Tag Archives: artist’s life

How many artists paint the Universe?

I wish I could say I’ve been too busy recently to post a blog, I guess I could, but it would be a lie. I’ve been in a deep down funk. Working on keeping myself busy and pulling myself out of the hole I’m in. I’ve had other things going on, like being the event coordinator for the Silver City Studio Tour and working on my paint party class.

Recently finished, 36×36” oil on canvas, part of my Space series, untitled for now.

I’m teaching my third paint party class tonight in Silver City with plans for more in April. It’s been fun, plus it gives me something to do away from the house. Don’t get me wrong, I love my home and the entire environment around my home, but I’m a social person and I need to get out and talk to people from time to time. I did get to spend a few days in Santa Fe at the beginning of March. It’s always inspirational to see the galleries and exhibits. I really needed that boost!

Detail of my current work in progress, another “Space” painting.

Since returning from Santa Fe, I’ve been spending more time in my painting studio. I recently finished the next painting in my “Space” series and started another. I’ve committed myself to building up my large painting inventory so I can approach galleries about showing my work.

I have been having a difficult time lately being positive about my art career, but I’ve also been working on being kind to myself. My most important goal is to keep making art that speaks to and from my soul.

I recently had a comment on a post of one of my paintings and after I thanked the person for their kind words, they said, “it’s not everybody who can draw the Universe”. It made my day and made me think. I guess I am painting the Universe, in a small way. The Space series is definitely my most ambitious series. I’m not attempting to paint it just like it is in photos, but how I feel it in my soul. My art has always had a much deeper meaning, even if I don’t know how to express that meaning in words.

I guess that’s why I chose painting to express myself!

Facing Defeat

In a manner of speaking anyway. I really wanted to make that huge, cool commercial space work for my studio. So much so that I let it become an obsession past the point of it making any sense. Yesterday was my realization day. A building filled with smoke hit me like the sign from the Universe I believe it was meant to be. Not that a clogged stove pipe is such a tragedy, it can be cleaned. It was the meltdown that followed that made me realize I was fighting a useless uphill battle that I didn’t want to fight anymore. I have a beautiful home in the Mimbres Valley with gorgeous views and plenty of room to make and store art.

My new studio, the whole building is all mine!
I’m giving up the dream studio!

At the point where I completely lost it, my sweet husband showed up for his lunch break. He calmed me down and suggested I make a pros/cons list to help make my decision easier. I have never been good at making decisions. I’m super wishy washy when it comes to having to chose one thing over the other. Thank goodness for my sweetie who always makes sense of my chaos.

I decided first, to go home to make my list. I needed to be in a place where I could breathe. A smoky room doesn’t really fulfill that need! After making the list it was very obvious what my decision should be. Funny thing is, it was the opposite choice from what I THOUGHT I wanted, but as soon as I saw it on the page? It was like a two ton weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt some relief from the anxiety and depression I’ve been feeling for over a month now.

I have a habit of putting undue pressure on myself. I’ve always held myself to this ridiculous standard that no one could ever achieve. I’m done. Time to love myself and let myself go with the flow for a change!

Photography

As long as I can remember, I’ve had a camera for taking photos. I got my first camera when I was 8 years old. My mom graduated from college that year and she received a 35mm camera for a graduation gift. I inherited her old 110 camera. Obviously, this was back in the film only days. I took photos of my life, friends, animals, scenery.

Sunrise in Mimbres
“Sunrise in Mimbres”, one of my favorites!

My maternal grampy was also a photographer. He was mainly a portrait photographer, his photos were of family, but he sometimes took photos for friend’s life events as well. I always loved his portraits, in fact, I painted a portrait of myself as a 2 year old using one of his photos for reference.

“Grampy’s Girl”, watercolor on paper, not a great photo, it was taken with my very first digital camera which was less than 1mp and cost over $500 at the time! (Around 2000)

In my first year of college at NMSU, I took a photography class so I could learn how to develop my own film. I had already spent time in my grampy’s dark room, but I was too young at the time to learn from him. My most vivid memory of his darkroom was the day I made the mistake of running out into his print shop and ran right into a paper cutter with my forehead. I had to be taken to the ER for a few stitches that day. I was 6.

“Desert Textures” poster, 11×19″ on paper

Back to that first year of college, I had originally signed up to be an art major, but after a boring Art 101 class and a very cool photography class, I switched to Photojournalism. About midway through that year, I decided to join the Army and my goal was to become an Army photographer. Unfortunately, that job was rare and I would have had to wait years to get it. Being the impatient person I am, I ended up giving up on that goal.

Sunrise in Mimbres II
“Sunrise in Mimbres II”, the sky is so gorgeous where we live!

While I was away at Basic Training, my husband (now ex!) decided to sell my 35mm camera given to me by my mom. He had a drug problem, he also sold my car! Needless to say, it was a while before I had a camera again. I honestly don’t remember when I finally bought my next camera, but I know it was years. I remember using those cheap disposable cameras at the time. I was heartbroken over the loss of my fancy camera, and went back to my art. A pencil and piece of paper were much cheaper.

"Reflection"
“Reflection”

Fast forward to now, and I still don’t have a good 35mm camera. I use my ipad to take photos, for now! My sweetie has promised to buy me a new digital camera soon. Even so, the ipad takes really good photos. I love all the functionality of it. “Live” photos, video, looping, etc.

Golden Moss
“Golden Moss”, my latest addition to the Textures series.

I have recently had several people ask me about purchasing my photos. I sold my photography in my etsy shop years ago, but haven’t really thought about it again until someone asked. It doesn’t hurt that I live in this gorgeous place where it’s super easy to get a GREAT shot! Needless to say, I will start selling my photography again this year.

Garden Gate
“Garden Gate” my favorite part of the garden to photograph, it’s like the entry into the Secret Garden!

The plan is to release a photography portfolio of 10-20 images to start. It will be a part of my Spring 2019 Portfolio. Most will be landscape and skyscape photos, but I will most likely include my “Texture” series of abstract detail photos I released several years ago. There are two posters of images, one of “Desert Textures” and the other of “SW Forest Textures”. If you have followed me for years, you may remember them! I can envision doing more “Texture” photos in the future, they were so much fun!

Stone and Sky
“Stone and Sky” landscape in the Gila Wilderness

Some people have commented on my photos that they would make great paintings, and though this may be true, I see my paintings and photographs as totally unrelated. I see photography as an art in itself. I used to paint landscapes and it frustrated me. Mainly because it’s impossible to improve on nature, so why try? Not that I don’t completely appreciate a gorgeous landscape painting, but it’s not for me.

This is just a small sampling of photos I intend to make available for purchase. Stay tuned for more, coming soon! You can subscribe to my blog above, or go to http://www.paulamanninglewis.com and sign up for my email list to make sure you get my updates!

Painting over old work

I’ve been back to work in my studio for a couple of weeks now. I use the word “work” loosely here. I’ve been depressed. To the point of not being able to get myself moving. I’ve been practicing self care and trying not to beat myself up too much. I’m my own worst critic. I guess we all are. I’m really hard on myself, I always have been.

the artist
Me! In my studio. I figured it was time for a new profile photo and figured I’d say “HI” in person! lol.

I took time off for the Holidays, like I always do. I’ve always been excited to get back to work in the studio after a good break, not so much this year. I was working on a large painting before I took time off and I’ve had a really hard time getting back into it. I LOVE this painting, I cannot wait to see it finished, but there is this nagging anxiety that I can’t finish it because I might mess it up. I will eventually get back to it, but until then….

Dance for Joy
This is the older painting I’ve destroyed, “Dance for Joy”. I was never really happy with how it turned out.

This Monday, I decided it was time to take a break from beating myself up over this latest painting. Time to play with paint and work over an old failed painting. I really LOVE doing this! It’s so fun to destroy an old painting while at the same time, creating a new one! It is a great way to get the rust out too. I finished one Tuesday morning and started another in the afternoon.

work in progress
My second “paint over” in progress, still working on this one.

I’ve discovered I don’t use enough blue in my paintings. Apparently, blue is a favorite color for lots of people. Not one of my favorites, but I guess I could give it equal time! If not equal, at least give it a chance every once in a while.

Leaps and bounds
“Leaps and Bounds” This is the first “paint over” I did this week. Another rushed painting that I was never truly happy with. Looking at it now, it’s quite obvious it was never finished

My personal favorite colors, for painting with anyway, are red, yellow and purple and I throw green in every once in a awhile. The best part of this exercise of playing with paint? It’s pulled me out of my depression! It’s true what they say, art saves lives. It’s saved mine more times than I can count.

Finished paint over
Here it is! The finished paint over of “Leaps and Bounds”, 12×12″ oil on canvas. I love how the old painting still shows through, but the composition and feeling of the piece has completely changed! Available for $225, contact me for more info, it’s not on the website.


Happy New Year!

I’m so happy to be back in the studio! I had a lovely Holiday break, time with family, lots of snow and thankfully, some serious peace and quiet. I’m rested and ready to get back to work.

Enjoying the snow
Aaron and I enjoying the snow in front of our house!

I haven’t had the chance to paint just yet, so no progress pics to share. I figured it would be a good time to share some of my photos from the snow storm that hit just AFTER Christmas.

Our house in the snow
Our house from the back side, in the snow!

It was probably a good thing it snowed two days after Christmas, or our kids wouldn’t have been able to get home to Albuquerque! We were so happy to have all three of our sons, one DIL and one grandson down to visit for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. We had a great time playing “Cards against Humanity”, Jenga and “Speak Out”, a hilarious game everyone should play at least once! I haven’t laughed that hard in years!

Sun peeking thru the clouds
After the snow, when the sun finally started to peek out again!

We had planned on hiking everyday during our vacation, but the weather had other plans. We did take a couple of hikes in the snow, but once it started to melt, the hiking trails were way too muddy! While we enjoyed hanging around the house and watching movies and reading, the dogs were less than overjoyed.

Rock cairn in the yard
Rock cairn in the yard

Once the roads cleared up, (the mountain pass highway from I-25 to our house was closed for days!) we made a trip to Las Cruces and then to Cloudcroft to visit more family. I’m happy to report my art will soon be showing at a new Bakery/Coffee shop/Gallery in downtown Cloudcroft, Eight the Cake.

Hiking near the Mimbres River
Hiking near the Mimbres River in the Gila National Forest.

Hiking the Gila: Trees

Alligator Juniper tree

Hard to tell in this photo, but this is a HUGE tree!

I love trees! Shouldn’t we all? I mean, come on, they give us oxygen to live! When I was a kid, I loved to climb up into their branches. I even swung out of a tree with a garden hose once and had to get xrayed for a possible collar-bone fracture. It turned out it was just a bad bruise. I never swung out of a tree again after that day! I have climbed up into their branches again and again though.

Twisted Alligator Juniper with Aaron in the photo for scale!

Twisted Alligator Juniper with Aaron in the photo for scale!

Aaron and I went for a hike in the Gila Wilderness this past Sunday. We went back to Rocky Canyon since we didn’t make it far on the trail the last time. Actually, last time, we took a split in the trail to see a cave. This time, we hiked the main Rocky Canyon trail and I must say, the name is a bit misleading! The trail only stays in the canyon for about a half mile before climbing several hundred, possibly a thousand, feet up and out of the canyon. The trail then follows the ridge top for quite some time. We ended our hike after about 2 1/2 miles, at Brannon Park.

Alligator Juniper. This side shows the twisted trunk better

Alligator Juniper. This side shows the twisted trunk better

While on the ridge top, we encountered a massive grove of Alligator Juniper trees. Alligator Junipers get their name from the texture of their bark. It looks like the skin of an alligator. These specific trees have always fascinated me. They are usually old and twisted. This grove was OLD. The trees were HUGE!

Not sure what type of tree this one is, but I love it!

Not sure what type of tree this one is, but I love it!

One in particular was very twisted. It looked as if a giant had spun it from the top, the trunk had several parts to it and they were all twisted around each other. Even the branches were twisted. I wonder what causes this? My guess is the wind, but if anyone knows for sure, let me know!

Charred remains of a Ponderosa Pine. That must have been a big fire!

Charred remains of a Ponderosa Pine. That must have been a big fire!

It was quite obvious when we left the grove of Juniper trees. It was almost like a line had been drawn and the Junipers were separated from another grove of Ponderosa Pines. Brannon Park is where the pine trees lived and the park was at a lower elevation from the ridge top where the Junipers were. We came into the park as we came down the hill.

Alligator Juniper

Alligator Juniper

In Brannon Park where we stopped for our lunch break, there was a muddy stream bed that was drying out. Just enough water remained for the dogs to get a drink. As we sat eating we noticed there was a flock of Bushtits congregating around the dwindling water supply. We heard the squawk of a hawk, but never saw it. We don’t get to see much wildlife when we hike, thanks to the dogs. I guess that could be a good or bad thing!

I am so grateful to now live in southern New Mexico! It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day! Hearing about blizzards in other parts of the country, I’ll take a sunny end of November day anytime!

Abstract

I have always loved abstract art. I’ve attempted to paint in an abstract style for years, but never felt I did it right until these five paintings. When I started the 20 plus canvases this Summer, my goal was to paint them all completely abstract with no recognizable objects. No suns or flowers, just pure abstraction. I ended up going in several different directions. These five stayed true to my original intention. Several wandered back to my spiral abstract series style with the mandala effect. Six became my new Energy series that I wrote about in my last blog post. Plus a handful of heart/love related paintings.

This one is still a work in progress, 12 x 12" oil on canvas

This one is still a work in progress, 12 x 12″ oil on canvas

I have one that is still a work in progress. Somehow it slipped by when I was finishing up the Fall Portfolio. Not sure how it will be completed, I suspect it’s very close to finished in it’s current state.

Landscape with Rain, 12x12" oil on canvas, Pure Abstract Series, Available for $225.

Landscape with Rain, 12×12″ oil on canvas, Pure Abstract Series, Available for $225.

“Landscape with rain” was painted in my home studio, looking out over the Mimbres Valley. The clouds were settled in to the valley and it rained daily. Though I meant this to be a pure abstract, looking at it now, I can see the hills and clouds and rain. It feels like Summer rain to me.

"Balanced", 12 x 12" oil on canvas, Pure Abstract Series, Available for $225

“Balanced”, 12 x 12″ oil on canvas, Pure Abstract Series, Available for $225

“Balanced” was done after I moved in to my new studio in Santa Clara. I called it balanced because I felt it was the closest to my original goal for this group of paintings. A Pure Abstract painting. It started as a scribble and the colors were filled in with pure intuition. It was one of those paintings that felt perfect and great as I was making it. It flowed from a place of pure inspiration. Al

"All I Speak is Love", 12 x 12" oil on canvas, Pure Abstract Series, Available for $225

“All I Speak is Love”, 12 x 12″ oil on canvas, Pure Abstract Series, Available for $225

“All I Speak is Love” was inspired by a song written and performed by a musician friend. Alison Reynolds is an incredible song writer and musician in Las Cruces, New Mexico. This painting was specifically inspired by her song, 3 Monkeys. Give it a listen!

"Eye of the Storm", 12 x 12" oil on canvas, Pure Abstract Series, Available for $225.

“Eye of the Storm”, 12 x 12″ oil on canvas, Pure Abstract Series, Available for $225.

“Eye of the Storm” was started in August at my home studio. In the midst of above average rainfall, storms were on the mind when this painting was started. We had some intense thunderstorms with spectacular lightning shows. Someone on social media pointed out the eye in the middle and it stuck. Not easy to paint a pure abstract without someone seeing something represented! 😉

I definitely see more pure abstracts coming in the future. I love concentrating more on the colors and composition of the brush strokes. Not thinking about whether it “looks like” anything. Stay tuned for more! If you want to get notice when I paint more, subscribe to my email list and get regular updates on new paintings, blog posts and studio sales! My Small Business Saturday Sale is coming up THIS WEEK!