Mini Landscape Collages

When I moved to Pennsylvania in the summer of 2004, I was (and still am) completely enamored of the countryside- breathtaking old barns, Holstein cows dotting the landscape, & plowed fields that look like Mother Nature quilted them Herself.  I took hundreds of photos that first year & continue to take photos as I find vistas that inspires me.

Landscapes used to intimidated me as an artist.  I’d ask myself, how do great artists successfully create pieces based on the places that inspire them?  It dawned on me that they were recording their expressions & impressions of the landscapes, not the landscapes themselves.   I was trying too hard to “capture” scenery rather than interpret the essence of what I saw & how it made me feel.  That realization liberated me as an artist & allows me to freely express my emotional connections to the spirits of place.

I’m creating a series of six 4-inch square collages based on my photographs.  Here are the first three.  The photos are included so you can see how I took the scenery & interpreted it in a way that honors it without trying to recreate it.

mini landscape 2

landscape 2

mini landscape 1

landscape 1

mini landscape 3

landscape 3

Getaway Nourishes My Spirit

My boyfriend’s birthday is Oct. 26th & mine is Oct. 29th.  Since they were bookends to a weekend this year, we decided to  go somewhere quiet & remote.  Nestled among the trees at the top of a dirt road in Milford Pennsylvania, I found a charming little cottage with a joyful stream flowing alongside.  That stream, like every place in nature, has it’s own energy… I could hear it giggling as it danced over the rocks, carrying autumn leaves off to some new adventure.  It beckoned me often throughout the day, every day & I found it to be the perfect place for my morning ritual.  Each morning, as close to sunrise as possible, I greet the Earth by putting my hands flat on the ground & the Cosmos by reaching my arms upward, honor the four directions, & calmly take a few deep breaths as I respectfully reconnect with all that’s sacred– the Divine above, below, & all around me.  These few days away fed my soul.

Our private getaway, tucked in the trees.

The wood stacked next to the cabin provided cozy fires every evening.

A beautiful spot to meditate, listen, or read. Notice the stack of stones on the large rock in the middle of the picture. A nature lover was obviously here before us.

It’s so important to remove one’s self from day-to-day obligations, to nurture the spirit & reconnect with nature.  We need to give ourselves permission to feed our hungry souls.  For me, it means leaving my to-do lists behind & unplugging the world (including my cell phone, the television, & the computer).

Even if you can’t afford a vacation “getaway”, get away by unplugging the world & staying home alone or with someone you love.  Care for your Self in a way that is right for you– “replenish your well” as some say.

The more we care for our Selves, the more we have to give others.

If I Could Be Anything…

As a child, I was a daydreamer who wanted to be practically everything when she grew up– a pediatrician, a travel writer, a teacher, an interior designer, a gypsy fortune teller, a fashion designer, & a dairy farmer.  Yes, a dairy farmer!  I dreamed of putting on my Wellies & old jeans to muck stalls, feed calves, & milk cows who would supply the ingredients for the richest, creamiest ice-cream in the world (When I dream, I dream big!).   I also wanted enough money to hire the best people to help me run this farm so I could have time for my art.   I’m a dreamer but a practical one 🙂

I didn’t grow up to be a dairy farmer but I still love cows.  I can’t explain why except to say they bring me such joy that tears sometimes fill my eyes.  There’s a sense of peace & serenity watching a cow simply BE a cow.   I especially love Holsteins whose contrast of black & white, curves & bony angles seem the ultimate symbol of balance… a living Yin Yang.  And their soulful brown eyes convey so much without words… as I hope my art does.

The piece, Lunch with the Girls, is a departure from my most recent collages.   Instead, I looked to expressionism for my color palette & style.  While my head had to consider composition, it is my heart that is telling this story.  Please refer to my post “Head, Heart, & Hands” for an explanation of my art philosophy.  I’ve taken dozens of photos while visiting local dairy farms, living vicariously through the people I see working there.   So don’t be surprised to see more cows in future blogs.  May you find joy in the simple things.

Check out the art I have for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan

Lunch with The Girls- An Homage to Holsteins

A Date with Andrew Wyeth

It was the perfect autumn day for an art date– sleepy trees tired of being green were changing to gold & scarlet.  We drove to Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, the home of Andrew Wyeth, an influential 20th century American artist.  Art dates, according to Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, are supposed to be solitary events; however, like any good artist, I know rules are made to be broken 🙂    I shared this art date with my boyfriend, who made the day even more special.

Part of our day was spent at the Kuerner’s Farm, where we literally walked in Andrew Wyeth’s footsteps.  Our tour guide showed us a print of his egg tempera piece titled “Evening at Kuerners”, which depicts the very place where we stood.  Amazing!!!   Just for a moment, we saw the world through his eyes– what he thought was important enough to include in the piece & what he edited out, 3 of the windows in the house that detracted from the overall composition, for example.  I’m reminded that as artists, we don’t have to “capture” our subject; we can “interpret” it… personalize it.  That’s part of the fun of creating art.

While Andrew Wyeth’s art made this date inspirational; it was also made special by the autumn landscape, the mouthwatering mushroom strudel we ate for lunch, & our side trip to the Chadds Ford Winery that fed me– body & soul.  Keep in mind, your art date is meant to nourish you.  Be kind to yourself until our paths meet again.   Take an art date.  Get inspired!!

Evening at Kuerners by Andrew Wyeth

Sketch a Day Update

I don’t know about you but I never had much success with New Year’s Resolutions.  Promises to exercise, cut back on chocolate, or be more patient were always broken within days.  I’ll be honest, I don’t respond well to “You have to…”  or “You must…”.  The Sketch a Day goal I set for myself is quickly becoming that.  It turned something pleasurable into an assignment.   I’m an artist because I have a need to express myself creatively from a place of passion & joy.  If the work sells, that’s fabulous; however, I’m no longer a commercial artist & don’t want to create art unless it is meaningful.  Admittedly, creative people must practice their craft to maintain their skills but they (we) also create from a place of desire, even desperation at times.  We dance because the music moves us.  We write poetry because it urges our hearts to put pen to paper.  We paint because the subject cries out to be expressed on canvas.

As I savor this unexpected day off due to torrential rain & flooding, I will make a big pot of coffee & spend time in my studio, playing with the art supplies I buy but don’t use often enough.  My boyfriend’s advice this morning was, “Have an art day.  Experiment; destroy a canvas if you want.”  How cool is that!  I hope that when your plans change unexpectedly, you see the potential gift in the disruption of your routine.  What would you do with the gift of time?

Please send the people of Pennsylvania positive thoughts & healing energy as many of us recover from this disaster.

There’s No Place Like Home

Dorothy told Auntie Em “There’s no place like home”, at the end of The Wizard of Oz.  She experienced all sorts of scary, wondrous adventures before realizing that all she needed was in her own backyard. I had to experience the deaths of my grandparents to realize the same thing.   Their home in central Pennsylvania was the place where I was warm, safe, & unconditionally loved.  I could play with my dolls in the playhouse my grandfather built, daydream about life out west as I read Little House on the Prairie under the maple tree, and pretend to scuba dive with sharks in the small pool out back.  Their loss caused a great black chasm to spread inside of me.  Where would I go & what would I do without my special place?

I don’t remember saying it, but I must have asked that question out loud at my grandfather’s funeral because a relative responded, “You need to find another special place.”  What?!  How?!  He made it sound so easy but I know it wouldn’t be for me (nor was it easy for him when his father died).  Nonetheless, it’s true.  Sometimes, if we are truly lucky, the people around us make a place special and sometimes we have to create it ourselves.

Like I mentioned in my last blog, my home is my sanctuary.  It’s the warm place that I’ve created for myself & those I love.  As I make it more “homey”, I find that it’s also inspirational. Subjects for my art are all around my house & garden.  This is my new special place & this is some of the special art I’ve created here.

Check out the art I have for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan

Garden Sunshine- The sunflower is aptly named. Doesn't it look like sunshine on a stem?

Garden Blessing- This statue blesses my garden as she peacefully stands among the irises.

Cows and Farms Inspire Me

I’ve always had a thing for cows, especially Holsteins.  I love the graphic black and white color from an artistic point of view but it’s their soulful eyes and moist pink noses that capture my heart.  I’m going to begin a new piece today with cows as my theme since I know the subjects that tug at my heartstrings make the best art.  As cliche as it sounds, art has to come from my heart.  If it’s forced, you’d know it.  I’ll share my work in progress soon.

For now, take a look at two of my recent farm collages– Pennsylvania Farm #1 and Pennsylvania Farm #2.  These pieces are in response to the knowledge that family-owned farms and farmland are being lost every day.  Don’t even get me started on developers, “progress”, and the almighty dollar!  Instead of focusing on the negative, I want to show the beauty of farms and pay tribute to this way of life.  Hopefully, my art will inspire others to protect agricultural areas and begin to shop locally 🙂   These are autumn and summer scenes respectively.

Pennsylvania Farm 1

Pennsylvania Farm II