Friday, September 30, 2011

Exploring the Inlets and Waterways of the Gulf

A few friends in our art league took time off Wednesday to explore the inlets and waterways of the Caloosahatchee river and the Gulf. It was a mini-vacation of sorts, and allowed all of us to take a breather from painting to explore the wonders of the place where we live.

Some of these photos will be background for future paintings, and some will actually end up as the focal point or center of interest. Cameras were flashing as we enjoyed the sky, the elaborate cloud formations, and the reflections of boats, pilings and piers in the water.

We decided that the reason we all get along so well, is that we’re all weird. Yes, artists are a little weird. Our minds flit from one idea to another focusing on color and form in one moment, and in the next lines and shapes. We’re always envisioning our next painting. We have difficulty focusing on other people’s rants as our mind’s have already digested that thought and moved onto the next. We sometimes exist in our own little world and create fantasies in our heads. We have a comedic response to much of life and so laugh a lot.

       Ken and Adrian at the helm.

It was a great day! Graciela and Glen lived on a boat on one of the small islands for more than a year. They claim it as their own. They knew the channels and the back waters with the best of them.

Ken and Adrienne have been boating together since Ken moved here from Vermont. Ken belongs to a boating club and was kind enough to offer his services to the group. We had fish and chips at Burt's Bar, a salty place near Pine Island. On the way we went past the Sanibel Causeway and the Sanibel lighthouse. The views were irresistible, and we paused to cool off in the water and enjoy the beach.

Many mangrove “starts” were floating in the water. I brought one home that had roots, but don’t know whether it will survive in freshwater. There were also starters of Sea Grape which apparently adapts to both salt and fresh water. Graciela picked up a lovely piece of driftwood that she planned to turn into sculpture. Unfortunately, Annie’s bright pink hat blew off in the water, and we had to turn around and retrieve it with no other than Gracie’s driftwood. A piece broke off in the process, but it still looks artistic.

We all came back sunburned and windblown. We were on the water for five or six hours. We had a marvelous time in spite of the wake from passing boats that caused us to ride the waves like a bucking bronco. I asked Diane how she managed to keep her hat on, and as she started to explain, she nearly lost it in the passing wake.

We did see two dolphins that jumped out of the water and then underneath our boat. It was impossible to photograph, they are so fast. Shots of cormorants, pelicans and terns were plentiful. Fishermen on shore made us smile as we watched them wrestle the egrets for their fish. What a beautiful day! What a wonderful gift from God.

Carol has paintings and drawings of pelicans, egrets, ibis, heron and other water birds on her web site at

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Letting go, experimenting, and discovery

Today I attended an online seminar by Lisa L. Cyr, artist and author of several books, including her latest “Experimental Painting;” a book I purchased a few days ago. The book and class inspired me, and I’m eager to take some of my old canvases and repaint them using some of her techniques. Lisa has a blog at

India Rising Series -- The Found

I’m also showing the completed painting from my new India Rising Series “the Found.” I’ve included some preliminary stages to refresh your memory. I had always envisioned adding doves to represent the spirit of light flowing out of the women’s prayers. Some in my art group said: “I don’t think so,” or “I don’t know about doves.”

I’m a rebel of sorts, and once I get an idea in my head, I can’t get it out. When I discovered an Indian bride and groom online and learned about their traditions, it was a clincher. Part of the wedding ceremony in many Indian marriages includes the opening of a basket containing two doves. When the basket is opened, and the doves fly out and away, it is believed that the couple will be blessed with many years of peace.

That is exactly the message I wanted to portray in this painting. The women are “found” through their faith and blessed with “peace” and light. So the doves stay!

The next painting in my India Rising Series is called “Prince of Thieves.” This painting portrays the street children of India and how they survive. Perhaps this series will draw attention not only to India’s colorful history and beauty, and their rising status in the world, but will also highlight the plight of those who are less fortunate and need our compassion and help.

I lamented a few blogs ago that I’d failed to meet my goals for summer: more drawings and some experimentation with pastels. The “in progress” drawing below is done with charcoal and pastels. I call it: “Sareena Shines” a triumphant moment in Sareena Williams’ life as she wins at Wimbledon. At this point, I can see that I need to make adjustments to Sareen's right arm.

See Carol’s other drawings @ (Click on Etsy Icon at right), or

Friday, September 23, 2011

The First Day of Autumn

Fall is upon us, or so the radio voice blared. I looked at my husband and said: “Prove it by me?”

I don’t mean to be cynical, but when you live in Southern Florida where the daily temperatures are still in the 90s, and the humidity is almost as high, it’s hard to imagine that somewhere in the country temperatures are dropping and the leaves are changing.

The amazing thing about Florida is that the grass and the leaves stay green year round; unless, of course, winter drought conditions become severe. The Southern Oaks lose their leaves simultaneously while sprouting new ones. You rarely see a bare tree. I’m not complaining, mind you. The changes that occur are nearly undetectable unless you’re watching for them.

My favorite tree in this changing scenario is the Golden Rain Tree. Today we witnessed its first blooms: yellow stalks of flowers that crown the tree with lustre. Later, purple seed pods appear that will gradually turn into a peach colored parchment. Their papery thin casing protects the seeds within reminding me of miniature Chinese lanterns. They hang like tiny wind chimes where once golden stalks grew upward and outward.

We planted a new hibiscus plant a few days ago. Its lovely orange blooms have maroon centers. They only last one day and then the blossom fades to yellow as its life withers to a close. This morning a fresh new flower had been eaten to its maroon center. You could see the bites around the edges. A hungry rabbit had probably enjoyed it for desert. We were left with a nub of disappointment.

Snails are also chomping down on our flowers. “Bugetta” keeps them at bay, but this morning I saw the Mother of all Snails inching down our sidewalk. I have my fingers crossed that she’ll slink into some snail bait and that will finish her off!

Today’s paintings are from my Roaring Twenties Series. I have photographed them in frames as they will appear on my Etsy site. An Etsy icon in the right hand column will direct you to my shop. If you are interested, sale prices on the framed pieces include shipping! Prints are also available.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fighting the Critics and the Inner Demons

Do you ever feel “fragmented” as if everyone wants to take a bite out of you. I was reminded of this feeling upon receiving a phone call this morning asking me to collect funds in our neighborhood for a good cause. There are many good causes. I receive several calls a week asking for donations or services. My mail box is bombarded with favorite “causes” and charities asking for funds. A part of me wishes I could give to all of them.

I feel like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof:” “If I were a rich man, Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum. All day long I'd biddy biddy bum. If I were a wealthy man. I wouldn't have to work hard. Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum. If I were a biddy biddy rich, Yidle-diddle-didle-didle man.”

Expectations, another demon that lectures me each day about should haves, could haves, and would be comparisons between who I am, what I’m not, and the people I use as a measuring stick. Women are especially vulnerable to this kind of attack because we are brought up to be caretakers of family, church and society. That ‘s not a bad thing, but it can eat up hours of time if we’re not careful.

Artists can’t afford these conversations of the mind nor take any action on them. If we do, we’re dead in the water. Our work (which is our life) is put on hold, and we fill our days with non essentials to please those invisible others: the critics and the judges of talent and time.

If I sound philosophical it’s because I just finished reading: Steven Pressfield’s book “The War of Art; Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles” Most of those battles are won in the mind and heart, and most of the enemies we battle come from within.

The book can be read in one day. It must be read and re-read to absorb the hidden truths therein. Although, I don’t agree with everything Pressfield said, I did find much truth and common sense. I’ve always felt, as he does, that inspiration and truth are out there for anyone to latch onto if we are in tune with the “spirits, the muses, the powers” that create and guide the universe.

I can’t remember how many ideas I’ve had for stories, illustrations and paintings that never materialized except in my head. And then I learned later that someone else had taken my idea and run with it, sometimes at great financial success. Why? Because they “sat down and implemented it or worked at it.”

There’s a small window of opportunity between success and failure. The person who plods along regardless of the critics, the sarcasm, the “it can’t be done” thinking is the one who wins. We must keep on keeping on even when all around us say we are wasting our time.

“Creative work is…a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” –Steven Pressfield

Carol “wastes her time” @

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Exploring Downtown Fort Myers

In my last blog, I told you I was going downtown to visit some galleries and to take photos of street scenes and buildings. An artist never knows when he or she is going to use these as background in a painting.

Urban paintings are a hot item right now, so I’m hoping I’ll find something in these photos that will inspire me. One young woman coming through a brick alley was striking in black boots and white tunic. I asked her if I could take her picture. She declined. You can barely see her walking toward me in the scene.

Fort Myers with its brick walkways and streets is probably classier than most, and on a weekday there are fewer people except on the lunch hour when they exit the buildings and stores like ants and flood the nearby restaurants.

The Caloosahatchee River is a short walk from First Avenue, so we were able to get some interesting photos of piers, bridges, and pilings (a must for painting pelicans and seagulls). Boats were churning through the water and under the bridge. A few fishermen dangled their lines from the wharf, and a group of teens gathered after school to roller blade and exchange gossip.

Some homeless men had ridden their bicycles into Centennial Park and were swapping stories with one another as we passed. We waved and said hello. By the sound of things, perhaps we made their day.

Doorways make good subjects for paintings, and my friend, Annie, took many more than I did. I’m a people person and would have liked more scenes with people, but that just didn’t happen.

Will I use any of these photos in a painting or will they just be filed “reference photos.” I’ll never know until the muse strikes. I hope you enjoyed seeing a tiny part of the Fort Myers I love. It is unique, memorable, and has ten remarkable art galleries within walking distance, theatre, and fifteen plus restaurants from white linen bistros offering fresh seafood and wine to pizza parlors and Chicago style hot dog cafes.

I don’t know about you, but if this is “small town” living, I’m lovin’ it!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Reason for the Season

It’s hard to believe that Fall is just around the corner. I’m always making big plans to design new Christmas cards and artwork for Halloween and Thanksgiving, but I never quite jump in soon enough.

My new pastels are still awaiting their first swipe on a clean slate. I didn’t add any new drawings to my repertoire as planned, and here I am at the peak of a new holiday Season without “fresh meat.”

I’ve been spending some time on my “India Rising” series, and battling migraine headaches at the same time. Perhaps I am allergic to the Liquin, turpenoid and oils I use?

I have two large 24x30 canvases and I haven’t decided what to fill them with. I’m also working on a drawing that I hope to use some pastel color on. We’ll see what happens.

Today, I’m going with an artist friend, Annie, to see her show at “Arts for Act” Gallery. My show has not been scheduled as yet. If you go to and find the artists, you can see my profile at the bottom of the list. I’m a newcomer there, so my name is last. We’re also going to do some gallery hopping and take some photos downtown hoping for some urban scenes that will inspire and motivate.

I will soon become a member of the Alliance for the Arts through my membership with the PanAmerican Alliance. This will provide additional opportunities for entering juried shows and participating in other community venues.

As Fall turns the corner and ebbs into the holiday season, don’t forget that artwork makes a wonderful gift. Greeting cards, prints, wrapped canvases and giclees are all available at affordable prices @

Friday, September 9, 2011

A New Series in Progress – India Rising

I didn’t imagine when I finished my painting “The Lost” that it would end up being the first in a series. What happened between that last stroke of paint on canvas and my decision to do another?

I was haunted, not only by the abandoned street urchin, but by images of thousands of children roaming the streets of India, homeless, hungry, abused and diseased.

India is a colorful, fascinating country. It is a contrast of beliefs and values between the “chosen” and the cast off. The people are beautiful, intelligent, and forward thinking, yet their customs and traditions bind them to old belief systems that threaten individual growth and enlightenment. The few that find it, I call “The Found,” the name of my second painting in the series.

"The Found" -- 3/4 finished

The third painting, “Prince of Thieves” came from an article I read about how the abandoned children form families; the older taking care of the younger. To survive, they scrounge in garbage cans for food or steal. As they grow older, this thieving becomes organized and the innocence of childhood is lost forever.

"Prince of Thieves" -- Drawing

Many of the children are sold into the sex trade or use sex as a way to earn money for food. With no one to care for them, disease is rampant, and the street waifs quickly go downhill.

"Prince of Thieves" -- Acryllic underpainting

With extra money, most turn to drugs for brief moments of release from pain and loneliness. To my horror, one cheap drug they turn to is “white out” that little bottle of white correction fluid we use to cover errors on paper text. White out is poured into a cloth and little by little is sucked into the mouth of the user.

"Prince of Thieves" -- Starting oil paint overlay

With their small mouths covered in white, they eventually join others who laugh and walk like drunken sailors until they crash on the pavement and sleep. In some locations, the streets are covered with sleeping urchins. To make their plight worse, others steal what little they have while they’re asleep.

I hope my paintings not only capture the beauty of India, but the sadness of a people trapped in the past while trying to reach the brass ring of the future. Those who make it are to be admired and respected.

To see other paintings and series go to my web site @