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On Display

November 15, 2014

.pure barre 1It isn’t often you find a young professional who loves traditional landscape paintings enough to decorate her business with them.  A couple of weeks ago, we heard that Dory Blackey had seen a couple of my watercolors on display as part of a show at Public House Heights, a local neighborhood bar and eatery.  Shortly after that, Dory looked us up at the First Saturday Arts Market.  The rest is history. A few days ago, we installed 17 of my gouache landscape paintings at Dory’s new business, Pure Barre- Houston Heights.  It’s not exactly what one expects to see in the entrance hall of a fitness studio.

pure barre 2

Walking into a fitness studio, one would expect to find huge posters of beautiful people working out.  Not here.  Before you reach the actual lobby/reception area, you step into what appears to be a contemporary art gallery. As part of our agreement, Dory has already posted on social media that the paintings are for sale, and that she’s happy to tell you about them.  Why no bold, colorful abstracts, as one would expect from a young person?  According to Dory, she grew up in the kind of countryside that these paintings portray.

pure barre 3 Surrounded by one of the oldest neighborhoods in Houston, this business is representative of the revitalization that is taking place in the Heights. Historic homes are being renovated and new condos are being built. Professionals of all ages are moving in and bringing the area up to date. We are already regulars at the nearby First Saturday Arts Market.  Being displayed in a local business like this gives us another strong link to the area. And we’ve made a delightful new friend.

For Sale

October 27, 2014

As promised, we are making some older art available for purchase at what we believe are very reduced prices.  This first group is a collection of flower drawings, all 8″x10″, with a border.  These are original Prismacolor (colored pencil) drawings and should all be framed under glass, with a mat.

The price of each item here is $60.00, without mat and unframed.  Add $5 per order for shipping & handling.

Purchase will be by PayPal.  If you have purchased from us before, we will consider accepting a check.  If you’re using a credit card, PayPal is the way to go.  Send me an email to (that’s also the email to use for PayPal).  DO NOT pay before contacting me!  That assures that you don’t pay for something that has already been sold.  In the email, simply tell me (by number) which pieces you want to purchase.  We’ll finalize things via return email.

framed flowers

In case you’re wondering what these will looked like framed, the photo above shows two reproductions, matted and framed and hanging on a brick wall above a fireplace mantle.

So, with all that said, here are the colored pencil flower drawings. Hover your mouse over the image to see its number.

Sale Coming Up

October 24, 2014


Flower 1, 8×10, Colored Pencil

Now that I’ve got my computer back, I’ve got work to do.  Over the next weeks, I’ll be posting some older work for sale. There will be a range of media, including colored pencil, graphite pencil, pen & ink and gouache.  I’ll post it here on this blog.  I’m still agonizing over pricing, but I’ll try to set my ego aside and make it very reasonable.  The object is to sell it and free up storage space in the RV.  The first lot will be a collection of ten colored pencil drawings of individual flowers.  These were done 15 to 20 years ago.  I may have several pieces in one post, but each piece will be sold separately.  Stay tuned.

Recap: October First Saturday Arts Market

October 5, 2014


What a change from a month ago.  It will be short-lived, but the weather yesterday was gorgeous.  Temperatures in the 70s and low 80s, with a light breeze under a clear blue sky.  Couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.

by Darlene Besier 1

Photo by Darlene Besier


We continued our focus on the miniature work as well as having larger (8×10) unframed originals available.  The crowd was manageable.  While there were some occasional quiet moments, for the most part it was steady and at times really busy.


Until now, the minis have almost all had Nell’s touch with strong, bold color.  I did a couple in more subdued tones in anticipation that some people might prefer that.  They sold as well, with one lady saying “I’m not a bright color person.”  I’ll probably do more of these.






Nell had produced quite a few of her little signature florals for this market.  Now she has to do more because we sold almost every one of them.  These little gems are very popular everywhere we go.



house4no 50

Unframed mini paintings were popular yesterday.  A number of 3″x 3 ” like the one on the left above found new homes, and a set of four 2″x 2″ sold as well. These are on stretched canvas and look nice sitting on small easels.

It looked like everyone who passed by was in a good mood (again, beautiful weather) and folks seemed to be in a buying mood. We had a couple of repeat customers who came back looking for companion pieces to framed minis they had purchased before, and a very nice English couple who move their art with them to various places added an 8×10 painting of a snowy Ohio field and trees to their collection.  A little girl came by with her mother and said she keeps her jewelry in the little Treasure Keeper box they bought at White Linen Night in August.  There was a couple who were moving to New York and expected to move into a smaller living environment.  Small art was important to them.  There was the Minimalist who displays very little art, but had to have one of our colorful, tiny pieces, because it made her smile.

Our friend Charlie Buck came by, and it was a delight to meet his family.  We felt bad that we were distracted by the crowd that was keeping us busy.  Charlie has supplied us with the tiles that we’re hoping will become great coasters and trivets.  We think we’re getting close to going into production.

As always, we enjoyed spending the day in the company of potter John Delafield and jeweler Steve Sellers, who were on either side of us.  It was fun to watch their inventory go down throughout the day just as ours did.  We also again sing the praises of Mitchell Cohen, founder, owner and coordinator of First Saturday Arts Market.  He tirelessly promotes this monthly market, brings in great live music and food trucks, and keeps things running smoothly for the artists.  Gen’s Antiques, our next door neighbor has partnered with the Market, allowing the artists a chance to cool off in the summer heat and to use their facilities.  An extra bonus for the Market artists is that Doug at Gen’s displays our art for sale with no commission.  Gen’s Antiques is located at 540 W. 19th Street, Houston, TX, and they are open every day until 7:30 pm.

minis at fsam octWe sold seagulls, colorful roosters and fish, and even cute little bluebirds. The flying pelican on the orange background headed to a beach house along with a framed 5×7 beach painting.


And pigs did fly.  This one sold online before the show, but we took four more to the market, all different, and sold three of them.

This stuff won’t go in the art history books, by any means.  But it’s something we do together, a fun, no-stress way of generating a little income.  We hope to add the coasters and trivets soon, and we’re looking for a convenient way to display just a handful of framed paintings without adding a lot of bulk to the show equipment.  That will give us more depth, with a balance between tiny whimsy and larger, more traditional work.  Our approach to art, like our lifestyle, continues to be a work in progress.

We will be relocating from Houston to the Austin, Texas area in the next few months.  We’ll only be three hours away, so we’ll continue to do the First Saturday Arts Market, even after we move.

It’s a busy time.  Tomorrow, we close on the purchase and take delivery of a 36 foot fifth wheel trailer.  We’ll transfer our belongings and then place our motorhome to be sold on consignment.  We also need to replenish our inventory of small art before the weekend.  We’re scheduled to have a booth set up at the Imperial Sugar Farmers Market next Saturday morning.

We’re having a good time.

by Darlene Besier 2 at 500

Photo by Darlene Besier



Back to First Saturday Arts Market

October 1, 2014


This Saturday we will return to the First Saturday Arts Market in the Houston Heights.


We’ve created lots of new pieces that range from the whimsical little houses to seagulls, colorful roosters, and quirky tiny flying machines.  Nell has also done several of her signature floral minis.  We’re looking forward to having a great day.


I also managed to get back to this little watercolor painting that I started several days ago.  When I try to do these in gouache, I seem to tighten up, but with watercolor, I tend to keep it sketchy and loose.  I’m really having a lot of fun doing work like this.

Size Matters

September 14, 2014

Minis at Buddy and Doris 2

We have been on the road for the past three weeks, traveling to visit kids, grandkids and Nell’s family in Ohio, then back to Houston to do the First Saturday Arts Market on September 6.  The next day we headed  to San Angelo in west Texas to visit my brother and sister-in-law, with a stopover in Austin to spend the night with our youngest daughter and her family. We returned home on Thursday, spent Friday creating and framing a group of new minis, then got up at 5:15 am Saturday (yesterday) to do 4 hours at a farmers market in Sugar Land.

At the last three shows we’ve done, we have found that, for us, the combination of small, colorful and inexpensive is the key to generating revenue at small, low-cost venues.  I suspect size might also be a factor for those who sell at higher price points and do higher priced shows.

I’ll address the reasons we do the low cost shows and markets in another blog article.  For now, I’m just using a quiet day off from being on the go to catch up with our activities.

FSAM Sept 1

The booth at the September  First Saturday Arts Market

Making the transition from a “gallery” style booth with Pro Panel walls and framed paintings to a much simpler presentation has been challenging.  There has been, at least on my part, a bit of adjustment  from “look at how elegant we are” to “look at the fun stuff we have”.  Our lifestyle called for a reduction in the amount of equipment we stored and transported.  Age has also been a factor.  Loading, setup, tear-down and unloading and storing had become a bit more physically challenging, especially on hot days.  So we have simplified things.

FSAM Sept 2

Our booth at the First Saturday Arts Market on September 6th consisted of the Light Dome canopy and three tables.  (Unseen in this image is the third table forming an “L” corner at the left side of the photo.)  Where we used to carry three large tubs with framed art, we now have four small tubs for framed minis, unframed canvas minis with little easels, note cards, and unframed 8×10/5×7/4×6 paintings.  We sold primarily framed minis, some unframed canvas minis, a few packages of note cards and a couple of 4×6 unframed originals.  It was an almost unbearably hot day, but for our purposes, it was profitable.  The added bonus is the enjoyment of meeting new people, and the potential for creating new collectors.  We also had friends on each side of us: jeweler Steve Sellers and potter John Delafield, which meant several hours of conversation and camaraderie.

Nell for sugar land

Nell enjoys playing with color.

We arrived back home from our trip to west Texas on Thursday afternoon.  Because we had sold quite a few of the little mini paintings, we spent a good part of the day Friday producing more of them.  I did simple quick light pencil sketches, then, using acrylics, Nell painted over them in her colorful, whimsical style.  I added some pencil enhancements on top of that, along with a coat of acrylic gloss varnish.  After dinner, we put them into frames and packed them up.

imperial sugar farmers market sept

The “revised” setup under the pavilion at the Imperial Sugar Farmers Market.

The alarm woke us at 5:15 am Saturday morning.  We had loaded the car on Friday, so all we had to do was fill the cooler with ice and drinks and load it in.  We had decided to do the Imperial Sugar Farmers Market for two reasons:  it was an easy drive; and as an incentive to draw more artists to the venue, this one had no booth fee.  We had been watching the weather, and the forecast was grim.  Thunderstorms to hit right around setup time, and rain throughout the day.  We arrived around 7am and were greeted by watercolor artist Mike Vollmer.  We had met Mike a few years ago at First Saturday Arts Market.  When we slowed our attendance down, we lost track of Mike.  Turns out he’s been doing the Farmers Market in Sugar Land for a year or two, and had coordinated the drive to get more artists to setup during the weekly markets.

It was misting a bit when we set up, and the wind picked up at about the same time.  Our friend Steve Sellers showed up with his wife and son and they began setting up across from us.  We were all just about completely set up when Steve walked over with the weather map on his phone.  What looked like a pretty nasty storm was headed our way.  Steve recently had back surgery and was still recovering, using a cane to get around.  With the possibility of having to tear down in driving rain, Steve made what I think was the right decision:  they decided to break it down, load it up and go back home.  Nell and I had just about completed our setup when Mike Vollmer stepped over from his spot next to us.  I had noticed he had his canopy up, but hadn’t unpacked and set anything up yet.  He was debating whether to stay and ride it out as well.  We had never walked away from a show before, but that pretty much did it for us.  As we watched Steve Sellers drive away, we decided to pack it up.

Once all the artwork was packed up and we were about to start taking the canopy down, a lady came over from the pavilion and said there were a few open spaces and we were welcome to set up there. Mike and I walked over, checked it out and decided we would stay and set up under cover.  To allow others to do the same, we agreed we could share a 10×10 space.  We finished the teardown at our original spot and moved the tables and art into the pavilion.  Even with the limited space, we managed to meet some very nice people, reconnected with Mike, and sold some art.

We knew that some of our artist friends had been doing area farmers markets for quite a while.  Since we are small venue artists, we decided to try it.  With a booth fee of $25 and less than a half hour drive, we couldn’t go too far wrong.  As it turned out, even if we had paid a booth fee on this one, we would have made it, paid for gas and lunch, and still made a little money.  The way we look at it, we could have stayed home and sat inside on a rainy day and made nothing.

Where’s the adventure in that?

Minis at Buddy and Doris 1

Above is a closeup of some of the new miniature work.






Pencil drawings & sketches

August 28, 2014


I’ve often said here that my first love is pencil.  I believe the ability to draw is one of the most important tools in the artist’s box, and sketching things out of my imagination and memory is a favorite pastime. I’ve spent a lot of time with sketchbook and pencils lately.  The image above was a preliminary sketch for a small painting.


While I love building textures in sketches, sometimes a quick form and a few lines can tell the entire story.  In the sketch above, I blocked in the house on the left quickly, and before I knew it, this beach scene at low tide almost drew itself onto the paper.


As if there aren’t enough projects in the studio, the idea of an illustrated book just won’t go away.  In line with the cottages and barns that have been filling pages in my sketchbooks, farm scenes keep popping up in my mind.


Of course, farm scenes involve chickens, goats, cows and other animals, so I’ve been doing little sketches of those, working from images found online and in my own photo albums.

IMG_2359And, in the process, a rickety old bridge over a creek came to mind with a boy and a fishing pole, ready to spend some quiet time.


Sometimes a pencil sketch is nothing more than a value study, with only hints at detail.  This sketch of a small building in Maine will eventually become a painting. Meanwhile, the original sketch was purchased by a collector.






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