ART!!!! What inspires my art? What gets the juices flowing? EVERYTHING!

ART!  What inspires my art?  What gets the juices flowing?  EVERYTHING!

It is 10a.m. the last Friday morning of January.  I have only been awake for two hours.  I slept in.  I celebrate January as my birthday MONTH!  The combo of new year and another year older really gets me jazzed.  It is hard to paint during the holidays (and with company) so January is an explosion of creativity.  Here are some of this morning’s inspirations screaming for me to pick up my paint brushes:

·         bright ¾ moon at 4 this morning
·         coral sunrise through the condensation on my windowpane.
(Note to self: consider looking out my window less when I am supposedly sleeping.)
·         momma cardinal on my window sill
·         tiny  bird with yellow belly
·         sunshine and books
·         Morning prayers
·         cell biology
·         paint splotches on the top of my drafting table
·         Himalayan Splendor loose leaf tea

·         amaryllis blossom in the whiskey jigger
·         dried orchid blossoms
·         treehouse squeaking with the wind
·         Trader Joe’s vanilla wafers

It might be easier to ask what DOESN’T inspire!   Email.  Email doesn’t inspire nor does that show application, due on the 5th of February.   Schedules.  Schedules and I are currently holding negotiations.  We are looking for a win/win option.

What inspires art?   It is the universal artist question.   Artists hear it so often we sometimes forget that it is a valid, sincere question.

Focusing on non-objective work enables me to better understand the question.   I used laugh at the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art.  I did not get it.   Yves Kline was the biggest mystery for me; the dude patented a color!  Seriously?  I attended a few lectures and BOOM! Yves and I are best buds.  Soul mates!  I GET IT!    (

Learning the inspiration, the concept, and the story behind the work or even behind the artist has made more and more art accessible to me through the years.   (The little yellow bellied bird is back!) 

I am currently going back through my website and attempting to verbalize the inspiration, emotions, circumstance behind the works.   I want you to GET IT.

My fear is that by verbalizing MY stories I won’t leave room for YOUR stories.  

This doesn’t happen when we stand side by side looking at a painting.  When we stand side by side stories flow in both directions.   My concern is that when you are looking at work online, if you read the story of the painting it will inhibit connecting YOUR story to the painting.

Fifteen years ago I was painting live as part of various worship teams.   It was collaborative.   People attached their stories to the painting as it developed and were anxious to share their interpretations with me as soon as the gatherings were over.  (Every once in a while someone would come up on the stage and tell me right then and there!  Not cool!  Once I asked the sharer to go share with the pianist and we could share afterwards.  OOPS!)

Studio painting has its benefits, I can spend 40 hours on a painting now rather than 45 minutes, but I do miss the sharing.  I miss hearing what the viewer felt and what the viewer sees in the works.  I miss the back and forth.

IDEALLY, we should be able to have a back and forth via the internet and social media.   I post a lot of work in process images on Instagram and I get some feedback there.  I would love to hear from you on my Instagram account .   My Facebook page is very similar to my Instagram account but with more finished work and blog links and some sharing of articles and artists I find interesting.  It is easy to post on the Facebook page and have a conversation about a work of art.

I would love to hear from you.  Your comments don’t have to be all roses and sunshine.

So, what inspires my art?   Life.  As cliché as that sounds, it is the truth.  I paint my life and in doing so I sincerely hope I am also painting your life.  I paint my hope that God holds entirety together and that the end product will be beautiful.  I paint beautiful, not necessarily pretty, paintings that hold out hope that our stories will have happy endings.  Happy endings even if we can not see that possibility now.

I am 55.  It seems significant to me.  Twenty-six days into 55 I am carrying a myriad of emotions.  I am very happy.  I am also very hurt.   I am confident.  I am afraid.   I am strong.  I ache.  I am 55.  I have at least 75 more years’ worth of art projects still bottled up inside of me.

Fifty was significant to me.  Half way through my 50th year my niece, the firstborn of her generation, was killed.   I went into a mourning for my niece, for my sister, and for myself.   I was mourning for all that was lost and all that would never be and it was very nearly crippling.  I could not taste food for five months.  Disconnected from my body, life was surreal.  My celebration year turned quickly into a year of self-evaluation and much of it was not kind.  My acupuncturist (thank you Barbara) brought me back into myself.   She reconnected my emotional and physical self.  The sense of taste returned and I looked out from inside of myself rather than looking at myself.   And I was only the Auntie.   My heart is raw tender for those who have lost children.   It turned not only my heart but my art.

2016.  It is five years later.  Looking back I can see a lot of work, a lot of growth, a lot of hiding.   This year, twenty-six days into my 55th year, I am coming out of hiding.

How?  I am journaling (HALLELUJAH!  Journaling is like breathing for me and I quit after Lauren died.  I also quit polishing my toe nails.  Maybe I’ll give that a go, too!)  I am POSTING the blogs rather than just writing them!  I am connecting with old friends and making new friends.  I am even CONSIDERING leaving the house to attend art openings again where I might actually have to interact with other human beings.

It has occurred to me that invisibility might not be the best business strategy. 

As I stick my neck out of my shell (I won a turtle award a quarter of a century ago for being a slow starter, I prefer late bloomer) take a chance and stick your neck out with me.

PLEASE share YOUR THOUGHTS and YOUR STORIES.  One story inspires another.  It is how we connect at a human level.   We begin to see ourselves in each other.  Not separate tribes, but a global village.   Pour a cup of tea, fix a pretty plate of ginger thins (Girl Scout Cookies will work, too) and let’s share together.    I want to hear your story.   Invite your friends to join us.   I am hopeful that as I navigate the waters of show venues we will have the opportunity to visit and share in person.    My fingers are crossed (which makes typing really hard!)   I hope to see you soon and I hope you bring friends.  I’ll bring the art and the cookies!

Peace out!  Gwen

Loving Somebody Who Doesn’t Want to be Loved

This post needs a soundtrack. I could hear the Beatles while I was writing this.  Here is a nice link so you can hear it, too.

Love, Love, Love…
All you need is love……

Unconditional love.


Sometimes love is not enough.
Sometimes nothing is enough.
Sometimes nothing is the most loving thing you can do.

I was born a fixer.
First born.

I know I can’t fix everything.
I KNOW it.
I don’t believe it.
There is shame when I can’t fix the proverbial IT.

Last night I gained some clarity.
Appropriated some wisdom.
I ALMOST believe that IT was not my fault,
At least not in whole.
I ALMOST believe that I can let IT go.
I ALMOST believe I can move on,
Free and freeing.

I did the best that I could in that moment.
THEY did the best they could in that moment.
I ALMOST believe that.

Nothing can be changed.
I can offer forgiveness.
If forgiveness is not returned,
I can forgive myself.

I am free.
Most days.
Most of the time.

Free to love
with no expectation of reciprocation.

Directional Kindness in 2016

Happy New Year!   As mundane an expression as that is, it is most often delivered with sincerity.  Friend or foe, I sincerely wish you a happy 2016.

Yes, I know that January is trending towards February and the stores are already pulling out Valentine decorations, but it is STILL January.  A new year.  A new beginning.  A fresh start.  The world collectively contemplates what has come transpired and what might be.   We look back and we look forward.

  The New Year is a good thing to pause and evaluate life, to make course corrections and embrace possibility, but the New Year is NOT the only time and it is not necessarily the best time.    

Mornings are opportunities for micro-evaluations and course corrections, but mostly mornings belong to routine and auto-drive or no one would make it out of the house.

First of the month.  Bigger than the morning but smaller than the New Year is the first of the month.  Twelve opportunities to pause, evaluate and make course corrections.

Seasons are bigger than months and more fluid.   Some places get four distinct seasons while others just get two or three.   Do you have a favorite season?  Do you, COULD you tie a new beginning to your favorite season?

Birthdays, like New Years, are singular opportunities.   Although they come around annually, they are never the same.  I was 55 on the 3rd.  It feels significant.  A new year, a new age, a new season of life.

Death is a cruel opportunity for course correction.   Mortality is not something most of us consider on a daily basis.  When death of one near or dear interrupts our routines, it is an opportunity to contemplate personal mortality and consider personal legacy.   Politicians do it.  Maybe we should, too.

I could go on and on but (HOORAY!) I won’t.   The moral of this story is that our lives are filled with opportunities to start fresh.   I am not saying that we can nor should avoid the consequences for our choices.  I am saying that there is power and there is mercy and there is grace in new beginnings and we don’t have to wait for a new year. 

Set aside a time and seek out a place to pause, evaluate, and calculate a course corrections.   Pause long enough to discover where we are and to remember where we are going.  Minor course corrections, early, will impact on the trajectory of a life.  Less correction is required the sooner the flaw is discovered.

Museums are a good place for contemplation.   The artwork allows you to see the world, be it landscape, still life, portraiture, or abstraction, through the eyes of another.  Art enables us to see ourselves in and through the work.  Take a journal.  You might be surprised where the art and your heart take you when you visit a museum.

Nature is the number one worldwide place for reconnecting with one’s self and direction.   New research is showing that our brains work differently exposed to nature.  EVEN a potted plant (not a pot plant but maybe that, too) can reduce cortisol (stress hormone.)  Take a pencil and a journal.  Write. Sketch.  Listen.  Hear.  Record.

Cozy places, be they at home or in a favorite coffee spot, make room for contemplation and new beginnings.   Again, the journal.  (3×5 cards work well, too.)

There is a kindness to a fresh start.   We usually think of kindness as something extended to others.  That is important, but what I am speaking of is kindness to oneself.   Allowing ourselves to pause.  Allowing ourselves to look back and to look forward, not with judgement or condemnation, but with love and kindness.  Allowing for and enacting course correction is vital.

I have been painting for over 30 years.   I assumed being a good painter would be enough to earn my living painting.  It is not enough and I am making those course corrections and learning to share my art (and my heart) with those outside my circle.   Thank you for journeying with me.



The Holidays are OVER!  YOU MADE IT!
Wait, WHAT? Aren’t the holidays supposed to be magical? 
 Yes.  Yes, except when they are not.
Recently I read:

What does that mean?   It means that EXPECTATIONS defeat happiness.
Expectations move us out of the present into the self defeating land of
Could’ve Should’ve.   
A steady diet of Disney-esque fairy tales, romance novels, movies, white knights and sunsets has us believing that happy-endings are our due. 

Fairy tales, romantic novels, movies, gleaming armor and sunsets are not bad things.
Expectations, though, can be devastating.
Expectations rob from the present moment.
Expectations keep us from enjoying the here and now

when the here and now is all that we really have. 

As my Grammie Hannan used to say,
“The world doesn’t owe you a living.”
She also told me not stir poo with a stick.

This is not the blog that I expected to post on January 3rd, my 55th birthday.  That blog was light-hearted with clever reminders that holidays are hard for many (most) folks and offer a reminder to give yourself a pat on the back for making it to the other side of the holidays.   If I had posted that blog on January 2nd it would have been fine.  The next day it was not fine. 

Backstory:  All six children (including two spouses) were here for Christmas day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.  The 2nd I was back to work writing the aforementioned brilliant blog and painting on a new painting.  The next day, my birthday, was a good day.  After supper I dusted off my internet connection and, while trying to remember my password, I allowed Facebook to distract me. 

A photograph in my feed took me back almost 40 years.

The photograph was of a high school classmate, Gloria, at a football game, but something was wrong with the uniform.  The headline didn’t make sense until I realized that it was not Gloria, but her daughter Sara Mutschlechner.  Sara, 20, a UNT (University of North Texas) student, had been shot in the head while driving friends home from a New Year’s Eve party.   Sara was dead.  The descriptions of Sara sounded like they were describing her mom.   The world shifted.   

Sara and her parents Gloria and Clay made it through Christmas, but now Sara, their only child, was dead.   I began weeping.  And not just for Gloria and Clay.  I wept for my sister, and my cousin.  For Pam, Jeff, Dianne, and Melodie.  I wept for the ones I love who have lost a child.

I was contemplating unspeakable loss.
Unimaginable loss that we all imagine.
A loss with no name.  An alienating loss.
I claim that my paintings represent stories of hope.  I claim to make paintings reflecting nature and journey.   Paint laid down like seasons.  Past seasons shaping but not defining the present.  The present influencing but not determining the future.   Clear medium stretching the  space between applications of pigment marking the passage of time. 

Some layers are hidden during the process while others remain visible, even if only partially, through completion.   Each choice influences the next.  The impact of the unseen layers ripples through the painting. 

I work with the painting, I fight with the painting, until chaos is resolved and beauty revealed.

It is easy to say art is a metaphor for life.

It is easy to claim art has a power to affect lives. Do you know what is not easy?  Hope.  


Hoping that my claims are true.
Hoping that others can find their stories in my work.
Hoping that, finding themselves,
they will be imbued with hope for their journey and their beautiful end. 

Are my claims valid?
Can hope be represented with pigments on paper?
Is there anything more hopeless than losing a child?  

I watched Clay and Gloria share their hearts on the news, professing gratitude for the 20 years they had with Sara.  They are people of faith.  They are clinging to hope.  I am a person of faith.  I am clinging to hope.   As a community we are clinging to hope because expectations always let us down.  

Maybe the equation is not one of subtraction but of addition.