Let the Light In

Christmascandle2012

My Christmas cards this year are a little different.  Historically, I have painted white birches to reflect our street address. In fact, I had them painted early in the season. However, the painting, was flat.  It felt lifeless and tired. So I let it settle trying to decide if I should give it another go.

Christmas preparation went on, and the cards loomed large on the procrastination list. Commissions took precedence and my creative mind and hands were busy. Until the fresh arrangement arrived in my home. It’s life and sparkle called to me. Most of my painting time had been spent controlled and accurate.  This arrangement cried to be painted spontaneously.  A small piece of paper, my brushes, my palette, sitting at he breakfast counter, I painted directly from life. No sketching, no planning, no thought other than to capture the charm of this beautiful, traditional arrangement that so represented the holiday spirit to me.

Then the tragedy that was Sandy Hook happened, and I, along with the world wept. My little (only 6″ x 6″) painting took on more importance to me. It reminded me of the small lives lost, it begged the light to be kept alive. For me, for them, for the world.

I struggled with whether to use it as my Christmas card image as it broke with tradition. Change. Not many people are comfortable with it. I’ve always felt it keeps things fresh.

No one will ever positively answer the definitive “why” of Newtown, Connecticut. No one will come up with the perfect solution on how to keep it from happening again. But it’s certain that if something doesn’t change, these tragedies will continue.

For many this is the most joyous of seasons. No one can imagine this Christmas for any of those poor families. Everyday for the rest of their lives they will live with a piece of their heart violently torn out. So, in their memory, I’m going to ask myself and you: Can you change?

For all those souls lost, can you take a moment during this holiday season to see if you can let go of petty anger, grudges, and perceived wrong doing. Can you give someone a break? Let it go? (What do you win when you’re proven right? Satisfaction?  Or do you win the loss of a friend or family member?) Can you forgive someone (even yourself)? Can you try to make a difference in our world by behaving differently?

It’s my goal this season to let the light in. I hope you can join me.

Simple – Good or Bad?

Watercolor 10" x 7" $50.00
Watercolor 10″ x 7″ $50.00

At a recent holiday party held by a dear friend, she introduced me as an artist.  When asked my medium and specialty, I also added that I used the KISS approach to my paintings.  My friend gasped and added that my art was anything but simple.

To me simple is indicated by my limited palette, allowing my paint to mix on the paper. The use of as few brush strokes as possible on a wet-into-wet surface.  My planning ahead of time.  My intimate familiarity with those luscious, four colors.  My sure, expressive brush strokes.  I believe this approach has allowed my love of life, and all things beautiful to shine through into my subject.  And so I explained to the new souls who entered my life, and to this sweet soul who has known me for so long.

My friend’s perception of simple was childish art. She felt I was doing myself a disservice by describing my work using that word.  It had never occurred to me someone could take it as a negative.  It had never occurred to her that it could be positive.

In this season of excess, I’ve been acutely aware of simple joys.  We have downsized our holiday decorations.  Those retained shine as the centerpiece of our home.  Our gifts this year are simple and will contain memories, versus stuff.  And from where I sit in my life, simple is a joy itself, a very good thing.

Whether simple connotes good or bad in your perception, I hope you might take just a minute out of your busy holiday schedules to ponder how we all see things so very differently.