Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A larger floral watercolor progresses

Started last week, this larger watercolor is progressing. My goal is to capture the sparkle and vibrancy of the colors.  And I also plan to do something to make the background a little more interesting.   It is larger than many of my recent watercolors.  It measures 22 x 15". 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Coastal Water Sunset

Coastal Water Sunset, 6x4" watercolor on paper
©2015 Helen Read 
matted in white to fit an 8x10" frame
(Please add $10.00 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax.) 

This summer, I had the opportunity to see this sunset.  I visited a small island in the southeast. The colors and the contrast of light against dark were stunning!  Breath taking, really....
I can still hear the sounds of the night; crickets, frogs, the sound of the wind in the sea grass... and of course, a few insects buzzing.    This small painting is an eye catcher for its color and contrast!  It would make a bright spot in any room.  It is ready to send!

Monday, January 19, 2015

First marks!

A new idea - a new work in the works!! 

I don't know what kind of light in which I took the top picture!   It really is white watercolor paper! 
In the next picture, it looks more correct - and you can also see the size of this one next to the 18" ruler to the left. 
I'm interested in creating the flowers, of course, but also doing something interesting with the background. Its uncharted territory for me - so we shall see how it all comes together!  Experiments are always a bit risky and the unknown is predominant until the last few marks are made. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Wrapped in Cellophane

Candy Cane - 7 x 10.5" colored pencil on paper
©2014 Helen Read 

The last big project I have my drawing students do each semester is a colored pencil still life.  It is the culmination of the skills they've learned during the semester.  From a simple line drawing - to the skills of transferring a picture using a grid - to learning to shade with precision - to composition - to color theory - to finally the freehand drawing of a still life and "painting" with colored pencil.  While they were working on their drawings, I worked on this small one (when I wasn't helping them!)  
However, I was intrigued by the plastic wrapping as well as the candy.  Here's what came of it!  Lots of fun... and quite a challenge! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Reflecting on Goethe ~ Thoughts on Faith and Creating

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe,   1749-1832

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy – the chance to draw back.  Always ineffectiveness.
    Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth ~ the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans. The moment that one definitely commits one’s self  - then Providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.  Whatever you can do or dream you can – begin it! Boldness has genius, power,
and magic in it!” 

I recently came upon this quote from Goethe, and it found its way deeply into my mind as I turned this over and thought about it for the next few days.  As an artist, it resonated with me and hit at some of the areas where I continually struggle.  Here are some of my thoughts as I challenge myself regarding his statement of more than 200 years ago. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Same subject - 2 mediums

I've wanted to do this for awhile.... and today I did!  I wanted to show the same subject in a few different media, in order to show what a different presentation they would make.  Here is the proof! 
The same reference picture ...  one done in oil pastels and the other done in watercolor.  You can certainly see that they come from the same reference - however - the overall sense of the finished piece is quite different.   Interesting!  Both the media (and the technique required to use it) and the supports are completely different.  Predictably, the finished works look completely different! 

Along the Roadside,  7.5 x 7.5 oil pastel on illustration board
©2015  Helen Read
matted in white and ready to frame in a 12x12" frame
(please add $10.00 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax) 

Dappled Light - Roadway, 8x6" watercolor on Yupo
©2015 Helen Read 
matted in white and ready to frame in a 12 x 10" frame 
(Please add $12.00 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Finally, it is finished

Atop the Plateau,  20 x 24" Oil on canvas
©2014  Helen Read 
commissioned - SOLD

If you've been watching, this painting has taken some time to come together, but it is finally finished. 
It was commissioned and there was not any particular reference picture - but rather, a series of pictures to get the "idea" of what was wanted.  The person who commissioned it has been sent photos during the process to approve - and very soon, it will be sent off to its new home in New York.  
The paint is still drying - and it will need to be scanned on a large scanner.  Then, I will build a crate for it and it will be on its way!  
Its always exciting to create something that someone has envisioned, work with them through the process, and send off the final rendition for their home.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Wonder of Christmas

Nativity engraving by Gustave Dore

I've been thinking a lot this season about how amazing that 1st Christmas really was!   This engraving done several centuries ago, captures the atmosphere.  Mary and Joseph were ordinary people - going about life in a pretty ordinary way.  A shocking announcement brought about a shift in their lives of epic proportions.  And for the next 9 months they waited to see the promise!  No doubt a long and difficult wait - with many unkind thoughts and assumptions by those around them.  The shepherds, not the political leaders, were the first to hear the angelic announcement in the middle of the night .... ordinary people going about life in an ordinary way.  Their lives also forever changed by what they witnessed in the skies and then in the manger.  All of this, rather suddenly - unexpectedly really, in the midst of ordinary lives - particularly amazing because God had been silent for 4 centuries.  Nothing new from above... the world was waiting ~ sort of... maybe a lot of people thought the promise would never come.  Maybe they even wondered if there had really ever been a promise. And then --  this announcement in the night! 

But what an amazing thing!  God - known to these people as Almighty, Very Great, Creator, a God of past miracles and difficult laws - now he is showing Himself as a God of Love.  His gift was his own Son - Almighty God coming to live among us - as one of us.  Vulnerable. Completely weak - helpless, as any new baby is.   His trust in this young couple is astounding!  He sent His Son from a heart of love and longing to be connected to his creation - face to face!  Something He desired from the beginning of time - yet - impossible because of the fact of evil which had infiltrated creation from the start.   It was an impossible abyss for people to bridge - it could only be done by God Himself.  So, Jesus came that night in the form of a small baby... human yes - yet also the Son of God!   What great mystery.  And, from scripture we know that it was also in Jesus heart to come.  It was not a begrudging chore - but His desire, out of deep love, to be our rescuer! 

Rescue was needed!  By the people of that day - by the people of today.  God's plan of rescue, the only plan of rescue, was to allow Jesus to be the bearer of all that is unGod-like because it is a price too great for any of us to pay for ourselves, but not too great for the Son of God!  His plan of rescue only requires trust - trust that He is enough - that his gift is enough to satisfy the requirement.  He paid the ransom.   So, Christmas is the beginning of this daring plan of rescue.   Quietly, unobtrusively, the Son of God enters the world as a little baby - on a mission for the next 33 years - to rescue anyone who would wish to be rescued from life apart from Him, which is a life missing all the good that He wants to bestow and a certain judgment.  And instead, He promises Life!   Fully and forever - forgiven and accepted.  

So,  Merry Christmas!
May the deepest meanings of this season find their way into your heart
and allow you to celebrate with great joy! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Landscape Commission - last few brushstrokes!

Landscape Commission (still deciding on a title)
20 x 26" Oil on Canvas 
©2014 Helen Read 

Other than a few final touches, which I'll make in a week or so when this is dry - and I'll have a scan made.... this one is ready to ship!   It will be going to New York.  It was quite a lot of work.  There was no 1 reference photo. In fact, there were almost a dozen!  
Its nice to have it mostly finished. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Highlights from my studio

The Christmas Holiday is upon us... then, just afterward is the New Year.
Wow, where did 2014 go? 

From my studio, here are some of where my time was spent.  
Of course, I'm not full time in my studio ~ teaching high school is my full time job. But consistent and frequent studio time is very important (as well as time working on matting, framing, and marketing are also part of the mix!)

Changing Seasons, abstract - acrylic on paper (22 x 15")

The Red Door, small pen/ink/watercolor landscape

Three Sisters, watercolor on Yupo 

Descanso Iris, watercolor on paper  (prints available)

Greenhouse Blooms,  watercolor on Yupo

First Breath of Spring, Oil pastel on illustration board

Country Pathway,  oil pastel on illustration board

Cellular Abstract, 15 x 22" acrylic on paper

The Edge of the Garden, Oil on canvas

These 5 paintings were sold to NBC studios for sets on Chicago Fire and Chicago PD - TV series

Callas at Sunrise, Oil on canvas

Hibiscus Bloom, watercolor on paper

Swedish Birches, oil pastel on illustration board

Autumn Colors, watercolor on Yupo

Sunflower drawing -- sold as tattoo art to a blog reader in England!  

Some of these works have sold, some are still quite available!  To see all that may be available from my studio please visit this link

And of course, I've been working on a commission this fall, which is larger and rather complex.  Here is its current state of being.... very soon to be finished! 
 Oil on canvas

Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

December - glitter and bows

colored pencil on black drawing paper
©Helen Read 

I'm sure I'm not alone!  December is extraordinarily busy!   I've been busy with all the typical December things - and getting my students ready for final exams and finalizing their last projects of the semester.  I've also been busy with the commission I've been diligently working on. 
And then, of course, family things - work events - celebrations....  
well... lots going on! 

But, what a wonderful time of year!  Celebration is in the air. 
I hope you take some time to reflect on the Reason we stop to celebrate! 
Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Landscape commission

Its been awhile since I posted my progress on this painting.  It is coming along and nearing completion... The color, here, is a little too intense due to the artificial light and my limited photo capabilities tonight.  I should have it finished soon and will post again before shipping it across the country to its new home. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Happy Thanksgiving!from my studio to you....
May this season find you enjoying family and friends. And may you remember many good things in this year past, for which you can truly give thanks!
Apples on Damask,  6 x 12" Oil on canvas
©2010, Helen Read 
 Ready to Frame

Light, shadows ... shiny fabrics.  This painting presented a challenge.  The white on white weave of the fabric and the way the light played on it required close observation and attention to detail.  This will make a colorful and interesting addition to a kitchen or dining room.  Let me send it to you!
It is ready to frame. 
(Please add $20.00 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax.)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Barely there.... The last of fall

Barely There, 10x8" oil on canvas
©Helen Read

Framed in a simple black frame (see below) and comes ready to hang! 
(Please add $20.00 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax.)

Fall leaves are almost completely fallen here now.  We've actually had very wintery weather in the midst of November.... its come a little early.  This painting captures the last clinging leaves and the lovely colors that remain.  It is framed and ready to mail out!   The perfect, unique gift for the coming season!  It can be in your hands in just a few days! 

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