Naomi Tiry Salgado

Naomi Tiry Salgado grew up in Chippewa Falls, WI and now lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and two dogs. She has been actively painting since 2007 and dedicated to full-time painting since 2015. She taught elementary art for several years, was a president of the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota and regularly competes in regional Plein Air Painting events.

Hudson Star-Observer Article

I was featured in the Hudson Star-Observer last week!  

Before I started painting professionally, I was an elementary art teacher.  I enjoyed teaching and working with children (most days).  However, over time I became envious of their creativity time.  So I reluctantly left that job to make time for my own creative endeavors.  I occasionally run into a previous student and enjoy seeing where life has taken them.  

This happened in a big way last month when I got a call from the local newspaper to interview me. To my surprise and delight, the journalist was one of my former students!  Caleb Fravel was a fifth grader the last time I saw him!  At the risk of sounding like everyone’s favorite aunt, he really has grown into a nice young man, and an excellent writer. I really enjoyed the article he wrote for the Hudson Star-Observer.  His editor must have enjoyed it too, because his article was featured on the front page of the newspaper! You can read it in its entirety HERE.

Hudson Star-Observer

Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist

"Self Portrait" - Berthe Morisot, 1885

I enjoyed the chance of a lifetime to drink in the solo exhibition and academic symposium of one of my artistic heroines—Berthe Morisot, a woman Impressionist…in fact, one of the founding members of Impressionism!  The exhibition and symposium were hosted by the Dallas Art Museum March 29-30, 2019.  The symposium consisted of a series of 5 speakers (the 6th got sick) who are leading art historians in the United States.  After I got home, my head was swimming with interesting factoids and observations.  This article is my attempt to piece together and process everything I had learned.  I (Naomi Tiry Salgado) originally wrote this in spring of 2019 as a newsletter to send to my collectors.  I recently edited it in March 2023 to post on my website blog.

First Lesson

As I was trying to find the entrance to the Dallas Museum of Art, I learned the first new thing about Berthe Morisot.  My “Midwest friendly self” tried to strike up a conversation with a woman walking in the same direction.  I asked if she was going to the Berthe Morisot symposium, pronouncing it like the American that I am—”Berth-a Mor-i-sot”.  She responded (very graciously) that indeed she was going to the “Beardt More – ee –zoh” exhibition.  I was non-plussed…obviously I had a lot to learn and told her that.  Turns out she was one of the speakers… Carol Armstrong is a lovely lady and a knowledgeable speaker.  So there you go!  Now you also know how to pronounce Berthe Morisot’s name without needing to be embarrassed… I took care of that part for you!

Why Morisot?

So, why am I so drawn to Morisot, this French woman who painted over 100 years ago?  First of all, she was a woman Impressionist, just like me.  She was married to a man who was very supportive of her art career, just like me.  Berthe balanced her art career with being a mother, just like me.  Berthe had a brother-in-law who was a well-known artist, just like me.  (Marc Anderson married my sister Anna and is an artist worth following, if you don’t already.) Like me, Berthe didn’t paint simply for the fun of it; it is our career—life focus.  Berthe didn’t need to sell paintings to support herself or her family.  However, she still pursued sales of her paintings for the respect of the art world—to define herself as a professional, just like me

Early Life

In Berthe’s early life, her mother hired some of the best art teachers of the day to come to the Morisot home and train Berthe and her sister Edma.  At this time, in the mid-to-late 1800’s, women were not allowed in institutions of higher learning or group classes with men present.  There were special “women only” art classes in vogue at the time, but these classes were simply meant to pass the time in a pleasant way.  Women were not supposed to have careers, especially women of middle to high class status. However, the Morisot girls broke the mold wherever they could.  One of their later instructors, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, taught them about the joys of plein air painting, and would take the girls to paint outdoors.  The rigorous art teachers that the Morisot girls studied under brought out the best in Berthe. She was accepted into the Paris Salon exhibition nine years in a row.  The Salon was the main way for an artist to gain credibility at the time, and it was a high honor to be accepted. 

“Berthe Morisot” as painted by Edma Morisot. 1865.

Loss of Painting Partner

Berthe’s sister Edma completely set her painting aside when she married and started having children.  The two had been so close, so this must have required some adjustment for Berthe, not having her painting partner.  It must have also been hard for Edma to sacrifice the painting that she loved in exchange for raising her children, who she also loved.  To deal with the complex emotions of this transitional time, Berthe painted many paintings of Edma—sometimes alone, sometimes with her children.  In all of them, Berthe portrays Edma as somber and lost in thought.  After Berthe herself got married in 1874, she abruptly stopped painting pictures of Edma.  In contrast to Edma, marriage and a child did not stop Berthe from painting.

“The Cradle” by Berthe Morisot. 1872. A painting of Edma with her second child, Blanche. This painting was exhibited at the 1st Impressionist Exhibition in 1874. When it didn’t sell, Berthe gave it to Edma, who passed it down to Blanche. It was bought by the Louvre in 1930.

Life Changes

Two things happened in 1874 that changed the direction of Berthe’s life.  One is that she was asked to join “The Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Engravers, Etc.”  (later known as “The Impressionists”). The other thing is that 34-year-old Berthe married Eugene Manet.   Eugene was the brother of Edouard Manet, another founding member of the Impressionists. Edouard Manet is often confused with Claude Monet—but they are two different French Impressionist painters who were contemporaries of each other.

New Painting Friendship

Berthe developed a friendship with Edouard, based on their mutual love of art.  They would sometimes paint the same topic to compare and contrast their techniques—a visual “top this” or “one-up” challenge that would pass back and forth.  Of the two, it was Berthe who challenged Edouard to bring his paints outdoors and paint en plein air.

“Washerwoman”. Edouard Manet. 1875.
“Laundresses Hanging Out the Wash”. Berthe Morisot. 1875.

The Start of Impressionism

Even though Berthe was very close to Edouard Manet, it was Edgar Degas who invited Berthe to join the Impressionists in time for their very first exhibition.  Because Morisot was single at the time of the invitation, cultural propriety demanded that Degas write to Berthe through her mother. Keep in mind that Berthe was not a teenager at this time, but a 33-year-old, highly capable, and well-trained artist.  Berthe gladly accepted the invitation and joined the group whole-heartedly.  She didn’t just enter some paintings into the show, but also helped organize that first exhibition.  This is the exhibition where Impressionism got its name, due to Claude Monet’s, “Impressionism Sunrise” painting.  Morisot went on to participate in 7 of the 8 Impressionist Exhibitions, participating in more than any other Impressionist artist, including Monet himself.  The only year she didn’t show with the Impressionists was due to her being sick after giving birth.  Once she joined the Impressionists, she no longer entered the Paris Salon.

Woman Impressionist

Berthe was a pioneer as a woman artist.  I have caught myself complaining that today’s artworld is so male dominant.  But compared to Morisot, I really need to stop whining.  She faced so many cultural restrictions in upper class French society in the late 1800’s.  Morisot and other gentlewomen were not allowed in the cafés where the men Impressionists would meet to discuss art and philosophy.  They weren’t allowed in art schools or group classes.  In fact, they really weren’t supposed to be outside of the house at all.  Even though Berthe complained about the struggle in private letters to her sister, she still followed the rules society forced upon her.  She found ways to work around the rules.  For instance, in order to get included in the conversations about art and philosophy, she would invite the artists and poets to parties at her own home.  Her painting subjects never included the cafes of Paris like her male counterparts, but she painted the world she knew. The world of the home and the woman.  She had greater access to these subjects than the men Impressionists, and this is what she became known for.

“Woman at Her Toilette”. Berthe Morisot. 1880.

Artistic Success

Fellow Impressionist artists respected Berthe and took her work seriously throughout her life.  Art critics of the time wrote about her—some favorably, and some not.  One critic called Morisot, “the Quintessential Impressionist” because her work embodied the Impressionistic ideals—bold, broken brushstrokes that have been painted quickly.  Indeed, when compared with much of the other Impressionist artist’s works, Morisot’s paintings are often the most daring and bold.  Morisot only sold 40 of her paintings during her lifetime.  She sold most of them through the Impressionist art dealer, Durand-Ruel.  In one instance, he paid Morisot 500 francs for her painting in the morning.  By that afternoon, he had already sold it for 750 francs.

Work/Life Balance

After Berthe married Eugene Manet, she continued using her maiden name, a practice unusual for the times. After Berthe gave birth to their first and only child, Julie, the little family employed nannies and housekeepers so that Berthe could keep painting.  Quite often, Berthe would paint the servants as they went about their duties.  There are also several paintings she painted of her husband playing with little Julie.  These are very unusual for the time when men weren’t typically shown caring for young children.

“Eugene Manet and His Daughter at Bougival”. Berthe Morisot. 1881.

Later Years

Morisot’s artistic style changed in the last few years of her life.  Her style departed from the broken, feathery Impressionist style to a more heavy and continuous line drawing style that gives a similar feeling as Munch’s famous Post-Impressionist painting, “The Scream”.  Berthe passed away in 1895, at the young age of 54.  Eugene died three years before Berthe, leaving Julie an orphan at the tender age of 16.  On her deathbed, Berthe told her daughter, “You have both beauty and money, use them well.”  She also instructed her to give away her paintings to her Impressionist friends.


Julie did give away some of Morisot’s paintings.  But she also helped Renoir, Degas, and the poet Baudelaire put on a posthumous exhibition of 390 of her mother’s paintings and drawings 3 years after her death.  Many of these paintings are still owned by Morisot’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  

For the next 90 years, Morisot slowly and gradually faded from the public eye.  Biographers of Impressionists initially moved her to the “Lesser Impressionist” category, and then started leaving her out of the story altogether.  There was a solo exhibition of her work in Paris in 1941, but not many people went due to the country being in the throes of WW2.  In the US, there has only been one other solo exhibit of Morisot’s work which happened in 1987.  Claude Monet, by comparison, has had 40 solo exhibits in the US since 1987. 


With the rise of the feminist movement, came the inevitable question, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”  This is the title of a 1971 article in Art News by Linda Nochlin.  It was a pioneering work that got art historians thinking…maybe there WERE women artists and we just forgot about them? Anne Higonnet, professor of art history at Columbia University and keynote speaker, decided to write her doctoral dissertation on Morisot in the late 1980’s.  Since there was such a low percentage of Morisot’s paintings in museums, she contacted Morisot’s family to be able to study the paintings.  At first, they were hesitant to talk with her, but once they realized she was a “good egg”, they invited her into their homes and gladly showed her “grandma’s paintings” and also some of “Uncle Edouard’s paintings” as well.  Dr. Higonnet published her research in a book, which has encouraged further scholarly research into this almost-forgotten artist who was so instrumental in the founding of the Impressionist movement.


Berthe Morisot is a huge inspiration for me.  She lived and worked in a male-dominated world. Yet she kept her chin up and kept painting, kept exhibiting, kept looking for foot-holds for her career.  She took the circumstances society gave her (gentlewomen must stay in the house) and made a career out of it by painting that which is in the house.  When given lemons, we can choose to let it make us sour, or find a way to make lemonade.  Morisot found her way.  I’m confident that I will too.

The exhibition “Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist” was on view at the Dallas Museum of Art until May 26, 2019.  Then it moved to Musee d’Orsay in Paris, France from June 18 – September 22, 2019, and had an accompanying symposium on September 20, 2019.  This symposium featured European scholars and was spoken in French.  Due to Morisot’s work being mostly held in private collections, it is not often seen.  The curators for the exhibition worked diligently to pull together the largest collection of her work since the posthumous exhibition of 1898, many of the pieces were on loan from her descendants’ living room walls and are now back in their private collections. 

Skin and Bones: what color and value provide a painting

In this short article, I want talk about the skin and bones of a painting.  One time, in the middle of a conversation about a painting, I once said, “This painting has good bones.”  The person with whom I was chatting asked what I meant by that.  I answered, but it was a muddled answer.  If I could rewind time and re-answer, I’d say, “It means that the painting has a solid value structure.”   The value (lightness and darkness) of a painting provides the skeletal structure of the painting.  And if “Value” is the bones, “Color” is the skin.

What does your body need more: skin or bones?  Of course, we need both!  But humor me for a second: imagine if you just had skin but no bones.  You would be a gushy blob with accurate skin, hair and eye colors, but you wouldn’t be recognizable.  Now imagine if you had bones, but no flesh.  You’d be your exact height and shape – legs, arms, head, trunk — but not very huggable, nor very recognizable! 


Some Visual Examples:

I painted this portrait of my daughter during the early days of Covid lockdown.  I don’t paint many portraits.  So, this painting is doubly special to me, because not only is it one of my rare portraits, it’s the only one so far that I’ve signed, “Mom”.  (I’m still trying to convince my son to sit for me.)  

“Megan”. 18″ x 24″. oil on canvas. NFS.

I was wondering which is more important – Value or Color? So I did a couple of studies based on this painting to experiment.  Sometimes the best way to see the importance of something is to remove that thing and see what happens. 

I started by tracing my daughter’s face from the original painting onto two canvases so that the proportions/drawing in each study would be identical. The first study has accurate value, even though the color (hue and saturation) is off-kilter:

“Study of Megan–value on, hue off”. oil on canvas. NFS.  (Note: this is a hastily painted study – for experimental purposes only. Interpretation: I know it’s ugly.)

In the above examples, when we removed the accuracy of color but left the value in place; the color got wild, but the structure of the face remained intact.  Therefore, we can assume that the value is what gives a painting structure—just like bones give our bodies structure.

Now let’s experiment see what the second study looks like.  Remember, it’s the opposite of the first study, it has (somewhat) accurate color, but not at all accurate value:

“Study of Megan–hue on, value off”. oil on canvas. NFS.  (Note: this is a hastily painted study – for experimental purposes only. Interpretation: I know it’s very, very ugly.)

This study was quite difficult for me to paint (and also share with you) because I know better than to flatten values.  It made me twitchy.  I still needed to use values in some places just to delineate shapes (nostrils, top vs. bottom lip, under chin, etc.)  However, I tried to screw up the values so that the experiment would still work.  

In this study, when I removed accurate value but left the color intact, the image flattened out, and it became a symbol of a face, rather than an attempt at representation.

To be able to see the values even more clearly, here are the same two studies side-by-side in black and white:.

Once turned black and white, the study on the left might actually look better with the super-saturated colors gone. It still has depth (and could have had more, if I had taken the time to fully develop it).  The study on the right looks just as bad as the color version, if not worse.  It lacks the underlying value structure…the bones upon which the entire painting should be built. 


There is a phrase that I hear my artist friends use often: “Color gets all the credit, while value does all the work.”   It sounds like a quote from a famous artist. However it is said so often and without a quotation, that I have no idea who said it first.  However, it is very true.  In fact, I think the sentiment could be pushed even further by saying, “Color demands all our attention, so we can’t see that value is doing all the work.”  


Three Methods for Seeing Value (by limiting color)

If you want an accurate picture of what value is doing, you need to find a way to temporarily hide the color from your eyes.  I do this all of the time when I’m painting by using one or more of these three methods:

  1. Modified Squinting –  Try this: Gently lower your top lid about 97% so that you’re looking through your lashes. You should see general areas of light and dark shapes with subtle colors – no sharp detail, no intense colors.  The nice thing about this method is that you don’t need any special tools to carry around, we always have our eyes with us (hopefully!)  But until you get used to it, it can be hard to trust the ethereal picture you vaguely see.  (Note: this is not squinting where you’re squeezing both your top and bottom eyelid.  Real squinting actually changes the shape of your eyeball, and may help you see clearer, if you need glasses.  We’re trying to see worse so that the color gets reduced.)
  2. Value Finder –  This is looking through a small piece of colored glass or plexiglass.  The one I use is red, however, I’ve seen green versions as well.  The main purpose of doing this is to turn everything the same color so that we no longer pay attention to the many colors, but the values instead.  I keep a small value finder in my main plein air easel and another near my studio easel.  They’re a quick, cheap, low-tech way of being able to see and compare values.
  3. Phone Camera – Use your phone to take a photo of whatever you want to see black and white by editing the photo.  Here’s how with an iPhone: take a photo with your phone. Find your photo in the gallery and open it.  Click the blue word “Edit” in the upper right corner. Once in edit mode, go to the color options. (This is the icon of three interlocking circles.) Then scroll until you see “Mono” or “Silvertone” or “Noir”.  These all are basically a black-and-white version of your image. 


Just like our bodies need both skin and bones to function well and look like ourselves, paintings need both value and color for structure and distinctiveness.  Color is very exciting and can attract all of the attention.  But when enjoying paintings, be sure to take a moment to look past the color.  Use one of the above techniques to help you have “X-ray” vision and see the bones–i.e. the value structure–underneath. 

To find out what I’ve been up to lately, click here to read my Goodbye-to-Fall 2022 Newsletter.

Goodbye-To-Fall 2022 Newsletter

From My Heart

Happy Thanksgiving, my dear friends!  I hope you had a wonderful fall. Here’s my Fall 2022 Newsletter:

My “baby” girl (who’s portrait is featured in this season’s blog article) just left for college.  My son went off to college last year, and now my daughter this year.  To be honest, I was a hot mess with all these emotions at the beginning of fall.  I’m thankful that I have my art to focus on which is why I loaded my schedule with back-to-back plein air events.  (I posted a summary of each event in the section below.)  It was a truly exhausting couple of months, but was just the thing I needed to adjust into empty-nesting.  Now I’m so glad to be back home that I don’t even mind that there are no kids around!  Plus, they just came home from college for Thanksgiving weekend; so at the moment, my heart is full. 

My plan for winter is to work on a new series that has been tumbling around my brain.  I don’t want to share too much until I experiment and see if I can get it to look like it does in my head.  But before I can start, I have to clean up my studio.  It’s a complete mess that has me blocked.  I’m also heading to Florida for a few days next month to collect more studies for this project.

Here's What Has Happened Since the Last Newsletter:


  • Best of Show: “Where Silas Sleeps” 14” x 24” oil on canvas panel.
  • 2 Purchase Awards
  • 5 of 6 paintings sold
  • Hosted by Seasons Gallery
  • Image: “Where Silas Sleeps” (sold)
plein air painting

UPTOWN ART FAIR, Minneapolis, MN

  • Three days—1st day was burning hot, 2nd day was raining, 3rd day was finally nice weather
  • 11 paintings sold
  • Met really cool people!
  • Uptown Art Fair
  • Image: booth shot from that weekend.

Battle Lake, MN

  • Sold 1 of 2 paintings
  • Hosted by Art of the Lakes Gallery
  •  Image: “Henning Skyline” (sold) – The Henning newspaper wrote a small article on me because I happened to setup right outside their office to paint this piece.


La Crosse, WI

  • Merit Award, “The Not So Muddy Mississippi”, 12″ x 12″. 
  • 3rd place Quick Paint, “Leaving Grand-dad’s”. 8″ x 12″.
  • 1 of 4 paintings sold
  •  Between the Bluffs Plein Air
  • Top Image: “The Not So Muddy Mississippi” (available)
  • Bottom Image: my quick paint setup with “Leaving Grand-dad’s” still on it. (available)

Dubuque, IA

  • 1st place Quick Paint, “Making Shot and Flattening Pennies”, 12″ x 12″.
  • 3 of 7 paintings sold
  • Bluffstrokes Plein Air
  • Image: “Making Shot and Flattening Pennies” (available)

Plymouth, WI.

  • Honorable Mention “Flutter, Hum, Buzz”, 12″ x 12″.
  • People’s Choice “Future WI Cheesemakers”
  • 2 of 5 paintings sold
  • Hosted by Plymouth Arts Center
  • Top Image: “Flutter Hum Buzz” (available)
  • Bottom Image: “Future WI Cheesemakers” (sold)
plein air viewing room button

Here is this fall’s artsy article:  Skin and Bones: What Value and Color Provide A Painting

Hope you have a wonderful winter.  Blessings to you!


roman bust of man

Idealism vs Realism – Are You Greek or Roman?

Idealism vs Realism – Are You Greek or Roman?

This blog post is really about the great debate between the Ancient Romans and Greeks regarding Idealism vs Realism. Random conversations with strangers while out plein air painting triggered these thoughts.

plein air painting

“Where Silas Sleeps”.          14”x24” oil on panel.          Available at Seasons Gallery, Hudson, WI.

I love it when people chat with me while I’m out plein air painting! (Well, as long as I’m not competing in a timed competition… but I digress). I was working on the above painting entitled “Where Silas Sleeps” at the overlook in Prospect Park, Hudson, WI when I had two memorable conversations.

The first interaction was an older lady who mentioned how the landscape would look better if the ugly power plant and bridge weren’t in the background.  She had a point, the landscape always looks better when it’s as pristine as the day it was created. However those particular features make this area a comfortable place to live. We hardly ever deal with power blackouts and the new bridge makes crossing the St. Croix River a breeze.  More likely, she was hinting that I shouldn’t include those features in my painting.  However, if they weren’t there, the painting would no longer be set in location because those distinctive anchor points would be missing.

A little bit later, a little girl dropped by with her grandpa and thought my painting would look better if I had included the large dead tree in the center foreground of the painting as it is in real life.  Even though the dead tree really is there now, I chose to leave it out of my piece because it would overwhelm and detract from the focal point, and will likely be gone soon anyway.  It’s also not needed to place the viewer in that location.

Neither of these opinions bothered me. In fact, I found them quite fascinating.  These conversations started me thinking about how these two opinions are at opposite ends of the spectrum in representational painting—idealism on one side and realism on the other.

What is Representational Painting?

Representational painting is painting a subject in a recognizable way.  While the piece of artwork doesn’t necessarily have to be realistic, it does have to be a scene that can be described with nouns.  In contrast, the opposite of representational painting is complete abstraction. A piece of art that can only be described with adjectives and adverbs.

Idealism vs Realism

The older lady valued idealism while the young girl valued realism.  This debate is as old as art itself.  In fact, the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures had their preferences as well.  Though they didn’t leave behind blog posts like this one so we could know what they thought, they did leave us their artwork for us to study and compare.  Not many Greek or Roman paintings remain through the centuries (other than the Roman frescoes of Pompeii). Yet we do have plenty of sculptures from each culture, so we are able to compare and contrast this form of art.

Ancient Greek Sculptures

greek man

As you can see, the Greek artists idealized the facial features of each sculpture to a point where every statue looks like they hired the same model—a young person with standard proportions and no distinguishable features.  The Greeks cared more about idealism—making sure the artwork fit the ideal beauty (what the culture determined it to be at that time), to the sacrifice of reality.

Ancient Roman Sculptures

roman bust of man
Marble portrait of the emperor Caracalla, A.D. 212–217 Roman, Severan Marble; H. 14 1/4 in. ( 36.2 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Samuel D. Lee Fund, 1940 (40.11.1a) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/253592

The Roman artists didn’t care if their models had a protruding forehead, large nose, or lots of wrinkles. They sculpted what they saw for likeness’ sake.  The Romans cared more about realism. Their artwork documented the good, the bad, and the ugly. While they wanted their piece to be beautiful, they cared more about reality than fitting a certain prescribed ideal.

Are You Greek or Roman?

Where do you fall on the idealism vs realism continuum?  If you were to stand at the Prospect Park Overlook and paint your own painting, would you include the distant power plant and bridge?  How about the dead tree in the foreground?  Do you prefer art that transports you to an ideal, utopian place of perfection?  Or do you prefer art that roots you to the reality that exists, with all its imperfections? In other words, are you more Greek or Roman?  Good thing there’s room for both!  

Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.