Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Dunce and her Seven Devils

A Dunce and her Seven Devils
oil on panel 

The dunce cap carries an iconographic visual of the naughty kid in the corner of the classroom, being ostracized for misbehavior. He may be the class clown, he may have received poor marks on his homework - either way he's wearing the consequences bright and tall for everyone to see. I identify with the dunce cap wearer in my moments of feeling like a failure. It's for when I get a super self-depreciating case of the not-enoughses. Like when I feel I am not organized enough, I don't work hard enough, I'm not smart enough, I'm not vegan enough, I'm not trim enough, I'm not nurturing enough, I'm not kind enough, I'm not blah blah blah....
In twelfth century Scotland there was a very influential philosopher-theologian named John Duns Scotus. He taught at Oxford University and had a practice of constructing a paper cone to place on the head of the poorest academic student to stimulate his brain, like a "thinking cap" funneling light and energy into his mind. There were periods in history when some theologians disagreed with his ideas and would call one "dunce" as an insult to their intelligence, and so the dunce cap took on a negative connotation. 
What we may see as a punishing, humiliating disgrace was actually intended to be a tool for our betterment. Like using our weaknesses for self-improvement, to learn and grow. And beyond that, to develop compassion and humility. What a wonderful idea to look at our faults as potential, a positive tweak on perception.
Mary is wearing her dunce cap and has seven devils tangled in her hair. The question I propose is: Where does our self-doubt and our feelings of not-enoughses come from?  And what will you do about it?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Martha and Mary

Martha and Mary24"x42"
oil on panel

"Martha, Martha..." Jesus' gentle reprimand on a warm day in Bethany is given not because Martha is doing something wrong, busying herself with their temporal thirsts. Still, the Lord entices her to consider a better part. Like the woman at Jacob's well, Mary is thirsting for the living water. Asking with her outstretched hand, she beckons the Lord to fill her cup with eternal truth, with spiritual nourishment, peace, joy, and everlasting life. With only the asking, an abundant stream of the love of God will flow beyond her capacity to receive. 
We all have to choose, every day, between many worthy options, that which matters most. There is so much to be "careful and troubled" about. When we choose to give Him all of our hearts, like Martha and Mary, we will find the needful things. This is what our Savior wants of us: to seek out the living water throughout our lifetime; to listen, learn, love and serve, until we come to know the voice of God with a humble familiarity. 

This is my submission to the 10th International Art Competition by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church History Museum.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Curiouser and Curiouser

It has been an honor and a privilege to exhibit my paintings alongside my dad and my sister at the Springville Museum of Art. Wandering the many rooms of this retrospective sum of paintings is a visual feast. The museum curators have outdone themselves with informative cards, hands-on crafts, and a thematically arrangement of the art laced with readable treats.
Two of the walls are dedicated to a family tree with my parents at the base and each of their five children branching off with grandkids and great-grandkids following. We put all our names in a hat a drew each other, proclaimed artists and proclaimed artistically challenged alike, and made the portraits for the tree.
In an interactive room you can make flowers to throw at the feet of one of Cass' paintings. And, she made a huge a fun flannel board with all sorts of hand-made figures and pieces, as only her wild creativity can conjure, to create a scene or a story. Belatedly, I have a shadow puppet theater with scripts and puppets to perform your own puppet show!
A room of curiosities has cabinets, stands, and walls saturated with interesting objects from our studios and things that we have made with our hands. We provided a key to help navigate through the stuff.
Don't forget to stop by the gift shop. We've got some good stuff in there. From one dollar post cards to magnets, to prints, lithos, and even some original drawings.
Planning sesh. We worked hard for this wonderful show. I was blown away and overcome with emotion on the opening night. I love my family and I'm one lucky little girl.

Monday, January 13, 2014

What would you do?

What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?
7"x6" oil on panel 
Send a ribbon in one ear and pull it out the other. Hammers fly, stamping out a sentence. The anticipation feels like cracking open a fortune cookie, only the message will be authentic. She might be revealing secrets or making tangible her raw thoughts in glorious honesty. Today she is declaring a mantra. What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? She is pretty determined to do it. To name those things, then do them - no matter what. No thought to what she might be embarrassed to admit she hasn't done. No confession of fears. Just determination. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Heron

The Heron, 2013
Oil on panel, 12×9 in
 A Heron went wading one early morning to take his breakfast from the shallows of a stream. There were many Fish in the water, but the stately Heron thought he could find better. "Such small fry is certainly not suitable fare for a Heron," he remarked to himself.
And as a choice young Perch swam by, the Heron tipped his long bill in the air and snapped, "No, sir, I certainly wouldn't open my beak for that!"
The sun grew higher and all the Fish left the shallows for the cool, deep, middle of the stream. When the Heron could find no trace of a Fish left in the stream, he was very grateful to finally break his fast on a mere snail.
Aesop's Fables always have a moral. The story of The Heron illustrates that one aught not be too hard to suit or may have to settle for crap, or worse for nothing at all. This idea is kind of like waiting for the perfect blog post to appear. Poignant and informative, dashed out in a spot somewhere between a poopy diaper, unschooling madness and little hungry mouths.
Admittedly, this may not be what the writer of the the perch-passing Heron had in mind, but certainly what is on my mind. It's a new year, a fresh start. A time to make goals and think about words like Legacy and Soul Proprietor. When the Springville Museum curators wrote informative cards to educate the viewer on my paintings in our (my dad, my sister, and my) spectacular show , their main resource was my blog. My past trail of imperfect compositions, attempting to enlighten you, my viewer, as to the meaning of my art. These blog posts, writing about my art, has value now and in the future.
Speaking of Legacy, when my Opera Omnia (complete works) is published, I will need many words to fill it's pages. These are them words. Blog on little em.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Unconditional Devotion

Unconditional Devotion
oil on panel

“I see you have bunny ears growing out of your head. It’s strange...but, ok by me.” 

“You’re heart is exposed and aflame. Passionate and Vulnerable. I like it.” 

A friendship with unconditional devotion accepts who we are as we are. Little children are so good at this. They love discovering what is different about each other without passing judgement. Without deeming our particular, or peculiar, traits as good or bad.

If we could all be so devoted to our friendships, dispensing acceptance not assessments. If we saw our individual uniqueness as a cause to celebrate, not criticize. Would we be more willing to follow our own path and learn more fully the lessons life has to teach us? Could we gain more from each other and find harmony and beauty all around as we are encircled in love?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Running Epiphany

Saturday morning I ran twelve miles in an hour and forty-six minutes, which means two inevitable things: one, recovering from a week long sinus guck, a whole lot of farmer blowing; and two, expansive thinking time. As I cleared the space in my head in one way, I filled it to bursting in another.  And, thus, I came up with a running epiphany. Let’s see if I can articulate. 

When I describe bringing to fruition my “Old Rinkrank” show last October I often express how hard I had to work to make it happen. How hard? So hard, daily sweat and tears hard. So, around mile five, after a little snack and throwing back a coconut water, I asked myself, what do I mean by this? The paintings were so enjoyable to paint and the images came so easily, why do I keep saying it was hard? By mile seven I had formulated an answer. 

As a true blue, dyed in the wool, card-carrying, devoted and committed introvert, I need space and quiet. Eons of it. I need long runs, I need reading and slow writing time, and I need sitting in my studio alone time. In other words, thinking time. When I say painting twelve paintings on a theme for one specific due date stretched me, it was not my creativity or effort towards the work that was stretched. I was just a couple sprinted miles into a vast abyss of concepts and creation when I had to slow down and call it the finish line. 

The grand effort was spent on clearing away the varied stimuli and obstacles competing for the space in my head. This is a really hard thing to do these days. I have four beautiful children. They like to eat, I like to feed them healthy food. They have school, homework, dirty clothes they don’t want to keep wearing, birthday parties, piano lessons, ballet, soccer, chorus... so on and on. I am a wife. I am an active Mormon. All of these wonderful roles and chores vie for my attention and thinking space.

The epiphany. I need to paint about being a mother. Because so much of my brain is being occupied and stimulated by thoughts and interactions with my kids already, I could use those ideas as fodder to feed my creative process instead of hurdles to jump over to stay on my thought-process-track. If you’re thinking I do that already, I guess you’re right. I did a series with aprons as a symbol of that role. And I call my blog Tenderness and Toil, that’s about being a mother. I guess the epiphany is more about not fighting it; instead letting my whole life live in harmony and making an effort to allow differing aspects to feed each other before they clash. I still have to carve out work time and demand thinking space, reduce my stimuli etc., but I think I can also be clever about tapping into emotions of the tender sort and finding the beauty in the toilly bits.

Mile eight and nine had my head spinning with ideas for paintings and avenues this idea could take me down.  After that I wished I had worn a hat because the sun was up and in my eyes and my thoughts were on another topic. I’m super excited to get to work.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I LOVE giving things away!  This one has some rules:

1. You have to be at my show to collect your prize.*
2. You must have a shoe size of 38 european (7/8).

Ok, that's all.  Make a sweet comment and you are in the drawing.  Sorry if you are far away, I'll make it up to you some day soon.

*David Ericson Gallery
418 S. 200 W.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Opening Reception
Friday, October 19, 2012
6-9 pm

Old Rinkrank Decoded

The Glass Mountain

This is a list of symbols and their meaning used in my Old Rinkrank series of paintings:
  • Yellow represents youth and innocence and unhindered hope as found in our heroine's dress at the start of her journey and again in the ribbon used to release Old Rinkrank's beard from the window.
  • The Glass Mountain is our perceived hopes and dreams.
  • Old Rinkrank symbolizes fear that holds us captive, preventing our potential greatness.
  • Red, whether fully exposed or covered and protected by sweaters or armor, is for vulnerability.
  • Dishes and Beds represent the everyday things that busily keeping us from progressing.
  • Gray and sweaters are for pondering; quiet on the outside while actively engaged in our inner landscape.
  • The Ladder is a tool to work our way out of a fix, to get us back on our mountains.
  • Armor is for determination, protection, and strength.
  • The Landscape is stylized as a tribute to Arthur Rackham, illustrator of the Brother's Grimm and other fairy tales and stories.
When she was at the top she opened the window
oil on panel

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I Have Washed your Dishes, I Have Made your Bed

I Have Washed your Dishes, 
I have Made your Bed
oil on panel

How do you transcend your everyday norm to achieve the extraordinary?  The tale of Old Rinkrank is a parable that illustrates a method to overcome the failures and hinderances on your path of progression.

Before she had even recovered from her fall off of the glass mountain whose summit held the best of hopes and dreams she could imagine, Old Rinkrank found the princess and offered to let her keep house for him in exchange for preserving her life.  For years she remained in his house, washed his dishes, made his bed, and began to grow old.  Till that apocalyptic day when she locked all the doors and refused to let Old Rinkrank in.

Do you have an Old Rinkrank?  The thing that kept you from dusting yourself off after a fall and climbing back up the mountain.  Something that held you in place, going about your everyday motions long enough that you almost forgot your goals, hopes, desired outcomes.  I think Old Rinkrank is fear.  Fear of failure, afraid that you'll get your hopes up so high that the disappointment of the fall will hurt too much.  Fear of success, what if you get there after blood, sweat and tears and it's not all that great.

My favorite lesson I have learned from pondering on this tale is that it is not the pinnacle of the mountain where efforts come to fruition.  For one thing, the mountain peak I set my sights on years ago is anywhere from a hardly significant stepping stone on the way to a bigger better summit,  to an irrelevant hill I passed by on my true path.  The essence of progression is consumed from the wild berries gathered along the trail as you hike.  Berry by berry, step by step, small and simple is what brings you to a state of the extraordinary.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mother Mansrot

Mother Mansrot
oil on panel

Every morning my three girls and I meet on our back patio for fifteen minutes of yoga. I like to provide a visualization to take with us as we go about our day. A recurring theme is to internalize a breeze or imagine a river that will carry us from one task to the next, never stagnant, always flowing, all day long. This means physically moving the body with fluid energy through their doings, also keeping thoughts flowing and evolving from one idea to the next.

In Mother Mansrot our figure may be sitting absolutely still, but there is a river raging through her head. Her thoughts are churning and moving. This piece represents one of the most poignant moments in the Old Rinkrank tale. As Brothers Grimm tales often do, the story makes a jump without inner dialogue or explanation. After years of being held captive by Old Rinkrank, and doing his work day in and day out...”Then once when he was out, and she had made his bed and washed his dishes, she shut the doors and windows all fast, and there was one little window through which the light shone in, and this she left open.” After this she makes her big escape. Life’s path can be drastically changed in just a brief moment, with just a small bit of action. What is the prelude to a moment like this?

Sunday, September 16, 2012


On this Sabbath day, may your burdens be light and your soul filled with comfort and peace.

Miniature for Howard Mandville Gallery's Small Works Show in Kirkland, Washington. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Old Rinkrank

Old Rinkrank is a story in the Brothers Grimm collection of folk tales.  Some time last year I read it and could not get Old Rinkrank and Mother Mansrot out of my head.  Images have appeared in many a drawing and project, and have eventually found their way onto paintings.  My invitation to be in a show with my friend Jeff Pugh at David Ericson Fine Art gallery in Salt Lake City proved to be the ideal forum to delve in and unravel my obsession with this tale.  My paintings, explanations of interpretation and symbolism will follow.

Old Rinkrank:
There was once upon a time a king who had a daughter,
and he caused a glass mountain to be made, and said that
whosoever could cross to the other side of it without falling
should have his daughter to wife. Then there was one who loved
the king's daughter, and he asked the king if he might have her.
"Yes," said the king, "if you can cross the mountain without falling,
you shall have her."  And the princess said she would go over it
with him, and would hold him if he were about to fall. 
So they set out together to go over it, and when they were half way up the
princess slipped and fell, and the glass mountain opened and shut
her up inside it, and her betrothed could not see where she had
gone, for the mountain closed immediately. Then he wept and
lamented much, and the king was miserable too, and had the
mountain broken open where she had been lost, and thought
he would be able to get her out again, but they could not find the place
into which she had fallen. 
Meanwhile the king's daughter had fallen quite deep down into
the earth into a great cave. An old fellow with a very long gray
beard came to meet her, and told her that if she would be his
servant and do everything he bade her, she might live, if not
he would kill her. So she did all he bade her. In the mornings
he took his ladder out of his pocket, and set it up against the
mountain and climbed to the top by its help, and then he drew up the
ladder after him. The princess had to cook his dinner, make his
bed, and do all his work, and when he came home again he always
brought with him a heap of gold and silver. When she had lived
with him for many years, and had grown quite old, he called her
Mother Mansrot, and she had to call him Old Rinkrank. Then once
when he was out, and she had made his bed and washed his dishes,
she shut the doors and windows all fast, and there was one little
window through which the light shone in, and this she left open. 
When Old Rinkrank came home, he knocked at his door, and cried,
"Mother Mansrot, open the door for me."  "No," said she, "Old Rinkrank,
I will not open the door for you." Then said he,
"Here stand I, poor Rinkrank, on my seventeen long shanks, on my weary, worn-out foot, wash my dishes, Mother Mansrot."
"I have washed your dishes already," said she. Then again he said,
"Here stand I, poor Rinkrank, on my seventeen long shanks, on my weary, worn-out foot, make me my bed, Mother Mansrot."
"I have made your bed already," said she. Then again he said,
"Here stand I, poor rinkrank, on my seventeen long shanks,
on my weary, worn-out foot, open the door, Mother Mansrot
Then he ran all round his house, and saw that the little window
was open, and thought, "I will look in and see what she can be about,
and why she will not open the door for me."  He tried to peep in,
but could not get his head through because of his long beard.
So he first put his beard through the open window, but just as he
had got it through, mother mansrot came by and pulled the window
down with a cord which she had tied to it, and his beard was shut
fast in it. Then he began to cry most piteously, for it hurt
him very much, and to entreat her to release him again. But she
said not until he gave her the ladder with which he ascended the
mountain. Then, whether he would or not, he had to tell her where
the ladder was. And she fastened a very long ribbon to the
window, and then she set up the ladder, and ascended the
mountain, and when she was at the top of it she opened the
She went to her father, and told him all that had
happened to her. The king rejoiced greatly, and her betrothed
was still there, and they went and dug up the mountain, and found
old rinkrank inside it with all his gold and silver. Then the
king had old rinkrank put to death, and took all his gold and
silver. The princess married her betrothed, and lived right
happily in great magnificence and joy.

Instagram Ate My Blog

Wow, it's been a while.  I assure you I am alive and well.  More importantly, painting like a mad woman.  I have had the intention of playing catch-up, but would be entirely too much work.  Summer?  I don't even remember it, except it was lots of fun.

Summer 2012

You know what is a lot easier than assembling a blog post?  Instagram.  My handle is ecmcphie if you want to follow.  I have been keeping up regularly, maybe a little heavy on the small people, but I also post painting progressions as I work on various paintings.  I love watching how different artists go about their work. I am trying to show my process from start to finish.  I am working on a dozen paintings for a show at David Ericson Fine Art in Salt Lake City on 19 October.

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Paintings

Everywhere that Mary went, her lamb was sure to go.

Little Miss Muffet

These two new paintings were just delivered to Meyer Gallery in Park City.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

What I've Missed

Summer break had gotten me behind.  Truth is I'm having too much fun.  Before I get into that, here are a few things I missed:

I was interviewed via webcam (I tried to take on a news anchor persona, it felt like I was playing pretend) for snippets on an interactive website for the LDS Youth Art Competition.  It is a really neat website that gives inspiration and guidance on producing an artwork to submit to the show.  This is where I had intended to urge you to send your youth to the link and give it a go!  Unfortunately, the deadline has passed, the show has been judged, so it's too little too late.  Anyhoo, if you wish to see yours truely and a few other artists give their thoughts on symbolism, meaning, process and other interesting tidbits, go ahead and explore! It's super neat.

Next, the annual 300 Plates fundraiser at Art Access Gallery in SLC has come and gone, but here are the plates I sent off to the show.  They are a continuation on the theme of the Brothers Grimm tale, Old Rinkrank (or the Glass Mountain).  I can't seem to let it go, more on my interpretation of the tale in a future post, as I am starting a body of work for a show this fall which will have a few pieces on the theme, along with other tales.

Last but not least, I made a quick trip up to Utah for the opening of the LDS International Art Competition to receive a purchase award.  I felt so honored and it was a wonderful night.  I had a lot to say on the subject, but I forgot what that was...  If you are in Salt Lake stop by the Church History Museum and check out this great show.  (Make sure you cast of vote my way for the people's choice award while you are there!) 
My painting is in the lobby just to your right as you walk in. This is me and my lovely sisters at the Assembly Hall on Temple square just after the awards.

And this is my cute boy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Two Travelers /Painting Progression

The Two Travelers will be on display in the Springville Museum of Art from now till the first of July.  It was accepted into the 88th Annual Spring Salon. 

I am really smitten with the Brothers Grimm tales.  I love the "moral of the story" derived by the pecking out of eyes and other gruesome atrocities for the wicked versus happily ever after for the virtuous.  When I read these tales I often read them like a parable, looking for the desirable qualities of character and likening them to my self.  The habit of a bible-reading christian, I guess.
The Two Travelers is a tale about karma.  A tale that shows how what is in your heart leads to your actions and determines your fate.  I turned the two characters, a tailor and a shoemaker, into two sides of self.  Don't we all live with the conflicting qualities of jealousy and generosity, of compassion and greed, of honesty and denial inside our hearts and heads?  The question is which side will you favor.  Though the shoemaker did take one of the tailor's eyes out with his little knife, the eyepatch is there to symbolize introspection, searching out what lies in your heart.  Wickedness, which never was happiness, is a lonely place.  In contrast, goodness connects you to others who buoy you up with love and energy.  I like this painting.  It's one of my favorites.

As I painted the Two Travelers, I snapped pictures with my phone for tweeting purposes.  They aren't great pictures, and they are all taken at different times of day, so the lighting and temperature changes.  Despite imperfections, I love watching a painting progression, so I made a little movie/slideshow for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sunday Drawings/Flannel Board Fever

It's the year of the flannel board.  Between Pete's Christmas gift (a flannel board with nativity pieces) and Cass' piece in the 9th International Art Competition, I have flannel board fever.  So, General Conference had me drawing our first flannel board story.  We just finished reading the Book of Mormon as a family (whoop whoop) and are about to start again, so we are telling the story of Moroni, then leading into the first vision.
Process: I took a big piece of flannel, fused it (wonder under) with a pice of muslin, gessoed, drew with pencil, colored with colored pencils, cut out the pieces, and it's story time.  Next time I should let the kids help... 

I'm thinking of starting a flannel story exchange.  Any takers?  

Spring Break is over.  I sent my sweet babies back to school after 17 days of togetherness.  It was hard to let them go, but we had lots of fun while they were home.  Here is what we have to show for it. 

This used to be a CD shelf in Gavin's office. I spray painted it turquoise.  Then, together, we drew and painted on the back panel.  Now it resides in the studio and holds art supplies, of course!  

We also mod podged these little clip boards for the car.  One must not be too far from drawing supplies at any given moment.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Lines are having a Party

Once upon a time, the Lines kids let me take some very serious pictures of them.  Mr. and Mrs. Lines asked me to paint their children however I wanted.  Magic words.  The painting was finished and the frame arrived at six p.m. on Valentine's day.  So, I called Mr. Lines on the sly and he surprised Mrs. Lines that very night with a party portrait of their beloveds.  Such romance.  I hope she liked it. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day

Oh yes I did.
A pie on Pi Day.
It's raw, it's delicious, it's lemon.
The recipe was a super find on Pinterest.
I used lemons from my sweet friend's lemon tree.
I love Pinterest, and this pie, but I love my friend way more.