Sunshine and Ribbons - a large house portrait play-by-play

Over this past winter I was looking forward to summertime Farmer's Market season. But when I looked into joining my local Market, I realized a table there would take up every sunny Saturday from May to October. Since Saturdays are my usual day of rest, this didn't sit well. I developed a huge block about signing up, and then doubted myself. I questioned and twirled things around in my head, looking for a solution. Markets get an artist in front of new people, and exposure is extremely helpful for sales. My "block" led to going to speak with some folks, which providentially led to a brief five-minute talk with a father, whose wife said she found me a few weeks later online by googling "Elise Artist Vermont". 

I am very grateful because making happy memories for others is one of the main reasons I paint commissions! I hope this painting brings this family a huge sense of peace and rest, and a reminder of their roots.

Sunshine and Ribbons, 17x29 watercolor painting by Elise, July 2017


Play-by-play photos of how a painting develops is a teaching tool. Many beginning artists don't know how to start a painting, or what to work on next to strengthen their pieces. I hope this pictorial record will be helpful.

The foundation of any piece is a solid, in-scale drawing. I used photographs I took and a photocopy machine to help with this stage, as it saves me literally hours of time. I've done the hours for many years, and now have chosen to save my eyesight for painting the piece.

You will see how I moved two of the girls with their ribbon sticks from the left, to the right side, at the request of my clients.

The sun shadows on two of the girls are probably not very accurate, as I moved them from where they were originally photographed, but I did the best I could to make them look realistic.

The scariest part of this work was putting in the sky. I used French Ultramarine blue, which has a grainy texture to it, mixed with Antwerp blue...the flat wash I envisioned had streaks from my brush, which panicked me...a sky can make or break a painting! What makes or breaks aspects of your life? 

The last photo contains the face of their little dog, peering out a window at the front of the house.

In other news, I have decided exposure to wasp pesticide is not something I desire in my life, so, I will be moving again soon. Move twelve in eight years, coming up...here's to an even more beautiful new location, yet to be discovered. Wish me well!

Your painting-friend,
Elise













Detail of the piece thus far:










Sunshine and Ribbons, 17x29 watercolor painting by Elise, July 2017

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
~ Psalm 133

The High Cost of Feminism – Why Women Need to Lead Differently From Men


I grew up in the 1970's. My mother was a homemaker and we saw her every day after school. She made our meals and she had the time and energy to take us traveling and hiking to many special places. While it wasn't a perfect life, there were definitely issues, we loved each other deeply.

After moving to the mountains of Vermont, we had a small family farm. Life centered around our home. My siblings and I were encouraged to discover as many new interests as possible. We were free to learn, research and build things, to explore and create. It was a simpler life then. We were “land poor” having little money, but lots of time. If we needed her, my mother was there for reference and counsel. I am grateful for those years.


Home Life Today in America – and the Physical, Emotional and Mental Consequences


Back in1990, I remember going door-to-door as a volunteer for a political campaign. There were lots of people who answered the doorbell. People lived in their homes and more moms stayed home.

Almost thirty years have passed and times have changed. Most moms no longer stay at home. Expensive houses sit empty, for hours each day.

Children don't have as many, or any, home-cooked meals. Obesity, diabetes and other degenerative disease rates are sky-rocketing. Fast food and prepared foods are not real food, and it shows.

More importantly, children lack spiritual and emotional nourishment inside their homes. Long-term health depends not just on physical food, but in the joy, peace and communion of meal times with family and friends.


Too many children, on a large scale today, do not build strong emotional attachments to their parents in their youth, through interacting with someone who deeply loves them. Parents often become unavailable to children through their lack of energy to fully focus, distracted by simply too much.

While emotionally neglected children may have “financially successful” parents who do their best to provide, these parents are simply too tired, or preoccupied with their own lives or past traumas, to put themselves into the mind of their child.

This child is then forced to self-regulate their dopamine, by becoming literally addicted to social media and video games on iphones or ipad screens. Or, through abusing sugar, and any number of other substances and stimulants.

Do we want to perpetuate these problems, or change them for the better?


Women Are Not Made to Be the Same as Men


The definition of Feminism is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

1. the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2. organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests

Equality is defined as: the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.

While I believe men and women are most certainly created equal in value, this doesn't mean we are meant to have exactly the same roles in life. Anyone wanting women to face men in hand-to-hand combat is particularly delusional. Women have shot themselves in the foot, screaming for the definition of equality mentioned above.

The fact women were not, by law, able to own their own corporations before the 1960's was an interesting fact to learn. But women have always had the opportunity to have their own home businesses.

While many women may be wildly "successful" in running their own corporations today, they are too often emotionally very unhappy, anxious and physically worn-out.



Women were designed to have a very different hormone make-up from men. While women are encouraged to become “leaders” in the corporate world today, this often puts them under a constant strain to fight for contracts and job bids. This causes real hormonal changes. When under prolonged stress, a woman's normal testosterone level actually rises, making her seem “hard” like a man. Not soft and nurturing, like a woman.

Does acting the same as a man give women more or less value? What is your definition of success? Has the corporate side of law really helped women for the long-term?


You've Come a Long Way, Baby


I remember seeing the famous Virginia Slims cigarette magazine and billboard ad which said, You've Come A Long Way, Baby. It seemed like a big fat lie back then. I knew when I was a little girl that cigarettes were bad for your health.

But this inciting ad slogan had much deeper connotations. It seems more like a truth today, but only if you realize women have come a long way – a long way down.

A woman was once revered and respected by everyone for taking her vitally important role inside the home.

Men have fought and died for centuries, to protect their homes and families. These men had mothers and sisters. Once married, they took their roles as protector and provider of their wives and children very seriously. It was their honor.



The present-day feminist movement would have us believe the majority of women before women's suffrage were beaten, abused, repressed, engulfed in home-life drudgery, having no opportunities to improve themselves, or become educated, etc., etc.

I am an anti-feminist. I can only say this, because I am a woman. If a man opens his mouth against feminism, he's usually slaughtered. Unfortunately, men don't really have equal opportunity to state their opinion in today's culture. It's not socially acceptable.

In saying this, I do not mean I condone the repression or mistreatment of women in any sense. I stand for the equality of value of both men and women. Yet “equality” simply does not mean we were all meant to have the same roles in life.

Most women who call themselves “feminists” have, at some time in their lives, been deeply wounded by a man or men. They are desiring what all women want – protection. This is the role of a man.

I, too, have been wounded in life, by both men and women. I just don't like the labels. Why can't we just work together as men and women? We each have different strengths and weaknesses.



I do not appreciate hearing constant false impressions which basically disparage the strong and wise men and women of our nation's past. Were they stupid back then? Are we so smart, with all of our growing health-care costs and concerns now? 

Our nation once had a majority of strong families, who raised healthy, well-adjusted, un-addicted children with good character. 

Surely, there have always been people, of both genders, who lacked good morals, but as a whole, our family, communities, culture and society was strong.

Women have always had opportunities to lead from their homes - in business, agriculture, health-care, the arts, and fashion. And perhaps even in science. What stops a determined woman who has an interest and a goal? Not much.

Why do we need polarizing labels?



Leading from the Heart and Home


Taking care of children emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically is no light task. It requires a tremendous amount of good character to learn to relate, encourage, coach, counsel, serve, build and comfort children, who manage to arrive with very different personalities, needs and abilities.

Today, we spend huge amounts of tax-payer money to have other people outside the family care for our children, inside and outside schools. Children now have enormous and expensive medical concerns. I believe these problems directly relate to women failing to take their role of personally nurturing, caring for and feeding their own children.

When Titus 2 instructs older women to teach younger women to be a “keeper at home” this was not given as a sentence of doom! It was meant for the long-term benefit and protection of both the woman, and the other members of the household!

The Greek word translated “keeper at home” is οἰκουρός and means one who is a guard or watchkeeper of the house, domestically inclined and a good housekeeper.

There is definitely something at home to guard and care for, and unfortunately, today, on too large a scale, over-tired, employed mothers are struggling to do it. Men, whether they want to acknowledge it or not, mothers are in need of your help.



Yes, I get it, many women long to stay home, but for reasons outside their control, cannot. I clearly understand the cares of single moms, huge tax burdens, the lack of assistance and support from family, and other pressures. I know single moms who work three jobs, trying to pay their bills, while many immigrants are receiving free food, free housing and free cell phones.

The beauty of America's family life continues to be destroyed and degraded by our current culture's clamour for a woman's “independence” and “self-sufficiency”.

Is this what we want for our future?



Interdependence – Working Together


Stephen Covey has pointed out in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, pp. 49-51 that interdependence is actually of higher value and measures an even greater degree of maturity than does independence!

Because, as an artist, I have desired to work primarily from my home, I looked for validation in a culture which really didn't support my desire. As I grew older, I clipped and kept newspaper articles about women who were tired of working in the 9-5 world. These women were wanting to come home, to work from home.



I've met many women who are very, very physically exhausted from working like rats in a cage. Women, who often need more sleep than men, tend to get less sleep today, and subsequently develop serious illnesses after years of prolonged stress. 

When a mother is sick, their family suffers, too.

It seems obtaining an expensive college education, often attached to going into debt, and then the requisite job outside the home are expectations for every woman today. Our society exults in encouraging only independent women who eventually believe they have no need of a man's help.

Yet, while some women may be cut out for the corporate world and do manage under strain, it's just not for everyone!

All women should not choose to work like veritable slaves, under non-caring, money-driven employers. I invite you to join these women. 

Come home, women, come home. Your nation needs you there.

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Who is rocking your cradle?

Thoughts from your painting-friend,
Elise

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. ~ Ephesians 5:20-21



The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Rules the World

 by William Ross Wallace (1819-1881)

Blessings on the hand of women! 
    Angels guard its strength and grace. 
In the palace, cottage, hovel, 
    Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
    Rainbows ever gently curled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
    Is the hand that rules the world. 

Infancy's the tender fountain, 
    power may with beauty flow, 
Mothers first to guide the streamlets,
    From them souls unresting grow —
Grow on for the good or evil,
    Sunshine streamed or evil hurled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
    Is the hand that rules the world. 

Woman, how divine your mission, 
    Here upon our natal sod; 
Keep — oh, keep the young heart open
    Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
    Are from mother-love impearled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
    Is the hand that rules the world. 

Blessings on the hand of women! 
    Fathers, sons, and daughters cry, 
And the sacred song is mingled
    With the worship in the sky —
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
    Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
    Is the hand that rules the world.


New Cards by Elise and Why Gratitude Helps Us

Being thankful for everything and expressing gratitude is one way to improve how you feel about your life. I recently heard advocates of positive psychology explain why gratitude can be so helpful.


Making a daily practice of writing down one or more things you're thankful for in a journal helps not only in the moment but also in the future. 


In re-reading your thankful moments, your brain actually re-wires the good feelings you once had! This means your brain is then wired to focus on and look for the good. 


Your life can then become much more pleasant and enjoyable.


Gratitude doesn't have to be kept in a private journal! It can and should be expressed to God and others! 


Writing thank-you notes to my grandparents was how I personally began communicating on paper. I much preferred writing thank-you notes to doing book reports for school. Yet I still didn't enjoy having my thank-you notes edited and my grammar and punctuation corrected. Often, this meant re-writing the entire letter, slowly and carefully by hand. 


But as I look back, I am now grateful I had a parent who cared my English was correct. 


Writing thank you notes is still an important part of my life today. And, I now have a large collection of notecards on which to do it! =) 


These are twenty-nine of my latest watercolor painting card designs, in addition to those found on my first card blog: http://elisefineart.blogspot.com/2015/12/cards-by-elise.html



Bird Card Collection - also sold separately




 Botanical and Butterfly Cards




Building Cards





Cow Card Collection - also sold separately





Fantasy Cards

Healing the Soul (The Mushroom Fairy) 

Clarity & Hope (Autumn Oak Tree Swing)





Horse Cards




NYC at Work Card Collection




Stuffed Animal Card





The Supervisor at Work Card (Cat and Guitar)





Yellow Foliage Cards




These cards are great for Holidays, Sympathy Cards, Thank You Notes, Anniversaries, Weddings, Birthdays, Celebrations, or just to help you stay in touch with treasured Friends and Family.

With the other 83 cards I now have 112 card designs currently available!

I would be happy to take orders for sets or individual cards. You also may mix and match and tell me which specific cards you would like, and how many.  Please email me for payment details, to send your mail location and for my mail location. Send your card request emails to: elisefineart@gmail.com

Each 4-1/x 5-1/2 card is blank inside, and comes with an envelope.

These cards are affordable, collectible and frame-able miniature images of my fine watercolor artwork.

My current prices are:

$4 for one card. Or, if you buy five cards, the sixth card is FREE. This means you can purchase six cards for $20. Prices drop for larger quantities. Twenty cards are $3 each. Forty cards of the same design are $2 each. Please remember postage is an additional cost.


Love from your painting-friend,

Elise

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. ~ Colossians 3:15


In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ~ I Thessalonians 5:18


Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; ~ Ephesians 5:20




Why I Started A YouTube Channel

There was a good deal of music in our home. My mother used to sing my siblings and I to sleep using old Lutheran hymns. She played records and I remember how we loved Mantovani's orchestra and Peter, Paul and Mary. We were big fans of Jim Croce, too. Those were the days.

My dad was a professionally trained accordionist and percussionist. He donned a long-haired wig to play the drums in rock gigs with different bands.

We grew up listening to him play Begin the Beguine and many, many other tunes on his large accordion. My dad was a fabulous accordionist. He also taught himself to play about five other instruments.

Mr. Nightingale's Moonsong, 5x7 watercolor by Elise, 2017. Private Collection.

I grew up sitting inside of my dad's base drum, while he played on his drum kit. He wouldn't strike the drum when I was inside it. My dad often practised with his drum sticks on our car dashboard. It was a form of relaxation for him, although it didn't do the dashboard any favors...he drummed holes in them!

When I was six, I remember asking my dad for a guitar for Christmas. “Dad, would you buy me a guitar for Christmas?” “You mean a play guitar,” he said. “No, I mean a real guitar,” I replied.

I must have seen someone playing guitar on TV, and thought if you strummed a guitar, the sounds you wanted would just automatically come out. Hahaha. Little did I know, it was slightly more complicated than that!

"You mean a play guitar,” my dad repeated what he'd said the first time. “No,” I insisted, “I want a real guitar.”

So, Christmas arrived. All the presents were opened and no guitar...my dad, grinning, disappeared into the hall and came back bearing a large gift, it had been hidden because of it's revealing shape...I had my real guitar for Christmas!

The Supervisor at Work, 5x7 watercolor over graphite by Elise, 2016. Private Collection.

My mother had also gotten me some real guitar lessons. I took lessons from age six to age nine. I think they may have been weekly, or every other week. I remember learning to play things like “Old MacDonald Had A Farm” and “Big Rock Candy Mountain”...I learned about measures, full and half notes in the treble clef, frets, how to tune the guitar and use a pick.

My teacher told my parents I was the best guitar student he had ever had, of any age! I was a very determined child. I practiced and was prepared for each lesson.

Then, we moved to Vermont when I was nine and I said goodbye to my first guitar teacher. I don't remember his name.

We had a piano then and I began to learn to play it a little. Reading the base clef was more difficult, as I had learned only treble clef for guitar.

Then my dad, who understood chord theory very well, the circle of fifths, augmented and diminished chords, arpeggios and scales of all kinds, gave me a few lessons. I would sit next to him while he played and watch his hands fly over the keys. He taught me about scales and corresponding chords.

It was dad who had us start singing for an audience. He would have us come forward and sing with him while he played the piano at church. “His Sheep Am I” was one of those early songs, when I was around ten years old. After my dad left, we continued to find unique songs to sing for our tiny church audience.

"The Christian Girls have a Special,” our pastor would happily announce. A “Special” meant music that was not necessarily in the regular church service. Sometimes we chose those songs after getting to church. Other times we would practice on our way to church, in the car. My mom would sometimes groan and tell us we sounded terrible, practicing. Then she was usually amazed when our songs would miraculously come together at the last minute for the presentation!

We had very kind, elderly church folks who would smile and nod, enjoying my sister's and I, as we tried to harmonize. We never outgrew the “Christian Girls” title either. Even in our thirties, we were known as “the Christian Girls.”

Healing the Soul, 5x7 watercolor and pen & ink by Elise, 2017. Private Collection.

Being extremely shy, I didn't like being in front of an audience. Only in my thirties would I finally become comfortable in front of people, after years of forcing myself to teach children. Early on, I would drop my head and try to hide behind my music or hymnal. My mother told me I needed to raise my head up, so my voice could be heard. So, then I would lift my music up in front of my face and hide behind it that way.

I don't know why I was so afraid to be seen, but I was. Filming myself now is a challenge, but I'm trusting the message is more important than the fear I have of what people might think.

My younger sister quickly became an excellent sight-reader and highly accomplished pianist after we began taking regular piano lessons. She has a huge musical gift. These lessons lasted two years, with our fun piano teacher, Miriam, coming to our home every two weeks.

I had glasses by then and really struggled to read sheet music. Memorizing music was easy, once I learned it, but sight-reading was very difficult for me. So my younger sister became our accompanist. She could sing alto, emphasize someone else's part, all while playing the piece! She went on to have a twenty-year piano teaching business. We are very proud of her musical accomplishments.

My older sister has a great high voice, and a fabulous talent for writing beautiful lyrics and song poetry.

Each of my sisters are professional musicians today.

I remember standing next to my older sister, singing hymns at church, and thinking her voice was my voice. She could sing tenor an octave high...but hearing anything besides the main melody was extremely difficult for me. I couldn't distinguish words in English songs on the radio, either, until I was around twenty-five years old. All I heard was the melody.

Hearing and seeing in great detail were not my strong points. So, to be painting and singing today is just a little funny. Our Father takes our weaknesses to show Himself strong.

My sisters and me, circa 2000, perhaps.

But back in our teens and twenties, my sisters and I would sing for funerals, weddings, churches and special occasions. This was before cameras could film, before social media...sadly, we don't have much footage of all the songs we sang, just our memories.

I have always had a BIG voice, but it wasn't always on key, and the tone was terrible. I was often reminded by my well-meaning family, “Elise, tone is more important than volume.” I listened to them, but then usually shrugged off this constant constructive criticism, because I didn't really understand what was meant by this comment. And I really didn't care too much, either! I sang to share a message. I also sang to make a joyful noise to the Lord, and the louder noise I made, the better I often felt. Dopamine.

When I was nineteen, we found a new classical guitar teacher. Peter was wonderful. He taught us for two years. We had lessons every two weeks and I practiced HARD, a couple hours every day. I remember telling my mother that I didn't know WHY I wanted to learn to play the classical guitar so badly, when the songs didn't even have words, but I just HAD to do it. She told me it was okay. I put words to some of the classical pieces, to give them more meaning.

After awhile Peter told me I could become a professional classical guitarist. He said I had both the technique and memorization ability. I considered this idea, but didn't want to HAVE to practice five hours a day. I felt this would turn music into work, and ruin the sheer joy playing music always gave me.

So I chose to become a visual artist instead. My music became the place I went for fun, for a brain break when I'd hit the wall, painting.

If I had worked until I could no longer focus, I'd go downstairs and play either the piano or guitar, and when I felt better, I'd return to my painting. Music has been a HUGE help in the work I do as an artist.

Yellow Rose Impression, 5x7 watercolor by Elise, 2017. Private Collection.

There were times when I was very injured. I couldn't play the guitar when my wrists or shoulders were sprained...but eventually those injuries would heal. When my knees and ankles were sprained, I'd play music all the more. The piano and guitar became my friends. I would play when everyone else has gone out, making as much noise as I wanted. There was no one home to complain.

After five years of doing many other things and not playing piano, I went back to this instrument around age twenty-two. I felt strongly there was music inside me and even if I never played as well as my younger sister, I needed to play again.

This time I tried to play without reading music, using what I knew of scales and arpeggios. And eight years after working diligently on this method, I felt I went through a sort of “wall.” I began to gain more unconscious fluidity and sense of my own style. It was special, to feel I had been given a musical gift, after all those years of just tagging along, behind my highly talented sisters.

When I was in my early thirties, I did a gallbladder cleanse. We had been studying the gallbladder and I figured I'd experiment on myself. I was shocked to learn I had gallstones. During this lemon juice and olive oil cleanse, I felt both the eustacian tubes in my ears drain. Who would think the ears are connected to the gallbladder? This was news. But after this cleanse, I was much more able to hear tone and stay on key while singing.

Just recently I learned the gallbladder is connected to stored emotional issues surrounding your dad. Wow, funny thing, I have had a lot of issues in this regard.

When I was thirty-six, in New Zealand, I was staying with a family who was singing in a large choir of 600 people. I joined them, and choir members at practices sitting around me started saying, “you have such a beautiful voice, can I sit next to you?” I was shocked! Me, have a beautiful voice? My family had always said I had a voice that sounded like a cow bellowing!

So, it was a long time before I learned others thought I had a nice-sounding voice. That was nice. But it didn't change the fact that I sang for God, to praise Him. I've never really been interested in singing pop music, or in performing per say. I sing to share a positive message. My desire is to use my voice to praise God “with my whole heart, to be glad and rejoice in Him, and sing praise to His name,” as David said he would do in Psalm 9:1-2.

I remember attending many free local university bands and singing groups, and some symphonies for the Fourth of July, too. But we didn't have a lot of money to attend big concerts.

My sisters and me, aka "The Christian Girls" =)

Our family used to have a large eclectic collection of beautiful musical CDs in styles from around the world. This was before the days of iTunes and downloading music to your iPod or computer. I don't think I've personally purchased more than half a dozen CDs in my lifetime.

Making music was more important and more affordable than going to listen to someone else's music. Same with art. While I really enjoy art museums and my Facebook feed of beautiful artwork today, I grew up creating art, not studying art history.

Clarity and Hope - Revealed by His Spirit, 5x7 watercolor and pen & ink by Elise, 2017. Private Collection.

Today I'm in a bit of a rut. I play my memorized classical pieces. I can play and sing worship songs continuously for around two hours...and these are what I am hoping to record.

I had another head injury last November, hitting the top of my head very hard on a ceiling while moving...after this injury, I had some brain fog and playing became difficult – I felt fuzzy. It came to me that I may not be able to play for ever, and so I am trying to have a memory of the songs I love.

I have sung worship songs to God in private for many, many years. He has seen and heard me. Now I feel it is important to expand the width and breadth of my listening audience, so many others might hear and perhaps be encouraged, too, that the King of Glory might be praised.

This is my new You Tube channel: Elise at Painting Glory

With gratitude for the great gift of musical expression,

I remain your artist-friend,

Elise

I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. ~ Psalm 9:1-2


Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. ~ Psalm 86:6-13



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