Friday, July 30, 2021

the ship of pearl

 "This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign, Sails the unshadowed main,—

...Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!"

The Chambered Nautilus

Thursday, July 29, 2021

chambered nautilus

I am posting this painting for sale on my facebook page today. Here is a link to the day that I originally posted about it here on my blog. And I painted the same shell twice. Here is the link to the first painting. At that time I didn't name the paintings, merely numbered them to go with my painting a day project.  These were numbers 11 and 12 and I was on a powerful roll with all that painting exercise!

I didn't realize that this shell is a chambered nautilus. I hadn't researched all my collection of shells from the Philippines, they are very precious to me for sentimental reasons. This one is fairly large, you can see it in the photo above in relation to the 8x10 framed painting. I bought it from a shop while on a trip home to the Philippines years ago.
I looked up some research about the Chambered Nautilus and came across two things that inspired me. One is this tempera painting by Andrew Wyeth titled "Chambered Nautilus" which at first glance shows a woman lying in a bed looking away, out a window. It is a profound and deeply moving piece of art which will stay with me a long time.    Andrew Wyeth’s “Chambered Nautilus.’’ ANDREW WYETH  

Here is a quote from a 2012 article in the Boston Globe. "You can see it in “Chambered Nautilus,’’ one of a handful of Wyeth’s exquisite, gritty tempera paintings in a penetrating show, “Andrew Wyeth: Looking Beyond,’’ now at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. The painting, made in 1956, depicts his mother-in-law, Bess James, confined to her bed. She sits up, bony hands wrapped around raised knees, gazing out the window, which is a sheet of pallid light. A nautilus shell glistens on a dull wooden chest at the end of her bed. With extraordinary precision, Wyeth captures the smallness of Bess’s world, the contraction of her days. Her stringy, unwashed hair suggests the depredation of illness. The nautilus itself is a metaphor for life's containment. Yet it seems to shine with its own light, as if even the most ordinary of lives is imbued with dignity and beauty. You only have to look to find it."
I will never look at my shells with the same affection now, but with much deeper meaning. 
The second inspirational thing I came across is a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes titled "The Chambered Nautilus" which seems to describe much about the cycle of life and death that it is certain Andrew Wyeth is on familiar terms here. 
You know I love poetry and quotes to go with the art so I will save that for another post.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

a planet without flowers and painting number 27

"How extraordinary flowers are... People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us."
Iris Murdoch -  A Fairly Honourable Defeat, 1970.
Another small daily painting finished but with many interruptions and starts and stops. This falls into the things left undone category that I've been trying to accomplish. I finally finished it but have a lingering sense of unhappiness about it. That's the battle, get to work, do the best you can, pick yourself up and get back into the fray.
I like the pink background better than the rendering of the flowers, the tulips have a crazy red stripe pattern that is hard to "get" and I still don't feel like I've figured out how to capture the luminosity of flowers. These were picked in early spring in my own yard. So many flowers, so little time to paint them all!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

the masked shopper strikes again

I posted about this quest before.  Shopping, lurking in the produce section searching for the best subject to paint from life. I don't care about cooking, shopping is only an occasion to pick up objects and wonder how I would paint that. I brought all of this home yesterday when all I needed to get was a few limes. The limes were large and juicy which made me think, I should have painted a couple of still life studies of only limes, Because I love limes, green and tart and good in a glass of water or a gin and tonic. 

And that made me think, maybe I'll paint a series of salsa ingredients. I did the guacamole series. Here.

But maybe I should substitute out the painting of the red pepper and green onion for a lime or a couple of juicy limes paintings.

Yeah, that's it.

And then I'll do a series I will call my salsa series. Big fat tomatoes in season now! Another tomatillo or two. Poblano peppers, serrano, jalapeño, more onions and garlic too.

Grocery store, produce section, most inspirational place in town.

Monday, July 26, 2021


“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”⠀
~ Aristotle⠀
I finished or have almost finished another small painting, it is a companion piece to the snow scene I painted back in February. Here's the post I wrote that day.  (Not a snowflake escapes.)

And then in April I posted a new photo, (yesterday and today) so exciting to look at the same scene outside the same window and be delighted, to marvel at the springtime colors and light. I started another painting that week of the transformed and marvelous scene but didn't finish it until this week. So odd to be revisiting the glorious spring excitement on a hot July day, but that is how the year unfolds, time and time again. I began the painting from live observation looking out the same window but was interrupted at some point in the process so I took photos and had to finish a 3-D experience from 2-D reference.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

things left undone

Every Sunday, we do “prayers of the people” at church. We pray for our church, our community and the world. We pray for the sick, the lost and those in darkness.

The next thing we do is a prayer of confession. After a moment of silent confession, we say these words aloud…The Deacon or Celebrant then says Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

The Bishop when present, or the Priest, stands and says

Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life.  Amen.

Things left undone weighs on me, so many things unsaid or not generously done. I always have to stop and give that part of my confession some thought.

But what I want to say in this, my art blog is that I have such a load of unfinished paintings!

I counted at least 20 small and large unfinished, undone parts of my life sitting on shelves and waiting for attention.  Maybe not as significant as my other sins which I do confess, but I can't feel at ease until I finish some of these unfinished canvases. So many of these I began in a rush of excitement from the direct observation of my thrilling subject but allowed distractions to intrude and ended up setting it all aside thinking I can finish later from a couple of photos. The prospect of getting back to it from a photo is never very exciting and I put it off. And then I start another unfinished piece!

I vowed to finish a few of these now in July while I have some time between summer adventures. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

are you still doing that artsy stuff?

Here is my snarky art facebook post today. Hoping for some reactions but seriously... if I post a photo of my twin grandchildren I will most definitely get all the likes, artwork? not so interesting.

Many have asked me "Are you still doing art?'.

Um, yeah like ask me if I still breath, or do I still eat chocolate, or do I still open my eyes every day. I don't intend to be silly, most people are being kind, friendly, and they mean well especially after I show them how many grandchildren God has blessed us to hold.
(on the left, myself, 10 grandchildren, and my husband after a beach vacation trip) (husband is asking me "when are we going to stop torturing these children?")

My favorite friendly query of all time is "Are you still doing that artsy fartsy stuff?".

Yes, is the answer and my shelves of small paintings are getting filled up so I would like to offer some for sale to my fbook f&f.
For the next few weeks I will display a painting every day with a price in the comments.

I think enjoying a piece of art is often enhanced by a backstory. Why did the artist make this? What was going on at that particular time? Was the artist listening to music that influenced ideas? Choices, decisions within the mind of the artist all make part of what you are looking at.  

Here is the first painting to post: Thanks for reading all this if you have been able to get this far!
It's a simple pot of tulips and little daffodils painted from life on a cold day in early winter. I bought the subject at the grocery store and set it in front of my studio window to study.
I have framed it in a minimal white wood frame. My preference. It is 8x10 oil paint on linen canvas. I'm only asking $140. with the frame and will ship it within the continental USA.
Backstory; if you want to read more.

Monday, July 19, 2021

calling this my guacamole series

 I painted these small still life studies when I was busy with a painting a day project. It was supposed to be 30 days, 30 small paintings. I don't think I reached 30, maybe 27?

I was caught up with the idea of the onion, jalapeño, garlic, tomatillos, red pepper, and avocados. I should have done a lime! And I think the red pepper and green onion might be apocryphal.  
All for the sake of art.
I think this grouping would look great displayed at a Mexican restaurant. I have a favorite one in mind...

Saturday, July 17, 2021

hard work

 If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery. It wouldn't seem so wonderful at all.

― Michelangelo
We went to an exhibit of the monumental paintings from the Sistine Chapel reproduced and displayed on large panels. It was nothing like the experience of visiting the real thing which we did back in 2015.

Friday, July 16, 2021

then put this into a painting

 Even though you share countless similarities with others, you are unique. No one has your mind or your feelings. They do not notice what you notice, and do not have precisely the same sensitivities or fears. No one longs to embrace life or ponders death and beyond as you do, No one is human in the exact same way as you are. Once you understand this, your task is to get in touch with yourself. Find out what moves you, what you believe in, what you truly understand about life, who you are, and what this great experience of being alive means to you. Then put it in your paintings.  RICHARD SCHMID 1943-2021

After varnishing day was over and everything felt and looked dry enough and ready to frame, I put a number of the small paintings into simple frames and arranged them on my dining room table.  How satisfying at this moment to look at my efforts from the past six months all displayed like this.  I am unique, no one notices the exact same things that I do and here is a diary, a journal of my past months that is intensely personal.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

varnishing day

 I rounded up all the small canvases resting on the shelves and did a big varnish day. Now what to do?

Saturday, July 3, 2021

reward for toil and painting number 26

"The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it."
~ John Ruskin.
I sliced open another avocado and got to work. Painted with intense concentration as quickly as possible to capture the creamy greens and yellows from life before the whole thing turned brown under the studio light. Art is satisfying but it is also work. 6x8 oil on linen board painted from life.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

as you grow older and painting number 25

"As you grow older, it dawns on you that you are yourself-- that your job is to not force yourself into a style but to do what you want. I saw that if I would accept subjects, I could paint with more absorption, with a certain enthusiasm for the subject which would allow some of the aesthetic qualities such as color and composition to evolve more naturally. With subjects, the difference is that I feel a natural development of the painting rather than a formal, self-conscious one."

David Park (David Park was an American painter and a pioneer of the Bay Area Figurative Movement in painting during the 1950s)
As I painted this avocado with a spoon I contemplated this quote which came from the class that I took from Duane Keiser, the well known "painting a day" artist.
I grew older and a bit more skilled and wiser with every painting that I have done since taking this class. And a bit of other "growing older" was that to paint this in the "premier coup" or "alla prima" method, not from any photographic reference but from life in the moment, I had to paint fast. The avocado turned brown, withered, old and black by the time I had finished the background so I had to plan carefully and work with quick intention.