Memorial Day

Bombproof

My grandfather, my father, four of my uncles, my husband, both my brothers-in–law, and my stepson. All have served our country. All returned safety home.

For those who did not, I give my eternal blessings and prayers to you and your family for your sacrifice.

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Face It!

Strathmore Drawing workshop

Drawing people, yuck. In fact, I even tell my students. I don’t like to draw people, it’s not my strong point, and it’s difficult. Or have I been convincing myself all these years?

When Strathmore Artist Paper’s second free online class opened up, the artist Stephen Cefalo’s portraits on toned paper completely blew me away. When the email messages arrived telling me the class was now open, I ignored them. Robert Joyner’s first class had been so amazingly fun, I’d already learned so much.

But my frugality got the best of me. Free course, given by an amazing artist. Even if I didn’t participate, I could watch the tutorials. And, I could always check the artwork from those who had risen to the challenge. No matter how much you try not to compare yourself, the curiosity factor always wins.

Nearly skipped the first tutorial explaining shadow and light. I at least knew that much. But I perservered. Within the first two minutes, I’d learned something new. He holds his pencil on the end, and thinks of his arm as a machine. I was hooked. To someone who has classic training, this might be old hat, but to this self-taught artist who had to rely on her natural abilities, this was eye-opening.

While away for a few days, I tried the new knowledge in my beloved sketchbook. Very challenging to control the pencil. Very counter-intuitive to find my line. But I managed a few sketches, one of which I really liked. Soft, and full of movement.

Purchasing some toned paper, the second tutorial loomed. An interesting man for my first subject. I breathed a sigh of relief that the subject was looking straight at us. But still a portrait. Lots of erasing and refiguring. Reminding me of the truth of my gift of an erasure to every new student with the statement “It’s the best teacher you’ll ever have.” And holding the pencil on the end presented a whole new set of troubles.

Difficult – check. Hard – check. Not my strongest drawing skill – check. But, let’s face it. . .I really did enjoy the project. My friend Charlotte is totally reinventing herself and cataloguing it in her blog 2013, Believe and Make It So.. Yesterday, I believe I reinvented my beliefs about portraits.

It may not be the most accurate portrait that’s ever been drawn, but frankly, it’s probably one of the most interesting sketches I’ve done. Not wanting to violate anyone’s copyright, I’ve not posted the reference photo, but it is on Strathmore’s website. And I strongly encourage any artist reading this blog to sign up for these classes that can be completed on your own timeframe.

What challenges do you need to face today? Trusting the outcome is enlightening.

“Learnin” on Mother’s Day

Learnin

 

The homework assignment for my class last week was to make a thank you card for your mother.  Simple, uncomplicated, even a word, a thought.  Just something for which you felt you hadn’t thanked your Mom.  And if you weren’t quite sure what to do, just ask your Mom.  She’d surely tell you what to do.  As, for the most part, we all had Mom’s who had passed,  we all shed some tears considering our assignment .

On this day, we can’t help but remember our Moms.  After my mother’s stroke and extended hospital stay, she landed in a nursing home, unable to speak much, or take care of herself.  Through my father’s love and support, her strength and determination, and miracles that occur daily, she left the nursing home after about 8 months and cooked us Thanksgiving dinner.

When she passed I found myself unable to draw.  It was the weirdest thing.  Drawing is a part of who I am.  As I sat on the back porch trying to find my new self without a mother, I attempted to draw the birdbath.  There was an unbelievable inability to make the pencil do what I knew it could.  Had my creativity gone with her?  Dumbfounded, grief had taken a toll I’d never expected.

It was several months before I started “Learnin”. Until I was searching for a title, I didn’t realize I’d chosen a mare and her foal.  I was so grateful to have gotten back “on the horse” and my leather paintings would completely take over my days, eating up time. They often took between 80 and 100 hours to complete.  A type of meditation.  Those who know me personally, know that patience is not my main strength.

And, while I thought I never thanked my Mom for my creativity, there’s a little voice straight from my heart this morning telling me I really did say thank you.  And it’s repeated every time I pick up my paintbrush.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Metamorphosis

Butterfly donation

Softer than my usual work, this painting is on it’s way to a victim of the Boston Bombing. Spearheaded by Dotti Muccilli of Healing Art Works   has requested donated 5″ x 5″ paintings of butterflies. Lovely symbolism.

Learning of the project late, I rushed to do my part. Art has always healed my soul, and having a husband who has worked in healthcare for the last 20 years, this project felt like a good fit.

Found my reference photo on Paint My Photo  a great copyright- free site for photos for artists, and headed off from there.

Remembering my sadness, fear and the tragedy of that day as I sat glued to the news, I started in on this small painting. My sympathy for those locked in their homes while police scoured their neighborhood, with guns drawn was as fresh as it was yesterday.  My incredulous wonder of the reason for such violence.  Any wonder the painting looked dark.

Grabbing my india ink, I tried to lighten the flowers, by outlining, cajoling, and brightening. It just resembled little pieces flying around to ruin lives. I tried lifting paint, darkening the butterfly. Nothing seemed to help. The deadline to get it in the mail was fast approaching. So I did what I’ve learned to do. I listened. I stopped.

Whatever occurred during the break wasn’t noteworthy. Returning to the studio, I brought out the tried and true. Turn on the radio, light the candle. Stand in front of my “alter” (i.e.desk) and ask Spirit: “Please guide my heart, my head and my hands.”

Starting back in I recalled the selfless….the emergency workers, the strangers, the doctors, the nurses. I have seen people overcome overwhelming tragedy. I have witnessed miracles. Emerging gradually, softly and with great love, I painted. Because of my faith, I know my butterfly will find the victim that needs it most.

As for the first painting, the butterfly and flowers will be cut out – repurposed into a card or collage. Creating this ethereal painting has also allowed me to process those events in a different light.  Helping my soul to remember the good.

Trusting the victim who receives my butterfly may be able to land softly on some healing of their own.

Good and Plenty

orangeflowers

My first solo show is over. Nine of the 33 paintings have found their “forever walls”. Two other paintings have been sold through social networking. Today I delivered a commission. Four others wait in line. All five paintings entered into juried shows were accepted, and twelve paintings will be headed to the local Library to hang for two months on Thursday.

Those of you who follow my blog, must have thought I’d hit a dry spell….at least for writing.

It is the problem of plenty.

Nearly a year has passed since I resigned from my regular paying job. My business goals have not yet fully been met. This morning, as I stopped to watch the Carolina Wrens building a nest in the potbellied stove in our yard, I was startled to realize, I no longer know when I am working or playing. Swirled into one, this life has become one joyous creative process. I am grateful. I am living a song of painting, teaching, encouraging, stretching and gathering inspiration. You won’t be surprised to see the wrens in a future painting.

And yes, there is the mundane: paperwork, tags to be made, receipts to be recorded, bills to be paid, filing.

But it can be done between the plenty. And that is very good indeed.

Have you found the good and plenty in your life?