Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Cheerful Good Morning!

Still drying!   This small gem - bright and colorful - seems to spread it's cheer. 
It is 7x5" oil on gesso board. 

A bright start to summer painting!  

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A White Iris


White Iris,  7x5" watercolor on 300# paper
©2017  Helen Read 


This week I received a commission to do this lovely little watercolor painting.  The video shows it's progress from first ideas, through the final rendition.  
It's always fun to see how the painting unfolds and becomes itself, often dictating to me along the way what it needs and how I need to make alterations.    It still needs to be matted and framed, but this here you see it's final form.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Another Sunflower Tattoo!

Sunflower ©2017 Helen Read 

I'm always a little amazed at the way in which we are connected through the internet!   Just this week, I've sold my 3rd sunflower tattoo to people who have found me online.  Several of those have been to people in the UK, and this one will be worn state side.  Each of them is similar, but is also unique - something that will not be worn by anyone else!  It is an honor to have someone wear my art, and in some cases I get to help them honor someone who was important to them.    And sunflowers seem to be the image that is most requested!   

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Thoughts on Creativity from my Garden

I'm writing, dear Creative Friends, from my garden this morning, where important ideas sometimes show themselves more clearly.    I include myself as I write (maybe I'm mostly writing to myself!)  although I think there may be some of you who find yourself where I do, sometimes.... or often!  

 We, as creative souls, need encouragement and words of inspiration to keep picking up the pencil or the brush, to sit down again at the keyboard, or pick up an instrument, or to just form thoughts into words.   
Because creative expression
can be

That haunting voice sometimes asks, "Why am I doing this?  Is it worth my time? Who is interested?" ... 
I am acquainted with that voice, too. 
So, here are some thoughts I am embracing today...
Thoughts to motivate and propel, rather than to paralyze and stymie.  This is a little love note to me and to you about our creative pathway.  

"We have been entrusted with something uniquely ours"

It is important to step out and share that special thing for good.   For me, and maybe for you too, I see this as a unique, one-of-a-kind endowment.  No one else (through all of time) has ever had my experiences, perceptions, or my particular voice.  To suppress that, to minimize it, or to deny it is a loss ~ to myself and to others. 

My faith plays into this in a big way.  I am a Christ-follower, and I want to use whatever interests and skills He has created in me to the highest value.  So, even when I wonder  "is this worth anything at all?"  
I need to embrace these realizations:

  • I will be an active participant, not an idle bystander. 
  • I will trust that the creative spirit, which is part of my deepest self and a reflection of our Creator, matters! 
  • I will step out of my comfort zone, out of complacency or my own imprisonment of self-doubt.  
  • I will remember that even when I can't see exactly where I am going (which is most of the time, if I'm perfectly honest), that I am not finding my way alone
  • I will recognize that fear paralyzes and it destroys.  It harbors all that limits me.
    So, let me encourage YOU, my creative friend...   Don't give in!  Don't give up!  Don't believe for a second that your art  ~ in whatever form it takes ~ is not worth the effort, because it is!    It's what your soul hungers for , what others near you need.... what the world needs! 


"You are the only person in this world who can express in your voice, what you see, or hear, or imagine."

Someone needs to hear it!  This world needs the beauty you bring to it.   Pick up your brush, plant that flowering plant, take hold of that musical instrument, move to the music you hear!  The world is a better place for it!  

"So, let's not get tired in doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap
a harvest of blessing if we don't give up."  
                             (Galatians 6:9  NLT) 


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Spring - again

Spring ends up being a very busy time of year in the life of a teacher.
In fact, there's hardly time to breathe as we finish the school year and get our graduates out the door and batten down the hatches for summer... 

So, I'm posting a couple of my favorites from Spring 2016! 
And I will be back in my studio producing Summer 2017 paintings very soon! 
Both of these, by the way, are still available!  

I don't know about you, but I never get tired of spring's arrival and the beauty it brings !
Spring Awakens, 12x9" oil on linen panel
Click here for more info

Lincoln Marsh Pathway, 12x9" oil on linen panel
Click here for more info


(Both of these are currently framed in a wooden frame, which can be included for an addition charge of $20.)

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Cat on the Wall

The Garden Wall, 6x9" oil on gesso board
©2017 Helen Read 
Ready to Frame
Please add $12.00 shipping in the US, Il residents please add 8% sales tax)

Almost lost in the shadows, watchful eyes see all that happens in this shady garden!
Should a bird or butterfly happen by, there might be some drama ~ otherwise, all is quiet and peaceful! 

This summer scene is ready to frame and send to it's new home! 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Summer Bouquet

Summer Scents (peonies),  7x5" oil on gesso board
©2017 Helen Read
(Ready to frame)

Please add $10 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax.  

What speaks the lazy days of summer as much as a casual bouquet of peonies in an old fashioned mason jar?
These pink and white beauties are have such sweet aroma and that lovely pop of color, set against the beautiful blue of a country window and shutter.  I love the sense of calm serenity they give.

Perhaps that speak that kind of serenity to your heart.

This lovely little painting is almost dry ~ ready to find it's new home!  

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Charm of Blue Doors

Street of Blue Doors,  6x6" oil on Clayboard
©2017, Helen Read 
(Ready to frame) 
(Please add $10 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax) 

How charming!   A country village, a simple street made beautiful by the robin's egg blue of its doors and windows.    Further adornments are made by the lovely container gardens along by every window and doorway.
A small delight for the eyes.  A place of peace and a quieter pace.

This painting is ready to frame - it is done with oil on clayboard which gives it a matte finished.  The colors are reminiscent of what you might see in a quaint French village.  Maybe it is just the right pop of color for your home!  (Or the home of someone you know!)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Roses and Wine

Roses and Wine, 7x5" oil on gesso board 
©2017  Helen Read 

Another Small Gem!  The table is set!  Are you ready to be seated?
A little outdoor picnic on a warm spring day.  Roses casually set into a pitcher, wine glass and plates ready to be filled, laughter and conversation with family and friends.  Perfect! 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Small Gems

During these last few wintery months, I've been experimenting and trying some new things - and I've nicknamed these small, but brilliantly colorful little paintings "Small Gems".  They just remind me of gemstones, in a way; mostly because of their clear and brilliant color.  Sparkling!    They have been a lot of fun.  Colorful, and using a free and looser style than I've done in a long while.  Also, each of these is done on gesso board - which is a smooth, rigid surface and it allows for some very beautiful brushwork as layers are built up and the texture of the strokes shows through.

I'm interested to know what you think!  Do you like these bright and happy colors?  Do you like the looser style?  Leave a comment for me...finding out what you think is very important to me!

Some of these have already found their new home, but please scroll down and see the ones that are available.  Each is ready to ship and to frame.  (Of course, if you really like one that has found a home, a similar one can be created!)

French Peonies,  5x7" Oil on gesso panel 
©2017 Helen Read
(ready to frame) 
(Please add $10 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax)

Spring Tulips, 12x9" Oil on gesso board 
©2017 Helen Read 
(ready to frame)
(Please add $20 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax) 

Sunflowers in Cobalt, 7x5" Oil on Gesso Board
©2017 Helen Read
Ready to Frame
(Please add $10.00 shipping in the US,  IL residents please add 8% sales tax) 

Poppies in Bloom, 6x12" Oil on gesso board 
©2017, Helen Read
(ready to frame) 
(Price includes shipping in the US.  IL residents, please add 8% sales tax)

Lavender Fields, 5x7" Oil on gesso board
©2017 Helen Read
(ready to frame) 
(Please add $10 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax)

Chicago Flower Market, 7x5" oil on gesso board
©2017 Helen Read
(ready to frame) 
(Please add $10 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

French Peonies

French Peonies,  5x7" Oil on gesso panel 
©2017 Helen Read 
(ready to frame) 
(Please add $10 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax)

Such beautiful color - like gemstones in bloom!   Beautiful restful colors of blue and pink.  You can almost smell their delicate scent.  A reminder that it is a wonderful thing to slow down, breathe deeply, and find delight in the colors of springtime.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Field in Bloom!

Poppies in Bloom, 6x12" Oil on gesso board 
©2017, Helen Read 

(ready to frame) 
(Price includes shipping in the US.  IL residents, please add 8% sales tax)

Late Spring brings about beautiful blooms.  And this small landscape boasts a field of red as poppies dance in the wind.  This painting is created in a long and thin format that lends that sense of wide open spaces. 
It is ready to send and will bring a bright spot of color with a touch of Old World charm.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sunshine and Blue

Sunflowers in Cobalt, 7x5" Oil on Gesso Board
©2017 Helen Read
Ready to Frame
(Please add $10.00 shipping in the US,  IL residents please add 8% sales tax) 

Color!   Beautiful color all around us - in the simple things - in the everyday things - in creation.
And not just 1 color can be seen in a particular thing, but a whole world of colors!
To me, this is a joyful thing - a celebration for the eye.  (And for the spirit, too!)

I've always been attracted to the bold beauty of sunflowers, and here, they are off set by the deep blue of a cobalt pitcher.  They seem to have been made for each other!  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February was a busy month!

It's always fun to look back a little bit and see what has happened in the past few weeks.  I've done some smaller paintings on gesso board.  Working out some new ideas in color and in brushwork.  Here's a little sampling of some of my explorations

I love the brilliant colors and experimenting with new ideas...  What do you think?  Do you love color too, and a painterly effect? 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Spring is on it's way!

Spring Tulips, 12x9" Oil on gesso board 
©2017 Helen Read 
(ready to frame)
(Please add $20 shipping in the US, IL residents please add 8% sales tax) 


Ah... spring time.   In the northern part of the country, it can be a long wait.   The beauty of spring flowers reminds my heart that spring will soon be here in all it's beauty.  Tulips are one of the first messengers!
I love their soft colors and the simplicity of a simple jar of flowers.   This composition is clothed in soft colors of spring time, with luscious passages of texture in the brushwork.
It is ready to send to it's new home! 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Coffee Anyone?!

Last summer.... 

I was contacted by a design firm in San Francisco.  They were interested in the drawing you see above, Curvature. 
I did this colored pencil drawing about 6 years prior...and had sort of forgotten about it!
They thought it would be just right for a coffee company to use on their packaging -
was I interested in selling the rights to it's use? 

After some discussion, that's just what happened - and now, these months later, the bags have been printed.
You can see the background of the coffee bag is a how they used my work.  (And, I've been told that they are using the image on boxes too, but I haven't seen those yet)

It was only after our agreement that I found out it was Peet's Coffee that was the buyer! 
I couldn't be happier!  They also bought the original work. 

All of this came about rather unexpectedly, but most happily!
I think that's called Serendipity! 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Flowers for Valentine's Day!

Give Your Valentine Flowers that Never Fade!

For my friends who are on my newsletter list, I'm offering a special 20% discount on these floral paintings until Valentine's Day.  Now would be a great time to join my list and get a little Valentine's Day love! 

My list is secure and never shared.  And you won't be inundated with mail from me either.  You'll get an update about once a month.   See below for how to join me, so you can receive some special offers and all the latest news! 

Winter Blossoms, 8x10" Oil on canvas panel
©2017, Helen Read

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sunspots on a Summer Afternoon

Sunspots,  12x9" Oil on linen panel
©2017  Helen Read

Ready to Frame
(Please add $20 shipping in the US,  IL residents please add 8% sales tax)

On a warm afternoon in late summer, most of the terrain is in shadow ... except for those few brightly lit spots of sunshine that seem to beckon.  I was drawn to the beautiful reflective water with those distance spots of warm sunshine being the perfect complement to the shadowy greens.
Peaceful, serene and yet quite alluring. 

Have you ever wondered how a painting gets started?   

You can see the beginning steps for this painting by scrolling down a few entries or just click here!
The research and the preparatory steps may surprise you! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Getting started on a new painting

I always find it interesting to see the process an artist uses in their work, don't you?  My process is always being re-evaluated and perfected, so I don't feel like I have "arrived".  But, these first steps do seem to work well to get a new painting started.  

I start with a few thumbnails sketches: 

Thumbnails are quite rough ~ they are a true sketch.  In a thumbnail, I check out the composition - rearrange things if necessary, simplify a little, and see which format I think will work best.  Here, I've tried a horizontal and square format - and below, I have used the vertical format.  This is the format I think will work best, so I've made a few field notes here as well - mostly noting where lights and shadows play an important role. 

When doing a value study, connecting the darker values is also important.  This will help tie the composition together and allow the eye to flow along.  Isolated dark values need to connect somehow to other dark values.
This is where artists may want to use a notan drawing to see that this is happening.

My next step it to work out values with a value study.  It is a little more detailed than a thumbnail sketch, and I'm paying much closer attention to values.  What I've found to be true is that values play an absolutely essential role in a believable landscape painting - well - probably ANY painting!!   You can see below that I made some notes about values and I've used a value scale to match them. 
Also, notice that I've been pretty careful to do this value study in the proper ratio for the canvas I will be using.

There's quite a bit of sketching in preparation for the beginning of a new painting!  But, all this will pay off as you get started! 

 I have decided on a 12x9" canvas - and I'm using a linen panel for this.  The linen is a pleasure to paint on - it has some tooth, of course, but a wonderful surface for the paint. 
In the photo below, I've made a few little marks to note where the convergence of thirds is on the canvas.

Keeping the "Rule of Thirds" in mind will help me compose an interesting arrangement.  I'm not really diverging too much from the actual scene, but I'm looking to arrange things so that the eye moves through the composition and doesn't get lost or bored or move out of the picture completely. 

The Rule of Thirds essentially says that the eye would like to see something interesting, compositionally, where the 1/3 segments of the picture plane converge.  So, there are 4 such spots on the plane.  Utilizing one of them will be a good thing to do.  There's much more to compositional rules, of course, but this is a relatively easy one to observe.

Using a light touch, I've drawn out a very simple and very minimal line drawing of the composition.  It's a little hard to see, but if you look carefully, you will see that there is a tree lying along the 1/3 marks on the left side.  I've used a 5B pencil to do this and am only marking the larger shapes.  

Now,  I'm ready to start the under painting!    Not every painting starts this way, but I like the effect and I think it helps resolve the whole idea of correct values.   I've used a combination of thinned Transparent Earth Yellow and Chromatic Black (both are Gamblin colors) to get a very neutral tone to start laying in values.  This will be a monochromatic under painting, so I'm only looking at values at this point rather than local color.

Because I'm working with thinned paint, its pretty easy to correct shapes - and even values - if I put something in the wrong place or I need to lighten values.   You can see my start above.  And a little more work on proper values in the photo below.

Now, I will let this dry and check again for proper values.  Once I'm satisfied that I have gotten the values down correctly, I will start working with color. 
That will be another post!   

I hope this has been interesting to see a process!  And it truly is a process! 
I don't really know of any artist who just sets up their canvas and palette and paints successfully without proper preparation.  And - the several hours that this has already taken to work through is just the beginning!  There will be more hours of analyzing color, mixing proper values of those colors, and applying the paint. 

Check back in a few days to watch the progress of this one.  There are some lovely passages of blues and greens that just capture the imagination and stir the heart with the beauty of God's creation! 

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