Thursday, January 19, 2017

Winter Blooms

Winter Blooms,  8x10" Oil on canvas panel
©2017  Helen Read 

(Ready to frame)
(Please add $20 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax) 

Winter is unrelenting.  Gray, cold... the colors of our world seem to recede, which is why a painting of vibrantly colorful flowers seemed like just the thing to paint (especially, when weather does not permit getting out to paint landscapes!)   This color filled painting in warm tones of red, peach & yellow is ready to ship and hang!   Let me send you a little spring time this winter!   

Saturday, January 14, 2017

January's Blooms ~ still in progress

If you look backwards a couple posts, you'll see the beginning of this painting .  It's still
not completed, but I'm making progress. 

It's been quite awhile since I've done a floral still life - and it's interesting to me that even though I've done many florals, it feels a little rusty on this genre.   Nevertheless - these are joyful blooms and that's just what is needed in this bleakly cold time of year!  

I will be posting the finished work soon!
And, I'm already thinking about my next landscape...  I miss the beauty of bigger vistas, I think! 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

3 Sisters

Three Sisters,  4.5 x 6.5" Watercolor on Yupo Paper
matted in white and ready to frame in a 10x12" frame 

$48.00(Please add $10 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax) 

This lovely painting and many others are available in my Etsy Shop
priced at great prices!  

Several years ago, I visited one of my favorite gardens in the US ~ Descanso Gardens in California.  What an inspiration!  On this particular morning, shortly after a short morning rain shower, the white lilies were turning their faces to the sun with a few rain drops still remaining.  So lovely!      In fact, several paintings came from that visit.  This one is done on Yupo paper, which give such interesting effects.  I love how the paint pools and blends in an almost abstract way, just as the rain drops left their trails on the flowers.   

I'd love to send this painting to it's new home.  Perhaps you have just the perfect spot for it! 


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Oh... bleak January.

We are in need of warmth and color!  

... and flowers! 

I've just started a new painting - this time a floral.  It's been awhile since I've worked with florals, yet they remain an interesting subject.    At the top, you see a value study.  I actually began with some thumbnail sketches - and then created a value study from the one I decided to use. 
The lower image is an oil sketch - showing the general shapes and values.  
 I'll post my progress soon!  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Looking Back - Thinking Ahead

What a busy year it has been!  
From tattoo designs to packaging designs to developing my landscape repertoire... my year has been varied and interesting and actually quite productive. 

You can see from the images above that I've concentrated almost entirely on landscape painting this year. 
I've wondered what it is about painting the landscape that is so inviting to me.  And I think it is where I so easily see the handiwork of God - I see much about His character - I see the intricacies and the care with which He has created and sustains His creation.... and this is where my spirit feels such a deep connection.  Perhaps that is inborn - I'm certain it has much to do with being raised in the rural and beautiful southwest - or perhaps that is just where I sense His presence very easily.   Whatever the reasons, my heart is stirred by a beautiful sunset, or the quiet flow of water, or a field in bloom and these are the things that find their way onto my canvases. 

What else has been notable this year? 
It was a completely unexpected surprise to be contacted by a design firm in San Francisco this past summer - they were interested in using one of my colored pencil drawings for a "coffee company" on the west coast.   While we were in discussion I only knew that it was not a start-up company, but well established.  They were interested in using my design for packaging, and perhaps other uses such as on menus, etc.   It was pretty exciting when I found out that the company who bought my work was Peet's Coffee.  At this time, all I know is that my work will be used on their People and Planet product - and that production has begun.  I'm looking forward to seeing it in use soon - the art they purchased is seen above ~ the green leaf in the center of the collection. 
I also worked larger again this year.  The largest painting that came from my studio measures 2 ft x 3 ft.  It's a different kind of challenge than working small.  Another milestone was putting together an individual exhibit of 11 landscape works, which I called Prayers from the Field.  Along with the paintings, I included personal reflections in the form of short prayers.  I have long hoped to be able to use my visual work as a means of worship and this was a great opportunity to realize that goal.  

.... and....I continue to teach high school full time.  This year, I have taught a variety of  Drawing classes (both entry level and second level), Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design (also entry level and advanced levels) and Interior Design.  This year I began my 15th year at Wheaton North High School.  I have also thought quite a lot about how to bring my teaching experience out of the classroom and make it available to people near and far.  I'm still developing that idea, but I think there's great possibilities with that idea!  

I hope that 2016 has been a year of great milestones and interesting adventures for you.   I'm reminded of the blessings this time of year brings: the wonder of Christmas with a small Savior coming into this world on my behalf, the beauty of artistic expressions of that wonder,  the delight of being with family and friends  to celebrate and reflect, and a short time of rest from the regular schedule. 
Wishing you peace and joy now and a blessed 2017 ahead. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

An Autumn Duo

Glowing Light I,  11x14" Oil on Linen Panel
©2016 Helen Read 
Ready to Frame
(Please add $20 shipping in the US,  IL residents, please add 8% sales tax) 

 Glowing Light II,  11x14" Oil on Linen Panel
©2016 Helen Read
Ready to Frame
(Please add $20 shipping in the US,  IL residents, please add 8% sales tax) 

For the purchased of both paintings as a diptych as shown below,
($90 saving)
(Please add $20 shipping in the US,  IL residents, please add 8% sales tax) 

(To purchase BOTH paintings as a set, use this button)

These two paintings tell a story...
of  beautiful glowing light filtering through leaves just beginning to turn the colors of fall. 
This is a story of seasons - of reflections - of light and the glory of color. 
I was particularly captivated by how the colors seemed to glow and melt into one another.  Much remains green in northern IL as fall begins.  Leaves are still clothing the branches which will soon be bare, and colors of gold and red are beginning to show themselves.
There's beauty in every season, but autumn has a special kind of beauty. 

Leave a comment -  what are your favorite moments of autumn? 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A few final touches until these are done

I've been working on these 2 for most of November... 
The beauty and magic of the autumn sun filtering through leaves just beginning to turn their variegated shades is what captivated my attention,  and as if that weren't enough - it was all reflected back again in the calm water!  

Each of these 2 stands alone as a fall landscape painting. 
Each measures 11x14", oil on a linen panel

But they also create a panoramic view when placed together, which is why I painted them simultaneously!
I've placed them side by side here for a clearer view,
although the photography shows a difference in color where they meet...
But that's only my limited photography in not very good lighting.

As soon as these are completely finished, I'll take photos that are true and post the finished work.

As I look at the nearly finished work, 1 thought comes to mind:
It's a celebration of Autumn in 2 parts!
Perhaps this thought will help me with a title! 
Leave your thoughts about that, if you have a great title idea! 

Friday, November 25, 2016

25% Discount for just a few days!

Now! Through Monday...

Visit my Etsy Shop and take 25% off your purchase.  

Just a small sampling of what you will find when you visit my Etsy Shop.

That's right!  I've stocked my shop with 26 paintings
and by using this code  NOV2528
you can receive 25% off your whole purchase.  

Here's the link!

What a great opportunity with Christmas just around the corner.
But visit soon - this opportunity will end on Monday and sales are being made! 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Glowing Light

In my last post I showed what I'd done for the under painting... 
And now, the painting has begun. 

This is still a work in progress - and in it's duel size (11x28") it's bigger than it seems.  I'm working on both parts simultaneously in order to achieve continuity.  This could be seen as 1 painting, but they are both separate - distinct from one another.  

What I'm working to achieve here, is that mysterious glowing light that was sifting through the trees, turning everything an interesting violet-red with colors of yellow and green still quite noticeable.  And of course all of that was reflected in the still water of the pond.  One of those moments of lovely light that happens in the fall.  
It's moments like this that calm my busy life - and remind me of a Holy Presence. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


As busy as it has been, my work has begun on this 2 part painting (diptych) I've gotten the underpainting done and started laying in some values of the darker range.  Each of these measures 11x14", so a total of 11x28".

As I've been getting deeper into this piece, I'm particularly intrigued by the beautiful reflections in the water, as well as the subtle color changes in the fall foliage.   Such tranquil beauty!   

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Beautiful Mystery

Beautiful Mystery

Last week, on a visit to a nearby forest area, as the sun was sinking low in the west, it lit up the landscape with a beautiful mysterious golden light that also brought out the lavenders in the tree tops. 
It was indeed breath taking. 
And the watery reflections were another element made more mysterious by the light. 
I was able to capture it and make several thumbnail sketches. 

How can paint do justice to this beauty? 
How can paint capture the glory of golden light and its effects? 

Such moments are reminders that as artists we only attempt to interpret the glory of God's creation. 
He is the Master Artist. 

These are the first steps in the process of a new work, which I believe will be a diptych: 
1.  See the beauty and absorb it
2. Sketch it - trying to grasp its grandeur
3.  Find wonder and delight in observing and recording it

Saturday, October 22, 2016

What Inspires You?

What beauty awaits the patient eye.
Quiet wandering ~ observation ~ a listening ear.

Taking time in a busy day to slow down, to visit the world of Creation, 
to allow the path to lead along twists and turns.

Inspiration can be found in the soft ripple,
a burst of color, 
the call of a bird

As the sun filters between the leaves and gives a last golden glow, 
inspiration is born
and I imagine what my paint brush might produce 

What inspires you?  How will you interpret beauty? 
This is the perpetual question the artist must answer!  
To absorb, to breathe in the colors and shapes and movement of the natural world,
to edit it, to rearrange it when needed, and to maintain its qualities of wonder.
To capture beauty and interpret it in colorful strokes of pigment. 

Leave a reply below ~ what is it that inspires your artist's spirit? 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Changing Seasons - Seasons of Change

It is a gray, rain drenched morning- easy to think of staying in bed - of hibernating another few hours.  But.... there is beauty to be found, and even on this gray day - the Creator's whispers to be heard for attentive ears.  

Moments to savor this morning:  A cup of tea, warm pumpkin muffins (with chocolate chips - because everything is better with chocolate!), butter, of course! And a journal of Grace Notes ...a chronicle of small (easily missed) moments of grace given as gifts from the hands of God. 

What does this have to do with art, you may ask! 

Everything!!... Taking time to notice, to listen, to take wonder in, to give thanks for....all of this must be part of the artist's life and practice.  These are moments when wonder and joy inform our  hearts. When ideas take shape.  And when we begin to understand the love with which our world was created and is daily sustained. This is when we may hear the whispers of God when we take time to listen.

I have a small journal I've named Grace Notes for these  moments - and every time I add an entry, I am reminded how important this is and how easily in the daily demands of life it is to neglect to give thanks - or even to take notice of the small beauties of the world around me. 

On this fall day this is my entry: 

Falling Leaves

From green in its many shades and varieties, the colors change.
Green becomes yellow gold, or orange, or red. 
A blaze of rich beauty burning brightly. 
And then the mantle of color drops or is swept by the wind to carpet the earth.
A final generosity before all is bare and winter's chill sets in. 
Fall is a flourish...of color - bright and beautiful, gracing our steps.  


So, even in seasons of change, how delightful it is to notice beauty and give thanks for our Creator's small gifts. These things represent and reflect who He is.    I, too, sense I'm in a season of change. So,  I'm looking for small beauties and lovely reminders that I'm being graced by His kind and loving Presence. 

Take a moment and notice!  Leave a comment below to tell me what you have discovered! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sunflower Trilogy

Sunflower Trilogy - Tiny Triptych
5x17" (the 3 combined)  Oil on canvas
©Helen Read


This is a Throwback Thursday Post!
These 3 have been on a long term loan and now are back with me.   
I love sunflowers!
First of all, they remind me of summer - and I love summer!

But I also love their shape and their habit - sun followers - sun reflectors! 

Have you ever seen a field of sunflowers with the sun setting behind them? 
Beautiful ~ golden glory. 

I would love to send a bit of summer to you! 

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