The first time I saw this gorgeous church, with sun-bleached gravestones lining its yard like crooked teeth, it was begging to be painted. This was our very first exposure to the Hudson River Valley, and this welcoming structure seemed to embody the rich beauty and history of the area.
I chose to render this landscape in pen-and-ink to capture its Old World charm. Then I added lavish colors on hot press paper to bring the drawing to life. I loved the rich contrast of the reds and greens as a backdrop for the grey stone church. The goal is always for the colors to remain fresh and vibrant without overpowering the ink drawing beneath.
I was originally planning to enter this piece in a show. But when I texted the image to a dear friend who used to live in the area, she instantly declared it "SOLD"...which is the best case scenario for an artist. There will be plenty of other shows. More than anything, we want our paintings to go to good homes where they'll be treasured for decades.
My friend who purchased this piece came to pick it up last week. Having only seen a digital image, she was visibly moved when she laid eyes on the original. An emotional response is the ultimate compliment for an artist, as we are constantly striving to capture and express the feeling of a place, rather than merely documenting details.
If only every day in the life of an artist could be as ideal as this one was! Thank you, my dear friends, for allowing us to visit this beautiful spot a few years ago, and now for fully appreciating the finished product.
For a long time I was afraid to tackle portraits and figures in watercolor. They're daunting in general, but seemed even more risky in the somewhat unforgiving medium of watercolor. Enter Charles Reid. I remember looking through his books in my dad's studio when I was young. He's a total master! Makes it look so easy!
When I saw he was coming to Jackson Hole Wyoming to teach a workshop, I scheduled a road trip! For 8 hours a day, for an entire workweek, I painted with the master. And I have to say, watching him paint was like watching God create the world—we'd all hold our breath, and then let out a collective sigh when he lifted his brush. There is nothing quite like it.
I also studied with Arizona portrait king Ted Nuttall, who mentioned the title of this post in his workshop: "Some of the most beautiful landscapes I've painted are people." Ah, yes!
Our latest Living Room episode is called “What I Gained When I Lost.” I was absent for this recording session. (I gained a painting trip to Southern Utah with my Dad when I lost this chance to record with my Living Room friends!)
This idea of gaining from losing is powerful. Host Christie Gardiner says we become who we’re meant to be when we sacrifice something great...for something more important. The less-dramatic business term for this kind of gaining and losing is called “opportunity cost.”
Sometimes what I’ve lost (my opportunity cost) isn’t a conscious sacrifice, but my need to acknowledge the hand of a higher power at work in my life.
In all honesty, when I glibly said I gained a painting trip when I lost that chance to record our show, it’s true. Three glorious days in Snow Canyon. But there’s more. That painting trip was a consolation prize. What I lost first was my favorite tradition. A class I was teaching at UVU for the third year in a row, taking a dozen students to paint on location in Capitol Reef National Park, was unexpectedly cancelled at the last minute. I didn’t just lose a fabulous week encouraging students to learn and grow and create. I lost my entire summer’s income. And a trip I count on yearly to rejuvenate my art and my soul. (And yes, my dad was coming along this year—something I was really looking forward to!)
I have to admit I grumbled. I was frustrated that it was cancelled so late in the game, after I had already put in so much work, with no compensation. It felt like the university cared more about the numbers than the students’ educational experience, which was also frustrating.
But something happened during those three weeks (during which we would have been holding class all day every day) that I never could have predicted. A very close friend of mine who’s been battling cancer for years suddenly became gravely ill. She’d been living in Texas for a few months, and was flown to Utah for brain surgery.
Because I wasn’t teaching, I was able to visit her in the hospital, hug her and kiss her forehead and whisper encouraging words before she headed into surgery. I was able to see her as she recovered after surgery, and again when they resumed chemotherapy. Most important of all, I was led back to the hospital on a random Tuesday afternoon when she needed a visit. And when the cheyne-stokes breathing began, just minutes later, I was there. I was able to stay with her and hold her hand and literally breathe alongside her until she took her final breath.
I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. It is one of life’s most poignant and beautiful privileges to surround a loved one and help usher them on to the next sphere of life.
Losing a chance to teach a class and paint on location in a gorgeous national park was a heavy hit. But it doesn’t seem like much in comparison to what I gained.
Another version of this post appears here: The Living Room | Live Internet Talk Radio | Best Shows Podcasts
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.