Thoughts on Seeing and Designing a Painting

Most of us are unaware that our cultural conditioning, our perceptions are influenced by the media today. Instant everything.

We live and are immersed in the digital age. INSTANT EVERYTHING.

We come to believe that everything is equally important. When one designs a canvas, it’s important to know that the bottom of the canvas has more weight and therefore more significance in your painting.

Where to place ones’ attention in a painting is similar to designing one’s life. The edges of the canvas, like the edges of our lives, want less attention. This is a difficult concept for all of us. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we can have it all, all the time. We know this is false, but we do become disaffected when it’s truth is born out in our lives. Knowing when to let go of false or insipid information is important in our paintings and in our spiritual/soul life.

These are the challenges we set for ourselves in the Artists in Bloom Ministry. We are called a ministry because we are a community of people on the journey to God. For me, this is the Christian Trinity. However, we are joined by faithful Hindu’s and faithful Muslims, and faithful people, sharing our work and journey. It is not fashionable today to say that we are doing soul work. That this class is as much about spirituality as it is about paint and canvas.

Let us try to budge the logs in the forest of our eyes and see everything as new again, as if for the first time!

Meet our artist extraordinaire, Eileen Vernon

Eileen Vernon has a life long interest in oil painting five years ago she joined the Artists in Bloom ministry of well-known artist Virginia Cascarilla. Under Gini’s guidance, she has gained self-confidence and is finding her individual voice as an artist.

Eileen’s work has evolved from imitative to constructing an authentic image. Eileen’s work is representational, but not imitative. Each work vibrates with profound understanding of her subject matter. Her paintings give evidence to not only her subject’s soul, but her own bountiful person.


Eileen and her husband, Don, were charter members of The Bay Village Foundation in 1997, where Eileen remains on the board for over 20 years. She helped organize the first Foundation Memorial Day gathering in 2002 and chaired the Honors Plaque program since it’s beginning. She served as Executive director of the Foundation for a few years and as its president for 9 years. She is currently active with the Community Fireworks Committee and the Live Theater in Bay, and, she serves as a lector and Eucharistic minister at St. Raphael’s Catholic Church.

Eileen was one of the drivers of the Community Fireworks Fund that helped save the community’s fireworks display, helped raise the funds for the repair of the City Hall clock; and, as President, she kicked off the plans to refurbish Play-in-Bay

Eileen and her husband Don have been residents of Bay for 32 years. She was debate coach at Bay High School 1985-1988. She served as Executive Director of The Cleveland International Volunteer Organizations. She graduated from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1991. Eileen became the Regional Vice President of The American Arbitration Association for twelve years before retiring in 2005.

Before coming to Bay Village Eileen taught speech and debate at Bradley University and hosted a daily talk show for 12 years on WZOE Princeton Ill radio. Eileen and her husband Don are proud parents of Jan, Donna and Christina. They have 8 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

We are thrilled to have this fireball who works for the common good and evidences God’s Love, to us all.

Seascape by Eileen
A Seascape, 2017. As with all of Eileen’s work, we focus on finding generalized shapes and values which record the artist’s sensibility on painting. We are not painting xerox images, but paintings filtered through our soul.
Don's Catch by Eileen
Don’s Catch
Where Papa Worked by Eileen
Where Papa Worked by Eileen
Fluffy Sleeping by Eileen
Fluffy Sleeping by Eileen, 2017
Nephew by Eileen, 2016
Nephew by Eileen, 2016
Arizona By Eileen
Arizona By Eileen, 2017
In Progress
In Progress, 2017


Meet our Artists Extroadinaire, Nancy Marie Spotts and mother Udella Spotts

Nancy brings joy and good humor to the class and is deeply admired.

Meet Nancy Marie Spotts, our Artist Extroadinaire. Nancy is a Piano teacher as well as a Master Gardner. She brings warmth and soul to our community.


Nancy Marie has a unique style all her own as she finds the heart and soul of each painting she creates. Each subject Nancy paints is expressed uniquely, she doesn’t pretend to be a camera. Nancy paints the embodiment and essence of her subjects through the eyes of her soul. She is a unique and wonderful artist as well as master gardener and piano teacher.Udella left this world for the next and is missed by all who knew her.

Udella Spotts is sporting that brilliant Red Hat as we celebrate her daughter Nancy’s Birthday.

Udella Spotts, Nancy’s mother, was a wonderful lady who painted with the class until she was 90 years old. Udella’s work lies in the truth of its simplicity. Udella is a Master of color and design and with these two tools she finds the essence of each piece she paints. Udella worked as a waitress at Pier W for over 30 years, while raising four strong children, cooking and being a master gardener. The strength of both their paintings is that they find the soul of their subjects without pretense. They are well admired by her fellow artists and peers.

If you’d like to learn more about Artists in Bloom, volunteer or donate to our organization, contact us directly with this simple form.

Meet these SISTERS: Debbie O’Leary & Karen Kirk Artists Extraodinaire


Debbie and Karen, Artists and Sisters Extraordinaire
Debbie and Karen, Artists and Sisters Extraordinaire

Debbie’s Experience with Artist in Bloom Ministry

(c) Debbie O’Leary
(c) Debbie O’Leary
(c) Debbie O’Leary

I came to Virginia’s class, ‘Artists In Bloom Ministry’, after having seen her work and loving her style. She graciously invited me to come and although it was an almost 2 hr. drive, Virginia made it worth it. Not only have I developed as an artist but was blessed with the camaraderie and kindness of these special people in this class. My sister Karen and I have flourished in this setting, enjoying it all… such a blessing.

As a member of “Artists in Bloom”, I’ve experienced an amazing community of talented artists.I receive inspiration from the lovely pieces that come to life before my eyes!! Community brings camaraderie, friendship, trust and love. Today when I look at a reference to paint I see darks, lights and different tones of color and how these colors affect the mood of the work. I see technique and balance, negative space and foreground all impacting your piece as you make these decisions along the way.
My artistic voice or style is a work in progress. While painting in Virginia’s class I’ve been exposed to many styles and as my abilities increased often did my personal taste change as well. I believe as you continue to paint your style begins to emerge.

Debbie O’Leary
(c) Debbie O’Leary
(c) Debbie O’Leary
Debbie O’Learry
Painting Flowers that Sing
Debbie O’Leary
Beautiful Garlic

Both Karen and Debbie are painters of all that brings joy. Flowers, vegetables, and landscapes where nature and God reside. They have both contributed so much to our community, love, respect and joy. They are both learning to design their paintings to lead the viewers eye as well as painting in strong shapes with delicate brush strokes within. Each of their paintings are redemptive for themselves and for the viewer. … Virginia Cascarilla

Karen’s Experience with Artists in Bloom Ministry

When my talented sister, Debbie, decided to take oil painting classes from Gini (after seeing her beautiful show at Beck Center), I thought, “Why not?  I’ll be with my sister for a good part of the day.”  Debbie lives an hour and a half away and we don’t see each other as often as we’d like.  I had no intentions of learning to paint.  My purpose was entirely selfish.  Debbie would come, paint, learn and I’d be there with her just enjoying my “sister” time.
With prayer, encouragement and tons of patience, Gini has slowly turned me into a half way decent artist!  Not only have I learned to paint, I’ve been blessed to meet some pretty extraordinary, faithful, talented, compassionate, caring men and women.  It’s a beautiful ministry Gini has going on here. Not everyone is of the same faith but there is a strong common bond of  God and love.
Thank you Gini for giving us all a safe place to express ourselves and a place to occasionally ask for prayer and give thanks together.  God bless you and this fabulous ministry.

My appreciation for art has changed since joining Artists in Bloom Ministry.

Venice, Karen Kirk
Venice, Karen Kirk

Visually, I’ve grown to appreciate color and form in a totally different manner than I did before. In an artistic sense , I now see objects in shapes rather than seeing the whole thing . Today I will look at a building differently than I did before taking Virginia’s class. A building , now , is observed as rectangle upon rectangle, joined by squares and an occasional circle or arch … each shaded in a different hue to form a whole building . That may sound strange but this class has heightened my awareness , not only viewing objects of art, but also in observing nature , cities, machinery , …even people !!

This class also integrates different personality types . We each have our
different techniques, styles and appreciation of art . We may not all share the same love of the Masters , or abstract (modern) art…but we respect each others work , just as we accept and respect each others religious beliefs , culture , background , accomplishments and shortcomings . We are all children of God… sharing the creative talents that He gave each and every one of us…Karen Kirk

Karen Kirk
Spring Flowers
Karen Kirk
Foodie Time
Karen Kirk

My sister Karen has developed into an artist whose paintings I would purchase!! Her work is loose, vibrant and truly a joy to behold. My personal favorite is “Onions” I just love everything about it!!! Her color choice and application is amazing. Karen is a quick study, Virginia an awesome teacher….. each piece here is unique and Karen should be proud.

… Debbie O’Leary

Karen Kirk
Green Onions
Karen Kirk
The Bridge and Tree
Karen Kirk Love Everlasting
Karen Kirk
Sun Flowers
Karen Kirk
Dancing Trees

If you’d like to get involved with Artists in Bloom Ministry, we are actively looking for artists and potential artists. No experience necessary – just a desire to learn. Please contact founder Virginia Cascarilla for more information.

Comments about Debbie and Karen’s work


Karen’s art is exuberant. Her work is vital, alive, and sometimes just plain fun.

Debbie’s artwork creations are beautiful studies in composition, giving the viewer a peaceful and tranquil feeling.

…Theresa Weedon

Meet Joe McCrystal: Artist Extraordinaire

“This class (Artist in Bloom Ministry) has been a journey to artistic discovery and is why I named a painting THE AWAKENING. I had a skill that was dormant until the energy of this class and Ginny’s instruction brought it artist needs a point of view that could be called a visual philosophy. This has evolved over the last few years bringing confidence in creating a final product.” Joe McCrystal

Joe has grown as an artist. he simplifies his form. Yet it is multi layered and a road map of his experiences. Clarifying one’s image and moving the viewer’s eye witnesses Joe’s observation of life and relationships. … Virginia Cascarilla

What His Fellow Artists Have to Say:

“Joe has a gift. He is able to create a story in each of his paintings. The shapes, the lines starts a process that eventually turns into a wonderful, colorful narrative. His colors create different  moods. I’ve never appreciated abstract art until watching Joe paint. This talented man pores his heart and soul into a painting and I have observed shapes and lines becoming structures and stories. You have a God-given gift and you share your gift with each of us.  Thank you” – Karen Kirk

“Joe’s paintings are both lively and stimulating.  He has mastered the art of creating shapes with rhythm and harmony.  Joe creates some of the most stunning representational art I have seen.  I am always interested in seeing his next creation! -Theresa Weedon

“As a fellow student, I’ve seen an exceptional artist. I learned from his work and I credit Joe with being an artist that loves color; and, seeks out a diverse choice of subject matter. Joe is an excellent artist that could go it alone, but he is prepared for some of the “challenges” that Artist Virginia Cascarilla presents to him as he evolves into an exceptional artist.”  -Eileen Vernon

“It’s a privilege and an inspiration to my own artistic challenges, to observe the wonderful maturation and refinement in your painting. Your pieces truly reflect not only your talent, but your  deep appreciation for this opportunity for self growth. I look forward to many more beautiful pieces with your signature!”  -Jane

“Joe has never failed to amaze me. His ability to combine color and texture with movement, inviting the viewer to thoroughly enjoy each piece. His work is unique which is Virginia’s goal for us, to find our style and excel.”  Debbie O’Leary

Comments about Joe’s work are welcome. If you have any questions about the Artists in Bloom Ministry or would like to join, feel free to contact founder Virginia Cascarilla with any inquiries.