I love the quote from You've Got Mail where Tom Hanks is telling Meg Ryan what he loves about the fall in New York: "It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." There is something so inspiring about this season, signaling the start of a new school year! And for me as a teacher it is always exciting walking into a roomful of strangers who I know will soon become friends...and better artists! I love me some sharpened pencils!
But I'm feeling extra nostalgic this year, as it's the first year I'm not sending any kids back to school. Instead, Jeremiah will be serving mission for our church in Long Beach, California. Josh is entering a new chapter of his life on the East Coast, moving to Brooklyn, New York. And Jordan and Austin are moving into the in-laws' basement to save money after their wild summer in San Francisco.
Capturing the messy combination of back-to-school excitement and bittersweet nostalgia, here is the old Washington School House (now a boutique luxury hotel) in Park City, built in 1889, back in its old mining town days. I started this painting a couple of years ago and only just recently finished it for the show at the Coffee Pod: 426 W 1230 N, Provo. Check it out there while you can!
Question: Where is Back to School season finding you this year?
I'm sure it's no secret to many of you that I love to cook. It's an art I am passionate about, that is satisfying and creative and therapeutic, much like painting is for me.
Sometimes the combination of colors, textures, and flavors is completely intoxicating...before it even makes it to my plate. I simply love the process.
A few weeks ago, when I was putting together a favorite salad, I was so swept away by the brilliant colors I was overcome with a desire to paint them. --Not a realistic rendering of the ingredients themselves, but a wild abstract painting capturing the passion and the flair of the process. I loved the result! (Coming soon!)
I started asking myself what other recipes had the makings of a great abstract painting. There has been a flurry of activity in my studio as I immersed myself in the painting process the way I do the cooking process. The colors are pungent, the textures are evocative, and the process involves pouring, spattering and so much more. I am launching a whole series of these "foodie abstracts" based on other favorite recipes.
I'll be posting a new one every week or so, along with the recipes that inspired their creation. Stay tuned! This series is so different from my usual work, and not to be missed!
Question: What recipes do you love that might also inspire a great work of art?
"Center Street Porch Series: Flags." This piece, along with others in the series, was exhibited at the Woodbury Museum faculty show, and a black-and-white version was printed in the essay collection: "Tell Me Who I Am," along with the other porch paintings in the series. The original was sold at auction last fall to benefit a housing program of the United Way.
This is part of the Center Street Porch Series I painted of the historic homes in downtown Provo. It began as a plein-air painting project with one of my summer semester classes. I have always loved this freshly-remodeled house with all the flags. Today the "Freedom Festival" is going on throughout Provo, a longstanding tradition.
My greatest hope is that in all our flag-waving we not forget the motto on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free." This country would not exist, nor would it be as amazing and creative and diverse, without its influx of immigrants. We are all immigrants here in a sense. The truly brave welcome those from diverse backgrounds and cultures with open arms. Perfect love casteth out fear.
Back in May we visited the Newseum in Washington, D.C. It was one of the more fascinating museums we've visited. One display showed a color-coded world map of the range of countries with a free press. I was amazed to see what a small percentage of the world has a truly free press. Thank heaven for a democracy where we live, and a press that remains free (regardless of white house bullying).
I remember after 9/11 feeling an urgent need to purchase a flag to display. I was surprised to see how many people had the same idea....there were long lines of people, from every ethnicity and socioeconomic background waiting to buy flags. It was so important to show unity, solidarity, and support for our nation under attack.
A divisive presidential election and its aftermath has left the country divided, hurting, and often angry. Hopefully it won't require another vicious terrorist attack to remind us that when all is said and done we are all Americans. That flag was designed as a symbol to lift and unify us all.
O say, can you see an opportunity to to figuratively join hands and embrace others with tolerance and compassion, including those who think and feel differently?
Question: Which of our many freedoms are you most grateful for?
Not all departures have to do with planes, trains and automobiles. My current departure is a summer foray into abstract painting. I am having so much fun playing with color and texture, with little regard for source material or reference photos.
This painting, believe it or not, is based on a photo I took ten years ago of our boardgame cupboard, filled to the brim with potential for family fun. But the horizontality of the game boxes stacked in the cupboard didn't match the excitement of the fun that lay in store. I decided to flip it vertical for more energy and upward motion, evoking joy. This is the result. I toyed with the idea of painting a hint of the names of the games on the sides of the boxes, like they are in the photo, but I think the image is actually more fun without them.
Take your best guess as to the boxes of games portrayed here. There is everything from old-school Chinese Checkers to Taboo. But the real fun is experiencing the joy of giant brushstrokes and exuberant color. Game night, anyone?
Small group instruction, with classes from three to seven members. Custom-created kit of professional-quality materials. Stress-free, non-competitive environment. Celebrating the smallest successes. No pressure ever.
This month we went beyond the basics of negative painting, and explored techniques involving basic kitchen supplies, including cardboard, kosher salt, and food wrap. Pull together a group of friends or neighbors, or join my waiting list, and I'll do the rest!
I also offer private instruction for serious beginners or more advanced art students.
Simply use the contact form or email me: janaparkin[at]gmail[dot]com
Hydrangeas are my favorite flower. Perhaps because they love water as much as my brush does...thirstiest flowers ever! Also, the way they change colors mimics the subtle transitions of a watercolor painting. Love!
The dry Utah climate is not ideal for this thirsty species—me or my favorite flowers! I've tried to grow hydrangeas here with minimal success at best. But England provides exactly the right growing conditions for these water-loving beauties. They grow as tall as the rooftops there, with flowers the size of volleyballs.
The most beautiful specimens I saw in our time in England were in the courtyard of the Victoria and Albert museum. There were hundreds of them lining the walkways, surrounding the reflecting pool. They were taller than I am, boasting beautiful splashes of vibrant color.
This is a painting of some of the blooms from that V&A garden...aptly named Victoria's Hydrangeas. It started with a wild, abstract wet-on-wet underpainting, followed by just the right amount of careful negative painting to make the blossoms come to life.
Happy May, everybody!
Florence is like a love song to the universe. Our time there was pure joy, as we revisited favorite landmarks—and favorite restaurants—we remembered from the ten days we spent there 25 years ago. Only this time it was better, because we were sharing it with our kids.
This was our third day in Florence. We had already seen the David and the Uffizzi, been back to two of our favorite restaurants, and taken the boys to the ceramica shop where we met our little Italian grandmother, Nonna Bruna. Today we had just come from the stunning hillside estate, Villa Agape, where where we stayed during our first visit to Florence. It was looking like rain, but the water-heavy clouds hadn't yet released their rain. We stood in the Piazzale Michelangelo in awe of this view of Florence and the Arno, still warmly lit while the storm clouds gathered overhead.
For me, this painting—and this moment—captures the timeless beauty of Tuscany, the warmth of its people and customs, and a day we'll never forget.
This painting will be exhibited for the first time at the AmBank show which opens this evening in Provo. Come see it in person!
I have to admit, Rome wasn't at the top of my list of Italian cities to visit. But once we got there it blew my mind! Amazing places we'd seen that were hundreds of years old in London were suddenly eclipsed by a civilization that was over two thousand years old in Rome. We spent five days there, soaking up all the history and energy. We saw the Piazza del Populo and the Trevi Fountain, all the Egyptian columns, toured the Vatican and St. Peter's, the Colisseum and the Forum and Palatine Hill. We ate our fill of pizza and pasta and bruschetta.
Our last day we spent exploring the Borghesi. The boys were a little bit museumed-out at that point, so we spent most of our time outdoors, in the gardens. Just as we were leaving, a little before sunset, we walked to the edge of the grounds and were completely taken aback by this incredible view: miles and miles of everything we'd discovered all week, like one final farewell from The Eternal City. Domes and towers stretched as far as we could see, and beyond. The last rays of sunlight pulsed through the city, highlighting its energy, turning everything a glittering gold.
This painting will be exhibited for the first time at the AmBank show which opens tomorrow night in Provo. Come see it in person!
Every day, every time of year, is beautiful at Snow Canyon. But this particular day, just after the rain, was especially jaw-dropping. We were at a Winters family reunion in St George, and after a big rainstorm the night before, the more adventurous of us set off on a morning hike to Three Ponds. The hike wasn't difficult (as you can see, the trail is mostly flat), but it was about three miles of gorgeous, rain-soaked desert trail, concluding with a series of ponds at the end where the kids jumped in and went for a swim!
I just finished this painting last night. This will be on display at the AmBank Invitational show, which opens November 3, 2016.
UPDATE: The president of AmBank decided they couldn't part with this painting when the show closed so it is now part of their permanent collection.
I was standing on a bridge opposite the one where these girls are seated, painting this gorgeous scenery at Sundance with one of my classes. The autumn trees were backlit in such a way that they glowed like they were on fire. Suddenly these five young girls wandered into the scene and took a seat on the bench, and I snapped a quick picture. I loved their gestures, their friendship, and the way they were out enjoying the fall color just like I was. I knew instantly that I wanted to paint them.
In a class in Salt Lake yesterday I was explaining how and why I include figures in my paintings. The people in my landscapes are nearly always strangers, and I paint them without recognizable features so they can be about anybody. If I want the picture to be about a particular person, say, a family member, then I do a portrait. But otherwise I want any viewer to be able to envision themselves in the picture, interacting with the landscape. Including a figure embraces our humanity and links us to the subject at the same time.
This painting is called "Encircled About by Fire" (inspired by a chapter in 3 Nephi where angels come down from heaven to surround children and minister to them them, "as if in the midst of fire.") The subject of this painting is obviously not little children but teenage girls. Having raised three teenagers of my own, I know they are surrounded by guardian angels! That is every mother's prayer. Sometimes teenagers need that divine intervention even more than their toddler counterparts. Here the reflections in the water complete the circle of fire. This is a larger piece (22 x 30) that I completed in the studio last week. I'm planning to exhibit it at the AmBank show opening November 3.
The piece I was working on en plein air when I took this photo is called "Stream of Light" and has a different format, as you can see below. It is smaller, and was completed on location, visiting this spot in multiple painting sessions. It is now sold. You can see that while the setting is essentially the same, the subject of this smaller piece is clearly the water, while the focus of the larger painting is centered around the girls and the circle of fire that surrounds them.
I am an artist and art instructor working in water media. Just knowing I can watch colors run together makes it worth getting out of bed every morning! Helping students capture the same excitement is equally rewarding.