An Artist's Quest

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Color Me Excited!

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I am excited to share my latest adventure – a coloring book!  I am inching on to my 20th year living at The Bishop’s Ranch, in that time I have had the great privilege to soak up the seasons and the scenery here.  Each season arrayed in it’s own palette, from vivid greens to golden brown, the hills and fields change their colors in a beautiful circle of fecundity and fallow that never ceases to amaze.

The coloring book has twenty pages of Ranch scenes both on the grounds and in the backcountry.  I drew the images on my iPad in black line.  Now the owner of the book can choose the season make it spring or fall at their whim – something of a visual choose your own adventure book. Coloring the pages can put the artist right back here to the Ranch, in that way it is both a coloring book and a memory book.  For those who have yet to visit the Ranch it can be an enticement of things to come. Please follow the link to purchase one http://lisathorpe.com/shop.html

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A peek inside!

Taking Time to Stop and Paint the Iris

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Watercolor sketch in my journal of one of the iris in my yard

Here in my little slice of paradise spring has long sprung (sorry you guys in cold climes) and now it is iris turn to stretch out her long neck and open her beautiful face to the sky. The iris come in an awe-inspiring color palette that surprise and delight every year. Some time ago a friendly acquaintance asked me if I wanted some iris rhizomes (they look like a ginger root gone mad) he was digging out of his yard. I picked up a bucketful not really knowing what a treasure trove I had. The following year blooms of impossible beauty shot tall and sturdy in my yard. I have this purpley-pink  bloom (above), and a surprising periwinkle blue one, there is a pale creamy yellow one and one that is a deep cabernet red and another that is a purple black of astounding darkness standing like the night sky facing the full sun. The flower itself is a delicate fluttering silk butterfly but the stalk it opens from is tall and sturdy and strong giving a wonderful jux of position. I have been admiring these beauties that rise from my garden with seriously no help from me now for at least 10 years. They rise and bloom and slowly fade and fall to burrow again in the comfort of the ground and spring forth strong and beautiful again each year, a good reminder of beauty and strength and resilience. Thank you iris, for standing as a bold reminder that I too can grow and bloom and fold fallow ready to bloom again when the time is right.

The painting above is from my watercolor sketch book- I’m teaching a Wine and Watercolor class this Sunday at a local winery Campo Vida website. If you have ideas of places I can teach or contacts with organizations or businesses that you think could pare well with a watercolor class, let me know and I will reach out to them.

Putting a Bird on it since 1982

 

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My college “business card” notice the dearth of information including my last name!

 

My dad recently found these “business cards” of mine in a desk he was sorting out. I put business cards in quotes because you’ll notice there is no actual information; no phone number, and no address, not even my full name. I don’t have a strong memory of making these but I’m sure it was in college when I was often between phones and addresses, and maybe experimenting with a Madonnaesque one name only moniker. Anyhow- the thing that caught my attention after all these years was that was I put a bird on it. And I guess I’ve been putting a bird on it ever since. If any of you are familiar with the sketch comedy show Portlandia then you might be familiar with the episode in which Carrie and Fred spruce up a shop’s merchandise and “put a bird on it” every where (Portlandia). It’s a spoof on Portland and groovy shops and the predominance of birds on everything. Well I have to say I’m guilty as charge- I’ve be putting a bird on it since 1982!

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     Signs & Symbols #1 – 48×24″- recent work in my exploration of expressive, intuitive painting

 

 

I’m not sure what that proves but I do know the bird as symbol is a powerful one.When my son was growing a frequent topic of conversation would start like this “if you were an animal what would you be?” or “if you had a super power what would it you do?” my answer was always be a bird, sometimes a hawk or a sparrow but often a smart, sassy, loyal raven. My super hero strength was always flight. So I guess I’ve always been drawn to the bird and so the bird is drawn into my work. These new paintings are a part of my new story. My who am I and where am I going now wandering and wondering. Yesterday was my last day teaching at the elementary school and I’m not sure what is next in my life – but one thing I do know is what ever I make I’ll probably still be putting a bird on it, and dreaming of my life as a bird!

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Signs & Symbols #2 – 48×24″ – recent work in my exploration of expressive, intuitive painting

 

Wowza – ain’t it amazing

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This is just a sampling of swag that can be printed on- everything from mugs and pillow and all kinds of satchels and totes…. and don’t forget the scarves- I can’t get enough of them!

I’m am still amazed and thrilled at how the internet and digital life have expanded how and where my art can go. So with the idea of sharing that wonder, here is quick post to show you some new designs I have posted to my Spoonflower fabric shop and my Redbubble merchandise shop.Two of my newest design came from photos I took last summer. I met up with my college girl friends for a getaway on Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest. While there I took tons of up close photos of the beach and tide-pool rocks- I put them together 2 photo montages one is a variety of browns, grays and blacks and the other is a striking black and white design of worn barnacles on a black rock. I love how these look. I have ordered a couple of yards of each from Spoonflower to sew a dress (I think) I promise to post a picture when I finally get it made. I also made a cool pattern from montage of photos from an old abandoned truck I found on a hike on the Ranch back property. Pictured above are several other designs in my collection and some of the swag it can be printed on!  Click through to the links to see, remember to scroll down on the Redbubble site to see all the merch.

REDBUBBLE ooddles of objects : http://www.redbubble.com/people/lisathorpe

SPOONFLOWER fabric by the yard: http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/lisathorpe

Signs & Symbols

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Here is my journal page with my symbol for LIFE- beginning to end

Lately I’ve been exploring symbols. For my birthday last summer I got a couple of books on symbols. They explore, in great detail, the symbols humans have been making throughout time, religion and culture. From the 20,000 years old red cow deep in the caves of Lascaux to the most recent facebook thumbs up and  texting emojis, humans have been trying to express through symbols the meaning of the world around us. It is interesting to me that some cultures went down a pictorial depiction path for their written language as in the ancient hieroglyphs of early Egyptian and Maya cultures all the way to the much morphed but still based in a picture symbol of Chinese and Japanese. It makes me wonder about languages that are base phonetically instead. Have our brains developed differently because of how we enter our written language? Does the visual come more naturally to those who have grown up with a pictorial based writing system? (Some PHD student out there take this on! Please). That is a very long introduction into my recent endeavor to create my own personal hieroglyphics my own code for ideas and thoughts and feelings. I don’t have any interest in other people understanding them these signs are for me. I’m filling up pages in my sketchbook with scribbles, x’s and o’x and crossing them out until one that is simple, and somehow true, reveals itself. It is an interesting exercise- one that has no beginning or end just a little wander into wondering. Here is my Mixed Media art journal with my symbol for LIFE.

I’m teaching a Mixed Media Art Journaling class in beautiful Mendocino California on August 6-7th here is a link for more info and registration > Mendocino Art Center Registration

Painting With an Open Heart

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The fruits of my open-hearted day of paint

This Sunday I cleared away all obligations for the day, eschewed social media and turned off my phone and turned on the music – this day I felt like painting loose and free. Most of my painting these days are landscapes – beautiful scenes of the Ranch and surrounds but they can get a little tight- but this day I had a strong urge to do a soul painting. I wanted a canvas big enough that I had to use my whole body and not just my wrist to paint.   I wanted to start painting and not know where I was going. Like a Sunday drive wandering with no destination in mind – I would know where I was when I got there. I had been scrolling through the painter Flora Bowley’s website earlier in the week, she had some “how to start a painting” ideas and the one that caught my fancy was to fill your canvas with intentions- and so I did. The photo below shows my start. While I was making my list of words a line from one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems popped in my head – the second photo shows “ What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” in red.

Now my canvas was filled with good juju and ready to build my painting. The idea of a seed and sprout emerging came to mind as a powerful symbol so I let my paint move in that direction. I filled in blocks of color and layered and dripped and layered some more. Finally as my brush slowed on this Sunday drive of a painting I decided I wanted to bring a snippet of the Mary Oliver poem back to the front. Once that was placed I knew I had arrived – a painting straight from the heart! What a wonderful day.

I hope I can share this soulful, open-hearted style of painting with people in person soon – I’m thinking about Open HeART Parties in gardens and backyards and barns….what do you think? Want to join me? Let me know your thoughts….more to come – this journey is just beginning!

Spring: living forwards and backwards

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The Bishop’s Ranch in full Spring.  My latest painting.  Full of life and promise.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

I came across this quote a while ago and stuck it in my “food for thought folder”. Something about it rings so true. When we sit in the fresh days of new spring – living forwards – we experience it in the moment –yes- but we really understand it only by looking back, the blooming narcissus, the bright smiling daffodils, the flittering birds, the dancing young cows– remind us of what is coming– our knowledge of springs past informs our anticipation of the coming warmth and the regreening of our world. The anticipation invites a regreening of our hearts that is particular to spring. The circle of time, the renewal of the seasons year after year allows us to straddle the moving forward and the looking backwards. To experience the tingle up the spine and scalp as the new spring sun warms your back for the first time in months is about that particular moment but also about every spring you have ever known and every time you have felt that first warming, thawing, melting moment and your heart and body knows that spring is coming again- all praise to the universe- the spinning earth around our warming sun- welcome back spring thank you, thank you, thank you.

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