See my new cardinal oil painting “Cardinal in July” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse video). I have lost track of how many cardinals I’ve painted, but I know this won’t be the last one. Cardinals are a recurring theme in my life and I know that many of you find special meaning, healing, hope, peace, and serendipitous sightings of them also. Those who have lost a loved one often report mysterious interactions with cardinals and healing spiritual experiences. If seeing a cardinal painting helps you feel inspired, I am happy to keep painting them.
If you are a subscriber to my blog viewing from your e-mail, you may have to click thru directly to this post to see the video. I’ll put together a singing video of the lyrics of the instrumental hymn used in the painting video and post that soon. You might already be familiar with it, as it is a popular old hymn called “When Peace Like a River (it is well)”.
I hope all is well with you and your family. It’s a hot summer here in Georgia, USA and the time is going by fast. Because the world is so chaotic, it’s good to keep busy and remain hopeful for the future by focusing on the good things. Stay strong. God bless you.
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.
Well, guess who’s cranky about our unexpected move? Mr. Cardinal. He was giving me the sulky grump face all afternoon because I moved things around on the patio. He sat on my empty potting table (got it ready to sell) and stared through the patio glass at me. He fussed like this until my husband emptied the rest of the bird seeds into all of the feeders. Then he was finally placated. He already had food, but a freshly topped off pile distracted him from the changes to his surroundings on the patio.
I’d hate to think that my brain is the size of a bird’s, but I too have been resistant to change. I’ve moved so many times and I’ve always been in a heightened state that welcomes the challenge- except for this time around. This time I felt blindsided and I didn’t take the news gracefully. We were so close to buying a house. We were planning on staying here only one more year, but the homeowner threw water all over that when she sent the official vacate notice- not renewing the lease. Now all of our plans had to be changed. I did not like this. Not one little bit. One more thing out of my control, after many years of things out of my control. I thought we were able to control this move- we’d move next year, to a house of our own, after working so hard to rebuild our lives.
But no, we’ll have to move TWICE now as we aren’t ready to buy a house- my husband’s new job doesn’t start until after our lease runs out. We have to move into another rental. I must admit, I was as resentful as the cardinal after his forced change of scenery. I sulked. I scowled. And I couldn’t be appeased by birdseed.
It has taken me several days of adjustment to settle down, but in reasonable perspective, I went through the 7 stages of grief very quickly. (“Grief” can be interpreted to be any loss or unwanted change). I’m now on the “acceptance” phase for the most part, although I might slip back occasionally. Meanwhile, there has been actual grief in the midst of this, as I have written a long letter and sent a sympathy card to a family member. I don’t want to get into the details of this for privacy reasons, but it has hit me hard and my heart is heavy with it. Too many unexpected and “died suddenly” deaths, and this one was young (in 30’s).
It’s easy to feel during times like this that “the world is bad, what difference does anything make anyway”, “I’ll never win”, “Bad things always happen to good people”, “Hard work never matters”, “Life will always be hard”, “The goalposts keep moving whenever we get close”, “I always try to kick Lucy’s football- of all the Charlie Browns in the world, I’m the Charlie Browniest”. But the truth tells me a different story.
“You’ll never win, you’ll never win…But the voice of truth tells me a different story, the voice of truth says ‘do not be afraid.’… Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed- you’ll never win, you’ll never win, but the voice of truth tells me a different story… Out of all the voices calling out to me I will choose to listen to the voice of truth.”
So, I’m fighting for a win, and I believe things will all work out. Meanwhile, I got a lot done today. I finished part of the Easter show taping, got more plants ready for the sale this weekend, and packed some household items. I also refreshed the rental listings compulsively and obsessively whenever I didn’t keep myself busy enough. Nothing yet. But tomorrow’s another day. And at this point, I’m excited to get moving.
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.
I uploaded this painting video to YouTube today and I struggled to come up with the words to put into the description. What started off as a simple project idea turned into a story of loss and healing. My grief journey began when I was a child, but when Mom died, it felt like I lost Dad all over again because she was the one who kept his memory alive.
But it has been several years now since she passed, and now my journey has me on a path where I’m hopeful and focused on the new roads ahead. Every now and then, though, my spirit needs a retreat to the cabin in the woods. Here is what I wrote for the YouTube video description:
What does this painting mean to you? Art is a language and it speaks to you however you want. This is what it means to me: When I painted this, the project goal was to paint from my imagination (no reference or plan) and paint however the emotions and inspiration leads. My thoughts were of a cabin in the woods, a peaceful and restful space, a spiritual escape from the stresses, chaos, and darkness of this world. But as I painted, I found myself lost in the scene with additions that changed the story. The empty rocking chair and the cardinal in the tree- the chair reminded me of Mom. Her chair is empty and her tea is abandoned, as she left it. The cardinal is Dad’s spirit, who died almost 25 years before her, when he was 37 years old. This space holds the spirits of loved ones who’ve left this world, yet they live on where time and physical distance has no meaning. When the burdens of this world are too much, let our minds escape to this cabin in the woods, where peace is forever standing still, and we are forever loved. But let’s not linger there too long. We are blessed to be alive. We have so much left to do. I have hundreds more paintings to reach my 1k finished oil paintings goal. We all have a destiny, a purpose, and reason to be here.
Sharing one of the presents from each family member of this theme: the nature that I love and share with you all here, through my oil paintings and stories. The above video shows the gifts my husband and oldest daughter gave me for my garden and the images below show the bird and butterfly related gifts from my younger two kids.
It feels good when the people we love understand who we are and what makes us happy. I loved receiving presents to help me enjoy my garden and beloved birds and nature. It is a Merry Christmas indeed! God’s world is a gift for everyone. JOY TO THE WORLD!
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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In my blog post “New Painting- Peaceful Landscape” that I shared with you in June, I said, “I’ll talk about what this painting means to me in a future blog post. For now, I just want to share it and let you let it speak to you.” But I forgot to follow up! I never did tell you what I was thinking when I painted this.
This was a landscape from my own imagination, in which I didn’t look at anything while painting, nor did I plan it out. I intentionally let the art tell the story and evolve, as I listened to music and let myself feel whatever came to my heart. I meant to paint a scene that is warm and inviting, and would appeal to me as a retreat, but that’s not quite what happened.
Instead, it seems that I painted the deeper feelings; the reason why I wanted a special place to retreat to. Because this place doesn’t look relaxing to me. It’s very remote and a bit lonely looking. Quiet, and pretty, yes, but it looks like someone’s missing from that empty rocking chair, as if suddenly taken from their favorite spot and the tea or coffee cup that never got cleared. There’s probably still a last sip in it.
The cardinal is observing the scene, as if he understands and has empathy. The flowers are still in bloom, the fields reach toward a clear blue sky, and the evergreens are as fresh as ever. But the walkway has no feet upon it. The steps are vacant. The rocking chair is not in motion. The last sip will never be drunk.
Reflecting on those we’ve lost, and realizing the passage of time, and feeling the weight of the dark world upon our shoulders, sometimes it feels as if we need a retreat from the burden of broken dreams and better days that must wait, or may never come at all. But in imagining a retreat, I instead inadvertently, subconsciously, painted the emotions that were driving me to want a retreat.
Maybe next time I’ll paint the actual retreat, but by the time I finished painting through the feelings I didn’t even know I had, I felt as if I’d already had my retreat. It was me observing the cardinal in the tree, from my vantage point on the other side of the canvas looking in. Seeing the scene through his eyes was enough to restore my spirit for another day.
Nature goes on uninterrupted. Seasons change. Flowers bloom. Trees grow. Then all of it repeats. There is something comforting in the sameness, and even more comforting is the pattern of change. This (spiritual) season will change. Meanwhile, we can embrace the quiet, the steady stillness, and the cabin that waits for someone to come back. When we are blessed to be here for another day, may we never leave the last sip to grow cold.
I shared my sunflower oil painting with you before (2 minute time-lapse video above to watch me paint this). Well, now I have my own sunflowers growing on the patio. I planted them from seed and they are now in bloom. See what happened today when I noticed a cardinal near my new sunflowers and I thought it would make a pretty picture. Have you ever seen a cardinal in a swing before?
You might remember that this swing was marketed for hummingbirds, and that’s why we bought it (I shared a hummingbird in swing video on a previous blog post). But the juvenile cardinals like it too! It’s so fun to watch them play and swing, and this time I finally was quick enough to capture it with both still photography (the first part of the video), and then I switched over to video mode, but he was nearly done by then. I was amazed at how long he was swinging. He seems to like the attention and looks for me!
If you missed my new painting video that I shared yesterday, here it is again.
I did something different this time… I took pictures at the end of Session 1, Session 2, and then the final finished oil painting. Sometimes people like the minimalist look of my unfinished work. They see stages of my progress in the videos and like points along the way. So, this time, I decided to offer a couple of those progress points. The effect is like a storyboard, a collection of three paintings that tell the story of this cardinal becoming finished art.
Sometimes “unfinished” has a raw appeal that is passionate and interesting; as a metaphor for life, we are often endearing when we are in our unfinished state of being. Many of us fall in love when we are young and scattered, not yet settled and sorted out. The humble energy when we are seen while “in progress” is beautifully human. When we allow someone into our unfinished state of being, into our private space, we share our hearts with others.