Wild and Free

Shortly after a friend’s mother passed away, a yellow butterfly landed on her shoulder. I was inspired AND intrigued.

In an earlier blog, I posted a series of butterflies that I had been working on for a special project. Butterflies symbolize change and transformation. And in grand style, I might add.

The yellow butterfly symbolizes even more.

Don’t be fooled by the description of the yellow butterfly as the Common Butterfly with little unique markings. It is a symbol of hope and guidance.

And here is the goose bumpy part: it also means the soul is at peace.

In addition, the color yellow symbolizes optimism, energy and joy. If there are any words that describe my friend, it is these words. I am sure her mother was saying, “I am well and at peace,” as well as sending a message, “…don’t despair at my departure. Despair does not become you. Remain true to who you are because, I am singing in the sunshine wild and free, playing tag with the wind and watching over thee.

Thanks to my friend for sharing her story and inspiring me to create another greeting card.

Singing in the Sunshine, wild and free

Let us all be optimistic, full of energy and joyful.

Living Life in Technicolor

Until I met my husband, my life was pretty black and white. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about my upbringing but things like camping, backpacking, rock climbing, cross-country drives to the Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and places in between, were all novelties. He introduced color that I didn’t know was missing. And I am so glad that we shared that with our kids.

So today as we continue to paint with different hues, reading quietly, watching favorite shows on our individual iPads, go on walks and watch the birds in our neighborhood and in our backyard, I thought it fitting to celebrate his Father’s Day with a painted bunting watercolor.

We have been trying to attract these birds to our backyard from the waterway nearby. So far the seed we have put out has been untried.

In the meantime, my husband has framed the original watercolor and hung it in our family room with the hope that we will see the real deal in our backyard before they migrate.

I think the bunting will make a lovely notecard. What do you think?

Art as Therapy

With Spring soon to give way to Summer, hot and humid summer, I completed this season’s gardening in ample time to relax and enjoy my back yard garden.

Sadly, some unexpected issues have caused me to undo most of my Spring gardening.

While waiting for a landscape crew to help move and replant some of the bigger items, I turned to one of my favorite artists who posted a video lesson that turned out to be amazingly therapeutic.

The session and resulting work turned around my sour disposition.

There is so much to be said for being creative. Creativity leads to hope and joy. How satisfying is that?

Freedoms Ring

The meaning of Memorial Day weekend, the traditional kickoff to summer, is often blurred by trips to the beach or other favorite vacation spots. With all the accompanying events, let us not forget to pause and remember that we are free to celebrate this weekend and the summer that follows because of those who fought on our behalf to protect democracy and our rights. Remember those we lost.

Home of the free because of the brave.

It’s SPRING!!!!

Weeeha. Can you believe it? We are days away from Spring. I have been waiting to feel light and airy for months now. And here we are.

Last spring I played with Daffodils and Irises. Why I bypassed the Cherry Blossom, I do not know. Having lived in the DC area most of my life, I was always thrilled to visit the Tidal Basin around the Jefferson Memorial. The Japanese Cherry Trees in bloom are breathtaking.

Just like Spring, Cherry Blossoms symbolize renewal, hope and new beginnings. In addition, the meaning of cherry blossoms in Japan runs deep, making the country’s national flower a cultural icon revered around the world not just for its overwhelming beauty, but for its enduring expression of life, death and renewal.

Tied to the Buddhist themes of mortality, mindfulness and living in the present, Japanese cherry blossoms are a timeless metaphor for human existence. Blooming season is powerful, glorious and intoxicating, but tragically short-lived — a visual reminder that our lives, too, are fleeting.

We need to ask ourselves, Why don’t we marvel at our own passing time on earth with the same joy and passion [as the Cherry Blossom]? Why do we neglect to revel in life …. or in the grace surrounding us everywhere: It is time, cherry blossoms remind us, to “pay attention.”

I am excited by the new beginnings of This Spring and especially to walk about freely and mindful of my blessings.

Without Valentine’s Day, February would be…well…

January. And what a tedious month was January. It felt like we were living the same day every day like in the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day. At first I thought this feeling was coming off of the holidays and the usual doldrums that accompany packing up decorations, uncluttering and reorganizing. Or perhaps it was weather: cold and dreary. Or the continued political drama and the Pandemic. Then I came to realize that it was all the above and I wasn’t alone.

So if it weren’t for Valentine’s Day, I would have curled up in a blanket left undisturbed until Spring, regardless what the groundhog said.

A little rusty, I headed into my studio and warmed up with doodles, sketches and watercolors with the quiet question, “what will you create for your Valentine’s Day card? Soon, the doodling became an obsession. I was getting stressed that I wouldn’t land on something in time to get cards out to my friends and family.

Obsessing Over A Valentine Image

And in case you wonder, obsession and stress demotivate the creative process.

Realizing this, I pushed aside my tendencies and relaxed into one image that floated to the top of the pile and ignited my usual glee and Valentine silliness. And what was born was a Valentine Fairy (named by a patron).

I wanted more for her. I wanted to embellish. I used metallic pinks – homemade watercolor paints from London – a Christmas gift from my son’s girlfriend. Because Tulle was so much fun to work with for my Butterfly series, I attached pink sparkly Tulle to her skirt. (I have so much glitter throughout the house from this exercise.)

And finally, I created and added handmade hearts.

She is so sweet. She makes February, well… not January. As I finished writing each personalized note to a friend or family member, my spirits were lifting. I was no longer obsessed but rather fulfilled and feeling pretty peaceful.

Bill Murray’s character, “Phil”, in Groundhog Day had a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you the rest of your life. He did however move from this dark and despairing character to one who seized each day to learn new things, give back and build relationships. If everyday were Groundhog Day, we get to learn from our mistakes and be better the next day. So how can we all take advantage of each day to keep our spirits lifted?

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Let it snow!

I made 2 special cards for Christmas 2020. One a Snowman, the other a Bird. Each one teased my creativity while offering different reflections.

The Snowman. Consider that for one season in the year, the Snowman braves the elements. Alas, in the end, it melts away, leaving memories of good cheer and loads of fun in the making.

The Bird. I think this is a Bluebird. At least that’s my story. I love watching these birds flit through our neighborhood. They just makes me smile. Did you know some birds hibernate during winter, others fatten up and fluff their feathers to trap heat and conserve energy? Can we relate to that this year? So this seemed a fitting image for 2020.

We may have fattened up, slowed down and conserved energy this year. Needless to say we have braved the elements for nearly 10 months. We surely can shake off any lethargy and like the snowman bravely face upward and forward with renewed creativity and resilience. Come on 2021! I am ready!

Fall Forward with Grace

I don’t seem to be alone with wanting to fast forward to Christmas. I am looking forward to the lights and the smell of orange, cinnamon and ginger all of which bring good cheer and warm memories. However, I am called to slow down and appreciate the messages that come with the Fall season and Thanksgiving. I scanned through my watercolor collection to find this abstract floral that I did in early 2020. When I turned it on its side and embellished with gold, I was ready to send notes of gratitude.

Even though 2020 has been a trying year, let us not forget to count our blessings and list all the “silver linings.” Though we are far apart, I have had more contact with my children this year than in previous years. I am grateful for the technology that enables that. I am grateful for the creativity that my daughter has to assemble a unique and what promises to be a fun virtual Thanksgiving experience that will bring our family and her fiancee’s family together.

Be grateful for what we have and not bemoan what we don’t have. I have been and will continue to count my blessings and will hold off on Christmas decorations to at least the day AFTER Thanksgiving, Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

just when the caterpillar thought life was over…

I have been playing around with various approaches to creating a watercolor of a butterfly. After several attempts: some that I love, some that I don’t and some in between; I decided to take a step back and appreciate these creatures.

Butterflies are symbols of change and transformation and with that hope. 2020 has been and continues to be a difficult year. Here is to the hope that we emerge from it with grace. Life is not over….

So far this is my favorite creation. I wondered if I could include a Jackson Pollock effect in watercolor. The best I could do was splatter globs of water around the wings and blow through a straw. I imagine the butterfly is displacing water in a pond. Doomsayers might say otherwise.

The final touch is silver tulle to replicate shimmering veins. I love the tulle. It’s my new mixed media favorite. Here’s to hope and a shimmering and beautiful 2021.

Never Give Up Hope

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I don’t however need any reminders that I lost my mother to Breast Cancer which eventually took her life nor to be reminded of the women in my life who have lost their loved ones or the women I know who fought the fight and survived. To celebrate and to remember and to keep fighting the good fight so that our sons and daughters are free from this disease….Cheers.