Thursday, March 5, 2015

Art, Motherhood, and Mary

  I think when I first started to really really get Mary was Advent 2013. Because at that time, I was, as they say, "very great with child." I was so 'great' I couldn't tie my own shoes. I was exhausted. I was weary of this 9 months of this journey. And I couldn't imagine my husband saying to me "we gotta go load up for a road trip so I can go pay some taxes." However you say "Are you kidding me!?!" In ancient Aramaic, I'm sure Mary at least thought it. 

    On the Fountains of Carrots podcast last week, I was able to talk to the girls about how unique a person-- a presence-- St. Mary (Our Lady, Madonna, Mary Mother of God, Theotokos, The Virgin Mary, a woman of many endearments) is. She is vulnerable and tender, but she is fierce (in the best way) strong, protective and stoic. She has human emotion but unimaginable strength. It's a concept that was hard for me to understand (and to paint) until I went through the process of pregnancy, birth and parenthood.
   Because your little one is your heart--- before you even lay eyes on them. And its a vulnerable feeling for your heart to be out in the world, to see them cry or in pain or not feeling well-- you want to make it all better and take on their pain yourself. You want only the best and the most happiness for them, but life is often messy, bittersweet and hard.

     And so as we make our way through Lent, especially Holy Week, I can't help but think of Mary and what must have been going on in her heart. I can't imagine her great joy and terrible sorrow. And did she know from the beginning? 
   That's why in my Madonna and Child paintings, she is content and joyful, but also measured and strong. There's a whole lot of life coming. And some of it she will have to be unimaginably strong for. She has to see it through to the end.

    Mary, in my eyes, is much more than a passive supporting character on a Christmas Card. She is fascinating and dynamic. She's a strong woman, no doubt about it. Her life didnt just happen to her. She went for it with open arms and heart. I really admire that. No wonder I keep coming back to her with my paint brush, again and again. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tea With Babushka

    This little piece was so much fun. The idea for it came from the idea of the relationship between a girl and her granny--- or a little Russian or Ukrainian girl and her Babushka! My girl and my mama have a very tight bond. There's nothing she likes better than a day spent with her 'Ninny' as she calls her, hehe, and so that was the inspiration behind this piece; a fun afternoon at Babushka's house, feeling very fun and grown up as they have a nice tea together. On the left is the large Russian samovar for Russian tea, plus traditional Russian pastries with apples, jam and honey. Babushka lovingly serves the tea in her cottage kitchen, full of pretty dishes, an icon, and a vase of willow branches subtly announcing the approach of Easter. Out the window you can see that spring has come to the little settlement where the child and her babushka live.

   The 'characters' in this painting are the same grandmother and grand daughter that appear in my paintings Preparing the Easter Basket and The Easter Egg Tree. I guess these people are my 'Easter people' ;) I love imagining them in their little houses, what they're doing to prepare for the coming season and how their faith quietly takes part in the moments of their every day lives.

  I am pleased to report that this piece was listed and sold on etsy pretty quickly! But I fully intend to make prints. I hope you like it! It was a fun painting to create.

  Now, I am turning my attention to my commission work and coming up with ideas for new pieces. Thanks so much for coming by today!~ I'll talk with you soon--

Monday, March 2, 2015

     The days lately have been so busy, yet I feel like there is still so much to get done. Art and Mamahood....its a constant searching for balance and its a rare fleeting moment when it all feels done and complete. It is, I think, never done or complete!

   I'm tired of snow days making us home-bound from church. But I do enjoy quiet days with my family, watching a movie, working on some paintings, playing in my sketch book. I got the receipt letter back from International Orthodox Christian Charities from the donations that were made during the Christmas print special of the print and cards "A Child's Prayer." It's so satisfying to be able to contribute in a small way. My hope is that it goes towards the creation of something good, perhaps even a miracle? You never know!

  This weekend I was looking through my book The Private World of Tasha Tudor and working on some sketching in my little homemade sketch book. I wanted to play around with watercolors, which I havent done in a long time. I love the fluid, almost dreamy quality of water color, but it can be unforgiving. There's much more forgiveness and hope of salvaging a piece with acrylics or oils. With watercolor, you get what you get some times!

   I'm loving looking at my Tasha books though because I am so excited....this summer when we travel up to New England, I will be going on a tour of her cottage and garden! I am so thrilled about this, and just....flabbergasted in a way, that I will be walking into Corgi Cottage, seeing her home where she created and taking in her garden at the height of its summer glory. I feel so lucky and fortunate. And so glad I will be there with a great friend and our girls. For the first time in a long time, I am looking forward to summer!

  Anyhow...I have a little one tugging at me, so I better cut this short. Thanks for your visit today. Wishing an early spring for all of us! Have a good week---

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fountains of Carrots Podcast

   You guys! I am so excited to share with you that I got to take part in a fun podcast with Haley Stewart and Christy Isinger from Fountains of Carrots and it's up today. We talked about art, getting inspired, working with little ones under foot and all sorts of fun and random things. If you'd like to listen you can check it out HERE.

   They've got a great podcast, I've been listening since they started! Great take on faith, motherhood and life. Always a fun listen!

   Enjoy!~ And thanks so much, ladies!~!

Monday, February 23, 2015

St. Lucia goes UK

Funny thing around here--- two days of unexpected snow has fallen! Perfect days to curl up with a hot cup of tea or coffee and a good magazine, and maybe some knitting too!
   I am still on my Nantucket kick, I just got this 'new' old book "At Home in Nantucket" in the mail (I love a good cheap used book!) and am working on a seaside colored hat for Robbie.

   Some exciting news around here is in one of these great magazines to cuddle up with-- the British magazine Homes and Antiques. A print of my St. Lucia  (my 11x14" size) appears above the mantle in the home feature of designer and artist Janice Issitt! Janice has the most gorgeous home that is like an English/Swedish Bohemian dream! I loved seeing the entire feature-- and seeing my Lucia in the mix was just the cherry on top! Here in the states I found the magazine at Barnes & Noble. It's a great magazine and I look forward to seeing some more issues!

  I'm loving the British home magazines lately. Such beautiful, rich and unique homes. The cover of the current UK Country Living also caught my eye--- all that blue and white, be still my heart! Those are my COLORS! :D I am a bit of a cuddle up in a nest type girl, so these kind of cozy rooms are just lovely to me.

  Well, I have some more fun news to share a little later on this week, and I cant wait! If you're home for a snow day, I hope you're cuddled and warm, with no where to go and time to indulge. That's what winter is for, yes?
Til next time,

Friday, February 20, 2015

Art & Faith: Mikhail Nesterov

      So recently I've been asked to not just make art, but to talk about art. Its a subject that fascinates me and captivates me every day, but I honestly am often at a loss for words a lot of the time when it comes to explaining it. That's why I like art-- it speaks for the heart when your words fail you.
   A few days ago I recorded a pod cast with Haley Stewart and Christy Isinger who host "Fountains of Carrots" about my art, and I've been asked to give a talk at church about faith and art next month. All of these things have my mind working, trying to figure out the tangle that is "art and faith", at least to me.
   I thought, perhaps, this would be a good topic to discuss with you all here on the blog too. You can help me work all this out before I get up in front of people and start giggling uncontrollably (my nervous tick, you should have seen our wedding...)
  To start off, I thought I'd share with you some paintings that I find completely captivating--- the work of Russian painter Mikhail Nesterov. He was considered a part of the Russian Symbolism movement and painted some amazing scenes that so wonderfully dove tail Russian folk culture with religious themes, saints, and worship.
   I find all of his work just captivating to the point of tears--- each piece is just perfection. The landscape--- the people--- the smallest little detail. I love his forests, his calm woodland animals, his benevolent angels, his beautiful nuns, his kindly old hermits. Here are a few of my favorite paintings by Nesterov....

This piece is called "Saint Russia" and I am just blown away by its epic detail, emotion and power. It's completely brilliant.

   This is one of Nesterov's most well known paintings--"The Vision of Young Bartholomew." According to THIS source, the story behind this piece is as follows:
"The plot of the painting is based on a Christian legend about a young boy who had problems reading. One day his father sends him to search for some runaway horses, and on his way the youth meets an ascetic. Bartholomew greets him, asks for his blessing and receives one. After that encounter, not only did Bartholomew learn how to read, but he also became a poet. He went down in history known as St. Sergius of Radonezh." 

    For me, Nesterov is a genius at combining rural life with ethereal faith and worship. All of his paintings are so powerful--- and part of their power is their earthiness. These are not angels in clouds or some other-worldly plain. These are people, usually peasants, in very real (though beautiful) settings, with real emotions and real life in their eyes. That is what really draws me to his work--- the scenes are believable and the pieces of faith at once 'everyday' and magical. He's an inspiration to me in a big way as I try to create pieces that combine that 'everyday' aspect with the divine. He is a master at creating the humble Holy moment, and I hope to create art in this similar vein. 
    Because we all know 'a picture is worth a thousand words.' And especially when it comes to explaining something as 'unexplainable' as faith...a picture is the only way to convey it. I think as I've honed my skills and my interests over the last few years, I've discovered that this is my motivation. To paint what's in my heart.

   I hope you enjoyed this little feature on Nesterov! I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you have any favorite painters who capture your feelings about faith when words fail you? Please share!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Easter Missive and Pretty Little Things....

     So, it's Lent. Snow is on the ground and it's cold, but I'm hoping when we get through these next 40 days there will be warm temperatures and flowers blooming. We got things started off with a penitential Ash Wednesday service of craziness with the baby being crazy (limp wet noodle body as we go up to get ashes! Hey, lets try to fling this Holy water font off the wall! Now I will GROWL like a Lenten MONSTER during the quietest moment!!) Oh, tis the season, isn't it!?!

   I'm hoping the other parishoners weren't too annoyed with us. Children should be in church, right? A church with inappropriate noises is a living church, yes? hehehe....     

  But, yes, let's think of flowers and the coming Easter Vigil and Easter Day and Pascha too for my Orthodox friends. I've had many requests for notecards and I am just starting to dip my folk art toe in the water of getting notecards made up, and I thought Easter/Pascha would be a great time to do it. This season of art is one of my favorites. Although I DO love Advent and Christmas there is something special and joyous about making it through Lent and the wonderful celebration that comes with it--- as well as the world waking up to green and flowers once more.
   If you have someone special you'd like to send a sweet missive to this Lenten or Easter season, perhaps these are the cards for you? They're professionally printed on matte card stock  and come in a set of 4--- with two cards of each designs. The images on the card are my paintings "Preparing the Easter Basket" and "Home from Pascha." You can see the sets I have available HERE-- and the quantity is limited since this was just a small test run.

    In other, not Lenten related news, haha, it seems I've been collecting various little...drinking pots, this winter! The one above with my pretty creations by my friend Christine Crocker is supposed to be a hot chocolate pot. I saw it on etsy and oh, I fell in love. Plus, being the chocolate addict that I am, it seemed so appropriate for me to have. And I love all the hand painted detail. It will probably show up in a painting some day!

   I also found this beautiful blue and white with gold edges tea pot in the sale room at Anthropologie one day--- when it was an additional 40% off. I could have never gotten it otherwise, but I feel so lucky to have snagged it. Right place at the right tea pot time, I guess ;)

   As well as drinking tea, reading about Nantucket (see the previous post!) and taking crazed children to solemn services, I've been hard at work on several commissions! I think my spring is pretty booked now, but I know that (as bizarre as it sounds just after Ashe Wednesday) it'll be time to think of Christmas art in no time. So I will enjoy these different projects before its all snow and Christmas here again (which probably should start, er, now?)

   Well, thank you for coming to visit me here today. I hope you come again! So fun to chat!~