Archives For watercolor

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!

For the Girls

Mary Liz Ingram —  November 17, 2017 — 2 Comments

For the Girls, 20x20 watercolor on canvas

This girl. She is strong. She sees past excuses. She has a spirit that is passionate for justice. She is small of stature, great of heart. When I see her, I see hope. I see a backbone that won’t let you push her around. She makes me stand up a little straighter, which is hard to do these days.

Every day I wake up to a struggle for hope in a world that keeps beating us down. Reasons to be afraid are paraded before us, dividing us, depressing us, threatening to consume. Fear of violence, fear of leadership, fear of catastrophe, fear for the environment, fear over the food I buy, the way I live, the places I go, the choices I make, the things I say.

The world seems tilted and it’s hard to find my footing. But when I look at a child, when I look at my child, this brave young lady, I find it easier to plant my feet, to find my balance, to keep moving forward. I find the strength to grab the world with a white-knuckled grip, filled with outrage at the mistreatment of truth and love and faith, and hold on tight, pulling with a determination on my one piece of this world to keep it from tilting further. I add my weight, however little it may be, for decency, for kindness, for peace, for hope. Because what we do matters. Our choices matter.

As I drove along in traffic one morning, this image of her face flashed in my mind. With the laundry list of world problems, American problems, Alabama problems that are dividing us, I can’t help but scream, “Aren’t we worth more than this?” We trudge along, hunkered down in whatever way feels most comfortable. We may plug our ears, turn away from the pain and insulate ourselves; we may succumb to fear and batten down the hatches, mistrusting everyone and everything; or we can stand up to the tumult and weather the storm with each difficult step. How will it get better if we don’t stand up and raise our hands together for goodness, for unity? What will this current course leave for our children? For us?

So I stand up. Even if it feels scary, however standing up may manifest itself today.

For the girls. For the boys. For the tired, the fearful, the hateful, the loving, the strong. I will pull and pull at this tilting world like a life or death game of tug-of-war.

It would be so much better if we can all pull together. To look in each other’s eyes and see we are not just divided into men and women, republican and democrat, liberal and conservative, this and that, us and them. We are human – e pluribus unum. Out of many, one.

         

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,

Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,

Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

 

                                       Answer.

That you are here—that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

-Walt Whitman, O Me! O 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

Give and Take

Mary Liz Ingram —  January 9, 2016 — 5 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

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. 

The Macaron

Mary Liz Ingram —  November 12, 2015 — 2 Comments

MacaronCan a three-year-old appreciate a macaron?

She will look at the choices, ask what are the flavors, contemplate which may be most delicious. She will choose a pink one, because it is beautiful and pink. She will eagerly await the little dainty treat, and finish all her supper. She will hold it carefully in her hand, and look at it closely. She will rub the smooth top with her tiny finger, and peek into the middle to see what color is inside. She will sniff it and look at it one more time before taking a little bite. She will say “mmmmm” with as much pleasure as I, and eat the whole thing carefully and slowly. We will say French words while we eat our macarons, and feel very fancy.

So, yes, I think a three-year-old can appreciate a macaron.

Bon apetit.

"The Macaron," 20x25 watercolor on canvas

“The Macaron,” 20×25 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

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

Kids

Mary Liz Ingram —  June 23, 2015 — 4 Comments

Kids are awesome. Trust me, I know, because I’m surrounded by them every. day. At work and at home, lots of kids. Sometimes (ok, lots of times) they can be little stinkers, but they are funny, curious, imaginative little sponges that can teach us so much about life.

They so deserve to be loved. To be taught with patience and kindness. To be protected and given opportunities to thrive and explore. Each one is a treasure, and so unique…tiny little people.

I draw my kids all the time, trying to capture the funny things they do, the ways they teach me to find wonder in the world. Our quirky son is full of mischief and is always up to something. He makes an excellent subject:

Ahoy, 12x12 Watercolor

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.