Friday, March 9, 2018

Still Life - Blue Pitcher & Pink Roses

I finished this painting a while ago, but I got stuck wondering what to say whenever I sat down to write a post about it.

My art mentor, Cheri, had prepared this as one of my lessons on how to paint roses.  Her still life paintings are so beautiful. I am grateful to learn from her.

As we painted and talked, STYLE was a subject we kept coming back to.  I am fascinated by artistic style.

  • Loose brush strokes or tight
  • Simple subjects or complex
  • Bright colors or muted
  • Reaslistic or impressionistic
  • Lost edges or hard
  • Formal tone or comfortable
  • Textured paint or smooth
  • Do you choose your style, or does it choose you?
  • Can you change your style, or should you even try?
  • Am I guilty of saying, "It's my style" if the truth is I was just too lazy to make it better?
I was a teacher of writing long before I became a painter.  Style is that elusive feature of writing that's hard to put your finger on, but it's the reason we recognize and either enjoy or dislike a person's writing.  I don't choose to read a book or blog because the author put all the commas in the right place and spelled the words right.  It may be the subject matter or content that cause me to discover a blog, but it's the author's style that makes me want to "follow" it.
I think it's the same for style of art.  If you search "rose painting" on Etsy, you'll find about  4,500 listings.  How do you choose which one to buy?  Ah ha... style... (and maybe price.😉 )

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 12" Wrapped Canvas
It feels a little weird offering after that little rant... maybe there's a more positive word for when you go on and on about something you are interested in... maybe "sharing of thought"... but... If you'd like to own this little rose painting more than any of the other 4,499  rose paintings listed on Etsy, just click here.

Monday, February 26, 2018

(Almost) Surreal Water Lily Pond

As I looked at this big painting on my wall, I struggled to find a title for it.  I kept thinking, "It's huge... It's pretty, maybe too pretty... It's surreal..."  Then I wondered if I even knew exactly what surreal meant.  The dictionary tells me "...elements in it are combined in a strange way that you would not normally expect, like in a dream."  Okay... It's over-sized and over-pretty and over-pink... Perhaps a fairy will pop out of that yellow center when I'm not looking. It would make a very pleasant setting for a dream. So, yeah, I decided it was surreal. 
But, then I looked up images of surreal paintings and realized that I might need to put a light bulb on one of the lily pads or a couch in the background or maybe a human figure in place of a petal... yikes!  

Here's a picture of my work space during our painting weekend at Welcome Home Retreat. I keep a fairly organized work space when I paint, but I do tend to fill the space I'm given no matter how big it is. 😊

Thanks to Kevin for being our online  teacher for this painting.

Oil Painting on 18"x 24" Wrapped Canvas
Click "(Almost) Surreal Water Lily Pond" if you'd like to purchase this painting.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Peace Like a River

This painting just makes me take a deep yoga-breath inhale then let it out with a sigh and a smile.

My painting friend Julie and I have been trying to become more proficient using a palette knife, so we turned to YouTube. (You can learn just about anything on YouTube!)

The frustration  beauty of applying paint on canvas with a palette knife is that if forces allows you to make loose strokes.  It totally cramped my style actually gave me such a feeling of freedom.
Ha ha... I guess you can see I endured enjoyed the process. 
Learning at any age is just hard. 
In the end... I really did love not only the process, but I really do love the final product.  

When I look at this painting, I hear the song that I use to calm myself whenever I'm heading into a difficult situation or am feeling stressed.  It's the perfect song for me as I am extremely lyrically challenged (I made that up, but it means I cannot remember lyrics to songs to save my life.)

     I've got peace like a river.
     I've got peace like a river.
     I've got peace like a river.
     I've got peace like a river in my soul.

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 16" Wrapped Canvas
Contact me if you'd like to purchase this painting.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Minstrel (a.k.a. Oo-de-lally)

I wonder what my five little hens would think if this guy came over to strut around the yard!
I know!
They'd say, "OOOooooooo-de-lally!!!"
Now that song will be stuck in your head all day long.
Ha ha!  Oh, well, it's a pretty happy thing to have stuck in your head.

"Laughin' back and forth at what the other'ne has to say
Reminiscin', This-'n'-thattin' havin' such a good time
Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly, what a day!"

Thanks Roger Miller for 
writing such a fun song.

These words fit pretty well for how my painting partners and I felt while we were painting roosters.

By the way, did you know that Robin Hood rooster had a name?  
It was Allan-a-dale.  
Hm... who knew!

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 16" Wrapped Canavas
Click "The Minstrel (a.k.a. Oo-de-lally)" if you'd like to purchase this painting.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Painting with Friends

It's not very often that a person or event completely changes the course of your life. 
I am so grateful that I signed up for a little painting workshop at my church 11 years ago this week.  
This beautiful person, Cheri,  said, "I want to teach you to see things in a different way."  
As I was working on that first painting, she came by and said, "You'll want to ugly up that blue sky; you need some ugly so that the beautiful will be even more beautiful."
Now, almost 400 paintings later, it's her voice in my head reminding me, 
"Squint way down and look at the shapes..." 
"Just be brave and put that paint on..." 
"Soften those edges until they're nearly gone..." 
"Stand back and look at it..." 
"Think about where your light source is..."
"See where the darkest dark meets the lightest light..."
"Put a little purple in it..."

For about 5 years I got to paint with her every week.
What a treat when I get to now.
I learn so much just by watching her work.

About 5 years ago, I asked a teacher down the hall if she'd want to come over and paint.
Julie and I have painted together every week since.
It makes you better to have a partner... for encouragement, help, ideas, and laughter.

What a wonderful, creative, productive weekend we had.
First an evening at Cheri's house in Oklahoma for a lesson.
Then on to Welcome Home Retreat in Texas for two and a half days of art. 

Thanks to Sheila who had the idea and made it a real place... a place where women can relax... can create... and can be inspired then inspire others.

I'm going to touch up and finish each one, but... hey, I'd say it was a pretty productive weekend!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

PInk Roses

The thought of painting roses has always intimidated me, so I've avoided them.
Cheri, my art teacher/mentor/friend loves painting roses, and she paints them so beautifully.

She was determined to teach me, so last week I drove to her Oklahoma farm for a lesson.  

I believe we were in her studio painting for 16 of our 24 hours together.
Lo, and behold, some roses showed up on our canvases!

Original Oil Painting on 6"x 8" Wrapped Canvas
Click "Pink Roses" if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Yellow Butterfly in Some Pink Daisies

How come the paintings that should be simple sometimes aren't?

This little painting was supposed to be a little in-between one.  
I was going to begin it one evening then finish it the next day or so. 

I did the background...then changed it completely... 
I blocked in the flowers...  then re-painted them... 
I added the butterfly... finished it... re-did it... finished it again...

It looked fake... something was missing...
I put in some grass...

The flowers were good, the butterfly was good, the background was good...
But nothing went together.  
It looked like I'd painted them separately then cut them out and glued them together! Besides that, it looked like a painting about pink flowers that just happened to have a yellow butterfly on them instead of a painting about a yellow butterfly sitting on pink flowers.
Hugh Sigh!

Like it was a misbehaving child, I decided to ignore it... 
Walk away... just walk away... 

Finally I added a little more grass... highlighted the flowers... messed up all the perfect lines on the butterfly... took out one big flower completely... put a glaze on part of the background... and... finally signed my name.

And all that for little bitty 6"x 8"  canvas!

I like it though. 😁

Original Oil Painting on 6"x 8" Wrapped Canvas
If you'd like to own this lovely little painting, just click "Yellow Butterfly in Some Pink Daisies."

Friday, February 2, 2018

Three Silly Goats Gruff IV

Do they look familiar?
I know... I know... I know!!
I have a folder filled with images I want to paint, so why would I keep painting the same one!
Three Silly Goats Gruff 4/14

We enjoyed the first one on our wall so much... for a week... then it sold... 

Three Silly Goats Gruff  11/14

Three Silly Goats Gruff  12/17
The second 
one was done for the owner of these funny little goats, so we only got to enjoy it until the paint was dry.

A couple of months ago, Ron said, "Why don't you paint those silly goats again.  I liked them."  So, I did them a third time, and we laughed as we hung them on the wall... where they hung for two days!  Then they sold!

So... one... more... time!!!

Original Oil Painting on 11"x 14" Wrapped Canvas
Not for sale right now... maybe later 😊

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Farmers' Market III

I want my paintings to tell stories.
I believe this one does.
***Characters - check
***Setting (time, place) - check, check
***Description (sights, smells, sounds) - check, check, check
***Tone or mood - check
***Action or event - check

If you come to my city, visit the Square on a Saturday and become a part of this story.

Original Oil Painting on 16"x 20" Wrapped Canvas
I haven't actually listed it for sale yet.  I guess I'm kind of attached to it.  Maybe it's that couple in the middle... the tall guy without much hair walking beside his short gray-haired wife...

Friday, January 26, 2018

Pink Rose Trio

I've been learning how to use the palette knife.  It takes a lot of practice... how to hold it... how to place, smear, and move the paint... how to trust that blobs of color will eventually take shape. 

There's something uncomfortable and unfamiliar about the process of painting with the palette knife, but (I think) I love it.  I use much more paint, and I have to place it purposefully.  

There's also something fascinating about the finished product. I'm not satisfied just looking at it with my eyes, I want to touch it with my fingers and feel the shapes.

Original Oil Painting on 6"x 12" Wrapped Canvas
Click "Pink Rose Trio" if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

New Chickens! (and my latest painting project)

My poor city-boy husband... turned farmer... just shakes his head, sighs, and says, "Ok..." when I ask, "What would you think about me getting a couple more chickens... three?  It's a great deal!  She's going to give me the chickens, the coop, the food, the feeding supplies..."

Yesterday was (finally) a pretty day, so I spent a few hours talking them, letting them get used to me, and painting their house green (to match the rest of the farm... wouldn't want them to be embarrassed for not fitting in!)

Here you can see the four white and gray ones coming to check out the new red ones.

 Today was their first time to be out of the coop.  They seem happy to be free.

They're sweet little things... friendly... curious... happy to be out scratching around and getting to know their new area.
I thought since the four  had had a chance to "get to know" the new three during the week they were in their coop, that maybe they'd be nice once they were all free to hang out in the back yard and woods.

Ummm... they were not exactly welcoming.

Ok... they were rude.

Full disclosure... they were mean.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Word of the Year

A few years ago I noticed that a lot of people would choose a "word of the year" as kind of a thought to keep in mind or maybe a new year's resolution.  I don't know if they still do that... probably not... figures that I'd join in that fad about the time it was fading... doesn't matter... I like it.

My 2018 Word...
For the first time in my life, I have time...
... time to help.
... time to do.
... time to go.
... time to wait.
... time to say yes.
I am so grateful to have time and to be able to make choices about how I spend that time. 

This is the inside of my armoire door.  Nobody sees it except me, but when I take something from the printer or get some office supply, I see these reminders.

They didn't all begin on January 1.  The year of a teacher begins in August, so maybe they're just "Words of the Season" and last until a new one speaks to me.

I guess if I'm going to show them, I should explain them. So... Let's see...
"Be George."
I've had my time as Paul and John... Nobody want's to be Ringo... but George... George was in the background, not the limelight.  He added value, but you forget his name.  He was important, but his role was to support.
Two or three years ago, I began to step back. I'd spent my time in the spotlight... won the award... been the one to willing stick my neck out... taken the mic... put my name on the top. And, I guess, I knew it was time to "Be George" and support the next generation of leadership.
Once I realized that last year would be my final year as a teacher, I knew that so much of my life was about to change.  Things would end.  I wouldn't be with many of my good friends every day.  I would be facing many one-last-time events. (One last group of kids... one last Christmas party... one last set of report cards... one last snow day... one last parent conference... one last assembly... one last intern... one last opportunity to...) I wanted to take it in, to savor it, and to be purposeful with every conversation, action, and  attitude.
There wasn't a word to fit just what I needed, so I did a very Helen-like thing and made one up.  If you take that word apart... prefix, root word, suffixes... you'll figure it out.  
We've accumulated "stuff" until it nearly overwhelmed me.  In the last five years, we lost my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, and my mother.  With the passing of each one, we acquired stuff.  In the last three years my parents moved into a smaller house, then my dad moved into a retirement center.  With each move, we got more stuff.  My elderly neighbor needed help clearing out things, and we got more stuff.  I closed down my classroom that I'd spent 32 years building and filling with all the things a classroom needs.  If purchased with school money, it stayed; however, much of it was mine, and that stuff came home.
Stuff... stuff... stuff!!!
Yes, I've read about the Konmari method... I hate it.  It shows me how much stuff I should let go of right now.  I know people say that "things" aren't important, but they are to me.  I want to touch the buttons and thread that belonged to my mother or the dishes that were my husband's grandmother's. 
Anyway... It's a process... I'm still working on it... It's ok... 
But, I do not want to bring any more stuff into this house!

I'm anxious to see what "Available" brings my way this year.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Glimpse of Red

Glimpse of Red

When there’s a glimpse of red in the world of white,
     You simply must pause and admire for a while.
When there’s a glimpse of red on the blanket of snow,
     You stop what you’re doing to watch and smile.

In a world that’s filled with grays, blues, and browns
     The glimpse of red is so unexpected.
As the cardinal flits near and lands on his perch,
     How can your spirit not be affected?

First you gasp, then you sigh at the glimpse of red.
     You look and listen for his message to your heart.
“…All is well.”  “…I’m just out of sight.”
     “…It’s a beautiful day,”  “…Make a fresh start.”

If there’s a cardinal outside, you want to share it!
   “Come look! There’s one!  Another! Oh, there’re four!”
Just glimpses of red… “Wait! Where did they go?”
     So you stay near the window just a few moments more.

When there’s a glimpse of red in a world of white,
     You stop, take a deep breath, and feel your spirit lift.
When there’s a glimpse of red on the blanket of snow
     You savor it, appreciate it and know it’s a gift.

When there’s a glimpse of red in a world of white.

One of my favorite things about being an artist is being able to say, "I can do that for you!"

Sandra of MMM! Quilts posted this photo and wrote  "I like cardinals. That would make the most perfect Christmas card wouldn't it? If I could photoshop out the upside down patio chair legs, that is LOL. When I posted this photo along with two others on Instagram, Tish reminded me that cardinals can be seen as a visit from our loved ones."
Then I was able to respond with this comment. " Cardinals... so gorgeous... It is impossible not to stop and look when they're flitting around in the snow. And... I might just know of a way that your image could be made into a Christmas card with the chair legs edited out... he he... :)

The story behind this painting is hers to tell, not mine. But, I will say that I love how this painting came to be.

Original Oil Painting on 8"x 10" Wrapped Canvas

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Purple Hummer - for Jolene

Jolene loved sunsets. 
She loved hot air balloons.  
She loved her cats.  
She loved flowering plants and had a gift for knowing how to make them flourish.  
She loved beautiful special rocks and displayed them in her office space, in her home, and in her yard. 
She loved hummingbirds and had so many that she had to refill the feeders on her porch every day in the summer.  
She loved the color purple. 
She was clever and crafty and creative and artistic. 

Five years ago we started painting together on Tuesday evenings. She was a lefty and had an odd way of holding her brush, but it worked for her. She was determined to learn, to get it right.  We’d paint on a piece for a few hours on Tuesday then she’d go home and work on it some more.  So often I’d get a text late at night with a picture of what she’d done.  “What do you think?  What do I need to do now?”  Usually the answer was, “Absolutely nothing. It’s perfect. Sign your name.” 

A special friendship bond is created when you paint together.  You are in a small room for an extended time, your hands are busy, and you are facing your canvas instead of each other.  All those factors lead to real conversation.  Of course we griped about whatever needed to be complained about (school stuff, politics, news, etc.) and talked about the art we were working on. But, eventually we settled into real talk. Jolene talked about her daughter, husband, her mom, her sisters, her cats, her home – what she’d been doing to decorate or what plants she’d been setting out.  Jolene also loved to talk about things that made us groan… having her aura read and psychic shows and haunted places and UFOs; she loved her paranormal.   And, she sometimes brought a copy of the Eureka newspaper so she could read the police reports to us. (They’re pretty funny… “Officer was called to a residence on Maple to check on cat that wouldn’t stop yowling.  Officer asked the owner of the cat to put it in the house.”) She’d talk about whatever other craft she’d been working on.  And, Jolene talked about the future.  She loved making predictions about what might happen.  Her predictions were always positive. 

She was such an encourager.  She’d say specific things she liked about people. She’d give specific praise about paintings.  She’d predict exact positive things that she just knew were going to happen.  I am personally holding on to a couple of those predictions that she made. The last text I got from her was one of encouragement and prediction.  How perfect.

Losing Jolene makes me sad. She wouldn’t like that, but it does.  
In memory of Jolene, I want to create beautiful things.  
I want to be encouraging. 
I want to be available.  
I want to be kind.

Original Oil Painting on 5"x 7" Canvas
Click "Purple Hummer" if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Three Silly Goats Gruff III

I know, I know... Haven't I painted these three silly goats before?
Yes, but they just... crack... me... up!
I think this is a painting about attitude as much as it's a painting about goats!

That first one, Gladys, is about out of patience.
The one in the middle, Gabby, just wants to be a part of the fun.
And Percy, on the end, either has a joke to tell or has just played a prank.

I love them!
The first time I painted them, they sold as soon as they were dry.
The second time I painted them, they went to live in the home of the family that actually owns them.
This time maybe I'll get to enjoy them on my own wall for a while.  (I feel like I need to stop and have a conversation with them every time I pass by them.)

Thank you Renee for taking the picture and for letting me put it on canvas... again... 

Original Oil Painting on 11"x 14" Wrapped Canvas

Sunday, December 24, 2017

2017 - Favorite Moments

Goodbye 2017!  
Thanks! You were great!
Here's a peek through some favorite moments of 2017!

A week at Disney in September...
a big deal since I've been in the first month
of school for the last 32... ummm... 47 Septembers. 

My favorite people!
A dream come true to take our kids to Disney.

What an honor... a permanent reminder...
Helen was here... 

Last day of school... ever...
So happy... and so sad... mostly happy.
Good bye little red bug... 😔
Welcome little green bug!😀

28th Summer Week at Lake Ouachita.
28th Family Photo at Lake Ouachita.

A weekend with sisters at Welcome Home Retreat.
Painting retreat at Welcome Home Retreat.
Adding chickens to our family!

Hatching two babies!