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February 15th, 2011
February 7th, 2011
Take heart artists! Some paintings are selling these days, and most of them are “edgy.” If that’s a new term for you, you’re not alone. My first experience with this novel art form was when I saw two paintings gobbled up by art collectors; one a blue labrador retriever, and the other a calico pit bull. The odd-color themes are not only being played out in animals, flowers and birds, but in landscape and seascape compositions. Humor is also part of the mix, and labels like “whimsy” or “fantasy” no longer cut it.
“Edgy” is perhaps the best way to describe artists who push their creativity beyond the bounds of traditional realism in style, color, and medium. It’s funky, groovy, and extremely popular right now. The colors are bright and bold; the lines are hard and well-defined and design elements play a large role in adding texture, patterns, and interest.
Sometimes humor plays a large role either in the title or through a play on words or elements in the painting. Edgy paintings become huge conversation pieces and the focal point of interest in any room by virtue of their commanding color or design. But is it really any different from the “Modernist” movement in the last century?
Henri Matisse and Joan Miro come to mind. Matisse's "Blue Nude" would look completely comfortable among the new “Edgy.” They certainly meet that definition; most of the modern and contemporary artists of the last century do. On this basis, will Edgy remain a viable art form or will this popular trend become yesterday’s fad? Will the public continue its current love affair, or will they grow tired of Edgy’s outrageous, sometimes nonsensical tirades?
I toy with the idea of trying the genre, but I’m torn between following fashion or sticking with what I know and do best. Still, the craze continues to catch on and the sounds of “ca-ching” are pulling me in that direction. I’d love to hear your opinions and feelings on the subject.
January 23rd, 2011
Painters and Artists League at Gateway (PALS), held a Wine & Cheese this month for the community; an event where we could show our artwork and mingle with friends and neighbors. In addition to serving wine, shrimp and appetizers, cheese was the featured dish.
Speaking of cheese, Roquefort was once my favorite. Now its substitute Blue Cheese is being used instead in most restaurants. My children called these cheeses “stinky feet” cheese. Their favorite, of course, was the chewy mild cheese that squeaked on their teeth as they chewed. We bought “squeaky” cheese in bite-sized pieces from a local dairy and brought it home in plastic bags. My kids were also big on “wrapped” American cheese slices and string cheese which my boys used to ape a walrus by sticking it up their noses.
Goat cheese is one of my favorites, but it’s hard to get good quality; some are simply too strong. I swear I can smell the hair and body oil of the goats I fed on my aunt’s farm years ago. Other goat cheeses are mild with a wonderful tang. Goat cheese pizza with sun dried tomatoes is the ultimate yum of blended flavors.
Cheese is a satisfying food. Probably because it’s fattening. Creamy Edom cheese covered in red casing melts on the tongue and tastes even better with a glass of bordeaux. Cheddar, the all time favorite, goes with everything and is a staple for casseroles and sandwiches.
When my daughter was taking a French class, she insisted on eating everything French. Her favorite cheese was the creamy “Alouette” brand on teeny-tiny toast. We purchased French cookies and candies; tried French recipes and dined on French cuisine. I gave her my ultimate support hoping her enthusiasm would remain high and her grades would do likewise. I wasn’t disappointed.
Mice like cheese, too, even better than the dog food they came after in my garage. They are also clever. Whenever I put a mound of cheese on a trap, the little suckers manage to nab the cheese and run off scot free. One thief got his retreating tail “caught in the wringer,” but I didn’t have the heart to kill him. I lifted the spring and off he scampered. So much for brutality.
If you’re a parent of teenage boys, you know the expression “cut the cheese” which my boys said and did often. I refer to this period in their lives as the “anal stage;” when banter with friends and each other is filled with burps, laughter and other words involving bodily functions. In family photos when the cameraman (usually Dad) barked “now say cheese,” he usually got more than he bargained for.
January 17th, 2011
In my “With These Hands” series, I chose a young African American girl for this painting. I used the title: “Hope” because it represents the spirit that helped African Americans survive and endure many years of injustice and persecution.
I was at a Larnelle Harris concert on Saturday evening. His amazing voice and colorful stories were not only entertaining they were inspiring. I’m grateful for the many African Americans who have and still do contribute their time and talents to make our country great.
Martin Luther King’s message of love and peace is sorely needed today. Why do people continue to hate those they differ from? We can’t even discuss political policy. If we have a difference of opinion, our conversation disintegrates into hate speech. The media seems to encourage this anger. Instead of reporting the news, they are spewing opinion and encouraging hatred.
At least on this day when we honor a great man, let us do as he did, and join hands in fellowship and love. Let us forgive each other more and criticize less. Let us fulfill his dream and stand as equals and Americans. Like the young girl in the painting, let’s hope and pray for a better tomorrow.
January 8th, 2011
I love roses! They’re old-fashioned. They come in many unique variations: floppy, ruffled, exquisite and perfect. Above all, they are fragrant.
Whenever I’m seated at a restaurant with a white cloth on the table and a live rose as the centerpiece, the first thing I do is “wake up and smell the roses.” Once that ever-pleasing scent wafts up my nose, the rest of the meal is delicious -- no matter what I’ve ordered.
If that makes me a romantic, I’ll accept that handle. The rose calls out to every feminine bone in my body, and to every primitive instinct I’ve ever had. No wonder it’s the flower of choice to say: “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” and “you’re the one – the object if my affection and desire.”
There’s something so elegant and sophisticated about a rose. And sensual. Remember the movie “American Beauty” with Kevin Spacey and the imagined red petals surrounding his love object; red petals representing her innocence and his lust in one glorious vision of vibrancy and life? The blood red rose symbolized all of this as it wound its thorny stems around the characters, extracting droplets of emotion, pain, and self-awareness.
I like that no two roses are alike. Their thorny disposition doesn’t deter me, though. In fact, some of my favorite people are a bit prickly until you get to know them. Once past that bristly barrier, they are pure mush; good-hearted and immensely satisfying.
I love to paint roses, too; but I’m still learning the intricacies of their sensual beauty and uniqueness. I’m grateful to Kelly Bell for allowing me to paint from a photograph she took that inspired me. In an earlier blog http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com), you can see the first coat of paint applied to a 12x16 treated masonite board. It was a lot of coats and glazes later before I had the look and feel I wanted.
As in all paintings, this is my “interpretation” of Kelly’s photo, along with my personal skill (or lack thereof). When you compare the painting and photograph, you can see that both are beautiful in their own right. They are just different: different media, different light, different focus. But both equally beautiful; Kelly’s because she has captured something real on film and preserved its original beauty forever.
Kelly’s photograph was purposely out of focus so the details eluded me. I filled in the gaps with imagination and my own personal take on the photo.
January 1st, 2011
My December issue of “Better Homes and Gardens” got me into the Christmas spirit, until I saw a photo-list of shrubs to plant for Christmas color. After reading their suggestions, I was enraged. More and more, I’m becoming at least a “conservative” environmentalist.
I’d like to share my article which appeared last year titled: “The Brazilian Pepper Tree Saga” by Carol Allen Anfinsen at http://Blogz.Org.Ning/Profile/blogs/ The painting is of a mocking bird, in the branches of one of these “bushes” eating the berries. They do love them, and guard their territory from other birds.
The Brazilian-pepper tree, alias Christmas-berry tree or Florida Holly, is an attractive shrub that sprouts red berries part of the year, grows tall, and spreads wide. When I first moved to Florida, I enjoyed watching the wide variety of birds that fluttered in their branches. So when the landscape crew attacked them with machetes and axes, I was enraged. Had we come to this in our obsession for perfectly trimmed hedges and weed free lawns, I thought?
Yes, I would later acknowledge, the Brazilian-pepper bushes were beginning to take over the hedgerow, and their absence meant that I could now see the field behind where cows grazed with cattle egret; but what about the birds? Hadn’t the pepper trees been food and refuge for the brown thrashers, the cardinals, the northern bobwhites and robins, the local mocking birds?
Before I launched into assault mode, I did some reading and investigating; turns out, that attractive Brazilian pepper is considered “one of the worst exotic pest plants” in the State of Florida. Wouldn’t you know!
Brought here from Brazil in the 1800s, the plant was used as an ornamental for its beautiful red berries and shiny green leaves. Deceivingly charming, the plant is part of the poison ivy, oak and sumac family that many people are allergic to. When crushed, the leaves smell like turpentine and can irritate the skin, nose and lungs. No wonder my allergies had flared up in Florida.
Why is the plant so prolific, I wondered? Bingo: “the pepper grows well in poor soil and shade,” and spreads wildly when the conditions for growth are optimum – plenty of sunshine, plenty of rain. Birds and raccoons find the berries delicious and spread the seeds through their guano and scat.
How is that a threat to Florida?
• The pepper tree shades out native plants
• The pepper destroys foraging areas for herons, egrets and other water birds
• The pepper’s roots get so thoroughly tangled up with mangrove roots that it’s impossible to uproot them
The beautiful Brazilian-pepper is on Florida’s “do not plant” list, and its “sale is against the law.” And I thought it was a harmless shrub; if looks could kill.
Today I smile as I walk past the hedgerow. Young leaves are sprouting, filling in naked branches replenished by sun and space. The peppers are sprawled out behind them; roots exposed, leaves withering, on their last gasp. A few yards south, a fence with a stand of pepper trees grows rampant; the property of another developer who will eventually face the removal of this encroaching invader.
Better Homes & Gardens is way off base encouraging the planting of these bushes. They will eventually spread, overcrowd, and destroy the natural vegetation in your yard. Find something better to plant! Please.
December 21st, 2010
No matter where you live in the world there are unique customs and traditions that mark holiday and religious celebrations. In this blog, I’m sharing some of mine with you, and I invite you to send me yours. I’ll feature them here or you may add them to the comments.
As a Christian, I celebrate the birth of my Savior Jesus Christ who was born in Bethlehem many generations ago. On Christmas Eve, our family reads the story of his birth from the book of Luke in the New Testament.
When the children were younger, we actually performed the story in our bathrobes with towels tied onto our heads using one of Dad’s old neckties. Having six children in our family, there was always a baby Jesus for the manger at some point in time.
Before there were packaged gingerbread houses, I made the pieces from scratch and the children decorated the house. They didn’t look like the magazine version, but the children loved them. After Christmas, they delighted in breaking the house down and eating their favorite parts.
We had our celebration dinner on Christmas Eve Scandinavian style. We followed the Kansas City tradition serving barbequed beef brisket, augratin potatoes, baconed green beans, and fruit salad.
On Christmas morning, the children sat on the stairway until each child had arrived. Then they ran for their Christmas stockings. Afterward, we all took turns opening one present at a time. It made the thrill last a little longer.
Breakfast was homemade doughnuts, eggnog, and sliced oranges. The doughnuts were fried a few days before. The caked ones were dunked in sugar, and the raised doughnuts were dunked in either white frosting or chocolate and sprinkled with coconut or slivered almonds. They were frozen to keep them fresh until Christmas morning.
These memory building traditions are what binds families together long after the celebrations are over. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
December 7th, 2010
I almost called this painting: “Amelia at the Barre.” When I saw my granddaughter in her beautiful costume, I knew I had to paint her. Not only did she awaken my love for the ballet and for the energetic works of Degas׳, but her picture brought back so many memories.
As a child, I wanted to become a dancer. From the first moment I saw a ballet, I loved the grace and power of the dance. I begged and pleaded with my mother to take lessons. I wanted to take both tap and ballet, but it was too expensive for our family budget. Finally, she agreed to ballet because I could begin in my stocking feet.
The only teacher nearby was Movita Cardon whose husband owned several stores in town. She had a wonderful studio in her basement with a grand piano that she pounded on as she shouted out commands. When we didn’t perform well, she would stop playing and give us a demonstration until we got it right.
I loved every moment of class, but sadly, my dancing days were numbered. One family crisis after another forced me to stop and then start my lessons over and over again. After each interruption, I’d get behind the other students requiring extra help and class time. Eventually, I was moved to another class with kids I didn’t know to begin again.
The final straw came when my uncle died; and I was pulled out again, this time for keeps. In spite of my pleadings to go back, my mother’s answer was a firm “no.” In our household, the word “no” had grave finality. Once that word was laid down, no amount of pleading could ever change it, even if you dared ask.
For months, I watched from the chairs reserved for parents as Ms. Cardon put her students through their paces. I imagined I was dancing with them: first position, second position, third and fourth with pliés in between; fifth position, pas de bourres and jetés.
At some point, I became a distraction and Ms. Cardon asked me to leave. She was never rude, but implied that her open back door was for students only. She suggested I come back for lessons and said they had missed me. I smiled and thanked her as I climbed the stairs for what I knew was the last time.
There is something about the ballet that still calls out to me. When I was raising my family I loved to dance and jokingly called it “exercise” when my children made fun. Deep down inside, I was living the dream I was never meant to have.
December 4th, 2010
When money is tight, and the economy is hurting, artwork is the last thing people think about. It was and always has been a luxury item; something people buy after food and rent.
It’s not a staple. You don’t need it to survive. When all is said and done, art is the last thing you consider buying after all your bills are paid. That is if you have any money left at the end of the month. With unemployment at an all-time high, these factors have increased ten-fold.
I shared some “starving-artist” recipes with you awhile back, and joked about how that phrase goes in and out of fashion, depending on the economy. Today it’s not a joke, and competition between artists is getting ugly.
There are many “wanna be” artists out there; people who hang up their shingle thinking they might make some extra cash when times are tough. Doodlers and drawers come out of the woodwork and offer their wares at next-to-nothing cost. People are getting hungry and desperate. The disparity between the rich and the poor is growing greater.
I didn’t intend to make this a doom and gloom piece, but it seems to be heading that way. Even normally successful businesses are being hurt. Government policy, unsavory business practices, and greed have brought us to our knees. Like you, I’m waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Our economy needs us to go on a spending spree, but most of us are tightening our belts. After all, it was our money taken from us through taxes that got us into this mess in the first place. And now they’re asking us to give them more. If we managed our personal budgets the way the government manages our tax dollars, we’d all be living on the street.
This holiday season, I wish each of you cheer, blessings, and the faith in yourself necessary to get you through this. I’ll need the same. If we pull together, support one another, and help one another, somehow we’ll get through this. Merry Christmas everybody!
November 24th, 2010
Here is a recently posted painting called: “Anhinga in Paradise.” The anhinga in the painting is a female. How do I know? Because the females have a buff colored head, neck, and chest while the males are black in those areas. The male has a larger wingspan, but this female is fairly large and is probably not a spring chicken or a juvenile.
Anhingas have no oil in their wings as most water birds do. This allows them to dive deeply for fish without having trapped air in their feathers slow them down or hold them back. The down side is their feathers are heavy and wet when they come to the surface. That's why they appear to be sunnning themselves as they spread out their wings. In actuality, they are drying their wings off before they take the plunge again and repeat the exercise. These birds have a voracious appetite, and can clean out a small lake or pond in a matter of days or weeks.
My artwork is not completely realistic by choice. I prefer to celebrate nature and exaggerate the colors and the beauty that sparks my imagination -- not that nature isn’t beautiful just as she is; but I like to force the viewer to see nature in another dimension.
For example, when most people look at a palm tree that’s all they see. An artist sees the lavenders, greens and blues in the shaded areas, and the pinks, and warm grays on the sunlit ones. I enjoy exaggerating the tones of tropical blues and aqua hues in the fronds and the way these colors change with light and shadow.
I sometimes like to emphasize the shapes of leaves and petals and the way they appear to turn, as if they’re in motion. You can see some of these examples on my FAA gallery.
November 14th, 2010
Long before the words: “Feng Shui” or its premise came to America; I was the Queen of Green: a nature lover at heart and most alive when outdoors or surrounded by green and earthy wood tones. I experienced first-hand the effects of green as a healer and stabilizer.
In the 70’s, I was the first one on board with my olive shag carpet, my polyester green pant suit, and my olive green appliances. Back then, “going green” meant you colored your life with the stuff. Recycling was still an idea in some hippie’s head, and hadn’t caught on yet.
Unlike my mother, I had to earn my current green thumb through trial and error. I killed more African Violets with kindness than I care to admit. But I was a whiz kid at philodendrons and spider plants, and I was determined to fill every sunlit corner of our home with living color. When silk plants made their début, I breathed a sigh of relief and dotted my interior spaces with no-brainer color.
My mother still held her own, bragging about her 10 year old violet, and a philodendron that was musically speaking: “15 going on 16.” She teased me about my menagerie of “fake,” and dubbed me the “flower” lady. But I wasn’t intimidated. I still held my own as the green queen with yards of olive green carpeting the floors, adorning the kitchen, and draped and hung over every inch of my avocado loving body.
In this blog I’m sharing a green, blue-green painting with you. The color green means perseverance, patience, growth and healing. Green is related to work, wealth, and career. In my opinion, green is nature at its best.
November 4th, 2010
I don’t know about you, but orange always makes me think of food; you know carrots, oranges, squash, and especially pumpkins in the Fall. Blue is the Complement of orange. Use blue in a room or as sky in a painting along with orange and both colors will pop; each adding zing to the other, bringing out the best in each color.
That pizzazz may be why orange is one of the friendliest colors on the palette. It’s made from two Primary colors: the sunshine color yellow, and the bold and daring red. Designated as a Secondary color because it doesn’t exist unless mixed, orange and everything it touches becomes outgoing, self-confident, competitive and successful. Wear it or use it and test the reaction. Flaunt it and see what happens! Orange is a real attention getter.
That’s why road work and construction signs, vests, hats, and gear are made in shouting orange. You can’t miss them! Orange is like a dose of caffeine – great in the office where you want to be productive or on playroom walls where energy and action are the order of the day. Bad on a bedroom wall unless you enjoy sleepless nights.
Orange is often called the “social” color because it encourages lively conversation and good times. Think of your last cookout, the smoldering orange embers, the fruit punch sunsets afterward. Orange is the color of life and vitality. Splashes of orange can brighten the world and provide a delicious visual twist in a painting.
October 23rd, 2010
Shadows – they follow you wherever you go. They reflect your size and shape, but they aren’t you. The sun and the ebbing twilight distort your shadow as the hours tick by. Indoors, shadows cast by a lamp or an overhead light are blurred by distance and movement.
In a painting, cast shadows are critical. They help define light source, the time of day, and the illusion of reality. In varying shades of gray, shadows enhance the colors they absorb and help to tell a story. The shapes and forms they create add interest and viability.
Without shadows in a painting there would be no folds in clothing, draperies, or hillsides. Faces would be flat and uninteresting. There would be no smile lines, form or depth; no indicators of age or character.
In life, we fear the unknown shadows and flee from the dark ones within that remind us of our failed humanity. Capture these craters of the soul and you have a novel or an artistic masterpiece. Shadows, after all, give us character and add the twists and turns of body and soul that bring out the best in us as we touch the hem of Heaven, or the worst in us as we sink to the depths of Hell.
An overweight relative lost a sizable amount of weight. When I saw her, I said: “You look like a shadow of your former self,” thinking I was paying her a compliment; but the next time I saw her, she had gained all the weight back.
Apparently, my comment brought out her feelings of insecurity, and she reverted back to her “former self.” Her weight defined the person she thought she was; the person she knew and felt comfortable with so she fled back into the shadows of her former weight where she felt safe and secure.
For better or worse, shadows reveal the truth in all of us and in art.
October 4th, 2010
I have some white knit Capri pants that I love. They have a pocket on one thigh for coins and they hug my hips snuggly making me feel sleek and thin under a Tee. So why can’t I find them? I search frantically through my drawers as the clock ticks incessantly. I’m running late and don’t need this added stress. And then it hits me! They’re in my closet bone yard; a cloth mound where all such clothing ends up eventually.
I remember donning them on the day of their death; I never meant to have a full paint session. I was only going to “fix” a spot on canvas with a ragged edge, a missing shadow, a flaw I’d seen after my last session. I only meant to dab a little paint here and a swipe there; but before I knew it, I was in full mode and totally unprepared wearing my favorite pristine pants.
There are other favorites in my plot of threads like a straight legged pair of Levi jeans that my sweetheart nicknamed “biker chic,” and a peach shirt with white stripes by Liz Claiborne that was purchased in the bargain rack especially for a peach skirt by the same name.
There are other things in my closet graveyard that I’m not so fond of: the shorts and tops I purchased because I couldn’t resist a bargain, and then find the flaws only after I get back home. The checkered shirt given to me by an ex-daughter-in-law where the checks never match up when you button the shirt. But hey, nobody’s perfect, especially me!
I was the kid in school with the scuffed shoes, and the ink on my arm or shirt because I doodled and daydreamed my way through high school. I was the uncoordinated, gangly teenager who “car hopped” or waitressed for extra money and sometimes spilled the goods on me while carrying a tray.
I was an accident waiting to happen; uncoordinated and lacking in grace, I stumbled through life. Even now I must wear a bib while eating spaghetti or look out! You know the expression: “She wears her heart on her sleeve?” Well, I wear my life on my chest; just ask my friends as I spit-wash the toothpaste from my shirt or a speck of make-up that’s spattered in embarrassing places.
And that brings me back to that paint spattered clothing on my closet floor: discarded like old remains, peeled off in layers like the skin of an onion; my own personal bone yard. I still pick through its remains (they bring back memories). I wear them when I paint (I’m recycling!). If my husband asks me about it, I say: “Hey, I’m saving the earth.”
October 4th, 2010
Last spring I featured some pictures in my blog of the Poinciana tree, a lovely import from the West Indies that produces brilliant red flowers each year. Today I’m sharing photos of the Golden rain tree, an elegant beauty that produces yellow cones of flowers in the fall, followed by salmon colored seed pods. Some of you may know it as the Chinese flame tree or varnish tree.
We can thank Thomas Jefferson for importing this tree from China in 1809 and Thomas Edison who introduced the Golden rain tree to Florida’s landscape at his Winter Estates.
The leaves of the Golden rain tree are beautiful in their own right, composed of small green protrusions on either side of a green stem (pinnately compound). Lacy in appearance, the leaves provide a fern-like backdrop for the blink-bright flower cones and the papery Chinese lantern pods that follow. Even though they are an eye-catcher, these trees are considered an “invasive exotic” because the seed pods can sprout and produce small trees faster than lightening, or at least faster than their deciduous neighbors.
Each fall, I look forward to seeing these trees go through their cycle of green, yellow, and salmon. While I was taking these photos, a great egret and a wood stork shared common space as they foraged together at a nearby pond. I may use these scenes in a watercolor painting.
September 27th, 2010
I love that Ford commercial where the masculine trucker, Mike, walks out and says: “People ask me, Mike, why Ford? Why Now?” In a last ditch effort to keep Ford afloat and truck buyers buying, Ford is still pitching woo in spite of a lagging economy and a less than stellar sales forecast. Do the words “bail out” have everything to do with it?
If we could only apply this principle to artwork, perhaps more artists would be successful. Why Art? Why Now? Let me summarize:
• From the first doodles on cave walls, humans have had a need to express themselves, to communicate, and to illustrate their world view; whether for future generations or for their own self gratification.
• Graffiti is just another form of cave writing for the urban generation trapped within cement walls yet eager to mark their territory and beautify their environment. Is it art? Unquestionably.
• From their early beginnings, people have yearned to interpret what they see and feel, and to get it down via brush strokes or pen scratching.
• Art defines life; it defines us.
• Art brings the outdoors inside. It captures our imagination and our inner longings.
• What else can art do? If nothing else, it can brighten up a corner, make a personal statement about us, and provide us with a sense of tranquility or comic relief.
• Art may become an investment, part of a collection or an heirloom over time that may enrich future generations.
Art is probably the last thing you buy when you’re financially hurting, and the first thing to go in a downturn or recession. Yet its value is intrinsic by nature and difficult to define. How do you measure serenity, cheer, contentment, curiosity or mental stimulation?
Art appeals to the best in us and sometimes to the worst. It captures our hopes, inspires our imagination, and challenges us to think, to dream, or to ponder the relevant, the absurd, and the profound. I don’t know about you, but my life would be bleak without the influence of art from the past and the present.
Consider a life without romance; a life without the dimension of color, nuances, changes and new perspectives. The spoken and written word reveals and enlightens, but the unspoken revelations on canvas speak volumes to the yearnings of the heart. They conjoin the very soul to participate in a silent celebration of life.
Today, please celebrate my ode to flower art. I love to exaggerate color and the twists and turns of petals and leaves. My flowers are not meant to be authentic representations of nature, but celebrations of them:
“Flash Dance” my orange hibiscus reminds me of pinwheels turning, burning in the sun the way their petals overlap. If you want to read more or see more, please go to Carol's blog at http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com/
September 24th, 2010
Fall has always been my favorite time of year: the turning of leaves, the delicious first bite of a Jonathan apple fresh-picked from an orchard. Cider newly made, corn shocks, hay rides, a pot of chili on frosty nights and toasty memories of bonfires, wiener roasts, and fun.
In Florida, except for the intense muggy heat of summer, it’s green and glorious year round. Without the changing seasons, it can also lead to monotony. In today’s blog, I celebrate fall, Oktoberfest, and new beginnings.
Several years ago, I was lucky enough to be in Germany during Oktoberfest. It was fabulous! I stayed in Rüdesheim, a quaint romantic town along the Rhine River. The entire city was bedecked in hanging baskets overflowing with bright red geraniums. The surrounding emerald hills were spattered with the reds and gold’s of autumn and made a colorful backdrop.
Beer halls were bursting at the seams with overly happy customers. Steins were clinking, foam was sloshing, and hearts and voices sang loudly with the “Oompa” bands which played both day and night. In honor of Oktoberfest, here is my 30 min. meal for “starving artists” and anyone else that hates to cook and doesn’t have the time or money.
For all of you who thought you knew what “Starving Artist” meant, I’ll give you another definition: “An artist who spends so much time painting he or she doesn’t have time to cook!” Unless, like me, you have a husband (or wife) who does the cooking so you don't have to.
Here is a “Starving Artist” recipe that is cheap, quick, and brainless.
1. In a large casserole dish, slice potatoes and onions to the three-fourths mark. Moisten with about ½ C. chicken stock.
2. Microwave for about 10 min. or until the potatoes are just tender.
3. Slice Kielbasa sausage rounds over the top. Microwave for another 10 min.
4. Cut a head of cabbage into wedges. Place wedges around the top of the dish and drizzle with butter. Cover and microwave another 10 min. or until the cabbage is just tender.*
*Another option is to use sauerkraut (I prefer Bavarian with caraway seeds) in place of the cabbage (or you can use both if there’s room).
All of these wonderful flavors blend and become a mouthwatering dish; a complete meal in one large casserole. Have a swig of beer and enjoy Oktoberfest!
September 11th, 2010
Hope is a bird flying on the upward thrust of a ball. Will the thud of pigskin on metal send the ball hurling outward in a disappointing loss? Will the ball circle the rim and teeter on the brink of success or failure? Or will there be the triumphant swoosh of a clear shot? All this the player can imagine as the ball is released into the unknown.
This is the third painting in my “With These Hands” series, titled “Hope.” The young basketball player is transfixed, and everyone’s eyes seem to galvanize on the moment. The clock is ticking, her team members play defense and wait. The fans cheer in anticipation. She’s focused. Half-whispered prayers rise upward moistening the eyes and the palms.
At that moment, the wheels of motion grind to a halt. In her mind’s eye, everything is happening in slow motion. In reality, she knows that decisions are made in a split second. She knows that accuracy is predetermined by hours of practice doing hoop shots in countless layups on court and at home pounding the driveway until bedtime. She’s ready. Will hope bring fulfillment?
A painting truly does have a life of its own. I felt the vibrancy of this young girl from the start. I wanted to breathe life into her and be the instrument in sharing her dreams and hopes with you. If you enjoyed this painting, I am pleased.
September 6th, 2010
I wanted to get this painting up and running on Friday, but it was more complicated than that. In the process of “catching up” after my vacation, I discovered some unresolved issues at my church where I’m a web master.
To make a long story short, I spent hours on the phone on two different days, only to discover a much needed program had expired. In the meantime, in my absence a logon password had been accidently corrupted, and we had to get a new one with resultant changes in our domain server.
Anyway, details aside, I refused to “rush the brush,” and so my blog is late. With all that’s on your agenda this weekend, perhaps you won’t mind.
When my mixed media painting was finished, I realized I had no shadows of the figures coming from the direction of my light source. I debated with myself over that for a long time. Did I really want to smear shadow over those wonderful checkerboard floors? But then again, it would provide me with a better spot for a visible signature.
This piece is the third mixed media painting in my “Roaring Twenties” series. I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have enjoyed painting them.
Getting back to acrylics and drawing was a refreshing change from my usual oil paintings. I had more freedom, I could experiment and I had a great time! It also worked well with my busy travel schedule over the past several weeks.
I have some exciting ventures coming up. In conjunction with Gateway Artists, I will begin displaying at Mervil Design Center in Naples starting in October. Mervil is a new art gallery marketing to the interior design trade, serving more than 300 affiliated design professionals. I will have three paintings on display every three months.
I also have membership with the Center for the Arts of Bonita Springs, and will begin a portrait refresher course in October under the tutelage of Richard Kirk artist and author of “Painting a Portrait.” Next week I’ll return to my “With These Hands” series and complete my oil painting of “Hope.”
Today’s mixed media painting is titled: “Shimmy-Shake.” You may also see it on Facebook at AnfinsenArt and on my blog at http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com
September 2nd, 2010
Paint pigments are of the earth making paint a living thing that can perform magic. The quality of any artwork is in direct relationship to the skill with which the artist applies the paint to canvas.
Imagination and style separate one artist from another. Mixed with an artist’s own unique experience and point of view, a message is created that breathes life into the finished work. This message is the artist’s own interpretation of what he or she sees, but there are other forces at work:
• Motivation. What motivates an artist to paint something in the first place? The answers are as varied as the artists themselves. It could be something as simple as a droplet of water on a leaf or the crinkles on a child’s nose to an emotional trauma, physical pain, or an arousal so deep it must be captured on paper or canvas.
• Composition. Coupled with interpretation, the center of interest or focus of any given artwork is not only a question of principles taught and used down through the ages, but what appeals to the artist’s own sensibilities, and how the artist portrays that vision on canvas.
• Choice. Not only choice of subject matter, but of equipment, color, and tools. Whether to use a palette knife vs. a brush; whether to go “mixed media,” oil, or watercolor and every other variation in between. And whether your vision or interpretation can best be captured through a painting, a sculpture or through apparel, textiles, or jewelry.
Because the act of creating artwork is a living, breathing thing, it is fluid; always changing and sometimes unpredictable. The drawing forms a map that guides the artist through a labyrinth of choices. But on the journey, the artist may find that the roadway is off and something needs to be added or changed.
The painting itself – that first brushstroke on canvas doesn’t cement the artist’s vision or choices. The paint as part of the earth it comes from may be pushed and pulled or covered up if necessary. It isn’t until the painting takes on a life of its own that the artist may step back and say: “It is finished.”
I hope you enjoyed my “work in progress.” Soon I’ll have the finished mixed media artwork ready for you.
August 20th, 2010
A recent trip to Minnesota, reminded me of the scenes that inspired my painting: “Americana.” Since I’m in between paintings, I thought you’d enjoy seeing the motivation behind the painting: a combination of nostalgia, history, and emerald green farmland that goes on forever.
The Holtz farm in Eagan, MN, represents all of that. The farm is maintained by the City of Eagan’s “Friends of the Farm” that includes people in Eagan and the surrounding areas. The summer gardens are planted and weeded by willing neighbors who reap the benefits of fresh produce in season.
In nearby neighborhoods, old fences laden with honeysuckle and morning glories are a common sight. Hollyhocks stand like welcoming soldiers on parade and provide a nice backdrop for the flowers. Cows and horses graze in long pasture grass and are mirrored in nearby duck ponds that in turn reflect Minnesota’s clear blue skies.
The song birds I enjoy seeing in Florida fly to Minnesota during the summer months so its “old home” week when we’re on vacation. The weather is a constant reminder that I’m not in Florida. One day it’s hot and muggy, and the next blowy and cool; even brisk. Minnesota’s weather is always in a constant state of flux.
When we’re in Minnesota, a trip to the Mall of America is a must. The three stories of unique and unusual stores keep us walking and shopping for hours. The Mall is a good place for family members with children to meet. The Nickelodeon Center with its myriad rides and roller coasters is a big hit. While the children are entertained, the adults can visit and catch up on family gossip.
The sight of a flock of Canadian geese is always a welcome sight. Although, in many quarters, the geese are viewed as a nuisance, they still remind me of home.
SEE the photos that inspired me on my blog at http://AnfinsenArt.com/
August 13th, 2010
Let’s face it; life isn’t always “peachy keen,” even though we’d like it to be. I didn’t get my second illustration finished, but I did get a drawing on the panel that is really “spiffy.” So if you’re not too “hotsy totsy,” you can take a peek.
You can compare it to the original below. In my opinion, it’s the “cat’s meow!” My own rendition will have a new twist when it’s finished. The song title: “Yes, Sir! That’s my Baby” is one of the most famous Tin Pan Alley songs by writer Walter Donaldson, the Dutch American composer and Gus Kahn, the Jewish American lyricist. The song was written at the height of the Charleston craze.
Speaking of the Charleston, here’s a YouTube link for a wonderful glimpse of that era:
To see the rest of the blog and the original music cover, go to http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com/
August 10th, 2010
I wasn’t around in the roaring twenties. I wasn’t even a gleam in my daddy’s eye. In fact, he was barely a glimmer himself. But I’ve always viewed the 1920s era as fun, lively, and provocative.
And then there’s the jazz—born out of sorrow, etched in the grips of pain, and lifted by hope. The music itself cuts right to the chase and pierces my heart to the core. Sensual, soothing, and awash with tales of grief and woe; the horns wail with sexual vibrato. Black and white keys are fingered first tentatively and then raucously like a kitten at play running, pawing, tickling the ivory and the ebony.
Listeners sway in the moonlight or play the sounds as background to intimate foreplay. Clarinets wrap around them like warm steam, soaking through their flimsy cover of inhibitions and prudish pride. Raw, earthy, and wonderful, the sounds are an integral part of our culture and American history, right up there with country music and bluegrass. In some quarters, you can hardly tell the difference.
To read more about my plans to do 1920s artwork and for links to jazz on YouTube and elsewhere go to my blog: http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com/
August 6th, 2010
I get that question a lot! The answer is "no;" but the truth is that my latent talent must have been simmering just below the surface.
Before I learned how to paint and draw (or should I say: before an art instructor taught me how to see?), I used my sewing machine to design wall hangings, pillows, and pictures. When you have a creative bent, it will always find a means of expression in one form or another. Without an outlet, frustration ensues.
Some people love to cook and entertain. Their food presentations rival that of any sculpture or work of art. Some people express themselves through writing, through dance, or through athletics.
There are many ways to express yourself and your feelings. Your individual reactions to the things around you shape your own personal perspective on life. Combine that with your own unique and varied experiences, and you have the basis for developing a personal style.
To read more or to see additional, fun "pink flamingo" art, go to: http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com/
August 3rd, 2010
The dictionary defines process: “as a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular result or end; the result of growth.” Sounds a lot like Life, doesn’t it?
My “in-progress” painting is also a process. First the pencil sketch on canvas, and then the acrylic drawing I showed earlier on my Blog. Today, I’m sharing the first applications of oil paint that further define the figures and the action. When my painting is finished, I want the center of interest (the girl holding the basketball) to literally “pop” off the page. I want her emotions, her thrust, her drive, her hopes captured for a nana-second in the mind of the viewer.
Before the painting is finished, I will have brushed on several layers of oil paint to refine the details and produce the needed “glow” that defines my style. This painting is the third painting in my “With These Hands” series. The title “Hope” says it all.
To see the preliminary drawings and acrylic base, please go to http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com/
August 1st, 2010
When Lightning Strikes--Look Out!
Florida is the lightning capitol of the world. Yes, really! Every year, lightning strikes and kills more than one unwary tourist who pooh poohs the seriousness of the threat. “Just one more shot,” they think as they swing their driver for the last time. Believe you me, when the golf siren sounds, you’d better run for cover.
They say lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place. Whoever “they” are is all wet. One man in Florida has been hit by lightning three times and lived to talk about it. We have our own sad tale to tell.
Over the last seven years, we’ve lost two TV sets and one computer to the unpredictable forces of lightning; even though our house is grounded, and we use surge protectors everywhere.
Take last night. There was not a cloud in the sky except off in the east. The sun was shining brightly, and only a few thunderheads rumbled in the distance. Then Zap! Our TV lost its signal. The static roar was deafening! This is our second TV to “bite the dust.”
I unplugged my NEW wireless computer, and hoped for the best. Two years ago, I wasn’t so lucky. My surge protector didn’t protect and my computer died, even though it was turned off. I replaced the hard drive through a friend only to replace it earlier this year.
To read more....Please go to my blog at: http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com/
July 26th, 2010
"Beach Buddies" the painting is finished. To refresh your memory, here are two “in progress” shots of the initial acrylic drawing and washes and the first oil paint application. Compare them to the finished painting above (on my blogspot blog).
The scene of the two boys brings back memories. We took our own children to the nearby lakes and beaches whenever we traveled. As a family, we waded, we swam, and we hunted for seashells.
My most favorite beach of all time; although, it may have been BC (before children), was La Jolla Beach north of San Diego. This beach had a great impact on my fantasy rendering of Beach Buddies
When we still had five children at home....(Story continues at http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com)
July 24th, 2010
When my dad came home after a long day at work, he sat in his favorite chair and devoured the comic books: “Bugs Bunny,” “Donald Duck,” “Daffy Duck,” “Alley Oop.” Dad was a welder and worked physically hard in addition to driving long distances to and from work each day.
I thought comic books were for kids, and I’m sure I smart-mouthed his actions. My mother in his defense said: “You should read more comics yourself; it might help your sense of humor.”
I considered both of my parents. . .Continue the ilustrated story on my regular blog: http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com/
July 5th, 2010
I grew up around farms like the one depicted in my 16x20 acrylic painting: “Americana.” Farms where chickens, hollyhocks and morning glories were allowed to run wild, and gates and front doors were left wide open to welcome neighbors and friends. America’s prairies were dotted with family farms like these, and with hard-working farmers bent on eking out a living and feeding America’s burgeoning population.
Today these farms have been replaced by co-ops and corporate farmers with vast wealth and acres of crops; mostly corn, wheat, sugar beets, sorghum, cotton and soybeans. Down home friendliness and hospitality have been replaced by electric fences or security guards.
“We’ve come a long way, baby, but where are we going? Foods from all around the world are on American tables. The few family hold-outs sell produce at local farmers markets and at roadside stalls.
If you’ve never tasted home-grown tomatoes, radishes and beans you’re missing out. The sweetness of sun-ripened fruits and vegetables is unequaled. If you want to see a miracle—plant a seed (or a seedling). Watch your seedling grow and ripen before your eyes. Pluck it at its peak of perfection. Sink your teeth into succulent heaven! Enjoy the fruits of your labor and the gifts of God. Experience pride and a sense of accomplishment; grow something beautiful or edible—yes, you can!
When or if financial hardship comes knocking, you’ll know how to take care of your own needs. You’ll be able to feed your family. You won’t have to depend on Uncle Sam or anyone else to put food on your table.
Now is the time to practice the art. Yes, growing healthy beautiful food is an art, and a skill we may all need to acquire if we’re going to survive the rough years ahead!
June 28th, 2010
Brown pelicans, once endangered, are now at risk again; this time from the BP oil spill. Like many of you, I am sickened by the photos coming out of the Gulf.
Pelicans also battle for survival with fishermen who call them “pesky” and compete with them for some of the same fish. Many of these anglers carelessly leave their fish lines behind tangled in the mangroves, estuaries and waterways where pelicans live and breed. Some of these birds succumb in a fatal death struggle to escape the lines wrapped around their wings and feet.
I have observed these fascinating birds; painted them and drawn them. They may be awkward on land, but their patterns in flight are elegant and graceful. Their feeding dives are ruthless and straightforward when they spot a mullet’s scales shimmering beneath the water’s surface.
Living near the coastal waters of Southern Florida, I not only worry about the pelicans, but the other wildlife that abounds here: sea turtles currently nesting on our beaches, herons, egrets, ibis, gulls, wading birds, dolphins, manatees, alligators, crocodiles and countless other seabirds and animals. I’m afraid the oil may reach our shores, and it could be deadly for them all, including the hundreds of brown pelicans that call these waters home.
Our fabulous seafood, harvested, caught, and eaten in our wonderful restaurants, our entire way of life will slowly and steadily come to a screeching halt if we don’t find a way to stop this man-made disaster. Yet, all it seems we can do is pray.
You may want to read my article: “Mangroves at Risk—an Oily Predicament”
By Carol Allen Anfinsen at http://Blogz.Org
June 22nd, 2010
I finished my "rooster" painting. The progress of this mixed media piece was tracked on my blog at http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com/ I used a photo I received from a friend for inspiration. Her daughter is a vetrenarian who has a pet rooster named: "Chicken Nuggets." He was so adorable, I had to paint him. This is not my usual style, but I had fun.
I first sketched what I wanted and then transferred it to a 14x18 canvas. The background and the drawing were done in acrylics. The sketch and the acrylic undercoat are shown on my blog. I finished off the rooster and bale of hay with oil paints. That layer added depth and made the colors pop. I am adding this painting to my gallery.
June 8th, 2010
The latest painting in my "With These Hands" series is still wet, so the shine created some white specks and glare where it shouldn't. I will take another photo before uploading it to my gallery. This 18x24 canvas is oil over acrylic, and will be titled: "With These Hands--Love."
I ran a contest on my blog at http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com/ and the winner became the model for this painting. Is it a perfect likeness? No. Did I capture the spirit of love between a daughter and her dad? I hope so.
Your comments or suggestions are always welcome; there is still time for a tweak here or a brush there. I tried to turn this into a "universal" painting rather than a portrait. I hope I've achieved this.
June 4th, 2010
This oil spill has all of us on the Gulf in a tizzy! We're hoping it won't reach our beaches, and we're praying for Louisiana and Pennsecola. The beautiful ocean and the beaches are the reasons we moved here, that and the weather. There's something so peaceful about azure blue water and the snowy white feathers of sea birds.
I saw a pelican on TV covered in oily slime and my heart went out to it. I think this may be a wake up call for America. We should be drilling in other places where the potential for disaster is much less. It's fine to say "go green," but what do we do in the meantime? And so we wait. May they find a way to stop this disaster before the mangroves and wetlands are completely destroyed.
May 27th, 2010
This is the second work in progress on my "With These Hands--Love" painting. Now I will begin layering and molding the lighter values and the details. The little girl needs some lighter values in her hair and some fine-tuning of detail. I will move to her hands next and complete them. Her dress will come after.
The daddy in the painting will require some skin tone lightening and highlights, but I don't want him to dominate the painting or take the focus away from the child. Little by little, the figures will come to life and the little girl's love for her daddy will dominate the scene.
As mentioned in an earlier blog, the prize winner of my contest will receive a free print of the completed painting; ordered and shipped through FAA. The runners up will each receive a free card of the completed painting; ordered and shipped via FAA. If you would like to see the entire sequence from start to finish, please go to my blog at http://anfinsenart.blogspot.com/
Your comments, questions and suggestions are always welcome.
May 27th, 2010
I ran a contest on my blog at http://anfinsenart.blogspot.com/ for a model in my "With These Hands" Series. I selected a winner and posted the photo on a previous blog at FAA. This is the first "work in progress."
I started the painting by using a process called "wipe out" to give the background some color and to block in the figures. After the "wipe out" process was completed and dry, I plotted in the details and painted a permanent drawing on the canvas. I like "wipe out" for solidifying form and composition. The process works best with a live model, but it also works on a photograph.
I will post the second work in progress 2 on the next blog.
May 27th, 2010
I decided to run a contest on my blog at http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com/ I was looking for a model for my next painting in the "With These Hands" Series. The photo on this page is the winner selected by me. She will receive a free print as a prize, prepared and mailed by FAA from this site. I have been showing a "Work in Progress" on my blog, and decided to share that with you here before the painting is completed.
There were two runners up who will receive a free card of the completed painting; prepared and mailed by FAA from this site. I may or may not use their photos as subject matter for the third in the series.
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
May 10th, 2010
I sold a card of this painting last month, and a print yesterday! It's my turn to do the happy dance! This young cowgirl is the first in a series of childrens paintings I call "With These Hands." I dubbed her "Wonder."
I ran a contest on my blog at http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com/ and have models for the next two in the series. I love to paint people, animals and birds over landscapes; that's where my passion is, I guess.
FYI to all new artists. I was a member of FAA for seven months before I made my first sale.
May 9th, 2010
I had to try the new technology! How great is this?
May 8th, 2010
I'm not a fan of art shows.
• They're hard work.
• They take lots of muscle.
• They require lugging heavy paintings and supplies long distances over bumpy terrain and several trips in the process.
• The weather is unpredictable.
At one show, a violent storm blew up, whipping our tents and frames into a frenzy. We grabbed our paintings and ran for cover as the rain drenched us. Our outdoor venue turned into an indoor one. We greeted our guests with hair plastered to our heads, and water dripping from our soggy clothes.
At an outdoor mall show, a gust of wind whirled through the plaza knocking over a large framed piece of mine that hit the pavement and cracked an expensive frame. But there are trade-offs; like the comradery of like-minded artists who share their dreams and their love for creating things of beauty. And there are the people who show up to admire our work and give us incentive to continue.
But as every artist knows: "It's not about the money." If it were, we'd all be rich!
April 28th, 2010
A not-so-great photo of me--my apologies! This is me at my current event: Gateway Country Club through the month of May. The one good thing is they're having an open house and big BBQ shebang this weekend, so even though it's not "season," and many of the snowbirds have gone home, there will still be traffic.
Our league took down our paintings from the building downtown; only three sales thus far for three months of exposure. A bleak sales picture. I've thought about that a lot. We were downtown, waiting for "lookers" to come to us. In my current venue, I am literally taking my wares to the customer; hence, my title: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Maybe that's the secret to success!
I no sooner got my display set up, than I had some admirers. One especially interested party, picked up a bio and a business card. A league member who displayed in April seems to have a strong lead for murals. A gentleman who has a bare-walled home he just purchased, and he wants to spruce it up. I'll keep you posted on the results of our display at Gateway over the next few months.
April 23rd, 2010
My husband's neice is an art therapist at Belview Hospital in New York. Troubled individuals in her care find release for their feelings in non-verbal ways. They use paints and brushes to express what words can never say. Art provides a voice for their pain and a tool for their healing.
Psychologists have used this same technique in helping abused children find a voice. Children don't always understand what is happening to them, nor do they have the words to express such trauma. But they are familiar with crayons and paper. As they illustrate a memory and make it real, they put to rest the frightening images and nightmares that wake them up at night.
Writing this blog made me think of Van Gogh, an artistic genius with a nervous temperament and a deep emotional personality. His one desire was to make people happy by creating something of beauty. But he suffered from bouts of insecurity and self doubt. He also had what many believe to be epilepsy.
When his friend and fellow artist Gauguin came to live with him, Van Gogh took a razor to him in an epileptic fit and ended up cutting off his own ear. After that incident, Van Gogh spent some time in an asylum and was later released. After only two months, he shot himself "for the good of all."
His greatest and most inspiring works were produced in less than three years of his life. He was driven by a passion for the beauty he saw all around him. The vibrant colors, the textures and the energy were excruciatingly moving to him.
I remember admiring a resplendent sunset one evening. What I experienced was so deeply felt that I literally felt pain. I could not find the words to express the beauty I saw. Those are the times I am grateful to be an artist.
A skilled artist can pull you into a work of art and their message reverberates within even though we don't understand the why or the how. Art is good therapy for both the artist and the viewer.
April 14th, 2010
There is definitely a curve in learning how to draw and paint well. Not only is practice involved, but learning from professionals who have been there--done that. I want to thank my first art teacher (I've forgotten her name). A professional art educator and artist in her own right. She taught classes in her basement each week, and I was an avid student.
She taught me how to see, especially how to focus on shape and form, and the tricky details of foreshortening. She taught me how to prep a canvas, and how to plan a composition and paint it in oils. Everything I learned from her became the basis from which I work even today.
I also learned through classes at junior and technical colleges. I discovered my favorite medium was brush and ink. I liked the stunning effect of black on white (or sepia). I won my first art contest with a linear drawing of a nude. I started the painting at the top of the figure and continued my stroke until the ink was dry. A first prize ribbon graced my efforts in the art show.
I learned how important live models are to the drawing experience. The freedom I felt in those classes gave me a new life and a purpose. Overwhelmed by personal problems in those days, I literally found an escape hatch. When I was painting and drawing, nothing else mattered. I was lost in a world of my own making. I felt in control of my circumstances and my art.
Sometimes I struggle with writer's or artist's block. I freeze up. I lose my self confidence. I become analytical and critical of both my skill and my execution. At those times, I try to get back to the freedom I felt as a student when it was all about "discovery" and learning. I didn't worry about whether something was good or bad or whether it was in correct form or perspective. I just let my imagination fly and my spirits soar.
There is a learning curve in doing anything correctly., but there's also a choice. Plug along methodically and practice your art as a pianist does his scales by rote, or enjoy the ride: experiment, play, enjoy the freedom, savor the moment.
My oil on acrylic painting "Flash Dance" was an experimental painting. I let myself go. The colors are wild, the leaves and petals have a somewhat fanciful feel. I wanted the flowers to literally dance before your eyes like pinwheels.
April 8th, 2010
I will be displaying a few of my paintings at the Gateway Golf and Country Club during the month of May. The display is in their lobby and space is limited, but the exposure is good. Most Snowbirds will be gone by then, but it's better than nothing.
I would also like to invite you to my regular blog at http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com Become a fan! Follow me. Drop by and leave a comment. Thanks to all!
March 28th, 2010
In the real world, stress is real. We battle traffic. We quarrel with a spouse or a teenager. We juggle schedules. We face deadlines, and we fight our own demons all at the same time. How do you keep all the balls in the air without losing your grip? How do you keep "The House that Jack Built" from tumbling down?
If I had "the" answer, we'd all be cured. The fact is that none of these outside forces are ever going to change. The only permanent change comes from within. For believers, faith in God gives them the determination and the strength to carry on. For some people, physical activity helps them let off steam. For others, various relaxation techniques can take the edge off.
As a child, I had my own special escape plan; a world of my own created in a wooded area not far from my house. I lived in Bremerton, Washington where the Hemlock and Cedar trees climbed like "Jack's Beanstalk" far into the heavens. My friends and I made our own "hide-out" hidden within the bushy undergrowth. We used leftover linoleum slabs for the floor and the rest was left to our imaginations.
In my mind, this glorious quiet place was a wondrous castle where anything was possible. I became brave and daring within its walls. I had super powers and super human strength. The older kids dared me to jump on the thick rope swing and sail across the deep gully to the other side. I sat on the twisted knot as they pulled the rope back, and back, and back again.
When they let go, I sailed into space. I was conquering new worlds on the brink of discovery. The wind whistled in my ears. The gully beneath was dark and forbidding, but I was unafraid. Clutching the rope, I felt an incredible sense of freedom. My mother came in time to see me leave the safety of the ledge. Her shouts and her fears diminished my fun, but the thrill lingered on long after I'd had my bottom spanked for taking such a risk.
What can I say? I've always been a risk taker. When fears engulf me, I return to that special place where I experienced freedom and clarity. I take myself there when I'm stuck in a rut or I need a kick in the pants to get creating again. Too much stress is a bad thing, but just enough keeps me on the edge of creating something wonderful!
March 24th, 2010
If you're a creative person, it's inevitable that at some point in your career (or hobby) you're going to bump up against a blank wall. The feeling can be frightening, even devastating, but it doesn't have to keep you down.
Over the years I've discovered a few things that may trigger these events. I'll share some of my thoughts with you, knowing that your trigger's may also be different from mine. For whatever it's worth, here are my top four:
1. Fatigue and lack of sleep. I know, it sounds simplistic, but you can't create in a sleepless fog. When your tail is draggin' so is your mind. Your perspective gets out of whack, and life seems sadder, badder, and meaner. When you wake up refreshed, you're ready to tackle almost anything. Get your Zzzzzs.
2. Depression. This is a real deep-down feeling of helplessness and worthlessness. This baby will pull you into a downward spiral that has no end. Mild depression is a part of life's ups and downs, but clinical depression can drag you into a dark abyss where life has no meaning. Get help! If the cause is a bad marriage or an abusive relationship, get out!
3. Low self-esteem. A few negative words or harsh criticism can throw you for a loop. We can say "sticks and stones," and believe that words can never hurt us, but they do. Bullies can knock the wind out of your creative sails. Personal failure can push you flat on your back. The only answer is to grab hold of a power bigger than yourself and get up again. Quit worrying about what other people think. Your opinion of yourself is the only one that matters.
4. Lack of exposure. Sometimes we need to shake things up a little. Get out and experience life. Change the scene. Surprise yourself -- do something new. Try something you've never done before. I'm not suggesting going overboard and getting yourself into trouble. I'm only saying get out of the house. Go somewhere different. Try to see the world with a new perspective. Get some fresh air!
I remember my first art show after letting my skills and brushes lie dormant for many years. I was terrified. How would people react to my artwork? How would they view my lame attempts to restore those lost years when my own self-esteem was dragging?
I muttered a prayer, something like "Oh, Lord what am I doing? What if I look like a fool?" A warm feeling and an encouraging thought came to me: "Give it a try--you might be surprised."
On that simple note, I displayed my paintings. I know some of them were pretty awful, but not all. Two women, I swear they were angels in disguise, bought one of my paintings right off. That sale gave me the confidence and the courage I needed to keep on keeping on.
And there you have it! My secret formulae for getting out of a "funk." Next time you can't think and your mind's a blank, start writing, start painting anyway; anything--anything at all. Pretty soon the blood will get moving and you'll push right past that blank wall. Of course, a little prayer never hurts!
March 20th, 2010
March 15th, 2010
Artists and writers are complicated people, albeit strange. They see and hear things that others sometimes miss; hence they enlighten and uplift society in countless ways.
Being both a writer and an artist makes me a little weird, I guess. I can see the darn'dest things from almost nothing. Take this morning. I was thinking while staring at a shag carpet, and bingo--the head of a fox emerged through the shag; the loops turned into wildflowers. A fox sniffing flowers--now that would make a great illustration!
When my tile floor gets all smudgie, reminding me it's time to mop, I see all kinds of freakish characters, both man and beast. I tell myself I'm going to draw these elusive characters before they melt away, but I never do. Some of these figures are nothing more than illusion. If you take your eyes off of them for a second, they vanish or are replaced by other shadowy characters.
If this makes you nervous, don't worry; When the imaginary critters start talking to me, I'll let you know. Until then, what I've described is a perfectly normal occurrence in creative minds. It's also a result of changing light patterns and shifting shadows.
Cloud formations are another means of creation. I can see things that most people ignore. And yes, as a child I spent hours looking for dragons and sea monsters in the billowing sky above me.
A towering pine tree in my front yard also caught my attention. The branches spread out over a sea of dead grass I wondered who might inhabit its dark recesses. How did they live? What did they look like, and especially, were they evil or friendly?
The cartoon illustrations on my web site are a good example of my most recent "flights of fancy."
March 12th, 2010
People don't normally name the birds and animals they encounter, but after watching one ibis for over six years, I simply had to. Inez was the name that I gave her. What was it that made her stand out? First of all, she had a bad limp that made it difficult for her to keep up with the other ibis as they foraged for food. And secondly, she came back to our neighborhood again and again, to the same side street, and has for over six years. We're practically family.
Today she had two young ibis with her, sporting the brown feathers of youth. Her second family, although I suspect there may have been a third. I was happy to see them. They weren't as happy to see me as they are skittish around humans. When I don't see Inez for a long time, I worry. She is usually gone when mating and nesting, but always returns.
One day I was out walking and spied the remains of an ibis. Nothing but a ball of tail feathers, a beak and the legs and feet. I was beside myself, thinking it must have been Inez for she doesn't move as quickly as the others. Today we saw a hawk devouring a white feathered bird in the field and I worried. There were snowy egrets flying about, it could have been one of those, or it could have been a cattle egret. There are many in the field where the cattle graze. When I saw Inez and her chicks, I was overjoyed.
Inez is a courageous ibis. She has regained her wing strength and flies as well as the others now, but the limp remains. I admire her for keeping on in the face of a crippling disability. It makes me think about the countless children in our world who suffer in the same way. That was my motivation for writing: "Inez Ibis Flies Again, The Story of a Courageous Ibis Who Never Gave Up."
If you know a child who needs encouragement and the will to "keep on keeping on," please take a look at my picture book. Samples are available at both of these web sites. Celebrate E-Book Week!
Hard Copy www.blurb.com%252Fbookstore
March 6th, 2010
Here are some shots of the gallery where our art league has paintings on display from February through March. The glare of the windows made it difficult to get a good picture, but you get the idea. Several paintings have been sold from this location. A 15 year old artist who won a U.S. stamp wildlife competition sold his duck painting, and we were cheering him on. He started taking lessons when he was only eleven. It's never too early, never too late!
My newest painting from my "With These Hands" series titled: "Wonder" will be displayed through the month of March. It is now posted on my FAA gallery as well. We all have had a great time and made many new friends. If you're in Fort Myers, check us out at the building on the corner of Hendry and Ponce de' Leon Plaza.
February 26th, 2010
I'm usually reluctant to show an unfinished painting, but in this case I wanted to introduce a new series of paintings I'm planning. The photo is the first in the series titled "With these Hands -- Wonder." As I've told you in my blog, I paint in my utility room on top of my appliances. The painting is a 24x18 canvas so I prop it over the back of the washer and use it as an easel.
Because of this, the photograph is off kilter and the lights glare, but you can get an idea of what I have in mind. The hair is noticeably missing or faded because I lost it while putting shadows on the face and neck. The cowboy hat is complete, more or less, and so is the face. I am finishing the hair in this session and will complete the hands and several other details. My loyal photographer (my husband) had another engagement, so these still photos are all that I could manage.
Other paintings in the series will include "With These Hands -- Comfort," and "With these Hands -- Working," at least I think so at this point in time. Your ideas would be welcome. I have always been fascinated by people's faces and especially their hands and how they use them to work, to play, to create, to explore. My series of paintings will be a tribute to the positive ways people's hands are used to make the world a better place. Since I love the innocence and beauty of children, this little cowgirl became the first in the series.
I will keep you posted on my progress and share with you my "Wonder" painting when it is completed.
February 19th, 2010
He was pink, blind and featherless when I saw him lying in the bright spring grass. His three-inch body brought back a rush of memories, and I was eight years old again, looking down on another fragile newborn.
The bird had fallen so far from the nest that I convinced myself its mother would never miss him. With a modicum of shame, I scooped the tiny body into my cupped hands. I would nurse him back to health and become his protector. In turn, he would be my friend, my pet. He could perch on my finger, and I would teach him how to do tricks. He could sing for his supper. Surely mother would let me keep him.
She shook her head when she saw him, a bad omen; but I grew hopeful when she gave me an empty matchbox. I stuffed the box with tissue and laid the bird gently on the soft white sheets. His head wobbled back and forth as he struggled to get up. His dark swollen eyes were sealed shut; the hungry beak outstretched in a perpetual state of readiness.
Mother went for the “crumb jar;” the kind you fill with leftover toast or stale bread until there are enough pieces for meatloaf or crumbs on a casserole. We moistened a small chunk of bread in warm milk, and I dropped soggy snippets into the bird’s open mouth while mother left to prepare dinner.
My clumsy attempts at feeding lasted until the tantalizing smells from the kitchen and the clatter of dishes drew me away. It was nearly bedtime before I remembered my newfound friend.
Skipping to the back porch, I half expected birdsong in greeting. Instead, I slammed into a solid wall of silence. I couldn’t breathe as I peered into the matchbox. The bird’s too-large head lay at an odd angle against the white tissue, his pale colored beak open -- unmoving. The bread I had pushed down its throat earlier was lodged like a gummy wad of dough. I yelled for mother.
She came quickly with tweezers in hand. “He’s too weak to swallow,” she said, making one final attempt to remove the dough from the tiny gullet. “He’s not breathing.” And then seeing my tears, she added, “It’s not your fault. He’s too young, that’s all. His eyes aren’t open. He has no feathers.” In spite of her words, I cried. Sad lesson learned -- end of story, or was it?
Returning to the present and my adult moorings, I studied the baby bird at my feet. If I left him here, a neighbor’s cat or a hungry hawk would devour him. Worse yet, a bicyclist could crush him unawares.
Impulsively, I scooped the tiny bird into my hands. I would give him a second chance and perhaps redeem my childhood guilt in the process.
February 15th, 2010
When I was a child, I loved cats. In good weather, I brought home every stray cat within walking distance. My mother was patient and supportive. She placed a litter box in a recessed nook on one side of our big kitchen and indulged my love for cats, at least for awhile. The only rule was: one cat at a time.
I enjoyed cat ownership. I dressed each furry friend in my doll's clothes and pushed it around in my doll buggy. The strays were so hungry for attention and fondling that they never complained, even when made to wear a bonnet tied under the chin.
I lavished each cat with affection, but there was something abhorent about having a litter box in the kitchen. While I was eating my breakfast, the cat was always doing its business in the litter box. Maybe that's why every winter, without fail, the "cat-in-residence” managed to disappear. Mother would claim it wandered off or got lost, but I began to suspect that each cat I brought home was never going to stay for long.
I can't really blame my mother. We lived in a small upstairs apartment with no utility room and a teeny-tiny bathroom that caused grownups to lean inward with the eaves. The kitchen was the only room wide enough to accommodate the "box;" a name my mother said with disdain.
When I grew up and had a home of my own, a cat was given to our oldest son as first prize in a soap box derby for Cub Scouts. It was a wild little thing that scaled my draperies like Mt. Everest, leaving a trail of claw tracks and snags in his wake. He clawed his way up my sofas, my chairs, my bedspreads, and, as a last straw, up the kid's arms and legs. The product of a feral cat's litter we wondered? We never knew for sure. We returned our wild kitty back to the giver of the gift (adequate punishment, don't you agree?).
After that we became dog owners. As the children grew up, we enjoyed several canine lifetimes. It was while we owned a white and tan shih tzu named Pooky that a beautiful black cat with white sox came to live with us. My daughter dubbed him Demetrius.
We had no sooner gotten attached to him when we discovered that her younger brother was terribly allergic to cats. Deme's fur caused our son's skin to break out in a bright red patches, followed by bouts of hay fever and asthma. Needless to say, the cat had to go.
I cried like a baby when he left., but I didn't miss those patty-paw footprints all over my kitchen counter tops; a habit I was never able to break him of, even when I sprayed him with water.
Today I admire cats from afar. They're beautiful, they're soft, they're cuddly, and they belong to someone else. A friend's cat brought her a gift in my presence: a tiny gray mouse that he laid at her feet. As I watched the blood trickle out on the floor, I remembered those unsanitary patty-paws on my kitchen cupboards. I determined then and there that I was a dog person, after all, and I've been one ever since. I don't mean to be catty, but...
February 12th, 2010
Valentine's Day is upon us. T.V. ads bombard us with ideas for gifts of love and the way love should be rewarded; schemes are rampant, manipulation games are playing, and the "fix is in." Okay, so I'm being cynical. But are gifts of love important? Are declarations of love meaningful? Do actions really speak louder than words?
When I was an optimistic young wife, I tucked small notes of love into my husband's lunch box. I wanted to brighten his day, and let him know that I loved and appreciated him. Sometimes I taped small notes of gratitude to his shaving mirror, hoping to boost his spirits before he went off to work for the day.
He never acknowledged them. To this day, I don't know if he appreciated my love notes or, if in his mind, they were foolish drivel. Once I asked him if he got them. He didn't respond. A few weeks later, I asked him again. Still no answer. When I asked him again a few weeks later, he responded angrily: "Yes, I got them -- what do you want me to say?"
So much for romance. Needless to say, I stopped writing notes. These non-interactions formed the basis for our "non-communication" style which escalated into rounds of verbal abuse and silent treatments throughout our marriage. Each day climaxed painfully with him turning his backside to me without a kiss or a "goodnight" before going to sleep. It's no wonder that eventually our marriage crumbled.
Are love notes important? Are expressions and actions of love important? You'd better believe it!
The Bible tells us that we love God "because he first loved us," and gave himself for us (died for our sins) so that we could return to our heavenly home. The first and greatest commandment in the Bible is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength," and to "Love your neighbor as you love yourself," on this commandment hangs all the laws and the prophets. In other words, this command trumps all others.
The Bible itself is full of "love notes" from God. Like a loving parent, these loves notes (Espistles) teach us, warn us, and express God's love for us his children. Prayers are our love notes to God, expressing praise, thanksgiving and need. "God is Love," and love is an eternal principle.
Love is meant to last. But like an unwatered garden, love shrivels and dies without cultivation, tenderness, and care. So is Valentine's Day important or is it just "foolish drivel?" You decide.
February 8th, 2010
Proud of our paintings that were hanging in the windows of the Harlowe Gallery, the members of Gateway Artists were saddened when they got rained out on Fort Myers weekly Art Walk. On Saturday, with a break in the weather, we headed for Ponce d'Leon Plaza with our prints, cards, and small paintings. The rain was gone, the sun was trying to shine, and we were positive.
Unfortunately, the wind a mighty enemy still, swept down the plaza turning the alleyway into a shrieking wind tunnel. We shivered, we held down our wares and tried to smile at artgoers who were more interested in finding a safe haven from the wind than looking at art.
This is the way of artists. You work hard. You gather your best efforts together hoping for some recognition or a sale, and you mostly return home with neither. If you're lucky, sometimes a referral is made. Sometimes a painting is filed away in someone's mind or they pick up a business card and later remember, but this is an uncommon occurrence.
As for myself, most of my sales have come via commissioned artwork or by word of mouth when someone likes my work. Why do I persist? Why does any artist keep going? Because to stop would be to stop breathing or living. The need to express the passion you feel about life and the beauty around you is life itself to the artist. The same holds true for a writer. You can stop for awhile. You can put your passions, your thoughts, your ideas aside for a time. But do it long enough, and these emotions come bubbling to the surface either in anger, desperation, or depression.
Art is its own reward. You feel satisfaction and accomplishment when a work of art is completed. If others enjoy your work that's a bonus. If you make a living at it, you've arrived! It is the same satisfaction I get from writing my blogs. I've only been at this for a few months, and I don't know how many people are stopping by, but I do enjoy reaching out and sharing my thoughts and my artwork with you.
So if you ask me if I'll do another artshow or write another blog, the answer is a resounding yes, because I must. If you're a writer or an artist you'll understand.
February 1st, 2010
While the rest of the nation hunkers down for more blizzards and freezing rain, those of us in Florida are content with a few extra blankets on the bed or a warmer jacket when we go outside. Fifty degree weather feels pretty cold to those of us who live here year round. Try enduring the 95+ heat in summer with 80%+ humidity, and you'll know what I mean.
This is the time of year when the cyprus trees turn brown and shed their feathery green leaves. And except for the golf courses and watered lawns, the grass turns into dry stubble and the fire danger rises. By mid March the smell of smoke and the blinding haze on the highway makes us wish for those muggy days of summer when the rain blesses us with a daily drenching.
My first year here, I was amazed to see the live oak trees shed their leaves and be replaced with bright green foliage within a matter of days. There are no Fall leaves to speak of, no diamond studded hoarfrost to adorn the trees or dust the ground. And snowmen? "Forget about it;" except for the blow-up kind that smile like foreigners on decorated lawns at Christmas time.
But as with all good things -- there are trade-offs. My husband and I joke around and call Florida "paradise," and 9 months out of the year it is. Floridians are spoiled by almost perfect temperatures and mild conditions, but the three slightly imperfect months can ruin it for some of people, and mar Florida's wonderful reputation for others.
When three hurricanes ripped through Florida a few years ago and two of them doubled back on us, many scrambled for northern points, never to return again. We weathered the storms; glad to be alive when they were over. The extent of the damage was a few uprooted trees for us, for other people, roofs were blown off, houses were destroyed, and hope was lost when insurance companies played a game of semantics and refused to pay for water damage and the resultant mold.
My favorite squirrels that nested in our cabbage palm for three years and produced nine babies in the process lost their home. Our faith in God was tested. Our love for each other was strengthened. Frankly, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. What can I say -- there are trade-offs!
January 23rd, 2010
It's easy to start something new; a relationship, a romance, a life, a story, a painting. It's not so easy to finish. My computer is filled with half finished stories. My closet shelves are overflowing with supplies and half finished projects that died from lack of desire or the will to complete them.
Trying to succeed in the middle of real life living is not easy. The hard work of doing -- of sticking with something to the bitter end is difficult when the motivation and passion get sucked right out of you by stress or lack of money. Beginning is always easy. Starting over is hard. Finishing is even harder, but there's nothing like it.
Finishing a project, a painting or a story brings with it a great sense of accomplilshment, pride and satisfaction. sort of like the delicious feeling of finishing a dream in the quiet realm of half sleep before waking up, when the power to change the ending is still in your hands.
Please view my "finished" book at www.blurb.com%252Fbookstore
or my e-book at http://smashwords.com/b/8340
January 23rd, 2010
I don't know which is more fun, the excitement of making plans or the actual participation in an art show event. Our art league is abuzz with plans ranging from serving cocktails or margaritas to what we should wear as we scramble to put the finishing touches on paintings that will vie for people's attention and pocketbooks.
Trying to start a new league in a new location has been difficult. The turnover in artists has been significant. At last, we have enough cohesive members for the quantity and the quality necessary for an impressive show. Downtown Fort Myers will be awash in artists from all over the world, but we will blend in with the best of them and share our talents and our hearts with the community.
Please join us at Ponce d'Leon Plaza and Hendry (near Centennial Park) for Art Walk, February 5-6, and every Friday and Saturday throughout the month of February.
January 20th, 2010
I moved to Florida to avoid cold weather as did many others. A few nights ago we had the coldest night on record, and our power was out for almost four hours. This would have been a piece of cake when we lived up north; but now that our blood has thinned, we felt that cold like a knife.
Sitting by candlelight wrapped in blankets does have its advantages. If nothing else, it helps put your life into perspective. You think about and pray for those who are less fortunate, for those who experience cold and hunger on a regular basis; and then gratitude sets in to warm your heart like a furnace.
Let's face it, life is hard; some of the time if we're lucky, and most of the time if we're not. The one thing we can change is how we perceive it. When we try to face our problems head on, and tackle them all at once, they can overwhelm us. They can beat us down in a minute. But if we tackle "one crises" at a time, we eventually "see the light at the end of the tunnel."
The first house I owned after I left home had a cement floor with tile on top. In the winter that floor was freezing cold. The kitchen and hallway had black and white squares that were so yellowed with age and wax build up I was afraid we'd have to tear it up. Instead, I decided to scrape the yellowed wax off which turned out to be a daunting task.
I used a razor blade, and hand scraped each tile in the 12 x 16 kitchen and extended hallway. Overwhelmed can't describe how I felt. I decided not to worry about how long it took or when it might be finished, and focus on the task at hand. I set a goal of scraping four tiles a day -- that was about one square foot. On good days, I tackled more. Using that simple formula, I completed the kitchen and hallway in just a few months.
That lesson has always stayed with me. When you tackle one crises at a time and you focus on a goal, a blank canvas doesn't seem so daunting. A child's wedding or a community program for which you are responsible doesn't have to overwhelm you. One day, one hour, one moment, one piece, one square or four; the work gets done, not just talked about, and a nasty habit or addiction can be overcome.
Find out how the real Inez Ibis (photo above) overcame her difficulties at http://smashwords.com/b/8340 or www.blurb.com%252Fbookstore
January 18th, 2010
Nature is a good teacher. When a spider's web is torn down either through weather or malicious intent, it rebuilds. When an ant hill is crushed or flooded by rain, the ants work together to rebuild it, grain by grain, lifting more than twenty times their weight in the effort. Even after devastation by forest fire, nature starts over. Nature begins again.
Why do we humans expect any less? Of course tragedies happen, homes get destroyed, marriages crumble, but we are resilient; and like nature's creatures, we can start again.
Perhaps it's complacency on our part that lulls into thinking nothing bad can or should ever happen to us. Perhaps it's thinking that we know it all, and that we deserve much more than we get that hinders our ability to plod along without complaint when the going gets tough.
My life changed drastically many years ago. I was floundering in a sea of contradiction and emotional confusion. If there was a way to rebuild the shambles of my life, I couldn't see it. Outwardly I kept things together, but inwardly I was drowning and gasping for relief.
And then it rained. It didn't just rain, it poured. The downpour flooded our lawn and filled the window wells. Our basement had recently been renovated and repaired so we were safe from ground leaks, but the basement windows were another matter. We scrambled outside and began bailing water from each and every window. Through the glass, our newly laid carpet seemed to mock our efforts.
Drenched to the bone, heaving bucket loads of water out as fast as it came in, I was energized. I gave the crises every ounce of physical strength I could muster. At last I was dealing with an enemy I could see -- the rain, and I was fighting back. Even though it turned out to be a losing battle, I was exhilerated.
The carpet was lost, at least a major portion of it. And we had a major lawn excavation ahead of us, but I felt whole. If I could fight this battle and remain standing, then I could fight the unseen battles within. Like nature, I would stand my ground and begin again.
January 14th, 2010
Announcing a NEW Ebook and childrens picture book titled: "Inez Ibis Flies Again," the story of a courageous ibis who never gave up.
COPY THE LINKS AND PASTE INTO YOUR BROWSER:
Samples of pictures are in my artgallery -- galleries tab under "Illustrations."
January 14th, 2010
A white Ibis with a crippled right leg lives in our neighborhood. She hops about on her good leg and drags her useless limb behind her. Like all Ibis, she pokes at the ground with her long curved bill foraging for food. Her bill is extremely sensitive to movement as she zeroes in on snails, lizards, crayfish and frogs.
Sometimes a flock of Ibis join her and they move from one lawn to another. She struggles to keep up. She watches the other ibis fearlessly cross the street while she waits, unsure. She seems on the brink of crossing. She hops out a few inches, hesitates, but then returns to the safety of the grass. I suspect an inconsiderate motorist is the reason for her fear and for the crippled leg.
One day I saw her fly away with a colony of Ibis. I couldn’t see her among the flutter of wings. Up there, she soared like any other ibis – glistening white against a cloudless blue sky. I thought I’d never see her again, but in a few days she came back.
For almost six years she has returned to the same place by the side street. Perhaps she comes to mourn the loss of a mate since ibis are sometimes monogamous, or perhaps to mourn the loss of her leg. I worry about her. I wonder about her pain. Could I catch her? Could I help her? Could the leg be repaired?
My concern turns to relief when I see her foraging with another Ibis that has stayed behind. They move as one over the grass. When her newfound friend flies to a nearby pond, she joins him, flying with grace and precision. Together they probe the muddy bank with their long red bills searching for food.
Watching them together, I feel relief. Perhaps she has found her prince charming -- the one who accepts and overlooks flaws. Perhaps they will mate and produce perfect young; sharing parenting responsibilities together, her small imperfection only an inconvenience in the greater scheme of life.
For a picture of the “real Inez,” and a picture book titled: “Inez Ibis Flies Again©, the story of a courageous ibis who never gave up;” go to these links:
Hard copy www.blurb.com%252Fbookstore
SAMPLES OF PICTURES ARE IN MY "ILLUSTRATIONS" GALLERY.
January 7th, 2010
A question I'm often asked is "where do you get your Ideas?" Mine come from many places, but most come from inside my mind and heart when inspired by a "trigger:" a response to someone, somewhere, or something (an object, surroundings, a memory).
To put it another way, ideas can come from anything, anytime, anywhere. The secret is awareness. I try to be on the lookout always for something that will click inside my head or my heart that has substance and the potential for growth. A springboard, if you will.
My best ideas come when my hands are busy and my mind is left to wander. I try to keep a notebook in my purse, in my car, in my bedside table so I can jot down those fleeting ideas before they "get away." When people still ironed clothes, my best ideas came while pushing out wrinkles; a snippet of dialogue, a visual, a conflict. My family worried that I was in a stupor or disconnected from them, but I was really in the realm of imagination solving problems, creating dialogue, visualizing scenes for the corporations and photographers I worked with
I know that If you sit and wait for big ideas to come to you, they won't. Go after them by living your life, keeping busy, and staying alert. If you go on "auto pilot" for awhile, and people think you're crazy, tell them you're out chasing rainbows or that next big idea.
January 5th, 2010
It happens every New Year. When the celebrating is over, discouragement sets in. A look back reminds me of how many goals were unmet, of how much more I have to learn, of how technically challenged I am when it comes to computers, and of how "average" my skill level is when compared to those I admire and try to emulate.
After beating myself up with this big stick, I feel even worse. And yet I do it over and over again at the beginning of each new year. Why do my dreams, my aims always fall far short of their target? Is it really this hard or is it only a negative state of mind that wraps its tentacles around my slumping creative soul?
Am I alone in this or is it symptomatic of our times? Tomorrow I will give myself a good swift kick in the psych and get on with the business of creating. But for now I will lick my wounds, snack on junk food, and hope that the sun will shine tomorrow.
January 3rd, 2010
The new year is a good time to re-evaluate who we are and where we're going, but sometimes the process elicits more questions than answers.
For instance, why do we worry about the environment: is it getting warmer, is it too cold, are the polar bears starving, are the oceans rising, is the air clean enough? And then we use our bodies as a garbage dump for every toxic element we can shove down our collective throats (or veins) in the name of fun, stress, popularity, intoxication or thrill seeking without regard to how it poisons and pollutes our internal environment.
Why do we blame society, the government, or the world when politicians (or sports idols) are caught cheating and crime gets a little too close to home? Don't we sometimes lie just a little, or speed when we think we can, or take a few pencils and papers home from the office, or delve into taboo behavior when no one is looking?
Why do we keep insisting that a little infidelity, a little pornography, a few indiscretions can't hurt, and then we're surprised when a friend or a neighbor suddenly goes berserk and shoots someone, hurts someone, or rapes someone? Remember the adage "what goes in, must go out?" What we put into our bodies or our minds will, whether we like it or not, effect a result.
Like a woodpecker pounding away at a tree, if we do it long enough, often enough, and hard enough eventually we'll get a hole. Bad habits and wrong actions have that same effect. They keep on Chipping away at us, weakening our resolve and our willpower until we lose all sense of who we are or what is happening to us.
It isn't the environment, or "global warming," or "climate change" that needs our attention. It's the "heart of darkness" that lurks within each of us. Input equals output. In the coming year, let's use balance, moderation, and common sense to change the world, the environment, the government, and our own health and well being.
January 1st, 2010
This painting is an oil on 16x20 oval canvas. I would never do an oval canvas again. For one thing, it is difficult to hang straight. For another, frames are difficult to find, and buyers even more difficult.
I really like this painting. It's a take on "Window on Pine Island" in my gallery. I use it here as a symbol for the past year. Today (New Year's Day), I cleaned out my desk and my files. I'm gearing up for the new year and want to do a series of paintings called "With these Hands." I want to show how people use their hands to make the world a better place, i.e. hard working hands, helping hands, gentle hands, caring hands, etc. A little glimpse of life through the wrinkled, careworn hands of age, and the discovering hands of youth that depict hesitancy and then wonder.
Any suggestions or ideas are welcome. The difficult part will be finding the right models and pictures. I may have to turn to my family again, and beg for their patient indulgence.
Just a note that I am now on Twitter and Facebook (AnfinsenArt or Carol Allen Anfinsen). Please share your New Year's goals with me.
December 29th, 2009
I can't help myself. When the calendar reaches January, my mind conjures up images of winters past with snow and blowing cold. Even though I live in Florida, come January I get that "rumbley in my tumbley" for a crock full of homemade soup.
I love soup. I know it's not a guy thing, and nothing like real meat and potatoes, but it's user friendly. No matter what you put in the pot, it comes out smelling and tasting like fine wine or the best in epicurean cooking. And when you're done, you feel like you've accomplished something.
In the winter, soup warms your bones. In tough times, it fills your stomach. When there are many mouths to feed, you can thin and stretch soup to fill every hungry mouth. People who turn their noses up at leftovers, slurp down every sumptuous bite that is hidden between stirs of a bubbling pot of melding flavors.
Soup is like life itself: a pinch of this, a dab of that, some bittersweet, some sugar, some spice mixed together with faith, hope and love. Simmering through the highs and lows, the combination becomes the essence of a life well lived; a life remembered.
Is it any wonder that my favorite channel is the food channel? I believe that people who can decorate cakes with sculpted roses, create flavorful recipes, and present with style can match any artist's creativity. Come to think of it, that soup is so colorful I see shapes forming, values changing, and my imagination soaring just like it did over my alphabet soup when I was a kid.
Got brain freeze and painter's block? Get back to basics and warm up with a bowl of hot yummy soup. Happy New Year everybody!
December 23rd, 2009
I fell in love with paper somewhere between third and sixth grades. I remember the excitement of making that first mark on a white sheet and wondering where it was going to take me, either to capture a vision I saw in my head, or to write a few words hidden within my heart. It was magic!
My first visit to a public library was love at first smell. There is nothing like the fragrance of books, paper and binding material to draw the creative muse from the shadows. I literally sat at a table and sniffed the pages as I read my way through several children's books. A kind, and rather concerned librarian assisted me in getting my first library card. It was heaven!
But aside from "The Bobbsey Twins," "Nancy Drew," and "The Five Little Peppers," it was eighth grade before I read a real novel: "Les Miserables." From there I discovered the classics and the great artists in history. I lugged stacks of books home from the library each week, and I snubbed my nose at the coloring books mother purchased, requesting, instead clean white paper.
I still like the smell of paper, and tremble with anxiety before each blank page or canvas. It's all about discovery; learning about yourself, and exploring the world around you. Using simple tools like pencils and pens, brushes and paint, paper and canvas, you can change lives. Heck, you can change the world!
December 20th, 2009
Every December our church and some generous volunteers, put on an unconventional nativity titled "A Walk through Bethlehem.". The characters are asked to read the Christmas story as found in Matthew, and a script suggesting possible action and dialogue, and then they improvise before a live audience. You never know what the characters will say on any given evening. You never know how the touring audience of 10-15 people in a group will react.
A hunched over beggar stands outside Bethlehem's walls. He asks for mercy and pleads for shekels. This year an adorable guest asked her father for money and then skipped over to drop it in the beggar's bag. Another child attending for the third year had brought a gift for the baby Jesus. When the child approached the stable, he tiptoed up to the manger and wished the baby Jesus "Happy birthday." He kissed the babe's head, and placed his gift beside the swaddling clothes.
My first year as a volunteer, I played an innkeeper. My job was simply to complain that Bethlehem was brimming with people there to pay taxes, and that I had no room for anyone, especially these new visitors. After all, I had just turned away a mother with child, riding on a donkey. That first year, I thought the presentation was a bit "hokey." A little too informal for my taste. After all, I had been involved in a real pageant with a cast of hundreds, and professional actors and directors. Surely, this little play by a local church could have no impact or make no impression on the community. But I was oh so wrong.
This year I was a greeter; able to listen and observe the adults and children who walked through the grass past the wooden props of sheep and donkeys, past the wooden scenery that I had helped to paint a few years earlier. I saw the wonderment in the eyes of the children. I heard adults express their gratitude at how much they looked forward to their "Walk through Bethlehem" each year, how it renewed them and prepared them to celebrate the birth of their Savior. And I felt the spirit that can only come in a simple stable, with simple people who in humility welcome the birth of God's Son.
Merry Christmas everyone!
p.s. the drawing "Mother and Child," is my daughter and her 2nd child.
December 18th, 2009
December 15th, 2009
When I lived in Kansas City, we had a backyard garden of sorts. We grew tomatoes, peppers, radishes, lettuce and squash. But the main staple of our garden was green beans. I was ever so proud when we had enough to can (if I wanted to), and enough to share with friends and neighbors. That is until we adopted two stray dogs we named Lady and Buttons. Adorable dogs that someone had dumped near the highway. My husband rescued them and brought them home for the kids.
Lovable and as cute as their names; Lady was a brown and white water spaniel, and buttons a solid black mix that we guessed as part terrier and part mutt. The kids loved those dogs, but I could never get them to take responsibility for their care. The dogs had never been housebroken, so we kept them mainly in the garage and in our big backyard. We weren't prepared for what happened next.
Over the course of the summer, our bean patch produced in abundance. When the dogs chased off the squirrels, I was delighted. After all, the squirrels had eaten the budding cantaloupes and my starter tomatoes, and sometimes they took big bites out of the older ripe ones. We had also battled crows and blackbirds that circled around to peck and poke. They were one reason why we had switched from corn to green beans.
When the beans were ready to harvest, I marveled at how many there were and how quickly they had grown. I was pleased with our efforts, until I washed them in the sink. Every sticky green bean, every fuzzy green leaf was covered with dog hair. While Buttons and Lady had romped through the garden scaring off birds and critters, they had left a trail of dog hair behind them.
I never could scrub all the hair off those beans. We finally had to give up on gardening all together. To this day, I marvel when I see a neat backyard garden, wondering what their secret to success is? Your comments are welcome.
December 13th, 2009