Tuesday, July 23, 2013

He Paints Memories

Life with an artist has its ups (a home filled with beautiful art) and downs (empty walls when he has shows going on at 3 different locations) and it also brings joy.

Now that I am no longer working, I am more of a participant in Steve Cook Studio and a recent experience made me realize something about his art.

Steve's art evokes memories for people - and he feels pretty good when someone walks away happy.

Last week a family from out of town called and wanted to come by the studio (our home) to look at paintings.

They purchased "Memorial Day" for their home in Fresno and as the wife took care of the payment, the husband shared with me why he had chosen the particular painting.

He grew up in Ventura and wanted a painting of his home town and the painting of the Ventura Pier evoked wonderful memories.

 Every 4th of July they would drive over from Fresno and take his mother, now deceased, to the pier to watch the fireworks.

When they look at the painting they think of his mother.

"Wedding Tree" was a commission by a young woman who wanted to give her brother and his new bride a special wedding present.

She asked Steve to paint the site of their wedding - Firestone Vineyard in Los Olivos.

"Pasture Buddies" was inspired by a drive through the roads of Los Olivos on a winery tour.

The painting was hanging on the wall in our dining room when a group of LA art patrons came for a tour of Steve's studio.

One of the women saw it and said she had to buy it because her father had been a Texas rancher and the painting reminded her of him.

Steve painted "Avalon" in the winter, posted it on facebook and within 2 hours it was sold.

Anne, who bought the painting, was born on Catalina Island and loves having a reminder of the island where she grew up.

I love to experience the reaction of someone seeing their painting for the first time.

"Coco on the Beach" was a recent commission for a neighbor's 40th birthday. 

We happened to be at the house when Michelle came home from a business trip and saw her birthday present hanging on the wall.

"Zephyr" was commissioned by friends who had lost their dog and wanted a memory of him.

When Heather saw the painting, she burst into tears - good tears - and Steve shed a few himself.

When they left, Steve commented that Heather's reaction was one of the most satisfying experiences of his art career.

"Silver Strand Afternoon" was recently purchased by another artist.

She has been looking at the painting for several years convinced that the person in the painting is her.

It might be, it might not be, but she doesn't care - it evokes special memories.

"Uncle's Fishes" is not the typical subject matter for Steve, but our friends Tom and Leslie commissioned the painting as a gift for Tom's uncle to commemorate a good day of fishing.

"Jennifer's House" was commissioned by a friend who realizes that she will not stay in the house forever and wants a memory of the home where she raised her children.

Two Tree Hill is a Ventura landmark and is the most frequent request from both people who live in town and those who have moved away and want a memory.

"June Lake 1958" was commissioned by neighbors who met, married and now have a mountain house in June Lake.

They came across an old postcard and asked Steve if he could paint the scene.

Steve contacted the photographer listed on the postcard for permission and not only did he agree, he sent Steve a large copy of the photo.

"Walderston" is a painting of the village where we lived for our first year in Jamaica and it will NEVER be sold (in my lifetime) despite the offers that have been made.

And we will hold onto "La Casita" - our house on the Caribbean Sea in Port Maria, Jamaica and our home when JP was born.

 "The Descendants" is another painting that will never be sold.

Steve took the photo as he walked behind KC, JP and me on the beach at Hanalei Bay last Christmas.

And now, that wonderful vacation memory hangs over our bed.

There are several very special "memory" paintings in our home that were not created by Steve.

In May, the staff of DATA threw a surprise retirement party for me.

I was already in tears after listening to the entire mariachi band play Las Golondrias ( a song for transitions in life), which they learned just for me, when they presented me with a gift.

The staff had commissioned my dear friend Wendy Lefkowitz, to paint a watercolor of the school where I taught for 24 years.

 The memory hangs in our hallway.

This little corner of the living room is a tribute to Steve's mentors.

An original John Comer painting was my gift to Steve on his 60th birthday.

The painting is of Refugio Beach which is a favorite camping spot for our family, but also the site of the workshop where Steve studied with John Comer.

This Ken Auster painting was a study Ken did at a workshop in Taos, New Mexico.

Steve purchased the painting at the end of the workshop as a reminder of the great time we had at Donner Ranch.

Steve is working on a new painting.

On a bike ride on the pier Steve snapped a photo of a father and son fishing.

Imagine the memories that this painting would evoke for both the little boy and the father.

Perhaps when he shows the painting, many different fathers or sons will think it is them and memories will flood back of a father/son day of fishing.

. . . . . . . . . . .

I am joining in at

Lavender Garden Cottage - Cottage Style Party

Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays

The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday


  1. These are wonderful paintings! Thank you for sharing them. I love the colorfulness and cleanliness of Steve's painting style. They are all so happy.

  2. I think this is one of my favorite posts! I love hearing the connection people have to a picture, a photo, a painting. I am 47, but still think about things I had, places I went as a kid. I search for them. They are meaningful. They gave us hope and promise and dreams as we grew. They evoke memories of grandparents,happy times, etc...I sooooo wish I had a photo of the inside of my grandpas tavern, OMalleys Tavern in downtown New Bedford, or the inside of the drugstore where my dad was a pharmacist. Your husband is a true talent. His style is so individual. I love that when someone receives one of his paintings, they receive a piece of the artists heart and soul as well! Thanks for sharing this very intimate look and history.

  3. Wow your husband is so talented!What beautiful paintings.And you are so lucky to be surrounded by such beauty!

  4. I am so, so enchanted with the paintings your husband has done. It is so nice to have a painting to hang on a wall in a frame as a keepsake instead of a photo. I like the yellow house and The Descendants of course.

  5. What talent, I love them all and see a few I would mind having. Wonderful work:)

  6. What talent, I love them all and see a few I would mind having. Wonderful work:)

  7. Wow, what amazing art and the memories just make it even better! I guess being an artist, and hearing about how people are emotionally smitten by your art, is similar to writers and hearing about how people are touched by something you've written. Thanks for sharing this with us!


  8. What talent, I love them all and see a few I would mind having. Wonderful work:)

  9. What a wonderful post! He is so talented! I love his paintings!

  10. My favorite post of the night. Steve's paintings evoked several memories for me even though I live on the East coast.

  11. Beautiful work it must be wonderful to have those on your walls.


    Creative Raisins

  12. What incredible paintings! I have always envied artists and picked up a paint brush for the first time in years last summer... I tend to be better with pastels and watercolor but my fiance loves his oil paints. I would love to have your husband paint our pup or the beach I grew up on! He is so talented and how lucky you are to be able to surround yourself with his beautiful works!

  13. Wow, your husband is soo talented and paints beautifuly, specially how he makes a work of art from your family memories...simply awesome! You're a lucky lady. My hubby paintstoo and I love what he does and I love the memorie idea, I'll propose it to him. Big hugs,

  14. WOW, your husband is so talented. His pictures are outstanding and I love them all. Many thanks for sharing his wonderful work with us.
    Happy Wednesday!

  15. I can see why he sells so may pieces of art. Congrats on getting to stay home now. I am so busy being retired i do not know what is coming up next. I love the cows and fish.

  16. Steve has a wonderful gift ~ I would love to take him to my favorite place in Los Osos and let him paint me something from there!

  17. I have said it before and I will say it again...his work has beautiful! His use of colors blows my mind! Every single one of those paintings absolutely drew me in!!! And oh how wonderful is that corner tribute wall! Inspiration all around!!!!

  18. I saw a painting I like here, and then another and then another and on and on. So many are fabulous, Coco on the beach, the pasture buddies, Avalon. Your husband is very talented and the stories are charming.

  19. Thank you so much for sharing so many of Steve's gorgeous paintings. He is so very talented! I absolutely love his style and the bright colors in most of the paintings. I so enjoyed reading the stories about who purchased each of the paintings as well as the stories behind the ones that will never be sold. Oh to be blessed with such a gift...I would love to be able to paint! Have a beautiful Wednesday...:)

    Blessings, Vicky
    Life On Willie Mae Lane

  20. So happy you shared these paintings. Steve is incredibly talented! My husband and I both appreciate fine art. It's a privilege to have beautiful paintings in one's home.

  21. fabulous!! i love so many but i think my favourite is refugio beach.

  22. All of his work is stunning but I'm especially drawn to the animals and the sea. I must get in touch with you about pricing for commission work. We have a beloved dog who I would love to commission for my hubs and I. He extremely talented. Hugs. Tammy

  23. Okay- Super talented and you can just FEEL the emotion in the pictures. Amazing work. I love that one of the dog. He looks like he is smiling-I can see why the girl burst into tears- xo Diana

  24. Wow! Steve is so talented! The way he captures light is amazing.

    We HAVE to get our guys together somehow!

  25. Your husband paints beautiful pictures. His style remindss me of 1930s paintings and look 'clean'. I can see why he has sold so many pictures.

  26. Oh my goodness...I do hope you get my comment here - but I'm coming via email as well because I want to make sure that you get my reaction. Carol, I had tears in my eyes by the end of this post. Please tell your husband that his work has moved my soul this morning....I'm coming via email. Anita

  27. Dearest Carol,

    I am copying an edited version of my email to you here.

    I am currently taking a poetry class and learning so much more about my intuitive tendencies for writing and also about the "mechanics" of poetry. I am loving this class because it is unlocking great secrets to the art of poetry.

    One of these secrets is something that again, I feel I've done by intuition - and what I EXPERIENCED this morning by looking at Steve's work. The "job" of the poet, as well as artist, is to evoke a REACTION from the reader/viewer. I've always felt this, but hearing it articulated by my teacher, and re-reading great poetry to study the "devices" that a poet uses to bring a reader to tears, anger, questions and so on, is what makes the art "ART."

    Steve's work is beyond words. It is MEMORIES. I am not only impressed by his technique (LOVE THE LOOK), but truly by how he captures light. Every painting from the sweet dog Zephyr to the beach scenes shines not only a light of the sun, but a light of memories. I have had this idea of the sun on my mind for literally YEARS, but your post today help bring out more of why LIGHT strikes me a certain way. It's about memory. Steve's work is sensational, and I just bet he could paint my memories. I just know it.

    I hope that in the near future, I could commission Steve to paint for me. I have several childhood photos that I could send him because I know that he is the one that can seize the memory I so NEED to hold in my hands and hang in my home.

    What is the smallest size canvas he is willing to do?

    Please contact me when you can to direct me to a place where I can see his prices. I am deeply moved by your post today, and truly, this is the light I've been looking for.



  28. I loved reading the stories behind each of Steve's paintings! They are all beautiful and I know are cherished by the new owners.

  29. I am just like that when it comes to pictures and paintings. I will see one that brings back memories and fall in love with it. Your Husband is truly gifted.

  30. Steve is amazingly talented...as if I need to tell you that!! I'm so glad you have some beautiful paintings full of memories that will never be sold. I'm sure it's a delight having so many people who want to tour Steve's studio and who appreciate his fabulous art!
    Mary Alice

  31. He paints memories
    Three words
    I love what Anita wrote
    It made me thinking ....how blessed one can be KNOWING what to wish for on a painting to have the memory .
    I think it is a wonderful question for when I have friends over to visit me ...
    If you could ask for a painting of a treasured memory ......what would it be !
    oh I am so greatful I found you thanks to Anita !
    big Hug

  32. pure awesomeness!!! snd I want that studio!!!!!!!!!!!1

  33. I enjoyed this post very much, how you explained that the paintings evoke vivid memories for people. They are striking on my little laptop screen. It must be incredible to see them on your walls. Gorgeous!


  34. Pretty wonderful! When I was last in SB my SIL and I looked up Steve's website. We loved what we saw of course! I remember a fantastic painting with light reflections on the surface of the ocean.
    Such a wonderful painter you live with!

  35. Beautiful Carol. Love this. Steve is so talented and has such a beautiful gift. Thanks for sharing this.

  36. Thank you so much for sharing your husbands talent! These are treasures for sure! I have one picture that I painted myself of our lake during July 4th. It was not a photo just from all the memories. It is one of my favorites! Your husband captures the heart of what we all want to keep so much! I love it! Best wishes!

  37. Amazing stories and talent . Thanks for the tour and the sharing of these great paintings.

  38. It is some lovely to see Steve wonderful pictures and share with us the memories it evokes for you and their owners, a fantastic post I enjoy reading so much.
    Sarah x

  39. I have always thought that Steve's work is stunning, but thank you for sharing more of his paintings. I am sure everyone would love to own one of his paintings, not only because they may evoke a memory but because his work is so 'alive'. I am not sure how else to describe it, but you get a sense of the sound of the sea, or the wind in the trees, dogs barking, people talking, a car driving by, and they give such a strong sense of the weather. They really are just so 'alive' !

  40. Wow, Steve is a brilliant and talented artist. You're so fortunate to have his beautiful paintings around you. I'd have a hard time parting with any of them, and it's good to know that certain ones will always be with you. Love the story of the woman thinking it's her in the picture...you never know. They're all fabulous, but my favorite is June Lake. Thanks for sharing.

  41. You really are blessed to be surrounded by so many gorgeous paintings and the memories they evoke! I admire his work very much. I also love the watercolor of the school you taught at, what a wonderful gift. Yes, you are blessed!


  42. Beautiful paintings, I can understand why you don't want to part with them.

  43. Oh, it's so wonderful to get to see your husband's beautiful art! He paints a lot of different scenes, doesn't he? I love beach scenes best and love Coco on the beach! Years ago, I had a Golden Retriever named Coco....I guess that's what you mean about the memories! Thanks for sharing! Sweet hugs!

  44. What a beautiful tour of your husbands art. He is so talented and so loved by you. How special for the two of you to have such beautiful memories together and to have such amazing keepsakes painted by him. I was in tears a few times as several paintings evoked memories in my life as well. thank you so much for sharing with all of us.

  45. Such a touching post! I really enjoyed seeing Steve's work and reading about the stories that go along with each piece! (For the record, I love Pasture Buddies!! :)

  46. Steve does such beautiful work! I can see why so many people are drawn to it. Looking at the paintings brings back many memories of the area for me. We have camped many times at Refugio!
    About your comment on my Sunday Sayings posts. I find my quotes here and there. Sometimes they are about what is going on in our lives, sometimes they reflect something that I've been thinking about, sometimes they have something to do with a holiday or special event, sometimes I need to find something short and to the point because I've got lots to do that day! I'd love to go see some of Steve's work in person. Mimi

  47. Steve's art is amazing because it's not just personal, he creates feelings in the people who look at it. I love how the paintings almost always have something lively and moving in them. Isn't making people happy the best job in the world?

  48. Thank you precious friend, for the memories - and for coming to view. Now to put some thoughts down into my beautiful book, that I held in my hands last night. Precious are you....Anita

  49. A gift well used.
    Thank you for sharing the beauty with us, Carol.

  50. I just had to come again. I showed MY husband your husband's work, and he too was moved. Please tell Steve once again how his art has piqued my memory, one July day in 2013....and I hope to have a small work soon.

    Ahhhh...sometimes miracles do happen in our midst. Anita

  51. What a wonderful post, paintings that evoke beautiful memories....

    I found you from Anita's post, and visited you yesterday in a hurry and came back today
    to enjoy again. I too am a painter, and often heard comments when I did art festivals,
    "this looks just like my husband and son on the beach" etc. ART ~ what a delightful way to keep a memory alive! Steve's work is beautiful!

    ~ Violet

  52. Many thanks for your comment on my blog, Carol. I hope your sister enjoys searching for the labyrinths! I am on school holidays soon, so shall continue my quest! Thanks for visiting! I love your husband's paintings. And hearts, too!

  53. A beautiful and touching post, I have tears in my eyes! Stopping in from dear friend Anita's blog, and I am so glad she featured your husband's gorgeous, and very meaningful, work...
    Blessings and Bravo to you both,
    - Irina

  54. I truly loved seeing all of Steve's paintings and the happy feelings he brought to people. What a satisfying thing to do. He can paint just anything!

  55. Carol I read this post on my IPhone yesterday and I couldn't leave a comment, but I'm so glad I returned to my computer because viewing these paintings on a bigger screen has been an amazing experience. Steve is so gifted. And I think this might be my favorite post of yours, I love how you wove in the stories and explained how each person felt such a emotional connection with Steve's works. I can't tell you how many times I've scrolled down just to look closer at the paintings. Simply moving. And thank you for sharing this with us. On a side note, I hope you and Steve are continuing to heal from your loss. It really does take time.
    blessings to you both

  56. Hi Carol,

    Your sweet husband is am amazingly talented artist! With each painting that I scrolled down to, I decided instantly that it was my favourite. This happened over seven times, until I finally stuck with 'Jennifer's House', mostly because I can't resist the enchantment of exteriors! All of his pieces are exquisite, as they truly do appeal to the senses, through our eyes, and finding a special place in our hearts.

    Thank you so much for sharing Steve's talent in this eloquently written exhibit.


  57. Lovely art by your husband. Thank you so much for sharing his amazing talent. I'm glad there are paintings that you are able to hold onto. I can't pick a favorite.

  58. Gorgeous art by your husband - thank you for sharing some of his work and the stories behind his paintings.

  59. Wonderful talent! I love the painting you've shown and how tender that many of them brought joy and tears! A true statement of his talent.


  60. What a beautiful beautiful post Carol - those paintings are magnificent and love that you shared the stories behind them - we often look at paintings as just that - forgetting the thought process that goes into each and every one of them - and that they are ALWAYS personal.
    I just loved this

  61. You know how jealous the rest of us are, right? We have prints and you have absolutely wonderful paintings done by your talented husband. They are all so beautiful and even better that they have memories attached.

  62. What a beautifully touching post, Carol! I'm not sure how I missed this over the summer. I found this post today by a random (or not) search for something else on Google. I'm just filled with emotion thinking about all the hearts touched by your husband making a decision to share his gift with the world! His artwork is just stunning and I can just imagine your joy at having those special pieces in your home that speak to the memories you and Steve and your family share. So truly wonderful!