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No more dilly-dallying! And no more hemming, hawing or pussyfooting around! There's a BIG Art Idea waiting for you—what are you waiting for?

 

I know, I know .... You probably have a long list of very reasonable reasons for waiting. Your art couldn't possibly be important enough to make a contribution to the world. You're not good enough yet. You don't have the time. And, besides, you don't know what to do. I know, I've heard all of these (whining) excuses before. Heck! I've used them all before!

 

Your reasons are wrong! I'm here to tell you, that as reasonable as they may be, your reasons are all wrong! The only thing these reasonable reasons are good for is postponing your fulfillment (and, of course, you are free to do this for as long as you want). That said, I know there is an Art Idea that's waiting for you to step up and give it expression. There's an Art Idea waiting for you to discover it that will utilize your unique gifts, talents and situation in life to bring forth a new creation. So, no excuses! No dilly-dallying! Time's a-wastin.' Stop dabbling and get on your purpose now!

 

How? My new format Summer Workshop What's Your BIG Idea? (A Kick in your BUTS) is designed to deal with whatever gets in the way of you discovering and doing the creative work your soul longs for you to do. The next workshop is August 20-23. In those 4 days, you will clarify what really matters at this point in your life and, using art exercises and group energy, intuit a project to manifest the BIG Idea that is seeking expression through you at this time. You are free to work in the medium of your choice—paint, music, writing, etc. No excuses. Just do it!

 

My facilitation is based on years of training and practice in harnessing the forces of creation in service to all kinds of ideas, from pioneering a church to writing books to building a successful art career to producing a music CD. As I've observed in myself and others, learning to deal with resistance is paramount. What's Your BIG Idea? shows you how your particular form of resistance can work for you, not against you. You will learn what you need to do next and do what it takes to assure that you will do it!


So, if your stuck with your art-making or feeling glum about the state of the world, consider investing 4 days exploring What's Your BIG Idea? As your BUTS get kicked out of the way, you'll be free to take a powerful step into making the difference you were created to make!

 

Please note: This is not a painting instruction workshop. With retreat-like elements, you'll explore personal material and you'll be invited to share with the other participants. To get the most from the experience, plan to limit social obligations during the 4 days of the workshop.

 

Enrollment is limited to 10 participants. As soon as you pay the $450 fee, you'll begin receiving material to work with immediately.  Use the PayPal menu below to register NOW!

Ellie Harold 4-Day Studio Workshops
August session (4 days) $450.00 USD

Questions? Contact me by email.

 

I look forward to kicking your BUTS! Let's do it!

 

Ellie

 

Here's what one participant in the June, 2019 workshop had to report from her experience:  

 

My inner voices told me to come, so I did. It was indeed a good thing. Your work inspires me. Your words provided information, authentic advice, and affirmation. Your energy is contagious and your punctuality is enviable. Your environment invites spontaneous creativity .... The workshop was timely for me because I have been in a cycle of reflection and thinking-about-doing for some time, while learning to live a new life full of new people and opportunities. The workshop required me to commit to doing. I needed that .... The structure for accountability ... will help me to stay on track.                                                     —LDP

 


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Chaotic Goodness 60" x 72" oil/canvas

 

I no longer teach painting classes. Why? Well, I've seen a lot of aspiring artists get lost in the quest to become "good enough" to qualify as a "real" artist. Even after years of study, they suffer from a lack of confidence and plod along, hopeful that one day they will get it right. While there's a place for learning technique, I beleive too much skills-based instruction can actually prevent an artist's authentic art from revealing itself. Fussing over small projects, aspiring artists often miss the real art that wants to be made. As in my own art, my teaching now wants to be in service to a larger idea of artistic fulfillment. So, I've redesigned my Summer Workshops!

Why make art? It's been my impression that a lot of my past students, although enthusiastic, haven't understood why they wanted to learn to paint. Like me some 16 years ago now, they were game to give it a try and, if they enjoyed it, keep on. At some point, however, boredom would set in. Or frustration. When the going gets tough and understanding is in short supply, motivation falters and it's impossible to hold distractions at bay. Many women, especially, seem to lose focus when household tasks or domestic responsibilities beckon. Those of retirement age often find a bucket list more appealing than the Muse, especially when the Muse isn't as entertaining as she used to be. Why should I paint, they ask? And then they don't.

 

Passion + Persistence = Creation. I spend a lot time reading and thinking about creating. It seems that artists who understand why they create tend to be more passionate about their work. They get up in the morning  to address their creations, whether or not they feel like it. It doesn't matter what medium an artist works in: There's always a canvas on the easel, a sheet of music on the piano, or a story in their laptop. It's not a matter of merely wanting to create--they are compelled to do so. Indeed they seem pulled by their purpose to make the Art that's in them to make. Then, they persist until their creation manifests.

 

Discover and harness the power of your passion. My new workshop focus shows you why and how you can mobilize resources you already have to make the art that wants to be made by you. You will not only work in your medium, but you'll also engage with specific exercises to find clues to your artistic purpose. As you become conscious of your compelling reason for making Art, we'll work together to create meaningful goals. Clear and accurate feedback from me and others in the group will help you identify potential stumbling blocks and proven strategies for addressing them. You'll leave the workshop with a fresh perspective and a dynamic approach to the rest of your art life. It's really not that difficult--you just have to do it!

 

Summer Workshops. I'm hosting two workshops this summer in my Studio & Gallery: 3 Day June 26, 27, 28 and 4 Day August 20, 21, 22, 23. There's also a 3 Day residential Intuitive Art Retreat at the Franciscan Life Process Center.

 

If you have questions about whether these workshops would be a good fit for you,  please send me an email. And, if you already know this is what you need, go ahead and register now using the PayPal button below.

 

I look forward to hearing from you! I want you to make your art!

 

Ellie

 

Register here! Please use drop-down menu to select the June or August sessions, or both.  

 

 

Ellie Harold 3 & 4-Day Studio Workshops
June Session (3 days) $350.00 USD August session (4 days) $450.00 USD Both Sessions (7 days) $700.00 USD



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With the delivery last week of the CD album, Phase One of BIRDS FLY IN: A Human Refuge Project is officially complete. I am so proud of this collaborative achievement! But I know many of my collectors and fans may be wondering: How (and why) did an American visual artist (me!) become the producer of an album for a Mexican musician? Here's how it happened:

 

I first heard David Mendoza play violin in San Miguel de Allende, MX in April, 2018. At the time, stressed over migration issues in my country, I found myself weeping. Even though I was not particularly a fan of violin music, I had never been so powerfully affected by a performance. I later described it in a blog post as "sublime."

 

A few months later, when I wanted music to accompany an art installation I had in mind, I sought out David to introduce myself and my idea. With neither of us fluent in the other's language -- David's English far surpasses my Spanish and we both rely on translation apps -- we tackled an artistic project in which communication is paramount. A shared vision inspired us to fly over, around and, at times, through language, cultural, generational and gender differences that have caused others to stumble. Our successful collaboration bears witness to what can happen when people choose to build bridges, not walls.

 

As soon as David started sending me musical sketches, I painted exclusively to his intriguing music which features piano and drums as well as his unique violin sound. Unlike other music I'd previously used, I never tired of it. For four months, hour after hour, day by day, my brush danced intuitively to the rhythm, pattern and color of the 8 tracks on his album. As a result of this collaboration, 20 large and varied avian-themed oil paintings now exist as visual analogs of David's aural creation that together form the basis of the BIRDS FLY IN: A HUMAN REFUGE installation.

 

Genre? David's music is difficult to categorize. Certainly, it has Classical roots but there's also a fair share of Rock. New Age? Maybe. However, while the music invites healing, it's never only pleasantly ambient. Rich layers of instrumentation, piercingly beautiful melodies, and unexpected phrasing all combine to create a sound universe in which the longing heart is not merely pacified but awakened. Listening, you may dip to soul depths, only to swoop up refreshed, energized, even joyful. Along with the birds of the air, you too might "fly free to love."

 

I commissioned David to compose and perform a soundtrack for a specific project. I soon realized, however, the 65+ minutes of mostly instrumental music deserved a life of its own and decided to publish and distribute the Birds Fly In CD. Last month back in San Miguel, David and I listened for the first time to the entire mixed version of the album. Once again, I wept. Because of its healing qualities, I firmly believe this music belongs, not only in museums or other art venues, but also in the world at large where it will move others as I have been moved.

 

I'm privileged beyond words to have been instrumental in producing this album. So, while David has personally dedicated this album to his loving family, we both know it exists to include and uplift our entire human family.

 

For this reason, I invite you: Listen, listen, and listen again to these heart-full songs and experience their power, magic and joy! Stop by the Studio & Gallery to get your copy, or order using PayPal with immediate shipping. If you don't do PayPal, send me a check!

 

With much gratitude for your ongoing interest and support,

 

Ellie

 

P.S. The colorful CD package includes a BONUS 8-page booklet featuring images of my paintings as well as the ekphrastic poetry of 5 Michigan writers who used the music and art as their inspiration.

 

P.P.S. You can hear "Ana Cecilia," one of David's songs, in this 5 minute video about Birds Fly In.

 


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A KICK IN YOUR BUTS

Upcoming Workshops:

JUNE 26, 27, 28 and AUGUST 20, 21, 22, 23


Do you struggle to find time or motivation to Do Your Art? You know, the art you want to make, the art you know you should make, the art you don't ever seem to get around to actually making?

 

I know, you really you want to but you really don't have time; you know you should but you can't for all the best reasons. In order to get their art made, we artists have to contend with our buts.

 

Maybe it's time to give yourself a kick in your "buts!"


This summer I'm offering 2 Summer Workshops; the first session is 3 days long (June 26-28). The second session runs for 4 days (Aug. 20-23). While in the past, my summer Open Studio workshops have focused on oil painting, I'm now offering a new format for ARTISTS WORKING IN ANY MEDIUM.

 

What's next in your Art Life? The new Summer Workshops aim to support your desire for a dedicated art life. A new format invites you to attend to the intuitive unfolding of your creative process. In individual and group work, you'll address topics such as Living Your Art on Purpose; Art & the Meaning of Life; Making the Most of Creative Blocks; Diving Deeper into Your Art; and Care-taking vs. Art-Making.

 

Each session is designed to give you a structure in which to deepen your relationship to your art through focused discussion, art practice, and self-developed accountability. You will also have space in which to do your art using the medium of your choice. Please note, the Summer Workshops are not instructional workshops. Instead, they are an opportunity to engage with art-making, receive support and encouragement, and deepen commitment to your art life. You will be supported in creating a specific art project that extends beyond the workshop session.

 

A beautiful place to work. The Summer Workshop is held in and around my Studio & Gallery in our renovated 1895 home where I live and work with my husband Roo. You'll find this art-dedicated environment is particularly conducive to the work we'll be doing together. While you'll stay elsewhere, you're welcome to enjoy our home for the duration of each Summer Workshop day.

 

Each day a new creation. To begin, we'll meet as a group for a discussion of the day's focus. There will be both dedicated individual practice and group process periods. We'll end at 4:30 p.m., giving you up to 7 full hours each day devoted to exploring your art life and doing your art. We'll take a break at midday and you can enjoy lunch at a local eatery or eat picnic-style on our porch.

 

Artists working in any medium welcome. There's plenty of space in which to do your art! If you're a painter, you can work in the open air garage space, or in the upstairs studio. If you're a writer, you'll find quiet spots conducive to writing. Let us know if you have specific space requirements and we will work to accommodate your needs. Participation is limited to 10 artists.

 

Registration is required.   Payment of the fee will hold your place in either or both of the Open Studio Workshop sessions. The fee is $350 for the June session and $450 for the August Open Studio.  To register, please read the Cancellation Policy  and use the PayPal button below. Note special pricing if you select both sessions. 

 

Cancellation Policy: Contact me as soon as possible if you must cancel and we will discuss your options. No refunds within 30 days of the beginning of the workshop for which you are registered.

 

I hope you'll join me for what promises to be an enriching and inspiring experience. Questions? Please contact me now.

With warm encouragement,


Ellie

 

Register here! Please use drop-down menu to select the June or August sessions, or both.  

 

Ellie Harold 3 & 4-Day Studio Workshops
June Session (3 days) $350.00 USD August session (4 days) $450.00 USD Both Sessions (7 days) $700.00 USD



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Somewhere in the middle of my recent Art Retreat for Women in San Miguel de Allende, I found myself compelled to read this favorite piece by William Hutchinson Murray aloud to the group of 12 women:

Until one is committed, these is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

I've had several weeks to reflect on the meaning this writing has for me at this particular time in my life. (Timing is everything, or so they say!) And, while I'm sure there are other, perhaps deeper clues to be mined from my contemplation, I'm struck by my awareness that I literally would not be sitting where I am—in an airy, light, bird-infused space in the heart of Mexico—had I not committed to pursue my art life in a dedicated fashion almost exactly ten years ago.

Beginning when I was 52, I painted as a happy amateur, making still life and then outdoor landscape paintings. I enjoyed teaching myself the basics. With practice, I refined my skills with until the paintings I made pleased me on a regular basis. As I painted I was also keeping an eye out for my mom who, in her nineties, also enjoyed my artistic endeavors. Then, one afternoon while I was at work at my easel, I received a call from mom's assisted living place. This turned out to be the call, the unthinkable but not unanticipated one that announced what turned out to be a fatal fall for my mother. She was now 96 1/2.

I dropped my brush and rushed to her side. I never gave painting another thought until my mother had made her transition a week later. Family came and went, her memorial service was done, but the white roses my sister and niece had placed on our little mom-altar remained. I couldn't bear to see them drop their petals so I made what seemed at the time like an immense effort to paint them. And then I collapsed into my grief.

Shortly after mom died I learned I had not been accepted as Artist In Residence at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a position I'd applied for before mom fell. The letter had some nice words about my painting and said I'd been chosen as a First Alternate. I breathed a sigh of relief. I didn't feel like painting ever again. What was the point?

Instead, we packed up our cat and headed to Michigan to camp in the derelict house we'd purchased six months earlier with no immediate plans to occupy. The foundation creaked, the plumbing didn't work and a bat in the attic made nightly appearances. I hid myself under the covers while Spotty yowled and Roo set out with a towel to capture our mini-Dracula. Loss was my constant companion—I called it the Grief Monster as I tried without success to keep it at bay. Then, in early August, came another call, this one from the National Lakeshore. The first choice A-I-R was unable to fill the position, would I be available to come in September for the three-week stint?

No way, I said. I was grief-stricken. I hadn't been painting. I simply couldn't. I'll reapply next year. Thanks very much for thinking of me. Goodbye!

I can only wonder where I might be if I hadn't been prompted by my husband and sister to reconsider the offer. But their suggestion that  three weeks of dedicated painting might be just what I needed has made all the difference in the world. As much as I balked at it, they were absolutely right. And, once I called to accept the residency, it was just as that William Murray describes:

Those three weeks revealed to me the truth of my calling to be an artist. Although the Grief Monster stayed with me for another year and a half, I learned that I didn't have to feel good to be able to fulfill that calling. All I had to do was show up at the easel and paint. At the end of that residency, I'd created 17 good-sized plein air oil paintings I showed in a wet paint exhibit. I'd called together 15 artists for a paint-out at the farm where I was lodged. I'd given a powerful talk about my life and art. In fact, so much happened I could not imagine having energy for, it did seem like magic.

Now, ten years later, my dedicated art purpose continues to pull me into new situations I rarely feel equal to—until I'm there and find that I am! (For example, I would never have dreamt of being a music producer. Yet, in the past six months I have in fact commissioned original music to be composed for my Birds Fly In: A Human Refuge art installation and the album by David Mendoza will be released within a few weeks!) Feelings of inadequacy still occasionally suck me into a slough of despond.  The fact that I committed to this art path, however, means I'm always shown the way out, as intuitive clues point the way to greater satisfaction.

I love conjuring up the magic of commitment! Because I get so much from providing inspiration, support and accountability to others, I have offered my Summer Workshop Series for 5 years running. If you want to experience what a dedicated art life might mean to you, I invite you to join with me this June or August, or both. In these workshops,  you'll have 3 (June) or 4 (August) full days to immerse yourself in the medium of your choice. If you're a painter, you'll paint; if you're a writer, you'll write; if you're a musician, you'll play! Not only that, you'll receive the kind of individual and group support, encouragement and the occasional kick in the seat of your pants that will make a huge difference in your art-making and life.

Not sure? Of course you're not! No one ever is .... So, commit to doing it anyway. The magic begins as soon as you say yes!

I look forward to working with you. If you'd like to be part of this dynamic process, click here to register.

Ellie

 

 

 

 


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As I recounted in my last post, "Intuitively Yours"  my art career has unfolded in unexpected ways. I never anticipated how my first simple still life, for instance, would stimulate my curiosity to see how I could represent the world in paint and how quickly this would transform my life: I no longer went to the market simply to buy food but subject matter—I’d never realized how many different kinds and colors of pears there were to paint! Imagine wanting to paint pears rather than eat them! (Actually, I figured out how to do both ...)

 

Eventually, I wanted to paint outdoors. When I found myself unexpectedly visiting northern Michigan in 2007, I declared to anyone who would listen, “I could paint here for the rest of my life.” I plunged in by relocating to the area in 2010 and, within a short time, attracted a modest following for my regional landscapes and, then, for my semi-abstracted barns. But then in 2016, again without any conscious intent, my approach abruptly changed—birds flew in to my canvas!

 

A handwritten poem, found on my doorstep last summer, acknowledged the transition that mystified many, including me:

 

The author, easily identified as a collector of my barn paintings, saw clearly how, by intuitively following the muse, the impulse to grow leads from one place to another. I surrendered to the birds that flew in with them because I sensed in these paintings a deep soulful authenticity. The less I held back, the more those bold dark calligraphic marks seemed to be my marks; the rich, beautiful colors were my colors. And those birds were my birds.

 

Soon, birds were flying in at a pace I could hardly contain. They threatened the borders of the art life I had claimed as my own. I could relate to the fear of those who felt migrants should be stopped from crossing the U.S. border from Mexico. Yet, I could also see how it would have been a mistake for for me to stop the flight of birds into my work; to deport or cage them would have done my soul a great disservice, a denial of my creativity. Instead, I continued to make room for immigrants by expanding the size of my canvases. At first this seemed an impractical move; but then I realized these paintings might be destined for something other than someone's living room wall.

 

The body of work I officially call "Birds Fly In" has become the basis for a much larger and more involved art project than I'd ever imagined creating.

 

Briefly, Birds Fly In: A Human Refuge aims to provide a dedicated space for people to connect via art and music with their own wisdom. World problems are rarely solved by political legislation; indeed, left unhealed, partisan bickering can easily escalate into war. But there are spiritual solutions available to humankind—IF we'll create the space and take the time to find them. The installation will invite people to heal by looking slowly at avian-themed art while listening deeply to music.

 

Many aspects of this international collaboration are well underway: an album of music composed by Mexican composer David Mendoza is almost complete; Wil Schley, a German architect who lives locally, is designing the art display/contemplation "room." I continue to paint while also performing a new role as music producer and design consultant. I am not bored!

 

One of the most exciting elements of this project came to light more recently when I invited 8 poets to a Birds Fly In slow looking/deep listening experience. The poets gathered in my home-based Studio & Gallery on a snowy day at the end of January. After I gave a brief history of the Project, each poet found a comfortable spot to contemplate one or more of the Birds Fly In paintings and, with David's recorded music in the background, commenced writing short poems for a little more than an hour.

 

One participant described her experience: In a lovely warm place where peace surrounded us, we were invited to respond to beautiful and multilayered paintings and complex, soul-stirring music and reflect upon the fragile others -- birds, animals, and humans -- who struggle to be noticed and loved in this difficult and misguided world. (G.B.)

 

Another poet wrote: Honestly, I didn’t expect to be as moved as I was.... I wrote a lot, but picked these [poems] that best captured what I felt as I wrote — a sort of leaping sadness and joy and hope.(K.K.)

 

And, another shared:  As for my poems ...,  my favorites are: "exquisite slow descent before the sun"; the whole haiku that starts "rainfall filtered dawn..."; and  "And still they sing and still I hear them." ... All my poems take me places that show me something important happening in the world of birds. That's what your paintings and David's music gave me. (S. M. Mc.)

 

I never imagined my paintings would inspire poetry! And, yet .... I so look forward to see what creativity emerges once the public has access to Birds Fly In: A Human Refuge. Soon, you'll get to read the poems that were created on that cold day in January. Some will be printed on the liner notes for  the upcoming Birds Fly In soundtrack album, and more as part of the installation Catalog as well as the installation itself.

 

I hope you'll join me in looking forward to the public launch of the installation somewhere in Michigan, summer of 2020.  To learn more about the Project click here. And to support the fundraising effort that makes this art project possible, check out these affordable, colorful birds created just for this purpose. And, if you are a curator of a public venue such as a museum (or know one) who would like to host this special exhibit, please contact me now.

 

Now, I must go paint and see what flies in on yet another snowy day in northern Michigan!

 

With warm love,

Ellie

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Treetops (Rhythm)

 

For many years I served as spiritual leader of a Unity church I pioneered in Atlanta. As one of the primary guiding principles for this rather experimental spiritual community, I chose "Expect the Unexpected." I'd observed in my own life as well as others that the very instant I no longer identified with the results of my efforts, something better I could never have predicted would come along to take its place. In fact, before each Sunday service, I would pray to be released from attachment to particular outcomes. More often than not, Something More perfectly marvelous than anticipated would happen.

 

Up to a certain point, my entire life had been a testament to my stubborn refusal to allow anyone or anything to guide me. Then, at times kicking and screaming, I woke up and began to surrender my will to what many refer to as a Higher Power. I've always  found it amusing that at the time of my profound calling to ministry I didn't believe in God—a term that confused me—and I hated church! Yet, by setting aside my notions of what clergy were supposed to be, I found a way to give spiritual service in the unique way for which I believe I was ordained.

 

When I eventually burned out on church ministry, I felt bereft. I had many beliefs about what an ordained person should do and quitting wasn't one of them; I grieved my resignation for years. I learned I had actually been quite attached to certain particular outcomes that had not come to pass—I felt I'd failed. But, then came the day (as I tell the story, I had very little interest in art-making and was convinced I had no talent), I heard a still small voice whisper "Do Art. Do ART. DO ART!"

 

While there's no formal ordination for artists, maybe there should be! For me, doing art seemed to further deepen my spirituality. The demands of art-making were certainly different from those of a church ministry and sometimes even tougher. Since 2003, my art has been another, more appropriate, and completely unexpected way to live out my spiritual calling.

 

In the beginning, I painted simple objects such as pears and pitchers. Later, I became skilled as a plein air landscape artist. Then, I began to explore painting less literally, and found I'd become adept at creating semi-abstracted barns. Eventually, the focus of my painting shifted from outer references to inner ones. It seems I've come full circle, back to where I was when I would stand before my congregation on Sunday morning, consulting my intuition for guidance as to what to say.

 

My intuitive approach to painting still follows a definite course: I make the first marks with bold, spontaneous gestures using black paint. Then, depending on what the black marks indicate, I mix and place colors where they seem to want to go. At some point, I may put down the brush and use my fingers or other tool to move that paint around. Later, I go back to the canvas to make random applications of white pigment. I might engage this process of  layering paint several times until the something announces that my work is complete. Then, I restrain myself from doing anything more.

 

Painting intuitively resembles meditation. Whenever I become aware of a thought of how or where I should put paint, I aim to set that thought aside. By deliberately not-doing the thing I believe I should do, something else seems to happen that's far more creative than I could have conjured. I mix an unusual color; I deliberately make a mistake and see what happens. Serendipity rules the day! The more I do of this sort of painting, the easier it becomes to put my faith in a process that seems determined to use me to create the unique beauty of this growing body of work.

 

In my next blog post, I'll share what happened when I recently invited 8 local poets to my Studio to engage with the large intuitive bird canvases that are part of the Birds Fly In: A Human Refuge installation I'm working on.

 

Until then, I am intuitively yours,

 

Ellie

 

 


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This is a picture of the Angel Card I drew on New Year's Eve, 2017. I thought it auspicious the angel called Inspiration was painting a scene on her easel, but little did I realize what Inspiration had in store for me! So, I stuck it in the mirror in my bathroom and waited to see what would happen....

 

2018 kicked off with more than its share of intense, infuriating, frustrating moments in our country—so many that by the time I made a trip to Atlanta in mid-February, the entire world seemed on edge.  Driving around the city that I'd called home for most of my life, everyone seemed particularly distressed. The traffic alone was enough to make anyone road rage-full!

 

My own stress seemed related to the unrelenting rapidity of news cycles, and I could only imagine how this was compounded by the pressure of high-speed and/orb congested driving and other demands of urban life. I was so glad I'd moved to Michigan—away from that horrible traffic—ten years earlier. Ensconced in my Studio & Gallery, in tiny Frankfort, on the corner of 4th and Forest, I'd found that doing my art gave me the ability to cope with situations that before might have destroyed me. And, since the 2016 elections, my art had become increasingly filled with birds—I felt certain those intuitive messengers of hope and healing did not arrive by accident.

 

I hadn't visited Atlanta for a while, but now had enough good reasons to make it worth my while: I wanted, of course, to visit friends—old friends as well as new ones I'd met in Michigan who, it turns out, live in my old stomping grounds. I had a list of old fave restaurants where I wanted to eat. I also had in mind to meet Faith,  a woman who'd purchased one of my favorite bird paintings online a few months earlier. My main agenda, however, was to find an art gallery to represent my work.

 

All of these things occurred. I met up with Gail, a friend I'd met in Frankfort who lives in Atlanta. First stop was an art store on Peachtree Street and, around the corner we stopped into the Academy of Medicine, where the church I'd pioneered as a minister met for 10 years. What fun to share a bit of my old life with a new friend! After a nostalgia lunch at Mary Mac's, I wanted to show Gail my friend Timothy's elegant Tew Galleries. To get there we drove past the David Nielsen Gallery, the first place I ever showed work; I'd just pointed this out to Gail, when we pulled into the parking lot at Timothy's and David Nielsen himself was pulling out. After more than ten years, I marveled, what were the odds ....?!

 

After leaving Tew Galleries, Gail and I visited 5 or 6 other art emporia. However, the more I looked around, the less inclined I felt to consign my paintings to hang in one of these attractive but cool—too cool—spaces. I realized how much I love showing my work in my Frankfort Studio & Gallery. I love that its very personal here and not at all cool. Gail seemed to agree. We'd spent a lovely day together (she drove, thank God!); and, while I did eventually find a place in Atlanta to show my work, in the end I decided a distant gallery simply wasn't for me.

 

While I hadn't come to Atlanta as a savior, one morning driving on the expressway to Marietta, my old hometown, I became aware of a burning desire to help relieve the stress I observed all around me. Churches used to offer sanctuary, a place of respite; but in this new world, religion was being co-opted for partisan ends. Plus, I'd already done my bit with church .... Perhaps now art could better offer people a refuge from the craziness of the world.

 

As I let my mind wander, I began to imagine a  space, filled with paintings to which a person could withdraw to contemplate and connect with intuitive wisdom. As birds had spontaneously flown into my art, enlightened ideas might fly into anyone's mind who made space for them. And, those ideas might translate into spiritual solutions for political and other problems. Thus I was inspired to create the art installation project now called "Birds Fly In: A Human Refuge." (And, yes, I also ate at my favorite Thai and Mexican restaurants, and connected with Faith....)

 

Since last February, inspiration has been a constant companion. For example, at dinner one night while I was still in Atlanta, my friend Sherry suggested a soundtrack for "Birds Fly In." What a wonderful idea! In April, when I first heard David Mendoza playing violin in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, he reminded me of a bird. I knew immediately there was kinship between my art and his soul-filled music. A few months later, I intuitively knew it was his music that I wanted as the soundtrack for the installation. When I first showed David some images of the paintings I'd been making for "Birds Fly In," he exclaimed that this is what he sees when he closes his eyes while playing violin. Now I paint to music my birds have inspired David to create. Inspiration guides us unfailingly!

 

Inspiration is also a taskmaster. I never imagined myself as a music producer, but now having commissioned an album of David's composing, I am learning how to be one. I've also started collaborating with an architect on a design for the "Birds Fly In" installation, am writing a catalog to accompany the installation, enrolling poets, and learning how to use a camera to shoot hi-res photos of my paintings that are suitable for publishing. And, I'm sure there's more to do as I cooperate ever more fully with the idea behind this project. This is what is meant by good stress, for sure!

 

Immersed as I have been in "Birds Fly In," I remain ever mindful of other very tangible good that has come my way in 2018. For instance, I'm very grateful to the patrons who chose to purchase "Dune Dream" for the permanent collection at Grand Valley State University, as well as to each other one of my collectors who found value and inspiration in my art. My art life requires and appreciates your generous support. I pray assured that whatever good comes my way is multiplied and shared with you!

 

With much love, gratitude and wishes for a New Year filled with inspired stress,

 

Ellie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Dear Art-Loving Friends,

I know some of you may be feeling pressure to produce a holiday gift for your significant other. If like so many, you're not anxious to accumulate more STUFF, consider that Art is NOT STUFF. I'm biased, of course. I not only get to paint my art, but I also get to live surrounded by paintings that please me on a daily basis. That's why I'm always glad when a last minute shopper finally settles on an art purchase. I know they'll be giving something that will be enjoyed long after the Tree comes down!

 Check out the paintings pictured here and other  Smaller Works in my website Portfolio. (The smaller paintings are often ones I've painted on site outdoors ....) If you act soon, we can still ship in time for Christmas! And, in the case of Very Last Minute Deliberations, I can also create either a Gift Certificate or a Gift Card with an image of the painting you select.

Please let me know if I can help ....

With warm wishes,

Ellie (aka Christmas Elfie)

P.S. It's not too late to order items from my Holiday Gift page either!


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I am by nature a Luddite. I'm the kind of person who reads Thoreau's Walden and can't stop saying "Amen." I like things simple. Yet, my creative ambitions repeatedly draw me deeper into the tech-complexity that characterizes contemporary life. And since I am currently in the process of composing a catalog of recent works for the Birds Fly In: A Human Refuge art installation project, and high quality printing requires high-res images, I've realized my iPhone simply won't do the job. A new camera is in order! 

 

A bit of history: I obtained my first camera by collecting my parent's empty cigarette packs (forcing them to smoke Marlboros instead of Old Gold for several weeks) and redeeming them for an easy-to-use Instamatic. All you had to do was plop a film cartridge in the back of the camera, and then point and shoot. Easy-peasy! A ten year old could do it and I did!

 

It's been downhill from there. From a more sophisticated SLR requiring hand-threading of film spools to cameras with memory cards, I've always been challenged to learn from a confusing manual how to use the camera. Truly, one reason I don't sell prints of my works is that, for me, it's much easier to paint a picture than to photograph one. As you can see from the equipment stacked on my studio coffee table, I'm about to embark on a task I'd much rather avoid.

 

Typically, I'd rely on my tech supportive husband, but he has a lot on his plate at the moment and I'm eager to get on with it. I've decided, then, to let Roo off the hook and take on the beast myself and see what I can do. I love Roethke's lines: "I wake from sleep and take my waking slow. I learn by going where I need to go." When it comes to technology, you can hear me snoring from a mile away; I am, however, willing to walk as far as I can to master this new machine.

 

My first step has been to write my intention on a list in my journal this morning. The bullet point reads: "Study camera." Step Two was to open the box and take everything out. (Putting hands on everything is my way of making friends with the different parts. Seeing the thick user's manual took my breath away, so I stuffed it where I couldn't see it for a few minutes; opening it now I see it's written in several languages, so it's not really as thick as I thought.) Step Three is to use my cell phone to take a picture of the mess of stuff and, well, to procrastinate by writing a blog instead of reading that manual .... You get the idea! Eventually, I will tire of this and, remembering my commitment to Birds Fly In (see image below), begin to master the task at hand by actually opening up all those boxes. I'm so glad I wrote it down! And, I'll keep you posted.

 

Last night the Birds Fly In music collaborator, David Mendoza, sent me the title for a piece he's working on called "Flying Free to Love." I used his words as a sort of mantra as I drifted off to sleep. I woke up feeling in love with life. Now, if you'll look closely at my pile of camera stuff, you'll see a small card. Whenever I need to bolster my inner support system, I reach into the box of Angel Cards I keep close at hand. The one I pulled at random this morning reads "Love." I'm guessing that, indeed, Love will once again, guide me through my resistance to learning something new, Something More. Glory be!

 

 

Thanks for reading and helping me be accountable to my project! May your resistance always be futile, resolve sooner rather than later, and, always, in the fullness of Time!

 

With Love,

 

Ellie

 

 

 


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