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Posts from the ‘Places that inspire’ Category

Evolution of a Painting: Banyan Tree Series- Part 2

Detail from Banyan Tree Painting

A detail from a painting in my Banyan Tree Series.

You’re back!

Thanks for bearing with me on my previous long-winded explanation.  I hope it was helpful in describing how I got from there to here.

Where is here?  Here is taking an idea and creating something out of it.  Those banyan trees became a catalyst for a new exploration in my art.

There was something about those banyan trees that fascinated me.  I think I used the word, ‘audacious’ to characterize them in my blog post from last year.  I wrote:

They grew like weeds on the sides of buildings, through walls, and in the middle of city squares.  They were dense, twisted, and thrust their branches out towards the sun in whichever position pleased them.  Often a thick root would shoot from one of their upper branches into the ground- as if their portly trunk wasn’t enough!

Banyan Tree Detail

I discovered wisdom hidden in the nooks and crannies of the Banyan Trees.

My first step was to do a few sketches to get a feel for the trees and my approach to them.  I found that this was a very loose and freeing exercise, that I could be very liberal in my design and colors because the banyan trees themselves were so varied and diverse.

Banyan Tree Paintings on Paper

Mixed Medium works on paper

I took those drawings further by creating a series of works on paper with watercolors, oil pastels, and other mixed medium.  I spent a few days creating dozens of them, but in the end I only chose a handful of them that I deemed worthy of my vision to sign and frame.

I was itching to get back into my acrylic paints and had a small canvas calling to me.  So I began developing a painting that followed the same path as I had with the works on paper, but found that what works in one medium doesn’t always translate as well to another.  I had to rework it many times to get it to breathe on the canvas.

Spirit of the Banyan Tree Painting

Spirit of The Banyan Tree- 11″x14″- Acrylic

I decided to focus even further into the trees.  The subsequent paintings became more expansive in movement and design, yet honed in on only a small portion of the trees, as if through a magnifying glass.

Spirit of the Banyan II- 16"x19"- Acrylic

Spirit of the Banyan II- 16″x19″- Acrylic

I do want to make mention of a technique that I used in these paintings.  As I was priming the canvas, I embedded natural materials into the paint.  I used feathers, pistachio shells, and sticks- as well as paper and string- to give the paintings depth and texture.

Spirit of the Banyan III- Acrylic Painting

Spirit of the Banyan III

These last canvases are painted with a spectrum of colors that hint at the natural world but aren’t necessarily found there. (At least, not all at once!) The natural world intensified!  I also attempted to create a dialogue among those nooks and crannies of the banyan tree, using multiple layers of paint and even adding a few metallic colors.

The result is playful, exuberant, and full of life and movement.  They are my new favorites!  They look nothing like my first attempts.  Yet, I could not have created them without first developing my previous drawings and paintings.

What’s next?

I’m not done yet!  I still feel as if there is more to explore in those banyan trees.  But I’ve developed a new set of eyes from my trip out West which has inspired me to take more liberties and widen my range.  To quote from this blog post about it:

“…I’ll be experimenting with a wider spectrum of colors and investigating textures, layers, densities, and translucencies.  I’ll be taking more liberties and breaking more rules.”

Landscape out West

The inspiration I gleaned from the landscape out West is sure to infiltrate my future work.

I can’t wait to get started and will be sure to show you my work as it develops.  Perhaps there will be a Part 3 in a few months!  But along the way, be sure to like me on Facebook, where I will periodically post works in progress as well as inspiration I discover in the process.

Have a glorious week!

Exploring the Wild, Wild West

Walking in Arches

You may not have even noticed it, but I skipped a week- following a blog post about preparing for a vacation.

You guessed it!— I went on that said vacation, and now I’m back to tell you all about it!

It was a glorious trip out west!  I had no idea it could be so wild and beautiful out there!!  It sent me on a tailspin from which I’ve yet to recover.

Beautiful Breckenridge, CO

Beautiful Breckenridge, CO

We flew into Denver, CO (to save on 5 days of travel there and back from Ohio!) and picked up our rental van.  Then it was off to Breckenridge, CO to spend a few days hiking and exploring that picturesque resort town.  From there we drove to Leadville, CO where we took a 2 1/2 hour train ride through the Rocky Mountains.

Train through Rocky Mountains

A train ride through the majestic Rocky Mountains

We drove on and set up shop in Moab, Utah, close to Arches National Park and Canyonlands Natiional Park.  Both absolutely, stunningly spectacular!

Hiking through Arches

My husband and son hiking up to one of the many erosion-made rock formations at Arches National Park

Majestic Canyonlands

The Magnificent Canyonlands

I could have stayed a week (who am I kidding, a month!) out there- but we had more to see, so we drove back through Colorado to Mesa Verde National Park, where the ancient ruins of the cliff dwelling Pueblo Indians are located.  Truly Awe-inspiring!!

Mesa Verde National Park

The ruins of the Cliff Dwelling Pueblo Indians at Mesa Verde National Park

From there we drove into New Mexico.  My husband was due to give a talk at a conference in Santa Fe.  This had given us the excuse to go out west in the first place.  So onward and upward we went! (The elevation of Santa Fe is 7,260 ft. above sea level.)

I could live there!  The city was saturated in history, culture, and art.  Art everywhere you turned!  The next chance I get, I’m going back!

Drawing Inspiration at the Geogia O'Keefe Museum

My son and daughter drawing inspiration from the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe

Reluctantly, we headed back North to catch a plane back in Denver.  But before we left, we were able to spend a night in Colorado Springs, and meet up with one of my sisters.  It was a short but rambunctious family reunion with my 3 kids and her 4!

Then it was a few quick stops to see The Garden of the Gods and the famous Broadmoor Hotel before dropping off our well-driven van (that had become a complete pigsty!) and heading home.

View of Garden of the Gods

View of the amazing rock formations at Garden of the Gods

Well, I’m home, but I still feel as if I’m halfway between there and here.  The past few days I’ve been dreaming of the places I visited juxtaposed with visions of home.  I wake up wondering where I am and what time it is.

I’m a little disjointed, but it’s not an unwelcome feeling.  It means I’ve successfully lost myself to another place and gleaned inspiration from it.  I plan to explore that inspiration more next week as I peel back more of the layers from our extraordinary trip.  Please join me.

In the meantime, Have a Gloriously Wondrous Week!

How To Travel Well

Travel Quote by Hans Christian AndersonDo you know what I love?

I love the unexpected circumstances that crop up during travel. Those bits of odd stories and facts that are not included in the guidebooks.

Here are some of my own:

  1. For our first christmas together, my husband and I spent a week in Rome. A truly awe-inspiring city! What I didn’t expect to see were hundreds of ferrel cats roaming around, especially in and around the ruins that were strewn about as if it were construction debris. The Colosseum was crammed with cats- they must have to be photoshopped out of official tourist photos!
  2. Just last year my family and I were able to take an amazing trip to China.  In Beijing, where westerners are still somewhat of a rarity, we were often treated as rockstars and asked to have pictures taken of us, or with us.  My daughter, in particular, was very popular.  So much so, that we had to hide her blonde hair under a baseball cap and shield her from large crowds as much as possible.
  3. When my husband and I were newly married, we bought a 2 week rail pass and travelled through Europe on it.  One of our favorite discoveries was a beer garden in Salzburg, Austria run by monks that gave out liters of beer in huge steins.  It was a place known mainly by locals.  The snack of choice for people there? Radishes!

So how do these stories happen?  Not by planning for them, but by relaxing your expectations and going with the flow.   This is not always easy in an unfamiliar territory where you are not quite sure where or what you are doing.  If there are language barriers, this feeling is confounded.

The beauty of travel is that you are not in your home environment.  Everything is different and so should be your mindset.

I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get the most out of travel.  Want to hear them?


Figures walking through the London Mews

Allow time to wander through the streets

1.  Plan beforehand, then let intuition take over

Apps like Tripadvisor and Yelp make it so much easier.  Getting recommendations from friends and travel blogs is another.  Gather as much information as you can beforehand and start to choose favorites among them.  If you’re going to a city, look for patterns of where the recommendations are located and perhaps find a few good restaurants among them.

File it all away and then reassess when you get there.  You may be tired from the journey or the weather isn’t cooperating.  That’s when intuition takes over so you can pick and choose what will work best given the weather or your state of mind.

2. Be a traveler, not a tourist

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”-G.K.Chesterton

Choose 2-3 main attractions per day, max.  Allow for breaks and meals.  If you cram too much in you don’t experience nearly as much.   Let quality, not quantity, be your guide.

3. Soak it in

Try new foods, talk to the locals, and haggle with the street vendors.  Read local newspapers.  Wander through the aisles of the local grocery store.

There is so much more to learn and experience if you dig a little deeper.

4.  Write it down

Even if your trip seems unforgettable, trust me, someday you will forget!  Find time at the end of the day to jot down the places you went, even if it’s on a back of a napkin or hotel stationary.  Be sure to include the names of the attractions and restaurants that you enjoyed.  Try to remember a few unique moments that you encountered in your day.

Once you’re home and start to recount your trip, you’ll be so thankful that you did this.  (My problem is that I tend to lose those bits of paper.  Don’t do what I do, find a safe haven for all your travel memories!)


Boy leaning against giant eraser

Expect the unexpected

5. Expect the unexpected

Sh*?$ happens!  Illness, bad food, lost luggage, stolen cameras, etc., etc. have happened to most seasoned travelers.  It’s all part of the experience.

So is the kindness of strangers, mouth-watering food, and jaw-dropping vistas when it’s least expected.

My point is, don’t let the bad bring you down and be open to the good.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawharial Nehru

 How do you get the most out of your travels and what are some of your favorite memories from them?

Have an adventurous week!





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