Saturday, November 27, 2010

Painting Buddies

Painting buddies are a great way to help inspire and motivate you to paint when you're feeling blocked. My painting buddy, Sheri, came over to the studio today to get our creativity on. She's working off one of my Sedona photos. It was really fun having her there, and I actually got some painting done! Thank you, Sheri!

Another way to get past a creative block is to try something completely new. Here I'm trying some unfamiliar oil glazing techniques for the under-painting of this soon-to-be ocean scene. It's feeling very Wolf Kahn and I'd love to work within this color palette, but it's a commission so it needs to reflect the local color. This 12x24" is a preliminary study for the final 15x30".

Here I've applied some more glazing on top and it's mixing with the paint beneath and not really working as a glaze...I'm thinking I should let it dry before I do anymore. I'll revisit it tomorrow. I may not have the patience for this technique! We'll see...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Heartfelt Thanksgiving!

Out of the Ashes

I spotted these lovely trees growing out of a lava hillside in an Arizona state park. Doesn't it remind us of how the most lovely blessings can grow out of the greatest trials and adversity? The once dead earth, purified by molten lava, is now reaping the bounty of an enriched soil, ablaze with the glories of autumn.

Blessings and heartfelt gratitude this Thanksgiving Day for all of you...and for what we have each endured to make us a rich fertile soil, ablaze with the glory of our divine selfhood.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

An hour a day

Where can I find an hour a day?

To turn away from duty,
to release that energy
into something creative for myself
is like being tossed into a washing machine.

Can I really believe
I am worth an hour a day?

Am I, who have given my life to others,
selfish enough to take one hour a day
to find myself?

Coming Home to Myself
by Marion Woodman

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Leaving Comments

Hi All,

Per your requests, I've updated my blog so that it can include all your comments; you no longer need a google account to participate. Just click on the comment section below the blog entry, leave your comments, type in the word encryption (to prevent spammers) and click on "name/url" to enter at least your first name so I know who its from...or first name and last initial.

Meanwhile, I've added a few of your great comments that you sent me to the entries you referred to.

Thank you! Have a wonderful day!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Your Wildest Dreams

"If you abandon all restraint, carry your wishes to their furthest limits, open your heart boundlessly, there is not a single moment when you will not find all you could possibly desire.

The present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams."

Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Quick oil sketch/study of a dog who won't sit still for very long! (9x12" oil)
I'll try and finish this up or start another soon. I see a bunch of things I need to fix on this one.

Discouragement. It will stop you in your tracks, if you let it. Imposing and intimidating, the voices of discouragement jeer at us, often disguised as our own thoughts, "You can't do that! You're ideas are stupid! Who do you think you are? You call yourself an artist?!"...embarrassing us in front of our biggest hopes and dreams.

We forget that our dreams come from one foot being put in front of the other, from building on moments before they become days, weeks, months and years.

So after a hearty dose of feeling really low last week, I'm thumbing my nose at this discouraging bully today!

Despite last week's failed bank loan on the RV, I am encouraged that I have a meeting with a bank loan officer this week to see if I can get prequalified for a smaller, newer model;
discouragement from feeling like I'm starting another week getting no where fast, I'm encouraged to spend 1 hour daily redesigning my website; feeling like I completely forgot how to paint/draw, I pledge to get myself in the studio daily for quick master studies; not happy about being late on a couple of paintings, I'm dedicated to making at least 2 of them complete this week and following up on a possible portrait commission; discouragement that I got off course all week due to pet emergencies, I'm exceedingly grateful that Zoe is alive and well and will spend some time painting her portrait this week. (See the study for her portrait above.)

OK, so that's my week's plan. But what can I do in this moment that makes me walk in the direction of my dreams? Maybe it's to vacuum the house to clear the cob-webs of the mind; maybe it's to blog to set my thoughts straight; maybe it's to walk the dogs and listen to a new audio encouraging me to live my dreams; maybe it's to see how fast I can paint a 16x20 while jamming to Zeppelin with too much java. Maybe the point is to enjoy each moment of the day as if it IS your wildest dream. Not just thinking Sedona when in Austin, but living Sedona in Austin.

A side note, I must express my gratitude to the friends that hung out or made vet runs with me during the difficult week of nursing Zoe back to life, and for the many prayers said on her behalf by friends and family. And most of all to Zoe, who is such a great example of unstoppable love. Thank you, one and all.

Have you noticed that gratitude kicks discouragement's butt?

So let's kick butt this week, my friends. Your wildest dreams are waiting in each moment of today!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

It had just rained when I was shooting this backlit tree which was lit up like an electric Christmas tree. Look you see the blue energy "orbs" that Sedona is known for?

I didn't notice them at first. You can't see them with the naked eye; it requires a camera lense. In fact, I didn't see them until I blew up the digital images on my computer.

That got me to thinking, what else do we overlook in every day life?

I must admit that since my return from Sedona it's been quite difficult to find as much inspiration. My everyday life seems to pale greatly in comparison to the adventures I had in Arizona. I'm sure you all can relate, yes?! I went to an art exhibit Thursday at the Blanton Museum here in Austin, and it reminded me that sometimes the most interesting, insightful moments are in the very ordinary, day to day living. We have to be looking with the right lense...and not just with our auto focus!

The exhibit,"Turner to Monet", depicted two major art movements competing with one another. The older art movement was more academic and had an idealized or romanticized view of the world, referencing history, mythology or scriptures. The newer art movement, which was struggling to be accepted even by the public, wanted to express their vision of the beauty found in real everyday life...from nature, to a peasant plowing, to the streets of Paris, to dappled light falling on a dress. These artists made the ordinary seem quite extraordinary. They simply told the story of the moment, not of the ages. They were, if you like, the predecessors to the TV reality shows, exhibiting never before seen glimpses of personal life as we all experience it...not as we wish it to be.

I was so inspired by how many of these artists made travel an integral part of life as well. It was an exciting time to be alive and so much was changing as the Industrial Age moved forward. Some artists would travel to Africa, make studies and go home to paint what was known as "Orentalism"...only to return to Africa again for more painting studies of Muslim wars and peoples. Degas began to make use of developing modern technology and referenced a photographer's images for some of his horse paintings. Jean Beraud worked from his mobile carriage studio to paint the bustling Paris streets. (OK, if he can work from a carriage, I can work from my van!!!!)

Asher Brown Durand's grand forest made me feel like I was back in the Sedona forests. His work is from the Hudson River School of artists which reflects Ralph Waldo Emerson's transcendental philosophy of the time, that "through intuition one can comprehend a world in which all of nature bears testimony to a spiritual truth." I think I would have gladly joined these artists if I'd lived back then!

Theodore Rousseau. I'm not sure we'd ever been properly introduced, or maybe I'd just never noticed his work before, but it was love at first sight! The big skies, the moody dark clouds, the abstract textured foregrounds, the roughness of his strokes and the intensity of his moved me. Yum. From the Barbizon art movement, Rousseau was among the first artists to paint outside, traveling to a place and taking a week to paint a large canvas. A WEEK, mind you!

Here's one of his works that I saw in person; I remember the sky being more intensely orange and peach:

"Hoarfrost" by Theodore Rousseau, 1845

Sigh. I need to think Rousseau thoughts this weekend on a few of my Sedona photos, yes?!

Finally, there was a Monet at the very end of the exhibit which simply showed his obsession for dots of light on his wife's dress. He wasn't concerned with were she could have been my backyard or yours. Nor was he concerned with her likeness. It was all about those dots of light on her dress. I know how he feels...I adore those dappled lights filtered through trees that you can chase especially in the spring, at certain times of day. He captured them so bravely, with a tender toughness.

So the good news is that you can chase the light anywhere...Paris, Sedona, a French countryside or the Texas hill country. The thing HAVE to chase your muse. Where ever it is, what ever it may be that inspires you to paint. Look for it wherever you are and you'll most likely find it! Because just maybe, it's really been in you all the time, just looking for the right lense to be seen with.

Happy creating!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Big Plans

So I've had 4 hours sleep which makes dealing with anything stressful...that much more stressful! An early morning trip to the vet and another day of trying to get loan approval on an RV that I'm not even sure about...oh joy!

A thick blanket of fog engulfs the highway and hides the rush hour traffic, making me feel that we are floating in another world. I can barely see the car ahead or the edge of the cliff-like mixmaster that hangs in the air pumping out thousands of cars. A sea of store signs and billboards eerily disappear and reappear like the grinning cheshire cat in Alice's wonderland. Feeling like I haven't a clue about what I'm doing or where I'm heading in life and scared I may be about to make a huge mess of things...I think of the Grand Canyon and wish for some evidence of God and His direction.

The mist has obscured most of the message of this one large political billboard but I can just make out the word, "Truth" as I pass.

The next sign clears and I read, "We've got BIG plans."

A third flashing neon sign shouts, "Join us!"

Hmm. Let's see if I got that. The truth about you and your life is that somebody has big plans for you...bigger and grander than you can imagine. And despite your plans, lack of plans, efforts or failings...the divine master plan is to get you to join Him on His plan or path...even when you can't see where you're going.

OK, that works!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lessons from Zoe

"Open up before God, keep nothing back; he'll do whatever needs to be done: He'll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon."

from The Message, Ps. 37:5-6

I don't know how your week started...but my day wasn't so good. But I happily found this quote on my frig...and thought of how my sweet Zoe always greets each day, each task and each person she meets with such validating enthusiasm. She's completely open to all kinds of adventures...although she may chew off more than she can handle...she trusts that it will all work out in the end.

So I need to embrace some Zoeness today!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Waves of Glory

The Divine Eye

"There is not a planet that wheels a tiny circle around its controlling flame, not a sun that sheds its steady radiance upon the dark depths of neighboring space, not a comet that rushes through its excentric track, not a constellation among all that hang like fantastic chandeliers upon the dome of heaven, that is not the visible statement of a conception which dwells in the Omnipotent Mind. It is through the silent command of Mind that the morning light bursts like a wave of glory over the orderly universe."

--Starr King, a Universalist minister in the early 1800's

Monday, November 1, 2010

Road Warrior

I've decided...I'm becoming an official Road Warrior as I prepare to hit the open road in an RV in the very near future. It's going to be a permanent thang. At least for now! LOL! Hope you all will enjoy following along with me.

Meanwhile, I have many preparations that I'll try and keep you apprised of before I leave. I'm sure it will be a mixed bag of emotions...but I'll be bringing many of you along and taking passengers from time to time, so it won't be a lonely time at all!

Please check out my new blog design online. The picture background is from my recent trip. Let me know what you think, and please leave your comments on my blog.

Your regular visits and comments will help keep my traffic flow high so I can start advertising! Tell your friends about me, too!

Happy trails!

Coming Home to Myself

I left the Grand Canon and had no idea how to navigate back to Texas northwest through Albuquerque. As my cell phone had no service and some folks would call me directionally challenged, I stopped at a Walmart to get a satellite NAV system for the car. I named her "Beulla" since I was traveling through small farming communities.

With my tank full of unleaded and my cup full of leaded, I'm on a java high trying to make it home to Austin by Sunday night, in time to teach pastels at Laguna Gloria Monday morning.

Saturday I traveled until about midnight and crashed in Ft. Sumner, tired from my long trip. Trying hard not to stop and take photos, my resistance eventually wore thin and Sunday I began taking photos from the side of the road.

This was a grimy experience. Wearing 3 inch flip flops, I went slipping and sliding, and sunk deep in the slick, red mud to shoot this cotton field! Glad I had baby wipes, paper towels and spare shoes!

Crazy grass in the background making me miss Sedona already.

You know you're back in Texas because the bugs are bigger when they hit your windshield, always right in the darn center, and the juice spreads a thick opaque film all over when you try to wash it off!

Here's what happened to Holly! She has her own drive-in just this side of Texas from New Mexico!

My alter ego...I used to paint under the name of Holly. Now we know why I don't anymore!

Multi-eco fields: Saw lots of these big wind turbines in fields with oil pumps and cotton.

Lacking major drive-throughs and wanting to avoid the DQ's, I had fun stopping at country convenience stores for gas, beef jerky and coffee--and chatting with the local proprietors. Picked up some peppered beef jerky by "Old Trapper" naturally smoked since 1969. That's my dog's name, so I had to have it! Yumm.

Signs and more signs: In New Mexico I passed a town sign called "Progress" and a bill board that read, "Follow Me. --God". This is a sign in Zephyr, Texas.

Zephyr Baptist Church, historical building.

Either I've had too much coffee or I'm just getting too close to home...I've discovered a propensity for a thick Texas drawl and bad language the closer I get to Austin!

Lots of spirit in Zephyr...this town deserves a field trip back for painting and photo opps. I saved the location in Beulla's memory.

A popular sentiment across the land...not just in Zephyr.

Zephyr homestead

Side note: Passing through Lubbock, with 4 hours and 45 minutes till I get to Austin, I spotted a sign that read, Texas Men's Human Resource Center. Hmm. Are we not too sure that Texas men are in fact human so we have to have a research center to find out? I thought so, too. I've always said Texas men are from another planet! Tee hee!

Somewhere along the road through a maze of back roads and country towns. I have no idea how Beulla got me home, but she did...and fast!

Mental note to self: Texas is like a bad husband who just doesn't want you to travel or do anything new, but stay at home barefoot and cook for him. But you just have to do what you want to anyway! Lord, I gotta get outta here! (Do you hear the Texas twang?!)

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." --Nelson Mandela

Well, Nelson, that just says it all! There's no place like home...and I can't wait to leave again! I think my new home is the open road...stay tuned to find out!

Exiting Right

Saturday, October 23, 3:01 p.m.
Last stop, Desert View lookout, Grand Canyon, AZ.

Some of my favorite sayings are from Nelson Mandela. He is quoted as saying:
"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."

The Grand Canyon and Sedona definitely taught me not to think and dream big, and go for your dreams.

Our pains and fears really can't harm us, especially when faced head on. But when we swallow them--hook, line and sinker--we tend to go down with our pains and fears...into darkness.

I'm learning to fall in love with myself and to be satisfied with all that I am and with what I have to offer myself.

I'm learning that the beauty I see outside of me, is really already a part of who I am.

And that I cannot be separate from the love and beauty I see, think and feel.

So I can never really loose love or beauty. It's inside me, and I create it all around me.

As I exit out of the land of grand self-discovery, I embark on a new path...coming home to myself.

Our Deepest Fear

Saturday, October 23, 2:27 p.m., Navajo Point, Grand Canyon.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking... that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to manifest the glory of God within us.

It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,

we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,

our presence automatically liberates others."

--from Nelson Mandela, President of the Republic of South Africa from his 1994 speech.

Noetics Science Review, Winter 1995

The Grand and Noble View of You

Saturday, October 23, 2:15 p.m., Lipan Point, 7360 feet off the Grand Canyon.

"It is man's foremost duty to awaken the understanding of the inner Self and to know his own real inner greatness. Once he knows his true worth, he can know the worth of others."
--Swami Muktananda

It's very difficult to take in the grandeur of the canyon if you zoom in too closely and only capture the details. A friend pointed out, that if you put in the foreground as a point of reference, the pictures begin to tell a much more amazing story.

In this same way, I started realizing that we often don't love ourselves because we look too closely in the mirror...taking critical note of every large pore, stubborn chin hair, obtrusive zit or new wrinkle. If we would just stand back, and look at the big picture--we'd see how noble and grand we really are!

This isn't to say that we don't all have things to "work on" about ourselves...but have you ever noticed that a friend never seems less than lovely to you? You'd never dream of looking at your friends as critically or closely as you do yourself!

When I paint a portrait, I often design it very up close and personal. But, I'm looking within, at the client's inner light, beauty and color. So, it happens to come out as your nose, lips, eyes and hair--but that's not really your real essence. And that's what I go for--your inner being, your truth. So why not for myself, too?

As I'm painting, I have to stand back frequently, or I'll miss conveying the whole picture. Plus that's when I catch mistakes...not when I'm up close. Interesting. In life we tend to do just the opposite!

So, I'm standing way, way back...and looking for the great good, the grand and noble view of myself. It may take a little practice and a lot of patience...but what a great lesson to have learned from the Grand Canyon!

Maybe, that's what the Master Christian meant by his two great Commandments: To love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself. If you don't stand back and see the big picture, you'll never really get God in your viewfinder, much less your neighbor, or even yourself!


An excerpt from one of my favorite books, Attitudes of Gratitude by M. J. Ryan:

"You are amazing original, the one and only you. You think unique thoughts, express yourself in particular ways, and offer yourself to family and friends in ways that only you can. But I bet you aren't even aware of your beauty, your sensitivity, your quirky outlook on the world. In some ways, it's not possible not to take ourselves for granted--the way we are is just natural to us, and therefore it's hard for us to see just how marvelously wonderful we are."

"That's what's so great about friends: they notice what's wonderful and point it out, and suddenly it becomes visible to us too."

"When we're practicing gratitude, it's easy to notice all the things outside of ourselves we are grateful for--love and friendship and food and laughter--and forget to shine the light of appreciation on ourselves. But we all have splendid qualities, and if we learn to appreciate ourselves, our sense of gratefulness for our own beings will be magnified and our tendency to notice all our flaws and failings will diminish."

"Giving thanks for all our wonderful qualities is one of the ways we learn truly to love ourselves. From that self-love, we can then feel worthy of love from others and have strong, healthy relationships. Because we feel worthy, we can love without being overly demanding, clinging, or rejecting."

"Today, try writing a note of thanks to yourself."