In the Studio Today... Mini Cow Paintings for the 23rd Annual Bolinas Museum "Mini Show"

Sunday, November 13, 2011
The Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, California
Terrific Sunday, 60 degrees in late November, sunny afternoon drive to Bolinas to deliver my first submissions to the Bolinas Museum Mini Show, now in it's 23rd year.  This is a fundraiser, with all of the items giving at least 50% back to the Museum/50% to the artist.

Opening Reception:
Saturday • Nov 19 •  3 - 5pm
works of 80 invited artists
all pieces under $400

Colorful crab pots were out on the side of the road, and the low tide offered the kids and dog ample opportunity for running and treasure hunting on the beach.  The surfers were plentiful, even at sunset.

Working part-time at Art Works Downtown and still running my kids around to activities after school, I haven't had the time to paint that I did before I was working.  This forces me to burn the midnight oil and get paintings done at night.

This year, I chose to paint on 6" x 6" (2 inch deep) gessoboard, that comes with a frame/box already attached and ready for gallery installation.  My artist friend, Kate Peper, has been painting watercolors on these for years.  I really liked painting on this, and will definitely do more paintings in this fashion.
6" x 6" mini oil paintings on gallery ready gessoboard

 My first painting is of a cow grazing above Tomales Bay, off Route #1.  This is one of my favorite views of all, and you can park here and walk down until you are pretty close to the cows.

"Tomales Bay Munch"  6" x 6" oil on board 2011

The second mini painting is also from this same location.  The lighting in the late afternoon produces "cow shadows" that are just terrific.  I loved how the Mom is facing one direction and the kids are facing the opposite direction- all in silhouette with the colorful forground grasses. 

"Mother and Twins"  6" x 6" oil on board 2011

Hope to see you at the reception, November 19th!

In the Studio Today... Apple's iWeb & iCloud Changes will Adversely Affect Artists

October 21, 2011
Apparently, back in June, articles began surfacing about Apple's changes that were coming soon with iCloud and Mobile Me.  Being a busy working artist and mom, I pretty much did not notice this news until recently.  Fast forward to current, October 2011, and working artists are ugrading to iCloud and buying the new iPhone 4s.  We suddenly realize that our easy iWeb package from Apple is now going to be no more; we will be forced to move our websites to another service provider at our own expense, and our Mobile Me galleries will no longer be hosted after June 2012.  Are you kidding me?  Ouch. 

Working in a building with more than forty artists, and having worked with hundreds of more artists in my previous position, I realize how massive this change is going to affect Marin County artists alone (see links to 10 artists sites created in iWeb at the end of this article).  Artists invested in iWeb and Mobile Me because it was easy to use.  Easy to create a website, and easy to update it when you created new art to share with the world.  It catered to people who didn't want to invest their lifetime building a site, or updating it, or finding a place to host it.  It was terrific for people that couldn't afford to hire a web designer, and were creative enough to give it a go.  It came before blogger and Facebook... It was the very first, graphical user interface that artists loved being in, and working with.  I respect this very much, and I honor the iWeb team and Apple for what they did here.  In essence, iWeb has been awesome for the working artist in Marin County because it was so easy it gave us time to paint, sculpt, create and do what we want to do, not spend time on our websites.

Now, perhaps Apple never heard this from us.  Perhaps Steve Jobs never heard our praise for iWeb, and how much time it has saved all of us artists from having to deal with service providers, and hosting and all the issues of a website that we just don't want to be spending time or extra money dealing with in a small business situation.  I wish he had.  I wish I knew sooner about these changes, and I wish I was able to congratulate the iWeb team for their work.  Perhaps it is not too late?  Perhaps there is a way for us to band together and let the iWeb team know that artists love iWeb for it's ease of use, hassle free hosting and all the very essence of design simplicity that Steve Jobs seemed to be all about (If you agree, tell Apple here!) There are not too many templates in iWeb 2.0.4(which I am still using), so sites tend to have similar layout and functionality, but it was always easy enough for people to use, understand, and sites were clean to read.  Simplicity in design remained true across the board.  Most of these sites still have the Apple design feel in some capacity, which I adore.

Here are a handful of local, artist websites that use iWeb.  I want to share with Apple what we loved about iWeb, Mobile Me, and this service, and I respectfully ask that you consider the artists, teachers and others who have used this product, loyally for the past years.  Don't end this just because it doesn't make you the most money.  Find a way to help artists, teachers and those who really value your product's ease of use; this product gave us the freedom to really go create and be artists.  Thank you, iWeb team.  Artists who agree, please join me in providing feedback to the iWeb team here.

iWeb 2.0.4:

iWeb 3.0.4:

iWeb 3.0.3:

iWeb 3.0.2:

In the Studio Today... Graphic Design for AWD

September 25, 2011

I'm enjoying some little design projects at work that feature Art Works Downtown, 2nd Fridays Art Walk, and the Dead of the Dead Exhibit.  Today I have been working on several iterations of the 2nd Fridays Art Walk poster, and an ad for the Pacific Sun.  It's challenging to fit everything you want in a 300 x 250 pixel ad, but I think I am happy with the latest drafts.  I'm sure it will change as the week goes on.
The last week at work, I did a postcard design for the "Dia de los Muertos" Day of the Dead exhibit that is going into the 1337 Gallery at Art Works Downtown this week.  Installation begins tomorrow, Monday, September 26.  I love the postcard design, that is based on a Mexican tile that my partner got in Texas in the 1990's.  The tile had a skeleton with cowboy boots, drinking tequila and a bottle with limes nearby.  I adapted part of the skeleton to be holding a wine glass, for our "wine tasting" Art Walks, and I expanded on the floral design to make a very LARGE flower so that the petals could hold the artist's names inside.  I added leaves to hold the names of the curators.  My team at work helped me to revise the design to perfection.  We really have a great team at Art Works Downtown!  Hope you will come to the opening reception, October 14th!

September 11 in History: Just the Good Stuff

September 10, 2011
Annapolis Building 1772
Today I got to thinking about how frustrated I feel when people keep bringing up "9-11", a tragic event that happened in America ten years ago, that has since become "Patriot's Day" and a day of remembrance for the victims and service men that were killed.  Every year, about this time, I keep hearing about the horror of 9-11, they show the images on the news, in the papers, online.  It got under my skin to the point that I decided that I just don't want to forever recall this day as a "day of horror" or remembrance of this single event.  I wanted to seek out "the good stuff" that has happened on September 11th throughout history, so I might share this with my sons and explain that September 11 is "just a day, like any other ordinary day; it has had good things and bad things happen", but it doesn't have to be remembered as a day of terror and destruction for the rest of my twins lives.  In fact, just now, I asked my nine year old if he knows what September 11th, or "9-11" means to him.  He said, "I don't know", Mom.  Well, in a way, I think this is great.  I am glad we have spared him the insane media circus that was put on with this day for the last ten years, and that somehow, continues to end up on the front page of our news every year.  How about some of these great things that have happened on September 11 in the past?  I'd like to share these with my kids instead, and let them decide what September 11 means to them.

#1:  September 11, 1999
Doug's Wedding
Pondering this on Twitter this morning, @DougP1 noted that his wedding occurred on September 11, 12 years ago, and his son thinks of this as a wonderful day. Wish him a Happy Anniversary tomorrow.

#2:  September 11, 1998
Opening ceremony for the 1998 Commonwealth Games
Malaysia is the first Asian country to host the games.

#3:  September 11, 1997
NASA's Mars Global Surveyor reaches Mars.
Info learned from the nine year mission.

#4:  September 11, 1985
Pete Rose breaks Ty Cobb's baseball record for most career hits with his 4,192nd hit
View it on YouTube... Tickets were 50 CENTS!

#5:  September 11, 1972
Bay Area Rapid Transit, "BART", began operation in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Today, BART connects San Francisco with cities in the East Bay and suburbs in northern San Mateo County. Average weekday ridership of is 357,800 passengers making BART the fifth-busiest heavy rail rapid transit system in the United States.

#6:  September 11, 1961
The World Wildlife Fund opened it's first office in Morges, Switzerland.  Today, it is the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries, supporting countless conservation and environmental projects.

#7:  September 11, 1922
The Sun News-Pictorial was established in Australia.  "The Sun" had the largest circulation for more than fifty years.

#8:  September 11, 1789
Alexander Hamiliton became the first US Secretary of the Treasury
President George Washington appointed Alexander Hamilton as the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.

#9:  September 11, 1786
This was the precursor to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, or the "Constitutional Convention", the result of which was the United States Constitution.

#10:  September 11, 1609
Henry Hudson discovered the "Hudson River"

And... Some births of note on September 11:

1700 – James Thomson, Scottish poet (d. 1748)
1885 – D. H. Lawrence, English novelist (d. 1930)
1943 – Mickey Hart, American drummer
1957 – Brad BirdPIXAR!!!  American director and animator
1962 – Kristy McNichol, American actress
1965 – Moby, American musician
1967 – Harry Connick, Jr., American singer

My resources for this post remain slim, and I confess to finding this all on Wikipedia... but I wanted to start somewhere.  I will see what else I can find on this topic, and add to this post at a later date.  Enjoy your September 11 this Sunday, 2011, and I hope you and your family do something memorable, in a good way, because I believe we really need to be accentuating the "good stuff" more often these days.

Sept 11, 2001 update:  @DougP1 on Twitter shared another link at with things that have happened on September 11 throughout history.  Read the new comments to this post for more on the emotional aspects of being reminded of a tragedy each year.

A Year at Marin Arts 2010-2011

September 3, 2011

Almost exactly one year ago, on a Thursday in September, I put my work clothes on and went to volunteer for the Marin Arts Council, at their fairly new digs(they'd been there a year) at 906 Fourth Street in Downtown, San Rafael, California.  I was put to work immediately as the "gallery sitter", meeting and greeting folks off the street.  It was exciting for me, having been a frustrated and over-worked parent volunteer for too many years, I really wanted to get back to a job in the Arts that use my tech skills.  The gallery at Marin Arts was a huge space, right next to Crepevine, and it had a city vibe that was new to me after working from my quiet home in the suburbs.  I stood at the counter with my new iPad and jotted down all the colorful, busy things that went by on 4th Street one day while I was in the gallery:

YELLOW fire engine • PURPLE GREEN Fed ex truck • baby stroller • Man smoking • "So great to see you!"=two woman meeting for lunch • Baby with bright RED cast on leg • Two motorcycles • Two bikes • Music from cars • Indian Lunch buffet $8.95 • Girl with ice-cream... I was excited by the new input, to say the least.

At this time, the exhibit was art from "Teamworks".  Many people came in to see the show, and most of the work sold, as it was a fundraiser and 10 year retrospective of this group.  I wrote a blog post on this back in September 2010.

Within a month, I was creating the Marin Arts Council's weekly E-news in Constant Contact.  I totally embraced this volunteer job, and really loved filling the weekly news with information about local artists, events, links and graphics.  It was fun, and informative, and I could connect with artists and help them in a way similar to the work I'd already been doing for the "Art on the Farm" blog.  The hope was that this might eventually lead to a job in the Arts, and maybe even right there, at the Marin Arts Council.

In November, to my surprise, the Executive Director laid off the Director of Exhibits and Events, an amazing woman who had been with Marin Arts for twelve years.  It was a sad moment for me, as I'd believed I would get to learn from her and work by her side.  However, within a month, I was offered a job as the Director of Membership at Marin Arts.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity, but saddened by the loss of someone so respected and loved in the Marin Arts community.

I volunteered four full weeks in December, enjoying the works in the "Small Wonders" Holiday Show, two separate theatrical performance events, and a book talk by artist, Susan Hall.  I was finally announced as the Director of Membership in January of 2011.

During my year at Marin Arts, I assisted with graphics and advertising to promote the shows and events at Marin Arts.  I suggested and managed the installation of "Art on the Farm"( a group of artists currently managed by Larry Bryson) at the Marin County Civic Center, where a record of eight paintings were sold.  I advertised and promoted:

•   "Go Figure"  through Feb 26

 The "Go Figure" show, coinciding with February and Valentine's Day, was a fantastic representation of all forms of figurative art.  I enjoyed meeting multi-dimensional artists, such as Arin Wiscomb, and Laura Lengyel.  I had the pleasure of time in the gallery with Georgia Anwell and Lisa Robecheck.

•  "Nature's Palette" March and April 2011, with a Kid's Art Scavenger Hunt

 One of the great highlights of my job was conceptualizing and designing an "Art Scavenger Hunt" for kids to go alongside our "Nature's Palette" show. 
The scavenger hunt, with an ice cream "reward" at Double Rainbow, was a huge success, and brought in hundreds of kids and families to the Marin Arts Gallery in the Spring.  Read an article written in Larkspur Patch about a day at Marin Arts with the kids, by Marilyn LoRusso

I enjoyed meeting and working with all the artists in this exhibit that honored nature.  There was a book talk by Becky Foust and Lorna Stevens, and Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang spoke about their art and travels in Africa.  I assisted Trish Carney, a photographer for National Geographic, who works closely with Wild Care in San Rafael.  I enjoyed speaking with her about her work as we installed her photographs during this show.

We also hosted "Poetry Out Loud", for which I designed an event program and assisted with the event.

•  "Marin Open Studios Group Show"

•  "2011 Annual Member Show" at the Civic Center

I designed and managed:

•  Marin Arts Summer Series of Artist Workshops
I contacted all the artists and planned a curriculum for the first series of Summer classes, by artist members.  It was a great effort, but in the end, we did not have the funds to advertise and promote this.  One of the instructors, Zach Gilmour, a printmaking teacher in Lagunitas, did very well and filled several classes.  There was great feedback on his classes from the students.

I taught a very broad and customizable computer class for artists:

"Computer for Artists"

I enjoyed working with a few artists who just needed some tips on working with their art on the computer.  It was enjoyable, and I would love to continue teaching this class from Art Works Downtown if we ever get to a point where this is possible.

I brainstormed and planned:

•  "Masters and Students Show" at the Civic Center (I grouped together the four teachers who would be featured in this show, and arranged for them to occupy the two galleries at MCC:

Unfortunately, I had to leave Marin Arts before it was finally installed in August 2011.  I look forward to getting over to see this show soon, as I have no idea how it turned out!  If you've been, let me know. : )

In general, this job was overwhelming due to the short staff and lack of funding.  I worked about 40 hours a week and was only paid for 24.  I was there late so many nights; my kids would play on the computers in the back, while I would be installing or re-hanging art for an opening.  The kids loved it, and got used to meals at Crepevine and video games while Mommy worked.  We even used the office to create my son's "Marin Report" on the Marin County Civic Center, one weekend in April.  Throughout the job, I responded to Membership calls from my cell phone daily, entered payments into Filemaker Pro and updated the database for shows.  I redesigned the Wendy Gruber Grant Application to fit on a double-sided page, a grant which I was awarded in 2007.  It felt like I'd come full circle from the time in which I myself had applied for that grant.  I printed countless labels, shopped for wire and supplies, schlepped ladders and tools to the Civic Center, moved display pedestals in my car, went to storage facility to get extra pedestals, vacuumed and took out the trash and recycling.  Cleaned up after receptions.  It was a huge effort, and I loved the work, despite the long hours and low pay.

In June of this year, Marin Arts was faced with a financial situation that forced me to look for a new position.  I was fortunate to find work as the Communications Coordinator for another San Rafael Art Center, Art Works Downtown.  Learn more about Art Works Downtown and 2nd Fridays Art Walk in my next post!

Important update on Marin Arts:
On October 5, 2011 at 7pm, the Marin Arts Council Members have called a "Special Member Meeting" to which all members of Marin Arts Council are requested to attend.  They plan to vote for a new Board of Directors, many of whom are artists themselves, and there will be a fiscal assessment update.  I hope this helps Marin Arts become financially viable again.  I would love to see some of the former staff reinstated to this organization that has the power to change lives with its assistance to artists.  I believe Ellen Campbell was a huge part of what made Marin Arts a success for so many years.  There were other greats at Marin Arts, such as Lance Walker, a grant writer, grants adviser and pun writer extraordinaire.  There have been many changes, and there will probably be more to come.  Best wishes to Marin Arts for the future.

In the Studio Today... Deer Park, Fairfax: Bike in the Tree Shadows

June 2, 2011
Bike in the Tree Shadows, Deer Park, Fairfax, California  2011  16" x 20"

This is the painting I have been working on for a couple months... Stop and go... busy with work at the Marin Arts Council, completing the "Summer Series of Arts Workshops" programming.  It looks good!  We hope people will register and support the Arts Council in Marin.  "Pop Art" exhibit is going in tomorrow and I look forward to meeting Richard James of The Coastodian, who has created some wonderful sculptures of water bottles in Pt. Reyes National Seashore.  My twins are finishing third grade projects, YES Foundation art projects, and more... I haven't been able to ride my bike too much, but this is one of my favorite places, and hope to get out there soon!

In the Studio Today... Marin Open Studios

May 7 & 8  and... May 14 & 15, 2011

The weather was just perfect for Marin Open Studios this weekend.  I participated this year and had my art out in the backyard/driveway and painted on an easel on Mother's Day.  It was lovely.  I had 20 visitors on Mother's Day, and they were truly a terrific bunch.
     For more information on the 285 artist studios that are open this weekend, please visit and download the Tour Guide and Maps.  It is open next weekend as well, May 14 & 15.  Most of the artists also have a "preview piece" in the Gallery at 906 Fourth Street in Downtown San Rafael, right next to Crepevine.  Best way to visit Open Studios is to stop at Marin Arts Gallery, pick up a Tour Guide (or download one online) and then look at one piece by each of the artists, and plan which studios you wish to visit with the Tour Guide in hand.

BJ Snyder purchased the first piece of art this Saturday- "View of White's Hill from Pine Mt."- a plein air piece I created in 2007, just before I received the Wendy Gruber award.  This piece has significance to me as well, in that I painted it under the pine trees at the top of Pine Mt. Fire Road, with my border collies, Quest and Mesa.  Quest passed away in 2008, and the pine trees were cut down by MMWD in 2010.  Two great losses, but a lovely day and painting to commemorate their glory days.

Colleen Proppé working on "Riding through Tree Shadows", Deer Park, Fairfax

I was happy to work on this painting my second day of Open Studios.  It's coming along.  I love the dappled light from the trees as you exit the fire road from Deer Park hiking/biking trails.  This painting seeks to capture that joy.

Lollipops, Tiny Cow Painting and Flowers... Great floral arrangement by Kate Peper, friend and artist.  Thank you, Kate!
My family shipped this large painting from Connecticut.  I painted it there last summer, and I wanted it present at my Open Studios.  I really love this painting.  I hope it goes to a good home soon.

In the Studio Today... Environmental Art FUNraiser!

April 18 - May 5th, 2011 Earth Day Week

Beach Plastic Art: Pelican by 3rd Graders, originally uploaded by cproppe.
April and May are the busiest months ever with both Marin Arts, and my sons' end of year school projects all pending start and completion... This past two weeks, I managed to get over to visit Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang's studio, with the boys and dog in tow.
Aidan, checking out Beach Plastic treasures at Judith and Richard Lang's.
Boys LOVED the Langs old barn studio in West Marin, with the bags of old toothbrushes, bubble blower sticks and a tray of fishing lures collected from Kehoe Beach, Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

Judith and Richard have been collecting Beach Plastic there for 12 years, and have their work in SFMOMA right now. The prints they create from the collected trash inspired us to do this project with the kids for their yearly fundraiser that pays for the Arts in their public school district.

Blake, looking at recently collected, unsorted Beach Plastic.

40 third graders at Wade Thomas School participated in the project. Groups of 4 children picked a sea animal and arranged the plastic in the shape of that creature. The results are whimsical and priceless. Special thanks to Terri Baker, Fairfax Photographer, for her assistance with this project.  We have sold over $700. of notecards, all proceeds going to YES Foundation at  To view the 9 different sea animals the kids created, click here to visit the set on Flickr.

Art cards, designed by 3rd graders for their fundraiser.

Photographer, Terri Baker, hard at work... or play?

For more information on Beach Plastic, please read my previous post from February on the work of Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang.

In the Studio Today... The Art of Beach Plastic

Sunday, Feb 6, 2011

Today was a gorgeous, 73 degree day in February in Northern California. My family and I headed out to Kehoe Beach in Pt. Reyes National Seashore to take a nice hike, bring the dog, and enjoy the sand dunes. We had a plan to collect beach plastic, inspired by the work of friends from Woodacre, Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang. This couple is well-known in Marin and the Bay Area for collecting plastic washed up on Kehoe beach for 12 years now, and creating art from their collections. We set out to see what we could find today, and to our surprise... we found a rainbow of plastic in a very small area of the beach.  Here are two photographs of what we collected on the beach today....
Notice the American Airlines tag, a blue plastic flower, and some really unique shapes.  My sons were really excited to find the green, agricultural bands(lower left) that Judith and Richard talk about in their video, and I was amazed to find a toothbrush and toothpaste cap(upper right).
Here I am amazed at the full spectrum of color that is to be found in just a few hours on the beach:  We found 4 disposable lighters, and probably 30 or more bottle caps, a yellow "ant" from the game "Ants in the Pants"(we think) a comb, and a plastic "Army Man".  The army man became symbolic of one man's battle against this huge, alarming environmental issue we face, so I made a little poster that you will find below.  First, take a look at Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang's video on this art they have been creating from this beach for over a decade.

Judith and Richard have been creating art from their finds, and educating the public with their work for many years.  Most recently, they have a display at SFMOMA in San Francisco.  This April, they will have work in the Marin Arts Council Gallery show, "Nature's Palette", where we hope to play a video you can watch online now.  Please take a moment to watch their "film" on their work and their love story, here:

Each piece of plastic Richard and Judith pick up comes back to their house, where it gets cleaned, categorized and stored before being used for their art. The couple make sculptures, prints, jewelry and installations with the plastic they find washed up, raising a deeper concern with the problem of plastic pollution in our seas. To learn more about their work, visit: and
and to learn more about the Gyre:​wiki/​Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch

The below image is a quick poster design I did, using the plastic "Army Man" we found today, looking as if he is fighting in the sea of plastic.  Do you think we can win this war on disposable plastic?

Beachplastic_poster_2011_25, originally uploaded by cproppe.

Blake made a list that he is holding, that itemizes the caps, toys, colors... of each piece collected today.