The Giving Tree

Here We Come a WassailingWaukesha Series North Bank

Just recently my cousin and I were laughing over the antiquated term “wassailing.” It sounded like a trick to be played at Halloween rather than an enjoyment at Christmastime. We may think of wassailing as a pastime noted only on today’s holiday cards with old-time villages and neighbors out caroling, but we still carry on the tradition. If you read from the dictionary you’ll find it sounds very familiar to modern day holiday events.

wassail |ˈwäsəlˈwäˌsālarchaic 

noun: 1.) spiced ale or mulled wine drunk during celebrations for Twelfth Night and Christmas Eve. 2.) lively and noisy festivities involving the drinking of plentiful amounts of alcohol; revelry.

verb: 1  no obj. ] drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.

verb: 2  go from house to house at Christmas singing carols: here we go a-wassailing.

 

We may not go wassailing door-to-door so much anymore, but we have concerts in
schools, malls, churches, performing arts centers. Not to mention all of the live bands performing in restaurants and bars everywhere. I wonder who’s a better wassailer now?

 

To Give and Not Receive

THE GIVING TREE by Shel Silverstein is one of the most simple, poignant and honest poemsI'll Be Home For Christmas I’ve ever read. I’m sure you’re familiar with the poem about the tree that continues to give and give to the boy who doesn’t really regard the tree at all – at least not after he grew up. Still the tree gave. He gave all he had to the boy. This isn’t a Christmas poem, but after reading this I’m reminded of giving at this time of year.

This has always been a season of giving. All kinds of giving is going on now. Families and friends, churches and charities, nonprofits… it’s wonderful to see people “in the Christmas spirit.” It’s not about the money, or the toys, or the presents under the tree; it’s about the Christmas spirit. The spirit of giving. This is the example of the nativity.

 

“For God so loved the world that he GAVE his only begotten son…” John 3:16

 

My neighbor friend is the best example of the Christmas spirit I know. At times she has been more of an angel knowing it’s been hard for me to get out the last few months. So she’s occasionally left bags of groceries and small meals hanging on my door. There is no cmas-treats-smallway I can repay her. I can give her a gift, but nothing will equal her kindness to me. All I can do is accept what she does with as much grace as I can muster. It’s very humbling. My friend isn’t wealthy, which only amplifies the point: money is not necessary to keep the Christmas spirit!

But if you do have money that’s okay, too. All I want to say to you is, Merry Christmas! Enjoy your holiday with whomever you are blessed to share it; give with all your heart because it feels too good not to; and receive with as much grace as you can.

The next time someone tells you the holidays have become too commercial, or gifts are just for the children, just respond with a big “Bah-Humbug!” and tell them they’re missing the point of giving altogether.

World Watercolor December Challenge

I did some Christmas painting this month (and one not Christmas at all), which was the theme for our December challenge in the World Watercolor Group. Charlie O’Shields is a faithful comrade keeping us all on task. Some of these are more sketch like while on my annual Christmas trip to see family, and some are pretty well finished paintings. I’m placing them here for you to look through, if you care to.

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Also: It couldn’t be helped. I wasn’t able to remove the tags and notes I make to myself.

Have a wonderful holiday. Be with family and friends. If that isn’t a possibility for you, walk downtown and help out at the local shelter or give blood. Whatever. There are all kinds of people in need, and it’s amazing how little our aloneness feels when we give to others. I know this to be true.

Love and joy come to you, and to you glad Christmas, too. And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year, and God send you a Happy New Year!

 

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Obeying the Rules

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WALK/DON’T WALK

Rules.  We’ve been ruled by rules from the moment we first drew breath. Some of us take them in stride and others chafe in their close proximity. Think about it. What is the first rule you face when you awake? The alarm goes off, you open your eyes, and you think: “oh, damn.” or “oh, yea!” Every man, woman and child thinks, says or is told, “it’s time to get up and get ready…” That my friend is a rule. What would happen if everyone got up but didn’t get ready? Ha!

Laws are rules, like the street sign shown above, but rules aren’t always laws. There are rules at home, at work, on the street, at school. There are rules in the military, the Federal Reserve, Disneyland. You get my point.

Personally, I don’t really mind rules – unless they interfere with what I want. And they never really did. Interfere. Till recently. And it hurt, I mean really hurt! I was in shock and denial but as things became clear, I saw what a candy ass I am. Yes! I’m not as tough as I thought. I was conditioned to always follow the rules, but it’s the ones I let slide that are the issue. Somewhere along the way, I learned things went softer if I said, “I didn’t mean to, I’ll never do it again…..;” “I’m so sorry, I didn’t see…..;” “the dog ate my paper” (oh, oops).

We all have a weakness, mine is not paying attention, not being alert, and expecting a bailout if I get in trouble. Hmm, that’s stuff for a child, not a woman my age. Am I humiliated? Well, duh.

I haven’t been alert, I haven’t been aware… I’m aware now.

 

BREAKING THE RULES

As a creative, making art sets me free from a world I often find constricting. I love the phrase “There Are No Rules In Art.” Creativity allows me to fling wide my arms and run downhill until I tumble and roll to the bottom panting, breathless, and laughing. Painting especially offers a liberating moment, and in that moment, however long it lasts, I’m free to expand, experiment, and express myself in anyway I want. And that is truly wonderful!

While working on this commission in August, I stumbled onto a technique that I rather like. These three examples are works-in-progress (WIP), but I’m showing them here only as a demonstration. The whole idea is a process of “Remove.” I remove as much paint as I can to restore the white of the paper. Notice the apple blossoms on the tree. I have taken them from painted to unpainted. What I like about this is the ultra-soft edges. It lends itself ideally to these blossoms. Can you see the effect?

This technique goes against the “rules” of watercolor painting, but as I like to say–

There Are no Rules in Art

 

Happy Tidings and Laughter this Christmas.

Joy and Peacegirl-with-pin-cushion

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Illustration: Girl with Pin Cushion, Watercolor by C Hintz@1991, Private Collection Photograph by Linda Robinson ©2005 Photo from Flickr under creative commons license.

October Harvest

We Reap What We Sow

In this nuclear age of technology and days of light-speed advancements, it is somehow grounding to know the ancient wisdom of reaping what we sow still applies to our world. It certainly does to mine.

Fall Fruits ad Veggies
“Autumn Fruits and Veggies” Colored Pencil 16X8″

I invested a great amount of energy into planting during this past growing season. I wasn’t looking ahead but just merely enjoying the moments of tending my metaphorical gardens. There was a great flurry at times, especially in early May and July when I was so occupied with events and activities. The work was all I needed. Sharing my experiences on Facebook was added fun, you were so responsive.

Creativity flowed in and around my studio all summer. I embraced it and carried it with me wherever I went. No matter how far my journey, my watercolor kit came too. And every night I posted my “produce” to C Hintz Studio on Facebook. I soon began to notice a lovely byproduct outside of the physical artwork I was producing.

I began noticing you.

I’ve always been a solo artist. I work alone and tend to hibernate. When I launched my portfolio online and dove into social media last spring, I felt a bit in shock and overexposed. Naked even. Luckily, I had help from experienced artists who kept me focused or I’d have quit before I got started.

It took me some time, but I finally noticed you. You got my attention with your support and comments.  I began to look for “smiley faces,” they encouraged me and every “like” you sent energized me. When I forgot to respond to your comments, I would double my efforts, determined not to let you down. Somewhere along the way, I shed my cynical skin.

I was a Social Media Cynic

I used to think social media sites were vain – No more! Of course, it’s important to keep balance and moderation in life, but my internet connections have become important to me. Not because of business – this isn’t about money at all – it’s about developing relationships with people who love art. It’s about an online community. You don’t even have to love MY art. Spending time on my Facebook page, responding to you, posting new paintings, putting up albums and videos, planning events – that was time well spent. I’m pleased with this year’s harvest…so to speak.

My love is like an orange, orange… pumpkin?

I’ve also learned that when I neglect to tend you, weeds grow between the rows and separate us. There will be times I will still hibernate – it is part of my nature – especially in the fall. Consequently, the next time I want to make contact I expect I’ll have a “long row to hoe” before I reestablish myself with you – if I can at all. But I hope you know that I will be back, I haven’t given up. Art is my life. And there is no one I’d rather share it with than you. I appreciate you more than you know.

Wishing you autumn bliss

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PS: Many thanks to those of you who signed the Reverse Boot Camp Petition. We are now over 41,000 signatures strong. If you feel a call to pass the petition on to friends, there is still time to reach our goal before November 11, Veteran’s Day, when the campaign ends.

Never Forget

Who I Am

I’m an artist who tells stories. That’s who I’ve always been and who I’ll go on being. I wouldn’t so much call it a choice but a proclivity. Does a tree suddenly say one day, I’m going to bend the other way? Does a flower decide to turn its face away from the sun?

When I was a child I lived in a fantasy much of the time. I created stories – daydreams I didn’t write down. Those stories are gone but others have come. Mainly I tell stories with pictures. I love telling stories. I can’t forget.

I live inClinton & Main a fascinating historical old city and have been wanting to tell her story for a while. Yet, all year I didn’t pick up a pencil to begin. So what’s held me back? Why didn’t I start to draw this idea when it first came to me?

It is easy to look back and see I forgot who I am. I forgot who I am when my eyes were focused on others. It was Envy that got the better of me this time. Envy seems harmless but he’s not. He’s like one of those free apps that are so desirable until you download it and realize the full app will cost $50. It started innocently enough, I simply thought other artists’ landscapes and plein air paintings were so cool. Then gradually my thoughts turned from admiration to “surely they must be better artists;” Envy had begun twisting my thinking. It’s happened before. And the result is the same.

Friend and artist Fred Bell who’s opinions I respect, recently looked at a painting I showed him. I was pleased with the watercolor-in-progress. Now understand, Fred is a very encouraging friend, always ready with a positive comment, so he surprised me when he said the word “hesitancy.” It’s the only part of his critique I remember.

 He saw hesitancy in my painting

I knew he was right. I had been hesitant. That’s why it was taking so long to finish. Hesitant. One who is hesitant is insecure, doubtful, and procrastinating. A hesitant artist doesn’t know who she is. And there hung the truth blatantly in front of me.

Whenever I forget who I am, my work suffers. It’s very confusing for an established artist to be comparing themselves to other artists. There is a difference between trying new things – experimenting and incorporating them into your style – and seeking out change altogether. Some phenomenal artists paint in modern, expressive, free-flowing styles or abstract techniques, some of my friends’ works are innovative and surreal  – but that’s them. They are who they are. And I am who I am.

And when it is all said and done, when I accept who I am, when I relax and settle into myself, I’m perfectly happy. Envy is gone along with self-doubt, and all hesitancy is out the window.

I came back to full acceptance of who I am. I laid fresh paper on the table and began anew. And I promised to never again forget who I am… just like before.

 

9/11 – Lest We Never Forget

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Yesterday in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was a moving tribute to the firemen, policemen, emergency workers, military, and civilians who died on the airplanes hijacked to attack us 15 years ago on September 11, 2001. On display was a mangled I-beam of one of the Twin Towers that came down that day.

If I thought for a minute I could ever forget the events of 9/11, that thought is disintegrated like one of the crumbling towers after yesterday morning’s tribute. Everyone in our nation would benefit by attending a memorial of that horrendous day at least once in their lives. It will seal the image of sacrifice and the price of freedom surely never to be forgotten.

 

Peace,

cynthiasig

31 Watercolors

 

 

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June is coming to a quick close. And anyone who knows me, knows summer is my favorite time. So quick is not a word I want to apply to any of the summer months. But with the close of June comes July —

and she can multiply too!

 

WORLD WATERCOLOR MONTH

Couple on the Beach
The Beach

My friend Charlie O’Shields has created an art phenomenon. World Watercolor MonthWhat started as a solo painting-a-day last July, has mushroomed to envelope the globe and become a one month paint challenge this year. It’s purpose is two – maybe threefold.

  1. Speaking awareness for children’s art programs and needed art supplies.
  2. Paint 31 watercolors each day of July, for the love of art, growth, and fun.
  3. Meet artists around the world, sharing and encouraging each other.

I accepted this challenge. Excitedly. Happily. Nervously… Hmmm. To paint with no expectation but enjoyment?  What a totally foreign concept. Lately, I’ve been painting for fun — and it’s been… FUN!

And I’m ready! I’ve got my sketch books, my brushes, and my new watercolor field palette all filled with M Graham Watercolors, my personal favorites.

Follow my fun. See my experiments. Comment on my untried techniques. I’m sure we’ll have some laughs. I’ll post my daily watercolors on Facebook and Twitter, and when there is something exceptional (positive thinker here) I’ll post on Instagram . I might even put a few in my portfolio This whole month is a mystery, so anything can happen. 

THRILL KILL

Cemetery Lily

Speaking of mysteries.  I must give a plug for Brian Thiem’s novel THRILL KILL  which will be released in bookstores on August 9th. The reviewers like the term “Police Procedural,” but I find that rather flat and wuld much rather read a good “Cop Thriller.”  But that’s me. Either way THRILL KILL prThrill Kill Coveromises to be a fast-paced police story.  Detective Matt Sinclair discovers the viciously murdered body of a young woman he once knew; but he and his partner find there is more at stake than solving her murder.
From reading Theim’s first novel,* I can tell you this author doesn’t grow stale with a shallow plot-driven tale, though there is action to satisfy the demon in us all. His genius lies in the turbulent waters of the psyche, he ushers us into his characters lives and minds.  He creates a tension between emotion and action that requires delicate balance.  Brian Thiem is an author you’ll want on your bookshelves to read again and again.  My copy of THRILL KILL is on pre-order and I can’t wait till August!  (oh no, there I go wishing my summer away)
*RED LINE published in 2015 won critical acclaim. I enjoyed it as one of my favorite mysteries of last year.

PERSIAN GULF TRIBUTE

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Operation Persian Gulf
Neillsville, Wisconsin July 19 July 25

Persian Gulf Veterans from all across America are invited and encouraged to be a part of this 6-day celebration to honor them and welcome them home at the Persian Gulf Memorial in this summer. This fantastic “Boot Memorial” is a tribute to all of the men and women who have served. The Wall of Remembrance is making a stop there on its national tour, as well. This is a REAL memorial to the Gulf Veterans of the USA. An impressive, beautiful structure in the shape of a boot, with benches and flowers and statues and more. So much thought and symbolism has gone into designing this. Come join us! Let us give you a  Welcome Home! you’ll never forget.

 

All gave some; some gave all.

IT’S THE REAL THING

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You should watch this video with the Coca-Cola jingle from 1971 that went:

I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony; I’d like to buy the world a Coke, and keep it company…

Somedays I long for the simplicity of life suggested by that song. Let’s just everyone in the World love one another and sing on a hilltop and drink Coke and be at peace. But there is no peace. And I can only imagine the war-rages of the past, even though I try not to. And today’s horrors of war are too frightening to contemplate. 

“The Real Thing” is that many men and women are returning home having lived war’s brutality. They suffer for years with emotional and mental disorders that disrupt their relationships and abilities to function. There’s an epidemic of military related suicide in this country that is unprecedented. You know; you have heard about the 22+ men and women taking their lives every day.

It’s my time to fight for my countrymen — for my veterans. I’d like to teach you to sing, but that won’t get us far. Let’s sit down for a Coke instead. There is much to be done in the war against military-related suicide. What will I do, you ask?  Whatever is your God-given talent. You and I together can accomplish so much more than I can alone. Charlie O’Shields taught me that. Last year he painted 31 watercolors for each day of July all by himself. This year he has organized the whole world to paint with him. I guess you could say he’s teaching the World to sing.  We are limited only by our inhibitions and negativity.

FACEBOOK

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C HINTZ STUDIO  — The  Help a Vet Exhibit  is part of my fight against military-related suicide. It has been unsuccessful. I guess as an idea, it is good to know what works and what doesn’t, but it is disappointing. The drawings and paintings are available until July 4th. Remember all artwork bought from this gallery goes to support Stop Soldier Suicide Organization* and helps empower veterans to overcome war trauma.

 

REVISIONEND VET EPIDEMIC has been changed to… Civilian Call to Action is my new page on Facebook and another battleground to fight the epidemic of suicides in the veterans’ community. It’s a place for people looking for information or with information to share. There are campaign stories, testimonials, items for sale that promote awareness, organizations at work, etc…

The War Within by Jason Roncoroni. Although this 5-Part series was intended for service members, veterans, and family members, I found his writing about the mind of the warrior extremely enlightening.

Retiring as an Army Lt. Colonel, his service in Iraq and Afghanistan has given him genuine insight from his own war trauma. Jason Roncoroni offers real hope in this series – hope to us all – and by the end has proposed some radical and realistic ideas to bring an end to this military-suicide tragedy. 

I have all 5 blogs in the series at Civilian Call to Action. I am going to put them into one document for easy reading, but for now you can find them on this Facebook page.

STOP SOLDIER SUICIDE  Is a nonprofit organization of veterans helping veterans. They offer great national resources for immediate solutions and alternatives. They follow each vet who calls for help two years as they learn to step out of the darkness into a life of empowerment. 

Contact Stop Soldier Suicide  if you’re a veteran wanting help or your loved vet is in need. For 24-hour assistance call VETERANS CRISIS LINE 1-800-273-8255 #1

 

Have a great July!

Cynthia

*100% of profits benefit Stop Soldier Suicide Nonprofit Organization.