Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Portrait and Symbolism

While at the dermatologist the other day I received news that unfortunately, I expected to hear. A freckle over my eyelid near my lash line had rapidly changed to something different and unidentifiable. Because I have had several suspicious moles removed in the past (most of them having had abnormal cells that generally lead to melanoma) the dermatologist recommended that the mole be removed as soon as possible.
As I mentioned, I have had several of these removed over the last 15 years; over a dozen, actually. All have required stitches and left me quite uncomfortable for several days afterward. But this - this was on my eyelid and there isn't much skin there to begin with so of course, my mind started to race.  My anxiety started to build.
My dermatologist offered to do the surgery in his office but as he described the procedure I immediately said no.  "I'm sorry, but there is no way that I can be awake for this," I said.  I have had issues with anything coming near my eyes and ears since I was a child so my in a reaction wasn't a surprise to me. It must not have been a surprise to him either, because he then suggested I see an eye surgeon to handle the procedure.  The only problem was that the surgeon comes into town from Indianapolis twice weekly and it might take a few days for me to get an appointment squared away.
As I waited for the office to call I decided to keep myself busy in my studio, however everything I touched seemed to disintegrate before me.  My anxiety and distraction over this upcoming procedure was clearly affecting my work.
I set aside the project I was working on, pulled out a single sheet of watercolor paper and just began to draw. No pressure, no expectations, no time limit.

My emotion clearly came out from the very beginning. Her eye is covered, hidden from the world. She is hoping that with the brilliant colors of her headscarf it will be forgotten about altogether.

She is deep in thought;  distracted - almost as though the weight of the world rests on her shoulders.

Over her covered eye there is a distinct diagonal line, symbolizing a scar.

title:  The Weight

The title is very fitting for indeed, she is clearly waiting for something to happen; the weight she carries is seen all over her face.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A dream come true: a painting of Mother Nature come alive

Mother Earth is being portrayed here as the nucleus of Life. She embraces a tree struck to its core by lightening.  With her loving arms around it and by using color as symbolism, she radiates life back to the ravaged area.

What started out as a conversation between friends - one a painter, the other a photographer, evolved into this beautiful, unique piece of artwork that combines painting and photography.  This was such a fun collaboration between Ashley Beige Photography and me.  Brooke (the photographer and owner) and I work incredibly well together and I feel it shows in this final piece.

This unique, one of a kind image will be available in my Etsy shop for a limited time.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mixed Media May 2014

I have been fortunate enough to be included in this year's Mixed Media May event, held by Cindy Jones Lantier.  For the entire month of May, 30 artists are spotlighted and there are some great prizes to be won.  Here is a link to my interview; while you're there, stick around and check out the other artists - they're sure to give you some inspiration.

Mixed Media May featuring Ellen Brenneman Studio

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Living Mother Earth Project

For the past few months my friend Brooke and I have discussed the idea of collaborating on a project together.  Brooke owns Ashley Beige Photography and works with some of the finest shops in town but her real passion is doing artistic pieces.  I of course, have been working on a series of mixed media pieces featuring Mother Earth/Nature as the subject.  Brooke proposed the idea of shooting me as a ‘living’ Mother Earth for a new series.  Doing something like this is an artist's dream; how often does one get to transform her work into a real life portrait?  I eagerly said yes and was incredibly excited about being involved in such a creative project. 
Sunday was our photo shoot and I think the images turned out beautifully.  The hard part will be deciding which one I will use for a painting.  Here are just two from several different poses that Brooke took.  
If you had to choose one of these to turn into a painting, which would it be?

"As she leaves her cocoon of solitude she feels hope in her heart that she can repair 
what has been destroyed".

"Lone Oracle"

Monday, April 7, 2014

Behind the Painting

I've recently been reminded of the phrase, 'You'll know when things are about to get better - it's when you feel like you've reached your breaking point.'  Not terribly comforting I admit, but it's usually true.  At least I hope so for the sake of me and those around me.

My husband and I were talking with our neighbors across the street about an accident that had just happened down the street from us.  As we were watching the firetrucks and police cars block the road from traffic my neighbor asked if I knew the neighbors directly to the right of us.  I replied that because of our 6 month hibernation from the brutal winter, we hadn't had much of a chance to make small talk.  She said, 'Well, their dog keeps getting loose and runs all over the neighborhood. I keep telling them that they need to fix their fence before someone gets hurt.'

Not more than 30 seconds after she finished that sentence, our next door neighbors opened their front door to step outside.  The dog squeezed between their legs and started running toward the street.  Within seconds we witnessed the dog as he was struck by a passing vehicle.  I remember hearing a long, wailing sound, thinking it was the dog; it wasn't.  That scream was coming from me.
The vehicle stopped and the driver stepped out, the look of disbelief on his face.   My husband and the neighbors across the street rushed to come to the aid of the dog and owner who, by that time was knelt down in the street next to his companion.  As for me, I suddenly felt like I was going to crumble to my knees.  When I finally willed my legs to move, I headed straight for the house where I broke down and sobbed.

I was upset for the dog, most certainly. Heartbroken for the owner, definitely.  But the majority of my uncontrollable crying came from deep within.  I was having flashbacks of being at my mother's side after being struck by a car a few years ago.

The accident involving the dog (whom died within 5 minutes of being struck) caused me to come to terms with certain things about myself that are likely to remain for a long time to come.  No longer am I able to watch the News.  Reports of sad or depressing stories seem to wound me deeply.  Shocking photos or videos in my Facebook newsfeed are quickly eliminated from my view, for once I allow my mind to accept what my eyes are seeing I find myself grieving for days.  Even movies with too serious a storyline are off limits.

It's been a week since the unfortunate accident with the dog but I am still having flashbacks.  If I allowed myself, I could easily use those feelings and make them tangible in the form of new artwork.  Perhaps in the future I will be able to explore that part of myself within the safety of my studio, but for now I distract myself with images that bring peace, happiness and love to my mind.  This latest piece is a result of that place in my mind which I reserve for beauty and comfort.  My place of solace:

Title:  Serenity of Spring

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Art and Poetry

I received a request from a poet who wanted to use one of my paintings to accompany a poem that she'd written.
Beautifully written and they pair together very well.  This is indeed one of the joys of connecting with other creatives.
You can read Brenda's poem here.    Be sure to check out her other musings as well while you're there.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The brilliant colors of Dr. Ph Martin's Bombay India Inks

My subjects lately have been all about Spring. Likely because I'm not seeing it yet and keep hoping that if I keep painting spring-inspired subjects maybe, just maybe Mother Nature will start cooperating. My Etsy listing for my latest painting start with a description of my latest painting which reads: After a long, harsh winter, Mother Nature's flower garden is bursting forth with color. ...yeah, well - at least on paper it is. I am loving my mixed media paintings. Seriously loving them. I'd forgotten how creative one can get with the freedom of using nearly anything and everything you can think of to add to the design of an image. It's kind of like putting together a puzzle. You just keep trying pieces until something 'fits'. My latest mixed media painting is titled

"Into The Wild Blue".

The flowers in her dress were painted on layer after layer, and as an added touch I painted, cut and adhered more flowers to the base of the dress to give the painting a more three dimensional quality. The scarf she is holding has been embossed in an intricate iridescent gold lace pattern. And then there is the sky - that beautiful, deeply rich, lovely sky...all thanks to liquid acrylics and Dr. Ph Martin's Bombay India Inks.  Seriously, I need a set of these more than I need groceries for next week. That's how much I love them.

You can find a good sized image of her on Etsy and as always, can follow the progress of all my paintings right here: Ellen Brenneman Studio on Facebook