Acrylic on Canvas
It is a strange phenomenon, places that many would consider a once in a lifetime trip, that exude beauty and wonder, yet the reality is living there full-time is pretty challenging. Resources might be more limited, no driving down the street to your favorite supermarket. That amazing view you’ve seen in photos requires a demanding hike with some dizzying drop-offs. We dream of that perfect trip, yet are grateful to return to our comforts at home. Makes me wonder if I miss out on some incredible beauty because of my tendency to avoid the uncomfortable or unfamiliar. Or maybe I miss out because I take for granted what’s around me, engrossed in my to do list or Facebook feed.
Visitors flock to Positano yearly, spend a day or two, taking in the shops and scenery, showing off on their Instagram accounts. Yet I think those who live there have the opportunity to appreciate its beauty while living with the tension of its challenges. Taking a hike on your day off, kayaking along the shore discovering small watery caves and beaches. Taking the steps down to your favorite lookout to enjoy the sunset. Maybe life is meant to be a combination of challenges and taking in the beauty. The challenges make the beauty sweeter, and the beauty making the challenges bearable.
I love this scene, Dusk, light coming on on the hillside, chairs line up waiting for a new day, peaceful.
Acrylic on canvas
I find my tendency when facing challenges is to study the problem, look at all the facets, worry, and then see if I can find a solution. Some things I can do, like looking in the fridge and figuring out what to make for dinner. Other things are totally overwhelming, and I can feel alone. Or I alert my husband to the breadth of the problem, hoping he will magically have a solution. No doubt, it’s a comfort for others to journey with me through it. Yet I’d like to switch my default. Instead of being overwhelmed by the size of the problem, I’d like to look to God and be overwhelmed that he is with me. He will journey with me and has the power, love, and goodness to actually do something about the problem.
Oh, the irony, So I didn’t plan to be painting a beach scene when an arctic blast will send temps well below freezing and blizzards have covered everything in white. But here I’ve been painting people lounging, relaxing on the beach, basking in the sun. It takes an effort to create new habits. Here’s to leaving worry behind.
I loved the bird’s eye view and the variety and interest the umbrellas, chairs, people, and shadows made to the scene. It was a fun scene to paint, the water and rocks going quickly. Then bit by bit tackling the beach.
This is Conca dei Marini near Amalfi. The Amalfi peninsula is mountainous, rocky, with hidden towns and beaches tucked away along the coast. The hilly terrain lends to some amazing views as one stops along the road to take it in. Better yet grab your towel, find a chair and sit and relax.
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.
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?!
Acrylic on canvas
The alarm was set for way too early, but no time to snooze. I checked outside the window and could see the outlines of clouds on the horizon. Quickly we got ready and hopped in the car. We drove North along A1A and the sky got brighter. Finally, we arrived at the Cocoa Beach Pier. A few others stood facing East, ready for the sunrise. The sky was a beautiful display of colors, the water reflecting and crashing onto the shore. Birds took off from the pier flying in an agreed-upon pattern and settling again.
Looking at the lifeguard tower makes me think of readiness, watchfulness, and diligence. Far too often rather than being watchful, it’s more like I’m playing in the sand, digging, busy, head down, suddenly surrounded by the tide, my designs washed away. Life is busy. But I think it’s meant to be lived with built-in rhythms. Sunrise and sunset. Work and rest. Waiting, and catching up.
Gathered into teams we were given a time limit a challenge and a few instructions. There wasn’t one right way to tackle the challenge. Some teams dove in headfirst, figuring if it didn’t work they’d make some mid-course corrections. Others took time to talk through a plan and assign roles. In the middle of the challenge, the moderator threw us for a spin and had us switch spots, giving our progress away to another team and trying to make use of what someone else had done.
That challenge time was meant to show how we work together, different people having different strengths. In the end, there wasn’t one clearly right way to accomplish the task.
In life some people rush ahead, others wait hoping a map will be given to them to direct their path. (And sometimes people are a little of both, cautious in some areas, adventurous in both.)
When I finished this painting I thought its as if the viewer is standing on the edge of the path, waiting. Being still, taking in the beauty around him. Perhaps it’s uncertainty, or waiting for more light to illuminate the path.
Lately, I feel like I’m waiting for direction but still taking steps forward. I need to remember to enjoy the sunrise even when I don’t know what the day(s) ahead will bring.
Acrylic on Canvas
I have middle schoolers. Closer to adulthood than preschool, they have learned so much, and are growing in leaps and bounds towards independence. “I know” are words often heard when we remind them of some task to do. (Bring home your gym clothes, do your best, try and be friendly and kind, remember we love you….) Eye rolls and yes, we know. Yet gym clothes are forgotten, or brought home but not put into the laundry. We hear the same complaints over and over. They might act as though we were an embarrassment or a nag rather than a loving parent and biggest fan. They may think they know it all, yet they have much to learn.
Learning takes time and repetition. It would be great if we learned, retained and applied every lesson immediately, perfectly, permanently. But we don’t. Some things just don’t get through. It can take years to understand some lessons. We may have blind spots or grow frustrated by lack of change. Or we may get discouraged when what we offer is not received. We might stop striving or repeating the offer.
I’m amazed at how repetitively patient God is with us. I think sunrises are one great example of God’s patient, enduring love. He will repeat His message to us that we are loved, cherished, known and valued, that there is hope over and over day after day. Sometimes I witness the sunrise, and it stills my soul. Other days I hit snooze and wake anxious for all the day holds. I’m grateful that regardless the sun still rises.
My hope is to see the sunrise, be encouraged and keep extending those moments of grace to others in my life. (Even if they roll their eyes, ignore me, or say I know.)
How about you? Have you felt a moment of peace in the midst of your crazy world?
Recently I attended a team function with my husband, we stayed at a hotel on the beach. I don’t have a high energy level, but we are almost never at the beach at sunrise. So I set my alarm and woke as the sun was just making it over the horizon. I’m thankful for the beauty I encountered, the peacefulness. And of course some nice photos to use as painting inspiration.
Acrylic on canvas
A Colorado landscape artist will likely have paintings of mountains and aspen trees. A painter from the southwest might find themselves painting cacti. As an artist focused mainly on landscapes, living in Florida, there is an expectation to see beach scenes.
We live less than an hour from the coast. On an average year, we might make it to the beach once or twice. While millions vacation in Florida, we long for mountains, hiking in the woods or cooler northern temperatures. We tend to take for granted the familiar, what we see every day. While I do enjoy painting palm trees, I long to see changing leaves in the fall, tulips and cherry blossoms in spring, and a landscape that has some changes in elevation. So I try and have new eyes, and appreciate what’s around me.
I had no desire to paint beach scenes, sun setting with pelicans and a few palm trees. I was inspired when I saw a series Teil Duncan Henley did of the beach and poolside. What was highlighted wasn’t so much the surf and sand but the human elements of enjoying the beach. There is so much color at the beach, from the umbrellas, buckets, towels, surf boards, chairs, swimsuits. Nothing is understated.
Teil embraced what we add to the picture. Rather than trying to get shots without people, I decided to embrace it too.
I had to pick up a painting on the west coast of Florida. So we stopped by one of the most popular beaches in the state -Siesta Key Beach. The day was overcast, and love bugs were everywhere. However, the beach was packed with people. I took some pictures to work from. I usually leave people out of my painting, not this time. However, I kept the style loose, more focused on shape and color than making anyone recognizable. I decided to do a triptych to allow for a wide angle view. Hopefully will take in the beach a few times this summer and get some more photos.