Tree n Tulips

9×12 original pastel on La Carte paper, $235, framed, plus shipping

Some paintings paint themselves.  “How long did it take to paint this?” people ask.  I tell them it took X hours, plus 16 years.  When I am in the zone, it is magical, easy, intuitive and colorful.  I had just finished six portrait commissions and it was time to cut loose.  I painted knowing I didn’t have to please anyone.  This one is for me.  This one is for fun.  I like how it turned out…free, fanciful, flavorful.


12×16 original pastel on La Carte paper, $350, framed, plus shipping

There is something about a beach that requires full concentration and attention.  No multitasking allowed on that sand playground.  I like that idea…full fledged absorption into a task, whether it is building a sandcastle, burying a friend and his wiggling toes or making a river that extends from the water source.  I find myself multitasking throughout my entire day. I talk on the phone, check my e-mail, clean the bathroom, organize shelves…all at the same time. Multitasking is killing me.  My brain is jumpy.  I think I may have misplaced some of it.  The only problem is that I don’t do anything very well. This painting reminds me of what life is about. I would like my life simpler, more purposeful and healthier.

In Search of the Perfect Magnolia Tree

I get sheepish when I am getting ready to go on an artist date.  Have the dogs been out?   Check. Has everyone eaten? Check. Do I have my camera? Check. I sometimes look for reasons why I have to stay.  My husband is so good.  He supports me 100 percent.  “Have a great time,” he says as he gets on the riding lawn mower.  I feel bad that he is working around the house and I am not.  Good grief, I just need to get into that car and go.

Last week I was all set to find the perfect magnolia tree.  I am on a magnolia roll.  Besides, if I didn’t go soon, they would all be gone.  Magnolia blossoms only happen once a year and if you don’t catch them in their splendor, you have a long wait til next June.  Every time I had been out running errands I saw the most wonderful trees but didn’t have the time to stop or didn’t have my camera to record such beauty.  This was it.  I needed to perform.

During my journalism days, my favorite part of being a reporter wasn’t investigating or talking to anyone…it was composing the story.  If I didn’t get the good quotes or ask enough questions, my stories were weak.  I am a naturally shy person but can overcome that tendency if I am properly motivated.  It is the same with photography and getting a good painting.

My plan was to head down the side street and check out the magnolia trees that I saw on my walk that previous morning.  At House 1 I slung my camera around my neck…that would show that I was a serious artist.  I confidently knocked….no doorbell.  No one.  Gosh, such a huge magnolia tree.  I am in the South.  I am in the country.  One could get shot for trespassing.  I went around to the back porch.  I knocked.  Cute,  older Southern lady answered.  She was delighted at my request.  I am in!  I headed back to that front yard and realized that most of the blossoms were too high.  Some had been battered about from the huge thunderstorm the night before.  Some were turning brown.  The sun was hiding behind some clouds.  Drat!  Imperfect lighting.  My intense paintings need intense lighting.

House 2.  No one was home.  I stood on the edge of the front lawn.  Well, I actually trespassed a little.  It was for a good cause.  But like I said, one can get shot around here.

House 3.  The perfect magnolia tree in the front but the property looked a little shady.  Unkempt yard.  Weeds.  Lots of wasp nests by the front door.  Open garage with a Harley. Should I knock?  Lots of cartons of wasp and insect killer.  I am standing in a stranger’s garage.  I arm myself with a business card and timidly knock.  The hair on my neck stands up.  No answer.  Just as well, I justify.

I was done with houses.  I drove to the next little town and looked longingly at the magnificent magnolia trees in yards.  Sigh.  I found a park with public trees.  Yes!  I parked and discovered that the flowers in the trees were about 20 feet up in the air.  I would certainly have a different perspective, but not what I had anticipated.  I toyed with the idea of climbing something when a very kind Southern lady stopped and waived.  She felt sorry for me.  With her sweet Southern voice, she welcomed me to Social Circle.  Yes, there is a town in Georgia named Social Circle!  She said all I had to do was to drive down the road, take a left at the light and there would be a place called “Magnolia Manor.”  This was the place where I would find what I was looking for.  I was in!  She even told me that if there was a red truck parked there, the proprietor would be there and taking pictures would be no problem.

I found the place and that is what I saw.


Wow!  Bingo!  I had found it.  The sun came out from behind the fickle clouds.   Click.  Click.  I had what I wanted.  The essence of things Southern.  The blossoms were low to the ground.  I was elated.  I am not going to share my photos so soon.  That will come in the form of paintings.  Here is one last image.  What an artist date!

Thank you Social Circle.  Thank you Magnolia Manor.  Thank you sweet Southern lady.

Painting is a Lot Like Playing Volleyball


A little while back I got a chance to play volleyball with some girls I had been coaching.  Parents were watching.  I hadn’t warmed up my arm and my back was tight that day.  I hadn’t planned on playing volleyball, but turning down a chance to play with girls is not in my nature.  I stood back and bounced the ball three times.  I was ready to serve, but the critic of my brain took over.  “You are gonna miss.  You aren’t warmed up.  You are gonna choke.  People are watching.”  Sure enough, the ball went right into the net.

The next day I went to a pastel workshop with Margaret Dyer.  I am a huge fan.  Seeing her work is breathtaking.  She makes it look so easy.  There were other accomplished artists there.  The voices began.  “You aren’t really an artist.  You started too late.  You don’t have time to complete this painting.  You are an imposter.”  I listened, then started dishing it right back out.  “Yes, I am. I have painted from live models many times.  Yes, I can do this.  Yes, I am tough.  I can work in a crowd.  I know how to use color.  I know how to express myself.  I am a real artist.”

Painting is a lot like playing volleyball.  Most of it is a total head game.  Sometimes I have to wage war against the internal critics, the voices, the negativity.  I have to be mentally tough. I have to talk back and not give up.

This won’t be the last battle.  There will be many more.  My answer gets stronger to the barrage of doubt.  “Bull,” I will say.  Then I will serve one over the net and I will paint with confident expression.