Thursday, April 29, 2010

Walk in Beauty

With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk. Part of Navajo Prayer Song
Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. ~Wayne Dyer

Ok, I am going for it, Dr. Wayne--not sure what, though. After my husband died, I start writing down positive affirmations to read aloud every day. Most have fallen away as useless, but I kept one that finally started to mean something to me: "Today I will walk in beauty with my head held high, living without fear or regret." I added "with my head held high," when I read it in the Bible, and "Walk in Beauty" was written in my birthday card by a Navajo friend, and I decided that is exactly what I wanted to do. There are times, like tonight, that I really feel like I can do this.

I am a little sad to realize that I am about out of paintings to show; maybe I will start over again. This one, Strawberries was a challenge on every level. Doing this painting, I learned a very valuable lesson--never attempt to paint identical objects --such as the salt and pepper shakers-- it is impossible to make them identical!! Yum strawberries; I wonder where I can find some at this time of night.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Don't let people drive you crazy when you know it's in walking distance.
A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her. ~David Brinkley

It is funny that I found these quotes under the topic of "Confidence." It seems to me that they have more to do with relationships! Relationships can be the cause of my greatest joys, but also my deepest pain. I don't understand some people and others make me crazy, and the only thing I can do is stand back and let them be. Often when we grow and change and move on, we have to leave people behind, no matter how much we love them.

This watercolor--not my best medium-- is a study of a painting I want to do in oils, which I started a couple of years ago. I need to go boldly forth on it even though I have never painted a dog. I don't have a lot of experience in portrature either. I figure that if I can paint a subject as complicated as an iris, I should be able to paint a dog. The girl is my little granddaughter who is now 12, and the dog is Buddy, my son's dog who is no longer with us. It is titled Granddog.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Catchin' Happiness

The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. ~Benjamin Franklin
Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

My prayer lately has been, "God, I want to be happy again." I have been happy before. Before a series of trials occurred that were beyond anything I could imagine, including the death of my husband. These things robbed me of my happiness. Too a degree, there were things beyond my control, but I also allowed my peace and joy to be taken from me. I didn't fight to hang onto it. I am mad now. I want it back, damn it!! I want it back. You know what? I am gonna get it. Just hide and watch.

I enjoyed some good ordinary things today: Planting seeds, exercise, a nap, eating homemade soup and precious time with women who are sharing my journey.

This painting is titled Tomatoes simply because I didn't know what else to call it. The best part is the glass bottle. I love painting glass. Maybe that is what I will do now.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Self-Respect

He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that none can pierce. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves - there lies the great, singular power of self-respect. ~Joan Didion

Tonight I talked to the fella I met last fall--the one who told me to "be who you are," and listening to him brought back me back to center on this. It is funny how I have to be constantly reminded of simple truths--blinding flashes of the obvious, but I tend to forget and try to put myself in a mold that doesn't fit.

This painting is one of my earlier ones--Watering the Lilies, based on a photo of lilies growing in my flower bed. A few years later I darkened the wall behind the flowers making them pop out better, and I am much happier with it. I am pleased with the drops of water.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rejection


I take Rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going rather than retreat. Sylvester Stallone
A rejection is nothing more that a necessary step in the pursuit of success. Bo Bennett

I don't have a problem accepting rejection in regards to my art. There are times that pictures that I submitted for publication or exhibit have been rejected. While I feel a little sad at first, I am able to shrug it off because I know that it is part of the process. I am secure in knowing that the gift God gave me is a good one, and that it just may not be everyone's taste--nothing personal intended.

In personal relationships, however, the sting of rejection is powerful, and I take it hard. I can find the roots of that in past toxic relationships. I realize that I need a better perspective on this, and to remember, "People don't do things to me, they do things for themselves." As I am a work in progress I can use these experiences to move onto successful living, rather than let them paralyze me. Now if I could just figure out how to do that.

The painting is Cherries. I finished this painting some time ago and didn't like it so I put it away. I got it out a few years later and saw what was wrong with it, so I worked on it some more vastly improving it. I love how the lace turned out and the sunflowers. The thing that gave me the most trouble? The fabric and the clump of three cherries!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's in the eyes...

A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn. ~Author Unknown
Sometimes in tragedy we find our life's purpose - the eye sheds a tear to find its focus. ~Robert Brault www.robertbrault.com

A friend asked me today if I was doing better, and I told him that I was. "Yes," he said, "I can see it in your eyes." What I could see in his eyes was concern and I realized that it has been there for awhile, because he was aware of some of my struggles. I don't question the troubles, though, because if I did ask God, "Why me?" He'd be apt to say "Why not?" Difficulties are part of the human journey. I am happy to say that I haven't shed many tears since Easter. My hip is better and I am planning to start working in my garden, which is looking pretty neglected. I am ready for a more upbeat attitude.

This is a painting in process. The coneflowers are emerging. I am not happy with the one on the left but the beauty of oil paint is that things can be changed. The finch may not be placed right but it is staying where it is. I am excited to see if I can actually render a bird in paint, as I have never done it before. Today I shipped two paintings I sold from my Facebook page. Whoo hooo!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Curiosity

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. ~Dorothy Parker
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. ~Albert Einstein

I always wanted to know stuff. My Dad and I were always so good at Trivial Pursuit that no one would play with us; we won with a lot of random --sometimes useless-- facts rattling around in our brains because we were curious about things. If something catches my attention I want to know more about it. In the old days I searched the library for information. If there were any questions I had, the answer was at the library. As I said before, when I was younger, I taught myself how to paint and draw from library books. This is where I learned about reflected light--there is always reflected light in the shadows of an object-- and how the surrounding colors affect subject. This painting is an example of that. Learned that from a book, I did.

I still want to know stuff, but I don't have to go to the library to find it. Now I have Google. I love Google.

This painting is Blue Ribbon, because this African violet in a vintage pitcher won a blue ribbon at the fair. So I painted it. It is funny how the simplest things will give me the most trouble-- in this case it was the leaves. Sometimes I think the painting needs something more on the table, but then again maybe not. So it stays at it is.

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's All Good

To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself. ~Soren Kierkegaard
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. ~Pablo Picasso
This weekend was good. When I arrived at the venue where I was to speak, I was told I only had 15 minutes slated for my talk. I drove halfway across the state for only 15 minutes? That threw me off balance, but the talk went well anyway. I find that I am too much of a good girl, always doing what I am told. So would the crowd walked out if I talked 30 minutes instead of 15? I doubt it. But it is all good. I made new friends, drove places I have never been, slept on an Aero bed, tried Thai food for the first time, and got myself from one end of the state to the other with just me, God and rock n roll. I was able to visit my oldest grandson, who is in the Navy, on the west side of the state. Yes, it is all good.

This painting is titled Field and Stream, and is another radiant heat panel. The barn is from a photo I took and some of the trees I think, but I made the rest up, including the stream. I do recall driving around on a blustery day taking pictures of clouds--would you believe clouds give me trouble? They are supposed to look as if a bird could fly through them, not solid like a bunch of marshmallows. Tricky.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Later Gator!

Even though I have been posting nearly every day, I won't be for a bit, as I am going out of town. I am speaking --in front of people :o-- on behalf of a Fellowship I belong too. If you pray, pray for me, as I am not a proficient with the spoken word as I am with the written. See you later!

OH, you want a picture? OK a drawing of Amiralty Head, a lighthouse on Whidbey Island WA. Gotta pack now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Small Beginnings

"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin." - Zechariah 4:10 NLT

Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves. ~Dale Carnegie

I am humbled by the followers of my blog, and the fans of my Face Book art page--Art of Maxie Lee, some whom I have not met face to face. It still surprises me that people are interested. I was reflecting today how I got started in writing on the web. About 12 years ago I joined an online self-help email group. The first time I posted a share to that group I was so tense that my heart raced, as if I was actually standing in front of that goup in person. Over time sharing in this group became easier and I became good at it, often sharing in their chat room. Out of that forum came a smaller gratitude group where I share every day things I am grateful for--something I have been doing for about 8 years--maybe more, I can't remember. I have discovered that I have this urge to entertain-- I certainly wouldn't want my shares to be boring-- and I have used the daily writings to tell stories and to attempt to make people laugh. I confess I can be the class clown. I have become quite comfortable with online writing, but the best thing is that I have formed beautiful friendships. So writing a blog has been natural and easy and I am comfortable most of the time in posting it where others can read. Thank y'all for reading my thoughts and responding to them.

This painting, Summer Gate, is done on a radiant heating panel, which actually heats the room. It is done in acrylic and was a commission. It is rather a flight of fancy but it makes me smile. The garden gate is in front of a real home in my town, I took pictures a few of years ago and I have used the fence in a couple of paintings. The gate still exists but something happened to the roses, and it is sadly plain now. I confess I borrowed the bird house from a Fred Swan picture. Sorry Fred.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Post # 100 --Healing

A lot of people say they want to get out of pain, and I'm sure that's true, but they aren't willing to make healing a high priority. They aren't willing to look inside to see the source of their pain in order to deal with it.-- Lindsay Wagner

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.-- Hubert H. Humphrey

This post is number 100! I didn't think I would make it this far when I first started just after Christmas, but I have written something nearly every day. When I started, I thought the purpose of this forum was to get motivated about art and to figure out what to do with the rest of my life, but as this project progressed, I discovered what the blog really has to do with is healing. Looking back, some of the posts are bleak--sad, angry, depressed, or even morbid--some were just lyrics to sad songs to express my pain. But someone told me recently that healing is messy. And that is the truth; like healing a physical wound, emotional and spiritual healing is not very pretty, so I am going to leave those posts alone and not delete them since they are part of the process; they are me.

As Mr. Humphrey said, love and friendship have been vital to my healing. This former introvert has become a very determined friend-maker. Every single day I am out where people are and my friendship list is growing --of friends face to face and friends online. At first I met with these people just to get through the evening or the weekend, but now making friends is my new hobby and there are actually some people who have me as a friend who never really intended for that to happen ;o). I have found a whole new family. In turn, I can help others heal by offering them the same love and friendship that has been given me.

This painting is titled, Favorite, because it is my favorite sunflower picture. I like roses and grow some, but they can be persnickety and sunflowers grow tall, strong and hardy and reseed themselves every year; they always face the sun. I am a sunflower kinda girl.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Change

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~Anatole France
The essence of all growth is a willingness to change for the better and then an unwitting willingness to shoulder whatever responsibility this entails. As Bill Sees It by Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I don't know why we give so much conversation to the topic of change, because it is inevitable, like death and taxes. It should be par for the course. But change is something that I fight with all my might, even though it might be good. I realize now that I was hiding in my marriage and the little safe world I had built for myself there. I knew change needed to come in my life and thought I was open to it, but I realize now that my efforts at changing were quite puny. It took abruptly becoming alone to realize I wasn't prepared for change at all. I was suddenly responsible for everything and terrified of making a mistake and I had no idea what to do next--somebody died and left Maxie in charge, a pretty scary proposition. Of course I made mistakes, causing me to sink into remorse. In short, I was a wreck. I knew I couldn't return to the old life, but had no idea how to proceed into another one. Finally I gave up. After fighting Him, I surrendered to God and began to trust that, somehow, whatever I was doing, or thinking was OK for the moment, and even the mistakes I made --and will make-- are OK, because it is just part of the process. I feel like I am coming out of the tunnel into the light; even though I dart back into the shadows, I know I will make it out into that new life.

This painting is called Flamin' Flower, one of a series of sunflowers. I like this, because I used the telephoto lens to capture the reference photo which blurred the background, and I caught that in this picture. A lesson in art: To make a picture pop, use colors opposite each other on the color wheel, they vibrate against each other; red is opposite of green. This sunflower came from my garden.

My hip is better and I am getting happy thinking about working in the garden. There are so many exciting possibilities ahead of me. Please God, don't let me get depressed again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Puttin yourself out there...

Nature decrees that we do not exceed the speed of light. All other impossibilities are optional. ~Robert Brault, http://www.robertbrault.com/
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who'll decide where to go. ~Dr. Seuss
I have never been one to promote myself. While I was growing up the children's accomplishments in our home were never recognized. The opposite was true with heavy criticism dished out at every opportunity and all creativity squashed. I am not blaming my difficulties on my parents, but I have to recognize how I got to where I am today. I remember a drawing I did as a child, and I was so happy with it, I practically begged my grandmother to put it on the wall; she kept promising to do it, but never did and I don't recall sharing any more of my pictures with her or anyone else after that. Being the center of attention and applauded for my successes made me feel uncomfortable at the rare times it did happen, but at a deep level I ached for it. I attempted to satisfy that desire with being funny--one attribute that folks didn't seem to mind and it got me the attention I craved. There was also fear at work in my life--fear of rejection. Fear of being myself--that I would somehow be found lacking.
After I started painting in earnest, I was afraid to approach the prestigious galleries to show my art. I felt that my education credits were pathetic. Until I went to a community college in my late thirties, I was self -taught --from library books; by then I had been drawing and painting for 20 years--my bio didn't read too well next to those with lofty accomplishments. I also didn't have much confidence in my ability. I did show my work, but in rinky-dink places where nobody shopped. But about 10 years ago I started showing my paintings in places around town; I sold some paintings and my confidence soared. I became quite productive. However I let circumstances of the last couple of years erode at my confidence and motivation and I am having to fight to get them back. But I am becoming quite the dragon slayer now. Maybe that will be my new moniker--Phoenix the Dragon Slayer--she is rising from her ashes with an attitude.
Damn those voices that say I should be shy and retiring. In order to be a success, I have to sell myself--just like the grocer advertises and sells his canned green beans. In a sudden fit of boldness, I created an art page in my Face Book account and already have sold two paintings. Yea!! Watch out everyone, Maxie is on her way.
This painting is Blue Iris. I renamed it The Dance like it because it seems to be moving--maybe moving towards great accomplishments, or at least towards the sun.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Terminally Unique

I really can't deny it, I am who I am. I'm pretty normal. I'm not that smooth type of girl. I run into things, I spill food, I say stupid things... I really don't have it all together. Katie Holmes
AA members have coined the phrase, "terminally unique," which defines a person who thinks her problems are not like any one else's. In other words, "Nobody Knows the Troubles I've Seen." This is dangerous thinking. If I believe I am unique, and don't believe anyone else understands, then I am not apt to do anything to help myself, while remaining in the dark comfort of self-pity. I am learning that, while I feel crazy most of the time and my thoughts don't seem normal, my reactions are normal for losing a loved one and the other trials that I have been walking through. I know I am a unique child of God, but the Bible tells me that my troubles are "common to man." And I need to give myself a break.
This painting is Blue Chicken. The original drawing has a pair of salt and pepper shakers in it, but I used the same pair in another painting and learned by that experience to never put two identical objects in a painting, because it is impossible to paint them to look alike. So I added an apple which I got out of the fridge and set on the drawing table for reference--this worked until someone ate the apple. I also added some flowers that I like very much, giving the bouquet an airy feel. I read somewhere that a painting of a bouquet should appear as if a bumble bee can fly through them. I think the bumble bee will like the pink flowers. In critiquing this painting I realize should have included some blue flowers to balance the blue in the chicken dish. When I started painting in earnest about 10 years ago, I used to do a complete drawing to get a feel of the subject and check the composition, before starting a painting; then I would have 2 works of art. It is a practice I want to resume.
Chop Wood Carry Water: I have been getting some cleaning done, and working at the drawing table. I have done the budget, started paying bills, and cleared the desk. I organized paintings to price as a friend is interested in the irises. I exercised, ate right, showered and brushed my teeth :o). I even remembered to feed the dog.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Self-fulfilling Prophecies

Self-Fulfilling prophecy: a false definition of a situation evoking a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true. Robert Milton

Remember, if you’re headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns! ~Allison Gappa Bottke

Friday evening a friend shared in a group the above thought about self-fulfilling prophecy, and I knew immediately that he was speaking the truth. I have seen it played out over and over in lives of those around me. I know there is power in words, and we can talk ourselves into having a bad day or bad month or even into being sick. I shudder at remarks that I hear like, "this ice cream is going straight to my hips," or "my shoulder is killing me." However, I have to rigorously look at what prophecies I have been speaking over my own life. There have been many--some I have carried since childhood and others that have come up through recent trials. If you read far enough back in this blog you will find negative posts. Grief is a seductive thing, tempting one into making grief her identity and coloring every aspect of her life. This sets the girl on the path to hell. I must be very careful with my words. I do not want what I have been thinking lately, to come true.

This painting is Peaches and Hollyhocks. I painted it in my still-life phase and it took me a long time to finish and by then I couldn't stand to look at it so I put away. One day I got it out and decided I liked it and entered it in the fair, where it won a rosette. While I struggled with some of the flowers, I love the textures: the fuzzy peaches, smooth teapot and as always the vase with water. That is what draws me into still lifes-- reflective and transparent surfaces. How do I paint a vase of water? The only way that makes sense to me. It looks complicated with the light bouncing around inside of the vase and reflected on the outside, but it simple really. I paint the background first then backside of the vase and then the stems, remembering the distortion caused by the water on all these things. Then I paint the front. Simple. Vases never give me any trouble--it usually the flowers.

Some one asked me what CWCW means in my posts. It is based on a Zen saying: "Before enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood carry water." This means to take care of business, instead of waiting for a blinding flash to come to me, or warm fuzzies, or motivation to get things done-- just do it. I had somewhat of an enlightening moment when I realized that I have been way too worried about being alone. I am alone now; but, except for God and friends who are vital to me, all I have is me, my home, and my art and I have not been taking care of any of those. Sometimes I even forget to feed the dog, and an African violet suffered an agonizing death under my care. Gotta pay more attention to CWCW.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Be Yourself--Again


If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise. ~Johann von Goethe

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. ~Dr. Seuss

I found a very wide spectrum of sayings on being yourself, and it tickles me to include quotes by Goethe and Dr. Seuss in the same post. They both speak the truth to me. As for Maxie being herself, it comes from knowing herself and that is a work in progress. Writing in this forum and a second private blog--Confessions of a Co-dependent-- is part of that process. I know this is a topic I have addressed before, but it is one I will probably visit again and again.

There is a story behind this painting, which is titled Miner's Row. Many years ago I visited a ghost town in New Mexico by the name of Madrid. It was once a thriving coal mining town, but the mine closed in the 1950's. When I was there all the buildings and the company houses were abandoned and falling to ruin. Something about the neglected houses touched me and I took pictures of them. Not too long after we were there, artists bought up the town and the old houses, restoring them. Madrid is now a thriving artist community and tourist stop. From the photos I took, I created this picture imagining what the homes might have looked like in their prime. I gave the painting away for a wedding present, but a couple of years ago a friend told me that she had found it in a second hand store, and she is now the owner. Painting snow is a struggle, but I am pleased with the sky and lighted windows.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Gifts

Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all. ~William Temple
Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are. ~Malcolm S. Forbes
We have to render ourselves vulnerable... Dan S.
Alright, Mr. Temple, you are right. I have been thinking about myself way too much, at least in an unhealthy manner. And Mr. Forbes, it is true, I have been focusing on what I lack rather than what gifts I do possess. I still strive for balance in these matters but I feel pretty darned good tonight, because, as my friend Dan S. says, I rendered myself vulnerable to a group of friends... and they responded with love. I shouldn't have been surprised. My friends are the most precious gifts in my life.
This painting is called Gift, or Blue, I have it in my files under both names. Maybe I'll call it Blue Gift. I love the way that irises have the ability to capture the early morning sun, making them glow like they have little candles inside. Of course I have to get up early to catch that effect; being an night owl means I have to stumble out of bed, grab the camera and start shooting before I even have coffee. But the results are worth it.