sacred grove contemplative forest woods greg olsen

Stay Contemplative — Sacred Grove by Greg Olson

sacred grove contemplative forest woods greg olsen

A quiet, still place invites contemplation and thought. Sacred Grove, limited edition print by Greg Olsen

When is the last time you were contemplative?

Being contemplative takes time and a bit of effort, because we must find a quiet place where we can think. This means no TV, no phone, no computer screen, none of the accoutrements of  technology that factor so strongly in “modern” life. Too often, we focus on acquiring knowledge — facts, “news,” up to date reporting on trends, politics, and snippets of science — but without contemplation, we are unable to process these facts, sort them out, determine what is true and what is false.

We become human encyclopedias of stuff. Our brains are attics filled with everything from priceless paintings to broken tennis rackets. Without time to be contemplative, however, we’re unable to distinguish between the valuable and the mundane, the functional and the broken.

We need to get away from the noise and the chatter, the constant tugging on our sleeve by mass media to “Listen to this!” and “Be alarmed about that!”

Greg Olsen’s art print, Sacred Grove, takes us to such a contemplative place. It is quiet here, and very still. In this calm, hushed forest, we can think.

“But I don’t have a forest like this near where I live!” a voice objects.

That’s okay — that’s why artists create images of beauty, to invite people to step into them and be there. Look at the image. Step onto the path. Imprint it upon your mind.

Get Away to a Peaceful Place

There are always places to be contemplative — many people choose the bathroom because it generally has a lock on the door. There’s the porch. A park bench. Even the sofa on a Sunday afternoon. The important thing is to not invite the phone in on the conversation, or the TV, or the talk show, podcast, radio broadcast, newscaster, politician, medico, financier, philanthropist, Instagram celebrity, pop singer — it’s a pretty long list, isn’t it?

Indeed, the sheer quantity of mass media temptation that draws us away from being contemplative is . . . something to contemplate.

Stay Contemplative — It’s an Antidote to Fear

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Sacred Grove by Greg Olsen. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by Greg Olsen are at this link.

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early morning visitors deer welcoming country william phillips

Stay Welcoming — Early Morning Visitors by William Phillips

early morning visitors deer welcoming country william phillips

Shy, and uncertain of a true welcoming, a group of deer stand outside the farmhouse and wait. Early Morning Visitors, framed limited edition print by William Phillips.

We’ve all seen a countenance that is welcoming. A smile, a warm glance, these invite us to come closer and be part of that person’s day. We feel wanted and accepted — delightful emotions that all humans crave.

How easy it is, however, to be not welcoming — to hurt people because we are too busy, too self-absorbed, too fearful to invite them closer. The most obvious incidence of this occurs when we wear masks, physical or figurative, that block people from seeing our faces. It is difficult, if not impossible, to be transparent and open when we hide ourselves away.

The interesting thing about people in our lives is that they are not always convenient. They’re not always the people we wanted to see. They may not arrive when it’s convenient to see them. They may arrive unasked, unexpected. Or they may be late. Or too early. In a culture that prizes convenience to the point that we frequently choose it over more valuable elements, like freedom or quality, unexpected arrivals mess up our schedules. Instead of being welcoming we are — not always unreasonably — irritated or annoyed, distant or in a hurry.

Smile with Welcome

William Phillips’ artwork Early Morning Visitors, is a reminder to us to slow down, suspend our schedule, take off our masks and smile with our eyes as well as our mouths. A herd of deer hovers shyly around the outskirts of a farmhouse. Though the land “belongs” to the owner of the house, the deer do not know this, because this is their home as well. The wise person, if he wants to be welcoming to these furtive guests, keeps the dogs away. He is aware of the extreme sensitivity of these early morning guests, and responds with sensitivity as well.

It takes time, and thought, and determination to be welcoming. It is not always convenient. But it is very often worthwhile.

Stay Welcoming — The Alternative Is to Shut People Out

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Early Morning Visitors by William Phillips. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by William Phillips are at this link.

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great big world excited dog flowers sueellen ross

Stay Excited about Life — Great Big World by Suellen Ross

great big world excited dog flowers sueellen ross

Cats are cool; dogs are not. But dogs, who get excited about the world around them, seem to enjoy life more. Great Big World, framed open edition print by Sueellen Ross

Have you ever met someone who never gets excited about anything?

They may be polished, refined, sophisticated, a little cynical — all those adjectives that describe someone our society calls “cool.”

And “cool,” as we all know from  TV, movies, and the celebrity and music entertainment culture, is the ultimate thing to be.

But “cool,” with its absence of emotion, spontaneity, and childlike wonder, is also a bit boring. Cool people don’t drop down to their knees in the dirt to watch a bee pollinate a flower. Cool people don’t laugh with joy at the sight of balloons. They don’t play Catch the String with kittens.

Getting excited, about anything other than the latest trends, isn’t cool.

But maybe there’s more to life than being cool. Maybe people who aren’t so cool are more interesting, more engaged, more creative, more fun to be around.

Such is the personality of the puppy in Sueellen Ross’s framed print, Great Big World. This dog, definitely uncool, isn’t thinking about itself, isn’t focused on how it looks to others and what others think of it. Rather, this curious personality is fascinated by the world of flowers and insects, of movement and color, of shape and form and light and life. Excited by all the possibilities of the world around, this totally un-cool creature discovers the good things in life, because it’s willing to look for them.

The opposite of cool is warm. How much better to have a warm, open, engaging approach to life than a cool one!

Stay Excited about the World around You

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Great Big World by Sueellen Ross. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by Sueellen Ross are at this link.

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love letter communicating laramie charles wysocki

Stay Communicating: Love Letter from Laramie by Charles Wysocki

love letter communicating laramie charles wysocki

Next to a face to face conversation, a good long letter is an excellent — and private — way to communicate. Love Letter from Laramie by Charles Wysocki

Communicating with one another is essential to healthy, strong relationships.

And while this seems so painfully obvious that it’s not worth mentioning, it is worth mentioning. Because, like eating food that truly nourishes, getting out for a walk, and turning off the TV, it’s one of those things we’d be better off doing, but don’t often enough actually do.

“Oh, I keep in touch with all my friends and family by texting and posting on social media,” some say. “I’m too busy to do anything else.”

But digital chatter, as many are increasingly learning, has little to do with strengthening relationships. Communicating via social media is like sitting, tete a tete, near the nosy neighbor’s fence, trying to have a private conversation. She butts in too much, scolding us for what we say, insisting that we acquiesce to what she believes. And she’s not beyond blocking our conversation completely, for our own good and that of society, of course. Such  (community) standards she has!

Charles Wysocki’s artwork, Love Letter from Laramie, reminds us that, when we can’t see the people we love, be with the people we love, interact face to face, close and personal, with the people in our lives who matter, we stay communicating by staying creative and interactive. A young woman in the wild, inhospitable west stops everything she’s doing to read the letter from the one she loves. These are words for her eyes alone, thoughts shared between two people that do not need to be, nor should be, filtered through an algorithm.

Meaningful communication requires not only time, effort, and persistence, but also — most importantly — privacy.

Stay Communicating — It’s How We Stay Strong

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Love Letter from Laramie by Charles Wysocki. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by Charles Wysocki are at this link.

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harvest busy laborers farmers vineyard june carey art print

Stay Busy: Harvest by June Carey

harvest busy laborers farmers vineyard june carey art print

It’s a warm day in the Tuscany landscape, a day on which to be pleasantly busy, peacefully occupied. Harvest, limited edition giclee canvas by June Carey.

The word “busy” has both good and bad connotations.

At its worst it describes the frenetic nature of modern American society: we must work smarter, harder, faster, and constantly in order to get ahead. Getting ahead, we understand, means making more money than others. Making more money, when we amass enough of it, translates into power. But ordinary people, no matter how smart, hard, fast, and constantly we work, rarely, if ever, get to that top tier.

It doesn’t stop us from being too busy, however. We work long hours. Read books about being smart and fast. Follow “successful” people on Instagram. Put ourselves down for not writing our own success story.

But there’s another kind of busy, synonyms to which are “pleasantly occupied,” or “genially employed.” In this busy-ness, we move easily from task to task, concentrated, but in no particular hurry. What we are doing is meaningful and good, under conditions that are not onerous, but rather, allow our mind to gently wander as our hands work. At the end of the day we feel good because kept moving, kept engaged, and accomplished something worth doing.

Such is the scene we see in June Carey’s limited edition giclee canvas, Harvest. It’s a sunny day in Tuscany (who wouldn’t want to be in Tuscany on a sunny day?) and the people working in the vineyards move from row to row, purposefully, but not frantically. The air is fresh, the sunlight warm, the shade welcome. There is a sense of peace in the quiet, companionability in being with others, satisfaction with work that is honest.

This is a good busy indeed.

Stay Talking

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Harvest by June Carey. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by June Carey are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

 

mother child gardening teaching family mike capser art print

Stay Teaching: Learning to Grow by Michael Capser

mother child gardening teaching family mike capser art print

Teachable moments are rarely planned. They happen as we spend time together. Learning to Grow, art print by Michael Capser.

While teaching is a profession, and a noble one,  it is not limited to a job.

Those of us who are fortunate remember a beloved math teacher who showed us the fool-proof way to figure out percentages; the English instructor who solved that whole “me and him” or “he and I” dilemma. But some of our finest and best teachers, and our first ones, are members of our family: our parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, grandparents. These are the people who have the strongest, most lasting and vested interest in the child.

Teaching is something that happens day by day, moment by moment, as adults interact with children, or even other adults.  We teach by example, by word, by listening, by caring. Some of the things we teach are concrete: how to plant a flower, how to knead dough and recognize when to stop, how to drive a car (every parent’s favorite). Other things we teach are social or ethical: saying please and thank you, recognizing how our tone affects our words, doing chores with the intent of doing them right.

And a more abstract teaching involves character: dignity, respect, honesty, compassion, kindness, understanding, goodness. These are not something we pick up from reading a book and answering a series of questions afterwards. These are elements we absorb as we live around people who are absorbing them themselves.

Quiet, Yet Dynamic, Teaching

Learning to Grow, Michael Capser’s artwork celebrating innocence and warmth, shows dynamic teaching in action. Side by side, mother and child transplant flowers. The woman leans easily into the task, the child squats down in the way young children so effortlessly do and “helps.” Part of the teaching is recognizing, which wise adults do, that little ones have little hands, short attention spans, and enormous quantities of imagination. The task itself is less important than the time together.

This type of teaching does not require an academic degree. But it most definitely requires a degree of caring.

Stay Teaching — You Have Much to Give

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Learning to Grow by Michael Capser. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by Michael Capser are available online at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

 

quail run birds chatting monica stobie print

Stay Chatting: Quail Talk by Monica Stobie

quail run birds chatting monica stobie print

Chatting is a pleasurable activity that we do every day as we interact with one another. Quail Talking, art print by Monica Stobie.

Thanks to modern technology, the word “chatting” doesn’t mean what it used to mean.

Now, the word implies texting, or typing on Messenger, or responding to a social media post. Emojis add depth to the conversation, or at least prevent misunderstanding, or soften an insult.

But chatting is a verbal thing, light and easy conversation among friends, families, and even acquaintances. When we check out at the grocery we chat with the cashier (and the person bagging our goods — they get overlooked a lot). At the library we chat with the librarian, sharing books we have read and picking up some good ideas from each other. On the street, we chat with people we bump into. In line, we chat with the person next to us. At night, we chat with family members and friends about our day. We tell stories, swap anecdotes, banter lightly back and forth about the “news” and the “newsworthy.”

Chatting, while it is not the in-depth, intense conversation that is so necessary to freedom of thought, matters. It transitions total strangers into acquaintances, and from acquaintances, we can become friends. Even if our conversation never progresses beyond the light and easy, that’s okay. Each friendly social interaction is a reminder that we share more than we think. In a society that is regularly polarized by politics and mass media, that’s important.

Family, Friends, Acquaintances — We Chat

Monica Stobie’s artwork Quail Talk, invites us to step into the world of chatting. Here we have a family — little ones, big ones, aunts and uncles and moms and dads — poking about their day and keeping up a cheep of communication. It’s a friendly, gregarious moment, an interaction that adds pleasure to the day.

Chatting is delightful. Let’s keep doing it.

Stay Chatting — It Mitigates Polarization

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Quail Talk by Monica Stobie. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by Monica Stobie are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

 

Evening Companions harmonious dogs sleeping john weiss

Stay Harmonious: Evening Companions by John Weiss

Evening Companions harmonious dogs sleeping john weiss

After a long day of being productive and busy, it’s comforting to be in company with those we love and trust. Evening Companions, fine art print by John Weiss.

People, and animals, who spend a lot of time together tend to achieve harmonious understanding in their relationship.

It’s not that they always agree. Indeed, if we all agreed, 100% of the time, on everything, that would be odd, not to say boring. It’s wise to be wary when we’re told that a particular view is one upon which everyone agrees. And anyone who doesn’t is dumb. Or subversive. Or dangerous. Or uneducated. Or just plain wrong.

This attitude of judgment is the total opposite of harmonious. It squelches intelligent dialogue and the ability to establish meaningful relationships.

Meaningful relationships, which are the best kind to have, require trust, respect, and the willingness to give and take as we share our thoughts and beliefs (which, remember, do not agree 100%) with one another. Such relationships take time, as well as maturity on the part of each member. They flourish in close and regular contact, with face to face communication being the best, and most private, way to interact. There’s a reason why loyalty runs in families.

Harmonious Together

The artwork, Evening Companions by John Weiss, shows two close companions at the end of the day — simply being comfortable with one another. They don’t look the same. They’re not the same color. One is larger than the other, but this does not mean that it dominates. It is highly likely that some time during the day, even multiple times, they will disagree, may even snap at one another. But the snapping cannot be too harsh or abrasive, because if it were, they would not be so close, so harmonious in their friendship.

When we take time to listen to one another respectfully, and then, if necessary, respectfully disagree, we make more friends than we do enemies.

Stay Harmonious with One Another

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Evening Companions by John Weiss. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by John Weiss are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

 

 

elk wildlife animal wilderness taylor fork crossing larry zabel

Stay Moving: Taylor Fork Crossing by Larry Zabel

elk wildlife moving animal wilderness taylor fork crossing larry zabel

Possessing neither phones nor computers, screens nor tablets, animals in the wild keep moving. Taylor Fork Crossing, fine art print by Larry Zabel

How much time do we spend each day sitting, and not moving?

Probably a lot more than we think. We live in a world of computers and TV screens, with jobs that require more sedentary “action” than physical. And after work, we glue ourselves to the news, or a “reality” show, or soap or sports or game show or movie or situation comedy or drama or whatever we find as we flip through the channels.

The problem doesn’t limit itself to a lack of physical moving. When we spend a lot of time in front of a screen, passively absorbing what we read and hear and what we’re told, our minds sit as well. Without concertedly taking time to physically move — to stretch and flex our muscles, to breathe deep as we exert ourselves — we get flabby. So also do we get flabby when we do not stretch and flex our minds, ask questions, research problems, look for answers, refuse to be passified and assuaged by neat, tidy explanations of how things are and how we must accept that they be.

Many animals in the wilderness spend their time moving. Alert to their surroundings, animals like the elk in Larry Zabel’s artwork, Taylor Fork Crossing, must be constantly aware of what is going on around them. Even in rest they remain watchful, because the world for them is filled with predators. These are not dumb creatures, but wary ones.

As humans, we have the added benefit to be able to reason, imagine, wonder, doubt, and pursue answers. What a gift!

Do we use it?

Stay Moving: Both Physically and Mentally

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Taylor Fork Crossing by Larry Zabel. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by Larry Zabel are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.

 

Stay Talking: Courtyard by William Phillips

courtyard couple talking courting summer romance william phillips

What better way to spend a sleepy summer evening than sitting by the gentle pond, together, dreaming and daydreaming and planning and talking? Courtyard, limited edition print, framed, by William Phillips.

Talking.

Conversing.

Interacting, one human with another.

There’s just no replacement for these activities. Letters are nice, although fewer people take time to write them anymore. Outside of wartime censorship, there is a modicum of privacy with a heartfelt letter that allows the writers to share their thoughts.

Nowadays, however, we’re told that letters and cards are out of date, replaced by texting, posting, and digital chatting on social media. Increasingly, we’re encouraged to look at these as replacements for human to human, face to face talking as well.

Substitution for the Real Thing

But what a sad substitution for meaningful, and effective, conversation. Most of us have received a text in which we’ve uttered, “Huh? Is the writer mad or something?” that no emoji can counteract. Similarly, many people have posted a comment on social media, trying to genuinely express their thoughts — which differ from “popular,” approved public opinion — only to be excoriated online. It doesn’t take many interactions like these to recognize the extreme limitations of phone texting and social media postings as a means of true, honest, safe communication.

And Smart Phones? It’s funny how many times people talk to them, saying, “Do you hear me, whoever’s listening out there?” Except when it’s not funny.

The artwork, Courtyard by William Phillips, shows a means of communicating that transcends all technology because it is timeless. A young couple enjoys a sleepy summer evening by the quiet waters of a pond. Sitting side by side in the grass, neither one is looking at their phone, thumbs twiddling. Rather, they are talking.

What about? We don’t know. Because they are sitting close enough together to speak in low voices, they are able to keep their conversation private. Any trolls would be relegated to a distant bridge, where they could battle it out with the largest billy goat.

Talking. There’s just nothing like it.

Stay Talking

Wenaha GalleryThe featured image to this article is Courtyard by William Phillips. You may purchase the print online at this link. We would be absolutely delighted to frame the work for you, working online and by phone — something we have been doing successfully for many years with out out-of-town clients. Email us at Wenaha.com to start the conversation.

More works by William Phillips are at this link.

If this post has encouraged you, please pass it on.