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What in the world am I saying? Of course, I don’t mean it literally. What I really mean is: “Get involved in an outdoor painting event that lasts a week and a half; paint in 100 degree heat every day for at least 6 hours, finish a minimum of 6 paintings and drive 100 miles a day to do it.” Such was my challenge, along with my dear friend, Seven Nielsen, and dozens of other amazing artists who painted at the Wasatch Plein Air Paradise event in Midway, Utah, June 30-July 4. We toughed out the hottest weather in record. We were dirty, hot, hungry, thirsty. I don’t know about Seven, but each night when I went home I was totally exhausted. In the end? We sold paintings and made friends and learned a lot about ourselves. Mainly, how really dedicated we could be to finishing a painting no matter what—in spite of stickers and brambles and blowing dirt, ugly heat, collapsing easels, brushes spilled into the sand, ant hills underneath our chairs, and did I say unrelenting heat? But even more, how much fun we could have joking and laughing at all of our bumbling around and how wonderful it was to become hypnotized for hours by the sheer joy of painting. Yes. Sometimes we felt like we were killing ourselves. And, yes, it was worth it!
Art education has become a passion of mine. I regularly teach 19 students who faithfully come every week. We have become life-long friends and I have loved seeing them become fascinated with all aspects of art. They also see the world in an entirely new way. Most artists understand this fully. They get excited about the way table legs in a restaurant interact in patterns with one another. They see the fabulous shapes of shadows. They see twenty-five different shades of green in a wooded hillside. Now, my students are enjoying this whole new world within a world.
Weeks have past since I last blogged. It seems that I dropped off the planet. I guess I did. My two clever daughters, Carri and Julie, had their babies on the same day: May 3, on opposite ends of the continent. I spent half a month in Boston, MA with one new darling baby, Cora, and the other half of the month in Gardnerville, NV with baby Ruby. I held them both for hours and hours. They are new. Totally vulnerable. Thus, the most powerful people on earth. Every adult around them jumps at their very whim. Thoughts are only for their well being, happiness, health, safety, etc. They blink; we quake. They cry; we leap. They smile; we crumble. Perhaps there is a lesson in this kind of humility?
On March 20, I was fortunate enough to have a short interview on KSL Television's Studio 5 with Brooke Walker where I was able to talk about Ree's Painting pARTies. I appreciated the opportunity very much. I believe painting parties are a great way for people to do what most have always wanted to do and that is create a viable, original work of art. I was greatly touched by my husband Craig's enthusiasm for my appearance. He sent the following email out to our family and dozens of friends and associates."For those who do not live in Utah, have access to KSL-TV, cable or DVR's, here is a link for you to see your daughter, mother, sister, aunt, grandma, friend, teacher, etc. on TV. http://bit.ly/reeksl. We can all be proud of her few minutes of TV fame. Well, at least I am!"
Okay. How neat is that? Thank you, Craig, my greatest supporter.
Kids have nothing on adults who want — and can — have fun. This Ree's painting pARTy birthday party on February 28 was nothing short of a sheer riot. I don't think I've laughed this hard in ages. FYI. Get a room full of mavericks and you get a whole lot of different paintings. Hey. I know when to step aside and let the good times roll.
"He, Too, 'Hath Not Where to Lay His Head"
Artist Edgar Payne writes: “We say a painting is beautiful because (the artist has painted)…deeper mysterious qualities that lie beyond the definition of man.” I believe this is true. In elementary school I hand-wrote and illustrated small comic books which I sold for ten-cents a copy. Building on these innate talents to write and illustrate, I became both a professional writer and an artist, twice blessed with a peculiar ability to hear, see and then translate. As a writer I often found it baffling to express in written word truths about the human experience that art so instantly and powerfully reveals in image.
With this painting, I wanted to express that the essential “story” of Jesus is love. For any person, in any path of life, the need to feel and express love is an innate need. I recently drove by the homeless mission area in an urban city and was deeply touched by how many elderly women I saw sitting alone on the sidewalk. It came to me that perhaps even in this situation, if women formed their own relief society, nurturing one another, each might share human contact they desire and the hope they so desperately need. I envisioned two such lonely, destitute women sharing the stories of Jesus, realizing as they did that even the son of God had no home on this earth to rest. Yet, His mission of love and His atoning sacrifice, transcends all earthly woes.
I am sitting in my upstairs office looking out the window, mesmerized by the absolute mosaic before me. There are bare trees filling the viewing plane. The apple tree closest to my window. An elm tree in the next yard over. Some other kind of tree farther away. Bare branches shooting in every direction. Crisscrossing one another. One tree with branches a golden, reddish brown. Another’s branches nearly black. Another, ochre. Some of the branches are large. Some small. Behind all of them, a yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue sky lighted with sunrise which fills every large and tiny space between the branches. A stained glass picture only the magnificence of nature could create.