Daddy's Christmas Angel

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


Monday, October 5, 2020

Listen to the Sounds

Spirit Visions ©Mary Montague Sikes

“Listen to the sounds of birds and flowers.”

A few years ago, when I was planning my program presentation for the World Healers Conference in San Diego, California, those words came to me in a meditation. During that conference, I gave a demonstration of how I create meditation paintings for people who request them. Those words helped me plan my part of the event.

Words often have meaning beyond the obvious, so sometimes we need to stop and think hard before we speak or write. That is especially true for me when I am painting or creating intuitively.

“Listen to the sounds of birds and flowers.”

If you live in the woods, like I do, you hear the birds a lot, especially in the early evening. Do we pay attention to their chirping or agitated cries? If we listen closely, perhaps we would learn to understand what they are saying. Some people, especially birdwatchers, study the sounds of the birds and have learned a lot doing so. It is interesting to read that birds learn songs from their parents, usually the father. Often bird calls are designed to claim their territory.

Flowers make sounds, too. Some plants emit high-pitched cries when their branches are cut, or so I have read. I haven't heard a flower or plant cry out, but I believe they do, in a pitch too high for us to perceive. 

"Spirit Visions", my watercolor painting on canvas, is the cover art for my book, Spirit Visions Soul Songs. I've included it here because I think of the sounds of birds and flowers when I look at it. 

Study the painting and perhaps you will hear them, too.


Friday, September 4, 2020

Importance of Childhood

Walkway at Mary Washington

When I was a young child, I had no idea how important childhood would be for the rest of my life. I just wanted to hurry through it, so I could be in control. Now, I am grateful for the religious background my mother gave to me. I am glad she put me on the church cradle role. I appreciate the big words that she used with me when I was a toddler and that she took me with her everywhere. That background has enriched my career as a writer.

Growing up in an historic city was an advantage, I think. There were museums and antique buildings everywhere. At the time, I didn’t appreciate playing on the grounds of Kenmore, but being there and listening to the guides describe the ceilings and the walls of the old mansion and tell about its history was an amazing gift. I lingered in the separate building that served as the colonial kitchen and watched the maids make gingerbread.

 We lived for a few years in a house just below Sunken Road. That historic road was where a terrible battle was fought during the Civil War and thousands of lives were lost, mostly those of Union soldiers. When walking along that black tar-surfaced street, you struggled with a heavy heart in the darkness left by those bloody times. Somehow, I mostly avoided playing near that street.

 Even the floors of the school I attended, located on the banks of the Rappahannock River, possessed dark memories of tragic times. Used as a hospital during the war, the blood stains were still there, embedded in the wooden floors of the elementary school classrooms. It was a dingy old building, located 12 blocks from my home—a long walk for a young child.

 Living just beyond the entrance gate to Mary Washington College had its advantages. Many of the college professors were our neighbors, and most of my friends were their children. I loved spending my days playing in their yards and learning from them. A music professor lived nearby, and I remember watching, through an open door, college students practicing on the beautiful golden concert harp he had in his home.

My uncle owned the horse stables used by the college. Sometimes when I visited my cousin, we would walk to the stables and watch the handsome thoroughbreds train.

 In late childhood, when my family moved away from the city to a small town, located on three rivers, it was difficult for me. I missed my friends, the horses, and all the historic places. For a long time, I corresponded weekly with my best friend, the daughter of a chemistry professor at the college.

 Mine was the tale of two childhoods—one very different from the other.