Greeneda Courtyard, Winter Park

Acrylic on canvas
20×52 inch triptych

I’d passed by the entrance many times, saw a line of tables making use of the space between the buildings and assumed that was it. But one day I took the time to walk down the alley and found a delightful little courtyard. Staircases on both sides lead up to apartments or businesses on the second floor. A fountain lazily trickling water down in the center and there are a few tables with umbrellas inviting one to rest.

I knew I wanted to paint this scene. But as I looked around at the space trying to decide on an angle, I decided to make the painting a panoramic to more fully capture the whole space.

This painting went slowly for me. Lots, of details to paint, leaving me feeling overwhelmed. So like any other task that seems all but impossible when looking at all of it, I broke it up into smaller pieces. Painting the back wall, the umbrellas, sketching the brick pattern on the ground, and bravely conquering the chairs! (I paint a lot of tables and chairs but they don’t get easier!) Then brick walls, bushes, windows, etc. the process wasn’t pretty. I wondered if I’d actually be successful in completing it. At times there was satisfaction at times weariness. But I just kept painting. It helped that as I went my daughter commented she liked the piece when I was on the fence about it.

Not sure what or how many things you face that seems overwhelming. I’m sure many of you could relay things far more important and intimidating than completing a painting! My encouragement keep going, even if it’s just a little at a time. You can take breaks and ask for help. Do you have a cheerleader to encourage you to keep going, even if its just baby steps? It’s OK for it to look messy in the middle of the process. I hope you persevere and can see moments of victory as you move forward!

I have enjoyed painting these scenes of Winter Park. I have some exciting news, but I need to wait until this fall to share. Stay tuned!

This and every painting I create is for sale. Some I place on my Etsy site. Everything goes up on my pixel site where reproductions can also be found.

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Parkshore Grill Triptych, St Pete

90 x 48 inches

Acrylic on three canvases

I have a love-hate relationship with working on giant paintings! I think the larger works have a presence, they shout at the viewer come, look, enjoy. Many have said that it feels like you could walk right into the scene. They can be dramatic and are considered statement pieces. I think sometimes bigger pieces give the perception of you being a real artist. Not playing cautiously, but going for it. On the downside, it takes a long time to complete bigger pieces. I find myself needing to back up or take a picture of progress made so I can evaluate what needs to be done. Small mistakes, not getting an angle or curve right stand out more. Transporting and shipping larger pieces is also takes some planning.

With smaller pieces, the painting goes quickly, so there is an immediate gratification of seeing the piece come together. They are easier to ship and more people can afford to collect the smaller pieces. However, they are like reserved you have to be willing to slow down and quiet your soul to take in the message that is more of a whisper.

A solo show was coming up and the gallery owner wanted big pieces. I had a few and set about completing this one for the show. The scene is inspired by one of the many restaurants along Beach Drive in St Pete Florida. High-end shops and restaurants, bordered by a beautiful park and beyond it boats sitting in the harbor waiting. When you search online for images of a city you often see skylines. Photos are taken from a distance, trying to sum up a place by its high rises. It shows evidence of man while remaining distant, interchangeable with other places. But when you walk around an area, stay on the ground you are going at a pace where you notice things. A cool courtyard, the flowers planted outside a home. You become part of the scene. And if you’ve been to such a spot all the memories of that place can attach themselves to that image. So this scene invites one to take a seat, enjoy, relax.

Winter Park, FLorida scenes 4&5

Lunch at Prato
Hannibal Square

16×20
Acrylic on canvas

Lunch at Prato features diners taking advantage of mild spring weather while dining along Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida. If you follow me you know I love these types of scenes. A reminder to slow down, breath deep, enjoy those around you. I appreciate restaurant making the most of the sidewalks, and the idea of walking around, exploring and window shopping.

I loved the vibrant red chairs and choose to match the umbrellas for an extra pop of color. I also enjoy the trees and flower boxes lining the street, proving shade and beauty.

Hannibal Square is located a few blocks off Park Ave in Winter Park, over on New England avenue. There are apartments with cute balconies, trees line the street and there are several restaurants and shops. When I’ve been there it is usually early in the day and several of the restaurants are not open. This patio space is for patrons of the Sausage Shack. (Makes me smile just saying it.) It has it all, a fountain, seating, shade from umbrellas and the trees. Lights strung for night time ambiance, even space heaters for the winter.

Here are the photos I used as inspiration.

Hidden Courtyard

18×24 inches, acrylic on canvas

This is the third in my Winter Park series. It reminds me of hiding and being found or seen.

As a child, one of my favorite books was “the secret garden.” I loved the idea of an enclosed garden, hidden away, known only to a few. Children love exploring and making forts. Couch cushions and sheets are transformed to castles, dirt, and rocks arranged in the wood to make a custom hideaway. I was no exception, stuffing our backyard tree house with blankets and treasures, playing monopoly with my neighbor in our fort. Feeling secure, protected from the world.

There are a few courtyards along Park Ave in Winter Park that remind me of childhood. I love this one with the fountains and the black wrought-iron tables with their red umbrellas. A blue door in the corner and bright citron green ones welcoming one to a tucked away store. There are spots that everyone knows about, and others discovered by only a few who will wander off the beaten path.

As I think about hidden places, safety, protection a passage from the book of Psalms comes to mind;

“Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute— you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.” Psalm 139:7-12 MSG

In a secret courtyard, in my room, as I walk through life, there is one who knows me who is with me, who is good.

Lunch on Park Ave

18×24, Acrylic on Canvas

I’ve started a series of paintings inspired by Winter Park, FL. Each painting reminds me of different things. The first painting, Hope Renewed, reminds me to have hope. This second painting is of the Briarpatch Restaurant along Park Ave. It reminds me to have perseverance.

I was in the area a few different times and it was always overcast. One day it looked like it was going to storm and a waiter was pulling in the chairs and tables for the day. But finally I was there when the sun was shining and people were enjoying a late lunch in the mild spring weather of Florida. I can compare the shots with direct sun and overcast and the shadows add much interest to the composition.

I tried something different for this one. Usually, If people are in my photographs I don’t paint them. Yet I took a chance and kept most of the people in this painting. (Shoutout to artist Margaret Baker whose paintings inspired me to keep the people.)

The start of the piece went quickly filling in trees, sky, and umbrellas, then it slowed way down with the people. I wanted to keep it simple, yet needed proportions to be believable. I was often zooming in to make sense of what I was seeing.

The Briarpatch will always remind me of the day I became a mother. It was the last meal I had before my daughter was born. A day that was long and trying, and yet knowing we’d soon meet her allowed me to persevere through the minutes and hours of contractions. And in the end, joy, meeting my daughter. The sunny yellow umbrellas reminding me of that day.

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.

Pupetto’s Cafe, Positano Italy

48×60 inches
Acrylic on canvas

A fellow artist friend who does art festivals suggested I have one giant painting that would really draw people into my booth for an upcoming show. I had the time and thought about what I might paint. I recently completed several cafe scenes that I will feature at the festival, so it made sense that it would be the subject matter of this new painting. I was trying to find a local spot to feature when I had an idea.

I’ve been on Instagram for a few months, sharing my artwork, following others. One of my favorite person to follow has been a lovely British lady who lives on the Amalfi coast of Italy and shares her day to day life. She has lived there for nearly twenty years, speaks the language, and has made a career that works for her there. As I have been seeking to find the beauty right where I live, she does the same. (Only she is in Italy and I’m in Florida.) I love seeing what she posts, pictures of her life and appreciate her realness. The setting is beautiful, but life in Italy has its challenges too. Loving many of her photos I asked if I could use them to paint from and she agreed. I had seen the photo that inspired this painting a few months ago and loved it. Cafe scene, dappled lighting, vibrant colors, bougainvillea, even some umbrellas if you look close. It seemed the perfect scene to paint. This is a beachside restaurant/cafe called Pupetto’s in Positano, Italy, a small town on the Amalfi Coast.

It’s a reminder to savor the moments in life, carve into your schedule times to rest, to recharge, invest in what is good for your heart.

Going to Italy has been on my bucket list for years. Being able to see Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel, and sculptures, take a gondola ride around the waterways of Venice, take in the scenery along one of the mountainous coasts. My lists of places in this country I’d like to visit continues to grow. Right now it’s out of reach. So I try to look for beauty where I am and wait to see what the future holds.

Missed Opportunities – Niagara-on-the- lake No. 5

At times past I’ve sought to find a way to portray a thought, an abstract concept visually. These days painting landscapes, I go out and take photos, go through the photos and pick what I want to paint, and when finished will reflect on what I’ve learned, or the impressions I had as I painted.

Casual observers and art critics alike can theorize what an artist was thinking, or the meaning behind a painting. I have no problem with others finding their own emotional connection with a piece. I do try and take the time to think about and share what my pieces mean to me. Whether it was the experience that came when taking photos of the place or something I learned as or after painting it. My blog is sharing my art and the stories behind them.

Several months ago a photo of Shaw Cafe showed up on a friend’s Facebook feed. It was beyond gorgeous. I was so excited as I knew our trip to visit family would allow me to take a short trip over to Niagara-on-the-Lake and see it for myself. I looked forward to it for months. I wished we had been able to spend more time there, we had a few hours to walk around and take photos, before returning to our families home. I took several photos around this cafe. Flowers line the outside seating area, hang from the second level, from nearby lampposts and line the other side of the sidewalk. Variety, color, and of course as a bonus there are the umbrellas!

As I look at the painting a phrase, a verse from the Bible comes to my mind; “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalms 34:8

While walking one might glimpse into a window and see yummy pastries in their case. They could stop and press their face to the window, breath in deep. They can even take a step into the store, yet their experience is limited. They haven’t tasted. It remains an intellectual knowing rather than a full experiential knowledge. So close, yet they miss out. (Now at times we wish to avoid experiential knowledge, and would gladly settle for reading about it second hand.) Because of time constraints, I feel like that day in Niagara-on-the-Lake, I saw much, yet missed really experiencing, tasting. You can see the beauty of Shaw Cafe painting, but it’s from a distance. You’re not sitting in the cafe surrounded by the beauty, enjoying a meal and the company you are with. After finishing I thought, it’s beautiful, but it doesn’t capture the feeling of being surrounded or immersed in that time and place.

I can be too busy, too distracted to be fully present in a moment of time. I don’t think I’m alone. In this age, it’s easier to scroll through my Facebook or Instagram feed getting a tiny glimpse of a friend’s day instead of making a phone call or sitting down to talk. We can be so intent on capturing those perfect images for our feed that we miss just being in the moment.

I think too often I settle in my life with God of knowing things about him, without tasting, sitting down and really soaking in His goodness. Read a few verses, send a quick prayer, move onto the next thing on my list. Yet really I don’t want to be an observer, I want to be a participant! To sit, to abide and to taste.

What do you think? Where do you need to slow down?

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The Patio at Hotel Dallavalle Niagara-on-the-lake 4

24×30

I struggle with not enough. I don’t think I’m alone. Wondering if I have talent enough to make it as an artist. Being jealous and feeling in competition with other artists, that there is limited room for art and beauty in the world. Before that was a fear that we wouldn’t be about to find enough support to continue our work with an amazing non-profit. Not feeling like I have enough wisdom and grace to parent my tween children well as they pull away and struggle into adulthood. The list could go on. I’m guessing you could add your own items, times where your chest gets tight and you wonder how will this work out.

I can be dense, needing to relearn lessons over and over. And I’m coming to terms with that is OK. Learning and relearning over a lifetime is OK. And one lesson I appear to be getting schooled in is God is enough. More than enough. As I referenced when I started the Niagara-on-the-Lake painting, he is gloriously wasteful. And He wants to share his resources with me. He isn’t stingy with his grace, his forgiveness, his love or wisdom. He put reminders everywhere that he is a wellspring of life, always with more to give, not a cistern with a limited quantity. Daily sunsets, flowers, the variety of plants, bugs, animals. How many bay species do we really need?

So if you’ve read until now you might be scratching your head saying what does that have to do with a cafe scene? Everything God made reflects his nature, including humans, and what we make also reflects him.  I think the reason I’m drawn to these scenes is they’re lavish, in their beauty. Far beyond a functional meal to scarf down and run out the door. The message is sit down, fellowship, enjoy your surroundings. My reminder to myself is when overwhelmed, don’t focus on if you are enough, but that God is enough.

Have you tasted this His goodness?

This painting is the patio of Hotel Dallavalle on the corner off Gate street and Queen street in Niagara on the lake. Overhead flower baskets hand from a pergola. Crisp white tables and chairs welcome, interspersing with red umbrellas. A number of tall trees provide shade for the area.

Niagara-on-the-lake #2 & #3

Wellington and Picton- Niagara-on-the-lake Cafe #2

wIMG-6999Acrylic on canvas
24×24

This cafe is located at the corner of Wellington St and Picton street in Niagara-on-the-lake. Loved the flowers hugging the white picket fence and the different colored umbrellas. We roamed the streets in the morning before lunch, so most of the cafes were just getting set up.

I do work from photographs, but the advantage of being a painter means I can take artistic liberties. As I’ve been working on street scenes and landscapes for the last few years I’ve gotten more comfortable with trees. Knowing how much detail to go for, using different shades of green, letting sky peek through. So I modified the trees slightly. There was a lamp post in the scene, but you couldn’t see the light so I took it out. All the tables and chairs at this cafe were a black metal, with mesh tops, backs, and seats. I decided to add seat cushions and make the tables solid. It’s still a confusing mess of legs but it makes the scene a little more understandable.

One thing I enjoy about these cafe Street side scenes is even though the scene is a busy one, it invites one to slow down and relax, savor the moment. There will always be more on my to-do list than I can get to in a day. Hard work is good, honorable and necessary. However work needs to be balanced with rest, literal rest

as well as the taking the time for a leisurely treat. It’s no surprise that we are better able to handle all the demands of life when we call regular timeouts.

The Patio at the Charles Inn -Niagara-on-the-lake Cafe #3

wIMG_9514

Acrylic on canvas
24×24

Umbrellas the color of sunshine, this outdoor cafe is part of The Charles Inn at Niagara-on-the-lake In Ontario, Canada. It’s a few blocks down from all the gift stores and doesn’t get nearly as much tourist’s traffic. The greenery surrounds the patio and looks so pretty next to the windows and white trim of the Inn. It’s quiet, shaded and invites one in for a nice lingering breakfast.

What do you do to rest? To recharge the batteries and remember what important versus what’s urgent? To remind yourself that it’s OK to hit pause?