A New Year, A New Studio

chaos!

CHAOS!

You may have been wondering where I have been, so I thought it was high time to check in. Back in December, I realized it was time to start breaking down the gallery. I’m not sad~it would have been sad not to try it and now I’ve satisfied that wish. But that means all that stuff had to go somewhere! Since my family no longer uses the dining room, that was elected. The walls were formerly a dark, cold teal-ish color and I dreamed of a soft, pale pink. I was longing for a feminine space that would welcome me when I entered it. There are a lot of bookcases in there, so it was no easy task to move everything and paint the walls but it is done. I’m nearly out of the gallery completely, and now, as you can see, I’ve got some work to do organizing my new space. Can’t wait! But first, there has been a tidal wave of exhibit opportunities. First I was contacted by a nature center near here that wanted all of my nature paintings for two months. Yay! 29 paintings went there. If they don’t all sell I may have to have a fire sale because, as you can see, there isn’t room for them here. Three more opportunities followed and now every single painting is somewhere. That has never happened before and I’m so excited. Organizing that and the receptions has taken up all of my time. January is zipping by but I think I see daylight.

Many people tell me they’d like to watch me paint, so before all the madness started I asked a friend to video me at my easel. Now I’d like to add music and figure out how to get it onto my computer,  so hopefully soon I’ll be able to share that.

Thank you all for showing interest. It is so humbling to be working away and suddenly realize that others are taking notice. I’m really grateful for all of you!

studio wallHere’s to a wonderful new year for us all. …..And pink walls 🙂

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Sparkling Water

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Sparkling Water

Last August I was invited to paint at a street fair in Racine Wisconsin. I hoped it would be cooler up there by the Lake. It wasn’t. Still, It was all very festive and I shared a tent with another artist who was busy sculpting and a nearby artist was busy firing pottery. He needn’t have bothered to bring his kiln in my opinion but there it is.

This is the painting I started that day. I began with a wash of pink, which you can see peeking through the green here and there. Once I’d painted in the general shape of the stream it was just a matter of indicating layers of greenery. The far shore I softened with a blue-grey wash. That made the foreground pop. A young girl came up and looked hungrily at what I was doing so I handed her the brush and instructed her where to add some green dabs for foliage. She did great, and looked so delighted that it made my day.

Since then the painting has been languishing in my studio, waiting. Finally, now, I believe it is finished.

The rivers around here are depressing to me. Sluggish with mud, choked with brush, not a boulder in sight. I know I shouldn’t judge, but… One day I was walking along the Des Plaines River Trail and came across this little spur. It has been engineered like this, given a meander and some nice big rocks to trip over. It doesn’t fit here, in Illinois, but I like it. It reminds me of home.

spiritsrise2This is a test…my blog seems to have been put in storage and I can’t get it back out. Please let me know if it gets to you 🙂

A Relationship With Nature

20171109_151127A meander through Grant Woods

 

I came across a story yesterday about one of my favorite botanists/authors. Dr. Robin Kimmerer, author of “Braiding Sweetgrass”, asks her students to raise their hands if they love nature. A room full of young environmentalists, of course they all raise their hands. Then she asks them to keep their hands up if nature loves them back. All of the hands come down. They were on fire to fix nature, but didn’t believe that nature would respond to them, would nurture them right back.

When I read that, I felt like a lightening bolt had struck me. Of course! We hear all the time that our natural world is broken. And it is, or nearly so, in some instances. It can heal if we give it a chance, though. But what is really needing our attention is our broken relationship to the natural world. Somehow we’ve gotten too sophisticated, too rational, to believe in the sentience of the natural world. That feels like superstitious nonsense in today’s high-tech world.

Sensitive gardeners know, though. Oh sure, they know they can blast a weed with weedkiller. But they also know that if they pay attention, they realize the specific weed that is growing there is communicating something. Some weeds, for instance, love the acidic soil where your neighbors always let their dogs urinate. Not only are they communicating the condition of the soil to you, if left alone they will help correct the problem. Treading lightly, nurturing one’s soil brings an abundant response in the garden. This is so in forests, oceans, prairies, too.

Have you ever felt a tug at your consciousness as you walk along a trail, and turn your head to see a delightful surprise? Once I was shivering along on a late winter day as the ice was beginning to break up on the river. I felt such a nudge and turned in time to see a river otter gleefully sliding from the ice into the water. There was a time when people took it as a matter of course that the natural world was reaching out to them, speaking to them. Responding. And yes, loving. How much richer all our lives can be if we once again tap into this relationship that is waiting, just outside our door.

In Synch

20170830_133342melissabluefineart.com

Not that long ago…was it two summers ago? I watched the summer olympics and dreamt of being on a horse once again. I was quite taken with the eventing, and the fact that some of the riders were in their 50’s and beyond. “Maybe I can do that!” I thought to myself. (Hah!) But then the commentators would mention how this or that rider had suffered a fractured spine and had somehow come back to compete.  My arthritic joints spoke up at this point and said, “Um, no.”

My riding days are behind me, but I can still indulge my abiding love for horses by occasionally letting them canter onto a canvas. They are very often present in my thoughts and it is fun to let them out once in awhile. This one, and his rider, trotted right out of my imagination so that will account for any awkward proportions. I hope you like my fiery steed! What lurks in your heart of hearts?

A Tree Grows in Grayslake

Bur Oak Silhouette (1)     Bur Oak Silhouette

 

There is something so deeply satisfying about a grand old open-growth bur oak tree, standing there against the horizon. I see this one nearly every day as I drive past it, and thank God and the forest preserve district that it didn’t fall victim to developers. I’ve wanted to paint it for some time, and probably will do another from a closer vantage point. But when I saw this sky, I though the two would work perfectly to convey the power and spaciousness of nature. Often my paintings take weeks to months to complete, but this one came together in just a few sessions over the course of a week.

Sanctuary

20170825_133009Sanctuary

Over the years I’ve spent quite a lot of time out in nature, off-trail (only where permitted). In those many many jaunts I found myself noticing little pockets of shelter, somewhere a plant or a creature might be safe from the elements which can certainly be harsh.

Today there is a Pow Wow near my home~a friend of mine is of Native American descent so he always participates. If the rain stops long enough I plan to go. Oh, the drums and the costumes are wonderful. But what I find astonishing and irresistible is the acceptance you find there. Native Americans have as much right as anyone to harbor a festering hate in their hearts…and yet they don’t. They hold these pow wows in part to offer healing. All are welcomed and even invited to dance in the circle, regardless of race or sex. It is a powerful experience. They aren’t trying to convert anyone, merely spend some time dancing together. It creates a sanctuary of peace, one I hope we can all experience.