Daddy's Christmas Angel

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mary Montague Sikes: Animal Alphabet Art Event

Visit the Maya Ruins!Two years ago, when I created two animal paintings to promote my novel, Jungle Jeopardy, I had no idea those paintings would lead to a new series of work featuring animals for each letter of the alphabet. One of those earlier paintings was of Billy, the black jaguar in my book. I called it my Henri Rousseau painting.

"Billy the Jaguar" acrylic painting ©Mary Montague Sikes

As the alphabet series developed last April, I painted another more traditional jaguar that is not black. All through April, my fascination with wild animals grew. I borrowed photos from my daughters who had visited Tasmania last November and used them as references for paintings of koalas, Tasmanian devils, wallabies, seals, and more. Since I've never seen a unicorn and needed one for the letter "u", I used photos I took last year in Avon, Colorado of a wild horse sculpture to develop my painting of one. 

Animal Alphabet, an exhibition of these paintings, will be on view at Prince George Art & Frame in Williamsburg from November 1 until November 30. 

"This show will demonstrate Sikes affections for animals as well as her discipline in connecting each animal with a letter in the alphabet," says Fred Miller, owner of the gallery.

Mary Montague Sikes: Animal Alphabet will open with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, November 1. Refreshments will be served at the opening to which the public is invited. I'll be available at the opening to discuss my work and also will be at the gallery on Saturday, November 2 from 1 to 3 p.m. demonstrating several of my painting techniques.

Prince George Art  & Frame is located at 107 Colony Square Shopping Center, 1303 Jamestown Road in Williamsburg. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, please call the gallery, 757-229-7644.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Creativity is Contagious. Pass it On. Albert Einstein

Gloucester Art Center Mixed Media Workshop ©Dick Welton
Albert Einstein was truly a genius. He believed that imagination is more important than knowledge and he believed in the importance of creativity. He said, "Creativity is Contagious. Pass it on." I love that quote.

A few years ago, I met Mary Ann Beckwith and heard her tell about a friend who had worked hard and finally discovered the art-making method she'd been seeking over the years. Instead of keeping what she learned to herself, the artist shared her discovery with anyone who would listen and watch.

"If you don't teach it, it can't go on," Beckwith said. "Don't hesitate to share your knowledge. Teach anyone you can anything you know."

What extraordinary words of wisdom. Because of her creative and sharing spirit, I loved every moment of Beckwith's classes. I wish she lived nearby instead of in the far north of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

It was with Beckwith that I took a journey into experimental mixed media art. I learned new and exciting techniques that I continue to explore and expand inside my own studio. Many of the things I learned from her and from other artists since then, I am including in the workshops I'm teaching now. My next workshop will be in Williamsburg next week at This Century Art Gallery in the Education Center. The class is Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

What a wonderful contagion to have--creativity. How exciting to have the opportunity to pass it on!

Please visit my web site to see some of my paintings using experimental water media.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Imagination Without Borders

"Dancing in the Light" acrylic ©Mary Montague Sikes
When Yo-Yo Ma, a world famous cellist, appeared on CBS earlier this week, I was inspired to learn that he was a child prodigy who took up the cello at age 4 and played for President John F. Kennedy when he was 7. When he spoke about the importance of imagination in playing music, my interest peaked.


Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." He was a scientist and a thinker.

Creative people including artists and writers use their imagination constantly. I love the Michelangelo quote, "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."

We need imagination to see what others do not. As writers, we can find new things in our dreams and later discover a place for them in our imaginations. As an artist, I recognize images in nature and find a place for them on the empty canvas. Like Michelangelo's sculpture hidden in the rock, the flower is set free on blank paper or linen.

Child prodigies. Genius scientists. How exciting to walk to the beat of a different drummer and see a world that for now is invisible to others but soon will be seen or read by those willing to look.

Imagination without borders. What could be more perfect? What could be more inspiring?
"Hibiscus" acrylic ©Mary Montague Sikes

They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
"Calla" acrylic ©Mary Montague Sikes

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Where Should Artists Promote Their Work? Only at Home?

Mary Montague Sikes in Cielo Bella Art Gallery with her meditation paintings
Recently, someone asked me why I had come all the way across the country to Sedona, Arizona to promote my art work. That is a really good question and it started me thinking. Weren't there plenty of venues in Virginia where I live?

Yes and no.

When I first visited Sedona in the early 1990s, I was both stunned and captivated by the scenery. No wonder so many of the old western movies used the Red Rock Country as a background. I loved the "feel" of the area. I enjoyed snapping photos--actually mostly 35 mm color slides at that time. I liked the New Age atmosphere all around me.

Over the years, we've returned many times. The Hotel El Tovar is part of my coffee table book, Hotels to Remember. Side stories and many photos in the book relate to Sedona and the area. I've taken art classes there, and I set my novel, Eagle Rising, in and around Sedona. What better place to visit and promote my art?

That's why I returned to Cielo Bella Art Gallery in the Village of Oak Creek to sign books and to talk about my new Master's Meditation Paintings and Soul Songs that accompany them. The gallery is also featuring my Giclee prints from Hotels to Remember, and I plan to ship some of the original paintings from the book for display there.

On this trip, it made me sad to know that the Grand Canyon National Park was closed. The El Tovar is located inside the park, so that historic edifice, along with many other famous tourist stops, is closed as well. I cannot imagine the disappointment of planning all year long for a special trip to the Canyon and being stopped by the antics of foolish politicians from visiting it. I wanted to go and sit along the edge, take more photos, sketch, and muse about my writing as well as imagine new paintings I would like to create.

The wonder of the Grand Canyon, the New Age essence, the vortexes hidden among the Red Rocks, and so much more beckon me to cross the country and show my art somewhere different where visions align with my own.

I love Virginia, but my breath catches as soon as the Red Rocks come into view. The artist and the writer within me are both torn. No wonder Mark Twain loved to travel.

(The art work behind me in the photograph is the work of other gallery artists. The art pieces on the table are paintings in progress from the Master's Meditation series.)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What About the Lincoln Movie?

Every week I am amazed by the thorough job Alex J. Cavanaugh does reviewing the latest movies. I admire the people who do those reviews on television as well. However, we never get to movie theaters anymore. I suppose when you get caught up with watching baseball games most every day and living a creative life that often takes over other things, there just isn't any time left.

However, occasionally I do watch a movie on television, and Sunday night I saw Lincoln. Even on the small screen, this movie was powerful. Everything was basically black and white. I later wondered if the movie was in color at all. That was a time of darkness. So much was lost on those Civil War battlefields.

As a child, I grew up near Sunken Road where one of the bloodiest battles of the war took place. Marye's Heights was not far away from my home. Fredericksburg was under siege for many days, and the elementary school I attended still had bloodstains on the floors from its service as a Civil War hospital. Sometimes I could still feel the pain in the old city streets.

The art gallery where I showed my work for 10 years was located in Petersburg not many steps away from where the Lincoln movie was made. A photographer with a studio near mine managed to take pictures of some of the movie sets. Having Steven Spielberg in the city was a real big deal for residents. As I watched the movie on Sunday, I tried to recognize some of the settings there and in Richmond. It brought back memories and sadness for dark days in our nation's history. It made me remember the poem I wrote for the anthology, Happy Birthday, Mr Lincloln! published by the National League of American Pen Women in 2009. It made me remember too much.

 Mr. Lincoln, Did You Hear?

Mr. Lincoln, did you hear
Voices whisper in the night?
Forget not they passed this way
Forget not the march they made
Forget not the song they sang
Forget not the streets
Of old Petersburg
Where their footsteps echo in the night.

Mr. Lincoln, did you hear
Dying cries of ten thousand men
And more—all lost near a sunken road?
Or were they vanquished at Marye’s Heights?
So many soldiers brave and young
They fought for country, family, pride
As did the men of General Lee
Who battled anxious, long, and valiant.

Mr. Lincoln, did you hear
Screams of fury in the night?
Where pontoons crossed mud-struck waters
Guns blazed from village shops and homes
Cannonballs embedded thick walls of brick.
Confusion, pain
A school with bloodstained floors
All there in old Fredericksburg.

Mr. Lincoln, did you hear
The march onward to Richmond?
Wheeled guns upon a hill
War-weary generals who believed
A country divided cannot stand
Virginia, the first English colony
Forget not the blood flowing in her streets
Where footsteps still echo in the night.

©Mary Montague Sikes, April 2008