Painting with Leaf & Flower

StaffordCommission

I’ve been thinking about Carol lately. Wondering if she is out in her butterfly garden getting it ready for spring and a new season of winged visitors. I imagine her deciding to move a plant or two, adding in a few more of this or that, trying something different to attract her favorite species of butterflies. I’ve often thought that master gardeners are artists who instead of pen and paint, create with leaf and flower.

StaffordCommissionCenter

I am now certain of this as I had the opportunity to create a painting of her garden for her earlier this year. I had the privilege of visiting Carol and her masterful garden in the fall of 2015. The butterfly garden was at its peak, just on the verge of diminishing for the cold season ahead. Cockscomb, zinnia, cleome and numerous other flowering plants rioted the front face of Carol’s home. She probably has a difficult time getting her guests to come indoors as they would surely want to amble around seeing all the gorgeous blooming. How could I paint such beauty?

StaffordCommissionLeft

I honestly wasn’t sure I was equal to the task. This is a case where the beauty of what one is to capture on canvas seems to overshadow one’s ability to harness it in paint. I took a deep breath, said a little prayer, and dove in.

StaffordComissionRight

She was happy with the results. I could not have been more pleased that she welcomed these paintings into her home with such joy and generosity. And I am tickled with the results as well. Especially that I had a chance to get to know such a wonderful  artist/gardener who lives in my town.

StaffordComissionRightcrop

***These paintings were created as a triptych. The center painting is 24″ x 24″. The side paintings are 18″ x 24″. (This final image is cropped from the right-hand painting.) Acrylic on canvas.

A New Pattern: Roomy Tunic!

RoomyTunicFrontLowRescopy

I’ve actually had this pattern out in my ETSY shop for a few weeks and just have not taken the time to let you know about it. I’ve been wearing mine and loving how it fits and how comfortable it is. The added cowl is just perfect for the cold weather we’re having.

RoomyTunicCowl

This is a terrific pattern for beginners! Simple shapes, simple stitches and the embroidery is optional, but it is certainly not difficult! I love the look and feel of tunics, like Patsy’s Perfect Tunic from last year which is a free pattern written for you in the blog post. The Roomy Tunic uses seed stitch as the accent to stockinette and works up beautifully with the Calypso yarn by Tahki Yarns. You can find this yarn locally at Knit One Smock Too in Winston Salem, NC.  Click here to read more details about the pattern you might want to know.

RoomyTunicBack

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m offering this pattern and all others in the shop at HALF PRICE!!! So from now through Monday, you can purchase Roomy Tunic for only $2.50!! Just use the coupon code ILOVEYARN2 to receive the 50% discount.

Enjoy!!

Dandelion Tune

DyingDandelion1

I get a tune stuck in my head from time to time. Actually, it happens fairly often. It’s not a lovely tune. It isn’t melodious at all. It’s yucky, gripey, resentful, and angry sounding. I don’t like this tune. But every time I’m trying to accomplish something creatively and regular living ramps up a notch, this tune blasts in my brain like a heavy metal concert (or at least how I imagine one would be). The tune engulfs me, surrounds me, I feel it in my chest as the bass notes pound. I try to go where I won’t hear it and it follows me there too. Wanna know what the words are to this tune? I’ll tell you. But it ain’t pretty. I don’t like it. I’m ashamed of it to be honest. But running away from it won’t do. I have to face it, walk into it, stand in the middle of the deafening stage and deal with it.  Here it is:

I’m an artist, people! (Cue the electric bass riff)

And I deserve to have long stretches of time to devote to my Art!

I deserve to have technology that always works for me and a schedule that allows me to ruminate, write, design, craft and execute all the brilliant creative ideas that march into my head!

(Cue the drums here) And would it be too much to ask

that someone bring me a Peppermint Mocha while I create??!

Is this too much to ask? (Cymbals clash!)

Yeah. So there’s the dirty, nasty crux of it. The ache, the demand of my heart. Not exactly the tune you want to have blasting out on a Friday morning, at the end of a week of working to self-publish a book, prepare for an upcoming Art Show (November 21st), get ready to go out of town for oldest daughter’s Senior Vocal Recital, gather cake and other items needed for a reception, help youngest daughter find/create a costume for Halloween, be ready for parents to come visit and stay overnight, begin a weekend of not one, but two soccer games, wonder why the pharmacy didn’t get the inhaler prescription for youngest and oh maybe clean that bathroom before the weekend hits.  (Insert the aforementioned Ugly Tune).

So on Friday morning, as the Ugly Tune bludgeoned me into a meltdown, I do what I know to do…I go for a walk.

A walk is good medicine. At first, a walk feels like escape. Get out of those four walls that seem to hem me in, and go! Pound the sidewalks, breathe huge gulps of fresh air, walk away.

But what happens out there is something magical. Oh, not the sparkly, glittery kind of magic, but the grind it out, substantial, soul reorienting kind. As I stand on the stage and walk, walk, walk, begging God to give me what I want (ie. Ugly Tune), the notes begin to change. Sometimes there’s a subtle shift in chords. But Friday morning it was an abrupt key change. All brought on by the sight of a dying dandelion in the grasses beside the sidewalk.

I do wonder if my neighbors see (or even hear) me mumbling as I walk. I’m talking to God, having it out right there on the sidewalk stage. And do they see me halt when I hear it? A voice so clear I’m sure it must be audible. Right there. On Hill and Dale.

“You are my dandelion.”

Oh? What was that?

“You are my dandelion.”

This dandelion I saw was pitiful in its late October appearance. No bright yellow petals now. Nor even a full head of white fuzzy-tipped seeds. There were only about 5 or 6 seeds left and their tuft had turned grey, hanging on, or waiting for enough breeze to take them off to new lands, to bloom again.

All of this in a split second, the key change, the Voice, the words–You are my dandelion. I don’t think I stopped walking, but I’m sure my gait slowed a bit. The pitiful (though beautiful) image I’d been given was unfolding and weaving a new tune in my heart. The rest of the walk, I listened to the new tune.

“Dear one, you are not a hot-house flower. If I had made you thus, you might, just might, have reason to ask life to bend to your wishes, to rally around you so that your flourishing is assured. But I made you a dandelion, bright and sunny in a field of grasses, the ordinary stuff of life. Your yellow petals give way to many seeds as you die to yourself and your demands. It is only in the dying that these seeds can be carried away to other ordinary places, roadsides, weedy patches to bloom again and bring a bright spot to an otherwise ordinary place.”

This new lovely tune, mingled with tears, washed away the last chords of demand. I picked the tufted dandelion, carried it the rest of my walk home and set it in a vase beside me as I worked on wrangling the book into form. This is beauty. Unexpected. Life-changing. Soul-altering beauty.

I am a dandelion. 🙂

What flower are you?

DandelionDraw

Past Their Prime

DyingTulips

Something in my morning reading prompted me to make my way to the Gardens yesterday to draw the waning tulips and daffodils. I also remembered a conversation with my father-in-law years ago where he suggested I paint dying flowers. I don’t remember too much of what was said. Perhaps there wasn’t much. But I do remember him saying something like “There’s beauty in things that are past their prime.”

DaffsPastPrimeLowRes

I situated my chair with watercolor paints, water jar, and brush resting on the side “table” waiting for when I’d completed a drawing. I first began with a patch of daffodils, some completely spent, others still hanging onto their petals. There was something of reverence in the air as I began to draw the  deep ridges, curled edges of delicate, fragile petals. I chose a 005, very fine tip Prismacolor pen to render the thin, wispy remains of flowers on still strong stems. Light colors, light touch. Aging, mature, old. Beyond their peak for sure. But lovely nonetheless in their delicate state.

TulipsPastPrimeBoldLowRes

I moved my chair to sit at the feet of a large patch of tulips in a similar state of demise. Something in me began to feel that they were, even though delicate and partly wilted, somehow strong and virile with their twisted, grooved petals, their inner stigma still standing, their curled edges. I chose a thicker pen, 05 this time, and wanted to display bolder colors surrounding these aged beauties.

TulipsPastPrimePlayfulLowRes

By the third and final drawing, I was working with the thickest pen, 08. Lines dancing around the page as I followed their playful contours. They now seemed jocund and full of frivolity, even though their days were numbered. Indeed, in some of the other beds, gardeners were working to pull up all the spent tulips and daffodils, making way for other flowers, who will surely bedazzle me as these flowers have done.

TulipsPrimeLowRes

The thing is…I’ve been here, witnessing and drawing these flowers throughout their life cycle.  Drawing shows me the full breadth of living: from seedlings to full-on riotous color (as in the drawing directly above this paragraph), to curling and withering petals fading in the warm spring sun. The flowers nod to me as I consider my own loved ones, their life span, as well as my own. I learn so much from these humble plants. I am hoping for the same beauty, strength, and frivolity in my own waning years.

Thank you tulips and daffodils. Thank you.

*****

For those who might like to know: The pages with a crease down the middle are from my Hand Book Journal. I love this paper to draw and watercolor…off white, toothy. The other images are created in an 8 1/2″ x 11″ Aquabee Sketchbook. Though the pages appear off-white here in the photos, the paper is actually whiter than the Hand Book Journal. A staple sketchbook for everyday drawing, painting and collage.

This & That

IMG_2735

Here are a few things that might tickle your fancy, as they have mine!

I have been so surprised and grateful for the response to my latest shawl pattern, Stripes & Ribbons! I’m very excited that so many folks want to knit this shawl! And I can’t wait to see their versions of it!

IMG_2590

I got this cute dress from our local Goodwill and did a little embellishing on one of the pockets.

IMG_2596

The straps had these heavy, ugly silver things I didn’t like, so I added a couple of fun buttons.

IMG_2602

I write (and sketch) daily in a cheap composition book that I like to cover when I begin a new one. This awesome card was given to me by a friend. It reads:

“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” Card is by Vintage Girl Designs.

FreeformVest

I had been creating these crochet motifs (some I made up and some are out of a pattern book) in order to make a capelet. But shifted gears mid-stream and am now assembling them in a freeform crochet vest. It has been a while since I’ve done freeform crochet and oh what fun it is! Any stitch, any yarn, every-which-a-way!

FreeformVest2

I also have a second sock on the needles and I’m in that lovely beginning stage of a couple of knitted projects. This is where I’m choosing just the yarns, just the right stitches with just the right pattern (my own or someone else’s?) I love the “possibility stage” of yarn projects!

Catie'sQuilt

And THIS, my friends, is NOT my work. THIS amazing quilt is my oldest daughter’s FIRST quilt ever! She saw the pattern in a recent issue of the American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. She began work on it over her Christmas break. Then when she came home from college this summer, she has worked very hard to complete it. She now has the top all sewn together and it is stunning! She plans on having a professional machine quilter to do the top stitching. My daughter Catherine is incredibly talented in many different ways. She has started her own blog this summer and it’s a beauty!

Here’s hoping you have a creative day today!

A Light Touch

LilyBouquetPainting

Some floral arrangements are bold and dramatic looking, like the one my husband gave me for our anniversary. Others are softer looking, lighter in their values of color. This one was given to me by a dear friend and her family from Harrisonburg, VA. I wanted to capture that light and airy feel of the flowers so I chose a lighter touch when putting in color.

LilyBouquet

 

The wonderful thing about being an artist is that you get to decide how you depict your subject. Some artists prefer to paint exactly what they see and stick to the original subject as closely as they can. Others like to merely use the subject as a jumping off point for bolder, richer color, or even abstraction. I often like to do both!  So I created another, very different version of this bouquet I’ll share with you tomorrow. It’s a bit of a process post, so be sure to come back and visit here tomorrow! Can’t wait to show you how it turned out! I think I’m on to something!

For today, may this floral painting lift your spirits and bring a spot of beauty to your life. It has been added to my Etsy Shop, in case you’d like it in your home. 🙂

My Other Blog!

SlowStudyFlowers

I don’t know if you’re aware that I have another blog!

I’ve maintained this one for many years and I’ve been posting there lately some of my drawings and paintings of flowers. If you’re interested, visit me there and consider following Drawn2Life. I’ll be posting here soon as I always have knitterly things to share!

And here’s a link to my overall website where you’ll find so many fun things to check out!

Cheer In A Vase

AnniversaryBouquet2

I love flowers. Have I told you that? I often feel like Monet who said, ” I perhaps owe becoming a painter to flowers.” Yes, indeed. So many ways to depict them, so many mediums to choose from for the color, joy, and shapes of flowers.

In my previous post, I shared the LINE version of this particular bouquet…here’s  a photograph of the actual bouquet:

AnniversaryBouquetReal

As you can see, I do not attempt to put every little detail into the drawings/paintings. Some artists enjoy that. I prefer to “suggest” what’s there, to express the profusion of color and cheer.

IMG_2614

When you choose to work without line, then you’re having to rely on shapes of color and value as well as expressive brushwork to capture the floral bouquet. I love working both ways.

***I have now added the above painting as well as the last two florals in my Etsy Shop for sale. I will add others this week as I share more floral depictions of hope and beauty. The great thing about these paintings is that they are done on 9″x12″ acid-free paper, perfect for framing in a ready-made frame. I suggest the kind with a mat built in. Matting your paintings gives breathing space between the painting and the molding. It also really sets off the image.

***I hope you find a little beauty strewn across your path today.

Celebration Bouquet

AnniversaryBouquet

On June 25th, my husband and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. I have two versions of this gorgeous bouquet he sent me. This one is in LINE and then watercolor added in. Many of you who have followed me here for some time know how much I love line! One of the many reasons I love line is that it becomes a structure for me to hang the watercolor on…very loose and free! Tomorrow I’ll share with you the NON-LINE version. I love painting that way too!

May this artful bouquet bring you a spot of joy this day! Thank you for visiting!

**BTW…my favorite drawing tool at the moment is a Sharpie pen! An artist friend of mine gave it to me along with an awesome watercolor sketchbook for me to fill as I recuperated. I’ll take a pic or draw it for you…I think you’d love to draw with it too!

***Oh, and an update for you on my health. I had surgery on June 4th as a follow-up to what happened to me a year or so ago. Without going into all the details, it was pretty major surgery. Healing has been slow going. But I see improvements every day. I’m so very grateful for all my friends and family near and far who have supported me in these difficult weeks. I can say though, that I feel like I’m turning a corner as I am feeling much better just these last two days. All of these flowers I’m sharing with you have been evidence of beauty in the midst of pain.

Thrive

Thrive

A dear, longtime friend of mine came to visit with me this week. We are both going through a rough patch it seems, though our situations are very different from one another. She told me a story of how she’s been going on walks in her neighborhood where there’s a swath of overgrown weeds along the hard-to-find path. This overgrown area felt to her like a picture of her life right now: everything out of control, none of it making sense or seeming to have any order. One day when she was particularly distressed, she saw a lone flower-weed growing in the weedy chaos. It seemed to be there just for her, a reminder from her Father that He is there in the midst of the bedlam, and that beauty can be found even here. She picked the lone flower taking it home to put in a vase.

The next day on her walk, totally engrossed in her thoughts of the difficulty she is enduring, there it was again! Another lone flower, different from the one the day before. Amazed and touched by this, she picked it again, to take home to her vase so she could have evidence all day long of God’s faithfulness to her.

This has continued to happen each day this week. Simple flowers growing in the midst of chaos, lovely reminders of God’s presence with her.

It made me think of all the beautiful flower arrangements I’ve been receiving over the last 6 weeks. They came while I was in the hospital, they came to me at home. Profusions of color and growth to cheer me and give me hope. They certainly have done so!! And I’ve been painting them, drawing them, trying different methods, but always with watercolor. No pressure to perform, just recording the beauties that have been sent to make recuperating from surgery a little less painful.

I’m going to share with you, one each day, these floral works here on Drawn2Life. A few of them I will offer for sale in my Etsy Shop, in case you’d like to “pick” that bouquet for your very own. But if you don’t, my hope is that as you view them, you might be encouraged and given a glimmer of hope, as I have, for whatever situation you find yourself in.

The above bouquet was not sent to me, but rather gathered by my oldest daughter from our own back yard in one of the weeks following surgery. I had this lovely blue Mason jar into which we arranged the Shasta Daisies, Black-Eyed Susans and various other pretties I don’t know the  name of. The background of this painting/drawing did not work for me at all. So I went back into it with acrylics and some collage. It’s always fun to switch up the materials you typically work with.

**The older I get and the more “rough patches” I go through, I’m increasingly convinced that there are little beauties somewhere along the path. I am certain this is no coincidence. They are lovingly given by friends, family and by God himself to lead us along, to cheer us, to give us encouragement to not give up, so that instead of merely enduring, we might truly THRIVE.