On a recent drive with my husband, I was exhilarated to see an amazing field of sunflowers in full bloom. I instantly knew I had to get some photos so I got up early the next morning and took nearly 100 photos. I was particularly enchanted with some sunflowers toward the back of the field that were reaching high and looking to the rising sun. I thought, "There's a deeper message here," and I knew these would be my first ones to paint.
I was reminded of the Bible account of 10 virgins who were keeping their lamps full of oil in anticipation of the Bridegroom who would arrive at an unexpected time. This was to be the wedding of all weddings and they didn't want to miss their chance to be in the this once in a lifetime event. Standing on guard so to speak, just as these sunflowers, I can imagine the young women's excitement when they heard the cry that the Bridegroom was coming!
Do doubt many were asleep, not expecting an arrival in the wee hours of the morning. Some perhaps, were not prepared with oil or wicks for their lamps, but the young women had been excitedly awaiting this moment and no doubt ran out with joy to become a part of the glorious wedding party.
I may be reading a lot into an obscure patch of sunflowers standing tall in the morning darkness, and of course all of the sunflowers would at some point turn to face the sun, but this moment of seeing just a small patch reaching up... watching and waiting.... well, it was a spiritual moment indeed. I could imagine them saying, "Don't miss the Son."
Painting & Photo Below:
"Here Comes the Sun" / 10" x 8" / Pastel
Original in my Etsy Shop
Throughout my pastel art career finding storage solutions for finished pieces has been a challenge. I have typically kept finished pieces in the resealable plastic bags that I have shared in videos. I also include a piece of foam core board in the bag for support.
Because this can be time consuming, I have come up with a nice and efficient way to store my paintings and catalog them as well. The end result also makes for a very nice presentation of my paintings.
Check out these pics showing how I use a Sketchbook of Black Canson Drawing Paper as a Pastel Art Storage System.... (see the picture descriptions for more info). You could use a sketchbook with plain white paper as well (which would probably be less expensive), but I think the black looks professional. I also use a separate sketchbook to paint directly on the pages and protect in the same way. Check it out!
Often in life and in art we can feel alone. We don't have to be stranded on an island or a solitary figure on a beach (as in this painting). Sometimes even in a crowded room or in an art workshop with many other artists we can feel isolated and insecure.
This painting was inspired by someone I know who was innocently thrust into a situation of being alone in a tragic and painful way. And yet, she found her strength by looking ahead and into the light (as the figure in this painting) to a hope that is beyond what we can see with our eyes.
Perhaps my greatest joy in the success of Monet Cafe' (as an art group for hungry artist around the world), is the feeling of support and encouragement. Sharing and communicating with others helps us to realize that we all experience times of feeling inadequate as artists, or that we don't measure up in the artistic world.
May I encourage you to look ahead into the light, not to the left or the right by comparing yourself to other artists. Rejoice in the simple ability to create without worrying about how it measures up to prescribed artistic standards. Like the footprints in the sand, time will erase all that we have done and yet the experience of our journey will remain.
Scroll through Slideshow for Progress Shots and Captions:
"Renegades in Yellow" / 12" x 9"
I remember the healing smell of salt air as I walked toward the beach. These yellow flowers danced in the breeze of the salty air and I remember how they seemed perfectly misplaced on the sandy landscape. How wonderful that life finds a way in the most unexpected places.
The spontaneity of painting can be increased when the supplies are simple, limited and easily accessible. I loved the results when using this unsanded Canson Black drawing paper combined with using only Prismacolor Nupastels.
This is a cost effective, practical and great way to add life and energy to your work. Give it a try.
One of the most common questions I get from aspiring artists is, "How to I learn to see and boldly express color?" I remember feeling the same way when I was beginning my artistic journey. I would see a painting I admired and think, "How did they know to add that splash of red," or "I would have never thought to add purple to a face, or green in a sky!"
Over the years, my work has intensified in color as I have learned to see and express color in a new and exciting ways. The great news is that "punching up color" can be learned. Here are some tips that may help...
1. Use Expressive Color Sparingly: Instead of having bold color shouting all over your painting, reserve those bold and brilliant colors for impact. For Example, in a primarily green landscape try adding a pop of turquoise near a focal point, or a hint of magenta on a tree trunk.
2. Use More Neutrals: It may sound contrary to making your paintings pop with color, but even a brilliant yellow has trouble competing next to a brilliant pink. Neutrals will provide a calming base in which to rest your brilliant expressive colors. Try to focus on desaturating (neutralizing) larger shapes, and saturating smaller shapes.
3. Begin with a Colored Background (or Underpainting): Painting your surface bright pink, orange, or brilliant lime green can often get you color inspired and provide a springboard to creating an expressive piece of work. Remember.... don't cover up all that beautiful underpainting, and be sure to try and let the color "peak through".
4. Paint with Emotion: We don't have to paint what we see, but we can learn to paint what we "feel". Break out the yellows and oranges when you feeling energetic and joyous, and cool things off with blues and purples if you are melancholy or just need to feel peace.
5. Use Unusual Color: Take a look at your overall color palette and try to identify the colors you don't use often. For example, there are often some unnatural looking greens and pinks in many pastel sets. Try something different and break out of your color habits.
6. Be Observant and Imitate Artists that you Love: Yes, it's okay to try and reproduce color palettes from other artists. I often see a painting that makes me gasp and I will become inspired by the overall color palette. Choose your own reference photo and try to reproduce the same general color palette yourself.
7. Experiment: Small color studies are probably the best way for you to grow in becoming more expressive with color. Choose a small black and white reference photo and create 10 or more small paintings with varying color palettes for each.
And what's the last suggestion? HAVE FUN! This artistic journey is futile if we are not enjoying the process of learning. Think of it as a grand adventure and the destination is not a beautiful painting, but a beautiful experience in learning and becoming better artist!
"Color is a beautiful mystery that keeps an artist enthralled for a lifetime. Nature has almost infinite variety at her disposal. It is an unfair contest. But we try even so." - Malcom Dewey
"Walking by Faith"
In life and in art we often have to "walk by faith". Things can be uncertain, scary and down-right intimidating at times. It is common to compare ourselves to other artists- always the best ones, right? Forgetting that they too had fearful beginnings and times of doubt.
I love to encourage the budding artist to not only press on, but to have fun. Try to be a kid again, color outside of the lines, soak in the newness of it all as you begin the journey to grow and develop your own unique style.
So I titled this painting, "Walking by Faith" as a reminder that we all have to take that first step, even when the path is not yet clear, and the ground feels a bit rocky and rough. I pray I encourage you to lift up your eyes and embolden your hearts to press on- knowing that with each step your artistic horizon will beautifully come into view.