Sometimes we see a picture and it takes us back to a particular day and time. A lazy day doing nothing but being together and for some reason we remember the way the grass felt, the sun was shining and the comfortable time we shared.
I am thrilled that Jill Wellington would allow me to use a reference photo for this painting that she provided. I fell in love with this little girl dressed in white with a Christmas bell in her hand. I also love the way this painting came to life on this unbleached linen. This painting was done in oil with a palette knife. I love to learn new things and I have been using a palette knife more and more. This method of painting provides a texture and work with the paint that is hard to replicate with a brush.
Sometimes I am unsure what draws me to a picture but this arrangement was a photo a friend took of flowers from her yard. I think I loved the way the flowers and the vase worked together playing off the colors in each. My frustration is that there are some paintings that cannot be captured adequately in a photo. I think the colors are even better "in person".
This painting was created from a reference photo from Gretchen Hunter from the facebook site, Photos for Artists. This is a wonderful page where photographers share photos that artists can use without copyright infringements. I am thankful for good photographers. You can't always get this guy to come into your studio for a sitting :)
8" x 8" acrylic on wooden canvas - sides painted black
A friend recently asked me to join Alabama the Beautiful and I saw the reference photo for this darling little bluebird taken by Sibyl Davis Parker. She graciously let me use the photo. I love this little guy.
A lot goes into a "home". I am getting ready for a visit from some dear girlfriends. As I walked around my yard to trim and set out some mums I saw the trees we planted 5 years ago and the landscaping we completed. It was hard work to plant but now it looks really good and I feel a certain connection to it as I know how bear the area was and now it needs to be "cut back". A teal colored door, a new coat of paint. Slowly we make a house a home and memories are made.
William Holcomb of Oak Hill Trading Company is a wonderful photographer. Each of his photos tell a story and I am thankful he let me use one of his photos as a reference for this palette knife painting. Palette knife painting is a challenge but especially on a small canvas.
This house reminds me of my grandmother's house. I remember walking in the room and it would be pretty warm even with the windows open and the fan going because Grandmother would be in the kitchen cooking something good in anticipation of our visit. My brother and I called it "country cooking". She had things like turnip greens, black eyed peas and mashed potatoes and of course, biscuits. Sometimes we had country ham. I remember we ran in and out of that screened door and it slammed behind us hundreds of times. Grandmother never seemed to notice. This week I celebrated my Birthday and my grandchildren presented me with homemade cards. I absolutely loved their messages and hope they are holding fond memories in their hearts of the times they've spent with me.
I am always honored when someone ask me to paint for them but I was especially honored to paint this man. The look of peace and gentleness captured my heart. I have known ministers like this in my lifetime. Those who have spent time with the Lord and have that "connection" that makes you just want to be around them, listen to them and try to glean some of their wisdom. When I was young my minister, Alton Parris was that example. I still remember his quiet spirit and his peaceful nature. I have written in the back of my Bible one of his favorite verses he shared with me. Psalm 143:10 "Teach me to do your will, for you are my God, may your good Spirit lead me on level ground." Great verse. I feel like this gentleman also knows that verse and he walks on level ground.
In Key West chickens and roosters walk around wild. They are everywhere. It is against the law to kill one of these birds. According to the wise internet, when the population gets out of control and the predatory hawks migrate out of town, Key West Wildlife Center will loan residents a humane chicken trap to collect unwanted birds. Once caught the resident brings the chickens to the center. There they are provided care and sent off to various farms on the mainland. On the mainland, they are prized for their eggs and go to work as "organic pest control" workers.
I have the cutest sugar bowl that is shaped like a fish. I put that with my favorite vase of daisies on my window seal with a lemon today for a still life painting and the name of the painting came to me immediately because it looked like the fish was kissing a lemon. You know how people say if life gives you lemons then make lemonade? That is such a cutesy little saying but when I was in the grips of desperation, fear and pain it made me want to scream. I was in a place of codependency for several years, worrying every day about a situation that was totally out of control. I tried to manipulate it, make it go away and pray it away. Nothing worked. Now according to Melodie Beatty, "a codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior." I was obsessed.
There is an opioid crisis in this country. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, drug overdose deaths, including those involving opioids, continue to increase in the United States. Deaths from drug overdose are up among both men and women, all races, and adults of nearly all ages. Two out of three drug overdose deaths involve an opioid. Opioids are substances that work in the nervous system of the body or in specific receptors in the brain to reduce the intensity of pain. Overdose deaths from opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic opioids (like fentanyl) have increased almost six times since 1999. We might have a tendency to look at those who are drug addicts as unworthy or "losers". Those who have no desire to have a better life. But I have found that addiction affects people of all socio-economic status, ages and races and many of those want to change. I recently listened to a Super Soul Sunday podcast by Oprah Winfrey when she interviewed Shaka Senghor. This man wrote Righting My Wrongs. I felt that a lot of what he said could be applicable to addict behavior. He had previously spent 19 years incarcerated for murder. His story is that he feels all persons are worthy of redemption. He said he came face to face with his worse moment when he received a letter of forgiveness from the family of the man he killed when he was 19 years old. He could not forgive himself. He realized that forgiveness takes time and that it requires receiving forgiveness and giving forgiveness. He said the second thing he learned was about authenticity. Being real. He told about being in solitary confinement and asking himself, "how did you come from being an honor roll student to being in a place where you are in solitary confinement.?" He then received a letter from his young son who said, "Dad, Mom told me you are in prison for killing someone. Please do not kill anyone Dad. Jesus watches what you do." He realized at that moment he did not want his son to see him as a monster. He hit rock bottom. He looked at his own life and worked his way back to health by writing and embracing his true self and the power of transformation. In the world of AA and NA and ALAnon, we hear the phrase, "rock bottom" a lot. It appears that many times to make a change in our lives we have to come to that place where we want to change. Rock bottom - where there is nowhere to go but up. We desire to be transformed. This week I was the speaker at a Celebrate Recovery group. I am not an alcoholic or an addict. I am that mother, that wife, that sibling, that significant other and that friend who went through hell with the addict. I spoke as a codependent of a former drug addict. My addict was so deep in the throws of addiction I did not see a way out except death unless there was a miracle. In my talk I relayed the truth from my own life that I have learned through that experience. Things I could not have learned without those horrible lemons that came into my life. I found a health that I would not have found. A truth that I now know, and that is, I am the only person I can change. I also know without a shadow of a doubt that there is a God (Higher Power) that can perform miracles. Not exactly the same as lemonade but better! So.....today my family celebrates the wonderful, perfect, unbelievable miracle of 4 years of sobriety for someone we love. This person remains very active in meetings and sponsors others to assist them on their road to recovery. My recovering addict told me today that it is hard to remember how bad those days of the past were because today he is living his best life. I would NEVER want anyone to go through this pain and agony but I am thankful that I learned lessons that helped me in this life journey. I became more of my true self. And I have been kissing lemons all day.
Recently I was in Hamilton, Alabama staying with my long time friend, Judy. Judy's porch and entire home is so inviting. This particular morning the sun was hitting the front porch just right and it felt so "comforting". I love the fact that some of my paintings have ended up in her home.
8" x 8" oil on wooden canvas - sides painted black
The tomato sandwich is a very Southern "thing" and this is the best time of year to enjoy. There are several recipes out there but the best one I can remember is one that was featured in Southern Living many years ago and if I recall correctly it was from my neighbor at the time. This is what I remember:
Slice ripe tomatoes (peel if you want)
Slice vidalia onions thin and place both items in a container with the onions on top of the tomatoes - place in the refrigerator
After several hours or overnight put the tomatoes on fresh, soft white bread or sour dough bread
Add salt and pepper and a mixture of mayonnaise and mustard according to taste
You can add a couple of slices of the onion to the sandwich or not
Today I decided to start a little series of small paintings of common items I found in my kitchen. These little wooden canvases are great. They can be hung without a frame, framed in a floating frame or displayed on a stand. While I was looking through my refrigerator I realized it was past due for a good cleaning out. I took everything out and washed every shelf. I even looked at the expiration dates on all the items. Now this is something I rarely ever do EXCEPT when my grown kids are coming over for dinner. They actually go through each thing in my refrigerator and feel the need to discard everything that is even a little (ok, some of it a lot) out of date. I reminded them that I raised them and none of them ever had botulism that I know of. These three apples are actually fresh and shiny so they made the cut.
This weekend my husband and I attended the 100th Birthday Party of a special friend. Mrs. Biddy Blessing Luna Stewart was my husband's favorite teacher. She taught him in the third grade. We reconnected with Mrs. Stewart about 15 years ago when we moved to Lake Martin and her daughter and husband were our neighbors.
The flowers were on display on the table. The home was lovely and filled with beautiful art. The food and champagne punch were plenty. The party was perfect. There were many friends and family present and Mrs. Stewart was radiant. One of the highlights of the day took place when her children, now grown with grown children of their own and many grandchildren, sang to her. The song "Always" was one that she sang to them when they were young and she rocked them to sleep. Her son, Jeb, sat down at the piano and her other children, Nancy and Blair accompanied him in singing this song back to Ms. Stewart.
I'll be loving you always
With a love that's true always
When the things you've planned need a helpin' hand
I will understand always, always
Days may not be fair always
That's when I'll be there always
Not for just an hour, not for just a day
Not for just a year but always
Days may not be fair always
That's when I'll be there always
Not for just an hour, not for just a day
Not for just a year but always
Mrs. Stewart then stood up and thanked everyone for coming and making her day so special. She said she wanted to give everyone in the room a gift her mother had given her. She then recited a poem from memory. The essence of the poem was that each of us is to bring our best to the world and when you send out love in life, it returns to you. Needless to say, there was not a dry eye in the room. Eric Erickson calls this last stage of life integrity versus despair. Mrs. Stewart is the epitome of integrity. This is where words fail to describe what I want to say. Mrs. Stewart is love. She sends it out to all she meets and all who cross her path. I am so thankful I am one who crossed - always.
Last weekend I spent a wonderful time in Hamilton, Alabama painting outdoors while participating in the Alabama Bicentennial Event. I stayed with my long time wonderful friend Judy. Judy has the gift of hospitality and always makes me feel special and pampered. She also has three cats that belong to her daughter living with her and her husband, John. I am allergic to cats. That means I keep my bedroom door closed at night and I love to watch them but cannot touch them. Jed seems to know that I do really like him but I keep a safe distance. This particular morning I was sitting drinking coffee and Jed watched me intently from his favorite footstool. Jed is a little overweight and is having issues with blood sugar so he cannot have treats at the moment and my heart goes out to him. I think this particular morning he was practicing staying in a peaceful place. Namaste Jed.
I will be painting with a group from Mountain Brook Art Association in Hamilton, Alabama Thursday and Friday. This town has a lot of history. "The city was first call Toll Gate but later the name was changed to honor Captain Albert James Hamilton. Captain Hamilton donated forty acres of his land to the town, surrounding what is now known as the Historic Hamilton-Sullins House. The same forty acres were then divided into lots and sold to help cover the cost of building the courthouse. " (Hamilton Area Chamber of Commerce and Hamilton B.A.S.E. ) I personally love Hamilton. We lived there for 6 years and we were surrounded by people who are so unique. Most of them lived in Hamilton all of their lives. Many went off to college, married their childhood sweetheart and moved back. A very special place indeed full of loving people.
We recently returned from a trip up the coast of Maine. Aquinnah is a town located on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. It is known for it's beautiful clay cliffs and quiet natural serenity.
This morning I got up early, fed the hummingbirds, cut the last of my knockout roses and set up to paint them. I thought I had a great idea in mind. Well......let me just say that anyone who has painted before knows the agony of trying to control Cadmium Red paint. It gets everywhere! I spent an hour washing brushes, the carpet, myself and my dog. There are times when someone will ask me to paint a painting similar to one I have painted before. I can tell you that this will not happen with this painting. If you like this painting I would just say please buy it because I may never paint with Cadmium Red again.