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Give and Take

Mary Liz Ingram —  January 9, 2016 — 3 Comments

It’s in my personality to enjoy a challenge. I don’t mind sometimes doing without, having to be creative and find ways around a shortage. I don’t mind that our family of 5 has one bathroom; you just learn to take turns and by golly I can clean one bathroom, easy peasy.

An inconvenience I’ve been living with for sometime now is the lack of a home computer. No big deal, except for when it comes to blogging and updating my website. Well, Merry Christmas, I’m back, typing on a computer that lives here instead of one that comes home for belated visits after work.

detail of watercolor farmhouseIn the weeks leading up to Christmas, I worked full weekends and many afternoons getting a variety of commissions painted, drawn and framed. To keep my focus in our busy home, and tune out the (mostly) happy racket, I listened to audio books. While I painted a gorgeous family farmhouse, I listened to The Zimzum of Love by Rob and Kristen Bell, and imbibed a bit of give and take into the piece.

While I listened to the stories of living in a collaborative, relational dance, I thought of how the vines and time had grown and coated the old house in an aged patina. How the old house became one with the landscape, how the house and earth united to make the image so very beautiful. The walls made room for the plants; the plants adorned the farmhouse.

I worked with watercolor canvas, a surface well-primed for the give and take of paint. I layered strong, deep colors; I removed them ever so methodically. Over and over, my brush danced to the tune of cooperation, bantering calmly back and forth with the canvas.

While I listened and worked, I navigated my way through little sibling disputes, the needs and requests of the kids, the pets, and mealtimes. A game of give and take, pause and focus, time for myself and time for others.

The whole process wrapped up in give and take.

Wepritz Farm, 8x10 watercolor on canvas

Wepritz Farm, 8×10 watercolor on canvas

Stephen

Mary Liz Ingram —  September 28, 2015 — 2 Comments

GrandfatherThis past summer my sweet Grandaddy passed away. Whenever there is a death, we the living pause. We remember that life is transient, ever changing, ever fragile, ever complex, ever lovely. We reflect and peruse memories and belongings.

Lingering in my grandfather’s apartment with my family the day after he passed, listening to the tick tock of the tall clock, noticing the newfound emptiness now that he is gone, I wandered through the few rooms. I touched his hat resting on the lamp, the softened threads of his gray-blue suit coat, his glasses by the adding machine. I spent awhile in front of a portrait my grandmother had painted of him a long time ago, when he was a young captain during WWII. He had the most beautiful clear blue eyes. My grandmother, his wife of 60-something years, is the artist who taught me what I know.

I carried that portrait in my mind for a week. To me, it meant she loved him. She was proud of him. She created a memorial to him, to the early days of relationship, a lasting image that we can absorb decades later.

I decided it was my turn. I spent a while looking through photos on my phone, looking for a straight forward image of my love, my husband, that spoke with the same simplicity, the same earnestness I found in my grandfather’s portrait. I settled on one taken at dinner, a photo that seemed ordinary. It wasn’t on the cliffs of California, or the sunset beach, or under the Eiffel Tower. Just dinner, just us. Just a quick, easy smile.

I chose watercolor and a new surface: a canvas painted with watercolor ground, making the canvas absorbent and ready for my paint. The background formed accidentally, when I piled on the color and subsequently wiped it off. “Happy accident,” as Bob Ross says.

I began to paint, and put a lot of love into it. Admiration, pride, appreciation… all in there. The painting took on a life of it’s own, as it so often does, and captured more of him than I meant to. Someone mentioned how kind and intelligent his eyes look. The painting revealed a lot of who Stephen is, which art should do. I’m glad to have this now.

Stephen Ingram, 12x12 watercolor on canvas

Stephen Ingram, 12×12 watercolor on canvas

I See the Sea

Mary Liz Ingram —  June 20, 2015 — 4 Comments

I may be the worst blogger ever.

I have thoughts. I have paintings. I have drawings. I have stories. I’ve just kept them tucked away I suppose.

Well, today I feel like catching up a bit.

Ever since California, Stephen and I have been in a bit of a funk. Drifting a bit in creativity and thinking, thinking, thinking. Sitting on rocks watching whales and walking along the foggy Pacific ocean shore altered reality in another small shift, the outcome of all our travels. Experiences change you.

Seashore, 40x40 OilFeeling dreamy, it’s way past time to share my one and only large oil painting “Seashore” here on my website. Working from a photo taken on our family beach trip last fall, this picture captures a dreamworld. The sky was gorgeous, a tidal pool perfectly still, turned into a perfect mirror. The sand smooth and white, the kids euphoric as they skip and dash down the shore upon arrival.

You can miss so much, if you don’t look. If you just follow the kids, trying to keep them in order; if you just trudge along, day in, day out. I wasn’t particularly focused on anything that day, coming off a long car trip with 3 little kids. Luckily, I saw it. Thankfully, the scene enveloped me and smacked me out of a fuzzy world of busy adulthood.

“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” -Dr. Seuss

From the other side of the tidal pool, the reflection was hidden. You couldn’t see the mirror. So I, running up and down the beach snapping pictures, looked like a weirdo. (Which, I believe, is not out of character….)

I was so excited to be in this magical world, where sky and land and sea were confused in a glorious vision. It is currently my favorite photo of all time. I look at the painting from across the dinner table, a reminder to keep my eyes open to the wonders of our beautiful life, our magical world.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” -W.B. Yeats