I created this commissioned portrait three years ago! Amidst the return to teaching in the public schools, I realized that I never posted the final piece:
The goal was to surprise his wife and their mom with a garden portrait, but the timing - well, to meet the birthday deadline, I needed to begin in the middle of winter! So, on a cold, blustery morning in February, I met up with these three great kids and their dad (yes, also great!) at the Lincoln Park Conservatory's Spring Garden Show. Though indoors, the natural lighting of the conservatory provided the perfect opportunity to create an outdoor garden scene, in the middle of winter.
What a pleasure to greet these smiles and blooms in my studio during the gray winter days of Chicago!
For the past few months, I have gotten to work on several commissioned surprises.
I absolutely love being part of creating special gifts!
This painting was created as a going away present for our gifted and appreciated worship leader at our church. She and her husband recently moved from Chicagoland down to Texas. To express the beauty of this transition, there are Texas bluebonnets (Texas state flower), purple violets (Illinois state flower), pecan trees (Texas state tree), white oaks (Illinois state tree) and a few Indian Paintbrushes (which bloom in both Texas and Illinois). The painting is also inspired by Psalm 23, full of promises for this young couple during this transition and their future ahead.
Pulling all of these different components together into a cohesive piece was a challenge, but as is often the case, the process was a gift to me as well. Psalm 23 is such a popular passage, that I had begun to overlook its richness. I read and re-read the passage while I was constructing the painting's composition and again while I was working to balance the colors, values and shapes. Seriously, Psalm 23 is really good! It is loaded with references to God's character and the good gifts He offers.
These kids are amazing! They worked hard at looking and adjusting each line and shape without complaint. Mixing colors and developing the lights and darks came with their choice of oil or dry pastel.
Beyond the gorgeous results, the best part of this project for me was the students' discovery of how cool daffodils are! After carefully observing them, they were excited to notice them blooming all over town!
Who knew that a random variety of jars and bottles from the refrigerator could look so good?!
The challenges here included drawing each different shape (harder than it looks.), positioning each container on the table (some higher, some lower, some tucked behind others) to show depth on a flat piece of paper, and using good colored pencil technique to the very end (requires patience!).
For color, we ignored the 'real' colors and students began with one main (favorite) color and then chose a color harmony (complementary, analogous, secondary) to complete their work.
Mixing and balancing colors were part of the fun, too!
I have been struggling with titles and words lately, so I asked my friends on my Facebook page to share their thoughts and insights.
What a great idea! :)
Those who shared caught the essence of what began to surface during the painting process AND gave me a deeper appreciation for what was happening on the canvas.
With their permission (Thank you!), here are a couple of those comments:
"What stands out to me is not the pink in the flowers but rather the seeds in the center. It makes me think of how those "seeds" create new life and beauty." - Jonathan
"The flowers shown are in a progression from immature to mature, so mature was the first thing I thought of...process, growth, maturation, but I also see self-confidence and joy and self-assurance. That flower in the front is like a matriarch...confident and sure." - Mary
To leave a legacy - A life-giving, beautiful legacy...
To sow seeds and intentionally invest in the next generation...
Sounds like a life (a day!) well lived.
Please share your own responses - they are such a gift!
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'Stand' is a conversation with God, much like the one recorded here in Exodus. I have cried out, "If You don't go with me, I can't do what You want me to do!" And it is such food for my soul (food that enables me to stand, to press forward) to believe God is saying back to me, "I will go with you, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name." (Psalm 139)
I actually re-worked an earlier version of this painting.
Here's a peak at the previous painting and my references laid out before me on my drawing table.
In September, I got the gumption to begin painting this years' ornaments. I have now painted over 75 so far...
It's been fun to paint on miniature 2x2in. canvases, celebrating a bit of Christmas with each one.
Here's a small sampling:
To see available ornaments for purchasing, click on the link: http://www.dawneaton.com/hand-painted-ornaments.html
This year I also began creating personalized ornaments for babies, kids, families and young couples - How I wish I could show you those! (But I can't risk spoiling any surprises!) Here are my sketches though - inspired by 2 babies in our small group at church, who will celebrate their first Christmas this year.
If this sparks an idea for a gift, contact me by December 10th! (that's tomorrow!) Art.firstname.lastname@example.org
I have also been celebrating on 2 1/2 x 3 1/2in. and 3x3in. canvases - and setting them on miniature easels. http://www.dawneaton.com/miniature-paintings.html
I LOVE being part of surprises and giving special gifts!
I have a few larger paintings waiting in the wings - I look forward to sharing them with you in January. :)
I hope you are finding creative ways to celebrate the Season!
Although I do stop and smell the roses (Really, I do.) and take photographs - up until now, I hadn't stopped to paint them.
But then my friend, Dorota, commissioned me to paint a picture for her - a rose.
I consider 'Fragrant Beauty' a portrait of Dorota in the form of a flower.
The passionate red, the layers of color, the flowing lines and the light shining through - Beauty...Dorota.
This lovely woman is the owner and sole beautician at DKN Salon in Glen Ellyn, IL. We met 3 years ago when my family moved to the area. During my first few appointments, other clients stopped in to just to say hello or to bring Dorota gifts. I thought to myself, "Don't these people have lives?"
Well...now I understand. When you enter DKN, it's like being invited into Dorota's home. I am greeted with a hug and a "How are you, My Friend?" - I doubt that I am the only one. :) She offers coffee, tea, wine, water and european candies. She works her magic and our conversation begins.
I am inspired by Dorota's life story: leaving her home country of Poland in her late teens, living in Germany for a couple of years as a young bride, moving to the United States, having 2 boys, then raising them as a single mom - and owning her own business. I am blessed by Dorota's warmth, generosity, servant heart, strength, openness to learning, faith and character.
A fragrant beauty.
Fall II - Drawing Class
These kids amaze me.
I was commissioned to paint a thistle as a special thank you gift. The painting is inspired by the family's ranch in Texas - Thistle Dew Ranch.
I had actually zoomed in and taken some photos of thistles over a year ago. I was excited to pull those out, observe and paint all those points and patterns and colors and textures...and then the dew drops! :)
I did a little research on the Texas Thistle: It is heat and drought resistant (reminds me of the truths found in Jeremiah 17:7,8) and provides for Painted Lady butterflies, bumblebees, and goldfinches.
I was personally struck by a simple statement I read: the thistle is "commonly recognized for its flower". It is known for its flower - the bloom - the beauty... not by its spikey ends (which do provide protection against hungry cattle).
The thistle, in all it's intricacy, is a reminder...Creator God sees me as He created me. He knows me by my "bloom". Psalm 139.
I've been reflecting on my recent trip to Fort Riley, Kansas and my heart is FULL.
I had the privilege of spending a morning and an evening with the women in PWOC at Fort Riley, Kansas. I had the opportunity to stand in front of a group of about 100 women (in the a.m.) who's families are currently stationed on the army post at Fort Riley.
I still feel quite humbled and honored!
I shared what God has been showing me about Himself - through the exquisite beauty He creates, out of the dirt. We then took time to connect with our Creator through drawing and painting on tiles.
Just look at the unique beauty pouring out of each woman!
Although I am most naturally comfortable behind the scenes, opportunities have been 'appearing' to share with different groups (Decorah Covenant Church women's Bible study, Iowa; Antioch Women's Retreat, Wheaton, IL; Thomas Jefferson School, Hoffman Estates, IL & now Fort Riley, KS) In the moment, I don't often think to take pictures & share (getting better, though!).
"The world is full of magic things
patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper."
- WB Yeats
When we stop to observe what is in front of us - taking time to study it so that we can capture it on paper - we are sharpening our senses. We discover what we would normally pass by.
Our appreciation grows for the 'magic' that surrounds us.
My 1st through 5th grade students rose to the challenge of drawing from life. It can be easier to draw from a photo. The view is cropped for us and what is 3-dimensional has already been translated to a 2-dimensional image. The landscape (a view from my backyard) was especially challenging - but SO good for stretching our observational skills!
Click on the image for a larger (and complete) view.
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