A Bevy of Birds

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A Bevy of Birds  –watercolor 22″ x 30

Can you tell I had fun painting this painting?  Like I just couldn’t stop?  Well, why not add just one more itty-bitty thing?  lol.

This is my first large painting since I started working on my Secret Garden series.  What’s funny, is I am pretty sure I will not include this painting in the series.  I initially thought pottery would be a great perch for the birds I wanted to paint, but now that it is completed, I realize the painting has nothing to do with a secret garden and overall, it’s a BIT BUSY!

On the flip side, it’s a fun painting.  All the birds came out “cute” which wasn’t the plan, yet whimsy is my overall take-a-way.  I just couldn’t help it.  Pick one bird?  I  can’t pick, I love them all!  I also played with symbols of good luck which are hidden throughout the painting.  There is a #7, a shamrock, a silver spoon, a robin’s egg, a heart, a wishbone, a red apple and a lady bug.  There’s also a bumble bee and fuzzy caterpillar because why stop there???

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Yeah,  I think I went a little crazy adding as much as I did.  I should have added a kitchen sink for an extra chuckle.

Ultimately, I think I have a better idea for what to do with this image.  I should isolate the images within the image.

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See, like this. I made a mock up of note cards.  This allows your eye to take a break and focus on each object.

Like the rest of my life, I think I’m in control and going in the direction I choose.  If I have learned anything in my brief forty-something years, I AM NEVER IN CONTROL.  I just enjoy the detours and try getting back on the course I’ve selected.  Who’s to say I know what’s better for me than the universe does? 

I have NO CONTROL over the deadline, but one day I will finish what I set out to do and until then I will have a lot of cool things I encounter along the way.

Like the medium of watercolor.  I  have to laugh and just go with the flow :)

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Where Do I Begin?

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I found today’s post title very apropos. I’ve been working on these tiny 5×7 inch watercolor studies for months, but now it’s time to begin the large final paintings. Where do I begin? Also, my last post was March 2nd and since then, we just so happened to have fallen straight into a world pandemic. Where do I begin?

This sh*t is for real.

It begs the question, where do I begin?

I will spare you my personal hardships and trauma. There’s plenty. We all have are stuff…

Nope. my focus will be on distracting people who might just happen to have time now to look at things on their electronic devices.

My message to myself and now to you, is to search everyday for the beauty in the everyday. We all hopefully have windows. We may be removing humans from the landscape, but in doing so, it might just allow us to SEE. See things that are always there that we taken for granted, that we don’t pay attention to. The beauty that is always around us. The smell of the air, the feeling of the breeze, and the nature that surrounds us (even you city dwellers!).

In the last year I have finally put to rest the question of what. What do I want to do? What is my purpose? What do I want to communicate to the world through my art? It’s taken a tear-stained decade to answer the question, but like most amazing insights, they come when you finally stop asking.

I thought the answer so trivial when I received it, that it took me some time to get comfortable in my skin with it. To OWN it.

I love color, flowers, suburban animals and reminding people that all these things are around us if WE REMEMBER TO LOOK. It sounds so cliche I couldn’t accept it, but then as I sat with it, I understood what it meant to be an artist. It’s to elicit the activation of other’s five senses. To wake people up either by being blatantly avant-garde or sometimes through being quiet. I am not the kind of person to paint the Sistine Chapel black to represent my world view, but I do like to paint Happy & Cheery. Reminders that the things I love are right there in your backyard too.

And so I have begun to dive in. I learned from reading the books of one of my favorite artists, Shirley Trevena, to begin your painting with your favorite thing. The reason you wanted to paint the painting in the first place.

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So I started with the goldfinch. I loosely knew where I wanted to go and began to sketch in the other things I wanted to see. The Arches watercolor paper is 22″x 30″. That means there is a lot of space to fill. The theme of this painting series is Secret Garden. The theme of this particular painting is birds. Birds are small though. I wanted to feature birds but not have them lost in the garden. That is when I came up with the idea to add another love of mine, pottery. Perching the birds on vessels allowed them to be seen. Here are some snapshots of different areas of the painting:

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It’s slowly unfolding one day at a time. All things are unfolding one day at a time. Some days I might get a chance to paint. Other days may be devoted to more critical things. I’m not going to beat myself up. I am going too see what each day brings.

Hang in there. Find something personal that brings you joy. Nurture yourself. Enjoy what is already around us.

Breathe.

2nd Set of Secret Garden: Birds

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5×7″ watercolor study for Secret Garden Series

This is the final 8th concept.  Birds. Birds. Birds.  My favorite!  At any given moment, I can stare out the window and be brought back to nature.

The challenge for me, is that birds are rather small and generally far apart.  How do you wrap them all into a strong composition? Here are a few attempts, but I have to say I haven’t found a concept I’m truly content with …

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Right now I am beginning another concept for birds.  I’m sketching a layout of pottery and then adding birds into the composition.  I’m hoping this is the winning idea.  It will be personal because I adore pottery making.  Now, to figure out how to add the Secret Garden element.  hmm…

 

Flying High

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I’m continuing to work on my own stamps to create texture on my pottery.

This is a bird series. What is fun, is that every piece has a different pattern on its opposite side. I made a bunch of bird bodies, but I made the wings separate stamps. This way I can change the trajectory of the wings to simulate different flight poses.  Instead of only having three bird stamps, I will have six bird bodies and 12 different patterned wings to choose from.

I also made stamp pieces of a tree.  Each piece of the tree can be flipped to create more irregularity in my tree pattern.  I can stamp in many different variations of a tree depending on how many times I stamp them.  Little tree or big tree.

I am making some large bowls right now.  I’ll try using them and send some updates of how they work.

Have a great weekend everybody.  I hope you all get to do something creative :)

The Guardians

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Are you ready for this??? ……. I’m actually completely happy with another painting! Woo Hoo!!!

It’s always nice when critiquing time comes around and you don’t even have to hear yourself complain!

OK. So this is how it started out.  I used 300 lb cold press paper. I believe it’s 24×30″.  I used acrylic paint and charcoal.

I am in love with using the charcoal.  I was roaming around YouTube one day and found an artist named Gerda Lipski .  She was combining acrylic and charcoal on watercolor paper and I was instantly mesmerized.

For me, there is something about using this thick heavy paper that creates translucency that traditional canvases just can’t match.  In the next few days I will show you canvases done at the same time as this painting and ETHEREAL and you will be able to tell.  The canvases are much darker and busier.

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Now, let’s talk about the initial layer of this painting .  It looks like a horrible 80’s-throw-back painting doesn’t it?  I love this intuitive painting style because you just pick a point and start, but as the artist you keep going and going until you intuitively know you are finished.  So with this initial layer I gave myself quite a few shapes in charcoal that I could flip the paint around multiple times and see where it took me, but with this painting, I knew instantly.  Even though they are round, I knew them to be eggs.

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The birds were created using stencils I created for bird paintings a year ago.  They were made from cardboard from my recycling bin and on many occasions I almost tossed them back into the recycling, but for some reason I allowed them to kick around in my basement and instantly when I saw those eggs in my mind, I also saw those bird stencils.

Birds? Eggs? From there came building the nest.  There are many layers of acrylic and charcoal swirling around this painting.  It was fun.  I envisioned the robins in my yard picking up twigs one at a time adding and building.  I took my inspiration from them and added and edited until I knew the nest to be complete.

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As I looked at the painting, the last thing I felt it needed was a glow.  That made it mystical to me.  When I look at the painting complete, I see the two birds as guardians of something quite magical.

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So taking it to another level check out this book that found me.  I say this book found me because I went to Block Island, entered their library, climbed up the stairs to a room in the library less perused by many, randomly turned into the third row and right at my eye-level was this book:

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I’m into anything spiritual and mystical, so of course I grabbed it and read it on the beach last week.  Very cool book about Ancient Mexican Shamans by the way, but the thing that stuck with me, is that the shaman in this book interprets human’s energy mass as circular orbs of light.  Shamans believe every darn thing in the universe to be some form of energy.  There are trees, rocks, birds, thunderstorms, mental thoughts, global thoughts, wind, universe…the great creator…everything is energy and has a shape. To them some energy looks like filaments, clouds, fluid and some energy looks like orbs.

What I found interesting, is this shaman’s lineage goes back like a thousand years.  Each shaman passes the information learned to the next generation and this is the part I found interesting.  What this particular family of shamans interpreted was that humans auras were egg-shaped a thousand years ago.  When the shamans saw humans energy masses then, they were in the shape of an egg.  Today, in the twentieth century, they interpret the energy as orbs – circular.  Something happened over the centuries that our energy masses shifted in shape.  I believe it had something to do with the hardening of our thought processes and the interpretation of all matter as concrete and finite.  This has changed our auras shape.

hmmm…

Have I scared you off with all of this mumbo-jumbo?

When I got home and looked at this painting again I thought to myself, yes, exactly!  This was what I felt when I was painting!  I instantly saw those round blue circles in my painting as orbs/eggs even though they weren’t “egg-shaped”. I knew them to need this special glow of light, like energy.

The birds in my painting are the guardians. Guardians of something mystical. Guardians of us humans.  Anyone who knows me intimately knows I have had a really strong connection to birds in the past 3 years.  Strange stories I could tell you…

So why am I dribbling on?  I read this book which totally put what I knew about my painting into words.  The crazy thing is the synchronicity.  I finished the painting two weeks before I got on a ferry, went to Block Island, randomly climbed the stairs, went into the third aisle and found this book waiting for me.

The painting and the book were connected but separated by time.

If that aint an amazing koinky-dink, then I don’t know what is…

WEIRD right?  … do-do-do-do!

BIRDS TAKING FORMATION

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The other day, when I was at the art festival, I handed a woman my business card.  She looked at it, then said “Oh, I just started following your blog and I have no idea how I found you. Did you ever finish those birds?”

I can’t tell you how awesome that feels to find out someone other than my mother actually reads my blog (mom you are still reading it right?).  I’m not alone in cyber space. Woohoo!

Secondly, I have been working on my bird totems. I just fell off the planet when my kids got out of school.  It took a little adjusting from having 60% art time to 5% art time.  It’s all good though because they force me to stop and smell the cotton candy and maybe ride a wave or two…or three!

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Another woman in my pottery class thinks these birds should be mounted on large sticks or poles.  I think it’s brilliant.  I picture myself standing there with the Staff of Ra like in Indiana Jones – God help me that’s an absurd thought!  I’m totally doing it!!!

I’m off to Block Island for my annual family vacation next week.  I will be searching for the coolest pieces of driftwood I can find for my bird totems.

I Can’t wait!

Flight Patterns

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   Have I mentioned I love birds?

I spend countless hours watching them feed and fly. I can’t help but feel they are more elevated than us humans.  Let’s face it, they figured out how to go from land dwelling to flying!

This painting comes from my countless hours thinking about what it must be like to fly, to soar, to catch the wind and feel the sun.  What is it like to hone in on a specific location and then depart & elevate yourself until that location is merely a spec.  Would it allow you to always keep a balanced perspective? From way up high, all the things us humans occupy our time with would seem so trivial and insignificant compared to its whole.

I often wonder what birds observations of humans are?  What must they think about these creatures so preoccupied with that which no one can see?  What is it like to fly overhead and see trees and water and grass, but also to see buildings, landfills, crops that they would never eat because there’s poison on them, smoke stacks, highways with moving cars, cruise ships, all the things that do not belong in the landscape.  What would that be like?

What is it like to know it is time to leave and then in some magical way, you take form with all who are like you, no pushing, no shoving, no cheating, no martyr-dome.  You fly. With a common destination, you take to the sky, you know your place in the group and you work as one to get there.

Hmm. Humans may find birds simple little creatures but man, I find them spiritual.

Oh by the way, The green little bird in the corner, that’s me.  I love the Ugly Duckling who never feels like it is with its own.  It’s always wondering why it doesn’t fit in, only to find out it was never supposed to.  It’s not a duck.  The more I open my eyes, the more I see these ugly ducklings.  They are my flock, even if we must fly alone among the others.

BIRD BRAINS

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You might see these feathered friends for quite some time.  I want to create an entire mantel full!

The idea came from the gifts I received from my friend Christine.  She found an old bottle graveyard on her property and gave me a few bottles knowing I was crafty and might put them to good use. She also happens to have the most beautiful assortment of chickens, ducks and guinea fowl on her property.  I gathered up a bunch of feathers while visiting, shoved them in the jars, stuck them in my car and didn’t think about them for some time.

Of course the best ideas come while driving. I looked down at my passenger seat, saw the two items together which made me think of the seventies when people had curiosity jars filled with rocks, shells and feathers… BINGO!  I want to fill these jars with all the gorgeous flora and fauna from my area. But they had no tops.  Instantly I thought of birds. I’m obsessed with birds. I watch them all day…thus this idea.

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Here’s a third bird.

I look at these silly clay creations and they make me smile. I hope they crack you up to!

In other clay news…

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I got some of my pieces out of the bisque kiln.  I glazed them yesterday. Deep breathe & crossing my fingers they come out the way I see them in my mind :)

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I hand-painted the rooster platter too.  Next week it should be bisque fired and I’ll add some clear glaze and send it in for its second firing.

I have some colorful stuff in the works… and I’m still loving every minute of it!

I LOVE POTTERY CLASS!

If Spring Won’t Come – I’ll Force it to!

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I am Freezing.

I don’t think I can take another day.  I’m losing it.  really!  I had to help my kids find their snow suits this morning!  In my mind, I have to make it to St. Patrick’s Day and if I can make it to then, spring is just around the corner.  Except for this year.  It’s like winter won’t ever end!!! Ahhhhgh!

I get depressed feeling cold and bottled up in my cocoon all winter.  I joke that us “New Englanduhs” loose our necks in the winter.  We are shuddering with our shoulders above our ears! Being cold physically makes you tense up.  I’d imagine it makes us a little cranky too!

Well, I have found a small solace.  It’s a little patch of my dining room.  As I framed away, preparing for my art show, I broke down, pulled everything off my dining room wall, hung my bird paintings and thought –Wow.  Instantly, I felt better.  It was like the combination of bright happy colors and the thought of nature brought me internally, to a happy warm place.

Oh yeah, that’s why artists need to make art!

  It can physically change the energy within us all.  Some artists explore other emotions like sadness, anxiety, & anger.  Not me.  I’m all full here, I don’t need any more of those feelings thanks.  But a mood lifter, a giddy feeling of spring, a feeling of hope.  Sign me up! That’s what gets me inspired.

It’s going to be hard to part with these bird-beauties.  I just love them.

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DAY # 332 – THE EARLY BIRD

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Happy Thanksgiving!

The Holiday season has officially begun!

I have to say I am feeling incredibly unorganized. I feel like I should have created a token piece of turkey art today, but that would have required at least three days of planning.  Three days ago I was trying to figure out what I was going to make three days ago, so if you catch the trend, you’d know I’m barely hanging on!

I decided to keep going with what I’ve been working on this week.  Today was one of my favorites, a really twisted couple pieces of driftwood I found.

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I just marvel at mother nature.  Can you believe I found a piece of wood with such a perfect bird face?  The wings are separate, yet they seem like they could have come from the same tree.  Not so. I found the wood at two different beaches.

I nailed the pieces together the other day and today I decided to paint it as well as create a pedestal with a dowel to suspend my bird in the air.

I had to be at my family’s house for noon which meant in order to create something for today I needed to be an “early bird”.  Get it? That’s how I came up with my name for today.

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I had to pack my kids luggage for the next few days, prep some appetizers for Turkey Day and then pack up some art supplies to travel with for the next few days.

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This was the other bummer.  All the appetizers came out and I was stuck on the floor in the naughty corner working on my art for today. It’s really hard to stuff your face and paint ya know.  Don’t you worry though, some how I managed!

I have to thank my family for this year.  They are such troopers.  I’m always off in the corner doing my own thing and they step up.  They help with whatever I would have been doing if I wasn’t making art and cheer me on at the same time.  I can’t tell you how many family members sternly looked at me at 8pm tonight and asked if I had gotten my blog done yet!  This 365 challenge has not only impacted my life thus far, but also EVERYONE around me.  Especially my husband.  Man I don’t even know where to start.  When they say 99% of your life’s happiness depends on who you marry, I constantly pinch myself that I could have been so lucky.  Thank you husband.  Then there’s those kiddos of mine.  I don’t think they even remember mom before this year.  Mom didn’t volunteer at school as much this year, she missed a lot of field trips,  her afternoons were generally spent finishing up some crazy project, she wound up on the computer every evening and I’m sure she has come off just a little bit crazy, tired and unorganized.

The truth is, I can’t do it all.  If you are 100% committed to one area of your life, then the other areas of your life take a hit. However, I did stay home with my little cherubs for the past eight years and all my creative juices went directly to them.  So, we’ll say by the end of this year -we’re even!  I do need to thank them.  They go with the flow, they roll with the punches and still show nothing but love.

The upcoming year will be spent trying to find a true balance.  I need to find an outlet for creativity, yet honor my family and other areas of my life just as equally.  I’m pretty sure this is a struggle for most of humanity.  I know I’m not alone. It’s so very important though.

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I leave you this evening hoping you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving, family and friends.  Today is a great day to take stock of your life, figure out who needs to be thanked and what there is to be thankful for.

I hope you feel as blessed as I do.  I really do!

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