Thursday, April 27, 2017

856 Resilience

When I received my Spring issue of ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) News in the mail, it motivated me to finish this little girl's portrait.  So many of the children smile for the ANERA photographers, and I often wonder if, despite their horrible living conditions,  they are simply resilient, or thrilled to have their pictures taken, or happy to see visitors.  Perhaps it's a little of all of those things.  Their smiles give me hope, possibly falsely, because things are looking less and less optimistic for them, despite the Herculean efforts of ANERA and other relief organizations.  Some kids can't seem to muster up a smile, looking either sick or tired (have you noticed they ALL have circles under their eyes?  Is it any wonder?).

This painting is my fifteenth portrait of refugee children in Lebanon and Palestine as part of my effort called The Innocents Project.  I started this project to put faces to those we call "refugees," children who are deserving of all the things we hope to provide to our children, but who cannot receive because of situations beyond their control.  I am hoping not only to raise awareness of these children, but to raise money for ANERA.

The report from the ANERA program manager in Lebanon, Dima Zayat is grimly called, "Refugees Are Losing Hope."   Dima tells a story about a Palestinian refugee from Syria who fled to Lebanon, which makes him twice exiled.  He has five children, and he and his family left everything--their house, garden, school for the children, and his small grocery store in Syria to flee to safety in Lebanon.    The shed they now call home is dilapidated, and the kids have dirty clothes and matted hair.

Dima reports that the refugees are losing hope.  Many of them hoped to resettle to the United States to live normal lives again.  But that won't happen.  Instead they, along with 1.5 Million registered refugees from Syria (who knows how many are not yet registered?) are currently living in Lebanon where the camps are overpopulated, often unsafe, and barely provide the minimum of what they need. Reliable water and electricity don't exist.  Over half of the children do not go to school because they have to work.

ANERA does what they can with the 94% of their revenue spent on programs in Lebanon and Palestine.  They seem to be the only hope in providing dignity and distraction from the dire situation. One of ANERA's programs is called Sports for Peace and Development.  We all know the benefits of sports to children, and the refugees are no exception.  The program is encouraging involvement in soccer, basketball, swimming and yoga for both boys and girls and ANERA is working on getting shoes for the children, who play in socks or bare feet, as well as sports jerseys, which really mean a lot to the children.  

I sincerely hope you will go to their website and read about this fine non-partisan organization.  You can read the newsletter or just this article yourself by going to their website,  By way of the magnifying glass, enter ANERA News, Spring 2017.  I guarantee you will be impressed and I hope you will be motivated to make a donation to ANERA.  Large or small, any amount is greatly appreciated.

"856 Resilience"
acrylic - 12x12 in

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

855 Around the Bend, Sunset Trail, Peninsula State Park

The Sunset Trail has many twists and turns.  The arrow points to the right but what other option is there?

In winter, you can snowmobile on certain paths, but we are not daring enough for this activity.

"855 Around the Bend, Sunset Trail, Peninsula State Park"
acrylic - 6x8 in

Monday, April 24, 2017

854 Sunset Trail, Peninsula State Park

The light shining through and on the trees on the Sunset Trail is captivating.  I find the undergrowth almost as interesting as the trees.  In the Spring, there are tiny purple irises that blanket the ground. The felled birches are so beautiful, too.  It's a beautiful place to hike or bike ride.

"854 Sunset Trail, Peninsula State Park"
acrylic - 6x8 in

Sunday, April 23, 2017

853 White Cedar Forest, Sunset Trail, Peninsula State Park

The Sunset Trail in the Peninsula State Park, Door County, Wisconsin is one of my sacred places.  I never miss a chance to walk the path and bask in the glorious light streaming through the trees.  I must have hundreds of photos of trees and light!

The path is 10 miles for the long version or 3 miles for the short one.  When our children were young, it was our tradition to ride bikes for the long trail. There is a spot where a sign urges "Parents, Watch Your Children"  at a steep incline, and our kids would always defiantly speed up and ride hands free. One recent visit, my husband and I took each other's pictures near the sign pretending to be frightened.  Those 10 miles seem much longer now that we are older, and certainly not as much fun without the "kids."

"853 White Cedar Forest, Sunset Trail, Peninsula State Park"
acrylic - 6x8 in

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

852 Peek-a-boo

The owl family is moving around a little more now that Baby is somewhat comfortable with leaving "home," mostly because of parental or predator pressure.   He/she prefers to stay close to the trunk of familiar trees, and seems to be more comfortable with keeping Mom or Dad right next to her/him. Having these creatures near has been a great way to observe nature in all its glory and to encourage neighborly friendliness, and everyone seems to enjoy sharing their experiences and observations.

Thanks again to my neighbors,  Steve and Ann Gardiner, for generously sharing their photos with me, along with permission to paint from them.

I have been keeping busy experimenting with abstracts and different media.  Trust me, it is SO much more difficult than it looks.  To me, a good abstract painting is not just slapping paint on a canvas and calling it an abstract, rather, it has all the elements of a good painting,  and it has been a very slow process, but I am really enjoying it.  My #1 critic has given his approval, so I feel I am on the right track, although he doesn't quite understand why I wouldn't want to stick with "my day job."  ho hum.

"852 Peek-a-boo"
acrylic - 8x10 in

Thursday, April 13, 2017

851 Under Her Wing

Once again this year, we are fortunate enough to have a Great Horned Owl family in our neighborhood. We don't know if these are the same owls as those who graced us in two previous years but we are addicted to observing them in this fairly urban setting.

There is only one owlet this year,  hatched earlier than in previous years, we Owl Ladies speculate because of the mild winter.   As an "only child" we have observed that this owlet is larger than expected, and more "pampered."  We have watched him/her stubbornly refuse to fledge, even when tempted with a plump, tasty rabbit dinner.

Today, the owl family was driven from their pine tree by a "murder" of crows.  I'm not making that up, that's what a group of crows is called!

Thanks to my neighbor, Steve Gardiner, for the photo reference for this painting.  He has a camera that can capture the owls in all their glory and is very generous in sharing his photos with all of the Owl Addicts.

"851 Under Her Wing"
acrylic - 20x16 in

Saturday, April 1, 2017

850 The Perfect Pair

Soon I will be headed to Door County with a carload of paintings to deliver to the Edgewood Orchard Galleries.  The new season will open in early-May, and will continue until the end of October.  If your vacation takes you to Door County, Wisconsin, please stop by.  Edgewood Orchard Galleries is rated #2 in the top ten galleries in Wisconsin.  I am so grateful and proud to be a part of their family of artists!

"850 The Perfect Pair"
acrylic - 8x6 in