I’ve just moved into a new apartment. Finally, the boxes are unpacked and most things have a home. Summer is here and I spend sunny afternoons on my balcony overlooking the river. There is enormous boat activity at the head of the Fox River and Lake Winnebago, and there are as many differing water vessels as there are sea gulls in the air. If I want to join a group in the courtyard, I can always go downstairs and watch the river from the gazebo. I live in a very nice place.

In my apartment, I have set up a very workable studio for myself. I only need to buy a couple more chairs to make it perfect. But it’s close. Right now, with the summer weather, I find I want to paint mostly in front of the big window. That way I can look outside and not feel closed in.

WORLD WATERCOLOR MONTHJULY 10, 2017

July is winding down, and so is the second World Watercolor Month hosted by Charlie O’Shields. It is wonderful to meet with last year’s friends and to be encouraged by their beautiful paintings. Even the “just okay” encourage me. Art is like any other craft — one must practice regularly to improve their skill. Or even maintain their level of excellence. I’ve been slouching this last year — reasons don’t matter — the result is that I am very rusty. My paintings show it. I started out with the group for the first week and into the second week faithfully posting my watercolors. Then a few days of hit and miss. Now, I haven’t posted a painting in at least a week.

But, I’ll not shame myself. I’ll carry on where I am at. I’m going to pick up my paint brush and paint — every day — not to make a masterpiece, not to make a work for sale, but to hone my skills. I started doing this already, and I can see I am going to be going through lots of paper!Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 11.40.24 PM

WHO KNEW HE COULD PAINT?Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 11.19.00 PM

PORTRAITS OF COURAGE: A COMMANDER IN CHIEF’S TRIBUTE TO AMERICA’S WARRIORS

by George W. Bush

This is a wonderful book whatever your political leanings are. Published in February this year, this beautiful book has over 60 portraits of veterans, all painted by Former President Bush. Men and women he has come to know personally since 9/11. I plan to buy one for myself and one for a veteran.

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

walkdontwalklindarobinson2005

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.