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Sunday, December 30, 2007

On the horizon...


November Mist, 16 x 20" Oil on canvas covered board
(I'm not entirely happy with the photograph. The actual painting has a much wider range of value and color. Alas, this seems to be all I can get for right now!)

Please email me for specific information about price
studio_upstairs@hotmail.com

This painting is larger than my typical daily paintings which are usually 8x8" or less. I took reference photos near Thanksgiving... it had been a long stretch of very gray, foggy weather. I was taken with the overall effect of the barren trees lost in the misty fog, juxtaposed with the dry field grasses - rather wet at this time - but dried out and lifeless. There is a sort of mystery in such a day as things seem to blend together and then get lost in the low clouds and wet air.
It was after weeks and weeks of this kind of weather, that I decided I was probably feeling the affects of Seasonal Affective Disorder... or maybe everyone was! I know this - I missed the sunshine, blue skies, and warm weather! This painting is the result of so many drippy days.
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It is now time to think about goals and growth for a new year on the horizon. I've posted ways that I have grown this past year - but - where do I hope to go? I've heard it said many times, if you don't know where you are going, that's probably just where you will end up - nowhere.
Growth - artistically and creatively, as well as developing what I do into a viable opportunity for increased income; these are the things I have targeted for my art in 2008.

There are some daunting aspects of growth - developing markets, publicity, advertising, thinking outside the box in terms of business ... I'll be the first to say, these things do not come naturally to me - and most of the time, they feel awkward. Honestly, I've spent a lot of time avoiding these issues, but in 2008, I want to overcome those obstacles and make these things feel more comfortable. In another area, I'm sometimes too non-descript about my artistic focus. In some ways, that isn't all bad - but I think it will be useful to try to plan out a general direction for my art and then try to reevaluate that within a few months and decide if I actually am on the right track. Finally, I want to continue to let my "self" be revealed through my work. There is something about that idea that makes my work completely individual and personal ... which is true of each of us. Too often, I don't see that as an especially valuable quality, but I think I should! So there you have it, in general terms - my 2008 artistic goals.
I am trying to be much more specific with daily, weekly, monthly (and beyond) goals and action plans, which I won't detail here. Again, the old adage comes to mind... without a plan I think I can expect to be in the same place year after year. Personally, that sounds boring! I need to continue to create new paths!

Happy New Year! Lets move forward, experiment, learn ... grow! I want 2008 to be an exciting year!


Thursday, December 27, 2007

At play!


Cats at Play! 9 x 11" Watercolor and Ink

Its back to cats again! I wanted to try to do a composition using several cats, brightly colored. Compositions using several different objects can be tricky... its important to keep the eye moving through the picture and balance colors and shapes without creating monotony. These are quirky and fun... Who knows what I'll do with this collection!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A different look at Christmas


The Lord Speaks (mixed media on paper)

I've been thinking about Christmas in a different way this year - I've been thinking about it's mystery and the amazing impact it has had on time and eternity. Let me explain what I mean; there are some deeper, more profound meanings to our wonderful winter time celebration. Thinking about these things has deepened my experience of Christmas this year.

Christmas is not a stand-alone event in time - just a beautiful moment of a special baby's birth.
Rather Christmas is the proof of a promise truly kept by a God with a true and trustworthy heart. God had created the world and everything in it to be good ... without the contamination of evil. That all changed in Eden - and the entire world and everyone in it had been on a collision course with destruction as a result. Evil is pervasive, and it has touched everyone of us. But, there is a great story of redemption afoot. A plan conceived by the heart of a loving God - to rescue and reclaim the people of his creation - if they would have him. We are a people who love stories of redemption ... whether they be stories in great books, or movies, or true accounts. Christmas is the greatest of those stories.

That first Christmas, was the beginning of an obscure and stealthy rescue operation - where God himself (in the person of Jesus) stepped into human history in the middle of the night - disguised as a newborn baby - vulnerable, helpless, weak. Only a few knew, at the time, because the angels who had attended him from the beginning of time could not keep silent. They announced his coming in the quiet moments of the night in a sheep's pasture with a sudden angelic song. The audience was the simplest of common folk, sheep herders - those who would listen and hear and be overjoyed. Terrified, of course - who wouldn't be - but a safe audience, and one who would believe.

The enemy was at work though - threatened ... unsure of the exact plan. In a wide-sweeping attempt to halt this astounding plan of redemption - all baby boys are killed. The land becomes one of mourning. But, slipping away in the night - Joseph is quick to respond to an angel's warning and he shelters God's Promise, protects God's plan of redemption, preserves his family of 3.

Jesus, the son of God - himself God - lived among us, as one of us - ate like us; walked and talked like us; laughed and cried with us... for a short life time. Taking up life in its fullness in order to lay it down for us - trading his life for ours. Redeeming us - buying back his most dear treasure (our spirits, our very souls.) The simple requirement is to acknowledge that a gift is being given and to accept it with a thankful heart. God, the loving Giver, offers that gift to each of us and waits hopefully for each of us - you and me - to receive it.

This story is much bigger than Christmas Day - it spans all of time, and into the time beyond time. This Christmas morning, as we mark the moment God stepped into history as one of us - I'm thinking beyond this day, and all its wonderful traditions, and I'm thankful for all its mystery and implications. I am thankful for a Savior who loves us enough to come on a daring rescue operation to restore our souls.

You can read the account of Christmas in the New Testament scriptures of Matthew (1st and 2nd chapters) and Luke (1st and 2nd chapters). The story is continued through the rest of the New Testament books - of course, the beginning of the story starts in Genesis in the Old Testament.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The year in retrospect, part 4


More small paintings from the Fall 2007

Click here for more information or availability of any of these paintings

This is my concluding retrospective grouping. Summing up - I see progress in several major areas. I've already spoken about some of my inner growth, but artistically - I see myself having grown in these ways: First, by having a commitment and a measure of accountability, I am working daily. It is no longer an idea bubbling on the back burner, but the ideas are getting worked through on my easel day by day! I think I've been more intentional about composition and I've become more fluent in color mixing and color expression. Also, I've become more adventurous. That sounds ridiculous, perhaps - but I mean by that, I am more willing to take some risks, knowing I don't know whether I'll like the outcome or not. Experimentation, I guess.

Once my daughter and I were at a river walk art show near by, and one of the artists gave her such a simple but outstanding piece of advice - I'm paraphrasing here - "Create a mess on the picture plane and then learn to work it out!" That really is valuable advice. Fear is quite limiting ... and being "afraid" to try new ideas and methods and media keeps us boxed in pretty tightly. How often I've created a pleasing picture, which could have been really amazing had I been willing to take a risk in some aspect... being willing to settle for "good" when "best" was still within my reach. I think the piece of advice given my daughter is so great because, if we learn to work through a problem or a mess on the canvas - we learn not to be afraid of that outcome. We learn we can deal with the unexpected. Sometimes what we get in the unexpected is beyond what we originally envisioned!

So - 2007 has been a year of leaping forward for me - in the doing of art, in learning more about my craft, in experimenting, in finishing what I start - the result has been a deep level of personal satisfaction, much better use of my time on a daily basis, nearly 40 paintings in the last 5 months, some art sales, learning new ways to develop art as a business, finding a great group of international artist friends through blogging, and a sense that I am taking big, new steps toward developing the kind of life I was created for and want to live - full of creativity, expression, and meaning. Its been a good year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Retrospect, part 3


The Cats of November

Click here for information on purchasing a set of these small paintings in note card format

Life has unexpected twists and turns. I've experienced a few of those this fall, one of which was the loss of our family cat. We found out about his illness and had to make the hard decision to put him down on a cold, gray, drizzly day this fall. But in memory of his presence in our home for 10 years, I did a set of fun and quirky water color paintings. These were then made into note cards.

Being able to process life in a visual way is part of what makes being an artist so interesting! I would never have foreseen these 4 paintings, they are not in my typical style of artistic expression. But they have been enjoyed by many and it has been a way to turn a sad event into one that has brought good.


Monday, December 17, 2007

The year in retrospect, part 2


August and September 2007 Paintings

This is the second part of my year in retrospect. Several of these paintings have been sold, but several are still available. Click here for more information on availability.

Among these paintings are several of my personal favorites! The end of the summer always brings with it a sense of sadness for me. I love the warmer weather - love being outside - love the slower pace... and just as I'm getting rested from the previous school year and feel I've found a good pace for personal and artistic growth - gears change abruptly, and I'm back in the frantic pace of public school teaching.

This past summer, as it began, I felt at loose ends. I knew I needed to find a way to exercise creativity on a daily basis. I knew I needed to grow - internally as well as artistically. Journaling is a very critical exercise for me... a way to process life as it happens and my feelings - a way to understand all that is going on in my world and figure out where I need to be going. For weeks, this summer - I felt the compelling need to discover what I should be doing before the summer evaporated! My journal entries reflect the restlessness I was experiencing. But, within the first few days of July - I had started my daily painting commitment. What a valuable decision! It has brought so much into a clear focus... not just in the act of painting - but in the act of being intentional about being creative - and being tenacious - and stretching my understandings in many different areas. All this can be summed up into meaningful personal growth!

What caused me to go this direction? As I think back, it all seems serendipitous! Very unplanned ... a "stumble upon" kinda thing. But looking back, I see now that it has the distinct fingerprints of God's direction rather than accident. I've developed a deeper understanding of how I am created, though artistic interest is no surprise to me; I've always loved art. But maybe for the first time I've realized that this is more important than just what I find intriguing ... this is something instilled within my spirit - and to ignore it, push it aside for more practical things, or give it last priority - really dishonors the gifts I've been given and the Giver of those gifts as well. It has been a good thing to come to a full realization that God, the Maker of beauty and himself the artistic Creator, takes pleasure in my use of the gifts he's given. Maybe that, more than anything else this past year, has been my greatest breakthrough!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Finished Steeple

Steeple 1, 5x7" Oil on canvas

Please click here for availability of this painting, or purchase information.

Here is the finished painting! For those of you in the Wheaton, IL area - post your guess about which church this is in town. I'll post the location in a few days.

This painting only had a few minor adjustments since my last post about it - a few extra details on the steeple, a little smoothing out of the sky color, and a little work on the tree branches. This is a much more fine detail and realistic approach to painting than is typical for me - but it's fun to do different things... and it really forces me to observe the subject - That's a good thing in art! I used thin washes of oil paint and built up my layers - and also used liquin (fine detail) and a tiny brush to accomplish some of the hair's breadth details.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The year in retrospect, part 1


July 2007 Oil Paintings and Watercolors

click here to see the availability of each painting

December is flying by, and has been very busy. At work, I'm trying to finish up this semester and get grading done while preparing for the next semester that begins as soon as we return after Christmas break. At home, I'm preparing for the holidays - children returning from their various places of work and school, Christmas, baking, various events at church, etc. Then there is always just the regular housekeeping, laundry, & grocery shopping requirements. Throw in a few snow storms with the extra time for shoveling and snow removal, and there you have my life! All in all, things are very busy at this time of year! The painting has slowed down a bit - although, I am continuing to paint a little every day ...

This past week, I've completed the small steeple painting, which I will post soon. And I completed a larger landscape that I also will post soon.

In the meantime, though, it seemed like an important thing to reflect on this year as it will soon become the next year. For me, as an artist, a simple commitment made in July to paint every day has been extraordinary! Early in this new venture, I commented that there is a correlation between frequency and fluency. I believe I've seen the truth of that. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a retrospective of my journey over the past 6 months. It has been an exciting and sustaining endeavor. I've learned a lot about my craft and about myself along the way. I've also learned a lot about developing and using the gifts which God has given and wants me to use.

The picture above represents my first month of work... some of these paintings are sold and some are still available. I hope you will enjoy a look back at my journey, and you will see the growth too! Soon, it will be time to think about 2008 and the goals to create for next year.

To see all my recent work, please visit my website at HelenCRead.com
There you will see the larger works over the past few years, all my recent daily work, painted bowls, and stationery.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Progress


The Progress Continues

Since my post a couple days ago, I've progressed on this small painting. As you can see, I've added a lot more detail. I adjusted the colors of shadow and sunlight. Though the sunlit areas look very white here, they are modified with some yellow and rose - giving a warmish glow. Next to the blues and violets of the shadow, though, the eye sees those areas as bright white.
The small windows in the steeple were completed using a very small brush and liquin. I also heightened the darkest darks.

I do not use black paint. I don't even buy it! It is probably controversial... but it was how I was trained. My students are completely panicked when I tell them that I've removed all sources of black pigment from the classroom! But, then I tell them how to mix an interesting black with lots of great undertones of color. It is also quite possible to darken color without black, though that seems a concept hard to grasp for high school students! Here, I have created "black" in the steeple using ultramarine blue, violet, and raw umber, with a little phthalo blue added.

As you can also tell from the original post, I added a bare tree - well, just some of the upper branches - to the right. That area of the picture needed something more, and it helps make the blue blue of the sky believable. Here in the Chicago area, the sky is never that blue in the summer - only in the cold winter, when the humidity is no longer affecting light and color.

What's left to do?? I think there are a few more detail adjustments to make, as well as a bit more attention to the sky. Working in the small format has been somewhat more difficult in this type of painting than working larger ... the small details are really small!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

My process - first steps


The first few steps for a new painting

I happen to live in a town which is known for having the most churches per capita... and it has been on my mind for awhile to do a series of paintings of the various steeples that are visible from almost every vantage point in town. I initially thought of the idea with larger paintings, but it occurred to me that the smaller format would provide a good opportunity for the preliminary study.

This is (as you can see) not finished. In fact, this represents only the first few steps. The first step, of course, is the idea and then a drawing. I had also taken some reference photos. Then I began to lay in the basic lines on the canvas. It helps to have a good working knowledge of 2 point perspective - although, with a painting of this narrow size, the vanishing points have to be off canvas. After the basic drawing is put lightly on the canvas (I carefully work with a light pencil layer - so that it does not mix in the with paint in any measurable way), I begin with thin washes of oil paint. I thin it down with turpenoid and also use liquin to get precision. I have put in the basic sky shades - notice how the blue is much more aquamarine at the top of the picture than nearer to the horizon. And I begin to define my shadowed areas and my sunlit areas. The "whites" that you see are not actually white from the tube at all - but are warmed up with some yellows and rose colors... while the shadowed areas are cooled with some blues, violets, and umber.

Working in this method, I will continue to build up layers of color lightly - some of the underlayers will show through - and some will be covered more completely. Along the way, it begins to speak for itself, and I try to listen to the way it needs to be portrayed. So, I can't tell yet, exactly what the final outcome will be. I'll continue posting the progress - we'll all find out together!! Somewhere toward the finale, a title will also come to mind!

Friday, December 7, 2007

White Flower, abstracted


White Flower, 30 x 36" matted, Acrylic and Colored Pencil on Paper

This painting has taken several years to finish and to frame. It is large - for me - and its going up in my studio, at least for the time being. This week has been busy - I've been doing more snow shoveling than usual ... after our first winter storm this week. But I'm also working on a larger landscape painting, and a small - but more precise oil painting of an architectural subject. I'll be posting those soon!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Backward Glance at Summer


Lily and Pads, 5x7" Oil on Canvas

Now with our first winter storm (ice, snow, rain - all in 1 event) I'm posting a summery kind of image! This is actually from a photograph I took a few years ago - the colors were very intense - in parts - and very sun washed in others. It made for a dramatic spread of colors.

Also, this weekend, while the weather was going on outside - I refurbished my website. Drop by and take a look! http://HelenCRead.com There are a lot of different areas to go in order to browse the whole thing - enjoy the visit ... a sort of virtual open studio!

Please click here for information about the availability or purchase of this painting.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tagged!

Well, I've been tagged by Karen Appleton, whose work I watch and admire for so many reasons... and while I'm waiting for paint to dry, let's have some fun on this cold, snowy 1st day of December!

When tagged, a blogger is supposed to list and link that person who has tagged you, tag 5 more new people, and mention 5 things about yourself. So ~ here we go!
I mentioned Karen Appleton above. Though she is a Chicago area artist, I have not met her... but I really enjoy her work. I hope you'll follow the link to her site and look at what she's doing! I'm especially inspired by her sense of color and how to capture that.

5 new people I am tagging:
1. Brenda York. Brenda's work is fun and quirky and full of color.
2. Debra Sepos. Debra has some beautiful still lifes which are done with a sensitive touch!
3. Mick McGinty. I love the variety of work that Mick produces ... and it is all so skillfully done!
4. Miss Sandy at Quill Cottage. Sandy's blog is one that when I visit, I feel as if I've just been to a quiet little bed and breakfast out in the country - away from the daily craziness of life!
5. Karen Mathison Schmidt. At Karen's blog, I'm inspired by her wonderful expressive work and inspirational words.

OK, 5 things about me:
1. My family is growing up ... and I'm going to become a mother-in-law in the coming year! Yikes... how did that happen?
2. My faith becomes more important to me, the older I get and the more I realize I don't know! Its good to know Someone who does know all that I don't... and who knows my heart.
3. I grew up in a rural part of Texas - that is no longer all that rural. We lived on a ranch, which was a camp for kids in the summer - and our home in the winter. So much of who I am came from those formative years between the ages of about 7 and 15 ... being connected to the land and to nature, raising and riding horses, and relationships with people who remain very dear to me, though are now quite distant.
4. I've now lived in Illinois a little longer than I have in Texas - but still consider myself a Texan. (I think I always will)
5. Art has always been a language of importance in my life. Many people do not understand the compelling call of a creative spirit, but I am learning that it is an integral part of what makes me who I am!


Friday, November 30, 2007

Completed Series?


Red String, 5.5 x 4" Mixed media (Watercolor and Ink) on paper

I think the series is complete... but perhaps time will dictate otherwise! Its been fun to do these little cat pictures .... and they seem to have been very well liked by those of you who have commented. My next step is to develop these into a set of notecards. I'm exploring the best ways to do that and will keep you posted!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wind Blown



Wind Blown, 4 x 3" Watercolor

A quick watercolor study done last night ... with a little colored pencil added. The idea is to portray the blowing falling leaves as they float downward. I've been hit by a lot of blowing leaves this fall. Seemed like an interesting subject!

Please click here for information about availability or purchase.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Now available as greeting cards!

I am trying something new...

I am making this painting available for greeting cards. The cards measure 5" x 7" and can be printed on either a matte or glossy finish card weight paper. You may order as a single card or a box of 10 (envelopes are included, of course). To order or see an image of the card, please go to the following web address: http://www.cafepress.com/helencread

The individual card is marked at $3.24, while a box of 10 is $18.49, plus shipping.

The company that handles the printing and shipment of the cards is called CafePress, and they have a good reputation from my research. The good thing about this, as an artist, is that there are no upfront costs (which is difficult for artists). In fact, that fact makes this new idea possible! So, we'll see how it goes.

My suggestion, I think, is to go with the matte finish paper, which even so will have a very slight shine to it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

November's gift


November Gathering, 8x8" Oil on canvas (deep gallery wrap)

There is something compelling about the last vestiges of fall - a last blast of color, yet a bit of weariness ... a whithering that has its grip on the foliage. In this painting - I found a few sprigs of burgundy mums still flowering in my garden and placed them with the lovely, fading hosta leaves that are so intriguing. Working quickly is essential... the hostas in particular were on a steady march toward turning completely brown and shriveling more each hour. But they have a wonderful texture and color about them this time of year...a rather sculptural quality. All of this was quickly placed in a mason jar - of which, little shows, so that I could quickly paint. I also really liked the burgundy/purple of the mums positioned with the complementary colors of the hostas. In spite of the shots of color here, November has become quite dreary ... gray, cloudy, drizzly, with the promise of cold just around the corner.

Click here for more information on the availability or purchase of this painting.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cats again


Birds on the Brain, 5.5 x 4" Mixed Media on paper (Watercolor and Ink)

Another cat-themed watercolor ... quirky and whimsical. We are still missing our kitty - and remembering him by the funny things he liked. Birds were a favorite subject of observation!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This week ......


Commissioned Bowl,
Hibiscus and Lily of the Valley - 12" Acrylic on wood

SOLD

I'm posting a commission I completed earlier in the fall... because this week has been filled with behind the scenes stuff, including technological repairs that had to be made. It was also the last week of school before Thanksgiving Break - and necessitated extra time spent with work.

However, this is what's been going on in my studio. I've been painting (and hope to have a painting ready to post in a few days), I've been designing... some basic informational materials, but also some items with some of my images to sell, and I've been busily comparing printing options and such for those items I'm hoping to produce. The week has sped by, and I've been frustrated at many points that I haven't been able to get more completed without the snags that always seem to occur.

I've also worked on one other bowl commission this fall, which is not yet completed. It has presented numerous difficulties. But, I hope to have it completed THIS week! I used to do quite a few bowls but am moving away from them mostly because of the escalating expense of working on that surface - and the nagging sense that the materials I'd been using successfully have had some sort of compositional change.... they simply do not apply in the same way as they used to.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday morning ~


Solitary Path, 40 x 30" Oil on Canvas

Awhile ago, I thought of creating a series of landscapes that are metaphors for my own personal journey in life. I completed this painting a couple years ago - and it is quite symbolic of where I found myself - and perhaps where I am still journeying. A bit mysterious. The way of the path ahead is obscured. It's beautiful, yet a rather solitary path.

What I also have found out - even more recently than this painting - is that I'm not alone, after all. Though, it isn't how I expected my journey to look - it is a path with purpose and it is leading somewhere... even if the landscape and pathway are as yet unseen ahead.

More importantly, I'm led - not abandoned... and I'm led here for a purpose. The purpose is to learn to walk by faith, not by sight. To trust the hand that leads me - I'm learning that I don't need to see it all in order to trust. I've come to know His hand - and His intent - is always good. I've come to know that I am loved deeply, personally, intimately by the God who created me, and rescued me from a life apart from Him. These are things of high value... not always easy to embrace in the moment, yet - in the end - worth every moment of learning.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Reflections in red and green


Red and Green, 5x7" Oil on canvas

What draws us in, as artists, to drawing or painting glass? It isn't easy... in fact, it is frustrating, and yet - it beckons and captivates, almost demands to be portrayed. For anyone who has ever painted - or drawn bottles or jars - you paint the actual bottle, of course.... but you also paint almost everything else in the room - you paint the reflections and the things you can see through the glass as well. Then, the cast shadows also cast a transparent color. The challenge is quite wide reaching!

In this painting - the 2 bottles, very intensely colored, are shown with all their reflections. I also included some small mums out of my garden for some unifying elements of color, and some handwoven cloth. The background was another challenging aspect - it needed to be quite subdued - and yet it needed to provide some sort of visual support for the main idea. There are things I like and things I'm still deciding about on this one.

I used several brands of oil paint, as well as fine detail liquin, which helped with transparency and drying time.

For information on the availability of purchase of this painting, click here.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Second installment of the crazy cat theme:


Mouse and Moonlight, 5.5 x 4" Mixed Media
(Water color, Pen and Ink on Paper)

Yet another small painting, done in a contemporary way, of our little kitty. He often brought us small gifts (sometimes not as small as a mouse) from his evening hunts in the neighborhood. If he could find one, a shoe was his favorite place to deposit the trophy for safe keeping!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Totally off the beaten path!


Tall Grass and Catnip, 5.5 x 4" Mixed Media (watercolor and ink on paper)

I know, this is completely different from my usual posts... something that is simply for fun. If you've been reading my posts for the past few weeks, you know that we had to put our beloved kitty down very unexpectedly due to an unsuspected but quick development of cancer. He's been noticeably absent and very missed from our house. I'm doing a few small paintings of him, in a contemporary and almost cartoonish way, doing the various 'cat things' he liked to do. This one depicts him stalking who knows what in the tall grass and rolling in the catnip. Though he was inside the house most of the time, he loved being outside the most!

I'm not sure what I will do with these small cat paintings (more to be posted soon!), but I'm thinking they might make fun greeting cards. More on that later too!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rose, again...


One Rose, 5x5" Oil on canvas

Another rose - this time just one, with a sort of post-impressionistic style. The photo shows to some extent the thicker application of paint, and there are a variety of colors included in the foliage as well as the flower. I like the outline effect in places - which reminds me somewhat of VanGogh's style.

The studio has been busy - although I've also been working on a commission.

For more information on the availability or purchase of this painting, click here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

3 Pink Roses


3 Pink Roses - 8x8" Oil on Canvas

For more information on the availability or purchase of this painting, click here.


The paint has dried enough to scan and post. It is 8x8" with a deep gallery wrap, painted around the sides, so no need to frame. The color scheme worked out well on this - I love the warm green and the fact that the pink roses pop!

Thank you to my friend, Linda, who brought these flowers to my daughter during her convalescence from oral surgery! I nabbed them for a day to my studio to paint... they were just beautiful!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In the meantime ~


Turnips - mixed media, approx. 11 x 14"

Its been a long and difficult weekend - from my daughter's oral surgery on Friday... and her later bad reaction to the pain medication which has prolonged her recovery to a quick and unsuspected illness of our kitty which resulted in needing to put him down yesterday afternoon. Very sad... With all this going on, it has been good to paint - though only a little time for it. The paint is drying and I hope to be able to post it tomorrow. In the meantime - here is an older painting - mixed media, quite experimental.

Ink and white glue were mixed and used as a drawing medium, over color (Golden Acrylic) washed paper, with acrylic color added in as paint. I liked the effects of it. It is almost a "cartoonish" drawing of the turnips - rather different than my typical style, but I like it. Its fun to break out of normalcy sometimes. :)


Friday, October 19, 2007

Inspired by the season ~


Red Leaf, 3.5 x 5" Watercolor/Acrylic on paper

The leaves have not turned the bold varied colors as much this year in our area, but I found this one yesterday and it was outstanding! The ribs reminded me of lightning streaks. This is a small watercolor study - almost abstracted with the color of the shadows against the leaf color.

Click here for more information on availability or purchase.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Pile of Peppers


Pepper Pile, 6 x 6" Oil on canvas

The paint is dry and ready to show. These came from my garden and are in varying stages of maturity. I really loved the variety of color! I was interested to capture several qualities in this painting. First, I loved the floppy leaf "top knot" - almost like a head of hair - on the green peppers, so wanted to show the garden freshness with that. I also liked the reflective qualities of the skin in its various colors and how they each picked up the surrounding colors and reflected light. I also worked a bit with the overall composition - primarily with color and value to keep the eye moving throughout the picture. So, here it is! I think the outcome achieved the overall effect I was looking for.

Click here for information on the availability or purchase of this painting.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Once again... waiting for paint to dry!


White Callas - 24" x 24" Oil on canvas

I'm waiting again! So, in the interim, I'm posting an older painting - part of a set of white flowers done in a rather O'Keeffe-ish style. I really am attracted to the spiraling design qualities of calla lilies. And of course, painting white is never really painting white! This obviously has a lot of lavender in the recesses and there is a good deal of thin yellows and pinks throughout.

In the meantime, in spite of a very busy week, while concurrently working on a commission - I do have a small daily painting that is drying and will be ready to post in a day or so!

Friday, October 12, 2007

After the Bloom.


After the Bloom, 5 x 7 Oil on Canvas

SOLD

It is fall in Northern Illinois. The leaves are falling - but not so much fall color this season as in previous years. And the crab apple trees, which are clouds of bloom in the spring, are now showing their small berry-sized fruit. This was a challenging painting, more so than I'd expected, because of the curling leaves which are already speckled with brown. It was challenging for another reason, I discovered.... I painted differently than I usually do. Instead of a close up investigation of my subject, this was much smaller. The details (which I enjoy seeing and painting) are all very subdued or perhaps not even visible. So, in some ways, I struggled through this one. Also, the background and what to do with it was a little challenging too... so - all in all - this one didn't "fall together" quite so easily. I like the overall effect, but there are parts that seem in need of more to me. Well, let me know what you think. I may not be done with my work on this one!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Inside Out!


Inside out, peppers 6 x 6" Oil on canvas

For those of you who saw my post a few days ago, I was working with some ideas from a few years ago. The idea I started from was more abstract than this one turned out ... and so, this may be an idea I continue to working. Anyway, this is a pepper from my own garden, cut in half. I thought the seed configuration was interesting and the various interior membranes were also rather interesting. It was fun to paint (although a bit frustrating in places). But, overall I was happy with the result!

Click here for information on availability or purchase.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Along the way ~


Journeying, 9 x 3" Mixed Media

I was thinking about this yesterday... We don't really see our lives very completely. We see the right now pretty well, but not so easily how all the various parts assemble a whole. And yet, by taking the time to look at different times and places in life, they do seem to come together to form a sort of pattern, a tapestry perhaps, too large to see with just a quick glance.
This is true of my life, and I suspect true of the whole human condition. There are difficult passages along with times of great beauty. But, woven throughout - in each passage, along each bend, in the wild rapids, and in the calm quiet areas, is one constant - God's pursuit of our hearts. It takes looking for it to see it, sometimes ... because the wild rush of life is so much upon us. Sometimes it doesn't seem as if he's there at all, that maybe he's walked away and left us in the wilds alone. Yet, that is not what God says. He says he is there with us, waiting, watching, protecting, working ... because he is passionate about his relationship with each one of us. That is a strong word from a trustworthy God! May we all stop for a moment in the wild rush of life - and experience the passionate pursuit of God for our individual hearts.
(ideas from Exodus and in particular, Ex. 34:14)

This small tryptych is meant to be seen as a whole, though each part is different. It is mixed media - acrylic and oil pastel. Though you can't see it well here in the photo, it uses metalic and interference paints in places to create a shimmering appearance. I have tried to capture a sense of beauty and mystery in each of the 3 different sections, some darker than others. And I've tried to capture the idea of a meandering river changing course and direction, but always heading toward a destination. All that being said, it may not be a finished piece yet... time will tell if more needs to be done!




Friday, October 5, 2007

Tiger Stripes? Pumpkins?


Mini Tiger Striped Pumpkins, 5x7" Oil on Canvas

I'd never seen these little pumpkins before... but here they are! I loved the speckled colors and found them an interesting subject. Amazing what one can find in the local grocery store!

For information on the availability of this painting, click here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Working out some new ideas


Red Pepper Abstraction 5x7" Colored Pencil on Illustration Board

While waiting for paint to dry (one of my frequent "issues" on this blog), I got some of my examples out from a class I taught a year and a half ago and think maybe I'd like to take this idea and expand upon it for a new painting. It just so happens, I have a beautiful red pepper from my garden and have to do something with it pretty soon. My plan is to eat it... but before that, I think maybe I could paint it too! So, with that in mind, I've gone back to some older ideas of abstraction via simplification and exaggeration. Stay tuned!

I think its kind of funny that growing up I didn't really like abstract art. (Many of my students don't either!), but I've come to appreciate it in my adult years. I find it is very challenging to do well - and what I like about it most is that the essence of shape and line and color can really be explored, and emphasized, and just played with without restrictions! That being said, a quick glance backward through this blog will also tell you that I really like working in many styles. I have recently come to peace with that ... and don't feel so strongly that I need to limit myself to one type of work. It is fun to explore and play!


Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Pair of Pears


A Pair of Pears, 6x6 Oil on canvas, gallery wrapped and painted around the sides.

I've seen lots of red pears this season, but these 2 called to me across the grocery store (which, as you know, sometimes happens to me!) I loved the rich color, which ranges from ocher to russet to purple. I also thought their shapes were just about pear perfect! As I set this up to paint, the shadows were also quite beautiful... they are painted with quite a bit of color. With all this drama going on in the subject, I kept the background composition very simple... which I think works in this case. I also painted this in the style of contemporary realism. This one has become one of my favorites. By the way, I ate one of the pears yesterday, and it tasted as good as it looked!

Click here for more information on the availability or purchase of this painting.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

First of Fall


Yellow Leaf, 3.75 x 5" Mixed media (watercolor, acrylic, colored pencil)

Yesterday was a "perfect day".... sparkling sunshine, about 70 degrees, low humidity... one of those rare days of the year, and I was inside all day long. When I got home, I took a walk to just be outside and enjoy the day for a few minutes. While walking, I almost stepped on this leaf - but I stopped and picked it up and looked at the beauty of it. (There is a lot of beauty at our feet that we often don't notice!) The color was so pure and bright, it had the most delicate white veining tinged in spring green, and yet the edges were beginning to show some small brown freckles. I brought it home with me and began a small composition - which featured an uncluttered focal point ~ the leaf!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lavender


Lavender Bunch 5x7" Oil on canvas

SOLD

I love lavender - and my garden has a good crop of it this year. This painting is a small bunch of freshly picked lavender. I wish I could have portrayed the smell somehow!

This turned out to be a difficult painting. First, getting the composition right (or closer to right) was tricky. Then painting the lavender and its shadows and its foliage... even the bow, got to be frustrating. Here is the outcome.

I have learned over the years, and had to hold onto this knowledge thru this painting: All paintings (almost) go through an "awkward adolescence"... where it looks all wrong, it isn't coming together, you feel like throwing your hands in the air and walking away! But, if you stay with it ... keep working with it... there is usually a good resolution. But - there is also a magic moment of knowing where to stop and let it just be! Well - all that philosophy led me right here with this one. I think its done and ready to just be... although its still a little hard to say!


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Something to think about ~


Worship 4 - The Lord Speaks 9x12" Mixed media w/collage

What would it have looked like to be present at creation? What would the visual component of God's words look like? Ok, I know, I'm on controversial ground... there are some who doubt the beginning of our universe, world, environment, or even ourselves as an act of God. I know that. But, I believe differently. I believe it did happen as a creative, artistic act of God ... and though I can only imagine all the small details, scripture gives us some information about that event. And I'm completely intrigued!

There is a sense of poetry here - preceding God's act of creation, things were dark and formless and empty. But the Spirit of God was there - hovering, watching, perhaps planning. And then, as if in a burst of exuberance, element by element is introduced by the mere speaking of it. Great beauty. Great power. The finest detail. Shimmering, shining. And as the Artist surveyed his work, he pronounced it to be "very good". (Gen.1)

The book of Job gives a few other insights: The Lord says he laid the foundation of the earth, marked off its dimensions, set it on its footings, shut up the seas, and made the clouds its garments. He did this, very poetically, to the music of the morning stars and to the exclamation of the angels. (Job 38) Can you imagine what that would have been like?

This particular mixed media piece is my exploration of the explosion of creation - the dance of colors, of shape, of light, the suggestion of the "music" of the stars and angels, while God was calling all things into being. What a startling event! It is something to think about...and something that is too grand to ever fully grasp!

[Acrylic, oil pastel, turpenoid, transparent gesso, collaged paper, interference gold paint - many varied layers - on paper]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bumper Crop!


Bumper Crop, Tomatoes. 6x6" Oil on Canvas

Yes. This is just a small basket of tomatoes (Juliette variety) from my garden. They are sort of like plum tomatoes, only much smaller - and very juicy. My garden, though small, has given us a lot to eat (and a lot to paint) this summer. More paintings coming soon!

Click here for information on availability or purchase.

Monday, September 17, 2007

An Old Citizen


Old Tree, 8x8" Oil on Canvas
There is something solid, stately, so valuable about trees... especially old trees. You just wonder what all they've witnessed in their standing in place over time. This one is reminiscent of many old gnarled trees of the area where I grew up. I hoped to capture the uneven surface, the twisted limbs, the widespreading reach that casts a wide blanket of shade. As with any "old citizen" - respect is due.


SOLD


Sunday, September 16, 2007

A map of a different sort

Journey 1 - Acrylic and various other materials on board

This is another experimental abstract. But, it has meaning that became more clear to me after having made it. As I've traversed more of life's unexpected twists and turns, I've begun to see things differently than I did when I was younger. Instead of life looking like a nice little road trip on a well-mapped and often traveled roadway - its begun to look more and more like an adventurous journey through an uncharted land. A little scary at times, unexpected obstacles, yet beautiful vistas; things never before seen or experienced. It would be far too frightening without a Guide. But, as I've learned to journey here, I've learned that I have a Good Guide with a "true heart, and skillful hands." (Psalm 78:72)

This particular piece was made, actually, as a prototype for a class I was teaching to advanced students at the high school level, trying to help them "expand their horizons" artistically. I'm not sure all of them "got it" or even appreciated the experimental nature of making art... many were not willing to risk getting outside the comfort zones of what they'd "mastered"...which is, of course, part of the adventure! There are a variety of materials involved in this smallish painting - cardboard, paper napkins with texture, gesso, cotton string, tape, and many layers of acrylic, even a little oil paint to create a patina.

The idea for this originated from a topo (topographic) map... which, for many of my students, is something completely unknown. Amazing how ideas for art can come out of almost anything - no matter how remotely removed from "artistic subject matter"! (The odd line barely visible a little right of center, is my efforts to scan this image in several parts and piece it together as the larger painting actually is.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Different Perspective


Top View, Pineapple 5 x 5" Oil on Canvas

"Look for a different point of view." This is told to student artists many times over, and it is good advice. This pineapple caught my eye when looking into the deep recesses of the foliage. And so, I painted it from this perspective. The colors were interesting, and so were the shapes of the leaves. The background needed to be rather neutral, but a little bit tropical too.

Click here for information on availability or purchase

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another botanical


Variegated Foliage, acrylic (used as water color) on paper

Once again, I'm drawn to botanical subject matter! This one seems very tropical to me, though I didn't start with that idea. It is approximately 5 x 5". I started out with watercolor, which I often do - but, just needed to see more brilliance in the colors ... thus the acrylic. At the end, I decided to paint a hot tropical aqua line around the main shapes. Why? It just seemed to speak a need!

Click here for information on availability

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sunday Morning's Reflection


Worship 3, Oil pastel on paper

Another in my abstract series on worship. This one speaks to me of mystery... there is deep mystery in who God is. I've been working through the book of Exodus for the last few months and buried within the story of the nation of Israel's departure from Egypt, is the revelation of who God would be to them; and who the unchanging God is to us. He is a God who always made a way for them, even when backed into impossible corners. He led them gently and provided for them abundantly through a desert devoid of all that they needed to live. And, he revealed himself to be a dependable God, a forgiving God, a personal God ... who wanted the best for them. Not necessarily what they thought was best, but what he knew was best. He's a "Big Picture" God, without being an uncaring God for small concerns. All of this looks to us quite a lot like mystery sometimes. It especially looks like mystery to me, when nothing makes sense in life, and I'm tempted to forget that He is there, he is not passive, and he is making a way.

I was reminded of this as I sat at a memorial service yesterday for a wonderful woman who (it seems to me) died much too early in life. Hers was a life well lived, a life that influenced and touched countless people for good, a life lived large, a life given to Christ. I was reminded again, that of all the important things in life that matter in a lasting way, the most important is the question we all have or will face ~ Who is Jesus Christ, and what will I do with him? God is a mysterious God, but only because we cannot fully understand. He is also a good God, dependable, loving, and trustworthy. Isaiah says he's "written each of our names on his hand"~ that's very personal. I think, as I go deeper into the mystery, I learn that its good that we cannot get to the bottom of who God is! Anything less would be too small.



Friday, September 7, 2007

Mostly dry paint!


The Edge of Marigolds 5x7" oil on canvas

SOLD

The paint is mostly dry, although because this one is created with thick paint applied only with a palette knife, drying took awhile. I was drawn to the beautiful spots of color within the green along the edge of my garden. The entire range of colors, particularly in the background doesn't show as well as I'd like in the photo. And, my ability to capture the purity and excellence of color within the flowers just doesn't compare at all to God's paintbrush. Nevertheless, I wanted to "mention" my thoughts about this lovely edge of common flowers, sparkling in the sun, with a painterly language - and here it is.

Oh ... the reason I planted marigolds (other than they are easy to grow and are showy) is that I wanted to discourage the rabbits from feasting on my small garden plants in the spring. I am not sure it worked as well as I thought it might; I saw one nibbling on the marigolds! But most of them survived quite well.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Still waiting for paint to dry!

Purple Petunia, Oil on canvas

Crazy day today - parent night at school tonight, so no time
for much today between class and Dr. appt for my daughter, dinner, and back to school tonight. Hopefully tomorrow, the paint on my latest daily painting will be dry and ready for posting.... So, in the meantime, here is a painting which I did a couple years ago... I seemed to be (still am) especially interested in botanical subjects, and captivated by Georgia O'Keeffe!
(The color looks a little too blue here, it is actually more in the purple tones.)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Today is ~


Stigma and Stamens, Oil on Canvas

Monday... Labor Day! I'm posting an older work today, an abstraction of a magnified flower (a white geranium, actually), while I mention a couple things. I've been working on a commission so have done fewer small paintings in the last few days. Its basically done, now, so I've begun my small daily paintings again. (I missed those small studies during the last few days!) I hope to have something to post in the next few days from my newest efforts!

Also, several days ago, Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage, honored me with a Creative blogger award! I was not expecting such a thing, but happily surprised. It is now up to me to pass on this award to other deserving bloggers! I've been thinking about this and want to pass it on thoughtfully. According to the rules which I found at Writer's Reviews, I should pass this on to 5 others. I'll be doing that over time ... but immediately, I'd like to pass it on to

Kathleen Cavender, who I think has an amazing blog to go along with her beautiful art work and her wonderful writing.

and Nelda Jansen, whose work I greatly admire!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Sunday morning ~


Worship 2, Mixed media (acrylic, oil pastel)

This is another in my abstract series on worship. I think all my art, if intended to be an act of worship, is that. However, this one was meant to be devoid of any representational images and merely a representation of my own feelings as I contemplate my sense of God's presence in my life. In this, I wanted to express his mystery, his beauty, his encompassing and surrounding presence. All my life I've known the truth, "Jesus loves me", but only as I've navigated through the complexities and unforeseen upheavals of life, have I begun to understand his love as very personal, very intimate, very deep. Its easy to miss that ... to never take notice... to be caught in the current of a busy life. I've certainly struggled with that. But I'm convinced that he longs for deep connection with me, while reminding me of his presence in many small ways day by day.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Summer's Last Hurrah

Summer Okra 5 x 5" Oil on Canvas


This is the last day of August and my last painting for this month.... fittingly, it also acknowledges summer's last few days. You don't get to grow up in rural Texas and not have an appreciation for fried okra in the summer time. I do remember my grandfather in the midwest calling it gumbo, however! I don't think he ever fried it though, and I know I've never heard of fried gumbo.... that's just silly!

These were especially fine examples of this summer vegetable and went first to my studio before ending up in the kitchen! I chose the colors help to give a warm summer atmosphere to the painting. This was one of those paintings that seemed to come together without too much deliberation. I was pleased with the results.

Click here for information on availability


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Odd Fellows



Oddfellows 5x7" Oil on canvas

Hard to believe... but true! Walking through our weekly "French Market" here in town, this eggplant caught my eye. Yes, it looks as if it has grown a nose ... a rather cartoonish one at that! It was so unique, I had to bring it home to paint. So, here it is for all to see! Humor can be found everywhere! Even in a vegetable patch!
(Oh, we took a digital photo of it too ~ but are struggling with technical issues between my camera and computer! Maybe I'll be able to post it soon.)
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