Posts in Color
Randall Children's Hospital Installation

The thought that something I made is bringing a bit of color to the lives of children in the hospital gives me a lot of joy. It keeps me painting. But these things rarely happen with the wave of wishful wand. I think the story is a good one, so I wanted to share.

I met a woman some years back who was going through a divorce and decided to start a new business. What I admired most in this sparkly and strong person was how she faced loss and decided to surf it all the way. In painters terms this would be scraping the canvas to its essential material. Then, bravely...(often shakily) splashing on that first layer of color with a sense of abandon and curiosity. She chose me to create her new brand. As I did her head shots in a local wine bar (she made it easy with her natural beauty) and worked with her on her copy we got to know one another a bit. One day while she visited me at home, I shared with her about a new series I was doing in a studio class: The Girl Series. It was about missing information from childhood and longings in adulthood. When she saw Girl on Haystack she wrote me a check then and there and that was that. It was instant for her. She needed something from that painting.

I have this weird psychology that doesn't allow me to like my paintings at first. I was still in that stage when she bought it. I've learned since to never sell a painting in that stage. It's like taking insurance money while still in shock. You lose. But in this case it was a lucky call. She paid me well and the painting truly served her. 

Now it's serving sick children in an otherwise not so cheery space. She made this happen. The business she created at the time she purchased the art took her to a job serving this hospital. She is dialed in and I am honored. The feedback is coming in that it is lifting spirits already. So glad.

I'm thinking about ways to get more of my art into environments of healing. Color has this way of speaking a language straight to the heart. And color is why I paint. 

See... wasn't that a good story?

Animal Stories * New Directions

  Love stories ... they inspire action.

I have a love story that I'm writing and illustrating right now about a yellow cat. He adopted me and coveted my heart for 9 months before his many illnesses took him over. He lived to see 16 years, though feral and was outside until his final 9 months with me. I called him my 'sack of cat' because he aimed to attach to my body at every possible angle. The desk, the toilet, the couch, while cooking, while leaving for work.

As I grieve him, I just have to write about his amazing story. I had to sketch him and bring him close after he was gone. It has done me a world of good. I've discovered a new direction in my illustration style and for whatever reasons other animals are showing up. Chicken, pig and rabbit. I have 8 illustrations done and 5 pages of the story. I don't exactly know what it will become. I just keep doing an illustration every other day and writing on the days I don't illustrate. It's given me peace and grounding in a time that is otherwise painful. He was a great cat. Old soul and kind of a bad ass. Loved him!!!! My first cat. Kind of like 'first love' -- it bowls you over.

I'm getting organized for the new year. Another retreat coming up. And some fun programs and new directions in art. Filling the store with holiday fun and people are already buying the farm animals here including myself. I just hung this one in my bathroom yesterday of Max.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 7.07.11 PM

I am wishing you all a loving holiday season. Remember to be quirky and laugh as much as you can. It matters!

Love, Niya

Color, Line: Into Abstraction — A Painting Challenge

Day One- Connection  

I've never considered myself an abstract painter. But until 3 months ago I hadn't considered myself a cat person either. Both have got my heart's imagination bouncing off the walls and returned to a newness I didn't know I needed. { I had no idea cats could be so, ahem ... powerful. He owns me }.

Recently, I've put some positive changes into motion in my life to make more room for painting, book-making and designing the stuff I really care about. The past 7 months have been an exercise in letting go of the blade of risk I had been balancing between art and day job. In other words, I took a full time day job. I learned a big lesson: You can't get on the path to being who you are in your work and life and then shmoosh yourself into a box that was too small in the first place. Onward!

However, during this life lesson, I kept daydreaming about abstract painting. Sometimes the urge was so strong I'd have to doodle it out in my journal before work or on my lunch break. I had some figurative large paintings going in 1 hour sessions on the weekends, but I wasn't into it.

So when my artist friend Judy Jacobs announced the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge starting September 1 -- and I finished my last day of FT work last week — I didn't hesitate (she's an inspiration - incredibly prolific). So a month of abstractions are here. I'm very jazzed.

I'll be selling them as I go in the store. And posting daily here.

And if you want to join, it's not too late ... go here to sign up.

As for what I'm learning in abstraction is that it is a world that reaches through the artist, like music. The artist isn't making something. Something is being discovered and made. Very exciting and requires much reflection and listening. I'm loving it.

-- Sorry for the long hiatus in blogging. I've been in job jail. But I'm out now!

Waiting for Blue

  While most are making new years resolutions, I've been eliminating them and making watercolors work on a limited palette -- without blue. Why? Good question. And a convoluted answer, but I'll give it my best.

Two days before holiday vacation, feeling better I was set to go ... but the respiratory infection came back with 3 times the power. Add sinusitis and fever/flu. After canceling vacation and a big ol' not so satisfying redhead temper tantrum (not pretty), I settled in to paint. My Van Gogh pan watercolor set was nearly empty. I've had it for close to 10 years. There was yellow, green, ochre, black, orange a smidgen of red, no blue. I put in my order for another set but with the holidays delivery was delayed.

Without blue I enjoyed thinking about what was possible. Without the expectations blue packs into a painting my mind wandered to  the light I love so much in Santa Fe, NM — the church murals and rooftops in Tuscany and Umbria, Italy hilltop towns. I began a new series imagining being there. You can see those paintings here if you are curious.

New Years resolutions have culminated into the lessons of a limited palette.  What would the year be without too many goals? What can be subtracted and what needs full on focus? Perhaps consider subtraction and limitation this year as a way to pull into full focus what matters most. What gets your love and tending this year? Those lucky people and projects!

Here are a few watercolors to share while I waited for blue. {Frida Khalo, if you are listening ... I get you!}.



And, after blue, I had to paint big flowers and a blue sky. Ah...



Happy News Years Everyone -- 2015 feels juicy to me.


ps: Thank you for all of the sweet well wishing about my health. I'll be okay. This seems to only happen one every 3 years or so but when it does it takes no prisoners. I'll be looking forward it moving on. In the meantime, it hasn't been all bad. I got to paint!