Tag Archives: freedom

Art Mimics Life



Can you tell I’m hiding out on the peaceful shores of Lake Michigan? Here is Clay Cliffs, a Leelanau Conservancy-protected land. 18 x 18 oil painting

The most fascinating thing about art history is the context.

Artists respond to current events. The Renaissance literally means “rebirth”; artists were responding to the Dark Ages, saying “no more” and looking towards enlightenment. And so it goes throughout the history of art: Impressionists were responding to years of constraint in art. The invention of tube paint and the camera gave a newfound freedom to get outside and paint plein air, leaving literal interpretation to the camera. With such freedom, they made bolder, freer art. The establishment hated it. The Post Impressionist took that even further.


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is another treasure of Michigan, and a favorite resting place. 18 x 18 oil painting

In America right now, current events are blowing up all over every day. Movements are forming and the “unprecedented” is happening everyday. So how are artists responding? I don’t know quite yet. I only know that they are, and they will.

I am wrestling with this issue almost daily in the studio. I don’t know how to respond with art. Almost a decade ago, I made a choice to keep art as my happy place, to make art that brings about a smile. To make art that celebrates the landscapes I love so deeply. And to save the issues that matter most to me for writing and personal exploration. I have long been an activist, a philanthropist, championing for children’s rights for a quality education in Ethiopia. Equality and justice matter deeply to me. Now this struggle is on my own front door … that is more complex to share than boarding a plane to Ethiopia. When it came to Ethiopia, I choose to celebrate the beauty and dignity of the culture in my art. That was what was truest to my heart. It remains truest to my heart to keep art a riotous, joyous celebration.


More Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park goodness. Here, the view overlooks the Glen Lakes. 18 x 18 oil painting

I’ve heard it said, “Leave it to the artist to explain the why.” I cannot explain to you the why, or tell you why life is simultaneously hard and unfair and beautiful and resilient. But I can share with you the struggle: You’re not alone, and neither am I. And I can tell you that this American struggle is deeply on my mind; as a private citizen, I am extremely active and engaged, and I think we are all called upon right now to be so. Even if it’s just putting more kindness into the world — do that!

As for my art, for now I rest, steady in the knowledge that the mere act of making art is enough. The celebration of art is a rebellion. And I promise you this, I will keep making and celebrating art at the top of my lungs, though the words of Nina Simone haunt me: “You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”

What do you think? As always I love when you join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll see you there!


The skies over Lake Michigan are as glorious as the shore, and never overlooked by my artist’s eye. 14 x 14 oil painting

Inspiration from London’s ‘Megaton’ Art Collection


Gazing upon a Turner

Don’t you want to be moved? Enchanted? Wowed? Let’s go make that happen!

London, simply put, has an enormous amount of mega art. By “mega art,” I mean hugely influential famous art from throughout history. One can stroll the museums there and take a walk through time in the medium of art. Badass art!

Moved to tears, feeling like a giant sap, I wept my way through the National Gallery and the Turner galleries at the Tate Britain. J.M.W. Turner is an artist whose work has to be viewed in real life. On paper, in books, you know it’s exceptional, but in person, you might just get swept away. He was a landscape painter. Better put, he set landscapes free. Free from the confines of the Royal Academy of Art and its stuffy rules. Free from expectation and free to be paint on canvas and nothing more or less.

He was a master who had so mastered his craft that he could set it free so to speak. In no way is his work all “loosey goosey”; it’s masterful, but free. Especially the work from the last 15 or so years of his life. This is true for many artists through history. In their latter years, I suspect — as in life itself — you feel more free to do as you please and care less what others think. Maybe we could all learn from that. What do you think?

There is a desire here to inspire you to go, gaze upon art and let yourself be moved. There are stories there in these paintings — uncover them with joy and wonder!

What are inspires you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on my Facebook page!

Admiring a Renoir

Admiring a Renoir