December 29, 2009

dance by the light of the moon...

This time of year fascinates me because I love clean slates, new beginnings, new ideas, and I find the only resolutions that make sense are the ones that focus on the intention behind the wish. Did you know that the most common resolutions are "get a better job, quit smoking, lose weight" and most psychologists are quick to point out that those are just actions, and to be truly successful, we need to ask ourselves how our lives would be different if we achieved those goals? Pondering that question helps us understand what we really yearn for, and in so doing, propels us to summon the courage to BE THAT NOW, and then support it with new actions. It is quite the opposite of how most of us have learned to resolve to change, and undoubtedly it is what Ghandi meant when he said "BE the change you wish to see in the world". This power of intention is described in many of Dr. Dyer's writings, and there are websites like this one that discuss choosing just one word as your mantra for the year that will help you focus on what you want to BE; as opposed to what you hope to do.

Choosing just one word feels a bit limiting to me, so I have focused on jotting down a new list of ideas and themes that evolve about every four to six weeks. My intention is to stay open to and aware of little sparks of inspiration that come from everyday life. I often jot down a word here or there or take a photo to keep in a file; and try to be aware of the possibility of accepting and inviting in the new, rather than focusing on what is not working (for instance how different is it to focus on being healthy rather than dieting?). Sort of the same idea as "what you resist persists". This post suggests we avoid pushing, and instead allow ourselves to be pulled toward the future. I like that concept a lot. So... this month my focus has been on viewing "the old" from a new perspective and daring to see the ordinary with fresh eyes (click on photo above to see what I mean). I think words can be such powerful tools, so I wanted to share these ideas here in case you, too are contemplating ways to begin anew, or planning resolutions and creative goals.

And in the spirit of taking a new perspective, if you are looking for a new tradition this new year, why not celebrate like my friends from Wales? When the clock begins to strike twelve midnight, they open the back door of their home, then shut it to banish the negative energy and bad luck from the old year-and on the twelfth strike, they swing open the front door to welcome new energy and prosperity for the new year. I like that idea a lot because this year we will have the added enchantment of a new blue moon, so I am picturing a world where we all are gazing at the same beautiful moon as the earth spins new midnights, new hopes, new horizons, and new ways of looking at all of life's moments!

“We need a renaissance of wonder.
We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls,
the deathless dream, the eternal poetry,
the perennial sense that life is miracle and magic.”...E. Merrill Root

December 26, 2009

A Kentucky Christmas

Okay, for those of you who don't know this already, George grew up in Kentucky and still has family here. In fact, I had this very conversation with an Italian gentleman in Como where George owns a villa. His exact words were "Mr. Clooney is a BIG DEAL in Italy." Bless his heart. I had to break the news to him that Mr. Clooney is a pretty big deal most everywhere...but I digress... so let's say that for some inexplicable reason, you are one of the four people on the planet who have not been emailed the above photo dozens of times already, (and even if you have)... in the spirit of giving, I thought I would share it yet again. After all, George would want it that way.
"I'm just white trash"...George Clooney
(really? is that where
"dreaming of a white Christmas" came from??? By the way, George's new movie "Up In the Air" is typical George--a dash of charm, humor and charisma with a ton of heart and soul-- a"must see"... Cheers!)

December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

“What is Christmas?
It is tenderness for the past,
courage for the present,

hope for the future.
It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal,
and that every path may lead to peace.”
— Agnes M. Pharo

December 19, 2009

the festive David

Every time I think about what Michelangelo accomplished in his lifetime, I am filled with a sense of awe and wonder. When asked about his David sculpture, he explained "I saw an angel in the block of marble and I just chiseled 'til I set him free." I remember the first time I read those words- I was ten years old, and I just sat down in the floor and cried. I was, and will forever be moved by the certainty he must have felt in choosing THIS particular block of marble from the quarry, as well as the infinite possibility included in such a statement. I discovered awe and wonder right there in the art reference aisle of my public library. Wherever YOU are this week, may you discover the world through the eyes of a child, a place where all things are possible~a place where magic and wonder abide, and a place where angels are waiting to be discovered and freed~
"Christmas renews our youth by stirring our wonder. The capacity for wonder has been called our most pregnant human faculty, for in it are born our art, our science, our religion"...Ralph Sockman

December 1, 2009

pink poetry

(8 x 8, oil on canvas)
"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you,
it will be enough"

...13th century German philosopher and theologian, Meister Eckhart

November 26, 2009


(8 x 8, oil on canvas)
For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends"... Ralph Waldo Emerson

November 19, 2009

Winter White

(8x10) oil on canvas
I love poinsettias, especially the ivory ones. My southern neighbors have the advantage of growing them in their own flower gardens. Unfortunately, some folks feel the need to "dress them up" at Christmas by adding glitter or dying them different colors (yikes!); but aren't they most lovely just as nature made them?
"In seed time learn
in harvest teach,
in winter enjoy"...William Blake

November 14, 2009

At Large

"You will understand that I limited myself to simple colors, ocher, cobalt and Prussian blue, Naples yellow, sienna, black and white...I refrained from choosing 'nice' colors"...Vincent Van Gogh

I had never read this quote before, but I love learning what colors other artists "can't do without" and I immediately wanted to try his palette in order to see what he saw. Used to mixing with my lively orange-red, cad red light, my first thought is "where is his red?" but then I see sienna (a sad substitute for red in my world), and I realize that "red" is actually in several of his muted opaque colors as well...I know that pigments have changed over the years so I did a little research and discovered that the ochers and siennas were even more opaque when Van Gogh used them in the 1800s. Cobalt blue came into existence in 1804 and, along with Prussian blue (a warmer blue that was accidentally discovered), both are semi-transparent colors. Naples yellow is and was a warm yellow (meaning that it also has red in it), but was formally heavily (and dangerously) leaded. And because they can be warm, cool, transparent, semi-transparent or opaque, I'm left to ponder "which black" did he use?...and don't even get me started on the different whites. Oh! and the Cadmiums were not even introduced until the 20th century, giving way to transparencies 19th century painters could only have dreamt about as they attempted to thin down their opaques. Personally I think Vincent would have loved my cad red light...or would he have dismissed it as too 'nice'? Sigh...yes, folks, THIS is just the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night as I attempt to solve this splendid puzzle and mix his colors in my head. Hopeless, I know.

November 9, 2009

Brisk November

(346) More irresistible fall colors on every many paintings-to-be, and so little time before the leaves are gone...
“Change is as inevitable as rain in the spring. Some of us just put on our raincoats and splash forward.”... Amy Bloom

November 5, 2009

quick studies

I just returned from a figure painting workshop with Kim English. Unfortunately, he does not have a website, but you can see his paintings here. I have studied with Kim before; absolutely LOVE his work. His method of teaching is quite different from most instructors: no formal lectures, no lengthy demos. Instead, he asks students to paint quick studies where the model changes poses every 5-10 minutes. At first it seems impossible, but with premixed colors, you get into a rhythm of painting that allows you to move into a comfort zone where details and noodling are not allowed. Heck, THINKING isn't even allowed. No time! Just lay it down, wipe it off, do another one.. .or another ten as the case may be... Kim believes that the best poses are the natural ones that models fall into when they are comfortable, so he avoids formally posing them, explaining that it is more interesting for them to "tell their story" not his. And when there are two models, he encourages them to interact with each other instead of remaining perfectly still. It is quite different from the static poses most life drawing classes require--and tons more fun. While I wiped dozens of studies off, there were a few (included here) that he felt captured the essence of the assignment, and so he instructed me to save them for reference. In other words, about 99% of the studies were not worthy of saving in my case, but that's not the point. It is the process of seeing and capturing fleeting moments that you are after--if you have never tried it, challenge yourself! Set a timer. Better yet, set up your easel at a park, a university, an outdoor restaurant-anywhere that you can observe people being themselves coming and going, and practice painting quick gestures. Sure your models may get up and walk away right in the middle of your "perfect" painting, but that's okay. Another will soon take her is great practice if you need to get out of your comfort zone, get out of your head, and loosen up your brushstrokes. The only "rule" is to avoid details; instead look for shapes, values and gesture. Oh and, make the painting be about what the people are doing instead of striving for an exact likeness. It is guaranteed to energize your work! And you!
"Painting the moment is like stopping the clock at the split second of truth. It's out of time, fleeting, yet eternal. That's why I paint quickly, to capture the essence of a moment before it disappears"...Kim English

November 2, 2009

through the trees

8 x 10 oil on canvas
“The artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of artist"...Eric Gill

October 26, 2009

autumn colors

8 x 10, oil on canvas
My aim is to avoid overworking the canvas, capture what I see and leave it alone.
WHY is that so tough? (eek)

"Wherever the great dilemma exists is where the great growth is, too. It would be very nice for nervous types like me if things were black and white, and you could tell where one thing ended and the next thing began, but as Einstein taught us, everything in the future and the past is right here now. There's always something ending and something beginning"...Anne Lamont

October 22, 2009

falling for you

8 x 10... back to painting in plein air--what could be more inspiring than the colors of fall?

"That moment--the first time you fall in love with art--it has a huge impact on you.
In a sense, you're always looking for those moments"...John Cusack (describing the first time he read
"To Kill a Mockingbird")

October 13, 2009

a bold commitment

In the last of the workshop posts, I am including this photo of Peggi sketching. She urges students to always have a sketchbook handy, ideally fill at least one sketchbook a month, and only sketch with a bold marker. Sketching with a pencil, she explained, does not force you to make the necessary commitment to the page in the same way as the marker does. The idea is to keep the marker on the page once sketching has begun, and like blind contour drawing, focus more on your subject while you draw than your drawing. Peggi Kroll Roberts is a wonderful teacher; I highly recommend her; hope you have enjoyed this series.
“The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it's not without doubt but in spite of doubt"...Dr. Rollo May

October 10, 2009

minimal brushstrokes

(340)The challenge involved in these studies is the use of minimal brushstrokes. Colors are mixed beforehand; each brushstroke and color change is planned. Every time the brush is lifted from the canvas counts as one brushstroke, so loading the brush with as much paint as possible, is key. It is possible to do an entire painting in 30 strokes or less. (Oh yes it is). The brushstrokes are counted with spots of color on the bottom of the painting. I painted the model at the workshop but did the other two exercises after I got home because it is THE MOST FUN exercise ever. If you have never tried it, you must! It can be a great "warm-up" exercise, but most of all, it teaches you to really see your subject and count/plan how many different color/value changes (large and small) you will need.
"Many of the most powerful paintings have the simplest value structures. That is to say, they only use two, three, or four major values"...Barry John Raybould

October 7, 2009

high key

This assignment was to keep contrasts to a minimum by choosing the value of the darkest dark, (no darker than a mid-tone), and then keying all other values lighter accordingly (no matter how dark they appear in life).
"Value choices are intuitive... It's fun to see how much you can get without leaning on contrast"...Sara Genn

October 5, 2009

black in sunlight

So what happens to the color black in sunlight? It can appear very bleached out, so our model wore white shorts to contrast with the black t-shirt, and sat in half sun/half shade. This pose allowed us to study the rule stating that "The lightest dark cannot be darker than the darkest light". In other words, the sunlit side of the black t-shirt (the lightest dark) cannot be painted to appear darker than the shadow side of the white shorts (which are the darkest light). It sort of sounds like a tongue twister the first time you hear it, but seeing, comparing, painting this subtle difference can make or break a painting.
"Establishing the two most extreme values as soon as possible helps me take note of all other values that will fall somewhere between them"...Kenn Backhaus

October 3, 2009

the light family

This focus of this quick-study was to examine just how difficult it can be to see the correct values in areas bleached out by sunlight. The white pillow on the right side of the bench should be the lightest light, but as you can see in the top photo (blurred to reduce shapes and see values easier) the model's dress on the left, and both hats appear very bleached out too, almost as light as the white of the pillow. So the artist must continually compare everything to the lightest light (white pillow) and keep the other lights toned down. To test if the values work, I desaturated the color to B&W on the computer for the bottom image, making it is easier to see.

"Color is an inborn gift, but appreciation of value is merely training of the eye, which everyone ought to be able to acquire"...John Singer Sargeant

October 1, 2009

matching values

Like the previous post, I painted a value study before moving on to the color study. To test how values will match, spots of the color can be placed directly on top of the monochromatic study, as shown above. (Or, if you prefer, a plastic coating like saran wrap can be wrapped over the value study to protect it while the colors are matched).
"You get your color with your eyes open, your value by squinting"...Martha Saudek

September 29, 2009

figure value studies

This assignment involved painting a black and white study first, and then painting the same pose in color. I changed the background a little; my main focus was in getting the values in the figure to read correctly.
“Connect the lights and darks so your eye can move through the painting without interruptions"...Peggy Kroll-Roberts

September 27, 2009

value studies

One of the highlights of my summer was participating in a Peggy Kroll Roberts workshop, but I have not taken the time to sort through notes/photos/what-I-learned until now. One of the things I like most about Peggy is that she still gives herself "assignments" in order to keep her work fresh and interesting. These are my still life studies from the first day of the workshop. Determining value relationships is an excellent reminder to ask yourself "what is my darkest dark, my lightest light?" before picking up the brush.
"The object of art is to give life a shape"...William Shakespeare

September 25, 2009

push to play

My one and only sister and I live too far apart to see each other as often as we would like, so we decided to keep in touch through a photo-blog. It is our version of a sisterly cyberhug. Because we are still kids at heart, our format is "tag, you're it!", so when one of us chooses a subject to post, the other is required to respond in kind. If you are interested in visiting our site, or leaving us a comment, you can find our "sandbox" here...shootin' sisters

"Life must be lived as play!"...Plato

September 24, 2009

Kreativ Blogger...

Thanks to Edward Burton for this award. I am honored to be in the same category as the others chosen. Please click here to see Edward's post. As a recipient, I am asked to reveal 7 things about myself, which I had fun with in a previous post here. Edward had already been tagged also, so he chose to list 7 things that he loves this time around, which I think I will do as well:
1. I love mornings, don't need an alarm clock, even in a foreign country when day is night, and night is day. I suspect that my brain must have a setting called "first light".
2. I've always loved dogs. When other children slept with their teddy bears, I preferred a real live puppy. Still do.
3. I adore anything lemony, the fragrance (fresh), the tartness (the best) and the color (Monet's gorgeous kitchen table and chairs)
4. My favorite colors are the colors of the ocean: blues, teals, turquoises and purples. My closet and home are full of them.
5. I love Pilates; the whole concept of core strength, the story behind it's origin; the focus it requires,and the fact that, like yoga, you exercise in your bare feet...and well, just everything about it.
6. I love people with a great sense of humor. It is a very important quality to look for in a mate, and an added bonus when both your children and your husband keep you in stitches. Laughter really is the best medicine.
7. And 7th on the list is my favorite number... 7- it just fits me, always has, even literally (ring, hat and gloves...)
And I am passing this award onto these artists...

Becky Joy ,an Arizona artist who paints the most inspiration sunsets. I just want to step into her paintings!
Rhonda Hartis Smith , a Kentucky artist, whose portraits and figures are full of charm and character
Mona Jones Cordell-wow, I love how she captures the energy and attitude of dancers in her gesture drawings
Carolyn Finnell-I adore this Louisiana artist's paintings that have luscious brush strokes, wonderful composition and color. Congrats on the new studio, Carolyn!
Deborah Paris, an artist who is a master of stunning, ethereal landscapes
Ann Salness- an Oregon artist who paints people, places and things with equal finesse
Bobbi Heath- a Maine artist whose landscapes are fresh and never overworked

September 21, 2009


(330) 12 x 16
“We're not here to leave a mark, bro. Monuments, legacies, marks - that's where we always go wrong. We're here to revel in the world, to soak in the awesomeness of it, to enjoy the ride. The world's maximum perfect as it is, beauty from horizon to horizon. Any mark any of us tries to leave - hell, it's only graffitti. Any mark anyone leaves is no better than vandalism"...Dean Koontz

September 14, 2009

the art of life

I have received a plethora of email about where I saw Dr. Oz, is the answer. He was part of an anniversary celebration held for Central Baptist Hospital. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and serendipitously scored front row seats to his lecture. Ted Turner was pretty happy to be there too-and sitting only 4 or 5 seats away! He graciously smiled for this picture after he saw how excited I was to see him (AGAIN, apologies to my mortified family sitting next to me).
Anyway, like Dr. Oz; Central Baptist's progressive thinking includes a wellness center with a focus on the patient working as an equal partner with healthcare providers. And that, if you think about it, is quite a stretch from the old way of thinking where, unfortunately, many patients have long expected doctors to deliver a magic potion that would nullify decades of unhealthy living choices. As Dr. Oz has pointed out, "the current healthcare controversy will NOT be won in Washington, but in our own kitchens, homes and communities" because, while only a third of health issues are genetic, the other two-thirds are a direct result of lifestyle choices that include the mind, body and spirit. And what does that have to do with art? Absolutely everything, I would suspect. Dr. Wayne Dyer would call these choices "reenergizing our surroundings" with this advice:
"Choose to be in the company of those who hold a space for you to achieve the joy of maximizing, rather then minimizing, your highest human potential. Make your surroundings a temple of love and kindness. Pay attention to the music you listen to, the art you view, even the arrangement of your furniture and flowers—all of it!"

September 13, 2009

Land of Oz

Oprah calls him "America's favorite doctor"... Dr. Mehmet Oz. His new TV show starts tomorrow! His "You" books have made it "cool" to be healthy by connecting the mind, the body, and the spirit; and his enthusiasm and love for his work are contagious. I love his innate curiosity and belief that we must look within and understand ourselves in order to comprehend and appreciate the world around us...
"What gave Einstein the idea that there were particles or waves in physics? Is it possible that he was colored at all by looking at Impressionist paintings that had been done for the past 30 years, which created light from dots? And just as in that example, art colored perhaps the thinking of, if not Einstein, other physicists of the time. Medicine and physicians- We have an understanding of energy. We have a digital world. We have insights into technologies that we haven't yet applied in the context of the human body that we probably, one day, in this next generation, will gain insights to."...Dr. Mehmet Oz

September 5, 2009

New Website!

In an effort to be more efficient, I have tried to organize, categorize, classify, and straighten STUFF this summer. And as the summer draws to a close this Labor Day weekend, I am happy to say that I actually completed a few projects, including archiving all my paintings into a new website; dividing them into categories for easier viewing! I plan to continue this blog, but needed the website as an added tool for more efficient sorting. It was indeed a Labor of Love...You can check it out here: Faye Christian Phillips:

“Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others...for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.”...Albert Einstein

August 28, 2009

True Authentic Swing

12 x 16, oil on canvas
I love fashions from the 1920s. You just know this guy's game will be exceptional the minute he steps out onto the green in this ensemble.
This painting will be part of an auction for the upcoming Kela Fee Memorial Golf Classic. Benefiting cancer research, it is named for a friend who never lost her "authentic swing" and whose life serves as an inspiration to all who knew and loved her.
"Inside each and every one of us is our one, true authentic swing. Something we was born with. Something that's ours and ours alone. Something that can't be learned... something that's got to be remembered"...Bagger Vance

August 14, 2009

Some Like It Hot

10 x 10, oil
“I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me"... Anna Quindlen

August 7, 2009

Heat Wave

16 x 20, oil
“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient.
One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea"...
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

July 31, 2009

Happy As A Clam

(326) 20 x 24
I took a photo of this little guy at the beach last month. I'm not sure what it was about him, maybe his attire, but I sensed he was a "old soul" in a little boy frame, someone wise beyond his years.
"The truest greatness lies in being kind, the truest wisdom in a happy mind"...Ella Wheeler Wilcox

July 24, 2009

tree portrait

10x10, oil
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds"... Edward Abbey

July 14, 2009

A Day at the Met

8 x 16, oil
about this painting...During a visit to NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the woman in the painting above walked into the gallery of American Painters and stood in front of Paxton's "Tea Leaves"--I couldn't believe my luck; she was poised and graceful; the perfect "model" in her long dress and hat. Camera in hand, I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible as I watched her walk about the room. I noticed that her dress was just about a size too large as it kept slipping off her shoulder, revealing the strap of the camisole underneath. I couldn't help but be aware of the irony that just a few feet away hangs another painting involving a painted over loose strap : namely Sargeant's Madame X, a painting that created much angst, outrage and controversy in its day. Lost in my thoughts of how that scandal would forever change the artist's career and his model's life, I was suddenly jolted back to reality by the realization that my "model" was now standing right in front of me. She startled me by saying "Excuse me, but I just couldn't leave without first telling you that you look as though you could have stepped out of any one of these paintings" What?... ME? What about you? Smiling, she simply turned and floated out of the room.
“I do not judge, I only chronicle”...John Singer Sargeant

~The painting above, along with about 20 more of my paintings will be part of a three-woman art exhibit entitled "Petals and Poses" beginning this Friday at The Capitol Arts Galleries. Also included will be original oil paintings by artist Rhonda Hartis Smith, and jewelry by Susan Lackey. So, if you are "in the neighborhood" please stop by our opening night reception between 5-7 PM on the 17th and say hello~
Also, just outside our gallery, the summer-concert-in-the-park series will continue, so it promises to be an enchanting evening filled with art and music~ just the sort of summer night that I long for all winter.
(After Friday, our show continues through August 5th, with gallery hours from 9-5 M-F)

July 12, 2009

Blue Ridge Mountains

I recently had the opportunity to meet a couple of friends for a painting trip in the mountains. As I looked out onto the layers of blue upon blue upon blue, I decided that mountains carry a sacred and powerful energy that is all their own. As you look out into the distance, you can't help but feel that all the things that seemed so urgent and important five minutes ago have evaporated just like the mist before you.

(322) 8x16, oil
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves"...John Muir

July 10, 2009


10x10, oil
"Perfumes are the feelings of flowers"...Heinrich Heine

July 8, 2009

Peony Party

(320) 9x12, oil'Tis my faith that every flower Enjoys the air it breathes!" ~William Wordsworth

July 3, 2009

a play within a play

(319) 12x16
Yikes, this one was a wee bit more complicated.
“My logic tells me why strive for complicated, difficult-to-sew arrangements when simple squares, diamonds and triangles are so endlessly fascinating as long as the colors are alive.” Kaffe Fassatt

June 29, 2009

stand out from the crowd

(318) 8 x 8, oil
The biggest challenge in painting a flower resting on a floral background is of course, making the background recede while allowing the real star to come forward. Normally, objects in the foreground grab a little more color and warmth, but because this fabric is equally bright and colorful, my focus was in noting subtle shifts in value and color, as well as defining the shadow created by the iris.
“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way”...Edward de Bono

June 26, 2009

Stepping Out

(317) 6x6, oil
I thought it would be fun to include some colorful fabrics as a background for my flower. Inspired by my favorite master-of-all-things-creative, Kaffe Fassatt literally wrote the book on creativity...actually, he has authored several books showcasing his designs in needlepoint, paint, quilts, mosaics, pottery, knitting and fabrics! A true Renaissance man.
"Color is music to your eyes" Kaffe Fassatt

June 22, 2009


(316) 10 x 10, oil
“I am following Nature without being able to grasp her...I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers”...Claude Monet