Thursday, October 31, 2013

Memories of Halloweens Past: The Great Candy Exchange

“Halloween Cat”    9” x 12”   Pastel   $100   © Sharon Lewis
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My 5 brothers and sisters and I had trick or treating down to a science.
We knew who were the nicest and most generous neighbors when it came to candy. These were the adults that never gave you anything remotely healthy, like an apple. No, they would hand out huge (to our eyes) fistfuls of candy. Given that our mother rarely allowed us to have candy we thought we’d died and gone to heaven! When we returned to the house, we dumped our now bulging sacks of candy on the floor and the great candy exchange was open for business. Thus ensued some of the most fierce trading you have ever seen! “I’ll trade you 2 Baby Ruths for that Reeses peanut butter cup,”  one of us would shout. Or, “I’ll give you 3 packs of gum for that Hershey’s bar.” This usually went on for at least 20 minutes or until we were all convinced that no more productive trades were going to take place. The seriousness and skill with which we conducted this trading makes me wonder why none of us later considered a career on the NY Stock Exchange.
Ahhh…the good old days…Wait, you’ve got an Almond Joy? I’ll trade you that for 2 Snickers bars! 
Today’s painting is from my friend Karen’s photo of her cat. She has 6 or 7 cats now (but who’s counting?). She has such a big heart that she has ended up providing homes for many a sad and hungry stray. All of her cats are beautiful, and are now healthy thanks to her good care. Although black cats are more often associated with Halloween I thought the coloring of this one just seemed to match the colors I associate with this holiday. Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

You've got to love Halloween!

“October Pears”   5” x 7”   Pastel   $50    © Sharon Lewis
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            What’s not to like about Halloween? First of all it involves lots and lots of chocolate. It’s really hard to beat a holiday that involves accumulating reams of candy along with an excuse to look and behave a little crazy. Forget the social pressures that exist most of the time for us to dress and behave in a reasonably respectable manner. This is the one time of year that it’s perfectly socially acceptable to dress up as an unattractive, frightening creature and to try to scare the living daylights out of friends, neighbors, and even small children. And did I mention there’s chocolate? You’ve got to love Halloween!
            Today’s painting is of pears on red Canson paper. I think it gives them a very festive, autumn feel.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What’s with all this orange?

“It’s the Great Pumpkin!”   5” x 7”   Pastel    $50   © Sharon Lewis
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        Why is there so much orange this time of year? I get that pumpkins and other gourds that ripen this time of year are orange, as is some of the fall foliage. But what’s with all of the bright orange-wrapped candy like Reeses (yum!), orange candy corn (last I checked corn was not orange), and orange everywhere you look? Maybe we like orange so much this time of year because as the days get shorter and cooler, we begin to crave more warmth in our lives and orange, a very warm color, helps to satisfy that craving. Whatever the reason, I enjoy the profusion of bright colors like this. Long live orange!
         As if you don’t have enough orange in your life already, here is a bit more. Today’s painting is from a photo I took this weekend at a roadside market up in the North Georgia mountains. They had on display one enormous pumpkin, a sea of normal-sized pumpkins, oddly graceful looking gourds, and tons of fresh fruit. The people there couldn’t have been nicer even though I was much more interested in photographing their produce than I was in buying it. Fortunately, my traveling companion bought enough fruit for them to put up with the annoying photographer lady.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Walk Through the Woods

“October Woods” (Maine Landscape)  5” x 7”   Pastel   $50   © Sharon Lewis
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     This weekend I had the opportunity to do one of my favorite things: to walk through the woods. As much as I love every electronic gadget that comes out as well as the ability to stay connected to family and friends, it’s also nice to occasionally get away from technology and my usual routine. It was a beautiful autumn day and there were very few people on the trail at Black Rock Mountain State Park. As I walked though the woods I heard only the wind blowing through the trees, the sound of a distant trickling stream, and the occasional rustling in the leaves of some animal. I felt very aware of everything around me (perhaps because of the small concern I had that the rustling was caused by a hungry black bear?). I somehow felt more energized but more relaxed. I had no iPhone, no Ipad, no laptop, and couldn’t have been happier.

     Today’s painting is on watercolor paper and is of autumn in the Maine countryside.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The solution to a stressful week? A painting of peace and tranquility.

“High’s Beach”  9” x 12”   Pastel     $100  © Sharon Lewis
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         It’s been a crazy week! Maybe you’ve had one of those too? I have no one to blame for at least some of the craziness. Have you ever just made your To Do list so long that you’d have to be a superhero to get it all accomplished? That’s exactly what I did this week. All I can say is that I got most of it done and the rest can simply wait until Monday.
         I’m off to the North Georgia Mountains later today for a little R & R. I’m hoping to take lots of photos of colorful fall trees. These photos keep me going on those gray and dreary winter days and are always fun to paint from.
         Today’s painting is a sunset from High’s Beach, an apparent favorite location of locals in the Cape May area of New Jersey. Imagine you’re on the beach with waves gently lapping at your feet, a warm breeze on your face, the sounds of sea gulls, and a continuous display of color before you in the sky. You have the best seat in the house!
         I wish you a peaceful, relaxing weekend.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A student’s perspective on learning how to paint trees or… How resistance is futile.

“Road to Talisker”   5” x 7”   Pastel   $50   © Sharon Lewis
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We had our art class last night with Karen Margulis. She talked about a number of useful tips to remember when painting trees and she did her usual impressive job on a demo painting of a tree. She then told us we would be using a technique that we’d used before, which involved doing several quick (10 minute) studies. Although we had all admitted in the past that this was a really great way to apply and later remember what we learned, we whined like teenagers who had been asked to clean up our room or take out the garbage.
            It’s times like these when I’m reminded what a good teacher Karen is. She listened to us whine (maybe secretly counting to ten) and then said something encouraging and supportive and like magic, we all moved into place at our easels and painted three ten-minute studies of trees. She actually let us go longer on one of them because someone complained that we didn’t get a two-minute warning (thanks Nancy!).
In spite of our initial complaining, we all learned a lot about tree shapes, how to mass in these shapes, and to carve into them with the sky. So, we learned valuable lessons including the fact that resistance is futile in the face of an immensely patient, very dedicated, and highly effective teacher. See Karen’s blog here for more helpful tips.
            Today’s painting is one I actually did weeks ago but touched up based on what I learned last night.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fall Reflections

“Fall Reflections”     2.5” x 3.5”    Pastel   $20.00   © Sharon Lewis

Today is a perfect fall day. It’s cool, sunny, breezy, and the leaves are dancing in the air outside my window. The birds are making frequent trips to the feeder,  no doubt trying to make up for the calories they’ve been burning trying to stay warm.
I’ve been working on painting trees lately, trying to prepare for an art class tonight with Karen Margulis. She is an absolutely wonderful teacher so I’m really looking forward to this. I know some of my artist friends hate painting trees but this is something I really want to master since I have always loved trees. What’s not to love? They can be climbed, they offer shade, and this time of year, they offer us an always changing and increasingly colorful landscape. If there’s time this week, I will post more of my tree paintings. For now, this is a mini painting of another beautiful fall day, in Panola State Park.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Got my wish!

“What I Wished For”    9” x 12”   Pastel   $100.00  © Sharon Lewis  
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It’s been cloudy and gray here and I have spent most of the day wishing for some sunshine. Finally, when I was pushing myself to go for my daily 4.5 mile run….and dreading it because I hate running for some reason in really gloomy weather, the sun came out! And the sky was absolutely gorgeous! I was so lucky to be going outside just when the sun was peeking out of the clouds. The sky turned peach and pink and purple and finally yellow and orange. As the sun set, it looked much like today’s painting. It was one of those times when I was really torn between trying to be healthy (and continuing to run) and wanting to stop and paint. The healthy inclination won but at least I got my wish and was fortunate enough to have a stunning sunset as a backdrop for my run. Maybe choosing healthy isn’t so bad after all.

Monday, October 21, 2013

“Find your truth……

“Glen Coe, Scotland”       9 x 12      Pastel      $500      © Sharon Lewis
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“Find your truth” was the advice that Stan Sperlak gave us as we ended our September plein air workshop with him. He was encouraging us to find and focus on what we love if we wanted to become successful painters. Out of all of the valuable advice he gave us, for some reason that message really hit home. I like painting all sorts of subjects but there are certain things that I absolutely love and today’s painting is of one of these subjects. I love dramatic mountains!
This is a painting I just finished yesterday of an area in Scotland, west of Edinburgh and south of Fort William. One of the books I have describes it as, “a world of deadly crags and killer mountains” (National Geographic Traveler). For some people, that description would ensure that they stayed away but for me it’s one of the many reasons I wanted to visit there. It sounded like an exciting place. I have to admit as well, that I had seen a photo before I visited and it showed what I was lucky enough to see for myself, it’s an absolutely gorgeous area!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Finally a gorgeous fall day!

“Days End” (Marsh Landscape)    4” x 6”   Pastel   $35.00    © Sharon Lewis

Hallelujah! The sun has finally come out again in Atlanta! It’s an absolutely perfect fall day.  There’s a slight breeze, the humidity is low, the temperature is cool, and the sun is shining on trees that are still mostly green.
I’m beginning and ending the week with marsh paintings. Today’s painting for some reason just makes me happy when I look at it. It’s late afternoon and you can see how the setting sun has warmed the marsh grasses. There’s a beautiful sky with fluffy clouds. It looks quiet, peaceful, and calm….a good painting with which to end a busy work week.  
I wish you all a happy weekend!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I share something in common with Van Gogh and Steve Jobs!

"Sunflower a la van Gogh"    5" x 7"    Pastel    $50.00     © Sharon Lewis
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I know it sounds incredibly presumptuous to claim that I share something in common with van Gogh and Steve Jobs but it’s true. Marion Boddy-Evans, in her newsletter today on painting reminded me of this (See: We share common beliefs about talent and success.
First, van Gogh apparently argued and I agree, that artists are not given the gift of talent but are those who choose to work hard at their art form. Van Gogh and Jobs believed (as do I) that first you have to have a strong passion and really love what you’re doing. This passion will help you endure the hard work necessary to achieve success and sustain you through the tough and disappointing times. 
So maybe artistic talent is what a person appears to have because others may only notice when that individual finally achieves some measure of success. That success however is the end result of passion, hard work, and perseverance.
I’ve noticed that not everyone is fortunate enough to discover what they’re passionate about or to be able to act on this realization. So maybe what we artists are really gifted with is not talent, but being fortunate enough to discover what we truly love and to be able to express this. 
What do you think?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Panola State Park in the Fall

“Autumn Light” (Landscape with Barn)     5" x 7"   $50.00   Pastel  © Sharon Lewis
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It’s another gray day in Georgia but I find today’s sunny landscape painting a good antidote since it has all the warm, cheerful colors of fall. This is a painting of Panola State Park, one of my favorite nearby places to hike. 
I painted this scene from a photo taken from the PATH Foundation Trail. This is a 12-mile paved trail that connects Panola Mountain with Arabia Mountain. Panola Mountain also has a watershed trail which follows a small creek that winds through the woods, empties into several rivers, and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean. The Park has large rock outcrops and as you can see from this scene, the remains of an old family farm. It’s beautiful and well worth a visit if you’re ever in Rockdale or DeKalb county Georgia.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Some bright colors on a gloomy day in Georgia.

               "Luminous Pears" (Pear Still life)      8" x 10"       Pastel         $75.00       © Sharon Lewis
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Today’s colorful painting was not the image that I originally intended to post today but I felt bright, primary colors and light on a dark and cloudy day might be appreciated. The truth is that anyone who knows me knows that I rarely need an excuse for using bright colors. 
I think it is really interesting that some of us prefer the neutral colors and others (like me) just love bright, primary colors. As a psychologist (my day job), I of course have to analyze this. I suspect that it has something to do with the need for stimulation and excitement that some of us have (the lovers of bright, primary colors) versus the stronger need for calm that others have (the lovers of neutral hues).  Which do you prefer?
Whatever your answer, I think it’s interesting that life, like a painting, is best when there's a little of both.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Guess what season is depicted in today’s painting!

"Sunset on the Marsh - Isle of Palms"   11" x 14" Pastel     © Sharon Lewis
$150.00 Click Here to Purchase    

Did you guess fall? I know I would have if I had not been there in person to see this.

Although it appears to be autumn, it was actually spring when I passed by this beautiful marsh just on the edge of Isle of Palms, near Charleston, South Carolina.
The sun was setting and it caused the marsh grasses to glow with an almost marigold-orange, light.

I’ve been painting marshes again lately because I just returned from a workshop with the wonderful artist, Stan Sperlak in Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey. His Crow Creek Farm looks out over a beautiful marsh that has such gorgeous light shining on it, especially early in the morning. Perhaps later in the week if I have time, I will paint that view again. In the meantime, I leave you with a view of a more southern marsh just as beautiful as it’s more northern cousin.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Memories of Summer

"Summer Memory"     4" x 6"     Pastel    $35.00   © Sharon Lewis
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Ah, the end of the workweek and the weather is beautiful here in Georgia...though it feels like we're having a repeat of summer. It's due to get in the 80s today and so I'm going to choose to think of long days filled with light and reminisce about a summer day I spent in one of my favorite cities, Seattle, WA. We were having an especially nice dinner since our vacation was ending and we were due to leave the next morning. It was a cool but beautiful, sunny evening. We ate outside with the water lapping just below us and the mountains in the distance. As we sat sipping our wine, we could see all the colorful sailboats heading home. The sun disappeared slowly over the horizon but not before setting the sails of this one sailboat all aglow. 
What a gorgeous, peaceful sight. Today's painting is of that sailboat heading home.