Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Cup Runneth Over

We want to be with those who fill us up. 
I just returned from spending 24 hours with my mentor, and my cup runneth over. 
Cheri is a master artist... and... she's my friend.
     I am filled with awe by her talent and skill...
     I am filled with gratitude for her hospitality...
     I am filled with the blessing of our friendship...
     I am filled with laughter from our shared secrets...
     I am filled with compassion for our stories of heart...
     I am filled with a plethora of artistic lessons which I must sort through in my mind.

I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again.  On February 22, 2007, I went to a painting class that she'd offered at our church. After that 6-week class was over, I continued to paint with her and learn from her every Monday night for 4 years... lucky me...

Now she and her husband (who I also adore) live 4 hours away in the middle Oklahoma on a great big farm that's close to... well... nothing... It's close to more big farms.  Their home... oh, my... She calls it their little farmhouse, but it's really a haven.  Her paintings are on the walls, and her artistic touch is everywhere. And, there's a feeling of peace and belonging that permeate the atmosphere.

For the selfie (above) I wanted to stand in front of her drying wall.  Wow... How appropriate that the word "inspire" is on the wall.

I hadn't seen her in two years, so I invited myself for a visit.  It was part slumber party, part reunion retreat, and part painting workshop.

I learn so much when I watch her paint and listen to what she's doing and why she's doing it.  I'm not sure she knew she was in for it, but I showed up with a plan.  Part of that plan was for her to give me a lesson. I brought "Strawberry Girl" because I wasn't satisfied with it and knew she could help.  Ha ha ha... oh, how I've missed learning from the best!  We worked that little painting over top to bottom!  In the picture (right) Cheri is probably saying something encouraging, sandwiching in the lesson on what she's doing, then finishing it off with another word of praise for what she sees that I've done.  (It's that middle part... the lesson that I need so much... well, along with the encouragement...) Let's see... we worked on the cheek, the chin, the neck, the nose, the forehead, the hair, the dress, the flowers, the strawberry, the hand, the background... yep... pretty much every bit of it... Now, I have a little homework to finish her... again. :)
Painting a human is just plain hard... wait... Painting a human WELL is just plain hard. :)

Until we we paint again, Cheri! 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Strawberry Girl

Sometimes you just KNOW you're cute!

You can tell that this little sweetie feels like a fairy in her big, fluffy dress!

Mmmm... She is beautiful, isn't she.  

Harper, I hope you always know that you that you are lovely. :)

And, because it's fun to see the process...



Wednesday, July 8, 2015


I LOVE it when a book has an epilogue.  It's my favorite part... finding out what happens after the end of the story.  
... In Harry Potter we find out what happens with Harry & Hermione and their kids...
... In Tuck Everlasting we see Mae and Tuck revisit Tree Gap decades later...
... In Ella Enchanted we read about Ella and Char and their children in happily ever after...

As an artist, the end of the story for me is when I put the painting in the mail or hand it to the buyer.  Often I get a thank you note, positive feedback in my Etsy shop, or maybe a photo of the painting hanging in its new home.  I love that!  But, that's usually the end.  

Every once in a while, though, I get an "epilogue" opportunity.  I've gone to a home of someone who has a painting and seen it hanging on the wall... noticed a painting in the background of a blog-friend's photo post... been sent a video of a painting being opened as a birthday gift... I love when that happens!

This week, I got a painting "epilogue" on a painting I did three years ago called "Dictys' Devotion."  I was tagged in a Facebook post with this photo. I have to admit that it took me a minute to understand why.

Oh... My... Goodness!!!  Right there in the middle of this proposal!!!  Do you see it?!!  That's my painting!!!  Yay!!!  And, yes, I also saw photos of the hand and the ring... so she said YES! 

Ahhhh.... what a pleasure.

(Along these lines... May I ask a favor... if you ever go to a flea market or yard sale and see one of my paintings for sale for $3.00, would you please just buy it and don't tell me.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

One Great Big Strawberry

Strawberries have pretty much been the theme of my summer.  I've eaten them, picked them, eaten them, frozen them, painted them, eaten them...  

I've been wanting to do an oversize painting, so this worked out nicely.  You can tell by the photo that I snapped in my studio that this one is juuuusssstttt a little bit bigger than the last strawberry painting.  I have no idea whether anyone will want to buy this one or not.  But, in the mean time, I'm going to enjoy this big beauty on my own wall.

I shared a strawberry memory with each of my first two strawberry paintings, so I'll share another.  

Below is the e-mail I sent to my nieces, Beverly and Amy, after I visited a local strawberry farm.

Amy & Bev,

This morning Ron & I went to a strawberry farm. 
I hadn’t been to or even thought about a strawberry farm since......

It’s funny how the oddest things trigger long forgotten, yet vivid memories.

When I was about nine years old, your dad brought your mom home.  She was beautiful. She was so daring.  She wore hip-huggers, had her ears pierced, and said “dad gum.” Wow... and grandpa let her stay in our house!! :)  She made me a little nervous, but I loved her.

When I was about 10 they got married, and I got to spend a week with them every summer. One year I stayed a little longer to help them  out.  She was pregnant with you.  It must have around July 4th because I remember going to my first really big fireworks show. It was so hot!  And, she was huge.

Your dad went to work every day, so your mom and I hung out.  One day she wanted to go to a strawberry farm.  I pulled a little flat wagon, and she waddled along beside me.  Poor thing was so swollen her feet wouldn’t fit in shoes; she she wore these funny flip-flops. We picked and picked... Then she got overheated... Well, looking back... duh... It was 100 degrees... She was 8 months pregnant with two babies... and she was bending over to pick! I got her to sit down between the rows... No shade in a strawberry field... No such thing as a water bottle back then... She was determined that she’d be ok, but was dizzy and just “needed a few minutes.”  I let her sit and finished filling our buckets.  Then there was another problem... we couldn’t get her big self up off the ground.  By that point we were laughing so hard. I was pulling; she was rolling to one side then the other, feet slipping out from under her... We finally did get her up and back to the car.  I don’t think I was 16 yet because  it was a big deal that I wasn’t really a driver yet, but I drove us home.  That was another comedy of errors because I was so short, I could barely reach the pedals... compound that with the fact that she had to have the seat back so far because she  (you guys) were sticking out so far that her belly was to the steering wheel. 

I don’t really remember the end of this story... I guess we made it home, put her on the couch in the air conditioning, and had lots of strawberries.  Then she had two little baby girls a month later who grew up to be beautiful women and lived happily ever after.

A memory that had been locked safely away for 35 years... unlocked today by a strawberry patch...

I just thought you might like me to share it with you.

Aunt Helen

Original Oil Painting on 20"x 20" Wrapped Canvas