Author Archives: Renee Bates

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. To see what she's working on, visit her website: www.reneebatesartist.com. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

Eclipsed

Last week’s eclipse, experienced by millions in the swathe of totality across the United States, was a unifying moment in time.  I’m still savoring that feeling of looking up at something so miraculous, set against a temporary daytime dark sky, marveling at the spectacle with friends and strangers. Science tells us when and how to expect these special events of nature every year, and way into the future.  I loved the feeling that, as human beings, no matter what our stations in life, we were all equals, viewing something beyond our control, outside of ourselves, yet something that impacted us in a similar way.  I viewed the eclipse with a group of about eighty.  It seemed to touch us on a deeply personal level. I am grateful for something that brought us together as feeling-good-together human beings at a time when our country was deeply divided.

Space and atmosphere are dependable, and yet unpredictable. Scientists can tell us with accuracy when, and where, and to what degree, eclipses will happen all over the Earth. There are those persons who are drawn so much to these consistently true marvels that they focus their travels to seeing the total eclipses around the globe.

Weather, somewhat predictable, yet uncontrollable, has a keen fascination for me.  I like the surprise of a storm. Of course, I don’t like it at its harshest. This week’s event brings another unifying moment for Americans: concern and care for our Texas neighbors experiencing the hurricane, Harvey. This is a historic flood, even worse than what we Nashvillians suffered in 2010. Having been the recipient of volunteer help at that weather event, it does my heart good to see many people reaching out to help their neighbors; local volunteers and others coming from out of state to help rescue people in need. This is yet another opportunity for us to come together in care and concern for our fellows.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. To see what she’s working on, visit her website: http://www.reneebatesartist.com. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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The Secret, a Perspective on a Book

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Currently, I am reading a book titled “The Secret,” written by Rhonda Byrne. Released in 2006, I remembered hearing about it at the time. I’m listening to the author narration, and she sounds like she grew up in the same neighborhood as Nicole Kidman, with a pleasant Australian accent. At the time of release, the book was championed twice on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and it spent 146 weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list. The message is about the law of attraction and subscribes to gratitude and visualization as keys. Intriguing and controversial in its message, it has been widely questioned and parodied.

In my life, I feel much more connected and in a positive flow when I am grateful and determined to have a joy-filled day. It is especially helpful to remind myself to treat everyone I come into contact with in kindness. Everything is better when I do this.

The book claims that if you act-as-if and feel-as-if you already have what you are seeking, you put yourself on the same frequency as the thing you seek and doing so attracts it to you. The book references other books written over time and claims that Plato, Leonardo, Galileo, Napoleon, Hugo, Beethoven, Lincoln, Edison, Einstein, and Carnegie all knew of “The Secret” and used its power. The book includes quotes about using faith, including “‘And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive’ (King James Bible, Matt. 21:22)” and, “‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours’ (New International Version Bible, Mark 11:24)”
I don’t know that I can believe everything I have read regarding visioning my way into wealth, health, and relationship success, but it certainly is a good reminder to practice the golden rule and to continue to have faith.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Women’s Policy

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With the recent presidential election, I have become more interested in human rights. Women’s rights and our impact upon government are particularly top of mind. While looking for information I came across the website, StatusofWomenData.org, a project of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.  Compilations of information about women’s lives nationwide are ranked state by state on topics of employment & earnings, poverty & opportunity, work & family, violence & safety, reproductive rights, health & well-being and political participation. For Tennessee, our highest ranking among these topics was 34th, with a C- for employment & earnings. Yes, our highest ranking.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women, promote public dialog, and strengthen families, communities, and societies. IWPR works with policymakers, scholars, and public interest groups to design, execute, and disseminate research that illuminates economic and social policy issues affecting women and families and to build a network of individuals and organizations that conduct and use women-oriented policy research. I invite you to explore its resources.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Sexism in America

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As host of The Daily Show Jon Stewart brought us a fun and sometimes uncomfortable view of ourselves, getting through the news of the day with humor while making serious points. I miss his expressive face delivering smartly written reports.

After the recent loss for our first woman presidential candidate, particularly for the younger women who feel scared and unsure of the future because of the sexist history of the president-elect, it is good to know there are smart people out there who will shine a light on the issues.

From the workplace to the campus, to politics, “…with consistently perfect delivery, Stewart mocked and ridiculed sexism while acknowledging its dangerous impact on the way women live,” writes Amanda Duberman in the article, “11 Times Jon Stewart Threw Down For Feminism” on Huffington Post. Here are some excerpts from the show and the article in its entirety:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jon-stewarts-most-feminist-moments_us_55c0cf94e4b06f8bedb5f5e2

Trevor Noah, the new host of The Daily Show, is worth watching. He brings a unique perspective, being raised in South Africa.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Keeping up with Mileage

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Tax deductions, we all need them, right? For many of us, miles driven for business are deductible on our tax returns. According to the IRS, beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be 54 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 57.5 cents for 2015. 19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down from 23 cents for 2015.

An easier way to document miles is right here on our smartphone. I recently learned about this helpful app from The Rayna Corporation’s Lori Gonzalez (thank you). Lori seems to have a shortcut for just about any business task. It’s good to know people like her. The application, MILEIQ, downloadable from Google Play or The APP Store, has automatic drive detection; making it easy to capture every mile I drive – yes, automatically. Every drive can have a purpose; “a swipe is all it takes.” I will mark them as business, personal, medical, charity or any custom category I wish to label. I can log any additional details that will be needed for reporting mileage expenses to any specific job or simply mark for two categories: business and pleasure. Deducting mileage for my art business will be easy to prove. Since the IRS requires you keep a log when you are taking the deduction, there will be a lot less effort in documenting from now on.

Anything that makes life easier, and every dollar counts, right?

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Web Presence

 

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These days, to legitimize a business, it must have a website. Gone is the time when pulling out the yellow pages or calling “information” got you the contact information for the business or service you wanted. Today, most people “google” what they are looking for on the web.

An effective website can cost as little as $12 per month. A website can be a simple landing page, or something with multiple pages, showing a range of home services, a professional practice, product, art or charity. It can be multi-functional to include direct sales, connect to your social media, have forms or applications for download, submission, and provide a blog that allows for comments, or not.

When I began my website, I was afforded an array of options to build from with providers like Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix. It was a year ago, and now there are even more from which to choose. The first thing I did was secure a domain name. You can search from the build sites, or go to a domain host like “GoDaddy” and type in what you want and see if it is available then you purchase the use of the name /address on the web for a year or multiple years. Other actions will include writing a bio for yourself, or a description of your business or service. Just as important, choose images to “tell your story.” Images are the universal language and set the tone of your message.

Recently, I was helping a friend with her website. Looking through several images that she had on hand, none were simple or bold enough She decided to take some photos that were in line with the image from the sample website that she had liked. Hire a professional to take custom images, a headshot, and other images as they relate to your business because it is necessary to set the proper mood and message. There are also providers where you can buy images such as Adobe, iStockphoto, and Dreamstime. among others.

Use an editor always for good copy, and hire a professional web developer if tech is not your strong suit. You can get online editing help with Grammarly though nothing replaces a human editor.

The old adage is true, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Another comes to mind, “It’s too late to shut the gate when the horse has left the barn.”

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville in 2015. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Permission to Create

Big MagicWorking as a creative person, I identify when hearing other creatives’ experiences and struggles.  Elizabeth Gilbert is one such person.  Her book Eat, Pray, Love, which chronicled her adventure of travel to pursue the three things that she most wanted to feel and be immersed in, connected with millions of people.

Her latest book, Big Magic, was a good listen for me.  She went through all the funky negatives we tell ourselves that keep us from creating.  She also gave examples of beloved pieces of art where people carved out a few pieces of time a day to create them.  I like the way she encourages us to create, not for money, not for success, but just for our happiness.

People talk to me about my art like I have a special gift.  I see how people are moved when I tell them about my experience of taking a painting class for the first time, and how I embraced it and knew it was something I wanted to pursue.  I appreciate that people are moved and inspired, and I understand that I have an ability to do what I do, but I don’t believe that I have anymore of a gift than anyone else, except that I became willing to give myself permission.  And what that meant was giving myself the tools that I needed to adventure, hence the painting class.  It was a long time in pause and in the “I don’t know if I can,” or “I don’t think I would be good,” since I had my first drawing class in the mid-1990’s.  Before the class, I could not draw good stick people, but I just wasn’t ready to carve out the time, or venture further, for almost twenty years.

So Elizabeth’s book is another tool, of encouragement, of permission to continue exploring, working toward something I want to achieve.

I hope you will give yourself permission to explore your interests.

Renee Bates

August 1, 2016

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit Greenways for Nashville to pursue art and product development.  Renee likes being in nature, hiking, birding, and working in the garden. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, a 3rd generation business begun in 1932. Renee admires the fact that it was begun by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.  Renee’s art may be enjoyed from her website or followed on Facebook.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Artist Tech

Renee's Tomatoes

Spineless? Never!, 8” x 10” oil, © Renée Bates

As a painter, I use technology for capturing the light, or a moment in time.  I work as a plein air and studio painter.  Plein air is a term defined as pertaining to a manner or style of painting developed chiefly in France in the mid-19th century, characterized by the representation of the luminous effects of natural light and atmosphere as contrasted with the artificial light and absence of the sense of air or atmosphere associated with paintings produced in the studio.  Plein air can also be defined as designating a painting executed out of doors and representing a direct response to the scene or subject in front of the artist.  Lastly, a plein air painting is defined as having the qualities of air and natural light.

The business of “chasing the light,” as the sun moves across a scene, can make an artist crazy or in the least, make for a poor painting.  The “values,” or light and dark bits, are what make the thing read, even more than the color.  If you cannot capture it all quickly, you will lay out a painting, work it for a bit, then take a photograph and finish in the studio.  Technology is most helpful here.  The artist of former centuries had to work fast, or they had photographic memories.

I am probably most grateful for cell phones with quality cameras. A photography instructor recently said, “The best camera is the one you have with you.”  True. I regularly capture wildlife shots and beautiful horticulture with my phone camera. While it doesn’t get great detail at far distances, it does afford me many action shots.

When setting up plein air, I will often look through the lens at a scene for scale or, take a photograph and use the cropping tool to decide how I want to lay it out on canvas.  Back at the studio, with Photoshop and similar software, I will sometimes punch up the color in an image, or blur it for a more impressionistic effect.  I will work from a print or use the computer monitor to view as my source. I like to blow up flowers with the cropping software to achieve an abstract view.

When a painting is nearly there, I will take a photograph to see how well I have communicated with the lights and darks, and I’ll always find areas that need tweaking.

Using photos to electronically market on websites and social media is current practice for most artists.  The technology with these platforms has improved dramatically in the last couple of years.  I created a website in just eight hours.  I look forward to seeing how much better technology will be in five years.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit Greenways for Nashville to pursue art and product development.  Renee likes being in nature, hiking, birding, and working in the garden. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, a 3rd generation business begun in 1932. Renee admires the fact that it was begun by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.  Renee’s art may be enjoyed from her website or followed on Facebook.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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To Trim, or Not to Trim

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My friend Marina sent me a note today, and I asked her if I might share it with you.  She said, “Regular therapy and gardening therapy are about the same price range.  They both create a special type of beauty in seeing and feeling and being at one with one’s life.”  This was nice, and I agree that it is therapeutic.  For me, trimming and pulling weeds do it, and they are both free.  Now I don’t propose a replacement for regular therapy, but for a supplement, absolutely.

“When can I cut back my hydrangea? Is it o.k. to trim my crape myrtle now? “I often get asked about this around this time of year, April. I’m glad to answer these perennial questions. (pun intended) I thought you might like to hear some rules about trimming that might inspire a venture into your outdoor therapy:

1. If it blooms in the early spring, do not cut it now. Wait until just after it finishes the blooming cycle unless you are willing to sacrifice blooms this year. Examples would be Oakleaf and Hydrangea macrophylla (the old-fashioned blue or pink ones), lilac, azalea, and rhododendron. Even if you think stems are dead on your hydrangea, wait, I tell you. I have removed what I thought was dead only to realize I cut the bloom stock off by mistake.

Hydrangea paniculata varieties like Annabelle and Limelight bloom on new growth. Trim those in late winter, before new growth appears. February in Middle Tennessee works well. The paniculata grow stronger when trimmed back from 4” to 12” above the ground. Leave the sturdier stems up to 18-24” long on the Tardiva hydrangea.  You may also allow it to be taller and tree form shaped.
2. “Can I cut my crape myrtle now?” Yes, even though the leaves have begun appearing, is not a terrible thing, if you must. They won’t die however, we have a term for the look of wholesale trunk decapitation: Crape Murder. You see these all over the place, flatly cut off. Yuck. The plants are prolific foliage producers and burst back out at these points, but I don’t like it. I prefer to leave the branching alone. Simply thin out the smaller trunks, and remove spindly branches from the heads in favor of larger ones. In this way, that elegant line leading your eye from the ground to the tip end, uninterrupted. Artistry in nature.
3. When can I trim my boxwoods? Preferably, late winter but if it has gotten past and you must, trim them anytime before August 1. The reasoning is that new growth will have time to get tough before the freezes of winter come. This is also true about holly, and most hedge type plants. Freeze damage looks yellow, dry and dead, and nobody wants to see that.
4. “What do I need to do about my azaleas and rhododendron to make them bloom better?” Fertilize them three times, May 1, June 1 and July 1. I know, it’s not about trimming, but it is a frequent question. There are other plants that use those dates in a different way: Chrysanthemums. If you have these late summer beauties in the landscape and want them to bloom prolifically in the fall, cut 1/3 of the plant off each time at those same calendar intervals and you will have a bounty of blossoms. Don’t forget to fertilize. I like organic everything so bone meal, worm castings, or both if you are serious. All of my blooming shrubs and perennials do well with these.

This spring I’ve taken hundreds of photographs for possible paintings later. The bright colors of blooms and light green foliage on the trees is irresistible. The photo above shows a Flame Azalea, which is a rhododendron, and also a native. I am partial to orange, a fun, and social color.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

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Listening for Effect

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Since becoming a full-time artist, I spend a lot of time working alone. When I worked in an office building, I sometimes hummed while working, or played the radio. I tried to keep the humming confined to my personal office. Now that I am working on my own, I often listen to music or audiobooks, enriching the day, making me feel happier, and engaged, or something. I tend to use particular types of music at varying stages of a painting. At the start, instrumental music of the classical nature, or contemporary stringed instruments. No lyrics to distract, just instrumentals to inspire.  After I am well into a piece and feeling the direction is solid, I move to pop or rock, something with a good beat.  When feeling free and focused while cooking or cleaning, I sometimes turn the rock up loud. Music has always played a major role in my life, having begun playing piano and violin in grade school.

Curious if others used music as a tool to achieve certain moods or effects, I polled some friends. A professional therapist said she did not listen at work though she used classical, instrumental music to unwind and the hearing of her favorites station invoked a visceral relaxation effect.

An attorney friend said she didn’t listen at work because it was difficult to focus and her mind would shift away from the task at hand. For cooking she enjoyed classic rock & roll; for resolving angst, Bonnie Raitt or other blues artists and for background music for parties, it was folk rock or classical. She pointed out that music lifts spirits and is a great way to connect with other people.

Another attorney listens to specific classical composers, technically baroque music. “It perks me up and makes me feel happier,” she said. She uses classic rock like The Beatles, to inspire housework. Particular music was so tied to an activity that actual pieces affect her mood and thoughts. For example, some classical guitar that she listened to when reading a favorite author could bring her thoughts immediately to plot points in her books. Some Bach pieces for cello reminds her of the soundtrack from Schindler’s List and produces a “downer” feeling because of the atrocities of WWII and Auschwitz.

A business consultant friend listens to jazz, mostly contemporary jazz, and if she needs to concentrate deeply, complete quiet. For relaxing, she chooses the smooth jazz of Boney James, Walter Beasley, Marion Meadows, and Chris Botti, to name a few. She noted that her 22-year-old son listened to jazz through headphones while studying. Ah, youth!

What are you listening to for effect?
About Renee
Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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