I started painting feathers a couple years ago. On a technical level, feathers are challenging, primarily because I use a color palette that is devoid of black. The color black is essential to contrast, clarifying the difference between the lightest and darkest areas of my compositions. But if I’m trying to capture the lightness and fragility of a feather, I have to soften the definition and sharpness of the edges. That’s not always easy. It requires a lot of patience. It’s a continual cycle of lightening the dark into more natural tones in combination with neutralizing the vividness of the brighter colors, making them quieter. By softening the dark I enhance the light. And through that evolves the fragility and vulnerability of an object that symbolizes strength and majesty. A feather.
This is the first painting I’ve ever done without using black.
Acrylic Painting – 36”x48”
There is symbolism in the color of a feather. A blue feather has a calming, peaceful energy that encourages you to have faith in yourself and express your deepest truths.
Acrylic Painting – 36”x48”
White feathers represent peace, love and hope. Also, they help us to understand that everything is okay.Acrylic Painting – 3 canvases @ 24”x18”
I’ve learned that it takes a dose of self-awareness to discover true authenticity. How do we know what feels in alignment to us if we haven’t explored our depths? We need to question and challenge the beliefs that no longer feel good to us, those that have been programmed deep within us, not only by our ancestral DNA, but by those of the societal ‘norms’ enveloping us. Finding authenticity is taking the deep dive into ourselves, facing our shadows and flaws to uncover our empowerment and strength. We can discover the core beauty and truth that combine to form our uniqueness as kind and loving human beings. It is the graceful and elegant essence of our unique individuality that combines with others to turn the smoldering embers back into a healthy passion for change. We will start to understand what it means to find a solution instead of contributing to the problem.
This journey into self-awareness, unbeknownst to me at the time, was unfolding on a subconscious level through my creative process as a painter. The inspiration for my paintings morphed and changed over the course of 25 years. It is a fascinating realization to now understand how the compositional elements in my paintings were a subconscious manifestation of my self-awareness journey.
I started with doors. While they were textured and colorful, usually with some kind of structural element, they were always closed.
Then the doors started opening.
After the door phase, I started climbing. Staircases became one of my favorite compositions. They always ascended.
I then entered my chair phase. I was going full throttle at that point in my life and knew that I really needed a rest.
I began the deep-dive when my chairs started to include pillows and blankets.
I love the word if. I haven’t always. Because the what if? question used to throw me into obsessive compulsive thinking patterns. I’ve somehow managed to turn the pesky logical/analytical reasoning thought processes that often accompanied the what if? question into a simpler process of answering with my imagination. As in, instead of going down the rabbit hole by answering with even if or if and only if or if….then, I can answer the what if? question with……..”Who cares?“ or “Let’s go for it!” or “Can I learn something new if…….?” Last year, I was presented with an opportunity for an incredibly challenging commission. After catching myself turning to my default mode of logical/analytical/conditional ifs as to why I was not the painter for the job, I sunk into my imagination ifs instead. And then the fun began.
It helped that I was given 100% artistic freedom.
This is an acrylic painting of the Charles Evans Whittaker U.S. Courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri. Justice Whittaker served as judge on all three levels of the Federal court, including the Western District of Missouri, Eighth Circuit, and U.S. Supreme Courts. He was appointed by President Dwight D.Eisenhower.
The painting was commissioned by Loren Whittaker as a gift for her husband Tom, the grandson of Justice Whittaker. Tom Whittaker is CLO of JE Dunn Construction Company, builder of the Federal Courthouse. Tom has a view of the courthouse from his office window, which can be seen to the left of the painting.
Loren did an unbelievable job of orchestrating the entire journey, down to the timing and placement of the painting. This photo was taken soon after Tom was surprised with his gift. Perhaps the best photograph ever.
A lot of us are temporarily out of commission during this Covid-19 pandemic. We are unable to operate in a life-as-we-know-it manner. While we’re being forced into a recalibration of how we navigate through our daily lives, it helps to remember that it is only temporary. Each and every one of us are allowed our own, unique vision of the lives we hope to return to when all of this is over. Some of us just want to return to the comfort, safety, and security of our past lives. Some of us are taking this time to envision new horizons. One thing I know for certain. Having a vision is important. It can help us tread water during uncertain times.
I recently took the opportunity to work on a painting commission while temporarily out-of-commmission from selling my work at outdoor art festivals, which is how I make my living. The process unfolded in a way in which I enjoy……after seeing a painting on my website, a customer was wondering if I could recreate the painting not only formatted differently, but with a different color palette as well. I’ve learned, through a lot of trial and error, that while I appreciate each and every time someone asks if I do commission work, this is really the only way that works for me and the customer. It allows the process to unfold relatively seamlessly. They have a general idea of what the painting is going to look like, and I’m able to keep my vision intact. I’m adding to their vision, not trying to create it for them.
This is the painting that was seen on my website.
Here is the painting that is the result of the commission process.