Welcome fellow art lover

This blog has no agenda other than to reveal visual art as I see it. My opinions are my own although influenced by other artists. Even though this may be a venue for me to voice my opinions, at the end of the day, I do not expect others to hold the same ones. This a blog that expresses the nature of how I see art and the journey that led me to my opinions.

I am glad you came to join in the discussion.

E. Melinda Morrison

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sometimes you just have to keep pluggin along

Too much traveling, too much on my mind, too much to do and the overwhelming feeling of not being able to do enough.  That is how I felt yesterday.  I had just returned from a trip to Santa Fe over Thanksgiving and an art show in the gallery there where I show my work.  I was saturated with art (hard to believe) so the last thing I wanted to do was go to my studio.  But the need to make a dent in upcoming deadlines was looming over me.

So sometimes, you just have to show up.  That is half the battle. If you never show up, the greater possibility is that nothing will happen.  So I took a little trip to my studio with the intention of being there a few moments.   The results, a nice little painting.

One foot in front of the other is the way we all travel the road.  Some of us run, some of us trot and some of us crawl.  It was a crawling day that turned into a day of trotting just by showing up.

Tomorrow is another day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Plein Air Painting in Virgina, a lesson in values

Being from Colorado, whenever I leave the state and find myself painting where there is moisture in the air, it takes a little getting use to when I pull out my paints.  This was no exception when I headed to Virginia this past week to paint.  Lush rolling hills, pristine groomed pastureland, foxhound hunts, beautiful historic homes and pristine scenes were the subjects of my paintings for the last 5 days.  My friends Hugh and Nedra call Rappahanock County in Virginia their home and it always a treat to visit them.  Nedra s a fellow painter, so she and I spent four days running all over the countryside painting our hearts out.  There was a painting everewhere I turned.

Ok, back to the moisture subject.  The light in Colorado is stark and other than snow days, rarely will you see humidity lingering in the morning among the trees.  But the countryside of  Rappahanock County (just one hour NW of D.C.)  is what you can expect when you step out into the morning air.

The first day of painting, we started the morning with a cloudy day.  I was already assessing the colors and values in my head as we started out towards the woods.  Using acrylics again (they are just soooo easy to travel with), I knew it was going to be a push for me to get the values I desired.  I was up for the challenge, so I gathered my courage and stuck with it until I found the warm, earthy tones of a nearby creek against the coolness of the background.

Next stop was painting in the village of Little Washington.  Little Washington is about 30 to 40 minutes from Shenandoah Valley and just shy of the West Virginia border.  History murks in all the cracks and crannies of this little Virginia village.  One of the main points is a historic church that is now one of the two performing arts theatres in the town. 

Nedra and I set up mid-town to paint but there was a chilly wind.  We were bundled up for the occasion and the dropping temperatures made me paint quickly.  With some leaves left on a tree in front of the church, I
To bid on this painting, click here

could not resist the blue and orange composition against the bright white of the sunlight church.

So this week is the posting of my Virginia paintings.  For those interested, I am listing them on eBay.  If interested, click on the enclosed links and they will take you directly to the eBay selling site of the painting.

Stay tune for more paintings!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Santorini, Hyda and home

Guess it is time to wrap up the Greece travels with Santorini and Hydra. Saving the best for last. I loved these two islands.

Ok, let me talk some about my perception. Before I ever arrived to Santorini, I thought the island was would be a beautiful island filled with trees and greenery. NOT! It is made up of volcanic rock that is pretty barren. The water was clear and an aquamarine color as we came into dock. As I looked wayyyyy up, sitting on top of the cliffs were white stucco houses that were the villages of Fira and Oia (pronounced eeah). We got into port and had two choices how to get to the top of the cliffs to the villages. The first option was riding a donkey up the hundreds of steps and the second was the gondola up the cliff. Although the gondola was quite scary looking, I chose that method of transportation. Not enough time this trip to take the donkeys.

Once on Fira, we headed for a place where you can rent ATVs so that we could travel over to Oia. It was worth the $20 for the day! Of course, we decided to take the route along the coastal highway which was beautiful, but it added 45 minutes to an hour to our trip. By the time we got to Oia, it was "quick, find a spot so we could paint!" We only had about 2 hours left before we had to be back on the ship and time was slipping away. Our feat of finding a place ended in in positive results with a picturesque cafe that had outstanding food (does it seem I painted and ate my way through Greece?). I multi-tasked eating and painting at the same time quickly capturing the typography of the land with the white houses for which Santorini is known. Flowers everywhere, and the view spectacular. But time was flying and after a quick painting, we gathered our backpacks and drove like speed demons to get back to the port. Of course, speed demons on ATVs is about 40mph:)

Back on the ship and off to Hydra.

I immediately loved Hydra the moment I saw it. The village was laid back and seemed more like a taste on Italy versus the the stark white architecture of Santorini. Houses had the Mediterranean red roof style. Quaint, lots and lots of steps and of course the donkeys to go with them. My mother said at this point, I feel i have walked up hundreds of steps on this trip. She was right and Hydra added to the already hundreds of steps. Now i know why they used donkeys so much on these islands. I am sure you will see donkey paintings in future shows:).

We landed quickly set up in the main center of the town. I just realized that I did not take a photo of my painting in Hydra, so I have nothing to post here for Hydra other than photos.

Hydra was a great way to end a great trip. After painting, I did most of my shopping and we relaxed in one of the cafes. Once back on board the ship, we headed back to Athens. It was at this point that we had an art show given so many people on board had asked us if we were going to sell our paintings. So all in all, Connie and I sold most of our paintings which was a great finish to a wonderful trip.

As a side note, Connie Renner, my fellow traveling artist, painted some jewels on the trip that I wanted to share one with you, the Mykinos windmills. It is now a prized possession of mine.

Thank you all for joining me in my travels to Greece.

Future postings will have new paintings for upcoming shows as well as just talking about the creative process and what that looks like for all of us. I always appreciate your comments!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Day spent at a sidewalk cafe

We landed in Bodrum, Turkey, and I was still a little under the weather due to a chest cold I caught. There was a tour for everyone to go to St. Peter's castle, an impressive fortress at the mouth of the port. I was toured- out and just needed to find a place where we could paint all day. It took a 15-minute walk and we found our spot for the day.

Looking out over the bay, there were gorgeous yatchs, beaches with umbrellas and seaside cafes. We stopped at a wonderful bed and breakfast hotel with big oversized chairs that looked out over the bay with St. Peter's castle in the distance. The owners were quite friendly and thrilled we chose their cafe as our painting spot. I cranked out my first painting.

This was the life. A little food to munch on, turkish coffee (yes it is like mud but awesome), and later a glass of wine as the afternoon wore on. I was starting my second painting. By this time, a young orange tabby cat had decided I was the next best thing in town and plopped himself up next to me as I painted. He laid on the wicker couch with me for the remainder of the second painting.

St. Peter's castle was turning purple against the sky and all the blues in the water were intensifying. That was my second painting. Just wanted simple shapes of the boats against the value of the water with the darker value of the castle. Let the shapes speak for themselves.

This was the most productive and fun day so far. As late afternoon came, people who we were sailing with were passing by the cafe headed to the boat. Some decided it was time to stop and visit with us. So it seemed appropriate that the last painting of the day would be three Turk men having coffee and shooting the breeze.

What a day! Loved Bodrum, Turkey! Tomorrow, the white houses of Santorini.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marble and more marble

I promised you a city of marble and here you go. Ephesus, Turkey. Apparently, when Rome conquered Greece and Turkey, they devastated Ephesus but ended up rebuilding it. All in marble. Completely in marble.

We pulled into the port of Kusadasi, Turkey and traveled to Ephesus which is 12 miles away. Ephesus was once a city port but silt began pour into the bay and the land became swampy. Because the passageway to the sea became blocked and disease was rampant due to the swampy land, the city was abandoned and moved closer ot the water. Earthquakes and other forces of nature have lay the city in ruins. Given only 18% is excavated (about 1 square mile), you get a feel for how large and beautiful this city was in its prime.

When the Apostle Paul visited Ephesus, it had about 250,000 to 500,000 people. The amphitheatre that Paul spoke in has been excavated and what a treat. The Apostle Paul stood in front of the Ephesians and shared the gospel. It landed him in jail for 18 months in Ephesus. Interestingly, most of Ephesus became Christians over the years, and signs of their faith was evident through carvings in the marble streets. The Greek symbol of Jesus (a spoked wheel) was found all over the streets carved into the marble.

By the end of the day, I was dragging. I had caught a chest cold so my energy level was not its normal level. I was thrilled when we were able to head back to Kusadasi so we could get some painting in.

It was late afternoon by the time we got back to the port, but we found this great seaside restaurant that welcomed us in to paint. So we painted, drank some wine and had the best lamb chops I have ever had. Despite my cold, I was able to get a couple of paintings done of the boats that were floating nearby. It was almost dark by the time I got my next painting going. thus a night painting. Loved the shape of the boats and the contrast of the light shape against the dark shape.

Next stop, Bodrum, Turkey-my favorite port.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Caves and Scooters

Patmos was the next stop in our journey from Mykinos. Patmos was significant in that John, the disciple of Jesus, was exiled to Patmos about 50 A.D. and lived there for a few years. His exile resulted in the writing of the Book of Revelation which is the last book of the New Testament.

I was pleasantly surprised when we landed at Patmos. Patmos is a beautiful, quaint island, very non-touristy and laid back. Lots of cafes, little shops and dogs that roam the square. The good news is all the dogs are well taken care of and no more starving dogs:) My kind of place.

We headed up to the monastery to see the cave where John had the vision that resulted in the writing of the book of Revelation. The monastery overlooked the island and what a view! The cave was now part of a Greek Orthodox church, and although still rustic it is surrounded by the trapping of chandeliers, altars and frescos. Despite the added altars, it gave me some idea of how immensely overwhelmed John must have felt in that cave alone when he received the vision.

We continued on to the monastery which was quite beautiful and solemn. The priest there inspired me for future paintings but by this time, I was anxious to get to painting. This was where the frustration of being with a large group took over. Finally after touring the church and museum and seeing manuscripts of the gospels that are dated back to 300 A.D. and walking more steps (when I think of Greece I think of lots of steps), we headed down the hill to the town. Shortly, we found a little cafe where we set up to paint.

Greece is motor scooters. Seems everyone has one. So what better subject to paint than scooters while sipping on a glass of Greek wine. Ah the life:)

Tomorrow, a marble wonder. Ephesus.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dogs and windmills

We left Athens on Saturday heading to both the ruins of Corinth and to the ship. I was hoping we would be able to paint at Corinth but the security nixed that so pics were the call of the day. Corinth was harder for me to get my arms around in terms of realizing its significance. Paul was here for almost 18 months working as a tent maker while preaching the gospel. The temple of Apollo was at the heart of the city. While Paul was there, almost 800,000 people lived there. No paintings from there but on to Port of Pireaus and then to Mykinos.

Mykinos, is referred to by many, and I think fairly, as the party island. Although it was more painting than party for us, Mykinos had an event for me that left a deep impression and stayed with me the rest of my trip.

We got off the boat and started winding through the quaint streets of the village finally coming to a beach with a great view. We set up to paint. After a bit, I noticed a small red dog that seemed to belong to know one going in circles on teh beach. She was panting and clearly distressed. I moved towards her and could see she was blind in both eyes, greying around the mussel, starving and almost deaf. I ran to buy a can of dog food. As I fed her and gave her water the little dog's tail went ninety miles an hour. She was very sweet and responded to affection. One of our fellow travelers on the ship had seen her and as concerned as we were about the dog set out to find a shop keeper who might know the dog. She found one. The shopkeeper did not know the dog but asked us to come by her shop when we left. The dog curled up next to me when she found out where we were standing on the beach. My heart broke for this little dog as I thought kindness goes a long way with both dogs and people.

As we finished our painting and packed up, a French woman whom we had met earlier and who was a fellow artist, came by and stayed with the dog while we went to the shopkeeper's store. The shopkeeper, Anatashia, was concerned about the dog, and I pleaded with her to take the dog home;at the worst to put her down although I felt she had a few more years left in her as a sweet companion. Anatashia agreed to help the dog if I would bring her to the shop. When I brought that sweet little dog back to the store, she ate all the cat food in the bowl next to her and lied down on a mat outside the shop. She went to sleep contented that her tummy was full.

Given Anatashia's generosity in helping the dog, I offered her my painting as a gesture of thanks. Her eyes lit up as she saw the house that I had painted from the beach was her godfather's house. With glee, Anatashia took the painting promising that she would take the dog home and care for it. What more could I ask? I felt the painting had more value for me than if I had sold it. I have prayed for that little dog since having left Mykinos.

Before leaving Mykinos, we had met a gal that was a host of one of the seaside cafes. She was a fellow artist studying art at the university and had asked us to come back and paint the sunset at her cafe. After taking care of the dog, we headed back to the cafe. Along the way we had met this young man who was interested in our painting on the beach and asked to join us for a beer. I know, I know, we should have said no but he seemed harmless.

At the cafe, we set next to this couple from Australia and compared notes of current events in our countries. Lots of similarities I might add. As Connie and I were painting and talking, the young man who had joined us was eerily quiet. Red flags were flying for me. After the couple left, the young man's intentions became apparent making passes both at myself and Connie. As I repeatedly said NO, and was painting as fast as possible to leave, the host of the restaurant was keeping an eye on us. She helped us send the young man off in a different direction than we were going. My painting suffered from the event but as I promised to show both good and bad paintings, my painting is below. It is a night painting of the windmills on Mykinos.

All ended well and I was the wiser.

More on Patmos tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

After the fact

Well it was a good attempt to try a blog while traveling but given we were on a clipper ship their internet access was unreliable. Additionally, the schedule we kept became a choice of do I spend time trying to find an internet cafe or go paint. I chose the latter. That having said, I decided better later than never:) So even though I am already back home, I will walk you through my travels.

Athens was a treat for me in several ways. I realized how much impact this small country of Greece really has had on our society throughout history. As a person of the Christian faith, how integral Greece was to the beginning of the early church. I often wondered why the Apostle Paul traveled to Greece. I believe I have a better understanding. Greece was the hub of western thought and culture. People came and went from Greece. It was an international destination to the rest of the Mediterranean. But more importantly, they honored education, religious disciplines of worshiping their gods and incorporated art into their lifestyle and culture. Because of their history of being overtaken by so many other empires (Babylonians, Persians, Romans, and Turks), they were in many ways a broken people.

Our first journey was to the Acropolis, the high hill that was the heart of Athens and site of infamous Parthenon. More importantly for me was Mars Hill where the Athenian philosophers and city leaders would gather above the Agora (the city markets). The Apostle Paul stood on Mars Hill and gave an apologetic for the gospel to the Athenian leaders. Mars Hill overlooks the Agora which was heart of the ancient Athens where merchants and temples resided. I wanted to paint what Paul would have seen looking out over the city. I chose the site that faced the temple of Zeus (which has been rebuilt).

Our next stop was the Plaka which was an area developed during the 18th and 19th century and currently home to lots of retail shops and restaurants. It is near the Agora and just below the Acropolis. My artist friend, Connie Renner, had joined me on the trip to paint, so we headed off to walk the streets for another scene to paint. We came across a street mall and at the end, several blocks down, was a beautiful, old Greek Orthodox church. We could not resist!

So you have some sort of understanding of how I was traveling, my mom has asked me to go with a group from a large church in Dallas. We would spend a few days in Athens then travel to the Port of Pireaus to travel on a clipper ship (see photo above). It was a treat. I will tell you I can never go on another cruise after having been on this ship.

Tomorrow I will tell you about Mykynos where I met the little deaf and blind dog on the beach.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sorry it has taken me so long to find an internet cafe. Unfortunately, given I am on a Clipper ship going from island to island (started in Athens), their internet service is not the best. So I am forced to find littel cafes when I can.

First impressions of Athens: very much like Buenos Aires except with ruins:). I loved it actually. The first few days we consumed with seeing the ruins like the seeing the Parathnon and Mars Hill. Mars Hill was where St. Paul gave his apologetics of the gospel to all of Athens council. Not at all what I expected as it is a big top of a hill made out of marble but with a fabulous view. I instantly pulled out my paints and made an attempt to try and capture the light. Given it was my first day using acrylics (I typically use oils), I broke in my paints. A little frustrated at first as in acrylics, lights dry darker and darks dry lighter, I finally settled in. So with few curses, I focused on fun instead of performance.

There is so muvh to tell about Greece but let me start with what happened yesterda. As we were painting on a beach in Mykinos, I saw a little dog who was roaming around in circles clearly distressed. She was deaf, blind and starving but one sweet dog. How could I not help that animal?? After I feed the dog with her tail wagging 20 miles and hour, we found a shop keeper who was a dog lover, I traded her willingness to help that sweet little dog and I gave her a painting in exhange. It turns out the painting I painted was her godfather's house and she loved the painting. So I offered her the painting for her trouble and she promised she wuold take the dog home. It felt like one of the most productive days I have had. My painting provided more value than I ever could has realized when I started painat afternoon on the beach. Sometimes, that is what happens when we forget about peforming but focus on the pure joy of painting.

Today in Patamos but I will tell you more later. Off to the ship to go to Turkey. (by the way, I loved Patmos!)

Here are two paintings (motocyles in front of a bank in Patmos (on the left and Mars Hill in Athens on the right).

Off to the ship!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Traveling in Greece

I going to Greece tomorrow for 10 days. Yes, I feel blessed and everyone tells me this is once in a lifetime trip. Maybe so, but as an artist, I hope this is more the norm! Traveling inspires me in my painting and painting in Greece is no exception. Even though I struggle to be a better plein air painter, it helps me in my studio painting. One of my mentors, Kim English, told me when I first started painting that plein air painting "helps him bring his habits from plein air into the studio." He is right as it seems the immediacy of plein air painting offers a fresher approach and helps me to paint an honest expression of what I initially see. I try to stay true to that honest expression in my studio.

Speaking of honestly painted, thus the name of my blog, I wanted to be able to have a conversation with other artists about the creative process. Avoiding the temptation of painting to sell versus painting for the pure joy of painting is the precipice for which many artists hang. And in this economy, painting to sell is a huge temptation and for me, it is also what robs me of my joy of painting. Don't get me wrong, as a professional artist you want your paintings to sell. Who doesn't?! But, there is a precipitous balance between providing paintings to your gallery that you know and they know will sell, and painting for exploration to tap into areas that stretch you artistically. Exploration may take you into styles that do not fit what your collectors know of your work and much less you take 5 steps backwards to take one step forward. If I am the only artist that struggles with that, please let me know!

So Greece is my experiment to start this honest expression of painting what I see because what does inspire me. I will be painting everyday and I am going to put up my paintings whether they are good or bad (that is a very hard thing for me to do!) so you can see the progression of the trip and a few thoughts. I will try not to bore you with lots of details, only the highlights and quick moments. After all, that is what I paint. Moments.