I’ve been challenging myself to do a weekly painting and this week decided to do a portrait of my Mom. Mom at the Point is inspired from a photo taken by my boyfriend at the time during our family vacation at St. Simon’s Island years ago. I’ve always loved this photo because it captured a side of my Mom that I loved. She took pride in her skill at canoeing which she had learned as a Campfire girl. She had been a tomboy growing up and it showed whenever we were out in nature.
In this picture she was about the age I am now, she let her hair turn grey; she was never vain or overly obsessed with her looks. In that way she was a good role model for her daughters. Mom grew up in Staten Island, New York and compared to my friends’ moms, she didn’t have a lot of the fears or dependence that the southern women of her class had at that time. As an adult looking back at her example, I see that she helped me have a spirit of adventure when I traveled with a similar faith that she had.
In the painting above, Mom has a crab net and is canoeing over to the Point which was a spot where we went to crab at low tide. When I painted this crab below I wrote about our yearly summer beach trip where we had such fun crabbing, clamming and fishing. Here is there is the link to the earlier post: Into the Sea
Moonlit Unicorn is a painting that I started prior to Christmas. Our daughter flew home from NYC on the 18th and brought the flu with her. She got home and went straight to bed for a few days, once she was on the mend, I caught it. Needless to say our Christmas holidays were a bit subdued. We are all feeling better now, she’s out and about with friends and I have finally completed this painting.
I chose to paint a unicorn night scene because I was still thinking about the magical time of the early days of December. Years ago when my twin sister and I were sent to bed, some times our oldest sister would sneak into our room and tell us tales that she made up. I have fond memories of her stories.
When my girl was very young, around two or three at bed time I began making up stories of Grace, a loving white unicorn who would come to visit her. Our first home in Atlanta had a big wooded back yard that sloped down to a creek. It was beautiful. My husband put up a swing set and our girl loved swinging and playing there.
In the stories, Grace would always appear from the woods in our backyard as our girl was swinging. She would take her up on her back and fly her off on adventures. Who knows, maybe that’s one reason why my daughter has such an adventurous spirit.
Jungle Elephant is a new painting in my jungle animal series for my Heni’s Happy Paintings Etsy shop. He is a royal white elephant walking up through the bamboo forest in Northern Thailand. The white elephant is considered sacred and a symbol for royal power there.
Years ago when my husband and I were hiking in Northern Thailand we kept noticing large round holes on the trail, after a while it dawned on us these holes were elephant tracks. The sun filtered lush bamboo forests are lovely and it was quite an adventure even though we never saw the elephants. I put in a full moon in this painting, as a fun memory of an experience we had in Chaing Mai. One evening we were eating at an outdoor cafe when I looked up and noticed the full moon that was being eclipsed, a large shadow was crossing it. I tried to motion to our server to let her know and she smiled and said “moon” probably thinking that I was pointing out the full moon, not realizing that a lunar eclipse was happening. The area was filled with people eating and strolling and it seemed we were the only ones aware of the eclipse. It was such a magical evening.
I painted this royal white elephant for my sister who has a collection of white elephants. She was the one that inspired us to travel to Southeast Asia. She had traveled through Thailand after her stint with the Peace Corps in the Solomon Islands. I’m so glad she gave us the idea. The year we spent traveling was such an enriching experience. It helped me view life and art in a more holistic way. Thanks Melissa!
Jack Rabbit at Dusk is my most recent painting, I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks now. Jack rabbits are well adapted to their dry grassland habitat with their large ears, long lanky front legs and big powerful rear legs. I find their looks strange and striking.
Years ago, my twin sister and I bicycled across the country. We left in early June just after my sister’s college graduation, it took us two months to bike from Georgia to crossing over the Golden Gate bridge into San Francisco. Until this adventure we had never been west of Alabama. I have been thinking about that trip lately. I love biking, the slow pace and being out in the elements. I remember traveling through the country roads, enjoying the feel of the sun, the wind, the sounds, smells and sights of the places we traveled through. On our journey as the days went on, we began to realize that dusk and dawn were magical times when all of nature came alive with the birds and insects beginning their serenades against the backdrop of the orange sun low in the sky making long shadows that stretched across the landscapes.
One late afternoon having made it into the Idaho countryside we began to set up camp in a potato field. As dusk approached suddenly out of nowhere several jack rabbits started appearing in the fields around us. They came from all directions. We had never seen a jack rabbit before, they didn’t seem to be bothered by our presence. They were huge compared to the eastern cottontail rabbits we were used to seeing. It was such a surreal moment, and so beautiful with the low sun and shadows dancing on the jack rabbits. I will never forget that experience. This painting doesn’t really do it justice but I wanted to try. I am fairly pleased the him and hope you are also.
The Twins is my most recent painting. It is is another painting for my Heni’s Happy Paintings Etsy Shop. I wanted to create a fun, happy outdoor scene and tried to show the special bond that identical twins have. I have an identical twin sister and we had that special bond. We came into the world together and share the same genes. Technically, we are mirror twins; I’m a lefty and she’s right handed, which means our egg split late, after nine to ten days.
Even now after living apart for so many years, we still have the same mannerisms. As I wrote on my about page, my twin and I were the youngest in our family and spent most of our time together in our own world, running around outside and playing pretend endlessly. I think that helped us to be creative as adults. Both of us are in happy marriages and I wonder if that has to do with being in a partnership from day one and learning how to give and take at an early age. I love my sister and am glad she is my twin.
I’ve just completedLemons in Mom’s Antique Yellow-ware Mixing Bowlin honor of my Mom’s birthday which is on January 27th. It was fun to paint a formal still life that I think she would have liked. She had several antique yellow-ware bowls and used them daily in her cooking. I remember mixing many batches of chocolate chip cookie batters in her large bowls.
Mom loved to cook and so did Dad. These days they would have been known as “foodies.” Our life growing up revolved around food. Together they made breakfast every weekend which varied from waffles or corncrakes to homemade biscuits, scrambled eggs and grits. It seemed like most weekends they had dinner parties at which Mom tried out new recipes from her women’s magazines and cookbooks.
The holidays were always about the special meals. From black-eye peas, greens and cornbread on New Years; leg of lamb and mint sauce on Easter; and barbeque pork from Dad’s big smoker outside on the 4th of July. On our beach vacations we had seafood feasts nightly. Christmas was all about the food. From the oranges, special cheeses, plum pudding and Virginia ham that arrived on our doorstep to all the special dishes and desserts that mom and dad would prepare. I have fond memories of going with Dad to the seafood store to pick up our yearly bushel of oysters. On Christmas Eve we had oyster stew, which my sisters and I hated when young but grew to love later. The big event was Dad making the traditional Virginian eggnog in one of the big yellow-ware bowls.
Mom was a northern girl and she served cow tongue, corn beef and sauerkraut, and ham with spoon bread and lots of casseroles and steamed vegetables that still retained their color. My southern friends all thought our food was weird. I was not a picky eater and loved it all. Through Mom I learned that cooking is fun and to enjoy all kinds of food. Thanks Mom!
Here is my most recent painting, Young Gibbonfor my Heni’s Happy Paintings Etsy shop. It completes the rainforest series which also include the tiger and crocodile paintings. I chose to paint a gibbon after a special memory I had from our travels similar to the Sumatran tiger painting.
On our Southeastern Asia trip, my husband and I spent a couple of weeks trekking in the rainforest mountains of Northern Thailand. We hiked all day through the gorgeous rainforest scenery and then spent the nights in small villages with the native peoples. We continued hiking higher in the mountains until we reached the Burma (Myanmar) border and could go no further, it surprised us that we had trekked that far north. That evening we turned off on a side path and happened upon a guest house, another surprise as we had not seen any guest houses for days. It was owned by a French woman and there was only one other traveler staying there, an young Israeli. We spent a great evening sharing stories about our travels. The woman had a baby gibbon that she had rescued from poachers, he was adorable. He was not allowed much human contact as she eventually wanted to release him back to wild but in the morning she let me play with him just after his feeding.
Although gibbons look like monkeys, they are actually small apes. We saw several on our trek and loved watching them travel through the tree branches and vines with ease. Young Gibbon is painted in honor of that baby gibbon who I hope was eventually set free to soar.
Late one night in the wee hours I awoke to a strange shrill cry outside the window which is just above our bed. I looked up and saw a crow staring at me from the ledge who then flew away; it was very startling and a bit frightening. I had heard crows can be omens of death; luckily nothing bad came to pass. The crow in this painting seems to me like he is standing on a window ledge somewhere in a Mexican Village looking down on a festive evening, perhaps the Dia De los Muetos.
I learned about the Day of Dead years ago when we lived in Oakland California. Each year the Oakland Museum had a wonderful Day of the Dead exhibit of colorful alters done by various local groups. The Dia De los Muetos is a Mexican holiday celebrated on this day where families gather to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. Happy Day of the Dead to all!
I wrote my first blog post a year ago today. I was nervous about starting a blog because I’m a pretty private person. I consoled myself thinking not many would read my writing anyway, we are all so busy, so I went ahead and decided to try it. I posted a crow painting and wrote a very personal piece in memory of my dad who was born on this date. What I’ve discovered surprisingly is that it has been fun to write and express the thoughts and stories behind my paintings. It’s been like jumping in to cold water, it starts warming up after a while. I’ve enjoyed connecting with other bloggers and following blogs that catch my interest. I feel a sense of community with people all over the world. I’m glad I took the plunge.
Speaking of my dad, I think he has been a big influence on why I enjoy writing. He grew up during the depression in Virginia before television. Time was slower then and his family would hang out playing music and listening to stories. He got the story telling gift; he was perfectly at ease being the center of attention and could tell a story that would keep anyone interested. My sisters and I heard fun stories about my dad’s childhood: like hunting for squirrels, or how he pretended to hate whipped cream because he got special attention for that, the way he swept mom off her feet when they first met, their fun first years together and on and on. My oldest sister was an english major in college and is a natural writer, she writes an excellent monthly astrology column, Heavenly Messages, which she posts on her website here. My twin sister is a gifted poet and is planning on publishing a daily Christian devotional soon. I think dad would be happy about his influence on us and I wonder what he would have thought about blogging. Happy birthday Dad, thanks!
I have begun a new series of paintings with children as the focus. A Girl with Two Red Birds is my first one and I am pleased with her. A few years ago after my parents had passed away, my sister Melissa mentioned to me that whenever she saw a cardinal pair she thought of mom and dad. I liked her thought and since then I’ve noticed that each spring we have a cardinal pair settle in our yard and now I too think of mom and dad when I spot them. My parents were from the World War II generation and went through ups and down as most couples do, but in general they loved each other and got along well. They had shared interests which helped. Both enjoyed gardening and feeding the birds. I can still picture them sitting in the sun room getting excited about the various song birds feeding and bathing in their backyard garden. In this painting the girl looks centered while she holds two bowls with the male and female birds balanced on each side of her.