Barbara Torke: Blog en-us (C) Barbara Torke [email protected] (Barbara Torke) Sat, 13 Apr 2024 23:09:00 GMT Sat, 13 Apr 2024 23:09:00 GMT Barbara Torke: Blog 96 120 I think spring is finally here Believe it of not, it has been really busy - again. This year is passing way too quickly. I have been painting, although they are projects in process. What I have for recent work is a mix of some of my 'routine'. In the morning I write, read, and do art. Art this year has been these mini-pieces of exploration. Not that I haven't been doing other work. It's just a lot slower and multi-layered. Almost all has been abstract. There is some plein aire, and a few quick projects but for now I hope you enjoy what I've posted.

Here's a plein aire from an absolutely gorgeous winter day.  ANITA'S FRONT YARDANITA'S FRONT YARDplein aire in Cedaredge. A very nice day in November or December. Painting with friends.. 13" x 17". pastel.

I love these little gems I bring into being. They are exploratory, and adventurous, a happy part of my daily regimen. I have a - lot.


I never know what will happen when I put pen to paper.

and still I'm exploring the abstracts of collage and paint. 

These complex and abstract encounters with my imagination have me finding new ideas, new images.

NATURE'S SPY GLASSNATURE'S SPY GLASSI've been taking some inspirational classes on line from Judy Woods in New Zealand. Yes, an old dog does like to learn new tricks. this is a 16"x12" collage and acrylic, mixed media piece

I hope you'll check out a few other things in my Recent Works folder. Until later, have fun this summer. Try new things, Eat new foods. Explore



[email protected] (Barbara Torke) acrylic art barbara torke collage composition painting Sat, 13 Apr 2024 23:08:45 GMT
Happy Holidays I know this rabbit. His name is Eddie. He had a very slow spring, because of Covid.

1. _Eddie and the Snowman1. _Eddie and the Snowman

Easter was disappointing. This winter he has been very restless.

2. _Eddie helps his mom string 'berries'2. _Eddie helps his mom string 'berries'

He upset the snowman and his mom. He decided to run away from home.

3._Eddie decides to run away from home3._Eddie decides to run away from home

When he found the North Pole he met a kind soul, Mrs. Santa, who cheered him up with hot chocolate and a warm bed. She even got him a job at Santa's workshop. 

4._Arriving at the North Pole Mrs. Santa makes it all better with hot chocolate and a warm bed4._Arriving at the North Pole Mrs. Santa makes it all better with hot chocolate and a warm bed

He really wanted to help. 5._She gets him a job at Santa's workshop5._She gets him a job at Santa's workshop 6. Eddie really wants to help6. Eddie really wants to help

Where did Santa go?

7. _Where did Santa go?7. _Where did Santa go?

And why did only Eddie get sooty?

8._why did Eddie get all sooty?8._why did Eddie get all sooty?

Eddie was so busy opening gifts, he didn't notice Suzy until she sniffled loudly.

"Oh. Are these your presents?"

9._Eddie is having so much fun opening packages he doesn't notice Suzy sniffling9._Eddie is having so much fun opening packages he doesn't notice Suzy sniffling

It's more fun sharing anyway.

10._Sharing is so much more fun10._Sharing is so much more fun

Comet says it's time to go.

11._Comet says it's time to go11._Comet says it's time to go 12. _Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!12. _Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Christmas comic Easter bunny Mon, 25 Dec 2023 00:30:00 GMT
SEASON'S GREETINGS THE THREE BEARS AND GOLDILOCKS CAROLINGTHE THREE BEARS AND GOLDILOCKS CAROLINGsmall painting of the reconciliation and lasting friendship of the three bears and Goldilocks that led them to a happy holiday season caroling in their neighborhood

Goldilocks and the three bears sing Noel for us as we wind down 2023. My daughter has been on a bear 'kick' and a lot of my 2023 year work revolved around bears and their foibles. They were my gift to her, her non-profit business where she works, and her friends and family.

I did work up ten new paintings for a calendar. Watercolors and a few idiosyncratic misfits.


ALMOST THEREALMOST THERE13"x17" watercolor of a girl driving her dogs home from a great day. What fun Almost there

The year has been different and a little confusing for me. Not sure what I'm doing and where I'm headed. I have put new work in the Apple Shed, which I've taken a new turn and done with collage and acrylic. I hope you like it. It's on the rambling path I'm taking.  CAT TAILSCAT TAILS Cat Tails

Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center has been so active and I love to participate there whenever I can. The latest is a miniature sale and show for the holiday season, and I have enjoyed preparing and entering that. They do so much for our art community - the whole community. 

Play mudpies with the little girl. It'll be funPlay mudpies with the little girl. It'll be fun6"x6" miniature watercolor of a happy little girl fixing muddies for her dog

They Said playing mud-pies with the little girl would be fun

Also painted some plein air this year. I started out late and unsure but it turned out to be just what I needed. 


This was done by the Round Corral near Trickle Creek. 

The year has turned out to be a loving and wonderful experiences. Lots of new friends, new ideas, Who says an old dog can't learn new tricks?

I hope your year has been good as well, and happy and prosperous for you in 2024.


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art barbara torke collage miniatures painting pastel Wed, 20 Dec 2023 00:23:07 GMT
Fall has been beautiful, now winter comes on little frost feet This is holiday season and I'm working on miniatures for a show at the Grand MesaArts and Events Center. I made a bunch of new watercolors for the 2024 calendar. Plein aire was spectacular this fall, and of course, I have been involved in working on abstracts and collage with Judy Woods in New Zealand - on line. It's a good thing to try new things. I still love the watercolors. I really enjoy pastels outside, and the exploration of new ways to do collage and abstract are a great bunch of fun. Enjoy the season, and check out some of my new stuff in the recents file. DRIVING TO WORKDRIVING TO WORK13"x 17" watercolor of a happy redheaded girl and her dogs driving to work, obviously they are working dogs A watercolor for the 2024 calendar.

SPACE BALLAD FOR MARY ELLENSPACE BALLAD FOR MARY ELLEN12"x12" acrylic abstract painting. Many layered and subtle textures on this abstract piece

Abstract from working with Judy Woods

Play mudpies with the little girl. It'll be funPlay mudpies with the little girl. It'll be fun6"x6" miniature watercolor of a happy little girl fixing muddies for her dog

5x5 miniature watercolor.

SURFACE CREEK FALLSURFACE CREEK FALL17"x13" pastel of the far on the Grand Mesa

Plein air in pastel on Surface Creek.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Tue, 07 Nov 2023 23:16:03 GMT
A Note I posted the recent work I've done. Valentine's Day is here and I can say I'm loving the art I'm making right now. It's more abstract and complex than I have done. I only posted a few of the recent, and none of the latest. Several of us have been taking classes with Judy Woods from New Zealand. On line, of course. Guess what? You can teach an old dog new tricks. It's good to take a few risks with art work, and after this couple of years of COVID it's time to get back to experimenting and exploring. I hope you enjoy these pieces. Back to the studio for me. OCTOBER CAT AND PUMPKINOCTOBER CAT AND PUMPKINstill-life with cat and pumpkin in front of the Grand Mesa collage and acrylic. This wasa fun piece. I love the way the collage papers add texture to the surface. Little secrets in the paint.

SUNFLOWER COVER FOR CALENDAR 23SUNFLOWER COVER FOR CALENDAR 23 collage with acrylic, and ink for fun.

MARCH MEANS BABY CHICKSMARCH MEANS BABY CHICKSmixed media and collage with acrylic Not as much collage and stuff, but I had a great time with the chicks in this collage painting. 



[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art barbara torke collage painting Tue, 14 Feb 2023 18:06:29 GMT
Summer ending I've had an interesting summer here. My painting has been random and geared to my own interests, mostly.. I explored a lot of compositional study, knowing it's important to learn something new everyday. I took a couple of free classes on the internet with Judy Woods. I learned a lot. Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks. IMG_6482ONE SUNFLOWERAn abstract collage and mixed media done in conjunction with a free class from Judy Wood in New Zealand. I also found some information on the web about neurographic art. This art style is a form of meditation and connection. it is fun to explore. With the COVID year or so we all need to breathe and relax. Here's a way to do that. There is a ton of information on YouTube. 



My son's birthday was in June. I'm late, of course, but here's Ken's present, a picture of his cats, Tater and Patootie, in American Gothic. Painting should be fun.

IMG_6637TATER AND PATOOTIE AMERICAN GOTHICken's birthday present. An acrylic painting of Tater and Patootie

Welcome to fall. 

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art explorarion Judy Woods neurographic art paitfng Thu, 08 Sep 2022 18:42:30 GMT
Summer in Cedaredge Greetings:

Kyle and I are in the process of publishing our third children's book, Clementine the Rescue Dog Series. Beachcombers takes Clem and her boys to the ocean. We hope to share the adventures soon.




After publishing The Missing Green Crayon and working on Beachcombers I have concentrated on some family paintings, i.e. for my daughter and her remodeled house. This was fun for me as I jumped back in history to my relatives in Denmark and their summer home. I used acrylic and textured canvases, and palette knife. I also did the grumpy sheep. It's 36" square and was a hoot to paint. I also did a lot of cartooning and other Covid retreat type painting. I needed a break. Now it's back to work. I hope you, too, have taken this time to reflect, breathe and pamper yourself. The world is not easy.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) acrylic art barbara torke Kyle Torke painting summer Mon, 08 Aug 2022 22:46:32 GMT
August is here August 16th through September 27th, the Eighth Tribe, also know as Barbara Torke's friends and students; my tribe, will be showing at the Grand Mesa Arts and Entertainment Center in Cedaredge, Colorado. If you ar in the area I hope you come and visit, and maybe even join the opening August 19.  EIGHTH TRIBE, GMAEC SHOW 2021EIGHTH TRIBE, GMAEC SHOW 2021card from the eighth tribe show at the Grand Mesa Arts and Entertainment Center, Cedaredge Colorado Members clockwise from the top are  Amy Daniels, Kathy LeVeck, Laurae Fortner Welch, Barbara Torke, and Barbara Allen. We managed to do Zoom classes during the worst of the pandemic, and now are back in the studio. It has been a rather trying experience, of course, but we have managed to paint and love what we're doing. 

I have some new paintings in the Recents folder. Not all of them, but some. Enjoy and hope you are all well and surviving  with flair. 

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Allen' Amy Daniels art Barbara barbara torke GMAEC Kathy Laurae Fortner Welch LeVeck' oil paintings painting pastel show watercolors Thu, 12 Aug 2021 22:52:14 GMT
Happy New Year I'm afraid 2020 was driven out of town like no other year before. I don't remember ever having a year so soundly accused of being Horrible. Being that what it is, here's wishing you and yours a very profitable and healthy new year.

MILKWEED PODSMILKWEED PODSmy favorite weeds are the milkweed pods. They're also a good plant for the Monarch butterflies. Peaceful






HIKING THE GRAND MESA: CLEMENTINE FINDS A HORNY TOADHIKING THE GRAND MESA: CLEMENTINE FINDS A HORNY TOADfrom the children's book Hiking the Grand Mesa, a children's book by Kyle Torke and Barbara Torke. The children's adventures on the clay hills at the base of Grand Mesa, Delta County, Colorado.

Clementine is beginning a new adventure. It's just the beginning. Ice Breaking, and Hiking the Grand Mesa are the adventures already available for children on Amazon and LovingHealingPress. by Kyle Torke and illustrated by Barbara Torke.


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) adventures barbara torke dogs kids Kyle Torke nature painting summer watercolors winter Mon, 04 Jan 2021 22:15:10 GMT
2020 is almost Over It has been an interesting year. I've learned a lot, and tried a lot of new things. I am teaching classes on Zoom, once a week, and accepting any challenge that presents itself. I was asked if I have goals for 2021, and indeed I do. One is to get finished some of the goals I set for 2020. There is a third children's book to complete. There is an art show to get ready. I always have a poem to write, a painting to complete, a plan to implement. 

Until 2021, have as pleasant and happy a Christmas as you can under the circumstances. Learn something new every day, and try something new every day. Even if it's a new recipe, or a new website. I suggest being thankful for what we have. And grateful for the good things coming. They will get here, even if it takes a while.

WHOSE JOB IS IT NOW?WHOSE JOB IS IT NOW?these horses look down on a dilapidated truck. Back to work for them, I guess. 13" x 17" watercolor telling a story about life in western Colorado

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art barbara torke illustrations painting Tue, 15 Dec 2020 22:56:47 GMT
Lazy Days in July Lazy Days in July is hardly happening. Being home is busier than ever. What was unusual is now an every day occurrence. A mask seems normal. This is, then, the new normal. If I look to a future, I realize it will be different than I ever believed possible. Setting priorities, and creating projects, all seems very important now. I have been making masks for friends and others. I teach over the internet, on Zoom. There is the new book, coming along slowly, and all kinds of personal quests. Too many, it sometimes seems. 

On July 24 the Book Launch for Don Benjamin is the happening at the Grand Mesa Arts and Entertainment Center. With concerns about social distancing it has been delayed until now. I will have copies of the second Clementine book for sale. Don has been very generous in sharing the experience with others. If you are in the area drop by. It will be a managed social gathering. Lots of good reads.

The following week the GMAEC is having a fundraiser on site as well as on line. I have three pieces for sale in their ReFind Gallery.  a Cats for Klimt Chair, an Aspen Seasons table/box, and a High Desert Shadowbox. Check all these activities out at the Grand Mesa Arts and Entertainment website, and on Facebook. There is a lot of amazing Art and Imagination to see and purchase.

Have a marvelous rest of the summer. Learn something new every day. Find new ways to live. Make art. CATS AFTER KLIMTCATS AFTER KLIMTThe Kiss is interpreted with the cats in mind. This is for the 2020 Refind show in June and July, until August for the GMAEC in Cedaredge Colorado TOP OF SEASONS OF ASPEN BOXTOP OF SEASONS OF ASPEN BOXShowing two sides of box and top. The other two sides are summer and spring.GMAEC Refine show and sale June through August , 2020 HIGH DESERT SHADOW BOXHIGH DESERT SHADOW BOXWooden shadowbox painted with acrylic paints. 13x17x4 is available online at the REFIND online art show for the Grand Mesa Arts and Entertainment Center. Find them on Facebook or on-line.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) author barbara torke book launching Don Benjamin GMAEC re-found art Thu, 09 Jul 2020 21:04:41 GMT
I have Pandemic fatigue. How about you? This spring has gone by as usual Colorado springs go. Oops. I wake up and summer is here. Grasshoppers, warm weather, and pandemic. I wish the pandemic was a season. But it's not, and I am learning solitude, mindfulness, and developing somewhat creative ways to communicate I can. It isn't all bad. It's good for us to have to create, even if we fight it, as we creatives sometimes do. If being an artist were that easy, then everyone would be one. Right?

I've made masks for Hospice. I'm finishing up the Grand Mesa Arts and Entertainment Center's contribution. Some samples can be be seen at the bottom of the Recent art folder. There is the newest Clementine book, working title the Beachcombers. I love all the projects. Then there's the yard. 

The newest project is classes through Zoom. What fun that is going to be. I'll keep you posted if you're interested. The topics will vary, depending on student desires, and the seat-of-the-pants way new learning curves go. Mostly easy composition skills, and value.

My latest work is for, and from the internal workings of the hidden brush. Self-Portrait.



Cats After Klimt: The Kiss - prototype for the chair, GMAEC

THE KISS CATS AFTER KLIMTTHE KISS CATS AFTER KLIMTGustav Klimt is so rich and decorative in his style. It is so much fun it put cats in the lover's place.

And last 'Bronze Aspen' - one of those tailings from the end of a painting session.




[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art Barbara Torke creative Klimt self-portrait Sun, 24 May 2020 20:45:00 GMT
Welcoming spring What else can we do? Looking forward to mounds of daffodils and hopefully apple  blossoms. Spring is almost behind me.

Great news. Kyle and my second book is available, Hiking the Grand Mesa is another Clementine adventure. This adventure is in the dobies at the foot of the Grand Mesa, and beyond. Geared for the young, 5-8 year-old's, it follows the adventures of Clem, the  rescue dog, and her boys as they climb through the adobe hills and the Grand Mesa. Hiking the Grand Mesa is available at Amazon, or at LovingHealingPress.  Our publisher, Victor Volkman, is terrific to work with. Kyle, as always, is my super Son, and the adorable Clem and her adorable boys, make it fun to illustrate their adventures.  Enjoy. 



CLEMENTINE: HIKING THE GRAND MESACLEMENTINE: HIKING THE GRAND MESAthe back cover of Hiking the Grand Mesa. It includes information of the book and other details. With the uncertainty of our planet's health, and ours, I have been painting to the interior. 'The Kiss' is a loose reference to Gustav Klimt, as will be the Reinventions for the Grand Mesa Art and Entertainment Center here in Cedaredge. Hopefully I'll have photos to share of my contributions soon. 

THE KISSTHE KISSAN ABSTRACT STUDY OF ACRYLIC, USING TEXTURE AND LAYERS Until then, stay safe. Create. Remember, Isaac Newton was discovering gravity while staying at home during the Spanish Flu epidemic. So go ahead. Create and discover.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) barbara torke book children's book create hiking the grand mesa illustrations kyle torke loving healing press victor volkman Sun, 17 May 2020 19:41:22 GMT
Have a great 2020 I ignored my goals in 2019. I did not post weekly. Or even monthly. I have no excuses. I just didn't get to it. I painted. I exhibited at the Apple Shed and the Creamery. I painted plein aire. I painted watercolor and pastel. I illustrated another children's book to go to press in February, 2020. Acrylic was fun to explore a little, and yet the website I ignored.

To be honest it may have to do with the political climate, which I  find disturbing. I don't want to offend anyone so I say little here. I tend to stay close to people with common attitudes. I am a voter of the issues. All of my issues; education, women's rights, health and social fairness, have crumbled or been buried  I don't believe the things I see written. How can we have so little respect for others?  Perhaps I should paint political issues. Perhaps I should state my beliefs in crusading fiery large oils and collage. Yet I love the landscape. I treasure snow and water. I feel the soft tangible love of pets, dogs, cats and horses. 

I will try harder. I will make an effort to say something of value. I love it when people say they like my work, the dogs and people make them smile. I want to paint something that makes them feel. I want to paint something that makes people try. What? Try to be better. Try to love more. Try to imagine and achieve. Try to make this world better for everyone.  Too philosophic? Maybe. I'll try to show how even the pine and the spruce can love each other. Tristan and Isolde


I'll try to accept challenges such as Creek Running Hard, pastel


CREEK RUNNING HARDCREEK RUNNING HARD I'll try to set goals that are positive. Prairie Dogs from Clementine in the Dobies, watercolors, goes to print soon. Another one is in the works for the third Clementine book from Kyle Torke and myself. He writes, I illustrate.. 

PRAIRIE DOGSPRAIRIE DOGS LovingHealingPress is the publisher.

Whatever happens in 2020, I refuse to look at a glass half empty. Lets go for adding joy and enthusiasm for truth and justice in any way we can. Join me?

Happy 2020


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) 2020 goals illustrations LovingHealingPress Fri, 17 Jan 2020 21:03:45 GMT
Happy holidays and a Grand 2020 Santa is holed up in Florida now, in a hammock with a tiny rum and coke. His red sandals have bells on the heels and his toes twinkle with glitter. 

The reindeer are back on the tundra telling whoppers about where they flew, and their run-ins with satellites and drones. They're whinging because Rudolf got them lost over Bermuda and Blitzen found a penguin in Antartica he wanted to bring home.

I'm settling into my desk chair and skipping my way through ideas and projects. What to do first? So here goes. I hope your holidays are great and your new year exactly what works for you.


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) 2020 art Christmas Santa Claus watercolor Wed, 25 Dec 2019 23:59:04 GMT
Ice Breaking is available This is a good time to buy "Ice Breaking" for that young person on your list, The adventures of Clementine and her boys is available at the Apple Shed and Stacey's on Main in Cedaredge, Maggie's Books in Montrose, and as well as LovingHealing Press at . Story by Kyle Torke, Illustrations by Barbara Torke. Snow, fun and adventure. Enjoy. FRONT COVER OF ICE BREAKINGFRONT COVER OF ICE BREAKING

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) adventure art dog Ice Breaking illustrations Kyle Torke painting watercolors Sat, 08 Dec 2018 23:52:39 GMT
EVENTS OF AUGUST Living the Life Show is down. The current show at the Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center features Arleta Pech. .She is an amazing still-life painter in the Baroque style. Her opening is Saturday the 18th of August from 5-7. I hope you can drop by and see her showing in the Starr Family Gallery.

Young artists participated in the acrylic painting class at the Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center on August 15. What great fun we had painting fantastic creatures. What great kids, and so involved in their art. I was honored to be their instructor. Maryellen is finishing up in Cedaredge and soon to be on her way to Florida. A final yard sale this next week Friday Aug. 24 8-2, and Sat. 9-noon. She is getting rid of everything. Lots of great buys, since everything must go. 180 NE 4th St. Unit A, Cedaredge. Don't forget us. I won't forget her.

This year has been, so far, a year of beginnings and endings. The art center is a great addition to our little town, and blossoming increasingly. Maryellen leaves to continue her art in Florida, ending a twenty year friendship and business history that was great fun. Bittersweet, this passing of an era. I'll miss her.

The drought makes gardening a past activity. Being a farm girl makes this a hard one to let go. I guess I'll just paint cabbages.

New friends and activities are keeping me busy. I've been working on acrylic painting. I have books to illustrate.

Oh rats, I'm nostalgic.


a couple of my acrylics, and get on with the next adventure. 


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) acrylic paintings Arleta Pech art Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center Maryellen Miller teaching Fri, 17 Aug 2018 00:03:33 GMT
Art Forum Wednesday August 8, 3-4:30 pm From the Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center, a note from Deborah.

Please join us for the first in a series of Art Forums. We will be closing each gallery show with a conversation with the artists. We will cover art principles, design, process, techniques and some art  history. It will be an open format with lively discussion. Look forward to seeing you!!!


Daphna and I will be discussing the process that became these particular  four sculptures and paintings. We welcome all questions. We welcome all feedback. Since she is a three-dimensional artist (sculptor), and I am a two-dimensional artist (painter), we will try to relate the process to either area. It should be interesting. Daphna and I have discussed art before, and we both have lots to say. I'm expecting an insightful and thought-provoking event.

please reply to [email protected] if you are attending. It is by invitation. Hope to see you there.


Angel with a Harp by Daphna Russell (porcelein) PEACOCKS EYEPEACOCKS EYEMixed media on canvas with oil paints Peacock's Eye by Barbara Torke (mixed media)

Sunday at the Lake by Barbara Torke (pastel)    Water Horse by Daphna Russell (sculpture)

SUNDAY AT THE LAKESUNDAY AT THE LAKEIn the 1920s Jackson Lake was a great place for a Sunday picnic

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art history art show Cedaredge discussion forum Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center Mon, 06 Aug 2018 22:25:32 GMT

With the retrospective show and opening of the new center, change surrounds me. It is so exciting to have the Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center blooming. Main Street, Cedaredge, is hopping. There are new (and fairly new) galleries, restaurants, coffee shops and bustling activity on Grand Mesa Drive and Main Street. 

I'm thrilled to be a little part of it, as I show a cross-section of my work from the past, and a touch of the new. Plus, there is a hiccup of the past as I teach kids about art - again. That happens this next week. Then Daphna Russell and I will do a Forum on creating art. We each have our own way of approaching a piece. It will be an interesting glimpse into the artist's mind. More info to come.

The Center has concerts, party bookings, classes in art for kids, yoga, dance, song writing and a broad spectrum of community activities. I missed a bunch, so check out their website

It is poignant, this change. MaryEllen Miller is leaving this fall for Florida. Next week she'll be selling art supplies and equipment that she can't take back with her. She has some beautiful paintings, too. If you need art supplies and are in the area, check out my website for more information. The moving sale is July 20-21. I will miss her, again. 




MaryEllen Miller - Collage Trees



It has made me restless. What do I do Next? Maybe I'm supposed to quit painting at my age? How many paintings do I have left in me? 100? A 1000?

Since I have projects lined up for quite a while, there is no way I'll retire. But I might start doing some different art. It always happens that I decide to get rid of some medium - and by the time I get it in the box I decide to do more - of whatever. I boxed up acrylics last month. Oops.

I have lots of art I've not framed, or marketed, or shown. I go through it occasionally and discard, or more likely, rearrange. I go back and re-work pieces. I worry about my kids having to deal with this stash, but recently I've decided they will have to. I'm not ready to delete all my work - yet. 

Here are two new pieces. 


'Horny Toad' a possible watercolor for one of two illustrating projects HORNY TOADHORNY TOADpossible illustration for a new book I'm illustrating

'Cat Tails' Acrylic and collage

CAT TAILSCAT TAILScollage and acrylic 18 x 14

Everything changes.

Nothing stays the same.

We only have today. Tomorrow never gets to be anything but today, and yesterday is over. So with that I'm off to explore the next painting I'll do, and the next, and the next.

You, too, take today and make Art. 


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) acrylic art barbara torke Cedaredge change Grand Messa Arts and Events Center MaryEllen Miller retrospective Fri, 13 Jul 2018 22:50:26 GMT
Opening Reception for Living the Life Living the Life

Saturday Evening, June 23, at 6 P.M. there will be an Artist's Reception at the Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center at 195 W. Main Street in Cedaredge, Colorado, for Barbara Torke and Daphna Russell. Their show Living the Life, will be at the new Art Center through July. They are honored to have this opportunity, and the community is so lucky to have this new venue. A gorgeous  job of restoring and transforming the building. It is truly a treasure.

The reception is by invitation. Please respond to [email protected] if you plan to attend. I will put you on the list. I will also have the list if you forget. Otherwise - print out the card. I really hope to see you there.

June 23, 

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art artist barbara torke career cedaredge composition daphna russell gmaec painting pastel Sun, 17 Jun 2018 23:52:56 GMT
Daphna Russell and Barbara Torke at the GMAEC Daphna and I will be at the Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center from June 15 through July for our show Living the Life. We hope you can come to the events surrounding the show

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) and art arts barbara torke cedaredge center' colorado daphna events grand grand opening living the life mesa russell' ssculpture Sun, 10 Jun 2018 15:04:22 GMT
Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center Grand Opening

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art barbara torke cedaredge daphna russell grand mesas arts and events center music opening sculpture Sun, 10 Jun 2018 14:50:54 GMT
A Painting a Day A month of skiesA month of skiescontrails and currents over the ridge. Pastel 6x9 In January I painted a sky a day. It was from an idea in Pastel Journal. What a great idea. In February I did a bird a day. March got out of hand but I did quite a few trees. When I get back from Italy I will try another month idea. 

Painting a little every day - even if it is a short study, or a small ATC card (artist trading card at 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 .) it is amazing at the difference it makes in skills, confidence, technique and most of all, pleasure. Try it. Pick a subject, medium, idea, project and do a piece every day. It is habit forming and inspiring.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art challenge painting pastel skies Wed, 25 Apr 2018 20:15:00 GMT
Ice Breaking is available Ice Breaking is the children's book Kyle Torke and Barbara Torke have, written, illustrated and published. This collaboration is being published, by Loving Healing Press, and is available in hardcover and soft-cover from Amazon. 

we're really excited by the way the book turned out, and feel we have a publisher who wants the best for kids and their support systems. I couldn't be happier. 


Please check out the latest posts on the other sites.            with a picture!       catch up with what they're up to

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Wed, 18 Apr 2018 20:01:27 GMT
Happy New Year We have a new year. A new season like none before. Let’s start the year with good intentions,

or resolutions, and keep on making good art, good friends and positive additions to the world with our own talents, and strengths. BARN IN LATE LIGHTBARN IN LATE LIGHTstudy of light on an old New Mexico barn

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Sun, 14 Jan 2018 14:00:54 GMT
Santa's New-fangled Christmas 9 Yes. As you know, it worked out all right.

Mrs. Claus gave Santa some ear buds to listen to the GPS directions, so Rudolf never knew he was being helped. Mrs. Claus also made chicken gingerbread soup for Donner and he perked right up and hurried to the sleigh. 

She recorded GORT and promised Cupid when he got back he could have popcorn, too. 

She did get a little worried when Santa came home very late.

It seems when Mr. Carbuncle and his son Wally crept down to the living room as the sun came up, Santa was still there. It was almost noon before Wally got his presents.

And Santa had still not figured out a use of Wally's new fidget spinner. He drove home very relaxed in the bright snow and sun. 5. WHAT DOES IT  DO ?5. WHAT DOES IT DO ?

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) christmas fidget spinner merry christmas reindeer santa Tue, 26 Dec 2017 00:15:00 GMT
Santa's New-fangled Christmas 8 Santa rushed through the workroom. The new robot was putting the last packages in the sleigh. The elves had nothing to do. Santa thought he'd better think about that a little when he got back - if he ever started his trip. AN ELF ON A ROOMBAAN ELF ON A ROOMBA

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) christmas christmas eve elves presents robot santa Mon, 25 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT
Santa's New-fangled Christmas 7 Then, it was Christmas Eve. 

Cupid wouldn't fly.

He was not going to miss the last episode of GORT. (GameOf Reindeer Thrones.)



[email protected] (Barbara Torke) christmas cupid reindeer santa tv Sat, 23 Dec 2017 23:15:00 GMT
Santa's New-fangled Christmas 6 "What next?" Santa groaned. 

There it was. A very official notice from the Government calling for transparency.

But, Mrs. Claus found an old document stating that Santa could do darn well do what he liked. It was signed by Peter the Great.

So Santa didn't worry anymore.



[email protected] (Barbara Torke) antlers christmas female reindeer santa transparency Fri, 22 Dec 2017 23:15:00 GMT
Santa's New-fangled Christmas 5 Rudolf was still feeling left out. Every morning he was right there 

at Santa's pillow. Santa remembered having a dog that licked him in the face every morning. 6. AND YOU HAVE A DOG ?6. AND YOU HAVE A DOG ?Wake up, Santa.

That was nothing compared to a wet, snotty, reindeer nose!

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) christmas reindeer rudolf santa snotty nose Thu, 21 Dec 2017 23:00:00 GMT
Santa's New-fangled Christmas 4 Blitzen was unhappy with Donner. "He forgot to get his flu shot. And..."


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) blitzen christmas donner flu reindeer santa sick Wed, 20 Dec 2017 22:45:00 GMT
Santa's New-fangled Christmas 3  

Rudolf felt un-needed, of course.

Santa hid his GPS in his pocket.

But that Rudolf had his nose out of joint 2. RUDOLF'S JEALOUS _20171210_0001 copy2. RUDOLF'S JEALOUS _20171210_0001 copy was the least of his problems. With Christmas one day away, Blitzen came tattling. 

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) christmas gps rudolf santa Tue, 19 Dec 2017 22:45:00 GMT
Santa's new-fangled Christmas 2 Santa began to worry. He couldn't remember all the addresses he had to deliver presents to in Cincinnati. 

Santa grumbled. He hemmed and hawed. After a few weeks of brain games he remembered Cincinnati, but had forgotten Little Rock.

Mrs. Claus gave him a new phone with a GPS.


Rudolf was not happy about that.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) brain brain games christmas forgetfulness games luminosity santa Mon, 18 Dec 2017 22:30:00 GMT
Santa's New-fangled Christmas Santa was feeling poorly this summer so he went to his doctor. Dr. North recommended exercise and smaller portions.

Santa took his doctor's advice very seriously. He wore out the reindeer practicing his driving. He wore out the elves wanting more and more toys. Finally Mrs. Claus baked him two dozen chocolate chip cookies, three dozen frosted gingerbread cookies and a suite of fruit cakes.



[email protected] (Barbara Torke) christmas elves gym health reindeer santa Sun, 17 Dec 2017 22:05:12 GMT


A promise is a promise, and I promised we'd go on a plein aire trip this year. Finally it came together in middle November. We stayed at the Adventure inn in Moab - my favorite motel in Moab, and painted for three days. The weather was perfect - until the wind came up the last day. Everyone worked hard and created lively and great paintings. We had a ball, ate a lot of good food, and saw the sites.

Arches National Monument is one of my favorites. We spent the day there; in the morning at Double Arches, and in the afternoon at Balanced Rock.

Balanced Rock is one of my favorite land forms to paint. I've done it before and I never tire of its grace and endurance. 

Following  are photos of the painters at work, and some of my balanced rock paintings. TERESSATERESSA Teressa Carlton


BARBARA ALLENBARBARA ALLEN Barbara Allen AMY _6485AMY _6485 Amy Daniels


BALANCED ROCK IN THE SNOWBALANCED ROCK IN THE SNOWBalanced Rock in a snow storm. You never know what the weather will be when painting plein aire Balanced Rock in the Snow

Balanced Rock fugueBalanced Rock fugue

Balanced Rock- fugue setting


BALANCED ROCKBALANCED ROCKPainted in pastel in three values. Light orange, medium blue, and dark navy. Arches National Monument The assignment was to use three pastels  (plus colored paper) to create a composition. Light, middle and dark values. A challenge but I had fun teaching it - and doing it. Atmospheric conditions let us see the La Sals behind the rock.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) arches national monument art moab painting pastel plein aire rock formations rocks utah Fri, 01 Dec 2017 00:30:00 GMT
FROGGY WENT A COURTING AND HE DID RIDE 3. “O Miss Mousie are you within?”




“O Miss Mousie are you within?”

“I just sat down to weave and spin.”





4. He took Miss Mousie on his knee




He took Miss mouse on his knee

He said “Miss Mousie will you marry me?”



uh-huh uh-huh-uh-huh







5. “Without my Uncle Rat’s consent”




“Without my Uncle Rat’s consent

I would not marry the President.”



uh-huh  uh-huh huh-huh



6. Uncle Rat laughed till he bust his side




Uncle Rat laughed till he bust his side

To think his niece would be a bride



uh-huh uh-huh-uh-huh




7. Where shall the wedding supper be? 




Where shall the wedding supper be? 

Way down yonder in a hollow tree,



uh-huh uh-huh-uh-huh



8. The first guest was a bumble bee



The first guest was a bumble bee

who played her fiddle on her knee



uh-huh uh-huh-uh-huh



9. The second guest was a purple moth



The second guest was a purple moth

She spread out the table cloth




10. Third guest was the black and white cow




Third guest was the black and white cow

She tried to dance but she didn’t know how



uh-huh uh-huh-uh-huh



11. The next guest was a big grey cat




The next guest was a big gray cat

The party didn’t last long after that



uh-huh uh-huh-uh-huh



12. There’s bread and jam upon the shelf




There’s bread and jam upon the shelf

If you want any more you can sing it yourself



uh-huh uh-huh-uh-huh



[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art folksong froggy went a courting illustrated play silly tombow pens Fri, 24 Nov 2017 00:04:15 GMT



Sword and Pistol by his side.


mm- hmm


Rode up to Miss Mousie's Door




Rode up to Miss Mousie's door, 

Said "Miss Mousie, been here before

um hmm, um hmm

um hmm, hmm

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) folk song froggie went a-courting illustrated silly Sun, 29 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT
Is it Mother's Day yet? It isn't that things haven't been happening in my part of the world. Nothing drastic, just time consuming, and complicated. I will try to get back into the blog business. I have all kinds of tips and ideas to share.

My quote of the day is from M.C. Escher:

"We adore chaos because we love to create order."

I can create chaos. Order is another order...

This spring and summer have been busy with projects. One was to make progress with a deal I have with my son, Kyle Torke, a writer, professor and poet, to illustrate the children's book he wrote. Another was to do all new watercolors for my 2018 calendar. Still not busy enough we did a little traveling. Several of the Eighth Tribe went to Alburquerque for the international Association of Pastel Artists.

The Eighth Tribe are showing their art  again:

BARBARA ALLEN BOAT_1667BARBARA ALLEN BOAT_1667 "Red Boat" by Barbara Allen

The Eighth Tribe, my artist friends and I, are showing at the Gunnison Gallery in Gunnison, Colorado through November. Anne Michel is the owner-artist of the gallery. Her enthusiasm and support are inspiring, and greatly appreciated. The opening is on the First Friday Walk, November 3, 2018, in the afternoon and early evening. I believe 5-8. A section of the tribe will be in attendance. If there is any way you can get there, please do join us. There's music as well. More information at

124 N. Main Street
Gunnison, CO 81230

CAROL ANN_6193CAROL ANN_6193  "Yellow Poppies" Carol Ann Rasmussen



"Pawnee Buttes" Laurae Fortner Welch



"School's Out" Lindy Palmer



 "Thistle" Maryellen Miller

See you there.

Thanks for reading - and looking





[email protected] (Barbara Torke) amy daniels art barbara allen barbara torke carol ann rasmussen eighth tribe gunnison gallery laurae fortner welch lindy palmer maryellen miller painting pastel Mon, 23 Oct 2017 23:30:00 GMT
2017 So much to do. So far to go. Even as I write this I realize I am behind in writing this blog, and might always be so. I am best at keeping caught up at Facebook, Barbara Torke Art, (I can post from my phone in a quick heartbeat). I am next best at (tips and art suggestions and information), and on to (which is art of students and friends who show and work with me) and my poetry blog (sometimes with art, but mostly my second love - the written word). 

This website has more paintings and more information. You can buy prints here. You can find my history here in art work. You can get in touch with me here (which I enjoy immensely). I love to share. I want you to enjoy my work.

My art is not all kittens and warm puppies. Hidden below the surface is a real desire to keep our planet alive, and our society healthy - emotionally and physically. Does it show? I'm not sure. Look for it, though. It's subtle.

I don't want to go back to the traditional painting of the fifties (my 1950s), or the abstractions of the sixties - or anything between. You are welcome to join me on this journey. Maybe - little by little - We'll figure it out. 

Let's fight the good fight.

45. COLLAGE LAWRENCE FERENGHETTI QUOTES00245. COLLAGE LAWRENCE FERENGHETTI QUOTEScollage with references to artist Lawrence Ferenghetti

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art ideology links Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:10:19 GMT
The Twelve Days of Christmas.-12 On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Twelve Drummers Drumming. The red headed woodpecker I remember as a kid. Not a lot of them but there they were, like that toothpick picker. Now the red-headed woodpecker is focused in the woodlands of the Tennessee area, or the middle Appalachian area. They are struggling like the rest of the bird species. A moment for a plea to take care of our planet. The Downy, the Pilated. We see these more, and the Flicker. If you've ever had one try to get to the inside of the metal sheeting on your roof or in the eaves, you know they are real drummers.

My true love marched to a different drummer, not the little drummer boy, or other drummers we know, but these red-headed woodpeckers, who are my favorite.

On the Twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me;

Twelve drummers drumming,

12 DRUMMERS DRUMMING12 DRUMMERS DRUMMINGnumber 12 of the 12 days of Christmas Eleven pipers piping,

11 PIPERS PIPING11 PIPERS PIPINGeleventh of the twelve days of Christmas Ten lords a leaping,

10. TEN LORDS A-LEAPING10. TEN LORDS A-LEAPING Nine ladies dancing,


8. EIGHT MAIDS A- MILKING8. EIGHT MAIDS A- MILKING Seven swans a swimming,






2.TWO TURTLE DOVES2.TWO TURTLE DOVES And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.


The End 

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Christmas birds days illustrations partridge pear twelve Fri, 06 Jan 2017 00:30:00 GMT
The Twelve Days of Christmas 11 ON the Eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me;

Eleven pipers piping. Of Course they are sandpipers. Although I enjoy bagpipers, they take up a lot of room, and he is keeping with the bird theme. 

Sandpipers are native of Europe, and Britain and Asia. The spotted sandpiper is the American relative. Sandpipers migrate but always live on beaches, or near water. When the sandpiper flies he flies quite low and noisily. He pipes a shrill 'twee-twee-twee' and therefore my true love gave to me

Eleven pipers piping

11 PIPERS PIPING11 PIPERS PIPINGeleventh of the twelve days of Christmas

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) 12 Christmas days sandpipers twelve Thu, 05 Jan 2017 00:45:00 GMT
The Twelve Days of Christmas -10 On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Ten lords a leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

There si a part of the twelve days of Christmas that has a theory that includes the ten lords a leaping as symbolizing the ten commandments. I would have gone for the Lords of Flatbush but there weren't ten of them. I found ten leapers, though. 10. TEN LORDS A-LEAPING10. TEN LORDS A-LEAPING

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) leaping lords the twelve days of Christmas Wed, 04 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT
Te Twelve Days of Christmas - 9 The bird theme seems to have taken a dive around day eight.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Nine ladies dancing, eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, and a partridge in a pear tree.

And just what kind of dancing did they do in the 1800s? I'm afraid my true love is going to get in trouble with the authorities.


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) dance dancing ladies nine Tue, 03 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT
The Twelve Days of Christmas - 8 The eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Eight maids a milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree. 8. EIGHT MAIDS A- MILKING8. EIGHT MAIDS A- MILKING

When I was a kid on the farm we always had a milk cow. Her name was always Bossy, and we had lots of cats to keep the mice down in the barn. there was a pan by the milk stool where my dad would send a few squirts at or on the kittens. Bossy didn't seem to mind the cats and kittens flitting around her feet. 

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) cows farm maids milk milking twelve days of Christmas Mon, 02 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT
The twelve Days of Christmas - 7 The seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Swan babies are cygnets. Swans are of the family anatidae within the genus Cygnus. Cygnus is the Greek word for swan and the name of a northern constellation. Look for it sometime. It is easy to find in summer and autumn and resembles a big bird.  7. SEVEN SWANS A- SWIMMING7. SEVEN SWANS A- SWIMMING

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) backstroke crawl pool swans swimming the twelve days of Christmas Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT
The Twelve Days of Christmas -6 On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, and a partridge in a pear tree.

My sweetie, since this is a fantasy, has been hinted at, to get the kind of geese that lay golden eggs.

I had a goose when I had a little hobby farm one time. Very little farm. I had chickens, ducks, guinea hens and peacocks. And turkeys. My turkey, Mike, went to school with me, where I taught art. More of that later maybe. I had a goose I got as a gosling. He was aptly named Goz. Goslings will imprint on whatever, or whoever, they are around the most. Goz was under my feet a lot. Some folks say geese are mean, but Goz

6. SIX GEESE A-LAYING6. SIX GEESE A-LAYING had my temperament. He was easy going and friendly.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) birds eggs geese goose the twelve days of Christmas Sat, 31 Dec 2016 00:45:00 GMT
The Twelve days of Christmas - 5 On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Five golden Rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

There is some speculation that the five rings - since there are so many birds in this song - are five ring-necked pheasants. I would be somewhat disappointed, wouldn't you? 5. FIVE GOLDEN RINGS5. FIVE GOLDEN RINGS

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Christmas Days The Twelve five golden of pheasants rings Fri, 30 Dec 2016 00:30:00 GMT
The Twelve Days o Christmas -4 The Fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree

The song originallally wasn't about calling birds. There is no such thing. However there is a collie bird in England. Collie  refers to the mining industry and the color black. So I got four blackbirds for the fourth day. I didn't get four collie dogs -  there's another bit of trivia I need to explore. 4. FOUR CALLING BIRDS4. FOUR CALLING BIRDS

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) birds calling collie twelve days of Christmas Thu, 29 Dec 2016 00:30:00 GMT
The Twelve Days of Christmas 3 The third day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

The Faverolles chicken is a French breed of chicken. They are quite handsome and are exhibition chickens in the UK as well as for meat and eggs. I don't think they would like my three French Hens. 3. THREE FRENCH HENS3. THREE FRENCH HENS

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) 12 days of Christmas chickens hens three French hens Wed, 28 Dec 2016 00:15:00 GMT
The Twelve Days ofChristmas 2 The second day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 

Two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

I learned that we don't have turtle doves in the US. They are a British and European bird. We do have mourning doves, which my father called rain crows. He did this because they would coo before it rained, telling us the weather would change. 

They have nothing to do with turtles either. The name turtle is a distortion of their name of turtur referring to the sound they make. Fascinating, what picking up a song that wont stop playing in your head will do. 2.TWO TURTLE DOVES2.TWO TURTLE DOVES  


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) turtle doves twelve days of Christmas Tue, 27 Dec 2016 03:00:00 GMT
The Twelve Days of Christmas. I learned a week or so ago that the Twelve Days of Christmas are a tradition from the past that start on the twenty-fifth and end at Advent. this worked for me since I'm a Christmas procrastinator and loved the idea of doing some funny and pun-ny cartoons - or illustrations of this Christmas ditty. The Twelve Days of Christmas is a song that sticks in your head. A kind of ear worm if you like. 

One the First day of Christmas y true love gave to me:

a partridge ina pear tree.

First of all partridges are ground birds. But that's okay. 1. PARTRIDGE  IN A PEAR TREE1. PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) 12. Christmas partridge pear tree song the twelve days of Christmas Mon, 26 Dec 2016 23:35:05 GMT
Summer in the Mountains of Colorado BEE ON ALPINE SUNFLOWERSBEE ON ALPINE SUNFLOWERSphotograph of alpine sunflower on the Grand Mesa I am an artist. A painter, specifically. I love the out of doors, ultimately -painting plein aire, walking, hiking, and photographing for the months I dip into my grab-bag of favorite photos to paint what makes me happy.

FIREWEED GRAND MESAFIREWEED GRAND MESAfireweed is the first plant to come when fire has claimed forest acres. Its magenta color and smoky seedpods will remain for many years after the blaze

I don't consider myself a photographer, but I am a sorter, collector and procurer of images. I don't paint many flowers but I love to get down in the grasses and photograph them. Bees and all. These are some of my favorites. They are labeled in my Recent Work Folder (soon to be Wildflower Photos folder) 

SUNSPOTS SUNFLOWERSSUNSPOTS SUNFLOWERSsunspots are one name. They are sunflowers on the Colorado mountain-side   This is the site I go to for yellow Colorado flowers, otherwise known to me as another damn yellow wildflower. CLARET CUPCLARET CUPthe exotic claret cup is a spring beauty along the cliff walls in southern Utah and Colorado among other places This is my favorite cactus bloom, Of course, who wouldn't love its rich red color . PRIMROSEPRIMROSEEvening primrose is a white tissue waving in the sun. It doesn't come every year so it is a special flower of the southwest. Evening Primrose will miss whole years. Then suddenly some spring the roadside is covered with the flutter of white tissue. 

HAREBELLSHAREBELLSHarebells usually seem shy and lonely, but the Grand Mesa, they are jubilant and showy

Harebells have been all over Land's End on the Grand Mesa this year. Actually the wildflowers have been the best ever.

Enjoy more of the wildflowers in the Wildflower Photo folder.


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Evening primrose claret cup fireweed harebells photography sunflower wildflowers Wed, 31 Aug 2016 20:02:38 GMT
The Next Three Months CARD FOR SHOWCARD FOR SHOWCard for the Eighth Tribe Show at the Apple Shed, Cedaredge Colorado. Eleven Local and Regional artists and students with Barbara Torke show at the gallery. August 13th The Eighth Tribe will have the reception for their display at the Apple Shed Gallery in Cedaredge, Colorado, on August 13th from 2-5.

We will be there until the end of October. The members showing this year are:

Barbara Allen, Teressa Carlton, Amy Daniels, Pat de l' Etoile, Cathy Folkerth, Laurae Fortner Welch,  MaryEllen Miller, Linda Palmer, Carol Ann Rasmussen, Karen Sinclair, and Barbara Torke.

These amazing artists are teachers, professionals, and  students. Come see their remarkable work.

The paintings are from right to left:

The Bravest Dog  by Barbara Torke-pastel

Indian Paintbrush with boots, by Laurae Fortner Welch-pastel

After the Storm, by Karen Sinclair-pastel

Glorious Sunflowers, by Carol Ann Rasmussen-alcohol ink

second row:

Red Boat, by Barbara Allen-pastel

Chihuili Glass at Denver Botanic Gardens, by Amy Daniels-pastel

Orbs, by MaryEllen Miller-acrylic

third row:

Stream, by Pat de l' Etoile - pastel

Running in green water, by Linda Palmer-watercolor

TLC, by Teressa Carlton-stained glass

I actually am not sure of the titles. I hope the tribe will forgive me. I want viewers to be able to identify them. 


Barb Torke




[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Cedaredge Colorado Eighth Tribe acrylic art art show exhibit pastel professionals show students Sun, 07 Aug 2016 21:19:20 GMT
The Apple Shed SUNDOGSUNDOGwatercolor painting of a sunny day and a sun loving dog Summer at the Apple Shed in Cedaredge, Colorado, is always busy. Not only does Connie Williams run an amazing gallery, deli and clothing complex, (as well as cooking shop, garden shop, etc) the Apple Shed is home to Williams Orchards, and Dan and Ty's wine, cider, fruit, and an array of unique  - well- everything! Everything at the Apple Shed is unique. 

The Apple Shed is a destination stop whenever you are on the western side of Colorado. 

HAPPY DOGHAPPY DOGa happy dog in the back of a pickup

I have had my paintings at the Apple Shed since 1996, as a member of the Cedars Edge Gallery co-op, and then in 2005, as a commissioned artist.

Connie and Dan Williams are truly supportive to us in the art field. Being an artist herself, showing her work included, she has an eye for everything creative. It has been an honor to participate in the Apple Shed.

Coming up, in the months of August, September, and October, The Apple Shed is hosting me (Barb Torke) and the Eighth Tribe in the Heritage Room. We are honored and very busy getting ready. We hope to make the Apple She proud. And we appreciate the opportunity. 

DOWNHILLDOWNHILLpastel painting, fanciful dog story

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Apple Shed Apple Shed Cedaredge Colorado Barbara Torke Cedaredge Colorado Connie Williams art gallery painting Fri, 15 Jul 2016 23:36:30 GMT
Barbara Torke and plein aire in Gunnison  


I am showing my pastels this month (June-2016) in the Gunnison Gallery, Gunnison, Colorado. I've been planning and arranging this show for some time. Luckily Anne Michel is a gracious and very competent hostess. When I arrived with a lot of paintings, she found room for almost, if not all of them. The gallery wall looks great. Dale and I camped at the KOA, which was very nice, and were joined with another Eighth Tribe member and her husband. Thursday , Karen and I met three other Tribe members to plein aire paint.



We went to Neversink trail-head and picnic area. We had talked about plein aire a lot. Although it was not the first time painting outside for Barbara Allen and Amy, the others had gathered pieces and parts of equipment to set up. Carolann got equipment that made plein aire a lot more fun. A good easel, sturdy pastel paper, and a small or medium sized pastel box were easily acquired. A small table or chair worked well to sit or store pastels on while working. This was Karen's first time. She enthusiastically dug into the experience. Amy set up and went to work immediately and competently. Barbara was trying a new technique with a complementary underpainting. Great job.


The artists worked for three hours in the morning and another three in the afternoon. The artwork was exciting and the whole day exhilarating. They are amazing. I want to share their work but will let them finish up. Those finishing touches are a way of bringing the outside in.  rifle creekRoy 7 2013 017rifle creekplein aire on Rifle Creek at Rifle Falls, Barbara Torke

Rifle Creek at Rifle Falls plein Aire by Barbara Torke

Plein aire is good for the soul. It makes us work out problems, (the weather may be one, but that day was splendid) composition, perspective, proportion, placement (how much and how little of the total landscape, color, and value). The artist takes control of the environment on the sheet of paper. It was a lot of fun, and everyone learned a lot. You can't help but learn.  CAROLANN PLEIN AIRECAROLANN PLEIN AIRE Carolann Rasmussen

A little more plein aire is our choice. Who knows where you'll find us next - on Grand Mesa - in someone's back yard, Confluence Park, or on the highway to the orchards. Maybe in a wheat field somewhere, watching crows land, or Monet's garden.

Survivor_edited-1Survivorplein aire at Jumbo Lake Grand Mesa by Barbara Torke

Survivor at Jumbo Lake Grand Mesa plein aire by Barbara Torke

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Colorado Gunnison Gunnison River art outside painting pastel pastel painting plein aire Tue, 07 Jun 2016 22:48:11 GMT
Coming up

June 1,2016, my show 'Whimsy, Nature and 1900s family Characters' will be at the Gunnison Gallery in Gunnison, Colorado for the month of June. I'm showing all pastels, plus some prints of watercolors and some cards. A big thank you to Anne MIchel for having me as guest. I'm very excited to be there.

The opening is June 3rd from 5-8 pm. I will be painting outside for the first hour, and I hear the weather will be great.

COUSINSCOUSINSpastel painting of the three Murphy cousins, circa 1948.

On Thursday I'm doing a workshop plein aire, pastel  all day, from 9-12, and 1-3. or there-abouts.

If anyone else wants to join us give me a call at 970-210-4422 for more information. 

we will meet outside of town to paint and come into town for lunch.                                              

SUNDAY AT THE LAKESUNDAY AT THE LAKEIn the 1920s young pople spent Sunday afternoon at Jackson Lake

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Mon, 30 May 2016 00:15:03 GMT
Center of interest

The center of interest is over-rated. However, even though minimalist and a lot of current design motifs down-play the center of interest, it should probably not be ignored. For maximum impact, and we do want to make an impact somewhere, the center of interest can easily be achieved with compositional ploys or accents. Making one part of the painting slowly draw you in is an art. You need to create a path, give clues, guide the eye and make a pitch with the brush, until the viewer gets it. Aha! This is the point! This is it!

For compositional purposes I have created some basic grid transparencies. The thirds gives us an idea of keeping the important areas of the painting on the intersecting four points. The quarter grid gives us an idea of the location for a center of interest. It is a simplified Golden Mean. Overlaying the composition will give us information. Hopefully, yes, this is the area where we want to finally lead the viewer.

WARMER STILL LIFE WITH CANSWARMER STILL LIFE WITH CANSThe warmer of the two still life's with cans


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) center of interest composition focus grid Tue, 17 May 2016 22:55:10 GMT
Warm and Cool Spring brings cool weather and warm, almost at the same time. But that isn't what the artist finds in warm and cool.

The temperature of a painting can be warm or cool appearing. A color WARM AND COOL PLAY AT CONFLUENCE PARKWARM AND COOL PLAY AT CONFLUENCE PARKpastel painting playing the warm against the cool in this landscape is warm or cool, i.e. blue is cool, red is warm, but often there can be a cool red when close to a warm red. The paintings I did to show the warm and cool show that temperature is all relative. Isn't that what love is about? You are getting warmer.

The closer an object is to the viewer the warmer it is to the same colored object farther away.


WARMER STILL LIFE WITH CANSWARMER STILL LIFE WITH CANSThe warmer of the two still life's with cans LESS WARM STILL LIFE WITH CANSLESS WARM STILL LIFE WITH CANSthis is the cooler of two paintings, one using cool colors, the other warm. this is the cool. This is the same still life. One is warmer than the other. There are still warm and cool colors, and then some colors appear warmer next to their cousins. It's all relative. 

Happy paInting.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art composition cool temperature warm Tue, 03 May 2016 23:40:21 GMT
Pastel blog sites to motivate and educate Videos of Pastel Painting.  PEPPERS AND ELDERBERRYPEPPERS AND ELDERBERRYpastel still-life of vase, pepper and dried elderberries


Here are a few (probably too many) videos on Youtube of pastel painters and others, using different techniques and with different styles. Explore all the possibilities you have time for. I learned something new on each site. I hope you pick up some ideas too.

  1. This is not pastel but an abstract acrylic painter. We talk about loosening up, and we talk about finishing. Both of these items make this a fun video to watch..    Abstract acrylic painting Demo HD Video - Lilium by John Beckley


2. Debora Stewart has great style and a nice approach to composition.

Composition & Color Tips for Abstract Painting with Debora Stewart


3. This is more realistic but Jenny Keal uses some scraping and does some interesting rock forms, as well as the perspective being well worth the view.

Extract from Painting with Pastels DVD by Jenny Keal


4. Marla Bagetta does a lot of demos. When you watch any of these videos it will give you more videos of the artist on the right hand side bar. Each new video gives you more options and you can spend the day watching.

Pastel Landscape Variation Demo by Marla Baggetta


5. I have several sites for Karen Margulis here. Again, check the sidebar for more of Karen’s videos.

The Best Tool Ever for Blending Pastels     Painting My World Karen Margulis

Karen MargulisPastel Demo: A Quick Daily Painting


There you have it for now. Use these great videos for suggestions of more spots to go and learn.


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) acrylic composition painting pastel videos Sun, 03 Apr 2016 22:50:25 GMT
Writers of the Purple Page  

DARK PENSTAMENDARK PENSTAMENwildflower, a dark penstamen seen in Yankee Boy Basin outside of Ouray, Colorado

The 2015 Anthology is here. Writings by the group that meets to critique, encourage and share are now in print form.

When I'm not painting, I'm writing. That's how it has always been. Yes, writing came after teaching, and after kids. Painting has always been my 'thing', but I like to paint with words, also.

The Writers of the Purple Page include Carol McDermott, Lily 0lson, Verena McKenney, Maryellen Miller, Jean Bower and Barbara Torke, this year. It was a difficult year for many members and the sweetness and sorrow show in much of the writing. 

I always enjoy putting the book together. I use and BookWright. It's easy to use, and they are quick and of fine quality. 

This year I used my own watercolor paintings of flowers to illustrate the book.Not all of them are on my website at this time,  but I will share a few of those.

If you are interested in buying the 2015 Anthology it is available on Enjoy the fine writing of my friends and also a few of my poems and art writings. POPPIES_4648_edited-1POPPIES

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Mon, 21 Mar 2016 23:28:15 GMT
The Age of the Crone In my view in this stage, after fifty, women cannot retire. Our job is no longer wife and mother, nor maiden and girl, but now our job is to exercise, watch our weight and diet, and go to doctors. Our health is our job. We volunteer, help in the community, and pursue what delights us. We impart an image of strength and wisdom, for many people fear this stage of life. They need all the help they can get. And the crone is often the guide, the caretaker, and the support. 

DADDY'S GYPSY DETAILDADDY'S GYPSY DETAILa fantasy watercolor of a woman

Mary Green painted well into her nineties. She was an inspiration. Georgia O’Keefe is my art heroine. I hope I am an inspiration. Keeping up with technology, politics, lifestyles, a multitude of changes occurring daily, and your heartbeat -  is not for the weak. Look at the crone for what she can be, not how she is defined by those who fear the next cycle of life. Be wise. You have the power in you. All you really need to do is move on. Paint, write, act, and your message will be beautiful.

  THE CRONETHE CRONEfantasy painting of a crone, wisdom and support

1.  Derogatory An old woman considered to be ugly; a hag. 2. A woman who is venerated for experience, judgment, and wisdom. The third dictionary definition on Google. After Crohn’s disease.

2.  The crone is a stock character in folklore and fairy tale, an old woman. In some stories, she is disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing. The Crone is also an archetypal figure, a Wise Woman. As a character type, the crone shares characteristics with the hag. www.wikipedia/crone

3.   Campbell links the "helpful crone" to the fairy godmother.[5] The wicked fairy godmother          sometimes appears in the guise of a crone.

4.  The crone eludes precise definition. Some traditions, organizations, and individuals variously    define the crone as a woman who is either 50, 52, or 56, post-menopausal, consciously aging, willing to acknowledge her shadow side. Crone is a term used to describe an ancient archetype, an aspect of the triple goddess (maiden/mother/crone), and the third phase of a woman's life. When a woman is near, in, or past menopause, she is potentially a crone. The designation refers to a perspective or point of view rather than a specific age or physical event.

 A woman who calls herself crone is willing to acknowledge her age, wisdom, and power. Through conscious self-definition, she helps to reverse hundreds of years of oppression, degradation, and abuse aimed at old women. Although she may prefer to be called elder, grandmother, or wisewoman, she does not dismiss, disavow, or use pejoratively terms such as crone, witch, or hag.

The wisewoman/crone/grandmother realizes that the true meaning of these terms, and the woman-centered traditions from which they originate, have been obscured and distorted by patriarchal systems.

We teach, speak, and quietly inspire one another, all women, and all peoples who wish to embrace the totality of life.   FEATHER WOMANFEATHER WOMANwatercolor fantasy piece. i do like the crone aspect

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Sun, 13 Mar 2016 00:10:07 GMT
WHY WATERCOLOR? Why Watercolor?

by Barbara Torke

CHIMAYO MARKETCHIMAYO MARKETwatercolor of an outdoor market in New Mexico

What is it that drives the amateur, the beginner, or even the professional, to paint with watercolor? Why do we want that free wash of color to rule our thoughts and expectations? There is no easy way. Watercolor is as allusive as butterflies and fireflies. The minute you put the brush to paper it changes, transforms, drops into oblivion, pales to ghostly shadow, weeps out of the lines, adores the other side of the page. Reflects a heavy blast of color.

It is not for weaklings. It is not for the faint of heart who would control and understand watercolor’s physics, or habits, and life rules. Green does this, blue does that. Yes, viridian gobbles up the space and hugs too tightly to the paper, undoing any plan of tree or bush you had. Some blues fade and pale, others are outside of life bright and unconscionable. Alizarin fades to pale pink. The right green is a traumatic wish, nothing more. Black becomes a hole instead of a bird. 

SAMSAMwatercolor of Sam cuddled into the Jacob's colors Afghan my mother made But still we are enamored with watercolor. Our little paint boxes lure us out into plein air. Our tubes make our fingers ache to make that perfect yellow sun, blue sky, green tree. 

The Chinese, Japanese and others of the silk and paper roads have used ink and watercolor for centuries. Paper is a lot of the reason. Calligraphy and sumi are two ways watercolor appears. It wasn’t until paper became more accessible in France in the 1700s that watercolor became popular in Europe. When England colonized India the officers ladies took their watercolors and sketchbooks with them. In the US explorers in the 17 and 1800s captured their explorations with watercolor. Audubon painted birds. Why not any novice?

watercolor of chickens kpecking at the ground
Well, then, why not? Let’s say watercolor is important to you, and you want to paint with it. Then do it. Learn from watercolor teachers. They’ll teach you techniques and tricks, and it all becomes easy. Not really, but it’s a start. What makes watercolor the love of your life is continual  study, and just plain perseverance. Set paintings you do around and watch them. Sneak up on them. Find the parts of a painting you love and cut it out, admire it, love it. The thing about watercolor is that it will tell you if it doesn’t like you taking charge. You get an overworked painting that is flat. It pouts and scowls in muddy grey and those awful greens. The paper reaches through and mumbles. 

Start over. Mix colors carefully, cleanly. Tear us bad paintings and use the back to try strokes and colors. Plan ahead. Limit your palette. Draw directly on the paper and leave it alone. Save whites. Do not try to layer until you love the original base. Layering is not a correction. But mostly, just paint. You can paint in watercolor and be successful, but don’t expect it to happen in a week- or a month, or by painting once a week. Dive in and stay immersed.

CANYON SPIRITSCANYON SPIRITSa fantasy piece on the canyon walls of the desert Why watercolor? We want to paint with watercolors because it is direct. It is fresh and airy. Watercolor catches the moment. It is spontaneous and whimsical. It takes a half hour (not to count the years of practice). It is bright and fun. It also can be very controlled and layered - if you have a life time to practice. Buy good materials. Respect the paintbrushes. Use good paper. Develop your own conventions, styles and shortcuts. Read books. Go to art shows and museums. 

The reason for watercolor started with the early people when they painted their caves. The reason we love it today is much the same. We want to make a mark, leave a story, show who we are. Watercolor is joyous. It uses us to be intense and available.

THE RED COATTHE RED COATwatercolor of classmates from the 1920.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Tue, 08 Mar 2016 00:54:45 GMT
I do Art I Do Art

by Barbara Torke

    Every day I wake up, get out of bed, and do art.

    This makes my day go better. It makes me organize. It gets rid of those niggly worries awakened to at dawn or three a.m.

    For years I did Julia Cameron’s Artist Way writing. I used collegiate notebooks and filled them with page after page of thoughts, curses and  trivia. I’d wake up, get out of bed and write. When Dale came along I found this difficult. 

    I still don’t know how working people, or coupled people, keep a creative mind set going  and make a living, other than commercial 9-5 work. For me, art is multi-layered. Much of it is the illustration of observations, the capturing of moments and activities, and the investigation of emotion and materials. This I can process. This I can do. It’s the creative stuff that I find difficult. The dangerous experimentation that might frighten me - or some one else - and often does. Dale is supportive. I have learned how to seize my day. 

    The more I paint, the more I see these levels. There are times I can paint and carry on a conversation with other people at the same time. There are times I can instruct, and there are times I can ignore whatever is going on around me. But there are also times when I want to keep the whole experience private. Then amidst that, there are those times I never want to share, and those I always want to share. There is a gestation period. There is also a fermentation period. Sometimes art must ripen, other times rot. 

    When I get up and sit at my desk now, at this time in my life, I expose my day to those parts of my being at a variety of levels. I explore and jiggle a lot of my brain cells around to fall into ordinariness, or more probably - reality. 

    Writing journal pages, I found I could never re-read (bad penmanship - incomplete thought sequences) when I returned to it later. I know I had some ideas I wanted to pursue, but often couldn’t find them - or read them -or understand them. I also took a quick look at the possibility of someone finding  these incomplete and sometimes nasty, boring pages and saying OMG. 

REGALREGALTombow pens drawing on Robert Bateman sketchbook. Regal watercololor marker 10"x8"

have changed the Artist’s Way of journaling to a less internal, less angry, more accepting style. The visceral is sometimes still dark and slimy but less abrasive. All writing and painting is open to interpretation. In fact, everything I put out into the world (including the way I dress, speak, stand, communicate) is open to interpretation. Not one person in the world will understand me in the same way as any one other person in the world will. I am a part of this ungodly awkward group of people known as humanity - and of every other animal, object, plant and piece of gravel in it. Including stardust. Poetry, painting, collage present flashes of my persona. 

    There’s not that hidden elusive ‘’What is she thinking?” element. 

    The only person I can truly be guaranteed to please, then, is myself.

    I get up in the morning, brush my teeth, and sit down at my desk. And do art.

    I do a drawing with markers, pen, pencil, or paint.

    I write a poem, a short essay, or a saying.

    I cut apart, or use objects i’ve found, or that matter to me, and make a small collage.

    Sometimes I do a very small pastel (an Artist Trading Card size  - 2.5 x 3.5 inches)

    Every Day. Sometimes twice. 

    Some days it takes an hour. Sometimes two. Sometimes 20 minutes. 

    But I do art. TAOS MOUNTAINTAOS MOUNTAINArtist Trading Card: pastel painting 2.5x3.5, on art spectrum of Taos Mountain, Taos New Mexico. Taos Mountain, pastel ATC 2.5"x3.5" 391. SPARKY391. SPARKYSparky had a hard time of it. He was a stray I adopted, Some Turkish van in his heritage. He lost an eye due to an abscess, had diabetes and asthma. With shots and care he lived for a happy 12 years and was adored. 3"x5" collage. Sparky 3"x5" collage 

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art collage creativity humor pastel whimsy Wed, 24 Feb 2016 05:46:54 GMT
Part 2-Texture: Texture is in my history Texture surrounds us. I don’t like the scratchy tags of my soft fleece sweater. Some foods have the wrong texture on our tongue--like okra. And some have the right texture--like ice cream. 

In painting the painter is constantly challenged to show texture. It is truly a vital sense. Most people are very tactile. Watch mothers with babies, shoppers in the produce section, children with kittens, men with guns. Well, you get the picture.

I walked around Confluence Park searching for texture examples. My senses were bombarded. Canada geese trampled the sky. Snow geese rattled above my head. Nuthatches, mountain blue birds, sparrows trilled at many decibels. Thickets of branches encased me, marbled trunks of trees surrounded me. Leaves below and clouds above created a cacophony of texture. The wires on the hanging bridge were rough on my hands, snagging my new made-for-iphone texting gloves. Even the squirrel in the branches gave some softness to the scene. Some of the texture samples are below. I saw, felt, heard and tasted the day, a little bitey, a lot awake. I even ate an apple to even out the senses, and only thought of the taste of bark and little Russian olives. 

Childhood has its textures, too. Long slow  days filled with idle oat grass tumblings, random cat tail explosions, flights of fantastic weavings of dreams and wishes. Stormy keeps picking her way through past and pleasure, forming a tapestry both nostalgic and tightly woven.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Thu, 18 Feb 2016 22:00:00 GMT
Texture: Growing up on the eastern Colorado Plains Stormy Weather was born on a thundering, rainy night. Queen, a little Welsh-quarter horse mix, was upset by the weather, but nature has its way, and we had the filly. Queen had long white mane and tail, and Stormy had this little brush of a twig, a butch hair cut, and knobby knees. Queen was my sister Sallie’s and my pony, that we rode around the farm, up to the lake, to the post office, down to the Platte River, and to visit our friends. Sallie is seven years older than I, and by the time I was ten she didn’t ride anywhere on a horse.  She could drive, date, all that good stuff. By the time Stormy was two years old Sallie was ready to trade  my white Easter gloves for Stormy’s front end. I figured I was lucky to get the rear end in the first place.

    Stormy took the place of Queen as soon as she was broken. I’ll admit she was never well broken, but she was mine, and I loved her soft nose, and the way she blew onto my hands. Her back was broad and cushiony (fat in vet-speak.) There is nothing that is as silky as a pony’s muzzle. Her hooves were hard and smooth, sharp little hatchets to the careless. Some horses are rougher to the touch, bony and lumpy to ride, and they have poky long whiskers on their nose. Queen was long haired and old, very old in horse years. When I looked deep into Queens brown eyes, I could see an oval pupil, deep and dark, surrounded by a fringe of iris—the texture of velvet, a pool of horse-secrets.

    We always rode bareback.This gives a lot of emphasis to the feel of soft horse hair, coarse mane, jeans under the sandpapery bridle rein. Wearing jeans, every twilled thread created hot and scratchy texture against my skin. My dad feared us catching a foot in a stirrup, and being dragged to death. Saddles are hard anyway, but how could I become a real cowboy without tooled leather under my jeans? Actually I had some spectacular falls. Queen was notorious for throwing anyone over eight years old. Then she’d stop, her hoof very close to my body, and blow around the clumps of grass she chewed to show she didn’t care. I knew she did. If she had wanted to leave, all she had to do was hold her head to the side and split. She did that a lot, too.

    Stormy and I spent many hours together. I hated housework, wanted to be outside, so I brought the milk cow home from the pasture every day.  I fed calves from a galvanized milk bucket. Feel that seashell rough metal? It was my job to ride to the Post Office, a mile away, for the mail. No out door job was beneath me.  I shelled corn, hard field corn had to be thumbed off the ear for the pigs and chickens. Papery lips around the kernels were rough and dry. I even caught and dealt with the Sunday dinner rooster.

    Along the ditch banks, beside the Platte, were wonderful moments for my friends and me. Lazy times I’d lay back on Stormy’s rump and watch the clouds as she ambled. Mostly though I sat, legs dangling as she kicked the dry leaves aside and we rattled along the autumn-laced lane. Splashing cold water on my face I saw the dimples of  drops on the creek, and felt the deceptive silkiness of the moss, like a mermaid’s hair, in the seep ditch as she drank. It was soft and curvy, as it floated towards the South Platte River with a gentle farewell wave. Bark of cottonwood rubbed against my jeans, when I’d take a break from the sun and lean against a tree to smoke a candy cigarette. As we wandered by the river old dead trees created decks my friends and I lounged on. They were smooth and silver, with an occasional prickle where a twig had been. 

    I reached down and touched fence post wood, weathered and grooved, as we rambled, caught the cotton in my hands, felt the rough shells of milkweed pods, the smooth grid of the pheasant’s feather.

...Part two in the next installment


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) filly horse horses nostalgia texture the fifties touch Tue, 16 Feb 2016 21:34:13 GMT
Painting Snow  

SKIING ON THE MESA SKIING ON THE MESA  I might make a mistake if I painted snow paintings to sell. I'm not sure they sell in my gallery unless there is lots of warm windows and happy Christmas cards to go, but I love to paint snow paintings. I like to snowshoe on the mesa, watch the snow sparkle like diamonds in the mesa's crown. There has been enough snow to snowshoe around our house this year. I follow deer track, see the doe with snow on her nose. It's all crisp, clears my head, makes me feel free. If I can see the snow I can do anything. It means there is water in the summer, It means the sky is clean. Color is sent through the prism of crystals and all the color is there in the white. 

Whatever we paint, some of it must please us, without any gratification other than the love of it. Enjoy what you paint. It shows. Paint on.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) crisp pastel snow white winter Fri, 05 Feb 2016 00:38:05 GMT
Re-inventing the Wheel Re-inventing the Wheel

“Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted.” This quote by Randy Pausch from his book The Last Lecture, has a lot to say about success and failure. 

How many times I’ve started an exploratory painting and in the end, didn’t have a success but learned a lot. I gained experience. 

The things I was successful at sometimes have slipped away. I can’t find that impossible color, line, or shape, that the muse dropped on my canvas the day before. To make tints with tempera paint you start with white and add a little color, then more. How do I know that? I started with blue once.

Practice does perfect skills. Repetition does ingrain good habits.Feeling badly about a failure is only the tip of the iceberg. Underneath is that healthy mass of experience that keeps you moving. Experience, fail, succeed, and continue. There is always another piece of paper. SURFACE CREEK PATHSURFACE CREEK PATHpath through creekside trees. Surface Creek, Cedaredge Colorado Make more art.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art failure practice repetition success Sat, 30 Jan 2016 20:08:42 GMT
GOINGS ON new blogsites

I am trying new blogs and you are welcome to visit. They may be shorter than here on my website. They may be different content.

both are related to art. There will be some art on the poetry site. Techniques, skills, and inspiration on the insight site.

Would love your participation. FRECKLESFRECKLESa dog in the back of a pickup truck is a happy dog. This is Freckles

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Sun, 10 Jan 2016 00:42:47 GMT

 De-cluttering life and  art with minimalism 


I am always tempted to start over on January first. This year I think it better to de-clutter some of my 76 years of accumulation. Not just of ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ but of art rules, bad solutions, cluttered work and irresponsible habits. 


When I paint I can simplify, leave space for the eye to rest, and use implied line, space, pattern - all these goals are part of the theme. The mind is happy when it gets to make its own boundaries - if any.


When I house-sat in Taos, New Mexico years ago, I met Agnes Martin, the famous minimalist painter. I sat before one of her paintings in her exhibit and watched its blue space be busy and calming inside me. There were no boundaries on how it could be interpreted. Its space and simplicity have stayed with me.


On-line I found an interesting accumulation of minimalism. One  site I recommend is . They have a podcast, books, and lots of information on de-cluttering. Not just getting rid of stuff, but by doing so making room for a better life-style. My two favorite hints were on what to do with old photos, and the minimalist game. I have no competition but am playing  the game by myself, for now. Maybe February will be a good time to start for a month long competition. The game is to get rid of, throw away, donate, or sell, one item on day one, two on day two, three on day three and so on. I am saving canning jars for the 15th day. The one who makes it the farthest is the winner. It might be hard about that 29th day. This isn’t the only suggestion. The Minimalists are a sweet spot on the internet. Check them out.


another site is I particularly liked the poem and the concepts of MA. All this makes me aware of my breath. very nice.


And art. Doing a minimalist piece is refreshing. It might just seep into a lot of my work. Want to play the minimalist game? The winner gets dinner out? Nothing? That’s how it works? Right?



[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Minimalism abstract de-cluttering insight inspiration Sun, 10 Jan 2016 00:05:56 GMT
Happy Holidays to you Wishing everyone a great holiday and a happy new Year DECEMBER CAROLLERSDECEMBER CAROLLERSchildren ride their ponies to carol to their neighbors

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) carolers happy holidays Mon, 21 Dec 2015 22:20:10 GMT
Snow Gnomes Just fooling around with the camera, the pen, and Photoshop

happy holiday season




Snow Gnomes

by btorke


From beneath the barberry bush

they rise from the domes of snow silently


Crystals in their eyelashes

a blush of cold  lights frosty cheeks


The oldest and wisest gnome of all

finger to his sparkly dome

he taps

tells the littlest gnome of all

the sky is falling 


by flake

maybe we will soon become

the snowman humans build

and make

mother sun will come too soon

so watch the sky come falling down 






[email protected] (Barbara Torke) gnomes humorous snow winter Mon, 30 Nov 2015 01:22:57 GMT
What happened to August We have camped a bit this summer. I have been remiss about this site, but not remiss about doing art. I have been painting, and have some new work posted, and more to come. We have camped in Utah twice, on the Grand Mesa once (so far), and at Ridgway. I've seen a lot of new locations. It has been exciting and inspiring. I've been selfish with my time to paint, and stubborn about keeping my hand in the process. Hopefully I will add more, and share more, as the summer winds down. I hope you enjoy the process with me, or after the fact. 

Leroux Creek is a little known secret of the Grand Mesa, with many reservoirs (lakes), and wildflowers galore this summer.

3100 Road out of Hotchkiss is a winner. LEROUX CREEK CAMPGROUND_9882LEROUX CREEK CAMPGROUND_9882

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Leroux Creek'.'Grand Mesa'.Colorado,painting,landscape pastel Sat, 12 Sep 2015 00:10:15 GMT

The sandhill cranes have been at Fruit-grower's Reservoir and gone. Spring  rain came, and came, and came. I've been to Portland to see my son and his family. His son, my grandson, Max Torke, graduated from Sonoma State University in California, and is now doing an internship with NASA. Did I mention he graduated summa cum laude with a double major in chemistry and physics? I'm so proud and happy for him. 

The biennial IAPS show in Albuquerque is over with many new ideas and materials for the pastel painter. Now we are getting ready for a show with the Apple Shed, in Cedaredge - we being my students and I - where we'll show through July and August. I also was accepted into the Colorado Pastel Society's juried show with two pieces. Wow. So much to see and do. Promises of doing more here on the website are just beginning to come together. Not much for now but lots later. Have a good summer and happy painting. I'll be around.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) cranes sandhill cranes IAPS Tue, 16 Jun 2015 00:06:10 GMT
Pattern Continued Spring finally is here. With lots of false starts and more snow than daffodils, we now can begin to acknowledge its existence.

A little more on pattern. I'll try to include some examples of pattern in some of my paintings. I hope you enjoy the art work and the delight of finding pattern everywhere.

The pattern of sagebrush, clouds and ridges carries us over the hillside. Diagonal movement is more active. A breeze surely stirs the restless brush, the turn of the hillside. There must be living creatures here.


The cat’s face is juxtaposed onto Degas’ dancer’s body. Reflections with a Fishing Net shows wave patterns, lattice patterns, reflections, symmetry, lines.





The helix climbs the cedar, a mosaic of pattern in the goblins coats, nests, meanders, polyhedra-shapes


and spirals in the shell.

Follow the fractal edges of the juxtaposed shoes as they connect.


The seeker by the river illustrates branching and circulating rhythms.


Pattern evolves as knowledge and creativity develop. Enjoy its involvement in art.


Pattern comes to us from pater, Latin for father, and shares this origin with patron, paternal, and patriarchal. The Latin patronus means defender, protector, lord, or master. What pattern shares with each of these words is the notion of a role model. A pattern presents an idea that is worthy of imitation. Indeed imitation is so essential to pattern that it can be found in every example.’

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Degas art composition exhibit exhibition helix juxtapose pastels pater pattern shoes show spiral watercolors Sun, 26 Apr 2015 20:54:18 GMT
Pattern The winter of 2014-2015 has been odd. Never cold enough to kill the tiger moths in the cedars. Warm enough to stir the bees out of their hives in early March. Cheat grass came poking through the ground, then disappeared. Today I worked outside in a sweatshirt  and jeans, tucking tumbleweeds away and poking about the cheatgrass to pull some for the cats. They love to eat the grass, and I can think of no better end to it than their little tummies. 

In the fall I looked for textures on the trail by Confluence Park. Today I can only see the bits of green and a couple of little magenta flowers. I am anxious for color. The texture includes pine needles swarming over the driveway where we cut down the nematode-infested  pine. Branches shattered and piled to the side. The sky is hazy. Farmers are burning ditches, although most finished a few weeks ago. I’m looking for the patterns that forecast spring; the ground crumbling from patterns left by snow and freezing dirt, leaf buds, apricot blooms, tulip helixes as they leaves turn to the sun, hoping for warmth. 

Pattern is the repetition, variation, juxtaposition, alternating, and over-lapping of shapes, lines, and/or colors. There are a variety of patterns in nature, and contrived, (organic and inorganic) random repetition 2251random repetition Pattern in cloud and landscape. Organic forms on the hillside random repetition 2251random repetition Pattern in cloud and landscape. Organic forms on the hillside but they all fit in this list some way or another:


mosaics or nests



spirals - helixes and volutes


branching and circulation




A pattern can also be a model or mold intended to be copied

Examples of the ten types of patterns (just listed) are easy to find in some objects. Spheres are apples, the beads in a necklace, grapes. Flat, as in line, they are circles, rings, ovals, and spheric, a nest of eggs. 

The weather this year has been a pattern of sun, a few clouds, sun, a few clouds. The pattern on my dishes is a black rim. The pattern on my sweatshirt is block lettering. The pattern on a Hawaiian shirt is - oh, well. We see patterns everywhere if we look. 

The patterns of the tumbleweeds (silvery gray in the sagebrush) are not my favorites. They are pattern however. The spikes that catch in my gloves are an alternating helix pattern. The patterns the clouds make remind us of elephants and camels, and bicycles, all fluffy examples of each. The pattern the fawn’s bones make beside the rocky road edge tells a fortune - although a sad one.

Salvador Dali patterned his watches in ‘Persistence of Memory.’ Van Gogh painted the patterns the stars made in ‘Starry, Starry Night.’ Pattern carries the viewer through the painting, adds interest, clarifies information, and gives us something familiar to grasp, especially in an unfamiliar landscape like Dali’s.

Pattern is often times called motif. The theme in a design that carries it.  

We live with pattern everyday. We walk on patterned carpets, wear patterned ties. Our faces are a pattern in symmetry. Leaves on the trees form a pattern, trying to show us to draw masses, and uniting the clumps of them into patterns. Even the sand on the desert floor creates patterns in the wind, the light. Watch for it. Memorize natural patterns and incorporate them into paintings. Experiment with spirals and helixes. Look for them and welcome them home. They bring us peace and order, security, Pattern helps us with the pattern of breathing.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art composition motif organic pattern texture Mon, 13 Apr 2015 05:58:29 GMT
Breaking the Rules MAE AND MAUDIEMAE AND MAUDIEtwo dogs at play while their owner tries to watch TV Donald says speed limits are just suggestions. He throws this over his shoulder as he speeds down the country road, leaving a wide dun-colored plume behind us. I am in the back seat, a little queazy.

A recipe for potato salad can take a fanciful turn if it is just a suggestion. 

Add some radishes. Brine the onions. That one is simple, far simpler than the speed suggestions (to which, I presume, most patrolmen will raise an eyebrow.)

Taking the middle road for art, I can only assume the rules are known. However, not every artist knows about the golden mean, so a bull’s eye painting occurs. It is only the artist that knows about the 3.14... divisional tool of the Golden Rule. That artist can break the Golden Rule by leading the eye here and there, in a seemingly, intuitive way. Subtly, of course. Jean Arp pulled it off in ‘Navel.’

Here lies the mystique of abstract, or modern, art.

Copying the abstractionists might give one some clues. (And by the way, artists have been copying the masters for centuries.) The simplest half inch of placement, the correction of one tree branch in Van Gogh’s cypress, the mesh of lines around the flag in Jasper John’s oils, proportion and perspective in Andy Warhol’s soup cans, and Jean Arp’s lithograph ‘Navel,’ all are centered around broken rules.

All these painting’s can be viewed at and other MOMA locations

So, break rules. Stretch the truth (even if there isn’t one). Distort. Simplify. Embroider. Adjust. Repeat. Juxtapose. Imagine (ah, yes, imagination is often a profound breaking of rules). 

But first--Isn’t there always a catch? 

But first, know the rules. Study. Copy. Explore. Read. And guess what--Practice. Only speed when you are on country roads you know, with all the knowledge of bridges and washes, and where the critics are hiding and how to circumvent them. And that’s by knowledge.

We could be talking about rules to live by--except some rules are necessary. Sorry, Donald. Just think. There would be no need for a rule about murder, if no one had ever been murdered. Just like there is no rule for timber logging in the middle of the Sahara. 

Drive and paint safely.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art art show',students, exhibit, exhibition, show, art, pastels, watercolors, composition creativity. drawing meditation Mon, 16 Mar 2015 22:03:13 GMT
Barb Torke and Friends Friday the 13th at the Creamery Art Center in Hotchkiss, Colorado, I will show with my 7 students, an accumulation of our art. We will be in the Peach Gallery, a nice space which will hold 3-5 paintings  apiece. Artists include, Laurae Fortner Welch, Barbara Silverman, Barbara Allen, Amy Daniels, Carol Ann Rassmussen, Linda Pa;mer, and Pat de l' Etoile. Each is a master in her own right. The opening will commence a month where viewers, can visit the show. information can be found on the website for the gallery,


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art show',students, exhibit, exhibition, show, art, pastels, watercolors, Mon, 09 Feb 2015 01:45:00 GMT
Facebook art challenge This last week I have accepted the Facebook art challenge and posted three paintings a day for five days. The paintings I showed and the few that didn't make my cut but were in my folder are also included, to show my thinking process. I wanted to post my favorites, for no other reason than to share.

Collage is my own challenge. I love the way it builds the painting with rough and raw edges to design an image

Pastel paintings from old photos are a dip in history. I'm not so much interested in copying as I am in interpreting, because the color is all new.

Dogs and pickup trucks started with a show we had at the Apple Shed. It was the real west, and nothing is more real in the west than a dog in the back of a pickup truck.

Landscapes and plein aire painting are just plain necessary. Again, they are not done for any other reason than to enjoy the out-doors, interpret the dirt, the foliage and the sky, and to breath fresh air.  BLUE WITH RED KEYNOTESBLUE WITH RED KEYNOTESabstraction with an emphasis on a color scheme with keynotes

My abstracts are the loves of my life. Of course no one understands them. I think, however, that abstracts are secret windows to the mind. They tattle out of school and they are not meant, therefore, to be understood. They are paintings that reveal a character: one that no one can describe. Except tp elicit a feeling, or a concept, or even an epiphany. The titles tell the motivator, even if it is as shallow as blue and orange. 

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art collage creativity. drawing Sun, 08 Feb 2015 01:17:54 GMT
January activity I always think January will be a time to get all those things I've put off done- a kind of reverse resolution. And every year I am surprised to see I have so many new and continuous activities to keep me occupied. So I do what any self-respecting procrastinator would do.

I have been fairly faithful to do a collage a day and have two boxes full of these little gems. Some of the collages are mood and fancy pieces. Quotes and sayings are apt to appear. Since these are merely random trials, I have no obligations for perfection or style. They are simply thoughts and discoveries before the sun even gets in the window, which is not that early this time of year.  4. WITHOUT THE DARK THEIR IS  NO LIGHT4. WITHOUT THE DARK THEIR IS NO LIGHT024 another time of radial design Some are investigations of composition. Radial composition has attracted me. The little collages are a chance to explore placement and rhythm for these pieces.

12. BIRD FLYING12. BIRD FLYING007 Radial composition starts with the center of interest and radiates out from it. The easiest way to create a radial composition is to find a location on the 'tic-tac-toe' grid that can bound the collage and set the center of interest on one of the crosses of the grid. Above the circle shape is the main point - or center of interest. From there the bird and color expand.

As any form of meditation or early morning practice, the morning collages help focus and center my approach to the rest of the day. And all those projects I have to catch up on and events to celebrate.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) collage composition meditation quotes Sun, 25 Jan 2015 04:48:42 GMT
Collage and Poetry In May of last year, I took a class at Weehawken Arts in Ridgway. The class, taught by the tandem muses Meredith Nemirov and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, combined the aspects of collage and poetry. Rosemerry is the poet, Meredith is the fine artist; in this case collage.

We read poetry, wrote poetry, discussed poetry, and produced poems with varying themes and inspiration. Collage evolved from the poetry, or inspired poetry. There was a myriad of ideas and paths to explore. 

Ekphrastic poetry describes a work of visual art—a painting, a dance, a musical piece. We were encouraged to explore. Rosemerry talked about the use of a variety of images and themes in one piece. We made lists. We wrote.

Meredith, a very fine painter, kept the themes of collage in the context of something like Haiku—the short direct embodiment of the visual. Her examples had depth, made statements, explored. 

Collage is the form of visual art using the French term coller, which translates literally to mean ‘to glue.’ Collage then is the art of taking pieces of paper, fabric, etc., to create an art work by gluing them down. From one piece we had written, we did a collage to illustrate the theme, From another artist’s collage we took an element and expanded upon it. 

One of the examples Meredith shared was to take an old deck of playing cards and create a collage a day. Of course, daily poems were also suggested. These, and other exercises, opened the doors and windows to a whole new type of journaling.

I bought a deck of playing cards. I  painted both sides with Gesso. At the little desk in my bedroom I lined up a shoebox with different papers folded and filed by color. I added baggies of string, seeds, grasses, bark, and feathers. My sketchbook is nearby. I use Elmer’s glue, a pair of small pincers, or tweezers, some cellophane, or plastic envelopes, to place under (and over) my work—to keep the glue where it belongs, and a variety of pens, pencils, and paints.

My goal was to do a collage a day.  1. FEATHERS AND LINES1. FEATHERS AND LINES053. 3x5 inch collage

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art collage creativity. drawing meditation practice Sun, 11 Jan 2015 00:03:39 GMT
2015 is here 2. RADIAL BIRDS2. RADIAL BIRDS030 a radial design in collage The holidays are over. Busy hours with family and friends take time, and as much as I love everyone, and everything, I have to create little bits of art in hidden places. Early mornings. Late at night. These are the special moments to pat my muse and coddle my creativity. Using tickets and napkins, cards and receipts, -  early morning collages, sketches and mini art works, keep me balanced - satisfied and calm - or at least calmer.

Now that January is here it is time to expand. I have several projects in the mix, Classes start the 8th. I have two classes this quarter, the afternoon group is preparing for a show in February. The morning group is for students new to the art world in class form. Lots of adventures for both. 

For the show we talk a lot about presentation. Whether to use mattes or not for pastels is a question. How to frame pastels is a question. Ordering frames, glass, matte-board - or having art framed and matted are discussed. It is important to use strong art works in a show. Something needs to catch the viewer from across the room. Also there must be some sense of community, so that the pieces work together. That comes out in the hanging.

I often like to matte my pastels. Depending on the venue, the matte leaves space to get involved with the art without distractions of wall or frame. Other works work well with spacers between the glass and art, and a nice plein-air frame, no matte. Pastels need space between the glass and the art. Mattes provide this space, if a trough is left by a long inset strip of matte-board placed behind the matte. This allows the pastel to drift behind the matte if any comes loose. Spray fixatives flatten the pastel. Pastel is basically pure pigment (ground elements such as cobalt, cadmium, ochre) in a light binder. The magic of pastel is this act of reflection when the little fragments of pastel tilt and lean and glitter. When sprayed they flatten out and darken. That being said, pastel is tremendously durable and permanent. The binder doesn't rot the fabric. The sun doesn't bleach out the color as much as watercolor. A little pastel dust is a fair price to pay for their beauty. 


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) frames framing mat mat-board matte-board mattes presentation Sun, 04 Jan 2015 00:58:30 GMT
November? AUTUMN FAERYAUTUMN FAERYThis fanciful fairy is hanging around with her bat pal. CHECKERED GOBLINSCHECKERED GOBLINSRock study of transformed goblins Oh. Is Halloween over already? What a busy summer slipped by me--again. I have had a lot of fun painting watercolors of fairies. After a workshop in New Mexico, and before, I struggled with media overload syndrome. That's my problem, because I can't give up pastels, or watercolors, or oils, or on and on. I really needed to do lots of watercolor to get the feel of it again. Therefore the fairies. It has been good. Nothing better than being behind the brush.

Another show at the Apple Shed this November (and a bit of October) has been successful. Drop by if you are in the neighborhood. On December first Connie Williams becomes the artist of the month, with a round of gratitude to all the artists commissioned in the Apple Shed. This is shown in an opening display of work by all the artists, as well as a delightful table of delectable goodies from the Deli. So there we go again. I will have a few more new paintings up in December. The gathering is from 2-4 Saturday afternoon in the Heritage Room, December 6. A great chance to meet many of the Apple Shed artists. It has been a busy year. Here's to ending it with flair.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Sat, 22 Nov 2014 04:22:51 GMT
End of Summer The road to hell is paved with good intentions. This axiom was integrated into my summer. I created crazy, busy chaos. It was fun, quick, and experimental, but a road I didn't get taken on this blog. So here it is September 20th and I want to get started on a more frequent schedule. The intention of this road began in March with a class in Ridgway. It has worked for me but it takes time to transpose all this discovery into a presentable core. I'm guessing you all will have more time now, write, paint, draw, or otherwise be creative. That's what it is all about, of course. I've talked to others this last month about the creativity crisis in our lives. I admit, I ignored any of you this summer, while I stacked away bits and pieces of creativity in shoe boxes and folders. I wish I were better at sharing. But I'm here now, with ideas, methods, insights and suggestions. You know--there are no rules, just good suggestions. I will make them, try to ignore your ignoring them, and encourage you to not beat yourself up because you didn't think of yourself--first--a little bit--or all the time your life was put on hold. We live in beautiful country, the high desert of western Colorado. Our friends, family, acquaintances, and other explorers find us. It is wonderful, but busy. RIFLE GAPRIFLE GAPmountains fall away into the distance at Rifle Gap, Colorado

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) art busy create creative creativity draw drawing explore good intentions intentions paint painting poetry summer writing Sat, 20 Sep 2014 19:51:55 GMT
Welcome, summer SUNFLOWER ROADSUNFLOWER ROADa girls and her dogs ride along a road lined with sunflowers A short walk in June


Someone has poisoned

the buffalo grass 

by their house. 

I walk briskly to where it begins 

again leaning rosy and lavender 

stems of green and purple

into the east

away from the wind

bugling its summer arrival

pounding its chest 

of fence and sagebrush


In an empty field

pale cream with cheatgrass

Once greened now headed

and tinged with lavender

white bindweed laces

and embroiders

the grasses with garlands

pink traced shells

of their trumpets

loud and glorious


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) June bindweed cheatgrass poem summer walk Wed, 25 Jun 2014 22:55:27 GMT
April was Poetry Month Here it is May. I am dazzled by the spring that wasn't and the poetry that hasn't made it onto my blog page. So here is my tribute to poetry, and the quick trickster that fools with spring and fall and human plans.

Coyote Portrait


Cyote yips, chirps and chatters 

across the valley

Up ravine where latent fall

rides coat-tails of a summer

wet with promise

Her fur is thick and ready

Paws whisper of future bounty

As she trots the gravel road 

toward her den

The beetles, ageless

In their instant lives

Renew in clattering ancestry

We are incandescent twinges 

In a star’s bright life

Insects live eternities and regenerate

One bee becomes another

Honeycomb and universe


the continuity 

of a steely onoburis

spiral of cochlea 

trilobite  shells turn 


Coyote’s lope stirs sand and beetle 

with his fickle paws



[email protected] (Barbara Torke) coyote humor moon poetry poetry month spring trickster Sun, 04 May 2014 20:34:39 GMT
Judging the high school art show Judging

by Barbara Torke 


This last week I had the pleasure of judging the Western Colorado Regional Art Show in Cedaredge. It is open for all western Colorado high school students. Four high schools sent student work, and the number of pieces was around 530. It was one of the hardest shows I haver ever judged. Very fine quality, lots of competition, and class. These kids have class.


It is not an easy job judging shows. I love each piece for a different reason. My favorites vie with knowledge and emotion until I finally make choices. That is all it is, making choices. I’d like to think I have honored the kids who have pushed beyond their and their teacher’s expectations. Another day, another walk around the perimeter, I will probably find other pieces that quicken my heart rate. 


These young people are industrious, enthusiastic, talented, and inspiring. They learn quickly and expand exponentially with each experience. With these kids, our future is in great shape. I spoke with an exchange student from Turkistan. She was so excited to have this opportunity to be creative. Her artwork bubbled over with this joy. I visited with a senior girl who had seen artists on the streets of Los Angeles painting with spray paint, done some research and taught herself how to do incredible scenes with detail and skill. Another young man I talked to wanted to know how he could further his showmanship. We talked quite a while, and I know he will grow more competent with every piece he brings forward, because he’s hungry for knowledge. He has just started painting with pastels. What a joy new media brings.


A quick word on copy work. We learn by copying, be it letters, food, or football. I could not criticize kids for copy work, but it must be a stepping stone. They must now make each move original, even though the source was planted in some other space. A new stroke, new color, new dynamics. Life after high school. 


Most comments from my peers tend to start “Better you than I. This is a tough show.” And they are right. I do hope, however, that somewhere, frontiers were expanded, a sense of accomplishment was achieved, and they are saying, “I’m so glad I entered that show. I’ll do it and do even more wonderful work next year.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Thu, 17 Apr 2014 22:49:28 GMT
Arches in March Arches in March


When I go to Arches I’m always amazed by the visitors there from other countries. Holland, Canada, China, Japan. The same is true of Mesa Verde. These places are our national heritage, and evolve, collapse, recreate, and crumble daily. Arches is never the same. Why our neighborhood is not more frequently visited by locals I’ll never know. We are an ironic nation.


Devil’s Canyon amphitheater pastel              

There are just  under 2000 arches in the monument at this time. To be classified an arch the opening must be three feet (or a meter) wide. Baby arches seem impossible but the thin-ness of the spires seem impossible, too. Courthouse rock stands solid and impregnable, and Sheep Rock thin and wafer-like.

PARK PLACE ARCHESPARK PLACE ARCHESstone formations at the start of Park Place trail

Park Place pastel

I hiked Park Avenue this visit. I bought a new hiking stick and it helped immensely with the steps down. The slick rock canyon bottom waved and rippled under my boots. I walked on sand and sediment petrified in the Cenozoic Period, eons ago. Dropping down the waterway, I looked up and saw Courthouse rise incredibly tall. 


    Courthouse  pastel                        


COURTHOUSE ROCK, ARCHES, UTAH_7092 (46)COURTHOUSE ROCK, ARCHES, UTAH_7092 (46)Courthouse Rock view from Park Place

Courthouse Rock from Park Place

Perspective and the eye. Amazing how the tallest structure is chiseled down as we draw nearer. 

Rivulets in the sand, tectonic tears in the surface, erosion by wind, water, the   dissolution of the salt beds below. Millions of years in the making, and I felt so small.



canyon floor park place arches_7092 (33)canyon floor park place arches_7092 (33)

Trail from Park Place to Couthouse

We rode the ATV to Gemini Bridges near Dead Horse Point. After a lunch of grapes and roast beef sandwiches, Pat and I took out our art supplies while the guys rode the Metal Masher trail on their ATVs. We drew, studied, and watched. We talked about value. 


GEMINI BRIDGES 2014-03-19 12.50.09GEMINI BRIDGES 2014-03-19 12.50.09Near Moab Gemini Bridges opens up into the canyon floor

Gemini Bridges

Gemini Bridges is the top of the mesa, where the erosion has cut through the surface and left an arch (pair of arches) below. We cautiously approached the edge where the ground slid another fifty feet beneath us. Under the rim sagebrush and juniper held on tenaciously while the rocks lay toppled beside them, their falling action held in a breath and a heartbeat. It was as if it happened yesterday, or would happen again tomorrow. This is BLM land or Utah State land, and there are no warnings or guard rails. I held my breath. My phone rang.

Plein aire painting is simply painting outside. With a box of Girault pastels and a pad of Colorart paper, I scramble onto a boulder atop a dome of slick rock and try to choose a manageable amount of landscape. I’m working with values, getting the foreground bright and clear, the middle ground interesting, and the background (the LaSals) dim and misty. It is best to keep plein aire simple, choosing a small area, a bush, a rock formation and  then three values. If one wishes to be successful, that is.

For the first time painting in the vast canyon country of Utah, I suggest a taped down piece of paper (Canson or Art Spectrum) and three pastels, a dark --not black--a pale--not white--and a medium. This sounds easier than it is. Medium value pastels are hard to separate from the dark in the sunlight. Yellows are almost always light, and seldom a medium value. Hard to tell, but the Courthouse sketch has a pale lavender, a medium burnt sienna, and a darker red (caput mortum). It was painted on a tannish sheet of Canson. Park Place is burnt sienna (medium), Prussian blue(dark), and two lights (pale blue and pale green) on a pale blue sheet of Canson.

Back at the campground I hiked on the trail to Broken Arch. It was interesting the number of people who I met scrambling over slick rock and slogging through sand. The cryptobiotic soil hangs on, surprisingly well, as I looked for the cairns to guide me. 

The first walk I took was to Tapestry Arch. It was evening and the wind was ferocious. I fought the pull of it, the sand that lodged in eyes and throat, and the goat-tempered slick rock that took me closer. Back at the camp they thought I was nuts. Of course I laughed, but they were right. In some ways, that is. The wind blew my footprints away before I left the trail onto slick rock. The slick rock left me unbalanced and hesitant. Sand replaced the trail with new surface as I returned, not getting to the arch. But I have a telephoto lens, and the trek was inspiring. Later I took photos, but never did take the goat walk over the ridge.


tapestry arch_7171 (3)tapestry arch_7171 (3)

Tapestry Arch Devil’s Garden 

Dale helped the couple from New Zealand find their campsite. They’d forgotten to write the number down and were trying to find it on a dead laptop. I met a young man on the trail asked if I make it to Broken Arch. He was pleasant when I said I was hiking alone and no one knew where I was so I was heading back. We actually chatted a little about the juniper that hogged the trail with its monstrous roots and flailing branches.  The Ft. Collins family helped with our solar panels, putting them down so the wind didn’t remove them from the planet. All was good in our tiny family. The big empty space that is everywhere was good, too. The hoodoos have dimples and belly buttons. Belly buttons the size of pizza platters. Or larger. A full moon softened their over-sized lumpy features, and Dale and I cuddled while the wind blew away the squally weather.

Oh, and by the way, my phone call was from Roger Hutchison, the art teacher from Delta High School, asking me to judge the Regional High School Art Show. Reality is never far behind, wherever one is.


park place arches_7092 (10)park place arches_7092 (10) contrails over Park Place


[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Mon, 31 Mar 2014 21:03:34 GMT
New: Writers of the Purple Page Anthology published Today. SHEEP IN UTAHSHEEP IN UTAHSheep grazing in southern Utah, witih the surrounding rocky outcroppings of the southern central landscape Here is the site on  where you can find the new Writers of the Purple Page Anthology for 2013. New selections from the aggregate writers from western Colorado. Poetry, fiction, non-fiction, humor, and a variety of writings. Available as an ebook also. Lots of art, photography as well as writing.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) anthology art writing Mon, 31 Mar 2014 00:09:58 GMT


Donald says speed limits are just suggestions. He throws this over his shoulder as he speeds down the country road, leaving a wide dun-colored plume behind us. I am in the back seat, a little queazy.

A recipe for potato salad can take a fanciful turn if it is just a suggestion. Add some radishes. Brine the onions. That one is simple, far simpler than the speed suggestions (to which, I presume, most patrolmen will raise an eyebrow.)

Taking the middle road for art, I can only assume the rules are known. However, not every artist knows about the golden mean, so a bull’s eye painting occurs. It is only the artist that knows about the 3.14... divisional tool of the Golden Rule. That artist can break the Golden Rule by leading the eye here and there, in a seemingly, intuitive way. Subtly, of course. Jean Arp pulled it off in ‘Navel.’

Here lies the mystique of abstract, or modern, art.


Copying the abstractionists might give one some clues. (And by the way, artists have been copying the masters for centuries.) The simplest half inch of placement, the correction of one tree branch in Van Gogh’s cypress, the mesh of lines around the flag in Jasper John’s oils, proportion and perspective in Andy Warhol’s soup cans, and Jean Arp’s lithograph ‘Navel,’ all are centered around broken rules.

(All these painting’s can be viewed at and other MOMA locations)

So, break rules. Stretch the truth (even if there isn’t one). Distort. Simplify. Embroider. Adjust. Repeat. Juxtapose. Imagine (ah, yes, imagination is often a profound breaking of rules). 

But first--Isn’t there always a catch? 

But first, know the rules. Study. Copy. Explore. Read. And guess what--Practice. Only speed when you are on country roads you know, with all the knowledge of bridges and washes, and where the critics are hiding and how to circumvent them. And that’s by knowledge.

We could be talking about rules to live by--except some rules are necessary. Sorry, Donald. Just think. There would be no need for a rule about murder, if no one had ever been murdered. Just like there is no rule for timber logging in the middle of the Sahara. 

Drive and paint safely.

[email protected] (Barbara Torke) Golden Rule abstract art artists modern rules Tue, 04 Mar 2014 22:13:18 GMT