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

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Hodge Podge of Updates

                                As I prepare to write this post I am painfully aware that it is after an almost two month absence.  I find myself asking - where have I been?  It is not that I haven't been busy with art projects.  
                                In November I hung paintings at the Des Moines Botanical Center.  It has been a great show, by the way.  I met wonderful people at the artists reception, sold three of my larger paintings and have already taken a trip back to Des Moines with new paintings to replace those sold.  My work will continue to hang there until January 8th.

                             I have been working on a hodge podge of painting projects.  Some that were studies for learning purpose and some that are currently works in progress.  I thought I would give you all some snippets of what I have been up to as of late.

                          I enjoyed a little dabble into a new subject in early November.  I have always been fascinated with the design and beauty of sea shells.  I thought I might like to try my hand at one.  Since I was trying a new subject, also decided to try some new techniques for the background - heading in a more abstract direction with what I guess I would compare to a "wash".  

                        Two things I walked away with from this project: one, a desire to explore the background technique further - it ended up being my favorite part of the painting.  Secondly, an awareness of my need to study, practice, and study some more various seashells. The seashell itself was a lot more challenging than I expected.
                     This is a sneak peak into a garden scene that I have been working on off and on.  It is at the "off" stage right now.  Sometimes when I reach a point where I get frustrated with the direction a painting is headed, if I just let it sit for a month or so I have a whole new perspective and zeal when I return to it.  

                       This is  little study I did for an idea I have for a future project.  I am exploring the concept of "home" and what it means to different people.  My  nest contains all five of my little eggs - even though in reality I have three out of the nest.  I would love to hear from my readers as to your ideas of "objects" that might represent "home" to you.  It might just end up in the final still life.  Email me with you ideas!

                  Finally, a sneak peek into the canvas currently sitting on my easel.  It's a big one (4ft.x 4ft.).  I only began it this last week, but got lots of progress made in throughout the past few days waiting out a snow storm.  I will keep you posted.

                  Okay. that about catches things up.  Hopefully I can stay a little more on track from this point.  Sometime next week I will be taking a look back at the ups and downs of 2012. Until then, enjoy your family and have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Getting Ready for a New Show

Autmn Collage 

    I've been finishing up a couple of new paintings to include in my upcoming show at the Des Moines Botanical Center.  I will have paintings hanging there from November 2nd through January 10, for those of you in that area.  I am really looking forward to this show.  
    I was in the poppy mood so of course I had to plant myself in the midst of a poppy field (no pun intended).  I started out with one idea for the painting below ("Blowing in the Wind")  and it ended up developing into another.  So I for see another poppy painting in my near future to further develop that original idea.  
   I also wanted to do something with a Fall theme.  I love the colors of Fall.  Many times when I start a painting my ideas come from what I would enjoy hanging in my own home.  I have a beautiful shelf in my dining room that my husband made just for my paintings.  There is a constant rotation of paintings up there during their drying time.  That way I can look at it often and make sure there isn't anything I want to tweak.  So when I do a painting one of my first thoughts is - do I want this hanging in my dining room.  Which is what led me to a Fall theme this time - I'm in the mood to see Fall colors on my wall for a bit!
     So if you happen to be in the Des Moines area (all of my Iowa friends), stop in to the Des Moines Botanical Center next month and see these paintings along with about fifteen others!

Blowing in the Wind

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Summer Sunflower" Finds a Home

            I had a terrific art show/ sale a couple of weeks back.  It was great not just because I sold a few paintings (although that is always nice!), but because I was blown away by the number of people who came out to see my artwork ( and many that were not even related to me - ha!).  I also loved meeting new friends that were so fun to speak to and who were there just enjoying art - awesome!
           One of those people was Dr. David Benson, the superintendant  of the Cedar Rapids, IA School District.  He and his wife purchased "Summer Sunflower" to donate to the already thriving collection that the school district has.  I had to share his story because I found it to be very inspiring.
            For those of you not from Iowa, I first have to start off by letting you know of the horrific flood that Cedar Rapids had about four years ago.  It was like nothing you can imagine - much of the city, including all of the main government buildings were almost completely submerged in water.  Hundreds of homes were completely destroyed.  It was (although C.R. is smaller in size) comparable to the floods brought on by Katrina.  One fo the buildings that was damaged was the Cities' school district building. The staff worked hard to get valuables out of the building before the flood.  Among the things salvaged was the amazing collection of art that the district owned.  Most of the artwork had been collected over the last 70 years or so, from schools that were closing.  Much of it had originally been donated by artists, some well known, who were from the famed "Stone City Art Colony" right outside of Cedar Rapids.  The School district even owns "Young Corn" by Grant Wood.
    Post flood the district rebuilt a new building.  This building was built with post flood mentality - it was made to withstand time and elements and disasters.  As Dr. Benson told me -"It's made to be here in a hundred years or more."
   With the "meant to last" mentality and the already rich art collection, Dr. Benson came up with a wonderful idea.  His plan is to add to the collection by challenging himself and all future superintendents of the district to purchase, and donate to the district, a piece of fine art.  The artwork is to represent the superintendent's home state so that a "piece" of each superintendent  remains long after they have moved on.  His hope is that the art collection will grow and withstand time.  I love that whole concept!
   It just happens that Dr. Benson is from Kansas - thus my little sunflower caught his eye.
  I can not tell you how exciting it is for an artist to see a painting go to someone who loves it!  And I feel completely honored that my painting was chosen to be added to the collection.
   Art appreciation is alive and well in Iowa!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Challenge - Painting Completed

"Bearded Iris"

    Last weekend was filled with a two day art sale and the beginning of this week got busy with school, errands and the business part of art, which means that as close as I was to completing this painting - it wasn't getting done.  So last night I decided I wasn't going to bed until it was done (good thing I was close to completion).  All that I really had left to do was to thicken and lengthen the "beard" and add some fine details to it.  Then the last things was to add some highlight areas.  So I turned up Pandora and painted away until just before midnight, when I was able to say, "Done."

   Over all this challenge has been great for me.  I feel like my creative juices are flowing again and I spent a lot of pure enjoyment time in painting this.  Now I am loaded with some new ideas for paintings.  This is just in time as I am gearing up for an upcoming show at the Des Moines Botanical Gardens in November through January.

For those of you who asked to see the size in comparison to my little Sophie...!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Challenge - Day 11

              I don't think I have ever posted twice in one day, but my earlier post was actually for yesterdays paint time.  Tonight I spent about two hours fine tuning the lower petals and adding the "pizazz" of the beard if the iris.  The paint for the beard is rather thick so I will let it sit at least over night (perhaps a couple of days - so I might have to skip a couple of days of painting while it sets up).  At that point I may thicken and lengthen the beard, add some highlights here and there and then I believe I will be done.
            Until then...

The Challenge - Day 10

                  I did get to paint yesterday (09/12), but I didn't quite get the blog post up.  So I may put day 10 and 11 both up today - we'll see how the evening goes.  I planted my self in front of these two right hand petals (seen below in context from the day seven post).  I'm sorry about the glare on the photo, but at least it gives you some idea of what I was up to.  I tried to smooth out some of the multi-colored shading so that it has a more uniform effect.  I also decided to bring more of the aqua in to areas to give the impression that some of the petals are slightly translucent and therefore catching the blue of the background in the lighted areas. I encourage you to double click on the image above to see more of the details of the brush strokes.

            Tonight when I paint I will be looking to add some pizazz in a couple of areas that are really needing it.
            Until then....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Challenge - Back at it: Day 9

Main petal - Day 9
                     I will admit that I fell off the wagon.  Two days straight of no painting.  It's not something that I am proud of - when I commit to something I like to stick with it.  But it's the fact, so there it is.
  But I am back at it again, starting up again with day nine of painting.  I focused mainly on the main flower, adding more depth with shading and highlights.  Now I know what you might be thinking - that I am basically showing you the same picture over and over and just "pretending" that I am getting further in the painting.  But the truth is, I am making progress.  To prove my point, I give evidence in the picture from day seven.

Main petal - Day7
                   I get asked all the time, "How long does it take you to paint one of these?'  Well, I am roughly about two-thirds done with this one and I am on approximately hour eleven.  Form this point forward I get to the fun stuff - polishing things up a bit, so to speak, and starting to see the idea I had in my head really come to life on canvas.
                     More tomorrow....

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Challenge - Day 8

Day 8
I love Saturdays.  On Saturdays I can get big ol' chunks of time in with a paint brush in my hand.  Today I spent about three hours working on this project.  It feels like I got so much accomplished!  I added another layer of glaze to the back ground (I believe this makes four or five layers), and I added detail to just bout every petal. Whew... it feels good to be making headway.  Now time for some house cleaning...

Day 7 (for comparison)

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Challenge - Day 7

      Today I worked on the background, adding another layer of glaze to get more depth and vibrancy.  I also began to deepen the shadow of the third petal (smaller one to the right of the main petal).
      Tomorrow is Saturday!  My goal is to be in front of the canvas for at least a couple of hours.  Hopefully tomorrows post will show some real progress.  Until then....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Challenge - Day 6

Main petal - day 6

            Okay, it might not look like I am making any progress - but really, I am!  I spent a lot of time today working on the main petal.  I added more shadowing, more curve and ripple in the petals and more of the soft grays and aqua.
             If it is looking pretty much the same to you, look below at day five and you will find some subtle changes.  What can I say - it is a slow, but sure, process.
Main petal - day 5

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Challenge - Day Five

                 Well, I am back from a little mini vacation with the family and ready to continue on making progress.  The couple of days away gave me some fresh perspective!  

             I thought it might be time to start honing in specific petals, starting with the upper left.  I wanted to bring in some turquoise to help bring harmony  to the over all painting.  It looks a bit bright right now but will be toned down later.

Close up work
           Tomorrow I may begin to tackle the main petal and see where it takes me.
         Until then.....

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Challange - Day 4

Day 4 - I feel like I got a lot done today.  I really worked on darkening up the background and trying to add more depth to it.  My background is done with layers of glaze (this would be the second layer after the initial wash of blue), done in various combinations of Prussian Blue, Viridian Hue, Cobalt Turquoise, Burnt Umber, and Payne's Gray.
I also worked more on the balance of the composition, extending the petal in the middle of the canvas to the right (as you look at it).
No painting for the next two days - time for a little family togetherness on a short out of town trip.  More on Tuesday. Until then.....

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Challenge - Day 3

Day three and it is starting to look like something a bit more recognizable.  I extended that bottom petal to help with the balance issue (pardon the weird angle on the picture - I'm a painter, not a photographer, what can I say). I've started to really establish the shadow areas more.  
More tomorrow...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Challenge - Day 2

               Day 2...if that doesn't make sense to you, check out  yesterdays post to learn about a little challenge I am undertaking.
               I was able to paint for a good chunk today - one whole hour.  Actually, with my schedule for this new school year it looks like 2:00 to 3:00 pm may well end up being my hour for painting.  We'll see how long it takes before some other responsibility fights me for even that!  But for today it was awesome.
              I worked on first filling in a little blue for the background just to help me get my bearings  in the midst of all the crazy petal lines.  Once the background had some color I was able to stand back and evaluate  the over all composition.  I immediately saw that it wasn't balanced.  To attempt to remedy that I extended the petal in the lower left hand side (as you look at it).  There might need to be more tweaking on some of the other petals but this was enough for now.   Finally I began to roughly lay in some of the shadows in the upper petals so that it would begin to take shape.
              Over all I feel like I got a lot done in a short amount of time.
             More tomorrow....

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Challenge

    Not much of a picture today, folks, but read on and it will all make sense....
   I spoke in my last post about the creative funk I seemed to have found myself in lately.  More on that now:

            This was a strange summer for me, creatively speaking.  Usually I use the free time of no homeschooling to paint a lot and have found that summers are usually quite prolific for me. But this summer I  found myself lacking: lacking in time to paint, in ideas, and in paitience with what I am painting.
               Part of the reason was because I have been doing the perpetual mommy - dance.  You moms out there know what I am speaking of:  trying to juggle the  repsonsablilities of parenthood with your own personal hobbies and interests.  I try very hard to keep the right roles in the right order.  I am first and formost a mom, with kids to care for and love and spend time with.  After that  - I paint.  Sometimes those priorities get skewered. When this is the case I pray and re-evaluate what I am spending my time doing.  This summer I found myself doing that a lot.   With my youngest in particuliar, I kept thinking ' She is only four right now.'   Because the truth is, I love to create what I hope are paintings that people find beautiful - but those paintings are nothing compared to creating a childhood, and memories, and helping form the character of a little life.
            The other reason I didn't accomplish a lot of new paintings was because I worked a lot on the two paintings that my dad had begun (see my three prior posts).  I learned a lot from doing it, I appreciated the closure it gave me following his death.  But it was also a struggle.  It was difficult to paint things that were out of my normal range and to do it on a tight deadline. That, along with the emotional experience of them being my dad's paintings, left me a bit drained  - creatively speaking.

          So what does one do when you find yourself in a creative funk?  Well, a little tiny piece of advice my dad gave me almost fifteen years ago has been playing in my mind lately....."Paint every day".  This was something that he put into practice in his life.  It is something that I used to do too.  Although I wasn't able to spend the hours at a time that he did in his retired years, for many years I usually painted everyday, even if it was only for ten minutes (because that was often all the  mommy-dance allowed).  I realized that I have really gotten out of that habit.  Not only does it effect your skill level, I suspect that it effects your creativity.

             So I decided to give myself a little challenge.  I started a new painting and with it I am challenging myself  to put paint to canvas everyday until it is completed.  For a bit of incentive I chose a big project. There is something about a huge canvas really gets me excited to fill it!  This particular canvas is 4 ft. x 4 ft.  
          I am not quite sure how long it is going to take to complete - but I plan on painting even a little everyday  until it's done.  And I will be posting my progress everyday.  Some days it may not look like much progress is made, but there will be a picture none the less.
         So above is day one - not much happening, just the general outline of the idea of what will at some point be a painting.  I shot a little of my art studio area so you can get some idea of the size of the canvas.  Tomorrow more will be done - I promise.  Stay tuned....

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Got a Name?


                 This is the first  painting (completely of my own)  that I have done in quite a few months. I have been in a bit of a creative funk lately (more on that in a later post). It is nice to accomplish something.   I wanted to play around with some of creams and taupes in a color scheme.  This 24x30 oil is a study of sorts for a future project I have been mulling over.
                   Part of the creative funk includes a lack of title ideas.  Not one is coming to me!  I am open to suggestions... send me an email or leave me a comment on my facebook page

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

For My Dad...part II

       In my last post I told you all about the first of the two paintings that I was completing for my dad.  He passed in May and had two commission paintings that he had been working on (check out the link for the full story).  This double portrait is the second of the paintings.  I finished it up last week just in time for us to leave for a family reunion in Colorado where hopefully I will be able to meet up with this couple and deliver it.
       I have never met the couple, but understand that they were dear friends of my dad.  It is always difficult to paint people that you do no know, even more so people you have never met.  So much of our appearance comes from not just the physical landscape of our faces, but from our personalities.  I tried to use not only the beginning of what my dad had started (seen on the left) and the photo I had of the couple, but also the kind things that my siblings (who had met them) said about them, to convey there character on canvas.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

For My Dad...

"Storm Coming In"

                  I know that this is not the typical kind of painting you might be used to finding on this blog.  But yes, I painted it...sort of.  Let me explain.  But first I need to backtrack a bit. And I will apologize in advance for the length of this post - the subject matter is a bit unusual and so is the length.  Some of you might remember a post I did back in 2010 about a painting I was doing of my dad.  In it I talked about how he was an artist who had painted for well over forty years.  I know that I would never have picked up a paint brush if it were not for the incredible influence that he has had on my life.

                  Fast forward to last month.  On Mothers Day we got the awful phone call telling us that my dad had died suddenly in a car accident.  It was just such a shock to everyone.  He was in his eighties, he had just fought , and seemingly won, a short battle with cancer last fall.  An accident was just the last thing that anyone expected.  

                   Things in life don't always fall into perfect timing, and for some reasons beyond my control I was not able to go to Colorado for my dad's memorial service (although a family reunion was already planned for this July, which at that time we are planning  as a family, per his request, to  spread his ashes over his beloved mountains.)  Losing a parent, no matter what your age, is a difficult thing.   It is a strange feeling knowing that they are no longer here.  I was very sad not to be able to be at the memorial.  It felt like an important part of the closure that is needed when someone dies was just not able to happen. I'm not one to really get my feathers ruffled and I had to at the time just accept the fact that it is what it is and you just deal with it.  But it  has taken me a month now to be able to really talk about it, and even now it is a really heart breaking thing to think about.

                  One thing that I am most thankful for is that deep abiding knowledge that I will see him again someday.  My dad had always been a very moral person - your typical good guy.  But on a visit about ten years ago we had had many long talks and he had told me that he had come to realize that his goodness would never be enough to get him into heaven.  That he really saw himself as someone in need of the forgiveness that Jesus provided on the cross.  It was a conclusion that he had come to at some point while living in Colorado, and it did bring about a lot of changes in his life.  From that point forward he and I had, throughout his remaining years, many good conversations on the subject of God's grace and our countries need to return to our Christian roots.  And even in my dad's paintings there was a change!  I have always been a firm believer in the idea that what is put on an artist's canvas is a direct result of what is going on in an artist's heart.  Where my dad had once painted in very dark, somber colors, and sometimes on some very dark subject matters - his paintings took on a new vibrancy with lively, vivid colors.  To me, it was an amazing thing to see, and I truly credit it to a change that took place in his heart.  Anyway, I say all that to say that "...we don't mourn like those who have no hope..."  I look forward to seeing my dad again in Heaven.  

                    Okay, back to the painting at hand... my siblings, when going through my dad's home found many things to bring back for me that truly are a treasure to me - his paint brushes (which I had always told him I wanted, not so I could use them, but just to have them), his easel (which we gave to my son, Zach), a painting "recipe" book (all of his notes on color combinations he uses for various subjects),  and about six uncompleted paintings.  They thought Zach and I would enjoy finishing them.  Two of them were actually commission pieces that my siblings had spoken to the people who commissioned them, asking if they would mind if I tried to complete them for them.  So I thought those should be the first that I should work on.  

                       My dad was a western painter, so of course, one of the commissions was a horse and indian painting....

Horse and Indian painting as my dad had left it

                     The subject matter was overwhelming to me!  Yikes!  But, the color lover in me was excited to see some of the interesting color choices he had been going with in the grasses and weeds.  I also liked the idea of what appeared to be storm clouds that he was beginning to form.  So I went for it...

Day two of my painting

                   One thing that I have to note is that the canvas smelled like the sweet smell of his pipe that he always smoked.  It is a smell that all of his children and grandchildren associate with him.  It was wonderful to smell that the whole time I was painting this.  It brought back so many memories - being five or six and sitting for hours in his art studio so he could work on my portrait (at the time, not my most favorite activity!), and as an adult sitting for hours having him teach me how to oil paint - that same pipe perched between his lips, listening to his sometimes abrupt (but always loving) instructions.  It is funny how smells can effect us in such  ways.

                     What was really amazing to me was how much I learned (in a weird way, from him)  by really studying this painting - the brushstrokes, trying to see where he was going with each figure, how he was laying in the background.  It was an intense yet fun experience.  

                       I don't think I will ever become a western painter, and I know  there is no way that I could do his beautiful style justice, but this experience has been a good one for me, and has really helped in dealing with some of the grief that I was experiencing. I started the other commission piece (a portrait) yesterday.  I will keep you all posted as it progresses.   I will be delivering this painting to it's new owner when I go to Colorado next month.  I hope they enjoy it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Chance to Win this Print -

"Bolivian Poppies"
                 Well it seems like eons since I have written any new posts here.  But it has not been because I haven't been painting - I have had a bigger project going that just took time.  It has probably taken more time than usual due to the fact that life has just gotten very busy around here.  My oldest daughter (middle child), Shelby, just graduated from high school, so of course we were busy with all of the many preparations that go along with that.  Now that summer is here, hopefully I will have  a little more time to paint!
                 The project that I was working on these past months was actually something for Shelby - well, sort of.... This painting, titled "Bolivian Poppies" is a step away from my usual darker backgrounds to a more warm, vibrant look because that is what Shelby's personality is like.  The girl is vivacious and free spirited and I wanted to paint something that embodied that.  But the painting isn't actually going to belong to Shelby.  Let me explain...
                  Shelby  is waiting a year to start college and will be going for the next twelve months to Bolivia on a long term mission trip.  She will be in Cochabamba, Bolivia, with the International Missions Team Group, working with poverty stricken families.  She will mostly work with the school age children in a Christian community center, tutoring them, providing food, and doing Bible lessons.  She will also help with the local families through community outreaches  and discipleship programs.  In order to live there for a year she needs to raise approximately $10,000 for living expenses.  She has been working hard to earn and save as much as she can.  She is also doing some fund raisers.  Which is where this painting comes into play!
   This original painting is going to be raffled off in our local area (anyone in the Center Point area can buy tickets at local businesses!)  But I will also be doing a drawing for the print for those online friends who are interested. If you would like your name to be entered into the drawing, simply make a donations to "International Teams" for a suggested amount of 10.00 ( each ten dollars will enter your name once in the drawing), with " Bolivian Poppies" in the memo line.  All proceeds will go to her mission trip to Bolivia and a tax receipt will be issued to you (make sure you include your name and address!)  Donations can be mailed to Shelby Kulish at 4198 Pikeview Dr., Center Point, IA 52213.  A name will be drawn on July 31 and the print will be mailed to the winner.
   This is not something that I would typically do - but it is a really good cause and I hope you will consider it!  Contact me by email if you have any questions.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Red II

          This 24x30 oil done on a gallery wrapped canvas is the second in a series of "Reds" that I have slowly been working on.  (The first "Red can be seen here.)  It seems like I work in different colors for a while and then need to return to vibrant reds for a new spark of creativity. With this one I wanted to really zoom in on a tulip for and almost abstract feel.  The biggest challenge I had in painting this?  Wind.  My easel sits near the window in my little studio area and for several days we had some strange wind gusts that kept blowing the painting off the easel.  This painting definitely left it's mark...on my carpet.  Oh well.
              On another note, I had a great time last weekend at the Iowa Artists Regional Show in Iowa City, IA.  there were so many talented artists there and we got to enjoy a great demonstration by Davenport artist Raphael Iaccarino  who then went on to judge the over forty five paintings there.  I took two paintings:   Tori and Twelve and Magenta Rhapsody and took home two red ribbons for both.  This doesn't qualify the paintings for the State level show, but not too bad for my first year.
Until next time....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In the Heat of the Afternoon Sun

I did a little figure study over the weekend based on a photo I found online (I have yet to find the name of the photographer to give them credit - give me a shout out if you happen to know!)  This was one of those laid back paintings that just relieve stresses as you paint them - it made for a perfect ending to a busy week.
The things that really drew me to the subject was the unexpected shock of the green color in the Indian woman's beautiful robe and the abstract design and textures in what would typically be, without really noticing it, a simple wall of a building.  It always amazes me how much beauty there can be in the simple things that surround us, that we usually just overlook.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Iowa Fields

      It has been eons since I have posted anything - but it is not because I have stepped away from my easel for the past month.  It is actually because I have been working on this bigger project  (35x35 oil) for an upcoming show in May with other members of the Cedar Rapids Creative Artists.  The show is called "Repeat, Repeat, Repeat..." and will be held  May 18th at Mr. Beans Coffee House in Marion (for you locals!).  The idea for the show is fantastic.  We have a photographer among the group that took a picture of an Iowa scene and each artist is to do their own interpretation of the scene.  Now this group is loaded with so many talented artists with so much more experience than I have ( I am constantly learning from them all!).  Each person can use as much artistic interpretation as they want as long as the photo remains the basic concept.  I am so looking forward to seeing the ideas that people come up with.
    I must say that when I got the photo I was a bit out of sorts.  I don't do a lot of landscapes, even though I do enjoy them when I do.  I struggled for many months over how I could put my own creative spin on this scene.  I considered zooming in on and making the windmill my main focus.  Alright, I have to admit, this idea came about purely from the realization that the windmill was the closest thing in the photo to my "flower comfort zone".  I scratched that idea after unsuccessfully contemplating how I could do that and still include any of the actual landscape to let it remain the photo concept in some way.  I literally sat on this for about three months without doing anything.  Finally I decided to make it more my style by concentrating on the color.  I love color.  I really am drawn to pure color with lots of energy.  With that in mind I zoomed in more on the field of grasses, which in the actual photo are not really so in the forefront.   The barn was another issue for me - I don't usually paint buildings.  By setting it more behind the grasses I was able to avoid making it the focus of the painting.  Therefore I was able to more make the subject the beauty of Iowa fields blowing in the wind on a summer day - which -  is there anything better (although I admit, I am a little biased!)?
   For those of you in my area, I encourage you to come out on May 18th and see  "Repeat, Repeat, Repeat...".  It is going to be a great show.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Flowering Quince

                I usually have a subject in mind when I paint, but this time I started with a color palette idea and went from there.  My daughter and I were out shopping one day when I saw this beautiful scarf in a little different color scheme.  I was so inspired by it!  For the next week or so I kept thinking about the colors in that scarf.  Even though I loved the scarf I had been showing some restraint that day and didn't buy it - so I kept just running the ideas in my head.  But alas, restraint-shmaint, I went back and bought the scarf so I could use the color idea and get to wear the new scarf!  I just loved the combination of that teal blue and orange along with the hint of those sap green leaves (double click on the painting and you will be able to see more detail).
  I wasn't sure at first what flower I would actually paint, but I knew that I wanted  flowering branches in a large crock, mostly because I wanted the white of the crock to offset the dramatic teal color so it wouldn't over power.  I did a lot of research until I discovered a flower I was not really familiar with - the flowering quince.  After the research and the painting, this is now on my list of must-gets for the spring planting.
   This is a larger painting (35x35) done in oil.  Please contact me by email if you are interested in purchasing this painting or speaking to me about doing a project done to your specifications.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cameo Head Study IV

    I snuck in one more of the cameo style head studies, before I plunge into a couple of bigger projects that will take up quite a bit more time.  This one was inspired by a vintage photo I stumbled across of a twenties or thirties era actress (not sure who the actress was, no one that I recognized).  What  I loved about the photo that inspired me was that her hair was tied up in a fancy scarf, with just the little jet black wave curls sticking out.  I chose to change it into more of a head band style scarf with no designs, just a bold royal blue against her dark hair.  I wanted very strong features - a strong nose, chin and jaw, to give it more drama.
   Although is did the painting after finding inspiration in the photo, I wasn't painting the woman in the photo per say.  I just wanted to do a woman with dark hair.  The funny thing was, about half way through the painting I got to looking at it and realized that, unintentionally, the woman I was painting had taken on quite a few features of an actual woman I know.  I asked my daughter who she thought the painting looked like - and right away she named our friend.  It's funny how we pull inspiration from different places without even realizing it.
   Next week I should be at a good point in my other current project (the one that was giving me so much grief the last few weeks!), to give you a peek.  Until then....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cameo Head Study III - Funk

            Here is a glimpse of my latest head study.   Once again, I am going for the idea of the classic cameo (as in the old fashioned broaches), with some modern twists.  Every one in my family who saw this being painted immediately commented with something along the lines of "wow! Big hair...".  You betcha it is - and I love it.  If I had not been born quite as pale as I am - this would have been my hair.  I love to see a woman of color with a big funky fro announcing her confident outlook on the world.  I think it amazingly fun and beautiful all at the same time.
    Okay, I have had a few people ask me if I am no longer painting flowers - the answer, of course, is never!  I am actually in the middle of working on a bigger project that I am currently a little stumped on.  The background is giving me some grief, leaving me with not much to show anyone.  I feel like I am, however, on the verge of a breakthrough (ha!).  So I will keep you all posted when I have a little more to show.  Until then, I continue to have fun doing these modern cameos...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cameo Head Studies Part II

              So I told you all in my last post how I recently re-discovered the beauty of cameo style broaches with the lovely profile of classic women of old.  It is funny to discover what oddities can inspire you.
             Ever since, I have been playing around with small head studies - in particular profile views of women, with those cameos in mind.  However, I wanted to put more of a modern twist on it.  I liked the idea of throwing some color into the mix, with lots of loose brush strokes - all of these elements put together making  cameo head study number two...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


     I have gotten pleasantly side tracked lately.  I have found myself searching out old, beautiful vintage photos, especially those of the very feminine kind, with women and children.  It  all started while I was reading a blog that I follow called A Holy Experience written by Ann Voskamp, author of A Thousand Gifts.  Early in January she challenged her readers to A Joy Dare , which  basically gives readers a list of three things to search out daily and record (either by word or photograph) that they are thankful for.  The three daily things are challenging and require you to think.  It was on the day that it asked me to think of "one gift old, one new, one blue" that I am thankful for, that I remembered a beautiful blue cameo broach that had been given to me by my mother in law many years ago.  It was similar to one that my own mother had.  For both of those reasons, it is very special to me.
         I love how beautiful cameos are - so feminine and classic.  This is what got me in a vintage frame of mind - which lead to searching the Internet for vintage photos that resembled that "cameo" look.

    Of course, it didn't take long before I took that idea to my sketch pad, and then eventually to canvas in a series of head studies that lean towards that vintage style.  With this first head study, I wanted to really try and capture that vintage feel, along with the soft femininity.
    In the next few weeks I will sprinkle a few more similar head studies into my posts - some with a bit more modern edge to them.  Until then...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

His Mercies are New Every Morning

       It seems like right around January every year I am suddenly in the mood to paint spring flowers.  Even this year, when Iowa weather has been amazingly mild until recently, I am longing to be digging in the dirt and smelling the lilacs. 
           I finished this painting up yesterday, in the midst of one of our first snow storms of the year. Now if I would have been driving yesterday in the snow my thoughts would have been somewhere along the lines of "Why do we even choose to live in Iowa?"  But since I was tucked away warm in my home, I could look out the window and think how beautiful the falling snow looked.  Give me another month of this weather and I will need to focus on this painting and remember that winter doesn't last forever - spring will come.
          As 2011 was coming to an end and 2012 appeared I was just starting this painting and I was glad to see 2011 go and was looking forward to a new year.  Last year was not a great year for my family and I  - we dealt with a lot of sadness and one trial after another.  When January first rolled around, I was sitting at my dining room table for my morning time of prayer and Bible reading and I suddenly thought of a verse from the Old Testament:

                "Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

        I love how we can always turn to God's word and find hope!  It was this scripture that was on my mind as I painted these flowers.   Winters may be long, nights may be long - but spring comes, morning comes and with it, hope of God's mercy, there for us.  


Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Creative Process

   This is something a little out of the ordinary for me, but I have to take a proud momma moment and show you all my son, Zach's video that he just recently posted to his facebook page.  I love it because it is such a great chance to see the creative process in action.  Zach usually works in acrylics and he has a completely different art style than I do - very loose, bold strokes.  I love his brushwork.  I hope to someday learn to be a little more loose with my paintings as he is (talk about a twist of irony - the parent hoping to be a little more like the kid! Ha!)
  Hope you all enjoy.


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