty five years trying to strip away all that stuff and back in 1994 was introduced to Skip in a one week workshop. Not that I wanted to paint like him, but was most curious about his ideas and how he might have stripped away the fluff of indoctrination and put his own, authenticity on the line. It wasn’t long after that workshop that I saw something in Skip’s painting history which made me sit up and take notice: Absolute Growth. That is a biiig deal in my book because most workshop instructors are about “How to Paint Like Me.” They do little to change out of fear that their followers will leave them. So, growth and change, in my eyes, is an act of outright courage. It is an outright confrontation of the fears which follow many artists.

Like many workshop instructors, Skip led the masses in how to paint the traditional watercolor images for some years . . . .he even published a book with those images in them. Then there was a sudden shift. And that shift has evolved into one of the most frank and authentic bodies of work I have ever seen come from a water media artist. He has consistently moved to higher levels of newness every single year! Moreover, he stands by his work and his ideas without waver.

Back to the subject of the blogs by Diane Santarella . . . . . .put in short verbiage, it appears she is the mirror image of Skip in her own authentic approach to art and living. It is a rare soul, these days, who seems to be able to articulate his or her presence in the events of living, and Diane is one of those rare souls. Mind you, I use the word ‘presence’ with conviction because there are few of us in life who can BE PRESENT in the moment of what ever is happening. We, as human animals, seem to add our ‘stuff’ to what ever is occurring, be it interpretation or part of the events of the past or combinations of both. Diane, on the other hand, seems to be present in every moment of her life and acknowledges the realms of possibility which lie in each moment. No small state of mind!

It seems to me that Skip and Diane have a unique place in living out their respective artistic lives: They are infatuated with each other (and they are married) because they can both SEE the absolute beauty and the reality of their presence in the moment. What each adds to those moments, via their art, is so vastly original and exposed that there is no BS in their world. No wonder their lives are so intertwined.

How glorious!

Here are a few links to follow if you are interested in Skip’s thoughts about art and Diane’s words and art. Obviously, I found both to be quite compelling! on this page are seven links to as many different blogs. Skip’s studio notes

A quote from Diane: “Ultimately, if you’re going to do something personal, you have to look at your own mind, your own heart, to do it, Not out the window.”

And another Santarella Gem:: Approach each moment fresh, use your knowledge and skill as an assist, not a crutch, to discover the possibilities within each action, each choice.”

Someone once said, ‘Every moment is a gift. That is why they call it the present.”

And, in case either Skip or Diane stop by this blog . . . . . .thank you both for being so real and having the courage and wonderful audacity to offer it to all of us!

About The Dream

Call me a hopeless romantic. Or, call me a naive child. Perhaps I am.

Maybe you might be, too. I had several people remind me today that the rainbow connection exists.

What is that, you ask? Years ago, it was a song . . .sung by a favorite character of my daughter’s and mine. It was brought to my doorstep again today, my birthday. I wasn’t particularly excited about it being my birthday, but the reminder was about a dream I had years ago . . . .and still do. Not the sort of dream in sleep, but a vision of a hopeful future.

It has arrived. The future, that is. And the reality of that dream is at hand.

The voice I heard in that song was none other than Kermit the frog. Yup! He sang it in his corny, twangy voice . . .but there was nothing corny about the lyrics. . . . .

Why are there so many songs about rainbows?
And what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong, wait and see.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it,
And look what it’s done so far.
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

All of us under its spell,
We know that it’s probably magic…

… Have you been half asleep? And have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name….
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it
It’s something that I’m s’posed to be…

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

Some would make fun of this private feeling I have about these words. Let them! Today, I was reminded that I heard that sweet sound . . .those voices from within calling my name. It has been through that ‘inner voice’ that my dream . . .my vision . . .is here.
You, dear reader, and those with whom I have come to know through my art over the years are all part of the dream. It has materialized in greater and greater form every year since good ole Kermit sang the lyrics . . . .the dream, I mean. In a few days, I will board a plane bound for the East Coast to be with some of the worlds best watercolor painters . . which is more of the dream coming to life. . . . . . . Like Kermit said in his song . . . . .”I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it. It’s something I’m s’posed to be . . .”
You may smirk or snidely chide or even dismiss it. I never did. I still listen to the voice.

(Click Here if you’d like to hear Sarah McLachlan sing it as it should be sung.)



As you may already know, I am hosting a group of painters (and non painters) in France at the end of this month August 27 through September 7.

Until last week, we had a full complement of people signed up, paid for and ready to go. One couple, however, sustained sudden health issues and will not be able to take their place on this wonderful trip to Southern France. Their cost was $7000. Unfortunately, that cost cannot be refunded due to their late cancellation.

They are offering their place for half price, $3500, not including airfare. This price includes all breakfasts and dinners, comfortable, quaint French Country (impeccably decorated) quarters for 13 nights and all your ground transportation, all at half price.

If you would be interested in exploring this great bargain, please email me directly at Time is of the essence!!

More can be learned at the following link; Petit Rousset

Browse through the above website and discover the fabulous accommodations and some of our itinerary / adventure. The Perigord is wonderfully picturesque region with tons of history dating back to cave dwelling painters, the hundred years war, the impressionist and more. We will be in the heart of wine country and will be doing some wine exploring, also.

If your mate is not a painter . . . or, even if you are not, don’t hesitate. Non painters have a ball on this trip as there are day trips almost daily. The food, too, is absolutely wonderful . . . . not to mention the great companionship and fun.

First come first served. Don’t delay. This is a once in a decade bargain !

The News . . .

I went ‘out of town’ today. To Carmel to keep an appointment with a very nice, mainstream gallery to review my oil paintings and for them to consider representing my work. To make a long story short, the work was accepted and will be hung prominently! Not all work was shown, obviously, but enough to show consistency. I am pleased! This is a new beginning! Can you see me beaming?

Needed Advice From Plein Air Painters

While I am away teaching this week, I would be interested in comments from other plein air painters about what they paint on. I have ordered some panels and find myself wondering what other painters use and why. I would be interested in your thoughts about what you use and the sources. Just click on the comment link below and let me know. Thanks.

Can Anyone Hear Me?

Can anyone hear me wimpering ‘uncle?’

Can anyone hear me yelling at all? I am so tired, it seems I could go to sleep for a week or more!

But it is probably better that you don’t hear. No one likes complaining. So, here is a run down of excuses why I haven’t been oil painting.

10. I stayed up too late watching “The Bachelor” last night. (huh? Whaas thaaat?)
9. I awoke waaaay too early this morning. ( so? )
8. I ran out of titanium white. (doubtful!)
7. I have nothing to paint on, like canvas or linen. ( so, uh, what’s that big roll in your studio?)
6. The buyers have been ringing the phone 24/7 begging for more work. (Beeee Essss!)
5. I have been lost in deeeeeep meditation. (You’ve ALWAYS been lost, dude!)
4. I ran out of gas. (That is simply impossible, knowing you, Bailey) (ahem!)
3. I am stuck on what I should teach at the upcoming workshop. (You????)
2. While I am busy all weekend hosting people at open studio, my honey-do list has balooned.

And the number one reason why I haven’t been painting . . . . .

1. I have spent nearly every spare moment preparing for the upcoming color workshop to be given in Murphys, California

And furthermore . . . . . I am rising early running to the studio and digging in to make charts, color wheels, puzzles and exercises. Making and painting wood blocks to paint . . .and more. . . . .while I keep everything perfectly neat, and re-tidy, for this weekend’s last open studio session. (Uncle!!)(Enuff, already!!)

Soon, everyone! Soon!!