Archives For life

Love and Light

Mary Liz Ingram —  January 21, 2016 — Leave a comment

I woke up this morning to a dark blue sky streaked with gray clouds. Yawning, I made my way to a cup of coffee and settled in my chair in a quiet den. I felt clouded and sleepy, like the early morning sky. Struggling to wake, hoping to sweep away weary expectations, I leaned back and looked out the window. The rising sun sent a gentle light through the stripes of dreary January clouds, a hope-filled breakthrough. Light is always brighter than darkness.

Sometimes you are fortunate to capture these moments in life, to notice them like the morning sun, when love and light shines through.  A gift from a friend, a warm fire to welcome you home, a hug from a child.  I’m sure you can think of many others. I know I can.

Simple, everyday moments, like a father gently preparing his daughter for a performance, carefully drawing lines and arranging her hair. His hand placed tenderly on her cheek, her eyes closed in trust and rest. I was fortunate enough to be able to preserve this moment for a family, with a watercolor on canvas.

I love to watch for the light. You never know when it will shine through.

Love and Light, 20x20 watercolor on canvas

Love and Light, 20×20 watercolor on canvas

Loyalty

Mary Liz Ingram —  January 12, 2016 — Leave a comment

We have busy minds. We are always in the process of becoming. For better or worse, our thoughts, actions and choices move us forward, or maybe backward, along the line of history and personal quest. I frequently get caught up in the existential throes of being an artist, of trying to be the best person I can be for the time I have on earth.

One morning I was thinking about fear,

how to overcome it, how to lessen the fear around us. I realized that most cruelty, most fear comes from us, from humans. We humans, more than any other species, threaten each other – with hate, with guns, with war, with irresponsibility, with greed and robbery, with anger and disregard for human life. Recently two young boys that I count as nearly my own had a gun pointed at them while they were simply playing near their porch, and this in a safe neighborhood. There was no cause or prompting, just a quick move by a man with unknown motives. It causes fear. Fear that must be overcome daily.

May we live with more peace and regard for each other. May we treat each other with love and loyalty, as members of the human race, members of creation.

Peas, ink & markerI hope we can learn from the example that surrounds us, the peaceful cooperation found in nature. The trees, the soil, the birds, the animals work together to survive and thrive with beauty.

In my garden, I witness a microcosm that balances and cooperates to bear fruit. Insects, bacteria, nutrients, soil, water, sun, roots, leaves…it all works together to form food we can eat, beauty we can enjoy. And I get to be a caretaker, to guide and protect the process. May we do the same in our everyday lives, care for each other, guard the process of becoming.

At this point, I hear Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life,  waving dismissively, “Sentimental hogwash!” Maybe I’m laying it on a big too thick. To bring it a few steps down from mushiness, I hope we can be  more like our dogs. Our pets love us, even when we act like jerks, when we ignore them or forget to buy dog food. They are loyal and forgiving, and their love is constant. We are the ones who complicate things.

Here are a few furry friends that now have their portraits painted, a testament to their worth and value, and their loyalty to a fickle race.

Rest, 11x14 pastel on card

Rest, 11×14 pastel on card

 

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

Pet Portraits

Mary Liz Ingram —  October 21, 2015 — Leave a comment

A portrait is a wonderful way to create a lasting memory of your pet…any pet! Either in black & white or full color, I so enjoy creating a true-to-life painting to bring out the personality behind the photograph. With each detail captured, from the glint in the eye to the many hues in the fur, these portraits can be valued for generations. I’ve drawn everything from fish and dogs, to cows and chickens, to rabbits and cats.

Pet portraits make wonderful gifts…in order to ensure completion for Christmas, contact me today! marylizingramart@gmail.com

Pet Portrait Pricing:

8 x 10″: $175 ink or charcoal, $225 color pastel; add $90 for each additional subject

9 x 12″: $200 ink or charcoal, $260 color pastel; add $100 for each additional subject

11 x 14″: $250 ink or charcoal, $325 color pastel; add $125 for each additional subject

16 x 20″: $400 ink or charcoal, $465 color pastel; add $200 for each additional subject

18 x 24″: $550 ink or charcoal, $625 color pastel; add $275 for each additional subject

24 x 36″: $750 ink or charcoal, $850 color pastel; add $400 for each additional subject

Prices for other subjects and sizes available upon request.

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

Home Grown

Mary Liz Ingram —  July 4, 2015 — Leave a comment

“This land is your land, this land is my land…”

It’s the 4th of July, Independence Day here in the USofA.

Front Garden

We make our homes, build our lives, work to provide and strive to enjoy our days together, like just about every human being.

Here at the Ingram household, we have dug up 2/3 of our front yard (remember last fall?) and are growing our first spring and summer garden. And good grief, is it ever a fight. You’d think you could just plop some seeds in the dirt and they will grow into full, lush plants dripping with fruit. Not so much. Amending the soil, not over-watering nor under-watering, picking off those (bleepity-bleep) cabbage worms, fighting off the ants, beetles, birds, cats…

It takes consistency, perseverance, problem-solving, patience – much like life.

My garden daily calls me to consider my life.

A good life, a well-spent life, takes all of these things that the garden requires. You must get your hands in the thick of it to make a difference, to live outside your safe walls. You must persevere and admit you have no idea what to do next sometimes. You have to keep trying, being okay with failure here and there, knowing you will get where you want to go in the end – somewhere good and full of life.

We have successfully eaten food from the garden; we will, with working hands and honest eyes, find progress toward good things. 

Bugs!My frontyard garden puts me closer to community. I can’t hide in my backyard privacy fence, caring only for my own. And I don’t want to. My neighbors see my yellow tomato plant, give me advice on how to get the beetles off my bean plants, ask me how my lavender has stayed alive. I’ve met so many people while pulling weeds near the road. My garden has led me to some of my greatest new friends, like Ms. Gladys from Haiti. People I may never have met.

Forcing myself out front in the garden helps me put myself “out there,” taking greater chances in community. It has given me courage to speak to people in our community who know little English, not as worried if I look like a miming fool. And the fruits of these awkward conversations have been beautiful.

This land is OUR land…all of us together, with our glorious diversity. 

Our news is currently filled with examples and actions of hate in our nation. Intolerance, pointing fingers, pointing guns… we are better than this, surely. Our nation is founded in diversity, a country made of immigrants. It should flourish in its diversity.

We have so much to learn from each other, if we can open our eyes and work with love. Get our hands dirty, and be willing to look a little stupid sometimes when we feel unsure. Live with kindness, courage and understanding, not hate, fear or suspicion.

Let’s celebrate together, grow together and move forward together.

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

 

Sunny California

Mary Liz Ingram —  April 23, 2015 — 1 Comment

It’s been a while since, months can pass so quickly, but I find my thoughts daily straying to my few days on the Pacific.

I left the downpours of an Alabama spring behind and spent some time on the shores of California. A rare retreat alone, my husband and I felt like excited, curious children on a grand adventure. We ran around Hollywood Blvd., drove down the coast in a little red rental car, climbed over the rocks and tidal pools of Laguna Beach, went whale watching, and Stephen took a surfing lesson while I giggled and watched.

It was glorious.

With such incredible surroundings – the tallest palm trees I’ve ever seen, the sky catching on fire as we watched the sun sink into the ocean, dolphins, gray whales and sea lions right in front of me – I planned to paint and draw a lot.

But, I enjoyed myself so immensely and found myself so relaxed, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything besides staring at the ocean and listening to it sing. I found the words of Mary Oliver’s poem “Today” drifting through my mind: “Today I’m flying low and I’m not saying a word….Quiet as a feather. I hardly move though I’m traveling a terrific distance.”

Here are a few paintings, doodles and thoughts from those transforming days in California:

Pacific Ocean treasures, watercolor

Pacific Ocean treasures, watercolor

When I saw this collection of ocean treasures – shells and seaweed, sticks and pebbles – I was reminded of the poem “Breakage” by Mary Oliver as well. I recommend you read the whole poem…all of her poems, really. They are so simple, so beautiful.

I go down to the edge of the sea. How everything shines in the morning light!

….

First you figure out what each one means by itself,

the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop full of moonlight.

Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

 

Winter Trees

Mary Liz Ingram —  February 23, 2015 — Leave a comment

Everyday, lately, I watch the winter trees. Some days they are dancing in the wind, some days they stand still as statues. Often they are mobbed with chattering black birds.

The dark, bare branches look like ink against the gray sky, so I drew them. I let the ink drip down the crinkled paper, as I held it upside down. When I turned it right side up, I found a tree:

Winter Tree, ink

Winter Tree, ink

Today, the trees were rain-soaked and slowly moving, here and there. I wrote down a little poem while I sipped my coffee:

The trees stand

like frozen sentinels

drenched by a cold winter rain.

They watch me with

arms spread high and wide

daring me to hear them

to feel the bare morning

to come out of my house

and reach to the sky.

Wet to the bone

they tease me

as I sit in my warm chair

wrapped and snug.

With waving wet arms

they tell me to come out and see

come out and dance

and feel the rain.

The Nap

Mary Liz Ingram —  February 2, 2015 — Leave a comment

There was a recent day when my son was sick. Tired and weak, he crawled into the deep pile of pillows on my bed to rest, and quickly fell asleep. On tiptoes, I inched into the room to feel his flushed cheeks and warm forehead, checking him with a mother’s worried, loving eyes.

The Bed, Toulouse-Lautrec

The Bed, Toulouse-Lautrec

The room was still and soft; the folds on the white pillows were tinted with blue and gold. The quilt lay across his sleeping chest, and the beauty of this restful moment enveloped me as I stood, quietly watching.

Always one to browse and soak in Impressionist paintings, an image floated through my mind as I lingered, a painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. I suddenly saw the moment as a painting.

As an artist – well, really, as a human – I try to pay attention. To notice and find the beauty and wonder in everyday moments. To value everyday moments, because that is where life is, and life is so short. When I see it, I try my best to capture what I have seen, what I have felt, what I have imagined. Sometimes it is easy, like a quick doodle to capture a snapshot in the day; sometimes it requires more effort.

In this case, I used gouache for the second time in my life, and sought to blend the images of Toulouse-Lautrec’s painting with the quiet, colorful moment of a child’s afternoon nap. It’s not perfect, but it captures a hint of what I saw as I stood in my room, and it is always a gift to try something new.

The Nap, gouache on board

The Nap, gouache on board

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.”  –Pablo Picasso