Paintings With Soul

Since October 2006 I've been a daily painter, creating a new pet portrait at least 5 times per week. Over the years I've expanded my offerings to include a variety of animals, pets, race horses, children and other treasured heirlooms. In addition, I accept a limited number of commissions each year.

In 2015 I am honored to be the Kentucky Derby Artist.

You may use the links below right to receive my daily paintings via email or to follow my blog with a feed. I post additional info, including in-process jpgs and other related information, on the studio Facebook page as well.

Meanwhile, thanks
so much for your continued support of my artwork.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Kentucky Derby Week - Do not go gentle into that good night

"Do not go gentle into that good night," 14" x 18", acrylics on panel, $599 plus s&h. Inquiries may come directly to me - thank you!

Three years ago I was the official artist of The Kentucky Derby. I was fully aware that this experience, pretty much the pinnacle of my career to date, gave me permission to move on.
I already had been trying to re-brand myself - after doing pet portraits for 15 years, 7 years of daily creating inside that, I had long been ready for a change. And I had been suffering from creative burnout for over a year - I desperately needed to mix things up.

But I was clueless where to turn. My daily painting practice involved such an intensive focus on producing, and I hadn't built in much time for introspection. That was the first change - to give myself permission to slow down and stop focusing on the painting count and start focusing on the paintings' integrity.

Extensive journaling, both visual and written, and many conversations with other creatives guided me. I came to recognize an interest in painting my own life experiences. I began sifting through emotions, relating them to objects and colors and built a visual vocabulary of symbolic content. I threw away the conventions of literal space, and treated my visceral reactions as valid content to fill the painting's surface.

Which is where this painting came from. It began with the death of my maternal grandmother, who I loved fiercely and was blessed to have in my life until my mid-40s. Then within the span of 18 months I lost other pivotal people in my life: my mentor, a dear friend, one of my teenager's friends, my other grandmother, a friend's little son, a beautiful parent and friend, the magical parents of my childhood bestie, my father in law, my son's second mother. I was reeling from one loss to the next.

There was an ice storm one evening while I was at a funeral home. When I stepped outside into the night, the cool air soothed my heart - cradeled it gently and for the first time in a long while I felt safe. Then I heard music of the most delightful sort, almost like fairy chimes. I looked up to find myself underneath an ice encased crabapple tree, it's delicate branches singing as they gently shifted about, all brilliantly lit by a full moon. There were fairies there, dancing on the glass covered limbs, flashing about. And I heard my friend, the one who would be buried the following day, whisper. All is fine. All is fine. And the fairies continued to skip about and the cool air traveled into my lungs and heart.

That moment was pivotal - My story wasn't about what had happened to me - it was about what I was doing while things were happening to me. And what was to happen in the future. And I needed to make paintings about this.

All those years of daily painting were not going to waste - I knew how to draw, I knew how to capture the nuance of a gesture, I knew how to paint eyes that follow the viewer about. All that was left was learning how to listen to my emotions and paint an authentic response.

It's been tremendously challenging, but also intensely rewarding, this new direction. I am learning to speak through my brushes. To not apologize for myself. To live with intention and to honor my instinct. To commit to making art, whether it be good or bad, but mostly, just to show up.

And to not go gentle into that good night.

Here's the link to a photo essay of my Kentucky Derby journey, in case you missed it yesterday.
Also, another link to Monday's post about my artistic growth.
Here's Tuesday's post and my childhood passion for Walter Farley books.
Yesterday's post about my Grandpa.
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