Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tea With Babushka



    This little piece was so much fun. The idea for it came from the idea of the relationship between a girl and her granny--- or a little Russian or Ukrainian girl and her Babushka! My girl and my mama have a very tight bond. There's nothing she likes better than a day spent with her 'Ninny' as she calls her, hehe, and so that was the inspiration behind this piece; a fun afternoon at Babushka's house, feeling very fun and grown up as they have a nice tea together. On the left is the large Russian samovar for Russian tea, plus traditional Russian pastries with apples, jam and honey. Babushka lovingly serves the tea in her cottage kitchen, full of pretty dishes, an icon, and a vase of willow branches subtly announcing the approach of Easter. Out the window you can see that spring has come to the little settlement where the child and her babushka live.

   The 'characters' in this painting are the same grandmother and grand daughter that appear in my paintings Preparing the Easter Basket and The Easter Egg Tree. I guess these people are my 'Easter people' ;) I love imagining them in their little houses, what they're doing to prepare for the coming season and how their faith quietly takes part in the moments of their every day lives.

  I am pleased to report that this piece was listed and sold on etsy pretty quickly! But I fully intend to make prints. I hope you like it! It was a fun painting to create.

  Now, I am turning my attention to my commission work and coming up with ideas for new pieces. Thanks so much for coming by today!~ I'll talk with you soon--
H

Monday, March 2, 2015





     The days lately have been so busy, yet I feel like there is still so much to get done. Art and Mamahood....its a constant searching for balance and its a rare fleeting moment when it all feels done and complete. It is, I think, never done or complete!

   I'm tired of snow days making us home-bound from church. But I do enjoy quiet days with my family, watching a movie, working on some paintings, playing in my sketch book. I got the receipt letter back from International Orthodox Christian Charities from the donations that were made during the Christmas print special of the print and cards "A Child's Prayer." It's so satisfying to be able to contribute in a small way. My hope is that it goes towards the creation of something good, perhaps even a miracle? You never know!

  This weekend I was looking through my book The Private World of Tasha Tudor and working on some sketching in my little homemade sketch book. I wanted to play around with watercolors, which I havent done in a long time. I love the fluid, almost dreamy quality of water color, but it can be unforgiving. There's much more forgiveness and hope of salvaging a piece with acrylics or oils. With watercolor, you get what you get some times!

   I'm loving looking at my Tasha books though because I am so excited....this summer when we travel up to New England, I will be going on a tour of her cottage and garden! I am so thrilled about this, and just....flabbergasted in a way, that I will be walking into Corgi Cottage, seeing her home where she created and taking in her garden at the height of its summer glory. I feel so lucky and fortunate. And so glad I will be there with a great friend and our girls. For the first time in a long time, I am looking forward to summer!

  Anyhow...I have a little one tugging at me, so I better cut this short. Thanks for your visit today. Wishing an early spring for all of us! Have a good week---
H

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fountains of Carrots Podcast

   You guys! I am so excited to share with you that I got to take part in a fun podcast with Haley Stewart and Christy Isinger from Fountains of Carrots and it's up today. We talked about art, getting inspired, working with little ones under foot and all sorts of fun and random things. If you'd like to listen you can check it out HERE.

   They've got a great podcast, I've been listening since they started! Great take on faith, motherhood and life. Always a fun listen!

   Enjoy!~ And thanks so much, ladies!~!
H

Monday, February 23, 2015

St. Lucia goes UK



Funny thing around here--- two days of unexpected snow has fallen! Perfect days to curl up with a hot cup of tea or coffee and a good magazine, and maybe some knitting too!
   I am still on my Nantucket kick, I just got this 'new' old book "At Home in Nantucket" in the mail (I love a good cheap used book!) and am working on a seaside colored hat for Robbie.

   Some exciting news around here is in one of these great magazines to cuddle up with-- the British magazine Homes and Antiques. A print of my St. Lucia  (my 11x14" size) appears above the mantle in the home feature of designer and artist Janice Issitt! Janice has the most gorgeous home that is like an English/Swedish Bohemian dream! I loved seeing the entire feature-- and seeing my Lucia in the mix was just the cherry on top! Here in the states I found the magazine at Barnes & Noble. It's a great magazine and I look forward to seeing some more issues!

  I'm loving the British home magazines lately. Such beautiful, rich and unique homes. The cover of the current UK Country Living also caught my eye--- all that blue and white, be still my heart! Those are my COLORS! :D I am a bit of a cuddle up in a nest type girl, so these kind of cozy rooms are just lovely to me.

  Well, I have some more fun news to share a little later on this week, and I cant wait! If you're home for a snow day, I hope you're cuddled and warm, with no where to go and time to indulge. That's what winter is for, yes?
Til next time,
~H

Friday, February 20, 2015

Art & Faith: Mikhail Nesterov


      So recently I've been asked to not just make art, but to talk about art. Its a subject that fascinates me and captivates me every day, but I honestly am often at a loss for words a lot of the time when it comes to explaining it. That's why I like art-- it speaks for the heart when your words fail you.
   A few days ago I recorded a pod cast with Haley Stewart and Christy Isinger who host "Fountains of Carrots" about my art, and I've been asked to give a talk at church about faith and art next month. All of these things have my mind working, trying to figure out the tangle that is "art and faith", at least to me.
   I thought, perhaps, this would be a good topic to discuss with you all here on the blog too. You can help me work all this out before I get up in front of people and start giggling uncontrollably (my nervous tick, you should have seen our wedding...)
  To start off, I thought I'd share with you some paintings that I find completely captivating--- the work of Russian painter Mikhail Nesterov. He was considered a part of the Russian Symbolism movement and painted some amazing scenes that so wonderfully dove tail Russian folk culture with religious themes, saints, and worship.
   I find all of his work just captivating to the point of tears--- each piece is just perfection. The landscape--- the people--- the smallest little detail. I love his forests, his calm woodland animals, his benevolent angels, his beautiful nuns, his kindly old hermits. Here are a few of my favorite paintings by Nesterov....



This piece is called "Saint Russia" and I am just blown away by its epic detail, emotion and power. It's completely brilliant.




   This is one of Nesterov's most well known paintings--"The Vision of Young Bartholomew." According to THIS source, the story behind this piece is as follows:
"The plot of the painting is based on a Christian legend about a young boy who had problems reading. One day his father sends him to search for some runaway horses, and on his way the youth meets an ascetic. Bartholomew greets him, asks for his blessing and receives one. After that encounter, not only did Bartholomew learn how to read, but he also became a poet. He went down in history known as St. Sergius of Radonezh." 


    For me, Nesterov is a genius at combining rural life with ethereal faith and worship. All of his paintings are so powerful--- and part of their power is their earthiness. These are not angels in clouds or some other-worldly plain. These are people, usually peasants, in very real (though beautiful) settings, with real emotions and real life in their eyes. That is what really draws me to his work--- the scenes are believable and the pieces of faith at once 'everyday' and magical. He's an inspiration to me in a big way as I try to create pieces that combine that 'everyday' aspect with the divine. He is a master at creating the humble Holy moment, and I hope to create art in this similar vein. 
    Because we all know 'a picture is worth a thousand words.' And especially when it comes to explaining something as 'unexplainable' as faith...a picture is the only way to convey it. I think as I've honed my skills and my interests over the last few years, I've discovered that this is my motivation. To paint what's in my heart.

   I hope you enjoyed this little feature on Nesterov! I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you have any favorite painters who capture your feelings about faith when words fail you? Please share!
~H

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Easter Missive and Pretty Little Things....


     So, it's Lent. Snow is on the ground and it's cold, but I'm hoping when we get through these next 40 days there will be warm temperatures and flowers blooming. We got things started off with a penitential Ash Wednesday service of craziness with the baby being crazy (limp wet noodle body as we go up to get ashes! Hey, lets try to fling this Holy water font off the wall! Now I will GROWL like a Lenten MONSTER during the quietest moment!!) Oh, tis the season, isn't it!?!

   I'm hoping the other parishoners weren't too annoyed with us. Children should be in church, right? A church with inappropriate noises is a living church, yes? hehehe....     

  But, yes, let's think of flowers and the coming Easter Vigil and Easter Day and Pascha too for my Orthodox friends. I've had many requests for notecards and I am just starting to dip my folk art toe in the water of getting notecards made up, and I thought Easter/Pascha would be a great time to do it. This season of art is one of my favorites. Although I DO love Advent and Christmas there is something special and joyous about making it through Lent and the wonderful celebration that comes with it--- as well as the world waking up to green and flowers once more.
   If you have someone special you'd like to send a sweet missive to this Lenten or Easter season, perhaps these are the cards for you? They're professionally printed on matte card stock  and come in a set of 4--- with two cards of each designs. The images on the card are my paintings "Preparing the Easter Basket" and "Home from Pascha." You can see the sets I have available HERE-- and the quantity is limited since this was just a small test run.


 
    In other, not Lenten related news, haha, it seems I've been collecting various little...drinking pots, this winter! The one above with my pretty creations by my friend Christine Crocker is supposed to be a hot chocolate pot. I saw it on etsy and oh, I fell in love. Plus, being the chocolate addict that I am, it seemed so appropriate for me to have. And I love all the hand painted detail. It will probably show up in a painting some day!

   I also found this beautiful blue and white with gold edges tea pot in the sale room at Anthropologie one day--- when it was an additional 40% off. I could have never gotten it otherwise, but I feel so lucky to have snagged it. Right place at the right tea pot time, I guess ;)

   As well as drinking tea, reading about Nantucket (see the previous post!) and taking crazed children to solemn services, I've been hard at work on several commissions! I think my spring is pretty booked now, but I know that (as bizarre as it sounds just after Ashe Wednesday) it'll be time to think of Christmas art in no time. So I will enjoy these different projects before its all snow and Christmas here again (which probably should start, er, now?)

   Well, thank you for coming to visit me here today. I hope you come again! So fun to chat!~
h

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Nantucket Prairie Girl

My friend Alyson sits looking out at Marblehead Harbor. Ironically we have come to find out that we are now cousins from our Nantucket connections, she through the Coffin family and me through the Folgers.

     If you were to look at a map of the United States, and were to pick a place right in the center, where you put your finger would most likely be in or very near Oklahoma. We are the landiest of the landlocked. Not a beach for hundreds and hundreds of miles. The ocean is not something in our every day vocabulary.

Replica ship Friendship of Salem in the Salem, Mass.  Harbor

   Because of this, my artist interest in sailing ships and the concept of a more "New England" seaside was always a little odd for me--- because what do I know about ships and sailors? Still, I'd let these images stoke my imagination and it came out in several pieces of art over the years--- and especially when I was expecting Robbie. All of his baby things had a nautical theme--- we received beautiful items with boats and whales, and even a beautiful handmade quilt from our friend Briana with vintage material with patterns of Boston Harbor. This landlocked baby was nautical before he was even born!



  My interest in the New England seaside expanded into books too, and I have some beautiful decorating books I've collected through the years, with homes in Cape Cod and most recently, Nantucket. Looking through my Nantucket book, I remembered that long ago I'd noticed that someone way way back someone on my family tree was born in Nantucket. I told this to my friend Patricia, who is an awesome genealogist based in New York State, and what began as a pretty off hand side thought unraveled into an epic sea tale...

Sunset in Marblehead, Mass

  My great-great grandma's name was Minnie Folger. Minnie Fayetta Folger to be exact, and she was super cute--- I've seen photos of her in her victorian era dress and hat and glasses. She looks bookish and sweet. She fell in love with a boy coming through town hanging telegraph lines, and was born in a house called Button Place in Illinois. How cute is that?
   It was Minnie's way-back grandpa who was born in Nantucket. I wondered, was his father a sailor? A rope maker, a (gulp) whale hunter? I honestly didn't think they'd have more than just a middle class workerman's family tale, but boy was I wrong!
   Through Patricia's sleuthing, we found out that Folger is an important name in Nantucket--- and they've been there, literally, since the first white man came on shore. Peter Folger, my 11 times great-grandfather, came first to Martha's Vineyard in the 1630s as a young man. He began working with the native population to teach them English and religion (and, it can be noted, worked equally hard to learn their language and culture) and seemed to have also been a pretty talented jack-of all-trades. 
   Evidently he was deeply smitten with a young woman who made the ocean voyage on the same ship as the Folger family, and paid twenty pounds to end her indentured status with another family, which he would later call the best money he ever spend. Awwww, Peter, you are a 17th century sweetheart!
   He was enlisted to come to Nantucket with Tristram Coffin as an interpreter of the Wampanoag language. He was given some land as a half-sharesman, worked as a miller, weaver and teacher. He was called a "pious and learned Englishman" by Cotton Mather, but he also knew his own mind when it came to his religious beliefs. He even published some writings that would have landed him in hot water with Puritan Massachusetts, but luckily Nantucket was considered part of New York at the time.
   Part of me loves that, along with my Dutch East Indian Tradesmen relatives, my ancestors have been giving the uptight Pilgrims the side eye since the 1600s! Ha! And evidently there are some Quakers in the Folger line, and I love that too. Oh, and speaking of the Folger line....Peter's youngest daughter was Abia Folger Franklin. You may know her as....Benjamin Fraklin's mother. WUT!? Crazy Benjamin Franklin is my cousin?!



    Things like this is why I love history and love genealogy. Suddenly static things in an old history book become real. They are literally, in your blood. And although the only thing like a sea that I ever see is the wind billowing in the prairie grasses, there is a connection now for me with this far away place, through far away places. I love that. And I want to paint that. Funnily enough, I guess, I already have been-- for years!



View from the old burial point in Marblehead, Mass.



This is a painting I did in 2010 called "The Sea Captain's Wife." I'm excited now to know that there was a real sea captain in the family, named (are you ready for this?) Barzillai Folger. His wife, the Sea Captain's Wife, was Miriam Gardner, from the founding Gardner Family of Nantucket. I'm sure she spent many a day gazing out to sea, wondering if an incoming ship was the one bringing her husband back to the island.  I was also surprised to find several generations of sons named Robert going back in the Folger line, all the way back to the days of Nantucket. Strange how life imitates art and art imitates life.

   And so--- fair warning; I have a feeling there will be salty sea flair coming to some of my future paintings! I am hoping too to get a glimpse of the sea when we travel up east this summer. Nantucket will have to wait for a later time, but one day, I'd like to stand on Folger street and feel a strange deja vu or sense of homecoming. And then I'll eat a lobster roll with my bearded sea-captainesque looking husband and feel vindicated in my insatiable desire to buy all the nautical stripe shirts I come across ;)

   Because, you know, it's in the blood.

   Thanks for coming by to visit with me today :) 
Til next time,
~H