Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Little Birdhouse in Your Soul

Birdhouse in Your Soul
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Acrylic on Canvas
22" x 28"
This painting is inspired by the They Might Be Giants song "Birdhouse in your Soul."  The song is about a blue bird nightlight that brings comfort to the listener.  In the painting the bursts at the bottom represent the opening beats.  The eggs represent youth.  The young girl in the center of the painting is my daughter who is currently age nine.  I hope that she can keep the nightlight in her soul burning bright!

Part of the composition was inspired by a piece by Eldzier Cortor that is currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Loved it!
Jewels/Theme IV by Eldzier Cortor
Another element that inspired this painting is a photo of my father when he was in the first grade:
John Wooten, 1952, Knoxville, TN

I feel this photo really captures his spark, a unique youthful quality in him.  I attempted to get the same quality of image from my daughter choosing a direct gaze and replacing the "I Like Ike" button with the birdhouse- ha ha!  My father was a musician who taught high school marching bands.  Many of my first memories are of watching him direct his students to the rhythm of the beat.  This beat, this light "that doesn't rest" is what we need to push away the monsters in the shadows. 

Also my mother is a birder who has always had numerous bird feeders and houses in the sanctuary of her yard.  For me- this is a painting rich in personal family symbolism.

"I have a secret to tell
From my electrical well
It's a simple message and I'm leaving out the whistles and bells
So the room must listen to me
Filibuster vigilantly
My name is blue canary one note* spelled l-i-t-e
My story's infinite
Like the Longines Symphonette it doesn't rest"
-They Might Be Giants

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Flowers in the Kitchen

Flowers in the Kitchen
Copyright 2014 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
16" x 20"

"I need my friends.  I need my house.  I need my garden."
-Miranda Richardson

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Birds of Syria

The Birds of Syria
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas 18" x 36"
Prints available on Fine Art America
War is always disruptive to families.  This painting is about how many Syrians have had their home, their nest, disrupted by the Syrian Civil War.  Like a flock of birds that have been startled, the people of Syria have scattered in all directions.  If a nest was thrown up in the air, the twigs of it would also scatter.  Yet here a mother holds a new delicate nest.  It contains the egg of future generations. She is carrying it until she can find a safe place that will be her new home.

This painting is also inspired by my friend, Dima Kroma, who is from Syria.  She is creating paintings of her homeland.  One of her recent paintings is of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus with birds flying up around it into the air.  It is a beautiful scene.

Here is a photo of her painting currently on display at the Indianapolis Art Center:

Umayyad Mosque by Dima Kroma

When my friend Walter saw my "Birds of Syria" painting it he was moved to write a poem about it:

Birds of Syria 
by  Walter Biskupski
Fly away now,
Your precious lives are on the wing.
Let the currents guide you
Through the troubled air,
And bring you to shelter
Until the storms subside.
Allow those who love you to provide,
To lessen your fear; to ease your pain,
And like the winged migration through the year,
you may yet return home again.

It is my hope that the "Birds of Syria" painting will bring comfort to all Syrians who are suffering and that it raises awareness of the human rights violations that have been committed.  I am so glad that Dima, her family and others have escaped to my country, the United States, yet I can only imagine the pain of not being able to return home.

May peace come again to Syria.  May love fill your hearts.

Here are some in progress photos of this painting:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, Germany
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Acrylic on Panel
11" x 14"
"I'd rather live in a cave with a view of a palace than live in a palace with a view of a cave."
-Karl Pilkington

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Daughter

My Daughter
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Acrylic on Panel
11" x 14"
"She is just like a butter-rose, that blooms in the month of June.
Or like some musical instrument that's just been lately tuned."
-From the folk song "A Roving on a Winter's Night"

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Sneak Peek Inside My Art Studio...

Inside Hirschten's Art Studio

With help from fabulous photographer Emily Schwank of Rainscliff Photography here is a sneak peek inside my art studio.

I consider the painting studio to be a sanctuary, a place to take refuge.  I recommend that if you want to grow as an artist you must make space in your home to create. Virginia Woolf urged artists to have a "Room of One's Own" for their creative work but even a table tucked in the corner of your living room will work.  You need space to make a mess then put it all back together again.

"Sanctuary, on a personal level, is where we perform the job of taking care of our soul."
-Christopher Forest McDowell

Hirschten's Art Studio

Oil Paints
Hirschten Painting

Hirschten at work in her painting studio

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Before and After

Mantel (And wet painting drying rack!) in Hirschten's Living Room After Renovation

Mantel Before
For me there isn't anything quite as satisfying as repainting a room.  It doesn't have the creative problem solving of making an oil painting, but the aching back gives one a feeling of accomplishment.

Painting, n.: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather, and exposing them to the critic.
-Ambrose Bierce


Schnookum likes it!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Winding Stream

The Winding Stream
Copyright 2014 Hirschten
Acrylic on Canvas Board
11" x 14"
"When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
and the dimpling streams runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it."
-William Blake

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sunflowers in Berlin

Sunflowers in Berlin
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
12" x 24"

"Art is not an adventure undertaken by the few for the gratification of their natural instincts, but a part of the complete expression of a people.  It has no place for weaklings. 
Only the strong persist, for they must feel and speak for all."
-William Forsyth

Hmmmm... I don't agree that my or anyone else's work could ever 'speak for all.'   Every person's experience is unique.  Every person deserves to have their story shared.  I do agree however that creating art in any form is courageous.  We show our underbellies, our vulnerable side.  We express what we see, feel and care about.  This takes courage.  The release that you get from opening up to it makes it worth it.

What do I see in today's painting?  This was a bunch of flowers for sale in an open air market in Berlin.  This area of the east side is haunted by the devastation of World War II and the violent separation of the east and west.  Yet the day I was there it was bright and sunny.  We ate fresh breads and cakes.  This is an image of renewal.

Join me for the opening reception of "Art In Bloom"
Petrov's Frame and Fine Art, 5172 N College Ave.  Indianapolis
April 2, 2015  6:30-9pm

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Abstract Sunset

Abstract Sunset
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas

"Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature."
-Josef Albers

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Flowers in a Wine Glass

Flowers in a Wine Glass
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas

"The fairest thing in nature, a flower, still has its roots in earth and manure."
-D.H. Lawrence

Friday, March 13, 2015

The History of Flower Painting 101

"Red D'Anjou Pears and Flowers"
Oil on Canvas 11" x 14"

Buy Now on Etsy

"Each blossom that blooms in their garden bowers on its leaves a mystic language bears."
David Kandel, German Herbal, Illustration of a Lime Tree, 1546
  As I prepare for the upcoming class "Painting Botanics", I have been totally geeking out on the history of botanical flower painting!
 We will begin our first day of class by examining early renaissance herbals and DISSECTING SHAMROCKS THE DAY AFTER SAINT PATRICK'S DAY.  (Sacrilegious I know!)
Jan van Huysum, Dutch 1724
 Starting in the Dutch Golden Age reaching into the Victorian era the people of Europe were crazed with floral symbolism.  Lovers would gift each others flowers (and paintings of flowers) using this secretive symbolic language.  Oh la la! 

Flowers were not just decorative ornaments in these paintings but told the story of life, death and the moral code of the age.  We will be creating still-life paintings inspired by their methods and madness!
Amazing woman explorer, Maria Sibylla Merian "Life Cycle of the Butterfly" 1705
 As Europeans pushed for exploration of new territories during the "Age of Discovery" scientists documented their finding with artistic paintings. In this class we will be closely observing floral "specimens" until we can capture their graceful beauty.

And this is only the beginning of the story! 

Then there is Impressionism and Symbolism and O'Keefe's bold Modernism....
Odilon Redon, Ophelia, French Symbolism 1910

Join us!  Sign up now for
"Painting Botanics"
starting March 18th at the Indianapolis Art Center.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New!!! Alchemy of Art Podcast

Inspired by the completion of my book "The Alchemy of Art: Stories for the Classroom"  I have started a podcast to share the collection of folktales and true stories!

Each episode includes stories, questions from listeners, book recommendations and inspiration to keep you going.  It will also be a place where I can answer the philosophical and practical questions I get asked about why and how we create art.

Please feel free to contact me with questions you would like discussed on the podcast! 

Listen on iTunes

Or Podbean...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Crepe Myrtle Tree

The Crepe Myrtle Tree
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
16" x 20"
Buy Now On Etsy
To me crepe myrtle trees are summer.  They are the south.  There is nothing quite like taking a walk on a 100 degree hot afternoon and rounding the bend to come upon a tree like this one.

It is on days like today when the Indiana landscape around me is covered in snow that I have to admit... I wish I was home.

 "The ache for home lives in all of us, 
the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned."
-Maya Angelou

This painting depicts the Ann Street Methodist Church adjacent to the Old Burying Ground Cemetery in Beaufort, North Carolina. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
16" x 20"
"To create a little flower is the labor of ages."
-William Blake

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Indiana Storyteller's Workshop and Retreat 2015!

Join us for the next 'Indiana Storyteller's Retreat'!
Nothing is better than having a day of sharing stories and ideas together with an awesome group of librarians and teachers.  This year's retreat will be located in Indianapolis!  Register today... spots are filling up fast.

Indiana Storyteller's Workshop and Retreat

May 23rd 2015 9am-5pm
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

Join fellow storytellers, librarians and educators for a day-long storytelling retreat in the heart of Indiana.  Bring one traditional folktale to work on as we explore the purpose and process of crafting storytelling performances for children.

Course credits:
5 LEU (Library Education Units for Indiana Librarians)
5 PGP (Professional Growth Points for Indiana Teachers)

Register here:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

February Florals Day 14: Valentine's Day Pinks

Copyright 2014 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
9" x 12"
Bid on this Original Painting Starting at only $100!

"Keep love in your heart.
A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead."
-Oscar Wilde

***Happy Valentine's Day Everyone***

Friday, February 13, 2015

February Florals Day 13: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
18" x 36"
Prints Available on Fine Art America

While looking for stories involving flowers I reread the legend of 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' or "The Virgin of Guadalupe.'

It is said that in Mexico City in the year 1531 a man by the name of Juan Diego walked up to the Hill of Tepeyac.  There he saw a vision of the Virgin Mary.  She told him that a church should be built on that spot in her honor.  Diego shared this message with the archbishop of the city.  The archbishop told Diego to go back to the spot and ask the apparition for a miracle to prove her identity.  Diego returned and asked for a sign.  He was gifted the healing of his sick uncle.  Then he was instructed to gather flowers from the hillside.  Diego gathered many roses.  When he returned to the archbishop Diego opened his cloak onto the floor.  On the fabric of the cloak was an image of the Virgin Mary.  The roses surrounded the miraculous image.  It was decided that indeed a church should be built on the sacred spot.  It is known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It is visited by many pilgrims every year.

"All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady."
-J.R.R. Tolkien

Here are some photos showing the stages of creating this painting...
"Our Lady of Guadalupe" Painting by Hirschten Stage 1

"Our Lady of Guadalupe" Painting by Hirschten Stage 2

"Our Lady of Guadalupe" Painting by Hirschten Stage 3

"Our Lady of Guadalupe" Painting by Hirschten Stage 4

Thursday, February 12, 2015

February Florals Day 12: The Sweet Scent of Roses

"The Sweet Scent of Roses"
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
11" x 14"
Bid now on this original painting starting at only $100!

"The fragrance of flowers flows only in the direction of the wind.  
But the goodness of a person spreads in all directions."

This would be a perfect Valentine's Day gift!  These flowers don't wilt.

(Yes this painting is similar to the bouquet from day 1 of the challenge.  I rearranged the flowers and repainted it with a different color palette.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

February Florals Day 11: Hidden on the Forest Floor

Hidden on the Forest Floor
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
11" x 14"
Bid now on this original painting starting at only $100!
THIS is the forest primeval. 
The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, 
 Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, 
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic, 
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms. 
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean 
 Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.  
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it  
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman? 
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers -- 
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands, 
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven? 
Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed! 
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October 
 Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean. 
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-PrĂ©. 
Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient, 
Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion, 
List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest; 
List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy. 
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

February Florals Day 10: Pinks in a Blue Vase

Pinks in a Blue Vase
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
11" x 14"
Bid now on this Original Painting Starting at only $100!

"Do not send me flowers when I am dead.  If you like me, send them when I am alive."
-Brian Clough

Monday, February 9, 2015

February Florals Day 9: Light on Roses

Light on Roses
Copyright 2014 Addie Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
11" x 14"
Bid now on this original painting starting at only $100!

"It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light."

Sunday, February 8, 2015

February Florals Day 8: Keep the Light

Keep the Light
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
12" x 24"
Bid now on this original painting starting at only $100!

"Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light."
-Theodore Roethke

Saturday, February 7, 2015

February Florals Day 7: Flowers are Sunshine

Flowers are Sunshine
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
11" x 14"
Bid now on this original painting starting at only $100!

"Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful;
they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul."
-Luther Burbank

Friday, February 6, 2015

February Florals Day 6: Leaves that Have Ripened

"Leaves have Ripened"
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
18" x 36"

"Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all."
-Robert Frost

Join me tonight for the opening reception of Love, Lust and Poetry!
This painting and two others will be included in the exhibit.
Love, Lust and Poetry Opening Reception
Noblesville, IN
Friday, February 6, from 6-9 p.m.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

February Florals Day 5: Sunflowers, Salt and Pepper

Sunflowers, Salt and Pepper
Copyright 2015 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
11" x 14"
Bid now on this original painting starting at only $100!

"To me flowers are happiness."
-Stephano Gabbana