Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New painting


"Too soon/Mort laisse un chagrin d'amour que personne ne peut guérir, l'amour laisse un souvenir personne ne peut voler"
by Hilary J. England, 2011
Oil on canvas, 24" x 26" x 2"
This was a hard painting to paint.  After the procession of deaths I have experienced over the last several years, I felt moved to chronicle the absolutely abyssmal pain that follows these experiences, and how we flounder and feebly attempt to process the enormity of the losses. 

For several months, I was languishing in a sort of limbo--my mind refused to move forward, but it also refused to look back.  It stubbornly resisted all thoughts of anything painful, as you would attempt to fight off a mugger.  I felt this apprehensive, breathless sort of waiting...as if something more was going to happen.  And, sometimes it did.

After several funerals this year, several last year, etc., and etc., I was a bit on edge, and just plain sick and tired of people I know and care about kicking the bucket...not very eloquent, but there it is. 

I am thankful at this year's end for all I have, and all that were given to me, for the people, places and gifts that make me appreciate life.  I mourn those who have departed this life before their time, or even, if it was their time, it's never good time for those who are left behind. 

In three days time, Christmas Eve,  Nicole will have left us a year ago.  Casey is gone a year as of December 15th, Dan died on President's day, Matt on Memorial day.  Several more have gone on since the beginning of this year, such as Lori at Thanksgiving time, even Larry who went at St. Patrick's day...we have all the holidays covered, not to be sick or sarcastic...and although I'm well aware that death is part of life, it seems once you open the floodgates, it's a never ending trickle. 

I remember 14 years ago when my Grandmother died, and it was the most enormous loss I had suffered to that point in my life.  Here I was a women in her mid-twenties, and I had been lucky enough to not have been touched by death in a major way until that point.  I knew in my heart of hearts Pandora's box had been opened with her death, and we had several more, back to back, all in a succession.  It seemed to grow quiet for several years, and then, again, all at once. 

So, this painting is my way of trying to work out the enormous love that is carried away with the departing souls, and the enormous hole that is left behind in the hearts of those who love them.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Legendary creatures and local mythology


It's been a long time since I wrote here.  I guess I have been very busy, and I have been shunning writing, for whatever reason, but, it is what it is right now.

Today, while I was running along the canals in Weissport, I saw a black creature running along the ice, close to the shore.  It was running parallel to the embankment, and as I jogged, at first, it appeared to me to be a cat.  But, why would a cat be running along the ice near the shore?  I ran even faster to catch up with the animal, and as I neared it, I began to get an icky feeling it may be a big black rat.  I slowed my pace, and instinctively, the animal turned to look behind, casting his body into a profile position, and I was flabbergasted...it was a mink!  A beautiful, dark brownish black, large mink!  He turned to run and I chased after him, ripping the earphones out of my ears and fumbling to find my camera app. 

As I approached him, he tried to take refuge and hide from me in the brush that hung over the canal, still on the frail ice of the still stream.  I crept up slowly, and he was crouched into a position, as if ready to spring and strike at me.  I began to chuckle to myself about what kind of story I would have if I was attacked by a mink while out for my daily run.  Not a cougar, but a mink.  As I slowly stalked up to where I could get a good look and photo of him, he took one last baleful glare at me, and plunged into an opening in the ice and disappeared.  I missed my shot, and was sorely disappointed.

I waited for a few moments to see if he would resurface, but, he didn't.  So, I continued my run, and about 20 yards away, stopped and looked back, and there he was, on the ice again, watching my retreat.  I decided to leave him in peace and continue on my way, and just be content with the fact that I spotted him and actually saw a mink in the wild, and not stuffed in Cabela's showroom.

Anthony thought it was pretty funny, and said, "You should've caught and skinned him!  He's probably worth good money."  I told him not to be sick ;-)

So, that's my "TG" gratitude moment for the day!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Rollercoaster that is Life...



Back to the day in and day out...that's OK.  I don't mind it.  I do have some very big changes coming in the next few months, and I'm looking forward to shifting gear.  Change is hard, but I know that it is the only way to progress into new parts of your life, and continue growing, so I brace against the wind, and run headlong into it!  That's just my style.

I have some shows coming up in the next couple of months, the first in Chelsea in another week or so.  It is called "Idiosyncratic Expressions," and will be on West 25th Street, with the opening on December 1st.  I'll be really busy in the next upcoming weeks and months, and that's always good.

On a sad note, my friend Lori passed away this afternoon.  I was so saddened to hear it.  She had been only recently ill with cancer, lung cancer, and went downhill so quickly, it was shocking.  She was the sweetest person.  I know most people always say that after a person is gone, but Lori literally was.  She was a gentle, shy, funny, witty gal with a heart of gold.  We  bartended together "back in the day," and we remained in contact because we always passed in the same circles, and remained in touch.  I knew she was ill through a mutual friend of ours, and I talked to Lori and planned to go see her this week, not realizing how close to the end she really was.  She died this afternoon surrounded by family and friends.  I'm happy she passed in such a loving way...

She was such a fighter.  According to her oldest daughter, she was drinking coffee until a few hours before her death, and still conscious!  She was beautiful and spunky, with baby blue eyes and a shy but dazzling smile.  Now I don't get to say goodbye to her,  only to her family.  I can kick myself for not moving more quickly, for thinking I had more time.  I saw she was out to a luncheon with friends only ten days ago, so I couldn't fathom she was that close to death.  I am heartsick now.

R.I.P. Lori.  You will be missed.  You touched many lives with your kindness and compassion, and your strong but gentle will.  May flights of angels see you to your rest.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Paris mi amour



I can't believe it's our last night here in Paris.  I love this city, and it makes me sad to go :-(  The opening of the exhibition went very nicely, and we met some wonderful and interesting people from London, Russia, Dublin, Italy, and other places, so we had a great time.

We did have a lot of fun memories on this trip, from the initial Algerian taxi driver trying to charm us with "sexy time," (eeeeeeeeeeeeewwww!!!) to Jilly and I fumbling around in the Metro unable to get the automachine to take our Euros, all under the disapproving eye of the most French looking Frenchman we saw in all of Paris--it was so comical, I said he probably thought he was watching Ralph Kramden and Norton trying to operate the machine!  Jill was in awe of how French he was--she was waiting for his tongue to shoot out of his mouth and catch a fly!!!  (No offense LOL).  The crowning moment of the day:  when we were in a beautiful little cafe by the Eiffel tower, and the old guy in the seat next to us just started eating bread out of our bread basket.  It was like a friggin Seinfeld episode.  I whispered, "Jilly, he's eating our food!" We just looked at him in surprise, and he smiled and waved.  Jill and I just started cracking up!  It was so damn funny, we laughed until we literally cried. 

So, we are going to go out for a nice farewell dinner tonight, and then tomorrow, back to the States.  But, we will be back in the Spring/Summer of 2012, so it is only au revoir for a short time!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Summer's End" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 40" x 40" x 2", 2011

Here is my newest painting, called "Summer's End."  It was a bittersweet painting to complete, as there was a hint of sadness in it, suggesting the passage of time and inevitable change, and how we all move on to new things, and our moments together are fleeting.  I felt a cataclysmic shift approaching, a vibe in the air that felt like a strange foreboding, and the only one in the painting completely oblivious to it was the baby,little Amelia.  Although I enjoyed painting it, it really took a lot out of me emotionally, and I was quite drained at the finish of it.

I've been very busy lately, since Paris is coming up in a couple of weeks, and then I still have another two exhibitions, and more planned, overseas as well.  School has been taking a lot of my time as well, and I have been feeling blue since I've had a major change in the house with Noelle moving to New York City to attend high school.  It really was more painful than I thought to let my baby go to bigger and better, and I have been nursing my broken heart for a couple of weeks now.  I hope the change will do her good, and it does bring me comfort to know she is attending the same high school I did, only I hope she will make more of it than I did, lol.

Yes, Paris.  I am looking forward to returning to Paris...what can you say about Paris and its exceptional beauty and vitality?  Culture and history?  Just amazing.

So, with that happy thought, I hope you enjoy my new painting♥

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More painting

"Stonhedge in late Summer" 12" x 16" oil on canvas by Hilary J. England

I have to say, I have been very very busy lately.  I have been planning for upcoming shows, and with school, running the B&B which has been booming, and working diligently on my paintings, I'm just a paintin' fool!!  I love the cooler weather (although we are technically still waiting on it), and I'm looking forward to Paris in November, and perhaps going on to Italy from there.

I'll leave you with this quick, impressionist study I did of a beautiful enclave in Stonehedge Gardens.  It was very shaded and cool and damp, and it just kind of struck my fancy.  It's titled "Stonehedge in late summer" and it is 12" x 16" oil on canvas.

Lots more to come!

Friday, September 9, 2011


"Summer picnic in Pennsylvania" by Hilary J England, 2011, 36" x 48" oil on canvas
Well, I finally finished this piece.  I hit the wall and forced myself through...I get bored easily, and like all people I have to force myself to finish what I start.  In the end, I'm happy with the painting, but this one was not any easy or pleasant one by a far cry.

First, the nature of it (so many people) took maximum effort.  Multiple figure groupings are a challenge from a design standpoint, but I was very happy with the design I finally ended with--it was just hte painting itself.  Through the end of the summer, it was a miserable experience, to be blunt.  But, I perservered through sweat, fly, gnats, sweltering heat, and general frustration, and I finished it.  That in itself is a victory.  Near the end, I was ready to just throw it aside...but I knew how much that would bother me.  I would not be able to move on until I gave it my very best once more, and in the end, I really think it came together wonderfully.

So, now I can breath a sigh of relief, sit back and really enjoy this painting, and move on to the other large scale paintings I'm looking to begin...Hooray!  Out with summer and in with the cool weather!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday...and the countdown begins!

"Poppy field" by Hilary J England, Oil on canvas, 2011
Let the countdown to school begin!!  Brother, I am sooooooo looking forward to these teenagers having something to do with themselves again.  I don't remember ever hanging around the house whining and being annoying at this age--I was always out....getting in trouble LOL.  Maybe it's better they stay around and whine about being bored!!!

Here is my newest study out in the field...it was actually done about a month or two ago, but I have been slacking with keeping up with my photography, so here it is now!  It's called "Poppy field," because, it was a field full of poppies and wildflowers!!  Sorry, I wasn't thinking of anything exotic in terms of names with this one.  I really enjoyed painting it though...it was one of those really relaxing and satisfying paintings with no hiccups...hiccups usually occur outside like your easel being blown face down in the dirt by the wind, getting stung by a bee or eaten by mosquitos, forgetting your turps, or getting chased away by irate farmers who don't want their land "painted."
None of that for this one!

So, out to get a jog in and some other stuff today...enjoy!!♥

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cool nights


Wow, when I was a little girl, I absolutely LOVED this man. I know it's weird, but his voice is so sublime, and I was transfixed with him. I thought he was such a handsome man, maybe because he reminded me of Jesus LOL.

This song takes me back!!! I love watching the video, and seeing how music was original then, with no corporate backers marketing them as objects or products, and they picked their own clothes instead of being dressed by staff that made a "look" for them, etc. They actually wrote and sang their own music, and looked like they were having fun, not enduring a choreographed workout some pencil pusher indicated they should do, to enhance their marketable image.

R.I.P. Paul Davis, you were a true artist, and you shaped my thoughts about love from when I was a little girl...romantic, exciting, contemplated. Just delicious. 

Come on over tonight...come on over....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Slacking...

"Study of pansies in their bed" by Hilary J England, oil on canvas, 8" x 10"


I know I've been slacking lately on my posts, and for that I do apologize.  I have personal stuff going on so I am pretty stressed out. 

Usually, I find solace in painting, but lately, its been like I have ADHD or something.  I find it hard to concentrate on anything, and sleeping is the only time my mind stops spinning and turning, when I can grab some.

I am plodding along doing what I have to do, albeit slowly.  I seem to have no heart for anything lately, but I know it will pass...I do feel a bit of hope that I didn't feel initially; maybe its just the support of some good friends that has me cheered up, and that is certainly a blessing!!

I am working my way through my big piece that I'm creating right now, with several other smaller pieces languishing on their respective easels in varying stages of development...that in itself makes me depressed.  I'm not used to struggling with this kind of a "block," and its one of the toughest things I've wrestled with lately.  All of the problems that are going on seem to have all fallen down at once, kind of "kicking my knees out" from under me.  Perhaps I'll just sit on the ground awhile...or, maybe not.  I'm not the kind to sit around and grow moss ;-).

So, I'm going to push myself to finish what I've started...I have to for my own peace of mind.  I have shows coming up, and deadlines to meet, and languishing is not an option. 

To my friends that have sent me private messages and have been there for the last few weeks through this stress, thank you, God bless you, and I love you for your friendship and kindness.  I only hope that I can be there for you as well as you are for me if you ever have need....

So, I can blow up the image of my own "good" life LOL.  Nothing is ever perfect, not people, not places, not things.  And not me.  But, recognizing that, I can move on without animosity or anger, knowing that in the end, everything works itself out...I look forward to a new chapter in my life, hopefully I'm a bit wiser, and will learn from my own mistakes this time around.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dog days of summer

"Cloudburst" by Hilary J. England 8" x 10" oil on canvas.


So, the dog days are here!  Hiding inside between noon and 5 pm because of the blistering heat, and an bored people.  Yikes...  Time for another vacay...

So, here's a rapid oil sketch I did at the local "botanical" gardens at Stonehedge.  I rather like it...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Trippin' and jumpin'

"Pain in the A$$ ♥♥"  by Hilary J. England, oil on hardwood panel, 16" x 20" 2011


We are bounding through summer.  I leave on my roadtrip to Montreal in a few weeks, so I'm prepping for the possible "tornado" damage I'll return to when the housesitters leave.  The old saying, "when the cat's away..."  Ah well...these are the little pitfalls of traveling and still keeping your home safe.  At least my Dad is on top of things while he's managing the place!

Above is my newest painting, called, "Pain in the A$$"  I'll let you figure it out, just from her mischievious facial expression.  Sigh...teenagers.  Boredom.  Mischief and energy.  Know it alls.  I wish I was that age again, sometimes.  Just to have the energy and optimism.  But, when I think of going through life up to this point all over again, the idea makes me shudder.  So much for reincarnation!

Aaaaaaaanyway...going out for the day and leaving all inhabitants behind in the house.  My mediums are drying up in the heat, and I can't believe I've run through so much, plus, I have paintings to pick up at the framers, and other errands.  That's the glamorous life!

Enjoy♥

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sand in the pants

"Storm over sand dune " study oil on canvas, 8" x 10" by Hilary J England

I had a nice day at the beach.  I've always liked Sandy Hook, since it brings back memories of my childhood...funny, since I've been going there my whole adult life, but I never really brought my kids there...I was always too afraid to be alone with them at the beach, afraid they would drown, and I worked so much when they were little, and lived far away from my family, so I never had anyone to go with.  Sad, really.

They are more "lake" types, since that's where I would always bring them.  The lake was calm and safe, with no rip currents, no mysteries of the deep.  The beach was "off limits" since the water was wild, and the kids were daring, and this scared me.  I remember once, when Noelle was about two, she wandered away from my beach blanket at Jones Beach, when it was packed wall-to-wall with people.  I ran searching for her, blanket to blanket, and then, down to the edge of the shore, where for a moment I watched the rough surf pounding against the sand, and felt a thrill of horror like one I've never felt before or since...I just felt completely helpless, thinking in that vast, violent mass of water, my baby could be lost inside of it, and I couldn't get to her.  I just stood on the shore and cried.  The lifeguards found her wandering with a little group of children close to the snack stand.  She apparently saw the kids playing with their sand toys and ran off after them.  I never brought the kids back to the beach again.

Yesterday though, the beach was extra quiet, the water still and gentle.  The shore has a steep drop-off, so I respect that I have to be cautious.  The day was so hot, it was hell trying to cross the quarter mile of sand to access the North beach.  I can now say I feel pity for anyone who has to cross a desert.  What an ordeal...I literally thought my feet would have blisters on them.

The weather held out until about 5 pm, and then a terrific storm came rolling in.  I got to capture a good deal of it before we were kicked off the beach, and as Providence would have it, the second we opened the door to the car, the rain started.  Talk about perfect timing.

So, I hope you enjoy my painting study of "Storm over the sand dune." I was only working with four colors and titanium white, so it was as basic and to the heart of it as I can get it.  I'm looking forward to hitting up some more Shore points very soon, and getting right back into that ocean! ♥



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stormy sky


"Stormy sky study" by Hilary J England 8" x 10" oil on canvas

I am looking forward to my road trip to Montreal for the opening reception of our group exhibition at the Gallery Gora.  It should be fun, and road trips are always a good time for me.  I love the scenery and stopping off in different parts of the country and taking in the local "culture."  I am definitely looking forward to the next few weeks.

This little study above was done in a field of some kind of wheat, I'm not really sure what type, but the sky was starting to get really stormy looking and the clay earth had this red tone, so, I pushed it a bit, and had some fun with it.  That's why it's fun to be an artist...you get to make it your way!! 

So, with summer upon us, I was thinking of ways to incorporate that season and the accompanying heat into the series I'm working on, and I've gotten some pretty good ones, so I'm going to start on that limb of the series in the next few days.

All in all, life is good!  Hope it's the same for you♥

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sunrise and sunset

"Sunset" by Hilary J England 8" x 10" oil on canvas
Sunsets and sunrises...they seem to go by very quickly these days, and I didn't want to miss the beauty of these never-ending awe inspiring events.  So, I did this quick study...

I have been looking for different ways to meditate with this beautiful, natural world, as well as make that important mind-body-spirit connection, and I've decided that giving up watching current events for a spell would be extremely helpful.  So, I will just "be" for the time being.  Be calm and restful with no daily assault of negativity on my senses...

I wish I could go on a nice holiday and completely "unplug" but that won't be the case for a few weeks...sparing a day here and there at the beach.  But hey, it's still something to look forward to. 

Well, back to the studio!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gentle breezes

"Field of flowers" by Hilary J England 8" x 10" oil on canvas

I am looking forward to going back to the beach...it's definitely time to get some ocean refreshment!  I want Noelle to come with me, but she is hesitant to leave her friends (typical teen), but I have her in mind for this specific trip.  I must admit, I have some ideas in my head for painting her at the beach, actually that is truly the motive for the trip, besides my need for the water.  So, I must set up my plan to convince her...it's like setting a plan for hunting a deer, lol.  Make sure I prod her in one direction, but not too strongly, if I see her going in another direction, head her off at the pass...

Montreal is coming very soon, and I must get the paintings shipped.  Then, my New York exhibition, my Paris exhibition, the trip to Florence, and the holidays.  This year seems to be slipping by at an unprecedented rate...I don't know where the time goes.  It gives me nightmares sometimes, how fast life is going by.  If I had no faith, it would be an idea that depressed me into catatonia...

Last night, when I was reading, I got a very unusual phone call...a real "blast from the past"---25 years in the past!  An old school and neighborhood chum, who found my number on Facebook, and found we were not living too far from each other now.  He was actually very good friends with my brother, and was looking to get together with us all and have a barbeque.  I felt such nostalgia as I talked to him, my mind vaulted back to rough and tumble days at the dirty beaches of Staten Island, frolicking in the murky waters, yelling and screaming and running and fighting.

 I remembered he lived on a little cliff by the beach, with a path that led to the front of his house.  The house next door had an electric fence for their pet cow, and we were obsessed with this fence--we would form a chain, and dare each other to be the one to grab the fence...the theory behind it was that the guy on the end would get it the worst, but it hurt like hell just the same no matter where you were in the pecking order.  Michael Florio was the boy who lived in the house with the electric fence.  He died in 1990, decapitated in a car accident on the highway, on his way back to his college dorm at SUNY Binghamton.  All these years later, all this life went by, and he is still 19....

My old friend was a first responder to the 9/11 disaster, and now suffers from pulmonary fibrosis of his lungs as a result.  I felt sad to hear how this happened to him, in his attempt to do his duty for his community and his countrymen.  We made plans to get together for a barbeque in the next few weeks, and we could catch up and reminisce. 

So, the next few days should be busy as usual.  I am nearing the end of my second semester in University, and we have a "full-boat" with guests in the B&B.  The ghost stayed away last night and let me get a good night's rest, thank goodness!  I woke up so refreshed this morning, I didn't want to get out of bed...or, maybe it was the five miles I did in the gym yesterday...who knows. 

I leave you with this little painting I did of a beautiful field of wildflowers out in the little remote area of our "neighborhood."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Haunted House!


"Full moon study, Jersey shore" by Hilary J England, 8" x 10" oil on canvas


I slept better last night, without any ghostly occurrences, lol.  I have been having a rather weird problem of the last few weeks with what seems to be ( (cringe) )  something perhaps paranormal.  I will wake up for no reason between 2 and 4 a.m., usually sometime during the 3 a.m. hour, and my TV just blares on, or shuts on and off for no reason, I've found my dresser drawers open, the hall lights blinking, but the other night was definitely the worst...I woke up on my side, and when I opened my eyes, it appeared the black outline of either (a) a child or (b) someone on their knees, was staring at me face-to-face next to my bed.  I screamed and in an instant blinked my eyes as I fumbled for my light switch, but the "person" was gone.  It startled me so bad, I did a check of the whole lower portion of the house, and found the basement door open, which I knew was closed, and this startled me even worse.  After a more thorough check of the house, with no physical intruders, I was able to relax.  Very strange!!

We have had routine "strange occurrences" in the house, as reported by different people, such as the kids (which I chalked up to overactive imagination) and a few guests (which I chalked up to one too many glasses of wine), but this has become very regular, and has become disturbing to my sleep almost nightly.  I do have ghost hunters who are crazed to come in here, but I don't know if that's a good idea, since what will they do if they find something?  Nothing...probably just make "It" more angry.  Nope, maybe a Priest, but I think the ghost hunters will have to be held at bay for a now.

So, that's the daily Weird report.  With that, I will leave you with a rough color study I did with an amazing moon in the lingering sunset down at the Jersey shore...it was quite bewitching and almost paranormal!!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Say Uncle!

"Uncle" by Hilary J England, oil on canvas, 24" x 30"

This is my newest painting in my rural youth series.  They are of endless fascination to me...my mind is is fully firing as I watch them, hear them, drink them in, and then create a work about them.  It must be the beauty of youth that is uncompromised, wherever they are located, or no matter what their circumstances...it's like a diamond...it's still just as beautiful whether it's in the most precious setting, or laying in the dirt.

This painting is called "Uncle" and I loved watching the whole drama play out of the squirming child who wanted to go his merry way and get into some mischief or worse, and his young Uncle who lovingly yet firmly takes him from the situation...it was entertaining to watch the two of them, and yet there is always undercurrents of the elements around them.  The cool Spring evening, the bare trees, the bracing wind, and Uncle's resistance to the cold with his summer clothes in the chilly weather, the warmth of their skin and bodies against the greying, weathered clapboard of the Victorian farmhouse...there was so much that was interesting in this subject matter and of course my models who I love so dearly!

I've posted my upcoming exhibition on my website:  www.fieldsendart.com and I will be adding more information and other galleries as I start formulating my schedule for the upcoming months. 

I hope to see some old friends as I begin a-journeying in the next weeks, and I am looking forward to getting a lot of work done as well...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Drip drip drip

"Bad girlz" by Hilary J. England, 18" x 24" oil on hardwood panel


So, the summer begins...I have been working at a quick pace to get things accomplished...I'm happy to say things have settled down in the last week...knock on wood.  I prefer the quiet and ability to take peaceful walks with just my Muse...and not being hounded by the demons of everyone else's drama chasing me like a predator.  Plus, throw schoolwork into this maze...

This painting is called "Bad Girlz"  and is still part of the series of young adults, obviously.  I like to see the chronology of them, and how Noelle is changing through them.  Her hair is much different in this painting, and Maddie, the little squirt, is so interesting to paint.  This one was done at twilight, and the light was very orange and glowing...it was interesting to put them together with all of their colors and textures, and of course, energy.

I will begin a new painting immediately, since my own energy is frenetic lately, and I have to move in order to release this toxicity...

I'm hoping to get to the shore in the next few days...that will make for some interesting studies.  I'll take Noelle, and see how it goes...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Late Spring breeze

"The path" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 10", 2011

The weather has been perfect these last few days...70s and breezy, clear, bright blue skies with puffy, cottony clouds, and, without a hint of humidity...my favorite type of weather, hands down! 

Last night was Matthew's funeral...he was very loved.  Hundreds of people turned out, and I had to wait online with Noelle for about two hours to get in to the viewing...yes, he was a well-loved young man, which is what makes it so baffling and frustrating.  As I stood waiting online on that beautiful, breezy evening, I would watch the sporadic outlet of people coming out of the doors at the top of the stairs of the funeral home, and even the most stoic of men had a tissue to his eyes or his nose.  There wasn't a dry eye to be seen on the entire block...

R.I.P. Matthew Aungst.  I am sure God has you in His eternal love, care and rest, and for that, I feel peace about Matthew's death.  We all die eventually, and although Matthew's death was so premature, he still did alot in his young life, and touched many, many people.  Perhaps he had fulfilled his purpose in that short span...

I am looking to go the beach in the next few days.  Although the heatwave is gone, and it will be cool and breezy, I need the mental refreshment that the ocean breezes provide, even without swimming.  I am very much looking forward to feeling the briny wind against my face, and seeing the sparkling waves, the seabirds, and the roar of the waves.  I will bring my paints and get some studies done as well.

I got some good news today--I won another ArtSlant showcase, this time round 3.  That's always nice to hear!  Also, I've been asked by my sister to collaborate on a children's book, and I'm really looking forward to that as well.

So, I leave you with a study I did yesterday...it started out rather absently, but ended with some zest.  It's a study of foliage and a sundappled path lined by some boulders.  It's simply called, "The path."  Enjoy♥

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend and remembering...



Memorial Day...somehow you can't see it as anything but synonymous with sunny days, barbeques, and the kick off to summer...even though the meaning is a more reflective, solemn day, a day for remembering our fallen soldiers.

When I think of Memorial Day, and the soldiers who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, and I say a quiet prayer for their bravery, and marvel at their courage.  In the face of annihilation, they still took action...thank you for your service, and for laying your lives down for your fellow countrymen, and for the future of all of our children.

Memorial Day was a very sad one for us.  No, we were not personally reflecting on a lost soldier, but, we dealt with a completely different sadness...my young daughter's little boyfriend committed suicide on Sunday night.  He was only 15 years old...it makes me cry to even write this.

What would make such a beautiful young man do this hideous thing to himself??  It was completely out of left field...he was an A student, a track star, and had many friends.  He was gentle, quiet and polite.  We were very happy that our daughter had picked this young man to be her friend, as he seemed genuinely on his way to having a bright and happy future.  All of that ended with a single self-inflicted gun shot wound.

My daughter is devastated.  My heart breaks for her, watching her 15 year old mind try to make sense of something that even our adult minds cannot.  Why did he do it?  Why didn't he tell anyone he was hurting?  He had been bullied by a group of boys that day, and he was beaten up, and made fun of...was that enough of a reason to take his own life?  Noelle cried and cried, going over all of  Sunday's hours and events...wondering where she could have seen something, helped him, intervened...even a few hours before his death, he was supposed to come visit, and he never showed up.  He turned off his phone.  A few hours later, he was dead.

His older brother found him after hearing the gunshot.  His parents are inconsolable, as is his older sister...this type of death, I feel, is the hardest death of all...leaving everyone who knew him bitter with regret...what could we have done??   We'll never have those answers in this lifetime.

I tried to console Noelle as best as I could.  Matt made a very bad choice, but God loves him still.  He is in a place of peace and love, where no one can ever hurt him again.

She cried and looked at me and said, "I can't believe that I'm never going to see him again in this life.  In a year, I will be older than him.  One day, when I'm your age, he will still be 15."  Yes, it's a terrible, sad reality, what's left of shattered hearts in the wake of a suicide.

R.I.P.  Matthew...sweet baby boy. 




Friday, May 27, 2011

Art Takes London

OK...new link! I need your support friends...just hit this link and rate my art with the little stars in the right hand upper corner of the page...it's that simple!
Enjoy your night, stay dry, stay safe, and have a wonderful weekend~

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Feeling the warmth!

"Beltzville ball game" by Hilary J. England, pastel on hardwood panel, 18" x 24" 2011

I am feeling the warmth!  Literally!!  It is about as fine of a day as you can get, very very warm (low to mid 80s), quite a change from the last several weeks.

I am really geared up.  I have been doing alot of studio work because of the weather, and also doing alot of work TO my studio, since it was in serious need of some help/upgrades.  First and most importantly, we got the giant new studio easel together...me and Ant.  It took about 3 hours, with miserable instructions, lots of bickering, and a few near mutinies, but we did it...and didn't have any reassembly necessary due to mistakes.  Pretty impressive.

I also am adding more electricity to the place, as well as the addition of several ceiling fans.  It turns into a sweatbox my midafternoon, and after two summers of suffering, I finally said enough is enough.  So, hopefully the fans and additional ventilation will help.  It's not central air, but I'm not Donald Trump either so, this is the most economical compromise I can make ;-)

The track system to hang my paintings is due to arrive on Friday, and I'm very excited about that.  Right now, we have wood screws somewhat haphazardly into the barn walls, but this will organize everything very nicely. 

All in all, everything continues to go well...we seem to have Noelle's health stabilized, so I'm thankful for that, and the summer will be upon us in the blink of an eye, so I'm making preparations for all the stuff we all have scheduled, and trying to get that coordinated...not really an easy task, but doable.

Well, that's it for now.  Out to get some more work done, and head off to the framer.  I'm also looking (again) for a professional photographer who photoes art, but this time I have a recommendation for one, so hopefully this will work out!  As you probably can tell from past entries, photography is the "thorn" in my side...it literally drives me nuts trying to get the photos just right, so this will be very helpful.  Confuscius says, "if you suck at something, delegate."  At least I think it was him, lol.

So, I'll leave you with the above painting I just finished, developed from a series of sketches done at a lakeside picnic.  It's simply titled, "Beltzville ball game" and it's 18" x 24" pastel on hardwood panel.

By the way friends, please vote for me at:  www.arttakeslondon.com/hilaryjengland  It only takes a minute, is free of charge, and will help me out immensely!!  Thanks!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fog and rain...


"Fog in forest study" by Hilary J. England, 8" x 10" oil on canvas

My, the rain and fog don't want to leave our area.  I've had a pretty stressful week, and yet, it seems quiet, because of the dense blanket of cloud that seems to hover over our area.

I couldn't contain myself any longer...I went out into the drizzle with my umbrella and did some studies...I hope you enjoy this little painting.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Misty day in the valley


"Contemplation" by Hilary J. England, oil on hardwood panel, 12" x 12"

What a calm and misty day in the valley...I had baby Amelia with me...she is such a good baby.  She spent the day with me, and didn't cry once.  She is like a little living, smiling dolly, and when I look into her sweet, good natured smile, and her sparkling blue eyes, it touches me to the depths of my soul.  It's like seeing love itself, the way God intended it--purity, goodness, gentleness.  It's as if I was looking beyond the veil into the sanctuary itself, a glimpse into the presence of the truth, when I look into her eyes.  I feel such a swell of love and gratitude for allowing me to have a little sight of that, in this rather turbulent and frequently chaotic world.

I had alot of annoying things to do, and the morning started with me jumping to my feet and running, literally, as I overslept the one day I needed to be on time, so the morning started in a rush...the way I dislike starting the day.  I got everything I accomplished I needed to, but I got some irritating news along the way, nothing other artists don't experience, so I try not to take things to personally, as evidenced by the 1000 other names on the email. 

So, I am back to work at things for tonight.  I have to put together my new, giant studio easel, which is supposed to be sturdy enough to handle some of the enoromous and ambitious canvases I'm tackling, I have to finish the pastel I'm working on, and I have to finish up this little still life I started about an hour ago.  I have multiple paintings to post, but I was lazy about photo-ing them, with being so busy lately.  Noelle's illness has been taking up alot of my time, poor thing, and now we have to go to the pediatric specialist on Monday, almost 2 hours' drive from home, so that should take the entire day again.  I am anxious to get things under control, as she is exhausted from both her illness and the relentless doctor's visits and tests, as am I, and I feel helpless to make her feel better.  I have faith that the doctor's will give her the appropriate course of treatment and make her well again.

So, enjoy the evening, and will post more paintings as I get them photographed.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Beautiful beautiful day


What a gorgeous day out today.  I worked in my studio on the pastel painting I started, and then Mark and I decided to take a ride to Palmerton for a few errands, and a quick lunch down by the river.  We were enjoying all of the nature, the scattering of folks fishing along the river, the bright new foliage, and feeling thankful to live in area with so much natural beauty.  Yes, the afternoon was quite beautiful.

We started home, riding down Route 895, when in the field parallel to the road, we both saw what appeared to be a large vulture, except that his flying pattern was different from that of a vulture.  He would beat his wings in a sort of two step pattern, and then glide, yet it was unlike the almost seemless gliding of a vulture.  We slowed down to look at him, and in a flash, against the sun, it appeared his tail was snow white.  My breath caught in my chest!!  Could it be?  A bald eagle?

We pulled the car to the side of the road, the two of us scrambling out of the car, across the highway to get a better look at him.  Yes indeed, it was a bald eagle.  He dived down towards the creek, and disappeared behind the treeline, so we ran for the car to follow him.  By the way, I realized in my excitement, I was standing in a poison ivy patch in sandals, but that did not dampen my enthusiasm!!

We got in the car, and cautiously followed the winding road to where we saw the eagle disappear to, and lo and behold, there he was, roosting in a dead tree on the side of the stream.  We were beside ourselves with excitement, and as we hurriedly whispered and got into position to get some awesome phots, he flew away!  Doh!  Kind of like catching the whopper on the end of your line and he jumps out of your hands back into the water!!

Anyway, just getting to see this majestic bird in all of his regal glory in the "wild" was worth the short duration of our sighting of him.  I had seen another a few weeks ago, but just a glimpse from the corner of my eye.  This was a full on viewing!!

That made my day :-)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Busy day


"Ball 1" pastel on hardwood panel, 12" x 16"
It was a very busy day today, and very beautiful out...which took the edge of the pressure, so to speak.  I woke up early and got the bugs worked out of my downloaded new software, and finished my online project before coffee, so I had the day to work outside.

The painting above is the second in a series of six, a subset of the larger series I am working on based on rural American youth.   I am including these very young children, as their parents are teenagers, and they are literally babies raising babies.  They are so beautiful, and full of happiness and vigor, and I am trying to capture the multifacets of this group.  The children are lovely, but they do feel the effects of their circumstances...I guess as we all do, ultimately.  Rich or poor, we all suffer from the "human" condition...

The painting began well, and I think as I moved through it, it began to aggravate me, but the problem was my own laziness...I forgot to put my mask on, and I began to feel the effects with swollen sinuses and tearing, itchy eyes.  Once I rinsed my eyes and got a breath of air, put my mask on, I was feeling much better and able to complete the work and be completely comfortable.  I have to remember that the dust is a health hazard, and not to forget that darned mask.  But, I am the one who forgets my seatbelt even after all of these years, so I don't know what to say about that.  Perhaps a slight penchant towards self-destruction?  Probably just early senility LOL

So, my schedule is pretty wide open until I take Noelle back to the Doctor in the late afternoon for her test results...I pray for the results to all be negative for any ill health, and feel fairly confident she will regain all of her health in short order, provided she follows a good diet, and whatever else the Doctor orders for her. 

So, that's it for tonight. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sweet breezes


"Reynold's falls oil study" oil on canvas, 8" x 10" by Hilary J. England

The sweet breezes of Spring have arrived.  I love painting and feeling the soft (sometimes gusty) wind against my face, my bare arms.  It makes me feel alive...

Here is a quick study of Reynold's falls.  I had to work quickly to prevent my artwork from going face down in the dirt, literally.  I am going to head to Stonehedge tomorrow (I think)...although that destination could change from now until then.

But, out to my studio for right now, and then later on I'll do some weeding in my flowerbeds and take Chorkie for a walk...and just EXHALE.  It's Friday, and no crazy parties to attend ;-)...just a nice quiet night with dinner, a movie, and some R&R!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quick study


"Lower waterfall study, Jim Thorpe" by Hilary J. England, 8" x 10" oil on canvas
Here is a quick little study I did at the waterfalls in Jim Thorpe.  The weather has been quite nice lately, and all of the trees are so bright with their tight little buds, Spring is bursting into full flower.

I enjoy the plein air studies, and the chance to clear my mind in the fresh, cool of the river mouth.  I look forward to going back there in the near future, and completing some more studies, and perhaps, a bigger piece.

Grace, forgiveness, and other important virtues

After having a day to recover my equanimity of the events of late (Osama bin Laden's assassination), I feel more shock and sadness at the behavior of my fellow Americans, in celebrating the death of person, and as one friend so aptly put it, turning the whole event into a drunken spectacle, or a "Monday night football event."

I feel the undignified manner of the whole event is appalling.  Even though Osama bin Laden was accused of many crimes, I wonder where his due process was?  Why was he not brought in for a trial?  Even the Nazis were given their due process and stood trial.  Why was his body not given back to his people?  His family?  Why was he summarily tossed into the ocean?  What would we do as Americans if some foreign force came in and did that to one of our high profile citizens, no matter what they were accused of? Why were Osama's companions also mowed down?  Where was consideration for that?  Guilty by association?  Do we now just make ourselves judge and jury?  Where does that mentality stop?

I don't have any sympathy for the crimes Osama stood accused of.  I am a New Yorker by birth, and also worked in one World Trade (the North tower) for a few years when I was very young.  Osama's accused crimes are heinous, no argument there.  But, the whole event is disgusting to me.  Hate only begets hate.

 I thought we were a freedom loving nation... since when does a freedom loving nation send a hit squad of assassins to kill a group of people, deprive them of their human rights to a trial, and then throw their bodies away without the benefit of a decent burial, or at least returning the remains to their family?  Since when do citizens of a freedom loving nation revel in the streets like a bunch of barbarians, drunk with blood lust and hatred, celebrating the death of another human being, no matter what they are accused of?  Why did our GOVERNMENT (both Republicans and Democrats) set the pace by having a "celebratory" dinner of this man's death, complete with standing ovations and catcalls?  Absolutely repugnant.

You may disagree with me.  I understand there are people out there that have lost loved ones, health, etc., and harbor alot of bitterness.  I am not addressing that complexity.  I am addressing the rest of the process, and the rest of our citizenry, that really did not have that personal interest in the destruction of 9/11.

 What kind of example do we set for our children by reveling in hatred?  My 15 year old daughter watched the events unfold that night, and said, "I feel sorry for this man.  He may have been a bad man, but I still feel sorry for him.  Look how badly everyone hates him," referring to the people dancing in the streets.  She was 100% right, and I was almost speechless to explain away their behavior...

I usually stay out of political frays, and I keep my political views to myself, because I feel we are all entitled to have our own opinions, to "agree to disagree" with dignity and tolerance.  But, this was just overwhelming to me, and I could not keep silent.

I am sorry if I have offended anyone...it's not meant to personally attack anyone, just to put out another "side" of the issue, and hope you can perhaps see another opinion of a fellow American, and citizen of the world.



Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rude businesses and other annoyances

Yesterday was a busy day...I went to the Home and Garden Expo to help Mark set up for his booth, since I had donated a small painting for his business to raffle off, and he wanted it put in a place of prominance, and also set up to capture some names, addresses, etc.  I actually ended up staying for four hours instead of one, since I ran into so many people I knew, and also met a very interesting woman, Sandi, who runs an up and coming art guild, which she persuaded me to join.  It wasn't a hard sell...she is a very vibrant, enthustiastic woman, with a lot of good ideas and she already has implemented some very good ones as well.  As a nonprofit,  she is grant eligible, and has received grant money already, for some very interesting public projects, so we agreed to collaborate on a few of them in the next few months.

The day was long but it went well, and I had to make an hour's trip to do some other visiting after the Expo, and was planning on looping around to Allentown after, to drop off my newest pastel painting to be framed.  I usually do my own framing, but not with pastel.  My local framer had closed shop and moved, so I decided to give the chain store, AC Moore, a shot, since I saw a coupon for 50% off custom framing, and thought, "what the heck."
What a fiasco.  Plain and simple.  The sales clerk was about as rude as you can get, and the price was completely, ridiculously over-the-top....

I arrived at the custom framing counter, and was completely ignored. I mean literally.  The one clerk was helping an older woman, who was picking through a stack of mats, and literally didn't even look up to acknowledge me, for close to 10 minutes!!  I was in shock.  When I finally cleared my throat, she glanced at me, and went straight back to looking at the mats without so much as even an smile, a handsignal, or a word.  Flustered, I began to look for a manager to help me. 

After I found the manager, she sent another sales clerk back, a young man, who was helpful, but rather timid.  We again reached the counter, and the other clerk and the customer had taken up the entire counter with their "spread," so I could not so much as even lay the painting down.  The young man looked at her (I'll call her "Nasty" from this point on, since she was not wearing a nameplate) and Nasty threw me a baleful look, and then grudgingly moved some of the items out of the way so I could place the painting on a small portion of the counter. Now, mind you, the painting is only 12" x 16". 

I was now in the store for over 30 minutes, and fatigued from the whole situation.  I knew exactly what I wanted, so very rapidly, in under 10 minutes, we had the entire frame order figured out.  Now, we are just staring at each other.  "So, now what?" I asked the young man.  He glanced over at Nasty and the computer, as she was STILL going through mats with the indecisive customer, and said, "Can I use the computer?"  Nasty looked at me, and said, "Sorry.  I am working with a customer, and you can't write the order.  'She' (making a motion at me) will have to come back another time."  I couldn't believe my ears.  Now I was boiling.

I remained steady, and said, "What on earth do you mean by telling me I have to 'come back another time,' I did not know you needed an appointment in this store, and I live 40 minutes away.   I simply would like to write this order, and I can't understand why you would not allow a sale to go through, when your customer is no where even ready to place her order!!  What kind of bad business is this?"  Nasty looked at me and sniffed,"we can't interrupt another order to write an order."  So, patiently, I said, "When do you expect to be finished with your current order, since I have been waiting here over 40 minutes now, and no offense to you Madame (I acknowledged the other customer, who was now looking sulkily down her nose at me), but if you don't know what you want, I would think that etiquette would dictate your graciousness in allowing my sales clerk to utilize the computer so I can check out."  The woman customer looked at Nasty, and also ignored me as if I was not there. 

Again, with great patience, I asked Nasty, "Do you have any idea how much longer you will need then?  I do have another engagement for dinner, and I would like to be done here in the next 10 minutes or so."  Nasty looked at me square in the eye and said, "That will not be possible.  I need at least 20 minutes to write Mrs."so and so's" order.  You will need to come back another time since the store is closing in a 45 minutes."

I put the painting back into plastic, and said to the young, flustered man, "I'm sorry, but you just lost your sale.  I will not be back."  He looked at me sadly, and Nasty looked up and smirked! 

As I was walking out, I found the general manager, and explained the whole fiasco.  I also told him as a professional artist, I was giving his store a "test run" and if things went well, I would literally be bringing him a ton of business...so not only did he lose this sale, but he lost the whole "kit and kaboodle" due to the very rude young woman he had working back there. The manager snapped to attention at this, and convinced me to go with him back to the counter, and he "would straighten out the matter."

We got back there, and the manager demanded to know what was going on.  Nasty and her customer were still sitting there, and Nasty began straightening up her area, and put on a straight face, and said, "I'm sorry 'Ed', but I don't know what the fuss is about.  I am checking Mrs. 'so and so' out now, so you can have the computer."  Then Nasty looked at me quite innocently and said, "May I help you?"

Now, as enraging as the whole incident was, I really did not want to waste my time transporting the painting back home (since pastel is so delicate).  I decided to go ahead with the order, which came out to at least double of what my other place used to charge.  The only difference was the museum glare free glass, but paying an additional $100 dollars for glare free glass is, in my opinion, completely overpriced, but glare free is not an option when dealing with exhibitions and photography, etc. so I had no other choice but to pay it.

Bottom line for me:  I will NEVER use A.C. Moore in Whitehall, Pennsylvania, again for any framing.  If you are going force customers to wait an hour for an order, at least have a personable and knowledgeable sales staff.  A.C. Moore sales staff told me they don't offer appointments, and it is on a "first come first serve basis," and they also only have ONE computer in the whole store to write up custom frame orders, so they certainly need to fix their custom framing service.  Expect rude service, slow and frustating orders, and God only knows what condition my painting and frame will come back in in the slow turnover time (over two weeks for the framing process).  Definitely look for a Mom and Pop place, or some other big box service, if you are looking for a satisfactory and worry free sales process.

So, that is my rude business story for the day!  Just thought I'd give my fellow artists and friends a head's up!!



Friday, April 29, 2011

New pastel painting

"Tough call" by Hilary J. England, pastel on hardwood panel, 11" x 14"
I have started a series of pastel paintings, and this is the first of them...I haven't worked in pastel in a while, and I just had a yen to return to it.  It's just such a primitive, free flowing medium for me...very different from oil painting, almost frenetic rather than meditative...a way to purge my excess energy.

This painting was done of Maddie, sitting in the grass, looking a little deep in thought, trying to figure out her "dollies."  I just thought all of the texture, and the amusing way she was sitting, was an irresistible capture for a painting.  I did some rapid sketches, and then put them together into one final drawing...I really tried to concentrate on the design aspect of the piece, rather than it being a "portrait."

I have another three pastel paintings I am working on simultaneously, so that makes for a sort of controlled chaos.  I have been somewhat preoccupied with design, texture, color, and a sort of "cloissone" element, so this is the thought train I'm riding right now.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New directions


"Early moonrise" by Hilary J England, oil on canvas, 8" x 10"
I have begun a few pastel paintings, and am organizing for a solo show.  I find that putting that together is quite time consuming, but in a good way.  I am looking forward to moving in new directions...

I am sorry if I am somewhat at a loss for words today.  I have not slept yet since yesterday, since I am sadly dealing with a chronically ill child at this point, and it is a very tough thing, to say the least.  I find my mind wandering, yet I can't bring myself to sleep, since it is too foreign to do that during the day.  I'll try again tonight...

I also have work due for other committments, so this is most certainly a hard situation...

In the meantime, here is a little rapid painting I did a little bit ago while trying to relax.  It was an absolutely lovely evening, and Maddy and I had finished feeding the ducks in the small canal, and I felt such an overwhelming urge to paint the beautiful sky and moon...I just called it "Early moonrise."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gray and morose


"Lake and flowers study" by Hilary J England, oil on canvas, 8" x 10"

The gray weather keeps us company again today.  I woke up, and looked out the kitchen door, to see the dense fog lying low along the mountain, seemingly hanging in the treetops, obscuring the view.  The rain has been continuous, with only 2 sunny days out of the last 19.  The creeks are all swollen and raging, and the flowers are busting out everywhere...now, if it will only pause the precipitation for a solid day, I can get out with my gear. 

Yes, I am a wuss when it comes to painting in discomfort.  I've done my days of wet feet, frozen, numb fingers, and the wind blowing my easel and painting face down into the dirt, and quite frankly, my days of this torment are over (at least that's how I feel now--I could always get that masochistic idea rise up again).  I wait for the decent weather, and paint in relative comfort and ease, or I stay indoors in my studio till it gets too hot, then go out during the day and paint, and return to paint in studio at night when it is cool.  Degas had it right...

I have had a few hiccups this week, and how strange it seems that the relatively annoying stuff is the stuff that bothers us the most.  My car broke down in the middle of nowhere, the drain pipe burst downstairs and the plumber needed to come...not only do these unexpected annoyances bother me the most, they bother my pocket book the most...plumbers and mechanics and towtrucks are not cheap, for sure!!  My mother always said I was in the wrong business...perhaps I should have been a plumber!

Thankfully, these things are fixed, my wallet is drained, but all is quiet for now.  The kids have headed off into their own directions for school, and I should've had school myself today, but there is a hiccup there as well in my program, so I will have to wait a week to resume class.  That frustrates me a little (years ago that would have driven me wild) but I have learned to understand the old Serenity prayer, and this is not a circumstance I can change, only accept with patience and understand it's not anyone's fault, it's just the nature of the beast...

So, with that being said, I head out to my studio, and make lemonade from lemons--I have more time to paint!!  I hope you like the little study I did early last summer when I was hiking about by the Poconos and Beltzville Lake. The sunlight was brilliant, as were the pretty flowers, and I can see the sun if I look into my mind's eye, and that's good enough for right now!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April showers



"Wildflowers in china vase" study, oil on canvas, 8" x 10" by Hilary J. England
 The rain has been a constant companion these last few weeks, punctuated by a sunny reprieve here and there.  I know in the South and Midwest, the storms have been terrible, but thankfully we have not had that happen here.  One clap of thunder, and the rest of the storm sputtered away...

I have several phone conferences lined up back to back, school work, errands to run (with no car till this afternoon), and I am generally feeling a bit peckish.  Hopefully, a walk to clear the mind, a cup of coffee, and I will have the strength and patience to get through this morning gracefully ;-)

I am working on the conceptions to my two newest paintings--one will be larger than I have worked in years, so I am excited to tackle that.  With very large paintings comes unique problems to strategize around, including the storage of them afterward, but I think I can handle that now, with the vast amount of storage space I have between the barn and the enormous, empty, dry attic I have.  Working large will help me to diversify a bit (for a solo show), as well as doing some work in different mediums.

So, I plod onward today...I posted a bright, cheery little painting of a quick study of some wildflowers in a china vase...hope it will chase the gray out of your day♥

Friday, April 15, 2011

New painting

"La familia/Lazy Spring Saturday" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 24" x 30" x 2"





   
This is my newest painting.  It's called: "La Familia/Lazy Spring Saturday".  I have been moving away from the closely cropped compositions I was working with, and also with the very closely bound group of models I was working with, which centered on a smaller group of young women, and have been moving outward to include the family life and their interactions.

This was a tough week.  My fifteen year daughter has been very ill for the last several weeks, and the Doctor suspected it to be Hodgkin's lymphoma.  The tentative diagnosis scared me stupid, literally.  We waited for three days to get the results of the vast amount of tests and xrays, etc., and during that time, I died in inches.  The tests came back yesterday, cancer free!!  I can't stop thanking God for that mercy.  But, there is always the but...she does have a rather serious thyroid deficiency that they can't pinpoint as to the cause, possible Hashimoto disease, or some other autoimmune syndrome, and her x-rays revealed that the deficiency was so serious, she has suffered a fracture in her right hip...so, we now have to see some specialists this week and get some more tests and an MRI, and go from there...

So, we be thankful for our blessings, and we move on...on to wellness, on to acceptance, on to contentment in all things.♥♥

Thursday, April 7, 2011

School Daze


"Odd pot and flowers on purple" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 10"
University days have started.  I have hit my math course running. I forgot how much I enjoyed alegebra--I know, what a geek!!  It was always such an interesting math to me...there is an elegance in the formulations I absolutely love, there is a rhythm and beauty in the solutions...I have been working on my course early in the morning, before I start anything else, so the equations dance through my head until I drive them away with coffee!!

I have had strange dreams about the sea last night...I guess it's time to head there.  I dream of gray, stormy waters and magnificent thunderclouds, the sea in all it's angry majesty.  I miss the spray of water against my skin...the briny smells and the feel of cold, wet sand against my bare feet.  I must have been a seal in another life...a seal that was eaten by a Great White ;-)

I've had some aggravating circumstances crop up in the last week, and I have been working to get them hammered out.  Sad to say, these things don't surprise me anymore...greedy people, dishonest dealings.  In a way I blame myself, since I was warned, and I went against the warning, and decided to give this organization a "chance" and they did exactly what I was warned they would do.  That sucks...one bad apple spoils the bunch, as the saying goes.  They have made me very cautious for how I deal with similar organizations in the future....so, if nothing else, lesson learned.

Other than that, I am still waiting for Spring to show it's bonny face...in the meantime, I leave you with a study I did of an old copperish pot on a purple sheet, with some strange little flowers I saved from a bouquet.  I say copperish because it had a copper finish that was wearing off, and that made for some strange reflections....enjoy♥♥

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Busy and then some...


"Morning glories in glass study" oil on canvas, Hilary J England
I start back at the University to complete my teaching degree on an advanced cyber/traditional route next week, and I am really anticipating the experience.  I decided on completing the teaching degree, since it leaves me the most options for my possible future plans, which is to eventually live overseas.  This gives me the option of teaching if I choose to...and I feel you should always have a plan that leaves you the most options. 

I've paced my course of studies as to not be too overwhelming, so it's 24 credits for the year.  I could up that if I want, but for now, this feels like the best fit.  I'm a person who likes to feel the pool first, and ease my way in.  My days of cannonballing right in over my head are over...I've learned a bit since then, lol.

Lots of birthdays coming up this weekend/week, and all of the parties to boot.  April is a busy month in my house, but as soon as Nunni's birthday passes next week, I can breathe a sigh of relief, the birthdays for the household are finished!  It's kind of like a second Christmas, with all the presents I have to buy all within a couple of week stretch.

I have been designated to make the fancy cakes for two of the babies...a Spongebob cake, and a Princess cake.  While I do look forward to making them, since I love doing fun stuff like that...the concepts for these cakes have mushroomed, and now, laughingly, I am considering how we will transport these cake sculptures!  I will have to either go back to the "drawing board" or we'll have to get an engineer involved for the transport!

The weather is nice today, and I am considering a hike into the mountains for a quick plein air session.  I guess when I take Chorkie out, I will decide if the weather is really good enough for it today.

I leave you with the tiny, rapid, monochrome study above I did last summer....enjoy!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Intervals...


"For Jodi" by Hilary J. England, 12" x 16" oil on canvas

The above artwork is a commission I finished painting yesterday...a mother/daughter painting.  This was done by several reference photos, sketches, and one sitting.  It took about 3 and half hours to complete, as we were on a time crunch due to the nature of the commission (it was for a big occasion).

I watched the new remake of "Mildred Pierce" last night on HBO, at least the first parts of it.  I know it received rave reviews, and of course my intention while watching it was to compare it to the Joan Crawford version, and in my opinion, it did not have the same simplicity and charm, overall.  At least to this point...I mean, it is, after all, a miniseries (not to knock them).

First, I think the most troublesome situation/theme I saw arise in this version, and I don't recall this quite as obviously in the first movie is Mildred herself.  She is an extremely complex character, a walking contradiction.  She has all of these noble ideals, yet she desperately throws herself into the sack with literally any man, on the first opportunity she gets.  She actually vomits at the idea of taking a job as a "waitress in a hash house" because she feels it's beneath her, yet she has absolutely no revulsion at jumping into bed with some partner of her soon to be ex-husband's just for the slight off-chance he may "keep" her.  So, in Mildred's book, prostitution is good and noble, but waitressing is vile.  Not a good message here.  This irked me, as it makes her a somewhat unsympathetic character initially.

With that being said, I did feel there was some very good acting on Kate Winslet's part.  She is somewhat clunky and clumsy looking sometimes, but that makes her a "real person" and I appreciate that about her.  The scenes in which she is looking for a job as a single mother, and having no money to buy groceries, and all of the pain, shame, fear and loneliness that accompanies that predicament, were poignant and believable.  She also showed her vulnerability and disorientation as to raising two children alone.  The scene in which she asks her husband for a divorce was also a touching and honest scene...the pain of finality of the end of their relationship hits her...even though the separation is bitter, the loss of hope for their relationship, the reality that it's truly the end, confronts her.  It was well acted.  

Of course, the scene with the loss of her child was hard to watch, such an unimaginable horror to any parent, especially with the guilt of being "missing in action" due to an illicit, guilty pleasure, when the child was taken ill.  That being said, I will definitely tune into watch the other parts, not only because I already watched the first ones, but because I do anticipate seeing the rest of it.

Well, it's snowing again here...big, fat snowflakes.  It must be an April Fool's joke!!  Haha!  Now stop.  I have another two commissions I am working on, plus two paintings of "my own" so I am busy...my back is still a bit troublesome, but I press on through it.  I'm thinking of buying a new mattress...any suggestions?  A Tempurpedic maybe...

So, that's the scoop for today. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Exciting News!


"Misbehaved" by Hilary J England, 18" x 20" oil on canvas
I am very honored over being chosen as an Artslant Showcase Winner for for Round #2 in their 2011 Competition.  When I opened their email notice, I felt like Charlie Bucket opening the Willy Wonka candy bar and seeing that instant flash of gold, and then came the rush...awesome!!!!

I know they will be publishing the winners on their http://www.artslant.com/ website in the next couple of days, so I will keep my eyes open for that...but I am just really happy right now to have been chosen, and I will enjoy that today♥

I am working on several paintings right now, including one commission, so I am pretty busy.  The weather seems to be holding steady...hovering right above freezing, so my studio is quite frigid, but getting a little fire cooking helps, as does my heater.  Spring seems to have stalled here...

Art Expo NYC was an amazing event, and we had a wonderful time that day.  Me, Ant, Dad, Jilly and Trevor had a lovely lunch in Jilly and Trevor's new pad on the West Side, and then we went to the Expo.  It was very large, and there was all kinds of art there, something for everyone, as my Dad genially pointed out. 

We had to leave rather hastily, however, due to a phone call informing us that our poor bull dog Mac, who has been ailing this week, was having seizures, so off we went to bring him to Emergency.  He continues to be in guarded condition, and we hope the medications do work for him.

My back has almost completely healed, but I am dealing with one strange side-effect that cropped up last week and seems to be steadily worsening...tinnitus.  I began to do a little research, and indeed, NSAIDS, muscle relaxants and, more specifically, the Vicodin medicines, can have this side-effect.  Ototoxicity is rare, but I did read many cases of people getting ringing in the ears after taking these medicines, although no one could state whether it was permanent or not.  I certainly hope NOT.  I try to ignore this ringing and whistling (it seems mostly in my left ear thankfully not both), but when I think about it, it makes me feel like going stark raving mad! 

So, even though I was only taking one pain tablet and one muscle relaxer at night, as per Dr's orders, I have discontinued all medicines this week, in hopes that the detoxification of any residual medication will alleviate this extremely annoying condition. 

Well, time to get out to the studio.  I leave you with one of the winning entries of the Showcase, and wish you a happy day as well.


End of Summer

"Mountain sunset" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 11" End of Summer, and it's going out with lots of heat!...