With a little help from my friends…

Matisse Woman with a Hat; Diebenkorn Seated Figure with Hat

A recent visit to San Francisco’s MOMA for the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibition and the purchase of a book on Matisse spurred me on to drag out my seldom used oil paints and create something myself. I do not consider myself an oil painter, perhaps more of a wanna be. A few paintings here and there over the years. So this is more about the inspiration to try something creative at any age than an expression of a true artist.

Vincent van Gogh Bedroom at Arles

Henri Matisse Interior at Collioure

I was inspired particularly by Matisse’s Interior at Collioure and also by Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles (Musee D’Orsay), a print of which hangs in my bedroom.

Karen Stephen Flamingo Dream

As my painting evolved, I found myself wanting to portray the sleeping girl as a child who has lost her dream of being a ballerina to a malady that requires her to wear a leg brace. But the common artistic device of showing the exterior through an open window, common in Matisse’s day, allowed me to bring a different world view to the sleeping child. There stands a beautiful pink flamingo in it’s natural pink tutu, standing proud and free on one leg, bringing her a message of wholeness no matter what our circumstances.

Paris miniatures, Renoir’s Dance in the City, photo of original oil created by Carol Quinn from photo I took of Albert Pub in London 2009

I’ve placed it near some of my other favorites in my living room.

An ode to my alter ego by Doc Flamingo

flamingo_closeup_peeping_md_clr__stperfectly balanced
knobby-kneed leg tucked under
a fountain of pink fluff
bold black beak
ending in scimitar curve

2014-01-20 10.18.52instantly recognizable in any form
elegant
comic
tropical
plastic
neon

shall I compare me to thee
deserve I your name?
“doc” is well earned
“flamingo” perhaps
misappropriated

flying namibiado you scoff at my timidity
compared to your bravado
soaring en masse over wetlands
in the Carmarque or Namibia
or regally planted on lawns
dignity never lost
never needed

do I draw the same admiring looks
spark the same smiles
or do I swim listless in a sea of
beige humanity

Maddux Flamingos do I catch the collector’s eye
as you do
alive with form and color
or do the connoisseurs pass on by
leaving me to gather dust
on a nameless shelf
cluttered with equally
non-distinguished folk

would I keep your sense of humor
if caricatured in pastel hues?
or would I bristle
with high and haughty hubris

even faded and forgotten
in the aftermath of some raucous party
you remain an icon of delight
absent the rage I would feel
to be so ill-used

flamingo_sunglasses_drink_md_clr__stbut I stubbornly keep your name
and hope you will forgive
your pink passion gives off
a secondary glow
making me into what
I aspire to be
I can always hope for reincarnation
as the real thing
in my next life

A flamingo Christmas

Amid these troubled times, I found my spirits lifted as our family’s traditional Christmas decorations went up on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Sharing a home this year with my daughter, son-in-law, and two little granddaughters made it a gala event. Sadly, five hours of unpacking boxes and decking the halls did little to counteract the excesses of turkey day since the leftovers were brought out midway. But out came the family collection of ornaments, each with its own particular history. And only one glass bauble hit the deck and cut one little bare toe.

Paris is remembered, unicorns displayed, and favorite handmade ornaments are unveiled once more, grouped in clusters by little helpers.

IMG_1194IMG_1195

The Buddy L train with real steam coming out of its smokestack is patiently brought to life by my son-in-law and hides behind the tree out of reach of toddler hands. IMG_1196

The little ones help Mimi (moi!) reconstruct the Dickens Village and delight again to the miniature ice skaters gliding around the ice rink. IMG_1192IMG_1193

The advent calendar is hung to remind the children and adults to keep Christ at the center of Christmas, the One who can bring this world a much sought after peace. IMG_1197

And, of course, downstairs in Mimi’s quarters, Doc Flamingo’s pink feathered friends are hung from the fronds of their very own Christmas palm tree.   IMG_1183IMG_1184So a Merry Christmas to all from Flamingo SantaIMG_1189And  Happy New Year from this fancifully feathered duo.IMG_1190And Mimi can now take a short rest and look forward to a visit with her son, daughter-in-law and two big boy grandsons up in Oregon in 3 weeks to celebrate more family holiday traditions.