Tribute to Spring

Monday, May 1, 2017

Spring Sycamore

48″ x 60″

On my weekday bike rides to and from work, I pass underneath a row of Sycamore trees along 6th Street. Spring arrives to these trees as a revelation, and to me, too. In this painting I just finished, I tried to capture what I feel when I gaze into the trees from below as the leaves are just bursting forth.

Happy May Day!

Art fair fun and feedback

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I write this morning with a keen awareness that summer is almost here. The delicate spring colors, yellow-greens and green-whites, will soon give way to deeper, more rustic hues. Life in Gainesville will briefly slow under the belting heat and the reduction of student throngs. When I must emerge from the air conditioning, I will sweat and scurry across the open spaces, and any tree with dense foliage will be a blessing.

Work in progress

Speaking of Florida heat, I’ve recovered from my first street art fair a few weeks ago. From people taking selfies in front my paintings and several nice sales to unsolicited advice and feedback, not all of it positive, I will be back for more in the Fall if I’m accepted to the show. Art is a matter of taste, and there is no universal in this regard. One of my favorite moments happened when a woman eagerly beckoned her friend to come and look at my paintings. The friend took one glance and proclaimed, “It’s nice, but it’s not for me!” and kept walking.   How simple; how true. When it comes to art, it’s usually is like that, isn’t it? We know instantly whether something is for us. Another person–someone who bought a painting–took time to critique my work. “You should do more of the kind of painting we’re buying from you, less of the other ones,” my patron said, waving a dismissive hand at several paintings in my booth. “That other stuff is too easy.”

I chewed on this for a while. Was he right? Have I been playing it too easy at times? I gave this some real thought. As a self-taught artist, I’ve never been exposed to the brutal critiques in art schools, and I don’t usually overhear people’s negative comments because I hang my paintings and leave them for a month or two.  When people talk, I don’t hear it. So the feedback, while hard, was worth entertaining.

He did have a point, and at the moment I am indeed working on a more technically challenging painting. However, as a painter I continue to navigate by intuition, listening closely to what feels right, what sits well with me over time, and what I can live with in my work. Although some of my paintings are technically harder than others, my inner world dictates what emerges at least as much as my technical ability.

The truth is that sometimes I need to paint in a more raw, simplistic way, because to do so is its own kind of challenge–part of learning to loosen up, play, and allow things to be imperfect, not fully formed or realized all the time. Which is, for anyone who knows me well, not so easy for me at all.

Guy taking a selfie

 

The wedding paintings

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Over the past few months, I’ve had several almost-finished canvases in my studio, all lacking the final touches that allow me to move on to something new.

Then, last weekend, I got married.

Bride and Groom

Newlyweds

The lead up to the wedding involved things that don’t usually consume me, like countless trips to Michael’s craft store, the florist, and other frivolities such as lots of late-night anxiety dreams about the weather, the food, and my wedding day hair and make-up going horribly wrong.

But in the end, it was a flawless spring day, dogwoods blooming, with friends and family joyfully celebrating and welcoming my ecstatic husband Thomas and I into the community with love.

Wedding Toast

My brother Justin, giving a toast

I returned to the studio after the wedding and knew how to finish my pieces.

Flowers 1

Wedding Flowers (1)

It was easy when I realized that they were all somehow about the wedding, and I’d needed to live out the wedding before I knew this.

Flowers 2

Wedding Flowers (2)

Now, I can see that the paintings are about the wildflowers in my bouquet, about the paper lanterns my mother and I hung on the tree by the dance floor, about the way life can be so hard but still there are weddings, still there are flowers.

The Wedding Tree

Wedding Tree

 

2016, here and gone

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Celebration

The Celebration

48″ x 60″

2016 brought unexpected gifts and losses. Perhaps trying to absorb it all, I recently returned to an old theme–trees losing leaves, somehow at the height of their beauty.

So here’s to all that’s come and gone this year, from the blue blazes of grief to the joys that endure.

Happy New Year!

Sweetwater Light

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sweetwater Light, 48×60″

Our near brush with Hurricane Matthew in Gainesville, FL ushered in the fall. Besides the cooler weather, I love this time of year for the light–broody and golden at once. Soon, it might even be cool enough for a midday visit to Sweetwater Wetlands Park.

Birds with hats

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Flapper

Back from celebrating my nephew Jackson’s first birthday with family in South Florida, I’m home today trying to stave off a cold I likely picked up from kid germs at the party. It was worth it, though.

Jackson's Smash Cake

On the subject of kids, I’ve been painting with kids in mind. These bird paintings were kid-inspired and painted by the kid in me.

The Market

I got the idea for bird hats from my friend Meggen’s young daughter, Addie. Meggen, who knew I was painting birds, texted me a picture of Addie’s drawing, in which even the bird babies have hats (jaunty tilt berets, no less):

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Great idea, so I used it. Kids use back, of course. We borrow from them, they borrow from us.  Just invite little people into your studio, give them crayons, and they’ll unapologetically emulate what you’re working on, but create something new, too, something you’ll wish you’d imagined, something you might want to embellish upon later.

What’s next?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

You Are Here

The Walk

30″ x 48″

Recently a friend told me that whenever she finishes a project and doesn’t know what to do next, her husband says, “What are you afraid of? Do that.”

Art follows life, and lately my life has taken some interesting turns. I moved in with my partner Thomas, and I’m painting in a studio in our shared home. We’re talking about starting a family, too. These prospects are exciting, and they scare me. I’ve grown accustomed to my space and independence, and I never expected I’d want to be a mom. Yet here I am, fear and all, slowly walking into new territory.

Most of the time, I’m even enjoying it.

 

Birds

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lately I’ve been making some watercolor greeting cards, just for fun, and often to keep me sane during meetings. I like the cards but I don’t take them seriously–I think of them as childlike and somewhat trivial.

Bird Card

Recently I mustered up the kid in me and made a bigger version of the birds on canvas.  It’s a simple painting a child might enjoy. Who knows–maybe an adult, too.

Birds

Birds, 30 x 48″

The thing is, the more time I spend with children (and consider starting a family of my own), the more I feel like the trivial one (especially spending so much time in meetings). Meanwhile, the kids in my life see straight through trivialities. They hate sitting still and want nothing more than to feel the simple joy of making stuff, playing outside, and participating fully in life.

Bird Card

They use bright colors and simple shapes in their art.

They get excited when the sun wakes them.

They still love the birds.

Bird Card

 

 

 

Dry Gardens

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

FullSizeRender (1)

Dry Garden, 48 x 48″

After an extremely busy Spring at work and exciting changes on the home front, I return to the blog to realize that it’s still alive, if not rather dry. This is fitting given my latest pieces–more cacti gardens.

FullSizeRender (2)

Cacti, 20 x 30″

Though I’ve been absent from the blog, I have been working on a book about the personal aspects of being a counselor. It’s slow growing, like a cactus, and when life heats up, I neglect to water it. Still, the book keeps reserving me a seat at the writers’ table, even when I refuse to sit down.

Perhaps what is meant for us waits for us.

Speaking of writing, I did recently publish a piece about counseling. If interested, you can read it here.

 

 

The Dry Spell

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Dry Spell

The Dry Spell

36″ x 48″

I’ve been painting succulents lately. Succulents are draught-resistant plants whose fleshy tissues are fat with water. I love their funky shapes and their metaphoric humor for surviving the dry spells of our own lives.

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