Archive for portraits

My Brother’s Keeper

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , on September 20, 2017 by sebland

imageWhen I started painting portraits a few weeks ago, I found images that seemed to tell a story. This photo, entitled “Homeless,” spoke to me. I can’t tell you why. I’ve always had a home, food, clothes and some degree of security. Maybe it’s my Southern Methodist upbringing, but I felt early on that if my neighbor was hungry, I was supposed to share my meal with him.  For a while I didn’t see a lot of that in my homeland. “If he’s hungry, let him get a job!””I worked hard for my money, why shouldn’t he?” Never mind the fact that many of our mentally ill are untreated, families torn apart by violence, old, sick and unable to care for themselves, many of us have turned a blind eye to these people. That has changed a little, I think, since the devastating storms  have rolled across our nation. More and more on the social media, I see offers to help one another, folks with a whole lot willing to give quite a chunk to see others taken care of. And I think that’s a mighty fine thing!

Feeling the Challenge

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , on September 19, 2017 by sebland

imageWhen challenged to post a painting every day, most of us would feel a wee bit intimidated. If you’ve been painting quite a while, you have a stash of work to fall back on. But when challenged to paint a new piece every day, then you begin to feel the challenge! Doing something in the studio every day requires showing up! It means you have to find a subject, make the time amid the meals, the laundry, the regular classes and chores that each day brings! There are benefits. You learn to budget your time. Maybe the dishes or the laundry can wait a little while.  You work a little faster, settle  for quick studies and learn a lot about the media you have chosen. For instance, pastels are very very messy and you learn to live with colorful fingernails. You learn your cat is very fast when she throws herself down on a pool of pastel dust, and she does not clean easily or willingly. You learn a watercolor floral can feel downright relaxing after trying to get eyeballs even in a pastel portrait.  Best of all, though, is you learn! And that is enough.

Sweeter than Honey

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , on September 15, 2017 by sebland

imageWhen painting on a daily basis, sometimes inspiration is hard to find. This precious little girl with her new flowered dress and freckles, just stole my heart. I’m showing these in my new gallery,  Thank you for visiting!

Homeless is Not Hopeless

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , , on September 13, 2017 by sebland

imageMost of us have led fairly sheltered lives, and for that I am grateful. For some however life is much more challenging. Lost jobs, mental illness, domestic abuse, things happen. When I was painting this woman I saw the broken and grimy fingernails, the look of determination and the strong arms that will move mountains for her loved ones. I knew such a woman, and while her story is not mine to tell, I will share my deep admiration for a mother who hid her children away from danger and lived homeless for quite a while to keep them safe. Yes, she was homeless, but she never gave up and she never gave in. Her strength will not be forgotten. This  piece is  available through my gallery at

The Storyteller

Posted in art, How to Paint, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , , , , on September 12, 2017 by sebland

imageMost of us carry memories of someone special, perhaps an aunt, a neighbor or just some distant relative. They seemed ancient to us as children. At gatherings they loved to tell the stories of our people. They knew things, stories our parents had never heard or wanted to forget. Sometimes they buttoned their clothes in random order, or they may have lacked a bit of grooming, but as children we seemed to gravitate to them. My Aunt Ila was one of those. She wasn’t much for housecleaning, but the smell of fresh bread permeated my senses when I hit her back door. In all the time I knew her I never heard the word: “No.” Her life was hard but she and her husband took in my widowed Granny and five children, and helped them through the Depression with grace and love. This painting is in honor of Auntie, the Storyteller. I hope you have a memory of someone like that too!

The Eyes of a Child

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , , , , , on September 11, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegI have had children in my classroom from four to ninety four, and it’s the young ones I enjoy the most. They are not judgmental or hypercritical. They paint and draw, color, cut and paste, and just enjoy the journey. Nobody tells them that shade of green isn’t true to the color of the cat they just painted. In their eyes it’s a happy color and that’s what matters. I wish more of us would do that. Why not paint a tree with purple leaves, or a pink cow munching on blue grass? One of my adult students, painting plein aire on a beautiful spring day, decided to do her entire piece in oranges and purples. It was lovely! So the word today is look at the world through the eyes of a child. Being creative means to free up those rules that restrict us. Color that sky yellow and see what a day brightener that can be. Don’t forget to have fun along the way. Life is full of dark colors. Lighten it up a bit! By the way, this painting is available at Under artists, type S. E. Bland and you should be able to visit my gallery!Thank you for following me.

Bless the Children

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , , on September 10, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegThe other day, we had some chores to take care of. Among them was a trip to the driver’s license bureau to renew Papa’s license. I thought I knew where to go but road construction and a confused Google turned a half hour trip into a much longer ride, with lots of frustration  on the menu. When we finally arrived, we drew ticket number 50, a long wait. As we sat there, I noticed this little guy about two years old. His mom and older brother were busy with their iPhones, so he was looking for entertainment. First he wrinkled his nose, then he nudged my foot, and soon we were exchanging high fives. His black curly hair was caught up in a topknot, and his eyes were incredibly dark and beautiful. In a remarkably short time we were finished and ready to go. I asked his mother permission to photograph him, and she took him out in the sun to get a good photo. I’m really new at portraits so it was with some trepidation that I sat down to paint Little Ocean. Good things happened. Both his mom and I were happy with his portrait, and a beautiful memory emerged from a dreaded errand. See how that works? When we show up and open up, life hands us a beautiful moment. Try it, you’ll like it!

Grins and Groans

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , on September 7, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegDisclaimer: This is not a self portrait. “Granny” is an image I found and painting her toothless grin made me smile. I need to smile. In the life of an artist there are days, sometimes several in a row, when we wonder why are we doing this? We could be sitting under a palm tree somewhere sipping a mint julep. Instead we are huddled over an easel muttering insanely and accomplishing nothing! This has been one of those days. Despite my promise to publish a new painting every day, today’s work will never be proudly displayed. In fact it might be fuel for my chiminea and that mint julep sounds better all the time.
After running errands all morning I really looked forward to a little studio time. I put some Patsy Cline on the boom box, poured a nice iced coffee and set to work. Two hours later I have a painting of a blue eyed monster. One eye is bigger than it should be, her sweet smile has turned into a snarl and I’m pretty sure the demons of doubt are dancing gleefully. What’s an artist to do? I’ll share what I plan to do. I am burying today’s work face down, grabbing a good book and walking away. Tomorrow is another day. I’ll try again. And if it isn’t right, I’ll lay it aside and come back another day. There’s no use beating up on myself. I gave it a try. I just have to accept that there are days like this. The milk will spill, the cake will fall, the cat will throw up on the carpet. Get over it, I tell myself. Stomp off in a snit and come back tomorrow. See you then, maybe!

Never Too Late to Learn

Posted in art, How to Paint, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , , on September 6, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegA few years ago our local art guild started an art program in a local nursing home. For five years volunteers gathered in the facility’s dining room to mix paint, hold brushes and share love and laughter with folks who didn’t have a lot of color in their lives. Some of them couldn’t remember what they had for lunch but they surprised themselves with artwork that awed and thrilled their families. We had an annual art show for them and framed their best work. Some of these folks were in their 90’s!
I thought of that recently when a grandchild suggested we take a pastel workshop. I was not interested in pastels. I’ve worked in oils, acrylics and watercolor and felt sure I’d be wasting my time. A chance to spend time alone with someone I loved was irrestibible, however, so I found myself signing up and making supply lists. For twenty years I’ve told myself I couldn’t paint portraits, and I certainly was not comfortable with a new medium!
I’d also told my students for twenty years that they should be open to new experiences. So I backed into it with a bit of trepidation.
What I learned was, it’s never too late for an artist to grow, to explore and to learn new things. Opening ones self to new skills, new tools and techniques is a grand adventure. I highly recommend it. If you are five or ninety five, the world is full of a wonder of things. Go out and try some of them. You may surprise yourself!

Looking Back

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , on September 5, 2017 by sebland

Some of my best evenings are spent sitting on my deck with my husband of sixty one years, playing “Remember when?” Because we grew up in the same town we share some common friends. He is older than I which I gleefully remind him, and we didn’t go to school together. Still, we have history. We remember the good teachers, the people who meant something to us, and we play at remembering Main Street, our old grade schools and common experiences. Looking back with fondness fills a void created when the former generation passes away. It softens the edges of grief and pain, and the happy memories cancel out the not so good ones. However, it seems to me that older people need to remember that there is tomorrow. The past is gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet, so maybe what is important is right now! That hummingbird at my feeder, the hibiscus which finally bloomed, the sunset after a shower, these are memories in the making! It’s good to pull open that drawer full of memories, and it’s good to look forward to the future, but let’s remember that we are here, now, and if we look for it, good is here too. Take the time to visit a friend, smell the flower blooming right outside your door, or hug somebody near you. Today belongs to you. Enjoy it!

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