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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! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Landscape commission ~ progress report

These last few weeks, I've been working on a landscape commission pretty steadily.  Scroll down a bit and you'll see some earlier renditions.  I am now working on the foreground and on the right side, I have a little more background to work on.  Then, I'll begin working on the foliage for the tree.  It is progressing!  Slowly, but then, its a larger landscape (20"x 24") so there's simply more canvas to cover!  It will be finished before long, though, and on its way to its new home out east!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday night

Friday evening  .... and it's gotten cold here in the Midwest.  It seemed a good thing to start a fire in the fireplace and begin a new painting.   It's been a long week with teenage students, early mornings, grading, professional development, faculty meetings, etc. 

I'm welcoming the weekend!  

Monday, November 10, 2014

November Gathering, again!

November Gathering, 8x8" Oil on Canvas
©2007, Helen Read
$120.00 - deep wrap canvas, painted on sides - framing optional
($12.00 shipping in US - IL Residents please add 8.25% sales tax)

A few Novembers ago, I posted this painting... which I still love! The hostas had turned a beautiful yellow which was juxtaposed with the deep violet of the mums.  All of these were growing in my yard.  The colors vibrate with fall colors.   This painting is ready to find a new home!  It may be just perfect for yours! 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Landscape commission on my easel

I've been busily working on a commission just lately... also trying to do a few other things at the same time, but this shows the progress I'm making on the commission.  It gives a good progression from rough sketch to beginning to apply paint - and now beginning to get some details put in. 
It measures 20 x 24" and I started by toning the canvas a tint of violet.  The rough sketch is made from a group of reference pictures I was given.  The rough sketch is at the top.  Then, I did an oil sketch on the canvas and began blocking in some shadow areas.  Finally I painted the sky, trying to pay attention to the altering colors of blue withing a clear sky.  Then, I began putting some details in with the trunks of the tree in the foreground.  It is weathered and gnarled, but yet quite graceful.  And in the last picture, you can see some of the back ground mountains and cliffs.  Its obvious I have a lot more to do, but it seems to be taking shape.  I will post the progress I make in the coming weeks. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Egret watercolor ~ Throwback Thursday!

Knee Deep - Snowy Egret, 7 x 11.5" watercolor/acrylic on paper
©2010, Helen Read
Matted in white and ready to frame in 11x14" frame
($12.00 shipping in US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax)

From a few years ago!
The reference picture for this painting was one I made on a recent trip to South Carolina.  It was beautiful to watch this stately bird slowly, methodically watch for small fish to happen by - and then - suddenly! .... captured.  

Great gift idea! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A little autumn color

Autumn Color, 7 x 4.75" watercolor on Yupo paper 
©2014, Helen Read 
matted in white to fit a 12 x 9" frame
(Please add $10.00 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax)

A view from my backyard this fall..... I caught the beautiful palette of colors just as the sun shown through the leaves, lighting up everything in sparkling light!   Every color in the spectrum made itself known in the dazzling light!   I painted on Yupo paper, which is very smooth and gives a very loose feeling to the work.  You will also see the application in a few areas of salt, which give an interesting texture to the final outcome.  This is matted in white and ready to frame in your frame! 
Add a little color to your decor!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Students' Work!

Being a high school art teacher can be long and tiring... often with little feed back from my students.  But this week, they showed some pretty solid progress in their drawing skills!  I'm proudly posting some of their works!

We spent a little time finding reference pictures, making a grid, transferring the image, and shading it realistically (pencil on paper).
This is from 2 of my Drawing 1 classes, and the improvement in their skills is rather exciting!  This is a sampling of my approximately 55 students in Drawing this semester. 

Well done!! I'm proud of you!! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Yellow Halo

Yellow Halo, 11 x 7.5" watercolor on paper
©2008, Helen C Read
matted in white and ready to frame in 14 x 11" frame
($12.00 shipping in US - IL Residents, please add 8.25% sales tax)

After being out of town last weekend and catching up all this week, I'm looking back and reposting a floral painting from a few years ago.  I was captured by the tiny yellow flowers that hovered above the center of this pink zinnia.  They appeared to be like a little halo.  This comes to you matted in white, ready to frame in a 14 x 11" frame.  It is ready to ship! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A new commission I've started ~ first steps

I've been commissioned to do a landscape painting of a southwest mountain scene.  And this is my beginning.  Here, you see a toned canvas (20x24") and a lightly made pencil sketch. 

This is the next step.  I've used a light wash of color to show my basic composition.  The left side of the painting is still a little vague and being worked out.    I'll keep posting as I continue with my progress! 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oil Pastel Landscapes!

Original Oil Pastel Landscapes 
Each of these is matted in white and ready to frame in a 9 x12" frame
Each measures 6x8" (unmatted size) and is priced at

 (Please add $10.00 shipping; IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax)
Please note, if purchasing more than 1 being shipped to the same address, adjustment will be made in the form of a refund for excess shipping

I've been looking at some of my oil pastels and realized I have quite a few of them that need a home of their own!   Oil pastel paintings are lovely and expressive; lush in color and showing interesting textures.  Each of these are done in an Impressionistic style and depict different aspects of landscapes in different seasons.   I've matted each of these in white, making them ready to put into a standard 9x12" frame.  They are priced at an inviting price, and would make a distinctive gift (as the holidays approach) or would bring a delightful spot of color to your wall. 
Now is the perfect time to have one sent your way!  

 (please click the links below for links to each painting)

 Top row - left to right: 

Middle Row - left to right

Bottom Row - left to right

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

From the Archives ~ Woodsy Oil Pastel

Woodland, 8.5 x 6" Oil pastel on paper
©Helen Read
matted and ready to frame in 12 x 9" frame
(please add $10.00 shipping in the US,  IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax) 

Have you ever wandered along a wooded trail - foggy - somewhat indistinct in the distance.  Often that type of light gives a quiet softness to the colors and shapes.  This painting gives that sense of mystery.  The style is reminiscent of the expressionists; the colors are lyrical. It invites the viewer in to walk along the pathway.
It is matted and ready to ship.  Just add your frame and its ready to hang!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Yellow Leaf!

Yellow Leaf - 5 x 3.75" mixed media on paper
matted and ready to frame in 8x6" frame
©Helen Read

(Please add $10.00 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax)

I thought it might be fun to find a few things from time to time that I did in the past.  These artworks are still available!  This is one that I have recently matted and its ready to frame in an 8x6" frame.  This one is from 2007.  I don't have too many works left from then, but here's an opportunity to give it a new home and brighten yours as well as you welcome fall's arriving!  Some of the first leaves to show their color change are these lovely heart-shaped leaves that turn a bright, sunny yellow.  For an amazingly low price for an original work,  bring a lovely spot of color to your book shelf or a small wall.  What a great way to celebrate the coming of fall!

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