Article by Denise Hartley, artist and gardener, etc.
I have inherited my grandmother's love of flowers. Just moments after arriving for a visit, she would say, “Let’s go outside and see the garden". “Blue Iris” is a photo taken by my photographer son, Chris Gilbert, in that garden. His photo was the source of my painting. When we sold her home, the blue iris came home with me, recently planted in this tree stump.
Flowers give me courage, the life of a flower is so ephemeral, the beauty of the flower quickly passes, and is soon replaced by another. My life is passing just as quickly, and I will soon be replaced by my children and grandchildren. I long to look at flowers (and grandchildren’s) beautiful faces.
In my little greenhouse I have a tray of tiny lavender plants, also snow peas, and a flat of chamomile. The flowers attract the butterflies, bees, and birds. My desk looks out over my garden. My dad was the gardener, with a large vegetable garden, and a pergola filled with red grapes. I am the new keeper of his garden. My garden here, although established, was a working man’s garden. I just finished planting his vegetable garden this winter, and I planted a peach tree, expecting blossoms and delicious peaches late spring.
I am off to paint a ceiling mural, sky and clouds, on my future grandchild’s nursery!
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As an artist, I paint when I am
inspired. Everything flows; feeling great, working in the studio for hours,
paints flow from my brush. The question is how to be an artist when the
inspiration has disappeared, when you feel blocked from your inner self?
I began this series of paintings
while I was blocked! My creative solution was to paint the limitation that I
was feeling. I began just to paint actual BLOCKS, placed in restrictive grids, which
eventually swirled into patterns.
The first painting this series is the painting “Eye of God”.
Using the contrasting shades
of blue and orange created a boldness I had not expected. Somehow the ‘eye’ is not blocked, or it is not
placed within the grid. The ‘eye’ expands to me the feeling of what is possible,
or what is enduring within myself.
The painting “Self-Restraint”, painted
in blues and greens which followed the cool color pallet,
using analogous colors.
The lovely landscape is blocked by a
large grid, and it is broken into drip-like smaller grids within the panes of a
window. To me that exemplifies that there is beauty in the world, yet at the
time I could not quite access it.
My favorite of the series is “Creation”.
Warm colors are dominant, with a touch of cool blues and
greens. But everything
in the painting is off kilter, the edges are leaning at odd angles. The blocks
and the grids remain in the painting. The artist is still blocked, but she is
stacking the blocks in a manner that creates tension in the artwork.
The dominant orange, the contrasting blue highlights, black drips, blobs, and pools, and yes, the first block began in this painting, on the upper mid-right of the canvas.
Paintings by Denise Hartley: "Creation", oil on
canvas, 3'x4', 2000;
"Eye of God", oil on canvas, 3'x4', 2000;
oil on canvas, 3'x4', 2000;
"She Broke", oil on canvas, 30"x
I have created another video in the “Birth of a Painting