Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pink Poinsettia

Pink Poinsettias, 8 5/8 x 12 3/4" Watercolor/acrylic on 300# paper
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to mat and frame


It is hard to believe that 2009 is on its way out today! It has been a year of continued artistic growth for me.... That's a good thing. No growth equals stagnation. Stagnation has no place in the life of an artist. This year I've focused a little more on landscapes than in previous years, which has been enjoyable. Of course, I've continued working with botanical subjects as well.
The one above is such an example.

What lies in the year ahead? We can only guess. But for me - continued artistic growth is important as well as reaching out to those who stumble across my work and those who watch it regularly. I hope, if you haven't done so yet - you will join my mailing list! There you receive monthly (or so) updates from me with interesting tidbits about the world of art. And when I offer freebies you are the first to know! The sign up box is on the right side of my blog!
(your information is kept perfectly secure!)

On a personal level in 2010 there is much I want to press on toward. Of highest importance, really, is my ability to see the hand of God working in my life more clearly, depend on him more fully, and learn to communicate with him more deeply. That, however, is not a 1 year goal... it is a goal for a lifetime. I have learned (and continue to learn) that He is our only and real source of security! I hope in the year ahead, you may find this to be true as well!
Happy New Year, friends near and far! May 2010 be a year you take great happiness in!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More of the Year in Review

One of the highlights of my year (2009) was the solo exhibit I did for my church's 50th anniversary. It focused on botanicals as its subject matter - but included artist's notes. The title of the exhibit was Lessons from Matthew 6, and my goal was to show how God, who cares for the lilies of the field, is also dependable to take care of his much greater creation - his children!

To see these paintings more individually, please visit my website!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More of the Year in Review

Old Oak, 6x8" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to frame

Click here for more information on this painting.

Many times this year, I found myself exploring landscapes... sometimes more distant, as seen in some earlier works I've posted, and sometimes much more close up. Trees are always an interesting subject matter... because, I think, of their uniqueness and often their very sculptural qualities. Some of them just have very noticeable "personalities" which almost need a portraiture approach!

This particular tree is very indicative of my southwestern roots - roots that still grow very deep in my heart, even though I live in the northern mid-west at present!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Inspiration and Results!

In August, my daughter and I took a trip to Indiana. It was uneventful until the drive home that evening. We were greeted just around the bottom of Lake Michigan with a rather treacherous thunderstorm, the magnitude of which we didn't really see until after we'd passed through it and could look at the unbelievable clouds which reached into the heights of the sky! Quite dramatic during the storm, and equally dramatic after the storm! As I snapped reference photos, I thought that capturing the drama of the storm clouds would make wonderful subject matter!

After the Storm, 11 x 14" Oil on Canvas
©2009, Helen Read
for more information on this painting, please email me:

As you can see - the storm was the inspiration, and the reference photo helped me to capture much of it, but changes were made! Painting clouds - even white clouds, requires very little plain white paint - many glazes of the undertones of color are added. And, in this one, I combined some other reference photos to get the landscape.

It was an amazing sight! One not ever to be fully captured in paint or held past the moment ~ except in the mind's eye of the beholder. For me, it is a powerful testament to the awesome power of God, whose display of grandeur can be seen in so many "everyday" things around us - and yet, who protects us!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More of the Year in Review

Curbside Profusion, 8x10" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
This one is now in a private collection.

Falling Leaves, 5 x 5" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
Please click here for more information on this painting.

Two kinds of things, both showing the profusion of creation. One in its prime, one in beautiful clothing as it subsides. Both of these offered their own particular types of challenge.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The progression of expression...

2 Media - but the Same Composition:

This progression shows how my thought process developed for this painting. I started with an oil pastel version - working out the colors and ideas for the composition. It is much smaller, but I liked the idea and how it was coming together.

Snowy Bank, 6x8" Oil pastel on paper
©2009, Helen Read

Click here for more information on this small painting

You can see the effect of built up layers of oil pastel as it lays on the paper in this particular rendition. I was intrigued by the mixture of colors in the shadows. It seemed that there was more to explore here in the media of oil, so that was the next generation!

Icy Riverbank, 11 x 14" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read

You may see this and other landscapes from my studio at my website.
or email me for more information:

The media of oil makes a difference in the overall effect. While the composition is essentially the same, and the color scheme is also much the same - the overall effect is a little different. Both have their individual appeal!

Either way, these are quite representative of our northern Illinois winter! And, as I write, we are getting yet another layer of white covering... its quite beautiful and rather peaceful.

Monday, December 21, 2009

More Oil Pastel Landscapes

The Space Between, 6x8" Oil pastel on paper
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to mat and frame
Please click here for a convenient purchase link

Streak of Orange, 6x8 " Oil Pastel on paper
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to mat and frame
Please click here for a convenient purchase link

As I review the year - it has been fun to pick up an old media that I haven't used in awhile and also explore older subject matter. Both of these are in that area of exploration. I love the tranquility of landscapes, though that is not to say they cannot express drama! And, it is a way to express a sense of melancholy for some of the vanishing open lands and farms in this part of the mid-west.

For more information about my work or my studio,

Please visit my website

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Small Landscapes

Small Landscapes
©2009, Helen Read

One of my summer goals was to work with landscapes again. I was very interested in working with atmospheric effects and depth of space, as well as color. Most of these are oil pastel on paper, which was another area of experimentation. I've worked with oil pastel before, but found my more intensive work this summer with that medium to increase my fluency with it and to help me find some expressive ways of using it.

Most of these paintings above are oil pastel on paper, and a few of them are oil on canvas. You can see all of them more individually at my website. And if you click on the image when you go to my website, you will find out specific information on each painting.

It was good to get back to get back to speaking the language of landscape painting!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

More of the Year in Review

The Edge of the Woods, 6x8" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
For more information on the availability of this painting, please click here.

Pink Gerbera Daisy Triptych, overall: 24 x 8" (3 panels each measure 8x8")
Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
For more information on the availability of this triptych painting, please click here.

Dill-icious, 6x6" Acrylic on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
For more information on the availability of this painting, please click here.


This year I was drawn again and again to the beauty of botanical subject matter, both in the form of magnified paintings that almost take on an element of abstraction and in landscapes as well.
The obvious truth is that creation in all its glory and profusion just attracts my attention and holds it! Perhaps that is because I lived most of my formative years in the beauty of the southwestern countryside ... or, perhaps it is just a subject matter that has so many possibilities that it is difficult to exhaust one's investigation! Either way, I love the beauty of our natural world - the work of our wonderful creator's hands.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More of the Year in Review

This year I also experimented a little bit with some pen and ink bird drawings that were light hearted and fun. I was also experimenting with a new medium - ink pencils. These were whimiscal and fun to do! And eventually they inspired some note cards.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Year in Review - part I

A set of 8 notecards (2 of each design) + envelopes
measuring 5.5 x 4.25" each
(shipping is additional - IL residents, please add 8.25% sales tax)

The year started out with some pen and ink drawings of botanicals. Each of these flowers is
beautiful, sculptural and colorful in various ways. As they were completed, it seemed right to create a note card set of them. They've sold quite well this year!

What a great stocking stuffer (yes! there is still time to receive a set for Christmas), or wonderful thank you notes for after the holiday!

Please note - for multiple prints going to the same address,
shipping cost adjustments will be made in the form of a refund based on actual costs of shipping.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just in time for Christmas Giving! A 5-Painting Auction!

The Edge of the Woods, 6x8" Oil on canvas, ©2009, Helen Read
Beginning bid $20.00
Click here to see bidding progress or place a bid

Bidding to end on Thursday 11-26

Blue Kitten, 5x5" Acrylic on canvas
Beginning bid $20.00
Click here to see bidding progress or to place a bid

Bidding to end on Thursday 11-26

Ruff, 6x6" Acrylic on canvas ©2009, Helen Read
Beginning bid $20.00
Click here to see bidding progress or place a bid

Bidding to end on Thursday 11-26

Green on Blue, 5x7" Oil on canvas ©2008, Helen Read
beginning bid $20.00
Click here to see bidding progress or place a bid

Bidding to end on Thursday 11-26

White Peony, 8x8" Oil on Canvas ©2009, Helen Read
beginning bid $20.00
Click here to see bidding progress or place a bid

Bidding to end on Thursday 11-26

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Southwest Landscape - Old Oak

Old Oak, 6x8" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
ready to frame

For more information on the availability of this painting, please click here.

Another southwestern landscape! These are wonderful trees that grow in central Texas. They are old, and curve back to the ground, almost as if they have grown legs. With the right curvature, you can walk along the trunk!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Think Ahead - just a little! Gift Ideas!

Prints and Note Cards - reproductions of original art!

The season of gift giving is just around the corner, and I have some ideas for small gifts (under $25.00) through larger one-of-a-kind gifts.

And here's the best part!
Buy 2 or more sets of cards, a set of cards and a print, or 2 or more prints
and receive a free gift of a small set of pastel landscape note cards (limited edition)

See what's available here at my website!

Offer available now through December 2009.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nest Eggs Print

Nest Eggs Print - 5x7" print, matted in white - ready to frame
outside dimensions - 8x10"
©2008, Helen Read
$40.00 per print
(shipping $10.00 in US, IL residents please add 8.25% sales tax)
Give the gift of fine art this holiday season! Order now!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

After the Storm - above it all!

After the Storm, 11 x 14" Oil on canvas
©2009, Helen Read
Ready to Frame

Please email me for information on the availability of this painting

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Paintings and writings from "Lessons from Matthew 6"

Lessons from Matthew 6

"...Consider the lilies of the field how they grow... yet not even Solomon in all his
glory was dressed as one of these. Your Heavenly Father already knows
all your needs, and he will give you all you need day by day if you live for him,
making his kingdom your priority."

A personal expression of faith:
A journey of questions and answers - A visual response.
(paintings ©Helen Read, with artist's notes)

Almost 10 years ago, I found myself in an unexpected place in life - devastating
life changes...
And deep questions haunted my heart:
Questions about God's love, questions about fear and God's protection and provision,
questions about the next steps.

His answers have been spoken through his Word and the beautiful tableau of his
creation. Through the language of beauty he has shown me his sustaining hand
and whispered quiet assurance of his love, strength and faithfulness.
The lovely work of his hand, as seen in creation, is the outpouring of his heart!

I love the pure abundance of flowers!
To me they are a statement of God's love. He gave his attention to the deepest, hidden parts while creating a profusion of colors, shapes, smells and sizes that capture our attention. Not only has he done it for his own delight, but as a gifting to us!
He is a God of Exquisite Detail!
Not just in the beauty of the world around us, but as he deals with our hearts and lives.

His Love:
Passages that spoke to my heart very powerfully as I put forth my questions, even my doubts, about his love come from Isaiah.

"Can a mother forget her young children? Can she feel no love for the child she has
borne? Even if that were possible, I will not forget you! See! I have written your name on
my hand."
(from Isaiah 49)

"For I have chosen you, and I will not throw you away!" (from Isaiah 41)

The God of Great Gifts has prepared beauty for the simple sake of beauty!
It bespeaks his very character. Often, he tucks His gifts into common things.... Gifts of love that are waiting to be discovered in passing moments, such as the tiny explosion of light as it hits a
delicate dew drop perched on the edge of a petal. He catches my eye in a
momentary display of wonder!

His Protection:
I can't count the number of times and myriad ways that I have been tempted and
often succumbed to fear. Fear about so many different things - sometimes well-founded
concerns that turn into dark foreboding thoughts. Sometimes my own imagination
begins to dictate my feelings.
In the depths of those time, his Spirit has met me in that lonely place.

"Its alright, I am here! Don't be afraid." (from Mark 6)

"Don't be afraid for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, you are mine! When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. For I am the Lord your God! I am your Savior!"
(from Isaiah 43)

Look deep into creation. His character is seen in all the details he has lovingly created.
His provision is constant and he protects and sustains the work of his hands.

"He is a shield to those who take refuge in him." (from Proverbs 3)

Why, I wonder, does Fear find such a foothold?
It is the temptation to doubt the love that God has declared for me.
Right at the moment that I think I may be alone, fear takes root!
But if I stop to look to both his word and the truth of his creation, I
see Goodness, Strength, and Protection.

Even in the most severe environments, he offers his care.
Even in my most severe circumstances, he shields me.

His Provision:
God's provision is seen in every aspect of his creation!
Not just providing the barest of necessities, but pouring from his hand
is bountiful profusion.

"Look at the birds, they do not plant or harvest or store up food because your Heavenly Father
feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are." (From Matthew 6)

"You crown the year with a bountiful harvest. Even the hard pathways overflow
with abundance!" (from Psalm 68)

Abundance can take many forms; not always in temporal things - but rather in the
heart - in the quiet certainty that, contrary to all appearances, God will provide!

The realm of nature provides such a wonderful example of God's provision.
Faithfully, he sends everything required for life, for everything he has created.

For his own people, though, his own reputation is on the line!
What kind of God would faithfully sustain the natural world and then neglect
the children whom he treasures? For the sake of his own name, he
faithfully provides and in his inimitable way, he provides bountifully!
I detect joy in his giving!

His Guidance:
Many times along the way, I have had no sense of what lies just beyond this day or this moment!
The next step, no matter which direction, is a step clouded in obscurity.

How I have struggled with uncertainty!
And yet, as I wait, a plan unfolds - often quietly without great fanfare -
but in ways far beyond my ability to have imagined.
And every piece of it fits into place with perfection!
There is only one explanation: Someone else's plan was in play!

"For I am about to do a brand new thing. See! I have already begun. Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness!" ( from Isaiah 43)

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. ' Plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.' " (from Jeremiah 29)

"He cares for his people with a true heart and leads them with skillful hands."
(from Psalm 78)

The journey is still in progress. I will continue to find instruction in God's lovely
creation. The pathway, I have found, is never marked out in detail ahead of
where I am today.

But, I can say this with certainty:
"I still belong to you! You are holding my right hand, you will keep on guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny." (Psalm 73: 23-24)