Painting – The One That Got Away…

Prints available here.

 I give myself creative challenges, and I never make it easy. Isn’t that what best friends are for?

Challenge; paint something bright, colourful, with very little detail, (ahhh!) and action filled. Okay, I love action. Think “Matrix” moment, when all the action becomes still and it’s a super slow motion sequence. Therefore, we have the colourful Kingfisher exploding out of the water with his catch…..but yikes!
Not quite.

I began with a simple background that reflected only colour and texture. This was already challenging for me, where are the trunks of the trees? The detail on every little leaf?  Walk away…..breathe.

I imagined the foliage along a river or lake, with bright irises, and dabbed these colours in a crosshatched fashion.

Here came the difficult part of the challenge to myself; trying to use very little detail. I am a detail-aholic. It’s been 17 hours since I last painted any detail, and that’s only because I have been transcribing a really interesting manuscript. This painting is my attempt at detoxing and finding a balance. Anyhow, I can’t help myself from getting deep into a painting like its a moment in creation itself. My desire to make it look so real that it could come alive and fly out the door can be very determined. Deep breaths. For this painting I was determined to forgo detail cold-turkey. I focused on loose strokes, and the only detail allowed would be the kingfishers eye and long, strong beak. Only that.

Adding the water was next. By the way, kingfishers have excellent depth perception, and a protective membrane that covers their eyes as they dive into the water to spear their catch. Again and loosely, I sloshed on what I imagined as the exotic background water, and added a big splash as the kingfisher surfaces from its underwater dive. But…..where’s the fun? What is the point of this image? I thought of the kingfisher capturing his prey, all puffed up and confident nailing fish number 35 of the day, and then what should happen? The little fish wriggles out of the kingfishers grasp and sails back into fishy freedom! Now you see, I have been playing a lot of chess by text recently, so that fact… just might have something to do with the “escape desire” in my creative process, (I keep getting completely thrashed)!

After painting a non-detailed fish, yay to our escapee! (think Papillon), I added some glazing to deepen the darks, and tone down the white of the splashes. The brightest whites needed to stay on the kingfisher.

I did it, I painted loosely and only added a small amount of detail. My youngest son said it looked very detailed……I told him to text me his next chess move.

If you have made it this far, thank you for joining me on this journey!

Painting – “Gently, gently…

 

..and oh, so carefully.”

The tag-line of my website is; “Living and learning through the creative mind.”

And this painting taught me a lot about life this week.

 I learn a great deal about life through the process of painting, and the many hours of observation and listening while I work. I believe it is the same for pursuing any endeavor. Living life is certainly a big job, and life is something we all have in common on a daily basis.

Over the past few years I have come to realize that if I get out of the way and pay attention, the painting will paint itself. That’s the challenge. Each painting is an opportunity to experience when I don’t do this as well.

As in life, my job is to listen and not “be” the creator or a bull in the china shop, so to speak. Not so easy to do. Life truly does have a plan in every moment, and it is always a good one, if I am not desperately seeking fulfillment out of doubt.

This requires the courage to trust my inner most self, not the self with its hair on fire. Doubt is always my first trip and fall. Trying to be the creator or “the boss” never works for me, it is unfulfilling and the results are always pretty bad. In life we tend to want to know the outcome before we begin, don’t we? Before we take any risk at all. If we don’t know the outcome we tend to force an outcome, or play “lets pretend.” When the outcome doesn’t match our fantasy, we feel defeated, or blame others.

Back to the painting. This painting is my second attempt, okay, it’s my third. The first is so embarrassing, it would hurt your eyes.

When I began all over for the third time, all I knew was that I was painting an elderly hand, and the lighting was vital. Once this was completed I was right on the edge of moving in and “making up” a background, but I stepped away and took a walk. On my walk, I saw this image on the porch; (yep, that’s my left foot in the bottom right).

This was my inspiration for the background design. Yea! I also knew a bird would be resting on her fingers, and once this part of the painting was done it still felt too uncompleted. Again, I walked away. Keep in mind, this painting took me 5 days to paint. Then I walked back and looked at it again, and again, like checking on a sleeping baby, listening for the next step. While cleaning, the idea for the second bird in the palm came to me. It appears to be quite natural now, but I had to wait for it. The three extra stems in the middle ground arrived next, and then nothing. I began to doubt, wanted to throw in huge splashes of bright colour and almost ruined it. Again, “Gently, gently…” came into my mind for this painting, and as a new life mantra.

Gentleness requires a great deal of strength … and courage.

A friend sent me this message describing the painting; “I am caught by the emotion. The beautiful juxtaposition of the brightly colored birds, so precise against her lovely translucent skin. It is really moving, capturing life, old and new, beginnings and endings, always cyclical.” – Thank you dear friend.

That was my experience of participating in this painting.  Life is a juxtaposition of collaboration or control. In collaboration, we all win.

 and thank you for reading.

4″ x 6″ Mini Print here.

 

 

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

Illustrated Quote

Wonder-

A feeling of surprise
mingled with admiration,
caused by something beautiful,
unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.

-Webster’s Dictionary.

I was thinking about “a sense of wonder” as I painted this little bird.

I have decided it is something intrinsic to human nature, happiness and wisdom.

Could we long for the sensation of wonder, yet become too focused on time?  Now the word “drudgery mentality” comes to mind. Wonder only requires only a few seconds, and lifts my heart for hours.

Could wonder be something we allow to arrive, keep as a constant possibility, a sensitivity to, anticipate and embrace without prejudice? Without wonder, I begin to miss the magic contained in the many moments of each day.

Wonder is the heartbeat of thoughtful joy. Without wonder, we could become despondent and depressed.

We can not buy “a sense of wonder.”

Therefore, wonder may just be a conscious choice, a state of mind ready for the miraculous. Choose moments of wonder today. Find wonder in the ordinary. The smell of a lemon, the light on the pavement, the beat of your own heart…….so many choices.

…and have fun.

– Thank you.

 

Painting – Departures & Arrivals

Thank you for everything 2019.

Welcome in, Opportunities of 2020!

In this painting, the past year is symbolized by the Crow. As he exits, we can reflect upon a year of experiences, both personal and shared collectively, that were meant to bring transformation, wisdom, grace and truth. The image of the departing crow is a symbol of learned wisdom gathered throughout the past year. He has completed his job.

The New Year arriving is represented by the Titmouse. The titmouse is a symbol of love, faith, hope and honor. All of our daily experiences are opportunities to see beyond the form, beyond how a situation appears and our personal judgements. Beyond the form is the essence, and in that essence is the truth, a gift of wisdom and grace, and the best of who you truly are, will respond with honor.

New Years Eve Tradition

Every year by habit, I find myself thoroughly cleaning my home the day before New Years Eve. The Christmas decorations are put away and everything receives a good scrub. At the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve I open the back door and thank the previous year for all of its blessings, and each experience to learn as an individual and as part of the greater whole. Then, I open the front door, and welcome in the New Year and all of the opportunities it will bring.

I am not sure where I learned this tradition, it just seems to have always been there. It may be an Irish custom? Begin the New Year with a clean home, gratitude for the past year, and a warm welcome for the gifts and opportunities for the next!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.

– 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.

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.

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.

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