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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pink Poinsettia

Pink Poinsettias, 8 5/8 x 12 3/4" Watercolor/acrylic on 300# paper
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to mat and frame


It is hard to believe that 2009 is on its way out today! It has been a year of continued artistic growth for me.... That's a good thing. No growth equals stagnation. Stagnation has no place in the life of an artist. This year I've focused a little more on landscapes than in previous years, which has been enjoyable. Of course, I've continued working with botanical subjects as well.
The one above is such an example.

What lies in the year ahead? We can only guess. But for me - continued artistic growth is important as well as reaching out to those who stumble across my work and those who watch it regularly. I hope, if you haven't done so yet - you will join my mailing list! There you receive monthly (or so) updates from me with interesting tidbits about the world of art. And when I offer freebies you are the first to know! The sign up box is on the right side of my blog!
(your information is kept perfectly secure!)

On a personal level in 2010 there is much I want to press on toward. Of highest importance, really, is my ability to see the hand of God working in my life more clearly, depend on him more fully, and learn to communicate with him more deeply. That, however, is not a 1 year goal... it is a goal for a lifetime. I have learned (and continue to learn) that He is our only and real source of security! I hope in the year ahead, you may find this to be true as well!
Happy New Year, friends near and far! May 2010 be a year you take great happiness in!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More of the Year in Review

One of the highlights of my year (2009) was the solo exhibit I did for my church's 50th anniversary. It focused on botanicals as its subject matter - but included artist's notes. The title of the exhibit was Lessons from Matthew 6, and my goal was to show how God, who cares for the lilies of the field, is also dependable to take care of his much greater creation - his children!

To see these paintings more individually, please visit my website!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More of the Year in Review

Old Oak, 6x8" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to frame

Click here for more information on this painting.

Many times this year, I found myself exploring landscapes... sometimes more distant, as seen in some earlier works I've posted, and sometimes much more close up. Trees are always an interesting subject matter... because, I think, of their uniqueness and often their very sculptural qualities. Some of them just have very noticeable "personalities" which almost need a portraiture approach!

This particular tree is very indicative of my southwestern roots - roots that still grow very deep in my heart, even though I live in the northern mid-west at present!

Monday, December 28, 2009

A work in progress

I hadn't expected to start another painting before the end of the year .... but.... after a few days of not painting, and having a little time here and there in between lots of wonderful family activities over this Christmas season - I couldn't resist the call!! I had taken a small picture on my phone, of all cameras, of some beautiful pale poinsettias I saw in the grocery store! They seemed to call my name for a painting! This one is a water color rendition - and it is not yet finished. I'll add more color and definition and values into it using acrylic as water color. The intensity of color is much more vibrant!

Hopefully, I'll have the finished version here before the end of the year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Inspiration and Results!

In August, my daughter and I took a trip to Indiana. It was uneventful until the drive home that evening. We were greeted just around the bottom of Lake Michigan with a rather treacherous thunderstorm, the magnitude of which we didn't really see until after we'd passed through it and could look at the unbelievable clouds which reached into the heights of the sky! Quite dramatic during the storm, and equally dramatic after the storm! As I snapped reference photos, I thought that capturing the drama of the storm clouds would make wonderful subject matter!

After the Storm, 11 x 14" Oil on Canvas
©2009, Helen Read
for more information on this painting, please email me:

As you can see - the storm was the inspiration, and the reference photo helped me to capture much of it, but changes were made! Painting clouds - even white clouds, requires very little plain white paint - many glazes of the undertones of color are added. And, in this one, I combined some other reference photos to get the landscape.

It was an amazing sight! One not ever to be fully captured in paint or held past the moment ~ except in the mind's eye of the beholder. For me, it is a powerful testament to the awesome power of God, whose display of grandeur can be seen in so many "everyday" things around us - and yet, who protects us!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More of the Year in Review

Curbside Profusion, 8x10" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
This one is now in a private collection.

Falling Leaves, 5 x 5" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
Please click here for more information on this painting.

Two kinds of things, both showing the profusion of creation. One in its prime, one in beautiful clothing as it subsides. Both of these offered their own particular types of challenge.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The progression of expression...

2 Media - but the Same Composition:

This progression shows how my thought process developed for this painting. I started with an oil pastel version - working out the colors and ideas for the composition. It is much smaller, but I liked the idea and how it was coming together.

Snowy Bank, 6x8" Oil pastel on paper
©2009, Helen Read

Click here for more information on this small painting

You can see the effect of built up layers of oil pastel as it lays on the paper in this particular rendition. I was intrigued by the mixture of colors in the shadows. It seemed that there was more to explore here in the media of oil, so that was the next generation!

Icy Riverbank, 11 x 14" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read

You may see this and other landscapes from my studio at my website.
or email me for more information:

The media of oil makes a difference in the overall effect. While the composition is essentially the same, and the color scheme is also much the same - the overall effect is a little different. Both have their individual appeal!

Either way, these are quite representative of our northern Illinois winter! And, as I write, we are getting yet another layer of white covering... its quite beautiful and rather peaceful.

Monday, December 21, 2009

More Oil Pastel Landscapes

The Space Between, 6x8" Oil pastel on paper
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to mat and frame
Please click here for a convenient purchase link

Streak of Orange, 6x8 " Oil Pastel on paper
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to mat and frame
Please click here for a convenient purchase link

As I review the year - it has been fun to pick up an old media that I haven't used in awhile and also explore older subject matter. Both of these are in that area of exploration. I love the tranquility of landscapes, though that is not to say they cannot express drama! And, it is a way to express a sense of melancholy for some of the vanishing open lands and farms in this part of the mid-west.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Small Landscapes

Small Landscapes
©2009, Helen Read

One of my summer goals was to work with landscapes again. I was very interested in working with atmospheric effects and depth of space, as well as color. Most of these are oil pastel on paper, which was another area of experimentation. I've worked with oil pastel before, but found my more intensive work this summer with that medium to increase my fluency with it and to help me find some expressive ways of using it.

Most of these paintings above are oil pastel on paper, and a few of them are oil on canvas. You can see all of them more individually at my website. And if you click on the image when you go to my website, you will find out specific information on each painting.

It was good to get back to get back to speaking the language of landscape painting!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

More of the Year in Review

The Edge of the Woods, 6x8" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
For more information on the availability of this painting, please click here.

Pink Gerbera Daisy Triptych, overall: 24 x 8" (3 panels each measure 8x8")
Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
For more information on the availability of this triptych painting, please click here.

Dill-icious, 6x6" Acrylic on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
For more information on the availability of this painting, please click here.


This year I was drawn again and again to the beauty of botanical subject matter, both in the form of magnified paintings that almost take on an element of abstraction and in landscapes as well.
The obvious truth is that creation in all its glory and profusion just attracts my attention and holds it! Perhaps that is because I lived most of my formative years in the beauty of the southwestern countryside ... or, perhaps it is just a subject matter that has so many possibilities that it is difficult to exhaust one's investigation! Either way, I love the beauty of our natural world - the work of our wonderful creator's hands.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Barely There

Barely There, 10 x 8" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to Frame.
Click here for more information and a purchase link

This will likely be the last painting I do in the year 2009. The whole family is soon to descend and being realistic, its doubtful that I'll break away much in this most wonderful time of year!!
This painting is one in the series I'm working on "What Remains" - a look at fall and the beauty of what clings to its branches even though most of the leaves are fallen, the color is faded, etc.

The whole vista of this mostly bare branch with its few clinging leaves - yellow and orange - against the crystal blue sky caught my attention. Also, the play of light and shadow was very intriguing. It amazes me how tenacious just these few leaves were, even as the wind whipped through, they didn't lose their grip! I hope you enjoy it too!

Please visit my website too!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More of the Year in Review

This year I also experimented a little bit with some pen and ink bird drawings that were light hearted and fun. I was also experimenting with a new medium - ink pencils. These were whimiscal and fun to do! And eventually they inspired some note cards.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Year in Review - part I

A set of 8 notecards (2 of each design) + envelopes
measuring 5.5 x 4.25" each
(shipping is additional - IL residents, please add 8.25% sales tax)

The year started out with some pen and ink drawings of botanicals. Each of these flowers is
beautiful, sculptural and colorful in various ways. As they were completed, it seemed right to create a note card set of them. They've sold quite well this year!

What a great stocking stuffer (yes! there is still time to receive a set for Christmas), or wonderful thank you notes for after the holiday!

Please note - for multiple prints going to the same address,
shipping cost adjustments will be made in the form of a refund based on actual costs of shipping.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A work in progress ... Barely There

A work in progress
Part of the "What Remains Series"
8x10" Oil on canvas

This is still very much in progress, but I am working along on the next in the series. This one caught my eye because almost every leaf has fallen, except the very few that remain. Tenacity, I guess! The color was beautiful. The final outcome will be posted soon!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Something a little different

8" Painted Bowl, after VanGogh's painting

I've wanted to try this for awhile - to recreate, in a paraphrased form, a master's painting on the concave surface of a bowl. Here is Van Gogh's starry night. It is done in acrylic and metallics.
Something different!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dried Flowers - What Remains, Fall botanical series

Dried Flowers - from the What Remains Series - 8x10" Oil on Canvas
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to frame

Please click here for information on the availability and pricing of this painting

This painting was a direct result of my observation this fall on the little things that remain after the leaves have fallen and winter is well on its way into our lives. Small blessings perhaps - and beauty in a different way than it presented itself earlier in the season. At one time, these flowers were colorful - but here they remain as paper white, thin remembrances ~ and with the bounty of berries that cling.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just in time for Christmas Giving! A 5-Painting Auction!

The Edge of the Woods, 6x8" Oil on canvas, ©2009, Helen Read
Beginning bid $20.00
Click here to see bidding progress or place a bid

Bidding to end on Thursday 11-26

Blue Kitten, 5x5" Acrylic on canvas

Ruff, 6x6" Acrylic on canvas ©2009, Helen Read

Green on Blue, 5x7" Oil on canvas ©2008, Helen Read
beginning bid $20.00
Click here to see bidding progress or place a bid

Bidding to end on Thursday 11-26

White Peony, 8x8" Oil on Canvas ©2009, Helen Read
beginning bid $20.00
Click here to see bidding progress or place a bid

Bidding to end on Thursday 11-26

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Work continues!

I'm continuing to work along on this newest painting - and my ideas for the series that it will be a part of. I love the harmonized color here - and the feeling of fall that it evokes. More is yet to occur on this one, but you can see that it is progressing. Keep checking back! In a few more days, it should be done completely!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A work in progress

Just so you know - I've not been idle! I'm actually working on a new painting - which will begin a new series - based on the season of autumn. This, as you may be able to see, is an oil sketch of the idea. It measures 8x10". It has already moved on from this point, and I hope to post another update in the next few days. I think it will be quite dramatic and will have some wonderful combinations of color that evokes a sense of the fall season. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Southwest Landscape - Old Oak

Old Oak, 6x8" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
ready to frame

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

Another southwestern landscape! These are wonderful trees that grow in central Texas. They are old, and curve back to the ground, almost as if they have grown legs. With the right curvature, you can walk along the trunk!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Think Ahead - just a little! Gift Ideas!

Prints and Note Cards - reproductions of original art!

The season of gift giving is just around the corner, and I have some ideas for small gifts (under $25.00) through larger one-of-a-kind gifts.

And here's the best part!
Buy 2 or more sets of cards, a set of cards and a print, or 2 or more prints
and receive a free gift of a small set of pastel landscape note cards (limited edition)

See what's available here at my website!

Offer available now through December 2009.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nest Eggs Print

Nest Eggs Print - 5x7" print, matted in white - ready to frame
outside dimensions - 8x10"
©2008, Helen Read
$25.00 per print
(shipping $7.00 in US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax)

Give the gift of fine art this holiday season! Order now!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

After the Storm - above it all!

After the Storm, 11 x 14" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to Frame

Please email me for information on the availability of this painting

Finally, finished! This took a little while, mostly because of the many other activities that are going on this month with work and family. But, I'm happy with the outcome. The clouds took many layers of glazing to achieve the colors and billowy appearance of the thunderhead. The reference photo was actually taken this summer after having driven through the storm. It was very intense, but quite beautiful as well. This is fairly typical summer weather on the south side of Lake Michigan! We missed the accompanying tornado by about 6 miles.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Work continues!

Compared to the image below, you can see that work has moved forward with this new painting. But, there have been many interruptions - including a short but fun trip out of town, and many work related responsibilities. All in all - though feeling overwhelmed and unsure about how to proceed at various places - it does seem to be coming together. Still more needs to be accomplished - but progress is happening!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A new work in progress - storm clouds

Just so you know - I haven't posted this week, but that is because I am working on another, a bit larger painting. This - as you can see - is really about the drama of the skies. Just about a month ago, I drove through this storm in northern Indiana!! It was intense!! And as it turns out (I didn't know it at the time) there was a tornado just a few miles north of where I was! After we drove through it, this is what we saw behind us - an enormous bank of clouds. Very beautiful, and very large!

I'll post again as I complete more of the painting. Right now, I am adding layers of glazing to the clouds in order to achieve their very rich and variegated colors range.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Falling Leaves!

Falling Leaves, 5x5" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read

Please click here for information on availability

September has slipped by and now we are beginning the month of October! In honor of the beauty of the season, I have portrayed my very first little handful of beautiful fall leaves! The colors are very rich and diverse within each leaf! I hope the inspire memories of a beautiful season in every viewer.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Finally!! a new painting....

Curbside Profusion, 10 x 8" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read


It has been an incredibly busy month. The new school year has begun - that in itself is sheer craziness! And, I had an exhibit to put together and hang ~ which was hard work, but great! Both of these things are time intensive. But here and there I've also worked on another small painting and finally earlier this week, it was finished.

The story behind this one is simple - I saw this beautiful profusion of plants and grasses with many flowers blooming along the merchant district in our town! It caught my eye and my imagination because of its ... well - pure abundance! Thus the painting! I loved the shadows that fell and the many textures and colors. It was a little challenging getting all that chaos organized onto a canvas, but in the end - I think it portrays what I saw and enjoyed fairly well!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Paintings and writings from "Lessons from Matthew 6"

Lessons from Matthew 6

"...Consider the lilies of the field how they grow... yet not even Solomon in all his
glory was dressed as one of these. Your Heavenly Father already knows
all your needs, and he will give you all you need day by day if you live for him,
making his kingdom your priority."

A personal expression of faith:
A journey of questions and answers - A visual response.
(paintings ©Helen Read, with artist's notes)

Almost 10 years ago, I found myself in an unexpected place in life - devastating
life changes...
And deep questions haunted my heart:
Questions about God's love, questions about fear and God's protection and provision,
questions about the next steps.

His answers have been spoken through his Word and the beautiful tableau of his
creation. Through the language of beauty he has shown me his sustaining hand
and whispered quiet assurance of his love, strength and faithfulness.
The lovely work of his hand, as seen in creation, is the outpouring of his heart!

I love the pure abundance of flowers!
To me they are a statement of God's love. He gave his attention to the deepest, hidden parts while creating a profusion of colors, shapes, smells and sizes that capture our attention. Not only has he done it for his own delight, but as a gifting to us!
He is a God of Exquisite Detail!
Not just in the beauty of the world around us, but as he deals with our hearts and lives.

His Love:
Passages that spoke to my heart very powerfully as I put forth my questions, even my doubts, about his love come from Isaiah.

"Can a mother forget her young children? Can she feel no love for the child she has
borne? Even if that were possible, I will not forget you! See! I have written your name on
my hand."
(from Isaiah 49)

"For I have chosen you, and I will not throw you away!" (from Isaiah 41)

The God of Great Gifts has prepared beauty for the simple sake of beauty!
It bespeaks his very character. Often, he tucks His gifts into common things.... Gifts of love that are waiting to be discovered in passing moments, such as the tiny explosion of light as it hits a
delicate dew drop perched on the edge of a petal. He catches my eye in a
momentary display of wonder!

His Protection:
I can't count the number of times and myriad ways that I have been tempted and
often succumbed to fear. Fear about so many different things - sometimes well-founded
concerns that turn into dark foreboding thoughts. Sometimes my own imagination
begins to dictate my feelings.
In the depths of those time, his Spirit has met me in that lonely place.

"Its alright, I am here! Don't be afraid." (from Mark 6)

"Don't be afraid for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, you are mine! When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. For I am the Lord your God! I am your Savior!"
(from Isaiah 43)

Look deep into creation. His character is seen in all the details he has lovingly created.
His provision is constant and he protects and sustains the work of his hands.

"He is a shield to those who take refuge in him." (from Proverbs 3)

Why, I wonder, does Fear find such a foothold?
It is the temptation to doubt the love that God has declared for me.
Right at the moment that I think I may be alone, fear takes root!
But if I stop to look to both his word and the truth of his creation, I
see Goodness, Strength, and Protection.

Even in the most severe environments, he offers his care.
Even in my most severe circumstances, he shields me.

His Provision:
God's provision is seen in every aspect of his creation!
Not just providing the barest of necessities, but pouring from his hand
is bountiful profusion.

"Look at the birds, they do not plant or harvest or store up food because your Heavenly Father
feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are." (From Matthew 6)

"You crown the year with a bountiful harvest. Even the hard pathways overflow
with abundance!" (from Psalm 68)

Abundance can take many forms; not always in temporal things - but rather in the
heart - in the quiet certainty that, contrary to all appearances, God will provide!

The realm of nature provides such a wonderful example of God's provision.
Faithfully, he sends everything required for life, for everything he has created.

For his own people, though, his own reputation is on the line!
What kind of God would faithfully sustain the natural world and then neglect
the children whom he treasures? For the sake of his own name, he
faithfully provides and in his inimitable way, he provides bountifully!
I detect joy in his giving!

His Guidance:
Many times along the way, I have had no sense of what lies just beyond this day or this moment!
The next step, no matter which direction, is a step clouded in obscurity.

How I have struggled with uncertainty!
And yet, as I wait, a plan unfolds - often quietly without great fanfare -
but in ways far beyond my ability to have imagined.
And every piece of it fits into place with perfection!
There is only one explanation: Someone else's plan was in play!

"For I am about to do a brand new thing. See! I have already begun. Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness!" ( from Isaiah 43)

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. ' Plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.' " (from Jeremiah 29)

"He cares for his people with a true heart and leads them with skillful hands."
(from Psalm 78)

The journey is still in progress. I will continue to find instruction in God's lovely
creation. The pathway, I have found, is never marked out in detail ahead of
where I am today.

But, I can say this with certainty:
"I still belong to you! You are holding my right hand, you will keep on guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny." (Psalm 73: 23-24)
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