Daddy's Christmas Angel

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

What Is the Glow of Sedona?

"Coffee Pot Rock Formation" ©Mary Montague Sikes
In November, my husband and I spent two weeks in Sedona, Arizona. As we completed the two-hour drive from Phoenix, we saw the iconic red rocks rise up on the horizon ahead. And we felt the glow of the desert mountains.

The Sedona landscape encompasses and touches us like no other place on earth. Peace and quiet surrounds us as the dark night sky approaches. In Uptown Sedona where we spent the first few days, there are no street lamps, so it is exceptionally dark. Flashlights are provided at the Hyatt where we were guests.

"Bell Rock" ©Mary Montague Sikes
Years ago, when we first visited Sedona, silence surrounded us everywhere we went. There were many fewer restaurants, and the vortexes were quiet places without hoards of visitors.

Things have changed. Roads are wider now, with many "round-abouts".

When we visited in 2014, I was disappointed and worried because the highway construction confused the landscape and changed the "feel" of the area. I feared that civilization had encroached too far, and the Sedona glow would never be the same.

I was wrong. This time, the highway construction was gone, replaced by a more peaceful glow. The roadways seemed more congested than in the past, but there were places where respite from the everyday trauma could be found.

Looking into the sky over Bell Rock, I discovered the image of an angel, flying high above the formation. Perhaps the angel is symbolic of the glow of Sedona. Perhaps it explains a little of what the glow is all about.


Perhaps I shall return and question the meaning of the glow one more time. Perhaps I will see more and understand at last why so many are called to the Red Rock Country. Perhaps then, I shall have no need to ask, "What is the Glow of Sedona?".

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

My Books Are Set Free

 During many years with Oak Tree Books, I have produced a wide array of books, starting with my reincarnation novel, Hearts Across Forever. Following publication of that book, my publisher, Billie Johnson, created the "Passenger to Paradise" series for me. A very talented lady, Billie produced many beautiful books, including five in that series. We also developed books set in the small fictitious town of Jefferson City that somewhat resembles the little Tidewater Virginia community where I live.

Through the years, Billie started a series of "Snapshot in Time" books that are spinoffs from my big coffee table book, Hotels to Remember. She took all the books I ever sent to her without my ever going through an acquisitions editor.

A few weeks ago, Billie Johnson passed away following a long illness associated with several strokes. The debilitating strokes forced her to move from her home in California, the place of her heart, back to be near family in Illinois. It was the second time she had left California. The first was because of problems with criminal activities that threatened her in the neighborhood where she lived. The story of her life would probably make quite a book.

Oak Tree is gone now. Losing a publisher is difficult in many ways. For a long time, I have been quite troubled by seeing my books disappear from normal sale sites. Since they are no longer returnable, my books mostly aren't available for signings.

Disappointing. That is true. However, for every negative, there is a positive.

Now, I realize, my books have been set free. I have control to make good things happen for them. I always regretted the title, Night Watch, for my story set in Trinidad. I can create a new title now for that book. Since many people believe Daddy's Christmas Angel is a children's book (it isn't), I'm considering changing the title back to the working one, Riding Carousel Horses.

The possibilities go on and on. Self-publish or something else? Choices to make. Positive decisions.

My books are set free.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Spirit Visions Soul Songs Is Published

My new book, Spirit Visions Soul Songs is up on Amazon, both as a printed book and as a Kindle. I am excited because I believe this book of paintings and writings will be meaningful to many. It can also be just a pretty addition to a parlor table.

 Beyond my windows, I see the trees in the forest and study them for inspiration.  Words and images come to me intuitively.

"It is the zodiac moments that guide our spirits in the long journey through the green valley," the words say. "From under the little trees, the fairies come and lead the zealous to the land of angels."

This is a book to lie quietly on a coffee table until a seeker reaches out to its pages. I hope it will bring joy in times more troubling than I ever imagined they might be.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

We - Artists and Writers - Need Each Other

"Pathway to Tomorrow" watecolor/canvas ©Mary Montague Sikes
As both a writer and an artist, I spend a lot of my time alone. Mostly, I am standing in front of my computer. (Thank you, VariDesk, for the sturdy, adjustable computer desk that has never been moved down to the sitting position.) I write, and I comment on social media. That way, although alone, I am connecting with others, often those people I have never met in person.

When I write, it is important to me that I create meaningful words--words that can provide hope and inspiration for others. That is why I have painted images and written the words for a new book, intended to inspire.  

Spirit Visions and Soul Songs is composed of paintings and poems that came to me intuitively. Both the images and the words inspire me, and I hope they will inspire others as well. These are meditation paintings that can bring focus.

My artist friend, James Warwick Jones, shared a quote today from Edgar Degas, "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."

Those words explain my book. I would add that the written word inspires visions as well. Visions come from the spirit as do the songs of the universe.

My painting, "Pathway to Tomorrow", is the cover art for the book. I believe this piece is perfect to indicate what the reader will discover between the covers.

We need each other. All of us do. We need to inspire one another.

Friday, September 28, 2018

There's Something About Cold Wax Painting

"On the Crowded Streets" - Oil, Cold Wax - ©Mary Montague Sikes
There's something about Cold Wax Painting that intrigues me. I started out long ago, first working in pastels and then oils. The buttery quality of the oil paints was nice. I liked that they didn't dry right away, so changes could be made later on with the paint still wet. That it didn't dry right away was also a quality that I disliked because the paints easily got muddy.

In those days, I was mostly doing portraits and figurative art. Because I used turpentine to thin the paint and to clean brushes, an annoying dullness became part of the images. I also disliked the odor of turpentine that permeated our house when I painted. It was with great excitement that I discovered acrylic paints. I eventually gave up oils completely and never looked back until recently.

After reading a lot about the cold wax medium, I decided to try it. When I took a workshop at Crossroads Art Center in Richmond with Lisa Boardwine, I was completely hooked. I loved building up layers of oil paint mixed with cold wax--Lisa calls it creating history, then using a variety of tools to remove portions of the surface. More layers of paint add to the history, and then begins the mystery of discovering the imagery that lies hidden beneath the colors.

Mixing cold wax and oil is really a fun way to paint. Best of all, cleanup is with odorless mineral spirits. I can incorporate my love of making a textured surface by using the cold wax over the heavy professional grade gesso I can still get from Utrecht. Experimenting with Cold Wax Painting is truly intriguing. I'm excited about my new work that includes "On the Crowded Streets" above.