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I read every day…a lot. I get up early and read books that shape me. In the afternoon I read books that are a little lighter, but from which I can still learn. At night I read old mysteries by Valentine Williams and E. Philips Oppenheim, passed down from my grandfather. I keep a journal by my books and I record notable quotes and thoughts, which end up being like a map of learning.

At the beginning of this year, I looked through my notebooks from 2017 and created a summary of what I read and learned. Below are some rough notes about important things I took away from each book. Excuse the format, my running thoughts, and know that you will probably uncover different things than what touched me. I realize after reviewing my year that if we want to be better, to shape our world, indeed to save our world from where we stand, it takes work like everything else. Reading and processing is how I “practice” being a better, more peaceful, present and loving person. Some days it is exhausting. But when you look back over a year, how encouraging it is to see a path that you stumbled upon.

Since the year began, I’ve also been *trying* (key word) to draw or paint something each day, usually inspired but what I’ve read or learned. So here is a summary of art and reading. I hope some of these books will inspire you and shape you as they have done for me.

“Caminante, no hay camino, se hace al andar. 

Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk” -Antonio Machado

(or read?)

Dorothy Day: Selected Writings – inspired to take action and lead, little by little, taking small steps knowing they can be greater than you think, living simply and being open and hospitable

Documentary “Minimalism” and articles by the Minimalists: create more, consume less; I could write so much more. Just go watch it.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – “You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance…you have to get close,” lose fear and “beat the drum for justice,” be a “stone catcher” when people throw them at others

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – embrace mystery, follow dreams, don’t fear, walk forward; the soul of the world is love, immerse your “soul into the universal current of life,” “I must not be afraid to change my life”

Mary Oliver, several different poetry collections – “I don’t want to be demure or respectable. I was that way, asleep, for years…” I could just list all her poems…they are amazing

Thoreau, Civil Disobedience – did he write that yesterday? It mirrored our current cultural and political climate so closely. “Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine” of injustice

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass – find beauty everywhere

We Make the Road by Walking , Brian McLaren- don’t uphold the status quo; rethink everything; be “creative nonconformists,” a “community where anyone who wants to be a part of us will be welcome”

The Rebirthing of God, John Philip Newell – heartbeat of God is in all things; “dream the way forward”

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, Rambunctious Garden by Emma Harris, Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy, and Planting: A New Perspective by Piet Oudolf – books about nature that changed the way I look at the world and our role in it; “Let nature be your teacher”

Emotional Agility by Susan David- Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility

Illuminate by Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez – be a torchbearer, leading the way forward, dreamers, pioneers, leades

Awareness by Anthony de Mello – Wake up! Unlearn, listen, see, put on a new mind. I love this book. He doesn’t mess around. I read it 2 times this year. Then I read The Way to Love and Song of the Bird

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari – history of Sapiens and human culture; ” the pursuit of an easier life led to much hardship.” You can clearly see the path that has led us to today. A very interesting book.

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – “charm…your act is easy,” be good, not perfect; break addiction to achievement, image management

The Sabbath, by Abraham Joshua Heschel- rest and reclaim your dignity, the soul and body to be wise

The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher Heuertz – find beauty in our imperfection, trust your feelings, don’t fear; cultivate emotional intelligence. Great leaps in understanding myself through reading this book

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown – be brave; don’t “sort” people, very relevant to our current climate (I could write a lot more…)

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – shame/vulnerability; “share is the fear of being vulnerable,” foster creativity and self-compassion

The Remarkable Ordinary by Frederick Buechner – art says stop and see; go out into the world, not hiding, even if you’re scared

Rising Strong by Brene Brown – 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown – culture of scarcity, “never enough”; shame/vulnerability, build “shame resistance” and self-compassion; a really great book – every one should read this! Changed the way I see myself, the way I parent and interact with everyone.

The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey – set intention, follow your bliss, so many good, good things in this book

The short notes above, summaries from the short notes in my notebooks, are barely shadows of the treasures found in each of these books. Several of these books are or have been in our Little Free Library, and I’m always happy to lend one if you want to read!

Across the Sea

Mary Liz Ingram —  September 18, 2016 — 2 Comments

We met a man in Santorini who told me that when you come expecting good things, with a good heart and good intention, you will find goodness returned to you. When your eyes are open and your heart is willing, you see magic things all around you. You notice the hummingbird moth on the yellow thistle, the feathers on the ground, the adventure to be found.

Be a child with wide open eyes, welcoming whatever arises. -Sister Dang Nghiem

At the end of July, my husband and I were so grateful to be able to travel to the Mediterranean, journeying through Greece, Montenegro and Italy. Through the whirlwind of experiences, I watched for the twisting of the olive trees, the constellations in the sky, the plants I knew and those that I had never seen. We put our feet through the black pebbles on the Aegean coast, rode a Moped through low-growing vineyards, climbed the Acropolis in Athens, wandered through dark catacombs, ran around Rome at night. I watched the moon over the waves and knew each experience was shaping me a little bit more.

Traveling with a great group of people, we collectively reflected upon our days in the Mediterranean. I wrote in my journal on the last night in Rome, sifting through images and snatches of thoughts I had collected:

I’ve been amazed, felt filled with adventure and life, I have been worn and tired, I have felt relaxed and at peace. I have wondered after the wisp that catches my attention every now and then. I have tried to be present, at home with every step. It has been impressed upon me even more deeply than before that I am a part of the whole of creation – that the bee, the bird, the sea, the sky, the trees, the air, the land, the past, the steps and people are all so interconnected – we are a family on earth, and each place is our home. The mystery of the sea and sky and life itself seems even deeper and more mysterious and wonderfully complex than before. I am ever more convinced that love must grow, that unity and patience and an embrace of the other is necessary and compelling. There is no other way. We are all one – all one. Brother, sister all around from the people who smile to the people who push you – the bee on my plate, the cats on the pillars, the trees twisting and reaching, the sparkling sea and stars that guide. Unified as one body, God is in the wild places, all around and in and through.

Now that we are back home, I try to keep that spirit with me. The open eyes, the sense of adventure, the unity and connectedness of life on this earth. During our travels, I drew pieces and places that I collected each day, from little flowers to towering columns. I like to flip through them and remember.

I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world. -Mary Anne Radmacher

 

Big Chalk

Mary Liz Ingram —  January 14, 2016 — 1 Comment

One of the main reasons I began using pastels was to loosen up.

In high school and early college, I was the queen of minute detail. I loved teeny tiny brushes and sharp pencils. I had a huge callous on my right middle finger from squeezing the pencil so hard to get every last dot on paper.

detail of "Martha," 18x24 pastelI still love detail, as I adjust the picture next to me to the best angle and spell check myself as I type. I’m sure it drives my husband crazy, as I settle in on the couch each night, needing the correct lamps turned on, my blanket just so…the list goes on. I will spare you, even though he is trapped. I attribute this desire for order and quirky detail to my father (hi dad!), who must have his lunch of a sandwich and chips on a paper plate every day, with a Mountain Dew of course.

But I digress. My oldest daughter, to whom (poor thing) I’ve passed much of this down, calls us “noticers.” We notice things. I’m good with that.

But when it comes to art, it can be FRUSTRATING. Especially on a portrait. Sometimes you just have to let go; you have to loosen up. So I grab a big piece of chalk. Still getting good detail, the large pieces keep me from over-detailing, from stressing and focusing on minutiae. It has helped me take the leap from tight drawing to something closer to my favorite style of Impressionism.

Using big pastels is like having a third child.

You have to loosen up, or you won’t survive. It just won’t work. You have to learn and train yourself to go with the flow, to notice the important things and pass over the stressors and tiny dots that just distract. You can more easily see the beauty that stands out, and enjoy it, record it, embrace it.

Martha, 18x24 pastel on board

Martha, 18×24 pastel on board

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

 

Gift Cards

Mary Liz Ingram —  December 1, 2015 — Leave a comment

Sometimes it’s so hard to choose a piece of art for a friend! Or you want to commission a portrait for a family member, but you’re not sure which photo they would like. If you’re stuck, I have an option for you:

Gift Cards for artwork!

Gift cards can be purchased in any amount and are redeemable for commissioned or available pastel paintings of chosen value. From pastel portraits, to ink doodles, to watercolors…so many options available for your friend or family member to choose from!

Gift Card

Gift cards will be written for the amount paid & purchase intention noted (ex: 5×7 framed pastel; 8×10 unframed portrait, etc.). Gift cards will be signed by the artist for authenticity. Those receiving gift cards may upgrade to higher-priced artwork by paying the balance. 

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.

Ready to goWhen you constantly create art, you eventually run out of room.

Time for a Summer Art Sale!

The pieces below are marked down for the next 2 weeks only, July 31-August 14.

Pastels, ink doodles, framed, unframed…there are lots of options. Some of them are my favorites, and they would love to find a home on a wall near you!

Contact me today to purchase your favorite! marylizingramart@gmail.com 

Art is available for immediate pick up or shipping (shipping costs apply). Cash, check and credit card accepted.

Click on the image to see the full view

 

While we’re on the subject of portraits, this was a fun one…

A Mother’s Day gift, some sweet daughters wanted to give their mother a portrait of their grandmother. Working from an old black and white photo, we created a color portrait to bring out the beautiful auburn hair and red lips of this lovely lady. Here are some progress pictures of this watercolor commission:

Mother's Day Commission, 11x14 Watercolor

Mother’s Day Commission, 11×14 Watercolor

Trio

Mary Liz Ingram —  June 26, 2015 — Leave a comment

Speaking of kids…

I recently had the pleasure to create a large 24×36″ pastel portrait of a trio of super cute kids from a neighboring state. I love being able to give a family a portrait that captures who they are at that moment in time, knowing it will last and bring them memories and joy as the kids grow up. Sending a big thanks to my sweet client, and wishing them all so well!

Commissioned Portrait, 24x36 pastel

 

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