It seems like I was just preparing my house for Thanksgiving to have guests come to stay with us, and all of a sudden we're past New Year's Day already! After taking down my Christmas decorations I headed up to my studio with spring gardens already on my mind. I like to keep looking at all kinds of color and garden combinations this time of the year because it can tend toward being either freezing cold or dreary outside in Chicagoland in January.
Soon I will be finishing yet another flower garden painting, and it's the middle of winter. My decorating theme throughout my home is endless summer, and many of my summer motif paintings hang on my walls. I like it that way, though I do plan on creating more Christmas and winter paintings. I like all of the seasons, but I especially love the way that summer comes and kind of settles in, and all of the gardens and trees come into complete maturity. Our last two summers in Illinois were an exceptionally rich dark green in the trees and the landscape, and really an inspiration for paintings. I love the prairie and the beautiful fields and trees in the areas where Monet painted, and often where I live in Plainfield Illinois, I can see similar scenes to the areas in the south of France.
Fall is here, and I really wanted to write a summer post, but summer flew by me before I realized it. I had a very busy summer. In the spring we purchased a new Australian Shepherd puppy as a companion to our 9 year old Aussie. Alexandria, our 9 year old was not really prepared for what she was about to experience when we brought home the new puppy. We named the new pup Sophia, and introduced the two of them at a nearby park. Though Alex didn't know it, she had just been recruited into a new career, "puppy trainer." This scenario has had it's challenges! The two of them have kept me hopping. They are high energy, and full of surprises. Not a day has gone by without some kind of new challenge popping up. Alex let all of us know from the the start that she is the boss of the two, and the puppy has not stopped challenging that! During their nap times I managed to squeeze in some studio time and complete a few summer paintings, it was surely a reprieve from the action in our dog run, backyard, deck and in the house, especially in our mud room which I cleaned over and over again!
It seems Spring is almost in the air here in Illinois. Meaning there is still a chill in the air, what snow that we had is melted and the sun is shining. The grass is starting to turn green, and the hope of warmer temperatures is near. At this time the fashion industry is so showing their spring inspirations in the form of gorgeous colorful floral fabrics in dresses, skirts, jackets, blouses, formal wear and even on shoes and handbags.
How refreshing for female flower lovers to see offerings of garden array all over the marketplace this year. I am an avid flower garden lover. Each spring I can hardly wait to get outside and start digging in the dirt and planting my garden. Seeing the blooms each spring I am inspired to get into my home art studio and start spreading colors of paint on canvas. I paint gardens, landscapes and seascapes all spring and summer, as well as the rest of the year, but spring has a special vibe with all of it's kaleidoscope of color! It is a season that especially shouts out the beauty of flowers and of nature awakening again after the long winter.
I do really enjoy the blue skies, the sunshine and the fresh cool air of spring, the fragrance of many different species of florals in the air, and the wonderful promise of summer coming.
I had a group of friends back in High School who loved to go hiking in our local Arboretum, and we spent many Saturdays together enjoying this wonderful tree museum. To this day my husband and I visit there often enjoying miles and miles of roads of gorgeous forest trees and wildflowers. I often take photos there but I rarely paint from them because my ideas and tastes are constantly changing, and I often tend to paint from ideas that I piece together from things I've seen there, or in books or things I've seen and remember. I rarely paint a photograph exactly as I see it, I always change the landscape or flowers to get them looking exactly the way that I want them to look.
I had the privilege of being involved in my first art show in my home town of Plainfield, Illinois just a couple of years ago. My husband Mike and our son Ryan helped me with set up, and in handling sales. My daughter in law, Jessica came and my granddaughter Lucie joined us as well which made it all so special. There was great food, live music and other artists exhibiting. It was exciting, fun and a great deal of hard work. I was so happy to see several of our friends show up at the show, and purchase some of my paintings. I was so blessed when a lady I had never met previously, said that the painting that she bought entitled "Refreshing" pictured below was the most beautiful painting that she had ever seen in her life! Wow! That was an encouragement to keep on painting!
This is a photo of my art teacher at the time pictured in the middle, with me and some of the other professional artists that exhibited in the show. The show was entitled "Buy Good Art" and was held in October, just before the start of the Holiday Season. The Show included great food, live music and a nice family atmosphere. Visitors were allowed to go up to the second floor loft and view the actual artist studio where many artists come to take classes or rent out studio space to work on their paintings.
Back in the late 1990's through 2003 I worked as a mural artist in the western suburbs of Chicago. I did business with a residential painting company that had clients wanting mural art done on their newly painted walls. Back then there was a plethora of faux finishes, marble effects, feathering, and many wild and wonderful wall painting going on, so mural art fit right in with all of these artsy looks in decorating.
People were so excited when I arrived at their home to show them samples of some of the kinds of scenic effects that I could paint on their walls. I would arrive early morning with my paint boxes, brushes and ladder, and I would often wind up spending the day there painting. It was so much fun because people were so fascinated, not only watching me paint, but with the beautiful results.
I was fascinated with the wide variety of tastes and styles that I got to work with, and with all of the amazing homes that I got to visit. I enjoyed every aspect of the work, even going in ahead to sell them the artwork. I liked being able to show them interesting ideas, and we were both always excited to get started. My artistic passion always rose up inside of me as I drove to clients homes, and then their gracious welcome and excitement at what I was doing kept the creative juices flowing.
The murals below were painted on some of the walls in my own home at that time.
Here is one that I did in the entryway to our house.
This one was done on plywood.
At home in the studio, able to paint "a little bit" as I am recovering from my second knee replacement surgery. After three weeks of doing very little but taking medication, sleeping, reading, watching TV or going to physical therapy, it is nice to be able to have a short reprieve to paint some.
Within a couple of days I was able to complete the painting. A fauvist spring painting entitled "Surprise Garden." I named this painting the way I did because frankly I was surprised that I was able to paint so soon after surgery! I am so thankful to God to have two brand new knees to continue my life's journey, and I am glad to be recovering now in this beautiful season of the year, "Spring !"
I was a Jr. High girl and teenager in the 60's and 70's. As you may well remember, those years were tumultuous, ever changing, and exciting. I found so many interesting things to paint in those days. I loved everything that Walt Disney was creating, and the British invasion of rock groups that stormed the American scene.
While the war was raging in Vietnam many of us were rockin and rollin! The two radio stations that were so popular at that time were WLS and WCFL, in Chicago. I lived near a record store that had the survey of top hit songs on their countertop so I used to stop by and pick one up whenever they were available. At night I would put my transister radio under my pillow before I fell asleep to listen to all of the latest and greatest bands! I was a dedicated Beatles fan and a fan of many other bands as well. Much inspiration for painting and drawing came from these sources. School was a big influence on my art because of the all of the art courses that I was taking, but also because I hung around with other artists and we shared many ideas with each other about painting, crafting and designing all kinds of things, from tie-dyed clothing, clay pottery and jewelry to furniture and houses.
Growing up in our home also meant sports! From dawn until dark our family talked, walked and lived sports! We watched sports on TV, regularly and we were all involved in sports. My Mom was a cheerleader in her school days, my Dad was a professional golfer, both of my brothers followed suit, and both are professional golfers and golf teachers to this day. My older sister was a racket ball enthusiast and a swimmer my younger sister became a snow skier and I was an endeavoring equestrian. I was also involved in gymnastics, swimming, tennis, soccer, and ice skating. This atmosphere in our home kept things upbeat and on the move all of the time. My Dad had also been a basketball coach, so he coached us to play golf too.
My Dad would have us kids in the back yard for putting practice, we would shave a portion of grass out of the lawn and sink a Campbells soup can into the ground to serve as the cup. These photos reflect some of the influence on my artwork that I was experiencing during that time. The floral painting is from a few years ago, but has that 70's look to it much like the art that was around during those years.
This funny looking drawing was a project my teacher at the time planned. She had everyone in my class print their initials on construction paper with a lead pencil, then left it up to us what we wanted make out of them. My idea turned into two kids, the guy with a crew cut and sunglasses and the girl dressed in a 60's 70's style outfit.
Photos of me during my equestrian days.
Be sure to visit my Pinterest collection to see much more of the things that have both inspired and enriched my journey as an artist, especially my "Memorabilia Collection!" and visit my ART Home Collection to purchase my paintings and decor to compliment them. Just click here
When I was a kid there seemed to be so many creative outlets around. I grew up in a large Catholic family, with my two brothers, two sisters, many cousins, my grandparents many aunts and uncles who were all very affectionate and loving toward all of us kids, and always made us feel like we were special, and important.
We walked about seven or eight blocks to school every day so I experienced the outdoors a great deal. We went out to play for recess every day, then we played outside after school as well. Whenever I rode in the car with my Mom, she was always pointing out the beautiful trees, gardens, parks and yards to me. We would be driving through a part of our home town, and she'd say to me, "pretty in through here isn't it?" My Mom was a grade school teacher, and she was always encouraging the art gift in me. She would often say to me, never give up on your painting. One Christmas my Mom and Dad surprised me with a wooden box that had hinges on it filled with oil paints, brushes, a palette, turpentine, and linseed oil. I would spend hours in my attic bedroom experimenting with my new paint set painting fruits and flowers or scenes with trees.
When I was just a baby my parents would put me out on the back porch at my Grandparents house in Chicago and I would look out upon their large back yard with towering trees where big old owls hung out! In my grandparents yard my grandfather had a very large vegetable garden, a big peach tree, and many other beautiful trees in that yard as well.
While growing up we rode our bikes all over town, walked to the park to go swimming, ice skated the river, climbed all the trees to pick apples, peaches and pears, and we picked bunches of wildflowers and brought them home to our mothers. We fed grasshoppers to the neighborhood cats, we drew on the sidewalk with chalk and played hop scotch, we dressed up in costumes and put on plays, played hide and seek, we built forts, and played army, we colored and painted and read books, and went bowling. In the winter we built snow igloos, and played cards in them, flooded the back yard and ice skated on it, and in the summer we caught fire flies in jars and played hide and seek or kickball in the street until dark. We slept out in tents in the back yard and walked up town to Walgreens to buy bags full of penny candy. When I turned ten I started taking English Horseback riding lessons on Saturdays, and my class would ride the trails through the forest preserve. This is a photo of me on my grandparents porch, and some of the crayon drawings that I created in grade school.
My grandfather created this swing for me in the backyard at my grandparents house in Chicago, I spent a great deal of time out there under the trees. I so enjoyed that big yard. I liked to help my grandpa mow the lawn, I followed him around with my toy lawn mower! Often times my large family would gather in a big circle of lawn chairs around the yard for a cook out. All of the cousins would play in the in the middle of the circle visiting with all of the aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents who always gave us lots of hugs and kisses! Then we would go across the street to the school yard to swing on the swings there. The early influence of spending a lot of time in the great outdoors shows up in my artwork to this day...
This painting was recently created. It is entitled Daylight Forest.
I have always been a home body. I like to remodel my house, decorate my house, and live in my house. I had a Mom that taught me all of the homemaker skills. (I learned by doing.) While other girls in high school were pursuing careers that would take them outside of their homes, I was taking courses like home economics, interior design and seven different art courses. I have always loved doing creative things like cooking, gardening, flower arranging and painting, especially painting! While I was raising my two sons, I would grab every spare moment to paint either a room, a wall, a piece of furniture, or some other object that I found interesting, or a canvas. I would scour the arts and crafts stores and thrift shops searching for some interesting object to bring home and paint. Sometimes I would buy an old framed matted print, take it apart, clean the glass, paint the mat, paint or stain the frame, do a new painting for it, put the whole thing back together again and hang it on a wall. One day I even painted our couch. This couch was an off white canvas type of fabric, and it had a stain on one end, so I just decided to paint a flower pattern all over it. My husband and sons thought that this was hilarious and kidded me about it for months on end, but I didn't care because I was having so much fun experimenting seeing what I could do with a paint brush and some paint! Often at the end of the day I would find my shirt, jeans, shoes, face and hair covered with paint, and paint on my hands and under my finger nails, but I would collapse in my chair feeling completely fulfilled and satisfied, because I not only had had fun doing what I love to do, but I knew that I had also spent the day developing my skills as an artist.
Autumn has arrived in Illinois and it is so rich in color and beauty.
My Aussies are so special and precious to me, and they are a great reprieve from studio time. I love to take a break from painting and writing and just spend some time watching them play in the dog run or in our back yard. They are such an intelligent and athletic breed, and they are always coming up with new antics to amuse me!