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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Landscapes and Palette Knives

A couple posts back, I posted the beginning of this landscape - a roadway ... maybe the road less traveled?     It's only in progress here - but in order to keep this one loose and expressive, I'm using a palette knife to apply the paint.  The top picture shows how far I've progressed.  The bottom picture gives a detail of how texture and broken color creates the effect of trees along a road side - yet it is not precise... it leaves the eye to do color mixing and to imagine the scene.  


Monday, September 17, 2018

Fly Away Home

This little mini painting and its easel was my Give-Away in this month of September!
And it is headed to Mississippi! 
That's right ....  a free oil painting to one of my friends!  

So - who are these special friends? 
They are the ones who get my news note every month.

And YOU could be one of these special friends too! 
You will get a colorful fun message in your inbox during the first week of every month. 
In that note, you'll see 
  • the latest work from my studio, 
  • hear the latest news, 
  • find out about the contests for free paintings that I run every few months, and how to participate
  • get notice of special discounts (only available to my friends), 
  • and get a download that I make just for you 

It's fun, it's free ... and it's a great way to stay in touch. 
You've got nothing to lose - and you just might have something to gain! :)   

Hit the sign me up button below and you'll be added to my list! 
You can text the word  Helen  to 22828

Yes! Let's be friends!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Take Away - The subtractive approach

The subtractive approach.... For me it's a new way to start a landscape painting. 

I began this painting with transparent paint on a white canvas - covering most of it with broad strokes using a large brush. 

I very roughly added in some values - but no forms show at all yet.

And then, I began to subtract - in very general ways.  

Finally, a landscape idea is beginning to emerge ... but only beginning! 

The underpainting is done.  I'm most concerned about values at this stage - I want the under structure to be composed where values link together.  It's not quite a notan expression, but almost!  
Next steps will add color ~ and the landscape will continue to emerge. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Balancing Act - Life, work, and making art

It really is.... a balancing act!   I've been doing it for years! 

In the busyness of life - family, work, keeping a home and all those time intensive requirements, how does one find the time to  pursue and hone the artistic work that calls to the artist's spirit!?   Some of us don't have a choice because others are depending upon what we do.  Does that mean the artist within has to be pushed aside or put on hold?    No! But, it does take perseverance!  Keep reading for some do-able tips!   Read more here

Friday, August 31, 2018

Giving away a little gift .....

This little painting will be someone's gift in September!   

Maybe for you??? 

Every few months I paint a mini painting and have a contest for my friends to see who I send it too! 
It comes with a mini easel for display as well. 

It's completely free!!  

But you do have to enter the contest in order to be the possible recipient! 
If you are already on my friends list - and receive my monthly note - then you'll be getting all the details in a few days when September's note is sent.   If you aren't yet on my friends list, then ....  join me!!    Every month I send a note to my friends with little bits of news, an inside peek at what's going on in my studio - new paintings especially, and give-aways, contests, and free downloads.   It's visual and fun; a great way to stay in touch! 
Just text the word Helen to 22828  to be added, or 
just hit the button below! 

My next note will come to your inbox during the first week in September! 
And you'll find out how to enter this contest.

Yes! Include me too!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Capturing Beauty...

Just that moment in time ...  the artist captures it. 
Quickly it becomes something else. 

I speak as an artist - but I also speak as an art lover.  That moment in time is forever past - and yet, it remains.  
There's something quite special about that. 
From the eye, mind, and hand of the artist - that moment lives on to bring pleasure, intrigue, and thoughtful contemplation to many. 

I'd love to include you... 

Every month, I send out a short news note to my friends with previews of my latest work, glimpses of life as an artist and teacher, encouraging words to all of us who have a busy pace of life, free gifts, discounts, contests for free art, and more. 

If you haven't joined the fun yet - it's super easy to do so! 
You'll get a note from me in your inbox about once each month - it's a great way to stay in touch!  

Just text the word  Helen to 22828

or hit the button below!   

Yes! I want to join you!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Need a Creative Boost?

We all need a shot of encouragement from time to time! 

I know I do!
From envisioning to planning, from sketching ideas and making thumbnail sketches - to bringing your vision into being, we can get stuck along the way. 
We can wonder if our ideas are any good - if anyone will see the idea as we do.  We wonder if we know how to bring our thoughts into it's final form.  We doubt ourselves all along the way - and sometimes that doubt causes creative paralysis. 
... discouragement
... fear.  

 Guess what!
You aren't alone! 

It is a common sidetrack for the creative mind.  But we don't have to stay stuck. I would love to send you a word of encouragement - artist to artist - every month.  This is different than my usual newsletter each month.  This is a short message geared more toward those who value encouragement and the motivation that can result from being cheered along.  
  It doesn't matter what type of creative work that you love, encouragement is for all of us! 

Hit the button below and you'll start receiving free encouragement along with ideas and tips to keep you motivated as a creative spirit!  (And who doesn't like free encouragement, after all!? ) 

Yes! Send encouragement!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Fields and fields of coneflowers!

Coneflower Fields, 8x10" oil on linen panel
©2018  Helen Read
(ready to frame)
$190.00 Domestic shipping included,  IL residents please add 8% sales tax 

 Just a few weeks ago, I was wandering down the dusty road that is the very scene you see above. 
I was visiting my family who now lives in Idaho - and this beautiful field of coneflowers was catching the evening light just before sunset.    It was beautiful - arresting with the golden light being cast across the field.
I knew that this would need to be remembered in a painting!   A quiet moment captured!

One more thing...  I love staying in touch with my friends who find me online. 
Every month I send out a visual note that has fun possibilities!  I include such things as discounts, give-away contests, free gifts and downloads.  It's easy to join up... Just click the button below and it will take you to an easy sign up page!  Join my group of friends - it's easy and fun!

Yes! I want to join you!

Friday, August 3, 2018

40% off on some of my favorite paintings!

Some of my favorite small paintings need a home - and I need to make room for new ones! :) 

So, for a few days - get 40% off! 

The only way you'd know about this is if you get my 1x a month news letter.  And it's so easy to start receiving it.
But, why would you want to? 
Every month you'll get something special! 
  • Colorful and cheerful art that you get to see each month. 
  • Discounts, free gifts, give-away contests, and such things just for you as a friend of mine! 
  • News about the latest that's happening here in my studio 
  • Encouraging words for artists and for all of us 
  • Staying connected, friend to friend
So... sign up now - you won't be inundated with lots of emails, but you will get to hear from me every month.
Once you sign up, you'll get this latest letter with the details of this month's discount and a FREE gift inside too!  

You join the fun 2 ways  -  text the word Helen to 22828

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Artist's Sketchbook

How do I find the time 
in a busy life of studio work, teaching, and - well, living ......  

The truth is.... I don't - not always.  But, I know the value of it! 
And I always come back to my resolve to take the time and be disciplined to record my creative thoughts and work.

Why I feel it is highly valuable: 
  • It is a personal roadmap of growth - both of ideas, of skills, of experimentation
  • It is a place to have the often necessary internal dialog of the artist ... to write out fears, roadblocks, motivations, etc  and to resolve the things that need resolution 
  • It can become the motivation needed at some point in the future
  • It is a portable place to work out visual ideas and difficulties 
  • It can be filled with color and beauty - a pleasure to make and to look at!
  • It can act as a record of work done - problems encountered and solutions that worked
  • And it stands as a record of my productivity - a type of accountability tool.

A Peek Inside My Sketchbook!  

I often use my camera to take a photo of something that I find inspiring.... making notes about what I'm seeing and why it inspires my thoughts.  That usually results in a sketch or a small watercolor sketch 

 This sketch was one of my thoughts on a commission -  working out proportions, ideas, colors, in colored pencil.
Then, I photographed the progress - as the painting took shape. 
When it was complete and in use, there was some printed material that I included.

 So many blooms were all at once making their appearance in full color in my garden!
So inspiring...  I sketched out an idea very roughly
And then photographed the completed painting  - making notes about the methods I used,
the outcome, what I liked about the method, etc. 

Sometimes, especially when I am away from my studio (traveling) - it becomes a portable studio.
Sketching should always be part of the artist's life - honing the practice of really seeing and recording that sight. 

As you can see, the beauty of nature ~ God's Creation ~ is a huge inspiration to my artist's eye...  I love to explore the shapes and lines, colors and values -  all of this is recorded in my sketchbook. 

Leave a comment below!  
How do you use your sketchbook?   Do you struggle with the discipline of keeping one?
Maybe you've found some great tips for keeping up with this practice - share your ideas!! 

Oh, by the way, I'm just starting a new way to keep in touch!!
A way for all of us to stay inspired and motivated!

Do you need regular inspiration like I do?
Do you enjoy seeing artist's tips and ideas?
Do you find creative and spiritual encouragement motivating? 

I'm sending out several short emails a month - which is a different email than my monthly newsletter - specifically to encourage others in their creative pursuits.
In the busyness of life (who isn't busy), finding balance can be difficult and often, our creative work gets pushed aside...  There has never been a time when beauty is more needed!  Inspiration and motivation should never be in short supply!   Hit the button below and get regular encouragement for your work!   

Yes! I want to join you!

Look for an email of encouragement in your inbox soon! 
(If you are already a news note friend, but would like to get these emails of inspiration and motivation, be sure to join with the button above.  This is a separate group!) 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Edge of Shadow

The Edge of Shadow,  9x12" colored pencil on black paper
©Helen Read 

Just this week, one of my botanical drawings from a few years back was selected to appear in a new publication, Just Draw Botanicals by Helen Birch, which will be available on Amazon.  I'm not sure of the publication date - some time in 2018, I think.   This has long been one of my favorite drawings, so I'm honored to have it requested for this publication.   The contrasts make it stand out - contrasts in light and shadow, smooth and jagged edges, color and eliminated color... all of it creates a sense of dimension.  

Botanicals make for a very interesting subject matter.  Sometimes less is a lot more when it comes to color and shape!  

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sketching ... a visual journal.

My garden is in full bloom.... Hydrangeas, Daisies, Day Lilies, and luxurious foliage in so many shapes, sizes and hues!
I can't resist bringing some insides....
and then guess what happens!

They look so inviting - so ready to have a portrait made!!  

And then... 
I'm compelled.  To draw ~ to see it with a pencil in hand.  
To enjoy the quiet expenditure of time and attention,
letting my eyes see beyond what is general.

So, either with a pencil or a paint brush, I love exploring a subject -
seeing it more deeply - recording the sense of it as well as the details. 

My sketchbook is a collection of thoughts  - both visual and verbal, of notes, of images.
It records much about the creative journey.

Do you keep a visual journal as well?  

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sunshine and Shadow

Sunshine and Shadow, 9x6" oil on gessoboard
©2018  Helen Read 
ready to frame

(domestic shipping included,  IL residents please add 8% sales tax)

So much is blooming in my garden right now!  I can't paint fast enough!   This combination really spoke to me visually - such lovely contrasts, both in shapes and in colors.   I've noticed though how quickly these beautiful flowers bloom and fade... but when captured in the soft swirls of colorful pigment, they last forever!   Ready to mail as soon as it is dry and ready to frame and hang!  Bring some everlasting color and cheer into your home!  :).

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Quiet Escape

We all need a quiet escape once in awhile!
a place to collect our thoughts, let our imaginations loose, and enjoy a peaceful break from the
busyness of daily life...

Country Cottage, 12x9" Oil on gessoboard
© 2018  Helen Read 
ready to frame 

(includes free domestic shipping, IL residents please add 8% sales tax)

I found this little cottage on one of my "get aways".   I was wandering through the beautiful grounds of Descanso Gardens and almost hiding behind the foliage I came upon this!  While it may have very likely had a practical purpose, it ignited my imagination.  It seemed to me that it could have fit into a fairy tale, or perhaps a Jane Austen novel.  
Whatever thoughts it evokes in you, it does exude peace and remind us of quiet getaways, which we all have need of at times.

It is still drying and will be ready to send to it's new home in a few more days.  Add a moment of whimsy and charm to your space!
The purchase price includes domestic shipping!

Look below to see a quick video of it's production... it's always interesting to see how a painting comes together!  

Monday, June 25, 2018

The allure of color

    It draws the eye in..... beautiful vibrant color.  
Almost too much for the eye to see;  with all it's nuances and it's depth. 

The immediate weeks of summer break after a busy teaching year are a time of transition.  I look forward to summer and then when it's here, I know it's going to go quickly... so, I want to pack in as much as I can and start immediately.  But, rest is needed.  Time to slow down, reflect, think through where I've been in this last year and where I need to go.
It takes a few weeks of a slower pace, catching up on sleep, and quietly letting ideas take shape.

So in these last few weeks, I've been cultivating my garden, cultivating my thoughts and ideas, as well as planning and working on a new painting, which I'll share in an upcoming post.  

Somehow - color, in this process, is a catalyst.  Such depth of beauty causes the mind to soar.   This delphinium blooms for such a short while each year - but it's vibrant, rich color stirs my mind.  What is it that draws you in?  How are you given to notice and celebrate which in turn inspires you to do deeper? 


This little guy has found it's new home!   This was my June gift to a special email friend.
Throughout the year, every few months I give a small painting away!
The only way to find out about it is from my email, which comes out at the start of each month. 

Then, I assign a number to each entry and use an internet site to randomly pick one of the entries to be the winner. 

You'll need to sign up for my email to know when this is going to happen.  It's super simple.  You can either text the word
Helen  to 22828
 Click the button below! 

Now you are all set, and you'll find out about my next give-away! 
WELCOME!   You can never have too many friends!   And, I'm so glad I can call you a friend! 

Yes! Sign me up!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

No, it's NOT too late!

But it will be in a few more days!  
This little mini oil painting will be given away on June 20th! 
It's easy to get the details -  Join my list of friends and  you'll receive instructions about how to enter the contest.

Not only that, but you'll get a fun & friendly monthly email with news from my place to yours. It's a great way to stay connected in this disconnected world! 
I include free downloads, my latest work, discounts, and contests. 
I also include encouraging words that we all need to hear from time to time. 

It's easy to join - just click the button below and you'll be "in"!   

Join the fun right here!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Perfect Beauty!

Peony Bloom, 7x5' oil on gessoboard
©2018 Helen Read 
(ready to frame) 
Domestic shipping included,  IL residents please add 8% sales tax 

     One of my favorite things about spring is the beautiful array of flowers!   Where I grew up, we did not have such an abundance of variety.  There were beautiful wildflowers in bloom, and sometimes they covered the fields in blue or orange or yellow for a few weeks  ... but in term of garden flowers, it was mostly too hot.   Now, where I live, after the long siege of winter (which sometimes seems endless), we have a delightful succession of colors and shapes and sizes and ... scents!!  
    My first real introduction to peonies was in one of my first homes in Wheaton.  It was an old farm house that had a neighborhood grow up around it.  And along one whole side of the home were about 40 feet of peonies in various shades of pink.  They were a delight of springtime with a scent that was indescribable... a little like a rose, but something of it's very own.  
    My current home has a lovely display of peonies in the backyard, and so it was inevitable that a painting would have to happen!  It's been a very busy few weeks with the end of the semester at work - but - I found time to capture the exuberant color and beauty of a single lovely bloom before peony season is over!  

It comes ready to frame and domestic shipping is included!  Add a little bit of vibrant color to your walls!  It is drying and will be ready to ship in a few days!  

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Red, red robin ... Giveaway!

Red Robin,  3x3" oil on canvas
©2018 Helen Read

This little guy will be given to one of my newsletter friends in the month of June! 
It's an original oil mini painting, and will have a small easel for display.
Just the thing for a bookcase or desk top!  

And it's FREE!!  I'll be having a drawing in June and it will wing it's way to one of my friends at their home!
To find out all the details, be sure to read my June newsnote - it's coming soon!
Oh... you need to sign up?!   Easy... just hit the button below!  

Yes! Let's stay in touch!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Ahhhh - apple blossom time!

Apple Blooms,  6x6 colored pencil on clayboard
©2018 Helen Read

(ready to frame) Includes domestic shipping - IL residents, please add 8% sales tax

It's just for just a few days in the spring... the profusion - the scent - it's magical! 
And then, the blossoms have fallen.    They become a pink or white carpet
underfoot for just a few more days. You can miss the whole cycle, if you aren't looking for it!  
It truly is a lovely few days!

This is one of the most busy time of  year for a school teacher.  Students are trying to finish the semester (some of whom need some prodding), grading must be finished up, final exams are scheduled, then there's more grading, and finally closing things down for a few months.  Finding the time to create comes in starts and stops.  So, this is the perfect time to work with colored pencil.  You don't have to worry about paint drying too much or not enough.

I've created this colored pencil drawing on clayboard, which is a super smooth surface that accepts the
pencil quite well.  The work you see shows a little progression from the white surface to colorful shapes.

And, do you wonder what it might look like framed? 
Although this comes to you unframed, a simple black frame brings out the vivid color quite beautifully! 
It is ready to ship to it's new home - and domestic shipping is included!  

Just a reminder for those who might love to receive a FREE painting! 
In June, I'll be giving away a mini oil painting with a little easel for display.  You'll find out all the details in my June newsnote, which will be sent in the next few days!  

If you aren't receiving it, it's super easy to sign yourself up!  I love to stay in touch and always bring you beauty, interesting news and articles, free downloads, and discounts!  Just click the button below and you'll receive the next note from me to you very soon! 

Yes! Let's stay in touch!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Spread the LOVE!!

 Who doesn't need a little love?  
Every month, I send out some love to my friends - a colorful newsy note that arrives in your inbox.  You'll see what's been going on in my studio, get to read some of my thoughts on creativity and making art, and I always have some free things that are just for you! 
You never know, every few months I have a little give-away painting that someone will receive
(so far in the last few months, they've gone to friends in Georgia, Florida, & Texas!)
I like to include some interactive art that you can personalize and you'll get some insider previews and  discounts. 

It's easy to sign up!  Just click the button below!
My next note will be sent out in the next week or so  - sign up now so you don't miss my next
fun note and it's surprises!  

(I use a secure email server and your info will never be shared!)

Yes! I want to sign up!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Peonys and Canning Jars

French Peonies,  7x5" oil on gesso board 
 ©Helen Read 
(ready to frame)
Domestic Shipping included - IL residents pleas add 8% sales tax 


Oh, I love the soft scents and shades of summer peonies!  And I can see the buds forming on my plants just this week.  In a few more days, the first round buds will open in a beautiful display! 
And the simplicity of a casual arrangement in a canning jar is the perfect warm weather centerpiece. 
This little painting features the soft colors of flower and jar.  I love how the colors come together to make a statement of harmony.  

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Walk with me!

Arbor Path, 16x12" Oil on canvas
©Helen Read
Ready to frame

Free Domestic shipping.  IL residents please add 8% sales tax. 

Today was just this sort of day!  Spring is arriving... and it seems over night that leaves have popped open and the grass has grown 3 or 4"!   The bright sun is juxtaposed with bands of shadows... and an intriguing pathway leads  us toward more discoveries!   Such a delightful time of year, which is why I love painting it in all it's glory! 
There's something wonderful about being outside - and then, bringing the beauty of Creation inside to enjoy, no matter what time of year.


Maybe you didn't know that you could be included!  I'd love to stay in touch with you! 
Did you know I send out a pretty cool news note each month? 
It's visual (of course) and I include a variety of fun things with you in mind.  Every month I have something(s) that I offer my friends, like a free painting give away contest, or a download print, or great discounts....
If you like colorful artwork and creative expression, you'll enjoy receiving a little artistic pick-me-up each month!
It's so easy to be included!  Just click the button below, and you're in!  

Yes, Please! Sign me up.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Question of Creativity...

I hear it all the time… “I’m not creative”.    I kinda know what people mean when they say that, - they don’t know how to draw or paint or sculpt.  But, that’s not all there is to creativity - and as an art teacher, I know that these skills can be learned!  I also know that creative expression is so much broader than 1 area of art! So, I don’t think it’s true! I think each of us is creative in one way or another!  

  We all have a personal point of view - a different way of seeing things. A different "take" on the way we see the world around us... and when we express that personal viewpoint in our own way, we are exercising creativity!

The enjoyment of bringing into being something that hasn’t yet been done before - at least not in the exact way in which we do it - and by putting our own personal touch on something (whatever that something may be) we have exercised creative expression! We are, by nature, makers and doers!
Creativity can be visual (which is the way I express my view of the world), but it can also be with the use of written language, or movement, or musical harmony, or culinary creations, or carpentry, or a so many other possibilities!

So, let’s celebrate our creativity!  Let it root and develop and bloom, which requires purposeful nurture --- feeding it with beauty and wonder; the process of growth!   It requires taking time with intention to let it blossom and become. What feeds your creative spirit?  

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Old Time Floral

Old Fashioned Floral, 6x6" oil on gesso board
©2018  Helen Read 
 Ready to frame 

Includes domestic shipping,  IL residents please add 8% sales tax 


 When my children were small, I was the recipient of hand picked flowers which often found their way into a mason jar to be placed in a visible spot for all see!   Such joy in small gifts like that... a happy smile on a small face, and a mom's warmed heart.  I love those memories... and this painting reminds me of those long ago moments.  
Nostalgia in a blue jar!

Did you know that every month I send out a fun news note to my friends? 
I include my latest paintings and news, but I also include fun things like free downloads, and contests for free paintings, and discounts.   It's colorful and visual and it's a great way to stay in touch with each other. 
It's super easy to receive - just click the button below and you'll have all the fun sent right to your inbox!

Yes! Please include me!

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