I felt like taking a break from my abstracts to do a still life painting. For several years now, around my Mom’s birthday, I have painted one of her pitchers in her honor. I skipped this year as her birthday was in January, but recently I’ve been clearing out many of her antique items from the estate which we’d kept all these years. I’ve sold some of the silver and have taken boxes of tinware and depression glass over to the Treasure Mart, a local consignment shop. This has gotten me feeling quite sentimental.
I’ve kept her small silver-plated pitcher which does not have much value, but I love the shape. It was down in our dining room and I thought to myself I’m going to do one more pitcher painting in honor of Mom. I also liked the challenge of trying to depict silver. Since we are in the heat of summer, I chose sunflowers. I’ve been thinking and appreciating my three sisters lately and thus I chose four flowers symbolizing the four daughters that Mom had.
It was a fun painting to do and now I’m starting a new painting with the same pitcher next to my cat Tuxie to add to my cat still-life series.
Air Element is the final painting of my element series, it joins the water, earth and fire paintings that I’d done in the last few months. I spent a week just mulling over how to show the air element in a painting. I thought about doing a sky scene with butterflies or some sort of birds flying about. I researched air elemental myths, they are called sylphs, from what I could tell these beings look like wispy cirrus clouds and move about through wind currents helping to clean the air. I liked that idea. Once I thought of wind currents, I decided to have flying birds in the painting.
One thing I love about painting is it inspires me be more observant. That evening as I walked through my neighborhood, I kept looking at the sky and noticing the dramatic clouds as the sun sunk lower. At one point I stopped and watched several swallows feasting on insects as they swooped through the air way up in the sky. I figured that was a sign and chose to do an evening scene with swallows and sylphs.
Swallows with their streamlined bodies and pointed wings are agile flyers adapted to feeding on flying insects. They mate for life and in modern times, the swallow is usually seen as a symbol of peace, respect, love, and loyalty. I painted the sky just prior to sunset with the clouds starting to light up and the sky darken and the wispy sylphs in the air currents while swallows soar through the air.
Saturn is a new painting for my planet series. You may be wondering why I chose grayish color. In ancient times Saturn was associated with lead; it was said that alchemists could lead turn into gold. I liked the idea of painting Saturn as a lead sphere; it brought to my mind happy memories of fishing with my Dad, as we would use small lead balls that we would press on the fishing line to help the baited hook sink. I used to love to fish, it’s been a long time now, but we fished throughout our childhood.
Speaking of dads, Saturn in astrology can represent the father but it also represents a taskmaster type energy. Its placement can be challenging in childhood but over time if worked through it becomes a strength. In the painting I made the rings bright yellow as if they were gold. Years ago, I had a housemate who in her childhood had a recurring dream where she would be hanging out on one of Saturn’s rings feeling loved and accepted. I thought that was so interesting. She was a Capricorn, which is the sign Saturn rules.
I used lots of color to complement the gray color of Saturn. I wonder if there is more color throughout space that one day, we will be able to see. I’m pleased with the painting and like that it’s a little different from the other planets in a Saturn type way. My friend has invited me to the Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience here in Atlanta the weekend which I’m looking forward to. Happy weekend to all!
Venus is a new painting in my planet series. I’ve learned quite a bit about the mythology of Venus from the research I did for a couple of other abstracts last year. The abstract which I named Ishtar, of a eight pointed star symbolized the planet Venus’s star pattern as she travels through space around the sun from our view on earth. Ishtar is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess very similar to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty in Greek mythology. The earlier abstract I painted,Golden Mean Spiral, was based on the spiral pattern found throughout nature. Venus as she continually moves through space in a golden mean spiral forms a beautiful rose pattern. It’s interesting to me that the ancients knew about this.
I started this painting planning to get the star formed around the planet but then I thought I’d already done the star; so, I then decided to paint Venus as she appears in space. Venus is the second planet out revolving around the sun and as seen from earth is always close to the Sun, sometimes she’s the morning star and sometimes becomes the evening star. Those transitions are when the star points are formed in the pattern. Venus is a white planet brighter than the moon and has pink clouds. Here on earth, she appears as a bright white star.
I began to imagine Venus as almost like a pearl from the seashell within the sea from which she was formed in the Greek myth so famously portrayed in Botticelli’s Birth of Venus painting. I put in the sun on one side and used pastel colors, on the other side of Venus, I imagined it as the sea with its mysterious depths. It was fun to play with and I’m pleased with the painting. Spring is here in Atlanta, a great time to see the gold mean pattern and appreciate all the beauty in nature.
Orbs in Space is a new abstract painting that I completed yesterday. It’s quite vivid, I used my favorite rainbow colors. A few months ago, I did a painting of orbs floating among trees and was looking at it which led me to the idea to play with painting orbs again. I started by painting a spiral of spheres across the page and then continued with waves and particles. I recently saw a image of the most magnified human cell ever taken this week and it was amazing. It looked like an intricate abstract painting. I find the idea of space, both inner and outer both having waves and particles being similar in ways so interesting.
My daughter wanted me to decorate for Christmas early this year so I’ve been decorating and listening to Christmas music. It is helping to lift our spirits during this strange isolating holiday season. We usually have a holiday artist open house in the beginning of December and later a holiday eggnog party with friends but not this year. 2020 has been a year like no other. I’m hoping 2021 will be better for us all.
Here is my new painting, Dolphin Pod. During these last two weeks I kept seeing posts about the choice between two America’s on social media and that bothered me. I don’t agree and feel the powers at be like to keep us thinking that way. When the results of the election started coming in, it became clear that while yes, we are very much divided, our democracy seems to be holding up as the votes keep coming in. Intuitively, I know that we are all in this together and eventually we will muddle through this division to unite to form a more perfect union.
This thinking led me to the idea of painting a dolphin pod. I love dolphins and have painted them several times. My first dolphin painting done many years ago was a watercolor, one of those effortless paintings that just flowed onto the page. I loved it, it was a night scene with four dolphins that I saw as symbolizing my three sisters and me. Now it hangs in my twin sister’s living room. This week I decided to paint a group of dolphins in my abstract style. They happily live together in pods and I hope that we humans will get there eventually.
Little Red Hen is my new painting. Years ago, when I made papier mache bowls, one of my most popular motifs was my chicken bowl. Since then, however, I had not felt like doing a chicken painting until now. A few of my Facebook friends have chickens in their yards, and I’ve enjoyed seeing their fun and sometimes humorous photos of their hens and chicks. So, with my new idea of painting images of folk tales, The Little Red Hen came to mind.
I remember the story from childhood and when my daughter was a preschooler, we had puppets illustrating the story. I loved the story of the little hen working diligently over time even though none of her friends are willing to help her and finally she has the yummy baked bread. I made the painting childlike using lots of bright colors, it was somewhat challenging I wanted it to be more abstract then it turned out.
I feel that this year I’ve been a bit like the little red hen, working diligently doing a painting each week and then writing about it here on the blog. I’m also stepping up on the marketing with sharing it on my Twitter feed and my Facebook pages and finally sharing on a new Instagram account. This work is paying off, I’ve been able to push myself in new ways with my painting and am hoping that will eventually bring some extra income in.
Woman with Red Winged Blackbird is my new painting of the week. It’s actually a redo of a painting I did in 2015. While painting my mom in the canoe a few weeks ago, I realized that over time, I’ve gotten a little better at faces; so, I pulled out this older painting and ended up redoing most of it. I feel like her face works a bit better. I then decided to change the crow and make him a red winged blackbird. I took a bit of artistic license as you don’t usually see them at birdbaths. Their habitat is in fields close to water. I used to see them all the time when I was a park ranger leading tours on trails through the marshes.
I’ve admired the works of the Pre-Raphaelite painters of Victorian England who rebelled from the style at the time by painting women with long flowing hair using rich, vivid colors in natural settings. I remember seeing some of their paintings at the Tate Gallery in London back in my early 20’s and being moved by the large size and richness of colors. This painting is a nod to that style.
The last painting of the crow and dove reminded me of the time, as a park ranger, I led a program where I told stories of animal myths from different cultures. While researching for that program I had seen many wonderful animal illustrations in children’s books and decided it would be fun to do an animal series in my abstract style. Swimming Turtle is my first attempt, it’s actually my fourth turtle painting.
Last weekend when a certain politician in the news was compared to a turtle on my twitter feed, my reaction was that was a grave injustice to turtles everywhere. I love turtles and feel fortunate when I spot one in nature. In Native American lore the earth was called “turtle island,” from a tale that the turtle carried the earth on it’s back. In this painting I have the turtle swimming through space.
Balance is a new painting. Last week while painting the dove in an abstract setting; I got the inspiration to continue mixing my abstract style with images. The International Day of Peace is always on September 21st which is on or a day away from the Fall Equinox. I wondered if the reason for this is that we need balance to be peaceful. I am trying to stay as balanced as I can during these crazy times.
To welcome the Fall equinox where night and day are equal, I thought it would be fun to paint a yin yang symbol using a crow and dove. This is my fourth painting of a crow and dove together, in fact the last one I painted, Sooner than Later was in early April, soon after the Covid-19 pandemic began. I wrote in that post; ” I view doves as a symbol of peace and crows as a symbol of magic and transformation.”
It was challenging to get the birds to look right around a circle. I like the whimsical way it turned out and am going to do a series of animal paintings in this style. My hope is that as this season moves forward, we all can maintain some sense of balance and vision of peace for our future.