Turbulent Times

  1967 was a turbulent time. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement...Viet Nam War protests...Hippies, Flower Children and Haight Ashbury... 6 pm news with Walter Cronkite announcing in his sad grandfatherly voice, the body count from the day's battles in Viet Nam...the world was topsy turvy... and I was painting.
  Each night after dinner dishes were done I would go up to my room and sketch and paint. Magazine photos were my inspiration and my teaching tool. Black and white photos were still the standard. Look and Life magazine photo journalists captured the world and relayed it to us through full page spreads.
  I do not remember what the article was about, all I know was I was inspired by a photo of an old man. First I did a sketch and then I did a painting of him. My father loved the painting and it hung in our living room for sometime, but I, being the impatient artist had another inspiration for a painting. So the old man painting was gessoed over and another inspired image covered the canvas, but somewhere in time (Father's Day? Birthday?) I gave my father the sketch of the old man which I had decoupaged onto a scrap of distressed pine.
  Now 50 years later, and world is still awash in turbulent times, I look at the old man sketch and am reminded that inspiration, beauty, love and kindness are always available for those who chose to be it.
Old Man 6"x7 1/2" Pencil & Watercolor on newsprint/ Mary Anita Winklea 1967

Then and Now...

   Recently I applied for a grant. This was the first time I had gone through this process and in doing so I was given the gift of looking back over at my 50+ year history as a painter. One of the grant requirements was to write a narrative of my journey as an artist and to accompany this narrative with photos of my work.
   The grant application is now signed, sealed and sent off into the internet ethers, but still in my thoughts. Not in the sense of will I get it or not, but with the deeper realization that the vast portion of my life has been spent pursing this passion to paint! I find myself still amazed that at 16 years old my heart was cracked so wide open by the words in a book, Van Gogh: a self portrait a collection of letters written to his brother Theo.
    Last October this book came back into my life. One of my sisters was moving to Hawaii and clearing out her collection of books and there it was, my book complete with my name, address and phone number I had written on the back page some 50+ years ago.
   Fate? Serendipity? I would like to think of it as a reaffirmation of my path, my destiny. I am a painter and though it has not always sustained me financially it has always filled my heart.
    "In those (paintings) there is at least something straight from my own heart."Vincent Van Gogh
Daisies 71/2" x 16 3/8" oil on tagboard/ Mary Anita Winklea 1963

Garden Storm 12" x 12" oil on canvas/Mary Anita Winklea 2016

And so the journey continues....

The "Imaginary Gardens" opening was wonderful. Thank you to all my family and friends who attended.
What a journey this has been creating all of these paintings. In all my years of painting I had never created a themed "body of work" until now...no... wait...I have created series but most were illustrative or vehicles of learning. Yes they were "painted" but not what most would call, "Paintings" or "Fine Art" or...maybe it is just me, the scared me, the little me looking outside, comparing myself to others. Judging myself by price tags and sales...not honoring the truth that with each completed piece of work I had tapped into part of my soul. I had tapped into what the ancient Greeks called "Genius" that bit of star soul that each of us are born with but tend not to listen to or act upon, but instead listen to the babbles of the world, judge ourselves and then act upon what is shown to us as "successful...popular...trending..."

Golly...true confessions...deep breath...

I am a painter. I will continue to be a painter and paint. And so the journey continues...

Iris Wishes/2016/ 12"x16"/Mary Anita Winklea/Photo Ernie Viskupic
For comments or information: mwinklea@gmail.com 

"Use bigger brushes. Paint faster. Don't hold back!"

I  came across this sage advice in a newsletter I receive. It is from an interview with Allen C. Smith,  abstract painter. He was asked what advice would he give a beginning painter. My initial thought was, "This has nothing to do with me, my painting techniques..." as I toiled away with my teeny tiny #0 round brush on the painting below. It is a small canvas, 12"x 12" filled with lots of tiny details. "He is an abstract painter," I thought, "with lots of splash and drags of color. I don't paint that way." But his words kept popping into my head days later as I moved onto my next painting on a larger 16" x 20" cradled board. And there I was again dibbing and dabbing away with my tiny brushes and wondering why the painting was not progressing as quickly as I had wanted it to. I was holding back. I was painting really, really slowly...and I was using teeny tiny brushes...and, what I would add to Allen C. Smith's sage advice is..."get out of your head and into your heart"
Garden Storm (WIP) 12"x 12" oil on canvas/Photo Ernie Viskupic
For comments or information: www.mwinklea@gmail.com

Crossing The Bridge...

Years ago when I was exploring how spirituality and creativity intersect I read a quote from Matthew Fox which went something like this, "The bridge between chaos and peace is creativity..."
I love this quote and am finding it comforting as I progress on this painting adventure. Facing the chaos of the smears and streaks of my brush cleanings onto cradled boards can be daunting and with much turning and seeking some sense as to top or bottom becomes clear. Taking a piece of white chalk I begin to outline random areas of shapes all the while questioning, "What shape is this? Tree? Flower? Grass?" And, sometimes slowly while other times with mind spinning quickness, "AHA!" the layout of the painting comes into focus and for a moment all is peaceful. The chaos seems tamed, manageable soon to be locked into place with painted white lines...but as with all living things, chaos always lurks... lines get painted over...shapes altered, deleted or added...the painting grows and expands...chaos...creativity...peace...
Iris Wishes (WIP)16"x20" Oil on Cradled Board / Photo by Ernie Viskupic
For Comments or information:www.mawinklea@gmail.com

...and so it begins...

These swirls, smears and brush strokes are how I begin a painting. Well, maybe I should clarify that. This is how I begin one of my "Imaginary Gardens" paintings. I began this adventure almost two years ago and posted pictures of the first imaginary garden paintings I had done. They were quite small, the largest being 8"x10". Time passed. I sold several of the paintings and life went on. I did some commissioned  portraits and continued my practice of "brush cleaning" moving onto larger boards with the thought that eventually I would do more Imaginary Gardens. Well that time has come. I have been invited to show some of my work at a local frame shop and I would like to share this experience with you as I work to put this collection together. With six paintings in progress I will begin my posts at the beginning...with swirls, smears, and brush strokes...
9"x12" oil on cradled board / photo by Ernie Viskupic

20"x20" oil on cradled board /photo by Ernie Viskupic
For information or comments: www.mwinklea@gmail.com

Getting ready for another move...

Clearing out my map cabinet I came across this watercolor painting, a greeting card illustration I did in 1980 for Windermere Press. A gentle reminder in the midst of chaos.
With gentle grace the swan moves from one side of the pond to another.