I shared the story behind this painting in an April blog post called “Beauty of Time”. It was a long post and I shared a photo of my real life roses with you. I’m reminded of that today because here it is November and two of my plants have roses in bloom! It’s late in the season for this, but it’s the Deep South (Georgia, USA), so it’s not that surprising really. I was happy to see the beautiful deep red flowers.
I will probably have a new painting to share tomorrow if my day goes as planned. I finished some sewing projects today and caught up on some other things. I’m tired, so I’ll wrap this up. Good night, dear friends.
The geese came back! I thought they were done visiting us for the season, but I looked out and there they were, a small group of them waddling very near our patio. They seemed to be looking in at me, as if curious about what was going on inside the house. I took a short video of one of them waddling away as if shaking his tail feathers with attitude. I used the video as a meme in a text with my daughter. 🙂
If you missed my previous stories and videos about geese, or want to see these again:
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.
When my dad was stationed at an Air Force base in Indiana, he took some college courses toward a degree. One of his electives was a photography class. I was about four years old then, and he used me as his subject for a couple of his assignments. His artistic eye was interesting and those two photos became the best childhood pictures available of me.
Art imitates art, as I needed some references for a children’s book I was writing about my childhood. I “aged” my child self from Dad’s art projects. In his photos I was younger than the age I was in the stories for the book. Fortunately, I didn’t need to get very detailed in likeness, as the paintings were meant to be simple illustrations with bold lines and bright colors. It didn’t matter that Dad’s photos were black and white pictures, or that I needed to make some changes.
This is a case of “Art Imitates Art”, because I was imitating Dad’s unique perspective of a ground level viewpoint of a child sitting in a tree, rather than painting from my own memory of climbing trees and sitting on the branches. The reality is that I was likely only in that tree to stage the photo for Dad. When I climbed trees at the age I was in the story (about me pretending to be a spy by hiding in trees) in the book “Fred”, I climbed scraggly, spindly, tall pine trees from the neglected Christmas tree farm that was behind our house. I’m lucky I never had a serious fall, as those trees were weak and I’d climb them to the top, where the branches would bend and sway precariously under my weight.
A sparse and unhealthy pine tree wouldn’t have made a good oil painting for my story, and surely an adult reading my book aloud to a child would have been thinking, “This tree doesn’t look sturdy enough to hold this child”. Indeed, it probably wasn’t. I gave my guardian angels heavy work throughout my life. I remember my grandma used to complain to my mom, “I don’t know why you let her climb trees. I can’t watch!” Since I was often unsupervised, no one watched as I climbed trees, and I went far enough back into the neglected Christmas tree “forest” (trees planted evenly apart, but overgrown with weeds, brambles, pine needles, and fallen branches) so that I couldn’t be seen by anyone.
Now, that’s a completely different type of story from the one I was telling in the book. So, if art imitated my actual life, the illustration would have come off as slightly dysfunctional, instead of the cheery, fun “little girl in tree” painting that appears in the book. The story is about the creativity of children, and how their natural imagination and playfulness should be respected by teachers, rather than reigned in, controlled, shamed, and snuffed out. It is a story of resilience, of children whose light doesn’t dim, whose creativity outshines the control of others.
Dad’s artistic perspective was a much better representation for the “spy” scene than my own life memory of it. Art Imitates Art. The spy scene was meant to show the imagination of a child, and how adventurous children can be when inspired by their own creative ways to play. My story would have had the opposite effect if I had painted the obvious safety and supervision issues involved in actually allowing a young child to wander alone in an unkempt wooded area full of hazards, to climb trees that looked suspect for bearing the weight of a small animal, let alone a child. Many of the branches were dry, brittle, dead, and close to snapping off. I learned how to find the flexible live branches, although I’d end up covered in pine sap. But anyway, the reader might have been distracted and their adult minds would, and rightfully so, end up on the very path that I was trying to push them out of: reigning in the imagination and creativity of children.
Because, of course I didn’t let my own children wander off unsupervised in unsafe areas to climb weak trees, and I wouldn’t recommend it for any parent to do. So, a bit of embellishment was needed. Instead of an awkward, yet accurate, painting of me in short pants and possibly no shoes on my feet, in a brittle wispy pine tree, with many brown needles and droopy branches, looking like an urchin, I used the idealized version from Dad’s perspective: a healthy tree bursting with autumn color (imagined, as his photo was black and white), a healthy well-dressed girl, supervised, loved, and free to be naturally playful. Art imitates art, and art imitates life… but sometimes life is bettered in the telling through art.
Watch this oil painting come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse). And, if you’d like to know what inspired this art, read the story behind it.
Tonight my heart feels heavy, as many things are weighing on me- many of these things are probably weighing on you as well. The spiritual woods of darkness and solitude, where God speaks to us… this is where I need to go. I plan to pray, rest, and read for a while before going to bed. I will pray for YOU. I believe that I don’t need to know who you are, or anything about you. All I need is to feel empathy for anyone who needs prayer, and that’s all of us. May God bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you and give you peace.
Watch this oil painting called “Time” come to life in 2 minutes (time lapse)
Two days ago I blogged “One gone, another enters” and I was reminded of the story of when Mom died… one dies, another is born. I meant to talk about this yesterday, but the toad drummer distracted me and I had to blog about him first! I figured we could all use something funny and joyful, so I went with that first.
This other story is somber and mysterious, yet uplifting and I’ve shared it here before. But I never know how many have seen the things I’ve written previously, so it’s good to share them again as new friends join us. Also, there’s a bit of an update. The story is now published as the first chapter of “Beauty of Time” and can be read free as part of the new Kindle Vella program which officially launched recently.
I thought I could copy and paste the story in, but Amazon won’t let me do that… which is a good thing I suppose. A screen capture is a bit of a mess to stitch together, so please visit the story directly. It is FREE to read “Serendipity”, and it’s a very cool template, at least in my opinion. The text feels easy on the eyes to read. Anyway, my story is here, and if you like it, there’s a little thumbs up button at the end… that no one has yet pressed. I’m not sure anyone’s even read my stories. I don’t write the type of things that are popular there. But that’s OK, I write what is true to who I am.
I didn’t have a toad painting to share, so this tree frog will have to do. My funny story is about a tiny toad, about 2 inches long. I said yesterday that I’d tell you a somber but uplifting story, but I’ll bump that to a different day because this hilarity that happened this morning is bursting to be shared!
So, the story began a couple of weeks ago. My husband likes to work out in the mornings in the garage. When he lying on his weight lifting bench, a tiny toad bounced by, spooking him and causing him to jump out of his skin. He was then keen to find the toad and shoo him out of the garage. But, alas, the toad kept evading him. Day after day, the toad would stay in hiding until it was fitness time and then would hop away, back into hiding.
Finally, he found the toad and captured it. He released it at the end of the driveway. The next day, the toad was back in the garage, LOL! He was able to catch it again, and this time he let it go farther from the house. The next day, his toadie friend was back. LOL!
Well, this morning, he went to the garage to work out and I heard my bass drum. What was he doing, messing around with my drum set? I go to open the door, and my husband pops inside looking bewildered. The drumming continues, in good steady rhythm. What? If my husband is here, WHO’S THE MYSTERY DRUMMER?
I open the door and look at my drum set. No one’s there, yet the drumming continues and it’s quite good actually. I look at the bass drum, and way, way down, between the foot pedal and the drum head is our toadie friend! The tiny toad was popping his head forward into the drum on perfect rhythm. His timing was impeccable, he’s a natural! LOL LOL LOL LOL The little guy was rocking it out.
I hurried to get my camera, but I missed it, ugh! I so wanted to show you his drumming debut! But, he might return. What if he rather liked it? Of course he probably just got himself trapped there and kept trying to get out by popping forward, inadvertently into the drum head. But… you never know, he might do it again and maybe I’ll be quick enough to capture it on video next time!
Watch my poor beautiful butterfly tree come to life in under 1 minute (time lapse), flowers only… and then in the painting below you can see the full butterfly tree. My heart broke when this tree died this year so I special ordered a new seedling.
So, one tree dies and another is born. I hope my new seedling grows healthy and is soon tall with many flowers. It’s doing well so far and is currently looking healthy. I have a rather somber, but also uplifting story about a human life that dies and another is born. I will save that story for tomorrow.
If you missed my new painting show announcement, here it is! Have a happy Independence Day, no matter where you live. Freedom is for all persons, and is a right of humanity. Be brave, be strong, be FREE!
All photos in the slideshows are of my own family and places I’ve been. Most of the pictures are my own photography (except for the ones that I’m in, and the photos from Germany and Iraq taken by my husband or his fellow soldiers). This is my American story. I hope that you can see how much I love America, and why.
Wherever life finds you, find a way to love your home. The ground beneath your feet must never be condemned, lest you condemn yourself and your neighbors. The blessing to be alive for another new day is a privilege awarded to all who live and breathe.
My new painting featured in the 4th of July show is called “Americana“. See the art page for a 2 minute time lapse version to watch me paint it, and/or options to purchase prints.
Hear my American story, photography slide show, live oil painting of new art “Americana”, and surprise variety show acts! Watch until the ending – there’s a big finish! Please share my special show with your family and friends.
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