Gail’s Garden

A very gracious woman commissioned me to paint an anniversary gift for her husband. She wanted it to be “through her eyes”, across her lap – showing her hand resting on her leg with her wedding ring, looking out across her garden from her garden chair.

In order to paint it, I had to go experience her garden, through her eyes. What a magical experience, full of joy and heaven. A delightful place, full of flowers and butterflies and bees… a well-loved, orderly chaos of color and life.

We had tea in the sunshine. We shared joy in the morning. The mountains echoed the vibrancy of color and life and sounds of birdsong.

The garden gate slightly opens from the pathway, leading back to her home, but closed enough to keep us embraced, almost secreted in her garden.

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“Gail’s Garden” – 24″x 36″ – Oil

I had taken a thousand photos, hoping to compose them all into a working painting. I cannot remember all the different kinds of flowers and insects there, but what a joy.

Before I painted this, I was struck by Gail’s grace – the elegance of her motions and softness of her hand while working with her plants. I painted a kind of “warm-up” painting of her clipping a flower, her braid falling behind her back. When I placed it in the gallery, her husband bought it. But it was not the painting she wanted.

After I completed the commission, I took back the portrait piece, and she was delighted with this one. It was what was in her heart. It is one of the most joyful paintings I have ever painted.

It was a painting of Gail’s heart.

Early Works

I had always drawn or shown interest in creative endeavors, but I didn’t paint until I was 14 years old. After finding money on a sidewalk, I used it to buy my first Grumbacher oil paints; and copying from paintings in library books, learned a few things, painting on my bed. If you look closely at my very first piece (after a Vermeer painting) I used the pointed handle-end as much as the brush, but it turned out well for a first painting.

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I now possess this again, thanks to my aunt who kept it all these years. There were more paintings in between this and the painting shown below, but I have no records of them.

This work reflects the times, this being painted in my junior year of high school, while listening to Moody Blues, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Cat Stephens and others. I think it’s about 18″x 24″, oils, naive – but done in love.

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I gave the painting to a man who just came back from ‘Nam, and his wife and child. He is still my friend.

Although at that age our soul and passions are often misdirected, I am glad now that my art never left me. The Lord gave me art as an anchor, and later, a way to understand more of Him.

 

 

 

 

 

A Taste of Home

There are those things that happen every day in our lives that define who we are at the time.

Raising children was the happiest and most substantial of times in my life, the things we did together, and what we enjoyed together, how we lived.

We ate meals together, we read books while we were eating, or talked, but meal time was always good. Food was important, I thought I was making nutritional meals and healthy snacks simply by making them myself. Through the years, I discovered what was not healthy was sugars and white flours, things like that, but the transition of understanding and lifestyle was slow.

I was shopping at a sidewalk produce market, where a young Italian boy told me his grandmother did not use any sugars in their apple pies. It was a combination of apples that made it just right, along with few, but perfect, spices.

My crust was made with real butter and whole grain flour, my pie filling made with that little Italian boy’s grandma’s apple recipe… give or take a little of this or that.

I thought it was so healthy, we would eat them for breakfast, or supper, or whenever. I’d make 6 at a time.

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“A Taste of Home” – 18″x14″ – Oil

I haven’t been able to eat too many of any pies for some time now, but I savor the memories of eating together with my children. I love the bowl with the red stripe that was found at a yard sale, a hand cutting blender for the butter into the flour that I bought from Goodwill, a rolling pin from my husband’s aunt for our wedding gift.  The “salmon pink” counters (that came before I got there) tell a story of a house I once lived in, wanting to change the color of the counters yet never getting to it. Even the counters tell a happy tale now.

I still have this painting, will pass it on and not sell it. They can later if they desire. For me, it holds a representation of dear, dear times.

 

Another Hero

Jamie Fraser aside, my “more real”  hero was King Arthur. I loved King Arthur. My heart thrilled and sorrowed in his story.

While homeschooling my children in elementary school, we did study the dark ages, the iron and leather age, the Roman rule in Britain. Sometimes it would get so exciting while reading an adventure we could raise our sword arms, other times, we would weep, like in Mary MacLeod’s version that we read aloud together.

I still have nearly 20 books, including LeMorte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle. Versions by Roger L. Green, Samuel Lowe, John Steinbeck, T.H. White, Antonia Fraser; the Usborn “Tales of King Arthur”, and the less fictional Geoffrey Ashe, John Matthews, Andrea Hopkins, Geoffrey of Monmouth and the King Arthur Illustrated Guide by R.J. Hutchings… and the Idylls of the King by Tennyson. Wonderful stuff.

We have our books about William Tell and Robin Hood, but King Arthur – he was my hero.

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“King Arthur” – 36″x48″ – Oil ©

This is one of my most favorite paintings ever that I painted, because I felt that I got him…

One of the houses I lived in had troubles with spiders and other things, I had hired a woman who did a wonderful job with insect control. She bought King Arthur while spraying the room the painting was hanging in.  That was one of the few paintings that I really missed when it was gone.

I think my whole heart went into painting this one, the plants and overcast sky, the movement in his horse and clothes, the confidence of a true-hearted man.