Category Archives: creativity


Echoes (and SPARKs)

This gallery contains 2 photos.

SPARK is all about inspiration and response. The original exchange is usually just the beginning of the process; sparks continue to fly long afterward. Continue reading

SPARK 20: My Painting

Margaret Mair, In the Deep Red Heart of the Wood, Original Art, 2013

Margaret Mair, In the Deep Red Heart of the Wood, Original Art, 2013

I always enjoy doing SPARK. It’s partly the lure of the unexpected – you never know what your inspiration piece will be. It’s partly enjoying the challenge – reading, contemplating, sketching, painting, and all within a limited time with a deadline to meet. It’s partly the pleasure of working away at something I love.

This time the inspiration piece was an intriguing short poem by Michelle Wallace. There were suggestions of reclamation, of blood and sweat and tears, of revelation. Which of those to pick up on, and how?

The idea of reclamation and revelation intrigued me. And her words made me think of a material I love and have worked with a lot – wood. Then there needed to be the sense of a person, or of people, involved. I sketched three ideas, but only one really appealed to me, and that was the one I worked with.

The result is the painting you see.  I’m not sure yet whether it’s finished.  It needs to sit and be contemplated for a while before I know.  But I sent it out into the world for all to see anyway!

You can see the painting and inspiration piece together on the SPARK site – and a lot of other interesting work beside.  I hope you’ll take the time to visit and enjoy.

Written by Margaret Mair

Original art by Margaret Mair


Summer And Sailing and Light

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Summer this year means sailing, exploring, observing… Continue reading

Room to Grow

Auguste Renoir, Bouquet of Chrysanthemums

Auguste Renoir, Bouquet of Chrysanthemums

Every artist, every person, needs opportunities to experiment and room to grow.

For Renoir, painting flowers was that opportunity: he could experiment, work differently, try new ideas.

“When I paint flowers, I feel free to try out tones and values and worry less about destroying the canvas,” he told the writer Georges Rivière. “I would not do this with a figure painting since there I would care about destroying the work.” (quote from the MetMuseum)

This is one of those paintings of flowers, and it is a study in contrasts. We see combinations of dark and light, warmth and coolness, texture and smoothness.

The composition looks formal, centered. The flowers are impressionistic, shapes and petals and the interplay of light and dark suggested with strokes of warm color. If you look closely you can see the different colors that, together, create the dense surfaces of the lighter shelf beneath and darker wall behind the flowers. The glossy-looking surface of the vase that holds those flowers, the precise curve of its side, contrast with the softness of the rest of the painting.

It’s a beautiful painting – but then if it had been a failure chances are we would not be looking at it now. I wonder what his failures, the paintings he would have destroyed, looked like? In the end it doesn’t matter – what matters is what he learned along the way.

What we do see is the sense the freedom that comes with worrying less “about destroying the canvas”. It is a freedom that everyone needs from time to time.

Wishing you the freedom and the room you need to try new things, learn, and grow.

JR’s Change the World Project

Margaret Mair, Thinking (of Interesting Things), Original Art

Margaret Mair, Thinking (of Interesting Things), Original Art

The InsideOut Project is one of the interesting things I came across last year.

Have you ever felt the desire to change the world, to make it better?  And then thought, the world is so large, the problems so all-encompassing, that no one person could make a difference?

This year, many people tried to find a way to make a difference.  They said, “We can do something.”

Sometimes the action is simple, at least in concept. Like JR, using photographs to change people’s perceptions of each other and themselves one image at a time.

And we can help by sharing our own images.  He explains in this TED talk.

Would you like to be part of this change?  Visit the and see what you can do…

Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Rooted in Love

Marc Chagall loved Bella Rosenfeld.  In 1914 he came back from Paris to Vitebsk to woo and wed her.  In 1915 they married and she became integral to his art and life.

She is woven into his art.  His images of her are full of love, fantasy and romance.  He frequently shows them soaring over the mundane world around them.  Each time Chagall creates Bella’s likeness he shares the beauty he sees in and through her, his passion and their joy.

For the twenty-nine years that they were married she was his companion, his link to his roots, and his muse.  After she died unexpectedly in 1944 it took time for him to recover his desire to paint.  Then he returned to painting by creating new images of her.

Because no matter what the future held, her place in his life had to be affirmed.

Links to a couple of my favorite paintings:

Art of Communication – Graffiti reflects hope in Haiti –

M. Mair, Thinking, Black and White, Original Art

M. Mair, Thinking, Original Art

I follow the Repeating Islands blog because it is full of news from and information about the Caribbean and its artists, writers, musicians and film makers.  Sometimes it shares a story that touches me,  and that I want to share with you.  In the midst of devastation, violence, cholera and bad weather the only way to move forward is through hope.  Here is a story of one artist who puts that hope into images that everyone that passes can see, feel and understand.  Let us be grateful for artists like Jerry Rosembert, whose work helps those around him.

Graffiti reflects hope in Haiti –

And Monet Kept Painting

For Monet, creating art was all about painting the world as he saw it.  And he saw it as moving fields of colour and light.  When he painted these fields he created the illusion of a world lit by sunlight, made us see the world he saw as light glancing off water or filtered through mist or reflected off surfaces.

When he began to go blind in 1907, at the age of sixty-eight, he might have considered that a good reason to give up painting.  He was a successful artist, and financially secure.  Still he continued to work, though what he saw and how he painted changed.

By the 1920s he was virtually blind.  In spite of that he began work in 1920 on a series of large scale canvases which he intended to donate to France.  On these huge canvases he painted quite differently, using broad areas of colour to create the effects he wanted and working in a way that was not to be seen again for years.

In 1923, when he was about eighty-four, he had two cataract operations. Once again how he saw changed, but his desire and will to paint did not.  He continued painting his beloved water lilies until his death in 1926.

Even when he faced the obstacle of declining vision, Monet never stopped painting.  Instead he changed, adapting his way of working to make the best use of what he had – his knowledge, his skills and his remaining sight.  There were changes in the details, but the essence of his work remained the same.

There is a lesson for us all here – not to give up when faced with this kind of challenge, but instead to adapt and find new ways to do the things we need and want to do.

Thank you, Claude Monet – for the beauty of your work, the creativity of your vision and the example you set.

Books become Art: Creations of Brian Dettmer, found on PLANET°

While the book lover in me admits to having difficulty with the idea, the artist in me loves the results.  Artist Brian Dettmer turns books into sculptural works of art; Planet’s Jennifer Pappas talks to him about the process and shows us some of the results.  See for yourself by clicking on:

Brian Dettmer | PLANET°.

Hope you enjoy your visit.  I did.

Music for Magritte

Paul Simon has a way with songs; even as you slide easily through the melody, his words can make you pause and think.  As they do in this song,  And it is only fitting.

After all, Magritte had a way with an image.  He too can make you pause and think.  He can surprise you, make you look twice, shock you, make you think; even make you chuckle.  All you have to do is look closely.