Linnie Aikens Arts and Letters • HeART Haven Studios

Foggy Morning, Westmont College, Montecito, CA


I have 42 journals. So many times over the years, I’ve seriously contemplated destroying them; honestly, what does one do with 42 journals?...especially given my simplified lifestyle.  This morning, I think about all of those mornings sitting and writing in them and liken the experience to a not-unusual Santa Barbara day.  


Like the foggy, dark mornings, I begin a journal entry each day with a vague disquiet or pensiveness, like I’m sluggishly swimming in a thick soup of fog as I ponder whatever problem needs to be solved that day.  Not that my life is full of problems.  It’s not.  I have a good life, full of joys and wonder.  Yet, all of our lives have their share of daily things to work through.  Mine is no different...some more complicated than others and some less.  As I begin to write, vague ideas and thoughts drift in, answers that seem to have shadowy outlines, but no real definition or color immediately.  I keep writing...praying, actually. Journaling is often my prayer time, the time I talk to God in the quiet of the morning.


As I write, invariably, line, colors, shapes materialize out of the fog as the sun peaks through, just as ideas begin to formulate and solutions drift in with the morning sun spotting the landscape. These are my talks with God, and I don’t doubt for a moment that He is there -- that He is answering me.  Sometimes the fog hangs around for a bit longer, like a great grey stew, but I’ve lived long enough and journaled through many years.  I know that answers come.  They always do.  They may not be in the form I was hoping for or expecting, but I know that they are always benefitting someone somewhere.  I am only a small part of the greater part of God’s story, and I know that a no answer to me means that there’s a yes answer to someone else as a result that better effects His plan.  Over the course of several decades, I feel blessed to have been privvy much later to how an unwanted or unexpected answer’s results were used for good somewhere, in someone’s life (even my own).


Without the foggy mornings of my life, I would not truly be able to appreciate the clarity of a bright, clear day.


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Cathedral Spires, Yosemite, CA


Often the dark moments of my life sometimes feel like these photo, taken by a close friend of mine.  Dark, cold, stormy, backlit by light and the promise of warmth and clear skies. I would call this perhaps the Autumn of my Life. Cold rain and snow of life makes it more difficult to move and see one’s direction, but if I look up, beyond the trees, beyond the clouds, I see the stark beauty of the snow-laden, jagged peaks of my life.  Climbing them may feel torturous at times, and certainly strenuous and sometimes defeating if I allow it, but the work in climbing them teaches me new things about myself.  I have the promise of a summit view, full of light and clarity when I arrive.  The view and understanding is at the top. The contrast is stunning and beautiful in itself, and I would be remiss in not appreciating it for want of an easier time of life.


All photos in this blog entry are copyrighted by Kelly Lindsay and require permission to be used outside this blog. All text used in this blog entry are copyrighted by Author of this website, unless otherwise indicated, and permission is required to use any image or text.

Shoreline Park, Santa Barbara, CA


I love Autumn and Winter sunrises.  They’re simultaneously inspiring and reflecting for me. As I sit or stand in the cold on the sea cliff, waiting to capture the sunrise on “film”, although a picture of that magnitude is just really impossible to duplicate in its full grandeur, I reflect on my life, my goals and where I’m at right now in relation to those goals. Every year as my birthday approaches I am vice-gripped by the feeling that I am not making enough of a mark, not enough of a difference in life, for others, for God, for me. 


I am such a driven person, but I wonder if not it’s more ego talking in the desire to leave a mark. If the mark is unattached to my name, perhaps that’s more altruistic and Godly?  I don’t know.  My goal should be to simply love others and praise God with the gifts and love He has given me.  Nothing else.  Any recognition or acknowledgement should be unnecessary.


I’ve always struggled with this.  Growing up, I was raised to think of myself as the least of all people and “not better than anyone else....ever.”  I vaguely recall this as being scriptural, but I was always challenged by the line between putting others first and being a doormat....or conversely, using that as an excuse to not achieve great things.  I feel the desire to achieve and create great things for God is given to me BY God.  It’s one way that He glorifies himself -- through our long as we always acknowledge God as having given us any talents, intelligences and/or gifts that led to those accomplishments.


All that to say, I have this drive to paint and enrich the world with beauty and creativity. That said, maybe I should just be giving my paintings away then?  What to do?


So I just paint and paint and paint and keep checking in and reminding myself to keep my heart right with God.  


All photos and text used in this blog are copyrighted by Author of this website, unless otherwise indicated, and permission is required to use any image or text.

First Solo Art Show (Oct. 2015 - Feb. 2016) The Java Station, Santa Barbara, CA 

In the past 2 1/2 years since I threw all caution to the wind, quit my “lucrative” career in teaching, all to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming an artist, many a time I wondered what on earth I’d been thinking!  The first lesson learned; teaching IS lucrative--it just depends on your perspective!  MY perspective previously had been comparing myself to other professionals with similar education, and raising two daughters on my own.  My perspective now is from living on 1/3 of that income in Santa Barbara and having to rent rooms in others’ homes...but that’s a story for another day (and I have those in abundance)!


This weekend I put up my first solo show at the Java Station, a wonderful local coffee house, which years ago had been converted from a gas station.  It’s casual-funky in the local sort of way that the old Mesa Coffee House was, or Muddy Waters, both now gone, sadly.  I love that the owners painted the Java Station in the fun colors, as depicted in my painting.  I feel so blessed that they liked my work so much that they asked me to leave it up for four months or so....unheard of normally.  They really do need better lighting for showing artwork, though, but maybe my show will prompt them to do that.  Thank you to David and Noah for allowing me to exhibit there.  

The above is a painting I did for Java Station in thanks.


All photos and text used in this blog are copyrighted by Author of this website, unless otherwise indicated, and permission is required to use any image or text.

Outdoor Painting Studio, Santa Barbara, CA


I can be engrossed for hours, standing in the sun, painting.  It fills me with such indescribable (although I’m trying!) peace, contentment, excitement and rejuvenation all at once.  Sometimes I just can’t wait to get home from work to paint, and sometimes it does feel like I work so that I can come home and paint!  While I absolutely, truly loved teaching, with all of my heart (the actual teaching and working with students side of it), I never had a single moment of time to create myself.  To be honest, even if I had had the time, I was so completely exhausted physically, emotionally, and mentally that I just didn’t have anything in me to create.  I’m not one of those tortured artists who is does their best work when, well, when they’re feeling tortured!  Granted, I know suffering and pain, anger and frustration have their place in artistic expression, and I have turned out some works in that vein too, but for me, it’s when I am happy and at peace with my life, that I am most inspired to paint and write.  For me, it’s an expression of my appreciation and praise to God for all we have been granted on this earth and beyond.


I finished 5 paintings in my Lotusland-inspired series, which I had immense fun doing, but suddenly got inspired to take a brushstroke birdwalk in a different direction.  The following are 3 paintings from a series of patio paintings, where the plants and furniture almost feel like they are active participants in the scene, rather than backdrop. 

"Afternoon Sundrops"


"Reading Nook"


Loving the outdoors as I do, I am most prone to using it as subject matter for painting. There are no hard a fast rules, styles or themes in my art.  I nod to rules but don't limit myself to them.  The ottomon in "Reading Nook", when painted with the correct perspective just looked boring, so I changed it back to just a little off kilter, that state of being often preferrable to me than the accepted and predictable.  You'll find this quirkiness often in my painting, and I'm good with it.  Hey, Cezanne and Van Gogh certainly didn't confine themselves to scientific laws of perspective, not that I equate my work with theirs!! The funny thing is, I was rejected (this time) from being inducted into the Santa Barbara Artist Association because my perspective was inaccurate in this painting! 


I paint where the fancy takes me.  I paint because I love it; not because I want people to buy it,  (Still, I want these to go to good homes of art-loving homes!)  This series evolved from a patio I saw and my fascination with dappled light.  The series evolved into me bringing outside a piece of otherwise “inside furniture” and creating a beckoning outside living space.  My favorite comment with these is “ooooh, I just want to go sit in that chair and read a book and listen to the birds”.  Some people watch movies to escape, others, books.  I want people to feel they can escape into another place when they view my paintings, or maybe view it with new eyes and hearts that help them appreciated the wonder of what is around them, sometimes unseen right under their nose!


My room is beginning to look like those European galleries in the 17th century, where paintings are hung floor to ceiling with barely space between them  I need to find a venue to show soon, or I’ll have to hang them as flags from the ceiling!


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This summer I follow the Volcanic Legacy Trail from my first night on the McCloud River, to a two days on the Oregon Coast, then follow the Rogue River inland, take a trip down the Rogue, visit Crater Lake National Park, Ashland, Mt. Shasta, Lava Bed National Park, Medicine Lake, then Lassen National Park.  Luckily, I’m traveling with a geologist and botanist expert to add to the learning experience!

Crater Lake, Oregon, at the northern end of the Volcanic Legacy Trail.

The Pinnacles created by the weathering of ash from the volcano and sculpted by the water runoff through the canyons.

Beautiful view of the islands in the middle of Crater Lake and the backlit clouds reflected across the water.

The REAL Batcave!  Lava Beds National Monument is woven with these batcaves created under the hardened lava flows in the area.  Bats really are hanging from their feet in them the farther back you go!

Another volcanic crater and bat cave opening, from the inside looking out.  Indian paintbrush flowers accented the barren land with their sharp bursts of color.

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Loon Point, Summerland, CA

Summerland is a tiny town, nay, suburb of Montecito, CA.  I actually think the town hasn’t decided if it’s really part of Carpinteria, however.  With the “town” a mere 4 blocks on Lillie you have the historic and celebrated greasy spoon, Stacky’s Seaside, sporting old nets fishing tools and gadget, lures, buoys and even tables and benches carved from old dories.  Then there’s Tinkers, which claims fame for it’s made-to-order hot dogs and burgers, where you can have grilled jalepenos and the works added to your dog. The rich and famous have indulged in both of these seaside dives, as celebrated in Los Angeles Magazine.  A slight step up may take you across the street to the Nugget, Summerland’s version of Woody’s...without the BBQ ribs, of course!  


One can’t forget the unforgettable Summerland Beach Cafe, with its old farmhouse feel and farmer’s portions.  It’s a local hangout on the weekdays and until 7:00-8:30 am on weekends, at which time the cowbells are delivered to your outdoor table to cheer on the racing cyclists who speed by with weekly regularity.  Yes, there are some newer wine and cheese places, where the hoity toity tout their bling and designer flip flops, but the rest of us avoid.  


The Big Yellow House, like a silent memory of the Grand Dame of Summerland, she sits alone and vacant at the top of the street. For those of us long time resident of the area, it was the elegant farmhouse, also with its farm portions served family style.  It’s where we visited with our families and family guests.  You felt like home without having to cook.


Menagerie, the Exotic Birds wooden house in the 3rd block of Lillie, is a reminder for those of us in the know, that many decades ago, a fire tore through the Montecito, that in and of itself, not such a rarity given the sundowners that frequent early Autumn each year, but this particular year, a very large aviary was destroyed, freeing hundreds of exotic birds into the local air.  Many have been caught over the years and reclaimed as pets, and many more pets are lured to join their ancestors in the Summerland skies and local trees.  It’s not uncommon to see flocks of parrots, parakeets and cockatoos perched upon the wires over our streets.  This is just one of the unique aspects of Summerland.


That and the train.  We know all the engineers by how long they sit on their horns as they fly through town.  One doesn’t let up once from Carpinteria to Goleta.  Still, at 2:07 5 am, we barely hear the horn or metal on metal track sounds anymore; the blare becomes one with the thunder of the stormy sea 0-5 blocks yonder from any Summerland house.  In my case, it’s 3.


Mail Delivery? What? Where?  It’s the bane of Summerland life.  Because the town is four blocks long and four blocks up...straight up, there is no mail delivery.  We are all required to have a PO box at the Summerland PO, but it’s only open M-F 11 am - 4 pm, with no package delivery and no Saturday hours, so if you work a full time job, then forget it!  It’s our own local catch 22. But maybe it reiterates that you must either be an old surfer hippie living out of the $15,000 beach shack you bought in the 50’s, or you’re so wealthy you don’t need to work.


Summerland, where you must own a dog to live here.  Yet it escapes me as to how I can be the only person in town who actually picks up after my dog.  Carry a flashlight, because the little land mines are frequent encounters along the hilly streets.  For a cozy little town, the people are not very neighborly here.  That still always surprises me.


ALAS, It’s the view of the ocean and the fact that you can see both the sunrise and sunset from your deck that sells this place though.  Old weathered beach shacks go for at least a million dollars here now, their homemade concrete shoring up on the sides, decorated with abalone and large local shells, landscaping a collage of tropical, eucalyptus, iceplant and exotic succulents and climbing cacti.  


You may have to drive 15-20 minutes for the necessities of living, but for many of us here, the necessities are more than met in sky and shore and sea air.  My morning newspaper is a quick consultation of the tide-charts, and my wake-up coffee is an hour-long walk on the beach before work.  My afterwork drink is another walk on the beach--of course, you have to time it so that you’re not trampled by the trainers exercising the polo club horses!  My collection of sea glass grows in time with my seashells and sea stones.  Life is more than good, and I don’t forget how lucky I am.


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Summerland Beach, CA


Life has been a quiet tempest around me for so many months as I, in essence, reinvent myself-- moving across country again, major career change and job hunting, establishing new priorities...and finally here I find myself walking in peace and joy along the beaches of my life.  The wind of uncertainty still whips my hair around at times, and the chilly waves of fear of the unknown lap at my feet, but the gentle roar of the ocean reminds me that I am alive, protected and invigorated to move forward.  While I may not know the future, my vision is clearer, more perceptive to the beauties and nuances of life and love.  My heart is at rest for the first time in years perhaps.  Stirring up one’s life and shaking it upside down, then right side up, often brings the best to the surface!  I am grateful for the, that is!


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