The Art of Holiday Decorating ~ Finishing Touches!

Every year we become a little overwhelmed by the thought of pulling out all of the boxes of Christmas decorations from our living room cabinets and the attic and starting the holiday decorating.  Now having a faux tree with the lights already strung makes everything a little easier for me.  I used to always complain about having to go out in the cold to try and find a tree with all good sides, load it on top of the car (sap and needles everywhere) and having to cut the base off with a saw that needed sharpening!  Then mounting it in the old Christmas stand and making sure it was straight up and down was always fun.  Not to mention untangling last years lights that were all bundled up in a box and stringing the tree!

Now we laugh about buying a faux tree that is just big enough to be heavy and awkward to handle when going up and down the steps.  It’s so wide on the bottom that I have to be careful not to scratch up the walls or the touch up paint becomes my next project.

After the tree is upright and in place my job is done.  Jen always takes over and does a great job of decorating for Christmas.   I get a kick out of how she decorates our mantle around my painting of the Heritage schooner.  One year for Christmas Jen’s mom gave us an artist caroler sporting a Rollie Fingers handlebar mustache and wearing a beret.  She said she thought of me when she saw it.  Jen places  tiny wooden easel next to him along with my postcard size painting of a Whistler painting called The Thames on Ice.

Sitting by the fire seeing my art surrounded by our display of carolers reminds me of Christmases in Maine.  Carolers would go up and down the town’s snow covered streets singing Christmas carols.  Walking through town at night you could smell the smoke from the wood-burning fireplace at the Camden Harbor Inn.  Many times we stopped in for a hot chocolate or an after dinner drink to enjoy the fire. 

Ornaments on the tree and elves placed strategically around our house remind me of family Christmases full of funny and happy memories.  My mom used to give my brother and me fifteen dollars to go out and buy a tree.  Her mistake was telling us to keep whatever change was leftover, so we’d come home with a Charlie Brown $7 Christmas tree with a bad side!   My brother and I still laugh about it to this day.  It always looked great in a corner!!!

I just thought I’d share a few photos of some of Jen’s artistic Christmas decorating with you.  We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thinking big ~ Painting small!

In a prior blog, I wrote about my teacher at the University of Maryland that had me do a huge self-portrait in pointillism (6ft by 8ft).  In the project before that we were all assigned to copy a famous artist’s work in miniature (postcard size) in oil.  This contrast of scale taught me that I enjoyed working both with the smallest of brushes on a small canvas and also creating something much larger. It also taught me about the impact that both have on the viewer. 

All these years later we still have my two little postcard size paintings that I produced in my painting class.   I chose to copy two of James McNeil Whistler’s paintings.  We have them on display in our home on tiny wooden easels.

The Thames on Ice painted by Whistler in 1860 was my first postcard painting.  Since it was so small it didn’t take long.  It was fun to shrink everything down and still try and capture all of the details.

The Thames River rarely froze over but the year after Whistler moved to London (1859) was a particularly harsh winter.  Whistler painted this piece in just three days!  It now resides in the Freer Gallery at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Asian Art.

My second postcard size painting of a Whistler painting was entitled Caprice in Purple and Gold: The Golden Screen.  Whistler was greatly influenced by Japanese art.  Bought by Charles Freer, this painting is also part of the Whistler collection at the Freer Gallery in Washington, DC.

The time has flown by.  I’ve painted over two hundred paintings now.  I still enjoy working large and small.  My teacher’s lessons left me with an appreciation for scale.  When I go to museums I am fascinated by Dutch miniatures and mesmerized by huge Frederic Edwin Church landscape murals.

Both large and small works of art can leave lasting impressions on art lovers!  Below are the two original Whistler paintings that I worked from.