Daddy's Christmas Angel

Monday, March 23, 2015

Blogging A to Z Theme Reveal

Today is the day of the theme reveal for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Two years ago, I decided to paint an animal a day for the A to Z Challenge and was very pleased with the results. I wound up having a nice group of acrylic paintings that became a show for several gallery locations. I'm still thinking about combining those paintings into a children's book.
"Child Viewing Animals A to Z Show" ©Mary Montague Sikes

©Mary Montague Sikes
Although the painting a day became quite a grind with which to keep up, it was lots of fun and I loved the result. That got me thinking about doing another painting challenge for this year. I have a new novel out, Evening of the Dragonfly, that features an artist as the heroine. Throughout much of the book, Farrah Ferand is creating paintings for her first one-person exhibition. I began to consider, "What if?". What if Farrah came into my studio and painted for 26 days during the month of April? What if each letter of the alphabet sparked the section of a painting?

I don't know if this is going to work, but I want to try it. I plan to do fewer paintings but larger ones than I did for "Animals A to Z." If all goes as planned, I should have eight paintings or more for my exhibit of Farrah Ferand's paintings.

What do you think about this idea? Do you think it will spark some sales of my book? Do you think I can meet the challenge of creating an exhibition of art work by the main character in my book?

I hope so.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Georgia O'Keeffe - The Inspiration for an Artist

This is a quote I found today in the Robert & Sara Genn Twice-Weekly newsletter: "Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant," wrote Georgia O'Keeffe. "It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest." 

As artists and writers, we sometimes reflect on meaning and the contributions in life we may or may not have made. The O'Keeffe quote is thought-provoking for me. O'Keeffe found the skeletons of animals in the desert where she lived and made art from and about them. She dissected the flowers in her art and found beauty in closeups of their forms. I am especially drawn to those flowers and once created a series of work inspired by the paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe.

On March 28, I will teach an acrylics workshop, "Painting Like Georgia," at Arts on the Main in Gloucester VA. In September, I will offer a similar workshop at the Art Academy in Hilton Head Island SC. I hope to do something with where I have been with my love of the O'Keeffe flower art. Here is the brochure put out by Gloucester Arts on the Main. The painting on the top left is mine and is sold. The other two are works by O'Keeffe.

Paint Like Georgia!
Georgia O'Keefe had a legendary style that is fun to explore! 
Mary Montegue Sikes will be here Saturday March 28th, 10am to 4pm,
 to share her acrylic techniques with us! 
A full day of wonderful instruction with an experienced artist with lots of tricks to improve our paintings!  All levels welcome - $45 

Learn to paint like Georgia O'Keefe!  Just for fun class.
From the moment Mary Montague Sikes saw paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe, she was intrigued. She loved the colors and designs of the paintings created by the artist during her days living near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Over the years, Sikes has transferred that love to her elementary and high school art students. More recently, she has taught workshops that focus on the O'Keeffe paintings and enjoys inspiring other artists to create work in the manner of the iconic artist.

This workshop will focus on using floral close-ups to inspire. Sikes will demonstrate paintings she creates using her own photographs as working drawings. Students should bring a selection of floral photos they have taken.

Monti maintains studios at Crossroads Art Center on Staples Mill Rd. in Richmond and in West Point. Her work is represented by Prince George Art and Frame in Williamsburg.
She also writes & illustrates books!!

call or email!

Gloucester Arts on Main
6580 B Main Street
Gloucester VA 23061

FAX 804-824-9469


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Return of the Great American Indie Bookstore

Is the "great American indie bookstore" on its way back? According to a lead story in the February issue of American Way magazine, it is. I couldn't be happier.

The headline on the cover of the magazine reads, "The Return of Small Bookstores." Inside there is a very long article by David Hale Smith describing the return of bookstores that are "thriving in many parts of the country."

Smith points out that people still love to read "real books". He notes an early year 2014 survey that found "hardcover and paperback print books significantly" outselling e-books. He also tells about a 2013 American Booksellers Association report saying that indie bookstore sales were rising. That is really good news. After all, what could be nicer than browsing through the shelves filled with real books, pulling out a volume dressed in a pretty cover, and enjoying the scent of ink and paper?

You can curl up with a real book. You can ask questions of the bookstore owners. You can meet local authors there.

It is still nice to get to know authors, isn't it? You can ask them lots of questions and enjoy chatting with an expert on some topic or learn more about the heroine or hero of a series.

The return of indie bookstores! What great news for authors! Do you have a new bookstore in your community?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Longing for a Tropical Beach

February 2015 Snow ©Mary Montague Sikes
When I look out my writing studio window at all the snow covering the hillsides of our woods, I cannot help but long for the warmth of tropical beaches. After all, the temperature last night hovered around zero. The creek is frozen over, and the three rivers that surround our little town are icy as well.
"Snow and Frozen Creek" ©Mary Montague Sikes

"Mattaponi River Bridge and Marshland" ©Mary Montague Sikes

Resort at Los Cabos
A tropical retreat would look good right now. Perhaps a return trip to Los Cabos in Mexico. We love to travel. A beach is much nicer than the snow. However, both tropical destinations and the snow and ice in our own backyard make great subjects for reference photographs to use in future artist workshops.

Still, I'm longing for a tropical beach!

Beach at Los Cabos

(All photos are Copyright Mary Montague Sikes.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Combining Art and Writing - Another Approach

Book de Tour When I find a kindred spirit who combines art with writing to create a book, I am happily drawn to their work. On February 14, artist Greig Leach captivated members of Metropolitan Richmond Artists Association with the story of his journey to document cycling events and share them through a 240-page book made possible by funding from Leach raised over $20,000 for his book project through the program. Much of the promotion for his books and his art is done through Twitter.

Leach paints large scale work on 140# cold pressed watercolor paper using Shiva oil sticks. His paintings are full of life and movement. Viewing his work made me want to pull out my decades old Shiva sticks and start painting. Members of the group actually got to try out the medium during the program, using paint sticks he brought to share.
Greig Leach and Paintings ©Mary Montague Sikes

Discovering the funding opportunity available through Kick Starter was intriguing and exciting. It's a great idea for artists to try if they are struggling to get a book published about a subject they are as passionate about as Leach is cycling.

Combining art and writing, Greig Leach has discovered a different approach. How exciting to document favorite events and gain international recognition along the way. That's what this artist has done.

Greig Leach with Book and Paintings ©Mary Montague Sikes

Another art event this week in West Point was the Arts Alive paper jewelry-making class taught by Leslie Babbitt. Even for those not fans of paper jewelry, the Babbitt workshop was a fun event, sparkling with her vitality and enthusiasm.
Paper Jewelry-Making Students

Babbitt demonstrates ©Mary Montague Sikes
Whatever the art event is, I'm always interested. Thank you, Greig Leach. Thank you, Babbitt. You made dreary February days much brighter!