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ACE Basin #4 Other Things Celebration Spring Rain
Luxurious Floral Dream By the Light... Capitol (study)

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ACE Basin #4

A backwater paddle down the ACE Basin of lowcountry South Carolina is a wonder.  The water is full of fish, dolphins, alligators, and turtles.  The trees droop spanish moss, and sing with the calls of birds. Herons wade searching for food. It is a place where life is slow, rich and where the presence of man is of no consequence.  Our personal vulnerability is so evident, how the power of Nature holds supreme.  Of course, this beautiful environment is at the mercy of Man's whims, mistakes, and destruction.  That is the power that WE hold.  May the ACE remain as it has always been, wild and rich.

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The Power of Positive Thinking and the Laws of Attraction

I've often heard people talk about the laws of attraction, how bad things or events draw worse things, and conversely how good things and actions draw great things.  So what do you do when you've lived under the dark cloud, scurrying from one disappointment to another, tragedy to tragedy, mediocrity abounding.  How do you escape?


In art, there are up times and there are down times.  It's a reflection of life, a reflection of the artist's outlook and mentality.  We cannot stand forever on the mountain top, but we can sure spend some time in the valley.  Sales might be big for awhile, then the bottom falls out, and you wonder "what's an artist to do?".  When you continue to paint poorly and things just don't come together, or you are in a depressed frame of mind, how do you change it?


You change your attitude.  You choose to think positively.  You access that bit of hope in your soul, even if it is just an ember.  You breathe on it, and it catches flame.  You feed your art -- you practice, practice, practice.  You take a workshop, read a book, or view a video. You take a moment and flash through the daily art show FASO sends out, and see what other people are doing.  You say goodbye to the past, because it IS the past, and look forward.  The day does come after the night. The dream IS possible.  You choose to believe. 


Every day you choose to be positive, even in the face of discouragement. You look in the mirror and tell yourself the day is full of opportunity.  You take each lesson you learn and put it in your portfolio from the school of hard knocks.  You endure.  And then it happens.  You learn something new, you try something inspired. You meet someone who puts you in touch with a potential client, gallery partner, or a great teacher.  You improve.  Your work brightens, you do a show, and guess what? You sell a piece or two.  You do another show, or list another piece online, and you sell that too.  You're encouraged to read Jack White's book on Making It, and try a few of his time-tested techniques.  Before you know it, you're creating work with a fire of hope burning inside.  You draw new opportunities to you with the light of hope and, finally, of joy in creating.  It can happen.  It DOES happen.  


Then maybe the bottom falls out again, or you stumble in your success, and it's grey clouds and rain again.  Choose to learn from your mis-steps, and choose to be positive.  It's a way out.  It's a way to make your art, and your life, count for something.  Whatever it is that you do, whatever it is that you create, be certain to do it from a positive, life-affirming place.  You may stumble and fall sometimes, but each day, you choose.  So what will it be?

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Floral Dream

A soft veil of mist blankets the garden in the first light of day.  The heavy scent of iris hangs in the air.  Drops of moisture form on the nodding heads of daffodils.  This image of spring formed on the edge of a morning dream.  I was inspired to paint this work by my dream of a morning in the garden, in reverential meditation at the wonders and beauties of the natural world.  Always, I have the soul of a gardener!

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And Now for Something Completely Different...

I love watching movies, especially biographical films, and even more narrowly...biographical films about artists.  Maybe I am looking for hints on how their choices in life determined how their work became known, or maybe I'm just curious about how they did that something special.  I was watching (again) the movie "Basquiat", the story of Jean Michel Basquiat, who began as a graffiti artist in New York City, and developed as a studio artist.  Jean Michel hung out, and collaborated with, Andy Warhol, gained recognition and sold his art in fine galleries, but sadly, his alcohol and drug use ended his life at 27.


One of the film's characters talks to Jean Michel when fame and all that went with it had arrived, but Jean Michel feels trapped. He is wanting to do something different.  The friend tells him a story about the ancient calligraphers in China, how they would change their names mid-career, and try something completely different. Start over fresh, and bring new techniques to their art.  I don't know if these Chinese masters did that, but it makes a good story. 


I'm reminded of our friend, Jack White, and how he made his fame creating art using gold leaf, only to leave it behind and become an oil painter.  Changing direction requires a time of learning, experimenting, and often sacrifice. Jack's hard work, focused attention and dedication led to a new, and successful, career.


So what do we do when we make a decision to do something completely different?  I have been painting lowcountry landscapes for over 10 years now - successfully.  I know that my work has evolved over that time, but I seem to have found my niche, and my work speaks to my collectors.  I enjoy creating these artworks, I have a great relationship with my gallery, and life is good.


And now, for something completely different.  I am working on a series of abstract florals for my local market with a local art representative.  The work is an exciting departure from the traditional landscapes I typically create.  I'm having fun, but I would love to build a following in my local, very contemporary market.   Will I spend more time and effort on this venture at the expense of what is familiar and comfortable and loved?  I like to think that my excitement in variety will be good for ALL the work I do.  Or is that every philanderer's argument -- ending badly?


I suppose we'll see.  I just hope that I am wise enough, and detached enough, to know the answer when it comes.

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An Unexpected Journey (minus the dwarves and dragons)

For those patient souls who have followed my blog this year, this is the "year end" of an unexpected journey. Unlike Tolkien's Bilbo and his unexpected journey, I have no mountain to seek, or dwarves to burgle for.  But I embarked just as hurriedly, and without an idea of what laid ahead.  And I found out, like Bilbo, what strength I carried within me.


My husband has been in treatment since a cancer diagnosis from a tardy colonoscopy on New Years Eve, 2012.  ( *If you are 50/over, or having symptoms of "something not right" with your digestive tract, GET CHECKED.  If he had done that 10 years ago, when it was on the schedule, we could have avoided this costly, and almost deadly, year.)  Weeks of radiation therapy, months of chemo, and two surgeries have left both of us weary and wounded -- but ALIVE. His health had consumed both of us...and left us at the end of our reserves.  Then a sketchy scan revealed another problem area, possible metastatic cancer.  A biopsy, with MRI later, and we can have hope  --  no sign of cancer. No guarantee for the future, but for right now, NO cancer.


For me, as the spouse who kept up the house, worked full time, coordinated insurance and doctors visits, dispensed meds, changed ostomy bags and tended wounds, stayed up late and got up early, daily energies were spread thin.  I railed at God, wrestled with my faith, and questioned everything. I can imagine how much like a two-year old's tantrum, my frustrations appeared to Him.  One thing that remained, as a beacon of hope -- my art.  I went to the studio over and over again, snatching time to work on this and that.  I took solace in that place where Creative Spirit waited.   It soothed my nerves, calmed my moments of panic and brought hope.  Performing my art healed my heart and restored my soul. 


Now, we've reached a rest station on this journey, and we have time to rebuild, each in body and mind.  We are reclaiming what cancer stole from us.  My creativity, simmering on the back burner, is back at full boil, and steady work is being created.  What a luxury to place a canvas on the easel, push out puddles of paint, and get to work!  A thousand new ideas are taking root, begging to be next, impatiently prodding me to go to the studio.  Paint large or small - why not both? What joy!


What lies ahead in 2014 is wrapped in ribbons of time -- expectant and waiting to be revealed.  We hope the cancer stays away, and healing continues.  Now we know what we are made of, now we know what we can endure, and we are not afraid.    I have accumulated a circle of caring friends who love me and encourage me.  I have a deeper appreciation for my family.  The difficulties of the past year have helped me value each and every moment of joy. My art still lives, is still active, and continues to grow. Through it all, life is good.  Welcome 2014.


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The Rose in Winter

It seems everyone who putters in the earth each growing season gets itchy in the midst of winter.  The catalogs come, alive with color and promise of glorious displays.  One can almost feel the warmth of Spring's sun and perceive the stirrings within the earth.  A gardener is once and always a dreamer.


For the painter, reality is as close as the palette and brush.  Gardens bloom at the stroke of paint, roses blush with the artist's wish.  In Winter's chill, anything is possible.  Even the blossom.

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Morning Ablaze

As the morning comes up along the tidal creeks, you just never know what will be revealed.  Often the sky is a brightening blue, maybe a white pattern of clouds.  The special days bring a sight like this painting...the sky looks like it is on fire, accented by steel blue clouds.  Everything takes on rich color, and just for that single moment in time, you observe something amazing.  The great part of this scenario is that there is never going to be another one just like this one, and it is the saddest fact that you will never see this again.  What a blessing to have been there, part of that moment in time, when Creation opens its arms wide and says, "Look at me!"

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Plugging in the Charger


We are surrounded by items that seem to need recharging - phones, tablets, computers, cameras. I’ve been pulling a lot of “juice” from my artistic battery these days – outside influences that I cannot control seem to wear me down, and things that seemed like a good idea at the time took more time and energy than I thought.  All have left very low readings on the old art battery.  So, the alarm is going off, and it is time to plug in the charger.


With the fall of the year finally here, and the cooler temperatures, there is no excuse to stay indoors – I am getting outside to paint and sketch whenever I can.  Plein air painting has its challenges, but it pays a hefty reward of fresh air, exciting scenery, and connectedness to the world in general.  There are times my nature pushes me toward playing the hermit, but not now.  Mother Nature calls, and I am more than happy to oblige. The more intense autumn skies, and the changing leaves and landscape, spark my imagination.  When evening draws in around me, I can take those images into the studio to expand my creations.  A plein air sketch becomes a full-blown painting, still capturing the atmosphere of a scene, a reminder of what it was like to BE there.


So, I can feel the charger of Nature doing its work – filling my head with images that I now can hardly wait to get onto canvas. I'm excited again to place bright, rich colors on the palette. The new brushes have arrived and tempt me to "try me!"  I open the studio window, peer out at the changing forest, and marvel at this precious gift I have been given – to see and to create in a way that only I can do.  I’m on my way to 100% recharged!


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Seasons Change...

Here in Georgia, we have been overly blessed with rain this year -- 15 inches more than normal.  For a while there, we were neck and neck with Seattle for the most cloudy and rainy days.  We got used to coming and going in the rain -- it had to really pour before the umbrellas came out.  Grass went uncut for days at a time, waiting on a dry spell (make that drier spell) so the mowers could quickly make their rounds.  Now that the rain has started to ebb away, the weather has been cool and humidity has been low.  Definitely NOT Hotlanta weather! But fall is in the air now -- we've made it past the threat of oppressive heat.


With the cooler weather, thoughts of colorful leaves and deep blue skies aren't far away.  Fall art shows are on the horizon, and there is a new urgency to create for the season.  Frankly, I welcome the challenge.  It's my favorite time of year, and far from feeling the year slipping by, I revel in feeling my strength and creativity surge.


In the next day or so, a large order of brushes will arrive -- many of my old reliables are past all hope of use, and I feel like a child with that first schoolday box of crayons.  I cannot wait to get some paint on these newbies!  The canvas is cut and ready, the paints are sorted and prepared.  When I have been out of the studio, my mind has not -- mentally I prepare compositions and paper pads fill with sketches of new scenes and ideas.  The excitement and anticipation build. 


Like the rain of the summer filled lakes to the brim, I find my mind filled to brim with ideas, with thoughts that will lead to that almost spiritual experience of creating ART.  It has been too long, old friend.  Where shall we begin?

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Dog Days of Summer

Summer is a lazy time of year for art work sales.  Tending to slow to a gentle flow, sales are there, and commission work is steady, but high demand time is reserved for the cooler times of year.  A lot of clients like to travel, enjoy outside time, and generally do other things than focus on their home decor.  I understand that.  I feel that way too!


But summer does bring beautiful days of painting in the studio, building up inventory for those busy seasons, taking time to experiment.  Life is full of ebbs and flows, and creativity is no exception.  There are times when we are meant to relax, reassess, reassure ourselves that what we are doing is what is true for us.  These are those times.  Opening a new color, delicious and inspiring, and spreading it across the canvas is a delight.  Capturing the salmon orange of fresh cantelope, glistening in sunlight, is precious to eye and tongue. Creamy ice cream from the backyard churn, drizzled in fresh strawberries, red and white and pink. So many times we barely notice these precious sensory gifts. They are there for the choosing -- everywhere.


I can't help but think of a Jimmy Buffett song -- "Some people never find it, some only pretend, but me, well, I just want to be happily ever after every now and then" .  During the dog days of summer, and every day, I hope I always find it now and then!

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