Daddy's Christmas Angel

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Passenger to Paradise, a Collaboration of Artist and Writer

Several years ago my publisher, Oak Tree Books, created the "Passenger to Paradise" series for my novels that are set in exotic destinations. These books have included settings in Jamaica, Trinidad, Antigua, Costa Rico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Sedona AZ. When deciding the name for my one-person show in the new Ward Center for  Contemporary Art, I thought about the "Passenger to Paradise" books and how I had not only written about the many beautiful places we have visited but I have also painted them. In an "aha" moment, it occurred to me that "Passenger to Paradise" is the perfect title for my exhibition that will be on display when the Ward Center opens during the months of November, December, and January.

Whenever we go on a trip anywhere, I always have a camera dangling around my neck or tucked away in a fanny pack. I enjoy photographing foliage, beaches, buildings, sunrises, sunsets--anything that tells a story and can be used as reference material later on. I also have handy a sketchbook filled with heavy-duty Canson drawing paper. Most of the pages contain notes made with a black marking pen and are illustrated with a small drawing here and there. When we return home, I enjoy having photographs as well as my notes to remind me of the places we have visited.

The tropical island of Jamaica is one of my favorite destinations in the Caribbean. The glorious scenery there has been the subject of a novel, Hearts Across Forever, and many paintings, including several of the spectacular Dunn's River Falls. At least two of those paintings will be included in the "Passenger to Paradise" exhibition. The acrylic painting on canvas featured in this post is 52" x 76" framed.

"Dunn's River Falls II" ©Mary Montague Sikes

 

I look forward to hanging the "Passenger to Paradise" show in the brand new Ward Center for Contemporary Art. The paintings included will represent scenes from Trinidad, Antigua, and other scenic and tropical destinations. It will be a collaboration of both the artist and the writer.

What about you writers and you artists? Can you find a talented friend with whom you can collaborate for a show and a book-signing? Perhaps even a poetry reading? Writing about a painting or creating art inspired by a poem have become popular activities for clubs and sometimes even galleries.

Art and writing make a great collaboration.




Monday, September 22, 2014

How the Arts Promote Each Other




New Town Art Gallery in Williamsburg VA ©Mary Montague Sikes
September is a wild and crazy month for the arts in Virginia. This month I have attended three art opening events at three different galleries. I also spent four days at New Town Art Gallery in Williamsburg, much of that time painting with pastels on my French easel outside the front entrance.

Cats Cast Members Perform at New Town Art Gallery ©MMSikes
The New Town Art Gallery open house on September 6 featured segments from the Cats the Musical, presented by the Williamsburg Players. About 200 guests in the gallery were treated to songs from the production performed by about 30 members of the cast.


At Crossroads Art Center in Richmond VA, a variety of musical activities combined with art for an open house event this month. It was fun to see a large decorated cake carted down the aisle past my gallery space en route to the main gallery. Not far away, country music filled the air. Outside, a large mural is being painted on the long drugstore wall at the end of the shopping center. Street vendors sell food and drinks outside the gallery on opening nights adding to the wonderful festive air to the area.






At For Art's Sake Gallery in Richmond, a nice crowd enjoyed refreshments at the Pastel Society of Virginia's exhibition, "Small Works of Great Art."

For Art's Sake Art Gallery ©MMSikes











As an additional example of arts supporting arts, all eight of my novels and my coffee table book, Hotels to Remember are on sale at New Town Art Gallery. Artists supporting artists and helping by promoting each other--that's the way it should be.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Living in the Moment, I Almost Never Do





Pamunkey River Bridge Opening ©Mary Montague Sikes
Living in the moment is a hard thing to do, especially for artists and writers. That's been especially true for me during the past few weeks. I've been involved in art openings, artist workshops, setting up space in a new gallery, working in that gallery, a trip to Hilton Head Island, and much more. All the while, I've followed my passion--watching the baseball games of the St. Louis Cardinals. Perhaps that is a time of living in the moment.

Coming home earlier this week, we encountered something we had not seen for a few years--a bridge opening. Once the new bridges across two of the three rivers that surround our little town were completed and opened, the worrisome long delays to allow boats to pass through became a thing of the past.

Usually, I would be unhappy to have to wait in the long line for the bridge to lock back in place and traffic to resume. This time I decided to live in the moment. I got out of our car with camera in hand and took photos of the river and of the dramatic sunset I was fortunate to see.

Down the Pamunkey River ©Mary Montague Sikes
It was fun to have a quiet minute and the chance to take photographs from atop the bridge. It was nice to enjoy being where I was and not dreaming of how I would spend my time in the next few minutes or hours. I couldn't quite calm some future planning, like writing this post, but for a little while I savored where I was at a small point in time.

Do you live in the moment? Do you dwell in the past? Do you dream of the future? Are you a ponderer? How can we learn to live in the moment?
Sunset Over the River Marsh ©Mary Montague Sikes

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Learning from an Encaustics Art Workshop



Karen Eide demonstrates encaustic techniques ©Mary Montague Sikes
Karen Eide first presented her encaustics art workshop in West Point about eight years ago. This is a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts sponsored program brought to town by the Arts Alive art group. We loved her program and have invited her back every year since then.

Encaustics which means "burn in" involves the use of oil paint and bees wax. It's a process of  fusing the wax between layers.

In Karen's class, we melted encaustic paints directly on griddles preheated to 180 to 200 degrees. To make colors more transparent, we dripped wax medium into the puddles of  paint. Every three or four layers, we used the heat gun to fuse the work.

In my home studio, Angelview Studio, I have all the materials needed to work with encaustics. However, because of the toxic fumes involved, I have not yet set it up. I am considering working instead on an outdoor patio.

The encaustics class kicked off the art workshop season for Arts Alive. It was the first event in a busy September for me. The opening of a Small Works show at For Art's Sake in Richmond, then the theatrical opening in conjunction with "Cat's" at New Town Art Gallery completed an exciting artful weekend.


Karen Eide ©Mary Montague Sikes

Friday, August 29, 2014

Simple Events Inspire the Writer and the Artist



"Dragonfly" (detail) - acrylic ©Mary Montague Sikes
Several years ago, when we arrived at the condo in Hilton Head, South Carolina where we spend a week each year, I heard sounds of bumping and buzzing coming from the deck outside. When I went to check on the commotion, I discovered a half-dozen or more dragonflies circling and colliding with the sliding glass door. I filed the happening away for future reference.

That's what writers and artists do. We see the world in a different way. Simple events that others fail to notice are important happenings for us. We start thinking, "what if," and the imagination begins an amazing journey. The sounds of the dragonflies became part of the book I am now writing. The dragonfly image is used in several paintings I have already completed.

Dragonflies are symbolic and hold special meaning for me. In the author's note at the beginning of my novel, Night Watch, I write that the dragonfly is a symbol of change and new beginnings. I also write that to some Native Americans, this beautiful insect of reflected and  refracted light  represents souls of the dead. In my latest work, which I am now calling Evening of the Dragonfly, I use this symbolism in an important scene derived from the little event in Hilton Head.

Since that first encounter with the dragonflies, I have become more aware of the beautiful creatures. I have purchased glittering ornaments, glass decorations, necklaces, pins, and more. The heroine in my book may in some way become a collector of dragonflies. I'm not sure yet, but you know how characters take over your book.
"Dragonfly" (detail) - pastel ©Mary Montague Sikes

What about you? Do real life scenes grab you and not let go until years down the road you have to write about
them?