Join me....

I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Finishing a project is always a relief.  
Sometimes the closing stroke leads me directly into
a repeat of the process so giddy I am with lessons learned
and a willingness to apply them again.  Other times...well, 
other times it takes a while to digest what was
gained and how to apply it elsewhere.
This is one of those "other times."

You may recall how I got into doing a church banner from a previous post on this project.  I seem to go where angels fear to tread and this was no exception: piles of mismatched cloth, no patterns, no experience...only a willingness to brighten the altar in some way with textile.

 When I last wrote I think I was having a "dark night of the artistic soul" moment, not at all sure I could pull it off.  I was consulting quilt shop owners unabashedly showing my ignorance in hopes of some guidance.  Which they happily provided.

I had never "quilted" on a machine before and having a dinosaur at my disposal there was no way I could pull off those fancy swirls and circles I longed to include.  And it would have been years before the finish line to do it all by hand.

I had read that taping it to the floor was an assist in lining up all the pieces if one did not have a large table.  So my husband consented to assist and we did our best to square up the front, the filling and the backing in our hallway.

A bazillion safety pins later i was able to trim off enough of the excess material to be able to get an idea of what this piece would look like hanging.  I still was not satisfied with the edges and I could also see that they were not even enough to stand as they were.  Head scratching time for sure.  Meanwhile I began to sew all three pieces together in what would appear to be the "quilting."  I chose to make the words stand out as single units and then to outline each of the interior squares on all fours sides and the trim just outside the ditches.  Quilt-speak I learned from the gracious shops I consulted.

Brainstorm on purple edging and miles of stitching later...husband stops by to hold it all up so that I can see how it hangs before completing the final trim and loops.

try out day: it fits!
also appears that bottom weights will be optional

less wonky when viewed straight on

Whew!  Brought it home to sign on the back and call it done!  I hope that when folks find their cloth pieces in this banner they will realize that the real message here is that only when we work together are we truly one.  I was challenged with making a lot of strange colors harmonize, with trying to get the loose weaves to cleave to the heavier pieces and with trying to include a little bit of way too many fabrics.  Reminds me of many committees I have been on, not to mention family gatherings or large parties.  But if it can be done half way pleasingly with fabric, just imagine what we would build with personalities?  I know, trite, but a lesson well worth being taught over and over again.

Glad to put this one to rest.

Colorfully yours,

Friday, May 19, 2017

Moroccan Mint Tea

It didn't take long for us to fully embrace the custom
of hot Moroccan mint tea.  Served in a metal tea pot
and drunk consistently in glasses, it was offered everywhere:
during sales of goods, after dinner, mid-morning and late
afternoon.  It was almost too sweet for my palate
but always served with sweeping arm motions (which made 
the pour long and arcing) that always made it
into a visual ritual of celebration.

I began to call this painting a jig saw puzzle

I would find myself lost in the color blocks, duplicating shapes without regard to
what they became a very zen painting experience, slow and methodical

the strain was not to rush into the "fun" highlights too soon,
nor give in to the urge to use the real "gold" paint too early.

Moroccan Mint, 12 x 12, oil on board
black frame

Zen Fully Yours,
p.s. just for fun, see if you can find at least 3 people in this piece, any luck?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Spice Market Magic

Just as "luck" is where preparation meets opportunity,
painting "magic" is where persistence meets inspiration.
Why is that old work ethic such a vital ingredient...
and why do we expect we can be the lone exception?

Back to the souks (markets) in the medina (walled city) of Marrakech: color! shadow! light! all tempt the artist in me.  With such over-the-top visuals it 'should' be easy to replicate the feeling one gets in the narrow dark labyrinth of shops displaying their wares. Right? Right?

This image was so clearly burned into my minds eye that I doubted I would need the photo for reference.  I began in watercolor....not very successfully I judged.

But I took the time to do something all my instructors have urged: evaluate. I made notes, I drew lines, I pretended to be the teacher.

I made another pass, slowly this time, taking care to refer to my notes. Watercolor is (have I said this before?) so unforgiving.  But I liked the light cast.

Now to try a different medium.  Since it dries quickly I decided to do an underpainting in acrylic paint.  This would serve as a guide for my light and shadows and let me get into the guts sooner.  Like warming up with musical scales or stretches before a run.

The Spice Trade
8x 6 oil, available framed,  $50

And I began to work with the oil.  So clearly now I can see where it needs loosening up and reigning in.  I am just now beginning to understand how I really want to execute this scene.  I don't think we
are finished with this yet.....but I feel the "magic" starting to bubble.

Back to the easel,

Friday, May 5, 2017

Open for Business: Marrakech

I can't resist another painting share from Marrakech  
where I enjoyed the vibrant colors as well as the cultural
differences.  Outside the Medina (the old city) stores looked
very European, but it was the shops inside the walls that
caught my painter's eye.

I had plenty of time waiting in airports to play with some sketches and was anxious to try them out first in watercolor when I got home.  This was a daily scene on the way back to our riad and I loved that the weavings exposure to the elements seemed not to bother anyone (except maybe me).

I then took a 12 x 9 canvas and laid down a first pass keeping the paint very thin and drip-y.  I wanted to see if the drips left to dry added something of interest to this vignette.  I played around with the walls and shadows for quite a bit...I think I was anxious to get into the colors and patterns but afraid I would abandon the hard work around them if I jumped in too soon. Like waiting for desert.

I decided to preserve most of the drips, there was no other way to let you know that the street was pitted and uneven without distracting from the blankets.  And I wanted you to be more intrigued by the shadow of the person coming down the street than interested in the road.

When I finally did get into the weavings I enjoyed them like a bowl of ice cream, slowly working my way around the light and shadow and trying to get just enough suggestive pattern that you would know they were all unique.

"Open for Business," 12 x 9, oil on canvas

I like this piece.  I like the lines and minimal composition as well as the limited color.  I think it also
captures a feel for shopping outside the darker souks.  I was sorry to be done when I finished.

If you have been to this fascinating city and are interested in the art send me an e-mail ( as I will soon deliver them to the Crossnore Fine Arts Gallery, in Crossnore, NC.  

Traveling in Living COLOR,

Friday, April 28, 2017

Souks & Shadows in Marrakech

Many artists profess to "paint the light."
But to show the light one must also paint shadow.  
For some reason, I have always found the shadows
 more intriguing to paint as a subject than light.  There's
a mystery in the shadow...and opportunity for a lot of color.

The markets of Marrakech are a labyrinth of dark passages, twists and turns with occasional bursts of sunlight either from the roof openings or from the arched exits leading to the streets.  The lights bounce around giving shape to the shadows and changing the colors from bright to burnished along the way.

I began the painting above from a photo taken on a Friday morning when traffic in the souks is slow due to the holy day.  Can you find the faint beginnings of two people in this vignette?

I actually started this piece as an abstract...I so badly wanted to leave it that way but something in me keeps pushing for the detail, perhaps a fear that you won't know what I am portraying if I don't give you enough information?  This was going to be a challenge to bring the viewer right into the souk, let them look around and then follow the passage way out.

"Called to Prayer"
14 x 11, oil on canvas, framed

Now enjoy the colors of the shadows...grey, brown, dark greens, reds and every other shade.  The "light" patches would not be so interesting without the tremendous support of the shadow. And in this piece there is very little of what we artists refer to as "mid tones."

Now can you find the two figures?  Look closely.  There is a sole man behind the stack of twine balls.  The second?  It could be you: examine the shadow in the lower middle section just left of the basket base.  

Mysterious Marrakech.

In the Shadows,

Friday, April 21, 2017

A box of JOY

Did you ever have a "pen-pal"?  There was something magical 
to me about getting mail from someone I had never met.
I loved the exchange, the doors of curiosity that were opened, and
the almost-weekly treat of a new story to read.

Those were the days of "snail mail" and as much as we maligned the postal service I could hardly wait til he came each just never knew what might land on your doorstep.  So it was with that same giddy enthusiasm I read about Anne Butera's "Joy Exchange" idea.  You can read here how she issued an invitation; it was only minutes before I signed up.  Yeah, it was partly selfish: I do like receiving surprises in the mail (Amazon is rarely a surprise).  But I also thought it would be a neat way to connect to other "makers."

Anne planned it by leapfrogging the assignments.  I would send to someone who sent to someone else.  In other words, at the least you would have contact with two people.  So when I got my name I contacted her to send a little pre-joy joy and let her know her package would be on its way shortly.

I made a little card she would find when she opened the box, I didn't want
her to miss any of the goodies packed inside.

Since my field is mainly painting I decided to include a small painting of the sunrise
from my bedroom windows (sunrises are pretty joyful, no?) and then
threw in some other doodads just for fun: handmade cards, fire starters,
bookmarks and so on.

So just like the child who loved pen-pals I had my eye on the mail box for a couple of days...excited, curious and intrigued.  With 40 participants we were told our joy could come from one of either 16 states or 7 countries.  Would my box offer a trip to the atlas?  no was not long before I received a gracious email from the recipient of my box.  Boy, that made me feel good, even joyful.

So one week passed with nothing in my mailbox.  Oh well, anticipation is part of the fun, right?

Hmmm, two weeks went by and I quit looking for the postman.  Disappointed, I consoled myself with the thought that the bigger lesson here was to learn the joy of giving joy. That finding happiness in preparing and gifting should (should) provide all that was needed for JOY in capital letters.  Still. Still...

OK by week three I was totally convinced, and convicted, that I had learned the lesson of giving and it had NOTHING to do with receiving or exchanging.  So I began to spew out one-way joy everywhere I could: extra eye contact and chatter with my waiters, quips at the hardware checkout, love at the gas station when I got my soda and even longer, personal exchanges at the grocery checkout.  I was a rolling box of JOY and it felt kinda nice.  This was cool.

And then one day....when all expectation had vanished:

a small package with a ton of lovely stamps appeared in my mail box... from Algeria!

it was wrapped like a spring basket, all colorful and whimsical...

and a dose of joy emerged: a tiny handmade journal and 3 gift tags all embellished with delicate, hand crocheted flowers..... but along with the gifts was no identification, not a name, not a story, not even an email address so that I could thank this crafter for taking the time to send me her offering.  She sought nothing in return from me....the true essence of giving.  so wow.

Thanks Anne Butera for this timely spring "devotional."  I not only enjoyed the exchange but it made me think about numerous things.  And as I use my gift tags and write in my new little book, I will also be mindful that the joy we spread with absolutely no thought of a kick back should be its own reward.

Joy Fully Yours,