Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring is Here! (or-You Can't Keep a Good Pansy Down!)

The pansies have arrived!  Like the primrose, I can't resist their cheery colors and delicate flowers.  This is a quick sketch in my new Global Arts Watercolor journal.  The paper is rough and really seems to help me stay loose.  We will see how the journal stands up to others I've used-stay tuned.  

Spring is here! 
Well, it says so on the calendar anyway!  It's slow in coming, given the winter we had, but I can see the ground after the snowiest winter on record in 100 years!  (Don't check that--I'm prone to exaggerate!)

As a creative person, I've been called sensitive.  "Artsy".  I guess I fit the stereotype.  I think it takes sensitivity to create.  It's from the well of my sensitive nature that my best paintings are done.  I know that's true of many creatives, so I'm in good company.  It brings joy to create.  It is sometimes cathartic to create.  And sometimes, its impossible to create.  
This winter mirrored my mood. I've been in a long, cold season artistically.  An artistic "winter", if you will. Sometimes life screws with your ability to enjoy or even make art. Yes, I can still produce a painting, but my desire to paint for pleasure was gone.  It's happened before and will again. There are reasons of course, none of which matter, but you know it always comes back to the metaphors for me.  And they always seem to tie in with nature and the seasons.  

With all the change, I found that I needed to give up something I loved, teaching. Teaching has always been as great for me as it ever was for my students, many of whom I now call friends.  Five years ago when I was caring for my mom who had cancer, teaching classes and the women in them were a source of encouragement, support and joy.  It kept a "normal" to my life and helped me cope.  Caring for my dad has been different.  I tried to continue teaching, but this time my heart wasn't in it.  I realized I needed to quit for a while.  I need all my energy for other things. It's another season in my life.  But even seasons that are particularly long and harsh eventually give way to the next. Change is a constant. My head was OK with all the change, but my heart took a while to follow.  It was a struggle to bring head and heart into peaceful coexistence!

 I find my mood lifting with the tender shoots pushing through the cold earth.  Do they struggle and force their way or are they pulled up by an unseen force through the soil?  It doesn't matter.  What matters is that they do it!  The spring bulbs signal the return of spring.  The hope of warmth and color and the gradual end to the long cold white winter. While this happens every year, it's sweeter after the long, cold, record breaking winter much of the country experienced.  Its true that we value something more when we have to wait for it.  Like blue skies, sunshine and warm temperatures!  A change of season. And peace within.

Now we move into a new season.  As the weather gradually gets warmer and I see the first shy color of spring peak out (spring always seems shockingly colorful to me after winters muted tones) --it's all new again!  Is it the first spring I've ever seen?  No.  But it is never the same, is it?  It never feels the same.  Never looks or smells exactly the same.  (I love the smell fresh cut grass!) It is always somehow a delightful surprise.  There is growth and change in the landscape.  And yet, what has been before and will be again, is also new each time. Somehow, it always feels like the first spring. Alive. Fresh. Full of possibilities. And small joyful paintings of spring flowers.

All this, because we experienced the winter.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Think Spring! Think Harder!

65 degree's here today.  Tomorrow, sleet/snow mix with a weather advisory...So, I thought I'd cheer myself with another go at the Primrose.  I like this better than the last one.  I always love the rough paper.  I feel it somehow keeps me looser...?? Maybe its a mental thing??  Enjoy!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mixing Color

Here is my latest tutorial on Empty Easel Online Art Magazine.  This lesson shows the ways you can mix color with watercolors.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Think Spring

It's here!  At least at the grocery store...Every year they come to the stores and I buy them.  I can't stop myself!  They signal spring to me and they come to the stores long before they bloom in the yard, at a time when I am tired of winter and longing for the colors of spring.

I tell myself "no more", but I don't listen to me.  I succumb again and again to the vibrant colors that call to me after a long and colorless winter. When it warms I plant them in the yard. Then they bloom the next year--bonus!

Painting the same thing over and over need not be boring.  As you become familiar with a subject you can experiment with different ways to paint them.  These little works were all done in spring through the years.  Each is different and I like them all for different reasons.

 Primary Primrose 2014
I did these in my sketchbook this year.  Its hard not to get detailed and fussy when working small.  I got wrapped up in the beauty of the leaves and noodled them to death.  I love the shapes, pattern and blue green of the leaves.  I don't have long periods to paint these days, so I was a little rushed, but it still screams SPRING!  I like others I've done through the years better, but at least I got my brushes out!  Good for my mood, cause it's COLD here and I've been a little lethargic!

 Enjoy--and think spring!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


sketch for finished painting
This is Charlie.
Charlie is a rescued beagle mix owned by my next door neighbors.  The first time I met Charlie he lifted his leg on my foot!  I thought my neighbor would die!  Dogs do that, usually not on my foot, but I was not put off. Since then I have built a relationship with Charlie. I watch Charlie when his owners go out of town.  Charlie and I chat when I garden.  Charlie comes to the fence to visit my menagerie of dogs and flaunt his freedom.  

Charlie has a blanket he throws up in the air and runs under when he wants to nap!  Once, while watching him, I came over to let him out.  He was under his blanket and never even moved when I called his name!  I confess to panicking and pulling up the blanket to see if he was alive.  Never even lifting his head or opening his eyes, Charlie merely wagged his tail, thump, thump against his bed! The little devil!  Charlie is a character and a half! 

This is a painting my neighbor commissioned for her husbands birthday.  It's always easier painting a face (or dog) you are familiar with. We included his blanket and name tag with his "cute" ears and tilted head!  

Happy Birthday neighbor!  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

Art as a Way


This year has barely begun and I'm already behind by my usual standards!  Last year I started the year off with 30 paintings in the 30 days of January.  It was so much fun, but a lot of work!  This year I decided to take stock of my artistic ambitions and goals.  Basically, I decided not to have any.  No pressure.  Just art and creativity for the sake of the art and creativity!

I've been pondering this for some time now.  What one saw my art?  Would I still make it?  What if...selling my art or winning awards didn't validate my art?  Would I still create it and work so hard at it?  And what if, I could do anything I wanted with my life, my time and my money?  Would I still make art?  I bet you can guess the answer.  How would you answer?  

For my first post of the New Year on my Facebook page, I posted the quote that sums it up.  I'm making that my mantra this year.  To create for the sake of creating.  It's been a recurring topic of conversation for some reason.  Maybe God is reinforcing something in me?  When we remove the need to have an "acceptable" finished work of art we can focus on the process.  If we let go of our judgement of the end product and just enjoy the creative flow while we make art, the art itself is not the focus.  What??  Take the focus off the end result?  Sort of like living in the here and now---you've heard the phrase "living in the moment"?  Well, create in and for, the moment!  What a concept! :)

 What would happen if this year you painted for the joy of it and did not to judge the outcome.  What if you kept the value in the doing, in the act of creation.  My best work always has an element of excitement and wonder during its making.   What if we shift the focus to the joy, beauty, motion-- and all the other things that happen as you create? And what if, we let the art become...a way?
I think its a plan.  I'm pretty sure it's going to be a good year!