Saturday, July 11, 2020

Stormy Times

“Stormy day in the fields - Tennessee” oil on wooden panel, 18” x 18” by Hilary J. England

I painted an original study when I was in Tennessee a few weeks back.  It had been a strange and sad trip, born out of depression and desperation to escape the lockdown here in PA.  I had heard the restrictions were less down South — plus I had another reason to go down there — a love interest.  He and I were trying to make heads or tails of all the complications we were navigating over the last several months.  The little seedling of feelings that had been planted were now smothered with additional hurdles of pandemic pandemonium and our own fears and hang ups.  

The painting was born of all of that.  I had wandered in the fields, hot and sweaty and alone, chasing the years of my life.  What had brought me to this point? Time was no longer on my side, it seemed — the universe had caught us all.  I felt the long invisible arms of it reach in and break my heart, crush my soul — there is a lot of symbolism of this in my painting, even if you cannot see it — it’s there.  I sat in the field and cried, the heat the gnats sticking to my face.  For the first time in a very long time I felt defeated — that life had become pointless, why do we do the things we do? In the end — it’s all for nothing, it seemed.  But then, a small ray of sunlight, ever so faint, it was a glimmer — shone through the clouds of gray.  It warmed my heart, and just that little sunlight buoyed me up — we go on, until we are called away — off this planet.  It’s just what we do — in good times or in bad, we still go forward.  For some reason, that brought me comfort — and I felt at peace.  

Now, that little piece of peace was immediately snatched away as I was walking back to the car with all my gear and dropped the painting face down into the dirt — obliterating it.  I was really angry now — it was if the dark forces of the universe had spit in my eye at that moment.  I got back to my apartment and brooded about this, but refused to throw the painting away.

A week later, I left the South, earlier than planned, realizing we cannot run away from our problems, or avoid them.  Everything had sorted itself and I went back home with renewed gratitude for my own life in the North, but still the ruined painting bothered me — the symbolism of it.  So I decided not only was I going to resurrect it — I was going to recreate it — even bigger and better than it had been before! And so, I did.  

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Carry on- Beginning Life in Lockdown

“Study of dramatic back lighting” oil on wooden panel, 16” x 16”

Strange Times

Beginning Life in Pandemic Lockdown

Life in the lockdown is largely as it was for me before -- wake up, do some work, work out, studio time/plein air time, family time, meals...rinse, repeat.  But, there is a certain odd feeling about everything now -- a feeling of heaviness and uncertainty hangs above everything -- as if you are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I walked out to the market the other day -- it was right after the lockdown began.  There was such a strange energy in the air -- a sense of foreboding and panic.  The streets were empty.  Here and there, a person hurried by -- head down, fearful.  It felt surreal -- as if I would hear nuclear warning sirens go off in the distance.  The feeling was not a pleasant one.

Just two nights before -- we had celebrated the "end of the world as we know it" at our local restaurant.  That afternoon, my son came over and said, "Do you see what's going on?" To be honest, I hadn't been paying much attention.  My sister had called me from Philadelphia, fuming, saying, "The crazy people have bought up all the milk, bread, and toilet paper!" I was seriously confused.  I said, "Are we going to have a snowstorm?" She laughed and said, "No! It's over the virus!"  What? What virus? That's about how much I was paying attention to that! But now, as he and I sat watching the developing events on the news, with alarm -- the runs on toilet paper and food, the hysteria, the States talking about quarantines, my son said to me, "Well, it seems that the world is going to end soon.  Let's go out to dinner and celebrate our life as it is, for one last time-- my treat!" And so we went.

We met up with my one daughter and her family and we all enjoyed a long, bittersweet, somewhat nervous last dinner in our favorite local spot.  We don't know how long *this* will last -- and we didn't know it then either...the restaurant owners are a sweet couple, and they quietly joined their diners in the revelry -- giving away free coffee and desserts to the scattering of patrons who braved the fear of "contamination" to come out and support them one last time.  And then, the next day -- everything closed.

I felt fear clutch at me.  The layoffs and the economic ruin that would ensue.  The panic and the pain of financial devastation -- plus the very real possibility of riots, looting, martial law.  The virus does not scare me.  I've lived through nearly fatal blood poisoning, a motorcycle accident that broke literally every bone in my body, and a host of lesser injuries and diseases through the 50 years I've been here.  I don't worry for my children either -- they are hearty and healthy -- or even for my Dad, who is severely immunocompromised with ongoing Stage IV leukemia.  His motto -- "No one gets out of this world alive.  Let's live!". My only fear is the unknown -- what does our country, and our world, look like after this "episode."

The anxiety of this took my breath away for the day after the lockdown.  I lay on my couch utterly paralyzed, watching old movies, eating sweets (a taboo in our house -- my son is a jiu jitzu pro) and trying to come to grips with everything.  I roused myself from the couch later that afternoon and headed to my studio, dazed, but forced myself to continue working.  And the next day.  And the next day.

And now...

Now that a week has passed, I feel cautiously "normal" again.  I will remain in my routine of continuing my work, and adjusting to this new normal.  I don't like the feeling of everything shut down, and our lives so limited, to be sure -- but I'm hoping this all ends sooner rather than later.  In the in-between, I can really focus on the projects so many other distractions of our previous life had carried me away from, and on my family and friends -- so every cloud does have a silver lining.

As a reality, this pandemic has made me even more determined to tap into myself and create romantic and serene works of art -- beauty, peace, and serenity -- I need that -- we need that -- more than ever now! So, that is my newly inspired vigor, my eternal Muse.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Studio work


I have been concentrating on polishing my skills -- it's a yearly endeavor -- going back to basics -- like sharpening a knife. You can never hone your skills too much -- learning and refining are a never-ending, ongoing process.  It's like weight lifting and exercise -- if you stop, you get flabby.  That's how skills are with artists too.  

So, I've gone back to the beginning, and have no problems with doing so.  Monochrome value oil studies, and copies of the Master's -- like Waterhouse's "Lady of Shallot".  These types of exercises help to clean the vision and reinforce value, shapes, design.  I will continue at these for the next few weeks, as I have some bigger projects I will begin, and I want to be sure my skills are top-notch-- I want to be in the "best shape" possible!


Stay tuned for new things to come! You can also check out my website "Happenings" page too for even more information about events and my upcoming travels--plus check out new prints for sale!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Stone Cottage and Butterflies

Spring is coming! In the Northeast USA, it’s an exciting time to leave winter and see the flowers begin to break through the ground.

So, in light of that happy occasions, here is a little video story — regarding my oil painting, “The Stone Cottage and Butterflies”. I love all things beautiful and “magical” and mysterious— and the abandoned old stone cottage on the very edge of town was no exception. When the wildflowers arrive, the butterflies and bees flit about, in their own magical universe. It’s such a delightful and meditative place to just unburden your soul...I had to capture it! ❤️🖼

🌸 🦋 If you love a moment of tranquility, you can order your own custom art print at:

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sea Bird and Branches

"The sea bird and branches" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 11"
The beginning of this year just seemed to fly by with a blur of trips and visits here and there -- Philadelphia, DC, New York ... this is both good and bad.  It's good because it's always nice to stay involved in things and visit with friends and family, but it's bad because it breaks my creative stride.  I need isolation and continuity when I am on a singularly creative path, and the last few weeks have been frustrating in that respect.

So, I decided to have some quiet time and revisit the happy places in my mind...the beach.  I thought back through the many beaches I have been to through the course of my life...I searched through old drawings, color studies, pictures, and notes.  I fixed upon this one thought -- I remembered a beautiful and fluffy looking egret sort of bird, sitting in the branches of some dead vegetation in the beautiful Caribbean sea when I was there years ago.  It was a quiet day, it wasn't hot, nor was it cold, but there was a very good breeze blowing, yet, this bird seemed very content and oblivious to all but the sun shining on its beak.  As you can dig by now -- I admire birds.  This one was no exception!

That's when I decided to tap into that nostalgic memory and paint this little painting.  It's funny how our experiences never leave us -- ever.  They can get filed away in the recesses of our mind, but one day, whether expressly called upon, or springing up unbidden -- they come back to color our lives.


P.S. -- the original oil is not for sale.  I decided last year that I will only be selling select oil paintings and keeping the originals for the time being.  But -- you can purchase a gorgeous museum-quality print through my website -- you get to choose the size, paper, framing, etc. and even see it on your own wall prior to purchase through my augmented reality function that allows you to see the finished product in your intended space -- so you know it's perfect!

Just pop on by:

Monday, January 13, 2020

Happy thoughts!

"Dragonfly in the purple flowers" oil on canvas, 7" x 14"
It's been a busy few days, as the new year seems to start off quickly, like a shot that starts a race.  Nola was born yesterday and in the in-between of it I've tried to take a few moment's breather.  I did a little painting the day before, as I'm starting to put together thoughts for several paintings for my ongoing series.  I began to think about things -- imaginations, and thoughts and emotions that can transcribe into my composition. This process usually requires a "limbering up" -- I like to let my mind roam a little freer than usual, and do some brainstorming -- I also do whatever I feel like, in terms of paintings and drawings.  This gets the "juices" flowing -- like a warm-up before a workout. 

I started thinking of spring and summer -- and the beautiful wildflowers that line the banks of the river that's just behind my house.  I would sit out on the retention wall that sits about 12 feet above the banks, and just watch the glorious kingdom of flowers and insects -- the bees, the butterflies, the many species of dragonflies.  I would sit, sometimes for an hour or so, and just watch them.  This little universe fascinated me, and I look forward to it this year as well.

Here is a little oil painting I did of that reminiscence -- just because I was musing and enjoying the memories of it.  When I work, I like to pull on memories of many things, and this memory was a happy, calming one -- a memory of contentment and happiness in a seemingly simple view.


Thursday, January 2, 2020

New Year 2020!

Hello friends! I’m back! 😁 I hope you all had a very nice holiday and are looking forward to this new year with 2020 vision! 😉

I am hitting the ground running, and here is a collective online exhibition, entitled “Winter” through the Envision Gallery that I have two small oil artworks in.

✅Check it out! ❤️❤️❤️

Pop on by and check it out! There is some very nice art from a variety of other artist skillfully depicting their visions of winter as well! 

Stormy Times

“Stormy day in the fields - Tennessee” oil on wooden panel, 18” x 18” by Hilary J. England I painted an original study when I was in Tenness...