Storytime Sketches

“When you honor the ordinary moments of life, you bring balance and joy to your family.”

—Shea Darian, Seven Times the Sun

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For almost three years, I have been sketching my family in the evenings while my husband reads the bedtime story. When they were younger, we used to read picture books, but now we have moved on to chapter books. (Lately we have been reading the Prydain Chronicles, a series of books I loved when I was a kid.)

Anyway, since Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I have been thinking about how grateful I am for my family. These sketches bear witness to this gratitude.

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 Ian reading to Morgan in the Living Room, gouache on paper, 6x9” I think this is an afternoon scene.

Ian reading to Morgan in the Living Room, gouache on paper, 6x9” I think this is an afternoon scene.

 And finally, here is the most recent sketch, from last night!

And finally, here is the most recent sketch, from last night!

Happy Thanksgiving to my blog readers! I hope that you find time to spend with the people you love.

Here in This World

“But what is it then that sits in my heart…?”

—Mary Oliver

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"But what is it then that sits in my heart,
that breathes so quietly, and without lungs--
that is here, here in this world, and yet not here?"


--Mary Oliver, "The Leaf and the Cloud" excerpt

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I’m really too busy to blog this month, but here are some paintings and works-in-progress to show you that I’m still alive. I’m preparing for THREE shows in the next two months, and feeling a little insane. I have never worked harder at painting in my life, and I’m totally exhausted, also I keep losing my keys and glasses and falling asleep. Aaah!

Soon the shows will be hung and I can resume a more sustainable pace!

Please come to the first upcoming show: “Here in This World” which is a two-person show including oil paintings by Ellen Sapienza and myself. Opening reception is Saturday, December 1st, 5-7 pm, at the Schmidtberger Fine Art Gallery in Frenchtown, New Jersey.

I’m soooooooo excited!

 on the easel: a pat of butter #workinprogress

on the easel: a pat of butter #workinprogress

Ok, back to work!!!

Monotype Workshop

“Don’t worry about it too much. Just do it.”

— John David Wissler, artist

 “Field at Kings Oaks” one of my first monotypes! 7x10”

“Field at Kings Oaks” one of my first monotypes! 7x10”

On Saturday, I got to participate in an all-day monotype workshop at Art at Kings Oaks in Newtown, PA. Leading the workshop was the amazing artist, JD Wissler. (You can hear an interview with him on the Savvy Painter podcast.) JD is one of the kindest people I have ever met; he inspired me with his genuine joy and goodwill.

 Here is a picture of JD demonstrating the monotype process.

Here is a picture of JD demonstrating the monotype process.

JD also showed us books containing monotypes made by his friend, the artist Emily Nelligan, and also Degas. I was amazed by how much feeling was expressed with such simplicity.

 This is an Emily Nelligan monotype. (The other monotypes in this post are mine, from the workshop!)

This is an Emily Nelligan monotype. (The other monotypes in this post are mine, from the workshop!)

I had never made a monotype before; it turns out there are different ways to do it, and JD was showing us his favorite way. The nice thing about his method is that it doesn’t require a press, which is expensive. Monotypes are prints made by painting or drawing on a smooth, non-absorbent surface. We used plexiglass.

 Small square of plexiglass 5x5”

Small square of plexiglass 5x5”

Step 1. Paint on plexiglass with oil based, black speedball block printing ink.

Step 2. Draw on the plexiglass, either with a brush, or wiping away with a rag (subtractive painting), bits of cardboard, sticks, grass, sandpaper…. whatever! experiment and have fun.

Step 3. Place the paper on top of the plexiglass and rub it down vigorously and thoroughly with a bone folder.

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Step 4. Ta-Da! Lift up the paper and see what you made! It’s such a fun surprise!

Step 5 (optional) You can paint over it later, or work into with pastels, or use it for ideas for future paintings!

 My first monotype! 5x5”

My first monotype! 5x5”

Not only did I learn this delightful, new art-making method, but I also got to spend time with my dear friend, the artist Kristen Peyton. I met Kristen in Italy during the summer of 2017, where we were roommates at the JSS in Civita painting residency. (Read my Interview with Kristen Peyton, Reflections on Resonance, and Story of My Trip to Italy.) Kristen was in town, visiting from Virginia, because she had several paintings in a group show at Art at Kings Oaks, where the workshop took place. (The show was fantastic!!)

Anyway, here we are together on Saturday, taking a selfie during the monotype workshop:

 Kristen and me!

Kristen and me!

Making monotypes involves a serious letting go of control. It felt like just the perfect thing for me, as lately I have been struggling so hard to “paint well.” Monotypes balance chaos and control in a lovely way. No matter how hard you try, there is always an element of surprise. Wonderful things might happen by mistake with the ink and the paper, that you didn’t plan, but are actually better than what you planned. The important thing is to just do the work, and allow the process to happen. (This seems like a pretty accurate metaphor for Life, too.)

 Here’s a photo of the teacher, JD, giving some guidance to Kristen.

Here’s a photo of the teacher, JD, giving some guidance to Kristen.

“Don’t worry about it too much. Just do it. See what happens.

Doing is the way to understand it.”

— JD Wissler

 Bend in the driveway. 5x5”

Bend in the driveway. 5x5”

I had so much fun making monoprints! I just kept making them, one after the other. I got such a “high” from lifting the paper up to see what had happened, usually nothing like what I thought it would be, but just a delightful surprise. I felt like I wanted to make a hundred, or three hundred of these, or more!

 Field No. 1 (one of my early efforts) 5x5”

Field No. 1 (one of my early efforts) 5x5”

I asked JD if there was a way to translate this joy into oil painting.

“Keep that spontaneity,” he said. “It will inform your painting.”

 Field No. 2 5x5”

Field No. 2 5x5”

JD continued to emphasize the importance of the process. He explained how his last painting always inspires the next one.

“I’m never satisfied with my work,” he said. “My last painting always answers some questions, but asks more questions. That drives my work.”

We made monotypes all day. I had a blast!

 Small sample of class work!

Small sample of class work!

I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to participate in this workshop. I feel so lucky to be able to learn something new and I’m bubbling over with all the possibilities! And I’m even more grateful for the chance to spend time with other artists and talk about art for hours in a supportive environment. What a gift!

 Field. No.3 5x5”

Field. No.3 5x5”

“There’s something good about finding something you love to look at,

and returning to it over and over again.”

—JD Wissler

 Two Trees.  Monotype.  5x5”

Two Trees. Monotype. 5x5”

Girl With a Flute

“The workshop made me question, what is an artist? What is the definition of an artist? Are you an artist because you are paid, or are you an artist because you like to draw or paint?

And…I think I’m an artist. I’m an artist! I am an artist!!!”

— Irene Tatariw Trindle (my Mom) during a recent phone conversation

 Finished collage by Irene Tatariw Trindle, inspired by Vermeer’s “Girl With a Flute” (acrylic painted paper and glue)

Finished collage by Irene Tatariw Trindle, inspired by Vermeer’s “Girl With a Flute” (acrylic painted paper and glue)

A guest blog post and photos by Irene Tatariw Trindle (aka Mom):

Last Wednesday, I signed up for a weekend collage workshop led by Rotem Amizur, a talented artist from Israel. This workshop was an unbelievable opportunity for me to learn how to do collage. It happened like this: I read about it last week when I saw a link for the workshop on Facebook. The workshop was presented by Art at Kings Oaks in Newtown, PA, not far from my home in New Hope, and it was to take place in a few days: October 13th & 14th.  I wasn’t thinking of taking the class; I did not consider myself an artist. So, I “Shared” the link on Facebook in order to spread the word to others.

My artist-daughter, Lauren, kept telling me that I should sign up for it. She said, “You can do this, Mom. I know you can do this.” She felt so strongly about it! She kept telling me to register for the workshop.

Example (from Facebook comments below the workshop link):

Lauren Kindle (my daughter): Mom, you would love this workshop, you should take it!  I wish I could.

Irene Tatariw Trindle: does one need to be an artist to take this workshop?  I would think so…

Lauren Kindle: No need to be anyone but yourself.


The next day, text messages…

Lauren (texting):  Please do it or I'm going to self-destruct with angst.

Lauren (again): The suspense is unbearable.

Irene: Do not self destruct.  There is an opening.  I am in the workshop.,


It made me question, why is Lauren saying this? Why is she saying I can do this? My daughter’s positive energy motivated me to sign up; I had no choice, I had to register for the workshop!

 My painted paper (on the left), from the Rotem Amizur workshop.

My painted paper (on the left), from the Rotem Amizur workshop.

Registration was very easy using the link.  I also called the telephone number to ask if non-artists could enroll, because I would be a collage beginner.

“Do you have to be an artist to take this workshop?” I asked. “Is there an opening?” I was told that there was an opening and that I was welcome to register for the workshop.

And so, I arrived at Kings Oaks in Newtown, PA, where I was warmly greeted by Clara Weishahn.  The first thing I said was:  "Sorry I'm late!"  And, Clara said:  "You are an hour early.  Come to the Gallery and take a look at our current group exhibition.  Take your time and enjoy.  Would you like coffee or tea?" The group exhibition is of 26 artists from across the United States, France, and Israel. 

I enjoyed viewing the works because the artists' works were very different from one another yet they came together beautifully in a colossal historic barn.  It was worth the trip just to look at the barn!  There is also a stone chapel on the property; it is lovely!  I then met Alex Cohen, an artist/curator and Clara's partner.  I gushed over how lovely the exhibit was and that I was looking forward to the workshop. Participants started to arrive and we met the teacher, Rotem Amizur, a beautiful young woman, inside and outside.  We went to our classroom; a perfect cozy  room with lots of windows and wonderful light.  

 Rotem Amizur leading the art workshop!

Rotem Amizur leading the art workshop!

We were given 14+ sheets of plain printer paper. We were told to paint them in pairs with the same colors; there should be two painted papers with the same color. We should have a mixture of light and dark colors, and, warm and cool tones.  We used a 1" brush to paint each paper and supposedly, the first paper would be dry by the time we finished painting the last paper, that is, except for me.  I painted them so thickly that Rotem had to get a fan to blow on my papers so that they would dry in time for the next step.

Then, we were supposed to paint over the dry painted papers, using their opposite.  So, the paper that I painted yellow, a warm color, would be painted over with a cool color such as blue or green.  But, I could not paint too thickly, the brush needed to skim over the palette to remove excess paint.  The paints need to "breathe" on the paper;  that means after I paint the yellow paper a cool color, I should be able to glimpse the yellow under the blue or green paint.

People around me were painting very quickly producing many sheets of painted papers.  Consequently, they had a huge palette to work from.  I was able to do the minimum.  This was my first time working with acrylic paints.  I could not wait to do the “real” art.  However, it was mentioned that preparing these papers was real art, too.

 Vermeer’s painting: “Girl With a Flute”.

Vermeer’s painting: “Girl With a Flute”.

Rotem showed us a book on Vermeer, the painter.  She asked us to look at the darks and the lights in one of the paintings, and the colors underneath the darks and the lights.  She had many lovely Vermeer reproductions that were spread on a table. The reproductions were flipped over and mixed up so that we had no idea what reproduction we were going to select. We had to pick one.  I did not like the one I picked.  I did not like that it was a portrait and I did not like anything about the young girl in the painting. It was called "Girl with a Flute" (1665-70).  I wanted a reproduction of flowers or fruit; I thought those would be easier for me to "manage".  But, I got the “Girl with a Flute.”   

Rotem told us to look for the largest areas of dark and lights in our painting reproductions.  She said we should identify them and we could call the largest one “Pair One”.  Then, look for another pair, and that would be “Pair Two”, and, finally, “Pair Three”.  She said paintings could have more pairs but at this stage we would just identify three pairs.  A pair would be a dark and a light. We used pins to tack our plain white paper to a piece of foam core.  This plain white paper was our "canvas". 

 Starting the collage…

Starting the collage…

My girl in the painting was wearing a dark blue dress and I happened to have a very dark blue painted paper.  So I used my scissors and cut a piece of the paper. I used pins to attach my cut painted paper to my "canvas".  The only cuts allowed were straight cuts.  No curves.  This was hard to do.  I wanted to cut the paper so it looked just like her dress but that was not to be.  Straight cuts, only.  The dress had highlights in it, so I had to pick one of my colored papers that would be the pair to the very dark blue that I picked for the dress.

I would stare at my "canvas" trying to figure out what to do next.  Others were working busily and were starting on their second collage.  The other participants were more skilled and experienced than me. Rotem kindly told me that if I had time, I could do a second collage, but it was ok to just do one.  That took lots of pressure off me.  I would spend lots of time just staring at my attempts. So by the end of the first day, my "painting" did not look like anything but a few pieces of cut out papers.  So, not only was I an hour early on the first day, I stayed 1.5 hours after the workshop ended, hoping to make progress. 

 Day 1, End of Day 1. Work in progress by Irene Tatariw Trindle

Day 1, End of Day 1. Work in progress by Irene Tatariw Trindle

I went home and reframed my thinking.  I said to myself, “from now on I am going to just work on one area and complete it, then go on to another pairing, and then my final pairing.”  I was going to pay attention to what Rotem told us. The next morning, armed with a renewed outlook, I approached my "canvas" and told the Girl With a Flute that I really liked her and we were going to make this work.  I told her that there were lots of things that I liked about her, and that I loved her.  

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Rotem said:  "Look at your ‘painting’ from a distance.  Squint.  Look at your ‘painting’ from a distance again." She also advised us to work with the largest areas first.  It’s ok to layer your papers.  Cut straight lines.  Build papers on top of papers to make curves.  Each piece of paper is attached to the foam core with the straight pins.  So the longer one worked, the more pins in the foam core. 

After all the papers are pinned to the foam core, one needs to glue them to one another, layer by layer.  Just put glue on a small brush and then put glue over the paper and just under the edges.  Then, work around the edges of the paper below that, and so on.  As the papers are glued, the pins are gently removed.  The girl's hat had darks and lights, so I ended up cutting very thin "straight" pieces of paper to help it look lighter. I got into it!

And, then, Rotem said:  "This is beautiful, Irene.  Lets pin it up on the wall with the others."  I was not sure it was ready but Rotem said it was.  After Rotem pinned "my girl" next to the other finished ‘canvases,’ I almost cried with joy.  It looked good.  It looked beautiful.  It looked really wonderful next to all the other completed collages. 

I was so happy;  I could not stop smiling.  

 My Mom and the workshop leader, artist Rotem Amizur! (Thanks, Rotem, for making my Mom smile!!)

My Mom and the workshop leader, artist Rotem Amizur! (Thanks, Rotem, for making my Mom smile!!)

 Wonderful work by the students in Rotem’s workshop!

Wonderful work by the students in Rotem’s workshop!

10 Ways to Play with Gouache

“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.”

—Edgar Degas

  “Yellow Pears”  5x7” gouache on paper

“Yellow Pears” 5x7” gouache on paper

Gouache (pronounced “gwash” to rhyme with “wash,” as in: “I should wash my dishes.”) is an opaque watercolor paint. I like M. Graham, Holbein, and Winsor and Newton brands. But also I have fun with the super-cheap sets you can get at Michaels.

TEN WAYS TO PLAY WITH GOUACHE

  1. Buy the most beautiful fruit you can! Eat some… Mmmm!

  2. Put flowers and fruit and anything else you want on the table. Get your paints!

  3. Mix colors! Mix and splash with water, squeeze colors right out of the tube…

 Have fun! Mess around! Who cares what it looks like?

Have fun! Mess around! Who cares what it looks like?

4. What colors to use? Whichever ones sing to your soul! I like to have white and burnt umber, plus a cool and warm of each primary: alizarin crimson, cadmium red, ultramarine blue, cerulean or sky blue, prussian or indigo blue, cadmium yellow, lemon yellow, and (my favorite decadent color) “opera rose.”

 “Yellow Plums” 5x7” gouache on paper

“Yellow Plums” 5x7” gouache on paper

5. Watercolor paper is a nice surface to paint on. In a pinch, you can paint on almost any paper: scraps of newspaper, grocery bags, or envelopes. Mail a letter to your friend who lives far away. Tell her how much her friendship means to you!

 “Dancing in the Kitchen” gouache on an envelope (letter to my friend Emma)

“Dancing in the Kitchen” gouache on an envelope (letter to my friend Emma)

6. Call your mom and tell her you love her. If you can’t reach her by phone, tell her you love her in your heart.


7. Kiss your sweetheart.

 “Moon Kiss” 4x6” gouache on top of recycled old piece of art

“Moon Kiss” 4x6” gouache on top of recycled old piece of art

8. Pet your cat. Tell him to stay still so you can paint him. (Or just take a photo.)

 “Nora” gouache on paper, 3x5”

“Nora” gouache on paper, 3x5”

9. Love yourself just the way you are. Give yourself a hug. Paint your sad feelings.

 “Isolation” gouache and collage on paper, 4x6”

“Isolation” gouache and collage on paper, 4x6”

10. Reward yourself with homemade pie! Paint, then eat! Mmmm!

I hope this list was helpful for you in your gouache-painting adventures! If this is the kind of thing you like, consider signing up for my online class “A Month of Art Inspiration” that starts January 1st, 2019. Gift certificates available. (This is the kind of class I really could have used when my kids were toddlers and I missed having art in my life!) Limit 6 people.)

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Reflections on Resonance

a guest blog post by Kristen Peyton

 “Across the Tracks” oil on canvas 2018

“Across the Tracks” oil on canvas 2018

Showing at the Lauren Kindle Studio and Gallery was a delight. As my first true solo show, Resonance was the fulfillment of a dream and the beginning of a career.

 It was a thrill to see my work hung together on the walls of the Lauren Kindle Studio and Gallery. Lauren and I had a fun, late night figuring out how to best hang the show. We arranged and rearranged the work and watched as the paintings began to relate and speak to one another, gaining poignancy and presence together as a body in the room.

 Lauren and I hustled around on the day of the opening finishing our last-minute tasks. We printed lists, swept the gallery, and bought wine and snacks, our anticipation growing with each completed task. By 6:00 we were ready to go and already slightly exhausted! I loved that the opening of Resonance was a part of July’s Easton Out Loud. Among our opening night visitors, we welcomed band members from the masquerade that paraded down Bank Street as Resonance opened. What fun it was to join the revelry of that late-July evening in Easton! It was a privilege to be welcomed with such joy and fanfare.

 I am honored by the reception I received in Easton. I have treasured the affirming words spoken to me during the opening and throughout the weekend of the show. I have reread the kind words written in my guest book with great gratitude. I liked what many of you pointed out in my works—the things you saw that I see. You expressed a recognition and an understanding of the intention of my work—my desire to see and translate the abstract nature of our visual experience, to find balance between depiction and dissolution, and to convey resonance through painted colors. Many of you commented on my use of color—calling it luscious, sensitive, and even (thank you!) superb. All of this, I am after in my work.

 My work finds its purpose in the eyes of the viewer. An artist friend of mine once said to me—we don’t know how to look at our own work because we’re often too emotionally involved and close to it. Having a show invites others’ eyes, preferences, and experiences to give meaning to our work—Showing in Easton afforded me the opportunity to have new eyes on my work, giving my paintings new life apart from me.

 As I stated in my Resonance artist statement, the aim of my work is to invite the viewer into an experience of awe and fullness of presence to the moment—to welcome one to notice simple things, like the leaves of a brussel sprout plant in autumn, and to make known the poetry of light revealing color and form. In truth, I cannot fully name the why of why I paint—there’s a mystery to it. Yet, there is simple and deep knowing in me that it is my life’s vocation.

 I am grateful to Lauren Kindle’s invitation to show at her Studio and Gallery and to the many hours she spent laboring in love promoting and pulling it off with incredible success.  I thank you, Easton, for the affirmation you gave to me both in words and in the purchase of my work. You have honored me by giving my paintings life beyond my studio walls and by confirming my leap from painting as avocation to vocation. Thank you for a memorable first show!

 With Gratitude,

 Kristen Peyton

 Kristen Peyton (left) and Lauren Kindle (right) on opening night!

Kristen Peyton (left) and Lauren Kindle (right) on opening night!


Photos courtesy of Daniel Peyton. Many of these paintings are available for sale.

Please contact Kristen Peyton for details.

More artwork from “Resonance” can be seen here: “Interview With Kristen Peyton.”


Upcoming Shows

Art at Kings Oaks October 5th, 6-9 pm, Newtown, PA Kristen will be present at the closing reception on October 21st, 2-5 pm.

The Function of Light Linda Matney Gallery: Saturday, October 13th, 2-5 pm, Williamsburg, VA

 “To the Backyard” oil on canvas, 2018 11.75x10.25”

“To the Backyard” oil on canvas, 2018 11.75x10.25”

 “Reflections in a Pink Room” oil on canvas, 2018, 14x11”

“Reflections in a Pink Room” oil on canvas, 2018, 14x11”

 “Culpeper Farm” oil on canvas, 2018, 11.75x18.25”

“Culpeper Farm” oil on canvas, 2018, 11.75x18.25”

 “Summer Remembered” oil on stretched canvas

“Summer Remembered” oil on stretched canvas

 “Behind Hanover Avenue” oil on panel, 2018, 9x10.5

“Behind Hanover Avenue” oil on panel, 2018, 9x10.5

 “Green Tree” oil on canvas, 2016, 6.25x5.5”

“Green Tree” oil on canvas, 2016, 6.25x5.5”

 “Mahonia in May” oil on canvas, 2018, 20x16”

“Mahonia in May” oil on canvas, 2018, 20x16”

 “Scotland Street” oil on canvas on board, 2018, 10.25x12”

“Scotland Street” oil on canvas on board, 2018, 10.25x12”

 “Rye Beach” oil on canvas, 2015, 8x10”

“Rye Beach” oil on canvas, 2015, 8x10”

 “Durham Point” oil on canvas, 2015, 4x4.75”

“Durham Point” oil on canvas, 2015, 4x4.75”

 “Summer City” oil on panel, 2016, 12.5x12”

“Summer City” oil on panel, 2016, 12.5x12”

 “Brian” oil on canvas, 2018, 12x10.25

“Brian” oil on canvas, 2018, 12x10.25

Flirting With the Sky

“Maybe we would be better as friends-with-benefits?”

—Ellyn Siftar (guest blog post)

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Guest Blog Post by Ellyn Siftar*

I’m a 45-year-old mother of four who has spent the past two decades of her life running a household, raising my kids, and trying to keep it all together.  I knew little of the contemporary artists and had no experience with artistic practices.  Tired of the repetitive nature of the work-home-work-home cycle, three years ago I quit my job and went back to school.  I felt old and stupid and overwhelmed by the workload.  The second semester I decided to “treat” myself to an art class as a way to combat the stress of my other classes. It was no cake walk.  In fact, I spent more time agonizing over my homework in that drawing class than any other class. 

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This summer, after realizing how intimidated I was by oil paints, I decided I was going to woo them into a loving relationship by making a daily rendezvous with them.  Each morning, afternoon, or evening, I selected a few colors and tried my hand at mixing a hue which seemed to match the sky at that moment.  In three colors or less, I painted with a brush or palette knife, on one small patch of canvas.  This color represented the spit of sky between the neighbors’ garages observable from my window. 

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By the end of the summer, I think my pursuit of paints has led me to regular trysts.  I wouldn’t say we are serious.  I think the world of her, but sometimes it feels like work trying to keep the passion hot. Maybe we would be better as friends-with-benefits?  

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*Author’s note: I’m grateful for the friend who clued me in to Byron Kim’s work, Sunday Painting,  (https://hyperallergic.com/421526/byron-kim-sunday-paintings-james-cohan-2018/

Ellyn is currently pursuing a major in Philosophy and minors in Art and Biology at Moravian College.

Morning Sketches

“A child’s attitude toward everything is an artist’s attitude.”

—Willa Cather

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This morning, my 8-year-old son Morgan called to me from the living room: “Mom, come quick and draw me! The cat is sleeping on my lap!” So I stopped washing dishes and came over. Here are two sketches!

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It’s fun to start the day with a quick sketch or two… Here is a recent sketch I did of my 11-year-old daughter, Nell, practicing the viola in the morning. I can’t believe she is in middle school now!!

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Recently we spent the weekend at my sister’s house, where we had a big family gathering. I did some more little sketches of my sister nursing her new baby.

 This is my sister Karen, nursing her new baby on Sunday morning. (More such sketches on my  Motherhood  blog post.)

This is my sister Karen, nursing her new baby on Sunday morning. (More such sketches on my Motherhood blog post.)

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So, that’s all for today. I have a lot on my plate right now with family and art and business, and I’m struggling to do all the things I need to do right now while also getting enough rest. So…. I’ve decided to lower my standards a little and let the blog take a back seat for awhile. I’ll try to continue to write blog posts fairly regularly, but I might not be doing it on a weekly basis. And sometimes, they will be short, sweet, and simple, like this one.

Give yourself permission to rest today!

I love you as you are.

"Do not work too hard, but work all the time."

--Ken Kewley

  "I love you as you are."   oil on board, 17x23"

"I love you as you are."  oil on board, 17x23"

My kids started school last week, and I'm slowly finding my way back into my natural creative rhythm.  I really  thrive on routine!  My ideal Studio Practice starts with some yoga in the morning, and maybe a walk or a little journaling, and then a juicy block of time in my studio from 10 am- 3 pm.  Afternoons, the kids are home and the activities and family obligations take over, and that is a beautiful thing, too!

I intend to work steadily in my studio, but in moderation.  "Do not work too hard, but work all the time," is something my artist friend Ken told me, and it's probably the best advice I've ever had.  I'm going to listen to my body's signs of stress and not overwork it, and hopefully avoid a return of the long-term pain I have had in the past.  (See "With a Light Heart.")

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So, I'm being gentle with myself as I get back into my studio.  I spend time puttering and organizing all my art supplies.  I indulge in some Intentional Loitering.  I lie on the floor of my studio and do some of the quiet breathing meditations that I learned from therapy.*

I tell myself:  "I love you as you are." 

I buy myself flowers...and...I PAINT!!

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*My infinite gratitude goes to Ixeeya Beacher and Dr. Valerie Turner, PT, DPT.  Both of these amazing women have helped me so much with the life-changing physical therapy they provided when I needed it.

Interview with Kristen Peyton

"I invite my viewer into my experience of awe and fullness of presence to something mundane and often missed. My hope is that my painted colors resonate and evoke a response of wonder."

--Kristen Peyton

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Note from Lauren:  I hope you enjoy this email interview I conducted with my friend, the artist Kristen Peyton.  Kristen's paintings will be on display this weekend at Lauren Kindle Studio.

  "Resonance" opening reception: Friday, July 27th, 6-9 pm

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Lauren Kindle (LK):  How did you decide to become a painter?  Describe your educational path and various experiences that have molded you as an artist.

 

Kristen Peyton (KP):  I began painting at a very young age. My childhood babysitter first had the inclination that I would be an artist. She told my parents she had never seen another child color the way I did, focused and devoted. Soon, weeks of Art Camp and extracurricular art classes filled my childhood summers and school years.

I continued my engagement with painting and drawing through high school and into college, receiving a Bachelor of Arts, from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in May of 2012. William and Mary provided a comprehensive studio art education built upon an extensive foundations study, focused on drawing, painting, and print-making from observation. My William and Mary professors were engaged, passionate, and practicing artists, who greatly enriched and deepened my understanding of and confidence in the visual arts. I am grateful for their lasting influence and continued encouragement and support. 

Although a dedicated painter from a young age and a student of art in college, I struggled after graduating to take charge of my own artistic development and find adequate time to paint. I spent the next three years working in non-art related fields, yet, with each profession I wrestled with dissatisfaction, discovering through trial and error that art was clamoring to become my life’s vocation. Thus, I began to intensify my focus.  In the summer of 2015, I attended the Mount Gretna School of Art in central Pennsylvania. MGSoA taught me how to be the agent of my own development as an artist. The following fall, I moved to New Hampshire to pursue a Master of Fine Art in Painting at the University of New Hampshire. I graduated in May of 2017. After earning my MFA, I attended the Jerusalem Studio School’s Masterclass in Civita Castellana, Italy, where I met Lauren and formed a lasting friendship with her and other dedicated painters.

I currently live in Richmond, Virginia, and work as the Director and Curator of the Flippo Gallery at Randolph-Macon College and adjunct instructor of studio art at Randolph-Macon and William and Mary.

 

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LK:  Describe your process of making a painting from beginning to end.

 

KP:  I am interested in small, unassuming scenes that present instances of visual tension created through the juxtaposition of opposing aesthetic elements. These simple moments amplify an intriguing phenomenon I seek to capture in my work—any given motif can be banal and yet, mysterious. Much of my work lacks figure or set-up, not because I do not enjoy painting these subjects, but rather, because I am attentive to what surrounds me. I am always on the lookout for intriguing color interactions and geometries by which I can make a painting. I am constantly composing paintings with my eye and mind before picking up brush and paint. Once I have spotted what it is I want to paint, I overcome the obstacles to set up and paint in front of what I’ve found. At times, this has meant driving two and half hours to return to a painting I composed in my head while driving and setting up to paint on the side of the road. Usually, this simply means that I drag my easel to the back yard or side street.

 

I begin painting by going after the geometries and color interactions that had originally caught my eye. I negotiate in tandem the picture’s color relationships and compositional structure. Color and composition relate to one another like sides of a Ribik’s Cube, as one decision impacts and dictates another. I mix paint with a palette knife to pursue a specify and clarity of color. I apply paint with both palette knife and brush and use little to no medium. The final and hardest part of my painting process is deciding to stop when the painting is done. The ability to pay close attention to my painting to know when to set down my palette knife and stop and when to keep painting is a skill in which I am still maturing.

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LK:  Who are some artists that have influenced you, both past and present?

KP:  I have been most impacted by artists whose works I have had the privilege to stand in front of and see. It is through an experience of awe with the physical presence of an artist’s work that I have been most influenced. I shared one such experience of awe with Lauren while looking at the work of Masolino and Masaccio in the Brancacci chapel in Florence last year. We both stood awestruck at Masaccio’s monumentality of form and vitality of color. This experience recalled a similar one a year prior in Arezzo of being enveloped and invited into the serene presence of Piero della Francesca’s fresco cycle. Likewise, I hold with me the feelings of wonderment I felt in front of Degas’ experimental and poetic monotypes at the MOMA in 2016. Artist such as Diebenkorn, Matisse, and Cezanne have demanded my attention and instructed me in new ways of creating pictorial space and compositional structure. Vermeer, Morandi, Vuillard, and Bonnard have illuminated to me new possibilities of color sensibility. At other times as with the work of Arthur Dove, Bill Traylor, James Castle and Paul Klee the what of what it is I am learning is less obvious to me, but I find myself fascinated.

 

Yet, I imagine it is my friends and past teachers whose influences I carry most closely at hand. I have had the privilege to study under Susan Jane Walp, Gillian Pederson-Krag, Brian Rego, Catherine Drabkin, John LeeNicole Santiago, Elizabeth Mead, and Brian Kreydatus.  I have learned much from both their paintings and their presence.

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LK:  What do you find is your biggest challenge or block to your artist life?

 

KP:  I am at my worst when I become self-conscious and get trapped inside my own head, which I hate to confess does happen especially when I am preparing for a show. I find my work suffers most when I demand too much from it—wanting it to impress, hoping to win the affirmation of others or wishing my work to be sellable and monetarily sustaining. I have found an acute difference lies between striving and straining in painting.

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LK:  What advice would you give to artists just starting out, or to yourself ten years ago?

KP:  Seek to study under generous and good teachers and find places, whether through residencies, workshops, or organically, by which you can form and nurture painting friendships. It is your teachers and friends who will challenge you, inspire you, and advocate for your continued development. Cultivate an ability to learn from all things, even if it is simply what not to do. Take charge of your own learning and devote time for your continued development. You are your own best advocate. Set up studio visits, visit museums, buy paintings you like and can learn from if you can at all afford them, be disciplined and sincere in your work but don’t take yourself too seriously, you’re painting in 2018 after all!

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LK:  You have said “Color is what I’m after in my paintings.”  Can you elaborate?
 

KP:  Although color envelops us it is not easily named or pinned down. It is elusive, dynamic, and temporal, presenting a game of cat and mouse for the artist seeking its capture. Color and its incomparable ability to portray a sensation of light upon canvas is what I am after.   With each painting I respond to surprises of color discovered in my everyday surroundings and seek to paint its intrigue.

 

LK:  Your upcoming show in Easton PA is called “Resonance.”  Why did you choose that title?

KP:  Resonance evokes a musical fullness and variety of sound. Merriam-Webster describes it as “the intensification and enriching of a musical tone by supplementary vibration.” As with music, the rich and versatile identity of a color is revealed only in its relationships to supplementary or neighboring colors. Merriam-Webster adds to resonance, “a quality of evoking response.” To borrow the words of Euan Uglow, “I am painting an idea not an ideal”—a remembered impression rather than a meticulous rendering.

I compose structured paintings that aim at depicting a satisfying harmony of control and abandon, imbued with poetic emotion. I invent, omit, and simplify whenever necessary, intending to arrive at a pleasing balance between described observation and remembered impression.   I invite my viewer into my experience of awe and fullness of presence to something mundane and often missed. My hope is that my painted colors resonate and evoke a response of wonder.

 

LK:  How does teaching art inform your practice as a working artist?

 

KP:  Teaching creates a hunger within me to paint.  In my 2D Foundations class at William and Mary I spend a portion of the semester teaching students how to perceive and paint sensations of color. I have found that when I spend time opening my student’s eyes to new ways of seeing value and color, my eyes are subsequently primed and my sensibilities fine-tuned. For me, there has been great reciprocity in teaching and painting as one mutually nourishes the other.

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Casa Bella, Città Bella

"I will broaden the boundaries of my days to include that slow, Italian sense of time."

--my diary, the day after returning home, reflections of my time in Italy

 flowers at the  Easton Farmer's market , my first day back home from Italy

flowers at the Easton Farmer's market, my first day back home from Italy

This is my final blog post about Italy: reflections upon returning home.  This post also contains all my Italy-related posts, together, at the end, for your convenience.  Thank you for following my journey!

July 28th, 2017 (my diary)

I'm home.  I came home last night.  Ian picked me up at the airport yesterday.  We stopped for espresso on the way home. (I have developed a real liking for espresso!) I'm soooo tired today.  Happy.  I felt domestic, and I went for a long walk around town getting special treats to make a delicious dinner... I went up the hill and bought olives and sausage at the Italian deli.  I also went to the farmer's market and bought lettuce and tomatoes, veggies and peaches. 

 Peaches at the farmer's market.  They are saying: "Paint us!  Paint us!!"

Peaches at the farmer's market.  They are saying: "Paint us!  Paint us!!"

I went to visit a local artist friend and I talked exuberantly about my experience for two hours!

I'm pretty tired.  It will take me a long time to write about my adventures.  But for now, I'd like to say that I have a good feeling about doing art in a broader way.  Preparing, thinking, listening, looking: these more passive tasks are just as important as actually putting paint on canvas.  [I elaborated further on this in a blog post called "Intentional Loitering."]

I will broaden the boundaries of my days to include that slow, Italian sense of time.  I'll allow myself to enjoy cooking, singing, music, and all those simple, good things in life.

I'm going to have more fun and put more focus on my compositions.  I'll play around with colors and collage, and abstraction.  I'll try some still life paintings in the style of Susan Jane Walp.  (She was an artist I met in Italy.  See "Loveliest of What I Leave Behind.")

Life is so good.  I was also realizing, as I walked around my city today, that Easton is beautiful.  I thought maybe it would be depressing, coming back to the United States after having been in Italy, but it's so beautiful here!   I really see beauty everywhere: the alleys, the market, the streets, the river, the flowers...

 flowers in my garden

flowers in my garden

July 29, 2017 (my diary)

Up early in the morning, missing my espresso.  I have to settle for a small strong black of coffee in a small cup.  I ordered a macchinetta and two cute little espresso cups online yesterday.  I'm looking at an art book of Piero della Francesca paintings, and feeling nostaligc about my wonderful (and exhausting) field trip to Urbino, Arezzo, and Sensepolcro... wandering ancient streets with my artist friends, so wonderfully happy, so lost in a maze of cobbled alleys and vistas and rolling hills, talking about art until my heart expanded.  It must have doubled or tripled in size!

[Talking about art:  see Laura Vahlberg:  10 Tips on Painting, Lessons Learned in Civita Castellana, Italy]

 A little sketch I did in my apartment in Italy.  You can see I was greatly influenced by my new addiction to espresso, and what I learned from listening to  Susan Jane Walp , a resident art teacher there.

A little sketch I did in my apartment in Italy.  You can see I was greatly influenced by my new addiction to espresso, and what I learned from listening to Susan Jane Walp, a resident art teacher there.

August 22, 2017 (my diary)

I'm struggling with feeling badly about my output in Italy.  [My Paintings and Sketches from Italy.]  I was just so overwhelmed there.  It wasn't that kind of trip for me.  Someday I would like to do an artist residency where the focus is on production.  But this Italy trip was about something else.  I have to trust that I did the right thing, that my intuition led me on a true path.

Is it still inside of me?  Will it grow and bear fruit?  Or will I slowly lose it, as it fades in memory...?

August 23, 2017

Italy is over.  Two damn sad.

It feels just like a dream...

 "Playing Around" one of my first paintings upon my return home, a little espresso cup. 10x10.5"  I'm very much influenced by my encounter with Susan Jane Walp, who also frequently paints an "imperfect square."  Read:  " Loveliest of What I Leave Behind ."   

"Playing Around" one of my first paintings upon my return home, a little espresso cup. 10x10.5"

I'm very much influenced by my encounter with Susan Jane Walp, who also frequently paints an "imperfect square."  Read:  "Loveliest of What I Leave Behind."

 

My love-affair with my new Macchinetta Continues:

 "Macchinetta" oil on canvas, 9x12"

"Macchinetta" oil on canvas, 9x12"

 " Volevo Scriverte Lettere " oil on canvas, 11x14"  (Translation: I wanted to write you letters.)

"Volevo Scriverte Lettere" oil on canvas, 11x14"  (Translation: I wanted to write you letters.)

 "Caffè e fragole" oil on board 9x12" (Translation: coffee and strawberries.)

"Caffè e fragole" oil on board 9x12" (Translation: coffee and strawberries.)

 "Morning Alone" 3.5x4.75" collage with painted paper

"Morning Alone" 3.5x4.75" collage with painted paper

 "A Traveller in Italy" oil on board, 8x10"  There is a postcard of a  Piero della Franchesca fresco  as well as a little green business card with pink flowers, which belongs to an artist I met who greatly inspired me:  Christina Renfer Vogel .  You can see here, again, the influence of the artist  Susan Jane Walp , whom I met in Italy.

"A Traveller in Italy" oil on board, 8x10"  There is a postcard of a Piero della Franchesca fresco as well as a little green business card with pink flowers, which belongs to an artist I met who greatly inspired me: Christina Renfer Vogel.  You can see here, again, the influence of the artist Susan Jane Walp, whom I met in Italy.

Here are ALL of my Italy-related blog posts!

Dreaming of Italy (July 13, 2016)

I'm Going to Paint in Italy (June 20, 2017)

Agonia e Sogni (a cartoon series anticipating my trip to Italy)

Loveliest of What I Leave Behind (paintings by Susan Jane Walp, whom I met in Civita)

Laura Vahlberg: 10 Tips on Painting (another great artist I met in Italy)

Intentional Loitering (a new perspective on creativity, brought back from Italy)

Roman Moon (poems I wrote in Italy)

My Paintings and Sketches from Italy

Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 1

Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 2

Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 3, Florence

Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 4, Piero della Francesca

Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 5

Alone in Florence (Italy Part 6)

Uffizi (Italy Part 7)

Palazzo Pitti (Italy Part 8)

 

also... coming next month:  my roommate from Italy, the amazing Kristen Peyton, will be having a solo show in my studio gallery!!!!  I'm thrilled and honored beyond words to be able to have her work in my gallery.

"Resonance"

a solo show of work by Kristen Peyton.

opening reception Friday, July 27th, 6-9 pm

 "Studio Visit" an oil painting by Kristen Peyton

"Studio Visit" an oil painting by Kristen Peyton

Lauren Kindle Studio and Gallery

7B North Bank Street, Easton PA

Open hours: Saturday July 28th 10-5 and Sunday July 29th 12-4 pm.

and by appointment 267-247-6364

see Events on my website

 Here I am (left) with my roommate Kristen (right), eating fantastic food at a little restaurant near our apartment in Civita Castellana, Italy.  Kristen was the best roommate I ever could have wished for, as well as being a wonderful, kind, supportive human being, and an incredibly inspiring and talented artist.  Come meet Kristen in person on July 27th!!!  

Here I am (left) with my roommate Kristen (right), eating fantastic food at a little restaurant near our apartment in Civita Castellana, Italy.  Kristen was the best roommate I ever could have wished for, as well as being a wonderful, kind, supportive human being, and an incredibly inspiring and talented artist.

Come meet Kristen in person on July 27th!!!  

Palazzo Pitti (Italy Part 8)

"I stumble about, dazed..."  -- a poem

 Ornate wallpaper and a vase in the Palazzo Pitti.

Ornate wallpaper and a vase in the Palazzo Pitti.

On my last day in Florence, I spent many hours wandering around the Palazzo Pitti, a Renaissance Palace which is now a museum filled with art.  (Also Read:  Story of My Trip to Italy: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven, and:  My Paintings and Sketches from Italy.)

 Outside the Palazzo Pitti are the Boboli Gardens.  I had  already spent some time in the gardens  on an earlier visit.

Outside the Palazzo Pitti are the Boboli Gardens.  I had already spent some time in the gardens on an earlier visit.

A passage from my diary on my last morning in Florence:

26 July 2017...

Morning again, a fresh new start.  Yesterday the Uffizi, today, the Pitti Palace... 

Lumi, the woman who runs this hostel, makes me an espresso, with some nutella and biscotti for breakfast.  Bells are ringing, the air is cool.  I will leave my luggage here in the hostel and wander around Florence.  Then I will come back at two and catch a train to Rome.

Last night I walked far down along the Arno River to a restaurant right on the river bank.  I watched a glorious sunset and ate good food.  I felt a little lonely; I think I might be ready to go home again.

 The sunset view while enjoying my last dinner in Florence.

The sunset view while enjoying my last dinner in Florence.

 My dessert, lit by the sunset.

My dessert, lit by the sunset.

Here are a few of the many photos I took inside the Palazzo Pitti:

 One of many grandiose hallways!

One of many grandiose hallways!

 Standing in that same hallway, looking up at the ceiling.  One of many, many ornate, painted ceilings.

Standing in that same hallway, looking up at the ceiling.  One of many, many ornate, painted ceilings.

 Walls and walls packed with gorgeous paintings.

Walls and walls packed with gorgeous paintings.

 A tender painting by  Artemisia Gentileschi .

A tender painting by Artemisia Gentileschi.

 I forget who painted this, but it's Venus checking Cupid's hair for lice!

I forget who painted this, but it's Venus checking Cupid's hair for lice!

 Detail of a Boticelli

Detail of a Boticelli

 This is a bathroom in the palace.

This is a bathroom in the palace.

 A statue in that same bathroom.

A statue in that same bathroom.

 More ornate ceilings....sigh...

More ornate ceilings....sigh...

 One of many, many rooms of similar opulence.

One of many, many rooms of similar opulence.

 Starting to miss my kids...I had never been away from them for so long before!

Starting to miss my kids...I had never been away from them for so long before!

 A famous Raphael painting.

A famous Raphael painting.

 Detail of a woman clutching her breast, perhaps overcome by emotion... like me!  

Detail of a woman clutching her breast, perhaps overcome by emotion... like me!  

Shattered Vessel

 

I stumble about, dazed,

ravished by sunlight…

My soul is a shattered vessel;

each day it breaks,

many times each day,

again and again it cracks open,

and is reformed, remade,

and filled again with beauty,

unbearable,

unendurable,

beauty.

---one of my Italy poems

 

 

Uffizi (Italy Part 7)

"There is room for infinity in my heart...
-- a poem

  Gherardo di Giovanni

Gherardo di Giovanni

Last summer I went to Italy for two and a half weeks.  (See Story of My Trip to Italy Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six.)  I know it seems like that's all I ever blog about these days, but the whole experience had such an impact on me (it changed my life!) and I need to process it this way.  So, for two weeks, I had an artist residency in Civita Castellana.  Afterwards, I went to Florence for three days by myself.  My second day was a trip to the Uffizi Gallery, which deserves a blog post all of its own.  I'm sharing here some of my favorite photos that I took, but keep in mind they are a "drop in the ocean" of all the art within that incredible gallery.

  I'm unsure of this artist... does anyone know the meaning behind all the paintings of baby Jesus holding a bird?  There were a lot of these images around the museum.  This one is a little concerning.  It seems like he is too young to be holding that bird carefully... that's just my opinion.

I'm unsure of this artist... does anyone know the meaning behind all the paintings of baby Jesus holding a bird?  There were a lot of these images around the museum.  This one is a little concerning.  It seems like he is too young to be holding that bird carefully... that's just my opinion.

I wandered around the gallery in complete awe.  I had a lot of feelings.  I sat down on a bench and wrote poems.

  Masaccio (more on my feelings about him in  Part 3, Florence )

Masaccio (more on my feelings about him in Part 3, Florence)

Writing Poems in the Uffizi

 

There is room for infinity in my heart.

 

I’m so hungry,

but not for you;

It’s this painful beauty I desire.

I’m writing poems in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence,

writhing on an old carved bench, grasped tightly

by the moment, and by my own anguish;

Will I endure this hell forever?

I can’t bear it, yet I can’t turn away.

I feel the greatness within me,

but not my own greatness;

inside my soul are ancient rooms,

and gilded hallways with painted ceilings,

and hanging on those ornate walls

are all the paintings I love,

and all the paintings yet waiting

for my trembling brush…

more of my Italy poems here

  Torso of a man.... I forgot to note the artist

Torso of a man.... I forgot to note the artist

  I forgot to write down the artist.  But man, I love the emotion in that smoldering face.  I have been there!  #feelings

I forgot to write down the artist.  But man, I love the emotion in that smoldering face.  I have been there!  #feelings

  Domenico Veneziano

Domenico Veneziano

  This is Botticelli, but I forget the title.  This woman was a minor character at the edge of the painting, but I felt really connected to her.  It looks like she has something interesting to say.  Or else she has some strong feelings she is holding in, or maybe just a very rich inner creative life...?  #feelings

This is Botticelli, but I forget the title.  This woman was a minor character at the edge of the painting, but I felt really connected to her.  It looks like she has something interesting to say.  Or else she has some strong feelings she is holding in, or maybe just a very rich inner creative life...?  #feelings

 Botticelli's "Primavera"... I wrote a short story about this painting two years ago:   "Botticelli's Weird Party."   It was cool to finally see it in real life.

Botticelli's "Primavera"... I wrote a short story about this painting two years ago:  "Botticelli's Weird Party."  It was cool to finally see it in real life.

 This is a detail of "Primavera," the feet of two of the Graces.

This is a detail of "Primavera," the feet of two of the Graces.

  Botticelli's "Birth of Venus", detail.  The photo isn't so great; I had trouble getting close.  She's very popular.

Botticelli's "Birth of Venus", detail.  The photo isn't so great; I had trouble getting close.  She's very popular.

  I forgot to write down this artist.  Does anyone know?

I forgot to write down this artist.  Does anyone know?

  Detail of the painting above.  I love these glimpses of dreamy mountain scenes you see through these windows in Renaissance paintings.  Also, the cypress trees aren't as fantastical as I used to think, they really are growing all over Italy.  In these paintings, reality and fantasy are interconnected.

Detail of the painting above.  I love these glimpses of dreamy mountain scenes you see through these windows in Renaissance paintings.  Also, the cypress trees aren't as fantastical as I used to think, they really are growing all over Italy.  In these paintings, reality and fantasy are interconnected.

  I don't remember this artist, either.  I love the emotion on Mary's face.  I looked at this one a long time!

I don't remember this artist, either.  I love the emotion on Mary's face.  I looked at this one a long time!

  The ceilings were all incredible paintings themselves.  Here is a sample: a painting that makes it look like a view of the sky through a trellis of birds and fruit and leaves.  

The ceilings were all incredible paintings themselves.  Here is a sample: a painting that makes it look like a view of the sky through a trellis of birds and fruit and leaves.  

  Lorenzo di credi, "Portrait of a Man."  He looks so pensive and beautiful.  #swoon

Lorenzo di credi, "Portrait of a Man."  He looks so pensive and beautiful.  #swoon

  Artemesia Gentileschi, "Judith Slaying Holofernes"  She's a badass.  If you don't know about her, go look her up right now! #feminist

Artemesia Gentileschi, "Judith Slaying Holofernes"  She's a badass.  If you don't know about her, go look her up right now! #feminist

  Detail of blood running down the bedsheets.... wow!

Detail of blood running down the bedsheets.... wow!

  Michelangelo (I'm pretty sure)

Michelangelo (I'm pretty sure)

  another ceiling photo... words can't describe

another ceiling photo... words can't describe

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"I really can't put into words how intense my feelings are,

like my soul has cracked open."


--a letter to my husband, written on the cafe terrace of the Uffizi Gallery...

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I want to leave myself here for awhile, drinking wine, writing a letter, and waiting for a thunderstorm to descend on the rooftops of Florence...

 

Sigh...

Painting with Scissors: Sunday School Art

"The essential thing is to work in a state of mind that approaches prayer." 
--Henri Matisse

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My own art practice is a spiritual one; art-making is a wonderful way to feel close to God.  I believe this is a possibility open to everyone.  With this in mind, I lead a monthly art class for the kids' Sunday School at my church.  The results are always delightful! 

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In February, we tried "painting with scissors," as Matisse called it.  I showed the kids a lot of Matisse's paper cut-out collages from a big book I had, and then we started playing around.

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My understanding is that Matisse was not particularly religious.  As an adult, he identified more with Buddhism.  Later on, after his cancer and painful surgeries, near the end of his life, he may have had another rebirth of faith

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But regardless of whatever you want to call it, it seems clear to me that a joyful, creative, colorful spirit was present in his art throughout his entire life.

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You can't force feelings of a spiritual nature, but you can try to be open to the possibilities.  Making art is the best way I know how to open my heart, to let go of my ego, and give way to something even bigger than myself.

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"I have been no more than a medium, as it were."  -- Matisse

 Here is a piece by Matisse himself.  

Here is a piece by Matisse himself.  

Another blog post about Matisse:  "With a Light Heart"

Imperfection

"Don't try to make pretty pictures--paint for fun and for practice, not for exhibition. 

We are going to take home ability and knowledge, not finished canvases."

--Charles Hawthorne, Hawthorne on Painting

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By courting imperfection, I feel myself growing as an artist.  There seems to be a magical space at the edge of imperfection which is brimming full of potential for growing and learning.  This is only possible when risks are taken; within my failed attempts, I find the keys to open new doors.

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I spent a lot of time recently making very bad plein air paintings, and having a great time doing it!  I'm thinking about shapes and colors in an exciting new way.  I'm following my intuition and I'm bungling around, trying not to take myself so seriously!  I spend LOTS of time mixing new colors, and laying them side by side, seeing how they "talk" to each other (sometimes they sing!) and then...maybe scraping them off.  I usually end up with a complete mess.

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It's ok!  I don't really mind.  I feel like I have to make those bad paintings, I have to get them out of my system.  It's about this process of exploration, that's the important thing.  It doesn't matter what other people think.

What am I seeking?  I'm working hard to figure something out.... my way of painting, I suppose!  I'm exhausted, and it's a little discouraging to come home every day without something beautiful and finished to frame and sell... but I just have to let that go.  

The path of the artist requires an immense amount of faith.

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"I'm feeling so happy about painting... feeling like I'm on the right track, a dog on a scent... something exciting!  Possibilities of paint!...tomorrow I will not fill the whole canvas.  I will leave some open spaces..."  --my diary, May 2018

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Motherhood

"...parenthood is an unmatched opportunity for growing in beauty and creativity."

--Polly Berrien Berends, Whole Child/Whole Parent

 a sketch of my sister Karen and her new baby (2015)

a sketch of my sister Karen and her new baby (2015)

In honor of Mother's Day which happened a few days ago, I have decided to gather all my blog posts about motherhood together.  I will add any relevant future posts, so that they can always be found here.  Looking back over these posts from the past three years, I am surprised to read about the struggles and issues that had once seemed all-consuming, but now have passed away.  For example, my children are older now (ages 8 and 11) and they no longer need me as much.  They are coming into their own independence, and I realize this is a little sad for me.  I miss that stage of life when they were babies, although I am grateful and awe-filled by the wonderful way they are growing and blossoming into themselves. 

Also, I'm now quite immersed in a thriving art career which keeps me very busy, so now my struggle is more about making sure to set aside quality time with each child, and to prioritize these relationships no matter how busy I am.  The one constant theme I see here is the need to strive for balance.  A gracious acceptance of one's imperfections can't hurt either.  Being a mom is the most humbling and love-filled experience of my life!

So...Happy Mother's Day! 

I want to say, I'm grateful for my mom, the most loving, selfless, and understanding woman in the world!  She has supported me in all of my dreams every step of the way.  Thank you Mom!

 a sketch of my son in the car seat, when he was an infant (2010)

a sketch of my son in the car seat, when he was an infant (2010)

Generous Permission September 4, 2015  my first blog post ever, my first attempt to integrate motherhood and art

Sharing Wonder: Looking at Art Books with My Daughter September 11, 2015  

Thoughts on Perfection and Motherhood September 18, 2015

Poems About Paintings Part 3 November 18, 2015  a poem about my son, and a portrait I painted of him

Mother-Daughter Trip to the Met December 23, 2015

 Sketches of my friend Meghan and her new baby (2018)

Sketches of my friend Meghan and her new baby (2018)

The Spiritual Quality of Beauty January 13, 2016  an essay I wrote about bringing aesthetic sensibilities to the art of mothering young children

Housewife on Fire March 9, 2016  how my passion for art was apparently at odds with my ability to be a good mother and wife, and how I worked through it

Finding Balance June 1, 2016  this is a constant quest, but noble and worthy

My Son Is Mad at Me Again June 8, 2016  struggling with motherhood, and using art to process it all

 A sketch of my daughter Nell when she was nine months old! (2007)

A sketch of my daughter Nell when she was nine months old! (2007)

A Room of One's Own September 14, 2016  when I realized I needed my own space, and got it!

Having an Artist Mom October 26, 2016   a guest blog post written by my daughter, age 10

Birth Day December 21, 2016  thoughts about the experience of giving birth

Baby Sketches April 26, 2017  sketches I did of my children when they were infants in my arms

Paintings of Mothers May 17, 2017   paintings by other artists

  "Mother and Child on a Winter Day"  4x6" gouache on paper (2018)

"Mother and Child on a Winter Day" 4x6" gouache on paper (2018)

Story of My Trip to Italy: Part 5

"I've been completely saturated with Italy: color, food, culture, people, artists, and learning a new way of seeing."

--my diary in Italy, July 2018

 Shadows on a wall in Civita Castellana, the town where I stayed for two weeks!

Shadows on a wall in Civita Castellana, the town where I stayed for two weeks!

This is the next installment in the Story of My Trip to Italy series.  (See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and part 4.  Also Part 6 and 7.)  This particular post is actually a few diary entries from the time I was in Civita, Castellana, Italy.

July 16th...

It's such a windy day!  The windows and doors are opening and slamming shut constantly...the days are FULL.  I've made good friends, Italian friends.  And I love speaking Italian, which I do constantly and shamelessly, and, honestly, quite successfully.  I can tell people appreciate that I am trying.  For example, I made friends with an older couple, Elvira and Antonio.  They have treated me with wonderful hospitality.  I have visited them and painted on their rooftop garden in the center of the city, and also they have invited me for dinner twice! 

 Rooftops in the evening, a view from the rooftop garden of my "new family."  [ more photos of them in part 2 ]

Rooftops in the evening, a view from the rooftop garden of my "new family."  [more photos of them in part 2]

Elvira gave me several gifts-- clothes she used to wear in her youth.  They are very cute outfits!  How could I have formed such a lovely friendship so fast?

 My new outfit from Elvira!    (Well, the hat was something I packed from home, as you see in this  cartoon .)

My new outfit from Elvira!   (Well, the hat was something I packed from home, as you see in this cartoon.)

I also met a local young man, Maurizio, who showed me his favorite restaurant.  Fantastic!

 A memorable lunch with Maurizio, a local, and his friends who were visiting from Norway!  Fantastic food!

A memorable lunch with Maurizio, a local, and his friends who were visiting from Norway!  Fantastic food!

 The pasta was made fresh every day!  So good!!  I forget what it was called, but the meat is boar.

The pasta was made fresh every day!  So good!!  I forget what it was called, but the meat is boar.

Also I made friends with Angelo and Giusy, a wonderful couple who runs "the Club," a little cafe in the plaza, and they are so so nice.  [See photo of them in this post.]  I broke my sunglasses a few days ago, and Angelo took me a few blocks to visit his friend, who opened up a little eyeglass-shop just for me.  (Shops are often closed in the afternoons, I'm learning.  Guys usually sit in front of them on benches, taking a break, just hanging out.  It's very laid-back.)  Anyway, this guy fixed my glasses for me, for free.  It was so sweet.  Everyone is so kind!!

 The Club, where I drank many espressos...

The Club, where I drank many espressos...

I've been getting a lot of good feedback from my peers. (Really, they are my superiors, even though many are so much younger than me!)  A woman named Marsal Nazary gave me a lot of good suggestions.  (See My Paintings and Sketches from Italy.)  Most fun was her idea of a "premier-coup," doing a quick, one-shot small painting of the same scene I had been working on (in a larger way) for a few days.  It was a lot of fun working fast and free:  a good balance.  One method informs the other!

I'm learning so much!  Honestly, the overwhelm can be intense.  I'm glad I'm taking some time to process and reflect.  Susan Jane Walp, the guest teacher, is giving a talk at 9 pm tonight!  I really like her, and I'm looking forward to going.  [note: I wrote about it here:  "Loveliest of What I Leave Behind."]

"You know in your heart of hearts what you love looking at."  -- Susan Jane Walp

 Best pizza ever!  I ate the whole thing!

Best pizza ever!  I ate the whole thing!

I'm eating a lot of amazing food, drinking wine, walking (a LOT, with my easel on my back!) and enjoying life FULLY.  I sat at a table with Antrese Wood (who has the Savvy Painter podcast) and we talked and talked.  It was so lovely and stimulating.  I'm so happy I got to meet her!

 A little car in a little alley!  I saw this sort of thing a lot, and I thought it was so funny!

A little car in a little alley!  I saw this sort of thing a lot, and I thought it was so funny!

 The laundry hanging everywhere in Civita was lovely!  If I could have stayed longer, I would have painted more laundry scenes.  As it happened, I only made one.   (See my painting "Laundry In Italy," in this  gallery  on my website; it's somewhere near the bottom.)

The laundry hanging everywhere in Civita was lovely!  If I could have stayed longer, I would have painted more laundry scenes.  As it happened, I only made one. 

(See my painting "Laundry In Italy," in this gallery on my website; it's somewhere near the bottom.)

 On my easel in Italy:  " View from the New Town ."

On my easel in Italy:  "View from the New Town."

"It's such a lovely feeling to know what I want to do with my life!!  PAINT!!!"

--July 21, 2018, my diary