Review of #PACE17

Review of #PACE17

San Diego #Pace17 Review

San Diego #Pace17

#PACE17 Review

In April very special artist friends Pam Wedemeyer and Joan Brittain and I traveled to San Diego for the annual Plein Air Convention sponsored by Eric Rhodes. Rhodes is the publisher of Plein Air Magazine and Fine Art Magazine, he also teaches art marketing boot camps and has developed a product called Art Marketing in a box, a yearly system with concise instructions for artists to follow to successfully sell their art.

The convention brings together around 1000 artists for one week of painting outdoors, seminars, workshops, and demos by some of the industries most sought after artists. It is a total immersion experience into the world of plein air painting. Some use their plein air paintings as the finished product, while others view it as a way of taking notes and studies for composing larger studio pieces. Either way, painting outside is a completely different experience, especially when shared with hundreds of other artists painting as a group on location.

The Women Rocked

I have to say this was the year of the women! If I were giving out grades on presentation and inspiration the women on stage would by and far receive all A’s. That’s not to say the male presenters didn’t inspire or share wonderful knowledge, the women just did an outstanding job of presenting their unique processes and heartfelt desire to create, living me itching to go out and paint!
I’ll like to share with you just a glimpse into my notes from #PACE17 and how the women really inspired me.
Women #Pace17 San Diego

the Women Rock San Diego #Pace17

Jill Carver- Visual Acuity

acuity |əˈkyo͞oədē| noun: sharpness or keenness of thought, vision, or hearing: intellectual acuity | visual acuity.
Jill Carver was a delight, with her English accent and great quotes from poets and musicians.  Visual acuity was the focus of her demo subdivided into four main points.
  1. Motif
  2. Notan
  3. Separation of Light and Shadow
  4. Freedom in Limitation
Sharing incredibly detailed explanations for improving compositions alongside photo references of her own work. She gave us a list of points to consider before even starting a painting. She believes in the importance of good palette housekeeping in order to simplify the process.  Jill motivated us to try exercises in limitation.
For instance: use only three values, giving so many more choices within hue, chroma, and temperature.

I left her demo wanting more, I will have to look up her workshop schedule!

Roos Shuring #Pace17

Roos Shuring making the most of her time painting on the steps outside the hotel

Roos Shuring- The Holy Grail of Landscape Painting

Roos pronounced “Rose” believes Color and Light are the “Holy Grail” of landscape paintings. She is a dynamic speaker and brilliant palette knife painter. I found her to be very genuine and approachable.
Three takeaways that spoke the loudest to me:
  1. The effect of light is more important than the object.
  2. Use of a small hand mirror held close to one eye, with the other closed look horizontally at your painting with comparative analysis.
  3. Experiment with Notans, see how little information is needed to convey your story.
I met Roos along the marina the first evening paint-out, I was blown away at the effectiveness of simplicity and the golden light in her painting. I I wished I had set up nearer her. After just that brief encounter I knew she’d be someone I really liked and her presentation the next day proved it.
Mary Pettis #Pace17 Painting from the inside out.

Mary Pettis #Pace17 Painting from the inside out.

Mary Pettis – Painting from the inside out.

Painting from the inside out.
I was most inspired by Mary’s declaration that she had designed herself a curriculum in order to be a proficient artist. Not only is she, she followed the lesson plan she set out for herself and has now published it into a book. Her presentation and book were guided by the lessons she learned seeking the knowledge and discipline needed to be an accomplished artist.
“If you don’t love it in the first 13 minutes – WIPE IT OUT” Mary Pettis
Mary laid out a step by step plan to paint a scene that could be completed within an hour. Beginning with an armature.  She had a timer and all!
I have to admit to you all that I didn’t sit through her entire demo. Reason being, I found it so informative and inspiring I had to buy the book and I knew it would sell out as soon as the session ended! I did, however, come straight back, and her painting was really near completion and quite beautiful. Much more beautiful than the photo reference. I’m sure because she was painting a subject she knew well and loved deeply.
One last gem:
“ think with the brush down, paint with passion, then put the brush down again and think”

Dena Peterson

Dena had a fascinating presentation about her experience painting scenes for “Loving Vincent” the first full-length hand painted animated film about the death of Vincent Van Gogh. Peterson a painter and animator from Colorado Springs in the USA, relayed her experience from hearing about the artist call on Facebook, to being chosen one of the 125 artist to work on the project out of 5000 submissions, then to her trips to Poland to work in her cubicle depicting scenes in the style of Van Gogh that had to coordinate with various other artists work and be wiped out once they were recorded.
Talk about daily painting!
Quang Ho #Pace17

Quang Ho pre-convention workshop

To be Fair

The obvious exception to the women ruling the show, Quang Ho. This pre-convention workshop deserves its own post. To be fair, there were men who left an impact on my spirit that week, to name a few Charlie Hunter, Karl Dempwolf, and Tony Pro. These men complimented my work, encouraged me and generously shared their knowledge with me. It goes without saying, Eric Rhodes is THE rock star of these conventions, without his efforts, I wouldn’t have seen or experienced any of this greatness.

Karl Dempwolf #Pace17

Karl Dempwolf and Joan discussing plein air by the sea at #Pace17

My Final Thoughts
I would highly encourage any artist with a desire to connect, improve, expand, learn, grow, be inspired and succeed to attend #PACE18. The Plein Air Convention will be held in the magical high desert city of Santa Fe, New Mexico!!!!!

 If you attended #PACE17 in San Diego, tell me some of your favorite takeaways from the convention. If you curious about attending throw your questions my way in the comments.

#Pace17 #Risingtide

#pace17 is a rising tide.

More photos from #Pace17

Hare-brained Studios March Update

This first quarter of 2017 has been a blur- a fantastic and exciting blur! Returning to my studio in Tubac in mid-January after 8 weeks of travel and holiday fun, I began preparing to teach my first oil painting workshop. Wet Your Whistle Original Oil Painting Leslie Miller Fine Art

I found teaching about a subject I am passion about to be very rewarding. I learned a lot during the lesson planning as well as from my students. The lessons we learned covered a broad spectrum- from making a workbook in Adobe InDesign and designing slides for the presentation in Keynote to the challenges and benefits of painting a subject more than once. Choosing a subject that reflected the group’s area of interest and included lessons in composition, color mixing, and perspective was challenging. I painted from one reference photo 4 times to achieve the perfect size, aspect ratio, and appropriate difficulty and timing for a beginners class. I learned from the experience the importance of value sketches. Familiarity with the subject allows me to create more energetic and expressive brush strokes and the appearance of a more spontaneous reaction to the subject that drew my eye initially.

February Bold and Loose Beginners' Oil Painting Workshop

February Bold and Loose Beginners’ Oil Painting Workshop

From my seven students, I learned more about myself as well as more about creating art. One of the most interesting things to me is how differently we all see the same subjects. Eight paintings approached with the same color pallets, same reference material, and same workflow rendered eight distinctly unique, beautiful paintings. We each have our very own style, vision, and individual mark-making tendencies to express our impressions and observations. This reminded me that we all are creative beings with an artist’s sensibilities. The differentiating factor is how much time and dedication is given to developing skills to become a better artist.

If this inspires you to give oil painting a go, I’ll be teaching the same workshop again March 30, 31 and April 1.Learn more here.

Santa Cruz Valley Open Studio Tour Leslie Miller Fine Art

Santa Cruz Valley Open Studio Tour Leslie Miller Fine Art

In February, I was incredibly and humbly thrilled to learn that I had been voted by the community of TCA to receive The Masters Meed Award.Leslie Miller Fine Art award Master Meed for 2016
A long-standing tradition at the Tubac Center of the Arts the Master Meed award selection takes place by popular vote during the annual Member’s Juried Exhibition. Meeds an old English word meaning “a merited recompense or gift.
The artist acquiring the most votes award a special medallion plaque and he is or her name is permanently added to the Master Meed plaque hanging inside TCA. The first award was made in 1971.
A Tubac jeweler, Tom Barbre of Cloud Dancer gallery, donates mistime and talent to casting the silver medallions designed by Harold Wilson, Tubac Center’s architect.
In January, I launched a new website and product especially for artists-  Art business specific outlines and templates are designed to be used within Evernote, a powerful, fully customizable, and free virtual filing system. Evernote is available on multiple platforms so your ideas, inspirations and everything about your business is stored in the cloud and available to you anywhere, anytime.
After the excitement of the class and the TCA show, John and I checked a huge item off our bucket list this month- an African Safari! It was the trip of a lifetime, steeped in life changing experiences. Be watching for lots of wild animal art, African landscapes, and even portraits to be painted soon. First I’ll have to wade through the 2000+ photos!
I invite you to support the local arts and enrich your soul this weekend. If that wasn’t enough of a whirlwind, I’m thrilled to be hosting a tour of my home studio as part of the Santa Cruz Valley Open Studio Tour. The annual event welcomes visitors to artist’s work spaces for inside look at the individual art processes and inspiration that make artists tick.
3 Lessons Sorolla Confirms

3 Lessons Sorolla Confirms

Sorolla whispered to me...

3 truths Sorolla whispered to me.

What Sorolla whispered to me.

Joaquin Sorolla whispered some truths to me during a recent visit to his home studio-museum in Madrid, Spain. I would like to share these truths with you.

Have you ever been taught something only to find out it was false or self-serving?
Whether you are on a self-guided journey as I am or you attended a well-known school of art, it’s nice to know the principles you’ve been learning are valid. I have been so very fortunate to learn a great deal from one particularly great teacher. I have also attended many workshops and the same core teachings have been expressed from all sources. While some artists find more importance in one principle or another, the basics are mostly the same. Each  artist uses those basics to create their unique style. It’s funny how many times we need to hear it before we take it to heart.

While visiting Sorolla’s home and studio, these three ideas were reiterated in a powerful way in my mental library:

3 truths Sorolla whispered to me. Sorolla-El Bano del Caballo / Le Cheval Blanc

Joaquin Sorolla-El Bano del Caballo / Le Cheval Blanc

1: Paint With Your Whole Body

Quick, deliberate strokes made with complete confidence read with an energetic vibrancy that transforms a rendered image into a work of art. I was ever so self-conscious as I found myself holding an imaginary brush and imitating the gestures required to make certain strokes that were so obviously fired with passion. Sorolla knew his drawing sensibilities were strong, so he was able to place the marks just where he intended them to fall.

Cotilde Sitting on the Sofa - 1910- Joaquin Sorolla

Cotilde Sitting on the Sofa – 1910- Joaquin Sorolla

2: Light Does Not Come Only From White

Juxtaposed colors and temperatures vibrate with light. Hard and soft edges along with “lost and found” edges create form. This is one of the concepts my mentor, Lou Maestas, has pounded into my head. I totally understand, in theory. My challenge is seeing which two complementary colors the light is reflecting in a given area. I am not sure if this is the artist’s interpretation, a result of the surrounding local color, or my poor squinting skills. To see Sorolla’s works up close, then to stand back and observe the overall effect of juxtaposed complementary color, and to hear Henri’s words in my subconscious, I can recognize that luminosity is found in color not white.

What a treat to see how effective this technique can be. The white of Cotilde Garcia del Castillo’s dress with its high key mixes of pinks and greens next to blues and oranges reads as nothing but white.

Mi mujer y mis hijos, 1910-Joaquin Sorolla-blogpost- 3 truths Sorolla whispered to me-

Mi mujer y mis hijos, 1910-Joaquin Sorolla

3: There is No Need to Paint to full Completion

Once the story is told, is it really necessary to say more?

We all know that person- they start a story with so much enthusiasm you can’t help but  be drawn in, then they embellish it with a backstory and you’re even more intrigued, but then there is a backstory to the backstory and an association that needs explanation by means of another association, and soon you are no longer listening but wondering, “will the ever stop talking?”
Many of Sorolla’s works -in fact, two of my favorite- were not painted to completion. I had to hear it on the audio guide before I even noticed that his wife’s face is basically still in the “mud face” stage in “Mi mujer y Mis Hijos.” There are parts of the child’s hand that are little more than a placement sketch. There are sections inside the focal point area that are incomplete. I was so drawn into the scene that the lack of these details was lost on me.


Each child’s individual characteristics and personality were expressed. The oldest poised and confident, the obvious leader. The middle child pushing to be seen and heard. The younger girl is also checking to see that they are all together. The baby, a free-spirit, unencumbered by things like clothes. All followed by a devoted and beautiful mother.

imageLet me share some bonus insights

When we settled into our hotel room later that afternoon, I did some research on Jaquin Sorolla y Bastide, specifically his painting methods and theories.

One very interesting observation is about value choices in his paintings.  Sorolla kept at least two full steps between value changes of the shadows and the passages of light. That insight gives me something to ponder and to strive for.

I found this article particularly fascinating study of Sorolla’s techniques and methods:

Joaquin Sorolla studio

Joaquin Sorolla studio peek collage

Was it A Crazy Choice?

It’s kind of crazy to think I chose one painter’s individual museum over seeing the world famous Museo de Prado on my visit to Madrid. I did so because I love Sorolla’s work, particularly his loose and expressive strokes, accurate rendering, and, of course, treatment of the light. The ability to capture light evades most artists, even though it is commonly our ultimate goal. What better way to break down the elusive task than to study from the master himself?

Two Countries Separated by a Common Language and Pork

Two Countries Separated by a Common Language and Pork


I see no pigs

I taste ham and cheese with butter, cucumbers, and tomatoes from the garden. I taste lots and lots of pork and see no pigs; I see tons of sheep and rarely find lamb on the menu.
Wales has a population of approximately three million people.
The population of sheep in Wales is four times greater than the Welsh population of humans.
Lamb was on the occasional dinner menu, but less often than you might think. We walked through hundreds of sheep every day, everywhere!

Two Countries Separate by a Common Language

Two Countries Separate by a Common Language.The origins of the quote are a bit fuzzy but can most arguably be attributed to Bernard Shaw.
“England and America are two countries separated by the same language.”
And you can quote him on that, because he also has been credited with saying, “I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
As I’ve mentioned before our accommodations came with breakfast. Whenever it was time to order breakfast, usually the night before, it was always ham and bacon that gave us the most issue. We’d say ham meaning bacon they’d look confused, who eats ham at breakfast? The choices for breakfast are bacon or sausage.
Clear as mud,
In the UK bacon is more like our “country ham” and streaky bacon is what Americans think of as bacon.
Then there is the sausage. I’m a southern girl, sausage is Wamplers, sausage patties fried in a cast iron skillet.
Wamplers Wamplers, it’s farm sausage. Their sausage is a large thick link, not “sagey” and peppery, but more like what we have on a bun with mustard and onions.

Care for a Butty?

Did you know?
Butty is a Welsh term for “sandwich” and slang for “friend” or “buddy.”
Another difference in culture is evident in the way sandwiches are prepared. 
Not mustard, sometimes mayo but always butter.
Wonder why this is?
I was told it forms a barrier between the fillings and the bread. Makes perfect sense.
Order a ham and cheese you’ll likely open your lunch bag to find a  shredded cheese and butter along with a ham and butter butty!
Ultimately pork is featured at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, even though we never saw a single pig, in 182 miles! Did we eat them all?

If you enjoy these sensory storylines pin on Pinterest it helps me out so much!

Painting #11



#11 #30in30paintingchallenge! purple-mtn-cliff-walk

What do these movies have in common with Offa’s Dyke Path?

Sensory Stories Offa’s Dyke Path Leslie Miller Fine Art
What do these movies have in common with Offa’s Dyke Path?

Can you guess what strings these Movies, books, and shows together?

  1. The Wind and Willows
  2. Winnie the Pooh
  3. Rebecca
  4. Harry Potter
  5. Wuthering Heights
  6. Downton Abbey.wind-in-the-willows-knothole
The Wind and the Willows & Winnie the Pooh
Illustrator Ernest Shepard  depicts the beautiful United Kingdom in both Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows. As a child, these places seemed so very magical and foreign to me.
Hitchcock Fan
My mother and I share a love for Hitchcock movies. Rebecca, Set in Cornwall and Monte Carlo yet filmed in California, this one of my all time favorites. Rebecca won two Oscars for Best Picture and Best Cinematography (ironic, huh?)
Ode to the moors
Wuthering Heights is like an ode to the moors and their mystery. What a great film to watch on a rainy day under the covers and drinking tea.
I bounded, leaped, and flew down the steep road [from Wuthering Heights]; then, quitting its windings, shot direct across the moor, rolling over banks, and wading through marshes: precipitating myself, in fact, towards the beacon-light of the Grange.
Worthy of a fantastical film
The landscape of Wales is worthy of the JK Rowling’s Fantasy series Harry PotterThe seventh in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, the set for Shell Cottage was built on site, in  Pembrokeshire, Wales  The entire cottage is built of seashells.
Luna Lovegood:  “It’s beautiful here.”
Downton Abbey Vacations
Downton Abbey has a huge following, so much so, the Welsh tourism industry has found a way to market Wales to Downton Abbey fans. Wales Online, even has a list of locations you can visit to experience life, reminiscent of Downton Abbey.
Often, on this hike, I felt as if I was in familiar territory, though it was my first visit. Looking into these films that came to mind I found the common thread. All were settings in the United Kingdom, for books or movies which had made an impact on my memories. 
#7 of #30in30PaintingChallenge!Leslie Miller Fine Art
So You Think You’re Not Creative

So You Think You’re Not Creative


I believe anyone can learn to draw or paint. It is in us all. We were, after all, created by a creator, in His image. Genesis 1:27

YES! I think anyone can become an artist… that is, if they have a genuine desire to become one.
I often hear, “I wish I was talented,” I wish I knew how to paint,”I wish I was creative…” etc. I don’t think this is the problem.
I believe the difference from amateur to professional artistic qualities is dedication.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” -Vince Lombardi

In regards to how quickly I’ve gone from drawing stick figures to recognizable images, I put a lot of hard work and dedication into practicing art. You could ask anyone on my block and they would tell you the same.
In addition to my Mondays with Lou, my art mentor, I read art books, take online courses, attend workshops, listen to podcasts like Artists Helping Artists, I study notes from every learning experience I document, and paint nearly everyday.

I have some “art crushes” in particular that I try to learn from by both mimicking and studying from them.
One particular artist I have a crush on is Texas artist, Lesley Humphreys. Lesley is quite generous with her knowledge, sharing free online lessons.

artist crushblack

Look for a new feature Artist Crush to begin soon, featuring artists work I greatly admire.


Counting Stars

Counting Stars

I am ready to start setting goals and counting stars!

“After ten weeks and 25,842 miles away from my easel, I am ready to be back. I’m ready to create. I’m ready to be inspired!”

24,901 mi-2

Where I’ve Been:

This winter, we were able to take a cruise around the African continent. Crossing Africa and South America off our list, we headed to Tennessee for Christmas with our family. We are so incredibly blessed with our family.
Right after the New Year, we drove to Port St. Lucie, Florida, to pick up our new RV. Since selling our home in Sequim, this is our “apartment on wheels,” if you will. I hope it will also be my studio on wheels, the workshop wagon, and the means to get me to art classes all around the country.

I am Counting Stars

With the wheels spinning, ideas and ambition itching, I have decided to set some goals for 2016. I would like to share them with you so you can help keep me accountable. These goals include:
[ ] have business cards printed by February 1
[ ] host an open studio, scheduled March 18,19,20
[ ] attend 5 workshops, 1 coming up soon in 2016, 2 more now scheduled
[ ] start an email list campaign By January 22, 2016
[ ] give away a painting each quarter in 2016
[ ] publish a quarterly newsletter in 2016
[ ] post on my blog 2x per week beginning Feb 1, 2016
[ ] complete 6 paintings for an Owl series by June 1, 2016
[ ] donate a painting to a charitable cause- animal shelter, horse rescue…in 2016
[ ] be ready to participate in  the quick draw competition (November/December)
[ ] see my art hanging in a reputable gallery (wheels are turning) by the end of 2016
[ ] Sell $X of artwork in 2016

Smart Goals

Most likely you have heard of smart goals, the mnemonic acronym …

Specific (Goals must be clear and unambiguous)

Measurable (Results must be able to be measured in some way, for example, the number of products sold each week, or the percent completion)

Attainable: Goals must be realistic and attainable

Relevant: Goals must relate to your vision and mission

Time-bound: Goals must have definite starting and ending points, and a fixed duration

here’s a link to the worksheets I used to set my Smart goals.

Goal Worksheet

Goal Worksheet

As I achieve my goals I mark them with a star. I also plan to implement a ★★★★★ rating system for my paintings. Now I am at about 2 for 10 I hope to see those odds change for the better.

Be in the Loop

I’ll have lots to share in the coming months I hope you’ll enjoy reading and give me permission to keep you in the loop.

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