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Hey Folks!!


Hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season! A friendly reminder to our followers, we have officially began posting The Art Challenge at our other site you can click HERE to check it out and please don’t forget to follow us there so you can keep up with all the great work everyone is putting out!




Weekly Art Challenge: TRANSFORMATION

Hey Folks!!

This week our theme is: TRANSFORMATION!

And a short note, we have started an new blog site specifically for the art challenge at Challenges will be posted starting the first week of January. Currently the new site is in progress, but if you are a fan of our Art Challenge please stop by the new blog and follow us there!


RJ – Cocoon, pencil on paper.

I love Rj’s pencil drawings. His eye for textural detail and ability to depict delicate moments always bring a smile to my face. The butterfly is in the process of emerging, its wings not yet ready to spread out and be fully reveled. The nibbled leaves behind the butterfly reminds the viewer of the caterpillar this new butterfly once was.

rj transformation


Karri – Phoenix, watercolor on paper

“I will rise, out of these ashes, rise”. This weeks theme made me think about all the transformation we all make throughout life. Overcoming struggles. Changing our situation or habits. This brought to mind the image of a phoenix, rising from the ashes of an old life.

WOW, you can really feel the heat from the Karri’s Phoenix flames! The intensity of the oranges and reds is brilliant against the blue background and definitely reminds a viewer to push forward. I love this positive message to overcome and keep overcoming struggles.

karri transformation


Bethany –  The DoodlePen and color pencil on paper.

“I started a doodle and it made a transformation into a whimsical peaceful place.”

I am loving Bethany’s creative process and how a simple little doodle transforms into a beautiful landscape. Her pieces depicts how an artist’s mind works and the choices we make along the way. The touch of color added in the end really makes the image glow. Beautiful!

bethany trans 3

bethany trans 2

BETHANY trans 1



InaButterfly, Pencil and watercolor on paper.

 “My piece for TRANSFORMATION is a butterfly just coming out of it’s cocoon. As a new creature, it does not realize yet how it has morphed into something new and what beautiful new wings it has. The nature spots and colors are amazing once you start analyzing how they make a pattern up so close. “

The colors of this freshly emerging butterfly are gorgeous! Ina’s Butterfly is eager to spread her wings and as a viewer I am eager to see her fly! I love the details of the wings and the light washes of blue in the background juxtapose with the bolder application of color of the butterfly. Beautiful piece!!


INA transformation



“The transformation of everything turning Christmas-y”

First we see the calm and clean left side of a residential street and then I find myself falling forward into the black christmas-y side of this piece, like alice in the rabbit hole. The holiday season does have this wonderland whirlwind intoxication feel about them. Emily accurately depict the sudden arrival of the festive decorations and lights.

emily transformation


AmberCharge! – (incomplete) pen and ink on paper

My incomplete piece was inspired by the greek myth of Persephone  I wanted to illustrate the transformation of a space or environment when my nieces enter.

My twin nieces are depicted as the youthful force of spring, charging into a snowy landscape to liven up the dreary greys of winter. They are fearless, jovial and loving girls.


Next theme: BLUE



Weekly Art Challenge: BLUE

Hello Folks!!

This week’s theme for our friendly art challenge is: BLUE! Sorry this post is so late, I had some problems uploading the images.


RJ: Untitled, digital media – RJ was inspired by both the markings of a zebra and the Aura Borealis for this weeks piece! His piece reminds me of the feeling of lightness that comes with travel and the creative ways we bring what we learn and experience during our travels together into one cohesive image.


Amber: Sky, watercolor on paper – I used only shades of blue to create my sky. Currently I am working in the Texan panhandle and the vastness of the sky above me became my inspiration.





Next theme: Pie!

Weekly Art Challenge: HEAVY

Hey Folks!

This week’s theme is Heavy!


RJ: UntitledInk on paper – RJ wanted to use a heavy bold black line to create something that was still uplifting. It definitely has a fantasy dream-like quality. He balances his heavy lines with nature inspired patterns and imagery. The piece reminds me a lot of illustrations from old fairytale books I use to read as a kid.


Amber: Abstractions, water color on paper – I wanted to play with abstraction and spent the afternoon having tons of fun with my watercolor media. My approach to making these small art pieces was to keep them in rotations. while one was drying, work on another and then rotate. I worked without a set plan for the outcome and I trusted my creative intuition.

I had a lot of fun, as art should be!







Weekly Art Challenge: Nocturnal Animals

Hello Folks


This week’s theme for our fun weekly art challenge is Nocturnal Animals! Sorry for the post delay folks, life has been busy 🙂


RJ: Owl – Rj’s use of patterns to display texture reminds me of what many folks are now calling “Zentangles”. I love that the owl is not fully visible but instead poking his head out from a good hiding spot. A nocturnal game of peek-a-boo!



Tony: Owl and Bat – Tony’s piece immediately reminded me of the ying yang symbol. There is a energetic balance between two well known nocturnal animals as they interact with the moon. Beautiful piece Tony!

bat and owl

Amber: Lunar Moth, acrylic washes on paper – I was super busy with a grueling work schedule during this challenge and did not complete my lunar moth. 😦



The next theme is: Healing!

Who The Hell is Amber Palecek??

A couple of weeks ago a friend, David Jett, wrote a post about my Rural Decay series for the website Hijack Your Head! its always an honor when someone wants to share your passion with their viewers because they love it as much as you do. Its been a long time since I added anything new to the blog, despite the plethora of new abandoned discoveries I have found this and last year. I am definitely feeling the inspiration to write more of my Rural Decay adventures!

Woman Artist: Estelle Peck-Ishigo

Estelle Peck Ishigo  – Watercolorist, American (1899- 1990)

Estelle Peck Ishigo is best known for her watercolors sketches documenting the three long years she spent with her Japanese- American husband, Arthur Ishigo, in the Japanese internment camps during WWII. Ishigo was one of the few white women who volunteered to follow her husband when he was required to deport for the camps. Her story became nationally known in the early 1990’s when filmmaker Steven Okazaki, inspired by Ishigo’s book “Lone Heart Mountain”, made her the subject his Academy Award winning documentary ‘Days of Waiting’.


Portrait of Estelle Peck-Ishigo while at Heart Mountain

Ishigo was born in Oakland, California in 1899. Her mother was an opera singer and her father was a painter and piano tuner. When Ishigo was about 12 years old her parents would often leave her in the care of one relative or another.  These situations were not always happy circumstances for the young Estelle.  As soon as she could, Ishigo left to be on her own and would eventually attend and earn a degree from Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.

Ishigo met her husband, Arthur, in 1929 and declared that it was “Love at first sight”.  Because at the time it was illegal for a white person to marry someone outside other his or her race the couple decided to travel to Mexico and get married. After the couple’s return, she was disowned by her family because of her marriage. She and her husband would settle down in a local Japanese community.


In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor both the Ishigos were discriminately fired from their jobs and Arthur received notice from the MP that he was to report shortly to the Ponoma Assembly Center where he was to wait for relocation to Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Estelle, not wanting to be separated from her husband, packed her belongings and joined him. Immediately, while sitting with several families waiting to board, Ishigo pulled out a pencil and some paper and began sketching. She captured the long waiting, the fear, the feeling of uncertainty and the harshness of this new reality.


Her artistic talent earned her a position in the camp newsletter as “Documentary Reporter”. Through out her time spent in the camps Ishigo documented, primarily with watercolors, everything from women hanging the laundry to children playing. There was nothing for the prisoners to do but wait for their time in the camps to come to an end. Nobody knew how long they would be forced to wait. Ishigo wrote “thousands of people with nothing to do but wait … watch the sunset … and wait for the next day to begin”

When the war ended the Ishigos, along with the other camp prisoners, were allowed to return to their home. The couple lived the rest of their lives in poverty because of their experience and the discrimination they faced afterwards. Estelle Peck-Ishigo never painted again.

Arthur Ishigo passed away in 1957 and Estelle lived a reclusive life after his death. During the 1970’s a book of Estelle’s paintings was published, it has since gone out of print, and an exhibit of her work was shown in 1972. It was the only time her work was to be publicly exhibited. In 1983 she was found in a basement, by a group of friends from her years in the camp, barely living and immobile. She was transferred with the help of her friends to a hospital where she passed away in 1990 shortly before the completion of Okazaki’s ‘Days of Waiting’, a documentary that focused on her and her work during the war.

The first thing I noticed about Ishigo’s paintings was the lack of anger and bitterness in her mark making. Instead I see honest and dignified depictions of the mundane existence and the heavy loneliness that came with camp life. Her interests were obviously not to express personal feelings of what was happening, but to accurately record what she saw.  In some part I am sure that her watercolors was a tool to help pass the time away, in another part I believe she was a compassionate woman wanting to bring some color into a dreary predicament.

For more information please check the following links. “Days of Waiting” can be ordered via PBS.


PBS – Days of Waiting

Estelle Peck-Ishigo Collection 


The Badlands, South Dakota

Last week while I was driving West from a wind farm near Sioux Falls, South Dakota to the Washington coast for our next job, I passed by the Badlands for the first time in years.

The Badlands, located in Western South Dakota along I-90, are one of the most colorful and beautiful natural spaces in the American States. It took me two attempts to see this wonderful place the last time and it was painful to not have the time to stop for another visit this time around. You can briefly glimpse some of the eroded buttes from the interstate, but will not see enough to satisfy a craving.

Feeling a bit nostalgic about my earlier trip to the Badlands, and suddenly realizing that many of my photos from that visit are probably gone thanks to a cruel hard drive failure over two years ago, I decided to go through every photo file I had backed up and eventually through my Google Picasa account. Thankfully Picasa had a copy of every photo that I had posted on a former  blog of mine. Though I didn’t post everything, but I did post a few images and looking through those precious few I could feel myself back in the national park. It was a bright sunny day, the park had plenty of visitors but not too many, and I was in awe of everything that I saw.

While taking in the view from above there was a golden eagle, my first, soaring above the landscape. There were these giant silvery poofs that looked like prehistoric dandelions  all over the park. And of course there was the magnificent display of color in the rock formations from the various type of rock material packed together in tight layers. Each layer representing a different time in the long geological history of the region.

If you should ever go to this wonderland then you must go when the weather is lovely and the sky is blue to really appreciate the color. This is not a visit for bleak grey days. Its also a perfect place to bring a portable watercolor set.


Yellowstone National Park Day 4


Final full day of our Yellowstone Trip in May of 2011

This was an eventful day. We spent a large portion of it exploring the Lamar River Valley – an area of the park that is often overlooked by visiting tourists. I highly recommend taking the time to see this portion of the park. Great place to spot bears and several other wild animals. During one of out short hikes to see a preserved tree stump we cam into contact with a young moose. He started to walk along our trail about 5 feet  away.  It was amazing!

We also made stops at the Artist Paint Pots and then to see the Grand Prismatic Springs. Because of the early season, we were not able to hike the trail that would have given us a birds eye of the spring and all the marvelous colors. Still, we had a wonderful view.