This is Baby Monkey. My little girl’s best buddy. Her constant companion for the better part of her life. So loved is Baby Monkey that I worried about her safety, constantly checking to see that she hadn’t been left behind at stores, hotels, airports. The perfect size to clutch in a chubby little 3-year-old fist, she went everywhere with us.
But my little girl isn’t 3 anymore. She’s 6. Tall, headstrong, funny, bold. Baby Monkey stays home most of the time nowadays, no longer making trips to the grocery store and school. Recently, though, after a long day out my daughter said, “I want to go home. I want to go home and see Baby Monkey.”
I just finished this commission and I love it. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever done. However, it began the way many of my paintings began.
It began with love.
A couple. A wedding in an exotic locale surrounded by the people that love them best. And flowers. Beautiful flowers.
Five years later, that wedding is a marriage- no longer just a celebratory statement of love, but a daily, quiet, steady, continual recommitment to a relationship with kids, a mortgage, and all the trappings. And through that weekday love, the memory of that wedding, and those flowers, glows bright.
Five years. The flower anniversary. As a gift to each other they chose this: a daily reminder to hang in the heart of their home of that beautiful day, that embrace of family and friends, and those flowers.
Hello there stranger! How the heck are ya? Do you even remember me? I’m sure that’s questionable. Remember in my last post I promised you that I would tell you soon what was keeping me so busy. Apparently I lied. I apologize.
See here’s the deal. I had a baby! I say that like it just happened. Oh no. It wasn’t recent. It was so long ago now I’m embarrassed to say. Embarrassed because while a new baby might be a reason to neglect a blog, a 20-month-old, despite the fact that he’s into everything, seems like less of an excuse. The thing is that while I expected that to mean extra work, no one told me that the craziness increases exponentially with each child so that 2 children is somehow through some mathematical mystery 4 times the work. I would imagine that people with 6 children never ever stop moving and never take in any sustenance but the last drops in the bottom of a juice box and the 1/2 a chicken nugget child #4 dropped on the floor that the dog failed to notice. So hats off to those of you that make multiple children look easy. But I digress. Where was I? Ah yes. Kid x 2= Work². However, it’s also Fun², so while there’s extra cleaning messes, laundry, correcting, containing, and refereeing, etc; there’s also extra snuggling, kissing, teaching, learning, and laughing. It’s good. It’s great! But it is busy.
I am very happy to say, though, that work as been busy as well. I’ve done several commissions which I have really really enjoyed. I love the collaboration involved in helping someone flesh out what they want in a painting and bringing it to life. My commissions have ranged from an oil painting done from an old photograph of the client and her mother, to a traditional portrait, to a portrait of a beloved stuffed bunny, to tiny boots and baby knees (plus a couple of pet portraits not shown here). The work has been varied, but so so good with each piece presenting its own challenges, learning opportunities, and rewards. I’ll probably go into detail about some of these in future posts, but for now here’s a brief glimpse of what I’ve been up to since the new kid came along:
Yowzah it’s been a long time since I posted! So long that I forgot my password to log on to my site! I have been very very busy with things that I will share with you at a future point. However, for the moment, I’m STILL busy. I do want to show you a piece that I finished a few months ago, though, that I’ve yet to share. It’s a diptych (which is a fancy way of saying that it’s on two panels). I had so much fun with the colors in the skin tones-greens, violets, reds… To anyone reading this who is not a (totally obsessed with tiny details, value shifts, and color changes) realist artist, that statement probably sounded weird. I mean, caucasian hands should be painted in caucasian flesh tone, right? Yeah right, and grass is green and apples are red. Ok, well, those last two are true even though much more goes into those than meets the eye as well. But skin… how can I begin!? Skin is an organ, right? The largest organ of your whole entire body. It is a living thing with blood flow, covering muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones. And because it’s translucent, those elements underneath affect the color of the skin on top. So, take that complexity and add to it some other factors like form, light, shadow, the hills and valleys that make it look like a hand instead of just a lump of peach or brown clay and it gets pretty colorful. Your amazing brain is so amazing that it takes in all those details and processes them without you even noticing, then says simply to you, “That? That’s a hand.” So, take a minute. Look at the back of your hand. Wiggle your fingers and notice how the shape of the shadows changes as you do so. Pretty cool, huh? Now tell me, what color is your skin?
As you’ve probably noticed, I love my watercolor journal. I often post pictures on here of watercolor journal entries from special vacations,
periods of time I don’t want to forget, or just mundane moments from my life.
Even if the picture doesn’t turn out perfectly, I think that just the attention and care put into that moment, that event, that item, imbues it with a certain honor that says, “I was here and this was important enough to me to try to record it.” A picture truly is worth a thousand words.
So, I’m excited to have the chance to share my fairly simple watercolor journaling techniques with all of you in the Birmingham area with in an upcoming workshop.
NEXT Saturday, March 19 from 9-2 I’ll be teaching a workshop at Samford Academy of the Arts. The cost is $175 plus supplies (my supplies are fairly minimal- a watercolor notebook, a travel watercolor set, a permanent marker, and a water pen are the only items you may not already have laying around).
Follow this link: Samford Academy of the Arts , click on the painting tab, then scroll down to my workshop “This is Your Life Watercolor Journaling Workshop” to register.
Christmas 2014 when my daughter was 3, my father-in-law and his wife gave all the grandkids boots. What a hit! My little girl wore hers constantly- I even had to talk her out of wearing them on the beach- and they quickly became her trademark. But, like kids tend to do, she’s growing. Quickly. And by this past Christmas it was time for a new pair. They were replaced by a pair of brown boots with colorful stitching on the sides. She took to them immediately. It took a little longer for me. They were so grown-up and I wasn’t ready.
She’s getting so big, so fast. The 4-year-old in brown boots is so different from the 3-year-old in pink boots. So different and yet the same. I love watching her grow up. I love watching her change. But it also breaks my heart a little. So when I requested she pick out some things to give away and she brought me her pink boots, I almost cried. The sentimental packrat in me wanted to hold on to them… just because. She’s right, though. It’s time to move on. But not without commemoration and one last look.
I love my husband for a zillion reasons. He can make me mad faster and laugh harder than anyone I know, sometimes simultaneously. He makes a mean hamburger, pot of chili, poached egg, margarita, or whatever else he wants. He’s solid. He’s trustworthy. He’s generous and loyal to those he loves almost to a fault. He’ll make you mad. He’ll drive you crazy. But when push comes to shove he’s got your back if you’re one the ones lucky enough to be called family or friend.
The reason, though, at this particular moment I so love my husband is the mess in our house. It’s my mess. It’s art mess. Our house is not big. My easel is. Currently three rooms of our house hold canvases that may not, under any circumstances, be moved. There’s an easel in our “dining area” right next to his chair. There’s a reference drawing tacked (literally tacked) to the wall beside the window. However, my husband (whose hyperbolic diatribes regarding annoyances inflicted by the rest of humanity are almost legendary) doesn’t say a word about the art supplies taking over our house. He just turns scoots his chair over, looks at the painting, and complements my day’s work.
Behind every artist is someone willing to overlook some mess.