Sunday, December 18, 2016

Snowy creek

"Study of the snowy creek" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 16" x 20"


I have been busy working away these last few weeks since returning from the North.  I did get a lot done, and am wrapping up this term and look forward to the break (I am working on my Master's too).  I am also putting together a new Arts project for 2017, and it's going to be a big one, so there needs to be a good deal of research and coordination and thought and planning...but I'll talk more about that after New Year.

The winter weather is always enjoyable to me.  I know other people hate it, but I love the peace and quiet and purity of winter and snow.  There is something heavenly and ethereal about a fresh snowfall, and I will always love the bright, blinding paleness of the winter landscape.

Of course, I do aim to keep warm, but going outside and getting rosy cheeked and cold always makes lolling on the couch watching Christmas classics all the more delicious, with less guilt!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

First snow

"First snow" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 12" x 16"
So, we had our first snow, and it stayed with us briefly, enough to make everything peaceful and white like a winter wonderland.  I love the snow.  I know many people in the Northeast complain endlessly about it, but the only time it because problematic for me is when I have to drive in it, and even that can be avoided usually.

I am looking forward to more work in the beautiful weather.  Of course, when it gets too snowy, then I will continue to work inside.  But for now, the snow is just a nice primer for Christmas and New Year :-)

~Enjoy!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

North forest in near Winter

"North forest in near Winter" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

I have been so busy lately, I kind of fell off on photographing my stuff.  To be honest, I just had a case of the "f-its".  With all that was really going on, and just returning from the North on Thanksgiving, I was kind of jet-lagged and not feeling anything really.  Just kind of blah.

So, I did very much enjoy the peace of the Arctic, and looking out into the moonlit night at the reindeer silently crossing the tundra, and the mystical desolation that was not desolate at all really.  I am glad I could see that.  Every trip to a new place is a gift, and I don't take that for granted.

~Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wrap it up

I didn't really post much this trip because most of the time I was in areas that had no internet, and when I did have it, I was pretty busy or pretty exhausted.  I squeezed a lot in during this trip in a short amount of time.

When reaching Narvik, it was so beautiful, as the train pulled into the station.  The last couple of hundred of kilometers was breathtaking, with large snowy mountains and deep fjords with the deepest steel blue water I ever did behold.  The young German mountaineer in the dining car was holding court and he informed us that this mountain range is actually part of the Appalachians in the USA.  Whether this is true or not, I have no idea, but it sounded interesting enough.

After offloading my things, I wandered around Narvik for a bit.  It is an interesting "city" but more like a fishing village that has now grown and modernized over the years.  Locals told me that Nazi Germany had a naval station there, and other interesting tidbits of information.

I had the one night to view the lights, and I was anxious for that.  The local people told me it may be possible that night, since it was supposed to become clear at midnight.  The lights usually were best viewed between 2 and 4 a.m., so I knew I would be in for a long night.

I stayed up like a sentinel on watch on the roof of the resort, waiting and waiting.  Nothing.  Around 2 a.m.  I saw what looked like a faint green glow in the sky, and I began to wonder if my eyes were playing tricks on me, because I wanted to see these Northern Lights, and they were a no show.  This glow of green kept pulsating and disappearing for the next 45 minutes.  Then, at around 3 a.m., the green lights grew and expanded, with a long green line forming in the center of the sky.  It pulsated and wriggled like a holographic snake, and then long, yellow pulsations and hints of orange and red came forward all at once.  It was beautiful and so exciting I was overwhelmed:  The lights had arrived!!  I sat and watched them for a minute or so, completely enrapt, and forgetting all else.  I felt such a strong connection to the universe at that moment, it brought tears to my eyes.  And, I totally forgot about my camera.  I snapped to it, and grabbed up my camera, and just as quickly as they had appeared, they were gone.  I had missed my opportunity to photograph them.  I sat there and laughed at the irony.

So, the crazy person on the roof, waiting for the lights to arrive like a acolyte waiting for a UFO, had missed the money shot.  I began to laugh and laugh, but I didn't care.  *I* had seen them, and nothing else was really important -- whether or not I photographed them was really not the point of the journey.  It was to personally witness them, and I had.  Mission accomplished.


The mountains of Norway

So, I was elated but tired.  I headed to bed and slept for about 4 hours, and then had to vacate and head back to the train station to go back to Stockholm.  I checked onto the train, and was shown back to a sleeping car, and I immediately fell asleep for hours.  The rhythmic rocking of the trsin put my to sleep like a baby, and I woke up and it was, of course, dark.  I headed to the restaurant cart, got myself a light meal and some dessert, and then headed back to my compartment, and just lay in the bed listening to the roar of the wind, and watched the snow swirling by at light speed.  The whistle of the train was the most soulful sound, calling across the long, empty stretches of snow covered land, out to the reindeer, out to the unknown denizens of that dark land, and every now and then there was the eerie yet comforting sound of ghost-like voices.  It sounded as if there were children laughing out in the darkness, and yet, that was a sweet sound and not something scary.  It was strange yet not in a bad way.  I listened a while, and then fell back to sleep.

I woke up and had arrived in Stockholm. The country side of Sweden is also very beautiful, somehow reminding me of home when I saw the pine trees that lined the farmlands.  I hopped off at Central Station, and immediately went and stowed my luggage and headed out.  I walked along the streets of old Stockholm or "Galma", and was very intrigued. It was very quaint and filled with people, and you feel the "Christmas" in the air.  It is "Black Week" in Sweden and Norway-- their equivalent to "Black Friday".

There was a choir of singers on the steps of one of the beautiful cathedrals, and they were singing very heavenly Christmas hymns, and I listened to them for a few songs, and then went to find a coffee and sweets shoppe.  This is not hard, since cafe and sweets are a Swedish specialty!  I tucked into a delightful little nook of a shop, and had a latte and a chocolate cake.  It was like a chocolate mousse with coconut shavings on it, and it was very good.  After sitting there a while and warming up, I moved on, going through the whole quarter in a loop, and trying to see as much as I could in the few hours I had there.  By around 2 pm, I had complete my tour, and headed back to the Central station to pick up my luggage, and head to my hostel.

The train ride from Stockholm to my hostel was almost an hour (I had made sure I took one close to the airport), and it was a really nice ride through the city and out into the suburbs of Stockholm.  I reached my destination, and stood there for a moment, confused.  Why had I been dropped off in front of an old Jumbo jet?  I looked across the street and saw the Radisson, and other chain hotels, and looked around again.  Great.  Where the hell was this place.  I stood there, disgruntled, for a moment, until I saw a young blonde guy with a backpack walke by.  He walked slowly up the path to the Jumbo jet, and then up the steps that led to the door.  It dawned on me suddenly, "Is THAT the hostel?"  I just started laughing.  "you've got to be kidding me!".

I walked up the path, and yes, sure enough, it was the hostel.  It was a converted Jumbo jet, called, duh, "Jumbo".  I knew I needed some coffee!  I stood at the bottom of the jet, and there was a cargo lift up.  I rode the lift, and came to the reception desk, that said, "shoes off please" and "Welcome".  The young lady at the desk was wearing a flight attendants' uniform.  She smiled warmly, and processed my reservation.  She then showed me to my "cabin".  I was delighted.  It was a most comfortable little room, with a very comfortable queen sized bed, overhead luggage bin, additional sleep space or storage above, a flat screen tv, and other little comforts, including a sweet smelling goosed-down quilt.  I was very impressed.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Aurora


So, it's been an interesting journey so far.  The central station in Stockholm is beautiful all decorated for Christmas.  The train ride from Stockholm to Narvik was long but what a ride...the wind howling outside in the vast stretches of tundra, the caribou in the snow, the beautiful little villages nestled into the snowy enclaves like something from a Christmas movie.  Just amazing.

It was tough initially.  I was overexhausted, and my plane had arrived late.  This caused considerable stress as I had to make it to city center and board within a half an hour, and that did not seem possible.  I shelled out the extra $35.00 for the high speed rail, and made it nearly to the minute.

After boarding, I was shown to a sleeper coach, with four other women in it.  I am usually shy of strangers, so this was another somewhat stressful thing, as I was assigned to a top bunk.  I considered sleeping out in the regular seating, so I would have easier access to a water closet rather than climbing over four other people, but the women departed suddenly after midnight to one of those barren, Arctic stops, and I was left on my own in blissful peace.

The next morning, we chugged along at top speed, winding our way from Sweden to the Norwegian border.  Some friendly German tourists, as well as couple from India, gave out advice as to where it was best to see the lights, but that would not divert me from our prescribed course.  The idea of being stranded on one of those lonely, frozen stations was terrifying.

So, we arrived in the town of Narvik in the early afternoon, and had several hours of sunlight.  The temperature was 6 degrees C above freezing, but reports said, "feels like -6".  It really didn't feel that bitterly cold, so we were able to walk around the city a little bit, but we didn't make it too far.  It wasn't the cold or wind, but the fact that the entire city was a sheet of ice!  Apparently, they had freezing rain before the train arrived, and the walking conditions were treacherous.  The idea of busting my ass in Narvik was not pleasant, and drove us into a Chinese restaurant, where we were able to enjoy a warm meal of Norwegian Chinese food, which is not altogether different from Chinese anywhere else.  A bowl of egg drop soup, that was somehow modified to include some chicken and corn in it (I know, sounds strange but was oddly good) and a steaming cup of green tea, and then back to the hotel to do a little catching up.

This area, actually all of Norway, is hideously expensive, and to make matters worse, there is a 25% tax on everything.  So, I will NOT be enjoying much of the food or anything else here, because I refuse to pay $75 for a small meal that doesn't even include some kind of alcoholic beverage, since I am a tea drinker.  Hell no.  It's just the principle of it.

So, that's it for now.  Waiting to see if Aurora shows up soon :-)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Kiwi


        
"Kiwi" by Hilary J. England, 
3" x 3" x 2" oil on canvas, 2016

Well, another fruit painting to add to my series.  I was a bit amped up today, because tonight I leave for the North Pole, so this helped to keep me focused and centered!  I am looking forward to the next week of Northern lights and the Polar Express, and then coming home and enjoying Thanksgiving!  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Marker

"The marker" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 2016
It's been a long few weeks, packed with excellent things, and the not-so-good, and the downright sad. All of this whirlwind of activity has left me a bit disoriented, as if I was rolled by a wave on the beach.  I am trying to get back to some semblance of normalcy again, now that the babies have all arrived, memorial plans are established, and my own health has been stabilized (hurt my bad knee) and I can just take a moment to breath. 

I was able to get outdoors for a little while and just settle and think.  I saw this scene, on the outskirts of the local memorial park, and it was peaceful and reflective and appropriate given that it was Veteran's day, and all that has ensued in the last few days with the Presidential election, etc.

It just felt good to be back to plein air working.  I have been pretty tied up with inside work, including working away on my Master's degree coursework, so things are pretty busy, and a moment to reflect is always lovely.

~Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Blueberries


"Blueberries" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 3" x 3" x 2", 2016
I decided to go out and do some plein air painting since today happens to be Election Day, and to be honest, I just don't want to think any more about this election -- whatever happens after I vote is out of my hands, so why get all worked up about it? It is beyond my control. 

So, I went to go drive to a nice spot and just do some painting in this gorgeous weather and lo and behold, I realized all of my gear is in my Subaru, which also happens to be out by my Dad, getting the brakes done.  So, rather than getting irritated, I decided to make lemonade from the lemons situation, and add to my still life collection of individual fruit paintings.

I found what's left of some decent blueberries on the bush (they were beginning to shrivel, but some were still nice) and decided that would be my next fruit.  I was able to get this one done pretty quickly, about an hour or so, and I still feel better than I would have if I had hung around all day like a wraith watching the Election debacle unfold on one of the those terrible news outlets.  So, it was a win-win all around for me.

~Enjoy!

Friday, November 4, 2016

A quiet moment

"A quiet moment" by Hilary J. England
18" x 24" oil on canvas, 2016

I finished this as a gift to someone very special to me, and these little people are very special too!. This photo needs to be adjusted, because there is a lot missing due to glare and well, just because it was taken on an iPad in crappy lighting.  I will rephoto it with my professional camera in the next few days.  It will be fun to compare the "before" and "after" photos.

I like doing off-beat "portraiture" because I find traditional portraiture absolutely boring...but that's just me, and not meaning to impugn anyone that adores it.  I just find it done over and over and over, and kind of sappy sweet or paintings that don't hold my attention.  They could be technically accurate, but for some reason, again, I find them boring.  I like trying to catch things a little more impromptu, like a moment in time that you can think about and smile and say, "Yes, I remember that day!" or "I remember when the kids were doing that!" or some such sentiment. 

I hope the gift is enjoyed :-) <3

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Strawberry


"Strawberry" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 2" x 2" x 1.75", 2016



I have been lazy these last few days, and I'm not sure why.  My eyes and back have been bothering me, so that could be part of it. Aging is not for the weak or faint of heart, for sure! I decided to just add on to my still life series of single fruits suspended in black space.  It seemed a good place to start and simple enough so that not to tax my aching back and blurred eyes too much. Plus, this was a nice model -- tender and juicy after the session hahaha.

~Enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Blood orange


                       "Blood orange" by Hilary J. England,  oil on canvas, 4" X 4" 

I think you can see where I am going with this. This will be a series of 7 pieces of fruit, with the center being the watermelon. The configuration is to hang the smaller cubes around the larger one. 

More tomorrow 😊👍

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Watermelon slice




                                        "Watermelon slice" by Hilary J. England
                                               Oil on hardwood, 6" X 6" 2016

I decided to do a series of small paintings of fruit and veggies that can stand alone or be hung together. I had a few people ask me to do something like this, so I figured, "what the heck!". Besides, the heat outside today made it unappealing to paint outdoors, so this seemed a better alternative for today's work.

I will do another three different fruit, maybe more. Stay tuned 😊😊

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bumble bee on the sunflower

"Bumble bee on sunflower" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 2016

I have been very busy with several projects.  I have *3* books in production at the same time, so that is really a lot to juggle, and I pick up on my MS Comm (that's Master's of Science in Communication and New Media for those who are not familiar with the lingo) in a couple of weeks (first week of October), plus working on a larger painting commission that has me ripping my hair out, lol, so it's been hectic.  I did take the day to go out and plein air paint in the gorgeous end of summer weather, which I sorely miss.  I didn't go far (the edge of my own property) and just enjoyed the sun, and this awesome bumble bee on my last remaining sunflower. 

This summer slipped away from me in a whirlwind of work, heat, and contemplation, but I have much to be grateful for.  I plan on stepping it up even more after New Year's, with a couple of residencies I am considering, and some other cool projects with my gallery, and between the projects I have going now, well, it's a lot.  But, I like a lot! "A lot" always works for me -- don't want moss growing around my feet!.

So, back to school for everyone, including me, and that's a challenge I always enjoy.  When it's said and done who knows -- maybe a Ph.D just because.  We'll see.  My son is in the U for Physics, looking to be an Astrophysicist, so maybe we'll race to see who becomes a "doctor" first!! :-D :-D  Again, lots to be grateful for, and lots to do. No time for leisure books right now, but I have been forcing myself to read before bed just to decompress.  Newest book: Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely .   It's a wonderful book we are going to use in our Tuesday night women's bible study.  I thought I would get a jumpstart on things before we officially begin our group, and it's a very good book.  Personally, I don't have time right now to feel "left out" or "lonely," but I can identify with the "less than" part, because sometimes, no matter how much you do, you never feel adequate, or that you are good enough, so this book is a comfort and a guide to help for those moments you feel tired and inadequate. So, I'm glad I've been taking the time to "nourish my soul" right before bedtime.


Well, time to jet! Enjoy the weather, and the little painting~



 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Wrapping up Summer

Yet untitled, oil on canvas, 18" x 24 x 2" by Hilary J. England

I have been very busy working away as the end of summer approaches.  There were certain things I decided to do, just for my peace of mind.  One was to greatly reduce my time online, particularly on social media.  I began to realize I was spending more and more time in the virtual world, and it was having a very detrimental effect on me -- across the board.  My attention span was greatly reducing, and I could not remember the last time I had actually sat down and dived into a book! Trade articles, magazines, anything quick, quick, quick, but not actually sat down with a cup of tea and an hour's free time, and just relaxed and read a book.  Very sad indeed.

So, I began reading a new book, "The Things We Wish Were True" and I have to say, it is a very interesting book.  The title is really what caught me since I had been feeling very kind of out-of-joint lately, and I couldn't put my finger on the reason why.  I just knew further trimming and pruning in my life was necessary, and social media was a drain that was not giving back much if anything for the time it consumed.

And, presto, I do feel much better these days! I have several projects in the works, including my memoir, "The Last Track" which is being published in March 2017 through the Upper Hand Press, and also an e-Book on the way (I'll publish all the information as that gets closer to the publication date in the next month or so).  I also have two portraits I've been working on, of course, my ongoing obsession with landscapes and outside projects as well, some big, and some little but time-consuming.  So, my plate is most definitely full!!

Our group show, "What Dreams May Come" at my representing gallery, Studio 26 NYC just passed, some I am gearing up for our next upcoming shows, and I am looking forward to the coming change of scenery with Autumn.  Things are moving along as always, and I have to say, I feel the weeds have cleared out after trimming more unnecessary time drains.  I would definitely recommend a quarterly overhaul of your schedule book -- it does the body and soul just as much good as a day at the spa haha!!

The painting I am currently working on is 18" x 24" -- My goal was I was very interested in the dramatic lighting that enveloped these children.  I'd say I'm about halfway done.  I had a wasp chase me out of my studio today, besides my A/C kicking out and it being 120 degrees in there.  Yes, that was more than enough to call it a day...

Stay cool peeps :-)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Poppies and periwinkles

"Poppies and periwinkles" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 11" 2016

More plein air of the gorgeous poppies and wildflowers in this one little field I have found.  It is very calming to paint them, even when all else seems to be swirling around me...all the ugliness of the world melts away when I see a beautiful and serene landscape such as this.  It makes me feel closer to the Master Artist.  He certainly has the most perfect eye!

My eyes aren't always all that anymore, and today, the light was extremely erratic.  Rather than chase it, and have a complete disaster, I went with the strange half in/half out sunlight that was plaguing the day, and just concentrated on the sumptuous colors of the field. 

I know these cheery flowers certainly lifted my spirits just at the sight of them, and I hope that translated to the canvas.

~Enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Poppies and wildflowers

"Poppies and wildflowers in the field" by Hilary J. England, 8" X 10" oil on canvas, 2016

It was a beautiful day for painting outdoors. No humidity, and a slight breeze. I attempted to video this session, but I need a bigger memory card. The memory ran out about halfway through 😖.

I have been so busy lately, and the time just seems to get away from me sometimes, but today, time seemed to stand still, and there was great calm and peace while I painted this. That was very refreshing and somewhat unexpected, since the day started a bit on the hectic side. No matter -- all that matters is what serenity was found while painting this beautiful little scene.

~Enjoy!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bodyscape of redhead


"Bodyscape of redhead" by Hilary J. England, Goauche on watercolor board, 30" X 40"

This took two sessions. I decided to stir the pot and work in water medium (Goauche), something I rarely do. I must say, it was pretty agitating for me, since my usual approach of laying down paint in oils certainly did not work in water medium...I had to take everything I am used to, and flip it on its head. Water medium is a little too dainty for me, and even as such, I still brutalized that paint and and got a certain amount of enjoyment out of it at that. In the end, I am not unpleased with the results. Not over the moon, but not displeased either. Guardedly optimistic, and I feel this painting does work and was a success, despite my awkwardness with the materials, including an Arches board that started warping almost immediately, much to my frustration. I was able to pin it down and will protect and compress the painting before mounting and framing, which should easily solve that issue.

So, I will do a second painting to match this one, also in Goauche. I will not do that painting until I get the model lined up for two sessions....maybe the same one, maybe a different one. Still planning....

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Study of male nude torso in mixed media


"Study of male nude torso in mixed media" by Hilary J. England,
 Goauche and Conte on paper, 14" X 18"

I always like to try and mix thing up and use materials I don't use to often, so when I came across a box of gouaches tucked away in my studio, and decided to try and use them for a quick figure study.  I was really rusty with using the gouache, because it is a unique medium on it's own -- with the utility somewhere smack in the middle between watercolor and acrylics.  Just an interesting medium to use.

So, I did this hour figure study of a very lean and tanned young man, and I'm glad I tried something a little out of the box for myself.  Keeps things from getting too routine :-)

~Enjoy!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Hillside wildflowers


 
"Hillside wildflowers" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" X 10"

It was a hot one today, really hot. The sun was bright and somewhat punishing, only because there was a slight haze to the day. The Blue mountain was extra blue, and the wildflowers were so lush and beautiful, like a majestic carpet of color.

I love being able to be out and about, in the quiet solitude of the heat, that no one else wants to brave. It is always nice to be close to a water source, but the creek was behind me a while, so I had no recourse but to sweat and sizzle, and drink in the scenery.

-Enjoy.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Study of young male nude


"Study of young male nude musculature" by Hilary J. England
Brown Conte on paper, 14" x 18"

 
Today is Independence Day -- the Fourth of July.  Usually, people get drunk and blow up the neighborhood (and sometimes themselves) at family barbeques, but I decided on a more reflective path today -- to think of the beauty of everything, and thank God for His blessings, including being able to paint outdoors.  This was not what I painted outdoors -- this was actually from a few days ago, but I didn't post it because I was a little lazy over the last two days.

I enjoyed doing these figure studies, because I always enjoy the strange angles these models can contort into just to find something new and interesting for us to explore.  This model was no exception, and he was in his early 20s, and very youthful and athletic and lean.  That always makes for a nice drawing.

I watched the Stanley Kubrick marathon last night, and I have the music from "Barry Lyndon" stuck in my head, and now with the rain that's about to begin, I feel sleepy and relaxed.  I look out at my garden, and see the robins playing in the grass, and the butterflies flitting from one sweet pea flower to another, to the cucumbers and the squash, and I feel like drifting off to dreamland...and so, maybe I will!

~Enjoy :-)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Study of male back/torso

.

"Study of male torso/back in 3/4 rotation" by Hilary J. England, brown Conte on paper, 8" X 14"

Here is today's work. I was finally able to hook in with a male model, and do a few solid studies. This is the first one -- it took about an hour. I was in a slightly odd position of seeing him in a rotation, so although it was a challenge, it made for an interesting study.

I stuck with working strictly in brown Conte, with no other implementation of white or other color.  Simple and straightforward for this one 😊. Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Swan on the lake at sunset



               "Swan on the pond at sunset" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" X 10"

I was at the lake the other night, and it was so nearly sweltering.  The gnats were attacking me, I wrenched my neck and shoulder out carrying my gear, and I dropped (yet again -- this seems routine haha) my painting face down in the dirt.  That really enraged me this time, and I was about to hurl the painting into the lake, but I didn't want to get arrested for littering ;-), so I sat down and took some deep breaths, and just sat there for a long time.  

The sun started to set, at nearly 9 pm, as I working and cleaning and transforming the little painting (which is against my own rules, but rules are made to be broken).  The Canadian goose, which was in complete silhouette, I made into a a swan, because again, it's my world, and at that moment, I preferred a swan to go along with my Debussy's "Clair de lune".  So, in the end, hurt neck, gnat bites and all, and then the giant thunderstorm that chased me away -- it all was still amusing, and my own world triumphed because I was able to make an enchanted world from the beauty that really was there, however fleeting it was. Like life....just make the best of it 😊 !! 

Enjoy ❤️

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Study of female nude in India ink and Pastel



"Study of female nude in India ink and Pastels" by Hilary J. England, 14" X 18" mixed media on paper

Here's a figure study I did today, and decided to mix it up a little since I was rummaging through all of my stuff in my studio, and then started thinking about how it's been a long time since I did any mixed media work or studies, so I had some fun with the mixed media.

I have been doing a lot of figure work lately because not only is it vital for me to continue working with figure models just to keep overall skills honed -- it gives me a little different, edgier mindset than when I do landscapes.  Landscapes are my mental escape, where I build a little world for myself and occupy it.  Figure work is different -- it's like the landscape is someone else's body, and all of the interesting shades and textures are the grass and leaves and sky, but ultimately, they bring a different energy to that "landscape" that can never be fully mine, so the exploration is much different.

I have been working on my ongoing still life series, but now I have shows coming up, and have a new series that I will begin to pick up where I left off a few years ago -- my figurative, social realist study of "Rural American Youth" -- a continuation, this time second generation.  That fills me with wonder and excitement at this new little group of children and their emergence and growth -- like little flowers in the sun -- so much beauty and promise and hope.  God is good and life is beautiful, even through all of it's ups and downs.

~Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Study of young female nude


"Study of young female nude" pencil on hot pressed paper, 14" X 18" by Hilary J. England

Here is an hour long study I did in pencil, of a new model.  The pose was interesting, and I always like new poses to "shake things" up a bit.  I usually don't work in pencil, but I also like using mediums I don't usually use to keep things fresh.

~Enjoy

Friday, June 17, 2016

Peking duck in the lilypond


"Peking duck in the lilypond" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" X 10" 2016

I started out in high spirits with this painting, but as the day wore on, I just felt worse and worse.  Lately, I've been running out of steam by around 2 pm, and I think I've hitting the gym a bit too hard early in the morning, because I feel like death between 1 and 3 pm, and that's not cool.  Those are prime working hours, and I shouldn't feel like I'm ready to turn in for the night by that time.

I really enjoy being down at the canals, and there is such an abundance of beauty to choose from.  It makes me feel peaceful and serene in a world gone insane, to know there is always the natural beauty of God's creation to meditate on, and to calm the tumult of daily living, even when there is nothing directly agitating going on.  Sometimes, the world just catches up to you, and those quiet moments of refreshment -- looking at a single, contented duck floating in a still lilypond -- are just what you need to lift your soul and give you strength to move on through this life.

Either that, or finding a hammock and a good beach!  But, that's for another day :-)

~Enjoy.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Study of African-American female nude


Study of African-American female nude, by Hilary J. England, conte on Ingres paper, 11" X 14

Here is today's study.  The model was a young African-American female, and she had a very strong and muscular body -- just magnificent.  She struck this pose, with her arms overhead holding on to a stabilizer bar, and the muscles and silhouette was just breathtaking.  I was only able to draw her for about an hour, as even as fit as she is, the was a very taxing pose for her.

But, it was certainly long enough for me to capture her essence.  I focused on the very rhythm of her body, and the amazing and rich shadow line.

II was able to do about an hour of 2 minute rapid gestures with another model, so when it came time for the long pose with this model, I was in the flow.  Good work day....good day altogether!  One plein air painting, and one drawing found new homes today, so that always energizes me to know other people are appreciating my work as well.

Enjoy!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

San Francisco

"San Francisco" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 16" X 20" X 2", 2016

This is painting no. 7 in my "Travelogue" series.  Each of the items has a particular reason behind it was used for the painting.  I start with choosing these items, and then finding a way to arrange them so that there is rhythm, harmony, movement, and some visual paths to draw the eye around the picture plane, and keep an interesting liveliness to the painting.

I set the items up on the floor (yes, the floor) and I have an elevated cushioned seat that allows me to look down on the arrangement while painting.

I always start by blocking in the the largest elements so that I don't lose the original design idea, and then I build the painting through a series of glazes and scumbling.  This takes time to allow the paint to dry and not muddy any of the colors by trying to rush the process.  I don't work in any sort of impasto until I am near the end of the process, and then, it is only accents to bring some of the elements forward in the picture plane.

I usually stop when the painting looks a little "raw," as I don't like anything overdone, especially not a painting.  Two things are awful when they are overdone: paintings, and steaks.  Just can't abide by overcooked and over processed.

So, that's the long and short of it, the very condensed process of how I paint a still life painting :-).

~Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Study of female nude from behind


"Study of female nude from behind" pencil and white chalk on beige Ingres paper, 12" X 16"


This study was difficult.  This young woman had quite a "bootie" to put it mildly, and the projection on it was incredible.  I had to try to capture that, as it was almost unreal, and yet the contortion of her torso and spine, in combination with the "apple bottom" mad this a most frustrating study to capture. I had to try to keep it real without being "pin up" or "cartoony" along the lines of Jessica Rabbit.  I think I struck the balance and I am ok with it.  I would like to attempt her again, maybe in Conte this time.  Graphite and pencil, especially the softer ones, is very delicate, and smears easily, but it does have more range in it's own way.  

This is why diligence is needed in drawing the human form. It keeps you on your proverbial toes, because poses and studies that you think should be "easy" sometimes turn out to be the most difficult, as this one did.  I enjoyed drawing her nonetheless.

~Enjoy.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Study of female nude in shadow


"Study of female nude in shadow" by Hilary J. England
11" X 14" conte on Ingres paper

I did this study today, it took a little over an hour.  I am just getting back into the swing of regular figure drawing again, and it has been very satisfying. I look forward to regular figure drawing now that I found this group online, and I can access literally whenever.

Of course, I won't forget my L-O-V-E of plein air painting.  This is just a bonus for me :-)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Study of female nude



30 minute study of female nude, Conte on Ingres paper, 11" X 14", by Hilary J. England


I found an artist's group that actually does figure drawing online. Go figure!  Now, the model comes to you, for free, wherever you want!! It's a novel concept, and although I prefer working from a live model, this was interesting, and is at least something I can do when I can't make it to a group session down in Bethlehem.

I was able to jump into this session for the last 1/2 of a 3 hour session.  I love that they have sessions this long, and that you can photo the pose to continue afterwards.  It's been very hard to find a group outside of going to Manhattan that will have those long, single pose sessions.  I'm looking forward to be able to do some more involved figure drawing with this group.  It will be interesting to see how it goes with translating it from seeing the pose on my TV, rather than in person.  I mean, I have a 60 inch TV, so when she poses, it's about the same ratio as when a live model poses in front of me, distance wise.

Again, interesting!!!

Enjoy :-)




Friday, June 3, 2016

Purple pansy by the tree

"Purple pansy by the tree" by Hilary J. England
Oil on canvas, 8" X 10", 2016

I've been working a lot lately, but I have been feeling a bit down.  I have had some personal situations that are very stressing, and that affects me deeply.  I have someone very close to me who is desperately ill, perhaps in the end stages of life, and it drains me inch by inch watching this process.  I want so much to help, and to make it stop, to make it better, make it go away, and I can't.  I want so much to protect them from this, to keep them with me, and I see the disconnect beginning...when they begin to ever so slightly disconnect from this earth, and you can feel it, in your soul.  It's a hard perception to explain, but to anyone who has ever been around a terminally ill person, someone they were very close to, and went through this process, you will understand what I am saying.  I don't know how many days or months we have, I just know the process has begun, and my heart quivers in my chest at the idea of what is to come.

Many days I feel like I'm in a holding pattern -- so grateful for the love we have now, but not knowing what's ahead.  It's the oddest feeling, like being in limbo, and you still must go about your life, but it's like sleepwalking...you go through the motions, but your mind is switched off.  It's always somewhere else, no matter how conscious or focused you are on the task at hand.

I have been looking for peaceful little scenes that speak to my heart, and yet, are still challenging to recreate.  I did this one in town, again, while I was out wandering around after hitting the gym.  I was hungry, so I sat down to eat my almonds, and I noticed these little flowers.  I went back to them later on in the day, and the light and shadow was more dramatic, and that made me happy to work there.

I feel more connected to the Old Masters when I work outside these days.  I think of their joy at the beauty they were able to view and capture, and also all the pain of life on this earth, and how they assimilated the good and the bad into their work, to make something beautiful from the ashes.  I admire that persistence in the face of adversity, and it gives me pause to think about my own work.  If the sadness was too large, would I stop working?  What then?  Where would it manifest itself?  I'd probably end up a drunk face down in the gutter.  No, this is the healthier way to move through these painful events.

Enjoy~

Friday, May 27, 2016

Flowers in shade


"Flowers in shade" by Hilary J. England
Oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 2016

It was a scorcher today.  I wasn't prepared for it, even being forewarned by the Weather Channel, but somehow, going from losing tomatoes last week due to frost -- to 95 degrees, just seemed ludicrous.  And it is!  So, I went lumbering and sweating around town, like a bulldog in the heat, until I came upon this scene.

I found a wonderful little spot of shade, and the diversity of flowers and greens, warm and cool, was very captivating to me.  I sat there drinking it in, thinking back to my childhood, and I could hear the laughter and wonder within, and still picture that when I left, the sprites would come out of hiding and be about their business again.  It was enchanting.  And I probably baked my brain earlier in the sun hahahahaha.

This painting took a little time, because I wanted to make sure the balance of cool and warm greens was not lost in the translation.  There was a quiet energy to this place, even though the breeze only stirred the new leaves here and there, I felt the vibrancy of it as I painted.  It was just a wonderful little scene to capture.

~Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Jailbirds

"The Jailbirds" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 16", 2016

Continued my path around town today, and found this interesting little scene.  It was really very difficult to paint on the spot.  The light was tremendously bright today which made seeing extremely hard from the full and intense direct sunlight.  Hat didn't help, and sunglasses would have just made things incredibly funky.  I guess I should have embarked earlier, or later, rather than at noontime.

I really enjoyed the flowers bulging against the rusty old chain link fence.  I felt kind of like I was looking at beautiful creatures in a cage, like they had gone to prison, and were straining to be let go and released.

I always enjoy finding little scenes of quiet drama.  They seem to be nothing on the surface, but just below, there is always a mighty story!

~Enjoy!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

New vines

"New vines" by Hilary J. England
8" x 16" oil on canvas

It's been a pretty productive week, although I have been feeling a bit tired since I've been working out extra hard, and once you hit middle age, well, recovery just isn't what it used to be.  But, extra sleep helps.

I have been working around town, and my particular focus is all the interesting little mundane things that people seem to miss in their mad rush of living life.  Spring is such a lovely time to notice these little things, like the blooming of new flowers, and the renewal of everything.  I notice these new vines shooting off an old tree, creeping up onto the lattice of an old basement, and it was very eye-catching to me.  Yes, the beauty of these things always catches my eye, and I think of the grand design and what an artist God is.  Truly incredible to me.

~Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Spring flowers on the old wall

"Spring flowers on the old wall" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 2016

Walking around town, I always find little interesting things to paint when I go out of the way, into areas that are somewhat quiet and left to themselves.

This was such an interesting wall, with all it's little flowers and crisscrossed vines, I couldn't help but do a fast oil painting of it.  The whole scene with the colors and textures, was very satisfying and soothing.  It's nice to be outdoors again, and it feels good if not a little strange after so many days inside because of the rain and rain and rain....

I did drop my palette straight down into the dirt once.  That's just to remind me who my Daddy is lolololol.  Never mess with nature, even on the calmest of days!

~Enjoy

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Clouds and water


"Clouds and water" by Hilary J. England, 8" x 16" oil on canvas, 2016

So, this constant rain and entrapment has gotten me depressed.  I usually like the rain, but after a very stressful month, and so much to do outside, being caged up for days on end finally got the better of me, and I have been feeling down and out.

I decided to just do a little, limited palette study based on some photos I had from India, of Lake Vembanad, and try to think of happier things.  It was monsoon, and there was constant rain initially, but then, it cleared away, and you could literally see it moving off into the distance.  I hope this current cloud cover that has become stuck over our area decides to move on out of here too.  I could use a few days of sunshine.  It's either always sunny, or days and days of rain...can't we have a nice happy medium??

So, that's my gripe about the weather.  I'll go stick that gripe into the garbage pail along with others ones that have zero ways of being changed hahaha.  And no, I'm not traveling away to avoid some rainy days...those adventures will come later.

:-) enjoy~

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Brown eggs and lime

"Brown eggs and half a lime" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 2016


The rain...more and more comes, so, I decided to hang inside today and just do some still life studies.  The brown eggs and half a lime looked interesting, especially in the lower light, so I decided they would be most interesting to paint.

I have some really cool things coming on the horizon, so I'm kind of laying low while I mull things over and try and work everything into it's place in terms of scheduling and stuff.  Some exciting travels, and some exciting projects, so I'm pretty, well, excited!

I guess for now, I will leave you with this little study and if you like brown eggs and lime (separate, or, maybe together!). here is a little painting for you.

Enjoy~

Friday, April 29, 2016

Soft rain

"Soft rain, low mountain" by Hilary J. England, 8" x 11" oil on canvas, 2016
I'm still working with themes that are serene.  The wet, foggy mountain in Spring, wildflowers all in bloom, the misty engulfing the young pines like a mother wrapping her arms softly around their new, tender branches.  I love the change of seasons, even if it means having soggy feet.

The drizzle, and then the rain.  My sneakers didn't hold up well, but then, I should of worn my hiking boots.  They are made for the damp earth and muddy puddles, and slippery rocks and all the wonderful things that signal the warmer weather.  But, today was chilly and damp, but I could still smell the scent of life in the air.  There is no mistaking that delicious smell, even if its accompanied by a sneeze or two.

Enjoy~

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The bridge to unknown pastures




"The bridge to unknown pastures" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 16" 2016

My musings and ruminations on death and the journey there, and then beyond, continue.  This is another painting I did today, although it's photographed a bit on the dark side (literally and not metaphorically --it's probably just a slight shade lighter when viewing in person as my Canon took the day off and I had to photo with the iPad), it is actually a bit more serene then the other two.  I mean my frame of mind was when painting it anyway.  For now! For today, but that's cool, because that's all that matters or counts.

I mused about how many "journeys within the journey" we actually take, as people come and go from our lives, some make a little impact, others you will walk with for all of eternity, and the "micro-journeys" we complete help shape us as surely as a chisel in a sculptor's hand.  Some of us walk a very traditional path, and the road always seems to be clear and level for these folks.  I used to grumble that they were lucky, but now, not so much any more.  I'd be the person crashing along the bank, coming up on the bridge head on rather than neatly along the road.  I've accepted that as well, and count myself as lucky that I see things maybe a little different than others.  Some may say that's "psycho" but I disagree.  I don't usually hear voices in my head (not mean ones that tell me to rampage anyway lol) or any other symptoms of disturbia, so I think it's all good.  I have a tendency to think and think and think, and sometimes that's not a pleasant thing, but at other times it allows me to really steep myself into the multiple nuances and complexities of a situation, and see the beauty of it, when others don't.  That has been the one biggest gift of my life...being able to roll with things, even very ugly or scary situations, and still find beauty and purpose in it.

I'm been gifted with the ability to move through things and still not feel "victimized".  Shit happens, to be blunt, and it doesn't always have to be someone's fault, or some cosmic conspiracy against me.  Sometimes I will feel self- pity like any other person, but in the end, I can usually see through it, and just let the whole situation go.  Give it to God, and just keep on walking.  He always fixes things up way better than I could have anyway, so why obsess?

So, there it is for today.  Enjoy!!

 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Visible shore

"Visible shore" by Hilary J. England, 2016, oil on canvas, 11" x 14"

Here's another little par coeur  painting I did regarding my thoughts on mortality, loss, and grappling to make sense of the passage of time and people.

I thought of what C.S. Lewis alluded to with the examination of death and the different metaphors he used, and what Tolkien had beautifully written about death being a distant shore.  I don't know if it was Tolkien that used a simple story to explain death and transition as a boat leaving port -- that when the ship leaves port, the people on the pier lose sight of the ship and feel sad watching it go and after it passes the horizon line and our field of vision, it seems to be gone altogether, yet  the people on the distant shore begin to see the appearance and arrival of that ship, and rejoice.  The passing through the veil.  The veil between life and death, the veil of tears.

As we get older and see the speeding up of these processes in relation to each year that passes, in some instances, we can see that shore starts to grow more visible.  You can turn your head away, and pretend you don't see what you truly see, but I think it's better to make peace with the truth, and to not fight what is on the horizon.

Making peace with things we absolutely resist is one of the greatest challenges of life, but it is part of the essential experience we must grow through as humans.  And, like all humans, I continue to struggle with certain things, and I think it will not grow easier with time, just more acceptable.

At least that's my hope.

"The journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain curtain of this world rolls back and all turns to silver glass. And then you see it. White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise."  Tolkien

~Enjoy.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Recovery

"Ominous" by Hilary J. England, 11" x 14" oil on canvas, 2016

It's been a long and horrible month.  I'm going to get very personal here since this is a very personal painting.  I suppose I could just let you all "wonder" at the story behind it, or where it originated from.  Did I go scope out some strange little child alone and naked on a lakeshore, and start painting her?. LOL, no.  This painting is just my personal "story" of the situation I am dealing with. My Dad nearly died after a bout of pneumonia this month, and the toll of that episode wiped me out more than I realized or anticipated.  I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't relax or concentrate, and the days just slipped by with me not realizing anything at all, just feeling like crap, and there being zero I could do to correct it, or move through it. Dad's still fighting to recover, and for that I am grateful, but the anguish of watching his suffering had really left me in a deep depression.

I painted this little painting today, to try and move through this funk I'm in.  I realized that Dad's illness stripped away everything in my life, to when I was a little child, and I was terrified of the unknown. I remember standing on the age of a lake, looking at the water, feeling anxious and afraid, not knowing what was in there and if it would swallow me up.

So, here was my psychological therapy for the day.  I don't usually do paintings "from my head", but this one was different, because I really needed to try and work out all of the struggles I was dealing with, and this helped me.  Didn't "fix" everything, but it helped.

~Enjoy.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Redwoods




"Redwoods" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 24" X 36", 2016

I finished this landscape for myself.  I needed something new and relaxing to look at while I'm laying in bed in the throes of insomnia.  :-D

I have a bunch of other paintings I'm working on, but I feel so off-track this last week or so.  I don't know what's up, as I am not sick or anything, but I guess it's just one of those things.  I'll find my direction next week or so, I'm sure.  

Enjoy~

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Life's a garden

"Dusk in the flower garden" by Hilary J. England
11" x 14", oil on canvas, 2016

I can't believe a whole month got away from me.  I have been working on various projects, including a book, and I had two different commissions, so this work has kept me very busy.

This week was a sad week.  News of death arrived, and that always hurts and is a wake-up call of sorts: Life is hard, but life is beautiful.  Along with the death of my friend, and there was also the death of a young man -- the son of an acquaintance from long ago -- very very sad.  These type of inexplicable events always give me pause to stop, and reflect.  Yes, life is hard, but life is beautiful.

So, I began to paint from some old photos I put together.  I really wanted to cheer myself up and just paint something that would warm my heart up again, and for me, that is always children.  And gardens.  Because after all, life is a garden, and children are life, so I painted this little painting, outside in the beautiful warm air, just lost in my own thoughts. Life and truth and beauty.

And -- I also reflected that with the sad news came sweet news also.  News of babies being born, and others to come -- quite a few of them are on the way with Spring and Summer -- and that made me smile.  Who doesn't smile when life renews itself?

So, I look forward to the Spring with renewed vigor and a positive joy for things to come!

~Enjoy

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Riviera

"The Riviera/Breezy Mediterranean afternoon" by Hilary J. England, 2016
Oil on canvas, 16" x 20" x 2"

This is number six painting in my "Travelogue" series.  I have been slow to post, mostly because I'm slow to photograph.

This was such a beautiful time, the month I spent in the French Riviera.  How can you not love warm, blinding summer days on the Mediterranean, just floating in the aqua sea, and leisurely afternoons enjoying the sights of Nice, Cannes, Monaco, and then heading into Italy?.

The time was one of reflection for me also, as I kept mostly to myself, only socializing here and there, but it was well worth it. 

Old Stone cottage and wildflowers

 "Old stone cottage and wildflowers" by Hilary J. England, oil on canvas, 8" x 11" Lest you think I have moved to some r...