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, 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, 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 bad apple spoils the bunch, as the saying goes.  They have made me very cautious for how I deal with similar organizations in the, if nothing else, lesson learned.

Other than that, I am still waiting for Spring to show it's bonny 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


"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 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. 

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 ...