Imperfectly Perfect

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A young man meets his newborn, not expected to live.

I am often asked why I am so drawn to watercolors, especially when there are so many different creative mediums from which to choose.  Truthfully, there are so many things I love about watercolors; the way they move on paper, the unintentional and intentional fluidity that happens, the melding of colors, and the transparency of so many of the colors on paper.  However, there is one aspect of watercolors that I love, or at least how it relates to my abstract style, and that is the “imperfect perfections”.  One thing that is certain about my paintings is they are not perfect.  They have many flaws.  I “color outside the lines” so to speak. I don’t worry about keeping the color within my sketched design.  I want my colors to creep outside the lines, sometimes meshing with other colors that are right outside the lines.  I don’t want perfectly contained shades of colors that look like a photograph.  I love to see sporadic blurred lines, so that you don’t always know where one thing ends and another begins.  Some details are more defined than others.   I’m okay with having a hand that looks more like a lobster claw than a hand.  My intention isn’t to draw a perfect hand, or face.  My intention is to bring about emotion.  This style isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but to me, it reminds me of real life.

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A young girl walks with her “Boppy” (grandpa) after one of his final chemotherapy treatments. 

Peruse through a few of your friends’ Facebook page or Instagram account.  I can guarantee that the majority of photos are those of people smiling, looking beautiful, happy, secure and hopeful.  You generally won’t see a photo of the new mother who is crying because she has only had a handful of hours of sleep since bringing her newborn home.  You won’t see pictures of a fighting couple, near the brink of separation of divorce.  You won’t see the photos  of anguish, hopelessness, or despair.  You generally won’t see the “messy” part of each of our lives…the laundry piling up on the bedroom floor, the tax papers spread out all over the kitchen table in a rush to meet the deadline, the overwhelming burden of taking care of aging parents, or photos that are reflective of our worst times, such as grief, depression, or other form of utter despair. I get it, these are often our private emotions and we certainly don’t want them displayed out there for the world to see, not even our closest family and friends (at least I don’t).  But, to be frank, this is part of life.  It’s messy and it’s real.  The sad thing is, so often we feel that other people are happier or healthier than we are, or more financially secure.  People don’t generally post pictures demonstrating their worries, anxiety, or physical or emotional pain.  They don’t show the struggles with one of the many possible addictions, or fears of stigma that often go with them.  We may feel that they have perfect children, perfect relationships, perfect, well everything.  The bottom line is, that’s just not true….no matter who you are.  It is my belief that some of this false perspective comes from social media, as we always want to show our best.  I can guarantee you won’t see me posting pictures of me when I first wake up, or even without makeup, I don’t like the idea of that perspective living permanently on the world-wide-web, (and you all should be thanking me for this).  You may wonder where I am heading here, but ultimately, it is this: we are all imperfectly perfect.  We are as we were designed to be.  We don’t always have perfect hair, makeup, clothes, or life for that matter, but the imperfections are what makes us who we are.  Every ebb and flow makes us wiser, stronger, and sculpts us into the individuals that we are meant to be.

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A beautiful, young woman loses her life in a tragic accident. 

As each of us faces challenges, and perhaps feels like we are facing our struggles alone, while others are living blissful lives, I believe it is important to remember that we all have blurred lines.  We often only see the pictures that others want us to see.  If there is no other lesson here, it is to be kind, even when you don’t feel like it.  Make no assumptions, as we are often not seeing the whole picture.  Most people are struggling with “something”, although we may not or never know what that is.  Love the skin that you’re in and love others for who they are, not what you hope that can be.  Love yourself and others, despite imperfections and flaws, as they are what makes each of us, us.

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A big sister gently kisses the forehead of her newborn brother, born with serious health issues. 

In today’s post, I am sharing some of my most intimate paintings.  Paintings that remain most dear to my heart, because of the sentiment behind them. I am not sharing the full stories behind each one, as they are not my stories to tell.  Each one is a rendering of emotion of heartache, despair, and sadness, as well as hope, love and miracles.  Just a simple demonstration that we all live imperfectly perfect lives and to remember love each other just a little bit more.

Playing with Paint, a Quick Study

A fun little Flip-o-Gram video on painting a quick little lotus last night. I love larger projects, but I’m constantly painting little fun (quick) projects as well. Many get tossed….you never see those!!  Maybe some day, I’ll post a series of really bad paintings….lol!!  But this little flower was fun to paint in between commissioned projects.  More little clips like his to come. Hope you enjoy!!   And…share this link, and tag me to be entered into a drawing to take place on 07/15/16 to win a limited-edition, signed 5×7″ print of this little dancer.  As always, follow me on Instagram @lifeinwatercolorblog

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After the Dance

Blessings of Blossoms and Friendship

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I LOVE this time of year!  The weather begins to warm-up, flowers blossom, gardens start to grow, and the vitamin D from the sunshine seems to have a positive effect on us and those around us.  It’s like an instant facelift for the mood.  I have always loved the warmer weather, although I live in the Pacific Northwest, where we do experience a lot of rain in the fall and winter.  That may very well be why I appreciate the spring so much.  It often feels like we have been living in a cave for months and finally get to experience sunlight.  Don’t get me wrong, I love where I live; the mountains, trees, and amazing landscapes are truly amazing, it’s just that spring is so welcome after months of grey.  I love color, which is why I enjoy watercolor painting so much.  Each color hits the paper and something amazing happens…the paint washes through the paper fibers, sometimes mixing and melding with other colors, creating a unique look and feel to each painting.  I love that no two watercolor paintings are alike.  Even if I tried to recreate a painting to the exact brushstroke, it would not be the same.  The paper may be less or more dry, or more coarse.  The amount of color or water on the brush impacts the way it flows across the paper.  Adding new color is often like an experiment, I can’t wait to see the color take off, creating my painting right before my very eyes.  I probably sound a little crazy to someone who doesn’t paint, or hasn’t experienced the marrying of one paint color to another, either on purpose or by chance.  While there are painting methods that are somewhat predictable, I have found that watercolors truly do their own thing, creating a unique mesh of colors and flow that are often not what I expect at all, hence the segue to my topic today, “blossoms of friendship”.  I have many friendships with many different type of people.  Each friendship is unique and dear to me.  I have friends from high school that I may not see every day, or even every year, but each time we talk or get together, it’s like no time has passed.  I have friends on Facebook that I have never met in person, but enjoy friendly banter back and forth.  I have friends that became a friend while working together.  I have some friends that I can’t even recall how we became friends (forgive my aging brain)…Whatever the case, I appreciate each and every friendship in my life, for what each one brings.

I am not always a good friend.  I try to be there for those that need me during the dark times, as well as the good times and truly appreciate those that are there for me during those times as well.  I have lost parents, grandparents, and a newborn child.  I have suffered serious, and non-serious illnesses.  I have been I have been through the darkness of divorce and other unpleasant life events.  Through each of these experiences I have been fortunate to have friends by my side (literally and figuratively), and I hope that I am (or can be) that friend to others…it’s not always easy, and I may not always be able to be there in person, but the sentiment is certainly there.

I met up with friends from high school recently.  It was as day filled with trips down memory lane; so many wonderful memories, many I had forgotten (and many I had not).  There was the time that my friend, Kristi, knowing that I was highly-allergic to poison oak, took a short-cut through a section of field that was filled with poison oak.  She figured we were just quickly roaming through, so it wouldn’t be a big deal.  The next day, my swollen-shut eyes and puffy face said otherwise.  I still react this way when exposed to poison oak, and I always think of Kristi when I blister up (nothing but love for you my friend).   Sure, I could have died (okay, perhaps that is a bit dramatic), but it made for great entertainment back then (and still today, when we laugh about it).

I had a unique, and somewhat challenging childhood that many aren’t aware of, aside from my closest friends.  I was raised by a couple that were named my Godparents and had legal guardianship of me.  My Godmother was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic, making life greatly challenging at times.  She liked everything in its place and was aware of even the slightest change.  I was not allowed to cook, even through my teen years (other than boil water), as she didn’t like the kitchen to get dirty.  One time, when my Godparents were out of town, Kristi and I took advantage of the situation and made oatmeal on the stove top, prompting a significant panic when it boiled over onto the burners (Kristi still has anxiety over this to this day).  We also used the blender to make milkshakes.  We were pretty proud that we got the kitchen sparkling clean, leaving absolutely no trace of our betrayal (each appliance used had its vinyl cover back on as not to give us away).  That is….until my Godmother did her “walk-through” in the kitchen and promptly asked me if I had used the blender.  I panicked; looking around to see what might have given it away, and before I could respond, she said, “you didn’t put the plugs back in the correct outlet”.  I was given a verbal lashing and promised not to use the appliances again, without permission.   While this event induced anxiety at the time, it is one of our favorite memories of our childhood together, and we laugh about it now, (God rest my paranoid Godmother’s sweet soul).

Kristi remains one of my best friends and we reminisce about the good times we had together, as well as the struggles we got each other through.  Today, we experience different challenges of motherhood, working, aging, parents with declining health to mention a few.  Another good friend, Janet, just went through a serious health scare; a brain tumor thought to be malignant.  Nothing brings you back to reality and treasure a friendship like the possibility of losing that person.  Fortunately, after two surgeries, and nearly two weeks of waiting for pathology, it has been confirmed there is no cancer, and she has no sign of a tumor (as in it wasn’t a tumor at all, but appears to have been inflamed brain tissue).  We are grateful for answered prayers, and for the rekindled friendship that often gets lost in daily “life”.  Sometimes you don’t know or appreciate what you have until it’s gone.  So very thankful that I still have this friendship, and it’s stronger than ever.  I don’t know how I would have survived my childhood without my friends, like Kristi and Janet, and so thankful for each and every true friend that I have been blessed with. While we all may not see each other with any kind of frequency, the love and friendship never fades.

So, what does any of this have to do with blossoms (in relation to the title of this blog)?….well, absolutely nothing really, other than each friendship grows in it’s own unique way.  Some are beautiful, nearing perfection.  Some have thorns, but we see the beauty in its complexity.  Others are complicated and may not last long, but we remember the beauty that it held while it blossomed.The meeting of someone may seem insignificant, but when a friendship evolves, there is truly something beautiful that is to be treasured.  I am always striving to be a better person, a better mother, a better partner, a better friend.  I’m not perfect, but I love with all my heart and hold each of my friends near and dear to my heart.

My question to anyone out there reading this…what have you done lately to cultivate your friendships?  Perhaps a phone call, or text, scheduling a get-together, even if only for a brief moment to connect.  I highly recommend you reach out to someone.  Don’t let the passage of time allow you to feel embarrassed for not connecting sooner.  Better late than never.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed with daily life and the struggles that come with it, but there is much joy and fulfillment in connecting with the friends (and family) in our life.  Don’t delay, as we are never promised tomorrow.

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were too afraid to have and the decisions we waited too long to make.”  – Unknown Author

A Mother’s Hug Lasts Long After She Lets Go

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A watercolor rendition of a photo of Joey Feek and her daughter Indiana

It’s post Mother’s Day, a day that is meant to honor. remember, and celebrate our mothers and our own motherhood.  It is often a day of joy and making memories, but for many, it is also a day that signifies loss.  It might be the loss of a mother.  I lost my own mother at the age of 44 due to breast cancer.  It might be the unimaginable loss of a child.  I lost my first daughter, Sierra RayLeen, who was a preemie that died the same day she was born.  Perhaps it’s the loss of hope to become a mother, or the feeling of loss for a mother that has given up a child for adoption, or has been a surrogate, granting another to experience the joys of being a mother.  For some, it may be a combination of these scenarios, or others not mentioned.  I feel so fortunate to have known my mother and have had her for as long as I did.  I know so many that lost their mothers at a much younger age than mine.  Sadly, some never even know their mother.

Joey Feek, country singer and composer, was on my mind on Mother’s Day.  She died recently of cervical cancer, leaving behind an amazing family, including a beautiful daughter, Indiana.  Her story captured my heart from the moment I heard it.  Perhaps it was because she was so young, as was my mother.  Perhaps it was because she died of cervical cancer (I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, the earliest stage remedied with a hysterectomy).  All I know is that I was drawn into the story of she and her family as she was deemed terminal and she went to her childhood home to spend her remaining days with her family.  Her husband, Rory had said she was not going home to die, but to “live”.  The love she had for her family was evident in every last photograph that was shared with the public. I did an abstract painting from a photograph of Joey and her daughter, Indiana, who had fallen asleep on her mother who was embracing her while laying on a hospital bed.  It was a beautiful photograph, and the moment I saw it, I knew I wanted to paint it.  I had found a quote that I thought was perfect for this photograph, “A mother’s hug lasts long after she lets go”.

On this Mother’s Day, I was elated to spend time with my two grown children, Talisa and Taylor.  I am so thankful that God blessed and entrusted me with these  two beautiful beings.  They are grown-up, but they will always be my babies.  I have outlived my mother’s age by nearly five years now, and I recognize how fortunate I have been to watch my kids grow up and to see my grandchildren.  Nothing is promised and we never know how much time we have here on earth.  I am truly grateful for every moment I have with my children, whether it’s spending time together, on the phone, or even the little messages we send back and forth (thanks to current technology).  As quoted by Hermann Hesse, “If I know what love is, it is because of you”.

April Giveaway!!

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April Giveaway!!!

 

Sign up to follow my blog and be entered into a drawing on April 30th for a FREE 8×10″ matted and framed custom watercolor portrait!!  Drawing will be held on April 30th at 8pm and winner will be announced thereafter.  This is a $120 value.  Go to my Facebook page (Watercolor Creations Gallery) and share my page for an additional chance to win.  Good luck!

Best Friends

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Best Friends

A few months ago, I was asked to paint a picture of a friend’s husband with their beautiful (and quite large) dog, “Big John”.  I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t do the portrait justice, as Big John is very black, and watercolors tend to lift, so you have to be very careful when painting.  It took longer than most pictures, as it took many layers of paint to get the desired effect, but it is one of my favorites.  I want to give a shout-out to my friend, whom this painting was done for, as she and her husband have the most amazing business called Woodsy Wonders Props, making beautiful props for newborn photographs (they have many other amazing things too).  Check out her Instagram account @woodsywondersprops.

Dogs are known to be and often referred to be “Man’s Best Friend”.  I miss having a dog, but my allergies were pretty intense as a child when I had dogs.  Plus, I really don’t have adequate time to spend with a dog, or other pet, so I choose not to have any at this time.  Perhaps down the road, when I am retired and/or have the adequate time to spend with my pet, I will do so again.

I appreciate the loyalty that I have experienced with pets.  My first very own pet was a dog that actually adopted me.  I was about twelve-years-old and in the 5th grade.  My parents and I lived out in the country, about 8 miles from town.  We had horses, but no other pets at the time.  This short, little black and white mutt showed up at our house and I was absolutely elated. He didn’t have a collar, and we assumed he strayed from home.  A few days later, we found out that he belonged to our neighbors just up the road.  I was a little bummed that we found his owner, as I wanted to keep him, but at least I knew I could visit him, since he lived so close.  I found out that his name was Spanky (a little homage to The Little Rascals series) and the neighbors had just adopted him the prior week.  They tried to keep him home, but every chance he had, he would run down the road to my house, much to my surprise, and joy!  After many weeks of trying to keep him home, the neighbors finally suggested that I keep him, since he clearly had adopted me, and they couldn’t keep him home. We all, including my parents, knew that he belonged with me, so that’s how he became my very first pet of my own and my best friend.

I LOVED that dog!!!  He would  actually wait for me at the bus stop each day when I returned home from school.  He had short, stubby legs, but he could run surprisingly fast when he saw me, or knew I was coming.  He brought joy to my world and often went with me as I explored the outdoors (this was long before video games, cell phones and DVDs).  He was a Heinz-57, which ultimately meant that he was a various mixed breed of dog.  I couldn’t even tell you what various breeds he may have consisted of, but it doesn’t really matter, because he loved me with all of his being, and he helped me get through a difficult childhood filled with instability and uncertainty.  I have had other pets, and he is long gone, but Spanky will forever be special in my heart due to the unconditional love that we had for each other.