Bacon Carmelitas 

 Warning. These are totally addictive.  

I made these for a Bacon Day Party. They were a hit. 

Bacon Carmelitas 

64 caramel squares, unwrapped

12 oz center cut bacon cooked until crisp then coarsely chopped  

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cup butter, melted

1 1/2cup brown sugar, packed

2 cup flour

2 cup rolled oats

2 teaspoon baking soda

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Coarse sea salt.   

Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of two 8×8″ pans or one 9×13″ Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips and bacon over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven, sprinkle sea salt over the top and cool completely before cutting.

Serve at room temperature.

If you are pressed for time you can also pop then in the fridge for a bit.  To cool them off.  

A giant leap of faith. 

A little over a month ago, after a lot of soul searching, I decided it was time to leave my day job and follow my art full time.  This was not a decision made lightly and was done with the full support of my family. I loved the work I was doing and still to thIs day believe in the importance of it. But it was time to move forward and embrace life with joy. 
I have spent the last 17 years always having some form of regular employment. To be honest I never imagined my life as a full time artist. I was always 50/50 artist/environmental professional. I am still coming to grips with the concept that I am self employed not unemployed. 

For now I am happy, at peace and full of inspiration. And very ready for where his adventure takes me.

All kinds of new things including a dedicated studio workshop!

Art Studio

2015 has started off with a bang. Charlie and I are engaged and we just purchased our first house. We set out with the goal in mind to make sure that both of us have adequate space to create our art without the space constraints that have been holding us back. The last year my primary create spaces have been on the sofa using the coffee table, on the floor in the leather room or the dining room table. All of which make setting up for a long term project not at all feasable. Therefor almost all of my work the past year or more has been rather small 8×10 or most often 5×7 in size.

Move weekend happened just before we went up to Indiana Comic Con. Which was an adventure to say the least. Such a great experience for us both that it deserves its own post.

Now that we have been home a few weeks and have managed to get the studio up and running I have for the first time in three years brought out my full sized watercolor pallet. Lack of work space has limited me to using only my travel pallet for so long I forgot how nice using a mixing pallet was.

Now that we are settled and have started to get back into the groove of creating I have plans to get my Etsy Shop back up and running, as well as start making some more regular posts. But for now here is part of my side of the studio.

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Goals – Where I wanted my art to go two and a half years ago.

Do you ever make lists, only to loose them and find them later?
Me, I write things down all the time only to forget to ever look at them again.

A few weeks ago I found something in a book. Something that had been long forgotten. But now that it has been found has shown me just how far I have come and how much further I have left to go.

Back in March 2012 I was camping alone behind my artist tent at a festival in South Florida. There are two parts to these festivals. There is the part that happens when the public is around. Then the after hours festivities which have the own special magic. I turned in early, no longer able to handle being the lone mosquito magnet at the drum circle. Retreating to my tent, I read by flashlight until the drums and chanting began to lull me to sleep. The book I had brought with me was Art Marketing 101. I must have been reading about setting goals because I made a list of artist goals for myself on an index card.

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My March 2012 goals for my art.

Fast forward to September 2014. I had long since forgotten my list, but had pulled out the book because I was needing to reference some information for a project I was working on. In it I found a pink index card dated March 2012. It was my list of artist goals which I had set for myself. That one little piece of paper told me how far I have come and how far I still have to go in my journey. Some of the goals I have met, others I am still working on, and some still I have discovered are just not quite for me. I decided to take a look at what have accomplished and what I still wish to work towards.

Publish an Art Book– I am still nowhere near ready for this. One day I will but for now I am going to move this one to my list of long term goals. This is one of those that just needs time to develop and is best not to rush.

Illustrate a Children’s Book– This one I have just recently accomplished. I found to to be a challenging experience both rewarding and frustrating at the same time. I cannot wait to see the finished product, and look forward to future opportunities to work with authors to bring their characters to life.

Have my art in at least three stores by years end– At first I took this to be consignment type arrangements. I did have my artwork placed in two stores breifly. However I found this arrangement to be complicated and have not yet found the best fit for me. It has been some time since I have placed my art in a storefront. I am going to be revisiting this but think I will take a different approach to future agreements with store owners.

Illustrate Book Covers– So far I have done a couple of book covers. The first of which never went to publication and the artwork just sits in my collection. I have however been able to make some money selling the unclaimed images. This is an area that I look forward to the opportunity to do more of in the future.

Develop my Nature Art Line– The past few years my artwork has taken a much more nature centric focus. I am very happy with the developments I have made in this realm. My decision to focus more on the nature art and realism has made me a much stronger artist.

Steven Foster Folk Festival– I have not make it up there yet, but hope to at least visit it to see if it will be a good addition to my even schedule. I have drastically increased the number of events and shows that I attend and have also expanded my range further around the state. There are even plans in the works to start including some out of state events as well.

Take Larry Elmore’s Class– I have done this not once but twice. I could not be happier with how much I grew as an artist and on a personal level that first class. Not only did I gain valuable artistic skills I met some wonderful people who are now part of my art family.

Increase Licensing– I will admit I did not really look in to this much at all. In time I may revisit it but I want to grow more first.

Comic Books– I am not quite sure what I was thinking, but I don’t think that this is for me. But that is a whole other story.

Increase Level of Realism– On this I can say that I have made some really great strides. However I am no where near where I want to be. This is an area that I will continue to work at for as long as I am an artist.

My homework assignment to myself, and to you, is to make a new list of goals. Mine will be a bit more refined than that first list, and will include both short term and long term goals. As well as time frames that I would like to see things accomplished.

Moving madness.

For the last several months I have been happily sharing my living space with my love. But it has not been with out its challenges. My place was perfect for an artist, or a couple. But not for a couple of artists. One artist has a lot of art stuff but too artist live in the madness of creation.

Soon I am looking forward to once again having a dedicated space to paint and a home to properly store my jewelry supplies. But for now I have to put creativity aside in lieu of packing.

On the up side my cats are ready to go.

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Circle B Bar Reserve

There is a gem of a place located off Winter Lake Road in Lakeland Florida that I had the pleasure to visiting recently. If you enjoy birding, the outdoors and Florida nature than this is the place for you. Named after a cattle ranch that once occupied the property. The Polk County Environmental Lands program acquired the property and completed several restoration projects in 2005 and 2006 to restore the land back to its historical hydrologic function. The result is an oasis of wildlife. We spent a day wandering through the oak hammock, freshwater marsh, hardwood swamp and along the shore of Lake Hancock, and still didn’t walk all of the trails. Osprey, Bald Eagle, wading birds, water fowl, and alligators were in abundance.

There is no entrance fee at the park. So, pack a lunch and don’t forget your sunscreen and camera because the opportunities to capture great photos are endless. Here are just a few that we got during our little adventure.

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I can’t wait for spring. We plan on going back throughout the year to experience the changes in the flora and fauna that the different seasons bring.

WIP- Osprey drawing part 1

There are many stages to a work of art. Many of mine begin with a walk in the woods. My sweetie and I spend countless hours hunting with our cameras. Sometimes what we capture goes into the vast collection of all that we have seen, sometimes I use them drawing practice and just do quick sketches that never see the light of day, sometimes the make it into a larger work of art as an element in the background. Then every now and again I see a photo and say I must paint that!

Here is one of those instances. We caught this shot of an osprey in flight with her meal. Everything about it is so powerful I knew it would be my next painting.

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Normally I would do a pencil drawing around 8×10 or 9×12. If I were feeling really industrious maybe 11×14. Then possibly complete a painting in watercolor. From the moment I saw this I thought it needs to be done in oils, and larger than my normal size. So I busted out the big Bristol and got to setting up what will hopefully be an 18×24 inch oil painting when I am done.

I start by getting a very light sketch with blue pencil just to get my proportions and landmarks correct.

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Once I get that established I start to lay in the shadows and details.

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I don’t know how long it will take me to get the drawing completed. Tonight my drawing was halted by an orange and stripey distraction.

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Oh well maybe I will get some more completed tomorrow night.

The Start of a New Tradition

Some time ago my sweetie and I decided to do things a little differently. Rather than exchanging birthday presents we would give adventures. We already have everything we need or want, and if some thing comes up we generally just run out and grab it, Especially with a birthday that is within a month of Christmas. This minimalistic approach to gift giving is refreshing. Rather that collecting more stuff that will collect dust. We are collecting memories that will last a life time, and building a stronger relationship through our adventures. Plus it guarantees that we will get at least two little vacations a year.

Today we set out for my birthday adventure, and yes I already have been making plans for his for his. We are about three hours out of town heading north on I-75. I have no idea where we are headed. I know it will be significantly colder than at home. I am rather concerned that in addition to a heavy winter coat and long johns, it was also requested that I bring my swim suit. But not knowing what is on the agenda just adds to the adventure.