Daddy's Christmas Angel

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Poetry for the New Year

Awakening ©Mary Montague Sikes

Beneath a vast universe of stars, a new year is dawning. 
Above fragile mother earth, angel wings hover. 
As flowers lie silent in dark frozen fields, 
Hope lifts lonely tree limbs into the murky sky. 
‘Tis always darkest before the dawn, someone murmured.
 An old year fades away into the morning light. 
Atop frigid ground, small birds sing out. 
Angel wings glimmer like diamonds in celestial beams.
Fly high, sweet angels, into the flame of a bright new year. 
Let fresh dreams sparkle in a blaze of glory. 
Orange and red streaks invite destiny. 
The gleam of bright angels casts wonder above. 
I watch my angels fling hues of green across the sky 
As their magic embraces the lingering sparkle of stars. 
Daylight has broken and the majesty of new hope appears,
Awakening all to the promise of miracles.
                                                      © Mary Montague Sikes
(These words and the painting came to me intuitively when I reflected on the new year 2021.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Year That Wasn’t

When 2020 began, I had high hopes for a wonderful, exciting new year. I’m sure most of us welcomed the new year with great anticipation. Little did we know what lay ahead.

As an educator, I found closing the schools earlier in the year a big concern. It’s good we have virtual learning, but that is not the same as in-class instruction with teachers there to motivate and inspire, especially for the youngest children.

I missed attending art openings and getting to mingle with other artists and with patrons. The last event that I attended early this year was an opening at Gloucester Arts on Main called “Winter Blues”. That was back in January. Other open house art events have taken place more recently with attendance limited, but we are being quite cautious. On my computer, I’ve enjoyed watching virtual tours of Crossroads Art Center open house activities.

Virtual Zoom meetings as well as virtual critique groups have been helpful. I got to see the juror, Paul di Pasquale, for the Metropolitan Richmond Artists annual juried show up close and heard his remarks clearly by way of Facebook. I was pleased that my painting, “Desert on Xanadu” received an honorable mention in the show. This photo was taken of my computer screen as the juror discussed my painting in the show. Technology is amazing!

Paul di Pasquale, juror for the MRAA show


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Angels and Meditative Thoughts


"Angel of the Timeless Garden" ©Mary Montague Sikes

Angels have always intrigued me. Over the years, I've been inspired to paint them, but I never knew quite how I wanted to portray these magical, celestial beings. Sometimes abstract elements attracted me, but the results didn't seem quite right. Then, I began making a Christmas card each year, using a newly created, realistic pastel drawing or watercolor/acrylic painting of my special angel.

For several years, I worked in mixed water media, often using Yupo for my ground and applying the beautiful and intense Robert Doak watercolors to it. Sometimes I put the paint on canvas instead. I have loved the results.

"Steadfast" watercolor ©Mary Montague Sikes

 When I read Conversations with Angels by Judith Marshall, it occurred to me that my paintings on Yupo make an important connection with the universe. With these paintings, one can become "locked into the universe". One can focus on meditations to connect with spirit guides and guardian angels. These paintings were the device I'd been seeking in my readings and in my art.

In her book, Marshall describes how to visualize for a meditation to meet your guardian angels. I like the idea of sitting in a quiet place and meditating in this manner. Except I put up one of my paintings on Yupo or I pick a page in my new Artful Angels little hard cover book for the coffee table.

This is the poem that came to me in my meditation vision for the World Healers Conference in 2013:

Charm is not a vision nor a feel.

It is music in the universal sky.

The night turns vivid green

And your journey is not far away.


Your travels aid knights of vision.

You heal with color and light.

Your thoughts are set to lure

So inside the beauty lingers.


I like to watch the sunlit sky

And by that means the truth does bind.

Follow close and follow hard

Hear the sounds of birds and flowers.


Animals touch the universal star

And lead you through the journey home.

Do not wait.

Touch it now!   

©Mary Montague Sikes                   

Much of what I see or hear in meditation is poetic. Try focusing on a painting and see if you have a poetic response to color and light.

My book, Artful Angels is available from Amazon.



Sunday, November 1, 2020

Being a Baseball Fanatic

Mark McGuire signing for me

 "You're just a baseball fanatic," my mother used to tell me.

She was right. As a 10-year-old, my love for the St. Louis Cardinals began, and it has never ended. Over the years, I followed the team with Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, and Red Schoendienst, listening to late night radio as the signal bounced cross-country from KMOX, the voice of St. Louis. I dreamed of studying journalism at Washington University because I truly wanted to be a journalist and I wanted to be in St. Louis.

But life took its own turns. I kept listening to and watching the Cardinals, but I also graduated from high school and college (not in St. Louis), had a family, played tennis all day long every day during the summer months and almost forgot about baseball.

But not quite. 

At the end of the 20th Century and in the beginning of the 21st, my passion for the sport elevated almost to fanatical once more. Perhaps it grew because I started following Mark McGuire's home run record chase in 1998. I remember watching "Big Mac" approach breaking the record while we were barricaded in a room in a scary part of San Juan, Puerto Rico. We were stranded in the city during a holiday when all the rooms were taken. We eventually found a room in a hotel unlike anyplace we ever stayed before. What a calming relief to get to see my team play with so much on the line for Mark McGuire.

Tony La Russa at manager's party
Not long after that, we discovered baseball spring training in Florida. It was a joy to see players up close, chat with them, watch games, and attend the manager's party arranged following selected games at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. That was a dream come true. In the photo, I became the little 10-year-old girl again in 2007 during spring training following the team's World Championship victory in the 2006 World Series.

That spring training was one of a series we have attended every year. Next February, I hope COVID-19 will not put an end to the unbroken string of years in Jupiter.

This year's World Series ended last week. Soon after, Tony La Russa, Cardinals Hall of Fame manager for many years,  came out of retirement and signed as manager of the Chicago White Sox. That was the team where he started his managerial career many years ago. I began remembering past times and longing for spring training to begin. 

Then, I became concerned the team will not look the same. Cardinal catcher Yadi Molina might not be there. 

If that happens, the little girl in me will be sad. But as in all things, baseball teams change. And I will still be a fanatic. Even in late fall and winter.

TV announcer Al Hrabosky, Yadi Molina (middle)

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Intrigue and Glory - the U. S. National Parks


Canyon Changing Light ©MM Sikes

Over the years, my husband and I have visited numerous national parks. When we were first married, we took a crazy bus trip across country to California. It was a real adventure, and it featured our first visit to the Grand Canyon.

We spent a night at the famous El Tovar, and I recall standing near the canyon edge outside the lodge and marveling at the colors far away on the other side. I marveled even more at the light changes as sunset approached. At the time, I didn't know that the El Tovar was a famous National Parks Lodge. I was disappointed because we had to share a bathroom with others staying there. However, I later discovered you have to book a year or two in advance to get a room in the El Tovar.

Often, when we travel to Sedona AZ, we take a side trip to the Grand Canyon and to El Tovar. We have driven around the canyon, north to south. When our two oldest children were young, we took them there on a cross-country trip. The venturous little girls frightened me when the got too close to the edge of the canyon.

©MM Sikes

The photo on the right was taken from an airplane window during a more recent visit to Arizona. The Colorado River winds through the canyon walls.

The Rocky Mountains and the National Parks associated with them fascinate me. When I attended art graduate school, my graduate thesis show was of Rocky Mountain paintings. Over the years, I have drawn and painted many scenes from those glorious rugged mountains.

Grand Canyon Wall  ©MM Sikes




This pastel painting is a study for a large 7-foot long acrylic painting I created of the Grand Canyon.

Painting the canyon is an addiction. I will paint it again and again.

And write about it, as well.




"Canyon" pastel ©MM Sikes