"God's art [Creation] speaks of Himself, reflecting who He is and what He is like."
Francis Chan

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Summer's End

"Nothing Gold Can Stay"
24x36 oil

   Well, it seems that our endless summer isn't quite so endless.  Our family went on vacation in Florida the final week of August into September and came home to Iowa to find that Autumn had arrived.  I'm not going to lie - this always makes me feel a bit sad.  I am starting my twenty fourth year of homeschooling my five children (down to the last one!) and even though I love teaching them, love learning with them, and encouraging them to love learning, the end of summer and beginning of Fall and the start of a whole new school year, always feels a little bittersweet to me.
     I did see it coming though, and have been trying to get every last delicious taste of warm sun, and free time to paint, as I can.  I stayed up late many of these last few summer nights, working on the fourth painting in my "Wild Things" series.  I finished up "Nothing Gold Can Stay" just in time to kiss summer days good-bye.
     This fourth painting took a little different turn than the first three .  The colors became more vivid, the background called for more tones than the simplistic ones of the previous three.  It all started with one of the last "art in a vase" bouquets that I had been working on this past summer (these can be seen on my Instagram page).  I found myself cutting Black-eyed-Susans, Trumpet Vine, and Honeysuckle with the first few berries on the branch.  Everyone of them, a sign of the end of one season and the beginning of a new one; a signal that soon the intense greens we had seen all summer would be replaced with shades of brown.  But each of these, right now,  were so brilliant in their own colors -like Summer's last hurrah.
      I can't help but think of Robert Frost's poem:
Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf’s a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay. 
    (Can't you just hear Ponyboy, now!)
   Now before you think I am all down in the dumps about saying good-bye to Summer - know that I adore Autumn!  I have big plans for new projects for this upcoming season- some upcoming art sales that I am participating in at local venues, and a holiday open studio sale.  Every season has it's glory!  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Wild Things

"Where the Wind Blows"
16x20, oil

           This is one of those fresh-start-moments.  I have been needing a fresh start for a while, because I had set aside writing anything on "Art Speaking" for way too long.  Life got busy, posting became dry and tedious, yada, yada, yada.  Added to that was the big concern that I never want to be someone who inundates followers with too much. (You know, the "junk mail" of the Internet type).  So I had thrown in the towel on my blog.  
              But I have been thinking lately about how art is, in and of itself is a form of communication.  And that one of the best ways to appreciate artwork is to have a better understanding of the artist's process, including their reasons for creating the piece.  Art becomes more meaningful often times, when you can understand the meaningfulness it has for the artist .  I so appreciate all of you who either follow this blog directly or tune into it as one of my Facebook followers and I am honored that you would care enough to want to hear the stories behind the paintings. 
              So here I am at the fresh start moment, hoping to get back into the swing of writing and sharing again - with the goal in mind for this to become more of a monthly newsletter (thus avoiding becoming "junk mail" !) 
"Unexpected Symphony"

           To start us off, I am excited to share a new series that I had begun a few months ago.  I am calling the series "Wild Things" and am focusing on the concept of how flowers grow in nature - wildly, chaotically, twisted and entwined together in a beautiful mess!  
           I began to think of the concept last spring when I took a floral design workshop (a birthday gift from my husband!) at a floral shop in the art district of Cedar Rapids.  The owner of the shop is truly an artist, designing these one of a kind displays that are like nothing I have ever seen.  She exudes a love of nature and it is contagious.  Her main thrust in teaching us was to encourage us to not think about your ho-hum flower arrangements, but to put into a vase or pot a snippet of the way things truly grow in nature - all mixed together in a seemingly unplanned way.  And to not just see the beauty in the flowers, but to add other interesting things found in nature - branches, unique leaves, vines.   The way she put it into words and the whole vibe of her shop was so incredibly inspiring to me!  For days afterwords, I felt the creative juices flowing and forming into new ideas.  
            Sketches, upon sketches full of twists and turns and entanglements and oh-so-wonderful sinuous lines of nature, gave birth to the first few paintings for this series.  It has felt like a breath of fresh air.  I have three paintings done in the series, one has sold but two are available for sale (click on the link below the painting for purchasing information), and I look forward to adding to the series.
              I love to hear from you all - leave me a comment to let me know what you think of the new series and perhaps ideas you might have for some fun flowers that you would like to see me add to this series!  And if you dont already, please follow me on Facebook and Instagram (where I have been spending the summer putting into practice what I learned in the floral design workshop - using the items in my garden to form an "art in a vase" bouquet that I post each week!)
"Beautiful Chaos"
20x24 Oil
For purchasing information


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I Hope You Always Wear Flowers in Your Hair

        Lately I have had the an itching to challenge my self a little bit, step out of my regular floral box, and try something a little different.   I am a huge admirer of portrait artists who can capture the beauty and personality of the human face.  I am not a portrait artist, but from time to time I like to do portraits to work on my skills.  Summer time, when I usually have a little more flexibility in my schedule, is the perfect time to do this.
         When I started this one, I had a very clear idea in mind of what I wanted to convey- that wonderful innocence of childhood, and how they see the world around them in such a beautiful way, and how we so want for them to always keep that (something that I may even explore some more in future portraits).  But the subject was needed.  I wasn't sure who to paint.  I had my seven year old, Sophia (a sweet little blond with blue eyes), pose for me for a few photos to see if that would work.  It just wasn't fitting what I was going for.
        For some reason I reached for some darker shades for the hair and instantly pictured my half American, half Bolivian grand daughter, Hope.  Not as she is now, as an eighteen month old, but as she would some day, maybe be.  It was about who I hope she will become.
      It just fit.  It seems like when the ideas line up, the painting lines up. The paint went on just like I wanted it to and all the time this grandma got to pray for her sweet grand baby's future.   I can't even tell you how much fun it was to paint this one.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

On Fire

     It took me quite a while to work my way through this one.  Not because it was exceptionally difficult.  It was more a matter of life getting in the way.  I had a lot of starts and stops on this one.  Sometimes that can make "getting in the groove" a little difficult.  This morning I was able to sit down and put the finishing touches on it.  It always feels good to accomplish something.
   The entire time I painted this one, I kept envisioning flaming fire.  Thus the name, "On Fire".

Sunday, February 1, 2015

"The Hopes of Anne Bradstreet"

"The Hopes of Anne Bradstreet"
Oil 24x30

                 I don't often do still lifes.  I am usually a floral kind of girl.  But this one mulled around in my mind for literally, three years, waiting to be painted.  It was sort of like a puzzle that I slowly collected and put together the pieces to.  In 2012 I painted a large painting of a bird nest and a feather - with lots of background.  Then I promptly asked myself "What were your thinking?".  I set it  aside, staring at it occasionally, scratching my head.  I knew the idea I wanted to convey.  I had painted the nest to convey home life.  There were an abundance of eggs - five to represent each of my own kids.  But I had nothing else - just a lot of blank space in the back of the painting.
                I was tempted to throw it out or paint over it a hundred times.  I am beginning to wonder when I will learn that when I am on the verge of pitching a painting, I am also on the verge of a break through.
                Some time last fall I began to mentally fill the background.  I thought of a bird cage.  Not the kind that entraps a bird, but one that provides a home.  In our home we are over halfway through with raising kids.  Our oldest three are on their own, one is in high school, and one, well, we have a ways to go on the last one.  Ha!  But with this in mind, I envisioned the colloquial 'flying of the coop' for the better part of my brood.  Thus the open door on the bird cage.
              As a parent, when you reach that stage when the kids are trying life on their own, you spend lots of time hoping and praying that you, in eighteen or so short years have given them the things that will equip them for life.  I am not just talking about how to pay bills and get a job (although these are important).  I am talking about the things that will make them a descent human being who chooses a good path to walk down, and doesn't get distracted with everything that glitters in this world, who remembers that we are eternal beings only living on this earth for a short time.
             With these things in mind, I mentally filled the background of the painting with the things that I hope my kids have taken and will take with them out of their childhood.  In our home, it was the light and wisdom of God's word - without which, I truly don't know how people cope with all that life throws at us.
              I felt like I needed one more thing to tie it all together.  Two things occurred that really sealed the deal for me:
               One, I found myself thinking about the word hope.  Isn't that what parenting is really all about?  You hope you did it right.  You hope they learned all they needed to.  You realize that you can have hope, because their Maker loves them and cares for them more than you could ever imagine.  I remembered a Bible study I had done years ago in which the word 'hope' first occurs in the Old testament in the book of Ruth.  In Hebrew, the word literally means "a cord for attachment (or to hold onto)"  and refers to a rope of scarlet red. It is seen quite a few times in the O.T., most often in relation to the stories of women - a woman feeling desperately alone and forgotten, unable to see that God has an amazing plan awaiting her (Naomi).  Another woman, who had been wronged, and desperately asks for a sign of deliverance, including a scarlet rope (Tamar).  And finally, a woman who wisely sees that destruction is coming to her people and asks for God's help - a scarlet rope hanging from her window to be the sign that she is trusting in Him (Rahab).
            I know, I know, you thought you were reading about a painting, not getting a Bible lesson. Ha!  But this was my thought process -what can I say!
           The second thing that occurred is that I opened up a book from one of my all time favorite poets - Anne Bradstreet.  She was a seventeenth century stay at home mom with a creative streak a mile long and lots to say.  I adore her writings.  She wrote a beautiful poem about her children ("In reference to Her Children"), all eight of them (!)  flying the coop.  I love her because she is just so real about her hopes and fears.   In the poem, she goes through each child and lovingly relays who they were and are and where they "flew" off too (in the poem, she actually refers to them as birds flying from her nest).  You can hear in her tone that she, in the 1600s is saying the same things that parents are saying  today - 'I hope I did enough".  But she has assurance that they things she taught them will see them through - not just because she taught them, but because they are Truth.  She ends it this way...
  When each of you shall in your nest
Among your young ones take your rest,
In chirping languages oft them tell
You had a Dame that lov'd you well,
That did what could be done for young
And nurst you up till you were strong
And 'fore she once would let you fly
She shew'd you joy and misery,
Taught what was good, and what was ill,
What would save life, and what would kill.
Thus gone, amongst you I may live,
And dead, yet speak and counsel give.
Farewell, my birds, farewell, adieu,
I happy am, if well with you. 

         And so, with this I had my final element for this still life - that red cord of hope to hold onto, that wound ( and winds)  its way through our home throughout the child rearing years and beyond.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pressing In, Pressng On

"Vision Unfolding"
30x40 oil

         I recently posted a picture of this finished painting  on my Facebook page.  With it I included a few comments about the struggle this one gave me and how I almost had given up on it.    Here is the gist of what I said -

          "Finished this up today. What a great feeling. This one has sat on the easel for about three months. It has made my eyes cross ( So. Many. Petals.). I have changed my mind about the color scheme several time. It sat for a good month, out of sheer frustration. And I came very close to pitching it into the garbage ( thanks for the encouragement Tori Kulish, to keep on keeping on). It makes completing it all the more sweet. "

        Sometimes paintings sort of paint themselves.  Ahh, if only they all did that.  Some are just well, struggles.  You are in the midst of the project and you feel like it isn't going the direction you want it to.  Or you feel stagnant and uninspired.  Sometimes you feel stuck and want to just give up.  But often, you have invested too much to just throw in the towel.  I think every human alive, artist or not can relate to that situation in some area of their life, at some point.  You just can't see how the situation, the season of life, the current position your in, (you can fill in the blank), are going to turn out to be anything of value.  You just feel stuck.  
     I will say that sometimes, in painting at least,  the very thing you should do is acknowledge the complete "yuck" of where a project is going and pitch it.  I have been there.  I have done that.  It can be both liberating and a great lesson in what to do different next time.
     But sometimes, as in the case of this one ( and often in life), you maybe just need the encouraging word of your seventeen year old daughter, to cheer you on, to tell you she loves this one, over and over until you begin to see that you might just like it too.   (I believe the words she used were "I'm obsessed with this one"  - and who wouldn't be encouraged to press on with those words!)  And then all of a sudden the vision for it becomes a little clearer and you realize you actually are loving it too. (Keeping it real here - obsessed is just a little too strong a word to describe my feelings. But I really do love it!)  
     It is shocking to me, what the painting process teaches me sometimes.  I mean, I paint flowers, right?  But there is usually such amazing things being worked out in me, as the painter, while I paint that flower.  I am not sure if anyone else can see it in the painting - but I at least can.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Veins of Life

         For those of you who don't know, I am an Iowa girl, born and raised.  I make no bones about it, I am completely prejudiced when it comes to my love of Iowa - I see no other state that can compare.  Yes, I know it is humid here - I have come to terms with the fact that for about three and a half months out of the year we will need to make various outfit changes per day because of the problem of sweaty clothes.

          But I can't help it, every time I travel away and then return home, as soon as I pass over the state lines I am amazed all over again at the beauty of the state I call home.  No, we don't have oceans, or even mountains.  Ahh, but Iowa has miles and miles of lush green rolling hills of corn.  And, of course, Iowa wouldn't be Iowa without our corn.  And amongst all those beautiful fields awaiting harvest, are the creeks and rivers that bring life to quench the thirsty ground.

        These are where my thoughts have taken  me lately.  Kind of strange, I know.  But one other thing we have in Iowa (or I should say, had) is Grant Wood.  Much of his amazing art was created about twenty miles from my front door.  Of course that art in it's unique style, is full of the scenes that I was just talking about.  Grant Wood was an Iowa boy who appreciated the beauty of this special place too!   Lately I have been thinking about his lush paintings with the rolling hills and rivers.

     This painting is my ode to him.  I don't usually do landscapes - not really my thing.  But when I sat before the white canvas this time, I envisioned the landscape of a flower (obviously my thing!).  I tried to convey the flower as a landscape with rolling hills and valleys full of lush beauty.  And of course I wanted to convey the veins that bring the very life to each petal.  Without those veins bringing water to quench a thirsty plant, the petals shrivel up and die.

    If you ever get a chance, I encourage you to visit Iowa in the summer.   Note: bring lots of changes of clothes - the humidity isn't just a rumor.  There is something about those lush green, rolling hills and rivers  that words, or even pictures could never begin to capture.


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