Monarch on Coneflower
Changes fascinate me. As I sit here, I can gaze out at my sodden garden. Unusual warm temperatures hastened blooms, and now it has turned cold and wet. We’re getting quite a lot of rain which seems welcome to me and my button bush. Life teaches us that all things must change, and yet we seem to resist this. Perhaps we should be asking, “what about these changes might be good?”. Just a thought.
There is change going on in my studio as well. As you can see from this lively Monarch, I want to move away from the strict reporting of the facts of representational painting toward a more intuitive response. I’ve been reading about Georgia O’Keefe and am inspired by something she spoke of. Rather than stand outside of creation and report on it, she wanted to paint from the midst of creation. I love the idea of that, and will be exploring it in my own work.
For my Monarch painting, I felt that the blue-lavender background was too static. I wanted to suggest movement and energy, and thought broken color at the top of the canvas would do that. When the paint started to drip, I decided I quite liked that and so encouraged some more colors to drip. Too fun!
So that’s what I’m up to. What changes are you noticing in your life?
“Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness for anyone.”
~Dame Edith Cavell
This past weekend I was asked to paint on location at a new store in our area, called Summer’s Boutique. It is a wonderful shop featuring up-cycled furniture and art objects. If you are in the area, look it up. You’ll be delighted with the treasures you’ll find.
I had it in mind to create a demure botanical painting with a nearly white background. By now I should know, that just wasn’t going to happen! Yesterday the painting and I had a long discussion, and this is how things turned out. I’ll never be invited to join a botanical art society, that’s for sure 🙂
I just finished this painting this afternoon and am pretty excited about it. This is my very first memory. It took place shortly after my mom married my step-dad, and he took us out to the redwood forest that grew behind his little cottage. I will never forget how I felt, standing before that spongy, felty red log sprouting ferns and moss. I felt a Presence there, enveloping me and claiming me. I was flooded with a sense of belonging. Even though that stand of redwoods has been clearcut, never to return, it lives on in my heart. The Presence I felt there has been my guiding light ever since.
It isn’t just trees, with me. There also lurks in my heart a passion for horses, and I am fortunate enough to live near the Temple Lipizzan farm. As a child living in Brazil I saw these horses perform and it made an indelible impression on me. Many years later, when I was expecting my first child, I learned that they would be performing in Peoria where we lived at the time. My son was born shortly before the performance, so off I went, brand new baby in tow! You can imagine my delight then when I realized their home was very near mine when we moved to northern Illinois. I get to drive by and see the mares in their pasture this time of year, and wait with bated breath for the babies to begin to appear. They are born black, and over time turn classic white.
Here I’ve painted a stallion performing a piaffe~a collected trot in place. I’ve placed him next to the pillar on the one side, and indicated a tree beyond him. In the Spanish School of Riding the horses are taught a series of elegant dressage moves as well as “airs above ground” , moves that served to protect a rider in battle. The pillar represents the years of training a horse and rider undergo to be able to perform at this level. The tree represents nature, for these horses are not forced. The people who own Temple Farms are proud that sometimes their gleaming white horses have grass stains, and the movements are stylized versions of actions the horses do naturally. So a beautiful dancing Lipizzan is a wonderful union of nature and human endeavor.
Melissa Blue Fine Art
There is a curve of the Des Plaines River that often catches my eye as I drive past. I like how the tree leans out over the water, and have thought that it would look lovely with snow. We’ve only had one snowstorm this winter, so on that morning my son and I grabbed our boots and headed out. All was silent as big fat snowflakes fell. It was really lovely.
I did this painting in oil. As many of you know, I’ve been wanting to switch to eco-friendly oils. It has been an adjustment to be sure but worth it to know that rivers are not being polluted that I may have paint. This is messy stuff to work with. I mix the colors myself with walnut oil and am usually pretty well pigmented by the end of the day! Mixing the oil into the powdered pigment is meditative. And fun!
Melissa Blue Fine Art
This painting has been nearly a decade in the making. That is kind of embarrassing to admit! Usually if a painting is just not working I paint it out and use the canvas for something else. This one, though, I always felt could be worth finishing. Finally yesterday I realized what I needed to do was to run a wash of light color over all the detail my younger self felt was so important in the far meadow. And just like that, the painting resolved itself. This seems like a metaphor for life, really . When I simplify, I find things become more clear.