You might remember when I shared this painting in September, and now nearly two months have passed by. Autumn is going fast. Didn’t it feel like such as short time ago when summer ended? But here we are, and the holiday season is soon upon us.
My Christmas show is coming along. I hope that you will enjoy it and share it far and wide. We need as much joy as we can get! Well, that’s all for tonight. I had a busy Monday, did you? I’m tired. Good night, dear friends.
This painting is about serendipity and events that make us think about how the puzzle pieces of life fit together, and how important we are to God. I blogged about this painting in a March post called “Roads Unseen“, in which I told the story of this art, and an update. But today, I’m reminded of it because of the alternate reality vibe of this painting.
In the story of my art, I was at the right place at the right time. But what if I hadn’t been? Apparently my role was important to the life of that stranger I met, and whose name I don’t remember. Evelyn? Probably not. I am not likely to ever see her again. But stranger things have happened.
Today’s story is about something entirely different, but along the alternate reality lines. I thought something had happened and because of this, my mind raced through an avalanche of thoughts. Let me start at the beginning, which happened a few weeks ago.
I’d splurged and purchased a little garden sign post and small flag. I call it a “splurge” because I don’t usually buy things that aren’t necessities, related to work, or to help a family member. This seemed like an indulgence, but it feels important this year to show a strong Christmas spirit that begins early.
My plan was to buy a few garden flags to switch out, ending with a Christmas one. I started with an autumn flag that made me laugh when I saw the picture online. It is autumn themed with a pumpkin, apples, a sunflower, and leaves, but also features a cardinal (which if you’ve followed me for a while, you know that cardinals are special to me and I’ve painted them severaltimes), and also includes coastal images (I live near Savannah, Georgia). How hilariously spot on with what our family is about! I didn’t know how I’d figure out what our holiday display personality is, but this was definitely it!
Well, can you imagine my shock when I went outside and looked at my lovely display to find an EMPTY flag holder! I froze and stared at the sign post, as if I wasn’t seeing it correctly. I looked around. Maybe the sign had blown off. If so, the flag should be somewhere nearby. It wasn’t. I took a closer look at my flag stand, which is a bit different from the one in that product image. Mine has a much tighter holding area.
I snapped a picture of the empty flag holder and texted it to my husband with the message “STOLEN!” I then waited for him to arrive, as he was on his way home. He pulled into the driveway and before I could say anything he told me that he’d removed the flag because it was windy and he thought it would blow away or get damaged.
This whole thing took place over ten minutes or less, but that was enough time for me to stew, and mentally accuse imaginary persons of stealing my flag for vindictive reasons. These unknown vandals might strike again! We’d had some dangerous situations of violent crime in the neighborhood (SWAT teams involved, murder charges) as well as drug busts. Some of these things happened right across the street, while we watched the whole thing unfold from inside the house, while US Marshals were staked out in our driveway. This isn’t the best neighborhood, but it’s not the worst either. Yet, maybe I was a fool to think I could put something nice in the yard where anyone could steal it.
Taking my little flag felt like such a spiritual slap in the face. I had finally had enough trust to put something personal in the yard, only to have it stolen! That’s what I get for letting go and trusting life! All kinds of negative thoughts flooded my mind and my heart while I paced the yard, glancing mournfully at the empty flag. And here all along, my husband was protecting my flag for me!
Such a powerful message: we may leap to wrong conclusions, and assume that life is out to get us, when the exact opposite is true. What we think is stolen, gone, or empty may exist outside of our knowledge; held for our protection. Friends, we are loved by God. We may not always feel it, but it’s true, even when we can’t see it.
You might remember when I shared this painting previously here on the blog, I asked the question “What do people say about you?” It was one of my longer blog posts, about why we shouldn’t let criticism or praise influence us too much, that we can be distracted from our purpose and our own voice. Today, I was reminded of this painting because it is autumn and the painting is about the fun of jumping into a pile of leaves.
Most people reach an age when it’s not physically fun anymore to jump into a pile of leaves. It still looks fun when we see children doing it, doesn’t it? We may be willing to rake leaves into a big pile just to see children jump into it, laughing, and playing.
But, we probably don’t want to do much jumping into piles of leaves ourselves. So what DO we think is fun? What is fun? According to the online dictionary Merriam-Webster, “fun” is a verb: to indulge in banter or play, and “fun” is also an adjective: providing entertainment, amusement, or enjoyment. We might describe this as “what makes us laugh”.
We may not laugh while running and jumping into leaves, but we’ll laugh when someone else does it. We’ll laugh when we hear a funny joke, or when caught by surprise by witnessing something silly. A milder form of fun may be entertaining, like doing a project we enjoy, or listening to our favorite music.
Maybe we have fun dancing, cooking, and visiting with family or friends. Maybe we feel so positive after a job well done that we actually think that work is fun, especially the kind of work that benefits us personally, such as renovating a home or organizing our living space. Perhaps we love how it feels to surprise others with a generous or kind act, and we think that giving our time, energy, or money to others is “fun”.
Fun is the carefree, wild playfulness of a child jumping into leaves- a type of energy that creates a strong, healthy, happy life. May we find ways to have fun. Joyful living elevates ourselves and all those around us.
“Pumpkin Latte” is part of the 2022 collection “Seasons” (of life and nature). Paintings in this collection celebrate seasons of life (metaphorical, representational, or inspired-by-real-life scenes about milestones, rites of passage, and shared human experiences of love, aging, family, and beyond) as well as seasons of nature (literal scenes depicting autumn, summer, fall, and winter).
“Pumpkin Latte” represents autumn and celebrates family traditions. This scene was inspired by the artist’s daughters’ love of sister coffee breaks featuring their favorite sugary autumn treat. October is “Pumpkin Latte Season!” in their world. While Natalie doesn’t enjoy sugary coffees, she loves seeing her daughters’ have fun and enjoy special family time. [prints available below]
Small Print “Pumpkin Latte”
All small prints are approximately 8 x 10. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.
Medium Print “Pumpkin Latte”
All medium prints are approximately 16 x 20. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.
Large Print “Pumpkin Latte”
All large prints are approximately 24 x 30. Giclee Somerset Velvet Fine Art paper. Free shipping. No frame.
Are you enjoying autumn treats? My daughters love the specialty coffee and snacks that come out this time of year. They especially love their sister breaks on campus when they meet up for a pumpkin latte between classes. I love that they have such a special relationship. No matter what’s happening in the world, family, faith, traditions and seasons bring joy to life’s journey. Happy October!
When I shared this painting with you in July, I was thinking about time, and I used this painting to illustrate how we don’t know if the sun is rising or setting without context. It was a summer day when I showed you this one, and my thoughts were completely different on that day than they are on this one. Seasonal perspective is the obvious difference. Now I see this as an an autumn orchard painting, with trees ready for harvest. The orange and yellows look like October when viewing this art in October. So, that’s easy to figure out, but there’s more to it than this…
Seasonal perspective can be complicated, just as humans are complicated. For me, October is always bittersweet. I look forward to the fun treats and desserts, and the upcoming joy of Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions with my family. But my mom’s birthday was in October, and I think of her for the entire month. I think of the good and bad parts of our relationship, the traumatic experiences as her caregiver, the final dramatic moments that changed me forever, and how much time has passed since. Just when I think I have moved on, my heart says, “OK, it’s been long enough now, Mom. When are you coming back?”
But we can all be like that girl reading a book in the orchard. She was an after-thought. I didn’t intend to put a person in that landscape. The landscape was a project for my 2021 collection, but now it seems like this art wouldn’t be the same without the girl in it. She is what makes this scene what it is. It’s her response to the serenity of the place that helps us feel peaceful when we view it. Without this context, we might not have felt as calm. Maybe we would have interpreted it entirely differently.
For example, the sunrise could have felt like the harsh glare of the morning rush, and the fully ripe fruit may have symbolized work that needs to be done right away before the harvest is ruined. It may have seemed stressful. Or, if we saw the sky as the sun setting, maybe we’d have thought that time was running out on the day. Instead of seeing a busy morning, and the rush of work ahead, we may have seen the day as over and the work was left undone. But the figure of the girl, relaxed and absorbed in her book, tells us that this is a different painting. It is one of letting go. It is one that isn’t ruled by work or time. We don’t even know if it is morning or evening.
And when I view this art in October instead of July, or when I first painted this in the spring of 2020, I now see it through a different spiritual seasonal perspective. Autumn tends to be a time of reflection and letting go. Leaves fall, flowers die back. The wind picks up, and our thoughts go toward the upcoming holiday season and long winter ahead. This can bring us to mind of loved ones, even if our loved ones weren’t born in October.
Art is a healing language. Even though I try to express in words what my paintings feel like to create and what I want to say when I share them, and how my perspective changes with time, it’s still difficult to explain in words, because I’m translating from colors and movement on a canvas. As I share my paintings and thoughts with you, it is my hope that the healing language of art makes a positive difference in your life. God bless you and your families.
I painted this just over a month ago, you might remember when I shared it. It feels like much longer to me. Does it to you? I thought of this one to add to my spree of fall related paintings. Something about the sky feels moody and ready for autumn even though there are still flowers in bloom and green leaves on the tree.
In the video, do you notice how the oil paints look when they are wet and the light shines on them? The sky feels real when the light interacts with the paint as I add each layer, along with the choreography effect of time lapse footage synced with music. What I share is often more about the experience of painting than the painting itself.
Sharing my art through moving, fluid video (and live on stage) is what I want to contribute as an artist, and as a fellow human. It is my hope that I can touch lives through sharing this experience, and that people like you will feel a connection- and will make it your own experience. Your reaction is personal and unique to you, and may even be difficult to explain to others. It is my wish that you feel understood, even though I can’t possibly know your story or why you might feel something meaningful to your own life when you watch these oils flow into finished paintings.
You might remember when I painted this and shared it on the blog in August. At the time I predicted that I’d want to share it again in autumn, maybe around October. I was right. Wow, I could see the future! I’m being silly, but the truth is that we all have limited abilities to see the future. Some have an amazing gift of prophesy and others may only be able to predict things that are obvious, like my example above.
Life is like this painting. We see part of the path, but not all of it. How much we can see at one time depends on our perspective. We may have strong intuition about what’s ahead, or maybe we’ve detected a pattern and have logically analyzed our situation. Or maybe we have no idea what’s beyond our view, but we’ve accepted the not-knowing.
How are you settling into October? Do you feel ready for the change of seasons? Autumn can feel bittersweet, as the smells and sights of fall can bring back memories of times past, and perhaps loved ones we’ve lost. But also in the air is the hope of the upcoming holiday season and the feeling that anything is possible. “To everything there is a season…” Ecclesiastes 3.
Sleep well, dear friends (in my time zone it is Sunday evening). We have another new week ahead and much to do. We are blessed to be here for another day. What shall we do with this gift of time?