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.


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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Blooming Shopfront

Acrylic on canvas

While on vacation I hoped to get photos for painting inspiration. A friend had shared a photo on Facebook of Slayton Arboretum, and realizing the place was a short drive from my parents, my husband and I took off one morning to see for ourselves. We enjoyed the Arboretum and explored the town. I love summer in Michigan, full of life, sleeping with the windows open, flowers blooming. We came across this shopfront which was so colorful, and I knew it would become one of my paintings.

Often when I visit near where I grew up I feel a bit melancholy. Older relatives have passed away, friends moved away, childhood home no longer occupied and in disarray. It’s too easy to feel the loss. I appreciated the reminder that summer comes yearly with new life, warmth and days at the lake. And I appreciated exploring a nearby place full of beauty that I wasn’t aware of.

Clock on Queen

20×20, Acrylic on Canvas

I was visiting with a dear friend over vacation, we had done some hiking together in the woods, seen a few waterfalls and were talking about beauty. She shared how she was reading about how gloriously wasteful God was. That caught my attention. She elaborated that there is so much variety, complexity, detail on our earth, the galaxy, the universe. So much not beheld by human eyes, unappreciated, unnoticed. God is one of plenty, not scarcity. His creativity, his love, and grace towards us is unlimited. (See the link below) How different this than how we act, feeling we never have enough, struggling to make it through a day.

A few days after this conversation I got to spend the morning in the small town of Niagara-on-the-lake. We wandered around a few block area and everywhere were gorgeous flowers. Hanging from window boxes and light posts, on medians and curbside. So much color and beauty. We wondered how it’s afforded and who takes care of all these reminders of gloriously wastefulness. As we wandered down the street, taking a ton of photos my heartfelt encouraged, rejuvenated, thankful for the reminder that there is more than the needed and practical.

This is the first of what I’m guessing will be many paintings to follow. It is on Queen street with the memorial clock tower in the background.

Where have you seen the gloriously wastefulness of God?


Lake Rianhard, Celebration

Celebration series #1
Acrylic on canvas

The Disney brand capitalizes on fantasy, entertainment, nostalgia, and utopian ideals. In the 1990s Disney went about planning out and building a community that capitalizes on that branding. Celebration is a small town near Disney World in Florida. Houses have porches, streets are lined with trees, and you can easily get around by bike or golf cart.

I like to focus on beauty, reflecting on our desire for wholeness. Celebration easily gives a feast for the eyes. It’s the opposite of fast-paced city life, with rocking chairs by the lake and little shops to browse in.

We visited one afternoon at the end of the day. The clouds were beautiful and the light was turning things golden. Bikes had been left temporarily as owners were probably dining nearby at an outside cafe.

I confess painting the bikes gave me a hard time. My photograph had distorted the sizing. I considered erasing them all together, spent time tracing and reworking.  After different attempts, I ended up totally repainting the teal bike. As much trouble as I had, I liked what they added to the painting, and will probably have the bikes appear in future works in this series. (You can rent bikes here too, I could pose one around town if I wanted.)

Life is usually not as ideal as what’s pictured here. Things break, plans fail, people disappoint, storms blow through. And yet, we long for the ideal, we vacation trying to capture for a fleeting moment, rest, and peace and joy. C.S. Lewis said; ” If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world. ”  Disney does a great job at weaving fantasy, creating places we can catch a glimpse of what may be. (But even in a Disney built town things deteriorate, traffic backs up and neighbors can annoy.) I think one day we will be blown away by how much better our creator is at creating the perfect city, eternal, unbroken, perfect.