Monday, August 1, 2011

karen cooper paintings .com


Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa.

A change of address has been implemented! Would you please read here instead?

Yup, we've modified my address! When you get there, on the left menu bar (table of contents) is a little orange box with white lines through it. Don't ask me how or why, but that's called RSS feed. If you click on that, it will take you to a form where you can fill out the required info, and THEN my blog articles will come directly to your email, at your request. Saves a lot of mouse clicking, eh?!


KCooper (painting, painting)

Counting Waves, an acrylic painting on a perfect

little 12 x 12 inch canvas

available (so far) in my website portfolio

(feel free to click on the red text, which will take you there)

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa.

I was going to stop at #2. Really.

And then, here's what happened: I had two paintings to deliver. We agreed to meet halfway, so neither of us would have too long of a drive. So, we met and were sitting at Panera, having a cup of coffee, talking about the fund raiser for the Linn Creek Arts Festival (Marshalltown, Iowa) which the two paintings will hopefully help with. After a good chat one of the committee members handed me my check for the paintings, and I prepared to leave. She stopped me with "oh, wait, I have to do a write-up for our newsletter, and I want to make sure I've got all the details correct." I'd already given the committee a copy of my artist statement and info about the paintings.

What she said next made me realize #3 had to be written. Here we go. She said "I know a little bit about art, but sometimes it can get confusing. these are real paintings, right? With all the things people to to paintings lately, sometimes it's hard to tell". Oh dear. So you see? I have to write this, take #3.

And then I remembered my recent visit with the computer tech. I'd taken the desk top beast in for help. We talked about a part that had three initials on the front and six or seven on the back of it's name. All Greek to me. I am not a computer tech, and I don't know their language. Every now and then, I try,but I'm pretty sure I'd have to spend a lot more time with it to get it. I am not a construction worker, and I don't know their industry lingo,either. Nor am I a doctor, and maybe that's why we have web md, the lay persons guide to should-I-go-see-my-doctor? We are artists and in our conversation cache are words like copies, reproductions, limited edition reproductions, giclees, enhanced giclees...

I wondered: if computer tech talk is Greek to me, then are limited edition reproductions and giclees just like Greek to the bus drivers of the world? The physical therapists? The gourmet chefs?

I went to an alternate website and asked people this: "I am working on a project and need opinions from normal people (not artists!) Do the words reproductions, prints, giclees and paintings all mean the same thing to you? Or are they separate and distinct? Couldn't care less?! :) No right or wrong answers, but I do need real people insight..."

Was this a numerically constructed and officially supervised survey? NO. It was a what-do-you-think inquiry. Nothing hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnells's back porch.

Interestingly, most of the responders were teachers, there was a mental health professional, an arts center staff member (theatre), a CPA, a gallery owner, and of course, artists. I didn't consider the gallery owner's personal views, because she is also an artist, but speaking for her clients she said "But in the industry it does make a huge difference how you list reproduced products", which I think echos the thoughts of an earlier commenter that educating patrons is important.

I'll list a few responses and please note that they are unedited ( and I mean that!) quotes:

1. I'm totally uneducated in art lingo, but as a normal consumer, to me painting means an original, prints and reproductions are copies, and a giclee means something highbrow enough that I probably couldn't afford it."

2. "I don't know about the "normal" part, and although I would love to be an artist, I am not, but here's my opinion on this. To me, the word reproduction or print, means "cheap", and painting means a one of a kind original that I would buy. Giclee? After googling it and finding out it's and inkjet print, I was disappointed. The name sounds much fancier thant that :)"

3. "Reproductions, prints and paintings all have a distinctive different meaning in my mind, not sure if they're the right meanings, but...I've never heard of giclees, but I love learning new words so I'll look it up and add it to my vocabulary!"

I was pleased to hear that these three commentors, as well as most of the rest, knew there was a difference between reproductions or copies, and paintings, and understood them somewhat. The word giclee, however, was a problem.

Early commentors to this discussion (take #1, and #2) mentioned that it was nice to have a reminder of an artist, and a reproduction can do that. It makes me think of VanGogh posters of Starry Night in the art center gift shop. Everybody knows they are copies, but they are reminders of time spent at the gallery viewing paintings. They often have a title and artist name listed in text, down at the bottom in the margin. We can all mentally image that, right? No doubt of what their purpose is. Does that bring us to the giclee?

Wait: maybe we need the dictionary:
1. Giclee
A giclee (zhee-CLAY) is an individually produced, high-resolution, high-fidelity reproduction done on a special large format printer. Giclees are produced from digital scans of existing artwork, or a digital file.

Let's ask questions about the giclee--it seems to require it :) What is the purpose of the giclee? I've heard artists say patrons can't afford an original painting but they want a reminder. The poster style reproduction would cover that, right? So why the giclee? If your patrons just want a reminder of your painting, why go the extra bucks for a giclee? We've agreed a giclee costs quite a bit more than a poster, right? Still better yet,why computer print a painting on a piece of canvas, if we are just after a reminder of the original painting? And the enhanced giclee--why would we swipe a loaded varnish brush over the surface of a giclee, or dab on on a few spots of real paint , if we just want a reminder of the artist's painting?

To the art patrons of the world, I hope you ask questions. Many a teacher has told us the only dumb question is the one that goes unasked. So ask away. Sometimes what's put in front of you can be confusing.

Later, Cooper

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Forced To Go The Extra Mile. And Three Reasons Why It's Good For You.


Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa.

Several years back, I determined I could/would be a runner. Not marathons, nope, nothing like that. But I do try to go a couple of miles on three or four mornings of each week. Just the other week, Jefferson got yet another bunch of snow. Thankfully, it's March, and considering the city truck/plows got to it right away, the streets dried quickly. Free and clear of snow. Good for the morning run.

I headed out on my normal route, which takes me to the bike trail on the east side of town, my usual halfway point. But wait, what's up with that? The bike trail; snow, ice, and melted/refrozen slush ruts. Everything a person trying to move faster than a crawl DOESN'T want. But here I am at the edge of town. Either I turn back and retrace my steps (how boring is that?) or I continue on. There's a black top road just ahead, and it won't be that much further. And besides, it's good for me, right?

Awesome. Going the extra mile. There's a saying "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy", right? And then there's another "a job worth doing, is a job worth doing well". Now surely there's a lot of maneuvering room in between those two thoughts, but this morning I'm going to promote the concept that sometimes we have to lean harder one way, than the other. The middle of the road is not always the best place to be. The stack of "to do" has surpassed my comfort zone. I can see the extra mile in front of me. But I know the benefits:

1. Makes you work harder

2. It gets you closer to your goal

3. Feelings of a job well done, to the max

See you on the other side. Believe it or not, the warm up is varnishing a guitar, just recently painted, so it can get to the mail. Aah. Life at the Cooper studio. Never a dull moment.

Later, Cooper

Selection And Assumptions


Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa, where it is both a stunning and beautiful day. Ahhhh, spring. And I even have a spring painting for you here, in a minute.

First we need to talk about selections. Or assumptions about selections. Or something like that. -

After the youngest Cooper had been away at college long enough to get a firm grip on the realities of laundry, we ended up bequeathed with some of his new "go-to-college"towels. And they were the nicest ones of the bunch, thick and cushy and the epitome of absorbent. Why did we get them? He didn't like them because they took too long in the dryer. Hunh.

Yes, you are at an artist's painting blog and that bit of a story does have relevance. Like this: as artists we are constantly the recipients of well meaning advice. If we paint landscapes, then someone tells us we should be painting abstracts. If we paint abstracts, they tell us we should be painting landscapes. If we paint figures, they tell us we should be painting anything but! :)

We assimilate all that good advice and begin to assume(as in making an assumption) that we know, without a doubt, what it is that art patrons of the world will want to select, when they are out looking for a painting. We let our artistic vision take a road trip down to "I've-been-persuaded-land". Maybe it's just a day trip, and not too much harm done. But what if it turns out to be a major journey and one you shouldn't have let yourself get talked into?

Because in reality, not everybody chooses for the same reason. Are we better off trying to paint what we assume will please everyone, or painting what's right and then working to connect with the people who see things the way we do?

We could say "a rose by any other name is just as sweet" or "one man's trash is another man's treasure" or "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". We could even say "thick and cushy versus quick through the dryer".

It's not a matter of matching your painting to the person; it's a matter of finding the people who match your painting.

Thanks for stopping by.

Later, Cooper

Yup, you are right, I did promise a spring painting:

Ready For Spring, and acrylic painting on a nice little 12 inch canvas, and of course, available in my website portfolio. Click on the red text to get a better look!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sweating It


Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa. Please bear in mind that it's winter in Jefferson this morning. For all you fair weather readers, that means that at 9:27AM it was a snow-crunchy 14 degrees. So why you ask, are we talking about sweating it?

I believe I've mentioned in the past that I try to run (sort of) at least three times a week. Is it my personality type?--who know, but I can not handle even the thought of running (sort of) indoors. Treadmill, forget it. I prefer to go first thing in the morning when I'm not totally awake. With a sleep-fog hanging on, running seems a little less crazy. BUT! Even I have to draw the line somewhere, and at 6:30AM, Jefferson was in the balmy single digits range on the sad old thermometer.

So 9:30AM rolls around, the thermometer shows me 14 degrees, and I determined I could possibly survive it. I did. But here's the funny thing--sweating it! Yup, who'd of thought at 14 degrees with two tee shirts and a hoodie as the layers, I could possibly warm up that much?

Now I suppose you want to hear how this could all possibly relate to painting, right? But of course it does. Think about the commonalities here. It seems pretty logical to me. Look:

1. A schedule. Three times a week, works okay for my "running (ha) career" but I try to paint five days a week. And a schedule is worthless if you don't keep it. Paint on a schedule.

2. Persistence. My husband says mine comes more under the heading of stubbornness. Sometimes the odds seem to be against you. The air temperature for running is abysmal/you painted your best painting ever and it still got juried out, so why keep trying? And here we should enter in my favorite Gretsky quote, "you miss every shot you don't take". Paint with persistence.

3. Prepare to the best of your ability. So, the morning run part of that: is it a two tee-shirt kind of day or a three? Pretty simple preparedness there. But the painting side of the equation is harder. Study, study, study. Either way, some times you have to sweat it. Last night was the first night of this semester's life drawing group on campus at ISU (Iowa State University) Do you get to see the results of my sweating? No. If the garbage guys unroll the wad of paper, they might get to. But revert back to item #2. We meet again next Thursday and I'll be there. Surely it will go better. You can't prosper you art just be wanting. Prepare for it. Study.

And that brings us to:

4. Be an optimist. You can do it. It's possible. Where there's life, there's hope, right? If you can move your feet, you can run. If you can pick up a paint brush, you can paint. True, the quality of your endeavors will depend pretty heavily on how you deal with #1-3, but what's stopping you? Be an optimist.

Oh wait, this is beginning to sound like my last blog post , regarding "cup half full". Hmm, it must be the weather...time to go gain a little sweat equity at the easel. Thanks for stopping by.

Later, Cooper

Oh, and you should click on the red text up there (post) to see my last blog writing over at my website, and the cool new painting that goes with :) The link will take you right there, I promise!

Monday, December 6, 2010


Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa. We will discuss The Look today. I'm sorry, but you know it had to happen. And it's not really my fault. We are blaming it on ArtCalendarMagazine, even though those people put out a wonderful publication, which no artist should be without.

I finally got started reading my online copy of ArtCalendarMagazine this morning. Next up was the article about a figurative painter from LosAngeles, Kent Williams. The heading described Mr. Williams as a consummate draftsman and rigorous observer. Rigorous observer. Aaargh. The Look.

Rigorous observer. So easily written. Deceptively easily written. Take a moment and peer into the meaning of those two words, bearing in mind that Mr. Williams is known as a figurative painter.

You don't get it? You must be focusing on landscapes or still lifes.

At a recent event, I was across the room from a friend who was in the motion of painting a bunch of flowers. She was doing "the squint", you know, blurring out the unimportant, concentrating on finding what matters for the painting. Of course, she deserved a bit of teasing, due to the interesting countenance it gave her. But what's a painter to do? We have to squint.

However, you need to be aware, "the squint" is only part of The Look. Back up to paragraph #2 where we unleashed the phrase "rigorous observer". Followed closely by figurative painter. Granted, if that figure you are painting is a model in your studio, they possibly understand the squint. The Look. But some of us are trapped in the intrigue of painting the folks out on the sidewalks of our lives. Those poor folks don't know we are just being rigorous observers. They see someone do "the squint" in their direction, and they begin to worry. A complete stranger, doing "the squint", and following up with a camera--whoa--we have to wonder if sirens and arrest are imminent.

Yes. You are correct. I do exaggerate. But it's a constant battle of artist-desire to capture everyday people doing their everyday thing on canvas, versus artist trying not to annoy those everyday people doing their everyday thing.

So, I hereby promise to try and not be too rude with my rigorous observing. And if you aren't an artist, at least now you know the reason behind "the squint" --- The Look, and you don't have to go running for cover. And if it happens to you, questions or a quick peek at the sketch book are all cool, be my guest.

Thanks for stopping by!

Later, Cooper

Okay, one more little bit. I have to show you this painting again. I saw these kids at ArnoldsPark, in the town by the same name, next door to Okoboji, Iowa. Surely you understand the need to paint them? When photos are involved, more than one is always better. So my camera and I stood fence-side by the "Scrambler", and every time their little car came around, I clicked. By photo #6, the boy in the middle was beginning to show signs of "who are you, and why are you taking our picture?" By photo #7 he was beginning to express his strong desire to have his daddy come talk to me. At that point I decided to let them finish their ride unencumbered by artistic intervention. But it was worth it, right? :)

Slide On Over, acrylic painting on canvas, measuring 30 x 30 inches, and yes, in my portfolio
(click on the red text) as well.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No. More. Malls.

Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa. So I just gave this blog post a title, and now I'm wondering if it's politically incorrect. OhWell. My thoughts and they are true.

Have I mentioned my husband and I are not shoppers? Last week as more and more stores advertised "open on Thanksgiving" we cringed. Cringed for the people in retail who were required to spend their holiday as NOholiday. Cringed bigtime for the shopaholics who spent their holiday at the mall. What kind of a holiday was that, and just how much thanks did they give, anyway?

And may I rant on just a little more? A local DesMoines (Iowa) television station gave air time to the people who camped outside a shopping mall just so they could be one of the first of the 37 thousand in the door. Don't understand. Not going to go there. And may I suggest an alternative? Didn't see that one coming, eh?

This weekend, December 4th and 5th, the UniversityOfIowa fine arts council sponsors an event at the Iowa Memorial Union in IowaCity, Iowa, called Thieves Art Market. We don't know where the name came from, but I can promise you it's all on-the-up-and-up.

If you crave:

>camping out on frozen concrete so you might be the first one in the door
>stampeding crowds fighting over who gets one of 3 come-on sale items
>non-existent sales staff
>or if you luck out and find one---sales staff really not interested in helping you, and probably don't know how even if they are
>mauled over merchandise
>surely by now you get the idea?

IF you crave any of the above, then you won't like Thieves Art Market. So don't come.

Later, Cooper

Oh, maybe I should mention: if you love a laid back atmosphere, where you can look at unique interesting things, and have the people who created them tell you why, then you are a Thieves Art Market kind of person, and you should come. 10AM to 5PM each day. I have a painting I'd love to show you. :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Geometry Of Art Marketing


Welcome to the Cooper Studio, Jefferson, Iowa, where I am pondering that old geometry rule about the shortest distance between two points being a straight line. And no, we are not discussing paint-on-canvas kinds of lines today, we are talking about conceptual lines (whew, lift your feet, it's getting deep) and thoughts of art marketing.

Conceptual lines. And that's where the problem begins. Artists are by nature visual people, right? We like real lines. Lines we can see. What are we supposed to do with a conceptual line that's just "out there". We're supposed to be able to see it's reality, even though it's not even there. Dios mio.

Are you ready for my point of contention? I don't think conceptual lines behave well in the geometry classroom. I think conceptual lines ignore the fact that they are supposed to go straight. At least when we are talking about the conceptual lines in art marketing.

Let me share two links to excellent posts that got me started on thinking these deviant thoughts.The first, written by Lori Woodword, is titled The Future Of Art Marketing. In the article Lori discusses the future need for galleries representing artists versus artists representing themselves online.

Then you need to go read Olivia Alexander's thought provoking post at Olivia mentions her own art marketing is now on a 3 to 1 ratio with painting. Yup folks, that's 3 for the marketing, 1 for the painting. AND don't pretend that's not your story as well. I spent the entire day yesterday "marketing" my art at the Octagon (Ames, Iowa) Art Festival. One way or the other art marketing soaks up an amazing amount of hours.

Okay, now we need to get back to the geometry of this whole mess. I've plotted the two points: PointA (The Future Of Art Marketing) and PointB (Challenges Of The Present Day Artist) Olivia talked about taking an internet marketing "fast" while Lori wrote about limited gallery role partnered with go-it-on-your-own marketing. Surely those are the extremes, the opposite points, right? Quick! Draw a straight line between those two points! Right---it aint gonna happen. I think reality says that if you made that conceptual art marketing line into a visual one, you would see that it hooks and curls and detours all over the place. Quite possibly there are even some road blocks and maybe even a few dead end signs on that conceptual line-turned visual.

So, you are an artist. Where do you belong on that line? Are you on the hook part where you love meeting and greeting patrons and telling them about your art? Maybe you don't need galleries so much. Are you the artist who anguishes over not getting enough studio time? Maybe you are supposed to be hanging out on that conceptual line curl where galleries are oh-so-important. Maybe you are the artist who still has to try a little of both the conceptual line curls and hooks until one of them hits a road block sign, and sends you the other direction. Not a pretty thought, is it, that road block?

Which brings us full circle to my parting shot. (Don't you love how we just came "full circle" in a geometry discussion of two points and a not-so-straight line?!) IF we were all alike, we would paint exactly the same paintings, and we could all market them in exactly the same way. Fact of the matter is, we aren't, we won't, and we can't. Just like painting, we need to find our style, our niche. Find out what works for this ONE artist.

Somewhere on that not-so-straight conceptual line of art marketing, somewhere in between internet fasting and full bore self marketing, is the place that likely has your name on it. How do you find it? It's just like developing your painting style---you have to study, practice, experiment. Oh, and you have to expect a few road blocks and dead end signs---hopefully not too many. Good luck in your search.

Later, Cooper

Tuesday, July 13, 2010



Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa on a gorgeous Tuesday, July 13th.

I just read the latest "painter's keys" newsletter from Robert Genn. Most of it was about the age old problem of knowing when it's time to stop on a painting, how to avoid working a painting to death, literally and figuratively :)

The article included a statement that really stopped me:

"I find our world to be loaded and cocked with creator wannabees. We artists represent the last bastion of the hand of man."

I would love to sit down and have a cup of coffee and converse with Mr Genn about his thoughts given there. To me, the contrast between the wannabees and the creatives is especially stark.

I just returned home from KraslArtFair, St Joseph, Michigan. (yes, it's a wonderful event) Lately, at art fairs, I've noticed my work attracting more young people---maybe it's what I'm painting, or the way I'm painting, or is it the "creator wannabee" factor? Quite possibly it's the compilation of all three. Is it the next generation looking ahead and contrasting automated versus creative? I try to always encourage: practice, practice, practice, and never stop with the studying. I balance it with: it's hard work and you have to have the determination to persevere. And as they walk away romancing the life of an artist, I wonder which side of that contrast line between wannabees and creatives they will end up on?

Ok, so we'll rename today "philosophical Tuesday" :) but now it's time to go paint. Thanks for stopping by. Have a lovely day.

Later, Cooper

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Welcome to the Cooper studio, on a SUNNY beautiful day, in Jefferson, Iowa. There's probably minimal painting happening in the studio today, as it's time to pack again. This weekend I am showing my paintings at KraslArtFairOnTheBluff, in StJoseph, Michigan. If you feel the need to give yourself a treat, go there---there are not many spots on the map as beautiful and relaxing as the park overlooking LakeMichigan. There is a perfect hotel, The Boulevard Inn, right next to the park. I have plans for someday when there is a blizzard heading east from Nebraska: I will grab my husband, load us into the car, drive to that hotel (hopefully staying ahead of the storm) move into an upper floor room, and watch the storm come across the lake. I think it will be an exceptional sight. :)

Anyway, maps. When I travel to art fairs, I am pretty picky about maps. I learned quite a while ago that saving paper does not rate, when compared to having mapquest directions to my location printed off in LARGE ENOUGH TYPE to read sans glasses. Tollway traffic through Chicago does not approve of people stopping to read the fine print on their maps.

And then, maps of the art fair sort. Last summer there came an aha! moment. Prior, setting up my display at an art fair was a long drawn out process---which painting should hang where, what painting would fit into that long skinny space, which one would fit into that wide space, ooops, we didn't leave enough room for that one, better scoot it over 4 inches---you get the picture. The solution was so simple, I can't quite believe it took me years (literally) to see it.

I use a propanel display system as my exhibit walls at art fairs. I "hinged' together pieces of foam core that simulate the dimensions of my display system. Using the same scale, I print images of my paintings that are making the trip to the art fair. Do you know how much easier it is when, glass of iced tea in hand, I can sit at the kitchen counter and plan my exhibit? If I think "Smells Like Summer" looks better next to "Ped Mall DogWalk", but then change my mind and think I need to try "Elementary School Readers" all I have to do is move a couple little squares of paper. Surely I don't have to tell you how much easier THAT is than moving the actual paintings? And getting it right, when you know you've got people coming to see in just an hour or so?

Prior to the great aha moment that lead to the mapping system, I used to plan for a minimum of two hours to get everything organized for an exhibit. May I brag a little?---I now allow 40 minutes. For those of you who have not set up an art fair exhibit, I know, I know, that's only an hour and ten minutes difference. But. On the morning of an art fair, it's a BIG difference. May I share just a little more insight about that?

If I had a roadie who set it all up for me, so that I could waltz in last minute, it would be different, but usually, I am on my own, doing it all myself. People come to art fairs hoping for an enjoyable outing. If I am out of sorts due to a hectic setup, helping those people enjoy their outing is a dim possibility. By removing the chance of "hectic" from the setup routine, it gets my day off to a good start, where I can share with visitors about my paintings, and we can all enjoy the day.

The 49th Annual Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff happens on July 10th, 10-6, and July 11th, 10-5. If you want to see the booth map in action, you'll have to stop by exhibit #164 about 7am on July 10th. The good folks of Krasl, and Port 412 are serving breakfast for the artists and I plan to hang paintings before dining! :)

Oh, and the varnish is almost dry on this new painting, so it will be making the trip to Michigan as well:

Beach Chair Occupied, an acrylic painting on a perfect little 20 x 20 inch canvas. I promise to get it into my portfolio very soon!

Later, Cooper

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How About Painting?


Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa, on a fine June Saturday morning.

I am off my regular running schedule this week---surely I can blame it on the midnight ride home from Chicagoland (Hinsdale Art Festival) last Sunday. I try to run M-W-F, but when the car parks in the garage post 1am on Sunday, you KNOW how Monday morning feels. So this week is a T-T-S kind of week. And because I'm already going about it weirdly, it seemed only logical to make the Saturday morning portion of that running program a little different as well. I added some distance. I didn't say lots, I said some. And the last portion of it was up what the town of Jefferson claims as a hill. (Jefferson doesn't know hills very well) Anyway, I felt the difference. My feet were just barely coming up off the street, I'm pretty sure. Is it possible to run flat? I don't think my side profile was very attractive, and definitely it was not good form. (never is) But I pushed, and I made it back into the driveway. The garage was once again a welcome sight.

A week ago, for some odd and unknown reason, I went some extra distance on Monday. Do my feet have built in odometers?---somehow they knew because Wednesday and Friday's normal distance was a breeze. It causes me to ask theis question: If you push extra hard on one day, does the normal routine seem easier, IS it easier, on subsequent days? And does it apply to more than just running? How about painting?

If I put an oversized canvas up on the easel, and start adding paint, does that 20 inch canvas seem easier when I get back to it? If I do a commissioned painting for someone, and then get back to painting whatever amuses me, is it easier?

What about signing up for a new class? I did that, and this past Tuesday was the first day. About halfway through, I realized I was thinking of the regular figure drawing group at Ames (Iowa State University), and even the previous one up at Okoboji (Pearson Lakes Art Center). It would have felt like old-home-week to be back in either of those groups rather than working to adjust to all that was new and different at the DesMoines Art Center class.

So, how about painting? Is it good to push for some extra distance? I think I just answered my own question. And it's affirmative. Thanks for stopping by.

And if anyone is wondering, I'm working on a cool painting of two people with their bikes by the lake. Hopefully a posted image is in our near future.

Later, Cooper

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Choosy Mothers Chose Jif", And Who Makes Authority?


Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa, on a fine Thursday, April 29th.

Today we are going to talk about authority. More specifically, we'll talk about what makes it. Yesterday's conversation started with toast, of the burnt variety, someone wasn't paying attention to the details. Peanut butter toast is the headliner today, possibly because I just consumed a piece. While my slice of bread was languishing between the heater coils of my counter top machinery I happened to read the label of the peanut butter jar. Immediately my mind brought forth their advertising slogan, "Choosy Mothers Choose Jif". (to give equal time, do I need to mention that "Skippy is the peanutiest"?) What makes either of them the peanut butter authority?

As you can clearly see that brings us to our subject of the day! We've got several varieties:

1. authority by power: bigger, tougher, meaner, I can tell you what to do, and enforce that you believe me
2. authority by purchase: lots of money, can buy the opinion, and everybody believes it because there's lots of money involved (forgive me for typing this word on my blogspace, but think "lobbyist")
3. authority by talent/skill: you are so blooming good at what you do, that no one wants to even contest that you are not the authoratative expert
4. authority by volume: the majority rules, in bad form it could be the lynch mob, in positive form we call it the common good
5. authority by election: everybody loves you and they want you to have it
6. authority by knowledge: know it all, way more than you, I can belittle you about your lack of knowledge while I overwhelm you with the mass of mine
7. authority by experience: you've seen it all and done it all, and everyone else wants to take the short cut, so they ask you

When we look at 2 + 2 = 4, most of us will agree, the math teacher can be an authority. Is it one of the few places in the world where authority is based on fact rather than opinion? If you put two apples with two apples, you really do end up with four apples. In contrast, when we've got a painting hanging in a prestigous place, and the critic lauds it as the best ever, and calls the creator "the next big thing" don't you just want to ask "who made you the authority, Mr. Critic?" [Robert Genn's newsletter from yesterday was about "the next big thing" and you should go read it.] Is it really the best painting ever? Why doesn't anyone holler out "prove it!"?

A little time spent in blog-land can yield up quite a few misappointed authorities. Not so long ago, I read a fellow artist's post on the subject of "how to varnish a painting". I wondered where his authority came from. He obviously hadn't read the label on the back of a jar of Golden. (For you non-painters, Golden is a producer of quality art products, including varnish) Yet, if someone googled "how to varnish a painting", aforementioned fellow artist was going to be there, ready to tell you how to do it, and wrong. Whoa, am I calling myself the authority on truthful blog writing? This could really get sticky.

By now, I suppose a few of you are beginning to wonder if I grew up in the "challenge the authorities" 60's and 70's, and yes, yes I did. Let me quickly state that I firmly believe authority can be good, and we need the good kind. However! I think as artists, we need to constantly remind ourselves that authority is so often just an opinion. Be it the opinion bought with money, OR the opinion of someone with great talent and skills. So fellow artist, when the person in charge says "nope, we don't want your painting in our show", that means it's NOT time to heave that painting toward the nearest dumpster, rather it's time to go find a different authority. After all, it almost always is, just an opinion.

Later, Cooper

Friday, February 26, 2010

Let Me Explain


Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa. Hey, it's Friday. At least I think so.

As I checked blog comments, I noticed a slightly interesting something about the most recent post here. If you didn't patch together the post title and one of the internal links, well, then all was craziness.

Let me explain. The title was "Cooper Studio Newsletter Published (Yay!)" Down in the text was a link to said newsletter. I completely knew what I was doing. Many of you maybe did not. These things happen once in a while.

Let's put it in black and white, better yet, red. Cooper Studio Newsletter Published (Yay!)

Now, all you have to do is click on those red letters, and I promise you, you will get there. And a tip for the viewer unfamiliar with the format: at the bottom of the video screen is a "box" with four arrows. Clicking on that will give you a full screen view. Much more enjoyable, I think. Have fun!

Later, Cooper

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cooper Studio Newsletter Published (yay!)

Welcome to the Cooper studio, where as a general rule, we try to answer the everpressing question "why do artists paint the way they do?"

Today we are reverting to section A, qualifier 2, subparagraph 413 where is asked:

"What on earth is up with THAT artist?"

And here's the answer

And of course I aimed for slightly fun. After all, we are still having winter, and we need all the help we can get.

So the painting has a name: A Fine Sound (July 4th At The Park), an acrylic painting on a nice little 12 x 12 canvas. And yes, of course it's available in my portfolio. The "fine sound" mentioned is a vocal artist , Bonne Finken, whose band we saw at Arnolds Park (Iowa) last summer. Truely fine.

Back to the easel. Have a lovely day!

Later, Cooper

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Me, Myself, and I


Welcome to the Cooper studio, where we often attempt to answer that everpressing question:

Why do artists paint the way they do?

Answer: Because left brained people drive us to borderline ludicrous-osity. Instead of painting, I have just spent the last 5 hours 32 minutes figuring out how to fill out AND WIN over somebody's idea of mandatory questionaire fun.

However, it's a well documented fact, that right brained people are incredibly stubborn, fueled by large quantities of perserverance and competitiveness. That means I won, and am now certified compliant to PCI-DSS.

If you are an artist who exhibits at summer art fairs and accepts credit cards, you'll need to certify as well. On my other website blog I've given a couple of tips to make it slightly easier.

Oh, but I can't make easier the part where they charge you $85 dollars. In fact that's probably already hit your account. That's how I first discovered the whole situation.

Later, Cooper

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Crutch Alert


Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa. So we'll blame it on the weather. I haven't written at this blog since December 9th, and guess what? The weather is exactly the same, only more of it. My husband got a new snowblower for his Christmas present. What a stroke of genius that was!

But let's get back to the title subject. I have been reading a book chock full of thought provoking stuff: Conversation In Paint, by Charles Dunn. I wrote an article on my other blog about artist's crutches, and have been mentally adding to the list ever since.

Can I quote a whole paragraph? Here, try this one on for size:

"You don't have to draw well to produce pretty good art. The invention of the camera did away with the need for traditional academic drawing. Looking at the mature work of Klee, Miro, Pollack, and Chagall, I don't see much in the way of traditional academic drawing skills. Like many artists with the skills to work anywhere on the concept-related/image-related continuum, these artists deliberately chose to work at the simpler, concept-related end. If you don't have much confidence in your drawing skill, work closer to the concept-related end of the scale."

Wow! Crutch alert! Artists that can't draw? And why not? Are they taking the easy road? Are they lazy? Is drawing not important?

Oh this is definitely going to take further investigation. And while you're waiting, please note that everything in paragraph four is in quotation marks. That means I shared someone else's thoughts and words. I am not yet persuaded to be in agreement :) Stay tuned for possible answers to some of those questions up there in paragraph five!

Later, Cooper

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Benefits Of Working From Home


Welcome to the Cooper studio in Jefferson, Iowa. Today, we are having a blizzard. Lovely. Maybe our recent move from Spencer, Iowa to Jefferson, Iowa was just not quite far enough south? :) The weather guy on the radio just said that if you are crazy enough to try to go anywhere, you will quite likely encounter 14 to 16 foot tall drifts across the highway. And they are talking US highway 30, which is a fairly major east/west travel route. As I said before, lovely!

But back to the title of this post, The Benefits Of Working From Home, my studio is warm, I have a good supply of paint, and I have a painting that needs to be done in time to deliver for Christmas. Oh, and did I mention that I can go there in my jammies? Perfect! Time to go grab a brush.
Later, Cooper

Monday, November 2, 2009


Welcome to the Cooper studio, where the question has been posed: What is art?

Is it easier to define what art ISN’T? Perhaps. Actually, probably.

1. Art isn’t the thing you hang on your wall to match your sofa.
2. Art isn’t the thing you hang on your wall because you know your friends will approve
of it, because they all have a copy hanging on their walls.
3. And on that note, art isn’t a copy or reproduction of an original piece of art.
4. Art isn’t something featuring the year’s top five “decorator colors”
5. Art isn’t something made because you think somebody will buy it.

Actually, this is one of those times when I wish I was one of those people who made a file of all the inspirational quotes from great artists of the past and what they’ve said art is. You know they knew because of what they left behind: ART

And THAT makes me think of the time I saw VanGogh’s Starry Night at the Art Institute in Chicago. The place was packed with other people all trying to see the paintings as well. You were supposed to be polite, look at the painting, and move on. Nope. I was rude and I stopped. For a long time I stopped, because the painting required me to look at it for a long time. Art, Starry Night, most definitely is. It makes your eyes not want to leave. It makes you not want to leave.

But realistically, it doesn’t have to be Starry Night, or Luncheon Of The Boating Party, or Young Girl Writing to be art. Feature this: even you or I can make something “art”. But it has to have at least a smidgeon of something that all three of those paintings I just mentioned have---it has to be INTERESTING.

Sure, maybe it matches your sofa and if it’s interesting then you can call it art. It makes your eyes want to look because it’s interesting, not because it matches your sofa.

And maybe it does have five of the year’s top decorator colors, but it’s so interesting that you want to look at it all the time. You walk out of your way to go see it, again, because it's so interesting. Yea! You get to call it art!

Sorry, I can’t stop without one more qualifier: to be interesting, it’s got to be real. And that’s two kinds of real to you. Real as in honest-created-from-the-heart-real. Something must inspire. Yup, that rules out #5 on the list. AND real as in original, not-a-copy, not-a-reproduction. A poster of Starry Night I can leave. Starry Night, the original made me want to stay. And look some more. Now that’s art.

Later, Cooper

Monday, October 26, 2009

Painting Wisdom


Welcome to the Cooper studio, on a semi-sunny day in Jefferson, Iowa. I suppose an official meteorologist would classify that as "partly sunny", eh? Either way, it seems to be a good day to share some painting wisdom with you. Especially as it's someone else's wisdom, and it just came to my inbox. How convenient!

First, we need to flash back to September, when I exhibited at the Octagon Art Fair, in Ames, Iowa. While at that event, I was one of the artist's interviewed for an online art mag called "Painter's Hub". Here is the link for the article, BUT before you go there, I get to put in my defense for the really nasty photo accompanying the article. It was one of those September days when the air was really cool and the sun was really strong, so logically you sit in the sun to stay warm, and put on the sunscreen and hat and glasses to avoid the UV overdose. Please, next time somebody warn me to take off the hat and glasses before the photo! Thanks :)

Later, Cooper

Thursday, October 1, 2009



Welcome to the Cooper studio. Did you see that title? I made that word up, at least I don't think it's a real word already.

But. Iowathermalflux. I'm using it as an excuse, and yet another answer to that burning question "what makes artists paint the way they do". Iowathermalflux. Break it down Delbert: Iowa -thermal (as in temperature) -flux (as in fluctuating) Other wise know as change of season. Temperatures falling in Iowa. Next up, autumn. Time to turn the furnace on maybe. Bring in those geraniums that you don't want to freeze out on the patio. It was all part of the buildup effect today and resulted in a new still life painting. What on earth will happen next? Who knows. But re: the still life painting-- a good time was had by all.

Window Ledge Still Life 10 1 09, an acrylic painting on paper, available in my portfolio.

Later, Cooper

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mapping The Exhibit

Good morning,

Welcome to the Cooper studio.

Sometimes it takes a long time for the light bulb to turn on. I have been exhibiting at art fairs for 18 (?) years, and just now happened on a really great time saver. Let me share.

Being a 2D artist, painting, I am very determined to have a cohesive, well organized display. In the past, I would hang a couple of paintings, and then experiment to fill in around them. I could easily spend an hour moving paintings from one side of the exhibit to the other, before I was satisfied with the results.

The light bulb turned on (yea!) and now my average "hang" time is fifteen minutes. How, you say? A day or two prior to the event, while still at home, I make a map. How simple is that? All it takes is a sheet of white paper, in scale to my propanels, with correspondingly scaled images of the paintings I intend to display. Do you know how much easier it is to move paintings around when they are 3 x 3 INCHES and hung with double stick tape, than when they are 3 x 3 FEET and hung with metal hooks stuck into propanel fabric?

Once I get the "map" du jour completed to my satisfaction, I roll it up and stow it. Once at the exhibit, I set up the propanels, get the map out, and hang the paintings. Piece o'cake, right? Absolutely. Why-oh-why didn't I think of this sooner? But I've got it now, and it's a gem. Try it for yourself.

Later, Cooper

Monday, September 21, 2009

Artist Relocation


Welcome to the Cooper studio, in it's new location! Yup, we are painting in Jefferson, Iowa, now. Jefferson is a nice little central Iowa town, of about 5000 people, on US highway 30, just west of Ames, Iowa and Iowa State University. If you were born in Huskerland, that's not quite so relevant. Ha!

Regarding packing up a household with studio, and moving it, I have this advice to share: moving and child birth have something in common. There comes a certain age in a person's life when you just shouldn't do it anymore. I know we've reached it for the latter, and I'm beginning to wonder about the former! We have experience with moving the household---this has to be our slowest un-pack ever. In defense, I did leave a block of time open midsummer, which the housing market did not cooperate with. Rather we hit midAugust and September, when the schedule was packed to the gills. We'll survive, and I'm sure it will be much more interesting than if it had gone according to plan!

However. The studio is set up, and even though needing some new flooring, that's not stopping me from painting. I have a really fine painting coming along on the easel as we speak. And if you haven't been to my website lately, here's a painting that you might not have seen yet. It's currently hanging out at the Wine Bar Art Gallery in Arnolds Park, Iowa.

So, Which One Is Your Favorite? is an acrylic painting on a 40 x 40 inch canvas. A larger image can be found here.

Thanks for stopping by.

Later, Cooper

Friday, July 31, 2009


What a beautiful morning in Spencer, Iowa! It was a little bit warm for the morning run, but then I was a little bit late. (two smacks to the snooze button) Oh well, the sweat has already dried :)

This morning I want to brag up my friend, Mary, and here's the link to show why! Wow!

I could not make that link go to her website, but go over to the sidebar of my links on this page, click on Mary Connealy, and you'll get there. And trust me, it's worth the trip.

Later, Cooper

Monday, July 27, 2009


Here is where I am all week:

Pearson Lakes Art Center Workshop
Figurative and Perspective Drawing
Instructor: Dr. Danuta Zamojska Hutchins

And it could be good for the messy artist in me. Today learning exactness was emphasized, not because it's great, but because you can't be convincingly loose until AFTER you learn to be exactly correct. And if you are messy, it's hard to tell which you are :)

Later, Cooper

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Good morning,

Welcome to the Cooper studio on play day (Saturday!) I want to talk about stretch, stretching and stretchers, today. Curious words, eh? Let me explain.

I am one of those artists who actually enjoys stretching their own canvases.

I had been ordering stretcher bars from the same company for a long time, whenever I needed new, I mindlessly went to their website and ordered. A year ago, something happened, and their quality slipped. But I needed some more and ordered again. A bigger slip. I called the company. They sent me a duplicate order with the promise that they would be better. They were, sort of.

But it was time to stretch out of the routine. I tried a new company. I just got a new order of stretchers from the fedex guy yesterday. Amazing. I think something that is functional, solid and well made can be called beautiful. These definitely fit the parameters.

My only question now is why did it take me so long to stretch from the routine of ordering from the same company? Does routine seem more logical in non-creative tasks? Ha! Are routine and non-creative tasks synonymous?

Later, Cooper

Oh, and if you like to stretch your canvases as well, the really nice ones came from Dick Blick.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Spencer, Iowa, Parks


My goal here is to write about "what makes artists paint the way they do". Hopefully, I won't pick up a paint brush yet today. Let me explain.

Spencer, Iowa is a pretty darn great town to live in. Right at the top of the pretty darn great list is the wealth of city parks the town holds in it's proper.

A few years ago, the Spencer Park system, specifically "East Leach Park" gained a beautiful in-ground (concrete) skate park. Note the word "skate". That means the rules board bolted to the post says ONLY skate board or inline skates. No BMX bikes allowed. We've heard various reasons/excuses/rumors as to the logic of this ruling, trust me, they're all weak.

Today, my husband and I were on a bike ride through East Leach Park. We stopped to watch the kids at the skate park. There was one skate boarder present, there aren't many skate boarders in Spencer. Ironic, hm? Several people on bmx bikes are present, there always are. Out of the corner of my eye I see the car with the lights on top. People yell, "Cop"! One kid wasn't quick enough. It cost him $63 dollars. Yup, that's the price of a ticket for riding your bike in the park.

So a multi-thousand dollar park facility, restricted to the majority of the people wanting to use it. Just doesn't make sense, does it?

Sometimes don't you just want to take somebody by the head and give'em a good shake? And we are so glad I'd already decided not to pick up a paint brush yet today!

Later, Cooper

Monday, June 15, 2009

Omaha Summer Arts Festival


The Omaha Summer Arts Festival is just around the corner. In fact, let me give you the dates:

Friday June 26th, 11am-8pm

Saturday June 27th, 11am-8pm

Sunday June 28th, 11am-5pm

And even more importantly, let me tell you where I'll be :)
I am artist/exhibitor #82, which means in front of the library, vaguely the intersection of 14th and Farnam, in downtown Omaha, Nebraska.

I have been fielding a few questions regarding which paintings I will be bringing :), and yes, as many as possible, but the trusty van does have it's limitations. If you have connected with a specific painting at my website and are needing to see it up close and personal, please let me know. I will make sure it has reserved accomodations for the trip!

As this post is appearing to need a bit of color, I will show you what is currently on the easel, and will hopefully reach completion by the above mentioned dates!

Later, Cooper

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Iowa City Arts Festival, It Happened Downtown


The Iowa City Arts Festival is happening soon. In fact, very soon. The dates are June 6th and 7th. And I have a painting to show you that's related in an unrelated sort of way. "How does that work" you ask? Ha! Here's the title: It Happened Downtown.

Yup, the Iowa City Arts Festival happens in downtown Iowa City, Iowa. The streets of Dubuque, Iowa, Washington and Linn, are all involved, and yours truely will be location #104 on Linn Street.

AND. The aforementioned painting, at the moment not quite ready, but almost, will make the trip with me. So debut performance on this painting, but there will be others in the 'fresh off the easel' category as well. It Happened Downtown is an acrylic painting on a 30 x 30 inch canvas. If you are desperate for a downtown Iowa City scene, we can pretend this is one, but in reality downtown Minneapolis was the inspiration location. But. Like I said, we allow big imaginations in the world of art :) so you just go for it!

If you have visited with me about my paintings before and are on my mailing list, you should have received (or will shortly) a post card mentioning a 10% discount for a painting purchased during the Iowa City Arts Festival. I would like to extend that to my online fans as well, so make sure you mention reading this, and we will make it happen for you too!

Later, Cooper

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Welcome to the Cooper studio on this fine, albeit galeforcewindy day, in Spencer, Iowa. It is delightfully warm, and you can't argue with that!

Have I whined lately about keeping this house spotless? Yes, we are trying to sell, and I am getting close to wearing out the vacuum cleaner. The day is so magnificent that of course the windows are wide open. Couple that with the aforementioned gfwinds, and now I get to dust everything, along with the vacuuming. Another showing tomorrow at noon, so no morning painting. And let me tell you, with that going on till mid-day, it will be mentally hard to paint in the afternoon as well. The whole process does mess with the mind. It's amazing that I get any painting done at all. But I did today. This one is on a 20 x 16 inch heavy paper, still a little rough around the edges in places. We'll see, maybe getting a house ready for showing will zap my thoughts a different direction, and this one will finish up tomorrow. Who knows?

---no title yet, but who wants to bet that it will include "red"?!
Later, Cooper

Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Artists Paint The Way They Do

And a big YEA!

Now, we've got to get him through college! Ha, I'd better get back to the studio.

Later, Cooper