Art – A Creative Way to Honor and Respect Our Communities.

Variety, Whimsy & I am tired of my Face Mask.

Many people are excited to be out and about at this time after long periods of confinement.
Please continue to take great care of yourselves, and those around you.
However, the confinement is ongoing as the Covid 19 numbers triple daily, in many communities. I live in Arizona, and along with the other “Sunbelt” states the cases have been skyrocketing for the last month. Hopefully, we will all continue to take steps to be patient, as well as honor and respect the safety and wellbeing of those around us.

And, I am tired of my face mask. I want to wear face masks that are fun, original, or at least interesting. Those that want-for…..get creative! Therefore, I have created my own designs in a variety of styles. Here are (just a few) of my favorites I have created so I could order them for myself……!

Pretty In Pink Peonies with Crystal Butterflies. Helps me forget the current 116 degree temperature!

Aurora Borealis Abstract. Kinda reminds me of Las Vegas or a sequined mini dress!

Chic Business Neutral, very elegant.

BoHo Abstract Honeycomb design, for that fresh artistic flare.

Retro Hawaiian Hibiscus. Perfect for a curb-side Luau.

Compassion Paisley Design. Reminiscent of Haight Ashbury, 1967 and Poetry.

Brilliant Watercolour Leaves reflect a kind smile under that mask!

If you would like to see more designs, or would like to order for yourself or others, you can find these masks at;

North Liza Lane at Society6
and
North Liza Lane at Pixels.com.

and remember,

 “Let’s be careful out there.”

– Thank you!

 

Painting – A Peaceful Nap…Sort of.

A Peaceful Nap…sort of. 40″ x 40″ painting of Mother and Cub Brown Bear in Alaska.

Parenting and those “oh so treasured” daily nap times.

Every parent has had the experience of “nap time” and drifting off into a snooze, only to be aware that the young one(s) are fiddle-faddling around, and nature seems to be chiming in!

This painting is the follow-up on my last post, and the final work. The creative and painting process provided me with valuable insights about life itself, and how I am choosing to live it.

Detail of Alaska Brown Bear Cub Face.

This little cub is gazing at a Silvery Blue Butterfly (Glaucopsyche lygdamus) found in Alaska and the northern hemisphere. Once considered extinct, it has recently resurfaced.

“Love what you are doing.” I have all heard this said many times. And time is what it took for me to get the value of that advise.

I learned that in each moment of anything I am doing, painting, mopping my kitchen floor, or paying bills, if I am focused only on the task in that moment with gratitude and love, it is a joyful experience. My energy is endless.

However, this is also a conscious and disciplined choice, and more than occasionally requires a sense of humor. It’s like meditating. When I paint fur or feathers, I paint each hair, and each feather, and with each stroke it becomes a meditation on how much I love the subject. During the process I wondered why I had ever allowed anything else (doubt, fear, anxiety) to crowd my mind? Maybe this is one of hidden gifts of the pandemic, and the months in isolation, the time to evaluate and implement this valuable understanding.

 

Detail of Mama Bears face.

I have a friend who tells me that sometimes less is more in art, and this is quite true as well. But for this painting I wanted to paint all of the little details. I love to look at illustrations and paintings that are detailed and my eye can travel through the painting and find new details each time I look at it. I love a painting I can walk into and sit down for a time, and just soak up the experience.

I hope this painting becomes that kind of experience for someone.
Nature is a wondrous gift.

Now tomorrow, I will take on the long avoided task of decluttering my storage room, and LOVE it
…….(that is the part that requires a sense of humor).

– Thank you

Doodle Art – A Little Something Different

Just Doodling, a Delightful Get-away

So many of the wordpress bloggers inspire and delight me with their creativity. In a conversation with Judith at “Art Discoveries” , she was encouraging after I had commented on her doodling post that I had liked very much. Later, thought I would give it a go. I love the blogs Doodle Wash, Just Sketching, and Danny Gregory’s site. With pen in hand, I began.

Who knew doodling could be so relaxing? Doodling gave me permission to completely stop thinking and I did, I just zoned out. At this time, I really appreciate that. Doodling feels like meditating!  It clears the mind. I chose not to have goal or an outcome, I just began drawing a design, then an object, and kept going. Soon my “doodle” became a massive 18 inches as I filled the page, like a plant that has outgrown its pot. However, I still found my massive doodle sweet, quirky and kind. Then I gave it a message. Above all, I believe in a kinder world, and that it can happen.

Afterwards, I thought it might fun on a tee shirt. This can be found at; Society6. Then I thought it would also be cute for kids!

I Believe Tee Shirt

Kids I Believe Tee Shirt

If you need a break from the current situation and all the worries it contains, a doodle-break really works. You just may complete your doodle with a fresher, clear mind.
This was a fun experience, and I will do many more. Thank you for reading!

Illustration – A Promise Kept – Treasure the Little Things.

Many decades ago, I made a promise.

This week I learned that promises made to ourselves are important….even decades later.

Every five years or so, a thought will cross my mind. “Please draw Miss Hickory.” Every time it came into my mind I either ignored it, dismissed it, or had an excuse of why I was too busy. Mostly I pretended not to hear it.

When I was 6 years old I picked up a book in our school library; Miss Hickory, a novel by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey. I did not have the skills to actually read it, however, I already had definite opinions concerning the illustrations. Even then my life as an artist was already determined. I also had a serious balance of logical thinking as well, and was insulted that a creature made of twigs would have high heels, a knitted sweater, and –  just how did those flowers stick in her nonexistent hair if she had the head of a hickory nut? At the age of six I promised myself that one day, when my skills were better I would draw Miss Hickory as I saw her in my mind.

So, last week upon waking, when I heard “Please draw Miss Hickory” for the umpteenth time, I thought about it and said, “Yes.”

Drawing Miss Hickory was an opportunity to listen to my six year old self and in return, she opened the door to valuable information as I sketched and painted. Nothing is a mistake, everything is a valuable key. Our conversation gifted me a greater understanding of this incredible journey called life.

From my perspective…….

Listening to our thoughts is important. Within ourselves is a wealth of information, the library of “Us”. Parts of ourselves hold the keys that are the story of “ourselves.” Some we want to keep, some we need to update or “take to the cleaners.” Some have been a huge asset in our creative lives, and all need to be known. When we don’t listen, out fear of something “bad” is a lie. This is when we find it difficult to live comfortably in our own skin. A good friend of mine once said “Think of yourself as a corporation and you are the CEO.” This is so wonderfully creative and true. Will we listen to the “essential workers” of our corporation? Or be a petty tyrant, a bully. Or look outside of ourselves for answers.

I have never read the Miss Hickory book, but I have ordered it. Miss Hickory is a Newbery Medal award winner.  After completing my own illustration, I read reviews about the book – both good and bad, some replying it was freakishly dark. The book will arrive on Monday. It should provide either more opportunities and illustrations, or simply a good laugh and an opportunity to a close the door.

In this time of less distractions…….take the time to listen to yourself. You are an individual, a “one of a kind.”  That is what makes you a miracle.

– Thank you

Painting – “Peeps,” My Funny, Kind, Supportive, Imaginary(?) Friends

A few weeks ago, I snapped this image on one of my daily walks.

California poppies peeking through a wrought iron fence.

I felt this image illustrated perfectly the experience of self-isolation at this time. Naturally, I wanted to I paint this image but wondered if the fence might be a little too stark and oppressive. Ideas began to arrive in my mind; create it like stained glass, the leading can symbolize the fence (too obscure), and then more ideas arrived, but none with the “zing” that feels like inspiration.

I decided to just begin painting and see what happened along the way. After completing the flowers, I sat back and wondered, “what next?” From the corner of my eye I see one of my little friends waving, posing, and smiling its impish little smile, “OH me! Me! choose me!”

“Again?” I ask, “You’re already in two or three paintings.” My friend tilts his little head, and blinks his little eyes.

“Well, alright,” I concede, and he strikes a pose as if hanging off the mast of a ship. “So you’re Captain Ahab now?” I  snicker, and he just grins.

Once his image was added, the painting still felt unfinished. Now on my shoulder, my little friend reminds me that it will soon be Easter, why not invite Bunny? She will be perfect  symbolizing the celebration of “New Life and New Beginnings.” I thought for a while, “no, too hokey” I answered, and all the joy left the moment, and left the room as well. I waited. And waited.

Finally, in the lingering silence and knowing I had not chosen well, I whispered “Bunny, would you consider allowing me to paint you into this painting?”

For such a shy little creature, Bunny is exceedingly fast, and even reminded me of a previous painting session. “Jump in!” I invite, and the painting was soon completed. As we three observed the finished work i wondered what to name it. “Peeps” said my little friend.

“Like the marshmallow candy?” I ask.

“Like the candy, …..and for good friends.”

My little chickadee friend is exceedingly proud and pleased, and Bunny is shyly delighted, and together we wish you a heartfelt and wondrous Easter.

– Thank you

Painting – Spring! “Bird & Bee” + painting video clip

 

Bird & Bee. “22” x “18.”

Spring!

March 19th was the first day of spring, I am a few days late with this work, although I had good intentions!

A bird and a bee ushering in spring. However, they are not located in the great outdoors, and something in the image appears to be missing, or is it?

Below is a short (55 seconds) fast-frame clip of painting the poppies and the stems of this image. Less than a minute, but super fun. I hope you enjoy it!

Spring represents new light, life, a new path, and balance. At this time, balance in all things is vital, along with choosing faith over fear, and one moment at a time. The present is certainly a new way of life, and we are all forging a new path each day. My gratitude for all things has magnified. Choosing acts of kindness, goodwill, laughter and love raises the spirit, and strengthens the immune system within the body. May we begin with ourselves, and offer peace, laughter, and comfort freely and abundantly to all.

This painting was a challenge in balance and light. A challenge in depth, texture and colour. A similar experience of myself and life at this time.  But with all things….I want to look back and say “….it taught me a great deal, and I had fun.”

Happy Spring! – Thank you for reading!

Painting – Contemplation & Solutions

Contemplation & Solutions – 24″ x 34″.

“Contemplation & Solutions”

While creating this painting, its essence became very dear to me. Contemplation is the choice of taking a few moments to listen within for the best solutions. Contemplation means giving up reacting. Each day is filled with a multitude of moments that we are constantly making choices amongst the momentum of “rush, rush, rush” and “hurry up.” When did we allow this rushed feeling become the fearful boss of us? Moreover, why did we? Giving ourselves permission to pause for a few moments, contemplate the best choice of our words or a solution, is an action of honoring the best of who we are, each and every one of us. We honor each other with our mindfulness, and this will always serve us and life, well.

Thank you.

Test Driving Procreate

Do you remember your first attempt at rollerskating, skateboarding, or snow skiing?

Arms out careening around trying to find your balance? That was me on testing out procreate today. Last night I received a new iPad. In the ten years since my first and only iPad purchase, a lot has changed! After powering up, I just had to hold my iPhone next to it upon start-up, and wahlaa, I was in and set up!

This morning I downloaded the procreate app and thought I would give it a test. Wow, what a learning curve! Arms out, careening around through brushes, layers, and colour picking. Of course the image I created is just a stab at random textures, and shy on anything creative (actually, it reminds me of something found on a 1918 tea towel after sopping up spilled tea for two decades), but that’s not the point. It was an adventure in trying to see if I could create anything in a foreign land. It was pretty tough and I still have no clue, but that is the beauty of knowing that brilliant and talented people share great information on Youtube and I can research their wisdom.

Procreate is fast, this test drive was just about a 3 hour drive. Again, I had no plan what-so-ever. I thought I would just make a brushes swatch page, but my circle strokes became an apple….and I just kept going. I can tend to become overwhelmed with having to learn a new program, but once I get my feet wet the challenge seems to entice me into more discoveries. I love the feel of the pencil and not a mouse, or a pen on a wacom tablet while looking at a screen. I purchased a “paperlike” matt protecter film that really feels like paper! The sketching feeling is terrific. Best yet, is that this is the “mobile” painting pallet I can take anywhere, and just doodle or continue a work in process. I am excited to see how far I can take this new program, today I just learned how to start it up and signal I was merging into traffic!

If anyone has suggestions of a great set of brushes, their experience, or tutorials, I would really appreciate it!

Best, Liza

Painting – The Importance of Having a Dream

Pursuing a Dream

“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.” –MLK, Jr.

“A person starts dying when they stop dreaming.” – Brian Williams

“Dreams are different for everyone. For some, they may be personal, for themselves only. For others, they are to be shared, for the world to know. Some may think that their dreams are meant to stay dreams, while others do whatever is necessary to make them reality. Either way, these desires are our source of motivation. They provide us with goals and hopes for the future. Without them, life isn’t worth living; life becomes boring and without a purpose. Granted with great dreams comes great responsibility as they can’t come true without work and dedication. However, it is only with dreaming that one has the potential of reaching pure and utter happiness.

For these reasons I ask you to encourage your friends, your siblings, your future children and whoever else to dream, big or small, it doesn’t matter. There is nothing worse and more sorrowful than having the right to dream taken away. Make sure you realize that right, and make sure that the path you’re on, is the one no one has chosen but yourself.” – Vanessa Raffeale

In this painting the turtle represents the joy and vitality of having, and pursuing a dream. The ethereal images of the dolphins and fish symbolize the ever present guidance assisting us, and cheering us on our way. – Believe in your best.

Painting – Pathfinder

“Pathfinder” 20″ x 26.”

Discovering the story, and painting it along the way

With every painting I create, behind the scenes there is always an adventure, a path of life experiences as the foundation for each painting. These experiences are a part of the painting process, along with experimenting, and discovering new painting techniques to accomplish a texture, colour, or light.

Lion Stage one.

This is not the typical “method” of art, but it is how I create, the discovery of what it is I am painting and why…the story of the image and understanding life through the creation of the painting. Maybe you create this way as well?

Stage One; An image of a Lion popped into my head and I wondered how in the world I was going to paint all of that fur! I also wondered why I was going to paint a lion. At that time, only a part of the greater image of the painting would arrive in my mind. Never the entire image. I began painting the lion. I found that if I painted a wash of colour and then scratched the paint, it would create a nice look for the fur.

Lion Stage Two

Stage Two; By adding more washes, and scratching them with different degrees of pressure, some of the scratches maintained the wash underneath, creating an interplay of light, tint, and texture.

 

Lion Stage Three

Stage Three; More washes of the deepest contrast were applied in specific areas, as well as some additional texture with a bristle brush.Then using an opaque cream colour, and a fine brush, I added the highlighted whiskers and hair around the face and random areas.

As the lion reached this third stage the “setting” for the background of the image came into my mind. This was an older type of subway system with brick walls. I had been listening to, and observing life around me, and all of the changes that have been happening so rapidly worldwide for all of us. Issues with lifestyle, belief, religion, and who’s right and wrong were escalating. I realized that the unconscious norms of society about “how to live life” were rapidly leaving, and leaving many at an emotional, economical, and spiritual loss, escalating an inner feeling of confusion, depression, despair, and mistrust.

Ruck sack, Candle, Clock and Compass

So what is left to one and all in these highly charged, and rapidly, changing times? The centuries-long mode of “follow the leader” is failing completely, and each person must now look within themselves, and find what is true for them.

I painted the rucksack, symbolizing that from the moment you were born, all of the tools and skills you needed in this lifetime came with you. As a very wise and funny friend of mine says, “sometimes, you need to remember where you left your backpack.”

I painted the candle for the light within each of us that is illuminating our way, especially in the dark.

The clock symbolizes time, in that the time is now, living someone else’s plan for you and remaining un-true to yourself is over for everyone. This is the discomfort, the “shake-up.”

I painted a compass to represent that although we may not trust it, we each know what direction is our own, and the world map, represents a reminder to be open to all possibilities, and that maybe our own path is not just one place, but many places along the way.

The young girl symbolizes the innocent child of the universe in each one of us, and through this part of ourselves, this goodness is available, by simply asking.

As I put the finishing touches on the Lion, this powerful, protective creature of grace and strength, I came full circle with my experience of the painting, and the present moment in my own life. The Lion represents the Creator, God, or whatever you choose that beats your heart. It is always present when we are confused, present when we stamp our feet and demand the whole “story” before we try, always there watching over our individual path custom designed for each and every one of us, with offering us what we need to know each step of the way when we choose to ask and listen. When we ask, when we follow our own truth, we are each a pathfinder of our own story.

Sometimes we bump into other people’s stories, but that is a different painting!

This is the “The Pathfinder”

The Pathfinder

Thank you

 

 

Painting – Heading Out….

I was playing around, working with texture and colour.

Ideas were arriving, and changes in style as well.
This is simply a test swatch of that play. Bright colours, more texture and with it, as well as a little bird, a messenger.
This swatch has gone on to become a much larger painting, with its own story and is almost finished. However, the little bird was not included.
He was heading out, and only arrived as a reminder to reflect upon the end of another year, and all I have learned, realized, and experienced.

Heading out of 2019, and preparing for 2020 with the bright colours and textures of a life (hopefully) well lived!

Thank you.

WIP Painting completed… and it was Magic.

BELIEVE

Thank you for following the creative adventure of this painting!

The magic has been added, and here is the final painting. Below, is another version that I created for a Christmas card.

Christmas is a celebration of life, of believing in the greater goodness within us all, and sharing the joy of that belief. We do it every day. We enjoy a sense of humor, and laugh a great deal of the time. As we continuously give our attention and actions to all that is good and kind, and we support that blessing for all of life, as we support life itself. We bring the light of belief into ourselves, then through ourselves and into the world, in each moment. We are grateful, and we become grace itself. Peace in your heart, peace through your thoughts and actions, and peace on earth.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND….

Thank you!

WIP Painting – … and then along came The Girl

Stage two of three – Painting the girl.

In the last post I wrote about painting the polar bear. Next came “the girl” giving the bear a hug. The following images show the different steps of painting the girls face and hair. While I painted, I thought about what she would be wearing, and naturally, that would be a thick sweater and gloves. How was I to paint the texture of a knitted sweater? The detail needed for the knit seemed overwhelming, so I created test swatches to see if I could do it. The two knit test swatches and a detail shot from the final painting are included.

Next up will be the final stage.

The final painting with the background. I hope some of this has been interesting, helpful, and inspiring. – Thank you

WIP Painting – It Began With A Bear…& the Post Office.

I was thinking about Christmas and what the season means to me. A painting I had created some time ago came into my mind. I still had all of the progress images, and thought it would be fun to share the progress of how it developed, and what I had learned. As usual I did not have a finished image in my mind when I began this painting. I simply trusted a painting would develop itself as I worked. The painting arrived in three stages, so I will be posting each stage over the next week. It began with a bear while pondering Christmas, “Believing in all that is good,” choosing faith over fear, and delighting in the cheerful anticipation.

Example; this morning I left my home early to arrive at the post office almost an hour before they opened just to get parking. There were a few spaces were available when I arrived. As I trundled my self and my heavy package into the lobby, the line of people were laughing and commenting how they thought they would be the first. Suddenly, the interior door opened. The postal workers had decided to open for business 45 minutes early for all of us! How great was that? Cheerful good will to all.

 What surprised me about painting the bear was that it was a minimalist application, yet appears to have so much detail. I used limited brushes, a broad wash brush, a smaller fine brush, and a brush called “nail.” Now for the friend.

Thank you

From Painting to Book Cover & Design.

A while ago I created the painting “Night Owl,” and then
it flew off!

“Night Owl” 24″ x 36″

Night Owl became licensed to Candace Lienhart and Kahuna Kindergarden, to be used as the cover art for her book SoThere Excerpts & Quotes.
While the painting was horizontal, the cover art needed to be in a vertical format.

Painting, Book Cover and Design

Continuing the painting into a vertical format was quite a challenge, and I enjoyed this project very much. Once the cover was completed within the book specifications, I also created the full book design, layout and graphics.

Back Book Cover and Inner Pages

I loved working with the information of this book. It’s wonderful, and I was able to read it page by page. The text was delivered to me in an editable word document by two people who had been collecting and compiling the information.

I used Adobe InDesign to create the book formatting and file. Originally InDesign was used for magazine and book layouts allowing continuity, and creativity with image placement and wrapping text for many, many pages. This book had 147. Now InDesign is used for many things, brochures, banners, eblasts to name a few.

Adobe Photoshop is the go-to for all image work. Images need to be formatted for clarity and size. Since the book was to be reproduced and bound by a professional printer, the images also needed to be formatted in CMYK for the colour process used by printers.

Adobe Pro DC is used for many steps of the process. From InDesign I can create a pdf file, edit, and rearrange pages. This file can be emailed to the client for proofing and review. It is also the program that the final “production ready” book file is created in for the printer. The whole book production process can take place in three different cities, without leaving home! But I like to meet my printer, they are an encyclopedia of “how to’s” and best cover and text paper choices. I like to make sure it feels good in my hands.

All three of these programs require some training by experimenting or online courses. YouTube is my main go-to, there are some creative problem solving geniuses out there, and I am grateful to them all! I have been using these programs since their infancy, I changed their diapers so to speak, and they just keep evolving and becoming more amazing.

That is the story of the painting becoming a book cover.

Are you designing a book or calendar? Questions are welcomed! If you ever find yourself needing digital assistance, an image formatted for web or print, or anything requiring text or design, email me at Liza@northlizalane.com, or go to my services page. Some tasks require as little as 15 minutes!

Thank you

Artist Anarchy – Work in Progress – Tufted Titmouse

Recently, I find myself working backwards.

Artists learn a lot of “rules” along the way. We keep some, and hopefully we break as many as we can, discovering what works for us in our creativity. Artist Anarchy can be really fun. Over the last year my paintings have been showing up in my imagination as “pieces.” Background, foreground, and main focus or character arrives at random times, and not necessarily in order. I paint or draw what shows up, and then sometimes that’s it. I just save it and move on. Eventually, all of the pieces do come together. The strange part…..is that they fit together perfectly, as if created at the same time.  My most recent work titled “Listening,” arrived in just that way. The foreground and background were painted months apart from each other. However, this tends to create very few posts, so I have decided to post all of the work in progress as it arrives. Hopefully once a week as opposed to once a month, and I will follow along with the story as it arrives!

To get started then

I saw an image of a Tufted Titmouse. Gotta love that name, and there it was, “me, me, draw me!” So I have. I sort of have an inkling of a bigger picture, and hopefully that will be arriving into my imagination soon. For now, I drew the Tufted Titmouse and hopefully these stages will be of interest. We all work differently, and I have learned a great deal from others, so this is “Share and Tell” time. Let me know!

 

The eye was created with watercolour. This might be a Christmas image, but I am trying not to get in the way. Check back next Wednesday and we will see what turns up over the week to come. – Thank you!

Magical Realism – Painting Retrograde

Every Storm has a Key to Wisdom

Retrograde Detail, holding steady.

I painted, and then repainted this piece six times, and then I quit counting. I would give it up and then come back to it many times. The little bird with its fine feathers lifted by the winds of the storm is the only part that remains intact from the original. This is how the piece finally received its name; Retrograde.

A great deal of information about mercury in retrograde can be found on several sites. During a retrograde I try to find the customized clues within the storm of confusion. If the universe is putting in a great deal of effort, then shouldn’t I as well? Just short of dressing up and with the best of intentions I approach retrograde as a grand yet uncomfortable opportunity. I vow that my sense of humor will be my perch. I try to remain steady (and laugh), knowing the clues will arrive like random puzzle pieces smacking me in the forehead. After a lot of bruising the pieces will begin to assemble themselves, just about the time I find my perch being torn from its roots and I am not laughing anymore. Note; trying to force or reshape the puzzle pieces to fit together and into an insight is not recommended; I have tried. And then…it happens, the pieces become a key to a valuable revelation about life and I didn’t die! Yea Mercury in Retrograde.

Magical realism is a natural and favorite way for me to create. I have always wanted to see beyond what we perceive with our eyes, and paint what is occurring behind the scenes. My definition of magical realism is painting life through a mysterious lens, revealing an “interior” mystery using magical elements to make a point about reality. This is my painting illustrating mercury in retrograde. It will end on August 2nd. The next retrograde is October 31st through November 20th. Oh goody, we do get to dress up!

Thank you.

My Cover Girl – Celebrating Spring & Easter.

I giggled the entire time I created this, in celebration of spring and Easter.

Looking at her face, I just can’t help it. Spring is joyful, fresh, new, loving and hopeful.  It is an opportunity to witness the transformation in nature, and within ourselves. A time to celebrate surviving and thriving through the challenges of the past year.

I had so much fun with this that I have decided to make this my new “Play Project” in between paintings. Creating magazine covers using my own artwork with articles I would love to read. Then I will print and frame each cover, and line my home hallway with them. I will call it my Happy Hall

I think I’ll create a Rolling Stones cover next…..

Happy Spring, and Happy Easter to All.

– thank you.

Painting – “Fowl Play.”

I found myself feeling uninspired, and in a bit of a foul mood while trying to enjoy my painting time after a challenging week. What to do? I looked out of the window and observed Betty White and Pearl Bailey busy gossiping around the base of a palm tree.

Betty and Pearl are chickens living in the heart of a large city at a complex that feels as if it is not in the city at all. Betty arrived one day last year as a mystery, was quickly adopted, and Pearl was brought in to be her comrade in hyjinx. They are incredible at herding cats. These two chickens living in the heart of the financial district are quite popular, and even have their own website. It’s all quite comical, watching them at play and how they react to life around them.

“When work becomes play, and play becomes your work, your life unfolds.” — Robert Frost

Taking a my cue from Betty and Pearl I chose to play. I moved into the inspired moment, capturing the energy like a snapshot of spontaneity. Using quick loose strokes, splatters, and random colours, I worked rapidly and with limited thoughts. Then I added a little detail for the head. Later, I chose to add a background of gritty texture, replicating the dirt Betty and Pearl love to dig in for appetizers. My observation of play became the energy of how I painted, and the true essence of the image. I smiled as I worked, and my work became play. Another valuable lesson in truly living life. — Thank you.

Painting – Choosing the Long Way Home

Choosing the Long Way Home. 36″x48″.

This painting contains “hidden images.” For anyone who remembers Highlights magazine and the hidden images drawing on the last page, you may enjoy finding them as much as I did.

This work was a complete surprise. I had no “conceptual plan” whatsoever, but to just play around creating texture. It wasn’t until this piece was about to be set aside, that I saw a story creating itself within the painting. While peering closely at the detail, the painting extended an invitation to enter. I walked in as an observer, and was enchanted by what I found, beginning with all the little faces and characters. I gave this painting the title; “Choosing the long way home.” This painting also holds many stories, and you are invited in to share them. I invite your imagination to walk into the image, peek into the windows and meander along the lane.

I would love to hear about what you find, and any stories you see.

Happy New Year to all. — and I thank you.

 

Painting – Free Falling into Stillness

Free Falling into Stillness. 36″x24″

“So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” – T.S. Eliot

“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” – Lao Tzu

“Whenever you deeply accept this moment as it is — no matter what form it takes — you are still, you are at peace.” – Eckhart Tolle

This painting began as an assignment; “Paint as the neutral observer instead of the creative director.” My mind immediately wanted to have at least an outline, a subject, an assignment, and a deadline. It was beside itself. No plan? That was fine for daily life, but how do you create without an idea, without seeing it in your mind, first? It was two months before I could even sit down to work. I needed to discover what this meant…….

This was a journey into discovering an inner stillness, and the true creativity within the present moment.

In the present moment, in the stillness, is everything I need to know. Listening, and then responding is a rhythm in alignment within our very being, without the mental chatter and its judgements. It didn’t happen overnight, but a time came when the hostages were set free, and there was acceptance, peace, and the joy of creating in the present moment. Not simply for art, but in each and every moment.

– Thank you.

Drawing — Falling Angel

What if?

What if deep within each human being, is an original design of angelic grace, love, and wonder?

What if,

within each moment of our lives, and each experience, an awareness was present and available for us to realize this true design, step by step?

What if,

this could be achieved by asking for the truth in each moment, beyond the emotional reactions and fears?

What if,

our purpose in life is to trust, and remember what we have forgotten?

What if,

this spread, and man’s inhumanity to man and the planet, became part of the past?

What if,

this was all simply, a choice within each of us, and we became “Angels Rising?”

These are the thoughts that inspired the drawing “Falling Angel”. — Thank you

Illustrating Mother and Child

Stage 1 – Sketching and base washes

This piece began with listening to an inspired thought. I was going forward with the intuition to let the work create itself.  A new illustration technique arrived in my mind. I think I was vacuuming at the time.

I saw the face, and I saw the kindness and the strength within the eyes simultaneously. I didn’t worry about the challenge, although I wanted to. I wanted to commit to stepping back, and let the work develop itself. I assured myself it was just an experiment in trying. Lets see what happens.

Stage 2 – Sketching Hair, Adding Washes and Detail

We moved on to the hair. This was created by sketching and adding washes. This stage enforces patience. It feels like a thousand strokes, and with the right focus, can also be a meditation. It’s interesting how much I wanted to know the “outcome”, as if commiting to trusting that step by step process depended on if I liked the final work. I found this quite similar to life in many ways. The temptation is not to take a risk that involves your inner knowingness and time, unless you have an advanced guarantee of the outcome you hope for. In this case, I didn’t. And most work can take up to sixty hours.

Painting the Peals (of Wisdom).

I have never worked with pearls in an image, and this was fun.
Pearls represent calmness and centeredness. They also represent faith, loyalty, truth, purity, and personal integrity. Pearls of wisdom. Something was cooking here…..

Stage 4 – Peonies and Butterflies

The next time I sat down to work, the flower arrived in my mind, and the butterflies. Peonies represent riches and honor. Butterflies represent change, hope and transformation.

Then the work became quite. Was it done? Was it finished? I wanted it to be, I wanted to move on, but…I wasn’t sure. I left it up where i could see it. I would peek at it from time to time while I cooked or cleaned. At times I would sit looking at it. Nothing. All was quiet. It wasn’t done and I didn’t know why.

Days passed and I started a new illustration. I checked back, but still, there was no “green light” feeling. I had no inspiration for a next step, still I trusted that it just wasn’t finished.

While working on something else, I saw this illustration in my mind, and the next inspiration arrived. Her baby. And just like babies, we are not exactly sure when inspiration will arrive, but it will.

All that is represented here is about the challenges of trusting ourselves, trusting our inner compass. It’s about approaching each moment with the faith of a child, and caring for our faith as if we were our own children. It requires loyalty, truth, and personal integrity. It also requires patience, perseverance and a great sense of humor.

I think not knowing the outcome was worth the endeavor, and I am pleased. Which also includes the ability to celebrate ourselves. – Thank you.

This is “Mother and Child”

 

Painting the Beekeepers Gift

Everyone has natural gifts, whether they are aware of them or not.

Bee within hexagons.

This painting started out abstract and simplistic. Just a few notes, like a melody. A bee surrounded by light, with a few hexagons to represent the honeycomb. However, the painting continued to expand, and so did its message.

Some people have gifts that they may be completely unaware of, however, these gifts are very valuable to each individual they interact with. True kindness, a sense of humor, patience, or compassion are just a few. Gifts do not require a tangible creation, like beautiful music, or a wonderful story. Gifts can not be put on like fashion accessory, or used for manipulation. All gifts are something that serve life, and live on within the recipient, lifting them up to a lighter self.

Bees symbolize community, light, and the sweetness of life. They also represent the heart, and personal power. Bees respond to, and respect the gentleness within an individual. Most people do as well. They become alarmed and threatened by insensitivity and disrespect. Bees can intuit true intentions. The Beekeeper symbolizes a pure heart, that cares deeply, and respectfully for the sweetness in life, dispelling fears.

“The Beekeepers Gift” represents the courage, and the great power of sharing our gifts in thought, word, and deed.  — Thank you.

This is “The Beekeepers Gift”

 

 

Painting “Tribal Garden”

Sketching in my notebook, I began to play with a design and listen. It felt tribal, and I thought of tattoos, but I also felt a garden, and realized this image would represent a combination of the essence, thoughtfulness, and the respect many cultures live by, deeply connected in reverence with nature, honoring the gifts of the earth, and that which created it.

Beginning Tribal Garden, Sketch

The sketch is a connection for me, and when I begin to paint, I get to listen and learn.

Tribal Design – Representing a way of choosing to live, spiritual beliefs, and could be seen as a transition in life, embracing wisdom and understanding the grace of being truly aware and alive.

Garden – The original paradise created by God as a safe enclosure. The soul, and innocence, consciousness, happiness, salvation, and purity. Gardens represent the essence of the space between people that is a true state of living in peace, because gardens represent inclusion, community, and a sense of well-being.

Tribal Garden Design

Hibiscus Flower –  Delicate beauty, immortality, and the natural beauty of being one with God. The hibiscus, represents a state of royalty in the connection to that which created this earth, respecting and honoring the hospitality that the earth has always been generously giving to us.

I then painted two more panels of this piece.

Tribal Garden Center Panel

Tribal Garden – Third Panel

And I thought about this experience, about the tribal significance of living on this generous planet, and listening to what the garden and its creator is so diligently offering to teach us. Do I listen and make time to connect to the earth? Do I honor the planet in my life choices, in what I choose to support, and do I and thank nature each day for its wisdom, and the nurturing sustenance it offers?

This is the “Tribal Garden”

Tribal Garden

Thank you.

Painting “Opportunities & Choices”

I heard this painting before I saw it in my mind. I listened to the rythmic sound of the tracks. I drew my sketch and painted a train shortly after pulling into a station. As I painted the passengers, I realized they felt dull, and resigned to their continuous, and repetitive journey of this train. That became the symbolism of the train itself, outdated, dark and uninspired.

Sketch & Train Body

Symbolism
 The train represents traveling through life with only the tools of a “mass form of thought” that is void of any questions, awareness, joy, or truth. The repetitive sound of this train represents all of the unconscious judgements, ignorance, and fear that has been repeated over and over again all around us, accepted, and then passed on, and pressed on, to the next generation.

Train with Background & Foreground

I painted the background architecture next, and the platform, wondering where this image was going? Was it meant to be this dark?

An elephant appeared on the platform and was quickly joined by a few friends. I chuckled at this.

Elephant, Zebra & Parrot

Elephant
Symbolizes nourishment,
instincts, focus, and family. Nourishing the true instincts within us, that we arrive with, daily shifting our focus to the bigger picture, to the bigger family of all of life that surrounds us, every person, place and thing. Practicing patience, and asking for guidance for the understanding of others while we question our own ignorance.
Elephant symbolizes letting go of the lies we may have been warned to “never forget”, and we may have held onto through our loyalty to those that gave them to us, as others had given to them, possibly believing they created some sort of safety.

Zebra
Symbolizes other viewpoints and new ideas, new ways of resolving problems, asking within to understand, and recognizing there is a higher truth connecting all individuals, and the world around us. Life is filled with millions of colours, and is not just black and white.

Parrot
Parrot is a symbol of mirroring habits, characteristics, or ways that are not necessarily reflective of who you really are. The parrot also represents the vigilance of paying attention to what you are saying unconsciously to yourself, and to the world around you with your words, attitudes, and behaviors, in the quest for acceptance.

The Child

In this painting, the child represents each moment of each day. In a moment of misunderstanding and confusion, we are being given an opportunity and a choice. Do we choose to shelter ourselves in judgements that condemn another individual as being less than ourselves? Does this unconscious reaction, really make us feel safe when misunderstanding another person, triggering a fear within us? Or do we trust in our connection to a much, much higher form of wisdom and grace, that will guide us into a larger awareness, unconditional love, and the patience to keep asking for the highest truth, until all of the lights come on within, and we see ourselves connected to all. Grace and wisdom has always been there in our suitcase, waiting to be open and unpacked.  Each moment is our opportunity. Do we board the train of mass thought, or do we choose to rise to a higher platform, and hold hands with the alignment of the greater good of all?  Thank you.

This is “Opportunities & Choices”

Opportunities & Choices

Painting “Change & The Center of Gravity”

It began with an image that had arrived in my mind. It was of a woman with a beautiful light shining from within her heart. Before I could get started on this new painting, a nagging tickle in my throat soon turned into a rib breaking cough, and days in bed with a cold.

During my waking moments, I continued to watch the image paint itself in my imagination. Once I recovered, I set to work on creating this painting. However, something had changed. The painting had changed, and it was different. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. What I had imagined was no longer there to work from. This was very disconcerting, and I experienced a few moments of doubt. Each painting is an adventure, and I see it as a sort of movie that I participate with. Then, I finally began to understand. Feeling the discomfort of “change” was the first note of the music, or film score for this movie.

Stage Two, painting the hands

Doubt is uncomfortable and difficult. I waited, listened, and asked, “What am I painting?” The painting had changed, and the main figure was now a young man. While painting his face first, I saw that the image appeared only from the bridge of his nose down. This is the face of anyone, and everyone.

Next were the hands. The hands are protective and cherishing his heart, his center. This is the home of his “knowingness”, his light, and his truth. The truth is there waiting to offer its wisdom, and only the truth can see through the limited perceptions of his eyes and emotions.

Stage Three, tattoos and the message on the tee-shirt

As I began to paint the arms, I saw the tattoos. I thought about the stereotypes that society has placed upon men, and women for thousands of years, telling them who they “should be”  and “should not be” in order to be safe, valuable, and loved. I thought about the confusion and disappointment this causes within each person, and within their expectations towards each other.  A decade later, these stereotypes will change again, and so will the expectations of who each person “should” be.

I continued to paint this young man, who is cherishing the light and the knowingness within his heart. I began to understand the symbolism, the adventure, the message, and the painting itself. We all have the truth available and running through us in each moment. Accessing this truth, and the choice to honor and cherish this truth is ours, and requires the courage of a personal change. We also have the choice to see only with our eyes, feel only our emotional reactions in a situation, and be guided by the opinions of others. However, these perceptions are not the whole truth.

The message on the young man’s tee-shirt presented itself. “Question Everything”. The question is “what is the truth?” We can choose the gift we  have been given, to listen without an agenda or judgement. This is our greatest gift and power, and our center of gravity as we navigate through illusions, and the constant change of each day. Our center of gravity is our “knowingness”, the light within that supersedes the doubt, discomfort and fear. We have all been given this. Maybe it’s time to make friends with our knowingness, have a long talk and form a great, lifetime relationship.

Finally I painted the fabric background, symbolizing this young man’s “wings of protection and flight” as he trusts, continues to “Question Everything” and treasures the highest truth from within the core of his being. Thank you.

This is “Change & The Center of Gravity”

 

Painting “The Unknown is Calling”

Stage One; The Phone

Once a painting is completed, I begin to wonder what the next painting will be. This time, the image of an old black rotary telephone came into my mind. I thought this was great, I love these phones. However, this image also arrived with the essence of a mystery as well. Each painting is an adventure, a life lesson for me concerning the shared experience of us all.

I create black in a painting by applying a variety of colors on top of one another. I finish the section with two or three layers of  Lamp Black glaze,  a soft warm black. Black is the combination of all colors, and the absence of light. Most every surface will reflect the colors around it, even a piece of white paper, or the page of a book you are reading. Try it. Look closely at your finger touching the paper, then lift it about an eighth of an inch, and continue to look at that spot on the paper. If the lighting is good, you will see the color of your skin faintly on the page. When I first saw this, I thought I was having a “moment”, but with closer observation, I saw the truth of what I was actually becoming aware of.

Stage Two; The Crow

I began to create a marbled texture as well. Next, the name and the number on the phone arrived into my mind; “Unknown 0000”. OK, here we go I thought, we are painting that which we call “The Unknown”, something that immediately seems uncomfortable and mysterious. After the phone was completed, I saw that a crow was to be perched on the phone.

I sat with this painting for some time, just listening. While painting the background, the story of the image began to tell itself. To various degrees, we may consciously or unconsciously, for a false sense of safety, try to protect ourselves from the unknown. This can lead to a calcification of the light that is within all of life, by not allowing the light of awareness, joy, and love to move in and through any given moment freely. We could also grow argumentative and controlling, demanding that what we know, is the right and only way.  This would be simply our fear and not trusting an inner knowingness. This inner knowingness is created to be in constant flow through us. This is also the unknown, becoming known.

The Phone – represents information, and that life is continuously calling to us in each moment. Black represents information that is moving from the position of what you may not know in this minute, to what you will know the next, bringing it into the “light” where all of its colors can be seen.

The Crow – Crow symbolizes the void or core of creation, from darkness to light and alert for every call from the sacred.

The Dove & The Rainbow – In this painting both represent the highest truth available to all. At one moment it is unknown, and in the next, we have the opportunity to become aware of it. We do this by simply asking, by making our own phone calls, and then listening instead of hanging up. It is the peace, and the freedom we feel when we move from not knowing, into knowing. This is faith. This is asking what it is you need to know. When we think about it, this happens in each moment of every day. By choosing to remain open to change, to information with consideration, we are answering the phone in our own lives. We are being led to our own greatest selves. We become light, and within the light, we become pure color.

P.S. The day after I finished this painting a circumstance arrived at my door of life, and I was ushered into another opportunity of the great unknown. With a new set of observational skills, faith, questions, and a lot of focus/listening, and after 5 hours with a used car salesman……..a gruelling test if there ever was one, I exited dehydrated, but victorious, and with an entire new lifestyle. 100% Electric. (big smiley face)

This is “The Unknown is Calling”

The Unknown is Calling

Painting Kindness & Compassion

I created this small design swatch as I thought about the power of kindness and compassion. Within the design, a figure emerged as the essence of kindness and compassion. She made herself comfortable and proceeded to pose for her portrait, so to speak, and became the painting. I felt she had a great message in her eyes, and a message needs a stamp. May all our moments also include the gift of offering kindness and compassion to all.

Flying Lessons & Life

About this painting;

I was pondering life again, which is a moment by moment habit. In times of confusion, I like to create metaphors for life’s perplexities. This allows me to put life or a situation into a context I can work with, like a picture book. Picture books are brilliant, not too many words and full of imagination. This method also allows me to see the parallels of any given situation with a sense of humor, and possibly an insight or inspiration will follow. The “Ahaa! I get it!” moment, and then I can move on.

This is how “Flying Lessons & Life” evolved. I was painting while I pondered (in my picture book metaphor method), how life is like flying. It takes focus and believing in what you know in your heart to be true, no matter how many internal or external hecklers show up. Looking down would certainly cause a wobble or crash if the flying part doesn’t have my full attention, and then I will be looking for the band aids, again.  Something that causes me to look away, or look down would be……..a distraction. So, now I ponder distractions. Do distractions receive job assignments each day when they show up for work? Who pays them? Do they have a union?

Something else to ponder, in the mean time, I will avoid looking down.

 

Choose Peace

Occasionally I like to rework a painting when I feel it did not quite convey the message that inspired it.


This is one of those paintings. My intent was to illustrate the message to not fear what at times, appears as “darkness” but to realize, as I am trying to understand, that the darkness is only the truth that has yet to be brought to light.
I reflect upon each time I have chosen peace over conflict, or peace instead of an immediate reaction.  Ultimately the moment always passes, and I am glad that I did not react and escalate the drama, or the misunderstanding and lack of the whole truth in the moment, and remained true to myself. This saves me from later regret and embarrassment.

Two quotes are among the inspirations for this painting.

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” ~ The Dalai Lama
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
— Peace Out

 

SO, What’s the Plan?

While the politicians bicker, “We the People” will just need to get on with it, and save the planet.

Detail of fish, “SO, What’s the Plan?” painting.

….and yes, We can. The inspiration for the painting “SO, What’s the Plan?” is exactly the question that I ask about my own contribution to the plan.

Maybe an important step might be to first check around the playground of our own thoughts for any “slackers” named Ida Know, Who Mee, and Two Bizzy. Those are the thoughts that are waiting for someone else to solve the problem. Oh, and try not to get lost in there, stick to the center lane, possibly leave a note behind letting others know where you’ve gone. Once you’ve located the slackers, promptly put them, and all of their backup singers/friends/groupies in the recycling bin.

Detail of Turtle, “SO What’s the Plan?” painting.

While painting, I continued to research and update myself to “The Plan”. I can’t fix it, but I can be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

I don’t have to be scientist, even Dr. Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin had neither the resources nor the chemistry background to develop his discovery. But he kept focused on it, writing about it, and then with help, it all came together. The real Story behind Penicillin

Thousands of devoted people and organisations have great information, and Google will hold the flash-lite while you search. “Just give me a list”, is my first mantra, so I decided to research products that cause harm to marine life, and not purchase them, and  10 Easy ways to protect the Ocean 365 days a year.

I can also create a painting that asks, “SO, What’s the Plan?” I can put my attention on the solution, and not how horrible the problem is. I can pay attention to legislation, and to my vote. I can phone up the creator of this planet and ask for the all of the solutions to arrive. I don’t ask for it to be “fixed”, that wouldn’t work, we would just mess it up again, we need to decide, we need to change, we need to quit waiting for someone else to fix it.  It most likely will not be the bickering politicians. If you don’t already have a plan,  just please…….make one. Thank you.

 

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