REST. (Desktop Calendar for April, 2016)

*Seascape1(Rest)Big

“Seascape 1 (REST)” • 14″ x 14″ oil painting • 2009 Marie Scott Studios

REST. 

Not something I do well.

Which is why, way back in the spring of 2009, I painted myself this little daily reminder.

That nasty, four-letter-word spelled R-E-S-T, is what is wrote on the tiny sign in the water.

REST.

Seven years later, I’m still working on it. (Without much success.)

But once again, in the spring of 2016, I am giving it another shot. Giving myself the freedom to REST.  

Resting my mind. Resting my insatiable drive to want to build something that is bigger than one little person can handle while maintaining a balanced life.

Resting my body. Well not really, but at least doing something I love.

Painting. Painting walls. Painting woodwork. Painting furniture. Painting a house into a home. Painting muscles back into my neglected arms.

REST.

In the spirit of REST, that’s about all I’ve got to say about that today.

Other than, enjoy this old painting of mine as your desktop calendar for the month of April. I hope it is reminds you to cut yourself some slack, and give yourself some rest — whatever that may look like for YOU.

Marie Scott
signature

www.mariescottstudios.com

April 2016 Desktop Calendar

Download this free desktop calendar for April, 2016 by clicking on the image and saving it to your computer to use as wallpaper this month.

 

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

An unexpected memory of Serenity

Serenity2

SERENITY • 12″ x 12″ oil painting • ©2015 Marie Scott Studios

 

Today is the first day of the month. This is the day I usually blog about one of my paintings, and then also include a free desktop calendar which contains that piece of art.

I knew the painting I would use for the March Calendar was going to be the one I had titled  “Serenity.”

So this morning, as I was driving home from dropping my son off at school, I wondered to myself “what did I really mean when I named this painting ‘Serenity’ after finishing it last autumn??”

Then out of the blue, came a vivid memory. From the summer of 1991.

I was in college, and on a summer musical tour with a group called The Continental Singers. (It was really more traveling than singing, as we spent about six hours a day on the bus and only about three hours a day making music. It was also really kind of cheezey as I look back now, but oh-so-cool at the time!)

Part of this summer adventure took us to Brazil for several days. It is all somewhat a blurry memory by now, some 25 years later, but I still recall our overseas travels were well-seasoned with unexplainably frustrating problems for our otherwise capable sound team.

After spending hours on a tour bus traveling through the countryside of Brazil, we finally arrived at some huge city, assuming it was time to get out and see the sites. Instead of what seemed like a reasonable expectation, we basically just circled around the city. All day long. Looking for new parts for our sound equipment.

In thinking about times of serenity in my life, I remember radiating with an unexpected serenity on this particular day.

We were in a foreign country. We were tired. We were hungry and thirsty. We expected to get off the bus. And yet we circled around. Looking for mysterious sound parts. But for some reason, it didn’t matter.

Serenity means “the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.”

When it finally became apparent to me that this circling of the city wasn’t going to end anytime soon, it was somehow easier to accept.

Why didn’t this unexpected, endless circling bother me? Why wasn’t I internally screaming “let me off this bus!”

Maybe, by that point in the summer, I was just so used to having absolutely no say in my schedule? Maybe I had just accepted the new reality which appeared to be “when in Brazil we spend our days circling the city.”

Or maybe, just maybe… It was the presence of God that day. Filling my heart with a Peace that is beyond all understanding. A peace that comes from knowing in my head, and feeling in my bones, that there is One much bigger than me who is ultimately in control of it all.

Whatever the reason for this unexplained Serenity. It was there. In a big way.

25 years later, it occurs to me that I’m back on that tour bus. Circling the city. Waiting for the next instructions. Not knowing what comes next. Yet filled with a surprising and unexplained Serenity.

When I titled the painting in October —“Serenity” was the very last thing I was feeling. But it was what I was hoping to find.

Five months later, as I sit writing to you from within a sea of boxes that contain more than a decade of my work and memories, I somehow find myself once again, in this unexpected state of Serenity.

And for this, I am most grateful.

March 2016 Desktop Calendar

To enjoy a view of “Serenity” this month, download this free desktop calendar to be used as your computer’s wallpaper this month. 

Wishing you too — a Peace that surpasses all understanding — throughout the month of March and beyond.

Marie Scott
signature

www.mariescottstudios.com

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:7

 

 

Shadows with a plan. (February calendar!)

Coneflower2

CONEFLOWER • 12″ x 12″ oil painting • ©2015 Marie Scott

Coneflower is part of my “Sad Flower” series — a series of four botanical paintings, representing four heavy-hearted flowers I found growing in various locations.

In the twelve-plus-years I’ve been painting, I have never created a “sad series.” I guess I’d never felt such a heaviness of heart before as when I was planing this new group of four botanical paintings.

But as always happens, the process of putting color onto a blank canvas helped to heal my soul.

The process of diving deep into “the hole” — the place where my mind can focus on dissecting the shapes and colors which make up a painting — is good mental therapy. Unravelling, and then transferring a mess of disjointed pieces onto the canvas is quite an intense brain workout. It is hard thinking with a healthy purpose.

The payoff usually comes about halfway through the process, as order begins to take shape, and the mystery of the dark shapes magically transform into a recognizable form.

Beauty out of chaos.

Creating a new painting also always helps to put the disjointed pieces of my life into perspective. I love this.

The process of painting, never fails to remind me that the God of the universe is at work on the painting of my life. And He really does have a plan for how it will look when it is all finished. A plan that is not always easy to see in the midst of the often seemingly unrelated, individual pieces set before me at the moment.

Coneflower is a reminder to me that even when I am in the midst of what feels to be the darkest of times, I can rest. Even though I may not yet know what the whole picture on will look like in the end, it is definitely a work in progress.

Progress with a purpose. Shadows with a plan.

And even when the shadows sometimes feel as if they are overtaking my world, and the sun will never reappear, my hope comes from knowing that this life here on earth is just the prequel to the perfect story I will live for all of eternity.

No matter how the painting of this life turns out… the best is yet to come.

 

February 2016 Desktop Calendar

But until then… enjoy this free desktop calendar featuring my painting called “Coneflower” for the month of February, 2016 by simply clicking on the image to download and then set as your computer wallpaper.

Be sure to enjoy the extra day at the end of this month too!

To see my entire gallery of colorful paintings, visit my website at www.mariescottstudios.com

“Transition.” A call to listen in 2016.

TransitionBig

TRANSITION • 12 x 12 oil painting • ©2015 Marie Scott

In September of this year, I designed a set of four small botanical oil paintings which I intended to paint as a representation of my current state of mind at the time.

For the first time since I began painting back in 2001, I felt compelled to paint a darker side to life than what I would normally choose to create.

This painting called TRANSITION is one of four pieces in my “Sad Flowers” series.

Ironically, as I began to work on each of the four pieces, I became less and less sad with each passing day.

But what was even more unexpected to me, was that each of the four flowers in this series didn’t really appear to be sad at all. In fact, they appeared to be quite the opposite.

How similar to life. Things are not always as they appear.

This is a good reminder to stop assuming that what you see on the surface is all there is to a situation.

A reminder that just because somebody appears to be happy, doesn’t mean that they might not really be carrying around a heavy bag of burdens, hiding beneath their seemingly cheerful exterior.

As a card-carrying introvert, surface-level small talk quickly drains the life out of me faster than just about anything else can.

In contrast, finding out what is truly weighing on a person’s heart is something that I find energizing. Happy or sad. It doesn’t matter. I just want to know what is really going on. Even if it is depressing, at least it is real.

I am always surprised at how open most people are to answering what may seem like a nosy question.

And then another. And another. Until eventually, they have told me their “story.”

It has been my fortunate experience to learn that people want to be heard. All they usually need is just the slightest nudge. A nudge that can be as simple as asking a follow-up question to something they have already offered up to you.

This painting called Transition started out as a visual depiction of my heart, which was screaming “Leave. Me. Alone.”

But fortunately, as the weeks passed and I made a very deliberate effort to take better care of myself, the ice-layer covering my heart began to melt, and the sadness and anger drained away.

This healing of my soul, was thanks in great part to the people in my life who were OK with me “not being OK.”

People who let me cry. A lot. And often. And very loudly.

People who let me send them texts that simply said “I am in a fit of rage” — knowing they would pray for my troubled heart to calm down. They didn’t need to know the details. Just that I needed Divine Intervention at the moment.

People who I sent a photo of this very painting to, telling them it was called “I Hate Everyone!” And they laughed with me. Not AT me. People who are OK with things not always having to be OK, are people that can help to facilitate emotional healing.

Thanks in part to these special people in my life, I think I can honestly say that my heart is no longer sad nor angry anymore.

It is ready again to accept the challenge of sometimes peeking past the petals that are covering up what’s truly going on, inside the heart of the people who cross my path.

“Transition” is a painting that says “it’s OK, to not be OK.”

There is a certain beauty that only painful situations will ever extract. Transitions can be highly-effective beauty extractors. Assuming you don’t stay hidden away alone, for longer than necessary.

As we TRANSITION from one year into another today, my New Year’s Wish for YOU, is that you would take the time to look past how things seem to appear, to truly Listen in 2016. And to trust the people who love you, with The Real You.

Welcome, 2016!
— Marie Scott

JANUARY 2016 Desktop Calendar

PS If you need a new fresh look for your computer desktop this month, download this free calendar, featuring my painting called “Transition” for the month of January. To see my entire gallery of paintings, visit my website at www.mariescottstudios.com

Gold friends. Silver friends. Make room for both.

The Girl Scouts nailed it on the head.

I learned a deeply profound song back in the 5th grade. During my short-lived, one year career as a Scout.

As music often does, a Girl Scout song my mom taught me in my youth, still comes back to me when my heart is filled with love for one of my old friends.

We learned a song about friendship.

“Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other gold.

A gorgeous view from Caledonia, Wisconsin. Sent to me by one of my oldest and dearest friends.

A gorgeous view from Caledonia, Wisconsin. Sent to me by one of my oldest and dearest friends.

 

A text from my Gold friend.

“I took Bella for a walk yesterday and this view made me think of you.”

That was it. A photo and one sentence.

But that one photo, and one that one sentence were rich with meaning. Rich with almost two decades of history we have together.

The photo told me that she STILL knows what I love. The sentence told me she knows, that I STILL know, what SHE loves.

Seven years, and seven states apart. She still knows me, and still cares.

In the midst of a particularly hard season of life this fall, that one photo and that one sentence lifted my spirits and carried me along for days.

My friend is not old — she is Gold.

Just like me, we are still spring chickens in our early ’30s. (At least in our middle-aged minds.)

And just like a few other special women I have known for my entire adult life, this friend is Gold.

Lucky for me that SHE didn’t stop calling me when I moved away. Lucky for me that she invested time pursuing a person whose proximity to her full, busy life now made this friendship less than convenient.

This is A Golden Lesson about friendship I am slowly learning from her. A lesson I want to pass on.

Even though our visits are too few and too far between, when I meet up again with any of my Gold Friends, it is as though no time as has passed at all.

THAT is Gold.

Thank you Gold Friends; thank you Girl Scouts; thank you Mom. For so many life lessons learned, and shared.

And thank you Silver Friends too — for the possibility of a Golden Friendship as we pass the years, and tears, Together.

Pretty Place Chapel (A peaceful place for December)

pretty place sign

This plaque is located at the entrance to the “Fred W. Symmes Chapel.” 

“May a Sense of The Presence of God
FILL THE SOUL
of Everyone Who Visits this Sacred Spot.”

“Filling the Soul with a sense of God’s presence” is no small order.

Yet somehow it happens at the Chapel located at the YMCA’s Camp Greenville. A spot that is more commonly known as “Pretty Place.”

If you haven’t been to this hidden treasure, located only an hour north of downtown Greenville, South Carolina — it is definitely worth the winding, mountain drive to reach this memorable site.

prettyplacechapel2

“Pretty Place Chapel” • ©2015 Marie Scott • 30″ x 40″ oil painting

Capturing the feeling of peace and serenity found inside the Chapel at Pretty Place, was definitely my biggest artistic challenge to date. This is by far the most detailed structure I have ever attempted to paint. 

My main objective in this work was to create a composition that would help to transport you, for a brief moment in time, to the place of rest found at “This Sacred Spot.” 

To achieve this lofty goal, it was imperative that the internal structure was clean, symmetrical, and believable. Anything less would be a distraction.

Fortunately, I’m married to a structural engineer who helped me make sense of how all the “lines” (of wood) connected to each other. If there were any technical flaws within my composition, your eyes would never be released to look past what was happening inside the building.

Through use of color and placement of angles, I designed this piece to first lead your eyes to the cross, which is the focal point of the Chapel.

Then secondly, my hope was that the endless expanse of sky and mountains beyond the cross would allow your mind and spirit to find rest amidst all the contrasting busyness of the building’s man-made elements.

It is the view BEYOND the chapel which gives way to a feeling that “there is something out there that is much bigger than myself.” The feeling of a Sacred Spot.

Looking back on the process of completing this painting, I have perspective on my struggles as I tried to create a soul-filling visual story of Pretty Place Chapel.

Just as in life…  

Most of my time, effort, and angst were spent focused on what is shown right in front of your eyes. The countless, unending intersecting lines made my eyes cross and my head hurt. 

I was so determined to “get this right” that it wasn’t an even remotely fun project. It was terribly taxing. Over and over again I asked myself “Will this ever turn out? Will it ever be worth all the energy I am pouring into this?”

But when the very last piece of the front story was finally completed, it was only then that I could literally look past (what was once) the turmoil of the demanding foreground, and see into the quiet distance.

The contrast brings relief. 

A foreground full of complex details is what causes the distance to feel so inviting.

I should have read the beam.

Did you notice what is inscribed on the main beam at the front of the Pretty Place Chapel? It says
“I WILL LIFT UP MY EYES TO THE HILLS. PS. 121:1 ”
  

Ironically, (just as in life…) this was one of the very LAST things I painted. 

Maybe one day I will learn to trust first, and do second.

Psalm 121:1-2
Assurance of God’s Protection

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
    from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

A bigger picture…  

It is hard here on earth. Friends are sick. Families are dissolving. Evil seems to be winning. But this is just the front story. A foreground that feels too complicated to deal with most days.

The cares and worries of today’s life can so easily consume our focus, causing us to forget that there is a bigger picture. One we can’t see today. But one that ends with a perfect resolution.  A picture that brings relief. 

The story does not end here.
The verses below remind me that the yuck, muck, and gunk of this world are NOT all that there is. 

A better place is on the way.
God says so.

Revelation 21:1-4 
A New Heaven and a New Earth

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Remember the beam.

If like me, you need a visual reminder that the best is yet to come — just click on my December calendar and download it for use as your computer desktop. May it help your mind focus on the One who offers True Hope for all of the struggles that may cross your path throughout this busy month.

DECEMBER 2015 Desktop Calendar

If you are interested in seeing the photos I took each day while working away on this project, click here to watch a short video of my painting of Pretty Place Chapel. It shows the painting coming to life from start to finish.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are just a few snapshots I took to gain inspiration while visiting the Chapel at Pretty Place.

Wishing you a December in which you focus on what REALLY matters,
Marie Scott

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To see the entire collection of my colorful, peace-filled paintings of landscapes, flowers, and other beautiful things, visit my online gallery at www.mariescottstudios.com

5 years later. 5 years wiser. (Did I actually learn something?)

FishingPier2

FISHING PIER • ©2015 Marie Scott • 30″ x 40″ original oil painting

“Stop trying so hard.” 
“Stop working so hard.”
“Stop trying to prove something.”

Did I Stop?

Looking back over the last five years, I think I actually DID!

Last night we went to an annual event that in years past has caused me much sadness. It was an opening reception for an exhibit of 100+ local artists; an exhibit in which each local artist had a small piece of original art for sale.

While walking to the reception, I commented to Tim that this was the 7th year since moving to Greenville, SC that I’ve been trying to sell my art in this city. Seven years trying to find my place within a local community of artists.

Seven years later, not much has changed. At least on the outside. Practically speaking, that is where I still am — on the outside.

What happened AT the party?

Nothing much. At least on the outside.

We hung around for a while. Looked at some beautiful art. Ate some snacks. (Clarification: Tim ate some snacks. I did not, as I am freakishly grossed out by food that has been spread out on a table to be touched by who-knows-what-kind-of-germy-hands.)

Then arm in arm, walked peacefully back to the car with my favorite date.

What happened AFTER the party?

1.) A huge revelation. A huge change on the inside.

Walking back to the car, while surprisingly NOT in tears, I realized that I might actually be at peace with my place in this city.

Instead of wondering why my beautiful little painting didn’t sell, or why I am not “in with the cool kids,” I simply felt satisfied by the fact that I had had two meaningful conversations with two different people. Conversations with artists that had nothing to do with me. Conversations where I was able to listen to what was on their heart, and the chance to help them feel like they had been heard.

I would never have met these two women if it weren’t for my art.

2.) I didn’t cry. A huge change on the outside.

Instead of performing my whole tear-filled “why don’t I fit into this art scene??” schtick that I like to bring out several times a year, I suggested we stop at Five Guys for french fries. So we did. We ate them. And they were delicious.

A huge question. A huge answer.

This morning, another thought occurred to me, along with an immediate and definitive answer.

Q. What if I had actually fit in, and become one of “the cool kids?”
A. I would have worked myself into the ground.

5 years later. 5 years wiser.

Five years ago I heard a life-changing sermon on the concept of REST called “Two Ditches and True Rest (#257.)” As a result, five years ago I decided to take the 4th Commandment as more than just a suggestion.

Exodus 20:8-11New International Version (NIV)

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

For five years I have been resting on the Sabbath. And it has felt pretty good. Really good. Much better than working all the time, feeling like there was nothing to show for it.

Taking a break is a way to reset my emotional (and physical) clock. When I don’t stop for a day of rest, I get more and more wound-up and the weight of the world descends upon me.

I need to rest every 7th day. Whether I want to or not.

When I walk away with 80% of my list un-done, upon returning from my Sabbath I realize that most of the unfinished goals for the previous week do not have nearly the consequences I feared they would.

Of course, there certainly will be fall-out for choosing to leave things un-done for the sake of rest and sanity. Some of which does NOT feel so good.

I spent three years running a retail store in a small town. Had I been willing to work harder and work longer, it probably could have been profitable one day. But at what cost?

Five years ago it would have seemed worth ANY cost. Today I look back and can see that my choices “to do what was reasonable” were right for me, and right for my family.

A new month.

Tomorrow begins a new month. Why not try taking a Sabbath Rest each week during November? If you choose to make Sunday your “Day of Rest,” you actually get a bonus as there are FIVE Sundays this month!

Why not give it a try? 

A new calendar.

Whether or not you are a Sabbath-taker like me, here is a free computer desktop calendar for you to have for your computer these next 30 days.

FISHING PIER • 30 inch x 40 inch Oil painting • ©2015 Marie Scott Studios [enjoy this free desktop calendar for the month of November. click on the image to download.]

FISHING PIER • 30 inch x 40 inch Oil painting • ©2015 Marie Scott Studios [enjoy this free desktop calendar for the month of November. click on the image to download.]

May this painting called “Fishing Pier” bring you Peace and REST, as you go about your days and weeks during the month of November. (And hoping you will choose not to see it at all during the 5 possible Sabbath days of rest this month!)

Happy to be 5 years wiser this month,
Marie Scott

To see the entire collection of my colorful, peace-filled paintings of water landscapes, sunflowers, and other beautiful things, visit my online gallery at http://www.mariescottstudios.com

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A peaceful, plan-free place. Calendar #60.

LAKE MICHIGAN 8 • ©2006 Marie Scott

LAKE MICHIGAN 8 • 24 inch x 36 inch oil painting • ©2006 Marie Scott

I like TO plan.

In most areas of my life, I like things to be figured out well ahead of time. Then I like to stick with that plan. Carpool plans. High School plans. Retirement plans. ‘What to order at the restaurant two days from now’ plans. ‘What to do with the rest of my life’ plans.

I like A plan.

Sometimes my plans don’t work out.

But that is OK. At least on a good day. On a good day, I can be OK with plans changing.  (If only every day were a good day.)

My new plan-free life.

This month’s calendar was a small step of progress for me. Progress in being OK with a minor plan not working out.

Calendar PLAN A 
I had planned that the October 2015 calendar would feature the current painting I have been working on since August. (Yes, August. I do not know why it is taking so long, other than it is a very hard painting. This was definitely NOT part of my plan. )

The new painting is so very close to being done. I could have rushed to finish it.

But instead of bowing to The Plan, I decided it was more important to let the painting stew for a few more days. In a moment of sanity, it occurred to me that meeting my self-imposed deadline was not worth the sacrifice of what might develop into a powerful painting if given the time to come to life on its own terms.

Calendar PLAN B
Last month I had realized that there was still one remaining painting from my South Carolina series that has not yet made the calendar circuit. So “Fishing Pier” was going to be The Backup Plan for the October calendar.

However, when I went to create this Plan B calendar, I realized it was much too close in composition to the September calendar. Even though it was a “new” painting created several years later, there are some striking similarities I had not noticed before.

I wanted more of a change for my own calendar-viewing-enjoyment, so this time I made the choice to say no to THE PLAN.

Where did that leave me? NO PLAN.

When it came to the calendar that would be on my computer desktop for the next 30 days I now had NO PLAN, but instead of being terrifying it felt nice. I was free. The sky was wide open. It could be ANY painting I felt like. Any one at all.

Without a plan, I was free to ask “what did I feel like looking at?”

My mom is a proud, born and raised, die-hard resident of Wisconsin. When talking with her the other day, it occurred to me that she might possibly be getting tired of seeing only paintings inspired by South Carolina this past year. If my own mother is getting tired of looking at South Carolina month after month, maybe other people who are NOT from — or currently living in — South Carolina may be feeling the same way too.

As I started to think about it, I realized that maybe I too would like a break from South Carolina scenery this month. So with a collection several hundred paintings to choose from at my fingertips, I decide to choose an old painting that is near and dear to my heart.

I choose a painting that brings me peace.

The October calendar features a painting I created back in 2006. It is one of several pieces inspired by the shores of Lake Michigan (thus the clever name “Lake Michigan 8.”)

This is a painting that was created nine years ago, but still gives my troubled mind a feeling of rest when I watch the water lap against the shore.

This is the painting that I look at every night before I fall asleep. It was just the right size for this bedroom. It has just the right feel. A feeling of peace for a more troubled time in my life.

Nine years have passed. A lot has happened in those nine years. A lot has stayed the same.

What else brings me peace in my new plan-free life?

What stayed the same, brings me peace.

Rock-Solid things have not changed. My Faith. The love of my parents. The love of the good man I am married to. The love of friends who know the real me.

These are the things I need to remember more often. These things are more important than a Plan.

When my plan-free place starts to wear me down, there are a few random things that also bring me peace. Brushing my teeth. Vacuuming. Laughing with/at our dog who knows me as “grandma.” These are merely are symptom-maskers, but useful nonetheless. 

Enjoy this peaceful, plan-free place.

A place where the Rock-Solid things in life help you weather whatever unexpected wrench may be thrown into your plans this month. A place where you remember the things in your life that are most important. More important that a Plan.

LAKE MICHIGAN 8 • ©2006 Marie Scott • Download this free calendar and use it on your desktop during the month of October!

LAKE MICHIGAN 8 • ©2006 Marie Scott • Download this free calendar and use it on your desktop during the month of October!

The best thing about this new desktop calendar for October?

No place to write down any Plans! 

Wishing you a peaceful, plan-free month of 31 days..
Marie Scott

To view the entire collection of my colorful oil paintings of peaceful places,
visit my online gallery at www.mariescottstudios.com.

Labor Day 2009: Sandy Sheets for a Greater Good—

I do not like sand in my bed.

I do like crisp clean sheets, multiple throw pillows, and a dust ruffle. All of these items must perfectly coordinate with both with the comforter, and (obviously) with each other.

To make my world complete there should also be an afghan that offers not only a pop of color, but a soft place under which to read an interesting book.

My friends all know this about me.

So in 2009 when I decided that my husband Tim and I should take our 6-year old son camping over Labor Day weekend, I received some shocked reactions. Especially from Tim, who had already known me for almost two decades by then. Two decades in which I never once suggested giving up my bed or my throw pillows. Even for just one night.

I remember that my life-long friend Mary, who is also an ardent lover of crisp, clean sheets (as well as all things practical) found this idea of camping to be incongruous with the friend she knew from Milwaukee. This same surprised reaction seemed to be the general consensus with all those from back home who heard about my idea. My idea to use our son’s new two-person tent for a camping trip that included three people.

I wasn’t trying to shock people.

All I wanted, was to spend Labor Day weekend at “The Beach.” The beach which I had heard so much of since moving to South Carolina in November, 2008.

For most of a year, I listened as various acquaintances would say things like “we’re going to ‘The Beach’ this weekend.” Or proclaiming my girlfriends and I are spending spring break at ‘The Beach’ together with all the kids.” Or yawning, as they stated: “We just got back from a week at ‘The Beach’ and boy are we ever exhausted!'”

“What Beach? Did they all go to the same place? Was this ‘Beach’ really large enough to contain all the people I know who had went there? Didn’t South Carolina have more than one beach? It seemed like they would, as an entire side of the state borders the ocean.” These were all questions that nagged in the back of my mind for months.

Curiousity finally triumphed over the fear of sounding ignorant. So I began to ask the obvious question: “What ‘Beach’ exactly, are you referring to?”

It was as if I had asked what brand of tissues they preferred to use. “Kleenex?” “Puffs?” “Seventh Generation?” “Genuine Joe Facial Tissues? ‘Genuine Joe?’ Who really cares what brand you use? Nobody. It is just what you use to wipe your tears and blow your nose. The kind you always use. Because that is what you’ve always used.

“Which ‘Beach’ did you go to?” was obviously unspoken information, needing no clarification in traditional Southern conversation. After I would drop the “Which Beach?” bombshell, I was always given a polite, yet somewhat perplexed response. Which I then immediately followed up with question two: “Is this your favorite beach?”

Judging from the across-the-board reaction to my Inquiring Minds Want to Know! type interest in their beach preference, it appeared as if this question of favorite beach was something they had never given any thought to. It was just their family’s Kleenex beach.

It pays to ask questions.

Thanks to my inquisitive nature, and fearless questioning that spanned many months — I pieced together that there are MANY beaches inside the walls of South Carolina, each with distinct personalities.

I also discovered  that some of these beaches were located inside State Parks which offered camping along the water.

By WATER I mean Ocean. And by OCEAN, I mean the place we used to spend hours flying to, leaving the Northern comforts of our first world country only to be stacked like sardines inside a mediocre hotel with a distant view of the ocean (or sometimes parking lot.) All to be warm. But even more importantly, to sleep near the water.

This was game-changing information. Information I accidentally stumbled upon while looking at the South Carolina Parks website.

“Seriously? You can camp right beside ‘The Beach’?? The same beach that is touching the Atlantic Ocean?”

These were questions I spoke out loud with an open-mouthed reverence to my iMac computer. (The iMac G4 that sat on a round base, and had a 17″ screen that swiveled 180 degrees and went up and down on a long silver arm. The same iMac G4 that is sitting in a box in my attic because it is way too cool to part with.)

I’m obviously not from here.

Looking back, none of these beach-vacationing acquaintances were visiting “The Beach” in a two-person tent with three people. They were staying in condos, or beach homes. Usually ones that had been in their families for a while. That was great for them, but didn’t help me out at all.

My family lives in a state called Wisconsin. A state much closer to Canada than Florida, so going to “The Beach” was not part of our family history. But on the very rare occasion that somebody we did know went South, they were always sure to boast of exactly where it was they were going. “We are going to Disney!” “We are going to Sanibel Island!” “We are going to Clearwater Beach!” “We are going to Sarasota!” This was big news. This was something special.

They wanted us to know exactly where they were going. And we all wanted to know. That way we could live vicariously through them while they were gone, already knowing and appreciating the origin of their newly darkened complexion upon their return home to the North.

My history with camping.

Camping actually was part of my childhood, but it was mostly at my grandparents trailer which stayed at one location all year long. This “camping” happened at the trailer which they drove to every Friday afternoon and drove home from every Sunday afternoon. All summer long. For decades. Upgrading their experience as the years flew by.

By the time I joined their fun, I’m not sure it could truthfully be classified as “camping” anymore. It was simply spending the weekend with my grandparents at their nice outdoor home on wheels which included a TV, shower, and full kitchen. It also included a shed that housed both a lawn mower and a full-sized refrigerator stocked with a wide assortment of drinks and delicious foods.

By this stage in their lives, the camping trailer had an attached screened porch which was lined outside by a bed of lush flowers that my grandma planted every Memorial Day weekend each year. In the screen porch, I would eat the scrambled eggs and shrimp salad my grandma would make for me in her kitchen on these “camping” weekends. In the screen porch, I could enjoy the beauty of the outdoors yet stay clean and bug-free.

In the screen porch, I had yet another space in my childhood to rest in unconditional love. A place to soften the transition into my early teenage years. A priceless gift that allowed me the freedom to become the free spirit I am today. Camping with my grandparents allowed me a place to breathe. A place to get away from whatever it is that pre-teens are burdened with. A place to be loved and nurtured for who I was, not for what I did.

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Camping is where I fell in love with South Carolina.

If it weren’t for the two-person tent we had given Nathan for his 6th birthday, I may have never been to some of the magical places we’ve found along the coast of South Carolina. Places that weren’t brought up in the same context of “The Beach” I first heard about back in 2009. Places without hotels. Places that allowed camping on the edge of the continent.

Over the next several years we camped at two of the most enchanting places I have ever been: Edisto Beach State Park and Hunting Island State Park. Some of my favorite beach paintings are ones that were inspired by visits to both of these two State Parks.

Our two-person tent weekend for three was where I became fascinated by South Carolina’s beauty. An intangible beauty I still never grow tired of trying to emulate through my paintings of places which have caught my artist’s eye. Our two-person tent weekend was the beginning of a whole new genre of landscape paintings which I continue to work on, even to this day.

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I’m still not much for “real” camping.

What I am for, is the way the salty air and wide open spaces of the Low Country have a way of breathing life back into my often weary mind and tired body. What I am also for, is the way that camping takes you away from everything in your real life that seemed so pressing and important before you left home. Things that can wait. Things you won’t even remember when you look back five or six years later at your camping photos. Wondering what stole away all those in-between years from me?

Why did we ever stop camping?

My first store opened up in the fall of 2012 and there was no time left over for fun. No margin in my life which could allow me the ability to overlook sleeping with sand. No margin to step outside of life’s comforts for the greater good of myself and my family. This is not a healthy way to live. Which is why I stopped doing something which people said they loved. Something I was pretty good at too.

Even though I knew how to make a store look really beautiful, it was not what I loved. Or needed. Or what my family needed. I am still trying to listen to what my next steps are, but am confident they must include something which allows for more mental space in my life. Something that energizes me enough so I can embrace opportunities that require sandy sheets for a greater good.

Labor Day 2015

My store is closed and my brain is unwinding. After three years of distraction, I am free again to explore South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Free to be spellbound by her loveliness; mesmerized by her glimmering marshes and lulled by her gentle waves.

Despite my steadfast Lowcountry fascination, I’m still not yet quite ready to be sleeping with sand in my sheets. But now that my head and my heart are slowly beginning to defrost, I can start to feel the itch for adventure returning.

SEPTEMBER 2015 Desktop Calendar

SALT MARSH PATH • ©2010 Marie Scott Studios [ Click on this image to download and use a free desktop calendar for the month of September. Enjoy your view of Edisto Beach State Park! ]

September 2015

Everyone can benefit from a new view from time to time. If you haven’t seen my downloadable monthly calendars yet, here is the most recent addition to my desktop calendar collection — September, 2015.

So if you like the view from Edisto Beach State Parkenjoy this copy of my Lowcountry painting called “Salt Marsh Path” with my blessing.

May it remind you this month, that stepping outside of your comfort zone will sometimes open up a whole new world of wonder. (Just be careful not to step out too far. You may find yourself stepping off the edge of the continent.)

With a defrosting heart,
Marie Scott

www.mariescottstudios.com

Jumping off the Hamster Wheel

Snapshots from my reentry into sanity, as three years of retail frenzy comes to an end…

Today is Day 25 since we closed up my store. What seemed like a straightforward idea, has actually turned out to be much cloudier than I would ever have imagined.

I don’t think I realized how wound up I actually was. Or how out of whack my life had become.
I did not expect that Jumping off the Hamster Wheel would create such a big bruise when I finally landed.

As I acclimate myself to a new climate of tranquility, several moments have confirmed to me that I might actually like living on solid ground.

Here are a few photos that capture my recent “Aha moments.”

welcome to tN

Aha Moment #1 at the Tennessee Border: “Hey…this is all so very beautiful. I need to take a photo of these flowers!”

Driving to DC with my two homeboys. August 8 – 15, 2015 was the first weeklong sightseeing vacation the three of us have ever taken together. Without so many mental burdens weighing me down, my brain had time to notice again, and my eyes were captivated by this beautiful planter of flowers set in front of the rolling mountains. Thank you, Tennessee for the warm welcome at your lovely rest area.

succulent

Aha Moment #2: “Why is there STILL a dead plant in this jar when I have the power to make a simple change that will improve the looks of the situation?”

Spending ten minutes selecting the “perfect” new succulent. Over the past few years there were times when this jar flourished, but in the last six months it was sorely neglected. Last week it occurred to me that I did not need to have a dead plant in my house. So during my next visit to the store, I went to the garden center and spent what felt like a LONG time pondering which plant would be the MOST perfect for my jar. I doubt it was more than ten minutes, but still — it felt quite extravagant to give this minor home-improvement-initiative so much of my time.

Once the “big decision” was made, it only took about two minutes to remove the dead plant and insert the new. Every day since, I’ve been happy I took time to make this simple change. It was time well spent. For both the plant AND me.

lemon oil

Aha Moment #3: “Look at the sun shining through the cloud of steam. I love how the dark shadows allow me to see something I would never otherwise notice.”

Breathing in… and breathing out… has never smelled so good. Did you know it only takes about 25 seconds to make your kitchen smell like lemons? [Or peppermints, or even lemons/peppermints. For an entire EIGHT hours.] Who would have thought? Thank you, DoTERRA! I love all of your essential oils,and especially love your  “Aroma Lite Diffuser.” 

Thank you, Sunshine for filtering into my kitchen every afternoon, helping to brighten my spirits when my heart feels cloudy.

umbrella

Aha Moment #4: “I have a lot to be thankful for — I love my umbrella. I love the rain. I love the sun casting reflections into puddles. I love NOT driving through a monsoon.”

Waiting for the rain to pass. Who does this? A person who does NOT have a store does this! aka ME. 🙂 

I went INTO Publix as a sprinkle of rain had just begun. I then came OUT of Publix, only 15 minutes later, to find a Monsoon had descended from the mountaintop.

After my moment of unhappy surprise slowly passed over, it occurred to me that I could actually stay and wait for the real storm to pass over too. So I did. My best moments of that day were spent watching the rain blow sideways from under the safety of a dry awning.

I even made a few friends who also did not want to drive through a Monsoon. And then by the time I got home — the sun was out again. A good day.

2 new paintings

Aha Moment #5″ (AFTER I had spent the day drawing these photos onto the two canvasses in the background): “Hey… look how the compositions of these two paintings will be similar, yet in complete contrast to each other! The photo on the left has an upper and lower triangle that meet in the middle and form two opposing vertical triangles. The photo on the right has side two triangles that converge in the middle and form a horizontal diamond. How cool is that! Serendipity… or possibly Intuition?”

Fighting an uphill battle to ignore distractions. No wonder I moved out of my home studio four years ago! Without any pressing deadlines, it is oh-so-temping to do everything besides work on these two paintings I started last week.

Oh well. At least for now, my house is feeling back in order and becoming a beautiful place. No sense in torturing myself over self-imposed random deadlines. At least not this month, as I work towards Staying OFF the Hamster Wheel. (September might be another story.)

roost

Aha Moment #6: “I need a photo of this funky sign. A photo to remind me of the delightful patio lunch I just spent with my favorite person in the entire world. How exceedingly lucky I am to be married to Tim. Very, very lucky.”

Putting things into perspective; celebrating 22 years of a happy life. Together.

“…Along the way, we found happiness we never knew existed. We saw hopes and dreams come true…”  — from the card I gave my husband on our 22nd anniversary last Friday.

When choosing the card, as I read about “dreams coming true,” I burst into tears that filled the Walgreens aisle. Initial tears of sadness for a dream that had ended. But within seconds, they turned into tears of overwhelming gratitude.

Tim and I have been participants in countless hopes and dreams which HAVE come true. And we’ve also seen other dreams NOT pan out. But regardless of either outcome we’ve done it Together, and have stayed in it Together. In spite of our sinful, selfish, wicked hearts — we have somehow managed to not only still love each other, we still LIKE each other.

This is God’s unmerited blessing upon our lives.

Of all the hopes and dreams I’ve ever had, or ever will have, Our Happy Life Together is by far my MOST important dream come true above all.

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For now, as I sift through the sometimes cloudy next steps of my artist’s life, I am thankful for a faithful partner to help me sort it all out.

Stay tuned as our story continues to reveal itself.

With a thankful heart,
Marie Scott

www.mariescottstudios.com