Daddy's Christmas Angel

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Gardenia Story

"The Gardenia" ©Mary Montague Sikes
Years ago, when I was in high school, my boyfriend (now husband) brought me a beautiful bright white gardenia blossom that he plucked from his mother's flowering bush. Of course, I loved it. So did my mother who later took the then fading flower and worked to root it. That root eventually grew into a new gardenia bush in my parents' yard.

A few years later, Mother brought me some fresh gardenia flowers she had cut from her bush. Although I definitely have a brown thumb, I was successful in rooting one of those flower cuttings which eventually grew into the huge gardenia bush that now lives by our back door.

When spring comes and blossoms fill our bush, I think of both of our mothers. From one special little
©Mary Montague Sikes
gift, many flowers have blossomed. Perhaps eventually more bushes will flower from cuttings grown in other gardens.

That is the gardenia story.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

In My Studio - A Journey to Discover

"In My Studio" ©Mary Montague Sikes
This Covid-19 experience has brought me more time in my artist studio. I sometimes call my special retreat, "Angel View Studio", because the most important view I have there is through the three overhead skylights. There are clouds during the day and stars at night unless they are blurred out by the nearby street light. The art studio view is quiet different from the dozens of trees and the creek and marshland I see from my writing studio window. I am thankful for the views I have from both studios.

Besides the many cold wax paintings I have in various stages of finish, I also have five acrylic paintings underway. Acrylics are a special love of mine. I often enjoy making a pastel painting first, then using it as my working drawing for a larger, much showier piece of art work. Right now, I have the intense Robert Doak watercolors at the ready to use on Yupo. So much to do while I have this unusual opportunity of not going out for meetings and for Wellness classes.

"Studio, Street View" ©Mary Montague Sikes
Eventually, I will need to spend time inside my studio closet where many treasures are secured. I enjoy the forgotten surprises I sometimes find hidden there. An archival storage box for work on paper holds figurative watercolors and a treasure trove of pastel drawings. At one time, I planned to write a second hotels book--More Hotels to Remember--and the paintings for it lie hidden in a drawer. The research for the stories for my book fill bags and filing cabinets in my writing studio. Where did I ever think I would find the time to put all that work together?

"Studio Closet" ©Mary Montague Sikes
Being in my studio is magic. So much to discover. So much to create in my fantasy journey to Xanadu.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Mother and Child Paintings and Sculpture

"Mother and Child" ©Mary Montague Sikes
Early in my art career, I was intrigued by the painted images of "Mother and Child" throughout art history. The intense relationship of the mother with her children fascinated me. As a psychologist, I realized the importance of that initial contact of an infant with her mother. I recalled my early years and my own dependency on my mother as I grew.

The past couple of weeks, I have watched a baby robin hatched from a beautiful blue egg and grown into a fluffy feathered fledgling. All happened thanks to the constant care of its mother, and also its father. How amazing it was to see the male robin demonstrate with his own wings a fluttering flying motion. All the while, the female robin flew back and forth between the branches of a small cedar tree and the edge of a flower pot. This took place quite near an entrance door to our house. Robins are never there normally. The baby flew briefly, but it is now back in the nest still being fed by the adults. It looks a bit forlorn, as if fearful and lonely. Too bad it is an only child.

Babies of all kinds need attention. Mother and Child. That is a theme through life. I love the paintings I did featuring that subject. I cherish the abstract "Mother and Child" sculpture I did in cement and paint during the same time period.

Mother and Child. An universal theme that continues in art and in nature.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Changing Times -- A Gallery Gone

M. M. Sikes at Prince George Open House, Dec. 2019
One of the saddest things to happen during this pandemic is the lost of Prince George Art & Frame in Williamsburg, Virginia. I have been with a Fred Miller gallery since I finished graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University in the early 1980s--first Whitehall, then Prince George. Fred visited my studio, then took me as one of the Whitehall artists, arranged shows and many sales for me there.

After Whitehall closed, I became an artist with Prince George where I had many shows and exhibited my work until the closure in April. I also depended on the gallery to frame my watercolors. Fred gave excellent advice and always stood behind his work. Often, when we were in Williamsburg, we would stop by the gallery just to chat with Fred. He knew all the people in the art world there, past and present. We loved his stories about travels to Paris and other places.

He had a great website set up for the gallery with a page for each artist, featuring their story and their work. He even made sure the website would work not only on the computer but for the smaller cell phone screen.

For the past several years, Fred has arranged to have an Open House event at the gallery twice a year.
It was this time last year that he held the spring event. Then, what would be his final Open House took place in December 2019. A highlight each time would be his French picnic offerings. He also created still life setups for those of us who wished to paint. Last year, instead of painting from his still life, I decided to put finishing touches on some "Just for Fun" paintings I had started earlier. Now I regret not painting from that final still life.

We always miss another gallery gone. But this is different. This is the loss of an icon from the Williamsburg art scene. We will always remember Whitehall Gallery and Prince George Art & Frame.

This from their website:

Dear friends, after 40 years of providing quality picture framing to Williamsburg, Prince George Art & Frame has closed for business. We have enjoyed working with each of you over the years, starting in 1980 on Prince George Street until our current location in Colony Square on Jamestown Road.

​Thank you for your business and your friendship.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Artful Angels - A Book for These Times

I have always loved angels. In my art, I see them everywhere.

Artful Angels is my book for these troubled times. The paintings in it were created using a variety of materials, including pastels, acrylics, encaustics, and watercolors mostly on my favorite surface, Yupo.

Meditation is important to me. The words--perhaps they are poetry--came intuitively as I studied each painting.

It is my hope that readers will select a painting or a poem and reflect on it, creating their own thoughts and images. Quiet is a good thing. It can bring joy to our hearts and angels into our lives.

Artful Angels in hardcover is available now from Barnes & Noble. It will be available soon from Please find your own retreat in this beautiful book. I would love to know what you think.