ART BY HAAS
ART BY HAAS

 Gallery

"Storm in My Mind"    Price $150  size of print 18x24
By Dwelia T. Haas
(A story to go with the print) 

It is hard for me to describe the painting " Storm in My Mind". I have trouble describing it from the viewer's perspective. So if I get some of the placement of symbols in the painting wrong remember I painted this picture from the inside out.
I have several storms in my mind. I guess everyone who lives in south Mississippi has the most recent storm in his or her mind. The storm in the painting was painted after Katrina. The original hangs in my sister in law's house. Katrina gave her house about 14 feet of water where it had never flooded before.
My husband is from Bay St. Louis. His family and childhood friends lost everything. His brother's family became my heroes after the storm. We helped them as much as they would let us, but with God's help they are home now. Everyone I know had a hard time during and after the storm. I had old friends that drove hundreds of miles to see about their families and me because we had no phones.
The painting is a whirlwind. Kind of how my mind was after the storm. The catfish are swirling around as if the are caught in a tornado going in a hurricane direction. The eye is a magnolia being destroyed. The magnolia is the flower of Mississippi and Louisiana.
On the left corner are Mardi Gras beads for our neighbors in New Orleans. Some of the beads were tossed to the right top corner. That means that Katrina moved some of the people from New Orleans to my home Jones County. There are some beads on the left top to symbolize how some of New Orleans residents were moved as if they were tossed to northern cities in Louisiana.
The crab on the right corner of the painting is eating a butterfly. He is a creature from the sea. He shows how the sea destroyed the beautiful gulf coast especially my family's love Bay St Louis. You can see thorns at the bottom of this picture surrounding the whirlwind. This shows how it hurt my heart deeply to see the destruction from the coast to Jackson.
The birds are like my spirit and my son's spirit. We just wanted to leave. We had thought about leaving before the storm, but we did not know how bad it was going to be. The feelings of wanting to get away even multiplied after the storm when we saw all the work we had to do with no running water and electricity.
Everything is winding in the painting. That is how it seemed in my mind after the storm. When our roads were finally passable they never seemed so long and never seemed to have so many curves. A power pole blocked my driveway, so my son and I drove through my yard to get to my mother's house. I had to park and walk some of the way. It was a feeling that I had never experienced to be surrounded by destruction and longing for a hug from the human who loves me most. Oh, how thankful, I was when I saw my mama's face.
There are other things like glass, shingles, nails, a water bottle top, pine limbs and bugs in the painting. I will never forget not being able to put my two-year-old niece down on the ground because of all the glass everywhere. Some of the glass was beautiful, and it was everywhere. Where there was no glass there was love bugs. It seemed after the storm we had to sweep mountains of love bugs up. We knew that people who came to help from out of state would always remember all the love bugs in south Mississippi.

"Storm Surge"          Price $150 size of print 16x24             
By Dwelia T. Haas
(a story to go with the print)

    Thankfully, I did not experience the storm surge that hit the coast on the 29th.  I have heard stories from people who did experience the storm surge. Their stories have kept me up at night.  
     I saw the painting that I named "Storm Surge" in a dream. The painting that I viewed in my dream is very similar to the one I painted. The one in my dream had more neutral colors than the one I painted.  Two different pictures one is a real painting and one in a dream.  Two stories told. One story by the people who experienced the storm surge, and the other story of the surge in my painting. 
     I think that when people look at the painting they can imagine a real surge. When I view the painting I imagine sea creatures such as fish being disturbed. The fish have been tossed in the air and onto the land.   I imagine the water becoming a great giant.  It is as if reality has been reversed. In reality fishermen toss their nets in the water to drag treasures from the sea. In the surge painting the sea is an organic net that has been tossed on our land to catch everything we think of as being important and dragging it back to sea.
    There is a circle at the top of the left side of the painting and another circle at the bottom of the painting. This tells me that the storm lasted all day. The anchor on the right side of the painting being tossed around shows me that even the things that we thought would keep us sturdy is no match for the surge. The surge takes what we think is secure and lifts it away. 
    The main character in the painting is a pelican. He stands strong with his wings slightly stretched.  This makes me think of the people who protected others in the real surge. Compared to the surge those people are frail but for some reason God made them strong that stormy day. 

"Jourdan River"  Price $175 size 36x18
By Dwelia Haas
(a story to go with the print)

     After the storm we were without water and electricity for several days.  There was a motel that had water but no electricity not far from our home. My family and I rented a room at that motel just to take showers. The water was so cold that it would take my breath, but as soon as I stepped out into the motel room I would start sweating again. It was a hot box.  Well, it was a blessing that we had the room rented, because the motel got electricity a week before my home. So for a week we would work in the neighborhood and then go to the motel to sleep at night. 
     We took some old rabbit ears and hooked them up to the motel's television. When I had watched news programs before the storm, I had never thought about people in disaster areas not being able to see themselves on television during interviews.  My family knew how strong the storm had been in south Mississippi because we experienced it, but we did not know how wide the path of destruction had been till we saw the news on the television at the motel. On the news that first night, I saw a nurse being interviewed from a medical center that had been flooded during the storm. The nurse had described looking out the medical center window and seeing the floodwaters go by. She said that she saw alligators, snakes and fish from the window. The way she described it made me think of a window looking into an aquarium.  This is when I got the idea to paint the picture I named "Jourdan River". 
    The painting, "Jourdan River", has swirling colors of floodwaters with creatures that have been washed from their swampy home to an urban medical center. It seems like a surreal thought that came true when the storm caused creatures that don't belong in the city to arrive there so abruptly. 
    I went home the morning after seeing the nurse being interviewed and brought a canvas and paints to the motel. I spread newspaper all over the floor of the motel room and started my process. It was wonderful to get to paint. It was such a release of emotion.  Just like a good night's sleep, I needed to paint. The results of the process are somewhat pleasing to my eye.  I hope it is pleasing to most eyes.  From what I understand, Mrs. Carrie Frigo purchased the original painting "Jourdan River" at Justduit Again in Bay St. Louis for her husband Dr. Chris Frigo.  Because of the painting, the creatures from the flood are once again in an urban environment, but this time they are just hanging out on the wall in the doctor's office. 

"Mrs. Mac's Pond Debris"    Price $70 size of print 22x11
   by  Dwelia T. Haas
(a story to go with the print)

     I had been working on one of my fish paintings that eventually became  "Mrs. Mac's Pond Debris" when I remembered my friend telling me about her mother's pond getting destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.  You could tell that my friend was really worried about the pond because she mentioned the pond debris every time we talked. My friend told me about all the trees that were uprooted or snapped into her mother's pond. She was worried that all the debris that fell into the pond would kill the fish.  My friend's mother, Mrs. Mac, has ducks too. The elderly kind ladies were worried about the ducks getting tangled in the debris. That makes my mind think of another "to be debris" painting that could include a duck. 
     Anyway, my imagination got the best of me.  I could visualize what a pond in Mississippi would have in it after a storm.  Since my neighborhood was full of debris, I had plenty of inspiration.  Red roof shingles were first to come to my mind.  Flowers, oak leaves, nails, personal things such as jewelry were added to the painting.   I added seashells that traveled to a place that they normally would not be, and then I added things from New Orleans like the Mardi Gras beads.   I put a reflection of a hurricane in the eye of the colorful fish.  A bottle's cap and of course a love bug were added to make the picture complete. 
      Unlike the description of the real Mrs. Mac's pond catastrophe, the pond in my imagination was beautiful because it was full of things that remind me of Mississippi (especially the pine needles).  With God's help Mrs. Mac's ducks and fish have survived Katrina's mess. The pond has been cleaned and the debris has been taken away, but the imagination of a Mississippi pond with storm debris is now on canvas for everyone to see, and I call that painting "Mrs. Mac's Pond Debris". 

​"Lift My Hands Up"      Price $100  size of print 18x24

By Dwelia Haas

( a story to go with the print)  

     Today when my husband and I went to Sunday school, our church bulletin had the words “Lift Your Heart Up” printed on the cover. We could not believe those words were printed on the bulletin, because I finished the painting “Lift My Hands Up” earlier this morning. 

     I started the painting on the day of the anniversary of the storm.  I finished it today on September 24, 2006. I am thankful that I am still here to praise the Lord.  I had my husband sit in front of the canvas and I traced his hands reaching up.  I wanted it to look like hands reaching up to our heavenly Father, just like a small child reaches for his earthly father. Then I started painting a celebration of praise. I believe that was why I was created. I was created to praise the Lord.  I admit I don’t do a good job of praising Him most of the time, however this month I have really enjoyed talking and singing to Him while I painted “Lift My Hands Up”.

    I sang a song while I painted.  I sang the words out loud, and I sang it by making no earthly sound but screaming the words in my soul. I sang the words feeling so much gratitude that my human self can not described .The words of the song:

Do you how I love?

Do you know how I fear?

Do you know how a sing,

“Hallelujah I’m still here”?

Hallelujah

Hal  le  lu  jah

Hallelujah

Hal  le lu  jah

Hallelujah

Hal le lu jah

Hallelujah, I’m still here.

    I am thankful tonight that I am still alive here on God’s earth to praise Him. I am thankful for getting to talk with Him, and I hope He is pleased.  I lift more than my hands to Him. I lift my whole being. I know that when I call His name that His love will rain on not just me but my whole family.

     Now you may not know how I love and you may not know how I fear, but I have expressed how I sing “Hallelujah I’m still here” in a painting that I call “ Lift My Hands Up”.  I hope that everyone who sees the painting will lift their hands just because they are still here and praise the One who loves them the most. 

   

 

 

 

"The Flood Recedes"  Price $100 size of print 12x18
By Dwelia Haas
(a story to go with the print)

     Before the storm my aunt liked to take photos of seagulls sitting on pilings at her friend Charlotte's boathouse in Biloxi.  Charlotte lost everything including her boathouse in the storm. During the storm she had to stand in water for 5 hours. Well, maybe Charlotte did not lose everything because she still has her friends. I am sure her friendships will last an eternity. 
     I tried to communicate that the worst is over in my painting called  "The Flood Recedes".  I put all the colors in the rainbow in the painting to remind us of God's promise. He loves and blesses us even after the storm.  The painting is a seagull holding an oak leaf, like the dove held the olive leaf in the story of Noah.  The oak leaf in the painting is from the Mississippi gulf coast's famous friendship oak.  The sky is filled with little shapes that make me think of angels (friends from other states that came to help after the storm). I hope that the painting will make us realize that storms in our lives come and they go. They take what we think is important at this time, but they really can not take why we are here. Storms can not take our friendship with the one who created us.

“Hungry Anyone?”   Price $35  size of print 9x9

   By Dwelia Haas

(a story to go with the print)

 

     I drew a picture of the big brown pelican with a fish for a coloring book.  My cousin, Kristen Twedt, who wrote the book that I was blessed to illustrate, “ My Crazy Christmas Catastrophe Cat”, told me that the picture was too good for a coloring book. Her opinion has always meant the world to me, so I put the picture of the pelican with my other so-called color book drawings to the side and waited for the time to paint them. 

    The bird is so comical looking. He looks at me as if he is saying this fish is to big for one bird so join me. That is how I came up with the name

 “ Hungry Anyone?”.   When I showed the painting to my aunt, she commented that the fish looked like he could be fried up really good.   I guess she was thinking that the pelican was ready to share too! 


 

     "Daddy Caught It on a Hook"    Price $35 size of print 9x9 

    By Dwelia Haas

    (a story to go with the print)

 

     I remember my sister reciting a rhyme about a fish in a Brooke that daddy caught on a hook.  That old rhyme describes my family life since my daddy is the all time recreational south Mississippi fisherman, my mama is the all time greatest cook and my brother, even when he was a baby, he could definitely eat like a man.

   My mama has told me several times that my daddy never wants to die. It is like as long as he is breathing Mississippi air, that he is in his heaven.  That man has spent so much time at every pond, lake, Native American named creek and river from Jackson to the coast fishing that he should have been able to feed a small nation.  The man has been blessed and he is a blessing to us. My sister, brother and I are thankful to be the children of our Mississippi fisherman, and I am thankful to have painted the picture “Daddy Caught It on A Hook”. 

   

The Wet Pelican   Price $50  size of print 16x13

By Dwelia Haas

(a story to go with the print)

 

     This pelican painting was in my sister- in- law’s house in Bay St Louis when Katrina hit. Katrina unloaded 14 feet of water on the little pelican painting.  My husband brought the painting back home to Ellisville to see if I could clean it up. I tried my best to clean it up, but I guess sea birds don’t have to be spotless to be beautiful.

    It is hard to remember what I was thinking when I painted the little painting. I do know that I was trying to paint a happy painting.  There are rocks and waves all around the little sea bird, but he is only interested in looking up. He does not seem to be worried as he shakes out his wet feathers. I guess he knows where his food really comes from. It comes from above.  So this little wet pelican in my painting says his blessings before he enjoys his sea feast. 

Returned                 Price $30 size of print 6x6
By Dwelia T. Haas
(A story to go with the print)

     The print called "Returned" is a print of an original painting titled "Blue Mardi Gras Crab".  The original painting, "Blue Mardi Gras Crab", was hanging in Justduit, a gift shop in Bay St. Louis, on the day of the storm. Katrina took the store and everything in it.  She left concrete and sand where there was once a happy little nautical gift shop. 
     When the storm had passed Justduit's shop owner, Elise Haas, was determined to reopen her unique store.  First she got a FEMA trailer and then she started working on getting her store back. She knew that she would not be able to return to the beachfront property for years so she reopened Justduit inland. She added Again to the name of the Justduit store.  She hung a large banner outside the store that said Justduit Again Bay St Louis.  Justduit Again was one of the first stores to open after Katrina. Everyone that visited Justduit Again that Christmas felt like the store was an oasis from the debris-covered town.  
    No one knew what had happened to the contents of the original store.  The only thing found was one of the store's Justduit T-shirts several blocks from the first store. Then amazingly two little paintings were rescued. A coast resident found the little crab painting and a small magnolia painting and put the paintings in the trunk of his car.  When Justduit Again opened the man brought the little paintings home to Justduit.  Coated with sand and looking a little distressed the tough little "Blue Mardi Gras Crab" had returned to it's home just like the people of the coast had returned to their home, beautiful Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. 

River’s Deer     Price $30  size of print 8 and one half x 6

 By Dwelia T. Haas

(A story to go with the print)

 

     I wanted to watercolor a little deer picture during my spare time, so when I had a break I started using watercolors, markers, colored pencils and whatever else was close at hand to create a little deer painting. While I was painting I was thinking of what would I name such a painting.  It looked like a painting you would see in a child’s room, so I named the picture after my principal’s baby boy, River. I called the painting “River’s Deer”.

    While I was playing with the painting my printer called. She had my prints, “A Storm In My Mind”, finished.  I jumped in my car and drove to pick up the prints.  When I walked in the shop my printer, Patricia Sumrall, told me how much she liked the painting called “A Storm in My Mind”.  She called her little granddaughter, Sarah Beth, over to look at the painting.  The child was honest. She said that she did not like the painting called “A Storm in My Mind”. Sarah Beth said she did not like the painting because there was an old crab eating the butterfly in the painting. I smiled at Sarah and said that art did not always have to be pretty.  I tried to explain that the crab in the painting was a symbol of the sea and the butterfly was the beautiful gulf coast. I told her the painting, “ A Storm in My Mind”, was to tell a story not to be pretty.

    I thought of Sarah Beth all the way home. I was worried that my painting had made her sad. When I sat back down in front of “River’s Deer”, I took a pen and drew a butterfly close to the deer’s nose.  This made a happy picture with a butterfly not being eaten but making friends with a little deer. I took the painting called “River’s Deer” to the printer’s shop and gave it to my new favorite art critic, Sarah Beth. I think she liked it. She told me she was going to hang it in her room. 

 

 “Mother’s Day”           Price $100  size of print 15x24

by Dwelia Haas

(A story to go with the print)

 

   I don’t know what it feels like to be a son. I will never be able to describe the experience of having a daughter. Those are two experiences of life along with being orphaned and other family relationships that I have not experienced.  I can only listen to others as they describe such relationships.  The thoughts of family relationships that I have not experienced can only contrast or compliment my experiences to form the weaving of my perception of human life.

    I find to imagine how others feel about their mothers fascinating. I like to imagine feelings that are different than my personal feelings of my own mother.  Mother and child relationships are so personal that only two unique individuals could create such relationship in each exclusive family tree. Two individuals which were for some mysterious purpose magnetically placed together for part or all of their lives.

   The mother in the painting is sharing a moment in time on the Mississippi gulf coast with her sons. A moment that they may not remember but still a moment well spent.  The moment shared in the painting is not a moment of hurt or sorrows but a moment of curiosity.  I suspect that is my suggestion of what mothers should do. Mothers should share moments of wonder to small children so those children can imagine and feel something that does not physically exist. Shared moments that shuttle imagination, which create a weaving of the relationships in the offspring’s life. The mother in the painting shares wonder with her small sons.

   Painting is what I do to share a moment of wonder. Sometimes I pretend that I am the mother and the viewer is my child. Maybe the viewers of “Mother’s Day” will wonder and imagine how it feels to be in a unique place with one that loves them. I hope the painting makes everyone experience the wonder of a special day that can be any day of the year. See the painting that I call “Mother’s Day.”

 

"Gulf Fish"   Price  $45  size of print 14x7

by Dwelia Haas

(a story to go with the print)

 

My stomach does not get along with sea fishing. I will leave that to others. I just don’t like a lot of motion. I am not one for roller coasters or plane rides either.  When I was young I did not mind the motion but now I just like to move slowly.

My imagination moves enough for me. When I painted Gulf Fish I pictured being under the sea and looking up at what I think is a rainbow. The rainbow is not one in the sky. The rainbow is a gulf fish slowly swimming above me. I wonder if there is a promise that goes along with seeing a gulf fish rainbow. I don’t need a promise, I just wonder if there is one. 

The painting “Gulf Fish” was actually emerged in gulf water. It was hanging in my sister-in-law’s house when Katrina baptized it with 14 feet of water. So this is a print of a fish painting that was in the gulf water. I cleaned the original up and my sister-in-law hung it back up in her newly decorated home.  I will make my sister-in-law a promise. My promise to her is that she will always have a painting of mine to decorate her home as long as I am blessed to paint.  

     

 

 Connoisseur           Price $50  size of print 18x9
  by Dwelia Haas
 (a story to go with the print)
     Once again my mama’s yard was the inspiration for another painting.  After looking at my mama’s persimmon tree, I knew that I had to paint it. The tree is beautiful. The persimmon fruit is just spectacular. I am sure the tree will be an inspiration for many of my future paintings, but in this painting I added a Mississippi persimmon connoisseur.
      Is there a better connoisseur of persimmons than a raccoon?  I remember when I was young hearing a story about how the raccoon got his mask. I also remember a story of how a man was turned into a coon by some Great Spirit. I think the story said that the man was turned into a raccoon because he did not follow a Great Spirit’s instructions. The man was told to go to another land by the Great Spirit but instead the man chose to stuff himself with so many delicious persimmons and got so fat that he could not travel.  This made the Great Spirit so mad that he turned the man into a raccoon.
     You know that the south has its share of fat raccoons. I remember camping at the beach one time and seeing coons as big as dogs. My aunt that lives in Biloxi shared a funny fat raccoon story with me. She said that her neighbor had a coon for a pet. The coon ate so much that he could not climb down from the tree. My aunt’s neighbor built the fat raccoon a tree house and a platform so that he could spend his obese life living in his special tree never having to come down. I just can not picture a coon so fat that he can not climb down from a tree but it is a good story. 
    I hope the painting of my not so obese coon makes everyone smile that sees it. Unlike my aunt’s neighbor’s pet, I don’t want to spend my life in a tree.  I did enjoy the small part of my life spent drawing a raccoon in my mama’s persimmon tree.