I have always been in love with flowers of all kinds! It is a love affair that began at a very young age. I would visit the flower nursery with my mom to pick out the most vibrant and velvety geraniums we could find. Once transported home, I loved digging in the dirt and then assisting with the careful planting of the pretty blooms. The love grew with the watering and pruning of the plants, teaching me tenderness & care.
To this day, visiting a flower nursery is a special outing for me. I always must plan for a few hours as I enjoy strolling up and down each aisle taking in all of the beauty, noticing the intricate detail in each species of flowering plant. Incredibly, there are approximately 400,000 flowering plants that live on this planet! It is truly mind blowing there are that many possible combinations giving each of those blooms their own unique look. Of course, not all can be seen at the local nursery but certainly a nice array live there…. enough to fill my senses and get my flower fix. It is that same feeling I get when I visit a doggie shelter …. I would love to take them all home with me!
My love affair with flowers shows up in my art. Currently, I am working on a new flower series and while my flower paintings are more of an abstract view of nature, I strive to capture that feminine and robust feeling! I have always enjoyed sketching, drawing and painting blooms … the first painting I ever sold (pictured below) is a painting titled , “Black Flowers” which lives in a lovely home in Phoenix. Flower love will forever be a part of me …these intricate gifts from nature give me energy, bring me joy, nourish my soul and plant more and more love in my heart each & every time I witness their incredible beauty!
The air is sweet, peaceful, grace-filled ~ a time to just be, in silence ~ a time to set beautiful intentions for the day. With gratitude, I welcome in the morning light ~
“I love your painting titled: ‘Bright Abstract‘…I am driving my truck out to Phoenix at the end of the month to pick it up!” ~ Ginger
It is always a thrill to sell a painting and at the same time it is hard to part with each one…so much love and passion goes into the entire creative process. It is like attaching colors to my soul and then brushing those soul-filled colors onto a canvas. I have learned that I must stay true to self by painting what feels good to me even though it may not appeal to all. I am thankful my clients feel this honoring of “trueness“ when they share their excitement to own one of my originals. It is fun to listen to them interpret my work and think out loud about where in their home they will display it ….and it is really fun to receive a photo of my (now, their) art in action!
Art is an important addition to a space and creates a “feel” upon entering a room…art pulls it all together! Over the years, I have found that my work compliments many different home styles from Contemporary to Hacienda, Traditional to Mid-Century and Ranch to Mission. It is fun when a client invites my work into their home, creating a look that speaks to them. It is like my artwork has been invited to a personal decorating party!
Ginger has a deep appreciation for the creative as she happens to be an artist herself. She also owns & operates with love, Dust Devil Ranch, a horse rescue sanctuary in Cedar City, Utah. …a place surrounded by beautiful animals, goodness, hard work and joy! Thank you Ginger, for the tender care you give to those sweet & majestic horses… “Bright Abstract” truly went to an incredible home! Thank you for sharing this snapshot of where it landed in your cool & personal ranch space, after the long…truck ride home. I am honored!
It has been said that the “little things” in life are really the big things. A smile, a kind word, a handwritten note, a wagging tail, a hug from an old friend, rocking a sleeping baby, a sunset, laughter, a compliment, the flutter of a hummingbird’s wings, a helping hand, a gentle touch…
The collective energy of these little things makes our universe sing! We must remind ourselves, in this exaggerated world, to tune-in and experience the small day-to-day happenings. We have been programmed to believe we have to cram as much as possible into our every day to be successful. Experiencing the little things, the giving & the receiving, as we pause for that moment in time, is a huge success and is much more beautiful & significant than we could ever imagine!
On a recent grocery store trip, I noticed a little brown leaf on a lovely speckled pear. The leaf, incredibly dainty, yet still in tact even after the growing, picking, washing, transporting, displaying, bagging, buying and then the transporting again…to my kitchen. I just know that this little leaf made it through that journey to remind me to pay attention to the little things in life and that a successful day may be as simple as a smile. Thank you, little pear leaf, I am grateful for the sweet reminder!
“The Art of Surprise” has been on the road bringing the joy of creating to the children! Hunting and gathering in nature for supplies, combined with pigments & tactile mediums, welcomes creative surprises galore!
The happiness I feel sharing the love of art with these darling children is life-changing. The unbridled creativity that flows through these little hands inspires me! The freeness to explore in a nonjudgmental way is what I wish for my adult participants, as I always encourage them to tap into their inner child that knows no bounds. A child is not concerned about what is happening to the left or right of them rather, just the happenings that are right in front of them…the use of color and forms as they wish without hesitation. What a beautiful and freeing dance to witness!
Little hands will one day be big hands, with many life experiences stored in the heart on this life journey. My hope is that these little artists will always remember their creative time: The Art of Surprise with Miss Jana, and how they were flying free with expression. A place and feeling they can always tap into even when those little hands are all grown up!
The Art of Surprise / August 2020
“A Bug Named Silly” / Mixed media on canvas
Greyson ~ age 5
The sunrise is peeking through my window blinds, gently nudging me to wake. It is the last day of August and it has been a hot one! I glance at my phone, could this really be today’s forecast? I roll out of bed & hop on my cruiser, the morning greeting me with a 79 degree soft breeze. I giggle, thinking it is almost sweater weather here in AZ… well, okay, that may be a bit of a stretch!
I ride by all of the sweet desert critters I usually see on my route and smile, bidding them all a happy morning. I approach the glistening golf greens where quite a few eager golfers are swinging away. A hummingbird flutters in front of me, almost as if to show me the way. Riding into the sunrise, I continue east.
It is time to turn around and begin my journey back home, the sun now warming my shoulders. Rounding the bend, I spot a pretty lady wearing a breezy blue floral dress. She appears to be enjoying the mountain view. Her face, soft aglow with the morning sun as she stares off into the distance. I stop for a water break and I say hello. We chat for a few moments talking about the nice change of weather, the sparse monsoons of the summer, and how thankful we are to live in such an incredible place. And then, she pauses and says, “We must always, each and every day, take in and appreciate this beauty.” “Oh my, yes,” I say. “Thank you for allowing me to share this moment with you on this glorious morning.” We sit in silence, allowing our senses to soak it all in. I then wish her a happy rest of her day. She smiles, and wishes me the same.
As I ride away, the pretty lady in her breezy blue floral dress stays behind, continuing to enjoy the morning on her cruiser… a wheelchair. Blessings to you beautiful lady! Thank you for blessing me with your lovely presence & the joyful reminder to appreciate the beauty all around us on this early Monday morning, and every day!
I got in trouble in the fourth grade. I laughed during a spelling test, out loud. I wasn’t laughing at my teacher as she methodically enunciated each word, (which I remember was actually really quite humorous) rather, I was laughing at the funny boys that sat directly behind me. I don’t recall what exactly sparked their enthusiasm but I know it wasn’t directed toward our teacher as she was a likable gal and very well respected by the class. “I heard something funny and I couldn’t help myself“, I explained. She didn’t buy it. So, down to the office I went. Next thing I knew, I was being swatted with a wooden paddle laden with holes…the paddle that hung proudly in the principal’s office as a reminder to behave, or else. This was the 70’s…definitely wouldn’t fly today.
These two boys were funny, not just during spelling tests but all of the time. It wasn’t the little chuckle kind of laughter produced by their antics but the bring on the tears type of laughter. They weren’t inappropriate, just hilarious… at least I thought they were! I was certain they would one day earn a living on a stage somewhere as comedians. I could say that I knew them back when and had front row seats to their very first show!
Life can sometimes hide our funny bone, stifling our laughter. Maybe we don’t want to appear silly or vulnerable so we become a bit guarded, taking life too seriously at times. Why do we often hold back when we know it is so good for the soul? Granted, during a spelling test isn’t the best timing to break out in laughter but when the funny bone is tickled …I often think back on that day, wondering how different that scenario would have been if our teacher had simply had a good chuckle along with us and then calmed us down before getting back to business. Maybe her funny bone was in pause mode or was lost waiting to be found? Maybe she was having a bad day or maybe she just didn’t have a good sense of humor? It didn’t matter, she did not find the situation funny, at all, and ordered swats… swats only for me, but not for the comedians! I was happy to take one for the team… I don’t remember any tears which was odd for this, never in trouble, sensitive soul! I really think I just needed a good laugh and wasn’t going to let anything ruin that moment.
I am thankful for that day & for those boys! My elementary school days make me smile and remind me that I do love a good sense of humor. I am also reminded of how much I really didn’t & don’t like tests and how much I loved & still love art classes! I wonder if those boys knew what a gift they gave me … they brightened my day with a little levity until the bell rang and we shuffled off to the next class where creativity awaited. Maybe one day, I will see them again so I can personally thank them…thank them for the fun memory they built, the smiles and the great story to hold in my pocket as a wonderful reminder to embrace the laughter! I think I aced my spelling test that day and turned out to be a pretty good speller… most of the time…LOL!
It was the early 1960’s. I was young, just around three years old… my mom was expecting my baby sister. We were living in a charming little rental house, up high on the south side of Camelback Mountain where only a few homes could be seen scattered about. My dad was painting for a living but getting ready to begin a career designing and building homes in the valley where his art forms would become visible in his incredible architecture.
I remember the big patio on the front of the house where my dad’s easel stood during beautiful weather, which were most days in the Valley of the Sun! There was a stately Saguaro that grew close to the house, so close that the overhang had a hole carved out to make way for the top of the cactus to poke through. The house was surrounded by desert with creosote galore…the summer sunset views were spectacular! It was on this desert patio where my art career began.
There were many fun outings to Simmon’s Art Supplies in Old Town Scottsdale where my dad would let me pick out a small canvas and some acrylic paint colors that I liked (not many 3-year-olds were lucky enough to play with acrylic paints… they don’t wash out easily!) Then back to the patio we would go … I would stand next to him with my big paint shirt on, sleeves rolled-up, ready for business. I would watch carefully as he mixed his paints, held the brush and applied the paint to his canvas. My canvas was so little and so was I, but I felt big standing there next to him! I was an artist! He just let me dip my paintbrush into those colors and paint away!
A few houses later and into my early elementary years, I attended various art classes. One that stands out was a class taught by artist, Earl Linderman, known for his flamboyant cartoon-like figures. This is where I learned and understood that no matter how or what I created, it was right. It was during the bowl of lemons still-life session that this lesson was made very clear to me. I clearly remember staring at that bowl of lemons, scared to begin. I remember Mr. Linderman walking to my side and gently asking what I was thinking. “I don’t know if I can do it right,” I told him. His response, I will never forget, “How you see that bowl of lemons is how you need to paint them, there is no wrong way to do it.” I recall the fear leaving my young body. This art teacher had just given me the freedom to be me, without judgement…what a life gift that was!
There were school art projects and contests entered. There were college drawing classes attended. There were greeting cards created for local stationery stores and craft fairs. Fast forward, there were stage props created and Art Masterpiece classes taught in my daughters’ classes. Then, it was time to get serious about putting my art out there. I was ready to become a working artist! Yikes! It had all been for fun but this decision changed everything! I had made the choice to share my work with the world and put a price tag on it!
I purchased a beautiful wooden easel and a set of acrylic paints & brushes. It was getting seriously real and honestly I was full of doubt. I loved to create so why so much pressure? How are people going to receive my work … remember the lemons , remember the lemons kept running though my mind. Am I going to be compared to my dad, how could I ever create like he did…. remember the lemons, remember the lemons. I set-up my well-lit painting area, all my supplies neatly placed upon my painting table, just waiting there for me to begin.
I dove in… that was 2008 and in 2012 I had my first art show. I rented an empty space, a perfect fit for a showing, with big, blank, white walls and great lighting… it was meant to be. I wanted to be in the space by myself as I prepared for and hung the show …I thought about my dad. It was emotional for sure and at the same time freeing. I wasn’t truly by myself, I felt my dad there with me. The two beautiful nights in October of 2012 were amazing, humbling & emotional. It was my debut….I was now officially a working artist!
A website was created, a blog section was added… my love of writing emerged. Commission paintings were created, art was shown in various venues, intuitive art classes formed and the story continues…. and every time I go to my easel I think about that little artist standing there next to her dad, creating away, feeling like a big artist. I think about those lemons, honoring the artist within me & my teachers along the way….creating & painting, just as I see it! And that is how it began.
Abstract -Age 3
People often ask how I begin a painting .. what is my process? I love this question because I feel it helps them to really get to know the artist within me and provides such great insight into an artist’s world. The answer is: it is different for each new piece I create… some just flow and some have to be worked and reworked. Often a vision for a painting will pop right into my head and I will quickly sketch it out before the vision disappears. The sketches stay in a file that I go back to for inspiration and some never make it on a canvas. Sometimes it begins with a hike in the desert, taking in the beauty, the colors and the natural organic shapes that live there. And sometimes, my work begins with tears. Tears you may ask? Yes, tears …. beautiful, cleansing tears that make way for the sun to shine & inspiration to bloom! Tears, a sign of strength not weakness… the honoring of emotions and letting go.
The act of creating comes from deep within. My latest painting began with tears, as I sat in my studio staring at a large blank canvas. I was overcome with emotion thinking about this gift… this beautiful gift to pick out glorious colors that I love and arrange them on a canvas that feels good to my soul. I was reflecting on my life, wanting my art to represent the journey I continue to live out. I thought about how my dad pounded the pavement as a young artist, painting what felt right to him and how he & other teachers taught me to do the same. I thought about how a sensitive soul can get lost in the shuffle of life, underestimated at times. I thought about the heart and how much this small & intricate organ experiences in a lifetime: the pain, the joy, the disappointment, the strength, the fear, the hope, the love and how important it is to feel, really feel, all of these emotions. I thought about what my agent recently told me (I don’t really have an agent, actually a dear friend, smile) “It is time to stop holding back, time to fly!”
And then, with those tears still flowing, now standing in front of that large blank canvas resting safely on my sturdy wooden easel ….with strength and clarity, the chosen colors mixed, I picked up my paintbrush…it just began .. .every tear turned into a brush stoke. And then, when the tears dried, my eyes saw a bold and strong piece. I couldn’t stop painting …I worked on into the night.
The how it begins…. unique to each work…. and with the completion of each piece, an honoring of the artist within me … an artist who wants you to know that a good cry is healing, as for the grace that blooms from those tears is simply magical….
We are living in confusing and tough times with unknowns and emotions abound, trying to navigate the best we can. How we personally get through this strange place we find ourselves in looks different for each one of us. My heart goes out to all!
Personally, I have had to dig deep these past few months striving to stay open-minded while being closed-off from the world around me. A few meltdowns have occurred when I allowed fear to take over but through loving friends, I was gently reminded to keep the faith. With everything that is swirling around us right now, I pray that what finally lands and sticks is empathy, love, strength, patience, kindness, clarity & light for all of humanity. I hold on to the belief that there is a grander and a more magnificent plan in the works than we could ever imagine! So I keep moving forward and when this world can fully “open back up”, hopefully even stronger than ever before, I will be ready to face it with a fresh perspective and clearer understanding of my place here on this vast earth.
I believe as humans we are here to help one another, encourage one another and with that comes a vulnerability…. sharing that personal side, the real & the raw, the joys & the fears, the challenges & the successes. My next few blog posts will give a look into my creative journey, my creative process, and the raw emotions that accompany it all. My hope is you will take comfort in my writings & perhaps be inspired to tap into that creative place within yourself… yes, it is there, just waiting to arise and release! We have had to be close to our thoughts over these past few months…we must be gentle with ourselves, taking good care of our tender souls!
I have always loved shadow images. There is a subtle strength, serenity, grace and softness there… a place of stillness, healing and reflecting. Then, as we move out of the shadows, a boldness, a flood of light, a clearer vision appears as we move forward…
Stay tuned for, “The Artist ~ How It Begins”.