Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2015 Wall Calendar & Expecting Change Brings Stability

Hello and happy holidays to you!

I hope you are having a lovely, cozy holiday season and finding new and familiar things to be grateful for everyday. I enjoyed my first Thanksgiving here in Florida amongst new family and friends who have welcomed me graciously into their lives. Indeed it was sunny and 80! 
In celebration of the holidays and to ring in the new year, I put a little wall calendar together. They are available for purchase online at my shop on Etsy.com. Hurry quick for delivery before Christmas! The calendar includes twelve original nature paintings printed in full color on premium glossy card stock and measures 8.5 x 11". It even includes holidays! 


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I recently listened to a powerful interview from the Diane Rehm show with Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer on mindfulness. Maybe you heard it? Below is the link to listen to the full interview. To me, one of the most powerful phrases that Ellen describes in this interview is this:

"Expecting change brings stability."

Simple, yet not the easiest thing to remember when things get bananas! And sometimes it feels like we're living in a jungle full of bananas! We tend to confuse stability with a sense of control. But life is uncontrollable and unpredictable. Control often times leads more towards suffering and frustration than a sense of stability, confidence or success. Now, let me be honest and admit that I create plenty of stress and frustration due to my rigidity and attempt to control situations and plans. I realize, though, that as I grow older, taking on more responsibility in life and experiencing new joys and hardships along the way, this one simple understanding will become more prevalent and important to remember. And although it is a delightfully simple concept I could elaborate on for days, the challenge is to believe it in the moment. It is up to us how we experience change. Do we confront it rigidly with a stubborn will, bringing on stress and heart ache, impervious to what it might teach us if we were to embrace it warmly? Or do we choose to look it in the eyes armed with flexibility and a willingness to roll with the waves? Change is inevitable and stability is contentedness. It is comfort. If we are to expect that things always change, thus approaching changes with an adaptable, malleable mind and heart, we are more likely going to perceive joy and feel gratitude in all matters from the everyday to the life-altering, from being pooed on by a bird to losing something special to us. Maybe we'll even feel like laughing or dancing or skipping along. I found quite a bit of wisdom in this interview and I am very grateful it was shared with me. I hope you, too, might find something special to take away from it.  

Thank you as always for reading. I hope you like the calendar. I already have yoga workshops penciled in through 2015!  Cheers to all that a new year and its many changes will bring.

Warm wishes, 


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Greetings from sunny Florida!

                                                                                           Lover's Lane. 6x8" Acrylic on canvas.              
It's been almost six full weeks since I left the gorgeously green state of Vermont to make my journey to my new home on the beachy shores of west coast Florida. The trip was smooth and filled with warm, welcoming hosts (thank you hosts!) and beautiful, new places to explore. 

All packed up and leaving Mom's house in Montpelier, VT.

Here's Grandpa Barney. He took me to see these ladies sing doo wop in Napanoch, NY on my first stop. He was pretty happy about this picture, showing it off to everyone (I mean, everyone) around us. Then he told a young man in front of us to pull his pants up. Always the disciplinarian. 

Here's Barney again. He took me out to a special dinner the night before at Red Lobster, my grandmother's favorite restaurant when she was with us. We both ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio and laughed deeply when he slammed his water glass down to the table, exclaiming, "Gal dang, that's heavy!"

Isn't he so cute? I think he was telling me how to get out of town, but I was taking pictures of him instead of listening. He talks a lot. Love you, Grandpa, thank you!

         My next stop was Roanoke, Virginia. This state took my breath away. While I was driving down Route 81, a major trucking highway, I couldn't believe the vast beauty of the farming foothills through the area. It was familiar, like something I'd seen in picture books, yet totally new to me in real life. It was so pastoral, so bucolic, so vast.

                                                                       Mill Mountain Star 
 My brother-in-law's mother hosted me at her home. She brought me up to the Mill Mountain Star which overlooks the entire city from the highest point. After, she treated me to an amazing spread of sushi with martinis! Thank you, Pauli!

After Roanoke, I followed the roller coaster highway to Asheville, NC where I caught up with my friend, Mitch, and his girlfriend. We did some beer crawling and ate at Salsa's, the most scrumptious Brazilian/Mexican joint I never would have expected in North Carolina.

At Wicked Weed Brewing, where they had the best gluten-free beer I've ever tried, the gluten FREEk.


Before reaching dinner, we passed by this wall which prompted, "Before I die I want to...". Amongst its scrawlings were adventurous responses such as, "See the pyramids", "Cuddle a sloth" and "Walk the great wall." Then there were the more compassionate, heartfelt responses like, "Make a difference" and "Save a life." My friend scribbled "live" and next to his I wrote "love." There were many different responses, yet all shared a common tone: wishing, hoping and longing to have something or be something in the future. One read, "To be the perfect parent." I couldn't help but feel the great expectations we set on ourselves; the weight of hope. And how hope makes us fearful. We are often stuck in a dance between hope and fear, immobilizing us from truly loving and living. We long for an escape, yet we don't really know how to get there. This wall serves as a reminder to be present. To simply recognize that by scribbling some words on a giant chalk wall we are living, we are loving, we are helping...because we are sharing. In art, I often wonder what the importance of it is. It can feel isolating, solitary, and unimportant, especially knowing that someday these things I make will no longer exist. Yet as I explore what it is to make things, I am led to the greater universal truth: that by sharing we are helping others and helping each other. Sharing ourselves openly, without judgement and with a present mind is one of  the greatest skill in life. So my answer to my own question is to just keep sharing myself with others, with an open heart and a compassionate mind. 

I stumbled across this poignant quote from Gandhi here in St. Pete recently. It reads: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."

To me, this means dedicating one's attention towards others, outside ourselves. It means to give our time for those around us, to be a true friend by asking ourselves what we can do for others. How can we support them and continue to care? It means to notice what others might need, whether it's someone to listen, a hug, a dollar, or space. Learning how we can best serve others is a mission. As Sakyong Mipham writes in his book "Ruling Your World," "The thought of helping others is compassion, knowing how we can do it is wisdom, and doing something about it is courage." May we all find the courage for action.

This book is a life-changer. In a later chapter he writes, "...the joy I feel...has to do with deciding what I want to do and engaging in it wholeheartedly." He goes on to explain that we are often practicing exertion in the wrong direction, in the direction of making things work for "me." His path to joy involves exerting himself in the effort to help and inspire others, outside of himself. This concept is pure, clear and honest. It just makes sense. Life feels empty and joyless when I'm just trying to figure out how things will best serve me. In moving to FL, I made a very conscious decision that this is where I want to be and that I want to try to learn how to help others. When I first arrived here, all sorts of doubts and fears flooded my mind. What was I thinking? Did I make the right choice? Is this really where I want to be? People think so differently here, how will I fit in? Maybe I should give it a year and then go somewhere else for graduate school. What am I doing here? These were just a few of the thoughts running through my mind for the first couple of weeks here, even though I was having a great time getting to know my roommates and exploring the area. I just wasn't sure it could possibly work out because there were no easy answers broadcasted immediately. After reading this book and meditating on these ideas for a bit, I realized that it was my heart I followed here and it was my heart I will continue to follow and trust. At that point I made a conscious choice to commit to this place and to follow the serendipitous signs that pop up through the exertion of commitment and decision. And so I am choosing to exert myself here where I am needed and even though the answers may not seem obvious, they are right there, floating all around us in time and space, ready for us to accept them and move forward with strength, courage and confidence. Sure it's scary that I don't yet have a job, but I find comfort in making this step towards exertion, however small. I am giving it a try and with it comes an ease in giving my time to others, in caring more deeply, sharing a smile more often and looking others in the eye. 

This is Lover's Lane, the first painting completed on Florida soil. It's from a snapshot I took while biking down Lover's Lane in Grand Isle, VT a couple of years ago. I crested this hill and the clouds were sitting atop it like Little Miss Muffet's tuffet. It's a mini painting, a scale I'm really enjoying right now. And it's for sale, email me if you're interested! 

Lover's Lane. 6x8". Acrylic on canvas board.

Back to the road...after enjoying the microbrew beer land that is Asheville, NC, I journeyed south to St. Augustine, FL, the charming, "Ancient City" established by the Spanish in the 1500's. 

I slept out on a friend's porch right on the bay, lulled to sleep by wind, rain and that sweet ocean smell. The rains started early the next day, so I hopped back on the road headed for my final destination, St. Petersburg, Florida.

First trip to the beach!

The new roommates.


                                                               My first crawfish boil...

A backyard pool party, southern style.

Southern trees.

 At the pottery studio.

Outrageous sunsets.

And amazing cloud structure! 

Awesome storms roll in anytime of day...

And birds! 

If flooding and rain weren't an issue...

Bountiful succulents, shells and mosaics.

Palms and sunsets.

Just a few of the plethora of new sights that are inspiring me these days! 

In conclusion, the past six weeks of moving to Florida from Vermont, have been the greatest gift I have ever given myself. Everyday I pinch myself that I am here, "here" being the physical location of St. Petersburg, FL, but also here: open, present, calm and content. Sure, there are days I feel terrified of what's next or that I'm not working yet, but being able to stay clear, calm and reflect through this fear in order to see the expansiveness and the opportunity of the universe feels like a life skill I'm becoming more familiar with. I hope my words offer any bits of goodness you can absorb. I love hearing your thoughts. Message me, leave a comment, let me know how you are feeling. Thank you for reading this and wishing you love, light and happiness. 


Friday, August 1, 2014

Ramblin' On...and Moving Sale

Dearest friends, family, loved ones and art enthusiasts! 

There's some big news happening in the world of Art by Anna Ayres and I'm so very excited to be announcing this to you: I'm moving on to southern climates in a couple of short weeks. After much planning, deliberation and decision-making, I plan to move to St. Petersburg, FL to continue painting and to pursue an education in Social Work. Although enrollment in an education capacity has yet to be decided, that is the main goal!

I wanted to share this with you all as it is only by your guidance, support and continued interest that I came upon the finding that true art breathes, lives and grows in its capacity to be shared amongst us. It is with this found truth that I will be journeying southward to a new, hotter palette of ocean breezes and palm trees where I hope to combine this artistic inclination with helping other people in whatever capacity that might be. I am indebted and so humbly grateful to all of you and this Vermont community which continues to give me nothing short of love and encouragement. It is by your graces that over the past 10 years I have been lucky enough to discover what it is to call oneself an artist and to gain a sense of how that fits in this world. Regardless of fear, doubt and hesitations I may have experienced through this process, your consistent encouragement helped me to gain strength and autonomy as a person and as an artist and it will continue to guide me forward courageously. Thank you so very much! 

All this being said, tomorrow marks the last of my art markets for this season. I am perpetually intrigued by the uncertainties of the future, and thus like to humor myself with thoughts that Vermont summers will not become something of my past, but for now, I am closing this chapter of my art career. Tomorrow, from 9 am till 2:30 pm, in Burlington, VT's City Hall Park, all of my remaining inventory will be up for grabs at bargain prices! In addition, any remaining originals are available in a make-me-an-offer sort of a vein. One confliction I have with being an artist is that I make things. Which accumulate. But I like to keep my load light. My biggest hope in being a painter is to be able to create something in which I feel a slice of love and then to share it with someone else who gains a sense of that love from whatever it is that I made. For me, it is simply about finding a good home for these creations. If you are looking to adopt, do not hesitate to contact me with any budget in mind. I plan on bringing only my print and card inventory with me to the market tomorrow. The original paintings that are available for sale are all listed on my website at ArtbyAnnaAyres.com under "Available Originals." I will be posting these images to Facebook as well, so if you see one you love or have always had your eye on, or feel would make a great birthday gift for a loved one, this is the perfect opportunity to scoop it up. Just holler and we will work something out.

This is also a superb time to talk about commission work if you are interested in collaborating with me. I would love to schedule some new projects to work on this fall once landed in Florida! 

Okey dokey, I think that is everything for now. Please don't hesitate to contact me with questions, concerns, ideas, etc. I am so excited for this next step in life and look forward to connecting with you all in any capacity. And as always, thank you for reading.

Warm wishes, 


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Dave and Stan. Or Batman and Robin.
So there's this little thing called "The Incline" in Manitou Springs, CO and folks in those parts eat it for breakfast. See that first photo? That's my brother-in-law, Dave Philipps, ultra runner, journalist and author of Lethal Warriors (that's a blog post to write in the future, but in the meantime google it; it changed my world) at The Incline's base with sidekick Stanley. The Incline is a mile-long, 1900 foot elevation gain ascent up the base of Pikes Peak originally built to carry materials via cable car to build pipelines on Pikes Peak. After the pipes were built, they used it to get tourists up to the top for the splendid view. After a damaging rock slide, the attraction was shut down, but foot travelers took this as an opportunity to get in a really good workout. If you didn't already gather from its name, it is a rigorous, anaerobic, very steep hike to the top at high altitude with low oxygen levels. The closer one gets to victory, the steeper and wider the steps become. For my Vermont peeps, it's kind of like hiking the last 1/4 mile of Camel's Hump from the Waterbury side 4 times while plugging your nose. 

From the base. 
This is a challenge I like to torture myself with every time I visit my sister and her family in Colorado. My first attempt in 2006 failed shamefully when I used the halfway bailout path. At the time, I couldn't fathom one more upward step. And I didn't believe that I was capable of making it to the top. My mind was plagued with a list of excuses: I am not used to the elevation, I didn't have my Wheaties today, I'm not in good enough shape, I'm not a crazy Coloradan. So I took the easy way out and bailed. I waited a few years before trying it again in the beginning of 2010,  this time determined and equipped with the full belief that I was perfectly capable and prepared to make it to the top. Precious moments were shared along the way with training Russian Olympians, a whole beefy lot of them resting near the halfway mark, wooting me cheerfully as I passed by them. Dave went ahead of me and timed my journey from the top, 41 minutes to the very last step. The reward is a sweet view of the nested city below and endless volumes of the bluest sky.  

Moi et Stanley.
These photos are from my 5th and most recent ascent, just a couple of weeks ago while visiting CO. Dave woke me at 6 am on Saturday, also something I didn't used to think I could do, but now relish the beauty of early mornings when they actually happen for me (not too often). We soaked up some caffeine and flew out to Manitou Springs where parking was already sparse with early morning flocks of incliners. Dave pushed ahead with his ultra runner lungs and legs as I tried to slip into a Pandora-infused trance at a smooth, careful pace. I paused my journey to let two teenage boys, both with headphones and heavy sweats, pass by me so I could capitalize on some personal space. I couldn't help but think how awfully cute it was to see the two of them climbing this giant hill together on an early Saturday morning. It's wasn't too long before I passed by them while they were taking a break on the sidelines to catch their breath, bent over at the waist, peeling layers of sweat material off already-exhausted limbs. I gave them silent high fives.

"...I think I remember those eyes, eyes, eyes. Cause baby tonight, the dj got us fallin in love again..." YES! I love this song! I propelled upward happier with Usher and Pitbull cheering me on, making it to the destination in 40 flat minutes. And this is the lovely view at the top (photo below), little Colorado Springs nested below and endless volumes of the bluest sky. From the top, the rails drop off like the tracks of a roller coaster at its steepest and highest peek. Along the route, I took inventory of my compadres. They included men, women, young, old, fast, slow, thick and thin. All kinds are permitted here. To google "the incline" is to discover an incline club of sorts. There is a comradeship and joy in being a successful incline hiker. There are forums to post times (the best times seem to be in the 20 minute category) and comments on one's experience. 

"Your love is like
a roller coaster
baby baby."
For me, this challenge is about doing. It's not just about trying, because in trying we sometimes already acknowledge the possibility of failure. I believe that in order to conquer the variety of challenges set before us in life, from wee-est to grandest, we must calm our inner critic, the voice that says we can't do things and makes lists of very creative excuses for us why not, and just do. As a creative person I constantly have to check my inner critic at the door, allowing the freedom to just paint. Of course there is a plethora of daily doubts on my mind, and I am careful to weed doubt from reality, b doubt kills dreams and makes unhappy people. And we need happy people here. I encourage you to quiet your inner critic and move forward with the audacity that we are all capable of. Just be. Just do. Nike says it well, "Just do it." Stop over thinking it. Even the tiniest challenges show us what we're capable of. 

                    Be well. Be proud. Just be. 


Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Happy Discovery

Oh why hello there! Welcome to my new blog! If you're new to me, I am Anna Ayres, an oil and acrylic landscape painter living in Montpelier, VT. In the past few months, I have become overwhelmed with enthusiasm to paint as I begin to explore oils. This blog is an opportunity for me to share insights, inspirations and anecdotes while gaining feedback and wisdom from anyone interested in reading. I am in love with the painting process and have so many ideas bubbling to the surface right now that I can't paint nearly fast enough to share them all! It is my hope that this blog will serve as an outlet for some of this creative energy as I continue to ride this sweet wave! And I will try to limit my use of exclamation marks in the future. Promise.

Writing a blog is a little bit like beginning a new painting. There are so many potential options, choices, decisions and edits. The combination of these factors supplies infinite possibility. So it is a tad overwhelming and unless I just accept these words as I write them, I will never achieve complete satisfaction and thus will never publish a single post. So that is my disclaimer. I will do my best, in the present moment, to share honestly and wholeheartedly! Woops, that one slipped out.

I travelled down to Rutland, VT two weeks ago for the opening reception of "Women in the Arts: 2012" at the Chaffee Art Center (http://www.chaffeeartcenter.org/) in which I have 9 pieces exhibited until March 17th. It was a wonderful opening: shoulder to shoulder art seekers in the 1895 Victorian mansion that houses the art center, free-flowing wine, snacks, music and especially fantastic art. Eleven female artists comprise the show: all well-spoken, educated, thoughtful, practicing and professional. I left the opening wondering just how I fit in with these established women, feeling like my art was disparate from the rest. While theirs was cerebral, abstract, interesting, unique and technically developed, mine seemed straightforward, too colorful and lacking significance.

Two days after the opening, I found myself wandering into Rivendell Books in downtown Montpelier, a shop I had not visited in years, but was oddly drawn to on that particular Sunday afternoon. The first shelf I arrived at was the art section. Seemed fitting. Books on Van Gogh, the Impressionists and Picasso dominated the section and in the midst of turning to wander farther into the abyss of culture and words, a spread of orange maple leaves against an ultramarine background caught my eye. What I discovered was this book (image above), The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson. Wikipedia tells me that The Group of Seven was a group of seven Canadian landscape painters (and Tom Thomson, who died just before the artists named the group) producing work together from 1920 to 1933, initiating the first major Canadian national art movement. I could hardly believe my eyes as I flipped through the bold, colorful images. Each painting left my mouth more agape. These paintings were stunning. And I'd never seen any of them before. The style folded into these pages was just what I was yearning for: colorful, lively, bold, expressionistic, illustrative, simple. It was like confirmation that the kind of work I do and am drawn to is okay. Just a few days earlier, I was painting this:

A Friend's View, 24 x 30". Anna Ayres.

This painting began with a significantly different, more natural color palette, but it never felt quite right. It took several revisions (and a few years) before I decided to scrap the more traditional colors and textures and just do what felt natural to me. I lept a little and used my imagination. This is what happened. And then I found The Group of Seven, and it was as though I'd been channeling these artists all along. I completed the painting the next day with confidence. I am so grateful for this happenstance. It revealed to me that I am on track and that there is a place for me amongst the other artists at the Chaffee. There is a place for all of us and the work we do. So long as we are listening and carrying out the agenda of our hearts, we are just where we are meant to be. The reasons evolve as we do.

If you have the opportunity to pick this book up, absolutely do. It's gorgeous! I hope to some day see these paintings in person across the border way up north. Until then, I will take comfort in these pages and study these images for inspiration and guidance. I thank you for reading this and look forward to living the next story I will share.