See this osprey come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse video).
My new art area is now fully set up and I should be able to stay on track better now. I hope to return to daily blogging soon. There’s still quite a bit to settle in from our recent move, but one day at a time!
I have a fun announcement: I started an online store for cool, fun, and elegant gifts with my art on it. You’re invited to check it out and tell me what you think of it. The link is here.
Blankets, keepsake boxes, posters, mugs and more! If you want to have (a reproduction of) one of my paintings in your home, I hope you find what you’re hoping for. Happy Wednesday, and God bless you.
This painting was a “free paint” project, in which there is no reference, plan, or agenda other than to let the paints flow. I start with a general idea- such as a bird in a forest- and let the art develop as I listen to music and relax. This type of exercise can help artists break free from being over structured, tightly wound and too focused on the project goals, details, technique, etc., instead of letting creativity happen. Then, when going back to the regular painting schedule, the projects should feel easier. It’s a bit like pushing a cart with a locked wheel and realizing it’s not moving freely, then releasing the wheel and immediately feeling the difference in how easy it rolls.
We can experience this spiritually as well. It happens when we take a vacation from work, whether a pleasure break such as for a holiday, happy occasion, and travel, or a forced one due to unemployment, illness, or other circumstances. Being free from our regular routine forces our brains to think differently. When we get settled back into regular life we may wonder why we procrastinated doing things that are really no big deal. Why did we have no energy? Why did we waste so much time? Everything feels easier after some time away.
I’m missing my routine. My paints have been packed up for a few weeks now. I can’t even say how long it’s been because I don’t remember. It’s all been a blur ever since we found out we’d have to move- and quickly! But the whirlwind journey is almost over. May 4 is the day we close on the house. Life is changing!
Happy Friday, everyone. Whatever you’re going through, may you take time away to gain a new perspective. When you resume your regular schedule, I hope you find it easy going, like a bird in a forest.
Today was a horrible day- seeing a painted bunting was one of the few good things about it, so I’ll focus on that. Painted buntings are migratory birds so their presence is relatively brief. It’s always a delight to see them! See the 3 short videos I took of a painted bunting from past seasons. Ours is smaller and rounder than the one I painted. The last video shows him with his buddy a red cardinal, and a hummingbird flits in at the end.
I started planting seeds indoors to prepare for my new garden. So far, about half the seeds have already germinated and are now bright green seedlings! There’s such a feeling of hope when I see new plant life spring up from the dark soil. Today a vivid red cardinal was at the bird feeder, looking right at me while munching on a sunflower seed. He is my competition. It’s a good thing that my new seedlings are indoors because he has stolen some of my pea seedlings that are outside! So I hope he’s content with the sunflower seeds in the bird feeder. If his favorite seeds run out, he makes a nuisance of himself until I notice him. Then I go out and put more seeds in the feeder. He has me trained.
I hope you are looking forward to spring and can let go of the news of the day. Focus on simple things as often as you can. God bless and keep you strong, and your heart at peace, no matter how dark and chaotic the world is.
Before I type anything else, I just noticed that the exact temperate outside at this very second is 62 degrees. It’s been in the 50s, 40s, and 30s for weeks on end and now exactly 62. I’ve been seeing 62’s all day. I also had a dream about Mom a couple of nights ago, and a little bird (a tufted titmouse) has been driving me crazy by throwing itself at my patio window, inches from where I’m sitting now, cheeping incessantly. Now, there’s a scientific explanation for this behavior if the little guy is attacking his reflection, which can happen, but spiritually it was very unnerving and now suddenly he’s stopped doing it after several days of tormenting me. When Mom was dying, it was a yellow goldfinch that was at my window behaving oddly.
What does it all mean? I don’t know! I can’t think of anything memorable about this date or any reason why there should be such a strong pull. Anyway, although I’ve shared this story before, if this is the first time you’ve seen this painting, here is the explanation:
Oil painting “Bird of Light” was created especially for this collection, and specifically for this section on “Life after Death”. I wanted to share with you about how Mom seems to communicate with us. Numbers were important to her, and Mom had a habit of calculating figures in a notebook. She would do this by hand, usually to add and subtract purchases. She kept a balanced checkbook and would become anxious if even a single penny was off. She’d do the math over and over until she found the error and the account was balanced. This type of focus is a big part of who she was, so it makes sense that, instead of seeing cardinals or butterflies- as many people see when loved ones pass- we were instead seeing a number. Specifically, we were seeing the number 62. It took us a while to catch on that this number kept popping up, happening so often that it defied the statistical laws of probability, but eventually we made the connection. Mom was sixty-two when she died. That number was connected to her, and I also knew that the age she was would have been significant to her. So, it makes sense, as long as I’m open to the idea that our loved ones communicate with us in a way that is recognizable, identifiable, and also timely. As in, we see 62’s more often when we are going through a hardship, approaching a milestone, or coming up on the anniversary of something. We’d see 62 on a license plate directly in front of us, on billboards, in a show, on a receipt, in a price tag, in a phone number- anywhere where numbers are found, we may see a 62 several times in a single day. I didn’t know how to paint a number, without actually painting the number, but the idea came to me to paint an abstract that captures the idea of the number, drawing into my emotions about Mom, and the essence of her- what colors did she like, what colors seemed to represent her? I began by literally painting the number sixty-two on the canvas and using a variation of the “doodle game” that she and her family used to play with me when I was little. I could always draw very well, like my dad. The other side of the family was enchanted by watching Dad and I draw. They’d draw a doodle- just a curved line or shape- and challenge us to draw something from it. When I painted the number sixty-two, it felt like Mom had given me a doodle game challenge, which I thought I’d blend into an abstract art, but it took on the shape of a bird. I was attempting to blend the colors while deliberately avoiding making recognizable shapes, but shapes formed anyway. It looked like wings were in my brush strokes, and part of a bird shape. I realized that Mom wouldn’t like abstract art, but a subtle simple bird in her favorite colors would probably be her cup of tea. So, again, it all made sense… as long as I was open to the experience. And that’s how, instead of an abstract named “62”, Mom’s painting became “Bird of Light”. Then, something breathtaking happened the next morning to this painting, and I took a video of it to show you.
And now I’ve just burnt cupcakes that I’ve made several times before, perfectly. Well, they aren’t burned exactly. They overflowed and the batter that ran onto the oven floor is now burning and it’s filling the house with an obnoxious smokey burning smell that has sent one of my kids downstairs to make inquiries! 😀 Well, I don’t know why they overflowed like lava when that’s never happened before with this recipe, but I pulled them out just now and scraped some of the burnt batter off the oven floor. By then, they were cool enough to test a bit of the sloppy edges- delicious! So, they still taste fine, but they look TERRIBLE! It looks like one big massive cake. You can’t even see the cupcake paper liners because the cake has completely over taken the entire muffin tray!
What a strange day. I’m now trying to quickly air out the house before the rest of the family comes in the door. I guess that’s it from me. See you tomorrow! WAIT, don’t go yet…. UPDATE Ok, I’m back for a minute with an update: we figured out what happened with the cupcakes. I had tried a struesel topping which sank into the middle, causing the batter to overflow. That’s it, mystery solved. The cake is DELICIOUS and all clean now because the family came in and ate all the parts that spilled over, and each took a sloppy cupcake besides, LOL. All are happy and it was an easy problem to solve!
Today I was flustered, as I was preparing for the taping of the Christmas show and I realized with a sinking heart that the first segment I did had not recorded! I had to re-do that, setting my schedule behind. As I loaded the memory card back into the camera to tape the whole thing over again, a flurry of movement caught my attention. Just outside the patio doors was one of our favorite cardinals, a bird that came to our feeder as a juvenile that my daughter noticed looked like it has a mohawk hair style. The cardinal made eye contact with me as if to say, “Calm down. It will be all right. It always is.”
And it was. All went well. The show will be ready on time, despite the failed recording, a dead battery that required a delay and a switch to another one, and several other mishaps, like when my feet got tangled up in my dress and I almost did a face plant, or when my daughter didn’t realize that the camera was rolling and spent several seconds itching her nose after the faux fur on her dress jacket tickled her face. Or how about when I completely forgot the lyrics to a song, or when I was ready to paint but had forgotten my palette (the paint!)? My body aches from all of the climbing up and down the step stool to tinker with the camera, moving the easels and props around, and bustling from one task to another since early this morning.
It was a crazy day, but in the end I will look back on it fondly and remember the fun we had in trying to get this to come together. Hard work is always worth doing when we feel a sense of purpose and a connection to the people we share it with. A long day like this brings on a good kind of tired that leads to a deep, peaceful sleep.
I hope that you will enjoy the show and will feel uplifted by it. I expect it to be ready to share by next week, in plenty of time for Christmas! Please do share it far and wide when I announce it here on the blog. Thank you!!!
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Today I was working on my garden planters when I heard a fluttering coming from a small tree a couple feet from where I was standing. I jumped nervously (which could ironically be described as “all in a flutter”; a nervous, confused, or agitated state). I thought it was one of the larger cardinals who often frequent that tree, but instead the fluttering and tree shaking continued for much longer and it was clear that this was not one of our regular birds. Instead it was a tiny finch, smaller than the usual goldfinch, but similar in color and markings.
The little bird was hopping from branch to branch, seemingly unconcerned that I was standing nearby. I was already jumpy because the tree frogs and lizards had been hiding and popping out at me every time I went outside. They always look like they’re amused by me when they do this.
The last time I shared this goldfinches painting with you was in a blog post called “Birds of a Feather“, in which I talked about something completely different from what I’m talking about now. Right now, I’m thinking literally of the finch. Sometimes a bird isn’t a metaphor for anything. It’s just a bird.
Then again, why let good imagery go to waste? Perhaps being all a flutter over a flutter is a reminder that there is often nothing to be afraid of. What could have been an invasive creature or a trespasser up to no good was only a little bird.
Today would have been my mom’s birthday, had she lived to see this day. I explained the meaning of this painting and blogged about Mom’s mysterious ways of connecting with us in the post “Are you open?“. That post also shows a video, further down the page, of what happened to the above painting the morning after I painted it. Today, I’m just going to keep this short. Happy Birthday, Mom.
The last time I shared my sparrows painting was in April, in a blog post called “More than Sparrows“. But today I’m thinking about the “don’t be afraid” part of the scripture that inspired this painting:
Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
There are dire warnings of all kinds of upcoming calamities and a predicted dark winter, and indeed, we are facing many fearful events in this age. It’s important to control our fears and learn how to not be afraid. It’s normal to feel afraid, but the act of being afraid is a matter of spiritual choice. We can choose to be courageous even when we feel afraid.
We will never be able to eliminate all of the dangers that life throws at us, especially if powerful forces are intentionally creating terror and suffering… and throughout history, this has always been true to some degree. But if we allow our fears to consume us, we will not thrive, and we may even make ourselves ill. Survival isn’t about just barely making it through the ordeals of life, but ensuring that we are strong enough to endure it with such determination and resilience that there is a beautiful life stretched ahead of us.
To make it through to the beautiful life ahead of us, we must find the beautiful moments within the hardships. We can’t wait until life looks like we want it to, as we need peace and joy every day. Like nutrition for our bodies and wisdom for our minds, we need happiness for our spirits. It’s possible for humans to give up the will to live in their sleep and never wake up. That’s how powerful our spiritual self is. Despair is dangerous. We must fight against it!
May the common sparrow encourage us. They seem to have an insignificant life, yet they are wonderfully made to instinctively know how to find food and survive the challenges of nature. They do more than survive, they thrive. As in, they lead a full bird life, the best that a sparrow can do. I see them flying about, gathering socially with their fellow birds of a feather, and settling in on the platform of our bird feeder. Their needs are met, by nature and by mysterious interactions with others (like me, putting food out there for them to eat).
We too experience more moments in which our needs are met than moments when we are in lack. This is easily proven by the fact that we are right now still alive. If we had too many moments of lack, we’d- to put it bluntly- be dead. But we are not dead, and we mustn’t ever let our soul feel deadened when we are clearly very much alive. May our blessed condition of living be enough to desire to not just survive, but to thrive. Seek joy in every little thing. Do not be afraid.
Today was Leaping Lizards day! I was doing some gardening and lizards kept scaring the daylights out of me by popping out of whatever pot I was grabbing. One of them even leapt from where I was reaching to a chair a few feet away, just sailed through the air like an acrobat. I saw four different kinds of lizards in a variety of colors, and all of them were a bit crazy today.
There was also some people craziness. The trespassers I’ve mentioned before came back and this time, in addition to their unleashed dog, fishing-near-the-“no fishing”-sign husband, and her child, our famous texting squatter brought a CAT. Why? Why would someone do this? They stayed for about an hour or so this evening, with the cat just hanging out. When they wanted to leave, the woman put a leash on the cat and tried to get the cat to cooperate, which of course it did not do.
I was busy doing dishes, so I missed this pet show, but my daughter was watching it and laughing. She knows cats, and she thought it was hilarious that this woman expected her cat to agree to being led by a leash. When I took a glance out there the cat stared back at me, looking quite pleased with itself, just lying there all relaxed.
In other Friday freakishness… oh wait, this happened yesterday, but we can count it for today: I looked out the patio windows because a flurry of bird activity caught my attention. Two cardinals and a hummingbird were racing for the same feeding area at the same time. One of the juvenile cardinals, the really dotty one that looks it has a mohawk haircut, perched on my potting table shelf and suddenly I saw its head pop back. A hummingbird collided with it while blitzing by and buzzed it on the back of its bird head. This was even more hilarious to me than a woman who leashed her cat.
I didn’t catch these things on video today, so you’ll just have imagine the craziness this time. I hope all of you are doing well. Have a marvelous weekend!