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Wishing you PEACE today!

12 Days of Christmas!

Happy December 1st everyone! It’s the first day you can legitimately start opening up those advent calendars.  For me it’s the chocolate filled one I’ve had staring at me from across my drawing table for the past week.  It’s also the first day when I typically start to feel the panic countdown set in of all the things I need to do over the next few weeks.  In general I just plain hate countdowns, BUT~ here is a countdown I plan to follow and I encourage you to do the same, if not just to have a little fun and a break from the other countdowns you have going on. Follow each day here: CNN’s “12 Days of Christmas” :0)

Oh, the colors of Fall!

Fall comes late in the year for us Southern Californians, but when it does it is a much welcome time.  This afternoon I took my dog, Shamus, for a walk (poor thing has been somewhat neglected lately).  The sun was just beginning to set and the colors reflecting around me were AMAZING!  It’s never hard to find inspiration in the Fall.  I brought along my camera and started snapping.  The colors and textures came alive and I even noticed that my dog fits in this time of year with his  brown and orange fur.  This past week I began a lesson with my 4th grade students on sketching leaves.  I talked a lot with my students on the intricacies and detail in every leaf.  For homework I assigned them the job of finding a tree that is changing color, to stand under it, and look up and marvel.  I hope they do it because I certainly enjoyed it today while on my walk.

So, there you have it – that is your homework too. Enjoy the color!  It’s going fast.

(The leaf field design above is  available for license KATE PITNER DESIGNS:/BD-ABL3)

For the love of Sweets and Wayne Thiebaud

I love food, art, and artists who paint pictures of food!  It’s a win-win for me to see such beauty, which is why I love Wayne Thiebaud (Tee-bow)!

I have been an art teacher for more than 15 years, and I have been asked many times by my art students “who is your favorite artist”.  I can never answer that question without a million sidebars stating “I love Gauguin’s color, Cezanne’s majesty, Monet’s peace, Arcimboldo’s humor, Rockwell’s story, Renoir’s grace, and so on…   I could go on for hours; but when I am asked who my favorite artist is I always think of Wayne Thiebaud first.  I have many reasons for this; Wayne paints beautiful images of food (which I’ve already established that I love), he lives in Northern California where I grew up.  He also was an associate Professor at UC Davis where I went to school.  His art is beautiful to look at and to be present with, and his balance of color and space is perfect.  I think I love Thiebaud’s work so much because he comes to his art from the same place as me.   Like him, I can walk by a bakery window and stand and stare at the beauty and balance of perfectly displayed donuts.  I marvel at the color in a jar of jelly beans or a bubble gum dispenser.  I can never get bored with a beautifully decorated cake.  And so on …  Like Thiebaud, I love to create “food art”, and even though I never want to be type-cast in any one category, I do gravitate  toward the food themes whenever I’m given the chance.  It’s my comfort, what can I say.

I am currently teaching an art lesson to my 3rd grade students on Wayne Thiebaud’s “Pies and Cakes”.  It is a favorite lesson of mine that I usually do in November and December because of the Seasonal theme of food and fun.  Thiebaud is fabulous because he not only has fun with shape and color but also uses his memory and imagination to create his perfect desserts.  This flexibility allows my students to create in that same fashion, which is not only liberating but enormously fun for them too.

A while back I decided to try and paint an inspired birthday cake in Thiebaud’s technique of using thick and heavy paint strokes to give the affect of frosting and texture.  It was much more challenging than I thought but I feel good about the outcome.  I thought I’d share a little of the “Sweetness” with you today!  :0)

Fall into Inspiration! Scarecrows, Sunflowers, Pumpkins, oh my!

My family and I went to a local pumpkin patch with some friends this past weekend.  It was wonderful and full of so much inspiration that I wanted to share it all with you!

In Southern California we typically don’t get a lot of rain this time of year, but on this particular day the rain gods smiled on us and the skies were dark with clouds and there was a cool crisp wind blowing.  The scarecrows in “Scarecrow Alley” were marvelous. Most were done by local groups ranging in age (children to adult).  A few were SO creepy my friend and I swore they were going to come to life and jump out at us.  It is always fun to see how creative people can be, especially when it comes to ephemeral art.  Enjoy!

I wish you a Happy Fall & a Spooky Halloween!

Every day should be a Pumpkin Day!

I have wonderful friends and they all know that I absolutely LOVE pumpkins!  It’s a good thing that my birthday falls in the Fall.  When my “big day” rolls around the special treats I receive all seem to revolve around pumpkins, Autumn, and Halloween ~  and I couldn’t be happier about that.  Above is a special coffee cake (really more like an unbelievably rich and delicious regular cake, but since this celebration took place in the morning we justified it by calling it a ‘coffee cake’).  This masterpiece was lovingly made by my friend Mary.  It had two layers – lemon spice on the top and pumpkin spice on the bottom, with yummy frosting in between and all around. It was incredible!  I wanted to share this photo with you because it not only brightened my birthday breakfast, but  it has inspired me to create some more pumpkin art.  Maybe a pumpkin cake?  We’ll see.  I’ll keep you posted.

This image reminds me, however, that everyone has a crazy little obsession about something.  For me it’s pumpkins. I love their color(s), the many varieties you can buy – from Ghost, to Sugar, to warty, to smooth, and their varied shapes and sizes.  In every way the pumpkin is the most perfect vegetable in my book (next to the most perfect fruit – the apple, but that’s another blog post).  My love for searching out fun pumpkin, Fall, and Halloween things to buy in the stores is what originally started my interest in Art Licensing and being an artist who creates art for products.  I didn’t know at the time what Art Licensing was, that came later, but I knew that I could create images for products that would be attractive to buyers like me who shared the same love for this special time of year.  Of course I don’t only create pumpkin and Fall themed art, but what that one obsession did was allow me to find my way into the Art Licensing world.  All from a simple little pumpkin. :0)

As a special Pumpkin-time and October gift to you I’m including my ever-popular-with-my-family “Pumpkin Fondue” recipe.  It is usually the meal I serve on October 1st and was inspired by my friend Hillary, who fixed it many Halloween moons ago.  I hope you enjoy it.  I also hope you have some fun buying a few, or maybe 35, pumpkins in the next few weeks!   Happy Fall!


1 small pumpkin (about 10″ or 4 lb), hollowed, cleaned, and coated on the inside with canola oil

1 T – butter

2 T – flour

2 cloves garlic minced

8 oz. baby swiss cheese shredded

2 oz. mozzarella cheese shredded

1 pint half & half or milk (the half & half is richer but you can go lite with reg. milk)

1/2 cup white wine (optional)

1 t – kosher salt

1/2  t – ground pepper

1/2 t – nutmeg

French or Sourdough Bread, cubed – for dipping

In a medium pot melt  1 T of butter and add 2 T of flour to make a roux.  Add garlic, and then milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir well.  Cook on medium heat, slowly adding handfuls of cheese.  When everything is melted  stir in wine (if you want) and cook for a few minutes longer.  *If you find that you need more liquid just add a little milk until it is a smooth but thick fondue consistency. Pour melted fondue inside prepared pumpkin. Put pumpkin lid back on top and wrap the entire pumpkin in aluminum foil.  Place on a rimmed tray and put in oven.  Bake at 350 for about 1 hour, or as long as you want until you’re ready to eat (if you go past 1 1/2 hours turn down the oven to 250 degrees).  I like to bake it longer to get the smokey pumpkin flavor in the fondue.

When you’re ready to serve, unwrap the pumpkin and place it on a pretty plate and put in the center of your table.  It will stay hot for the course of the meal (no candles required).  Put out bowls of the cubed bread and enjoy!

* You can vary the cheeses if you want.  I have been known to use gruyere cheese only, which is REALLY good.   I just recommend you stick to the white cheeses because they seem to go best with the pumpkin.

Plumeria Post!

Finding inspiration is easy when you’re in Hawaii.  I love plumerias and this photo I took has made its way into many pieces of my work.  My collection “Nohea’s Plumeria” is named after my sister in law, Nohealani, who loves plumerias as much as I do -maybe even more.  I painted the original plumeria images to be used for her wedding and it has grown to become one of my favorite floral collections.  Whenever I find myself feeling a little overwhelmed by the world I pull this photo up  and remind myself how sweet the smell of these flowers are.  I hope they bring a little fragrance to your day as well. :0)