Monthly Archives: April 2016

Sunfire doll and the desert

My sister Beth invited me to Tucson to take a doll workshop with Gretchen Lima, her favorite doll creator, who happens to live nearby in the desert.

It was delightful to learn from taking another artist’s workshop, relax into her instructions, and see her fabulous studio setup. Here is a rare picture of my sister sewing (on the right).

VailGretchenLimaDollWkshBethSewing

And here is my doll creation, called Sunfire, inspired by my sunshiney red-headed daughter Amber.

GretchenLimaWkshSunfireDoll1

Can you see the resemblance?

May2012 329.AmberDreadsNorwCrop

Ha, that’s a funny picture of Amber a few years ago, but it looks closer to the doll than most!

Here is some desert beauty from our hike: a field of prickly pear; ocotillo flowers in the deep blue sky; palo verde branches with a bird’s nest; and…a little prickly pear love!

VailDesertPricklyPear VailOcotilloFlowersInSky

VailDesertPaloVerde+Nest VailDesertHeartCactus

 

Heart-filled group

What a lovely class I had in March, three heart-filled, outflowing artists from the Phoenix area and one from Sedona. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of them, but here are their fascinating artworks.

Acrylic on paper paintings by Julie Chrismer, Perri Skolnick, Mary Ann Turney, Ellen Shell

A kind of self-report card I use for my teaching is, how different are the artworks that my students create in class? The more different they are, the more successful I feel I have been in bringing out the uniqueness of the artist.

 

Dear deer: Creating through desire and allowing

For the Sedona Arts Center 36th Annual Juried Members Show, March 4-28, 2016, I entered two paintings; both got selected. One of them was an odd painting that came out of me after I had moved to Arizona, yet didn’t feel settled yet.

I had been looking at a pink and yellow canvas for quite awhile. The rectangular pink form on the lower half had begun to take on a life of its own.

That’s when my friend Scott, forever passionate about deer, commissioned me to paint a deer portrait.

Quiet, detail, acrylic on canvas, 20"Hx24"W, 2014. Private collection

Quiet, detail, Julie Bernstein Engelmann, acrylic on canvas, 20″Hx24″W, 2014. Private collection

In the course of looking at deer faces and deer paintings I got onto the wavelength. Suddenly it became clear what the vision was on my pink and yellow canvas:

Julie Bernstein Engelmann, Creating Through Desire and Allowing, acrylic on canvas, 25"Hx25"W

Julie Bernstein Engelmann, Creating Through Desire and Allowing, acrylic on canvas, 25″Hx25″W

The force of those antlers was very masculine compared to my usual flowy forms. I may have to return to such imagery one day! The eye needed to remain in transition – an abstraction transition…

The title, “Creating Through Desire and Allowing,” was a subject on my mind. How do you manifest something in your life? The object coming into view between the antlers represents to me the oscillation between desire and allowing that occurs in the process of bringing a creation into being, into reality.

 

Let it be easy

To watch a good artist on a roll is to see ease in motion. Like a trickling brook, the artist cascades from one brushstroke to the next, allowing the gravity of ease to carry them. 

Less experienced artists may struggle. Overthinking and under-observing make it hard to hear the natural voice of ease and flow.

Let it be easy!

For example, does the motion of your brushstroke seem to expand your joy, intrigue, and relief? Or does it contract, like your mind is taking control because it doesn’t trust the muse? Expand or contract: that distinction makes it easy!

Listen richly to life.

See if you have room, right now, to loosen up and let it be easy. Allow the light and sound around you to help you — you are in an ocean of Source!  Each moment is a chance to open to expansion and ease.

LetItBeEasy24x30-3

Let It Be Easy, by Julie Bernstein Engelmann, acrylic and latex on partially primed canvas, 24″H x 30″W