primary

The Santa Cruz Grows Seed Library

Seed Cabinet top (detail) by Jen Norton

Seed Cabinet top (detail)

Seems I’m on a bit of a role with this painted furniture work…and I’m having a great time with it! Take a look at my latest art project, the “Santa Cruz Grows” Seed Library. Commissioned by the Santa Cruz Reskilling Expo, this piece will be permanently housed in the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. It features my carved and painted vegetables, herbs and flowers, as well as wonderful poetry by Santa Cruz poet Ellen Bass.*

If you are a local gardener in the Santa Cruz, CA area, you can drop off your properly-saved seeds to the library or pick up any free seeds you’d like to try left by other local gardeners. Don’t know how to save seed? Well then, you should definitely attend the Reskilling Expo, where they will teach you how, plus lots of other sustainable practices. Promote local gardening!

The Seed Library will be officially unveiled at the Reskilling Expo on Saturday, Sept 24, 2011.

Seed Library poem by Ellen Bass

Detail of poetry by Ellen Bass

* Poetry by Ellen Bass for the Seed Library:

And under the earth, the god of roots
Goes on painting the lustrous fringe
With a brush so delicate—
Only one sable hair—as though
There were all the time in the world.

 

Santa Cruz Grows Seed Library by Jen Norton

Seed Library located at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

A Serenade in Lavender

Lavendar and Bee Painted Chair by Jen Norton

Win this chair and benefit the Symphony of Santa Cruz County!

Normally my work is confined to two dimensions, but every once in a while I get to expand my flat universe. Such was the case last week when I was invited to submit a painted chair for the Symphony League of Santa Cruz’s “A Rare Chair Affair.” Creative chairs fashioned or decorated by local artists will be auctioned off on August 20, 2011 to benefit the Santa Cruz County Symphony and their Youth and Family programs.

My friend and marketing expert extraordinaire Kirsti Scott provided a nicely-crafted but worn chair from her garden. Its well-weathered character inspired the French country bee and lavender theme I chose. Working with its inherent grain and personality, I carved, stained, painted and varnished it into a piece of happy cottage charm. It would make a lovely place to sit and sip your morning coffee!

Is this chair destined for your home? Bid on it at the Symphony League’s Gala Reception on Aug 20, 2011 at the Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, CA! Click the links here or call 831-662-8908 or get your tickets to the event. Bee Happy!

—Update: The chair sold at auction, raising over $500 for the Symphony League! It also won a 3rd place prize at the benefit event. —JN, Aug 26, 2011.

 

 

Come to the table

"All Are Gathered" by Jen Norton

“All Are Gathered” by Jen Norton

“Hospitality is one form of worship.”  -Jewish Proverb

This painting began as a demo for a workshop I was teaching with my friend Lorraine. I thought it would be a good class subject simply because it had flowers, some table setting elements and the opportunity to explore color. When I got home and continued to work on it, it began to take on more meaning for me, as my paintings often do.

I was reminded of a passage from Genesis (29:3) “Only when all the shepherds were assembled there could they roll the stone away from the mouth of the well and water the flocks.”  In the story, Jacob has come upon a well covered by a large stone with three droves of sheep nearby. They’re waiting for all the shepherds to arrive and uncover it so they can drink. This is one of those obscure passages that doesn’t get mentioned often, but that carries much meaning. The sheep are waiting. They’re waiting for water to quench their thirst. Only when everyone is ready do they get to drink. If they missed the time when the well was open, they would miss out. They had to be ready.

A dinner party is like that. The table must be set, the wine selected. The food is prepared, the room decorated. Guests arrive hungry, but must wait until the host is ready to serve. Ideally, only when everyone is present and the scene is set is the dinner served.

What if we set the expectation that every dinner should be served when everyone is at the table. No eating in front of the TV or standing alone in front of the fridge. Present, with others. Would it change your experience? How?

Original 24 x 48″, Acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas, $3200
Open edition prints: 5 x 10″, matted to standard 11 x 14 frame size. $25
Limited edition canvas-wrap prints available upon request.

The Heart of a Servant

“Preparation” by Jen Norton

“Preparation”, Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 24"

I’ve been busy putting together my Open Studio show for this weekend, which is much like putting together a big banquet. Each piece must find it’s spot, hung in agreement with the work next to it. Loose artwork must be framed or varnished, dressed up and ready for the party. I want patrons to feel they’ve arrived someplace special and we’re happy they’re here! With the theme of table-setting in mind, I thought I’d share my painting “Preparation” with you today. This piece is all about doing everyday, mundane tasks with a spirit of service. It’s about the unseen workers who put their heart and soul into their work so others can experience something new and wonderful. It doesn’t matter if it’s a concert, a product launch, a benefit event or a simple dinner for your family. To make something out of nothing, someone had to put in time and effort to make it happen. And if they did it with love, they just might create something bigger and better than anyone expected. In my perfect world, we would all strive to approach life from the point of view of a servant.

 

Imperfect Love

Imperfect Loveseat by Jen Norton

“Imperfect Loveseat”, Acrylic on Gessobord

If you’ve ever been to a Christian wedding, you may have heard the reading from 1 Corinthians 13:4-13.*  Real love IS perfect. The ability of humans to practice it, however, is a bit flawed. Stay in any relationship long enough and you’ll find out that egos, insecurities, selfishness and a host of other human impairments get in the way. Like a well-worn favorite chair, what once was fashionable and new can seem a threadbare eyesore. The loveseat in this painting belonged to my grandparents who lived to be 99 and 101 years of age, and were married almost 70 years. By the end of their lives, it looked to be at the end of its as well. The upholstery was tattered, the stuffing was thinner than my grandfather’s favorite extra-crispy bacon, and one leg was threatening to break off. But when I think of it, I remember all the family holidays, sitting with my cousins and sisters on the couch. I remember my grandma reading me stories on it, and then holding my daughter 30 years later while we took our 4-generation-of-women picture. And like their marriage, its bumps and scrapes marked cherished memories, it’s faded cloth told stories of love and support. When I remember the loveseat, I am reminded of enduring love. Their love was as perfect as it gets. Perfect in its imperfections.

*Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish. Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger; neither does it brood over injuries. Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails. Prophecies will cease, tongues will be silent, knowledge will pass away. Our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect. When the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child I used to talk like a child, think like a child, reason like a child. When I became a (wo)man I put childish ways aside. Now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. My knowledge is imperfect now; then I shall know even as I am known. There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of theses is love.

 

Smart Apples

Smart Apples by Jen Norton

Smart Apples, Acrylic on paper, 12 x 12"

Apples and school just go together. I don’t know how many kids still bring their teachers apples now that we have Starbucks gift cards, but the correlation still holds. This piece is acrylic on paper and meant to play up the school-apple connection. Remember learning Cursive writing? And that brown-ish ruled newsprint paper? I performed my “Art Triage” and painted this over an older piece, using it as a base. I love the freeing quality of destroying what no longer suits me, and painting into something that isn’t sacred and white. And in researching apple names to include, I found lists with hundreds of varieties to choose from! Creativity and abundance, it seems, is unlimited in the fruit world. This painting will be available at my Open Studio on May 21/22, 2011.

Time flies when you’re making art

Gift Baskets by Jen Norton Art Studio

Gift Baskets made from Jen Norton artwork. $95-$125

Yikes…I’m looking at the date of my last post, and it’s over a month ago! Well, I have a few excuses, really. There was spring break, of course. And then I’ve been busy madly painting lots of new food-related artwork to whet your appetite at my upcoming spring shows! In addition, I’m now offering gift baskets made from my artwork and I will have some available to purchase and to order at my Open Studio later this month (Mark your calendars for May 21st & 22nd). They’re great for gifts, school auctions, or to celebrate special events. The three shown here were purchased for a recent auction at the Presentation Retreat Center in Los Gatos, CA. I now have Gift Certificates available. Purchase one for Mother’s Day, and let your mom pick out something unique at my Open Studio!

Stay tuned…Later this summer, you might find my gift baskets in my Etsy store. But for now, what do you think of them?

 

May I tempt you?

Fig Biscotti Recipe Art by Jen Norton

Fig Biscotti Recipe, 32 x 18", Acrylic on Claybord

Bite into my latest recipe art…Fig Biscotti! I entered this in a contest on “They Draw And Cook.com,” where it took an honorable mention with the folks at the California Fig Advisory Board. The original is currently available for $1200, and you can also purchase 5 x 10″ reproductions in (11 x 14 matt size) in my Etsy store or in various canvas-wrapped sizes at GreatBigCanvas. Go ahead…let yourself be tempted!

Brown Bread for a Green Day

Irish Brown Bread Painting by Jen Norton

Arán Donn (Brown Bread), 30 x 30, Acrylic on canvas

 

We were treated to some warm, delicious home-baked Irish Brown Bread upon returning from a long, drizzly day of sight-seeing while visiting our good friends in Ireland a while ago. Topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon, or just plain butter, it’s quite a treat. I had to paint the recipe of “Arán Donn”, complete with locally-grown apples and the magpies you often see along the road. There’s an old superstition about the meanings behind the number of magpies you see together. Two is for Joy! Beannachtaí na féile Pádraig…Or, if you’re not up to speed on your Irish, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Want to try it for yourself…here’s the recipe:

6 oz / 175g  whole wheatl flour
2 oz / 50g plain white flour
2 oz / 50g   steel cut oatmeal
1 oz / 25g   wheatgerm
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg
10 fl oz / 275ml buttermilk

mix dry stuff in big bowl
whisk egg in the buttermilk
mix dry and wet stuff
put into buttered bread tin
make a deep cross on top and prick the four corners to let the fairies out! (very important, I hear)

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375F for 50-60mins

Let me know what you think!

PS: You can purchase prints of this piece here. Contact me directly to inquire about the original.

 

Freshly-baked bread!

Bread Recipe painting by Jen Norton

Grandma Mac's Easy White Bread, Acrylic on Canvas

The smell of fresh bread baking was a familiar and comforting aroma at my grandmother’s house. A former home economics major at a time when many women didn’t consider college, she baked fresh bread (and other healthy meals) for her family every week, living to be 101 years old. From her, I learned the comfort of simple, homemade foods and easy conversation around the table. Many times I’ve kneaded my own rendition of her recipe, and I’ve never been disappointed. In her honor, I painted this very special piece featuring her “Easy White Bread” recipe combined with the colors and motifs of her kitchen plates. I’ve tried many bread recipes since, and this is still my favorite (my cousins will confirm it makes fabulous toast). And no kidding, it’s easy!

In the spirit of encouraging others to cook more at home with basic ingredients, I want to share the recipe with you in the form of a 20 x 20 Limited Edition gicleé canvas-wrapped print. Because the canvas wraps around the 1 and 3/4″ stretcher bar, the artwork has a modern look with no framing needed. The ready-to-hang artwork is coated with a UV protection to prevent fading. Order through my Etsy store, or directly by emailing me with your interest through the contact page on this website.

Here’s to heart-warming, homemade bread!