Friday, January 25, 2013

"Blue Smokies" Oil Painting

12x48, Oil on Canvas
I used some of my Birthday money on some new canvases. They are very long!  I have had such fun thinking of different ways to use them.  This was my first idea.  I love the way that mist falls to the lowest part of the land.  Since it is heavy with moisture it tends to do that.  I also love the way that color is distilled by moisture to where on the farthest valley all you see is a faint distant purple blue ridge line.
If any of you have been to the Great Smokey Mountains you know what "Smokey" means.  It's that incredible moisture that distills the valleys and ridges. Like little rivers of cloud. A soft mystery to the land.

Friday, January 18, 2013

"Downpour" Final

36x36, Oil on Canvas
I finished today on the landscape as well as blending some of the bands together.  I like it more.  I hate that the camera either has a reddish tone or a blue tone.  It seems somewhere in between to me.  Cool on the land with some purple tones.
I'm off for a while.  My oldest came home with the flu!  yikes.  Pray for us at the Baker household!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Downpour" Oil Painting

36x36, Oil on Canvas
I've been working on doing some BIGGER work.  There is something in storm clouds that I love.  The way the colors run and the clouds burst open.  I tried some Virga clouds with this one.  These are clouds that usually dissipate all their moisture before they reach landfall...but sometimes they are too full and reach all the way to the earth below.
I will have a chance tomorrow to put in some details in the land and fill out some of the pockets of cool rain.  I also want to go back and smooth out some of the color bands.  It is tough to paint something so smooth and full of color.  I love trying though.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"The Streaming Light" Oil Painting Study

9x12, Oil on Canvas
Finished this little study on Friday.  I love the way a tree looks in fall when the sun is going down and it has been lit by the glow of red and brown.  In the original picture of the tree it has some strong sunlight coming through the branches.  I wanted to mute it and quiet it down to just the tips.
This time of year seems more quiet to me.  Something about the way the trees are sleeping makes me want to be quieter.  It seems so slow this cycle of life, rest, renewal.  I know that if I don't get enough rest and time to just reflect that my life has no renewing.  Just a fight to stay be keep my head above water, to get the tasks done on the list.
This past week I got to be home with my kids and my husband.  It's been so nice to just have NOTHING to do. Peace. Rest. Eat. Rest. Play. Rest. Read. Rest.  I could get used to this.  Here I am on the diving board of January looking down at the pool of months below. I'm trying to remember my rest is important to God.  It's important to my family.  To my soul.  It's o.k. for me to say, "no.  I can't.  I need to slow down." 
I feel like this tree. In the shadow I will take my rest.  I will filter the light softly and gently lay down to be renewed. "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:11.  What a beautiful promise to me.  He is my rest.  He wants me to rest in Him.  Lord, help me do that this year.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top Books of 2012

Time for the book report from 2012!  I love doing  this.  I hope you got some time to read this year and read well.  There are just so many books out there worth reading.

You will notice it's just 5.  No I didn't just read 5 books this year...but these were the ones that really stood out to me.  The ones that I want to read again in my lifetime.  You will also notice that Philip Yancey has two books on the list.  I have noticed that I really love the way he writes.  He seems to be the Lewis of our age.  Or at least to me.  I have been deeply challenged by his writing and hope to show you some paintings based on grace in 2013.

Here is the list:

This is a very personal book for Yancey in that he writes about his "recovery" from the church.  Each chapter is a different person that challenged his faith towards authenticity.  Through people like Martin Luther King Jr., G.K. Chesterton and Mahatma Gandhi to the lesser known Dr. Paul Brand, Henri Nouwen and Dr. C. Everett Koop.  He struck cords in me that I didn't know needed to be stuck.  It made me think who had been my mentors in my faith.  It made me grateful for a God who sent men and women to my life that helped me along.  Because of this book I am now reading more work by Chesterton and John Donne...and definitely Yancey.

Frederick Buechner's 10th novel.  Godric was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1981.  This is the only fiction book to make my list.  Not that I don't like fiction but I tend more for the true stories.  Godric is a retelling of the life of Godric of Finchale, a 12th century English holy man who worked to purify his life from sin.  In the story you find the juxtaposition of both kinds of men the sinful, evil one and the one striving for good.  It is only through his relationship to something "otherworldly" that we see such a story of grace.  One of my favorite passages, "...the meadow that tempts you to rest your bones and dream a while.   The rackribbed child that begs for scraps the dogs have left.  The sea that calls a man to travel far. They are all doors, some God's and some the Fiend's.  So choose with care which ones you take, my son, and one day - who can say - you'll reach the holy door itself."
Thanks to Stanley for this great recommendation.  This was achingly haunting.  I felt as if each word had been carefully picked.  There wasn't a sentence wasted.

It's hard to convey how much this book meant to me.  I think every Christian should read this.  It calls us to a deeper awareness of how being forgiven is a greater miracle than healing a lame man.  It puts us ALL on the same playing field: sinners in need of God.  If you have a tendency (as I do) to look down at any person or groups of people because of their politics or sin or whatever else you need to read this book.  Our culture has taken that word and made it so careless and soft when in fact it IS the greatest thing to ever happen to mankind.  And it is through grace that we should treat and love one another.

From the book, "C.S. Lewis could never understand the hairsplitting distinction between hating a person's sin and hating the sinner.  How could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? "But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life - namely myself.  However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself.  There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact, the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man.  Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things."

It's hard to read Beth Moore and not be changed.  This happens to be the one I worked through this year with a group of ladies (still going!).  I have read it 3 times and every time I get something out of it.  Insecurity has been a part of my life WAY too long and it was time for God to get into my heart and help me see that.  Beth asks us, "Am I doing this...or buying this...or saying this...or selling this out of any semblance of insecurity?"  Her goal throughout the book is to, "cease being motivated by thought or action in any way by insecurity."

You might be asking, "So, is it a self-help book?" No.  It's a telescope into the soul and a cry for help to the only one who can really fix us.  I'm not saying you will be TOTALLY changed after reading this one book but I am saying she's put a finger on a dark place that has long needed light.  It's time to start and this book did that for me.

Oh yeah, it IS an art blog...and I did read one book this year that really changed my art. "Landscape Painting" by Mitchell Albala is by far THE best book on Plein Air (outside) painting I have read.  Not only is a practical tool for colors and composition.  It gave me some of the best insights into really getting at painting that was me.  For instance in his chapter on using photographs he writes, "...the strong visual impression I experienced at the first moment I saw these subjects provided inspiration to do the series, but I also needed a permanent photographic record of the sites...Of course, none of the paintings in those series looks anything like the original reference photographs.  My personal style, color, and abstract sensibilities directed my interpretations."
Never have I read this so clearly.  I have always wanted to figure out a way to see the landscape and render it correctly but THROUGH my experience of it not as a photographic piece of art.  This book helped me see how I could.  Mr. Albala I thank you!