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Tag Archives | acrylic painting

Bees in the Hive, You Know How I Feel!

The Organization of Bees © Jen Norton

The Organization of Bees

School is out today, which means my house is bursting and buzzing with about 10 extra teens, mostly girls. Energy, laughter, food on the floor and makeup strewn all over the bathroom… How do so many kids, each manageable when isolated, become such a force of chaos en masse?

Compare that with bees…also female…who buzz en masse, seemingly in chaos, but who actually live quite ordered and productive lives. They each know their job. They don’t get distracted like we humans. Like our children, our lives are intertwined with theirs. Their seemingly small movements literally support this planet’s life forms.

Bee photo and sketches

I am currently part of a group show with my Allied Artist West friends up at Presentation Center in Los Gatos, CA. Our show features paintings either painted on site, inspired by the center or its philosophies, or other beautiful places in California that are meaningful to the artist. I chose to work from a picture I took of their beekeeper tending the bees on the property. When I work from a photo, I first trace everything, including the border. Then, I assign black or white to each shape I’ve traced to make a pattern of lights and darks that I like. In this case, I decided to make the background dark to play up the “hotness” of the day in the foreground. This becomes my roadmap for my painting. I refer back to it often as I add color and texture and all the other fun stuff! Like bees to a hive, I return to it to stay true to my original intent.

I’m pretty sure Presentation Center is going to purchase the original painting for their property. Prints of this piece can be purchased here.

Calling all Lambs, and Bring Your Gifts!

Today’s Advent Art Meditation is from Isaiah 40:1-11  (You’ll have to scroll down a bit to find the right verse)

JN794_Flock in the Promised Land

“The Flock Gathered in the Promised Land”

My daughter has been so over-exposed to art, she just rolls her eyes at the idea of any impending artistic event. There is one exception…she is fascinated with the way impressionist paintings can look messy and abstract up close, but then turn into a whole scene when you step back. I imagine the gift of prophesy is a bit like looking at Impressionism. It’s a step back from the seemingly disjointed mess of everyday life to reveal a larger view of God’s “big picture”.

Isaiah was a prophet who lived about 750 years before Jesus during a time when Israel was faltering and under attack. He may have been born with a gift for observation, but a vision of God enthroned with Seraphim provided him with the passion to use his gifts. His calling was to speak out against the moral breakdown of Jerusalem and advise Israel’s kings to stay true to the promise of God. Not that he met with much success. Rulers often have other ideas of power and righteousness. The kings were better at making quick judgements based on what they saw in the here and now, not going against the political grain for some abstract prophesy. Not much has changed. We’re still prone to impulsive behavior.

God offers a bigger hope to Israel and to us. This verse is about the promise of salvation for Israel in spite of Jerusalem’s suffering. I’m sure it must have seemed a bit abstract at the time. It’s hard to believe in a bigger, better future when you’re embroiled in pain and fear. But that was Isaiah’s calling..to give hope during the scourge. We may wilt and die like the grass and flowers, but God’s Word is eternal. His promise is to gather the “remnant” of believers like a shepherd gathers his sheep, caring for them and holding them close. Out of the mess of life, God promises beauty.

“Grace makes beauty out of ugly things”   — Bono

You can purchase this painting here.

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.

 

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!

Orange is the new White

Jen Norton with her painting of oranges and persimmons

“Four Persimmons” by Jen Norton

One of my favorite things about living in California is the winter oranges that ripen just around the holidays. Our tiny tree went nuts this year, over-producing a juicy sun-kissed crop. Over the last several weeks, we’ve been picking and squeezing the most delicious orange juice, keeping us all healthy through cooler weather. Now the poor tree is almost empty (and perhaps relieved of the added weight), and all those oranges inspired a painting celebrating the orange hues of the season. (it’s the one I’m working on in my home page video!) I think I will call it “Four Persimmons”!

My dog Pattie often works as my in-house critic. Here she is offering her opinion of the piece in it’s early stages. She may have been more interested if the work involved meats.

Pattie critiques my work.

Tomatoes on display

Cherry Tomatoes: $1

“Cherry Tomatoes: $1” by Jen Norton

My painting “Cherry Tomatoes: $1” was juried into the 3rd Annual Int’l Society of Acrylic Painters online show. View the show here.

Juror John Salminen.

An “Ah-Ha” moment about my Art IQ

Ballo dell'alba

Ballo dell'alba (Dance of Dawn) © Jen Norton

(reposted from my former blog) Over the last several years, I have developed this method of drawing with my left hand, free-forming shapes that later become content and parts of other shapes. Sometimes I use this technique to begin a painting. Sometimes I use it to “fix” a painting. Either way, I love the result….the almost mathematical, yet chaotic way that the shapes connect together to create form and content. Organic, tribal…it fascinates me like a PBS special on “String Theory” (yes, I’m geeky). Because it is a very intuitive way of drawing, I can never achieve the same results twice. Sometimes I stand back from a finished piece and think, “Wow, I pulled it off!”. But you know, whenever you get too high on your own horse, God has a way of gently reminding you that He is in control, and His ways are not ours. Such was the case one day when I found myself cleaning my garage….

I came across a drawing my brother Mark had done in high school and given to me. Mark is 10 years younger than I, and has always been fascinated with special effect movies, big-time wrestling and 80s music. We don’t have much in common. He can be focused, obsessed, unwavering…OK, we have a few things in common. In this particular drawing, he had rendered the “Bat Cave”, with in his own personal vision. I had received it graciously, on the surface, and had tucked it among my “old college art”. There it remained hidden for over 20 years, until I was ready to truly receive the gift. So, years later, here I am re-discovering my brother’s work on a hot dusty, garage-cleaning day. It has a familiar feel to my current work…organic shapes, slightly off-kilter patterns that could be seen as chaotic, but that work together. Underlying order. Symmetry. Beauty. Something I have discovered myself, after years of searching. Somehow my brother figured it out way before me. There’s something else I should tell you about Mark. He has Down Syndrome.

Bat Cave by Mark Duris

The Bat Cave © Mark Duris