January 28, 2013

edges and angles

6 x 8, oil on canvas

Nate Berkus has authored a new book called "The Things That Matter". He offers exceptional advice on connecting our past with our present as we edit our surroundings. Never merely offering decorating advice; instead he asks his clients to consider what colors, shapes, objects hold personal meaning. Nate's inspiring words and beautiful photographs encourage us to surround ourselves with colors, shapes, textures and objects that feed our soul; because our homes "tell our story, lift us up, and anchor our lives"...

"The truth is, things matter.
They have to.
They are what we live with and touch each and every day.
The represent what we've seen,
 who we've loved, 
and where we hope to go next.
They remind us of the good times and the rough patches, 
and everything in between that's made us who we are."
Nate Berkus

January 21, 2013

dream a little dream today

10 x 10, oil on canvas

A dreamer is...
an optimist, idealist, positive thinker, visionary, star-gazer
and one who...
motivates, touches, stirs, elates, activates, encourages
and inspires!
~ ~ ~
"I have a dream today. 
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, 
every hill and mountain shall be made low,
 the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight,
  the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, 
and all flesh shall see it together." 
Martin Luther King, Jr

"Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions." 
Edgar Cayce

"A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight,
 and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world."
 Oscar Wilde

January 14, 2013

Faithful, Loyal and True

6 x 8, oil on canvas

Dogs...how grand would the world be if humans were capable of learning what dogs instinctively know? They do their best to teach us, but we just aren't smart enough.

I first met this girl when she weighed only 3 pounds and had tiny needles for teeth.  She had three sisters who were lively, joyful and congenial, while this "little tarantula" as my son called her, was the runt of the litter, had fleas and absolutely no interest in us. So, of course we chose her.

Was it because we saw great potential? Nah... if I am honest, it was because we ever-so-arrogantly assumed that she needed us. But of course it doesn't take long to realize it is humans, with all our flaws, who need animals. Our little tarantula grew up and eventually traded her chewing tendencies for barking and begging for treats from anyone who would listen. I began painting around the time we brought her home, so she has been my studio companion for every painting day since. (The fact that she snored through most of them was never lost on me.) Over the years, she shared her unique knack for comedy and certainly tried her best to teach us by example.

Faithful, loyal and true. That is just what dogs are. They tirelessly attempt to teach us how to live in the moment, avoid grudges, and love unconditionally. Always studying our emotions and moods, they suddenly appear by our side when we need them most. With equal astuteness, they pick up on negative energy and danger. The difference between us and them is that when they recognize a potential threat, they don't shrug it off in order to "be polite" as humans so often do. Instead they trust their instincts. An important lesson to be sure. And what about that 6th sense that allows them to know their owner is approaching home, so they are waiting by the door when we arrive? Or their ability to sniff out cancer, predict epileptic seizures, and a whole host of traits we haven't even discovered yet? Inspiring, to be sure.

So, in honor of all the "little tarantulas" who come into our lives to teach us the Big Lessons, it is my privilege to donate a commissioned pet portrait to be auctioned at the January 19th Fur Ball,  a local fundraiser with all proceeds benefitting the humane society. To learn more, please go here.

 And to see another pet portrait, you may click here.

"Some of our greatest historical and artistic treasures
 we place with curators in museums;
others we take for walks."
Roger Caras

January 7, 2013

hands and hearts

5 x14, oil on canvas

Today's inspiration comes from Nepun Mehta, founder of the all volunteer organization called ServiceSpace.orgThere are so many things to say about this man's work, but he says it more eloquently, so I will share his words. Using an acronym for WALK (Witness, Accept, Love, Know thyself) he explains the walking pilgrimage into India that he and his wife shared:
"As we walked (witnessed, accepted, loved) 
our vision of the world indeed grew clearer
That clarity, paradoxically enough, 
blurred our previous distinctions between me verses we,
 inner transformation verses external impact, 
and selfishness verses selflessness. 
They were inextricably connected. 
When a poor farmer gave me a tomato as a parting gift,
 with tears rolling down his eyes, 
was I receiving or giving?
 When I sat for hours in silent meditation, 
was the benefit solely mine or would it ripple out into the world?
 When I lifted the haystack off an old man's head and carried it for a kilometer, 
was I serving him or serving myself?" 

And noting the importance of stepping away from the noise of the world (and the noise in our heads) he says:
"Our rational mind wants to rightfully ensure progress,
 but our intuitive mind also needs space
 for the emergent, 
unknown and unplanned to arise...

a melody, after all, 
can only be created with the silence
 in between the notes."