If You Love Sunsets, Are You An Opacarophile?

Sunset Dance

I love sunsets. Lots of people love sunsets. We paint them, we photograph them, we sit and watch them. Until recently, I had no idea that there is an actual word associated with this attraction.

Opacarophile. If you break it down into it’s two main parts, here’s what you’ll find: opacare which is Latin meaning dusk or sunset, and phile which is the Greek word for love.

Why the Attraction of Sunsets?

According to Physchology Today, sunsets have a profound mental effect on the brain and this effect often lasts long after the color has faded. That’s one reason the attraction of sunsets is so instilled in humans.

Sunsets affect our mood. Studies have proven it. Sunsets are a wonderful inducer of calm, of taking away stress, of slowing us down. They relax us, they can induce a time of meditation or to not think at all as we just experience the joy of the moment brought on by the view.

“Sunset is a period of rest, renewal and reflection.” — John Suler

An Artist’s View of Sunsets

The time of day when the sun is in it’s last hour in the sky (or it’s first hour at sunrise) is called the “Magic Hour” or “Golden Hour” by artists and photographers. This is the time of day when the light and the colors reflected back to our eyes is at it’s most intense. The sky will be rich with color. “It’s the time of day when ideas and emotions stir inside us.”

Sunset Over the Fields

It’s these rich colors that compel the artist to grab the paint and capture the beauty either as realistic, abstract, or in my case, as a representation. I once read and agree wholeheartedly with the statement that “sunset is one of my favorite colors”. Of course it’s not a color, but a collection of colors, but you get the idea. You never think of one color when someone mentions a sunset, but you sure know what one looks like just by hearing the word.

“Sunset is the most spiritual moment where the human race meets the extraordinary spirit of the universe. — Mehmet M. Ildan

A sunset is truly one of nature’s most magnificent and inspiring works of art. And… they’re always different! Clouds, dust, all those particles of pollution, the time of year, your position on the globe, all of these things affect what we see in those beautiful skies at sunset.

The Science of Sunsets

Ever notice how the most vivid sunsets appear when there are clouds in the sky? The clouds reflect the red and orange hues of the setting sun back to our eyes. On a clear day, you don’t get as much of this reflection.

The colors of the sunset result from a phenomenon called scattering. Molecules and small particles in the atmosphere change the direction of the light rays, causing them to… scatter. (sciencedaily.com)

I could go on and on, but I won’t. The science behind sunsets it huge and not why I’m writing today. But feel free to research it.

Here’s your homework for this week and every week. Go outside, find a nice spot, watch the sun as it sets. Enjoy the moment. Reflect on the good in your life. Relax and thank the sun for lighting your day. And if you are so inclined…. paint it!

Walk This Way: Following Your Path.

Walk This Way

When I was younger, I loved hiking. I actually still do, though my stamina is really crappy now. Anyway…. not the serious gotta have a backpack, camping gear, GPS, bear repellant, etc. kind of hiking. I’m talking about the kind where you just go out and follow a path or two through a state park, local park, or the woods behind your house. There’s something freeing about venturing forth, water in hand, to just explore where the path leads you.

Life is full of paths too.

Following Your Path: Have a Plan

Here’s the thing with me and maybe with you too. I don’t blindly forge ahead. I make sure that the path I want to take is doable. I don’t want to get lost or hurt following it. So I plan… usually. Yes, it’s exciting to step off the path and see “what’s over there”, as long as you keep a firm eye on where you were, so you can get back on it. Lost is not a fun thing to be.

Following Your Path: Keep Moving

Your career, your hobby, your art, your hike in the woods should never be stagnant. Not moving gets you nowhere. Enjoy the stops to rest, explore, enjoy the view…. but keep moving forward. When I look at my artwork from years ago to where I am now, I see all the paths I took to get here. And I see how I kept moving forward. Occasionally, I see where I got off the path, but I managed to get back on it. I didn’t give up getting to where I wanted to go and I’m still exploring as I journey on.

So… follow your path, plan for new ones, take a break if needed, but keep moving.

Happy New Year! Art Resolutions for 2020

If you know me, I don’t make new year resolutions. They irritate me.

Life coaches and others say they are good for you and should be attainable over the year. I say they’re good for about a week or two… they are rarely attainable (because for some weird reason we feel the need for them to be grand and life changing)… and they irritate me.

However, if I were to make some “art” resolutions for 2020 they would most likely be this:

Stop letting details get in the way. I’ve been striving for the past year to be more expressive. Loosening up is hard for me… but I’m getting there. Especially since I started using (almost exclusively) painting knives. Wonderful tools. And if you drop one on your foot… no blood. Just paint. Though you do swear like you’ve been stabbed.

Squint more. I try hard not to squint because it leads to wrinkles. However, as artists know, squinting makes the details go away… which leads to a more loose, expressive painting.

Invest in better wrinkle filling serums and creams. I will be squinting more this year.

Invest in myself as an artist. Late in 2019, I decided to invest more… a lot more… in myself as an artist. If you stop learning, you stop growing. If you stop growing, you’re art will too. Thank goodness for payment plans.

Believe in myself as an artist. If I don’t believe, no one else will either. I AM an artist. I was juried in to a local gallery which was a big deal for me. I will try harder not to let the doubts creep in about my work.

Put myself “out there”. I plan to set up from time to time in public places and paint. Talk more about what I do. Donate artwork to charity events. Use social media more (sorry Facebook friends… you’re probably tired of me already. HA!) Market myself within my local community and beyond. Maybe people won’t remember my art, but hopefully they will remember me. The lady covered in wrinkle cream.

Declutter my creative space. This will be a 2020 resolution that will be a challenge. My creative space is a mess. Maybe if I squint, I won’t see it. Gonna need a lot of cream.

Happy New Year from me to you!

Painting Like a Child

The Fun of Whimsical Painting

I was at the LAST Art Gallery in historic downtown McKinney (TX) today when a customer walked around and mentioned how delighted she was that we had a young child artist’s work on the wall.

Excuse me???

Well, the artwork she was referring to was NOT that of a young child, but was produced by a respected, long-time artist that (as a member pointed out) is just young at heart. Much of this artist’s work is whimsical paintings, drawings, and collages. If she had been there, I’m sure she would have laughed. Because that’s what the intent is. To make you smile or to make you laugh.

Camo Dog

Whimsical Painting is Letting Your Inner Child Come Out to Play

We ALL have an inner child. Some hear it calling and some don’t. I have to admit that I hear mine calling pretty often. Okay, daily. I hear it daily. I also admit that I give in to it. Not so much in public, but definitely at home. And in some of my artwork.

I also have to admit my inner child is quite spoiled from getting it’s way so much. From some of the artwork that I have seen at various art shows… it’s pretty evident that others give in to theirs as well. And the results are often delightful.

Painting Like A Child Isn’t Child’s Play

Whimsical, silly, artwork might sometimes look like a child did it, but in truth, it is quite often done by someone with a practiced eye for composition, color, mark making, and all the other technical stuff…even though they’re bending and blending the rules. It’s also popular. Not everyone wants a serious portrait, landscape, or still life. Some of us still enjoy high fives with our seven year old selves.

I do want to say one more thing.

Artwork of any kind actually done by a child is a precious gem from a treasure chest and I hope you let them know how much you appreciate what they created. Encourage, praise, nurture. You never know… they might grow up, become an artist, and have someone say how delighted they are seeing the “child’s” artwork on display in a gallery somewhere.

Painting Trees: The Tree Amigos

I love trees. I find myself including them more and more in my paintings, which is a real change for me because I never felt good at doing so in the past. However, you know what they say about practice. Thousands of people regularly paint trees so obviously there’s a lot of practice going on. Painting trees is hugely popular with artists. So many interpretations! Trees are also a popular subject with poets and other writers.

Advice From A Tree

Stand tall and proud.
Sink your roots into the earth.
Be content with your natural beauty.
Go out on a limb.
Drink plenty of water.
Remember your roots.
Enjoy the view.
– Ilan Shamir

The Tree Amigos: It Didn’t Start This Way!

When I started this one, I had no intention of painting trees. It actually began with the idea of a rainy day and a child under an umbrella. That’s all. No trees. Just a little girl ( which became two) under a large umbrella. And that’s what I did! I had mixes of blues, violets, grays, whites on my palette and with my palette knives, laid on my background then when dry enough, added the figures. However, the composition bothered me. Therefore, I swiped through it all, removed a lot of the paint, and in the chaos of colors I saw a street scene. I worked that idea for a while, but didn’t like that either. It just didn’t speak to me. Actually it did speak to me… it said “noooooo”. So I scraped and wiped and re-swiped the colors and sat back and just looked at it for several minutes. That’s when I started seeing trees in the shapes. Trees and water and sky. So I started developing the shapes and moving colors around. In the end, I had a painting of three trees which I finally named The Tree Amigos.

Speaking of Trees

If you google it, you’ll find that there are over 60,000 tree species in the world. The ten most common in the U.S. are the Red Maple, the Loblolly Pine, Sweetgum, Douglas Fir, Quaker Aspen, Sugar Maple, Balsam Fir, Flowering Dogwood, Lodgepole Pine, and the White Oak.

A lot of lovely subjects if you like painting trees. I guess I had better get to practicing.

The Amazing Colors of Fall

I love Fall. The gradual change in weather, the gradual change in the landscape. The way the trees and bushes begin to dress themselves in their Autumn colors… while the mortals in their midst do the same. Even if you are not a cool weather person, you have to admit the colors of Fall are just spectacular. They are some of my favorite hues to paint with. Even when it’s not Fall.

Fall Leaves (mixed media)

Too bad some of you are missing it. Fall. Not by choice, but because Mother Nature seems to have decided to skip it this year. Or at least delay it. Here in North Texas, we went from summer temps to a few days of cold, back to summer temps, a few hours of Spring, then an arctic front blew in, and if the forecasters are correct… we’ll be back to Spring again in a few days.

It’s kind of hard to figure out what to wear from day to day (hour to hour?) and I think everything in the landscape is just as confused as we are. Summer colors or Fall colors? Leaves on or leaves off? What season are we in? Luckily, the last cold snap has gotten things started. Nature’s palette is finally changing. The amazing colors of Fall are beginning to show. Especially within the trees. They are glorious with color right now. How I envy those states where the trees go on for miles and miles with the colors of Fall beautifully displayed.

I think, as adults, we often tend to lose the wonder of what is presented this time of year. The amazing colors of Fall are lost on us because we either take it for granted or all we focus on is whose yard those leaves are in… and who’s gonna have to rake it all up. Confession: Here where I live, when the leaves come down in the yard… if we wait a few hours… the wind will change and it’ll get blown into the neighbor’s yard. Of course, then the neighbor does the same thing, and a few hours later, the wind blows it all back! It’s a game of who blinks first.

I encourage you to let your inner child come out, or better yet, take a child with you, and go find a few leaves that are in the transition change (on a tree, bush, plant, the ground) and take a really close look. Some of them will have colors that merge so beautifully that they look like they were painted by the hand of an artist. Greens, yellows, reds, oranges, purples. Sometimes all on one leaf!

The amazing colors of Fall. Don’t take too long to look though, the way things have been changing lately, you might miss it.

Purple At Sunset: The Painting

Purple At Sunset
oil and cold wax painting

It’s rare that I start an oil and cold wax painting with an idea already in mind. I usually throw on a base color and then start slapping down a combination of other colors until shapes emerge that kind of direct how the painting turns out.

However, (surprise!) this time I had a definite idea of what I wanted to paint… a sunset evolving into shades of purple as night falls. So, with inspiration from many beautiful photos of purple at sunset, I just had to pull out my purple, magenta, orange, and white tubes of paint, my palette knives, a brush, and get to mixing and painting!

To me, it’s no wonder that so many artists, photographers, and writers find themselves moved to express themselves in some way after, or while, they watch a setting sun. Sunsets are one of nature’s many gifts of color to those who choose to stop and look. Color which changes in the richness of tones depending on the weather, the seasons, and things in the sky or on the ground which reflect those colors. It’s a glorious transition of light to dark as the sun dips below the horizon line.

I love sunsets. I like to paint them (or attempt to) and I like to take photos of them… especially when there are clouds in the sky. They are just too lovely to ignore! Are you a fan of sunsets? Do they move you in any way? Maybe you prefer to watch the sun rise? Those are lovely too, if you’re a morning person. I don’t see too many sunrises now. I’m retired. I get to sleep in.

Evolution of an Unplanned Painting

Plan? What Plan?

Most of the artists I know start with a plan. They sketch out what they intend to paint, either from real life, a photo, or a design they come up with. It’s probably the smarter thing to do; however, that’s not usually how it works for me. I tend to just “wing it”. I find I get a lot more enjoyment out of a session if I just slap down some marks and colors, then step back and just look at it for a few minutes. Because within those few minutes, I start seeing things and what is on the canvas starts to “talk to me” (not literally, I’m not hearing things… most of the time… that would be creepy).

I Start With Colors

I mixed up a palette of blues and lavenders, then threw in some white and black. After several minutes of moving colors around, shapes started to form. I backed up and stared at it as I began to see either a treeline or rocks and what might be a horse in the foreground of the painting. Yay! A start!

I Look At Shapes

As you can see, the black area did not want to be a treeline. It wanted to be rocks and cliffs. (Okay, my brain wanted it to be rocks and cliffs.) So, I added oranges and browns to my color palette and worked on the main shapes. The horse shape is still there since I think I can work with that.

Now, however, the horse bolted and two cows showed up. Again, I am letting the scene evolve as I play with it. By this point, I have a good idea where I’m going to wind up. Some kind of a Southwest scene. Memories of Arizona now start running through my head.

Get Along Little Doggies

The cows drove me nuts. On this particular day, I could not get the illusion of bovines on my canvas. So off they went to graze somewhere else. The evolution of this unplanned painting is almost complete. I just need to work a bit on the foreground and keep the animals corralled.

The Final Painting?

I’d like to say this is where I wound up, but as usual, after letting it sit for a week I did come back and do a little more touching up where I felt it needed it. I’d show you, but the changes aren’t that much.

To end with an update… the painting now has a mat and is framed. For this one, the evolution is complete.

View From the Cabin: Painting With Blue

View From the Cabin Confession

First of all, I do not have a cabin near a lake. I do not have a cabin near a river. I do not have a cabin near a stream. I do not have a cabin near a drainage ditch. I do not have a cabin at all. But if I did, it would absolutely have a view. However; I have been in various cabin type structures in different locations quite a few times during my lifetime. So this scene is kind of a compilation of the real and the unreal. Did it start out this way? Of course not! When I started this canvas, the only thing I was sure of was that painting with blue was the main objective.

View From the Cabin

The Need for Painting With Blue

You may or may not know this, but art galleries will often have exhibitions where they put out a “call to artists” and you need to meet the theme of that particular exhibition. Well, this particular gallery’s theme coming up is Blue. So painting with blue was the main requirement.

Easy peasy. I LOVE all the wonderful shades you can get using blue (any shade) adding small (or large) amounts of white or black. I decided to go for it. The entry fee was reasonable and I hoped the “jury” would take anybody who paid. (I’ve seen and been in a few shows where it sure seemed that way, but then to be fair, art is in the eye of the beholder.)

I pulled out my black, white, and ultra-marine blue oils and my little pot of cold wax. I slapped some lines of black. I swished large splashes of straight ultra-marine. I mixed various shades of the blue and let them dance across the canvas. I jumped back in with white. Go girl! Let loose! I had an abstract on my canvas!

From Abstract to Landscape

Once again, I just couldn’t leave it alone. Yes, there are shapes, colors, and values and all kinds of fun things in an abstract, but I kept seeing ghost images of things recognizable. And I couldn’t leave it alone. Hence, a cold winter night slowly developed on my canvas. I know that’s just how my brain works. I see recognizable images in just about everything. I also know that I’m kind of tired of summer temperatures still hanging on here in North Texas. Maybe subconsciously, I’m hoping for a future cold winter night with a view… from a cabin.

P.S.

My painting got accepted. I’ll be dropping it off to thegallery 8680 next month. HAPPY DANCE!!!! Let’s hope it finds a forever home.

Mothers and Daughters: Moms and Their Mini-Me

My Mom and Mini-Me Series

This series of whimsical mothers and their daughters portraits (okay, characters) started a while back when I was in a “gotta draw faces” phase and was spending a lot of time with my sketchbook. Also, at the time, I was painting both realistic and semi-realistic female faces. I still occasionally will paint a face that passes for “real”.

However, where’s the fun in that?

I had much rather draw and paint whimsical, if not outright silly, faces. Faces, real or not, are so interesting! So… the Mom and Mini-Me series was born and I still add to it since I haven’t yet painted all the drawings that patiently wait in my aforementioned sketchbook.

Acrylic painting.  Whimsical mom and her mini-me.

Are You a Mini-Me of Your Mom?

I’m not. I look more like my father. My dad used to tell me I had “daddy’s features and mommy’s fixtures”. I think I probably act more like him too. However, back to the question. Are you a mini-me of your mom?

Because I paint, I find myself looking (discreetly as possible) at the faces of people around me, especially when a mother and daughter (or son) are together. I look to see how much they have in common. Eye color, eye placement, bone structure, hair color, mouth size. I really look. I find it fascinating. They would probably find it weird, which is why it has to be done “on the down low” so the cops don’t get involved. (Good thing I have artist friends who can vouch for me too.)

Anyhow, rarely do I see a mother with an absolute mini replica of herself, since we are, in truth, a complicated blend of both our parents… and their parents… and their parents.

Back to the Mom and Mini-Me Paintings

Though I have a good time when I create these, they are not painted just for fun. Okay, they are. But….

They make me think about the mother and daughter relationship. How much are you really like your mother?

Do you look like her. Do you talk like her? Do you have the same interests? How much has your mother influenced you? Are you truly a mini-me? Are you the mother of a mini-me?

There are several in this whimsical series of mothers and daughters, and probably more to come. You can see them online on my artist page at Fine Art America. I invite you to take a look. They’re fun.