Tag Archives: painting explanation

La Maison Rouge

The Red House- a series of work exploring the jagged side of our lives and the hope that is always underlying.

These are the sort of pieces that boil up. It’s not during the happy or easy times, it is during the times where art is a true refuge and escape for me. When everything- every…single… thing… about everything- is bugging me. Or when the current state of the world is just too much to take in peacefully. For when you feel like you need to let IT out- whatever it is.

This series is about the inner emotional darkness we all face. I don’t want this darkness to be mixed in and confused with the darkness of evil. Think of this more like the darkness of your own room at night. Familiar, sometimes a little scary, but in the end necessary and comforting as a balancing point of your life. Another way to think of it would be night vs. day. Just because it gets dark at night it doesn’t mean it’s bad. (If this is making you a little uncomfortable, that’s the whole point of the pieces. Also, read to the end of this post where I will share some very personal ways that I deal with my own dark times.)

La Maison Rouge

La Maison Rouge, Oils and Mixed Media, Art Box.

This piece is the first of The Red House pieces I created. For a long time it was the only one of it’s kind. I haven’t done too much with it because my husband loved it so much, it has by default become a part of our “permanent collection” of my art that is in our home.

My original thoughts were:

It’s not really snow, but my mind knows what it is, even though it doesn’t really have a name…

This piece is about the storms in the mind that seem to blow around and over us as a blizzard. Completely blocking out the rest of life for a while, giving you a bit of tunnel vision or isolation. Suddenly, it’s quiet, and you see the blizzard is over and the storm has created such intricate beauty you almost cannot take it in.


Fractured, 6 x 12, oils on canvas

My original thoughts:

It’s ok if you’re feeling this now. I am too. Don’t be afraid to look down into the crack. Just remember that you are going to climb up out of there when you’re done.

This piece is about the those sudden jagged crevasses that can appear: in our lives, relationships, work, church, or anywhere we thought we were on solid ground– but it turns out we weren’t. This is the main part of looking into what you are avoiding. By confronting it and staring into it, you will see the bottom and be able to climb up and out.

After The Rift

The Rift, 20 x 24, Oils on canvas

Now this piece is about the permanent rift that has occurred. We’ve all done it. Built our house on shifting sands in one way or another. Damaging or unhealthy habits, relationships, patterns, jobs, friends, people… every once and a while (hopefully) you come to understand you are at the point of no repair. Built on a fault line, this was destructive and doomed from the start.

The Bridges We Build

The Bridges We Build, 14 x 18, oils on canvas

That ground seemed so firm and sound. Yet the crack grew and grew. We are more similar than we are different, yet we are suddenly so far apart. The bridge must be made, rickety at first, but the fact that it’s there will mean everything.

This piece is showing the way to move forward. Start taking that action towards repair. Step by step, that rickety bridge will seem more and more sure. Reaching out a hand of peace is almost never returned by a slap. If so, recognize the fracture and leave the bridge to be used by future ones on the same journey.

Finally, the Hope that I have

For the betterment and growth of my art career, I am advised over and over again to not address politics of religion. But at the risk of bad opinions, I find that I cannot share and express this extremely personal part of my inner self without expressing it in it’s entirety. Since we have approached a very personal topic, I feel it is appropriate to share a bit more of my inner self to close the loop.

My paintings over and over again have an undertone of struggle plus hope. There is always hope at the end of the journey, a light at the end of the tunnel. This is usually expressed in the form of roads without end, or vanishing into a sky full of vibrant and expressive swirling paint.

These pieces are no different, though the swirling paint is depicted in grays, blacks and whites. That is because this world of the Red House is a little more grim, darker, more about the times that are not so easy. Even though the colors have been zapped for this series, the hope is still there, the message is the same. From time to time we need to peer into our own dark room, but we have the ability to flip the light back on.

For me, the main component of this hope and light is my personal faith in Jesus Christ and the resurrection from death, the forgiveness of sins, and the restorative healing and redemption that is offered through Jesus’ death on the cross. This is the ultimate light at the end of the tunnel. Though this life is full of constant struggle, trial, hardship, pain, suffering, confusion and a general lost feeling– through knowing Jesus and what He has done for me, I know that through it all I can continue to have hope. I hope and trust that God is guiding us, leading me personally through this journey called life, and calling me to heaven at the end of my time. God’s providence is evident to me every day, and the more I seek him, the more I am found every day. The swirling paint often depicts this overlying hope I have of a greater plan, a higher calling, someone who actually knows what is going on. Without God I would be lost. Just as I cannot envision myself as anything but a crazy oil painter, I cannot not physically, mentally, spiritually see how I exist without faith in God.

I will close with saying that I am not sorry if this offends you, after all, you read this far! I hope you can see this for what it is, a personal expression of my inner thoughts. This is not telling anyone what to think or believe, but simply sharing more into how the works came to be. If you’d like to hear more about either subject, please contact me directly and i’m here- real as ever- to build bridges and see that we are more alike than we are different.

Feeling Surreal

I’ve been working out some thoughts on canvas over the past few weeks, that have turned out especially dreamlike and surreal. Here they are, with my brief thoughts and explanations:

(Up) Rooted

Do you ever feel untethered yet secure at the same time? This image came to my mind after viewing pictures from the horrible land hurricane that came through Iowa this week just north of where I live. There is a picture of a little girl sitting on an uprooted tree in her yard, leaning against the roots, peacefully reading her book. To feel security in uncertainty is a wonderful paradox and I can relate.

(Up) Rooted, 8 x 16


Landmines. Pitfalls. Open wounds. Old scars.

This piece is about the road of some of our relationships and how we must navigate to sustain them and carry on with hope for a peaceful future.

Pitfalls, 18 x 24

Beneath the Pitfalls

A view of what it looks like underneath the street full of pitfalls. It’s actually not too bad under there.

Beneath the Pitfalls, 12 x 24
Pitfalls and Beneath the Pitfalls. Pitfalls is 18 x 24, Beneath the Pitfalls is 12 x 24.

Illusion of Control

The illusion of control. This year has called it to the forefront for pretty much everyone at once. At times I feel like time is just clipping on and we are along for the wild ride, despite the boxes we try to contain it in. We are a small part of the bigger picture, but that doesn’t diminish the magnitude of how things look from where we are.

Illusion of Control, 16 x 20
Kismet and Profusion Of Choices, 2019

Painting Explanation: Kismet and Profusion (Of Choices)

Kismet and Profusion Of Choices, 2019
Kismet and Profusion Of Choices, 2019

Kismet is another word for destiny- which is depicted here by the warm sky, turning to a dark red swirling center. All of our lives have a certain destiny- ever evolving and changing. It is always before us in the distance- at times ominous, other times hopeful- but always inevitable. Our lives will happen and end and this is inescapable.

What we have is an infinity (profusion) of choices before us, which is depicted by the vast sands, full of paths and journeys. Victories, pitfalls, joys, pains, memories, dreams and nightmares are all laid out in the millions of choices we make.

Though there are many options, they all lead us to our eventual destiny in the distance- or maybe it is not as far away as we think.

Image inspired by this photo by my good friend who travels the world, Wayco Beckman:

Painting Explanation: From That Fiery Place

That Fiery Place (2018) By Annie Swarm Guldberg

From that Fiery Place

The Fire is inside the house but it is not burning it up. It is also expanding and growing out side the house, swirling in the sky. To me, this painting is about that passion or drive that we have- at times burning us up inside. When it has a chance to get out, it only grows and becomes more fervent.

For me, this passion is art. It has always been art, and I hope it always will be. I shouldn’t say always, because I wasn’t born doing art- it was only through my schooling that I discovered my passion for art, specifically oil paints. I remember some passion driven art pieces going all the way back to a cotton ball and crayon creation in preschool. I had such a vision for what I wanted to make with the materials! (It was an alien ship). This continued, but flitting from medium to medium until my mom found a box of oil paints being thrown out and brought them home to me to try. It was love- true, burning and fervent. That was 20 years ago and the passion has only grown. It has not consumed me but spread into the atmosphere around me.

Painting is my fire- what is yours?

This painting is available for purchase here.

Painting Explanation: Flooded

Flooded, 2016

The waters begin to rise.  You panic.  You rush around, trying to stop it.  You pray, you plead, you fear.  But they continue to rise.  And rise.  And rise some more.  Until you can struggle against it no more.  It is happening whether you like it or not. And finally you slow down in exhaustion and acceptance, and you breathe.  You peacefully remember that your head is still above water, and you can still breathe.  And that is a blessing.  

Sooner or later, the waters will recede.  Your life might be unrecognizable from where it was before, but does it matter? You are still in there.  And once the waters drain, you will be able to see, if only a little at a time, what you should do next.

Powers of Recall by Annie Swarm Guldberg

Painting Explanation: Powers of Recall

Powers of Recall by Annie Swarm Guldberg
Powers of Recall by Annie Swarm Guldberg

Our histories, memories and experiences are all woven together to the fabric that colors and guides our decisions, days and futures.   They all touch other memories, connect, blend and effect each other.  One thing leads to another, leads to another.  They all come together and make us who we are, waking, sleeping and decision making.  Speaking, praying and thinking to ourselves in those quiet times.  The joys and the tragedies are all there, whether conscious and clear, or mostly forgotten and hazy.  Each one is our own personal heritage and powerfully guides us as we continue on.

Watch the video of The Powers of Recall coming together