Sparrow Series in Progress

I am starting another sparrow painting for my series of these lovely birds. I just adore watching them at the feeder.

As with all my paintings, I start with a very detailed drawing. In order to achieve the degree of realism that I strive for, the accuracy of the drawing is essential.  I lightly draw my image onto my watercolor paper using a 0.5 drafting pencil. I then decide if I want a background. In this painting I laid down a light wash of winsor green yellow shade, and then let it dry. I may go back and darken it a bit at the end.

Next, with all birds and other wildlife, I begin the painting by the working the eye first. I do this because if I wait and paint everything else and then the eye doesn’t look right, I have ruined my painting. If the eye is right from the start, I usually am ok through the rest of the painting. Any other mistakes can (usually) be fixed.

This is the start of another watercolor. I am hoping the end result is to my liking! Thanks for reading!

May you have ease of being in all you do today!

Maggie

Door # 4 of Living Behind Our Doors

  This is the 4th of 5 doors in my series on Living Behind Our Doors.  As I’ve written in a previous post, I am inspired to paint doors because they are such a metaphor for the times we are living in. On so many levels, Doors are closed in these times and we are hiding behind them out of fear and anxiety.

Please click on my previous blog post about my thoughts that inspired this series and to see the other doors I’ve been painting.

I hope you are well and find ease of being in all you do today.

Maggie

Living Behind Our Doors

Doors, a metaphor for our times.

Doors close. Doors open. Doors can hold a welcome sign, or they can say “keep out.”

Doors are a powerful symbol in this unprecedented time in our lives and also in our country.  Since March of 2020, COVID-19 has kept many of us closed behind our doors, afraid to venture into the world. We are afraid of the virus, so we have stayed in our homes for months with no end in sight. Living behind the closed doors of our homes may be the new normal for many of us. Fear and anxiety are very real, and we have no idea when it will be safe to go out again.

Yet, the virus is not the only reason for closed doors. 

We white people have closed the doors on people of color.  No, not just closed, but slammed the doors shut since the beginning of our “civilized” world.  Signs have hung on doors saying people of color “not allowed,” “need not apply,” and many other words of hate and segregation.  Even now, the signs are there. They may not hang visibly on the doors, but the unspoken messages remain. Racism remains.  Black Lives Matter is a movement to open the doors, and stop the killing, the violence, and the racism that is much like the virus— insidious and always present. 

LGBTQ+ intolerance remains. In June a divided Supreme Court advanced the cause of LGBTQ+ rights ruling a civil rights law barring sex discrimination in the workplace applies to gay, lesbian and transgender workers. The fact that it was met with division says so much about the ongoing battle in our country for anyone who is not a white straight male. The suicide rates within the LGBTQ+ community are astronomical. 

Doors are powerful metaphors for so much of the pain and suffering going on around us in this time in our lives.

So, I am painting doors. I am painting a series of doors, and I paint them with a purpose: to say that I am aware of the closed doors in our lives and that I am emotionally open to all the things those doors symbolize. 

I recently read a beautiful reference in Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts Of Imperfection: “The Hopi Indians have a saying, ‘To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.’” This quote really moved me because as an artist, I paint so that my heart can be seen. 

 With my paints and brushes, I am painting doors. My heart hopes that they open. 

If you would like to join me with your own painted or photographed doors, my door is open. I will be posting this series on my website maggiehartart.com and if there is any interest I would happily add yours to the gallery. I’m thinking if there is enough interest I could add some links to donate to organizations for covid relief, racial injustice or LGBTQ+ rights.   If interested, send me an email at maggiehartart@gmail.com and let us see if this goes anywhere. 

As Artists, we can open doors. 

May you have ease of being in all you do today.

Maggie

Questioning Everything

 Today I question. I question all the pain and suffering in the world at this time. We live with so much fear. Fear of a deadly virus, oppression, violence, and government power.

And yet I painted a pretty blue bird on an apple blossom branch. I paint the opposite of what is true in the world. The Fear and darkness, hatred and oppression are not expressed in this painting. Issues rarely are. I paint little animals. Animals don’t have issues.

Is it that I choose to escape with my paints into a prettier world? Is it that I am ignoring the truth? Do I have a responsibility to paint representations of relevant issues or do I leave that to the “real artists”? Would it make me a “real artist” if I painted the political and social truths of the world around me?

I don’t know. I am questioning, looking inside and asking myself why.

Just thoughts.  Please feel free to share yours if you wish.

May your day be filled with ease of being.

Maggie

 

Behind Our Doors during Covid-19

Blue Door 4/16/2020  Watercolor 12×14

It is April 2020. We are in a war. A world war.  A war against a virus that has every country shut down and  quarantined in one way or another. Here in the USA we are in a state of emergency, a national crisis. We are in a stay at home advisory/order, wearing face masks when we go outside and watching the death count grow by the day. Who would ever have thought our lives could change in such a short time. Covid-19 has us running scared. But we aren’t running. We can’t run because we can’t go out in public. We are “social distancing”  behind the doors of our own homes hoping it doesn’t get in. We live in fear of our loved ones or ourselves getting sick from this highly contagious virus that has no cure. Everything is cancelled. Schools are closed. Restaurants are open for take out only.  Only the people deemed “essential” by the government can go to work. Doctors, nurses, health professionals, grocery store clerks, police/fire and companies in the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) are some of the workforce still engaged in life outside of the home.

The rest of us wait.

I paint. Painting in a pandemic. Pandemic art. Art is not cancelled.

I painted this door from a beautiful photo by Karen French aka Inspired_by_Petals on Instragram. The photo called to me. It symbolizes our lives right now. Living our lives behind closed doors even though on the outside everything looks normal as Spring flowers bloom and the sun shines in bright blue skies.

But nothing is normal. Normal may never be again.

Be safe. Stay well. May you find ease of being today, behind your closed doors, even in this.

~Maggie

Finding my way as an artist.

What makes someone an artist? I used to have an idea in my head that in order to be a “real” artist one had to have gone to art school, enter and win shows, make the covers of artist magazines and most importantly, sell their work.

Well, I didn’t go to art school but I have entered two shows and won in one of them. At that show, the honor of winning left me thinking, “now I can say I am an artist”.  Then came a larger show at which I didn’t place. Did that mean I was mistaken? Was it a fluke? Was I not really an artist after all? And then there is the selling issue. Yes, I have sold paintings… to friends. I have even shipped sold art across the country..again friends. So, is my art not “good enough” for the general public?

And then comes the question do I really even need to sell my art?  It is not my primary source of income and thank goodness for that or I would really  be in trouble.

I paint because my heart leads me to my brushes and paper. I paint because I love seeing the subject come alive under my brushstrokes. I paint because I lose time and become one with my most authentic, creative self and just flow with it. I paint because it is one of the places in my world that I feel truly at peace in my mind. Can I really put a price tag on that kind of experience? Would selling a painting make any difference in my artistic process? I don’t think so.

Maybe what makes me an artist is the joy I get from painting. Maybe that is enough. Maybe art, for me, is simply the process, and my reward for painting is the joy. Who could ask for more than that?

Thanks for reading and may you find joy in your moments today.

Maggie

2020 ~ A New Decade

 

Today is the last day of December 2019. As I turn my sites to 2020 I am excited and honored to be starting my new years art journey with a solo exhibit at the Spencer Public Library from January 6th through February.  The exhibit is titled, Creatures Among Us, Watercolor Wildlife and consists of 12 of my favorite pieces from 2019. I never thought I would call myself an artist, never mind be exhibiting my work. I am so thankful to The Massasoit Art Guild who has made this possible. The Guild is a wonderful organization that supports and encourages its members to grow as artists and show their work.  As an artist, the support and friendships I’ve developed there has been vital to my personal growth and level of confidence. I would encourage anyone who is interested in art or photography to join the Guild and/or an Art Guild in your own local community. Support local Art Guilds supporting local artists.

Thanks for Reading and may you find ease of being in this New Year!

 

Maggie

Sparrow Love

I am so excited to be entering my second art show this week. My painting Sparrow Love will be among hundreds of amazing paintings of all genres at ArtsWorcester The One Show on Dec 6th through the month. I have no expectations of this show except to enjoy being among my good friends Susan, Bob and Jen as we all enter our pieces.

So thankful for being able to paint and show my work.

Thanks for stopping by. May you have ease of being in all you do today.

Maggie

 

First Art Show ~ Best In Show

 I had the first exhibition of my work at the Massasoit Art Guilds 16th Annual Show this last weekend Oct 19th & 20th. To my great surprise and joy I won Best In Show for my painting Sparrow Love. I also received a Memorial Award for my painting Blue Eyes. It was such a wonderful experience and gave my confidence in my work a boost. We all have occasional self doubt and I have an abundance of it at times.  This award certainly reinforces my identity as an artist. I am thankful the to Guild for the opportunity to show my work and and the support and encouragement from the other guild members.  It was so great to have my sister Sue with me on Saturday when the awards were given out and the support of my family and friends throughout the weekend. What a wonderful experience!

The Pursuit for Perfection

I just finished this painting “raccoon in a tree hollow” and I  became very frustrated during the process. I wanted so badly for this painting to be “perfect”. I love the photograph and have seen it done by other artists with great success.

I was initially off to a great start with the raccoon, but soon realized that the bark was just too complicated for me to paint with the drawing I did. It just wasn’t detailed enough for this painting. I tried to redo the bark over and over, lifting paint, putting washes down, lifting and repeat.  I was confused by where the shadows should be and lost my light source.  I ended up with a mess of overworked paper and muddy colors. I felt so frustrated and defeated. Any creative endeavor has the potential to make us feel this way, especially when we invest so much time, energy, money and most of all, heart and soul.

I know art is subjective. I know art isn’t about perfection but the process of creating. Art is the joy of painting, practicing and improving my skills. I know I learn from these “unsuccessful” paintings and that is good. But…..the pursuit for perfection lingers in the back of my mind.  “THIS is going to be my best painting ever”, I say to myself at the start of a new painting project. I “know” this isn’t the best thing to say to myself, but I desperately want to achieve the level of painting I have set as a standard for myself.  I want to be there “now” and that is the inherit frustration of the pursuit for perfection. It feels bad. And I love painting so much that I don’t want it to feel bad. Ever.

So, I am going to try and just enjoy the process and rid myself of this self imposed standard. I am going to paint and try to find something beautiful in every painting and along the way, I will improve.

Practice makes…. no not perfect, but better.

Wishing you ease of being in all you do today. Thanks for reading!

Maggie

 

The Foxes of Provincetown

I just finished the third of a series of paintings on foxes. The Red Fox is a common site in Massachusetts but especially visible in the small community of Provincetown. During a visit to my brother who lives there I was surprised to see them regularly around his house. They appear to have no fear of humans and raise their young in burrows made in close proximity to people. I was fascinated by the ease in which these beautiful wild animals live among the people. Deciding to paint them was an easy choice.

These last two paintings  were based on photographs taken by Elizabeth Brooke, a Provincetown/Cape Cod wildlife photographer as well as a wildlife officer and advocate for the foxes of the outer Cape.  She was gracious enough to let me use her beautiful photos and I am very thankful.  Watching them come to life on my paper was a joyous experience.

For more about the foxes in Massachusettes visit https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-about-foxes

and https://ptownie.com/provincetown-fox-takes-at-what-2019/

Baby FoxProvincetown Fox

May you have ease of being in all you do today!

Maggie