Heart and Soul Peony Garden and Off to France We Go!

 

Heart and Soul Peony Garden ~ Diptych (Two Pieces)
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Oil on Gallery Wrap Canvas

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  Wine tasting in Tuscany, next stop, gelato tasting in France! oo la la!

 

Wine tasting in Tuscany, next stop, gelato tasting in France! oo la la!

Heart and Soul Peony is one part of a two-part painting, a diptych. It's partner is Love and Joy Peony Garden.

There is always a bit of frenzied painting that occurs each time I'm about to travel and teach. It's as if I can't bear to leave my studio, only stopping for meals and pug and hubby time. I'm going to miss my little puggy painting oasis while I'm in France! The hubby has quite the "to do" list while I'm away, shipping paintings, handling the solvent pickup by the toxic waste folks, making sure the little fatties are all spoiled in the manner to which they are accustomed...! My week of giveaways ends tonight on Facebook so tune in, dedicated to celebrating the big trip! I may not be able to take ALL of you with me in the suitcase, but we can sure have a bon voyage party!

 

 

 

Step by Step Peonies and Seven Days of Giveaways

Peony Colored Glasses
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Oil on Gallery Wrap Canvas

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In exactly seven days, I'll be heading back to France! I'm excited and definitely over prepared. I'm not too worried about the frantic activity it takes to get ready for teaching in Europe, because once you arrive, it's like stepping back in time. The pace slows, colors become richer, you are surrounded by such beautiful spaces and places. I can hardly wait for gelato and croissants and all the yummy dishes Chef will prepare. I'm not a bit concerned about weight gain, after all, the more you weigh, the harder you are to kidnap! Since I can't take every one of you with me, I wanted to give my flower friends a reason to get excited too by giving away an original painting every day this week on my Facebook fan page. Find out how to enter by taking a peep there! This is my biggest giveaway ever, and I want to send a painting to you, so be sure to enter to win!

This evening I'm working the late shift in the Flower Factory. The only staff member helping is AnnieBee, and since she is using my foot as her pillow while she dreams, it looks like I will be sitting here for just a bit longer. I'll use that time wisely by sharing Peony Colored Glasses with you step by step! Enjoy! 

 

See the free peony video here!

 

 

The Great French Escape - Romantic Kitty Series

French Escape - Romantic Kitty Series
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Oil on Gallery Wrap Canvas

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In 18 days, I'll be in Southern France at Le Vieux Couvent to teach my first French workshop! I'm a bit excited. I keep finding myself floating through rooms and spaces, imagining aperitifs, midnight church bells out my blue shuttered, open bedroom windows, creme brûlée gelato, shopping in the ancient markets of Soulliac... The dream come true bucket list just goes on and on! I'm incredibly honored to be sharing this experience with students in two classes, back to back, and a fun little side trip to Paris right smack dab in the middle. I will share all my favorite photos with you here and on my Facebook fan page, so check in, mon cheri! My absolute fondest wish is that you will take this journey with me someday. My 2016 France dates are already set so check your dream come true wish list, this is the painting getaway you've always deserved.

 

 

Detail from French Escape

Color and Emotion ~ Sunflower Array on a Sunny Day

Sunflower Array
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Oil on Gallery Wrap Canvas

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The only flower liking the 90 degree heat in my garden today is ~ the sunflower! This year I only planted two large pots, so am enjoying these four foot tall beauties while they last. I painted Sunflower Array on a wide format canvas, I love the feeling of wide and narrow paintings. They look great over doorways or propped on bookshelves behind a few knick knacks. There is an emotional appeal to a colorful painting and one way I try to really emphasize the hue to its brightest degree is to paint on a white canvas. Years ago I used to "gray down" my canvas before painting, using raw umber or other such combinations. But I know now that transparent color is most beautiful on a white surface.

The transparent colors I love to use (and talk about at length in my DVDs!) are like pieces of stained glass. When layered, they stay clean and retain their sparkle. The transparent color is the color that draws the eye from across the room in a painting. And the best way to use a transparent is to remember, don't smother it! Leave pieces peeking around your focal areas. And for goodness sakes, if you want to paint a purple sky because it makes you feel happy, then paint a purple sky. (I heard a rumor the Purple Sky Police are on vacation this week, so your chances of getting a citation are slim to none.) To me, painting is about color, and color is about emotion. Paint what makes you happy! It's the best way to ensure you'll keep picking up that brush again and again.

The sunnies admire their reflection in my new Italian vase!

The sunnies admire their reflection in my new Italian vase!

New Garden Flags and My Little French Chateau

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My Little French Chateau
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Oil on Deep Gallery Wrap Canvas

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It's been a big week in Flower Mound Studio, and I'm not just saying that because The Studio Director's rabbit toy was rediscovered tucked deep inside a cushion  (*it should be noted, she was quite happy to see bunny again, and promptly gave him a spankin' for disappearing...). (I suspect the toy had been hiding in terror.)

But enough about Her Majesty, the big news this week is something I'm just tickled pink about! Well not just pink, there is also some blue, and yellow, too - my designs are going to be appearing on a line of garden flags and the first one is in production! Okay, I need to calm down and eat some chocolate or something.

They will appear in national stores and chains, and the really cool thing is the manufacturer put my signature on it! It's wonderful to have a good art agent! Here's a peek. I hope I don't get in trouble for "unveiling the flag!" but I just can't resist! If you'd like to find out when it's available to purchase, message me your email and I'll be sure you get the announcement. I can't wait to get one, too! woo-hoo!

 

My new garden flag!


Shy Plums and Ruthless Bananas in the Art Studio

Shy Plums and Pink Peonies
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Oil on Deep Gallery Wrap Canvas

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I made an executive decision to leave the banana out of my class demo in Hot Springs, Arkansas, this morning. It was a tough call, but one of the plums kept rolling behind the vase out of the spotlight, and I didn't want to spook the rest of the fruit herd and cause a stampede. It was one of those days when you knock things over and drop things and can't remember the recipe for green (yellow plus blue equals...hmmmm).... Fortunately, I had a class full of talented and incredibly encouraging flower friends.

These talented gals whipped out peonies so quick we finished up early today! I flower marched them out to the deck for the class photo before any of them could escape my lens. Tomorrow we will paint French landscapes, which seems fitting, since all the supplies for my France workshop will be shipped out next week - my how time flies when you're having fun with paint!

The offending banana makes an appearance....

Showing off their beautiful bouquets in Hot Springs, Arkansas!

A Texan's Point of View on the European Kiss ~ White Tulips

 

The Kiss ~ White Tulips
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There is just something about that European greeting, the kiss, that always takes me by surprise. Not that I don't like it, I could get used to it, but being a gal from Texas, we were taught "The Hug" rather than "The Kiss" and so going in for the hug and suddenly getting lips on your cheek is like discovering you're doing the Cotton Eyed Joe when your partner was intent on the Texas Two Step. It's really just a different point of view on a greeting, and one that is much warmer, even than a hug. Like I said, I could get used to this whole European thing! And it's a good thing, since my France workshop is coming up in August. Mon cher, I must pack again soon!

For now I'm finally back on Texas time, the unending rains have cut off the main road into and out of Flower Mound, and I'm so thankful, yet again, to be a work at home artist! We're not paddling around in boats, though it sure looks like it from the national news. Not to worry, I have plenty of Dove chocolate and crackers and cheese. I can hold up literally for days on such awesome rations!  

The view from Tuscany - a villa on a hill!

Thunder in Tuscany and 1000 Years of Prayer ~ Painting Near the Birthplace of the Italian Renaissance

Class Demonstration, Tuscany, Italy

Thunder Red Geraniums
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Oil on Museum Quality Panel

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Thunder rolled across the Tuscan hills last night, blasting light in bolts that shook the ground and threw out the power for a short time during our dinner hour at San Fedele in the Chianti region of Italy. We grabbed our wine glasses, cameras, and other valuables from tables on terraces overlooking vineyards and ran into the chapel to escape a drenching rain. As black clouds moved quickly across hills that had seen the boots of the Gestapo, the soft tread of monks, and the footprints of local farmers, it seemed only fitting to find sanctuary in a place where prayer had been given for 1000 years.

Tomorrow will be our third day of exploring the Chianti region, and of painting each day in a high ceilinged room adorned with frescos, adjoining the chapel of San Fedele, a place where local families have found solace for over 10 centuries. It is an honor to teach painting in a place so close to the birth of the Renaissance, and the signs are all around us pointing to how this red earthed golden sky-ed place inspired brushes to reach for the heavens. 

Already I've seen a few signs that are hard to ignore. I'm sharing all my favorite Tuscany painting videos and photos with you each day on my Facebook page, join me there for images of pasta, paint, biblical clouds, rose laced vineyards, and petals painted in joyful color! Read more....

Salute from Tuscany!

Looking for Angels in Rome and a Coliseum Closeup

Class Demonstration, Sonoma, CA

Lace Cap Hydrangeas and Cosmos
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Ciao from Roma! The adventure has begun, my first trip to Rome, to Italy, to Tuscany to teach flower painting! We have arrived with luggage and paints, even though we (I!) almost missed the flight from London to Rome because the airport had just too many great places to shop for perfume and candy. One of those situations that just couldn't be helped. Already I am quite certain the thing I love most about Italy is the sky at sunset. It's biblical! 

This evening we had dinner with at the hotel, sharing a table with a famous children's author, her husband, the owner of the hotel, and the chef, and then the hubby and I raced off to explore the Coliseum at sunset. I've shared some of my favorite photos with you here, and promise to share many more in the upcoming days. If you look closely, you'll see the angels of Rome in one of the sunset photos! Let me know if you spot them. I'm going to try to get more photos of them tomorrow with the good camera.

Tomorrow we take the "fast train" (Italo!) to Florence, where we will be taken to our official flower painting headquarters. Let the poppy painting begin! Stay tuned for Tuscan color, gorgeous villages and markets, and more sunsets to come flower friends!

 


Tough Decisions About Italy and Vintage Blue Tulip Gardens

Class Demonstration

Vintage Blue Tulip Garden
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Oil on Deep Gallery Wrap Canvas

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It's time to make some tough decisions around Flower Mound Studio, and no, this does not involve insisting AnnieBee eliminate one toy because she got three new ones today. This is much more serious. I have to decide which Italian villages, markets, and castles to tour with my Tuscany students next week. Cortona, Siena, San Gimignano, oh my - I think I need a glass of wine! As if this were not enough pressure, I was just informed by a thoughtful and kind friend that Friday is national donut day here in the US and she will be enjoying it without me. Oy!! Before things get completely out of hand, I have to get my sticky notes out and write stuff down. Here are a few of my jottings, if you were headed to Italy for the first time in your life, what would be on your to-do list? Hmmm??

- teaching in Italy next week for the first time!

- touring the place near where the Renaissance began!

- staying in a hotel in Rome within walking distance of the Coliseum!

- visiting fields of poppies in full bloom!

Bon journo, and ciao bella, ya'll - I promise to share LOTS of pictures with you of my grand adventures. I can't make such promises about gelato, however, you know how it gets all melty if you try to share, after all.... 

 

The classroom models take a bow and a dip in Sonoma! (Perhaps some-tulips had too much wine?)