Friday, June 26, 2015

Spring Whirlwind

Where did spring go? The summer solstice was this past Sunday and I realized that even though it was technically the first day of summer, spring already felt long gone. I love this time of year because I become empowered by the longer daylight hours; I get more done, and I thrive on warm days with lots of sunshine. 

We have now been in Denver for almost a month. I haven't gotten out much, as my primary focus has been on getting settled in our new house and taking care of all the mundane things that go along with moving. But I thought I'd give a brief recap of the past two or three months, as SO MUCH has happened!

In April, knowing we were about to leave Texas, I taught a couple of one-day workshops out of my home studio. The workshops sold out within two days of my email announcement. I regret that there are so few portrait instructors in the Dallas area... I guess my students will just have to come visit me in Colorado! Or, take my workshop in Oklahoma City this August...

Anna painting Tori during her morning demo at her workshop on April 18, 2015 (Photo courtesy of George Dean)

Anna's finished demo, "Tori" - 16x12" - oil on linen panel

The progression of Anna's 2.5-hour demo of Kia at her workshop on April 25, 2015. 16x12", oil on linen panel. This demo was filmed and a DVD will be available some time later this summer!

After missing last year's Portrait Society of Atlanta conference because I was way too pregnant (and having a pity party over it), I made it to the event this year in Atlanta, April 30-May 3. It was my first time away from Cece for more than a few hours... and I was gone for four days! Thankfully, she and her daddy handled it very well, and so did I. In fact, I had an amazing time reconnecting with artist friends and making new ones. This was also the first year I got to paint, although not as a faculty member (some day!! Fingers crossed :-)). TJ Cunningham set up an impromptu sketch session on Friday night in the hotel lobby and invited me to participate. We had a great time, painting until past 11 p.m., with live music in the background (c/o Virgil Elliott and his beautiful guitar playing), and a crowd mulled about behind us. I enjoyed at least pretending that I was in the Face-Off. :-) I was absolutely honored that some of the big-time artists and faculty, including Michael Shane Neal, Christine Egnoski, Quang Ho, and grand-prize winner Max Ginsburg, stopped by to look at my painting and all had very nice things to say. There's nothing more affirming than hearing from your peers that you're on the right track. Max even invited me to come paint with him if I'm ever in NYC. I think I'll have to take him up on that offer!

Anna and TJ Cunningham enjoying the late-night impromtu sketch session at the Portrait Society of America, Friday, May 1 (photo courtesy of Carol Devereaux)

Michael Shane Neal stopped by to check out the work (photo courtesy of Carol Devereaux)
(photo courtesy of Carol Devereaux)

With Isaiah, our awesome model, and Anna's finished painting (photo courtesy of Carol Devereaux)
A better shot of Anna's painting of Isaiah
Of course, another first for me this year (besides being away from my daughter for more than a day) was that I was a Certificate of Excellence winner for my painting of Cece, called "Fledglings." While I didn't get to bring my art in person to the event, my painting still showed up on the big screen. It was such a huge honor and when Cece's portrait flashed on the screen, there was a collective "Awwww!" from the crowd.

Cece on the big screen at the Portrait Society of America

Dinner with some dear friends. We've painted together many times back in Dallas - I will miss them all very much! Left to right: Judy Lind, Carol Devereaux, Ellen Rhodes Moore, Anna Rose Bain, Julie Barbeau
The event was inspiring and motivating, as always, and I left feeling more determined than ever to keep painting, despite the craziness of this chapter in my life.

A detail of Max Ginsburg's grand-prize winning painting, "Pat - Shirtless", 24x18". The alla prima brushwork is flawless. I spent a lot of time studying this piece up close.

As soon as I was back from the Portrait conference, we found ourselves in the throes of packing. Steve decided we didn't need to hire movers after all, so we did everything ourselves.  Meanwhile, I still had three different portrait commissions to finish, so for the entire month of May, I packed, painted, took care of Cece, and slept like a rock every night because that routine was exhausting. But somehow, we got everything done in time. Here we are with our moving truck. North Texas was still very rainy and humid, so that made packing even more fun... 

Three days before our move date, I took some precious hours that should have been spent packing and instead went to my painting group to hang out with these artists one last time. I'm so glad I did. It was absolutely refreshing to do a non-commissioned painting from a wonderful live model. My friends even gave me a sweet send-off, complete with a signed sweatshirt that read, "Colorado is actually just far Northwest Texas."  

The wonderful Thursday Night Live group in Plano, organized by Gene Dillard (center)
Photos courtesy of Tanja Gant

A detail of my last painting as a Texas resident, completed at Thursday Night Live in Plano.

We moved in to our new home in Westminster, CO, on June 1st. I was struck by how beautiful the light is here, and how the mountains look different every single day. I don't think we're going to regret living here at all. Already I've seen my twin sister more than I had in the past year and a half altogether. She lives exactly one mile away from me, and it's just as I hoped -- our kids are going to grow up together and be more like sisters than cousins. :-)

However, the craziness continued. Just two weeks after we moved, I flew back to Texas for the opening of "Women Painting Women: Texas" at the Georgetown Art Center. Nick Ramos and Felice House organized this event and it was truly spectacular.

The women of "Women Painting Women: Texas"
Back row: Jennifer Balkan, Suzie Baker, Johnnie Sielbeck, Ann Kraft Walker, Anna Rose Bain, Tanja Gant
Front row: Felice House, Karen Offutt, Karen Maness, Nancy Boren
(Not pictured: Brenda Hash, Melissa Grimes, Kathy Sosa, Anne Nelson Sweat) 
Anna with her paintings "The Wait and the Reward" and "Fire Dance" (in background) at the "Women Painting Women: Texas" exhibition at the Georgetown Art Center, on display through July 5, 2015

Back in Colorado, I finally got out last weekend for some plein air painting. Standley Lake is just a five minute walk from my house, so I set up there and enjoyed every minute of it.

"Summer Solstice at Standley Lake" - 8x8" - oil on linen panel

I also did a painting earlier this week of the lovely north light in our bedroom. I realized that you don't need pretty bedding or decor to make a beautiful painting... it's all about the light.

"Her Side" - 8x10" - oil on linen panel

I have lots more painting projects in the works, but right now they are all in my head. I can't wait to get them out onto canvas... an entire summer awaits!


  1. That's a really nice solstice plein air!

    Glad you are settling into your new home well. Moving is so hard.

    1. Thanks, Jessica! Yep, moving is awful, but I'm glad we're finally here! Things are getting better. :-)

  2. Your career has been a source of great inspiration to me and I'm very happy to have been following your growth. I pray your find great success and produce more beautiful paintings in your new environment.... GOD BLESS YOU!!!


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