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Posts Tagged ‘painting’

guardian angel painting

Today’s Affirmation:
“Laughing makes me strong!”

Got back in touch recently with an old friend. She wanted to get together for coffee, so I picked a day at random and it turned out to be her birthday! 🙂

When I found this out shortly before our rendezvous, I quickly did a little guardian angel painting for her as a birthday gift. I thought at first that the second figure was another angel, but to my surprise it morphed into this amused lion-faced spirit guide.

It seems to me they are reading the book of my friend’s life (and she has had a heck of a life!) The angel seems loving and gently compassionate. But the lion dude(ette) (I’m getting masculine energy from it even though it has feminine features) told me to tell her, “Laugh. Just laugh! It will make you strong!”

As it will all of us! No matter what happens today, go ahead and laugh! 🙂

The holidays are not as far off as they seem. I’m taking orders now for custom guardian angel paintings to be delivered by or before mid December. Reply for details! 

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Lilah angelI first started being aware of angels when I started doing chakra energy scans for people. They often show up for me in people’s chakras.

Lately I’ve been doing guardian angel art readings, but this latest is a bit of a variation. I love doing portraits of children, and decided for this one to tune in to Lilah’s guardian angel and include the angel, too.

In this case, looks like Archangel Michael also has her back!

Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed painting it.

P.S. I’m guessing an angel portrait would make an awesome Christmas gift. If you’d like more information about that, or to request a free 15 minute energy scan, just let me know! 🙂

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Blues Sax watecolor painting

“Blues Sax,” watercolor, 14″x11″. This painting is for sale. Prints also available. Contact me below for details.

 

Whether it is true or not I can’t say, but I’m told someone asked Mozart once what his favorite part of music was.

“The rests,” he replied.

While his answer may seem flip, I believe he was deadly serious. Imagine music with no spaces between the notes. It wouldn’t be music at all, would it? Just a noisy cacophany.

Beethoven was also clearly aware of the power of the rest to amplify and strengthen his musical message.  The first minute of his Great Fugue is a masterful example. (Is it just my imagination, or can you hear in the silence the seed of all great music?):

So often we try to pack so much in that our lives become a jarring jumble, like music minus the rests. It’s good to remember that everything won’t come crashing to a halt just because we paused to breathe.

In fact, allowing ourselves time to rest often has quite the opposite effect!

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Tiger Swallowtail copyright 2015 by Christie (Anne) Michelsen

Tiger Swallowtail

Tiger, tiger in the sky

Flashing gold, you soar and fly

Sudden flutter softly by

Sweet and fleeting butterfly!

Butterfly symbolic meanings: Inspiration, intuition, higher consciousness, transformation, resurrection, flashes of insight, power of beauty, strength in vulnerability.

Specific butterfly species may carry additional meanings. Here are my thoughts on the Tiger Swallowtail:

Tiger Swallowtail Totem: Integrating One’s Power

Did you know that the Tiger Swallowtail has two color morphs, black and yellow? I didn’t know until recently that all males are yellow – only the females sometimes appear in black form. Also, only the females (of both color morphs) sport the beautiful silvery blue crescents on the bottom edge of their back wings.

It speaks to me of the special connection women have with the moon. And whether you’re a man or a woman, the ability to balance and honor both the solar (masculine, proactive) and lunar (feminine, intuitive) aspects of your inner being.

Yellow. The color of the sun. Warmth, light, vitality, action! Yellow is also the color most associated with the Solar Plexus Chakra, the power center of the body.

Black. The color of night. Rest, dreams, that which is hidden. This is the realm of intuition, and regeneration.

With its vivid black and yellow stripes and dots, the Tiger Swallowtail speaks to us of integrating these two aspects of our selves. Black on yellow, yellow on black, rhythmically interspersed with each other.

This is the rhythm of the universe. Day, night. Inbreath, outbreath. Wake and sleep.

Traditional cultures honor this rhythm. They set aside time to rest, time to pray, time to heal.

Our society tends to put a premium on action, at the expense of rest. It’s a 24/7 world now, and many of us push ourselves ruthlessly to keep up.

Do you find yourself running on caffiene-laced fumes? Routinely pushing through to find your second wind?

It’s good to test our limits once in a while, but we weren’t made to do it day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. We think it’s a sign of strength. But sooner or later people who do this hit the wall. Burnout. Adrenal exhaustion.

Tiger Swallowtail reminds us to honor our natural rhythms.

Feeling blue, or in a black mood, is often just our body telling us to take it easy for a bit. If you find yourself feeling tired, cranky or sad, give yourself permission to let down for a while. Schedule “down time” into your calendar. Take an hour or a day or a week off if you need it.

No offense to men, but I think women have to be especially aware of our body’s need for rest at certain times. By honoring it, we honor ourselves.Yes, it means acknowledging that we are vulnerable.

But when we embrace that vulnerable side of ourselves, love it, and give it what it needs…

Wow! That’s allowing ourselves to tap deeply into our power to revitalize our lives…so we can take wing as the beautiful souls we truly are.

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Watercolor painting "Sun Panther" All life is energy. We are one with universal energy. The spinning of the Earth, the turning and burning of the Sun, the wind in the trees, the slinking panther in the grass, and the grass, how it grows…All one. Breathe, and become transparent to it, for you, too, encompass it all…

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Just finished this child/pet double portrait commissioned by a lovely lady in Marquette MI. The little boy, Gunner, is her first grandchild, who loves the family dog, Russ, very much. (And the feeling is obviously mutual!)

But what I loved was Gunner’s grandmother’s comment when I first emailed her the finished painting: “Oh my, the portrait of those two is just how we should spend our days…  ”

Gunner & Russ child/dog portrait(“Have you hugged your child/dog/lover/friend today?” may sound like a trite bumper sticker saying. But I’m going to ask it of you anyway. If you haven’t, here’s your homework for the day: go give someone a hug!)

I actually had the presence of mind to shoot in-progress photos of this one.

Here is the underdrawing, based on a sketch made from the reference photo. In the original photo Russ (the dog) was chewing a bone, and it didn’t look very good. At first I thought I’d take a separate picture of him and merge the two reference photos into one drawing, but he just didn’t get how to pose for the camera. So I ended up moving Russ’s head and front leg a bit from the original photo. Luckily, it worked out.

I started with a very light wash of golden yellow. It’s not noticeable in the final painting (you can’t see it very well in the photo, either), but gives the piece a bit of warm glow.

under drawing Gunner & Russ portrait

Gunner & Russ underdrawing

Next, I went in and established the first layer of color in the figures. Most watercolorists work from light to dark, but I like to establish a value range right away, so I tend to go in and put in at least some of my darkest darks right at the beginning.  Here, it’s the back leg of the pants and the pupils of the eyes.

Gunner & Russ 1st layer

Gunner & Russ – first layer

For the next pass, I layed in the shadows on Gunner’s face and bare foot, and on Russ.

Gunner & Russ Layer 2

Gunner & Russ, Layer 2

Layer 3: From here it was simply a matter of deepening the shadows and adding details. (I love shadows because they often are full of color!)

Gunner & Russ layer 3

Gunner & Russ, Layer 3

I went in a few more times between layer 3 and the final layer but didn’t remember to take photos. Oh, well. But here is the final piece one more time (just to keep the sequence in order):

Gunner & Russ child/dog portrait

Now, take a good look at the pure joy on little Gunner’s face, and go give someone a hug!

(And don’t forget to give yourself one, too!) 🙂

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New painting…

Wolf and Harvest Moon watercolor

Did a wolf painting a few weeks ago that I didn’t like too much. But it got me going in a certain direction. I think I like the direction. Think I’ll keep going this way…

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People think watercolor is difficult.

“You can’t control it,” they say.

And, “It’s so unforgiving!”

“You just need to learn its secrets,” I tell them. “When you do, your watercolors will take wing all on their own.”

Goshawk watercolor painting

“Goshawk in flight,” watercolor sketch 11″x 11″. Click on the bird to read about its symbolic meaning!

Here are the secrets of watercolor:

1. You don’t paint with watercolor. You set it up for success. You create the framework. Then, all you have to do is encourage the water to follow the framework. The water does the painting for you.

2. Watercolor isn’t unforgiving. You can lift it, scrub it, paint over it. Or just turn over a new leaf of paper and start over. The only thing that’s not forgiving is our rigid vision of perfection.

Doesn’t it sound a lot like life?

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Here’s my latest! (If you’d like to know its messages as I received them, see below.)

Buffalo and crows

Spirit Painting: Buffalo and Crows – Mixed water media on paper, 28″x22″

The Buffalo (actually the American Bison) is a sacred symbol amongst Native Americans. I don’t pretend to know much about Native American spirituality, but I can certainly see why the Buffalo is considered sacred in this tradition. It has incredible strength, solidity, and presence. Here are some of the qualities associated with this majestic beast:

  • Strength
  • Abundance
  • Prosperity
  • Stability
  • Gratitude

(If you are of Native ancestry and/or familiar with this tradition please feel free to add to or correct this list.)

This Buffalo confronts us head-on. It doesn’t seem aggressive, but you can’t ignore its assertive presence. Perhaps it is challenging us to face our fears and live up to our dreams. This is primarily a Yellow buffalo, with hints of Red. Yellow brings to mind the 3rd chakra, or Power Center, and Red is the color of the 1st, or Root chakra. These are both warm colors, contrasting sharply with the wintery landscape. This creature is grounded, powerful, and very much alive.

Although it is still at the moment, the Buffalo’s Breath is visible, jetting forcefully from its nostrils. Breath represents Life and Spirit. It evokes all 4 elements: it is made up of water and air, emanates from the physical body (earth), and contains the heat (fire) that living things generate and carry within them. The breath coming out could represent creative energy, or one’s life force in action.

This Buffalo’s environment is significant. You can see the roundness of the earth in the exaggerated horizon. In fact, the earth seems rather small compared to the size of the animal. To me this is an indication of how significant one’s presence and actions on the earth really are. (You are more powerful than you know!) It is winter, which is a time of rest between cycles. A large animal like the buffalo must eat a lot; because food is scarce in winter it must rely on fat stores from summer to carry it through. Therefore it must trust that when the snows come and the earth chills and darkens, this is a temporary condition and a part of the natural cycle. The Buffalo knows that Spring will come again, and does not panic!

A row of Trees rings the horizon. Trees connect heaven and earth, and are highly spiritual beings. These trees are bare and dormant, but the ghostly flower pattern showing in the snow indicates that under the frigid ice life stirs, ready to spring forth in abundance with the first warm breaths of Spring.

This pending event is hinted at by the wintery Sun in the painting. It struggles to break through the clouds with a cold, watery light, but as the days grow longer it will gain in strength and warmth, providing the energy to nourish all life on Earth through another yearly cycle.

Is this Sun rising or setting? It could be either, representing either new beginnings or the end of a phase or cycle. (Remember, though, that in every ending lies the seed of a new beginning.) The lighting and shadows reveal no set direction, allowing for whatever interpretation feels right at the moment. The buffalo, too, sometimes appears red, sometimes yellow. Either way, it indicates a period of transition, or a pause between periods of growth – underscoring the theme of winter. If you would like to meditate on this image to help you through a transitional period, you might want to imagine it as a setting sun at first, and change to a rising sun as you begin to feel your energies rise again.

Finally, a mob of seven Crows accompanies this Bison. The number Seven is, of course, regarded as having great significance in any number of traditions. It’s frequently associated with magic and spiritual awareness, along with the ability to manifest results in our lives. (Seven black birds appear in another painting of mine as well, an art reading for the daughter of a friend. You can view and read about it here.)

Many traditions associate Crows with magic, sometimes black magic. While Crows are certainly Black, I don’t feel them to be a bad omen. Rather, their color signifies a deeply Feminine energy and access to the unseen spiritual world. Crows have wonderful, strong (some say harsh, but I think they’re beautiful!) voices that carry a long way, and they are great at warning each other of approaching danger. They are a reminder to listen to and heed the warnings of one’s intuition.

Crows are, in many traditions, a Trickster animal. They are also opportunists, and great at not just surviving but adapting and thriving – which is why you are just as likely to meet up with a Crow in the city as in deep wilderness. These particular crows appear a little impish, irreverently perching on and around the majestic Buffalo. They tell us it’s ok to have fun and be bold when pursuing our dreams and goals.

The fun thing about symbols is that they mean different things to different people. I’m always interested to hear what other people take away from the images I create. What does this painting say to you?

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Rainbow wolf paintingYou know how some days are masterpieces? Days you remember for the rest of your life?

And other days fall short of masterpiece status, but they’re still “keepers.” The kind of day you wouldn’t mind every day being like.

But most days don’t quite make it to that level. They’re decent, but you probably won’t remember them in a month unless somebody reminds you.

And of course we all have days we wish we could do over.

The thing is, it’s the less-than-perfect days that make the perfect ones possible. 

Like all the days you spend going to work and earning a paycheck. Not memorable, but they pave the way for a whole week or two of wonderful vacation experiences.

Or the day you spend cleaning and cooking to make your FABULOUS holiday party a go.

Paintings can do that, too. 

I call them “guidepost paintings.”

Or, when they’re the kind you end up painting over, “growing pain(ting)s.”

I think this one I painted yesterday qualifies as a guidepost.

Overall, it’s OK. I like some of what’s going on with the watercolor. And I think I managed to capture the “wolf stare” I was after.

Honestly, though, I wouldn’t feature it in my portfolio.

BUT…

Now that I’m done with it, and looking at it critically, it’s tickling something deep down in my brain.

Maybe it’s the title, that came to me as I painted: “Rainbow Wolf.”

Think I’ll take that idea and run with it.

If I’m lucky, maybe it’ll lead to some keepers!

What “guidepost” experiences have you had in your life recently? Where do you think they will take you?

Coming soon: my 36-page guidebook to connecting with your totem animals! Reserve your copy here.

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