Thursday, August 27, 2015

"Glorious Poppies" (oil on stretched canvas; 12" x 12")

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We had an afternoon to kill during our Scandinavian vacation, so we decided to drive around Oland ("o" with an umlaut), a big island off the southeast coast of Sweden.  Rick Steves's guide book said that Oland with its mild weather was considered the "Provence of Sweden".  Even so, when I first saw the poppy fields, I couldn't believe my eyes.  Poppy fields in Sweden?

My daughter and I got out of the car to find out what was going on.  Poppies were growing amid wheat for miles. We tried to walk the miles until we got tired.  When we asked around later, nobody seemed to know why. Most people seemed to think that poppies were just growing wild.  I believe they were planted alongside wheat.  For whatever reason, the poppy fields of Oland made my day!

You can see how happy I was!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"Scarlet Beauty" (oil on linen; 8" x 6")

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I decided to paint another red rose, this time against a yellow/mauve background.  I am happy to report that the second rose painting went a little faster.  As they say, practice makes perfect!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

"Regal Rose" (oil on linen; 8" x 8")

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I don't usually paint red roses.  Getting the velvety feel of the red petals feels like too much trouble, especially when the intense red color seems to absorb light and doesn't offer much value differences to go by.  But since I am in the middle of a rose fest, I decided to challenge myself to paint some.  Challenge it was.  After much work, the regal rose emerged!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Pink Rosebud" (oil on linen; 7" x 5")

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Ever since I took Danni Dawson's workshop in June, I am wild about roses.  I feel like I finally learned to paint the queen of all flowers.  Petal by petal, leaf by leaf, a rose emerges against the dark ground.  The promise of the fully-open flower makes this pink rosebud even more enchanting!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

"Swedish Sunset" (oil on linen; 11" x 14") nfs


The day after my daughter's fainting, she had recovered enough to go to visit my husband's fifth cousin on the Stockholm Archipelago.  After a long day of trains, ferries, and car rides, we came home for a feast to remember, prepared by Hans's sister and brother-in-law.  The dinner started about 7:30 and went on until midnight. 

The sun set around 10:30, with the sky of the ever-changing, spectacular colors of gold, pink, mauve, and blues.  The family started playing a "Viking" game of throwing sticks.  I was more interested in watching the sky, trying to remember the night for this painting I had in mind for Hans.

My family were privileged to be invited to this intimate family gathering.  We were in Sweden, not as strangers, but as family and friends.  We were neither tourists nor outsiders.  We were home, thanks to Dr. Hans Andersson.  I am grateful for his warm hospitality.

Annakaren on the far right and her husband who is at the grill.

Hans, on the far right, is the patriarch of the family.

The rest of Hans's family and my husband and daughter (to the left).

Thursday, August 13, 2015

"Annakaren's Roses" (oil on linen; 9" x 12") nfs


During my family's Scandinavian vacation, we stayed for three nights at the farm that belongs to my husband's Swedish colleague, Hans.  The farm, located north of Stockholm, has been in the family for generations.  There are 17 structures in the estate, including several cottages, where Hans's three sisters and their children come to stay during the summer. 

On the second day of our visit, we were supposed to go to Stockholm for sightseeing, then meet up with Hans for dinner at his college campus in Uppsala (Hans is a professor at Uppsala University, which is the oldest, prestigious university in Sweden).

Alas!  We never got to leave the farm that day.  With the sudden heat wave (reaching up to the 90's!) and the long, long daylight, which deprived us of much sleep, the result was fatigue and dehydration.  My daughter fainted right after breakfast; she fell forward, briefly losing consciousness.  As she was falling, one of her front teeth hit the wooden floor.  There was a lot of bleeding and the tooth got knocked askew. 

Hans, a kind and caring person, fussed over her and insisted that we should take her to the emergency.  My mother's instinct told me that what she needed was a day's rest.  So she rested all day; I got to sketch around the farm.  We all enjoyed the day of rest immensely.  As it turns out, the most treasured memory of our Scandinavian vacation is Hans's farm and his family.

"Annakaren's Roses" (watercolor sketch)

Annakaren is Hans's second sister, who was staying at the farm with her husband for the whole summer.  It was she who showed me the many buildings around the farm.  The roses that I sketched were planted by her a few years ago and were doing very well.  She (and the entire family) admired my sketch at the dinner later that day, so I decided to paint an oil version for her.

"Hans's Farm" (watercolor sketch"

Sunday, August 9, 2015

"Catharina's Rose" (oil on linen; 8" x 8") nfs


"Catharina's Rose" is for Catharina, my husband's fifth cousin, who kindly hosted a lunch in her summer cottage on an island in the Stockholm Archipelago during my family's recent trip to Scandinavia.  I took a picture of her beautiful rose, thinking that it might make a good painting for her. 

The world is a small place, as my husband Peter found her 12 years ago through his Swedish colleague, who knew her professionally. Peter has met her a few times since, but it was the first time for me and my daughter. Peter's great grandfather emigrated from Sweden in the mid-19th century.  After all these years, the family connection has been rekindled.  I would like to thank Catharina and her husband for the delicious lunch and for welcoming the "long-lost cousins" with open arms!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Thursday, August 6, 2015

"San Marco Dusk" (oil on linen; 9" x 12")

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Venice is beautiful at any time of the day, but it becomes ethereal at dusk. At the edge of St. Mark's Square, one can see a sliver of the elegant Doge's Palace and the column with a winged lion, the Lion of Venice, which is the symbol of St. Mark. The small island with San Giorgio Maggiore and its bell tower fills the mauve sky. The beautiful street lights are lit and cast long reflections on the pavement. The rest is hushed silence.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"Haley" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


"Haley" is for Whitney, who commissioned the portrait for her neighbor Amanda.  Haley was a Springer spaniel and Australian Shepherd mix, but mostly Springer.  Amanda prefers to remember her more in her younger years, which I tried to accomplish with the big puppy eyes.  "Haley" was painted in celebration of a beautiful friendship as well as in memory of a good dog.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Eastern Bluebird" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold


The eastern bluebird is a small bird found in open woodlands, farmlands, and orchards. It is the state bird of Missouri and New York.  My painting of this beautiful bird will make a perfect gift for a bird lover!