The Road to Distraction

It’s been said “if you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there”. I like Toby Keith’s version from his Somewhere Else lyrics…. “If you don’t know where you’re going you might end up somewhere else.”

Getting somewhere without delay is the ultimate goal for some. But for an artist, “distractions” can be the ticket to create something new.

I filled in today for my office manager and while taking orders couldn’t help chatting. It was a thrill to hear what you’re doing. One beginning artist was excited to take a workshop with master artist Kevin Macpherson. I suggested he become a sponge, have fun and never compare his work with anyone. Another artist told me in her Scott Christensen workshop two years ago Scott showed the class one of his first paintings. Impressive! We all start somewhere…it’s the side trips that determine where we ultimately arrive.

Then between calls I read the article about Clyde Aspevig in American Artist’s special publication Plein Air painting. It was a perfect summation of my idea of an artist’s journey. Clyde coined the term “land snorkeling”. It means taking time to immerse yourself in nature and explore the beauty and wonder of the world around you.

Aspevig suggests, “Land snorkelers wander through nature with no intention of hiking to a destination. The distractions of the modern world so often pull us away from nature”. But if we could allow nature to be the distraction we might reconnect with our world. We could then “create art to change a person’s normal perceptions of something and get them to look at things in a different way to have more content and relevance to other things in life.” Excellent artist’s job description, Clyde. I invite artists to explore …my discovery while being distracted today.

Cathy Dietrich


About Face

Last August I waited in queue at the Scottsdale Artist’s School to register for Aaron Westerberg’s portrait and figure painting workshop Feb 28-Mar 4th. I got in. Hooray! But when the time arrived my recent rotator cuff surgery derailed me. Bummer!

But much like a painting gone awry, a new solution appeared. The school suggested I donate my spot to a scholarship student. Much to my surprise I saved face and became an instant benefactor. Then for another plus…Aaron learned I could not attend as a student and invited Emily and I to visit his class.

Aaron introduced us and let fly with rave reviews of our products and art competition. Then a student snapped a photo of the three of us posing with the panels we brought for the class. It gets better. Aaron signed and gave us his new book The Art of Aaron Westerberg available at

But the best was still to come. The students seemed excited to meet us and one said “It is so important to me that I meet the people who supply my products to put a face with a company name.” We feel the same way. Let’s face it. Meeting you, our customers, face to face inspires us to produce the painting supports and contest venues so you can put your best face forward. It is our delight to meet you and view your stunning artwork!

Aaron Westerberg will select and write critiques for twelve finalist paintings in our June contest at

Cathy Dietrich Artist/Owner

“Here Come ‘Da Judge”

Long long ago in the last century (but still in this galaxy) I attended a prestigious juried art show in Scottsdale with my art buddies. The paintings were stellar except for one and we wondered how it was juried into the show.

Oh well, maybe it was a quirk we thought. Oh were we ever wrong!! We gasped as it was awarded Best of Show. Completely stunned we knew would never have a clue why the judge arrived at this choice. It became a pivotal moment for me and I vowed if I sponsored a competition I would request critiques from the judge. So the RayMar judge’s selections may be final but why a painting is chosen will not be a mystery.

I’ve always wondered how a judge determines winning paintings. Recently Fine Art Studio Online published an essay by Stephen Doherty, editor of American Artist magazine, about the judging process. It is an in depth essay – an everything you’ve ever wanted to know about judging but could never ask the judge. It appears HERE.

I congratulate the artists who believe in their work and submit entries to our contest. Your artwork is the star and your participation allows us to show off your art and refine our contest to bring your work to the attention of galleries and collectors. The 2009/2010 contest ends the last day of July and judge Randall Sexton will announce the monthly finalists by mid August. Then finalist judge Scott Jennings will award cash prizes of $26,500 including the grand prize of $10,000 in September. Good luck and happy painting!


Don’t Think It…Just Do It

In my recent three-day Scottsdale Artist’s School workshop “Still Life From Start to Finish” with Susan Diehl, I became the still life. Then my brushes played dead. I toyed with brush burial ideas (a fireplace match box?) along with my aspirations of becoming a painter. But I returned the second day to be with the fun friends I’d made and enjoy the excellent instructor.

I searched for quotes to inspire me for that second day but the best and simplest was Nike’s “Just Do It.” So I threw out all my expectations for a masterpiece and just had fun smearing paint. With the pressure off some of the lessons “osmosed” in and by the third and final day I felt I could achieve any painting goal I set for myself. Amazing turn around!

Painting is not like riding a bicycle. Mastery is a mindset, requires I paint acres and acres of canvas and going in I know I will never know everything…. fortunately. And on this note I did find a quote, “Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.” Edgar Degas.


Preparations for my Scottsdale Artist’s School workshop

After I gather the paints, brushes and support requirements on my instructor’s supply list, I wonder what do I need that’s not on the list?

A good artist friend offered Woody Allen’s quote, “Eighty percent of success is just showing up” to rev me up and to fight my fear. I like Shakti Gawain’s quote I found in The Artist’s Way, “We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own or to other people’s models, learn to be ourselves and allow our natural channel to open”.

So whether it is “good” art or “bad” art it will be my art. I begin tomorrow after being away for ten years, a perfect time to shut off logic brain and just have fun!

A thing or two I do know for sure: I may be a “begin again” novice artist but my RayMar canvas panels say professional. And all the inspiration I will ever need is online at


Product Testing of a Different Kind

Memorial Day weekend heralds the unofficial start of summer. Oh… the trips to plan and the scenes that will become stories to capture in paint.

At RayMar we especially enjoy the unplanned painting stories. It’s difficult to contain our joy when our artist customers share their “accident” stories about our products. We mentally turn cartwheels and grin like Cheshire cats when we hear tales I’ve come to refer to as RayMar lore.

So enter Robert, a long time customer from the North East who called to tell us about his cat painting. He deemed the painting unexceptional. And when his cat died soon after he completed the portrait he just wanted to rid himself of a sad memory. So the feline on the RayMar panel was tossed outside by the shed and forgotten.

Eight months later after some exterior spring cleanup Robert’s wife rescued the painting. The panel was hard hit with all the elements an upstate New York winter can muster: snow, ice, sleet, rain, freezing temperatures plus the spring thaw.

The panel was straight and undamaged and Robert’s wife thought the painting was pretty good. Framed in gold it now hangs in their house…. a reminder of the cat they loved and of a rugged painting support artists could easily love!

Then there’s the artist who went to Venice and her panel carrier flipped out of the gondola and floated because it was lightweight and waterproof. Her painting was saved. And we heard from the tired day painter who forgot she leaned her carrier against the car and backed over it. The carrier is very strong under normal conditions but was damaged. Miraculously the painting survived.

And okay I’m on a roll. One more. Justin “said” it best in his blog that our panels are tough. Tough? Yeah. So there.

So just paint and don’t be concerned about your RayMar painting support. Feel confident that your RayMar panel has been through extensive field-testing.

Till next time….Cathy

Ready, Set, Blog!

Okay…so the blog meister at RayMar Art has not posted in eons. Blog fright perhaps?

Blogging slipped to the “backest” of burners and the range detectives had to be summoned to locate the forgotten burner to relight the flame. Or…. When you’re up to your ears in alligators its tough to remember it was your job to drain the swamp. This little graphic yarn was a favorite of our founder; which reminds me to thank our many artist customers who remember John and how much they enjoyed talking with him.

But that was then….now its now. RayMar Art’s blog is officially revived. Drum roll please!

The energy and passion that originally fueled RayMar has revisited co founder Cathy, artist, entrepreneur and novice blogger. She now puts on her “Blogs from R” hat with verve and heralds frequent blogs about art events and musings. So heeeeeere’s Cathy.

As a first time vendor at the recent national OPA show, RayMar sent me (Cathy), Emily and Elizabeth to man(woman?) our table, present our wares and meet artists. We are a product based but relationship driven company and have enjoyed knowing you through your work in magazines, your websites and your entries to our online contest. We’ve talked with you, processed your phone and internet orders but to connect names with faces and hobnob with you was a gargantuan thrill.

A close second on the “thrill-o-meter” was attending the OPA awards presentation. As Kathryn Beligratis, executive director of the OPA announced RayMar Art’s award and scanned the crowd for RayMar-ites, we raised our hands and smiled. We were doubly proud to be present as a sponsor for this important show of masterpiece paintings and to support representational art. Every one of the two hundred artists juried into the show was a winner!

It feels good to be back. I invite you to receive our blog, follow us on Twitter, and befriend us on Facebook.



To lift a line from that O’Hara girl, “Fiddle Dee Dee”,’tis the year Twenty Ten, Yessirree! Perhaps the time to venture where you’ve never ever been? So uncap that tube, squeeze hue on your sable, and be the cayenne. J

As RayMar enters its twelfth year I smile with glee that we continue to manufacture plein air products for you. Taking Nike’s simple directive “Just Do It” is the best advice to launch any new idea and I encourage you to create paintings, preferably on a RayMar panel for the world to enjoy, (any reason not to think globally?).

And while delving into twelve, how about those twelve stellar finalists selected each month in our current contest? The feedback on the paintings has been phenomenal especially on Facebook. We put accomplished artist jurors in front of great art, request they write critiques on their selections then launch the results into cyberspace. And a new feature is all entries are shown at the end of the monthly contest. Everyone wins!

Seven more months remain in RayMar’s 4th annual original online contest and this month’s juror is the multi talented painter, author and instructor Joe Anna Arnett. We offer large dollars and Internet exposure as prizes but more importantly the galleries watch to discover you. Check with Robert Coombs and Jim Wodark. See you!


Carol Marine Posts August Contest Finalists

First time judge, Carol Marine, picked some stellar paintings. Way to go and thank you Carol! Check out the August Finalists. There is a great variety of subject matter and painting styles to inspire you. Carol’s critiques of these paintings will be posted near the end of the month. We apologize for the delay as Clint Watson, our website manager, is currently out enjoying Europe (we are quite jealous) and will post them at the end of the month when he returns.

4th Annual Fine Art Competition Begins!

We are pleased to annouce the start of our 4th Annual Fine Art Competition! The competition begins August 1, 2009 and ends July 31, 2010. Paintings entered during the month of August will be judged and critiqued by our artist juror Carol Marine. For more information about the contest and to enter please visit our new contest website at:

Good luck in the competition and happy painting!