I've taken a little painting break, and now I'm very happy to be back at it. :)
We recently returned from a wonderful road trip to Minnesota, and this little farm scene is not far from my parents' home. I like how it turned out in the end, but, I'm not gonna lie, - painting is hard, folks, painting is hard. Whew! (And fun, and addictive, and rewarding...)
We've seen so little of the sun this winter/spring, I've resorted to painting pictures full of it.
It's not the viewing of it that I miss so much (kinda hurts my eyes, lol), but the feeling of it.
See that tiny patch of yard peeking through beneath/between the trees? If only I could be right there, sprawled out on a sun-warmed cotton quilt with a pillow and a good book. Ahhh.
Oh, and also, I'd be sixteen again, lol.
I am very happy with how this scene turned out, - it was so challenging! I painted from a photo I took a few Augusts ago in the Yakima Valley of Washington state. My favorite part is the light reflecting up to the wall from the lower roof of the red building on the far right.
So much warmth and light bouncing around, - oh, summer, please hurry!
You'll notice that this is a lot bigger than normal for me, and that's because it's my donation to the fundraising auction at my boys' school. I love being able to contribute to this event!
Beaver Falls is local to us, and sadly, I lived here for eleven years before my first visit!
I went first after a heavy rain in the spring, - vastly different than this scene! The flow is twice as wide and multiple times the volume, - very intense! I think I prefer this version, from July of last year. Sweet and sun-dappled. :)
This one is from our recent bout of wintry weather. It's a rare treat to see our mossy wonderland blanketed in white, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. While heading to 'town' for a few errands, my husband took a little detour so I could photograph an old barn. The barn was pretty enough, but just down the road from it was this stunner of a tree! Love! I've only painted two, but there were actually about eight deer hanging out in her shadow. It was delightful.
My guys and I drove from Oregon to Minnesota for Christmas, and we had a wonderful time hanging out with my parents and other family that live there.
There was plenty of snow, and so much sunshine, and, well, that's kind of the perfect combo.
If you follow me on instagram (norabergman), you've seen a bit of my obsession. ;)
It was just so pretty!
This scene is from one of my photos from the trip. It was not an actual 'snow day', - those are pretty rare there, but back here in Oregon, we are currently on Snow Day No. 4 for this week! It's like Winter Break all over again! My boys are loving it, and so am I. (Mostly. :) )
I did a little painting in early December, but it was a gift so I had to keep it a secret.
I'm so happy to finally show it to you!
A very sweet man commissioned this for his wife, my friend, Leah. He even sent me a jar of her homemade jam for me to paint! It was a really fun project, a little bigger than my norm, and I am extremely happy with how it turned out.
Read on to hear me wax philosophical about life and stress... :)
I started out painting only commissions (in the form of custom murals), and it worked very well. I loved the challenge of taking a concept or image and adapting it to the specific style and needs of my client. I didn't have to be the 'idea man', - the ideas have always been the hardest part for me, - I just painted what someone told me to paint. It was fun, difficult and rewarding.
The mural work slowly phased out after I became a wife and mom, and then life was about diapers and just trying to get enough sleep. :) In the midst of that chaos, I always found something to create, because, well, that's as important as breathing to me. Curtains, ornaments, purses... there's always something to make!
Then, a few years ago, I took the plunge into a whole new era in my painting journey... learning oils, painting small, and, most exciting to me, stumbling upon the ideas and skills that give me joy, that come from within me. After decades of dabbling in all things artsy, I am finally finding my artistic voice. It has been so hard, so good, and so extremely fulfilling.
In this new era, I've been asked several times to do commission work. I've done a little here and there, I've said yes and then had to recant when I started to lose sleep, and most recently, I've just said no to it all. It's not that I didn't want to, honestly, it was just way too stressful. I'm a people-pleaser and I'm a wee bit high-strung, with some severe and random anxiety thrown in. (I try desperately to hide all that, - who wants to hang out with a nervous breakdown? Lol.) Anyway, when art becomes another 'job' in addition to my familial responsibilities, well, I can feel the ulcers forming ranks, and then I have a meltdown. I just couldn't get it to fit into my life with all the other things.
So, that's a big part of why this commission is so exciting to me. I don't really remember when I agreed to it, at some point it just started to sound more fun than stressful. I knew the subject matter, I had good source materials and all of a sudden I was painting for someone else and I never once lost any sleep over it! (It helps that the intended recipient is literally one of the sweetest people on the planet. :) ) All in all, it was a very positive experience and I'm so thankful. It was so fun to paint!
If you know my work, you know my favorites are when a lovely little scene is tempered by the 'ugly' of life. Telephone poles and wires, highways, cracked sidewalks, garbage cans, - for me they provide literal and emotional 'scale'. A true reflection of life; stress and fulfillment, ugly and beautiful, all jumbled together. :)
We had some beautiful weather early last week, and on one of those days I got to accompany the kindergarten to The Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island. We all had a great time, long bus ride included. :)
I've never attempted a corn maze before, and going through with kids (mostly) leading the way, made it extra challenging! I didn't realize at the time that this particular one is in the shape of Charlie Brown and Snoopy, but now I want to go back and see it again. (You can see an overhead photo on their website.) It's really cool!
Of course, the real show stopper for me was this view, as seen from the hayride out to the pumpkin field. I love, love, love that tree, and debated hard about including the whole barn. Maybe another time I'll make it the only star in the show. ;)
Wowzers, I sure keep picking some busy compositions!
This is from a photo I took last week on an afternoon jaunt to Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach, OR. The rest of the area was clear, but this little ridge of rain forest-like trees was all socked in, - it was so cool! The beautiful Pacific Ocean is just through that little wall of mist and fog.
I'll be honest, this was a challenge, one of those that I could keep fiddling with for days and days, so...I'll call it done. :)
My husband and I were blessed to spend a few days fishing in Alaska recently, and we had such a great time. The fish camp was right on the Kenai River, and being there reminded me of the fantastic summers as a camp counselor on a lake in northern Minnesota. It's been a long time since I've felt that feeling; tackling things you never thought you could (nine hours in a boat), surrounded by ever-changing and spectacular natural beauty, all while hanging out with great people that are just happy to be there, even if it's pouring down rain. I want to go back! :)
We fished on nearby Skilak Lake, and every day we were visited by several loons. They are the state bird of Minnesota, so I know them well in theory, but have not seen nor heard many in my lifetime. I was really excited to see some in person, and trying to take photos of them helped pass the time when fishing was slow. They also brought to mind 'The Life of a Voyageur', a song we sang at Camp Birchwood. Even though it's technically about the Canadian wilderness, for me it has always captured the wonderful essence of the woods, the water, and a campfire with good friends.
Here's a sample from youtube if you're curious. :)
I should've asked my friend Sara from camp to sing it, she'd do a great job and I'm sure she still knows the words. :)
I never paint as much as I think I will in the summer...but that just means we're having fun at VBS or swimming lessons, or maybe eating our way through the county fair, or, like last week, fishing in Alaska!
And, it also means I'm adding all sorts of new photo inspiration to my reference files. I'll be so glad to have them next winter when the grays set in, and I can't wait to put some to use this month also!
I hope you're all enjoying your summer, and thanks for following my work!
Of course, you can always see a bit more of our lives and my works in progess on Instagram. (norabergman)
On one of our recent very summery evenings, I drove around the dike-lands that skirt the Columbia River in our area of Oregon. Being a flatlander/farmer's daughter, the straight-ish gravel roads and uber-green pastures remind me very much of summers in Minnesota. The sun was low, the air was warm, the shadows were delicious. In the very distance, the hills of Washington state made a dusky backdrop, rising steeply from the Columbia River.
This is another one of those 'ain't gonna get the best of me' ones. I started and gave up months ago, and suddenly it seemed time to try again. I think we'll call it done. :)
My parents extended their west coast trip a bit, so we took a little of Washington's Spring Break (three of my sisters live in WA) and went on a road trip! It was really, really great. We saw a Wildlife Safari, the Redwoods, sand dunes on the Oregon Coast, and just miles and miles of lovely weather and scenery. So beautiful and as much fun as you can have traveling with lots of young children. :)
And..., sickness has been having a heyday at our house since we got back. Lol.
Argh. Still worth it. :) I think. I'm on day three, ask me again tomorrow. ;)
We were on Spring Break last week so I took a painting break and enjoyed my family.
It was really, really nice, and now I'm happy to be back in my painting corner.
So, yes, another blue canning jar. I am a little obsessed, partly because I like the jars, of course, but mostly because the painting of them is so challenging! I'm never immediately satisfied with my results, but I'm usually more gracious toward my work when I look back weeks or months later.
(Except every once in a while, when I think it's all garbage and I'll never paint again. Haha. My poor husband.)
Anyway, here's another in my quest to paint a canning jar. Getting closer to that elusive 'exactly how I want it'. ;)
(This one is a bit bigger than than my usual small squares, hence the higher starting bid on Daily Paintworks.)
This painting is my contribution to the annual fundraising auction put on by the staff and volunteers at my boys' school. They do such a great job in and out of the classroom; we're so thankful for them all!
This scene is from a photo I took behind the school a few weeks ago.