Friday, September 30, 2011

Monarch Butterflies - the Road Not Taken

It was a beautiful sight, but not exactly the one I had hoped to see.  A handful of Monarchs made their way to the Zinnia patch in the garden on September 19.  They were late, and much fewer in numbers than last year, when they covered all the trees and bushes in our yard and gardens.  I waited for the others to follow but they never appeared. Their times and routes do vary from year to year and as the temperatures began to lower, it became obvious we would not see the same spectacular show as last year.  I read on one of the Monarch websites (yes, they have several) that some people in Nebraska had seen the roosts as early as September 8, while others in northern states thought they were later than usual.  Frost and cold can affect their migration patterns, as can drought and flooding.

Glad to know they are still alive and well, though we won't see them in such great numbers as last summer when it looked like this:

"Butterfly Tree" photo taken on Sept. 6, 2010

Still, we enjoyed a quiet beauty, and that can be the best kind...

Photo taken on Sept. 19, 2011
Sometimes I can be so focused on finding the spectacular that I miss the beautiful.....

Have a great week end. Hope to see you next week with a new painting.   Hot air balloons - a completely new direction for me!   If it turns out, you will see it here,  and if not we will quietly move on and forget I ever mentioned it...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ebenezer, a Tornado, Philistines, and a Badly Painted Rock

This is not one of my more artistic efforts, and it wasn't designed to impress.  As a matter of fact I did it in a hurry with no intention of ever showing to anyone.  I remember the day very well, even though it was spent in the same way as so many that came before and after - in the studio and frame shop. I don't even remember what I was working on, but I do remember the date: November 11, 2005.  That morning I had been reading in 1 Samuel about the Israelites and the Philistines.  The Israelites had gathered in a place called Mizpah for a time of repentance and worship and when their enemies, the Philistines, heard of it they gathered their forces to attack. The people cried out to the Lord and He answered them, thundering from Heaven and throwing the enemy into confusion so that they were defeated by Israel.   Then Samuel,  Israel's priest, set up a stone at Mizpah and called its name "Ebenezer," because he said "the Lord has brought us this far."

For some reason, I could not get that story out of my mind.  Though I hadn't battled any actual Philistines at that time,  there were some formidable enemies that threatened me - things like health concerns, family worries, financial problems.  And I realized that, yes, "God had brought us this far," and that I needed a tangible reminder of that, something I could see every day.  Of course!  I needed an Ebenezer stone of my own. At the end of the day, when I finally decided it was no longer possible to put off this nagging feeling, I found a rock in the garden,  brought it in, and painted on it the words from the book of 1Samuel.   I set it on the filing cabinet in our studio where I could see it every day, but didn't dream how soon I would need its message.

The following day, a rare November  tornado hit our town.  Usually here in Iowa they reserve their terror for the summer months.  Because of modern technology, we were given just enough warning to get everyone into the basement, although it had been difficult to convince my then 95 year-old father that he couldn't stay and watch it through the big picture window in his room. Larry had gone back to get Barney the border collie who refused to go down the stairs by himself, so he had heard the "freight train" sound before I did.  He looked at me and said, "We are going to lose the house." It was at that moment that I remembered the rock sitting in our studio. and a feeling of peace came over me.  I thought, well we would have to start over. People do,  Or if the house came crashing in on us, as they sometimes do, well, then we would be in Heaven and none of this would matter.   Of, course. God had brought us this far, we could trust Him with the rest. 

The storm had come up our street but then veered off into a nearby field, wrecking  havoc where it traveled, and causing devastation in a couple of different areas of town.  But there were no deaths and, as far as I knew,  no really serious injuries.  We ended up with lots of debris and the loss of a couple of pine trees at our place.  Some people lost so much more, and their lives were changed forever, but at least they still had their lives, In the light of recent events in many parts of the country, it was not that significant, but at the time it was the end of the world.

Ebenezer Stone still sits on the filing cabinet but over the years it has become one of those things that is there, but I just don't actually see it, like background music or a seldom used piece of furniture. Until one day last week when suddenly its message jumped up at me and I remembered.  Once again, in the middle of different kind of "storm," I am reminded that God has brought us this far and he will not let us down now.  If you haven't already discovered this, there will always be storms of one kind or another, debris to dodge or Philistines to defeat.  If you aren't "going through" something right now, you will be soon. It is a fact of life  But for me at least, there is comfort in knowing that He is right there with me and He will always bring me through.  Til the next storm.

I once read something that was attributed to Mother Theresa.  She said, "I know that God promises not to give you any more than you can handle. I just wish sometimes He wouldn't trust me so much."
Be of good cheer, He will always bring us through.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wildlife Art Arctic White Wolf

White Wolf
Pastel, 9 x 12

Of course, I did not make a trip to the North Pole to see this guy.   Well, yes, I know they don't actually live at the North Pole but in Canada and Alaska and whatever other country is up there.  This one was in a zoo,  and I imagined the snow as a fitting background for him.  Somehow a white wolf surrounded by trees and green grass just doesn't do it for me.  I hope this hasn't taken away from the mystery of the piece.  He does look at home in a snowbank, doesn't he?   Actually there was a dog living next door to us for a while whose people called him a wolf but I was never quite sure.  He might have been a mixture.  But, oh my, what an amazing howl he had! And he was gorgeous!  Anyway,  though at this point I wouldn't be prepared to encounter one in the wild, I  appreciate their beauty and enjoy them from afar.  Very far.

This is a pastel painting on board.  The image size is 9 x 12 and it is matted to a standard frame size.
It is available through Art Helping Animals and Daily Painters.  And it will also be listed on Chisholm Trail Art, though I am almost certain none of the cowboys saw one of them while driving their cattle along the trail. 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Floral Art Dinner Plate Hibiscus

Exotic Beauty
"Dinner Plate" Hibiscus
Acrylic, 12 x 12

The huge, lush blooms of the hibiscus plants would seem to belong in a lush tropical setting rather than an ordinary Iowa garden, yet this beauty is growing right outside my door.  A few years ago we discovered that a hardy variety was available that could withstand the harsh Iowa winters.  It is one of those bushes that catch you by surprise. The first year we planted it - nothing. The second year there were a few small blooms.  leading us to decide we must have been mistaken about it being of the "dinner plate" variety.   Then, this summer, we were blessed with this unbelievable sight.  The flowers are a good 10 to 12 inches in diameter and we have been treated to a new one every day for several days now.  I am thinking that "dinner plate" may be an understatement, this may be the size of a frying pan, or maybe even a hub cap. But the idea of eating off a giant flower is a rather romantic one, so I won't mess with the name.

This flower just had to be painted and I had a wonderful time with it.  The contrast in colors, the crepe paper texture and the abstract patterns all appealed to me.  Think of it as reminder to look closely at things, everything - or you will miss something wonderful and unexpected! To me it is also a tribute to the Master Artist, the only original creator - all the rest of us either copy or respond to what He has done.  Every day I thank Him for His inspiration.
"...they toil not, neither do they spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

This acrylic painting has been listed online on Daily Painters, Art Helping Animals and Chisholm Trail Art.  For more information contact me: