New work at Bennett Galleries Nashville

“A person’s life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through the detours of art or love or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which his heart first opened.” -Albert Camus


Just shipped these four pieces to Bennett Galleries Nashville (info on the gallery is under the above tab – ‘Where to Purchase My Work’). Bennett Galleries has been a great place for my work. I was accepted into their gallery this past June and I took seven pieces. They have two pieces left, so I’ve been working hard these last few weeks to get them more work.

Having my workt here has been great. Hunter Museum in Chattanooga has a big fundraiser/silent auction every year. A committee from the museum goes to several big city galleries to choose work for the auction. One of my pieces was selected from Bennetts. YAY!

Also Bennett Galleries ran an ad in the Nashville Art Magazine last month and used an image of one of my paintings in the ad.

Ad in Nashville Arts Magazine

Ad in Nashville Arts Magazine

A friend of mine who lives in Nashville emailed me when he saw it. I was taken by surprise. I had no idea this would be in the magazine. It ended up in a sale! YAY!

And finally I will be part of a show at Bennetts which opens November 13 and runs through the holidays.The show will feature nine of their newest artists – so happy to be included!

Success when you are older has a frivolous sort of charm unlike anything one can experience in their youthful twenties and thirties. It feels like a deliciously surprising treat – as if I’ve entered a second childhood. Whatever the nature of the feeling, it lets me know that it is absolutely possible to re-create happiness at any age. It astonishes me. It also proves that one should never give up on their dreams.

“I have been in love with painting ever since I became conscious of it at the age of six. I drew some pictures I thought fairly good when I was fifty, but really nothing I did before the age of seventy was of any value at all. At seventy-three I have a last caught every aspect of nature – birds, fish, animals, insects, trees, grasses, all. When I am eighty I shall have developed still further and I will really master the secrets of art at ninety. When I reach a hundred my work will be truly sublime and my final goal will be attained around the age of one hundred and ten, when every line and dot I draw will be imbued with life.” -Hokusai

Posted in folk art, Judy Shreve | 8 Comments

When Elephants Dream

“The imagination is a palette of bright colors. You can use it to touch  up memories or you can use it to paint dreams.” -Robert Brault

When Elephants Dream acrylics and charcoal 24x24 birch panel

When Elephants Dream
acrylics and charcoal
24×24 birch panel

I’ve been intrigued by elephants lately. I am not surprised we are finally realizing how intelligent this animal is — capable of thinking, remembering and showing emotional empathy for their own species and others.

I’ve also been reading about folklore associated with elephants. Some people believe if you have an image or sculpted elephant in your home the trunk must be up and if so it will bring happiness and good fortune. Others believe that the trunk must be down so all the good fortune can shower down on your path. That reminds me of the horseshoe — up or down?

So do you think animals dream? Do they just dream of food and foraging? Or do they dream of their mates and their children?  Do they hear music playing? Do animals have their own dreams and wishes?

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” -Mark Twain

Posted in folk art, Judy Shreve | 9 Comments

The Believer

“That’s the thing about magic; you’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.” -Charles de Lint

The Believer acrylics and charcoal 36x30 cradled birch panel

The Believer
acrylics and charcoal
36×30 cradled birch panel

This is a big piece for me. Getting all the paint on it for the background wore me out more than once. And then reaching across the wide space was a challenge. I actually painted upside down a couple of times. I want to paint even bigger, but thought I would start slowly and work my way up. Each painting –  no matter the size – teaches me. The last painting I purchased is impressive in its content – but even more impressive because of its size (48×40). It has a presence.

This magical girl shows up in a lot of my work. Sometimes she dances. Sometimes she plays a musical instrument. And sometimes she communicates with animals. Each time she does any of these things, it requires me — and I hope the viewer – to suspend their normal way of seeing things. To believe in something larger than themselves — and of course, that is different for different people. Anyway — just hope you are a true believer of your own magic.

“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic – the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.” -Charles de Lint

Posted in acrylics, folk art, Judy Shreve, mixed media, painting | 6 Comments

New Studio – New Process

“I am an artist — It’s self-evident that what that word implies is looking for something all the time without ever finding it in full. It is the opposite of saying, ‘I know all about it. I’ve already found it.’ As far as I’m concerned, the word, artist, means – ‘I am looking. I am hunting for it. I am deeply involved.'” –Vincent van Gogh

By The Light of the Moon acrylics 24x24 birch panel

By The Light of the Moon
24×24 birch panel

I’ve always heard that changing your studio location will change your work. It seems logical that your surroundings would influence your thoughts and ideas which would result in a change in your subject matter. But I am actually approaching the canvas (birch panel) differently. I have a bigger space and a better layout and that helps, but instead of painting a background and then drawing my images and painting them, I am now painting the background and then finding the images in the painting. It’s a lot like laying in the grass and finding the shapes in the clouds. For example, in the above painting the girl and the bird are both the background. After highlighting those shapes by painting around them, I finished the painting.

I like this process, because it’s a much more intuitive way of working. This process helps to keep my thinking/critical mind quiet. I like that this also seems to create bolder, simpler paintings. This piece was also painted with this process. In this piece the bird and the woman are the background. I ‘saw’ the woman’s hair and hat first, then her body. I had to set it aside for a little while and when I came back to it, there was the bird. And as you can see, I painted over the background to create the bird’s color. The grass, sky, tree and orb were all added after the woman and bird.

The Bird Listener (24x24)

The Bird Listener (24×24) (sold)

I’m sure I will continue to paint rabbits. I think there will be a few more that will emerge. They are so fun to paint – almost a release. The above van Gogh quote really nails it – art making is a constant search.

Can’t believe it’s already September. Soon the leaves will begin to change and we will be wearing coats before we know it.

“When you’re an artist, nobody ever tells you or hits you with the magic wand of legitimacy. You have to hit your own head with your own handmade wand. And you feel stupid doing it. There’s no ‘correct path’ to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to a university, getting published, getting signed to a record label, but it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.” -Amanda Palmer

Posted in acrylics, art philosophy, drawing, Judy Shreve, painting, rabbits, studio space | 4 Comments

How A Rabbit Is Born (safe for work)

“Play is the essence of creativity. Creative play and gut reaction, instinct. When I work on a piece I play. I have a whole huge selection of the studio where I have an inventory of sculptural forms, simple abstract, non-specific shapes that I find beautiful and enjoy making. Then I start building these shapes together. And then I find myself smiling. I say ‘hello! I think I’ve got something.’ The process is intuitive, not intellectual. You have to learn to be spontaneous and trust yourself.” -Ruth Duckworth

I’ve described my process for making my rabbits before with words, so I thought I would show you in images. They are born through a series of line marks and paint. I had two birch panels each 12×12 gessoed and ready to go. I knew I wanted to paint a couple of rabbits, but as I applied the background paint, I decided to do them both the same. Once the background was complete, I began the rabbit with a rough sketch. At this stage I can erase the charcoal lines until I feel the rabbit’s personality start to emerge. I then spray a fixative so I can continue without smudging the charcoal lines.

WIP - rabbit 12x12

WIP – rabbit

WIP - other rabbit 12x12

WIP – other rabbit

At first these were going to be two separate paintings, but after painting in the first layer of paint, I set them on my easel side-by-side and walked away to let the paint dry. When I came back and looked, I knew that these needed to be framed together in the same frame.

This step is often repeated, line marks with charcoal, fixative, more paint.

WIP - step 2 12x12

WIP – step 2

And below is the final image.  They will be framed, shadow-box style together. Not just two rabbits — but best friends, born together, friends forever.

Best Friends acrylics, charcoal 12x24 birch panel

Best Friends
acrylics, charcoal
12×24 birch panel


When we framed the two 12×12 birch panels, we decided on switching the position. And that position called for a new title – ‘Old Friends.’ You know those friends you’ve had forever. The ones that you can disagree with and still love each other.

Which position do you like best?

Old Friends  acrylics, charcoal, cold wax 12x24 birch panel

Old Friends
acrylics, charcoal, cold wax
12×24 birch panel

“To say that making art is a conversation or dialogue between the maker and the paper is to oversimplify. It is a series of attractions and repulsion that may begin with intention and end with analysis, but the real meaning (the truth of the work) is arrived at in the processes and moments of making.” –William Kentridge

Posted in acrylics, charcoal, folk art, Judy Shreve, rabbits | 8 Comments

I’ll Fly Away

“Never stop being a kid. Never stop feeling and seeing and being excited with great things like air and engines and sounds of sunlight within you. Wear your little mask if you must to protect you from the world, but if you let that kid disappear, you are grown up and you are dead.” -Richard Bach

I'll Fly Away acrylics, charcoal 10x8 birch panel

I’ll Fly Away
acrylics, charcoal
10×8 birch panel

My dad was a pilot in the Air Force when I was growing up. In fact I was born in Japan and we lived on many Air Force bases mostly in the south. He retired when I was fourteen, but I remember going to air shows and being able to go inside the cockpit of parked planes during those shows. I was always amazed at all those instruments and that something that was so big and heavy could fly. In fact, that still amazes me. Oh I know planes have engines and we’ve learned all about aerodynamics — flying is still pretty magical to me. Even today I get a little excited during take-off.

“The very existence of aviation is proof that man, given the will, has the capacity to accomplish deeds that seem impossible.” -Eddie Rickenbacker

Posted in acrylics, folk art, Judy Shreve | 6 Comments

A few photos of my new work space!

“The studio is less important than other things, like the burning desire to paint. If you don’t have this disease, you can’t catch it from a nice studio.” -Warren Criswell

My new studio is still a work in progress as you can see in the photos (click to see them larger). It’s a daylight/walk-out basement. I can already feel my work changing. There’s an uncertainty as I get to know the personalty of this new space. The only constant is my companion – Watson and he’s not waiting on the next-great-painting — he’s waiting on me to throw his ball! It’s good to have a little reality around -)

“This job — as well as the plight and the unexpected joy — of the artist is to embrace uncertainty — to be sharpened and honed by it.” -Maria Popover

Posted in folk art, Judy Shreve, studio space | 6 Comments

Leopold Joins the Rabbit Family

“Instead of discussing with myself every morning whether I feel inspired or not, I step into my office every day at nine sharp, open the window and politely ask the muse to enter and kiss me. Sometimes she comes in, more often she does not. But she can never claim she hasn’t found me waiting in the right place.” –historical novelist – Peter Prange

Leopold acrylics, charcoal, cold wax 18x12 birch panel

acrylics, charcoal, cold wax
18×12 birch panel

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able go into my studio every morning again. Life is finally back to a rhythm that fosters creativity. But at first I found myself lost — not just in a new studio where everything seems to be in the wrong place – but also lost in being able to tap into my imagination. It’s taken a couple of weeks to shut down that task master mind and pick up the brushes again. One thing that always seems to help is to add to my family of rabbits. The rabbits come quickly and seem to not want me involved in their development. In fact Leopold’s expression seems to be critical and cranky -lol.

I have lots of family and friends in northern Idaho. They are dealing with horrendous drought conditions and wildfires. Ash is on everything they own — the sky is a weird red tone. Life is only about the fires and survival. I dreamed about rescuing them last night. And this painting is the first thing I did when I woke up this morning.  My hope is that this bird can heal the fires with it’s dance and morning songs.

Rain Dancer acrylics, charcoal, cold wax 18.5x12 birch panel

Rain Dancer
acrylics, charcoal, cold wax
18.5×12 birch panel

“Once upon a time when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy.” -Terry Tempest Williams

Posted in acrylics, charcoal, folk art, Judy Shreve, rabbits | 6 Comments

Paintings Can Always Change – and – Gallery News

“Men have forgotten this truth, said the fox. But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Bird Listener acrylics, charcoal, cold wax 24x24 birch panel

The Bird Listener
acrylics, charcoal, cold wax
24×24 birch panel

This painting didn’t finish this way the first time. I posted the image below on FB the other day, thinking it was completed.

The Bird Listener - Work In Progress

The Bird Listener – Work In Progress

But as I thought about what I was trying to convey with the painting, the image didn’t quite tell the story. This piece – to me – is about the importance of taking care of our environment. I wanted the bird to look as if it was pleading for help. But the green trees made it difficult to understand what the bird might be asking for. The green trees seemed to confuse the message. It needed to be starker – it needed to look as if there were no place for the bird and that you get the feeling the bird is asking for help. I am happier with the painting now. What do you think?

I delivered some new work to High Country Art And Antique in Blue Ridge GA on Sunday:

And this piece sold yesterday:

Did You Hear The One About the Big Cat and the Fish Out of Water? (14x18)

Did You Hear The One About the Big Cat and the Fish Out of Water? (14×18)

It was at High Country Art & Antique. The new owner who doesn’t live anywhere near the gallery, found me on FB and ‘messaged’ me about how to purchase it. She had seen it online. The gallery handled the sale and is shipping it directly to her.  YAY — thank you so much, Paula. I hope you enjoy it.

“If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” -Edward Hopper

Posted in folk art, galleries, Judy Shreve, painting | 8 Comments

Saturday In The City – It’s A Zoo!

“Beauty is not in the face, beauty is a light in the heart” -Kahill Gibran

Saturday In The City - It's A Zoo! acrylics, charcoal,cold wax 20x18 birch panel

Saturday In The City – It’s A Zoo!
acrylics, charcoal, cold wax
20×18 birch panel

I’ve been thinking about ‘personal voice’ lately. Today the internet makes it’s so easy to create a visual library of all the artwork you love. There’s Tumblr and Instagram and Flickr – which is a wonderful thing, except that it makes it too easy to compare our own work to what we think is good art. And I think that is what makes it harder to find our own voice. We become too self-critical. We measure instead of digging deeply to find our own style.

It’s one thing to learn about your materials, but to discover your own personal style takes a different kind of work. I don’t think you can learn it from a book. Personal voice is that underlying ‘why’ of our passion. It needs to be uncovered — not created. In fact I think you might not like what you find at first – but by embracing it, becoming comfortable with it, you can learn to be in that unique place for which you are wired. It’s a little like meditation. You have to tune-out the distractions; tune out all that great work you’ve seen and think you need to make. It’s about discovering who you are and learning to express it.

Life is about connecting with one another. We each have our own unique way of telling our stories – the truer they are, the better the connection. Some days it’s easier than others to tune out those distractions, but when it happens with something you’re working on — you know it and it feels amazing!

“We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” -Ben Sweetland

Posted in acrylics, art philosophy, folk art, Judy Shreve, painting | 7 Comments