What a stunning view of the the Durango & Silverton, deep in the San Juan National Forest, running alongside the rushing waters of the Animas River, taking on water for the journey ahead.
The experience of riding this train and seeing the amazing sights along the way, most of which is only available to see by train or by foot, was too beautiful for words, so I had to paint it.
I've thought about and painted this painting a thousand times in my mind, since the day I stood on Fisherman's Wharf at Monterey Bay looking at the scene before me.
It was was early one morning, before the start of The Plein Air Art Convention, that I wanted to take a walk for some solitude. I wanted to go see this boat in the bay that I had seen the day before, on a drive around town with my friend Marcy Bailey. It struck me, how that boat looked in the bay, so grand and sort of lonely. I thought about how it looked like a giant among all the smaller sailboats in the distance.
But this morning, there it was. The same feeling struck me, but it was even more magical. The heavy fog was lifting in the distance and the morning sun was illuminating everything with peachy golden colors, and the boat in the harbor was even more magnificent.
I took picture after picture trying to capture the scene, so that I could paint it later. The photos didn't capture it all, but the image of the colors were etched in my mind. I'm happy with the results of this little painting. It takes me back to that morning and the effect that it had on me, when I stood before it on the pier.
I’m going to tell the saddest story I ever lived, and one that I believe God is changing.
I’ve been wrapped in the chains of fear for so many years, 45 years to be exact. A prisoner, from one moment in time that scarred me, from that moment until now. This story may seem like a small thing to the reader, but for me, it was a moment that crippled me and robbed me of years of happiness, not doing what I was born to do. Though there were moments along the way that I experienced the joy of freedom, the joy of painting, they were fleeting, only to be shrouded in fear.
I don’t tell this story for sympathy. I tell it for closure, because today I’m changing my story and I’m trusting God to give me courage to DO the thing that I believe HE created me for. To BE an artist. To LIVE the life of an artist. How am I going to do it? One day at a time. I am going to live like each day is the first day and the last day of my life.
From my earliest memories, the thing I could always be found doing was drawing. Things I took notice of, needed to find their way on the page. I think everyone who knew me, knew that art was what I was about. It’s all I’ve ever cared deeply about, well, except for God and my family of course. All my days of drawing brought such a sense of happiness and purpose to me in my younger days, until my first year in high school at the tender age of 15. Art class was not just an extra curricular activity for me, it was my life. I think it was my dedication in class and to course work, coupled with a project that I was working on, that caused my teacher to ask if I would consider competing in a painting competition that was to be held at a college in another town about two hours away. I wasn’t the first person she asked. She had asked another girl in class who turned it down. I told her that I didn’t feel I was up for the task, because for many years, I had mostly just drawn and I didn’t even own a set of paints or brushes. She and others in the class convinced me that I could do this and I reluctantly agreed. Up to this point, my experience in the art world, concepts in art…were to say the least, extremely limited.
It was the weekend, although I don’t remember what day, it was most likely Saturday. The two hour drive to the collage, was made with several other students who were going to cheer me on and my teacher, along with a couple other students, were in a different car. To say the least, I was nervous, but convinced myself that I could do this. The time came for the participants to assemble at individual tables for instruction. New tubes of paint on my table, a fresh WHITE, BLANK, canvas, new brushes....then came the instruction. Up to this point, I had no clue what we were going to paint, what the rules would be, I knew nothing. We were to paint the still life....wait, still life? Still life....believe it or not, I had no idea what a still life was. We were told that we could arrange the still life any way we wanted....words were swirling around in my head. What does this mean? We can go up and rearrange? What does this mean? Remember, outside of drawing, my experience was limited. I don’t remember how much time we had to paint the still life, but I do know that half of that time, I was paralyzed! By the time I started doing anything, the time was almost up and I pretty much had nothing on the canvas. Then came the ultimate humiliation. All paintings were displayed out in the great hall and were going to be judged. I hadn’t even thought about that part! Truthfully, that entire experience was so humiliating, I don’t even remember what my painting looked like. I do know it was not finished. I do remember the silence when my classmates and teacher saw it, and I do remember the silence on the two hour drive home and I do remember taking the painting to my room and hiding it behind the window, because I had no place to throw it away before I got home. Life altering, life crippling, was what this experience was for me.
I’m pretty smart, very introspective, why is it that I haven’t been able to break free of this prison of fear for all of these years. Believe me, I’ve read books, tried to force myself to begin again, push past it, only to find myself unable to break free. There is an earlier post on my blog where I talk about the experience of a Plein Air Convention that I attended in Monterey, CA. in 2013. 8 years ago!! I heard Joe Paquet speak and just wow! I thought for sure, I would be able to apply what I learned and what his speech meant to me, to break free. Nope. So many times I’ve given myself chances, trying to push myself, trying to break the chains of fear. I went to Salina, CO. to attend a workshop with Joshua Been, attended a workshop in St. Paul, Minnesota with Joe Paquet, went to France with Cindy Roof and a group of other artist. Through it all, most of the time I was too gripped with fear to paint. The tender, gentle nudging of both Josh and Joe helped me to finally do something, but not what I had painted over and over in my mind while there and definitely not what I was capable of. Last year, I attended a virtual Plein Air Workshop and I had so much fun. No one could see my work, as the conference was Virtual. I was sketching along with the painting demos and was so happy. I was doing the thing that I love, I was doing the thing that makes me FEEL like me. I even surprised myself at how happy I was with the work I did, that I actually, even with the imperfections, shared them on social media as a way to help me push past my fears. Only, they were still present.
What is wrong with me? Maybe I should have gotten counseling years ago. I just kept thinking I could get past this fear that had such a tight grip on me.
Why does it all of this matter so much anyway? It matters because every day, every day! I paint so many pictures in my mind, it’s all I think about, it’s what I love, it’s what I want to do on canvas, it’s the life I want to live, it won’t let me go and I don’t want to let it go. I can hear Maria now, as she would look up and say “yes God”.
So, here I am today. After reading yet another book to help with this struggle I’ve had for too long, I realized something, something I learned from the book. Actually, I’ve realized several somethings. One of the biggest somethings I realized is, I can flip the script, I can rewrite my story. Instead of focusing on the disaster of that one day, that one day that I was not prepared for, I’m going to focus on the fact that I was chosen to compete out of a class full of students because of the work I had done. I hadn’t considered that before, never entered my mind! All I could see, all I could FEEL, was the failure.
I’m thankful for my family and friends who have always cheered me on. They’ve been my biggest supporters. I’m thankful for my mentors, my teachers, who have imparted so much wisdom, knowledge and words of encouragement that I will always carry with me.
I have BIG plans and visions for my future, but they can only come true by “DOING” one day at a time. How fun is that going to be! Even if I only get one day, it will be a great day. I’m not saying there won’t be some fear, some insecurities, but they won’t be defined by the past and they won’t keep me from living my best day, each day.
So now, I say goodbye to yesterday and to focusing on the future and live for the day. I get to stand on the shoulders of giants as I learn and DO. I get to dream a big dream, live a big dream, all the while knowing that as big as my dreams are, God is able to make even bigger dreams come true.
To quote the book that has changed my perspective: “Day by day by day”.
The book that brought me to this place of understanding: "WinThe day: 7 Daily Habits To Help You Stress Less and Accomplish More" by Mark Batterson
By the way, I believe seeing this book on FB by a friend of a friend, was a God Stop. One of those moments where you have the nudge to stop and look, take notice.
Maria DeLaJuen and some of the thoughts that she took the time to write and type to me (some her original thoughts, some borrowed). She knew the depth of my struggle.
Joe Paquet: So many things. Some which are listed in an earlier blog. Through his mentoring, I learned so much. Things that for sure will be a springboard to everything I do from this time forward.
Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may not come, right now I have this moment, this day. I’m going to make the most of it. THIS, is day one for me. I believe I am free and I thank God for it.
I am really blessed to be a part of Joe Paquet’s mentoring program. I write in an earlier blog about hearing him speak at the Plein Air Art Convention and the impact he had on me. Among other things, he has taught me the importance of honing various basic skills, to reach a level of mastery.
Putting in the time, being true to the craft, studying hard, having something to say, the need to say it, and a unique voice to say it with are all important atributes in this journey.
I am seeking to find the voice of my own hand which can only be found by study and putting in the time. Van Gogh had the need to say something and he said it so beautifully in his work, which is uniquely his own. I love that.
I am thankful for artist that are gracious and share their knowledge.
In the blog post by Dena Peterson, “Ten Things I Learned From Vincent Van Gogh”, she touches on some of the ideas that I’ve learned from Joe.
In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent wrote, “what one does remains, and one does not easily regret having done it.”
I guess what I’ve always loved about VanGogh was his unique voice and his perseverance because of his love for art and doing it. But not until my recent studies with Joe Piquet, did I realize the beauty of a mark, the rhythm in the line, shapes and the beautiful unity of it all.
I am grateful and happy.
It was hard to do today but I unplugged from it all and tried another day at this little painting. Seeing what I could learn from another day of doing it.
This little painting has been on the easel way too long, unfinished. It's still a work in progress but I'm very happy with it so far.
I've painted it a hundred times in my mind and so happy that I finally mustered up the courage to work on it.
My goal is to make myself paint everyday to build on what I learn each day and also, so that my courage doesn't wane.
I learned so much for my former teacher Maria DeLaJuen and I am very happy to own two pieces of art with her signature. She was the one that first introduced me to the old masters. When I paint or think about painting, her words and voice are ever present in my heart. So much so, that it brings tears to my eyes.
On the first day of my new journey, as I get my studio space ready for the days ahead, I think of her.
Here is an exerpt from a letter she typed to me; a treasured gift:
1. Quality: Comes by seeing great art, by looking at great objects of art. A room all your own and a time all your own, build your mind. Knowledge of past art is important, get excited about it, capture the spirit of it.
2. Control: Comes through knowledge and pratice.
3. Faith: You must believe in yourself, never give up, NEVER GIVE UP expect a masterpiece each time you work.
4. Persistance: Keep working past point where you want to give up, where you want to put your foot through it.
5. Patience: There is no short cut to great art, it takes time and work.
Simple, strong, solid!!!
Maria was very passionate about life and art. I can hear her voice now, as she says very passionately, "NEVER GIVE UP".
Two more little paintings that I finished in my journey to learn to paint beautiful greens and create atmosphere.
I still am not getting the colors true in the photos.
I hope you enjoy looking at my work.
This is my world this morning with Eric Clapton filling the air and prayers running through my head and heart. Responding to feelings, colors and trying to learn what I don't yet know.
I'm happy with this piece and excited to learn more as I fight to push past fears.
"The Mighty Mississippi"
Today I was studying greens and blues that I learned from Joe Paquet's workshop and really trying to think about perspective.
I need to figure out how to photograph my paintings, the greens in this photo appear a little lighter than they really are. I'll post the final picture once the painting is signed (which means I'm really finished with it).
I'm very happy with the day's work. #JoePaquet #Mississippiriver #paintinggreens
After a nice shower and lotion applied to her body
She slipped on her pretty little gown.
Her frail hands reached into the drawer for her lipstick.
As she traced her lips with color, her frail hand almost failed her.
A little color for her eyebrows and maybe a different color added to her lips.
I watched my mom in the mirror as she looked at herself practicing the rituals of a woman and I saw her for the first time as a woman and not just my mom.
It was bedtime.
Lost in that moment of feeling good that the natural next thing to do was to put on the color.
Granddad and Cricket
By Renee Painter
For as far back as my memory reaches, visions and memories of Granddad and his farm will always be with me.
Take a look around…just after turning onto the dirt drive and just beyond the gate with the cowbell, sits the little 2-bedroom house. To the left of it was a smaller house that I believe was for guests, but I never really knew and still don’t to this day. Across the drive was an old wooden cattle shoot overgrown with grass and weeds; the sun had set on it long ago. Just down from the cattle pen was the old barn that seemed so big and scary to me. It was not very safe the adults said because it could fall down and it had mice in it. I wonder if all that was true or just a really good way to keep all of us kids out of there. And best of all, beyond all of this was the gate that leads to a piece of my Granddad’s land that seemed to go on forever. No running water, no bathroom facilities, just a plain simple home…the best kind and a place where some of my best memories were born.
This was the home of my Great Grandmother and Great Granddad. But I just called him Granddad and my Great-grandmother I never met because she had went to Heaven a year before I was born.
Granddad had nicknamed my sister and me, he called Crystal “ladybug” and he named me “cricket”. I can’t remember a time when Granddad called me anything except cricket and I loved that. I asked my mom one day when we looked back in time and were talking about the farm how Granddad came to nickname me Cricket. She said she could see it so clearly as if it was just yesterday. I was just a baby and granddad was holding me and bent down to putt my legs into the water of the pond on the hill place, I was pulling my legs up and down and my granddad laughed and said I looked just like a cricket. He said, “that’s what I’m going to call her…cricket”, and from that day forward that was my name when I was with my Granddad.
I was very fortunate to have spent some time on the farm with granddad. I have stayed there in the summertime when the air was so hot and so still it felt like you could not get a breath. And I have stayed there in the wintertime when we wished we had indoor plumbing!
One week in the summertime I went to stay at granddads with my grandmother. It was so hot one night that my grandmother and I had to take our bedding outside to sleep. The night was so magnificent!! We were lying there looking up into the night sky, the stars were so bright and there were so many there didn’t seem to be any space between them. It was so quiet you could hear all of nature in the night air and the drums of the Indian reservation in the distance. Even with all the spectacular wonderment around me I really worried about the wolves or coyotes that I was hearing howling in the distance! Grandma and I were lying there talking and looking at the stars and I was telling her that I was scarred, afraid that the coyotes would come and attack us. I can just here her laughing and laughing now. She told me not to worry, and that they were more afraid of us and just as she said that my granddads dog approached us and scarred the daylights out of me. My grandmother was laughing so hard that I too started laughing. I think we laughed ourselves to sleep that night.
I think that was the summer that I got to go with my Granddad to harvest the wheat he was growing on a piece of land he leased from a neighbor. He said “come on Cricket, hop up there into the bed of the truck”, and there I stood as the tractor followed beside us with the wheat pouring into the bed of the truck. After all the wheat was harvested he and I headed to the silo to deliver the wheat. I remember as we approached the silo I was a little scared because I did not see how we were going to drive into what seemed like two tall little cylinders. Granddad just laughed and of course as we got closer it became clear that our truck could fit in there after all.
One winter my Grandmother, sister, cousin and I were spending what was supposed to be a weekend at granddads farm but it snowed so much that we were snowed in and could not get the car out to go home. We had a lot of fun that weekend playing in the snow. While we were outside playing one day in the snow we noticed these strange small markings in the snow. We ran inside to get granddad to find out what these were. After coming outside to examine these markings he told us they were Indian markings. We were scarred to death!! And he just laughed and laughed. We were afraid to go back out for the longest time, which was just fine with grandma because she was tired of us coming in and out. One time she was so mad at us for tracking snow into the house she stormed off to the chicken coup to use the restroom and the snow was so deep, one minute she was on top of the snow and the next she was knee deep it. We laughed so hard. That weekend a neighbor from a nearby farm came to pick us up on his tractor to drive us to town where my mom and dad were meeting us to take us home so that grandma could go to work that Monday. Grandma sat towards the front of the tractor and Crystal, Kim and I sat on a couple of bails of hay on the back of the tractor all the way to town, now that was an adventure!
God is so good!! I am thankful for these gifts in life. I think of the times like these that our kids miss. Wide open spaces, simple adventures, looking up into the sky with no light pollution to see the wonder of God, simple quiet times with loved ones. In my mind I walk the land with its stillness and my heart is glad.
I was fortunate enough to take a trip last year to a place I had only dreamed of going; New York!
At the top of my list of things to see and do, was of course the Statue Of Liberty. "Would it be bigger than I imagined, would I love it even more in person, would I be disappointed". As awesome as it was seeing the Lady across the harbor, with her golden torch of freedom held high, does not even compare to rounding the bend and seeing her in all her glory up close. Yes, she was more than I dreamed she would be. More magnificent than any picture I had ever seen.
As I made my way around the statue, taking pictures that I knew would never do justice to that which was before me, I tried to take closeups of the beauty of the statue. Amazing to me, were the folds, so beautiful the attention to detail.
Here, is my interpretation of one of the images I captured that day. My intention was that upon initial viewing of this piece, one would think it to be an abstract painting, if the title were not known. This is series one in the Collection, that will comprise different sections of The Statue of Liberty.
As seen from behind, looking up, "The Folds of Liberty".
Thank you for looking and I hope you enjoy.
Sitting in my dining room enjoying coffee and the quiet solitude of morning. So beautiful the grey of trees and fence contrasted with the beautiful blue sky. Just then, when i didn't think it could get any better, this bird entered the picture.
All I've ever thought about and dreamed about, was being an artist and painting.