Paintings From The Past

Today’s post comes from Cynthia in Mahtowa

I don’t often talk about my paintings or my painting that stopped years ago.  Recently, however, I mentioned on the blog of selling a couple waterRed Roostercolors to Robert and Ruth Bly.

Barbara in Robbinsdale and Plain Jane asked to see photos of them and suggested writing and posting photos here. So, here goes.

I painted often in the late seventies and early eighties, then stopped when my marriage ended and I had to get a day job full time. My time being with and inspired by my animals diminished, while other activities, needs, demands took its place.

I first painted in oils. Then in the early eighties I met a woman Minute Goat plus1whose watercolors I admired, so I began taking lessons with her, then spent time painting with her, building a friendship and learning techniques from her.

Now that I am retired, will I return to drawing and painting? I think about it, but hesitate…fear, perhaps, that the skill is diminished or has atrophied with time? Yet to be answered.

 

What have you created … and kept?

 

84 thoughts on “Paintings From The Past”

  1. Very nice paintings, Cynthia. I liked to draw when I was young. That interest didn’t develop to the point of producing anything that I saved or that was worth saving. In the 60s I discovered macrame and made some macrame wall hangings that we used to decorate the walls of our home. None of those hangings are on our walls presently. I think we must have one or two of them stored some place.

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  2. you have a nice touch cynthia, the feei comes through.
    i used to paint a bunch in the 70’s
    acrulics sone watercolor loced pastels and oil crayon
    in the 80’s and 90s a couple of keepers and i got a couple canvases done last year. not done but rolling, id start and leave them put to be inspired to finish and my wife eould put everything ehere it was supposed to be, so they are in process
    i love doing art
    thanks cynthia
    good reminder to get it outsmd get back at it.

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  3. Thanks, Cynthia, what lovely work. I do hope you take it up again, especially if you enjoy the process.

    As to my own creations that I have kept? Hmm. There are several pieces of jewelry (metalsmithing), a couple of ceramic pots, a weaving sampler, one small mosaic, and a couple of acrylic paintings. I was really checking out the studio arts classes my first couple of years at the university, but concluded that I didn’t have a great career ahead of me in arts, so I quit.

    My creativity these days is limited to the kitchen where any evidence of my prowess – or lack thereof – quickly disappears.

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    1. the problem with the arts is that people thik it needs to be a career. or that you need to be a pro. instead make it a little ditty that you can pull out like a glass of lemonade on a hot summers day just to enjoy, i took a drawing class early in my art experience and was working really hard on making a leaf look just like a leaf and the teacher came up and watched for a while and said you are working so hard on making it look like a photograph… if you want a photograph get a camera, look at the wonderful feel you have achieved. it feels better than a photograph it is your impression today of what it feels like to be a leaf. and my art world changed

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        1. i wish i played other songs on the piano as well as the one i go to as my piece when i sit down and have been diddling with for 30 years. i enjoy the heck out of that one and the people around me have been good enough not to beat me up for playing that song again. i have a cello waiting for m, a trumpet waiting for me a sax waiting for me and guitars and bass guitars all over my house for when the moment strikes. it does regularly but not nearly like it would if it were a vocation. i am a living room musician, i play for me and if you happen to be around maybe ill play for you too.

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      1. I agree, tim, and I don’t think of art that way. I do think, however, that very few of us can afford a four year college education in pursuit of some esoteric degree that will not give us the knowledge or skills to earn a living. But by all means, find a creative outlet if you’re so inclined.

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  4. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Love these animals, Cynthia. I have bunches of stuff that I make and save awhile, then throw out in spasms of cleaning out junk. A few sculptures I display. The Recreational Therapist at the Memory Care unit where my mother lives bought a set of the books I make with her stories and my drawings. He reads them to the residents every week. He says, “It’s Memory Care! They love the stories, but they forget so I can retread them and retread them.”

    Artists hoard all kinds of things and need put the brakes the stuff now and then. Donating work to charity auctions is often a great place to load the stuff.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. does the memory care person know the special place music holds in that arena?
      i have seen stuff showing that people who remember nothing can sing the songs they grew up with. something magic makes it stick. h
      have the instructor include a sing along every week and it will blow them away

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, he has a music program. One resident even played the trombone. They got him a trombone and had him play it on the unit. They sing, they listen, they participate in all of it there. Nice facility.

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  5. In my art student years I never felt brave enough to attempt water colors – I preferred acrylics that I could paint over quickly if I didn’t like what was on the canvas. Yours are lovely Cynthia.

    As for what I have kept…the once piece that has followed me around and is not in storage is a bronze sculpture I made in college. Sort of a Henry Moore-esque affair. Honestly, I probably spent too much time on the clay that became the basis for the mold, and she is not quite how I hoped she would turn out even with that. But she is a reminder to stick up for your work and how you think. My sculpture professor rode my tail a lot while I was working on it, warning me against making it too precious, being a bit of a bully sometimes. When it came time for the conference in his office that was part of your grade, I was able to explain that sculpture for me was like the sets I built – I was working into an empty space to shape the space and create shapes, which turned out to be exactly opposite of how my professor thought of sculpture (he worked primarily in stone, so started with a solid object and created space into it). With that bit of verbal obfuscation about why I spent so much time on my sculpture (or, with the positive spin: defense of my process and work), I impressed the prof and squeezed an A- out of him. Phew. So that heavy bit of bronze follows me around to remind me that my vision and work is mine and only mine, I should be proud enough to defend it, and perhaps also just that once I participated in a bronze pour and got to work with hot molten metal.

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  6. Very nice work. My roommate is starting to draw again, after many years thinking she was done with visual arts. She was horrified at how rusty she was, but already it’s starting to come back. I’m sure the exact same thing will happen with you when you pick up a brush again.

    As for what I’ve created and kept, all the poems I’ve finished since college. I’m not prolific, so it’s not much of a sacrifice of space. Writing is the easiest art from the materials point of view–a piece of paper, a pencil, a space to sit down in, and some time is all that’s required. I rather pity sculptors…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. i get pissed when i see an artist consider the art based on what someone else views it as.
      i dont like most peoples views of art and can not imagine having to paint to please the taste that likes the things they would choose.
      i have a new thing going on with my computer and when i turn it on new pictures come up and ask me if i like them. i dont hate them but the cutesy crap the put out as images makes me realize who the world has become. i can put my own slideshow together of stuff i love. a pandora of images. i could dl that. a new idea i can spend hours thinking about until i get an urge to crank it out.

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  7. I’ll reflect on your question later, Cynthia. For now I just want to say I love your work. I respond strongly to the owl, the rooster and (especially) the relaxing dog. You have a good touch. I really like the balance you strike between realism and impressionism.

    If I had money I would try to commission you to do a work I could put up on my bare walls here. That would probably not be a favor to you, for you would have to confront the issue of whether your skills have actually withered over time. But you need not panic! I don’t have money and won’t be challenging you to bring our brushes out of storage.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. A friend did ask me to do a painting of one of their horses not too long ago…they are still waiting. Well, actually, they gave up waiting and found someone else to do it. I had tried a bit, but was frustrated with the image.

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      1. Something that interests me is how some art manages to prove that the artist connects with his or her subject. Your images make it perfectly evident that you enjoy and understand your animals.

        In that context, I was always amused by my father’s inability to design an appealing stuffed toy cat. He was a stuffed toy designer. Over the years my dad created many lions, tigers, panthers and domestic cat stuffed toys. Not one of them made much of an impact. His dogs, by contrast, were wildly popular. Offhand I can think of seven or eight of his dogs that were huge hits with the public. In his private life, my father adored dogs and claimed to “hate” cats. He didn’t, really, but his lack of affinity showed.

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  8. When we lived in Winnipeg I sewed a Harris tweed sports coat for husband. It was a classic coat, lined and tailored like you are supposed to tailor such things. It turned out really well. The cut is out of style and husband has a greater girth now, so he can’t wear it. It is still hanging in the closet.

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  9. Those are great Cynthia!
    I am taking an ‘art appreciation’ class online this semester so I appreciate your work with the water color.
    Do they still do water colors in elementary school? I remember doing a lot of watercolor painting as a kid… school and home. Getting the new metal box of water colors was like the new box of crayons; all shiny and clean. Pretty soon the box was all smudged up and grungy and all the colors were brown.

    I’ve made some wood-working projects that are still around. Some are down in a basement corner, but they’re still around.
    We do have some home remodeling projects that turned out well. Course I see all the miss-matched corners too.

    This week I have special lighting for ‘Fan Appreciation Night’ at the BB game. Fancy, wiggly lighting for the player introductions. It will be fun, but very ephemeral art; over in 2 minutes and over in a burst of smoke that better dissipate quickly and not make the floor slippery.
    But I get to rent some fancy lights and get my Hog lighting console out.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Lovely paintings, Cynthia. Very nice softness with the brush, which lends a certain feeling of kindness to your images.

    I’ve kept lots of crocheted items, some woven pieces, some bead work and some bead embroidery. I’ve written a song or two and a poem or two. Someday, when I retire, maybe I’ll try more writing.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks, Jacque. I will. You are never too far from my thoughts but most days I simply run out of time. I got discouraged for awhile because my phone wouldn’t let me see Trail Baboon.

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  11. What a great question! I’ve had to think a bit, and I am surprising myself with the number of different things I’ve created. There are two quilts (one is my mom’s and needs mending), the illustrated journal I created during my solo train trip (‘nother blog post), a mosaic coaster, a few pieces of clothing, curtains, canned goods, placemats from old greeting cards, a jazz piano piece I had to write in college. Heck, I’m going to walk around the house and see if there’s more.

    Cynthia, these paintings are so beautiful it made me tear up a little.

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  12. Nice work, Cynthia. You shouldn’t hesitate to take it up again if that is your desire. You needn’t worry that your skill has atrophied. You may feel a little rusty at first, hesitant in your approach, and certainly your fluidity will improve with repetition but what really matters is your ability to see artistically and you will never lose that. Your mechanical skills will vary from day to day– some days you find yourself “in the zone” and other days not so much– and over time your point of view and how you manipulate your tools will evolve.
    I love to paint and have done so off and on for decades. For about 10 years, I met with a group once a week to paint. Without a fixed time allocated for painting and without the social context of a group, I find I seldom make the time. If I ever fully retire, I hope that I can resume where I left off.
    One of the problems painting presents for me is that the finished pieces pile up and I’m at a point in my life where I really need to be paring down rather than creating new piles. I don’t have any more wall space and my kids don’t have any more space either. Besides, I don’t want them to feel obligated to display anything I’ve painted unless they really want to. People have suggested selling them, but that’s not something I’ve wanted to get into.
    Getting back to the original question of what I have created and what I’ve kept, I used to do stained glass work and I have a lampshade or two and a flat piece that hangs in our front window. I started that before it became a popular hobby and I used to have to go to commercial stained glass studios and beg them to sell me some glass and lead.
    Back when we were doing Civil War era reenacting, I made all my own garments– frock coats, sack coats, an overcoat, pants, shirts, waistcoats and ties– but when we ceased doing that, I donated my clothing to a friend who supplies costuming to productions.
    My employment has always incorporated art in some form, from rough design to finished illustration, so I am never very far from it. These days I am doing a lot of sketching of new product concepts for big companies. It’s the one area where I can successfully compete with youngsters fresh out of design school.

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  13. Beautiful, beautiful paintings, Cynthia.
    It’s a bit sad to think of that talent being allowed to stop forever. But I certainly understand the fear that it won’t come back.

    I have a sampler quilt that I made for a class and (somewhere, I think) a collage of an owl that I made in junior high. Most things I make (sewn or felted) have been gifts.
    I fussed and fretted over an unusual (and completely created out of my head) quilt I made for my grandson. I looked in every picture my son posted and poked around when I was visiting but never saw a sign of it. Other quilts were in almost every picture.
    I asked several times for them to take a picture of him lying on it but never received one. In quiet times of rumination, I convinced myself that they MUST have thrown it away.
    I found a circuitous way to ask about it and my DIL said it was really more suited for hanging on a wall (and it probably is) but, since the babe still has a crib in their room, it hasn’t been hung.
    So I think it has still been kept.

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  14. Any creativity I have starts and ends with my writing. I often confess to being a third-rate photographer (if that) for I lack the “eye” needed to create good visual art.

    Writing for my magazine was more like work than artistic expression. To generate the volume I needed just to keep putting out magazines meant that I didn’t have the luxury of working carefully. I was just shoveling “stuff” into the great open mouth of the magazine like a mama bird trying desperately to feed her baby birds. I have kept only four old issues of my magazine work.

    Books are different. I used to think of producing a book as resembling giving birth to a child. It took me about nine months of hard work to create most of my books. Happily enough, books are more portable than children. I carried several of my books to Oregon so I can peek at them still from time to time. To be fair, I didn’t bring some of my books because reading them again would not have been a pleasure!

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      1. He’ll probably be too shy….
        Return of the Wolf (this is MY favorite)
        Cry of the Sandhill Crane
        Bluebirds
        The One That Got Away

        There are a couple more – these are the ones I can remember.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Alas, I mostly wrote for outdoor sportsmen, and that stuff has limited interest for people who don’t engage in those activities. The magazine I edited and wrote for went out of business decades ago. I wrote three natural history books. The book on bluebirds is okay. The book on sandhill cranes is better. The book I wrote three times (first edition, then two total revisions) on wolves is the most accessible and readable. It is The Return of the Wolf. It’s still available on Amazon as a used book.

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        1. That which attracted me to your books is that I had zero interest in pheasants, birds, or wolves – but, as I read them, I was drawn in that it felt like I was there, experiencing what you were.

          I have a very gifted brother. A foot print on the world.

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  15. I don’t have much of a talent for such artistic endeavors as painting, sculpture, or sewing. I used to do some needlework decades ago and kept one cross-stitch that hangs on my living room wall.
    My talent seems to lie in music – specifically, accompanying children’s choirs. After a recent performance, Kathy Romey (Artistic Director of the MN Chorale) complimented me on my playing, stating that I have a real connection with the music and the conductor. “You dream the music”. I was on cloud 9 for quite awhile. I hope I keep this ability for a long time.

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    1. Being an accompanist is a rare skill and talent – it’s the ability to not only play well, but follow (and occasionally nudge) the musician(s) you are accompanying. Good on you!

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        1. Renee – I have a tee shirt given to me by two music teachers that says CKA on the front- Collaborative Keyboard Artist on the back. Anna – thank you.

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  16. Lovely work, Cynthia. As others mentioned, I can tell that you love animals. And I agree with others – give painting a try again.

    I’m not very creative. I don’t make much – if anything – that should be kept (homemade bread and such are meant to be eaten, not kept and displayed). I have a few things I wrote – journal-type stuff, nothing like a book or a poem – that I keep in a locked box so nobody will find them. I have some old color slides of pictures I took back in the day – I keep saying I’m going to digitize them, but I’m starting to realize that if I don’t pay someone else to do that, it will probably never happen. I don’t sew, or knit, or do crafts. Really, I’m a pretty useless person! 🙂

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      1. I am keeping some of my photographic work, Bill. Some of it is not worth keeping. I’ve said for years that the trick to getting people to think you are a photographer is to let them only see the good shots. Interestingly, my teacher last semester said the same thing. But that stuff is so recent I wasn’t thinking of that in response to the Cynthia’s question.

        I, too, have a slide scanner. It can also do negatives and prints. I started seriously working on some slides (and, yes, it’s all 35mm stuff) a few days ago, and wasn’t thrilled with the sharpness of the scanned images. I don’t know if it’s the settings I was using or the scanner (Epson Perfection V600). It’s time consuming and I thought if I could whittle down the slides to 100 images, it would be worth it to pay a professional place to do the scanning to get high quality scans. That is, assuming they would get better quality than I would.

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        1. I’ve always believed that the secret of good photography is to shoot a lot and then cull a lot. It’s so much easier now that you are only spending electrons.
          Back when I got my slide scanner- it’s a Nikon dedicated slide and film scanner- it was more advantageous to buy the scanner for a job than it would have been to have them scanned professionally. But the costs for professional services have come down so much that I can no longer compete with them if I’m billing for my time.

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    1. I don’t know you other than here on the blog, but I don’t believe you are a “pretty useless person!” You are a Baboonery…and that makes you a very useful and important part of the universe!

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    2. (“homemade bread and such…) Don’t you realize that making bread ‘and such’ is a very real talent! Yes it is eaten, but it is an art to be able to make those foods! It is good to write even if it is just for you…journaling can also be an art. I don’t know your ability…I’ve not tasted your bread…but never forget each knead…is a talent…an art.

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    3. Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments. I wasn’t serious about my useless person comment (smiley face was supposed to indicate that it was my idea of a joke), but it’s still nice to read encouraging words.

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  17. Cynthia…I believe desire can be present with fear. However… your talent is within…dormant…and now will require practice. Practice to regain the mastery of color & brush strokes working together with your minds eye…that hand eye coordination! Your design eye has most likely grown and developed through the years since you last painted and now it longs to be expressed in your work. So…take out your paper, water colors, pallet & brushes…and PAINT!

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  18. I’ve sold only a few of my photos and posted none of them. There’s so much latitude in the copyright laws right now, it really makes me nervous.

    Did you hear about this story?:
    http://gothamist.com/2015/05/21/artist_steals_instagram_photos_sell.php

    (Said in mocking haughty tone) “Oh, yes. It’s only art if a professional artist declares it to be so. If it’s just one of you plebeians…well, it’s nothing.”

    I have little tolerance for artistic snobbery.

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    1. One of my closest friends, a high school classmate, is Judy Olauson. She wrote a best seller years ago called, “Mother”. It captured her aging mother depicting scenes from the 50s. The cover had her almost nude mom kneeling as a stand for a coffee table. She tells me that she did this project just for fun and never meant for anyone to see them. A New York patron asked for her portfolio and a few of her mother shots accidentally were included. The guy went crazy over them, prompting her to shoot more. This became a best seller – all by accident!

      She is now considered one of the world’s top ten photographers. She contends that it’s all about the lighting in a photograph. She’s photographed Princess Diana and Andy Warhol.

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  19. Cynthia – so beautiful. I’m so envious of folks who can draw and paint; I think I’m still struggling w/ the “you’re smart, your sister is artistic” bent of my youth. Although I do a lot of artsy/craftsy thing, I’ve always shied away from drawing and painting.

    I have a huge basket of cards, copies of ones that I’ve sent out over the years. I make calendars – can I bring myself to toss the years that have passed? Of course not. Egg ornaments – I have a lot and someday when Nimue gets too old to make the jump to the mantle, I’ll put those out again. Other assorted ornaments. Dreamcatchers in my room (I’m up to four). Scrapbooks galore.

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      1. my mom has a group that cuts the good part of the cards off and rubber cements it back on another blank sheet to be reused
        if they are just good to look at go to the frame sales and make them fit into the mat they give you and hang them on the wall

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  20. I guess this would count as kind of artsy-craftsy. I have made six 11X14 photo books on my Mac of trips taken to Japan, China, Thailand, India, Southern Africa, and Kenya/Tanzania safari. Each one is between 50 and 90 pages. A few of my friends have commented that they could easily be coffee table books. I don’t consider myself a great photographer but apparently some folks think I have a good eye for composition. My motivation is that these books take up much less space than an album and with text added, I don’t have to explain every photo.

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    1. Ooh, that sounds cool. In my software class, we learned how to create a book (we didn’t actually get them printed; we just created it digitally). For that assignment, I spent a weekend hanging out with those 2-year-old twins and used those shots to create the book. The whole process was great fun and it was neat to see a finished product (and, I imagine, it would be even more fun to see a printed book). What a good idea to do this with your various trips to faraway places.

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  21. I have no particular talent, but at one time my parents believed that I was very gifted as a pianist. I have a baby grand in my living room facing the lake and haven’t played much in years. I’ll always envy people who can play by ear.

    The saying goes “The quickest way to human joy is: dancing, singing, and laughing”. I think that “singing” includes the arts. I know that when I’m dancing, I’m the essence of joy. These activities all ground people in the moment, in the daunted “now”. One can’t be any place other than this.

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    1. today if you want to play by ear it helps to look on you tube as to how your fingers should be going. type in a song you desire to learn and there will likely be a tutorial on how its played.

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  22. I have a collection of Christmas ornaments I made years ago. Just some baubles made with beads, sequins, toothpicks, lace, ribbons, junk jewelry, and miscellaneous craft items. Some were made from a dough that was popular in the 70’s – it was mixed from flour and salt and water, then formed into shapes and baked. Used to do a little embroidery and crossstitch. I never had an eye for painting or any kind of serious art, though.

    Love the black cat, Cynthia. It is hard to get a good image of a black cat – they usually end up looking sort of like an outline with eyes. But you used the light well, and there’s a lot of substance there. S/he looks a little like my Isabel.

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