A Hot Mess

Northern Cardinal 5" x 7" Acrylic on Paper -Private Collection.
Northern Cardinal 5″ x 7″ Acrylic on Paper -Private Collection.

 

Lately I’ve been using that phrase a lot  Borrowed from a friend, it seems appropriate for the place I’ve been while preparing for my first solo show.  Paintings all over the house, measuring, labeling, framing, painting, and just general chaos have pretty much taken over.  It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s all good, but it is definitely not my normal, peaceful, go with the flow energy.

Guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I woke with a fever, runny nose and sneezing all over the place on the weekend. Ah, a reminder of the power of words. A spring cold is definitely a hot mess.

The Hummingbirds have Returned!

Three Hummingbirds - Acrylic, ink, watercolor pencil on paper, 11" x 15" $200
Three Hummingbirds – Acrylic, ink, watercolor pencil on paper, 11″ x 15″ $200

Spring hasn’t quite set it’s sights on us here in New Jersey,  even if the calendar says it has arrived.  It remains cold and dreary.  The few daffodils who have bravely poked their heads out, seem lost in the grey of a lingering winter.  Chipmunks have emerged, (though I thought I saw one with a scarf around his neck) so I’m hopeful. But we’ve yet to experience that glorious first warm day where the garden beckons.

OK.  Enough of that.  I am an artist.  My gift is to MAKE.  I just made it a real Spring day.

And in my world, the hummers have returned.  Welcome back!

What will you make today?

Two Hummingbirds - Acrylic, ink, watercolor pencil on paper 8 1/2" x 11 1/2"  $150
Two Hummingbirds – Acrylic, ink, watercolor pencil on paper 8 1/2″ x 11 1/2″ $150

Softening Hard Edges

Watercolor 10 1/2 x 13 1/2 $100
Watercolor 10 1/2 x 13 1/2 $100

One of our local elementary schools has an Art Week every year. Local artists are invited to hang several pieces in the lovely wide hallway of this school.  Students then select their favorite and do drawings based on that piece of art.  And, like any art show, a reception is held where parents, students and artists can mingle and interact.  Kudos to all involved.  It’s a lot of work by administration, students, volunteers and teachers.  Walking down that hallway filled with paintings and inspired student artwork is well worth the effort.

This year, during the reception, I did a demonstration painting.  Not the easiest thing to do when you paint wet-into-wet, and start fielding questions.  You really don’t want your paper to dry too much, or you can start getting hard edges, which takes away from the softness of the painting style.

But the students and their parents were so full of questions and comments, that I started asking for their input.  They chose which flowers were going to be orange, they helped me pick which colors to mix to get the color I wanted. They made suggestions for improvements.  They would leave, come back and ask why it wasn’t done yet.   They would ask in awe “Are you an artist?  Did you just paint that?”  Adults would tell me stories about family members who painted, or still paint.  My question was always the same:  “Do you paint or draw?”  The answer was usually that life had gotten in the way.  Encouragement to pick up a pencil was my advice.  One delightful student told me I should sell my painting for a million dollars.  Another confident soul told me she was going to be a famous artist.

Once again, my art has connected me to people with whom I would never get to talk.  It thrills my bones.

This painting may have more hard edges than I usually like (Look at the edges of the tops of the tulips compared to the edges of the leaves and vase.)  But, in my mind, they are softened by the memory of how much fun I had.  Thank you Chairville School in Medford, NJ.  It was my pleasure.

Workshops

Watercolor 9" x 12" $150.00
Watercolor 9″ x 12″ $150.00

Almost Spring….oh so good.  Workshops have been the theme for the month.  Unlike any work I’ve done before.

Recently taught a fun beginner drawing workshop.  After my workshop (which contained a few surprises), there were six more people (o.k. a few were ringers) who had drawn the watering can set in front of them.  Always a good feeling.

My longtime group of students and I are working on a collage. That inspired some new paintings with a collage feel.  The above watercolor is my second along those lines.  Liking the textures and freedom to add whatever I want.  Your thoughts?

And then there’s the Strathmore Artist Papers workshop I’m taking.  Videos by Robert Joyner are fresh, inspiring and exactly the way I like to paint.  But it’s a change up for me, using acrylics, charcoal, artist crayons and ink.  As I didn’t have all of the supplies I needed, I just did with what I had.  I’m addicted.  In the past week, I’ve done at least three paintings that I like.  (And, OK, there were several that have been disasters….but that’s how we learn.)

Acrylic on Paper
Acrylic on Paper
Acrylic binoculars
Acrylic binoculars
Acrylic on Paper
Acrylic on Paper

So seriously, who came up with the name “Workshop”?  More like “Playshop” to me.

In the Eye of the Beholder

Watercolor - private collection.
Watercolor – private collection.

Her story came to me from another Equestrian Sister.  A barn fire, a seriously burned horse and a Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Suki-the-horse-burn-survivor/120459564682653?fref=ts

After liking the page, the daily reports accompanied by photos kept me updated and slowly crept into my heart.  Pictures of wounds, skin grafts, and stories of spa treatments and massages.  The courageous mare and her caring owner.  Not sure I would have been financially or mentally up for the challenges that these two have faced.

One day the photo posted stopped me in my tracks.   That picture might have been up for days or months.  But on this particular day I saw something mighty. Her damaged ears perked in the direction of her interest.  Her intelligent eyes, surrounded by skin reflecting her ordeal.  She looked regal, strong.  Daring anyone to question her beauty.   I felt I had to paint her.

Questioning the knowing when to paint something is pointless.  It will just come back like a bad penny.  Might as well listen and pick up the paintbrush.  I reached out to the remarkable woman who tells her story, invoking our mutual friend and asking for permission to use her photograph in order to paint the mare with the mission.

It was not the easiest of paintings. Suki’s burned skin had a rawness and a beauty.  Not wanting to over emphasize the missing hair, I tried to keep kept my colors harmonious.  But while the hair was missing, there was an exquisite shine in her damaged skin.  I’ve painted numerous horses over my artistic career, but I had to carefully follow the contours of her stunning ears.  No familiar smooth edges here.

Our world sets beauty standards for everything including humans and animals.  Painting Suki was a reminder that all living beings are beautiful.  We just have to have the courage to see through the cover.

Have you noticed the beauty around you today?

As Suki would say, peaceful evening everyone.  Another lesson from my art