Let Your Light Shine

Tag: commission

Creative Timing

A work that in progress

I am grateful for every new idea that comes to me. Sometimes it’s an inspiration for a new painting or maybe a party game when I’m in charge of entertainment for a bash. (Farm Animal Price is Right was a big hit!) I may come up with a way to solve a practical problem or a concept for a blog post. I love to be creative but I just can’t control when inspiration will occur.

The best way to be inspired is to start working. The more I work on a project, the more ideas I get. There’s nothing like jumping right into the mess of a project to see new pathways or solutions. If you’re stuck on a project just take one little micro-mini step and you may be on your way to something better than you originally imagined. Turn it upside down and backward to see it in a new light.

This painting was commissioned to preserve family memories of a special place.

Some good ideas come while I’m walking the dog in the morning and letting my mind wander. I never listen to music or podcasts while I’m walking. I like natural sounds and silence. Whatever concerns are top of mind usually get examined again and sometimes new little ideas bubble up. This is great because I have all day to think them over. Ideas that pop into my brain in the daylight are usually workable.

I get good ideas at church. I admit that my mind wanders but I choose to think it’s making space for divine inspiration. Any idea that pops into my brain at church gets taken very seriously.

I do a good bit of driving so that’s another opportunity for the mind to travel to new territory. If I go down a mental rabbit hole, I can work on an idea for quite a while and still pay attention to traffic. (Although I may not realize how far I’ve traveled.) The only drawback is that I can’t write and dictating to my phone is too distracting. So I’ve got to hold that thought awhile – not so convenient.

The worst time for me to get ideas is when my head hits the pillow. When that happens I know I’ll be noodling it around for a long time and I won’t be able to shut down the mental processor and get some sleep. I’ll think and struggle and toss and turn.

Inspiration lights up my brain and shoots off in all kinds of “what-if” directions. I think of the practical side of how to make it work and how to add razzle dazzle. The idea develops and morphs and coagulates.

I stay from You Tube DIY videos late at night. I know that my brain will be DIYing for hours. Ideas that involve images are challenging enough but ideas that involve words are the worst! I’m afraid I’ll lose them so I keep reviewing them until I finally get up and write them down.

I’ve learned over time that the only way to get relief is to get up and do a brain dump onto paper and hope that it will make sense in the morning. Usually it just needs more work, but sometimes the idea is just too crazy when held up to the light of day.

Early stages of a quilt on my design wall

I adore creativity. It gives me energy. It’s a high that spills over even into mundane chores. I can conquer any boring task when I have an exciting new project to plan out. I lose track of time and enjoy the ride.

Creativity shows up when it wants to and it’s our job to make the most of it.

My Not-So-Green Thumb

Day of the Lilies painted at the Saksa Day Lilly Farm https://www.facebook.com/saksadaylilyfarm

Gardening is not my key strength. The only way my thumb will ever be green is from a tube of paint – sap green or viridian, most likely. My house is unfortunately where plants go to die.

My Dad was an avid gardener. Mom canned all the produce and planted big flower beds. None of this rubbed off on me. My sisters and I were expected to do the weeding. This was not a popular chore so maybe we developed a little of our creativity as we came up with excuses. If those didn’t work, we oiled up, so we’d get a tan. I still weed Mom’s flower beds, but it’s my least favorite chore.

Pots of flowers on my porch – potential painting!

Every spring I make my pilgrimage to the garden center. I swear this is the year I will have beautiful flowers, the envy of the neighborhood. I plant and fertilize for a month or so and then it gets hot and I lose interest. Those poor plants suffer just when they needed the most attention. I’m trying to reform and I’ve done a little better this year with a container garden. So far I’ve only lost one plant that didn’t get watered when I was away for a few days.

I am very grateful for real gardeners – the kind who shop for seeds in February. They plan and plant and pamper. Whether you are a volunteer at Franklin Park and Inniswood Gardens or a home gardener, I appreciate all your efforts. Your flowers inspire me! I need you!

My neighbors’ planting next
to their mailbox 9×12 oil

I seek out flowers wherever I can find them. Sometimes I scope out a scene for weeks, waiting for the blooms and the light to be right. When I’m painting the passersby are curious about the umbrella and the easel. Some stop to chat. So I provide a little diversion in these crazy times!

We all have different talents. That’s what makes us interesting and most importantly, interdependent. It’s almost like symbiotic relationships in nature.

If you’ve got a green thumb, I’ve got a paintbrush. I love to capture the beauty you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. If you like the painting we’ll work out a deal. Then you can have your garden blooming all winter long!

Beautyview Gardens

From Nothing to Something

Last summer I promised to do a landscape painting for the highest bidder in our parish festival silent auction.  One of my painter friends warned me that I’d be likely to get photos that would be difficult to work with, but I went blindly ahead.  (Pun intended.)

The couple who won the bid wanted a painting of the view from their favorite campground.  They promised to get a photo with fall color and email it to me.  Ideally I’d like to visit a location and take my own photos but the campground was more than an hour away so I waited for their photo.

After a gentle reminder, here’s the photo I received.

Oh, the challenges!  I needed to imagine a composition with a center of interest.  I loved the sky and I imagined that rolling hills were beautiful in person so I at least had a starting point.   When I enlarged the photo I could see some buildings near the fields in the distance so I decided on a barn as the focal point.  I emailed the couple and told them that I’d need to make some adjustments and asked if the rolling hills were their main interest in this scene.  They agreed so I started with a pencil sketch to work out my ideas.

I decided to go with oils instead of pastels or watercolors and chose a 16 x 20 inch canvas so that I could wrap the scene around the edges in case they didn’t want to frame it.

I started with an underpainting using burnt sienna.  I haven’t been using earth colors from the tube in my oil paintings, but I thought it would unify this fall scene and provide a framework. I sent  the couple a pic so they could follow the progress.

I let if rest a few days while I worked on other things.  As I began adding color to the background I shot a few photos along the way.


The road was definitely not working yet.

I smoothed it out and added the couple.






The foreground still needed something interesting and I wanted to get across the idea of a campground. Maybe a few camp chairs facing toward the view, as if the couple had just gotten up?  That didn’t work, so I decided to do picnic tables.

The tables started out a bit grey but I warmed them up with the burnt sienna. (I’m not a fan of the color gray.)   I was  waiting for the painting to dry so I could varnish it and send it to its new home when I decided it needed more highlights.  So here is the final version (I think).