Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Wall Cloud" Oil Painting

18x36, Oil on Canvas

Finished this large sky today.  I like the way that the clouds bleed into the atmosphere.  I was telling my husband that for some reason that is my absolute favorite part of painting a sky.  There is something very tender in that place.

I also love what water in the atmosphere does to the color.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Tree of Dreams" Oil Painting

10x10, Oil on Canvas

I've had this little white tree in my mind for a while now.  Mostly it was a tree with a wispy white top and it sat here in the studio for over four months just looking at me like, "Are you ever going to finish what you started to say?" 

It's really a surreal painting in that it is like a dream, something that was stuck in my mind and had to get out. 

These past few weeks have been some really sweet times with God.  I've felt like He's been chiseling away at me and getting me to see my sins more clearly.  Things like my pride and my need to be "liked" by people have really been apparent to me.  I see how I can think more in a day about my thoughts, my feelings, my desires than asking what are God's thoughts, God's feelings, God's desires.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't think it's evil of me to paint or be passionate about something He has put in me to do.  I do think it becomes a wooden "god" when it becomes so much about the audience instead of the Master.  How does an artist get out of the way of herself?

I wrestled with this so much I even wrote Makoto Fujimura (a renowned artist who is a great thinker but more importantly a great lover of God and mankind).  I have to say I truly thought, "I'm just getting this out.  He won't write me.  He doesn't even really know me." 

This is a little of what I wrote:  "I take great delight in painting and also delight in having a piece sold to someone who enjoys it. I wonder if that entire time I have been feeding myself though. Have my thoughts ever strayed to someone else during that time? I find myself thinking about my work, my thoughts, my feelings throughout the day. The people I admire most, David Brainerd, Lilias Trotter, C.S. Lewis all seemed to understand how to give up their delights and man's acclaim to really pursue something real and wonderful. And when they wrote about God it was as if they had touched the hem of his clothes. You could almost see Him."

That same day he wrote me back!  He pointed me to Romans 7 and 8 and reminded me that the most important thing in life was love.  He pushed me to live in the knowledge that I am a daughter of the King.  Romans 7 talks about how Paul struggles with the things he doesn't want to do but does them. The things he most wants to do he cannot do.  I started to weep reading it as I thought about my struggle.  I got to Romans 8 and it says we can cry out and say, "Abba, Father!"  I thought about being in the dark and how as a small child we could cry out, "Daddy!  Daddy!" and He will come running.  That's how He sees us.  As His own.
 
I will share one of Makoto's paragraphs with you all as it touched me:
"The most important thing is to love. And love is creative; love takes risks. Do not create out of fear, but create through your fears until you find your dreams matching with the great needs of the world. Then you will find yourself "liberated from bondage to decay," and leading others to do the same. Your life will then become God's artwork."
 
In this painting I have the tree "liberating" itself.  It has become so beautiful and in that beauty (the pure white leaves) they are flying off the tree as if to give them to the world and ultimately back to God.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Hills of Mist" Oil Painting

6x6, Oil on Canvas

Just got finished watching, "Ansel Adams" on PBS' American Experience.  This particular one was done by Ric Burns.  He has done some of my favorite documentaries ("Civil War," "New York" and "The Donnor Party" are just some of his work).  I had the pleasure of getting to hear Ric Burns speak at the Eisemann Center about making his documentaries.  I had to go by myself but it was so enjoyable.  He spoke on how Americans love documentaries to see things "as they are."

I have always been in awe of Ansel Adams photographs.  There is such clarity and power in the nature that he loved to share.  I saw that in the interviews with him and in his personal work in the video.  One thing I also saw was this determination to just do work no matter the cost to personal life (i.e. children, wife etc). 

I truly believe that Adams was in love with the American Wilderness.  He passionately saw and felt Yosemite in particular as he would travel from San Francisco to Yosemite throughout his life.  I know I am no Ansel Adams but I found his words to be something that I have said in that he was trying to capture the "feeling of the place."  I tell people that I try to capture in my skies and trees this feeling that can't be said in words no matter how hard I try.

Adams said, "Art is both the taking and giving of beauty; the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the inter-relations of these." 

Even though he did not know Christ he did admit that there was a spirit in the world that was real as he had felt it there many times in beauty.  I like to think that is one of the most powerful ways in which God does speak to us: through beauty.  We take it in as we gaze on a lovely face, a beautiful sunset, a grand vista.  We have no words except to realize the smallness of us and the greatness of that beauty.  Ansel says, "art is both the taking and giving of beauty."  I pray that our lives also give it freely.  That when people see us they see Jesus.  Our beautiful Savior who is the Master Artist.

I finished this little 6x6 on Saturday and like the quietness of it.  I've really gotten into mist lately and want to do more.  So if your sick of it then...well...too bad!  ha!  I like the mystery it communicates as well as the incredible light it filters.  There is so much beauty in this world and I truly love to paint the skies and trees that fascinate me and stir my heart to Him.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Misty Mountains" Oil Painting

6x6, Oil on Canvas

I'm in love with mist and what it does in nature.  Makes me think of a quiet morning on the mountains.  You could almost smell the evergreens.

Want to do this one bigger but tried it small first.

It's just four colors: Titanium White, Paynes Grey, Ultramarine Blue and Olive Green.

"Narnia" Oil Painting (final, I hope!)

Oil on Canvas, 22x28

O.k. so I should stop saying, "final" when I keep going back to this painting with ONE more idea!  But, I do think it's finally finished.  I woke up this morning thinking of making snowflakes with a toothbrush and knife (to flick the toothbrush bristles with) and then coming back and putting some larger flakes in.  I liked the feel of it and then realized, "uh-oh.  The tree branches would have some snow on them..." so went back in there and put some snow on them.  Yikes this painting has so many layers to it...

I wanted it to be like it had just started snowing on already unbroken snow.  Anyway, I hope it makes for cool thoughts.  Maybe this was what Lucy saw when she came out of the wardrobe.  Now where is Mr. Tumnus?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Wall Cloud" Oil Painting

18x36, Oil on Canvas

Just laid down the base colors today.  I will try to go in this week and add the detail (maybe even next week too). 

After driving through Illinois and seeing that beautiful farmland that went on and on for miles I got inspired to paint it with a Wall Cloud.

Palette colors are:  Pthalo Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow Light, Titanium White and Paynes Grey.  I just mixed for the green.

Monday, July 11, 2011

"Narnia" Oil Painting

I know, I said "Winter Twilight" was done but I got the idea to put some thin layers of white across the whole thing and I like it better.

You also may be wondering why this one is called, "Narnia" and not, "Winter Twilight."  Well, I blame it on my artist friend Tempy Berg-Gilbert.  She thought of Narnia when she saw it and I liked that.  I guess I need a lamp post in there somewhere...

Anyway, I felt the thing layers help distance the trees more.  After a few weeks of drying I will varnish and that should help the layers look like a whole.  Another reason I like varnish.