Thursday, September 19, 2013
I started this project at the beginning of summer. It was one of those paintings that the idea came to me instantly and therefore you think it is just going to practically paint itself. It was very clear in my mind the idea that I wanted to convey - a sunflower being blown back and forth in a strong wind. But when the first few layers were laid down, the painting just didn't seem to be falling together as I had seen it in my mind. It was a frustrating experience that caused me to lay it aside for over a month. every time I walked by it I was dissatisfied with it.
Other things seemed to occupy my time and mind this summer. It has been a summer filled with lots of change and struggle and turmoil. The thoughts that filled my days this summer consisted of questions like ' What do you do when life throws you a curve ball you weren't expecting?' and ' When life leads you down an unexpected road, one I would probably have preferred not to have gone down, do I still hold on to the beliefs that have in the past been rock solid? Or do I throw in the towel and say I give up, what's the use?'. This has been for me, and my family, a summer of turmoil.
It was in the middle of all of these questions and struggles that two things happened. One I stepped back into my little art studio and stood before this painting that had given me earlier grief. I looked at it for a good three days and realized that the idea for the sunflower being battered and tossed around by the wind felt very much like the summer I was having. I have seen lots of sunflowers that took a hit in a storm and ended up face down, uprooted. But some, even though they bend over under the pressure of the wind, the stalk threatening to break, can afterwards be carefully lifted off the ground and made to stand tall again. I think the difference is how deep the roots of the plant run.
The second thing that happened in the midst of all this was that I ran across a scripture that sunk in deeply into my heart. Isaiah 48:10 "Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction." Ever felt like your camping in the furnace of affliction? But the refiner has a purpose for it all - to purify the metal until only the purest gold shines through.
So it was, still feeling the heat of affliction and emotionally battered by unexpected winds that sometimes blow through our lives, I picked up the brush and began to paint. There was no longer any struggle to convey that idea I had had months ago, it really did seem to paint itself. And with each layer of paint, I marveled at how the gold shone more and more brilliantly on the petals.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Here is part two of my Memorial Day weekend painting marathon, that I finished up today. I used my daughter, Sophia, as the model for the body position, and the hair. But I wasn't really trying to do a portrait of her, per say. I was more going for the idea of childhood summer.
We live out in the semi- country on a two acre lot. As summer has been approaching I have been waxing sentimental, thinking back over my older kids, and now five year old Sophia, and what summers in the country will be remembered as when they all look back. I have very vivid pictures in my mind of little feet, ankle deep in the pond trying to catch frogs, and lots of attempts to catch fireflies at dusk. But this particular scene is in my mind not only from when my older girls were little, but now repeated with Sophie: little girls sitting in the middle of the garden or even the amongst the wild grasses and flowers, sweaty and hair all wild. You call their name and they turn for just a second and you catch that beautiful, innocent child look. Love it.
Monday, May 27, 2013
I had a chance this weekend to do a lot of painting, which means I got very far on one project (pictures to post very soon) and was able to finish up this one that I have been working on for the past few weeks. This little guy is the grandson of some super nice people who, although we don't know them well, they have been so kind and important in the life of one of our kids. For that reason, they are very special to us. In this crazy world of FB, I happened to notice one day a photo the grandma posted of this guy. Honestly, he is truly one of the cutest toddlers that I have ever seen. Now for those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time, you will know that while florals are my main inspiration, I am close to obsessed with learning portraits. I acknowledge that I am a novice at best at doing them, but I so want to get better! Sometimes I will just see a face that I absolutely need to paint. This was one of them.
This woman was so nice when she received a message from me (she may have thought I was a little crazy, but she didn't even let on if that was her thinking!), asking if I could paint a picture of this little guy that I have never even met.
Slowly, I have been adding layers, using some if the same glazing techniques that I use with my flowers. It is time consuming, but so worth it. I would estimate that there are about twelve to fifteen layers in his skin tones. But I am really happy with the luminous results you get from it.
As I was painting, studying his cute little features - the pudgy cheeks, the turned up nose, the beautiful dark ring of blue around his eyes, I kept thinking of the verse from Psalm 139 - "I am Fearfully and wonderfully made...". I know we are living in a post modern world that tends to scoff at the simplistic idea of creationism. But honestly, when I think about the complicated and yet subtle curves and shapes of this tiny face - I can't help but be struck with the thought that this was not by some cosmic accident. This was the well planned hand of a designer that knows His craft. When you are painting a face you paint and repaint a feature, changing it with such subtlety - a little more arch of the eye lid here - but not too much or the whole eye changes to someone elses', a little more dip in the corner of the mouth, a little more shade to the crease under the eye - oh, that is too much, try it again. And all that only gives you (or at least me, the novice) a small glimpse of what that person really looks like. We truly are made individuals, crafted with such love and respect and oh, so wonderfully.
And if the God of the Universe, took such time and care to make this beautiful little face so uniquely his - it only makes sense that this same God has crafted out a beautiful, unique life for this little boy - with His special plans for only this little guy to walk out. And if true for this little guy, true for all of us.
Wow. Big thoughts that leave me in awe.
Friday, May 17, 2013
It has been way too long since I last posted anything on this blog. This is partially because, well, life tends to get in the way sometimes of things like painting. But also, over the past two months I have been in the gradual process of moving my art "studio" (i.e. the corner of our family office in which I paint) into our basement. This process has made it difficult to do simple tasks like taking pictures of my work on a regular basis and get it posted online! But I have been busy at work on various projects and will try an be more consistent about posting.
One thing I have been doing is getting ready for an art show that has become an annual event for the Creative Artists of Cedar Rapids. the show is called "Repeat, Repeat, Repeat". Some of you may recall when I spoke of this show in the past. The gist of it is that approximately 35 artists are all given the same photograph and are asked to paint their interpretation of it. This may seem like the makings of a boring show, but it is anything but. It is always amazing to see thirty five extremely different paintings at the show. Below is the advertisement for the show, with the original photo that we all painted.
The show took place last night and was a lot of fun with a terrific turn out. There were lots of amazing pieces in different mediums and styles.
For me this was lots of fun to prepare for - but also extremely challenging. The subject matter was not one I would normally choose to paint. At first, it felt dark and I wasn't sure I wanted to "dwell" in a graveyard for the month or so that I would be working on the piece. I let some ideas float around in my head for a while. When I thought about death, two thing stood out to me the most. First, there was the scripture in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 "we don't mourn as those who have no hope..." Although death on the one hand is such a sad thing, on the other hand, for those who have given their lives to the Lord, and know the power of forgiveness given them by what Jesus did on the cross, death isn't the end, its only the beginning of life in Heaven! So there is mourning for those friends and family who remain, but not the kind of hopeless mourning that says we will never see them again. There is the hope that we will see them again in Heaven. Secondly, I kept thinking of the phrase "not here". I looked at the photo with the gravestones and thought - someday my body will lay under a grave stone too, but not my soul. I won't really be there - just what remains of me.
It was with these thoughts that I painted my interpretation of the photo. Again, not something I would typically paint, but it ended up being inspiring to think about the hope that I do have, as I painted this project.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Pardon the glare on this photo, but here is a glance at what I have been up to.... I worked last weekend on a little study of my daughter, Sophia. I had snapped some photos of her about a year ago and had been saving them for a project I have in mind.
The day of the photos she had been playing dress up all day (which pretty much sums up her daily existence), and had taken a break to sit down and watch cartoons. Still wearing her little dress up crown, she was mesmerized by the latest adventure of "Max and Ruby". I love the photo and will hopefully get to the bigger project involving it soon. But this was a quick weekend study to help get me ready.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Some of you who check into my blog or Facebook page every so often to see what the "flower of the hour" is that I am painting, might be thinking right about now that you have gotten onto the wrong blog. My subject matter this week is not what you probably expect from me - although I did manage to get some flowers in there - ha! Not to worry, I am not entering a mid life goth period in which I am suddenly fascinated with death. But you might see a few more tombstones pop up on my site over the next few months. Let me explain.
I belong to an incredible group of artists in the Cedar Rapids area called Creative Artists. One of the awesome things we do is to hold an annual show called "Repeat, Repeat, Repeat", in which we are all given a black and white 8 1/2x11 photo and are given the opportunity to interpret it in our own way, in our own medium. It is a fantastic show with approximately thirty very different interpretations of the same subject.
This year the photo is of a graveyard. At first I wasn't quite sure how I felt about that. Not really my cup of tea, if you will. But then I started mulling over some ideas of how I would interpret it. I firmly believe every artist paints from their own unique perspective on the world. I am trying to take this topic, that I would usually not be inclined to paint, and apply my perspective on it. The show will be in May - more details on that as the time gets closer, for those of you living in my area. Until then I will be doing quite a few of these small studies to get ready for the final painting.
I would love to hear from some of my readers - when you see this subject in a painting, what is a phrase that comes to your mind, or even better yet, a title? Email me or leave a comment. Looking forward to hearing your input.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Here is another little study I did with Hydrangeas. I am well on my way to overcoming my fear of painting this tricky little flower. I really liked the color scheme for this one...it just might end up hanging in my light blue bedroom.
For those of you in the Cedar Rapids area, I have a couple of paintings hanging at the Lowes Art Center in Marion, along with about twenty other artists from the Creative Artists of Cedar Rapids. It is going to be a great show that runs from February 9th through March 30th.