Tag Archives | art print

Love is Patient…

“Patience” © Jen Norton, acrylic on canvas

The painting above is titled “Patience,” one of the nine fruits of the spirit bestowed upon us by the Creator.

In the U.S., Mother’s Day is coming up and I think most of us would agree that the vocation of motherhood requires a lot of patience.

Moms are the primary teachers and authorities on how to interact in the world with grace and compassion. Our moms encouraged us to share, assured us that our identities were not defined by what our friends thought of us and offered forgiveness “seventy-times-seven”-plus. In adulthood, the selfless service our moms becomes crystal clear as we raise our own children.

No one can influence family life like a mother, yet the job is often willingly given away to other children, schools, media or corporations. Maybe people just don’t know how important the job is because there’s no money tied to it. Maybe some are jealous of the power of mothers. Maybe their own mothers weren’t able to teach them its worthiness.

I’m not talking about getting help if you work outside the home. I’m talking about the deeper stuff…having the talks around the table or in the car where the family’s beliefs are passed on and a child learns her value. I’m talking about the impact of living your life with integrity so daughters and sons have high expectations of themselves. There are just jobs that should not be farmed out, and mothering is one of them.

Without mothers, we might be strong, but we might not learn how to serve.

Without mothers, we might be able to deal with fear, but we might not learn to comfort.

Without mothers, we might know what to die for, but we might not learn what to live for.

Without mothers, we might have a house, but we might lack the creativity that makes a home.

Without mothers, we might know honor, but we might not learn our faith traditions.

Without mothers, we might know what is right, but we might not know how to be kind.

We live on a planet desperately lacking in enough peace and compassion. It’s not that the resource is depleted. It’s just that we don’t always empower our best teachers, our moms, to feel good about teaching it. The currency of thoughtful children and a peaceful home should be honored more than the power of paper money, but that is not always the case. Yet mothers soldier on anyway, with unending patience. Go Mothers!

Purchase a matted print of “Patience” here or an art card here.

See more stories by artists who love their mothers here:

Bless This (Colorful) House

Colorful Irish Town Houses

“All is changed, changed utterly;  A terrible beauty is born.”
–WB Yeats in his poem Easter 1916.

The most deeply beautiful things of this world are often formed from a mix of grace and pain. It’s true of art, of people, of family. And it’s certainly true of Ireland. As my Irish grandmother used to say, “Into every life, a little rain must fall.” My ancestors may have emigrated the US over 150 years ago, but there are “bits and bobs” of Irish-ness that flow through my blood, still. I’ve been lucky to spend about six cumulative weeks over the last two decades on the emerald isle where I’ve come full circle to confront the paradox of my own soul: the indivisible combination of beauty and hardship common to us all. More than the green fields, castles and cable-knit sweaters, it’s the incredibly poetic illustration of the human spirit that is Ireland that makes us romanticize it so much. I feel it in the undertones of the bodhrán and bagpipes in Irish music, in the crisp wind and driving rain necessary for unbelievably green fields, and in the skillful craftsmanship of a U2 lyric.

This little painting is of my memory of the rural towns encountered throughout Ireland. In typical Irish style, stone buildings are painted all kinds of fun colors normally reserved for foggy seaside towns. Homes and businesses displaying every color of the rainbow are butted up right against the road in structures clearly built before cars were the norm. The weather may be gray and dreary, but you can’t help but smile at the colorful homes along the way. Terribly beautiful in their own weathered way.

Celebrate a bit o’ the Irish with me for St. Paddy’s Day! I’ve got beautiful prints of my Irish town houses with a special house blessing available here.

Find Yourself on the Road Less Traveled

Following Your Creative PathOne of my daughter’s friends recently remarked about my daily attire, “Jen, you’re like a pre-schooler. You don’t care what you wear!” It’s true…I’m sure I’m lowering my neighborhood’s property values by wearing 20+ year-old sweats and paint-stained t-shirts. On most days I get paint, food, dog slobber and dirt on me, so what’s the point? Of course there are times I put more effort into my appearance out of respect for the other humans who must come in contact with me or to present an image consistent with my art. But in general, my identity is not tied to how I look. I travel lightly. I have Art to thank for this freedom. Because of my years of making art, I have had reason to shut out the world for a time, reflect on what I believe, put those beliefs into tangible form, and inspire others. My creative path has led me to a place where my identity is tied to the content I want to leave behind, not in how I look.

As you might imagine, my version of fashion sense is a mysterious phenomenon to my teenage daughter and her girl friends. In their newly-forming world view, all questions of identity must be solved by editing one’s appearance. Every day I am confronted with the effects of a world less kind to women first-hand when these otherwise intelligent and beautiful girls are overheard questioning whether or not they need plastic surgery, complain that they’re too fat, refrain from eating in front of boys and spend every cent they have on beauty supplies in hopes of making themselves acceptable. They lack confidence in trying something new, pre-determining that others already do it better. Even in a home like ours where we are conscious of this negative mindset, it’s a hard beast to tame. In the prime teen age of identity development, it’s a daily battle.

I paint subjects of home and family in in hopes of re-addressing our shunned “feminine” qualities in some small way. I believe the things like laundry, daily cooking and nurturing children normally labeled as “women’s work” should be elevated to the place of highest honor, no matter which gender does them. They are the ultimate Fine Art, with a capital F and A. Why? Because they provide the connection that keeps our girls from becoming less than they should be. Because it’s hard for daughters to pursue their own dreams if they valued the work their mothers or grandmothers did in raising them as less important than their father’s paycheck. It’s hard to change the world when you don’t feel you’re pretty enough to walk out the door. These are the lies that stop up our girls, and these are the conversations I hope to facilitate through my art.

There is so much in mainstream life that tries to strip away a girl’s sense of self. We have to choose daily to step out and follow a different path, a more life-giving one where we tell our own stories. Where are you meant to go? There are better roads to be found.

PS: I was inspired to write this blog after viewing MissRepresentation, a film by Jennifer Siebel Newsom about the messages girls inherit from our media culture. Check it out if you relate to what I’ve written.

PPS: Would you like to purchase a print of my Creative Path art? Check my Etsy store!

PPPS: No one ever questions my husband’s fashion sense and his sweats are older than mine.

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.


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.