Walk With Me

Right now with all the mess going on, I know you and I won’t be walking together any time soon. And, truth be told, I kind of prefer walking by myself. If I am by myself, I don’t have to make polite conversation, talk (or hear) about problems, or have anyone roll their eyes when I have to stop (for the umpteenth time) to look at something we saw earlier in another spot. Look! Another rabbit, squirrel, bird, flower, butterfly, cloud formation, tree shape. The list goes on… and on… and on.

oil and cold wax painting

Note this: if you are the same way on a walk, we would get along fabulously (and probably be taking a lot of photos).

However, if we can’t walk together physically, we can at least walk together in spirit. Fact is, sadly, I do most of my walking this way now. No, not by some meditative mind thing. I do my in spirit walking through photos. Either my own or those so graciously shared by others. I love seeing where people have been and am very glad they are willing to share their adventures so I can come along.

This is why I now so enjoy painting outdoor scenes, even if it’s from a photo (with permission of course if it’s not mine). It doesn’t have to be a live outdoor painting experience (i.e. plein air) for me to feel it. And truth be told, I don’t like to sweat, get sunburned, fight off bugs, or lug supplies around. Also, at my age, the thought of not being close to a bathroom is a big NO NO. (Just for that, I have a huge amount of respect for plein air painters. They must have really healthy bladders.)

Anyway… at my age, I have had enough life experiences to be able to look at a photo and visualize being there, walking there, seeing the colors in the tree line or on the side of the hill. I can feel the breeze that might be blowing, feel the heat of the sun or the cool of the shade, smell the fragrances of what’s growing, hear what sounds might be there. I can put myself into the scene I am painting. I am spiritually there because at some point in life, I was physically in a scene pretty much like it.

Hopefully, if I can capture the feeling of being there, the viewer will feel they are there too. Isn’t that’s what all artists hope for? A connection with their viewer?

So, walk with me. I hope you enjoy the stroll.

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.

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.

Empty Bowls Painting

photo of a colorful striped empty bowl

Colorful empty bowl

I’m going to my first Empty Bowls event tonight and I’m making myself nuts.  This event is not the big fundraiser, it’s one of the bowl painting events.  (Not “bowel” painting, which is what my husband thought I had written on the calendar.  Very funny that husband of mine.)  Anyway, THIS is why I’m bouncing off the walls.  WHAT am I going to paint?  What design am I going to do?  Floral?  Geometric?  Whimsy?  Nature?  WHAT!!!!  Every time I think I know, I change my mind.  Hence… going nuts!!!  It’s an unfinished ceramic bowl that needs to be painted and it’s going to be used in a fundraiser!  Along with several hundred other bowls.  But it’s going to be MY project and it’s going to be used in a fundraiser!!!

Now if you aren’t sure what Empty Bowls events are all about, let me tell you.

A Short History of Empty Bowls

Back in the early 1900’s in an attempt to do something about the poverty and hunger in their locale, John Hartom and Lisa Blackbarn came up with a novel idea.  John, being a ceramics teacher, got his students to create more than 100 bowls.  He and Lisa then put together a community event where people paid for the bowls and the money raised went to provide food for those who needed it.

Over the years, Empty Bowls has evolved into quite a fun family-friendly multi-event “event” as a way to provide funds to area food banks and/or homeless shelters.  Organizers work with both local artists and pottery artisans giving the public a chance to participate in more than one event leading up to the main fundraiser.  These events are of two types: creating the ceramic bowls or painting/decorating them. Once finished, and usually a couple of months down the road, the actual Empty Bowls fundraiser happens.  At the fundraiser, people donate money, get to choose their favorite empty bowl, and then have it filled with soup or some other food item as part of the event.  Often, the food item is provided by a local restaurant or well known chef from the community.  It’s a win-win for all.  You get to eat, have some fun, take home a hand crafted useful item and you’ve helped raise funds for the hungry.

Still Going Nuts About an Empty Bowl

I’ll be leaving soon. I have ideas running through my head.  I’ve sketched out some ideas.  I’ve looked at dozens of painted bowls for inspiration.  I still have no idea what I will do.  I guess it will hit me when I get there and the bowl “talks” to me.  I also guess that this year, I will be attending the actual fundraiser.  I need to see if my bowl finds a home.

Hope you find an event near you and plan to join in!

See ya!

Forget New Year Resolutions and Goals, Make A 2019 Bucket List Instead

The Fun of a Bucket List

Normally, one thinks of a bucket list as being those things we want to do before we die or as per the saying, “kick the bucket”.  Some of you may remember the 2007 movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson titled The Bucket List.  The movie is about two men, terminally ill, who slip out of a cancer ward and take off on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they die.  It was and is a wonderful story.  Sweet, funny, and moving.

But, why does such a “list” have to be one of to-dos before we die?  Why can’t we have one just for the new year?

Think about it.  Doesn’t a bucket list sound more fun than a resolution or goal?  When you resolve to do something… it’s like saying you are promising to do it.  Breaking promises isn’t fun.  A goal is to be reached.  If you don’t reach it…  you have, well, failed.  Which leads us to the dreaded word.  Guilt.

But a bucket list?  We aren’t making any promises, demands, or setting any “have to achieve the dang thing” goals.  We’re thinking, “Hey, wouldn’t this be fun!  Wouldn’t this be cool to do! I want to do this.  Maybe I’ll do this!  This year.

Dream Big, Dream Small… It’s YOUR 2019 Bucket List

Ok, here are some of mine (and they don’t include a bungee jump of ANY kind):

  1. Paint more freely.  Slap those paint strokes down and let ’em lay.
  2. Drive over to Oklahoma to the casino and pig out at the all you can eat buffet at least one time.  And…. toss a few nickels in the slots for entertainment.
  3. Go to one or two of the art museums in Dallas.
  4. Actually putting some lavender hair coloring on my hair instead of just thinking about it.
  5. REALLY clean up my art/sewing room.  All I ever seem to do, seriously, is rearrange the mess.
  6. Replant flowers and shrubs around the house that got destroyed when the house had to be lifted and piers put in.
  7. Get my eyes checked.. I keep putting it off.  I hate how much new glasses cost. Ridiculous how expensive they are.
  8. Drag my husband to a movie at an actual movie theater.  The recliners are awesome and every Tuesday is “discount day”.  It won’t cost us an arm and both legs.
  9. Get back into a yoga routine instead of just when I feel the need to stretch it all out or “gee, my tummy is looking saggy again”.
  10. Smile more.  I naturally have frown lines that make me look like I’m in a bad mood all the time.  I’m not, I just look like it.  Smiling more should help.  I hope.

Well, these are some of mine.  As you can see, nothing earth-shattering.  And if I don’t get any of these done… no big deal.  Make your list interesting, make it fun, make it nobody else’s business!  Make your 2019 Bucket List.

Now if I could just find a bucket.

Happy New Year!

 

Legend of the Christmas Rose

Roses Are Love, Hope, and Joy

I love flowers, especially roses.  To me, roses are love, hope and joy.  We buy them for ourselves and for others because of those specific feelings. Did you know that there are a couple of varieties that have been cultivated for around six hundred years? Yes, hundreds of years of love, hope and joy through growing and /or receiving.

Roses and I go way back… not hundreds of years or I wouldn’t be writing this, but way back… and I have have punctured many a finger on their thorns.

Before I moved to North Texas, when I was back in South Louisiana, I had a “rose garden” next to the patio.  At one time, there were six different colored rose bushes growing there.  Well, the roses were different colors… the bushes were all green.  Some people have a gift for growing them.  Not me.  I had to read just about everything I could find on how to keep them healthy and blooming.  It was worth it though.

Christmas Roses?

roses for mama

Mama Liked the Roses

Recently, I was doing a painting of, well… roses, and while I was painting I couldn’t get Elvis Presley’s rendition of  “Mama Liked the Roses” out of my head.  Why?  Glad you asked… it’s on an old Christmas CD that I’ve been playing.  Yeah, a Christmas CD.  I think it was a song that was special to him and he had a spot to fill on the original record.  It also made me think of my mother.  She liked roses too.

Anyway, I got to wondering if there was such a thing as a Christmas rose.  You know, a special variety cultivated just for this time of year.  I figured it would be red and white.  Well, what I found was there IS something called a Christmas Rose… and it isn’t a rose at all.  It’s a perennial and grows in the cold, snowy mountains and valleys of Europe.  Boy was I disappointed.

What I wasn’t disappointed in, was a story that  I came across.  A legend that probably was first told in Europe.  If you don’t know it, read on my friend.

Legend of the Christmas Rose

Here’s a condensed version.

When everyone was bringing gifts to the newborn Jesus, a young shepherdess, Madelon, wished to bring something to the baby as well.  Being poor, she had no gift to offer, but rushed back to the hill where her flock was where she searched for flowers she could pick and give to the child.  Finding none, and with no gift to offer, she feel to her knees outside the manger and cried.

christmas rose

The Christmas Rose

An angel watching over her knew about her search and her despair in finding nothing.  Coming to her aide, he brushed aside the snow where her tears had fallen and under the snow appeared a beautiful cluster of white winter roses.  The angel told the young girl that this would be a gift far more valuable than the gifts brought by even those of the wise men…  for these roses were pure and made of love.  She presented them to the baby Jesus and was filled with joy from his happiness at the gift.  Thus, the Christmas Rose came to symbolize the hope, love and joy of the season.

 

So to you and yours…. Hope, Love, Joy

 

See You Next Year Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds.  Delightful tiny winged creatures with big personalities.  I look forward every year to their arrival and I sadly wish them goodbye around this time of the month.  Yep, I usually have a straggler or two fueling up at the feeders in October here in North Texas as they make their way south.  The last one was on October 18th.  Haven’t seen her in a few days.  Hopefully she is safely getting closer to her final destination.  It just amazes me how many miles these birds travel on their annual migration routes to and from Mexico.  It also makes me sad to have read how many never make it and die along the way.

On a happy note, I was lucky this year.  I had an increase in the number of hummingbirds that stopped by and feasted at my yard’s feeders.  I guess the word is getting out that I run a pretty good rest stop during the season.  Plenty of fresh sugar-water, plenty of trumpet vine flowers and plenty of insects.  (My yard is a multi-bird resort community.  There is also an abundant supply of birdseed on hand for the seed eaters.)  I get immense enjoyment at watching all my backyard critters, winged and four footed.  I spend a small fortune on sugar and all types of bird and critter food. Can’t help myself and have no plans to quit.  It’s a good addiction.

Spring Hummingbird Inks

Hummingbird painted with alcohol inks on yupo paper.

For me, prime hummingbird time is September and most of my feathered guests are of the ruby throated variety.  They show up and actually hang around for several weeks fattening themselves. up.  Normally, I only see females.  This year I had some males show up which was thrilling for me.  For my husband… not so much… just another mouth to feed.  Many times, we would be standing outside and would get buzzed by the little jet flyers as they zipped around chasing each other from one feeding area to another and then up into the trees.  And the chattering!  Especially the females.  Boy did they make their presence, and their claim to a spot, known.  If you too, are a hummer fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  If you are a fan, and like to paint, draw or take photos, they make good subjects for an art piece.

However, it’s late October and I have probably seen the last of them for this year.  But, just in case there are a few out there taking their time heading further south… my feeders will be available until November 1st.  Spread the word!