Things Hoped For

24×30

Acrylic on canvas

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!”

Psalms 27:13

A friend shared this quote the other day. (Thanks Caryn!) It was spoken by David, a man who had a promise from God that he would be king, but at the time was in hiding from the current king who was seeking to kill him. He waited years to see what was promised come to pass. Yet as he waited he had hope and faith that what was promised would be seen.

Sometimes our view might look like what’s in this painting. Taking our breath away with its beauty, full of promise, needs met, expectations exceeded. That’s what we want right? Other times this is what is hoped for but not yet seen. Our view looks daunting, we feel tired and overwhelmed. I’ve faced some daunting circumstances this year, as have friends whose circumstances are so far beyond what they can fix.

So what do you do when life looks bleak?

Despair? Deny? Work harder? Surrender? Hope? Wait?

Can you picture yourself here?

Or is it instantly dismissed as a dream?

I know I have been encouraged when hard circumstances surround me to read accounts of men like David and Moses, women like Ruth and Mary, while not perfect, they clung to the one who promised them that there was more to come.

God’s faithfulness has not changed. His timing often looks different that what we think would be best. But then we appreciate the beauty all the more when we’ve been in the dark.

This painting was inspired by my friend from afar, Nicki, who lives in the small town of Positano, Italy on the Amalfi coast. I’m thankful she shares her life in photos and videos. (If you follow her you’ll see beauty mixed with challenges.) This is the view from the balcony of the Hotel Poseidon Positano.

Look for @NickiPositano on Instagram.

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Chisholm Park Sunset

12×36
Acrylic on canvas

While January means snow and cold for most of the United States, Florida tends to be selective in how much it participates. We stayed in town over Winter break. There were a few days I broke out a sweater, but several found me in the standard short sleeves and flip-flops.

Most of our break was low key. Stayed local, rested a lot, and took time to visit some picturesque areas around town.

Chisholm Park is about 15 minutes from us along the east side of East Lake Tohopekaliga (Toho for short). The park is beautifully shaded by a number of old live oak trees. Branches defy gravity, invited the adventurous to climb. Spanish moss drapes adding an air of mystery. We arrived about an hour before sunset and enjoyed our time watching the light cast shadows and light up leaves and moss. We walked along a horse path, listened to Sandhills cranes sounding like dinosaurs and even dipped our feet in the water. (While keeping an eye out for gators.) Not a bad way to end a winter day!

Lakeside retreat

16×20 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

Around my house, I see a lot of live oak, pine and palm trees. This was not always the case. As a child, I remember collecting leaves from the various neighborhood trees for a class project. The specimens were very different: Maples, tulip, willow, ginkgo, ash, oak.

Home is equated with comfort, familiar, we know what to expect. We are curious about the new, the unknown. These past few years I’ve painted a number of trees. My confidence and skill in doing so have grown with time. Weeping willows are not something I see in my day to day life, they present a new challenge with their low drooping branches and yellow-green leaves.

If you see my work you know I love many different and vibrant colors. At times a scene might be beautiful but seem to monochromatic. Everything is green with a blue sky thrown in. I will bump up contrast and saturation at times, and as I continue to study the photo will see hints of other colors. The different hues can add interest to ordinary scenes. I am a painter because I like to amplify my scenes. My goal is to take familiar and new scenes and find a point of view that is interesting.

Lakeside Rest

16×20 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

My paintings always start with photographs. I’m not going for photo-realism, but the photos help me remember details, texture, color. Many times I have one chance to visit a location, to explore and record. After coming home and looking at the photos I wish I’d taken the time to get a different angle, or that I’d gone when the sun was out, or higher or lower in the sky. I love going to places whether downtown in a city or a park setting and walking around. Riding in a car scenes go too fast. Of course, there are places I visit, again and again, where the challenge seems to be seeing with fresh eyes. The familiar can easily be overlooked and dismissed.

Lighting is transformative. I love shadows, and light shining through the trees.  This past summer I had a chance for a change of pace as we traveled to see family in a different part of the country. The time was relaxed, and I was able to take out a kayak a few times to do some exploring. Being low in the water, going slowly allowed a change in perspective. I was fortunate to capture some photos when the sun was low in the sky, elongating the shadows, contrasting the bright spots of light.

There are several other landscape painters I follow, observing their use of color, texture, brush strokes, how they handle different subjects. Noting how they blend realism,  impressionism, and abstraction.

One gallery owner that represents me likes to feature landscapes of mine that are more universal. (Not identifiable as one spot, but scenes that might be found a variety of places. For example, a piece I painted of a path and trees near Zion, might also have been inspired by places in Orlando. ) So I’ve been looking for scenes that are more about capturing the moment than the place.  Keeping brush strokes loose, not overly concerned about details, adding colors where only hints were found.

This scene happened to be inspired by the long shadows and low angle of the sun as I took an early morning kayak ride near my parents house in Michigan.

6×6 studies

I had a few holiday craft mart type events in early December. I wanted to make sure I had some lower price point items, so I embarked on making a number of 6×6 inch studies. I love painting on large canvases, but with smaller ones, there is a freedom to experiment and paint more loosely. I did groupings of four each with different themes: winter, spring, beach, wooded areas, parks. The paintings can most times be completed in a sitting, however, coming up with fresh subject matter for twenty paintings in under a week was tiring. Some will serve as inspiration for future larger pieces.

Willow on Rainbow Banks

18×24
Acrylic on canvas

I have a certain style when I paint. It wasn’t really super intentional, it’s just how I paint.  I fall somewhere between loose realism and impressionism. I like to amplify colors and try not to depend too heavily on black, preferring to use purple, blues and dark greens to darken. When I paint buildings the work is a bit more exacting, as I want to make sure to get the angles and perspective right. However, there are a number of artists that I am inspired by who have a looser style, with more of an emphasis on movement and brush strokes, more painterly than realistic. When I paint smaller canvas I am freer to focus on shape and color and don’t worry about capturing every detail. I’ve tried to incorporate that into some of my recent paintings. I enjoyed breaking away and being a bit more blocky with my colors. I think it contrasts and adds interest to areas that are more realistic.

This scene was inspired by visiting my parents in Michigan this summer. They live on a chain of lakes, and I was able to kayak around exploring at a slower pace. I enjoyed the shadows the trees casts, the colors of the lily pads and how reflections distort in the water. I decided to add some fall color to the weeping willow tree.

Roadside Display

16×20
Acrylic on canvas

Have you heard of the phrase; “The honeymoon is over?” It can be used to describe more than a marital relationship. The idea that enough time has passed and experiences had where you start to notice the flaws. The shine has worn off. Sometimes it becomes pronounced, and it seems all you see are things you don’t care for. There is something in our human nature that makes contentment elusive. We want what we don’t have.

I’ve lived in Florida for most of my adult life. But I grew up in Michigan. Years ago, I couldn’t believe I was moving to the sunshine state, the land of Disney, palm trees and the beach. I felt lucky. While I still enjoy eating outside in the Winter, and I don’t know how I’d handle months and months of cold weather, I do miss the seasons. Few trees shed their leaves here, fewer still change color. (And I’d be fine wearing pants and a sweater sitting around a fire now and again!)

So I’m enjoying other peoples photos of autumn while sitting in my shorts with the air on. I took a lot of photos this summer while up north and being a painter I might turn some into fall scenes. Now my guess is that by the time the trees are changing color the tiger lilies made an exit until spring. (But I’m a painter, so I’m taking liberties.)

So the honeymoon is over, no rose-colored glasses. But like a marriage that deepens and thrives you have to work at it. Find the things you love. Give grace. Forgive. And remind yourself of the benefits of being right where you are.

Small works

End of Day, 10×10, Acrylic on Canvas
Ever Onward, 10×10, Acrylic on Canvas
Candy Sky, 10×10, Acrylic on Canvas

Part of my life as an artist is to look for opportunities to show my work in galleries and other venues. I found out about a call to artists at a gallery I’d like to get into. The only problem was the deadline was less than a week away and pieces had to be 10×10 or smaller.

So I grabbed a few canvases and did three sunset scenes. My work wasn’t chosen to be in the show for the gallery I made it for. It happens, for every time my work is accepted someplace there is usually several times it’s been rejected. As the year-end approaches, there are different opportunities to try and sell my work to those looking for a great unique gift. I’d love to see some big pieces, but know for many a small piece is more their price range. I have pieces listed on Etsy, and am doing a few holiday one day shows locally.

When I painted for myself I painted what I wanted. As a professional, I find subject matter I like, but it’s also about what will sell. Living in Florida makes Southwestern Landscapes a hard sell. (So I dream of the day I have enough of an online following, and or gallery representation out west to paint those pieces.)  I love painting big, but it’s harder to find collectors for large pieces. So I have some big canvases waiting. I would grow weary of small paintings all the time, but there is a freedom in the small pieces. Not overthinking or getting too caught up details.

November/December events

Below are a few places and events where my artwork will be on display.

City Arts Factory located at 29 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801 will be having its last show at the current venue. It is called Moving on Up and has artwork related to moving and travel. I will have 4 pieces featured. The show is up Nov 15-29, 2018. There is a free reception Nov 15 from 6-9pm, open to all.
Florida Hospital Altamonte, located at 601 E Altamonte Dr, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701 has an ongoing gallery that changes every three months. Free to the public. I will be displaying a piece in the show that starts in December.
I will have a booth here at this great opportunity to shop local small businesses for your holiday gifts.
Another chance to shop small business for your holiday needs. Located at 0743 Narcoossee Rd #19A, Orlando, FL 32832
Have a question? A suggestion for a painting? Send me an email.
Please don’t keep me a secret!

Warmly
Heather Nagy

Fiordo di Furor

24×24

Acrylic on canvas

Ever make a fort as a kid, disassembling all the couch cushions and using all the bed sheets? Or maybe you enjoyed exploring the woods behind your house. A tent set up in the backyard or the basement could be magical. As a grown-up, we might not make forts, but we love finding a tucked away courtyard to sit, relax, reflect. We love exploring new places.

This is Fiordo di Furore. It’s a natural Fjord in the rocks, a small harbor hidden away in the mountains along the Amalfi Coast in the SouthWest of Italy. It’s the kind of place you’d stumble upon while kayaking along the coast. A small hidden beach protected by the walls of rock nearly surrounding it. Apparently, the stairs down from the bridge to the beach have been closed off due to rock slides. You can see other views on this website.

I think our looking for or creating our own hidden worlds points to our desire for paradise. Away from the problems of life, a respite, a hope that there is more what we see surrounding us. Everyone longs for peace. Where have you found a place to rest and recharge? Will you share it or keep it to yourself?!