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Monday, December 26, 2016

Looking Back - Thinking Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

An Autumn Duo

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


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

For the purchased of both paintings as a diptych as shown below,
($70 saving)
Free shipping in the US,  IL residents, please add 8% sales tax) 

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

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

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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A few final touches until these are done

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 25, 2016

25% Discount for just a few days!

Now! Through Monday...

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

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

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

Here's the link!

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

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Glowing Light

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


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

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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Beautiful Mystery

Beautiful Mystery

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 22, 2016

What Inspires You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Changing Seasons - Seasons of Change

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

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

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

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

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

On this fall day this is my entry: 

Falling Leaves

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


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

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sunflower Trilogy

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


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A year ago.... and once again, Fall arrives

Autumn - Lake Ellyn,  8x10" Oil on canvas
© 2015, Helen Read 
Ready to Frame 
(Please add $20 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax) 

Last year about this time, I was finishing this painting!   So, I'm posting it again... it's that time of year again.  Fall is starting to make itself known!   It's a beautiful time of year as we see the last of all the green for awhile, exchanged for colors of golds and reds. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Evening Embers

Evening Embers, 10x8" oil on linen panel
©2016 Helen Read


ready to frame and hang
(Please add $20 shipping within the US, IL residents please add 8%sales tax) 


The last light of the evening - burning brightly against the darkening sky.   It all resembles hot embers still glowing in a dying fire.  What a beautiful artistic display of light, lighting the sky and horizon with one last blaze.
For me, it is a final gift for the evening - the Creator Artist sends His benediction of beauty with the promise of new light in the new day. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Some Exciting News

 Just sold!  
          It is very exciting whenever I sell my work!   I make it with that in mind!   This drawing, Curvature, was made about 6 years ago.  It is colored pencil on paper.  I posted it and then that was it..... until a little earlier this month when I was contacted by a design firm in San Francisco with a client who was interested in using it in their advertising and packaging.  So with some further negotiations, an agreement has been made and the original work has been sold.   
               And you just might be seeing it if you enjoy a good cup of coffee at Peet's!  I'm not entirely sure exactly how it will be used, but I'm excited that it will be used!   


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Old Walnut Tree ~ Just off the easel

The Old Walnut Tree, 9x12" Oil on Linen panel 
©2016 Helen Read
Ready to ship and frame 

(Please add $20.00 shipping in the US,  IL residents please add 8% sales tax) 

Its a sunny summer day with blue skies and big fluffy clouds that float lazily along.  Summer also means fields of flowers - and crickets and cicadas. 
 This painting depicts such a day.  It is ready to frame and  bring a touch of summer indoors.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A work just begun ~ first few steps

A new painting!  There are numerous steps to prepare for a new painting. 

1. Concept --- what captures my attention?  What do I find interesting, beautiful, intriguing?  What speaks to me and causes me to want to interpret it, explore it, and use it as a vehicle to learn and speak of something?

2. Arrangement & Editing -  how will I best arrange the elements to make visual sense?  Will I remove certain things, reposition certain things, simplify?  How can the arrangement of the components draw the eye of the viewer into the painting?

3. Evaluation - What values are shown?  Are these realistic values and how can I make notations so that when I mix my paint I have the proper values.  (You can probably see some of my notations in the top thumbnail and value study)

4. Create an underpainting - lay in thin washes of neutral colors to establish the composition and values. 

This is what you see in the lower image - which is a partial underpainting before I ran out of time this evening.

Next steps will be
1.  Finish the underpainting
2.  Establish the color harmony that I want to use. 
3.  Mix paint  for for proper color temperatures, mixtures, and values
4.  Begin to paint in thin layers, building up my painting.

Of course, throughout all this process I will be evaluating as I go to be sure I'm on target. 

This landscape will be 9x12" when finished and just in the first 4 steps at the top, a good amount of work and time has already been invested.  As the artist, I only have an idea of where this is going to end up - some of it will be determined along the way as the painting begins to speak to me! 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Summer Sunset

Summer Sunset,  8x10" Oil on canvas panel
©2016  Helen Read
Ready to frame
(Please add $20 shipping in the US,  IL residents please add 8% sales tax)

Aerial Drama!  This is a view from my backyard last week!  Such beauty!  And that word falls short of what it truly is ... breathtaking beauty!   Painting this was indeed a challenge.  The shapes of the clouds, the lights and darks of them, the colors of them, the streaks of light!   I hope I captured even a fraction of it!  

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sunflower ~ tattoo drawing

It's always a surprise when someone finds my work and has a special request!   A week or so ago, someone got in touch with me from England to ask for a design that they wanted to have made into a tattoo.  So, with a little bit of email discussion back and forth to find out exactly what was wanted - this is was the final design, sent off this evening.

It's an honor to have someone want to wear your art!   And, what a pretty tattoo this will be!   This is the 2nd tattoo design I've done for someone ...  both of them from England! 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Prayers from the Field - Landscape Exhibit

A new exhibit -
Prayers from the Field

A collection of 11 landscape paintings of God's beautiful physical world
with an artist's response. 
The Landscape Speaks to the Artist’s Heart

This series of paintings, accomplished over a period of several years, is meant to capture the beauty and wonder of the created world with its ever changing properties; the play of light, the depth of shadow, its changing colors as they brighten and fade, its proper clothing for the various seasons.

As I paint, I have also found that the landscape and all of creation, speak to me of the vastness, the beauty, the wisdom of our God who created it all.   I see His joy in what He has crafted, from expansive vistas to the close up view.  I see His intimacy and attention to the smallest details.

In response, my heart is called to prayer as I observe His lovely world. I am reminded of the faithfulness, the goodness
~ the GLORY~

of our beautiful God as He invites us to enter into it.

Winter Twilight ,  comes early in February.  It descends quietly.  The birds cease their wintry song and the gentle peace of evening falls with a final wash of setting sun on the horizon. 

“Oh Lord, Your goodness – Your beauty – is cast across Your creation, even in the bleakness of winter.  The final light of the evening bears witness of Your presence as a cold night falls.”

Winter Twilight,
24x36” Oil on stretched canvas,  Helen Read - 2016

The Thaw ~ those last days of winter before spring has yet to arrive.  The earth is shrouded in its waiting.  The dried leaves and traces of snow leave a broken path toward what will be.  And so, patience becomes the instructor.

“I live in a hurried world; a frenetic world.  Yet, I am reminded by observing Your world, Lord, that patience is a virtue.  You are patient and kind in Your tender care over my hurried life.  You never fail, and my lessons in waiting are never futile.”

The Thaw, 9x12” Oil on Gesso Board    Helen Read - 2015

Tall Oaks - standing upright, towering above the others in the
field - these 3 are strong, with spreading branches; beautiful sentinels that speak silently of their Maker. 

“Lord of Heaven – righteous and holy – let me find all my contentedness in You.  Strengthen me to stand firmly where You have planted me.”

Tall Oaks, 20x16” Oil on canvas panel, Helen Read – 2016

Spring Awakens,  Listen!  These new spring days are filled with joyful song… the birds have returned, the first leaves of green are emerging where once - not long ago - snow blanketed the earth.  Today, Life Rejoices!

“My spirit soars, Lord, as I breathe in the celebration that ushers in spring.  You are faithful in all Your ways.  You nurture Your creation.  You accept her glad praise!

Spring Awakens, 12x9” Oil on Linen Panel   Helen Read - 2016

Lincoln Marsh Pathway, it winds right and then left – it splits off and rejoins.  What winding uncertainty!  What lies ahead?  A destination not fully known.

“Oh, Faithful Lord, forgive my many doubts when I can’t see far ahead.  When I look back, You have always known the true path and held my hand, showing me the way.  Why would I doubt You now?”

Lincoln Marsh Pathway, 12x9” Oil on Linen Panel  Helen Read - 2016

Arbor Pathway.  Sunlight and shadow;  they always go hand in hand.  But without one, there is no other.  Both enhance and define the vista.

“You remind me, Lord, through observing Your world, that where there are shadows, there is the promise of Your light.  There is not one without the other.  And yes, they both give definition – they both are
the story of my path.”

Arbor Pathway, 16 x 12” Oil on Stretched Canvas,  Helen Read - 2015

Quiet Water.  If you listen, you will hear the sound of full summer – a very gentle breeze, the hum of cicadas, the ripples of water as it laps along the edge.   All this abundance clad in green.  Creation breathes peace to the soul.

“How could I not be reminded of these lines of David’s psalm,  ‘…He leads me beside still water, he restores my soul…’   You are the great restorer, Lord. You are the source of peace, and You give it gladly.”

Quiet Water, 12x9” Oil on Linen Panel    Helen Read - 2015

Moving Waters , rushing, churning, whirling, stirring… troubled water.  In this great force, one sees both power and that which sustains.   There is no quiet reflection here, but a streambed that is pulled upward toward the surface.  There are times when life itself has this turbulence… uncertainty, unexpected events, transitions.  

“In troubled times, Lord, I first see only the TROUBLE. It looms large and is overwhelming.  I easily forget to look beyond the forces of turbulence to see Your power is greater still and that Your hand is steady.  I  am slow to comprehend that perhaps You have allowed the rushing, churning, whirling of life around me
and will teach me of your goodness.
I find comfort in this - You have promised to sustain me.” 

Moving Waters, 8 x 10” Oil on Stretched Canvas   Helen Read - 2015

The Tunkhannock Viaduct.   It rises toward the sky and takes flight above a world of tangled green.  Through its arches and openings, the shimmering sunlight vibrates with life.  Even in man’s great constructions, the Creator’s touch gives a greater beauty.

“Yes, great feats of engineering and skill have been allowed to us in our humanity. But You, Lord, bless the works of our hands with Your touch of beauty and majesty.  Without Your touch, our greatest works are ordinary and temporal.  I need Your touch on everything I do!”

Tunkhannock Viaduct, 9x12” Oil on Stretched Canvas   Helen Read - 2013

Golden October,  Oh Color… Golden Color -  clothing for the autumn season…Magnificence that merely echoes the glory of God! How can we comprehend this otherworldly beauty?

“As I gaze at Your unbridled extravagance of color, Lord, it speaks of Your joy!  You spare nothing in the way of glorious, beautiful color.  You feed our souls with just a hint of Your glory!”

Golden October, 12x9” Oil on Linen Panel   Helen Read - 2016

Autumn at Herrick Lake, is a study of reflections and all that lies beyond.   Look deeply, beyond the shadows, beyond the carpet of floating leaves. There is the mystery of eternity here, nearly hidden.

“Beyond all I can see, beyond my ability to imagine… You are there, Lord, with a vast and unmeasured beyond.  What I can see is all that I imagine to exist, but You have treasures that I have never contemplated and an eternity in which to reveal them.” 

Autumn at Herrick Lake,  10 x 8” Oil on Linen Panel    Helen Read - 2015

Exhibit may be viewed: 
Evangel Baptist Church
1900 Manchester Rd, Wheaton, IL 

Paintings available - please email Helen or visit

Prices ~ framed and unframed 
8x10"    ~   $199 framed         $180 unframed
9x12"    ~   $274 framed        $245 unframed
12x16"   ~   $424 framed      $385 unframed
20x16"    ~  $759 framed       $720 unframed 
24x36"    ~     unframed $1598 

Frames are solid wooden frames - photo can be provided.
Please add $20.00 shipping within the US.,  IL residents please add 8% sales tax.
International shipping quoted upon request.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Once again ~ coneflowers

(Throwback Thursday)

I've just returned home from a week out of town, so I'm posting a set of 3 paintings from a few summers ago.
These have been on a long term loan, but are now returning to my studio. 
They are still available! 
I love their bright color and the interesting array of the center ~  a sense of being on fire!  The seeds in the center of a coneflower actually follow the fibonacci sequence, which is nearly impossible to duplicate in paint - but you do get a sense of the order in these paintings.

The top one, Front and Center, measures 8x8" oil, on a gallery wrapped canvas   $100.00(Please see note below about shipping and IL sales tax)

The lower left one, Center Flame, measures 7x5" oil on canvas   $80.00(Please see note below about shipping and IL sales tax)
and the lower right one, Coneflower, measures 5x7" oil on canvas  $80.00(Please see note below about shipping and IL sales tax)

They may be sold separately, but them make a strong impact as a group of 3. 
(15% discount on purchase of all 3)  - $221(Please see note below about shipping and IL sales tax)
(Please add $12.00 ea postage if mailed separately in the US.  International shipping is additional,
if mailing all 3 to the same address, please add $20 shipping in the US. 
IL residents, please add 8% sales tax)

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