My life of "real" work leaves very little time for quiet sunlit mornings spent in good company, enjoying simple pleasures like home-baked muffins, tea, and fresh flowers... *sigh*. What makes art so magical is that those moments can be created in spirit, not only for the artist but for the viewer as well. A painting draws us into the moment in a way that even a magazine photo can't. The touch of hand-to-brush-to-paper is intimately personal and inviting, like the almost lost art of handwriting. So come join me in a moment of warm sunlight, golden yellows and fresh periwinkle blues. Then bake up a batch of blueberry muffins and create your own magic!
"Golden Moment" is available. 19x22"
The flowers for Sarah's wedding were not only arranged lovingly by hand, they were grown from seed. Seeds selected, dropped into carefully prepared soil, diligently watered and protected from choking weeds by Sarah's parents. The parallel to raising the lovely bride is clearly sensed.
That is why a photograph of the wedding flowers can only capture a part of the experience. These bouquets need a hand-touched rendering to fully capture the essence of what they are all about. I'm so glad that Sarah's parents thought of that!
Two more little wedding paintings will follow...
Colors of Fall is available. Contact me for pricing.
This year's palette is beginning with soft gold-yellow and lavendar-pink against deep basic greens. Yosemite has put on the current look, again tugging at my heart in a sweet, indescribable ache. My husband and I spent yesterday afternoon riding bikes in Yosemite after the Labor Day crowds had waved good-bye to the madness of summer in the Valley. You could almost hear the exhalation of relief as Indian Summer moved gently through the grasses and trees.
Yellow Dress, 11x13", is available. Contact me for pricing.
12x15" includes a hand-painted mat
Available (contact me)
Berry season is short and sweet, and provides one of the homiest adventures summer has to offer, proving once again that it's the small things in life that provide our greatest joys.
Anyone have a favorite berry recipe to share? I'd love an excuse to go out and gather.
(Treasure Hunt is available)
I don't know what to expect from changes ahead, but expectations are usually what motivate us to move forward. I have learned what I can solidly bank on, what I can firmly expect to be reliable, and that is God's moment by moment leading in my life. I'm no longer a "God helps those who help themselves" person; it has taken most of my life to unlearn helping myself. I'm now a watcher, listener, a follower. There is no better surface preparation for new experiences, surprising opportunities, challenges, and growth.
I still don't know what my next paining is going to look like, but this morning I chose the support it will be painted on. I've applied two layers of white gesso, one with a texture added to it. The surface is now fresh and clean, ready to receive color, form, shape, line... art-vocabulary to speak something new into existence. A bit like my life--or perhaps your's as well. Here's to the unknown!
|"Peace I give to you..."|
I first began the near daily practice of watercolor painting when I was working full-time as a school teacher. I looked forward to several hours an evening spent painting at a little table in our family room. I could talk with my husband, watch TV, or listen to music, while creating little worlds of whimsical characters, animals, gardens, and home life.
That was before children began filling that life with much of the magic I was painting from imagination. They became new material, fresh subject matter for the painting hours I would desperately try to cling to. As a stay-at-home mom, I learned to paint between the distractions and demands of daily living. I continued to paint as my children grew...
My life has been Artist-Between-Mom-and-Other-Roles for over twenty five years. More recently I have had the luxury of undisturbed painting hours in an actual studio and I've grown in technical skill as a result. I love what I do, but there is something missing in my life. So I have taken a job as a secretary for the small ten-grade school my youngest son attends. I'm anxious for challenge and an opportunity to serve. I look forward to an actual, predictable paycheck. And I know that my days will be filled with new inspiration: the magic of children.
I like the Squeeze-it-in approach to painting. I think I did some of my best work, art from a heart response, when I had less formal time to do it. I want a life that is full of giving, teaching and sharing so that I will produce paintings that have the same essence.
There will be fewer paintings completed and I may hang on to more of them for my own enjoyment, but I hope you will join me in looking forward. Let's find out what Life will have to illustrate next...
I think there are times when life just needs to stop-- not at a dead end but at rest. What would happen if you just stopped doing what you've been doing for years? I don't consider myself anywhere near retirement age; besides, an artist doesn't "retire" from making art, just like a mother doesn't leave the job of being a mom. But both come to places of change in life, transitional periods calling for a re-evaluation of how time is used. My life as an artist is about to take a turn onto a road once traveled years ago: I'm going back to "real" work... you know, the kind with a starting time, quitting time, and a paycheck. My biggest fear is the loss of painting time but before I became a stay-at-home mom, I painted prolifically while working at a full-time-plus job. It was my joy to sit down at my art table for the evening and paint late into the night. That's not going to happen these days, but I think that making the choice to paint during off-hours will be powerful. I don't see going back to work as a dead end for painting but as an opportunity to get back to painting as a daily vacation. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this approach to art work, both in number of paintings and in subject matter. I start in a few weeks so stay tuned for some changes...
This weekend I participated in a still-life workshop, given by Jeanette Jones. Jeanette has a distinctive way of placing things so they look as if they were set there without much thought. A few simple, beautiful objects, gathered for their color, shape, or texture, placed in an inviting grouping, have a powerful allure. Jeanette set up several vignettes around the garden of one of my favorite locations, Milfiori, demonstrated the beginning stages of a painting and encouraged her viewers to start their still-life paintings.
Still-life. I love the sound of this term. An artist arranges objects in a desired way and paints them while they sit quietly, cooperating in the process of creating beauty that can be shared. I wish life would sit still for me more often! Or is it me that doesn't sit still?
Engaging in the process of still-life painting made me realize that I have to stay put, keeping at it if I'm going to have the result I want in a painting. That's true for any project, but these set-ups were outside where the lighting frequently changes, breezes blow, and--as we found this weekend-- rains come down. The only way to capture the moment is to be in the moment. Working from a photograph in the studio will result in a more "finished" look, but the spontaneity of plein-air has a fresh look that allows the viewer to feel the moment as well.
So I have to be there, seeing, breathing, hearing, experiencing the setting as well as the subject if I want to share that experience with you. It has to be real to me for it to be meaningful at all to you. Sounds like something to apply to other areas of life as well, perhaps most especially to my walk with Jesus. I want to spend still-life hours in His presence, hearing, feeling, breathing, living its reality. Then I want to find ways to paint it for you!
Yesterday I joined I couple of friends for a late-afternoon fitness walk, our route leading us through neighborhoods of charming old houses nestled in glorious spring greens popping with pink and white blossoms. Pure heaven. But it wasn't until we stopped talking long enough to hear birds that the full impact of Spring hit. A series of particularly cheerful notes floated down from the overhead branches and my friend commented that we were listening to the song that a robin sings only in the spring. We listened, enchanted by the thought that this was a "limited edition" performance.
This morning when I began work, I turned the radio on. The program that was underway featured a renowned scientist explaining the latest NASA finds confirming the evolution of life from single-cell lifeforms. The approving interviewer asked if, with this understanding, science could now create life from non-living elements. The guest replied that for some reason bringing life still eludes them.
Tonight's amazing sunset-- periwinkle in one direction, peachy-rose in the other-- joins with the Spring song in giving glory to the one true Creator. We are loved and nurtured and cared for... and science will never duplicate that!
Sounds like a life lesson to me... If my foundational thinking is optimistic and thankful, it will influence all my circumstances. I'd like to be able to say "Yeah, that's me!" but actually I was reminded of this principle by my neighbor. He's a youngish man who has been in a wheelchair for about ten years following a car accident. Every time I get a chance to talk to him, he announces that his happiness is so deep and rich and real that it scares him. He can't imagine getting any happier but every day is better than the one before. He sits in the sun, in his wheelchair, reading his Bible-- a habit he began three years into his journey as paraplegic. God is his source of joy, his underpainting. I have never seen such a powerful, long-lasting testimony. He's been spreading his praises for years, praises that began after the circumstances of life left him with apparently little to be joyful about. What power the presence of God has to change lives!
As a Christian I find strength and assurance in my faith in the trustworthiness of a God that I can't see, even when I have to struggle to stand firmly on that faith. I wish the struggle weren't so often; I wish unquestioning faith flowed naturally and consistently and effortlessly into my reasoning. But the truth is that I often have to fall on my face and beg for it, sometimes for days. Some may think that a God Who requires such exertion isn't worth it, but I find soundness and solidity in the fact that I can pour my uncertainty out before Him, emptying the contents of my heart for as long as needed to reach stillness. I have learned from experience that His refilling is certain, the fresh contents of peace replacing stale, ineffective thinking. New wine pours into a fresh wineskin of renewed faith. (Mark 2:22).
This is when I am surprised by the affect of God's hand in the form of human interaction bringing the touch of hope. Through encouraging words, an unexpected smile, an act of selflessness, I experience God. He makes Himself visible by moving in and out of lives, causing us to touch each other in ways that are elevating, and uplifting. He chooses to relieve human pain through human interaction, which is often the cause of pain in the first place. God uses us to bring relief and even healing to each other. My renewed faith can start a chain-reaction of faith-building in others-- and I may never know it happened! I'm sure that the woman who spoke encouragement to me this morning will never know that I'm writing about that encounter now.
Visual illustration is emotionally powerful. I'm so glad that I've been given a "snapshot" of the importance of small encounters on the human spirit. The places we go, the homes we live in, all that makes life worthwhile are given meaning because of the relationships associated with them. We are the body of Christ, His chosen medium in which to work for our renewal.
I've done a few paintings with realistic rabbits, but the stuffed, carved, ceramic, clay, or fabric bunnies seem to help me say something about life. Their faces are expressive, almost alive with personality. Rabbits take on human characteristics in a believable way; they wear clothes well or can be seen comfortably without clothes at all. Hats with holes for ears add charm, shoes that accommodate oversized feet bring a smile. Through the years of rabbit-painting, I've become attached. I think it may be rabbits that pull me continually back into the whimsical realm, keeping me from ever stepping completely away from that quality in my work.
I want to always grow in fine art skills, painting landscapes, houses, gardens and natures's loveliness, but my silent audience is there, reminding me not to take myself, my art, or life too seriously!
|My Audience and Inspiration|
No pity needed, just an understanding of the challenges to being true to oneself. I've been painting professionally for over 25 years and I'm not sure what comes next. Kind of like raising kids, you get to a place of needing to adjust your approach. Only with kids, you have to learn to back off; with art, there comes a time to push forward. That time is just around the corner for me... I'm just not sure which corner. (I'm still wondering if I'm on the right road!)
I'll set my book project aside for a little bit and do some new light-hearted work, maybe in a fresh new medium, just for my own little audience, just for me. Then we'll see What's Next?!
But treasure is found as my winter-loving primroses have come to life despite the fog of leaves. The color-constrast is striking against a backdrop of dark neutrals, and small buds promise more to come soon. They are a symbol of hope for my garden-to-be, the promise of seasonal cycles and the life they bring.
Hope. It's there under the dulling cover of world events: Egypt; massive winter oppression covering half our country; poverty, addiction, and homelessness just down the street; fear and uncertainty in unemployment. We can't get away from harsh realities but we can choose our focus. We can choose to use the rake on our thoughts, to uncover the many positives and gifts daily displayed in small---or not so small, packages. Step outside at sunset and be wrapped in unearthly color; look in a child's expressive eyes; breathe the essence of a freshly-peeled orange; look for primrose buds. Or cheer for your team!
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32) The kingdom of God illustrated in primroses...
This morning was one of those can't-make-him-happy occasions. Fortunately my mind was in a teachable place and I began to see a parallel between my cat and myself as an artist! I am driven by the moment. I sit down to work with a goal in mind, a project to focus on, self-discipline kicked in. And then, suddenly the clouds part, sun streams in the windows of my studio and I can't resist its effects. If it's warm, I want to go out and paint what I see; if the day is cold, I want to paint something fresh, vibrant, sunny --- reactive --- right there, inside ant my easel. In other words, I want to claim that moment as my own, making the most of what has just been handed to me. I want to live life to it's most beautiful and express the journey to others.
Maybe cats are live-for-the-moment savvy. "I want in... I want out..." I want the most I can get from God's simple gift of "moments"; I think I'll be a bit more patient with one who meows for it.
I've put the final touches on one of my biggest assignments in recent years-- Foothill Pediatric Clinic. This project was a step back for me. Not back in importance or value, but back to the beginning of my free-lance career as an artist. I first started painting whimsical watercolors in the 1980's when cute was big: cute geese, farm animals, and primitive doll characters (remember?!). It wasn't long before people began asking for these subjects on walls themselves. It was the peak of the "overdone" era and painted borders, murals, and wall accents gained popularity as printed wallpapers-- which were everywhere-- had their limits. People wanted the look but wanted it custom.
I’m taking a break from sit-down-and-paint projects for a while. My kids are home and of course there’s Christmas to do. There is one big project outside of home and family that I’m spending some time on: the walls of our county pediatric clinic. Until recently, the precious patients who are treated here have faced clean, white, but very stark rooms. My pediatrician friend Jennifer had the vision to bring life to these walls and I’ve been pulled right in. It is my goal to bring delight and comfort to these small-scale patients and their adult companions who might be nervous or anxious.
It’s interesting that it was a tiny baby who was sent to bring comfort and certainty to you and to me. Merriest Christmas!
It's been a while since I have taken the time to work with my blog and I've missed it! I have been posting thoughts about recent paintings on Facebook, but it isn't the same "platform". I feel I have to keep thoughts condensed, requiring minimal time to read as FB seems more like a "checking -in" process for most people. But it's also the best way to connect people with my art and like it or not, that is important in order to have the audience that an artist needs to be inspired to keep working. Connection with people provides purpose to making art. I'd like to believe that I paint for myself, but I think that God has created us to be givers, to be blessed by sharing, to be enriched by receiving what others give.
"Enter Loveliness"... Just like the front door of a house invites you to enter whatever is going on inside, a painting can invite you to enter a mood, an emotion, a new way if seeing. Late in this not-too-hot summer, the farmhouse at Milfiori is embraced by green. So much growth has taken place over the warm months that it's hard to see much of the house. Usually this overabundance of green leaves me hungry for color variety. Greens are hard to paint in an interesting way and too much of it in a painting can limit where that painting can fit into someone's home. But this is a moment in time when the lighting handed me a breath-catching peek at the choreography of a yellow house and the yellow-greens, lavenders, and blue-greens dancing with it. The result is almost monochromatic, soft, restful...summer morning at its best. I love how art can capture that moment, inviting you to enter at any time.
I grew up in Modesto, CA, so my standard for summer peaches is very high. Back in those days the "rule" was that you could walk into an orchard and pick as many peaches as you could carry in your hands. The orchards surrounding our house grew peaches so large that I could only carry three, maybe four at a time. I'd create a hide-away in the tall, cool grasses that grew at the base of the trees and usually eat the entire armload in one sweet afternoon. Nothing in the grocery store can come close. Even the fruit stands, though pretty wonderful, can't compare to the warm juiciness of a fresh-picked, fuzzy, softly-glowing perfect peach. Don't get me started on fresh apricots....
I can get so caught up in perfection-- and the resulting down slide of self-criticism. If
I thought I was the only one who struggles with it, I would sit quietly in the "back row" of life, keeping what I think is left of my dignity (a gentle word for Pride). The experience of painting can