Saturday, April 15, 2017

Good-bye, Hello

A New Thing

Having a new home is an exciting and wonderful experience. Being able to live life on one level is a dream come true and I love our spacious, open floor plan. No more going upstairs to bed, or down stairs to do laundry. Yes, there is a finished, walk-out basement,  but I am not required to go there on  a daily basis. Only when I feel like it.  On the other hand, there are things I will miss about Woodward.  It is never easy to say good-bye to long time friends and good neighbors, but it is not as if we are moving to the other side of the world - or even the other side of the state. When the dust settles a little, I hope I will still be getting together with my painting partner Avis now and then.  No matter how tough or chaotic life becomes, painting and good fellowship always makes it better

I will miss my studio squirrel friend. He lives in the large tree outside my window and has become the subject of many drawings and paintings. He is also very good company and something of a comedian, often providing a much needed break from very intense work.

"Tiger Cat on A Red Chair," Pastel

Another furry friend,  the neighborhood cat, Maow.  I am sure he goes by other names aw well, but when I asked him "What is your name?" he said, "Maow,"  so that is how I always address him, and he always answers. He has become quite adept at squeezing through the door whenever it is opened, even just a crack.  I will miss him, but he has a home of his own, so he is OK. Not homeless, just sociable.

It hasn't been easy to leave our studio - so many good memories! But, I am also excited about setting up new creative spaces in our new home.  For our studio/office we chose the largest of the two guest bedrooms on the main floor. I felt a little guilty about this at first until we compared the number of days we expect to have overnight guests to the amount of time I will spend in the studio. No contest. If we ever decide to open a bed and breakfast (NOT on my bucket list. BTW) that might change, but for now this is the new Creative Spirit Studios. Of course it will require a few alterations. The carpet must go. Pencil and colored pencil artists and some who work in collage or acrylic may be trusted to work in a carpeted room, but I don't even want to try, especially not with pastel.  It has a mind of its own and a life of its own. Sometimes all I can do is get out of its way and watch it fly. Right now this does not look like much of a studio,  but imagine it with hardwood laminate flooring,  drawing tables, easels and special lighting.  It will take a while - two weeks just to have the flooring installed; the rest will follow in its own good time. I am learning a lot of patience with this move, especially with myself.  More photos will come.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Five Little Sparrows

Five Little Sparrows

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Luke 12:6

Sparrows fascinate me. Unlike other birds who arrive singly or in pairs, sparrows come to the feeder as a family group. Like hungry diners at a buffet or church pot luck, they seem to enjoy being together as much as they do the meal.  They may not be blessed with the brightly colored feathers or lovely songs of other birds, but they have a wonderful time. 

Sometimes paintings are made with a theme in mind, and sometimes the theme just happens.  This was originally about the cute little birds at the backyard bird feeder. I didn't make the connection the the "five sparrows" until it was finished. Foollowing the rules of composition, when painting multiple subjects it is usually better to have an odd number rather than even number. Three seemed too few, seven too many - the individuals would be lost in a crowd that size. So, there is the story of the five little sparrows. But not the whole story. The entire passage reads:
 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

It is comforting for me to remember, especially during difficult times, that God cares for all His creatures. And if He does not forget the most humble of his creatures, He will not forget you or me.

This is an acrylic painting on gessoed illustration board, 6 x 14.   Purchase information is available on my gallery, The Creative Spirit Gallery Art by Della Burgus

Monday, May 30, 2016

Portrait of a Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris
Oil on canvas, 8 x 10
I inherited my love for iris from my mother. Her garden was always filled with them and I remember looking forward to seeing the majestic flowers every spring. They looked like orchids, their petals were velvety soft, and their colors reminded me of the royal robes worn by kings and queens.  If there had been a variety named "Sunrise," Mom would never have gone to the nursery and purchased it anyway.  There was no money for iris bulbs in her world. You got your flowers by trading with friends and neighbors, or when people had to divide or thin their plants, they might give you some rather than throw them away. Then you would return the favor with some of your plants another time.  As a result, iris were violet or lavender, and occasionally white, or a two-toned gold and purple, but they were still beautiful.  My mother would have been thrilled to see all the colors and varieties of iris available today: black, white and everything in between.

"Sunrise" began life as an acrylic painting but I soon realized that the nature of the flower called for a more direct, impressionistic approach, than the thin layering process I had planned for it.  Most of the time I let the subject, or perhaps the composition, decide the medium,  and in this case, it was good to switch.  The soft blending and subtle colors of the oils were perfect for this beautiful flower.  Less detail, more "soul."  Spending more time with oils lately. It has been like rediscovering an old friend.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Waiting Dog Pastel

Your Best Friend is Waiting for You
Pastel, Image size 8 x 10
Mounted on foam core, matted to 12 x 14
Ready to Frame
Frame not included

 I don't know why they have to stay away so long, but there must be a really good reason. It will be wonderful to see them again when they come home.  I will wag my tail, run around in circles and maybe even bark, but only just a little.  Joy, joy, joy! It will be so exciting! Maybe they will bring me a new toy or give me a treat. I know they will scratch my ears and tell me what a good dog I am. That always makes me feel so happy. I know that they love me and they will always take care of me. But I still miss them when they go away. It always seems like forever, whenever we are apart...

20% of the sale of this painting will be given to AHeinz 57 Pet Rescue and Transport, who save "furry lives one carload at a time."  They are doing a wonderful work and if even you don't buy a painting, I hope you will consider making a donation. Or better yet, adopt a new furry friend. There are many pets just waiting for some people to love. You can read about AHeinz57 here:

email me to purchase
or for more information

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Portrait of a Woman, A Thankful Heart

A Thankful Heart
Is a Heart at Peace

It is no secret that peace is a by-product of gratitude. It is also true that often the most thankful people are those who do not exhibit an abundance of material possessions. It may not make any sense to the rest of us, but it is true, nevertheless. They tend to treasure the simple things in life, the things we all take for granted - love, friendship, beauty, and the joy of living.

That is why, at this time of year, we all can take time out from making and spending money, running here and there, and trying to have a good time, just to say, "Thank you."  I wish I had said thank you more often to my parents, but I can still say it to my husband, my children, my friends and neighbors, my pastors, the UPS man, rhe Schwan man, the guy who reads my gas meter! Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for all the threads you have sewn into my tapestry of living.  Thank you that the world is a better, more interesting place because of you.

A thankful heart is a heart at peace. For that reason, I thank God, for the peace that passes all understanding, for His unfailing love, for the abundant life He has given me.  A teacher of mine used to say, "God's prosperity is when all your needs are met and there is still enough left over to meet the needs of others."
Have a blessed and prosperous Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Not So Gentle Reminder

 Ten years ago today on November 12, 2005 a tornado destroyed several houses here and left the rest of our town looking like a combat zone. It had come as a surprise attack, arriving as it did in November when we are used to thinking more about blizzards than summer storms.  So it took a little time to convince the entire household that a trip to the basement might be in order.  I remember my father, who was living with us at the time, seemed quite content to stand and watch from the window in his bedroom. Barney, our big dog, hid not only because of the storm but because he didn't like stairs and wanted nothing to do with basements. Little Button was ready for me to carry him anywhere. To me it seemed that everyone was moving in slow motion, even my husband, whom I suspected was just humoring me. Then John McLaughlin, the weatherman on KCCI said, "Woodward, you have two minutes to get to the basement" and things did begin to happen.  Somehow we all made it to the basement before the freight train hit. And yes, it did sound like a freight train. There were no serious injuries in Woodward and the town did manage to rebuild and recover from all the damage. But the Woodward tornado will never be forgotten.

Lest we forget...
Yesterday once again we found ourselves in the path of a fierce storm, with almost the same point of origin, traveling nearly the same path as the Great Tornado of 2005. This time it was called a "radar identified rotation,"  and as far as I know, was never observed touching the ground. The winds that hit Woodward were also very strong and very loud, but the damage was far less intense.  Yet it seemed to me an eerie reminder.

I have a personal, more comforting reminder of that day. I call it my "Ebenezer Stone," and hardly a day passes that I don't look at it and remember.
The day before the big storm I had been reading in my morning devotions about a battle between the Israelites and the Philistines. When the Israelites cried to God for help, He sent a clap of thunder to the camp of the enemy, causing them to panic and run away in fear. Then Samuel, the judge and priest of Israel set up a special stone which he named "Ebenezer" because the Lord has brought us this far. For some reason,  I couldn't get this stone out of my mind. It kept invading my thoughts all day long.
Finally I decided to make one for myself.  Done in a hurry, not exactly a work of art.  But from the basement as the freight train was headed our way, I remembered the stone and all the trials God had brought us through before. We would be all right. If the house was destroyed and we lost everything, we would start over and we would be all right. If it all caved in on us, we would be together in Heaven and we would be all right. So we all just huddled together and prayed. And trusted. Now, whenever I see my stone I think of the day of the big tornado and I thank God that all three adults, plus two dogs and a cat, made it through safely. And, no matter what happens, we will be OK.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Jaguar of the Jungle, Acrylic Painting

Jaguar of the Jungle
Acrylic, 14 x 11

An exotic and beautiful animal, the Jaguar is little less known than some of his African relatives. Jaguars live in the rain forests of South and Central America and have also been seen on occasion  traveling the freeways near Los Angeles, California. (Sorry, I couldn't resist that one.)
My sightings have all been in zoos, which isn't the ideal - every artist agrees it is best to observe wildlife in their natural habitats - but it's the best I can do for right now.  Traveling the world and shooting wildlife with a camera ( and only a camera!) has always been a dream,  but it is still a dream, and with each passing year it seems a little less likely to become reality.  I do carry a sketchbook with me wherever I go - just in case. You never know.

This painting was my first attempt to express the spirit of this particular exotic cat. Usually I do big cats in pastel, as that medium just seems to lend itself to fur, especially when there are spots and other markings. For some reason this guy asked to be done in acrylic. I usually go by what they tell me. There is no analyzing it, maybe it is artist's intuition. I just go with the flow. He is a beautiful, incredibly well designed animal.  I love the texture of his fur, his amazing spots and especially his ears and whiskers. Like everything on earth, he is "fearfully and wonderfully made" and, as an artist, I stand in awe of his Creator.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Jaguar's namesake, who happens to be an automobile. The vehicle is described as being well built with sleek, low lines, beautiful color and lots of speed.  Well, that fits. So I googled cars named after cats and found there are at least forty, from cougars and pumas to kittens and pink panthers (that seems like a stretch.)  It would appear that people are fascinated by cats and want to identify with them.

 And I will put in a little plug here: If you have ever wanted to own a Jaguar, but thought you couldn't afford one, here is your chance.  This and many other paintings are available for sale in my online gallery.

The Creative Spirit Gallery, Art by Della Burgus