paintings by Esther Mahlangy, artist from South Africa

New at the VMFA!

New at the VMFA!


This might make the Winter Blues go away! When I walked into the room and saw these big bright paintings, I said WOW! The plaque isn’t up yet so I don’t know the titles or any info, except a guard told me the artist is from South Africa. The designs reminded me of Native American art.

The lettering on the paintings is “Esther Mahlangy 2014″

Is There A Skill You’d Like To Master?

The Paris Sewed Story Up

Paris Sewed Up – Digital Collage

Ah…Paris in the Springtime. And Spring is such a dreamy Season…finally being able to shake off the cold Winter weather and opening the doors to warmer sweet breezes.

The next challenge for the Lunagirl Moonbeam Design Team is “Sewing”.  I do appreciate the talent of anyone who can sew. Although my Mom is an excellent seamstress, it was a skill I never mastered.

When looking through the beautiful Lunagirl images, the woman with the wistful smile appealed to me.  When I think about sewing, this is how I feel. I am ever hopeful that someday I will go beyond my very skillful button replacement sewing and hem stitching upping. So when I think of sewing thoughts run to Fashion and Fashion comes home to Paris.

I wanted the woman to take center stage in the work. From my own digital ephemera collection I started the piece with a postcard of the Eiffel Tower with postage stamp. I added pattern paper complete with directions. And a dream isn’t a dream unless you have a limitless sky surrounding you. I finished the collage with the joyfully optimistic yellow roses…perhaps a symbol of her future in Fashion Design!

I guess my sewing dreams will continue. What skill would you like to master?

Cold Harbor Battlefield with Broom Straw Grass / oil

The tree leaning in on the right represents me dancing alone.

The tree leaning in on the right represents me dancing alone.

Illusion or Magic?

When I’m out painting in plein air most of the time I can concentrate on it without any interruptions, but I don’t mind when people talk to me. I need to step back from my painting anyway. Most of the time they only say “Hi” but sometimes they say things I think about later. I don’t understand what they mean when they ask me why am I doing this.

I know it’s meant as a compliment when they say I have a “gift.” (from God, I guess) but I say, “No, If I can do this you can do it. It’s only a question of, how much time do you have? Because I’ve been working on it for a few years and I’m just getting the hang of it.”

A lady said I bring peace to the battlefield. I can’t figure out how I could do that unless I believed in magic, which I don’t. I guess they can see I’m “in the zone” when I’m painting because I’m concentrating. More likely, I’d bring trouble! hahaha Like my role model on the Virginia State Seal. In reality, I look for places that are peaceful and safe to paint.

I’m trying to match my colors and values to natural color to give my painting the illusion of depth. If I’m not sure about the color I mixed on my palette I might hold up my palette knife and close one eye, to compare it to what I see. If anyone sees me hold up my palette knife like that they might think I’m making some kind of offering gesture, but no, I’m not doing magic, I’m only trying to correct my values.

Some people think I’m out there painting in public to show off so people will buy my painting. Yeah, I wish. It’s not working out like that for me. I’ll probably continue to paint in plein air though, because now I’m spoiled by it and working at home is boring. I like to avoid crowds to draw and paint. If you see me dancing alone in a crowd, that’s me showing off. ;-)

Where is Your “World Tour” Taking You?

A Nile Journey

A Nile Journey – Digital Collage

Although February is so cold and blustery here in the Eastern United States, there is a convivial, scarlet heart that beats the rhythm of love in this dead of Winter month.

With this in mind, Lunagirl Moonbeam’s next challenge is…RED. Looking through her incredible collection of images my eye kept coming back to a woman pensively looking over her shoulder. What could she be looking for…or thinking about?

I then spotted the beautiful frame in Lunagirl’s collection. It was just what I was looking for…gold, crimson, and beautiful.

As I travelled to the world of the “Lady in Red” the collage quickly fell into place. I could imagine her “World Tour”, when  voyaging was a real adventure. With her felucca sailing away, there she is, having her photo taken as she disembarked on the banks of the Nile. And the memento of the occasion, safely enclosed in the frame, is her gift to her beloved.

From my own digital ephemera collection I started the piece with a nebula background…a fitting base for the star-crossed lovers.  I added the postcard and stamp, because a “World Tour” just isn’t the same without correspondence to mark the journey. I finished the piece with a romantic full red rose.

Today – February 5th, fellow Collage Artists, is the anniversary of the birth of Dada. In 1916 the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich opened to a standing room only crowd. Do you think the Cabaret Voltaire would be our Lady’s next port of call?

As we all take our own World Tour, where will it lead you and who will join you on your voyage?

What inspires Your Heart?

Dreaming of the Moon

Dreaming of the Moon – Digital Collage

What inspires your heart? The question posed by Unruly PaperArts was a delicious one. And one I could not resist.

January 31st is the day designated as “Inspire Your Heart With Art Day”. The day encourages looking at Art of any discipline, making it a vital part of your life, and using today as a way of celebrating. Unruly PaperArts is doing just that by having an online Party!

For me, the Arts and my life are so intertwined I can’t begin to see where one starts and the other ends. It is a seamless, comforting, coverlet triggered by my dreams.

I’ve enjoyed working digitally. Again, my Muse led me to my collection of Lunagirl Moonbeam image CDs. With dreaming on my mind I chose Sir Frederic Leighton’s painting “Flaming June”. The beauty of the woman deep in sleep inspired me. What were her dreams and hopes as she blissfully reclined in repose? Who did she see in her dreams?

The composition fell into place…first Leighton’s woman, and the Moon and clouds. I added images from a conventional collage I put together a few years ago: the type, the rice paper, printed tissue paper.

My dreams inspire me. Following those dreams have taken me to places I have never thought possible. The Arts are the means…a soaring soul is my destination.

What inspires your heart…not only today, but every day?

Dreamers…What Makes Your Life Sweet?

Life is the Flower

Life Is the Flower – Digital Collage

Has anyone ever called you a Dreamer and do you wear the badge with honour? Are you proud that others recognise the dreamer quality in you?

I, too, have been “accused”. I suppose I will always have the soul of a romantic and a dreamer. And that pleases me.

As a member of the Lunagirl Moonbeam Design Team. Our latest challenge is to explore the world of “Honeybees”. And what a wonderful challenge for this time of year! As I sit looking out of my window at the snow that fell overnight,  I long for warm Spring sunshine and earthy scented breezes.

It’s been a while since I worked digitally, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to take a dip back into the digital pool. And I was so glad I did. I forgot how much I do enjoy it!

I started gathering my collage ephemera with a quote from Victor Hugo. I believe Life is like a flower…each petal, each day, opening to something new…sometimes joyous…sometimes not…but nonetheless an adventure. And isn’t love…in all her aspects…the sweetness, the honey, in your life?

Hugo’s quote made me think of the beautiful Waterhouse painting “The Soul of the Rose” and the poem of inspiration by Alfred Lord Tennyson.  In my collection is the Lunagirl  Pre-Raphaelite Art CD. And there she was…I was ready to begin.

I incorporated into the design the Waterhouse woman, Lunagirl flowers from the Busy Bees Collage sheet and art from the Honeybee Tag Set. I finished the piece with other scraps I have in a collection of my own digital ephemera, including a romantic morning Moon.

So, fellow Dreamers…what brings sweetness to your life? And who…or what…is the honeybee?

Winter Pond with Barley Field / oil

pond with barley

Do you see those bright green fields in the dead of winter out there in the country? I thought it was Winter Wheat but Barbara told me this field is Barley. She said Winter Wheat, Barley and Rye all look the same.

It took me weeks to finish this painting because of the winter weather. When I started working on it the pond was frozen but I knew it wouldn’t last. I was kind of hoping for more cold weather so I could practice painting ice.

That’s the back of the corn shed and the chicken coop in the upper right of the canvas. As I was painting glazes working from background to foreground, and from top to bottom on my underpainting, I was checking if each glaze looked right with the one next to it. First I thought the chicken coop was too bright on the contrast, so I made it less contrast. Then I thought it looked too weak so I changed it back to more bright. That’s how I like to work, correcting is ok. You can change your mind when using glazes and oil paint.

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