"God's art [Creation] speaks of Himself, reflecting who He is and what He is like."
Francis Chan

Friday, July 11, 2014

Veins of Life



         For those of you who don't know, I am an Iowa girl, born and raised.  I make no bones about it, I am completely prejudiced when it comes to my love of Iowa - I see no other state that can compare.  Yes, I know it is humid here - I have come to terms with the fact that for about three and a half months out of the year we will need to make various outfit changes per day because of the problem of sweaty clothes.

          But I can't help it, every time I travel away and then return home, as soon as I pass over the state lines I am amazed all over again at the beauty of the state I call home.  No, we don't have oceans, or even mountains.  Ahh, but Iowa has miles and miles of lush green rolling hills of corn.  And, of course, Iowa wouldn't be Iowa without our corn.  And amongst all those beautiful fields awaiting harvest, are the creeks and rivers that bring life to quench the thirsty ground.

        These are where my thoughts have taken  me lately.  Kind of strange, I know.  But one other thing we have in Iowa (or I should say, had) is Grant Wood.  Much of his amazing art was created about twenty miles from my front door.  Of course that art in it's unique style, is full of the scenes that I was just talking about.  Grant Wood was an Iowa boy who appreciated the beauty of this special place too!   Lately I have been thinking about his lush paintings with the rolling hills and rivers.

     This painting is my ode to him.  I don't usually do landscapes - not really my thing.  But when I sat before the white canvas this time, I envisioned the landscape of a flower (obviously my thing!).  I tried to convey the flower as a landscape with rolling hills and valleys full of lush beauty.  And of course I wanted to convey the veins that bring the very life to each petal.  Without those veins bringing water to quench a thirsty plant, the petals shrivel up and die.

    If you ever get a chance, I encourage you to visit Iowa in the summer.   Note: bring lots of changes of clothes - the humidity isn't just a rumor.  There is something about those lush green, rolling hills and rivers  that words, or even pictures could never begin to capture.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

One Last Project with My Dad

This has been a project a long time in the making- two years to be exact.  Some of you may remember the two commission pieces that I completed for my dad after his sudden death in 2012.  This painting was another of his that he had started and hadn't gotten a chance to complete. This one was a little different in that it was going to go to a family member, my sweet niece, Serena.  Like so many of those it's-for-family-so-I-will-get-to-it-sooner-or-later projects, this one has sat on a shelf for two years.  Poor Serena!  I am sure she has thought that her aunt has completely forgotten about her promise to finish it.  But since Serena and her family are visiting my neck of the woods soon, I figured I had better get a move on!
As with the other projects, this was such a neat experience to get to learn from each of my father's brush strokes and color choices.  The painting was about half done when I started, and was closer to my subject matter than the other two paintings done in 2012.  So it is probably, of the three projects, the best "collaboration" between my dad and I.  He loved painting birds, and had a unique style in portraying them that was really his own.  But I got to make a lot of color decisions - so bold color it is!  For instance, the red flowers were, I believe, originally going to be leaves of some sort.  But I felt like the bold flowers were in need.  Hopefully he would have been okay that choice.
  I again, signed both of our names to the bottom.  It has been a while since I have had to forge my dad's name to write a note to the teacher to get out of school, but I don't think I did too bad if I do say so myself.  Ha!  I chose to put two dates on it - 2012 for the year he completed his part in it, 2014 for the year I finished it.  I like to think he would have been happy the end result.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Under the Shadow of Your Wings

 
                     I have been working on this little study off and on for the past couple of weeks.  Today the wind chill in Iowa is -30 something degrees, so it was the perfect day to stay tucked inside and finish this one up!
                     I was thinking a few months back about the beautiful scripture
 in Psalm 91 -
 
                                     "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
                                        Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
                                         I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
                                         My God, in whom I trust!”...
                                         ... He will cover you with His pinions,
                                         And under His wings you may seek refuge; "
                                                                                         Psalm 91 :1-3
                 
                      I have always loved these verses and the word picture of God being like a bird with it's young, covering them with protective wings.  I am always comforted with this thought.
                      My goal is to do a larger project with this theme in mind. To prepare for that I searched through books and on line for reference photos.  This study is based on a photo I found online.  Unfortunately I have no idea who the photographer was, in order to give credit to them.  But it certainly matched the idea of what I picture when I think of Psalm 91.
                      I will keep you all posted on the future project.  Until then - think warm thoughts and hope for spring to come soon!
             


Thursday, January 2, 2014

"Sunburst"



        Happy New year to everyone!  I am trying to start the new year off right, by completing a painting.  2013 was a year of rest of sorts:  I painted less (not by choice, mostly due to schedule restraints), and sat out of the usual art sales/festivals that I would normally be involved in.  I spent a lot of time focusing on family - something that I never will have regrets about!  One thing I really enjoyed this year was doing a lot of painting give aways.  Because I wasn't as involved in art sales I noticed the stack of paintings in my home were getting a little out of control.  I made a conscious
decision to make 2013 a year to give.  I loved it!  I got to give paintings to friends and family and to three or four auctions and benefits to help raise money for people in my community and communities around me who were struggling with health issues and medical expenses.  There is nothing that makes you happier than to give.
     So, here we are in 2014 and I had the pleasure of finishing up this project that I have been working on for the past month or so.  This 4ft. x3ft. oil was a unique project because it was part of "collaboration"  of sorts.  In the nearby city there is a high school student who is a very talented film maker.  For a senior project he has been working on making a film to visually describe a musical composition done by the orchestra conductor of his high school.  He said when he heard the music he immediately pictured artists painting.  He spent several months filming myself and five other local artists working on various paintings.  He will then put it all together to be shown along with the orchestra performing the piece.  I just love it when various creativities work together!
    This painting is titled "Starburst"  and is for sale.  Please contact me by leaving a comment below for further information.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Turmoil



    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

"Wildflower"

  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

"Fearfully and Wonderfully Made"


       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.







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