Dear friends —
As I write this art update, the weather forecast for those of us in the Mid-Atlantic is “cold”. And other than one recent Sunday where the temperature soared to the 50s, it’s pretty much been winter here.
The notion of spring break is very appealing right now. Somewhere that doesn’t require a winter coat and the flowers are blooming.
Can you say… Alexandria, Virginia?
Okay, while I realize that Alexandria is not an obvious choice for spring break, it’s a place where there are two upcoming events that will warm your soul with art. Yes, art. It takes us out of the immediate and into a transcendent place. Imagine spring, for instance.
On Saturday evening, March 14th, the Vander Zee Studio Painters will host our 10th annual art auction and will prove to be our best based on the quality of paintings that will be on the auction block. This is the group of artists I paint with every Tuesday and the auction is our annual fundraising event for our art foundation. You can bid on beautiful paintings and enjoy an artful evening at our gallery in Old Town located at 108 S. Lee Street on the top floor.
And then on March 19th, fellow artist Eric Nelson and I will be hosting an art exhibit titled “A Breath of Spring” at Eric’s wine, chocolate and art shop in Alexandria (506 John Carlyle Drive, just off Duke Street in Old Town, Alexandria). The art we’re each featuring focuses on themes of spring.
So you see… you can go on spring break locally and tan your soul with art.
I will send invitations soon for those events… for now, I hope you’ll mark your calendar and come along on these “spring breaks”.
Dear friends –
Have you ever noticed that our life speed picks up as we round the corner from summer to fall and from fall into the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons? Invariably, our “to do” lists become longer and our calendars fuller.
And it’s just at that moment there is a sort of tipping point in our awareness of nature. Our ears become more attuned to ringing phones and cars in traffic than the morning song of wrens and robins and cardinals. Our eyes become more focused on texts and emails and screens than the pleasures of birds in flight and nature putting on her fall coat of yellows and oranges and reds.
I’m as guilty as anyone of crossing the tipping point. Thankfully, the need to fill a blank white canvas that’s staring me in the face brings me back out of the world’s zone and into nature’s serenade. And what a double gift it is! I gain ideas for those blank canvases and I experience the moments of peace that creation so uniquely provides.
Here’s to each of us claiming back moments every day to enjoy nature’s serenade.
And, here’s hoping that you can join me at the Double Blessing Holiday Gift Party on Sunday, Nov. 9 from 2-4pm at the Campagna Center in Alexandria, Virginia. I’ll have an exhibit of my original paintings, new art mugs, art cards and my 2015 art calendar. There also will be over 20 different artists, authors and vendors selling a range of beautiful crafts, jewelry, clothing and more! For more information, contact Lindsay Hutter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a question artists grapple with every time they paint or compose or write. Whatever an artist’s medium, we are sourcing from something to create. It could be memories. It could be new experiences. It could be hopes and dreams.
For my creations on canvas, I am most often drawing from what I have seen in nature. Recently I visited the Bull Run Bluebell Walk, a regional park near Centreville, Virginia. For history buffs, you will recognize the name as the site of a famous Civil War battle. Nature has shown redemptive powers there, because today it is a beautiful wooded area that is aglow with blue bells.
In life, and particularly our everyday moments, we also draw on source material. How do we respond to life’s joy’s? to life’s disappointments? to life’s challenges? My own responses are almost always a consequence of my “source material’ … the beliefs, faith and hope that I choose to believe and let guide my life and everyday decisions — or — the all too human fear or anxiety that can enter one’s mind. Whether painting or simply going through my day, I have learned that the outcome is always better when I draw from positive sources.
Here’s to being intentional about our source material … and enjoying the breathtaking source material of spring!
“The most important question of any generation is how will the next generation live.”
While I’d like to claim that guiding truth, those were the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoken over 60 years ago in the midst of World War II. They are as true today as they were then.
We all have a way of supporting the next generation, whether it’s encouraging them to pursue peace and reconciliation in the midst of tensions with families or friends, or to honor other cultures and faiths in this world of diversity.
My own small role is to encourage the students of Alexandria’s Campagna Center programs to know and love art through bookmarks of my paintings. Art can transcend what’s evil and unkind and help us focus on what’s beautiful and caring. It inspires empathy, understanding and reflection. It’s why I feel such joy seeing these little children from the Campagna Center receive my bookmarks as rewards when they progress in their reading.
Here’s to what each of us can do to help the next generation live well.
One of 2013’s gifts for me was an extraordinary sunrise this summer when I was in Coronado, California. It emerged gently and quietly lit the sky over the Laguna Mountains with translucent blends of yellows and blues, and then just rested there as if to say “Sit with me. Enjoy me. And take my peace with you today.”
The scene was so remarkable it just had to be painted… and here it is. It’s titled Peaceful Rising.
Sunrises have an invitation to them — to be still, reflect and prepare our hearts and minds for the day ahead. I sometimes wonder if the world — far and wide and near and close-by — might be a more peaceful, loving place if people had more moments of reflection.
Wherever this finds art update finds you as the new year rings in, I wish you many peaceful risings in 2014.
So… how many of us might admit that we’d just as soon go through our days and weeks peacefully in our comfort zones? That’s right. The place where we control what happens, when it happens and how it happens so the temperature of our life never breaks a fever. Where we never cross the line of being stretched to try something that has us feeling vulnerable or all thumbs.
This fall I attended an art workshop led by renowned American portrait artist Nancy Seamons Crookston. It was my first attempt at portrait painting and yes, I was definitely outside my artistic comfort zone.
How would I describe the feeling? Let’s start with humbled. Add in stimulating. And round if off with challenged and a little scary.
But most of all, I loved being stretched. It was exhilarating once I got past the contours of my comfort zone. And it left me with this thought – where am I stretched in life and even more so, where am I willing to be stretched in life?
Maybe there are some stretches in your life that will exhilarate you. I hope so.
Speaking of being stretched, we’re on the eve of two big holidays. As you consider the decision of gifts, I invite you to attend a Double Blessing Holiday Gift Party on Sunday, Nov. 24. Held at the home of Lindsay Hutter in Alexandria, this party is showcase of gifts made by artists such as me and artisans from here in the Washington, DC area to all around the world. Many of the organizations participating support women and families in under-developed countries that are marginalized and desperate for base needs. This is a wonderful opportunity to bless the creators of the gifts that will be displayed and offered for sale as well as the recipients of your gifts. I’ve attached an invitation to this party and hope that you can come or support it online.
Here’s to stepping into our stretch.
Dear friends —
Throughout the year, most of us are at work on a canvas of some sort. As an artist, I’m before the easel with my paint brushes to try to create beauty. Teachers stand before their students to try to help them learn. Doctors stand before their patients to try to help them heal, and the list goes on.
Summer is a time when we can step back and look at the bigger canvas — the one of our lives. Having just returned from a summer in Coronado, California, and a treasured time of rest and reflection, I am reminded anew of just how much art is taking place in people’s lives. Some are splashing their life canvases with new experiences and new relationships. Others are at a beginning with blank canvas, mustering the courage to paint a new life. And still others are putting more layers on a familiar scene.
Something I have learned in art as well as life is that everything currently on the canvas needn’t be permanent. It can be changed… it can be painted over… it can become something different. Oh, if you could see the underneath layers of most paintings you would be amazed at the paintings that “didn’t become”!
Wherever life finds you as we turn our calendars to autumn, I wish you imagination for the canvas of life you are painting. Let the fall leaves that change from vibrant greens to robust oranges and yellows be your inspiration.
Dear friends —
Every day, our paths cross with someone who is being courageous whether we are aware of it or not. It could be a person in a new job, trying to learn new skills while overcoming their insecurity and trying to please the customers and their boss. It could be a person standing next to us in the supermarket line who is battling an illness, trying to sustain their spirits in the face of pain and uncertainty. It could be a recent high school graduate starting college, trying to be courageous as they leave home, move into a dorm and enter a whole new world.
Courage comes in many forms. So often we are so focused on our priorities and agenda that we miss these little moments of courage in action. For artists, the need for courage comes when we are exhibiting our work. There it is… naked before the world, our friends and others that have come to view it. Each exhibit I participate in brings me closer to seeing courage in other people. The need for courage in our own situations has a way of breeding an awareness of what others may be going through in their lives.
Pictured here is my painting, The Path. It reminds me of something the commencement speaker at my granddaughter’s high school graduation said last week, and also the point of being aware of others and their moments of courage as we are journeying through life —
“It’s important to have goals but more important to keep your eye on the path rather than the goal.”
To all those who came to my recent exhibit at River Farm in Alexandria, Va., thank you for the encouragement you gave me. To those who purchased my paintings, may they bring you joy and peace.
One final comment about the word “courage”. It comes from the Latin word cor, which means “heart.” So, a courageous act is an act coming from the heart.
Here’s to going through each day befriending courage — wherever we see it.
Dear friends –
Thank you for your encouragement of my art, your attendance at various art events these last few years and your support of my new exhibit – The Elegance of Spring at River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia.
The Opening Reception for The Elegance of Spring exhibit this past Saturday was absolutely delightful! The beautiful spring weather and sunshine put an extra sparkle on the art and we had a steady flow of guests as you can see from these photos.
Support of the arts is vital not just to encourage artists that you may know like me, but also to enrich our culture. I had the privilege of hearing Yo-Yo Ma last week, the accomplished cellist, when he delivered the Nancy Hanks Lecture for the Americans for the Arts Conference in Washington, DC. You could have heard a pin drop as he discussed the role of arts in cultivating collaboration, imagination and innovation in our culture. And to bring his messages to life, he brought on stage several different musical performers to join him in various tunes. They were all outstanding, but none so moving as the six very wounded veterans who joined him on stage to perform. Ma calls himself a “venture culturalist” – it’s very apt as he is investing and sharing his extraordinary gifts and fame to stimulate the role of arts in contributing to a vibrant society.
I could go on and on about it, but I think you will be more touched by seeing it for yourself. Here is a link to his presentation. It’s about one hour in length… but I promise you – it will be worth every minute of watching it.
On behalf of all artists, thank you for encouraging us.