Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Christmas

What an incredible year it has been.  As I write this I am reminded of the many experiences I have been fortunate enough to be part of, decisions that I’ve made to further my knowledge of art techniques and mediums, the prospects of a small jewelry making business, and the blessings of sales this year through the gallery.  There were definitely many ‘pinch me’ moments that filled me with an abundance of humbleness and gratitude, and compelled me to keep going, keep creating, keep sharing.

I have so many wonderful ideas that I’m looking forward to sharing here; ideas for new artwork in 2014, many more art festivals and shows to experience, and plenty of road trips to document that I know will keep me busy painting next year.  I’m very excited to say the least!

And I want to thank you, the visitor to my blog.  And to those of you who have signed up to receive these blog posts in your emails.  Since my first blog post three months ago I’ve had over one thousand views! I am so grateful for your interest and your support.

So stay tuned folks!  2014 promises to be a year of great inspiration and sharing.  I truly hope you will join me in this journey of discovery and artistic self-expression.

Here’s to the beauty and awe of the season, and all of the blessings it brings!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! SL

 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My First Love

Now that the months are considerably cooler, (hard freeze warnings were posted here for the valley this morning!), it seems that it is time to take my artwork back indoors for a while.  I will really miss the beauty and the solitude of Southern California’s local mountains and my painting day trips with Renee, but I am ready to embrace my little studio room here at the house once again and work on new projects. 

Venturing into my studio, I found my case of acrylics that had been stashed away for the summer/fall months.  Acrylics were my first love when I started to seriously paint many years ago.  They are like an old friend or a comfy pair of jeans.  They just feel good!  And truth be told I’ve missed working with them so much. 
 
I was inspired the other day by a memory I had of a cruise my husband and I took to Ensenada, Mexico several years ago; especially while we were still at sea and moving along seamlessly atop the deep blue Pacific Ocean.  Our last day at sea the ship cruised much slower than it normally had been for the previous three days of our journey.  And then the ship “docked” for a while at sea; giving all the passengers’ ample time to take in the faraway landscapes and the seascapes.  It was truly a beautiful moment. And it was also then that I was able to take in the scenery of Catalina Island.  I had never been to that destination before but what I saw from the sea, I wouldn’t soon forget.  It was nearly nightfall and the sun had begun its ascension into the horizon.  Low lights from the town twinkled and played along the shoreline and further inland. The moon peeked through the clouds above and shed milky light upon the water.  I could only imagine what fun visitors to the island were experiencing that evening and while I quietly watched from my deck chair.  Not sure how far out we were docked, but it gave the viewer a wistful, magical feel to the landscape. 

When I stepped away from the easel last night, laid down my brushes and looked upon my view of Catalina, I felt embraced by such wonderful memories.   
 
 
'Catalina' – Acrylics on Paper
 
 Here’s to taking out the good things we’ve stored away, and reveling in the deliciousness! SL

Monday, November 18, 2013

Watercolor Study

To me there is nothing more cathartic than to be in nature.  Even as a child, my mother would take my sister and me for “nature walks” back home in Michigan.  I was always so enchanted by the soft sounds of the trees as they moved within a breeze, the many birds, butterflies and other forest critters milling about, and also the excitement of finding something new.

One afternoon while Renee and I were walking about Monrovia Canyon Park, we stopped at a clearing to take a break and I noticed this lone sapling standing quietly in the foreground of a rather dense area of trees.  It spoke to me.  This young sapling with its many arms stretched high and wide and growing strong, and set right in the middle of this small clearing just begging to be painted.


'Little Sapling'

I’m so very thrilled that I overcame a few fears of the unknown, a few frustrations and pitfalls, and such incredibly lovely ‘ah hah’ moments, to embrace this watercolor medium fully.  It has been such an empowering choice in my life and I can now look back upon this time, and for many years to come, and be grateful for not only the opportunity afforded to me but for the many gifts I’ve been given to pursue my love of painting.

Here’s to being thankful…for everything! SL

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Mantra of Painting

I’ve made the conscious decision lately to integrate mantras into my days.  By keeping certain mantras in my head, they encourage me to try new things and to be confident in doing so.  Lately I have embraced the mantra of “Why not?”  It’s a great little mantra/question to myself; especially if I am doubting an idea that I have, or when I hesitate to move forward with something I really really want to do, and especially when I lack the confidence of doing anything and in any situation.  It’s also a brilliant response to people when they ask me, “Shannon why are you painting with watercolors?” Why not?  “Shannon why are you leaving the gallery?”  Why not?  It’s very empowering.

So when it came time to head up to the mountains and to begin my watercolor painting endeavor, you can bet that this mantra came fully into play.  I was nervous being out of my comfort zone, nervous to be traveling quite a distance from my house, and just not very comfortable.  But I knew deep down in my heart of hearts that I had been dreaming of an opportunity like this for a very long time.  I was the only one holding me back, and heaven knows that you only get so many opportunities in this life to try new things before they pass you by. 

 

So as the day progressed I was so pleasantly surprised at how comfortable I was becoming! And….why not?  I was outdoors and surrounded by some of Southern California’s most beautiful mountains ranges.  Bird were singing, a light breeze was dancing around, and several people would stop as they passed by us to ask questions about my painting, about me.  It was a rather heady experience truth be told, and a great opening trip to begin many more trips to come.  I was also getting a firm grasp on the watercolor medium itself; which can be a bit tricky if you don’t have an idea as to how to begin.  But begin I did, and then when we were ready to go I brought the painting home to work on it some more. 

 
'Monrovia Canyon Morning'
(in progress)
 
Now I’m truly hooked on watercolor painting.  I have so much more freedom of expression with it.  I find that I can produce shadowing and highlighting much easier.  Textures and grains come up fluidly and without much of a thought.  It’s a very pleasant surprise to say the least.  I’m very happy with the progress that I’ve made thus far, and hope to finish this first painting by week’s end.   Just took a little patience, a bit of persevering, and a few “Why Not’s?” under my belt.

Here’s to the beautiful dance of a mantra and a paint brush..SL

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Great Outdoors

I had the most amazing opportunity over the weekend!  My friend Renee and I took a beautiful trip to Monrovia Canyon Park in Monrovia, California to start a few new painting projects.  This trip for me would be one of many firsts.  This would be the very first time that I would ever attempt to paint outdoors (and out of my safe, comfortable studio environment), to learn watercolor painting, and also my first visit to the breathtaking views of this Southern California mountain canyon area.  I’d been to other local mountain foothills and parks, but this area by far was the most visually impressive.

 

We arrived early Saturday morning and I quickly began taking pictures of the surroundings.  The incredible scent of pine filled the air, birds called out to one another, early morning hikers waved and greeted us along each path we discovered, and young rangers were always available to answer questions and guide us to wonderful points of interest.  I was lost in the beauty, and I knew that we had made a memorable choice of locations.

 
 

I had no idea as to how to begin this painting.  I’ve never been formally schooled in the arts, so most times I just “wing it”.  Which is what I intended to do this day.  And as I set up I heard my mother’s voice reply,  “Just paint what you see.” My mother loved the mountains of Southern California, and was my only teacher in everything artistic.  I had heard this expression of hers many times over the years, but it was always when she was by my side.  I knew then that she was watching over me and guiding me.  So I began.
 
 

Five hours later, Renee and I ventured back down the winding drive and into the valley.  I had with me the beginnings of a beautiful watercolor landscape painting that I was excited to continue at home.  She and I plan to make more day trips together, and into other local mountain regions in the days to come and I couldn’t be more excited to do so!

Here’s to venturing out of comfort zones, and divine interventions! SL

Monday, October 7, 2013

Unexpected Blessings

This past weekend was like most in my art world. It was the first Saturday of the month, which meant PVAA’s monthly board meeting at Gallery SOHO.  I, being the association’s Recording Secretary, was obligated to be there to record everything gallery and association related.  It is usually a quick and interesting meeting and we cover many areas that need our attention, discussions, motions and votes.  Someone thankfully, will bring donuts.  It is also the same day that we have ‘take-in’ for our Monthly Show and sale.  So after the meeting the gallery grew busy with artists bringing in their entries for the show, and the gallery was now officially open for the business of the day; so I made my way out of there and headed home.

The rest of the afternoon I spent with my husband doing weekend things and enjoying an afternoon nap. Upon waking I picked up my cellphone to notice that I had several missed calls; all coming from either Gallery SOHO or from fellow artist/friends.  I grew concerned because I am also Gallery SOHO’s Gallery Tracker/Scheduler who is responsible for the monthly gallery sitter calendar and who keeps track of about 21 exhibiting artists. All of my cell phone messages directed me to call the gallery immediately.

But upon connecting with these callers I found out very quickly that there was not a need for me to be concerned, but to be elated!  I learned very quickly, and much to my shock and dismay, that someone had visited the gallery shortly after I had left and bought all of my paintings! Cleared my space in the gallery of everything. I thought that I would faint!  I hadn’t sold many paintings at the gallery lately and this unexpected blessing blew my mind!  I still have not come down from that high.
 
 

As I sit here and type this, this fine Monday morning, I am feeling very humbled and very grateful to whomever it was that decided that my art was something that they felt compelled to buy.  The buyer and their reasoning is a mystery to me.  I try not to question this glorious gift but merely just smile, laugh and be grateful that I was born with certain gifts that enable me to be a creative person.  And it also instills in me an eagerness to keep going, keep creating…painting….making art.  It’s what I love to do!
Here’s to unexpected blessings! SL

Friday, October 4, 2013

Arts and Crafts and the Holidays, Oh My!

Every year at Gallery SOHO we hold a Holiday Boutique, where my fellow exhibiting artists can not only show and sell their artwork but their arts and crafts as well; and in a festive holiday setting.  I have not participated in this yearly event so before my departure from the gallery, I’m going to attend!

But what to sell?  My artwork is already there on the gallery walls. Then I had an idea.  What if I could create jewelry from my artwork?  Something fun and funky; wearable pieces of my original artwork?  And after some research I discovered that this would be a fairly inexpensive project!  I quickly ordered the supplies.
 
 
I then decided that my splatter abstracts would serve this purpose very well. (See Abstract Art tab above) They are in an array of colors, patterns and textures, and I believe would make for truly one-of-a-kind wearable art pieces. Jewelry from the HeART if you will!  I will also eventually be adding my other artworks into the jewelry pieces, but for now my abstracts will be my focus.
 
 

The holiday boutique will also be a good starting point if I were to ever branch out this jewelry making endeavor and sell the pieces elsewhere; possibly even online.  It will allow me to judge whether or not these art/jewelry pieces are interesting, if they could potentially become popular, and also to morph into a new small business endeavor.  And if not, well then they would surely make fun and interesting gifts!
So while I await my road trips with Renee, this is my new art project focus!

Here’s to fun with arts and crafts! SL

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Foray Into Watercolor Painting


 
One of the reasons that I started this blog is that I wanted to document my journey/life in painting and away from the secure and comfortable confines of not only my home but the gallery.  Most if not all of my paintings were/are created entirely in acrylics and some paint pens.  Acrylic paints for me are a “safe” medium.  I can control the paint…the outcome, in my own time with only minor deviations to keep a smooth and happy flow to the process.
Last Summer my friend and fellow exhibiting artist Renee Matter and I took a trip to Pasadena to take in and enjoy the 8th Annual Saturday in the Park with the Masters event; where I was blissfully turned on to the likes of Watercolor art!  It opened my eyes to a medium that had once intimidated me. And because of that mindset, I never attempted to paint with watercolors.  How limiting of me as an artist!  While at the event I felt particularly drawn to a wonderful watercolor artist named Brenda Swenson. http://swensonsart.net I literally could have stood the whole day and watched her create her amazing pieces of art.  It started something within me that I’m only now beginning to realize.

A year later and when I decided to teach myself watercolor painting, I look back on Brenda’s artwork, and the event, and smile.  It’s interesting how circumstances and memories stay with you for a reason.
I’ve started to gather together my watercolor supplies and I have been playing with the flow of pigment and water….beginning to establish a style of my own.  It’s quite a beautiful experience actually, and I only wish that I would have tried it a long time ago. 

As I look at the calendar now, I see that October is fast approaching and the time where Renee and I will be making our daytrip travel plans, packing up our painting supplies, and heading outdoors to paint Southern California!  I could not be more excited!
Here’s to embracing new things!....SL

Monday, September 23, 2013

Taking Chances

June 2010 I was in a major artistic slump.  I had been painting, drawing, creating computer aided artwork, etc., for years and years  But I began to realize that I was not feeling fulfilled as an artist.  I enjoyed from time to time the feedback from online art communities but I quickly burned out of the whole online art scene, and soon realized that it was becoming far more social and far much less focused on the art.

What I really wanted and needed was to see what it was like in the real art world.  To be part of the art community in my town. To share real space with other artists, and to step out of my comfort zone and take a chance on myself.

So I sat down one afternoon and started searching for local art galleries.  I then discovered an art gallery called Gallery SOHO.  They were located in the art and antiques district of downtown Pomona, California.  I also noticed that Gallery SOHO was a co-op gallery and that each exhibiting artist volunteered their time to sit at the gallery and also must serve on Pomona Valley Art Association’s Board of Directors.  Sounded like a plan! So I gathered up my courage and an armful of my artwork and off I went to meet with the Gallery Coordinator. And the rest, as they say, is history.
 
 
Gallery SOHO Interior

 
I have made so many phenomenal friendships through Gallery SOHO and with Pomona Valley Art Association. I have sold a lot of my artwork, gained so much confidence in my own artistic abilities, and made many valuable art connections here in California and all over the western United States.
 
My Abstract Work - On Display and For Sale
 Until January 2014
 


But now I feel that I must move on. So at the end of this year and after much contemplation, I will be resigning my board positions and removing my artwork from the gallery. Why you ask?  Because I’m not done! I really want to see what else is out there for me!  Pomona Valley Art Association and Gallery SOHO were such beautiful stepping stones and learning environments on my artistic path, but most certainly not the end of my artistic journey. Not even close! I want to travel and to paint what I see during those travels. Take in all of the beautiful architecture and landscapes that is Southern California, and beyond! And also to share all that I have discovered and created here! I absolutely cannot wait to see what’s next on my journey….

Here’s to taking chances!..SL

Desert Landing

As I sit here this morning with coffee in tow, I am looking out my kitchen windows and across yet another beautiful eastern Arizona sky. Th...