Friday, December 30, 2011

The art of asking for help

the offending piece - the flash messed up the colours but you get the picture

If you’ve been following The Bag of Hope story, , with the Amandwe Support Group, you’ll know “Vukusakhe” is Zulu for “stand up and do it for yourself.” An admirable sentiment under any circumstances, but more admirable considering the life these women face on a daily basis. They are proud and will not ask for handouts - they want to help themselves and the orphans in their area. These fine women make good role models - they are humorous, strong and determined. If they don’t know how to do something, they ask to be taught and they learn.
And in this I could take a lesson from them. I have always been a poor student. I too often confidently think “I can do that.” Some times this is rather unwise and turns out a dismal failure. Other times I hit lucky and it all falls in to place. But too often I just am bull-headed and obstinately keep trying to do something that’s not working.
A few days back I started on my new art project of collaboration with the Amandwe Support Group with enthusiasm. I chose the first 2 fabric landscapes and got down to prepping the wooden panels. Then came the time to start painting. Painting 1 started off fine but on day 2, I hit a snag. It just wasn’t working. I scraped, I painted over, I changed colours. All I managed to do was dig myself deeper in to the mire. Painting 2 sat there prepped and ready to go but I ignored it. I was getting myself in to a funk after a few days of this.
Then I set off on my daily walk with my friend and fellow artist, Rosemary of . As we strode around town, I told her about my problem with the first painting and my excitement about my idea for the second one. Rosemary looked at me as if I‘d lost my marbles and said, “Anne, why don‘t you just leave the first painting alone for a while and start on the second. You‘re excited about that one.” Well, hello and duh me. Later at home I started telling Lee the same saga, and before I got to Rosemary‘s pearls of wisdom, he looked at me all long-suffering like and said, “Anne, drop the first one for a while and do the second one. There‘s no order you have to do them in.”
So, why couldn’t I see this simple fact days ago. I’d got myself so focused and obsessed with the first painting, I couldn‘t see the forest for the trees. If I’d asked a few days back for feedback, I’d not have wasted those few days of obfuscation.
So, please feel free to stop by during the next couple of months and see how I’m progressing. I’m all fired up about this project but I obviously need a someone “with clear eyes” to whack me upside the head and say, “What are you doing?“ A good dose of reality on occasion is not a bad thing.
I never make New Year’s resolutions but I think I will try a tad harder to ask for advice on how to do something, instead of just doing it. It might eliminate the all too often “OOPS,” that follows. But, I am calling the project, Vukusakhe” because, well, I do usually just stand up and do it for myself.
Wishing you and yours a peaceful and prosperous 2012 - it’s going to be a grand art year!

FYI : I’m chronicling the progress on my gallery face book page and am starting a page on my website about it…if you’re interested, go to  or

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday jollies

I will not blog this week - I think a simple "Have a wonderful celebration" ... for whatever you celebrate ... suffices, and may we all find peace, health and happiness in 2012.
Thank you for following and reading my blog. I hope you will continue to do so in the New Year and help spread the word.
Peace and love!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The art of simple happiness

Geordie approves of the new fire place

We recently had a gas fire installed in our apartment. It’s in the lounge which is the middle of the 3 rooms. The idea epitomizes cozy during snowy winter days - to sit in front of the fire, a glass of red wine in hand and both cats curled up… sheer bliss. The first day it was snugly fitted in to place, the man said, “Burn it a while to clear the oil off.” It wasn’t a very cold day, so five minutes after I lit the fire, I was boiling hot and then the fire alarm started going off. I ran around banging the damn alarm every time it went off (regularly) and opened all the windows. I felt like I was Nixon - fire on and the air conditioning going at the same time. Eventually peace reigned but the place was a furnace. This fire is hot stuff. We haven’t had to leave it on for long periods before the apartment is toasty. At last we’ve got a touch of colder weather - this morning Lee lit the fire and it warmed the house, but just comfortable, not heat stroke stuff. How happy we were!
Over breakfast Lee - who is puppy dog happy at having 2 full days off - and I talked about what to have for dinner. Pork chop cooked in garlic, orange zest and juice was the decision, green salad and half an avocado. The cats chased shadows and gobbled up their treats - the l-lysine Chaussettes needs to control her feline herpes, Geordie’s brewers yeast for fleas - medicine to anyone else, they just don’t know it.
I drank my coffee and I thought about going to work on my new art project. It is a challenge, an excitement and I keep thinking about it - ways to improve it, change my mind a hundred times about some aspect of it, whoop with joy at the thought of it -  how happy is that?
All this deep thinking so early in the day? But it set me off on a tangent, what is happiness? An artist friend of mine, Bob Hart, did a fabulous series called, “The Missing Letter.” I am delighted to own one of these masterpieces - we traded art.  The series is a fascinating look at mankind. Each painting featured string figures - mostly without arms, an animal or 2 and the alphabet with a letter missing. The idea is most folks keep saying, “If only I had ….., life would be better.” What they don’t realize is if you have your loved ones, your animals, your home and your health, you have everything you need. The lack of arms symbolized how people don’t know how to ask for help. His website is
I have everything I need. I have led an extremely rich life. I don’t have money but I have traveled all my life. I’ve lived through extraordinary times, lived in fascinating countries, made steadfast friends of all nationalities, faiths and colour. I have my loved ones, my animals, home and health - and the cherry on top, I do what I love to earn a living.
And, even if my home is a small 3-room apartment, I now have a fireplace to sit in front of and drink a glass of red wine. Ain’t life grand? The Roman writer, Syrus, said, “No man is happy unless he believes he is.” I guess that can apply to women as well?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Art of Collaboration

Some of the tools I'll be using, oh my, me and a drill?

Collaboration, or working together, dominates my mind these days. I am about to embark on a brand new art project with the Amandwe Support Group in KwaZulu Natal & The Bag of Hope They have done their bit and now it’s all up to me. It’s a pretty scary, and exciting, prospect. And I am so looking forward to immersing myself in this over the next few months.

But this working together towards a common goal got me thinking. I am very big on working with other artists, businesses or anyone really, to further my art/business/town. I think some of it stems from going to all-girls boarding schools at a young age - the first time I was 9, it was not a match made in heaven, so the less said the better. Then at the ripe old age of 11, I went off to another school. This was much better, my older sister was already there and a number of my friends from my small town were also enrolled. I was as happy as can be - made life long friendships and learned strong values and liberal ideas.

We all also learned at a young age that we could achieve success at whatever exciting venture someone dreamed up - good and bad - if we worked as a team. One girl distracts the authority figure and rest sneak off on a daring adventure. We had a high success rate, but naturally, some failures as well. Just like real life. We never lost our individuality, nor the strong influence our parents exerted on us, but boarding school sure shaped my life in more ways than I could have realized at that tender and wonderfully, silly age. And since the launch of face book, I am reconnecting with many of my class mates from school - now strong, independent ladies living all over the world. What a treat!

Americans pride themselves as being highly individual characters and sometimes have trouble seeing the benefits of working as a group - Congress springs to mind as an extreme example. However, we’ll not go there. In this economy, I think it’s pretty obvious - for instance, I can’t afford hundreds of dollars on adverts, but if a group of us get together and each put in a small amount, we can advertise. Or if we can show people outside our area all we have to offer in one place, we become a much more interesting prospect. And so on … I’ve never felt I’m in competition with other artists. We each have our individual, unique style - and everyone has different preferences and tastes - and there’s the obvious conclusion, we’ll all get a slice of the pie. If there are different things to see, different styles of art to buy, concerts to attend, nice places to eat and sleep - more people will come.

So, meet the Art Ramble in Milford - our permanent, self-guided studio tour. Here we’re clustering our art-related businesses, listing events in town and a map to show how everything is in walking distance. Please check out the website and bookmark it! And let me know what you think… feedback’s always good

Meantime, while the Art Ramble is getting built up and we all promote each other with enthusiasm, I am working on my African collaboration art project. Do stop in and see how I’m doing whenever you can. I’m like a pup wagging it’s tail with happiness and excitement. It will take my art and imagination to new levels. I always did love a challenge!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The art of music

What I would give to play music, or even be able to sing would be nice. I open my mouth to yodel a few notes and kids run screaming to their mothers. It might seem strange for someone who has the gift of creating art well enough to make a living from it, to envy another talent. I appreciate, and am grateful for, my talent. It’s just I think music is a gift to lift the world.
You can be sitting in a plush state of the art concert hall listening to a world-class orchestra or lying in a sleeping bag on a rough old Greek ferry listening to someone strum their guitar, and the feeling is the same. It lifts your spirits, enriches the whole experience and stirs every emotion.
I can still hear the young guy playing his guitar and singing softly to the stars one summer night way back in 1974 as I lay in my sleeping bag on the deck of a ferry bound for Greece from Italy. I eventually went back to live in Athens for six years and have lots of memorable Greek music moments. Not to mention the umpteen concerts I was lucky enough to go to while there, like Jose Feliciano or Van Morrison. But that simple guitar always comes back to me with a stirring of travel excitement.
Mention 4th of July and I go back to 1986 in Ibiza with Sasha. Lee and I were living on our 30-foot sailboat in the Mediterranean. Our celebration was a small BBQ on the rocky wall of a deserted, unfinished harbour when this large Russian clutching a bottle of vodka walked up. He asked politely what we were doing, then
announced he would join us for our 4th July BBQ regardless of the fact we hadn’t invited him. He grinned, “Russian, American, who cares. We can drink together.”
He ate the ribs and salads as he drank his bottle of vodka. We learned he was an opera singer from Moscow and, for some reason he never explained, had disgraced himself. He was wandering around Europe to console himself. The sun got lower, Sasha got drunker. He suddenly threw his head back and started to sing. My God, he hadn’t lied about his voice. It was powerful and magnificent. He sang for about 10 minutes. Then he stopped, had a swig and started weeping, “Oh! poor Sasha, poor Sasha,” he wailed before blabbering in Russian for a minute or two. He took another swig before singing again. The singing was heart stopping. Our own private opera as we watched the soft twilight fade to moonlight on the gentle sea swells. The weeping and wailing added to the atmosphere really. So it continued for some time then abruptly he got up and staggered off. We never saw  him again. But what a gift he had given us that 4th July on the rocky edge of a ‘nearly-finished’ harbour wall. Pure magic.
Every country has a unique musical tradition. No one can say “thank you” the way the Zulu’s do, they sing to you. I worked with the Amandwe Support Group a couple of years ago on landscapes. Afterwards they made tea and we sat together. Then they said, we will sing for you. Even thinking about it brings tears. Singing is pure Africa and just hearing a snippet of it can make me homesick quicker than the thought of Africa’s vistas or the special scent of her earth.
My time in New Orleans was deeply involved in it’s music - and that’s why I wish I could join musicians and play or sing. I’m a huge fan of “Playing for Change,” watching their videos brings all those special musical moments back. And I do believe people can interconnect through music more than any other medium. It can make the world a better place if we let it, and if we really listen to it. And, damn, but it can just make you smile. I"ll always love music and the happy memories it brings. But I guess I’ll just have to keep painting unless some miracle happens!!
Listen to what I mean and get hooked. Go to and follow them on face book at

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The art of being grateful

A big bunch of holly from the lovely big tree in our garden
It's just past the Thanksgiving celebration here in the USA. This is a holiday I adopted happily, and I cook up Lee's favourite's because he loves the holiday. We've had some interesting Thanksgivings over the years in various countries, making do with what we could find for the meal. Each one special, I should do a blog on that alone! Part of the tradition is to reel off a long list of things to be grateful for.
I have much to be thankful for - like this morning I Skype'd with my family in South Africa. My eldest nephew just had an operation, a success, but it was a relief to see his face and his lovely big smile and hear his delightful sly humour. Isn't technology a boon sometimes? But I don't understand how people can't get away from their electronic devices - they're connected 24/7/365. Ugh. I turn my phone off, my computer off. I think that's why voicemail and e-mail and facebook were invented - to walk away, and then walk back and check whenever you want to do so. I turned off my computer last Wednesday and didn't turn it back on until today, Saturday. Guess what? My e-mails were waiting for me, my facebook page gave me all the updates. My voicemail gave me my messages. The earth kept turning!
So, I am grateful for family, love, friends, health, cats and dogs who keep you grounded, and technology because it keeps me connected when I want to be connected. Oh, and VERY grateful for a glass of wine and good food.
I've been decorating the gallery for the Christmas season, it's early I think. However, it might be an art gallery but it's still retail. I'm also grateful for my gallery and the gift I have to make art. And the joy of making a living doing something I love. We've got big holly trees just outside our window in the garden - I walked past on my way to the gallery this morning, snipped off some and voila! I have an instant bunch of holiday cheer in a nice pottery vase.
And, I'm grateful for my dear Scots mother who taught me, "It' a great life, if you don't weaken!"

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Art of the Muse

My Africa, acrylic, burlap, canvas - ©2006 Anne Jenkins

When I was a small child in Africa I had an imaginary friend. I used to potter around having these very earnest conversations with her. I have no idea what her name was or if she even had one.
My godmother, a tough, funny lady from Yorkshire, was fascinated by this invisible friend. I would toddle around our two acres of garden and then off in to the woods chatting away to my imaginary friend and hardly aware of the entourage traipsing along behind me. Close to my heels was my dog, and whenever she visited, my godmother tiptoed close by, chortling happily. Ambrose, our night watchman, who had a special place in his heart for me, followed behind. He wasn’t instructed to, he just guarded me fiercely, nothing untoward would ever happen to his “nkosianne.”
When I grew older my family slowly forgot about my imaginary friend. Ambrose never wavered in his devotion. When I announced I was to be married, he traveled miles to come and inspect the husband to be while I visited home one weekend. He didn’t wax lyrical with enthusiasm. Perhaps I should have taken note, the marriage didn’t last.
Ambrose is no longer with us, hamba kahle my faithful Ambrose, but I am sure he is still guarding me in spirit, and no doubt shaking his head often.
But, I still talk to my imaginary friend. Only now I realize she is my muse. And I suppose she always was - she gave me more than fellowship as a tiny tot. She offered advice when I was going to be the world’s greatest ballerina at age eight, “why not?” and then as I kept growing taller and taller, She muttered, “Well, perhaps not.” She encouraged me to draw and experiment with colour, and slyly “do not keep inside the lines.” She practically held the pen and said “Write, damn it!” as I dithered over whether I could weave words together.
Muses are different things to different people. Some have real people or countries or cities. I have a non-existent friend/muse in my head. Thank goodness. It’s good to have someone else to argue with in your head, than just yourself. Maybe sometimes we have the good angel/bad angel thing going. Note to self, let the good angel win more often.
I don’t know if all creative people do this, but I can have long periods of what looks like inertia. I look as though I am doing nothing. But I am actually thinking a process through, or trying to work out how to do something, or what to do. Or I disappear in to fantasy land to see how it will all end up, or how I’d like it to end up.
All this in the mind experimentation is too much for one person, so an imaginary friend/muse is just what is needed. I’m glad I have had mine for so long.

Friday, November 11, 2011

the Art of doing good

Helping someone in need boosts the spirit. Helping lots of people in need really gives you a kick. It’s especially sweet when they are helping themselves and all you are doing is giving them a hand, or acting as cheerleader. I am hardly in a position to hand out largesse, financially or of the great wisdom variety. I’m pretty much living hand to mouth - albeit happily - I may not have much materially but that doesn‘t bother me at all. I am very rich in love, family and friends.
But what I am doing feels extra special. I am talking about The Bag of Hope project. I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet here - I’m not doing this on my own. Lee, my sister, Ruth, and her friend, Maurean, are involved and all the wonderful, cheerful characters that make up the Amandwe Support Group in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. We are truly a grassroots organization.
It’s primarily women helping women. We are nearly all women - except for Lee and a couple of other males involved. The story behind the project is this:
A group of unskilled women in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal, formed a support group for those living with HIV/AIDS, especially the orphaned children. But with a lack of skills, their problem was how to make some money. They lack skills but not determination. They believe in “Vukuzakhe“, Zulu for “Wake up and do it for yourself.“ They formed the Amandwe Support Group - Amandawe is the area they live in.
They are learning to sew and embroider, tutored by Ruth. They produce little fabric landscapes or pictures made from donated handmade and dyed fabric and thread. Ruth’s friend, Glenda of Amafu Fabrics, donates this glorious mountain of colour. Each picture is different and charmingly simple. Some depict African life, some are whimsical, others are embroidered over the hand-dyed fabric. They send the landscapes to me. Once here, Lee irons them on to canvas tote bags. I set up a website, face book page and the bags sell for $30 at my gallery. All profits go to the group.
The group think big - they participated in a community center to provide education, support and material help for the needy. They run a soup kitchen and feeding program for the little ones, a portion of the money from these bags goes directly to the soup kitchen. This is a safe zone for the children.
It is very heartwarming. But the thing that really amazes and enthralls me is to see how the ladies in the group have grown in confidence and artistic ability. When they started they made these little simple landscapes. We sold them. They made bigger and better landscapes - we sold more. They blossomed. Now the landscapes are more complex. They are still charming, emotional, funny and beautiful. The ladies quite rightly take great pride in their achievements. They are making money, “with my own hands,” and this modest sum means an enormous amount to each and every one of them. Not to mention the children they care for.
There are now similar projects in the U.K., Canada and Australia working with the group. A couple of the ladies have made and sold their own bags. They are fighting the odds and making progress and are more successful ever year. Go to the website and face book page (click LIKE of course) and see what we’re doing.
One of the latest landscapes for The LadyBug Shop here in Milford. Landscape by Elsie.
Art has lifted them up and at the same time, lifted us all. My small part in all this makes me feel very good. How sweet it is when this happens. And what a pleasure!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The art of a good week that was...

What a great week! I sniffle with cold … my nose runs and my throat crackles with coughs, so why do I think I just had a great week? Well, because it was:  1. I sold a painting. 2. The sun sparkles in a crisp, cold sky. 3. I made a good start on two commissions that have been waiting patiently for me. Perhaps the buyers who commissioned me are less patient, but they have been understanding. 4. Lee brought home some yummy Jamaican curried goat from a small stand in Dover for dinner. And, the big good news story: 5. I was amoung a small group of artists invited to participate in an Artist Roster Focus Group by the Delaware Division of the Arts.
It was a lively group with lots of ideas and opinions thrown out all the time. As a staff member of the DDOA said afterwards, “The atmosphere was electric.” It was informative, it was fun and we laughed a lot. I met some cool new friends, heard interesting new ideas and got a big buzz out of it. An updated and exciting roster of Delaware artists will be the result. They also served excellent cookies.
I might sound all ditzy as though I’ve been imbibing their pixie dust - but I am just constantly amazed by my new home, this wee State of Delaware. The support the state gives it’s artists is nothing short of exceptional. There are states that can barely spell art - and there are dreadful politicians who want to cut funding to the arts in states and nationally. By lucky happenstance I plonk myself down in a state that nurtures the arts and understands the importance of the arts - for children, for education, for adults, for the state and the country. But, very importantly, for the artists themselves.
Delaware also understands artists actually can make a living from their art - just like the guy on the road construction crew, the bank manager or shop assistant. They understand when I sell my paintings that money goes back in to the local economy. They also understand a rich diverse arts community brings tourists, and the accompanying tourist dollars, to the state. They understand art is good for the soul and the state needs to retain it’s artistic talent.
I wax lyrical but it is just so damn refreshing to have supportive government behind your back as an artist. It doesn’t guarantee people will like my art, or buy my art, but it gives me encouragement and support. That is priceless.
Fun in the sun .... it's the small things in life
And I have a nice apartment with lots of light and my cats played happily in the sun, we ate good food and drank nice wine. All is well with the world. Who cares about a flu sniffle or two - that will pass.
So, you can see why I had a good week. Here’s hoping for many more…

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Successful art show opening reception

Okay, so I didn't post last week because I was getting my act together for the opening reception of my first show, "Canvasing Delaware," in my new gallery. It was very successful and sales were made! How sweet it is!
Lost track of time and taking photos but luckily one of my new friends, and excellent photographer, April Abel was on hand to snap some shots for me. Thanks for these April! Here's a short video just for fun..

Enjoy and I'll update you next week on joining a focus group for the Delaware Division of the Arts, more how sweet it is!!!

Must say Delaware really suits me just fine, thank you. Great wee state!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Art Trails column on online travel magazine

I'm cheating this week.... my blog is a link to my Art Trails column in the online travel magazine, American Roads... sit down, read and enjoy

Friday, October 07, 2011

When Mr. Doubt visits

The troubling landscape on the mantle

I’m back at the farm. The painting thereof, that is to say. This time I’ve gone big - it’s a 30x40. I do love painting big. I’m reasonably happy with the way this one is going, however, I still prefer painting seascapes.  It’s that “reasonably happy” that’s the biggest problem.
Something in this one is bothering me, can’t quite put my finger on it. Here’s a photo of it above my favourite seascape. It’s still wet!
I find landscapes soothing to look at, I can get lost in the mists or bare fields. I wonder what’s over the horizon. I love the way the light and the colour changes  as you watch, the mood, the calmness, the joy, the saddness. Whatever it is you feel as you look at it - just like a seascape.
So, then… why is it, I have no doubts when I paint the sea. It’s just the right feeling every time. I do a landscape and Mr. Doubt arrives to visit immediately. He loves to linger in my mind and play jokes on me. Then I get nervous and start fussing at it. That’s usually when I mess it up.
I walked away from it some time ago. Now I just walked in to the studio, looked at the painting and picked up a palette knife to start fiddling. Then I thought, “Nope. Not going to - so there!” I put the knife down, picked up the painting and put it in the gallery, on the mantle above the seascape. I stood back and looked. For a long time. Still doubting. But this time, I’m going to leave it there until tomorrow. And then I’ll re-look at it. I WILL NOT pick up the palette knife to fiddle until I really do know what it is I want to change. I must start trusting myself with landscapes.
Let’s see what happens…..

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Exploring Delaware back roads

Yesterday & Today, Delaware back roads

We explored the back roads of our new state for two days and what a grand time we had. We lunched at an out of the way tavern with newspaper for tablecloths, and met the fisherman having lunch with the owner, his boat still tied up outside after delivering the catch. You don‘t get a plate of flounder much fresher than that!
Completely deserted beaches with miles and miles of sand beckoned. We drove down roads marked ROAD CLOSED (well, it didn’t say DO NOT ENTER, okay?) and entered a wild, quiet area with a wealth of bird life - herons, cranes, egrets and more. We wandered around lonely marsh docks with old dilapidated fishing boats tied up alongside. Restored one-room school houses popped up in the middle of nowhere and falling down barns elegantly sat waiting for time to take it‘s ultimate toll.
We stood awed at marshes older than time with a thin strand of sand and trees protecting it from the ocean. And marveled how man can take these barrier strips of islands and turn them in to ugliness when surrounded by such beauty. Luckily Delaware has protected much of these areas and man is huddled in one corner. But I worry in time they’ll want more. They always do and then it’s ruined.
Little flat Delaware continues to impress us with it's big sky - and it certainly puts on a show with clouds and sparkle! It keep coming up when I paint it - and I just can't resist painting it!
We stumbled on a farm where they sell pork and veal direct to the public… “no preservatives, milk fed and humane slaughter” (is there such a thing?) Definitely must buy some with a group of friends as they sell either the entire pig or half pig. We bought direct from a farm in England and it was pork to stir good memories - tasting like pork we ate as children. I mean, it actually tasted like pork, not the stuff you get in mass supermarkets today.
A yummy Italian deli with charming staff and irresistible fare tempted us to spend far too much money on cheeses and salamis and wafer thin speck. We’ve savored two meals on the purchases already and can’t wait for the next one.
We never turned on our cell phones, didn’t touch a computer at all or listen to the news. We wanted to enjoy the time standing still and we did. Such bliss.
I’ve painted 2 of the scenes and have more still trying to jump out of my memory on to canvas. This one displayed is the painting of a strip of barrier island with the humans encroaching from the right. I’ve called it “Yesterday and Today.” I prefer the “yesterday” part, I don’t trust man to show any respect for the natural world. I also believe I am turning in to a cranky old fart as the years slip by!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Red Farmhouse in Delaware

Red Farmhouse in Delaware

I decided to have a longer break from seascapes so I don’t get old on them, when I say that I mean, so I don’t get tired of them. Lack of enthusiasm shows right up there on top of any painting. You can’t hide it, at least, I can’t. Now the marsh scene I did recently was such a disaster I didn’t want to go there. Failure twice in a row would be too much. A while back I saw a lovely old red farmhouse nestled in the far end of a field - the crops went right up to the house it seemed. The farmers in Delaware do not waste an inch of land. I guess because there’s not much of it! And the scene has been at the back of my mind.
So I did a 16x20 study of it to see how it worked. For some silly reason I cut the canvas in half with sky and land, instead of thirds or more of one or the other. It looks wrong but at least it was on this small study and not a big canvas. I cheated and cropped it for a nicer effect in the photo. I like the feel of it though, so I think I will do it big. The wheat fields really turned out well in this one - lots of movement.
I’m not painting for a couple of days to get some rest, and get some writing I need to do done. Then Lee has a day off Monday, so we’re going to explore the back roads of our new state and I’ll take the camera along. And I’ll be back with lots of ideas and scenes to paint on Tuesday. It’ll be so nice to have the break!
Just hope this drizzly rain goes away, not that it matters that much but it would be nicer to visit the cool backroad bars on a sunny day!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Discovering Delaware ... or Canvasing Delaware

Fallow Field in Delaware
     The countryside around Delaware constantly reminds me of Holland - flat, tranquil and rural. Good biking country. And it’s lovely in its sparseness - it gets all moody with various marshes and wildlife reserves. There are fabulous beaches showing off big dunes and miles of sand, but some of the inland vistas are breathtaking for their sheer simplicity. This is a very small state but somehow, and unlike Holland,  it seems to have a big sky. I guess it’s the flatness. I think of big sky in Africa or Montana or Nevada. Not the East Coast - and here’s little Delaware with a BIG sky. Delaware is also changing the way I paint - and I just love it when that happens! A “new” always gets the creative juices flowing like nothing else - the sheer excitement of discovery.
     During my life as a professional artist, there’s been nothing subtle about my use of colour - tons of crimson, strong yellows, orange etc. Hardly any blending… just wham! Straight out of the jar. Now I suddenly find myself blending and lathering on layers of whites, soft blues, sweet greens, olive greens - only adding just a touch of red here and there. It just sort of happened, I didn’t think about it. And, strangest of all, it feels so right. Just as strong colour seemed to work before, now soft light is in.
     No doubt I’ll go back to strong colours every so often - I’m from Africa, it’s in my soul. Just like whenever I dance to African music, I wiggle my butt and yell “Ehh-yeh!” Just like whenever I hear a penny-whistle, my whole body starts to vibrate.
     I’ve decided the first show I have here is going to be called, “Canvasing Delaware,” (with thanks to my old New Orleans friend, Patrick Burke - wordsmith supreme - for suggesting titles.) The paintings will chronicle my introduction to my new state. I am so enjoying thinking of which scenes to paint, or seeing a scene and thinking “Well, if I leave that out ..” or “just use that section…” I have always enjoyed painting vignettes more than the whole, so this dear wee State’s topography suits me well. I was looking at a field and remarked to Lee, “I’ll just use that bit, make it smaller perhaps,” and Lee, typically American, replied, “Anne, you can’t make Delaware any smaller.” Sometimes I think there’s a bit of Texas in them all!
     There’s a field near here that’s lying fallow right now and there are a couple of scraggly old trees on the side. The small space is so sparse, open and inviting, it tricks you in to thinking it is huge and you could get lost in it. This is the 12x24 study I did for it, and I’m not sure I will do this one bigger. In it’s case, I think the small, long canvas captures the spirit of the place.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Puddles on the Path to the Beach

Puddles on the Path to South Bowers Beach

       When sage advice is given, I listen. I listened to my muse in the wine glass, as my friend and fabulous artist, Carol Lee Beckx, told me I should. 'Paint the sea,' it said. I drove out to discover a new beach, Bowers Beach. It’s just about 8 miles north of Milford. I headed to South Bowers beach, there’s a wee river runs through the town and you can‘t drive from one side to the other.
The drive out is lovely - rural and tranquil through farm country. And then you turn a corner and just know the sea is close. The atmosphere changes with a salty-ness about the air. I parked and walked up the path which was full of puddles from all the rain we’ve had lately. I’ve always loved skipping barefoot through puddles, age doesn’t seem to dim the pleasure. It’s an instant flashback to my happy childhood.
The beach appeared and it went on for ever - best of all, it was totally empty of people. In the distance was the vague white shapes of the houses of the village, and the first thought I had was, “Oh! how perfectly wonderful, another empty walking beach to enjoy!” Truly the Delaware coast is that way - whether its on the Atlantic or the Delaware Bay. There’s a bunch more I have to explore.
After Bowers I drove down to Big Stone Beach, thinking it might be just as lovely. The drive was just that - part of it wound through a wildlife reserve. I saw a golden eagle, a mother deer, 2 teenager deers alongside her, a hawk dived and lifted a mouse right off the side of the road. I stopped to watch - it was that quiet and without traffic, I could stop in the middle of the road. But, alas, the welcome was definitely not warm at the end of the road. Signs stated it was a private beach, a private road - no stopping, no standing. No anything it seems. There were only about 4-5 houses there, and it was vaguely creepy. So I dashed to the edge of the beach and took two photos and left. I’ll have to find out what the story is about the place.
I went straight back to the studio and this is the 18x24 study of “Puddles on the path to S Bowers Beach.”
It just felt right to be back painting the sea … although I am also eagerly, and with much excitement or trepidation, looking forward to my next big challenge when this local Delaware series is finished… my collaboration with the marvelous artists of the Amandwe Support Group in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. I work with them on The Bags of Hope project. Stay tuned, it should be interesting! Here's the Bag of Hope website :

Friday, September 02, 2011

What to do when it's not working...

Section of Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, DE

THANK YOU to all for your good wishes during last weeks hurricane saga. I am so very happy to be here in my own home writing this weeks blog - last week I had visions of being blown to hell and gone, but Hurricane Irene was merciful to us. She blew over as a light Category 1 and then went her merry way. Some folks up North of us weren’t so lucky, I feel for them. So, now things have settled down, we find our eyes back on Tropical Waves, numbered storms threatening to build in to hurricanes. Let’s hope Katia, Lee, Maria, Ophelia, etc - all come to nothing. Although I’m not impressed about that name, Ophelia, who names a hurricane after some one who threw herself in to a river to drown?
I continue to build on inventory for my upcoming show, “Delmarva through New Eyes.” Since I’ve done 3 seascapes, I decided to go back to marsh painting. This is a section of the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge … just on the other side of the road from Slaughter Beach, a place which is obviously my muse at the moment. This is an 18x24  study I did for a big canvas to make sure I‘m in the right zone. And, nope, apparently I’m not.  I can’t seem to get the greens right. Marshes are wonderfully messy places. But even though I’m a messy painter, I struggled with this one. Last night over a glass of wine I pondered on why it wasn’t working. A light bulb went off in my head and it occurred to me.. I love doing the sea, don’t change tack in mid-stride for once. Why not just keep doing seascapes?  This study is going to lurk in the corner and I shall ignore it. And happily go back to painting the sea until the marshes call me and I can paint them once again. When it’s not working, don’t try and force it. The marshes will return, but until then… whoopee, seascapes I’m baaaaack!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene

I CAN’T BELIEVE Hurricane Irene is heading our way. I have spent the past 6 years with a scarred and blown mind because of my experiences with Katrina and Rita. I believed my pysche had improved enough so we could move back near the beach in Delaware - although, before I said yes definitely, I checked the regularity of hurricanes in Delaware and was pleased to find it a rare, VERY rare, event.

And then, voila! I show up … obviously with a hurricane magnet on my back. I’ve been here just shy of 3 months. Bloody hell.

I am unable to write about art this week. My mind won’t go there now. So, instead I have stocked up on water, candles, food and wine. Filled the car just in case. And last night the nightmares returned.

I hope everyone in her direct path get the hell out of there, never mess with Ma Nature throwing a temper tantrum. You lose every time. We’ll watch and listen to warnings.

I also fervently hope when I write this blog next week, we’ll all be safe and sound in our own beds and no damage done. I really, really hope so.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

DuPont Nature Center

This is the postcard now on sale at the center
There is a wonderful little facility at the mouth of the Mispillion River at Slaughter Beach, Delaware - the Dupont Nature Center. It is a treasure trove of information and fascinating stuff - like baby horseshoe crabs. Dawn, the manager, asked if I'd do a sketch of the center... now they're selling it on postcards.

When I went on Tuesday a family with about 5 kids in tow were visiting. It was such fun to hear the kids, they were so excited and interested in everything - take your kid, nephew, grandkid, whatever... it's a wonderful experience for them. On the deck there are strong binoculars and its cool to check out the birds and the view close up. If you are interested in birding, they've got a deal on a book on migrating birds thru Delaware... hurry while stocks last! There's a map at the bottom of this post to guide you in...
And don't forget to buy a couple of the cards to send to friends!

And check out their website

See ya next week!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Startin' over by the sea and lovin' it!

Okay, I know I haven't been too good about posting lately - just had a tad much to handle I guess. But - now I am settled in my lovely light little apartment and my studio/gallery is up and running, so - I will do better. I have also been trying to take a little time to paint. I'm back in the mood to paint big. During the economic slowdown I painted small but now, to hell with it, I want to paint big again. I love it. So here's one I did - a 36x48 of Slaughter Beach which is 6 miles from our new home. I am just so happy to walk on a beach again. I knew I'd missed it but didn't realize how much. I had a commission to paint but put it aside and HAD to paint this. The sea was calling....
I am now going to try to post at least once a week

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gallery opening!

So excited ...I am opening my new gallery Thursday, July 21 - hours will be Thursday-Saturday 10-5, any other day just call (302) 393-6629 and I'll open for you! Come on buy - looking forward to seeing you soon

Monday, June 06, 2011

Article from Athens Banner Herald, Georgia

New Gallery

Life can be so exciting and there's always something new happening! I have a new gallery - it's a mess of boxes right now but once I get working on it full time (i.e. from tomorrow ... I HOPE) it should be fixed up quite quickly. More to come!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Public art project...The train is in the park!!

Union Point City workers position the locomotive in the park

Here she is - ready for kids to have fun and learn their town's history! Great for photo ops!!
It was an honor to do this project... working with artist, Jan Whyllson, was a blast and we worked well together. I thank the Downtown Development Authority and Better Hometown of Union Point for this opportunity. The Grassroots Arts program is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. GCA also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Public art project stage 1 complete!

The public art project I've been involved with is almost completed. We finished painting the train today - and on Monday I start doing the varnishing alone. It will take about 4 coats - 2 with special UV protection. It's been a great learning experience - and great fun working with Jan! And being supervised by Jamie the poodle. It's a very sweet and cheerful wee train: here she is

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When you're having fun ...

it's fun!! Here's a Honky Tonk scene painted with bubble paint over a mess I made of another painting - the inspiration is from one done by my good friend Hannah Cohen, a celebrated folk artist in New Orleans, only hers are better!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The end of the daffs

I don't normally do still life, so 2 of the same subject in 3 days is something, wonder why? But I'm enjoying doing them, maybe it'll start off a new trend for me. oh - and the shine is because the paint's still wet. Size is 16x20

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring daffodils

Lee came home Thursday with a little bunch of lovely spring daffodils for me. We put them in a big coffee mug made by a ceramic artist friend, it's a deep wonderful turquoisey blue. I love daffodils. I always think of walking through London's parks in spring. Happy memories. So I decided to paint them - the paint is still wet thus the shine!! Size is 16x20

Saturday, March 19, 2011

View from Olga's apartment in Prague

I have a wonderful friend in Prague, she's just a fabulous person, a Czech poet of some renown and lives in the Old District - the Staremesto. I spent a few days with her in January 2010 and loved looking out her windows over the many church spires and red roofs and wonderful old architecture. I could step out her door and get lost in the wonderment of the old district and lovely people. We'd sip red wine and talk for hours with this incredible backdrop. It was a treat and often I wish myself there again ...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Public Art Project - stage 5

Jan (behind the train) and me working away under close watch by Jamie the supervisor
Doesn't she look grand?
We've gotten on a roll now - the wee train is looking good with the lady bugs about done, the flowers need a couple more coats, the fireflies are starting to glow and the historic district on the seat taking shape. It's just the most fun project!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Public Art Project - stage 3

Jamie the supervisor with his own bed in situ

the train is now on stilts to make it easier to work
We got the basic design and color sorted out today - it's starting to take shape very nicely - under the watchful eye of our supervisor, Jamie the poodle.

This program is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. GCA also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Public art project

                                                                               I'm honored to be taking part in a public art project for the city of Union Point's Downtown Development Authority - painting the cutest wee train alongside artist, Jan Whyllson. Here's photos of stage 1 and 2 ... this is just great fun!
Right: Stage 1 - the sanding. Jan Whylllson in the hat
and me behind the chimney
and then below : stage 2 setting the background and design
This program is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. GCA also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ready to march...

The brass bands that lead second line parades, play at French Quarter Fest,  Jazz Fest, lots of clubs and all sorts of Mardi Gras fun. They make wonderful vignettes to paint of New Orleans life and are one of my recurring subjects. I loved painting them when I lived there and I still do, particularly when I'm missing New Orleans. It's like that Louis Armstrong song - "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?" The area I lived in had a lot of musicians and artists. Music floated out of many buildings as you walked around from jazz to brass bands to a concert piano player running through a classical piece. Kids would walk home from school blowing quick blasts of sound from their horn of choice. It adds a charm to an old neighbourhood and is not found in silent modern cities.
Now I paint them from memory. They are wonderful musicians and great fun to know.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Must be Mardi Gras time

I miss New Orleans a lot and at this time of year, Mardi Gras time, brings back lots of good memories ... hence the new musical series based on the magical brass bands of NOLA! I always loved painting the musicians or especially the tuba players. I haven't painted them for a long time. An old time member of a brass band once told me, if the band ever got in trouble the tuba player was always the one caught. I asked why and he laughed. "Because he always got caught trying to get through the door," he replied. Always think of that when I paint and it still brings a smile to my face. This one is on a 12x24 wood panel.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Opened an ETSY shop....

I've opened a shop on the website ETSY - smaller pieces, easy to ship. Please go and check it out, bookmark it and return often and perhaps buy a piece! I'll add more pieces (one piece I added yesterday, I had to take off because I sold it this morning in the gallery!! YEAH!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

more poppies

Finished painting these poppies a few days ago and now they are winging their way to England - may their new owners enjoy them for many years... it's a big painting over 30x30 but very cool. At least I think - hope the new owners agree!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Night at the Galleries

I'll be joining the "Night at the Galleries" exhibit at the Del Webb Clubhouse at Lake Oconee this Saturday.... if you live there, do stop by and say hello! They held the first one last year and it was an enjoyable evening -

I'll have some variations of poppies, a couple of Women of Courage and other paintings to show.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Art in the Pass

I will be showing again at the delightful art show, "Art in the Pass" in Pass Christian, MS the weekend of April 2 & 3. This show has a spectacular setting right on the Gulf of Mexico and the folks running it are a delight. If you are anywhere in the vicinity then, do make an effort to visit. Pass Christian is approximately an hour E of New Orleans. I'll post detailed information and directions nearer the time.
The photo is the view from my tent in 2010. I first did Art in the Pass back in in 2004, and apart from the gnats who devour me, I love the show - and it gives me a

chance to see my New Orleans artist friends again - always a treat!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

my latest article up on travel ezine

Here's another art form I love - writing. I've been lucky to work with wonderful and patient editors, both newspaper and magazines, over the years who have taught me so much. I write, and usually do the photos for my articles, for a travel ezine AmericanRoads, published by Kathleen Wells - a prolific writer and a great supporter of writers and artists. I contribute the Art Trails, it's published quarterly. You can go back in the archives to read older editions (about 3-4 years worth of my meanders) if you feel so inclined. This one celebrates the art of quilts.
So, the first one for 2011 - you'll have to copy and paste the link in to your browser. For the life of me, I can't get this blog to accept my links! I guess I'll work it out one day