Outsiders seldom understand the curious amalgam of artists, galleries, misfits and hangers-on known as the Santa Fe Art Scene. In this collection of stories, we witness a group of Santa Fe painters confronting their art and life in creative ways, solving the ages-old problems of painting the perfect canvas, making that obstinate muse smile. Julia Brownell is a patrician beauty whose exhibition of gold-leafed paintings sells out on its opening night and creates an envious discord among her peers. As Parsley Tiddle approaches the end of his creative life, he will not give up his randy ways, to the delight of his younger friends and the wrath of his socialite sister. The narrator of the title story jeopardizes his friendship with Donald Strether, a painter of small abstractions and a devoted rascal, by his disclosures to the guests at a summer luncheon party in the foothills. Robert Fenwick, a New Mexico plein air painter of note, discovers that a commission for landscapes of the Barbados cane fields is a more upside-down proposition than he bargained for. There is a keen sense of irony and suitable punishment for the crime in Atwill's stories, light-hearted views of the obstacles and the ever-present challenges to making a living from art. Several of the stories are concerned with goings-on in the studio of Alabaster Prynne, a wellborn, Philadelphia spinster, now in spattered coveralls, who befriends artists fresh from school and offers them her encouragement and cautions. The sprawling compound of adobe studios called Casa Marchment is the setting for a tale of earnest, untried artists as they find out that all is not what it appears in the estate of Victor Marchment, a brilliant landscape painter from the early years. Each story contains the secret to a Santa Fe painter, facing craft and life, and how he or she confounds the conventional view of what it is to be an artist. DOUGLAS ATWILL was born in Pasadena, California, earned a BA from the University of Texas at Austin and he served in the Army Counterintelligence Corps. After a long sojourn on a Piedmont cattle farm in Virginia and on the move throughout Europe, he settled in Santa Fe to pursue painting full-time. From a studio on Canyon Road, he paints landscapes and paintings of his own gardens. His work is shown in galleries throughout the West. Atwill's avocation of restoring adobe houses and building them anew has earned him a reputation for excellence in taste and design, and his houses have been featured in many magazines and books. This is his first collection of short stories.