Fleeting and enchanting, here now but soon to be gone: Ephemera. Not sure what it is about paper creations, but they capture my heart. Take me to an art walk and I will stop in my tracks entranced by hundreds of paper doves hanging from the ceiling in a tiny studio. Recently I opened a used book and out fell an old map and a photograph. More ephemera! At a recent visit to a historic home I saw aged bookshelves filled with dusty volumes and all sorts of unformed, ephemeral thoughts swirled through my mind: all the minutes, hours, years spent creating unread and disintegrating books, all the aching hands that folded the dangling paper birds, all the people in the photographs long gone from this life.
The dictionary defines ephemera as things useful or important only for a brief time. Tickets, maps, brochures...all the things we used to paste into memory albums, now yellowed and curled. They speak of the fleeting nature of life and yet, paradoxically, the endurance of Being.
The Apostle Paul wrote in the book of 1 Corinthians that "all things will pass away" except for faith, hope, and love. You can see what remains and endures: the love, kindness, and goodness that pass down through to future generations. This is also what art does, whether it's writing, music, sculpture, or painting (or a host of other creative expressions.) Art captures and preserves, at least for a time, the fleeting thought, the vista, the form, long after the artist is gone. Maybe what fascinates me about all the ephemera is the artist's voice in its essence. While I paint, I'm pouring my attention and intention into the work and trusting the message of goodness and love come through. Using archival and 'best practices' in the studio gives me hope the painting will last much longer than the paper doves.
Thank you for reading my ephemeral words! Stay safe and be mindful of others' safety as well.
Those of a certain age will remember the 1960's bathroom tissue tv ads with the "moment of softness" slogan, accompanied by soft images of blossoms and clouds and linen cloth, helping us to associate their product with comfort and goodness. We certainly need those feelings now (as well as that particular product which seems in surprisingly low supply.) Every day brings new and shocking news of the Covid19 pandemic engulfing the entire globe and, meanwhile, outside my patio door I hear and see all the signs of Springtime showing up and showing off. Life. It inspires courage in me and I hope in you, too. We need courage and great love right now so that we aren't consumed by the dark of depression and fear.
Give love to yourself with self-care and self-compassion, knowing that the emotion of fear is normal to all human beings, but with courage you can choose wise actions that are good for yourself and others.
Give love to your neighbor by checking in and reassuring them that you are close by and available to help if needed. Have the courage to be selfless and sacrificial, which for most of us will mean staying home, social distancing, praying more, partying less (or none)
Give love to your community and world by being aware and responsive to the needs that will become more and more evident. There are many good suggestions of how to help those in need; have the courage to do the thing. "Look for the helpers" (Mr. Roger's mother), "watch to see where God is at work" (Experiencing God) and when you do find these places and people, have the courage AND love to find your part to play.
May you all remain healthy and strong!
A few months ago I started a blog topic about "Learning a new thing", the first installment covered setting the stage by addressing the anxiety that comes with unfamiliar territory. (Read it here) You know that unpleasant feeling of stress when you're heading into a new and alien environment, like an interview or an important meeting. You don't know what to expect and you'd rather be just about anywhere else and your amygdala is firing up all the responses so you can "fight or fly", which usually ends up being counterproductive. The rest of your brain is trying to say wait a minute, this dry mouth, these shaky hands are not helpful. Calm down now, take a breath!
And now you can feel yourself relaxing, more settled and it's time for curiosity and being present...Step Two. The best descriptor for step two is to be In the Moment. Let yourself become aware of your surroundings, the people you are with, and the information being presented. Keep your attention receptive and non judgmental. You may become aware of defensive feelings inside yourself. Let yourself notice and let them go for now, returning to the open focus you started with. If you're in a class or workshop, this is a good time to take quick notes while also staying attentive to the instructor.
There are several different learning styles and you may already know the best way you learn, so incorporate that to your circumstances. Some people learn by hearing, others by seeing or by doing, If you know you are a kinesthetic learner, you might want to position yourself where you can stand or move while in the learning mode.
So you are Relaxed. You are Receptive. You are focused and self-aware. And you are taking in all the new information auditorily, writing brief notes, moving around if you need to. The very best next thing to do when the break time comes is to write down a short summary of the material you are trying to learn. Include some of your impressions, too; they may help to jog your memory later. When you put down or even just talk about it in your own words, you are moving the information from one part of your brain into another and taking a giant step from short term memory to long term memory! Progress!
Thank you for reading my blog! I appreciate it!
instincts and watch things unfold on their own. But I know there is much value in having intentional goals to aim for!
This is going to be one crazy year for me: 2020 is "Wedding Year" and the planning is already in full swing. Our daughter is getting married to a wonderful guy in the fall and we couldn't be happier! So I guess one of my goals is to be a supportive mom and help in any way I can without being annoying. (I wonder how I'm going to assess for that?)
I also have some lofty travel plans, going somewhere almost every month until July, when I will need to stay home and clean everything for all the wonderful wedding guests. I do love the adventure of going places and experiencing new things and one of this year's forays is
an art-related trip in May to the Plein Air Convention in Denver! It's taking place just a couple miles from our son's apartment so I will get to see him as well, which is awesome. This is the first time attending for me and I've heard it's a dawn to dusk, non-stop painting experience...lots of fantastic speakers, demos, paint-outs, and camaraderie...and I'm both so excited and already exhausted. Here's a goal: blog about it! I probably can do that.
Many serious artists set a goal of painting or drawing every day and, actually, that is my goal, too. I took a workshop this fall with Calvin Liang and came face to face with my sad drawing skills. I kind of skipped that part when I started painting; it was too hard, too time consuming, not fun, and pretty discouraging. So I basically drew with my paintbrush and "carved" out whatever shape I was trying for as I developed the painting. Calvin said something to me that was very convicting and challenging: "you need to learn to draw; you will not be able to progress in your art unless you do" Well, fine! I will suck it up and get to work on that this year, too. Goal-setting will definitely be needed for this intention!
Many good wishes for a productive and rewarding New Year to all of you. Spread kindness this year...we all need it!! Thanks for reading my blog❤️
Just for fun I thought I would end this year by selecting my nine favorite paintings of the thirty-plus that I've finished in 2019. It's been a great year for learning, improving, showing, and selling. I'm feeling very blessed and looking forward to what 2020 will bring.
As always, thank you for reading my blog!!!
The Randy Higbee Gallery 10th Annual 6' Squared Exhibition and Sale is in full swing and rife with several hundred small pieces, all 6 inches by 6 inches, adorning the gallery walls in Costa Mesa, California. These are my two juried paintings gratefully accepted into the show:
Can't make it to California? Me either, but you can still see all the paintings on-line here and if there are any you would love to have for your very own, call the gallery at 800-506-7624 to purchase. If you purchase two pieces by any one artist you will receive an additional 15% discount on both pieces. How convenient that I have two pieces available! (wink wink) Also every painting in the show is beautifully framed with top of the line wooden Plein air style frames from King of Frame in Costa Mesa.
Happy and Blessed Christmas to you all!!
Once again it is the season of giving gratitude for the abundance of blessings in this life. I am going to put an "art" spin on what I am thankful for this year, so here goes:
I'm grateful for the Art Community, both in a wider sense and close to home...
I am grateful for the Wonderful and Generous Teachers I have had along the way...
*Jo, Christy, Mary, Roger, Anne, Richard, Colley, Frank, Kevin, Marc, Marcie, Jim, Pam, Hayden, Ingrid, Morgan, and Calvin*....so many! Learning to excel in any endeavor takes time and money, as well as patient endurance!
I am grateful so especially for my Patrons who support me in exceedingly more ways than simply buying paintings. They have trusted me with their cats, dogs, grandchildren, homes, cars (a few of the subjects I have painted). Their financial investment has allowed me to buy paint, canvas, workshops, videos, books, join professional organizations, enter shows and competitions. Not only that, but their belief in me has spurred me to improve, take risks, get brave. And so in no specific order, they are:
*Betty *Sandy *Gay *Ray *Suzanne *Lynne *Teresa *Marcia *Kelly *Tim *Ted & Lindell *Vicki *Charlie & Eban *Naomi *Nancy *Rebecca *Ann *Renee *Mary
*Loi *Kathy To each of you, and those who purchased from shows and exhibits, you have my deeply felt thanks!!
Finally, and most precious, is my gratitude to God who called me onto this path of painting in very clear and specific ways, who is always present and faithful, who I call on when I'm in a painting pickle and don't know what move to make next, who fills me with joy and receives it back as I express it...and to my wonderful Husband, Warren, who has let me pursue this passion wholeheartedly and come along for the ride (quite literally when I'm hauling paintings to a show). His support knows no bounds and I know what a lucky, blessed lady I am!!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL YOU ALL!!!
Don't you love it when you find a compelling novel to read? A Gentleman in Moscow (by Amor Towles) comes to mind, or Circe (by Madeline Miller). Both are, in my opinion, fantastic books for so many reasons:
*convincing, well-developed, complex characters
*interesting and original plot with a balance of conflict and resolution
*creative word choice and sophisticated sentence structure
*thought-provoking themes developed throughout the story
The same can be said about a compelling painting:
*convincing, technically well drawn subjects
*Interesting composition of shapes and patterns
*creative choices of subject and expression
*thought-provoking themes developed with color and relationships
I have so much respect for the writer who is willing to take the time and no small amount of effort to create a story of lasting value. A perfect sentence is a work of art! And I feel the same about a painting. Just as a perfect sentence doesn't have to be complex or sophisticated, so a painting doesn't need to be a masterpiece; it does need the same elements, though, of technical mastery, personal inspiration, and originality. It takes lots time and lots of effort to learn to produce work that hits this mark. The key is to NOT GIVE UP! I once heard Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, speak at the Southern Festival of Books, saying that her manuscript was returned to her multiple times and she rewrote the book multiple times before it was finally accepted and published. So, too, painters will find themselves repainting, starting over, doing another, on the quest for mastery. And rarely will you meet a painter who thinks she's "arrived", because there is always more growing to do.
Every painting I start is a fresh beginning and a blank canvas to apply all the lessons I have learned and am still learning in my pursuit of painting well.
Be willing to be a beginner every single morning. (Meister Johann Eckhart)
you've heard how everything comes in threes, right? in October it seems that things are coming in twos for me. Let me explain:
Two more paintings for the Radnor show, the botanicals I mentioned in the last post. There was a nice group of 12 painters at Radnor Lake for a paintout and meet & greet with the new Friends of Radnor Board members. it was definitely a chilly afternoon, but we persevered and I produced two simple botanical-styled paintings of what turned out to be a toxic perennial and a invasive shrub. I didn't know that until I got home and looked them up...they just looked pretty to me!
Two finished commissions! I love my Patrons and am always thrilled when I get contacted to do a painting for someone. Ray requested a painting of his visit to Monet's Giverny gardens, specifically the beautiful lily-filled pond. Using his photo references, I developed a composition we were both happy with and wrestled a bit with all the greens to come through with this sweet painting. One thing I loved about Ray was that when he called to commission this piece he said "it feels like it is time to add to my painting collection!" How great is that!
Kathy, who has walls full of incredible paintings, must have felt the same when she asked me to paint from reference a portrait of her beautiful granddaughter who recently graduated from high school. Kathy wanted a younger version of Maura, so we poured through the photos until we both said "that's the one!" She put a lot of faith in me because I haven't done very many human portraits. They are not easy, that's for sure. Just a millimeter off on any of the features and it doesn't look like Maura anymore. I absolutely loved the challenge and learned so much from it.
And lastly, two juried into the Randy Higbee Gallery 6" Squared Exhibition and Sale in Costa Mesa, CA!! They are flying to California right now. Yippee!!
For those of you who don't live around Nashville, Radnor Lake is a beautiful oasis in the midst of a large city. It is a natural area, modestly developed with designated trails, an educational visitors center, an aviary, and a mission to preserve wildlife and the lake ecosystem. The Plein Air Painters for the Land (Chestnut Group) works with middle Tennessee organizations that have a mission to preserve and protect rapidly disappearing natural areas. We paint on location and in-studio those areas and partner with the organization to hold a fundraising art event. We've partnered with Friends of Radnor Lake several times now and had very successful shows, raising thousands of dollars for their projects. This year's show is coming up very soon! November 8-10. Admission is free and the art is amazing. I hope many of you locals will be able to enjoy it (and take a nice walk in the park as well!)
Here are my submissions for the Radnor Show: the two deer paintings were done in studio (obviously), as was the lake painting, from a photo I took of the lake in late summer. I'm heading over to Radnor this afternoon, hoping to do one or two small plein air sketches of a botanical nature. The weather has finally cooled down enough to give us a happy painting day.
Thanks for reading my blog!!
Hello! My name is Wendy and I am passionate about oil painting! Whether in the studio or out in Mother Nature, I get lost in the experience of capturing on canvas the moment and the feel of what I am painting. I pour my love and energy into every single piece of artwork and I hope it shows! This blog is a place where I can use words to talk about art, painting, life, faith, things that make me laugh, and things that inspire. I love every response, so don't be shy about leaving a comment...