Earlier this week I had the pleasure of teaching landscape painting to a few groups of girls just down the road at Camp Illahee. The campers visit from all over the country so we focused on mountain landscapes like the ones surrounding them here in Western North Carolina. I was so impressed with how well their paintings turned out!
Wild Gardens available June 18th
Summer is a strange bird - always highly anticipated and idealized, and perhaps rightfully so if you were lucky enough to grow up with summer vacations where typical days included running through sprinklers, eating seven ice pops for breakfast, and having your day made when someone's mom ordered a round of Papa Johns delivered to the neighborhood pool for lunch. That was my experience for a few glorious years of early life. But time went on, and eventually we got jobs and schedules, and a summer calendar became indistinguishable from that of Spring, Fall, and Winter.
Today I find my summer overflowing with activities, responsibilities, deadlines, internal debates, and demands. Only thinking about this now do I remember the multitude of summer mornings spent doing yard work and household chores before I was released to charge barefoot down the hot asphalt of Princeton Corners Lane straight into the deep end of the pool. Yet I still long for that illusive feeling of summer. Of course, seasons look different for each participant, but I'm beginning to think this supposedly light and carefree time of the year can coexist with a little extra work.
The shift I'm trying to make is instead of forcing summer to be a perfect friend filled with only laughter and no strain or anxiety or struggle and being disappointed when she falls short, just accept the season as a reminder that life always returns. After winter, darkness, exhaustion, whatever it is. Life always returns. The sun always rises. And what better reminder than a world bursting with greenery, flowers, afternoon thunderstorms, tomatoes, drenched in hot sunshine, and work that is a gift - good and gratifying. All of these things exist together.
These little paintings embody such a reminder. They are abstracted, not as neat and tidy as our memory tells us things used to be. But they are packed with tiny details - little moments and marks that carry a feeling, an emotion, a story. A slash of color, wildflowers that thrive amongst tangled weeds, and a blue sky.
So whether yours is turning out to be one of hustle and forced energy, or lazy poolside naps, I hope your summer serves as a reminder that life returns. I, for one, will be seeking tiny affirmations tucked in the cracks, that yes, as with every year before and every year to follow, life has followed death, the grass has returned to green, the sun is still burning, afternoon thunderstorms will always make the world feel cozy, and this, too, with all its varied complexities, is a season to embrace.
These three paintings are heading to Anne Irwin Fine Art soon!
30" x 40"
More & Merrier
48" x 48"
48" x 60"
Painting these garden scapes has been an unexpected source of experimentation and delight for me over the past month or so. I'm always drawn to the intersection of abstraction and representation, and these wild gardens carry the energy of free abstract gestural marks while still holding a sense of place and curiosity.
Mark your calendars for Tuesday, June 19th, when I will have a handful of these gardens available online!
These two paintings are on their way to Anne Irwin Fine Art in just a couple days!
We've Come a Long Way 36" x 36"
Drift & Float 36" x 48"
And in case you missed it, these were delivered earlier in the month...
A favorite activity as of late: Sitting on a rock in the middle of the river and sketching the nearby foliage. As one does.
There's the cold and glittery water rushing around my wader-clad legs, the occasional flip-and-splash of a hungry trout, and a roaring current swiftly carrying thousands of tiny white petals down stream to who knows where.
Then with the slightest upward tilt of the gaze, everything is still. The trees arching over the water are so quiet, so subtle in contrast to the wild water at their roots. Just happily observing, unphased by the chaos. Every now and then fluttering their leaves. The whole scene - it's the most complementary thing I know at the moment.
But aside from the therapeutic and meditative nature of it all, these little paintings of isolated branches and flowers are starting to fill up my sketchbooks, and I'm excited to see what comes of it.
A couple recent color schemes:
This past weekend I had the pleasure of being a part of the Lake Oconee Food & Wine Festival, a fundraiser for some local charities I support and was involved with when I was in college just down the road. It was a beautiful day, I met many lovely people, enjoyed all kinds of aforementioned food & wine, and several paintings found new homes! My favorite part of the set-up had to be the oil paintings of Native American chiefs hanging behind my bright little garden set-up. Cohesive, right?