“Garden Party”

16x20 oil on hard board
16×20 oil on hard board

“Garden Party” is composed of my favorite subjects, birds and flowers. Who doesn’t love that! Well maybe I am a bit predacious.. Roses, for me, is a real challenge. Getting them to look realistic without looking stiff. I am always trying to capture the essence of the flower. Each time I paint them I feel I have learned a bit more than the last time I tried, so I am always anxious to start another one in anticipation of improving.

In this painting I was trying to capture the feeling of distance in a rose garden without actually showing a distance plane. As I worked on the painting I began to get bored with all the flowers and foliage so I decided it needed some life. I knew I wanted birds but didn’t know exactly how I wanted to incorporate them into the flower garden. My first thought was a bird bath but after laying it out in my mind I decided that would be too large for the scale of the flowers, so settled on a pot with bird seeds and a group of blue birds enjoying their meal in the shelter of the rose garden, and of course every garden has to have a few ants.


In memory of my son Rob
In memory of my son Rob……

Evening Fall’s a Spiritual Journey, is a painting for my son Rob, who recently died of cancer. I wanted do a painting that represented his spiritual beliefs but didn’t know exactly what subject would be most appropriate.

After his passing his ex-wife and a close friend saw an owl and at the same time a shooting star fell to earth. Both thought how appropriate it was because they were both thinking of Rob when it happened on the same night of Sept. 12th.  The ironic thing is, one lives in South Carolina and the other lives 2000 miles away in Colorado. Neither knew what the other had experienced till they shared their experience with each other at a later date.  Their experience gave me the inspiration for his painting.  I remembered Rob often commented on the owls he saw and the spiritual connection he felt to them.  At that point, I realized, he had sent me a message letting me know exactly what he wanted me to paint!  I began my search on Pinterest, one of my favorite social medium sites,  and soon came across a beautiful piece of artwork by a very talented photographer/artist by the name of Angie, who specializes in Celtic scenes.  It was a perfect representation for his painting.  I wanted to ask permission to use her artwork as inspiration for Rob’s painting so I got busy and sent her an email.  The following is her very gracious reply.

“Hello Barbara,

Thank you for your email and for taking the time to ask permission to use my Artwork for your painting. I am very sorry for your loss and I would be honoured for you to use my work as your inspiration. I have always had a deep spiritual connection with Owls myself and ‘Evening Falls’ is my personal favourite out of all the works I have created so far.

The inspiration behind the image was the song and video by Enya of the same name (Evening Falls)and is about memories and returning home – not necessarily in this life but may be another life or even the other side of this life. It has an other worldly feel to the song and that is what I wanted to capture in the picture – A feeling that the veil between this world and the next is thin and we can connect with those on the other side in our dreams.

The owl was photographed at a Medieval Fair in England and the Window is from a country church in Worcestershire, England. The background and the castle in the mist is Kilchurn Castle on the shores of Loch Awe , Highlands of Scotland.

My Birthday is September 11th – so the shooting star may well have been on my Birthday taking in to account the time difference between the UK and the USA. I like coincidences like that – in fact I don’t believe in coincidences, only messages from the Spirit world.

Please let me see the painting when it is finished. I would like to see it. I hope you feel connected to your Son as you paint it – as I am sure he will not be far from you.
Brightest Blessings to you and your Son looking over you.
Angie Latham

Used this for my inspiration.
If you would like to see more of Angie’s  artwork go to her web page at: www.celticmystery.co.uk

One last thing I would like to relate to you before I end this rather long post. I don’t believe in coincidence’s either.  Evening Falls, as you have read in Angie’s email the title of a song by Enya, which was Rob’s favorite artist.  He would listen to her song “Evening Falls” most nights as he went to sleep.  Coincidence or not?? Also, I was talking to my sister on the phone last night and I was explaining to her how I had decided on the subject for Rob’s painting and, quite unexpectedly,  a long multi-colored bar of vibrating light appeared at the bottom of my iPad screen, one I had never seen before, and a bell began to ring?? I was confused as to what kind of message I was getting.  My sister asked what the noise was and I said I don’t know maybe a private message coming in for me but when I went to check I had no new messages from anyone.  I just laughed and said “I guess Rob is letting me know he approve’s……..




Just a quick post on my latest water-color, “Bluebird”, demonstrating the difference it makes when you add more contrast to your water-color’s. When I complete a painting the first thing I do is take a number of pictures in different lighting, in preparation for editing and posting on Facebook. Thinking it looked pretty good, I posted it on my Facebook page. Soon it became apparent to me it was lacking contrast. I know how important it is to take a picture or look at your painting in a mirror to get a more objective view of your work and I thought I had done that, but the longer I looked at it the more I began to realize it looked washed. That is why I wanted to post the two pictures together so you could compare the two.

Needs more contrast.
Needs more contrast.
Finished painting
Finished painting

Now you can see how adding more color helped the bird stand out. Water-color proves to be a big challenge in more ways than one. I have taken a few water-color classes online and have learned some basic techniques, but like all new things, I need a lot more practice. The whole process is totally different from oils and acrylics and I struggle with holding the lights. Even though it is a challenge I really am enjoying learning how to paint in water-colors. It has taught me to me paint more intuitive and let the color describe the objects. If I could suggest one thing to help you become a better artist, it would be to try different mediums. This allows you to be more playful with art and gives you permission to experiment with color and intuitive techniques.

Painting “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”

Living the good life!
Living the good life!

Thought I was finished with this painting “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”  till I got up the next morning and took another long look and realized I wasn’t. I haven’t painted much with acrylics, and didn’t know, as they dry they become darker. I soon recognized I no longer had enough contrast in my values which caused the painting to appear flat. I also saw I didn’t have the 3rd dimension represented either, so I added some distant trees and foliage. It is surprising what you can see after you get

lower left side
lower left side

away from a painting for a while. At this point I was sure I was ready to sign and frame, but I was wrong. After several more days of staring and tweaking I decided it was good?? That brings up a good question, how do you know when a painting is finished? One I have asked myself many times. There is no one answer for everyone but some of my favorite are: This one was surprising to me, “when it is no longer yours.” LOL! I guess that is one way to be finished.. Another good one is “when you can’t find anything that bothers you”. I suppose the best one for me is “it’s not finished till I say it is.” After all it is your decision, you created it and no one can tell you when it is finished… I know some of you are probably thinking, how did I come up with this subject and arrangement and why did I name it “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”? The truth is it started off as a field of wild flowers and slowly evolved into something totally different. I didn’t have a photo to use so I had to use my imagination. I knew I wanted some daisies as one of my main flowers. I have a lot of flowers on my Pinterest board so I went to it and found all of the flowers I needed. Pinterest is an excellent place to keep things you love and what a great place to save photos for inspiration. Then as I got busy painting flowers I knew I should be thinking of composition, which is not something I have much, if any, knowledge in. So I went to YouTube and searched composition videos. It seemed like the rule of thirds was the simplest so I went with that. After I figured out where the center of interest should be located I knew I needed a little bird to fill that position. As I stumbled thru my process the painting began to reveal its self to me and it’s story began to unravel. I learned a real important lesson in that moment. If you allow your imagination to take over your hand will manifest it in paint. This is what I saw in my mind, I was standing on the edge of a lush forested mountain overlooking a deep foggy valley. In the distance I observed a little bird who was taking a break, from sitting on her eggs, she was hungry and needed to grab a bite of breakfast. She flutters over to the nearest branch where she finds some very tasty ants. She thinks to her self, what a special place to live and raise a family. Life is good for her on Mount Tiffany. Yes now you know why I name this painting “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Well I can’t tell lie, my husband looked at the painting and said he had the perfect name for it. “And now you know the rest of the story.” Till next time, my wish for you is to find your Mount Tiffnay…XOXO’s Barbie

distant leaves and trees
distant leaves and trees