Crashing Tales

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“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” Coco Chanel (from The Painter’s Keys)

One writer sees the culture of creative people as “crashing” leading him to lament about the state of the current art world. He believes artists are seen as “cultural elites” “idle dreamers” or “self-indulgent parasites.” Perhaps he should get out more and take a look at where the productive artists are. His descriptions may fit artists in the places that think of themselves as centers of the art world among people who decide what is and isn’t art. Most of today’s working artists are outside of that world and too busy making art to care.

Scott Timberg has written two articles, one for Salon and one for Arts Journal Blogs, and now a book on the demise of the creative class. He mourns the downfall of the “creatives” and discusses possible causes of what he sees as the current creative crisis. While Timberg may have valid points, he is, quite possibly, missing the bigger picture. In my opinion, only one area of the creative class is dropping. And that area may be one of “idle dreamers,” “cultural elites” and “self-indulgent parasites.” It seems likely, the art world Timberg writes of has created this gang of dreamers, elites and parasites and is now reaping the consequences.

If there truly is a “crashing” of the creative culture, is it not the natural order of things? When a group no longer serves a purpose, it ceases to exist. Many of today’s working artists are entrepreneurs. They don’t have time or inclination to engage in elitism or idle dreaming. And they wouldn’t survive long as parasites. Timberg’s creative culture may be crashing but the rest of the creative world has too much to do to pay attention. They are focused on making art and that’s all that matters.

Trusting the Magic

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“And suddenly you know.  Its time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.”  Meister Johann Eckhart (from The Painter’s Keys)

What is the magic of new beginnings?  A paraphrasing of the dictionary definition of magic calls it a power that allows people to do impossible things.  “Impossible things” is a wide-open description that could mean anything and everything.  Many artists struggle to create a vision that lives inside.  Freeing this vision feels impossible, insurmountable.  Yet this vision, this inner voice is crying out.  It wants to sing but how?

Sometimes it’s necessary to sweep out all the old visions, the old thought processes.  That inner voice wants to sing but can’t.  There’s too much Old Stuff hanging around blocking the view.  The voice can’t see it’s way clear to freedom, to expression.  It’s easier for an artist to quash the voice than to deal with the Old Stuff.  That Old Stuff has been around a long time.  It’s soft and worn and comfortable.  Anything new would require the work of breaking in.  Who wants to break in the new?  The old is so comfortable.  It’s too much trouble to change. Why bother?

That old stuff is tired, faded and dusty.  Everything it creates will be tired, faded and dusty.  Breaking in the new is a fresh adventure, a new beginning.  Opening a path for the new voice to sing feels impossible but it’s really quite simple.  All it needs is a little trust.  Trust the magic of new beginnings.  Once that voice is free to sing impossible things can happen.  The impossible makes even the oldest rustiest tin can sing like the sweet sound of a meadowlark.   Time to kick that rusty can down the road and let the magic of new beginnings sing.  The impossible is happening.  That old can is being replaced by the sweet sound of a new song.  And that is magic.

(This is a repost of one I wrote 8 years ago. It seems prophetic now)

Community Education at Watkins College of Art

The Summer and Fall lineup I’ll be teaching in Community Education at Watkins College of Art will be featuring some new additions.  Traditional Botanical Style Watercolor will continue with new workshops in Silverpoint Drawing, Colored Pencil, and Watercolor Ink. Expanding the possibilities!

We’ll be utilizing techniques for capturing the beauty of wildflowers in their natural habitat. The best tools for accurate color recreation in the wild and more will be covered.

Follow the link HERE to register!

Enjoying painting the beauty of nature in the natural environment!

Cheekwood Estate and Gardens, Nashville, TN

We’ll be painting Fall Leaves in Botanical Style in Liquid Watercolor on October, 9th from leaves we pick up in the beautiful surrounding grounds. For more information email: education@cheekwood.org.
To register, follow the link HERE.

The Ice House Gallery, Mayfield, KY

Coming up in August is Bird painting in oil when we will be painting a sweet little goldfinch. More workshops in Botanical Style painting to follow in the Fall. Follow the link for more information.
To register, follow the link HERE.

The Daffodil Thief

Many people are obsessed with particular flowers.

Daffodils, oil on canvas

History is peppered with stories of the adventures of people following a flower obsession. Tulip bulbs were at one time more valuable than the currency of The Netherlands.  Instead of Dutch coins, you paid with tulip bulbs!  It became so serious the government had to deploy armed guards around the tulip fields.

On a recent visit to Light Trap Books in Downtown Jackson, TN, proprietor Lauren Smothers suggested I might like reading Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief. While the main story revolves around the life of a colorful orchid expert in Florida, the author goes into great detail about the history of orchids.  Orchid societies abound all over the world to feed the obsession of orchid aficionados. More on that in an upcoming episode!

Reading that book led me to look at my own flower obsessions.  I have to say obsessions because I have never settled on just one flower.  As a child I was obsessed with daffodils for a while. I loved their bright sunny faces that told me that spring was almost here. One spring I lusted after the daffodils that had sprung up all over a neighbor’s yard. There were bunches and bunches of them. I must have been about 6 years old.  I couldn’t resist.  I walked right over there and picked myself a large bouquet of the gorgeous blossoms.

Daffodils, watercolor on paper

Needless to say, my mother was appalled that I would do such a thing.  She made me take my whole bouquet back to the neighbor’s house, knock on the door and apologize for my theft. I cried all the way over to the neighbor’s house and could not summon up the courage to knock on the door.  I put the bouquet down on her porch and ran all the way home.  My mother never asked what the neighbor said and I never told her what I had done. Whenever I see daffodils, I think of the shame of a little girl who acted on her obsession with daffodils. I don’t think I have had the urge to steal flowers from someone else’s garden since. 

However, I do still have flower obsessions! Do you?

The Captivating Amaryllis

Symbolic of success, strength and determination, the Amaryllis’ name means “to sparkle” and so it does!

Symbolic of success, strength and determination, the Amaryllis’ name means “to sparkle” and so it does!

Pink Amaryllis, colored pencil

Symbolic of success, strength, and determination according to FTD.com, the amaryllis is a captivating flowering bulb. Gardener’s Supply says the Greek meaning of the word, “Amaryllis” means “to sparkle” and details the mythological love story Amaryllis and Alteo.  Gardener’s Supply also states that an amaryllis bulb can live for 75 years!

The exotic winter blooming amaryllis has become a part of the Christmas tradition for many people.  For me it began in my grandmother’s last years. She was mostly housebound in those years and my mother decided watching a beautiful flower grow would bring her joy.  My mother was right.  Both my grandmother and her caretaker, Betty, quickly became enthusiastic about the fast-growing bulb.  They kept the yard stick near the pot and made daily measurements of the growth, delightedly reporting every inch. Each year we gave her a different variety and each year the enthusiasm would build as the amaryllis came closer and closer to bloom time. What color would it be? How big would the bloom be? When the bloom day finally arrived friends and family made a visit to observe the amaryllis in all its glory. My grandmother and Betty would show off their gorgeous flower like proud parents whose child had just won the spelling bee.

Those memories came flooding back this year when my dear friend, Celeste, gave both me and another friend, Caroljeanne, amaryllis bulbs for Christmas.  Celeste works with the University of Tennessee Agriculture Center which has an amaryllis yearly sale where she was able to get some wonderful varieties.  The three of us made regular text message reports on the progress of each bulb. Caroljeanne’s delicate pink flower arrived first.  I realized immediately I would have to begin a painting to mark the three bulbs. Celeste’s gorgeous variegated red and white flower arrived second. And finally, my beautiful salmon-colored double petal variety, “Double Dream” made its dramatic presentation.

Instead of replicating my grandmother and Betty with their yardstick, I recorded the rapid growth with my camara. The preliminary work has begun for a painting of the three beauties with a colored pencil drawing of Caroljeanne’s lovely pink flower pictures above.  Next will come Celeste’s variegated beauty. “Double Dream” will bring up the rear as it did with its blooming.  In the meantime, I couldn’t resist showing off the progress of the growth in a slideshow.

For more about buying, growing and caring for Amaryllis bulbs follow these links:

Gardener’s Supply

FTD.com

University of Tennessee Agricultural Center, Jackson, TN

Fall is in the Air, and on the Tables, and on the Porches!!

No one can keep on being angry if she looks into the heart of a pansy for a little while.”Ruth Maude Montgomery

purplepansytrioFall flowers are some of my favorites, almost as much as spring flowers, maybe!  I think of fall flowers as the last bits of vivid color before the season of brown and gray.  I don’t know about you, but I really need these bits of vivid color to get me through the monotony of winter.

CrystalbowlpansypanitingPansies come in a fabulous array of colors from deepest purple and magenta to the palest yellow and crisp white.  The color varieties in between can be vivid or delicate.  Most of us associate pansies with the deep velvety purple and yellow colors that are most common but a group of pansies called the “Crystal Bowl Mix”have the sweetest delicate pastel shades of yellow, orange and bluish lavender that make me think of Victorian table arrangements.   If you want your pansies to be a bit  soft and delicate, go for the Crystal Bowl Mix, then get an actual crystal bowl and float a few blooms for a beautiful bit of table color to brighten the long cold days of brown and gray. You’ll be inspired to paint every time you look at the cheerful faces of pansies looking up from the bowl.  If you are a serious gardener and want to be sure you know exactly which pansies make up the Crystal Bowl Mix follow this link to the pdf from the Florida State Horticultural Society.

Aster-purple flower

“I end not far from my going forth, By picking the faded blue, Of the last remaining aster flower, To carry again to you.”Robert Frost

And then there are the asters and the mums to add some last bits of color before winter’s dusky days.  Purple asters, to me, make a stunning contrast to the miles of yellow mums that are on every porch throughout fall. Asters, according to Better Homes and Gardens, get their name from the Latin word for “star” and are most often sold in the pale purplish lavender variety though they do come in pink and white varieties, as well. The Farmers Almanac gives the scientific name for purple asters as S. novae-angliaeand has wonderful tips for the best growing conditions for this beautiful perennial.  Happy DIY Home has a great guide for everything you want to know about asters, and especially how to grow these fall beauties. Asters attract butterflies and are a great food source for monarchs as they migrate south for the winter.  And they provide welcome relief from the miles and miles of yellow mums on porches throughout the fall season.  When you spot the one house whose porch is adorned with asters in the sea of yellow mum porches, you know that is where a person with art in their soul must live!

We’ll be painting asters and pansies on the 6thof October at Watkins College of Artin Nashville.  Hope to see you all there! Follow the link here to register.

Happy Fall Y’all!!

Note: This is a reprint from an article I wrote last fall. We’ll be painting asters again this fall at Watkins College of Art at Belmont University in Nashville, TN,

Tuesday Birds-The Canorous Cardinal

Cardinals are the main bright spot in an otherwise drab and dreary winter landscape

The Canorous Cardinal

Cardinals are the main bright spot in an otherwise drab and dreary winter landscape, unless you are fortunate enough to have a snowy winter landscape.  Cardinals are magical in the quiet beauty of falling snow. When spring arrives, they become just another one of the many bright and colorful little birdies showing off their warm weather feathers.  For now, cardinals provide all the color we get until the season changes.  They are the stars of the winter landscape.

Cardinals in the Snow

Red dashes along a brown ground are frequently cardinals foraging around for dropped seeds from shrubs or left behind by other birds. Once the foraged meal is done the sweet sounds of a singing red beauty can be heard from the upper branches of a nearby shrub.  When the branches are covered in snow, that bright bit of red fluff singing his heart out is a sight to see. It might even bring on some added cold chills.

Down in the Valley where the Chickadees can be heard with their continual chatter, the Cardinals are a bit peeved.  Carson Cardinal was quite annoyed and said to Cameron and Caroline. Will those Chickadees ever stop chattering? It’s so hard to sing above all the chatter.  Nothing stops the chatter more effectively than the sight of a glorious red bird preening about in the snow-covered branches of a tulip poplar. When he begins to sing the beautiful melodious tunes as his friends join in harmony, the Chickadees quickly become quite mute.  The Chickadees cannot remain chatterless for long, so if you catch sight of a bit of red flitting through the branches, stop and listen. The reward will be worth it.

Cardinal in the Snow-2

For more information about cardinals follow the link to All About Birds.

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