It's been such an exciting year around here! The majority of my time is spent teaching art and sharing its joys with the community. I'm so thankful that I get to do what I love, from hosting fun Paint & Sip parties to spending time in my new studio space creating special pet portraits for fellow animal lovers...Read more
I love how art brings out the story in each of us! When I paint live at events, I really enjoy the conversations I get into. People pull out their phones to show me photos of their pets, and this always sparks interesting talks. I might hear about a heartfelt rescue, or how a precious animal comforted through a tough time, or even how I can help them to gift a loved one with a custom painting.
A few months ago I was painting at the Modjeska Canyon Art and Wine Fundraiser, when a guy named Jim walked up and began showing me photos of his gorgeous dog. We had a pleasant conversation, he walked off, and I re-immersed myself in my painting. Suddenly, he returned and asked if I could paint a lion, to which I replied, "heck yes"! If you know me, you know I love cats- and the Texas in me believes that bigger is always better. Jim had a vision of a lion with a baby reflected in one eye and a camel in the other; a metaphor for someone's spiritual walk with God. So I teamed up with him to bring it to life!
I have a favorite store to frequent for horse supplies when I'm in San Juan- American Horse Products. Over the past few years of patronage I have gained a deep appreciation for the quality of products and the personalities of the employees. Because of this I always suspected great leadership. I found out Jim happens to be the owner of the store, and I now understand why it's such a pleasure to shop there! I really enjoyed working with him on this commission-- he's kind, patient, and when I was at the store I could see he genuinely cares about his employees. So, right before I left town for Thanksgiving, I delivered Jim's painting- the first commission delivery of the holidays! What a fun way to kick the season off.
This piece was unique because I worked on it in a number of settings. I enjoy getting out of the studio and painting around people, nature, and life, because it infuses energy into my artwork. I used the lion as a class demo for my young students at Terra Arts, took it up into the mountains for a few days to paint near a stream, and worked on it during a few artwalks.
This painting is oil on Belgian linen, and I loved the surface so much that I've decided to do all future commissions on the same type of canvas. It really helps get a lot of detail into a small area- perfect for painting the individual lion hairs with a small liner brush, and the paint flows across the smooth surface quite smoothly.
Do you have a special pet in your life? I'd love to hear about him/her! Why are they your best buddy? Are they a rescue? Share your pics and stories with me here.
Yesterday -- for the first time in 3 years -- I travelled here to Texas to be with my family for Thanksgiving. The time in transit afforded a prime opportunity to reflect on my life and what I'm grateful for. I do try to make it a practice to focus on gratitude daily, as it really does make a difference in my overall outlook. When things get busy though, I easily forget to stay perched on the positives. So I'm THANKFUL for the annual reminder to count our blessings in life. So, here are some things that have me feeling so blessed today:
My wonderful cats- Keeley and Kail. I've always loved having cats to come home to. At the end of a long day I walk in the door and Kail has recognized the noise of my car engine and is waiting at the bottom of the stairs to greet me. I don't have to walk them- just toss some food in their dishes and 10 minutes later my perfect companions are purring on my bed, providing me with comfort as I unwind and pet them. After tragically losing my first kittie, I waited almost 3 years to get these two. And the house is so much warmer with their companionship. I love painting in my home art studio space because Keeley is always within arms reach, and Kail is in my lap. Their presence helps combat the loneliness I can experience when I'm all by myself.
AN EXCEPTIONAL EQUINE
The horse I lease- Bookey. He is a classy horse and so intelligent- I'm blown away sometimes. He's a Saddlebred -- a breed that is known as the "peacock of the horse world". So my artistic senses are thrilled by his aesthetics. My love of horses surpasses many things. I'm amazed that I can be afraid of heights and speed, yet hop on horseback and gallop and jump without a second thought! When I ride, it's the only time my brain stops spinning with all my to-do's. I suppose it's a form of therapy. When I had a rough couple of days this month, I went for a long trail ride with Bookey. Somehow everything was better when I dismounted. I was thankful for that experience because I realized I was experiencing animal therapy firsthand- and that's what I'll be bringing to children through the Shiloh Arts Initiative.
A SUPER SIBLING
My brother Shiloh- I'm so happy to be spending this Thanksgiving with all my family, and especially Shiloh. We are quite close in age and share so many similarities. I'll have the strangest thought, share it with him, and he will say- "Hey, weird, but I've had that thought too!" We really understand each other, and never judge, always forgiving. Difficult circumstances have kept us apart the last few years. So it's really special to be seeing him again this week. He is such an important person in my life that I named my new art and animal therapy project for him- the Shiloh Arts Initiative. Shi and I had great challenges in childhood. But God has been faithful and brought both of us to places I'd never have imagined- and this I give thanks for every day.
Animal therapy- I'm acknowledging the powerful effect of this in my own life for the first time this year. The morning before I had that therapeutic ride with Bookey, I taught in one of my retirement homes. It was difficult for me to hold it together that day and to distance myself from my own problems long enough to give of myself to my precious students. One of them has recently come out of a coma and gotten an adorable little goldendoodle, Misty. She brings her to class and all the residents light up and giggle like little children as they play with Misty. As I sank my hands into her fluffy curls that morning, the stress melted away and I felt my strength gathering. As I continued to teach I would glance at her sweet face or scratch her chin, feeling like I could at least get through that hour. I can now say that I'm grateful for those difficult days because I believe all that much more in what I'm now doing to help at-risk children.