A look into the inspiration behind the work.

The Bee’s Visit to Milkweed

The Bee's Visit to the Milkweed

It’s funny the things we can discover about beliefs and assumptions that we make about our world when we open our mind to new information. I’ve gone out to capture wildflowers for reference now for years. Each new plant I find to photograph seems to amaze me when I start my research. This painting is of the “Common Milkweed” which has been seen less in my outings than the Butterfly Milkweed that sports rich orange blooms. When I found the “common” variety, I thought I had found a treasure. The dusty purple/pink blossoms called to my color sensibilities as I was drawn to photograph it. Much of the time on my field trips I am accompanied by various insects and more often than not I encounter bees. Of course, I don’t have a fear of bees, they simply poke around the flowers and really mind their own beeswax as long as I too mind my own.

Best known for their attraction for monarch butterflies, the Common Milkweed also serves as an important food source for bees. It has been suggested that our food supply, without bees, would put one third of the world food supply in danger. In the news over the last decade there has been concern about the health and welfare of our bees caused by a mysterious phenomenon referred to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Recently experts estimate losses projected in the billions if the honeybee population continues its decline at this rate.

“About 130 crops in the U.S.—worth some $15 billion a year—depend on honeybee pollination, and if bee populations really did collapse, it would mean an agricultural catastrophe,” Time Magazine wrote last April.

There is much conjecture about the cause of CCD including the use of insecticides on our food source fields. However each of us can help by putting the Common Milkweed into your backyard garden and creating a bee friendly garden.

There are many benefits beyond the health of the bees to add the Milkweed to your backyard. According to http://www.wildfoods.info milkweed is also a tasty and nutritious addition to soup, stir fry and even as a side veggie dish. “Because of the myths surrounding the plant, many people have kept their distance from the common milkweed. This is sad because it is one of our best tasting, easiest to harvest, and most abundant edible wild plants,” www.WildFoods.info wrote about the untapped potential of the plant.

Now, I haven’t personally tried milkweed as a side dish, but will gather some up the next time I go flower shooting just to give it a try.

No matter what this is a beautiful, fragrant plant the is invaluable to our ecosystem and deserves for each of us to consider it when we are out on a nature walk. - To check out the Availablity of the piece - Click Here

Comment on or Share this Article

Sweet William’s Girl

Sweet William's Girl

Sometimes great legends can be found among the unassuming wildflowers. The Black Eyed Susan along with the Southern European native plant Sweet William (which blooms at the same time and are wonderful companion flowers in a garden) tells a romantic love story that is replayed even today with the overseas wars and rumors of wars. The story of a farewell to a lover who is off to an uncertain fate has been experienced by myself twice as my husband, Chuck, left for the Iraqi war in 2004 and again in 2008. He came back not much worse for wear but not every soldier has been so lucky.

This timeless ballad takes us back to the years of our founding father's and their own struggles for Independence. Written in the 1700's by John Gay and at the time the lyrics were very popular in several ballad operas of it’s time. The words were set to various scores by different composers, including Carey, Leveridge, Haydon and Sandonis.

So I ask you as you prepare for this year's July 4th to take a moment and consider these lovers and the insecurity they feel about their future and think about our soldiers, many who have given all and never returned to their own Black Eyed Susan.

The Ballad of Black Eyed Susan by John Gay

All in the dawn the fleet was moor'd,
The streamers waving to the wind,
When Black-eyed Susan came on board,
Oh where shall I my true love find?
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true,
If my sweet William, if my sweet William
Sails among your crew?

Oh William, who high upon the yard,
Rocked with the billows to and fro,
Soon as her well-known voice he heard,
He sigh'd and cast his eyes below:
The cord slides swiftly thro' his glowing hands
And as quick as lightning, and as quick as lightning
On the deck he stands.

So sweet the lark, high poised in air,
Shuts close his pinions to his breast,
If, chance, his mate's shrill voice he hear,
And drops at once into her nest:
The noblest captain in the British fleet
Might envy William, might envy William's
Lip those kisses sweet.

'Oh Susan, Susan, lovely dear!
My vows shall ever true remain,
Let me kiss off that falling tear,
We only part to meet again:
Change as ye list, ye winds, my heart shall be
The faithful compass, the faithful compass
That still points to thee.

'Oh, believe not what the landsmen say
Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind,
They'll tell thee sailors when away,
In every port a mistress find:
Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so,
For thou art present, for thou art present
Wheresoe'er I go.

If to fair India's coast we sail,
Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright:
Thy breath is Afric's spicy gale,
Thy skin as ivory so white:
Thus every beauteous object that I view
Wakes in my soul, wakes in my soul
Some charm of lovely Sue.'

Though battle call me from thy arms
Let not my pretty Susan mourn:
Though cannon roar, yet safe from harms
William shall to his dear return:
Love turns aside the balls that round me fly
Lest precious tears, lest precious tears
Should drop from Susan's eye.

The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
Her sails their swelling bosom spread:
No longer can she stay on board -
They kissed, she sighed, he hung his head:
Her lessening boat unwilling rows to land,
'Adieu,' she cries, 'Adieu,' she cries
And waved her lily hand.

To hear one of the most popular of those tunes to which this poem was set can be found at http://www.contemplator.com/england/susan.html

For Availablity of the Painting Click Here.

Comment on or Share this Article

Primrose Life

The Primrose Life is more than what it seems. In my painting there is one wonderful bloom shining bright in the sunlight and it is surrounded by a couple blooms that have seen better days and to the left one bloom that has promise but has not reached its full glory. When I was working on this painting I was thinking about how fortunate I am. I had taken off early from work and decided to paint. I’m my own boss, so I can do that on occasion. Of course, the first thing that came to my mind when I decided to paint this flower was “Primrose Path” which technically didn’t fit what I wanted to show in the painting. As I see it, the primrose has gotten a bad rap from the wordsmith himself, Shakespeare in Ophelia’s warning to her brother, Hamlet:

I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,
As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;
Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own rede.

Ophelia is warning her brother take his own advice and not reject the difficult and arduous path of righteousness that leads to Heaven in favor of the easy path of sin. Shakespeare later used 'the primrose way', which has the same meaning, in Macbeth.

Let’s explore that Primrose Path, which by definition is a life of ease and pleasure, which leads to a bad end. It also seems to be the “in” kind of lifestyle lauded by many Americans today, and they don't even realize what they are missing. Ok, I’m not going to be preachy but I want to explore what an easy life surrounded by pleasure is like and does it always have to a bad end? I think it depends on how you go about your pleasure and whether or not you are serving your bliss or simply falling in with the crowd.

When you find that one thing you love and you figure out how to get that to make a income by doing it, you end up living a life of success down the Primrose Path. Now, you must be careful not to be led down the Primrose Path to your own disaster by the hypocrites, but to find for yourself the path that leads to your own happiness and wellbeing.

Sometimes that road can sure feel like a wild goose chase, but if you choose a path that is true to yourself and fulfilling a need to others which is a true entrepreneur mindset and lifestyle. You will find that your Primrose Path even seen to others to surely lead to a bad end is indeed a path of ease and pleasure with huge payoffs at the end. Discovering this path is not a simple process but it is truly worth the pain to get there.

So now I’ve argued myself into a box. Maybe what we really need is a new Primrose idiom. How about simply the "Primrose Life: A life of ease and pleasure filled with service to others that also creates a good standard of living income." I’m getting a little philosophical here, but I think that turning the negative into a positive is always a great way to live – so I’m taking on Shakespeare. What do you think? Are living a Primrose Life or being led down the Primrose Path?

Comment on or Share this Article

Mystique and Madness

This is my first painting of this beautiful treasure with the odd name of "Spiderwort"; I have been fascinated by its simple beauty since the day I found them in a field near Clinton Lake. I found this particular one a few weeks ago, bouncing in the wind near a roadside ditch. It seems sometimes, when I am out specifically looking to wildflowers to capture, they draw me in with a nod with the wind or a glimmer of color. This one brought me in from my moving vehicle with both the nod and the glimmer. When this happens I stop the car, grab my camera and walk back to the place I thought I saw the color. I was not disappointed. Not only did I find this beautiful Spiderwort, I also found a Primrose which will be coming around soon.  

As one of the few flowers in the Tallgrass Prairie of Kansas with a blue bloom Spiderwort grace us with their pretty petals for one day and then fade away, however the plant itself continues to bloom with each pod taking its turn for glory throughout the month – so the mystique and madness of me finding this very flower and painting its portrait with adoration to lengthen that short lifetime, hence the title. 

Not only does the plant intrigue me, but even in my research, there is a lot of mystique that goes along with this plant, the oddest being that the stamens will turn pink in the presence of nuclear fallout.  I suppose that came in handy for the service men who manned the nuclear missile sites buried throughout the area.

Some of the more interesting tidbits about this plant is that there is a long standing herbalist tradition that the sap from the leaves (which comes out clear and stringy like spider webs or “Cow Slobber” another common name for this beautiful plant.) cures spider bites and an interesting disease called “The Dancing Madness” (symptoms included headaches, sweating, trembling and severe melancholia) which was believed to be caused by spider venom. Never the less the plant gets its name as many plants do through the Doctrine of Signatures which is an ancient herbalist theory that a plant can be used as a medicinal for human ailments based on some aspect of its form or color gives us a clue as to the plant’s beneficial nature to the human body. So, since spiderworts grass like leaves are suggestion of a crouching spider and the sap looks like spider webs, then the plant is a good remedy for spider bites. So there you have it the mystique and the madness surrounds this pretty little blue flower from all sides. – Enjoy!

To see more of this series go to http://michelleleivan.com/collections/21558

Comment on or Share this Article

My Lucky Day

My Lucky Day - Violet Wood Sorrel

I discovered this little Violet Wood Sorrel growing in my “Hidden Garden” this spring. I was hidden in among the other foliage and shyly peeking through the shadows. It only grows about 4” tall so you can see why it was a treasure to find.  The day I discovered it, I felt lucky to have found it instead of stepping on the fragile plant. I didn’t realize that day that I had possibly been luckier than I thought.  There is an argument that the Wood Sorrel is the original St. Patrick Shamrock. I don’t know about you, but I remember as a kid spending hours in the playground searching for a lucky shamrock or 4 leaf clover. Well, here I am – decades later and I have actual shamrocks growing in my own back yard!

Through my research on this little guy, I dug up an old manuscript from 1911 that is available on the web, “Myths and Legends of Flowers, Trees, Fruits, and Plants in All Ages and In All Climes” by Charles Montgomery Skinner. This eBook will be most valuable while considering stories about my Kansas Wildflowers.  I love to learn new things about the plants that I’m drawn to painting, it adds to their character in my mind and make the plant even more fun to paint.

So here is the argument from the early 20th century as to why the Wood Sorrel is actually the original Shamrock – Enjoy!

“The clover which we call wood sorrel was anciently a charm against snakes and other poison dealing creatures; and witches, too, would none of it. On going into fights soldiers would tie a sprig about their sword arms, or to the handles of their blades, that they might be secure from the foul strokes of enemies who had black and secret ways of killing. The Arabic word for the trefoil is shamrak, and Persia makes it sacred as emblematic of the Persian Triads. Our wood sorrel is white with faint ruddy or purple streaks in the petals. A pink variety appears in England earlier than the white, but, as in other flowers, the farther north we go, the more of white appears in the flower, bluebells being white in Russia, and red campion emulating the snow in Arctic lands. Wood sorrel is ‘the hallelujah’ in Spain and Italy because of its blossoming when the Hallelujah is sung, after Easter; the Welsh name it fairy bells; the Scots call it hearts and gowk's meat. Cuckoo sorrel is a common name for it in the British islands, where it appears when the cuckoo begins to sing.

“Among the plants one no longer eats is this same wood sorrel, once used as a salad. Sheep or field sorrel, which is of a different botanical family is still used as greens, though it is sharp to the untrained palate.

“The acid of wood sorrel (oxalic, from the botanical name of the plant, oxalis) is extracted as ‘salt of lemons,’ a chemical in some demand for commercial purposes, but a rank poison. Its leaves yield five per cent. of acid. Because of their heart shape the doctrine of signatures prescribed them as a remedy for heart troubles. The variety cultivated in Bolivia as oca has a tuberous root as well prized as the artichoke; another four leaved variety is used on Mexican tables; the Peruvian species, arracha, is also eaten, both root and leaf stalk.

“Wood sorrel is held by many to be the original shamrock, as its Persian name implies, although the plant commonly worn as such on the 17th of March, when all the bows to St Patrick is Dutch clover. It is a little disconcerting that the authorities are not a unit as to what a shamrock is. The Erse word seamrog is from seamar, three leaved, and og, meaning small. It occurs variously as seamsog, seamroge, shamrote, shamrock, shamrug, oge, and chambroch. The plant actually used by St. Patrick may have been Dutch clover, or trifolium repens, or trifolium minus, or wood sorrel. Early references to it in Irish literature represent it as a food plant, Campion, in history of the island printed in 1571, speaking of ‘shamrotes, water cresses, and other herbes they feed upon.’  Matthias Lobel, a Flemish botanist, tells of the purple and white trefoil, and says of the white variety it is good for fattening cattle, but that it is also ground meal for consumption by the peasantry.  Spenser, the poet, also relates how, during the wars of Munster the escaped starvation by feeding on cress and ‘shamrokes’; and Fynes Moryson describes them as devouring herb of sharp taste, the acrid wood sorrel, one may fancy, ‘which as they run and are chased to and fro, they like beasts out of the ditches.’  If, however, the ditches contained water, the plant was probably cress, which still use as a garnish to our meat.

“The religious association of the shamrock, and its adoption as the emblem of Ireland, is due to an inspiration of pioneer of Christianity in that country:  After his landing St. Patrick found his pagan subjects in deep trouble the Trinity. Preach and argue as he might, he could not prevail on them to accept its possibility till, looking down on the earth, in the course of one of his homilies, he chanced to spy the little divided leaf of the shamrock. It exemplified his point to a nicety. Stooping he plucked it and showed how, though a leaf, it was yet three leaves in one. After the Irish accepted Christianity, they used the shamrock as their sign, the three leaves typing in their formulary, the national virtues of love, heroism, and wit. The leaf was already in general use as a defense against witchcraft in St Patrick's time, and many a peasant plucked a trefoil before he ventured across the moors and bogs where banshees cried and fairies stole the souls of wayfarers. It was the power of the shamrock indeed, over poisonous and maleficent things, which enabled St Patrick to drive the snakes from Ireland, for he had only to hold it toward them to see them go scuttling into the sea.”

From “Myths and Legends of Flowers…” by Charles Montgomery Skinner (source link above)

Well, no matter where you come down on the argument – may the luck of the Irish be with you always.

Check out my entire collection of Kansas Wildflowers in Oil

Comment on or Share this Article

Artists to Watch in 2012 on WIBW

The Bee's Secret for the Echinacea

The great folks at WIBW will be prempting their 13 News @ 4 show for the Arts on February 6th. Please set your DVR's to see a sample of what the arts community in Topeka has to offer. The show will consist of three segments that will feature several art venues and as one of those segments, three artists: Marylin Horsch, Michael Allen and Michelle Leivan (I always wanted to prempt a show!) were interviewed by John Ary last month to talk about the the Artists to Watch in 2012 show at SouthWind Gallery. 

Because I know you can't wait to see the show, here is a different short YouTube video from SouthWind Gallery where they asked several of the Artists to Watch in 2012 what the best advice they've ever been given was. This video is sure to spur you on as an artist. And, the exhibit is sure to amaze you. So, if you have not already done so, I would recommend getting over to SouthWind Gallery to see the works from these regional artists! SouthWind Gallery, 3074 SW 29th St., Topeka, KS through February 15, 2012.

Artists to Watch in 2012
January 6 - February 15, 2012
SouthWind Gallery
29th and Oakley
Topeka, KS 66614

Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Artists to Watch in 2012, is an exciting new show featuring the work of 10 artists. The common thread that links the artists is their high level of talent and an all-consuming passion for creating art.

The artists range in age from 20-somethings to Baby Boomers. The show features over 65 pieces of art and includes all genres including figurative, landscape and still-life works in a variety of mediums. The intriguing subject matter ranges from abstract prairies scenes, to realistic portraits of working cowboys, and from the hard steel and concrete of local architecture, to sensual wild flowers spilling out of a porcelain vase. The paintings vary widely in size, from huge oversized canvases to miniatures.

The featured artists are: 
Michael James Allen (Topeka); Jim Clements (Eldorado); Jane Flanders (Lawrence); Doug Frye (Topeka); Marilyn Horsch (Lawrence); Michelle Leivan (Topeka); Cheryl Heller Olsen (Council Grove); Jeannie Pflumm (Lenexa); Richard Prather (Garland, TX); and Deb Schroer (Strong City).

Comment on or Share this Article

Meet the Artists to Watch in 2012!

Pollination Anticipation

Please join me and my artists friends on First Friday for Artists to Watch in 2012 on February 3, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at SouthWind Gallery, 29th & Oakley, Topeka, KS 66614 785.273.5994.  If you can't make it to the artist reception, please stop by and see the show Mon-Fri 10-6 and Sat 10-4 or visit online at http://www.southwindartgallery.com/ 

Artists to Watch in 2012, is an exciting new show featuring the work of 10 artists. The common thread that links the artists is their high level of talent and an all-consuming passion for creating art.

The artists range in age from 20-somethings to Baby Boomers. The show features over 65 pieces of art and includes all genres including figurative, landscape and still-life works in a variety of mediums. The intriguing subject matter ranges from abstract prairies scenes, to realistic portraits of working cowboys, and from the hard steel and concrete of local architecture, to sensual wild flowers spilling out of a porcelain vase. The paintings vary widely in size, from huge oversized canvases to miniatures.

Here is a short video about what inspires each artist!

The featured artists are: 
Michael James Allen (Topeka); Jim Clements (Eldorado); Jane Flanders (Lawrence); Doug Frye (Topeka); Marilyn Horsch (Lawrence); Michelle Leivan (Topeka); Cheryl Heller Olsen (Council Grove); Jeannie Pflumm (Lenexa); Richard Prather (Garland, TX); and Deb Schroer (Strong City).
Artist Reception, February 3rd
Artists to Watch in 2012
January 6 - February 15, 2012
SouthWind Gallery
29th and Oakley
Topeka, KS 66614

Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Comment on or Share this Article

Artists to Watch in 2012 Exhibit Opening

"Bees Knees on Echinacea II" currently at the SouthWind Gallery, Topeka

"Artists to Watch in 2012", is an exciting new show featuring the work of 10 artists. The common thread that links the artists is their high level of talent and an all-consuming passion for creating art.

The show features over 65 pieces of art and includes all genres including figurative, landscape and still-life works in a variety of mediums. The paintings vary widely in size, from huge oversized canvases to miniatures.

Participating artists: Michael Allen (Topeka), Jim Clements (El Dorado), Jane Flanders (Lawrence), Doug Frye (Topeka), Marilyn Horsch (Lawrence), Michelle Leivan (Topeka), Cheryl Heller Olsen (Council Grove), Jeannie Pflumm (Lenexa), Richard Prather (Garland, TX), and Deb Schroer (Strong City)
January 6 - February 15, 2012

Opening Reception, January 6, 2012 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

SouthWind Gallery
29th & Oakley - Topeka, KS

Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Comment on or Share this Article

Sunflower CIRQUE - Warehouse 414 - Oct 7.

End of the Season Oil on canvas one of three pieces accepted in Sunflower CIRQUE at Warehouse 414.

Three Michelle Leivan sunflower pieces,  Apollo in DelphosFacing the Evening Sun, Apollo in Delphos Facing the Morning Sun and End of the Season are 3 of 77 pieces accepted in: 

Sunflower CIRQUE

Exhibiting works of art centered around sunflowers . . . about sunflowers or made from sunflowers!

Event Dates: 10/7/2011 - 11/12/2011
Reception: 10/7/2011 5:30pm - 8:30pm
Location: Warehouse 414
414 East Second Street
Topeka Kansas

Exhibition open October 7 - November 12

Comment on or Share this Article

Kansans Paint Kansas - Topeka Art Guild Opening Oct. 7

One of three accepted entries of Michelle Leivan's in the Kansans Paint Kansas Competition

Topeka Art Guild & Gallery Hosts it’s Annual “Kansans Paint Kansas” Fund Raiser and Art Competition
A juried competition, open to Kansas artists and students.


Kansas artists come together in a collective art exhibit to benefit one of the biggest supporters of the arts in the North East Kansas area.

Statewide artists submitted Kansas inspired subject matter to be included for consideration in this juried competition. Both traditional and progressive art mediums are represented from artists in all levels of their career. All juried entries are available for sale providing an opportunity to buy art from Kansas artists as well as support the oldest continuing art organization in the City of Topeka. This exhibit was jurored by Judith Mackey an award winning a professional artist of 40 years and a native Kansan who resides in the Flint Hills of Kansas, paints

what she is most familiar with—landscapes of the prairie, working cowboys and the ranch life that surrounds her rural Chase County home. She agreed to judge our newest show, Kansans Paint Kansas. The Topeka Art Guild is grateful for her giving her time and expertise to our big fundraising event. It is an honor to have her participate.

Judith will be showing some of her paintings in the gallery along with the Kansans Paint Kansas show. If you haven’t seen her work before this will be a great opportunity for you to see beautiful Kansas art by Mackey and other members of the Topeka Art Guild.

Opening Reception for Kansans Paint Kansas will be held on Friday October 7, 2011 from 5 - 8pm during the First Friday Art Walk, juror Judith Mackey will be present. The Topeka Art Guild Gallery is located at 5331 SW 22nd Place, Topeka, KS 66614 at Fairlawn Shopping Plaza. This event is free to the public and will continue through November 2011.

Comment on or Share this Article

Pale Purple Coneflower Above a Patchwork Plain

Pale Purple Coneflower Above a Patchwork Plain

This piece has been accepted in the Buttonwood Art Space 3rd Annual Visions of the Flint Hills Benefit and Sale.

Come out and help my fellow artists and I support the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and the Flint Hills of Kansas.

VISIONS OF THE FLINT HILLS BENEFIT AND SALE is a juried exhibit featuring art of the Flint Hills. The exhibit will run from October 7, 2011 thru November 25, 2011, in the Buttonwood Art Space (www.buttonwoodartspace.com ), 3013 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri. Partial proceeds from the event benefit a non-profit organization which promotes the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and the Flint Hills of Kansas. www.visionsoftheflinthills.org

Gallery Hours:
Monday through Friday - 9:00 am to 5 pm
Sundays and Evenings by Appointment
First Friday October 7th and November 4th, 2011 - Open House Food/Drink 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm

JURORS: Jamie Lavin, Buttonwood Gallery Director.

Artist's Comments:

Pale Purple Conflowers are a favorite subject of mine. Here I found them looking over a Kansas landscape known as the Flint Hills near the Konza Prairie Reserve in Riley County. The beauty of the Flint Hills in Kansas is unrivaled and many artists are inspired by them.

The Flint Hills are steep-sloped and overlain by shallow limestone soils unsuitable for cultivation. This region contains the largest remaining area of tallgrass prairie in North America since the majority of the Konza Prairie and the surrounding landscape have not been plowed. To learn more about the Konza Prairie go to http://keep.konza.ksu.edu/friends/

Comment on or Share this Article

Tinkham Veale - in September

Bees Knees on Echinacea

Beginning First Friday Art Walk from 5:30 - 8:30 on September 2nd through September, several Leivan Kansas Floral oil paintings are available at the Tinkham Veale Gallery,909 1/2 S. Kansas Avenue, Topeka Kansas. This group of paintings are among the most recent oil painting created during the last few months and include Hidden Garden Red Poppies, Trumpet Flower Trio Playing Taps, That is a Very Nice Way - Sunflower, Daffodil Delight East, Daffodil Delight West and Bees Knees on Echinacea. The gallery hours are First Friday Art Walk and Top City Thursdays evenings. Michelle's long-standing love affair with the flowers of Kansas is gloriously represented in this new collection.

A 1996 study conducted by Virginia Lohr and others showed that rooms and offices decorated with plants and flowers helped sacrifice stress as measured by decreased blood pressure and pulse rates. Researchers have further determined that there is also a correlation between flowers and being satisfied with life. In another study it was demonstrated that flowers will improve a person’s mood by decreasing anxiety, depression and agitation.


Decorating your home or office with Michelle’s colorful floral art instead of fresh flowers, allows you to include flowers in your decor that will never die, dry out or fade. Having blossoms filled with personality as an element in your home can be a positive influence for both inhabitants and visitors because they make a home more welcoming and create an inviting atmosphere. With their versatility and universal appeal, floral paintings go well in any room of your home or office. In a living room or dining room they add a degree of sophistication; in the bedroom they add romance to the ambiance.


 Also at Tinkham Veale Gallery:

The silent auction fundraiser for Doodle it Downtown is coming to an end this First Friday Art Walk, September 2nd. To view and bid on the pieces go to the foyer of The Tinkham Veale Gallery,909 S Kansas Avenue. This will be your opportunity to own one of these amazing pieces. The programs offered by Downtown Topeka,Inc. and Topeka Parks &Recreation Foundation will both benefit from the Auction.

Sponsored by local business, the artists created their pieces on 26″x 40″paper outside during record heat from Noon to 7:30 pm on July 28th. Among the participating artists was Art Print Express’ sponsored Michelle Leivan who painted a sunflower “Ad Astra Apollo” pictured in chalk.

Comment on or Share this Article

End of the Season - Sunflower

End of the Season - Sunflower

The sunflower faithfully tracks the sun through a late summer watching the evening sun set and soon returns toward the east to meet the morning. This sunflower shows the wear and tear of an entire season. On occasion I find myself feeling more and more cynical about the world we live in and this sunflower echoes the withering of my optimism. It seems every time I tune into the world today whether it is on TV, Radio or on the Internet, I am inundated with disaster, murder, war and loss of various degrees. It is exhausting!

However, we must remember that with the passage of time come eternal change and the promise of a new day just as the change of each season. When I feel overwhelmed by the media and the pessimistic events of our day, I rummage around in my mind for a bit of comfort. Lately I’ve found an item of peace with an ancient observation offered by King Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and later brought into pop culture in the ‘60’s by Pete Seeger of the Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn, to Everything There is a Season.”  

Turn, Turn, Turn - The Byrds

To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of peace, I swear it’s not too late

Comment on or Share this Article

Ensley Echinachea

16"x20" oil on canvas

Michelle Leivan at Ensley Gardens
Ted Ensley Gardens
Art Competition and Sale
A fundraiser for the Friends of Ted Ensley Gardens
Sunday, September 19, 2010
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Garden House at Lake Shawnee, 37th & West Edge Rd.
(Refreshments served)

In June, SouthWind Gallery invited 35 artists to participate in a one-day plein air painting competition at the beautiful Ensley Gardens at Lake Shawnee. Shown is a photo of me (taken by Dylan Clemmons) painting my "Ensley Echinachea" pieces near a fantastic collection of purple coneflowers in Ensley Gardens.

The paint-out is part of a fundraising event organized by the Friends of Ted Ensley Gardens. The public is invited to attend the juried art exhibit and sale on Sunday, September 19, 2010, from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., at the Garden House at Lake Shawnee, 37th & West Edge Road. Jurors for the art competition are Gary Blitsch and Sharon Hotchkiss of SouthWind Gallery.

The World Class Ensley Gardens would not be possible without the public and private partnership created between Friends of the Ted Ensley Gardens and Shawnee County Parks & Recreation. All proceeds from the art sale will be used to support local artists and to ensure that the Ted Ensley Gardens remain "World Class Gardens" for all to enjoy. *

View additional artwork online at SouthWind Gallery: www.SouthWindArtGallery.com.

To learn more about the Friends of Ensley Gardens or to volunteer, contact Shawnee County Parks and Recreation at 267-1156.  

*Sales Proceeds: Participating Artists will receive 60 percent and Friends of Ensley Gardens will receive 40 percent.  

Comment on or Share this Article

Tulips and Daffodils found a home

My Facebook posts led to my most recent paintings, "Daffodils - Signs of Spring" and "Easter Tulips" to find a home tonight. As with many art buyers there is a story. Identical twin grand-daughters, one who loves daffodils and the other who loves tulips inspired the purchase of these two paintings. Grandma wanted something unique and beautiful in her house that reflected her beloved girls. I love this story, it is art sold for exactly the way art should be acquired and is the exact reason why I paint. There is not a better complement than to find that your work makes a connection and for it to bring a lifetime of joy and memories for another person. Thank you Jeanie!

Comment on or Share this Article

Daffodils Signs of Spring

10"x8" Oil

These beautiful daffodils made it through the snowy weekend of the first of spring. I am so thankful to see them in bloom after the long, snowy winter. My cabin fever has finally broken and I look forward to more flowers in the garden and on the roadside yet to be discovered and painted. Daffodils are not my usual flower to paint, I typically prefer the wildflowers of Kansas, but I loved doing this piece. The weather isn't ideal to paint outside,yet... so I photographed these and painted in my studio, I just couldn't bring myself to cut any of them. The three dimensional quality of the bloom provided a much need challenge for this weekend's painting fun. I continue to experiment with oils and I am finding that with experience comes confidence, isn't that the way it is with everything. One of these days, soon, I'll be ready for some plein aire pieces straight out of the Flint Hills.

Comment on or Share this Article

Wine Bottle Lamp with Corks and a Scarf

10"x8" oil on canvas

Here is my newest painting another cabin fever inspired still life. These items were just hanging out around the house, just begging to be painted. I am still getting used to using oils and haven't quite found my comfort zone yet. I am less intimidated by the medium and am willing to reach out and explore a bit more. I hope to be out capturing fresh new Kansas Wildflowers soon!

Today is the first day of Spring and I can't wait until spring has finally sprung for real.  This weekend we had over 6 inches of snow to blanket the green promises that were just barely spoken of last week. It looks as if the snow is going to clear quickly as there are a few patches of green already breaking through the new blanket.

One evening last week, when our highs hit the low 70's, I spent some time on our deck picking up the various debris acquired over the long winter, inspecting and rearranging the outdoor furniture in anticipation of a new season. I also made a pass around the house looking for the various flowers and discovered some new sprouts of the purple cone flowers, daffodils and tulips preparing for the glorious season. Also, I rummaged around the back shed, inspected my electric scooter and made sure it was plugged in and ready for it's maiden journey of wildflower discovery for the year, just to have my hopes for this weekend dashed. Such is life, maybe next weekend, at least everything is ready to go.

Comment on or Share this Article

Orange and Grapes

Orange and Grapes 8"x10"

Not my usual subject matter but it was snowy and I had cabin fever! I also had a strong desire to paint and these were just sitting in the fridge begging to be painted. It was a lot of fun treking down an unexplored path. The last few months have been full of distractions and it was so refreshing to do something completely different.

Comment on or Share this Article