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Review: Dancing with the beast album by Gretchen Peters

Gretchen at GOLThere are lyrics, and there are muse-inspired-words-as-gifts-from-the-heavens LYRICS. And Dancing With the Beast by Country Music Hall of Fame songwriter and singer Gretchen Peters is an album for the ages. It really taps into the zeitgeist of these tumultuous times, with nearly every song a mini-story of it’s own, told from different women’s vantage points. If you love ballads, this girl’s your girl…

There is darkness, I won’t lie, on this album, but it is the kind that rips you apart, sends you to hell and back. And when you resurface, you are changed. And lighter. Like when you exit a sad, sorrowful movie, tear-stained, into the sunlight, appreciative for your situation and circumstances.

Not familiar with Gretchen? Rick Bayles of Americana UK sums her bountiful songwriting skills and the breadth and depth of this latest album best:

 Peters’ great strength as a songwriter is that she’s not afraid to take on the difficult subjects and not above shining a little light into those darker recesses of the soul. While others might write happy songs about new love or bittersweet reflections on past affairs this artist will readily take on old age, prostitution, child abuse – let’s not forget she first came to prominence as the writer of Martina McBride’s controversial single ‘Independence Day’, celebrating an abused wife fighting back; a song that went on to win Song of the Year at the Country Music Association’s awards in 1995 and earned Gretchen Peters a Grammy nomination. This new recording once again deals with the difficult subjects; these are adult content songs written for a thinking audience by an intelligent artist. The fact that they are also beautifully played, sung and produced is the icing on a particularly enjoyable cake.

Don’t take my words for it, or Rick Bayles’. Listen for yourself at her website. All I know is, it is MTPB: Music to paint by.

Disclaimer 1: Gretchen is my sister-in-law and her husband and band mate, sublime musician and composer-extraordinaire, Barry Walsh, my brother.

Disclaimer #2: I consider myself musically illiterate, having been kicked out of piano lessons taught by a widow whose sole income was teaching piano to the little children of Packanack Lake, NJ.

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I hope you dance

I hope you dance“I hope you dance” is a mixed media collage art work using the sheet music of the beautiful song made famous by LeeAnn Womack and penned by Mark Sanders and Tia Sillers. My painting uses the iconic ballet dancer’s graceful en pointe image against a background of pinks and red tissue and washi papers.

You know, I was fortunate enough to see the charismatic, adorable and talented Tia perform it live at the Bluebird. I already loved the song and was so moved at her performance, I had to express it in some way and out came this painting.  Head over here for the back story on Tia’s inspiration in writing this song and the gorgeous music video of I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack.

Check it out as a design element in a beautiful home interior: hope you dance

Like this image? I’m afraid it’s only available in print these days. You can purchase it from this site. The good news is, if you really, really, really love it, you can even score other goodies such as note cards, yoga mats (yes, you know you’d love one), beach towels, hell, even shower curtains! So head on over and get your credit card out!

PS: If you absolutely must have an original along this same line, contact me to explore a commission for that once-in-a-lifetime gift for the special someone in your life.

 

 

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The Druid Tree

The Druid Tree - 36 x 48 x 1" canvas wrapped acrylic painting by Maura Satchell, Artist. All rights reserved.
The Druid Tree – 36 x 48 x 1″ canvas wrapped acrylic painting by Maura Satchell. All rights reserved.

Though this particular work of art was painted several years ago, painting this was the closest I’ve been to a religious experience while painting and creating artworks ever. Hear me out.

I often get lost in my work, time escapes me on a regular basis and when I’m alone in my studio painting and creating, I sometimes forget to eat, sleep, etc.

But in making this particular piece of art, I had a truly out-of-body experience. It was one of several larger paintings I was completing for a solo show I was preparing for. That I was listening to Dave Matthews Band may have helped, but no alcohol or drugs — illicit or otherwise — were ingested during the creation of this painting.

Why a simple tree? In druid times and within the Celtic race, trees were held as sacred. In my own life, particular trees hold special meaning and symbolize the lives of loved ones born or passed on. For that reason, this work is near and dear to me.

Minimalist in style, I love how the silver trunk reflects the light and casts an otherworldly glow on the canvas, as if alive.  I indicated it was not for sale and happily scored not one but two commissions from it. Fine art print and canvas copies are available through Saatchi, and other merchandise — duvet covers, shower curtains, note cards, you name it, are available here.

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Gossamer Wings

 

Quiet Yearning LR

Gossamer Wings is a soft-colored mixed media abstract painting using oil pastels, acrylic paint, charcoal, graphite and ink on 11 x 15 inches 140gsm archival paper created in an abstract expressionist style using techniques akin to Jackson Pollock with hints of Willem De Kooning.

The original is for sale directly from me or Saatchi’s online gallery which also offers various high quality print products. Other products — a shower curtain, duvet cover, pillows, and more are even available through Fine Art America.

Love it, but don’t need to make a purchase? Crow about it to your friends and be sure to follow me on your favorite social media platforms, be they Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

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Sanctuary

Sanctuary - mixed media artwork by Maura SatchellIt’s been a while, travel, the holidays, taxes and more have kept me way busier than I’d like but I was recently able to complete this painting I have been working on for a very, very long time. I am drawn to religious symbols and iconography from my very Catholic youth. You see, going to church on weekday mornings, in addition to Sunday mornings, was not unusual.

Cut to my adult years when clergy sexual abuse scandals and the coverups of those scandals became prevalent in mainstream news and I found it very difficult to continue to …

But the icons, the veil, the sacristy, the altar, the stained glass windows and stations of the cross and holy communion and confession continued to percolate beneath my subconscious. In search of a world where peace and respect for one another and humanity and generosity and reverence of all mankind (after all, we are ALL God’s creatures), has been replaced by biting cynicism, isolationism, xenophobia, and a lack of respect for humankind, I created “Sanctuary”.  Soft colors, graceful curves, sturdy foundations, windows and doors (and a pathway to follow from closed window to open doorway) and crucifixes.

Sanctuary is a mixed media piece on paper, 11″ x 15″, signed. It is available for sale at $350 direct from me, or $725 from one of my two online galleries, Saatchi, where art prints and canvas reprints are also available, and through Fine Art America, where the image is available in a myriad of creative formats, from prints to shower curtains, decorative throw pillows and even pencil cases.

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Summer Delight

Summer Delight LRIt’s the end of summer and after a long walk with my faithful hound, Brody, our four-year-old yellow lab rescue mix, I decided it was time to capture some of the lightness and joy of summer in an easy-breezy work of art.

Behold: Summer Delight.  It’s a mixed media piece of acrylic and inks on paper and both the 8 x 9″ original and copies are available through Fine Art America.

 

 

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Too young

13502874_10153934951394145_2119429598158544788_oToday would have been my brother Shawn’s 61st Birthday.  He died at 46, way too young to cancer. But thankfully, during his all-too-brief time on Earth, he inspired me so much…

How to compete, play fair, be smart, use numbers, be judicious, have a decent temperament, have a great work ethic, and have persistence. In fact, the brown placque barely visible at the back of the cluttered collection of knicknacks here in this photo is identical to one that was on his desk and reads:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Death sucks! Especially when it takes one so vibrant, full-of-life and clarity so young.