Following a Hunch

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I posted this close-up pic on Instagram and had a hunch that I would paint it and possibly add some elements of collage. I wasn’t sure though. So I started out slowly drawing the contours in pencil. So many times, I am unclear as to how I will proceed with a drawing/painting, but just beginning, making a start, almost always reveals what I want to do next.

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*Note: I do not trace my photographs. I know there are artists who do this and that’s their decision. But I think tracing cuts out half the fun! I love to prop the photo on my iPad up in front of me and draw in my sketchbook looking back and forth for shape sizes and line intersections.

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I decided I wanted to keep the line work evident, but to switch up the line quality. So I chose a Sharpie Fine Pen, a grease pencil, and a bic pen to give three different textures to the lines. For some reason (a hunch) I wanted to leave the lilies in pencil thinking I might collage them or something else.

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I began to lay in color, bright, oozly and wazzly color…

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At this point the idea of adding in collage elements was pretty strong in my mind, but I wanted painted color everywhere, even under whatever I might collage.

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So I scoured magazines for oranges, and pilfered my paper stash for other decorative papers…

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The collage part was so much fun! But it does take a bit of time choosing just the right papers, where they might go, cutting them into just the right shapes, deciding how much or how little to collage.

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But in then end it was so worth it! This is my favorite of all the recent florals!

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I love the jewel tones of watercolor juxtaposed with the bright textured papers. It’s difficult to see in a photograph, but there are shiny bits of paper that just add sparkle to the overall image. I’m definitely doing this again! And yes, I’ve done this kind of watercolor/collage before, but hadn’t in a while so it felt like discovery. You should try it too!!

**This one is in my Etsy Shop, just waiting to be “picked”.;)

 

Whoa Nellie!!

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I nearly bolted out of bed Thursday morning! I was not expecting that. The three days prior had worn me out…I figured I would have a tough time making myself get up. Monday I hung our school art show all day. Monday night we enjoyed the art show and all the amazing work my students had created (more on this in an upcoming post!), Tuesday I took down the art show, Wednesday I taught all day, then capped it all off with a root canal that afternoon. Oi! I was beat. Done. Finito. Caput.

When creative horses have been held at bay for too long, they get a crazed look in their eyes. They stamp their feet, foam at the mouth, chomp at the bit. That’s how I felt Thursday morning. The creative horses could smell the freedom, my hand on the gate, ready to let them loose! They were raring to go! But my tired body wasn’t.

So I puttered around yesterday, petting each horse, saying sweetly to them: soon…very soon…we’ll go out for a trot…you can play…you can run…a bit at a time…take it easy…calm down…here’s an apple. A bit of sketching, a row or two of knitting, a lot of grocery shopping, and friends at lunch. A good way to ease back into this artful life. Certainly my artful life INCLUDES the Art Show and all that it entails. That horse had full use of the playing field for a couple of months. Now that he is back in the barn to rest for a year, the others can romp and run at will. And when I’m ready to ride, we will have a lovely time.

I’m taking out my rich brown  mare named “Downtown Drawing” today. Looking forward to being regular with this again. So many horses to ride. So little time. Ah me…I love this artful life!!

I would be…

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Bird in Winter

That bird out there, he thinks it’s Spring!
In frigid frost his pipes do sing.
Through the dark night he carries his tune.
As morn reveals the barren waste, he croons.

He seems unaffected by Winters’ harshness.
Does he not see the bare trees leafless?
He chirps on though cold he must be.
Does he not pine for food for his family?

This bird in Winter I would be …
To sing in a blanched world the Spring of eternity.
To chirp and tweet the cold night through,
‘Til morn reveals the Beauty True.

-jpe
11/24/2013

***I came downstairs one below freezing morning last month, and a bird outside was “singing loud for all to hear!” (movie Elf reference:) I love birds. Don’t you?

*****Though the book was nearly finished, I just had to include this poem in my recent book of poetry, Words On A Line.  It would make a great gift for anyone you know who enjoys poetry!

Christmas Treasures

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Christmas Memories

Oh the ache of Christmas,
of the years rolling by,
of children growing…I cannot stop it,
no matter how hard I try.

Middle boy says at table-
“I don’t get it this year…
It doesn’t seem like Christmas
Yet it’s almost here.

It’s a week away
and it feels like any other.
The few things on my list
hardly give my heart a flutter.”

“You’re older now my son…”
I say to him point blank.
Yet this morning I weep ponds
o’er the pictures in my memory bank.

The boy so full of glee
he hardly could contain
What Santa just might bring him…
A front-end loader, a Thomas train?

And this was in November!
bouncing, running ‘round,
trying to sit still long enough
to write his wishes down.

Then post them on his bedroom door
But that was not enough!
He must remind Santa’s messengers…
This is serious stuff!

Then in the wee-est hours
Christmas morn did he awake
To tiptoe down, survey the loot,
Then bursting, he would take—

His sister and his radio
to play the Christmas tunes.
Softly first, then louder still…
Their parents, surely, would waken soon.

And just to be sure,
in the room they would creep
Then hop on the bed
mom and dad pretending to sleep.

It is these bleary-eyed memories,
seared to my heart every year…
I can’t bear to see them passing
and n’er return I fear.

Does being a mother
mean that we get to hold
all the joy of receiving
and the pain of letting go?

Does it mean that I’m a vessel
to hold the years of a child?
I think that I may burst as well
They are too precious, lovely, wild!

Is this what Scripture means
when Mary treasured them in her heart?
I can’t begin to touch the pain
of her Son’s end, nor of His start.

From manger-lay to hung-on-a-tree…
how could a mother hold
the years of Your Child, boy to a man,
Could only be Love, and Love so bold.

I know just a taste of her vessel heart,
mine is still being swelled
by the boy-becoming-man-years…
More memories to be held.

-jpe

18 December 2011
After a conversation with William at the dinner table, almost exactly the way I wrote it here.

****William is now 16. And though this was written two years ago, he said this again to me just the other day. Only a few things on his wish-list. I like to think it’s a sign of contentment in one so young.

It’s Christmastime!

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Come With Me

I have so much to share with thee,
my online reader and friend,
I think I shall post–’til the day that I toast–
the New Year coming ’round the bend.

So here I go a rhyming
sharing poems present and past.
So we can enjoy the season
making merry with mirth ’til the last.

I hope that you’ll join me each day
right here on Drawn2Life.
Set aside the crazy to-do list
and if you can, all suffering and strife.

For this is a season of Jolly
Glad tidings are coming to be
Hope and Love in Emmanuel
is becoming reality!

-jpe

12/1/3013

My Lollipop Girls & Memory Lane

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I’m trying to gather myself after last night’s Art Show. It was the culmination of weeks and months of preparation and planning, of vision and hard work.  Though it was an amazing evening, which I’ll share with you someday soon, it is always a bit de-centering.  I do still have much left to do to close out the Art Show chapter, but I waken feeling a bit lost: “what next?”, what was I into creatively before the last month of full-on Art Show prep began?, where would I like to turn my energies now? etc.  Today, my plan is to clean my house which has suffered neglect for quite a while.  It will feel so good to slowly, methodically move through each room to clean and tidy up.

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The night before our school’s Art Show, I had taught all day.  Exhausted from that, and from the thought of the mountain to climb on Thursday, I sat at my drawing table to draw from a photo of Maddie I had just snapped at dinner time.  She bought a yellow lips lollipop at school that day and was showing me her “lips”.  It was a good and restorative thing to sit there, after she had been tucked in, slowly drawing my sweet daughter.  Then a memory of another daughter and a lollipop came to mind.

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This is my oldest child, Catherine. You can see the date of this pencil sketch. She was 5 years old.  As I drew Maddie, I remembered drawing Catherine from life…she sat so still and long enough for me to draw this, probably due to having a yummy red lollipop to lick while I drew. I had to go digging to find this sketchbook.  There’s a bin of sketchbooks I’ve filled over the years sitting out in the garage.  There are more stashed in a closet upstairs. And still more here in my studio. I remembered the dark green, hardbound, wire bound sketchbook with the star sticker on the cover to denote the “front” of the sketchbook.

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I remembered sitting on the park bench while my older two kids played.

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I remembered drawing their favorite slide there at Ardmore Methodist Church.

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I remembered Catie and William playing together on the “fire truck”.

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I remembered that my boy was the cutest thing I had ever laid eyes on.

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I remembered Catie liking to draw in my sketchbook. A sweet picture of her with her brother on his first “skateboard”.

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I remembered Catie riding her bike with training wheels.

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I remembered how hard it was to draw William as he rarely stopped for long on his bike.

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And then this.

The birth of  my third precious child. Maddie. This would have been the day after she was born. I remember it. I remember thinking how can you draw such exquisiteness? I remember thinking that the pencil lines needed to be as soft as possible to adequately depict the softness of a newborn. I remember thinking that this sketch didn’t come anywhere close to showing her beauty.

But I am glad that I drew it. So glad I drew all of this and all the thousands of other sketches and drawings I have sitting in that tupperware box and stashed in so many other places.  They are more precious to me than photos, though I love them too.

I’m not sure this has helped me gather myself and move on today.  But it has served to answer the What’s Next question…to continue drawcumenting this beautiful life I’ve been given. It is indeed FULL, art shows and all! Cleaning will be good to do today, since seeing through teary eyes is not a huge hindrance to that kind of work.

Pulling Down Deep Heaven: Part 3

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Terror and Wonder

Two thousand or so years ago, a baby entered this world. The golden drop of Heaven descended into a manger of hay.  Events surrounding His descent were filled with terror and wonder. Shepherds were terrified at a Bright Being telling them Good News of His arrival. These same shepherds later marveled at the manger and returned home filled with wonder, rejoicing at what they had seen.

Even in that day, a massacre of children was a ghastly part of the story. Terror-stricken parents grieved the loss of their babes, as distant Kings were wonder-struck by an infant King for whom a Star heralded the way.

We are never asked to sugar-coat the very real terrors of our world. Nor are we left on our own to deal with them. We are asked to hold both the Terror and the Wonder in our hands and hearts. We are called to allow the Golden Drop to permeate everything and undo all the sadness and fear.

C.S. Lewis knew this well. In the chapter (from which this series takes it’s title) from Lewis’ third and final book of a space trilogy, That Hideous Strength, , we read:

“Do you know,” said Ivy in a low voice, “that’s a thing I don’t quite understand. They’re so eerie, these ones that come to visit you. I wouldn’t go near that part of the house if I thought there was anything there, not if you paid me a hundred pounds.  But I don’t feel like that about God. But He ought to be worse, if you see what i mean.”  “He was, once,” said the Director.  “You are quite right about the Powers.  Angels in general are not good company for men in general, even when they are good angels and good men.  It’s all in St. Paul.  But as for Maleldil Himself, all that has changed: it was changed by what happened at Bethlehem.”

For today, at least today, we need not pull. We need not strive. Our efforts to bring bits of heaven into our darkened world can be set aside for a moment. Deep Heaven has come to us. All we need do is receive. Laying down our weapons of peace for beating back the darkness, we can marvel and wonder at the incarnation of God. Light has come to us.  Heaven has descended. And we gasp and whisper the Beauty to one another, like candles lighting other candles, saying He is here! He is here!

May your Christmas Day be filled with a Wonder that seeps into the sad and fearful places of your life. May it lift you aloft to be able to see Light in places you haven’t seen it before…in manure filled barns, in empty stockings, in stars, and even, (can we speak it?), even in terrifying tragedies.

It came upon the midnight clear

It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old
From angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold
Peace on the earth, goodwill to men, from heav'n's all gracious king
The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come with peaceful wings unfurl
And still their heavenly music floats, O'er all the weary world.
Above its sad and lowly plains they bend on hovering wing
And ever o'er its Babel sounds the blessed angels sing.

O ye, beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow
Look now for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.

For lo the days are hastening on, by prophets seen of old
When with the ever circling years shall come the time foretold
When the new heaven and earth shall own the prince of peace their King
And the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

*If you’ve missed the first two Parts in this series, click here for Part 1, and here for Part 2.  Merry Christmas!!

Little Bird

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A little pink bird sits in the Christmas tree in my studio sunroom.  He looks out at me from the white branches (fake table-top tree:) as I sit every morning to sip  guzzle coffee, to read and reflect. This is one of my newly acquired ornaments this year. I’ve spruced up this little tree, as it is “my tree”.

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I announced to the family two years ago that I wanted to have, instead of a Frasier Fir tree, a white fake tree for the living room.  I had seen this absolutely gorgeous tree in a friend’s photograph of a Paris store window and I wanted a bit of Parisien holiday in my house. But  my family revolted! Gasped in horror.  No way I could win.  So, just like my dear grandmother, I decided I would have my own little table-top tree, white for me (hers was green) and decorate it however I like.  It is in process…I hope to add a new decoration to it every year.

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This year, along with the pink bird and a few other ornaments, I added a crocheted tree-skirt.  I’ve typed up a little FREE pattern for it, so that any crocheters who’d like to can make it for their table top trees. My tree is nowhere near what I remember the Paris shop tree looking like…but I like this little tree so very much, with it’s pinks, lime greens, and blues, a very happy site in the studio!

*The second drawing I made December 2010, when I first got the tree. I remember now that it sat on a table very close to my drawing table and wound up with art supplies underneath it. Now it sits in one of the many windows in the room to be enjoyed by those driving or walking by on my neighborhood street. I’m prolly stretching it…but perhaps it’s a teensy bit of Paris for my Kernersville street. 🙂

Drawing Friends

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Drawing with friends downtown Kernersville has been one of the highlights of my week since last Spring. We started out at the Factory and kept drawing through the summer there. then we moved to the Ciener Botanical Gardens in the fall and now we draw at Eclections, a wonderful artisan booth space with a cafe and seating area.

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Sometimes we chat more than we draw…

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Other times we’re quiet and concentrating on our sketches…

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But most of the time we are chatting AND drawing, multi-tasking at its best!

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I love drawing my drawing friends! Can you tell?

Maddie’s Menagerie

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It’s been a while since I’ve shown you the menagerie that lives on Maddie’s bed.  The first drawings I made of the critters she houses were when she was in second grade, and then third grade, and fourth.  Now, as  a fifth grader with her double bed (we switched out rooms and furniture when our eldest went off to college:/) the arrangement is different.  She is much taller now, so the end-of-the-bed assortment gets in the way as she sleeps.

The way she arranges everything on her bed is so festive! The old bed which belonged to my grandmother Catherine, looks positively inviting  with it’s explosion of colorful pillows and plushies!  There’s “Lips”, the beanie baby fish, “Snippy” the small sea turtle, “Squirt” the large sea turtle, “Rainbow” the bear beanie baby (whose birth date on the inside of the little card attached is her diabetes anniversary, which was yesterday, btw!), and then, last but not least, “Isabella” the unicorn, or the pig, or a pig-unicorn??  This last addition to the menagerie occurred at Halloween of this year as Maddie chose to be Agnes from our favorite movie Despicable Me.  It’s a kid-size body pillow that she snuggles with all night! (I don’t think she would like me to write that bit…she is slowly growing into those “that’s not cool mom” years.

The following are my drawings of her menageries from years gone by.  She asked me the other day, “Is it too babyish that I love stuffed animals on my bed?”  My heartfelt response: “Not at all!!  I hope you have stuffed animals with you for as long as you want them!”  Thoughts of her college dorm single bed bursting with pillows and stuffed animals filled my vision!  Oh why do our dear children have to grow up?

Our cat, Lucy, loves to join them for her daily siesta!